fame and shame · whine and cheese

Day 466: How does this make sense?

A prominent association of children’s authors and illustrators recently put out a statement condemning the rise in Antisemitic hate speech and violence. The statement was, I thought, very well written. It contained a link to this article about how Antisemitism forms the core of White Supremacist ideology. Below is a screenshot of the statement, or you can find it here.

Isn’t that nice? Well, it was, while it lasted. But then SCBWI came out with an apology and stated that their Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, who was responsible for the original statement, is resigning over this issue.

I am both baffled and floored by this turn of events. It feels like an “all lives matter” moment, doesn’t it? I keep trying to find more background information, to find the missing piece of the puzzle that will make me say, “Aha. That explains everything.”

The best I’ve been able to find out is that after the post denouncing Antisemitism went public, one author asked when SCBWI would denounce Islamophobia, and subjected the organization’s social media to a barrage of anti-Israel and Antisemitic posts. She was blocked and all her posts deleted. There were harassment accusations both ways.

The organization’s apology did say, “WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU” in big shouting all caps, so I decided to write to them. This is what I said:


I am writing today to express my shock and dismay about your recent apology following SCBWI’s statement against Antisemitism.

Perhaps there has been some kind of misunderstanding; but to me and many others it looks like, faced with pressure from a Palestinian Muslim author and their supporters, you apologized for saying that Antisemitism is wrong.

This is an “all lives matter” moment: as with Anti-Black racism, it is acceptable to stand behind one group without having to acknowledge and list the many other groups who are also marginalized, which you apparently know because you failed to affirm your stance against Antisemitism in your apology.

It was spineless of you to not to stand by your Inclusion Officer’s decision as she tried to prevent the turning of a condemnation of Antisemitism into a platform for Antisemitism, which—if you even skim the complainant’s tweets—you will no doubt see.

If I were a member of your organization, your apology would make me feel neither included nor safe.

I urge you to clarify that you were apologizing not for condemning Antisemitism, but for your handling of the subsequent complaints. Acknowledge the pain your actions have caused your Jewish members who now feel unrepresented, silenced, and marginalized. Reiterate that you stand firm against Antisemitism, as you do against all forms of hate.


There is definitely a part of me that thinks I should keep my big mouth shut, delete this blog post so it can’t attract haters, not send that email. But if we all keep our big mouths shut our silence is interpreted as agreement; I can’t remain silent.

Camping it up · fame and shame · Kids · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 465: Maybe it’s Time.

I’m thinking maybe it’s time to go back to the supermarket.

Since we came back from the cottage last October, we’ve been using Click and Collect and Instacart to get our groceries, meaning that I haven’t been inside a supermarket in a very, very long time. I’d be happy to continue that trend if it weren’t for how annoyed I get at the Instacart shoppers for not knowing the store like I do.

I ordered some kosher marshmallows (because regular marshmallows usually have gelatin which is either derived from pigs or horses.) Instead of the ones I ordered, I got these rainbow-coloured—non-kosher—jumbo marshmallows. I’m pretty sure the Instacart shopper didn’t even think to ask someone whether the kosher marshmallows might be somewhere else (hot tip—they’re in the kosher aisle.) Part of me is thinking How would they know? while the other part thinks that if they offer the product on the website, their shoppers need to know where to find it. Is it really that hard?

I don’t actually enjoy grocery shopping, though. Maybe if I lower my standards—and indicate “no substitutions”—I could still be happy with Instacart or Click and Collect. It saves me at least three hours a week.


I was feeling stressed today (no reason, really) so I did some pointless crafting with K. I bought the kids lockable toolboxes to keep their personal items in at camp, but they all looked the same—ugly. My first instinct was to spray paint them, but it’s so humid and hot out that I’m not convinced the paint would cure (and there is no way I can handle spray paint fumes inside the house.)

What’s better and campier than spray paint? Duck Tape! I spent far too much time getting it just right, but the results were gratifying. I’ll share the before-and-after pics once K has sent them from her phone.


N’s birthday is this Wednesday. Because the kids have to be in quarantine for the two weeks before camp starts (all the campers have been asked to do so,) we can’t have his friends over for a party. If I’ve gone overboard with the cake and ice cream and cones and sundae toppings, it’s no more overboard than I went for everyone else’s pandemic birthdays. I just want his birthday to not suck. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

DIY · IKEA · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Sartorial stuff · whine and cheese

Day 447: FFS

Today can be summed up in a single word:

ARRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!

Okay, fine. Not a word. But that’s not the point.

I had a day without kids today—a full day to catch up on all kinds of big and little tasks. I had plans.

I picked up the blackout roller shades I had ordered. The ones in the library looked pretty good (given that the library colour is hard to match) and they went up fairly easily once I understood the system. Too bad one of them seems to be defective—the rod isn’t working to raise and lower them. Strike one.

I then went upstairs to start installing the shades in my bedroom. I got two (out of four) of them up; then I realized that the curtains will catch on the roller shade mounting brackets, which doesn’t bode well for long-term use. Also, one of the two is malfunctioning the same way as the one in the library. Strike two.

“Just stop buying from IKEA!” Mr. December blurted in exasperation. “They have cool ideas but their window stuff doesn’t work!”

Oh, and while I was installing one of the bedroom shades, I bend down to swap out the screwdriver head (the alternate one was on the windowsill and I was on a stepstool.) I straightened up to finish the job and—THUD—hit my head on the top part of the window casing. Ouch. Strike three.

I prayed that this knock on the noggin would be nothing and I wouldn’t even have to mention it to anyone. My head had other plans, though. As I climbed off the stepstool I felt just a bit woozy—kind of dizzy, kind of “off”—and grudgingly admitted this might be a very mild concussion. I lay down to rest a while.

Tonight I’m shopping (seems like that’s all I do these days) for some clothes for Mr. December. He was jealous of my hiking pants last weekend, so I was ordering some for him. Also shorts. Then I saw that they had sundresses with pockets that I knew the girls would love, so I put those in the cart too. Swim shorts for N were $15. And so on, until I was ready to check out… at which point I realized that I was on the U.S. site, not Canadian, and that the fabulous sale prices were only available in the U.S.

Which strike is that? Four? I’m starting to lose count.

At least today is over, and four strikes in one day isn’t such a bad score; I’ve had much worse. I’m going to go make a cup of tea, enjoy some kid-free downtime with Mr. December, and then—

RING, RING

Just a minute—

“Hello? Oh, hi, Mum… they want to come home? Okay, sure… see you soon.”

Scrap that. Back into mommy mode. Kid cuddles, here I come.

DIY · Early morning musings · fame and shame · Keepin' it real · Sartorial stuff · whine and cheese

Day 446: In which I surrender to the sun.

Look, I’m not giving up, I’m…

Okay, fine. I’m giving up.

I no longer believe that the curtains in our bedroom are going to be able to keep it dark enough in the face of direct sunlight in the mornings. Right now it’s dark enough only because most of the windows are blocked off with cardboard (it looks really classy from outside, I tell you.) That’s not a long-term solution, not for me at least. Mr. December would just as soon paint all the window glass black and call it a day.

At the beginning of this whole saga, I could have just bought a few blackout roller shades and added some curtain panels on top to take care of those pesky lines of light around the edges. But no, I had to have something that looked good because our house was so cool. Roller shades were just so… blah. Not attractive at all.

That’s why I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but here goes:

I just bought blackout roller shades to install in our bedroom, behind the curtains, to help block out more of the light.

Yep, exactly the kind of shades I didn’t want to install in the first place.

See why I say I’m giving up?


In other sun-related news, summer is unofficially here—and with it, the first sunburn of the season. I hope my body at least managed to finally make some of its own Vitamin D. If I needed to draw a self-portrait in crayon or marker, I’d be able to use the one marked “berry red sunburn” instead of my usual (boring) “peaches and cream-would-do-wonders-for-that-redness-on-your-pale-face-you-know.”

Don’t worry, though, it only has to happen once for me to just wear a sunshirt if I’m going outside for the rest of the summer. Just like with returning library books, I’m too absent-minded to be trusted to put sunscreen on consistently.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be swimming in Aloe Vera gel.

family fun · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage · snarky · whine and cheese

Day 442: Conflicted

I was conflicted.

On the one hand, I wanted to ask my husband to go on without me, finish the hike, and then come pick me up with the car.

On the other hand, I wanted to kill him.

I was crouched on a hillside, trying to scoot my way down the hill without sliding in the mud or twisting an ankle. The ground was covered in thin pieces of stone, most of which were very loose. To make matters worse, the leaves on the ground made it nigh on impossible to tell where the ground was stable and where there were big holes. And did I mention that there was broken glass on the ground, too?

Eight kilometres doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it wouldn’t be if the path were both even and relatively flat. It wasn’t. The elevation map warned us of all the uphill and downhill sections, but the worst part of it was that most of the trail was very rocky. My ankle stability has never been good and my balance has been a bit off ever since my concussion; so you can imagine why I was already a bit peeved by the time Mr. December led us down this steep hill that was almost certainly NOT part of the trail.

Granted, there were a few fun moments; when we took the wrong path and ended up across the road from a country market and bakery, where we bought a strawberry-rhubarb pie and ate it with our bare hands; when we crossed the river near the top of the falls and I took off my shirt, soaked it in the water, and put it back on (aaaahhh, that’s better); when R and I walked along singing our favourite round:

“Black socks, they never get dirty!
The longer you wear them, the blacker they get.
Sometimes I think I should launder them;
Something inside me says ‘don’t wash them yet.’
Not yet… Not yet… Not yet… Not yet.”

But there were far too many sections of trail where it was all I could do to focus on my footing. About halfway back to the car my legs were hurting and my balance was suffering. Of course, N was pretty miserable at this point, so I tried very hard to be positive and cheerful: “See, kiddo? We’re almost there. Soon we’ll be back at the car where there’s plenty of bottled water and air conditioning. Then we can kill Abba.”

As a parent, I want to model grit and mental toughness to my kids. I try not to wimp out of challenging activities. This hike may have broken me of that tendency.

“From now on,” I told him as I drove home, “I’ll walk in with you guys for about fifteen minutes. Then I’ll turn around and go back to the car, drive to the end point of the hike, and walk in about fifteen minutes to meet you.”

“That’s probably for the best,” he agreed, obviously trying to placate his wife who had only just stopped threatening murder.

“And now,” I intoned, “Let us never speak of this again.”

family fun · whine and cheese · Worldschooling

Day 429: Hopes Dashed

We’re starting to plan for next year, which is kind of a joke during COVID because it’s pretty hard to predict what life is going to be like. I mean, did anybody think we’d still be under stay-at-home orders this summer? But we’re trying to plan anyway, because when you want to travel the world with kids you really have to plan ahead.

Mr. December and I had already chosen a few countries we wanted the kids to see. The next step, which we did today, was to get the kids’ input on things like trip duration, destination, and accommodations. I created a Google Form, each kid submitted their answers, and Mr. December and I tabulated the results. I was getting excited.

Then—for some reason—Mr. December looked up the COVID restrictions in each country… and our hopes were dashed. New Zealand is closed. Israel is open only to tourists who are fully vaccinated, which children can’t be. Thailand too. And on and on, until we stopped googling, sat back in our chairs, and said, “Well, this sucks!”

We googled “where can I travel from Canada right now?” and found this neat interactive map that shows which countries are open, which are closed, and which have some restrictions. The map for travel from Canada looks like this:

Image Description: a map of the world, with most countries coloured red. Parts of Europe, Africa, and North America are yellow. Mexico is green as are a few small countries.

Green means open, yellow means restrictions (which usually involves tourists being fully vaccinated, which makes it impossible with kids,) and red is right out. It’s not looking too good for Canadians right now—and to think, we used to be so beloved abroad that Americans would sew Canadian flags on their backpacks so they’d be better received in every country.

At least Mexico and Costa Rica are fully open. So are the Dominican Republic, North Macedonia, and Albania, but those don’t quite make the cut (although I’m sure they’re very nice.)

I guess now we have to—and I do heartily apologize for using the most overused word of the past four hundred and twenty-nine days—pivot. I’m already starting to shift my expectations from Israel, Thailand, and New Zealand to Costa Rica. Now we have to help the kids shift their expectations, because E has her heart set on Thailand (to see the elephants,) and everyone wanted to see New Zealand. Israel was kind of a given, but the kids know we’ll get there eventually.

So tomorrow I’ll start with a fresh Google Form and solicit the kids’ opinions on some different destinations. Then it’s time for my favourite part of the process: scouring Air BnB for a cool place to stay.

I’ve heard it said that the planning and anticipation is the best part of a trip. If that’s true, I’m super lucky to get a double dose of planning; but if COVID makes me pivot again and plan a third trip, I will be most put out.

Jewy goodness · Keepin' it real · mental health · Uncategorized · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 427: Fear

I broke my own rule, and now I’m sorry.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed a post about Israel, by one of my FB friends. He said something about how nice it is to see the Jewish community starting to come around to the pro-Palestinian movement. A lot of other things were said, too, to which I responded with a few pointed questions about why the rest of the world is not engaged in this level of protest or demonization with regards to, say, China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, or the Syrian civil war. Could it be because Israel is the Jewish state? Could Antisemitism be a factor? I don’t even remember what was said in response; I do remember that one person’s comment ended with “shame on you!”

She also accused me of being too snarky and aggressive in my post. If I was Black and posting about racism, that would be called tone policing. If I was LGBTQ, I could say that any support for people whose goal is to kill all the Jews is a complete non-starter, because my right to exist is not up for discussion. If I was a university student I could claim that this kind of talk makes me feel ‘unsafe’, and I would receive emotional support for it. But I’m Jewish, which means that none of those things applies to me.

There is a degree of cultural and generational trauma for the Jewish community that often informs our view of the current (and ongoing) conflict. There is a lot of fear of what would happen if Israel backed off (because, you know, Hamas wants to drive us all into the sea.) The recent rise in Antisemitic attacks in North America doesn’t help. If the supporters of the Palestinians insist that their position has nothing to do with Antisemitism, how do they square that with the fact that Jews outside of Israel are being attacked because they are Jews? Is there an explanation that doesn’t point to Antisemitism? If there is, I’d desperately like to hear it and be able to believe it.

The whole situation in Israel/Palestine confuses and disturbs me. The situation of the Palestinian people, living under the thumb of a terrorist organization, is deeply saddening. And I hate that my Israeli cousins and friends have to wake their children in the middle of the night to run down to the bomb shelter. Beyond that, I’m hesitant to make any analysis, partly because I feel like I can never do the situation justice and partly because it won’t help anyway. There’s precious little, if anything, I can do to influence the situation.

I should probably just snooze posts from this friend and anyone else who posts things that upset me. It’s probably na├»ve of me to believe that if we can speak openly with each other, maybe we can find common ground and move closer to peace for everyone. But if I shut out the voices that make me uncomfortable, isn’t that also part of the problem? I don’t want to live in an echo chamber. I do, however, want to live without the anxiety that these encounters cause me. I want to live without fear. And right now, I don’t think I can.

Camping it up · Kids · parenting · snarky · whine and cheese

Day 413: Quaint.

It’s that time of year again: time to fill out all the camp forms for the kids. Most of them are time consuming, but no big deal. Where I always get stumped, somehow, is at the immunizations.

For those of you who don’t live in Ontario: we have this antiquated system of keeping track of our immunizations. It’s this little yellow trifold card that we (or the doctors) fill in by hand with the date and which vaccines were given. That’s all I have to refer to when the camp asks me for the dates of every vaccination the kids have ever had. I’m sure the doctor’s office has this information in the kids’ files (which are, thankfully, now all computerized,) but that information doesn’t get shared with anyone. Not with me, and not with public health.

That’s why, when each of my kids was enrolled in grade one, I got a letter from Toronto Public Health threatening the kid’s suspension from school if we didn’t provide records of vaccination. The first time it happened I was baffled; The second time I was annoyed; and the third time I was fed up. Apparently after the doctor vaccinates the child and enters the information into their computer, the parents have to go home and enter the same information into the Toronto Public Health website… every single time the kid gets a vaccine. You’d think there’d be some way to opt-in to your doctor sharing the vaccination records with public health—but you’d be wrong.

Honestly, I have flirted with the idea of just telling the school and public health that I’m not vaccinating my kids on conscientious grounds. Of course I’d still have them fully vaccinated—I’d just be saving myself the duplication of labour.

Today as I put in the kids’ vaccination dates I noticed a few… irregularities. I had no record of K being immunized for chicken pox, even though I’m positive that we’ve never declined a vaccine that was offered. That’s the sort of error that comes of having the parent and/or doctor forget to update the quaint little yellow vaccination card. Now I’ll have to call the doctors’ office and have them spend even more time on this issue by generating lists of the kids’ vaccinations and emailing them to me (at least I hope they’ll email them to me, although most doctors won’t actually email confidential medical information. That’s why doctors here still have fax machines, another quaint reminder of a bygone and less efficient era.)

All of this to say that there has GOT to be a better system for sharing this information. A unique PIN for each child, perhaps, that the camp can input into a database to confirm that the child has had all required vaccinations? Something? Anything to advance our public health system past the days of carrier pigeons and fax machines?

Booster shot for Ontario's vaccination policies | The Star
Image description: an Ontario Immunization Record Card. Yep, we’re on the honour system, it seems.
DIY · el cheapo · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · whine and cheese

Day 412: The Devil’s in the Details

Fun fact: in Hebrew, “shed” is the word for “demon.”

Not-so-fun fact: It’s pretty much impossible to find a prefab shed that meets my needs.

Coincidence? I think not.

Last autumn and over the winter, Mr. December and I discussed having the kids design and build a shed with us as part of their homeschooling: it would involve geometry, arithmetic, and physics, and they’d get firsthand experience in how houses are built. But that plan seems a bit laughable right now, when just installing three display cubes on N’s bedroom wall has resulted in more elbow pain… and we still have another five to install. Don’t get me started on the pile of IKEA furniture in E’s bedroom that has yet to be assembled and mounted on the wall.

It’s an odd twist on one’s eyes being bigger than one’s stomach. The idea of building a shed from scratch excites me, but these days it’s feeling pretty likely that I’d go into a fibro flare somewhere around the second or third day of construction and be unable to finish the job. A prefab shed seems like a decent compromise: we’d get to do some building without having to think about (and then execute) things like stud spacing and roof pitch.

I’m encouraged by the fact that my kids now do useful work without arguing about it first. Tonight K finished cutting up all the branches Mr. December pruned off our plum tree; N bundled them neatly, tied them with twine, and put them at the curb for pickup. Their competence gives me just a little hope that they could make themselves useful for shed building, too.

But first I’ll have to find a shed to build, which is harder than it sounds. Most of the prefab sheds have six-foot sidewalls, which is a bit low for my purposes (woodworking; using giant saws on big, long pieces of wood.) For eight-foot walls I’d have to go to a custom shed place, which puts the price up around $10K for a 108 square foot shed. Or we could go with the alternative: build our own shed from scratch… which I’m pretty sure would be its own unique form of torture.

Fibro Flares · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 402: I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

It’s been a week since our provincial government decided to allow people ages 40-55 to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. I’ve seen selfies of one friend after another getting their first shot. Meanwhile, I’m on four (maybe five?) waiting lists for an appointment. We’re not in a hot spot, so I can’t just head over to those clinics; at this point I think I’m going to have to phone every pharmacy every morning until a spot becomes available.

Is this really the best we can do? There has got to be a more sensible way to distribute vaccines. Like, literally any other way. I’m having a hard time imagining a worse system.

I also wonder how many people there are like me—who aren’t bedridden or in a high-risk category—but still don’t have the stamina or strength to go stand in line for two hours outside an arena in hopes of getting one of the day’s coveted 1000 doses. I mean, I guess I could do it, but it would mean worse fibro symptoms for days afterwards with no guarantee of a shot. Doesn’t seem very practical, does it?


In good news, my legs hurt a lot less today and my energy was up. I can also proudly say that I got quite a lot of school done with the kids this afternoon and they actually produced some good writing work. I finished arranging the piano part for our new ensemble piece, and started teaching E how to read music. Vaccine annoyance notwithstanding, today was just fine.