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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Asher is indulging in something I wouldn’t call his favourite holiday tradition, but it certainly is his most common: getting sick.

He likes to mix it up and generally stays away from common, boring illnesses. At 10 months, he developed a raging fever and a red, blotchy rash over most of his body that had every doctor in the office in to stare at him, but was never diagnosed. A year later, he pulled out the big guns and developed pneumonia. He let us off easy with pink eye one year, and didn’t even pass it on to anyone. And he did go with that old stand-by – the flu – to miss his Hanukkah concert when he was in kindergarten.

This year, he is back to keeping mystery in our lives, and I am not amused. I declared our own personal snow day yesterday (37 cms of snow! A foot and 2 inches for the non-metrically-inclined). Asher complained that his final house league soccer game was at lunch time and they needed his skills in defense, then lay down on the couch and pretty much didn’t move for the rest of the day. He had deep, dark circles under his eyes and I figured a couple late nights on the weekend were catching up to him, and that explained the headache he complained of, and the achy limbs.

So, of course, he’s no better today. He’s completely pale except for the dark circles, has no energy and the same headache. No fever. Mystery. And a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning.

If I celebrated Christmas, I’d be freaking out about now, being stuck in the house with a sick boy.

At least he’s doing this now and will hopefully be better for our far more fun Christmas tradition. For years now, we have been going up to the cottage and on Christmas day, we go tubing at a nearby ski hill. At first, we just went with my brother and sister-in-law and their three kids. Since then, it has expanded to include several other families and this year, our group has so far reached 11 children and 8 adults planning to go.

Tubing is always fun, but the particular enjoyment of doing it on Christmas day is that there are no line-ups anywhere, as it is just us and a few Hasidic Jews from the area.

Okay, obligatory apres-big-snowstorm photos:

Jasper discovered he can dig real holes in this stuff!

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The plow made such a big snow bank that Boo can slide down the middle of the lawn to the end and hit the bank instead of the street.

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Snow, snow and more snow!

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Our side door. My compost bin and extra garbage bins are under there too.

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Master of all he surveys.

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For those who don’t know this, Jewish holidays are based on the lunar calendar and therefore change each year. There’s an old joke that the holidays are always early or late. This year, Hanukkah is early, really early. The first night to light the candles is the 4th of December.

On one hand, it’s nice, because it separates it a little more from Christmas. On the other hand, it means I have to be organized a lot earlier. Thank goodness I got all obsessed with the American Girl ebay stuff when I did (sheer coincidence; I wasn’t thinking ahead to an early holiday), so at least I’ll have that. I’m over ebay, by the way. I swear.

I’m finding the kids hard to buy for this year. I just spent a couple of hours running errands and wandering aimlessly through toy sections in search of inspiration. Mostly, I’ve had it driven home once again that there is an awful lot of crap out there.

I even resorted to asking the kids for ideas, something I don’t normally do. This was Maya’s helpful advice: “Don’t buy me any books. Not one! I’ll be so mad if you give me a book.” I said, “Clearly, you were switched in the hospital nursery with my real child, because those words could never have come out of the mouth of any child of mine.” She also said, “I want more than just American Girl doll clothing, you know.” Yes, thanks so much for the helpful advice.

Asher said, “Get me something good,” like now I’ll cross ‘crap for Asher’ off my list.

Boo helpfully brought over a toy catalogue that arrived with the newspaper a few days ago and said, “I want this, and this, and this. Oh, and definitely this! And this too. I really like this …”

I am reminded of a moment when Boo and I were at the hospital for her eye. The doctor finally arrived, and while she checked out Boo’s blood pressure, ears, and so on she chatted to her. After discussing the elephants in her ears (that one never get old), she said to Boo, “So, I bet you are excited about Santa Claus coming soon.” Boo shook her head and said matter-of-factly, “No.” The doctor said, “Oh, but I’m sure he’ll bring you something good. Doesn’t he always bring you good toys?” “Nope,” responded Boo. I waited for her to go on and explain why Santa disses her so, but she was content with her responses. While it was amusing seeing the discomfort on the doctor’s face, I did quickly explain.

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Okay, she’s not exactly a baby, since she is 11, and she’s only gone to camp, but still, it’s weird.

I started going to sleep-away camp when I was 6, but that was just for a weekend. I can’t remember when I began to go longer, but it would have been a gradual process, working my way up to a whole summer in my teens. Maya, in contrast, refused to go before this year and therefore missed the shorter introduction to camp for younger kids. She (and we) just gets thrown into the deep end, 3.5 weeks.

The longest I have been away from her is 10 days, and that was when I was going somewhere, not her. It’s a lot more fun that way, let me tell you.

I know she’s going to have lots of fun, and her cousins, who she is really close to, are there so they’ll show her the ropes, and the weather got lovely, and she’s such a mature and responsible kid that she’ll do just great and I loved sleep-away camp when I was a kid and I’m sure she will too. But there’s still a little twitch of a worry that she won’t.

And I miss her more than I expected. I already wrote to her. In the age of instant communication, the parents can email their kids, and the camp will print off the emails twice a day and deliver them to the kids. The kids are low-tech, though, and have to write to us the old-fashioned way. Maya insisted she would write daily, but I think we’ll be lucky with two letters total, and that is just because I wrote the first one for her, as a bit of a joke. (I wrote stuff like, “(Circle one) I am having a great/okay/awful time. The food is better than you’ve ever fed me/okay, I guess/makes me want to puke…”)

I wonder how often I can write to her before her cabin mates start to make fun of her?

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Vacation update

I have not been online since my last post. In fact, I’m writing this offline to then copy and paste, so annoying is dial-up service.

 

I haven’t read a blog for over a week. And you know what? I’m coping okay, except I’ve run out of stuff to read up here. No computer time means much more reading time, and I didn’t bring enough books. I am catching up in my journal, though.

 

I do feel very out of touch, although I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

 

This week, we are at the cottage with our three kids and two of our nephews (I’ll call them B and C), who are 9 and 11 years old. The four of them – Maya, Asher, B and C – have remarkably similar interests and have gotten along without a major tiff for two weeks now. They spend every waking moment together, doing things as a pack. They are happy to include Boo when she wants to be (there are younger kids here for her to play with) and also include an 8-year-old girl from across the road when she is around.

 

Five kids is actually easier than three, as there are more play options, and since B and C find their younger cousin utterly charming, Asher and Maya are more patient with her too. The only thing that we find difficult – as I mentioned before – is feeding them, since there isn’t a picky eater among them. MominIsrael is right, kids who eat everything is preferable to kids who won’t eat, but it still pains the pocketbook. The five are voracious. We are constantly throwing enormous amounts of food at them. When feeding them dinner, I am reminded of the nature clip I saw years and years ago, where you see a hand holding a huge joint of meat from some animal like a goat or sheep. The hand lowers the joint into a large fish tank and the water boils with frenzied piranhas for a few moments, and then the hand lifts the joint, now cleaned of all meat.

 

I’m just thankful that mine have huge appetites too, or the shock of feeding them all would have been much worse. A couple of days ago, the mom of the kid across the street offered to make lunch for them all (beside the 8-year-old, she has 5-year-old twins). Pasta, she said, that would be easy.

 

My eyes bugged out when I saw the amount of pasta she’d cooked for them. It was enough to split in half and feed the two oldest. I braced myself, hoping the kids wouldn’t be rude about not having enough food. They were good, though. They all ate their share, then came home and ate more. Turns out that, like my kids, my nephews are used to eating meals at friends houses, leaving hungry and filling up at home.

 

I have no idea how large families feed everybody without being rich. I should point out that the whole lot of them, save one normal-sized nephew, are so skinny you can play the xylophone on their ribs.

 

I did not intend to write so much about food. I guess it is just that I’ve been forced to be preoccupied by it. What I intended to write about was that I love it up here. The loss of my beloved internet has been worth it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but up here the kids get thrown back to my childhood, where they roam around all day playing, and their parents don’t always know exactly where they are. No schedule, no playdates, no parents.

They swim at the beach for hours. They hunt frogs. They invent elaborate games in the forested land behind our cottage. They collect rocks and wild berries. Sleeping all in bunk beds in one room, they whisper to each other long after bedtime, ignoring our half-hearted demands to be quiet and go to sleep.

 

We feed them, bandage scrapes, build bonfires and try to prevent them from emptying their rock collections on the couch, but other than that we hang out and read. It’s lovely.

 

 

It’s not all sunshine and roses – for me, at least. As I write, I am emerging from the pit of a 28-hour migraine. Today was spent lying in bed with earplugs and an eye pillow, throwing back useless drugs. I have no idea what set it off. I haven’t had one this bad in ages.

 

My own personal cottage-holiday ritual is to become ill or injured, so I should consider myself lucky this only wrecked a day. On different years, I have: recovered from carpal tunnel surgery; had an abscessed tooth (two different times and only on holiday here); had severe strep throat that took multiple courses of antibiotics to cure; had an ear and sinus infection so bad I spent the two nicest days of the vacation feverish in bed; had the Norwalk virus (‘stomach flu’); had the real flu; been pukey and exhausted from the first trimester of pregnancy (Asher); been crabby and exhausted from being in the last few weeks of pregnancy (Boo); and had mastitis.

 

Still, I’m not complaining, because at least when I get sick here, I have J to look after the kids. In fact, I actually planned the carpal tunnel surgery that way. Only once I got here did I realize that it was a little bit stupid because I couldn’t swim or play in the sand with the kids. It was still better, though.

 I hardly miss my garden.  

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As I mentioned previously, I was inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barabara Kingsolver, to expand my tiny veggie garden. I didn’t just plant my standard tomatoes, but peas, carrots and broccoli instead. Oh, and asperagus, but I’m not expecting much from that for a while.

Jasper pulled one bunch of asperegus from the ground – I guess he likes them even when they are tiny. I’ve been watching the rest sprout and watering faithfully. Then, when we returned home from the long weekend, I did my garden tour and discovered when I got to my veggie bed – nothing! Oh, I still have those old stand-bys, the tomatoes. But every other shoot has been eaten to the ground. Wait, I exaggerate; one pea plant has survived. That’ll be quite the bounty.

So, like Yogamum, I’ve failed for this year. It is too late to replant, so I’ll have to wait until next year.

At least the raspberry plant we put in a couple years ago is going nuts and has tons of berries. I just hope most of them hold off on ripening until we return.

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I like going on vacation, I really am, but despite the veggie disaster, I wish I could bring my garden with me. It kills me that I am going to miss things flowering, particularly my Shasta daisies. They have been budding now for about a month and I have been anticipating the huge mass of flowers. As this week progressed, I could see that they were aiming to open up just about the day after I leave.

I’ll probably miss the Asiatic lillies too, and I cringe to think of how the weeds are going to take over.

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It would help if the sun would shine for longer than an hour between the rain. At least J’s brother left two of his kids here to amuse mine. Five kids is a lot to feed – none of these kids are picky eaters – but they run off in a pack and there’s always someone to play with. And Jasper loves swimming at the beach, no matter what the weather.

Boo is begging for the laptop to watch something. I think I’ll go play poker with the other kids.

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We spent the long weekend at the cottage. I thought it was obscenely cold, but the kids still swam. I wonder when a child develops nerve endings? Not at 11 years old, judging by Maya.

Old family friends of J’s family have the cottage across the street, so our kids play together every summer, picking up like they’ve never been apart. They swim, play in the sand, climb around on the rocks, have campfires, go on adventures in the woods and basically have an idyllic a childhood summer as seems possible these days.

This year, of course, we added the dog to the mix, imagining that he will make it just that much more idyllic. And they do love him, take him for walks, play with him on the beach when he’s allow there. What I didn’t expect when I got him was that I’d want the dog to have good summer too. Now, instead of hanging out on the beach all day, I go back up to check on the dog, and take the time out to go for long walks down country roads and in the woods. He’s clearly delighted and I’m glad he’s happy too.

My mother-in-law is not so happy. His existence drives her nuts. We delusionally thought that if we had a good dog, one that didn’t shed, bark, jump or beg, she wouldn’t mind him. We never expected her to like him, but at least maybe she wouldn’t mind him. And he was good this weekend. He does still counter-surf and steal food off neglected plates. He sticks his nose under Maya’s arm at dinner and tries to get as close to her plate as he can, hoping to snag something off her fork. He takes kids’ toys and jumps on the furniture, staring at us like we are mad when we order him off. But he did none of that this weekend. He was the Stepford dog, he was so good.

But we knew it was hopeless when she snapped during lunch that we had to get him out of the room, as he was driving her crazy. We, including my father-in-law, looked in amazement at Jasper, sitting several feet from the table completely quietly, nose in the air in appreciation of the foodie smells, and asked what he had done to offend her. “He’s smelling!” she objected.

She might well have said ‘he’s breathing,’ since clearly that was the real problem.

She does appreciate one thing – I walk him. I clearly need more exercise and, for Jasper’s sake, I get it. I walk him for hours, and I like it, as it is peaceful and he is happy. But you now what pisses me off? I haven’t lost a single pound. Bloody figures.

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Here’s an ‘Eeewwww’ for you – a couple of weeks ago, I wrote my Thursday Thirteen on the heat, trying to appreciate my lack of air conditioning. I naively entitled it Thursday’s Hot Thirteen. I  was surprised to see how popular that Thursday Thirteen was, until I realized that the search string people are using to find it is “hot thirteen.” I just realized they aren’t looking for the Thursday Thirteen meme, they are looking for thirteen-year-olds. So, for those of you who make it here with the same search string: stop being such a pervert, you freak.

And, frankly, that goes for the people looking for ‘funny videos of teenagers breastfeeding’ too.

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Happy Canada Day

I had an interesting post to write, but instead I cleaned and froze a zillion hand-picked strawberries. Everyone have a good weekend!

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