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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Thirteen Things about just making it upThe kiddies are out of school! Yesterday was the last day. At 6:50 am, Asher showed up beside our bed and whined, “I’m so bored!” Not a good sign. Nevertheless, inspired by summer vacation, I’m going to come up with 13 good things about the kids getting out of school for the summer.1. NO MORE MAKING LUNCHES. Sorry about yelling, but I loathe making lunches for school. We have milk days and meat days and children who will eat practically anything we hand them at home but pretty much none of it at school and it drives me nuts.

2. I don’t have to drive back and forth to the school twice a day.

3. NO MORE HOMEWORK. Okay, I know I’m yelling a lot, but I loathe homework too.

4. We don’t have to be so rigid about bedtimes.

5. No schedule in general.

6. I get to sleep in more.

7. Family vacation.

8. The kids and I get to hang out more.

9. No homework (it’s worth two).

10. Lessening peer pressure.

11. I get to feel like less of a failure for incessantly forgetting to return permission slips, send in magazines to be cut up, signing spelling tests, etc. There’s less to forget in summertime.
12. Asher is a happier, less-frustrated kid out of school (although this year was better).

13. After two months of this, I’ll be delighted to see school start again.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Pesach

I’m finally starting to get into Passover now (good thing my MIL is doing the seder). It’s the kids that do it for me. They are so excited about the holiday. You know, we converted types always talk about Hanukkah vs Christmas in December, and the party line tends to be that it isn’t just a direct trade, and this weekend has reminded me of that.

The kids have already gone through the excitement of Purim, all the dressing-up, noise-making and candy. And here, only about a month later, we get another holiday. The kids love the seders – getting to dip their fingers in the wine to count out the plagues, finding the afikomen and getting money in return, staying up unbelievably late, visiting cousins.

Cleaning the house and removing all the chametz – bread products – gives them a real sense that something big is going on. Asher is very concerned this year that we haven’t been doing enough cleaning (what, me, not cleaning enough?) and has taken it on himself to doing some sweeping and the like. At bedtime tonight, I told him tomorrow is going to be fun, as our job for the seders is to make dessert and my kids love to help with baking. He said, “Okay, baking is fine Mom, but there is something much more important we must do first.” Huh? Who is this kid and where’s my son? “We need to clean, or Hashem will be angry with us for not doing a good enough job.” (This is what happens when you send your kids to religious school – they end up being so very … religious.)

We had a little chat where I suggested that perhaps God isn’t that judgmental. Although I’m sure many would disagree, that’s what me and the boy are going with for now, and he agreed to bake with me.

Boo arrived home from her model seder with a handmade hagaddah. A hagaddah is basically a guide book for the seder, with the story of the exodus, the prayers, the songs, when to eat the various ritual foods. In the earlier grades in school, the kids always come home with a handmade one.

She was showing it to me a couple days ago. The front cover has flaps that open up. She’s painted them blue and when you open them, inside she’s drawn several people. She told me : “See these flaps? They are the sea. And even though they are blue, do you know what the name of the sea is? The Red sea. And see these people inside? They are Jews, crossing the Red sea!

There are five Jews, by the way – Moses and his immediate family, I guess.

She’s so enthusiastic about the whole story. I realized that is something I simply love about Pesach, and all the other holidays. When kids are four and five years old, they really, really get into the stories behind the holidays. The stories live for them at this age.

I had the radio on, and the newscaster mentioned Egypt. Boo’s ears pricked up and she said delightedly, “Hey, Egypt! We were slaves in Egypt! But a long time ago, right? Not Bubby and Zaidy or Oma and Grampa, right?”

It reminded me of Pesach when Asher was this age. We went out of town, to J’s brother for the seders, and arranged to visit my room-mate from university and her family one day. In discussing our plans with my brother-in-law, I mentioned my former room-mate’s name, which is very unusual, and he asked it’s origin. I told him she was born in Egypt, although she grew up here. We thought nothing of it until Asher came up with eyes huge and said, “Your friend we are visiting is Egyptian?”

You could see the concern on his face. He was clearly convinced my friend was on the phone right that moment with Pharoh, arranging our personal return to slavery. He was relieved when it turned out to be an evening of playing with her kids and eating sushi. He said to me quietly, “Egyptians are pretty nice now, Mama.”

That’s the other thing I like about celebrating the holidays with kids when they are little. Despite the fact that every holiday is about, as I heard one comedian tell it: “Some bad people wanted to kill all the Jews. They only killed some of the Jews. So, we eat!” the kids firmly believe we are living in ‘happily ever after’ where no one hates the Jews any more. I hold onto that for as long as possible.

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Home again

And not happy about it. We left a winter wonderland for the same old crap in the city. And J went back to work, leaving me with three wound-up children.

A couple of days ago, it got quite warm and even rained a bit, then yesterday it got cold. This was bad news for the ski hills, but great news for sledding at the beach. The whole thing was a smooth sheet of ice and we did a lot of sledding. We even went at night, barrelling down in the dark. Sledding on a beach means you don’t need to worry about smashing into anything and there’s quite a thrill to hurtling yourself into darkness.

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I uploaded a few pictures from the holidays. This one is from the last day of Hanukkah – the very last moment of Hanukkah, actually, as the last of the candles on Boo’s menorah burn out.

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This is the wee snowman Boo and I made when it finally snowed.

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Here is Boo partying it up with the twins her age next door at New Years. Check out her fancy party dress. She never lets an opportunity to dress up pass by.

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And this is an artsy sort of shot of my knitting. I think I should have cropped it more, but reloading it is a big hassle. That’s what I like about blogs. You can do whatever you want, even stick up a photo of your knitting, if that’s what turns your crank.

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And now, it is time to take all the children grocery shopping. Woo Hoo!!

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 I hope everyone is having as good a new year’s eve as I am. I am sitting in an almost-empty cottage, watching a DVD of Curb Your Enthusiasm and writing here. Everyone else is at the neighbour’s across the street, except Boo, who is asleep (and my reason for being here).

Boo was all for staying up until midnight, but suddenly decided she needed a nap. She crawled up into my lap and yelled to the room full of people chatting and eating, “Be quiet! I’m trying to sleep here!” I managed to convince her that bed might be a better place for this, since all those inconsiderate people were just not letting her have a proper snooze.

I lured her back here with a Kindersurprise, which is a crappy chocolate egg shell with a little toy inside. Americans may not know about these, since apparently the FDA is convinced the you are all too stupid to figure out there is a toy inside and will try to eat it too. Boo was considering that same possibility tonight, saying it was a good thing she didn’t try to eat the egg whole, because she might choke on the toy and die, “and Bubby would not like a dead body on her carpet.”

This should scare her Bubby, that Boo believes that her death would cause distress primarily over the dead body on the carpet. But the kids do learn early that Bubby cares deeply about cleanliness and while they still won’t pick up their clothes, it clearly has sunk in.

(It has worked to our advantage when toilet training the kids. We’d let them run around naked-ish at the beach during the summer and when we brought them back to the cottage, we’d be ‘too busy’ to get them dressed and warn them, “Do not pee on Bubby’s floor. Make sure to use the toilet or Bubby will be really angry.” Worked like a charm.)

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I’m making the same new year’s resolution as last year and the year before, and when I turned 39 and 40: get into shape and lose weight. How’s that for original? Someday I’ll get it, right?

I like tashlich better. It’s a ritual performed at Rosh Hoshanah, where everyone throws bits of bread into running water. The bread symbolizes the stuff about yourself you want to throw away. I toss away my impatience with my children every year and I swear it is working, because I am more patient now. Anyway, I find it simpler, on some level, to throw stuff away than swear to do new stuff (although I assume you could make a New Year’s resolution to be more patient, but people hardly ever do).

The truth is, I pay about as much attention to the New Year as a milestone as I do to New Year’s parties, but the past couple of weeks I have been feeling kind of milestoney. I hauled out all the videotapes I made since Boo was born (and we got a new video camera) and have been watching and cataloging what I have on them. I hardly remember what she was like as a baby. She was so tiny and cute and different.

It made me realize that there really isn’t any baby left in her. She goes to school, dresses herself, makes her own sandwiches, skates, drags her own sled up the hill and goes on-line by herself.

I remember when Asher hit this age. When I got pregnant with Boo, it was a big surprise. Asher was still my baby (at not yet 3 years old). It was only when he hit 4 years old and reached the stage Boo is now at that I suddenly had a desperate urge for another baby. I remember being so relieved that the baby I was suddenly desperate for was already right here. Every day I was grateful that she had the wisdom to show up before I reached the panic point on my own. Otherwise, there I would have been, with a 4-year-old, already 36 years old myself and baby-crazy with no baby in sight.

This time, thankfully, I have no baby urges. (Although I do at times miss the baby stage of the ones I already have. I loved the infancy stage.) Every time I take Boo to gymnastics, I watch other moms chase younger siblings around the waiting area and get extra enjoyment out of reading my newspaper in peace this time, having done in the other way two other times. And I swear, every single time I have to go into the preschool building in the freezing rain to pick up Boo, I remember what a hassle it was to have to drag a snowsuited, tired infant in to get one of the older kids, balancing dressing the older one while stopping the baby from crawling in puddles. I swing in, unencumbered, feeling light every single time. I think that is a pretty good sign that the baby stage is over.

 So off I go into the new year, truly baby-free for the first time in over a decade, and I mostly feel light about that too, but I’m also glad that Boo, who can make her own sandwiches, is still small and squishy, and likes to cuddle.

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holiday bits

We have an artesian well up here (that means it is really, really deep), but it turns out it was no match for 12 people and a defective toilet. The well ran dry. It took a day to return, so now my father-in-law is nervous about the water supply. This means that this morning we got to introduce the kids to another new experience – doing laundry at a laundry mat. Despite the fact that we have a front-loader at home, they found watching the clothes spin amusing.

We then walked over to the little general store here to let them each pick out a treat. What is a general store for, if not to check out the various and obscene methods of sugar delivery into a child’s system? Both Maya and Asher have lost a tooth up here, so they both spent some of their tooth fairy money on some hunk of sugar, which I found ironic. Allowing them this indulgence earned me a brief lecture from my mother-in-law for letting them eat sugar. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around – grandmothers handing out the sugar and parents objecting. Anyway, I refused to rise to the bait.

It is actually legitimately cold up here and really feels like winter. J took the kids tobogganing. I bowed out to make Shabbat dinner, and also because my bruised leg hurts and I don’t relish more hurtling down slippery hills.

Just as I settled down here, having up the chicken and potatoes in the oven, Asher returned with freezing hands. The dopey boy had gone out with just the lightest pair of gloves on and his hands were freezing. I took the damp gloves off and warmed his hands the fastest way I know how – I put them against my sides, under my shirt. I still feel the painful imprint of his hands, but it warmed him up in no time.

It reminded me of the time that we went skating on the Rideau Canal when Asher was about 4 years old. Distracted with getting the infant Boo bundled up warmly enough, we missed that Asher was only wearing a light cotton shirt under his snowsuit. He skated for a few moments, then switched to being pulled along by J. After we reached the other end of the Canal, sweating from our exertion, we discovered that Asher was a little popsicle boy, as he had being sitting in the sled without moving, being blown by the icy wind and not dressed properly. While J skated back to get the car, I brought the kids into a little change hut and, in what has probably been the greatest act of motherly love I have ever demonstrated, I unzipped my own ski jacket and sweater, and cuddled him into my body, getting him to put his arms around my body under my shirt. I can still remember how cold his arms were and face, as he smushed it into my neck.

For those who don’t know me, I should clarify something: I hate being cold. Hate, hate, hate it. I know it might not seem it, given my recent whinings about the absence of winter, but let’s face it, almost zero weather and raining is also damn cold, and not nearly as pretty as snow. It is 10 degrees colder now, but the sun is shining in the big windows, so I am warm. (Except for the two chilled imprints of my boy’s hands on my ribs, of course. He still doesn’t dress warmly enough and we still don’t watch him closely enough.)

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Besides reading a lot of my in-laws’ New Yorkers and playing a lot of games with the kids, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting up here. Actually, I knit while playing the games and reading the New Yorkers. And while waiting for dinner to show up at the restaurant, and in the car and while singing lullabies and watching videos and waiting for the movie to start. I had big carpal tunnel problems with both wrists the past couple of years and had surgery on both hands. The second hand was done in October, and so I’ve just managed to get back into knitting again recently. I have always been a knitting fiend and I’m so glad to be back at it. I knitting Boo a pair of thrummed mitts to keep her little hands nice and warm. Now I’m working on a sweater for Asher. Lots of cabling. I got about 4 inches up the back while up here, and then decided a couple of days ago that I’d gone a bit too small. It might have been okay, but maybe not and I didn’t want to take a chance, so I pulled it out and started again. My eldest nephew, M, has started to knit – he’s done two scarves, I think – and was utterly horrified to see what I was doing. It is pinful to pull something out, but more painful to finish the thing and have it not fit. Truth is, I knit so fast that it wasn’t that painful. It used to be much worse.

Okay, time to go check the chicken.

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Ouch

If it occurs to anyone out there to go snowshoeing when there is only an inch or so of snow on the ground just as an adventuresome why to go for a winter walk in the woods … don’t. The whole inexperienced gang went out, but I put my shoes on last and the rest didn’t wait for me. They then charged into the woods off trail. Turns out that clumping up and down hills in snowshoes without snow is pretty darn dangerous – the metal teeth at the front of the shoes can’t dig in, and neither do the poles.

I caught up with them when one of my nephews fell trying to get down the side of a small cliff. Unfortunately, he also blocked the best way down as he lay there in agony, so those who hadn’t already made it down faced a steeper descent. Maya was smart enough to figure out sliding down and even kindly warned me about the tree at the bottom. Really, I should have gone back, but it was so far. I took off my snowshoes, at least, and slid down, but I didn’t manage to miss the tree. Of course, after some ice on his knee for half an hour, my 10-year-old nephew was ready to roll. I’m still hobbling thanks to the large bruise down the inside of my leg, courtesy of the tree.

Today we went to see Night at the Museum, which was far safer, although at times Boo was not convinced. Once she got past the dinosaur skeleton chasing the hero, she had a good time too. The movie was a lot of fun.

We also hung out at a mall for a bit – filled to breaking point with people who were spending a lot of money. I know it has been said before, but I really don’t get why people spent all of December buying stuff for Christmas and then just ratchet it up a notch the week after. We didn’t buy anything. We did amuse ourselves trying out all the beds for a bit. Boo really got into that and begged us to get a new bed. How many 4-year-olds beg their parents to buy a bed? She had decided that she needed a queen-sized bed in her room so her siblings would sleep in there with her and she wouldn’t be alone. She got completely hung on this and came up to me with a pathetically sad look on her face and said, barely holding back tears, “If you – sob – get a big bed so my brother and sister can sleep – sob – in the same room with me – sob, sob – I won’t make you stay and sing me lullabies any more.” Total breakdown. Poor little thing, she wanted her siblings with her so badly she was willing to bargain with me and give up lullabies, which she loves. Sadder still, she thought I don’t like singing to her and would take that deal. I love the lullabies. I just hate it the occasional time she stays awake for 20 minutes, insisting I sing the entire time. I explained that to her and managed to distract her from the bed thing at the same time, but I have to confess, she currently believes that when we get back home, she’s getting a queen-sized bed and Maya and Asher in her room.

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This dial-up service lets me take a brief look at my email and cut and paste a post on the blog, but it is so slow that looking at anyone else’s blog – especially if they have photos up – takes forever. I feel all cut-off. I’m getting lots of knitting done, though.

 

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Snowy happiness!

Snow! It snowed. Just like Mary said happened last time, it snowed on Boxing Day. I’m sitting, looking out the big front windows at piles of fluffy snow everywhere, just like in the pictures below of the road. We had a great pile of ski-crazy children wake up happy this morning.

I am now sitting in peace and quiet, with just Boo and my sister-in-law, R. J, his brother and parents, Maya, Asher and my three nephews have just piled into two minivans and headed for the ski hills. Yay for all of us!

It wasn’t pretty, mind you. We found out we forgot J’s ski suit, Asher’s hat for under his helmet and his poles and Maya’s grade five ski pass (the Canadian ski council gives them out for free for 10-year-olds). Most of the kids’ mitts from yesterday were still wet, since the parents very foolishly thought that saying, “Put wet mitts in front of the fire to dry,” 300 times would actually cause the kids to put their wet mitts in front of the fire. Ha! They thought we said, 300 times, leave your wet mitts in a heap by the door, preferably in a puddle. We have back-ups, but not that many.

But now they are all gone and we have relative quiet (still got Boo) for a few hours.

Yesterday turned out well too.

In fact, it was amazing. Really, really good. Every Christmas, we take the kids tubing near here. I can barely find words to describe how much fun it is. First, unlike skiing, the whole family can go, even Boo. And when you slide down the hill, you can link up the tube by holding onto each other’s ropes and go down in a big group, thereby adding speed and fun to the slide. On Christmas, there are no line-ups at all, so we just pop up and down. More than once, my kids have said that even if they celebrated Christmas, this is the way they’d want to spend it, because it is just such an enjoyable family experience.

This year was the best yet. There was actually enough snow to go sliding, because you need very little to get going on an inner tube, it was just cold enough but not very cold, and very few other people had thought the conditions would be good, because we’ve never seen it so empty. Also, not only where the cousins here too, but three other families joined us on the hill, making us a group of 26 people. We had 10 children between the ages of 6 and 10, with a smattering of others too. But with the hill so quiet and so many kids, both adults and children enjoyed the kids’ unprecedented freedom and independence.

We stayed for hours. The kids would have happily stayed longer, but the adults were wiped. I went to bed at 9 pm.

It is the great white north after all! I hope everyone else’s Christmas went as well as ours did.

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