Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 25: The App Edition

DD is playing Moy2 with annoying sound effects - falling water, chewing, bouncing, cash register....
Me: Can you stop that?
DD: But Mummy, I have to make him happy. And also I don't want to waste money and waste food. I'm just trying to cheer him up that's why I have to keep playing it.
Me: Oh ok.

DD (while watching Peppa Pig): If you're a mummy or a daddy and it's your birthday you have to go to work.
Me: That's true.
DD: Yes, because otherwise how will they prepare all your surprises?
(Children have selective memories don't they?)

I sometimes try to make DD more comfortable when she's fallen asleep in an impossible position or propped up by too many pillows. Recently she woke up and got cross.  
DD (as I tucked her into bed): Now don't interfere with my comfortable. If I'm uncomfortable I'll sort myself out. You don't start moving my pillows. OK?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Treble Clef

DD has music twice a week in School. When I was 5 music meant singing, possibly with a box of small percussion instruments to be handed out to the lucky few - tambourines, triangles, wooden blocks.

I still remember some of those songs from my Reception class in 1967. Or I should say some of some of those songs. We sang 'Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don't Care' (it seems racism hadn't been invented yet let alone the concept of politically correct). We sang 'All Thing Bright And Beautiful' (but not the verse about the rich man in his castle - so maybe there was some political correctness). And we sang 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?' (Would that even be allowed today?).

I have no idea what DD is doing in Music. She doesn't tell me much about what goes on in school at all. When I ask her what she had for lunch she answers, "Um, I don't think I should tell you." She means, "you're not going to like this but I didn't eat any of it." I'm slowly learning to decode.

Yesterday after music DD brought home this.

Now I know that blogging about your children is a form of bragging as well as keeping a record for posterity. We try to keep it interesting though and include the more difficult moments so it's not just showing off our wonderful little darlings. However, I just think this is the cutest thing I've seen come home from school yet (including all the Mother's Day cards, Rosh Hashana Blessings, etc...).

No apologies, I love this attempt at a treble clef. I don't even know what it's called in Hebrew (and neither does DD) but it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 24: Shana Tova

At the school ceremony for Rosh Hashana. (It's a white shirt day for special days)

I bought a load of cheap sweets and chocolates at the new supermarket as they were such good value. However DD only gets sweets on Shabbat (Friday night/Saturday) so I put most of them away to ration out over the weeks. Last weekend we went to stay with friends who have twins.

On Friday before we left:
DD: Can I have some smarties?
Me: No
DD: I'm taking some. I am....
Me: I said, 'no.'
DD: I'm going to get some....
Me: If you take any sweets there'll be trouble.
DD: What will happen if I take some?
Me: I'll take all the sweets I bought this week and give them to the twins.
DD (with hands on her hips): Well THAT would be a waste of money, wouldn't it?

After three weeks at school and every morning being a struggle to separate with 'just one more cuddle,' and 'just one more kiss,' etc. And every morning I leave the classroom as the teacher is waiting to begin the lesson. (I'm not the last parent to leave btw and other children are sometimes in tears.) This morning as the bell went...

DD: Bye bye Mummy you can go now. (One kiss and a cuddle and that was it, I left.)

Shana Tova to everyone for a very healthy, happy, and successful new year. xxx

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Supermarket Wars in Jerusalem

Until the beginning of the summer there were five main shopping choices for people in my neighbourhood.

1. The Shuk. The open air market downtown. Very cheap but bustling and noisy, no parking and a bus ride away (if you can be bothered to bring all your weekly shopping home on the bus!) There are those who make it a virtue to go to the shuk but most of my friends are not shuk people.

2. Super Deal. Mid-mountain where I live and just oh so conveniently around the corner from me. Unfortunately it's very expensive and quite small.

3. Rami Levy. The cheapest option, along the mid-mountain road a little further away. Imagine a shop the size of your local sweet shop/newagent being stuffed full of everything in Lidl and 200 people trying to get round it with shopping trolleys. I went there once and still have flash-backs.

4. Shufersal. In the valley. A bit like Lidl. Looks like an aircraft hangar but good fruit and veg and cheapish.

5. Mega Bool. In the valley opposite Shufersal and under a nice shopping mall. Mega Bool started off cheap but then got more expensive. However by that time I'd already got the credit card and it was pleasant to walk through the mall to get there and it was the closest thing to Sainsbury's in the area. In short I felt at home in Mega Bool and so did my friends.

[FYI: 1nis is about 18p, 6nis = 1 pound]

Then Mega Bool closed. It was a slow death lasting several weeks while they were open but didn't restock. Pitiful actually. It was painful to watch and one by one we stayed away and cancelled our loyalty cards. But where to go?

I was in denial for a couple of months and popped into Super Deal every couple of days while I made my mind up. I spent 2,000nis/month for the two of us instead of the usual 1,250. Rami Levy would have been about half that for the same food and household goods but I just couldn't. The only choice for me was Shufersal in the aircraft hangar. I met some of the old crowd there and was slowly getting used to it.

And then, big news! Osher Ad opened yesterday where Mega Bool had been. Osher Ad is a bit like Costco except they are not catering primarily to businesses but provide bulk buying opportunities for large religious families with lots of children and not very much money.

I asked for impressions on fb in Secret Jerusalem and got over 200 comments. It's been hilarious. I had people walking round doing live updates. They wouldn't allow photos to be taken as apparently there were spies there from Rami Levy. It was open till midnight, all 24 checkouts working, cheaper than cheap prices, no delivery service unfortunately. The lifts from the shopping mall aren't working yet so if you're not driving you have to walk all the way round. And it doesn't open until 10am which is very inconvenient for parents who drop their kids off at school for 8am - what are you supposed to do for 2 hours while you wait?

I went today. On my way I popped into Shufersal to compare a few prices. Tomatoes had dropped from 3.90nis/kg to 0.90nis/kg and cucumbers were also down to 1.45nis/kg from 3.90. So I guess Shuferal also sent spies yesterday. I reckoned it would be pretty cheap to shop at Shufersal today so I decided to do a quick reccy in Osher Ad and come back to Shufersal. I already had it in my mind that there would be an oppressively religious atmosphere in Osher Ad and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I arrived at 9.57am. Think of the start of a marathon except with shopping trolleys. Think of passport control at the airport in August. Everyone was in a jolly and expectant mood. There were people in strappy tops with bare shoulders, there were Arabs, and there were the orthodox Jews - the usual mixture of clientele for my neighbourhood. No religious coercion here (in some places supermarkets have been known to have dress codes for women).

It's huge. A bit like Costco and Tesco's rolled into one. I'd gone 20 paces when I realised I had to shop here today. Even though the tomatoes and cucumbers were 1.90nis/kg, everything else was a bargain. I bought the 3.2kg block of cheese but will cut it into 6 portions and freeze 5 of them. I bought 2.5kg of hair conditioner for 14nis which I'll decant into 750l water bottles. Sweets for Shabbat were 1nis per packet that usually cost between 5 and 8nis elsewhere. Crisps at 2nis/50g packet. Bread, rolls and pittot at reduced prices. A big box of chocolate croissants for 8.90nis will be quartered and frozen. I bought 1kg of carrots for 1nis. LOL, I don't even like carrots but at that price it would have been rude not to. And the list goes on.

Of course I spent twice what I would usually spend for one week but at least half of it is part of a bulk buy that will last a month. The cashiers didn't know how to work the tills but they'll learn. Unfortunately I had to schlep it all up the mountain in 30 degree heat. I broke my shopping trolley as it was all too heavy for it. So that's about 60nis for a new one of those. But then the cleaner who'd just finished the stairwell in my building offered to carry it all upstairs for me. All in all, I think I will be going there again. And again. And again. Until, as the cynics have pointed out, the prices start to creep up as they do once they've got you chained to their loyalty card.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Single Mother's Birthday

It started with this exchange:

Me: What nice thing shall we do to celebrate my birthday?
DD: Actually I think it's only for children.

And ended with this exchange:

Me: I'm not reading a story to someone who can't even wish me Happy Birthday.
DD: *big sigh* Happy Birthday Mummy can I have the dinosaur book?

In between was a series of mishaps and meltdowns one after the other. 

7am. Up, make 10 o'clock snack, shower, dress myself. Usual mad panic to get DD awake and cooperative enough for me to dress her. Bully and threaten her with no stories, no playing on my phone, no sugar things, etc... until she goes to the loo and drinks her apple juice. Eventually leave the house - she has a small bag of pretzels in her hand in lieu of breakfast (don't worry, packed lunches are eaten at 10am in school). Make it to school just as the bell is ringing. Class teacher has to prise DD's fingers off my dress to let me go. 

8.05am. Back home, make coffee, check twitter, blog, emails, facebook. Facebook is full of lovely messages wishing me a fabulous, wonderful, fun-filled, day. It hopes I'm spoiled and pampered and made to feel special on my special day. I put on a load of laundry and get to work preparing lessons for my college courses.

Work all day, occasionally check in to all the above forums. More pressure from facebook but it serves me right for going there. Make and eat a million rounds of cheese on toast to compensate for having an ordinary day on my birthday.

4.30pm. Pick up DD from school and, feeling the pressure from facebook, suggest we go out for ice-cream. She has a little drink from her water bottle and we go to the nearest cafe. (This is significant).

4.45pm. I don't even like ice-cream so I just ordered a celebratory coffee. Just instant because that's what I like. It cost 16nis (Over 3 pounds) for something I could have had free at home. 2 scoops of ice-cream cost 28nis (almost 5 pounds!) and of course DD had to also have a drink. Last time we go there (Cafe BeGeenah if you're interested). 

After we ordered and before it came I suggested we see what homework DD had. On opening her bag I realize I'd neglected to put her pencil case back inside when I'd removed it to get her water bottle out. It was sitting on a bench in school. DD promptly had a meltdown. I suggested we run and get it. She didn't want to, preferring to sit and scream about it. I kept thinking about all those coloured pencils and felt tip pens individually labelled with her name - hours of work to redo if we've lost her pencil case. 

5pm. The ice-cream came. It was served in a sundae glass and filled to the top. As DD put her spoon in the ice-cream dribbled out all over the top and ran down the outside onto the table. Meltdown 2. I went to the kitchen to get a bowl and paper napkins, I cleaned up the mess, I sat down. 
DD: I don't even like this ice-cream.

5.20pm. We leave the cafe 10 pounds poorer. I'm in a foul mood. I give myself the tip for cleaning the table.  

5.30pm. We get back to school and rattle the locked doors until the cleaner hears us and lets us in. We find the pencil case under the bench (where it had fallen which is why I didn't notice it when repacking the bag). This was the highlight of my day.

5.40pm. Get out DD's homework. There was quite a lot to do. For Hebrew she had to draw over the outlines of the aleph-bet and then go back to colour all the letters in. By the time she got to the colouring she'd had enough. I told her to leave it for a while and do some more after supper. 
DD: No you do it.
Me: I can't do your homework for you, it's not allowed. 
DD: Just do it! JUST DO IT FOR ME!
Me: Ok, I'll do a few letters. (It was a lot of busy work after all.)
I coloured in three letters and suddenly there was a howl of despair from DD. Apparently there was a pattern going on in the colours and I'd done the wrong colours. Meltdown 3. 

6pm. I go to make supper which is usually served at 6pm but because we'd been out it wasn't made yet. 
DD: Can I have suffink (sic) to keep me going? (I give her a packet of crisps.)

6.20pm. I serve supper. 
DD: Actually I'm not hungry. I'm full up from ice-cream and crisps. (Okey dokey.)

7.30pm. After the dinosaur book and a couple of other stories I left DD in bed and ended the evening on facebook reading about various people being whisked off to the Carmel Spa or at least taken out for a special dinner for their birthdays. They were all feeling the luuuurv. Oh good. Happy for them. Really. 

Happy Birthday to me and all single mothers everywhere! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ode To Autumn In A Hot Country

It's like a cool shower after a day toiling in the fields. Like a comfortable bed after a camping holiday. Like flicking off your party shoes after a night of dancing. In a word - relief.

I'm talking about the Autumn after a Summer that's been sizzling hot since May. I know that September doesn't automatically mean instantly cooler weather but there is a subtle psychology that says it does feel cooler. The nights are noticeably so and the days are drawing in. There are clouds in the sky (although no rain as yet) and gentle breezes. Sleeveless top and dresses are not quite enough in the mornings and late afternoons. There is change in the air.

Schools go back and, therefore, parents go back to work properly. Routine is restored and bedtimes enforced once again. Proper clothes are beginning to emerge, with even a layer or two. Shoes instead of sandals. School uniforms instead of shorts. A general smartening up occurs.

There's an energy. Personal energy as it becomes comfortable to walk more without the incessant heat that was June, July and August. Even cleaning your house is easier and more worthwhile as it seems to stay tidier for longer when the holidays end. There is work to do and schedules to stick to so no time for constantly stopping by the fridge for something to nosh.

I colour my hair and pluck my eyebrows - when was the last time I did that? It feels good and I get into the grooming groove. How about a facial scrub, a deep cleanse, some toner, and a bit of makeup now that the tan is beginning to fade? All these lotions and potions are somewhere in the back of the bathroom cabinet from before the Summer surrender to sweat, sand and frizzy hair.

I look at the parched (that means dead) flowers and plants on my balcony that were neglected in the heat and think about planting anew for the next season. I have seeds and sprouting potatoes ready. I start googling about growing vegetables on a small balcony. I'm thinking about soups and stews all of a sudden. And suppers that warm and fill rather than grabbing a yogurt and some grapes. Now that spending time in the kitchen is bearable again, my culinary ideas are getting more ambitious.

It's a natural build up to Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). Invitations are given and menus planned. There is a desire for everything to be physically clean as well as spiritually prepared. It's a new beginning, a new start, a new leaf, a breath of fresh air, expectation, hope, ambition, inspiration, and motivation. It's Autumn.

The Chinese Bamboo, a story of inspiration and motivation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tidbits 23: Food And Education

DD's in bed and I'm sitting in the living room. Suddenly I hear soft whimpering and moaning coming from DD's bedroom. 
Me: DD are you all right?
Me: Darling, what's the matter? Are you ok?
DD: Be quiet I wasn't talking to you.
Me: What's going on in there then?
DD: I'm just telling myself a story. I don't know why you heard me, I'm telling it very quietly.

In the supermarket.
DD: Do we need carrots?
Me: No, we're not really carrot people.
DD: Of course we're cucumber and tomato people.
DD: Are we potato people? (Yes)
DD: Are we aubergine people? (I am, you're not)
DD: I'm gummy bears people.

A few days later
DD: Mummy why aren't we avocado people any more?
Me: We are Darling but they're not in season at the moment.

DD: Rock and Roll is a kind of music.
Me: Did you learn that in music at school?
DD: No, I learned it from Bubble Guppies. You can learn everything from Bubble Guppies. Even important things. You should watch it. I don't know why you don't watch it.
Me: Do you learn more from Bubble Guppies than you learn from going to school?
DD: Of course! They even have a 'First Day of School' on Bubble Guppies so I already know everything!

DD: Right we never had a chance to say goodbye?
Me: Say to goodbye to who?
DD: To the dinosaurs because they're dead already.

*Photos by Sarit Doron