Saturday, February 16, 2019

Smug And Friendly R2BC

The last of the clutter heading to the Yedidya Bazaar
This week's reasons 2B cheerful are about a lovely weekend. Social as well as productive. The linky to more R2BC posts is on Michelle's Mummy from the Heart.

On Friday morning I was up early(ish) and well into my work (writing the answer key for the exam my students sat on Tuesday) when a friend whom I've not seen for ages, called. She is a very good friend who moved away a couple of years ago and we sort of lost touch. However, she was in Jerusalem for the morning and asked if she could pop in for coffee. This is the best suggestion as I didn't have to get ready to go out and I didn't have to waste time actually going out.

She gave me half an hour to jump in the shower and then do a quick tidy-round of the apartment. No time to clean but at least it was tidy and the sink was free of dirty dishes. It's amazing what you can achieve in 20 minutes of frenzied panic when you know a guest is coming.

We had a lovely chat and catch-up over coffee and then she said she was driving down to my preferred supermarket. I should always go to this supermarket as it's much cheaper than the smaller one around the corner. But I don't always have time for the 15 minute walk each way or I don't have the energy so I pop around the corner and spend way more money on food. (New week's resolution is to go to the bigger supermarket every week now that the worst of the winter is over.)

So I grabbed the opportunity and took the ride down to the big super. I bought all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables, and some other staples. I was quite shocked at how little it all came to compared to what I've been paying recently. (New week's resolution is to absolutely and no excuses, go to the bigger supermarket every week now that the worst of the winter is over.)

I came home and graded all my exams. Whilst I was grading, another friend whatsapped some photos from their (she and her son) two day trip to Mt. Hermon to play in the snow. They were on their way back to Jerusalem and would get in just before Shabbat. I had to ask, especially as I had a kitchen full of food: "do you have dinner planned or would you like to come to us?" I was sure she'd say no as she had an invitation to someone else, or they were so tired they just wanted to eat a sandwich and go to bed. She accepted immediately. 😊

This was good as it made me cook. And, with an already tidy house, the necessary cleaning wasn't too much of a chore.

We had  relaxed dinner. She brought goody bags for the kids' desert and they took them off to play while we chatted over green tea. It was all very laid back and I was left with a fridge full of cooked food for today and tomorrow in a clean and tidy house.

This afternoon I got out all the decluttered things from last summer that had only got as far as the cupboard in the spudy. The Yedidya Bazaar is next week so this week they'll all be taken to the venue which is a synagogue hall five minutes walk from my home.

As soon as Shabbat went out at sundown, I planned my lessons for tomorrow, wrote some emails, and blogged. And after reading some other blogs, I shall watch something on Netflix whilst sewing up two pairs of DD's leggings.

It's been one of those weekends when everything got done as well as being sufficiently social to make me feel thoroughly smug and blessed with friends.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Eat, Read, Watch The Sunset - R2BC

DD's photo of Sunset over Jerusalem
This week the happy go lucky linky is back with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart. And here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful. Sunsets, books and food. What's not to be cheerful about?

DD took this photo on her phone and I shared it on facebook. It was a spectacular sunset over Israel that night and lots of people were sharing their snaps of it. I thought DD's was particularly good and apparently lots of people agreed as it got 71 likes. (One of the likes was me. I admit I liked my own post.) DD was so excited and kept asking me to check her score.

English Library
We have quite an extensive English library at our school of which I am in charge this year. Most of the books are donated and I would say that about half of them are not suitable for English language learners from 4th to 6th grade. They were donated by English speaking families and are great for native English speakers, but not so much for learners. 

We asked each child to pay 10 shekels to "join" the library for the year and so I ended up with over 1,000 nis to spend on new reading books. I went online and had the time of my life choosing a balance of girl/boy/both interest, beginners to intermediate levels (mostly "I Can Read" books, levels 1 to 3), interest appropriate for 9 to 12 year olds, and some interesting non-fiction (biographies and history, e.g. Amelia Earhart and Titanic).

They've not arrived yet but I've got my sticky-backed plastic ready for hours of covering.

Val d'Isere
Not the skiing resort, the breakfast. I went out for breakfast to celebrate a friend's birthday on Friday morning and chose the Val d'Isere from the breakfast menu. It was toast spread with pesto, slices of camembert over the pesto, and topped with a poached egg. On the side was a salad of baby beet leaves and almond slivers with a vinaigrette dressing. It was delicious.

So if I disappear off to Val d'Isere for a week next winter. Know that I'm going for the breakfast (pre ski?) rather than the skiing.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

R2BC for February

Reasons 2B Cheerful from a sunny Jerusalem in February. I'm joining the cheerful linky on Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

Lark - Trial Run
I wrote that I'd be starting the early mornings on Sunday (tomorrow) - the first working day of February. But on Wednesday I had a trial run. I got up at 5.30. I didn't do any work work as I'd planned, but rather I spent 1.5 hours pottering. The other half hour was getting dressed.

I cannot tell you how much that pottering affected my whole day. I did the dishes in the sink and folded the clean laundry whilst also doing two more loads of laundry and then hanging it out. I tidied, I paid all the outstanding bills that were due, I filed papers, and I found the documents I needed to take to the tax office - a job that has to be done in January and that I've been putting off.

I gave DD a pile of clothes to wear instead of shouting out to her to find something in her cupboard. I made her lunch. We were both much calmer than usual without any of the usual pressure and stress to get out on time. I caught the earlier bus and, helped by the fact that the sun was shining and the sky was a clear blue, I sat on the bus thinking how happy I was (pht pht pht).

And the effect rolled over to Thursday when I got up at 6 but still felt empowered by Wednesday's early start. I didn't achieve much on Wednesday morning but just being up early gave me such a feeling of control that I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow morning. (And I intend to do things like dishes, folding laundry and tidying up before I go to bed tonight.) This is unheard of, no one looks forward to Sunday mornings in February. (Remember we start the working week on Sunday.)

Tax Office
I did my homework and went on a day that they are actually open. There are two visits one has to make at the beginning of the year if you work in more than one place. The first, in January, to get your tax positions for the coming year, i.e. how much tax each employer has to deduct. The second is in March when you apply for any tax returns from the year before. You can, of course, do all this online, but I like to go and get the papers in my hand immediately. And the tax office is only one bus ride from my house. I was in and out in 20 minutes. Wednesday was a very good day.

In more northern climes, February is usually miserable. You've had enough of the cold, gray winter, Christmas is long passed and snow has well and truly lost its magic. But it lingers for up to another month. February in England used to be the Monday morning of the year.

Here February is a weird time. It could be the beginning of spring. We're having plenty of warm days atm, with blue skies. The almond blossom is out. It feels all hopeful and light. Otoh, February could surprise us with another bout of winter, and even snow in Jerusalem. We didn't get any snow that stuck this year and a snow day would be most welcome, seeing as we get no half-term or spring break holiday from school. So either way it'll be good.

We bought strawberries for the first time this season. They've been out for a while but you have to wait until the price comes down to something reasonable. Delicious.

Report Card
DD got her report card for the end of the first semester and it's fine. I have to sign it and send it back but before it goes back, there's a section that DD has to fill in about what she's proud of and what she wants to work harder at next semester. She's proud of her progress in Hebrew, that she got top marks for Bible Studies and Computer Studies, and that the sports teacher noticed how much fitter she is this year (thanks to gymnastics twice a week).

She wants to work harder in Maths because although she progressed, she feels the teacher underestimates her and she should have got the top grade. And she'll put that she wants to work harder in Geography because I want her to. Especially as she lost ground because I didn't realize the urgency of buying her an atlas. We scraped through science but we're not that bothered. I'm not scientific so it'll be up to some future science teacher to inspire her in that subject if it's going to happen. And finally, English and Art - top grades. All in all, just fine.

Yedidya Bazaar
We have the dates for this Year's Yedidya Bazaar. 24th and 25th of February. And we can start dropping things off a week before on the 17th Feb. That's really near. I'm so excited to clear almost a whole cupboard of things I decluttered last summer (as part of the 1000 Clutters Challenge) - but only as far as the spare room wardrobe.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Sunrise facing west. Holyland Tower looks like it's on fire. 
This time last year I concluded that Miracle Mornings were not a realistic prospect for me. However, since then I've revisited the idea of an early start, albeit with a slightly different goal in mind. It's not without problems for a Night Owl like me. Let's face it, if you are a natural Lark, you're up anyway. I'm not a Lark but I truly believe in the old rhyme:

Early to be, Early to rise, 
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

My problems are to do with the fact for 10 months of the year I have homework to do outside my paid working hours, full days at school or college, housework, I have shopping and cooking to do, and mothering for a few hours every evening. Here are a list along with some possible solutions. I've not put any of the solutions into practice yet so whether they work or not will be a future post.

1. I have homework.
I teach classes during the day but outside the classrooms I need to prepare courses, grade papers, write reports, liaise with students and parents, do my freelance writing work, etc... it never seems to end. However, after a day at school or college and then returning to help DD with her homework or take her to gymnastics, make supper, clear away supper, and possibly do some housework or shopping, I'm finished for the night. I have no energy left for my own homework.

Solution: I need to get up early enough to do a significant amount of work in the morning, before school or college, when I'm fresh. The work has to be done at some time in the day so if it's not in the evening after work, the only other time is in the early morning before work. (Another solution would be to work one day less and use this day to work at home. But financial incentives made me sign up for five days in school/college and I'm committed to this until the summer at least.)

2. I am a Night Owl with little to no Lark in me.
I have difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good night's sleep. I also have difficulty making myself go to bed early when I'd much rather be watching something on Netflix or even reading into the night. A friend pointed out that when people have an early plane to catch, they have no difficulty in getting up before dawn to get to the airport. I don't entirely agree. We do early morning flights back to Israel from London and though we obviously do get up extremely early, we hate it. Also, there's a big difference between doing it once in a while for a specific reason, and habitually getting up at 4 am.

Solution: On the other hand, he has a point and there have been times in my life when I've jumped out of bed eager to start the new day. If I identify such times, they are all times when I've been excited and happy about the events promised for that day. Ipso facto, the problem is not about getting up in the morning, it's about loving your life. I'm working on that because although I'm in the comfortable position of definite contentment, it's obviously not good enough.

3. Adequate sleep is essential for good health.
I've read many medical articles which show the link between lack of sufficient sleep and illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, not to mention obesity and all its connected health risks. One Doctor described how he panics if he can't meet his daily need for eight hours a night in order to have the cancer fighting hormones that sleep produces. So however much you tell me that Sir Winston Churchill famously survived on four hours sleep a night, I saw him on The Crown and he did not enjoy a healthy old age. (The cigars and whisky may have contributed to this.) Shift work seems to be especially problematic and whilst I don't do shifts, working late some nights and getting up early some mornings, produces a sort of shift work sleep pattern.

Solution: This is an easy one. Identify how much sleep you need and work backwards. I do probably need eight hours but I'm willing to work on seven. Then make yourself go to bed (with reading-in-bed time considered) at the appointed time. One advantage of modern tv viewing is that we can switch off and pick up in the same place the next night. We're not beholden to schedules set by the tv channels. I have to get over the notion that going to bed early is unsophisticated.

4. How to use the morning time?
Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning is all about preparing for the day but not about actually getting anything done. With a list of inspiring and energizing rituals, (exercise, meditation, affirmations, prayer, journal writing, reading, and juicing) it leaves you needing to go to work with nothing crossed off the "essential to do" list. (Also, he has a wife, a cleaner, and no boss demanding regular homework.) So as beneficial as some people swear that it is, this is not my goal. I need to get things done. As, I said, I have homework, but I also have housework and cooking to do. And I would like to blog more, and pursue various at-home interests. Unless I get up half an hour before I go to bed, I can't do everything in the 1.5 hours, tops, that I can make available in the mornings. (Getting up before 5.30 am is too drastic as is going to bed before 10 to sleep at 10.30 after half an hour of reading. You have to work with your own body clock, not against it.) Btw, for those of you screaming, "what about the gym? What about exercise?" I take a French Women Don't Get Fat approach. I don't have a car and I live on the third floor without a lift. With a pilates dvd at home, I think I'm covered.

Solution: Forget the housework, do the work work. Getting my homework done will give as much of a boost and good attitude towards the day ahead as all that other stuff. Do some housework at the weekend as required. Read in bed for half an hour before going to sleep. Blogging and other 'me' activities just have to be done in the evening or not at all. (Luckily I'm teacher so I still get school holidays.) Continue to rotate pasta, omelets, and tuna on toast for supper. Make DD's packed lunch and clean the kitchen before going to bed.

So that's the plan. Starting on Sunday because February 1st and 2nd are the weekend and time-off for good behaviour. I'll let you know.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

School Fair Bonanza - R2BC

I loved comparing the photos from previous years (follow the links). 
Reasons 2B Cheerful are precisely calculated at 100 nis (about £23)...each. Read this then pop over to Becky's Lakes Single Mum for more cheerful posts from around the world.

It was the annual school fair. This is the third year running that DD and her BFF have shared a stall selling all their old toys. I don't know how we manage to find enough toys every year but we seem to. BFF's mum also has connections with a plant nursery so she brings about 40 small plants as a sideline (although they are actually more popular than most of the old toys).

The first year that DD and BFF took part, there was no real money involved. It was hilarious as the G's (pretend school monetary notes) had a lifespan of two hours and then ceased to be valid currency. There was a certain amount of pressure to spend it all accompanied by gay abandonment, as it didn't really mean anything.

Last year, DD and BFF came home with 32 nis each (about £7.50). They were very excited and so was I. We'd cleared out a load of unwanted stuff, DD had spent some of the proceeds to indulge in a bit of spending of her own at the fair. She mainly bought food so we didn't come home with someone else's unwanted stuff which is always the danger.

As in previous years, the food stalls were very creative. There were pasta bars, felafel stands, pancakes and waffle places, a tea and coffee stall manned by one of the staff, cakes, cookies, crisps and popcorn, sweets, ice-cream and ice-lollies, drinks, candy-floss.... no one went hungry.

In addition to the food, there were arts and crafts, toys, books, plants, key rings, bookmarks, jewellery, and pom-poms. And probably more things that I can't remember. The Headmistress took half the English books we'd brought, for the English library. At the end of the day I donated the other half.

DD and BFF made over 200 nis. I think most of this was because they sold the larger plants for 5 nis each and we gave some games in perfect condition that they also sold for 5 nis. (The school set 5 nis as the upper limit for prices.)

And the sun shone making it a very warm January day.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits #50 - Sainbury's Suckers

At the hairdresser next to Aldi and opposite Sainsbury's
I've not written one of these tidbit posts for ages and they used to be my favourite posts. It's largely because DD doesn't make so many funny language mistakes any more. We still have some idiosyncrasies like calling the phone charger, the plugger. And DD will ask me, "what's the hour?" as a direct translation from the Hebrew which is like the French - Quelle heure est-il?

When we were in London, I went looking for Strepsils in Sainsbury's on Stanmore Broadway. We like Sainsbury's even though there's a big Lidl just opposite and about 200 metres nearer to my Mum's flat. Call me a snob, because I am sometimes, but the whole shopping experience is just more pleasant in Sainsbury's. However, I'm not so much of a snob that I won't consider the Sainsbury's own brand products when they're half the price of the other brands. So I bought a few packets of Sainsbury's Throat Lozenges. (Blackcurrant flavour if you're interested.)

Last week DD was coughing and I gave her some throat lozenges to take to school. The next evening she was still coughing so she went to the cupboard in search of more.

DD (calling from the kitchen): Mummy! Can I have one of these Sainsbury's Suckers?
Me: You mean people who shop in Sainsbury's when there's a perfectly good Lidl opposite?
DD: What?
Me: Yes, you can take one.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Happy New Year Trees! - R2BC

I think they should have closed the schools!
Remember this?

Whether the weather be hot, 
Or whether the weather be not,
We'll weather the weather, 
Whatever the weather.
Whether we like it or not.

Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week are almost all weather related. I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

1. It's my Eight Year Blogiversary. 19/1/2011 was the first the blog post. That's it really, who knew that eight years later I'd still be at it.

2. On Wednesday night we had snow. If the snow sticks and is still visible at 7 am, even the tiniest bit which we all know will be gone by 08.30, school is cancelled. They were expecting it and all schools closed at 3 pm on Wednesday afternoon. (Thanks for nothing - most Primary schools finish at 3 or even 2.30. Remember that we start at 8 am.) DD's class were in a frenzy of whatsapping on Wednesday evening. Reports coming in from all the surrounding areas about whether it was real snow or just hail. We live half way up the valley so we didn't quite believe that there was actually snow. By Thursday morning the storm had passed and the the ground was wet but clear. All over Jerusalem pupils and teachers dragged themselves out into the cold, wet, grey morning. Their hopes of a snow day at home dashed. Apparently there was snow on the higher grounds and I saw some of it malingering on my way to my school. Seriously, I think that patch warranted a day at home but no one asked me.

3. So on Wednesday evening, DD and I settled down on the sofa, under blankets, and binge watched Heartland on Netflix. We saw about five episodes. Yes that's five hours of TV but it was punctuated by rushing to the window every few minutes to see the lightning and count until the thunder to find out how near the storm was. And we had to assess the snow/hail/sleet/graupel situation in order to contribute to the whatsapping. It's very sweet that this group has rules that the kids are very strict about. A previous class group got silly and sometimes nasty so they set up this new official group. One of the rules is no messaging after 8 pm. So at the height of excitement about the weather, at 8 pm it suddenly went quiet. I was very proud of them.

4. On Monday is Tu B'Shvat (the 15th of the Jewish month of Shvat) which is the New Year for Trees. I think it's supposed to be the official start of spring. The traditional song is all about the sun shining, almond blossom appearing and the birds singing from the rooftops. Seems a bit ridiculous  for the middle of January but every festival has been early this year. (It's a leap year in the Jewish calendar which means we have an extra month next month so while Tu B'Shvat was early, Purim and Passover will be late.) Still, the sun is shining, we are forecast temperatures in the teens all next week, and it feels like the end of the winter might possibly be nigh.

Happy New Year dear trees! I'm not planning to go out and plant a tree, which is one of the Tu B'Shvat customs, but I'll definitely give one or two of them a hug.