Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Collecting Our Gas Masks

We were going to go to the library this afternoon as we missed our regular day yesterday. The library is on the way home from nursery so we hadn't gone out of our way when we discovered that it's not open on Tuesday afternoons. Then on the way home we bumped into a friend who told me they were giving out gas masks at the local shopping centre which is 10 minutes walk from our house. We've all had gas masks since the first Gulf War in 1991 but they've taken them back, re-issued them once and then taken them back again a few years ago. I honestly don't know if they take them away when they become old and then re-issue with updated versions, or if it's to do with the security situation and preparations for war. I know we are on high alert at the moment because of the general instabilities in the Middle East. Whatever, I suppose I'd rather have them than not.

So after a quick stop for toilets, filling our water bottles, dropping off the library books and grabbing an ice-cream in a cornet, we set out to get our gas masks. DD kept forgetting what they were called:
"What are we buying?"
"We're not buying anything, they're giving them to us."
"How do you call them?"
"Gas masks."

We arrived at the mall and waited only two minutes in a short queue. I gave them my identity card and we were issued with these.


It was then that I realised I had no idea what to tell my 3 1/2yo about these mysterious boxes that we had collected and were taking home. We had the following bizarre conversation:
"Mummy, which one is mine?"
"The big one is yours and the smaller one is mine."
"This is mine?" (patting the larger box)
"Yes, that's yours."
"Can I open it?"
"No."
"I want to open mine."
"We can't, we're not allowed to open them."
"We're not allowed to?"
"No."
"When we get home we could open it?"
"No, we can never open it?"

I could tell she didn't believe me but I changed the subject. We rode on the little carousel of horses(which only costs 30p a ride instead of the whole pound it cost in Edgware). We had supper at the kebab place (big chunks of chicken breast on skewers and chips for DD while I ate the pita, hummus and salad that comes with it free). I was very proud of myself for not giving in to Burger King even though it woud have been cheaper probably.

After supper we decanted the rest of DD's orange drink into her water bottle and bagged the uneaten chicken and chips to eat later. One more ride on the horses and we walked home. All in all a very successful outing - except that we went to get gas masks. I spent the whole walk home trying to think of something to say if DD asked what the gas masks were for. I couldn't think of anything.

Once home DD had a tantrum because, as I suspected, she was sure she would be able to open her box when we got home.



Eventually I settled her in front of a dvd with the remains of her supper. Not the healthiest supper I know but those chunks of chicken are much better than a McBurgerKing hotdog. and the chips are real chunks of fried potato rather than reconstituted fake fries.


In the end DD didn't ask what the gas masks were for. She's accepted that the policeman said we're not allowed to open it. ("No, not even next week." "No, not even on Shabbat!") Tonight when she's asleep I'll hide them under the bed and hope she forgets all about them (except she won't as she's got the memory of an elephant). I think the answer is probably to go and collect your gas masks without your children as there really is no explanation suitable for a young child.

Update - tears every half an hour as she remembers that we're not allowed to open the boxes and she still wants to. *sighs*

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

50 Days To Change My World Part 2 - Fad Diets

Five days in to my 50 day countdown to my 50th birthday and following this post, here is the first update (a bit late). After five days of trying to eat sensibly I lost 400g (which could be 1lb as my scales only do 100g increments). Extrapolate this to the full time available and I will have lost 4kg. Sorry, not good enough for the emotional cost of exposing my efforts in public. (I'm only doing this as a desperate attempt to get me to stick to it.)

In a bid to up the ante I found myself googling things like: drastic fad diets for quick weight loss. This goes against everything I believe in about healthy and moderate eating for life being the best way to look and feel great. I humbly apologise to my guru and idol Mireille Guiliano (French Women Don't Get Fat, Knopf 2005) but I'm desperate.

I once did the cabbage diet (when it was called Scarsdale) and only lost a few pounds out of the promised 10+ over the week. I once ate only protein and was losing 2lbs a day and running a low fever. By day 5 I could feel my heart racing and I felt sick, so I stopped.

My mother, back in the 1970s, had a book in the house (which means she bought it, which tells a lot about me) called Fad Diets (maybe 100 FDs or The Best FDs?). Clever author made them all up - brilliant money maker. I could have written it myself and I was only 14. One diet was a hard-boiled egg and a tomato six times a day with plenty of water and tea or coffee (no milk). I did this one for a couple of days. I added two Ryvita crackers to each meal but still gave up through boredom. It worked though - obviously. Another fad diet was six yogurts during the day. I don't know if it was suggested but my idea was to choose something small and up to 200 calories, and eat it six times a day. You can change the foods every day but not during the day as that would be less of a fad and starts to get complicated (like a real diet).

The high protein with plenty of fruit and vegetables but very restricted and prescriptive diets are great for a fortnight's blast. Even they say not to do them for more than two weeks as they're very low calorie and low carb.  However, I could enjoy lean chicken or fish with a scantily dressed salad for supper every night for a while. However, I'm no longer a single person who can have no other food in the house and go to bed at 7pm with a book in order to avoid the kitchen. I have (as we all do) my own personal restrictions and temptations:

1. I don't have meat in the house so no chicken and salad based meals. I could have salmon every night but fish is very expensive here. Or eggs but these things often do eggs for breakfast or lunch.

2. I have to (because I want to) sit and eat supper with my 3yo every evening. I want us to eat (basically) the same so it has to be something she likes as well.

3. I'm not prepared to gamble with my health even for a few weeks.

4. I will only eat real food and with as little processing and chemical input as possible. I prefer to be satisfied by and luxuriate in a full-fat yogurt than a 0% fat with added aspartime which leaves me still craving for something richer. Ditto for a good drizzle of healthy olive oil on my salad. I am not afraid of a bit of fat.

5. I know me, even though it is healthier and cheaper to eat an orange (or grapefruit) a day, in my house they tend to sit around until they go moldy and have to be chucked. I will benefit more from my glass of 100% fruit juice.

6. I am not afraid of a bit of fat (see 4.) but sugar is the enemy in my book. Luckily I'm not that partial to sweet food so I can easily go without dessert and prefer a bunch of grapes instead.

7.  There is probably a lot of truth in the belief that going wheat-free does you a lot of good and you feel great but I need to have something filling, quick and easy that I enjoy in order to stick to it so my toast is still in. I can't do it all at once and it may be too restrictive if you are already meat-free.

8. You need to restrict calories. Simples.

So with all of the above in mind, I have written my own (not so fad) diet and started it today. This post is quite long enough already so I'll report back with full details and results soon. (i.e. as soon as there are results.)

You can read Part 3 - Style makover, here.
50 Days Part 4 - Happiness Shows

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perplexed About Minute of Silence Etiquette

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about the efforts to persuade the International Olympic Commmittee to hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony in honour of the 11 Israeli Athletes who were murdered 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

As it became obvious that this was probably not going to happen, people started to concentrate on what could be achieved to honour the 11 Israeli Athletes and remember them on this 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.

One nice idea was for everyone to hold a personal minute of silence at a pre-arranged time. I was invited to attend this facebook 'event': Virtual Moment of Silence for Murdered Olympic Athletes started by Roni Bat-lavi and Ariana Heiderman.

I 'joined' and forwarded the invitation to my entire friends list of about 550 people (many of whom I've heard of but mostly Jewish nevertheless - not that non-Jews don't or shouldn't care about this). At the time of writing there are 1,828 people 'going' and163 maybes out of 14,669 invited. The minute of silence is called for 7.30 pm (UK) on Friday 27th July to coincide with the beginning of the opening ceremony.

Since then I've been invited to two other similar events. The Minute for Munich (public event, 8,733 'going' and 542 maybes out of 70,410 invited) is called for 11 am (GMT +1) on Friday 27th July. This one uses the traditional 11 am remembrance time and does not interfere with Shabbat or the opening ceremony (whichever you are celebrating).

Just One Minute started by Pietro Fabris, Tali Israeli and 13 others (2,624 'going' and 460 maybes out of 14,625 invited) will be held on Thursday 26th July at 7pm (GMT+1), a whole day before Shabbat and  the opening ceremony.

I joined all three minutes of silence but did not pass the subsequent invitations on to my fb friends as I felt that would have been overkill. Shame it wasn't better coordinated and adding up the numbers doesn't tell us anything.

That being said, it is a nice idea. It won't change anything, it won't bring anybody back, and no one will know if you actually did it or not. I am going to do it (not sure which but possibly all three) as it is meaningful to me to take a minute to remember as we do on other solemn occasions.

So what am I perplexed about? Facebook informs me that over 100 of my friends are 'going' to the event I publicized. So far so great. I don't know how many of the maybes are my friends (I know at least one). This is a little bit perplexing. What does 'maybe' mean? If you have time? If you remember? If after having carried out further research you can see no reason not to?

However, the most perplexing thing is the number of my friends (about 20 I think) who have declined. Why? Why decline? No one is chasing you for an rsvp. No one needs to know the numbers for catering/security/cloakroom tickets. And I'm talking about righteous people who have values that I admire.

I realize that some people may not be able to do a minute of silence at the prescribed time. Maybe it is just when you are putting the children to bed or sitting down to eat. Maybe it is not the done thing on Shabbat or it may even be forbidden. But why actually click on 'decline'?

There is a purpose to these things other than simply being a good thing to do (in my opinion). As I said, it's personal and no one will know if you did or if you didn't. What will be known is that up to 100,000 people were invited to join these events and only 13,000 have responded positively. Btw, I have no problem with those who have a personal policy of not joining or sharing anything on fb.

I also have a policy not to pass on silly things (unless they are really funny or clever) and even "share if you are against child abuse" type posts I find a bit strange and I ignore them. Anything, in fact, that tells me what to do if I care and implies that I don't care if I don't follow the instructions, I tend to ignore. I wouldn't click on an option to decline caring about child abuse or any other real topic of concern. I may not do as I'm asked if I see no practical good that can come out of it but I wouldn't lessen the hosts' initiative by declining if they feel they are helping in some way.

I am not being judgemental here as I genuinely have no clue why anyone would actively announce that they decline to take a minute to remember the Israeli Athletes, rather than just ignoring the invitation for whatever personal reasons they have. If anyone can shed some light on this I would be happy to read your comment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

#ArtIHeart 15 - Rabbi On A Bicycle

Art I Heart

Share the art you love from your walls, a birthday card, what your child drew at school, that you saw in The National Gallery in London...

1. Choose one piece of art that has a short personal story behind it. It could be something on your wall, something you've seen in a gallery and love, homedrawn, on a postcard, on a birthday card, something by Degas or something by your DS.

2. Take a photograph, scan or download a picture of your picture and post it along with the short story about why you are drawn to it, have it on your wall, bought it, or hate it. Don't forget to link back to the linky so your readers can see the other entries.

3. Link up (it's open till next Thursday, 4pm GMT), leave a comment, et voila!

Here's mine:

Speeding Patriarch by Alexander Klevan

I bought this signed, limited (400) lithograph in about 1997, a couple of years after it was painted. Alexander Klevan (b. 1950 in Siberia and emigrated to Israel) paints a variety of subjects including Rabbis rushing around on unlikely modes of transport (bikes, roller-skates and skis), women (in various stages of undress), still life (flowers, fruit and wine), romantic spiritualism (think Marc Chagall and Klevan actually has his own Fiddler On The Roof), Mediteranean coastal scenes and clocks (often hidden among other themes).

I bought it because I love the colours (and I thought it might  balance out the problem caused by this painting). The subject is a little comical which appealed to me even though I don't usually choose specifically Jewish themes in art. If I were choosing again I might pick one of the following which I also love (although the woman wouldn't help with this dilemma):

Here's my copy on the wall in my apartment:





And here is a much wider slection of Klevan's work:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Empty Plot


This playground in the school opposite us, is the proposed site for DD's nursery school. They start on August 27th so there's plenty of time, it being only half way through July and all.

Why is this happening? It's the result of a good thing actually. A few months ago the Knesset passed a law that free education should begin at age 3 rather than 5 as had been the case. When I say 'free' it's a loose term but it's a lot cheaper than a private nursery. For example, the nursery finishes at 1.30 or 2pm so you pay for the afternoon programme until 4pm if you're working, which most mothers are.

Many families who were in the private sector subsequently decided to register for State nursery. The economic situation was also a factor in this decision for many. Added to that, there have been whole new neighbourhoods built on previously agricultural land nearby. No schools and two nurseries were built to accommodate this influx of about 2000 families. And more building has started.

In my area, there were 70 children with no place for the coming academic year. The solution has been twofold. 1. To subsidise some of the private nurseries in order to encourage parents to stay where they are. 2. Build at least three (that I know of) new nurseries. Two of them are planned for one of the palygrounds (pictured) in the school opposite.

I know they will be pre-fabs and so they really don't take too long to put in place and connect up, but I'll be a lot happier when I see something happening. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 16, 2012

50 Days To Change My World Part 1

Sometimes it seems like my whole life has been a battle for perfection. Being a Virgo (if you believe in these things, which I'm not sure I do) I am destined to be a perfectionist. Being a procrastinator of the first order I am always on the losing side. And the biggest struggle is the one about weight. I know I can be slim as I've achieved it several times in my life and maintained a slim figure for years sometimes. However, once you lose it (or should that be gain it?) it can take years to get back into the right mindset.

With money tight and a wardrobe full of clothes that no longer fit it's a no brainer that spending less on food I don't need to eat and opening up a whole new/old wardrobe of clothes I already own is a sensible economic move. If only it were just a matter of good sense.

I cannot stick to one of those diets that tell you exactly what to eat each day. Nor one that requires a degree in chemistry in order to work out the system. I cannot spend hours cooking fancy food and be expected to leave uneaten portions for subsequent days. I'm not into exercising. However, whilst I approve of a healthy way of eating for your whole life rather than a drastic diet - I've reached the point where this isn't working for me either as the slowness of it is too frustrating. Did I mention that I don't eat meat (at home - I'll blog about it, bear with me on this one).

After DD was born I quickly lost all the baby weight and more. I was breastfeeding, happy, under no pressure as I'd just had a baby so I could justify any lumps and bumps, stress-free as I'd saved up enough money to stay at home and not work for the first year... Whatever the reasons, here's what I looked like when DD was a few weeks old.


By the time she was 6 months my face had rounded out again (not such a bad thing) and the hips were filling out again nicely too (a bad thing).


Three years later, I have been starting a diet every few weeks, losing even up to 10lbs, and then throwing in the towel only to start again the following Sunday morning or 1st of the month. The goal was always my 50th birthday - I had a whole year to succeed, then 6 months, 3 months... Now we are down to 50 days. (Yeah I know, who's 'we' Pale Face?)

I have in the past done an 'I'm going on a diet' post in the hopes that a public announcement will spur me on (or shame me) towards success. I've resisted that lately for obvious reasons (embarrassment mainly). HOWEVER. It's 50 days until my 50th Birthday! This is not how I want to look on my 50th Birthday:






I'm not the worst case of morbid obesity of the like regularly featured in the sensational press but I did once put up a picture of Lucien Freud's Sue Tilley on my fridge to constantly remind myself of my potential.


Lucian Freud's portrait of Sue Tilley sold for a record £17million

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1019795/What-dreadful-painting-tells-art-corrupting-power-money-mans-contempt-female-sex.html#ixzz20lwkcqvF
Hahaha - thank you God! As I was writing the previous paragraph the phone rang. It was friends visiting from London and inviting me to join them for lunch at a local restaurant. I've just finished my OK (though  not meagre) breakfast of a wholewheat pitta stuffed with cheese and tomato, and two coffees. Of course I'm going out to lunch but you see what I mean about the best intentions. I will not eat the bread, I will not eat the bread....

So in a Bridget Jones mode of social suicide, I pledge to update as I downsize.

Read Part 2 - Fad Diets.
Read Part 3 - Style Makover.
Part 4 - Happiness Shows.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pronoun Problems


From Google Images
I was tempted to call this "Whatever".

DD: Me want grape juice.

Me: I not me. I want grape juice.

DD: You want grape juice as well?

Me: No, I don't want grape juice.

DD: Not you? Just me?

Me: Yes.

DD: Yes, just me want grape juice.

Me: *sighs* Here's your grape juice.




(I'm linking this post to "The things they say and do" at Thinly Spread.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vegetarian Shabbat Lunch

This week was one of those weeks - exams to grade, over 100 late papers submitted by students desperate to get in before the final final date and all needing to be graded by the final final date of course, and Shabbat Lunch.

About Shabbat Lunch. Shabbat (Sabbath) is Saturday, when people do most of their socializing. Apart from being the one day of proper weekend, there are loads of restrictions on what you can do (no shopping, nothing involving travel by car or payment in fact, no computer or tv at home). This is all optional obviously but it does reinforce the tradition of two festive meals, one on Friday night and one for lunch the next day. (Some people also fit in a little drink-spotty [called Kiddush] in the morning and tea in the evening but these are the two biggies.)

When I was single, along with my other single friends, I used to prefer entertaining or going out on Friday night and having a more relaxed day on Saturday. Now that I have a 3 1/2yo the emphasis has shifted to daytime activities and Friday night has become a very low key affair with just the two of us. It doesn't matter which you choose, I love entertaining. I love the cooking, the presenting, the eating, the company. I even don't mind the clearing up afterwards. What I've found it very hard to get my head around for almost three years, is cleaning the flat sufficiently to have guests over. WAH means there's always a conflict of interests and, as I read on fb, doing housework with a toddler in the house is like trying to brush your teeth while eating chocolate cake.

Thinking all the grading, etc... would be over this week, I invited two of DD's friends from nursery with their families to join us for lunch. So I had to clean on top of everything else. I feel great that it's done. DD was so excited and happy to have her friends over. I am happy to be back in the reciprocating loop after too long going to other people and never returning the favour.

However, sommat had to give and the blog was in danger of yet another week of going from Silent Sunday to Silent Sunday and nothing in between. So, inspired by my bloggy friend Esther at Frugal and Kosher, I'm giving you my Vegetarian Shabbat Lunch Menu.

First course:

Challah (plaited bread loaves, bought)
Egg mayonaise salad
Stuffed vine leaves (bought)
Green salad with avocado and salty cheese.
Israeli Salad (tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers)
Pickled cucumbers (bought)

Main course:

Vegetable Kugel (like potato kugel but with grated courgette, cabbage and carrots also added. And I put in some sour cream as well).
Cheese pancakes (with ketchup for the children)
Rice cooked with sweet corn (and red lentils but they diappear so no one knows).
Roasted vegetables in a light soy sauce to serve on the rice. (Aubergine, courgette, mushrooms, carrots, onion and garlic. I had some sweet potato but I forgot to put it in.)


Dessert:


Melon and grapes
Some fancy chocolate biscuits (bought)
Ice-cream cones (for the children but we all had).

As you can see, I'm not much of a dessert person but as there was way too much food, we were full by then anyway. And the fridge and freezer are stocked for the forseeable future.

Some clean and some still waiting
One happy fridge