Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back To School - Hooray!


I'm not 100% sure I want to go actually
The first day was actually Monday but they only went in for two hours. DD started a new kindergarten. It's a two-year class, Pre-K and Kindergarten together. DD is the youngest of the Pre-Ks which means there are children who are almost two years older than her. So far she's taken a liking to twin girls who will be 6 in January (so they told me) whereas DD will be 4 in December. And they are tall. When I first saw them I thought they were bringing in their little brother. It was a bit of a shock tbh but we all saw Little House On The Prairie and they all learned to read in that one little schoolroom, didn't they? Turns out the twins have recently arrived from America so whilst they enjoy helping DD in a big-sisterly sort of way, she tells them what the teacher is saying when they don't understand the Hebrew. It's cute.

Is it too late to change my mind?
As the two hours were from 8am - 10am I didn't send the 10 o'clock snack. However, at 9.30 they all sat down and took out lunch boxes with sandwiches, cut up vegetables and fruit (who knew?). DD got upset and the assistant brought her outside where I was waiting. I picked her up and she sobbed into my neck, "I don't like this school!" Trying not to cry myself I carried her back inside and managed to find some crackers in my bag and her water bottle. Luckily one mother had baked a chocolate cake so that was also handed around. We left at 9.45 - enough is enough on the first day.

New school bag from Aunty Duzy
Tuesday was three hours and she stayed without any fuss. And today  - *sighs with big smile on face* - today was the first full day. DD was a bit tearful as I left her with the assistant. I waited outside for five minutes and indeed she was brought out crying in the arms of said assistant. "Here's Mummy, you see?" said the woman. I went to give DD a kiss as she was reaching out for me. "OK!" chirped the lady holding my baby, as she turned and disappeared back inside before I could come to close. I blew a kiss and was left alone and a bit dazed. I've learned though that you have to trust that the staff know what they're doing. I didn't see DD again until pickup time at 3.30.

I'm really quite enjoying this after all
Today I pottered about, checked emails and work stuff (without doing any actual work). I cooked quite a lot because I enjoy cooking uninterrupted. I admit that I fell asleep for a couple of hours in the middle of the day and I read my book. Today was my holiday.

Checking out the other kids

Tomorrow I want to clean a summer's worth of mess and dirt from my apartment. Tomorrow I prepare for a good start to the academic year with a clean and tidy home.

And Sunday I start work again. Phew, we made it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mummy Why Are You Going To Die?

As you can imagine, I was pretty shocked when DD came out with this question, especially as she said it with some urgency. Having gently introduced the concept of death a couple of weeks ago when it unexpectedly came up in one of our library books, I was quite pleased with the way I'd handled it.

I racked my brain to remember where I had gone wrong with my 'gentle' explanation. I started to think of possibilities. Did I say some stupid phrase like 'you'll be the death of me'? No. That's not one of the things I say.

Did I perhaps mention that everyone dies eventually? No. I was very careful to keep it to very very old people (yes, much older than Grandma). Whilst DD knows that she will grow up and be a grownup one day, I don't think she he has thought it through all the way to old age.



This week's 100 Word Challenge came with the prompt: 

...being clear is essential to... 

I couldn't resist using it to tell you the rest of the conversation. When you're done, pop over to Julia's Place to read the other entries. 





Being Clear Is Essential To Good Parenting

"I'm not going to die Darling."
"Yes, you said it."
"No I didn't."
"Yes you said you're going to die!" She's getting upset now. And so am I. 

Desperately trying to remember what I'd said that she could have misconstrued, "I didn't say that. I'm not going to die!"
"Why you told me that then?" DD almost in tears.
"I didn't!" Me almost in tears.

Trying again, "What did I say? Can you remember?"
"You said you're going to die because your bottom's too big to fit on the swing."
"Diet, Darling. I'm going to diet, not die." 



From Google Images under Fat Women Cartoons


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Plot Is Abandoned

They finally admitted that there was no way two new pre-fab classrooms complete with their own bathrooms, AC/heating, and child-safe playground outside with climbing equipment could be installed by Monday morning. You can read the backstory to this post here:

An Empty Plot
The Plot Unravels
The Plot Thickens

On Thursday (23rd August) evening, with only two working days to go before today when kindergarten starts the new year, the plot was abandoned.




Instead we have been given some rooms on the ground floor of the existing school (seen in the picture above) that already has its own outside entrance to the corridor. They have been working flat out since Friday morning to adapt it into two a self-contained kindergartens. I went to bed at midnight on Saturday night and they were still drilling and hammering.

All day Sunday the place still looked like a building site. In the afternoon they put up metal fences to cordon off the original intended plot. They obviously still intend something for this plot - I'll let you know what it is when and if it happens.




Meanwhile, I wasn't 100% happy with the thought of such young children in pre-fabs (even though it's been done many a time before) so I'm much happier that we have a place in the main school building where, incidently, there is already a playground with climbing frames and slides right outside. It may be a bit chaotic for a couple of weeks but we'll get over it.

Kindergarten this morning from 8am to 10am - Hooray!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cut Your Grapes In Half!

Last week a friend, whose daughter is a pediatrician, told me about a 3yo boy who accidently swallowed a whole grape which got stuck in his throat. The grape was eventually removed but the boy had not been breathing for too long and is left with brain damage.

Here is a short (<1 minute) public information film about cutting your grapes and olives in half. The star of the film is DD. It was produced and directed by me.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Plot Thickens

For those of you who have been following the progress of DD's new kindergarten due to begin on Monday morning, there was some activity this afternoon. Still nothing had changed by the time we went out for tea at 4pm so it must have all happened between 4 and 6.15pm when we returned. (I'm writing this at almost 7pm).

For those who missed the previous posts and before pictures - they are here (An Empty Plot) and here (The Plot Unravels).

Ta-Da! here it is... Impressive eh? - Not!


No need to panic though as there are still three working days until they open for the school year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Dirty Little Secret

I wasn't sure whether to write about this or not. I learned about it last year whilst taking my then 2 1/2yo swimming. This year, remembering last year's amazing experience, I couldn't wait to get back in the water and try it again.

On the other hand, I don't usually write details about personal grooming. It's personal you see. But on the other hand there have to be some perks from taking your toddler swimming and spending hours in the baby pool while she splashes around. And Gemma at HelloItsGemma wrote about her feet and it was decidedly more fishy than mine.

While it's a little bit gross if you think about it in too much detail  - don't think about it, just concentrate on the filter system - I feel I owe it to my fellow mothers to share. But please, keep it quiet as it's my dirty little secret.

This is it: most baby pools have rough tiles on the bottom to stop the toddlers slipping in the water. I found that I could rub the heels and soles of my feet on the rough tiles and get the best pumice treatment ever. Given that last year I spent up to an hour just sitting and watching DD play (this year less time as she already prefers 'swimming' in the big pool) I ended up with the smoothest feet I've had since I was young enough to play in the baby pool myself.

And then, when all the dead skin has gone from the heels and soles, you can rub your hands over the rest of your soaked feet (and even up to and including your knees) for soft, smooth feet and legs to be proud of. And they look good.

Obviously you can pay a lot of money for beauty treatments in your local spa for the same effect. But I didn't. So there it is, my dirty little secret. However, all the world's beautiful women lie about what they do to make themselves beautiful - don't they?

P.S. I actually wrote about this last year but deleted it as I was too shy to publish it. You've come a long way baby!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are We Nearly At September?

I have enjoyed the summer holiday much more than I thought I would. Compared to last year and the year before it just gets better. (That's a statement about motherhood in general btw.) Little things include noticing that I now say, "put your shoes on," rather than, "sit down so I can put on your shoes." When did that happen?

However, I'm happier with some sort of routine. I seem to have the ability to relax so much that everything goes out the window - meals, bedtime, bath, shopping, even getting dressed some days. And then suddenly I don't like it.

Take today for example. All we have to do is go to the shops and buy some food for the weekend. Meanwhile we are both still in pyjamas and I'm still urging DD to finish her breakfast (of which she has had about two bites). Did I mention that it's now 11 o'clock and the shops here shut at 2 pm on a Friday?

It's not always like this. We have spent a day at the zoo, a day by the sea, our first proper play date without mummies, and yesterday we went to visit friends for the day. Next week we have another pool day and another seaside day and I expect we will go to the zoo again. We take the bike out to the park most afternoons (well even I can get my act together by 5pm). We haven't done the canals in Independence Park yet so we'd better do that next week as well.

You see there is only one week left. You wouldn't think it by the lack of building activity for DD's new nursery across the road. After two days breaking ground and clearing all the rubble (but only as far as a rubble mountain at the back of the plot) everything seems to have stopped. Ho hum...

On the other hand, my house is a mess and each evening it gets harder and harder to find the motivation to tidy up the toys before it all comes out again the next morning.

In short, I've had enough. I'm ready for September. I'm ready for a routine and a timetable with nicely contained hours or half hours in which to relax and play. Activities that have to be finished after a certain period so that the next one can be fitted in - even if it's just bath and bed by a reasonable time. These endless days of 'do-what-you-like' stretching forever and beyond into the middle of the night (it seems) are doing me in. That's all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Death Came Home Unexpectedly

We go to the library every week and choose five or six picture books for DD (depending if I need any reading matter or not). The system works like this: we each choose a pile of books that we like the look of and then we sit down at a table to go through them. I read some of them to her and others we save for later with just a glance to make sure there aren't too many words. Some books we have to reject as they are too long, not enough pictures, too many pictures without a story, too boring, or unsuitable in other ways.

Last week I chose a book called Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1998) . DD wasn't particularly interested in it so we didn't read it at the library first. I thought it looked sweet though and it had about the right text to picture ratio. So I included it in the borrow pile and we brought it home.



That night in bed we started to read Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs as one of our three bedtime stories. It was a sweet story about a little boy called Tommy who visits his Nana every Sunday. She's usually downstairs cooking on the big black stove. However, upstairs is another Nana. This is his Great-Grandmother, Nana's Mother. Nana Upstairs is so old she has to stay in bed most of the time.



Tommy loves his Nanas and spends a lot of time talking to Nana Upstairs and hearing all her stories. DD and I were enjoying the visit with Nana Upstairs too. I thought, what a lovely story about spending time with a very old lady. Then I turned the page and saw that Nana Upstairs had died.

My first thought was to say she'd gone on holiday. We know about Grandmas and Grandpas going on holiday. What did I need to start talking about death for? But then I thought, why should I need to avoid it? So I read: His Mother came in to talk to him. "Nana Upstairs died last night," she said. "What's died?" asks Tommy. "It means she won't be there anymore."

Tommy has a good cry and asks if she will ever come back. "Only in your memory," answers his Mother. "She will come back in your memory whenever you think about her."

"What's died?" Asked DD.
"It's when you are very very old and you go to live with God in heaven."
"Very very old?"
"Yes, older than Grandma and Grandpa."
"OK." said DD and we continued with the story.

One night Tommy sees a falling star. His Mother tells him that maybe Nana Upstairs is sending him a kiss. Then he grows up and Nana Downstairs becomes as old as Nana Upstairs. One day she dies. Luckily there is another falling star to tell him that both Nanas are together again.



The library is closed for three weeks over the summer so we've read this book more times than we usually would. Sometimes we discuss it but only to the extent described above. We also always mention that very very old means much older than our Grandma.

I'm glad we've broached the subject and it's there as a concept if we need to face it in real life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Day Near The Beach

Yesterday we went to spend the day with my cousin, J,  and his wife, D, by the sea. We were up early, taxi to the central bus station and on a big inter-city bus in time to break open the packed breakfast of sandwiches and water (butter if you're interested). For a little girl with no car in the family, this was already enough adventure for a whole day but we didn't stop there!

We were met at the bus station in Netanya (by the sea just north of Tel-Aviv) and headed off for our first ice-cream of the day while my cousin did a few errands in town.



Then it was back to their flat for a quick change and down to the pool. Yes, I know the beach was about 50 metres away and we have pools in Jerusalem, but I'm too scared to actually swim in the sea after once being caught up in a wave and totally disorientated under water (i.e. not knowing which way is up in order to swim there - terrifying). So we spent an hour or so frollicking in the pool. (for pool pictures from last year look here at Our Kibbutz Holiday. No need to show more of me in a swimsuit.) DD, unlike I ever was, is fearless in the water. If we get splashed it's funny, if her whole head goes under and she gets water in her eyes she just wipes her eyes and gets on with it.



At one point she wanted go into the baby pool. After three seconds she changed her mind. "It's not deep enough here. This pool isn't fun for me." So we went back to the big pool. Going back up to the flat was a source of wonder as I'd brought a top down for me to wear after swimming but DD had to go up wrapped in her towel (having removed her swimsuit). "Really Mummy? They don't let bottoms in the lift?" "Not bare bottoms darling."



Then out for a late lunch with D while J went off to pick up his Grandson, Z aged 10, to join us for the afternoon. I have to admit that there was more ice-cream involved at lunchtime. I say lunch, but by the time the ice-cream arrived it was more like teatime.



At 5pm we went down to the beach. Z had new fishing tackle to try out and DD had shells to collect and sandcastles to make. A great time was had by all. Z didn't catch any fish, my sandcastles all collapsed (it used to work ok in Bournemouth), and DD lost all her shells whilst trying to collect water in the same bucket. No one cared about any of it (DD forgot about the shells) and we trudged back to the flat caked in sand.



Luckily the pool was still open so we were able to  use the pool shower to wash off the sand. DD was stripped yet again and went up in the lift wrapped in her towel once more. "No bottoms in the lift!" she announced as we boarded on the ground floor.



Supper out as Z didn't catch the fish for our fish and chips so we had to buy it. I sat down and asked DD to sit next to me. She had planted herself next to Z (who I must admit, had been lovely with her all afternoon). "No I have to sit with him. He loves me," she said. I visions of the future - Mum I have to follow him (any him, not necessarily Z) to Katmandu, he loves me." *Sighs*



We were back on the bus at 9pm. DD finished her chips from the bag and fell asleep on my lap. After a taxi ride home the other end during which she could hardly keep her eyes open, she was in bed at about 11.30. "Goodnight darling." "What about my three stories?"



Thank you J and D for a wonderful day out!



Monday, August 13, 2012

The Plot Unravels

A month ago I wrote a post called The Empty Plot. It was about how they only had six weeks to build DD's new nursery on a disused playground opposite us. I waited and waited for some building activity and nothing happened. Then today, just after lunch, in the middle of our First Proper Playdate, I heard the music of metal on tarmac. We rushed outside to watch, me frantically grabbing my camera like a blogging pro. It had begun!



I was a bit concerned later when the excavator (as I was informed by our 3yo playdate visitor when I called it a digger) started to attack the tree. I hoped it wasn't going to uproot the whole thing but it turned out to be a mere pruning.





At the end of the day all the tarmac had been removed and the site looked like this. My apartment was covered in a not so thin film of dust and I suddenly realized that I would not be hanging any washing out to dry for a few days. But it is exciting nevertheless. I'll keep you posted.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Proper Playdate

Today we had our first proper playdate. Proper means that the friend came to our house and his mummy didn't stay. Until now it's been the children playng with the mummies sitting over a chat and a coffee. And today was a full day. It was great!

We started early as I had to clean a bit - well just the bathroom and hoover the carpet, oh and make my bed for a change and sweep through. On the one hand I can't believe I cleaned for a 3yo but, on the other hand, guests is guests. Then we had to go and buy a few things for lunch. (How I spent almost 100nis [about 16 pounds] I will never know).

T came at 10.30 this morning. For the first hour and a half I was pottering about, doing my own thing, minding my own business, a bit of tidying a bit of computer time... They played beautifully together. It was lovely to hear them nattering away like a couple of old women. At one point, on the toy phones, I overheard DD saying, "T, I've got three phones you can't take home." She was a bit pre-occupied with ensuring we all understood that he wasn't allowed to take any of her toys home.


Then they started to take the puzzles out and needed some help with some of them. I also wanted to be on hand to make sure that each puzzle was put away before the next one came out.


After a late but leisurely lunch in which they hardly ate anything but, strangely, all the toasted cheese sandwiches got eaten by someone... we had ice lollies.


The afternoon was spent jumping on DD's bed and looking at her books. I read them a few stories. They also managed to find some toys in DD's bedroom that I'd forgotten we even had.

At 3.30 T's mummy came to collect him. I was delighted when he refused to put his shoes on because he was having such a good time.

Our house, that was clean (ish) and tidy this morning, is a complete mess. But we are the best sort of happy tired and can't wait to do it again soon. (I'm also looking forward to being the mummy who drops off her child and comes back five hours later :)).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

First Day Of The Holiday - I Was Wrong

Some of you will know from my comments on other blogs or from meeting me in the street, I was dreading the summer holidays. Even though DD's nursery only broke up yesterday and her new nursery starts in less than three weeks (19 days to be precise), I was dreading filling the time in this hot weather, with no car and limited funds. I think I may still be traumatised from two years ago, despite the pleasant surprise of last year that prompted this post: What a Difference. (Btw, I just reread this post. What an idiot I am, I should have reread it weeks ago.)


Reading the map
Anyway, I was dreading it and I was wrong. It started last night when I wasn't so anxious for her to fall asleep as I knew I could let her sleep in today. This morning she woke up at 8.30 and joined me in my bed for another 20 minutes - no rushing against the clock, no fighting over getting dressed.... We had a leisurely breakfast in which we discovered that DD loves wholegrain honey covered cornflakes without milk (you remember I had to ask the nursery teacher) but digs out the almond and pecan pieces for me. So that's breakfast sorted.

So I wrote on our local mothers' fb group that we were off to the zoo and would love to meet up for a picnic lunch and left my mobile number. No one called but it turned out to be an amazing day just the two of us. I've only ever managed 2 1/2 hours at the zoo tops because we get too hot and exhausted usually and then we've had enough. Today we were there for 5 1/2 hours and we enjoyed every minute of it. Here's what we did differently:

1. We didn't have the buggy with us (first time at the zoo) and it actually freed us up a lot, especially in terms of short-cuts over the grass or up stairs. I was more willing to explore something involving steps, I didn't have to keep an eye on it and keep going back for it. And with one small backpack, I found the whole thing much less exhausting.

We were frequent flyers on the train
2. I let DD go at her own pace. We had the whole day ahead of us with no one else to worry about, no one to keep up with, wonder if they are getting bored with our slow pace, meet for the picnic at a certain time or place. We hopped on and off the train, we stopped to play on the grass for half an hour, we ate our picnic in increments - one item at a time sitting in the shade and chatting. I let DD go exploring wherever she fancied so there were no conflicts of interest. We were totally relaxed all day. We even went round the aquarium about four times. Eventually we did find Nemo (and Dory) so it was worth it.

Nemo and Dory are alive and well in the Jerusalem Zoo


Water-vapour fans kept us cool


3. It wasn't as hot or crowded as I had feared. Maybe the lack of buggy, my recent weight loss and no set plans made me more laid back and less tired, which rubbed off on DD? Who knows but we were both in great moods. We loved the fans with water vapour along the route to keep people cool. Cool!

4. I discovered things I've never seen before and we went to places we don't usually have time for. For example, there's an area with a big poster of animal footprints and all the prints are set in the concrete on the floor. You can find the prints on the ground and identify the different animals.

All the footprints on the poster are also on the ground


Cecil and Susie look nothing like this
5. We left the Zoo just in time for our weekly visit to Cecil and Susie for tea. By the time we walked home from them at 6pm it was all I could do to get some supper down DD before she fell asleep. Result!

6. I renewed our yearly subscription to the zoo and next week I will be buying a month's pass to a local swimming pool. To have two major outings on tap and paid for is a huge weight off my mind and well worth the cost (which isn't exorbitant).



You know the annoying expression - cheer up it may never happen. That.

There are also meerkats in this enclosure, not just DDs

Uh oh, the DD is escaping!