Friday, June 28, 2013

Pre-K Graduation

One thing Israel does really well is ceremonies and celebrations. Today DD didn't just have her end of pre-kindergarten party, she graduated. Here she is with her certificate.

There was a whole show and ceremony. It started well with all the children marching in singing and waving. Then they had to form three circles and DD didn't know which circle she was supposed to be in (any circle would have done). She promptly burst into tears and spent the rest of the show on my lap. There was one bit where she was persuaded to go back to be a little goat. As you can see, she was there under sufferance and only with the teacher holding her hand. Soon after she returned to my lap. Oh well, there's always next year.

Graduation booty.
We had a celebratory lunch and then we were presented with end-of-year 'party bags'. The big blue picture is one of DD's paintings mounted ready to hang on her wall. The yellow box contains about 20 pieces of her artwork from throughout the year. And the book is something amazing. They put together a personal record of the year, with artwork and photos, for each child.

Here are some pages from DD's book...

This is DD's birthday when she was also the Sabbath Mummy.

Purim with DD in her ladybird costume.

This is when they learnt about letters and they went on a trip to the post office.

The Festival of Weeks when they each took a basket of the first fruits and vegetables to the pretend Temple.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits 7

DD (from the toilet): Whoa!
Me (calling from another room): What happened?
DD: I almost fell in the toilet. Whoa! You almost didn't have a girl. Whoa!
Me: Whoa!

More DD observations on The Sound Of Music
Singing along: Shalom, farewell, da da da da, goodbye-aye....

We are a little obsessed with who's going up to 1st Grade after the summer and who's staying in Kindergarten for another year. We are staying in K. When the children march down the stairs...
DD: That big girl, she's olah le kita yood! Whoa! (She's going up to 10th Grade!)

DD: I want to be in that song with Maria.
Me: Which song?
DD: ALL of them.

DD: Mummy I love you so much. Let's get married.
Me: You can't marry your mummy. You have to marry someone else.
DD: Awwww, why not? I want to.
Another time, after I used the word 'no' on the subject of ice-cream...
DD: Right, that's it! I'm not your friend! I'm not getting married with you! You can marry someone else!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lunch With The Past

Yesterday I had lunch with an old friend. A friend from my teenagehood who I've not seen for over 30 years.

It all started when I saw a photo of him on facebook, tagged by a mutual friend.
I wrote: Hi, long time.
He replied: Hi, good timing. I'll be in Jerusalem for work next week, let's meet for coffee.

He asked me to go out with him once, when we were 15. I was too... something... to say yes.

We arranged to meet at a cafe near me at lunchtime.

The night before I'd gone to bed far too late and was woken far too early by DD. I looked tired. I'd eaten far too much over the weekend and looked full-faced. I'd spent ages making my hair sleek for the weekend but by yesterday morning it looked flat and aging. In short, I was looking and feeling bleh.

I took DD to kindergarten and came home to start work. Loads of work to do. And shopping (nothing in the fridge) and housework. I looked in the mirror. Still bleh. I drank lots of lemon water and then went back to bed and slept.

When I got up I looked rested, felt better, liked my sleek hair again, and was ready to face the late 1970s. I'd wasted the morning entirely but everything has its price.

I arrived first. He was 10 minutes late. Of course he emailed my smartphone that he was running late but I haven't bought it yet so I didn't get the message. I had stupidly left his phone number at home on my computer. I thought maybe he wasn't going to show up. I was almost relieved, I was way over-thinking this coffee.

He arrived. It was lunchtime so we ordered salads. He lives not in Israel. He's in the midst of a divorce. Why didn't I say I'd go out with him when we were 15?

He's already living with someone else. Back to my salad.

We caught up with each other's lives, our families, our friends. I felt like a teenager again except with 50 year old hindsight - a very pleasant state of mind. Two hours flew by and I had to go collect DD. He paid.

We said: We must do this again and meanwhile, see you on facebook. I turned to go but we both turned back to say: It's much nicer meeting face to face than on facebook.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hebrew Name Jewellery From IsraelBlessing

Very happy with a Hebrew Name Necklace
After 2 1/2 years of blogging and reading about holidays paid for in return for blog reviews, baby equipment, toys, clothes and even a week's worth of groceries from the supermarket, I finally came to the conclusion that there are some things expat bloggers don't get. However, I was wrong.

This week we received our first ever sponsored gift, a Hebrew name necklace. I was thrilled, and not just because it's always lovely to receive a gift, but also because it's something I think you'll like.

This is DD's name in Hebrew. It came in its own elegant box as behooves a piece of jewellery hand made especially for us. They will translate your name if you send it in English and they ship all over the world. They also do names in English, Mothers' necklaces, engraved bangles and rings, and pieces for special occasions. You can check it out here.

I have a 10% discount voucher to offer. You can use it by typing the code word MUM when you place an order.

I ordered the chain slightly long as we hope to be wearing this necklace for many years to come. And if you want to know, it says Adiele in English.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Sound Of Music And Me

A local dvd library was closing down and I heard they were selling off stock cheaply. I went with my heart set on getting The Sound Of Music to watch with DD. But I'd missed it - the shop was shut. I was so disappointed - TSOM was so much a part of my childhood. Of course I'd had it on video once but the videos are long gone along with the VCR. I wandered into an expensive book shop and browsed at the dvds. And there it was. So I bought it for a stupid amount of money, only slashing the cost by a quarter by buying a second dvd at half price (Shrek 2 if you're interested).

I remember being taken to the West End to see TSOM, it must have been about 1969. I wore my best clothes, patent shoes, a hat and gloves with my best coat. I think it was the Christmas holidays. I thought  Liesl was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen and I wanted to be her. I wanted hair like Brigitta. And when I grew up was going to have seven children and live in a palace next to a lake in the Alps. Much of the story apart from the singing went right over my head.

Then TSOM came to television. We watched every Christmas Day and/or Easter and other bank holidays when you had to be in front of the tv at the stated time or miss it. We had a cassette of all the songs and sang along with them from London to Wales/Scotland/Switzerland/Italy with a caravan in tow. It was one of the first films we taped on video when VCRs became de riguer. (Haven't seen 'de riguer' used much recently - it was everywhere a few years ago. Funny that.)

So I put it on yesterday afternoon for DD and I to watch together. I explained a bit to her about what was going to happen as I knew she'd get bored with the beginning if she wasn't excited about meeting the children. I caught her beaming at the screen when the children started singing and dancing.

This is how I wanted to spend our summers
I, on the other hand found myself crying through much of it. I could only see seven children without a mummy. A man who'd lost his beloved wife. A family who were about to leave everything they knew and owned as they fled the Nazis. A Baroness who wasn't quite good enough for the man she loved. A beautiful palace by a lake that I would never live in. Julie Andrews with a figure and a voice that I would never have. A rich husband and seven children that I won't have either. A lifestyle that pretty much died with the 1930s but the life I would have ordered had I been invited to place an order when I was seven.

DD: Why are you crying Mummy?
Me: Because it's sad.
DD: It's not making me cry.

After kindergarten today I asked DD if she'd like to watch Shrek 2 this time. "No, I want that one again with the children."
Me: What's your favourite bit?
DD: When they take those things.
Me: What things?
DD: Those things out of the car so the bad people can't chase them.
Me (surprised): Oh.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits 6

DD: Mummy why doesn't anybody like me? Why doesn't anybody want to be my friend? Why doesn't anybody want to play with me in the playground?
Me (tearing up): I'm sure they do. We'll ask the teacher about it tomorrow.
(We asked the teacher and she said everybody loves DD and she has lots of friends.)
Next night.
DD: Mummy I know everybody loves me and I have lots of friends but why don't they want to play with me in the playground?
(I think this is progress - I think.)

I have a problem with genders in Hebrew grammar. It comes (I assume) from being used to an 'a' ending being feminine e.g. Daniel/Daniella, David/Davida, Michael/Michaela, etc... In Hebrew the 'a' is usually the masculine form e.g. at (you, fem.) ata (you, masc.) and aseet (you did, fem.) aseeta (you did, masc.).
DD (in Hebrew): Ma aseeti? (What did I do?)
Me: I don't know, ma aseeta?
Me: Sorry. Ma aseet?
(That told me.)

DD (calling from her bed): Mummy why is everybody 5 and just only me is still 4?
Me: Some children are still 4.
DD: Who?
Me: I don't remember, we'll ask the teacher tomorrow.
DD (sobbing): Waaaaah I don't want to be the only one who's 4. Waaaaah.
Me: Go to sleep.

Me: Hello Daughter.
DD: I don't want to be a daughter, I want to be a sister.
Me: Can you be a sister without any brothers or sisters?
DD: Yes, of course.
Me: OK. Hello Sister.
DD (smiling)Hello Mummy.

DD: I'm so excited I'm going to be 5.
Me: Not for another half a year.
DD: Yes, of course. I'm going to be 5 and I'm going to have a party.
Me: It's quite a long time till your birthday Darling.
DD: Can I have a picture of the sky and the grass and a river and a house and some children and a flower and a bee and a butterfly and the sun with a smiling face on my cake?
Me: I don't know. I'm not that clever at baking cakes.
DD: Yes, of course you are. (Thinks for a moment) Make sure you put some white in the sun's eyes not just brown because brown and white is more proper than just brown. (Thinks again) Or maybe I'll just have a 5 cake.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Online Shopping In Israel

I actually like supermarket shopping. I walk up and down every isle, viewing everything, choosing, meeting people I know and exchanging pleasantries. All in all a very satisfactory experience if you have the time and don't have a broken toe. Not having a car isn't a problem as the delivery service is cheap and advisable if you live on the third floor with no lift, especially during watermelon season. One of the reasons I've not done online shopping until now.

Another reason is that I tried the prototype of online shopping about 15 years ago - telephone orders. Hilarious to think that you sat on the phone with a clerk and went through all the product lists together. When it arrived the fresh produce was very fair, e.g. out of six tomatoes four would be perfect and two would be so-so. After a while I got fed up of buying 33% so-so fruit and veg. I wanted 100% perfect so I went back to shopping in person. Besides, I missed the social.

Recently I've heard that Mega (my local super of choice) may actually reserve the best produce for online orders. I've seen the packers and they do seem to choose carefully. Reports from friends have also been very favourable. So I gave it a go, what with wanting a large watermelon in my third floor walk up apartment and having a broken toe and all.

Here's what I learned:

1. Even though the store loyalty credit card has CAL, YOU, and MasterCard printed on it, you are still supposed to know that you have to choose Diners when you pay. I called the 1-800  number for that info.

2. The total amount at the bottom of your order is not a sum of the amounts listed in the order (my total was about 50 shekels over). Nor is it the final amount you will  pay because the exact weights of the produce, cheese off the block, etc... are not known. Another call to the 1-800 number sorted this puzzle out.

3. Very helpful to have the prices also listed as price/100g so you can compare the different brands - impressive. However, when my watermelon (which can be up to 8kg) was listed as costing 3.99 when the stated price was 3.99, I suddenly feared that I'd ordered 100g of watermelon. But no, 1 unit of watermelon on the website = 1 whole watermelon. Phew!

4. Two items I thought I ordered didn't show up. Must check more thoroughly next time before finalizing the order.

5. Choose the option to have similar items swapped in for out of stock chosen items at your peril. I chose a 6-pack of small water bottles very carefully. I wanted similar lids to a couple of water bottles we have that have leaky lids. Of course I got different bottles with different lids - we didn't even need the water (we have plenty in our taps). There's an option to comment on the order form - now I know what it's for.

6. At least they had the sense to call me anyway to find out if I wanted a burnt sugar and corn concoction with chemical flavourings similar to maple syrup instead of my 100% pure maple syrup. I didn't. They also didn't have the bag of 'oranges for juice' and nothing to substitute - did I want anything instead? No, I ordered the oranges when I couldn't find watermelon and hadn't noticed that they were 'for juice' - what does that mean anyway? Then I forgot to cancel them. Another phew!

7. When you order 1kg of hard cheese they assume you want it sliced. Another issue for the comment box - we sometimes want our cheese grated. In any case we'll do our slicing and grating ourselves as the fancy takes us. A block of cheese please next time.

8. I didn't order ice-cream as I wasn't sure what state it would arrive in.

9. I placed the order in the afternoon and still had the option of getting it between 8pm and 11pm that night. I chose that option and it actually arrived at 7.50pm - very impressive though might not happen if you order nearer the weekend - this was a Wednesday.

10. Score for online shopping 9/10 and only because I need to learn to work the system better. I probably spent less even with an inflated service/delivery charge (28 shekels as opposed to 14 shekels for deliveries under 400 and free for orders over 400 shekels in the shop).

After kindergarten DD and I are going to the more expensive shop round the corner to get bread, rice crackers, ice-cream, and a new toothbrush for DD. I'll probably end up getting a couple of packets of crisps for the weekend for her and maybe a cake and she'll get me to buy her some sweets as well - always happens. Oh, and I keep forgetting to buy a new tin opener which I need urgently..... It'll be another 150 shekels easily but I'm still on the learning curve of online shopping.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jewish Women Covering Their Hair

Grace Kelly should've been Jewish
Religious married Jewish women cover their hair. It's because your hair is your crowning glory and might attract attention from the opposite sex which would be immodest. There's also the notion of keeping the beauty exclusively for your husband's enjoyment.

Love this style from Pinterest
There are various degrees and styles of head covering. Some women will not show a strand of their own hair while others will be fine with a small bandanna. Styles range from elaborate wigs and hats to snoods, scarves and berets.

BB, not Jewish, what a waste

My friend Hipstermom wrote this post about her headscarf saga over the years. When you think about it, it's a huge commitment to never go out without covering your hair. And in a hot climate like Israel, the summer brings its own challenges.

In the fb discussion that followed, I posted a picture of the beautiful Natalie Portman, who happens to be Jewish and married but does not cover her hair all the time. She's wearing an exquisite headscarf creation in that perfectly groomed, porcelain complexion way that only Hollywood and Photoshop can achieve.  "Not fair!" cried Hipstermom, and rightly so.

Not fair!

As I teach a class of mature students in a religious college in Jerusalem, I thought I'd offer some examples of how real women do the cover up (with their permission). Bear in mind that these are women with several children, full time jobs, doing a part-time degree, and they cover their hair every day like this. Personally, I think it's pretty impressive.

I couldn't manage it myself...

Monday, June 10, 2013

#T'YOUsday: Reading Again

I used to be a reader. When I was quite young I would stay up all night sometimes rather than leave a book. I couldn't leave it sometimes, I was so entrenched in the place and the story. I was Heidi, I was Charlotte Sometimes and I was Jean in A Pony For Jean and its two sequels. Later I was at Flambards and anywhere that Noel Streatfeild went, went I. I have still have all the books to prove it - except Jean. I wonder what happened to Jean?

I stopped reading during my O'level and A'level years. Too much guilt about unfinished homework. Whenever I wanted to read a novel I would be painfully aware that I should be reading schoolwork instead.

Gap year on a kibbutz and I was, in my mind, conquering the stock exchange in NYC with Jeffrey Archer. Then, for a change of scenery and lifestyle I spent a week being Meggie in The Thorn Birds - which made our basic kibbutz conditions seem positively luxurious.

Back to college and guilt years all over again. My social life didn't suffer you understand, just the reading.

Finally, no more exams and I was a reader again. And I was a spinster single teacher, which meant long lazy summer holidays with no hint of routine. Read until you fall asleep, get up to shower and eat and read again until you fall asleep. That was pretty much how I spent my 30s.

And then DD came along and then I gave birth to Midlife Singlemum. Reading couldn't compete with these two demanding babies of mine. I rarely had my bed to myself - either DD or the blog would be taking my attention on any given evening.

My friends mostly bought me books for my big birthday last year. Here they are. I was so excited when they arrived from Amazon. But I never read any of them. Not one. I had got out of the habit of reading. I wasted all my free, me time online.

Some of my birthday presents from last September
After a long cold winter spent huddling together under the duvet, our trip to England, moving out for renovations, and moving back in to chaos - I've finally got us sorted out and firmly established our separate rooms. (Sometimes this still happens but mostly it doesn't.) In the past two weeks, in the sanctuary of my own bedroom, I've returned to reading. I've read four of the books in the photo and used up the remainder of the gift voucher with an order for two more books.

It's good to be back.

This post was written for the T'YOU'sDay linky. Follow the links below for more posts about mothers who make 'me' time. This is a blog hop after all. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Downsizing And Decluttering

I've moved myself from a large bedroom into a much smaller bedroom. Plus the bedroom I've moved into used to be the study and it still has to accommodate a home office area.

1. The idea is to rent out the large bedroom to a lodger.
2. Anyone willing to lodge with a 4yo in the house has to have a big enough bedroom that they can use for a bit of privacy without actually having to go to bed.
3. The large size of the bedroom compensates for living with a 4yo so I can charge the going rate.
4. DD's bedroom is off the old study so it's only suitable to use the old study as my bedroom.

1. Aaaargh! How am I going to fit all my stuff in here and still have room for the study?
2. My friends' fashion-conscious daughter, Gali, had a room half this size throughout her teenage years. Half the cupboard space, 1/3 of the drawer space, 4 shelves on the wall. And it was always beautifully tidy and uncluttered - as she was/is. Think like Gali.
3. A wealthy friend in London (multiple homes sort of wealthy) has one modest wardrobe for her own clothes. For each season she has a capsule wardrobe of a few well-chosen outfits which she mixes and matches. I do not need 20 dresses, 20 skirts and 20 pairs of jeans/trousers. Ditto tops, ts and jumpers.
4. It's not about storage solutions, it's about keeping/owning less.

1. Define the the office area and keep it contained. I'm a teacher and householder, I'm not running a corporate business here - how much shelf/storage space do I need for goodness sake?
2. Get rid of outdated paperwork, sort out piles of workbooks and teaching materials - either use them with students or put the one-side photocopies in DD's pile of drawing paper. Ditto about five enormous ring-files full of my MA coursework. 10 years is way past its academic shelf life and even I'm not that interested in all those scintillating essays anymore. The book about teaching business English with chapters on how to use the word processor and keeping a day-file could probably be thrown out.
3. Make a pile of books to pass on to friends and colleague who will appreciate them. Only keep those which I absolutely love and want to revisit one day.
4. Everything must have a home or it becomes mess. You also spend too much time searching for things that have no official home.
5. Select my capsule wardrobe from what I already own (capsule+ maybe in my case). If I can't bring myself to pass on some of the old stuff then store it in the empty suitcases until I have reached Decluttering Nirvana.
6. Stop buying toiletries until I've used up all the creams, lotions and potions I already have. Including gift sets, sachet samples and half bottles of stuff abandoned by guests.
7. Put old photos in albums or scan them and make books. Get rid of duplicates or make a separate album for DD.
8. We don't need to keep every towel and sheet I've ever owned since 1980.

Any other advice will be gratefully received in the comments.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Broken And Possibly Broke

As soon as I looked at my toe straight after tripping over the laptop cable (stupid twit I know), I knew it was broken. It wasn't the pain as that was no more than when you stub your toe hard on the edge of the bed. It was the fact that my fourth toe on the left was leaning unnaturally about 20 degrees off kilter towards the little toe and I couldn't move it back, or indeed at all.

First surprise. I always thought when you broke a bone you rushed off to the hospital in agony dropping everything else in the urgency of it all. I've never broken anything before you understand, so I didn't know.

I have a more graphic photo but I'm saving it for Silent Sunday. 
1. I called a friend to come and take DD to kindergarten. Dressed DD, took a shower, dressed myself and made her packed lunch.

2. When DD had left with my friend I rang TEREM (a private A&E that has local branches and works with the various health funds. You pay 79 shekels [each health fund pays a different rate, this is the most] but I think you can sometimes claim it back  from your health fund. NB: if you are having a stroke or a heart attack go directly to the hospital, do not pass TEREM, do not pay 79 shekels.)

3. It was still only 8am and they opened at 9am. So I turned on the computer and spent an hour telling fb about my broken toe and basking in sympathetic messages. My printer which had not connected with its wifi the day before suddenly sprang to life and printed about 30 copies of the page I had needed urgently 24 hours earlier. I was in no mood for that.

4. Took a taxi to TEREM and checked in at 9am. The receptionist told me that if my toe was broken I didn't have to pay anything. If not then I had to pay the 79 shekels. Went for BP, medical details and to be x-rayed hoping my toe was broken (not really - I knew I'd be spending way more than 79 shekels on taxis this month if it were).

5. Toe was broken. Deceptively kind looking doctor grabbed it and shoved it back into its correct position. I screamed. Then I cried. It hadn't even been hurting before and now it killed. The nurse came and strapped the offending toe to its neighbouring toe. Left at 9.50 without paying and took a taxi home with instructions to see an orthoped within 2 days.

6. Made an appointment with the orthoped for 4.40pm. I could have got an earlier appointment but I had to be at home between 11 and 2 as a wardrobe was being delivered. I was so looking forward to finally putting everything away tidily after the renovations but now that's not going to happen for a while.

7. Called the students I had arranged to meet at the college, which is round the corner, and asked them to come to me instead. Called a mother from the kindergarten and asked her bring DD home. Very strange feeling to have waved my 4yo off to school at the door in the morning and then have her knock on the door when she arrived home at 3.30pm. I have glimpsed the future. She's so proud of herself.

8. We took a taxi to the clinic and saw the orthoped. He told me it was very swollen (no kidding), that it would take between a month and 6 weeks to heal, keep it bandaged during the day, don't go hiking or play sport (obviously doesn't know me), and have an x-ray in about 5 weeks time. Mentally calculated that friends' son's wedding including a long weekend on their kibbutz is in seven weeks time - phew!

9. We went out for supper seeing as the clinic is in the shopping mall. Then we took another taxi home. That's 80 shekels in taxis, 60 shekels for supper, and 60 shekels in the pharmacy because obviously DD had to have some hair ornaments and I remembered that I needed toothpaste which was cheaper per tube if you bought two - even though we only came in for a roll of bandage and some surgical sticky tape. That's 200 shekels wasted and it was only the first day of my 6 weeks of broken toe. I'm not sure I can afford this broken toe.

10. Day 2 - only hurts when I walk or stand for too long. DD was taken and collected from kindergarten by friends. Students came to me. I ate too much. Changed arrangement to host friend and her 4yo for lunch on Saturday to come for a cup of tea and a biscuit later in the afternoon. Tomorrow I have a busy day and I must go out. All housework on hold for the forseeable future (well there have to be some perks). Have switched to showering in the morning until someone can come and change the lightbulb in the bathroom for me.

My three overriding thoughts about all this are: A) I'm so disappointed for DD that I won't be able to take her swimming this month; B) How did Chinese women suffer having their feet bound all their lives? Apart from the pain, it's so boring not to be able to zip around getting things done. And C), we are so lucky to have TEREM. I read online about non-emergencies waiting up to nine hours in A&E in the UK. I arrived at TEREM at 9 and was out by 9.50. I have to say that public medicine in Israel is amazing. A_M_A_ZING!