Sunday, August 11, 2019

R2BC - Actual Colouring

On Friday I wrote about clearing out DD's bedroom and how one pile of art supplies, artwork, and school books was left to do. Today we tackled it together. And then we went through the list of things she needs for school. Read on, it was a very pleasant experience all round and definitely worthy of Reasons 2B Cheerful.

The linky is with Mich on Mummy from the Heart for the whole of August.

1
School Supplies
Amazingly, from the long list, we only need to buy a geometry set (compass, two set squares, and a protractor) and a pack of 10 A4 ring bound notebooks. Everything else we have left over from previous years - even school t-shirts that still fit and sticky labels. We agreed that we'd forgo a new school bag and pencil case this year as she'll want to have new ones for Secondary School next year. We also already paid for the full set of textbooks and workbooks that will be given out at school in a couple of weeks. Sorted. 

2
Down to the last pencil
Reader, we organized DD's room down to the last pencil. Everything now has a home and all the rubbish has been thrown out. She hasn't said it, but I can see that DD is enjoying being in her room now. I caught her just sitting on the bed and looking around appreciatively. Later she came and asked if she could have a rug. It was very sweet. 

3
Colouring
We also dealt with all the pens, pencils, highlighters, and felt tips that were in a hundred different pencil cases and boxes. They're still in several cases and boxes but are now more consolidated. We also found a book of cards and envelopes to colour. DD got it as a present and used it once. It's lots of fun. You colour the card and the corresponding envelope (which you fold yourself ) and there is a matching sticker to seal each one. 

I'm going to a birthday dinner and a wedding this week. At the wedding I'll see my friend's daughter who has just had a baby. And in January I did a Paying it Forward game on Facebook. The first five people to reply to the announcement could expect a surprise at some time during the year. Well it's pay-forward time and three of my recipients will be getting their surprise within the next two weeks. So that's six cards and envelopes to colour and make. I did three of them today. It kept me out of the fridge so win-win. (Incidently, it happens to be a fast day in the Jewish calendar today. It's a full 24 hours, sunset to sunset, when we remember the destruction of the Temples and the beginning of the exile from Jerusalem. I started late but I'm going to finish late too so all's good.)

Have a good week y'all.  



Friday, August 9, 2019

Coloured Pencils

I can't believe I put DD's name on every  pencil she took to 1st Grade.
As she goes up to 6th grade, we have finally come to the end of some of them.
Phew!
Where did that eternal (well nine weeks)  summer holiday go? We only have three weeks left! How did that happen? In my defense, my teaching assignments never really ended.

The grande finale involved a surprise intensive course last week. I taught for six hours a day, spent my evenings  grading and preparing the next day, forgot about the diet completely (there's only so much intensity you can take without pizza for supper, and cold for lunch the next day) and I let DD watch tv all day and half the night (whilst eating said pizza). And of course there was no blogging. But we got through it and the extra money will be welcome.

On Thursday afternoon it finished. I came home to an apartment in a state of chaos, and not clean. Overflowing laundry baskets and no food in the fridge, freezer or cupboards. It was time to take back control, big time!

On Thursday evening I reorganized DD's bedroom. I'd already culled a load of books the last time I did a big sort out about two years ago. Since then her bedroom has degenerated into low-grade tidy and less tidy mode. There was lots of confusion as to what each drawer was designated for and a mish-mash of 'stuff' in a number of storage boxes.

All the books went onto the bed and I did a real Conmari on DD's behalf. Some books were siphoned off for my school library, some to pass on to friends with younger grandchildren (yes I am that age), others to my teaching resources, and a few to throw away. (Yes you can throw away books.) It's strange how books that we absolutely had to keep only a couple of years ago, don't interest us at all now.

The storage boxes now contain 1. Lego (because it's just too expensive to give away), 2. Art supplies, and 3. empty to be decided. The games are all in the living room sideboard. Also culled - we no longer need "Who Am I?" or 300 piece jigsaw puzzles. DD's clothes were already organized so nothing to do there.

The big problem area is years of accumulated colouring pencils and felt tip pens. We never throw them out, of course, and every year there are new sets received as gifts or just to start off the academic year with pristine supplies. There are now boxes and numerous pencil cases filled with perfectly good coloured pencils but just not in sets.

I take one pencil case-full for teaching and I regularly top it up from the supply of orphan pencils. Sometimes you get a pencil that won't sharpen because the lead is broken all the way through. Those do get chucked. And very occasionally a pencil will be absolutely finished down to the quick. These are also lovingly chucked into the bin.

I had to get the room tidy as one of DD's friends turned up for an impromptu sleep-over. This turned out to be an amazing incentive not to just leave half of it for the next day. There's one pile of colours, school supplies and artwork left to sort out but I told DD she'd have to do that herself over the weekend.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Day At The Pool In 1982 - R2BC

This week's reasons 2B cheerful comes to you from 1976 - 1987, a swimming pool just outside Jerusalem, I was in Seventh Heaven, and we missed the final week of July R2BC linky so this one is with the August linky on Mich's Mummy from the Heart. So traversing time and space, lets go...

On Wednesday we went to the pool at Messilat Tzion, a village just outside Jerusalem. We went with friends who are early risers and movers so we left at 8.30 in the morning. Arriving as the place opens allows you a prime spot near the pool, but not too near. Our children can swim so we want to be able to see them but we don't have to be actually at the poolside. Also, at that time of the morning there are only a few children in the pool and two lifeguards on duty.

We found a shady spot on the grass under a tree and made ourselves at home. Then the music started. Blaring. It could have been a disaster. But as luck would have it they were playing my own personal favourite playlist. A medley of pop from the 1970s and 1980s.

It was all I could do to stop myself getting up and dancing. I did sing out loud though. Every song held a memory for me from 40 years ago.

Summer 1976 - the longest and hottest drought in the UK in my lifetime, so far (I was 14). The grass was yellow, some rural areas had standpipes for water at the end of the streets, washing your car and watering your garden was banned. We sang, "skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight." It's just as good now as it was then.

Summer 1978 the movie Grease came out and my sister and I and the girls next door, sat with our heads almost inside the cassette player singing "You're the one that I want," over and over again until we knew the words by heart.

There was the winter camp 1979, where my friend Mandy and I were the cooks. Ohoh ayay, I love you more than I can say. We changed the next lyric to "and if our food is hard to swallow, oh oh, we'll give you twice as much tomorrow."

Summer 1980, camping in Lanarkshire, Scotland. My baby takes the morning train, he works from 9 till 5 and then, he takes another home again... What they lacked in sophisticated lyrics they made up for with sing-along potential.

Come on Eileen, was the wet weekend in July that I spent with Sharon in Liverpool. It was 1982 and we'd just returned from our gap year on a Kibbutz in Israel.

They just kept on coming. I gazed out across the pool and the palm trees, towards the Jerusalem hills. The scenery and the music carried me back to the summer of 1987 spent in California. La Isla Bonita, and Yeh, I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me.

The kids (what kids? Oh yes, we had three kids with us) frolicked in the pool. They had ice-creams and later hot dogs and chips for lunch. We left at 2.30 pm just before the heat of the day and the afternoon crowds arrived.

It was the best pool day ever. Except for maybe the pool days back in the real 1970s and 80s.

Monday, July 22, 2019

R2BC - Tackling That Debt

Reasons 2B Cheerful is late because we didn't do very much anything last week. As most of DD's friends were still busy with some type of day camp, we mostly hung out and went to gymnastics. There were a couple of teas out where DD loves one particular cake (the butterscotch cheese cake) but there was also one day when a horrendous heatwave sent the temperature soaring to over 100०F. (About 36०C in Jerusalem but over 100 sounds so much more heroic.) We were very cheerful home-bodies but it wasn't interesting to write about.

Today I'm more interestingly cheerful and joining the linky at Becky's Lakes Single Mum. DD has gone to a friend and I'm making practical plans for tackling that 30,000 debt I wrote about yesterday. Here's what I've come up with so far.

1
Budget
This is key because it frees up any extra income to go towards debt repayment. Accounting for all fixed income to cover all monthly costs and allow for a certain amount for debt repayment every month.

2
Debt Repayment
Tomorrow I'm going to open a Bat Mitzvah bank account with the monthly amount automatically transferred.

3
Spending On Wants
The only two places to cut monthly costs are food and spending on wants. I have no more wants after going clothes shopping a couple of weeks ago. There is a certain amount set aside for DD's wants and for entertainment like going to the pool and other summer stuff.

4
Food
After a year of buying far too much convenience food, I'm determined to switch to more cooking from scratch. Yesterdays's weekly shop was full of fruit and vegetables. And today I'm going to make a batch of pizza dough to divide and freeze. It's more time consuming. Last night I cut up a fruit platter for DD whereas I never have to help her grab a packet of crisps or a biscuit. It's also a health thing so I'm excited about it.

The money saved doesn't directly add anything further to the debt repayment but it will help to make the budget balance so that everything else is covered by fixed income.

5
Extra Income
All extra income from occasional work, tax returns, and the annual Single Parent Education Grant, will go towards debt repayment.

6
The 10 Shekel Jar
I'm not cutting up my credit card and living out of cash jars like Gail Vaz-Oxlade advises her clients. we're doing a reverse jar savings. Every time I have a 10 shekel coin in my purse at the end of the day, it goes into the jar. I thought of doing it with coppers or 1 shekel coins but I'd end up with a full jar worth not very much. I'm hoping the 10 shekel jar will eventually add up to 1,000 shekels.

That's it so far. So far so good.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

30.000 In Debt

Confused? Us too but it's an idea....
I've been considering my finances recently and with the help of three of my financial heroines - Elaine Colliar, Darci Isabella, and Gail Vaz-Oxlade, I've made the decision to go into debt to the tune of 30,000 shekels (about £7500). In addition, I want to cut my teaching hours next year to free up an extra stay-at-home day. At first glance this all seems totally counter-intuitive, but read on. All will be revealed.

I used to follow Elaine Colliar on her blog Mortgage Free In Three (which seems to be down atm but here's her most recent update vlog). After having the rug pulled out from under her by the bank, Elaine, a single mother of two young boys, found herself at rock bottom and in debt. She lived extremely frugally and intelligently in order to pay off her debt in record time. She then used the lessons learned from this to extend her lifestyle in order to pay off her mortgage in three years. Once free of that albatross the aim was to soar without any financial burdens holding her back.

Elaine is an accomplished seamstress, she's handy and artistic, very tech savvy, she has a garden in which to grow vegetables and she's a great cook. (my favourite post ever was The Rubber Chicken about how one chicken provided the protein base for seven meals for the three of them.) One of her top pieces of advice is that you have to be willing to learn new skills towards being more self sufficient. It makes sense. You're not going to save as much money if you have to buy services all the time.

I am not at all handy so I can't do half the things Elaine accomplished, albeit with the occasional help of her handy Dad (covering her sofa, building partition walls to create an extra bedroom, making all her Christmas presents and selling homemade items online). However the biggest difference between Elaine and I was the time factor. I once asked Elaine why she didn't just take a part time job to help with the pennies. She explained that the loss of benefits and all the costs involved with working (travel, childcare, work clothes, socializing with colleagues and collections) made it better for her to stay at home and use the time to live frugally and build up side hustles.

I also had no debt apart from my mortgage, I also took in paying guests for a while, and I was also the single mother of a young child. DD was in childcare because I had to go out to work. But you can only work very restricted hours when you have a young child and no back up (no partner and no family nearby). And here's the thing about teaching (I'm not complaining, just explaining) - you only get paid for the hours you are in the classroom but half the work has to be done before or after hours (planning, preparing, marking, paperwork, co-ordinating with colleagues, meetings, and speaking to parents/students about individual matters).

So I followed Elaine's advice the best I could. I built up a store cupboard to keep food costs low, cooked from scratch as much as possible, meal planned, cleaned my own apartment (still do - in theory), tried to grow some vegetables on my balcony - not very successfully, rented out my spare room to paying guests, took on no-spend challenges for months at a time, saved every spare penny, and looked for side hustles to bring in a little extra income. The effort nearly killed me but we survived those early childhood years which are the hardest. (Luckily kids that age are so cute that you'd do anything for them.)

The years passed and both our very young children grew a bit and became more independent. There were more free hours to work with. I built up my work load and Elaine was able to take a job locally that suited her. We both elevated our families from the bread line towards the cakes and biscuits. And then Elaine stopped writing her blog. I understood that as well as the time constraints, it's hard to live so frugally every day when you don't actually have to anymore. We also enjoyed more convenience foods, evenings out and material treats. It's true what they say about needs must. And it seems that the opposite is also true. Don't need, why kill yourself over it?

With my mortgage nearing its end and the emergency fund in place, it's not a matter of getting out of debt. Otoh, only 10 years away from retirement is not the time to take a gap year and live off savings. Otoh, I'd spend less money if I had more time to shop at the cheaper but further supermarket and cook from scratch. And I'd have more time to take on better paid work at home.

I now follow a lifestyle blog by Ameican, Darci Isabella, who recently decided to become debt-free. By making small changes for herself and her large family, she shifted thousands of dollars of debt in eight months. Here's how she did it. I was inspired but (unfortunately?) I'm not in debt.

I've been binge watching Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Money Moron  and Till Debt Us Do Part programmes on You Tube. She's another of my financial heroines. At times I almost wished I was in debt so that I could take on her advice about getting out of it. Then it dawned on me that I could be in [imaginary] debt if I waned to be. The great thing about imaginary debt is that you can owe as much as you like - and no interest.

Imaginary debt is just saving up with a goal sum. Calling it a debt makes it more urgent. And in a way, it is a debt in the sense of a deficit of funds needed for future use. So I'm henceforth in debt to the tune of 30,000 shekels. I aim to be debt free in 20 months, with no borrowing from currant savings - it all has to be earned and saved starting from now.

When I've paid it off, the money will be used for (or towards as I've no idea how much these things cost) DD's Bat Mitzvah in 18 months.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Slimming Sunday - Slow But Steady

Some more beautiful Chihuly. What?
D'ya think I'm going to show before and after photos in my underwear?
Hahahaha. Not a chance.  
Yes I know it's Monday again but I don't have much to write, other than a weight loss update, so I procrastinated on it all day yesterday. This morning I decided to just start and see where the post goes.

To re-cap, I started Intermittent Fasting on April 28th, the Sunday after Passover. I lost 12 lbs in the first 5 weeks (5.5 kg) and wrote about it here. Fast forward another 6 weeks and I've been losing about 1 lb/week. So I'm 18 lbs down (8 kg) and getting a bit frustrated that it's going so slowly now.

I have to admit that the slow progress is entirely due to some spectacular diet failures. For example, schools finish early on Tuesdays here so DD's friend has a standing arrangement to come to us for lunch as her mother works late on Tuesdays. One Tuesday I couldn't be here at lunchtime so I had to leave them something ready and cold (we don't have a microwave).

On the Monday afternoon I bought a whole baguette and was planning to leave the girls a selection of filled 'rolls'. That baguette taunted me all evening. In the end I succumbed and reasoning that the girls didn't need more than 1/3 of a baguette each, I could have one sandwich out of it. Of course we all know that a carb addict can't just have one sandwich. Within half an hour the whole baguette was inside, and the smile on the face of the tiger.

Tuesday morning I had to go out early and pick up another baguette before dividing it into six 'rolls' and preparing three with tuna-mayo and cucumber, and three with egg-mayo and cucumber. I set them on a dish, covered them with cling-film, and lovingly put them in the fridge before going to work. Fir me that would be the perfect lunch. I love sandwiches.

Tuesday evening I get home to find that DD's friend didn't come that day (actually I knew that by 1 pm) and DD still doesn't like sandwiches so she hadn't eaten any of them and didn't intend to. What's a girl to do? So that was two whole baguettes in two days and I wonder why the weight loss has slowed down?

I'm still thrilled to be 18 lbs (8 kg) down and we have no bread in our home at all atm. I'm still doing OMAD (One Meal A Day) and hoping to up the ante for a better result next Sunday. 


Saturday, July 13, 2019

R2BC - Clothes


Beautiful Chihuly glass because #Rubbishphotographer
can't get new clothes to look as good in photos as they do in real life. 
This week's Reasons 2B Cheerful are about an unexpected shopping spree and finally getting down to the bones of decluttering. The linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum for the whole of July.

1
A Chain Reaction
It was started with a bag of second-hand clothes. A friend of a friend is a serious clothes shopper. (It's cheaper than therapy.) Every few months she has to purge. Since we are of similar size and taste in clothes, they come to me. I take what I want and pass on the rest. I gifted myself a couple of floaty tunics and a couple of dresses from the bag, and put the rest aside.

2
A shopping Spree
I've hardly bought any new clothes for years. Apart from underwear, shoes, and the odd cardigan, my escalating weight made me totally disinterested. I always had enough hand-me-downs from my friend's friend and a couple of outfits for Shabbat and celebrations from years back so I made do.

Since starting to lose weight I've noticed a reawakening. Over the past few weeks I've bought a few new t-shits and some work wear. In a fit of fashion enthusiasm I donated my one Shabbat dress that was at least 10 years old and way past its prime. I needed a new one for the summer.

On Tuesday I went shopping. There is one shop in town that I used to love (Hagara) although it has become a bit dowdy over the years. I went there anyway and found a Shabbat dress. As there was a 1+1 sale I also got a tunic top for free. And a t-shirt and black, thin cotton trousers not in the sale.

I was done. DD was home from her summer programme so I called to say I was bringing falafel for lunch. On the way to the falafel shop I passed a small mom and dad shop with a lovely simple dress in the window. I fell in love with the soft cotton material  and went inside, not for one minute thinking they would have my size. They did. And it was very cheap. So I bought another one in a different colour as well.

Onwards to the falafel and no looking in shop windows! Would you believe it, in the very next shop were lovely dresses suitable for weddings, for example. As we have a family wedding coming up in September, I had to go in to take a look.

I've had my head in the sand about what to wear for my brother's wedding. The family have agreed to wear the colours chosen for the wedding so as not to clash in the photos. So I looked for dresses in the permitted colours and found some. Also not expensive so I bought two in different designs and I'll decide which to wear to the wedding nearer the date.

I am absolutely not buying any more new clothes for the next decade.

3
A Clothes Swap
Fortuitously, a clothes swap was announced on facebook. A couple of friends organize these events seasonally and a group of women turn up with clothes they want to pass on and nosh - because it's also a party. You can take whatever you want and anything left over gets donated. I've never been to one of these before but this one was around the corner and quite early in the evening. I decided to go and take DD with me.

I packed up the remainder of the clothes from my friend's friend, and I went through all my clothes adding to the pile of donations. We arrived at the clothes swap early but DD wasn't into it at all, so we left our clothes and went home. Result! I was looking forward to the social but I had no intention of bringing any more 'new' clothes into the house.

4
Project 333
With some rearranging, and even with all the new clothes I've accumulated over the past few weeks, I managed to reclaim the shelves I've wanted to use as a linen cupboard since starting the decluttering journey almost two years ago. This sets off a whole new chain reaction of shelves freed up somewhere else leading to the eventual downsized and desired minimalistic effect.

The magic happens as soon as you see a neat shelf holding all the sheets you own. You realize that a lot of them mix and match, every set has under sheets that go with it, and there is no need to buy any more bedclothes for the foreseeable future.

There are still clothes to go. I'm still holding on to some skinny clothes to see what happens. I'd like to think that one day I could do Project 333 but although I probably only wear 33 items in any one 3-month season, I own nearer to 333.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

The New Year For Diaries And Planners - R2BC


Last year's Diary is still in use until Sept 1st.
I don't know why I still have the year before -
it's being chucked out now.
The new one tempts me. I can look and even caress...
but not write in it. 
Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. It was hard to think of anything specific as I've already posted about DD's school prize and the Sound and Light Show on Jerusalem. There is a general cheeriness around here due to the relaxed summer, reduced schedule, and no stress time of year. So here are a few little things. 

1
New Diary Time
I've bought mine. I just have to be patient through the summer until D-day on September 1st.

I was going to write a whole explanation but I've covered this subject before. Bottom line is that everyone only gets one New Year for Diaries, and ours is in the summer. Here's what I wrote about it a few years ago. Nothing has changed.

I followed my own links and found this other post I wrote about the year I created my own bullet journal. I'm a little bit tempted but it's just too much work and the bought diaries work just as well. Especially as they are 15 month diaries. So even though they start on September 1st, they go through till the end of the following December. This leaves loads of superfluous pages on which to paste in collections, lists, and plans.

As we're already on the subject. Here is my love letter to Filofax. It was unrequited.

2
Clear Table
You may have noticed the clear table background on the photo of the diary. This is the first time our dining table has been cleared since stuff started coming home from our combined schools and it becoming our dumping surface. I'm finally getting organized again!

3
A Light Supper
My nephew was in Israel for a short trip and came for supper one evening. I was prepared with a pile of lightbulbs for him to change and we are now bathed in light after sunset once more. Of course I can change a lightbulb myself but I don't like climbing.

This was actually a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to check that the lightbulbs were working properly before mentioning it. 😜

After the light fixture renovations and a light supper (pun intended), we sat down for a card game - a match actually. Kalooky up to 150 points and you can come in once. We were just wrapping up the game and my nephew was getting ready to leave, when he got a phone call. His friends were leaving their hostel and going into town. He went off to start his evening and we went to bed.

Have a great week. The Reasons 2B Cheerful linky is back with Becky on Lakes Single Mum.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Universe On Trial

The Spooky Old Tree at the Israel Museum
(Spooky is the connecting theme here.)
Years ago I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. For those who don't know, it's a self-help book teaching the law of attraction. In other words, if you will it, it will come to you. You're supposed to ask the universe (or God, or any higher power) for what you want. Visualize it. Meditate about it. Speak of it in the present tense as if you already have it (e.g. I'm so happy I can wear these size 8 jeans, I just love them!).

The book freaked me out. It was the visualizing that scared me. What happens if you accidently think of something tragic that you absolutely don't want to happen? Bad thoughts pop into your head sometimes, you can't help it. Does that mean I've just placed an order for this with the universe? I gave the book away and tried not to think about it.

Then I started watching Ted Talks on You Tube. Many motivational speakers truly believed in this law of attraction. So when The Secret appeared as a documentary on Netflix, I watched it. They did actually address the question of what happens when you accidently have bad thoughts. The answer was that good thoughts have far more power than bad thoughts. Well that's convenient.

After watching the film I decided to give it another go. DD wanted to do a drama summer school in English where the participants write a play, make all the costumes, scenery and props themselves, and then perform the play. We've been going to see the end production for a few years now and this year DD was ready to join. So I called to register in May and, would you believe it, it was already full!

We were disappointed but agreed to go on the waiting list. I was told that the waiting list is never utilized as no one ever cancels and if they do we are only third in line. But hey! I knew The Secret. I wasn't taking that for an answer Mr. Universe! (Not that Mr. Universe, another Mr. Universe.) Prove yourself! I dare you.

I visualized DD going to that Summer Camp. I meditated on it. I prayed. I accepted it as fait accompli. Meanwhile DD's school opened up a summer programme for the same three weeks at a third of the price. So we signed up for it.

And then the universe delivered. Lo and behold, a place did come up at the English drama summer school. But a group of friends from DD's class were already signed up for the school programme and I'd already got excited about saving all that money. We declined the offer but I told them that we absolutely want to be first on the list for next year. (It's for 10 - 14 year olds.)

A week into the summer and DD is hating the programme in school. She says it's boring and she wants to quit. I've persuaded her to stick it out for the first week. I hope it gets better today or I'll have no chance of making her continue next week.

The verdict: The Secret works but I don't. The universe delivered and I messed up.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Sound And Light On Jerusalem

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem Old City



One of the mothers in DD's class had the great idea of us all meeting tonight at the sound and light show at The Old City of Jerusalem. So off we went. There were at least four families there from DD's class but we only met up with one of them - on the bus on the way home. Lol. It was packed.




I joked that there were so many of us we had to split into groups. We were Group 1 of course and we had the best time. For one thing it was just nice to be out in the cool evening air.


It was better after dark but we got there early. 



There are three different trails you can follow. We took the green route from Damascus Gate around the outside of the city walls to Jaffa Gate where we bought sustenance to continue on our pilgrimage. Then we followed the red route which winds through the Arab Shuk inside the Old City towards the Christian Quarter and out of the New Gate (which is between Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate).




I'd like to do the blue route which goes south around the city walls passed Zion Gate to Dung Gate. It's the longest route but I reckon it's the most spectacular and least crowded. And there are short cuts back through the Old City if you want to just do some of it. Sounds like a plan for next year.


I call this one: On the Red Route with Popcorn


All that's left is to say - enjoy the photos from #Rubbishphotograher.

And...Woman Without Popcorn.



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Day In The Life Of A Teacher In July

Here is a pretty border at Kew Gardens.
Today was not the day for photography. 
Hooray! School holidays!

The day started at 7.30 am when I got up to make sure DD left the house at 8 to go to her day camp at school. I then went back to bed for an hour because, as it's the holidays, obviously I didn't go to bed until 2.45 am last night.

I had students to see in college, around the corner, starting at 10.30 so I set the alarm on my phone for 9.20. I forgot to check that it was set for Tuesday so I was quite surprised and panicked to wake up at 10.20. I quickly called my first student and told her I'd be 15 minute late. Rushed like a mad woman to shower and dress. Grabbed the keys from the dish in the kitchen and slammed the front door behind me.

I had grabbed the wrong keys and was now locked out. I prayed that DD had her key but with no time to deal with it, I sprinted (metaphorically) to college. When I got there I texted DD to ask if she had her key and she replied that she did. Phew.

My second student of the morning was the one who tutored DD all year in Hebrew. I had a small gift for her. I'd left it at home. These meetings are the final meetings for English. These students leave college next week and I never see most of them again. Ooof!

Then I remembered that I had an identical gift in my bag intended for DD's art teacher, who had not been in school on Sunday. It was in a decorative envelope and I'd written a message on the front. I quickly tore open the envelope and when the girl arrived I presented her with the unwrapped gift as something from DD to say thank you and how much she had enjoyed her lessons. Because 10 year olds are allowed to forget to wrap the present, and write a note, right?

On my way home DD called in tears. She'd thought she'd taken her key but actually she hadn't. I called my neighbour downstairs who I thought might have my spare key, and discovered that she'd be home in about an hour and a half.

DD and I had no choice but to go out for lunch. We had to go to the pharmacy to collect a prescription anyway so this was something accomplished at least.

And here's an interesting thing. We went to the Roladin Cafe/Bakery on the Hebron Road and decided to cut straight to the dessert. In fact we ordered the exact same items that we'd had at Roladin in the Hadar Mall on Sunday. Except that this time the cake and coffee were a deal together for 33 nis instead of 34 plus 12 nis.

Btw, you can buy the whole cake to take home for 60 nis and a slice is about one sixth of the whole cake. Just saying. Although this information doesn't help you if you're locked out. The Sprite was the same 12 nis in both places. (DD had the cake and Sprite, I had the coffee.) Folks we have switched our loyalty completely to the Hebron Road Roladin.

My neighbour called to say she'd got home early. The day was looking up. Luckily she did have my spare key - we gave it right back to her after letting ourselves in.

I made DD pasta for whenever she got hungry (the summer has that effect on set mealtimes), talked with my mum on the phone, popped out to meet one more student at 5, came home for my OMAD (one meal a day) of baked potatoes and salad, sorted out a few more students by email, did a load of laundry and hung it out to dry, one blog post (this one) and it will be Netflix till bedtime whilst crocheting kippot (skullcaps) for my brother's wedding.

I love the holidays!

Monday, July 1, 2019

R2BC - Congeniality?

Yes this is how we dress for school. Israel is very casual. 
I'm so late with this post but I deliberately waited until Sunday to blog as I knew I'd have a lovely reason 2B cheerful. However, Sunday was the final final deadline for my online English course and I was suddenly inundated with over 20 papers to grade - some corrections and some just late. I needed to get them done as the students have to complete their end of course meetings this week. So no time yesterday.

Today I was still grading and have just finished - bar the papers from students with special circumstances. It never ends. Anyway, I want to get this published tonight so I can begin July on a good blog footing. Remember I wanted to blog every day in June? Well I managed 12 posts. Reach for the stars and you may get to the moon.

Back on topic. My R2BC is that DD won the congeniality prize for her class at school. I hate calling it that as it sounds like an American beauty pageant prize. But actually that's what it is. I videoed the part of the ceremony where DD was presented with her certificate and sent it to our family whatsapp group. My sister wrote back that she didn't quite catch the Hebrew so what was the prize for?

I explained that each class awards three prizes - for academic achievement, chevratiyut, and the biggest positive change (progress or behaviour). I defined chevratiyut as a combination of being a good friend, helpful, congenial, community minded, and of generous spirit. I can't think of another word for all of that in English except congeniality.

DD's been trying to get this prize for years. It's a bit sad that she didn't even consider hoping for the academic achievement prize but, as I explained to her, she has an immigrant parent who doesn't know what's flying half the time and that prize usually goes to someone who does their homework without waiting for the panic monster to get involved. (Yes I showed her that Ted talk and she identified with all of it, as do I.)

The big tease was that her class teacher phoned to invite me to the ceremony but it was a secret - DD had no idea. Once or twice over the weekend she lamented that she's never won a class prize and she tries so hard to be a good friend. If I hadn't known what was coming my heart would have broken for her.

On Sunday morning I made an excuse to come into school - I had a small gift for her teacher, Hanna, whom we love and unfortunately for us, is leaving. Luckily for me, DD was too embarrassed to give the gift herself. "Mummy! We don't do that. The class gives one big present together." She's right but I wanted to show my appreciation for the over and above.

I mentioned to DD that seeing as I'm there already, I might come to the assembly because I've never been to an end of year assembly and I want to see what it's like. I added, "I'm only telling you because I don't want you to see me there and think you're getting a prize and then you''ll be disappointed." Teeheehee.

DD told me afterwards that she had one moment of doubt when Hanna went up and I started filming. But she quashed that thought.

DD was thrilled. I was thrilled. And we went out for tea to celebrate with a slice of caramel cheesecake at Rolladin. (Do you know that one small slice of cake when you're sitting down, costs more than half of buying the whole cake to take home? I was shocked!). And the biggest compliment of all: "You're such a good liar mummy."

The R2BC linky is with Mich this week on Mummy from the Heart.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

R2BC - The DD Edition


Stretching by the pond at the top of my Mum's road. 
Lots of milestone events for DD this week and these are my Reasons 2B Cheerful. The linky is back with Mich on Mummy from the Heart

1
Competition Squad
DD's biggest dream this year has been to be in the Competition Squad (henceforth known as CS) at gymnastics. She was mortally offended when one of the other girls was invited to join last winter as DD felt she was just as good.

On Monday she was given the official letter inviting her to join CS in September. To say she was thrilled and proud of herself wouldn't do it justice. She's been on cloud nine and mentioning it every few hours since.

Turns out CS for her age group meets two neighbourhoods away. We already take a taxi one neighbourhood away for gymnastics and then I sit waiting for an hour until we walk home afterwards. (Home is downhill so we walk it.) CS is two hours twice a week. With the added fee, the added taxi fare, and three hours out of my evening twice a week - this was not so amazing for me.

So we looked into the gymnastics class in our neighbourhood. The class is around the corner, three minutes walk from home, in a fantastic, purpose built high school sports hall. The only reason we didn't go there from September was because it clashed with orchestra and that's no longer relevant.

Turns out the same teachers from DD's class also teach at our local class - which is why the days are different. They invited her to join the new class in July so that she can settle in before September, August being holiday. And as we've already paid for July in the other place - there'll be gymnastics four times a week for a month. DD is overjoyed.

And I'm overjoyed as from September, she'll be going there by herself so I'll have two more free evenings and what we won't be paying in taxis covers the extra cost of CS. Win-win.


2
Shopping With A Friend
DD's friend wanted to go clothes shopping after school on Tuesday, in Malcha Mall - the biggest mall in Jerusalem. Her mother was going to come from work and meet them there. I had an appointment so I couldn't take them. The only solution was for the two girls to go on the bus by themselves.

In Israel, 10 years old is plenty old enough to go on the bus alone. Kids who travel to school do it all the time from 2nd or 3rd grade (and from 1st grade with older siblings).

DD was nervous. I downloaded Moovit onto her phone so she could follow the route and the app would tell them where to get off the bus. It even shows you which way to walk from the bus stop. But her friend knew the route anyway so she didn't really need it.

I waited at the bus stop with them and saw they got onto the right bus. DD's friend's mum called to tell me to tell them to ask the driver where to get off but apparently they didn't. Friend was confident that she knew.

I must admit I was nervous as I watched the bus drive off with my little girl unaccompanied by an adult. I called her when they'd disembarked but were still walking to the mall. I called 10 minutes later to make sure they'd got to the mall. I called 15 minutes after that to make sure they'd met up with Friend's mother. No reply.

I called Friend's mother. "Yes they're already trying on clothes. I'm beginning to regret this."

DD called me a couple of times to tell me that she was buying a gift for another friend's birthday at the weekend and then to ask if she could buy short leggings for gymnastics. She called to tell me she'd left her water bottle in a changing room and they couldn't find it. But while we were on the phone they found it in a drawer in the changing room. And every time I could hear the pride and satisfaction in her voice that she was out shopping with a friend. I schepped naches.*

Notes. The phrase "shep nachas" / "shepp naches" / "schep naches" - to derive pride and joy. From Yiddish שעפּן נחת shepn nakhes - 'derive pride'.

3
Camping
DD's friend had an overnight camping party in her garden, complete with the new standing pool they've got for the summer. It started with a birthday tea/supper at 5 pm Friday night and finished at 2 pm the next afternoon after lunch.

Just as I was wondering what to do with my free Shabbat, the universe stepped in and I was invited to lunch with friends where there would be no other children. It's the kind of lunch I have to bribe DD into attending and I often just decline the invitation because it's easier not to go.

On Friday evening I got into my pyjamas at 5.30 pm and hung out with myself, a good book, and a cheese sandwich. I should have had some wine but I didn't think far enough ahead. Still, it was bliss. Although I did miss DD, a bit.

And today I went to lunch with my adult friends, had a great time, and on the way back I swung by the party to pick up DD. She came home very happy and very exhausted, fell asleep for three hours, and then we watched Journey to the Centre of the Earth together on Netflix. The perfect end to a perfect day.



Friday, June 21, 2019

Dale Chihuly And Me

I'd said I'd come back and give Chihuly a post of his own so here it is. 

We were in London in April and my cousin offered to take us to Kew to see the Chihuly exhibition.

I once had a long and sometimes traumatic relationship with Dale Chihuly. Let me explain.

About 17 years ago there was a Chihuly exhibition in Jerusalem. At the time I was working for one of the sponsors of the event. I worked from her home. One day an enormous box was delivered - a thank you gift from Chihuly himself.
The box wasn't heavy, just huge, and I was asked to unpack it.

It was filled with shredded paper and polystyrene bits. I had to dig around and eventually I found a large glass plate and eight long and twisty glass fronds with flowering glass ends. I searched and searched for the stand, or the instructions to put it together but there was no stand and no instructions. In the end I left all the pieces on the dining-room table and didn't dare throw out the box in case I'd missed a piece of priceless glass art.

On my next visit to the house I saw all the pieces artfully arranged on the table. There was no stand and no instruction sheet - you could arrange it how you liked. I largely left it alone but I was asked, as a special favour, to dust it during my visits as the cleaner was too scared to touch it. I didn't mind dusting the Chihuly and I even sometimes arranged it differently.

The trauma arose when the lady of the house had a dinner party, or any type of gathering that involved lots of food on the dining table. The Chihuly had to be moved. The only other place large enough to display it was a large window shelf half way down the staircase. Reaching it necessitated a step ladder on the half landing, bringing each piece of glass down the stairs, climbing the ladder, and arranging it whilst still on the ladder.

People who know me will confirm that I'm not a climber. Not even without carrying thousands of dollars of glass. I never had to move the Chihuly myself but as the other responsible adult in the house, I was always asked to help. I didn't sleep the night before the moving of the Chihuly, nor the night before putting it back. I was so traumatized by the whole double operation that I didn't even go to see the exhibition in Jerusalem.

Fast forward almost two decades and I jumped at the offer to go to Kew Gardens by car on a mild spring day. What could be better? I love Kew Gardens. The Chihuly - meh? I'd 'lived' with his bits of glass for long enough way back when.

Reader I was wrong. We spent about six hours walking around Kew Gardens and I could have stayed for more but for the fact that DD was tiring and we wanted to miss the London rush hour. Kew was spectacular, as always, but the Chihuly was magical. Every time we turned a corner we all three of us gasped in wonder at the sheer beauty and magnitude of the glass glittering in the sun (and sometimes rain). It was a truly cathartic experience, giving me closure on all my Chihuly trauma. Dale I forgive you and worship your amazing vision.




The exhibition is open until October I believe. I would definitely go again and again. Plan to stay all day - we didn't get to see a number of things on our list. I hope you enjoy the photos - they represent just a few of the hundreds we took. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Lag B'Omer Beyond The Fire

It was already a month ago but I wanted to write about Lag B'Omer this year because our traditional class bonfire was different and it gave all of us parents pause for thought. But before I get to that I have to re-frame Lag B'Omer as a rational holiday.

The mini festival marks the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. The Omer is the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot (Passover and the Feast of Weeks). In religious terms those seven weeks count the time between the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. In practical terms, they were the seven weeks of the grain harvest (barley first and then wheat) that called for a celebratory feast at the end. It's no coincidence that Christians count seven weeks from Easter Sunday till Pentecost (or Whit Sunday).

In the Jewish Year, the Omer is a time when we don't celebrate weddings, cut our hair or do any frivolous partying. Obviously, there was no time for any of this when everyone had to help with the grain harvest. So of course the rabbis had to come up with a reason for this period of semi-mourning, which wasn't mourning at all but rather a time of concerted and focused effort on one project - the harvest.

Its all a bit silly really. They say that 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died of a plague during this time because they didn't show enough respect to one another. You couldn't make it up. Oh, they did make it up. And on the 33rd day of the Omer, the plague stopped. Hooray! What probably happened was that 24,000 students fell in the battles against the Romans and on the day that happened to be the 33rd day of the Omer, either they had some minor victory or the war ended. That would tie in with the fact that traditionally children used to play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.

It's also supposed to be the deathday of another great Rabbi. But we don't celebrate the births or deaths of any of the real central figures to Judaism - Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Kings Solomon and David, or even any of the prophets, or, in fact, any of the revered characters to whom God actually spoke (Samson, Daniel). So 1. Bonfires and parties are a funny way to mark someone's death, unless it's Guy Fawkes or Hitler. And 2. If we're celebrating someone's life I'd rather it be Theodor Herzl who paved the way for a Jewish State and so saved thousands of Jews who moved to Palestine from being murdered by the Nazis. Or Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who together discovered penicillin thereby saving millions of people from previously fatal infections and infectious diseases.

I can't find any reference to a natural or agricultural phenomenon linking Lag B'Omer to bonfires so I'm thinking that maybe at the end of the grain harvests they started to burn the stubble in the fields around this date? It could be. It's a theory.

So we have bonfires and parties to celebrate Lag B'Omer. It's huge in Israel. Every school class and youth club have an enormous bonfire and the older kids often stay up all night. I've written about it before.  

Back to our class bonfire. We've had one every year with DD's class since they were four years old in nursery school. When they were very young the children largely ignored the bonfire and we kept them busy with some sort of activity. In 2nd grade the school had one large bonfire for everyone and a fair in the playground. No one was really satisfied with that and anyway, by the next year the open space next to the school had been turned into a proper football pitch with expensive astroturf. So no place for a fire there.

In 3rd and 4th grades the activity was the fire. The kids collected the wood and were fascinated by watching it burn - as we all are to some extent, let's be honest. The game was to build as big a fire as possible and to keep feeding it with more and more wood. However, this year was entirely different.

They built a moderate fire and the obligatory tiny hearth nearby on which to roast marshmallows. Then they spent the rest of the evening playing dodge ball (or king ball, or two camps, or whatever variation they play). Another group sat and sang songs. The parents provided far too much food as usual but we're the same as we we've been for years. It's the children who are noticeably growing up. It was a wonderful thing to see the difference between 9-10 years old and 10-11 years old.

In times of heightened awareness about air pollution and the environment, in which groups are being encouraged to attend central or shared bonfires, and forest fires meant that size and other restrictions were imposed countrywide, it was a good to see that our children have moved beyond the fire.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Slimming Sunday - OMAD

Yes, a stroopwafel on my coffee is allowed.
I waited a day before writing this post (you may have noticed that it's Monday) because I wanted to see the effect of eating an enormous falafel in laffa (a large chewy flat bread) with all the trimmings (8 falafel balls, humus, salad, fried aubergine, pickles, and chips) for my one meal a day.

Here's the story so far. I did intermittent fasting for the five weeks between April 28th and June 2nd. I aimed for 20 hours of fasting a day and, with the help of a motivating phone app (Fasti), I managed it on most days. There were at least five days when I went over 24 hours without food but it averaged out to about 20 hours a day throughout the month. Even with a couple of days not doing it at all and about 6 days of only managing between 14 and 19 hours of fasting, I lost 12 lbs (5.5 kg).

Then came summer. The first week of June I was doing great until Wednesday. On Thursday I went to a wedding and the following weekend was the festival of Shavuot which, being a Jewish Holiday, involved a number of festive meals. I dreaded standing on the scales after all that, but in fact I only put back on 2 lbs.

If you read/watch all the all the information on IT (Intermittent Fasting) it seems that doing intermittent fasting just intermittently can be beneficial. Reducing your insulin levels drastically a few times a week has a good effect. Hence the success of the 15:2 diet. However, I read that even fasting for a day once a month is good for you. I'm purposely staying clear of any scientific explanations here as I'm bound to get it wrong, I'm not a doctor or a scientist, and you can find out everything you need to know online.

Anyway, back to my experience. It was June 9th and I'd put back 2 lbs of the 12 I'd lost. I'd lost the momentum of fasting for most of the day because the wedding and some festival meals are served late at night and then there were the festival lunches...

There was also a slight problem with the 20 hour goal with no time constraints. If you eat after 20 hours every day, your eating window gets earlier and earlier. I managed to adjust it by going for a full 24 hours every few days but that was when I was in school till 3 pm four days a week. Now I'm mostly working from home so it's a lot harder to hold out. (I can see the fridge from where I'm sitting now.)

Thus, I decided to fine tune the IT and say no eating until 4 pm. And then I have OMAD (one meal a day.) I don't have to eat that meal at 4 pm and I usually don't eat until 5.30 or 6. If I'm going out on a Friday night the meal is usually a bit later. If I get an invitation to a Shabbat lunch I'll make an exception. Luckily there are no festivals coming up.

So far, only a week following this new (new for me) patent, I've been eating mostly a big salad for my one meal. However, I have been known to finish off the pasta I made for DD or eat the leftover slice(s) of pizza. I had some hesitation about a spot of dessert after the salad but I often went for it. It was usually a Danish pastry or a Stroopwafel with my coffee. The point is to make the one meal big and filling enough (without stuffing yourself to the gills) to get you through the evening without craving more food. However, if I do need to finish off some pasta or pizza (because it would be rude not to) I make sure I do it before 8 pm.

The scales have been going down slowly but steadily all week.

Yesterday evening I had a school event so I told DD I'd bring falafel home for supper. Mine was the enormous laffa described above. It must be 1,500 calories. I didn't have any dessert. And this morning the scales were down again.

It takes a leap of faith to allow yourself all the foods that have been forbidden on traditional weight-loss diets for the past 40 years. But it seems that it works. I won't be eating laffas every day. I shall return to my salads for the most part and only have dessert when it's there, which is occasionally.

Two weeks into June I'm still on track.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

R2BC - End Of Year Events

DD's Monsters. Everyone liked them except DD.
DD's story is on the left but it's in Hebrew.
Here are my reasons to be cheerful for last week. The linky is back with Becky on Lakes Single Mum this week as Mich is busy with guests and family.

1
No End Of Year Parties
End of year parties are a big thing in Israel. Some teachers have an end of year party for every class they teach. I spared my students and pupils yet another party and more sugar overload. For my last week of teaching we had relaxed lessons, I wished the students good luck in their exam next week and my young pupils a wonderful summer.

DD's original drawing.
Of course I'll be seeing them all again this coming week for the exam in college and I have to wrap up the library and attend a training session in school. Remember how I was laughing as I finished teaching on Wednesday? Well I did finish teaching but I have teaching related work to do for at least another week - if not more. My laughing has been reduced to a wry smile as I don't have to get both me and DD out of the house by 7.30 am. Small gains.

2
New Beds
My mattress was 30 years old, it had come through half a decade of children using it as a trampoline - it was that type of old fashioned, fully sprung, bouncy mattress - and it was sagging in all sorts of places. More importantly, it was no longer comfortable. So I went to buy a new one.

Ready for children's television. 
I know things are more expensive in Israel but I was shocked when the man in the bed shop told me the prices. I could probably have got something cheaper in IKEA, however, this is my local bed shop. They made my bed frame and a few years later they added a headboard to it when I realized that no headboard is not at all sophisticated. They provided a new mattress for the child's bed that used to be DD's but then got moved to the spudy. It originally came with a thin sponge mattress and needed upgrading for guests.

The price of the simple mattress (not sponge obviously but nothing amazing) was the price I wanted to pay for something in the middle range. The man told me to lie on the most expensive mattress and feel the difference. Then he offered me the most expensive mattress that had been on a bed in the shop for six months, for less than the simple mattress. Sold.

While I was at it I bought a new bed for DD too. Her 1.2 m. wide box bed took up too much space in the bedroom, we don't need the storage in the box, and I wanted to make her room lighter and airier.

The beds came on Thursday. Mine is amazing. I am now about 20 cm higher up, I can't sit on my bed anymore as it's too high, and I have slept through the night since it arrived.

Here's one by Natan that everyone loved. 
3
Finale
We enjoyed the Artists' Class Finale at the museum on Thursday evening.


Monster Exhibition
DD's year at school all drew monsters and wrote stories about them. They were then paired up with Art Students from The Hebrew University Bezalel Art School. The students produced professional drawings or models of the monsters as if they were to be made into cartoons or books. On Friday all the students came in to school and we had an exhibition of the finished works alongside the original drawings and stories. It was very good.

(Aside: I must confess that DD didn't have such a great experience. Her name plate fell of the wall so at first we couldn't find her work. Eventually we found it on the floor and managed to stick it back up for the photo. Her illustrator couldn't come so she didn't get that experience. But turns out maybe that was a good thing. DD took one look the way her monsters had been interpreted and burst into tears because she didn't like it. We slipped away and came home were she was inconsolable until she accidently dropped a glass dish and cut her foot. That took her mind off the monster at least. We were both glad that it was Friday afternoon.)

5
3/7
That's my blogging score for this week. Not quite the bogging every day that I was aiming for but at least this month has the most posts so far this year. Today starts another week...

Have a great weekend! xxx


Friday, June 14, 2019

Artists' Class Finale 2019

Yesterday we had the closing even of the Artists' Classes. I wrote about last year's fabulous event here.

To remind you, this is a small class of up to 15 pupils who have a passion for art. They do weekly art sessions in school and every couple of months they go to the Israel Museum for a special tour or project. There are about 50 primary schools in Jerusalem who take part. Contrary to folk 'wisdom' in the rest of the world, the programme includes Jewish, Arab, and 'Other' schools; secular and religious. We don't need Madonna to tell us how to work together.

There were about 500 dioramas.
This was the best one. 😜
Yesterday we went to the Israel Museum well prepared with our own bottles of water and summer clothing but the weather was mild, even a bit chilly. We already knew the drill. Daphna from the Museum made a short opening speech in Hebrew and in Arabic. She welcomed 43 schools and reminded the children that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in art. Whatever you create is your truth.

Each school had an area of the sculpture garden. We had a tree-top previously painted by our wonderful art teacher, Moriya. And each child had a box in which to draw a background and then make a sort of diorama. The boxes would then be stuck onto the tree and displayed with all the other trees in a forest of artistic creativity.

This was our school's finished tree. 
The backgrounds were supposed to be a view or sculpture from the museum but our children mostly opted for sunsets or country scenes. DD did a beach. But by the time all the diorama's had been completed with all sorts of incongruent additions, very few of them were specifically identifiable as Israel Museum based.

Unlike last year, the children really didn't need our help. I gave DD a couple of ideas at the end and helped her cut out the birds and the boat. Mostly I walked around spying taking an interest in other schools. The school where I teach was there with three of my own pupils so I hung out with them for a while and chatted with the parents. Like last year there were loads of people I knew who have children on the programme from other schools. Jerusalem is like that. Still small enough to know people.

Here are some of the other trees from other schools You can click on the photos for a bigger picture:

I loved this background on the tree.

I liked the way this school used real branches and leaves.

These guys decorated the outsides of the boxes to great effect.
This school really used the Museum sculptures.

The most tree-like.

We didn't stay for all the speeches at the end. We learned something from last year. We slipped away and came home on the bus. On the way from the bus stop we stopped to buy half a watermelon for today's event in school. It never ends. It's that time of year.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Slimming Sunday - IF Only Revisited

Two years ago I wrote this post. I'd lost 10 lbs with intermittent fasting for one month and I laid out my plans for the following month. The following month's plans never happened. I managed to keep some of the benefits of IF because even a short period of fasting has longer term benefits, but I lost the momentum.

So last week I was actually in almost the exact same position I'd been in two years ago. If you follow the link, most of what I said then remains true today. This time I added a couple of tweaks and of course the motivation has increased due to my brother's wedding in the Autumn.

I'm not going to explain IF again -  you can read and watch videos about it all day online and I urge you to at least dip into that body of information, especially Dr, Jason Fung and his book: The Obesity Code. Like two years ago, I aimed for one meal a day (OMAD) and this time I aimed to increase my fasting to 20 hours a day. (By fasting I mean not eating. I drink tea, coffee, and lots of water.)

I downloaded an app which times your fasts (Fasti - fasting tracker). There are many many IF apps. You can browse them and choose for yourself. Mine is a simple stop watch that saves the times so you can look back on the week and even the month in various graphic representations (a list, a bar graph a weight loss graph if you put in your weight).

The app doesn't tell you what to do, it only records what you've done. However, I did find it motivating in that when I started to think about eating and I saw the clock on 18 hrs 55 mins and counting, I tended to hold off for the sake of one more hour. Even in the middle of the day, when I saw e.g. 14 hours, I'd think why spoil it? I'd be less likely to throw away 14 hrs of fasting to eat something I didn't need than if I didn't have that clock keeping track for me.

As I said, I set my goal for 20 hour a day. I didn't always get there and there is one 14 hour fast, a few between 15 and 19 hours. There was one full weekend where I didn't do it at all. Otoh, there were many days (at least two a week) where I went over 24 hours without eating. If the 20 hours was up in the afternoon and I was still running around, taking DD to gymnastics or shopping, I often didn't get to sit down and eat till 8 pm. And sometimes, having broken the 24 hours barrier, I'd be motivated to go for longer. Even going to bed in order to add another 10 hours.

On the whole I averaged about 20 hours a day fasting. It's easier for me to fast than to eat in moderation. Better not to open the flood gates even a crack. And I actually enjoy feeling hungry. It's not starving but rather feeling light and knowing that I must be running on stored energy. A mixture of physical and psychological well-being.

I've put the suffering of the cows and chickens on hold for now. I'm not proud of it but I need to concentrate on my own health atm. I've ditched calorie counting and low fat mania completely. I try to eat fewer carbs but I don't forbid myself potatoes, bread or pasta.

I lost 12 lbs in the first 5 weeks (5.5 kg). This past week I, week 6, I'd kept it all off by Wednesday but then I went to a wedding and was invited to two festival meals this weekend. I didn't even weigh myself this morning. I have noticed though, that I am eating much less when sitting down to a big meal served buffet or family style. I pay attention to when I'm full and I stop.