Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Costume Drama

"I look ridiculous!"
If you've been reading my blog for a number of years, you'll know that DD hates dressing up. Since the age of two, she's refused to dress up in a costume for Purim. Purim, the festival where even adults in the streets can be seen wearing silly clothes and costumes, is a nightmare for DD. I've given up trying to persuade her and she usually goes to school, the only child in her class without a costume. And she doesn't care. Or, like last year, she doesn't go to school.

This year she was invited to go shopping for a costume with her best friend. She declined even though I said she could choose anything she likes from the costume shop. And costumes for DD's size can be up to 250 nis (£50). We have a giraffe onesie in the wardrobe but for sure that wasn't coming out. And so I thought another costumeless year would go by.

Then, on Sunday, on the bus, on my way home from school, DD phoned me. "Mummy, do we have anything that I could use to be a girl pirate? I just don't want to be the only one with nothing for a costume." So I got off the bus three stops early and went into Max Stock (like Poundland). I found one Alice-band with a pirate hat, a hook, and a plastic telescope. 5 shekels each.

At home she put on black leggings and her boots, I found a red T-shirt and a black waistcoat of mine and we were done. For £3. :)

Today was the day that all the kids dress up for school. DD woke up this morning and refused to go to school. She had to go as she had to reveal herself to her secret friend - they've been playing Giants and Dwarfs in the class. So she agreed to go but she wasn't dressing up.

Obviously it wasn't about the money, but I was fed up with the dithering. I knew she'd be happy once she got there. The costume was the most unridiculous costume you could find. I would wear it, without the hat and hook, on a normal day... if I looked as good as DD did in it. So I did what any mother would do. I threatened to take away her phone and her computer, and I pushed her out of the front door in tears.

By the time she got downstairs she had already taken off the hat and the hook. I watched some amazing costumes walking to school. DD looked up at the balcony where I was standing, and scowled.

Four hours later she came home with a friend, all smiles. It had been a really fun day. "Are you pleased you were dressed up?" I asked. DD tried hard not to smile as she refused to answer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I Am Someone

Love love love it!
Israel's entry to Eurovision 2019 was released yesterday. I woke up this morning to find my facebook feed full of opinions about it. It seems that either you love it or you hate it. The song, Home sung by Kobi Marimi, has sparked facebook responses like, "I was so bored I couldn't make it to the end." And, "we obvioulsy don't want to win and have to host again next year." 

I love it.

I admit that the first time I listened I was underwhelmed. Kobi Marimi has a beautiful voice but the video was a bit too film noir for me. And what on earth does it mean? 

I listened again. And again. And again. It grew on me so much that I'm a little obsessed with it now. I think I might be a little bit in love with Kobi Marimi. Or maybe it's just that amazing voice and the hint of a smile. It's certainly not his suit which, imo, needs to be one size larger. But the rest is... well it makes my heart sing.

So what does it mean? I think it's like the Josh Grobin song, You Raise Me Up, in that it can be taken as a romantic ballad or a prayer. There is a hint of someone with no self esteem who is possibly bullied until be starts believing in himself, with the help of a woman or God (you choose). It makes him someone. And now that he's found himself, he's coming home. Did he go out into the world to find himself, and therefore is now literally going home? Or is going home a euphemism for going home to his love, place in the world, his childhood self esteem, or even home to God? 

Or perhaps we could look at it as symbolic of the Jewish People - done with accepting antisemitism, we're coming home.

Do we have a chance of winning? I don't think so. Last year's Toy sung by Netta Barzilai (also a love it or hate it entry) was perfect for the moment. It clicked with the "Me Too" movement and spoke to women everywhere. Toy couldn't be ignored but I think that politics will prevail again this year and Israel is not in a good place on the world stage atm. 

The lyrics are below. You decide for yourself. Do listen more than once as it grow on you. Here's the link to the video. 

Caught up in this moment 'til my heartbeat stops
I've been running barefoot to the mountain tops
Nothing comes as easy as it goes
I can hug the water when it snows

I feel the sun upon my skin and I am someone, I am someone
You pulled my heart, I took it in, it made me someone, I am someone
And now I'm done, I'm coming home

I used to listen to the way they talk
Counting down the minutes from the ticking clock

I feel the sun upon my skin and I am someone, I am someone
You pulled my heart, I took it in, it made me someone, I am someone
And now I'm done, I'm coming 

Home was so far, collecting scars, I refuse
Another touch won't be another bruise

I feel the sun upon my skin and I am someone, I am someone
You pulled my heart, I took it in, it made me someone, I am someone
I am standing tall not giving in
'Cause I am someone, I am someone

And now I'm done, I'm coming
Now I'm done, I'm coming
Now I'm done, I'm coming home

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Rather Pleased With Myself R2BC

The rosemary's in bloom
and I'm seriously running out of photos for the blog
There's a local career women's facebook group where they have a Wednesday Brag. Some of the brags are quite spectacular - I've been nominated for a Nobel Prize sort of spectacular. So I can't brag on that scale but I am rather pleased with myself this week, about a number of things. 

The Linky is back with Becky on Lakes Single Mum if you're looking to read more Reasons 2B Cheerful.

Coffee Dates
I think I wrote here a few weeks ago that I messed up with my work schedule this year by agreeing to spread my hours over a full five days. It's nice to be earning the money but, as a single mother, I had no time to meet a friend for coffee once in a while, not to mention all those other errands and appointments that need doing during office hours.

So this week I got tough with my college online students and have made myself available for meetings on only two Tuesday mornings a month instead of every Tuesday morning, Tuesday being the day I teach in college in the afternoon. I have to meet with each online student twice during the year but I found I was going into college for one or two meetings each Tuesday morning. Of course I used the rest of the morning to get work done, but it was annoying.

Last Tuesday morning I went out for coffee with a friend that I hardly ever see. I have another coffee date arranged for this Tuesday - someone visiting from the UK. And I already know who the next friend I want to see is - in three weeks time if she's available. I am very pleased with myself for making this small adjustment that adds so much to my quality of life.

Swimming Lessons
DD started swimming lessons this week. Each year I've paid for a course of swimming lessons for her at the beginning of the summer but this year she gets lessons with her class at school. Every 5th or 6th grade pupil (each school gets it once every two years for both grades) in Jerusalem gets 10 lessons (2/week for 5 weeks) at a local pool. DD was put in the middle group - she knows how to swim but needs to improve style and strength.The lower group is for pupils who can't swim yet and the higher group is for serious swimmers who start learning life-saving skills.

The first lesson on Monday was a bit of a disaster because as she put it, "I didn't have a system for getting showered and changed afterwards so all my clothes got wet." By Wednesday we'd worked out a better arrangement of putting everything into plastic bags inside her swimming tote and taking spare clothes just in case. She also told me that by the second lesson the girls already didn't care about stripping off in front of each other so she didn't have to take her dry clothes into the shower cubicle with her. "We've all got the same bodies, after all," she told me.

Deborah's Friends
We had our annual get-together in memory of a dear friend who died too young. It's not a memorial service but rather a celebration of friendships that go back to childhood. Between 10 and 20 people usually show up for a light supper and a loosely arranged programme. I wrote yesterday about my eventful journey to get there but once I arrived, it was a lovely evening as usual. I have to say that I was extremely pleased with the solution I came up with for getting there and so were my three fellow travelers who were very grateful for my taking the initiative.

This year the theme was all about giving. One friend told us about his volunteer work for Paamonim which is a country-wide organisation that mentors families through budgeting and getting out of debt. All the mentors are volunteers who take a serious 30-hour training course. Check out the Paamonim website. It's in English and fascinating. Another friend spoke about volunteering at the library and how we tend to think that people don't read anymore because of the internet and streamed tv, but actually the library is as popular as ever. One friend works for the Foreign Office and he spoke about all sorts of irrigation and educational projects in Africa that he's involved with. (Turns out that a group of African Principals who visited our school to learn about how we use the greenhouse to teach agriculture, were from a group he organized.) And I spoke about the Yedidya Bazaar as it's close to my heart.

A great innovation for this year is that instead of writing cheques for our annual collection for Zichron Menachem, to help send children with cancer on a fabulous summer camp holiday, we've gone digital. The donations department at ZM opened a group for us so that we can donate directly. I'm hoping that we'll raise much more money as it's easier and also some of our friends in the UK (and USA) will also donate via the website. I organized this and I'm pleased about it but I have to admit that the impetus came from having lost the cheques last year and then having to phone round everyone who was there, apologise profusely, and ask them to send another cheque. Woops.

I wrote an article and sent it to a features editor of a paper. She wrote back that she likes it but needs to give some thought about how it might be edited to suit her paper. And if it's not accepted in the end, I'll edit it for this blog. Win win, but I'm pleased with myself for writing and sending it.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Just Selfish (Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel)

Blue and white workers keep this country going, not black hatted shirkers.
Last night I tried to get to J's house in Bet Shemesh, about a half hour ride from Jerusalem. I dropped DD off at another friend where she was staying the night, and went to catch my bus into town. Who knew that there was a huge demonstration by thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews, blocking the roads leading to and from the Central Bus Station (CBS) and the light-rail system?

You have to feel sorry for them - not. While everyone in Israel has to do some sort of National Service (not necessarily in the military - it could be in the voluntary sector) the ultra-orthodox are exempt.

It's an old law from the beginning of the State, when there were only a few remnants of ultra-orthodox Jewry left after the Holocaust. All the huge Jewish study halls (yeshivot) in Europe were gone. Thousands of years of learning were in danger of being forgotten. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, decreed that these men could receive a stipend to study the Jewish sources full time and that they would be exempt from Army Service. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And it was a good idea for its time.

Since then a lot has changed. For one thing, we now have an alternative Voluntary National Service for those not suitable for combat. However, the main problem is that after 70 years, and with a religious ban on family planning, there are now thousands of ultra-orthodox men who opt out of real life and spend their days in the study halls. And believe me, they are not all scholars. They live off charity, and/or they send their wives out to work - the women who also have to look after a household of, give or take, 10 children.

They say that they want nothing to do with the State while using the roads, sanitation, electricity, water, gas, engineering, doctors, hospitals, schools, police, transport, agriculture, food, other commodities, and national security that the working people of the State provide.

The demonstration was about new laws that cancel the exemption from National Service. Why should ultra-orthodox men take any responsibility at all? For anything? So they chose Thursday evening for maximum disruption.

Thursday night on public transport is crazy at the best of times as our weekends are Friday/Saturday. Hundreds of people leaving for the weekend. Many with backpacks or suitcases escaping the city after a long working week. With half the system down it was absolute chaos. The buses that could run were crushingly crowded and the roads were in gridlock.

I eventually arrived at the CBS to find that all buses had been suspended until 7.45, after the protest. So after a week spent in the study halls (because they don't work) while others earned the taxes to pay for their everything, they then shut down the transport system so the tired workers couldn't get home to begin their weekend.

It was 6.15. At the Bet Shemesh terminal, people were just sitting and waiting. I had somewhere to be at 8 pm and I wasn't going to wait. A taxi to Bet Shemesh costs about 200 shekels (£42.50) but if four people split the cost... I called out loudly, "Who wants to share a taxi to Bet Shemesh?" Three people jumped up and off we went.

I got to my event on time but people travelling further afield couldn't just take a taxi. And after a while there were very few taxis available. Another friend walked for over an hour to cover the part of his homeward journey that was void of public transport. As he said, not everyone is young and fit enough to walk long distances.

On Friday morning there were special prayers for the new month at the Western Wall. A group of women pray there on new month days, days, which are attributed special status for women. The ultra-orthodox selfish brigade regrouped to heckle, throw stones, and physically attack these women for the crime of praying the full service with a Torah scroll - an act traditionally reserved for men.

The ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel protest against doing army service because combat would sully their pure, but selfish, souls. Yet the next morning they come and beat up women who only want to pray. It's not about purity or serving God. These men have only basic education, if any, outside of religious studies. They are not equipped to think for themselves. They do as their rabbis tell them and for the despot rabbis, it's all about retaining control.

It's all about power.

It has to stop.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

R2BC - So Long Wet Winter

Ready for Spring (photo by Sarit)
I really wanted to write this Reasons 2B Cheerful post tonight so that it gets in under February's posts, so that's why I'm on time this week. The Linky is at Mich's Mummy from the Heart for the last time before moving for March.

The Power of Whatsapp
Yesterday I was walkng to the bus stop when I met my downstairs neighbour on the corner waiting for her ride to work. We were chatting when we saw a car try to turn the corner on the wrong side of the road and hit another car. No one was hurt and both drivers got out and started taking pictures. My neighbour's ride came and I went on to catch my bus.

Later I got this Whatsapp message: "This morning I was involved in an accident on the corner of x and y streets. Two mothers from the school (actually my neighbour isn't but I am) saw it. Please pass this message on if you have kids in other classes so that I can find and talk to them." And there was a phone number.

I called. She is a First Grade mother but the power of Whatsapp sent the message to almost every class in the school. She told me that the guy in the other car is saying that it was her fault. I wrote down what I saw and whatsapped it to her. She was very grateful and said that they probably won't need a witness but the insurance company might call me to verify.

Away Away
In the famous words of Meryl Streep in Mama Mia, it's not just away, it's away away. Yedidya Bazaar was earlier this week. I took along five shopping trolleys worth of stuff that I'd decluttered last summer but not yet moved out of the apartment. I'm still trying to decide how to best use the freed up space in the spudy wardrobe.

Stormy Weather
We just had the most almighty storm in Israel. The streets turned to rivers, the lights went out at school (although strangely all other electricity was fine), it hailed tennis balls of ice, the ground is saturated. It was amazing! Obviously it was amazing because it only lasted two days. I get it that this sort of weather that can go on for weeks in the UK and other northern climes, is not amazing, just depressing. But for us, it was amazing. Now it has almost passed. Almost but not quite.

This winter has marked the end of a five year drought. That doesn't mean no rain for five years but very little, and not enough. And more rain expected next week, although not as big a storm as we just had.

Marching On
Tomorrow is March. So long winter. You were a wet one this year and we're ready to say thank you and good bye.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Shop, Colour, Catch Up - R2BC

Here are my reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. The laid-back linky is on Michelle's Mummy from the Heart for the month of February, with more R2BC posts from around the world. 

A Morning In Town
On Tuesday morning I was free so DD missed school to go and get her passport renewed. That took an hour and then we went shopping. New shoes and a top for me and we both came away with new leather-look covers for our previously naked phones. We feel very sophisticated. Then we went out for coffee. DD had three scoops of ice-cream with whipped cream and sprinkles. I had some aubergine pate and toast. We also tracked down a tapestry pattern for my cousin in London. This involved lots of photos and chatting via Whatsapp so she got exactly what she wanted. Then we came home. DD has half day on Tuesdays and a friend came over after school for lunch, which I provided before going off to teach my afternoon classes. A thoroughly satisfactory morning.

With some help from two 6th Grade girls, I spent my breaks at work this week colouring little posters for the English library. I got all enthusiastic to spruce it up and organise as I'd ordered 40 new books which arrived this week. Next week I'll be covering them all in protective sticky-back plastic. I find this quite a relaxing job and it keeps me away from the biscuits in the staff room.

Dinner For Two
A friend from NYC was in town and I invited her for Friday night dinner. She arrived at about 7 pm. DD said hello and then decided to go and lie down for a bit because her eyes hurt. She didn't make the connection with having been up since 3.30 in the morning to watch the space launch. I did and wasn't surprised that she fell asleep and was out for the night. Which meant that my friend and I had a lovely catching up session over a leisurely dinner.

Friday, February 22, 2019

To The Moon And Back

This morning Israel (and Nasa) launched the first Israeli Moon Lander. This is huge. Only three other countries in the world have ever landed on the moon.

Russia landed the first unmanned rocket on 13th September 1959. America was first to put a man on the moon on 20th July 1969. And China landed an unmanned something in 2013. We are the fourth country in the world to go to the moon!

I'm writing this at 4.10 am. No this is not part of my get up early regime. This was a special early rise to watch the space launch. Although it wasn't actually planned. I mean the space launch was planned obviously, but as we went to bed last night I said to DD, "do we really want to get up at 3.30 to watch the launch?"
"Nah," she replied, "we'll watch it in the morning."

Then I woke up with a headache so seeing as I was awake anyway I woke DD and she came to watch the live streaming with me. We listened to the commentary in English from America. There were flashes and flares, the rocket went up, every so often the people on the ground at Nasa clapped enthusiastically.
DD said, "We don't understand any of this, I'm going back to bed."

Then the first stage rocket was ejected, then it made re-entry into the Earth's orbit, and finally it landed safely. More clapping from Nasa, I joined in. I wan't entirely caught up in the excitement yet but it would have been rude not to clap.

They announced a short break. Oh good, time for coffee. I made coffee and found the live streaming on the big smart tv screen, ready to watch the moon landing, or at least see more of the journey. My channel was still on a break but they showed how you could get an app on your phone to see pictures of the Earth from space. I won't bother - Design Home is taking up far too much phone memory already.

I texted a friend who I knew was also up watching. "What time is the actual moon landing?"
"Some time in April."
"You're kidding. I just made coffee."

So now I'm up and awake. It's going to be a long long day.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Smug And Friendly R2BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Eat, Read, Watch The Sunset - R2BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 2, 2019

R2BC for February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 26, 2019

School Fair Bonanza - R2BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits #50 - Sainbury's Suckers

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Happy New Year Trees! - R2BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Lifestyle Change - R2BC

We Love London!
"I'll still be blogging," I wrote back on December 1st 2018, when we announced that Reasons 2B Cheerful was taking a month long break for the holidays. And then I didn't. Of course we didn't stop living, heaven forfend, but we went to London for Hanuka and when we returned after only one week away, work suddenly got very hectic and it got cold and it always takes me a while to settle back into real life after a holiday. LSS, I've not blogged for about six weeks.

We had a fabulous time in London. My Mum took us all to see "The Lion King," as a big 10th Birthday celebration for DD. It was amazing. I can cross that trip to Africa off the bucket list as I feel like I've been - and without the malaria shots or risk of ebola virus. We had lots of family Hanuka parties - ours, my sister's in-laws, and an extra one for DD's birthday supper. We went to my nephew's school play which was lots of fun. If you're counting, that's five evenings out of the six we had available. In between we went shopping, we saw the lights in the West End, went to the Hanuka candle lighting and concert in Trafalgar Square, and hung out with friends. It was a really lovely break.

I thought about blogging. A lot. I kept thinking of things or seeing something and I'd instantly go into blog mode - how I was going to write this up and what photo would I use to illustrate it. And then I'd have an hour to write and I resisted. I don't know why. I certainly wasn't short of things to say.

One thing became very clear over the past few weeks, and it's something I've seen in other parenting blogs that have survived the years. DD turned 10 during the holidays and this blog has changed over time, as we have changed. It's no longer just a parenting blog but has evolved into a bit of everything. A lifestyle blog? I'd like to write a lifestyle blog but I feel like I need a lifestyle.

Obviously I have a lifestyle. It's sort of chaotic, lived by default, lots of procrastination, and, it must be said, not the role model I want to portray for my DD. There's a book called, "The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy." So it's been done and I could live up to a similar role, but I don't want to. We have fun and enjoy being laid back about things. However, you can be so laid back it's hard to take your eyes off the clouds above and deal successfully with the real life around you. I feel I need to live more purposefully.

New Year's Day came and went as work pulled the rug out beneath me. I needed to write school reports, hand in end of semester exams, and at my college they suddenly announced that all course materials have to be online. That means no more photocopying as the students can access and print out all their materials themselves. One of my courses is online so no panic there. One of my courses is planned and ready to be transferred but it's an enormous amount of work as you don't just want to scan and repeat. If you're already changing the format, you want to edit and improve. And adjust to a different way of teaching whereby the students don't have to photocopy reams of papers every week.

My third course is new to me this year. I've been making it up as I go along. I've been finishing the lesson plans on Monday nights and photocopying the material for everyone on Tuesday mornings before the lesson. It's been hit and miss but I figured that by next year I'll have lesson plans ready for the whole year. Except now I can't do that because they want everything up and accessible for the rest of the year. So lots of work hit me all at once.

I did the inevitable when faced with such a tsunami. I got sick. And DD followed my lead because she also wanted some time off school during a week of stormy weather. I had the whole week at home - some for my sickness and some because I couldn't leave DD at home on her own all day. I didn't get any actual work done, but I do feel refreshed and ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

I need a plan. Planning is my favourite thing to do. Implementing the plans, less so. I don't know where this "Project Lifestyle" will take me but I'm up for the ride. I'm feeling cheerful about it. So, a bit late but.... Ready! Steady! 2019!

Reasons 2B Cheerful is back with Becky for January 2019 and I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Lakes Single Mum.