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.