Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tomatoes But No Abundance - R2BC

A few weeks ago I cut up a tomato and planted it in soil.
Now I have three tomatoes growing. 
This week was productive. Who was it who said, "when you look back on days you were proud, they won't be days when you did nothing."? 

The Linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum and here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful this week. 

The End
I wrapped up three college courses and submitted the final grades to two of them. (The 3rd course has a retake exam at the end of August for those who need it (failed or absent).

Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Wrapping up those courses freed my mind to start cleaning my apartment which has been neglected for a few weeks. It feels good to restore some order and DD appreciates it too.

Abundance - Ha!
I walked away from Deepak Chopra's Abundance course. I still believe in the power of the mind but on the third session the task was to start your own course and invite your own friends to join it. In other words it was a scam to get more hits on DC's You Tube channel - where the sessions are located.

My friend who invited me was only doing it as part of her course. I thought she'd chosen me among her friends as a spiritually open person and I believed she had a calling to guide such a course among her friends. I'm cheerful because I had the sense to just walk away when my instincts told me to. It was abundance for Deepak Chopra that's who. My abundance will come and meanwhile, it freed up some much needed time in the mornings. Actually, I'm over-abunded with work atm.

I got a refund from DD's school in lieu of the class trips and other activities that didn't happen last semester. At least that.

Lots of bank and bureaucracy to deal with this week. Yes it's a hassle but I'll feel great when it's done.

Summer Course
My summer course starts in one week. I'm actually looking forward to setting it up on the website. It's something new this summer. I'm using more of the website's wigdets and gadgets for quizzes and forums, rather than just asking students to submit work.

Stairway to Heaven
The building committee in my block has sprung to life over the past couple of months. Suddenly things are getting fixed. This week our stairwell is being painted. I've set up a Paybox account to collect money from all the apartments. (Did I mention that I was coerced onto the building committee?). Let's see how much of a hassle this becomes. So far I'm only one who has paid up.

That's it for now. Have a good week.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Corona Car Rally - R2BC

A car in a mask.
My Reasons 2B Cheerful this week are about DD's graduation from primary school. In a normal year the 6th Grade go on a two day trip with a sleep over, they spend weeks rehearsing a full show, and there's a graduation ceremony. It's a big deal.

This year they were barely in school for any of their final semester and obviously there was no trip. The parents' committee came up with an alternative keeping to the corona restrictions and gave the 6th Grade a great sendoff.

We met at the school (HQ) at 16.15 with decorated cars. The first event was a car rally around Jerusalem. Each car had two pupils and two parents. We were given five clues to places we had to go to in the correct order, and at each station we had a task to complete and then send photographic evidence (still or video) back to HQ. It was cleverly organised so that everyone had different stations and tasks in different orders.

As the photos and videos came in they were forwarded to the class and parents' whatsapp groups so we could enjoy seeing everyone else's efforts as we completed our own tasks.

Our route went as follows:
1. Cinema City to the person who said, "Sometimes it's the smallest things that fill up your heart." We googled it. It was Winnie the Pooh. Unfortunately the Disney statues were closed off. I felt I should have got extra points for finding a Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy in a vending machine. But we didn't and other groups were told to just skip that bit.

2. Sing this song in the appropriate place. Our song was Under the Sea so we went to the aquarium. Our girls were too embarrassed to sing so I took over the performance - making up the words as I went along in Hebrew. Then they had a better understanding of what embarrassment is.

3. The clue was a sculpture at the Science Museum where we had to build the tallest tower we could build.

4. We had to go to the house of the school nurse, where she had laid on healthy fresh fruit for her visitors. (Other cars went to other staff members with similar related treats.)

5. This is where we cheated. Although I claim that we were in credit for finding the alternative Pooh. Our final task was to go to the Jerusalem Forest, a good hour's drive round trip, and write a message in sticks, stones, and cones. We found some local trees near the school and faked the forest.

Back at school a burger supper was served in four different classrooms. Then parents who'd been on the car rally went home and the second parents arrived because only one parent per child was allowed, to keep the numbers down. First time ever being a single parent has been an advantage.

Parents of one class went to watch a slide-show while parents of the other class watched the kids performing some skits, dances, music, etc... followed by the graduation ceremony. Then the parents swapped places and the whole thing was repeated. There was a lot of hanging around.

For me the highlight of the performances was a group of kids marching onto the stage, chanting, "and then we returned to school!" Halfway across the stage they turned and walked the other way, chanting, "and then we didn't return to school." This was repeated a few times: "Then we did return to school!" "Then we didn't return to school!" "Then we did return to school!" Etc...

OMG, this is exactly how it was. As a teacher myself I can tell you that at least twice a week we were waiting for someone's test results to see if the whole school would be closed, or if just one class would be in isolation (and all who taught in her), or what the new government regulations were regarding which classes go to school and which get remote lessons and on which days. Absolutely crazy.

We came home late, exhausted but happy. It was hard leaving the building because it would be the last time. It wasn't the building, obviously, it was the last time these particular parents would meet as a group. We were a good group. And it was a final letting go of DD's young childhood.

As always, the linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Last Day Of Primary School

First Day at Kindergarten, aged 3 3/4
Can you believe it? I'm the single mum who just had a baby on my own. Only apparently that was almost 12 years ago and that baby just left primary school.

I'm the friend who dropped out of social events in the evenings because she had a baby/toddler/little girl at home. Only now there's no little girl at home. Only an almost teenager who looks remarkably like a young woman.

I look at the school opposite our house and down the road and it's no longer our school after eight long years.

I took DD to the kindergarten when she was still 3. It was two year groups together and the twins who 'adopted' her were almost 6. She was tiny and a bit like the mascot of the kindergarten.

In 1st Grade I had to take her into the classroom every day and wait for the bell. Some days the Headmistress had to prize her off me saying, "A kiss from Mummy and in you go." What she meant was - off you go Mummy and be quick about it.

By 2nd Grade I was leaving her at the school gates and watching her run inside.

In 3rd Grade she wanted me to stop half way down the road and let her walk the last bit with her friends. I watched until she'd gone through the school gates.

By 4th grade I only had to see her across the road.

In 5th grade she went by herself, carefully crossing the road as I watched from the balcony and waved. She got her own front door key for the days that she arrived home before me.

In 6th Grade I often had to go to work early, leaving DD to lock up and go to school. Three times a month she was the supervisor for the crossing guard.

I tried to send her to bed tonight. I don't know what I was thinking. "Good luck with that," she replied, "No school until September remember."

I remember.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Bat Mitzvah Perfect - R2BC

The Judean Hills
View from the Bat Mitzvah girl's garden.
Reasons 2B Cheerful are indeed 3 this week. The linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum as always. And here they are.

Bat Mitzvah Party
We went to a Bat Mitzvah party on Friday. It was a perfect gathering of a few families in the garden, a bagel brunch, dessert, some singing, some praying, some performances in honour of the Bat Mitzvah girl. Then the adults went home and left the Bat Mitzvah girl's friends for a sleepover.

They have a small pool in the garden and they put up tents for the girls to sleep in. I had a small glass of wine on my balcony at home and slept in my bed. And DD was delivered  home today. It was the perfect Bat Mitzvah celebration imo.

We talked about how corona has caused many events to be scaled down and it's sad when it means that family from far away can't be there. On the other hand, a more modest celebration can be extra special and meaningful in its intimacy and hygge.

Semester End
I have one more week of school and two more weeks of college until this semester is over, including grading the exams. During that time I still have to set up my summer online course ready to start on July 15th, but that's a new beginning. I love the ending. When every pupil's report card is written, most students have their final grade (because there are always some with extensions), I can almost close that door on a job done and relax.

Tomorrow morning I'm starting a meditation programme facilitated by a friend on facebook, and based on 21 Days of Abundance by Deepak Chopra. You can find it on You Tube and do it yourself but I'm looking forward to the guidance, commitment, and energy gained by being part of a group.

I've done a programme like this but different, before, #Breakthrough with Devorah Sisso. That time, although motivated, I came up against a brick wall in lesson 5 out of 6, when I had to write my aspirations for the future. You could ask the universe for anything you could imagine. And I was paralysed by the chasm between what I would love and what I saw as realistic.

I read The Secret. I watched the movie. I read another book about letting grace into your life. I did a course run by a fellow blogger called LifeCircle. We have a roof over our heads, we have food to eat, we have our health, and we have friends, so maybe they all worked. Otoh, I didn't get my yacht in Monaco or my Chateau in Provence so maybe I didn't do it right?

Anyway, I'm ready for another bash at being one of the world's amazing women so I'm giving it a go. Obviously I'll let you know how it turns out. I may be writing from my poolside suite at an exclusive spa or I may be writing from this dining table still piled high with stuff waiting to be put away. Or something in between.

Have a great week.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

From One Day To The Next - R2BC

The lettuces on my window sill are doing well.
As soon as I plant them outside the birds get them.
Maybe I'll stick to the hydraponic approach inside this time. 
I didn't have any Reasons 2B Cheerful on Thursday when Becky published the R2BC linky on Lakes Single Mum. I didn't have any big reasons not to be cheerful but there was nothing particular to write about. By Friday God had provided me with three R2BC - because the world is running so smoothly he obviously had time on his hands to sort out my petty niggles. 

Dinner With Friends
We used to do this every few weeks. Friday night dinner with another single mum at either their place or ours. A friend for me and a friend for DD. Nothing grand, just company and good simple food. But then corona happened and we stopped doing it. So last night we walked over to their place and caught up, ate far too much, and had fun. (I need to get my place in shape so that they can come to us in a couple of weeks.)

The Home Front
Talking of getting my place into shape, I saw the funniest meme on facebook. Of course the funniest ones are the most true. 

Is my house clean and tidy? - No
But are we having crazy fun times making memories? - Also no. 

A friend told me yesterday that when they got the notice that it would be back to school and work in two weeks in their State of the US, he panicked because they'd not done any the things he'd planned to do during lockdown. That too. 

School Changes
Talking of going back to school. DD had one week of the two day arrangement and her school decided that they're all going back on Sunday - full normal schedule, full classes. 

My school was a nightmare because when they were splitting the classes teachers got put in wherever they were needed. The English staff got shuffled around (at least we're still teaching English) and now we're with classes we've not taught all year. I don't know any of the kids' names, I'm taking over specific remedial programmes for the weaker students (who are also less motivated) and I have no idea how these programmes work, and all in masks with no breaks because every teacher is on playground duty and lunch duty three times a day because of staggered break times. And if you found that long sentence difficult to read and take in - that's how I feel all day in school. I honestly didn't know if I could do it for another three weeks. 

The primary school teachers union had agreed with the government to continue school until July 12th instead of the usual June 30th. Meanwhile the middle and high school unions were still saying they want to finish on June 20th as usual, instead of continuing until June 30th. Then yesterday afternoon the labour court sided with the teachers. Middle and high school students are suddenly and abruptly finished for the year (except those taking public exams over the next month) and us littlies have only a week and a half to go. 

Hooray! I would have been happy to teach for the extra couple of weeks but I can't do this babysitting lark whilst pretending to teach. And K - 4th grade are getting free summer school until August 6th.

The Summer Holiday
Talking of breaking up from school, obviously we're not going anywhere this summer but what plans I have for us whilst stuck at home for two months. LOL. See R2BC 2 above. #procrastinatingoptimistsyndrome  No seriously...

Sick Note
I got a sick note from my doctor for the two weeks that we were in enforced quarantine. So I'll get paid for the full month of June and not just for the two weeks I went back to school. Hooray again! 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Unschooling Happened

Real homeschooling would involve trips to Kew Gardens,
learning photography, about plants, and Chihuly. 
Unschooling is a thing. Really. And it's allowed in places where homeschooling is legal, which is in most of the world these days.

Unschooling is leaving your child to his or her own devices in an information  and experiential rich environment and trusting that they will educate themselves. Perhaps with some gentle guidance and a few rules like only educational screen time during the day, a certain amount of out of house time, obligatory chores that promote useful skills, etc...

The rich environment could include books; the internet; the library, museums; available adults who are willing to engage; group activities like scouts, a choir or orchestra, swim team; family experiences like travel, camping, religious rituals and celebrations, cooking, gardening; play with other children; a part time job; and anything else that provides stimulation and opportunities to learn anything at all.

The coronavirus lockdown is nothing like homeschooling. It's temporary, we're not set up for it, we can't use the library, museums, go on nature walks, etc... There's distance learning from the schools, and regular parents have their own work to do. It's a sad but true fact that only families in which one parent can do flexi-hours from home, can do homeschooling. Most families don't have this choice.

Most important of all, there are at least seven different methods you can adopt for homeschooling and/or combinations thereof. It can take a while to explore the options and see which method works best for your family. For example, recreate a classroom at home and follow the national curriculum with textbooks and a weekly schedule. Co-op learning with other families and each parent teaching their field of expertise or passion. The Charlotte Mason method of real literature and learning till noon followed by outdoor pursuits in the afternoon. Place Based Learning uses the local environment, community and culture. Remote online learning. Umbrella or theme based learning. You get the picture, it's not just staying at home and working through the textbooks.

Despite all this, a lot of unschooling by default has taken place over the last three months. In our home I had lots of online teaching going on. DD also had some remote lessons but also a lot of free time during which I wasn't available to occupy her. Add to this that she's an only child and I'm almost dying of guilt as I write this. I admit that there was far too much screen time and not enough no baking, balcony gardening, art, teaching her to sew and knit, playing the recorder or piano, learning a foreign language, board games, jigsaw puzzles, or reading aloud.

All of the above were mentioned by various mother friends on facebook as a job well done. I let it go and put my trust in the theory of unschooling. Largely my trust was misplaced but I was surprised by some definite indications of unschooling success.

1. DD suddenly got interested in world affairs. She became obsessed with the corona numbers and statistics. She listened to Trump's daily media briefings in order to analyse how vague and ignorant he sounded. She told me about the murder of George Floyd before any of the protests had spread around the world. She gave me an hour by hour update as events unfolded in the US. She knew all about racism and white privilege, and started expressing strong opinions about the racism in various tv series and movies she watches.

2. She asked me to help her get rid of her lisp and stop saying f for th. I showed her how to place her tongue and she's been constantly practicing. It's almost perfect now.

3. She has been reading more, out of sheer boredom. And also because I say no treats until she's read a chapter in English and three pages in Hebrew. Ok, so that's not exactly unschooling, but I've noticed that more reading is being done without the bribe incentive.

4. She has decluttered and organised her whole bedroom, deciding what she wants to keep and what needs to go. She's started making her bed and hoovering the carpet because she likes a clean and tidy environment.

5. One day she wanted to make sushi so we bought the equipment and made it. We tried a few times with grilled salmon and tinned tuna - because I didn't trust the raw fish that was available. We don't love it but we know how to make it.

6. I've noticed an inclination towards documentaries on You Tube and Netflix. So far DD has watched the whole series of History 101 and Explained. She also chooses to watch Sky News Live at least once a day. And of course she doesn't just watch these programmes, she asks questions and we discuss them.

So we didn't do half or even a quarter any of the things I'd planned for us to do during lockdown. But it seems that a bit of unschooling magic happened. Not much but enough to renew my interest in unschooling as an alternative method of education.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

R2BC - In Limbo

I  was playing with a photo editing app.
This one seems to reflect how I feel atm.
It's not good and it's not bad. Sort of in limbo.
I'm writing my Reasons 2B Cheerful this week with somewhat of a heavy heart due to the way the long overdue and necessary fight against racism is playing out in the UK. This is not the post to explain - perhaps tomorrow if I dare. Today is R2BC day so here are mine. 

The linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum and recommended for anyone else who needs cheering this up weekend. 

1 Life of Brian
I made DD watch Life of Brian with me. She didn't fancy it but within five minutes she was screaming with laughter.

2 Big School
We signed up with DD's new school for September. It's actually called Middle School here but is akin to the American Junior High. We gave all the necessary information, chose Spanish as a third language (Hebrew is first, English second), and wrote the name of a friend she'd like to be in the same class with.

Now I sit back and wait for the list of things to buy, the bill for school extras, and the days and dates of meetings for each of us. I'm assuming that school will be back to normal by September but who knows?

3 Semi-isolation
I went back to my school on Thursday. It's extremely difficult with all the changes and physical restrictions and I'm also nervous about the virus. However, I want my salary so I went back. It's only another four weeks.

DD's school has been thoroughly disinfected after the whole school ended up in quarantine. Different year groups are going back on different days and learning in capsules (bubbles in the UK). DD gets to go to school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The other three days they'll return to distance learning.

Semi- isolation is better than full isolation I suppose. I'm still nervous.

4 The Virus' Demise
I heard a doctor on British TV who has studied all the evidence of past pandemics. He firmly believes that Covid-19 will burn itself out and just disappear. He says keep working towards a vaccine as this virus may yet come back for a second wave, or the burnout may take longer than the race for an effective vaccine. However, there were no vaccines in the distant past and every pandemic in history has burnt out and disappeared as suddenly as it came. You could look at this as a R2BC or you could retort with, "at what cost?" - you choose for yourself. I was encouraged.