Tuesday, December 10, 2019

DD 11 - R2BC

We kept a copy for ourselves without the sunglasses.
If you understand the title of this blog then you've been here before. Anyway DD turned 11 last week. Scarily grown up but also still a little girl in many ways. And nothing of the baby years left.

We're usually in London for Hanuka which is on or around the time of DD's birthday, so I (or Grandma) take her to a show or a pantomime, Grandma has a birthday cake and a birthday tea with the family, and there are lots of presents. The birthday is sort of swallowed up among all the seasonal festivities.

This year we went to London in September for my brother's wedding so we're not going for Hanuka. And anyway, Hanuka is late this year, falling over Christmas week. DD felt she needed to give me instructions about how to do her birthday. "I don't need a cake," she informed me, "but you need to get me a present."
"Fine, got it, thanks."

Of course I was going to get her a present anyway. She needed a new backpack just the right size for school outings. Her regular school bag is too big and the front bit that unzips to form a small backpack for outings, is too small. (What a waste of money that idea was.) Off I went into town like Goldilocks, looking for a backpack that was just right.

Not being much of a present, I set about buying other gifts to fill it with. I bought a new watch; an alarm clock (because I want the phones out of the bedrooms at night - I go a smaller alarm clock for myself as well); a small over the shoulder bag for when she goes out and just needs her keys, phone, and some money; two books in Hebrew because she needs to start reading more in Hebrew; a back scrubber for the shower; a big bottle of moisturiser for her bedroom and a smaller tube of moisturiser for her bag; a hair accessory; and some orange Tic-tacs to take the number of gifts to 11.

Reader, she was pleased. But not so pleased to move the gifts into her bedroom and they are all still sitting on the coffee table in the living room. *sighs*

I wanted her to celebrate but she wouldn't commit to what the celebration would be. I suggested either we do like last year - lunch and a [Netflix] movie at our place after school on early Friday, or I take a few friends out for lunch and fancy doughnuts - like we did the year before, and the year before that. In the end it was DD who thought of bowling.

So after school on Friday we took four friends for bowling and pizza (and chips actually, because they were there and why not?). It was exceptionally successful. The score pads of old are long gone so all you you have to do is toss the bowling ball and the machines to the rest. I just watched as they got on with it and had lots of fun. I was also useful for ordering the pizza and chips of course, and paying for it all, obviously.

One of the girls had to leave early so I took over from her in the second game. I didn't embarrass myself. However, whereas we all clocked up scores in the 80s, there was a group of little boys playing next to us who, seemingly without any style or strategy, all managed to get scores over 100. We left the bowling centre happy but humbled.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits #51 - You Can Go Now

At Fiddler on the Roof in London.
We've not yet perfected the art of selfies.
This is possibly the last Tuesday Tidbits ever as it's the day before DD's 11th birthday. I can't imagine that she's got many more amusing tidbits in her and even if she has, after a certain age it's bordering on ridicule rather than amusing for me to report them online. So here are the final Tuesday Tidbits from DD.

The Silent Treatment
I went in one morning to wake DD up.
Me: DDush, it's 6.30. Time to get up.
DD: (nothing)
Me: DD, wakey wakey!
DD: (nothing)
Me: DD, come on now!
DD: (suddenly an arm shoots out from beneath the duvet with a thumbs up sign).

Diet Superviser
DD opened a bag of crisps and was taking it back to her bedroom.
Me: Oooh can you put some crisps in a bowl for me?
DD: Are you hungry or just snackish?
Me: Snackish
DD: Well go and get yourself an apple.

Delicious Russians
We went to see Fiddler on the Roof in London. I explained the story to her and told her how it is, in many ways, the story of our own family. I explained about the Cossacks, the pogroms and the mass emigration of Jews from Russia to Western Europe, England, America and Israel. When the Russian men started dancing in the pub...
DD: Are those the croissants?

I went into DD's bedroom late at night to put away some folded laundry. As I left the room she stirred.
DD: Mummy?
Me: Yes, I was just putting some clean clothes away.
DD: Mummy can you stay a little bit?
Me: OK.
DD: I love you Mummy.
Me: I love you too Darling.
DD: You can go now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Because We Need R2BC Today

I'm totally out of sync with the newly revived Reasons 2B Cheerful linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum, but today we need some R2BC.

Over 150 Rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza strip since last night. Today all schools and non-urgent work was cancelled from Tel Aviv in the centre of the country down the coast to Beer Sheba in the south. (Incidently, each rocket costs between $10K and $100K apparently. Just saying.)

So here are my R2BC...

The Iron Dome
We have the iron dome which intercepts most of the rocket and explodes them in the sky before they hit land. There have been a few injuries today when people running to the bomb shelters have fallen, but thankfully no serious injuries. One very scary video clip showed a rocket that the iron dome missed, exploding on the motorway just behind two travelling cars. Jerusalem has been quiet so far and we are praying for a better night for those in the security areas.

I Subscribed
The Times of Israel is the online newspaper that I read regularly and rely on for good quality analyses of news about Israel and the Middle East. The other day they sent an email announcing a new Times of Israel Community. Basically it was a request to pay a nominal and discretionary amount for the subscription. It's voluntary. The content will not be behind a pay-wall and I could have continued receiving all the articles and features in my inbox without paying a shekel. However, I also read The Guardian and The Telegraph (both UK papers) online and don't pay a penny for them. I feel that there comes a time when you have to contribute for some of the services you enjoy or they will cease. So I was happy to sign up for a mere $6 a month.

Team leader
DD is taking her job as one of the team leaders for the school crossing guard very seriously. She has a team who all have back-up substitutes in case they can't make it (half an hour before school starts and for half an hour at the end of school). On her days she's on the phone the night before whatsapping her team to remind them to be on time and check that they are coming. A couple of time another team leader couldn't come so she rushed out at 7.30 am to take her place.

We live right by one of the crossings and if I know the child on duty I take a photo and send it to his or her mother. I'm the secret Mother's Pride Patrol. LOL.

Monday, November 4, 2019

FlyLady In A Nutshell

From the archives.
Thankfully we're past the stage of toys all over the floor 
I revisited the FlyLady because I needed a system. The FlyLady has a number of systems for organizing your home and not getting overwhelmed with housework and errands. Here are the systems in a nutshell...

1. Morning routine.
You must get up and dress till shoes, i.e. be ready to leave the house. That way you''ll be more efficient about anything else you want to accomplish before leaving the house.
She suggests that while you're in the bathroom in the morning, you give the mirrors, the sink/taps, surfaces, and the toilet a swish and a swipe. i.e. the bathroom is left clean every morning.
She suggests you get up early enough to put on a load of laundry in the morning and hang it out (or put it in the dryer) before you leave for work.
Any other morning jobs, or none, are up to you.
You can add in meditating, exercise, etc... as you wish.

2. Evening Routine.
Basically, you tidy your house by putting everything in its place, do the dishes, wipe over the kitchen and shine your kitchen sink. And you prepare anything you need for the morning.
Again, you can add your own preferences or necessities, for example, reading in bed or walking the dog.

3. Each day has an assignment.
You choose your own but for example...
Sunday: House Blessing - cleaning the house, but only surface cleaning. No moving furniture or washing windows, etc... It should take only a couple of hours to dust, wipe surfaces, and vacuum, sweep, and mop the floors around the furniture. (If it takes much longer you probably live in a big house and employ a cleaner.)
Monday: Running Errands
Tuesday: Pay Bills and File Papers.
Wednesday: Procrastination Station - where you do one job that you've been putting off.
Thursday: Food Shopping.
Friday: Cooking
Saturday: Family Day.

4. Zone Cleaning.
You divide the areas of your house into 4 or 5 zones. e.g. Zone 1 - the bedrooms, Zone 2 - the kitchen, Zone 3 - the living and dining rooms, Zone 4 - the bathrooms and halls, Zone 5 - everywhere else.
Each week of the month is a zone. So during the first week of the month you're in Zone 1 - the bedrooms.
Every day you put on a timer and do 15 minutes of cleaning one area in that zone. When the timer rings you stop. Anything you don't get to that week can wait until next month.
Remember that your weekly House Blessing is basic cleaning, the bathrooms get a swish and a swipe every day, laundry is a daily task, and the kitchen gets cleared and wiped down every evening. Zone cleaning is for e.g. washing the windows, clearing out a kitchen cabinet, doing out the fridge, cleaning behind furniture, etc...

There are women who take these systems very seriously. I've seen You Tube videos of page by page explanations of thick ring-binder files full of every task possible in a house and when it's scheduled for doing. This is what put me off the first time I read about the FlyLady. Who lives according to such important schedules for cleaning your house? (Answer: mostly SAHMs with low self esteem and no outside interests, who feel they need to make their lives into a serious business. Note, SAHMs with self esteem and outside interests don't generally go to so much minute detailing.)

Me, I like the idea of a couple of hours cleaning on a Sunday and 15 minutes a day doing out a cupboard or cleaning the fridge. Washing a window maybe. It might take six months to clean your house but it's better than letting it go for six months.

As with life itself, I'm not going to be religious about it. However, I'm going to give some of it a try and see what happens. I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Work Reasons 2B Cheerful

I've been watching the [refelcted] sunrise.
Reasons 2B Cheerful is back with a proper linky and everything. The linky is at Becky's Lakes Single Mum. Us cheerful bloggers got a bit behind over the summer and then with all the back to school stuff going on the linky lapsed for a while. But a lapsed linky isn't a dead linky and I'm happy to have it back as it encourages us to post something upbeat at least once a week.

My R2BC for this week are about work.

1. Straight Exchange
A colleague from college phoned and asked me to stand in for her one week just as I was worrying about having messed up by scheduling an exam for one set of students while I was supposed to be teaching another class. We did a straight swap. She proctored my exam and I'll take her lesson later in the month.

2. Paid
I got paid for the summer online course I facilitated. It all goes to pay for DD's annual school payment (it's a state school but the parents have to pay a sum towards extra costs), her birthday party in a few weeks, and my yearly building dues. But it means I don't have to worry about these Autumn expenses.

3. Perfect Hours
I wanted to teach fewer hours in school this year and so have an extra day to run my home - i.e. clean, shop, make appointments, and run other errands during office hours. I had 22 hours, they cut it to 12 hours and I requested 15. I got 15 teaching hours spread over three days. Perfect.

4. Free Sundays
 My free day is Sunday. Oh how I love having my Sundays back. One of the hardest things to get used to in Israel is no Sundays. We still have a two-day weekend over Friday and Saturday (just the grown-ups, most children have school six days a week 😢), but Saturday is Shabbat and it's not the same.

Shabbat is a very busy and often over scheduled day with synagogue services (if you go) and big meals with guests, friends or family. Often people stay overnight with friends if they don't travel on Shabbat. It's soul destroying to have to cut the day off when the sun sets and suddenly get all busy clearing up and preparing for work the next day. So this year I shall enjoy my Sundays.

5. Early To Bed
DD and I have been going to bed very early. 9 pm for her and around 10 pm for me. It makes getting up in the morning very much easier. We are so not morning people, but we've both enjoyed waking up refreshed at 6 or 6.30 at the latest for DD and I've even been waking up at a time with a 5 at the beginning. It's hard for us to make ourselves go to bed at a reasonable time because we're not naturally tired in the evening. But it's so worth it for everything that gets done before work.

OK, that's it. 8.45 and I'm off to bed.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Morning Meditation Without Orgasm

The view from the balcony
It's 9 am on Shabbat Morning. I got up at 8.30. I'm rested. All is quiet. DD's still asleep. We're not going anywhere today. It's Shabbat so there are no buses and everything is closed in Jerusalem. (We can take taxis, Yes Planet Cinema is open as well as a few restaurants, but I'm trying to create an atmosphere here.)

I made coffee and went to sit outside on the balcony. I read recently that people who meditate can rejuvenate parts of their brain to the brain function of a 25 year old. I can't remember where I read it now.

I assume it meant the brain function of yourself at 25 and not any random 25 year old, or the average intelligence of all the 25 years olds on the planet. That wouldn't be fair because I had to go through years of homework and writing essays to get my particular 25 year old brain.

Anyway, as I said, I tried to meditate but after ten seconds my eyes kept popping open. They say you have to practice and build up to about 40 minutes a day. 40 minutes a day! I wonder if you can play Home Design on your phone whilst meditating. If you think about it, the two activities are compatible. Meditating requires clearing your mind and playing Home Design is pretty mindless.

I had an experience with meditating when I was very young and years later I read something that shattered all my illusions about it. I was at Limmud (a Jewish learning and social experience for adults held in the English countryside, over the Christmas and New Year holidays.) One morning I attended a session of guided meditation.

We were guided by a young American rabbi who suggested we meditate on the first line of the Shema. This is the prayer that we're supposed to say every morning and evening and if we think we're about to die. It starts (although I was saying thinking it in Hebrew): Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Every time I got to the the word 'Elohaynu' (our God) I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. It was like being hugged. I kept saying that word over an over and letting the feeling wash over me. In the room I heard the rabbi telling us to gently finish and open our eyes. I didn't want to stop. But obviously I did, after a couple more 'Elohaynus'.

I opened my eyes and the rabbi was smiling at me. "You had an experience, " he said. I nodded. I was beaming and every time I thought about it during the day as I went to lectures and meals, I had to wipe the smile off my face or look like an idiot. I also wondered if I'd had an actual encounter with God or if you could get the same feeling meditating with "OM".

That had been the last day of guided meditation. I tried doing it myself but I didn't get the same effect. For years, I'd try meditating every so often but I never ever even got close to the experience I'd had that first time. I remember the name of that rabbi and I occasionally thought of contacting him for advice. But I didn't and eventually I gave up meditation.

Fast forward about 30 years and I saw an article about the connection between meditation and orgasms. Turns out, many women experience a kind of orgasm the first time, and only the first time, they meditate. Well that explains everything. So moving OM, I'm not expecting the orgasm. I'm just going for my 25 year old brain. I'll try again next week.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Autumn D-Day

First soup of the season. 
I hesitated to call today Duvet Day as that label has been used before to mean a day that you stay at home under the duvet. Today was not such a day. Today was D-Day in the sense that we finally put the duvets back in the covers after the long hot summer.

It coulda, shoulda, woulda been done a few weeks ago but we came back from London when it was still quite hot, then we were up and down the country visiting family over the festivals, and then I went back to work and was exhausted for the first week while I got used to early mornings and full days again. And, if I'm honest, changing the duvet covers is the job I hate doing the most. Even more than cleaning the toilets.

So we put blankets over the empty duvet covers, then we shut the windows, then we switch to winter pyjamas. Finally, when the clocks have gone back and I find myself searching for my fleece in the middle of the night, I know I can't put it off any longer. And DD told me she was cold last night so not getting out the duvets might be classed as child abuse.

The beds look nice and puffy again with added blankets on the end, just for show until the real winter starts.

Along with putting the duvets in the covers, I put the table-top fan from the living room away in a top cupboard (recently vacated by two duvets) and put an extra lamp in its place. Then I put my fitflops (which I've not worn for about a week) into the cupboard.

It's too early to get out the heaters. All the windows are wide open still and we're not even wearing coats outside. The days are pleasantly sunny. The mornings and evenings are cool and the nights are cold. (N.B. This is only in the mountain regions. Tel Aviv, the coast and the Negev are still hot. - which is why I live in Jerusalem.)

I'm not quite ready for it to be winter but I am looking forward to climbing under the duvet for the first time tonight.