Monday, December 31, 2012

A Heavy New Year

Image credit:

This year my New Year's Eve is more introspective and heavier than usual. This out of necessity.

On this night last year I wrote the perfect end of year post. It was eloquent about my almost spiritual relationship with New Years Eve. It was full of plans and realistic resolutions for 2012. It was lighthearted and fun. It was uplifting and hopeful.

With hindsight I can see that I was far too comfortable with the way things were to be ready to make any changes.

I am the poster child for single motherhood (not my words) but this year the cracks began to show. DD is thriving but I've been coasting for too long. I've taken four years of motherhood to get used to it, get over the most exhausting period of babyhood and go through all my savings.

This year there have to be big changes. I am not without a plan but it's so big I can't even bring myself to share it before I've got some results. Instead I invite you to come with me over the year ahead and see it unfold for yourselves.

Happy New Year.

Watch this space.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Obviously this is the prompt for this week's 100 Word challenge:

Twas The Night Before Christmas...

There are plenty of people in Jerusalem celebrating Christmas, but for the majority it's just another working day. Most people aren't even aware of the date. I wish a very merry, happy, healthy Christmas to all those celebrating. A productive day at work tomorrow to everyone in Israel who isn't. And please pop over to Julia's Place to see the other entries. 

Twas the night before Christmas

Jesus was born just down the road. It's 10 minutes in the car. After kindergarten today we went to storytime in the library and changed books for the week. 

DD ate supper watching Shrek. I was thinking, shall I bring in the washing that isn't quite dry or risk leaving it out overnight?

Bathtime, stories in bed, lights out, and DD was asleep by 7.30. Great, no oversleeping in the morning and I'll get an early start. A couple of hours accomplished on the computer. It's getting cold now so I'm off to bed too. Busy day at work tomorrow. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

4yo On Her Phone Again

Lighting her own menorah
Saturday night was the grand finale to the eight days of Hanukkah. We lit all the eight (plus one server) candles on the menorah. We sang the songs for the last time this year. The Hanukkah Songs CD was swapped for my Kings College Choir Singing Christmas Carols first thing this morning.

There was a joke but I forget what it was
I'm not sure what to do with DD's menorah. I have  my own fancy menorah that I didn't even bother to get out this year as DD's arts and crafts menorah from kindergarten was so big. I kept her effort from last year as it was small and tucks nicely into the corner of the display cabinet. Also last
year was the first one she'd made. There will be arts and crafts menorot (pl) brought home for the next six years at least and I can't see us keeping all of them. I think this one may just disappear after a respectful interval of time.

DD was especially happy on the last night as I'd miscalculated the presents and there were actually three left instead of the usual one.

And then the most extraordinary and irritating thing happened. I sat down with her to play her new game and do her new puzzle (and eat her new Pezz sweets in a silly dispenser). She sat there throughout with one hand up to her ear, having a detailed telephone conversation with an imaginary friend. I was left silently passing her the puzzle pieces and pointing hints when she needed help. Largely, she just ignored me. So I got out the camera.

I don't know where she gets this from. I do have friends who meet you for coffee and then spend the whole of your precious time speaking to other people on their mobiles. I don't do this as I find it extremely rude behaviour from anyone who isn't a transplant surgeon or the Minister of Defense. In fact I hardly ever chat on the phone before DD is in bed asleep. Now I'm wondering if the staff at kindergarten are on the phone a lot.

If you're wondering what language she's speaking, it's some Hebrew with a lot of made-up Hebrew (i.e. Hebrew sounding made-up words).

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hanukkah Finale Aproaches

Tonight we lit the seventh candle with friends. Only one more to go - tomorrow night we light all eight candles (plus the server candle making nine candles in total). My friends S and R took these photos. I guess eight nights is enough as apparently it's already becoming old hat for DD. Or maybe she was just tired.

What again we have to do this?
I can't take much more of this.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seahorses At The winter Zoo

Today we went to the zoo. Even though I've had membership for 2 1/2 years this is the first time we've been in the winter. Essentially this means that the bears are asleep. I love the bears. They're so big and near and, well, wild animal-like. It was shame we didn't see them and a shame for them that they miss Hanukkah every year.

I've said it before about the zoo - you think you learned all the animals in kindergarten and then you get to the zoo and find you've never even heard of most of the animals. I always learn something new. In honour if the 8 nights of Hanukkah, here are 8 things I learned at the zoo today:

1. Bears really do hibernate for the winter (and miss the whole of Hanukkah).

2. Even when they work at the zoo, the bears get the winter off for hibernation.

3. There really are such things as seahorses and they really look like the Yardley soap-on-a-rope I got when I was about 12. Actually they're even more beautiful in shades of sparkly blue and delicate gold.

4. I've never eaten shrimp in my life. I saw live shrimp today for the first time (i.e. outside of an M&S food dept). The reason I've never eaten them may be because they're not kosher but, having seen live ones I can tell you, there's more than one reason for not eating a shrimp.

5. Tilapia, Nile Perch, and St Peter's Fish (from the Sea of Galilee) are one and the same. We know about tilapia from Eric Carle's Mr Seahorse. The female lays her eggs in the male's mouth for safekeeping until they hatch don't you know. #don'tevengothere

6. Crocodiles really do sleep with their eyes open. And wild crocodiles were hunted in Israel as recently as 1905.

7. Even though you've been to the zoo 100 times and have 1000 photos of it on your computer, you shouldn't leave your camera at home.

8. When you are 4 the most exciting things are the zoo train and the possibility of buying an ice-lolly. We didn't buy an ice-lolly but we did see an elephant doing a big wee-wee and kaki which was adequate compensation for not being allowed an ice-lolly.

As it's still Hanukkah and I don't have any new pictures of the zoo, here is an a capella mashup of modern and ancient Hanukkah songs:

Monday, December 10, 2012

So Who's 'Doing' Hanukkah?

Yes it's still Hanukkah and will be all week. So just in case you though it was only me and few other crazies, here is Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song in which he makes it very clear that there are more crazies celebrating Hanukkah than meets the naked eye.

P.S. I know I'm not writing much this week but we're on holiday and my 4yo only allows me restricted viewing times on the laptop.

Happy Hanukkah (again)!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Candles Of Praise

Tonight is the first night of Chanuka, Hanuka or Hanukkah if you're SEO conscious. One day there might be a consensus on the English spelling.

Eight nights of lighting the menorah (or hanukia), spinning the sevivion (spinning top) for a game of dreidl, and eating latkes (potato pancakes) and  sufganiot (doughnuts). Of course there are presents or Hanuka gelt (money) given and every night we light is an excuse for a party.

Happy Hanuka!

Haneirot Halalu Anu Madlikin

We light the candles of praise in honour of the deliverances, the miracles, and the wonders which You worked for our fathers through Your holy priests. For all eight days of Hanuka these lights are sacred and we must make no other use of them except to look at them and give thanks.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

4th Birthday Party!

The day started early for me as I had a full day of teaching before the party at 4.15. There was a cake to assemble (see the recipe here - no cooking involved!) and vegetables to cut before work and cards to open with DD. I was a bit nervous as this is our first birthday party at home. Until now (for the past two years) the nursery has made a party for each of the children and the parents come with the cake, etc... This year at kindergarten, DD will share her birthday celebration on Friday with another boy. I get to send a cake and candles but I'm not invited.

Anyway, back to yesterday. When I came into the salon first thing I wondered why it can't always look tidy like this in the morning (without the decorations and balloons of course.)

One reason it looked so tidy was that all the toy boxes had been moved out into the hallway.

I'm allergic to latex so we never have regular balloons here. These are foil balloons, they last forever and cost 1nis (18p) each in the shekel shop.

DD opened her cards and was thrilled with them. Thank you family for sending them from England.

I put together one very sophisticated looking cake for a 4yo. DD loved it (phew)!

We started the party with a pass the parcel in which each girl won a bangle to put in her jewellery box. Then we started the boxes by sticking in the mirrors and felt lining.

Then we had supper while the glue dried.

And then we got down to the business of decorating the jewellery boxes.

There were various styles created largely reflecting the age of the artist. We had a 3 1/2yo, two 4yos, and three nearly 6yos.

At the end we chose jewellery to fill our boxes and everyone went home with a full box of bling. In the interests of full disclosure, the boxes cost about 1 pound each and the jewellery was 18p per item. Each child got a necklace, a bracelet, a bangle, a ring and a set of hair clips. The mirror, the felt and the stickers came to about 50p per child so I spent about 2.50GBP on each guest.

DD loved her party. I loved that it was organised and not just a riot of wild running around. We used disposable plates, etc... for supper which I had left over from my birthday party in September. It wasn't Disney or Barbie themed but no one noticed. And the clearing up took about 10 minutes.

Hooray we did it! Happy birthday my darling 4 year old! xxx

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Plot Resolved

I've waited three months to write this post. I've had the title ready since writing the first post about the building of our new kindergarten. You can read the back-story via these links:

An Empty Plot
The Plot Unravels
The Plot Thickens
The Plot Is Abandoned

LSS, the caravans weren't caravans at all but pre-fab buildings that are plastered on the outside and set into the ground. Each one (there are two kindergartens on the plot) has it's own reinforced concrete room (a.k.a. bomb shelter) attached and a playground at the front with climbing equipment and a sandpit.

Inside, they are enormous, with cloakrooms, toilets, a kitchen, a stockroom, shelter cum office, and enough space for all those essential kindy-corners (playhouse, library/reading, art, etc...) as well as a huge activity area. We lucked out. It was certainly worth the wait.

In the end they started building right at the end of September and it took them exactly two months. Below is a photo-diary of the progress at each stage, taken from my balcony.

Meanwhile, today at 08.30 the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat (possibly the best looking mayor in the world - eat your heart out Boris!) is coming to an official opening. The children will be performing the songs and dances they did at the Genesis Party last week. We are all invited but after DD's non-cooperative attitude it's probably best if I don't go - I know she joins in better when I'm not there. So I'll try and catch Nir arriving from the balcony and keep away.

The original playground (don't worry they have two more playgrounds in the school).

The playground was dug up in August.

I got very excited when they started digging but then nothing happened for a month.

At the beginning of October they laid the foundations for the reinforced rooms.

The reinforced concrete rooms were built first.

Then the pre-fab unit arrived.

I thought it would be small but nice.

But they added another unit.

Ok, this is a good size I thought.

And then more units arrived. 

It was cool to see it put together. 

Wow, it's enormous!

The climbing toys arrive!

And here it is all plastered and finished. 

Nir Barakat, Mayor of Jerusalem, arrives for the opening. 

Nir Barakat
Right he's better looking than Boris Johnson?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wonderful Volunteers To Israel

Diann with a young assistant next to a drab wall.

I was taking DD into Tali Geulim school one day - about three weeks ago actually but this post got delayed because of the war - and I noticed a group of people with American accents, walking around with paint pots and building tools. Being a nosy blogger I had to stop and find out what was going on. 

Jack and his crew starting on the pergola

Led by Diann Mullins, who oversees all the travel arrangements and administration, and Jack Bowen, the project manager and ex-professional builder, were a group of volunteers from all over America. They are a part of Ministry To Israel, an Evangelical organisation (though they don't evangelize here) that runs support projects for new immigrants and lone soldiers, new mums and pensioners. Among other things they provide food vouchers and baby items for those in need. And twice a year (November and March) they send up to 15 volunteers to work on a project in Israel.

Things are looking up
Hard at work
The volunteer programme started in 2003. Diann and Jack have both been here many times. They come for about 12 days. Half of that time is spent working on a building or landscaping project and the other half is spent touring the country, sightseeing and visiting places of interest. So far they have decorated shelters in the north, worked in Bnei Brak among the ultra-Orthodox community there, and in schools and hospitals around the country.

And Fabber
In Tali Geulim they painted areas around a formally drab looking basketball court, painted the school guard's hut, and built a fabulous pergola where a whole class can sit outside in the shade in the summer. All with a lively sense of fun and humour. I was amazed that such an organisation exists and, having met them, I am glad they do. It was a joy and an honour to meet such selfless good-hearted people who give their holiday time (and money) to helping us here in Israel.
Thank you!!!

And that beautiful pergola...