Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mummy I Want To Pray A Little Bit.

Sounds like I have a little Holy Child in my midst. Holy Cow sometimes but, like her mum, not overly spiritual. No, we have been having a tough time with our pl letter combination. "Prease Mummy," and "Crose the lid so it doesn't spill," are two more examples.

Today I spent a long time drilling, plllllllay, pllllllllease, and cllllllose. This resulted in the following exchange at bedtime:

"Pallease Mummy, don't callose my door, I want to pallay a little bit."

"Ok, if you play a little bit do you think you might fall asleep afterwards?"


(I'm linking this post to "The things they say and do" at Thinly Spread.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How Do You Cope?

No one's life is simple. Some people have easier lives than others and some people seem to have more than their fair share of hardships to cope with. A friend once said: At the end of the day, you want to go home with your own problems. There's some truth in that. I am always amazed by how some people cope with things I think I would not be able to handle. The reality is probably that you just get on with whatever life throws at you. All this rambling is my way of introducing the A Mile In My Shoes Carnival, created and hosted by Rebecca at Here Come The Girls. Click on the link to find out more - there's still time to join the carnival. This is what Rebecca says:

"I often wonder how people cope with the difficulties they are presented with. Or rather how I would cope in those situations. When I think about the single mums and dads, the people who have lost a parent, the children with an unexpected medical diagnosis or emotional and behavioural problems, I often think I wouldn’t be able to do it, without really thinking about what it is. It’s very hard to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and think what it must really be like. Yet that is what blogging does so brilliantly. You get to look into other people homes and into their hearts. It’s the perfect opportunity to share some stories, hopefully in a positive way. People are amazing. It’s incredible what we can cope with and I want to be able to celebrate that."

Here are my answers to Rebecca's questions.

1. What is it about your life which has made someone ask how do you cope?

I am a single mother living a continent away from all our family.

2. What is the best thing about the situation?

I have a child and I am a mother, as opposed to not having a child and not being a mother. To understand what this means to me, read this.

3. What is the hardest thing?

Having to be all things and do everything with no back up. I have to earn enough money to cover all our expenses, which isn't really possible when my working day finishes at 3.30 because I have to pick up DD from nursery. I can't go out without hiring a babysitter which is too expensive to do more than once every few months. On days when there is no nursery I am the sole entertainer for 12 hours straight, and in no fit state to do any of my own stuff when DD eventually goes to bed. I have to clean, cook, entertain a 3yo, and bring home the bacon with no back up and not even the promise of some adult company at the end of the day. Well you did ask.

4. What gets you through the day?

Nursery including the afternoon programme is until 4pm. After nursery we have regular activities to shorten the afternoon/evening. Monday is storytime at the library, Wednesday we go out for tea to my friend's parents who live nearby, Thursday is shopping day, Sundays and Tuesdays we play in the park. Then when we get home it's bath, supper, stories and bed at about 7.30pm. I guess the answer to this question is a regular routine, the promise of 7.30pm, and of course my evening company: blogging, fb and twitter (where would I be without you all?) Having said that - I also have to put in a couple of hours' work at night to make up the hours. 

5. What would you change if you could?

It would be nice to have another income coming in, and another pair of hands around the place. If he were handy with a drill and spanner that would also save a lot of money and stress. If he owned a car it would be fantastic in terms of broadening our horizons and saving money on taxis. Love? Yes I suppose I'd have to be in love with him.

I've kept this answer to things I could change rather than things that I cannot. If you want to know how I feel about having only one child, you should read this.

6. What piece of advice would you give to someone finding themselves in your situation?

The women who come to me for advice are usually single women who are struggling with the decision whether to go it alone or not. I wrote about the best advice I ever got on this subject and I don't hesitate to pass it on. Basically it's about not scaring yourself out of it.

Once you are in my situation - although no one's situation is identical, I'd say that everything passes, every subsequent age gets easier, you find your way and everything can change from one day to the next.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our Own Royal Protocol

The Queen has established the new Order of Precedence to take into account the new Duchess in the family. You can read about it here in The Telegraph. Apparently, within the family, there are those who are disgruntled when the rules are adjusted and those who are, on occasion, inconvenienced.

I only read about this because a friend posted it on facebook today. He was quite upset about it. There was a rather angry rant about stupid and arcaic rules, there wouldn't be a Royal Family without support of the proletariat, blah blah blah, rant rant... And then others chipped in with how silly it all is, etc... etc...

In reply to both of the above, I would like to tell you about the strict pecking order and some of the family rules and rituals that apply in our house. After all, if it's all right for the Royals to publish theirs it's all right for me to publish mine.

 1. DD has to *brush* her teeth first, before I give them a once over. There is no compromise on this and all hell to pay if it is not adhered to.

2. Before leaving her at Nursery I have to pick DD up and give her a kiss and a cuddle. Then she has to give me me a kiss and a cuddle. Following this, with her still in my arms, I have to say, "I love you, I love you, I love you." Then she has to say it. Then she goes down and has to run to the balcony so that we can say 'goodbye' when I get outside. It sounds complicated but these rituals do eventually become second nature.

3. I am never allowed to sit on DD's chair at the table. Never. End of.

4. The flannel that DD uses to cover her eyes when I rinse the shampoo off her hair, has to be folded in a particular way. This conforms to the ancient practice, first observed when she was quite small. No deviations are tollerated.

5. A kiss and a cuddle in bed in the morning are mandetory. If I'm up first I am sometimes commanded to lie down again for the purpose of the above.

6. DD must throw her bath toys into the bath by herself. Mummies must not interfere.

7. Cutlery must be chosen from the drawer by the user.

8. Bottles with drinking nozzles in the cap that can be clicked open and shut, take precedence over simple flat caps. DD gets first choice, always.

So there you have it. We are equally as tied up in our own rituals as the Royals. Funnily enough, no one seems to be as emotionally charged by ours as they are by the Queen's. What silly rules and rituals does your family follow? Apparently it's the season to reveal all.

*All pictures are from Google images.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

#ArtIHeart 14 - Here's One I Made Myself

Art I Heart
Share the art you love from your walls, a birthday card, what your child drew at school, that you saw in The National Gallery in London...
1. Choose one piece of art that has a short personal story behind it. It could be something on your wall, something you've seen in a gallery and love, homedrawn, on a postcard, on a birthday card, something by Degas or something by your DS.

2. Take a photograph, scan or download a picture of your picture and post it along with the short story about why you are drawn to it, have it on your wall, bought it, or hate it. Don't forget to link back to the linky so your readers can see the other entries.

3. Link up (it's open till next Thursday, 4pm GMT), leave a comment, et voila!

Here's mine:

This is sort of a continuation of Art I Heart 13 in which I wrote about the Carlos Spaventa postcards from 30 years ago. He didn't reply to my email so he's not getting another link to his website (even though I still love his photos).

I wrote that I went through a phase of collecting art postcards. As with most collections, you get to a stage when you have an impressively sizeable collection and you think, now what? What was I to do with all those postcards?

About 24 years ago I worked at an American summer camp and when it was over I went travelling with some of the other staff. In Los Angeles I visited someone's house and she showed me some really interesting artwork done by her grandmother. There were about ten collages made by cutting details from magazines and sticking them together to make whole scenes. There were villages and cities, farms, railway stations, and beaches. And they were good. Very professionally done. A bit like Linda Nelson Stocks (who I discovered later while travelling in New England) except that my friend's gandmother hadn't done any of the drawing or painting herself.

I loved those collages and remembered them much later when I was deciding what to do with my collection of art postcards. What you see above is my effort. The parts are mostly from French paintings but I can't remember exactly what came from what. Maybe you'll recognise some of the details. And here it is on my kitchen wall, next to last week's Art I Heart.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The 10 Commandments Of Facebook

After publishing The Blogging Charter and receiving mixed feedback, I now present The 10 Commandments of Facebook. Whilst The Blogging Charter was tongue in cheek, this one isn't. I actually believe it's long overdue and every commandment is a direct result of things I've seen and read on facebook.

1. I am the the Lord your Facebook who brought you out of the land of isolation.

2. Observe the fb etiquette, keep it light and entertaining or informative and helpful.

3. Thou shalt not take offense easily and always give someone the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone expresses themselves perfectly in writing.

4. If you think someone is being unfair, racist, a biggot; ask them what they meant before jumping down their throats (so to speak).

5. Thou shalt give them time to reply - not everyone checks fb every day.

6. A story about someone else, retold by the injured party, is out of context and necessarily subjective. Show your support by all means but don't turn it into a witch hunt of someone who may not even know they made a faux pas, may be devastated if they did know and, had they been told at the time, might have apologised there and then.

7. Thou shalt be generous with your 'like' s as you would have others be generous to you. It only takes a moment and makes people feel they're not talking to themselves.

8. If you really feel an angry retort is called for (and it sometimes is), try and keep it to the point without getting personal and nasty. There's a fine line between e.g. 'I found your comment very narrow minded' and, 'You are a narrow-minded, racist, biggot and you probably smell too!' Or, 'I don't think that's funny, actually' and, 'I don't think that's funny, arse-hole!'

9. Be kind to people who constantly need to show and tell the world how wonderful their lives are, how fantastic their children are, how amazing their homes are, how much their family and friends love them, how well they are dong in their studies or careers and how they are always jetting off to the next foreign location. They have their reasons.

10. I leave this one open for you to add your own 10th commandment. All suggestions gratefully received in the comments below.

Friday, June 15, 2012

#ArtIHeart 13 - Bicycles, Windows and Menus In Chalk

Art I Heart
Share the art you love from your walls, a birthday card, what your child drew at school, that you saw in The National Gallery in London...

1. Choose one piece of art that has a short personal story behind it. It could be something on your wall, something you've seen in a gallery and love, homedrawn, on a postcard, on a birthday card, something by Degas or something by your DS.

2. Take a photograph, scan or download a picture of your picture and post it along with the short story about why you are drawn to it, have it on your wall, bought it, or hate it. Don't forget to link back to the linky so your readers can see the other entries.

3. Link up (it's open till next Thursday, 4pm GMT), leave a comment, et voila!

Here's mine:

The photographs (on postcards) are by Carlos Spaventa and the frames are from Habitat (circa 1985). I had recently fallen in love with art. Mainly French impressionist paintings but also more modern paintings. I was working in my first job after college and I was practically paying them to employ me. There was no way I could afford to actually own any real art and I didn't want posters. Posters were so 'student' and I was planning on becoming a snob one day - as soon as I could afford it.

Meanwhile I discovered Art Postcards. There was a whole section of them in John Lewis, Brent Cross and I started to buy. I'm not sure what I was planning to do with them all but I had quite a collection after a while. And one day I discovered Carlos Spaventa and I fell in love with his photography of Paris. Pretentious? Moi?

Looking at Carlos Spaventa's website today (which, incidently, shows much better pictures than my attempts at photography) I remembered another four of five postcards that I also wanted to display. But I only had the two frames and more than that would have been overkill. I distinctly remember agonising over which postcards to discard and which to include.

Almost 30 years and several homes later, I have the two pieces on my kitchen wall. And I still love them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breast Cancer And the Colour Of Your Underwear

A couple of years ago, around this time of year, women friends started posting on facebook, apropos nothing - what was it? A colour? A dessert? I can't remember. I think it was the colour of their underwear. Last year it was sentences along the lines of: I'm going to Thailand for 7 months; or I'm moving to NY for a year! It was a code for their birthday date.

As a woman, all I had to do was ask and I was let in on the big secret joke of a game. This year I was put on people's mailing lists via fb messages. There's a code and we have to write our information/preference according to the coded key. The result is an X number of women posting the name of a football team or an item of clothing (for example and without giving the exact instructions away so as not to spoil the game).

Why? Well exactly. Apparently it is to raise awareness of breast cancer. Obviously that is a good thing and we have wonderful innovations like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. During this month campaigners and educators take the opportunity to raise money and educate the general public about this devastating disease which can affect anyone (I've even heard of a few men getting it) and seems to be on the increase (although, thankfully treatments have become more effective over the years and survival rates are much better than they once were).

Other worthy events and publicity include fundraisers and sponsoring for either research, treatment, care or support. There are articles in print and online, and interviews on TV and radio to: inform people of the dangers, the symptoms, the tests available, the treatments available, the care available, give hope, give support. All of this I understand and I applaud.

What I don't get is how this game, which is essentially a joke on the men, raises cancer awareness. The letter I got said that the game reached TV last year and they hope to do the same this year. And of course, I'm writing about it now - so that's more exposure. But what does this achieve? Is there anyone not aware of the existance of Breast Cancer?

And I don't like this exclusion of men. It's true that men don't usually get breast cancer but try telling any man whose wife has suffered it that he doesn't understand. Us women don't get prostate cancer, men don't get cancer of the uterus or cervix. Nobody don't get a 'get-out-of-cancer-free card'. Oncologists are both male and female.

I know it's a 'game' and maybe I should lighten up. The trouble is, I just don't get it. More than that, I can't see the joke. And surely the surprise element has worn thin after three years of the similar? If you want to play a game let's play a game - I'm the first person to join in with a bit of fun. Cancer, in any form, isn't a game. It isn't jolly good fun for us women to share and have a laugh about. It's cancer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nursery Teacher's Revenge

I have said a million times that I love our nursery teacher (and all the staff) and that I think we really lucked out with our first two years of education. However, I have noticed a phenomenon which I can only define a Nursery Teacher's Revenge. Here are some of the ploys that you could never point your finger at as being deliberate but that leave you fuming nonetheless. It's a sort of nursery teacher's oneupmanship I think.

1. Just as you are about to leave the teacher notices some orange juice left in the bottle. She pours some into a plastic cup and gives it to your child (lovingly), knowing full well that the child is now going to insist on walking down the stairs holding said cup of sticky orange stuff.

2. Paintings or models made out of sticking sand or dry mud onto paper, card or plastic containers.

3. Similar to 1., but there is one slice of gooey iced chocolate cake left over from the party...

Here's one we did at home
4. Talking of chocolate in any shape or form. It always  miraculously appears when your child is wearing new clothes.

5. They have a birthday party at the nursery on each child's birthday and the child gets a present from all the children. It is usually finger paints.

6. Your child has the honour of being the Sabbath Mummy or Sabbath Daddy on Friday. It is already Thursday afternoon but they forgot to tell you earlier and you've already been to the shops. Back you go for juice and crisps for 20 children and two challah loaves for 'breaking the bread'.

7. You get Friday morning nursery which you pay for and need because that's when you cook and clean for the weekend. So one week in January it was closed because of the Jerusalem Marathon and the roads were closed and the week before it was snowing so no nursery. The week before that was DD's birthday and Mummy was invited to her party. Previous to that there was the nursery Chanuka Party to which all the parents were invited. That was already four Fridays in a row. Then there was the Friday we had to come with to the 'happening' at the community centre. The Purim party, the local elections, the end of year picnic....

8. On a Friday when there is no birthday party (i.e no chocolate cake) they take the children down for a quick play in the sand-pit just before hometime. Well it wouldn't do to send them home clean-ish for once would it?

9. Arts and crafts every single day, each resulting in a work of art that has to be brought home and displayed, for eternity.

10. Cooking, with photos of 20 snotty hands kneading the dough or 20 snotty noses sneezing into the batter. You must try some Mummy, now, go on... I've never refused because I have visions of them locking me in until I've done as I'm told.

11. They give you the library book that's been repaired with the cover upside down. So you're trying to read it to your DD and she's ripping it out of your hands and trying to turn it over - "NO! Mummy it's upside down!"

12. In the deep mid-winter, they take the children out to see the rain, hunt for snails and splash in the muddy puddles. Splashing in the puddles is compulsary.

Please feel free to add to the list.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Milk And Butter

I've written before how impressed I am with DD's nursery and the fantastic ideas the fantastic staff (Raheli, Linda, Tina, Ruti and Na'ama) come up with. A couple of weeks ago they learned about where milk comes from. They actually got to milk a cow without leaving the nursery.

I can't show the whole cow as the pictures the nursery teacher sent us (both photos are from the nursery) each show a different child milking her (with rubber glove udders) and I don't want to post other children online. Suffice to say, it's a big smiling cow that looks like she's standing on the table.

The next day they put some milk and a little salt in a bottle and shook things up to make butter, which they ate spread on bread for their snack.

We're going to miss this nursery next year :(.