Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear VTech, She Didn't Mean To.

An open Letter to VTech Toys UK:

Dear VTech UK,

We have a situation and she really didn't mean to.

Having watched me spend hours on my laptop my 3yo daughter coveted one of her own from a very young age. And then she found out, through visiting friends' houses, that they make laptops for children. Even for little children like her. "When can I have a compooter?" became a daily question.

Living in Israel it's not so simple a task as just going to the local toyshop and buying one. Of course they have the pre-schoolers' laptops here, this is Israel remember, one of the hi-tech capitals of the world. Our problem was that here all the laptops are programmed in Hebrew and we work in English at home.

No worries however, we just put in a request to Grandma in London. That was last May (2011). Grandma went on a fact-finding tour of all the toy departments in Brent Cross, the Early Learning Centre, Toys R Us and online. Eventually she chose the Pink (of course) VTech Laptop suitable for ages 3-6. Even though DD was only 2 1/2 at the time we were going to grow into it and grow with it.

I knew of someone coming out who was willing to bring it for us but Grandma, understandably, wanted to give it to DD herself. She was coming out for a visit in August. AUGUST!? That was three months away! Every day DD asked me when her compooter was coming. "Grandma is coming," I told her, "soon."

Finally Grandma and the laptop arrived. There was much excitement and DD has spent many hours over the past year listening to the tunes and pressing the buttons. It is only now, however, just over a year later, that she was really beginning to play some of the letter and number games. You were right it is for 3-6yos.

Two days ago DD was cutting out pictures from a toy catalogue that had come through the door. I was amazed at her dexterity and quite intricate pictures were tackled with great success. I only turned round for a minute (as the old song goes) and suddenly a cry of anguish pierced the air. Followed by floods of tears whilst sobbing, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I'm sorry! I was an accident! I didn't mean to..." etc. DD was beside herself. I thought she'd cut her finger off to be honest.

What she had done was just placed the scissors on the cable connecting the mouse to the laptop to see what it felt like. And then she squeezed ever so slightly. Pictures below.

Dearest people at VTech UK, even she knew that this couldn't be fixed with selotake (sic). She really really didn't mean to. We are bereaved and bereft. If you could help us out with a new laptop for a soon to be 4yo I would take lots of photos of it and write lovely things about it (and you) here. You could even just send it to Grandma in London who would arrange for it to get to us. We would love you forever as well. If you would like to contact me I'm on twitter @midlifesinglem.

Thank you for reading,
Very Sad in Jerusalem and her very sad DD.

PS. We're not fussy. It wouldn't have to be a new InnoTab2 or anything fancy, just an old (obsolete even) laptop that we could play letter and number games on. Tnx


Within a day VTech Toys UK contacted me and they've been absolutely lovely and very helpful. Thank you VTech. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

#TheGallery - 8pm

I missed last week's Gallery which was called 'breakfast' although I have posted a picture of my breakfast in recent weeks. And last year there was a Gallery theme called 'morning' and I did that one too. This week the Gallery theme is '8pm'. I had to wait until 8pm tonight to take this one as it was Yom Kippur today so no photography since sundown last night. There was also no nursery and nothing open to go and visit (unless you're a 3yo who loves to visit synagogues) so we spent most of the day at home. I would have spent more time outdoors with DD on her scooter enjoying, along with loads of other kids, the fact there are no cars on the roads today. However, it was more than 31 degrees and I was fasting (as one does). Whatever... 8pm came and DD went out like a light. :o) What a great way to start the year!

PS. I promise to tidy up first thing in the morning. (Not such a great way to start the year...)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In The Year 2062

The 100 Word Challenge this week is a photograph. Sometimes I see the prompt and an idea instantly jumps out at me. This is a subject I worry about even though the situation probably won't become drastic in my lifetime. Pop over to Julia's Place to read the other entries. 

The girls crawled out of their three-tiered bunks, dressed, and folded away their sheets ready for the day sleepers.

Susie washed at the kitchen sink and grabbed a sandwich. There was nowhere to sit but on a bed even if she'd had the time. 

In the streets two masses of humanity slowly moved to and from the station. The train, no seats, was jam packed. 

The nine desks in the small office, four workers apiece, made it impossible to move without disturbing everyone. 

"I had that dream again," Susie whispered to Jo.

"How strange, I wonder what it means?"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Iph One Wants To Make A Difference

It was about 1997 when I finally decided that I needed my own pc (as we called them then - personal computer). I'd survived two years of a Masters degree course by writing all my essays out in longhand but the dissertation was looming and there were strict rules and regulations about presentation.

A friend's father was upgrading his computer and offered to give me his old one. I couldn't believe my luck as I certainly couldn't afford to buy one. I was overwhelmed by his generosity. LOL, whilst it was very kind of him to pass on the unwanted dinosaur, I now realise that he was probably just as happy to have it go to a good home as I was to receive it. I used it as a glorified word processor and fax machine for a couple of years. It saw me through my dissertation and then died.

My next computer was built for me by a geeky friend (in the nicest possible way) who had a spare  motherboard lying around (as one does). I bought, with his guidance, a box, a monitor, a keyboard and one of those new amazing devices called a mouse (with its own little mouse pad). It cost me very little and...wait for it....I could get internet on it. Of course I couldn't use the phone whilst I was on the internet and my emails took an age to download. If anyone sent me a picture I cursed them and sent a very rude email back asking them not to as it cost me an hour in phone calls to receive it. 

I already had my eye on a laptop and, by working overtime in a second job for months, I eventually paid 12,000 shekels for it (2,000 pounds for Windows 3 point something and dial-up internet connection). The custom-made job eventually went to someone who just wanted the monitor. He kindly took the whole thing to save me the trouble of finding a home for it. I had tried donating it but I was laughed off the phone every time I described it. 

I loved my little laptop and used it from 2001 until 2010. After 10 years even I had to admit that it was obsolete. Reader, call me sentimental but I kept it. I may have still been traumatised by trying to give away my previous computer. 

I couldn't believe how much less I had to pay 10 years later for upgrading to my current machine. I was half inclined to wait until the price dropped to the extent that someone would knock on my door and say: Here's your new laptop and some cash we owe you for taking it. 

I've been so grateful for the circumstances that got me each of my computers. I should be talking about iphones but my mobile only makes calls. It doesn't even have a camera, I'm that much of a luddite. Why iphones? read on...

Iphones are updated regularly it seems. Companies with hundreds of employees might overhaul their entire collection. Even individuals upgrade themselves every couple of years. Not to is the equivalent of wearing flares in 1980 or shoulder pads in 1990. If you're not passing your old iphones on to your children, what happens to them? 

Iphones4autism run by my friend Val O'Donovan in Dublin, accepts your old iphones and gives them to children with autism. On the website is an incredible and moving story about a 5yo boy, Cahir, who doesn't speak and had no way of communicating anything to anyone - even his mother. He now uses his donated iphone with a special app (called the Grace App For Autism - read about it here) and his family have finally got to know him as a person. Before the iphone his mother didn't even believe he'd be able to handle the thing let alone communicate with her for the first time in his life.  

Cahir with his donated iphone

Please visit iphones4autism if you or anyone you know has an old iphone they can donate. Please tweet this post and send it to your facebook page. It could make a big difference to a child's life. 
Thank you. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nude Sunbathing, My Royal Dilemma

In the wake of this summer's sensational (not) Royal scandals resulting in nude photos of the future Queen of England and Prince Harry (on separate occasions) being readily available on the internet, I thought I'd share my experience of and feelings about nude bathing.

A few people I know went to the South of France this summer and reported back that everyone goes topless, it was no big deal. Some of them joined in, some didn't and some evaded the question. I once went to a nudist beach while on holiday in Greece (but I didn't inhale ;o)). It wasn't like an organised naturist resort with strict rules or anything like that. Rather it was a secluded bit of coastline that was known for sunbathers sans frontiers and you should just be aware if it's something that bothers you.

I went down to the nudist beach with a few friends I'd met on the holiday and we all took off our clothes and sat on our towels chatting and eating grapes, feta cheese, olives and freshly baked bread (as one does in Greece). One girl kept her bikini bottoms on. I only noticed this after a [long] while and remember thinking that I didn't know that was allowed. I wished I had instead of just following the crowd. On the other hand, I didn't feel uncomfortable sitting in a mixed group of six men and women, not strangers but not friends I would see again after I flew home, which happened to be the next day as this was the final day of my holiday.

Suddenly I noticed another tourist making his way down the snake path to the beach. It was an older gentleman with whom we had also connected and spent a few evenings eating and shooting the breeze over a few bottles of wine. I had a lot of respect for this man and, as he approached, I found myself reaching for my dress and pulling it over my head. I realised that I wasn't comfortable sitting in the nude in the presence of this man.

Why? I thought about it a lot afterwards and came to the conclusion that the five younger adults were like me, having fun, trying to find themselves, etc. But this older man was a proper person from the real world. I didn't conduct myself in the real world with no clothes on (other than in a relationship or a female changing room). All at once I felt inappropriately dressed, or undressed.

Later that evening we all went out to eat and there was a strange atmosphere (or possibly it was just me). It was as if we'd crossed a line between behaving properly and not. If we had already crossed the line what would happen next? The most relaxed one among us was the clever girl who'd kept her knickers on. Nothing eventful happened that night and the next day I went home. I had been planning to swap addresses and maybe keep in touch for a while but in the end I didn't bother.

So that's my experience of nude sunbathing. I wouldn't do it today. Hindsight and maturity have taught me that it's not for me. Back then, no one was stupid enough to take their camera out (they might have been lynched) but these days, it's much easier for someone to take out a phone, for which there are many legitimate reasons to look at it on the beach, and you've been photographed while the phone owner is still saying s/he only wanted to check the temperature/messages/stockmarket. I wouldn't risk it. Even sitting at my laptop late at night, I always make sure I'm covered adequately. One false Skype and a click and your boobs could be permantently out there somewhere in cyberspace, threatening to come back and embarrass you in the future.

Since then I have been skinny dipping at night (well not skinny exactly but without a cozzy) but underwater doesn't count, especially in the dark.

I live a pretty low-profile sort of life. Not many people would even notice if a nude picture of me appeared somewhere. If they did they probably wouldn't care and it certainly wouldn't make the newspapers. However, I'd be embarrassed and I would probably lose my job if gossip spread about it.

So if I know of the risks, why doesn't the heir to the throne who's grown up in the public eye and whose mother and aunt (Sarah) were caught out by photographers in very similar and equally private circumstances? It has also been pointed out that there were presumably security guards with them. Are William and Kate OK with her going topless in front of their bodyguards? And what is the point of wasting all that police time and French tax money trying to stop publication when all the photos are one click away on everyone's internet device?

You made a mistake guys and may this be the biggest one you ever make (that's a blessing btw). Get over it and move on. And perhaps think twice about undressing outside the house in future.

Credits: All pictures from Google Images

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Not My Fault I'm Childless

I've just read an interesting article in the Daily Mail Online called: I'ts not my fault that I missed the chance to become a mother.  (Click on the link to read the article.) I wanted to leave a comment after the article but there were already nearly 200 comments and what I have to say, well, I want to say it publicly and I want it read.

The author of the article, Megan Lloyd Davies, laments that it was bad luck that she didn't meet the right person with whom to have a family. She isn't prepared to go it alone (as I did) and she won't freeze her eggs (even though at 40 it's a bit late to start considering this option) because she doesn't want to go through fertility treatment alone. She describes how she went through a period of grief and mourning for the children she would never have, starting at age 38. She labels her situation emotional infertility rather than biological infertility and states that it is just as bad. Eventually, she made some big changes in her life, has come to terms with the way things are and is making a good life for herself as an independent, single woman.

As you can imagine, I have a number of things to say about this. The bottom line, however, is that it is your fault. I applaud Davies for working through her grief and coming out the other end with a positive outlook. However, she hasn't quite missed the chance to become a mother but rather is choosing to focus on other things. Her choice.

Ruth and Naomi
I too held out for the traditional love, marriage and a few children, in that order. When I turned 40 and realised that it may not happen I did something about it. I suddenly woke up to the fact that many things do not happen unless you happen them. I could say that my single state at the age of 40, despite some very nice boyfriends and relationships along the way, was bad luck. But it wasn't. It was a result of my choices.

Like Davies, I also chose to hold on to relationships that were going nowhere because I was enjoying myself and hoping things would change - even though I knew deep down that they rarely do. When I started IVF treatment it was because I had managed to give up on the whole fairy-tale package and focus on what was most important to me - becoming a mother. I also wasn't oblivious to the friends who started out with the fairy-tale and tragically things went wrong.

Like Davies, I also chose not to do it alone while I felt I was financially insecure. I lived in rented accommodation throughout my 20s and 30s and I'm a teacher (nuff said). I was marginally better off by the time I reached 40 but it was still my choice to delay. It was only the shock of being 40 and childless that made me go ahead regardless. Whilst I no longer enjoy the life I once had vis a vis travel and entertainment (unlimited heat in the winter, a take out meal once in a while...), this is also part of the choice I made and I don't regret it at all.

I know many women in their 40s who are single and childless. I know married couples who were not able to have children. I also know many women in their 40s and couples who did not accept being childless. Most of them started out with IUI and IVF and if they were unsuccessful, upped the ante to donor sperm and/or eggs. I know those who have used a surrogate and those who have adopted. All these people could have been emotionally infertile (or as I used to call it circumstantially infertile) but they chose not to be.

I've said before that some of my friends considered going it alone and decided, for whatever reason, not to. That is a totally legitimate decision as long as we're all clear that it is a decision.

For me, becoming a mother was the most important thing, as I said, and I thank God that I realised this before it was too late. It wasn't an easy journey and I lost a few good friends over it on the way. I went through all my savings in the process and I didn't speak to my mother for almost half a year. Without going into details, I chose to leave behind any negative baggage in whatever form it appeared, and forge ahead with single determination. I was lucky to have the support of many good close friends but essentially I was on my own.

To Megan Lloyd Davies, I want to say that the period of mourning you experienced at 38 is probably largely biological as many women (even mothers) go through an intense broodiness as they approach the end of their reproductive years. It's there for a reason. By giving reasons why you would not follow any of the options open to you, you have made your decision very clear. I don't think any less of you for not having children any more than I wouldn't look down on women who decide not to marry or any other life choice. I'm happy for you that you have a fulfilling life and that you have such a great relationship with your nieces, nephews and godchildren. But all our lives are a result of the choices we made. It is your fault, sorry.

Disclaimer: I certainly don't want to offend anyone who has tried every possible route to parenthood and is still childless. There are people like this and I am not belittling your pain and loss. There are unfortunately, people with severe obstacles to parenthood.

Credits: All the illustrations on this page are taken from Google Images under childlessness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Listography: 5 Truths According To Women

With the wisdom of a certain age (beginning with F and rhyming with nifty) and the experience of being a woman, here are five things I've learnt and feel compelled to share (in no particular order but there's something for everyone). You can read more truths according to women at the Listography HQ, Kate Takes 5.

1. No matter how many times Trinny and Susannah say that figure hugging clothes are more flattering to the fuller figure, it is usually more comfortable to wear something floaty. And that's the secret. Comfort outweighs fashion every time. There is no point in looking like a magazine fashion plate if you have that pinched look of pain or discomfort on your face all day. Why would anyone choose a pair of shoes (or a long tight skirt) that effectively turns them into a cripple? Floaty, comfortable, glam, fabulous, happy and relaxed works best. Just remember FCGFHR - it stands for floaty, comfortable, etc... ;o)

2. No one has as charmed a life as you think. Everyone has their problems, hang-ups, regrets or worries. At the end of the day you want to bring your own problems home with you rather than someone else's problems.

3. That fantastic amazing diet that made your three best friends lose upwards of two stone each and you can't wait to get started (just as soon as you can get your hands on 14 grapefruits and a suitcase of cayenne pepper)... it's not the diet. It wasn't the diet that was fantastic and amazing, it was the women who stuck to it. Most diets work, none of them are magic. You just have to choose one and stick to it.

4. The way you spend your days is the way you live your life.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Look after the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves (I adapted that one myself).
You can't have your cake and eat it.

All of the above are true. Take it from someone who has recently turned 50 and is still making the same resolutions she made when she turned 30 (and every year since). I have to admit that it was a grey day when I finally realized that most worthwhile careers come with a lifetime of homework but get over it and just do it.

5. This one is a bit spiritual and out of character for me, but I do believe it to be true. If you are in tune with the world it will work for you. Coincidences and good luck are your own personal miracles and they happen if you are open to them. There is plenty of money and love to go round as long as you are in the loop. Let go of the need to control everything and the universe might just show you good things you never even thought of.

Note to publishers: I could probably expand this wisdom into a book with lots of made-up case studies, some photos of sunsets off Google Images and a large advance. Contact me privately.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rosh Hashana Direct Line

We've arrived! I hope you enjoyed the countdown and thank you for bearing with me till the end. Rosh Hashana starts tonight. If you're looking for a direct line click on the video clip below.

*siddur = prayerbook
*Shana Tova Umetuka = Have a good and sweet  year.

Shana Tova!

No more tomorrow, we're celebrating the New Year! See you later in the week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #1

For the number one spot I couldn't resist re-posting my all time favourite. The one I wrote about last year. Enjoy and, as always...

Shana Tova!

Come back tomorrow for a direct line to God.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #2

Another group of hip-hop Torah scholars, in NYC this time.

Shana Tova!


 Don't forget to come back for more tomorrow!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #3

This one just came out. It's the same place that produced #8 on the countdown. I never knew these guys had so much fun in their yeshivot (study houses). Love this one.

Shana Tova!


 Don't forget to come back for more tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #4

So how do the French do it? Here's how they sing and dance Shana Tova in Paris...

Chana Tova! (And thank you Steph for showing me this one.)

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for more!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #5

Tekiyah is the call to listen to the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashana.

Wake up Don't you hear it calling you Arise and live your life anew Tekiyah
Wake up See the flaws inside your soul Nurture them till you are whole Tekiyah
This is the calling This is the time to make things right This is the warning With the day of judgement now in sight
Wake up Purge the grudges from your heart Try to make a brand new start Tekiyah
Wake up Give the world all you can give Love each moment that you live Tekiyah
This is the warning This is the time to make things right This is the calling With the day of judgement now in sight
Wake up Take the time to make amends Open up and start again Tekiyah
Wake up From your sorrow you are torn On this day you are reborn Tekiyah
This is the calling This is the time to make things right This is the warning With the day of judgement now in sight

By Eliana Light
License:Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)


 Don't forget to back tomorrow for more!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #6

Not in a million years...not in my house...uh uh....N -E-V-E-R!!!

Shana Tova!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for some more!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #8

What can I tell you? I never saw this in my synagogue...

Shana Tova!


 Don't forget to come back tomorrow for more!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #9

This one is just good old country singing from a rabbi in Georgia, USA...

Shana Tova!

Don't forget to come back for more tomorrow!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rosh Hashana Countdown #10

Last year in the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) I posted this great song by The Fountainheads and explained all the symbolism in it and what it meant to me. I still love that song the best out of all the Rosh Hashana songs.

This year there are so many funky music videos for Rosh Hashana I thought I'd do a Rosh Hashana Countdown. There are 10 days to go so I'll feature a song a day for the duration.

Number 10 (although they are in no particular order) is a tribute to Israeli technology and features robotic dancing from The Technion (University) in Haifa. There are no special effects here, it is all 100% Israeli robotic genius.

Enjoy and Shana Tova (Happy New Year)!

Don't forget to come back for more tomorrow!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Woman In Her Forties

That's me, a woman in her 40s. I'm trying to savour the moments which is quite hard with a 3yo who won't go to sleep and keeps calling out very important questions from the next room. In just over three hours time I'll be a woman in her 50s. It doesn't matter how much I savour and dwell on being 49, it's going to pass and there's nothing I can do about it.

So what? It's just a number? True, but it's a significant one. There's a bigger difference between being in your 40s and in your 50s than there is between 20s, 30s and 40s I think. Twenties to 40s are all getting married, building families, establishing careers (some earlier some later). In your fifties you are not having any more babies (not that I wanted to), you are a mere 10 years away from the retirement 60s (even though the age of retirement will be 67 by the time I get there), most of your friends are organising weddings for their children and becoming grandparents (which is a good thing). You see how I've contradicted every moan about the 50s? So what is it that is so heavy about tonight?

I'm probably more than half way through my life. I'm not old but I am no longer a young woman with my whole life stretching out before me full of endless possibilities. On the other hand I have far more now than I did when I turned 40.

My daughter has fallen asleep finally in her own bed in our own home. I have work to do because my career as a teacher requires work at home, as do most careers. And when I'm turning 70 I'll probably look back on this night with amusement and wistfulness.

Generally I like the zero years. The nines are tough - 29, 39, 49 - because I feel the pressure to achieve everything I ever aspired to before my decade is out. Twenty and 30 had big fat zeroes at the end of the number like a clean slate. Ten years ahead of me to do it all. Forty was harder because it was the beginning of the end of 'young enough' adulthood and I hadn't yet done very much of 'it all.' I'm hoping 50 will bring the zero effect with it once more. I won't know until tomorrow morning whether it will or not - I'll let you know.

Dammit, I'm a young mother! I don't feel middle aged!

Rachel (aged 49 364.9/365)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Trip Down Saccharine Lane

I saw the title of the latest Listography from Kate Takes 5 (click on the link to read the other entries) and I knew my evening was shot. Who could resist finding five songs that you grew up to? Not me. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best year for pop music was 1976. If you read the list of hits from that year it's winner after memorable winner. So it's back to my tweens and early teens for a little trip down Saccharine Lane.

1. My first choice from 1976, of course, is the theme tune from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To?) sung by Diana Ross. I've already written a whole post about being 14 years old and in love with myself, full of hope for the future, etc...,etc... Read it and listen to it here. It'll take you back to those innocent years of open doors and unburnt bridges.

2. A collection of three songs (I know I'm cheating a bit) featured in this post about Songs I Have Loved:

Georgy Girl by The Seekers (my Dad's favourite group) from the 1960s. I loved the film too. Click on Songs I Have Loved and see a very young Lynn Redgrave having a bad hair day. My personal memory is of eating lamb chops and mashed potato for lunch and hearing this track whilst waiting for Listen With Mother on the radio. I also remember dancing around the house singing it without any clue as to what it meant.

The other two are both from 1976 (also in Songs I Have Loved with videos) Both songs that almost define the 1970s. The decade I needed to have long straight hair with a centre parting like Marcia Brady but never quite managed it. The only other must have was a flat stomach above my hipster stonewashed jeans. Oh, and more than one pair of Kickers.

3. Anything by Neil Diamond. When Love At The Greek came out in 1977 after his concert at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (in 1976 of course) - I was in love. I only had 20 Golden Greats at home but used to put on the tape next to my bed and end each day with Neil (just the two of us). Here is Beautiful Noise for you.

4. Other childhood loves included all the Davids: David Essex (he didn't look anything like he looks in Eastenders, honestly), David Soul (from Starsky and Hutch), David Dundas (Jeans On), and David Cassidy (obviously - I was a tweenager in the 1970s so it would have been odd not to). I Think I Love You. I think I saw the original episode of The Partridge Family in 1970.

5. Aw poor Karen Carpenter. Possibly the best female voice pop music has ever known. :(

With apologies to ABBA - I still listen to you as I wash my floors but they only allow 5 items in Listography. And thanks to Kate  - not (I actually had things to do this evening.)