Friday, January 31, 2014

Do Men Have Favourite Colours?

Today was family day in Israel. DD was busy drawing pictures of and for each member of our extended family. When she draws herself she gives herself a purple dress, purple having taken over from pink as her favourite colour.

When she draws me I get a green dress because green is my favourite colour, when it's not light blue or a delicate lilac or a buttery yellow. I remember loving orange when I was very little and then choosing blue for many years. Most of my wardrobe is red and black. Sometimes I'm not sure what my favourite colour is.

Why do we have to choose a favourite colour? It's a bit like saying who you love best in the family. Doesn't it depend on the circumstances that particular moment and your mood? However, I do know that my mother has always favoured blue without wavering, in the almost 50 years I've known her to express a preference. And my sister likes purple best. Once she liked green but now it's definitely purple.

So maybe us women change our minds over the years, or even over the hours, but do men have favourite colours at all? Of course they do, or so I always thought until I had this conversation with DD as she was drawing pictures for her grandparents.

DD: What's Grandma's favourite colour?
Me: Blue.
DD: And what's Grandpa's favourite colour?
Me: Um, I don't know actually.
DD: You must know. What colour does he like?
Me: I think he likes whatever Grandma chooses.

I was shocked that I didn't know my own father's favourite colour. So then we started talking about the rest of the family - my brother, my brother-in-law, and three nephews. Nope. I didn't know any of their favourite colours. I could guess blue for my b-i-l as he supports Spurs and red for the boys who all support Arsenal, but that's not the same thing. My Dad doesn't support a football team.

Maybe women talk about their favourite colours more because they decorate homes and buy clothes in colours other than masculine neutrals. But do men even have a favourite colour?

I know it's not a matter of life and death but I can't stop thinking about the fact that no man has ever told me his favourite colour. Do you know your husband's or boyfriend's favourite colour? Do you know your Dad's? If you are a male reading this, do you have a favourite colour? Or have I lived a very sheltered existence and this is just one more thing that has passed me by?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 15: Linguistics

DD: Mum, I'm only going to call you Mum from now on. I don't want to say Mummy anymore.
Me: Ok.
(Five minutes later)
DD: Mummy, I'm hungry. Mummy, can you play with me? Mummy, I love you.

In Hebrew some feminine words are formed by adding 'a' to the end of the masculine words. E.g. nessikh is prince and nessikha is princess. The adjectives also change so a good prince is a nessikh tov and a good princess is a nessikha tova.
DD (seeing a male ballet dancer): There's a dance.
Me: You mean a dancer.
DD: No! He's not a girl he's a boy! Can't you see he's a boy?

On the swings
DD: Mummy, at yokhola l'push li?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snippets - Another Weekend

Joining in with Snippets over at Making It Up.

[Reading] with Janet and John: John, John, see the aeroplane come down. DD: "Why don't they say land?" I've also noticed a complete linguistic change in my lifetime: Let us - Let's - Lets. Janet and John only say 'let us' of course.

[Celebrating] Family Day at Kindergarten. The children are blessed under the Talit (prayer shawl) canopy.

[Decorating] a cake bought in the supermarket. Friends over for lunch. After the last birthday cake(s) fiasco which looked great but weren't cooked enough inside (my oven not me), I bought a simple cake in a packet from the supermarket and we decorated with (more) pink icing and sugar flowers/butterflies. Forgot to take pictures but it looked good and it did the job.

[Playing] in the park. Love those swings.

[Hanging] our favourite art on the wall as part of an evolving display. Notice how the whole exhibit comes to together with a recurring theme of purple princesses in their gardens.

[Hanging out] with Playmobil.

A girl can never have too many princesses

[Creating] patterns with Geometri shapes.

Here's one I did earlier

No Mummy, it's not finished!

A lot of concentration is required

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Snippets About The No Lodger

Joining in with Making It Up's Saturday Snippets.

[U-turning] on the idea of a lodger. I finally came to terms with the fact that no single female wants to live with a middle aged single mother and her 5yo - no matter how adorable the 5yo may be. So we spent the weekend moving me out of the spudy (spare/study) and back into my big bedroom. I feel like the woman who was told to bring the goat and other animals into her small abode. So much space suddenly...

[Happy] with the above decision even though it means looking for a different source of income.

[Finding] so much extra storage that I could even get rid of a couple of old bookcases. (Going free to anyone in Jerusalem who wants them and can pick them up).

[Rearranging] the kitchen now that I don't have to have a free cupboard for the lodger and...
[Enjoying] not having to take things out in order to get to things behind and...
[Admiring] clear clutter-free counters.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's About Blogging

Last night I watched Julie & Julia. The film about the woman in New York who decides to cook all the 524 recipes (including the lobsters) in Julia Child's 'Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.'

I knew it was about cooking, obviously, but it's also about blogging. More about that in a minute. First a bit about the film.

God, Meryl Streep was annoying as Julia Child. I watched an episode of the real Julia on You Tube afterwards. Streep mimicked her brilliantly but with enough exxageration to make her irritating in the extreme. The real Julia Child was slightly softer round the edges I think. However, it was her mannerisms that were irritating not her character. And it was Meryl Streep - you can't not like Meryl Streep. So I made myself like her.

There's a bit near the end though when I hated her with impunity. I had to reason that by this time she was a 90 year old who hadn't spent the last almost two hours getting to know the lovely Julie. And she knew nought about blogging, that's for sure.

Which brings me nicely back to the blogging. This was an added and unforseen bonus to the film. I identified with every step of the blog birthing process. From getting your first comment - from your mother so it doesn't count, to realizing that people out there, whom you don't even know personally, read you. Of course I haven't replicated the scene where she finds 65 telephone messages on her answer phone from publishers, literary agents, tv stations, film studios, magazines, etc...

I came away with two lessons from Julie's blogging experience. As I approach my 3rd Blogiversary on Sunday it feels like a good time to learn, adapt, and share.

1. There is always the big debate at blog conferences - to niche or not to niche. All the guest speakers (who are usually writers but not bloggers) say you need to stick to a specific niche. Then all the experienced bloggers strongly object. Most of us started out with a blogging niche in mind and then felt perfectly comfortable writing about anything and everything that came up along the way. After all, even if I write about car mechanics or interior design I'm still a midlife single mum.

But I can't deny that it was the niche that made Julie's blog successful.

2. Julie sat down and wrote about her days like she was writing a diary. Every day, no great issues to grapple with and no attention grabbing titles. Just a simple account of what she cooked, her day, and how she felt about it all. And the readers read and they loved it.

I've been slacking in the blog department recently. Some of it is to do with blogging for three years - this Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year, etc... isn't really much different from last year. I've told you all about the Jewish festivals and Israeli celebrations. I've described my weekends on my friends' kibbutz and at my cousins who live overlooking the Mediterranean. How many times can you cover the same topic?

So my plan for 2014 is to blog the niche a bit more. Everyday I am surprised about the things single motherhood presents which are vastly different from parenting with a significant other. I'm five years into it and I'm still realizing the reality of being a single mum with no back up. Being an expat my situation is rather extreme but then so is cooking 524 recipes in 365 days.

See you tomorrow for some more simple thoughts from a midlife singlemum.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Janet and John

I learned to read with Janet and John. When doing a teaching practice in the early 1980s, the school was clearing out old stock and, on seeing these old readers, I was immediately transported back to my learning to read days in the late 1960s. The school let me buy a whole set of Janet and John (almost whole - there are three books missing), including about 30 of the 40 or so Little Books. I was amazed by how familiar the stories were and how much I remembered.

The Whole Word Readers

Janet and John
Here We Go
*Off To Play - missing
I Went walking
Out and About
Through the Garden Gate (the one with Chicken Licken)
*I Know a Story - also missing

Extension Readers

Once Upon A Time
*High on a Hill should come here. :(
Days in the Sun
The Five-and-a-Half Club
Over the Sea
It Must Be magic
Magic Everywhere.

They were first published in America between 1942 and 1949. Most of my copies are reprints from 1962. By 1964 Peter and Jane were in the shops. Janet and John were retired to a million stock cupboards around the UK. Lost to subsequent generations but living on in the memories and hearts of the Baby Boomers.

There's quite a lot of gender stereotype, not one non-white face in the whole series, and absolutely no phonetic reading practice - it was all whole word recognition. Even Peter and Jane included some phonetics when they realized that children were leaving Primary School unable to read.

I teach children to read and though I have a number of reading schemes that I use (ORT, Ginn, New Way - previously Gay Way in the 1960s), I decided to use Janet and John with DD. Last night I left her with some of the Little Books to look at when I left the room. I came back later to turn off the light and found she'd put a bookmark in one of the Little Books (it has only 5 pages) and placed it on her bedside table.

Do you remember Janet and John?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When Everything Breaks At Once

If you were following my STOP-tober and NOT-vember posts about living frugally and saving money, you will know that I got into it in a big way. I didn't do a summing up post (pun intended) at the end of November but I continued into December and even with Hanukkah and DD's birthday I managed to get the total month's spending down to just under 6,000 shekel. That's currently a bit over 1,000GBP.

With this new figure I was confidently anticipating 2014 to be a financially doable year. I added up expected income and even before finding some more work (which I must do and I have the time for) I was comfortably within the spending budget. So positive was I that I even started a savings account with money added automatically every month.

Finding out that 1st Grade will cost much more than Kindergarten (the afternoon programme with lunch and one special interest club, until 4.30pm is extra whereas this year we had an almost free school day until 4pm) and reading that the cost of living is going up (though not salaries of course) did not phase me (much).

Then everything broke.

1. Friends in England sent DD 150 shekels for a birthday present. I added another 150 to get her the cheapest tablet (TEAC) for 299 shekels. (You can get cheaper online but I wanted to buy from a reputable store nearby.) The first one had a dodgy battery so they swapped it for a new one. The new one packed up after two weeks.

ME: Are you having a lot of trouble with these cheap tablets?
ME: So why are you selling them?
SHOP MAN: I don't  know.

The next tablet up (Pocketbook) was 499 shekels. I don't know if I would have bought DD a tablet for 500 shekels in the first place. However, having given it to her I couldn't now take it away. So I paid the 200 shekels difference and we have a new new, hopefully better, tablet.

2. DD has a CD player in her room to listen to her music while falling asleep. When we rented out our place 1 1/2 years ago, the renters' 3yo son walked in, picked up the machine and dropped it on the floor. It still worked after a fashion but it was never the same again. The loose button that we had to keep balancing in place finally admitted defeat this week and the whole thing died. 299 shekels for a new one. (Yes I know we could download music onto the tablet but we have CDs and we use them.)

3. A DVD got stuck in the DVD player. No way to get it out. 199 shekels for a new DVD player.

That's 698 Shekels paid out today for electrical items. And we've not finished. The rest, however will have to wait until next month.

4. I need a new oven. When I posted those nice looking cakes I made for DD's birthday I neglected to mention that they were barely cooked in the middle and decidedly crisp at the edges. When I make pizza from scratch I have to put each slice on the toaster/grill to finish cooking the base underneath. I always use the highest setting these days but it's just not getting hot enough. New cooker: from 1,200 to 1,800 shekels (depending on the model) plus delivery charge.

5. As if all of this isn't enough, the microwave door broke. New microwave: about 400 shekels. I may have to do without this for a while.

That's almost 3,000 shekels (about 500GBP). That's the emergency fund that Elaine Colliar (@MFinThree) advised that we save up. It's the amount I smugly reported back that I would have saved up by September. Gone by the first week in January!

Of course the money isn't going to come out of the emergency fund. Don't worry Elaine, I heard you. It will come from another year of living close to the breadline. Ho hum, one day my prince will come...

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year Funk

So where was I? Me, the big New Year's Eve celebrator. Not with parties or anything wild, but an introspective evening with a glass of wine or two. Thinking about the past year and what I'm going to achieve in the year ahead. So where was I? I was in a funk, that's where I was.

a. Last week there was a Listography of 5 things you achieved in 2013 and I couldn't think of any. I looked at my New Year post from last year and not much seems to have changed.

b. There were two major tragedies in December. An old and dear friend lost her daughter in a car accident. It was unthinkable and could have happened to any of us. Then another family in our community (whom I don't know personally but see them outside the school gates) lost their 2 year old son, also in a tragic accident.

c. My long time on off relationship friend got engaged to his other long time on off relationship (we were hardly ever on at the same time). It wasn't a surprise but I was hoping it wouldn't happen.

The thing is - odd numbers are crap. It's taken me a few days to regain my equilibrium but, ever positive and entering an even numbered year, I've managed to turn it round...

There has been some achievement. I taught DD to read. This is technically her achievement not mine but it's very exciting anyway. We are still on the first reading level with one sentence per page. However, as I introduce each new  book, she builds the words or recognizes the non-phonetic ones and reads on her own.

Apart from that we've finished another year in good health and with the mortgage paid every month.

As for Mr. Long Time On Off, I've unfriended him and deleted him from my skype. This could be the best thing to happen to me. This could make all the difference to 2014. Ready for Mr All Time On On And On...

And here's a fun Shabbat song to take us into the weekend. Dror Yikra (He shall make freedom and liberty).

Shabbat Shalom!