Saturday, July 30, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Hello Haircut!

1. Milly Molly Mandy?
Hello Haircut!
I cut DD's hair. We've been talking about it for weeks. Usually when we're rushing out the door and have to then spend 10 minutes trying to get the knots out of her hair. She's screaming, I'm getting frustrated, we're both getting later and later for where we're supposed to be going...

We had a couple of false starts where I was all ready to do the chop after her bath and hair wash, and she changed her mind. On both those occasions I was very happy that she chickened out. I loved her long hair when it was washed, conditioned and silky smooth. It was only in the mornings after a night tossing and turning, as children do, that we hated it.

Finally it all became too much and we did it. I cut it wet and when it dried I tidied it up with a few more snips here and there. DD had a major melt-down as I'd cut it shorter than she was expecting. Actually it was shorter than I was expecting but it's actually perfect that it's not on her shoulders in this hot weather and it keeps her neck cool.

2. College Daze
I had to go into college three days this week for private tutorials with students, and DD's summer school finished last Thursday. That meant she had to come with me. On Sunday I only saw 4 students so we were in and out in just over an hour. But on Tuesday I saw 20 students. I took workbooks, colouring, nosh, and other activities for DD to do but she found a friend.

The Milly Molly Mandy style is best viewed from the back
Another little girl was there with her mother so the two of them went off exploring. It was a bit Harry Potterish for DD so she had a grand old time. Eventually the other girl's mother took them up to the computer room and set them up with headphones and You Tube episodes of Kofiko (an Israeli tv program for kids).

On Thursday I had another 20 students to see and Little Friend Susan wasn't there. But DD already owned the building. She knew how to take her snacks to the cafeteria when she wanted to eat, she knew where the bathrooms are, and she knew how to get to that computer room and set herself up with headphones and You Tube to watch Kofiko. I hardly saw her in 4 1/2 hours!

3. The Entertaining Equation.
We went to a birthday party yesterday and another friend was driving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for the party. I invited them to stay for dinner afterwards, along with another couple of friends. I've not had any guests here for about a month or more as the lead up to the end of the college semester and the school year is manic.

I totally understand when people say that no matter how strapped they are for money, the one thing that allows them to have a normal life is a cleaner once a week, or even once a fortnight. We all have tiled floors here and we live in the dessert. This means there is always a layer of dust over everything which gets thicker by the hour. You have to dust once a week, you just have to. And the tile floors need sweeping and mopping. There's nothing worse than walking around barefoot in your own home and getting dirty, black feet because of the dust on the floor.

Well I don't have a cleaner. Instead the best motivation for me to just clean the place myself is to invite guests. Guests coming means I will clean the apartment thoroughly or die from embarrassment. Being a single mother, death is not an option. The meal costs about the same as having a cleaner here for 4 hours. I love cooking and having people here so the only hassle is a couple of sink loads of washing up afterwards. This is more than compensated by the sheer pleasure of having a clean house.

The truth is that it only takes about 4 - 5 hours to clean the whole place. I should just do it in two sessions during the week, or even in three shorter sessions. Once you get started it's not a big deal. The thought of it is worse than the doing. So guests are the perfect solution. Thank you for coming guests and please come again soon.

I'm linking up to R2BC over at Mummy from the Heart.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - The First Day

Lazy days of summer
It's 08.45 and the apartment is quiet. Not because DD is at Summer School - that finished yesterday, but because today is the first day of the summer holidays without any framework for DD other than what we decide ourselves.

Last night I finished my work (I have 70 students doing an online summer course who send in papers to be graded and receive feedback) while DD played and watched You Tube. At 10pm I got into bed to read, gently suggesting that DD come too. "Not yet, I'm not ready," was the reply. At 10.20 she joined me in bed and went straight to sleep - not even awake enough to ask for her chapter of Harry Potter.

I read until midnight, not bothering to put on the alarm clock. At 08.00 I got up, made coffee, and graded two papers that had come in overnight. And now I'm finishing my coffee, blogging (for the first time in a fortnight) and enjoying the calm unhurriedness of it all.

We have plans of course. The charts we made a month ago have fallen out of use because DD lost interest in filling them in although she still did her pages of Maths and Hebrew every day at Summer School and at home she did English reading with me. We will be stricter now, especially as I have three days of student tutorials in college next week and DD will have to sit and do those workbooks for some of it.

The recorder playing stalled at note G, having mastered B and A and almost putting them together in one line. However, yesterday DD informed me that she must practise recorder now so that she's not behind in music next year. (She won't be behind as they all start together in 3rd grade but they were told to practise over the holiday so she thinks she'll be behind). I got to the end of the first recorder book btw, but for me it was all revision as I learned all this in 1973!

We have a monthly pass to the local pool, we have the outdoor movie once a week, we have playdates and outings, shopping, cooking, ideas for planting on the balcony.... but for now another coffee I think and then a leisurely shower.

I'm linking up to R2BC at Mummy From The Heart.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Hogwarts And Other School Magic

We are reading Happy Potter! Well I am reading Harry Potter to DD. I put it off for ages because I didn't want to get to the end of book two and have to stop for five years while she caught up with Harry in age, school years, and maturity. And I also wasn't sure if she'd understand it yet - we are otherwise reading those silly and endless fairy/princess books that all have the same plot repeated on different days of the week in different colours.

But last week we saw a picture of HP and DD said casually: Oh look, it's Harry Potter. Mummy who is Harry Potter?

So I thought we'd try it.

A bit of background. In 1998 (or maybe early 1999) when the first two books came out, a friend bought them in London and read them to her two young children. They all loved the books so much that she lent them to me, as I was the local English teacher for that age. I read both books in one weekend. When I gave them back I said, "Caroline, these books are going to be bigger than Peter Pan." Was I right or was I right? Anyway, I bought my own copies (not first editions alas) and now have five out of the seven books.

DD is loving it. She gets a chapter a night but today did extra pages of Hebrew and Maths to earn another chapter after lunch. And I get to read Harry Potter again too. Over the years students of mine have been obsessed with HP and tried to discuss various parts of the plots but I could never remember the details of what happened in each book and why. So I'm rediscovering the excitement all over again.

DD doesn't know that there's a film of this book. I can feel a big movie night coming up....

In other school news apart from Hogwarts, a friend from DD's class who was here for the year but, sadly for us, is returning to the US this summer, came round with four t-shirts and four sweatshirts with the school logo on them (even two white shirts which they have to wear on special days). This is our school uniform which they can wear with any kind of bottoms they like, so we are set for September and the winter.

The final school in this post is the swimming school at the local pool where DD is having her annual set of summer swimming lessons. The course is 11 lessons in very small groups at whatever level you need. We've had four lessons so far but there's something going on with the secretary so we've not been able to pay yet. They don't seem to mind and they keep saying to pay next week. I'm happy to pay and I know we will eventually pay but meanwhile my credit card gets paid on Sunday so I've just got myself a whole extra month before the money goes out of my account. It's the summer, every little helps.

A flash might have been good here. 
On Tuesday evening DD suddenly came running in to tell me that outdoor movie night was starting, she could see it from her bedroom window. We first went to this three years ago when she was 4 1/2 but she found it hard to follow the movies in Hebrew. And so did I. So we stopped going.

For the past two years we've had swimming lessons on a Thursday evening, which is when the outdoor movie night usually occurs. Coming home tired and not really being interested in movies in Hebrew, we gave it a miss.

However, as it was on Tuesday and we were at home, we went down. Some of DD's school friends were there so she ran to sit with them. The movie was Inside Out and DD really enjoyed it. Next week I'm taking my folding deckchair and a bag of popcorn.

I hope you're all enjoying your summer. I'm linking up to the other R2BC posts
which are back with Mummy from the Heart for July.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Magic Of School Holiday Boredom

This was day 1
So we made this plan for the looooong summer break and because there is still summer school in the mornings and it's very hot, I cannot spend all afternoon nagging DD to get it done. But actually I don't have to nag because the consequence of not doing her tasks is no computer or other screen time.

The first day she raced through her tasks because it was a novelty and she wanted to colour in the circles on the chart. The second day she also worked her way through the tasks so that she could go watch Disney Descendants. On the third day she was more laid back about the whole thing and preferred to play in her room for a while before sitting down with the books.

By day 6, which is today, I've noticed that she's doing all sorts of other things rather than the English, Hebrew and Maths workbooks. And I don't mind because hours are spent in imaginative play, drawing, doing the sewing kits that have been sitting idle for ever, making tents and dens, or reading simple books in English by herself. She even sorted out the toy box and tidied her bedroom. And no time is being spent on the computer.

When the lure of the screen becomes overwhelming and all other options have been explored, those workbooks do get done. And screen time is shortened to the half hour left available before bedtime. (Not that we're very good at imposing bedtime ever in the holidays.)

A friend posted an article today about how you shouldn't over schedule your kids during the holidays or they will never learn how to find things to amuse themselves. They need the time to discover what they enjoy doing and to explore doing it in their own way, without an adult planning it all out.

The article wasn't talking about doing workbooks so much as taking the kids out every day, signing them up for activities and summer camps, and generally blocking in all their free time. We don't have the money or the transport for such a full schedule (and it's extremely hot) but I was expecting DD to get through her activities in a couple of hours and then I'd have to find ways to cut down screen time anyway because there would still be another 6-8 hours in the day with nothing going on. I was prepared to provide goings on for some of these hours.

However, I'm thrilled that all the tasks are being put off for other imaginative and creative pursuits. A definite case of very positive procrastination.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

We Need A Plan For The Summer

DD broke up from school on Thursday and we face 62 days of summer vacation ahead of us. Whilst she does have summer school from 8 till 1pm for three weeks, a swimming lesson and an English lesson a week planned (when a friend joins us and I'm the teacher), this is not enough structure for laid back folks like us. I could see her spending days in Cyberspace watching endless episodes of rubbish on You Tube and playing games. I'm also aware that at age seven she needs to be forming good time management habits in a way that I never did.

Anyone remember these? 
So we agreed a plan. And we made a chart of things that have to be done before she gets any screen time. And then we agreed that it wasn't fair that she had a list of of things of do every day but I didn't. So we made a chart for me too. Now we have two charts on the fridge and a plan.

DD's five daily tasks are a page of Hebrew, a page of Maths, a page of English, some Art, and Recorder. We have workbooks in Hebrew, Maths, and English that were started in school and at home and abandoned half way through. And more new workbooks that we bought or were given and never used. I couldn't bear to throw out unfinished workbooks so it makes me happy that they will be finished - and then thrown out.

DD's task chart
I have my recorder books from when I was in school in the early 1970s. DD starts recorder at school in September and they were told to practise over the holiday. I'm not sure how they can practise if they've never been taught and if they don't have someone in the house who can teach them. But luckily we do and I actually wanted to start last year but she wasn't quite ready. I'm also excited about re-learning this skill. I'm two pages ahead of DD. I reckon that's all I need to be.

Art involves anything artistic. Yesterday she drew a range of jewellery with lots of different charms for a charm bracelet. She drew intricate pictures with beads, charms, pendants, and earrings. I don't think Tiffany will be buying the collection but she worked on it for an hour and it was creative. Today we found you tube tutorials for drawing simple animals and she followed and drew dolphins and cats for over an hour.

My task chart
My five daily tasks are keeping up to date with my grading, cleaning one room, laundry (one wash and/or any sewing that needs doing), exercise and recorder. I didn't want to put exercise but DD made me. I could have put my foot down but she's doing things that I chose and she doesn't want to do so it's only fair.

Yesterday we got up late as it was the first day of the holiday. We walked to the shops and hauled back a trolley bag and three more bags of shopping which I had to bring up three flights of stairs. Exercise? Then we made the charts and DD worked through her tasks. She got more and more excited as she ticked each task off. We didn't have time for English as we were going to friends for dinner, so she read a story to me in bed when we got home. That was a whole day of no computer. And DD was happy. Even she can see that it was a day well spent.

I didn't manage to clean a room or do any exercise (I decided not to count the shopping yesterday and interpret it more as stretching and pilates style floorwork.) I made up for it today though. DD finished all her tasks at 2.30pm and has gone on the computer for a while before we go out. We are both feeling virtuous. Early days but it's looking hopeful.