Thursday, March 30, 2017

Different Smugs - R2BC

Already dreaming of my matza brie
Pesach and Spring Cleaning
Today we broke up for the Pesach holidays. Obviously Pesach cleaning takes over from teaching but the beauty of it is that you can start at 9 am and not have to leave the house at all instead of getting up at 6.45 and running out the door at 7.30 am.

I've said it before but in case you weren't listening or have forgotten. Pesach is the festival of Passover in which we celebrate the exodus from Egypt. Part of the ritual is spring cleaning which is elevated to a religious level by requiring one's home be spotlessly clean as we enter the eight-day festival. This is a good thing as you want to spring clean anyway so making it a requirement ensures that you get it done and then you feel smug.

At school the children all helped to clean the building. Have you seen those Japanese videos of schoolchildren cleaning? Well it was like that. The school lunches that are delivered daily were sandwiches and we all ate outside.

We saw where babies come from.
During the mass picnic, someone suddenly cried, "Look up!" We all did and saw a whole flock of storks doing a fly past. Israel is on the main flight path for many migrating birds as they fly from Europe to Africa in the autumn and back again in the spring. It was an amazing sight. I am not a twitcher by any means. To me bird watching is about as interesting as watching other people play golf, but you could see their long necks and wide wingspans as they carried all the little babies in bundles tied around their beaks.

National Assessment Tests....done.
Yesterday we had the Grade 5 Meitsav in English. It's like the SATS, a national assessment test that everyone hates. Thankfully this year we we're not on the external examination list, unlike last year, so we could give the exam ourselves and mark it ourselves. The marking is quite complicated with points for relevance, verb conjugation, word order, use of pronouns, spelling, capital letters and full stops, etc... And try doing this for 30 questions times the number of students. Anyway, I stayed up late last night and got all my meitsav papers marked and all the record pages filled in. Smug was not the word when I waltzed into school this morning.

So if I can just get this place cleaned I'll be smugged to the hilt (and ready for a fall?). I'm joining the Linky over at Mummy from the Heart for the final hosting of Reasons 2B Cheerful for March.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mothering Sunday

Mum & DD, April 2012. I don't have a recent one #rubbishphotographer
Tomorrow is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Traditionally the second Sunday in Lent, it's about going home to pray at your mother church as well as visiting your mother and bringing her gifts. In the US it has turned into Mother's Day and is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In Israel we celebrate Family Day (which used to be Mother's Day) on the Yahrzeit of Henrietta Szold who had no children of her own but saved 22,000 children from Hitler in Europe. This year it was on February 26th and I think I missed it.

Anyway, as I grew up in England's green and pleasant land, this post is honour of Mothering Sunday, even though I have no mother church to visit.

Six Things My Mother Did That I Don't Do:

1. Ironing. I don't buy thin cottons and I hang our clothes carefully on the line so that they dry smoothly. And if there are a few creases, body warmth soon deals with them. In fairness to my mother, she did have four of us wearing daily button-down shirts: my Dad, my brother, and even us two girls had to wear them for school uniform.

2. Make a three course dinner every night. You have to feel sorry for women in the 1970s as they were caught in the middle of old fashioned housewives on the one side and women's liberation and a severe economic depression, on the other. My mother went back to work full time when I was about 10 but she still felt that she needed to make a three course dinner every night. Sometimes we would be still eating at 9 pm. In hindsight, it was completely crazy.

3. Host Mid-Week Dinner Parties. Nowadays, especially in Israel, we entertain for one of the meals over Shabbat (Friday night or Saturday lunch). But I think that even in the UK, people tend to entertain mainly at the weekends. We go out to a film or a concert mid-week but having people over not so much. Our lives are too busy and we're too exhausted after a day's work, children's activities and homework, and preparing more work for the next day. If we do go round to friends mid-week it's called a light supper and usually comprises of soup, pasta and a salad.

4. Knitting. I can knit and crotchet but, as my mother herself pointed out, it's more expensive to buy the wool these days than it is to go out and buy a jumper or cardigan.

5. Wear make-up every day (including foundation) and go to the hairdresser once a week for a wash and blow dry. I just don't and my mother still does.

6. Make fabulous desserts - Lemon Cream Gateau, Black Forest Cherry Cake, Chestnut Pavlova, Eton Mess, Cheese Cake, Steamed Syrup Pudding, Lockshen Kugel, Bread Pudding, Cherry Shissel, Apple Strudel, homemade biscuits, and the list goes on. Well I'm doing Keto aren't I? But even before I discovered the keto diet, I was never a baker - too much like chemistry lessons if you ask me. My forte is pastry and salads. (Obviously the pastry is now off the menu.)

Four Things I Do That My Mother Didn't Do:

1. Take photos. This was Dad's job and the camera was his. My mother only got her own camera when her first grandchild came along. I'm a rubbish photographer and I often forget, but if I don't take the photos, there aren't any so I have to.

2. Write and publish.

3. Speak two languages. My Hebrew is rubbish but I can use it for everything I need. Mum told me that she once went on a French exchange and stayed with a family for a week. By the end she says she was pretty good at French. She'd forgotten it all by the time we used to go on holidays in France.

4. Wear leggings and ankle boots as part of my 'uniform'. Mum never wears anything less than proper clothes as opposed to what she describes as going out in pyjamas.

Four Things We Both Do:

1. Go to bed extremely late. We are both night owls and not larks.

2. Play cards and Scrabble. She plays Bridge. I'm a Kalooki girl - up to 150 points and you can come in twice. We're also both up for a game of Rummikub, which is a sort of card game with tiles.

3. Watch Escape To The Country and read The Daily Mail.

4. Love the social side of religious life but make up our own rules about the ritual.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Beauty And The #Post40Bloggers - R2bC

Beauty And The Beast
I was going to buy tickets for us and take DD to the Israel premiere of the new Beauty film. It was a charity performance and, for once, the premiere was in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv. However, our lovely friend Sally-Ann bought a spare ticket and invited DD as her treat.

It was indeed a treat as they went for pizza first and had ice-cream and sweets during. DD loved it all and came home after 9 pm, all smiles and excitement. She said, "Mummy, I saw Hermione, I recognised her straight away because she had the same face."

Thank you Sally-Ann, you and Hermione were a big hit.

Featured Blogger
I was invited to join Post40Bloggers so that they could feature one of my posts. And here I am - this week's featured blogger. I'm absolutely chuffed, bowled over, feeling like the bee's knees and full of it. Well why not?

Thank you Mel, I'm flattered to be chosen.

And then there was this. It came home from school and was dropped in my lap. I'm going to send one back in the lunch box on Sunday. I know it's soppy but who cares. (Remember that though she's 8, DD's school education is almost all in Hebrew.)

I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Mich's Mummy From The Heart. I took a quick peek earlier and there seems to be some extra activity this week. I hope so. It's spring and if bloggers can't find a few R2BCs in the first week of spring it's going to be long sad summer for them. The linky's open all week....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Yedidya Bazaar - The End

They let you drop off stuff for the Yedidya Bazaar on the Sunday before. However, everything remains piled high in a store-room in the bags and boxes it came in, until the following Saturday night.

The beginning, every section is piled high like this
When Shabbat goes out the evening the before the bazaar, the volunteers arrive and they stay half the night  unpacking, sorting, folding, piling and hanging. There are books, household items, toys, and accessories but by far the majority of the bazaar is clothing. Women's, men's, youth girls', youth boys', little girls', little boys', and babies' sections. And each section has tops, bottoms, sweaters, coats, suits and dresses, nightwear, sportswear, shoes, etc...

I cannot help on Saturday night as I have DD at home. But first thing Sunday after I've dropped her at school, I'm on to it. I, and about five other regular Sunday sorters, greet the steady flow of bags and boxes still arriving all day Sunday. We are a team who meet up once a year as the Sunday crew. They say that nobody is indispensable but we sort of are.

The doors open at 4pm and as the first customers arrive, I slip away to collect DD from school. Sometimes I bring her back to choose some books but this time I chose some for her before I left. The toys are already too young for her. Doors close at 9pm. And open again at 4pm on Monday, closing finally at 9pm on the same day. That's it. Two days and it's over.

I've never seen the end. I only ever have before pictures. So tonight while my nephew was here, I slipped back to take a look. I also had to return because I'd taken some books and a couple of other items the day before and I'd not had any money with me.

The End, and every section finished like this
I arrived at 8.20 pm. With 40 minutes to go there were still some things left that would be sent to charity shops. Lisa, the new organiser this year, was sitting in the front desk looking exhausted. Some people were till browsing and choosing. I picked up another book, took my photo, paid my money, and bade fond farewells to the Sunday Sorters who, by chance, had also all come back for the finish (except for one who has a young child at home). See y'all next year!!

On returning home at not quite 9 pm, I remembered three box games I'd not brought down from the Yedidya cupboard because I didn't want DD to see that I was donating them. I had forgotten to take them to the Bazaar. I have officially beaten my own record by starting next year's collection before this year was even over. Go me.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cousins At The Marathon

We pushed ourselves further this year. Instead of stopping at the end of the road to see the full marathon runners and the half marathon runners, we walked up to the top to catch the 10k runners. Well we had an ulterior motive. My nephew was running the 10k. We saw him and got this lovely photo before he ran on into the horizon. Off again with the crowd.

He didn't wear the kilt, in case you were wondering.

So we passed the bouncy castles and other activities for the kids at the end of our road and we turned up towards the old city. There was something extra magical about seeing all the runners descending from the ancient city of Jerusalem. Like it was the original marathon run from ancient times or something. The photo looks a bit cartoony as it's cropped from a much wider vista.

We saw lots of runners we knew including many we didn't know were running. One of my heads of department from college suddenly called my name as she jogged passed. Friends older and younger. Past pupils and parents. And finally the head of English at the school I teach in walked passed us heading in the opposite direction. "What are you dong?" I asked. "Where are you going?"

She had arrived at the central bus station from staying out of town over night with her married daughter and had to walk home - a three hour walk and probably a good 10k - because there were no buses. Actually there were some buses but they were being used to block the side roads.

DD liked seeing the police horses best.

And when I got home I saw hundreds of photos all over facebook of people running the 10k right past where we were standing and I'd missed them all. How could that have happened? I guess with 30,000 runners you can't see everyone. Although they were spread over five different races and only the big three ran past where we were standing.

Kol Hakavod to everyone who ran today. It was a great morning to run and to watch.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Usual Springtime Events - R2BC

This week sees three of our regular springtime events. Three very good Reasons 2B Cheerful. I'm linking up with Mich on Mummy from the Heart where you can find more R2BCs.

After 6 years of refusing to dress up for Purim, DD suddenly decided that she wanted to be a unicorn this year. I was delighted. I took her down to the toy shop and said she could choose whatever she wanted from the costumes and accessories, Here the toy shops stock up on costumes espeially for Purim, like in America before Hallowe'en. With only one child I was willing to pay for whatever she wanted. There was no unicorn and she didn't want anything else so she came home and made her own costume. It was only a head-dress worn with her normal  clothes but this was a huge step forward for us.

The Yedidya Bazaar
The Yedidya Bazaar is next Sunday and Monday. I have a top cupboard where I save things for the bazaar. The first item went into it about one week after last year's bazaar. Don't you hate it when that happens? Anyway, the cupboard was full and I pulled everything out last weekend. The picture shows my hoard before I've even finished. There are a few games and toys I didn't put on the bed because I know that DD won't let them go if she sees them. We also went through DD's clothes and thinned them out. Remember that we took a whole load of games and books to her school market only a few weeks ago.

In the end we have 10 bags of stuff for the Bazaar, 3 bags to return to a friend, 2 bags of outgrown clothes for my downstairs neighbour (aged 4), and a couple of items that DD's very slim friend might like. Result! (Although where we get it all from every year still baffles me.)

Jerualem Marathon
Tomorrow we are bunking school (along with 90% of the pupils) to go and cheer on my nephew in the Jerusalem Marathon, He's running the 10k and the route goes relatively near where we live. Not as near as the full and the half marathon routes which we usually go to watch but near enough to walk to. We'll also see the full and half marathon runners but we won't be standing at the end of the road with our neighbours like last year.

He is threatening to run in his kilt (more of a tartan skirt than a kilt) which he wore for his Purim costume. Well at least we won't miss him if he does.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Limiting And Empowering Beliefs - #Breakthrough 5

This was last week's Breakthrough session but I got a bit bogged down with it (and then it was Purim).

I'll explain. The session was about the ways in which we limit ourselves and thereby limit our lives. We are so sure of what we can't do and what can't possibly be, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I tried to do the homework an interesting thing happened.

The homework was in two parts. Part one was to write down all my strengths, capabilities, and all my successes. No problem. I know what I'm capable of but success in this big wide world mostly depends on other people playing along - that's where the doubts set in. I mean, I know I can write that great novel but someone has to agree to publish it right? I know I can teach another couple of courses at my college but they need to give me the hours. I know I could write great publicity posts for Filofax and Eilat hotels but they need to agree to collaborate with me.

OK, enough of that because the limitation comes when you don't knock on the doors, send the emails, do the diet, write the book, in the first place. If you are ready with the best product at the right time and you send enough emails, you'll eventually nail it. If you worry about if its worth starting you'll never have anything to sell.

Part two was to write a detailed description of the life you want to be living. I cannot tell you how hard this was. Every time I thought of something that I'd like I damped it down to be realistic in my limited way. For example, I kept writing about earning enough money to live comfortably in the way we live now. I can write anything I want so why write that I want to go on a real holiday once a year when I could write that we can go anywhere we want whenever we want - we're that rich. Why write about minor improvements to my apartment, a new sofa and new windows? Why not write that we buy a fantastic new place to live with a proper garden or a bigger balcony?

Some of it is the Maeve Binchy Syndrome. I love Maeve Binchy. Simple feel-good books in which someone has a good idea for a business. They work hard, all the neighbours come together to help babysit and offer their relevant skills for free, and a few pages later they're successful, rich, and famous. This is also known as 'suspended disbelief' or the 'pinch of salt effect'. But could there be something in it?

I think it was Marisa Peer (not Miri Sapir as Israelis often mishear- a normal Israeli name) who said that if you ask for enough money to get by you'll get just that - enough money to get by. In other words you get what you ask for. Or rather you get what you aim for.

So why why why is it so hard not be so darn 'realistic'?

I'm still working on writing the life I want to be living. It's not all about money. It's also about health, happiness, and balance, I enjoy having time to potter. Pottering doesn't make money. But I'd prefer to have the time to potter than to be earning a fantastic amount of money and have no time in which to enjoy it.

One particular thing that Devorah said in this week's podcast that resonated with me is: Imagine if you had a an enormous amount of money in the bank or from passive income, so that you didn't have to go to work. Your children are grown up and you have no commitments on your time. What would do with your life? The thing you come up with when all obstacles are wiped out of the picture, is probably your life's calling.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Carnivale! - Reasons 2B Cheerful

It's Purim this weekend. Basically it's the Jewish Carnivale, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, etc... Of course we have a religious story to go with it along the lines of: they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat. We have a miracle that we attach to it and traditional food, songs and blessings. Seriously though, it's all about celebrating the spring equinox as it is all over the world and with every religion. (Trust me on this, I've done research.)

The actual day of Purim is Sunday (or Monday in Jerusalem and other walled cities - I forget why.) But today the schools went wild. I was at DD's school this morning. Everyone came dressed up. Even DD agreed to wear a costume of sorts this year (More about that later.)

Vending machines meet Buzz Lightyear

See the princesses in the background?

The most brilliant costume imo
Marge and Homer Simpson

The Principal and the drama teacher

More teachers
Even the adults dressed up
The children exchanged Mishloah Manot - food parcels of nosh that they made and decorated. There was a fair with the children manning the stalls and each class rotating to different venues. There was candyfloss and popcorn and the grand finale was five big bouncy castles on the basketball court.

Then my batteries died and I came home to write this blog.

I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Mummy from the Heart.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

There's Always One...

Can you spot the snail?
A week ago I gave my students an English test. We worked on the material beforehand, I made sure they really really knew it. I designed the test so that they would pass.

It was a comprehension test with a text about the life of Henrietta Szold. There were 20 vocabulary words to translate into Hebrew. Then there were 13 questions to answer about the text.

As with all tests, you have to assign points to each answer. The easiest way to do this is to, if possible, have all the points adding up to 100 so that you don't have  to do that percentage calculation at the end of each paper. I gave 20 points for the vocabulary - one point for each word, and 6 points for each of the other 13 questions - 78 points. This gave me 20 + 78 = 98 points in total.

Here it is.
What should I do about the missing two points? Simple. Rather than playing around with the maths and giving fractions (or decimals) of points for some questions, I decided to award the last two points for writing their name,

A couple of questions were, 'in your opinion' questions so there was a lot of leeway for getting it right. There is no right for someone's opinion but the answer does have to be relevant and not too silly. ('Silly' is defined at my discretion.)

Everyone got all the questions correct. (One student was away so she has to make up the test.) So that's 100% across the board, right? Except that one student didn't write her name.

I nearly gave her 98%. I very really nearly did. But in the end I awarded those two points to two other questions that possibly required greater thought and a more detailed answer.

There's always one, isn't there?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Deborah's Friends - R2BC

We had our annual Deborah's Friends evening last night. Our dear friend Deborah left this world ten years ago and every year since, her childhood, teenage, and college friends, about 30 of us in Israel, have been getting together around her Yahtzeit in March to celebrate friendship.

We always have an activity. We've had formal lectures, practical demonstrations, informal talks, and intimate soirees (usually if the weather is bad) of conversation and discussion. Someone gives a short Bible lesson. we serve a light supper, and we make a collection for a local charity - Zichron Menachem who give information, support, activities, visits, sibling treats, outings and holidays to families with children who have cancer.

This year we decided to make it all about Deborah as it's the 10th anniversary of her passing. Twenty friends reminisced and told stories about our times with Deborah. We looked at pictures going back 40 years. We were all together at summer camps, winter camps, a gap year on a kibbutz, and weekend visits. In between there were inter-city phone calls.  Deborah grew up in Cardiff and the rest of us are from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sunderland, and Glasgow. (We were only allowed to call after 6 pm and calls were strictly limited - remember how expensive it was to call out of town in the 1970s?). We were college students together, at each other's weddings (well not mine obviously) and watched each others' children growing up (mine is still growing up obviously).

Deborah, aged about 19
After University many of us moved to Israel and kept in touch. Deborah and others stayed in the UK (although some of their grown-up children are now moving here). A couple moved to the US and one to Denmark. There was a void between student days and the internet when it was harder to keep in touch but we now have contact with almost everyone again.

Deborah's husband wrote a moving letter from London as did another close friend. Her sister, Lisa sent a letter from Tel Aviv and Deborah's son, now living in Israel, came with his wife. We laughed and we cried - but mostly laughed.

As a result of Deborah's illness Lisa started BRACHA (which in Hebrew means Blessing). This is an organisation based in Israel to give information, support, advice and to advocate for people with the BRCA 1/2  genetic mutation and anyone living with a high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It's an amazing initiative that has saved and will save many lives. If only Deborah had had this information 20 years ago when she first became ill.

I feel truly blessed to have been part of such a wonderful community of friends. All good people who have journeyed together over 40 years and still enjoy each other's company.

Back on track with Reasons 2B Cheerful taking the weekend slot and the Linky is with Mich at Mummy from the Heart for the month of March.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Marching On With #Breakthrough 4

This week has been busy. I, who never go out in the evening, have two events this week. One I wrote about yesterday and one is tomorrow evening. Tomorrow will be a very late night out of town so my friend is coming for a sleep over with her 6 yo son. He and DD are great friends so they'll have fun. We've done this before when my friend has gone out for the evening but this time she'll be hanging out at my place while I go out.

Of course this means that I was supposed to clean the apartment today. She told me not to but I have my pride. However, I got home from school at 2 pm (today is my early day when I leave at 1 pm) and found some absolutely pressing things that needed seeing to on the computer. No, not watching you tube - sending in my payable hours for February, doing some light editing and translating that I'd promised a friend, answering some emails from college, etc...

Before I knew it, it was time to collect DD from school. Then I had to make supper because 1. my nephew was coming for supper and 2. I've made a new month resolution as part of the whole Breakthrough process that we sit down and eat a healthy supper at around 6 pm rather than remembering that I've not fed DD at 7.30 and she's been filling up on crisps and baby-belle cheeses from the fridge. (In fact I'm no longer buying crisps.)

That took us to 7 pm when nephew left and DD remembered a big chunk of Hebrew homework that's due tomorrow. That took almost an hour. Then it had to be hair-wash night because I'm going out tomorrow and we have our friends here. So now she's finishing off in the shower and I'm blogging.

I had to blog today. I'm still trying to claw my way back into the top 1,000 of the TOTS100 and this month my rank has risen by 139! I'm still 214 away from 999 but it made me happy. Another Breakthrough promise is to blog more consistently this year - I'm aiming for at least 10 posts a month. I only managed 9 in February. Well it's a short month isn't it?

I also have to wash my hair because I'm leaving home an hour after returning from work tomorrow. The dishes from supper are still in the sink and that's another resolution - they will not be left until tomorrow morning. And of course, I have to be in bed by 11 because sleep is essential for achieving everything else.

I don't know how this happened that I didn't get to do any cleaning tonight - although I will fold and put away the laundry on the spare bed and tidy up a bit. One good thing is that I'll definitely do that early morning thing tomorrow as I absolutely must do some cleaning before school. I can't call it a Miracle Morning as I won't be doing any meditating, visualizing or reading self-development material but it will be a miracle if I do it,

This week's Breakthrough session was about not being a child and expecting everything to fall in your lap without any effort on your part. It was a, "Just Do It!" message. Nothing new, but reinforcing the fact that we're more than half-way through the course and I'm still planning and writing but not doing very much yet. March 1st was a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

So I didn't clean my apartment but I taught all morning in school, I did some admin, I cooked us a healthy supper which we ate without resorting to snacks either before or after, DD's homework got done, she's hair-washed and ready for bed - I know it's 9 pm but that's par for us. (I'm trying to make her bedtime earlier but it rarely happens). We're going to read one chapter of Heidi now. Then I'm going to wash my hair, do the dishes and tidy up some. I'm satisfied with today.