Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Our Kinder Surprise

Kinder Egg Heaven

DD's School Fair is this Friday. Like last year, DD and a couple of friends are having a toy stall. Unlike last year, there will be real money involved. But everything has to be 1 shekel or less (about 20p) so we're not talking about fortunes. And the kids get to keep any money they make. It's a shame there's no charity involved or anything going to school funds but it's still a great opportunity for us to get some stuff out of the house and into other people's houses. Tee hee hee. 

World Cup Footballers
We had quite a few games and puzzles going to the Yedidya Bazaar, which coincidently is on Sunday and Monday next week, and I said DD could take them to school for her stall. However, she very wisely decided, imo, that these games are worth far more than 1 shekel and she'd rather they went to the Yedidya Bazaar where people who couldn't afford nice games could buy them for 3 shekels. And the money goes to charity rather than just for her and her friends to be able to buy more sweets. "Where's the goodness in that?" she asked with her earnest face on.

Hello Kitties
Then we had the most brilliant idea, even if I say so myself. Absolutely inspired. Thanks to about five years of Kinder Eggs and ice lollies with figures in them, we had an enormous collection of miniature toys and nothing to do with them. Hello Kitties, Angry Birds, World Cup Football figures, spinners, cars, little animals, Disney princesses, and tiny Bratz dolls. We sorted them all out and made sets in sandwich bags for 1 shekel each.

35 bags in all

I found another bag of spinning tops that I'd bought for a Hannuka party once and never used so they will go for a shekel each. And see those coloured necklace cords on the final photo? They were from party favours - flashing balls that you wear around your neck whilst disco dancing in the dark, left over from my nephew's Bar Mitzva four years ago. The flashes had died so I removed the cords and attached them to those little dolls that came out of Kinder Eggs.

Angry Birds

Who says I'm not creative

DD has 35 bags to sell for a shekel each. I told her that whatever doesn't sell she should give away at the end.

This is the last year we will be able to do this of course, because I'm going minimalist next month. I took two big bags of stuff to Yedidya today and I've got two more big bags and the booster seat waiting to go tomorrow.

But for now back to the January paperwork....

Monday, January 29, 2018

February Celebration and Project

A decent haul for the Yedidya Bazaar next week.
As announced at the beginning of the year, I am choosing a celebration and a project for each month. January was celebrating Turning over a new leaf. The project was to organize all my papers, teaching materials, paperwork of every kind, and be up to date with all work assignments, grading and preparing courses. I've necessarily had to extend January's project into February as my students are sitting their mid-semester exam on Feb 6th and I'll have 40 papers to mark before the following weekend. And there are one or two other jobs that need finishing off, as I mentioned yesterday.

I also said that February had to start early. The celebration for February is Spring. The almond trees are beginning to blossom, the weather seems to be getting a bit warmer (though I've not given up hope completely for a late snowfall next Sunday - it's happened before), and the days are getting longer at the evening end.

On Wednesday it's Tu B'shvat (the 15th of the lunar month of Shvat). This is a minor festival celebrating he new year for trees. We eat lots of different fruits, we plant trees, we sing songs about the almond blossoms, and we look forward to the annual pilgrimages to see the hillsides covered in anemones (that's poppies to you and me).

And the  project is Spring Cleaning. It's a sort of extension of getting the paperwork in order but it's also one final declutter towards minimalism, actual cleaning with soap and water, and possibly some new furniture, but only if I get rid of some old furniture first.

I was going to have a more nature orientated project in keeping with the Tu B'Shvat theme and keep the spring cleaning for March when it's warmer. However, they brought the Yedidya Bazaar forward by a month this year so I've got to get all my clutter over to them this week. And DD's school market is on Friday, so she is taking a load of old toys that I had to get down yesterday to sort through.

I am pleased to see that my Yedidya Bazaar haul is nowhere near as big as last year. A sure sign that all this decluttering is having some long term effect. However, what's in the photo is only what I put away in October when I did my 500 Clutters Challenge. I fully intend to get all this stuff over to Yedidya and then spend the weekend going round looking for more clutter as the final drop off is on Saturday night. For the record, I only managed 250 clutters for the challenge but that's because I refused to tackle my wardrobe which still has outfits in it from 30 years ago.

I'm sorry not to be helping at the Yedidya Bazaar this year as for the second year, I'm teaching on Sunday. Give me a few more years and I'll be able to leave DD at home while I go and help in the mighty marathon sorting that takes place all night on Saturday. Or maybe DD will come and help too.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

January Extension, February Early Start

Here's an update on the January Project. A quick reminder - January's project was sorting out all paperwork, filing, employment forms and finances for the coming work year. In Israel the tax year finishes on December 31st. (I'm not self employed so I don't have to get tax returns in but we have to set up our tax positions for the coming year in January if we work for more than one employer.)

I finally tackled all the photocopied papers I've been storing for years and not using. I had five box files which I've condensed down to two. (See the photos.) The pile in front of the boxes is papers that are photocopied on one side only. I'm going to ask the local kindergartens if they want it for drawing paper. Next to that on the right is paper for the recycling bin. In front are files for school and college that I can use now - long lost copies of lessons I still copy regularly. Also on this pile are some packages I made up to give to colleagues who I know can use them.

Reader, I found lessons about phone boxes, tape recorders, and posting letters and waiting for replies. Cultural references to life in the UK including the milkman. I found computer printouts on long sheets of accordion-folded paper with the holes down the sides. I found photocopies of texts of topical interest about food and nutrition, women and work, people around the world, science..... if you still live in 1998. Pages of old fashioned typewriter print, pages of hand-written and photocopied exercises, pages so crammed full of small print that you'd never give them to students now. But back then we were so grateful to have some photocopied materials and there was no internet to provide anything. I found practice papers from exams that no longer exist.

(Yes that is my laundry drying in the background.
In the winter I bring it in from the balcony at night.)
I'm a bit disappointed that I still have two boxes of papers. I've not touched these papers for years (except to declutter once when I got it down from six boxes to a feeble five) so in theory it should all just go. I also told myself that I'd keep only one of each lesson and not all the copies of it. But if I already think I might use it, why throw away copies that I'll have to copy again? Doesn't make sense to do that.

The  January project was going great. I thought I'd finished my freelance work, I did my reports, I cleared out my teaching materials, I was up to date with my grading. I still had to organize the study and file bills, receipts, work forms and pay slips but this is only a couple of hours of sorting. January was winding down nicely and I was ready to jump into February's  project (to be announced).

Suddenly I got hit with a load more paperwork. The freelance writing is only half done. I'd conveniently forgotten about the other half of the deal. I found out yesterday that I have to write a summary of what we've done this semester for each of my nine school classes. I'd stuck my head in the sand about the fact that my students have an exam on the 6th of Feb. So that will be 40 exam papers to grade.

January is bleeding into February. In fact I've given it an extension until February 10th. And, if the truth be known, February had to start today. I need to be ready for two major events in it on Friday and Sunday, and Thursday is too late to get it all done. It's a fair swap.

More about February tomorrow. Suffice to say, life isn't so neat that one episode finishes on he 30th or 31st (or even on a neat 28th) of each calendar month and the next one starts on the 1st of the next month. Events that fall at the beginning of a month sometimes have to be prepared before the month starts. Such is life. All is good. Hectic but good.

Meet me back here tomorrow evening to talk about the February Project.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

R2BC - Play, Cook, Read

Here are my reasons 2B cheerful for this week. It was a good week. I'm on the R2BC linky over at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart if you'd like to read other entries from all over the world.

Two Orchestras [noch].
Remember how I went to Hell and back (literally) to get DD's clarinet. Well imagine my surprise when she came home with a letter inviting her to join two orchestras. One is the school orchestra and one is a Jerusalem orchestra for children from different schools. The latter is back in Hell but they have a bus to and from school.

I told a friend that DD is in two orchestras. I heard a hint of pride in my voice, or it could have verged on smugness. My friend was suitably impressed and asked what instrument she plays. I replied, "I don't know. Nothing. The clarinet goes back and forth to school every week but I've never heard her play anything." 

In light of the lack of practice and enthusiasm, I assumed that all the kids were invited and that most of  them would do it. I'd already made my protest (and got over it) so I just kept quiet and sent back the permission slip. One parent asked if it was possible to only be in the school orchestra. Maybe her son already  has an activity on Wednesdays and the JO is from 4 - 6 pm so it's quite a commitment. And it's not free but I'm happy to pay if there's a chance we could possibly be a musical family after all. I've always fancied that.

On Wednesday morning on my way to the bus I passed a few of DD's classmates. None of them had their instruments with them. I asked if they were going to the orchestra and none of them were. When I went to meet the bus at 6.10 outside school, I was surprised to see that it was a mini-bus holding about 15 kids. There are 60 kids in our 4th grade. Hmmm. Turns out us musical types are an elite few. ;~p

No Shopping, More Cooking
Very little shopping this week after last week's supermarket haul but lots of cooking as the vegetables do need prepping before they pass the point of no consume. This weekend I made another big vegetable soup - this time to eat over the week as there's no more room in the freezer. Roasted cauliflower. Baked potatoes, and more latkes (because there was still room in the latke box in the freezer from last week).

The Famous Five
I thought I'd written about DD's amazing birthday present from my cousin, of a boxed set of The Famous Five. No matter, it will eventually get a whole blog post to itself. I read the first book to her but I insisted she start reading the next book herself. She's not a big reader because she thinks it will be  hard slog. Remember that she doesn't read any English at school so all her educational and most of her incidental reading is in Hebrew. Anyway, I made her read one chapter last Sunday. Not only did she surprise herself by finding it easy, she also enjoyed it. So I implemented a chapter a day rule, to be read before screens.

I distinctly heard myself also saying that the rule included 10 minutes of clarinet practice before screens but apparently I must have said it in my head because that didn't happen.......yet.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cooking Up A Storm

I went a bit mad as I had a free delivery on loyalty points. 
As I wrote yesterday, on Wednesday evening I did a supermarket order online and scheduled it to arrive between 09.00 and 12.00 on Friday morning. I woke up at 07.00 to find a list of items they were out of in my phone messages. Each item came with a suggested switch which I could accept or reject. I accepted all but one item and there were two others that they didn't have but had no suggestions for. No problem, I could live without these three items.

I sat smuggly in the warmth of indoors on Friday morning while a thunder and lightning storm raged outside. It was pure luck of course. I only do an online order about once every three months when my loyalty points give me a free delivery, but only for online orders. I take this opportunity to stock up on cleaning stuff (an 8kg bag of laundry powder for example, toilet cleaner, Fairy Palmolive?, etc...). toiletries, paper goods, and non-perishable food, along with my regular weekly shop.

Pickled cucumbers, latkes, vegetable noodle soup,
and a shepherd's pie (uncooked).
I did have to pop into the small and more expensive grocery around the corner on Thursday because there are always things I forget. Right after buying them I remember that you can add to your order online. But still, I'm not going to let the supermarket packer decide which colour hair rinse I'm going to use and the grocery always has a convenient loss-leader of three 500g bags of pasta for 10 shekels instead of the 4.90 each at the supermarket.

And I popped into the health food shop for some ground flaxseed and some nutritional yeast. I came out with rather more than that and this cost a small fortune.

There are pitfalls with online ordering, not least that I'm working in Hebrew which is not my first language, but I've learnt how to avoid most of them. For example, all the pictures are the same size. So you obviously order the packet or jar that costs 7.50 shekels instead of the one costing 11.90 only to find out when it arrives that the 7.50 was for 250g and the 11.90  was for 500g. I've learnt to read the quantities carefully and they also give you the price per 100g on most things which is very helpful.

Yummy pesto
I went a bit mad this week as I've been lazy recently and eating too many meals of crisps and sandwiches. Partly because of the cold weather, partly because I'm tired when I come in from work and in no mood to cook, and partly because DD has such a small range of acceptable food that it takes all the pleasure out of preparing something nice. However, new year, new leaf, and I was determined to have healthy things that I can pull out of the freezer in the morning and heat up for supper.

I thought I was being so careful. I scrutinized the quantities, I read the labels to make sure I was getting real food and not processed imitations, I took into account that extremely cheap/kg produce is often heavy so one or two can cost more than you bargained for. Although most of the order was fine, I did mess up on a number of things.

* I thought I ordered 2kg of potatoes but it turned out to be 2 sacks totaling about 10kg.
* I did order 2kg of cucumbers but who knew cucumbers are so light. And for some reason, I accidently ordered the organic cucumbers that are double the price. Let's hope organic cucs last longer as I've rather a lot to get through.
* Too many bananas. You've heard the expression - the shelf life of a banana? So have I but I forgot. I see frozen bananas for smoothies in my future.
* When I choose one cabbage and one cauliflower, I buy a small one of each. I now have two vegetables in my fridge the size of bowling balls.
* I ordered 1kg of cheese off the block. DD likes grated cheese on her salad and on her pasta. I thought of asking for it to be grated but then I thought I might like to slice some of it for a sandwich, so I left it as a block of cheese - or so I thought. They only sliced the whole lot! DD went mad. I've been trying to slice it into really thin strips for her salad. It works but it's not the same.
* I thought I ordered 2kg of avocado but I got 2 avocadoes. Small ones.

The shepherd's pie ready to eat with a cheese topping. 
The first thing I did when the order came at 11.55, was to make us both salads for lunch, heavy on the cucumber. I then pickled a big jar of cucumbers whilst boiling a big pot of potatoes for mashing. Once you have mashed potatoes the world is your oyster. I didn't even have a plan. In the end they became two shepherd's pies with a vegetable bottom instead of the shepherd, and a cheesy potato pie. One shepherd's pie was for lunch today with more salad and the other two items in the freezer.

Some more potatoes became latkes. Five out of ten made it into the freezer. A pot of vegetable noodle soup for the weekend and a very big pot of pureed vegetable soup for the freezer. Two jars of pesto - one in the freezer one in the fridge. At this point I removed the ice trays from the freezer to make more room.

Thick pureed vegetable soup for the freezer. 
One of the things I rejected was dark soy sauce instead of light soy sauce. As soon as I've picked some up we'll be having stir-fry. I fancy coriander dumplings for the soup, roast cauliflower, and mushroom stuffed cabbage leaves in tomato sauce. However I've done enough cooking for one weekend so this will have to wait.

Meanwhile I've set myself a challenge of not buying anything more until the end of February - except salad ingredients and grated cheese, and the light soy sauce, and DD's Shabbat treat. I've told DD there'll be no more crisps for a couple of weeks to encourage her to help me get through the bananas.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Blogiversary R2BC

DD loved bowling yesterday. 
CORRECTION: It's not my 8th Blogiversary, it's only my 7th. I made a mistake.

Today is my 7th Blogiversary. Happy Blogiversary to me! I think this is the longest time I've ever stuck at anything (besides teaching and being a mother - and no choice with those). So I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart as part of my Blogiversary celebrations. (Actually there are no other Blogiversary celebrations - this is it.) And here are my reasons 2B cheerful for this week.

It's my 7th Blogiversary. I may have mentioned that already. Almost 870,000 views over 920 posts. This year I want to break the 1,000,000 views. I'm not sure about passing 1,000 posts. I think maybe it's time to weed out some of the weaker posts from the beginning. And the posts where the photos or videos have mysteriously disappeared, which is extremely annoying. Anyhoo, congrats to me.

I finished writing my reports this week. I also caught up with a load of grading for my online college course. Still a fair bit of college grading to do. I also got completely up to date with my freelance writing.

Just as I was planning all the other Project January jobs I was going to get done this weekend, the second half of the freelance assignment arrived. So that's another 10 hours I'd not planned for in the coming week. (Although it does mean it will all be done in January, which is what I wanted).

Stormy Weather
We had another big rain storm last night. DD didn't go to school today. It's hardly worth going on a Friday morning anyway as they finish at 11.45 and do only 'light' lessons, so when the weather is bad on a Friday I let her stay home if she wants to.

It didn't snow. Although no one wants snow on a Friday/Saturday, we were hoping for maybe no school on Thursday or a bad snowfall that would give us Sunday off. No such luck. However there is another storm forecast for the end of next week....

DD went bowling for a birthday party yesterday evening. She loved it. She's asked me at least three times since last night when she can go again. I'm delighted to have something that she enjoys that's close by and that we can do together. Could we have found our sport?

Online Delivery
As I watched the thunderstorm this morning, I smugly waited for my supermarket delivery that I'd ordered on Wednesday and scheduled for this morning. I only occasionally do online orders. It's usually when I need to buy another 8kg bag of laundry powder and/or when I have enough loyalty points for a free online delivery. When these two events collide I take the opportunity to stock up on non-perishables as well as my weekly shop.

There are some pitfalls to online orders but that's for a whole other post. Possibly tomorrow if I get done cooking up the 10kg of potatoes I accidently ordered (I thought I was ordering 2kg but turns out it was 2 sacks) and finding things to do with the 30 [small Middle-Eastern] cucumbers that make up 2kg of cucumbers. (Who knew cucumbers were so light?)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Report Card Friday - R2BC

Hahaha, it was 19 degrees C today and the forecast is hotter tomorrow.
I'm still praying for a snow day before the end of the winter though.
Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. I'm on the linky at Mich's Mummy from the Heart where it's  being hosted for January.

Here in Israel we have two semesters instead of three terms. Report cards at the end of each semester of course. Mine have to be in by Sunday and I've written 29 out of 44. I'll do another 9 on Saturday evening after Shabbat and the final 6 on Sunday afternoon after school. I got an extension on those final 6 because one mother requested that I hold off writing the reports until her child had given in some homework and they are going to help him with it over the weekend. Luckily for me his class teacher agreed.

I could have got another few reports written this afternoon but I somehow lost one of the pages saved somewhere in my computer. Or not saved at all. Anyway, it disappeared with 8 reports written in English and translated into Hebrew. Ugh! It was very frustrating at the time but in those situations you just have to redo it straight away. By the time I'd finished it was already time to stop for Shabbat.

January Project - Paperwork
Writing my reports is part of the January Project so I'm doubly glad that they will be done by the end of Sunday.

Park Outing
I was able to get so much work done today because Deed was at school this morning and then after school her friend's dad took them both out for lunch and to play in some super duper park somewhere on the other side of Jerusalem (Park Mexico for those who know it). So that was an extra five hours of peace for me in which to work.

To top it all off, we are invited out for dinner tonight so I didn't even have to stop to cook.

Wishing everyone a great weekend,
lots of love from
Self Satisfied in Jerusalem.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Harry Potter Cluedo

My brother and his girlfriend gave Deed the game of Cluedo for her birthday. It's the same game as we played as kids but with a Harry Potter theme.

Gone are Captain Peacock and Miss Scarlet and instead we have the characters from Harry Potter. The players are the Gryffindor pupils, the suspects are various villains, and the crime is committed with either a magical object or a spell. Interestingly, he who must not be named is not named. Voldermort doesn't appear anywhere in the game. (Phew! I don't want that evil dastard [I said dastard] in my house.)

The board is divided into locations from the books such as Hogwarts, Gringotts, and Malfoy Manor. Other fun innovations include doors that can be blocked so that you are trapped in a location, Dark Arts cards that slow your progress but can be nullified by Help cards (spells, items or allied wizards), and floo powder counters that enable you to travel via the fireplaces in some of the locations - but only when they are lit.

Deed got the game on a Sunday afternoon at my sister's while we were in London. She was desperate to play and since you need three people (and we were going home to a two-person household), we roped my mum into a game that evening back at her place. We made the mistake of thinking the Dark Dark Arts curses applied to everyone every time (we didn't read them carefully enough) and so we forfeited all our floo powders before we had the chance to use most of them - which eliminated a lot of the fun and slowed down the game considerably. And we got preoccupied with collecting help cards instead of trying to solve the mystery.

My brother's girlfriend also wanted to play but she had a prior arrangement on the Sunday evening. So she decided that their date night on the following Tuesday would be to go and play Cluedo with Deed at my sister's where she would be staying the night while I went out with friends. (Who says romance is dead?) They played the whole game only to find out at the end that they had the wrong mystery cards in the envelope and so nobody actually dunnit. Deed admitted to me afterwards that it was her fault because she'd accidently picked from the location cards twice. They didn't start again as they'd already been playing for hours. Obviously as the game was unsolvable. Oh well, the game's the thing.

When we were starting to pack to come home, I insisted that my mum join us for one final game because I knew that the two of us would not be able to play unless we had a guest who understood English. This means that most of Deed's friends won't be playing it for another couple of years. This time we got to the end without incident. It takes a lot of practice to become a good wizard.

Today Deed's friend came round to play. She happens to be an English speaker so we of course grabbed the opportunity to play Cluedo. It was surprisingly easy to explain the game and we had fun.

Deed thinks this is one of the best presents she's ever had. I lie awake in bed trying to work out a way the two of us could play it together without a third.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The First R2BC Of 2018

This was England (not all of it) in the snow a month ago.
Of course January also brings us in Jerusalem the hope of a few snow days.
Snow days are when there's 1mm of snow, school is canceled and it melts by 9 am.
So that's actually another R2BC - 4!
Here we are back again for another year of Reasons 2B Cheerful. Just call me Pollyanna. The linky is back with Mich at Mummy from the Heart for January. I'm joining in as usual with my upbeat buddies.

New Year
Not that I'm flogging this New Year business like a dead horse but seriously, it's the New Year. That's a wonderful reason 2B cheerful in itself. Even if I didn't have anything to be cheerful about I'd be cheerful just because it's the New Year and I'm dreaming of all the opportunities it's going to present us with 2B cheerful over the next 12 months.

After a couple of years of writing 90 blog posts, last year I set myself the challenge of 120 blog posts or an average of 10 posts per month. I managed 130. It was also the year that I came down from beyond the 1,000 rank on TOTS100 and back to a more comfortable rank in the 500s. This was nothing to do with my blogging but only because they changed the calculation variables back to something similar to what they were last time I was in the top 500. I'm still tantalizingly close to being in the top 500 but not quite there, so that is my blogging goal for the coming year.

I know that's a strange R2BC but I'm not actually in pain. I have a bad cough and couldn't possibly teach. In fact I can't do anything except sit and suck Strepsils. The moment I speak or do anything physical I am hit by a coughing fit. So of course I had to stay home from school for two days. And whilst home, I made big headway on my freelance writing job. This has taken loads of pressure off and it contributes to my January project. Win-win-win-lose. (The lose is the school, my pupils, and the poor teachers who had to cover for me - sorry guys.)

Possibility Of Snow
See the photo caption above.

Minus 1
Somats Gotta Give
That's it for cheerful things. Unfortunately I'm missing a birthday party this evening that I really wanted to go to. And of course I won't get paid for the days I missed at school (except that I will get paid for the other work... except I was supposed to do both... except you have to pace yourself and you can't do everything... here endeth the first lesson of 2018.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Celebrations And Projects

Over the past few years people I know, especially bloggers and vloggers, have been looking to tackle the new year in a more effective or meaningful way than the old fashioned resolutions. I've seen intentions, goals, an inspirational word for the year, affirmations, and anti-resolutions, to name a few.

I'm not going to lie, I have New Year's Resolutions and some of them will stick and some won't. Some of them will appear again another year and some won't bother. However, I also needed a more structured way to tackle the year ahead. So for each month of 2018 I'm going to celebrate something and undertake a project.

January is the New Year for plans and preparations. I have school  reports to write for the end of the semester, an exam to give and then mark for my college students, I have a study full of age old photo-copies that it would be a shame to just chuck without making use of them, and other old records of taxes, pension plans, and national insurance that need scanning. I have also taken on a freelance writing job that is due to finish, including all the requested changes and edits, by the end of January. It would be nice to have next semester all planned and prepared too.

Thus the celebration for January is "Planning And Preparing" and the project is "Paperwork!" Tadah! I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

About This New Year

From 'A Year of Amazingness' by Rachel Bright
Not only was it a new year yesterday, but it's an even numbered one! Odd numbers, even for birthdays, are less exciting. Odd numbers are almost like half years in my opinion. Often they turn out a bit crap, maybe because I don't expect much from them. Really I should start thinking in two-year cycles. I think this might work better for me. I'll consider it for next year. However, this year it's a nice round 2018 and I'm psyched.

Going to work on New Year's Day is as hard as having to work on Christmas Day but for different reasons. I love New Year. I'm full of hope and resolutions, etc. There is so much I want to do and achieve that it's frustrating to be spending the day at work when I just want to get started on being amazingly fabulous. I know there is a weekend coming but by Friday some of the magic has worn off already.

So I went to work yesterday, even though I was genuinely sick with a bad cough. If you read the post about what it's like trying to get a sick day organised you'll understand that it was easier to go in.

Our staff room is a warm friendly place  (as opposed to the rest of the school which is freezing cold). As I went in yesterday morning one of the other teachers held up a plate of cakes and offered me one. I was taken aback. "Cake for breakfast on the 1st of January? Are you kidding?" She laughed but seriously, what was she thinking? I was almost derailed before 9 am on the first day.

There's a very annoying notion in Israel that if you celebrate New Year's Day, you are worshiping Saint Sylvester. This was a very effective PR move by ultra-orthodox rabbis who were horrified that a. we might celebrate a day that is not connected to the Jewish calendar and b. we might have a party and enjoy ourselves by mixed dancing and, heaven forbid, give each other a kiss or a hug. Thus they made out that New Year's Day was somehow a Catholic holiday.

I seriously had to explain to even some of the teachers that there are a bunch of Saints for every day of the year so any celebration on any day could be called Saint worship. There is no connection between New Year's Day and any religious festival of any religion (except maybe Paganism?). In fact, in communist Russia when all religious practice was outlawed, the one day they were allowed to keep that was not a nationalistic holiday like May Day, was New Year's Day which they celebrated as passing the Winter Solstice and New Year.

The irony is that only Jews in Israel even know that December 31st is Saint Sylvester's Day (except for the Pope maybe or if you are a religious Catholic called Sylvester). Now I've got that off my chest, I'll move on to the rest of the day.

I arrived home after a full school day as usual, tired and in no mood to do any of the things on my list of resolutions. I spoke to a friend who said, "you have to pace yourself and this means with work as well." I'd already realized that working full time five days a week plus extra remote writing assignments, plus looking after Deeds and cleaning and cooking and other household business was too much if I wanted to do  anything for myself. As a teacher I'm locked into this schedule until the end of June. I'm always in awe of teachers who resign mid-way through the year but I'd feel too bad doing that.

Thus the new year didn't get off to a great start but I did go to bed early and I didn't feel like eating anything because of the bad cough. I gleefully ticked off the achievements of getting enough sleep and not overeating. And the scales were down a bit this morning. I don't know how I'm going to handle being healthy though.

I wish you a happy, healthy and successful year. May all  your dreams, hopes and ambitions come true. May we all be granted the gift of regrouping back here (or on facebook) in 12 months time with big smiles on our faces and queuing up for pats on back for a year well done.