Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Sunrise facing west. Holyland Tower looks like it's on fire. 
This time last year I concluded that Miracle Mornings were not a realistic prospect for me. However, since then I've revisited the idea of an early start, albeit with a slightly different goal in mind. It's not without problems for a Night Owl like me. Let's face it, if you are a natural Lark, you're up anyway. I'm not a Lark but I truly believe in the old rhyme:

Early to be, Early to rise, 
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

My problems are to do with the fact for 10 months of the year I have homework to do outside my paid working hours, full days at school or college, housework, I have shopping and cooking to do, and mothering for a few hours every evening. Here are a list along with some possible solutions. I've not put any of the solutions into practice yet so whether they work or not will be a future post.

1. I have homework.
I teach classes during the day but outside the classrooms I need to prepare courses, grade papers, write reports, liaise with students and parents, do my freelance writing work, etc... it never seems to end. However, after a day at school or college and then returning to help DD with her homework or take her to gymnastics, make supper, clear away supper, and possibly do some housework or shopping, I'm finished for the night. I have no energy left for my own homework.

Solution: I need to get up early enough to do a significant amount of work in the morning, before school or college, when I'm fresh. The work has to be done at some time in the day so if it's not in the evening after work, the only other time is in the early morning before work. (Another solution would be to work one day less and use this day to work at home. But financial incentives made me sign up for five days in school/college and I'm committed to this until the summer at least.)

2. I am a Night Owl with little to no Lark in me.
I have difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good night's sleep. I also have difficulty making myself go to bed early when I'd much rather be watching something on Netflix or even reading into the night. A friend pointed out that when people have an early plane to catch, they have no difficulty in getting up before dawn to get to the airport. I don't entirely agree. We do early morning flights back to Israel from London and though we obviously do get up extremely early, we hate it. Also, there's a big difference between doing it once in a while for a specific reason, and habitually getting up at 4 am.

Solution: On the other hand, he has a point and there have been times in my life when I've jumped out of bed eager to start the new day. If I identify such times, they are all times when I've been excited and happy about the events promised for that day. Ipso facto, the problem is not about getting up in the morning, it's about loving your life. I'm working on that because although I'm in the comfortable position of definite contentment, it's obviously not good enough.

3. Adequate sleep is essential for good health.
I've read many medical articles which show the link between lack of sufficient sleep and illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, not to mention obesity and all its connected health risks. One Doctor described how he panics if he can't meet his daily need for eight hours a night in order to have the cancer fighting hormones that sleep produces. So however much you tell me that Sir Winston Churchill famously survived on four hours sleep a night, I saw him on The Crown and he did not enjoy a healthy old age. (The cigars and whisky may have contributed to this.) Shift work seems to be especially problematic and whilst I don't do shifts, working late some nights and getting up early some mornings, produces a sort of shift work sleep pattern.

Solution: This is an easy one. Identify how much sleep you need and work backwards. I do probably need eight hours but I'm willing to work on seven. Then make yourself go to bed (with reading-in-bed time considered) at the appointed time. One advantage of modern tv viewing is that we can switch off and pick up in the same place the next night. We're not beholden to schedules set by the tv channels. I have to get over the notion that going to bed early is unsophisticated.

4. How to use the morning time?
Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning is all about preparing for the day but not about actually getting anything done. With a list of inspiring and energizing rituals, (exercise, meditation, affirmations, prayer, journal writing, reading, and juicing) it leaves you needing to go to work with nothing crossed off the "essential to do" list. (Also, he has a wife, a cleaner, and no boss demanding regular homework.) So as beneficial as some people swear that it is, this is not my goal. I need to get things done. As, I said, I have homework, but I also have housework and cooking to do. And I would like to blog more, and pursue various at-home interests. Unless I get up half an hour before I go to bed, I can't do everything in the 1.5 hours, tops, that I can make available in the mornings. (Getting up before 5.30 am is too drastic as is going to bed before 10 to sleep at 10.30 after half an hour of reading. You have to work with your own body clock, not against it.) Btw, for those of you screaming, "what about the gym? What about exercise?" I take a French Women Don't Get Fat approach. I don't have a car and I live on the third floor without a lift. With a pilates dvd at home, I think I'm covered.

Solution: Forget the housework, do the work work. Getting my homework done will give as much of a boost and good attitude towards the day ahead as all that other stuff. Do some housework at the weekend as required. Read in bed for half an hour before going to sleep. Blogging and other 'me' activities just have to be done in the evening or not at all. (Luckily I'm teacher so I still get school holidays.) Continue to rotate pasta, omelets, and tuna on toast for supper. Make DD's packed lunch and clean the kitchen before going to bed.

So that's the plan. Starting on Sunday because February 1st and 2nd are the weekend and time-off for good behaviour. I'll let you know.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

School Fair Bonanza - R2BC

I loved comparing the photos from previous years (follow the links). 
Reasons 2B Cheerful are precisely calculated at 100 nis (about £23)...each. Read this then pop over to Becky's Lakes Single Mum for more cheerful posts from around the world.

It was the annual school fair. This is the third year running that DD and her BFF have shared a stall selling all their old toys. I don't know how we manage to find enough toys every year but we seem to. BFF's mum also has connections with a plant nursery so she brings about 40 small plants as a sideline (although they are actually more popular than most of the old toys).

The first year that DD and BFF took part, there was no real money involved. It was hilarious as the G's (pretend school monetary notes) had a lifespan of two hours and then ceased to be valid currency. There was a certain amount of pressure to spend it all accompanied by gay abandonment, as it didn't really mean anything.

Last year, DD and BFF came home with 32 nis each (about £7.50). They were very excited and so was I. We'd cleared out a load of unwanted stuff, DD had spent some of the proceeds to indulge in a bit of spending of her own at the fair. She mainly bought food so we didn't come home with someone else's unwanted stuff which is always the danger.

As in previous years, the food stalls were very creative. There were pasta bars, felafel stands, pancakes and waffle places, a tea and coffee stall manned by one of the staff, cakes, cookies, crisps and popcorn, sweets, ice-cream and ice-lollies, drinks, candy-floss.... no one went hungry.

In addition to the food, there were arts and crafts, toys, books, plants, key rings, bookmarks, jewellery, and pom-poms. And probably more things that I can't remember. The Headmistress took half the English books we'd brought, for the English library. At the end of the day I donated the other half.

DD and BFF made over 200 nis. I think most of this was because they sold the larger plants for 5 nis each and we gave some games in perfect condition that they also sold for 5 nis. (The school set 5 nis as the upper limit for prices.)

And the sun shone making it a very warm January day.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits #50 - Sainbury's Suckers

At the hairdresser next to Aldi and opposite Sainsbury's
I've not written one of these tidbit posts for ages and they used to be my favourite posts. It's largely because DD doesn't make so many funny language mistakes any more. We still have some idiosyncrasies like calling the phone charger, the plugger. And DD will ask me, "what's the hour?" as a direct translation from the Hebrew which is like the French - Quelle heure est-il?

When we were in London, I went looking for Strepsils in Sainsbury's on Stanmore Broadway. We like Sainsbury's even though there's a big Lidl just opposite and about 200 metres nearer to my Mum's flat. Call me a snob, because I am sometimes, but the whole shopping experience is just more pleasant in Sainsbury's. However, I'm not so much of a snob that I won't consider the Sainsbury's own brand products when they're half the price of the other brands. So I bought a few packets of Sainsbury's Throat Lozenges. (Blackcurrant flavour if you're interested.)

Last week DD was coughing and I gave her some throat lozenges to take to school. The next evening she was still coughing so she went to the cupboard in search of more.

DD (calling from the kitchen): Mummy! Can I have one of these Sainsbury's Suckers?
Me: You mean people who shop in Sainsbury's when there's a perfectly good Lidl opposite?
DD: What?
Me: Yes, you can take one.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Happy New Year Trees! - R2BC

I think they should have closed the schools!
Remember this?

Whether the weather be hot, 
Or whether the weather be not,
We'll weather the weather, 
Whatever the weather.
Whether we like it or not.

Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week are almost all weather related. I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

1. It's my Eight Year Blogiversary. 19/1/2011 was the first the blog post. That's it really, who knew that eight years later I'd still be at it.

2. On Wednesday night we had snow. If the snow sticks and is still visible at 7 am, even the tiniest bit which we all know will be gone by 08.30, school is cancelled. They were expecting it and all schools closed at 3 pm on Wednesday afternoon. (Thanks for nothing - most Primary schools finish at 3 or even 2.30. Remember that we start at 8 am.) DD's class were in a frenzy of whatsapping on Wednesday evening. Reports coming in from all the surrounding areas about whether it was real snow or just hail. We live half way up the valley so we didn't quite believe that there was actually snow. By Thursday morning the storm had passed and the the ground was wet but clear. All over Jerusalem pupils and teachers dragged themselves out into the cold, wet, grey morning. Their hopes of a snow day at home dashed. Apparently there was snow on the higher grounds and I saw some of it malingering on my way to my school. Seriously, I think that patch warranted a day at home but no one asked me.

3. So on Wednesday evening, DD and I settled down on the sofa, under blankets, and binge watched Heartland on Netflix. We saw about five episodes. Yes that's five hours of TV but it was punctuated by rushing to the window every few minutes to see the lightning and count until the thunder to find out how near the storm was. And we had to assess the snow/hail/sleet/graupel situation in order to contribute to the whatsapping. It's very sweet that this group has rules that the kids are very strict about. A previous class group got silly and sometimes nasty so they set up this new official group. One of the rules is no messaging after 8 pm. So at the height of excitement about the weather, at 8 pm it suddenly went quiet. I was very proud of them.

4. On Monday is Tu B'Shvat (the 15th of the Jewish month of Shvat) which is the New Year for Trees. I think it's supposed to be the official start of spring. The traditional song is all about the sun shining, almond blossom appearing and the birds singing from the rooftops. Seems a bit ridiculous  for the middle of January but every festival has been early this year. (It's a leap year in the Jewish calendar which means we have an extra month next month so while Tu B'Shvat was early, Purim and Passover will be late.) Still, the sun is shining, we are forecast temperatures in the teens all next week, and it feels like the end of the winter might possibly be nigh.

Happy New Year dear trees! I'm not planning to go out and plant a tree, which is one of the Tu B'Shvat customs, but I'll definitely give one or two of them a hug.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Lifestyle Change - R2BC

We Love London!
"I'll still be blogging," I wrote back on December 1st 2018, when we announced that Reasons 2B Cheerful was taking a month long break for the holidays. And then I didn't. Of course we didn't stop living, heaven forfend, but we went to London for Hanuka and when we returned after only one week away, work suddenly got very hectic and it got cold and it always takes me a while to settle back into real life after a holiday. LSS, I've not blogged for about six weeks.

We had a fabulous time in London. My Mum took us all to see "The Lion King," as a big 10th Birthday celebration for DD. It was amazing. I can cross that trip to Africa off the bucket list as I feel like I've been - and without the malaria shots or risk of ebola virus. We had lots of family Hanuka parties - ours, my sister's in-laws, and an extra one for DD's birthday supper. We went to my nephew's school play which was lots of fun. If you're counting, that's five evenings out of the six we had available. In between we went shopping, we saw the lights in the West End, went to the Hanuka candle lighting and concert in Trafalgar Square, and hung out with friends. It was a really lovely break.

I thought about blogging. A lot. I kept thinking of things or seeing something and I'd instantly go into blog mode - how I was going to write this up and what photo would I use to illustrate it. And then I'd have an hour to write and I resisted. I don't know why. I certainly wasn't short of things to say.

One thing became very clear over the past few weeks, and it's something I've seen in other parenting blogs that have survived the years. DD turned 10 during the holidays and this blog has changed over time, as we have changed. It's no longer just a parenting blog but has evolved into a bit of everything. A lifestyle blog? I'd like to write a lifestyle blog but I feel like I need a lifestyle.

Obviously I have a lifestyle. It's sort of chaotic, lived by default, lots of procrastination, and, it must be said, not the role model I want to portray for my DD. There's a book called, "The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy." So it's been done and I could live up to a similar role, but I don't want to. We have fun and enjoy being laid back about things. However, you can be so laid back it's hard to take your eyes off the clouds above and deal successfully with the real life around you. I feel I need to live more purposefully.

New Year's Day came and went as work pulled the rug out beneath me. I needed to write school reports, hand in end of semester exams, and at my college they suddenly announced that all course materials have to be online. That means no more photocopying as the students can access and print out all their materials themselves. One of my courses is online so no panic there. One of my courses is planned and ready to be transferred but it's an enormous amount of work as you don't just want to scan and repeat. If you're already changing the format, you want to edit and improve. And adjust to a different way of teaching whereby the students don't have to photocopy reams of papers every week.

My third course is new to me this year. I've been making it up as I go along. I've been finishing the lesson plans on Monday nights and photocopying the material for everyone on Tuesday mornings before the lesson. It's been hit and miss but I figured that by next year I'll have lesson plans ready for the whole year. Except now I can't do that because they want everything up and accessible for the rest of the year. So lots of work hit me all at once.

I did the inevitable when faced with such a tsunami. I got sick. And DD followed my lead because she also wanted some time off school during a week of stormy weather. I had the whole week at home - some for my sickness and some because I couldn't leave DD at home on her own all day. I didn't get any actual work done, but I do feel refreshed and ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

I need a plan. Planning is my favourite thing to do. Implementing the plans, less so. I don't know where this "Project Lifestyle" will take me but I'm up for the ride. I'm feeling cheerful about it. So, a bit late but.... Ready! Steady! 2019!

Reasons 2B Cheerful is back with Becky for January 2019 and I'm joining the R2BC linky over at Lakes Single Mum.