Thursday, March 5, 2015

The 25 Hour Watch

Despite not dressing up at all on Tuesday, DD did have fun at school where the whole day was one big carnival. When I picked her up at 4 we took the bus into town to buy her a belated birthday present - a new watch. Her first.

Here's the back story, We have a small group of older mother friends with only children. There are five of us and we met at various stages of pregnancy. One of the things we do is celebrate birthdays together. As three of the five children all have birthdays the same week (though three years apart), we try to spread the parties out a bit. What with one thing and another, DD's party was yesterday on her 6 1/4 birthday. The tradition is that each of the others contributes 50 shekels for a really nice big present. In the past we've had Playmobil, Lego, and a scooter.

My favourite old fashioned watch shop in town had children's watches for 59 shekels or a Cassio children's watch for 185. I was aiming for the 59 shekels because it might get lost and need replacing. So as we walked we tried to think of something to buy with the other 140 shekels.

Unfortunately the shop was closed. It's such an old fashioned shop (which is why I love it) that it follows the old tradition of early closing on Tuesdays. So at 5pm on Tuesday evening we went around the corner and bought another, light blue with different coloured numbers, watch for 100 shekels.

Then we got pizza for supper and went to the theatre to see Peter Pan the Musical. It was lovely. We clapped so hard to bring Tinkerbelle back to life she's good for another 100 years at least. Tuesday was a good day.
It may be an Israeli thing to make cakes in dishes but everyone does

Wednesday started off good too. We made a cake in my new oven instead of buying one. I sort of made up the recipe from ingredients I had in the house and was quite surprised when a cake came out. We had our party. I had gift wrapped DD's watch even though she'd been wearing it the evening before, so we could present her with it at the party. The highlight of the afternoon was when my friend R took a second slice of my cake. :~)

Then everyone went home. DD looked at her watch and said, "It's 12 to 6." I told her that meant it was 6 o'clock. After I'd cleared away a bit she came and asked me to take her watch off her wrist and asked if she could play on her tablet. I was sitting with my laptop on my lap and she took the watch with her.

I would have left it plain but it was a birthday cake so we had to ice it.
The red candle is for next year, another Israeli tradition

A bit later: Where's my watch?

Reader we have looked everywhere. We looked in the boxes of all the games that had been out. We looked in the sofa and in my bed (where she had taken her tablet). I even looked through the rubbish bags before taking them out.

So that's what you call a 25 hour watch. I'm hoping it will turn up. Where could it have gone, this is not such a big apartment and there were only the two of us in it?

If it doesn't turn up I have another 50 shekels from one of the other friends (the fourth friend couldn't come to the party) so I'm thinking of the 59 shekel watches in the olde watche shoppe in town.

Or maybe 6 1/4 is just too young to have a watch and we should wait until she's 7?

UPDATE: At 1.30pm on Thursday she found it on one of the dining-room chairs, which is exactly where she had left it. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Country In Fancy Dress - Except One

Even adults join in the fun
Today is the day when the whole country dresses up in costume. It's the last day of school before the Purim holiday. Of course the real days of Purim are on Thursday and Friday when there will be more dressing up but today all the schools have half day and it's one big costume party. Imagine if you did Halloween at school the same as the last day of the Christmas term - that.

Those who have been reading my blog for the past four years will know that I have had varying success in getting DD to dress up. Usually I lost but the nursery teacher managed to persuade her and we got a few photos.

This was our costume fight last year.  (2014)
This was the year before when I ended up in tears. (2013)
Here is 2012 - This was the one year we managed a happy dressing up experience.
And in 2011, when I also ended up in tears. 

This year the school went all out with a dressing up theme for each day for almost a week. Last Thursday each year group had a colour. I managed to get DD to wear her red t-shirt and red sweatshirt (I even slipped in red socks under her blue jeans). On Friday she flatly refused to be an animal. On Sunday she had no interest in being a boy. And luckily her class had a theatre outing yesterday so they were asked not to come in pyjamas like the rest of the school (although they could bring them in a bag to wear afterwards which we didn't of course).

Even the teachers dressed up. By coincidence the principal is called Etti (Esther) so the female staff reenacted the beauty pageant whereby the king chooses Esther to be his bride. 
The student assistants

Today, however, is the big parade. There are two schools and five kindergartens in our street and round the corner. (There is also a teacher-training college round the corner - honestly it's like living on a campus sometimes.) The street today was awash with costumes and disguises. Even the teachers and some parents joined in.

DD is at the back, the only one not in costume

DD wore a t-shirt, jeans, and a plain hoody. I think she may have been a bit shocked when she saw that everyone was wearing a costume except her as she didn't want to stay. The teacher suggested I bring her costume in a bag.

I came back 10 minutes later with the strawberry costume in a bag.


I left it in case she changes her mind before the big parade but I'm not hopeful. *sighs*

Perfectly normal scene in the streets today

Cool 6th Grade girls

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Homework Habits From Outer Space

We didn't get homework when I was in primary school. Homework was a rude and unwlecome awakening when I started secondary school at age 11. I never really got to grips with getting it out of the way before doing other stuff (usually watching television or, when I was older, socializing).

As I've got older I've got better at pacing myself and keeping up with the paperwork. However, this was a long time coming - I didn't crack it until well into adulthood. And even now I sometimes have to stay up finishing off lesson plans and grading to deliver the next morning.

Imagine my horror when I walked into my bedroom tonight at 10pm and saw this... (Note: DD has been sleeping in my bed over the winter so we only have to heat one room.)

It was an initial horror of all my school-night yesterdays coming back to haunt me. And a dread that DD was going to be just like me in this respect. A dread because it's not a comfortable way to live, always on the edge of panic that you haven't finished your homework and time is running out.

Homework done on my knees after lights out (obviously with lights on again) was the norm for me in school. I cannot tell you how many times I got up at 4 am to write an essay due in that day. And I will not tell you how many times that 4 am essay had actually been due the week before and I was on my last and final chance before getting an automatic F.

Then I remembered that DD is only 6 and I am on top of her homework schedule. I made sure she'd finished everything due in tomorrow well before panic hour. So what was she doing?

"It's not for tomorrow, we have to bring it back on Thursday Mummy."

Who is this child?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Facebay, More Decluttering, Tips, And Good Karma

I get a lot of things passed on to me from friends with older girls and I take great pleasure in passing them on when we are done with them (the things that survive that is). When DD was born I bought an expensive carrycot/buggy/carseat combo and that was it! Everything else I needed for a new baby was given to me by friends and family.

I am also not a hoarder. As we grow out of clothes, books, toys, and equipment, they get moved on. Some people want their things back, some things go to families with younger children, some things do have to be chucked unfortunately (everything has a limited lifespan), and many things go to the Yedidya Bazaar.

So as I have started clearing out for the Yedidya Bazaar which is in only three weeks time and I've been reading Elaine's de-cluttering posts on Mortgage Free In Three, I was tempted by her lucrative activity on Facebay to actually sell a few items rather than be so generous this time.

Facebay is your local 'Buy, Sell, Swap' group on facebook. There's no packaging up and postage costs (especially great for larger objects and furniture), you just say pick up here, and they come and pick up in return for some cash. Simples. This was Elaine's experience last weekend.

This was my experience:

I posted DD's old bike for 150 shekels (about £25). I had bought it for £40 three years ago and the training wheels were missing. However, it's an excellent bike for a 4yo to learn to ride on as its so small. It took DD about five minutes to teach herself and I didn't have to run after her holding onto the saddle even once.

I was advised that this was too much to ask so I dropped the price to 100 shekels (£17). One person tried to bargain me down but I already felt bargained down so I declined.

I also posted a selection of different Purim costumes. The festival of Purim is next week. It's our dressing up in costumes, Mardi Gras, Carnivale type holiday. The kids even dress up for school all this week. We had a dressing up box which DD is not interested in at all (she hates dressing up so much she told me she's not even doing it for Purim - deja vu.) So I thought I'd see if I could make a few bob.

Here's DD as a fairy in 2012

The fairy, the strawberry, and the the bride, 25 shekels each (£4), the pirate paraphernalia (left over from DD's pirate birthday party) for 20 shekels and the witch's hat for 15 shekels. I was asked if I could take the fairy costume to the town centre (6 shekels on the bus and about an hour of my time - no, sorry). Then a very nice lady with a 3yo came to buy it directly from my spare bedroom and gave me 25 shekels. Hooray! My first sale on Facebay.

Then the new cooker was delivered (delivery pre-paid) and the guy asked me for a tip. I gave him 20 shekels. I'm not sure why I did that. Delivery was pre-paid and I had to pay them 100 shekels extra for taking the old cooker away, Apart from that, they delivered. I wasn't thinking - I was just so thankful to have an oven that worked and be rid of the broken one. This tipping business has got out of hand imo. So my 25 shekels was instantly cancelled down to 5 shekels (87p)

On Shabbat some friends came over for an impromptu Shabbat Lunch. The three children dressed up as pirates and the two guests took home swords, binoculars, eye patches, and belts - why not? The 5yo girl was also given the bride's dress and they borrowed (although I really don't want it back) the bicycle on which to learn to ride without stabilizers. The mother of the 4yo boy took the witch's hat - that's her fixed for Purim :). No one wanted the strawberry. And no money was exchanged obviously as these are my friends - we share loads of things.

So the good news is that more 'stuff' has gone from my flat. The great thing is that lots of people are very happy (including the cooker delivery guy). I fully expect to receive in spades from the Goddess of Karma. Maybe I should give that extra 5 shekels to charity?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Snowman Diet

I've finally found it - the fastest, simplest, biggest weight loss, diet ever. It's called The Snowman Diet after our very own little Olaf who trialed the diet whilst wasting away on our balcony. Here is the chubby little fellow at 10:30 am on the day he came into our lives:

Six hours later on The Snowman Diet and he looked like this:

There were a few side effects such as the loss of an eye (his only good one in fact) and an elongated nose but his clothes were literally falling off him so it was all worth it. I swear to you that there has been no photoshopping on these pictures whatsoever. This is the genuine article, he really did drop about 30% of his body weight in only six hours!

We next weighed in after another couple of hours. So this next picture shows 8 hours on the diet. Notice his long, elegant, slimline, nose:

So far the diet had involved just sitting in the sun. No food was imbibed but, on the other hand, no exercise was necessary. This diet is especially suitable for those who abhor exercise.

Anyway, just as a plateau was seen to occur, as it does mid way through most weight loss programmes, we changed tactics. Our subject, Olaf, switched to sitting in torrential rain for the next few hours. Once again, for those worried about the exercise requirements - he didn't move an inch, we brought the weather to him. And only 3 hours later, 11 hours after starting the amazing Snowman Diet, Olaf looked like this:

At this point we, the professional dieters, thought that he'd gone far enough and should probably stop the diet. However, he wouldn't hear of it and insisted on staying out in the rain. Between you and me, I think a tinge of anorexic psyche had crept in. Whatever, the client is always right, so we went with it. Two hours later we had to concede that this is not a diet you want to try at home. Our subject looked like this and was ailing fast:

And here he is at half past midnight, after 14 hours on The Snowman Diet. After this distressing photo shoot, I went to bed:

Surprisingly there was still something left of him at 9.30 in the morning after 23 hours of dieting:

But by 10:30 am, exactly 24 hours after commencing the [now controversial] Snowman Diet, there was nothing left of him. R.I.P.:

There is a conspiracy theory that at the 23rd and a half hour, the pizza delivery guy smuggled in some garlic bread and spicy dip, thereby providing enough sustenance for the snowman to ride away with him on the back of his motorbike and go live at the pizza parlour, near the stone oven, where there is loads to eat, and it's nice and toasty. There's a flaw in this theory, however, or several.

No, we must sadly report that our subject did not survive The Snowman Diet. This means that 100% of snowmen who trialed The Snowman Diet did in fact die.

Verdict: This is not a diet to follow if you want to live as well as lose weight. For people who don't particularly care about living, as long as they are slim, The Snowman Diet could be the answer to your dreams.

Disclaimer: It's Purim next week, a Jewish festival in which we are encouraged to be very silly.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Snow!!! I hate it.

Having closed all the schools again at midday because of snow, and all we got was rain - again. Last night I posted on fb: Anyone want to come round and make a Rainman? (27 likes) Yes the cynicism was running high in Jerusalem last night.

We went to bed last night in a not very hopeful mood. Yes it was settling but it kept turning into rain (sleet and graupel actually) which washed it all away.

However we woke up to this (and another day off school, hooray!).

I love to look at the snow but I hate going out in it. My biggest memory of snow in England was being made to go out during the lunch hour at school, aged 7. I had cotton socks in thin wellington boots and I stood miserably on the veranda for an hour while my toes slowly froze.

Fast forward 45 years and other people's photos began to appear on whatsapp and fb, frolicking in the snow and looking happy. Totally unfathomable imo. We were still in pyjamas.

Still, I accepted that with a 6 year old, you have to do your parental duty and I wasn't going to deny her some snow experience. Lucky we had everything we needed on our balcony.

After that experience and a few snowcastles made with the beach buckets, DD was cold, wet, and had also had enough. We came inside, changed into clean, dry pyjamas, put on the heating and made hot drinks.

Right I'm done. Bring on the rain.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Yedidya Bazaar Decluttering 1

Two years ago I discovered The Yedidya Bazaar. The most amazing idea and a win-win-win situation for the three groups involved: The local families de-cluttering and spring cleaning for Pesach, residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas who can come and buy everything and anything for 2 shekels an item (that's 33p), and the charity that gets the proceeds. They raised over 10,000 shekels last year which means over 5,000 items rehoused from places they were not needed to places where they are needed. As I said win-win-win.

The 2015 bazaar is only four weeks away! I've been putting stuff aside all year as it becomes obsolete to our needs and storing it in an empty top of a wardrobe cupboard. This is now full so I already had up to two bin-liners ready when I decided to get serious. I was motivated by Elaine's amazing efforts this week, and also by the fact that we are hoping to rent out our flat while we go away in a couple of months and I need to take pictures.

I started small with books. It was hard at first but it got easier as I went along. There are some books I've owned for years because I want to read them but haven't got round to it yet. Some I kept because I do still want to read them, but most I didn't.

One-third of a shelf of the remaining books are waiting to be re-gifted as I like to pass them on to readers when we get invited for Shabbat.

My three teenage nephews all have specific and different areas of interest - economics, geography, and classical civilizations. I happen to have books on all those subjects that I'm happy to pass on. In fact, and amazingly coincidental, those are the exact three subjects I did for A Level!

The before and after photos don't look very different considering I have about 80 books in bags ready to go to the bazaar. Before (top) and after (bottom)

Four top shelves double layered

Only top two shelves double layered (The double layer on the middle shelf are books for re-gifting)

As I said, not much different to look at but these must have come from somewhere:

About 80 books now bagged and ready to go

Jerusalem people, are you getting ready for the Yedidya Bazaar?