Sunday, August 21, 2016

The New Outside Room - Reasons 2B Cheerful

We have added a new room to our apartment. Well no we haven't actually added a new room but it feels like we have a gained a new room.

I bought the new balcony furniture. You can see below what it looked like before. I had some plastic chairs which aren't comfortable, and a small coffee table which does what it says on the box - holds your coffee - but not much else. The truth is that we didn't really use the balcony except for hanging washing. And that was a shame.

We went to ACE where they had run out of the 'bistro' sets that I thought I wanted. So we we went to Home Center where the 'bistro' chairs were 250 nis a chair (about 50 GBP) if you buy four but more if you only want two or three. In the end I decided to buy the nicer Keter (the plastics people) chairs which are still much cheaper than aluminium framed chairs. And if you're already buying Keter, it's better to go to the Keter shop for the best value.

At keter I chose a cheap but sturdy table and four of the nicer, more comfortable chairs (one is at my desk). The table is bigger than the 'bistro' tables so we can really have a meal out there and/or play Rummikub, paint pictures, etc....

On the way home we stopped at Hastock (a bazaar outlet) and picked up four cushions for the chairs and the plastic table cloth. We arrived home 10 minutes before the chairs and table were delivered.

Tonight's dinner is salade sur le balcon. To drink we will have le Chateau Robinet as usual.

The next project is growing something pretty to look at. I said in my last post that I'm tempted to go to the nursery and buy some colourful plants but instead I'm going to try and grow from cuttings and seeds. This may take some time.

Linking up with R2BC which is back at Lakes Single Mum this month.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thanks For The Ads Facebook

The prettiest bit of my balcony is my neighbour's flowers
Yet again, I met someone yesterday who told me, with a look of utter disdain, how she would never go on facebook because it's a frivolous waste of time.

I couldn't be bothered to go into detail about the invaluable information I get via the relevant facebook groups about parenting, single parenting, the health care system, government regulations and subsidies, tax information, food recalls, places to go/things to see, where to buy, the education system, recommendations for good services, where to donate, buying and selling second hand, new services in the area, jobs available, etc....

Not to mention support groups for people who really need support in very difficult situations, and keeping up connections with friends and family flung far and wide around the world. And down the road but why pay for a babysitter when we can chat online?

So I just told her that her comment is like saying you won't go into the library because there are a group of people who often sit on the steps and giggle about inane rubbish. Even though you know that some of those gigglers are actually Ph.D. candidates who must be doing their research somewhere in the library.

Anyway, moving on.... Today I discovered a way to make a pet hate work for you. Facebook ads are hated by most people. Who needs them cluttering up your timeline? Most comments about the ads are asking how you can get rid of them. The answer is that you can de-clutter your likes and interests in your profile so that fewer related topics are available to show up as ads.

I have been looking for balcony furniture for a few months. My balcony had become a dumping ground over the past season and the plants neglected to death. (I thought I had some before photos but I can't find them.) Once I cleared it up, I wanted to make a little outside oasis. A tiny, elevated garden in which to enjoy my morning coffee or an evening drink. The plastic chairs and the low coffee table just don't do the job.

We need comfortable table and chairs
(A note about the lack of plants. I was going to make a trip to a local nursery and buy colourful plants but then I decided to take cuttings and grow my own. I've also been watching You Tube videos about growing plants from fruit pips and sprouting vegetables. Watch this space.....)

There are a couple of shops in Jerusalem I could go to for furniture. I know because I asked friends on facebook. I'd need to ask a friend with a car to come with or pay for a delivery. Neither of these options is a problem but I've not got round to going there yet. I've looked at their websites and I've not seen exactly what I'm looking for.

I saw this on my downstairs neighbour's balcony. This is what I want
So I searched the web for garden furniture in Israel. I really wanted three bistro chairs like you get outside cafes but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted at the right price. So I gave up searching. And this where Facebook took over.

Facebook has been finding outdoor furniture shops for me and showing their ads on my timeline. The more I click on the ads the more they send. Today I found exactly the chairs I wanted. I was ready to order them to be delivered but they were temporarily out of stock. I'm happy that they are out of stock because they didn't have a suitable table to go with the chairs so I'm hanging on for another advert with the full set in one delivery.

And when I've bought my new balcony set, I'll delete all interest in outdoor furniture from my facebook settings and internet searches.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Pocket Money

1. Doing Nothing
Have you noticed that this blog has become a once a week wonder over the past few weeks? Yeah me too. We had the final week of school followed by my final week of college and finally, last week we had..... nothing. It's a funny thing about having nothing to do. Like some sort of self fulfilling prophecy, if you've nothing that you have to do you often do nothing. You'd think the week would have been spent catching up with all sorts of things on the back burner. But no, nothing.

This was great for a week but's got to stop. Now. I saw a meme on facebook aimed at teachers... HELP! I'M RUNNING OUT OF SUMMER HOLIDAY! I know how that cartoon teacher feels. We have a little under four weeks left. Where did it all go? I must use the remaining time productively. I must use the remaining time productively. I must.....

2. There's always one
On the way to the pool this week we noticed that the road in front of the local community centre and library had been re-tarmacked. And further along the road we noticed this. :~)

When they did our road there were also a couple of cars that had not been moved. The police came and they did a supervised 'break-in' and rolled the cars to the other side of the street. I remember thinking how easy it was for them to open a locked car door. On the other hand, it's not possible to hot-wire a car like it was in the old days.

3. Pocket Money: Lost and Found
DD has entered that obsessed by money phase that young children all seem to go through. One day last month she came and sat down to start a serious conversation with me. "Mummy I need to get more money. How can I get more money? And I don't mean wait until I grow up and go to work." I told her she could earn money by watering the plants on the balcony but as I've not got round to planting any yet, that was not an acceptable solution. So we agreed on pocket money once a week.

I used to give her any stray 10 agarot pieces (about 2p each) we found or that I had in my purse. She collected 80 of them. "Mummy, I've got 80!" she exclaimed. The look on her face when I told her that she could buy one fancy ice-lolly or two cheap ones with that amount, was priceless. And a little sad. So I agreed that she should get 10nis (10 shekels = 2 pounds atm) a week pocket money. It seems a lot more in pounds than it does in shekels but things cost more here and I'm hoping it will be saved up to buy something worthwhile.

The first week I gave DD her 10nis and she put it in her purse. The second week I gave her 10nis and she couldn't find the purse. We looked everywhere. It only contained 18nis (3.50) but she was distraught. I knew this would happen. I sighed a lot.

Yesterday afternoon DD suddenly exclaimed from her bedroom, "Mummy, I've found my money! It was in my bead box! I put it there to keep it safe!" I happily gave her her pocket money for this week. So now she has 38nis.

I started a conversation about what she could buy with it. However, I can see that she doesn't want to spend it. ("You can buy me that with your money, Mummy.") She likes having it too much. Don't we all. And me, I'm enjoying watching the process of character building as DD negotiates her way out of babyhood and into the real world.

 I'm linking up with Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Becky's on Lakes Single Mum.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Hello Haircut!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - The First Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Hogwarts And Other School Magic

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

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

So I thought we'd try it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Magic Of School Holiday Boredom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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