Sunday, May 21, 2017

I Love Anna Hibiscus

Anna Hibiscus is a little girl growing up in Africa. Amazing Africa. Before we go any further, what sort of life do you think Anna Hibiscus has in Africa? I did a little experiment and asked three people who'd not read the six Anna Hibiscus books by Atinuke. They all answered variations on the theme of growing up in a village, poor, coping with drought and famine, fighting to receive an education as a girl, working on the meagre homestead, etc, etc. One of my subjects forgot that this is a children's book and started guessing themes such as child brides and other horrific practices associated with this.

WRONG WRONG WRONG! Let's start again. Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. She lives in a big city in a big house surrounded by a big walled garden. She lives with her father's family. All of them. Her Grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins (the big cousins, the middle cousins, and the little cousins). They all have wonderful names like Uncle Bizzi Sunday, big girl cousins Joy, Clarity and Common Sense, and Anna Hibiscus' twin brothers Double and Trouble.

The family are comfortably off and there is a constant rubbing along throughout the stories between African tradition and modern times. This in itself is a subtle lesson in which the Grandparents who grew up in the village, are revered and respected. They guide the family with their wisdom and experience, through all sorts of adventures and dilemmas.

Each chapter of each book tells a story with a moral. But the morals are not the old and hackneyed lessons that are repeated over and over from Huckleberry Finn to Milly Molly Mandy to Angelina Ballerina, et al, such as be helpful and you will get your reward, be loyal to your friends, be honest, be kind.... Yes Anna Hibiscus is all of these but in these books the challenges are completely different to any I have read in modern English children's literature.

For example, Anna's mother is Canadian and she wants to go on a short holiday with just her husband and children, as we do. We see how much harder life is when you don't have your whole extended family on hand.

What happens when Anna wants to sell oranges from their trees outside the garden gate with the other child street sellers? The other children have old and damaged fruit to sell and they need the money to help feed their families. Anna comes out of her wealthy compound with wonderfully fresh and succulent oranges from their healthy, watered trees. You can guess the rest.

She visits her Grandfather's ancestral village and teaches the children to read. With her cousins she rescues a homeless orphan whom they adopt after saving his life. There are real challenges faced in these stories and not one of them has charity workers from the Western World coming to sort them out. Just little Anna Hibiscus and her big, lovable family.

When Anna Hibiscus goes to Canada to visit her maternal Grandmother, everything is a bit weird. Fancy being made to sleep in a room all on your lonely ownsome. I mean that's no fun is it?

Every story is a delight. Every lesson learned is a revelation. You are made to look at the world from a stance you'd never considered before. There is a way of life you've never read about, a culture full of tradition and wisdom and pride. Even a certain amount of sympathy towards the Western World which seems to have lost it's way compared to life in Amazing Africa.

Does this review show my prejudices and maybe even some latent racism? Probably. I'm still working on seeing the world from all angles and Anna Hibiscus was an education even for my adult self.

I was lucky enough to be lent all six books in the series by a pupil who passed them on to me as she finished each one. Thank you Hodaya, your books taught me a lot this year.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Lag B'omer Reasons 2B Cheerful

Our bonfire with our picnic table in the background. 
Lag B'omer
I write about Lag B'omer every year but it happens every year so what's a blogger to do? This year the parents' committee for DD's class organized a bonfire for the civilized time of 5.30 - 7.30 pm. A list went out for the accompanying picnic and of course we were urged to bring any wood we could find to feed the fire.

The list is a funny thing. There are 30 children in the class and the items are all about 20 shekels (4 GBP) each so everyone is paying about the same. But the effort differs according to the item. For occasions inside school there are those mothers who like to bake so the cakes are no problem. There is a mad scramble to donate the disposables (plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, etc...) from those that can't be bothered have a busy week that week. The next to go are the bottles of drink which can also be bought in advance. The tubs of humus and cheese are also pretty popular. Pita bread is okay too though it has to be bought on the day to be fresh. What no one likes is the platters of cut up vegetables or fruit. It's expensive, it's time consuming and time sensitive, and it's hard to transport.

For Lag B'omer it was a felafel picnic. By the time I saw the list it had been up a good 20 minutes. Apart from the fruit and vegetables, the only other item left were 20 felafel balls (hot). I went for the felafel balls and thought myself very clever when I hit on the idea of ordering them from the felafel kiosk around the corner. Of course I was outsmarted by the other felafel mums (there were four of us). One of the mothers ordered 80 felafel balls, another picked them up on the way to the bonfire, and I only had to give her my 20 shekels, Sorted.

Our cooking fire for marchmallows
We went with our old wooden broom handle, an old chopping board that was going mouldy inside, a stack of paper supermarket bags, and some small raffia baskets. I felt a bit pathetic when I saw the already built bonfire set with real logs, shipping pallets, and whole planks of wood from I know not where. (And best not to ask.)

One of the fathers made a small fire for roasting marshmallows (another popular item on the list). I missed the bit where it said to bring your own partially cooked potatoes wrapped in tin foil but I don't think DD noticed them and anyway there were loads of spares.

At the end we found out at the parents' committee all have kids in 6th Grade too, so we didn't have to put out our fire as it was being passed on to the 6th Graders (7.30 - 9.30 pm. Or later, I have no idea).

Israelis know how to do all this outdoors stuff efficiently and I'm happy to go with the flow as long as it doesn't include climbing mountains.

Swimming lessons
DDs summer swimming lessons started this week. It's our fourth year and every year I'm amazed at how much better she is and how much more advanced the class is. I also found out after four years that the man who runs the lessons speaks English. I've been breaking my teeth speaking to him in Hebrew until now. I can manage in Hebrew but life is so much easier in English.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
When we finished Heidi's Children I was dreading getting DD to agree to a new book. She hates change or anything new until she gets there, when of course she loves it. I was thinking of The Railway Children with the promise of seeing the film at the end.

However, on the evening of the final chapter of Heidi's Children, DD asked me, "Have we got the book about the children in the cupboard with a lion and a wicked Queen?" We do have it and I was delighted. Apparently they are hearing it at school in Hebrew and the teacher told them that it was an English book.

DD explained to me about how the children were evacuated to the country during WW2 and I told her about Grandma and Grandpa's evacuation stories. We're well into it now. Of course I have the full set of books in the series but I'm not sure I've got the patience to go through all of them like I did with Harry Potter.

My cousin,  who on her last visit brought us the lemon scented geranium cutting from her garden in Pinner, Middx, was in Israel for a visit. She came round for coffee  the other night and brought me some some seeds for a vegetable garden on the balcony. So I guess I really do have to do it this summer.

As usual I'm linking up with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart for this week's Reasons 2B Cheerful.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Supermarket Chutzpa

Israelis are known for their chuztpa - loosely translated as blatant cheek.

One very irritating habit that happens here in the supermarket, is parking trolleys at the checkout, albeit at the end of a long queue, and then going back and forth filling them so that by the time they have all they need, they are at the front of the queue to check out. We all forget things as we're queuing and no one minds of you leave your trolley to run back and get that one forgotten item, but I'm talking about almost the whole shop done from the checkout queue.

Another ploy is when two people are shopping together and they stand in two different lines in order to take the position that comes up first. The queues in the supermarket are always a big of gamble, like at the airport check-in, you never know if someone ahead of you is going to have a problem and hold everyone up for half an hour. I don't mind that couples stand in two queues as in the end they can only take up one place, I'm just a bit jealous that this is something I can never do.

From archives. I had nowhere near this amount of shopping
Anyway, last week when we didn't have a working fridge at home, I was buying just enough to see us through the weekend before our new fridge arrived on Sunday afternoon. Thus I didn't do the shop while DD was in school on Friday morning, but we went together after school. The place was packed with long queues at all the checkouts except for the express line. There is a clearly visible sign up that says, '10 items or less'. We had about 15 items but some of them were multiples. However compared to the full trolleys in the other queues it was practically nothing.

At that point the express queue was completely empty so I went to it. The cashier looked at my trolley and said, "sorry, only 10 items." I replied, "I'm only buying ten the rest are hers," indicating DD. The woman gave me a stern look. I ignored it. I put 10 things on the conveyor belt. Then I put the remaining things in another pile behind them and gave DD a 100 shekel note (about 20 pounds). I told her, "This is your shopping and you pay for it with this,"

DD was embarrassed but by this time the cashier was laughing. When she'd swiped my club card I handed it to DD for her shopping. The cashier, told me to put it away and she did our whole shop in one transaction.

Sometimes I feel very Israeli.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Al Fresco Reasons 2B Cheerful

DD's friend came over for lunch and they had the first al fresco meal of the season.

Truthfully, we are not very outdoors people and we prefer to eat indside even if the weather is fine. That and the fact that the balcony had gathered loads of 'stuff' over the winter and needed to be cleared, so we'd not got round to eating out yet.

We have lots of R2BCs to look forward to in the coming week. On Sunday evening DD's class are having their Lag B'omer bonfire. Sunday happens to be my day off and Monday is a holiday from school. On Tuesday my college class are out on a field trip all day so I get another day off. On Wednesday afternoon DD's swimming lessons start. So I'm looking forward to a great week ahead.

Mine was a short one this week but you can see more Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Michelle's Mummy from the Heart.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #45 - Food, Sleep, Exercise And Visions

There may be a witch hunt
The Food/Sleep Conundrum
It's 10 pm and 3 hours after supper.
DD: Mummy I'm hungry.
Me: Then you need to go to bed.
DD: I'm not that hungry.

Not (Wo)Man of the Match
DD: The Dodge Ball Tournament was such fun! I loved it! We beat Third grade 2 and Fourth Grade 1! Next we might have to play Fifth Grade! I didn't know it would be such fun, I thought it would be boring but it wasn't!
Me: Did you play in your class team?
DD: No I cheered. I could have played. I had the opportunity to play but I like cheering.

She might be going to Hogwarts....
DD was twisting and turning in my bed, jabbing me with her knees and elbows.
Me: Why don't you go and sleep in your own bed?
DD: No, it's creepy in there. I keep thinking there're ghosts and I have visions of things coming to get me.
Me: Well get on your side of the bed then.
DD: I am on my side. You take up too much room.
Me: Well if you think this bed is too small then you can always go and sleep in your own bed.
DD: I told you I HAVE VISIONS!

Heidi's Children
Marta, the highly strung and emotionally unstable little girl, sells the strawberries she picked because all the other girls sold their strawberries and she was told to do whatever they did. When she gets home she sees that everyone was expecting strawberries for tea and she is distraught. She throws herself on the ground, sobbing and pleading forgiveness. Eventually she looks to the heavens and cries, "dear Lord, please will you forgive me even if the Grandfather won't forgive me?"

DD: Oh perleeeeze! Kill me now. She's so embarrassing!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Broken Fridge Diet

Old Fridge R.I.P.
My old fridge lasted 25 years. I know because I bought it when my flatmate in our completely unfurnished flat, got married in 1992 and took her fridge with her. It then came with me when I moved to my current place 16 years ago. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my old fridge. No bits missing, cracked, broken or bent out of shape. No scratches or dents. Nothing wrong with it except that it died of old age.

This happened last Saturday and last Sunday after school DD and I went shopping for a new one. I wrote about the shopping trip and how we got a free sofa thrown in, here.

Anyway, we had a week of hot weather with no fridge until the new one was delivered today. The freezer was definitely kaput but the machine was still humming so I convinced myself that the fridge part was still a little bit cold.

Luckily I had no expensive meat or fish in the freezer, just bags of frozen (or unfrozen) vegetables and some gluten free rolls for my nephew. I put all these items into the fridge and have been eating my way through them all week. For example, every day for lunch I cooked up a 400g bag of green beans and ate them in a salad with salad vegetables, tuna, cottage cheese, and grated hard cheese. For supper I ate an 800g bag of broccoli with parmesan cheese and some homemade vegetable soup that I'd frozen in jars.

I am writing a book called The Broken Fridge Diet. It worked because I was determined to eat as much of the food as possible so I didn't buy anything out. And it largely consisted of bags of green vegetables. cottage cheese, and vegetable soup.

On Saturday afternoon I had to admit that the sliced cheese was going off. I pretended it was a mature, smelly, blue cheese and finished it off with my nephew's gluten-free rolls that had also defrosted. Have you ever tasted gluten-free rolls? They're disgusting nothing like real bread. I could have cried for my nephew but he likes his egg salad so what is he going to eat it on?

The milk lasted all week - which makes me wonder what they put in it. I eventually threw out a whole 800g bag of green beans, a bag of mixed beans, and two bags of peas.

New Fridge
The new fridge is larger than I thought it was. I set out to buy a smaller fridge than the 525 litre fridge we had. We don't need so much fridge space and I don't have an enormous kitchen. I think what happened was that the smaller fridges in the shop had much smaller freezers. I got scared that my jars of soup and bags of frozen veg, DD's ice-cream, and nephew's gluten-free rolls and pizzas wouldn't all fit. Also, I was only prepared to buy a fridge with an A or B energy rating and the smaller fridges were mainly Cs and even Ds. Oh, and the smaller Electra fridges all had digital displays on the front that I didn't want either.

So I ended up with a Sharp 495 litres, energy rating B. It's only 10 cm narrower than the old fridge and quite a bit taller so it actually feels bigger. They also make more shelves and cubbies than they used to. So far all the food I have fits into the door.

I'm a little bit in love with my new fridge. DD asked me why I didn't buy a vanilla coloured fridge like the old one. (The old one was white once upon a time.) I told her not to put fingermarks all over my new fridge. Five minute later we had this exchange:

DD: Mummy, can you come and open the new fridge for me.
Me: Why?
DD: I want to put my chocolate biscuit in it to eat later.
Me: Why can't you open it?
DD: You told me not put my fingermarks on it.
Me: You can touch the handle to open the door.

Obviously I don't want to cover it in magnets and class contact lists. And the hot plate doesn't fit on top like it used to. I'm going to have to rearrange the whole kitchen to empty the cupboard where the hot plate could go.  I may need a new kitchen.

Finally DD and I went shopping for a few things to put in the new fridge. I bought gluten-free rolls to freeze for my nephew.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

When Fairies Let Themselves Go

When we were in Hamleys in London we saw, in the dinosaur department, large eggs about 15 cm high and 8 cm across. Obviously they were dinosaur eggs but, in a large container with no packaging or labels, we had no idea what they did or what you were supposed to do with them.

A week later we were back in Israel and were invited to friends for the last day of Pesach - which happened to be Easter Sunday. This was a funny coincidence because my friend had bought and wrapped small gifts for each of the children and hidden them around the house for them to find. I'd like to say it was hours of entertainment but she lives in small flat so five minutes later they each came back with an egg. That was the funny coincidence - quite by chance my Jewish daughter went on an Easter Egg hunt in Israel on Pesach.

Here she is on the box, So beautiful!
This time the eggs came in a box. DD's box promised us a beautiful Tinkerbell Fairy that we could hatch in three days and then that she would grow to her full size in a week. How exciting! The egg went straight into a bowl of water as soon as we got home.

DD rushed to check on it every few hours and soon (with a little help from us, I admit) the egg began to crack and we could see the beginnings of a baby fairy emerging from the shell.

Over the next seven days we watched her float out from the discarded shell and begin to blossom like a delicate flower balloon to the size of the Titanic. I don't know, maybe we fed her too much?

Here it is in pictures.

At this point we changed her name from Tinkerbell Fairy to Gudrun-Hildegard. Somehow it seemed more fitting. A lot of her size was down to was bloating and water retention  however. After a week in the healthy outdoors and sunshine, tending the plants, etc... she did slim down a bit and now looks heaps better.

Though not living up to her initial promise, I mean she doesn't fly or sparkle or anything and her wings don't actually open. And she still has the legs of a German peasant. Anyhoo, she has found some peace on the balcony amongst nature. I employ her on a zero hours contract as a scarecrow.  So far it's all working out really well. She seems happy enough.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Social Media: The Extraordinary And The Ordinary - R2BC

Can't get more ordinary than my old fridge
Magic Radio
Whilst in London, cooking with my sister for Pesach, we listened to the most amazing radio. Song after song was a fabulous track from my life. Every one a winner. I thought it might be a golden oldies programme on Radio 2. I do listen to Radio 2 on a Sunday if I'm working at home. However, I was told that it's Magic Radio. A whole radio station dedicated to the music I would have chosen myself. Better in fact, as I've forgotten about much of the music I would love to listen to. Anyway, I found it online and I've been listening to it ever since.

Knorpp and South
Many months ago I started watching this You Tube channel about a wonderful family with nine kids, who sold everything, bought an RV, and have been travelling around America for the past year.

As a mother who can lose her cool and get overwhelmed with one kid who is in full time school, in a home that doesn't move, and surrounded by friends in the community.... I am in awe of how this family functions.

This week they sold the RV and are upping the ante by moving their travels to Europe. I'm psyched. We've all been invited to 'go' with them. When I say all of us I mean me and their other 94,724 subscribers (plus lurkers who watch but don't subscribe). I think our plan is to rent places to live for a month at a time whilst exploring the surrounding area, rather than RVing or camping.

I've already done some more decluttering here so I won't feel like a burden to them. Seriously though, one thing I've noticed about travelling families is that they don't go from everything to one carry-on bag overnight. Often there are a series of downsizing steps which makes the process less painful than you would think. Watching this family over the past year has made me wonder if we could do something similar... maybe.... one day.

Facebook Hilarity
For Independence Day there were a number of posts on facebook involving lists of 69 things. (It's 69 years since independence, obviously.) 69 wonderful things about Israel, 69 things you didn't know, 69 inventions and innovations, etc....

There were two lists of 69 extraordinary women of Israel. This prompted my extraordinary friend, Sarah, to post this:

"I've seen two separate lists so far of 69 fabulous women in Israel. 
Next year, for Israel's 70th birthday, I'm compiling a list of 70 totally nondescript, average women who've done fuck all with their lives like me.  If you'd like to be included in my list, drop me a note detailing your subpar average achievements."

What followed was a hilarious thread lasting several hours, where we fell over ourselves trying to prove how worthy we are of being a total waste of space. Some examples:

Me: I'm now liking my own comments, how sad is that?

Gillian: Where is your lovely daughter?
Me: Oh she's watching You Tube and eating crisps for supper.

Lisa: Oh please can I be on this list? (Notice she is begging.) I'll make you a cake. (And resorting to bribery, thereby guaranteeing a place on the list.)
Me: Lisa, some of us can't bake.

But the highlight of the evening was when Tzipporah wrote: I can peel an orange in one go. Several of us read this as: I can pee in an orange in one go. All over Israel a number of sad women were thinking along the lines of:  Is that a camping game? Do you scoop out the flesh first? Why would you want to?

I still keep bursting into laughter when I think about it. Thanks Sarah, for the best evening's entertainment in a long time.

"In this world, somehow an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life."

At the end of  Sarah's thread someone embedded a TEDx talk by Brene Brown. I've linked to it so you can watch it. Turns out, it's the ordinary that is important and being extraordinary won't shield you from all the things you are scared might happen if you aren't striving for perfection.

I'm linking up with Michelle on Mummy from The Heart for the Reasons 2B Cheerful Linky this week.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Memorial Day And Israel Independence Day

Memorial Day ceremony at school. You can see the flags as I can't post faces.
It's a two day event. We don't celebrate Independence Day without first remembering those who have fallen defending our country and protecting us all on a daily basis. We also remember those killed in acts of terror.

It feels strange to be writing about Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror just one week after I wrote a heavy post about Holocaust Remembrance Day. But in history it did all happen so close together and in chronological order. The Holocaust (1938 - 1945), Israel Independence (1948) and so many wars since then.

So yesterday every school, every synagogue, and every community held a ceremony to remember 23,544 fallen. Everyone knows somebody. No, I lie, everybody knows several people who either didn't come home from the army or were murdered in a terrorist attack. This is the reality in a small country surrounded by hostile nations and in which every child, sibling, and parent served in the army. (Not including those of us who joined this amazing little nation after the age of 25.)

The view from the Tayelet
Then night falls and we celebrate Independence Day. DD and I went up to the Tayelet (the Promenade) overlooking the Old City and surrounding neighbourhoods on the opposite mountains. There was a live band. They had me as soon as they started singing The Proclaimers. There were street performers on stilts, market stalls, and the inevitable fireworks.

I suddenly realized that DD had never seen fireworks up close before as we usually watch the display from Mount Herzl from our balcony. It's pretty but far away. Last night she exclaimed, "It's like a dream!" And later she whispered under breadth, "best day ever."

Today we got up late. We saw some of the Air Force fly-past from the balcony as we ate a late breakfast. This afternoon it's the traditional barbeque parties and general relaxation with friends.

Happy 69th Birthday Israel!

"It's like a dream!"

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New Fridge and Sofa For Free

New-look  sofa
After 25 years, and just in time for the really hot weather, my old and faithful fridge died over the weekend. But after 25 years I'm about ready for a new fridge. Mine was white but after 25 years it's more of a creamy colour and a bit scratched. Apart from that it was perfect... until it died.

DD and I went to buy a new fridge after school today. I was in one shop where, although prices were reasonable, I didn't feel confident. I called Michael the best fridge technician in Jerusalem. Michael gave me three more years on my old fridge when I thought it was a gonna. Michael advised me to go to another shop where prices are a little higher but the source of products is more reliable - i.e. imported directly from the manufacturer with all their warranties and services as opposed to buying through a third party.

I had done some research and it seems that the best makes are Sharp, Samsung, and Electra. I would have bought the Electra as it was 1000 shekels cheaper than the fridge I bought, but I didn't like all the digital display on the freezer door. I want simple and straight forward. Michael said to go for the Sharp. The one I really wanted would take a month to deliver if I wanted it in white - which I do. So I went for the white one that isn't so sleek looking but it has all the essentials and they will deliver it next week.

Interestingly, the less sleek looking Sharp fridge was a bit more expensive. However you only want to do this once a decade so I went with it. I put it on 12 payments so that's about 275 shekels a month for the next year. (About 60GBP/month). That's practically free. Don't compare to prices in the UK or America - prices here are about double. Yes it hurts but we have sunshine and blue skies for eight months of the year so we don't complain too much.

Then, as I was leaving the shop, the assistant gave me six gift cards worth 100 shekels each that are redeemable in a bunch of shops in the mall. We headed straight to Fox Home and bought four new cushions for the sofa at no extra charge. Hooray! Out go the feather filled sofa cushions that I spent my life plumping up and had grown to hate. I inherited that sofa from a former employer so it's not something I chose or paid money for and I'd already swapped the feather filled seat cushions for a firmer foam mattress.

I would rather have had 600 shekels off the fridge but actually I like the new-look sofa so all's good.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Creeping Summer - Reasons 2B Cheerful

Lemon Scented Geranium grown from a cutting.
Parents evening
We had our parent-teacher-student meeting this week. Here the children come with their parents. For us it's good that DD hears what the teachers have to say about her (or to her as is the case here). As a teacher it's sometimes annoying when you want to be honest with the parents of a child who has problems.

We got glowing reports about DD's character and academic progress. We are neither a genius nor a duffer. We are managing to do all the work, in our second language, with good enough grades (and excellent in English and Maths). More importantly, to me, DD is neat, organised and precise in her work, She's a good and caring friend, well liked in the class, and she loves school. Result!

Fireworks and fly past preview
Last night they had the dress rehearsal for the ceremony on Mt. Herzl that takes us from Memorial Day (for fallen soldiers and victims of terror) into Independence Day. It's not until Monday night but we stood on the balcony last night and saw the fireworks. Then this morning they practiced the fly past of air force jets. I could also see this from my balcony. All that's left for me to do on Tuesday is the obligatory Independence Day picnic.

Back to school
The school in which I was miserable for three months during the winter, said they want me to come back next year. Of course I found myself saying yes. They very cleverly wait to ask until the sun is shining, my dungeon classroom has warmed up a bit, and on a day when all the classes are rehearsing for the celebrations next week so I was totally relaxed and enjoying myself doing not much. Of course I said yes on a day like that.

No screens Shabbat
In a bid to cut down on screen time I instigated a no screens on Shabbat rule. You're not supposed to use electricity on Shabbat at all but we do because I tend to interpret my own rules straight from God rather than go through the Rabbis. The Good Book says God rested on the seventh day and the 10 commandments say remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. So we don't work on Shabbat but screen time is leisure, not work.

However, DD was spending too much time on the computer and it was becoming an obsession rather than a leisure activity. As the people we know have all sorts of strange rules and customs for Shabbat, DD was upset about it but accepted it as a reasonable rule (after begging me 100 times to reconsider).

My only reservation was that if DD couldn't be on a computer, neither could I. But actually it's been great. We play games on Friday night after supper, read - she to me and me to her. She even picked up a chapter book and started reading it herself last week - a first. And I'm always happy to read.

Apart from the new willingness to read, DD is also more willing to go out and be sociable on Shabbat. It's really a win-win-win-win move.

Blooming marvelous
The lemon scented geranium that started out as a cutting brought to me from my cousin's house in London, is now blooming. And the mint that was a tiny sprig from the greenhouse at school is thriving. The lemon pips I stuck into some soil are also growing.

I have big plans to move some plants around for a whole window box of mint for tea and salads. And another for parsley. I'm also on the lookout for more cuttings. Unfortunately a spider plant cutting given to us by a friend is not thriving. It's an inside plant but we have no room inside for plants so it's suffering on the sun-scorched balcony. (I hope there's no RSPCP.)

That's it from me as we slide down the slippery slope of lethargy into a full blown Middle Eastern Summer. Even though we still have two months left of school I'm feeling the slowness descend.

There are more Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day

In my time I have visited Dachau, the concentration camp near Munich, attended courses and seminars at Yad Vashem, I have taken part in 70 Days for 70 Years, I have visited Anne Frank's hiding place in the attic in Amsterdam, I have listened to the testimonies of many survivors, I have read a hundred books about the Shoah. Despite all this background, each year the impact of Yom Hashoah takes me by surprise.

In 2015 I wrote this 100 word challenge. It took a long time for me to understand the implications of being a 2nd Generation Survivor. (It is capitalized because it's a 'thing'). I used to think - you weren't there, for heavens sake, survive already. But then a flatmate explained to me how it is growing up with parents traumatized and damaged, and I remembered certain friends' parents and grandparents from my childhood.

My family, on both sides came to England to escape the pogroms in the 1880s. If they left cousins behind, which they almost certainly did, my parents probably had 3rd or 4th cousins who perished. But we don't know who they are and 3rd or 4th cousins in large families of 5 to 10 children are distant relations.

However, my mother's family did bring over a cousin from Germany with her two daughters. The collective family employed them as maids and found them accommodation. I know this sounds incredible but that's how you got visa's in those days. After the war they lived on reparations, together, the mother and two spinster daughters who never fully recovered and suffered mental health issues until they died.

My mother also remembers sitting on the stairs eavesdropping as her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles discussed what they should do if Hitler conquered Britain. The options were to go into hiding or to commit collective suicide. There were strong arguments for both options.

During the blitz my Grandmother evacuated from Ladbroke Grove in London to Pitlochry in Scotland with my mother and her brother. Afterwards she would say, "I don't know why we went so far, we should've gone to Edgeware." But the underlying and unspoken reason for going so far, where no one knew them, was that if the Nazis took Britain they could disappear as Jews and continue to live as Christians.

So although my own family are not survivors, my facebook page is full of friends giving testimony about how their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts either escaped or were murdered. I lit my memorial candle and read about very young children sent on the kindertransport to England and who never saw their parents again. Other children who were sent into convents or the homes of farmers or maids for the duration. Others hidden in attics.

I read about men and women who lost their whole families - parents, husbands or wives and their children. They came to England, America, Israel, or Australia alone, remarried and some of my friends' parents are their second families. What must it be like to know that your parents had children before you who were murdered in Auschwitz? How could you ever live up to that legacy? How could you ever be good enough to replace those dead first children?

No cousins. No grandparents or uncles or aunts. Only ghosts and the lifelong pain in your parents' hearts.

Just last week I was talking to a friend about her uncle who was taken in by their Christian maid as a baby and lived with them until he was about 7. I asked her if they gave him back readily at the end of the war as some families refused to return the children without a fight. My friend said there was no problem as from the very beginning the 'mother' told him that he has a Mummy and a Daddy and a sister who love him and they will come back to get him after the war. The Mummy never came back from the camps. And I can't write this without crying. Yes there was also much kindness amidst the horror.

Tomorrow at 10 am the siren will sound over the whole of Israel for two minutes of silence. I've shown photos before of how the traffic, even on the busiest highways, stops and the drivers get out to stand by their cars with heads bowed in remembrance and respect. Every school has a ceremony starting with the siren at 10 am, including every schoolchild. Every citizen stops and our collective memory rises in prayer to the heavens. Lest we forget. Never again.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reasons 2B Cheerful At Home And Away

I've missed two weeks of Reasons 2B Cheerful as we were away for the Pesach holidays. We were staying with my Mum in London where three of us competed for shared one computer. There was also far too much good television to watch and a whole Daily Mail was delivered to the front door every morning (a real paper one, with no clickbait like they use online).

Anyway, we're back and just as we started to catch up with our lives, a whole load of new stuff was thrown into the mix. I'm reminded of that fridge magnet that says: I try to take one day at a time but sometimes several days all throw themselves at me at once.

Here are some Reasons 2B Cheerful as I battle my way through the 'To Do' list:

The London Duck Titania
We spent two weeks in London with family and friends. As usual we didn't rush around seeing everything but rather had a couple of outings and lots of hanging out. There may have been some clothes shopping involved.

DD and I went on the London Duck. I'd never heard of this tour until I read about it in my 6th graders' English textbook where there is a unit about London. It was a lot of fun. The tour guide was very amusing although the jokes went right over DD's head. As we went into the water however, she started laughing away when he showed us the MI6 building on the South Bank of the Thames.

DD: He's very funny isn't he? Everyone knows spies are only in stories and films. Hilarious.

Into Summer
Summer has officially started. I know this because DD went to school in shorts this morning. That makes it official. There's no going back now. Hot days for five months from now until October. I'm cheerful about it now but of course I'll be yearning for cold weather by the middle of June.

Hanging out at the bar at the photography exhibition

Photography Exhibition
My friend Yael Katz held her first photography exhibition yesterday evening. It was so impressive that it deserves a whole post to itself. Watch this space, it's coming soon.

My friend had her annual visit to her mother's graveside accompanied by close family and friends. After visiting the cemetery on The Mount of Olives, they return to the house for a breakfast. Obviously this isn't the reason to be cheerful but my job is to stay at home and set out the breakfast. And I love preparing food and setting it out. I was singing away to myself as I cut up fruit and vegetables, arranged cheese and dips on platters and chose matching tablecloth and napkins. (S - Sorry for being so happy on your mother's yarhzeit but please think of it as me helping to celebrate her life.)

I'm linking up to R2BC over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum blog.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #44 - The Pesach Holiday

Standing on a London bridge
Possibly Lambeth Bridge
Who knows
Revising for a geometry test at school.

Me: We'll have to look up what these angles are called in Hebrew, I only know right angle, obtuse angle and acute angle.
DD: Really? A cute angle? Awwww!

No bread
On Pesach (Passover) we don't eat bread for a week. There are loads of other rules but this is the main thing. I am trying not to eat bread and DD doesn't like it very much so we often don't have bread in the house for weeks.

Me (to my nephew on the last evening of Pesach): If you weren't coeliac, if I wasn't on a ketogenic diet, and if DD liked bread, we could have sandwiches in 10 minutes. But you are, I am and she doesn't so we're not. And we don't have any bread in the house anyway.
DD: What? We're not allowed bread on Pesach?
Me: No, of course not. That's the main thing about Pesach. Why do you think we're all eating matza instead?
DD; Oh. No one told me. I seem to have missed that piece of information.

On arriving early for our tour on the London Duck.

Me: The London Eye is right here. Maybe we'll go and see if we can get tickets for today.
DD; Oooh yes. I really want to go on the London Eye.
(As we turn the corner and see the London Eye up close.)
DD; It's very big. I do want to go on it but not today. Maybe I'll go on it when I'm 12. Or when I'm 16.

We finished reading Heidi and went on to Heidi Grows Up. In the first chapter Heidi says her prayers and includes the line, "God bless the Grandmother up in heaven."

DD: Wait. Is she dead?
Me: Seems so.
DD: So that's it? They just mention that she died? Just like that? No expressions?
Me: What expressions do you want?
DD: Like if Heidi was sad...if they did she die...about the funeral.... Not just she's dead and that's it! I hope we get a few more expressions when the Grandfather dies.

DD went to a park in London with Grandma and she made friends with a Muslim girl who was wearing a long black abaya and a black hijab covering her hair, forehead and neck.

Me: Did you ask her why she was dressed like that?
DD: Yes. She told me she was Muslim but I didn't understand what that meant.
Me: Did you tell her that' you're Jewish.
DD: Yes but I don't think she understood what that is.
Me; So what did you talk about?
DD: We found we watch the same You Tube videos.

Talking of You Tube...

DD: You know like when a series ends and you're like, "I'm so sad?" And you're like, "I'll never find another good series," And then you do find one and you're like....
Me: Will you stop saying 'like' for everything. You know when a series ends and you FEEL sad because you THINK you'll never find another good series....
DD: You know when a series ends and you feel so sad and you feel like, I'm allowed to say that, you've lost a friend and you feel like, I'm allowed to say that, almost crying?

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.