Everyone should do it at least once!

Work in the service industry I mean. I’ve been a (horrible) waitress in the past and I think its a good experience for every person to have. Having been on that side of the table I like to think I make a good customer. The only time I complain or don’t tip is if a waitperson is deliberately rude or obnoxious. Another industry that I think gets a bad rap is customer service/help desk. Until you have been on the other end of the phone/computer, talking to irritated, upset people all day, you really have no idea what its like.

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For the last month or so I have been helping out in our customer care centre (its an email only help desk, no telephone calls at all). Its been an interesting experience.

I’ve had nice people, I’ve had nasty people,I’ve had crazy people and I’ve had people who should not be allowed to use the internet.

Some of the things I have learned:

  • The quickest way to learn about the business you are in is to work the help desk.
  • Working the help desk is the quickest way to learn who is who in your office and what they do.
  • Some people do not actually want your help, they just want to complain and moan.
  • You cannot please all the people all the time.
  • Being super friendly to nasty people makes them go away.
  • Adding a friendly, happy line to the end of an email almost always gets you a positive, happy response and a thank you.
  • People do not see you as a human being and therefore swearing at you is acceptable.
  • If you make a mistake, own it. Apologise and correct it.
  • Even if you add pictures, some people will still not understand.
  • Some people just want to talk. Maybe they are lonely or have no family. Being patient and friendly to them is no hardship.
  • People get very upset over the smallest things.
  • Its not personal. They don’t know you, you don’t know them. Let it go.

The best email I had while working at our help desk was the one that told me I was as useless as an appendix. 10/10 for making me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe!

I’m going to try being nicer to help centre people next time I have to call or email a company.

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Half way there…

So the kids have been on holiday for a month (or close to it) and we are surviving.

They have each been at separate day camps and have been having a blast. Each camp was held in their schools so it was a familiar environment and the other kids were all friends of theirs.

That is until the middle of last week when Aaron’s camp was condensed into a camp located at another school down the road. Suddenly it was a new environment and none of his friends were going to that camp. And we landed up with a small anxiety issue.

I had forgotten how bad Aaron’s anxiety had been when we first arrived and he started school. He was overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds and the new people. For a good few weeks he complained about having a headache or a tummy ache or both. With a lot of patience from us and his teachers he overcame the anxiety and made new friends and settled in.

Last week he suddenly had a headache and tummy ache again. But we talked to him and discussed it and allowed him to phone us at work for a chat when it got too much. Today he went off to camp without a backwards look, he hasn’t called once and seems to have settled in nicely.

*Photo by Paul

*Photo by Paul

I keep saying it, but I really am so very very proud of this child. All the things he has overcome this year are enough to put an adult in a spin and yet he is a champ, he keeps on keeping on.

Next week the kids will be at home with me and the following week we found a private camp that will take both of them for the week and then Nana (my mom) comes for a two week visit. We are all so excited to see her. The kids cant stop talking about her visit. I’m doing a happy jig as I type!

I cant believe we are half way through the summer holidays and that there is only one month left to go.

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A secret all women should know!

Boxer briefs!

*PSA – Some of the links may be NSFW if you are not allowed to look at womens bums in underwear 😉

Not boy shorts. Not even boxer briefs designed for women (mostly they still look more like boy shorts in my opinion and are probably just as ‘climb up the bum’ uncomfortable as boy shorts).

No, I’m talking about men’s boxer briefs.

I found myself in need of a pair of sleep shorts/summer pajama bottoms and a light bulb went off. Men’s boxer briefs looked soooooo comfy. And they are.

I bought myself a few pairs and let me tell you, I’m going to be wearing them all the time now. No pinching, no pulling, no climbing up the bum, just soft, cotton, comfy undies.

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You may recall I posted about my pear shape. Well, I fit into a men’s large boxer brief due to the bottom of my pear. But that’s ok, they are so comfy and they look good too.

#HappyGina

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Why does Aaron think I’m a real Israeli?

Aaron is in the bath, I’m about to wash his hair.

Aaron: ‘I need to get the face cloth because-‘

Me: ‘Yes Aaron, get the face cloth.’

Aaron: ‘-I need to put it over my face-‘

Me: ‘Yes Aaron, just get the cloth.’

Aaron: ‘Moooooommmmmm, you are a real Israeli!’

Me: ‘Why do you say that?’

Aaron: ‘Because you are so impatient!’

Aaron: ‘Why do they even have a word for patience in Hebrew? Israelis are never patient.’

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Photo by Paul

And there you have it, the reason I am a real Israeli.

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Two months of hell, I mean, holidays…

It seems to be a northern hemisphere thing. Two months off school during the summer. Two months off school. Two months!

Luckily the aftercare facility we utilize for the kids during the school week will be running a ‘camp’ throughout the whole of July. 07:30 – 16:00. The aftercare/camp is run from the kids schools and a lot of the kids that attend aftercare will also be at the ‘camp’ so the kids will have the friends that they know with them. It will cost us about double what we usually pay for aftercare for the month but considering it will be double the time it all works out.

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That being said, what happens in August? Most if not all of the camps only run for July. There are a few options during August but they are all private and expensive. They also do not cater for my kids ages. They are either for 5 and under or 6 and over so Aaron and Faith could not attend together (hopefully we would be able to convince them to let Faith go with Aaron if this was an option we chose).

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A lot of people tend to go away in August so demand for camps is obviously lower than in July but come on, what about those of us who cant go away for whatever reason?

Now, my mom is coming for a visit (does happy dance and sings!) in the last two weeks of August and has graciously said she will help me with the kids on the days that I have to work. In fact she basically told me not to take any leave, I must work and she will spend time with the kids, which is great, except I want to take leave so I can spend time with her! I am, in fact, taking the 1st 5 days she is here as leave so we can spend all that week together.

I digress…

This leaves me with the first two weeks of August.

Our regular babysitter is away for those two weeks and both Paul and I have to work. Some of the families that we are friends with suggested we each take a day of the week and look after each others kids but it looks like that wont happen because there are not enough of us.

So, we may have to take the kids to work with us or work from home. Both options are not ideal.

Gah!!!!

So, my northern hemisphere friends… what do you do over the summer vacation?

 

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Grade 2 here we come!

Today marks the first day of the summer vacation in Israel. The school year is over and the grade 1 Whatsapp group has changed the group name to grade 2.

Aaron has officially graduated grade 1.

Wait what?

So many mixed emotions.

I feel excited and proud and a little bit cheated. But mostly proud of my boy.

Why do I feel cheated?

Well, Aaron finished grade R/ grade 0/ חובה (Chova) in November 2014. We arrived in Israel in December 2014 and the kids started attending school in January 2015. But… The school year in Israel runs from 1st September to 30 June. We also decided that Aaron was old enough to be in grade 1 and not repeat grade R. This meant he started grade 1 half way through the school year. So, yeah, I feel a little cheated that we only got half a year of my baby big boy in grade 1.

That being said, Aaron arrived, not only in a new school but in a new country, and had to make new friends and catch up the school work and learn a new language. And he passed and has been promoted to grade 2! And he has a whole bunch of friends. AND he speaks Hebrew!

How many adults do you know who could achieve this much and without complaining and moaning (too much) about it?

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How cool!? All the kids got a A3 size caricature as a year end gift :)

I am so extremely proud of this child!

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21 Questions

Thank you Janice for nominating me, I haven’t done one of these in ages and I love them :)

1. What is your current fashion obsession? – Slops! I haven’t worn anything but slops since summer started. I love that people don’t bat an eye when you go to work in slops here.
2. What are you wearing today? – Levis, a grey, short sleeved, cowl neck tunic dress and pretty black slops.

Stairway in Jaffa

Stairway in Jaffa

3. Hair? – I’ve given up straightening my hair during the week, I just dont have time, so its up in a high, messy bun with lots of waves and curls all over the place.
4. Do you nap a lot? – My husband says yes. If I can get a nap or two in on the weekend I am a happy girl.
5. Why is today special? – My son is graduating 1st grade. Its his last day of school and after 8 weeks of summer vacation he will be in 2nd grade. So proud of him!
6. What would you like to learn to do? – I would like to continue learning Krav Maga, I want to be able  to take down someone bigger than me.
7. What’s for dinner today? – Mystery container of leftovers from the freezer. I keep forgetting to label what I put away so its always a surprise.
8. What are you listening to right now? – The hum of the aircon in the office and the clacking of computer keys. I’m about to put on the new Mumford & Sons though.

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9. What is your favorite weather? – Hot. I cant abide the cold, especially when it is cold and rainy.
10. What’s the last thing you bought? – Milk and grapes.
11. What are your essentials when traveling? – Kindle, iPad, chargers, clean undies.
12. What’s your style? – Casual. I don’t do uncomfortable in any way shape or form. Life is too short to be miserable.
13. What is your most challenging goal right now? – Learning Hebrew. I’m getting there slowly and I know it will happen but its going to take hard work.
14. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be? – Near my family. I really don’t care where I live as long as my family is with me.

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15. Favourite vacation spot? – Mountains. In SA it was the Drakensburg. I need to find my favourite spot in Israel still but it will probably be somewhere up north.
16. Name the things you cannot live without? – My husband and coffee. Not necessarily in that order.
17. How was your childhood? – Regular. Happy. Sad. Stressful. Fun. Family orientated. Normal. Or at least I think so.
18. What would you like to have in your hands right now? – My book.
19. What are you most excited for? – My mommy coming to visit in August. I cannot wait to see her!
20. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? – Heaven (yes I know, not really ‘in the world’) to see my dad and my brother.

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21. Which countries have you visited? – South Africa and Israel.

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Is it herpes? And other stupid questions.

If you are a regular reader on my blog you might remember that I have had major issues with my skin. I’ve done 2 courses of Roaccutane, I’ve had cysts the size of large marbles under my nose and on my lips and I’ve been hospitalised twice for complications and for IV antibiotics.

Well, after almost 3 years of having clear skin, I woke up a week ago with a small hard lump on my lip. In the exact spot the one that sent me to hospital the last time was.

I immediately went to the doc and she put me on antibiotics. After 4 days it was worse, again the size of a large marble and solid and extremely sore)  so I went back and she changed me to a stronger, antibiotic specifically for resistant staph (this is what caused the cysts in the past) and booked me off work for 2 days since I could even brush my teeth or eat solid food. 4 days after that and the cyst is slightly smaller but more importantly is not as solid and has developed a ‘head’ where it will hopefully begin to drain the fluid so it can start healing.

http://www.cutestpaw.com/images/baby-owl/

Here, have a pic of a teeny tiny baby owl, because Im not showing you my face

So back to the title of the post…

2 people, 1 of them a total stranger, looked at me yesterday (while pointing at my lip) and at the top of their lungs said ‘Is it herpes?’ Now I know Israelis have no tact, its one of the things I love about them but hell, way to make me feel worse than I already do.

Other stupid questions I’ve been asked:

  • Is it sore? Sometimes this is accompanied by people trying to touch it (!?!?)
  • When I have a pimple I do xyz, have you tried that? Well since it’s not a pimple…
  • Have you been to the doctor?
  • Should you be around people?

I know people mean well but hell… Usually I’m not self conscious, I couldn’t care less what people think of my looks, but there is only so much I can take.

And a pic of a sweet little piglet because you really don't want a pic of my face!

And a pic of a sweet little piglet because you really don’t want a pic of my face!

So I am being a hermit this weekend. Nothing short of the apartment catching on fire (Gd forbid) will get me out of here. Hopefully by Sunday it will have gotten better enough to at least look a bit more normal. It has to be better by Sunday because we have our company Fun Day and I’m not missing that for the anything!

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בית חם or Hot House

The other day Aaron hosted a בית חם ‘buy-it ham’ (the ‘h’ is a rough sound not a soft sound) or roughly translated, a hot house.

Basically, throughout the school year, each child gets a turn to host 4 or 5 other kids in the class at their home. Its usually children that don’t really play together during school and its a way to encourage new friendships and getting to know each other.

They usually happen 4 times a year and the teacher allocates who goes where. She asked me a few months ago if we would host one and I asked if we could do a later one as I had no furniture and was pretty much terrified of having a bunch of Hebrew speaking kids to look after.

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So this week was the last lot of hot houses for the school year and Aaron was asked to host. I think she took it easy on me and only allocated 3 children to come over, two girls and a boy. I also asked our babysitter to come over for the two hours so she could help me with speaking to the kids. Thank carp for the babysitter, she was amazing!

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Hosting a hot house is a big deal, the kids love them and really look forward to them. Usually a craft or two is done and sometimes the kids make something to send to the soldiers or to a charity.

We made flower mirrors with glue and paint and glitter stickers and googly eyes. We also did an experiment and made a volcano erupt. Since it started at 5pm and the kids were being fetched at 7pm, I made them dinner. I took a page out of Pintrest and the kids made spaghetti  and sausage monsters. So. Much. Fun!

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All in all the kids had fun. Aaron had a blast. There were no tears, theirs or mine. Success!

 

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Motion sickness? Bah! What motion sickness?

We don’t own a car. Which is not such a bad thing with the rather excellent public transport in Israel.

Unfortunately, I get rather motion sick when I am a passenger.

When I started working (5 months ago!) I mentioned on Twitter that I suffer from motion sickness and asked if anyone had tips to minimise it.

Ben Shemen Forest. We drive past this every day.  *Photo by Paul

Ben Shemen Forest. We drive past this every day. *Photo by Paul

Don’t travel on an empty stomach, look at the horizon and tilt your head back were some of the suggestions I received. I put them all to use and added a few of my own and 5 months down the line I’m happy to inform you that I very, very rarely get motion sick on the bus anymore. In fact I can now read on my iPad without wanting to throw myself under the wheels!

Here are a few of the tips and tricks I use.

  • Don’t travel on an empty stomach. Even if its a slice of bread or a handful of pretzel, put some food in your tummy. When you are hungry you start to feel nauseous, this is basically just jump starting your motion sickness.
  • Empty your bladder before embarking on your journey. I find that if I need to pee, I feel worse and get sick quicker. An empty bladder means a comfortable ride.
  • Sit slightly sideways. I know this goes against the whole ‘look at the horizon’ tip, but on a bus, unless you are right in front, you cant see the horizon. Sitting to the side seems to help me, no idea why.
  • If you start to feel sick, tip your head back. This opens your throat and opens your airway.
  • Sit as close to the front of the bus as possible. Supposedly the drivers seat is the most stable part of the bus, the nearer you are the less bumpy it will be.
  • I prefer sitting against the window, I tend to feel worse if I sit in an isle seat, no idea why.

Once you have mastered these few tips you can now start to acclimate yourself to actually doing something other than just sitting.

I started by downloading a really brainless, non thinking game on my phone. Something like one of the gem swap games, Candy Crush or Frozen Free Fall work well. Its something you don’t really need to think about while you play. My bus ride is about 25/30 minutes and the 5 lives you get in these games is just enough to last the trip.

In the beginning, more often than not, I couldn’t last the whole trip playing, but as time went on I was able to keep going.  I also started checking Facebook and Twitter if I finished my game lives too soon. Again, when I first started reading my time lines I would get a bit ill but the more I read the easier it became.

The last week or so I’ve been able to read my book on the iPad without getting sick at all.

I’m not sure if this would translate to travelling in a car, but for the hour or so I spend on a bus every day, being able to read my book is awesome!

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