Aircon Etiquette

Israel is a desert, summer is hot. Usually the heat gradually builds up so that by August you may be sweltering but you are used to it.

Not so the last few days. We jumped from mid 20’s to 41°C!!! In one day! The last two days have been in the low 40’s and today it is 30°C at midday.

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Image taken from Nasa

This is outside though. If you are in my office it is sitting at a chilly 23°C. I am freezing. My toes are turning blue. We try keep the air-con on 25°C but ‘somehow’ it keeps dropping to 23°C.

I get that it is Hot (with a capital H) outside but that doesn’t mean it has to be arctic inside.

I share an office with 3 men and one woman. The air-con unit we have is also shared between 3 other offices next to ours, the one has a single woman occupant, the other other has 5 women and 2 men and the last office is a spare office.  We are pretty much split evenly between those that love the cold and those of us that would rather keep our extremities from being frozen off.

Do you share an office? Do you fight over the temperature? What is the etiquette when using a communal air-con?

Somebody help me please, I cant feel my fingers!

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Cough cough splutter

So I have pretty much been sick since last Saturday. I’ve had Man Flu a cold that knocked me on my arse. I was off work Sunday, back Monday, left work at 1pm on Tuesday and only came back to work today. On top of that Faith has been sick too although she was well enough to go to school this last week and then Aaron and Paul got sick at the end of the week too.

Apparently its quite common for new immigrants to be sick with lots of bugs and little things over the first year or so in a new country. It makes sense right, new strains of all the old favourites. So far I think we have gotten off lightly, nothing more than a few colds and sore throats.

I hate being sick, I hate having to stay in bed. I feel useless. I feel like I should be doing something even though I know if I went to work or did heavy housework I would just land up feeling really disgusting and not be able to even get out of bed. I know I need to rest but come onnnnnnnn… boring!

I also miss having my doggies to cuddle. #StuartDog always knew when I was sick and would come cuddle in my arms, sticking his wet little nose in my neck and snuffling me. It always made me feel better.

At least I’m feeling better and am back at work today.

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I am a pear.

Yesterday Roro and I went on a mission. Find dresses for a wedding we are attending and buy swim suits for summer.

No dresses were bought but we each walked away with a bikini.

Before I carry on let me just say, whoever designs change rooms in clothing stores needs to rethink their mirrors. Every change room I have ever been in has had mirrors that make every single flaw (real or perceived) stand out and wave their arms shouting ‘look here, see this cellulite? Look over here and see the stretch marks! No no look here and see how short and squat you look!’ Surely if you install mirrors that are more flattering you will sell more clothes.

Anyway, moving on…

  • I am just under 5 feet tall, thats 1.52m. Thats short.
  • I (think) I weigh about 52kg or 114 pounds.
  • I have no idea what my BMI is but its on the higher side although not by much.
  • My legs are 30 inches according to my Levis, which falls into the short category.
  • My waist, according to my Levis, is a 28 which falls into the small/medium category.
  • My boobs are a tiny 32A.
  • My hips, I discovered yesterday, are a 36.
  • So my measurements are 32-28-36. Pear shaped!

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I’ve always been a pear and for the longest time I was a 34 hip, so yesterday I chose a 34 bikini bottom. On top of those awful mirrors the bottoms were clearly too small and I suddenly felt yuck, I bulged and jiggled and I was not happy. So I changed the 34’s for a 36 pair of bottoms and lo and behold, they fit and guess what? I looked good and I felt good. And I suddenly realised who cares what size the bottoms are? They fit, they look good and thats what counts. No one will know what size they are except me (and now all my readers).

So I left the store with a bikini made up of a 32A top and a 36 bottom and despite not having worn a bikini in at least 7 years and despite having a mom/c-section tummy and despite the stretch marks and the dimples on my thighs, Im going to rock that bikini on the beach this summer.

Now if only I can get my super pale and white legs to catch a tan…

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How will you cope?

Said with a knowing smirk, like they know something I don’t know.

This was the number one question asked of me when I told people we were moving to Israel. It was followed up with this nugget, ‘You know, you wont have a maid? You are going to have to do everything yourself!’

Its no secret that in South Africa a lot of people employ a maid/housekeeper/nanny/domestic worker.

I grew up with Ousie Paulina. She looked after the house, cooked meals, bathed me, dressed me and disciplined me. She also taught me to clear the table, wash dishes, make my bed and clean up after myself. She was my second mother growing up. She still works for my mom. I think she may decide to retire this year (although she says this every year and its yet to happen).

When we fell pregnant with Aaron we decided that we would like to employ a full time nanny/house keeper (we had previously had a lady come in twice a week to help with ironing and big cleaning).  Having Aletta as part of our household was a privilege. She adores both my kids and they love her right back. In addition to helping me with the kids she also cleaned and helped prepare meals.

So, back to the question above.

It seriously annoys me. Did these people think I’m a spoiled princess? That I sat on my arse all day doing nothing? Did they think I was incapable of looking after myself? The tone of the question also set my teeth on edge, as if we had randomly decided to pack up and move our entire lives without making an informed decision.

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Its not like I woke up one morning and hopped a plane to Israel and then said ‘Now what?’ This move took careful deliberation and planning. There were lots of pros and cons debated. We spent hours and days and weeks discussing why this would be a good move for us and our kids. Funnily enough the fact that we wouldn’t have a maid was never on our pro/con list.

Paul and I are both quite proficient cooks, what I cant make (rice), Paul can and vice versa. We both know how to run a load of washing. We are both quite capable of sweeping, mopping and vacuuming as well as changing linen and gasp looking after our children. In fact the only thing I’m not really any good at is ironing (I just cannot get it right) but guess what? Paul can iron.

Oh, and my kids? Well, even before we arrived in Israel, Aaron and Faith made their own beds and cleared their dishes from the table. They helped mop floors and wash dishes and Aletta helped teach them basic cooking and baking. My children were not spoiled or pampered then and they are not now.

When people asked me how we would cope, I would resist rolling my eyes and rather answered with ‘Just like everyone else.’

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Attitude is everything!

Go with the flow, roll with the punches, water off a ducks back and what will be will be.

These phrases have been my mantra since we made the decision to make aliyah. We made lists, we made plans, we were as prepared as we possibly could be, but shit happens and getting upset about it wasn’t going to help anything.

I cannot tell you how many people commented on how calm I was, how unfazed I was by our move. All I can say is that when you accept that things will go wrong, that you cant control everything and when you truly believe that everything happens the way it is meant to happen then you will be calm and happy.

Things went wrong. We almost didn’t get all our documents from the Department of Home Affairs, we found a fantastic apartment and then the landlord rejected us, our container was hectically delayed to name a few. In the end our documents arrived in the nick of time, we found an even better apartment and we ‘camped’ out for 4 months with the bare basics and survived.

Being a new immigrant is hard. New language, new culture, new friends, new job, new schools for the kids, new food, new everything. The above philosophy is a huge help in surviving our new life. Added to that is the ability to make fun of yourself and to not take yourself too seriously, the ability to ask questions and make mistakes without beating yourself up. Something else we have been determined to do is immerse ourselves in Israeli life. We are learning to speak Hebrew (The kids are almost fluent, Paul is attending classes twice a week, I will take classes when Paul is finished). We try to socialise with Hebrew speaking people not just English speakers. We try eat Israeli foods and use Israeli brands.

Photo by Paul, taken in Tel Aviv

Photo by Paul, taken in Tel Aviv

In fact it was reading this article sometime last year that inspired me. The following story from the article has stuck with me and I think of it often:

Her father, Jill Ben-Dor recalls, once took note that her refrigerator was always stocked with Israeli products, while her sister’s was perpetually filled with American brands. It struck him as unusual since her sister had been living in Israel longer.

Many years later, Ben-Dor wondered whether her father’s observation might provide the key to explaining why she stuck it out, while all the other members of her family, her sister included, eventually packed up and moved back to the United States.

“I, on the other hand, made a conscious decision that this is where I am, and this is home. If I’m going to be here, I’m going to be Israeli all the way. I’m going to eat Israeli products, read books and newspapers in Hebrew, watch the news on TV in Hebrew and live like an Israeli.”

So yes, there are bad days and there are ‘what the hell am I doing days’ but overall I am happy, I am content and I am absolutely loving being an Israeli!

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I got cat called. And I liked it!

How very un-PC. How very non-feminist of me.

Let me explain.

My husband is attracted to me, he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what. He even finds me sexy when I’m stark naked with no makeup or sexy underthings to enhance what I have. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Wrinkles, jiggles, dimples and all. If I was presented with the Dove doors I would choose beautiful, any day!

My usual work wardrobe consists of jeans and t-shirts, takkies (trainers) or slops and a hoodie if its cold.  My hair is usually in a pony or up in a bun and the most makeup I wear is mascara and usually I don’t even wear that.

Its comfortable and I’m all about comfort especially at work. I mean, I’m there for 9 hours a day!

Today I decided to jazz it up a bit.  I’m still wearing my jeans but today I’m wearing a fancy pinstripe sleeveless shirt and a pair of black kitten heals. My hair is still up in a bun but I’m wearing make up today, BB cream (yes, I’m late to the party) and mascara. I’m even wearing perfume. I left the house today feeling really happy about myself with an extra spring in my step.

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The cat call happened when I was waiting to cross the street. I guy drove past and whistled and shouted good morning. He couldn’t tell I was wearing fancy clothes or make up (I was wearing my sunglasses) and definitely not the perfume. What he could tell is that I felt extra good about myself. I felt feminine and strong and gorgeous and confident.

When he whistled at me it made me smile. In fact it made me laugh out loud. I felt good. I felt beautiful. I felt stronger and more empowered as a women.

Not very PC of me but there you have it. I got cat called and I liked it!

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Work and all that entails

I posted last week about about the fact that our container arrived.  It took us 48 hours and everything was unpacked.  All those boxes were emptied or stored in the downstairs storeroom.

I’m not going to post any pictures just yet because the house is still a bit of a mess while we try to find place for everything. I will do a proper post with pictures later on in the week.

In the meantime lets talk about work.

In Israel the week starts on a Sunday, so while all my South African friends are having a braai, chilling with mates, browsing flea-markets, drinking beer, running marathons and doing triathlons, I am at my desk, working.

Most places work a five day week although some work a five and a half day week (Fridays being the half day). Both Paul and I are lucky to work for companies that are closed on Fridays so we still get a ‘full’ weekend.  Also, the kids go to school from Sunday to Friday, so we get a child free morning on a Friday which is nice.

My day starts at 05:45 when my alarm goes off, by 06:00 when Paul’s alarm goes off I am out of bed (usually! I’m not a morning person so sometimes it takes me longer to get going).  Hopefully by 06:30 I am out the door and on the way to the central bus station, a 10 minute walk from my apartment.

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If I leave the house by 06:30 I am able to catch the 06:45 bus.  If I leave later and I dont hustle I then catch the 07:05 bus.  My bus ride is usually about 20 minutes give or take. And its a short 5 minute walk from the stop to the office. So I get to work between 07:15 and 07:30 most days.

I work in a fantastic office with about 60 people. They are a mix of Anglos (English speaking people from USA, UK, Australia and South Africa) and native born Israelies. My team is all English speaking.  We work in an open plan office with 5 of us sharing the space.

My company looks after us really well and one of the benefits to working here is we get a meal card loaded with a balance for the month. We then log onto the website and we have a variety of places to order from. We have to place our orders before 11:00 in order for them to be delivered at lunch time and when I first started working here I was told that the golden rule is ‘First thing you do when you come into the office: have coffee and order lunch!’

On the off chance you do forget to order in time there is always something to eat in the fully stocked kitchen. Bread, cottage cheese, fruit and veggies and tons of snacks. Not to mention the coffee machine!

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My work day is roughly a 9 hour day. Now the kids finish school at 13:00 for Aaron and 14:00 for Faith so they both attend after care at their respective schools.  2 or 3 days a week we have a babysitter who fetches them from school after aftercare and takes them home. She does homework and plays with them or takes them to the park across the road from our house.

If the babysitter is fetching the kids then I leave work between 16:30 and 17:30 and catch the 16:45 or 17:45 bus home, getting home between 17:15 and 18:15. I usually go past the store on the way from the bus station to pick up milk, bread or anything else we need and the babysitter leaves between 18:00 and 18:30 depending on the day. On the days when we don’t have a babysitter I leave work at 15:45 and am back in time to fetch the kids from aftercare at 16:30 for Aaron and 16:45 for Faith.

The kids love being at aftercare where they get to play with their friends, do homework (in Aaron’s case), are fed a yummy hot lunch and do activities like learning to play chess, learning to juggle and making artwork for our fridge.  They also love their babysitter who gives them her undivided attention and they love when I fetch them and we go to the park on the way home.

By 18:30 kids are usually in the bath while I get supper going and then they help with chores around the house, cleaning their rooms, sweeping and generally tidying up before dinner time.

And speaking of the kids, Paul helps them get ready in the mornings and makes sure they are dressed, fed and groomed and then he walks them to school on his way to catch his train to work. He is usually home between 19:00 and 19:30 each night which is when we have dinner and family time before the little ones go to bed.

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Its a long day with a lot of travel.  Its certainly not what I’m used to and its taken a while to get used to the hours and the commute but its working for us.

**Photos by Paul!

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All. The. THINGS!

unpack

 

My container arrived. My container arrived! MY CONTAINER ARRIVED!!!!!!

Sorry, I’m just really excited.

We packed up our things in mid-November and moved in with my mom. The shipping company was supposed to send the container in mid-December but due to one thing or another it didn’t leave until the beginning of March. Six weeks on the water and a week in customs and the truck arrived at our apartment yesterday.

My apartment went from this:

 

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To this:

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I started unpacking yesterday and have managed 8 boxes.  I’m specifically trying to do the kitchen first as that is what the majority of the boxes are. So far I have unpacked the following from those 8 boxes:

  • A gazillion coffee mugs.
  • Whiskey glasses.
  • Hot chocolate glasses.
  • Salad bowls.
  • Glass serving platters and bowls.
  • My milk crockery.
  • Ceramic serving platters and cake stands.
  • Half a tea set.
  • My meat pots and pans.
  • A rolling pin and a baking tray.
  • My kitchen scale.
  • The bread bin.
  • A stove top whistling kettle.
  • My handheld blender.
  • A variety of serving spoons.
  • A knife block and knives.
  • The Nespresso machine.
  • An unused 2011 diary (??) and a single Nespresso pod. (These were wrapped up in a ton of paper, all very carefully).
  • Various other small bobs and bits.

That’s about a quarter of my kitchen unpacked.  I had to stop because the rest of the kitchen boxes are either too heavy for me to move closer to the kitchen or buried under other boxes.  I have to do the kitchen first as that is the majority of the boxes and I can’t move the cabinets and bookshelf into place in the lounge until the majority of the boxes are gone.  Only then can I unpack the rest of the things that go into the cabinets.  Its like working on a giant Rubik’s Cube, trying to make all the pieces fit in the right order.  Paul and I don’t work on Fridays so when the kids are at school we will delve into the boxes and hopefully make a huge dent tomorrow.

One of the things I unpacked is my ‘work’ coffee mug. A client gave this mug to me as part of a Christmas gift in my first ever job. That was almost 15 years ago and this mug has come to work with me wherever I have been. I swear my coffee tasted better this morning in my ‘work’ mug.

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Your favourite things – Faith

TV programme: You watch a variety of things on YouTube, most notably Frozen videos.
iPhone App: You like playing Two Dots on my phone.
Meal: Schnitzel. Corn or chicken, you dont care as long as its schnitzel.
Fruit: Bananas and apples and grapes. Oh my!
Vegetable: Sweetcorn, carrots and cucumbers.
Breakfast: As long as it has chocolate in it you love it.
Drink: ‘Red’ juice, just like Aaron.
Toy: You have a little Lego genie figurine and a Boba Fett figurine, they go everywhere with you.
You love: The park, especially the swings.

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Something that happened yesterday: The day before yesterday you went to play at a friend without me going with you. Granted, Aaron was with you and the friend is the neighbour across the hall and you were running between the two apartments so I was close, but you went there on your own and that is huge!

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Your favourite things – Aaron

TV programme:  You watch any videos on YouTube to do with Minecraft.
iPhone App: See above!
Meal:  Pizza. I think it will always be pizza.
Fruit:  You don’t really eat any particular fruit, more like whatever is available. You do have a fondness for grapes though.
Vegetable:  You eat cucumbers and carrots every night with dinner. You are also trying fresh red and yellow peppers, some days you like them, some days you don’t.
Breakfast:  Anything loaded with sugar.
Drink:  ‘Red’ juice. Its a diabetic friendly juice concentrate. We all love it.
Toy:  You have a nerf gun that you love, you make targets and practice shooting.
You love: Minecraft.

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Something that happened yesterday: You and your sister recently discovered that you can go across the hall to play with the neighbors kids. Yesterday you came back from the park and asked to play, you ran between their apartment and ours for hours, lots of screaming and laughing and fun.

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