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.

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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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2nd play date – Success

You may recall the somewhat awkward and heartbreaking 1st play date we had a week or so ago.

Well, Faith had another friend over today and it went so much better. I think I was more relaxed since I knew what to expect. Aaron also took on the roll of bossy mcboss mentor and got the girls playing with a ball and also teaching them some karate moves.

I even read them a story!  In Hebrew!

We have just bought a set of bookshelves from friends who are relocating to the States and I could finally unpack the last of our boxes. All the books! So while the kids were playing I was unpacking and I came across Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. Its a very simple story about using your imagination, and as I found out, quite easy to translate into Hebrew as I went. The kids loved it.

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After the book, the kids took all the empty boxes and created a carnival game, Aaron wrote ‘points’ on each box and they placed them at different heights and then took turns throwing the ball into them to get the most points. Definitely not just a box.

I fed them supper before Faiths friend had to go home and both girls didn’t want the play date to end. I consider that a great success!

 

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A perfect weekend

We had such a good weekend.

Friday morning was pretty much the norm, except Aaron stayed home with us while Faith went to school.  Aaron helped with the cleaning, by picking up toys and bits and bobs around the house and then sweeping all the rooms. He then helped me pack away all the clean dishes and cutlery while I cleaned the kitchen. I then made THE most divine brownies to take to my brother for dessert.

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We fetched Faith from school at midday and had lunch before heading to the train station to catch a ride to Tel Aviv. The kids were super excited to see we had a double decker train and chose to sit on the upper level. Arriving in Tel Aviv, Faith and I caught a bus to my brothers place where we helped make dinner and played with my nephew, Paul and Aaron spent the afternoon at the port and on the beach. A friend from work who lives in the same building as my brother came for dinner and much laughter and fun was had.

We had no plans set for Saturday but a family that has kids in both Aaron and Faith’s classes sent us a message asking if we would like to join them at the big Anava Park. They very kindly came to fetch us in their car so we didn’t have to walk. Israel is very strict about how many people can be in the car and everyone HAS to be wearing a seat belt, so Gil fetched us and dropped us at the park and then went back to fetch his family.

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We had a picnic breakfast and went for a hike/walk and then took the kids to the jungle gym/ play area and we flew a kite and had more food and fed the ducks and the fish in the lake and had ice creams before coming home 5 hours later. It was an unexpected day that turned out so well.

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After we came home we lazed around, I had a nap, Aaron played on his computer, Faith put her feet up and Paul edited all the photos he took over the weekend.

Today we are all back to school and work. I’m already looking forward to next weekend.

 

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Our front door

Our front door looks like wood but is actually heavy duty metal.

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I figured this out the first time I came home to find a business card magnet stuck to it.

That’s right, business card magnets. It seems to be a thing in Israel (not sure if this is a thing anywhere else, certainly not SA), to have your business card as a magnet. Then people go around during the day and stick magnets on your front door. Even the children s entertainer at the party we went to last week handed out magnet cards at the end.

Personally I think it is genius, magnets are sturdier than cardboard and they actually serve a purpose (other than as a business card). It also means I know where the cards are at any given time, either on my door or my fridge/freezer.

Since that first time  I have collected almost two dozen such magnets. Some are inside on the fridge but most of them I have left on my front door. In fact my aim is to cover my door in magnets.

Because why not?

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Our First* Play Date

*First play date at our house. The kids have been to many play dates at their friends but we didn’t have any furniture or any of their toys so we put off play dates at us until now.

So the day before yesterday each of the kids invited a friend over.

Neither of the friends speak English. And I barely speak Hebrew. But that’s OK. My kids speak both English and Hebrew. Yes, you read that correctly. My kids are bilingual! I have never been more proud of them. They were thrown in the deep end and they have swum!

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Back to the play date. Aaron and his friend were fine. They played games, played hide and seek, ran around, ate ice lollies and generally looked after themselves. Faiths friend was also OK, they painted pictures and coloured in a Frozen colouring book and then they had a disagreement about playing something.Her friend started to cry and I could not console her. I just didn’t have the words in Hebrew and what words I did have went straight out my head. We landed up calling her mom to come fetch her and while we were waiting she cried herself to sleep on the couch.

My heart was breaking. I felt so helpless. Poor child was so upset and I could not comfort her.

This was a motivation for me to keep learning more Hebrew. Especially when it comes to kids. In fact I am more intimidated by the kids than the adults. At least with adults they understand that my Hebrew is minimal and they either speak English to me or help with the Hebrew I don’t know. Kids on the other hand cannot fathom that I don’t speak Hebrew and that I cannot understand them. They think its hysterical when I look at them blankly. My kids roll their eyes and translate for me. I am definitely learning on the fly with these kids.

Bottom line is that I need to learn more Hebrew and we will keep having play dates because that’s an awesome way for me to learn :)

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