OK, so not something I didn’t already know but still.
I could not look at Aaron’s room for a single minute more on Friday. So I asked demanded that he clean everything. I made him pick up and throw away every last piece of paper, string, broken toy, piece of crap off his floor. He had to clean out his toy box, bedside table and computer desk. He had to dust everything, wipe down all the surfaces and then sweep the floor. I then came in and used my awesome steam mop thingy to clean the floors. The best part was when I told him I want the floor clean enough to eat off. His eyes almost bugged out until I told him that it was a saying and we were not really going to eat off the floor.
So now his room is pretty clean, except for the cardboard boxes he is turning into a plane. Lets see how long it lasts this time.
The vacuum cleaner wasn’t broken
About 2 years ago we bought a really cheap vacuum cleaner from the local grocery store. It was cheap but it worked really well. For the last little while I’ve noticed that it wasnt working as well as it used to. We cleaned it out. Paul pulled out a fair bit of fluff and hairballs and it worked a bit better but no where near as well as when it was new. I thought that was that. Its a cheap machine, obviously has a short lifespan. I asked Paul to give it a clean so I could use it on the above mentioned boy’s room. Paul landed up taking the thing apart and actually washing one of the big sponge filters, which was disgustingly dirty.
Let me just say, the machine now works like I just took it out the box. It even picked up glitter off the tiles and carpet.
Moral of the story? Clean and service your appliances before throwing them out.
You can make cake using plain Greek yogurt and no sugar
I felt like making a cake for tea yesterday and I didnt have any diabetic cup for cup sugar replacement available. What I did have was stevia liquid. I searched online and found a simple trick for using liquid stevia as a replacement in a regular recipe. Basically 1 teaspoon stevia for each cup of sugar as well as 1/3 cup liquid for each cup of sugar. In my case I used plain yogurt.
So the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of school holidays, Chanukah candles, fried foods, family dinners, Faiths (belated) birthday party, a visit from Wendi’s daughter, Sivan, a visit from our Australian family and my mom came to visit for two weeks.
I think I will just let some of Paul’s photos do the talking…
So I’ve seen this floating around Facebook recently and since I havent posted anything this week, I figured why not…
Are you named after someone? Yes, I am named after my dad’s late sister, Natalie. My actual name is Gina-Natalie.
When was the last time you cried? I actually cant remember the last time I had a real snot en trane (snot and tears) cry. I do tear up at least once a day because of something I’ve read online or because something reminds me of someone I’ve lost, but no real tears.
Do you like your handwriting? Sometimes. If I’m not rushed.
What is your favorite lunch meat? Thin sliced turkey breast.
Do you have any kids? Aaron and Faith 🙂
Do you use sarcasm? Me? Use sarcasm? Never!
Do you still have your tonsils? Nope.
Would you bungee jump? Hell no!
What is your favorite cereal? I don’t really eat breakfast and never cereal. It gets soggy and that’s just yuck.
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No.
What is your favorite ice cream? Plain ol’ vanilla.
What is the first thing you notice about people? Their smile and if its genuine or not.
Red or pink? Red.
What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? I am not patient enough with my kids.
What was the last thing you ate? Mac & cheese for dinner last night.
What are you listening to right now? The sound of the aircon in my office.
If you were a crayon what color would you be? Something in the blue range.
Favorite smell? The first rain of the season.
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? The mom of one of Faith’s friends.
Hair color? Really? I have no idea. Reddish, brown with blondish tips??
I have a whole wall full of family photos (and a whole bunch of much more recent family pics that need to be printed and put in frames and hung up).
My absolute favourite photo is this one.
We are not entirely sure who he is. We think he may be my moms grandfather. I found the photo when I was going through my grans old photos. She had photos from her wedding, photos of her brother and other important family photos and then this one. There is no writing on the back and Paul is convinced its just the photo that came with a frame. But…
I dont think frames came like that back in the day. It wasnt in a frame when I found it, just tucked in loose with the others. And, he looks like my grans brother. Definitely family!
Last Thursday my baby brother graduated with a B.A. in Government. I cant even begin to describe how proud I am of this kid. He not only studied for the last 3 years but he worked full time too. He did all this with the support of his wife and son, who also deserve huge credit! Proud doesn’t even begin to describe it!
My mommy made a surprise visit so she could attend the graduation and I am so glad she was there. Such a special moment to stand together with my brother in his cap and gown.
Now, all these wonderful photos almost didn’t happen. At least, I almost wasn’t in them.
You see I had to get from my office in Lod, to Hertzliya, by 17:15 so my brother could fetch me from the station on his way to the graduation. A friend in the office and I mapped out my route on Moovit and off I went at about 15:00 to catch the bus to the train station.
I got to the station a few minutes earlier than expected and I saw a different train than I had planned was about to come in. So I took it. Without actually checking properly that the train stopped in Hertzliya.
You see, this particular train went via Hertzliya, it just didn’t STOP in Hertzliya. Which I only realised as we breezed through the station. The announcement for the next stop on the route came over the loud speakers. Haifa. An hour away.
Whats a girl going to do? Settle in and read a book, that’s what. (Thank goodness the train had power points so I could charge my reading device aka my phone).
Anyway, after taking some pics of the gorgeous Mediterranean, I got off the train in Haifa and hopped on the next train back to Tel Aviv. Thankfully I didnt have to wait too long. After another hour traveling back, I got off at University station in Tel Aviv and hopped on ANOTHER train to Hertzliya. Again, I didn’t have to wait too long and the train from Tel Aviv to Hertzliya is about 7 minutes.
I got to Hertzliya and after having some difficulty with the scanner reading my ticket, a very nice train employee let me out the station just in time to catch a bus to the IDC campus.
What should have taken me an hour took me just over 3 hours. You would think that since I was so late I would have missed a large chunk of the graduation ceremony. You would think wrong. I only missed one musical number by the local Wind Orchestra and the opening 10 minutes of the Deans speech.
So not only did I get to see my brother walk and collect his degree but I also got to go on an adventure. Good times.
My brother Matt is graduating with a degree in Government this week. This is a huge deal. he is the only one of the three of us to get a degree.
A few months ago my mom called and wanted to plan a trip to come for the graduation. But it would only be for a few days, we couldn’t take leave, the kids were at school and we decided it was too expensive to come for so short a time. Rather she would come for 2 weeks in December.
Fast forward to last Tuesday. My mom phones me. She is booking a ticket and she is coming on Friday. Don’t tell Matt!
The plan was for me to fetch her from the airport on Friday morning, she would go to fetch the kids from school and surprise them and then Matt and Yana were going to come for supper and walk in and be all surprised.
Except they already had plans with Barrie for dinner. So I messaged Barrie who kindly cancelled his plans with them (without letting on why) and they could then come to us for supper.
Except now Matt was suspicious. But deny, deny, deny. No, mom is not coming.
To make the surprise a bit bigger, since Matt was already suspicious that she was coming, we hid mom in the laundry room when they arrived and told the kids to pretend Nana wasn’t here. We made mom wait for 5 minutes in the laundry room before walking out ever so quietly.
Yana saw her first and she was speechless. It took a minute for Matt to click and when he turned around there was mom.
Its been a whirlwind. From getting the tickets to surprising Matt to organising who, where, what and whens. But its been so much fun!
Matt’s graduation is on Wednesday and mom goes back to SA on Friday morning. So a quick trip. But so special to have her here.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
Sheesh people. Really? I have no idea.
I’ve managed to keep two small humans alive for the last 8 and 5 years. That’s pretty epic right?
I’ve moved to a new country and am learning a new language and navigating a new culture.
I’ve been married to a man I love, who drives me nuts, makes me laugh, loves me fiercely, keeps me in line, drives me nuts (oh wait, I said that already), supports me and adores our children, for almost 10 years. I think that’s quit an achievement.
I cook dinner from scratch at least 4/5 times a week. It may only be pasta with cheese sauce or even waffles (sometimes with choc chips in it), but its from scratch. The other days are either re-purposed left overs or hot dogs or pizza and/or corn schnitzel from the freezer.
This years new achievement will be learning to ride a bike! Maybe. Probably. I’m not making any promises.
Last year this time, we were standing in the aliyah office at the airport officially becoming Israeli citizens. We had been on a plane for 9 hours. The kids had only slept for a bit. I had a hole in my eardrum and hadn’t slept at all. Paul had been an absolute champion with organising all of us on very little sleep himself.
A little while later, after collecting 8 of our 9 bags (one was delayed in Johannesburg and would only arrive a week or so later), we made our way outside to find a taxi to take us to our new apartment.
Arriving outside our apartment we were greeted by my sister from another mister, Roro, with a HUGE hug and the keys. Once we got all our bags inside we walked down the road to buy some really important stuff from the local store. A kettle and coffee! Okay, and a few other staples.
My brother arrived after work a bit later that afternoon to help Paul assemble our IKEA beds and we had pizza delivered for dinner, which we ate on the floor. Then our landlord came over to welcome us with a plate of homemade sufganyot (donuts) since it was the first night of chanukah.
That first day seems so long ago and yet it feels like yesterday too.
We’ve had difficult days and bad days between then and now but the majority of our days have been great days.
We have good jobs, a great apartment with a wonderful landlord and fantastic friends, our kids are happy and settled in school, they have awesome friends and speak fluent Hebrew. I’ve learned to navigate public transport and can speak just enough Hebrew to order things at the butcher. I start proper ulpan (Hebrew) classes in February and hopefully my Hebrew will improve enough for me to speak to the kids teachers and friends when we have play dates. In the mean time, Paul’s Hebrew is coming along in leaps and bounds and he can converse with taxi drivers, teachers and random strangers. We get to be close to my brother and his family and even though we don’t see each other nearly enough its great to finally be living in the same country again after over 10 years apart.
This last year has been amazing. I’ve learned so many new things. In particular how strong our family is. Moving to a new country is stressful and our family could have been torn apart but we have only become stronger and closer.
Mostly I am just happy to be home! Here’s to many many more happy years!
On Thursday afternoon, while on the way to a work fun evening, I received a message from our babysitter that she was ill and wouldn’t be able to fetch the kids. The problem was that, because it is Chanukah holidays, the kids finished their after school program earlier than usual and there was no way Paul or I could get to fetch them on time.
We panicked. Paul called a variety of our friends who have kids at school with ours but they were all unavailable. Aunty Roro (who has been my saving grace before in an emergency) was not at home either. In the mean time, I had hopped on a bus to get back to my office so I could catch my regular bus home and Paul was at the train station waiting for the next train.
The after care teacher had called me to see where we were as she needed to leave and a mom who was at the school waiting for her kid to finish an extramural said she could wait another 15 minutes with my kids. At this point I was at least 1 hour and 15 minutes away and Paul was an hour away.
That’s when Paul had a genius idea. He contacted our neighbour who has 3 children, 2 older boys and a girl Faith’s age. As it turns out, the oldest boy was able to run up the road and pick up Aaron and Faith and take them to their apartment.
When Paul got there about 45 minutes later they were all happy and playing and pretty much unaware of the crisis.
I’m not sure what we would have done without our amazing neighbours. We took them some yummy donuts as a thank you and from now on, Aaron will have a key to our apartment just in case they need to walk home from school. I’ve said before how hard it is not having immediate family close by but I can say that our neighbours and friends are a huge part of a village that is raising our children.