Clean All The Things

Spring cleaning. Pesach cleaning. Just all the cleaning.

So far since last Friday we have done the following:

  • Cleaned Aaron’s room.
  • Cleaned Faith’s room.
  • Sorted out Aaron’s cupboard.
  • Sorted out Faith’s cupboard.
  • Cleaned out both pantry cupboards.
  • Swept, vacuumed and steam mopped all the floors (which will have to be redone on Friday).
  • Deep cleaned my oven and stove top (which caused me heart failure when the gas hobs stopped working because they got wet, they now work just fine).
  • De-calking the kettle.
  • I’ve done at least 8 loads of laundry since last weekend including, blankets, duvets, linen, clothes, towels and kitchen cloths & mop cloths.

Still to be done this afternoon and tomorrow morning:

  • Cleaning the fridge and freezer.
  • Cleaning all the kitchen surfaces.
  • Cleaning the microwave.
  • Deep cleaning the bathrooms.
  • Dusting.
  • Sorting out my cupboard.
  • Sweeping, vacuuming and steam mopping all the  floors again.

And after all the cleaning is done, I have to pack away all my day to day crockery and cutlery and kitchen things and unpack all the Pesach things and wash what needs washing before it can be used.

And then the great Pesach cooking can commence.

I already need a nap...

I need a nap already!

 

Bilingual Children

I’ve spoken before about how amazing my kids are in regards to learning Hebrew. How that, within the 1st few months of living in Israel, they were already able to hold a conversation with their friends, teachers and the cashiers at the supermarket.

The fact is that both kids are now fluent. They even know words in Hebrew that they don’t know the English for. Lots of dictionary looking up going on over here.

kids

One of the things that struck me this week is that Faith tends to speak Hebrew when she is playing by herself. I often listen to her playing with her dolls or other toys and speaking in Hebrew to them and making them speak in Hebrew. She very rarely speaks to her dolls in English. She also sings in Hebrew all the time.

Its interesting to me because I don’t think Aaron would do it if he still played with his dolls and action figures by himself (he tends to prefer reading when he is by himself now).

When they play together, just the two of them, they will play in English with a few random Hebrew words or phrases thrown in. When they play together and they have friends over, they speak Hebrew mostly but they switch to English when they are telling each other what to do or fighting about something. I have to keep reminding them that they must speak Hebrew even if it doesn’t involve their friends because its rude to speak English in front of people who don’t understand.

Totally fascinating how they have adjusted.

 

Oops, I did it again…

…kind of.

I didn’t lose anything this time but I did mess up my monthly transport pass.

So a few weeks ago I wrote a post about the fact that we are not buying a car anytime soon and that public transport is cheaper and that I only pay ₪299/month for all my transport (buses and trains between Modi’in, Lod and Tel Aviv).

Well, yesterday, I wasn’t really paying attention when I asked the bus driver to give me a monthly pass. He asked if I wanted the pass to Ramle (which includes my office in Lod) and I said yes, when I meant to get the one to Tel Aviv (which includes everything between Modi’in and Tel Aviv AND my office).

I only realised after I got off the bus. When I promptly kicked myself. I mean really, it was almost ₪50 cheaper than normal and I didn’t notice. Really wasn’t paying attention.

doh

What this meant was that I then had to pay separately for my transport to Tel Aviv for ulpan as well as my transport home. That’s 3 buses and a train which came to roughly ₪40! For just 1 day. Its almost the same as the difference in the monthly pass! And I make that trip twice a week! That would be ₪320 a month!

So this morning I stopped off at the Kavim office (again) in Modi’in and asked them, in Hebrew (yay me!), if they could refund me and then give me the correct pass. And they did. Thankfully they allowed me to get the correct pass and I am only out of pocket that ₪40  from yesterday. It would have been a crazy expensive month if I couldn’t fix my silly mistake.

Lost & Found

I’m on a bit of a roll.

Lost & Found

Last week I lost my bus pass. I only realised that it was lost when I couldn’t find it on the way home. It’s a good thing I had some cash on me or I would have been stuck at work.  I went the very next morning to the bus office in Modi’in to get a new one and transfer my balance and there it was sitting on the desk. The driver must have found it when he cleaned the bus and handed it in.

Then, yesterday was an ulpan day, which means I take 2 buses from work to Tel Aviv. I got off my first bus and reached into my pocket to get my phone so I could check the app to see when my next bus arrived and my phone wasn’t there.

Okay, let’s not panic. I checked my backpack thinking maybe I popped it in the bag when I put my charger away (I had been charging the phone on the bus). Nope, not there. Okay, now start to panic. One of two things could have happened, I left it on the bus or I was pick pocketed. I had my iPad in my bag but no connectivity until I reached ulpan, some 20 minutes away. The longest 20 minutes ever!

As soon as I got to class I messaged Paul who told me that he had spoken to the bus driver and he had my phone! Long story short, someone called Paul who then called the driver who confirmed he had my phone. After some back and forward  it was established I work in Lod and that the driver would leave the phone at the bus office at the central bus stop in Lod. Which is where I went this morning on my way to work. #OnlyInIsrael

After some very stilted Hebrew on my side and some charades (thanks for the word Shani!) from both sides I received my phone back. The guy at the office thought I was hysterically funny and asked for a selfie with me. Who the hell knows where that picture is going to end up. Please let me know if you see it.

Both times I lost things I was on a Kavim bus line and I have to commend the drivers and staff in the offices for their honesty, friendliness and hard work.

So, 2 lost things, both returned. I’m hoping I don’t lose a 3rd thing!

Oh yes, not technically a Lost & Found thing but on the weekend I dropped my iPad and cracked the top of the screen. I taped it together with clear packing tape and it is still usable but it needs to be fixed soon. Maybe the iPad is the 3rd thing and my streak is over? One can hope!

קרמבו/Crembo/Krembo

However you spell it, in whatever language, the result is just delicious.

crembo It also heralds the arrival of winter in Israel. Summer is just too hot for this amazing sweet to survive.

Basically a Crembo is a biscuit (cookie for my US/Israeli friends) base with a soft vanilla or mocha flavoured marshmallow fluff topping covered in chocolate. A bit like a Sweetie Pie in South Africa.

crembo1

Crembos are an Israeli institution and are pretty much the nation sweet. 

How you eat a Crembo is highly subjective. Do you eat them as is or do you freeze them first? I freeze them. Do you start at the top or with the biscuit or do you eat off all the chocolate first? I tend to start at the top and work my way down and I’m in good company, according to a study by Strauss (the makers of Crembo) 69% of people start at the top.

Crembo can be found in a lot of popular culture too. I’m waiting for Aaron to reach the part in Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (Hebrew translation) where it’s said that Dumbledore’s favourite sweet is a Crembo (instead of a sherbet lemon).

And now I’m craving Crembo. I think I will pop into the store on my way home and stock up before summer arrives.

 

The wheels on the bus…

A few people have asked me when or if we will be getting a car and if public transport is feasible in Israel.

We have been in Israel for just over a year now and other than two instances where we hired a car for a weekend, we have not driven at all. We would like to eventually buy a car, especially so we have transport for Saturdays/Shabbat when the public transport system is closed.

So far, relying on public transport has been pretty much okay. Having a well oiled (haha) public transport system is a huge help. Buses are plentiful and, mostly, run on time as do the trains. Its also quite a bit more cost effective than buying and maintaining a car. The downside of course is losing the convenience having a car gives you. Standing in rain that is coming in sideways while waiting for a bus is not fun. Taking children to friends and parties that are not within walking distance or on a bus route would also be a pleasure. But, I personally think at this point, not owning a car makes a lot more sense for us.

Recently, public transport was reformed to streamline costs of bulk (monthly) tickets and yesterday the pricing for public transport was dropped across the board by 17%. I now pay ₪299/month and this covers all my buses and trains between Modi’in and Tel Aviv. I worked out that on average I travel 1044km a month between home, work and ulpan. So if my calculations are correct (they very well might not be, I suck at math), then I am paying on average ₪0.28/km (R1.13/km).

According to Numbeo, the same distance traveled in a ‘Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)’ with an average cost of ₪6.38/l of petrol, would average ₪333 in gas or ₪0.32/km (R1.30/km). Already more expensive and that’s just petrol, never mind insurance, drivers licence, car license and general upkeep (and the cost of the actual car!).

So yup, for now I will continue to take public transport.

Gratuitous picture of my brothers dog when she was a puppy.
Gratuitous picture of my brothers dog when she was a puppy.

*For complete accuracy I would really have to take into account Paul’s transport costs too. He also travels by train and bus. But, we would only buy 1 car, so one of us would most probably still take public transport to and from work while the other would use the car. In which case I think my above calculations are reasonable.

#ZombiePrompts Week 3

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

Sheesh people. Really? I have no idea.

Let’s see…

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.

Image by Paul

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.

I’m a student again

Well, 2 nights a week at least.

Last night was my first ulpan lesson. It went pretty well even though the class actually started on 1 December 2015 and I have a little bit of catching up to do.

I was 1 of 3 new people in the class and my level of Hebrew seems to be about average compared to everyone else.

On Sunday I will officially register and receive my workbook.

The class is made up of Russian, French, British, American and South African (2 of us) students. They range in age from early 20’s to to 2 ladies who have grand kids.

My teacher speaks English, Hebrew, Russian and a smattering of French. 

I’m hoping by the end of the next 10 months I will be able to hold a conversation with my Hebrew speaking colleagues.

But for now, baby steps.

hebrewletters new

#ZombiePrompts Week 2

What DIY projects are on your spring to-do list?

Well, we have been in Israel for just over a year. We are renting our apartment but our landlords are pretty darn amazing and are happy for us to make our apartment our home (within reason).

One of the things I really, really want to do is put up our pictures. In SA we had a gorgeous red family photo wall in our dining room and I really miss seeing all those pictures.

Yes, I know, we have been living in our apartment for a year! Yes, I know, our things arrived 9 months ago! And we still haven’t put any pictures up on the walls (I’m looking at you Paul!)

So my big DIY project is to get those pictures up. Our home has come a long way since we moved in. Here it is right at the beginning. And here it is the day our lift arrived.

And here is what it looks like now. At least the lounge. I want to fill that big blank wall with the family pictures. 

   

Looking forward to showing you more when the pictures are up on the walls.

One word, two word, red word, blue word.

One of the benefits you receive as a new immigrant in Israel is free language classes (ulpan).

You have up to 18 months to make use of the benefit and if you don’t use it you would have to pay for any language classes you took after that time.

If we had not managed to find jobs almost straight away, both Paul and I would have attended full time ulpan. That consists of 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months. As it is we were both very lucky and were able to find jobs within a few weeks of arriving. The Ministry of Absorption makes a plan for those like us and there are ulpan schools that provide part time, after hours classes. 

For the last 10 months, Paul has been attending these classes 2 nights a week for 3 hours a night. His classes come to an end at the end of this month and mine will start at the beginning of February.

This morning I hopped a train to Tel Aviv and went to the Ministry office to receive my voucher that needs to be given to the ulpan so that I don’t have to pay for the classes. On Sunday afternoon I will go to the ulpan to register and to be tested to see which level class I will be placed in.

While I can make myself understood on a very, very basic level and most of the children’s friends parents speak some degree of English, I’m actually very excited to be formally learning Hebrew, it will make my life that much easier are far more enriched to be able to understand what is being said around me.

I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never been very good at languages. Or classrooms. Or studying. But I saw the quote below (by a fellow Israeli!) and that pretty much describes me, so onward with the learning!

study learn