Tag Archives: ex pat living

Youth Don’t Leave Me

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I may well have slipped onto the slide of middle-age and am currently flying past every marker Cliff-Richard_2225978bon route. This week’s marker was, at first glance, something only the young do: waiting for concert tickets to go on sale to ensure purchase. Then I realised I was over 40 and my chosen concert was to see an old heart-throb (yes I used that word) Mr Robbie Williams, who by the way has also passed the 40 mark. As a teen I humoured my mother and her love of Cliff Richard, thinking not so secretly that he was passed it and my mum slightly embarrassing in her love for him. I have become my mother. So has Robbie Williams become Cliff Richard? I imagine he thinks not. When weighing up the evidence I concluded that 25 – 30 years ago Sir Cliff was in his 40s, an ageing heart-throb who was and to some, still is, a superstar. Check – Robbie too. My Ma was over 40 and although never his number 1 fan did have a very soft spot for him. Check – I have loved Robbie since he first appeared in his underwear with his Take That buddies back in the early 90s. In conclusion, Middle Age.

RW poster_habI started calling the ticket line 2 minutes before the tickets went on sale. When I stopped calling 45 minutes later it was still engaged. Luckily, old I may be but clued up in the ways of t’internet I am also. The website not so much crashed as got stuck, sent me back instead of forward, made me register with them 3 times (3 different email addresses) but eventually I stumbled through the Hebrew and ascertained that I had indeed bought the 6 tickets I had intended to. Yes, I have a number of other ‘we’re not middle-aged, we’re too young’ girls (and one boy(straight!?)) coming with me. Ah, but did I buy 6 or have I inadvertently bought 12? Due to the incredibly annoying website I had to wait another 3 hours to get the email confirming my purchase and as it stands 24 hours later I am now the proud owner of 6 tickets.

This year has been quite a year for this old dear. I have been to see Justin Timberlake (what a professional) and Lady Gaga or is that GaGa. The latter concert we left early due to our inability to see the stage and therefore the distracting dancers that would have entertained where the music failed. Sorry Gaga fans, just not my thing, but it was free. I have also finally downloaded music onto an ipod that has been sat in its box since last April. I won’t embarrass myself by ‘fessing up to what is on my playlist. Oh. Dear. No.

I have mentioned previously that I am no muso. I leave that to my incredibly knowledgeable and infinitely cooler friends. Problem is, they too are getting on and so therefore they must also be dropping in the cool stakes. I can rule out riding on the coat tails of knowledge from teenage kids as mine are still one foot in nursery rhymes and the other in Gangham Style. The radio stations in Israel have 30 records and after 2 long car rides I have heard them all and no “(I’ll Never Be) Maria Magdalena” by Sandra (1985) does not count as cool, it never did.

I therefore must admit to myself that I am indeed middle-aged, my children will think me article-2512569-1999C82100000578-667_634x867ultimately uncool and Robbie, I still love you, grey, married, over 40 and with kids and damn it I will love you when you get your knighthood and we are both in our dotage. I hope that relative peace stays intact until May and the Israel haters don’t put you off. There are a lot of us not middle-aged-middle-aged fans waiting for you.

WTF?

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20140523-112458-41098568.jpgTen years on and there are many things in Israel, quirks shall we say, that I didn’t think I would ever get used to. In fact on arrival many of them struck me at the least strange and at the worst absurd.  Here are my favourites;

1. Cottage.  No not a small quaint house in the countryside but cottage cheese.  Yes cottage cheese is called cottage and when I told the childers that we were going to stay in a cottage they thought it was hilarious.

2. Breakfast of salad (with onion) and the ubiquitous, cottage.  Just. No.

3. Young men going out in the evening for a coffee.  In fact many go out for coffee and cake.  In touch with their feminine sides or just not lager louts like the Brits?

4. 1 day weekends.  I believe I have complained about this before.  Kids go to school, some people work.  The weekend starts on Friday afternoon and ends as the sun goes down on Saturday. Too darned short.

5. Shabbat.  I have also talked about this delicious day before.  When the roads are quiet, the stores are closed and you don’t feel you should be doing something other than hanging out with the family or relaxing at the beach.

6. What we in the UK would call cheek nay rudeness – chutzpah.  ‘How much do you earn?’, How much do you pay for your mortgage/rent/weekly shop?’. ‘Why don’t you have more/less children?’ etc etc.

7. Handball.  Its a game where grown men run around a pitch hitting a ball with the palm of their hand to each other.  What? (along the lines curling in its absurdity)

8. Going out at midnight.  I like to sleep.  I liked to sleep when I was still young enough to go out at night.  To rest until 11pm and then get up to go out is just plain weird.

9. Throw away cups, crockery, cutlery and soft drinks.  Go to any event, wedding, funeral, bar mitzvah or political meeting and you will find these arranged on the table.  There is a genuine reason behind it – the laws of kashrut for those who keep kosher – but it always strikes me as odd to arrive at an event and see orange squash and plastic utensils laid on the table.

10. Buy 2 get 1 free.  I only want one.  Where’s my discount?

Confessions

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Confessions

December 14th, 2013

“Would you like the same present for your birthday that I got you last year?”,

“what was it? pyjamas? yes I like new pyjamas”,

“no, sellotape*”

(*that’s scotch tape to my American friends)

And with that it all came rushing back, the trauma and turmoil of this time last year when I turned 40.  I actually thought that the set of coloured biros and coloured sellotape was a sweet, albeit interesting choice of present but as No. 1 son had obviously chosen them himself I was all the more appreciative.  It was a small highlight in an otherwise dark day.  I didn’t like turning 40.  Having started writing my mutterings on the run up to my new decade I had thought I had it well under control. Looking back I now see it was a huge rite of passage  and only now, as I turn 41 do I think I am really OK with being ‘old’.

This time last year I was stricken with  a throat infection and determined not to miss out on the surprise gathering my husband had planned for that evening (yes, sorry I did know) I stuffed myself full of every over-the-counter remedy possible, plus a healthy dose of my 2-year-old’s antibiotics.  Yes, that was a secret too, which one year on I am not ashamed (well only partially) to admit.  I figured that if antibiotics started working in 24 hours then 1 dose the night before and 1 the next morning should do the trick.  I hadn’t counted on the enormous amount of sugar in an adult size dose of children’s antibiotics.  My kidneys ached for days and I worried silently of the permanent damage.  That’s how desperate I was to celebrate my big 4-0, I know, I know, sad and shameful. I also drank a lot of water – I mean a lot for weeks afterwards.  Rather goes to show that with age does not come sense.

The good news is I made it out that evening and my drama training stood me well as I don’t think anyone suspected I knew what was in store (least of all my darling husband who was v proud of himself).  By that time, slightly high on medication and a couple of glasses of cava I had a lovely time.  Not so much the next day.  Then the hangover and realisation that I could no longer consider myself ‘young’ really kicked in.  Goodness knows how I’ll be at 50.

I spent yesterday thinking about the ‘must do’ list I created pre-40 and thought about what I had achieved in my 41st year.  I have finally taken up exercise and have surprised myself by enjoying it.  It has meant I have gained weight which I am reassured is muscle but I’m not so sure.  I have worn shoes with heels much more than I did.  I have tried to be less sensitive about other’s opinions (still trying) and I have gone from 1/4 time job plus full time parenting to 3 jobs and only partial full time parenting (hooray for kindergarten).

December 15th, 2013

So what about today I hear you ask, how is the birthday so far.  Well, I have had 2 cards and one happy birthday.  I am not sick, not stressed about my age – 41 somehow sounds younger than 40 – go figure. I have not taken any medication, mine or the children’s and I am 100% sure that no surprise gathering is being planned. I am in fact quite calm. No doubt I shall be receiving colourful sellotape, or some other comedy present from the childers this afternoon (it’s actually very useful), I am presuming cake and candles will make an appearance and I am happy to report that I am in a far better place on December 15th 2013 than I was on the same date in 2012.

Happy birthday to me.

A bitter sweet symphony, that’s life

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Parents will do anything to protect their children but sometimes it’s the little things that you can’t protect them from and though they may be life lessons, they are so hard to learn.

Yesterday was voting day for local government in Israel.  We chose a mayor and the members of the city council and so as usual I wanted to take no. 1 son to the polling station yesterday evening so he could see the democratic process in action (and he likes posting the votes in ballot box).  It was getting late so decked out in full pj regalia and ready for bed (the kids not hubby and I) we all went, en famille, across the road to cast our votes, twins in the double stroller and no. 1 son on his scooter.

courtesy of wikipedia

courtesy of wikipedia

As an aside I should say that voting in a foreign language is no mean feat.  In Israel you don’t mark the box on the ballot paper and post it like in the UK,  you choose the slip of paper with your candidate’s party already marked and post that.  Sounds simple right?  Wrong.  The party is not written on the slip of paper, instead there is a letter or a couple of letters and unless you are familiar with the letters of your party (it’s not the equivalent of D for democratic or L for Labour, more randomly S for Labour or G for Democratic – I am sure there is a reason for it but I haven’t found it out yet), its hard to know who you are voting for.  I am an old hat at this now so am ready prepared before entering the booth, but the first time I was well and truly thrown and took the longest time to vote in the history of democracy as I laboriously read all the small print to figure out which party was which.  But that’s by the by.

scooterFast forward to this morning when no. 1 son was looking for his scooter to go to nursery on.  Ooops.  Scooter was left outside the community centre polling station.  After dropping off the little ones at nursery this morning we hurried over to see if the scooter was still there.  Of course it wasn’t.  We checked with the manager, the cleaners, the caretaker, no scooter.  The more we searched the more silent no. 1 son became, not like him at all.

By the way in Israel we refer to scooters as corkinets.  I am still researching why this is and where the word comes from – it’s also used to refer to the electric scooters – if anyone can enlighten me….

As we walked away with my plans to put up a sign in the neighbourhood and worse case scenario (for me) get him a new one, the questions began.  ‘So where is it now’, umm, ‘why would someone take it?’ umm, ‘Saba and Safta (grandparents) bought it so how can we get another one, you don’t know where to buy one’.  And then the fat slow tears.  The worst kind of tears for a parent because your eyes fill too.  No screaming and carrying on, no demanding and stamping just silent wet tears because at 5 you just don’t understand that someone would take something of yours, that something that you love has just gone and that you won’t see it again.  

It’s a fact of life that things go missing, that people take stuff that doesn’t belong to them and hard though it is for him, it is, after all, only a scooter but it broke his heart all the same and a little chunk of mine too.  I wanted to make it alright for him.  I wanted him to understand that it’s not so bad, there are things we can do to make it right but the fact remained that he left it and now its gone.   I empathise, I am incredibly over sensitive and was known in childhood to give emotions and personalities to inanimate objects.  When we lost a camera in a theme park when I was 10 I couldn’t sleep I was so upset – ‘all those photos that we will never see’, ‘poor camera, is it alone somewhere in a dark empty theme park?’.  Yes really… I know.

When he comes home today he may well have forgotten about it (until he wants to ride it) but I am bracing myself for the next level of questioning ‘ did a thief take it?’, ‘will the police catch them?’, ‘will they go to prison’.  Yes, no, no, life sucks sometimes but it’s not the end of the world, possibly not what I should say.  Poor kid, perhaps the newly elected Mayor can help.

It’s life Kate, but not as you knew it

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My friend is a teacher back home and her Remembrance Day assembly this year is how wars affect families.  She asked me to write about my family’s experiences, she actually suggested I make a video to which I snorted and said no, although seeing as she is an English teacher I am a bit scared about the grammar mistakes I have made.  Anyway, here’s what I wrote.

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Until 9 years ago war was something that happened on the news, to people in the army and in history.  Then 9 years ago I moved to Israel and war, or at least the constant threat of it has quickly become a part of everyday life. Now I am the not so proud owner of my own gas mask and my home has a bomb proof safe room.

The first time I experienced war first hand was 18 months into living here when the 2nd Lebanon war broke out between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.  My husband as a serving member of the Israel Defence Force was called up to fight.  In Israel all able men from the age of 18 to around 40 are either serving in the army or are reservists and so despite my husband being a chef and more attuned to baking on a daily basis he also has to be trained and ready to fight as a combat soldier.  When war broke out we knew there was a chance he would go, we thought as a reservist he would be needed to take over from the positions of the career soldiers whilst they went into Lebanon.  Not so.  He called me from the barracks after a week and told me in code he was going in.  That was the last I heard from him, or about him for over a week.  It was my first taste of the real fear that it really could happen to us, that it wasn’t just news and it was truly terrifying.  Life continued as normal in Tel Aviv and if you ignored the fighter jets and choppers flying overhead you wouldn’t know there was a real war going on just an hour’s drive North.  They called Tel Aviv the bubble, a bubble that on his return from whatever he experienced seem unreal and difficult to comprehend.

We now have 3 children and this time last year when the Gaza conflict broke out and the sirens were sounding throughout the middle and south of the country it affected us in a different way.  This time we heard the explosions, saw the soldiers and tanks on route to the South and had to prepare for possible missile attack.  We are lucky enough (so far) to live in the centre of Israel so a few hours from the North and South borders where, in my experience, the missiles fall.  One day during last November my kid’s play park was full of young female soldiers handing out leaflets of what to do to prepare and how to react if the siren sounded.  It also gave clear guidelines on how long each area of Israel had from the alarm sounding to detonation.  We had 2 and a half minutes.

Our children are still very young so were seemingly unaware, although my eldest did ask me why ‘they’ wanted to throw rockets at us.  Tricky to explain the intricacies of war to a 4 year old especially as there are always 2 sides, not always one right and one wrong.  The conflict was mercifully short but the ‘bubble’ that Tel Aviv had lived in was well and truly popped.  We are not really safe anywhere.

This summer’s tensions in Syria brought a new wave of panic as the real threat of chemical attack once again reared its ugly head. We were advised to buy bottled water, to ready the safe room and to make sure our gas masks were in date but for now, that threat has lessened and I hope never becomes a reality.

Since 2004 when I moved to Israel the terrifying terrorist war has quietened down, the bus bombs and unexpected attacks on the general public not so common.  But there is always the fear and you are never far away from armed security and army personnel, nor from those whose friends and family have been injured or killed.  We are vigilant and we try not to panic.  I choose not to talk to my children about it, others tell theirs everything. For me, as a Briton, it is something that I didn’t have to deal with growing up and I want to protect my little ones from the fear for as long as possible.  If we stay here then it will all too soon become part of their everyday life anyway.  My children, like all Israelis will join the army at 18; the boys for 3 years and my daughter for 2.

Although not strictly speaking a war-zone at present, life here is tough; the threat and fear is real and constant.  When the sun is shining and the Mediterranean sparkling it’s hard to envision the ugliness of war.  I cannot imagine how it must have felt to be a mother in Gaza city or Beirut, Iraq or Afghanistan in recent years.  I hope for my family’s sake that we and all families affected by war around the world experience some peace.

Looks like we made it

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Note to self: do not get on a budget airline with a 5 year old and two almost 3 year olds again unless you are a) desperate b) guaranteed two rows of seats c) drunk/on prozac and with a ready supply of top ups for a 6 hour flight.  Actually make that 8 hours if you add the 2 hour delay.  I was not impressed with Jet2’s generous, “apologies for the short delay” at the end of our flight when I was borderline sobbing from exhaustion.

The most important thing is that we made it, we are now safely ensconced in the loving warmth of my family in a slightly damp part of the UK.  Gone is the terrible 80% humidity and 35 degree temperatures of Tel Aviv, for the next couple of weeks at least.

To be honest the flight, which I had been dreading to the point of denial since I booked to bring the childers alone for the summer hols, was better than expected.  Apart from a short period of complete over excitement from number 1 son and a slightly hysterical moment when I couldn’t spot no. 2 son in the departure lounge it was really only the terrible boredom and discomfort of 6 hours in the air with 3 little ones that had me verging on hysteria by the time we landed.

Here are some of my top tips for travelling by air with multiple small children: 

– dress them in the same coloured t shirts for easy distinction in a busy airport

– bring the small shoulder pouches their Israeli grandmother made them and stuffed with distracting crayons, plasticine, miniature notebooks, stickers, puzzle books and tiny toys.  It’s a genius idea that kept them busy for at least 45 minutes (which sounds like a little but it was 45 minutes I wasn’t juggling/entertaining them)

– Food – in small packages that takes time to open as well as eat.

– Pull up nappies – despite spending at least 1/6 of the flight at the toilet (3 small children all needing the loo at different times results in a lot of door holding and hand washing), I put the little ones in nappies rather than carry a billion changes of just in case clothes.

– Wipes – where would a mother be without environmentally unfriendly wipes?

– Water – don’t dare ask the cabin crew for a drink of water each time your child requests one.  Jet2 cabin crew on the whole aren’t a happy bunch, (although a couple on our flight were thankfully the exception) so pressing the call button at any stage is inadvisable.

– Check the DVD player is charged and NOT LEFT ON when you leave the house.  If you make the effort to carry a DVD player plus DVDs thereby taking up half your carry on luggage you should at least be sure it will work. Doh.

– Make sure you can work the borrowed laptop you are using as another form of children’s entertainment.

– Make sure the earphones you have brought for the children’s entertainment work.

– Make sure that if you have messed up all electronic forms of entertainment that YOU  are armed with a few thousand talents to ensure peace for your fellow passengers.

– Wear shoulder pads and a cushion in your trousers.  This helps protect you when one son falls asleep across 11/2 of your 3 chairs and you and the twins share a chair and a half between you (because no-one wants to sit on the 1 remaining seat on the other side of the aisle)

– Make friends with your fellow passengers.  You WILL need their help and you don’t want their hindrance (thank you to the lovely extended family sitting near me.) 

– Make friends with the cabin crew, even if it means talking through gritted teeth – why are they so grumpy?  Having befriended the lovely Ryan on our flight he let myself and the twins hang out in the galley for a much needed change of scene.

– Breathe.  Sometimes its easy to forget and hyperventilation at altitude with 3 dependents is inadvisable.

So, we made it, here we are.  I am very very happy to be home and even happier that I will be doing the return journey with my husband.  Phew.

 

 

A little mouse with clogs on

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Mickey MouseYou’d be forgiven for thinking my home is infested with vermin as there are days when I believe it to be true. If it’s not the cockroach colony raving in my back garden at night, it’s the ants that appear from nowhere and form lines across my work surfaces if I don’t disinfect them every 3 minutes. The latest visitor to my house was a mouse. We’ll call him Mickey.. Mickey made a brief visit to my kitchen a couple of days ago and yet again that deep-throated, strangulated scream was emitted from my mouth.

After waiting half an hour for him to re-emerge from underneath the fridge I had devised a plan. Husband had confidently told me to block the fridge and wait until he got home to deal with it. He really thought I was going to hang out 8 hours with a mouse. His other suggestion was whacking it on the head. Neither suggestion appealed. Having watched enough survivor programmes on Discovery and being a big fan of Bear Grylls I formulated a plan to release Mickey back into the wilds of the garden without a scratch.

This was no ordinary mouse. Oh no, Mickey was one smart SOB and when he appeared in the living room – how did he get there? – I herded him with the aid of a washing up bowl to an open space and captured him underneath said bowl. How about this for genius, I pushed the bowl complete with Mickey underneath out the front door and out of the main door of the building. What did clever clogs do next? (the mouse that is, not me). He tried to get back in. In fact it was a good 5 minutes before the plate-glass finally defeated him and he ran off.

3 hours later and through the closed screen door I saw him ambling passed. Yes ambling, no scuttling or running as mice are want to do. Oh no Mickey the coolest mouse on the block was casing the joint. My joint. He then started to climb the screen. So determined to hang out chez nous he was vertical up the screen looking for the hole through which he probably entered in the first place. Cue strange strangled yelp from yours truly and a whack on the screen door to dislodge him. He hung around for a bit and I haven’t seen him since – truth be told I’m rather hoping the neighbourhood cats or the local barn owl got him.

So now in amongst my night-time fears of mice sized roaches running across the bed I now have to fear actual mice. I have sealed the house and man is it hot in here, our a/c bill will be huge, too afraid am I to let fresh air in.

Someone I know recently found a scorpion in her washing basket, someone else has rats running up her palm trees so I should consider myself lucky that it was Mickey who paid us a visit. Lets just hope she didn’t have some babies whilst she was here…

How much is that doggie in the window?

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It’s a sad day in our house today as we are recovering from the news that our dear doggie has died.  I chose Jesse from a shelter when he was around 6 months old and I was around 6 months in Israel.  We were both struggling.  He was flea infested and his ginger hair was a mass of dreadlocks, I was sunburnt and culture shocked. He had a nice face, was quiet and waited to leave his kennel before doing his business, I was already house trained.

I wanted a spaniel as that’s what I’d had as I was growing up and Jesse was the nearest thing, half spaniel, half golden retriever (or so the vet told us).  Over the first few months Jess and I were inseparable, I was not working, in a new country and pretty much friendless and Jesse was a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  The sun was still a novelty to me so we went on gigantic walks in the boiling heat, hanging out on beaches and parks, drinking water from fountains and collapsing in the air conditioning when we got home.

Jesse was not allowed in the bedroom or on the furniture, in fact for the first few weeks he slept on the balcony, but as time went on and the more attached I became Jess learnt to push the boundaries and would sit on the doorway of the bedroom, half in, half out.  A few months later he was sleeping on the end of our bed and much to my husband’s chagrin that became his unofficial place.

When number 1 son arrived Jess became depressed, he had been the spoilt only child for so long, his wet nose was well and truly pushed out of joint.  The walks were shorter and the attention not so centred on his floppy ears.  We lived in an apartment in Tel Aviv with no lift and no parking space so every morning before work I took baby and dog down, found the car on a side street, took the pram out of the boot, put baby in pram, walked 20 minutes, took baby out of pram, put pram back in the car boot, climbed the 3 flights of stairs with dog and baby to put dog in the flat and then went back down to strap baby in the car to head off to work via the nanny.  Phew, hot work. In the heat of mid summer I used to leave the pram and the baby in the corner shop opposite whilst I ran the dog upstairs (we knew the shopkeepers very well!). Then we discovered I was pregnant with twins.

Apartment, no parking space, no lift, a 2-year-old, twin babies and a dog and then my brother-in-law told us they were going to get a rescue dog…  Hmmm.  At this stage we were pretty much set on returning to the UK and so after a lot of soul-searching we decided that to give Jesse to a good home where we could visit all the time and where there wouldn’t  be 3 small children bugging him would be the best for everyone.  It also meant that if we were to leave we wouldn’t need to give him to a stranger.  So with heavy hearts and some relief Jesse moved to a new home.  We also moved, to suburbia and life became a whirl of nappies and baby equipment.  We saw Jess regularly and he was certainly happy in his new child free home.

Fast forward a couple of years and Jess became a regularly guest chez nous.  The kids adored him and his visits would prompt long beach walks and daily fights as to who held his lead. He slept on the floor next to number 1 son. His last stay was only a week ago, his death quick and surprising.  We can rest assured that he had a good life.  Adults and children alike adored him, he was patted by everyone who passed him.  He may have been ill at the very end but I like to think he is chasing waves on a beach in doggie heaven now  Rest in Peace baby dog.  We love you.

Dedication, that’s what you need

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Bureaucracy stinks.  There is not a country in the world that does not have its own set of bureaucratic problems.  However, I don’t live in another country in the world, I live in Israel.

Here is a quick guide on how to answer questions, fill in forms and deal with bureaucracy, Israel-style.

1.  A straightforward question on a form is not straightforward.  Think as far out of the box as possible eg. are you married, single, other? answer, fish.  That way your water bill will be cheaper.

2. Do not expect the representative of the government department you are speaking to by telephone to tell the truth.  Rather than say, ‘I don’t know’, it is more than likely a fabricated story will be offered or you will be yelled at for not knowing the answer yourself.

3.  Have access to a fax machine and printed off forms.  Internet access or call centres do not a department make, this is 1985 you know.  Pen to paper all the way.

4. A visit in person to the main office is oftentimes the most productive way to deal with a query.  Take with you; your employer’s blessing to be off for the whole day, packed lunch, warm clothing for the air conditioning, a book, all the relevant documentation in triplicate, ID (with photocopy), patience, throat lozenges to soothe your voice box after the meeting and a tasty bribe for the clerk (homemade pastries work well).

5. Do your research.  If you want something done fast try to get hold of the name of someone in the department and then check them on Facebook, Linked In, outlook address book etc. until you find someone you know, who knows them.  Then get your friend to speak to their friend/family member to ensure the desired outcome. (In Israel this is very easy as there is only 1 degree of separation not 6)

6. Personal stories always help.  “I couldn’t register my car/pay my fine/make that court date because my mother has been sick, I have been sitting shiva (7 day mourning period), my son just went to the army, I was in miluim (reserve duty), I have just moved here from [insert country] and don’t understand.  Feel free to embellish (make up) for the human connection.

7. Do not expect the same answer to the same question from 2 different people in the same department. For example?  What colour form do I need?  Answer 1 – pink, answer 2 – green.  Fill in the blue one.

8. Don’t take it personally.  If you follow the last part of clause 4 you will discover that the clerks are indeed human and welcome some interaction that doesn’t involve raised voices, spittle and empty threats.  So try to remain calm, persevere and a little dedication to completing the task in hand should stand you in good stead.

computer says no

Do you want to come to a party?

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It’s been a weekend of parties.  Unfortunately not parties of the adult variety but 5-year-old birthday parties.  A strange phenomenon of my eldest’s nursery is that all the kids seem to have birthdays from May to July.  Must be something in the water in the autumn here.  Anyway every week I duly head off to the toy store and buy the most appropriate non-bank loan inducing present or 3 and every weekend my son comes home high on sugar and over excitement clutching a plastic toy which invariably is broken by the end of the evening.  I am currently taking notes as in a month’s time I will be the hostess to 35 five-year-olds.

Luckily his best friend shares the same birthday week so the 2 families are combining to provide a party in the local park complete with entertainment, balloons and due to the extreme heat no jelly and ice cream.  When investigating the party jolly rogerentertainer I discovered a few facts I, as a new children’s party organizer, had previously not contemplated.  Firstly, I am in the wrong business.  For an hour and half or two Coco the Clown and the like earn an inordinate amount of dosh.  One entertainer quoted 2,200 shekels ($600 or £400), obviously we didn’t hire him.  There are circus acts complete with acrobats hanging from sheets, magicians and my personal favourite, Roy Boy (yes really) who dresses like Tarzan and does the most incredible one-man theatre show complete with live animals – I didn’t call him, I figured the cost may outweigh the occasion. We decided on a pirate party entertainer who does magic, I have absolutely no idea what he will be like but pirates and magic seems like a winning combination for two small boys.

Then my thoughts turned to food.  Children like to eat rubbish, period.  By rubbish I mean anything that is brightly coloured MelonSlicesand/or loaded with sugar, salt or monosodium glutamate and although I have been known to let my children indulge on occasion I do feel a real sense of guilt (or is it fear of the highs) at providing 35 kids with a sugar fest.  So for the past few weekends I have been eyeing up the party food on other’s tables and surreptitiously watching what the kids eat and I have discovered to my joy that if you provide vegetables (the Israeli child population is brought up on cucumber and tomatoes), watermelon and the ever plentiful at this time of year, grapes then the kids eat them.  So not to be seen as the crazy Yma (mummy) I will of course bring some kind of crisps or pretzel type snacks and as I noticed at the last party the genius idea of popcorn (cheap and tasty) will also be making an appearance.  Having seen full pizzas being tossed at the end of the party I think going back to old skool and providing a Israel-style sandwiches ie.  Pitta and hummus could be the way forward for something more substantial.

Daddy is a baker so no.1 son’s cake will be taken care of by someone other than myself.  He has requested a spider web withspiderman a spider and spider man.  I may try to encourage a pirate ship, want to keep the occasion themed right?!

Last thing on the list then is the goody bags.  So far we have received whistles and water pistols, beach balls and swimming goggles that I can remember so when browsing the local dollar store I had a peak for inspiration.  I’m thinking eye patches or is that just too weird?  It is a pirate party after all, parrots are out and cutlasses and a bottle of rum not really age appropriate (good perhaps for the parents).  Maybe I should stick with bubbles.

rumI must admit I am really looking forward to it – I don’t get out, ever – just to see the excitement and un-paralleled joy on his face when he realizes it is his party and he and his best friend are the magicians assistants. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.