Saturday, April 30, 2011

Roses

As you have noticed, I began blogging more regularly again, thanks to the fact that the problems we've had with our internet connection have been solved. Thanks to you all for bearing with me, and my apologies to all those who asked questions in comments or sent emails and got no reply within a month or two - if it's still relevant, you are welcome to write again.

The following pictures are also from our Pesach vacation. We were driving by in Kfar Tavor, and saw a row of rose bushes in all imaginable colors along the road. The afternoon sun was so bright and golden and the air was so sweet, and the roses bloomed so luxuriously. It was one of those magical moments, you know, the ones you want to hold on to forever. I know there is no way I can convey how it felt to us back then, but here are a few snapshots my husband took. 
 Perfection in pale yellow,
 lavender,
 and red.
I hope you all have a beautiful day, and a wonderful week to come.

Mrs. T

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pics from Pesach

This year, we had the chance to visit some of the far-off corners of our little country.
 Above: a magnificent view over the lake of Kinneret, at Tiberias.
 A single boat and some rafters (I think) in the distance.
 The wineries at Kfar Tavor (a tourist village at the north of Israel). If you enlarge the picture, you might be able to see the names of the grape varieties.
I don't know what this bird is called (it's seasonal around here), but it's really pretty, isn't it?

All pictures were taken by my husband, who has a wonderful eye for photography.

I hope you all are having a wonderful spring, and remain your affectionate friend,

Mrs. T

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Twas the week before Pesach


This is an account of my pre-Pesach-frenzied-cleaning week, though I don’t know when I’m going to actually get to post this. Anyway, as always, the mad cleaning race is upon us, and I try to stay away from pressure-inducing discussions of who already did what, because no matter what I do, it always seems as though it’s not nearly enough compared to what others did. :o)

Last Saturday night, my husband and I sat down in front of the computer, and together compiled a cleaning plan in an Excel chart, complete with division of chores through each day of the week, excepting Friday (which will be dedicated to Shabbat preparations) and an approximation of the time that will be spent on each task. The overall estimated cleaning time, in case you are wondering, came up to 24.7 hours, divided between six days.

Anyway, we stayed up until past 1 A.M. drawing out that plan, and went to bed dizzy with exhaustion, but I think it was worth it. Today has been the third day of me following the schedule, and I actually managed to stick to it, which is satisfying – and reassuring, because there isn’t much time left, and as always before Pesach, we’re racing against the clock.

The only problem, I guess, is that things we forgot to include in the plan keep coming up, such as for example washing the kids’ toys. By the way, I’ve adopted a fun and low-effort way of doing that: Shira takes her bath with a bunch of toys each night, then they go to storage until Pesach. :o)

I think that with all the cleaning and the satisfaction of it being done and over, women have a particularly easy time identifying with Israelites coming out of slavery in Egypt. :o)

Today I cleaned out the refrigerator, which is always a mountainous task, and for which I always allot an entire day of the pre-Pesach race. It includes taking out all the refrigerator’s contents, scrubbing it out on the inside (I almost cried when I saw some particularly neglected spots), taking out all the shelves and washing them in the bathtub, then drying them and putting them back in. When I moved the refrigerator to clean underneath, I discovered a whole treasure trove of little things I thought we had lost forever. Oh, and should I mention you must do all this as quickly as possible, because you don’t want the products to spoil, and two kids are loudly demanding attention in the background?

Anyway, that’s done and now, besides scrubbing out all the floors and another couple of easy tasks, I only have the oven, the stove, the microwave and the kitchen counters to work on. Should be a breezer, right?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Formula makers hand out nutritional advice

Formula makers hand out nutritional advice            

A few days ago, I received an advertising package from Materna, Israel’s leading formula brand. Somehow, they found out my name, address and how old my baby is – how, I have no idea, unless they have access to hospital or health care records, which in my opinion should be made illegal, to prevent them from specifically targeting new mothers.

There was a pamphlet accompanying the formula samples in the package, which provided, among other things, a supposedly “balanced” sample menu for a six-month-old. It was something that really made me raise my eyebrows. Here it is.

Morning: formula-based porridge

Mid-morning: pureed fruit

Lunch: pureed chicken/meat/soy, with pureed potatoes/rice and pureed veggies

Dinner: formula-based porridge, well-cooked peas OR pureed veggies

Throughout the day: nursing or 1-2 180 ml bottles of formula

Now, I remind you, we are supposed to be talking about a six-months-old! That’s an age when babies, according to the recommendations of the WHO, are only just starting to be introduced to solid foods, and that begins and happens gradually – a six-month-old’s diet isn’t supposed to be based on solids just yet. What they suggest is suitable, in my opinion, perhaps for a baby closer to a year old.

It really grates on my nerves when formula makers start “mother’s clubs”, “baby clubs” and even “nursing help-lines”, as if trying to pretend they have our best interest at heart, when it is obvious, and of course understandable, that what they really want is to sell their product.

They might argue that they are only targeting mothers who aren’t nursing anyway, but because formula is so widely advertised, so easily available, and is claimed to be so close in its qualities to breast-milk, it prompts young mothers to quit nursing when they are discouraged, exhausted, misinformed or unsupported.

In my opinion, it would be more fitting if formula was sold in pharmacies only, in plain, unattractive packages, under a description such as “inferior breast milk substitute, to be used only when necessary”.

But of course, in a money-driven world, it will never happen. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My winter laundry woes


I suppose I haven’t had the chance yet to tell you about my laundry-related frustrations this winter? No? Well, allow me to do so now.

This winter, I felt for the first time the sly cruelty of nature when it comes to laundry. It usually goes like this: I wake up in the morning to a merry ray of sunshine and a clear blue sky with some puffy white clouds, which convinces me that today, after weeks of rain, it’s finally going to be a good day for hanging the laundry outside.

I hurry to load the washing machine, and when it finishes working I dash outside with my laundry basket and clothespins, and start hanging up the washing. As I do so, I look up with a worried expression: the puffy white clouds which looked so harmless from my bedroom window have become a threatening mass of grey, and it seems as though it’s going to rain… well… sometime in the day, hopefully not right now, I optimistically tell myself as I boldly try to ignore the darkening sky.

As I peg up the last pair of socks, I feel the first droplets of rain on my face.

Moving as quickly as possible, I throw all the washing pell-mell back into the basket, and run back inside. I open up the drying rack in the children’s room (where it barely fits, but I don’t like putting it in the living room), and hang the washing there.

After fifteen minutes of rain which would have made Noah hurry and prepare the Arc for setting off, the sky clears again, and now I’m facing a dilemma: should I take the washing back outside, and risk it will start raining again – or perhaps I shouldn’t bother and just leave it inside, where it will be days until it’s finally dry, compared with just a few hours outside?

I decide to play the daredevil. Huffing and puffing, I pick up the full drying rack (because surely, you can’t expect me to take all the washing back off again, and replace it on the clothesline!) and carry it outside. A couple of socks fall in the process, and I resolve to go back after them later (by the way, we’ve broken the record over the number of lost socks this winter). I place the laundry rack in the back yard, and tell myself that if the sunshine lasts even for two or three hours, the effort will have been worth it.

As I’m about to turn back and go inside, it starts raining once more.

Sure, it has not been so every day, because after all, Israel has plenty of sunny days even in winter, and there were also days which were so decidedly rainy from dawn till dusk that it was obvious hanging the laundry outside isn’t an option. But the aforementioned scenario occurred enough times throughout the winter to make me feel I’m wasting way too much time and effort on what is supposed to be a pleasant and simple chore (hang up in the morning, take off, fold and put away in the afternoon).

When it was just the two of us, a rainy week would simply mean no laundry, and nothing would happen – we have a large enough supply of clean socks and towels, after all. But with two little ones, I do enough loads per week to make me absolutely drown in laundry if I forego washing for a week or two. Especially now before Pesach, when so much extra washing must be done: blankets, bags, bed, and armchair and sofa covers. All this makes me wish I had a dryer, for the first time in my life, just for those rainy days - even though I have absolutely nowhere to put it, and even though it would probably stand unused throughout most of the year.

Oh well. It’s already April, so I know it will all be over very soon – the rain will be gone, and throughout all summer, every day will be a good day for laundry, with a lot (even too much) sunshine, and all my washing will be dry in a flash.

Then I can go back, read this, and smile.