January 28, 2013

January Happy List

It might seems like my last few posts were a bit too gloomy. Or so I've been told. So I am going to try something different for this post, a Happy List. I am going to look back at January (it still has four more days, but we'll just ignore that) and write all the good and happy things that happened this month.
Unimaginable. I know.
Okay, here we go:

First week of January, my parents were still here, we welcomed the year with style - drinking good wine, watching a good movie and plenty of fireworks.
I did not drop any iPhone into the toilet, so I did not destroy the year (yet. there is still time).
We were tourist for a day and went to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham, which I always love to do (yes, we did it more than once. I think by now we've been to the Changing of the Guard ceremony about 5 or 6 times. Never gets old).
I got a gorgeous new bag, and as a gift from my parents a pair of oh so worm, comfy and lovely snow boots that I was so thankful for this past couple of weeks with the cold weather.
Ron went to his Arsenal fun day and had the best day of his life, met all the players and got autographs from some. he was in heaven, and Hidai was so jealous...
We went to the Battersea Children Zoo, where Yon had the time of his life, and met lots of animals, and we could see that he is ready for a "big" zoo.
I finished all my photo albums for 2012. I know it might seem trivial, but I am very vigilant (okay anal retentive) about our photo albums, but because of the move and everything I was a bit behind (like all my projects), so I finished the first half of 2012, I uploaded a 2 parts albums comprised of my Photo A Day project to Facebook (an album, I might add that nobody watched. Yes dear readers, you are being told off), I chose, uploaded and organised all my photos for the second half of the year album and uploaded a December album to Facebook (that people did watched. Positive reinforcement - Yeay readers!). Yes, and I did almost all of that in 2 days. Granted, it did take almost the whole 48 hours, but it was done.
I re-organised the boys room to find a place for all the Christmas presents. Had you seen their room in its pre-Christmas state you would have understood why it deserved a place in the Happy List.

second week of January, I cleaned the house (again, had you seen it...) and everyone went back to school / work.
Hidai and I had a coffee date, for what felt like the first time in AGES, but was actually just three weeks, in a small cafe on our street that was cute and quiet.
Hidai & Ron built and Earth & Moon modal, an activity that deserves a spot because a) they had fun and learned a lot, b) it had a massive box that took up a lot of space in the room.
Ron had a mock airplane in his classroom, and a whole week of "Wow Week" where he learned mainly about France, and the school is now trying to raise the funds to take them on a trip to Paris.
I finished my blog projects - Christmas Recap, Yearly Review, and Moving to London page.

Third week of January, Snow Week!!! Light snow on Monday and heavy snow on the weekend.
I got my first +1 on google for my blog.
Ron had his after-school clubs, with both of them being football, and with getting compliments about his form.
Yon had a birthday at nursery and got to eat cakey.

Fourth week of January, Hidai worked from home and we got to spend some much needed time together (until Friday, when he ran away to the office).
Yon was on the verge of being sick, but wasn't (that so deserves a place in the Happy List).
We ate French Toast, Challa and Chocolate-Chips Pancake. Not on the same day though.

I cut my hair. Yes, it was not a non-English speaking person mistake, I did cut my hair, and now it's a shorter length and really cool and cute. I know it sounds crazy, but I was bored and annoyed with my long hair, I still don't have a hairdresser I trust, I saved money, and I figured - it's hair. it will grow back. Oh, and I also don't really like going to get my hair cut. Hair salons makes me nervous. So after debating with myself for a while, I just... Went for it. And it's great! I am so happy with the result!
Hidai went to his first School Governors meeting. We are involved with the school. We've never been involved. We are not involved people. Except that now we are (well, let's not get carried away. Hidai is).
Arsenal won. Very important.

Last days of January - We are all ready to start february :)
Our February budget is all ready, we were very good on January and have reached our goal.
The weather has improved and we are back to double digits for this week.
We dropped all the weight we gained during the holiday period, and Hidai is back to an exercise regime (I am still not, but I am not sure if it's a good thing or not).

That's it. That's my Happy List. Not so long, Not so impressive I guess, but also Not so bad after all...

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January 25, 2013

January Blues

Last week of January. We are so so close to end this miserable month. You can almost feel the February in the air... I can't believe we've made it. I have come to the conclusion that I need to replace August with January as Worst Month of the Year. Up until now I always thought of August as the Worst Month because, you know how it is - 2 kids at home from school for the second month mixed with sweat, heat and boredom that are suffocating every corner of your being. It is like an endless desert with no oasis in sight. But being in a country with no summer to speak of (no, 23 degrees Celsius on average do not constitute a "hot summer"), I am starting to see that the problem might actually be the winter. The long dark, drab, very cold days with no real warm sunshine or happiness in sight. Add to that the health & money issues and what do you get - a sucky month. That is why I hereby officially crown January as The Worst Month of the Year.

But we've made it. We are in the last week of January. And what's more, we've managed (barring any unexpected thing that has to happen this week of all weeks) to complete our mission - we survived January on budget. It was a miracle, on some days it seemed impossible, but we did it! I am so excited about it (I know, you couldn't tell), firstly because it means that our plan to end the "financial situation" we have going on is working, second because it means all the efforts and sacrifices we've made this month payed off (we had to go through the emergency-chocolate stash. Yes we have such a thing. Surprisingly it contained good stuff), and third because, well, truth is I usually don't like budgets. I don't do budgets very well. It goes hand in hand with the fact that I don't react well to any attempt to... How do I put it... Tell me what to do. I have what you might politely call a problem with authority. It's not a secret, nor is it anything new really. It also not something that I have made an attempt to cure over the years, and usually leads me to want to do the opposite of what I am told (I know how childish it sounds. Trust me). Instead I found Hidai, and he never tells me what to do (or to relax. But that is a totally different personality disorder). Back to the budget thing people, I also don't like numbers. And before you nod your collective head in pity, I will just add that I do have a University degree in Economics (I do like to study). I do know how to do the numbers, I understand how all those tricky little words and signs and numbers and letters work. I can do all the math / money/ stock market analysis and decisions. I just don't like to. So instead I found Hidai.
But this time around, the budget thing gives me a sense of control, and that sense is what I lack, and exactly what I need so badly right now. It is amazing how much of it was lost over the last year or two, and how hard it is to get it back. With the risk of repeating myself, I am not were I wanted to be in terms of moving on, and some days are worse than others. On those days you can actually see the other shoe starting to drop. Having any measure of control, small as it is, makes it easier to deal with all the rest. It makes me feel that I am in fact on the right track.
Also it helps to have a clear concise goal in mind, oh, and for it to be short-term (already revealed my long-term anything issues. God am I turning out to be a real screw-up in this post?!), so we set the first goal - reach February on budget. And we did! Now we can move on to the next stage, and this way when we close our full year here we'll be able to look forward again.
I feel like I have to add something here, I know the money thing comes up a lot in the blog, but the truth is it's just because it's a hurdle to overcome, and I am actually not really worried about it. I am worried about so many other things in London and in life, that if I can take one off the list, I'll do it happily. Some will (and did) say that we live our lives unrealistically in that regard, that the way we treat money is, well, wrong.
But you know what? I don't care. It's our way, and if it's wrong for some, then so be it. We've always been the part of the family (in both our families) that doesn't have a lot of money. Over the years we, in some occasions, needed help. We've made choices that cost us money, we have savings and we have debts. But both were usually a conscious & mutual decision, and for us having money is not the center of the universe, money has always been a mean not the goal. Living is the goal. Being kind and generous and honest is. In the end of the day, we made sure the kids are and always will be fine, and that we do not take for granted the help we received when we needed it.
And give back when we can.

Lately we've been in a reflecting mode. I guess it has something to do with being stuck in the house for days, or with the holidays ending and end of year summery, or all the current and past family dramas we have, or with the fact that it seems like a lot of people are getting married / planning kids nowadays which led us to look back at our choices and lives. The thing is, life is a journey. You have your good times, you have your bad times, and you have the people that walk some of the distance with you. These people will usually surprise you along the way. Some for the better and some for the worst. And lately I've been thinking about the people that surprised us for the worst. Our reflecting led us to a conversation about time and wounds, and about things that are unforgivable. The sad truth we discovered when we looked back is, that yes, there are some things that are unforgivable in life. And it's not even the murder/infidelity kind of things that you would except it to be (sorry, no big secret in our closet...), sometimes it's just things that could have been fixed for a time, but weren't, sometimes it's things that an apology after a while will not fix, sometimes it's things that go against your belief system. And in the end you keep on going, and you leave it behind, you leave them behind, and there is no way to bridge this gap, time does not heal all wounds apparently. It just makes them into scabs. It's like a broken limb that wasn't set properly - it heals, but it will never be the same.
But then again, some people surprise you for the best. Sometimes along the way you meet people that turns out to be great people, that will not let you fall. People that become your family, that go a very long distance with you. People we cherish.

So where does this leave me? well, in a totally different place than I thought I will be. In a place that wants to say thank you. Thank you to all the people that helped us along the way, to the people that were there for us whenever we needed and with whatever they could. To all the people that are our friends and family. We truly do cherish you every moment of every day.
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January 21, 2013

Snowy Weekend

I know you expect me to write insightful stuff about life and everything in it and basically to complain about everything, and it's not that I don't have some thoughts about romance as shown in movies these days versus real life, marriage, kids and maternity, life on the move, etc., but Hidai said I am not allowed to write anything with profound meaning until I have a clean bill of health for a week. Since it seems I can't make it past the 3 days mark, and since I've just discovered it's Blue Monday today (isn't it wonderful to realize you have a scientific explanation to feeling down? It's not me! It's Blue Monday!),  guess it will stay unwritten for a while, and this post will be a light, fluffy, fun post about our weekend in the snow.

It is not the first time we've seen snow (I have to say that because many people assumed it was), it's not even the first time we've seen snow in London, since we were lucky enough to be here last February, and go through the tourists-stuck-in-the-snow flights-delayed part of snow (wasn't really fun, but Ron did managed to meet the pilot and the crew was great and the plane did take-off after just one hour delay). But we've never lived in a place that has snow. We've never lived in a place where you can actually look outside your windows and see snow falling, where you can go downstairs and play in the snow. Where you have to worry about schools being open, and buses running.
London doesn't get a lot of snow (apparently), and the amount of people outside playing and taking photos made me feel a little better - hey it's not just us getting all excited because of the snow, everybody loves the snow.
It started falling on Friday morning, continued for much of the day, took a day off for most of Saturday and then came back for more than 16 hours straight on Sunday.

Evolution of snow - from Friday morning to Monday morning
We were all very excited about all this snow, and on Saturday morning we took advantage of the fact that it wasn't snowing and less cold (everything in life is relative, isn't it?) we got dressed as if it was, and went outside to play in the snow. We were actually the first in the building to go outside to play, so we had all this uninterrupted snow to play around in. Of course the kids wanted to start with a snowball fight, so we obliged...

After that we tried our hand at snowman building, which turned out to be a bit tricky. As it were, snowman building is not such a hard thing to do (mainly for me, I just stood there taking pictures) but it's a technique we were not familiar with and that is what we got at first:

Yon was very happy with it.
But after Ron remembered the appropriate way in which one is supposed to build a snowman (he practiced it at school on Friday), we managed to build a quite respectable snowman -

On Sunday it was snowing all day, so we spent the morning just watching all the people that braved the snow and copied our snowman :). Actually this being a complex full of "young professionals" i.e people without kids and a lot of free time to play in the snow, and also apparently with artistic aspirations, we now have a gigantic snowman, a sitting snowman, a snow-dog, and a snow penguin that took them hours to make.
Hidai and the kids braved the cold in the afternoon and went outside to vent their Arsenal frustration (another day another lost match) by throwing snowballs at each other for about an hour.

Yes, I know you can't see, but these are Hidai and the kids
We closed the snow weekend with pizza & ice-cream (not on budget, not fit for diet, and we felt so bad for the delivery guy we gave him a 5 pounds tip) as comfort food and Man In Black 3 (surprisingly fun I have to say. Much better than all the romantic comedies we watched this weekend. Don't get me started on the movies-today topic. It was supposed to be a lighter post), and woke up this morning to some light snow, school is open (for now) and everything outside is still a sea of glorious white.

As I am writing this the snow is starting to melt (very very slowly, since it's still freezing cold), and I can't help but feel a bit sad about it. We've had a lovely weekend, and I still feel that snow is like magic, that seeing everything covered in a layer of white, fluffy and shiny snow is magic. I will miss it, but in some ways it's like the snow is a weekend magic, it doesn't belong on a Monday. Monday is back to reality day, where I have to deal with the school-runs and unfortunately I discovered that if you are lacking in the equilibrium department on sunny days, it is probably not a good idea for you to walk around on ice, with Hidai's yet another busy week (just so you won't think badly of him, because of point a above, he is in charge of the school runs today), with the new tasks I have to do now that I finished writing my big new page of how to move to London, which was something I wanted to do ever since I started this blog and took me 6 months to finish, and now I need to move to new tasks on my list (yes, I have a list, you can't really say you're surprised).

Okay, so I am going to close this post with a quote I found while looking for something else, because I think Big Life Changing Quotes are just the thing for posts like this one -
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle (Albert Einstein).
Snowing it on Saturday
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January 16, 2013

Normal Is Overrated

Back to normal. The last ten days were supposed to be back to normal days, back to the daily routine. My parents went back to Israel, Hidai went back to work, the kids went back to school, and I spent 3 days cleaning the house and am now sick again for almost a week. Normal.
But it's just superficial stuff.
Are we back to normal? What is normal?
When you are a parent with kids in school you sometimes feel as if normal is the fact that they are home. Somehow the time between vacations feel "not normal", you just got a breather before the next 10 days off school (end of February if you are wondering). And it's not that I don't like my kids being home, I do, and in fact this February I am going to use them as an excuse to do things that I want and are to embarrassing for a 33 years old - like the Harry Potter tour. Why should I care if they didn't read the books / watched only a few of the movies? I did.
It's been so long since I've had something resembling routine, I don't even remember what it looks like. I always find it so amazing to see how adaptable human beings are. You can usually see it with the kids, if you did something twice it's the new routine. So they ate chocolate after dinner twice - now it's everyday. Habits, routines, rules. People do not live well without them, and changing them is so hard. When we just moved here, we didn't have an apartment or our things, so we basically lived on fast food for a few weeks. It was so hard changing it back to good eating habits, to preparing real food.
Or maybe it is just that - normal changes all the time. I don't know if it's like that for everyone, but it is for me. If I try nowadays to go back to what was "normal" for me in Gibraltar before all the jobs issues began, I can't. If I try to go back to the time before this Christmas I can, but that didn't feel like normal even then, it felt like it does now - a search for normal.
I know I feel it more than most, because we just moved (anything short of one full year is considered as "just moved" in my book), because I still don't feel completely settled in (I wanted to say "at home", but that would have led to a whole different discussion about homes and this song), and I am still sick most of the time (which in fact led me yesterday to inform Hidai that our lives are in shambles and that all is ruined. Just because I forgot to take my Lemsip Cold and Flu pills. I am not a happy sick person.). But I can see the effect on everyone around...
Kids went back to school last Tuesday, because the teachers took an extra day to prepare for the kids. It worked. I have never (in all my years as a student or as a parent) seen such a happy bunch of teachers. They were so genuinely excited to be back in work, it was unnerving. We were all "take them. Keep them. We'll be back sometime today if we must", and they were so happy to be back (the teachers) that it was contagious (for the kids), but seriously - they are studying about "80 days around the world"now, so Ron's teacher MADE THEM AN AIRPLANE in the classroom. And dressed up as a pilot. Really. They focused on that the whole week - no maths, no English, no science. Yon's teacher went for the tent theme, and filled the classroom with fabrics and small tents. Both kids felt they were in school heaven. It still didn't mean they wanted to go to bed on time, wake up on time, go to school in the morning, and be nice in the afternoon. It was a very hard week. They got used to get onto bed around 10pm, and wake up around 8-9am. Very nice if you are in holiday. Very bad for school days. On vacation times (and weekends) they wake-up and watch a movie (or two) before we even start the day. Doesn't work like that on school days. It took us most of last week to get them back to normal sleeping time. The fact that they were tired all the time did not help their attitude improve, so we had crying, fighting, angry growls (Ron is teenage growling. Yon is a lion), bickering, etc. etc. etc. Lovely. It was the same thing when they started the school year. It took Ron a few weeks to get back to being the lovely kid that he normally is. I am hoping it will be quicker this time, and football helps so hopefully the fact that this week he has 2 football sessions will help, but until then I have to deal with this unflattering glimpse into the horror show also known as the teenage years. Yon on the other hand is in NO mode, which leads him to say no to everything (even contradicting things... He just like saying no. It was in fact his first word. Seriously). In nursery he is in all-animal mode, which is a step backward. Animals are his safe place, and by the end of last term he was playing with a lot of other things and almost no animals, but now he is back to just animals. Again, hopefully it won't take him as long this time to open up and feel safer.
Hidai went back to work last Monday, and although I can't say that he screams "No!!! I don't like it!!!" every morning like Yon, it did take him three days to get into full work-mode and start working every evening. This week has been a very hectic week for him so far, so I guess that helped him with getting back to normal, and in the same time (at least for me) it just makes it even harder to want to go back to the normal life in which Hidai wakes up in the morning, take the kids to school, goes to work, have no time to talk to me all day long, comes home late, is in charge of all things bedtime related, and go back to his computer to work until midnight. I can't say I appreciate this routine very much. Don't get me wrong, I like my alone time, my favorite moment of the day has always been the moment I close the front door in the morning after everyone leaves the house. It's my moment of quiet, of possibilities - in that moment I can do whatever I want. Apparently most of the time I want to do laundry.
On the other hand, I hate going to bed alone, so sometimes I do wish the work stress will lessen, but hey, it's still a lot lot lot better than it was when we lived in Israel, and I guess it was hard on me this week especially because I wasn't felling well, and yes, because it's hard to go back with a bang. Where is the gradualness?
That brings me full circle and back to... Me! I've had a lousy couple of weeks. First of all, my parents left, which (although I was happy to sleep in a bed again) was so... Sad. We learned long ago never to close one visit without having a date for the next one (an excellent advice I got from my friend Daphy. Always have the next ticket in hand), but this time due to budget problems we didn't (damn you 2012 and your money/health problems). We only had September planned (BA travel points sucks. That is all I am going to say about that). It took us almost a week after they left to find a solution to the problem and make sure they can come over in May. Second, we closed down the Christmas which did not go well with Yon (or me). Third, with my parents here and for a few days after they left I had too much family drama and too many conversations with/about family that could have gone better and left me feeling frustrated, angry and very tired. Not a good combination, not a good situation at the moment, and no resolution in the near future.  Fourth, it's the middle of January. Now we have a budget plan from the beginning of February to make sure by the end of our first year here our money situation is no longer entitled to be called a "situation" (I hate it when we have a money "situation". It's never a "situation" when you actually HAVE money. Which of course, at the moment we don't), but we still have to live on the most absurd amount of money until the 1st of February.  Fifth, all the talkes this past weeks, and the 2012 review I did for myself and for the blog led me to discover that I am nowhere near where I wanted to be in my moving-on process. I think this year felt like war. And every war has a price. And I think deep down I was hoping that it will just go away, that once we settled down everything will go back to normal. But it didn't. it doesn't. Normal will never feel the same as before. Sixth, I've been feeling bad since last weekend so we couldn't go out and unfortunately staying in bed didn't help as much as I wanted it to, and I am still sick, and with Hidai's busy week, I still have to do everything by myself. I am, quite frankly, sick of being sick.

And then something magical happened - It snowed. Oh, I know snow isn't magic, but it's so is. On Monday morning we woke up and everything outside was white, and when I went to pick up Yon from nursery, we came home while it was snowing.
I love snow (we get the f**&^%ing cold anyway, so the least the universe can do is make it snow), I don't know who was more excited about it, me or the kids (me! me! me!), and they say it might snow again this weekend!
And for one frozen moment in time, when you look outside and everything's white and the snow is falling down from the sky, for that moment, it's okay that everything's not okay. Because in my old normal life, I didn't have snow.
And normal is overrated anyway.

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January 11, 2013

2012: On Fluff and Stuff

2012 In review. Sounded so easy in my mind. Everybody does it - write what you did this year, add some nice photos from every month, you know - to represent, put in some sappy comments about light and love and happiness and finish it all with some all-inspiring new year resolutions in broad terms that remind you of a beauty contestent saying she will use her victory to create world peace.
So why can't I? I am all for world peace.
But somehow sitting here in front of my computer, something just does not click. Sitting here next to my computer, it's 10:30 pm, kids are asleep (first night since they came back from the holidays that they actually fell asleep on time), and Hidai and I are sitting across from each other working (we have not had the luxury of going to sleep on time this week yet), and it doesn't seem right somehow to take this year and just fluff it.
2012 was a year of change. And because of that it was full of everything - happiness, sorrow, worries, laughter, arguments and love. And because it's us, we did everything fully. We had (still have) issues in every area of our lives - work, finance, family, health.
And as always - we did it all together. And are stronger for it. Yes, I am a big believer in the What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger methodology, and it was our theme song for a while this year. Yes, we have theme songs. It is not our theme song anymore so I guess things are better. On second thought, maybe not, because right now our theme song is apparently Bohemian Rhapsody, the muppets version. Kids go nuts for it.
Anyway, theme songs aside, 2012 was not an easy one. But then again, like Hidai likes to tell me when I say that this week was rough, when did we ever had an easy one?
In a nutshell I guess you could describe the year like this - we started the year in Gibraltar, with a visit from my parents, Hidai working in a Start-Up, and with a clear sense of the future. We went for a weekend in London, I got itchy feet, the Start-Up went bankrupt, we found ourselves with no money, no work and no real clear sense of future. We had 3.5 months of looking for jobs around the world (okay London and SF), a visit from my parents, and living on the last of our savings, some loans and a lot of uncertainties. Hidai found this great job in London, we closed our life in Gibraltar in exactly 8 days, went to Israel for 10 days for some family, doctors and bureaucracy time, and arrived in London on the 1st of July (with my parents). Found a house and a school in under 2 weeks, and had no time to think about our sense of future. We've been in London for exactly 6 months, finding our way. Hidai started working, kids started school, and all of us started licking our wounds. We settled into our new home and new life, did London for tourists (London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower bridge, Covent Garden etc), downloaded a budget app, had 2 more visits from my parents (5 in total this year. A new record), celebrated Christmas and found out we can no longer say "this is where we are going to live forever" with a straight face.
Rough times usually teaches you more than you want. Our year taught us about fear. It's not really true, because the scariest moments of our lives were in July 2011, when Ron had had to undergo dental surgery that required general anaesthesia. Those 32 minutes we sat outside waiting were the scariest moments of our lives. This year was a different kind of fear. It was the kind of fear that scar you. That doesn't leave you even after everything's fine. Our year taught us about the fragility of everything we take for granted - job, health, security, etc. Most of all I think, our year taught us about loyalty, and help, and who we can trust. We got the answer to the question - when you're down, who will be there to pick you up? And the answer was not a pretty one.The thing with this kind of lessons is, they don't go away. You can never untake the red pill.
It also taught us, that we can survive it all.
I am also a big believer in the Everything Happens For The Best methodology (even though it does not go with any theme song). And Starting 2013 I can see all the benefits we achieved. In a lot of ways this year brought us closer together, Hidai was without work for the first time ever, it's been years (8 to be exact) since we had so much time alone together, and we remembered how much we love being together all the time and doing everything together. Leaving Gibraltar and the eGaming, hard as it was, opened the whole world for us, Hidai's new job has given him a new challenge and a new area, the move gave the kids a better education and better options (and in Yon's case - better doctors). Moving to London was our dream for the past 9 years, and we've managed to realise it.
2012 Changed us. It made us more cautious. More guarded. It changed the way we look at our future. We no longer have certainties. We know how many things are not in our control.
It unified us and reminded us all the reasons we love each other.
It brought us to London.
What will 2013 bring? I really can't say. At the moment we are here, building back the foundations of our lives. Getting the kids settled in and feeling secure again, Hidai progressing with work, as a family we are trying to enjoy everything London has to offer us, making memories. And for me? I know it might sound silly or stupid, but for me this year is that - to see that everyone's settled down. This year is about the ability to just breathe easy.

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January 10, 2013

Christmas 2012 Recap

This is the third time I've started to write this new post, and hopefully third time's a charm, because up until now every time I start something happened and changed my perspective and what I wanted to write about. The first one I tried was a re-cap of Christmas and how much fun it was celebrating Christmas in London with my parents (it was a lot of fun), then it didn't happen because I couldn't find the time and energy to write and I thought maybe it will be boring to read a long description of what we did, so I posted lots of photos on Facebook, and started writing the second post that was all about the new year, closing 2012 and opening 2013, resolutions and things like that, but then my parents left, I was sad, I was behind on all the house chores (the laundry is still smirking at me. I can feel it), Hidai went back to work and on top of all that yesterday was not the best of days family-wise. And that is how we ended up here, on the third try of a post that frankly I don't know what to write in.

Decision time - after the computer decided to delay this post even more by deleting everything I've been working on for the past couple of days, and life decided to annoy me this whole week, I've decided, after one batch of laundry and one jar of Marshmallow Fluff to split it and that this post will be a grandparents and Christmas recap, elbit a short one (I will try at least to keep it short) and the next post will be a more serious year-end-new-year thing.

Christmas with my parents was absolutely great. Way way better than we hoped. We had a few concerns going in, mainly because it was their first Christmas ever and our first one living here, and living in Israel you don't really get the whole Christmas spirit. You do get criticized about it though. A lot. That is why in spite of all our best efforts to make them understand the Christmas, they didn't, and we were worried that all this Jewish/Israeli pressure will arrive here with them and will not let them (and us) enjoy the Christmas properly. Luckily we were proven wrong, and they jumped right on the Christmas wagon. It was the first time since April 2008 that we were touring London with my parents, and it proved that we learnt a few things since then :).
What did we do? First of all we spent 2 months on Skype telling them horror stories about the weather to make sure they come prepared, and even though it wasn't really London cold, it was way below Israel temperature, so the fact that they brought each and every piece of warm clothing they have (and some new ones) helped a lot, and they were comfortable most of the time (except at home, where I keep the temperature at a lovely 25 degrees Celsius).
We gave them our bedroom and slept on the air mattress in the living room (actually, since it's open plan, and I didn't want to move anything in the room we slept in the kitchen). First of all it contained (most of) the mess in one room that has a door you can close, second of all it gave them privacy, and third - the mattress is better. Oh and they had the TV and en-suit of their own, so we got no complaints... It was the first time we've done that, and it worked beautifully.
We made lots of plans, so that each day we had a plan - even if that plan was to stay at home, it was still discussed and planned. We made every effort to go outside and enjoy London.
We had TV shows and movies at the ready, so that not every night will be an all-night-long conversation about life and family. We watched all the stand-up comedy shows we could find (I loved Michael McIntyre the most), and the Skyfall movie (really don't understand the hype)

We started our Embrace the Christmas campaign on the first day, by taking them to Oxford st. to see the Christmas lights. It was raining. It was full of people. it was magnificent! For Hidai and me it was a full circle since we first came to London for our honeymoon 9 years ago Christmas eve, and walked around Oxford st. watching the lights and the people. Not a lot has changed in the last nine years, except that we're now living our "live in London someday" dream, and that, well, we had 2 grandparents and 2 kids with us. Not as romantic as the first time around...

Next morning we continued with a trip to Coven Garden and its area to see the Christmas lights and feel the Christmas (and the rain).

After that we had a traditional Christmas dinner. With a turkey. I know it might not seem like a big deal, but we've never roasted a turkey before (or anything else for that matter.), and we actually ordered what we hoped would be an already made one. It was not. It was a 5 kg (11 pounds) scary beast that sat in my fridge for 4 days (vegetarian here). But after grandma (and Hidai) prepared it, everyone said it was very good (next Christmas - smaller turkey, more stuffing). We went with the Jewish tradition of having the big dinner on the eve of (it's done, I think, because according to Jewish belief the day runs from sunset to sunset, so the holiday begins on the sunset of the eve - the day before. And also that way you can enjoy a big dinner on the eve and have a big lunch made from exactly the same food on the day. That is done because Jewish people always make enough food for 3 days. Otherwise it's as if you haven't made enough. We had everything I understood you're supposed to have in a Christmas dinner - turkey, gravy (store bought. This year we invested most of our efforts in the actual turkey), mashed, sweet potatoes (maple glazed of course), rice, sweet carrots, sprouts and a cake (chocolate-orange yummy creation in the shape of a Christmas tree).

Grandparents also had their first visit from Santa, who (while watching Friday Night Dinner Christmas Special) had to work really hard the night before Christmas to make sure the kids got the same number of presents from the same people. I find it kind of weird that there is no one "correct" way to celebrate Christmas and every family does it differently. In Jewish holidays there is only one way to celebrate, one way to give the presents etc. So what we do is - each kid writes a list to Santa (at the moment Ron is in charge of both of them), give it to mum who as part of her duties as a Christmas elf (seriously. It took me a while to convince Ron that I am an elf...), pass it on to Santa, who then allocates gifts to different people in our family (translation - mum put everything in the excel file and then buys almost all the gifts and stick different tags on them so that the kids will feel they get presents from lots of different people in the family), as the time passes in December and always although we start the month with most gifts ready, and saying that this year it will not happen, we buy more gifts for the kids, and then on Christmas eve we allocate all gifts so the kids have the same amount of gifts and from the same people in the family (no jealousy allowed on Christmas), and of course Santa always has his gift. This year we added the new pijama and a Christmas T-shirt to the whole thing, and of course Ron wrote Santa a really long thank-you note, to which he got a lengthily response. Being a Christmas elf is a lot of work.

After Christmas, we promised my parents the full Boxing Day experience, so we took the bus to Oxford st (damn the Tube strike. It can be done on the bus but takes ages...). Next year I think we can switch to the much more convenient method of Internet shopping. Much less crowded. But anyway for us it was again a trip down memory lane. Unfortunately it was not as satisfying as it was nine years ago. I guess it had something to do with not having 800 Pounds to spend in a day this time :)


After all that, we waited at home for a rainy day or two and then headed out to visit Winter Wonderland in hyde Park - where we won (after a few tries, in a few booths, I must say) a huge teddy-bear that we had to carry home on the tube, but that Yon adores. We were there for about 3 hours and didn't even see half of it, it was so big and full of things to see and do. The kids were really disappointed to leave, but it was getting cold, we were getting hungry and so we decided it's better to leave before someone cries. Being in Hyde Park obviously led to going back to Marble Arch and some shopping for grandparents (we had a teddy bear to get home...).

We closed off the year with a visit to the Natural history Museum, to finally watch the dinosaure exhibition (gorgeous exhibition, and even Yon liked it). We've been putting off going to this specific museum because of me. I wasn't sure if the exhibits are not... Too gross for me (there was one with the inside of the animals, or the insect one that has... Insects). Also I always feel as if it's really hard getting to the museum areas from our home. It's not. In the end it turned out that it's very easy getting to the museum, and that the museum was very interesting and not gross. Success.

We embraced the New Year with a some wine (our favourite, that grandparents brought with them from Israel), a movie (New Year's Eve, which seemed an apt choice on New Year's Eve...), and the fireworks on TV (were very sorry we weren't there) and outside (some young people took initiative and set up an unauthorised fireworks display inside our communal area. Gotta love young people).

To really feel like tourists we went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, but it was packed so we only saw part of it. The kids really enjoyed St. James Park, and we took some pictures of the horses at Horse Guard Parade. We finished the day at Trafalgar Square, with its very big tree.


I have 3 photos from there, from over the years - the first one from 2003, the second one with Ron (and pregnant with Yon) from 2009, and from this visit. I guess it's one way to see how life has changed...


Ron won a ruffle to go to the Junior Gunners Fun Day, and had his Best Day Ever :) where he had a chance to meet all the players in the first team, get his Theo Walcott book signed by Theo, play air hockey and other games with the players and a pantomime show. It was 400 kids, and we were very worried that he will be okay, have fun, actually get the autographs he wanted (he got Walcott and Wilshere but not Podolski unfortunately), etc. Of course he was fine, he managed on his own and did not really care that we abandoned him there for a full day. Also I think Hidai was just jealous and that's why he was sorry he didn't get to go with Ron...

On the last day of the visit we went to the Battersea Children Zoo, because a) it's a very bad idea to sit moping around the house on the last day, b) we were unsure if Yon is actually ready for the big zoo (he did not really like the whole real animals are big realisation), c) we wanted to see where the hell is Battersea. We took the 19, which is known around this areas as "the magic bus" (seriously, people actually say that). It's a very cute zoo, very good four young kids, and Yon had the time of his life. He refused to leave. And to call it "a small zoo", he said it was "a very big zoo". And that's that.

The visit ended with pizza, Ben & Jerry's (chocolate fudge brownie. Is there any other kind?), and tears. But not to worry, they are back in May. And September. And December.

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