October 28, 2013

Winter Top Ten

Today was supposed to be the worst storm in years, or so they said on the news. Here, in my corner of London it's really more of a more-wind-than-usual kind of affair, but as it still not really one of those "oh, lets take advantage of the great weather and go out on a stroll outside", it still made me realise that though I am still stuck mentally somewhere around July, it is actually almost the end of October, and it is time to start thinking wintertime. This will be our second winter in the UK (on a different note, I can't believe it's almost been a year and a half since we've moved here and I still haven't gotten round to writing an end of year post), and truth be told, since most of our lives what we called "winter" is what the lovely people of the UK call "a nice autumn day", I actually love it. Since I figured most of you nice people will think I am on the crazy side here, I decided to make you a list - Winter Top Ten.

1. number 1, without a doubt - winter accessories. Everything looks better with a hat, or a scarf, or gloves, ideally all three. In Israel only religious women wear hats (and skirts, but that's a totally different story), and also the temperature never drops below 18 degrees Celsius, so you just don't wear hats. Ever. When I left Israel 4 years ago I did not own even one hat. Now... Well now, I have about 15. I love hats. And gloves (about 10 different pairs), and scarves (about 20 of those too). Before you think I have a closet the size of a person without kids, let me explain - I am one of those people we usually tend to hate so much, you know, the ones that will never be caught dead outside the house with yoga pants, adore high heels (I feel so short without them), and never looks frumpy. But come wintertime and the only way to feel like I don't leave the house wearing the same clothes every day for three months is if I change my gloves and scarves and hats. So every year since we left Israel I've invested my winter money mainly in these things, and how can you blame me? Who can not buy something like this?
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
2. Boots. The shoes, not the store (though I do love the store). I have a confession to make here. Though I do love boots (how can you not), I have never understood the appeal of UGG boots. They always looked, how do I say this gently? Like slippers. Sure, they are lovely to use around the house, but to actually walk outside in them? No thank you. Then it became January, and I have started to understand what frostbites feel like. Ok so it might be a slight exaggeration and no one really gets frostbites in London, but it sure felt like that to me. I remember fondly the time where it took me three hours to regain feeling in all my toes (and we have heated floors!), or the first time the temperatures went below 10 degrees. I didn't even know that there were degrees below that. So I caved in and bought a pair at John Lewis, which apparently have such a great selection of UGG boots. My life has never been the same. I think I took them off somewhere around mid April, and now that there are days that threatens a temperature dip I am ashamed to say but I have already started wearing them again. It is like walking within a cloud. Not the most pretty cloud, but a warm and fluffy and cozy cloud.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
3. xFactor. Ok, so I am not a big reality TV fan. I like my TV scripted and mostly bloody, but I make an exception for the xFactor (and the GBBO, but that's not the point). Not because I can sing, because I really can't, but because for the last four years the xFactor accompanies, for me, the countdown to Christmas. In Israel we have the Wagtail bird, which is one of the first signs of autumn. In the UK it's the xFactor. And when the finale time arrives it is always a night filled with good wine, good food and lots of gifts to wrap. This year the kids have decided to join us in watching it so I am guessing there will be no gift wrapping while watching the finale, but it is so cute to see both of them get into it, and we've even voted for our favourite two acts - Rough Copy and Sam Bailey every week.

4. Snow. I really do think no other word here is needed, but still, its snow. Well, I do get that maybe people in other places get more snow and they get tired of it, but in London there really isn't so much of it (last year we had one full weekend of snow and a few more days of fluff but that's it), and it is so much better than rain, and if we get the cold anyway - at least we could do is get the snow.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten

5. Holidays. Winter holidays are the best. Yesterday we spent two hours or so decorating the house for Halloween, which was so much fun, and took two hours mainly because the kids stole all the decorations in order to play with them ("I am the floppiest bat" was heard around the house a few times). Now we have so many decorations and candy it's ridiculous, especially given the fact that nobody around here goes trick-or-treating (one of the times I miss Gibraltar most).
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
After that we usually have an American style thanksgiving (just because we love pumpkin, maple, and hazelnuts and because it's annoying that November didn't get a holiday of its own, isn't it?),
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Thanksgiving style
then it's Hannukah time (eight days of doughnuts, latkes and candles) and then Christmas of course, and lastly New Years. So many holidays that are centred around food and family and light and love. My favourite time of the year.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Hannukah - celebrating with grandparents
6. Food. Winter is time to eat. First of all because you have a coat and a million layers so no one will know that you gained a couple of pounds, also because it's so cold you have to eat something, and lastly because of the holidays. The truth is I hate cooking. It's not that I'm bad at it, it's just that I don't enjoy it. I hate cooking with as much passion as I love baking. It's weird, but there you have it. And yet as autumn hits, I start cooking like crazy. I really have no explanation for it, but the only season in which my family gets fresh, diverse, totally homemade food is winter. Also, did I mention we get eight days of doughnuts?
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Yon helping with the cooking
7. Starbucks. I am not a big fan of UK coffee. There, I've said it. Most places don't know how to make a good cup of coffee. And Starbucks don't pay taxes. And really they are so commercial. And Americans. (Did I forget anything?). But then they have the Christmas Menu and I seriously gave some thought to the idea of moving into a Starbucks during that time. I think I spent more time in Starbucks during the Christmas Menu time than during all of last year combined. Oh, and now they've gone and created the Duffin. Which is a muffin and a doughnut put together. And the salted caramel hot chocolate. I hate you Starbucks people.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Starbucks Christmas menu
8. Christmas. Because even though I gave holidays number 5, you really need to give Christmas a point of its own don't you think? Since I feel I talked too much about Christmas already on the blog this month with my post about how to answer the Santa question, and the explanation of why we celebrate, I won't go into more details. I will just say this - the lights in Oxford street, Christmas Eve dinner, and our ten years wedding anniversary.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Oxford street
9. Sunny days. Because if in the summer you can become a bit "over used" to the sun, in the winter if there's a miracle and you get a fine day then staying at home is akin to a serious crime. Winter makes you appreciate every school run with no rain, every day with no clouds, every Saturday that can be spent in the park. There is nothing like getting a sunny day in the middle of a very rainy and stormy week. Oh, and last year we got some amazing rainbows out of it.

10. My last point is maybe the best explanation of why I love winter so much. When people hear that we've come here from Gibraltar (or Israel) they always say the same thing - how could you give up that weather?! And we always say the same thing - we didn't come here for the weather. Because it's the expected answer. But it's not true. The first time we've ever visited London was December 2003, for our honeymoon. It was cold, it was rainy, it was snowing. We fell in love with it all. For us London is winter, and winter is the embodiment of London.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
Rainy Yon

And as I am typing this the skies are starting to get cloudy, rain drops start falling, and it's time for a cup of hot tea and some pumpkin cupcake.
Orli, Just Breathe - Winter Top Ten
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October 25, 2013

The magic of Christmas

I was very happy to be invited to the Tesco Christmas in July event that was in, well, July. Actually, that's not entirely correct. When I got the email inviting me to the event I was standing on the side line of a football pitch looking at Ron playing football and Yon playing with imaginary animals, there were people around. I literally jumped up and down. Might have been a few times. Because it was my first event ever, and because it's Christmas. Now for all who doesn't know, let's get this out of the way at the beginning - I am Jewish. We are all Jewish. And we celebrate Christmukah every year since we left Israel. You can find my very long (and I think really good) explanation of why we chose to celebrate Christmukah in this post I wrote a few years back. But if you want the short version, it's what I explained to Ron last year when we were walking home from the dentist and saw the first decorated tree of the year (yes, we are nosey and we peek through people's windows) - everyone needs a bit of Magic in their lives.
If I had to choose one sentence to sum up my life, it will probably be something else, but this will be one of the top five for sure. I believe in Magic. I know you are nodding your head in pity, I know you think I am naive, that people my age should be wiser, should be more cynical, should at least not advertise their childish and immature beliefs to everyone on the internet. Well, first of all, in my head I am the only one who reads the blog anyway, and I already know all my quirks. Second of all, I really do believe that everyone needs a little Magic in their lives.
And Christmukah is the embodiment of it.
So for me, being invited to an event that meant spending a few hours in a room surrounded by beautiful Christmasy things, and get a chance to look at all the Christmas decorations, have a tree, eat Christmas food and just be in the middle of Christmas, was like, I want to say going to church / synagogue if you are religious, but I think it might be constructed as disrespectful, so I am going with - like taking Ron to an Arsenal match. I was NOT disappointed. The Tesco people worked really hard and put on a great Christmas show for us, complete with all the trimmings (I was a bit disappointed that they didn't made us all wear red Santa hats while walking around though...). They worked on it for months, it took them a week to set up the room itself, and I don't even dare to think how long it took the poor soul who glued all those magnificent biscuits houses.

The cake guys (we talked only to the sweets people) told us they start working on the Christmas offerings come February. In fact January is the only month of the year that isn't christmas for them. I was torn - on the one hand they have Christmas all year round, but on the other hand maybe it's like working in a chocolate factory and you get tired of it after a while. Would you want to have Christmas all year long? Isn't some of the magic in that it only comes around for a few short weeks (okay three months, but you know what I mean)? I don't know. I asked, and they told me they still love Christmas, but I think it takes the magic and fun out of it...
I had to admit though, that everything looked really delicious (my taster said it really was very tasty)
One. Of the several. Sweets tables.
Polar bear cupcakes! 
I don't know if you are like me, but every time I see that red & white I don't think football, but Christmas, and it makes me smile. 
I guess it's the whole light out of darkness thing. We have a very nice saying in Hebrew about the fact that a tiny light can light up all the darkness, but all the darkness in the world can't put out a tiny light. I love this saying, I tell it to the kids whenever I can, because I think that's what life is all about, what Christmas, Hannukah, love, religion are all about - that tiny light. I have to quote my favorite book of all times, The Lord Of The Ring here, to say that "Yet dawn is ever the hope of men". For me, Christmukah is about believing in that light, that dawn, that Magic.

My love of Magic doesn't make me less aware of the fact that life is pretty damn hard. We all have to struggle most every hour of every day. Some with money, some with love, some with health. Some with more than one category. My 2013 hasn't been an easy one, and I so wanted it to be. The truth is I am writing this post in July (but it is published today for the first time) and I had one hell of half a year. I don't really see it calming down. It never does. When we lived in Gib we had a wall-sticker about learning to dance in the rain. I think we should buy a new one (ah, a great Christmas gift!) to remind ourselves to embrace it all, because in the end life is the journey, or what happens when you are busy making other plans, or what we are all trying to survive.
But every year, for one month, life looks just a little bit different. The world looks more colourful, the light shine just a tad brighter, the love is a bit stronger, and you can feel it in the air - the hope.
The Christmas.

This post is part of the BritMums project with Tesco
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October 23, 2013

The question

Every parent has a list of questions that he doesn't really want to answer. I guess it's different to every family, but there are some common ones - where do babies come from, what happens when you die, why are there poor people, why are there wars in the world, am I going to die, why do I have to clean my room? I am in charge of answering most of these questions, except the babies / private parts / changes as a man things. After all, answering these kind of questions is one of my main reasons for keeping his dad around. Ron had a tendency to ask these questions at the worst timing possible, like when you are in a rush to get everyone ready in those morning when you are already late to school, or when it's past his bedtime, or when you have to answer a really important email. Those are the times he gets the "great question ask it again in 2 to 10 hours please" kind of answer. So we started working with him on the whole "when to talk and when to shut up" etiquette of life (also related to sayings like "I knew nobody will clean this house" or "You did not buy milk? Again?" that were frequent in our house a few weeks back, but are not relevant to the point if this post). Apparently we were successful as we now get these questions at dinnertime, when we can choke on our food while trying to come up with a good answer to the question what is racism.
Orli, Just Breathe - The question
Not last night, but still pizza
Last night, while we were eating pizza and talking bake-off (it was the finale after all), he asked me the question I was dreading most in the world. I can deal with death, I stumbled my way through racism, I preached about God, but I really really wasn't ready to answer this one - Does Santa exist?
Ron is not the most imaginative child out there, and last year I already had a tiny suspicion that he really doesn't believe in Santa anymore, but I did not ask him directly and somehow managed to convince him that mummy is Santa's elf and that is why I am in charge of everyone's gifts. But it is this time of year again, and the Christmas talks have already began, the Christmas catalogues are making their way to our house, and the stores are filling up with Christmas merchandise. I always knew this day would come, but I always figured it will be later, that I still have some years to enjoy the real Christmas feel, the joy of magic and Santa and carrots for reindeers. When he was younger I thought that I will tell him that yes, of course Santa exist, as in - lie to my child. Yes, I know it isn't the right thing to do, especially when you teach your children that lying is bad, but I really thought that it's the right way to go here, because I really do want to stretch this innocence and childhood phase for as long as I can. I believe that you should believe in Santa, that 8 isn't the age to burst their bubble, that children should stay oblivious to the bad things in life for as long as they can. But like I said, that was when Ron was younger and I thought I had all the answers.
Orli, Just Breathe - The question
That's me in my elf-costume. Very believable, I know!
About a month ago my friend told me that her daughter was told that there is no Santa by some other child, in a very malicious way, and that she is really upset and feel like she has lost Christmas. My friend said her daughter came to her and asked her if it's true that there is no Santa. She said yes. What else could she have done in this case? I have no idea. It is such a tough call to make in a situation like this, but it got me thinking about how I really don't want Ron to experience that loss of Christmas, and on the other hand I really want him to believe in magic. He is at the transition stage of starting to care what others think of him, of wanting to be like everyone else. It is a glimpse both to the future and his teenage years, and both to the past and my teenage years. Last week they had music-class and the teacher asked each of them if they know another language beside English (most of them do) and if they can say something, I think it was "you're welcome" in their other language. Ron wouldn't. He is the only Jewish / Israeli child in his school (well, now he has Yon so they are two, but you know what I mean) and he felt too embarrassed to say it, he was afraid kids would laugh at him, that they wouldn't like his language, that they would think he is weird. It didn't help that I reminded him that a lot of his classmates are "the only child from...", he still wouldn't. After that came the school decision to celebrate all the different religions and holidays that the kids in our school have around this time of year. I think it's a lovely idea, but he doesn't. You see, we have Hannukah in December, which is my favourite holiday (we get to eat doughnuts for eight days in a row because we have to. How can you not love it?) and the holiday most non-Jewish people recognise. But like I said, he is the only Jewish child in school (no, it did not help when I said that Yon is there too. Neither did it help to remind him that the head teacher is Jewish). This is not his decision to make, but he did say he doesn't want us volunteering to help with anything and embarrassing him.
Orli, Just Breathe - The question
Hannukah (last year)
This is why it surprised me to no end, and also my amazing achievement for this week, that he came home and declared that he is going to audition for the Christmas play in school. They are doing The Wizard of Oz, in front of the whole school and parents. And not only that, for the first auditions they had to practice a dialogue between Dorothy and the Scarecrow, so they were divided into pairs, and as it turned out, he had to do Dorothy's part. And he did. He practiced his lines every day (with our help - I was the scarecrow and Yon was Toto), learned them by heart and passed his audition with flying colours. On Monday they were told that those who past the first audition had to do a second audition (or in Ron's words - Just like in the X-Factor!). This time he was the scarecrow, and they had to act the scene of meeting the wizard, from where the stage will be, while everyone were watching them. He did. I don't know if he passed or not, he is supposed to get the answer today. But that is not the point of it, the point was that he wanted to be part of something that will put him in the spotlight, and that others can make fun of, and that will make him "different". I am very proud of him (and obviously told him so), because it really doesn't matter what the result will be, it matters that he went for it and did his best (he is so cute when he is acting...).
And as for Santa, I told him that I know some of the kids in his class are saying that there is no Santa, and I know he is getting older and it can be "childish" or "embarrassing" to say out loud that you believe in magic, or in Santa. But the truth is that it is a belief, and beliefs are personal, they are to be kept in your heart alone. You can choose to believe that Santa exist, you can choose to believe that he doesn't. I choose to believe he does. You don't have to tell us or anyone else what you believe in, and furthermore you can say "ha ha, I know he doesn't exist" when deep inside you really do believe he exist. And that Christmas is that much more fun and magical if you choose to believe.
Orli, Just Breathe - The question

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October 21, 2013

The Juggle of Modern Motherhood

I have this problem you see, it seems as if I can never give the correct straight-forward answer to a question. It used to drive my teachers crazy for many, many years. It is also why I can't seem to win any writing competition I enter. This post is supposed to be my entry to the Mum Network Trusted Blogger Club Autumn Blog Carnival. The theme is "the juggle of modern motherhood", and the winning blogger will get a ticket to Britmums Live 2014. Now if you are not a blogger yourself you've probably never heard about it, but it is a very big event in the blogging world, so I would very much like a ticket, but am probably the only blogger alive who still doesn't have one (the reason I don't have one yet is because a. It's pretty expensive and b. In my way of living you don't buy today a ticket to an event that will happen in June 2014). With this motivation you would be right to expect that I would do whatever I can to try and win this thing, which means writing about how tough life as a mother is, how I or we or women as a whole has to juggle so many things, and how tougher it is for us today than it was in the olden days.
Orli, Just Breathe - The Juggle of Modern Motherhood
Not me juggling, but at least I am doing something in this photo
But I won't. Because I can't give a correct straight-forward answer. Also because I don't juggle anything. In fact I can't juggle. When I was younger I wanted to learn how (because I have to learn EVERYTHING there is), and I really did try, but as it turned out I have the worst eye-hand coordination and timing you have ever seen (also why I am so bad at tennis. Which I also tried to learn. It did not end well) so I can't even have two balls in the air at the same time. My maximum is one. But mainly because I don't agree with the premise, or with the use of the words "modern" and "juggle". I am ok with motherhood though, so hopefully it will keep me in the running...
I have to say, though I did read a really funny Facebook status about it over the weekend, I am not a big fan of "the way things were" reminiscing. I really can't say if it was easier or tougher in the olden days. I guess it depends on my mood. But I do know this, as women and as mothers, we had less choices, there was more of a "one correct way to do thing" kind of vibe. It is not the case today, and as a big believer in the freedom to choose one's way of life, I can't say that I would have liked to live in an era that wouldn't allow me that freedom. However, sometimes the more choices you have, the harder it is to actually make a choice. Sometimes it seems that people get lost in the option pool. And sometimes it seems that we don't have to make that choice. That we could have it all. And here I think lies the crux of the matter.
As it happened on Saturday I had to take a sick day and stay in bed all day because I needed to let my hand rest (don't ask, it is a very long story for a different time and some very scary medical tests) and because I can't seem to stop doing things around the house, I ended up in bed in front of the TV. No computer, no iPhone, not even folding laundry (all of which I usually do while watching TV). Just rest.
Orli, Just Breathe - The Juggle of Modern Motherhood
This is a true representation of my laundry. 
After 14 hours of this I first had to lock all doors and windows (and start watching far less scary shows. But if you ever find yourself in need of an expert advice about how to run away from the law, I'm your gal) but I also watched Grey's Anatomy, and this is the point of the story, because she had had a baby a few episodes earlier, and now she is a mother of two. And in this episode she discovered what every woman discover at some point in life - you really can't have it all. Now I know some people might get angry and huffy, but it's still going to be true. You really can't. Children don't just change the equation, they create a whole new one. No one ever says hey, look at that university student, how she has to juggle work, studies, relationship and a full social calendar. No one ever says hey, look at that single man how he juggles his career and gym membership. People only starts talking about juggling when there are children involved. Because we still see ourselves as supposed to give a 100% to our work, studies, relationship and social calendar, while giving a 100% to raising our children. Because we want it all.
 And you know what? Maybe we can have it all, just not at the same time. But even then we still have to give up so much of what defined us before the kids, and when they grow up enough for us to start looking again, we are not the same person.
Orli, Just Breathe - The Juggle of Modern Motherhood
a true representation of my kids
Eons ago, before I had the kids, my dream was to be very high up the financial ladder. As I saw it then, I had everything it took - I am competitive, I am an adrenaline junky, I love the fast-pace climate, I jump head first and most of all I am good at it. I didn't (obviously), but if I wanted to I can do this now. My kids are old enough that I can go back to school, get a UK diploma or whatever I need and start to climb up that ladder. Only I am not that 21 years old girl anymore. Somewhere along the way my dreams, my aspirations, my life, changed. I changed.
I always have to be different, so I never wanted the "all" most people do. I got married young, had my kids young, and somehow managed to study, work, move a few countries and homes, start a few businesses and raise my kids with little to no help. That is the last ten years in a nutshell. But still I don't juggle, because I didn't give up who I was for the kids. I gave it up for me (and also, because I was very young. I look at it now and all I can think to myself is - what were you thinking?!).
To me it seems that juggling isn't the right word. Why don't we acknowledge that we can't have it all at the same time? That life has priorities? Juggling means it is all of equal importance. It isn't. Kids should always come first, or not at all. They shouldn't be as important as a social calendar.
Or a gym membership.
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October 17, 2013

Hospital Time

Hospital time moves differently. I don't think there is anybody who has been in a hospital and hadn't noticed this. Sometimes you sit there for what seems like days and a glimpse at the watch shows you it has been ten minutes. On the other hand some days you seem to run through all the meetings without waiting at all, and it still takes those same six hours. Exactly like the days when you sit and wait for hours. Everything works differently in the hospital, they are like their own little island of another reality and every time those electronic doors open, you step into the rabbit-hole. I never really knew that before the kids. I've been to hospital a few times over the years, but I was young and young people have a different way of looking at things. But ever since I had the kids and I started seeing too many doctors and spending too many hours in hospitals I know the truth. Visiting a hospital is like getting a dementor's kiss. Hospitals, although they are supposed to be places of healing, are the places that suck away all hope, and I can't help but feel I age ten years every single time I step into one.
It is no wonder that all those TV shows about hospitals only show you the lives of the doctors, because who wants to see the lives of the people in the waiting room?
Orli, Just Breathe - Hospital Time
What goes through your mind when you wait? Are you like me, trying to guess what is wrong with each child? Trying to tell yourself you are lucky because there is always someone that looks like his condition is worse? Looking curiously at other parents who are just starting out, you know, the ones that have tiny babies and a horrified stare, the ones that sit huddled together at the back and trying to look as if they are here by accident? Hospitals waiting rooms are filled with people doing their best to look normal, most bury themselves in the newspapers or the iPads or the phones. Some try to bury themselves in playing with their kids, as if colouring will make sitting yet again in the hospital waiting room bearable. Some, like me, are trying to push time forward, trying to figure out what to ask, what to say, what we just heard. The one thing nobody does in a hospital waiting room is talk. Every family is an island of solitude and hurt.
Orli, Just Breathe - Hospital Time
Every time I write about Yon's ocular albinism I feel like a fraud. It is exactly the same way I feel every time I step into the hospital. I feel like everyone is looking at me and thinking I am a drama queen, trying to make my son seem "sicker" than he is and milk as much sympathy as I can get. So many people out there have bigger problems, so many children out there need so much more than Yon. Who am I to sit here and talk about any of these things? Who am I to pretend I understand what people with real medical problems go through? After all, I get to the hospital and I ask the whatever-she-is that does the first test "how is he doing?" and she says great. Then I ask the other one "is everything ok?" and she says it is. And lastly I ask the doctor and she says he is doing very well, and why would we want to register him as partially blind? and sends us to "Family Support" because that is what you do with crazy parents who nag doctors.
But not before she gives us the official letter stating he has 40% vision. 40. Not 60 like the last letter. Not 50 like I tested him at home. 40. In what universe is 40% vision "great" or "ok" or "very well"? In the hospital universe. The same universe were the doctor thinks four years old are responsible enough to change between regular and sun glasses so they should have two pairs, the same universe were your file gets lost somewhere in the building and will "probably turn up before your next appointment". The same universe were they send you to family support a year after you get the first blow of "static-genetic-condition".
Orli, Just Breathe - Hospital Time
Family support is a very helpful thing, because hospitals can often feel like a slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am don't they? You get the letter and bye-bye see you in six months and don't let the door hit you on your way out. Doctors tend to under-react. I guess it's part of the job, and when you see so many kids with so many problems, you have to stay detached. I understand that, but I hate it. Our doctor actually remembered Yon because he is such a unique case, and still she looks at him and all she sees is all the other kids who have more severe problems. The family support advisor looks at him and all she sees is the child who looks normal. So normal. And she tells us that. And they all look at us and they see two over-reacting, nagging, pushy parents who are out to label their child.
And this is how they send us away for six more months.
But on Monday we have our school advisor coming over to check how Yon is doing in school. And then (as she always does) she will look at us and all she sees is parents who are not doing enough. Parents who are in denial about the fact that their son can't see. Parents that are not fighting enough for their son. Parents who won't go the extra mile.
Orli, Just Breathe - Hospital Time
We are stuck right there in the middle. The doctor's way is so much easier to walk in. It is so much nicer to believe that it is all fine, that his life isn't affected because of his lack of vision, that he really doesn't need anything special right now and we shouldn't worry about it until he starts falling behind. If he will. He is still so young, they say. Wait. What's your hurry? Stay here in denial-land for awhile. And you look at him sitting on the sofa at the family support advisor, and he looks so normal. So normal.
Until you really look at him. Until you notice all those little tale-tales signs he hides so well. Until you open the letter and see it in big bold writing - 40% vision.
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October 14, 2013

What do we really teach our girls?

Last Friday I was invited to watch Dove's International Day of the Girl event. To tell you the truth I am not very big on this kind of events usually. It clashes with my innate cynicism. But I love Dove. I love their Real Beauty campaign, I loved their last commercial with the sketches. I think there should be more companies out there just like them - companies that use their power and influence and marketing budget for good. So when the opportunity came to be (a small) part of an event that is targeting raising awareness to the fact that 47% of young girls (ages 11-14) are opting out of daily activities because of poor body confidence, and making sure we stop it, I jumped at it. The event hosted 150 young girls aged 11-16, and was divided into three main parts - a speed mentoring session where the girls got to meet one on one with some very impressive women, and which I wasn't invited to participate in (any Dove people reading it, I am free any day next year if you also want unimpressive women), a workshop session about body-image which what I was invited to, and a discussion part which I wasn't in because although I can do anything I want, I still have to take the kids out of school first.
Orli, Just Breathe - What do we really teach our girls?
The event left me unsure. Not because of the message, or because of its importance, but because while I sat there looking at those young girls, the question that kept nagging me is, how much do they believe it? How much do those 16 years old listen to a thirty something woman telling them it's fine to be who you are? How much did they believe it when they were told that not all men are looking for big-boobs-small-waist-blonds? How much do they believe it when a fifty years old woman tells them they can be whatever they want? They nodded and laughed at the appropriate moments, and gave all the right answers, but do they really believe it?
My sad answer to myself was, probably not. The sad truth is that we, the parents, the adults, don't really believe it ourselves, so how can we make sure our daughters do? The event was at the Southbank Centre in London, and for me it meant I had to go through Waterloo Station. Which has a Krispy Kreame stand. With lots of doughnuts. I love doughnuts, especially the ones that have cream inside and chocolate on the outside. But as I went past it on my way back I couldn't make up my mind if to stop there or not, because I am supposed to be on a pre-holidays diet, but on the other hand I just returned from a "love yourself as you are" seminar, so what do I do??? In the end I didn't stop, mostly because there was a queue and I was in a hurry, but I kept asking myself the whole tube ride home - should I have stopped? What did it say about me that I didn't? The truth is I have been fat, skinny and everything in-between, and have never really loved my body anyway, so who am I to tell anyone to accept themselves? I am old enough and wise enough to know that it is a waste of time to chase the impossible standards that we see in magazines, to want to yell at the screen "eat something!" every time I see Posh, and to know that every single photo I see in a magazine has been photoshoped to death. And still I want to lose those 4 kilos I gained, I hate my hair and I have spent half my life wanting to be short and delicate. As if any of that would somehow, magically, change my life.
Orli, Just Breathe - What do we really teach our girls?
Raising our kids to believe they can do, and be, everything they want, is one of our biggest challenges as parents. And I applaud Dove for telling them exactly that. This is the most important message I hope those young girls got from the event. You have a choice. Do everything, be everything, choose who you want to be. Because it is enough that each and every one of those girls believe it, to make a difference in the world. It might sound naive, or idiotic, or childish to believe it I guess, but the power is in the masses, and if each and every one of us really believed she has a choice, we would change the world. I know it may seem I am more fortunate than others, and that choices are for the rich and white, but the truth is that choices are mostly about prices, and I've paid dearly for mine over the years.
Choices, it seems to me (and to the people at Dove), are about self-belief.
Orli, Just Breathe - What do we really teach our girls?
And so I got back home on Friday afternoon and happened to read a "how-to guide for the women whose partner got a relocation offer" (it's not called exactly that, it has a shorter name but this one is catchier) that I got through one of the thousand Facebook groups I'm a member of. The guide started with "dear woman" and continued with the explanation of how "women are the one who sacrifice everything and every time. We are the ones who understand and catch everyone's anger, we are the ones that give up our lives, needs and wants because our partner got a job offer abroad". I didn't stop reading, and I can assure you it doesn't leave the fifties and by the end of it I half expected it to read something about "and don't forget to wait at the door holding your husbands slippers in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other".
Maybe you don't find it as offensive as me, but I hope you see the ridiculousness of it, the chauvinism, and the lack of choice it advocates for women. That guide is for mature women, mums, career women, and tells them that the base assumption is that they have no control or choices in the progress of their lives. To be honest it made my blood boil. I am still finding it hard to write about it without using profanities. And it made the event on Friday all the more important.
I hope each of those girls, I hope everyone who reads this post, believe that she has a choice. That she could be and do whatever she sat her mind to.
Because we all can.
Orli, Just Breathe - What do we really teach our girls?

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October 11, 2013

Partially Blind: World Sight Day

Today was World Sight Day. It was also World Mental Health Day. For me, they are somewhat connected. I can not say that my gloom and doom disposition is because of Yon's condition, but as it is Thursday and our next eye-appointment is on Tuesday, and I have already started feeling that ball forming in the pit of my stomach, I can definitely say they are connected. Though I did write a post about Yon's condition called This Is My Child, and one about living with anxiety, I wanted to write a new post for World Sight Day. It is, after all, one of the only special days out there I can relate to in some way. There is no World Albinism Day, or World Ocular Albinism Day. There should be, but there isn't. So I am left with World Sight Day, that more than anything calls for people to check their eyesight. apparently you can treat or prevent 80% of the people who end up loosing their sight, so periodic checking and early treatments are very important. If you are looking for a place to start, you can try my "How to Survive Vision Impairment" guide.
Ocular Albinism isn't in one of those 80%. It is deep inside those 20% that can never be fixed, but as it is a static condition, it does not cause blindness. Yon's eyes will stay as they are, until his vision will deteriorate with age, like everyone else's. Ever since we got Yon's diagnosis I've blogged about everything we went through, I've blogged about every step of the way. Some of it was because writing is the best therapy, some to help others who are going through the same steps now or in the future, and some to help people understand what partially blind children look like.
Orli, Just Breathe - Partially Blind: World Sight Day
Partially blind children do not go around bumping into furniture.
Partially blind children do not need a cane or a sight-dog, or a hand to walk down the street.
Partially blind children can learn to read and write.
Partially blind children can run around, climb things, and play football.
Partially blind children can recognise who you are when you walk toward them.
Partially blind children can go to a regular school.
Partially blind children can play the Wii, and the computer, and the iPhone.
Partially blind children can go up and down the stairs on their own.
Partially blind people can even (sometimes) drive.
Partially blind children do not look like they have any vision problem.
Partially blind children are smart, and funny, and cheeky and full of life. Just like any other child.
Orli, Just Breathe - Partially Blind: World Sight Day
Partially blind children need routines and structure.
Partially blind children go around the house saying "just lookin" while touching everything.
Partially blind children need to know their surrounding to feel secure.
Partially blind children will nine times out of ten answer "yes" to the question did you see that? though they didn't.
Partially blind children learn how to take measured steps so they know where the stairs end.
Partially blind children take twice as you to go down the same stairs they use every day.
Partially blind children need a special keyboard, a colourful mouse and everything to be in a very big font.
Partially blind children sit one inch from the TV, and would prefer it to be as big a screen as you can possibly fit in your living room.
Partially blind children learn tricks and tales to recognise who you are.
Partially blind children have a tough time recognising people when they are moving fast, and when they are all wearing the same uniform.
Partially blind children don't like new foods, new textures, new places.
Partially blind children are sensitive to noise.
Partially blind children get nervous because they tend to "lose" people.
Partially blind children don't see you when you wave hello from the other side of the road.
Orli, Just Breathe - Partially Blind: World Sight Day
Partially blind children look exactly like your child. They can do everything, be anything.
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October 9, 2013

Don't worry about a thing

Ron wants an xBox for Christmas. And before you go ahead and think Ron is this materialistic child who asks for extravagant things, I have to explain -  I asked him to choose his dream gift, because after a couple of lean-Christmases, we decided to try for a more splash-out one this year (for the kids at least. Not sure yet about the adults). Anyway the reason I am telling you about this isn't because a new xBox One will cost us somewhere around 400 pounds (plus of course the mandatory Fifa 14), but because of the significance of two words - wants and xBox.
Orli, Just Breathe - Don't worry about a thing
"xBox" because for me it means he is growing up. We have a Wii, had it since Ron was three years old (not the same one, because we bought a shiny red one a couple of years ago to replace the old black one). We bought it mainly because we like to have toys that we can pin buying them on the kids, but also because we thought (and still do) that out of all the game-consoles out there, this one is the least bad. It doesn't have all the graphic-violence, it makes you move while playing, and it is less... I don't know... Intense. The years went by and whenever we thought about moving on to a more "serious" game console, we ended up with those same reasons, and the conclusion that we feel the kids were still too young to move on. So the Wii stayed.
Orli, Just Breathe - Don't worry about a thing

When I asked Ron what his dream gift for Christmas is, I was sure he will say it's a new iPad, because ours is a very old iPad1, and most of the games he likes to play require a newer generation iPad. But he said he wants an xBox. Because he wants better graphics for his Fifa 14. Because it's cooler. Because he wants to play against Match (the football magazine) and win. Because he is growing up and he want's a grownup console.
I guess I have to accept that he is growing every day, and is starting to move on from child to teen. I guess it is not his fault I still see that chubby red-haired baby every time I look at him.
Orli, Just Breathe - Don't worry about a thing

"Wants" because Ron is one of those weird people who rarely wants anythings. It is so tough to get him to say what he wants, or needs or feeling. We have been working very hard with him on this, and that is part of the reason we invented the Christmas/Birthday Wish List, so he could write down in a safe place everything he wants. It rarely goes beyond the same six items. Even though I ask for about ten, so that I (sorry, I meant Santa) could have backups. I know you probably think it is a blessing, which it is when you are going to the shops and he really does ask for nothing. Never had a temper tantrum about something he didn't get. Never asks me for things that I have to say "I am sorry but that is too expensive", never feels like he is living without. But, first of all it is not that easy comes Christmas time, and second I worry (of course I do. I worry about everything) that he is too detached from his feelings (though his dad explained very politely that I understand nothing about boys when I used the term "connected to his feelings").
Orli, Just Breathe - Don't worry about a thing
The problem is, that it is all connected, and all comes from his fear of being wrong. For Ron, no matter what the question is, there is a right answer. And when he is unsure what it is he gets stressed. That is why he doesn't deal well with open-ended questions (he also is not very good with yes/no questions. Nine times out of ten he will go for the yes, while Yon will go for the no), he is always afraid he is missing the right answer. It doesn't matter how many times we explain that we learn from mistakes, that it is ok to be wrong, that even mummy once got 34 in an exam (more than once, but he doesn't need to know that). Over the summer I gave him the Bond 11+ tests to try and help him learn how to deal with difficulties, and he was so hard on himself for scoring "only 85" in his first four tests. "This doesn't happen to me!" came the shout in repeat, drowning my explanation that 85 was our target. He is right, it doesn't, Because he has to be perfect. And perfection has its price.
This week we had a meeting with his teacher about his perfectionism and his subsequent stress levels. After she finished looking at us like the people who hit their kids with a belt for every wrong question they get in class, and after she was through telling us that maybe it is unwise to ask him how many questions he got wrong each day because we are stressing him out (actually we ask him "How was school today", and it took us a few years to get him to the point where he actually feels secure enough and tells us everything and not just a terse "fine" so no, we will not stop asking, but thank you for that parenting advice), she managed to understand that most of his pressure comes from within and that he has a hard time recognising stressors right now, so he needs help in verbalising them. Today on the way to school, when I reminded him to breathe and be as cool as a cucumber (which he finds hilarious), he told me he will put "an invisible wall around himself" so that he won't get stressed if someone is faster than him.
For him, it was an amazing step forward.
To finish with a flare, here is my baby singing a part of "3 little birds" (I did get his permission to put this here before. He said he is curious to see how many likes he will get :) ).

Ethans Escapades
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October 7, 2013

The Chocolate Wagon

Orli, Just Breathe - The Chocolate Wagon
I started writing this post last night, but as it sometimes happens with posts, it didn't turn out quite the way I imagined it going and I decided to sleep on it and finish it this morning. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find a link to this "article" (really, even with the quotation marks calling it an article is an exaggeration) on my Facebook page. Obviously I read it straight away, and obviously I got slightly upset. It is basically about how fat people have no self-control. And that is why they are fat, and are now trying to hide their inadequacy as people behind "addiction" excuses. But really, what is the difference between eating-addiction to shopping or drinking or working or sex? People get addicted to so many things these days. As a matter of fact, I just read that the NHS estimates 2 million people in the UK are addicted to something.
I've been trying to find a one-liner to summarise the difference between habits and addictions for this post, and in doing so found so many people that "don't believe" in addictions at all, not just the food kind, and very vague descriptions of that difference, and to tell you the truth, it worries me. While I understand and agree that people should take responsibility for their lives and choices, I don't understand why someone would think that calling them fat, or lazy will motivate them to do so. I don't believe acknowledging a difficulty or a disease or an addiction is taking away from the will a person has to find a solution or a treatment or help.
Orli, Just Breathe - The Chocolate Wagon
I tend to call my chocolate eating an addiction. It does tick all the boxes of addiction (according to addiction & recovery org) -
1. Tolerance - do you use it more in time? Yes, I am using more of it over time. I try to go back to one cube or two a day, but somewhere along the way it becomes one pack or two a day.
2. Withdrawal symptoms - when I try to cut down I get physical and emotional symptoms. You really don't want to be next to me if I haven't had any chocolate for a day.
3. Limited control - like last Thursday when I was home alone and ate the whole pack of cadbury chocolate I bought for the kids?
4. Negative consequence - I can't say chocolate cost me my marriage or my job or I lost all my money because of it. I can say it has a very bad influence on my waistline, and health.
5. Neglect or postpone activity - well no, I have to give you this one. No activity needs to be postponed in order to eat chocolate, mainly because you can eat it everywhere and it is very much acceptable.
6. Significant time or energy spent - here it is. My real confession in this post. I hide chocolate. I have a secret stash, and then a secret-secret one. I haven't reached the chocolate in the bathroom stage, but mostly because the way our apartment is built it is the hottest room in the house and it will all melt. I also hide what I eat and its quantity from everyone. If you see me eat in public (and I include in that everything except being home alone), you won't believe me. Had you put a hidden camera in my house though...
7. Cutting down - Every few months I try to cut down (hence the using more in time issue at number 1), I even managed to do it successfully for about 6 months in 2011, but it is a daily struggle. One I am not always winning.
Orli, Just Breathe - The Chocolate Wagon
Now I know, ticking all the boxes isn't really enough to constitute an addiction, I also know that the fact that I am a size 8 makes it really hard to believe me, and lastly I know that the fact that I can calmly and openly write all that down and explain it means that I am aware of it and it might cause you to think I can in fact control it, but choose not to for my own reasons. This is exactly what the self-important professor who wrote the piece for the BBC said, I am using the word addiction to justify my lack of self-control. I don't want to stop and I am applying a "it's not my fault" method to justify my not being man enough to just stop.
The truth is I can write all this, and am not embarrassed or ashamed to tell you all this, because I have been living, and dealing with it through all my life, and I have decided to stop being ashamed of things that are me. And anyway, we are all addicted to something. Why shouldn't it be chocolate?
Orli, Just Breathe - The Chocolate Wagon
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October 4, 2013

Immigration Misconception

"Are you here for good?", Is usually one of the first questions I get asked whenever I meet a new person, ever since I left Israel four years ago. My answer is always the same one, and it will come as no shock to all of you who already know about my incapability to give a straight answer to anything - we are here for as long as it's fun. Usually people look at me quite weirdly after I say that, but it is the only answer I have to give, and the most honest one. "And then what?", comes the next logical question (because by this time we are still new acquaintances and they are not yet aware of the futility of asking me logical questions) "will you go back to Israel?" This is the most loaded question you can ask anyone who ever left Israel. No one really leaves Israel after all. It's somewhat similar to Hotel California in that regard - You can check-out anytime you like, But you can never leave.
Writing about immigration, though I have already tried it once, is always tough, because it is a very emotional and ambiguous subject. There is no straight shining white line dividing right and wrong here. Some people think all immigrants are dirty-unlawful- terrorists, some immigrants think that they can half-immigrate - always with one suitcase packed, always "going back next year", some people think it is better to live in a closed community with "people like me", some people think it is wrong to immigrate, some people would really like to and "if only".
And most, I guess, will find what I wrote upsetting. It wasn't my intention. I wanted to say that when it comes to immigration, everyone has a strong personal opinion, belief, feelings.
"Really?"comes the next question, "so what do you think about immigration?" I really don't like answering this question, because I hate lying to direct questions, and I really can't give you my full sincere answer because I will have no readers left. What I can tell you is that it has changed dramatically after I moved here. In Gibraltar we had a "relocation package", and anyway Gibraltar is like no other place on earth with regard to its openness and acceptance, but we got to the UK as immigrants, and after walking a mile or two in these shoes, I can tell you that it is not an easy road to walk on. Nevertheless it is one that I am not sorry I chose, though there are nights (or moments in front of the mailbox) where I wish it was easier, kinder, more humane.
Orli, Just Breathe - Immigration Misconception

Defining yourself as an immigrant is a tough moment. Personally I love it, because it frees me from a great many things I don't like being or doing. It gives me wings, and the feeling of not-belonging. There is a certain freedom in not being part, that is hard to explain. But defining yourself as an immigrant is also the moment where you are conceding to being no-one, to having no home. As a parent you are supposed to give your children roots, and yet as an immigrant you will have none for yourself, maybe none to give. Even if we choose to live the rest of our lives in the UK we will not be really British. Even if we choose to go back to Israel tomorrow we will not be really Israelis anymore. We are free, but as the (Hebrew) saying goes "free is totally alone". Our only existence is as immigrants. This is our reference group. And sometimes when you stand in front of the mailbox with yet another official letter, it is not a good group to be in. Sometimes, when you open the newspaper and see that the Home Secretary is planning on "making life unpleasant" for you and people like you, it is not a good group to be in. Sometimes when you open Facebook and discover a series of short news-segments about "The New Leavers" which intends to explain why young people like us choose to leave Israel and instead perpetuates the inner conflict you are supposed to have as an ex-Israeli about that "ex", it is not a good group to be in. Sometimes you open Facebook and the Israeli Minster of Finance calls you a coward, a traitor, and denounces you as the lowest form of Jew - one who doesn't care about the holocaust, it is not a good group to be in.
"So why?" that same person might ask incredulously, "why do you do it?" because still, even with all the difficulties and heartaches and fear, it is a group I choose to belong to. It is the group I feel most comfortable with. Why? well, you might have seen the word "choice" show up a few times in this post. That's why. I am a big believer in choice, and I wanted to know that I chose every aspect of my life. It was always meant to be my choice. From the time I was very (very) young, I reached the conclusion that I don't do fitting in, I don't do closed communities, I don't do long-term commitments (well, except for Hidai and kids that is) and most of all I don't like being told what to do.
I am also very lucky, extremely lucky, to be able to live my life exactly as I choose.
And I chose freedom, I chose quiet, I chose adventures, I chose moving every few years and starting over. I love it, and so I am willing to pay the prices. For me, life is about finding the prices you are willing to pay. Sometimes those prices are very high. Sometimes those prices keep you up at night, sometimes they make you physically ill, sometimes they make you feel lonelier than you ever thought possible. Sometimes they make you feel guilty and sad and afraid.
"Is it worth it?" comes the last logical question. The only question I can answer simply. Yes it does. I wouldn't change a thing.
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October 1, 2013

It's All About Me

I have survived September, which exceeded all expectations and was even tougher to handle than August, and to celebrate the lovely Gina from the blog Cold Tea & Smelly Nappies decided to tag me in a meme. Just in case you don't remember, a meme is like those things you get on Facebook (or when we were kids were really printed) and then you have to do what you are told and pass it on to more people to do as they are told and pass it on and so on and so forth until the whole universe is filled with tiny minions of meme. Ok, so after we've established that I've watched the Despicable Me movies too many times (the kids love them and Yon looks and behaves exactly like a minion), I can also establish that doing what I'm told is not my strongest suit. Ok, it's not even in the top 10. And if you've seen my answers to my first meme - Music, When Needed, you would know that memes and me do not really get along, but I decided to participate in this one because, well because it's about me. And I do love to write about me. But more seriously, because it occurred to me that although I do love to write about me, and although most people reading this blog (except maybe for my parents & Hidai) knows a lot about the more intimate things going on in my life, things that are usually revealed after a long acquaintance, you know nothing about the basic things in my life. A few weeks ago (September 10th to be exact. Why shouldn't we be exact) I had the same experience, only in real life, when Steph of the blog Steph's two girls won two tickets to the wear it for Autism event in a contest run by Jane from the blog Ethan's Escapades and invited me to come with her as her plus one (shame on me for not writing about it. Bad Orli). I've read so many of Jane and Steph's posts I felt like I knew so much about them, but in fact I know nothing of the basics, and it was kind of weird meeting them and trying to get to know them when I felt I already know so much about them.. Thankfully both Jane and Steph are extremely nice and the evening was a smashing success (especially for me. I've won a cake in the raffle), but I still found it funny how we know so much without knowing anything about each other. Maybe it's what makes it easier to write, this spec of anonymity, and maybe it's because it's nicer to be someone else online - without a past, without having to reveal anything you don't want to, and maybe it's because it never comes up in conversation :)
So in honour of October, Gina, and mankind, I've decided to answer all of Gina's questions truthfully and as they are asked, but as I really can't do anything strictly as I'm asked, I have decided to include a part 2, which I've written for Mum Network that answer the question - why do you blog.
And without further ado - All about me!

 1) First off tell us your name and what you do...

My name is going to come as a shock to everyone I'm sure. Hey everyone, I'm Orli! I do and did a lot of things, but these days it's mainly being a wife, a mummy and a blogger. The percentage of each of them changes daily. 
2) I live at home with…
My Mac. But sometimes I also live with my husband Hidai (who I coerce daily to say he loves me because and not despite of my crazy), and my two wonderful boys - Ron who is an Arsenal mad, red-headed, 8 years old genius, and Yon who is actually Jonathan though no one calls him that (it's too serious you see), and is a 4 years old blond joke machine, who also has Ocular Albinism. 
3) My favourite thing to do is…
Well I was going to say spend time with my family, but I did say I will answer truthfully, so I have two - baking and watching TV. I hate cooking, but I love, love, love baking, and I am addicted to silly American TV shows. I usually don't watch dramas (As my theory is that life is hard enough as it is. TV should be all about fun), but I love almost every action / crime / thriller show there is and most sitcoms, the sillier the better. As for reality TV I only watch two shows - GBBO (of course) and the X factor (as it represent the It's Almost Christmas time of the year for me). 
4) My favourite thing to eat is…
5) When I get cross I…
When I get really cross I slam doors, shouts and yells. I get angry fast, am very bad with apologies and have a mean temper. I really am not one of those passive-aggressive types, or the sullen types, or the quiet types. I shout. I also don't get really angry very often, and there are only a handful of things that will cause me to do all these things. Especially if someone is late (a hint for Hidai, who is reading this). Usually I stick with yell a little and move on.
6) Sometimes I worry because…
Are you kidding me? I worry all the time, and trust me if I start listing all the reasons you will have to sit here reading for a long long time. Like I always tell Hidai - If I won't worry, what else will I do???
7) My favourite book is…
I have so many. I love reading. I really don't get too many opportunities to read these days, but I do try. I love fiction, obviously. And nothing too heavy. I love thrillers, crime novels and most of all romance. But my absolute favourite book of all times is The Lord Of The Rings, if only for the "not all those who wonder are lost" line. Because I also love to wonder.
8) My favourite toy is (easy now)…
My iPhone. I am addicted to Candy Crush and Bejewelled Blitz. Both help me clear my head and are similar to meditation for me. 
9) I dislike…
People being late, dishonesty, mess and bugs of all kind. 
10) When I grow up I want to be…
That's a tough one. I have no idea. I've been so many things and people already, I really like just being me. But for this exercise I think the only dream I have that I will probably won't ever realise so maybe it fits here, is run my own bakery. 

I am even going to tag some other people because I said I am going to do the whole thing properly - 
1. Nicola of the blog The Road Outside
2. Steph of the blog Steph's two girls 
3. Jane from the blog Ethan's Escapades 
4. Natalie from the blog Plutonium Sox
5. Lucas from the blog Abstract Lucas
6. Mrs Boosmum from the blog Premmeditations 

That's it! You can go over to Mum's Network for part 2 if you are still not totally convinced that I am a complete loony (trust me, you will after part 2). And anyway I hope you all like me the same after reading all this. The only other option I see is that you like me less, so please don't.
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