Sunday, February 27, 2011

God's Canvas

This morning, on our way to the kindergarten, Maya looked up to the sky and said:"Look, mama, God's painted the sky with His paintbrush!"

I am so thankful for the things I have in my life, and I let Him know that, praying with gratitute.

Thank you Lord, for this glorious morning that fills my heart with hope.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who's Taking Care of Our Children?

Last Thursday I went with Maya' kindergarten to a puppet theatre. Maya was still at home coughing, but because she was on the mend, I decided she could go to the show. She loves them puppet shows very much.

I usually go with the kiddies to help a bit (and believe me or not, I am the only parent who ever comes) because to take 34 squirmy, slightly hyper active 4 year olds outside the kindy (and with a bus) it is not easy.

This time we arrived a bit early at the kindy so Maya had the chance to participate in the music lesson and I had the opportunity to observe the lesson and the sorroundings...There are 34 kids at Maya's kindy, from 3 to 4 tears old, ONE TEACHER and ONE HELPER. They sit in a room that is almost the same dimensions as my living room...They hardly have room to turn around and barely enough chairs to sit on. I don't think the bulding was meant for such a large group of kids. Oh, and they have only two toilets...

I was watching the children, many of them with snotty noses (and faces), sneezing, coughing, dirty and with unlaced shoes...

The kindy was smelling of urine and bleach and my heart lurched in my chest. The picture was bleak, depressing. The room was cold as there are no carpets on the stony floor and dark, as there are only two windows.

And this is a city hall operated kindy. Maybe the private ones are fancier, but the prices...not that the state owned ones are much cheaper...

Israel is a country with a high birth rate (an average family has usually three kids), a lot of problems and the money is tight. I am not here to discuss budget politics and such because I would enter a very shifty place but I am appaled at the conditions in the state owned kindergartens and schools ( I taught in them for 5 years, so I know). Not to talk about the teachers' wages, that a totally different (and painful) story.

I know Israel is not America (not even Europe) but, education, come on, nodoby is giving it a lot of thought. That's why in the end I have to pay for the kindy a lot of money every month and my daughter stays at home, sick with one virus or another...Last year was cathastrophic as she was younger and never out of our home, thank God this year she knows to take care of herself (more or less) - wash her hands, wipe her nose and stuff like that.

And believe it or not, she likes to go at the kindy, loves the kids and her teacher.

Speaking of which...her teacher, Dorit is absolutely fantastic. And the same goes for her helper, Sigal. They are able to to so much with so little resources. They are kind and caring and I am in awe how on Earth are they able to cope...Maya loves them both and that says a lot to me. Last year the teacher told us Maya had "problems" and then she left after a few months, not being able to cope (so, who had the "problems" in the end?).

So, what can I say... While the system is faulty and the ones who should don't give a damn, thank God for the simple people who care...As long as there are teachers like Dorit and Sigal I must say there is still hope for humanity.

(Even though the picture is not very...professional, I've uploaded it for you to see the one and only room in Maya's kindy. The picture is taken during their Hanukka party, last December).

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Sickness and in Health

Newwandphto dpi 400 3''Image via Wikipedia I am sorry I was MIA this past couple of weeks...But my sweet, unselfish husband brought us from work a surprise: a big fat virus that made us all sick! For a fortnight we coughed and coughed and coughed even more...tea, honey, medication, steam, you name it, we tried it...My husband was the sickest and you know what it means a sick man in the house...I was on call for him and Maya 24 hours a day...and then he got better and went to work and left me to deal with my sickness by myself.
Anyhow, I hope to fell better in a few days and to return to my regular posting on the blog. Before that I have to clean the house. Imagine the state of it...
I miss you all and make sure to stay healthy!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not Only Valentine Day

We were busy bees, as you can see. In our house, there are lots of pyjama parties, we also like to dress up a lot (even daddy). And, of course, some Valentine love, even though it is not celebrated in Israel. But we like to keep up with the international trend, so even the toilet paper is sort of Valentine's day special...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good Bye, Mr. Steimatzky!

...and booksImage via Wikipedia If you've been reading my blog, you already know that I am addicted to books...I don't have a lot going on in my life, you see. Between being a new immigrant and a staying at home mother, it gets very lonely sometimes. Did I mention that my husband works long hours? So I find comfort and solace in books...Since I am not able to read in Hebrew (well, more that Maya's board books, I mean) I read in English...It was a time I used to buy my books from but I find the shipping fees enourmously high...I have a very good friend, British and I buy from her British chick lit. I also have a Kindle, but we're still in the early stages of our relationship.
As a former journalist I found the smell of paper and ink very appealing. I love books, as you can see...And book stores as well.
Until lately, I had a good friend working at the Steimatzky store close to my house. Because my frequent visits to the store we developed a good client- shop assistant relationship. She helped me find books, ordered the ones that she new I liked , recommended books for Maya...In short, I was a very happy customer...But, the crisis struck the Israeli ecomony and they fired her!!! I was speechless when she told me... Who is going to help me now? I asked myself. And it seems I was right, because after aproximately two weeks after they fired her I went to the shop to see if they had something new...well, they didn't...Nodody cares about the English books department anymore...The staff that works there is nice and all, but they hardly can type in English and when I asked one of them to find me a book I wanted to order she just didn't get it the end, she told me they don't have it...
Come on, people! I know there are not a lot of English-reading persons in Ashdod, but, what the heck! You sell English book so why to let go the only person that had an excellent grasp of the language and knew about what was going on on the book market...
I know can oder on-line from Steimatzky's web site, but it just lacks the human touch...I went to the store to socialize and to talk about books, one of my favourite subjects...It was a time when I used to go to Tel Aviv once a month or so to buy second-hand books and to peruse the Steimatzky book shop on Dizengoff street. I enjoyed it and I think I'll do it again. It is also an opportunity for some me time, as well.
You know, maybe I need to organize a book club...but I am not sure I could find here, in Ashdod, anybody who would be interested....Hmmm...maybe not, maybe yes. This could be a project of mine, instead of just sitting here, feeling sorry for myself...

So, anyone for a book club?

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Friday, February 4, 2011

So Many Sleepless Nights

During the day, we're fine. Well, almost...We play and we even go to the seaside, when the weather permits. But during the night...Maya just coughs and coughs and coughs...I cannot sleep when when poor baby is not well....sometimes she wakes up crying and I take her into my arms and cradle her back to sleep. Then I wait for the next coughing fit and the next. We took her to doctors, gave her everything they told us, we are taking her to the alergologist, it is our last resort. Everybody is telling us her cough is allergic, so we hope the see the end of this, soon.

Meanwhile, I am leaving you with some gorgeous pictures taken at the seaside, on a sunny day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gothic Reading Challenge - Take Two

The Fallen Angel (Ricardo Bellver, 1877), in M...Image via Wikipedia Is that time of month already? The time really flies, it feels as if it was only yesterday that I wrote my first post on the Gothic Reading Challenge...
What can I tell you? This past weeks I was in a reading frenzy and I managed to read a good deal of books that have gothic elements...I also read some books from other genres (mainly chick lit) and I'll write about them, too. So if you're not into gothic books, you just have to wait for a couple of days, when I hope I'll post my other reading adventures.
But. without further ado..let's dive in..I will start with the book I enjoyed the most, and that was "Shadowfever", by Karen Marie Moning, the last one in the Fever series. I am not going to spoil it for you, if you haven't read it yet. But, what can I say? After we were left with this annoying cliffhanger in book four, I think it was worth the wait. I loved it, loved it...Dark, powerful it makes your skin tingle with anticipation when your devour page after page. If you are not familiar with the Fever series, K.M. Moning site's says about it:

"MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister's murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals that have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac

struggles to cope with grief, while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh--a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King that contains the power to create and destroy worlds."

I hope I tickled your curiosity bone, because it is worth the time and money.

On the second place are two books, actually. I couldn't decide which I loved more, but I think I owe it to Rachel Caine to mention her book first. It is her latest in the Morganville Vampires series - "Ghost Town". My humble opinion is that with every book this series got better and better. I have to say that I like the vampire characters best, so it was interesting to see how Myrin goes even crazier...but with a twist, as he always does...I hope someday Claire will ditch Shane ( I don't know why, I haven't managed yet to even like him) and start something with Myrin...the "je ne sais quoi" between them is already there...

Now, with the third book I got the opportunity to make the aquintance of a new writer. I like that, keeps the routine out of reading. This time is was Heather Terrell and "Fallen Angel" (the first book in a series). I like the subject of angels, fallen or not and I was curious about this new book. It is mainly about a couple of teenagers, Ellie and Michael that discover together something fascinating and frightening about themselves and their families. Nothing is what it seems to be, that's the motto of Terrell's book. Looking forward to the second book.

What other gothic books did I read? Well, I finished the "Bloodsuckers - Vampire Archives Volume I" anthology. Another great read for me. There were some good stories in there, I loved Stephen King's one - "Popsy "and Tanith Lee's "Bite Me or Not, Fleur de Fur". I am in the middle of the second volume of the "Vampire Archives "- "Fangs" and I am looking forward to the third one, "Coffins".
I also read the first two books in the the "Heir Chronicles" by Cinda Williams Chima -" The Warrior Heir" and the "Wizard Heir". Nice YA mix of urban fantasy, romanticism, gothic and a bit of American superhero. I had this two books in my library for some time now and I have no idea why I did read them earlier. Anyhow, sweet and nice, no headache.

Hmmm...let me see what other book I read this month. ..
Oh, I almost forgot! Cornelia Funke, of course! I knew I discovered another fantastic writer...I read "The Thief Lord" first because it isn't part of a series and absolutely adored it. I loved not only the subject, but also the way Cornelia Funke writes...somebody called her "the German J.K . Rowlings" and I agree 100%. I finished "Inkheart" (saw the movie also, loved Helen Mirren as Elinor and the gorgeous Paul Bettany as Dustfingers) and I was spellbound...When she writes about Elinor :"she'll probably end up poor as a church mouse because she spends so much money on books. I think she'd sell her soul to the devil without thinking twice if he offered her the right book for it" my husbands says he recognizes me in the character...the cheek of him! I am not sure how much gothic-ness is there is the book, but Capricorn is one badass, that much I know...Looking forward to "Inkspell" and "Inkdeath". I also have "Reckless" and my husband saiys it is even better...
So, did I read or didn't?
It happens during periods of distress, I just burrow into a good book to forget about the reality...
And I'll finish with a quote from K.M. Moning: "Evil is a completely different creature. Mac. Evil is bad that believes it's good."
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