Mum, Autumn and Hens

My mum was here for a month and that was the best thing ever!!

Coming from a family of 5 siblings, having your mum all to yourself for a month, without specific errands that she needs to run, and without her having service on her regular Israeli mobile phone is a big thing.

Mobile phones work hard in Israel. Much more than they do in Dunedin. Everyone in Israel has Whatsapp (an instant messaging app) installed on their phone –  in case they need something urgent from their family, friends or even the dentist! And, every kindergarten, class or social group has a whatsapp group, which allows you to stay in touch with all of them all day long. All night long as well.

When we were very new in Dunedin we were informed that in the case of frost or snow we should listen to the radio to hear if the kindergarten is closed. So, on the first snowy day, we made our best efforts to listen to the radio news at 8:00 AM, but couldn’t understand the slightest bit of the local accent. To be on the safe side, I drove Tamari up (and later down) some very frosty slopes, to arrive at a closed school, and understand that this is a day off.

The next day we told the teachers what had happened and asked how we can know that the school is closed in future such cases. So, they gave us a copy of the kindy’s phone tree.

I think I haven’t seen one of those in use since I was in the scouts in the 1980’s.

Anyway,  this is a happy granny and very happy kids upon her arrival.


My mom arrived just as autumn was starting down here



and just as these friendly fellows joined our household


It has been a while that we were thinking of having hens, and I have to admit that this is one of my favourite kind of animals!

In the past, Danny and I used to play a game between us, and with friends, who were bored enough to join in. The game was that we all had to name which animal each of us would be assuming that they would have been, had they been an animal, and later we interpreted the answers. The game later developed to “what kind of a medical doctor would you be, had you studied medicine”, and a more awkward version, played only with close friends – “if you had a psychic disorder, which one do you think you would have had”.

Back to the hens – the whole story started in quite a dramatic way when the 4 adorable, little and friendly Brown Shavers that we received were killed (or to be more explicit about that – had their head chopped off) by a horrible weasel. This experience was quite rough, as the girls and I were just about to introduce the beautiful hens to my mum when we found two of them in this unpleasant condition. We immediately started 3 days of massive investigations (and accusations) with regards to whom is responsible for the massacre – initially blaming each hen that seemed to us as if she is trying to look more innocent than she really is.

The mystery was solved only the last hen was killed, and when Danny spotted some blood just outside a small hole in the coop. We were all devastated, except for Danny, who immediately explain that this is the way that raising animals can be like.

I think he is right, and that in a way, it is also good for children to experience that this happens in nature and that this is all part of what life is about. As sad as it is.

Additionally, we thought that it would set a good example for the kids of what resilience and persistence are about. So we gladly received these beautiful new friends.

The girls were a bit more careful about attaching to them or even choosing names for them. Or, to be more precise, they ask daily if there are still three of them when we open the coop in the morning. But that is totally understandable, and we are ever so happy to have these lovely creatures running around our back yard.


Last, but not least, some photos from my wonderful trip with my mum to the west coast of the southern island of New Zealand. It was a lovely week for the two of us. We got to spend lots of time together, drive 2,200 km, drink heaps of coffee, and see a bit more of how beautiful New Zealand is.



For someone coming from a desert-like country, these amounts of water are overwhelming.





IMG_2542.JPGA cute Weka bird


And lots of pebbles on the beach


One of the pebbles that I picked up even had a bit of gold in it, which indicates what the Gold Rush in the south island was all about.

Well, good to know that there is an alternative if the PhD doesn’t work out…

The only really difficult thing about my mum’s visit is when she had to leave because I started missing her the minute she crossed over to the gate leading to her flight. On the way back home I start hating all the airports in the world.


Things you should teach your children before they turn 18

Writing a PhD provides you with the most perfect time to distract yourself and your friends. So that was obviously the best time for me to consider all the things that I would like to teach my girls.

My school years are not an exciting memory for me. I’m afraid I don’t have many good things to say about my experience as a pupil in the Israeli schooling system of the 1980’s.  Although I went to “good” schools, most of what we did was purely academic, and I didn’t find much of it too fascinating.

The only exception to this was the year I spent in England when I was 10 years old. I went to a very ordinary school, nothing too fancy, but for the 1980’s that school was more than I could have hoped for – lots of sports, arts, music, independent work, small classes. Well, maybe something like schools in New Zealand today.

Lately, I started to think of all the skills and knowledge that I want to equip my daughters with for their future independent life. So instead of writing my results chapter for one of my experiments, I found it very urgent to compile a list of what I want to teach my daughters before they turn 18.

The list was so long, that I called my partner straight away, as I was stressed about how we’ll manage it all over the next 11 years. Luckily, he reminded me that we don’t have to do it all at once. And had a cool idea of prioritizing, and figuring out which part of this “curriculum” is suitable for each stage of our girls’ development. So actually we don’t have to do it all at once. Good point!

I came up with a draft list that I’m sharing with you. I tried not to include the more “trivial” things (like swimming, or riding a bicycle).

PLEASE feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below. I’d be happy to add them to my list!

So, there we go:

  • Learn about our body: what are the different body parts and organs, and what is the function of all of them
  • Nutrition – what does our body need, and what kind of food provides us with what
  • How to deal with money: organizing a budget, savings, how to deal with the consumerist culture and advertisements
  • About sex, sexuality, relations between women and men (or whatever kind of romantic or sexual relations)
  • Relationships with people in general: how to tell someone that you are angry, how to apologize and how to forgive, how to ask for help and how to express your emotions. How to listen
  • How to negotiate
  • Basic concepts of human psychology – groups behaviors, masks, personas, how to deal with emotions, disappointments, loss etc.
  • About other countries, cultures, dressing codes and behavior norms
  • Languages
  • How to grow veggies and fruits
  • How to cook and bake
  • How to clean everything
  • How to write an official letter
  • How to write a CV
  • How to call and request information
  • How to organize your home
  • How to have a minimalist wardrobe, and also dress appropriately
  • Positive body image
  • To sew and knit (thank you Steiner school for that one!)
  • How to use a computer (when the time comes…)
  • How to deal with criticism
  • How to take care of someone who is ill
  • How to open an independent business
  • Basic principals of taking care of younger children, and ideas about raising children and education in general
  • The Bible and other mythologies
  • Yoga and meditation
  • How to fix a car, or at least – to know what are the car parts, how to look for second-hand parts, how to look for instructions to fix things ourselves. How to try and fix everything, to use tools, and to be self-sufficient as much as possible.

My amazing friends from the lab added great ideas. Here are some of the ones they suggested:

  • Ethics from different philosophical perspectives. Encourage children to choose their value system and own it. And, that a meaningful life, in part, comes from living a life that is reflective of your values.
  • Drugs (yes, my friends are much younger than me. Nothing of this was very present in Jerusalem in the 1990s’): how to determine and research the drugs you are willing to try/not try so that when you are in a position of peer pressure you have the tools you need to make an informed decision and say no.
  • Coping skills (what are the steps to take when something bad happens or you feel badly).
  • Time management skills.
  • Grit and resilience.
  • Perspective taking.
  • How to take care of your own needs and be autonomous and fulfilled (which is in part related to relationships).
  • How to manage negative emotions and mistakes. How to find meaning and grow from these situations.
  • Critical thinking skills and the dangers of dichotomous thinking.
  • How to deal with high-stress situations.
  • How to debate
  • That life isn’t personal. Everyone is the center of their own universe, but you are not the center of other people’s universe. And that people’s behavior towards you isn’t personal (it has more to do with them than you).
  • Everyone is broken- everyone has lived a life before you. And that you should love people in all of their brokenness and trust them to be who they are, protect yourself accordingly.
  • That there are many many jobs out there (more than what you see at a careers fair)
  • That someone does EVERY JOB, and they are all respectable.
  • Not to be afraid of silence, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to be quiet and hear your own thoughts.
  • That love isn’t conditional upon what the child does, and that the child is always loved, no matter what the circumstances are.

And to finish this emotional load, here are some recent pictures from a small walk







And from our garden


which is always full of surprises, and joy








In the Jungle

One of the advantages that I find in living in a small city in the South Island is the absence of a zoo.

I have taken my girls a couple of times, when they were very young, to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. It was definitely a wonderful experience, especially as it was (nearly) the only place around the city in which one could enjoy a stream of water, a bit of freshly green scenery, and some peace of mind. However, after a while I decided that I’m not happy  having my girls encounter animals behind bars, and would rather have them enjoy random friendships with animals in their natural urban space – stray cats, local city birds and insects.

Now that I think of it, at the time we also had to conduct a burial service for a cockroach that we found under one of the beds.

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And yes, to whomever visits us, our standards of keeping the house tidy have somewhat improved since.

The first time I took the girls to the Jerusalem Zoo, Tamari was extremely anxious about meeting the lions (I suppose most kids visiting the zoo are), and therefore requested that we go see them straight away (to get it over with). The lion and the lioness at the zoo at that time were nothing to be afraid of – they looked pretty sad, trying to cope with the heat, and their small space to move around in. The tiger, that lived right next to them, had only three legs. I was hoping that it was due to some adventurous life in Africa, or at least to being rescued for the sake of its survival by some animal lovers. But, was disappointed to find out that her handicapped state was only a result of being bitten by her father during her stay at the Budapest zoo.

Even though several years have passed since, Tamari still recalls that experience, and it comes handy now, when lions seem to be the new cool thing, ever since the lion king has entered our life.

It all happened quite unexpectedly. My daughters were not at all exposed to media and mass communication. When Tamari was born, we decided that the 14″ TV goes out. It was a precious gift given to me at the end of the 80’s for my Bat Mitzva – the Jewish celebration of the beginning of adulthood. However, after watching Shrek 2, many years later, I felt that I am not such a great fan of contemporary children movies (in general). The movie was far too quick for me, far too stimulating, and the jokes felt as if they were intended to entertain the parents rather than the kids.

But, several social encounters have seemed to have brought to the girls’ the notion that there is a world of movies out there, and that one of these movies is called “The Lion King”.

We have been able to contain their desire with an audio book from the library, and 4 songs that they picked and watch on the computer from time to time. I did notice that being exposed to the screen has some kind of an addictive character. Same as it is for adults, I suppose, and that will probably be a challenge – because as kids watch more, they want more.

I was concerned about this addictive effect and discussed it with the girls. Tamari suggested that we hold an urgent consultation with one of the mothers of her friends, and see how they handle that matter. Sadly, my hypotheses regarding the addictiveness of this hobby were  only supported. What we settled from (inspired by another mother) was a formal family “movie night” – we rented out the movie, and made a big fuss out of the experience (pop corn, and beer for the parents- who were a generation too late to watch The Lion King in their youth).

img_0513The movie screening made such an impact, that my girls started to create their own lion king stuff at home, including a book with a CD with the story of the lion king (at this stage, only available in Hebrew).

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As you can see, my child was definitely moved by the romantic scenes 🙂