# Thursday, 26 March 2009

Our trip to London

Chaya Devoira had an appointment back in the hospital last Tuesday, as a follow-up from the operation. We took the opportunity to have an afternoon off, and went down on Monday afternoon.

We spent the afternoon in the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. This was a bit like being a little boy again! When I was young, my mother used to take me to London for the day on my birthday. We spent the morning in the Natural History Museum, followed by lunch in one of the kosher salt beef bars that used to exist in Soho (not the sort of place a Yiddishe boy would go nowadays!), and the afternoon in Hamley's toy shop, spending my birthday money.

As previously blogged, we spent far too much in Hamley's last time we were in London, so we decided not to do that again. No, this time we spent far too much in the Science Museum's shop! They have some amazing stuff there, although it's pretty pricey. Trouble is, the stuff is so tempting, it's hard to resist! Anyway, we got some more birthday presents, and some afikomen presents at the same time. I even got my own birthday present, which of course I've forgotten about, and will be very surprised about when I get it!

As usual, I've waffled on and forgotten the main point of this blog point. Although spending some time together was an important side benefit of the trip, the main purpose was to take Chaya Devoira for her appointment :-)

They did the usual stuff, a heart scan, ultrasound thingy, some other clever things too. The important point is that the doctor gave her a very good report boruch Hashem. He confirmed that there is a small leak in one of the valves of her heart, but was quick to point out that this was not significant, and could very well never affect her. Even if it requires correction, this could be a matter of decades!

After the appointment, we had lunch in the arboretum of the hospital, where we spent many hours last time. The sun was shining gloriously through the glass roof, and the windows were open, creating a lovely summer feel to the meal.

We then went back to the train station, with a quick stop in Trafalgar Square to say hello to Lord Admiral Nelson, who looked somewhat nervous on top of that column! Sadly the famous masses of pigeons that always used to be a feature of the square were gone. There were signs around asking people not to feed the pigeons, and very few pigeons to feed. I guess they read the signs and went elsewhere!

Anyway, we returned home, tired but happy in the late afternoon, just in time for the children's supper, where we sang Happy Birthday to Eliyohu, for it was indeed his birthday. Supper was spicy chicken cous cous, with boozy trifle for dessert. Yum.

We are going back for another appointment at the end of July, at which they intend to take her off the remaining medicines. After that, it should be just an annual appointment to keep a general eye on her.

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# Sunday, 22 March 2009

Family picture

It's rare we manage to get a decent picture of everyone, but we managed it the other day! Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't as good as it might be, but the smiles are nice...

Smile Gemach family picture 22nd March 09
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Pearl of (fruity) wisdom

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.

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# Friday, 20 March 2009

Chaya Devoira laughing

The Boss was jiggling Chaya Devoira up and down, causing her to laugh and giggle. I managed to catch a couple of shots of her...

Chaya Devoira laughing

Maybe I'll try video next time, because the smiles look far better in motion, and the giggle are just gorgeous!

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# Thursday, 19 March 2009

Simcha's birthday

Today, Simcha has reached the grand age of three. She has finally admitted to being big, but is quick to point out that she's still a girl. Apparently she's going to be a boy when she grows up! Don't ask me, I only live here!

Anyway, when we were in London, we took some time out (whilst Chaya Devoira was in the ICU) to visit Hamley's, one of the best toy shops I've ever been in - and I've been in a few! Amongst (too many) other things, we bought an inflatable bouncy castle for Simcha's birthday present. We presented it to her this morning, and I had the joy of trying to blow it up. It took over an hour, even with the aid of a foot pump, but the results were well worth it...

Simcha in her new bouncy castle

She giggled and bounced until the others came home. Predictably, everyone else wanted a go too! Simcha was very good about it, and let them all have a good bounce.

After bouncing, it was time for supper, and the inevitable birthday cake...

Simcha in her new bouncy castle

A good time - and a full tummy - was had by all.

Happy birthday Simcha.

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# Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Post Purim post

Due to a combination of factors, including generally being busy, a computer crash, laziness and a few other things, I never managed to post some pictures from Purim.

So, better late than never, here are the three children who dressed up...

The children on Purim

On the left is Aryeh Yehuda, whose whole class dressed up as convicts. In the middle is Simcha, dressed as a sheep, and eating sweets (which she did a lot on Purim). On the right is Eliyohu, whose class smartly dressed as soldiers.

On Purim day, Eliyohu's real inner self came out, and he dressed as a Chassidishe Rebbe, which I reckon is what he'll end up! Here he is in the middle of a mitzvo tanz (ecstatic dance done by some Chassidim when in a high state of excitement about a mitzvo)...

Eliyohu dancing

Nechoma Bryna didn't dress up, Shayna Brocho dressed up, but didn't stay still long enough for me to photograph, and Chana Liba only wore her costume for a very short time, which I missed when I was in shul, before deciding she wanted to dress in Shabbos clothes instead.

Plenty of sweets were eaten, and a good time was had by all!

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# Thursday, 05 March 2009

Goodbye syringes, hopefully forever

Some syringesIt's funny (as in odd, not amusing) how you get used to bizarre things. We have lived with a cupboard full of syringes for the last five months, we've kind of got used to them. Chaya Devoira was being fed through a syringe (down the tube), and she had her medicines from syringes as well.

The NHS has been very forthcoming in its supply of syringes, and we ended up with quite an impressive (and space-consuming) collection. Coupled with the fact that they brought us a whole pile just before she went into hospital the last time, and the fact that they don't normally take them back once they've been in someone's house, we had enough to start a modest medical facility.

I had been contemplating what to do with them all. The nurses said that they couldn't take them back, and we should throw them away. This seemed somewhat wrong to me, but who am I to argue with the wisdom of the NHS?

Therefore, I was mildly amused to discover that there is a fair trade in sterile syringes on eBay! Whilst the proceeds from selling them wouldn't be enough to fund the aforementioned modest medical facility (which we wouldn't open without the syringes), it would have been quite a nice little bonus.

To my dismay, our friendly local Community Nurse decided that she was going to risk sneaking them back in, hoping that no-one would notice. They are all sealed and sterile, so it's not really a problem.

So that was it. They came today, and we piled up her groaning car with boxes of syringes, and away drove my beer money!

At least I have the satisfaction of having saved the NHS a modest amount of money. I hope they are grateful :-)

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# Tuesday, 03 March 2009

Revealed: The secrets of belly button fluff

In what must be the ultimate exercise in navel-gazing, an Austrian scientist has solved the mystery of belly button fluff

After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.

Dr Steinhauser made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button.

Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not made up of only cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust.

Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that 'small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day'.

Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, he said the scaly structure of the hair enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button.

"The hair's scales act like a kind of barbed hooks," he said. "Abdominal hair often seems to grow in concentric circles around the navel."

The researcher, from Vienna University of Technology also asked friends, family and workmates about their own belly button fluff.

Dr Steinhauser established that shaving one's belly will result in a fluff-free navel - but only until the hairs grow back.

Other suggestions for keeping the navel fluff-free include wearing old clothes, as they tend to shed less lint than newer garments, which can lose up to one thousandth of their weight to the belly button over the course of a year.

A body piercing can also be used, with belly button rings particularly effective at sweeping away fibres before they lodge.

Dr Steinhauser, whose other projects have included monitoring the erosion of his wedding ring, said: "The question of the nature of navel fluff seems to concern more people than one would think at first glance.

"We hope we have been able to provide information for doctors when they are next confronted with the simple question of 'why some belly buttons collect so much lint and others do not'."

An earlier, Australian study of samples from 5,000 people concluded the typical carrier of navel fluff to be 'a slightly overweight middle-aged male with a hairy abdomen'.

Researcher Karl Kruszelnicki said: "The reason it is usually blue is that we mostly wear blue or grey trousers, often jeans, and when these rub against the body, the fibres often end up finding their way to the navel."

Not all belly button fluff is blue however. In the curious case of Australian hospital worker Graham Barker much of his fluff is red, even though he rarely wears the colour.

Mr Barker has been collecting his own navel fluff in jars every day since 1984. The achievement has won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's largest collection of navel lint.

Reprinted without permission from The Telegraph web site.

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# Sunday, 01 March 2009

Chaya Devoira smiling

Boruch Hashem, following her operation, Chaya Devoira now smiles quite a lot. They are often fleeting, but there are more and more of them. Hopefully they will last longer too, which should make for easier photography!

Anyway, I managed to capture two smiles, and couldn't decide which to put on here, so I put on both!

Chaya Devoira smiling

More smiles as I can grab them :-)

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# Monday, 23 February 2009

Finally home!

I am typing this blog post with Chaya Devoira on my knee :-)

They arrived at around 6:30pm this evening, well, tired, and free of wires and tubes. The Boss worked out that Chaya Devoira has only spent four more days at home than she has in hospital in her entire life. Let's hope that's going to change from now on.

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