31 January 2011

Roomates

Recently we decided to do the unthinkable and put both kiddos to sleep in the same room at night.

Oh my.

We were TERRIFIED.

We talked about it for weeks, went in circles, discussed strategies and I talked with lots of other Moms. I realize that for many families, having their kids sleep in the same room from a young age is normal. God bless you all. We have been apprehensive because, frankly, if this relocation of my daughter caused approximately one minute of sleep to be lost, then I feared it wasn't worth it.

;)

N slept in our bedroom most nights until she just turned one. This was just a convenience and 'lack of a better option' thing. And we knew that eventually we would like her in with her big brother at night.

We realized that summer is looming just around the corner (boo) and that if we kept her in the third room at night, we'd have to run three coolers all night instead of just two. And that costs money and seemed a bit ridiculous. Also, we only have one baby monitor. And if we all have a swamp cooler running in our bedrooms at night (we use swamp coolers in the desert... funny, huh?) then it's so loud you can barely hear yourself think (dream?), let alone hear a distressed child crying from the next room. It's just not happening.

And so we decided to make the plunge.

Gee, I build up to this like it was some big thing. It probably shouldn't have been. I talk about it like we were sending her off to boarding school or something...

But loss of sleep is not to be underestimated, right? And a distressed child crying in the night must be heard, right?

Right.

Thanks everyone, for your support.

Aaanyway...

The first night we talked to H a lot about how baby sister was gonna sleep in his room and when he wakes up in the morning he couldn't yell "Daaaaadeeeeee! Da sun is up!", as usual.

I doubted that his little mind would be able to remember these instructions in his delirious just-waking-up-state. But we did all we could to prepare him to stay quiet when he woke up, since he gets up to go to nursery school at least an hour before sweet N usually wakes from her sweet slumber.

However, we made the awful mistake of putting N to bed before we tucked H in. Woops. Should have put her in the room when it was dark and quiet. She was not happy about that. Once we tucked big brother in and turned out the light and shut the door, we listened to find out what would happen next. She wailed for about 30 minutes that first night. Sorry, baby. But H would occasionally say gently to her "It's okay N. It's okay."

He's the sweetest.

Eventually they both fell asleep. And when H woke up and... he stayed quiet!!! I was shocked.

We got him out of bed to come read books in the living room and she kept on snoozing.

Success! Sort of...

We quickly ran into problem #2. My boy has woken up and read books in his bed or his bedroom chair in his room immediately for YEARS. It's his daily routine and habit (we taught him to do this since he was a wee babe). And of course, that routine was disrupted cause he had to come straight out of his room, instead of having his usual in-room-reading-time.

This was NOT okay with him. But we persevered and got through that tough hour with books on the couch and an extra 'rest-time' on the guest bed.

The next night and morning went much better. There wasn't much crying at all!

The third morning, however, someone cried (don't know who) and that woke up the other who then cried.

This was my greatest fear.

So... that one was an unusually early morning for all of us, but it really wasn't so bad. It's nice to have them together, and H is so sweet with her and comforts her if anything is wrong.

Kinda makes me want to fill up that whole room with sweet, caring offspring!

Kinda.



Here they are snoozin' away with the light from the living room late at night. N sleeps with a sheet over her crib. They are both really sound sleepers.

It's been almost a week now and we've got the routine down. Usually N goes to bed before H and we just quietly tuck him in his bed in the dark room after she is asleep.

Sweet dreams!

30 January 2011

Quote of the Day

H asks me: "What are you doing mama?"

"Goin' to the bathroom." I replied.

"Why?" (the all-too common response to any answer I give)

"Cause sometimes nature calls." is my answer to his question.

"Okay then, I'll get my pone (phone)!" he yells excitedly as he scampers off to his bedroom to find his toy phone. That way, he can be ready when nature decides to give him a call!

Ha!!! I love that boy!

Opposite

English Club- A place for language learners to use English in a casual setting.

Last week I joined a local English Club cause I've noticed lately that my English is really regressing. I even heard myself say "ain't" recently.

Ha! Just kidding. I joined cause it's fun to talk with someone who isn't three years old. And it's also part of my new 'spice up my life' personal campaign. I've been involved in English Clubs in the past. The discussions are usually quite interesting so I was kinda excited . But what took me by surprise is how much the topic got ME thinking too.

The topic (led by the very talented and capable Miss L) was "What does it mean to be successful?"

(quiet moment for pondering)

Big question, right?

The locals' answers were the expected smattering of "Be successful at my job" "Have a family" "Do what I love" "Be happy" "Make a difference in the world" with the occasional "Obey God" thrown in . Oh yeah, and one very odd "Satisfy my wife" from one young unmarried man.

(awkward silence)

My answer was different. My answer, as you can expect, was also about obeying and pleasing God, but I also mentioned that as a wife and a Mama... that the more I can give up my own needs and desires for the needs and desires of others... that that is a mark of success for me. And that I want to love others like God has loved me. And like L said... that this life is essentially not about this life, but the next life. That it's about knowing Jesus and pleasing Him.

It was quiet. People listened. People nodded. I heard one 'Wow'.

Now readers, you know I don't have it altogether, right? Good.

Let's just make sure that is clear. I can think about these things and say them to a room full of people and post them in my own little corner of cyber-space, but it doesn't mean that it's easy to do day in and day out. It's just what I (and maybe I can speak for other believers) spend my life/our lives striving for.

Aaanyway, when the discussion wrapped up and L and I were walking home I realized how completely opposite our goals should actually be from the goals that seem to be the norm in this life on Earth.

Maybe it's no coincidence that I've been studying The Beatitudes lately.

Where Jesus says...

Blessed (Enviably happy) are the poor in spirit (those who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek (patient and long-suffering),
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled (they'll be completely satisfied!).
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (for being and doing right before God),
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven...

So basically, Jesus says (amongst other things):

If you think of yourself as insignificant, if you are sad, if you are meek, if you are hungry, if people hate you and insult you... then CONGRATULATIONS!... You are among the most blessed people on earth.

There's really no mention of "Blessed are those who become a master in their career" or "Blessed are those who can buy whatever they want" or "Blessed are those who are friends with everyone."

I'm not saying He damns people who fit those categories, either. Don't misunderstand me. Those people can still be blessed... but I don't think it's where we'll find true happiness or blessed-ness.

Don't we tend to spend our lives striving towards gaining respect and favor from others?... how badly we want to be liked! We try to cheer ourselves when we're sad... we don't want to be mournful people. We don't want to be meek, so we try to pinpoint our weaknesses so that we can make them into strengths. And we generally hate to have any sort of hunger...

Jesus is so opposite.

So beautifully, supernaturally, wonderfully opposite.



(Passage is from Matthew 5: 3-12, The Message, parenthesis from The Amplified Bible.)

28 January 2011

Organization

We recently got a new (used) wardrobe for the kids room. We don't have any built-in closets in our flat (most homes don't). We have had various metal wardrobes and cabinets for many years, but I am slowly trying to replace the metal furniture in our house that reminds me of office furniture with wooden, warmer feeling homey pieces.

So awhile ago when it was time to switch... this is how we started:



By dumping everything on the floor.

Oh my.

This may have overwhelmed some.

But me? It made me TOTALLY excited!

I did have some help...



Like this guy who was the music D.J.



And provided some dancing entertainment.



And this girl helped me by knocking over my neat stacks of folded clothes. She is so great to have around.



Once it was all washed out it was ready to fill.



We started from the top down.





Oh wait... I don't think that's the best place for those two munchkins. Then where will I put the spare diapers and pack n play sheets?!

;)



Soon everything was in it's place. Things were purged, folded, organized and sorted.

Aaahhhhh.

I just love this kind of project... I can't help it! Making organization out of chaos brings such joy to my heart...

27 January 2011

Outing

Today we had an outing. Just us girls.



And it was N's first time on the local bus!!! As you see, she was as thrilled as L and I were!



She did pretty well and mostly loved that she had so many new faces to look at.



Like the face of this guy behind us, who had his camera out to take pictures of my baby as soon as I had mine out.

This is typical.



See those fuzzy dice in the front? They love to have all kinds of things in the windows.

Sometimes it's hazardous.

Not today.



Here's a view of another bus just like our bus from our bus.



After our meeting we visited a local 'cafeteria' for lunch. Fuul sandwich and a fresh fruit juice/smoothie.



You can guess which N liked. This is a common face for my girlie. Isn't it funny?



She mostly wanted to take the straw in and out and in and out. It was cute at first and then I wanted her to stop. She didn't want to stop. So then we had a straw-tugging match.

I had a straw-tugging match with my one year old. (!)

I won. But it wasn't easy. She's got a death grip, even on a slippery straw.



I like days out with the girls.

26 January 2011

A Late Night's Work

Tonight I worked late.

Sometimes I do this. Sometimes I put on my ipod (or in this case, Mikey's MP3 player) and I head to the kitchen to get something serious done. Much mundane work is made incredibly enjoyable and even therapeutic when completed in the kitchen alone with a quality podcast piped straight to the ears. Might I recommend This American Life? So so entertaining and interesting! It's been our fav podcast for years.

Wait! I have an analogy for you.

The Adventures in Odyssey Radio Program: Children

This American Life Podcast: Adults

Get it? Ha! It's been a long time since I even thought about analogies. Funny, that. I'm flashing back to the pre-college SAT just now...

Oh my.

Hey! Does anyone even know The Adventures in Odyssey? Fun radio programs from Focus on the the Family that made time FLY by when I was a kid. It was like magic. Thirty-minutes-riding-in-the-car-on-a-painfully-long-ride-in-a-cramped-backseat-to-Florida GONE in like, the blink of an eye.

Hello?

Have I lost you? My, my I'm rambly tonight.

What is the purpose of this post?

Right.

My late night's work.

Ahem.

Tonight I did something that would take all day if I tried to do it during daylight when little munchkins gnaw on my ankles and demand that I put teddy to bed and cover him properly and scream if a full bottle is now empty and need me to wipe their bottoms and play instruments with them while we sing "C is for Cookie" and do all kinds of cute things to warrant thousands of hugs and kisses and and and.

You get the idea.

Wow.

Right. The point...

Now I almost feel funny saying it cause I've rambled on so much. It's like it's now it's expected to be something big or interesting or something climatic somehow...

But it's not. It's just a quadruple batch of from-scratch tortillas.



Fifty, to be exact. Oh wait. Fifty-one. My handsome, live-in quality-control-inspector came into the tortilla factory long enough to test the controlled quality of my tortillas. (?) He said they passed inspection. And now the fifty remaining quality tortillas are in my freezer. Having fifty tortillas in my freezer brings an indescribable feeling of peace and security in my heart, I'd like you to know.

But... I can't say how many tiny little black ants that would not stay out of my way may or may not have gotten rolled up in the dough in the process.

That's it. That's all.

That's what I wanted to say to you since the beginning of this post. I'm not sure what happened along the way. But I'm done now.

A big shout out to my one remaining reader for sticking with me on this one. (Hi Mom. Miss you!)

Good night. Sleep well.

I'll see you in the morning for breakfast burritos.

What's that?

You're busy?

Too bad.

Flashback to Museum

Flash with me folks, back to December when my parents were here and we were doing 'touristy' things!

I took the 'rents and the kiddos to the National Museum. I wasn't really looking forward to it (hope I didn't let on Mom and Dad... but maybe I don't hide things like I think I am sometimes)... but I can say that now cause it was really fun!

H thought so too. He'd been there before but was too young to remember.

There is lots to look at and lucky for him... lots to CLIMB on and run around.

There isn't really the same respect for ancient artifacts that some of us are accustomed to. We've seen this all over the country when we have toured sites. Very rarely are there any limitations to the amount of touching and climbing you can do. There are rarely any velvet ropes or "Don't touch" signs.

So my boy was exploring an ancient Egyptian-ish sculpture. I remember making a mental note (or attempting make a mental note) of the date of this item you'll see below. But I failed to save that date in the long-term archives and now a month later it's long gone.

But I can tell you that this thing is old. Like, really really old.



And here is my boy climbing up and telling us "He's talking to me!"

Ha! He's just pretending. He's such a good pretender.

At least I hope he didn't hear any voices. Cause that would be creepy and strange and...

Nope. I'm certain he was just pretending.



And then he got real friendly and climbed up into the dude's lap.

This is as close as he's ever gotten this year to sitting on Santa's lap.

I can hear him now...

"Dear ancient Egyptian-ish statute... all I want for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"

Ha!

H isn't the only one who can pretend...

;)



Now he's striking the pose in front of another ancient model.

So cute. (the boy, NOT the statue!)

25 January 2011

Quote of the Day

"What's this?" I ask H as he is playing with some various items.

"A lemon." He answers. "... it's gonna grow up to be lemonade."

24 January 2011

Diminshed

While driving in the city a couple days ago we spotted this gentleman:



and we concluded that his motorbike fuel efficiency was severely diminished by his choice of apparel.

And, that he kinda looked like a big marshmallow.

That's all.

:)

23 January 2011

Conflict

I have conflict in my life.

No. Not with my husband. Not with my children.

With myself.

My life is the usual for a mother of two small children. My days repeat themselves. Day after day after day after day. The tasks and activities and even the very words I speak “H, take a bite of yogurt. Now take another bite. Now take another bite. Now take another bite.” This phrase and a hundred just like it are repeated by the minute, by the day, by the week.

Laundry. Diapers. Dishes. Meals. Bottles. Baths. Whining. Giggles. Cartoons. Books. Jammies. Kisses. Frustrations. Pat-a-cake. “Please N, you NEED to eat.” Toys. Cars. Grubby hands. Tickles.

You have heard it before from a thousand women just like myself who face these same repetitive, challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, melt-your-heart, I NEED SOME ALONE TIME kind of days. Day after day. We all go through the same thing.

And I do suppose that my challenges are a bit out of the ordinary because I also live in North Africa. Where I find the BIGGEST challenge to add on top of the all usual challenges is a severe lack of things to DO. I recently sat and thought about it… I estimate I have been spending an average of 10 hours a week outside of my house.

10 hours.

I HATE admitting that, just so you know.

This 10 hours is coming from a extroverted woman. And active woman. A woman that for years wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom knowing that in America one doesn’t actually have to stay home much. I like to get out, see people, do things. But here I am. At home.

Still.

Yes. To answer your question there are things I could get out and do. Sorta. But the challenges surrounding them end up causing me to talk myself out of it 9 times out of 10. Challenges like…. “But it’s the baby’s naptime” and “But M needs the car” and “But it’s so far across the city” and “It’s too hot” or “I have too much to catch up on at home.”

I wonder. How can one woman spend so much time catching up on things at home? I am ALWAYS here! What in the world do I have to catch UP on? Please, someone tell me.

Nonetheless, this is the reality.

And so there is conflict in my head.

What do I do? Do I accept the circular days with all their challenges and joys? Or do try to make some changes?

Do I continue maintaining my sole focus as my home and my family? I want to fill and complete this God-given role well above all else. But am I selling them short if I don’t do anything else if I feel a nudge to? Would I be a better wife and Mom if I got out more to do something un-related to aforementioned home, children and husband? Would it energize me? Give me more patience? Help me to cope with the circulating circular days?

Maybe. Just maybe.

In the summer I resolved to do nothing else but care for my home and family and the occasional extra responsibility. I felt God led me to this decision. Honestly, it’s all I could handle. My emotional health was fragile in the summer, as I think many mothers' is here in this crazy inferno of a city. And this summer that strategy totally worked. I focused on them and on keeping myself healthy. We had a great summer. Really really great.

But maybe I waited too long to re-evaluate. Cause now I feel like that season is gone (at least temporarily) and I am struggling with the ways things are now. I need to do more. I want to do more. I need to step out, use my gifts, get stretched, nudge myself to get outta this house.

Maybe more than a nudge. Maybe I need to kick myself in the pants (or long skirt…whichever is appropriate. Ha!) cause now I'm just so used to being here ALL THE TIME.

Not too much though. Remember that geographically and meteorologically related emotional health thing?

Yeah. Definitely must not do too much.

But the conflict remains. I’m scared… what if even doing a little extra is too much and I can’t handle it? Maybe I should stay focused on the basics and take time to rest.

Or maybe I should really go crazy in the other direction and do something absolutely seemingly impossible and perhaps stupid, like starting a preschool… just so I can either fail miserably but get to say that 'at least I tried' or maybe I’d succeed because I put all my trust in God and He helped me climb that mountain. The challenge of this actually causes me to consider it.

But probably, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I believe I’ll add some things into my weekly schedule, but not too much. I need to get out more. But my family needs me.

Oh… how badly I want to have the right balance. To be the woman God created me to be as a wife, a mother, a friend, and His child learning to listen, obey, trust, step-out and grow.

Guide me Jesus. I want Your ways. Your plans.

22 January 2011

Redemption II - The Forest

Today I redeemed another Christmas gift card thingy from my hubby... a trip to the forest!

We'd never been to this 'forest' in the city before. We thought it would be hard to find, but it turned out it wasn't hard at all. We just drove to the vague vicinity of the forest and then followed all the young couples whose parents would not approve of them being out together... and we easily found the forest!

It was actually kinda of foresty. Much to our surprise! And it was right on the Nile. We were surprised by how quiet and peaceful it was.

We chose a tea lady who had chairs on the edge of the forest by the water and got settled.





If we would have come and hour later I think we would have seen a gorgeous sunset over the water.



N sat in this chair for about 2.5 minutes. During which time she gnawed on a muffin.



Then she threw bits of it on the ground and peered over to take a look.



H sat in his seat for about 4.5 minutes and drank his very own cup of carcaday (hibiscus) tea.

He would sit next to his cup of tea and stick his finger in it to repeatedly test the temperature.

So cute.



He especially enjoyed the last drops which were pretty much pure sugar. When he held the glass up to his lips for a long time to let the thick sugary syrup slowly drip down the glass into his mouth I asked him what he was doing. He told me "I jus wike da sugar Mama."

Uh huh. I bet you do!



There was lots to explore.



And lots of exploring to watch.



Please. Could someone tell me what is IN that belly of hers? Besides, of course, the muffin that was repeatedly dropped in the dirt and returned to her grubby little hands?

21 January 2011

She's So Generous

My girly has really developed quite a generous side in the past few months. She loves to give things away...



She'd like to share with you a business card from the art show,



her Dr. Suess book,



a lid to our mosquito repellent



and of course... a maraca.

Those were all things you were really needing, weren't they?

Yup. She's so generous...

20 January 2011

The Letter I

Today in school my boy studied (term used loosely) the letter 'I'.

See?



Isn't it amazing how H can paint in the letters so well?

Oh yes, my boy the teachers are great painters. I've already mentioned this here.

Aaaanyway, they always color or paint the letters and then color or paint something else that begins with the letter.

This is nursery school activities 101, right? You get it.

Only I thought today's 'I' word was a bit strange.

In the U.S., when Aunt Julie took H to Romp 'N Stomp, they also did the letter I. And they talked about igloos, iguanas and ice cream! Fun!

Today (are you ready for this?!) H brought home a nicely colored picture of an...



INJECTION?!!

You have got to be kidding me.

Really. Is this some kind of joke?

They had two and three year olds coloring pictures of syringes and teaching them INJECTION?!

Wow.

18 January 2011

Quote of the Day

"KSTART YOUR VOGUE WATCH"

-a tee-shirt spotted during a walk

Words to live by, wouldn't you say?

(???!!)

17 January 2011

A Fleecey Kind of Day

I know you hear me talk a lot about the weather. I can't help it. I guess it's just 'cause frankly... the weather is a big part of life here.

So there.

And lately it's been frigid. You already know this cause I showed you the five covers I've been sleeping under. What I didn't tell you is that the other day I added a sixth. A quilt.

Oh my.

Aaaaannyway...



We've all been wearing fleece.

Currently I'm wearing two layers.

It's around 65 in the house.

Brr. That does sound cold. Maybe I'm not crazy. Or maybe I literally have lost all sense for a normal person's idea of hot and cold. I have no idea.

But it's a funny thing. Cause I can sit here freezing and not be able to FATHOM sitting in the same spot in a few months roasting. Literally, I'll be sitting here in three months time, dripping in sweat, wrists sticking to the keyboard, half-dehydrated while my kids play under the fan in their skivvies while the air-coolers run full-blast.

Except I can't remember that feeling. The actually FEELING of being hot. It's completely lost on me at the moment.

And you can be sure that in THAT 'what-am-I-doing-living-in-these-temperatures MUST DRINK ICE WATER' moment that I won't be able to conjure up this feeling of chill that I am feeling now.

It's a funny thing, these feelings of hot and cold.

I don't have it figured out.

All I know is that today...



...it's a fleecey kind of day.

Repeat Offender

Usually I am pretty good about my kids' boundaries. As in, what is a toy and what is not.

But there is one area I have not been consistent with my daughter. At all.

It shows.

I know that the kitchen cabinets and pantry and fridge should be off limits. But she knows my weakness and she sneaks in at just the moment when I'm in the end stages of some multi-tasking kitchen feat. She knows I haven't the energy to wash my hands, move her away, tell her no, watch (and listen to) her scream and insist she stop digging in the cabinets.

Instead I use my energy to wash my hands, take her picture and tell her how cute she is, naturally.

She loves it.

Then later I clean up everything she pulled out.

Then I am reminded that I have lemon poppy seed muffins mixes and another bag of brown sugar. Oh goodie!

And the next day... repeat.

I have proof. Lots of proof.

Wanna see?

Okay. I can't hear you.

But here is the proof anyway...



Here she is squatting on a precious pack of pretzels.

She has no respect for the much-too-small-for-the-price packet of imported pretzels.



She's really looking hard for somethin'. Maybe she knows that I hide the cheerios back there...



She's so dang cute.



And brave! Here she risked her life to discover the unknown territory of the refrigerator door.



It keeps her happy and occupied...



I can't say no!



Just look at her...



I also came across this picture from November at my parent's house.

Even then, I found her gazing longingly into their (incredibly clean, now that I look at it compared to mine) fridge.

If only she'd eat half of what she pulls out...

15 January 2011

Redemption

Today I redeemed one of my Christmas presents from my hubby...



We went to buy plants!!



As soon as we got out of the car H was mesmerized by all the flowers out front.



This place even had a proper flower shop in the front.



When I stepped in here I didn't feel like I was in the country that I was in.

At all.



H was most excited about anything orange. Orange is his color, after all.



This kid ran all over the nursery. Up and down and up and down and around and around the little dirt aisles.



Can you see the energy oozing out of his limbs? This compact pose was struck just before he started jumping in circles, limbs waving in all directions.

Crazy kid.

Crazy cute kid.



Seriously, he was hysterical.

"Moommeeeee, Daadeeeeeeee, wook at dis! Wook at dis! Woooook aaaat diiiiisss!" (pointing everywhere all at once).

Everything was amazing to him.

He is amazing to me.



This one? She couldn't have cared less.

It's okay. We all have our days, don't we?



This was my bonus plant! One above the prescribed two!!

The plant carrier was quite proud of his duty.



Look at this gorgeous vine with the hanging flowers. I bought one of those for the equivalent of five bucks. Do you think mine will turn out to look like that one?

Not sure.

But I'm a-gonna try.



Here we finalized our purchases. The blue flowering viney plant, the small very cheap bonus plant and the palm looking plant for indoors.

I think I'll go back with H sometime. I don't think the kid would have been any happier at Disneyland.

Okay. I don't actually know that.

I just know that he LOOOVED this plant nursery!

I did too. Thanks Mikey!