Friday, February 27, 2009

Eat, eat, eat!

Every time we have gone to the doctor with Joshua over the past couple of months, he has told us that Joshua should eat more... and every time he has given this advice, I have wondered why Joshua never shows signs of hunger. For the most part, we have listened to him, always keeping in mind that while he is an educated pediatrician, he is also of the mentality that babies are always hungry and cold. By now you may be tired about reading about this, but I just had to add one more note about it. In talking with a friend, I realized the reason that the doctor keeps thinking we should feed Joshua more is because of the amount of weight babies are supposed to gain in their first year. This is probably old news for more experienced moms, but apparently babies are supposed to increase their weight by 2.5 times in the first year of life. That is fine for average-sized babies, but really? Is my one year-old supposed to weigh 25 pounds? That seems a bit excessive! (Besides, weight aside, look at that picture and tell me again that he looks hungry!)

Most of you probably know now that we started to give Joshua some rice cereal right at four months, so the next step was to add a little bit of breakfast. We also started to give him some vegetables to help him adjust to new flavors. Another thing this naive mom learned is to always check labels of baby food because guess what? The rice cereal we have been giving him has sugar in it!! I think this would be forbidden in America, but it is impossible to avoid here. Naturally, Joshua makes faces of disgust when Mommy tries to give him green beans when his other experiences with solid food have tasted like vanilla pudding!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Won't you sit awhile?

After being here for nearly a year, we have some level of understanding when it comes to cultural differences. Even with and increased level of understanding, however, I constantly try to view things from a perspective other than my own. One of my most constant struggles is when to sit with someone and for how long.

Some things remind me of home. For example, when you greet someone, you ask how they are doing. The customary answer is "fine;" we recently discussed with our teach that you wouldn't really respond differently even if you did not really feel "fine". As I have mentioned, it is polite to invite people into your home... whether it is a neighbor walking down the street, the landlord dropping something off, or a friend passing by. When you have someone in your home, you bring drinks and snacks out to them, whether they seem to want them or not! The signal that the visit is coming to an end is typically when they bring out the coffee.

There are two big differences I have noticed between these gatherings and those at home. One is that it seems like there are fewer times when it is appropriate to decline an offer here. The other difference is that no matter how much a guest protests, they really probably want something to eat or drink, and the other side of that is that when I am a guest in someone's home, I MUST eat or drink what they put before me!

It is helpful to figure out these different cultural nuances, but I find myself in different situations weekly that leave me wondering how to best honor my host. It makes me unjderstand much more about what it means to be part of a culture. At home, we do many of the same things, but I am much more capable of "reading people," and I am more comfortable "making entrances and exits." I realize this is only natural; I guess I just have to get used to the fact that there will be times when, no matter how hard I try, I just won't "get it," and I may offend someone.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A visit with neighbors

The other day, David and I decided to take Joshua for a walk. We put him in his little pouch carrier and left. He doesn't need many layers in the carrier because we keep each other very warm... usually uncomfortably warm! However, I usually think to bring a blanket for the sake of those who will see us when we are out with him. We met some new neighbors, which is always fun. There was a sweet little 2 year-old boy, his grandmother, another woman, and eventually, his Mom and 2 aunts. When we first saw them, they were up on a second story balcony or porch. (Of course, it would be called the first story here!) When we turned around and passed them again, they had come down to the road. The little boy had seen Joshua and wanted a closer look. They invited us to come and sit with them. This is the appropriate thing to do when you see anyone anywhere, which makes it easier for us to meet people!

One of the women brought us coffee, and we sat for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. The conversation consisted of discussing how cold Joshua was, that he was certainly hungry, and how shameful it was that we had him out with no blanket. Foolish Mommy! When they brought coffee out, they brought out two little cookies. I turned, and the grandmother, who was holding Joshua, had put one in his mouth!! I have been warned that people will shove things in his mouth, but this was our first time to experience it. Joshua liked the cookie; it was hard and easy to hold, so he was cramming it as hard as he could while he gnawed on it. Of course, when I took it away, he started crying. I explained that he just barely started eating cereal, but they still thought he was crying because he was hungry. So they brough out a banana for him... here we go again! At least this time, I was watching, and I shook my head before they gave it to him. Next, they brought out a towel so that they could wrap it around him. We could allow that one!

If you don't live here, this probably sounds like shocking behavior. You should never try to tell someone else how to parent their children, and of course, you would never give a child something without first asking his parents, right?! Well, it still kind of shocks me, but I know that they mean well, and they just think I am a silly foreigner who doesn't know how to take care of her baby. I just roll my eyes and appreciate how much they love and treasure babies!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hailstorms, Midnight Monsters, and more...

What a week! It all started Tuesday night with incredible storms. I love storms at night, and I was glad we finally got rain, but Joshua woke up right before it got really loud... and couldn't get back to sleep for a couple of hours after that. I was sound asleep when the storms started, and I kept thinking the lightening was going to cause our battery to explode or cause some other serious problem. David brought a handful of hail in to show us from the balcony, and we gathered all of our emergency candles. We had about 4 hours of power in a 24-hour period, and for once, I thought that there was reason for it! (Not that a reason made it any more enjoyable!)

I don't know if I have ever heard hail that loud before; maybe I have slept through it in the past. All I know is that Joshua hasn't slept through the night since then! I felt pretty rested and compassionate until last night, and then I guess I reached the end of my rope. This morning we got up at 5, and then he took a 3 hour nap, so I am more optimistic that we will get back to normal over the weekend. I am thankful that God knows my limits! We hope that Joshua is teething; he has been unusually fussy. I might feel little teeth in the top and middle of his mouth, but I don't know! The doctor has mentioned that Joshua is teething the last two times we have visited, so we shall see. Needless to say, I am ready for the weekend!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Cumbersome Cup of Coffee

David got me a French press for Christmas. I really wanted one so that I wouldn't be forced to resort to instant coffee when we don't have electricity. Some people prefer coffee from a French press. I enjoy it, but it takes a little bit more effort than an automatic coffee pot. This morning, I boiled water, measured coffee, and set up the French press to steep. Four minutes later, I went to push the strainer down, and it came apart inside the beaker. Bummer. I think I must not have screwed it together very well after I used it last. Not wanting to waste the coffee... especially since I just heard Starbuck's in Beirut increased the price of coffee by roughly 70%... I used a hand-held strainer and poured the coffee through it to avoid drinking the grounds. All in all, I have to say that it was worth the effort!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joys of a Healthy Baby

Joshua and David are both healthy again, and I am so glad about that! Joshua's personality seemed to explode as he started feeling better. He loves to grab his feet and anything else he can get his hands on, and he makes all kinds of noises! Joshua has started throwing things; I don't think he really knows he is doing it, but it is kind of impressive to me! He continues to roll over from time to time... or rather "flop" over, and his body frequently revolves around his head like the hands of a clock.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sleeping through the night

I don't know if I dare say this officially, but after a couple of "all-night teases," it seems Joshua has decided that he can handle not seeing Mommy from around 10:30 at night until 7:30 in the morning. He has gone without eating during the night four out of the last 5 nights! While I have been waiting months for this to happen, I now wonder how long I will have to wait before I actually sleep through the night again! My body still seems to want to wake up with Joshua each night, whether I hear him talking in his crib or just wake up for no apparent reason!

Peanut Butter Sweets

People here are very generous; they love to give gifts and share food. When someone sends you something on a plate or in a bowl, you should return their dish to them with something in it. A couple of adult sisters recently visited me, and I served them peanut butter bars that are peanute butter cookie on the bottom with milk chocolate on the top. One of the sisters said, "You use this 'peanut butter' in a lot of your recipes, and it is not so delicious!" The good thing is that after being here for awhile, I laughed at this comment rather than taking offense!

Superbowl Firsts

If you know me at all, you know I am not all that interested in sports. I can't remember ever knowing who is playing in the Superbowl in advance, but this year we are hosting a Superbowl party. That is a first for me! You may be wondering why I did not say "we hostED" a Superbowl party... well, that is another first. Our Superbowl party will be tonight, Tuesday, because that is when it comes on tv here. Those among us who care may avoid learning the results so that they can enjoy the game without knowing who will win. And I guess the "last first" is that we are just continuing to hope that since people are coming over to watch the Superbowl, the game is actually on. Many things could prevent this from happening, ranked in order from least likely to most likely:
  1. the battery could die (we don't have power tonight)
  2. the stations could change
  3. the cable could go out, leaving us with nothing but a blue screen

I guess that isn't a very long list, so we will see how it goes!