Monday, March 30, 2009

Intruder Alert!

When Joshua was learning how to "go through sleep cycles," he often woke up in the middle of his naps for a little while. Sometimes he would cry for a few minutes, and other times he would make little noises before sleeping for another hour or so. David and I used to look at each other and say, "Intruder alert!" Lately, a different type of intruder has interrupted his sleep from time to time.

Joshua has a mobile above his head and a little stuffed dog tied to the side of his crib. They both play the same song. We thought that the mobile was defective in some way because the song started playing spontaneously in the middle of Joshua's nap or shortly after we put him to bed for the night. It seemed like it stopped before it completely finished unwinding. One afternoon, I went to look at him while he was sleeping, and Joshua was holding onto the little ring that you pull to make the puppy play music. I just thought it was so cute! It dawned on me later that it wouldn't take much coordination or effort to pull the ring and make the song play. David was pretty sure it was the mobile, so we stopped winding it for awhile. It started happening more and more, and Sunday, I was so frustrated because it was clearly waking him up! That afternoon, David caught Joshua in the act, and it turns out that the mobile was not waking him up, rather Joshua was waking up and playing with his little puppy friend. We have since put it out of reach!

First Word

Maybe that is a tease of a title, but Joshua has definitely been experimenting with the different sounds he can make as well as volume he can reach. David insists that "DADADADADA" is Joshua's first word. At this point, I would say it is more of his first syllable or vowel consonant cluster, but maybe he will place it with the correct person and then it will be his first word!

The picture doesn't have anything to do with this; it is Joshua looking cute while we practice sitting and learn Arabic all at the same time! Right now, Joshua is perfectly happy to not sit. Why learn to do it by himself when he gets attention and cuddles when we help him?!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Highchair Debut

Joshua has been eating solid food for over 2 months now, and this amateur Mommy just realized that most babies actually eat while sitting in a highchair! I have been feeding him in his little "bouncy seat" because that was as close as he could get to sitting up at all 2 months ago. Last week, we got our highchair down from storage, washed it from top to bottom, (we were blessed to receive a used one), and let Joshua sit in it for the first time. I think we both prefer it. It is nice for him to have his little table, and it is nice for me to be able to sit in a chair rather than hunched over on the floor. This week we introduced apricots and prunes... with good reason, but I won't give those details... and thankfully, he really enjoyed them! Now the evening meal time goes as follows: milk, highchair with spoonfed fruit/veggie/cereal, highchair time practicing picking up little finger foods while Mommy washes dishes or eats breakfast.

Joshua can pick up the little pieces, but he doesn't seem to get that what is in his hand goes into his mouth. At other times, he leans forward with his mouth open as if the little pieces might jump in by themselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ideal Language Learning

Most people probably know that I was a Linguistics major in college. Particularly because of my background, it is fun for me to have this experience of learning Arabic in a country where it is the first language. I have definitely learned things that I never could have learned in a classroom, and I have been able to apply many theories that I learned in the classroom. Before we moved here, I was so excited to sit down and study. I am internally motivated, and I spent many hours a week making notecards and learning vocabulary. I never would have imagined that I would get tired of it. Now, partly because of Joshua, but mainly because of where we are in our knowledge of the language, I can hardly stand to sit down and study at all. It seems like a complete waste of time to expand my vocabulary list. What I love now is to practice! (I guess when I say "love", I mean that I recognize this is the most important thing right now.:-P) Last weekend, I had the best time sitting with several women who speak very little English. They are all in the same family, so they are very comfortable with one another. It was so nice for me because there was opportunity for me to speak, but it wasn't as stressful as it can be when I am one of two people in the conversation. The best part is listening to them chatter away; it is encouraging to me when I can understand a lot because I feel pretty dumb when I try to form my own thoughts and verbalize them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pardon me, but I think my mooquet is in your garden.

Most people here use clotheslines to dry their clothes. We have one on our balcony, and I was originally really excited about having a place to hang things that can't go into the dryer. David was glad to not have my clothes hanging all over the house... for awhile. I quickly realized that the nice white sheets flowing in the breeze at sunset on the commercials don't actually smell as nice as they look! Things that I hung outside always smelled like... well, I bet you can guess... outside! So I have only used the clothesline for a few things in the past 8 months. Sunday evening, after our utility room fiasco, I put a small carpet and highchair cover out to dry overnight. The carpet was in the utility room, and I had just washed the hand-me-down highchair cover. That night, it got pretty windy. I looked out the kitchen window the next morning to see the lack of carpet and the highchair cover hanging on my the buckle. The carpet, (the Arabic word for it is "mooquet"), was down on the ground, probably smashing something in the lovely vegetable garden behind our building. It made me think of the other times we have had funny clothesline experiences. Over the summer, one of our friends who visited put his shorts out on the clothesline. I think they ended up in a tree, and he went and got them right before he got in the car to go to the airport. The funniest thing was when my landlady knocked on the door at 10am apologizing because her husband's underwear had fallen from her clothesline to ours! I let her walk through our bedroom to retrieve them herself.:-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bathroom rig gone awry

If you ask anyone here, we have two bathrooms in our apartment. If you ask one of us, we have one. That is because we have one Eastern toilet (a.k.a. "squatty potty"), and one Western toilet. We converted the room with the Eastern toilet into a utility room. The dryer is stacked on top of the washing machine, and the washing machine drains into the toilet... or hole in the ground... whichever term you prefer.You have to step over this "drain" to get behind the dryer. We have to do this quite regularly because we can only have 2 things plugged in at one time, and the washer, dryer, and water heater all share the same room. We also have to open a little window to stick the hose outside when we are using the dryer. All of this explanation is going somewhere, I promise!

On Sunday evening, I went to put the dryer hose through the window, and the hose came off. I had trouble re-attaching it, so David gave it a shot when he got home. Some time in there, we shuffled some things around and apparently stumbled a bit. The only reason I know this is that an hour or two later, I found water all over the floor! We ran a load of laundry through the washing machine with the hose pouring out onto the tile floor! Thankfully, there is a small step into the bathroom, so the water was contained. Also, the washing machine is propped up enough that it was fine. We just had to throw out about 10 rolls of toilet paper, and it gave me an excuse to "deep clean" the room. I just maybe would have preferred to do it at some time other than 8pm on Sunday!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mama's boy?

Not neccessarily, but Joshua definitely knows how to push my buttons already! He has been sick this week, so he has been more fussy and needy than usual. The past two nights, I have realized the effects of my week of pampering him. Joshua was playing happily at different times... until I walked into the room. As soon as he saw me, he would burst into tears. I think we could effectively call these tears his first temper tantrums. "How come I can see you but you are not picking me up?" he seems to say. Joshua could play happily with his Daddy in the room, but not Mommy! This week, I think we will work on playing independently again!

Rubber Duckie, you're the one!

Joshua has one little rubber duckie, and it must be his favorite toy. I can put him down with 15 other little things around him, but if the duck is there, he will find it, and he will not care about anything else! I have tried putting it in the bathtub with him, but there isn't quite enough space for him to really play with it. Maybe his favorite color is yellow; I don't know... I just know that he must have that duckie whenever he sees it! And when I say "must have," I mean:
  1. cram it as far into his mouth as possible
  2. pull it away to get a quick look at it
  3. perhaps rotate it around a little bit to view it from different angles
  4. repeat steps 1-3

Hey, where did you come from?

Yesterday, Joshua realized that he doesn't know how to walk. I guess he always just thought he was floating around from place to place. He would look at whomever was in front of him, but he practically refused to look at the person who was holding him. All of a sudden, Joshua acknowledges the person who is holding him, and he thinks it is hilarious! Plus, it is an up-close opportunity to grab hair, noses, and glasses!

Not your typical Saturday

There are three things that are strange about today. First of all, it is Saturday. That is not strange in and of itself, but just wait. It is Saturday, and it is not the weekend. I understand that there are different "holy days" in different cultures, but it cannot be a "week end" if the days off are not together and at the end of the week! It is also Mother's Day today. So, let's review. Mother's Day... on a Saturday... when kids are all in school and parents are working. I am not trying to be narrow-minded; it is just strange to me! Oh, well, Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, March 20, 2009

No salad!

One of the hardest things about being pregnant where we live is that you can't eat fruits or vegetables unless you wash them yourself. It was a big bummer since I love to eat like a rabbit! The reason is something called toxoplasmosis; it is carried by cats. It is not a big deal for children or adults, but it can be fatal for unborn babies. I recently thought about it as I looked outside at the garden in our backyard and watched a cat wandering through it. Last summer, I had to resist every time we were sitting with friends and our hostess placed a big bowl of cherries in front of us. We are entering a season of really yummy fresh fruit, and I am excited that I will be able to partake more easily!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Praises and Smiles

During the first two months of Joshua's life, he rarely slept, and he was rarely awake without screaming and crying. You easily induce from those two statements that he was often unhappy... and for many hours at a time. It was easy to get stressed out; we were frustrated and sad at the same time. We constantly had PraiseBaby music playing, and I think it was more for us than it was for him! We got some of the dvds, and Joshua enjoys them from time to time. I never thought that such a young baby would have any kind of attention span for a little video, but he really likes them.

This week, we have watched about one a day. Joshua has been sick, and he has been waking up an hour early every day. He is actually quite punctual! If the time had changed here, he would be waking up right on time! Alas, we have 9 days... and yes, I am counting... until the time changes! So that leaves me with a sick, tired, and fussy baby nearly every day. Usually Joshua only fusses when he is ready to sleep, so I think I am spoiled now! With the PraiseBaby dvds, he is content, and I am more relaxed with the sound of the music. I am not trying to advertise; I am just thankful for a "worshipful" television option tat has made my mornings more manageable over the past week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Food fun

The title might make you think this is about Joshua and his eating, but it is more about how fun I have making baby food.:-) I decided to make food for Joshua at home mainly because of how expensive it is to buy. (I think it is even more expensive to buy the jars here than it is in America.) I never intended to be rigid about this; if it starts to take too much time or interfere with other important things, I am fine with giving Joshua pre-made food. However, I thoroughly enjoy preparing food for him. I wish there were more options, but that will come as he grows! I use this wonderful thing that David found to puree the fruits and vegetables, and it is so fast and easy! Joshua continues to impress me with his preferences. Broccoli is hands down his favorite, and pears are perhaps second. He makes a face of disgust with every bite of potato, and he seems a little concerned about the consistency of bananas. I can see how it might get a bit more time-consuming as he likes to eat around 6 icecube-sized portions per meal! We started with three trays that I fill; but I just sent David out to buy six more! I have to go and puree some carrots now.:-)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sleepsack: for warmth and other things

Joshua has a couple of "sacks" for sleeping. We have put him in a fleece sleepsack almost every time he goes into his crib for several months now. A couple of times in the past week or two, I have let him sleep without it. I thought it was warm enough, but then he pulls off his socks while he is in his crib. Yesterday, it was so warm that he wasn't wearing socks. I laid him down for a nap in his pants an his onesie. When I got him up a while later, I nearly laughed out loud. Since he didn't have the hindrance of the sleepsack and he didn't have socks to grab, he decided to pull off his pants! David and I are still not sure how our uncoordinated little 5 1/2 month-old managed this feat!

The spiders came marching one by one

One thing that I have enjoyed about our apartment is the relatively small amount of bugs that we find. We see them from time to time, but coming from a poorly sealed house in Waco, anything is an improvement! For some reason, with the warmer weather, there have been lots of bugs inside. I thought that they would come in when the weather was cooler, but that doesn't seem to be the case! In the last couple of days, I have killed more spiders than I have seen in the last six months. Spiders don't bother me as much as those horrible Texas roaches, but I do sweep the room with my eyes extra carefully before putting Joshua on the floor to play!

Adjusting to a new season of life

This week a friend invited me to spend time with her. It was the end of a day when I had been out for awhile, and I was deep into straightening and cleaning our house. I knew it was not an ideal time, but I didn't want to turn down the opportunity. As soon as I hung up the phone, I started to realize all the reasons why it was much more than "not ideal," but it would simply not work. I wrestled with whether to just deal with it or call back and cancel. I found that my decision-making process looks entirely different now as a Mom. I wanted to go because it would be nice to see this friend, and it has always been difficult to connect with her. I was tired, but I could just rest later. The problem is that I don't just factor in myself any more, and I knew Joshua would be exhausted. Plus, I would need to feed him right after his nap, which was when they wanted to pick me up. The determining factor was the carseat situation. I had Joshua's carseat at home, but there is never a guarantee of functioning seatbelts in someone else's car. So, rather than "saving face" and sticking with my original "yes," I opted for my baby's safety and needs. It is often easy to sacrifice what I want, but it is a new realm when I am responsible for his well-being! (It is worth mentioning that most people here would not understand the carseat reason! They just hold children and babies of all ages in their laps or dangling from their hip on the motorcycle or in the car!)

Spring is in the air...

... or is it summer? On Monday, I was wearing long johns. Today, I wore a t-shirt, and Joshua sweated through his clothes for the first time. It seems like we went straight from winter to summer! I don't think it will last, but it has been nice to get out in the sun a little bit! I appreciate our concrete building the most during the transition from one extreme temperature to another because it stays moderate inside for several days. I must say that I will enjoy dressing Joshua in less layers!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Phrases we love

There are many things that seem silly or complicated in a second language. As we learn, I also find myself wishing that certain phrases had good English equivalents. For example, when you talk to someone who is sick or has been sick, you say "salaamtuk". This is a wonderful little phrase that is used all the time to wish peace or health to another person. You often say some form of it when you leave. Perhaps it would be like saying "go in peace" in English, except that feels much more natural to say it.

Another phrase we actually learned before we came is less polite. Maybe one would never say it, but it has always made us laugh. When translated, it means, "Go tile the ocean floor." It is fun to learn another launguage!

Mutated Bananas

On Monday night, right before I went to bed, I felt a little hungry. I thought a banana would be just the thing to get me through the night. I went to the kitchen, picked up the cluster of bananas, started to break one banana from the cluster... and realized this "cluster" was one really weird banana. I think it is three bananas that never completely separated. Maybe others have seen this before, but I never have, so I naturally assume that it is something that might have been tossed to the side at home before making it to the stores. It is still sitting on the kitchen table. I can't seem to make myself waste it, but nothing in me wants to eat it! Maybe I am overly particular, but it is just a little too weird!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pass the broccoli, please!

I just wanted to mention a few new things in Joshua's life this week. Last night, he had broccoli for the first time. This seems to be an unconventional vegetable to introduce so early. Since we don't have a lot of green options, and his Mommy loves broccoli, I decided to try it. I fully expected him to hate it at first, but I think it is his favorite of all of the new foods he has had over the past two weeks! He must get his taste buds from me and not David!

Also new this week... maybe Joshua thinks he is a bird learning how to fly instead of a person who should crawl. He seems fully content to live life on his back with the occasional rolling over. There is no apparent interest in moving from one place to the other, but he does flap his arms like crazy from time to time. I don't mean the awkward movement that comes and goes; I mean he really flaps them up and down! I guess he is expressing excitement or something!

Joshua has been very verbal over the past few days. I will hear him from a different room of the house, and I think he is crying out for some company. When I go to him, I realize he is just having a very animated conversation with the boy in the mirror or whatever else he can find!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wool is over his eyes

David often teases me about mixing up idiomatic phrases, hence the title. It will make more sense by the time you finish reading.

The last couple of days have been super cold here. It is funny to me that the coldest days are happening at the beginning of March, especially when I keep reading about how nice the weather is at home! Last night, we were really concerned about Joshua's warmth while he slept. We lost power at midnight, which is normal, but our house is in the 50s without it. My face was quite cold when I was bundled up in bed, so I knew Joshua's head must have been freezing.

Lesson #1: If your baby is sleeping well, and has been for several hours, then he is probably pretty comfortable.

We decided to dart into his room, put a hat on him really quickly, and then dart out.

Lesson #2: Don't mess with a sleeping baby!

You can probably see where this is going... Joshua screamed off and on for the next 45 minutes or so. I felt terrible for disturbing him, especially since the power came back shortly after he fell asleep again.

Today we put Joshua down for a nap shortly before the power came back on, so I put the same hat on him. About an hour into his nap, I heard him screaming. From time to time, he will wake up in the middle of his nap and then go back to sleep within 10 minutes. So I stood outside his door, ever the watchful mother, and listened for a minute. I have never heard that kind of cry before, so I rushed in to get him. He had pulled the wool hat down over his eyes. I snatched it off of his head and held him for awhile, and I was very thankful that he went right back to sleep. I think we will have to figure out another way to keep his head warm while he is sleeping!