Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teething Biscuit Police

We recently found teething biscuits here and thought we should let Joshua try them. He seemed pretty puzzled the first time I handed one to him. He looked at it, looked at me, and dropped it. After repeating this a couple of times, Joshua began to put the biscuit in his mouth. After a few attempts, he brokeoff more than half of the biscuit in his mouth. I literally had to pry his jaw apart to get it out. He was pretty mad. I now break the biscuit into little pieces and give them to him one by one. If I give him more than one at a time, he will not chew the pieces enough before trying to swallow them. I kind of think this is more work than it is worth! Who knew teething biscuits would be hazardous for teething infants?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A video game

I have been in the process of taking a plunge I never thought I would take here... driving. Sure, I drove in the States, everyone does... so you probably think it is weird that I have hardly driven at all in the year and several months that we have lived here. Well, ask anyone who has visited, and you will soon learn why.

Driving here feels like you are in a video game. It is like defensive driving in the States where you learn to anticipate what others are going to do... only there are no laws that would ideally govern what those others might do. I have now ventured out of our little tiny area just twice, and when I hit the highway, I have to fully expect the unimaginable. Cars and trucks driving straight at me against the flow of traffic, for example. When you encounter this, the one going the wrong way actually flashes their lights to tell you to move! People pulling out in front of me... I guess that happens everywhere, but usually the person pulling out receives a honk or two. Here it is just the way you drive. 5+ lanes of traffic where there are three painted lanes, motorcycles coming out of no where, traffic cops standing next to the one or two traffic lights to help people use them... the list goes on. Can you tell I am a rule-oriented person? It helps my sanity just to think it is a video game rather than real life.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beach Take 2!

Yesterday we headed to the beach. If I have my way, we will go every weekend! There is not a lot to do here, and I think I have mentioned how much our little guy loves to get out and do things. This time, we were more prepared for our outing. David and I were dressed to sit in the sand with Joshua. It helped him play a lot more, but he still wanted absolutely nothing to do with the water. I think the waves are scary to him. However, I got my first "mothering a boy" lesson as I plopped him in the sand in his little white outfit and let him eat it from time to time. David's theory was that Joshua would take a taste and realize that it was gross. He may have thought it was gross, but that didn't keep him from checking it from time to time to see if it had gotten any better! If you think that sand gets everywhere when you go to the beach, try wearing a diaper. I am not sure how the diaper got filled with sand, but Joshua's carseat, crib, and changing table were sandy at the end of the day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

An election is coming up, so throw away your chicken!

No, this is not a language blunder. We have had incredibly poor electricity this week. This often happens when the weather is extreme as people are using more, and the fuel source runs low. However, the temperature has been moderate this week, so we couldn't figure out why we had day after day of difficulty. We heard they were fixing something nearby, so they had to mess with the electrical system. After the 3rd day in a row, I really wanted to know what was broken and how long it would take to fix it! Finally, David found out that they are doing something to prepare for elections that will take place in a couple of weeks. I can only hope that they will not be messing with our electricity for the entire time! I will say that I am thankful this happened in May rather than July or August. We simply opened the windows and enjoyed a cool breeze. On Friday, I finally had to clean out our refrigerator as our milk was sour and reading 60 degrees. David pointed out that it is probably only the Westerners who are having a hard time with this. People here buy the long life dairy products, and they are used to going days without power at times. Maybe some day I will adjust... although I will never be able to stomach the long life milk!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm mad!!

So, here is a picture of Joshua when he is throwing a temper tantrum. I guess one would usually just include happy pictures of babies, but since so many loved ones haven't ever met him, I thought you should see all of his wonderful faces.:-) This is what Joshua does when he does not want to sit by himself. It looks like he is in pain, but if I pick him up, it is remarkable how quickly he stops crying!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First trip to the beach

Well, it seems summer hit us overnight. A couple of days ago, I was still wearing a fleece inside. The past couple of days have been in the 80s. The highlight of the weather change for me is that Joshua gets to wear cute summer things that he has never worn before, and we get to see his cute little legs and toes all day long.:-)

Yesterday we drove about 45 minutes so that Joshua could experience the beach. It isn't quite "ready" for the season; big vehicles were driving over the sand and it felt like a hiking experience to get to the water. I am sharing a picture so that you can see how he enjoyed it... or didn't! The water was definitely too cold for his taste, but we are working on it! (I tried to include a couple of pictures, but it was too hard for our internet connection.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting creative

I realize I have slacked in sharing Joshua stories lately. I will try to do better because he is the highlight of this blog! He has two teeth now, so there has not been much to share as he has just been teething over the past couple of weeks. I have learned that he really likes to "go, go, go!" He is easily bored at home, so I try to be proactive in planning outings. It is a bit tricky since we have one car and there are not a lot of places I can easily reach on foot. I am trying to maximize use of the balconies these days. Joshua loves being outside. He loves to hear the sounds and see the trucks and cars go by. Last week I took him out on the balcony with the intention that we would just sit together. It was a particularly fussy time, but he seemed very happy. I decided to see if he would play a little bit. I didn't want to rock the boat by going inside to get toys, so I improvised. He played very happily with his socks and a piece of the bag from my pretzels. (It made a very entertaining crinkly sound.) There's nothing like new "toys" to explore!

The haircut

...also known as "the mistake every foreigner makes!" I think I mentioned that I got my hair cut. I have had one other haircut since we moved here. It was in the heat of the summer last year when I was 6 months pregnant. One night, I felt so hot that I strongly considered just whacking my hair off myself! I exercised a little self control and waited until ten o'clock the next morning. I knew it was risky getting a short haircut in a language I hardly knew, but I felt it was worth the risk! However, I was very pleasantly surprised... it was inexpensive and I was happy with it! Since then, nearly a year ago, I have been growing out that short haircut. I went to my neighbor and told her that I just wanted a trim. I tried to explain a lot more than I did last year. I came away looking like a shaggy dog. The obnoxious bangs I have been growing so that I don't have hair in my face... well, she understood and didn't cut them, but there is a lot more hair that is that length now! Anyway, the good news is that it still goes into my standard ponytail, so no one has to know. The funniest part is that my friend, also a foreigner, said the same thing happened to her. She learned that if you ask for "layers," the word translates to them as "steps." This explains why I have a mushroom on top of my head and a long tail of hair behind me. Ok, maybe it isn't quite that bad, but I learned something new!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In a precious post, I told you about a nighttime visitor that we could only assume was a scorpion. After a couple of nights of checking every nook and cranny of the room before sleeping, we assumed it was gone. That was three weeks ago. This afternoon, I heard a noise that sounded like our neighbor was dumping water from her balcony. (This happens from time to time.) I went to check, but I couldn't see where the water was. I stopped as I walked past the wrapping paper we hid behind a door. (Classy, I know. Like everyone else in the world, I feel we have limited storage!) Anyway, what I originally thought was water outside sounded more like a bug fluttering in the wrapping paper. Can you tell where this is going?

I am not really a bug person. Actually, I get disgusted by things like roaches that can't even hurt me! So naturally, I called David. I didn't expect or want him to come home, I just needed some moral support. (At this point, as he said, it could easily have been a fly!) The power was out, so I couldn't see very well. I armed myself with a can of Raid and our trusty headlamp. Do you have a good picture of me? It only gets better. I carefully poked at a bag and then a roll of paper, knocking them over and waiting to see what happened. After the third or fourth attempt, I saw it. I shudder just to think of it! Again, I have to call David! I kept him on the phone until the ordeal was over. My biggest concern was that I couldn't shriek since Joshua was sleeping about 10 feet away. I darted into our room and put on the first shoes I could grab. Now I am sporting some dressy shoes with my sweatpants in addition to my headlamp... I ditched the can of Raid because apparently you have to squash scorpions to kill them.

I don't know if scorpions are normally slow, but I am thankful that this one didn't scurry around. I stomped and ground him into the carpet. Yes, I am going to have to scrub that later, but I wanted to make sure he was really, totally, and completely dead! I added elbow-length rubber gloves to my ensemble to get the scorpion off the floor using paper bags. Yes, I am a wimp...and I still haven't taken off my shoes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shoo Ismik?

"What's your name?" I find it funny how often people forget names here. It is somewhat surprising, but it is helpful for me to know that I don't have to feel guilty if I forget some of the difficult names I can hardly say correctly! Today I went to get my hair cut by our neighbor. I very intentionally said her name over and over after I met her recently, and I wrote it down when I got home because it is one of those difficult names. So I had to smile when she asked me at some point during my haircut, "Shoo ismik?" Some other friends of ours that we have known most of the time we have lived here forgot Joshua's name recently. As I write this, I think that perhaps it just goes two ways. Our names are strange and hard to remember for them, and theirs are for us. That is with the exception of the 3 names that are guaranteed to be in every family around here. David was with some friends, and they wanted to get someone's attention. One friend called out one of these names, and David thought he knew the guys. His friend said no, he didn't know them, but he knew one of them would respond to that name!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scenes from our day trip to the cedars

Today we went to the cedars. It was my "Mother's Day, Take 2!" since we already celebrated in March here. Lucky me! Anyway, we like to go to the cedars from time to time because you can hike around a lot more than anywhere else in this country. It is beautiful, green, and colder than where we live due to elevation. Sorry, these scenes are not pictures. From time to time, we notice something and think, "Huh... you would never see that at home!" I wanted to share a couple of these images with you.
  • Driving along, we approach a vehicle going pretty slowly. We come up beside it and realize it is behind the actual problem. The delay is caused by a man who is in a little orange car towing his plow. The plow was dangling from a string that seemed to be tied onto the trunk. The car behind the plow stopped to wait while the driver turned the plow upright again on its tires so that he could continue.
  • Still driving, we make a tight turn on the mountain. A couple of cars shot around the U-turns making swerves and putting on some kind of show. We were thankful that we weren't hit! Perhaps in some parts of our country at home you would see such a display, but not with an audience dressed in traditional clothing. They were still there 3 hours later when we headed home, but David knew to honk a lot as we approached them.
  • We stop to buy some snacks on the way home. We have eaten at this little spot before. It added at least an hour to our trip, and we were ate at a plastic table in the owner's backyard while he cooked the food. David picked a few things, and since the owner didn't have change, he had David select an extra bag of chips. (When we shop for groceries, our change is usually in chewing gum that you would rarely want to chew!)

New fascinations every day

Joshua is aware of new things all the time these days. It is fun to see his eyes widen and watch him crane his nexk to see things that look interesting to him. His most recent fascinations are his hairbrush and the kitchen counter. I brush his hair each night after his bath. I am not sure why; it's not like there are tangles! Anyway, he recently noticed the brush, so now he turns his head the whole time I am brushing because he wants to see this incredible toy! He puts the bristles in his mouth once each night and then remembers that it wasn't so great the first time. We bathe Joshua in a little tub in the kitchen sink. A couple of nights ago, he realized that there is a counter between his bather and the bathtub. When he sees it now, he grabs onto it and tries to pick up this big bath toy!
The book in the picture is one a friend from Houston sent. It is perfect for Joshua because it has little tags made out of ribbon along each edge, and he loves to chew on the tags on all of his toys.

Monday, May 4, 2009


It means "fifty" in Arabic, and it refers to a drastic change in weather some time during the spring. I am not sure if you would call it a front or a dust storm or something else, but there is heavy wind from the east blowing through that carries so much dust that the cars turn yellow and it looks foggy outside. The days have typically been in the 70s at a maximum, but today it was 85 degrees at 10 am! That is not so hot for May when you live in Texas, but it is a big difference from what we have been experiencing this spring! I dressed poor Joshua in fleece pants and we were quickly peeling them off during Arabic class. Our Arabic teacher said the name "Fifty" means that this time will occur some time during the fifty days of spring.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Just like that"

Can you imagine never using a dryer? Some people wash clothes by hand here, and some have machines, but no one really has dryers. I was spending time with our neighbor upstairs, and she has a new dryer. I commented on it, and she said, "Yes, it is like what you have! It is wonderful, I just wash the clothes and put them in there, and just like that, the laundry is finished!" Since she said that, I have tried to imagine how much longer it would take to not use a dryer... not to mention that your clean laundry would always smell like outside!