Monday, September 27, 2010

Betsy's Geography Class

Hello to Ms. Betsy Kelley and her Geography class! Welcome to my blog!!

To all other readers, let me update you.

Who is Betsy Kelley? Ms. Kelley is a Geography teacher in Sheridan, Wyoming. This coming week Ms. Kelley will be teaching her students about the Middle East. As she did last year, Ms. Betsy will be asking her Geography class to tune into my blog. I will be excepting questions and comments from her students. Questions could be about my experiences abroad, the Middle East, Jordan, Islam, culture, or any topic of their choosing (and dependant on her assignment instructions).

For her students to ask questions or put comments. Please write your questions in the Reader Comment section on the right side of my blog or attach a comment to this blog entry. If you have comments about any of my blog entries, please feel free to attach them to the blog entry you are commenting on, or you can write them in the Reader Comment section on the right side of my blog!

Looking forward to hearing from all of you in Ms. Kelley's class!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let the "WHY's" and "NO's" Begin!

Last year, I described what my kids are currently doing that are funny, cute, annoying and lovable. I had a lot of favorable comments and responses from my family regarding this post, so I figured I would do it again.

Little Miss: Little Miss loves to sing and dance. Recently, she has developed some 'amazing' dance moves! They are really hideous, adorable, lovable, and funny. She completely gets into the music as she mixes hip hop and Middle Eastern (Belly Dancing) dance moves, with Taekwondo kicks and punches, gymnastics 'cartwheels', and slow expressive motion with short pauses. The best part about it is that she has no rhythm at all (which I will take complete responsibility for as I am not much of a dancer) and she absolutely gets into it! Her little face tells the story of interest as her body flings all over the place. She just cracks me up!

Little Boo: He has found his shadow. He doesn't always remember it is there, then he finds it, and he waves to his shadow. As if it is his friend. He loves it! He waves with his right hand and then with his left hand. With huge giggles as though it's the coolest thing he's done all day!

Little Miss: My little mother. Little Miss is becoming a little Mommy, she not only imitates my actions and words, but also my mothering. She loves to mother her little brother. She makes sure she is holding his hand when we are walking outside ("Omar, you need to hold my hand and stay by me"). She is reminds him to be careful and protects him. She explains to him why we do and why we don't do certain things ("BooBoo you will get an owie" or "BooBoo you will get in trouble" or "It's okay BooBoo"). She teaches him about colors, numbers, abc's, etc ("Momma, BooBoo is a baby and I have to teach him how to be big, Like Me!"). Sometimes she scolds him (using the same words as I would). It's really cute to watch her enjoy being a big sister, to be 'responsible', and to care for him.

LIttle Boo: He always wants his sister around. He goes through the house looking for her, "Aja, where you?!" , "Aja, what doin?" He loves to play with her, tease her, chase her, laugh and play games with her. She, in return, loves to play with him just the same.

Little Miss: I knew it would happen. I was expecting it. I was wondering when it would begin. I can now honestly say, that the 'why' questioning has officially begun. For those of you who have yet to have the privilege of parenting a young, exploring, curious mind, the 'why' questioning goes a little like this:

Daughter: "Momma, is the sun going down"
Mom: "Yes, honey, the sun is going down now."
Daughter: "Why Momma, does the sun go down"
Mom: "The sun goes down at the end of everyday."
Daughter: "Why?"
Mom: "Because the sun has to visit Grandma and Grandpa on the other side of the world"
Daughter: "Why?"
Mom: Because...."
Daughter: "Why?"
Mom/Daughter/Mom/Daughter...: "Because....", "Why?", "Because....", "Why", "Because....", "Why?, "why", "why", "why", "why", "why", "why", "why????????????!!!", "Because", "Because", "Because!!!"

To be completely fair and honest. I know this is a healthy trait of a young, curious mind trying to understand her world. A little girl who is asking the "Why" question because she enjoys conversing with her Mom and knows that the "Why" question continues conversation. However, as a Mother who is constantly answering the "Why" question and knowing that every Mothering statement will end with the "Why" question, it can definitely become challenging to answer with enthusiasm.

Little Boo: Boo, Boo, Boo. The love of my life. A constant challenge! Currently, we have begun "Time Out" with my little man. Yes, I make my 1.7 year old stand in the corner for 1.5 minute when he is naughty. This naughty behavior ranges from pulling his sisters hair, biting her, hitting her, throwing toys at her, doing all the same to me, and not listening to (or should I say challenging) me or his father and putting himself in danger (like trying to jump off the back of the couch-head first or insisting to play with the electrical switches and plugs), etc, etc, etc. What doesn't this boy do?! I ignore the bad behavior, reward the good behavior, and now, I punish the naughty behavior. ...Time Out. It has been working, to my surprise, quite well! He will always get time out for purposely hurting his sister, followed by my reason for timeout, followed by giving his sister and Mom a hug and kiss. When he is challenging me, I simply ask him if he wants to stand in the corner....he slowly, stops the behavior, puts his head down, pouts the lips and says, "No" and the naughty behavior usually stops! Rock!

Speaking of "NO." This month he began saying, "NO!" and pushes me or my hand out of his way, so he can continue doing what he wants...that isn't working so well for him...but he keeps trying!

Little Miss: Little Miss and I sleep in the same bed. As we are falling asleep she asks me to hold her or 'cubble (cuddle) with me please'. Sometimes she grabs my arm and wraps it around her body. Other times she wraps her arms around me and holds me. She sometimes rubs my arm or back as I am falling asleep. She is so sweet and so loving. I love sleeping next to her.

Little Boo: When Dad or Mommy come to pick the kids up from working all day. He sees us from across the room and bolts towards us with laughter, smiles, and giggles -his arms out wide as they can stretch as he nears us, then embraces us in a huge, lasting hug.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eid Mubarak (Happy Holiday)

Hello to all and Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers. Eid Mubarak is one of the expressions we use to wish each other a Happy Holiday. What holiday?- my nonMuslim friends may be asking. For those of you who haven't read my blog recently or don't know about Islam: Muslims are just completing our month of fasting (the Islamic Month of Ramadan). At the end of this month we will have a 3-4 day holiday called Eid Al-Fitr.

Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan. The holiday begins after a congregated morning prayer at the Mosque or conventional hall. Once the prayer is complete, the celebration begins and lasts between three to four days.

Visiting family entails most of the 3 day holiday. Visiting usually begins immediately after the morning prayer. To give you a clearer picture of what it means to visit family and friends, I will describe what I experienced last year...Prayer started around 700am and relatives started knocking on the door of my Mother-in-law (who we were living with at the time) around 800am and the visiting lasted well into the evening. One by one, group by group, the family members came by and visited. Some stayed 5-10 minutes and others stayed an hour or more. During their visit we drank tea or coffee, ate sweets, and wished each other a happy holiday. The following day, we drove to everyone's home, to home, to home. We visited with each family member over the next two days. Our visits lasted the same, either 5-10 minutes or an hour-depending on the relationship and how much time we had spent with the same family the previous day(s). The kids all ran around together, eating candy and getting money from the adults. It's an enjoyable time and it can be exhausting all the same (just as Christmas or another holiday you may relate to).

The nice thing about living in Jordan (a predominately Muslim country) is that we get four days off from work for Eid Al-Fitr. However, this year the holiday will fall on the beginning of the weekend, so the four days include 2 regular working days off and 2 days for the usual weekend. Either way, it will be nice to have the additional days away from work and home with family. My brother-in-law and his wife are expected to come in from Bahrain for the week, and we are looking forward to seeing them and spending time with them. Living in Bahrain has even better perks than Jordan-they get the 4 days off in addition to the weekend - so they will be with us the entire week, inshallah (God Willing).

People often ask if we exchange gifts or how else Eid is celebrated. Gifts are exchanged and new clothes are bought...mostly for the children. Special food and desserts are prepared as well. Over the past 1.5 weeks, the streets have been packed with parked cars, cars trying to get through the traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, and shoppers walking from store to store-all out shopping and preparing for Eid. Shopping for the gifts, new clothes, something special for the house, or special food they are planning to prepare. The houses, businesses and streets are decorated with lights. Special donations of food and money are given to the poor, as it is a requirement of Islam to give a monetary donation (not only on a yearly basis), but also before the Eid begins to ensure that all Muslims have food to eat and are taken care of by those blessed with more. Everyone is happy and excited for Eid and the blessings of Ramadan. Some are also sad to see the end of the month of fasting as it is an especially spiritual month and even though they can fast most any day of the year, nothing is as spiritual and special as Ramadan. No matter what religion you come from, you cannot deny the excitement in the air and the special time this is for Muslims around the world. Please, wish a Muslim a Happy Eid over the next few days and/or take the time to learn more about Islam for yourself during this time.

Hope everyone had a blessed Ramadan and a wishing every Muslims a Happy Eid Al-Fitr!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interesting Jobs in Jordan

I am sure there are many jobs around the world that are interesting, strange, unique. I am sure many people in the United States have jobs that some would consider interesting, strange and unique. In Jordan, we definitely have some jobs that I wouldn't call unique to Jordan -as I am sure that other places around the world hold similar jobs or did at one point in time; however, these jobs are interesting to me as they are not found in the United States.

-Street Cleaners. Men employed by the city are dressed in an orange uniform and supplied with a regular kitchen broom and a cardboard box. They walk the same designated streets every morning and afternoon, sweeping the garbage into the cardboard boxes. Men are also designated on the hillsides near the highways. Here they collect the trash, again into their cardboard boxes. In addition to the obvious, what always amazes me is they do not usually wear gloves....can someone please supply them with gloves!

-Street Painters. The side streets and curbs are painted by men with a paint bucket and a paint brush. Really, they paint the stripes on the road and keep the curbs looking fresh!

-Street Vendors.
--Farmers selling their produce on the side of the street.
--Men selling fresh coffee on the side of the freeway.
--Men and children selling trinkets, Kleenex, gum, and anything in between on the streets between the cars at stop lights.
--Men selling the morning newspaper on the side of the streets. They are standing at the stoplights to sell the paper to the morning traffic stopped at stop lights.

-Man Servants. Many businesses employee a man who is similar to a waiter/servant. Thirsty for coffee, tea, water or anything else your work may supply? the man and he will make the tea or coffee as you ordered and bring it to you, no tip. Some of these men will also run to the store to get lunch, by a pack of cigarettes, fill your car with gas, or anything you ask within reason. I suppose it's like a concierge services.

--Most apartments are supplied with a guard. I suppose it is similar to caretaker in the Condos in the US. They take care of keeping the apartment grounds clean. However, they are available to help with odds and ends that you may need. For instance, you can ask them to help bring in the groceries, or they will even go get the groceries for you. They will clean your car once or twice a week for 5JD (around $6.00) a month. They will also clean your apartment, wash your rugs, and other things that you need for a a small fee.
--All expensive homes. All government buildings. Many privately owned business. As well as other places have guards. These guards are like security guards. They stand outside making sure that those who are there - should be there. They are usually armed with a firearm. It's not unsafe here, I think it's a status thing more than anything.

-Maids. There are live in maid everywhere in Amman. They do everything for you for nearly nothing. They are paid around 200JD ($300) a month, to do all that you ask. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, caring for kids. It's interesting going to the park, because all the small children are being held and chased around by the maid...not the family members.

-Car Washers. I mentioned the guards are available to wash your car. How about when you go to out to dinner, a nice place sure, but even somewhere like KFC or Burger King. They hand-wash the cars one by one and ask for a small tip of gratitude. Also, as you drive down the streets of Amman, you will always see someone washing parked cars.

Strange, Interesting, Unique. The unfortunate truth is that here in Amman, there are many people who have no job opportunities except these.