Saturday, August 6, 2011

Remembering Home

We had a wonderful trip home and have now been back 'home' for 1 week. Before we left, we collected all pictures to make one comprehensive memory of our trip. Each family member took time to write their favorite memories on card stock and placed them thoughout the photo album. It's a great memory of our trip. Here are the memories of our famil to share with my family back home...

Omar says "Momma, remember when..."

  • "Mr. Puffer Bill goes to Pumkin Ridge and then back again. His ears get so cold." (a bedtime story Grandma read to him every night about trains).

  • "The BIG MAN! He's HUGE!!" (Paul Bunyan Land)

  • "Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Laura, Auntie Sarah, Uncle Jason, Baby Grace. I love them all!"

  • "Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! They same BOOOOM, BOOOOM!"

  • "My green truck. I go so fast...hahaha!"

  • "Yeah, Sadie is with Grandma, Maggie is with Laura, Riley is with Sarah and Shiloh is with Jason" (the family dogs).

  • "Swimming, swimming, swimming. I go swimming again?!"

  • "Baby Grace, she is soooooo liiiiiitttttle! You have to be gentle."

  • "Grandpa's boat, Jason's red boat, and the green boat!"

Aisha says her favorties are...

  • "We were laughing soooooo really hard!" (When Mommy, Daddy and Omar went shopping and she stayed with Auntie Sarah, Baby Grace and Uncle Jason).

  • "Baby Grace is so cute!"

  • "Oooo La La Spa with Fancy Nancy" (Grandma Nancy's spa designed after Fancy Nancy books).

  • "Fishing....I caught a fish Momma!"

  • Riding on the boat, "Grandpa drives really fast! It's fun...hahaha!"

  • "Jimmy Johns" (her new found favorite food that we don't have in Jordan and keeps asking for).

  • "Going somewhere fun every day!"

  • "Grandma is soooo fun!"

  • "My Princess car. It's so pretty and I can drive it really good!"

For sure this is a short list and the kids continue to remember their times in Minnesota and tell me their "Remember when...."!

We had a wonderful time on vacation. Visiting family and friends is always great, but when you live so far away...the time is precious! Thank you to my parents, sisters, brother-in-law, family and friends for everything while we were home! Watching the kids play and grow with each of you was so much fun for Yanal and I as parents! We love you all!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Things To Appreciate...

Things To Appreciate in the USA...

Sound of trees blowing in the wind
Sounds of loons, birds, frogs, and everything else from nature
Public bathrooms...Clean public bathrooms
Litter free parks
Parks filled with trees, lakes/rives, and paved trails
Sales and Clearance areas in every store
Driving inside the lanes
Clean eggs
Clean, endless supply of water

Things to Appreciate in Jordan...
Dry heat
Lack of Mosquitos

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home part 1: Funny Things to Notice

Funny Things to Notice. Well, we are home. Back in the Good Old USA. Back in Minnesota. We arrived a few days ago and plan to stay for 5 weeks! We are so excited to spend time with family and friend, go to the cabin, do some shopping, hang out in the backyard, BBQ, ride the boat, etc, etc, etc! To put it simple, it feels great to be home!

After living in Amman for 2 years and being away from home for a year, there are a few things that I notice as 'funny' because they are things that would normally go un-noticed.

1. No dust. None on the furniture. None on the floors. None on the dashboard of the car. No dust to be found anywhere. Love it...and honestly...jealous.

2. Water in the toilet. Why is there so much of it?!

3. Green is everywhere I turn. Green trees. Green bushes. Green grass.

4. Space. So many wide open fields and yards to let the kids run freely.

5. Smiles. Smiles on family. Smiles on friends. Smiles from the cashiers at Cub Foods, Starbucks, the gas station, smiles from the people waiting in line. Smiles everywhere. Smiles give one such a warm, welcoming feel.

6. Carpet. What's that...soft squishy carpet under my bare feet?

7. Rain. Rain is falling every morning. The first rain was a shock..."It's raining in summer?!"...then I remembered..."Of course it is, it's Minnesota!"

8. English. Really, English is music to my ears. One gets so use to hearing the little understood language of Arabic, that one forgets how nice it is to understand everything you hear.

9. Lakes. Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and here we live in the "Brainerd Lakes Area". Need I say more?

10. Organization. Everything is structures and organized...just how I like it. Even flying over Minnesota, you can see the structure of farm land to be in organized squares of color, the streets are parallel with an occasional street cutting over in a 45 degree angle, and the homes follow the same.

11. Flat terrain. Driving in Jordan is sometimes like riding a roller coaster, because there are so many hills and mountains to drive up, down, and in between. Here, everything is flat.

It's great to be home, the kids are loving it, and we will be savoring every minute of it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Having a Baby in Jordan

Well, I am half-way through my 3rd pregnancy!! Today is 20 weeks and counting! We found out last week, Inshallah, in October, we will be having a baby boy!! What has my thoughts pre-occupied these days is deliverying a baby so far from the US healthcare system I am so familiar with.

As a Registered Nurse in the US, I had always heard of and sometimes witnessed the fear of immigrants recieving healthcare in the US. In nursing school, we learned a great deal about how American minorities were sceptical of equal care and immigrants were scared of different ideations on cultural norms presented in the delivery of care. As a lady married to an immigrant, whose non-English speaking Mother-on-law would come stay with us for months at a time, and someone who simply believes in all people...I always did my best to provide the best care to the non-English speaking patients, the immigrants, and the minorities.

Now, the table has turned. I am the immigrant. I am the minority. I am the non-Arabic speaking patient. I am seeking care for the delivery of my 3rd baby, here, in Jordan, a forgein country, a place I currently call home.

Fear you ask? I always feel fear of the unknowns of delivery. Fear of the cultural norms that are un-normal for me...fear, may not be the right word...yet I am nervous.

Intreged you ask? Definately. I am interested on a learning level of what the cultural norms actually are.

Surprised you ask? On many levels, yes. Yet, honestly, I feel farily certain they are similar norms to the US when lets say, my Mother labored her 3 children....30 years ago.

What have you learned so far, you ask? Here is a short list of the differences of labor and delivery in Jordan (generally speaking)...

1-Husbands are not allowed in the room during active labor.

2-You begin in a pre-delivery room where many women are in the same room, you then shift to privately deliver your baby, then to return to a post-delivery area for recovery in a room shared by many women.

3-Delivery by C-Section is done under General Anesthesia, not Spinal Anesthesia.

4-Just as baby is born, Mom is given an injection to 'put her to sleep' until after the placenta is delivered.

5-You do not meet your baby for a few hours...Mom is recovering, baby is bathing and being examined.

6-Baby does not 'room in' with Mom...Baby stays in a nursery and Mom relaxes.

7-You must pay the entire hospital bill before you are discharged...the day of discharge, the hospital keeps baby until you show proof of payment, then you recieve your baby.

8-Cost of deliverying a baby is anywhere from $150-$4500...depending on hospital, normal birth vs c-section, epidural, private room, days spent in the hospital.


What makes me nervous, you ask....
+Being in a room full of other women
+Not having my husband with me
+Other cultural norms that come up that I am not aware of prior.

What will I request to be different from the norms, you ask...
+Not holding/meeting baby immediately after delivery.

+Being put to sleep after delivery (WHAT is that all about?!)
+General anesthesia for Section (WHAT?!...Spinal is safer!)

What am I okay with as long as I know about ahead of time, you ask....
+Paying prior to leaving (this is required of all clinic, lab, hospital visit in Jordan)
+Baby does not 'room-in' with Mom (as long as I have to option to keep baby with me most of the time)

What are the positives, you ask?
+All Physicians and most Registered Nurses speak English well.
+Jordan has the best healthcare in the Middle East
+I really, really like my OB/GYN!!

I will start touring hospitals next week! I will let you know what I find out!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2+1+1+1 = 5 !!

It's official! Inshallah (God Willing) - We are expecting baby number three the middle of October, 2011!

Monday, March 28, 2011



My two sisters and I have a total of 4 years between my opinion, this is perfect! I always knew I wanted my kids to be close to each other in age. This way they can play together at an early age, go through school together, share friends, share interests, and go through lifes changes and challenges together. Inshallah (God Willing) they will attend high school graduation within a couple years of each other, followed by college, college graduation, weddings, marriage, pregnancy, and raising their own babies!

I became pregnant with Omar the same month Aisha turned 1 years old; therefore, Aisha was 21 months old when Omar was born. I will admit to anyone that the first year was not easy. Having two, essentially, babies is a challenge. Two in diapers, two waking up in the middle of the night, two needing bottles/frequent feedings, spoon feeding two hungry little mouths, bathing two slippery bodies at the same time, ensuring independant quality time with one while the other is sleeping...juggling two babies was challenging.

Then...babies grow. The grow into toddlers who are able to feed themselves, tell me their needs, walk independantly, help me around the house. They become friends who run and play with each other. Who talk to each other. Who fight with each other ("I want Barney!" "But, I want Dora!"). Who make deals with each other ("I'm first and your next. Okay?" "Okay.") Who love each other ("I love you, Boo-Boo" "No.....I love YOOOOOOOU!")

No doubt, we decided to have our kids close in age, so that at this age they can have a play-mate, a friend, a sibling to go through life with!

Here are some recent pictures we wanted to share with everyone of our wonderful kids playing together! Alhumdillah (Thank God) for such wonderful, healthy children!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Long Live Egypt!

About an hour after the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down to the demands of the Egyptian people, we could hear the people of Jordan chanting out of the cars as they drove down the streets of Amman, "Long Live Egypt, Long Live Egypt, LONG LIVE EGYPT!" Cars filled with people, clapping, dancing, honking their horns as they celebrated the news they have been waiting for during the 3 weeks of protesting. Jordan, for those unfamiliar, is a country filled with Immigrants from the neighboring Arab countries. I was unable to find the actual number of Egyptians living here in Amman; however, you find Egyptians on every street in Amman. Those celebrating tonight are not only Egyptian, but also Jordanians. My father-in-law, a Jordanian, admitted to shedding a few tears of joy when he heard the news of victory. The news broadcasters found groups of people proudly celebrating throughout Amman tonight. We saw and heard fireworks being launched into the air. The sounds of victory! The sound of freedom!

What does all this mean for Jordan? We are uncertain what it means, if anything. The news speculates that Jordan could be next; however, those of us living here don't feel this to be true. That being said, there have been some demonstrations around Jordan. The demonstrations two weeks were held because people were unhappy with the Prime Minister and the inflation of prices. Around ten days ago His Majesty, King Abdullah, let go his Ministers including the Prime Minister. The process usually it takes only a couple of days to replace the Ministers; however, this time King Abdullah took his time to ensure selecting Ministers that will accurately represent the Jordanian people...and limit the demonstrations in Jordan. The people who hold government positions, recently received an increase in pay, in an attempt to make up for the recent inflation. One can not say for sure what the future of Jordan is, yet we are hopeful that things remain calm and proactive.

Victory today in Egypt! History in the making! A day to celebrate! A day for Democracy! We don't know exactly what the future holds for the Egyptian people, but we pray for democracy and for a better future for the Egyptians.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sociology and Empathy

Hello to everyone. I recently watched this great presentation on Sociology and Empathy. When I was in college and studying in the University, I always LOVED Sociology classes. I know they were a heavy part of my study, even though my degree is Nursing. I always have been able to understand people and understand the 'other' point of view better than most. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the courses I've taken, or this ability has led me to enjoy these classes.

I remember one class in particular. We learned all semester about countries and their culture around the world. Our last class was about a country and culture that seemed so strange, as many did. The conclusion was that the chapter was actually written about the USA (our home) and all its 'strange culture' it has from an outsiders point of view. It reminded me/taught me that what we precieve to be completely normal may not be so completely normal to the person across the room, across the country, across the world-we become accustom to our customs and it is difficult to see them as anything other than normal. Many times we also see other customs to be so different that we see them as wrong, and this is many times not the case-many times they are just that, different.

I have had friends from all walks of life, literally, all walks of life: The very rich and the desperately poor. Those from incredibly successful families and those whose homes broken from drug and other substance abuse. I have hung out with people from all corners of the city (this side of the bridge and that side of the bridge). I have really good friends who are from all around the world: USA, Jordan, Malaysia, Canada, West Bank/Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Nicaragua, Mexico, Philippines, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Bolivia, England, Switzerland, Holland, Australia, and more. I have good friends who are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and those who don't believe at all . I love them all and have learned from them all. -Thank you all of you!

When I saw the below video, I thought it was worth sharing. In life, I always hope that people can understand each other at a human level, so that we can get past and see past the political agendas. I find this video gives a human touch to the other side of each story that many of us have heard, but have not tried to understand. I hope you take the time to watch, listen, and think about your reactions as you watch and listen. I hope that no one finds it offensive. Rather I hope it brings everyone a bit closer to empathizing with and understanding the 'other' side of the story, what ever side of the story you originally come from.

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Life. Isn't life interesting?! You are born into a loving family and follow along with the rules, not knowing they are being made up as they go. We are young, and we think our parents are experts who know exactly what they are doing. We love them for everything they are doing. Then we become teenagers and rebel. Rebel against every rule they impose and every thought of what they tell us to be. We think they just don't get me. Then on to our college and early marriage years. We become friends. We learn to understand that they are human. We are able to discuss different thoughts and yet see the similarities. We are now parents ourselves. We think to ourselves - How wonderful they were. How much they sacrificed for me. How difficult I was. How much they taught me. How great they are.

As you know, I live about 7,000 miles from home. I am raising two small people, ages 3 1/2 and nearly 2 years of age. Living so far, gives me a unique experience. An unique perspecitve. An unique thought about parenting. I don't live the same life as I did; therefore, my children are living a different life from my own up bringing. I grew up amongst the lakes, plains, and forests of Minnesota. They are growing up amongst the desert sands and mountains of Jordan. I am surrounded by a different culture, with a different thought of child raising norms. I struggle with the differences at times and at others I embrace the new ideas.

I don't know if I would do so much if I were near, but I am far, and I often find myself thinking: What would my parents have done? How did they make their point clear of what is expected of us? How did my parents handle such a situation? What did they do to raise three young girls, who are sucessful and respectful young women of today? And how can I be more like my parents? I am trying to be creative in my children's learning experience. To give them similar memories to those that I have.

My Dad was always the one who influenced and pushed my thoughts. To 'think outside of the box', he used to tell me. He use to also teach me about the natural world - the trees, the weather, and the world that surrounds us. I have fond memories of walking through the woods with him as he would teach me about the different types of trees, cloud patterns, northern lights, calls of the birds, shrubs, bushes, and flowers in the forest. Until this day I love the natural world more than the city.

Amman, for those who don't know, has little nature. The nature is there, but you have to really search for it. My husband, as I, so much enjoy the nature, the trees, and the earth - so we search to find the nature that is hidden amongst the stone and concrete of Amman. We walk the olive groves, spend time at his Dad's farm, walk underneath the pine and oak trees with our children. I spend time teaching my little people about the pine cones and acorns-how they are food for the squirrels and are seeds to be watered to spout as new trees. We teach them about listening quietly, to hear the birds sing to each other and watch as they bounce in flight above the trees. Teaching them about the clouds, the sun, the moon, the rain, the snow, and the natural world to the limit a 3 year old can understand. I love watching them learn!

My Mother is also an inspiration. She was always patient - or at least appeared to be. She never really yelled or lost her temper. I have fond memories of her crafty ideas. She not only had crafts to keep us busy and out of trouble, but she also sat down and did the projects with us. She taught us how to sew, cross stitch, paper machet, paint, stencil. We made ghosts for Halloween, Santa for Christmas, treasure hunts for birthdays, sewed stuffed animals for the fun of making something, and made dresses for the new school year. She always welcomed us in the kitchen and taught us how to bake and cook as her Mom taught her.

I now spend time with my kids making simple art projects and crafts. My daughter and I enjoy going to the 'bookstore' as they call them in Jordan, which are where one goes to get markers, paints, colored paper, etc. and I ask my Mom to send the Grandkids fun crafty gifts or learning gifts from the USA....(because those who know, there are not many in Jordan and if you find them you will definately pay extra for them!) Both my kids love to cook and bake with Mommy...and they love to tell Daddy that they helped Mommy make the dinner!

I hope to live up to the parenting of my parents. To raise good, intellegent, thoughtful, respectful children. To carry on with those special times I had with my parents to my children. To give my children what I had, and to also let them have what my husband had. I hope to shape these little people into two adults who can take the best from both worlds and make the world their own.

As I watched my two little people riding on the back of a donkey in my Father-in-laws farm the other day - the beautiful, rocky, brown mountains were the background and the glow from the setting sun warmed the setting - I thought to myself how completely different the life is for them here in Jordan than it was for me in Brainerd, MN -but it isn't a bad different, it is okay and it was so beautiful as they giggled and laughed on the back of the donkey. I want them to be happy, to enjoy life, and to learn from the world around us. I also want to ensure I am giving them what I had, what I learned, a part of me, and a part of my parents!

I love you Mom and Dad for everything you taught me and for everything you sacrificed for me and my sisters! We are looking forward to this summer when we can ride on the boat, warm ourselves by the evening campfire, run in the grass barefoot, and watch the birds sing in your backyard! We love and We miss you!