Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween in Beirut, 2011

Since we are finally getting to know more people here in Beirut, and since we’ve pretty much settled into our apartment, we decided to throw a Halloween party this year. Our invitations went out very late, and it’s a busy time for most, but a nice group of people still came. Courtney made some really nice dishes: lamb curry and chicken curry with rice and mint-yogurt sauce, gravlax, a thai salad, a Turkish carrot and garlic dip; and I made quail eggs, vegetable dip, and Halloween punch with gummy worms and ice blocks the shape of a hand (very popular with the little ones). Courtney also made a lemon meringue pie and a black bottom pie, and people brought cookies, cakes and more sweets than we could ever eat. We had the sliding doors open with tables and chairs on the balcony - it was a perfect temperature outside – and the kids stayed at the playground until it closed. In general, a good first party in our new home!

Later today, the kids get to go on their very first real Trick or Treat. Obviously we never went out in Belgium (trick or treat’ing has just started picking up there over the past few years) or in Cairo. At the yearly Halloween party that the CAC organized in Cairo, the boys would walk through “Trick or Treat Lane” where high school kids would hand out candy to the kids from class room doors, but that is as close to trick or treat’ing as my kids have ever got. Today, AUB has announced an official Trick or Treat time, and the boys will walk around the campus houses (knocking on decorated doors only) wearing their Halloween costumes and bringing Trick or Treat bags.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Art morning

Finger paint: one of this homeschooling mother's least favorite crafting tools. But this boy loves it so, that sometimes I make myself go through the effort of cleaning up the post-fingerpaint disaster that always follows.

What do you think the chances are of our Middle Eastern finger paint being harmful if ingested? 50-50? I could tell from the face he made though when he got some in his mouth, that it doesn't taste good at all. So at least I know he will not be eating it on purpose.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Boys practicing Taekwondo kicks in the living room

How do you take pictures like this without them being blurry? I am still trying to figure it out.

This past week I broke down and got the boys a full set of Taekwondo equipment (pricey! but necessary) and they've been practicing punches and kicks ever since - mainly in the living room.

"What happens next?" you might ask. William is like a brick; doesn't move an inch!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Come October...

Since the move and since my mom got here, every moment of the day for the past few weeks have been filled with something: everything from intense school work and translation work, to treadmilling and enjoying a cooking show on television with my mom at the end of the day.

I think of life being pretty much the same regardless of where you live. No matter where your home is; exotic Singapore, healthy Edmunton, or the chaotic Middle East, your kids will still need clothed, fed, schooled, they’ll still get sick when you least need it, and you’ll still need to work to make a living (OK, at least most people), go grocery shopping, do the dishes, and laundry. I know this, because I myself have fallen asleep, exhausted after a hard week, on the couch on a Friday night in front of a movie in Sweden, Belgium, the US, Egypt and Lebanon. If we were to move to Asia or Australia, I’m pretty sure I would do the same thing there. I also know this, because when I talk to my friends around the world, through Facebook or by other means, they are all doing these things too. These are things that come with that which we call ‘life,’ regardless of where you live.

Of course there are slight variations in our everyday life: I can’t shop at ICA or Walmart so I get my food from a Saudi Arabian grocery store where the products are different, which has an impact on our everyday meals. I don’t think we would eat as much Middle Eastern food if we lived in Edmunton. And when I buy ham I chat with Hissam who asks me every time if I know of some Swedish girl who would like to marry him so that he could leave Lebanon. I’m not sure a grocer in Boston would ask me this. (Although he might ask me if I know any Swedish girls, come to think of it.)

Life is also slightly different because of the way we are compelled to do things, i.e. how you get your groceries and where you do your sports activities, but this, in my experience, doesn’t differ from country to country, but depends on where you live in relation to what you need. So even though we only moved a few blocks last month, our life has changed dramatically since then, and we have had to spend some time getting into new routines and find a new rhythm of life. This kind of thing takes time, but I feel like we are getting there. Let this blog post vouch for that.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October's little pleasures

Beach days...

My 10-year old son's birthday cake...
My new large kitchen with a view of the playground...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

While I was not blogging...

20 days is a long time – even for me - to not post anything, not even a photo. I’m sorry. Everything else took over for a while here.

The week before our move from our apartment in Hamra to AUB campus, I got a big job that I simply could not turn down. I worked continuously for several days, just keeping up with the bare necessities. When the work was finished, the move took over our lives entirely. Packing is hard work, and organizing everything surrounding a move (even if it’s just within the same city) will consume your life entirely for as long as it takes. When the movers finally carried the last of our things into our new apartment, after nine hours of transferring furniture, boxes, and everything else from our old apartment to our new, a few tears of exhaustion and relief rolled down my cheeks. I knew then that my work was only half-way done, as unpacking and organizing can be quite a challenge as well, but I felt the hard part was done.

We’ve lived in our new apartment for a week now, and most of our things have been sorted through and put away. (It’s easier to do all this when the kids are safe and happy, playing at the playground outside our window.) We’ve returned the keys to our old apartment to the owner, and purchased a few things for our new place. The professor has started the new semester classes, the boys have resumed their schoolwork and we are all slowly getting used to the luxuries our new home provide. We all feel it is as if we have moved to Paradise. We have a home phone! And proper internet, cable television, and did I mention, we live right next to the playground? We have a water dispenser here, and Nestle delivers water once a week for almost nothing. We don’t have to turn on the electricity for the water heater two hours in advance every time we want to take a shower or wash the dishes. Or rather, we don’t have to take cold showers, because honestly, remembering this kind of thing takes a lot of energy and planning, and with a toddler who can go from sparkling clean to a disaster in less than five seconds, it’s not always possible at all to plan ahead like that. Most of all, we’re not paying an arm and a leg in rent. In fact, I think we’re paying about a third of what we did at our old place, which means we have money left over for other, more pleasant things. We are honestly a bit shocked about how thoroughly screwed over we were last year. We all thought last year was hard; this family’s dark ages, and although we are all currently exhausted – mentally (both the professor and I forgot important meetings and commitments this week, and I almost forgot about my mother’s arrival yesterday) and physically (sore feet!) – from these past tumultuous moving weeks, we realize the potential the upcoming academic year holds.