Saturday, September 29, 2012

Celebrating fall in Beirut

A lot of my friends are posting beautiful fall pictures online, with descriptions of crisp morning frost on trees bursting with color, and brisk morning walks that make your cheeks red. They light candles in the evenings and enjoy a hot drink in front of the fireplace on Sunday mornings. Fall; what a romantic time!

I still sleep with the A/C on, and the orange tree outside our balcony is a very deep, dark green, with oranges that are starting to turn light yellow. There are flowers in bloom everywhere, the sea is still warm and the sun still bright enough that we have that constant smell off sunblock lingering in the house.

Still, this morning, I’m having hot cocoa with my ham sandwich (OK, it’s smoked turkey since Spinney’s in Jnah doesn’t sell ham in the deli, but we still call it ham) to mark the season, and later today, I will make an apple pie out of those amazing Syrian apples I bought at the market. I might even start working on the boys’ Halloween costumes.

 Just because we live right next to the Mediterranean doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate fall, right? It is after all the last day of September here too! And you can drink hot cocoa even though you are not wearing a wool sweater and stockings, but a thick layer of sunblock, right?

Knock on wood!

The focus of this past week was – not blogging, that’s for sure! Ha, ha! – getting the boys’ schooling going properly. We have now added all subjects and are running a full curriculum five days/week, full days. Math, English, and French in the morning, Science or history, Latin and Music in the afternoon, Logic and Art or Taekwondo practice in the evenings. It’s working! I mean, we have a working schedule, and the boys are studying, learning, thinking, reading, writing and creating.

Even Abraham - my energetic three-year old - has a schedule: a number in the morning, a letter in the afternoon, and art in the evening. He also likes to listen to the science lessons, and he never wants to miss his two Magic Schoolbus episodes/day (for when I need that special one-on-one time with the older boys).

When I say it’s working, I mean it’s all more-or-less working: Prof. Husband is managing his job well, we have food in the fridge, dinner on the table in the evenings, a clean kitchen by the time we go to bed, and clean clothes (that still need to be folded and put away though – I didn’t say I was super-mom!). I even managed to squeeze in a few hours of work this week without hurting anyone. Ha, huh?

OK, the house is a bit of a disaster at the end of the week, but nothing a little weekend cleaning can’t manage.

Knock on wood!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let's talk about the weather

“What is the weather like?” 

When talking to or chatting with any of my Swedish family or friends, this question is guaranteed to come up within the first few minutes of conversation. I have never met a people so obsessed with the weather. When it’s sunny and warm, Swedes are very crafty in ways to cherish it, and when it’s not, which seems to be most of the time, they find ways to enjoy other people’s hot weather vicariously. “It’s raining here, 7°C, yes, but tell me more about your warm evenings on the balcony!”

So, for all of you interested in the Lebanese weather situation: it has cooled down a bit in the last couple of weeks – we’re below 30°C now! – but it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beach, the kids never wear anything but t-shirts and shorts, and we’re still using the A/C in our bedrooms at night. We had a couple of cloudy days last week, which – along with all the millions of recipes and craft ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest lately - acted as a small reminder that summer really is over, and that fall is here: my second favorite season of the year!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Busy, busy week!

After the Pope left Beirut safely, the demonstrations against that movie moved elsewhere, and I finished my work, the boys and I took my mother around Beirut to show her some of the sites. Then Prof. Husband arrived from the US, bringing most of our school books that I promptly had to sort through. He also brought a huge batch of clothes, new and old, that needed washed, and then it was time for my mother to go home and August to resettle into his room, so we spent the last couple of days this week sorting all these things out. I also attended a book club meeting involving some great needed socializing, and today we did a big grocery shopping at a new store in Hazmieh (Not bad at all! Great pork selection, and spacey. I can't believe I forgot to buy bacon though!). 

I have some work to do before the weekend is over and usually I prefer to do it sooner rather than later, but right now I’m thinking I might save it for tomorrow, and just spend the rest of the evening relaxing. 

I’m beat! Go figure.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holy Pope, Batman!

You might have heard that the Pope is visiting Beirut this weekend. I am excited and a little worried. Why would the Pope come here at this time, with everything that is going on? It's not exactly safe here. I understand the symbolism of it all; faith, trust and peace, and I admire his purpose and effort very much (seems he never considered cancelling his visit), but someone just set fire to a KFC restaurant in Tripoli, and Syria is just a couple of bus stops down the road. Not the safest place at the moment.

A lot of streets are blocked off, which means other streets are completely jammed, and the city is both more calm and more chaotic at the same time.

Yesterday when we were returning from our shopping, we got stopped at an intersection by some very serious looking military. Military in the street, or anywhere really, is a normal sight here, but the traffic military – or whatever they are – usually joke with the bikers or drivers and are more laid back. These men meant business. One of them was using a walkie talkie, and we were sitting there at a red light that turned green and then red, and then green again, but he was still not letting us go. Then we saw it: a huge convoy approaching from our right at a very high speed. Four military vans and two black official looking cars with dark windows. As they blew past us, almost on two wheels through the curve, I noticed a little golden yellow and white flag. His holiness. Welcome in Lebanon. May God watch over you and keep you safe.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Taking a day

While waiting for the server problems to be resolved at work, I’m taking a day to lay in bed and try to recover from this throat infection I have. It’s a weird, dry kind, with accompanying fever. 

It has been a long time since I was sick, and I’m not very good at it. Fatigue and inactivity drives me nuts, and now with the work server down, I can’t even translate or edit in bed. 

I'm doing a bad job with the kids’ school work too, unable to continuously urge them to work, since my throat hurts when I try to speak. The youngest boy has luckily spent most of the day on a play date, and didn’t have to hang around with a sick, boring mama.

Hoping for a new day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I’m having one of those moments I imagine other people perpetually experience when I hear them say that they are stressed or under pressure. I very rarely feel stressed and I can’t say I’m really ever under pressure, at least not in a stressful way. But right now I’m having a bit of a stressful twinkling, because just now, seconds ago, all the work that I did today – all the translations that I have been entering into an online database since this early morning until late evening – just suddenly disappeared, right in front of my eyes. Gone. In a moment of panic, I closed the database and logged back in. The translations are still missing.

It’s the lack of control that gets me, I think. I did nothing to cause this, and I can do nothing to fix it. A moment while I feel stressed! (And contact the database administrator to see if he can fix this.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's that time of the year - the quiet before the storm

Prof. Husband left for the US a couple of days ago. He is presenting a paper at some North American Kant Society event in Tulsa, OK, and is stopping by his parents on the way. It’s a long trip to their house in Nowhere, IN. From Beirut, you first have to fly to a European city with connecting flights to Chicago, then take a bus to get out of Chicago, and then get picked up/drive the rest of the way. From door-to-door it usually takes about 28 hours. Yeah, that’s right. But at least this time he didn’t have to travel with kids, which makes it easier, I imagine. He said the trip went well, in any case, and now he’ll get a little time with family and struggle to fit everything I ordered into his suitcases (who would have thought that a grammar book could weigh 5Lbs?!) do some light shopping before continuing to the conference.

In the meantime, my mother is still here visiting, and several of my friends’ husbands are also off traveling before the semester begins, so tonight the ladies will get together for some food, a chat, and to relax in this quiet-before-the-storm intermission. Like a ladies launcheon. Ha ha. Get it? Launching the upcoming year. Ladies luncheon. He.

Slow school start... Bah.

Sigh. I always feel like this at the end of the school first week: like we got NOTHING done at all. All these grand lesson plans and syllabi, and five days – F.I.V.E. DAYS! – into the school year, we have barely managed to get started. Why is it always so difficult to get back into it?

Someone asked me, “But why do you take a long break like that? You don’t have to, and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have the problem of having to get back into a school routine again.” But I do – I do have to. I need that break, and I need the change of rhythm. I need to be able to just work for a while, without having to juggle school work at the same time, and I need to do something completely different, like travel, spend time at the beach, read books just for fun, organize the house, sort and refuel in other possible ways. So no, I will not give up that long break.

Perhaps instead of stressing out about all this though, I will turn this school start into what a friend and fellow homeschooler called “stagger.” I will re-strategize and allow us to start a little at a time. Then it would be totally OK if we only got going on our math, English and French programs this week, right? Next week we’ll add additional subjects (all the boys' sports activities start back up as well next week), and the week after that, all the rest of our work (by then we’ll have all our material, so that works out). Eventually we’ll be in full roll, all the same - but without the stress. Good?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do I win some kind of "Most Boring" price...?

I’m here. I spent *all weekend* working. Yes, that's it. And it wasn't even interesting work. Just normal... work. 

Now, on Sunday evening, as I sit down to catch up with the outside world via my computer, I’m having one of those “The grass is always greener on Facebook/Twitter/[insert your preferred social networking site here]” kind of moments. It seems everyone had the most amazing weekend, with beautiful nature hikes, exciting travels, partying, concerts, weddings and other special celebrations. My social channels are filled with tons of fantastic pictures and status updates to admire, moments to envy, and glorious experiences to read about. Wow.

All this while I… just worked. Sigh.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ready for another academic year!

I’m alive and well, thank you. No hospital visits or IV’s recently. No illnesses or accidents.

Because of the delay I talked about here though, and since my mother arrived for a longer visit last week, AND it turns out the other schools here don’t start until 3 September, I decided to postpone our school start until after this weekend. Good decision. Without too much effort, I’ve spent this extra week writing out our curriculum, syllabi, ordered books and other material, caught up on work, organizing the house, stocking up on food, spending some time with friends, and getting the kids  ready to start working again.

The only thing we haven’t managed is better our sleeping. We still go to bed late and sleep late. I know I need to wake the boys up earlier, but since they go to bed so late, I end up staying up really late to get that special time for myself after bedtime, and then I’m too tired to wake up early in the morning. It’s a vicious cycle that I need to break.

Oh, right, and we’re still waiting for our books to arrive. We're going to have to start with what we have though, since the books will not be here until 18 September.

But other than that, I think we’re ready.