Friday, November 30, 2007

Does this make me a bad mom? The oddities of schooling in Jordan...

So, I can't decide if my reluctance to get worked up over homework in KG2 makes me a bad mom. Now, let's take a little stroll down memory lane, shall we? When I was a kid, we spent first grade learning our letters, second grade learning to write, and third grade adding in cursive. Kindergarten was not only elective, but fairly unusual. Mostly only kids like me (with a single parent who worked) went to daycare at a place with a KG. In the US, from what I gather, the kids Butterbean's age (KG2 or just plain Kindergarten in the US) are being evaluated on whether they know their letters. That's all. They're not supposed to be able to write them, just know them. So, I find it hard to get worked up over the fact that Butterbean isn't racing ahead at this. Writing English letters is hard. And, honestly, a big part of me wonders if writing is like potty training. You can spend one week when they're ready (say at age 3) or 1 year when they're not (say at age 2). Somehow I sense this may be like that. Butterbean doesn't have super-developed muscles. But, from my perspective, she's doing just fine.

The second beef I have is that they use the British system. Now, not to seem insular, but... c'mon. It starts with the paper they are using. Now, when I was a kid, we learned to write on paper that looked like this:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Fairly simple, right? The capital letters go from the top line to the bottom line. The small letters either start or "bump" at the small line. Letters like p and g (that go below the line) go below the line. Nothing complicated here to me. So, imagine my confusion when I got a note from Butterbean's teacher saying to write "between the lines". We did. Okay, they were different lines, but that's not my fault, right? Let me demonstrate for you. Her paper looks like this:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Allow me to say, hunh? So, reading the cryptic note and being confused, I asked the teacher about it. I said, well, we did write between the lines (meaning the heavy lines). Apparently they need a CHART to explain exactly how you are supposed to write the letters. Perhaps this system is just a bit too complex, you think? So, I asked why and the answer I got was, we use the Nelson system. Ahhh. And? So what? Sorry to be skeptical, but, I don't get it. So, I thought and thought, and thought. Finally I got it. They want you to use the second dotted line as if it were the solid bottom line in my example. Goofy, but okay. So, here's my real issue with this. When they start writing on big people paper, there are only 2 solid lines. And the ps and gs will go below that line. So, this system seems to be more confusing than helpful. But, that's just me. I'm also bucking the system by having her write words with American spelling (so take that!) since we tend to use fewer letters (as in my example aeroplane vs airplane).

So, all that said, if they have to use this goofy system, wouldn't it be better to have the paper designed as such:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So that both lines that will eventually go away are hashed rather than solid? Seems to me that would make more logical sense. You could make the top line of a set heavier to denote a new set...

Okay, so enough about handwriting. I started this post because I spent a whole weekend day without doing even a shred of homework. We played, we did an art project (creating paper Christmas trees with Lil Kinz one of which is now hanging proudly in the kids' room), watched videos and such. Somehow doing homework just didn't jump into my mind. So, does that make me a bad Mom (all of the homework is handwriting by the way, she knows all of her letters and numbers in English and Arabic, she can read simple words in both languages, it's just the handwriting thing)? I'm just wondering what you guys think?

Happy lackadaisical parenting!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who's Ready to Decorate Some Cookies?!!!

Alright, it's that time of year again... cookie-making time. The Bean pad is prepped for the season and I think it's time for us to come together and make cookies. I know that in the past we've stuck to the lady-bloggers, but this time we may open it up! So, I'm calling all of the lady-bloggers to keep me honest. If you don't get an e-mail this week from me (and you have my e-mail), send me a note. Otherwise, drop a note to Kinzi or Khalidah as both definitely have my addy. Oh, and Moey and Dave, if you're interested, we might make an exception for you guys. So, drop a note to one of the above or comment and I'll give you one of my many e-mail addys to use.

Happy decor!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Behold the Art of the Beans. Such talent!

So, this last week, the Beans and I have been busily doing little art projects for fun and to give ButterBean some more practice drawing, writing, and cutting with scissors (which her teachers say she needs, but I'll say more about that another day). So, I figured I'd share with you the fruits of our labor...
These were inspired when JujuBean spied a lovely pink rose (the last of the season) still hanging onto one of our rose bushes. She asked for it, and as I was clipping it, EVERY SINGLE PETAL FELL OFF! I mean, every one. So, amidst poor JujuBeans tears, I thought, why not take them inside and use them for an art project. We then snipped off the last of the red roses as well (its petals clung tenaciously). The girl in the photo is my creation, inspired by the lovely roses.

The top figure in this picture is ButterBean's creation, a cheerleader (note the tiny pompoms) with a flower in her hair. The bottom two are flowers that I made for the girl beans for their help and letting me use their scissors.

Happy artistic expression!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Moments That Crystalize...

I was watching TV tonight and saw a scene that triggered such a forceful memory, I had to put my thoughts down. When ButterBean was a year and half old, I got pregnant with the twins. Like many second time Moms, I found myself a bit distracted and ambivalent about the coming babies. I had no time to spend doing all of those first time Mom things like playing music and reading to the bump. As a result, I thought I had very little emotional attachment to these little beings. The inconvenience of the pregnancy and the tiredness and such really gave me so little time to enjoy the coming babies. And, so I went into the 8th month unsure of my feelings and still ambivalent about their coming. And then it happened...

During a trip out, I went to the ladies room and found a spot of blood. I immediately left the store and went straight to the Doctor's office. The store was maybe 5 minutes from his office, but the whole time, I was terrified that the babies wouldn't be okay. In the moment that I saw that spot, my love for these tiny people crystallized into a bold reality. It was as if the world had stopped, shifted slightly, and begun to spin on a slightly different axis. It seems that there are those moments that remain forever with you. A slight similarity, a sound, a smell brings them back to you as if they had happened only the day before. I give thanks today (our Thanksgiving celebration day) for these moments, the ones that remind us of what we have and help clarify our priorities and feelings. It seems to me today, life is made up of snapshots of everyday life interwoven with these moments of crystal clarity.

Happy moments!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Angel Tree, any Jordanian equivalent?

Okay, I was raised with the concept of the Angel Tree and since we've been here, I'm missing it. This is an appeal to anyone who might know of such a thing in Jordan. For those who aren't familiar, let me describe the concept so you maybe know if someone has an equivalent.

The Angel Tree is a program organized by Prison Ministries. Nowadays, it has it's own organization If you check out the history, you'll see it was founded in Alabama, thus the reason I've been doing it for years. The Angel Tree program arranges for Christmas presents to be delivered to families with one or both parents in prison. In most cases, this equates to a family living in poverty as well. Started in 1982, the program has people purchase items for a child whose parents are in prison. I always went to the tree and looked and looked for someone about my age. I then went with my Mom and bought a gift (toy or other type item) and a set of clothes out of what my Mom was planning to spend on me for Christmas. It was sort of like taking two gifts for me and turning them into one gift for me and one for someone else. It taught me that many people don't have the blessings that I do. It was so hard as a child to imagine children who don't have anything under the tree.

Well, in Jordan, there are many, many people who are living in poverty. I am certain many, many of them are Christian and, in this blessed season, it seems there ought to be a program for them. Does anyone know if any of the churches have something like this? In the US, the tree is typically put up by churches. (It's called an angel tree, because a Christmas tree is put up and Angel ornaments are hung on it with the child's first name, age, and gifts they would like). I'd love to be able to share this tradition with the beans. I was put in mind of it because ButterBean's school sent home a note asking for food, winter clothing, and a toy for a child. but, somehow it just isn't the same as being able to choose a specific child and picking out items for them. I'd like the beans to do what I did, search the tree to find someone their age and with their interests (that's what I've done each year since the beans were born). I'd like them to begin to understand the responsibility that goes with the blessings God provides.

Anyone have any thoughts? If not, maybe next year I'll bring an Angel Tree to Jordan. Not necessarily for kids with parents in prison, but just for those who otherwise won't have a Christmas.

Happy Angels!

Better, Worse, the Same: Thoughts on American Fast Food Chains and how the stack up

So, I grabbed some KFC today after shopping with the beans and thoughts that I'd like to investigate this interesting dichotomy where some fast food places are better and others worse than their original counterpart. So, here goes...
  1. Pizza Hut: Better. By far. I'm not a huge fan of Pizza hut in the US, but PH in Jordan is fabulous. Their Margherita (cheese pizza for those in the US) uses better cheeses and is just plain better. To me, there's no comparison, Jordan has got this one right!

  2. KFC: A wash (Equal). I don't really understand this one. Their fried chicken just isn't fried right. It comes out either not done enough or overdone and completely lacks the crispiness that fried chicken needs. And their fries, well... Oh, and no self-respecting fried chicken place in the US would serve hamburger buns as rolls/biscuits and not have mashed potatoes. On the positives side, their chicken is always ready (in the US I've had to wait up to 10 minutes more than once) and their service is friendly and competent.

  3. Subway: A wash. I think that the service at Subway here is slow (often both physically and mentally). The food seems to turn out basically the same, but some of the ingredients are local and less than fabulous (pickles, anyone?). All in all, I do like that they have the same sandwiches that taste the same.

  4. Popeye's: Better. Or maybe it's just that the competition is worse? In the US, I won't eat Popeye's. That's true for several reasons. First is that the gravy on their mashed potatoes has some sort of hot Louisiana thing in it (I'm SO not a hot and spicy girl). The second is that their chicken is typically mediocre at best. But, in Jordan, they fry the chicken properly (crispy, warm, dripping, just the way chicken should be) and they serve mashed potatoes. Add to that the lovely biscuits they have and this one of my favorite fast food places in Jordan.

  5. McDonald's: A wash. The hamburgers are not great, but the fries are awesome. IMHO they have the best french fries in town. The shakes are not so great, but all in all, it's a wash to me. It's about the same level of okay food you'd get in the US.

  6. Hardee's: I grew up with Hardee's and this is not Hardee's. I can't think of a single American chain that would put nacho cheese on a hamburger, what is THAT about?! And, their roast beef, rather then being sliced so thin it's almost see through, seems like they sliced it with a dull knife. On the plus side, the chicken stars for kids are cute and the beans enjoy them. They also have indoor Playlands, so I can't really rail against them. All in all, worse, but with some nice features.
After my visit to the US, there's one chain I'm missing terribly... Arby's. Arby's with it's roast beef sandwiches, mozzarella sticks, Jamocha shakes.
Now I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. And, best of all, they have these things called market fresh sandwiches

Signing off with visions of Arby's in my mind and lackluster KFC in my belly.

Happy fast fooding!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another First: My First Rainbow in Jordan!

How exciting is this! After the rain stopped, I looked up from my desk and lo and behold, there was a rainbow! Fortunately, having my much self-admired cell phone handy, I snapped some quick pics to share the joy with everyone. My office mate commented on how she always feels happy and hopeful when she sees a rainbow. Maybe the day after election is an appropriate time for such hope. Perhaps there's a message in the fact that yesterday was beautiful and sunny and today brought a rainbow. In fact, I'm sure there IS a message in it and most likely that message is something about giving thanks for each of the blessings God provides. So, while I'm sitting here I'll do just that. Signing off now with prayers of thanksgiving (the day before Thanksgiving in the US, no less)...

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Exercising My Public Duty: A Day of Firsts...

So, today El 3atal, Teta, Jiddo, and AuntieBean all went and exercised our public duty by voting in the Parliamentary elections. of course, this calls for both reflection and comparison. The nice? thing about living in many different places in the US is that I've experienced a number of different types of polling places and processes which provides some interesting fodder for comparison with Jordan's system. I have to say it was an interesting experience, which I rather enjoyed.
General Observations
  1. Voting in Jordan is not just about selecting your next government. The ladies dress up and it's something of a social occasion. Friends are greeted warmly and well wishes are exchanged.

  2. The elections process is in desperate need of process improvement much like most processes in the country.

  3. It did not take as long, nor was it as annoying as I expected.

  4. Government schools are not as run down as I had feared (now the day-glo green and hot pink color combination isn't one I would have chosen, but...)
Specific comparisons
In the US, I voted in three different states. It was always interesting the widely variant differences that presented. Now, adding Jordan gives another dimension. So, here are the types of polling places I've experienced:
This polling booth was designed to resemble the old ones where you go in and write a name. Nowadays, you go in, pull a lever which closes the curtain and are presented with a panel of candidates. You touch the screen to light up the names you wish and then pull the lever again to record your vote and reopen the curtain. This was the system for my first voting experience way back in 1989 or so.
My second polling place had an old, old, old machine. Of the 2000 election hanging chad variety. In fact, it was called a butterfly machine as I recall because it has these weird little metal things you pulled across to note your vote. It also has all of the candidates in the middle a half-step off each other. In the election I used it (long before 2000), it caused lots of issues as you had to flip that paper over to vote for additional candidates and if you weren't careful it could mess up your vote on the first side. It was a mess.

The most recent election I voted in the US in was on a computerized system. Being honest I didn't like it as much as the first system. Here's a snapshot of it:

So, as you can see, the polling process in the US varies widely by state, county, city, etc. However, some things are common across the US (at least everywhere that I lived).
  1. No campaigning is allowed within something like 100 feet of a polling place (so no hordes of people trying to push their candidate on you. There aren't even any signs or paraphernalia allowed.
  2. Each voter is assigned a specific polling location, meaning one exact place you go to vote. This is assigned as part of the voter registration process.
  3. Lines at polling places tend to be long only during the identity checking and list verification process.

Now, in Jordan, by contrast, campaigning is allowed right up to the outside gate of the polling place. We had candidates' flock of young men and women handing us cards and leaflets (okay I really mean dumping them in our car) and such immediately outside the door. And, we joked (given the sparsity of parking) that a smart candidate would offer valet parking to his supporters.

In addition, you may go anywhere in the district to vote. That covers alot of area and I find quite fascinating. They had a computer set up to check that you were allowed to vote there. They took my ID, checked it, and sent me over to another table. I got my ballot there and provided my ID again. I took the ballot and went and hand-wrote the name of the candidate I had chosen (no I won't be telling you which one it is, teehee, but it wasn't Bill the Cat). Then I went out and slipped my ballot into the box (thus explaining the mystery that the room was called the Box for Ladies). To note that I had voted, the pressed a star into my ID and then cut off the corner (don't ask me, that one's a mystery to me too!). That was the whole process. The election workers were polite (several even spoke to me in English) and nice. All in all it was a pleasant experience. No better or worse than any election I've taken part in in the US. The waits are about as long and the process is abysmal, but, again it wasn't so bad that it made the wait untenable.

Happy voting!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An impressive misspelling

So, El 3atal and I were looking for a new bed for JuniorBean and came across this establishment. I have to admit it is the most impressive misspelling I believe I have ever seen. It is so bad as to render the name without meaning :).

Okay, so let's start with Cidar. If it were cider, it would be a beverage served hot typically in the winter (like apple cider). But somehow I don't think that's what they mean. I'm guessing maybe it's cedar? But, my favorite is the Decortion. Decortion? It sounds like a new, up-and-coming type of circus act. Imagine with me, gone are the days of the contortion artist, we have a decortion artist. Come one, come all. See our new act! So, welcome to Cidar Decortion. Where we take hot beverages and bend them so out of shape they are unrecognizable...
By the way, the owners of this fine (albeit misspelled) establishment seemed quite befuddled about why I was taking a picture of their shop, teehee.
Happy decortion!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My First Crush... I Got Tagged.

So I weaved, bobbed, hid, and STILL Kinzi got me with this one :). So, I will happily tell you about my first crush, with one caveat. You all have to promise not to tell El 3atal. I've never told him about this, teehee. My first crush ever started in the first grade. It was on a very cute little boy named Erin. He was blond with freckles and a cowlick in the front. You know, he's sorta a male me... How funny is that? He was so cute and the crush was rather mutual. Until the fateful day. That awful day that my Mom decided I'd look good with a Dorothy Hamil haircut.

The haircut definitely negatively impacted my life. Now, you have to understand I was going from hair down to my waist or so to this... It was quite a shock to the system. And, I lost the object of my mostly mutual affection :(. Of course, it had to be so. Otherwise, I wouldn't have met El 3atal many years later. And, he is SO much better a match for me. So, sorry Erin, but it wasn't meant to be.

Happy crushes!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All Just a Matter of Perspective...

Today as we were on the way to school, we were just behind a motorcycle policeman. Now, motorcycles aren't all that common here, so we don't see many of them. Butterbean noticed the motorcycle and mentioned it. All of the kids got involved in talking about it when JujuBean said, "it looks like a car." Bad Mommy moment alert... I thought, is there something wrong with her vision or comprehension? The I decided the best approach was simply to ask her. "How is it like a car, sweetie?" "Well, it has two mirrors that stick out." Now THAT is an excellent point. And, so, of course I agreed that in that respect the motor cycle is very much like a car. The conversation in the car moved on to ways that it is different. And, while the point wasn't belabored, I learned a lesson about making assumptions... I'm glad I asked before saying, motorcycles aren't like cars, honey. It's certainly what I was thinking.

Happy visioning!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cultural Insensitivity goes both ways...

So, I am not necessarily the most aware person when it comes to cultural sensitivity. With no malice intended, I will do things I don't realize are insensitive to my Muslim acquaintances. I try to learn from each one and ensure it doesn't occur again. But, I thought I'd point out that cultural insensitivity is a universal issue.

My lawyer has this very interesting paperweight/lighter. The first time I saw it, I thought, surely I'm mistaken. He doesn't really have a paperweight like that.
Then I realized that it was a lighter and was truly appalled.

So as you can see, insensitivity runs rife in all human endeavors. It can even be intentional (as I'm sure that it was with the creator of this little gem.

Happy cultural flash fires!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm sorry, but enough is enough...

Now, since I've been back from my journey to the Western World, I haven't been sleeping well. I've had maybe 2 full nights' sleep in the week I've been back. And, while that's annoying, I'm actually more annoyd about another topic today. First let me say that I find the Call to Prayer a unique and charming part of the experience of Jordan. From my first visit, I found that it felt like nowhere else in the world between the call to prayer and the trucks driving around with gas and their odd tinkling music.

But there is too much of a good thing. So, someone please tell me, what is the deal with the music and speeches BEFORE the call to prayer these days? I don't really mind them during the day, although they seem to be creating a culture of noise pollution with so much sound so much of the day. But, at 4 in the morning, I don't want to hear music and speeches with a break and THEN the call to prayer. Cone on. Invariably, the initial music and stuff wakes one of the beans and just as I get them settled back down and cozy under the covers, the call to prayer starts. In the US, we have an expression, if someone's serving you something and you've had enough, you say when (thus the admonition, Just say when). Well, here we are and I'm saying it, WHEN! No really, WHEN! Please... let's go back to the charming and meaningful sounds of the call to prayer without extra additional songs speeched and whatnot. A request from all of the beans.

Happy Late Wakings!

In Case of Emergency, keep on going, no help here!

El 3atal and I walked by this lovely fire hydrant several days in a row.

We were so impressed with the fine attention to detail. As you'll note, they've put concrete around the hydrant so well that it is impossible to use it for anything (except to trip innocent bypassers). If I were HSBC, I'd be hoping there wasn't a fire...

Happy roasting!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So, I have chosen a candidate in both the Jordanian and US elections...

Those of you who are the average age of the bloggers in the blogosphere will probably be unfamiliar with my candidate. In fact, those who missed the 80s in the US will also likely miss the reference. For that, I apologize. But, in light of Dave's post, my mind ran back to the early days of MTV. They put forth a candidate that seems to be exactly what the world needs right now... Bill the Cat.

Now, some of the benefits of Bill as a candidate (for more information on him, visit his Wikipedia page at include a lack of ridiculous gabbling (Ackkkk and thppht being the entire sum of his vocabulary) and his ability to identify with the average man (yes, he's had a challenge with alcoholic beverages, drugs, nuns, and died once and been cloned). Indeed, Bill is your everyman. So, perhaps it's time to revive his candidacy, last seen in the 88 elections. My vote is a vote for Bill the Cat, both in the US and in Jordan :).

Happy Bloom County!

Reinventing Motherhood? A Must-read for all Moms...

While in the US, I found that I was captivated by book titles (who says you can't judge a book by it's cover, anyway?). When I saw the book entitled I Was a Really Good Mom before I had kids, I had to buy it. Boy am I glad I did! It's funny the motherhood wars that go on. You've never seen as divisive an issue as choices in child rearing.
This book is a fun, light-hearted look at being the kind of mother you are rather than the kind you think you should be... It is interspersed with quizzes to get you to admit the reality of your life (and accept, maybe embrace it). Quiz No. 1 sets the tone for the book. Here are some excerpts...
Check all that apply.

- You secretly wish you had your own apartment.
- If you have to play Go Fish again, you will definitely poke your eyeballs out.
- You feel guilty that you like to go to work so much.
- You consider a trip to the dentist your special "alone time".
- Plus many, many more.

Are you getting into the spirit yet? This is really my kind of book. Each Chapter is a humorous look at the pressure we place on ourselves as mothers. The authors even interviewed 100 moms and provide some of their answers. Sample Chapter titles are:

I Love Being a Mom, I Just hate Doing It (Aligning Your Expectations with Reality)
Am I a Bad Mom if I don't Buy Organic SpaghettiOs? (Lose the Judgment)
Oh My God, I Don't Want to Color Right Now (Live in the Moment)

One really nice thing is that quotes from their interviewees as so normal, down to earth, I could have said them (at least some of them, not the one about wearing a Depends because I don't have time to stop and go pee, but...).

I'm going to recommend this book to my best friend in the US who has a one year old as I think she puts too much pressure on herself to be a perfect Mom. As most of us do, she looks around at others and says, Wow that looks easy. But, she forgets that she doesn't see us when we're sooo sleep deprived that we're shouting at the kids, or when we decide that chicken nuggets 4 meals in a row will just have to be good enough. We had a long talk about breastfeeding (something I did to a year with all 3 of the beans, including pumping while I worked for the TwinBeans). She saw us when the TwinBeans were about 6 months old and it looked SO easy. And, she never asked. Once her littlebean came, she felt like less of a Mom because it wasn't easy and she was so ill post-delivery that she couldn't nurse. I was glad to be able to reassure her that feeding her baby formula was NOT going to harm him for life. She was still a great Mom. Oh, and the times she didn't see with the beans were the first 6-8 weeks of life where I had to nurse them every 2 hours and then pump immediately after. Where I set a deadline for JuniorBean that if he didn't get it by X weekend, he was going to be my only formula-fed baby (apparently he just need me to be firm, still does I suppose).

And that's what we do to ourselves as Moms. We look at the Bree Van De Camps of the world and think, well if they can do this, so can I. We seem to fail to realize that we probably CAN, but perhaps SHOULD not. Personally, I am not gifted with kids. Don't get me wrong, I love them and enjoy them. But, I can't spend all day playing Little People and Barbie. In this respect my attention span (just like a 2 year old) is about 15 minutes. I understand that about myself and am okay with it. I have other gifts and am thankful that we can find people who do have this gift to help us. So, I wanted to share this book with all you Moms out there. If anyone wants to borrow mine, just drop me a line :).

Happy Fake Cupcakes!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Reflections on Coming Home...

Well, the beans and I are officially back in the fair city of Amman. Let me first say, what gorgeous weather. The US had turned cold and icky and it is refreshing to come back to evening temperatures being like the highs in the US. We had a generally very positive set of flights back with smooth skies and very good beans. So, now that we're home, I have to give thanks for a few thinks (reflections on coming home).

Our last few days with MemeBean were the best we had while there. Although I think we stayed a little too long for our comfort and I got sick, it was still wonderful. One of the reasons is that MemeBean arranged for a couple of things that we would be missing out on.

Halloween: I have to admit that Halloween has always been one of my favorite times. I love trick-or-treating. I loved it so much in college that I had MemeBean make outlandish costumes (I was once a Tyrannosaurus Rex) and went t-ot-t'ing on faculty row. At our school, faculty row is two blocks long and, at the time, was mostly older professors and their wives. They got few t-or-t'ers. One of the ladies was the wife of a professor who had died some years before. I found out that she was terribly lonely and wanted kids, but none lived on the street. It's actually what got me started. Every year, we'd go to her house and she's invite us in for homemade Jack-o-lantern cookies and candy goodies. None of the mini bars and nonsense for her. She gave full size candy bars to everyone who would come by. She also always served spiced apple cider. Too fun and so nice to visit with her for awhile.

Since we were in transit on Halloween, MemeBean arranged for us to go trick-or-treating with some of PoppaBean's friends the night before. It hearkened back to my college days, honestly. We went to his 3 best friend's houses and went in and sat down and got treats. Butterbean was a beautiful Princess Aurora (the Sleeping Beauty for those not in the know), JujuBean was Snow White and JuniorBean was a unicorn. It wasn't quite the same experience as going door to door for hours until your little legs give out, but was wonderful.

Thanksgiving: That's right, the US may celebrate Thanskgiving in November, but I had Thanksgiving dinner last weekend. MemeBean arranged for several family members (including UncleBean and BrotherBean) to come over and cooked the whole spread. All of the food was so lovely. But, as with every Thanksgiving, the best part was being with loved ones and enjoying company and fun. We had all of the traditional foods (turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and relish, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, stuffing and dressing). It was just what I look for Thanksgiving to me and has me started thinking about Thanksgiving here this year. Maybe the Beans can convince the Konouz to come and do the tradition up right this year?

MemeBean didn't arrange for Christmas, but given the number of items that appeared both before we arrived and while we there, it might as well have been Christmas. So, maybe the actual Christmas this year will be a tad small under the tree (I can only hope). I got most of our Christmas shopping for the beans done and am very glad of that!

The other super-fun thing we did was go to a local Science Center for kids ( It is rather in the spirit of the Children's museum here. However, I have to honestly say that Jordan's new Children's Center makes this one look like child's play, teehee, pun intended. It highlighted how absolutely world-class the museum here is. While the one we went to had some really great features for younger kids like the beans, the Children's Museum here has more of everything for all ages. It made me proud to know that we have something so great here and even more determined to talk El 3atal into the annual membership :). Since winter's coming, it should be the ideal time to spend fun days inside.

Okay, so now, I must turn from reflections to unpacking. We missed you Amman... we're glad to be home!

Happy homecoming!