Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Worst Sentence Ever Published?

While waiting to board my outbound flight last week, I was looking through one of the various magazines in the waiting lounge. In it, I read what is, in my humble opinion, the worst structured sentence ever published. In fact, I'm not wholly convinced it IS a sentence. After all, what I learned in English class is that there are three requirements for a sentence. They are:
  1. It must have a subject.
  2. It must have a verb.
  3. It must express a complete thought.

I will also say that I wish Microsoft Word had a clue about this :). I often get it trying to correct my perfectly valid sentences because it is rather unintelligent. At any rate, here is the sentence that I consider to be the worst one I have ever read in a publication.

"World domination, luxuriously from this single storefront, the Jimmy Choo brand has, in a little over a decade, grown to epic proportions, thanks in large part to Tamara's presence at the helm."

My English teacher had a term for people who write like this: comma happy. Her rule of thumb was when in doubt, leave it out. I have to agree. The ironic thing is that the article was very interesting, but I got lost in this sentence and didn't get to finish it. But, I mean, that really is a bad sentence.

It has a subject (I think, but can someone point out what it is?) and a verb (grown). But as for expressing a complete thought, it's actually more like an amalgamation of thoughts. The first two "world domination" and "luxuriously from this single storefront (what?!)" seem to have absolutely no relevance to the main sentence. The rest of the sentence would be fine minus at least one of the commas. And this, my friends, is the dark side of MommaBean. I can't read an article, blog post, e-mail, or personal letter without this type of conversation occurring in my head. When I'm reading a novel with a typo or grammatical error, if a pen is handy, I go ahead and correct it. That's right, I'm a compulsive copy-editor. Bet you didn't even know there WAS such a thing, teehee. And, now, back to work.

Happy rewriting!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Queen Latifah Airport!!

So, today , coming in from Abu Dhabi, I had a funny experience. Just after we landed the flight attendant came on an welcomed us to the Queen Latifah airport. Yes, that's right, Queen Latifah. Female Rapper. Star of Beauty Parlor and Last Holiday, and such movies. Apparnetly the QAIA has been renamed while I was gone. I didn't think I was gone THAT long!

I was flying business class. When we got here, I waited and waited and waited, then waited some more on the bags. Finally, after the ENTIRE rest of the plane had gotten their bags, the "Priority" bags came out. That's right, those of us flying business got off the plane very quickly to it and wait on luggage. How silly is that? At any rate, it's SOOOOO good to be home. It's nice to go away, so that I love Jordan even more on my return home.

Happy travels!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hidden Talents, can you believe I found these in actual magazines!

Okay, so while I lack (totally might I add) any ability to draw, paint, or otherwise render objects that look like themselves, mini talent in stick-figures notwithstanding, I do enjoy some creative pursuits. These are talents that I've typically kept fairly well hidden. And, I haven't engaged in them nearly as much since I became a Mom (thanks Beans!). But, I thought I'd share with you some of the most interesting quotes I've clipped from magazines. To set the stage, in college, I would take all of the magazines I received and clip quotes, letters, pictures, anything that struck my fancy really, to be used for "art projects". I made bulletin boards for my dorm, notes for my friends, and covered objects for daily use.

Now for those of you who heard clipping and magazines and immediately went into stalkerville, I'm dropping some photos of things I did. The first, my lap desk, I made in college. I received many requests to make similar ones for friends with their own personalities stamped on them in the choice of quotes and pictures. The next two are soap dispensers that I made once I learned about this magic invention called Mod Podge, which goes on like glue and dries clear and impenetrable to water.

I decided that, rather than continuing to hide my creative abilities under a bushel, I'd bring them right out in front. And, maybe in the near future I'll open a shop selling personalized household items and fancy decorated cakes... teehee. This came to mind because the Beans and Lil Kinz each made their own personalized soap dispenser as today's "art project". Once they dry solid and hard, I'll try and post pictures, but I may forget...

And, now, for the most unique quotes I managed to clip from run of the mill fashion publications...

  1. At first Helen thought it was the shades and pineapple shirt. Then she realized that Herman had shaved his moustache.
  2. For me, a woman is always as mysterious and unfathomable as a stegosaurus, or as seductively alluring as a siren.
  3. make like a turtle (but not a slug)
  4. People always ask me, were you funny as a child? And, well, no, I was an accountant.
  5. Oddball icons of an impish image master
  6. No dunkin'. No dough. Just nuts
  7. Excuse me sire, do you always talk with your foot in your mouth?
  8. a recluse with a Macintosh
  9. After You! We Insist!
  10. Family fetish
  11. I would like to be very polished, beautiful, with no rough edges. But I delude myself. I'm a failed escapist.
  12. and the golden doodle goes to...
  13. petal pusher
  14. Amy Writing Awards
  15. A fat lot of good that did
  16. They Stooped to Conquer
  17. If the shoe fits
  18. You really are an old softie
  19. The secrets of my mother's dresser
  20. We're taught to rewrite male hostility as a tribute to our charms.

I hope you enjoyed the MommaBean equivalent to "And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street."

Happy light hiding!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thoughts on the difference between photographers here and in the US

Okay, so here's a truly amazing thing about Jordan, the pictures for the Fashion Show we were in on Tuesday were ready on Wednesday. This happened at my wedding as well. We got married on a Friday and the pictures were ready for out of town guests to review by Saturday. We DID have to wait until Sunday for the video though. Teehee. As if waiting two days after the wedding for the video to be ready is a hardship...

The funny thing is that the photographer for this event was the videographer for my wedding. Way back in the dark ages (almost 12 years ago), this guy was nearly unknown and worked from his house. After my wedding, my MIL sang his praises and told everyone about him. As a result, he became the most popular guy in town. While his quality has always been top-notch, he just wasn't well-known. Now he has a fancy studio in a nice part of town and has given up the dining room table for better digs. His quality is still top-notch (and we used him just two years ago for 3ammoBean's wedding) and his timeliness is only slightly slower (his video took 2 days).

And now for my bias, I think the photographer from my wedding was better than this guy. Admittedly, he's old now (came out of retirement for 3ammoBean's wedding), but his son is still doing it. But, as MIL explained, he doesn't make a CD and put the pictures on computer for people to review. They have to look at the printed pictures. He is also really out of the way for everyone except us (he's near Butterbean's school and close to our office). But still, I think he's technically better at getting great shots than these guys. And yet, one of the pics of Butterbean was about the most lovely thing I've ever seen.

Happy mugshots!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's in a number? The number 100

Thinking about numbers today...

100 Years Ago Today
  1. 14% of American households had a bathtub.
  2. 90% of US physicians had no college education.
  3. The American flag had 45 stars.

100 Days Ago Today

Fouad was imprisoned without charges... he's still waiting.

Happy numerology!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Worst names ever? Who'd do that to a kid?

So, the creators of have published a list of Bad Baby Names featuring their selections of the worst names ever chosen for children. Among the potential choices are Fanny Large and Wanna Towell. ( see the article here In the spirit of this, I'm listing the goofiest what-were-they-thinking names I've come across, and I've known some. Please feel free to vote on the worst one...
  1. Ivy Herb
  2. Cherry Redd
  3. Pepper Roney
  4. Merry Christmas
  5. Misty Bridges
  6. Xan Y. Ziegler

So what crazy,goofy, silly names have you come across?

Happy naming conventions!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Things that make me think of home...

And, by home here, I mean the home I grew up in, Alabama. Thanks, Batoul, for putting this in my mind. For those of you who have lived in one place all of your lives, you may find it a bit hard to relate. For a frame of reference, I grew up in 2 cities in AL, then moved to a 3rd for college. After graduating college, El 3atal and I moved to 4 different states and in the final state two different cities. I've traveled a good bit outside the US. And, I've found that there are just those things that bring home visibly, forcefully, and often reminiscently to mind. So, I thought I'd blog about them. Let' see how many I've got...

  1. John Denver's music. It's a bit ironic since he doesn't sing about Alabama at all, but... there it is. His a little bit folksy, a little bit country, kickin' sound makes me think of home. In particular, Country Roads (radio reminds me of my home far away, driving down the road I get the feelin' that I shoulda been home yesterday). Once in Sweden after a long hard, very foreign feeling trip, some Swedes on a train started singing Rocky Mountain High. talk about tearing up...
  2. The smell of honeysuckle. You find it alot here in Jordan, but it takes me back to summer evenings spent chasing fireflies (lightning bugs for those who call them that) in the drippy summer heat. Hope the beans get to experience this one day.
  3. Humidity so heavy that it presses on your chest like a brick. You don't actually get this much outside of the Deep South (and I've never felt it as strongly outside of my hometown, which sits in a bowl between the coast and the mountains).
  4. Chocolate chip cookies baking. They make me think of younger years sitting in the kitchen, grabbing them when they were too hot and burned the roof of my mouth.
  5. The strong smell of burning food. Okay, so this talks a bit too much about my mom's kitchen timer (known in other homes as a smoke detector, teehee).
  6. Trees, trees, and trees. Whenever I see a forest of truly lovely trees, the kind that grow close together keeping out all grass and ground cover, I think of home. Alabama is a very green state, year round. And the woods and forests marked my childhood.
  7. The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Any song form either of these two takes me back to sitting in the kitchen when I was VERY young (like 4 or 5). My Mom was coking or doing dishes and we would sing along to he sounds of Julie Andrews. The Beans are just getting into these now.
  8. Turkey dinner cooking. Thanksgiving, home, family, you know. It's a great thing to cook here in my house, because it reminds me of childhood times with all of my cousins around and about.
  9. Sweet Home Alabama by LynardSkynard. I LOVE that song. And, ironically, also written by a band not FROM Alabama.
  10. The smell of sand and salt water. That takes me back to vacations on the beach (only 4 hours from home). Days spent in Fort Walton or Panama City before they became glitzy kinds of places. Back when it was just us locals coming out for a little sand, sea, and fun. We used the little showers on the beach and sat tired, uncomfortable, and sandy all the way home. (Don't let me forget hopping out of the car to race around it like mad-people when you hit Florala!).

I hope you enjoyed my list. And, feel free to tag yourself and share with us what "takes you home".

Happy memories!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When I look at Jordan...

As I mentioned yesterday, I want to talk a little bit about what I see when I look at Amman. I'll end with the things that I, personally, think are the 10 most awesome things. But, first, I want to let you see Amman through my eyes.

On my first trip to Amman, I was surprised at how big and bustling it was. All of the houses perched on the sides of mountains were interesting and very foreign. Coming from Alabama, I'm used to wide open spaces. Land simply isn't a problem for us (nor is water). The mishmash of old houses and new houses, falling down structures and Abdoun mansions was such a unique contrast. The other thing that I pointedly remember is the amazing array of antennas. This was long before the satellite boom in Jordan. Back then, every building had 5 or 6 antennas crowding the roof. Many of them were shaped like the Eiffel Tower. It was simply a jumbled confusion for the eye. Back in those olden days, Amman was a city with fewer people and FAR fewer cars. Parking wasn't the issue it is today. When I looked at the city, I saw a place that was a mix of old and new, ancient civilization covered by recent additions. I saw a mess, but what a fabulous mess it was!

Today, Amman is very different. Don't take that as a bad thing - I don't. I still find Amman to be the most charming city I've ever visited. Even with all of its traffic and parking issues. Even knowing it from the inside, the part where getting a driver's license is a week-long affair. Even with its people growing more and less rude at the same time. Amman is an awesome city. It truly is a gateway to the Middle East. Here you see very few men in dresses (forgive the abrupt Americanism, but that's what I saw when I visited Kuwait). Those you do see have that unique Jordanian way of wearing a sport coat over them... You see many women who wear hijab, but very few fully covered. In a way, it's the perfect place to shock Americans out of their American mindsets, because it is VERY foreign, but not so foreign that it is impossible to relate, understand, comprehend.

So today, nearly 13 years after that first trip to Jordan, I'm celebrating my new home. I've come a long way in many ways and yet I remain that same young girl who is in love with this beautiful, very foreign place. So, here I offer:

Momma Bean's 10 Most Awesome Things About Jordan...
  1. Endless stairways going up the side of mountains, twisting and turning, promising new adventures and foreign vistas just out of site. Old stairways, new stairways, crumbling and pristine. All pointing to the fact that Jordan is always trying to move up and on and out.
  2. Three to four story houses, buildings built on the sides of mountains, in the valleys, on the tops of the mountains. Many cling precariously, staying rooted by the determination of their inhabitants and holding on by sheer grit.
  3. Doorways that are glimpses into the inner world of the Jordanian lifestyle. Doorways where old men sit and watch the world go by, doorways where mothers take children out to play and shop, doorways that lead to another world, one that isn't readily visible. The doorways of Amman hold so much promise, if only you could get inside...
  4. The people of Jordan who open their hearts and homes by nature, not out of obligation. How many other places can you go where people will take you in, cook for you, serve you, and just be with you? No obligations, no expectations, just the ability to BE with one another.
  5. Adventures in driving, daily vignettes of unexpectedness. Today maybe you'll be forced to play Egyptian-guard slalom, tomorrow it's interpretive dance with the BMW in front you, every day, it's a guaranteed adventure.
  6. Flowers on the street corner for 1 JD. Roses that can be had for so little but that last for so long. Every color of the rainbow is available, every vendor wants to please. Cries go out to fellow vendors across the corner to meet your desire for yellow, pink, red, orange. Whatever you want, they will try to find it.
  7. Fabulous historical sites including Petra, Jerash, and the Dead Sea. Old castles and palaces, the Qala'a. There is so much history that it's hard to choose where to start. And, more is found every day, so each time you visit Petra, it's a revelation. forget being ONE of the new 7 Wonders of the World, Jordan has 10, 15, 20 wonders, each interesting, each unique, and none as unique as it's living stones...
  8. Arableesee, this unique mix of Arabic and English rather welcomes those of us who've studied enough to get the gist, but not be conversant enough to be part of the conversation. It opens up the challenge of the Arabic language and allows for confusing, jumbled conversations using the word that best fits the meaning, regardless of language.
  9. The breezes that come along in the summer. Dead heat pushes, pulses, incinerates - until it is calmed by gentle breezes stirring the air, bringing relief. God sends us the heat in order to remind us of the blessing of the breeze. The breezes.
  10. The food. As with everything the food is a such a hodge-podge, a mix, a conglomeration from here and there. Foods eaten with hands -msekhen, mensef, hummus, felafel. Food eaten with forks - Maqluubi, jaaj mahshi, knafe. Sipped, stirred, drunk. Whatever you want you find (and they have Galler!). The food is truly worth writing home about.

I hope you enjoy reading my list as much as I enjoyed making it. It's in no order, not of importance or favoriteness. It's just in the order in which it came to me. I love this home of mine. Come, visit, ahlan wa sahlan. See Jordan through my eyes, and let me see it through yours.

Happy visions!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Building People Instead of Buildings (or why would Amman even WANT a skyscraper)

I'm not sure why people think of putting up buildings or trading in land as progress or an economic boom. Somehow the excitement of throwing up yet more apartments that no one can afford and that will simply sit empty escapes me. I was talking to someone recently about the challenge in the Jordanian landscape of companies that spend money upon money to build fancy new offices. These same companies spend nothing (or next to it) on developing their people. They are rotting on the inside, but pretty from the outside. The same might be said of this "economic boom" in Jordan. If all it does is move land from one person to another or put up a skyscraper, the country has not benefited. When, I ask, when will Jordan begin to place building people ahead of building structures?

I belong to fairly small professional association with maybe 200 members. In the US, a group like this is typically purely volunteer-managed. While they might (okay, most likely not) acquire a part-time staff person, they would NEVER consider having a physical location. And, what is this group in Jordan fixated on? Hiring staff and opening an office. Why? Because somehow doing this provides status and that, apparently, is why the group exists. Now, call me crazy (many do), but I think the purpose of a membership organization is... (wait for it, here it comes...) serving the members. How does opening an office do that? How does having someone to answer the phones do that?

For those of you who've been to Dubai recently, I imagine that you likely saw what I did (and it's been over a year since my last visit). Dubai is a town that beggars the imagination. Buildings are springing up everywhere with no thought the the necessary transportation and infrastructure to support the residents. It is actually surreal to see the cranes out as far as the eye can see. It also feels very artificial to me. So they have the tallest building in the world (or will when it opens, for like 10 minutes). So what? Has that built the people of Dubai? Do you see significant improvement in the lives and fulfillment of the average Emirati? I don't get the sense that you do.

One of these days, Amman will have to throw off this inferiority complex it has about its rich cousin Dubai. But perhaps, that's one of the foundations of Jordanian culture, the pursuit of the other. Keeping up with the Jones' is a national past time. But, at some point, one must learn to appreciate the absolutely stunning beauty that is Amman - its people, its structures, its lifestyle. El 3atal has tried to convince me upon occasion that we should consider moving to the Gulf. And each time I think about what life might be like there. I consider the benefits we've found living here, and I say I just can't imagine it. For me, Dubai holds no allure. I look at its skyscrapers and see parking troubles. I look at its 8 lane highways and see traffic jams. I look at its new museums and airports and see the attempts of a country to buy credibility. And, I'd much rather keep what Amman has. Tomorrow I'll be posting about what I see when I look at Amman (and the 10 most awesome things from this Southern gal's perspective). But even today I'm thinking about how much I love this city that I've adopted and that seems to have adopted me...

Happy people-building!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cinderella visits the Bean castle, virtual cake up for grabs...

Okay, so I've blogged about the beans' artistic abilities (which is far beyond mine, by the way). I no gift for drawing (okay giving credit where it's due, my stick figures aren't bad). But, I do have one little talent. It's one that, in the US I didn't know I had... I can make a really cool looking cake. In honor of ButterBean's birthday, I made two awesome cakes (one for home and one for school). And, I'm going to give you guys a taste (a virtual one anyway) of my skills.

ButterBean cake for home: Cinderella comes to visit

ButterBean's cake for school: Cinderella n the flesh (okay in the plastic) all gussied up for the ball

And lest you should think the other beans have been left out, I'll share theirs with you as well...

Enter JujuBean's castle for a rip-romping good time!

Race to the Finish with Junior Bean but don't get left behind!

It's funny how not having access to a bakery to make such cakes for me has brought out my creative instincts... I'm fiding it's fun to not only decorate the cakes, but to come up with the conceptual idea. And, thank goodness there are folks on the internet who provide pictures of their cakes for me to gain inspiration. I hope this made your mouth water (oh, and they taste even better than they look).
Happy virtual taste tests!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

And just like that, God steps in... I need your thoughts.

Okay, so now I'm already feeling brighter and happier. After posting my self-pity ridden post, I went out to a Moms website that I love and was poking around. I came across a blog that a woman keeps of a volunteer activity that she and her kids do. I love this! She and her kids use recycled goods (like toilet paper roles) and paint to make beautiful flowers for people. Here's their blog

And now for a little history. When I was a little girl (starting around age 5 and ending around age 14), my Mom, brother and I were clowns. Not of the class clown type, but of the painted faces and big silly shoes type. We donned our outfits and visited hospitals, nursing homes, and other places where those who had little family and lots of sadness were found. I've been thinking about that alot lately and wanting to do something with the kids that they would also enjoy. This love stems idea would fit in with their love of painting and doing crafts and would also give us the chance to create something special and lasting to brighten people's lives.

So, now for the question for you guys, I'd like suggestions of places that could benefit from deliveries of these flowers. My office mate mentioned an orphanage and I think that would a natural and obvious place. Any other ideas you guys might have? I've asked the love stems family for the instructions so that I can begin looking toward making them with the Beans during our weekly art project time. I'll be less ambitious than my inspiration, but will enjoy having this to do.

Happy moodiness!

Feeling a little bit blue, how about you?

I have no idea why, but at about 11:30 last night I started to feel blue. In fact, just before bed, I launched my own little pity party. Now, if I had woken up to sunny skies and birds singing, I'm sure it would have melted away the pitiful feelings, but then the day dawns just as gloomy as I feel.

I stopped by Rambling Hal's e-desk to find a little light pick-me-up, but it's apparent she's feeling just as blue as I am. Ah, well. Here's hoping that the rain clears and the sun returns bringing hope for the future and happy thoughts.

Happy depression!

Pre-school Double Bookings...

So, Lil Kinz had an AWESOME birthday party today. Personally, as the evil American-Mom inspiration for Kinzi's recent, I found the party to be perfect. Schwe cake, schwe juice, then lots of playtime... What fun. Now, the funny thing about this is that we committed to Lil Kinz's party a week ago. Then at like 7 last night, we got a call from one of the twins' good friends from the nursery. Apparently she was having her birthday party today and wanted to invite the Beans as well. Of course, we were committed, so I asked what time (to see if we could dash across town and such). It turns out that the party was starting 1-1/2 after Lil Kinz's, but (get this) would be at the very same place! So, I agreed that we would love to be there and let her know we'd in fact already be there when they came. (As a side note for Kinzi here, the other party had only cake (and water not even any juice) as well, so maybe we're starting a trend...

So here we are with potential double booking issues, but God, in his tender mercy, worked it out so that we could attend both parties making the birthday girls happy and the beans happy. So, after a LONG afternoon, we finally came home and now the whole house is sleeping except MommaBean. After all, if I don't blog about this, then what am I going to blog about? Oh, and is it a sad state of affairs that the Beans have a much more active social life than mine?

Happy double-booking!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

MommaBean unmasked? Well, not quite...

For those of you whom I haven't met and have been sitting around wondering (wait I only ahve like 3 readers and I've met them all I think...), what does MommaBean look like, I've unmasked, opened up, and generally come clean with Samer Marzouq in his series of interviews with bloggers. I'm attaching the link here.

However, for those too lazy to actually click on the link (you miss all of my refreshingly unexpected comments, mind you), I'm dropping in the latest picture of MommaBean unmasked - or remasked.

Old MommaBean pic:

MommaBean unmasked:

Just as an FYI, I am featured here in my natural surroundings (read that magic wand and adoring subjects who are outside the view of my fairy godmother viewfinder). So, since the self-portrait made it hard to find me on the streets of Amman, just look for the Bean-created princess mask and magic wand... Teehee.

Happy unmasking!