Thursday, July 31, 2008

Care of the Royal Hashmite Court, How the Other Half Lives?

So, since moving to Jordan, I've lamented that terrible state of children's car safety in Jordan. Most people forego car seats altogether and many of those who don't use an infant carrier not strapped into the car (or as I call it, a violent projectile). The Bean-mobile is quite the sight to the uninitiated. It draws comments every single time a new person joins us for a ride. We have a field of car seats in the back of the bean-mobile... Now, when ButterBean outgrew her infant seat, El 3atal and I were in that enviable position of two decent incomes. So, we sprung for the Cadillac of car seats, the Britax Marathon. It's an awesome car seat (I highly recommend it to those of you who might be considering which car seat to buy). It stays with your child until they reach 60 lbs. They cost a small fortune and when the twins came, we were happy to get a small discount when buying two more (Ouch!). But we figured it was an investment in our children's lives.

Well, yesterday as El 3atal was waiting on his bags on arrival at QAIA, he saw an interesting sight. He saw a large box with the name Britax and the picture of the car seat (much like the Beans'). In bold letters across it, it read: Attention Royal Hashemite Court, Ali Bin Hussein. First, kudos to Prince Ali for good taste in buying the best car seat available (in my most humble opinion). Second, kudos to Prince Ali for being a trendsetter and bucking the current trend of children in urgent danger on each trip in a car. So, for those of you who are keeping up with the Jones', please, please go out and buy a Britax (or any other decent car seat). Use it until your child is at its limits and then get a booster. Yella, fellow Jordanians, put your kids first (and you too can try to compete with a prince).

And, as a reminder (I posted on this a long time back) take a gander at this video on You Tube -> I know the Mom from an on-line bulletin board and her son was 5 days younger than ButterBean. It articulates, much more eloquently than I can, why you should continue to have your kids in a car seat even at the unfashionable (in Jordan at least) age of 6, 7, 8. Really until they are old enough to fit properly into the car's seat belts. Let's stop the deaths, let's demonstrate how much we love our kids, let's put our families first. Maybe it's time to lobby for car seat legislation...

Happy Royal Treatment!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shopping Solitaire

So, since we moved to Jordan, it seems like grocery shopping has become something of a solitary wasteland for MommaBean. I have a confession to make: I hate shopping. I mean all types of shopping. I don't like buying clothes, shoes, anything. In particular, grocery shopping is a type of torture for me. In the US, the whole family typically suffered through it together. In Jordan, it's MommaBean's reward for, well, I'm not sure WHY I've been tasked with this awful experience every week. I guess since HelperBean can't drive, El 3atal is too lazy, and the Beans complan to Mommabean if they don't have any food it falls to me. Oh, the joy.

To illustrate, in the two years that we've lived here, I'd estimate El 3atal has gone grocery shopping 3-4 times. HelperBean comes more often when the kids are in school and nothing else is going on, but the common denominator for all grocery rips is that MommaBean must go :(. As a result, I'm very familiar with what each store in town has. I have to hit two stores every week and sometimes three(how pitiful is that?).

At any rate, the last two weeks, I've had a new companion to save me from my solitary trek... JuniorBean. When I offered, he was the one who wanted to come. He enjoys rolling is big boy cart around with me and picking his favorite items to go in it (this week, apples and bananas). So, instead of being a lonely MommaBean, I'm kept company by my little man constantly having to watch him to make sure he avoids stranger's shins (usually), the end caps on aisles (sometimes), and such obstructions. I have to sa, if you're like me and wondering what you can do to sice up your grocery store trips, I'd recommend taking a child with you (but only one, more becomes an annoying competition).

Happy Solitaire!

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Being Kept Comfy...

I missed one of JujuBean's cutest expressions. She will often tell me that she wants to keep me comfy. Somehow in her mind keeping me company and making me comfy (comfortable) have intermeshed into a single idea. And, although she's the one who says it the cutest, all the Beans have the habit. They love to keep me comfy. When, you might wonder, do they keep me comfy? Anytime I try to go to the bathroom, eat lunch, take a bath, pretty much anytime I'd qualify as Mommy-time, they want to keep me comfy. This morning is a fine example.

Very unusually, JujuBean (who is my late sleeper, she rarely wakes before 7!) woke up first today. She got up and checked the playroom. She is so used to being last awake, it didn't even occur to her that the other Beans would be still abed. Finding the playroom dark and bean-free, JujuBean came to my room. It was about 6:30. She wanted to climb up in the bed with me. I let her climb up in the bed and she decided she wanted to tell me stories. She in fact told me a very fine little story about her imaginary friends the Ouzys and her real friend A. (For those astute among you, yes ButterBean talks so much about her imaginary friends the Ouzys that they have been adopted by JujuBean as well.) After she finished the first story, she ran to get a book that Lil Kinz gave us for Christmas and "read" that. By the way, in our house "reading" a complex book is really more about interpreting the pictures.

This week, all three Beans have made up stories for me. I find myself quite encouraged by this newly expressed creativity. While ButterBean has been making up stories since she was 18 months old, the TwinBeans have not really told stories like this before. So, I'm excited at hearing the new worlds their imaginations are creating. In our house, it's non-stop chatter and stories galore. Come on by and see for yourself...

Happy Story-time!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Musical theater - Bean-style

Well, poor El 3atal, he really missed out. This morning I was treated to a dance recital, a play and a musical number filled graduation. It isn't as uncommon as you might imagine since both ButterBean and the TwinBean's schools had a graduation with musical numbers. So, now we get treated to those and to made-up numbers by JujuBean.

As an aside, ButterBean's graduation was a bit of an eye-opener for El 3atal. He hadn't really realized that ButterBean sings Arabic songs at school. And, I don't just mean the fun Arabic kids songs we've had around the house forever. The numbers at graduation were focused on Jordan. Lots of patriotic, nationalistic songs (so I hear, teehee). When he saw ButterBean singing Ashan Malik, he was particularly moved (no idea why and no idea what this one means).

So, today JujuBean decided that she wanted to do a medley reprise as her closing number. For those don't know, this is where you grab a bunch of songs from an album and blend them in for the final song (at least that's my definition and I'm sticking to it). So, JujuBean's lovely song started like this, "Ashan Malik and giraffes and tiger too". It went on from there to cover a wide ranging array of topicsmostly to the Ashan Malik tune. Quite entertaining...

All of this came after ButterBean's ballet tribute. She and her imaginary friends (the Ouzy family) danced lovely flower dances for us. The final one of this was a rainbow rose dance. It ended with an Arabesque twirl (kind of). It was lovely, though. And quite the work-out.

The only one who didn't do any songs or dances was JuniorBean who was busy throughout flipping upside down in Baba's recliner. I looked over at one point and thought what a great gymnast this little man is going to make. He has no tummy at all, but incredibly strong stomach muscles. Of the three, he's the only one who can hold himself in the superman pose for fairly long periods when Baba lifts him. As a result, El 3atal enjoys doing JuniorBean lifts as part of his exercise regimen. JuniorBean loves the closeness. A win all around.

Maybe someday soon we'll schedule a Bean family concert or even a bloggers talent show night :). It'll be something like The Sound of Music where the whole family performs (but I'd imagine we can skip the running away from the Nazis thing). Ah, the fun we come up with...

Happy Off-Broadway Shows!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Speaking the language of little people... funny things the Beans say

I'm thinking about this for a couple of reasons. First, JuniorBean said something to me the other day that kind of cracked me up. It makes me understand why the people who do speech evaluations on him are a bit surprised at his vocabulary. To set the stage, Junior Bean is almost 4.5 years old. The other day I did something that is absolutely against the rules. And, what do you think JuniorBean said? Mommy, that is not acceptable behavior. (Okay, so you can see the kinds of things I say a lot I guess, but still...) How many 4 year olds use the word acceptable perfectly in sentences? Man, I'm handicapping my kids, aren't I? They're going to in trouble (as I did) for using 25 cent words when a nickle word would do. And, they all do it frequently. My kids use words that frequent visitors to my house have never heard. ButterBean taught HelperBean a new word the other day (can't remember what but a very philosophical existential concept - that I remember.). So, I guess we're word-happy people.

And I admit to using ButterBean's love of words and story-telling to my advantage in this pushing her to learn Arabic world I live in. She had resisted and resisted. Finally I explained to her that she tells such awesome stories in English. My dream for her is that she will be able to tell stories that are just as wonderful in Arabic. How great would it be if she could share that gift with her friends at school. Since then, she's sat with me twice trying to make up stories in Arabic. They're terribly simple so far (like the stories she told in English when she was 18 months old), but she's really trying.

But, at any rate, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite things that my mispronouncing Beans like to say. I hope you'll enjoy them. Oh, and I should admit that they're typically from JujuBean as she has the most fun pronunciation...

  1. Oooh, Mommy. Look at my pretty cracelet (bracelet).
  2. Mommy, would you like a pizza lezzert (piece of dessert)?
  3. When we get home can I have a glass of lemolade (lemonade)?
  4. JujuBean what did the haaris say? Splibble, bibble, gooble, bobble. What language was that sweetie? Arabic. I think it was Jujulish. No Mommy, it was Arabic.
  5. MommaBean to JuniorBean, You need to go wash your hands. Because I have to pick up clean up right now. (Notice no question necessary, aways a because available for use.)

Enough for now, it's bed time for MommaBean. The Beans are iffy-sleeping at the moment and I need to get to bed so I can get some sleep tonight. Enough of the summer-time waking at 10 am!

Happy Self-expression!

Days Off for HelperBean, Isn't She Cute?

So, since HelperBean joined us, we've been trying to get her to take days off. When she first came, we wanted her to take them at home (not going out) as she really didn't have friends that went out and we worried about her getting into tight spots out alone speaking no Arabic. Finally, we've achieved success. She has started taking Fridays off (at least that's what she says). For the past month, she's been leaving the house at 1:00 and coming back by about 7:00. Now, for me, that's more like 1/2 day off but she seems happy with it. So, this week she mentioned that she'd like to go to church, but church is at noon. I was, quite frankly, confused as to the issue. So, yesterday I did what I've found it's best to and just outright asked her. HelperBean, would you like to go to church? She said yes. So, of course I said, then go. That's no problem at all. I think she was worried that because it was before lunch time, it would be an issue. I'm glad we got beyond that. Not only did she go, but he got her good friend next door (who doesn't get days off) permission to go with her. So, the three friends met at 11:45 to head to church. So sweet :). And now they're off to have some fun at the mall. But, let me tell you what's really funny...

Before she left today, she made lunch for the Beans and put it onto plates (I know, I know). But, what's really funny is that as I was cleaning up I realized she made their lunches on paper plates so that I wouldn't have to wash them. How cute is that?! Admittedly the kids LOVE the Zoo Pals paper plates that we bought in the US (yes, I actually brought back paper plates) and see this as a nice treat. So, here I am enjoying the fact that cleanup is nothing more than tossing paper plates in the trash and thinking that HelperBean is just as awesome as I've always known. Allow me to say, Thank You God for our wonderful HelperBean.

Happy Awesomeness!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Face Lift for the Bean Pole, Bean Pod, Bean Pad?

Not sure what to call home sweet home. If we were the pea family, it'd be easy :). At any rate, while MimiBean was here she harped on and on about curtains. Fortunately, she's intelligent enough to get that I am SOOO not that kind of person (you know the kind who cares about curtains) and that she'd have to do it if it was going to get done. So, indeed she took charge.

She had HelperBean bring back some fabric after her vacation home. She went shopping with TetaBean and a friend in Wehdad and bought the rest of the fabric. She got TetaBean to set up the curtain guy to come and take measurements and such. Then she helped me describe what I want to our friendly curtain man. And, let me tell you, I seem to have the same experience each time with craftsmen from here, and it's a fun one...

Each time we have a craftsman come in, I explain what I want (either through an interpreter or not) and get odd looks. You know, the kind that say well, I'll do it but you're nuts. The curtain guy gave me a little of this, but then understood what I wanted and went off to do it. Just to set expectations, I wanted what is apparently called American-style curtains (imagine that!). I wanted a nice decorative curtain rod with sheers and on the rod a nice decorative curtain. Since we have amazing crown moulding with open spaces for curtains, this seemed to be just a bit much... I have to tell you I smile every time.

I had a very similar experience getting the kids' room painted. We had a guy come in and he decided to do one wall blue (for JuniorBean), one wall deep pink, and the remaining light pink. It turned out very well except that he painted the abu jour deep pink too. Somehow, it just overwhelmed me. So, I asked El 3atal to have him paint just the door on the abu jour light pink. That way, the light pink is framed by the dark pink. The guy doing the painting argues with El 3atal for a bit. Finally he put just a tad of paint on there so I could "see what it looks like". I agreed that it was exactly what I wanted. I asked El 3atal what he was saying. Apparently, I had offended his sensibilities with my request and he was sure I am certifiably insane :). It turned out looking great, by the way. In fact, here are a couple of pictures of it (MimiBean made the curtains BTW, but the curtain guys put them up).

We looked forward to welcoming all of our friends and family to the newly-spiffed bean home. And, I hope you enjoy seeing MommaBean's revolutionary taste :)!

Happy Non-conformity!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

McCain = Bush: First the Sign, then the Evidence

My, my, my. Campaign time gives each candidate the opportunity to show their best, to demonstrate their skills and showcase their strengths. It also gives them the chance to separate themselves from those that have gone before... or not. In a move that brings viscerally to mind the antics of W and his "free speech zones" (which I think used to be called the United States, by the way), McCain had a woman physically removed (by four policemen) for holding a sign while waiting in line for one of his "open" town halls. His campaign had her charged with "trespassing" at a facility that is partially funded by the city for holding a sign saying McCain = Bush. Here's the video =>

Now, I admit, she WAS a danger. I mean, she's short, in her 60s, with grey hair, looking like a librarian. Oh, wait, she IS a librarian... How much more dangerous can you get? She's also rather intelligent and made the very obvious point, if you're Republican, why would this comparison offend you? But really, the bottom line is that by taking such action, he proved the sentiment behind the sign, now didn't he? It appears clear to me that McCain does indeed equal Bush in so many unpleasant ways. A sad commentary in my mind...

Happy forcible removal!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dichotomy of sentiment toward the West

I haven't blogged so much lately, because (borrowing a phrase from Hal), I've been too busy living. Two days ago, MommaBean and El 3atal celebrated our 12th anniversary. Yep, 12 years ago on the 5th, we married here in Amman. So, we spent the day at the Dead Sea with the Beans in tow. We had a lovely time and then had dinner out together. I had many posts in mind for the day, but was too busy to write them. And then today, I was thinking about this interesting phenomenon in Jordan. There seems to be a love (on the part of some) to hate the West and all Westerners. But, in business circles, there seems to be a belief that anyone who comes from the West is brilliant and worth paying big bucks to see. How interesting. Let me tell you why I find this interesting.

When Steven Covey was brought to town, thousands of people paid a rather large sum of money to sit in a big room and hear him tell them his secrets to success. Were those secrets applicable to them and their business? Did they even process the idea that his thoughts might not apply to them? I don't think so. It seems to have become a status symbol in the business community to drop in something that he said into conversation. In fact, companies here are taking what he said and using it as if it were gospel. "A Manager should have no more than 3 Key Performance Indicators." Really? What does that mean, exactly. So, everything I do can be boiled down into 3 key areas and measured? How interesting. So, there is no consolidating? If there were, it would be assumed that they would impact the Manager, but perhaps I'm confused here.

The success of this event has caused lots of companies to jump on this bandwagon bringing in speakers for 1 day or 5 days to talk. And people jump right in to hear it. And yet, when there is expertise that is world-class and local, it is all but ignored. Companies refuse to pay as much for a local speaker as someone from the US. In fact, they seem to expect to pay 100% less. People who spent many years in the US, building expertise, reputation, and credibility and then chose to return are somehow viewed as second tier. They are, by virtue of location, less impressive and less valued. How does that work exactly?

I will grant you that the level of skill gained by the average Jordanian, due to the quality and type of employers, is typically of a lower quality than that gained in the US and UK. But why is it that the truly world-class talent that lives in Jordan must go abroad (even to other Arab countries) to get any respect? How interesting and challenging that is.

Happy dichotomy!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Mother's Love...

I was doing my every couple of days look at msn and a headline caught my eye. For anyone who ever has doubted a mother's love, this woman demonstrates what it is all about.

Tina Davila was stabbed for refusing to give her car keys to carjackers. She had left her infant daughter in the car and wouldn't hand over the keys. She was stabbed and the men who were trying to steal her car fled. While the tragedy could have been avoided had she simply brought her baby with her, that's a mother's love.

Truly, I would give my life for any one of my children. And, that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Happy Loving!