Wednesday, May 30
it made me think about what these girls will be like in five or ten years. aya, asma, razan, and hiba come from families who love them a lot and treat them basically like a normal kid. i'm sure that when aya lives at home, she'll learn how to really make tea and serving it to guests might be one of her jobs. and she'll be good at it. asma loves to clean and i bet when she's older, her mom will help her learn how to clean the house and asma will be able to help out. razan will do anything to please adults. i can see her doing laundry or the dishes...probably not very well, because she gets distracted, but i think her family is the kind of family who will let her try to help. hiba is teated like any other of the girls when she goes home. she loves doing dishes and helping in the kitchen. it's fun to think they they will all be adults one day and i think they will have the chance to contribute to their family. it's fun to see how they play now and think of how that will help them in the future.
i don't know about sheda and baraa. baraa is pretty physically disabled, so she can't walk or even stand still without someone right next to her or she'll fall down. her parents love her, but they're really overwhelmed. sheda is just crazy and i don't if she'll ever calm down. her three sisters are almost as crazy and her parents are completely overwhelmed and don't know what to do with them. it makes me think of the importance of teaching them little things that will lead to a little independence, like how to really wash their hands, how to shower themselves, how to get dressed and put their clothes away. i don't know how much sheda and baraa will ever be able to contribute to their families (especially in the eyes of this culture), but at least i can help them to not be as much of a burden.
sometimes i feel like we the kids haven't changed that much over the year. but then i think of how they really were. sheda was crazier, wouldn't sit still, peed in her pants almost every day, spit inside, wouldn't share toys. now she sits through most meals, goes to the bathroom really well, and this morning she was actually playing with aya. happily. hiba didn't talk, she didn't play with the girls a lot, she didn't do much of anything. now she's at least trying to talk all the time, she makes all the beds every morning, she prays at night, she loves to help us take care of baraa. aya was like a turtle in a shell when she got here. she still doesn't talk to the house-parents a lot, but she loves to play with the other girls, she makes me tea, she plays outside, she dresses herself every day without hardly any prompting. asma was such a brat and wouldn't listen to anything i said, she just did her own thing, she grabbed toys and threw lots of fits. now i just look at her and she listens and she's way better at sharing. baraa wouldn't listen to anything anyone said when she came. she fell all the time because she wouldn't pay attention to what was going on, she would get out of her bed during nap time. now she loves to play with the other girls, she's getting better at waiting for us to help her walk or get up, she lets hiba help her. razan didn't talk much and was really selfish with toys or anything when she got here. now she's great at playing with the girls, she'll share things, sometimes without being told to. she loves to help hiba make the bed or help fold laundry, things she didn't do when she came.
it seems like little improvements that may not seem to matter. but i can see them becoming more like "real people", not just little kids. even if aya is just making fake tea, it means she's paying attention to life, watching carefully, and wanting to be like an adult. even is sheda is just barely sharing toys, it means less fights with her siblings for her parents to deal with. even if hiba is just learning how to wash dishes and still isn't very great at it, it means she is willing to help and will be able to be a part of her family. when i think of how far the girls have come it makes all the late nights, all the fights, all the putting them in time-outs and feeling awful for it, all the peed beds, all the headaches worth it.
Monday, May 28
i'm home in 18 days and jason follows a week later.
Friday, May 11
this put jason and i in a bit of a pickle. thursday night we were taking the kids to mundo's, a pizza restaurant, for dinner. the pizza is really good there. i love it. but we knew that we would have more food shoved in front of us at the bbq than anyone would ever think of eating, so we shouldn't eat any pizza. but we did. jason was smart and at least only ate one piece. but when i finished my first piece, they brought a brand new, hot, cheesy pizza out and sat it right in front of me. so i ate another piece. i figured i had about two hours before i'd have to eat again, so i'd be ok. i was wrong.
we got to the house and abu mahmud was out grilling. they have a beautiful yard area with real grass and an arab style table...mattresses in a square with pillows all around and big sheet in the middle. it was so great. the weather was perfect. it's been hotter than heck the last few days, but yesterday it was cloudy and warm and it even rained a little bit. mostly just sprinkles off and on, but it was still rain. so we sat down and made ourselves at home.
abu mahmud handed us each a steak sandwich. they were probably only 6 oz. steaks, maybe a little bigger. and they were soooooo good. juicy, lots of flavor, fresh off the grill. i told him how good they were and he said that i shouldn't get too excited, this was just the appetizer. i laughed. but he was serious.
then they started bringing out the second appetizer. hummus, babaganoush, french fries, bread. there were two dishes of each, one for me and jason and one for everyone else. i was already getting full and i had no idea what was coming next, so i didn't eat. but then aida, the wife, shoved the fries in front of me and told me to eat them because they were hot and fresh. i offered her some and she declined because she'd just eaten an hour ago. well, so had i, but that excuse apparently doesn't work for guests. so jason and i picked slowly at the fries and hummus, hoping to not have to eat too much before the main course.
and then the main course arrived. his sons had left the meat that his shop, so they had to go back and get it. they came in carrying two buckets of food. yes, buckets. not big bowls or huge serving platters. buckets. abu mahmud started to put the chicken on the grill. it looked and smelled delicious. i think he cooked two chickens. and there were eight adults and four little kids eating. then came the kebabs. they cooked them as little meatball things. there were probably forty of those. and this is in addition to the steak appetizer that everyone has already had. and as if that wasn't enough food, he threw on a couple more steaks and then so kindly plopped them onto our plates before we could say anything.
so two steaks, one chicken breast, two chicken legs, one kebab, a handful of fries, and a spoonful of hummus later, i couldn't move or think about eating anything else. at this point, they were actually very un-arab and stopped putting food on our plate when we said we'd had enough. most places we've been, we've gotten at least one more serving at this point, especially jason. it was some of the best meat i've eaten since i've been here. and probably more meat i've eaten since i've been here.
we stayed for about another hour, talking about what we do, what we're doing next year, where their families are from, stories from america (abu mahmud has been there twice). it was a really fun evening and i hope we get to spend more time with them. aida, the wife, has offered to teach me how to cook arab food. i think i'm going over next weekend. they told us when we move to our new apartment, they can be our first guests and i can cook them an arab meal. they were such a fun family, very relaxed and welcoming, doing their best to make us feel at home and make our time here as good as it can be. also, they gave us ice cream, which was actually a normal texture and no toothpaste aftertaste, so we'll definitely stay friends with them.
Wednesday, May 2
The park from the top of the ferris wheel
Fida, Razan, and Bara'a. this is the spinny ride i made nabil go on that made him cry. i have no heart.
Me, Ahmud, and Nabil on the spinny ride
Fida, Sheda, and Aya
Bara'a, Razan, and Hiba
The Party Bus