Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just want to write a quick note to say Merry Christmas to our few readers. We had a wonderful day. Um Tulip's side of the family arrived last Sunday and we are having a great time together. Their luggage even arrived on Tuesday, so we were able to open gifts (rather, the grandchildren opened theirs) on Christmas morning. My brother-in-law was the head chef for Christmas dinner, which was roasted lamb, potatoes, veggies, and a dessert of lemon meringue pie (my favorite). We picked out the lamb at the grocery and just asked the man for lamb spices and it turned out succulent! We also enjoyed the movie 'White Christmas' together. It has been 18 months since we last saw my side of the family and we are feeling so blessed to have them here for the holidays.

Tonight Abu Tulip heads down with my siblings and bro-in-law to Petra, while I spend some time with the kids and their grandparents. Finishing off the Buckeyes (chocolate peanut butter balls, a Christmas must for Ohio natives) is on the to-do list for today.

Well, I'll write more later but it's time to pick up some hummus and get back to the family!

Um Tulip

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lessons in Arabic

Inspired by Kinzi's recent Arabic post, I need to share some new Arabic words. Of course there are the plurals such as 'hotelaat', 'coursaat', and 'file-aat' which I find myself using. To "file" has been turned into a verb and also a masdar so it is common to hear "laazim afayyil ishi" or "tafyiil" meaning "I need to file something" or "filing". Another favorite is "kiif bitsayyivi haada?" or "how do you save this?"

A former Arabic student came up with the following uses of the words google and skype. Arabs describe the ten forms with f, 3, l or ف ، ع ، ل . Foreigners often use the method popularized by the Hans Wehr dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic. Each word in Arabic comes from a trilateral (three-letter) root. Verbs and nouns are then formed by manipulating these three letters. Each form is given a number. Hopefully you can understand a little bit of how the forms work by the following:

Root g, g, l غ ، غ ، ل

Form...... Meaning......... الوزن
I gugul To Google فعل غُغُل
II guggle To make someone Google فعّل غُغّل
III guugul To help someone Google فاعل غوغُل
IV 'aggul To use the search engine Google أفعل أغّل
V taguggul To make someone Google you تفعّل تغغّل
VI taguugul To learn to Google تفاعل تغوغل
VII 'ingugul To be Googled انفعل انغغل
VIII 'igtgul To Google yourself اتفعل اغتغل
IX 'iggull To become 'Googled' افعلّ اغلّ
X 'istagugul To consider the # 'googol' استفعل استغغل
( 10 to the 100th power)

Root sk, y, b سك ، ي ، ب

Form...... Meaning....... الوزن
I skayab To have skype فعل سْكيب
II skayyab To Skype too much/often فعّل سْكيّب
III skaayab To Skype someone فاعل سْكايب
IV 'askayab To install Skype أفعل اسْكَيب
V taskayyab To date via Skype تفعّل تسْكيّب
VI taskaayab To have a Skype conference call تفاعل تسْكايب
VII 'inskayab To be Skyped انفعل انسْكَيب
VIII 'isktayab To sign-on to Skype اتفعل اسكتيب
IX 'iskabb To move in a jerky fashion and speak louder than necessary افعلّ اسْكَبّ
X 'istaskayab To ask why your friends have not skyped you recently استفعل استسْكَيب

Enjoy your Arabic lesson. Now, 'laazim ashayyik ilfacebook. thank you iktiir'. Um Tulip

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Christmas Song I Like

Um Tulip writes:

After reading Hubby's post I have to comment as well. I do love Christmas music, and reserve it for December only. Decorating the tree with the family always included the soundtrack to 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' playing in the background, then usually a Mannheim Steamroller selection and a few other CDs, the Canadian Brass CD is in my head currently. My father has great taste in music - I'm forever grateful. Family car vacations meant listening to a lot of Peter, Paul and Mary, and Gordon Lightfoot, along with Manhattan Transfer. Occasionally we'd get stuck with the Psalty sing-along or the Sandi Patti kids cassette for us kids, but a switch to Dad's choice was always welcome. Now we play 'Bayti, ahla bayt' ' بيتي احلى بيت ' for our kids which actually I can tolerate pretty well.

At our concert last week our director did a solo of a little known Christmas song. I've posted the lyrics below. It was one I've heard before, but not often enough to even know the lyrics well. Simple melody, beautiful message, and a welcome change.

Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible said,
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

While shepherds watch their flocks by night,
They see a bright new shining star,
They hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

Oh a moment still worth was a glow, all the bells rang out
There were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted
"let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace".

Now Joseph and his wife, Mary, came to Bethlehem that night,
They found no place to bear her child, not a single room was in sight.

And then they found a little nook in a stable all forlorn,
And in a manger cold and dark, Mary's little boy was born.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

Oh a moment still worth was a glow, all the bells rang out
There were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted
"let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace".

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas music I can do without

Abu Tulip writes:

A few days into December and we've already done our main Christmas choir concerts (a marathon of rehearsals and performances last week, but tons of fun). I guess that makes this the time to think about some of the music.
The first thing I should say is that our experience here is different than most Americans. Most people are not Christians, and don't do Christmas shopping, so not every radio station and store feels the need to play Christmas music continually. That and a big Muslim holiday, Eid-al-Adha, falls just before Christmas this year. However, like I wrote before, there isn't any embarrassment about Christmas trees, "Merry Christmas" and the like. Even though a minority of shoppers at an store will be Christian, the big stores still have a nice display. They are willing to honor the holidays of each religion, that or they just understand marketing strategies. That being said, I feel like we have a good bit of control over the Christmas music which enters our ears, unlike many Americans.

So here's my personal list of Christmas or pseudo-Christmas music I can do without:

1. Jingle Bells--An old favorite, but what does it have to do with Christmas? And how many of you have actually ever ridden in a one-horse open sleigh? Why don't we write something about snowboarding or skating, something most people have actually done, and make it a "winter fun" (not Christmas) song? And now Oliver wants to sing it in Arabic, too.

2. Away in a Manger--The melody is kind of sappy, but what I can really never get over is the "little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes" line. Jesus was fully divine and fully human. We have a hard enough time with that idea without making him less human. Baby Jesus was like other babies--he screamed his head off every few hours.

3. Jingle Bell Rock--This one is just plain annoying. I guess since it has the word rock in it, they play it "for the kids" even though it surely goes back to the sixties.

4. Here Comes Santa Claus--"Let's give thanks to the Lord above for Santa Claus comes tonight." ???? What's with that? Thanks to Mr. Jeff for pointing out the idolatry of that line. That, and who's ever heard of Santa Claus Lane?

5. The First Noel--A pretty good carol, to listen to. It's just way too high to sing.

6. I saw three ships come sailing in -- Catchy, but you can't sail into Bethlehem. Enough said.

7. Almost anything done by a pop artist--Some of the arrangements of Christmas music they put out are just hideous. But how much do people even listen to them? You buy a Christmas CD of hot-pop-artist-of-the-moment, give it as a gift on Christmas day. They barely listen to it because they are tired of Christmas music by that time, it sits on the shelf for a year, and by that time the same artist (and the CD) is the brunt of jokes. Great gift! But at least the artist and the studio made their millions.

8. Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland--Nothing to do with Christmas. Sense a theme?

9. We Wisssssshhhhhh You a Merry Christmas--Now, unless the audience is talking and being disruptive during the concert, they shouldn't need to be shushed by the choir. Choir directors you know what I'm talking about.

10. Good Christian "Friends" Rejoice--Sorry, this just doesn't work. If you're annoyed that it's not gender-inclusive, don't include it in your repertoire, but don't butcher the song like this. I actually was in a choir which rehearsed "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlefriends," until the director realized how ridiculous it sounded and changed it to the original.

How about you? Any others to add? Disagreements?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wisdom from a "khitiyara"

Um Tulip writes:

Last week I took Oliver to a birthday party for one of his KG classmates. It was a lovely day, a little tiring with loud music at Burger King, but overall delightful. Oliver had a blast, and I had great conversation with the birthday boy's grandmother. After a bit of chit chat, the conversation turned to age. Local women often think I'm younger than I am, but she was pretty close. However, I was way off in guessing her age. She looked to be at most 55. She was lively, thoughtful, and by her pepper-gray hair I just assumed she had married earlier and that was why she had grown grandchildren. She laughed at my guess and told me she was 71. Only as we went down the stairs of the restaurant did I notice her weak knees and that she needed a little assistance with so many steps. She said to me while descending the stairs, "now you can see that I'm a khitiyara!" with a twinkle in her eye. Khitiyara loosely translates as "old woman".

We then went to the birthday boy's home for coffee and more play time for the kids. We resumed our conversation and I learned about her six children, and how successful they've all become. Her husband was a teacher in a small village near Um Qais, and one son scored 11th in the country in tawjihi (exams during the final year of high school-very big deal!). She spoke fondly of all her children and dearly loves her grandchildren. I still vividly remember a sermon from our college chaplain that discussed aging and its effects. He commented that as people age, the distinct features of a person become more prominent. A person who holds on to bitterness in life often ends his life as a bitter, old man. For a person who showed grace throughout her life this quality of grace seems to abound as she ages. I saw such joy and gratitude in this lady, so I posed a question. I asked her, "as a young mom, I'm still learning how to raise my children. What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to raising a family?"

She thought a moment and responded, "you need to teach them the fear of God." She mentioned that her children learned to fear God and understand right from wrong. Then she added, "you need to realize who you are in front of God. I don't boast about my children because of my accomplishments, but I give thanks to God because he has given me the privilege to raise them."

Thank you, God, for the lesson I learned that day!

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Varying Absurdities

Abu Tulip writes:

Sometimes I get frustrated by the absurdities I see around us in our adopted home. However, it's a strange sort of comfort to know there are still plenty of strange goings-on back in America. Now that Thanksgiving is over and we can jump to the next holiday (how 'bout savoring the moment a little, people?) the Christmas season is "officially" here, with all the incongruities and insanities it brings.

It's probably not even worth commenting upon the tragic death of the Walmart employee who was trampled by the Friday morning mob and died of a consequent heart attack. What kind of insanity leads to such a situation that there even is such a mob, and that they could actually create a situation that would trigger a fatal heart attack?

The other absurdity is the retailers' reluctance to acknowledge why so many people are shopping and keeping their businesses afloat. You can take a look at this list to see which retailers are afraid of offending a few potential customers and which ones are willing to acknowledge Christmas.

Now the one that caught my attention was Honey Baked Ham. The link says:
"Report: “HOLIDAY was written everywhere!! Nothing about CHRISTMAS. I asked and was told the usual ‘we don't want to offend anyone.’”
Let's pause for a moment to consider this. THEY SELL HAM!!!!
With all due respect to Jews, I don't think they are sitting around the family table for Hanukkah drooling over a honey baked ham! And I certainly don't expect our neighbors to be enjoying ham for their Eid-Aladha celebrations next week. Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, and the coming Muslim holiday involves sacrificing a lamb.

Maybe it's different for them, but I know what it's like to live as a religious minority, and a minority with more challenges than any minorities in the US have. There is religious tension at times here, but when it comes to holidays I feel like everyone is very cordial and accommodating toward those of the other faith. We visit Muslims for their holidays and say كل عام وأنت بخير kul 3aam wa inta bikhayr, or (loosely translated) " may goodness be to you all the year" . On Christmas they say the same. Muslims even acknowledge the importance of Jesus' birth (they consider Jesus a prophet of God, even though most know very little about His life and teachings). Nobody seems offended by expressions of holiday good will, and we don't expect anyone to be ashamed of their faith. I don't get bothered if someone thinks I'm a Muslim and greets me likewise during their holidays. They're just trying to be friendly.

Um Tulip agrees:
Just yesterday I went to a Christmas workshop at Oliver's school. We made Christmas crafts to sell at the bazaar and also cute lamb cards for Eid Aladha. Here are a couple pics of the crafts the kids made.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dr. Pepper

Um Tulip writes:

Well, we haven't posted in a few days. Our internet has been down and just came on an hour ago, so I'm checking up on news. This was especially frustrating as we use vonage and we couldn't talk to family on Thanksgiving day as we couldn't get online. However, one thing to be thankful for is that we are able to get high speed internet. When we first moved here, DSL was still new and we used a very slow dial-up. I'll put aside my frustrations with Orange (the internet provider) for another day, and just be thankful, as we have so much to be thankful for!

Since we've been sick with colds and busy with choir rehearsals at the same time I wanted to find something interesting to write about. I'm excited about Queen Rania's you tube video, but it's been mentioned many other places so you can look it up. I'm worried about the situation in Mumbai, but am foggy on the details so won't comment.

This headline caught my attention, though. "Axel Rose wants an apology from Dr. Pepper." Apparently, Dr. Pepper was offering free sodas online in celebration of the release of Guns 'N Roses album. Though I'm not a huge fan of Guns 'N Roses (but can't help knowing some of their music after being a teenager in the 90s, particulary after having to go to the weight room in high school with the football players in order to get out of taking gym, but I digress) I am a HUGE fan of Dr. Pepper. Every month or so I buy myself a can from the imported foods section at the fancy supermarket in town. Pepsi is every where here but Dr. Pepper is unknown and expensive. I love Dr. Pepper. Not much else to say but the headline struck me funny. For those of you in America, buy a can of Dr. Pepper today!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Election Response, Part III or Chocolate Milk and a Cookie

Abu Tulip writes:

Now, for the Republicans, just a few things I want to bring up.

1. Sarah Palin. I'd really like to know what some of you who live in America think of her, particularly her intellectual ability. She is constantly portrayed as of inferior intelligence, and I'd like to know if you who have followed things more closely agree. I personally am under the impression that she was never given a fair shake by the (mostly liberal) news media. Here's why:

First, most liberals tend to think all conservatives are stupid. Why? Because they disagree with liberals. The liberal view seems to be "my opinions are so obviously correct that anyone who disagrees must be either an ignoramus or have sinister motives." Look at how they view Bush (who got better grades at Yale than John Kerrey in the same classes at almost the same time), Reagan, Dan Quayle, etc.

Second, a strongly conservative woman is intolerable to liberals, especially when it comes to "a woman's right to choose." This was brought to my attention first when I read Dan Quayle's autobiography several years ago. He was often severely criticized and made fun of by the media. He believed it was because of his age; that it was somewhat acceptable for someone of the previous generation (Reagan, George HW Bush, for example). But since he was from their generation (baby-boomers) he should be liberal by default. Since he wasn't, he was a traitor. I think the same applies to conservative women now, and it part of the reason Palin was given such a hard time. This also applies to black conservatives, we just haven't seen many in national office yet (Powell and Rice are generally considered moderate, not conservative).

So, what do you think? Was Palin treated unfairly, or did she bring it upon herself?

2. McCain missed his chance. I really think McCain could have won it all by taking the risky move of opposing the bailout package. If he could have done it convincingly (which may have been difficult knowing his past support of such ventures), he could have been the great hero of the American taxpayer. His previous risky move (the Palin choice) didn't work out that well, so he should have gone for it.
Let me use an illustration. McCain was down by four points at the 20-yard line, 3rd and long with ten seconds on the clock. He threw for the end zone (Palin pick) -incomplete. 4th and long, five seconds on the clock, when the "meltdown" is announced and the bailout package proposed. Instead of throwing for the endzone again he ran up the middle. Three-yard gain and game over, Obama wins.

3. The Republicans don't really seem to get it. They are talking about how to become competitive again, but IMHO it's all just tactical, mobilization arguments. They don't realize that the Republicans have to offer something different, not "Democrat-Lite." They can't offer the American people free chocolate milk (of course it's never free, it's someone else's money) and expect to win when the Democrats offer free chocolate milk and a cookie. Me want cookie!!

The American people showed they want change by voting for Obama (even more wanted change but weren't sure about Obama). The Republicans need to offer more, and better, change than Obama does to win back the trust of Americans and put America back on its feet.

Comments, please!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baby Bulb is another boy

Um Tulip writes:

As I've finished my sixth month of pregnancy, and gained about 7 kilos, I'm definitely showing a nice round belly. As those of you with children know, the size of your belly attracts the comments of friends and strangers alike. The first question people ask tends to be, "is it a boy or a girl?" This is universal. We have two darling boys and are excited to e having another boy this February. What is interesting here is the reactions of others when we tell them. Boys are highly valued in this culture, so many people respond with a "ma sha'allah!"
ما شاء الله or "what God has willed!" This is particularly true of my husband's friends.

However, most women I talk to are cautious, saying "well, that's great but I'm sure you were hoping for a girl." It's hard to know how to respond. I grew up with three sisters, but my husband's side is almost all boys. Yeah, variety is the spice of life, but there are some great advantages to having three of the same sex. Same clothes, toys, games. They can share a bedroom for a lot longer. We don't have to fight over watching Bob the builder or Disney Princesses (I prefer Bob, myself). With Teddy Bear I haven't even had to buy any new clothes (though I recently got him a Diego shirt just for fun at Duwar Hawuuz for 3 JD - love that place!).

One of the great things about my mom is that she raised us a equally as possible, and taught us to be the kind of people that always look out for the feelings of others. While I can't say I always live up to those values (I've been known to speak before I think) I certainly try. I also grew up with a father who said, "How's my fifth daughter doing?" to any friend we brought over to play. All of our friends were accepted as part of the family, and an extra setting at dinner was always ready. I never felt my gender mattered to my parents in regards to what I could achieve in life. I never felt more or less important than my siblings. This is a heritage I"m striving to pass on to my children.

Additionally, we suffered a miscarriage last winter and I've done my share of worrying over this pregnancy. I am thrilled that so far my pregnancy has been very normal. Every time I feel him kick it is a cause for rejoicing. Although now the hiccups have started and can be a bit uncomfortable, it is the most amazing thing to feel a life growing inside. To sum it up, 'ma sha' allah" God has willed another child into our lives and we are thrilled it's a boy, and we would be thrilled if it was a girl. May His name be praised at the beauty of life!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."

Psalms 139: 13-18

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

naming our boys, part II

Um Tulip writes:

So we've settled on blog names for our boys. As I mentioned in an early post, the little one in my tummy is named Baby Bulb for now. Our five-year-old will now be known as Oliver, after his favorite stuffed elephant. Our two-year-old will now be known as Teddy Bear, after his favorite blankie. The kids had a blast posing for pictures with blankets over their heads. Just for grins, Oliver recently commented to me, "Mommy, my friend Ra'ad doesn't have as many owies as me." Quite concerned, I asked him why. "Because his little brother doesn't know how to hit," he responded. His good friend has a six month old baby brother. Just wait, I told him. He'll learn to hit soon enough. Happy parenting!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby Traditions

Um Tulip writes:
A few days ago we went to visit good friends who just had a beautiful baby boy. A tradition here is to make a yummy dessert called 'Karawyeh'. I took several pictures. I loved this stuff and actually went out and bought the ingredients so I can make it at home, even before our baby comes.

1 cup ground rice (the spice area at Carrefour had 'ruz mathuun' and karawyeh spice available)
1 cup sugar
8 cups water
3 spoons of karawyeh spice
1 spoon cinnamon
1 spoon ground anis or 'yansuun'

Place in big pot, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer a few minutes, and it will thicken. Pour into small bowls for serving. Decorate with lots of yummy 'mkassaraat' or nuts. She used shredded coconut with almonds, pinenuts, walnuts, and pistachios. I think you could also add some raisins and it would be yummy. The texture reminded me of applesauce, and it was nice warm for a cool night. You can serve it warm or cold. BTW, karawyeh is the Arabic word for caraway, but I think the spice is actually caraway mixed with a few other things.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Post-Election Response, Part II

Abu tulip writes:

I've read a lot of responses to the US Presidential election in the last ten days (has it really been that long). Of course, I'm amazed at how many people are already talking about the next cycles--2010 and 2012. Maybe a bit early? People are even wondering what it will take for Obama to win/not win a second term. So much can happen we all need to slow down a bit.

Additionally, since Obama talked so much about "fundamental change" in the campaign, why is he now mentioning all these former Clinton, even Carter, advisors for posts in his administration? Maybe now that he's actually in the position, he wants to play it a little more safely, which I can understand. I wonder, are people thinking that he's not living up to the "change" for which they voted?

That being said, these are some of the responses I've appreciated:

1. Here is one of the best responses I've seen from a Christian pastor, that being Mark Driscoll.

2. A response from a conservative commentator, with an irenic, positive and pragmatic tone.

3. Finally, if you follow Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, he has been sounding pretty smart lately. Whether or not you agree with him, you can't deny he's got fresh ideas. He saw the current economic collapse well before anyone else and has been giving dire warnings about bailouts and the federal reserve. Here are his thoughts.

Later: Thoughts about the Republican candidates.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stuff white people like

Um Tulip writes

A site we occasionally visit and is always good for a laugh: Number 115 is "Promising to learn a new language". Since I speak three languages and work in the field of language acquisition, this one was particularly funny and worth posting about. Kudos to all you white people struggling to learn Arabic. Allah ya3tiik al3aafia (May God give you strength or الله يعطيك العافية). Here is a bit from the blog but you'll have to read it all yourself.

"Finally, though they won’t admit it, white people do not believe that learning English is difficult. This is because if it were true, then that would mean that their housekeeper, gardener, mother-in-law (if they are an elite white person) are smarter than them. Needless to say, this realization would destroy their entire universe."

Additionally, number 112 is "Hummus". Something we all like, I guess. Although the hummus I bought in America a couple years ago pales in comparison to the local hummus we buy down the street. Sahtayn!

Post-Election Response, Part I

Abu tulip writes:

I guess after a week now I feel I can begin to comment on Election 2008, so here goes.

1). Election 2008, Decision 2008, America Decides, Super Tuesday, etc.... The way the networks portray this is less like informed, rational debate of the issues and candidates and more like a sporting event. Maybe in 2012 it will be Super Election MMXII

2). Again, the media... It was hard for me to stomach the election and post-election hype and talk about our freedoms, right to choose our representatives, etc. After seeing how some candidates in the primaries were treated (like Ron Paul) and how third-parties are excluded from debates and ballots, and yet in Texas both Republicans and Democrats can miss the deadline and still be on the ballot, I really wonder, how much choice do we really have? Most of our non-American expat friends (Europe, Australia, etc.) find it very odd and somewhat pitiable that there are only two parties, and understand that it is often difficult for us to support either one whole-heartedly

3). I want to be supportive of our new president-elect even though we have our differences. It seems most feel that way too. After seeing a president maligned and dishonored so much in recent years, I hope it will stay that way. There are some reasons to think he will do well, and I hope for the sake of America that he does.

4). The first hope I have for President-elect Obama: That he would break his promises to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW etc., and decline to enact the Freedom of Choice Act as his first action as President. Politicians are highly skilled in breaking promises, and this one is worth breaking. If you're still not sure what is his position on abortion, you can read it here for his personal views, and see a response to the legislation here.
Personally I agree with Franklin Graham, who said,
"(Billy Graham's) son (Franklin) expressed concern about Obama's views on abortion and gay marriage — an issue Franklin Graham raised in a meeting with the Illinois senator — saying that he and his father are conservatives who believe the Bible speaks clearly on those issues: 'President-elect Obama heard our position. And I told him that this was very difficult for us and hard for us. It's a moral issue that we just can't back down on. But he's our president-elect, and those positions that he holds that are contrary to Biblical teaching, I hope that God will change his heart.'"

Don't forget - Billy Graham is a registered Democrat and has had relationships with every president since Eisenhower, and he was one of the few Christian ministers in the south to take a principled stand against segregation.

5.) Another hope I have is that President Obama will at some point soon consider his religious journey and the fact that he was born into one religion (a religion which says clearly that the son must follow the religion of his father) and that he chose to follow a different religion. He took advantage of a wonderful freedom he had as an American. I will hope he considers all that that means, and that he is in a unique position to bring freedom of conscience to many who were born into a religion, but because they are not Americans, are not able to follow their own hearts and the religion of their choice.

So, what do you hope to see from the Obama administration?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bored and complaining?

Well, both kids are asleep, hubby's at a meeting, and I'm out of things to do. The boys have been sick and both fell asleep at 6:30. I did laundry, washed dishes, caught up on email (only 45 in the inbox now), caught up on some reading, and am out of ideas. I ironed (a once a month occurence). I read up on my friends' blogs. Saw lots of cute Halloween pictures of kids and such. I even made tomato and lentil soup earlier today from scratch (thanks to desert mom's recipe - yummy). Oh, I also fixed a couple holes in the living room curtain. Note to self- do not leave a candle burning within reach of a two-year-old. He just might want to sing happy birthday and then try to cover it up with a curtain. Praise God the curtains are made of a cheap synthetic material. All that happened was a couple of small holes and the slight smell of burnt plastic. That and my older son reminding me, "you really shouldn't put a candle near him, mommy." I guess the smell of burnt plastic is better than the smell of puke. Several scrubbings and a lot of vinegar/baking soda seems to have my living room smelling better. But no more nice pumpkin candles burning unless I'm right there! I realize I need to rejoice in this quiet. The Lord must know I needed it. I'm off to find a way to enjoy this last hour or so of quiet before I turn in.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Learning how to party

Um Tulip writes:

Well, we're still thinking about what to say regarding the election buzz. I've been listening to a lot of friends and their comments have been interesting. From "I heard Obama's mother was Jewish" to "America elected a black president? Mish tabii3i." and lots of "minshuuf". I personally was moved watching both the acceptance and concession speeches online. As someone who lives among many races (the kids at my son's birthday party last year were American, British, Sudanese, Indian, Jordanian, Palestinian, Korean, Swiss, and Slovakian, to name a few) I don't think I fully realized the impact of having an African-American president. The fact that this president will give hope to many African-Americans and spur them on to realizing their potential is a huge positive. I hope this impact will show us some of the best of what America is and ought to be.

Since that is all I have to say for now, I've copied a bit of another blog because I think the message is worth repeating. I read this comment after a post on Halloween. The blog is "Blog and Mablog" at, a site my husband frequents. I really enjoy his writing, and often agree with him.

"Christians need to learn to party. It's that simple. Our celebrations ought not seem like third-rate imitations of those who actually know how to party. Beer, (loud) music, and big fires certainly seems like a move in the right direction.

Our inability as American Evangelicals (or even Reformed types) to produce a culture worth looking at (think Contemporary Christian art and music) seems closely tied to the fact that we don't know how to party. The fact that we don't know how to party is directly tied to the fact that we don't know how to Sabbath."

Now, of course I need to plan some sort of party. However, with this pregnancy I keep falling asleep around 9:30 pm. Need to work on that....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A great source for names

Abu tulip writes:

I too need to process a little before commenting on the election results, or I will say something I will regret. My cynicism is running high right now.

Continuing on the topic of names:

Friends of ours are expecting a baby and are searching for creative name possibilities. They've been looking at hymn tunes, such as Aberswythe, Diademata, Runessan. (Some of you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but you can check their site.

Anyway, I found another great source for names, preferably website or pets (please not children). It comes from the word verification for leaving comments or doing some other business on the web (leave a comment here - please - and you'll see what I mean).
Here are some of my finds:

phiness (feminine product?, baby laundry detergent?)
suboomti (a city in Africa?)
toeron (evil emperor of another galactic realm?)
nowshan (pro-Obama campaign sign?)
gloympu (the stuff inside a baby's diaper immediately after birth?)
bodcou (deodorant? body splash?)
phokid - this could work for a child, "Hey Phokid, come over here!"

Maybe we'll find web-aliases (what's the plural of alias?) for our kids this way.

Any other faves?

Naming our boys

Um Tulip writes:

I'm not going to comment on the election at this point, except to say that I'm glad it's over and decided. That and I hope that the Republican Party does some serious rethinking about their policies and practices.

My 'worry' for now is coming up with blog names for our boys. Yeah, I'm glad to post about something not so serious. Baby boy #3 is going to be called "Baby bulb" until he comes this February. However, I still need some blog names for our two boys who are currently out at the park with my wonderful husband. Why not just use their real names? Well, we decided to keep the blog somewhat anonymous so we can write about anything, and for our privacy. So you won't see too many pictures here, but hopefully I'll have some funny stories to share.

So here are a few options for our older son:

Tender Tulip: He's a five year old in kindergarten, and often sensitive to others' feelings and his own. His biggest concern at school is that he doesn't speak Arabic well enough. While he's happy to translate for his other English speaking friends at school, he's quite shy. "Mommy, when I speak Arabic I don't sound the same as the Arab kids."
Sensible One: As a typical firstborn, he's often the voice a reason for his little brother's plans. "No, we can't put legos up our nose. That's silly."
Mr. Monk: Just like Adrian, he likes life to be orderly and clean. He rarely spills or gets dirty. This is a blessing when it comes to laundry, but just try and find a perfect banana for him to eat. "Mommy, I found a spot!"
Perfectionist boy: His teacher gave him some handwriting papers to practice. He kept erasing the letters until they were just right. I know, he gets it from me. What can I do?
Charlie: The name my mom gave to him while we were waiting for him to be born.
Oliver: The name of his stuffed elephant that accompanies him to bed.

Our younger son is two and a half and it the midst of potty training. Some ideas:

Ticklish Boy: One of his favorite things is to tickle and be tickled, often while wrestling with daddy on our bed, and in the process spilling sand from his pockets onto our sheets.
Blankie boy or Teddy Bear: His favorite blankie has pictures of teddy bears on it. Whenever he sleeps or gets an owie or is a bit cranky, blankie is a must.
Goofy: Unlike his big brother, he loves the absurd. Wearing underpants on his head? Why not? Spaghetti noodles with pancake syrup - no wait, that was Elf.
Curious George: Pampers here come with animals on them. Lately he searches through the entire package looking for a 'monkey diaper'. As a typical two-year-old, he is curious about anything and everything.
Talkative Tulip: While he was a little late talking, he has made up for it quickly these past few months. Many of his sentences are actually a mixture of the two languages together. His favorite phrase right now is "ana laabis blue today" which means, "I'm wearing blue today." He learns all kinds of phrases from his friends at nursery and usually I can understand him. Other new words for him these past couple weeks include "actually, it's true, & I already did!"
Mr. Popularity: He goes to a nursery in the mornings and is the most popular kid there, it seems. As I was never one of those popular kids in school, I find this hilarious. When I drop him off and pick him up, all the other kids shout his name. Moms find me and tell me how much their child talks about him. We've decided there are three reasons for this. One, he's been at the nursery longer than many of the other kids and is very comfortable there. His big brother went there before him so the transition to nursery was a breeze. Two, he's very comfortable using English or Arabic and doesn't hesitate to talk to other kids. Three, his name is very easy to pronounce in both languages so I think kids just like to say his name.

Comments? Ideas? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nearing the end

Abu tulip writes:
For better or for worse, our country will soon have a new president. It's been interesting following it from afar. It's especially nice to mostly be able to choose how much to follow it. This is quite different from my parents and in-laws who live in "battle-ground states" and are inundated with advertisements and polls. It's also quite different than the mood was here in 2004, when many locals asked me who I supported, and in turn expressed their dislike for Bush. Most now don't seem to have much of an opinion, although many seem surprised that a party nominated a black candidate. I think that says more about the people here than it does about Americans.

A few thoughts:

1. Anything can still happen. The media seems to enjoy portraying this as a "race" as if they are nearing some kind of "finish line" and Obama is currently "ahead." Actually, it's much different than that. For McCain to pull off the win, all it would take is for more people in the right states to prefer him on one day, November 4. The past means nothing except for how it impacts decisions of individuals on that day.

2. "Lesser of two evils" thinking. I voted for the one who to me was the lesser of two less-than-ideal candidates. I think most Americans are like me (although there are many who are very enthusiastic about Obama). As we've discussed this, we've wondered, can anyone live up to the demands of what the presidency has become? Do we set ourselves up for disappointment? We expect someone with grad-school level knowledge of economics, foreign affairs, history, political science, law, etc. who is charismatic and can lead effectively an enormous organization. This person must belong to an acceptable religious organization, have a charming spouse and well-behaved children, have no big blunders in his/her past. And somehow he/she must be able to relate well with "ordinary people." Although the candidates always present themselves as such a person, NOBODY can fill the bill. If we want such a person, we want a Saviour, and we should look somewhere else.
Obama, if he wins, will be in the difficult position of having to meet what I think are very high expectations from a number of his supporters. Not an enviable position.
What I want for president is someone with the will to defend our Constitution, defend our country from enemies and say no to Congress when necessary (which is often). Let's hope we get just that.

3. I predict this election will be the beginning of some major shakeups in one of our two major parties. The only thing to stop that for the Republicans would be a McCain win. Otherwise, I see a lot of shuffling of leadership and soul-searching, perhaps adopting some new core principles. Perhaps even a breakup of the "coalition" of fiscal conservatives, religious conservatives and those supporting a strong and active military.
The Democrats look strong right now, but if McCain manages to pull off a win there will be a lot of upset Democrats wondering why they can't seem to win the presidency. I'm not sure what would happen then, but probably some kind of shake-up. Either way, a shake-up of our parties is a good thing.

It's been interesting so far. I do hope the rest will be fairly dull, as in a clear win for either candidate and no drawn-out counting, court cases, accusations of fraud, etc. as we've seen at other times.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Abu tulip writes:
It strikes me that starting a blog is a lot like having a child. First, it's something we're doing together. Second, having a child takes nine months, and if you procrastinate and deliberate enough (and are just plain busy), it can take something like nine months before a blog is produced. Third, the naming process. It's not an easy decision. You want something kind of catchy, but not to weird, and something that will actually make sense to most people. And, you kind of want to stick with it. It's not quite the commitment of naming a kid, or even a pet. However, you can't just go with the tried-and-true. "My life" or "My thoughts" is certainly already taken, and you can't have it. But when you name a kid, you can stick with John or Mary and that's fine, even if your name is Smith. So, after considerable deliberation we will go with TULIP TIMES. Why?

Well, it has a "newsy" feeling, which doesn't hurt, and alliteration is always nice (in moderation, of course).

It relates to our roots. Tulip time is a unique, slightly bizarre, festival in a town where we lived. Lots of crowds and annoying tourists, but amazing fair-food snacks, parades and klompen dancing. If you've never seen klompen dancing, let me tell you, it's entertaining in a strange sort of way. You're not sure if you're enjoying yourself with the dancers, or at their expense. Or like a car accident on the side of the highway. When you realize it's there, you can't help but look, and you hope that nobody is hurt.

Next, you may know that TULIP is a handy mnemonic device for remembering the Reformed doctrines of grace (or the points of the Canons of the Synod of Dort if you prefer). It certainly does not constitute all of Reformed theology, but is an important part of it. And since we appreciate Reformed theology, and would like to see more people come to appreciate it, it does indeed say something about who we are. I'll be writing more about that later.

So, this is our humble blog. I hope you find the name appropriate, even catchy, but at least tolerable. Enjoy!

We've started a blog!

um tulip writes: we finally joined the bandwagon and are now posting on the web

abu tulip writes: I hope to write about life in the middle east, religion, politics, language acquisition, sports, etc.

um tulip writes: I hope to write about raising kids cross-culturally, arabic, teaching, cooking, faith, music, and random observations about the world we live in.