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."