Monday, January 31, 2011

Flying solo - day 5 of Um Tulip's 8 day trip to America

So, I'm drinking coffee and the only sound to be heard is the ice machine in my parent's fridge.  No need to yell at Oliver and Teddy Bear for sword fighting on the couch, no Linus begging for Spongebob, no vegetable sellers in the streets, or any other familiar sounds.  I flew back five days ago to meet my new nephew, now five weeks old.  As I joked with my sisters, this was the first time they beat me at something, I became an aunt for the first time, while they've all been aunts for seven years now!  In reality, the new mom has beat me with her humility, my next sis has beat me with her generosity, and my youngest sis has beat me with her honesty.  I have an incredible family.

Flying solo is was a totally new experience.  I'm an expert at airports; packing and going through security with three little ones is now quite easy.  Wandering through Heathrow for four hours with nothing to do is very strange, though.  And what side of the walkways are you supposed to walk on in that airport, anyway?  The airplanes were a third full, so I had a row to myself.  I read, watched movies, and didn't have any juice or food spilled on me, not even once.  No evil glances as my children screamed, no daring attempts to change a diaper during turbulence.  When our plane got diverted from D.C. to Chicago due to snow, I managed the news with only a slight groan, and was able to hop on a different plane home, landing just five minutes later than my original itinerary.  I'm working on a deeper understanding of the phrase "peace and quiet". 

The new one is adorable, and while technically a "lazy sucker" is gaining weight and I had the joy of being present at his baptism yesterday.  This was followed by a gathering at my sister and her husband's house with extended family.  I hadn't seen my aunts, uncles, and cousins in 18 months, so I felt the reunion was just as much for me as for the newest member of our family. 

One story I must share involves the adorable daughters of my cousin.  After ordering girl scout cookies from the eldest, I showed her my local money.  She asked me about the writing and pictures.  As the currency shows our esteemed king, her mom shared, "They have a king and queen.  What does our country have that they don't have?"  She answered without skipping a beat, "freedom!"  We all laughed, of course, but given recent events in Lebanon, Tunisia, and now most intensely in Egypt, the concept of freedom is on the forefront of my mind.  I'm so thankful I was raised in a family that taught me Christian values, and also gave me the choice to embrace my faith as my own.  I'm also thankful my adopted country does allow many freedoms nearby countries do not.

I'm missing my beautiful children, and my amazing husband, but relishing in the fact I have nothing to do but enjoy time with family and gaze at the snow.  Thankful.....  ~ Um Tulip

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dry Spell

Haven't blogged in about six months.  Kinzi tells me to get back at it, and I should.  Even if nobody else reads, I know it is good for me to write.  For those of you who don't know me in real life, we lost my father-in-law to a tragic tractor accident on the summer solstice.  The days got shorter and shorter until Dec. 21.  Now the days are getting longer, the sun is shining longer (although we're finally getting much-needed rain) and I'm hoping a new year will bring new hope.

On  a previous post I wrote about the garden we hoped to grow this summer.  After our emergency trip back to America, this is what became of our garden.   August passed by with squelching heat, and we couldn't get our apartment below 34 degrees Celsius for several weeks.  That's hot!  We spent a lot of days at the pool, teaching the Tulip kids to swim - or teaching our youngest not to jump in the pool without mommy or daddy there to catch him!

School started and we dove into teaching and learning.  I'm teaching creative writing to grades 1-6, and despite the headaches, I love my job.  I get to teach Oliver, which is great.  I'm so proud of his accomplishments in Arabic, as he takes Math, Science, Social Studies, PE, and music, etc. all in Arabic and is doing a great job.  I'll have to post about work later.

Teddy Bear is translating for the other foreigners in his KG class, which makes me so happy.  He loves school and all things spongebob and pirate.  Linus has a new name.  He'll be two next month, and his favorite object in his whole world is - you guessed it - his blankie.  Just wish I had been smart enough to buy two of the thing back when they were in the store. He speaks mostly in Arabic, which is darling.

We also moved this fall.  Our landlord had his old place open up, which is twice the size of our little 2 bedroom apartment.  For the first time ever, I had a home big enough to host Christmas dinner. Yes, that's  two turkeys in my sink.

Painting the pink ceilings (and pink and purple walls) has been a challenge, but having the space to play is such a joy.  I knew we made the right decision one day after all these things took place simultaneously.

1) Oliver was in his bedroom working at his desk with his tutor on his Arabic work.
2) Linus was taking a nap in peace and quiet.
3) Teddy Bear was playing with toys in the living room.
4) Abu Tulip was working in his office.
5) I was cooking in my kitchen.
6) My helper who comes a few times a week and keeps me sane was cleaning in the kitchen.

We all had SPACE to do what needed to be done. 

Most of November and December was busy with Christmas preparations with Dozan wa Awtar.  Abu Tulip and I both sang this past season, and all the rehearsals were well worth the reward of  performing with the most amazing community of singers I have every met.  It deserves its own post, soon.

Next week my mother-in-law and brother-in-law come to visit.  MIL is going to stay for two months and she will also have her own bedroom.  I'm so glad she's coming and the kids are going bonkers making plans for their arrival.  (Not going to mention the confetti or other plans just in case she reads my post.)

So here is my re-entry into blogging.  Let's see if I can keep it up.  Let's see if the rain keeps pouring, quenching the dry and weary land - the physical landscape where we live and my soul that is sore with grief and ready for relief.                 ~ Um Tulip

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.