Thursday, August 29, 2013

I May Have to Leave Here

No, not the state....this website. Apparently, Blogger has decided to go through every single image that I have posted on my Squarer Pegs, Rounder Holes blog site and DELETE THEM. Apparently, I am infringing on MY OWN COPYRIGHTS as about 90% of the photos they removed I took with my own camera and uploaded.

I'm not pleased and await a reply from their helpdesk.....but I probably won't hear from them. REST assured, if I decide to leave this site I will post the new one here. I may  have slowed down a bit in my blogging as it has been overtaken by events I like to call LIFE, but I have not stopped writing.

Friday, August 2, 2013

What a SLUG!

*photo courtesy of

This is me as it relates to my keeping up with my blog since I've been back in the U.S.  And I don't mean to be all "Oh, I'm so, so terribly busy with all my busyness and stuff," as though other SAHM's aren't just as busy or possibly busier than I am.  I'm not that self-absorbed.

But honestly, this has been the roughest adjustment period after a move....EVER. Randa is still not out of her mandatory "we moved again"depression and it's been 2 months. 

Remember the expression, "It's Africa hot?" Well, damn if Texas isn't Africa-hotter. I haven't the energy to get out of bed in the morning...which, less face it, is forced energy anyway having 5 teenagers all at the same time.  But good grief, you can just feel your sweat glands breathing heavily and telling your brain in the morning, "Aw, come on! We're exhausted already! Leave us be."

We're also fasting from dawn until sunset for the month of Ramadan right now. Yes, it is earlier than last year.  It's actually about 10 days earlier EVERY year as the Islamic calendar (Hijri calendar) is lunar-based as opposed to the Gregorian calendar (you know, the "regular one.") And while not eating really isn't that big a deal for us, and after the first day or two, neither is the getting started without that morning caffeine boost.  But going without water until 8:30 at night in 104 degree F heat is definitely a challenge. And it really does take a lot out of you.  So there's that....

AND trying to figure out how to enroll kids into what schools and with no documentation because the Egyptian Ministry of Education refused to release their transcripts to me because I'm not their father has been frustrating to say the least.  I may actually have this figured out now that I've made 9,006 telephone calls, sent 439 emails, and put 417 additional miles on my husband's Honda driving around scouting out schools in our area that aren't classified as "bad."

I am excited about our new house and would really like to get started fixing things that need fixing and gardening and decorating and putting a big chunk of those awesome "For the Home" and "DIY projects" items that I've squirreled away on Pinterest to good use.  But's Africa Hotter and who in the hell has the time? Once these kids get back in school (God willing, I'm able to enroll them,) I'm going to do at least one hour of gardening per day, one Pinterest project per week, and one chapter per day on my novel that is currently collecting dust in the back burners of this laptop. 

Rest assured. You, my whopping 3 fans, have not been forgotten.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vocabulary Lessons and Lack of Self-Control

In preparation for "back-to-school," I took the three boys to our family practitioner for full physical exams. We made it as far as the vital signs room before the giggling began.

Nurse:  Any surgeries?

     Me:  Testicular varicosele removed earlier this year.

Nurse:  Varico-who?

    Me:  Varicosele. V-a-r-i-c-o-s-e-l-e.

Nurse:  And that's like a varicose vein?

     Me:  Yes, in the testicle.

**Begin giggling behind me that builds to hog snorting and then blatant guffawing.**

To her credit, the nurse was Mexican-American with a very heavy accent and most of the practice services the Hispanic community here, so most of the time she speaks in Spanish.  But she seemed embarrassed enough and rushed through the rest of the height, weight, blood pressure and temperature readings to hurry the out-of-control pubescent lunatics into the exam room and out of her hair.

They were all just fine. The end.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lumpy Brownish Milk Ain't Half-Bad in Coffee

Shuffling into the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning, I tend to do things in a rather rote way:  Grab coffee mug, pour coffee (that is ONLY made because I set it up to go off by itself the night before...GOD bless the inventor of THAT TRULY MOST AWESOME INVENTION EVER!) and then grab the gallon of milk out of the fridge and pour it into the mug, then drink delicious, caffeinated goodness that is my ante meridiem nectar.

Yesterday, I noted to myself that this jug is already at the halfway point and that maybe I need to pick up another gallon before the end of my day. And as I thought this, I began pour the milk into my coffee and it fell into my mug like white stew. "What, WHA????"

me:  "Oh, crap!"

Ismail:  "What?"

me:  "I can't believe this! I just bought this milk yesterday and now I have to return it to the grocery store because it's bad."

Ismail:  "It's not bad."

me:  "Son, it's pouring out in chunks . My coffee looks like it has quark floating in it. OH, THE HUMANITY!"

Ismail (audibly annoyed - remember I hadn't had coffee yet and could barely see past the mug) : "MOMMY! The milk is NOT bad."


Ismail:  "Because Randa squeezed an entire bottle of chocolate syrup into it and then  poked marshmallows through the opening and shook it up."

me:  "Cool. Rocky Road coffee."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just A Question

Is there something genetically linked in male  DNA that rears its head in puberty that causes boys to drip water all over the bathroom with no ability to dry it up?

Does someone pull them aside in middle school and whisper to them, "While you will still use every clean towel in the closet after your shower and leave them wadded up throughout the house, from now on you will also be required to step onto the bare floor NEXT to the bathmat and  shake violently like a wet dog to ensure that there is more water on the walls, floor, mirror, counter, and ceiling than ever hit the bath tub during your 98 minute shower while the rest of the family was  hopping outside the door in dire need of a  pee."

Thankfully I noticed it BEFORE I slipped and broke my neck. That is all.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

And Now What You've All Been Waiting For.....

I know I promised full disclosure as to the details of our trip from Egypt to the U.S.   And yeah, it's been three weeks since we got back so I can't blame jet-lag any longer.  The truth is, nothing really happened.  I know, right?  Who the hell's life am I living and when will the chaos begin again?!

Okay, so back in late April or early May, I contacted my travel agent and tried to book us on Lufthansa to Dallas because there would only be one layover and the Germans are usually extremely efficient and keep to schedules. Also, because I avoid New York like the friggin' plague because I think it's stupid that all international flights are IN to JFK and then we have to claim all our luggage and go through customs and all that noise just to find a cab (yeah, right!) who can haul all five of us and our 10 suitcases 5 carry-on bags and whatever crap we purchased at Duty-Free all the way over to LaGuardia in Queens and then have to check in again and wait for a flight (that isn't free, by the way) to Dallas. NO THANKS. It's hard enough to travel with kids internationally. I don't want to have to do the whole intracontinental thing, too.

So my travel agent told me that she could book me on Lufthansa for 30, 800 EGP but that Emirates Air had a better price. So I rolled my eyes and asked how many layovers that one had. She said just one but it's in
Dubai. I asked what the price was and she said, "20,000 EGP."

Say WHAT?! "What's the catch?" I asked.

"Well, the transit is in Dubai. So you would have to fly 5 hours from Cairo to Dubai and then you have a 3 hour layover and fly directly from Dubai to DFW. The flight time would be 15 hours from Dubai instead of only 9 hours from Frankfurt to Dallas."

"Girl, we've GOT time. It's money that we seem to always be short on.  Book the Emirates flight."

So that is how we got to fly over Iraq and Russia and the North Pole and Canada and Minneapolis and all the way over Oklahoma and land in Dallas. Yeah, really. I've flown over the North Pole.

I have flown my entire life....and NO, I'm not embellishing.  My dad was military and we traveled back and forth from Europe my entire life. I flew a lot in the US to visit family and then started traveling overseas for my job. I am just as comfortable in the air as I am on a road trip. Maybe more so. I've never endorsed an
airline before.  But I will right now.


From the time that we checked in at the desk in Cairo, we were whisked away on a bus by ourselves just as soon as I notified the attendant that we had a special needs child and explained that Autism can sometimes cause my daughter to become overwhelmed and freak out a little but that I can get her to calm down again provided the flight attendants do not try to restrain her. (That happened on the Lufthansa flight last time we traveled to the US and I was nearly at the point of knocking out the woman who was attempting to force Randa into her seat while yelling in her face to keep  calm.) They boarded us in the back of the plane at the same time the first and business class passengers were boarding int he front.

This is a great spot as far as I'm concerned. We're close to the back where the drink carts are stored. We're close to the restrooms. AND most importantly, we're located close to the jet engines where argumentative teenagers and their noise gets drowned out. YES.  The flight attendants were SO very nice to us.  Honestly, they were nice to everyone.

When we arrived in Dubai, the kids were a little hungry and Mohamed had asked me to buy cigarettes at the duty-free store. So, we bought the cigarettes and then wandered to a food court and I decided that it was just too damn expensive. But I did buy them each a coke and got myself a Snapple and we wandered back over to our gate and sat and snarfed down all the cookies and chips and snacks that their uncles had purchased for their backpacks before we left Egypt.

We still had another hour before we were supposed to leave which meant another half hour before boarding started and Randa started to have a meltdown. She was bored and tired and hadn't had her internet fix in more than a day. A gate attendant called Ismail over and asked if we would be able to control her on the flight and Ismail said yes and tried to explain what autism is to him. Finally, he decided that the guy was kind of a rock and called me over to explain. I could barely understand his broken English so I spoke to him in Arabic and explained that my daughter is just extremely tired and bored and that once we were on the plane I could settle her down.  He recognized my dialect as Egyptian. Turns out, HE was Egyptian.

So, what does one Egyptian do for another Egyptian? They "hook a sister up"and he called some Scottish dude who was in charge of security and told him to board us early. He didn't want to but the Egyptian dude told him, "Special needs child" and the Scottish dude asked me what was up and I explained that Randa is Autistic and gets overwhelmed when she is overstimulated and can freak out a bit. He said, "My niece is autistic. I know how that goes."

The Scottish dude said, "Follow me." So we did. And he introduced us to Faris who was the head porter on our flight. Faris introduced us to Mario aka Mex (which apparently was short for Mexican) and they shook hands with Randa and were very polite and asked if she would like anything.

Randa said, "Chocolate." And then she laughed. So they laughed.

Damn if they didn't bring her a mini-Toblerone and a Mars bar just for her from first class. And they sent a color book and a fake Etch-A-Sketch thing. She was just stoked that they had Toy Story 3 on the in-flight movie and they're all high-tech so you can even rewind over and over again like she enjoys doing on the touch screen that was on the back of the head rest in front of her seat.

The only "incident"so to speak, was about 9 hours into the flight when Randa started shouting, "Butt hurts! Back hurts! Go faster. FLY FASTER!" The whole time she was pretending to row (yeah like in a boat) as if air- rowing was going to get us there quicker. They were handing out drinks at the time and the flight attendant sort of giggled but then told Randa, "I will tell the pilot to fly faster, dear."

Once we were over Oklahoma, we hit every air pocket that we DIDN'T hit flying all over the rest of the globe. All I could think of was TORNADOES. But thankfully, we weren't in any tornadoes. But the air pockets DEFINITELY did a number on my stomach, as well as Randa's. Because then she decided that she didn't want him to fly faster any more. And she started to stomp on her imaginary air brakes and shouted, "Slow down. Fly slower." This of course, delighted the two men sitting on the other side of her and they tried to hide their amusement but failed miserably.

Good thing she doesn't give a shit what other people think.

Anyway, a few hours later we landed and even though it took us about 2 hours to get through immigration and customs, we did it fairly quickly and uneventfully. It was awesome. Boring and uneventful almost NEVER happens to us. So this was amazing to me and my family.

I cannot emphasize enough how awesome Emirates Air was on both legs of the trip and at all three airports and if you ever have a need to fly anywhere in the world that they service, TAKE THEM. It is an awesome experience. was amazing to see my husband, my son, my mom and my sisters and their kids waiting for us at the  airport. These are my favorite people in the world. (My brother, too, of course but he had to work that day and he lives in Austin.) And here's a photo of Randa hugging her grandmother at the airport upon our arrival while her father looks on:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Conversations with My Kids.....Or ABOUT My Kids...With My Sister's Kids

My sister, MJ, has 2 kids who are loud and hilarious and smart and gorgeous. They, too, inherited the smart ass gene that my kids inherited. We traded kids the other day while my brother was in town. Molly had gotten wrapped up in a game on the laptop and MJ and Lloyd (my brother) volunteered to pick up some stuff at the supermarket for me. My two youngest decided that it was "their turn" to go with whomever was leaving the house.

Molly could not have been more disinterested in going with her mom. She continued playing her game. I tidied up the kitchen and hung some laundry and was about to start making dinner when my husband called and asked me to come pick him up from work.

So I got dressed and started looking for the two older boys to tell them that they'd be in charge of keeping an eye on their young cousin. Hamo was praying. I couldn't find Ismail anywhere. I checked each room, closet, back and front yards. NOTHING. Randa was asleep in her room. I was worried that Molly would realize she was sitting in the den by herself and get scared without her mom or me or her uncle or any of her older cousins around. So I asked her where Ismail was.

   "He went out the back gate."

"I just checked the backyard and I didn't see him. The back gate was locked."

    "I don't know. I saw him go out the back gate."

I went back to the front yard and yelled out his name. Cue crickets. I returned to the den as I plopped onto the couch to get my socks on.

"Molly, I cannot seem to find Ismail anywhere and I HAVE to go pick up your Uncle Mohamed from work. Poor man is probably hungry after working all day."


"I am going to kill Ismail. I looked everywhere and can't find him."

     "You're going to kill him?"

"That's right. In fact, I may kick him until he's dead. What do you think about THAT?"

    (*sigh*)  "Aunt Nik, that kind of gore and violence is completely inappropriate for someone my age. I mean, I'm not even a decade yet."

(forcing the dead pan/parent face) "Did anyone ask you to watch? But you've got a point. That would be pretty violent. Maybe I could just smother him with a pillow when he gets home."

     "It wouldn't be as hard to clean up afterward."

Apparently, I am NOT the only one in the family raising a bunch of smart alecs.