Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 5 of 5

This handsome guy is my first born, Mohamed. He is 15 years old and talented beyond his years in art. Mohamed has a passion for drawing and painting and animating his own comics. He can sit in front of the laptop for hours creating comic book characters using the paint program or in front of a sketch pad with a pencil for even longer. Of course, this can sometimes get in the way of studies. But to his way of thinking, studies usually get in the way of his artwork. Mohamed carries a lot of responsibility. He is the oldest of five kids, one of whom is autistic. He is usually the one who stays home and keeps an eye on whichever of the younger ones I've decided
to NOT take with me on whatever errand I'm running. He seems to take it with a grain of salt that he rarely goes with me anywhere one on one. I do try to make a concerted effort to take just him with me sometimes...which usually means we have to literally RUN the errand because Ismail plus his siblings with no adult supervision usually means FIST FIGHT before I get halfway back home. But Mohamed is a good sport about it and we usually get our one-on-one time together at night after the pesky younger kids are asleep.
Hamo is extremely polite and well-mannered and is always being complimented by neighbors and family and friends about how well-behaved he is. I'm always left proud by these remarks...and scratching my head wondering, "WHY do you use it all up on them? Why do I deserve all the 'buttheads' and 'shut ups' and 'I'm going to  pound you into dusts'?" He's a good kid for the most part.......that's saying a lot about a teenager!
He has his moments and he carries that infamous "put upon" attitude exactly as described in THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. But I think that that is something that is synonomous with teenage boys and is not unique to him. He inherited his inability to let someone else have the last word in an argument from his grandmother. (Well, you CERTAINLY didn't think I'd admit it was from ME, did you?)
Hamo is a sweet and loving and caring boy who comes across to many as awkward and shy. He's both of those things but he's soooo much more. He's sensitive and deep and devout in his deen (Islam) and he wants to learn how to cook and help his father with work and volunteered 2 or 3 years ago that if (God forbid) something were to happen to my husband and me, that he would be the one who would take care of Randa. His reasoning was because she "likes him best" out of all the siblings and she listens to him more than the others. I love how selfless he is sometimes. I think we're doing something right with him. And he is one of the brightest spots in my life. I tell him all the time how I waited 26 years for him to come into my life and how my life will never be the same since he entered it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today Sucks.

I have decided to postpone number 5 of 5 in the "Bright Spots in My Day Today" series.
Primarily because my kids all ceased being "bright spots" and turned into "black holes"
in the last 3 days. I love them all with all of my heart. But I just don't like them right now.
They're all sick and driving me up a tree. I cook, clean, dole out meds, put them in bed,
buy fruit and make soup. They in turn throw their dirty socks on the floor, run out onto
the balcony with short sleeves on, blow their noses and then throw the dirty tissues onto
each other, complain how they don't like this or that for dinner, get out of bed 47,000
times to fight and pee and drink water only to have to pee again and then fight about whose
turn it is to shut the light off.

Ismail is on my short list for the first available childless couple in search of a cute 12-yr
old to adopt. It's raining cats and dogs outside, the window in the back bedroom has water
running into it from the roof of the building and I'm almost out of towels. On top of all that,
I still don't have t.v. because I never replaced the ripped up cable to the satellite dish and
Frontierville on Facebook refuses to load. I swear I'm losing it. If it weren't so wet and cold
outside, I'd be heading to the pharmacy for Prozac. *sigh*

This too shall pass...this too shall pass....this too shall pass.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 4

So, here's my other beautiful daughter, Samiya! She's 11 years old and sharp as a tack. She makes straight A's and loves to read and write and play word games with me. She's definitely in the genius range on the I.Q. chart and I do not say this only because she's my kid. She's got the makings of a rocket scientist or a neuro-surgeon. Of course, she also loves people and wants to be a mom when she grows up but as to any career choices, she remains undecided. I'm just saying she's smart enough to write her own ticket.

Could be she's going to be a guitarist...she has a deep love for music. She's also quite athletic and definitely owns the goal when playing soccer with her brothers and some of the younger boys on our street. When the big boys come, though, she sits out. "They always aim at my face, the jerks," she complains. Samiya is for the most part, a pretty good girl. But not unlike her siblings, she's got quite a streak of ornery in her. The difference between her and Ismail or Aiman is that she is also a bit sly. I remember walking in on her when she was 4 coaching Aiman to stand on the dining room table and dance. When I cleared my throat she looked right at me and said, "Mommy, look what Aiman is doing! Are you going to spank him?"

"Yup. Right after I spank you!" She yelled YIKES and took off to the bedroom to hide under her bed.

Samiya is our resident "news anchor" and we have a running joke about her becoming the youngest correspondent for Al-Jazeera or CNN. Does she tattle? You betcha. We're working on that, though. And she's trying hard to quit. Samiya is also sweet and helpful. She sometimes will go clean out one of her brothers' closet or make everyone's bed just because she felt like it. Talk about your random acts of kindness! She helps me to clean house every Friday while the boys are at the mosque for Juma'a (Friday)
prayers. She knows how difficult it is for me to keep up with the housework alone during the week while
all of the kids are buried under homework and studies. So we sweep out the house, change the bed linens,
hang clothes, dust and scrub out the bathrooms while the boys are out from under our feet. She's quite a

Samiya and Aiman have the same voice pitch and sometimes she will fake like she is Aiman and start making noises or singing loudly in order to get him into trouble with me. The minute I yell, "AIMAN! BE QUIET!" I can hear her crack up laughing while I hear him do that, "UNNNHHHHHHH! IT'S NOT ME!" whine.
Rotten girl. Samiya is tough as nails and has actually laid me out with a right cross during a kick-box lesson from me. I was trying to teach her the right positioning to land a right cross and got just a little too much "in her grill" and she got me right across the jaw and knocked me to the ground. Then she turned all girl on me and started that high pitched squealy nervous laugh combined with "I'm sorry, Mommy! I didn't think it would work."
OH it worked baby. She rocked my molars. I love this kid beyond belief. She's definitely a light in my life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 3

Aiman is my baby. He is the fifth born and third son. He's nine. That big cheesy grin can take any day from hell, no matter HOW miserable, and turn it around 180 degrees! We've determined that he is made up of three parts, though we're not sure how: 4 parts me, 4 parts Mohamed and 2 parts Warner Bros. cartoon.
He makes faces that will crack you up and is quite sly about the way he can insult you. (Afterall, he IS his
mother's son.) We saw the trailer to that movie "Dinner for Schmucks" and Aiman figured out a way to call someone a schmuck without actually using the word. So if he ever walks up to you and asks with a grin, "You like cheese with the holes, don't you?" feel insulted!

Aiman is super smart, super cute, super cool and talented in art, music, and school. He and I were singing together the other day (can't remember what song) but I noticed that he picked up on the tenor harmony and belted it out while I was singing the melody. And with no musical training...hmmmmm. Aiman is the one who will stop watching t.v. and walk into the kitchen and hug me for no reason at all and just as suddenly turn around and walk back out. He is tall with legs up to his neck and wears the same size shoe as I do. Aiman is extremely funny and loud and brave with such a sensitive side that if his older brother calls him stupid he will run into his room and cry. His feelings are very easily hurt and he usually tries to think how others would feel before he says something incredibly mean. (You know and then there are times when he is a typical kid and just doesn't care HOW you feel if he calls you BUTTFACE.)

Aiman loves animals and desperately wants a pet. He and his huge begging smile are what finally won me over to allow a stray Siamese cat into the house about 2 months ago. Of course it was also his ornery antics that cost her that stay (combined with Randa's severe allergies.) Jelly, the cat, turned out to be pregnant and started to lose her patience with Aiman flipping her around in his lap and trying to pick her up under her "arms" and hold her like a baby. Then one day she came tearing into the kitchen with Samiya running after her yelling, "DON'T YOU DARE, AIMAN!" and Aiman running after them both with his mouth wide open and a piercing battle cry emitting from it. He had scratches all over his cheeks and neck and swore he was going to kill her. Samiya grabbed the cat up off the floor in an effort to protect her and Jelly scratched up her hands and arms and darted under the couch. I grabbed her by the tail and threw her into a cardboard box and started for the nearest pet shop to sell her. It was then that Samiya tearfully offered that it wasn't the cat's fault. Apparently Aiman was clowning around and picked her up and announced it was dinner time and pretended to shove the cat's head into his huge open mouth. I'd have freaked out, too. The cat was just afraid for her life. This bought her a little time until I could find a good home. (I finally did last week. Yay!)
Now he's taken to picking up stray cats off the street (there are a ton of them here in Egypt) and shoving them in the face of a 13 year old boy named Moody who lives down the street and is an Ailurophobe . It generates quite a laugh....provided he can continue to outrun Moody once he puts the cat down. That's as close as he's getting to another pet anytime soon. I've re-established my "NO ANIMALS" policy.

Aiman is amazing to me. He understands and catches things that other children his age don't. For instance, he jumped up and grabbed his shoes about 3 weeks ago and insisted it was his turn to go with me on an errand. So I brought him with me, begrudgingly....he's one of those "buy me this--I want that" kind of  kids. About 400 yards from the house he asked, "Where are you going anyway?"  I gave him my late Granny Jean's standard response to this nosy question:

"Up a hog's butt to get a ham sandwich.Wanna come along?"
He didn't even blink before saying, "We're Muslim. We don't eat ham."
Then there are things he doesn't get, like exactly how many "JUST SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE"s he should hear prior to hauling ass from Hamo before he gets pounded or why he will never be able to grow the "disco hair" that he wants since his hair is straight. He still thinks there should be a way to "will it" curly.

Aside from growing an afro, there's probably nothing this kid can't do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 2

Isn't she pretty? This is Randa. She's my first daughter, second-born. And she is extremely bright. She was diagnosed with Autism when she was 3 years old and all the professionals, doctors, experts, special-ed teachers discouraged me from teaching her Arabic and insisted I only teach her English so as not to confuse her. Idiots. Fortunately, I not only make it a habit to question authority, I usually defy it. You know, provided I'm not going to do any jail time as a result. We spoke to her in both English and Arabic just as we did her brothers and sister. I mean, how was she supposed to communicate with her father, for crying out loud?! He didn't speak much English at the time she was born, although NOW he's pretty proficient. At any rate, we figured she's got developmental delays in speech anyway. What difference will it make? We didn't know if she'd ever become verbal. Well, guess what! Randa is now 14 years old and she speaks, reads and writes in both Arabic and English. She is by no means at a 14-year-old proficiency level in either language. But she definitely knows how to get her point across. To be honest, she watches a lot of t.v. and uses the internet frequently. About three years ago, some guy across the street from us built this monstrosity of an apartment building that totally blocked out access to the satellite dish signal. So we went for a whole summer with no t.v. While the fighting levels went down, I noticed Randa spent a lot of time in my room laughing her head off. After a couple of days, I figured out why but chose not to share her secret. Everytime she would laugh loudly and attract the attention of her siblings to the point they'd open the door and go in, Randa would slap off the monitor and say, "Get out!"
Well, the child had seen me google a couple of times on-line and, being the genius that she is,
she started doing searches for YouTube uploads of Tom and Jerry cartoons. She knew that if the other kids knew what she was up to, they'd have me enforce the "everybody gets a 15-minute turn" rule and her cartoon time would be cut by four-fifths.
Randa's speech is primarily picked up by repetetion in films, cartoons, remarks that her family members make, songs and books. She even surprises us by the appropriate insertion of some bizarre one-liners. Remarkably they're also delivered with just the right amount of inherited "smart ass" from my side of the family. Here are some of her "sitcom moments:"
1. In Dallas, while visiting my sister's home, Randa walked into the kitchen while my brother-in-law, David was busy at the stove. He said hello to her and she responded with, "Hey, Baby! Are you a fallen angel?"
2. While my mom was visiting us in Egypt last year, Randa caught her in the kitchen and with all seriousness said, "Hey, Toots. What's for dinner?"
3. Ismail was teasing Randa mercilessly one day and Mohamed and I fussed at him several times. Finally I asked him point blank, "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" Randa answered for him, "Ismail's JACK ASS!" Mohamed sprayed coffee out his nose.
4. This past summer, I was taking the kids from our home by the beach into downtown Alexandria to visit their cousins and Randa was extremely tired and started to cry. We were on the bus and people kept staring at us and asking what's wrong. Finally, after 15 minutes I turned to her and asked, frustrated, "Do you think you can stop crying sometime today?" And she sniffled and then patted my hand like I'm a moron and said, "Maybe later, Dear."
5. About four nights ago, I was falling asleep when I heard Randa yell, "Oh, man!" So I asked her what was wrong and she said, "Stupid computer." So I asked if she would like me to fix it for her and she deepened her voice a bit and replied, "Why, yes, my juicy dream girl!" Oh, the incontinence due to laughter! (No, really.)
Randa has taught me so much over the years....patience, love, tolerance, the ability to ignore rude people and lots of laughter and lightheartedness! She brightens my life daily.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today

This is Ismail. He's my third child, second son, first to help when I need it. Ismail could charm the pants off of just about anyone if he tried. And he has a heart of gold...with a taste for ornery like you wouldn't believe. He's been in trouble for dumping a plate of cold eggs off of the balcony and onto the head of the woman who lived downstairs from us. He once decided to spackle the walls of our apartment for us...using 100% pure thick table cream for spackling. He's peed in the oven, scared the neighbor's daughters by wearing a "SCREAM mask", and dumped trash all over the bedroom while pretending to be a garbage man. (It was the kitchen trash can he used.)
This boy is so full of imagination, charm, and naughty that sometimes I forget that he's still the sweet and loving, protective, helpful and hard-working kid that I know and love. He's good with his hands. I once described a wooden step stool that I wanted my husband to build for me so that I could reach the dishes on the top shelf of the cupboard and more importantly, so the shorter kids could reach the sink when they help clean up. My husband told me he'd do it later after he finished some other ongoing project. Ismail happened to be in the kitchen at the time.
He grabbed the tool box and some scrap wood out of the closet (please don't ask WHY we have scrap wood in the closet.) He went out on the balcony and sawed and hammered and banged and kept himself busy for a full hour. When he came back in, he handed me the exact type of step stool I'd just asked my husband to build for me. Granted, I only used it as a shelf to put things on on the counter because he had used plywood for the top piece and it was not very sturdily balanced on the legs. But the fact that he could hear a verbal description of what I wanted and then go and build if for me with no direction, instruction, or supervision at 9 years old?!! That's pretty damn awesome, if you ask me.
Ismail is a neat-freak and helps me clean up without being asked. He does 75% of any errands that I don't do myself and he never complains when asked to do them. This boy is my little bright spot today. He made me laugh when I needed it. We were talking about bacteria and how there are some types of bacteria that are good that we need in our lives. And Ismail asked, "Isn't that Fronteria? The good ones, I mean." How cute. Sometimes I forget that they're learning two languages at once and so don't have all the vocabulary that someone learning only one language would have at their ages. I explained that bacteria is the term used for good and bad microbials and that although Fronteria would be a good word to have, sadly it doesn't exist.

Come on. Look at that face! He's a keeper, huh?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Don't I Have the High-Metabolism?

It's so annoying to hear extremely thin people who
have difficulty gaining weight complain about what
a problem it is to never get over 50 kilos when all
they do is eat! I am married to a high-metabolism
guy and gave birth to 5 high-metabolism kids!

While yes, I agree that having an extremely high
metabolism rate can be a little problematic...imagine
having your metabolism slam into a brick wall and
all of a sudden now if you so much as SMELL fresh-
baked bread, your ass stretches out one more pants
size. THAT is a little bit of a bigger problem. No
pun intended...well, maybe just a little intended.

So I am wondering how the whole thing works. Not
metabolism. I took biology in high school. I mean,
how is that my 15 yr old son can eat seemingly non-
stop all day and night to the point his stomach
aches at bedtime. He goes to the bathroom (we call
this the mysterious TFBC's - Time For Bed Cramps;
similar to the phenomenal DWC's - DishWashing Cramps.)
And he takes nearly an hour to poop. He complains
of constipation a lot. But he never gains weight.
HOW can a body burn off all the calories and still
block its own intestines and NOT GAIN ANY WEIGHT???
It's surreal.

Me? While I've managed to lose about 7 kilos since
moving back to Egypt (mostly because I walk everywhere
and do not own a car), I still feel a little on the
round side. Now I'm not as bad as some. I know women
who are as wide as they are tall and they weigh less
or the same as I do. Fortunately, I was always very
athletic my whole life. And muscle weighs more than
fat. My muscle is still there. It's just very well-
insulated. I think it's time to take a few layers of
that off.

I'm back in the game as of tomorrow morning, God
willing. Maybe a case of grapefruits and a high-protein
diet will get me back where I need to be. Me and this
here metabolism are about to dance, Baby! Bring it on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodbye, Friend!

My sister informed me a few nights ago that
a friend of mine from high school passed away
quite recently. I'd known that he was ill and
had been diagnosed with the same type of
melanoma as my mother some 26 years ago. I
guess because my mom made it, I'd had hope for
Devon. God had other plans.

Devon was a couple of years ahead of me in
school. He was very intelligent and funny and
politically aware and spoke fluent Italian and
English and was learning German and of course,
I had a crush on him. Only I was a dork freshman
with braces and he spoke to me but NEVER with
the look in his eye that only a 14-year-old girl
could wish for.

His two best friends were Alex and Rudy. The
three of them would climb on the bus each morning
on our way to school and laugh and rehash events
that happened over the weekend at various clubs
(usually Karibik the disco down the hill from
our housing area in picturesque Schwaebisch Gmuend,
Germany.) I loved to hear their stories and to
watch Devon dance that typical German dance where
one hardly moves his head and moves stiffly to the
music....sort of like the guys on Schprockets
from Saturday Night Live. Devon introduced me to
punk rock and spray-on pink hair. I've never been
able to listen to the Clash without thinking of him.
And even though my short-lived crush was not
acknowledged by him, my friendship was. He was
always a good guy and remembered some of our conver-
sations once we reconnected on Facebook.

And while his family and friends are devestated by
his death at such a young age, I pray that God bless
them all with patience to overcome this sense of loss.
And that God be generous and merciful to Devon and
forgive him any sins and allow him into his place in

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Kids Are the Greatest!

Okay, so last night I got the mother of all migraines.
It hit me so hard right after dinner that I felt dizzy
and nauseated and like a giant railroad spike had been
rammed right next to my left nostril up through my eye
and poked out of this before unseen throbbing vein in
the center of my forehead.

I tried tylenol by the handful and water and mint tea
and sprite to keep the nausea at bay. Nothing worked.
So after 6 hours of agony, I opted to just stop "being
a man"about the nausea and puked my brains out. At least
my stomach felt better. I showered and went to bed.

Somehow my kids actually EMPATHIZED and left me alone
today. Only a few interruptions, usually involving "May
we have money?" questions to buy tea biscuits for break-
fast and later for some cheese so they could have sand-
wiches. Then Mohamed came in and told me that it was
now 2:30pm and they were really hungry. I told him I was
still sick and I'd try and get up and make some soup.
He told me he'd cook if I told him how. So I gave him
recipe and he wrote it down and gave his younger brothers
money. They went down and bought some zucchini and
potatoes and parsley. Ismail chopped the vegetables
while Hamo got the meat and onions browned. And then
Ismail went ahead and peeled 2 or 3 more potatoes and cut
them into sticks so that we could make french fries for
Randa. (She only eats crunchy food.)

Samiya mopped the bathroom floor and Randa brought all
of the clean laundry in off the clothesline, folded it
and put it away. When I finally got up around 3:30pm,
the soup was finished and I had a cup of coffee and
made a pot of rice and Randa's french fries. Then we
ate dinner together and Samiya washed the dishes without
being asked. AND there were hardly any fights or teasing
today and very little backtalk. Samiya and Ismail and Aiman
made fried egg sandwiches for supper.

My headache is almost gone and my heart is happy. Clearly
I am doing something right by these kids. They are awesome.
And I am blessed to be their mother.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I've Got the Teen-Raising Blues

The funk is back. I could blame it on the geography,
but that would be dishonest. The truth is that I am
the mother of two teenagers and one 11-yr old who
started puberty early. (Lucky, lucky me.) THAT is
about 90% of my blue mood right there. The other 10%
has more to do with the fact that my husband and I
are living on opposite sides of the world...again. I
don't know. Maybe I should switch those numbers. Maybe
my problem is 10% teenagers and 90% not getting any.
I mean,really...I could probably better deal with the
teenagers if I had a really good release system...
which at present I don't. Well, yeah, I know. I COULD
drink. Except that it's against my religion. And it's
a bad example to these rotten ass humans I call teens.
I don't think I can tell them not to use drugs and
drink as a means to escape and have it be remotely
credible when all the words are coming out slurred and
interrupted by giggling and occasional belching.
Because LET ME ASSURE YOU, if I were to fall off the
wagon at this point, I would TOTALLY roll right into
a liquor store and remain drunk for the next 10 years.
Yes. That's correct. TEN YEARS, Baby. Because it'll be
that long before all five of my kids are out of their
teen years. And that would be one helluva hangover,
don't ya think?
So, I grit and bear it. And I blog. And enjoy little
tiny fantasies throughout the day that involve teenage
kids with severe cases of laryngitis that last weeks at
a time where I don't have to hear things like, "I hate
you!", "Whatever!", or "No, FAKELY!" which is usually
in response to the question "Oh, really?"
I'm sure one day it will all be worth it. I'll get my
MOTY award and be crowned Most Awesome Sober Mother
and write a book and be interviewed by Oprah after she
reads my autobiography with her book club: LOSING MY
Other Money-Saving Tips for the Birth Control Challenged)
In the mean time, I'll just have to work out a little
more frequently after reaching for that comfort food!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What Am I? An Idiot?

It's 2a.m. and I'm supposed to be having a
garage sale tomorrow. YIKES! I've got all
the smaller furniture and lamps and wall
hangings and stuff in the garage just
waiting to be dragged out onto the driveway.
But all the big ticket heavier than a
truck full of Sumo wrestler items are all
still in the house. *sigh*
I know I'm not going to be up before 7.
And it's going to take until 7:45 to get
Mohamed outta bed to help me. Maybe I'll
just wake up the kids and make them help
me. Or maybe those damn early-bird people
who'll be knocking on the front door at 7:30
asking if they can have discounts for helping
me to roll out of bed on time.

(Yeah, if someone is stupid enough to do that
they could get hurt. I'm a little on the
stabby side pre-coffee.)

I don't have a list of prices.
I don't have those cute little post-it
sticker price tags. Hell, I don't even
have the dishes, crystal or cookware
that I want to get rid of out in the garage
yet. (Maybe that's a good thing. I caught
Aiman playing end table hop out there and
threatened to break his little legs if he
didn't quit hopping from dresser to dresser.)

Of course, some of this worry might not be
eating at me had I not sat in front of the
computer and played 9.5 hours of Mystery P.I.
with Aiman and Samiya. No, really. 9.5 hours.
The up side is we won unlimited play on our
trial download. Yay. One more puzzle to keep
me occupied during my sleepless nights.

My sister used to be a regular yardsaler.
Of course, now that she has a toddler she
doesn't do it so often. Because of the child
running amok? you ask. Nay. Because she can
no longer handle the hangovers. She would
drag all of her crap out into the yard and
plop down in a lawn chair with a big ole
thermos full of ice cold margaritas and by
around 2pm she was sloshed and had given
away most of her stuff. I guess about 15
bucks would make it into her gas tank that
week or maybe be used to replenish the now
emptied tequila stock. Too bad I don't drink,
huh? Oh, well.

Guess I'll mosey on off to bed. Since I'll be
getting less than 5 hours of sleep I may end
up with the same "drunken effect" as my sister
but mine will be only due to my insomnia.
Yeah, I'm an idiot. I should have had a week-
long yard sale.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

American Life as Portrayed on TV

So, wow. We've been here for about 10 weeks and good gravy! Life's
changed a lot here in the last 8 years. I keep hearing about how all these
jobs are being created and how unemployment is going down by 3% here
and 4% there and I'm not seeing who's getting employed. Because, uh...
it's not me. I wonder where the news anchors get their statistics. And I
wonder why the government seems to be content with continuing to
encourage the creation of these minimum-wage to $8.00 an hour jobs
when seemingly NO ONE can survive without public assistance if they
have a family on less than $3000 a month. I'm not talking about living
extravagantly. The only "extras" I'm talking about are internet service
(say $35/month) and flat rate basic unlimited texting and calling cell
phone service instead of installing a phone in the house (for 2 phones $80/
month.) The rest is rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment plus insurance
and at the end of the day, how do you feed the kids? It's scary to me that
Americans still think that they're "living the American dream." I'm not
knocking America. I have lived all over the world and I don't want to be
anywhere but here, really. BUT I seriously consider our "American dream"
to be more of a nightmare. I have to caution my kids not to jump out of
the swings on the playground because we don't have health insurance.
They don't actually get this. But the threat of having Mommy give them
their potentially needed stitches with the wound held over the bathtub so
they don't drip on the bathroom rug instead of going to a lovely, clean
incredibly expensive emergency room usually has them at least slowing
down a bit before springing across the sky to tuck and roll through the
wood chips seemingly unhurt. And I still suck in my breath and clutch my
heart (and wallet) in fear each time.
We get ads in the mail and the free newspaper daily offering "great deals"
on some U-shaped thingy for 319 channels of cable t.v. in HD. What the
....? WHY do I want to see ANYTHING on television in High Definition?
Do I really want to make myself feel better because people in Hollywood
have blackheads like me? I KNOW this. But do I really want to SEE their
blackheads so...up close and personal? Absolutely not.
And maybe it's just me, but have the number of late-night pharmaceutical
ads increased dramatically in the last 8 years? When I left only Bob Dole
was spouting publicly his "erectile dysfunction" issues. (Bob, I hate to tell
you but there's nothing "dysfunctional" about fewer erections when you're
in your 70's. At your age, I would find a four hour erection resembling a
chin-up bar "dysfunctional.") Now, the ads are during prime time and we've
got people practicing conversations with their doctors while walking downtown
about how they're going to bring up the subject. If you judge by the t.v., it's
such a normal occurrence that NO ONE should be embarrassed. I've seen
commercials for Viagra, Cialis, and now ExtenZe??? And I'm certain it's
no accident that the favored "celebrity" spokesperson is a guy named Jimmy
Johnson. How do I answer my 9 year old's questions about why these old
people keep going from painting their house or doing the laundry into a bath
tub naked in the woods?
Then the whole "depression hurts" thing. There are more medication commer-
cials that seemingly are the "answer" to what people have basically done to
themselves by taking advantage of our "land of opportunity." While I don't
disagree that there are a lot of opportunities to be had here in the U.S., I don't
think people are giving themselves an opportunity to actually enjoy any of the
opportunities that they have. Perhaps I'm cynical. But you know, I'm not the
one taking depression medication because I'm living beyond my means, with
erectile dysfunction and extremely high cholesterol due to being depressed
about my erectile dysfunction and eating greasy expensive fast food that I
can't actually afford.
Seems to me, if we look back to the way things were even 30 years ago, and we
have dinner around the table, whole, not pre-packaged, processed food cooked
by mom (or dad), and then play a board game together or read or watch Free-
to-Air television as a family, the number of pharmaceutical company ads, fast
food ads, stress levels, erectile dysfunction issues and perhaps even cost of living
could go down. Because those services would not be needed as much and people
would be just a little happier. Maybe I'm a little this side of Pollyanna.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We're Here!

What a hellacious flight! It took the better part of two months. Okay,
not really. But even after being here for nearly two months I've still
not completely unpacked. There is one small suitcase of papers and
video tapes that I've no idea what to do with. I'm grateful we don't
have a fireplace here or THAT problem would have been solved
weeks ago. And probaby with calls to the local EPA office, what with
all the melting plastic fumes. But you know, come on! VCR tapes?
I don't even have a VCR. Aiman broke ours years ago. Didn't I
mention a broken VCR in the list of lovelies I found when cleaning
out my husband's closet pre-move to the US? Yeah, you remember.

So, the unpacking. It's nearly all done. There's one huge one with
clothes left in it but I'm so bored with the job that I just shoved it
under my little vanity table in my room and it sort of sadly eyeballs
me now. Like it's telling me, "Come on, Lazy Bones! Yew've gone and
unpacked all me sisters and put dem out in de garage!" (Because in
my mind, my last brown suitcase speaks with an Irish brogue.) And
I counter with, "True, and it's not that I don't like you, but...." And
it interrupts me and shouts, "Yew DON't like meh!" So I admit the
truth, "You're right. I don't like you at all. WHO buys a hideous
brown barrel-shaped duffel bag of a suitcase and proceeds to break
off 3 of the wheels from the bottom and then loads it up with exactly
36 kilos of crap knowing full well that there is only 35 kilos allowed
per suitcase and then stands on the scale sadly noting her own weight
and then picks up said crap-laden suitcase and attempts to read the
scale again in order to be forced to do math in her head so as not to
have to write down the original weight on the paper thus making
it true!?" The suitcase just stares blankly as only suitcases can.
"You're right. It's ME I hate. Me and my fat clothes. I'll unpack you

Sunday, January 31, 2010

We're Back!

It only took fifteen hours, two planes, three barf bags and a trip to the
McDonald's drive through, but we made it back to the great state of

We left for Cairo on 18 January in two cars. We had to shove the kids
and 12 suitcases and 7 carry-on bags and me, two drivers, a cousin and
one sister-in-law into the vehicles and then drive 3 hours to the airport.
Once we checked the luggage with only ONE protest from one security
guard who noticed and questioned why I was carrying 14 kilos of tools
in one suitcase, I hustled the children onto the plane and got everyone
buckled into their seats and handed out cookies and chips and hoped
they'd all fall asleep. Yeah, right. Not in MY life. Anyway, so everyone,
even Randa, was doing fine...until about 45 minutes before we got to
Frankfurt. That's when she decided to have her autistic meltdown.

Now Germans tend to be a bit on the judgemental side when seeing
people freaking out. They like order and sense. Well, autism just does
NOT fit into this neat and tidy box when sensory overload happens.
So, Randa had a freak out session and then I freaked out when the
flight attendant put. her. hands. on. my. child. So, I mentally flashed
through the scenario of grabbing her by the hair and slinging her into
the tight little closet of a bathroom and giving her a blue swirly, but
then I flashed to me and my autistic child being flung from the wheel
bays below sans parachutes and my other 4 kids waving with at least
one of them asking, "Does this mean we can get more sodas when the
drink cart comes by?" so I shook my head and returned to reality
where I told her through my teeth as politely as I could, "DON'T
touch her. You're making it worse. She is autistic and she cannot
deal with loud people in her face. I can calm her down if you will just
back off and let me!" She did. I did. Everything calm and happy with
the exception of every nasty airline employee eyeball giving me the
stink eye. OH WELL.

And ya know, for the nastiness endured on THAT flight with only one
small meltdown, the next leg of the trip was worse on our behavioral
part (NOT my fault) but the flight attendants were the exact opposite
of the first leg of the trip. They were sooo nice. Like Bizarro World nice.
They put us on first. Gave the kids pretzels and color books and games
and puzzles and kindly explained to them that while the stuff in their
kiddie basket is very cool, they have to have enough for the other kids
on the flight. Fortunately, these were the nice guys. Had we still been
on with the first group of attendants, they'd have handed them sticks
and paper bags to play with and then shouted, "ZAT'S ENOUGH
AMERICANS!" But we weren't on that flight. We were with Bizarro

Now, under normal circumstances, I would never give my kids medicine
to make them fall asleep. But if Randa couldn't handle a 4 hour flight
without a panic attack, how could she handle a 9 hour flight? Usually, in
our experience, her outbursts are louder and longer and her panic more
pronounced when she has several meltdowns in one day. Add to the mix
that she hadn't slept in over 24 hours and I was totally digging through
my carry-on bag for a serious cold capsule. It worked. She fell asleep
just after take-off and woke up about 20 minutes before landing. Poor
baby. So seemingly, this flight was a piece of cake, right? Silly readers.
This is MY life we're talking about here. Of COURSE not.

So, a couple of hours into the flight they started serving the meals. Now
I was traveling alone with 5 kids and it's not like they've got 6 seats all
across from each other or better, little compartments like on trains.
So I had us seated strategically like this:

seat1 seat2 -aisle- Hamo Ismail Samiya -aisle- seat6 seat7
seat8 seat9 -aisle- Aiman Randa Me -aisle- seat10 seat11

There is a reason for this. Hamo and Ismail listen better in public.
Samiya, who ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom while traveling EVEN
just to the grocery store, needed to be on an aisle. Aiman, the youngest,
needs to be reeled in now and then, and Randa, well, we already know
about her issues. So, they put a tray in front of all the kids but Randa
and then serve me last. So we were wearing our heaviest winter coats in
an effort to alleviate some of the suitcase weight and it was really
crowded in our seats. Then all of a sudden Hamo started barfing. He
filled one barf bag and then took Ismail's and began to vomit into it.
Samiya yelled over the high seat back, "Hamo's sick! Hamo's sick!"
To which I could do nothing at all to help since I was belted in, Randa's
unconscious head on my shoulder snoring, Aiman still excited about
having a caffeinated soda with his lunch and afraid that if he moved to
help his brother someone would take away his tray and that would be
the end of his brown liquid delight. I tried to put back my chair back so
I could rest Randa's head in the crack there, but got protests from the
portly man behind me who was also trying to eat and got the tray
pushed into his midsection. By now, the smell of puke reaches Samiya,
who proceeded to grab her own barf bag. Ismail's chair started to shake
and I was afraid that he was going to start his own hurl-fest until I heard
him guffaw. Samiya then started punching him while shouting, "Do you
(yak!) (punch) think (yak!) (punch) that it's funny (yak!) ( punch) that
we're (yak!) (punch) sick??!! (yak!)" This of course made him laugh even
harder to the point that he could barely breathe and was on the verge
of an asthma attack. I tried to get up at this point and of course, the
drink cart was blocking me in. Then the brain started working again and
I grabbed the guy by his sleeve and said, "Excuse me, but my son is
vomitting and I can't get to him and he's out of barf bags!" Klaus, or
whatever his name was, sprung into action. He flew to the back of the
plane and reappeared almost instantaneously with 3 new bags. He
handed Hamo and Samiya new barf bags and gave Ismail some tissue
because he'd now reached to point of laughter where there is no sound
made and only tears streaming from his eyes. I thanked him when they
brough Hamo a soda to calm his stomach and we landed about 45
minutes after that. Yup. Never a dull moment with this group.

So then in the car on the way home from the airport, Hamo began
complaining about the guy across the aisle from him (seat2, see map
above) and how he was making a mean face at him like it was HIS
fault for throwing up on the plane. I gently reminded my son that
while the man understood that he didn't want to be sick he was
still grossed out because a) he WAS trying to eat his dinner while
you were practicing for the Upchuck Olympics and more importantly
b) when one uses a barf bag, it is customary to hold it as close to
one's mouth as possible and try to discreetly spew so as not to disgust
the other passengers. "What do you mean?" asked Hamo.

"Well, Son," I replied, "You held the bag about arm's length from your
face and proceeded to aim via projectile vomiting in an effort to hit
the bag. He had every right to be grossed out and give you the stink
eye. This would also explain Ismail's laughter. He was looking at the
whole picture and seeing the guy's reaction to you and THAT was
where the hilarity originated and NOT the fact that you were sick."
We arrived at bribery point number two (fast food drive thru window)
that we used to convince Randa to get on the plane in the first place.
"Do you want anything to eat, Hamo?"

"NO THANKS!" He responded. Good thing. Compact cars don't usually
have barf bags in the seat pocket.