Arabic Books for Kids!

Today, I happened to stumble upon a webpage that I’m so excited to share. The website/blog Read Kutub KIDS is a fabulous resource for parents and families interested in children’s books authored in Arabic. This blog describes itself as a “sister” blog to another great blog called Arabic Literature (In English) which features book reviews and other Arabic literature-related content.

Personally, I can’t wait to go through and read each of these blogs in detail, and get some ideas for more books to request for my son as well as some ideas for my own reading as well.
(Every time my parents ask what they should send me from Amman, my first answer is a consistent “Kids’ books! Good ones!” Of course that’s quickly followed with “Za’tar (dried thyme), Ba’laweh (a.k.a Baklava), Turkish coffee, and Meeramiyyeh (sage)”!)

One book I’m already excited to read is Sinan Antoon’s The Pomegranate Alone. Read an excerpt here. Trust me, it won’t disappoint.

Of course, the website with the excerpt of The Pomegranate Alone, Jadaliyya is another one I am totally excited to spend many hours reading ASAP!

Happy exploring!

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Spell/Language-Check Death Match

This morning, I hang my head in grammatical shame.
The reason?
Today, I lost a battle with MS Office Spell/Language Check. Granted, it was an email and so I wasn’t as cautious as I normally am, but still! I shouldn’t have let it happen.
I had barely finished typing my sentence before he shot one of his fatal red squigglies at me, smugly pointing out that my comma needed to be changed to a semi-colon.

Our death match has been going on for years, now. I point and laugh when Office tries to tell me I don’t know how to spell my own name, or can’t recognize my clever transliterations. Hah! So inexperienced and Anglo-centric! You need to travel more, Mr. Office.
Enjoy this small victory, sir. For I am still the reigning Queen of Spelling, and you will not bring me down with your squigglies, be they green or red!

This war is not over.

Home-Cooked Love

Last night at around 2 am, my wonderful in-laws arrived from overseas to spend 4 weeks with us. Obviously, I spent the weekend organizing. And scrubbing. And generally trying to make it seem that I’m much more domestic than I probably am (or have the time to be). Not sure how well my under-the-rug strategy is going to work.

For the next 4 weeks we are so excited about grandparently LOVE, more Arabic spoken inside the home, giving this new Talfazaat Arabic TV over-IP thing a try, and…
Home. Cooked. Food.

Just thinking about it makes me want to do one of those kick up my heels and click them together while walking down the yellow-brick road moves. I’m good at those. I’ve been practicing for a LONG time.

Working really long hours lately has left us with more nights than I’d like to admit where dinner has been some variation of tuna, eggs, popcorn, frozen yogurt, or cereal. I know. I deserve the Worst Mother of the Year award.
But guess what?! I popped a couple of my mother-in-law’s famous ka3ek (mouth-watering date cookies with just the right amount of cardamom) this morning and I don’t feel so bad about it.

Goodbye, tuna! I hope I don’t see you for at least another month!

Dichoto-me: A Story of Opposites

It is 7:03 am. I’m already late, but today, I (almost) don’t care. I decide that making sure my son and I both have lunch in our lunch boxes is more important than running to get to work at 7 today. (But I still better make it in before 7:30, which is the moment that divides the blessed from the eternally damned and deemed slackers-not-worthy-of-a-paycheck).

Anyway, the story.

Hands working efficiently, heart skipping and hopping all over the place from the adrenaline (partially caused by the rebellion against the clock, but also caused by the anticipation of potentially spending a few minutes with a certain little Spider/Iron-Man), I gingerly place utensils on the counter and listen for any sounds of awakening.

Silence.

Then.

“Who made that sound?! I heard a knife! I smell peanut butter!”
He awakens as he lives; straight to the point, fearless, inquisitive, attentive to detail.
I smile to myself and await his arrival, physically experiencing my heart swelling to the point where my chest can hardly contain it anymore. I don’t need to wait long, and his arrival does not disappoint. He stumbles into the kitchen, eyes wide open, shocks of hair sticking out of his head in unlikely directions, cheeks round and pink from sleeping.

I gather him in my arms, and he places his head on my shoulder for a split second before shooting back upright, every single muscle in his body contracted. He looks me straight in the eye and asks “Mama! We don’t have school today?!” Confused by my at-homeness at this hour of the morning, he thinks it MUST be the weekend.
“Yes habibi (my love), we do have school today. Takul batteekh? (Want some watermelon?)”
“Ooookaaaaaaaay.”
I take his hand in mine, and we head to the bathroom. We brush teeth, wash hands and face, and attempt to calm his hair down from whatever caused the sticking-out-every-which-way situation. I look at his reflection in the mirror and realize that this is what I live for. These moments where I am his world, and he is mine. From the corner of my eye I can see the man who keeps me sane sitting at his computer, and I take a moment to permanently etch this image into memory. This is how mornings should be.

I am happy, here.
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It is 12:38 pm. I am sitting at work, wishing I had more hands to type/work with, aware of a growing hunger in my core that threatens to overshadow my productivity and focus (and overall sanity). I look around me and for the most part, everyone is stuck at their desk, trying to crank out one more task. Every now and then someone voices the collective feeling of drowning and being torn between wanting to keep working and needing to EAT.

For a moment it is as though I am observing the scenario from above, as though I were an outsider looking in, and not one of the crowd. I quickly realize, with utter clarity and without a doubt, that this is a glorified sweat shop. One with Career Development Plans, fancy job titles, and much better benefits. Nonetheless, sweat shop. I want to laugh, but that would just make my head hurt even more.

This isn’t how it should be.
I am unhappy, here.

==================================================

I run from my car to the doors of the preschool, then slow down in order to appear calm and cool as I head towards the extended daycare classroom. I swing the door wide open and before I can take 3 steps into the classrom, I’m attacked by a 3-foot force that wraps its arms around my legs and almost brings me down.
I gather him in my arms, and he places his head on my shoulder for more than a split second this time.
“Let’s go home,” I whisper in his ear.
“Yeah.”

I am happy, here.

Playing Favorites

We are now at that delightful “Favorites” phase of preschooler-hood. The one where it REALLY matters what one’s favorite color, food, superhero character, fruit, car, etc all are. You get the picture. Easy, fun phase to share with my growing child, right?

WRONG! Because guess what? Now that he knows about favorites, he wants to know all about what mine are! And friends, that is a problem. Because this one here, the one whose words you’re reading (and thank you for that by the way, it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated!), has recently realized that she has major committment issues. And yes, those issues apply to something as trivial as choosing a favorite color. I mean, what if a better one comes strolling along one day, and I’ve already tethered myself to YELLOW? Or worse, what if the anxiety rising in my throat as he keeps asking me repeatedly “What color, mama, What color?! Mama? What COLORRRRRRRR??” drives me to choose that pukey shade of green?

So for that reason, I’ve chosen to stop choosing a favorite ANYTHING. You know, in case something better comes along. Exceptions:

– My husband: I married him. So yeah. He gets to be my favorite husband.

– My kid: Yeah, no-brainer.

– Brad Pitt: Obvious.

– All of you: My favorite blog readers. BBRFs (Best Blog Reader Friends)

And now I shall stop spewing noise into the universe, and go eat my favorite snack! (Which is…. I seriously have no clue)

Preschooler Car Talk – 10/4/2010

“I said no! You already had candy. Pie is sweet and has sugar in it, and… and… More sugar will ruin your dinner! And your teeth!”

Not very convincing, nor very strategic, for that matter. It’s called seat-of-the-pants, driver-seat parenting.

“Mama! Mama! Ma..”

“No.”

“But mamaaaa!”

“No. I already told y..”

“mama guess what sweet tings get on da front of your tongue and salty tings goes in da back!”

Panting. Victorious. He just got the last word.

‘Cause after that one, I had no words. Just smiles. And a vow to feed him pie tonight.

Journey to Acceptance

Sunday morning. 6:25 am. I step outside our building and stand for a minute in the darkness that lies between nighttime and daybreak. I pause as I gauge whether this Utah morning is going to welcome me, take me in, and fill me with life, or whether she is going to push me back, making it hard to breathe and turning my legs to lead. Up until now we’ve been playing a game of push-pull, alternately accepting then rejecting being brought into each others’ lives. This morning, however, I feel embraced by the darkness, as if we are both too sleepy to put up too much of a fight. So I move forward with my plan.

I take a deep breath and shove off for my first outside run in a couple of weeks. It feels unnatural to me to have spent so much time away from the pavement, and I relish those first steps that carry me away from the routine of daily life, and take me away on my own mini adventure. For the next 80 minutes, my time is purely my own. I am free to think about and see the world in whatever manner I please, just as I am free to speed up or slow down my pace based only on whatever it is my body and mind want/need at any given moment.

It feels like a courtship, this pounding of my weight against the roads and sidewalks of this place. I strike with my foot and she fulfills her promise of supporting me on to the next step. My steps are slightly tentative, as I am not sure yet what awaits me around the next corner, or behind that upcoming building. I do not know this place well enough to trust it, and I think the feeling’s mutual. This morning feels different, though. This morning, we are at least having a conversation.

So I keep going. I pass my usual turnaround point and go further, knowing that we both need this to take our relationship forward, one step at a time. My body starts to get tired, and my legs can feel the difference between the pavement and the soft, padded treadmill. It is a satisfying pain, however. The type of pain you know came from effort. I check my breath, and its steadiness proves to me that I’m starting to become more comfortable with the change in altitude. It took months, but I guess that’s not surprising. Acceptance does not come overnight.

By the time I turn the last corner and see our building approaching (or is it me approaching the building?), the sun has broken through and is bouncing off of every surface. There is not a cloud in sight, and the brightness of the sun combined with the exhilaration of just having run that hard for that long made everything seem saturated with so. much. color. I quickly caught my reflection as I ran past the door of a nearby coffee shop and was surprised, but pleased, to see that my lips were slightly turned upward.

I stopped running, and took a deep breath before walking back into the world I left earlier this morning. The world dominated by the two loves of my life; my beautiful son, and his beautiful father. I open the door, and the three of us are one again.

Proposition 8

A few weekends ago we watched the documentary titled “8: The Mormon Proposition”. Although it’s been just about 2 years since the chaos surrounding the Proposition 8 vote went down in California, the experience is still fresh in our minds. I think one of the reasons it left such an impression on us is that we could almost literally see the  scales tipping and changing the vote from No to Yes.

Living in San Diego, California, at the time of the vote meant we were able to experience a lot of the controversy and watch history being made firsthand.

The main focus of the movie was to prove a direct relationship between the Church of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a the Mormon Church)  and the result of the vote on Proposition 8. The movie quoted statistics, dollar amounts (of support from the LDS Church to the Yes on Prop 8 movement), and motives as fact. I definitely bought into some of the movie’s line of reasoning, but still felt that there was too much left unverified to completely believe all the claims made by the movie’s narrators.

Regardless, I did appreciate the movie’s message of equal treatment in a country where equality and freedom of choice are the beacons of its constitution. It was at a minimum thought-provoking and humanizing.

Compassion is a virtue. May we all have the capacity to feel compassion for others who may be different than we are in some ways, because in the end, we are all the same.

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