Change

No words, stories, funny anecdotes, or work-life balance complaints seem relevant or appropriate in this time of change and revolution.
Never had I imagined things would move in this direction. Never had I imagined us to break out of what felt like chronic complacency, apathy, and inaction. The promise of change impregnates the air these days with the latest events in the Middle East, and I watch from afar, breathless.

A long road lies ahead, and I wonder if we will have the strength and vision to follow that road, and subsequently handle the consequences of our decisions. It won’t be easy, and will mean breaking out of habits and force-fed social and political definitions and constructs.

For now, however, let us celebrate the release of the Arab voice, a voice that longs for the freedom and power to choose how to live. A voice that has been pent up for generations, but has decided to make itself heard.

Ya sawti dallak tayer

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Dumb.

Don’t be on the verge of getting a cold, and then decide you are going to go outside in freezing temperatures for a 7 mile run, pretend you are going to bundle up, proceed to take off one of your top layers, running in ONLY a light shirt and intermittent gloves, (and running bottoms of course, definitely not bare on the bottom, that would be disgusting and cruel to the world), then act all surprised when your cold gets worse and the sinus headaches threaten to pop one of your eyes out of your head.

THAT’S JUST DUMB.

*sigh*
I need some drugs.

Oh wait, I’M PREGNANT.
I.e., I can’t take drugs without feeling like I’m going to cause science to discover some undiscovered and totally random birth defect related to taking tylenol (or looking at it) during pregnancy.

Good Manners are Bad

7 a.m, still dark outside, still sleepy-eyed. Standing in the kitchen; coffee for me, not sure about breakfast for the little man, who’s been awake since 6:15 on a Saturday.

Running towards the kitchen, words spilling out of his mouth before he even arrives, “Mama, can I pleeeeeeeeeeeease have a piece of cake?” (i.e. banana bread)
Smiling, “For breakfast?”
Smiling right back at me, “Yeah :)”
“Sure, why not? As long as you eat pineapple and drink some milk with it, too.”
“OK! Tank you!”, running back towards the couch, jumping back on to watch TV.
“Good job asking nicely, mister!”

Taking my time, still in the kitchen.

“Mama!”, running back towards the kitchen.
“Yes?”, thinking he must be getting impatient.
“Good manners are bad.”
“Whaaa…???”
“Good manners are bad, ‘cuz I trick you with good manners!”
I can’t help but laugh – at least for a couple minutes.

The smile slowly fades as I realize the gravity of what he’s just said. The little #@^! is totally right, and he knows it.

Tagged! Life is Good Award

Oh I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to get tagged. And for it to happen via none other than the fabulous Kinzi of mytreasure only amplifies the excitement!! Thank you, dear Kinzi, for putting me on the map! (Literally, you probably brought in more than half the page views to my site) :)

So, here goes:

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren’t anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

I tried being anonymous for a while on my previous blog, CafeLulu, but that didn’t work out very well, since I have a big mouth and can’t help but tell everyone everything. :)
I wondered for a long time about whether I should stay anonymous, but felt like the things I would be writing about would probably give my identity away anyway.
Short answer: I don’t regret not being anonymous.

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side
Up until last week, I was pretty much in denial that I had actually moved from San Diego, California, (which happened 9 months ago). The stubbornness that is my mind kept me thinking, fantasizing, and even planning what I was going to do and where I was going to go once I got back “home”, presumably as soon as within a matter of weeks.  

Oh wait. That might be called psychosis, not stubbornness. Whatever.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

An amazing gift – the ability to harbor and grow one life within another.

I.e., I see my body expanding in directions that shouldn’t be allowed, but hey, the end-result is worth it, right? :)

I also see someone who wants to do the right thing, and who is trying to find her truth in the jungle that is her current life.

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?

Lemonade with so much fresh mint mixed in that the drink is actually green. Chilled. Slushy. Yummy. Amman.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

Run. The pleasure I derive from pounding the pavement (or the Treadmill, in this current snowy freezing weather), has no match, and allows me to unload my frustrations and anxieties, leaving me more calm than before.

I also love to read, and after noticing I haven’t been doing enough of that since having a child, this year I’ve given up a lot of unnecessary TV time so I can read more. It’s been working!

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

Many things. I want to be more balanced, centered. I want to accomplish the ability to let go of my fear of the unknown and pursue the path that makes me happy, rather than the one that only pays the bills (hopefully the one that makes me happy will do both) ;)
I want to become a credible, published writer.
I want to continue to improve as a mother, partner, person.
I want to be my own boss.
I want to find a way to make a true contribution to society.
etc etc etc… 

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

Overachiever. I was kind of lost when it comes to my personality, so I was probably annoying. I hung out with some funny funny people for a while and tried my hand at being [one of the] class clown[s] for a while. Let’s not talk about how that went. 

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see

The moment when I found out I was going to be a mother, and not just an individual whose main concern was herself and her husband. I instantly became protective, as well as completely and fully in love with a person I didn’t even know yet.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

Like I said earlier, I have a big mouth, and it’s REALLY hard for me to hide how I feel/who I am. As my close friends will attest, my face reveals exactly how I feel no matter how hard I try to hide it. So, why try?

I do feel like I had a struggle with self-censorship for a while, especially in light of the fact that I’m NOT anonymous, and don’t want to hurt or disappoint people who know who I am (and ahem may be related to me), but I think I’m finding (still working to perfect it) a way to still be myself while also being mindful/considerate.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

Oh my goodness have you read my post about social awkwardness? Ok, shameless plug right there. But seriously, I would get an F in Phone Skills 101. I would rather be curled up with a book ANY day.

Aaaand, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!!! I’m done blabbing and you can go back to your lives now, which are probably a lot more exciting than reading this. :)

Oh, and I would like to tag Winter Samar, Nido, loolt, and Susu!

Gym Etiquette Flowchart

I just found this on Slate.com, and it is HILARIOUS. I love it. Enjoy! (And follow the rules, YO! Especially those of you who have had previous “encounters” with each other ;))

How NOT to Argue

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a good person. Or, at least, an emotionally balanced one.

No, seriously.

Let’s take a step back.
So, after living with someone for a number of years, you get to a point where you learn things about them and about their personality.

Illustration:
I live with a man who is brilliant, smart, funny, infinitely logical/analytical, and impressively determined.

He’s also stubborn. As stubborn  – no! more stubborn – than long-ruling dictatorial regimes that think they can continue to stay in power and determine the fate of their people without repercussion.

Needless to say, I’m not much of a pushover, so this state of stubbornness tends to cause many a “heated” discussion in our household.
It’s gotten better with time though, where I’ve learned to sometimes just let things fly right over  my head.
I need to REALLY be in a good mood for that to happen, though, since my fuse is usually so dangerously close to the explosiveness that is my brain. This means I’ve gone on many passionate tirades where I take a comment he’s made and, within minutes,  work myself up to a point where that comment has just caused the earth, moon, and sun to stop revolving, dooming us to imminent death and destruction.

Over the last 4 years, I’ve discovered that when it comes to child-rearing, we are generally on the same page – i.e. we both want to raise a respectful, considerate, emotionally intelligent, confident person.
We disagree on pretty much everything else.

Case in point:
1) Me: “I don’t want our son watching violence on TV or in video games.”
Husband: “There have been no scientific studies that prove that watching violence in TV or video games makes children more violent.”
Me: “I don’t care about the scientific studies, it just makes logical sense that the violence from the screen is unnecessary and is not age-appropriate, and I don’t want him watching it!”
Husband: “Meh.”
Me: “#*%&#*&#_(@^&#@()^*#@(^#@_&^(#@&@#(_!!!!!!!!”

2) Me: “We need to be more strict about speaking Arabic at home, in order to give our son the advantage of being as close to bilingual as possible!”
Husband: “Let’s get a Chinese tutor for our son!”
Me: “It’s important for his sense of identity that he can connect to the Arabic language and understand it!”
Husband: “Identity bla bla bla. Let’s get a Chinese tutor for our son! Chinese is going to be the language of business and the economy in the next century! Who needs other languages?”
Me: “It would be great if we could teach him Chinese, but SERIOUSLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU CAN’T YOU JUST PRETEND TO LISTEN TO WHAT I’M SAYING AND JUST RESPOND TO HIM IN ARABIC?! It’s NOT that hard, you grew up speaking it, remember?!”
Husband: “Meh. I’m going to go check craigslist for Chinese tutors.”
Me: “OMG! ONLY if you promise we will spend time with him to teach him Arabic!”
Husband: “Meh.”

Fast-forward to the other night, when we were having a similar discussion on the importance of a set bedtime.
You can guess which one of us thinks that having a set bedtime is important to ensure a child gets enough sleep and is used to a certain routine/pattern, and which one of us thinks he should just go to bed when he finally claims he’s tired. Which, for our son, will probably never happen, since he equates admitting tiredness to admitting full and complete failure to be in control of everything. (I’m so sorry for passing on that gene, baby).

So, the summary of this whole story, and why I question whether I’m a good person (or emotionally balanced), is the way I handled the discussion. I resorted to the lowest of the low of argument immaturity.

Husband: Walking out of our son’s room, after going in to “check on him”, which he does about 20 times a night, just so he can steal kisses and look at our son’s sleeping angel face. “By the way, he’s still awake. Even though we put him down like 40 minutes ago.”
Me: “That’s because you keep going into his room and bothering him.”
Husband: “He’s not tired. We shouldn’t put him to bed when he’s not tired, or else he won’t sleep well in his bed anymore.”
Me: “No. He needs to know that there’s a set bedtime and his body will get used to sleeping at or around that time.”
Husband: “Bedtime is overrated. He shouldn’t go to sleep unless he’s tired.”
Me: “Ok. THAT’S IT. LISTEN TO ME: Do you want to know what happens to kids who don’t go to bed at or around a consistent bedtime? Do you? Do you?”
Husband: Silence…
Me: “THEY TURN INTO PORN STARS. DO YOU WANT OUR SON TO TURN INTO  A PORN STAR?”
Husband: …………………………”I think you should go to bed. You look kinda tired.”
Me: “Fine! GOOD NIGHT!”

I think I may have been able to handle that one a little bit better, don’t you?

Slacking Off Productively

So I don’t have anything urgent to work on (at least not urgent to my current, sleepy state of mind), and I’m committing the ultimate job-related sin: I’M READING STUFF OFF THE INTERNET THAT DOESN’T CONTRIBUTE TO MY JOB-RELATED SKILL SET.
On the other hand, I guess it does contribute to making me a more well-rounded person, which can also be an asset at work? (I don’t really need help getting any more well-rounded right now, that’s just happening on its own thank you very much unborn child). 

While browsing, I found this: Space Invaders: Why you should never, every use two spaces after a period.

I totally agree. Two spaces is a waste of typographical real estate, and is ANNOYING (just like words that are typed in all-caps).
*Shudder*
=====================================================

In other news, I must be growing an world-class eating champion inside of me, since for the first 7 hours of the day it takes all the strength I have to prevent myself from attacking the closest source of food (fridge, pantry, vending machine, store) and consuming everything and anything in sight!

In other baby-related news, Mr. Big Brother seems to be a lot more accepting of the idea that we’re going to be giving him (well forcing him to tolerate) a sibling…

I think it might have to do with the fact that we kind of told him that after the baby comes we will be able to travel again? I.e. “We can’t go on the airplane now, but maybe after the baby comes!”
Translation in Big Brother’s mind: “Mama pops baby out, we grab it, get in our car, and go straight to the airport and use our TICKETS to ride the AIRPLANE!”

I think I have some explaining to do…

Later slackers (ok maybe it’s just me).

Public Property?

Wow.

Does being pregnant make my belly, which is starting to make a public appearance, public property?! I truly hope this isn’t going to be a trend – I don’t remember it happening the first time around, so maybe the incident I’m about to describe was a fluke? I hope?

So I’m sitting at my desk, headset on my head, just having finished a conference call, and I’m focusing on trying to get the notes wrapped up and sent out.

Then, out of nowhere, into my “cube” (designated area is more accurate) swoops in a co-worker whom I don’t really know that well or really interact with. Before I could gather my wits and absorb the fact that she was in my space, out shoots her hand, headed straight for my belly, and shocking me into a fast, backwards recoiling action.
“You’re SHOWING NOW,” she announces to me and anyone else who wasn’t deaf.

“Um, yeah.” Awkward smile, as my belly can still feel her hand on it even though she long ago retracted it.

“Is that way you’re wearing LOOSE CLOTHES?” she asked, with a slightly smug I-know-what-THAT’S-all-about look on her face.

“Um, yeah.”

Awkward silence.

“It’s just gotten to the point where my regular clothes are sometimes uncomfortable, and I don’t like to be uncomfortable!” turning towards my screen.

More awkward silence.

I look up, wondering why she was still there, standing too close, smiling too smug, almost as though she knew and was enjoying having just violated my space.

I say nothing and go back to typing, and I guess she goes back to her desk at some point.
WOMAN WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO TOUCH ME?! As a woman you should know that the belly can be more private than private parts, especially since we live our lives trying to pretend we don’t have one! And right now, no amount of sucking it in is EVER going to make a difference!

So, peoples, on behalf of pregnant women everywhere, please apply this rule: Please keep your hands to yourself, unless you and I are married, direct family, or close friends. (Or you have consent – preferably written – from the mama).

Thank you.

Four.

You are four today, and I am celebrating with memories. Lately, I’ve been swimming in a sea of them, remembering the last few days before you were born, and many of the days that came after. The simple truth remains the same: I am more in love with you today than I ever thought I could or would be.

Memories of our special rituals – like Friday morning bagels before preschool/work, Saturday walks to the ice cream store near our house, after-work trips to the park where all the dogs used to come to play and knock you down, giggling so hard your curls looked as if they were going to fall off your head, dropping in on the hardware store after a trip to the supermarket so we can see the Choo-Choo that runs overhead, trips to the beach where all you really wanted to do was wait for the train to pass by, your suggestions to go to “da coffee place” on our way to school so I can get coffee and you can get a muffin,  weekend lunches at Jimbo’s, after-school/work visits to the water fountain where you would get hit by the squirters and laugh as I watched your bottom get soaked with water, and so many more will forever be mine and mine only. I carry them with me in a  place in my heart that is emblazoned with your name on it, a place that grows larger every day, with every smile, and every hug.

You are growing fast, and becoming your own person. You’ve always had a fiercely independent mind, never easily influenced, never easily manipulated. Even as a baby you would look up at my goo-goo ga-ga silliness as I tried to make you laugh, with a wiser-than-your-years look in your eyes that spoke the words your mouth couldn’t:
“Woman, stop acting like a fool. That is NOT funny and we both know it. Let’s talk politics – do I REALLY need to wait 2 more hours to get some more of that milk-lovin’?”

You amaze me every day now with your growing vocabulary, your ability to reason and argue with us, sometimes backing us into a logical corner. When you do that, I usually allow you to get your way, since really, who am I to refuse you the victory of a won argument?
Talking to you is more fun than anything else these days, since I get a glimpse of the person you are going to become, and that person is already pretty cool.

My darling baby, my “batteekha”, my silly willy, my sweetheart, my Noah. Mama loves you more than you will ever know, and I can only hope you can feel it.

Perfect timing. You just woke up and ran into my arms for your birthday morning hug, claiming “I’m FOUR NOW MAMA!!!”

Today is going to be fun, I can feel it. :)

Happy birthday, my love.

45 Minutes

That’s all I had in between the time I got home tonight from work (at which time my husband and son were already home and looked like they were going to starve, since it’s so hard to start a fire out here in the wilderness where we live, and hunt down some sort of protein form to eat, skin it, clean it out, and cook it over the fire. I mean, that’s the only reason they would look that hungry, right? It’s not like we have a cold box that can store food over the course of days and even WEEKS in the freezer compartment, and a device that actually CREATES fire for you, do we? Someone should invent those things).

So, needless to say, I spent the 45 minutes trying to come up with something for us all to eat before I had to jump on a conference call for a project that I’ve been asked to lead. Unfortunately, the project is so complex and has so many moving parts that it hurts my brain just thinking about it, and the timeline is so short that we were probably already late since the day the project started.
Yes, it’s been a long week.

Thus, you can see how my posts have been dwindling, as has any hope for creativity I’ve ever had (or pretended to have), as also has my patience for anything and everything and anyone.

Except, guess what? Baby is growing at neck-breaking speed and my belly has started to make a clear appearance. This is the phase where people at the gym are usually trying to pretend they’re not staring at me when I’m on the treadmill, wondering if I could really have THAT much of a beer gut (and if maybe I’d just had a few before coming to the gym for a run?) or if I might be carrying some life form in there. I like to make sure to burp a few times as I’m running, just to confuse them even more.

There you go. You should know how much I care about you all since I just spent more time writing this than I have talking with friends and/or family on the phone over the last week.

And now off to get a few hours of sleep before I have to wake up at 4:40 am again.

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