Saturday, May 30, 2009


Ok, maybe frazzlement is not a proper word, but I'm pretty sure that's what I've got. It's like bewilderment and overwhelmed and excited (and more) all wrapped up into one package of me. A big case of it. That's why I haven't been talking much... that, and the internet has been less than cooperative.

I'm 'frazzle'd -
1. To become worn away along the edges.
2. To become exhausted physically or emotionally.
We're approaching the end of the school year and there are a lot of activities, responsibilities, extra-curricular events, etc. going on.

We're soon to leave our friends of almost five years... longest we've ever lived anywhere, so we've actually met, learned the names of our neighbors, and made friends with them, so we've had goodbye plans to fit in to the schedule, of course.

We just went through the pack-out of our house. All that's left is suitcase/carry-on stuff, a couple boxes of stuff to be mailed, stuff loaned by the Embassy (furniture and an extra delivery of pots, pans, linens, etc), and stuff to toss at the last minute.

Work is going to require some goodbye formalities and festivities.

The truck is being packed off to the port this week.

Oh, and there is paperwork, and inspections and Dr. appointments, and the need to find a place to stay temporarily, but long term, in a decent enough place so we don't go insane, but that doesn't cost more than the mortgage of the White House, when we land in DC. .. and transportation... and...


I'm 'lement'ing (I guess that's supposed to be 'lament'ing, but whatever... just take 'lament', and squish a little 'dement' into it and that's my excuse for the 'e'.) -

1. To express grief for or about; mourn: lament a death.
2. To regret deeply; deplore: He lamented his thoughtless acts.
1. To make (a person) insane.
2. To cause (a person) to lose intellectual capacity.

I still miss our kitties terribly. I still can't believe they're gone. It hurts like anything to move a bookshelf and find a puffball, jingle bell, or twisted up pipe-cleaner that I know they threw under there. We still have one carrier to give away and it's hard to walk by and see it empty.

I am also not looking forward to leaving all the good people here. I mentioned our friends above, but those friends also include the guard staff, the commissary personnel, the facilities, SPM people and a lot of other wonderful folks at the Embassy that we've come to know, the people at the club, Ayman, our driver (with his own cars... I recommend him and will provide his number if anyone is interested), the teachers and other staff at the school, Dave the mechanic (also highly recommended, just let me know if you're interested) and Ahmad (our do-it-all guy in the building), who is always there to help, or at least say good morning to us and the kids, who has become like family too. It's hard to say so many goodbyes!

I am also going to miss Egypt - oh yes, there are things I am happy to leave, like the pollution, the dirt, the trash on the roads, the traffic, the noise... but, really, nobody's perfect. In general, the positives outweigh these negatives easily. I like hot weather (although I miss the rain). I never lived in a desert before and this was a very interesting experience, the Nile is spectacular.... and of course, there are all those amazing historical things.... but I'm really going to miss two special things about Cairo. One is the laid-back attitude. If you can learn to just go with the flow, it's nice. Nothing is totally stress-free, but there's a good attitude of 'don't worry, it will work out for the best, god willing...'. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking the bull by the horns, charge of the situation, the initiative, blah blah blah... but there's a lot to be said for accepting that what will be, will be, and just chilling out about things. And two, I will miss the people of Egypt. I have felt VERY "Welcome in Egypt!". Sincerely so. No matter where we go or what we are doing, I have always run into people who feel it is their personal responsibility to make us feel welcome and cared for. Again, there are exceptions... there are some hating and hateful, ignorant and harassing types out there, but they do not represent the majority of the people we meet.

Less seriously, I lament the fact that we weren't that organized for this packout. We did ok, but I'd give us only a 90% grade. Yes, this IS really a good score. And the movers did an excellent job (Sea Bird - we recommend them). But I take 10% off for our not chucking more crap, not having things better organized, etc... I know we have a good excuse, see all the above(!), but I'd hoped we could have had it a bit more together.

ah well...

I assume I will remain in this state of frazzlement through most of the summer. I'm getting used to it. Being exhausted means I sleep well, but if I'm too wound up to sleep, I have plenty to occupy myself with while I am awake. I know that my white hair grows in thick streaks so it looks like I have 'highlights' without any of that messy salon business. I also know we are blessed to have the technology to keep in touch with our friends once we leave... and who knows, maybe we'll be back one day :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A wonderful fellow blogger, Expat Mom , who is mother to two adorable little boys, asked a very good question in a comment in my last post: " do you deal with people who comment on Brian`s hair or think he`s a girl? I've had a lot of people thinking I`m mean for letting Dorian grow his hair out (they don`t think a 3 y/o is old enough to choose) and I`m not really sure what to say back!"

I tell people that we believe in choices. Giving the kids as many choices as possible (from 1yo up... I can remember them choosing between offered shirts - 3yo is definitely old enough to have likes and dislikes!) anyway, choices teach a child to be responsible. Not to mention, accepting. A kid who gets to choose their clothes (and I'm not talking complete crazy freedom, but a selection of reasonable choices) does not fight to get, or stay, dressed. I never had that problem. We try to include them in everything: "Green beans or broccoli?" (no fights about eating greens if they choose which one is for dinner), "Underpants and potty, or diapers?" (no trauma and drama; do-it-yourself potty training), "You're in time out! Do you want me to go away, or sit with you?" (this little bit of control seems to encourage them to regain control of emotions and anger). Sometimes they do NOT get choices. Sometimes they lose the chance to keep a choice that was already given because of behavior or some other reason, but that's part of the learning process. We give them as much as we reasonably can - and they know it.

Giving a child the chance to practice making choices about themselves and their life, as they grow, seems a lot kinder, than just dumping all that responsibility on them once they reach a randomly set age - "Ok, you're 10 now... be's all on you now, don't screw it up... GO!".

And it evolves... now I tell my son "You are messing around and not getting your homework done, you can continue this if you need the break, that's fine, but you're using up your after school playdate time - it's up to you." or to my daughter "You seem a bit tired and cranky - do you want to reschedule a playdate for tomorrow? Or go home and rest and play a little later, but for a shorter time?" I can't read their minds. I can't feel their emotions or physical energy levels. I mean, I am their mom... I am actually pretty good at that psychic stuff when it comes to my kids! But seriously, who is the BEST one to know what they really need, like, or feel? They are. They're not pros at this decision making now... they're kids! They still need our help and guidance, but they've had lots of practice at being responsible for themselves, so when given choices like this they will think about it and often make very good decisions, even if it means giving up a playdate because they know they're too tired. They are also learning to negotiate and suggest alternatives to choices in a non-argumentative, non-whiny manner: "I don't want to clean my room for 10 minutes now. If you let me do this instead, I'll clean for 20 minutes later." Sometimes we agree to their counter-offer. Sometimes not... just like real life! So, this is also a great skill.

And yes... mom and dad ALWAYS retain veto power.

We also sometimes face the "But I don't want to do that!", or "It's not fair!", or other back-talk, uncooperative, behavior that people often associate with kids who are given too much freedom... reality is, ALL kids do this. Whether you let them have choices or not. Pushing to be independent, or just pushing dad and mom's buttons(!), is what kids do as they grow and learn. Frankly, I believe that kids who have practice being responsible for themselves are easier. All I have to do is remind them that we DO allow them as many choices as we can - but they cannot make ALL the choices. Sometimes mom and dad must choose. I also remind them that they are given as many choices as we think they can handle... if they handle it well, we give them more... if they make bad choices, they get less. They do not like less. Our kids aren't perfect(!), neither are we for that matter... we just find that choices are a great tool that enable the kids to teach themselves.

Self-control is a trait that must be done by one's self! We can't do it for them. How else will kids learn self-control without being given CONTROL of their own SELF??? (Properly supervised by parents, of course :) !)

Anyway, Brian's hair. Simple rules. He must wash it and condition it when asked. No arguing. He must keep it neatly brushed and combed. No arguing. He must keep it in a pony tail for school PE, as well as Taekwondo class. No arguing. We have never had a problem in this regard, so he has not been forced to have a haircut. If he has a discipline issue regarding, say, the TV, we do not punish him by threatening his hair. We take away the TV. Punishment fits the crime in this house. He respects the hair rules, so we respect his choice. There's nothing wrong with teaching a child that he should be respected!

Bonus features of long hair for a boy: No sunburned scalp! He's fair skinned so this is a very good thing. Also, his hair stays out of his face better than any medium length cut. Once tied up, it stays back... totally unlike mine!

And how does Brian handle questions about his hair, or being mistaken for a girl... even when it's OBVIOUS (even to him) that the person is doing it on purpose...(note to people who do this: Just because a person is young, does NOT mean they are stupid.) Brian doesn't care. No, I cannot read his mind, but he does not even muster up the emotion or energy to get annoyed or excited about it. He is completely "whatever". If someone repeats the mistake more than once, he'll simply tell them "I'm not a girl, I'm a boy - I just don't like haircuts." (Or, "I like long hair"). Many people are genuine, and when corrected... even politely!... are very flustered and apologetic... Brian just tells them "It's ok, it happens all the time."

Kids can be very sensitive about their looks, their clothes, etc., and Brian is reaching the age where this is serious business! But I think he's built a solid foundation of self-confidence about his appearance and dealing with others who think he should cut his hair or otherwise conform to what they think is proper. I haven't been trying to encourage him to keep his hair long either. I have mentioned that if he wants his hair cut, I prefer that he does so because HE wants it cut, not because he is upset about teasing. (Not that that has ever been an issue. He tells me he understands and doesn't care what people say - it's his hair). I always offer haircuts. I always tell him that if he does cut it and doesn't like it short, he can grow it back. We'll let him.

Long hair isn't emotionally damaging. Nor is he effeminate, not that it matters. He is a boy, with long hair, and that's that... no more of a big deal than if he was a boy, with medium hair, or a boy, with short hair, or a boy with no hair. This "whatever" attitude concerning people who judge others based on their appearance is exactly what we want for him - he's not upset about them, not hateful about it, just "Whatever dude...." in a neutral manner. Long hair isn't physically damaging either. It's not like piercings or tattoos that could permanently scar. We'll protect him from those until he is old enough to have a job and drivers license... and then he can make his own choices. After all, by then he'll have had a lot of practice being responsible for himself.

Just for fun.. here's a favorite old tune by the Charlie Daniel's Band, poking fun at biased, ignorant, and prejudiced attitudes - remember this? Lyrics :

Friday, May 22, 2009

Writer's Cafe

Brian's class has been working on a variety of writing assignments throughout the school year and this week his class hosted a Writer's Cafe in order to share their work.
I arrived and glanced over the menu. There was a great selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts for my listening pleasure. Brian took my order:
Delivered it to the table.
And read my selections to me!
After reading, Brian brought me a juice and a plate of snacks. Then his teacher handed out certificates to each of the students, rewarding each for what they've contributed to the class during the year. It was a very sweet and personal tribute for each student. Brian's certificate said that he was the most curious and independent.

What a great way to spend the morning with my son!

Thar be pirates...

Brian's class put on a nice play called "The King and Queen Who Wouldn't Speak". They practiced for a long time and did a great job. Brian was able to participate in most of the dress rehearsals, but we all missed the show for the parents because our whole family was down with flu-like cooties. It's been going around and it was finally our turn. Bad timing as it made Brian miss his concert and this play too. We enjoyed the rehearsals though... and doesn't Brian make a great pirate? :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Blue plus red not about purple. At least not for this post. This post is about Taekwondo testing, and our son, of whom I am always so proud, who tested recently and earned a red stripe on his blue belt. He went into this test with a little less confidence than for previous tests, but with an attitude to do his best no matter what. He did his best, and he passed!

A video of his poomse:

and breaking his boards:

I hope we end up in a place with a good TKD school, or other martial arts, where ever we live next. I don't want to push Brian to continue any sport. It should be his choice, but I hope he continues with martial arts. It's a healthy discipline and he's doing pretty well with it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My angels - proof

I've been trying to explain to the kids that our cats are not 'gone' but have instead, gone ahead. They were sweet and loving kitties and are 'angels in kitty heaven' now. A dear friend found the following artwork and sent it to us. Look and you will find our angels in this beautiful picture. (Thank you Leila! I love this!)
(Thanks to the artist - I am borrowing this without permission. I hope in this personal use, I can be forgiven.)

I do not have an answer to what comes after life - but I do not worry about defining it. I understand that some people take comfort in trying to define the unknowable, and that's a good thing, but to me, it doesn't matter. Why bother trying to put a label on it if there is no one to tell me if I am right or wrong? I'll find out when I get there. And, I cannot change it once I'm there. What will be, will be. Now, in this current life, I cannot see the afterlife, or touch it, or affect it... therefore I must believe that the only thing in my control, is this life, and I do believe that what I make of it, will translate into what happens in the next... because I do believe we have souls that carry on. I believe we have a responsibility to our souls.. and part of that responsibility is respecting the souls of others, even those who are not human.

I am not Christian, but I find a lot of lovely wisdom in the Bible. I believe my spirit should be inclusive, not exclusive, so I am pleased when I find solace in any religious and/or spiritual work:

From Genesis:
20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls, and let fowl fly above the earth in the expanse of the heavens. 21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living soul that moves with which the waters swarm, after their kind, and every winged fowl after its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply on the earth. 23 And there was evening, and there was morning a fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth, after their kind. And it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind. And God saw that it was good.
I have found variations of this verse using 'creature' rather than 'soul', but I also found this Hebrew definition:

Scofield Reference Notes

The sixth day: (1) the fecundity of the earth after the creative work of the fifth day.

[2] living creature

"Creature," Heb. nephesh, trans. soul in Gen 2.7 and usually. In itself nephesh, or soul, implies self-conscious life, as distinguished from plants, which have unconscious life. In the sense of self-conscious life animals also have "soul." See verses Gen 1:26,27 2:7,21-23. See Scofield Note: "Gen 1:26".

Anyone who has ever loved and been loved by an animal, knows that animals are self-aware and have souls, which should give us all a deeper understanding of our responsibility to our fellow creatures. I'm not suggesting we must all turn vegetarian or else go to hell! I believe that nature was created/evolved to be as it is and there truly is a food web that works... why fight our omnivorous place in it? But we should be responsible about our place in this web. There is plenty of room for conservation, and even more room for kindness.

The Holy Quran also speaks of the souls of animals and their afterlife:

There is no creature crawling on the earth or flying creature, flying on its wings, who are not communities just like yourselves - We have not omitted anything from the Book - then they will be gathered to their Lord. (Surat al-An'am, 38)

Do you not see that everyone in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah, as do the birds with their outspread wings? Each one knows its prayer and glorification. Allah knows what they do. (Surat an-Nur, 41)

Rather pretty to think of birds with outspread wings, in prayer.

I also liked this bit about animals in Islam:

The Holy Prophet(s) used to say: "Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself." (Wisdom of Prophet Mohammad(s); Muhammad Amin; The Lion Press, Lahore, Pakistan; 1945).

According to the learned commentators of the Qur'an Majeed….animals all live a life, individual and social, like members of a human commune. In other words, they are like communities in their own right and not in relation to human species or its values. These details have been mentioned to emphasize the point that even those species which are generally considered as insignificant or even dangerous deserve to be treated as communities; that their intrinsic and not perceptible values should be recognized, irrespective of their usefulness or their apparent harmfulness."

The significant point to note is that, physically, man has been put in the same bracket as all other species. The following Hadith leaves no ambiguity in the scene in which the Qur'an Majeed uses the word 'community': Abu Huraira reported the Prophet(s) as telling of an incident that happened to another prophet in the past. This prophet was stung by an ant and, in anger, he ordered the whole of the ants' nest to be burned. At this, God reprimanded this prophet in these words: 'because one ant stung you, you have burned a whole community which glorified Me'. (Bukhari and Muslim).
And while it is good to gain wisdom from those who came before... the wise and the learned and the time proven... wisdom can also be found, surprisingly, in some of the fluff-filled silliness that washes up in our email in-boxes. Take this example:
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.' The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. 'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ramses angel

Last night, as we went to bed, we found our little cat Ramses had passed away. He had always been very skinny and frail, and only became more so as he aged. He'd had to have surgery as a kitten merely to survive (he could not eat enough, and pass it through to his intestines, to thrive - surgery helped, but he was always very thin). He missed his big brother Misty very, very much. He'd never had a good prognosis, but he'd always kept on going. We had hoped that he would keep on doing so, that we would be with us longer. We'd been giving him lots of attention and extra love. He'd even been active and playful enough this past week to learn a new trick... Honor would hold a basket and ask him to get in, he would, and she'd carry him around the house for a ride... he also re-discovered the fun of sitting on my lap and 'helping' me as I used the sewing machine. But he was distressed and lonely too. Maybe he got a cold? Maybe his heart was stressed? This came on suddenly, but was not too unexpected given his long term, general condition.

Ramses was always my special baby. Siamese cats can be very personable anyway, but Ramses demanded love and attention from all who knew him. I cannot believe we have lost both of our kitties so suddenly. I am not handling this loss very well. I guess it was easier with Misty because he was a 'mature adult/elderly cat'. Ramses was at the end, as he always was, my baby. He was so sweet and trusting and needy. He was a baby, and babies do not die of old age. My brain tells me I'm wrong, I know that Ramses was as old as, and definitely more frail than, Misty, but my brain says that our kitty-baby was stolen away wrongly.

I am glad that Misty and Ramses are together... but our home is so much emptier now. He missed cuddling with his big brother while the kids were in school, and adopted this big toy sheep to snuggle... now he's with his real buddy again.

His first toy was a small furry mouse, tied to the string of a giant batman helium filled mylar balloon.

He later found 'the pink thing' ... an ugly knobbly cloth cat toy, bright pink, with a bell on its tail... he loved that toy so much he would beg to play fetch. We had to hide it at night.

When we lived in a house with a mail slot on the door, he trained all who used it to play tug of war... we were used to mail and papers delivered with claw marks.

He was afraid of new flooring and could meow loudly for 550 miles.

He loved to gaze lovingly into my eyes, and would grab my face with his paw to make sure I gazed at him when it was gazing time.

He lay across my tummy and purred at the babies when I was pregnant with them, he lay under the babies on my tummy... who needs a special boppy pillow?... as I nursed them.

He snuggled. It's hard to find a picture of a sleeping child without a snuggling Ramses.

As the kids got big enough to crawl, he followed them around and played with or near them... there are times that I am sure he knew what he was doing when he made them laugh.

He trusted the kids to 'drive' him madly around the house in the laundry basket.

He has been a constant companion and cuddle buddy to both of the kids as they've grown, and demanded attention from each as they came home from school... he'd hide in the entry closet to make sure he was the first at the door to greet the kids.

He loved. Ramses loved us. He loved our kids. He loved our visitors, friends, neighbors or strangers, and un-cat-like that he was, he even loved the loud and playful children that sometimes came with our visitors. All were loved.

He loved his brother Misty. I believe that Ramses was definitely affected by losing Misty. Perhaps if he had been a stronger kitty, he may have made it past this depression. He was getting tons of extra love from everyone, but he had become listless and was not interested in eating like usual... and his usual has always been very little. We even tempted him with chicken, soup, ice cream, and fish sticks - his favorites. He'd eat a little to please us, then walk off. Perhaps if he'd had more reserves, he may have had the strength to survive losing his appetite temporarily, but he didn't have an ounce of fat. When he started down, he had a very short trip.

Honor repeated again today that the trouble with having a cat is that you love them so much that it hurts when they die. But you love them anyway.... you better believe it.

The Rainbow Bridge

inspired by a Norse legend

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

© 1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky. All Rights Reserved.

Art Show

I love all the creative things the kids get to do at school. I particularly love that they bring this creative learning home and make art here too. Just today, Honor got an old water bottle, peeled all the labels off, decorated it with frogs, fish and grass with a Sharpie marker, and colored in the outlines she'd drawn. It looked very nice!

Recently, the school had an art show to celebrate the work the children have done throughout the year.

Brad and I had walked through the art show on our own, after dropping the kids off at their classes, and had seen this collection of masks, labeled with Brian's class code, but we were not sure which was his. We looked for his favorite colors, but nothing jumped out at us as his work. Later, when I went through the gallery with the kids, Brian showed us the mask he made... not in his favorite colors (although it does have some blue and red), but in his sister's favorite colors, yellow and pink! What an awesome big brother!!
Brian's painting:

Honor checking out the artwork of other kids in Brian's class, and looking at a photo of his class.
Honor showed us her art too. What a beautiful ladybug! What really made the day was as we looked at Honor's art, I looked down at Honor... and found a real live ladybug crawling on her hair. She was so pleased to meet this little critter!
Some sculptures made with recycled material.
Brian looks at the pottery.
Congrats to all the great artists! We enjoyed the show.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sewing Franklin

Brian had an assignment for class. He was to study about, and give a short speech about a famous person in history. Dressing up as the character was encouraged. He loves to read... writing is still a pain for him. At least the subject he chose was very interesting - Benjamin Franklin. He enjoyed his reading, and found a picture that he liked.

He brought me this from his book - "Mom, I want to be this. Can you make me something?":


So, I dusted off the sewing machine. I'm sure that I scared the poor thing as it hasn't seen the light of day for many, many, years. Last time I used it, was to make Brian's baby clothes and crib set. It's been awhile.

I also found my tools, accessories, thread, etc. And an old chair cover in a good solid colonial-ish green. As I got my project together, Brian got very motivated about putting his own work together. He did a great job organizing his notes and came up with a good presentation.

Meanwhile, with a plan sketched in crayon, a paper bag pattern, and a whole lot of luck, I created this:

It was a bit big... I really was just winging it!... but he looked good :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Giza Zoo

Yes, I am behind on posting photos and just blogging in general. We have been very busy and I simply haven't had time to stop and write... I take that back. I've sometimes had time to stop, but usually, by the time I get to that point in the day/night/early morning, I have no brain power left with which to write - and hope to make any sense at all! Make sense?!

Honor's class took a field trip to the Cairo zoo recently, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. What I had heard, had truly prepared me for a bad experience, and I was secretly hoping that Honor would ask if we could just not go. I was expecting the worst, in regards to the animals. But we went, and actually enjoyed ourselves. It was an old place with the animals in very small enclosures, but clean enough, and the animals seemed comfortable and easy-going with their keepers. They were very interested in people and came up to the bars, probably hoping to be fed. We had kids looking at animals, and animals looking at kids. It was a very nice day out.

This was part of the kindergarten Egyptian culture class. They learned a bit about the history of the zoo, and the names of some of the animals in Egyptian. The zoo has been in this location for a very long time, and the gardens are very nicely established. Click HERE for an interesting history, as well as this interesting article HERE, which tells more about the zoo, its physical history, including the tidbit of an iron suspension bridge built by the French engineer Eiffel, yes, that Eiffel. The gardens were beautiful too.

There were a lot of feral cats. I like cats, even feral - better than rats! - but didn't like to have them near the kids. Fortunately, except at snack time, that wasn't a problem. And I thought it was fun to see them throughout the zoo... it was as if each zoo animal had pets. Ostriches with cats. Rhino, with cats. Pelicans, with cats. I realize it probably isn't a good thing to have all these cats freely roaming the zoo... because of disease, fleas, etc.... but just try to tell the cats to keep out. Yea.. right!

Here are some photos - I took most of them, but Honor snapped a few. She's getting to be a good photographer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Yesterday was a very busy day... dryer was broken, entry lights needed attention, AC filters were full of recent sandstorm debris (and require tools and a ladder to reach). Laundry needed doing. Cat needed vet attention (routine). Not to mention all the regular cleaning and household chores the first day of the work week requires as well as before and after school chores... whew.

Somewhere in there I cooked a roast with gravy for dinner, and started making some costumes to help out with Brian's school play.

My son brought me Mother's Day hugs, my daughter brought me a vase she made in class (but asked if we could share the pretty flowers, you know I said yes), and Brad came home with a gorgeous bouquet of pink and red roses.. with a handful of lovely lilies that Honor dubbed 'strawberry' flowers for the pretty pink color and tiny red dots.

So 'scuse me that I am late in saying "Happy Mother's Day!!" to you all :) This mother was (happily) busy! Maybe late, but very sincere!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Honor started Irish Dance lessons a while back, after the end of winter break. I made her wait on extra-curricular activities this year because kindergarten was her first year of all day schooling. A full school day is a lot for a little kid. But as she has done well without naps, without being tired and cranky at school or after school, or shown other signs that a full schedule, and then some, was too tough for her... so, I agreed to let her take dance at the beginning of this year.

She had tried beginner's ballet last year, when she got out of pre-school at 1pm, but the place we used before had closed and the other classes that fit our schedule were full. There was a course on Irish dance available though, and she met the age cut-off. I think it has proven to be harder than what she did before ... those jump-overs on toes are not as easy to pick up as you'd think. And they immediately start getting new steps to add to old ones in order to learn the reels. The instructor is good though, and Honor enjoys the class. She has been concerned that we might not have dance at our next home! I hope we do find her something.

Recently the class held a recital. Honor really hasn't learned enough to know the reels, etc. One class a week for a handful of weeks is a good start, but not 'performance ready', but we were very proud of her for being brave enough to participate anyway, and happy that her instructor included her. The girls did a beautiful job, and Honor was eager to continue with lessons.

Getting ready for the big show:
Honor enjoyed watching the older girls dance!

Honor was a little nervous, but her instructor danced with her and held her hand.
Cookies and snacks afterwards.
Our pretty girl
Posing with her proud brother :)
From Whale Ears and other Wonderings