A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Welcome to Jordan!! We finally FINALLY have internet...although, I have absolutely nothing to complain about, as some people here have had to wait over two months for internet! So two weeks is nothing. I feel blessed. So, here we are! I have kept myself up to date with blog posts which are all written and saved on the lovely Word program, so I will slowly be putting those up as we go. No point in repeating what you'll be reading in the future, I'll just jump right in where we are right now!
The kids and I have enjoyed our first very full day of school. I can't BELIEVE how much I can pack into a few hours! We're having a ball and learning a ton! I do get the whineys once in awhile...and sometimes it's just oh so hard to get them to sit still and listen to something that I know is important for them to know...but overall, thus far our experience is a positive one. Even Peter is learning something! Today we talked about fossils and made some fossils using homemade playdough and some leaves and sticks from outside. Pictures to come... We also learned the two basic parts of a sentence, read some chapters from The Life of Fred (a math series that the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE) and played with math manipulatives (I got Andrew to count to 100 by 10's, then 1000 by 100's! Cool!!), learned about Vivaldi and listened to a dramatization of his life (Classical Kids--it's awesome!), drew pictures of castles and talked about what all the servants do inside of the castle, ate snacks outside until the bee came and chased us away, and generally had a good time.
Right at this moment, I'm ready to go to sleep--but the people across the way are NOT!! We are having a serious block party right now. Ok, so it's not really a block party. The people across the street are hosting a wedding celebration complete with some awesomely loud Arabic music. I'm just grateful it's not a weekly thing. I remember when I lived in Guatemala and in one of the areas I lived in, there was a house that would throw HUGE parties every Saturday night--the music THROBBED through the whole neighborhood! I could hear it through my ear plugs!!!! Yah, that wasn't fun. This music is loud, but it's not terrible. Devin and I were sitting on the front steps of the apartment building we live in just listening and watching, and when the 9pm call to prayer came over the loud speakers of the mosques, they turned the music off. I thought that was the coolest thing. You could tell the people inside the house were NOT praying, but they were respectful for those who were trying to pray at that time. Impressive.
24 August 2012
We have now made it through our 2nd Friday Sabbath here in Amman. Amazingly, we left church without callings! I doubt it’ll happen again, but, well, I suppose it’s sort of nice not to have any serious responsibility outside of figuring out our homeschooling schedule! Although, we did leave the church in sort of a hurry. It appears that the cute little lady in charge of the primary passed out treats. It was some sort of chocolate and happened to have nuts in it—Claire had a semi-severe allergic reaction, and I didn’t have any Benadryl with me, so we had to walk home really fast. Poor little dear. By the time we got home and got her some meds, her eyes were almost swollen shut. Doh. She’s ok, though. I think she was more freaked out about the swollen eyes, which made her scream and cry a lot, which didn’t help the swelling go down! I don’t blame her—when I saw it I sort of freaked out, too (in my mind, of course…after Andrew’s accident, I’ve learned how to control my freaked-outedness in front of my kiddos who are experiencing trauma. Screaming about it doesn’t actually help very much…), so I gave her a double dose of Benadryl and sat and read stories to her for awhile. She looks much better now. I’ll probably give her another dose before bed just to be safe. Luckily, if things would have gotten out of hand, the big medical center of Amman is super close to our house, so I honestly wasn’t overly worried. It’s nice to have peace of mind about things like that. Silly nuts.
So, we had quite the week this week! It was Eid, so we ended up with a 5 day weekend! Saturday, Devin was gone ALL day. He left in the morning to help someone move, got back late afternoon, and then someone took him to go do grocery shopping and he came home in time to put the kids to bed! L It was a LOOOONG day. Sunday, though, we went swimming for the day with some friends and met all sorts of people at the pool! It was great! I met some of the other homeschooling moms that we’ll be doing co-op with, and that was nice. Monday, we enjoyed a quiet morning, then went with a friend over to the Children’s Museum.
I thought it was rather nice! We ended up getting a year pass there and so we’ll be back!
Tuesday, we walked to a mall that’s not far from our house. It has all sorts of very familiar stores—like Bath and Body Works (woohoo! I bought a 220V Wallflower with a few refills, and now my house smells like a rose garden! I have to admit, I’ve ALWAYS wanted a 220V wallflower. Now I can order refills through the internet OR I can just run down to the mall down the street! Woohoo! After our mall adventure, we took a taxi home—and it cost a whole 50 cents to get home! Hmmm…maybe I won’t need the van after all! Ha! The taxi guys don’t really speak very good English, but I should be learning A’arabi anyway. I need to call around and find a tutor tomorrow.
Wednesday was our ‘official’ first day of school:
Even Peter wanted to join in and have his 'first day of school' photo!! Lovely pictures! We had a great day doing all sorts of games and fun things. I know we’ve done lots of fun school activities already this summer while doing our Nature Unit and our America unit in D.C., but now it’s time to make more of a routine out of it and get things going. It should be fun! We have a little schedule (that I’m SURE will change) and all sorts of outside activities and outings that will be very interesting!
Thursday we had only half a day of school (which ended up being REALLY fun as we did history—we’re studying the Ancients this year and I’m so very excited! We learned about Archeology and the kids just loved it!) as we had a playdate planned for the afternoon. I dropped the 4 kids off at a friends’ house and her housekeeper (who, incidentally is also MY housekeeper) watched my 4 and my friends’ 4 kids! Then, the two of us went out and about. She gave me a GREAT driving tour of the city! I feel like I’ll get this eventually… My favorite place we went to, though, was the National Conservatory of Music! I signed Josh and Claire up for piano lessons!!!! I’m SO excited for them to have lessons! So, they have piano lessons, they’ll be doing Tae Kwon Do/Ballet/Gymnastics one day a week with the co-op, there is a group that gets together once a week in the afternoon to play soccer and stuff, and there’s the co-op lesson/group time… Plus I plan to do outings to other places for fun and go to the children’s museum library on a fairly regular basis… No social time? Huh? I don’t know what people are talking about.
You know you have some serious expat kids when your dinner consists of oatmeal and UHT milk and one of them says, “This is the BEST DINNER EVER!!” Ha!
Today was our first Sabbath day in Jordan. It is just so weird to go to church on a Friday morning right after the work week. I suppose it’ll take some time to really wrap my brain around it, but it is still just weird to me. It was nice, though. Since we don’t have a car, we decided to walk. It’s only about a kilometer away, so no big deal. The only problem is that there’s a big wadi (valley) between us and the church. Over that wadi is the famous Jordanian suspension bridge (Andrew and Peter call it 'The Golden Gate Bridge'--Ha!). There are no walking paths or sidewalks on the bridge, though, so we had to walk under it! I was expecting Grand Canyon-esque walkways: switchbacks over dirt and rocks while passing donkeys, camels and sheep. Not so. It was lovely! The switchback section was gorgeous!
The rest of the time, we either walked on dilapidated sidewalks, stairs, or roads. It was very cultural to me. One of those ‘little’ reminders that we’re in a foreign country that’s all new to us once again! Hi, we’re in the Middle East! How cool is that?!?!? We DID see some sheep, though, and some other cool views of the city from below and above:
We found the church no problem and most everyone knew we were coming. It was happy. We met lots of new people and had a nice time.
In Relief Society, they asked if anyone knew how to play the piano. Just out of habit, I raised my hand. Seriously, though, I don’t play the piano. I’ve played most of the hymns, though, after my 2 ½ year stint as the ward organist in Helsinki…but today, they asked me to play the ONLY hymn I had never played in Helsinki, and it was a doozy. Oh well. I’m not a sightreader even on a good day, and made it through with only a few major car crashes (and a LOT of minor ones…). Maybe since I played so bad, they’ll not ask me to do it again. However, Devin and I are both speaking in sacrament meeting next Sunday, so we’ve got that going for us… And a funny thing: There was a guy there today from my high school graduating class! Yah, that was weird to see someone I knew!
We’ve upgraded the kids’ room to a bunk room now. The GSO guys came today and put up another set of bunk beds and the kids are so happy to all be together! It makes ME happy that they like to be together! What a good bunch of kids I have. I have to be the luckiest mom in the whole world. Although, I may not have that thought running through my head when they wake each other up at 5am wondering if it’s morning yet, but such is the life.
I find that when I am jet lagged, I don’t think very well. I don’t think at ALL before I say things, and it takes a long time for my brain to register what it is I’ve just said. I VERY OFTEN put my foot in my mouth without knowing it. People who meet me right after I arrive at post probably think I am the rudest, most scatterbrained and out of touch person imaginable. I apologize to all those whom I’ve just met. I hope we can still be friends. J I promise it gets better. Eventually, my brain and my mouth will connect BEFORE I say things and it comes out better. That will be nice. In the meantime, here's something fun the kids and I have done...
A Popcorn experiment:
We found a great experiment in a science book (Science Experiments you can Eat) about popcorn. What happens if you take regular popping corn and add moisture? What happens if you take moisture away? Do the popcorn people really know what they’re doing?
We put 1 c of popcorn kernels into a ziplock bag, added a few Tbsp of water and let it sit overnight. Another cup of popcorn was placed on a cookie sheet. We were supposed to cook it for a few hours on low in the oven, however, our oven doesn’t happen to be working right now. Doh! (It was the first time we’d tried it, so it’s good to know that right now so we can put in a work order and see if it needs to be fixed or replaced…) So, we put it on the back porch in the sun/outside overnight. It seemed to work ok. It’s nice and warm here. Ha! Then we left the rest of the popcorn alone.
The next day, we came back to our experiment. I heated some oil in a big pot. We started with control group #1—the Wet Popcorn.
Our guess: It would pop really fast and be really big!
Here’s the result:
It ‘popped’ fast, but instead of popping, it sort of just split open and sat.
Group #2—the Dry Popcorn:
Our guess: It would pop slower and be small.
It popped SUPER fast, and was a medium-ish size. I don’t know if this would really be indicative of dried out popcorn since we didn’t cook it, but it is the way with experiments…
Group #3—Regular Popcorn:
Our guess: It would be the normal size of popcorn.
Yep. Turned out like normal popcorn! We also discovered that if you do a small amount of popcorn at a time, ALL of the kernels will pop. However, if you cover the entire bottom of the pan with popcorn kernels, you’ll only get about half. Interesting…
Mmmm…Popcorn… Now it’s time to start a movie!! J
I had the funniest dream. I dreamed that we were on vacation at a National Park with LOTS of friends and family there. I was in charge of giving tours on boats through this lake. The boat was a toy boat that fit about 4 matchbox cars. I pulled the matchbox cars in the boat over to a floating sewing machine where I would push a button and a small geyser would erupt behind it. Andrew and one of his cousins were inside of the matchbox cars and really liked the geysers. A dear friend whom I love dearly was crying over by the shore because one of her relatives had told her that she needed to climb to the top of the mountain next time, and she was sad because she thought that that meant they thought she was fat and lazy. I rolled my eyes and walked away. Then I was woken up by Peter poking me in the nose. LOVE jet lag dreams.
Summer camp for the kids today was swimming! I had absolutely NO problem sending the kids to camp today! Peter was so very excited! So, I got to work out at the gym and have a long chat with the CLO about household help and all kinds of other things going on, and then I checked my email for the first time on Mars. I had 125 emails, and only TWO of them were from people I knew! (Thanks, mom!) Stupid spam junk. I get all excited thinking that people are writing to me and wondering how I am…but it’s not. They just want me to buy more fabric and order some more books. Oh well.
Today’s school time: the start of our popcorn experiment! More to come on that one!
Sometimes I feel like I’m in Fort Knox here! You have to go through two doors in order to get to our front door. And the only way we know anyone is here for us is if they’re right outside OUR door and can push the door buzzer. The only way you can get in the other doors is to have a key. So how are we supposed to have visitors? Hm. The extra security is needed, though, I suppose. Sometimes I feel sad that I can’t take pictures of lots of different things, but what can you do? I will probably have a lot less pictures here than I’ve had in the past, but I suppose that’s ok. The internet isn’t fast enough to really handle a lot of picture posting anyway…once we actually GET the internet…
It was a good day for Summer camp for the kids! Peter stayed, happily, the entire time! Woohoo! It’s a good thing, too, as there was a 3 hour briefing that he would NOT have lasted through. I barely lasted through it! Sheesh! My eyes kept crossing. (I didn’t take any sleep aids last night since I had had such a nice sleep the night before…and, well, I didn’t sleep well…but maybe that will help me be tired and sleep well tonight? Blah.) We came to pick up the kids after camp, and they were all happy and ready for lunch!
We got home and had some fun exploring the yard:
Put the Lime in the Coconut and drink it all up...
We have all sorts of fun things there! A lemon/lime tree (not sure which, really), mint, lavender…and I’m thinking I’m going to try planting some basil and thyme there because I found some seeds at the supermarket on Monday. Woohoo!
Today’s fun: Art and Boomwhackers!! We drew and colored pictures, then we did a music lesson with the Boomwhackers. Those things are COOOL and we had a blast! I can’t believe I didn’t get pictures…
Monday! For the rest of the world, this is the first day of the week. For us, it’s day 2! I took GABA, Melatonin AND Benadryll before going to bed last night and had a WONDERFUL nights’ sleep! Normally, I wouldn’t go that far, but I wasn’t remotely tired at bedtime, and that’s a BAD thing. I just need to get myself into a normal track and then I’ll be good to go. I feel SO much better today, though, so hopefully it’ll be all good now.
It was day 2 of summer camp. I took the kids and dropped them off, and Peter was really excited to get his little band with his name on it… He even told me to go! So, I started to leave and he freaked out, so I just took him with me. Devin and I were heading out on a 2 hour bus tour of the city with the CLO, and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Peter if he was going to be a screamie the whole time. I think he was really bored most of the time, which is a good thing. Devin and I feel a little more oriented to things. It always takes me SO LONG to get my bearings and that’s SO frustrating! My goal this post, though, is to just jump right in and not be afraid. I do NOT like getting lost, but it really is helpful, so I’m going to just go out and do and try new things. I won’t be stupid about it, but I need to explore and find things out. We’re going to be here for a long time. I should take advantage of things!
We started into a super fun math curriculum today: The Life of Fred. The kids LOVE it! They keep begging me to read it to them! Hooray! I also taught them how to do some jump roping! I turned the rope with one of the littles (Andrew OR Peter!!!!) and Josh and Claire would jump in and jump together! We did it all afternoon and they were definitely NOT finished when I said we had to stop! J
Our first full day in Jordan! It is SO strange to get up Sunday morning, and get ready to go to work/school. Weird, weird, weird. I felt sacrilegious. We got up and got the kids all dressed and ready in time for our ride to get here and off we all went to the embassy! No photos allowed, so I have nothing to show for the day, but it was a full one! The kids had their first day of Summer camp. I spent the morning with Devin in briefings about security and tours of safe havens on compound and getting my badge so I can get in and out of the embassy. It was a productive morning and I was SO glad the kids had somewhere to go where they were well taken care of and playing hard! Peter, however, didn’t make it. He cried like a banshee when we left, cried pretty much the whole time we were gone, and left camp early. Oh well. He was gone long enough for Dev and me to get a lot of very important things accomplished. Then we all ate lunch together at the embassy club, and the kids and I went home to try to not die. Man, jet lag is a killer. I did NOT sleep well last night, and it’s tough to be alive today. I know, I know, it takes at least a week to get over the nasty feeling and be able to rearrange your body clock, but when you don’t have anything in your house to help you and your kids to keep busy, well, it’s difficult. We’ll survive, though, and this will all be a happy memory.
We got TONS of boxes today when Devin came home! Most of what I ordered for homeschooling arrived! Yea! Christmas! So we put everything away and we’re ready for some fun!
We’ve arrived in Jordan! It’s such an amazing place already! It was so cool to know we were flying over Israel and then landing in Jordan! My goodness! We made it into the airport and out with all our luggage and in record time. We drove home from the airport and saw the Bedouins camped on the hills with their sheep and camels. This is definitely NOT Europe or the US. So awesome! I already love it. It’s a fairly small city and shouldn’t be TOO hard to navigate and find our way around. Our house is lovely and perfect. Oh, yes, it has its’ issues, but the size is just right. It’s big without being cavernous. It’s smaller than our previous houses have been, but it’s cozier and there are NO stairs! Hooray! I think a tour is in order:
It’s nothing fancy or luxurious, but that suits us, really. I think we’ll be happy here.
What a lovely stay we enjoyed in Vienna! We arrived in the city at 8:30am and found a large van taxi to take us to our hotel. Fortunately for us, the room was already ready! WOW! So they let us check in early! That was a first! I will HIGHLY recommend the Hilton Danube to ANYONE! If you go to Vienna, stay there. Yes, it ‘s a little ways outside the city center, but not really THAT far, it has great HUGE rooms, beautiful views of the Danube (Our rooms were on the ground level and the windows looked out right on the river! So pretty!), AND if you’re staying at the hotel, kids eat free in the restaurant! THAT was our favorite part! J We dropped our bags off in our rooms and Devin and I showered. After a LONG flight across the Atlantic, I have to admit that it was NICE to shower and get a little refreshed. I know I hardly slept on the flight. I sat straight upright the whole time. Andrew, Claire and I had the middle three seats, so Andrew lay down and put his feet across my lap and so did Claire, so I held their legs on my lap all night while they slept. It was alright. Then Claire woke up at 6am Vienna time—there is no stopping her internal clock!!!!—and asked me if it was morning yet! Gah! She spent the rest of the flight playing video games on her tv. Thank heavens for that!
Anyway, we showered and changed and walked over to the train station so we could get day passes on the public metro/whatever system to go do some siteseeing. We got to the ticket machine and swiped the credit card, and it asked for a pin. Huh? It’s a credit card. There IS no pin. But then we read the fine print and it said that ALL credit cards required a pin and if you didn’t know it, you needed to call your credit card company. Um, it’s hard for people who have no phone, you know? So, our ticket transaction was denied. We couldn’t get train tickets! L We were all REALLY grumpy at this point, so we walked back to the hotel and realized that we hadn’t eaten for almost 24 hours. (Yes, they fed us on the plane—and unfortunately, it was the WORST airplane food I’ve EVER HAD, and I’ve been on lots of airplanes. They gave Claire, Andrew and me pasta because everything else was out. Number one, I don’t eat pasta. Number two, you open that up and it was DARK BROWN—almost BLACK from being overheated and was as hard as a rock! Gross. Everything was serious carbs. I would get less sick eating nothing than eating what they gave me. Same with breakfast. Sugary yogurt, a muffin, and orange juice.)
So, we went to the hotel restaurant that had just barely opened for business and ordered a HUGE lunch for everyone. It took a little while (they cooked it!!!) but when it came, everyone ate in silence and at the end there was nothing left on the table! Hooray! We all felt much better after that. So, we decided to go for a walk on the banks of the Danube since we couldn’t see the city center. It was SO LOVELY!! The PERFECT way to see some of Vienna on our own terms.
In the middle of our walk, we found a park! Now the kids will have VERY fond memories of Vienna!
Then, we walked back to our hotel and watched some Olympics until dinner. It was a lovely, lovely day. I’d definitely go back to Vienna.
Who Am I?
As a Stay At Home Mom of 4 wonderful children, I have the amazing opportunity not only to home school them, but to do so in many different places! I am married to the most amazingly wonderful (and handsome) man in the whole world! Together, we seek out, every day, that Joy in the Journey that makes life exciting!
by Dan Brown
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I loved this book. I'm a sucker for fairy tales/fantasy. This was so well written! I can't wait to read all the rest of her books!
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