A World without walls
everyday life while homeschooling overseas
Mmmm...Now doesn't THAT look appetizing? :/
I don't think the word 'carcass' should be on a grocery ad.
Devin has decided that our date night need to be more cultural. That's fine with me! So we went on a search for a famous mosque: King Abdullah al Hussein Mosque. When we found it, I thought it was the coolest thing to note that right across the street from this gorgeous, elegant mosque is a large Christian church! I loved the juxtaposition of the two--the minaret contrasted with the cross and the bell tower! So cool!
We walked all around the mosque to see if from different angles, then saw a little 'entrance' and 'tickets' sign. We figured it was closed, since it's Eid, but we wanted to see the hours so we could come back again. It was open! I got to wear a cool robe with a hood so I could go inside the mosque. It was so pretty and quiet! Normally, they have 2 museums there, too: Islamic History, and Islam Museum. They were closed for Eid. Plus, they have a little gift shop, and the prices were the lowest I have EVER seen!!!! I'm definitely going back--I'm going to take my kids (incidentally, part of our Middle Ages studies includes a little section on Islam, so this will be PERFECT), and I'm going to take every single visitor that comes to see us here in Amman! :) So awesome!
And just to add to the juxtaposition, after having this lovely cultural experience, this is what we found when we got home:
I have 3 daughters! Oh dear.
Well, I remember thinking last year's 4+ inches were pretty incredible as far as snow in Jordan. So did everyone else. I thought the picture in the previous post was pretty fun. It's nothing compared to today. wow. Talk about a winter storm! Yep. We're not going anywhere today.
I have a ton more pictures to post, but it's already taken 3 HOURS to upload the few that I have on here. Not entirely sure if it's because of the internet, or if it's time to update the computers... :) so, I will post what I have and you can get an idea of what our day looks like! Funnily enough, it's STILL snowing outside! Wow. I am really loving this! The snow is about a foot deep or more on the roads, drifts are higher. It is a winter wonderland! And the best part? In just a few days, it'll all be gone and we can go back to sunshine! Ha! Best of both worlds. Jordan has it just about right!
And another few weeks pass by in a blur of busyness for us. What happened to those 'lazy days of summer' that everyone seems to be raving about? I think summer is busier than any other time of year! Maybe it's because all of my kids' friends are out of school, so we all seem to want to plan playdates and outings pretty much every day! The other day, Josh actually asked me when we were going to have a 'down day' where we could just stay at home and basically do 'nothing'. (Well, to clarify, their idea of doing nothing is inventing lego cities, doing science projects, and any other creative idea that comes into their heads that may or may not have to do with the city of pop up tents we have stored under all of our couches--my kids know that if they tell me they're bored, they have to clean a toilet!) We did have one of those...it was either this last week or the week before. I can't remember. It's all mushed together.
Yesterday, however, was a super fun day for us! In the morning, the kids and I went to visit a 'library'. This cute little girl decided that since there are no libraries in Jordan, she was going to start her own! So, we went over to be her patrons. It was so great! Andrew walked in and said, 'This is even better than I imagined!' I think he made her whole week! :) The kids checked out books and read them on the couches. Then the family we were visiting brought out snacks, so we chatted, and started coming up with ideas about how we should open an Abdoun branch of her library--including a database for all the books, library cards, and even interlibrary loans! Josh and Claire had their wheels turning, and between them and their new friend, Raya, I think they've got a super project idea in the making! :) They're really pumped about this, and I think it's an awesome thing for them to do.
After the library, I dropped the kids off at friends' houses for play time while all the moms went to our new best friend: The Plant Guy. There's this LONG lane of nurseries right along the road to Jerash, and a bunch of us have gone over there ever Thursday morning for the past 3 weeks to pick up plants for our yards and houses. This guy loves us. This time, I only bought one indoor plant, but I also found a tortoise to live in our yard! Ha! Our house is turning into a menagerie, according to Devin, but I think it's just super awesome! We have baby water turtles, birds, and now, a tortoise. Honestly, this is what I envisioned with homeschooling--I want the kids to have the 'pet' experience, without having to have cats and dogs, since Devin and Josh are allergic. These 'alternative' pets are fantastic, as their upkeep is minimal, and the kids are doing it all themselves! :) Hooray! Josh takes care of the birds, Andrew takes care of the turtles, and the tortoise (whose name is M'shell--'michelle'--by the way) takes care of herself and just wanders around the yard. The kids are loving having all the pets to look at and play with. Me too! It's fun!
After our pet shopping...I mean plant shopping...we came home for dinner and put the kids to bed...sort of. Josh babysat while Devin and I went to an Iftar dinner! It was so lovely! I ate WAY too much food! :) They are such a wonderful family--and even made special dishes just for me because they found out that I can't eat grains. It was very thoughtful. We had a lovely time chatting and laughing and stayed WAY too late.
When we were driving home, the road to our house was blocked off. Doh. Yesterday, the results of the major high school exams came out, so apparently there was a celebration going on near our house in the Abdoun circle area. We were 20 feet from our road, and they would NOT let us in. I keep going over this scenario in my mind, wondering if I would have called the Marines in to get us through, if they would have relented. It was SO frustrating to be SOOOOO close to home and not be able to get through! We had to take this seriously long circuitous route to our house that took an extra 20-30 minutes and we were both fuming. Not a good way to end an awesome day. However, we made it home none the worse for wear, really. And I think that after last night's intense celebrations, the city is going to be VERY quiet this morning!
Andrew and I had a special experience last night. He had finished his reading reward card, so it was his turn to go out for a donut. This time, though, we didn't wait for Peter to go to sleep. Devin was quietly reading to Peter, and Josh and Claire were quietly reading, so Andrew and I snuck out.
When we got out, though, I realized that we were going to encounter a problem. The sun was still up. The Ramadan fast was still going on. Now, while we're not participating in that, it's not only not good to eat in public, most restaurants aren't even open until sundown!
Andrew and I walked slowly up the hill toward the circle, and while we were waiting to cross the busy street, I had an idea: Inside Abdoun circle are some nice benches and trees and a sort of amphitheater area. So, we sat down on a short cement wall inside the circle to wait out the sunset!
We had a great time! We watched all the cars go past--we talked about all the cool 'stormchaser' cars that went by. LOTS of SUVs and big trucks! It was a busy time, since everyone was hurrying home for Iftar (that's the name of their evening feast that breaks the day's fast). It was so fun to get excited about 'cool cars and trucks' with my little boy! Then we turned around and faced the sunset and watched the sun set--in the middle of a busy traffic circle in the Middle East--and listened for the call to prayer to name the time to eat! It was so cool! At one point, Andrew put his arm around me and said, "I love being out here with you, mom!" Man, I just love my kids!!
Unfortunately, the spell was broken, because Andrew had to go to the bathroom. So we went over to the donut shop so Andrew could go. We noticed LOTS of people outside of McDonald's (right next door to the donut shop)--most of them had food in front of them waiting to be eaten once the prayer call rolled out! Some of those people had to have 3 or 4 SUPER SIZED meals sitting in front of them! Gah! Seriously--I can't think of a worse meal to eat at the end of a long day of fasting...
Anyway, aside from the gross overeating of McDonald's food, Andrew and I had a lovely time! He got a nice donut and enjoyed every bite while we talked about all sorts of things! :) I asked him what he'd like to do next year, and he told me he wants to have an evacuation drill again (like I did when I took the kids to Petra for a few days)--this time it would be a tornado warning, so we would be prepared, just in case. Good idea. Luckily, we live in the basement, so we're already in a good spot. :)
It was a lovely evening to round off an equally lovely day! In the morning, I got to go houseplant shopping with some friends--we had a BLAST!!! I got so many lovely plants for my house! I even got a spider plant, and I'm SOOOO excited to have the little spider plant babies and show the kids how to make them! I remember that my grandma always had spider plants and she always had little spider plant babies in cups of water in the kitchen! I told the kids that we could learn how to do that (I bought an ivy plant, too, and some other little plants that you can grow the cutoffs), and then give the little baby plants away to friends for housewarming gifts or presents or things...put them in pretty decorated cups or pots... Claire squealed when I mentioned that, so I think she thinks it's a good idea! She loves to think of things to give to people. I think it's a cool skill to know. We're going to spend the whole morning tomorrow morning planting many of the outdoor plants that I bought (like jasmine and herbs and daisies)! SO FUN!! I'm looking at my new rubber plant right now and enjoying the idea that I have live plants in my house! Hopefully, I'll learn how to take care of them! My kitchen looks fantastic with houseplants up on the top of the cupboards! I need to take some pictures and post them, because it makes me happy.
Today, we had a nice laid-back Sabbath day. We went to church and that was nice. After church, we had a 'branch choir' rehearsal that was SO FUN!! I had Devin announce that we were going to have a branch choir rehearsal for a performance next Friday, and anyone who wanted to sing was welcome. In the past, I must admit, many choirs have given me a bitter taste. I had one choir I sang in that I loved, but that was the exception. However, today, as I began playing the piece we're singing, from behind me, I heard a CHOIR! I heard LOTS of people singing! I was SO shocked that I really messed up and had to turn around to look! :D I had a group of about 15-20 people that were just really singing and enjoying themselves and it was so awesome! Wasn't perfect, but it was HAPPY! And that makes a world of difference to me! :) I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of ward/branch choirs...but today was FUN. I could get used to that. I like fun!
Bunch of sickos!
I'm sure EVERYONE is wondering why I haven't posted for awhile. Well, the problem is, mostly, that there hasn't been TONS to post about...AND there's been too much going on! How does that work, you might ask?
Well, first of all, there's the picture...that sums up the entire last week of our stay in Israel. Josh got sick while we were in Tel Aviv. A few days later, the other three all got it. :( They were down with fevers and colds, aches and pains. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday had all of them sitting on the couches in comas while watching movies. This time, however, their eyes weren't glazed over by the 'movie monster'--it was glazed with fever. I felt so bad for the poor little munchkins! They were little lumps for days on end! They didn't even get crazy with cabin fever after staying still for so long. Yes, they were sick.
Friday and Saturday, we took advantage of the sickness and spent most of the time cleaning up the apartment in order to leave. I just hate the final cleaning. It gives me nightmares. I feel like nothing is ever clean enough and I start obsessing over it. Not a healthy thing. But, we managed it, and no one was the worse for wear (I think).
Sunday morning, with two little boys still getting over the fever, we started our journey homeward. We only stopped to find some Jerusalem magnets (we collect magnets for the fridge from everywhere we've lived or stayed for longer than 2 days) and a gas station. The car was loaded and we were hoping fervently for a quick and easy border crossing so we could be home by lunchtime!
Nope. To make a LONG story short: Apparently the person who took Devin through the border crossing INTO Israel, forgot to take him to the place to get the car registered in Israel and pay the Israeli car insurance! That's a BIG whoops!! It took almost 2 hours to sort that one out, and after Peter finally screamed himself to sleep in my lap (poor kid with his high fever) I think the people took pity on us and let us go. They threatened that they wouldn't let us go home, though! They said that, "No Hebrew papers, you don't go home!" I almost fell into a little purple puddle right then. Home. That's what I wanted. A place where we could rest and get over being sick!
We made it, though. We got through and back to our home. We hit a little roadblock when we opened our front door, though. Devin walked in and noticed that the main circuit breaker was tripped. I didn't think much about it. So what? We don't need electricity when we're not here! And then... (**dum dum dum--scary theme music placed here***) we opened the freezers. Oh gross. Dead and decomposing livestock lived in them along with a colony of fruit flies...and I don't know what else. It was the most horrendous smell I've ever encountered. The insides of the freezers were almost black, everything had oozed down the doors and out and onto the floors and was dried up. We spent hours cleaning with bleach and any other disinfectant we could get our hands on. No good. They looked alright, but when we plugged them in, it would start to heat up...and our house would smell like a dead cow all over again! UGH!!! So, spoiled people that we are, we asked for replacements and got them...now we are the proud owners of a new fridge and upright freezer. They're lovely and wonderful and I will never leave anything in them when we go on an extended stay trip ever again. I think this happened partly because we've never left home that long before. When we leave for that long, it's usually homeleave. Anyway, lesson learned.
Other than that, we're back to 'normal' life. We do school here and there. We're doing a unit study on oceans. And we're studying Greek myths...because I love them! The kids take tennis and swimming lessons for the summer. Josh and I are starting training to become certified scuba divers. I decided this would be a great 4th grade oceans unit immersion project! :) We're hoping that all works out.
I'm deep cleaning my house. I've gotten rid of SO much stuff already, it's ridiculous! We have to much, and it's making me crazy. Time to simplify! The kids have been really helpful in this process...especially when I told the older two that if they brought me 27 things that they wanted to get rid of, I'd pay them 50 cents. He he he... AND if they want to sell anything, they get the money for it. It's been working thus far. We'll see how far I can push them!
Now that we're back, I thought I'd post a few random tidbits of things that haven't gone into any one post, but are noteworthy, or just funny, and need to be addressed for history sake! :) So, here are some random things for your enjoyment:
Hurrah for Israel...! However, we like Jordan. It's so good to be home.
Today was Review Day, so we went to a place for review: Mini Israel! We watched a 3D movie about Israel and all yelled when we saw places we'd seen (we were all alone in the theater, so it was ok). Then, we went out to the 'park' to see all the model buildings. These people took all the important landmarks of Israel and reconstructed them (1:25) in smaller size so we could look at them. The kids were totally enthralled! In some of them, the cars drove on the freeways, planes taxied on the runways, people prayed, dances, marched, and played football (aka soccer)! We saw Jerusalem's Old City and pointed out all the places we'd been. They really enjoyed it, and it was fun to see how much they recognized without any prompting from me! :) The only downside to the outing? It was HOT HOT HOT!! The sun was blazing down on us. I'm sure glad we went early when it was only 33C!! Sheesh.
Thanks to Jon and Leora, our good friends who 'introduced' us to FS life (Devin replaced Jon in Cameroon), we were invited to spend a day in Tel Aviv with our own private tour guides! :D So, Sunday morning at 6 am, we were all up and getting ready to go! (It still took an hour and a half to get out of the house...)
By 8:30am, we were in Tel Aviv and noticed that it was already 34C/92F!! Oh boy. The sun was out and it was relentless! We walked around and saw some fun historical points of Jaffa--some Egyptian finds, cannons (as opposed to canons...), a clock tower, some beautiful arches and old cool buildings... We ate ice cream and were introduced to the juice shops here. Oh my. They squeeze the juice for you while you watch and it's amazing...
We took some time to play at the beach where the kids were yelled at by the life guard. He he he... It was funny only because the life guard blared something on his loudspeaker, and amidst ALL the people on the beach, I had this feeling it was my kids since they were slowly making their way out to sea (Devin was watching them). I jumped up and as I was running over to them to get them to come closer, the lifeguard must have figured out he didn't get any response so they must not speak Hebrew, because he yells out, "Kids! Three kids! Come back now, it is not allowed!" How did he know they spoke English? Are we that obvious?? Ha! They were mad, and Josh sulked a bit, but they overcame it and made a spectacular sand castle that I didn't get a picture of. :( But it was so nice to just sit and chat... Devin and Jon stood out in the sun with the kids, and Leora and I sat in the shade and talked away about everything. That was so lovely!
After swimming and dying of heat stroke, we went and had lunch at a yummy little place on the street. Mmmmm... It's so fun trying new things! And even the kids found something to eat! Hooray for Schnitzle! :D
After eating, we were ready to try to find a park to play! They took us to a big park--we're talking BIG--and we found a little place that rented paddle boats! We got two paddle boats for an hour and had an absolute BALL paddling and steering around the river! (Sadly, I left the camera in the car, so I don't have any pictures...but it was SO FUN!) It was a great workout, too! :) After the paddle boats, there were these 'dune buggy'-type things that you could rent, too, and the kids BEGGED... Unfortunately, we gave in. It was a four-seater. One person steered and pedaled, one other person had a faux steering wheel and also pedaled, and two in the front just sat and enjoyed the ride. The kids were in heaven! Devin and I jogged after them to make sure they didn't run into trees, people, bicyclists, or the river. We definitely got our workout!
When we finished this, we were walking back to the car and stopped off at a store to pick up a few things for the next day--fruits and eggs and stuff. The kids talked us into some chocolate. Never again. We were passing it out, and lo and behold, it has Hazelnuts. Dang it. Claire was having a reaction, and I had already used up the epi pen! I had one dose of Benadryll in the car, but she wouldn't close her mouth when I gave it to her, so most of it spilled on me. I was so upset! We found a pharmacy, and the guys at the pharmacy were infuriatingly slow-- "Benadryll? Antihistamine? Yah, I guess we have something like that. Let me look..." Then, a few minutes later, "Here you go." Jon asked if it was the same dose for kids (how did the guys miss the fact that I told them my DAUGHTER was having an allergic reaction? Do I look old enough to have an adult daughter?? Really?), so then the guy said, "Oh. Just a minute." So they had to confer for awhile about it, and then it was ok. Basically, they gave me Claritin. Whatever. If it helps... I gave it to Claire, who decided to CHEW it (seriously???) and within a few minutes, she threw up in the car. Then she felt much better. The swelling in her mouth went down and she was ok. We didn't get home until almost 10pm. The kids slept REALLY well. Josh got VERY sick while we were out and about--I'm almost 95% sure that it was heat stroke of some sort. I felt the same way. I had to rehydrate him and we decided to spend the WHOLE day today doing nothing except watching movies. :) Sometimes you just have to have a day off. It's been very beneficial for me as well as the kids. Poor Josh sat in the same place all day long in a stupor. All the kids did, really. They were watching the Muppet Show, and I missed 3 episodes because I fell asleep!!!!! Can you believe it?? ME?!??! I couldn't believe it, either. Funnily enough, I'm STILL tired. I hope I'm better tomorrow so we can do something else fun!
My blog website has been down for an entire week. I thought it was because the host was bad. I've had quite a few interesting problems lately with being kicked off for random updates... Anyway, after a week, it's back, and come to find out, it wasn't the host. Hmmm... It's time to be back in Jordan.
Our cute little trees that we planted!!
In honor of Earth Day, we did a super cool activity today: We planted a tree in a National Forest here in Israel! How cool is that?? We drove out about 40 minutes outside of the city into the middle of nowhere (SO pretty!!) into an area that they’re trying to re-forest. A very nice park ranger met us there and told us a little about what we were going to do… Of course, he didn’t get very far, because he made the mistake of passing out pickaxes before giving us his shpill. Ha!! We each got a tree (an Arizona Cypress, actually) and we walked out into this big field full of baby trees and irrigation pipes. There, we dug holes and planted our little baby trees! Then, the kids started hacking away at the rocks and dirt, and started finding ancient pottery. The Ranger said they could keep the pottery they found and they were ecstatic! So, they collected ancient pottery for a museum… We got certificates for participating, and flags that said, “I planted a tree in Israel!” On our way out of the forest, we found an area with picnic tables, so we stopped and ate our picnic lunch. The kids ran around and climbed on the rocks and found an old jeep which of course became TIV 3 (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) and they happily played storm chasers for another hour! We finally headed home when it really started to rain on us
Once home, I set up the jaccuzzi bath tub and everyone took turns in the Jacuzzi (or jakuzey, as they spell it on the wall sticker). After Jacuzzi time, we have our ancient pottery museum.
You can tell these kids have been to a lot of museums… They even charged me admittance fee! Sheesh. How’s that for gratitude? :D
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!
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