Monday, March 28, 2011


Saturday, February 12, 2011

I am an Arab... A Proud Arab!

For the first time, I am very proud to be an Arab and to associate myself with the Egyptians. The brave Egyptians took the whole world by surprise. Not because of the up-rise or their resilience in face of the tyranny alone, but because of the civility and peace seeking they have demonstrated to the world.

The talk here on the news, talk shows, and analysis, is about that civility and awareness demonstrated by the Egyptians. Everyone is asking "How do we deal with Arabs that way?" Everyone is saying that those are not terrorists, blood-seeking, bomb-blaster, anti-west, etc. that we are used to perceive them as. Those are freedom-seekers, peaceful, democracy-seekers and they are just like us, think like us and act like us. More questions were about how does the US deal with their foreign policy that supported those dictators and helped them stay in power, when now there's a different kind of Arab that emerged, the young, ambitious, educated, calling on the world to support the democracy they have been preaching about.

I was glued to the TV yesterday for hours while receiving the blood transfusion, and those were the questions echoed on all programs and channels.

It's the Arab renaissance - the real elites are resurfacing... May the ripple continues! The youth are our future.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Struck with Awe!

A Source of Pride:

Proposing Project 100 with Panda Express Manager
Whittier Elementary's 4th grade, Ahmed's class, is supporting the James Cancer Hospital for their community project. They have been collecting money to purchase links that cost a quarter each. They hook the links together and run them around the classroom and school as they grow. All proceeds go to the James. In the Fall, the kids and Nicole had a garage sale that we promised them whatever they make would be split three ways among them. Ahmed declared that he want to donate his to the James by buying more links at the school. And he did, bought about 80 links.

Another related project they have to work on is called Project 100, where each student picks a business and makes an agreement with them do donate a quarter of a specific thing they sell to the school's James fund.  Ahmed picked Panda Express and their famous Orange Chicken dish. After meeting the manager yesterday, she recommended the idea of holding a Whittier Day at Panda Express where 20% of the day's sales will go to Whittier to support the James project 100.

Food for thought:

Recently, I recognized that friends want to help, but they don't know how. So, I came out of my cocoon and gathered those friends around me and opened my doors wide. All the ones I reached out for responded and showered me with their care and support, except for one dear friend that caused me some disappointment since I thought she would be the first.

One of the difficulties I shared with friends is having food for the family when I don't have the energy to cook. Cooking on Sundays has worked, but then it leaves me tired and drained for a couple of days, and I start the week on the wrong foot. In response, my friend Kathy rallied seven ladies, from her church community, who are willing to provide us food 7 days a week. I know some of those women, but others I don't know at all. Talk about caring for the members of the community and showing support and all. And some tell you that the American society lacks such values. In comparison to the Libyans I know locally, none has offered to help but for one close friend. So tell me, what makes a society civilized?

Kathy, also, has been driving me around, going with me to chemo sessions, taking me to places I needed to go, having lunch together, mall visit, and bringing us delicious food. What a blessing to have such a caring friend!


My hair is falling in locks and it was driving me crazy. I decided to go and shave it off rather than deal with the emotions associated with seeing it fall that much. I was supposed to shave it on Friday, but then I did not receive my chemo on Thursday as was planned, for the second time in a row, because my blood count of white cells and platelets was very low. So I decided to shave my head on Thursday and I'm glad I did. I felt so good and relieved after shaving. I had so much anxiety and fear from being bald that was gone immediately after I shaved. I was worried about shocking people around me including the kids and coworkers. I was worried about putting people in awkward position when they see me shaved or with a wig. But the shave was not bad; actually I realized that it didn't change a thing in me, I am still the person I was before the shave and maybe a little stronger!

Ahmed, Sol, and some of my friends vowed to shave their heads in solidarity with me. And the shaving started. It touched my heart and soul in a way nothing ever did! I love them for that and feel very lucky to have them and their support. I can lean on them for sure and learn from them!

As a gesture, to include my kids in Lebanon more in my life, I sent a message to Anoos and told him about the Solidarity Cuts project and that he may join if he'd like to show his support. He replied saying that he's growing his hair and don't want to lose it. That's the difference between children who grow up in the uncivilized world and those who grow up in the civilized world. I love all of my kids whether they choose to participate or not. Each has a special place and something that makes them special. For example, Anas is my first baby; he's the first to make me a Mama.

There's so much to talk about, but I'd rather spend the time doing other things for now. Last thing worth mentioning is I got me 2 wigs to wear, in addition to my shaved look, and mess around with people's heads since both are very different. Have a look:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Moments Gone By!

On the 29th, the Sherry's hosted dinner for our family and the Apples. The three of us were neighbors where we still live. We kept in touch after they both moved. Moody, Luke and Conor were born 2 weeks apart each, and each has a completely different personality. We had lots of fun and lots of food!

We also went to the Rec Center with the Kanouns and the kids did wall climbing and played other games, while us the mothers sat and chatted.

I took my sweet time wrapping the gifts before New Year's eve. It was fun; something I enjoyed doing. I even wrapped my own gifts that I bought myself :) The kids went ballistic in New Year's day tearing open their gifts. They were really happy to see that some items made it from their wish list.

Tala's self-portrait with the locket
Tala had a "Locket with Mom and Dad's pictures in it" on her wish list. And she got it. Jan, the family therapist, asked her before she got the locket (and she did not know she was getting it) what was her most precious possession. And Tala said "The locket with my parents' pictures!" That she didn't have yet! How can you resist that?!

On Tuesdays this quarter, Sol has an early class and can't take the kids to the bus, so he made arrangements with Nicole to come in the morning and take care of that. The first Tuesday after the break, Nicole showed up and this conversation took place:

Ahmed: Nicole is here! Now my day is ruined!

Nicole: The feeling is mutual, Moody!

Ahmed: But you don't have any, Nicole.

You can't beat this guy with words. My friend Fatma used to say that my word is always ready at the tip of my tongue. I guess Ahmed takes after me in that lol

I was invited to a Libyan ladies only party for the New Year and I did go for a couple of hours. It was a good change. The New Year came upon us with a mixture of things. The doc changed my treatment, and I'm doing OK with it so far. I recently got tremendous support from family and friends that just energized me and transformed me emotionally and otherwise... Thank you dear ones!

We spent a good Holiday. Not doing much other than board games, movies, some swimming, ice skating, cooking, seeing friends. It was very relaxing and we all wished it lasted longer!

We ended the holiday with Tala's Step One Ballet Dress Rehearsal.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Food For The Heart, From The Heart!

Sometimes, the best fun you could have is unplanned. The plan yesterday was to go with the Kanoun's to a dine-in theater, but the kids could not agree on the movie. And Christmas day is usually so boring here with everything, I mean everything, is closed, except for the movies and gas stations. So out of the blue came the idea of let's get  together in our place and do Emgatta' (homemade Libyan noodles).

It was interesting how it turned out and what coordinated teamwork it took to pull it together.

- Dough recipe consultation with Fairouz live on Skype from Cairo
- Making the dough by Sol
- Cutting the noodles by Tala
- Dry Gideed sent to us by mail from Sara and Adel in Cleveland
- Gideed oil leftover from some gideed I made a while back
- Fenugreek that my mother-in-law brought with her from Libya in 2000
- Cooking the whole thing together by Suhir
- The yeast for the bread came from the middle eastern store that was open but only had bulk yeast. The owner gave Sol enough to use for free

Since stores were closed we had to find a solution for the bread. It was not my problem, so I went for a nap and left Sol to start making the dough. I woke up just about when the Kanouns were expected to arrive. I found Tala helping Sol with the noodles; bread dough is done and set aside to rise... I felt really good. Everything got taken care of without me lol

The Kanouns arrived and Suhir was assigned the task of cooking the emgatta'. I relaxed on the sofa in the family room watching the busy bees in the kitchen and chatting away. It was fun not to have to do anything! After dinner, we had herbal tea with delicious magrood and ghrayba made by Sara, our niece, in Cleveland.

The emgatta' was out of this world... all gone!

All in all, it was indeed a Merry Christmas :)

The blessing of having family and friends... Priceless, for everything else, there's the plastic!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Comings and Goings of Years!

Monday was the annual Christmas caroling party at the Rigney's. It has become a family tradition of ours for 12 years now. We started Sol and I alone, then Moody joined followed by Tala 2 years later. This year, again, it coincided with the boy scouts super game. So Tala and I went to the Rigney's, while Moody and Sol went to the super games. I did not feel up to going, but did it for Tala who really wanted to dress up in her fancy dress and go. Later on, Ahmed and Sol surprised us by showing up at the party. Ahmed wanted to come so he split hi time between the 2 events. He even participated in the acting of Twelve Days to Christmas song.

I was not feeling well, so I decided to go home and they continue the party. Sol wanted to us all to leave, but I insisted. I arrived home and few minutes later they walk in behind me. Ahmed would not stay while "Mom is not here and might need our help!" Tender, caring Ahmed.

At the super games, he had to make a poster showing examples of a good citizen example is. He made one with four examples of being a good citizen: Toy Drive, Recycling, Being Fair, and Registering to Vote. They were all his ideas and activities he actually participated in, except for registering to vote, but he did go to me when I voted and I explained to him the registration and voting process and let hi push the voting buttons for me.

On Wednesday, Adel, Sol's Nephew, who is a grad student in Cleveland came to visit with his wife and four kids, Owayss, Mariam, Omar, and Aisha (cute Aisha). We wanted them to spend the night, but they were hesitant. It was the first time they visit and we meet, so we let them be. The kids had a lot of fun, playing and exchanging gifts. We had makaroona mbawkha that I made and magrood and ghrayba that they brought us. Mariam was crying and did not want to leave, and Tala wanted her to have a sleepover. Next time, we promised!

Afterward, I lied on the sofa to get some rest. Ahmed and Tala came and sat with me playing their DSi's to "keep me company" and "get me what I need". So sweet!

Yesterday, I got up at 6 am, had breakfast, then took a nice nap. Later the kids and I went out, put gas and air in the car--freezing my hands with thermal gloves, my feet, my nose and ears-- and went into the car wash. Off to the movies, we indulged in lunch and watched Tron in 3D... It was OK, but not great. The kids picked it and I didnot mind, just wanted to do it for them. I did not have a good day. I was so emotional, crying most of the time for no reason, looking around me and wondering how much longer is this going to last... I will miss my life when I go even though I'm not sure how could I "miss it" when I'm no longer there?! It is hard for others to understand what I'm going through, and it is hard for me to make them understand... It seems Tala and Ahmed are the closest to that--I take it as a blessing.

The gifts for friends and teachers are done finally and gone their way. The family New Year's gifts are boxed but still need to be wrapped and put under the tree. Maybe today. I think we are supposed to visit friends tonight, but my chemo brain is confusing me! I'll have to call Fatma.

The last 2 weeks I have reconnected with very old friends of more than 25 years ago through Face Book. It's been very nice to catch up with them and pick up from where we left. I hope we keep the connection as they were part of my life as a child, tween, teen and beyond.