Friday, December 30, 2005

Sleep Over, Red Light, and Precision!

Moody, Anes, and Tala

Tala has a planned sleep over with Morgan today. It could still be called off for Morgan's aunt might arrive today from out of town. In this case, they will just have a play date.

Moody has a sleep over with Anes on Sunday. His first time out of the house--we're sure he'll be fine. He's been asking when he's leaving and when he's coming back.

Tala has grown and "matured" so much in the past week or so. She's past the toddler stage, I guess, and gets sweeter and sweeter by the day. She has been testing a lot with behaviors and phrases. Yesterday, we stopped by a store and as she was getting out of the car, she said, "I promise I will behave in the store, Mom." Of course, that didn't happen! She wasn't bad, just being silly with her "broder." later at home, she said, "I'm sorry for writing on the table and chair, Mom." And she showed me where she did that with the crayon. A third time, she came to me and said, "I'm sorry for making a mess in the bathroom." She had unrolled the toilet paper off the roll! I explained to her that it's better not to do what she knows is not right, rather than do it and then say sorry. She has also been doing not-so-good things to Moody and saying sorry immediately after. What's her point? Just testing how the sorry word works and if it saves her any consequences and makes the actions OK? Don't know!

It's getting tiring keeping up with them two jrabee3! I have to be on guard all the time... It seems that everything they say is to somehow set Sol or me up for something or the other... long gone the innocence! lol

Moody and his linguistic precision: It is amazing, but sometimes gets to be annoying. He does not let a sentence or a word pass by without testing it, evaluating it, and correcting or commenting on it. On the one hand, I want him to keep this ability and develop it further, on the other hand, I don't want it to become some sort of a social hindrance for him.

Tala has figured the traffic lights and the color codes. If I'm turning right, she would say, "You can't turn on red! The light is red! You should stop!" And then I start the sermon of explaining it; but then comes another red light and another right-turn and we start all over again! If a traffic light--that is a mile away--turns red, she would say, "Mom, STOP, it's red!" I guess red means freeze wherever you are--immediately!

Her latest fascination nowadays is directions. Wherever we're going, she'd ask, "Where's the way to..." We just tell her to wait and she'll find out once we're driving there. She has been recognizing streets and knows our destination if it's a place she's been to before. Amazing! When I came to the US, it took me a while to distinguish the different streets and intersections. Most of them looked the same to me with no landmarks. It was just very different to Europe. How could a 3-year-old know one street from the other, even when they look pretty much the same!

Raising children is such an enlightening eye- and mind-opening experience in itself. Every stage of my children's life revives the same stage of my life. I'm reliving my childhood, enjoying my life, and learning along with my children.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy birthdays, up and down the family tree!

Safia and Ru'a

Mama turned 62 today! She was born December 28, 1943, in Derna, Libya.

Ru'a, my niece, Noha's daughter, is 5! She is a Dragon, born December 28, 2000, in Benghazi.

Moody and Tala got to sing them both happy birthday on the phone. Mama was happy with the call and liked it even more when Moody said afwan in reply to her shukran. He ended the call by "masalama." I had nothing to do with him saying these words.

Nahla told me that Ru'a was excited with the call. She kept saying, "They sang to me in English!" Though everybody sang her the same song over there before we called, it's not the same coming over the phone all the way from the US from her English-speaking cousins!

One more time, to Safia and Ru'a:

Happy Birthday!

Picture courtesy of Ayman, taken today... Thanks Moony xox!

Monday, December 26, 2005

A very long weekend!

Red nose reindeer
On Friday, we went to the Rigneys' Christmas carol; a tradition they’ve been having for 35 years. I don’t think we have missed it for at least the last four years. This year, both Moody and Tala were enjoying themselves, and we got to mix more with adults and enjoy it too. Previously, Moody was too young and we had to alternate chasing him and keeping him under control, and then Tala came, and it was time to keep an eye on her too. This year,they were both "mature," having fun with the friends they made for the night and were not tempted to storm the cookies table in the back! At one point, Peter asked Tala, "Do you look like Mom or Dad?" She looked at him and said, "Tala!" I have a picture of Moody for every year we were there; I will post the pictures once the computer is back.

Jingle Bells
On Thursday, something went amiss with the computer; kept turning itself off. I made many calls to try and solve the problem; one person concluded "It’s a virus!" Ha, a virus, "get out of here!" was my response. We never had a virus—we have a Mac. I love the Mac for its high immunity; it is just uninfectable! The price is high, but it’s worth it. Sol had a Mac since 1996, a G4; in January we added the magnificent iMac G5! When Sol got home, Tala told him, "Our computer died!" She must have heard me talk to the technician at the Apple store, and I must have mentioned "dies off," or something of the sort. So now, we’re confined to using the G4 till the other baby gets home. I cleaned it up yesterday, reinstalled the OS and everything "needed;" --about time to do that. The only drawback is that it’s not configured to transfer pictures from the camera and the printer/scanner is not connected here! We’ll just have to wait.

On Saturday morning, the "boys" went swimming, and the "girls" went shopping! We, the girls, had fun shopping for toys and home décor items. On our way to meet the "boys," Tala said, "I love going shopping, Mom!" We’re going for more shopping today--it’s the big sale day. We rearranged the basement the other day and discovered that the computer desk is about to fall down with one leg almost completely detached!

Yesterday, we went to see the Chronicles of Narnia--a great movie. Moody and Tala loved it; Moody kept saying, over and over, "It’s a great movie!" Tala didn’t flinch for one minute and the suspense was very high. It’s a must see... over and over!

Grandma Amna!
Moody and Grandma Amna
Today is a holiday... At least retail and food places are finally open; it seemed like they closed for a long time! While we were having breakfast, Moody said to Sol, "I’m sorry Grandma Amna died." She passed away in October of 2000, shortly after her return to Libya from her visit with us that year. She came when I was pregnant with Moody and stayed till after his birth. I don’t know what made Moody start this conversation about the dead. He asked about "uncle Khaled," Noha’s husband who passed away in 2001 at the age of 38, and about my uncle with the "three fingers." He was asking if uncle Khaled was buried, who buried him, where is he buried, and could he see the burial place when he goes to Libya; then he asked the same questions about Grandma Amna and uncle Faraj. Now he’s set to visit these places when he goes to Libya. Last summer, Noha, Rahaf, and Ru’a were planning to come visit (they were denied the visa!) When Moody noticed that we were only talking about the three of them he started asking about their dad, we told him that he's dead and answered all the questions he had about that. He got very interested in learning more about death and talking more about uncle Khaled. For sometime, he would say, out of the blue, "I’m sad that uncle Khaled died." Toward the end of today’s conversation, I just wanted to talk about something else--it still hurts deep to think of Khaled, Noha, and the girls, and the way he died...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What a Wonderful Time!

Darth Nader
Star Wars freaks!
Nick et al left on Monday and Tala and Moody had a real long nap after school. They did a lot during the weekend, from watching Star Wars, to playing Star Wars, tea parties, and Cinderella. Nick is a Star Wars fan himself, and that broke the age barrier between him and Moody. The boys were two Darth Vaders look- and sound-alike with the lightsabers, helmets, and voice changers; princess Leia was there too and joined in the fights!

Tea Party!
Tea Party
Tala, on the other hand, wouldn't leave Nick alone for a minute. If he's out of her sight, she starts calling at the top of her lungs, "NIIIIICK!" The amazing thing is that he didn't seem to mind; he would just roll his eyes and hurry to her every single time! Of course, how could he resist such a charm as hers! What a patient pleasant guy himself. He's now no longer the "yother" Nick, simply Nick! Got upgraded, I guess. I have noticed that Nick, the moose, has been dropped; he even lost his spot on her bed! Poor fluffy thing!

Easton's huge tree!
At Easton
The Bazeen was another adventure. Nick surprised us by how much he ate from it! As for the rest, a picture is worth more than thousand words... Look for yourself, the most expressive is this one with the notes from "big" Moody. Nick, Nikki, and AmuZam (he he he,) your visit has become a favorite yearly event to us.

Today is the kids' last day of school. Tala is going with her friend Morgan after school today. When Morgan's mom told her that Tala will be coming with her after school, Morgan didn't like it and said she wants Tala to have a sleep over not to come and play. We gotta do that soon!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Nick, the moose!
The kids are absolutely thrilled that Nick is coming today. They just had lunch and can't stop asking, "are they here yet?" and "Is he coming today?"

I don't know if Tala really remembers Nick from last year. She knows he gave her the little moose called "Nick" ever since. And she refers to him as "the yother Nick," with the "y" in there. So Tala knows this yother Nick is a boy who seems close to the family, and it is important to impress him by tidying up her room , etc., but she is not really sure. Earlier today, on the way home from the gym, we were of course talking about you know who, and Tala asked me,"Is Nick a nanny?" When I said no, she asked, "Is he a brudder?" OK, Moody just popped in to ask, "Is he coming at midnight? How many miles from Canada?" Now I'm getting anxious, too. When IS Nick gonna come and take these critters off my back! lol.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

'Tis the Season!

Happy Holidays
Happy Holidays!
It is beautiful outside... everything is white, and it's snowing still!

I finished the quarter last week, but only felt the load lift off when I received the last grade Tuesday night. I'm actually impressing myself with my grades! I guess I've been out of school, out of work, for a long time that I forgot how good I am! Something more to brag about to Sol... lol.

Saturday the 10th was our seventh anniversary. Sol and I had a crazy night out. I enjoyed uploading the pictures and going back in time to that day seven years ago, and the Sousa and Tunis trips.

Getting started
Kathy and the gang!
This year, we decided to have a holiday tree. Well, the kids are very good at nagging and sometimes it is easier to give in. We tell Moody that he's so lucky--he gets to celebrate more holidays than any other kid. We picked up a real tree on Saturday and got the ornaments and decorations on Sunday. Kathy offered to help with decorating it, which we did on Monday--thanks Kathy and Conor! I am amazed: Tala hasn't even taken one ornament off yet--very unlike her. Well, she did pull Moody's stocking off the mantel. It fell along with the holder and broke some of the glass beads. Luckily, she didn't get hurt.

Angel in the making!
Angel in the making!
Azzam, Nikki, and Nick are coming this weekend. Hope they don't bring more cold with them from up there! We're all excited and looking forward to having them over. Tala has been asking non-stop, "Is Nick coming? When?" I don't think she remembers him from last year. She said, "I will show him my room, and introduce him to the 'yether' Nick. He will say, 'What a beautiful castle you have!'" The 'yether' Nick, is a stuffed moose they got her last year that she named Nick. Moody, also, is very excited. He told me yesterday, "I'm so excited Nick is coming. I have a long list." When I asked him about the list, he said it has what they will eat for lunch, what movie they will watch, and where they will sleep. The whole experience of anticipation and then having the delightful company is so wonderful; thanks guys!

Moody, Tala, and Kaitlin
Kaitlin, Moody, Tala, snow!
Tala has been talking non-stop lately. She had some speech therapy at 18 months of age; she wasn't saying much then! Maybe we shouldn't have done that! lol Last night, I heard her come out of her room. I went up and asked her what she was doing. She answered, "nothing; I don't care!" She loves using big expressions even if they don't fit the occasion or she doesn't know what they mean. I tucked her back in; minutes later she came downstairs and asked that "Dad, give me a good night kiss." We told her not to come out of her room again; she said, "When you guys go to sleep, I will come downstairs." At least she's honest!

I don't hear Moody; hmmm, very alarming! Gotta sneak on him... I just checked; he's listening to music, Phil Collins' Brother Bear; and reading a book, Transformers.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Like it was yesterday!

Sheep with a scarf
This December 1st is the 7th anniversary of our Fatiha, the legal marriage ceremony. In the picture are Hana's uncle Faraj Naas, who has passed away since, my brother Mohamed, the lamb-with-scarf, and Hana's brother Ayman. It was Tuesday, Dec. 1st, 1998 in the Naas house in Benghazi. Some representatives of my family had driven from Tripoli and Misrata. I was not there, but I guess I didn't have to be, and actually the groom is usually not present at this ceremony, even if he is in town.

I am not sure where the pink scarf tradition started or why exactly, but... I guess that the scarf is an attention getter; after all, you don't often see a lamb sporting a pink scarf. Yeah, it's usually blue, right? I remember once seeing a lamb wrapped in a Haseer (a matt made of soft wicker-like stuff called Dees that grows around the spring of Tawargha) only its head showing with the pink scarf around it, all on top of a car leading a motorcade. First the car horns get your attention, then you just follow the pink scarf to know who's getting married in the neighborhood.

The funny little detail about the lamb in the above picture is, I later found out, my family actually did not get the scarf in Tripoli, where it is widely sold for this purpose. Also, you can't use just any old scarf. It is special: square, pink and larger than the ones meant for humans. Now imagine my relatives roaming all over Benghazi looking for this thing, where most people thought they had to be drunk or playing some sort of Misrati joke. Sure enough, they found one, a pink one to be sure, and the rest is history. Yes, you can say, it was all meant to be.

Lots of things had to fall right in place, I remember. Hanu's dad told me, she was not gonna leave for the wedding in Tunisia until I assured them that her visa was ready! The Fatiha was on the 1st, I got confirmation from the embassy in Tunis on the 7th, flew out the next day, and the wedding party was on the 10th, a Thursday in keeping with tradition! That's the subject of another post, maybe in 9 days or so. Of course a lot of arrangements had been made in advance (remotely by guess who) including all the party reservations, hotels, music bands, etc. There were only minor glitches, really, everything went very well because it was meant to be. Lots of beautiful memories of those few days, and lots more since. Thanks, Hanu, and happy seventh.