Sunday, December 20, 2009

Santa, All I Want is Peace and Quiet!

I'm tired! Been working all day. I cooked, did laundry, cleaned the desk, cleaned the med cabinet, started the tree decoration, etc., etc., etc. Now I'm sipping my calming herbal tea, and hoping to be able to take a nap soon. What's up with the kids today? They can't stop talking at all... All I'm asking for is some minutes of peace and quiet where I don't hear a sound and I don't have to answer any of the non-stop questioning! Ma ma mia!

OK, nothing seems to be working and questions and requests for attention are pouring on me as I'm writing this... mama mia!

December 10, Thursday, was our 11th anniversary. I didn't have anything on mind or planned on anything. But when I came home, Tala greeted me in the garage and ordered me to close my eyes while she guided me inside. Inside, she handed me a card she made and I found a vase of my favorite flowers (stargazers or oriental lillies) and a cake from my favorite bakery! What a wonderful surprise. Then all 3 dragged me out to go have dinner. It was very nice and warm.

Last Thursday, Moody had an event at school about the Railroad Underground movement. He was playing William Hanby. Sol attended, I could not since it was during the day. In the same evening Tala had her Holiday Performance at school. She read a poem about Eid that the teacher came up with. It was a nice touch of the school and the first year we don't have to argue with them about not being all inclusive.

Yesterday we got the tree. The kids are so worked up and hyper wanted to decorate it right away. We didn't. instead we went to watch Avatar in 3D. Great, great movie; I highly recommend it. It was 2hrs and 40min long, but not boring at all.
Today, of course the kids started decorating the tree before we got up. I asked them to take all the ornament down so I could put the lights and streamers first. Appearently, they got bored and decided to take all the tys out of the 2 humongous toy boxes in the basement. After fighting with them so many times, they are now taking 15-minute turns. One cleans the toys, while the other decorates the tree, then they switch and so on. I am NOT doing any of that!

The weekend is over, and I didn't get to rest like I wanted to... again! Well, at least the atmosphere is festive inside and outside the house.
I forgot about Eid! We had a good one again. Suhir and I took Tala and Rayann to Sweet&Sassy for manicure, pedicure, hairdo, and makeup. They had a blast. We also got together with 2 other families and had fresh Eid 3esban, yum yum!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, White Eid!

This year I decided to make duck instead of turkey. It was a last-minute decision. The kids objected, but I ignored them :) Actually, the duck came out very nice, tender, and juicy. The kids were so excited about Thanksgiving and Eid, coinciding together.

Tala wanted to help cook. She made "ants-on-a-log". It was her own idea and made it all by herself. Moody volunteered to make dessert. They both made a list of the ingredients they needed and handed it to Sol. They go what they wanted!

I was planning on making pecan tart as usual. Unfortunately, I could not. I had an upper endoscopy on Wednesday to dilate the area where the esophagus was joined to the intestines, and had a rough time afterward with nausea, gas, and pain. Nausea is still persisting! Anyhow, I skipped the tart and the yams. It was a great dinner nonetheless!

It started snowing today-first snow of the year on Eid day! Moody and Sol are going to the mosque for prayer, while Tala and I are heading to Sweet'n'Sassy!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Aftermath!

Ugh, I'm so totally stuffed with candy! Trick-or-treating was last night. The kids had 2-bagfuls of candy, and we can't resist, except for Sol. My favorite is Starburst--I'm chewing right now. Tala decided she wanted to be a ballerina, and a beautiful, graceful one she was! Moody dressed as the Scream character with blood oozing off the mask... ooooh scary!

Moody had a bad day with Nicole last week, so we decided to ground him from trick-or-treating. At night, he brought us this letter. We could not say no--how could we!

I'm off to Cleveland tomorrow and will be back Wednesday night. The kids had been asking for spaghetti with meatballs, so I cooked that today and some desheesha. They are covered till I'm back.

Here's some Halloween artwork from Tala. One skeleton is on the treadmill; the other two are not decided what they want to do: One wants to play basketball and the other wants to play with dolls.

Booey Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Settling Down!

It's the time of the year when things settle down and we get in a routine. It is nice to have that back this year. Last year was choas, but it was also nice in its own way -- kind of bitter and sweet. I was sick just out of surgery, but Mama and Baba were here and so were Anas and Juju.

The kids and I went to the Fall Fest at Whittier on Friday evening. Then Moody went with Nicole for a sleepover with Logan. Tala got so upset and was crying for a while saying that she misses Moody, and the howuse is not the same without him--true! We tucked her in bed, but then found her sleeping on the stairs later at night. Sweet Lalla!

Sol went to the OSU game on Saturday with Esayed. Tala and I went to the mall for some shopping. Tala thought it was so rude of Victoria's Secret to show women in their undies and in big posters! "So gross!" She kept saying. Yep, agree. Later we met with Nadia and Zainab and the kids for lunch. Moody joined us too and we ran into Shebra. It was a nice, unplanned get together.

Today, Ann Rigney came over with her two grandsons, Corey and Evan. The kids played together for a couple of hours, had lunch, and then we headed out to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D. It was OK; the kids loved it.

I'm still contemplating whether to sign the kids up for dance his year or not. I need to decide today! Things are getting too busy for me at work. I'm heading two major projects besides everyday work and the little things here and there. The company is going through a major re-org which we're calling Transformation, and I'm leading one of the workstreams of the Purchasing Transformation Journey. It's very demanding and challenging, and I love it. I'm enjoying my job to the fullest and am very pleased with my manager. I owe the challenge and the high visibility I'm getting to him--he's awesome! Sol is going through a major change at work as well. They will be moving from the quarter system to a semester ,and that involves a lot of work on his end to prepare the new curriculum. Oh, what fun!

Tala learnt about producers and consumers last week at school. She was telling us about that and said "I told Mrs. Loefertt that we are producers since we grew tomatoes and peppers in our yard. And then we become consumers when we eat them." Very smart, Loli! She wants to go to a knitting class at the library and knit a sweater with a heart on it for me. I promised to take her to the class. She reminds me of when I was young and used to knit hats and scarves myself. Oh, what days!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Strictly Speaking...

I finally remembered to take the camera, to put this baby on record.

It's no mistake, they really mean it.

...computers are dummer than people. Right?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Perfect Fall Day!

Baba turned 80 today! Happy birthday, Baba!

We had awesome weather today, sunny and crisp with not so much wind. The temperature was about 58° F (~15°C). It was the perfect day for the farm trip with the girl scouts. We went to Farmville, uh I mean Devine Farms, about 45 minutes east of Columbus. Moody lost his way in the corn maze and he and Luke had to find a way out through the corn. The trip was very refreshing, and the kids had loads of fun. Check out the airbrushed pumpkins down below.

Tomorrow it will be exactly one year from the day Mama and Baba arrived in Columbus. This time last year, Anas and Juju were here with us. We had such good times with Anas and Juju, as well as Mama and Baba. We all miss them a lot. Moody and Tala still talk about their siblings, remembering those days, and they love wearing their clothes.

October the 15th will be a year since my surgery--how time flies! I can say I have come a long way in terms of recovery. And my family has come a long way in terms of coping.

Last night, the boys kicked me out of my room, so they could have a sleepover! I slept in Moody's room.

I have a busy week ahead of me! I will be in a workshop for 3 days, then going out of town on Wednesday and coming back Friday evening. Work never slows down, it only moves in one direction--up!

The kids just went to bed. Moody is so happy... He kept telling me I'm his favorite Mom! And I kept reminding him that I'm his only Mom! He just now told me that I'm his favorite person in the whole world, and that I'm always calm! lol Sweet Moody!

Oh, and Obama got the Nobel Prize for Peace?! What's up with that?! And, I was disappointed with the LCROSS lunar impact images, kind of expected more; though it is remarkable to be around when such events take place.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Family Days!

Tala graduated in Girl Scouts from Daisy to a Brownie! The bridging ceremony took place on Thursday, at Innis Woods--on the bridge! They served them brownies for dessert. Here she is eating her brownie.

On Friday, Tala and I had a sleepover. We kicked Sol out of our room, to sleep in Tala's, and Tala slept in my room. It was really nice; the first time we do that since she was a baby! The next morning, the kids ran with the camera into Tala's room while Sol was sleeping and shot a picture of him in Tala's bed. They think it was really funny that he was sleeping in a girlie room on a girlie bed--kids!

Yesterday was Family Day at my work. It was the first time the kids and Sol visit my place of work. The occasion was to celebrate the recent $33m investment in Mount Vernon, the Energy headquarters. There was also a ceremony on Thursday that was attended by Ted Strickland, governor of Ohio, and the mayor of Mount Vernon. The Family Day was full of fun--face painting, petting zoo, pony and wagon rides, bouncy inflatables, baton twirlers, plant tours, etc. The kids liked my office, and they were happily pleased to see that I have their artwork on display. There's been a lot going on at work lately. Too many changes, all to the better, and I'm loving it. My responsibilities have increased tremendously, and I'm enjoying every ounce of what I'm doing.

I'm trying to get into a Sunday routine where I do cooking for the week, laundry, and some cleaning around the house. It hasn't been easy though. I had planned to cook beans stew (طبيخة فاصوليا), lasagna, and Tebahaj. On top of that, we had a lot of peppers in the garden that needed picked up and turned into emsayer (امصير). I started cooking around 9 am. Of course, the kids were all over me. Tala was starving to death, and wanted some hash browns--whining! Moody wanted to go to the movies and see Toy Story 2 in 3D, nagging non-stop! I made Tala hash browns, of course she didn't eat them, and came complaining after a short while that she is starving to death! And Moody couldn't stop nagging about the movie. ألهم طولك ياروح!

Finally, the kids gave up and started helping instead. Moody cleaned out the basement, and picked some of the peppers from the garden. Tala picked the rest of the peppers and helped me wipe the countertops in the kitchen. I finished cooking, did the bills, and emsayer (my hands are burning!), but couldn't get to the tebahaj! Oh well, next time. And all in between all of that, I was taking care of my farm, in farmville, with help from the kids, harvesting, plowing and planting... oh, what fun!

Now that the kids realized I'm done with cooking and cleaning, whining and nagging is at its best again! I'll let them be; I have to fold the laundry, then do some work I brought home with me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sing with Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a renown World Music group from South Africa. They won the 2009 Grammy Award for World Music. They did numbers with Paul Simon, Sting, on Sesame Street's Sing (my fav), the Lion King's The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and many others. On their new release, Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu, they pay tribute to Shaka Zulu.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It was during the last week of August I found out that I might be traveling to Bristol, UK in business. I immediately thought of Ayman and his family--I can't go that far and not meet them! After some consultation, I decided to swing by Germany and spend the weekend with them, which I did. I finished business on Thursday and flew to Dusseldorf; arrived at 9:30 pm.

It was the first time I meet Amal and the kids. Although Amal's family are long time friends of mine, but she is too young for me to remember! Actually, she is distantly related to us. Her maternal grandfather, Hussein bin-Amer, is my Mom's cousin (his Mom is bin-Saud). Amal's maternal grandmother is the pioneer abla Hamida bin-Amer, and her Mom is abla Amina bin-Amer.

We didn't tell anyone that I'd be going to Dusseldorf. My family and Amal's were happily surprised to see me on Skype video with them. I knew Mama and Baba would be happy as they would take it as a sign of good health for me.

Safoo was so sweet, she took to me at once with very little shyness. She loves painting and she does a good job at that. Doody is another story. He would stare at me and then burst out crying! He would follow me with his eyes and then cry again. Hours later, he started smiling to me--Yay! I couldn't help but cry and cry when I hugged Amal and Ayman. It's been 10 years since I've seen my baby brother ~sniff sniff~

My stay in Dusseldorf was very short, but very refreshing. There was no pressure of any sort; I was there just to enjoy the company--their wonderful company. We stayed up till almost 4 am every night, we'd get up around 11, chat, play with Safoo and Doody, went out for seafood (had yummy mussels), walked around city center, took some naps... Amal is such a sweetie, very low-keyed, calm, polite, and caring. She and Ayman make an awesome couple!

Moody and Tala relate to them differently now. They realize they are real flesh and blood not just voices over the phone and images over the webcam. I can't wait till we all get together.

It was such a wonderful feeling to be with a sibling again. Ayman and I went down memory lane, laughed and rejoiced at things long gone and forgotten. Being with them four filled me with calm, happiness, and peace that is still with me. It feels like a broken link in my life was reconnected.

I love you, guys! Keep counting... lol


Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy 7th to Lella Minor

Last Wednesday Lella Sgheera turned 7, her birthday coinciding with the start of the new school year. She was more excited than usual, looking forward to taking little treats on the first day, and of course being in the spotlight doesn't hurt. She is growing bigger and brighter, but she is still full of that quality we call innocence. I think innocence is another word for pure objectivity, and everything follows from that. Tala still thinks on her own wavelength, but she is extremely precise, and it is so much fun when we pay attention. "C'mon guys, finish your breakfast, it is 8 o'clock!" Tala's response: "You mean it is 7:51?" This is also the one who asked me once, "Dad, are we giants to ants?" And of course, my favorite is her definition of a nap as "lower-case sleep."

Tala is constantly coming up with fresh ideas. On Tuesday they had the "walk through" school, where kids go to check out their new classrooms, take their supplies and meet the teachers. The kids went with Nicole, and according to her Tala was in top form that day. At one time, as her classroom was crowding with other kids and adult companions, Tala got up and starting waving her hand and shouting,"Excuse me! I have an announcement. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am going to bring brownies, so make sure you don't miss school tomorrow." Then she still told everyone who walked into the room afterward. When they got home, Tala told Nicole that the following day when she brings them home, she should let Moody say "The last one in the house is a rotten egg," then race in, hide with him inside, then yell "SUPRISE!" when Tala gets in. Nicole asked, "But how can it be a surprise if you're planning the whole thing?" Tala's reply was, "But I can forget by tomorrow!" I love that girl.

There she is with 'Brudder', who got all the donkey teeth he asked Shamsa for.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stunningly Beautiful!

I heard this piece on Cheb Khaled on All things Considered on my way home from work today. Gotta buy that CD! I just love him.

Khaled: Out Of Exile, Finding 'Liberte'

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shakshooka, anyone?

Shakshooka is usually our Saturday brunch. It's Sol's specialty. Tala loves it. She had been asking me to make it all week, and my excuse is that I don't know how to make it. Yesterday, Tala declared, "I will schedule a shakshooka cooking lesson for you on Saturday." And she did with her Dad's help, but I sneaked upstairs while they were cooking it. Don't wonder, it's the first day of Ramadan and I'm not fasting for medical reasons. Sol was kind enough to take care of us girls.

Yesterday, Tala had a slumber party at her best BFF Taylor's, along with five other girls. They watched Hannah Montana the movie, did nail polish, tattoos, and games. She had loads of fun, but said it was way past bedtime and the girls kept talking, hmmm.

On Thursday, I and the kids had a good time visiting with my friends, Ahlam, Shebra, Suhir, and their kids. Rayanne came back home with us and played some more with Tala.

The kids start school next Wednesday. We did school shopping today, but couldn't find everything wee needed. I also need to sign the kids up at Generations since they are not doing any sports this Fall. We decided to skip sports so we get a break and won't be running around like crazy.

It's one hour to iftar...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Early Presents

This month marks Tala's 7th birthday! August 26 is also the first day of school. She turns 7 that same day and becomes a second grader! It's the first time her birthday falls within the school year; she's excited.

On August 1st, she found this note from Moody when she woke up. That was very sweet of him. It reads:
"You have early B-day presents from me. I decided to think ahead. Oh I forgot the presents are on your placemate. I hope you like them -Moody
To: Tala
From: Moody"

On August 7, Moody participated in the Lego competition at the Westerville Public Library. He won first place for his age group and got a certificate and a $10 gift card from Lego Land which opened recently in Easton. On the same week he joined the Cub Scouts Day Camp, Walking With The Dinosaurs. He had enormous fun!

His buddy Toby is coming for a playdate today. Moody can't contain himself.

On the Tala front, she went on a trip to the Zoo today with the girl scouts. She is now a Brownie. We planned on going, all of us. But I wasn't feeling good, so Sol ended up taking her. She had a blast, my sweetie!

Last weekend, I went shopping. I had nothing that fits me well anymore, not even shoes; all my clothes were loose and baggy. I was surprised to find that I now fit in size 6, for the first time in my life. The smallest I have been was size 8. It's been a week and now those clothes are getting a little looser. It scares me sometimes and I keep wondering when is my weight loss going to stop. Definitely not with the nausea around. I had a tough time this week with the nausea that I wasn't able to sleep well the last 2 nights. I have an appointment with the oncology surgeon on Monday. I hope he can find something to cure and help me get rid of the nausea.

Work is going very well, and I'm liking it a lot. My department didn't exist before, so everyone except for me is new to the company. The nice thing is that they are all highly qualified and seasoned professionals, which makes it fun and enjoyable to work with them. There are more changes happening at the workplace to integrate us more with the corporate in the UK. Change is always good!

My sweet Tala and Taylor, her "Best BFF", at a sleepover in our house polishing each others nails.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's been happening...

I have not been keeping up with the blog for a while now. Not that I'm busy, rather just taking it easy and not inflicting any pressure on myself, be it blogging or other commitments. I finally joined Facebook; I resisted it for a while though. At first, it seemed full of dawsha and very chaotic, but now that I got the hang of it, I like it. I connected with long lost friends, going back to school days in Libya.

I have finished my treatment in end of April and it took a long time for the side effects of the chemo to subside. I still have the nausea though and I'm getting really tired of it. Today, I weighed myself and I'm 5 pounds less. My weight stabilized for the last couple of months, but it seems to be going down again. I don't have clothes that fit me anymore, and I don't want to buy yet. I have been buying clothes and after couple of weeks, they become loose on me. I had a CT-Scan in June, and a mammogram recently. Thankfully, both were clean. My next CT-Scan is in September. My hair is still falling out a lot, I hope it stops!

My li'l brother, Ayman, is in Germany preparing for his PhD. It is nice to have him, Amal, and the kids closer. His son, Abdelrahim, was born on May 20 in Dussledorf. He is so cute, can't wait to hold him!

My niece, Shatha, passed the high school national exam (in libya) with a 90%! I'm so proud of you Shosho. I tried, and was hoping, that she would come and spend the summer with us, but it ain't gonna happen this summer. She's going to Germany instead.

On July 4th, we went to Chicago and spent a lovely time with Magda and Tawfik.

My friend, Nadia, has her sister and 4 kids visiting her from overseas. I'm so happy for them, but envy them at the same time.

I still have not decide on the Tibra Awards this year. I feel I'm not up to the pressure yet, but at the same time it hurts to see Tibra idle. Gotta make up my mind soon. Actually, gotta pick up my life where I left it last September. Nothing feels the same anymore. Sometimes I feel good about how far I've come and the outcome of the treatment and the prognosis, but other times I feel down knowing how vulnerable I am, and fearing the unknown of what's to come with every test. I need to get over it soon and enjoy things more. I need to snap out of it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Misrata Gets Lioness' Share of Top-10 Honors, Again!

The results of Libyan national exams are out for this year. For some background on the subject, and some analysis, check my post from last year on the subject.

For this year, the Libyan education ministry published the top-10 lists for "middle schools" (9th grade) and for high schools (12th grade). This year's high school data set is smaller because, so far, they only published the overall "top-10" list, i.e., the top student in each specialty, unlike last year's data which included the top-10 students for each of nine specialties. In fact this year's list is strictly a top-7 list because they just left out two specialties (Media Arts and Fine Arts) which had pretty dismal numbers last year. I wonder if they were left out because no one passed in those specialties?

The numbers this year are not much different from last year. The girls dominate the scene by a huge margin, and on the geographic distribution Misrata shines like a lighthouse. Again, you can read my post from last year for more detailed thoughts and evaluations... But now, and without further ado, here are the numbers for 2009.

Congratulations and best wishes to all these promising young people.

To the Libyan education authorities: When will you start recognizing and spreading the success of Misrata to other places?

To the Misrati stars in particular: I notice you with pride. You go girls!