Saturday, July 31, 2010

Things That Make Life Fun!

Tala is at her friend Hannah's for a sleepover. She left yesterday and will be coming back today. Her room is empty... I found myself checking it out yesterday after I got back from work and first thing when I woke up this morning. Moody misses her--on his own way. He was flipping through the TV channels last night and said that he misses Tala because she would be yelling at him for flipping through the channels! I say he misses the feedback loop and the enjoyment of success at bugging someone! What is it with men/boys and constantly flipping through channels? Hmmm? Some research needs to be done in that area. Tala finished her cheerleading camp this week, and Moody is starting sports camp next week.

The kids are enjoying their summer which is coming to an end soon... We need to start buying school supplies and not leave it for the last minute like we do every year. By then, we'd have a difficult time finding everything they need. The stores are already stocked up with school supplies.

Moody decided he wants to do dance at Generations this year. He refused last year (boy's mentality) but actually missed being part of the recital and all the fun so he decided to join this year. Tala wants to do Step One which is competition dancing. That will require a lot of commitment on her end and I hope she can make it. It will be good for her from the physical activity perspective and also the discipline that comes along with participating in such things. And yes, we are definitely signing Sol up for the Father's Dance this year... he he he that would be lots of fun!

Mentioning Sol, he's been in pain for the last 2 days. On Thursday, he twisted his back emptying the pool in the yard... Poor old man! And talking about backs, I've been having back pain for a couple of months. I was able to correlate it to the fact that I sit with my legs crossed all the time. I bought me a footrest for the office, and it worked. No back pain till around 5 PM. That reminded me of my days at the bank in Lebanon. My manager, Lamin Shallouf bless his soul, was so generous with his staff. He provided us with all the comforts we need in the office, including footrests, monitor filters, etc. Here, you have to buy your own even a space heater to make your office temperature tolerable in the summer!

My nephew, Mido, Nahla's son, had a surgery this week. He got his tonsils removed (I used to call them utensils ha ha ha) and a hernia repaired. Poor little Mido. He's doing well though. When I asked him "What did the doctor do to you?" He said "Ta7leel" (blood work or tests). Oh, and he refers to Tala as the butterfly. After seeing this picture of her, he is convinced that she is a butterfly... fluttering by. I can't agree more... She is my butterfly that eases my worries and pain away!

Nahla told me today that my voice and way of talking is exactly like Mom's. It's funny when you're younger, you wish you end up nothing like your mother, but you reach a certain age and it makes you feel good to be told that you look like her or sound like her!

I'm compiling my bucket list--in my head. I need to write it down and start implementing it and crossing things off. Oh, the other day, Moody woke up, came downstairs to the kitchen, said good morning to me and then added, "Mom, you know how people have a will?" At first, I thought he meant well. When I asked him what about it. He said, "You know they write the will so when they die people will know what to do with their things. Are you going to write a will?" Pure, innocent, practical... That's my boy! lol I told him that I was actually talking about it to Sol the other day and told him that I need to write a will... I will, very soon.

Last weekend was hot and humid. I managed to convince the gang to go for a hike in Sharon Woods. We did. We four walked the outer 4-mile trail, about 6.5 km. We were all sweaty and hot, but it felt so so good! Wrapped it up with cold showers and watermelon.

I submitted a short-term disability claim yesterday at work. I'm going back under intense chemo for 3 days every 2 weeks for about 8 weeks. So I'll be taking those 3 days off from work. Some people tell me that I should quit my job and just enjoy life. I find it hard to explain that I love my job, it's part of my life and it makes me feel good.

I stepped out the front door first thing this morning to check out my flowers--a daily ritual. I was greeted by a flock of birds moving between the cherry tree by the house and the tree in the middle of the front yard and chirping away! It was a delightful sound... a delightful good-morning wish! Here's a picture of a huming bird I caught the other day hovering over the flowers. We'd seen it more than once around the same flower plant. So beautiful!

I miss my parents, my sisters, and my brothers... I really really want to see them and be with them again!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Breeze!

I decided that there could never be a favorite season of the year. I used to flip-flop and change my preference with the dawn of every season declaring it my favorite. So to be fair, I hereby declare all seasons to be equal... or equally favorite, unique, pleasant, refreshing and I love them four! This summer has been very pleasurable... Brought us so many pleasures and heartwarming gifts.

Walid, my bro, had a girl in June 27th. Him and Manal delegated naming her to me. I felt honored and privileged and... loved! But, there was worry with that as well. I worried that Manal might have a name that she wanted for her first daughter. I worried that they might not like the name I pick. They insisted, so I offered them the name Nissma which means Breeze in Arabic. Nissma has been one of my favorite girl's names. It became more so after coming to the US and feeling and enjoying the breeze we get almost year round in Ohio (except for the frigid winter of course!)

So, Nissma she is. And that's what she brought with her. For a whole week after she was born, we were blessed with a delightful, pleasant breeze.

Being the gift-giving lover I am, I got her a pearl set--her birth stone. I mailed it to Ayman who was going to Libya before she turned 1 week old. Even though the package was guaranteed to be delivered in 2 days, it did not make it to Germany till after 16 days and Ayman was already in Libya! Oh well, it will eventually make it to Libya.

Another important milestone this summer was Moody's first camping experience. He went camping with the boy scouts for 4 nights and 5 days. Sol was stressing out worrying that Moody was not ready and that some things would go wrong. I did not. I kept telling him that he'll be fine and that he'll only learn things from that experience. Last Saturday was family day at the camp. Moody came running to greet us; he was so happy and excited. He hugged Tala and was picking her up off the ground... basically swept her off her feet lol. Each pack performed a skit and then adults and kids competed in archery for a watermelon. No, Sol did not win the watermelon! All the kids were happy and excited to have their families, but by the time the families were leaving there was a major meltdown... The boys wanted to go home with their families. We thought next time they better make family day the last day of camp instead of during camp. Sweet boys!

Another major event worth documenting is Tala's doing. She decided to fix her eyebrows and she literally shaved a lot of them off with the scissors. When asked why she did it, she said "Women fix their eyebrows!" When I told Sol, he started getting worked up about it. So I asked him, "Remind me, who in your family did that?" He answered, "Seddig (his bro) and his son Samy." I said "It's genetic, runs in the family!" Case closed!

What else? Oh, the garden is flourishing and is looking--and smelling--stunningly beautiful to say the least. The hibiscus bloomed gorgeous humongous pink flowers as large as Tala's head! I'm definitely planting more next year. The stargazers bloomed this week, another must-plant-more next summer! The veggies are growing like crazy. The cucumber plant is spreading in all directions and holding on to other plants around it. We have to keep cutting it down. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and corn are full of fruits. The basil, lavender and mint are so fragrant and full; they please the eyes and the nostrils. Tala is experimenting with making a perfume out of their leaves.

Baba has been happy and excited recently. He received the first 2 copies of his new book. I encouraged him to start the next one and suggested it to be his biography. He's had a rich life that shaped and spanned many major events and turning points in Libya's history. He was influential and instrumental in shaping the banking and the oil sectors in Libya. I do hope he documents those events in a book.

Thinking how to end this ranting, I realized that I did not mention my health. Well, no need... I am happy, feeling healthy, and have abundance of bliss from everyone and everything around me! My happiness will be complete the day I get to share these things with my parents, siblings, and their kids here at my home.

I know I have left out a lot of other fun and not-so-much-fun moments worth mentioning. But time is of the essence and I need to go live those moments. One question lingers: What should I cook today for the week? Sol is taking the kids to Arabic class, so for the next 2 hours, it would be peace and quiet, or boredom and empty house... depends how to look at it!

May Nissma be a source of delight, freshness, pleasantness, and happiness to everyone around her!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Spring, Summer, Science and... Gender!

Summer is moving along reasonably well. Ahmed went to his cub scout camp on Wednesday, along with a few hundred other kids, and he comes home this Sunday. We all miss him, and we're hopeful and happy for him. But a lot has been happening, and I will try to log some events from the past couple of months. In hind sight, I guess the only connecting theme in this post is science.

In May this year, Take Your Kids to Work Day fell on the 19th. Our elementary schools do not actually "recognize" TYKWD, they leave it until middle school when the kids are a little older and more receptive to career related education, etc. So the school required that students missing school for TYKWD turn in forms reporting on what they learned, and signed by the parents and their work supervisors. My kids love the idea of going to Dad's or Mom's work, in part because of curiosity and having fun, but also (in my case, at least) because they cherish the opportunity to tell on Dad to his coworkers. But, along with telling everyone how Dad once slept in his daughter's girly bed, and that there is a picture of it on the blog, they also managed to have fun on campus. We melted and cast some aluminum ingots, went to an exhibit for rocks and fossils, and had horrible food at the student union...

The big hit on TYKWD was the "golden fly." We looked at a house fly in the scanning electron microscope, after it had been coated with gold so the electrons would conduct away... We had help from a colleague of mine whose last name is Begg. For the rest of the day, Tala kept referring to "Mr. Bug" :-) Tala has a way with words. This is the one who defined a nap as lower-case sleep. The other day she joked, "Does ground beef come from the ground?" Hana calls it "her logic," and takes genetic credit for it. I think it is the poetry genes she inherited from a certain side of her family... :-)

June starts with Moody's birthday on the 2nd, school lets out and summer begins. This year, we enrolled the kids in a couple of camps. The first was a week-long day camp called Camp Invention. The kids bring in items from home that can be recycled and/or cannibalized and converted into other things. People took in all sorts of stuff, old DVD players, other electronics, bottles and other plastic items, paper boxes, you name it! The kids spent the week taking them apart and building other things out of them, for a specified purpose. For example, they worked on building a manifold of pipes and gadgets to transport water from one place (a "lake") to another. They also made things like models of "blood vessels" out of a pair of old CDs and some colored liquid in between. When the CDs are squeezed between fingers, the liquid is displaced, and when released, the liquid flows back but its front breaks up into small, branched "capillaries." It is actually a cool example of a phenomenon called morphological instability and Hele-Shaw cells, but "blood vessels" is a much more attractive name. The kids had a blast, really. Moody's group had to build devices and make up an advertisement to sell them. Welcome to America, where at the end of the day everybody's gotta make a buck!

Ahmed the double-digit man! This year he turned 10. A whole decade has passed since he came out of Mom's belly squinting his eyes, his lips twisted into a "whereda... did you people come from?" kind of expression. Last year, I wrote that the big interest of 9-year-olds was who had a crush on whom. This year, the question of the Spring was, "Dad, how are babies made? Giggle giggle!" OK, so that's the "natural flow" of things! The questions and giggles continued, then I started to hear their own theories like "Babies are made when grownups take off their shirts and wrestle each other." Aayokay! That was it, I sat them down and tried to level with them. I said, the male deposits a sperm which unites with female ovum and forms the baby. "But Daaaaaad!" Tala cried, "Don't tell us with scientific words, use normal words." And the questions continued... They had to hear me say that babies are made by sex. Then, Moody ran to his room for this encyclopedic type of book we got a few years back, called The Book of Questions and Answers. At the end of the book there is a section on reproduction. Ahmed knew exactly where the pages were, and he presented it to me. He let me glance at it, then asked, "So is this pretty much the whole process?" I said, yes. Then, in his present-day politically correct speech, he asked, "Can the same gender have babies?" I asked what he meant, as I quickly dismissed fearful thoughts that the question of the Spring will someday be about who's "having gender" with whom... Ahmed elaborated, "You know, like gays?" And just as I got myself ready to discuss the science of artificial insemination and cloning, my wonderful wife jumped in and cut me off. Shew! Life with kids can have its moments, and it will without wait.

Tomorrow the family gets to visit Moody at camp and have dinner together. We have not had any direct contact with him since he left. I got an e-mail update from the leaders, but that's all. We'll leave him there to spend the last night, which will probably mean very little sleep, and lots of fun.The boys deserve it, after a few days of trekking in 90+ degree weather and muggy nights sleeping in tents.