Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's Monday, right?

Today was completely un-fun.  Benjamin had to be awoken this morning, which never happens.  Poor baby is sick (still? again?) and I was very stressed this afternoon when his temperature got to 100.4 degrees.  I remembered that being the temp at which you definitely bring an infant into the pediatrician, so I freaked out and called the health clinic at the embassy.  Then I googled around and it turns out for babies over a certain age (now I can't even remember, my brain is so fried) that it's really 103, taken from the armpit, when it's an emergency.  I had never seen Ben with a high temperature last so long, and not go down with Motrin and a lukewarm bath.  Pray that he gets better and sleeps through the night.  He's so tired, he hasn't fussed at all when I put him down for a nap.  Makes me sad.

This morning I was going to attempt a playgroup, Kristin had invited me and was going to pick us up.  But with Benjamin not being 100% and me still sneezing every 10 seconds, it seemed wiser to stay home.  So other than both of us not feeling good, it was a very boring day.  I did a little laundry and finally put our sheets on the bed in the master bedroom.  We'd been living with the temporary sheets and Thomas finally said that they needed to go.  They aren't great, and it's not like we sleep on some crazy thread-count, they are just rough and scratchy and bad.  Smell you later, sheets!

Tonight pretty soon after Thomas got home we interviewed another prospective housekeeper.  She was much more personable than the other girl, and I think Ben would enjoy her a lot.  She does cooking and cleaning and babysitting, which is awesome.  Her schedule availability isn't as great as the other candidate, who can come mornings until 3, which is perfect.  The second girl, Mylene, has many other jobs and would be able to come certain days.  Which might not be bad, and maybe I would get annoyed having someone come to my house every day.  We really need to pray about it and make sure we're not just doing what we want but considering God's plan.  Mylene would need to be sponsored, so we'd potentially be on the hook for her plane ticket home at the end of two years.  But, everyone says it's not a big deal.  Pray for us, that we make a good decision and can live with it.

Hm what else... oh I took a couple pictures of Benjamin playing, he's still adorable even though he's not feeling well.  He's really enjoying his lift-the-flap book Alison got him as part of his surprise presents for the plane.  Thanks, Alison!

Poor baby, he's so wrecked.  Hopefully we can all get well and be our best selves again soon.  I'm thinking that I might do a couple more interviews, just to be sure about stuff.  And I don't want to feel rushed and then be stuck with someone that I don't like or isn't good.  So stressful, I just wish I didn't have to actually choose a person, if they just assigned you someone that would be much easier.  Anyway, off to watch some TV and then sleep!

Night y'all,

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday, start of the working week


Today was pretty good.  Kristin was super kind and picked me and Ben up this morning on her way to the embassy.  We met up with Thomas for lunch and then I took Ben to the playground next to the pool to swing and crawl around.  There's some actual grass out there which is nice.  However, it was super sunny (as always, that's what the weather just is).  I put some suntan lotion on Benjamin but I probably should start wearing it too.  I haven't gotten burned (yet) but I'm definitely a darker shade of cream and more freckly.  And I have a superb farmer's tan from wearing short sleeves.  We also stopped by the Co-Op and picked up some Breyer's ice cream.  Evidently the local stores don't have a great ice cream selection, and that's become my nightly treat.  Calcium, right?

Benjamin was pretty good while we were out, but this afternoon he started hitting himself and getting fussy again.  I had to wake him up from his nap so we could walk to Jounia Pharmacy, the major landmark nearby.  I was meeting a potential housekeeper there so I could walk her back to the house and interview her.  I needed to get some smaller bills (so I could give her cab fare) so we left early and I went into Jounia and bought something cheap.  We met the nice Filipino girl, Emy, and walked home and I fed Ben a snack while we chatted.  She's very nice, and her schedule availability is perfect: mornings until 3pm.  So I could take a class at the embassy and leave Ben with her, she's good with babysitting and cleaning, and will cook too.  The hiccup is that she's asking for more money per hour than we were planning on paying.  I'll interview a few other people, just to see what else is out there.  But I'm sure she'd be great, we just have to be thoughtful.  And we can also do a trial run and see if things work out, and if not, no big deal.

Oh and some bummer news: we purchased the car, but we aren't legally able to drive it until we get our residency cards and licenses and stuff, which will hopefully only take two weeks.  Ugh, I'm so mad.  Anyway, so we're relying on the kindness of friends to drive us around.  But hopefully soon we'll get everything squared away.  I'd really like to be able to make appointments, especially since Benjamin will need his 18 month shots soon.  At least I can do that at the embassy, they have a health clinic that does immunizations.

Let's see, observations on life in Jordan.  It's strange but cool to hear the call to prayer multiple times a day.  It's very exotic, which is still nice.  Maybe in 8 months I'll be annoyed by it but right now it's cool.  Oh and there's a truck that drives around and plays a tune, like an ice cream truck.  That's what I assumed it was, until Thomas's coworker mentioned that the gas truck plays music.  Evidently the propane guy plays music, I think you're supposed to run out and flag him down when you need more gas.  Pretty crazy.  Thankfully we'll just request a tank from the embassy office whenever we need more for the gas range.  We might have to use the random musical truck when our grill gets here, though.

I really hope we can get a housekeeper/nanny person soon, so pray that God will lead us to the right person.  We'd prefer not to sponsor, which means you're responsible for paying for their ticket home if no one else will sponsor them when you leave.  But I guess if the best person requires it, we could manage.  And if they're actually good, then hopefully they wouldn't have a hard time getting another sponsor.  Fingers crossed, I'd love to have some babysitting.

Have a good week,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ahh, Saturday

Today was really nice and relaxing.  We all slept in a bit and Thomas ran errands in the morning while Benjamin and I played.  The un-fun news is that Ben is hitting himself a lot when he's angry or frustrated, or sometimes just out of the blue.  And he's hit me and Thomas some, so we're working on amending that behavior.  Pray for us!  We need grace to give it. 

Part of his acting out may have been tiredness, he took a nap right after lunch.  Late afternoon we went to the pool at the embassy, swam for a while and then had dinner at the snack bar.  So fun, and the weather was great.  Hot in the sun, but the water felt good and then resting in the shade was nice.  Once the sun starts to set it gets perfect.  Once Ramadan is over we'll spend some time on the patio.  While the locals are fasting, it's against the law (or at least frowned upon) to be seen eating or drinking, which is why the shades were drawn at the restaurant last week.  I unknowingly broke that rule multiple times when we were walking around and I needed some water.  Muslims in more temperate climates have it much easier.  Yeesh.

The best part of today was deciding to purchase the van Thomas checked out last night.  It's a 1999 Honda Odyssey, which I've been dreaming about getting since the baby came along.  I'll feel a little silly driving just one kid around in it, but it'll be super handy for visitors (easier to get in and out of than the Cruiser) and slightly better on gas, especially for longer trips.  The latest owner has tricked it out with a new DVD player and speakers, new audio setup.  It will be wasted on Benjamin, since he's still rear-facing, but maybe that will make it easier to sell when we leave.  Or maybe we'll keep it, and sell the Cruiser here.  We'll just have to see what happens in two years.  Regardless, I'm so excited to have a car!

This next week I'm hoping we can all be healthy and get in a groove.  I'll try to drive to a couple stores and just figure out the lay of the land.  I'll have to be super defensive and also offensive, no one uses signals, it's all crazy.  But it'll be great to be somewhat independent.  I'll have to get up early though to drop Thomas at work.  But that's probably good too, since I still need to call housekeepers and set up interviews.  Pray that we find an awesome babysitter/nanny who also is a good cook and can clean.  I'm hoping we can land someone who will watch Ben so I can do the Arabic class at the embassy, and also meet Thomas for lunch once a week.  And it would be amazing to see a movie, I'm hoping we can see the latest Batman while it's in theaters.  Eeek!

Oh and speaking of watching stuff, my latest fun show to watch is "Bunheads", it's on ABC Family but comes on Hulu the next day.  (We got a VPN so we can watch Netflix and Hulu even though we're not in the states.  Magic!)  I don't know if any of you enjoyed "Gilmore Girls" but it's by that show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino.  Anyway, it's just a cute, light show about a woman who moves to a little town from Vegas and is an ex-dancer, and her mother-in-law who teaches ballet.  There are four high school girls that are also main characters, and it's just a fun 45 minutes.  If you like silly and cute, I think you should check it out.  Other than that we're watching the fourth season of "Breaking Bad", which is awesome, of course.  

What are y'all watching?  There's so much good TV out there now.  I can't wait for the next seasons of Downton Abbey and Sherlock.  We may not even get cable TV here since we're watching stuff on the computer now.  I never thought I could do it, I'm all about screen size, but it's surprising how you can adapt.  But it will be great to get our TV and have the PS3 for watching our movies.  Counting the days! 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Oasis

Hi guys,

So here they are, finally: pictures of our outside spaces.  It's great that we have access to it because even if the day is hot it usually gets to be in the 70s at night and is super comfortable.  We just have one table and a few chairs at the moment, but I'm hoping to either get another patio set from the GSO (they supply all the furniture to the embassy people) or maybe get one on sale from Carrefour.  All right, let's start!  And yes, you'll see the same pose from Thomas and Benjamin multiple times.

Here is the small grassy area at the front of our place, it's actually to the left of our front door.

And now the empty patio to the right of our front door, actually it's next to the main entrance to the apartment building, where the elevator is.  The double doors lead into the family room, so it would be awesome to have a lounge-y area, especially when we have company. 

As you walk down the steps there's a green space on the right, and then you dead-end into the carport.  It's a large space and can hold two cars, and it's just for us!  There's an underground garage too, but I don't think we'll need to use it.  Oh and people park on the street, but I guess it's nicer to have a shaded spot since it does get super hot.  If you look over the side of the carport, you'll see a little view of other apartment buildings.  And if you look down, you'll see that we're next to a vacant lot with a couple dumpsters.  Lovely, right?  Even better, evidently Bedouins come around at night and burn trash.  Not sure if that's totally accurate, but there is burning as evidenced by the scorch marks.  And the vacant lots are everywhere, it's odd.

At the back of the carport are some grapevines, the brown bags are to keep ants off.  I'm really looking forward to having some fruit from our land, how homesteading of us.  And not doing any labor adds to the awesomeness.  There are three lime trees and another bush with fruit but we don't know what it is.

There's a left turn at the end of the garden, with a walkway around to the patio off the kitchen.  There's a fairly overgrown tree that you have to duck under.  To the left of the kitchen door we have a large window, but there's not much of a view.  Maybe we'll get some plants, or probably not.  We're excited to eventually get the gas grill we bought before moving so we can have some cook outs.  I feel like this is a great place to entertain, we just don't have anything so we have to wait.  C'mon HHE, get here.

So that's the outside of the apartment.  As for Friday's recap, I slept in until 9am, but Thomas took some Sudafed Thursday night and didn't sleep much at all, so we lazed about and took naps, generally relaxed all day.  It was nice to just hang out.  And Thomas checked out a minivan as a possibility for the second car, which would be my vehicle and he would drive the Cruiser whenever it shows up.  I would miss driving the big car, but I imagine life would be easier hauling Benjamin in the van.  We'll see if another seller gives us a call, but hopefully we can get something lined up soon.  Fingers crossed!


Friday, July 27, 2012



Thursday is the new Friday.  Or at least here in Amman/the entire Middle East.  Still not quite used to it, but I'm also not at all aware of the actual date.  So I'm just happily oblivious.  Okay, onto the daily recap.

Wednesday night I didn't sleep much, if at all.  I was constantly coughing and blowing my nose, poor Thomas got no rest either.  So I thought today would be the day I just collapsed, but thankfully after taking a shower I felt tons and tons better.  Amazing what being able to blow dry your hair can do for you!  Ahhhh.  Benjamin and I just hung out at home all day, trying to take it easy and recover some.  I'm still very sneeze-y and sometimes the pressure behind my eyes makes them water and I feel very pathetic.  But I think I'm improving ever so slightly each day, keep praying that we'll all feel well and chipper soon.

Benjamin was really good today which helped me sooo much.  There was a funny interaction with our Boab, he knocked on the door around 9:15am and this before I'm showered and presentable.  So I answer the door and he speaks to me in Arabic but with hand gestures I come to understand that I need to open a front window so he can plug in an electric lawnmower.  Evidently we have a teeny two foot square plot of grass in one of the little gardens!  Who knew.  I don't know how we could actually get to it for Ben to crawl around, but maybe when I finally explore and take pictures of the outside areas we can figure it out.  I'll get around to it soon, hopefully this weekend.

After Thomas got home we packed up and went to the embassy for dinner.  Thursday nights they do theme nights and you can get in if you're a member of the embassy association club.  Club members get to use the pool and commissary (known as the co-op), so I think almost everyone does it.  Tonight was Tex Mex, so you pay 8JD a person and get a buffet and soda, or you can buy beer and margaritas.  It was pretty tasty and tons of people were there.  If I had thought it through I would have brought our swim stuff, it cooled down a bit and was really nice outside.  We sat in the cafe area next to the pool and hung out with friends.  We talked and enjoyed the weather, swapping stories about the good grocery stores (evidently Spinny's is nice) and I imbibed quite a few Diet Cokes.  It was awesome to feel relaxed and at home, and Benjamin was super well behaved.  We left after 8pm and waited a long while for a taxi to come.  I'm guessing Thursday night during Ramadan isn't a busy time, there wasn't as much traffic on the roads.

This weekend I think we'll probably rest and relax.  Depending on how well I sleep tonight we might try to visit a house church that Kristin and a couple other friends attend.  It's part of the Anglican church here which has regular church on Saturdays and house church on Friday mornings for the families with young kids.  (I don't think they have a nursery for the regular service, so I can see the appeal.)  And I'm hoping we can go to the pool, maybe Saturday.

Please pray that we can find an affordable vehicle, I'm a little sketched out doing a taxi on my own.  Until the Cruiser arrives if we got an automatic then I could drop Thomas at work and be mobile.  It seems like everything that we can afford is a stick or gets sold before we even call or email.  Pray that we make a good decision and that we can get something soon.  Or for patience and a more willing spirit for me, either one.  :-) 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cough. Sniff. Sneeze. Repeat.


We went to the embassy Wednesday morning for another round of orientation, which was pretty painless.  And we got our badges, so no more turning over the passport/getting a visitor's badge nonsense.  I'm official, I swipe through the gate like everybody else now.  Yay!  We also checked out the health clinic and the nurse gave us some medicine and suggested hot tea with lemon and honey for me.  That has helped a little, and aside from major congestion and ridiculous sinus pressure... yeah I'm still miserable. 

After waiting around to speak with the nurse, Benjamin was at the end of his rope, with Thomas and me not far behind.  We ate an early lunch at the cafe (is chicken fingers four days in a row excessive?) and then Thomas cabbed it home with us.  He turned right around and went back to work, but it's still nice to have him give directions.  We saw Kristin and her husband at the cafe and we set up a trip to go shopping in the afternoon, while her maid/nanny watched her two kids.  Ben and I rested a bit then she came and got us.

We went to Carrefour, a French version of Wal-Mart.  Seriously, this place was huge- two stories tall and gigantic.  It's attached to City Mall, which is very fancy and has lots of American and international brand stores.  They have an H&M!  I will be going back there...  After parking in the crowded underground garage, we both got carts and commenced shopping.  The store was full when we went in and by the time we left, it was super crowded.  Everyone was out shopping for Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast.  Kristin told me that some people come from the Arabian peninsula to Amman for Ramadan, since it's cooler here (??!!) and they aren't supposed to eat or drink anything during the day, even water.  Dude, that is rough.  So we were weaving around tons of people, but I didn't run into anyone.  Ben did well, no fussing.  And people here are very friendly to babies, so the checkout guy was playing with Ben's feet and making friends.  In the States it might weird me out, but here it's nice.

I felt really run down and tired while shopping, but after getting home I got a second wind.  Ben and I got snacks and played a bit, then Thomas came home.  Even though he's still sick, he was kind enough to make a delicious pasta dinner with garlic toast.  So all in all a good day, even though I felt awful pretty much constantly.  Oh and at Carrefour I got a hairdryer, so I can start to look normal again!  This post-baby curly-ish hair isn't my bag.  Here's Ben in a happy moment, just hanging out at home.  (Trying a new filter, not really loving it.)

Tomorrow I will try to make a list of all the maid/nanny options to call and set up interviews.  Not sure how to evaluate the cooking part of the equation, but maybe that will be a hope for the best situation.  Continue to pray that we all recover fully and speedily.  Since we don't have to be at any meetings tomorrow, Benjamin and I can sleep in a bit and hopefully have a low-key day.  Thank the Lord.

Stuffily yours,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sand and beige and tan

Hi Friends and Family!

Tuesday Benjamin and I went into the embassy with Thomas for an orientation meeting.  After breezing through twice before, turning over my passport and getting a guest badge, I didn't anticipate the major delay we had.  Somehow my name was no longer on the list (???) and we had to have someone call and that person talk to the guard (who was Jordanian and not 100% fluent in English), and then finally we could go inside.  It took about 15 minutes of standing around in what was not a large space, definitely meant for people to show ID and then walk though, which people did in a constant stream so we were very much in the way.  Ugh, hopefully tomorrow is better.  'Cause yay, another orientation meeting.  Woo.

We heard a few presentations on different stuff you need to know about the embassy and the services they provide, etc.  Mostly we passed Benjamin back and forth to keep him occupied and attempt to ward off the inevitable fussiness.  But we got to have lunch together at the embassy (more Diet Coke!) and afterward Thomas hailed a cab and we all three made it home, then Thomas cabbed it back to work.  Someday I'll be confident enough to get a cab, but I'm not quite there. 

Tomorrow Thomas will look at a sedan for sale by someone at the embassy.  There's a lot of flyers advertising cars, most people ship one and some families buy another.  It would be helpful to have wheels, cause I could drop Thomas at work and then have some mobility to go to one of the big supermarkets that are farther away.  We don't really know when the Cruiser will arrive.  But there's a pharmacy nearby, just a block away, that we walked to tonight to get some medications that I needed more of.  And it's funny, this stuff was prescription and compounded back in the states, here you just tell the guy at the counter what you want and they get it for you from a back room.  Thomas got some German-made faux-aspirin this morning.  Pretty crazy, but also convenient.

One important aspect of life in Amman that I haven't yet mentioned is water.  Every apartment has its own cistern, water is delivered, and when you run out you call for another delivery.  (This is part of what the embassy does, work orders for this sort of thing.)  Evidently Jordan is the 4th water-poorest country in the world.  And we have a special faucet to the right of the regular faucet on the kitchen sink.  It gives you filtered water, for drinking and brushing teeth, anything you would consume.  We wash dishes in the other stuff, which is fine and I think the locals drink it.  But it's like Mexico, you could be fine drinking it or you could get sick.  As much as I joke about going on the "amoeba diet" I'm really hoping to avoid it.  It's strange to have our toothbrushes and toothpaste and Listerine all lined up in the kitchen, but as they say, it's the "new normal".

This next week I'll start interviewing maids and see if there's a good fit for someone who can cook, clean and occasionally babysit.  We're interested in part-time help and it's pretty cheap out here.  Lots of women come from the Philippines and work and send money home to their families.  I feel a little weird about having a maid, but I know that I could use the help; I was terrible at cleaning our tiny place in Virginia and I'm going to be hopeless here.  Plus there are some Arabic classes at the embassy that I'd love to take advantage of, or meet Thomas for lunch, and it would be super great to be able to jet off for a couple hours baby-free.  Pray that we can find a great person who loves to cook and is good at it, and that Benjamin will love her.  And that we can be good employers.

Thomas met our landlord and negotiated a salary for our Boab, which is sort of a groundskeeper/general helper-guy around the building.  Oh and his name is Abed, so that's good to finally have figured out.  Since we're on the ground floor and have lots of plants, he'll water everything and bring us the fruit when it's ready.  When we get our car(s) he'll wash them (Jordan's super dusty) and he also takes out our trash.  Nice guy, younger than I thought he'd be.  It's weird to have people do stuff for you, but I'm going to enjoy it for these two years before we go back.  And he evidently lives in a room off of the basement, and you can intercom him to pick up stuff from the store.  Crazy!

The prevailing colors are tan and beige and brown.  There are some palm trees and flowering vines, but it's mostly relentless tan.  When we went on our odyssey to find an open restaurant the other night we passed through a very fancy neighborhood and there were some houses/apartments with lawns.  It was so strange to see grass!

I think that's about it for now.  Do y'all have questions about anything?  I feel like I'm running out of stuff to blog about, soon it'll be what we ate at every meal.  Hopefully we'll get more adventurous as we get more comfortable.  Signing off!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Case of the Mondays


Well we're all officially sick with cold-like symptoms, possibly just a combo of the dry air and altitude and general dustiness.  Hmm, desert living.  So anyway, we're all scratchy throat-ed and cranky.  Benjamin has started screaming when we put him down, then waking up two hours later to do it again.  Fingers crossed tonight will be better.  Oh and last night Thomas and I both woke up around 2am, wide awake.  Jet lag, you are a beast.  Really hoping tonight we'll sleep straight through, since all three of us are going to an orientation meeting tomorrow.

Despite feeling miserable, Benjamin and I got to hang out with Kristin, our embassy friend, and her two boys today before lunch.  We had a good time getting out of the house and doing something different, then she took me and Ben to the embassy to eat lunch at the cafe-thing (not bad, and free refills on Diet Coke!).  We got to see Thomas quickly as he was picking up his lunch to go, then checked out the mail room.  I had ordered some Target brand diapers maybe two weeks ago, if that, and they had already arrived!  In a gigantic box too, there were 3 large boxes of diapers.  So Kristin kindly wheeled that out to her car on a mail room cart and then we headed home.  It was a great outing, then Ben and I both napped.  Which was glorious.

For dinner we walked over to another friend's place not too far away and happily ate their food and hung out with them and their three boys.  Lots of young families seem to be out here, which is great.  So it's nice to be meeting new people and getting out of the house.  That seems to be the key to contentment, since when I'm at home I get a little stir-crazy and especially not feeling great, I tend to just whine and complain to myself.

Our host at dinner gave us a couple basil plants, so that will be fun for Thomas to keep up his gardening.   I'm sure the green peppers back at our place in Arlington will be in fine form.  Sad to miss out on that.  But since we have outdoor space, we can do some container stuff.  And we have grapevines and a couple trees, I think one lime and one apple.  It's pretty unusual to have an actual garden so we feel really blessed.  Pictures to come!

Now it's time to wind down and possibly go to bed at 9:30pm.  Ugh.  Can't wait to feel normal again and be on the right schedule!

Nighty night,

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Weekend

Hi there,

So here's a quick recap of our weekend.  Friday morning our sponsor/guide guy from the embassy walked to our place and we hoofed it around the neighborhood a little.  We went by a couple small grocery stores, one had a fruit and veggie vendor whom you pay separately from the everything else guy.  That's where we bought some milk and a cantaloupe and some green beans.  They have a surprising amount of produce that seems to be local.  The milk is the "long life" carton shelf-stable stuff.  It smells and tastes slightly different, and I'm a teeny bit grossed out by it.  Benjamin loves it though, he drinks it up.

After walking around the neighborhood and drinking most of a 1L bottle of water (it was hot!) we took a break and hung out at the house.  We had dinner at another embassy person's apartment, they have two little boys and it was fun to check email and visit for a while.  They sweetly loaned us some DVDs to watch, since we don't have any cable hooked up yet.  But we were devastated to realize that the player loaned to us until our stuff arrives is region-specific, and only plays European and Middle Eastern discs.  Drat!  And you know we're such movie and TV people, going this long without watching something is torture.  So Thomas ran out on Saturday to try and find a multi-region player, got one the guy told him would work, and naturally it won't play the DVDs.  So at some point we'll return it and attempt to get something, or maybe just get some sort of cable.  I'm really fascinated to watch some local programming, I hope we can get it soon.

While he was out cabbing around, Thomas also got our Internet hooked up.  For this, he is my hero.  So it's been great to be able to check Facebook and read my usual sites, keep up with the news.  And that gunman/massacre out in Colorado, I have no words.  The poor families of the victims.  Ugh, makes me sad.

Moving on to happier thoughts.  Saturday late morning we swam at the embassy pool, which is Olympic sized and has a real deep end (10 feet).  It was nice to just relax, enjoy the great sunny weather and check out the embassy a little.  There's a commissary which has a decent selection.  It's about the size of a big 7-11 and has pork products that you can't get elsewhere inside Jordan.  Also beer and wine at more reasonable prices.  We picked up some Coke Light, the equivalent of Diet Coke, which we also got with our lunches at the pool snack bar.  Living the life!

For dinner I made some rice and a frozen PF Chang's meal that our sponsor left for us.  It wasn't half bad, but I'm really looking forward to having my own pots and pans.  The temporary ones that they loan out aren't great. 

Sunday is the first workday of the week so Thomas went to work.  I was awake when he was getting ready then fell back asleep and woke up at 11:45am.  Not awesome!  Benjamin was still asleep too, so we were both completely off schedule.  Since we got up late I decided not to go out walking around in the heat.  We just played at home until Thomas got back, then we walked a long way (3 miles?) to a restaurant that was open during Ramadan, a rarity as we passed many places much closer that were closed.

An aside, the sidewalks in Amman are ridiculous.  They can vary in height off the street up to maybe 10 inches, which makes pushing the stroller super hard.  And at one point, walking along a busy road, it just stopped so we had to run to the median, wait, then run again to the other side.  It would be an impossible place to navigate if you were in a wheelchair.  And when driving, the lanes are unmarked or extremely faint, so you might have a two lane or three lane road, who can say.  There are also a lot of circles, left turns are frowned upon so you really have to plan your driving routes accordingly.  I'm looking forward to getting our car so I can be more mobile and meet up with people, but driving is a little scary.  Alright, back to dinner.

They had shades on the windows and when Iftar, the meal to break the fast, started they lifted the shades so you could see in from the outside.  Definitely a tourist/non-Muslim place, since there were people eating before sundown, and also speaking English.  Thankfully we got a cab back home, which was only 2 JD (Jordanian Dinar, 1 JD = about 1.5 USD).  I was really not in the mood for a long walk home, especially since it was already after Benjamin's bedtime. 

In the bummer department, I have a sore throat, Thomas does too and the way Ben's been fussing he might also have it.  I don't know if it's the dryness (no humidity) or just plane sickness.  Hopefully it'll get better soon.  Please pray for Benjamin, that he won't be so fussy at night.  I know it's a big adjustment for him but I can't tell if it's teething or scratchy throat or just all the changes.  Makes it hard to know how to help him.

So that was our weekend, I'm lumping all 3 days together.  The weekend over here is Friday and Saturday, which will take some getting used to.  Hopefully this week I'll venture out more and maybe meet up with a group of moms or something.  It's weird to be alone again with Benjamin during the day, since Thomas was home for about 2 weeks before we left.  Time to suck it up and make friends, create a schedule.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Apartment

Ramadan Kareem! (Happy Ramadan or Ramadan is generous)

Hey guys,

Ramadan has begun, which means the locals will be surly until nightfall and lots of places will be closed most or all of the day.  Good times.

So when we got into the apartment I was astounded.  I knew it would be bigger than our townhouse in Arlington, 4/3.5 vs. 2/1.  But dude, I love it.  Here follows a tour, please excuse the bad pictures.  A photographer I'm not...

First off, here's the formal living room, those double doors are our front entrance.  In this building there are 4 apartments, one on each floor.  So we've got the whole floor to ourselves!  And outside space too, since we're the ground floor.  But that's another post for another day, so onward with the tour!

For some incredible reason, we got all brand new furniture!  The government issue stuff gets circulated for about 12 years (I think) so we're super fortunate.  After living with my grandma's Heywood Wakefield for the past 8 years I'm so excited to break in some new stuff.

Next up, more formal living room, with happy Benjamin...

And then sad Benjamin...

Then some more chairs, and the dining area (all one big space).

I'm hoping that we can meet some cool people and make friends so we can have them over for dinner.  I mean, it would be a crime not to use all this space!  One thing I'm concerned about is keeping the furniture in good shape, so I might have to order or borrow some tablecloths.  I think mine got packed up in the storage load, but we'll see.  Hopefully our big HHE shipment (household effects) will get here soon, two months seems to be the average.

Okay back on topic.  So from the formal living/dining room you go through double doors to a vestibule-type hall, with a half bath and laundry on one side and double doors leading to the elevator and staircase (which we won't need to use, but it's nice to have anyway).

On the left after the mirror/drop zone is the kitchen.  I made a happy noise when I saw it, it's huge and great.  No dishwasher but I'll learn to deal.  And possibly hire some household help.  We have a regular, American-style range and fridge (same with the washer and dryer) and we also have a standalone freezer.  I think when you find a good buy on meat, you're supposed to just buy all of it, because stores won't always have the same thing week-to-week. 

Ahhhh, even though I'm not a great cook and hopefully we can find a part-time maid who will, I'm just thrilled with this kitchen.  Those of you who've seen our itty bitty kitchen in Arlington will appreciate my excitement!

Sort of across from the kitchen, to the left of those bookcases is the family room.  The TV is temporary, and the DVD player doesn't play US region DVDs, so we're working on finding a multi-region player.  Some friends loaned us a couple discs to get us through, but so far no luck watching anything.  But I'm extremely thankful Thomas figured out the internet stuff so I can keep up with everybody on Facebook and email!

I doubt we'll ever have a fire, but it's a cool fireplace nonetheless.  The cream colored box at the top is the AC unit.  No central air in apartments in Amman, but thankfully almost each room in ours has its own unit, where you just put in the temperature you want and it works.  It's great to come in to a cool house after walking around outside.  It's been in the 90s since we arrived, when there's a breeze it's not so bad but if you're just out in the sun it can be brutal.  We're drinking lots of water!

So this is where Ben's toys will live, the small ones anyway.  It's a good sized room and again, brand new furniture! 

Next up, the bedroom wing.  Down a hall from the family room are 4 bedrooms, one is set up as an office and I think we'll put Ben's playhouse/slide thing there, since there's a carpet.  The floors are all marble tile (keeps things cool) and I'm a little worried about him bonking his head.

Right next to the office, on the right, is Ben's room.  And next to that is a bathroom for those rooms.

Every room has at least one window and it is great to get light all day long.  The way people keep the sun and heat out is to lower these metal shields that are on every window in every apartment.  Thomas called them blast shields, so that's what they are to me.  They make a room totally dark and it's great for Benjamin's naps.  They keep out noise and are especially useful during dust storms.  Not looking forward to those!  

Back down the hall, near the entrance to the family room, is the master bedroom.  With attached bath!  And a jetted tub!  Bliss.  Excuse the mess, we just got here.  (The master is through the door on the left, the room at the end of the hall is the guest room and the opening on the right goes to the family room.)

Benjamin really enjoys playing with the closet doors.  I didn't get a picture of them, but every room has built-in closets with sliding mirrored doors.  There's a ton of storage.  Of course I'm saying that now but when all of our stuff arrives I might sing a different tune.  Oh yes, and almost every bathroom has a bidet.  Yuck.

Last but not least, I give you the guest room, with bath.  It's only got a twin bed at present, but I'm going to have them remove both that bed and the twin in Benjamin's room so we can put in a queen guest bed.

As you can see we have plenty of space for visitors.  We don't have a car yet, ours is being shipped, but you can get a taxi at the airport.  In all seriousness, we'd love to see family and friends, so come one come all!  Sorry for the long post and bad pictures, but hopefully you get the gist: we love our apartment and hope you can come see it in person!

Book your flights!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Traveling Day, Part 2: The Longest Day


We are in Amman and now, day 2, we're feeling pretty good.  We arrived on Thursday and let me tell you, that was a long trip.  First off we got to Dulles and while Thomas returned the rental car, I waited with Benjamin and our mountain of bags.

We checked in and got on the plane, but sat for two hours on the tarmac because of some storms along the East Coast.  Benjamin was pretty good for that flight, Dulles to Vienna, and the pilot went at max speed to make up for the time lost.  We got into Vienna with about 20 minutes to make our connection to Amman and miraculously got to the gate with 10 minutes to spare.  Benjamin fussed the entire flight, three hours.  It was horrendous.  But we arrived and there was a guy to meet us, we got our baggage (All of it came!  Even with the short layover!) and we headed into Amman.  Along the way we passed a group of camels and it hit me, I live in the Middle East now. 

We got to the apartment, looked around and Thomas made spaghetti and put Benjamin to bed.  I was pretty useless, I fell asleep on the couch while Thomas was reading Ben his bedtime books.  We put Benjamin down and then we went to bed directly after.  It was a super long day, made longer by Benjamin not having napped the day we left, so he was up for 24 hours and definitely showing it.  He's doing much better now though, I think he's turned the corner.  And despite waking up at midnight last night and needing a snack and some reading time, Thomas and I are feeling pretty good. 

We miss everyone back home and the convenience of speaking the language of the land, but we're excited to explore our neighborhood and the fun sights nearby.  Next post: the apartment!

Shukran for reading-

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Traveling day

It's hard to look forward to spending 10 hours on a plane with a 17 month old, but I'm still excited to fly.  We'll leave today and get in to Amman Thursday afternoon.  We're not 100% sure that all our bags will fit in the rental car even though we got a full-sized just for hauling luggage. 

An aside- I've really enjoyed driving a (more) powerful car.  We rented a recent-year Impala and that thing will move.  Especially coming off of driving tiny cars and then my huge Cruiser, it's so fun to quickly get up to speed.  I might be in trouble if we ever bought something that fast.  But as for the interior and controls, I've spent too much time in Toyotas to appreciate the Chevy aesthetic.  And the door ate my leg. 

Right now hubby is running errands and I'm hoping baby will take a good nap while I relax a little and survey the wreckage that is overstuffed bags and way too much junk.  I'll try to post again once we get there but we're not sure when Internet will get hooked up, etc.  Pray for us, pray for safe travel and sanity and patience and grace toward each other and the other passengers and flight crew.

Over and out,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Testing, testing.  Sibilance.

Hey guys, this will hopefully become a chronicle of our time in Amman, Jordan for the next two years.  I'll try to get pictures and updates up once we've landed and get internet working at our apartment. 

Later gators!