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steaming-coffee-cup1This morning, a beautiful sunny morning in Amman, we gathered the boys up early to go grab breakfast at Crumz, a local chain that can be best described as the Jordanian version of Panera, only with friendlier people and wait service.

On any given Friday morning you can spot quite a few American and European dips or expats enjoying their coffee and pastries in an environment that gives you a cozy little feeling of being home for an hour or so.  But what I also love about the place, is that you can find just as many local families there, having a morning coffee before Mosque, enjoying the start of their weekend with their kids.  The scene is endearing, families of multiple cultures taking a few moments to sit and enjoy the coffee, the good food, and the company of their loved ones. ...continue reading An Eye Opening Morning

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It rained this evening.  It rained in Amman.  It is the first rain.  The drops were cold and big.  It lasted maybe ten minutes.

Rain makes me blissfully happy!

Almost as much as snow.

I am in heaven!  That is all.

(sorry, not sorry, the photos are so grainy)

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We REALLY love rain!
We REALLY love rain!

 

Love & Happyness to All!

~M

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This is a mommy rant post, for all those mommies out there who sometimes really really need a shoulder to cry on, or whiskey in their coffee.  Multitudes of sarcasm will ensue.  

But before that, the other day a got this shot, which means there is hope on the horizon!  😉

Occasionally this happens.  Must mean we are doing something right....right?
Occasionally this happens. Must mean we are doing something right....right?  (Please excuse the mess, we just got our HHE!)

September 5, 2014:

Whoever came up with the phrase terrible two’s is a liar, and should be punished accordingly, because how simply evil can one be to make all the parents of the world believe that when they get through those first two years the heavens are going to open up and shower rainbows and unicorns upon them and their little angels, who will now magically be done with tantrums and diapers.

Three is really hard folks.  Sometimes it Just. Plain. Sucks.  Living with a three year old is akin to living with a miniature bi-polar terrorist.

Seriously, I think my three year old could give Al-Qaeda a run for their money.  I mean, just unleash the tasmanian devil on them for an afternoon and then BAM, world peace before you know it.  Who needs airstrikes?  Note I say Al-Qaeda and not ISIS- because they are just cray cray.

Anyway I digress, as usual, it started yesterday afternoon when usually a good nap sets the stage for a great afternoon, except when it doesn’t.  Patrick woke up with with an itch to be naughty, and when that happens, I might as well just tie myself up in a chair and relinquish all authority.  I’m not sure what it is that he inhales that sends him on a bender of mayhem, but depending on his mood it can last anywhere from hours to days….

He wanted more fruit snacks, and when I said no, he tantrumed (apparently tantrumed isn’t a word, but selfie is, so get with the program Merriam-Webster).  This was followed by taking his anger out on Little R with an inflatable Thor hammer.  (Thanks Dad, for the fruit snacks AND the hammer by the way- because that really made things interesting!)  Little R, shockingly, took offense and set out for his defense strategy which is to whine/cry/scream at a decibel and pitch that only dogs should hear and run for mommy’s legs, successfully tripping me up and making it impossible for me to move, i.e. catch Patrick.

So I scolded Patrick for attacking his brother and took the hammer and threw it downstairs.  More tantrum, followed by him raiding the refrigerator for more food.

“You may have an apple if you are hungry.”

“But I just want some more fruit snacks.”

“No, if you are hungry you can have an apple or some milk.”

“But if I say sorry to Reagan for hitting him, then I can ask for more fruit snacks.”

Nice try, buddy.

“That’s very good to apologize to Reagan for hitting him, but you still cannot have fruit snacks.”

Repeat tantrum above, this time with inflatable spider man sword.  He gets scolded and sent to his room.

Three is really really hard.

Time to hit the re-set button.  Deep breath, put on false Stepford mommy smile, glance longingly at wine cabinet.  “How about a bath everybody!”  Reagan goes squealing to the bathtub in excitement.

Thank goodness!  My inner mom pats herself on the back.  Good thinking!  Toddlers:2  Mom:1

We get the bath going and Patrick peaks his head around and decides to undress to get in as well.  I get Reagan all bathed up and shampoo Patrick, and then my three year old pulls yet another personality out of his hat.  This one was the I’m-suddenly-afraid-of-hair-washing- alter ego.  He screamed like I was spraying him with scalding water, or battery acid.  He screamed and screamed.  And then Reagan screamed and screamed.  I’m sure the entire building could hear it, since the little bathroom windows all line up along a kind of internal chimney in the building.  And then Reagan slipped and fell in the tub and screamed even more.

There goes all that work we put in to getting Reagan to be unafraid of the water again.  Months and months down the drain in a nanosecond.  Not to mention all the neighbors will think those Americans torture their children.

Three is really, really, really hard.  Toddler:3 Mom:1

I lose my temper, because that’s a totally productive thing to do.  “ENOUGH!”  And I proceed to fuss at Patrick for being, well for being three, and then I fuss at Reagan for refusing to actually sit down in the tub so as to not slip and fall….  because the 18 month old totally understands where I’m coming from.

Toddlers:4  Mom: 1

But they are scared into being quiet for a moment.  As I’m sulking in guilt and getting Reagan dressed Patrick cleans up the bath toys and drains the tub…

And then proceeds to let out his Chucky laugh and run around the house naked, refusing to get dressed.  A game of chase with Patrick is never any fun.  It’s like trying to catch the snitch on Harry Potter.  He’s too fast and there is a good chance I’ll end up with a broken arm.  If only I had a flying broom.

Three is, well you get it by now, really HARD.  Toddlers:5  Mom: 1

I wasn’t surprised by the chase, because how else is he going to react when I lose my cool?

At this point H calls and I freak out over the phone for about 90 seconds, you know, because all of THIS is happening, AND we are out of juice and butter, AND the internet is down, AND there is a problem with my phone.  Stupid third world telecom carriers, maybe I should get the CEO of Orange to watch the tasmanian devil for a day….

I put in a movie and try to get dinner started with Reagan latched between my legs.  I pry him off me and set him aside and he decides to protest by climbing onto the kitchen table.  Put up child gate.  Set whiny baby on other side.  Pull out wine bottle and pour BIG glass.  

I put on a playlist and begin chopping veggies.  I ignore the whining, and let the naked Chuckie run around and do whatever.

Toddlers:5  Mom:2

Not one of my best days, but not the worst.

Three sometimes really sucks.  But this too shall pass.

Later before bed, Patrick gives me a hug and a smile and a big “I love you Mommy.”  And my heart melts.  Reset button pushed.

The Jordanians are are open and kind, and love to celebrate.  There is celebratory fireworks (and the occasional celebratory gunfire) to everything from the Eid celebration to the release of the various school exam scores.  The release of exam scores is quite fascinating.  Since the schools are private based, all of them are on slightly different schedules and run from August through May/June, with a few that are even all year I think.  But it isn’t until late July or early August, that the exam scores are released at a stagger across a week or so. This is when families find out how the children faired academically through the previous year.  There are fireworks and gunfire and processionals of cars honking horns and driving in file as they celebrate their success.  The teenagers drive with windows down, music blaring, and celebratory shenanigans ensue.  H and I laugh- there are few constants throughout time and space, and one of those is that of the teenager.

And of course, as many people know of the ME, the driving is horrendous, without rules or laws or lines in the road, and when there are lines in the road they are most definitely arbitrary guidelines per say.

However, the thing that stands out most given our circumstances, is their absolute love of children.  I’ve never been anywhere where my kids were so openly adored in public.  Rather than frowns and scoffs when my boys act like boys and get a bit unruly, I’m greeted with smiles and re-assurance.

Seriously, we had a great demonstration of this just the other day as we were touring the Soap House with Little R on my back and Little P running around crazy.  The soap house is the location of Trinitae- a company specializing in dead sea mineral products.  They hand make everything from bath salts to scrubs and lotions to diffuser oils in a beautiful 100 year old home overlooking downtown.  The boys had been wonderful walking companions during a tour sponsored by the CLO, and I think Little P had had all the behaving he could handle.  He needed to expend some toddler energy, and so, as toddlers are oft to do, he had a burst, not unlike the ones our Australian Shepherd has in the yard.  He ran behind the counter, and into their kitchen, and into the storage room!  He explored the bathroom and ripped the beautifully crafted soap on a rope from the decor.  H and I chased him around, with Little R strapped to my back, red with heat and embarrassment, apologizing between scolding, wishing our group would buy their stuff so we could move on.  But the older gentlemen whose family owns and operates the place just smiled with a twinkle in his eye and said “Ah, it’s safe here, let him run!  Let the little one down, let him run!”  And later, his young attendant just kept laughing at them both, she kept saying “It’s okay, it’s okay!  They are so cute!”

My inner mom, with her apron, oven mitts and firm but gentle smile, who is constantly ridiculing and critiquing my parenting, gauging my aptitude by the behavior of my children, had a hard time wrapping her head around this.  It really is an eye-opening thing, to be somewhere that embraces children as they are- full of attitude, energy and other antics- vice fitting them into a mold involving dance recitals, two year old soccer leagues and impeccable manners.  For the time being I feel like I’m far away from the ridiculing stares in the aisles of the Leesburg Target whenever one of my kids gets too tired or throws a tantrum because I told them, indeed, they do NOT get a toy every time we go to the store, regardless of whether it’s only a dollar.

The Jordanian love of children can be also very overwhelming. When we are in the shopping malls, we are inevitably bombarded with a gaggle of teenage girls who want to kiss and pet and take photos with the Double Troubles.  Little P eats it up, playing shy and blushing at the pretty girls.  Little R, introvert like his mommy, immediately feels the intrusion of his bubble and runs to hide between my legs or behind or wherever he can.  I can only imagine what he’s thinking:  Help!  They’ve come over the walls!  We’re under attack!  The zombie apocalypse is among us!  so I smile and hug him, trying to be as encouraging and serene as I can, because I too am all Get out of my bubble!  They are on the offensive!  It doesn’t help that the Jordanians, and most of the population in the Middle East, are especially fond of blonde haired children, because they are such a rarity.  Needless to say, we don’t take the kids to the mall very often.

Also, since they are so keen on letting kids be kids, I often find that there is little discipline amongst the elementary and middle school set.  You can tell the kids really rule the roost at home, or at least it seems so.  Since it is summer they run around through the night, into the early am, screaming and playing and carrying on, often throwing fits and tantrums from what I can only think is exhaustion, while we are trying to get our kids to sleep through the night!  Thank goodness for the shutters and our white noise phone apps!

Still, as Little P announces a proud “Shukran,” or “Thank you,” to a worker in the little family bakery we found, I realize that I’d take this over the ridicule of the American mommy wars any day.  We love our little bakery- more on that later I promise- where we are always greeted with big smiles and one of the regular employees there gives the boys free cookies and watches as we pick out a box of treats, diligently picking out the cookies Little P points out.  He even gave them cookies during Ramadan, and gave Little R a kiss on the cheek, which I felt was so very kind, given their sacrifices during Ramadan.  They lift their hands and laugh it off when Patrick runs around and grabs breadsticks out of baskets, while I follow him and toss them in the bag to purchase.  Whenever he says “Shukran,” the locals, even the taxi drivers, light up with joy, and you know that they appreciate our efforts to fit in the best we can, fair hair and all!

~M

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10 Aug 2014 TitleSo, here I am, not blogging in ages.  I think I last left everyone with a harried, I’m-working-again-so-this-whole-blog-thing-is-taking-a-back-burner….  and then days turned into weeks, months, and so on.

I do not want Practical Happyness to become an empty, forgotten spot in the virtual world, something I played with but couldn’t commit too, like a new lip gloss.  In the words of H, “do what YOU do, get back on the HORSE!”  He means this with regards to both writing and riding.  “You’ve been tossed through the air and landed on the ground and broke things off that crazy animal of yours (he’s referring to my retired thoroughbred gelding) and immediately gotten back on, I’m sure you can handle a keyboard.”

Yeah.  He’s referring to when I did actually get tossed into a jump standard where my hip met a 4x4 with such force that I couldn’t sit for months, and yet, my lovely friend and trainer at the time, L, helped me get up and get on one legged, with weight in my right stirrup, hitching my body up and forward off my rear, so that devil of a gelding couldn’t think he’d get away with that again.  The next morning the left side of my rump was black and blue all the way down to my knee and H made some lovely comparisons to marine boot camp and battle….hmmm, I guess he has a point.

So here I am…there is so much to share and tell you about the last several months.

We are here now, in Amman and the move has made me really collect my thoughts about a lot of things.

Leading up to the move was the most crazy time of my life- and my inner control freak was tested to the max.  The entire process of moving overseas for a FS family is harrowing, and if you can make it through without running off to Barbados, accidentally packing a child, or getting a divorce, then I say your marriage is going to be just fine!  You can’t pack a thing- you have multiple shipments and have to classify your entire life into “do I need this for the next two weeks, two months, two years” piles.  And while most people I know would be thrilled that they didn’t have to pack a thing and didn’t have to lift a finger, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand giving up that to anyone!  I’m moved countless times in my life, sometimes with less than 48 hours notice, and I learned the hard way that the only way to make sure all of my things remain with me is to do it myself!

When our UAB (the two weeks shipment, which turned into four weeks) arrived, my fears were confirmed when the hand painted wine glasses that were supposed to go into permanent storage were unpacked before my eyes….but some how our pots and pans which were clearly labeled didn’t make it here.  Oh well, I thought inwardly, I don’t have my kitchen knives, but at least I have a good glass to drink out of!  

A few other FS women had jokingly referred to their love affair with wine during a pre-deployment seminar we took…and they were right!  You sort, with a glass in hand, you watch the movers, and then RUN for the bottle as soon as they leave, and then there’s the endless happy hours and group gatherings as your departure gets closer, never without a glass to drink from and then catch your tears.  The only thing you need in the Residence Inn where you, your sister (who has lovingly agreed to make this journey to help out for a few weeks), two large dogs, and two rambunctious toddlers bunk up in less than 800 sq feet is, you guessed it, another bottle of wine!!  Hey, you can’t take it with you, so drink up!

Then there’s the flight and the layover and the impromptu stay in Germany because of a hold up with your wonderful canines….and more wine, or in this case beer, at an awesome little place in the airport with my sister 🙂

Allegedly our HHE (the two months shipment) will arrive in port tomorrow, but who knows how many more weeks it will take to actually get here!  Anyone want a glass of wine?

In all seriousness though, I wouldn’t change any of this for the world.  Up until a few months ago I didn’t even have a passport.  My kind of upbringing would have never included international travel, and now I’m beginning to collect these little stamps like badges of honor- including the unplanned one in Germany!

What an amazing adventure this will be for us and our children, and I’m hoping we get to do it more, because they are so young they won’t remember much about Amman, and that makes me sad.

So I’ve been thinking a lot on what I want this little corner of the internet to be for me.  Initially, Practical Happyness was supposed to be the place where I dumped all my thoughts about love, life and family.  Musings on life and happiness and womanhood, complete with cocktails and yoga and a good read.  Then it very much took a turn towards a mommy DIY blog with recipes and projects galore.  Of course it did, because it’s who I am- I love to DO things! I like those things, I enjoy sharing them and writing about my endless ideas for family and home.

Now we are here and my worldview is already changing so much.  I’m still that person from before, but I want to do more and share more here, and I’m not entirely sure how to go about it.  I know all of the blog guidelines and gurus say that having so many areas of focus would be disastrous for my stats!  Well, oh well I guess.  Because Practical Happyness was always about me, and so, as I usually do, I’m breaking the rules, and taking it to wherever I want, or letting it evolve to whatever it’s going to be!

Next post up will be about some adventures in this lovely city of Amman, in the beautiful country of Jordan.  It seems many folks back home need a little educating.  No we are indeed NOT in some awful place where I have to cover my hair and walk behind my husband….  🙂

A photographic preview:

The little amphitheater in downtown Amman.
The little amphitheater in downtown Amman.
My little man, contemplating life while having a snack upon ancient benches.
My little man, contemplating life while having a snack upon ancient benches.

 

View of the large amphitheater, still used today for events and weekly prayers.
View of the large amphitheater, still used today for events and weekly prayers.

….to be continued

Love & Happyness to All!

~M