Sunday, August 25, 2013

Photo Dump

So I recently took a look at all of the photos on our camera; they go back at least as far as June, so there were a lot.  Here's a sample.

A plant outside our (previous) apartment.  Our landlord told me its name, but I don't remember.  What I do remember, and what prompted me to take these pictures, is that it blooms at night and it smells really strong.  The first time it bloomed in the spring, we woke up in the middle of the night and had to close the windows.  And take some Claritin.  But it's pretty.

Highchair shenanigans:
(also, why didn't anyone tell me his hair looked so ridiculous?  oh wait, there may have been hints from a few folks.  don't worry; there's a haircut coming in here somewhere)

In Amman with little buddy Andy (they bonded over shredding Kleenex):

Tooling around Charles de Gaulle on our way to the States:

First birthday party with the cousins:

Packing (or unpacking - who knows anymore?):
First time in a pool (thanks Emelia!):

Post-haircut tube crawl (thanks again Emelia!):

Proof that we were in New York (in spite of our best efforts to get lost en route):

Favorite book:

At home in our new apartment:

These show nothing of the conference I attended in July, most of the family and friends that we visited, first time on a swing (thanks Eli!), progress on teeth and walking, trip back (highly successful in spite of having to fly separately), outings around here, new job, etc.  But enough is enough. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fired Up!

We've been back in Ramallah for about a week after three weeks of travel in the US, and our comings and goings have been marked by fireworks. 

On our last night here in late June, Little Guy woke us up shortly before midnight.  While all three of us lay awake, the neighborhood suddenly erupted in cheers and fireworks.  This was in a residential area and pretty far removed from most of the noise and festivities, which were downtown.  In fact, we might normally not have heard it at all except that we had packed up our fan, so we didn't have our usual white noise.  Fortunately, we knew what all the excitement was about.  That night the Arab Idol finale was airing, so we could guess that the Palestinian from Gaza had won.  Hooray! 

Then, on one of our first days back in town, we started hearing firecrackers at about 9:00 AM on what was otherwise a VERY quiet morning (Friday during Ramadan).  Really?  Who bothers with fireworks during the day?  Ah, the tawjihi results just came out (high school exams), and students were celebrating their success, all day long and well into the night (when fireworks are much more effective). 

And, to round things out, a highlight of our trip (for me, at least) was a spectacular fireworks display on the Hudson River at the end of the conference I attended.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Apparently Pandora still doesn't work outside the US, Australia, and New Zealand (I wasn't really holding my breath on this one).  But some friends recently clued us in: Jango works exactly the same way!  And it works here!  When we tire of our iTunes collection, we no longer have to rely on YouTube mixes, which range from monotonous to inexplicable.  Did you know that if you type in Sinead O'Connor (don't judge my musical tastes based on this example; Little Guy is a blank slate for musical interests so we listen to everything I can think of and tolerate) and then click on the mix, you wind up with a playlist that includes a) only one Sinead O'Connor song that isn't blocked for licensing reasons (probably because it's House of the Rising Sun, so not actually her song) and b) the likes of Bryan Adams (yes, with video clips of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves), Aerosmith (yes, with video clips of Armageddon), the final dance from Dirty Dancing, and (wait for it!) Eminem's Love The Way You Lie?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Food Stories

1) I've mentioned before that produce is very affordable here.  Just wanted to show you what that looks like.  We spent less than $7 total on all of the peppers, lemons, and avocados shown below:

2) Little Guy eats a lot of oats.  Recently, I've also started cooking some semolina (smeed in Arabic, which is always fun to say) for him.  We usually add fruit to his cereals, but today I mixed in dehydrated peas.  Sound delicious?  Wait, it gets better.  I call this, cleverly, Pea Smeed.  It looks a little like pistachio pudding (are you hungry yet?).

I was snacking while I fed him Pea Smeed; Cheerios and peanut butter for me (you know, also legume and grain, but so much tastier).  Why don't I eat Cheerios with milk like a normal person?  Simple: a) there is no milk in our house and b) peanut butter is good.

Which brings me to another story.

3) I love peanut butter.  I have consumed it in unreasonable quantities since I was very small.  I typically prefer natural peanut butter, but that's impossible to find here, and I don't have a blender or food processor to make it myself.  For the first couple of weeks after we arrived, I scoured the peanut butter shelf every time we went to the supermarket and, ultimately, turned up my nose at the lots-of-sugar-added options.  But then I got desperate; I had to pick something.  Like everything else (except produce, obviously!), peanut butter is expensive, BUT our supermarket sold small-ish jars of Luna brand peanut butter (from Saudi Arabia) for about $2.  I tried it and, in spite of the sugar, it tasted good.  So all was well for about 10 days, and I ate a lot of peanut noodles for lunch.
Then I bought the last jar of Luna peanut butter off the shelf at our store.  No problem, I figured, they've sold out (to me!), but they'll restock soon, certainly before I finish off this jar.  So I checked back.  Again.  And again.  Nothing.  I started making special trips to other supermarkets in our area.  Ethan popped into every market that he passed coming home each day.  No sign of Luna peanut butter.  Even the super-big branch of the market we use had no Luna.

Reality sank in: I ate the last jar of Luna peanut butter ever made.

Finally, desperate again (this IS peanut butter we're talking about), I surveyed my remaining options (Peter Pan, Kroger, American Garden, Magic Time...there are plenty to choose from, but they're all basically the same) and bought one.  It cost more than double what Luna did.  But it had to be done.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Catching Up

Today's upload of photos from our camera tells me that I'm behind on a couple of things.

First, Mother's Day, March 21!  "Little Guy" bought me a rose bush with this lovely yellow bloom:
He also got me some delectable snacks from Crumbs.  The super highlight was the Black Forest Cake.

(no, the pasta wasn't from Crumbs; it was just part of the whole delicious dinner enjoyed with E's company AFTER Little Guy went to bed)

Next, Little Guy can get up on all fours, can sit up on his own, and has his first tooth.

(how is he UNDER this pillow?)

A friend hosted a wonderful Easter brunch over the weekend, with outstanding coffee cake, carrot cake, frittata, roasted vegetables, mimosas w/ fresh-squeezed orange juice, strawberry salad, and more.  This picture (as usual) doesn't do it justice.
And finally, yesterday there was this:
It's not necessarily obvious what this is, so I'll help you out.  This picture was taken through our kitchen window (there are bars outside the window) and features the empty lot next to our house which, at the time, was being visited by our neighborhood's herd of goats.  We see this herd around from time to time while we're out walking, but I've never seen it stop to graze at this spot before.  However, this slope has both long grass and assorted debris - a goat's paradise.  This might make you assume that we live in a rural area.  Nope.  We definitely don't live downtown; we're in a more residential area, essentially a suburb of Ramallah.  But you can tell from this picture that we aren't in the middle of nowhere.  On the contrary, the goats are in the middle of everything:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Run!

Yesterday I went running, for the first time this year, for the first time in...many months, not quite the first time since Little Guy was born but pretty close.  And it was great.  It was hardly an impressive run (we don't really need to talk stats here, do we?), but it was more than the minimum goal that I had set for myself, and it really wasn't hard.  Apparently all of the trekking up and down hills is better cardio prep than I expected.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Babyproofing in Palestine

With the exception of fresh produce (admittedly a very significant exception), things here are very expensive.

We had been hunting around for a highchair, could find nothing affordable, and were spending a lot of time lamenting the loss of Craigslist and the multitude of thrift stores we had access to in the States.  But then we mentioned our highchair search to our landlord who assured us that there were, indeed, places to buy used stuff in Ramallah, and he offered to keep an eye out on our behalf.  And a few days later, for a handy 90 shekels, we had this:
Hooray!  So much easier to feed the child or let the child hang out to play with toys or, best of all, watch the laundry spin in our fancy washing machine.
Then it was time to address playspace in the living room.  We'd had a quilt laid down where Little Guy could play, but he rolls around like crazy right now so there was still a lot of trying to keep him away from cold, hard tile floors, wooden furniture, and, let's face it, carpet that really needs to be vacuumed.  I'd set him on his quilt with some toys, walk away to sweep the kitchen floor, and hear myself say, "Tiny Face, can I trust you not to jack yourself?" as if this were the beginning of a productive conversation about self-care.  And more often than not, this is where he'd be after a couple of minutes:
So over the weekend we rearranged the furniture to create a play corner for him that, at least for now, he can't get out of.  It should be noted that this area isn't actually isolated from hazards; there are still plenty of furniture edges to crash into, for example.  It's not babyproofing so much as it is baby-confining.  But I'm all for it!