Wednesday, June 13, 2012

13 June: Amman Children's Museum!

13 June Today we hit the jackpot.  After a night with no wake-ups and the usual morning routine, us girls jumped into a cab with the intention of going to "The Bird Garden" again.  While a little shabby and definitely hot in the noon sun, it has a teeter totter that thrilled the girls (first time) and I expect there are always a few people there I could chat with.  My newly acquired map from the embassy told me that there are other gardens near by, possibly within walking distance of the bird garden, and maybe a potentially kid-friendly spot.  As you have likely gathered from my past few posts, I have come to realize that I must change my approach to this summer: I need to find kid-friendly activities that hopefully allow for arabic chatting opportunities for both me and the girls.  You may all be thinking...well, of COURSE.  But I had a different idea that largely involved doing all the things I used to do while here, namely running here and there, on public transportation, with no real objective except to talk to people and eat good food, ideally on the street OR in the homes of the random people I met along the way.  Well, as I have noted here, this plan was not really working out for the girls.  At least not yet.  Hopefully they'll buy into it later on but for now I have decided to take a different tack EVEN if it means doing embarrassing things only rich Jordanians and expatriates do.   So, when our cab driver suggested that we head not to the bird garden but to the royal King Hussein park where they have activities for kids, I decided to go with it.  Such an activity would have never been on my to do list before, but things have changed.  So off we went.  Cutely, Yumi really got into my new map and wanted me to show her where we were every step of the way to the royal gardens.  Which was good for me--plenty of chance to talk to the driver about the names of the streets and the neighborhoods through which we were passing.  After 20 minutes we arrived.  I was surprised--I'd been there before!  The park is also home to the royal automobile museum (the late King Hussein was a real auto fanatic).  I went to this museum with Nate back in 2006.  What I missed back then was that right next door is the Children's Museum.   The girls had A BLAST.  Look at my Facebook status to see some pictures.  The bonus for me was that 1) I could actually set Aya down for once (she was thrilled) and 2) while the girls ran around and played MADLY, I got to chat with the hundreds of Jordanian employees of the museum.  There was seriously at least one in each of the many sections of the museum and most of them seemed interested in talking to me.  So i got in more than my usual chatting time (since the girls were occupied), the girls were happy, and I learned the words for things like Skeleton and Radish and Imagination.  I had to pry the girls away after two hours since I knew that the moment we got into the cab they'd be hungry and tired.  And they were but they did really well on the ride home.  In keeping with my commitment to let go of some of my previous plans and try something that may work better, we ate lunch at the hotel.  We do have a refrigerator and a melted cheese and pita sandwiches, fruit, and milk was what we had.  Now--I could cry thinking how silly it is to have a cheese sandwich when hummus and falafel are only yards away, but it was the first lunch the girls actually ate since we arrived.  So there you have it!  I have to be flexible. Considering that I am neither currently working on a grad course and nor keeping up a house, there is quite a bit of "dead time" between activities (outings, naps, meals, whatever).  This is time where the girls would be playing (or fighting...ugh!) around the house and I would be quickly cleaning up after the last meal, throwing in a batch of laundry, our putting dinner in the crockpot.  I am using "dead time" here to do ABC flash cards with Yumi, stories (we didn't bring any toys but we did bring books), or learning games on the iPad.  It's both a little weird/hard for me to not have toys around for them to entertain themselves AND good that we can have these one-on-one learning moments.  This is what I did today with Yumi and Emi while waiting for Aya to take from her afternoon nap.  Once she was up, we went down the street to the roadside fruit guy and chatting with him while eating lots of great fruit.  Nate just happened to be coming back from his first day of classes (he was placed in the most advanced level!) and ran into us on the street.  More chatting.  We returned to the hotel to drop off the fruit and then went off to dinner on rainbow street.  We decided to mix it up by offering the girls something that resembled pizza (it was really a naan-type bread with pizza sauce, mozzarella, and veggies rolled up just like a shawarma) and freshly squeezed/blended juice (something you find on most commercial streets the middle east).  Aside from that fact that Emi cried most of the taxi ride home (I prevented her from crawling out the window of the backseat while the car was moving, how mean), it was a pleasant evening and definitely the best day we've had yet.

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