Thursday, July 26, 2012
26 July: The littlest tourists in Amman
25 July Another 11 hour sleep for Ayame Little Pants! We do not "sleep in" here by any stretch, but because we usually go to bed by 10:30pm we get a full night's rest of 7-8 hrs. Potential altercation with Yumi mostly averted this morning as well. I caught her slapping Emi hard multiple times on the back and insisted on a time out. She screamed and refused all kind gestures after her time out was over. I tried the same tactic as last night--informing her of the consequence for continued hysterics and then giving her one more chance to shriek. It worked! She was distracted by the novelty of getting out one more shriek and then pointed out something amusing Aya was up to. I jumped on that chance for diffusion with humor and made a big deal of Aya's silliness. Before I knew it, everything was back to normal. I was able to discipline Yumi, as was necessary, but it did not devastate everyone. Yay! If course, I am looking forward to the day when she accepts discipline with a mild "alright, mother," but I am happy with how far she has come. I had tagged today for a trip downtown, assuming (rightly) that there would be less people on the sidewalks due to Ramadan and the heat. This, I hoped, would simplify navigating around with little girls my wake. I initially made nothing but the simplest plan--to find an open juice shop and drink--but our success at the citadel the other day emboldened me. Why not visit the Roman Amphitheater? My last (and only) visit there was in 1999 as a BYU Jerusalem Center student. I remember standing on the "stage" and belting out some show tune. I had an inkling the girls might like it and, considering the amphitheater is right in downtown Amman , I decided to add to our outing today. Success again! They loved it. Yumi wanted to climb to the top--something I wholeheartedly supported but nixed when I found climbing with her, with Aya in the ergo, to be really scary. Emi had not wanted to climb up with us and we had left her down at the bottom by herself. I suddenly realized how irresponsible it all was and got down as quickly and safely as possible. I was so pleased, however, that the girls were enjoying themselves despite the heat and lack of princesses/dressups/slides/etc. They just loved having the space in which to move around freely. The acoustics in the theatre were an added bonus. Lots of calling back and forth. We wandered into the small museum. The primary exhibit featured many manikins (with faces) dressed in Bedouin garb and posing in the act of various traditional activities. The girls were fascinated and frightened by it, but their fascination won out and they had to be persuaded to leave after over twenty minutes of exploring. This gave me plenty of time to chat with the guy running the museum. He and the tourist police officer were very cute with all three girls, offering us water from the employee kitchen. We were all drenched in sweat and I knew I needed to get the girls food and (bottled) water soon or I'd have a riot on my hands shortly. Thing is, they were having too much fun to want to leave. Promises of juice finally lured them out the door. It took about 20 minutes to walk to the nearest open juice stand; along the way, we found (and bought) water, sesame bars, and two flimsy tiaras from street vendors. Thus, I am happy to say, I still had happy girls when we arrived at the end of our long hot walk and stopped for juice. While the big girls drank in the shade, poor Aya had to follow me out into the street to try to get a taxi. And alhamdulileh I found one--beating out three other people who lunged for it. I hollered for Yumi and Emi who, thankfully, obediently came and jumped into the back seat. I ignored the driver's repeated question "where do you want to go?" until we were all safely in. I was not taking any chances that he would refuse to go as far as our hotel--at least a 20 minute ride away. The whole experience was delightful! Oh, the girls began to fight over their silly little tiaras and accompanying hair clips so I had to confiscate them, but the above-mentioned tactic nipped yet another Yumi fit almost in the bud. Whew! Lunch and naps! This afternoon: Arapee came at 3:30pm to watch the girls during my lesson. Only Yumi was up so they were able enjoy some games and play dough together. By the time I returned an hour later, Emi was still asleep! I think that helped matters considerably. My lesson was, as always, awesome. Worth every penny. While I waited for Nisreen to arrive, and she was 15 minutes late, I sat in the lobby and chatted with the hotel owner's son--the one who recently graduated and for which the party in the hotel courtyard was held. He is very cultured, wealthy, and of course fluent in English, but he was kind enough to allow me to engage him in a conversation about his field of interest--manufacturing engineering. A strange and difficult topic in which to try to have a conversation in Arabic, but I persevered. The real martyr here was the hotel owner's son, however. The fact that the beloved cook Mohaned, who was sitting with us, kept shaking his head and laughing, alerted me to how incomprehensible my speech became as I strayed out of familiar topics. Well, practice makes perfect, right? Mayumi, Ayame, and I went to Safeway after Nate got home. He stayed behind with Emiko Leila. It ended up being a long and arduous experience--we did not get home until 6:50pm--and I just realized I forgot one of the main items I hoped to buy. Safeway does have a small buffet of grilled meats and rice which was up and running despite ramadan. I bought as much chicken, rice, and veggies as I figured could fit into our postage stamp refrigerator. I am considering a big afternoon outing tomorrow so having dinner already sorted will be helpful. Check in tomorrow to see if it pans out... Pre-bed routine was fine. The girls got to watch about 20 minutes of one of their favorite Disney Arabic movies--"Lilo and Stitch"--for reaching their respective goals. Yumi earned all her stars today despite several mini fits. Emi hadn't any toilet accidents. She has been having minor accidents lately--nearly every day for the last week--so we are going back to focusing on getting her to the toilet regularly and rewarding dryness. I guess I cannot complain; she potty trained within a matter of days before we left for Jordan and she has been amazing this whole time. I bet with some incentives and attention on the matter and she'll be accident-free again. Inshallah. We are heading early to bed tonight. This was a physically demanding day for me and intellectually/linguistically demanding for Nate.