Saturday, July 28, 2012
27 July: Dead Sea
27 July Sabbath Day in Amman. Not the smoothest pre-church period possible; Yumi and Nate tangled, leaving us all irritated. No major altercations during the first meeting but keeping the girls occupied, in their seats, and quiet left us both wiped out. After the meeting Nate vocalized what I have thought many times: going to church USED to be an enjoyable and spiritually recharging experience. Not so much, anymore. Not since Yumi was born. I really like the Amman congregation, even in its diminished summer state. Ours is one of only three families with children currently attending services. There are many Filapina ladies, however, and a good handful of military men here with or without their wishes. Even in this stage of transition (state department families having left and incoming families not yet arrived), it is still as big as a congregation in which I was "stationed" when serving as a missionary in Japan. So the smallness of the group does not put me off. The services last only two hours normally but will begins reduced "summer" hours next week. 1.5 hrs-only two meetings. I am disappointed because, to be honest, I enjoy sending the girls off to primary and nursery for as long as possible. :-). However, I will try to be positive: with this new schedule, we could put the girls down even earlier for naps and have a longer period on Friday afternoons to go on a bigger outing. Out of town, say. Like we will attempt today! That is all I will say about that until it actually happens. After our usual romp around the church villa garden we returned to the hotel for lunch and naps. Not much to report there although some people continued to display some residual irritation from this morning. Not that our girls do not easily invoke irritation...they do. If it isn't Yumi hitting Emi than it is Emi knocking Aya down....and neither of the big girls giving any heed to anything us adults say. Nate and I often disagree on which approach is appropriate to take with them; considering they often act like unfeeling and disobedient barbarians, he tends to think an iron fist is the only sensible and appropriate response to their often terrible behavior. I am no endless fountain of patience but try (TRY!) to refrain from displays of anger and to be flexible and strategic in issuing consequences. I do not know...it is not fair of me to judge Nate for how he reacts to the girls because I am the first to admit that they are hard....hard. But I often get defensive when he does get irritated with them. I tend to flinch at the tone of his voice and wonder at how quickly he has lost his patience. That being said, I am a total hypocrite! I just now contradicted everything I said. It is 1:47pm. On a typical day, I may not have even put the girls down for their naps, but on Fridays we really have nothing else to do after church and we put the girls down early. Today, that was 12:15pm. Both Aya and Emi usually sleep for at least two hours so I made our afternoon plans for 3pm. I was counting on them getting a good rest so as to be in the best possible mood for our upcoming adventure. Well, I can tell Emi has not gone to sleep and of course Yumi is awake in the bathroom. Normally, she just crafts away until I get her 1.5 hrs later, but about five minutes ago she started fiddling with the doorknob and moaning. I don't know if it was that noise (she was being quite loud) or what, but Aya woke unexpectedly and sadly. She is crying hard in her bed right now, after only a 1.5 hr nap. Grrrr. I am now annoyed and much of that is directed to Yumi who may (or may not) have awakened her. Yumi kept up the rattling and moaning and, instead of ignoring it or going to the bathroom door and nicely whispering to her to keep quiet, I did exactly the opposite of what I said I aim to do in such situations. I practically shouted at her to knock it off. Well--no one was asleep so why keep my voice down? Alright, so not a wild rampage of anger, but definitely not calm and cool. I was annoyed and I showed it. No patience involved. This afternoon: We went to the Dead Sea! I was hesitant to mention in this record my plans earlier in case they fell through. Lindsay, my friend visiting Amman for work, is moving on to Jerusalem via a two day rest stop at the Dead Sea. I figured--why not? We have had success lately with Jamila-type adventures so why not keep the ball rolling. Since Nate usually goes into the embassy after church on Fridays and stays for hours, the afternoons are always a bit long and lonely for me. I figured this was both the best chance to take the girls to the Dead Sea and the best way to spend a Friday afternoon. We know a guy who moonlights as a driver so I called him and asked for his best price. His offer was not what you would call cheap (approximately $50 for the round trip) but cheaper than what the guidebook advised. I cringed at the thought of hiring a driver for a trip I could normally make via public transport and/or hitchhiking. I had my doubts about both of those options and not just because I'd have the girls with me. The heat, Ramadan, the fact that Lindsay's hotel (the Marriott!) is not on the main road, AND the girls--all major wrenches in the public transport/hitchhiking plan. No, I had to be pragmatic and acknowledge that the whole trip would be a colossal disaster and fun for no one IF I did not arrange for a private car. We may have rented a car for less than that BUT how to drive a car with three girls rattling around in the back without cars eats? Nate really needed to study so I could not ask him to drive while I sit in the back with the girls (or visa versa). Justifications abound--so I called Ahmad and arranged for a 3:00pm pickup. Considering everyone was up by 1:45pm so we bumped the time up to 2:30pm. He and his cousin picked us up and away we went. The girls did fine on the ride, bouncing and wriggling around more than I would prefer but what really can I do? Ahmad's cousin and I chatted the entire ride while the girls worked their way through the grapes, apple slices, and cheese sticks in my bag. I'd bought my iPad but did not find it necessary for entertainment. Before we knew it--45 minutes later--we were pulling up to the Marriott. We spent an enjoyable 1.5 hrs with Linds. The Marriott is right on the Sea so it was just a walk down through the hotel's amazing network of pools and waterfalls. The girls strained to be let loose to play in the pool but we passed by them, heading even further down, down, down below sea level. At least we arrived at the rocky beach and the shimmering sea of salt. It was blisteringly hot and the sun beat down on the glassy water. The girls, suited up for swimming, marched right in. Emi sprang out just as quickly; the little scrapes and cuts on her legs had begun to sting due to the salt. She was so miserable that Lindsay offered to take her back up to her room to get her washed off. Yumi, on the other hand, really got into the experience. She floated with her hands guiding her on the bottom of the shallow water. When a Palestinian family came down to the beach and began to slather themselves in the famous Dead Sea mud, Yumi joined them and covered her body and face in the stinky stuff. I had neither a bathing suit on or freedom to swim due to Aya on my hip, but I waded in and enjoyed the experience with Yumi. Later, she insisted that she did not like the water, but ultimately I had to persuade her to get out when it was time to leave. We all washed off in Lindsay's shower and got ready to return to Amman. Ahmad and his cousin were waiting in the lobby, ready to get back to Amman by sunset and Iftar. The return trip was much like the trip out: snacks, wiggling, lots of Arabic chatting opportunities with Ahmad's cousin. Glad I brought lots of snacks as they helped keep morale up to a acceptable level. The girls did complain and fight a bit but nothing unmanageable. We returned nearly at the same time as Nate and ate leftovers for dinner. Emi was sent to bed without all of her "toys" (read: junk) and cried hard about it for a while. Just now, at 10:30pm, she started to cry again and Nate found her stuck between her bed and the wall. He was so sad--worried that part of her crying earlier in the evening was because she had been stuck, and she had simply just fallen asleep in that position. I assured him that I sincerely doubted that was the case. Her cries were normal angry cries and not those of fear or pain. All the same--too bad she had been so sad AND that she had fallen into crack between bed and wall. All in all, a great adventure. I feel a renewed sense of excitement about our last three weeks here before my parents arrive. Maybe we do not have to solely make the rounds of amman's sandy parks and indoor play areas. Maybe we can actually have some adventures!