Tuesday, July 03, 2012
3 July: A star-spangled cake
3 July Being as tomorrow is Independence Day, I suppose it was only fitting that we went to the embassy this morning for a pool playdate. There will be a large party there tomorrow but I do not think we are going; I believe we had to submit our SSNs in advance (we did not) AND Nate will have school/study anyway. As it happens, I went to the Independence Day party thrown by the US embassy in Cairo back in 2004. Have I mentioned this before on my blog? I went on a whim, by myself, and marveled at the strangeness of fully veiled women serving up cotton candy and other paradoxical sights. I may not be attending the embassy party in Jordan but I partook of a pre-4th party cake that was left for all to share in the embassy club dining room. It originally had to have been the size of a table--a multi-layer cake coved with the stars and stripes in fondant. Fabulous. As I said, we went this morning to the embassy. This was after the usual routine...no, wait, after an abrupt awakening at 6am with Aya screaming. I hope she does not plan on making a routine of that! We figured putting her back to bed was pointless and all the ruckus naturally woke Yumi. I am sure she woke Emi as well, but Emi gets her own room and cannot open the door herself. :-). I don't mind that one bit. Fortunately, she entertains herself and doesn't make a fuss when she wakes. I could see HER light on as well shortly after Aya's upset but did not release her until closer to 7am. That gave us a little time to recover from our bumbling and hasty dash to get Aya before she woke anyone else. Nate left early so I bathed the girls, made them oatmeal, and took then downstairs for my breakfast. Have I mentioned that I have given up on getting them to eat the hotel breakfast? I need to photo the breakfast buffet sometime and post it on Facebook. It is amazing to behold--who would not want to eat it? Yumi and Emi, that's who. Aya will happily eat anything, but she cannot get through pita very well and I wanted her to get some more grains. So I've been making them each a small bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with honey and some of the fresh fruit we always have around. That way, I do not have to stress while I enjoy my breakfast. They will usually eat something from the buffet and then spent the rest of the time playing with the parrot and the chef Mohaned. Sigh. Compromises. I got in a bit of a workout...30 minutes only and regularly interrupted by the girls. It amazes me that some of my friends can get their workout while their kids play nicely around them...or even more astounding--elsewhere. Yumi is getting increasingly tired of Dora's Skywriting ABCs on the iPad, and not that I can blame her. "LOUDER!!" Yumi frequently complains that Dora is "mean.". Does anyone have any other quality ABC iPad apps to recommend? Keeping her on task involves a lot more interaction with her than I'd prefer during my workout. And then Emi--her activity during my workout used to be crafts but she's lost interest. Now all she wants to do is climb up on the barstool next to Yumi and look at the iPad. Nope! No can do. It only takes seconds for fighting to breakout when that happens. And even if not, I am still conflicted about plunking Yumi in front of an electronic device and I'd rather spare Emi if I can. So I need to come up with a different plan for both girls during my workout; I may found something for Emi today. Keep reading! After the workout and shower we headed off. Later than planned but my new friend Charish had assured me that I could show up at any time. She has to actually leave the pool to sign me in, but there were apparently other people she knew there who could watch her kids while she left to escort us in. Thus, we were headed over there later than planned but I was to worried. I was even feeling good because, for the first time, I successfully explained to the taxi driver how to get us to the closest drop off spot behind the embassy. Considering we've tried fine times unsuccessfully, I was pleased. My pleasure turned sour, however, when I realized upon arriving that I'd left my passport at the hotel. Again! I called Charish...and was relieved to learn that my driver's license will do. Whew! I was definitely not going to go back and return again but felt terrible for the girls all dressed in their swimsuits and ready to play. Several of my new friends were there and the girls had plenty of playmates. Yumi made some headway in her modest attempts to swim; I got her to go out into the pool holding on just to a "noodle." This is a HUGE step in the right direction for her. Emi thankfully entertained herself very well and, also thankfully, someone had an infant floaty we could borrow for Aya. She was a good sport about it but I could see she really wanted to be free to swim with the big girls. I love that Ayame Little Pants! I love then all and was happy to spend some quality one-on-one time with each girl today while the others occupied themselves or were in the care of others. I am also pleased that I had a chance to chat with with one of the Jordanian lifeguards. I have seen her there each time we have come but this time we connected. Zein and her other female life guard colleague wear WAY MORE clothing than Baywatch lifeguards, I can assure you. Long sleeved shirts, long shorts, and leggings underneath the shorts. I am sure this is by choice since I doubt the US embassy would enforce such a dress code on its lifeguards. Of course I admire them for their modesty...modesty is in such short supply in the rest of the world. Everyone was having so much fun at the pool that suddenly it was 12:30pm. I had brought snacks but no lunch so it was decision time; Cherish had mentioned wanting to visit a toy shop nearby that features quality wooden interactive/open-ended toys. It is so close, in fact, that she proposed to walk over...after she and her kids ate lunch from the embassy club restaurant. My girls were doing just fine and I figured this one time we could do what all kids love to do--eat American grub poolside. That is why, then, I ended up in a dining room next to the remains of a gigantic American flag cake. I ordered cheese sandwiches for the girls and a green salad for me...shocked at the price...left with just enough cash for return cab fare. Ouch! Happy kids, though. They shoveled it down (Aya sat under the table and ate hers) and in no time we were headed over to the toy store. The store was darling and I got something for each girl. Hopefully Emi's item--one of those fruit/veggie sets you can cut with the included knife and cutting board--can be her mommy workout time activity. Well, it WILL be, but the new challenge will be keeping Yumi away from the fruit and focused on Dora. All of this took time, though, so we did not get back and down for naps until 3pm!! Everyone was fine, though. More positive behavior from Yumi today. Some complaining, so wrestling with Emi, one threat that she will "never again make a map for me for as long as I live," but all-in-all, decent behavior peppered by kindnesses and hugs. Such a relief. This evening--the girls did not get up from naps until nearly 5pm! We met up with Nate and he took Aya, Emi, and the latest batch of laundry to Abu Manal. I took Yumi to the main commercial district--thaqaafa street--to a sports store. I hoped to find floaties and a new water bottle. We found floaties (and goggles and a new bathing suit for me) but only a sub-standard bottle. I know I should have brought more than one of those great nalgene bottles my sister Lindsay gave us!! We met up with the second half of our family at the restaurant where we at our first night in Jordan. We were joined by the cousin of an old coworker of mine for an introductory meeting. It was fun to chat with him and dinner was tasty but it was getting late. We walked back and had pleasant conversations with the girls along the way. A nice evening. We are tired. I am a bit anxious, wondering if Yumi will enjoy the "Arabic camp" she is scheduled to attend tomorrow. It is basically a summer camp co-op for Jordanian-American kids who are trying to learn more Arabic. Yumi was invited to join by Amanda, my new friend who lives on Rainbow Street with the garden terrace. I will write more about it tomorrow but I will be a bit anxious until she tries it out.