Oh joy! My last “regular” morning before my parents arrive and it was a great one. Another early start (we both woke even before Aya’s 6:00am dulcet tones) but we made good use of it. Nate took Yumi off to camp and I relished in the relative peace that comes from the absence of either Yumi or Emi. When they are together, it is like a mine field. Any moment, an explosion. I got the two younger girls ready, put Aya down for a nap, and did what may be my last home-exercise workout EVER. I knew, going into this experience, that I would not likely be able to workout at a gym this summer. I expected home workouts to be difficult—and they have been. For lots of reasons. Let’s just say I am a highly motivated person but this has tested my resolve. I am happy to say, however, that I have had a morning date with Tony Horton six days a week this entire summer. The workouts were often interrupted and were rarely more than 30 minutes but still. Still! I did it. Today may be my last as I will definitely not be working out Thursday through Sunday, and we leave on Wednesday. I think.
I took a little extra time getting ready this morning. I have not appeared in many photos this summer and there is a reason—I think I look terrible most of the time. I did not bring any hair styling implements or products so my hair has either been a drooping mop or piled up on my head. Once my signature white eyeliner ran out I stopped wearing much makeup. And my clothing? Ha. As I’ve mentioned before, I only brought two pair of pants and four tops. I always, ALWAYS look grubby. Today, however, in light of my recent scrub down, I felt compelled to do myself up a little. Nisreen will be delighted. She has cautiously mentioned before that she thinks I’d look “great” in make-up. :-) She, incidentally, is beautiful, and is always carefully made-up. This is normal among Arab girls, particularly if they wear the headscarf. As Nisreen put it, one feels compelled to accentuate one’s facial features with make-up when your head and hair are covered.
Looking rather nice, if I may say so, I slung Aya onto my front, took Emi’s hand, and headed down to Queen Alia’ Street. There, we caught a bus! Yes, I figured on this, my last “normal” day, we would go downtown by bus. I had imagined myself taking the bus everywhere this summer but quickly realized the agony involved would make any outing completely not worth it. Not that riding the bus itself is painful, but taking/relying on public transportation with three small girls...ugh. Not having Mayumi, though, made all the difference. Emi just quietly and nicely entertained herself while we waited ten minutes for the bus to arrive. Uncomplainingly she sat on my lap, wedged in on three sides by the seat in front, the man on our left, and Aya at her back. She just bounced on my lap and quietly sang “The Wheels on the Bus...” Darling. Aya, also squished between Emi and me, was a bit more wiggly, but was entertained by the man sitting behind me. All in all, it was great—great to hop on a bus like the good old days. And all for half a dinar.
The bus downtown doesn’t actually go all the way downtown. This would normally be another factor pointing away from public transportation. We had to walk at least fifteen additional minutes before we were at the main souq. Emi was, once again, Emi the Good. She just held my finger and skipped along side me.
The point of this visit was to scout out good clothing stores to which I can take my mother. She, too, loves Arab clothing styles, and wants to stock up. I want to take her shopping in the souq but wanted to identify a couple of good stores in advance. It was a good excuse, anyway, to come downtown. Oh, and when I told Nate I was going to scout out stores for my mother, he raised an eyebrow. “Just for your mother, eh?” Ha. I am sure I will end up with a few more tunics when I take her shopping but today was truly just a fact-finding mission. I DID find some great stores. I love how Arab women dress and look forward to trying out their look a little when I get back. While I do not intend to cover my head with a higaab (head scarf), I do love their long fitted tunics worn (usually) over fitted pants or jeans. I have a modest collection of these tunics at home and have since added to my collection. Maybe I'll post a picture of one of my purchases on Facebook.
Emi was a peach! We ended up at the juice stand where we chatting with our friends who run the place and drank our freshly squeezed orange juice. Found a taxi in a snap and sat in traffic for 20 minutes. Nate dropped Yumi off at the hotel shortly after we returned and we had lunch. Lunch, naps—all clockwork. So far, a GREAT day.
This afternoon: Both Erapie and Nisreen arrived late but at the same time. I left an awake Yumi to play with Erapie while Emi and Aya slept. To my surprise, Nisreen’s cousin was also waiting for me down in the lobby. I was wary, at first, at his request to sit in on our lesson; when I had a lesson with Nisreen late one evening in the hotel courtyard the hotel owner’s son had requested the same thing...and then sat and smoked and talked on his phone the whole time while sitting at our table. Annoying. I was wary with her cousin but felt embarrassed later when he revealed his true reason for wanting to show up at our lesson—to offer me a ride to the airport tomorrow to pick up my parents. It seems Nisreen has been telling him all about me/us the last month and he wants to help me out since Nisreen and I have become such great friends. Very kind. We had a great lesson, with her cousin only piping in when called on. Really, a very nice guy. As I have said before, I feel blessed to have found Nisreen. Our lessons and friendship have been an excellent (and much needed!) aspect to our last month in Amman. The cost of lessons and babysitting has completely eaten up Nate’s government per diem, but as far as I am concerned it has been well worth it. I hope he agrees...
Nate, too, had been studying in the hotel courtyard. He and I went upstairs to relieve Erapie. Once again, we found three happy girls. Yay! This time they were doing crafts. The Chub was standing on the coffee table and raised her arms in glee the moment we walked in the door. Love that Chub.
Dinner: bran cereal (not tasty), hummus and bread (yummy). Based on yesterday’s success with the post-dinner outing, I decided to try it again. This time I took everyone and gave Nate an extra hour of study. We went back to Abu Manal’s to pay (I forgot my money yesterday) and to buy fruits, diapers, and nail clippers. We chatted with the toy store owner’s wife (usually his son watches over the shop). We lingered about as we usually do. The people who work and linger about there must think we are pretty bizarre. This is what they are saying: “One day, this American family started showing up nearly every day and loitering for about an hour. They visit every shop, usually make some kind of purchase, and linger some more. Their kids are highly amusing, often crying, usually pretty grubby looking. And remember that day the youngest one’s diaper exploded and her parents were on their hands and knees, using an entire package of wipes to clean up the baby and stroller?”
Back at the hotel we had another seamless pre-bed period! Smoothies, scripture study, prayer and then (drum roll please)....microwave popcorn with some movie time. Oh, the girls were in heaven. Everyone in bed by 8pm. Perfect.
My parents come tomorrow! Yumi will be at camp but I will take Aya and Emi with me to the airport. I had planned on letting Erapie watch them while she babysits another set of kids from church, but now that I have car transport I think I’ll bring them. Let’s just hope that Aya does NOT wake at the crack of dawn again, considering she will NOT get a morning nap today. But whenever she wakes, I have reason to hope it will still be a great day. Yay...hope! A marvelous way to end this summer.