Thursday, August 26, 2010

Days in the Garden

Here are some pics of us wandering around in the garden. It is really too hot to stay out there for very long, but we all like to walk around and check out the unfamiliar plants. Sometimes we sit in the sprinkler or chase Egypt the kitty.

There is a beautiful little arbor with a table. It will be nice to sit here on cool evenings. Assuming such evenings exist. I've heard things get cooler next month and are nice by October. If you look carefully in front you can see the nice blue tweety backpack that Grandma Susan bought T on Klima. We are getting lots of mileage out of it here!

Here are Mohammed (the driver) and Hamdi (the gardener) enjoying a small bit of shade. Mohammed has been sick all week so we've been taking taxis everywhere. Sometimes, Judy, our housekeeper comes with me and she gets in big arguments with the cab drivers. She says they are all cheats and lazy and they will rip us off if we aren't careful. Its true fares are lower when she rides with us, but the difference is mostly a dollar or two so its hard for me to worry too much. But is does give me a sense of what Judy's life in Cairo is like.

If this all seems very colonialist, it is. I saw a sign in Maadi (our expat neighborhood) yesterday for a pharmacy saying in English "Your health is our world." That would seem over the top if, say, CVS said that in DC, but here there does seem to be a group of people whose world (at work) is making things easier and better for foreigners. We're like these big babies who come here and have constant minders. But, since I don't know how to do anything myself, or even how to talk to people, I do need the help.

Here is Emmett on the seesaws at Thomas' school, the Cairo American College. It runs pre-K- 12th grade. The other day Dave and I were getting coffee at the stand in the high school building and we wandered into the college placement office. There was a big picture of the Bowdoin college campus. It was nice to think of the boys graduating from school in Cairo and going back to Brunswick for college. But I don't think we'll be here that long.

As Emmett and I were see-sawing, Thomas was showing off his moves for the youth soccer coach. We find out what team he is on this week. He's young for the league, and people here are great at soccer-- I saw some 6 year olds with mad skills at the try-outs, so we're hoping it isn't all too overwhelming for him. At his DC class last spring, they just had them run to different colored cones. That clearly will not cut it here. You can see Dave watching T in the first picture but sadly I didn't catch the little Ranaildo himself. Nonetheless E is in fine form on the see-saw.

Emmett is maybe the cutest thing anyone in Cairo has ever seen. Its normal here for people to come up and hug a strange baby, or pinch his cheeks. This happens a lot. All of the house staff competes for Emmett's attention and are very proud when he knows their name. If we ever want a special favor, say from the school administration or a shop that has already closed for the day, we've learned to carry Emmett in with us.

And then here's some shots from a water park T and I went to check out this week. Before we'd left the states, I'd found a list of fun kids activities in Cairo and read them to Thomas. I thought this was really good parenting to give him some concrete things to anticipate. Last weekend we asked him his favorite thing in Cairo so far, and he said, "the water parks." We were confused because we hadn't been to any. Then I remembered the list I'd read to him, which had included some water parks. So off we went after school on Sunday (Sunday is a school day here)--- when I told Mohammed where we wanted to go, he demurred that it was a little far-- maybe 40 minutes. I said it was Ok. Poor Mohammed-- it was really far through lots of traffic. I think we might have actually driven all the way to the Sudan. It was a big cheesy park by a random highway in the desert. Thomas and I were for sure the only westerners there. Thomas seemed not to notice and dove right in. I got a lot of bemused smiles from the other families.

The weirdest part was that I brought a t-shirt to cover my 2 piece suit since we were in a muslim country, but every lifeguard told me I had to take it off. Basically all the other women were wearing t-shirts too, so I just shook my head. But when we moved to a different splash pool the next lifeguard would come up to tell me that I couldn't wear a shirt. They also told me, after we'd been going down the slides for a while, that Thomas was too young to go down the slides. I looked around and all the other kids were around T's age. When I pointed this out (through pantomime and one-word English), the lifeguard shrugged, grinned and waved me past but said to hurry. I was glad to see Mohammed at the end of the hour, but was too shy to ask him about the weird t-shirt thing.

And here, for those of you with working zoom functions, is the first newsletter from Thomas' class at CAC. He's in the two group photos but you have to look.

Today he came home with a "Shokrun Splash" ticket. Shokrun is "thank you" in arabic, and they give out these slips when your child is "caught" being especially good. The teacher told me what Thomas had done to earn the slip, which I think amounted to following directions for the first time in 2 weeks. Yay Thomas!

And now, here is a memory from more carefree days, when there were no rules about t-shirts. xox


Anonymous said...

A BIG Shokrun Splash ticket to you Laura for all the news and pictures. Right off I'd like to sit in your garden and then go to the Water Park in Sudan. Found Thomas's face in the two school photos - He has a new warm weather no bangs haircut now. Emmett looks like a little blond frat boy. Give both a pinch for me.

love from your Mom

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Laura, You have to be the best mother in the world! What a treat to be able to share your experiences via the blog! Grandma Nancy