I Did It Again!

Everyone has been guilty of it. At least, I hope I’m not alone in this. But I have this tendency to put important things in a “really safe place” and then when it comes time that I really need them, said “really safe place” has completely left my mind. Last time it was a social security card. Only took 5 days, but I found it. The application for health coverage took a little longer to find. Well, a lot longer. Like…6  months longer. But in my defense, someone rearranged all the paperwork in my stacked filing system. For crying out loud, would you people just STOP touching my desk!? But this one is a doozy.

I placed the tassels for Randa and Ismail’s graduation caps in a drawer so that no one would lose them. And I don’t remember which drawer. I’ve searched them all. And poof. They’re gone. And while I have until Sunday to find them, I really don’t. Because Randa has an awards ceremony for the seniors in the Special Education department and she is supposed to wear her cap and gown tomorrow. *sigh*

One of these days I’m going to find a “very special place” that is just a blatant out in the open place with a lock on it to keep nosy people and meddling hands away. Of course, you know what that means, right? I’ll just lose the damn key.

Gainful Employment *OR* 1 Down 4 to Go

Yesterday afternoon, while I was sweating my ass off in the kitchen making dinner and washing up the dishes that the kids had stacked up to just under the spigot so that I had to lift it up in order to unwedge the large pot from between it and every dish I own under it, my mobile phone rang. (Okay, it didn’t actually ring. It played some bizarre ass Portuguese song called ‘O Sol’ that I don’t understand because, even though I speak  5 languages, Portuguese is not one of them.) I squeezed the excess water (2/3 of which was probably just sweat) from my t-shirt and answered the phone. It was my husband’s cousin.

She called to offer my son, Ismail, a job. She’s working at a bakery now and in need of someone to work with her selling bread, breadsticks, cookies, muffins, zweiback toast and this awesome, flaky Egyptian pastry thing called FATEER. Anyway, she had heard me talking about how he was on my last nerve and in need of a job to keep him busy and to help him to learn responsibility. I could hear Ismail and his older brother starting to argue, so I told her I’d stop over at her  place after I fed them.

Fast forward through the next 3 hours of my typical, only-boring-because-of -the-repetition-and-not-because-my-kids-don’t-try-to-kill-each-other kind of day and I sent Samiya (nearly 13) to her French lesson at the lecture center, Randa (16) was taking a nap, Mohamed (17) was at the cyber-cafe and Ismail (14) and Aiman (11) were just chilling out watching television. I quickly got dressed and ran over to Abir’s house. She looked completely knackered. Poor thing.

She’d been at work from 7am until 2pm. She stopped to buy food on her way home and ran home to cook, fed the boys (ages 5, 6, 9 and 10) and then hustled the three oldest out the door to the lecture center (where my daughter goes.) The water had been shut off in their building all day long and she couldn’t do the dishes or wash the mountain of clothes that 4 young boys will go through playing soccer in the dirt all day while she was at work. I could totally feel her pain.

So, she started talking to me about the job and explained that because he is strong, he would help her to lift the trays in and out of the ovens. Also, she knows that he is trustworthy. She knows he’s ornery as hell but that he doesn’t steal and that he has a good work ethic. I was honored that she offered him the position before her own siblings. Anyway, I texted his father and let him know what was going on. He said, COOL. So the boy began work this morning at 7 a.m.

He was up and dressed by 6:45 and out the door to meet Abir just seconds after I insisted he wait until I unlock the door. (We can’t have an Ismail-shaped  hole in the door, now can we?) I went back to bed. HE got the job not me.

I called him around 12:30 to see how he was doing. He really liked it. He asked if he could stay until 3 if they needed him and I said yes. He came through the door at 2:30pm, happy as a clam with his daily pay in his pocket.

He had his dinner and we started his English lesson. About 30 minutes into it, I could see his eyelids fighting to stay open. I told him to take a shower and hit the sack. In all the excitement about starting work, he couldn’t fall asleep until nearly 3 in the morning. He was out like a light by 6pm.

I am so happy. That old phrase “busy hands are happy hands” could not be more appropriate. When he doesn’t have something to occupy his time, he gets creative…usually in a very ornery sort of way. I just can’t wait until Saturday. Samiya and Aiman will be heading back to school then and I may have peace in my household again by October. WOOHOO. Can’t wait.

Finding Ismail

Finding Ismail

Everyone goes through that pre-teen/teenager 
search time in his or her life. Some earlier than 
others. My third child, Ismail, is ten years old. And
I’m a little confused as to why HE is hanging out 
in the “personality fitting room” of life instead of 
his 14 year old brother. I mean, I expect my teenager
to be trying on “the gangster” or “the emo” person-
alities right now. When I was his age, I wore “the 
jock-ette” and “the sharp witted clown” suits quite
comfortably. In fact, I never took them off. But Hamo
seems to be content still in his “artist pajamas” from
way back in kindergarten. Ismail, on the other hand,
has a rotisserie style of personalities (from the sales
racks, I might add) that include ensembles from 
“thug,” “wannabe rap artist (hold the rhythm),” “bossy
McBosspants,” “sweet, helper boy,” “mean bully guy.”
I don’t understand the attraction to most of his favorite
designs. I REALLY like “sweet, helper boy.” This is
the guy who does the dishes for me without being 
asked, volunteers to take out the trash or pick up what
I need from the market. He defends his sisters, brothers,
neighbors and cousins and even picks up trash off of the 
stairs when his slovenly cousins toss it from upper 
floors. 
“Bossy McBosspants” seems to be setting up coup
attempts daily in an effort to overthrow Hamo from his
current position as Oldest Brother. This guy jumps up and
yells out orders to the younger siblings and gets everyone
motivated to clean up their rooms and get dressed quickly
on days we’re scheduled to go out on family field trips.
“Thug” gets on my LAST nerve. He has a fascination with
knives and swearing and fighting. He is not a welcome 
personality in this house at all. In fact, he and “mean, bully
guy” have been the reason Ismail has lost computer 
privileges so many times this summer alone.
“Wannabe rap artist” would be tolerable if only he could
keep a beat. Ever see that Steve Martin movie “The Jerk”?
You know, where they were dancing around on the front 
porch and everyone was on time but him? Yeah…that’s my
boy. He knows it, too. He’s asked his eight year old brother,
Aiman, several times to teach him how to dance and Aiman
just looks at him and says, “I’ve tried. You just like to shake
your crotch. And that’s NOT krumping.” (Just a sidenote, I’d
like to thank stupid Nickelodeon and the show “Just Jordan”
for even adding KRUMPING to my little boy’s dance moves
repetoire. As though “booty popping” wasn’t enough.) Ismail
listens in awe anytime I’m going through my “oh I remember
THAT song” moments and has begged me to teach him the
lyrics to “The Rapper’s Delight”, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”
and songs like “Freakazoid.” (Yeah, I know I’m showing my age.)
I guess all I can really do is encourage him to tear off just 
the positive pieces of each of these personality-suits and stitch
them into his own unique pattern to fit Ismail. All the rest of us 
did it. And now it’s my turn to just stand back like the changing
room attendants at Macy’s and hope he opts for the classics
rather than the passing fads.

Red Tape and Traffic Jams

Buses, taxis, service cars, motorcycles, motorcycle-taxis, and horse-driven carts….
a motorcycle taxi Pictures, Images and Photos
Noise, pollution, heat, dirt, impatience, not enough room on the sidewalks…
Traffic Jam Pictures, Images and Photos
Sweaty, dirty, headache, hustling across the street trying not to get nailed by a mini-bus.

All worth it. I’m done with all the paperwork and running around. I managed to weave
my way in and out of, off and on and through all of the traffic, the government offices,
and all of the red tape. YAY. Ismail is now registered for school.

Fred Flinstone Ain’t Got Nothin’ on Us


Yes. This pretty much sums it up. My little boy, Ismail, is twelve. Okay.
He’ll be 13 in September. And he wears a size 12 men’s shoe. His
older brother wears an 11.5 but he’s 16 years old, so one wouldn’t
exactly cringe at that size since he’s closer to adulthood. But Ismail is
only 12! And they are wide, God bless him. Like “toss-the-shoes-and-
keep-the-box” wide.

I used to worry about shoes because all 5 of them had such wide feet
and outgrew shoes all at the same time and Stride Rite was the only
place that could accommodate the Donald Duck-width thing. (Damn
them for being so pricey!) But NOW, we’re at the point of starting a
letter writing campaign to all the shoe factories in Egypt to see which
ones will be willing to custom make shoes for these kids. Samiya and
Aiman both wear my size now and they are 11 and 10. Randa has
been in a size 9.5 women’s for a couple of years now. I’m thinking I
should get some sponsors for advertising on this blog. Maybe even
writing a book….soon. I’ll need any money I make to pay for shoes.
Or a class with the local cobbler so we can not only homeschool and
make our own ketchup, but have D-I-Y-foot fashion “to boot.”
(ba-dum-ching!)

Ready, Set, Jump into Summer!!

I went to pick up Ismail’s report card from the school yesterday….and lo,
and behold! HE PASSED. We’d been so worried because he really does
not study much and I’m convinced he has a little dyslexia going on. At
any rate, Ismail passed. We’re soooo happy. No summer school. No more
screaming, yelling, begging, crying, grounding, etc. Yay!
We took them to the beach with my husband’s cousins and their kids.
Wow. Ten kids in the water with me. I’ve  never counted to 10 so many
times in 3 hours in my life. But everyone had fun and no one drowned
and by the time the sun set, we were ready to get home. I LOVE LOVE LOVE living this close to the beach. I’m not really a beach person…and
this year I’m loving it. Anyway, the above photo is a little old…from
back in April before the weather started getting nice. I’ll get serious or funny again with a later blog, I guess. Today is just a “this is where we’re at” kinda thing. And by the way, that would be THE BEACH!

Bright Spots in My Day Today


This is Ismail. He’s my third child, second son, first to help when I need it. Ismail could charm the pants off of just about anyone if he tried. And he has a heart of gold…with a taste for ornery like you wouldn’t believe. He’s been in trouble for dumping a plate of cold eggs off of the balcony and onto the head of the woman who lived downstairs from us. He once decided to spackle the walls of our apartment for us…using 100% pure thick table cream for spackling. He’s peed in the oven, scared the neighbor’s daughters by wearing a “SCREAM mask”, and dumped trash all over the bedroom while pretending to be a garbage man. (It was the kitchen trash can he used.)
This boy is so full of imagination, charm, and naughty that sometimes I forget that he’s still the sweet and loving, protective, helpful and hard-working kid that I know and love. He’s good with his hands. I once described a wooden step stool that I wanted my husband to build for me so that I could reach the dishes on the top shelf of the cupboard and more importantly, so the shorter kids could reach the sink when they help clean up. My husband told me he’d do it later after he finished some other ongoing project. Ismail happened to be in the kitchen at the time.
He grabbed the tool box and some scrap wood out of the closet (please don’t ask WHY we have scrap wood in the closet.) He went out on the balcony and sawed and hammered and banged and kept himself busy for a full hour. When he came back in, he handed me the exact type of step stool I’d just asked my husband to build for me. Granted, I only used it as a shelf to put things on on the counter because he had used plywood for the top piece and it was not very sturdily balanced on the legs. But the fact that he could hear a verbal description of what I wanted and then go and build if for me with no direction, instruction, or supervision at 9 years old?!! That’s pretty damn awesome, if you ask me.
Ismail is a neat-freak and helps me clean up without being asked. He does 75% of any errands that I don’t do myself and he never complains when asked to do them. This boy is my little bright spot today. He made me laugh when I needed it. We were talking about bacteria and how there are some types of bacteria that are good that we need in our lives. And Ismail asked, “Isn’t that Fronteria? The good ones, I mean.” How cute. Sometimes I forget that they’re learning two languages at once and so don’t have all the vocabulary that someone learning only one language would have at their ages. I explained that bacteria is the term used for good and bad microbials and that although Fronteria would be a good word to have, sadly it doesn’t exist.

Come on. Look at that face! He’s a keeper, huh?