Friday, January 27, 2006


Castaway came on tv last night and it was striking in a way how much I can relate to Tom Hanks' character. Moving to a different country has resulted in being virtually cut off from friends and family, not that it has to be that way thanks to the telephone and internet. However, most of the time, I'm the only one that calls or writes e-mail and only one friend ever responds to my e-mail but no regularly. For me, my dh could be my version of "Wilson". He tries but just can't really relate. Then you've got that whole idea of stumbling about trying to take care of basic needs. It's all here, you just have to figure out how to get it in unfamiliar surroundings. I can also relate to him getting hurt so much at the beginning. The first month or so I was here, I managed to hurt myself so many times it's not even funny. All of which were mostly the result of adjusting to new surroundings but still, it got really annoying. I can even relate to the tooth scene where he knocks out an infected molar since I had to have a couple of teeth pulled soon after arriving here. (I have lousy teeth.)

On the up side, Hanks' finds his grove and becomes an expert in his surroundings. I know that given time I'll figure everything out and I'll probably even get up the courage to start driving here. (The driving here is crazy, but people are used to it. Whatever, whenever is no big deal. Stuck at a traffic light, go ahead and make another lane or two or three. Need to make a right hand turn but you're in the far left lane? No, problem just cut in front of the four lanes of traffic to the right. The mom of one of my students put it this way..."We're comfortable.")

Sunday, January 15, 2006

No Sick Days

Yes, one of the major down sides of being a parent, particularly a mother is that you don't get any sick days. Babies still have to be nursed, kids have to be fed, everyone has to be cleaned up after, and laundry has to be washed. Now, alhamdullelah, I don't get sick that often but I've managed to catch my first cold since we got here 4 1/2 months ago. That's not bad considering EVERYONE got sick about a month ago (including in-laws) and I managed to stay healthy. The first time I came to Iran 8 years ago, I managed to get sick about once a month, so all in all I can't complain this time around. I really only start to feel bad at night or early in the morning. The rest of the time I just suck it up, get moving and feel ok. I really do believe that alot of how a person deals with being sick is mind over matter. If you let yourself act sick then you'll just feel worse. Also, I've noticed that since I cut way back on red meat (maybe once every two or three weeks) and started eating lots more veggies, I don't get sick nearly as often as I used to even in times of stress when the immune system can be compromised.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TV here

One of the great things about living in Iran is that you get TV programming from all over. We just watched an awesome BBC nature show. Among my favorites here are a French police drama with a female lead and an Italian forensics drama similar to CSI in US. A few months ago there was a great Iranian serial that I'd try to catch. It was tough to catch though since it was during time I have to get kids ready for bed. There's also a few game shows that I like to watch. When we first got here, one of the stations was finishing up it's Summer Film Festival with movies from around the world. This weekend another station is playing the original German movie "Wings of Desire"(?) that "City of Angels" is based off of. Next week their playing "March of the Penguins". Having lots of interesting stuff to watch certainly helps me work on my Farsi.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I truly miss homeschooling our kids this year. I mentioned before that we aren't homeschooling here because of our desire for the kids to learn Farsi and my very limited Farsi skills. I've basically been "homeschooling" them since they were babies. I can say this because all parents teach their kids the first few years of life unless they've choosen to pass off that responsiblity to some other full-time caregiver like a nanny. We basically unschooled for the last two years and my kids learned so much in that time. We'd have discussions on everything from space to organ transplants. We did verbal math word problems in the car while running errands which included all three kids from 6 down to 3. (Although at 3, all of her answers tended to be 5 so I tried to make sure her problems added up to 5.) Because of this, my 5 and now 4 year old do very well at mental math. Their 7 year old brother is not as good at mental math but is well above grade level once you give him pencil and paper. He's also well versed in a variety of science subjects including some at a high school level because that is where his interests lie. I watched my oldest two become fast readers because they were given the materials they needed and left to work at their own pace. My son worked through the entire 5 levels of the Hooked on Phonics program in 5 months somedays working for 2 hours straight, at other times not touching it for up to a week. My 5 year old decided she didn't need the program anymore after working half way through the second level and she was absolutely correct. They both can read just about anything they want now. Mustafa is an avid reader. We recently received a box of books that we had shipped and he devoured 3 Magic School Bus books and was hungry for more so he started reading one of my magazines. Safiya is more apt to read only when she's in the mood but has wonderful retention and surprisingly good spelling, which means no more spelling out things we don't want them to hear.

Since moving here and the kids starting school, we just haven't had the same kind of time for our in-depth discussions or following lots of tangents when a subject comes up. Despite the fact that the kids are only at school 4 hours a day 6 days a week, we've only had two really good conversations that I can remember and the last time Mustafa was begging for more. Mustafa has ended up with lots of busy work which takes him quite a while to do since he's not a very fast writer. They also have to be in bed by 8:30 or they're nearly impossible to get up for school which starts at 8. This a big contrast to how we used to live. I would take classes at night so the kids were usually up until at least 10:30 every night, midnight if it was a masjid night. They were then allowed to sleep as long as they wanted to which usually meant until somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30. Here kids stay up late but only because they usually take a nap during the afternoon like their parents. My kids rarely ever take naps after they're about 18 months old. Even my 8 month old only naps twice a day for about 10-20 minutes at a time usually.

Oh well, I'll keep gently reminding them that learning is not something that ends when school ends. So far, they're still doing alright and are interested in learning more about their world but I really do wish we were still homeschooling.

Laundry at 3 a.m.

Yes, last night I was up at 3 a.m. doing laundry. It seems my kids managed to produce 3 loads of laundry in 2 days. Don't ask me how. I still can't figure it out. Granted my washing machine here holds smaller loads than I was used to in the U.S. but I'm now doing an average of 2 loads every 2 days where I used to do about 5 loads a week. I know it doesn't help having an 8 month old who is such a drool machine that can soak a shirt in less than an hour but baby clothes aren't that big. As for mine and hubby's clothes, I've now finished two loads and so far there are only 5 articles of our clothing. How in the world do moms of really big families manage? There's one mom of 8 that has an unschooling blog which led me to start my own blog. Maybe I could ask her since her family includes little children. I can't imagine how our foremothers used to manage. I had a great, great, great, great grandmother who had 26 kids according to family lore. Imagine her laundry day or any mealtime! God bless her!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What's in a name?

I just looked at the top 100 names from Parent Center for 2005 and I was surprised to see that Michelle didn't even make it into the top 100. When I was a kid there was always at least one other Michelle in my grade or even in my class. Because of this when it came time to name our kids I (usually) tried to pick Islamic names that were not incredibly common. But wouldn't ya know, it didn't exactly turn out the way I planned. Our third child is named Zahra and our best friends decided to name their third child Zahra as well. (Their's is about a year younger than our's.) Then a few other kids named Zahra started going to the masjid we attended and now one of my students is named Zahra. All told we know at least 5 other kids named Zahra. Oh, well. I tried.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My wierd kids

Leave it to my family to have wierd stuff happen. About a month ago, Mustafa, oldest, showed my that for some odd reason, when his six year molars came in the gums did not separate as usual but came off the teeth as a flap which remained attached by a few millimeters. So, he basically had two flaps of gum hangs down next to his upper molars. A few days ago, I was brushing Safiya's teeth and found that her two lower front permenant teeth were coming up BEHIND her baby teeth! Needless to say, she had to go and have her baby teeth pulled. Because the dentist was worried about crowding, he pulled all four front baby teeth. She's now ahead of Mustafa for losing baby teeth and she did remarkably well considering she is an absolute sissy when it comes to pain.