Friday, March 31, 2006


I used to envision myself happily entertaining company with style and grace and a completely relaxed air, however, as I've grown older, I've come to realize that I am not a people person. In general, I really don't like having people come to my home and I don't enjoy going to others' homes. I am very much an introvert and having company or being company is very stressful for me.

Why am I posting this little insight now? Before coming to Iran, with the exception of my two best friends, I only occasionally had people over or went to other people's houses. Generally no more than 3 or 4 times per year. Well, part of the Iranian New Year's celebrations is the requirement to visit and be visited by friends and family. This usually means multiple visits both directions over just a 13 day time span. I've been fortunate this time around and only had to visit 3 house one of which was my in-laws so that doesn't really count but today we had 3 back-to-back visits over the course of 3 1/2 hours which means 3 presentations of tea, sweets and fruits to 13 people with barely any time to squeeze in a potty break or give the kids dinner. (DH and my dinner happened around 10:30 after the kids were finally in bed.) Why the mad rush? It was either everyone in one day or having to repeatedly make the house company ready over several days and probably have the company here longer each time. That and I would have had at least 3 days worth of tension in my neck and shoulders rather than one and a half. :P

Now, it's not just company that stresses me out. It's being around people in general. No, I'm not anti-social. It's just that, while a people person gets a major energy boost from being around others, my energy is drained. If I don't get at least an hour or two completely to myself at least every few days, I tend to get a bit cranky. That time is usually gotten after everyone's gone to bed or, occasionally, before they get up. So, on any given day, you're bound to find me on the computer, watching a movie or reading a book until the wee hours of the morning. Does this lack of sleep cause problems keeping up with the kids? Oddly, no. My energy is usually restored after a nice long session on my own as long as I don't push too far (staying up until 4 or 5) or do it too often (passed 2 three days in a row). ;)

I guess this is one of the benefits of getting older. You learn more about who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to work with them.

ACK...I've just been informed we have to go visit more people in the next day or two.

Kids and Bowties 2

Here is the promised photo.

If all goes well, we leave for Dubai next week.

Thanks to Patty and Jeanne for their concern about the earthquake. We're all fine. The quake happened in the neighboring provence. According to the news here, they've already managed to restore water and electricity to the affected areas but are still searching for victims.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I reread my previous shopping post and it sounds like I'm a major shopping nut and quite extravegant. The fact is, I do like shopping but only if I can get a good deal. I'm very frugal which is how I managed to keep our family's clothing budget to under $300/year which included clothes, coats and shoes for everyone. My stash is mostly from fabric bought from the scrap bins, on sale, with a gift card which I earned from using my Jo-Ann's card and paying off the balance every month. (This is also how I bought my sewing machine.) I no longer have a sewing machine or a Jo-Ann's to shop from and found out a couple weeks ago that there really isn't any (or much) 100% cottons to be had in Shiraz. The stores just don't carry it. :( I've also spent the last 7 months needing a variety of things for the house, especially kitchen, which I just haven't been able to find here. I like to bake but Iranians just don't do that much baking. (There are tons of fabulous bakeries everywhere here.) We didn't ship anything so everything we brought had to fit into 10 suitcases. (2 per person not including Reza) Lots of stuff got left behind including most of my baking dishes (I did bring my muffin pan and pizza pans; snuck in at the last moment after everything else was madly packed, finishing just under an hour before leaving for the airport.) Also, the water here seems to be much harder on clothes because it seems like alot of the kids clothes are starting to get holes, especially their socks. (The socks here are often polyester and crazy color combinations like bright orange and green.) So, I have a decent size list of "needs". I also want to get a few small things for decorating from Ikea. I always felt guilty before for spending money for such things because the money could always go to better uses but now, I've made some money teaching (about $500) and I don't feel bad about spending it to make this house feel more like me. Nothing extravegant though and I know the prices and products at Ikea are good so that's where I intend to go. If I find bargins elsewhere, great, but I'm not about to go overboard. Later, after I make more, I want to get a nice cushy armchair for sitting in to read or quilt and another sewing machine.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up. To me, at least, the last shopping post made me seem like a hyper-consuming shop-aholic. :P

Oh, and I haven't been posting because my ISP is on the fritz again. I have been able to read blogger (only blogger pages, in fact) but I couldn't see pictures or post. :(

High fiber diet

I mentioned before that Reza was trying to eat the scrap pieces that fell on the floor while the kids were quilting but for him this is nothing new. For months now, since he's been able to pick things up with his hands and especially now that he's mobile, he's constantly putting all things fiber into his mouth. It started with him sucking on any blanket or spare piece of clothing that was lying within arm's reach. Now, he's figured out how to pull the end threads off of one of our carpets and is continually caught putting those in his mouth as well as any bit of string, thread, tissue or paper left on the floor. Plastics will get a passing inspection but his real passion is for anything natural, including at the moment, a cardboard game box! He's, also, fond of munching on whole carrots and the heart of romaine lettuce but with four powerful little teeth he's started taking off too big of chunks so we've axed the carrots for now at least. A few weeks ago, he would often be seen crawling around with a carrot stuck in his mouth, occasionally stopping to take a nibble. It's quite funny to see. He learned early on in his crawling that he could still carry things around with him if he just stuck them in his mouth instead of trying to hold them with his hands. LOL.


Our trip to Dubai has been postponed. :( Everything was going alright until we got to the final passport check at the airport to leave Iran only to find out that dh forgot to get exit visa renewed. The last one was good for 6 months and we've been here 7. Grrr. It seems to me fairly crazy that Iranians have to get an exit visa just to leave their own country, but what are you going to do. In case you're wondering about our passports, passports here are family passports, so his covers all of us. I, also, have my own with the kids on it as well but that visa was expired too, of course. DH spent 2 hours in traffic yesterday trying to get to the passport office only to find out once there that a) he had the wrong passport (mine) b) he didn't have the forms he needed and c)I think he said it wasn't the right office. Talk about frustrating!

Once all of this gets straigtened out, we are hoping to be able to find a flight and hotel for Friday thru Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed for us. This is a super busy travel time in Iran because of the New Year's break. New Year's here starts the first day of spring and lasts for 13 days. On the last day, everyone heads out for picnics at their favorite nature spots. Travel is so heavy that the police estimate more than 4 million people have come to Shiraz in the past week, thus the heavy traffic dh experienced yesterday.

I've tried posting pics of the kids working on their quilts but blogger won't let me right now. Will try again another time.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kids and Bowties

My little project inspired Mustafa, who decided he wanted to try his hand at quilting again. (He made a small quilt about 1 1/2 yrs. ago.) His insistance led to the other two wanting to make their own as well. I tried putting them off for awhile but that didn't last long. If you have kids, you know how insistant they can be when they want something. Mustafa and Safiya are on New Year's break so he was starting to get bored yesterday and drove everyone nuts with his extra energy. I finally relented yesterday afternoon when I thought I had a few minutes to help out. That few minutes turned into over an hour of kids playing with fabric and mommy undoing several mistakes with a sinkload of dirty dishes calling my name and a fabric hungry 11 month old trying to eat whatever scraps made their way to the floor. For anyone else out there, I would not suggest you try teaching/assisting 3 small children to quilt unless you have at least an hour with absolutely nothing else to do and a boatload of patience. :o By the end of the hour, I was rather stressed, had the dishes still calling to me and dinner not even started. But the kids had fun and they worked on their masterpieces again today.
Note: Bowties is not a good pattern for a 4 1/2 year old. I know plain old squares are better but she's quite a stubborn little girl. Safiya (6) decided for herself today that she'd much rather do just plain squares. She's done faster and she really likes the results. Mustafa miss sewed one of his blocks yesterday... twice. After the second time, he "decided" that he liked his design better. ;) Well, his second set of blocks got sew a new different way. He then sewed those two sets together and after holding onto/playing with it for about half an hour realized that if he turns it vertical rather than horizontal it makes a cool looking chain! Ya gotta love the mistakes! I forgot to take a picture of it but I'll try to remember soon. For now, we have New Year celebrations and our trip to Dubai. I have a feeling that Reza will be the only baby not to get at least a completed quilt top for his first birthday since I haven't even started cutting yet.


Ok, I FINALLY finished my micro/mini bowties quilt ala Sandra . Mine is 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 in. Ya know, silly me, I thought I could finish it in a day since it's so tiny. I forgot to factor in having kids though. :) Doing a little bit here and there, I finished it in a week. That's ok though cuz I had fun with the challenge and I love the way it looks. The picture just doesn't do the colors justice, especially the border, which is a deep marbled magenta.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Spring in Shiraz

I just thought I'd decorate my blog a bit and include a picture of one of the two little "gardens" in my yard. Mohsen planted all of the pansies a couple of weeks ago and they are doing very well below the lime tree. The grape vine hasn't come to life yet but all of the other green in there are things that just pop up with a little water every now and then (Easy to accomplish with 3 kids who love playing with the hose).

Mohsen's off picking up the tickets for Dubai so it seems like our trip is a go. Knock on wood. Just a little over a week away. I can't wait. :)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Shopping plans

Now, most of the posts I've read from quilting blogs lately have been about reducing stash, but me, I'm looking to increase my stash BIG time! We've been planning a trip to Dubai for some months and are hoping to go in about a week and a half. The problem is that they only take reservations up to a month before and we put our names in but have yet to receive any kind of confirmation, so I'm really keeping my fingers crossed. I could use a major shopping trip after all the stress of last month with the kids. And it will be a major shopping trip. According to some internet friends that live in/around Dubai, great cotton fabric is between $2-$3/meter compared to $5-$8/yd in the US. They, also, have a big IKEA there where I plan to spend a lot of time (and money) as well as a few good bookstores including one used bookstore. I've already told DH that I plan on spending all the money I've made teaching while we're there. :) Now, I wonder what the luggage restrictions are?

Zahra's Quilt

Well, here it is. I've finally finished Zahra's quilt. It's not the greatest quilt. There are plenty of mistakes but as my husband so kindly pointed out "That's how you know a human made it and not a machine." Anyway, she loves it and that's all that really matters, isn't it?

For those quilters out there, this is not a standard size. It's about 50x60, I think. (I can't remember for sure right now.) I try to make my quilts big enough to snuggle under but small enough to drag around so it's bigger than a crib quilt but smaller than a twin. The pattern is Pinwheels and Paddles. I don't remember where I found it but I changed the pinwheels to black instead of white to make the bright colors pop.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Busy, busy, busy: attempt #1,000,000

I know it's been nearly a month since my last post but things here have been stressful. We went on a mini beach vacation to an island off the southern coast of Iran, which was great except that the last day of vacation Mustafa came down with chicken pox (thanks to 4 kids in his class which we found out about the night we left on the trip) and Safiya came down with the flu. The flu ended up getting passed to everyone except chicken pox boy, who was kind enough to share his chicken pox with his baby brother and two sisters. So, basically, I've spent a little more than 3 weeks tending multiple sick children at various stages of illness. Oddly enough, the two youngest got it the worst. My poor baby boy got hit with major chicken pox all over his bottom (well over a hundred at the peak) and his head and face. The worst one hit, though, was Zahra. The poor girl was absolutely covered from head to foot with spots that hurt every time you tried to touch her or change here clothes and all of this was accompanied by a feaver for about 2 days. (She was the only one to get a fever.) At her peak, she easily had well over 1000 spots. This may sound like an exaggeration but she had 13 on her left ear alone and that was one of the least hit areas of her head. She even managed to get some on the palms of her hands and between her fingers. We made 3 trips to the pediatrician and 2 trips to eye doctors in two weeks. The eye doctors were for Reza and Zahra. Apparently, it's dangerous to get chicken pox around the eyes and both of them managed to get them right along their eyelashes. My guess is that Zahra was on antibiotics for a mild ear infection because of the flu which reduced her normal bacterial flora and gave the varicella plenty of space to reproduce and really dig in. Safiya got hit a day or so later than Zahra but she's further along in her recovery and she didn't get nearly as many spots, although to hear her you'd never know it. Safiya has this awful habit of crying out "momma" multiple times in less than a minute and in a pitch that suggests that she is in mortal peril anytime she wants to tell you something when she's sick. Since the flu also hit Mohsen and me (thankfully it was really only tough for me for about a day), I've been pretty stressed out.

To compensate for the stress and since I normally need a good bit of time to myself to maintain my sanity, over the last 4 days, I've spent a good bit of time cruising around reading quilters' blogs. There are some amazing women out there and the amount of work they get done is phenomenal. I've just now finished the quilting on Zahra's 1st birthday quilt and she's 4 1/2. Granted, I've finished 2 other quilts, had a baby and finished by B.A. during that time but still. I started quilting about 8 years ago and finished maybe one quilt a year. There are women out there that do 4 in a month! I'm also a bit envious of the space they have to work in. Right now, my stash lives in the back of a closet in the suitcase I brought it here in.

Where there's envy, there's also inspiration. Tonight while searching through my stash for the fabric to bind Zahra's quilt, I pulled out fabrics for three mini quilts I want to do. Thanks to Tonya at Lazy Gal Quilting, I'm dying to try a wonky house or two which, after I finish projects that MUST get done, I want to expand into a wonky house growth chart for the kids. I managed to forget to pack the growth chart that I had for them since Mustafa was two years old. The kids loved being able to see how much they'd grown so I guess we'll have to start all over again. Besides that one, I want to try two mini/micro quilts like the bow ties and churn dash examples on Sandra's Snippets. I can't wait to get started but I promised Zahra that I'd finish her quilt first. She was so excited when I finished the quilting tonight that she asked me to put it on her bed tonight. She was a bit disappointed when I explained that I still have to cover up all of the edges. She's so optimistic that she thinks I'll have it done tomorrow which is easier said than done since I'm doing it all by hand.

I guess that's my cue to get off-line and get busy on that binding.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

quilt update

I'm almost finished binding my dd 1st birthday quilt which will be finished only about 3 1/2 years late. LOL. I'll try to post a pic as soon as I'm done.