First Day of School

Yesterday was my LL, Little Lady’s, first day of school.  Here in Jordan the class is KG-1, in the US it is known as K-4 or preschool.  It was an emotional day for all of us.  I definitely expected each of us to have our own emotions about our Little Lady’s big day.  It was interesting to watch the day happen and how our perspectives  shaped our emotions.  Here is a quick look into each of our thoughts:

LL – Little Lady was so excited and has been waiting for this day since she turned 4 years old.  Her old cousin goes to school and she couldn’t wait to be big and go to school too!  We had been to the school a number of times before the big day, just to get familiar.  That evening we put her to bed early and told her I would wake her early for school.  At 6:15 am, Mom told LL it was time to wake up.  LL sat up and said, “Yeah, I have to get ready for school  I am so excited!!We made and ate breakfast, packed her lunch box, fixed her hair, brushed her teeth, got dressed, put her backpack together, then woke up her brother to get him ready.  When we arrived at school, she acted like she owned the place.  Walked right in and started playing.  Mom happily thought, this will be easier than I expected! …  Until it was time for all the Mommies and Daddies to leave. … All the kids, including LL, started crying and begging for us to stay.  When I walked through the door into the hallway, I turned to look back … all the kids were trying to crawl out towards their parents and the teachers were kindly holding the kids back as they closed the door.  It was a bit dramatic, but more to how I imagined it would be.  When I returned to pick her up 4 hours later, LL was exhausted!  She could barely walk to the car.  She just wanted her beloved bear and to go to sleep!  After we got home and ate lunch, she then opened up about her day.  She really had a good day; the teachers and kids are very nice, she brought home an art project they had worked on in class, and she told me about the playground.  She said she cried a little bit, but she was looking forward to going back to school tomorrow, and tomorrow she was going to be big and wasn’t going to cry at all!

BB: The reaction from Big Boy actually surprised me.  I guess I hadn’t thought of how it would affect him, being away from his sister all day.  Then when I really thought about it, of course it would because it is a new experience for him as well.  When we were leaving LL behind, BB saw her crying and watched one of the teachers direct Aisha away from the door and back towards the classroom.  He was crying and screaming about the teacher, “Why did the teacher take LL?!!”  On and off all day he kept asking the same questions, “Why did the teacher take LL?” and “I want LL to come with me”.  No matter the explanation I tried to give, he just kept repeating himself.  Luckily, we had a playdate scheduled that morning, so he quickly got busy with his friends for half the time LL was at school.  However, when we returned to the school, BB made sure he let himself be heard and told the teacher, “Don’t take LL again!”  That’s my BB….LOL!!

BaBa:  BaBa had a day filled with reflection and emotion.  He told me that we was remembering his LL when she was born and how quickly she has grown up.  He spent some of the day looking through pictures of her and thinking about how her life has suddenly changed.  No more staying at home to play during the week, because now she will have school to attend.  He reflected on the realization that this will be her very first day of the next 20+ years of school (depending on what she studies in the University).  He is so proud of her and could already see how she matured after just the first day of class; however, he is sad to realize how quickly she is growing up.

Momma: My experience as I dropped her off at school was as I expected (she would cry and I would be strong for her).  However, when I left her behind, I was surprised at how her crying really affected me most of the day.  Her trying to follow me out the door and crying loudly, the image and sound repeated inside my mind for 4 hours.  When we returned home, it felt so very strange to enter my home without her.  Those who don’t know me, my kids go everywhere with me ,when I am not working – so to not have her by my side was a very odd, cold feeling and I didn’t like it.  It was perfect to have the playdate because I could talk with other Momma’s and get my mind off things – sort of :-).  I was emotional about how fast she is growing up as well.  I am really excited for her to get involved at school, rather than sitting at home most of the day.  It will be great for her once the baby is born, because she can then get out and do her own thing.  I also feel great about getting into a routine every evening and morning.  Even though I miss her during the day, it was so much fun to hear her excitement and stories about her first days of school!

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We Love You LL!

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Traditional Engagement – Jordan Style

Living in the Mid-western states of The United States, traditional engagement goes a little like this.: Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy and girl date, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks girl to marry him, girl says yes, girl and boy get married.

Living in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan, traditional engagement goes a little like this: Boy graduates high school, boy graduates college, boy has job and income to support a family, boy is at good maturity to get married, boys mother (and father) search for a good girl to marry, boy meets girl at family home, boy and girl talk with others present, boy and girl decide they want to meet again and another meeting is set in the family home to talk more, boy and girl discuss what is important to them about marriage, boy and girl agree to similar interest, attraction, and ask for family blessings, boy’s male relatives go to girl’s male relatives to ask for girl’s hand in marriage, girls family decides boy is a good man for marriage of girl, boy and girl get engaged, boy and girl get married.

In Islam, and typically in Jordan, dating is forbidden.  Dating is forbidden to protect the man and mostly the woman from unintentional or intentional harm.  If you think about it openly, you will remember many times in your life or the lives of others you know who dated.  Most American date many people before finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.  During this time of dating, many men, but especially many women get hurt.  Whether it was intentional or unintentional, the fact is they get harmed through dating.  Harm can be in the form of physical and/or emotional abuse, unintended pregnancy, disease, being used by the other, losing time in an unsuccessful relationship, etc.  The list of possible and probable harm is great and can lead to feelings of mistrust, suspicion, jealousy, anger, hate, rage, failure, etc, etc.  Again, think back (honestly) and you will remember a time when this affected you or someone you know who have dated.

For these reasons and others, Islam prohibits dating in order to preserve purity (virginity) and to protect either male and mostly female from harm.  When dating is prohibited by your religion, how does one get married?  In the West we call this traditional way of marriage, ‘Arranged Marriage’.  That being said, in the United Sates, we have such a poor idea of and often misconceived idea of what an arranged marriage means.  In Jordan, the traditional way to get married is for the boy’s family to search to women of a suitable age, education, beauty, who is brought up in a good family, and whatever other quality they are looking for in a wife.  The girls on other hand, typically wait to hear of a man who may be interested.  So boys family (usually the mother) asks around to their friends and family of any single women who may be a good suit.  The family of the boy and the by himself may meet many different women and their families before finding ‘Mrs. Right’.  And the girl, may meet many boys and their families before finding ‘Mr. Right’.  Once the couple have met each other and decided to be a good marital match, they then talk more and more to get to know each other better; however, this is traditionally supervised/chaperoned talk.  The couple decides they want to get married, family permission is required, and the engagement goes forth.  Once the engagement is complete,traditionally, the couple continue with the chaperoned visitations and conversation.  During this engagement period (whether it be 1 week or 1 year), if either members of the couple decide they do not want to marry this person, the engagement is called off and the search for “Mr. and Mrs. Right” continues.

It is an interesting way of life and it works.  In Jordan, it is not the norm to get divorced.  Part of the low divorce rate is because it is not a social norm, but also because of this lack of dating prior to marriage.  Imagine, that you have never dated, never been in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex prior to marriage.  You have no harm from previous relationships and you have nothing to compare it to either.  Therefore, your relationship is more pure on an emotional and physical level.  May be you did not fall in love with the person prior to marrying them; however, with time they usually fall in love or have a common bond that holds their marriage strong.  In fact, in the dating world, you may have fallen in love with the people prior to marriage and shortly fall out of love because it is a feeling or you are comparing to previous relationships, or have been hurt by previous partners.

I find myself writing this blog, because my sister-in-law has recently become engaged to a man, the traditional way in Islam and in Jordan.  I am reflecting on the traditional way and trying to open the minds of my beloved Western friends and family who have never been exposed to this type of relationship before.  For myself, 3 of the 4 siblings my husband has, have met their wives and now soon to be husband, in this traditional way.  Alhumdillah, each of them are happily married.  I am use to the idea, and contrary to my often Western thinking, I even like the idea.  I thought it would be a good time to not only increase the awareness of how engagement and marriage is done here in Jordan, but also in Islam.  Islam, unfortunately, is often misunderstood.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain the rational behind ‘arranged marriages’ in Islam, and what arranged marriage actually means here in Jordan.

Funny Things Kids Say

For those who don’t know me, I am 35 weeks (8 months) pregnant with my third baby.  I have a 4-year-old girl and a 2.5 year old boy.  My kids, especially the little lady, have a big interest in my growing belly and their little brother inside.  Recently, I was talking to my Mom about some of the funny things the kids are saying about my pregnancy.  I thought I would document them here on my blog and also share them with all of you…because who doesn’t love to hear about the Funny Things Kids Say.  LL=My Little Lady.  BB= My Big Boy.  MOM=Me

LL – “I love your baby SOOOOOOOO much!”

LL – “Mom, how is your tummy ever going to get back to normal??!”  MOM – “Good question!”

LL – “How is the baby going to get out of your tummy?”

LL – “But Mom, where does he pee?” MOM- Short explanation of how he pees in my tummy.  LL- “YUK!” followed by deep thought and LL- “But I didn’t ever see you change his diapers.”

LL – “What is that, your belly button??! Weird!”

BB – As he points to my tummy and refers to the position of the baby, “Here is his legs, here is his head, and heeeerrrrreeeee is his BUTT!….HHAAAA!” .

BB – “The baby is so little and so cute, yeah like Baby Grace (his baby cousin).”

BB – “Is baby awake now?  I want him to kick my hands.”

Kids, are so funny.

Eid Al-Fitr

Pictures from Eid Al-Fitr!

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Eid Al-Fitr is a 3 day holiday celebrated after the Islamic month of Ramadan.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.  The month of Ramadan is a lunar month and moves ahead by about 2 weeks each year.  This year Ramadan began August 1st and ended August 30th.  In Jordan, we fasted each day from approximately 4:30 am until 7:20pm – nearly 15 hours.

The Islamic fast includes refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual contact from dawn until sunset.  After the call for Maghrab prayer, at sunset, Muslims will then break their fast with family or friends over a large delicious meal – usually consisting of dates, soups, salads, rice, meat or chicken, a variety of refreshments, followed by desserts made especially during Eid.  During the Month of Ramadan, many Muslims also attend the usual 5 prayers at the Mosque, in addition they attend evening prayers where portions of the Quran are recited each night.  Many Muslims stay up all night to pray and read the Quran (the Islamic Holy Book) – many Muslims read the entire Quran at least once during the month.  Muslims give charity and praticipate in many good deeds during Ramadan as well.  Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others.  It is also a time of cleansing onseself from sin and working towards a more pious life.  The fast is required for all Muslims who have reached the age puberty, except for pregnant women, lactating women, menstruating women, chronically ill, and mentally ill.

Usual celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr begins with a morning prayer at the Mosque.  Everyone is dressed in new or their best clothes, attend the morning prayer, and then visit relatives and friends.  Gifts and money are often given to the children and women.  Each day, of the 3 days festival, is spent visiting family and friends.  In Jordan, the people are off of work during these 3 days of Eid Al-Fitr, so they can fully enjoy their time celebrating with family.

Other Blogs I follow have also written about Ramadan and Eid AlFitr.  Please check out these bloggers perspecitves on the same topic:

http://sojourney.wordpress.com/

http://godfaithpen.com/tag/ramadan/