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Friday, May 28, 2010

Brandon has now been in Egypt ten months, the girls and I seven, and Edwin four. So we're starting to settle in. Kathleen and Sophia are now Cairenes, according to their estimation of things. Kathleen has started asking me about various Arabic terms for things like 'go to bed,' 'stop it,' 'come here,' and colors. Whenever we see someone, she asks me if they speak English or Arabic. I've had to counsel her to refer to the locals as 'nice people' instead of 'dark people.'

The other day, I was musing on a local expat library and how some expats (most) have no access to U.S. mail delivery. 'How strange,' I thought to myself, 'to voluntarily live overseas. Who would do that?' Of course I then realized that I am an expat and I am doing that right now.

Today as I was leaving a friend's apartment following a visiting teaching appointment, I saw an American-make car. 'Ooh Egypt!' I thought as I glanced at the license plate. ' How exotic!' And then of course I remembered that all license plates around here say Egypt on them.

Living here has given the girls some peculiar life skills. Kathleen is always sure to point out the 'feral kitties' and instructs us not to pet them. Sophia eats tahina with a spoon. Both girls have an immense fondness for mashi, and Kathleen was shocked, shocked to learn the other day that some mommies have to clean their own toilets.

So, for the next while we're here, in that strange land called home.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Many Faces of Edwin

By all accounts, Edwin is a very cheerful baby. He will smile and coo every time someone comes to pick him up, and loves being tickled. But every time I pull out my nice, fancy camera, all smiles disappear. I suppose he is his father's child, after all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Where did we go?

Don't worry, the Aswan High Dam has not broken despite Brandon's co-worker's constant dreams about the event taken place, and your favorite Cairenes have not been swept out to the sea. We've just been busy.

A few days ago, Kathleen had brought up the subject of people who live in Cairo. They're called Cairenes, I told her. 'Oh,' she said, 'so we're Cairenes, too.' Brandon snorted at this point and said something about not quite being the same Cairenes.

However, when one thinks about it, Sophia and Edwin, by the end of our time here, will have lived in Cairo longer than they have lived anywhere else in their life. And if that doesn't qualify them as Cairenes, what does?

In primary today, a visitor was introduced. Eli, a very talkative boy, asked where she was from, and she said New York. Excited to have found a kindred soul, he shouted across the room 'Awesome! You're from America! I'm American, too!!'

Living overseas on a permanent basis while moving every few years leads to a strange situation of nationality versus residence versus culture versus ethnicity. My friend Mirza is Mexican but lives around the world attached to U.S. Embassies. Our friend's baby Miriam was born in Egypt but is not an Egyptian national, but American and required an entry visa on her passport - what does one put for 'port of entry?'

When new acquaintances ask where we, as a family, are from, I claim North Carolina, Brandon claims Missouri/Arizona, and the children... well nobody asks them yet.

For now, the girls are happy being American and Cairenes at the same time. I suppose we'll have to get to the details later.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Baking Day

I'll admit that sometimes I know that I'm not quite pulling my weight as a stay at home mother. Theoretically (and most days, in reality), the reason I stay home is because there's a lot of work to do around here. Children need cared for. Households need run. Children need cared for. Dinner needs cooked. Children need cared for.

When I'm out horseback riding in the desert and the children are being watched by Rere while she cleans the house and leaves pots full of delicious mashi to be eaten for dinner, the line from useful to well... replaceable has been crossed.

Last week, however, I pulled my weight around here. Six loaves of regular bread. Six loaves of banana bread. And 1 1/2 dozen English muffins. All before lunch.