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Monthly Archives: May 2011

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At this point, I’ll take whatever compliments I can get.

Iman: Momma, you not big! You tall!  Lika Burj Khalifa!

Me: Like a Burj Khalifa?

Iman: (giggles) Yeah, it’s kinda funny!

Nine months pregnant. Again, Alhamdulillah :)

Here’s my post for nine months pregnant with Khalid

And here’s the post for nine months pregnant with Iman.

Notice the difference in the two.  Khalid’s post is about expectation, Iman’s is about ninja turtles.  Really, go look.

At the moment, Khalid and Iman are eating dinner and verbally taunting each other, two exercises that may seem incompatible (chewing + taunting) but they’re very skilled savages and I can hear Iman goading Khalid with her mouth full and here comes Khalid to my elbow, also with mouth full, to come and complain about her.

-pause to supervise dinner, with interlude of sophisticated dinner conversation-

Khalid: (looking at my stomach) Oh, it’s big tummy!

Me: My tummy is big?

Khalid: Yeah, it’s nice! (patting my stomach and then tracing the patterns on my shirt) It’s circle.  And sun! It’s nice!

Me: Thank you.  I’m glad you like it.

Iman: Momma, P is for princess!

Me: Yes dear, and pink, and pencil.  And how about the letter W? Do you remember?

Iman: (Nodding) I ‘member.  Iss for spider.

-return to computer-

The children are in their respective showers now, and once they’re out and freshly pajama’ed, HF and I will tuck them into their bunks, recite their duas, kiss them and say Ma’assalama for the night.  It’s a ritual we all enjoy, with Khalid reminding us if we miss a step (Momma, dua in the bed. Kiss!)  and Iman doing her best to negotiate one more story or random extra demand to prolong the routine.  Khalid enjoys the routine while Iman is forever trying to mold it around her desires.  She has now emerged from the shower and is, at this very second, streaking up the hall and yelling ‘run for your life!’ to escape being dressed by Cindy

-children tucked into bed and lights off.  in the dark, they are still teasing each other and the sound of giggling carries up the hall-

So Khalid decided to reinvent the English numeral system today.  Seriously.  It goes like this:

Zeroty one, zeroty two, zeroty three and so on until zeroty nine and then plain old ten.  Then comes onety-one, then onety-two, onety-three, until onety-nine and finally, twenty.  And here Khalid smiles, and his overhaul is complete.  Alhamdulillah 🙂

I think this blog entry closely follows how this pregnancy has been; mostly about Khalid and Iman, because they’re louder, more demanding, more amusing, and overall more urgent than Stringbean.    They kick harder too, though there is something to be said for the frequency and accuracy with which Stringbean seems to target my ribs.  I’m going to blame all of this fetal aggression on self-defense.  Khalid and Iman pet, poke, jump on, bump into, even drum on and play cars on my stomach.  This baby is just acting in self-defense, and they’re probably so used to retaliating that they’re going to come out kicking and punching.

I spend most of my time chauferring, entertaining, feeding, and refereeing Khalid and Iman and all the rest of it trying to ignore/work through being pregnant so I can get work done.  On one hand I feel guilty that I haven’t started ‘bonding’ with this baby.  Yes, I know it hasn’t been born yet, but daydreaming, talking to one’s stomach, lovingly setting up the nursery, and making lots of dua for your unborn child are all things that I did much for Khalid, a little for Iman, and even less for this child.  Not that I’m not excited about meeting Stringbean, or that I don’t already know the gender (yay!) and haven’t done all of the adorable pre-baby clothes shopping, but the time I spend focusing on being pregnant is way, way less than the time I spend trying to forget that I’m pregnant so I can get things done.

Which is easier said than done by the way- my wedding ring no longer fits, my feet are so swollen that they hang an inch and a half off the back of my sandals.  My back aches, my top speed is .1 miles per hour, even the maternity tops are getting tight.  If Iman, who is still a novelty-sized girl, stands too close to me she gets eclipsed by my stomach and occasionally even knocked over.  Khalid runs to hug me and crashes face-first into my stomach and then rebounds away.  He’s learned to come at me sideways for hugs now.  I feel like enormous, and yet, I’ve maintained the same weight for nearly a month now, Alhamdulillah.  Between swimming, working, and the fact that EVERYONE IS TOO MEAN TO BUY ME A DOZEN RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FROM MAGNOLIA BAKERY (basement one, near the Dancing Fountains, Dubai Mall, Index Mall parking area, she said subtly.) I have gained little weight, and even lost some according to my last weigh-in at the OB/GYN.  The doctor looked at the paper with my weight scribbled on it and frowned.

“Did we weigh you in your abaya last time?”


“Same shoes?”


The doctor shrugs and carries on.  She tells me I need to rest more.  She asks me what I do, and I tell her.  Then she offers to write me a note for sick leave.

“Why would I need one?”

“So you can rest for a few days. Just take it, it’s only seventy dirhams.”

“Who would I give it to?”

“The center you work for.”

“I’m the director.”

“Give it to the office, they’ll have to give you time off.”

Here the nurse interjects – “Madame, there is no one to give it to.”

The doctor looks at me again, confused.

“You don’t understand,” I tell her.  “It’s my business, and I even dream in employment visas.”

I told Owlie about this later and we had a good laugh.  Owlie suggested that I take the sick note with my left hand, pass it to my right, nod sternly and deny myself the down time.  In actuality, I would need to give it to Khalid and Iman, and Khalid would read it from top to bottom, and Iman would take it and draw a squiggle fish, a squiggle flower, and maybe a squiggle crocodile on it, but neither of them would approve it and school, cooking, shopping, working, meetings, outings, and entertainment would still go on.  HF very lovingly drops Khalid off to school in the mornings for me sometimes, and while once a week I do need to sleep in for a few hours, the rest of the week I have too much to do and too pushy of a secretary to be left alone.

“Momma, wake up! Open your eyes! Stand up! The sun is up! Can I play with your phone?”

“Yes Iman, I’m up. No sweetie, not now.”

Iman wrestles the blankets off me and theatrically takes me by the hand to ‘help’ me out of bed.  Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t.  Sometimes Iman tells Cindy that I would like a cup of chai, even when I haven’t requested one.  Sometimes she has my chai supersized too- my default is a small cup of chai.  Iman runs up the hall and I can hear her call out- “Cinny!  Momma wants big chai please!”

“Small…” I mumble face-first into the pillow.

Iman comes back and updates me.  “Momma! I told Cinny!”

“Thank you dear.”

So I have a tankard of deliciously well made but WAY too big chai waiting for me on the dining table when I eventually stagger out.  How much extra sleep do I usually get on these days?  About 45 minutes if Iman is persistent.  If I cave and give her my phone to play with, I can get an hour and a half.  After that she gets bored and she expects us to launch into our daily routine- I go to the pool and Iman applauds and waves when I swim past her.  At every progressive lap she tries harder and harder to somehow insinuate herself into the water where she, being only three, is not allowed to swim.  Cindy calls her back to the poolside, where she waves at and encourages the other swimmers.  She also informs me, regularly, that she’s bigger now.  See?  She stands on her tiptoes and tell me “I’m seven.  Allah made me bigger.”  Why seven? Because that’s the minimum age for being allowed in the pool.

Then we go grocery shopping or come home and work on my computer.  By 12:30 it’s time to go get Khalid again, and once he’s home we do lunch, attempt to constructively entertain ourselves without too much screaming and battling over toys, cook dinner, and then find something for the kids to do in terms of physical activity.  It’s over 110 degrees daily now, so the park is out of the question.  In winter, the kids were off to the park every day by 3:30.  In summer, we cycle through the free play areas in various malls on a daily basis so that the kids can burn off some steam without dying of heat stroke.  Iman’s favorite is the play area in Babyshop, Khalid’s new favorite is Magic ‘Plant.’  Alhamdulillah, there’s a mall nearby that has both of these, albeit on opposite ends.  Cindy takes Iman one way and Joy takes Khalid the other.  I find a comfortable sofa somewhere in the middle and attempt to check email from my phone.  By five o’clock we’re home again and by six it’s time again for dinner, bathing, reading The Gruffalo with Baba and then the bedtime ritual, and the kids’ day has come full circle.

Once the kids are in bed, HF and I will occasionally go out, but usually get on our respective computers to work.  By ten I’m in bed, and tomorrow is another day.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Notice how nothing in my day involves appreciating, dwelling, relaxing, or luxuriating in the expectancy of expecting.  That’s what I was talking about.  With both Khalid and Iman’s pregnancies, the time just would not pass.  Now I feel ambushed every time another Babycenter.com email alert pops up saying “Congratulations, you’re X weeks pregnant!”  Last week’s number was 36.  I’m expecting the next one any day now.  The baby’s due date is anywhere between June 8th and June 17th InshaAllah, and the doctor says June 15th seems most likely.  I am torn between wanting the baby to be born early (because I’m tired of being a weeble-wobble juggernaut) and wanting the baby to be born as late as possible because I have too much work to do and I’m not ready to go on maternity leave yet.

So yes.  Here I am, nine months pregnant, happy, busy, tired, over-worked, not overfed though I wish I was, and not very likely to be able to slow down any time soon.  Poor lil Stringbean, you better come out running.

Her grasp of phonics can be… tenuous.

Look Momma, issa letter double-yoo!

Good girl Iman, you’re right!

Double-yoo is for Spiderman!



Yes, and big cookies!

Good job Iman.

A First, but Probably not a Last

This afternoon Khalid requested ‘momma’s kemtooter,’ so as I was heading out for a meeting, I came to turn my laptop on and log in for him so he can play games.  My computer has been password protected for a few months now, roughly since Iman realized she could drag, drop, and delete icons from the desktop.  Today, I turned on the computer and Khalid, instead of waiting for me to log in, plopped down in my chair.

“Oh, it’s password! It’s happy!  123! Let’s counting!”

I freeze.

“Khalid, you know my password?”

“Um, yeah!”

His chubby finger slowly types 1-2-3. And then instead of hitting enter, he accidentally hits backspace.


He hits 3 again, presses enter, and officially becomes the youngest and most adorable little hacker in the history of both adorableness and hacking.  No one told him what the password is, but it’s safe to assume that he’s just watching me type 1-2-3 enough times to figure out what I’m doing.

I am so proud.  And I am so changing my password.

When good reporting goes bad, lol


I’m not usually a political or news-related blogger, but this had me laughing so hard I had to say something- Marijuana has been found growing near Osama Bin Laden’s hide-out in Abbottabad.  Now speculation has been flying wild and free about whether or not he was a joker, smoker, or midnight toker- or maybe just a dealer to make money on the side, who knows.

I’m sorry, I lived in Pakistan for eight years, and in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and almost the ENTIRE NORTHERN AREAS (like Abottabad) marijuana is a pernicious, giant weed.   It grows knee-high by the road-side, it invades the common garden, it crops up in farm fields and the goats eat it and get all giggly.  I’m serious.  It’s like crab grass.  Or dandelions.  Except if you make pakoras out of it (which the villagers sometimes do) you tend to feel a bit mellow later.  It’s an indigenous plant in Northern Pakistan, which is why so many unwashed westerners with backpacks and vacant stares disembark at the Islamabad airport and then wander aimlessly north.  It’s a free drug destination.  Pick it, roll it, smoke it.  It grows everywhere.  What are you doing to do, burn it?


Khalid’s first blog: Dictated by Khalid himself.

My name is Khalid.
I am five years old.
I like strawberry milk juice.
My sister is Iman.
My baba is sitting.
My momma is sitting on the sofa.
Miss Taleen is big.
Miss Hind is big.
Swish milk.
Joy and Iman are in the house.
Iman is late.
Couting 123! 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10!
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20!
A chocolate cookie is eating the brown cookie.
Where is my two hats?
Khalid is so hungry!
Eating the Khalid!
School bus is yellow.  The school bus is going to the Arabian Center.
Khalid is big! Iman is small!
Wow! Wow! It’s something! Wow! It’s something yellow!
Ikea Carpet?
(Khalid leaves to drive his yellow school bus on the road carpet from Ikea)
By Khalid, the end.