Ramadan: An outsider’s perspective.

It’s Ramadan again here in the Hashmite Kingdom. It reminds me of Christmas in some ways. Lots of food, gifts and special time with friends and family. It is also reminder to me of the thankfulness that my salvation is not a result of good works, but entirely because of my faith…phew, thank goodness for that!

I love Ramadan – a whole month where our Muslim friends and neighbours fast from food, water and cigarettes from sunrise to sun down. A month where a guy walks the streets at about 3am banging his drum every day waking up people so they have chance to eat a meal before the day begins. A month where the workdays are shorter and the roads are quiet. A month where if you are out driving at the time the fast breaks, Ifta, a person will bring you a date and some water at the lights so you can break the fast. A month you have the playground to yourself first thing in the morning. A month where the kids and I have to eat and drink rather sneakily when in public. A month where you can see some shop doors open ajar for people to sneak in and have a quick smoke. A month where the liquor shops are shut – boo!!

I have a great deal of respect for the Muslims who do Ramadan.  There’s majority who basically just switch their days and nights around, sleep all day and play all night. The reason I know this, I could hear the neighbourhood children having a football match this morning at 2am. ‘Goal!!!!’ The celebratory screams abruptly woke me from my deep sleep. On goes the white noise to drown out the noise so I could sleep. It is guaranteed that I won’t hear those children again until about 5pm. Their families will sleep all day.

I’m not sure I would be very friendly to be around if I was doing Ramadan. But, for the Muslims who choose to do it correctly without switching their days around, they have my uttermost respect. A lot of them continue working, even serving food, making food at the few of the cafes that are allowed to stay open during Ramadan during the day. I don’t know how they do it.

I do love Ramadan. There’s a buzz in the air, everyone is relaxed, and the entire city shuts down during daylight, except for the expats that take full advantage of the empty parks, roads, hotels and shops in the morning. It’s bliss.

Ramadan Kareem everyone.

 

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Celiacs in the land of bread: Would you like gluten with that gluten?

My expat journey just got a little more challenging. Whilst it is helpful to know the reason for my health challenges, being given this diagnosis in the land of bread is hard.

In Jordan, they have Pita bread with and in all their meals. There are salads with fried bread in it, kebab served in or around bread, bread in hommus. Even if you get bbq meat, there will be a piece of bread on top of it and underneath it. This isn’t cool. Hello constant cross contamination.

What’s worse? I spoke to a Jordanian friend the other day and asked her what the word for Celiac is in Arabic, she said there isn’t one. FANTASTIC!!!! I’ve learnt the Arabic word for gluten and wheat, but they dont understand me. Some know what gluten is, others don’t. I can ask for meals without bread which helps, but I’m still left wondering if dishes have gluten or not. I’m literally walking by faith in every meal, doing my best to eat gluten free and leaving the rest to God.

The joys of living in the Hasmite Kingdom.

What’s next? The unsettled peace of an expat.


We’ve been in Jordan for 3 years now, living abroad for 6. It’s hard to explain, but I always have an unsettled mind and heart about where I am and what’s next. I guess it is a common mind of an expat, but I find it all consuming, whereas some are able to be at peace. I dont know what this means, this uneasy feeling, but what I do know is that it hinders my ability to feel at home. It hinders the relationships I make and the decisions I make. Should I paint a blackboard wall? Should we move to a different location? Do I buy a new washing machine? All of these decisions cant be answered easily if you dont know where you’ll be in one years time. You do your best to guess where you’ll be, but you never know for sure. I guess nothing is ever 100% certain for anyone, but surely it shouldn’t be this unsettling. I work hard at not worrying about what’s next and allowing God’s plan to unfold as He seems fit, but I need peace, if not for my sake, for the sake of my kids.

Happy New Year: Pressing stop and restarting the year.

I don’t normally write the title first, but as I was reaching for my IPad to write this post, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the year ahead.  It indeed feels like a new year.

The past 18mths has been the hardest yet of my expat adventures.  I thought leaving behind Jerusalem was a brilliant idea.  It was.  Living in Jordan has been like a vacation in terms of the change of countries.  We definitely left behind intensity, insecurity and uncertainty in our day to day living, for a place of peace and hospitality.  But I also left behind some very dear friends who I miss so much.  I didn’t really take into account having to make new friendships and a new life.  Not sure why I didn’t, but I didn’t.  With a hardworking husband travelling most of this year for work, it has left me utterly burnt out.  Trying to homeschool an extremely defiant, aggressive kid whilst taming my awesome toddler and other two lads, whilst pregnant, had drained my inner being.  What’s worst? I haven’t made a close nit group of friends.  To be honest, trying to homeschool and just survive, I haven’t had a huge opportunity to get out there and make friends.  This made me feel pretty lonely and down at some points and resentful of husband at times, even if he was going out for work dinners.  I wanted in too!

It’s nice being able to type this in reflective mode, knowing that a massive change is coming through, hence the beginning of a new year, or new season.  I feel light, enthusiastic and happy.  My homeschooler has gotten a place in our top school of choice.  He is sooo happy there, in fact, thriving.  Homeschooling him was an important time.  It was a time of growth for him, particularly in his love for learning, and confidence as a learner.  It’s nice to be able to send him back off into the world knowing that he is thriving.   Considering school used to be a high stress point for him. This homeschooling time wasn’t light and fluffy though, oh no, no, it wasn’t.  Trying to teach a defiant child was sometimes like hell.  I had many inward and outward tantrums, many of which I’m not proud of.  But, some of the battles he put up were beyond ridiculous!  Homeschooling really did put a strain on our relationship.  We needed the space from each other, it was way too intense. School is the perfect breath of fresh air that we needed.

Anyway, we have a newborn in the house again.  Three kids have started back at school and a toddler at home. The world is my oyster, so they say.  I’ve started arranging play dates, Bible Study, and in a few months will begin playing sport again.  I’m thrilled to have a piece of me back that was missing for so long.  Not to mention, my hardworking husband has got a new position which has barely any travel too.  See why I call this a new year?  It sure feels like it. It’s time to thrive rather than barely survive.  It’s time to laugh and smile again, rather than frown and cry.  It’s time to press ‘go’, moving forward to a place of joy and contentment with where we are and where we are going in God’s grand plan.

Juggling

My navigation of life continues to be a juggle in the Hasmite Kingdom.  A juggle of spending quality time with all kids, homeschooling my intense and sometimes aggressive little man, attending play dates where I barely understand what is being said, enduring constant illnesses as our little one gets used to the new bugs, raising our kids alone most days while Joel also juggles his hectic work life.  Why am I here again? Yep, the honeymoon period of the expat has come to an end.  It’s never nice when it does.  Thought it would also be fun to throw in some low iron, low vitamin D and lazy thyroid, why not?  I must admit though, life is tough enough without that level of exhaustion, but throw in those extra things and I was EXHAUSTED!  It’s nice now that the fog has lifted and I have some bounce in my stride.

Another thing that eats away at me, or keeps me humble really, is the fact of having a kid with extra needs thrown into the mix.  Even though my head knows these kids need different approaches when it comes to teaching, guiding and disciplining them, I still can’t help but feel like a failure.  It’s an unhealthy way to be, I know, but a perfectionist can’t help it.  When you have a kid with oppositional defiance tendencies, you can’t help but think maybe this is happening because Im not being strict or consistent enough.  These thoughts smash me everyday.  Thank goodness for God’s grace and strategies.  After a LONG time, I’ve come back to His feet, smashed and humble, but ready to be carried.  Nothing like the ouchiness of humility, but the freedom and strength in God is so refreshing.  As I type this, I can say all my kids have taught me SO much about love, grace, patience and humility.  I’ve also learnt so far, so much about parenting a child with extra needs, so I know one day I will be able to hopefully help others that have children with special needs on a more personal level.  Hmmm, I guess this is the thing I lack too.  We have a diagnosis and some medication waved in our face, but then left to our own devices.  I’m madly reading most days trying to work out how to teach our kid the executive function skills he is missing, not really having a clue of what I’m doing.  Anyway, I’m sure God will use all of this that I’m learning now for my own family but others too.  

Jordan can be a challenging place to break into and make friends with the locals.  The locals have big families which consume most of their social life.  One of the ways for my kids to feel at home is of course by making friends.  So, I decided to invite the mothers and kids from my son’s class (in a local Arabic school) over to play.  Play dates are not something they do a lot of here, so the mothers were super excited by the idea.  We had about 8 come and all up about 20 kids.  It was awesome.  A challenge for me with my little bit of Arabic that I have, and hosting in a respectful way (they have lots of customs I had to remember),  but it was fun.  The mothers liked it so much that we’ve started a Whatsapp play date group for my son’s class. This is great.  We meet often to play.  Tick!

My heart continues to break for our neighbours across the bridge in Palestine (and the nice Israelis who want peace).  It’s sad to see this place in so much trouble but inevitable if you continue to try and solve problems by killing people or oppressing people even more, and not allowing some mothers access to attend their childrens funerals.  How inhumane can you be?!

Anyway, my life continues to be full, hectic, reflective and enjoyable in a funny kind of way.  

Ramblings of a hectic life in a more peaceful place.  Does that title even make sense?

The emotions continue to roll me over the coaster while I try to be mindful of them, acknowledging them, accepting them, and moving onto the next one, something I’ve learnt to do that is incredibly important for my sanity and mental health.  It’s soo nice to be free of Postnatal depression this time around.  It’s so liberating, but all the same, I’m incredibly careful, making sure I’m getting lots of sunlight through the eyes and talking, talking…

Life is pretty busy here.  I have more balance in life since finding a babysitter.  I can now actually meet people and go on date nights with my handsome husband.  Thank goodness!  We are also having play dates at least once a week so all has improved in the area of friends.  I still continue to feel like I’m on holidays in this place.  Jordan is SO relaxed.  It’s really nice to be freed from the tension, political uncertainties and constant security threats in Jerusalem.  It’s nice to not feel vulnerable to that level, and generally feel more peaceful.  It was time for this change.

I’m feeling excited for the new phase of schooling to start at the end of the month, but a little grieved because I feel like I’ve been a grumpy, stressed mumma these past few weeks.  With the above mentioned handsome husband busily doing amazing at his new job, wowing his new employer, it does mean a fair bit of single parenting at home.  I know this phase will settle, but it does take its toll.  I feel fairly burnt out.  I’m also trying to workout what’s happening with my food allergies, which make me so exhausted everyday, making me feel like I have a constant sinus infection and glandular fever.  I think I have a Histamine Intolerance.  I’m busily looking into modifying my diet to help sort this issue out a bit, but it is very hard when I can’t get the supplements that I need here, nor the right kind of foods.  I keep running into walls with this stuff.  I’m also incredibly impatient, so the whole idea of adding a teaspoon or so of something per day is incredibly tedious.  I’ve been doing some research and feel pretty inspired by The Low Histamine Chef’s recent books and articles.  I’m hoping to see a difference soon.  I’m seeing a difference in Laila’s tolerance levels of foods.  She hasn’t been waking every 1.5-2hrs at night for a little while now.  This gives me hope!!  I’ve been feeding her a lot of foods that use some GAPS-style stock.  She still has hives on her face, but do you know what, she is otherwise really happy, so I’m not going to worry for now.  I think it might be eggs, but don’t know for sure.

In all my busyness of late, I’m still really hungry to learn.  I’m looking forward to school starting back so I can have space to learn Arabic and keep up with my kids who will now be going into full immersion of Arabic.  Nothing like the desire to be one step ahead of my kids with the Arabic swear words and playground Arabic language to inspire me to learn FAST!  Wish me luck.

Starting from scratch

Being a mother of four I’m unsure of how other mothers of four or more manage to blog regularly, when I don’t even manage to go to the toilet regularly (well, when I want!).  So here is my latest installment of musings from abroad.

We are still abroad, but have moved across the bridge to Jordan.  It was time for a less intense life for our little people (and us).  

I knew we were ready for a change, but it was certainly tough saying goodbye to our family in Jerusalem (I’ve learned while on post your friends very quickly become family), and even more difficult taking our children away from teachers and friends they love so dearly. We visited our friends and family in OZ on our way to Jordan. I love visiting family and friends, but it is soo bitter sweet.  In hindsight, doing two major farewells back to back was way too hard, won’t be doing that again.  It’s also tough having a daily reminder of the fun you are missing out of and the ease of lifestyle too.  Life is just so damn easy in OZ.  If things do go pear shaped there, problems are solved easily and quickly.  I’m told life is easy in Jordan too, I hope so, because life in Jerusalem was unnecessarily difficult.

We’ve began our journey in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  Feeling a little depressed from farewelling friends and family (oh, the guilt I feel from having to take our kids away from the grandparents yet again!).  It’s also a little tough coming from holiday…to home…..where is my home?  I know, it’s a first world problem, but I currently don’t have a home.  I’m itching to settle somewhere.  The kids are ready to settle.  They are being so intense and challenging.  They need their own space and lots of it, preferably in a different room to me.  It’s all about navigating life the best we can.  Off we go again, starting life from scratch but with good health (our little lady is very well).