We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Happy Halloween!

We celebrated Halloween last Friday evening. The local American school had a fabulous Halloween Carnival, which had echoes of our small town’s celebration last year.

And Mr. Four went all out with the costumes. I can claim credit only for the kernel of an idea (“Hey, maybe the boys can be trains”). Mr. Four found great inspiration in some cardboard and paint.


The costumes were magnificient.


And the boys were adorable.

giggle in his costume

We went trick-or-treating from classroom to classroom at the school, and then we enjoyed activities like the Potty Panic (toss the toilet paper roll into the toilet bowl), the Fun House (which had face painting and gooey yucky slimey food stuff to play with), and the Rat Race (roll a large foam die ad move a toy rat across the giant game board). Every activity led to a (non-candy) prize. Good fun all around. Plus we saw lots of kids who attend Bug and Giggle’s school, and it was nice to see the boys having fun with their friends.

And tomorrow, November 1, the boys have Halloween at school. Why not today? Apparently they give out enough candy that the teachers don’t want to deal with kids after that. Nice.

It bears noting that Mr. Four prepared veggie sticks for the class party.

What hadn’t even occured to us is that we might have trick-or-treaters. Yet just moments ago, the doorbell rang, and there were three costumed American kids looking for candy. We had none to give them. How pitiful. Poor Mr. Four, who answered the door, felt really bad.


31 October 2007 Posted by | holidays | 6 Comments

NY Times on first family searches

The Sunday Magazine of the New York Times has an article this weekend on first family searches in international adoption. Definitely worth reading.

27 October 2007 Posted by | adoption, in the news | Comments Off on NY Times on first family searches

Is that rain? No, it’s just the fan.

I woke up a wee bit homesick today. First, there was the not-rain. Then, I remembered a dream I had where I hiked with my two girls, Ms. Muddy Paws (now with my mom) and Ms. Underfoot (now with a lovely new family who adores her).

Here’s a happy Ms. Muddy Paws in Mr. Four’s old truck, photo courtesy of my mom.
ms. muddy paws

I miss my girls. And I miss rain.

On the up side, tonight we’re going to a Halloween carnival, and the boys’ costumes look fantastic. It’s 2pm here, and they are napping, hopefully for a while. The party starts at 5:30.

Last night Giggle freaked because Mr. Four cut a big hole in Giggle’s costume, to make it wearable. So I went online to show Giggle Halloween costumes, and we even found some YouTube videos of kids trick-or-treating. I’m not sure he gets it, but he knows he’ll wear his costume and somehow this all relates to candy.

Bug is very excited.

Now I’m off to glue and paint a cardboard top hat. Think it’ll dry in a few hours?

26 October 2007 Posted by | bug, giggle, holidays, home | Comments Off on Is that rain? No, it’s just the fan.

Pharoah’s Island

Here’s part 2 of our Eid vacation, from two weeks ago.

pharoah's island

On Sunday, we took an early afternoon trip to Pharaoh’s Island, comprised almost entirely of a large castle built amongst and over the rocks. The castle has been used by the Crusaders, Salah al Din, Israelis, and Egyptians. Among others, I suppose.

pharoah's island

The day was really hot, and we did a lot of sitting around and waiting. Waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Waiting for the ferry to come back from the island. Waiting for the rest of the group to arrive again.

castle at pharoah's island

Despite all the non-activity of it all, we had a neat time. The castle, though re-built (obviously) since the time of the Crusaders, was pretty cool. And the boys enjoyed it too.

mr. four, bug, and giggle at pharoah's island

We climbed around a lot of steps.

pharoah's island

pharoah's island

And definitely got that old castle feel.

pharoah's island

Check out more photos at my Flickr site.

25 October 2007 Posted by | holidays, tourism | Comments Off on Pharoah’s Island

A lullaby of Skittles

What’s it take to get my kids to go to sleep on their own at night, without mommy and daddy right there with them?

The promise of pancakes and two skittles for breakfast.

We’re on our second night of candy-inducing sleep, and it’s not perfect. Lights out leads to lots of chattering and giggling and, so far, a late night round of bathroom visits before actual sleep commences. And Mr. Four had to go in a few times with stern no-candy warnings.

But, a couple of skittles for breakfast is a small trade-off for more evening time for Mr. Four and me, and, I hope, some bonding time for the boys.

Honestly, why didn’t we think of this sooner?

24 October 2007 Posted by | bug, giggle, parenting | 2 Comments

Double tagged: my meme

Whoa, I’ve been double-tagged for a meme, first by Sarah and then by Cindy.

But first, at least one person asked me, so here’s the Wikipedia definition of an internet meme. In blog speak, I’ve seen it used to refer to a list of questions that a blogger answers and then tags another blogger to answer as well.

So here goes:

Job’s I’ve held:
1) Hallmark retail clerk
2) Elementary after school teacher
3) Raft guide
4) College writing instructor

Places I’ve lived:
This one is tough since I’m trying to be vaguely anonymous, and really I’ve only lived in four areas other than Cairo, but here are some generalities in chronological order:
1) New England
2) Upstate New York
3) A College Town in the South
4) The Southern Appalachians

Food I love:
1) Hot fudge sundaes
2) Dark chocolate
3) Guacamole
4) Tea

Places I would rather be:
1) Someplace rainy
2) Someplace green
3) Ethiopia
4) Pretty much I’m happy just where I am, so I don’t have a #4.

Movies I love:
1) Shakespeare in Love
2) Ten Things I Hate About You
3) Like Water for Chocolate
4) Chocolat

TV shows I watch (edited to say: have watched in the past or would watch if I could!):
1) Project Runway
2) Lost (this reveals I am an optimist because it always disappoints me)
3) The Sopranos (we still have to watch the last season, no spoilers please!)
4) Six Feet Under (best show ever)

Friends I am tagging:
1) Marc at the Ferenge Addis Blog
2) Supermom Erin
3) Superduper Ma
4) Dear old friend Robyn

24 October 2007 Posted by | food, this blog | Comments Off on Double tagged: my meme

Adoption ethics

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ethics in transnational adoption, specifically in Ethiopian adoption. I’m afraid it’s not as rosy and simple as I believed a few years ago when we started Bug’s adoption process.

Of course I love my children dearly and don’t question their place in our family. They’ve made our family a family after all. This isn’t about them though of course they are the reason I am interested in this topic. And I know they’ll have really tough questions for us, starting pretty soon, I suspect.

Right now I am especially concerned about the big picture of adoptive, the troubling fact that capitalism is fully in play, and demand creates supply, especially when it comes to young healthy infants, but also with older healthy children.

So I read a lot of adoption blogs, including those written by adult adoptees, to whom all adoptive parents should be listening. I particularly like Harlow’s Monkey, written by a really smart woman who is an adoptee and an adoption social worker. I also read the fantastically named Ungrateful Little Bastard, which is smart and funny and also very sad.

Fleas Biting focuses on corruption in adoption and has some very interesting recent posts about a conference on adoption ethics.

Adoptive parents often don’t want to hear these criticisms. But some adoptive parents (including me, I hope) do seem to get it. One example comes in the November issue of Mother Jones magazine, which includes the sensationally named article Did I Steal My Daughter? Sorry for the spoiler, but the answer is no, the author didn’t steal her daughter. However, she raises some incredibly compelling points, and I encourage anyone even tangentially interested in the topic to read it.

And I’d be interested to know what you think.

23 October 2007 Posted by | adoption | 6 Comments

The Cardboard Artist

Last year we had a great Halloween, and Bug was adorable in his internet-provisioned pirate costume. I had had grand visions of a homemade Pooh outfit but failed in my efforts to find a hooded sweatshirt in his size in either yellow, orange, or white. Eh, the pirate costume was probably cuter than anything I could have cobbled together.

The highlight, though, was the Halloween festival at the local town commons. All the volunteers had great costumes, and they had amazing games. And there wasn’t one lick of candy, so poor Bug didn’t even know what he was missing! Heh. Mr. Four and I were also inspired to dress as pirates, so it was a grand family outing.

Fast forward to this year, when we thought the only Halloween celebration would be the one at the boys’ school on November 1. And, since the boys don’t even know about Halloween (Bug is too young to remember, and Giggle lived in Ethiopia til this summer), it seemed like it might pass without much fanfare.

Then, last week, a friend and colleague mentioned that the local PreK-12 American school has a “wicked” (guess where she’s from) Halloween party. She also said that the costumes are so great, you feel sorry for the kids in the store-bought ones. Hmmm. That got me thinking. Luckily, we have a man of action in the household.

So, take one handy man, bring him to a new country and give him some extra time, and then add in an upcoming holiday from home, and this is what you get: costume nirvana.

I came up with a rough idea for costumes (we explained Halloween to Giggle, but I don’t know how we ever would have explained choosing a costume), and Mr. Four ran with it. And, seriously folks, he’s an artist.

Right now we have a bunch of glued cardboard spread out around our bedroom floor. I’ll reveal the final costumes once they’re, well, final.

This time of year also reminds me of my father’s 10% policy when we were kids. He insisted that he gwt a 10% cut of our candy at Halloween and Easter. Truth be told, he probably ate a LOT more than that. I know that now because I am a parent with a sweet tooth just like his, and there’s no way I’ll be able to resist all that chocolate. Plus add in a dash of rationalization (“it’s not even good for them!”), and the kids end up losing a lot more than 10%. Hurray for family traditions!

This Friday night is the big Halloween party that will feature, yes, candy! The boys really have no idea just how exciting it will be.

22 October 2007 Posted by | bug, giggle, holidays | 4 Comments

The good news and the embarrassing news.

The good news is that the power cord isn’t broken! And the embarrassing news is that the power cord isn’t broken!

(This reflects, in my opinion, far worse on Mr. Four than on me, but perhaps I am being sexist. Or perhaps I have grown too accustomed to his usual ability to fix just about anything.)

We have a massive transformer/surge protector that we also use as a plug adaptor. Apparently it blew a fuse. Actually, we know it blew a fuse because we replaced the obviously burnt out fuse and the transformer again works. As Mr. Four noted, it did what it was supposed to do: it blew a fuse and protected the computer. Hurray!

We figured all this out because I gave the “broken” adaptor to an Apple technician guy here in Cairo. He called us with the good news. And that’s when we actually looked at the transformer.

I know this probably doesn’t make for very exciting blog reading. So now I’ll take a moment to tell you about the lessons I learned this weekend:

  1. I get antsy when I can’t check email, facebook, this blog, etc. And then I feel really lame.
  2. My poor kids are better off with a broken computer.

Now we just have to get the actual power cord back from the technician guy, and then this blog should resume its normal programming.

    22 October 2007 Posted by | this blog | Comments Off on The good news and the embarrassing news.


    Oh my. I’ve been tagged for a meme.

    I’m not gonna do this at work (I’m not that much of a slacker. Not usually.), so I’ll get to it when we get a new power cord. Which I hope is very soon, thanks to Cindy and some nice folks at work who are trying to help us.

    18 October 2007 Posted by | this blog | Comments Off on Meme