We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!


Road Closed

Originally uploaded by Jason L. Parks

I started this blog almost three years ago, when the Four Family was newly four, and as we were setting out to live for two years in Cairo, Egypt. It was an amazing two years. As I’ve been telling friends here in the US, moving to Egypt was the best thing we ever did–seconded only by moving back this past fall.

Dream Town is, yes, still dreamy. We’ve settled in beautifully. Bug starts kindergarten in the fall and Giggle will be going into grade two. Both boys have really grown and thrived here.

We miss our friends in Egypt, terribly. Bug especially misses his buddy B, and we all miss little Miss M and her parents (who’ve also left Egypt).

But Dream Town suits us quite well. We’ve spent lots of time outdoors, and we are living the life we want now. I’ve also lost about 20 pounds, from decreased stress and increased exercise.

I’m closing the blog to new comments and I suspect I won’t be back to post here very often. But I’ll leave it up, as a reference for folks moving to Cairo or interested in adoption or other issues I’ve discussed here.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, email me at egypt [dot] four [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thanks so much for reading this blog and sharing our adventures.


30 June 2010 Posted by | our life in egypt | Comments Off on Shuttered

Leaving Cairo


The bags are packed (mostly), the house is empty (mostly), the boys are sleeping (soundly), and Mr. Four and I have a quiet few hours before we leave the house for our midnight flight back to the US.

We’ve had a busy few days, filled with lots of goodbyes. We met some wonderful people here in Cairo, and it’s hard to leave these friends.

Bug and I went with some of these friends on an amazing trip to the White Desert a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so glad I got a chance to see what must be Egypt’s most beautiful place. We drove southwest of Cairo and camped under the stars (a rare sight in Cairo proper).

This desert used to be the bottom of a huge sea, and the limestone rock is quite striking. These rocks are called The Mushroom and The Chicken.
mushroom and chicken

Bug was convinced the rocks were made of hardened snow (like lava).

snow drifts

It’s sad to leave. But we’re also very excited for the adventures ahead.

6 October 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | 7 Comments

Dream Town, here we come

Folks, we’re leaving Cairo. As in, forever. And we’re leaving next week. It’s been brewing for a while, and you, my poor readers, are the last to know. (Sorry about that.)

We’re not going back to our beloved College Town. We’re heading many states away, to Dream Town. It’s such a dream town that I can’t quite believe we’re actually moving there.

I have a new job, which I’ll start in late October. We’ve tentatively lined up a place to live (we’ll be renting for a while), and our stuff that’s been in storage for the past two years should soon be making its way to our new home. I hope to get Giggle enrolled in school late next week, and we still need to find a pre-K for Bug. Mr. Four, as when we arrived in Cairo, will be staying at home for a while, to help us settle in.

We are very sad to leave our friends, the boys’ schools, and our wonderful nanny. But we are excited to go home to the US, to have sidewalks and clean air and woods and rivers. We are hoping this is a very long-term move, like through Bug’s high school graduation.

So that’s the latest! More to come as we pack.

1 October 2009 Posted by | bug, expat scene, giggle, home, our life in egypt | 4 Comments

Pig flu fever, part 2

Egypt's goats can't keep up with all the garbage (photo from NY Times)

Egypt's goats can't keep up with all the garbage (photo from NY Times)

H1N1 hysteria continues to sweep across Egypt. Last week, the government postponed all schools until early October; many Egyptians schools were already set to open late, after Ramadan, which just ended last night. But they also went ahead and suspended classes for schools that were already in session. Giggle is on holiday for Eid el Fitr, the holiday after Ramadan ends, and was supposed to be back at school on Tuesday. But now classes are cancelled for two whole extra weeks. This is in a school which so far has had no cases of H1N1.

A lot of people in Egypt travel for Eid el Fitr, some to Saudi Arabia and Europe, where there have been higher incidents of H1N1. Apparently (?) the government is worried that people will bring back flu from their trips, so they’ve delayed school to give people time to recover.

Except now more people are traveling and many of those already traveling have extended their travels.

And, lots of kids are missing school, like Giggle, who has been learning so much in first grade. The teachers sent home lots of activity books and reading books for the break, but the work at home can’t replace the great things they’re learning in the classroom.

The H1N1 panic has another terrible consequence. In May I blogged about the government’s early reaction to swine flu fear: the slaughter of all of Egypt’s pigs, who were an integral part of the city’s waste system. An article in today’s New York Times discusses the results of this: garbage in the streets. The garbage collectors used to collect all organic waste to feed to pigs, who then became meat for the garbage collectors to eat or sell. Now, without any pigs, the Zebaleen aren’t collecting organic trash, and it’s piling up everywhere.

The New York Times says,

What started out as an impulsive response to the swine flu threat has turned into a social, environmental and political problem for the Arab world’s most populous nation.

It has exposed the failings of a government where the power is concentrated at the top, where decisions are often carried out with little consideration for their consequences and where follow-up is often nonexistent, according to social commentators and government officials. …

Cairo’s streets have always been busy with children and littered with trash.

Now, with the pigs gone, and the schools closed, they are even more so.

20 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | 2 Comments

Crazy figs.

My kids like to go to Fagnoon, an art school for kids and adults outside of Cairo.

They also like to eat Fig Newtons.

Today I showed Giggle a photo of him working on a pottery project at the art school. “Fag Newton!” he exclaimed.


5 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | Comments Off on Crazy figs.

Two years in

It’s been two years!

One year ago, and two years ago, I asked for your questions.

What questions do you have for me now that I can’t really remember what it’s like to be new here?

3 September 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | 2 Comments

Helmet safety

Life is back to normal for the Four Family. The boys have been in school for about two weeks, and Mr. Four and I have both been back to work for a few weeks longer than that.

Giggle is now in first grade, which turns out to be very serious compared to kindergarten. There’s more homework and more responsibility. He was a bit overwhelmed at first, but now is settling in nicely. Today, after he finished his homework, he announced, “This homework was fun!” And then he added, “I hate homework.”

We Fours feel very strongly about helmet safety.

We Fours feel very strongly about helmet safety.

Bug is glad to be back with his best buddy, B, at school. B’s new nanny is friends with our nanny/housekeeper, so Bug has been spending a lot more time with his best buddy after school, which is great, because they have more fun and behave better when they’re together.

We bought skateboards for both boys recently. An expat acquaintance here commented he’d be too scared to let his kids get on skateboards. I speculated to Mr. Four that perhaps because in our world it’s normal to put your three year old in kayak, it’s not so strange to put your four year old on a skateboard–with helmet securely fastened, of course.

How about you? What outside toys do your kids have?

30 August 2009 Posted by | bug, fun, giggle, our life in egypt | 5 Comments

Roses and thorns

We Fours have a new tradition-in-the-making, inspired by the Obama family.

A few weeks ago, listening to Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast, I learned that each night the Obamas individually share a rose, something good, and a thorn, something difficult, from their day. (For more information, the Washington Post mentioned it here.)

Mr. Four, Bug, Giggle, and I have dinner together at home usually at least four nights a week, and often more (though sometimes we eat dinner at our club on the weekends). But the boys often acted silly through much of dinner, and while I tried to engage the boys about their day at school, I wasn’t always successful.

But now we’ve started our own roses and thorns, and it’s going great. In fact, the boys remember it at dinner before I do. Bug even wanted to talk roses and thorns at breakfast this morning.

It’s a great way to have some structured conversation, and I’m learning a lot more about what the boys are up to at school. Thorns often focus on difficulty with a friend. (In Bug’s renditions, usually his entire school is in time out except for him and his best buddy B.)

Mr. Four and I usually talk about work stuff, and I think this could be a good way for the boys to learn more about adult life.

And, I realized as I writing this, the boys’ dinner table behavior is much better now that they have something to talk about and share.

I’ve been wanting us to have some family traditions, and so far this is a great one.

20 March 2009 Posted by | bug, family, giggle, in the news, our life in egypt, parenting, school | 3 Comments

Race and the vet

Mister Puppy needs to go to the vet, for his second round of shots (the woman who owns his mom took him for his first round). We used a good local vet for Iggy the cat (deceased), our other cat (missing/presumed dead), and Puppy Four (deceased), but I’m not sure I want to go back to him. Is it because all my animals are dead? No!

The more I spent with this guy (and it was quite a bit towards the end with Puppy Four), the more stories I heard. Including the one about the attractive white woman in England who married a dark-skinned African man. The vet couldn’t possibly understand what any fair-skinned woman would see in a black man.

My impression is that this is a fairly typical, or at least not uncommon, view amongst educated Egyptians. And the kind of thing I tend not to hear from people who have actually met my kids.

I didn’t correct this guy, or tell him I disagreed. Lame, I know, but I was also in the throes of Puppy Four’s dying days.

Now, however, I’m disinclined to go back. This guy may be a good vet–he came to our house to euthanize the pup–but I prefer to bring my business elsewhere, to someone who, at least for a while, isn’t an espoused racist.

So Mister Puppy and I are going to visit a new vet tonight. One who is reputed to be good but perhaps pricier. I’m crossing my fingers.

8 March 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt, pets, race | 5 Comments

We are fine.

I know it’s been quiet around here, but given news reports about some bombs going off in Cairo, I wanted to reassure folks that we are just fine. More soon, I promise.

22 February 2009 Posted by | our life in egypt | | 4 Comments