Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Hokey Pokey

Here is something very interesting:

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went un-noticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at the age of 93.The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in --- and then the trouble started............



"We may never pass this way again. . . "

The title takes me back to my oldest brother's high school graduation when they played the Seals and Crofts song (yes, I'm showing my age) "We May Never Pass This Way Again." I love music especially when it helps me relate to specific times in my life.

Sunday was no exception. Mira and I went to Elaine's and Jeff's house for Easter. Hassan had to work. Elaine is the youngest child. Almost everyone was there, except for my one brother Tom who was in Richmond visiting his wife's family. Mira had the chance to spend time with her older cousin, Kelsey, and her little cousin, Maggie. My dad and stepmom were there along with Kelsey's mom and dad, my brother Jim and sister-in-law Martha. My other sister Laura was there too. Even Elaine's friend Pamm and daughter Emma popped in for a quick "hello/good-bye." Mira and Emma could be sisters, they look so similar.

I realize that life cannot stand still and we must make our choices throughout our lives. When my mom died I never thought that holidays would be the same again, and they really haven't been the same. We've moved along and made new memories with the new people in our lives.



Saturday, March 26, 2005

"Spinning WheelsTurning Round"

We packed the boxes in the van today and drove to Baltimore to have our boxes shipped to Alexandria. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, the warehouse was closed. We live in Southern Maryland (south of DC) and the warehouse is in East Baltimore 80 miles away -- an area of Baltimore that is considered "industrial" in the most raw sense of the word. We just seem to spin our wheels in terms of shipping our belongings.

The boxes will sit in the van until I drive up with Mira on Monday to attempt to deliver them once more to the warehouse, Insha'Allah. For some reason, the shipping the boxes are a real roadblock for me.



Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Where's the kitchen sink?

As I finish boxing up everything to be shipped off to Egypt, I recall Meryl Streep with her fair complexion, wearing romantic outfits, speaking with her beautiful accent in "Out of Africa" where she shipped all of her personal belongings from Europe to Africa only to be destined to a life of heartbreak. OK so I'm no Meryl Streep, but there's this romantic notion of boxing up memories and belongings and taking off on some wild adventure. I'm 42 and a past the point of wanting to go on a wild adventure in my lifetime (believe me, surviving my 20's was adventurous enough), but a move to Egypt with Hassan and Mira is something that we will all experience together.

I don't think there is anything I've overlooked at this point. We even had (I use the term "had") some extra room in boxes that I managed to fill with miscellaneous belongings. I could probably find a reason to take the kitchen sink if I wanted, but I'll let it go this time around.

I reminded Mira today that she only has a few days left of school here in Maryland -- they're off next week for Spring break. Every chance I get, I try to weave in the understanding that yes, we are moving soon, and it will be a change for all of us, but to remember that change can be good too. It will take time for all of us to adjust to our new home.



A droopy day that wasn't droopy at all.

Spring finally arrived this past weekend, and it's about time. Thankfully, the sun rises before 7:00 a.m. and I actually want to get moving by 8:00 a.m. I am much more motivated with sunshine bursting through the windows.

Yesterday, Sunday, one of my brothers, Tom, came down with his wife, Missy, and their three children, Frances, Andrew and Peter. Before they arrived, Mira wrote a list of activities ranging from basketball to frisbee to TV. She was quite the activities director, as usual.

As we were playing frisbee outside Mira said it was a "droopy day" meaning it was kind of cloudy, kind of foggy, but not really cold, kind of warm.

Tom and I went to a local barbecue place, Randy's, to pick up beef barbecue sandwiches. Randy's is a local barbecue joint on the side of a major road that attracts a steady stream of customers from all walks of society. And we all have one thing in common: we love Randy's.

They stayed all day and we really had a great time. Mira was very sad to see them go, as was I. She is coming to the realization that we are moving and life is about to change.



Friday, March 18, 2005

Moving right along . . .

We are finishing up packing boxes and they are ready to be shipped. We spent at least an hour the other day at the Bryantown MD post office. That poor postal employee spent an hour measuring our boxes telling us "They're too big." I can't even tell you how many times she repeated herself. If we want to send anything in a box to Egypt via USPS it cannot measure more than 14x14x14. (It's very lucrative for the USPS, though.)

We decided to go with our original plan of shipping on a freighter using a commercial shipping company called uboxworldwide. Their rates are pretty reasonable at least on the US end, and our boxes should arrive in about five weeks. Hassan will need to drive to Alexandria to pick up the boxes and take a good businessman with him to talk down the customs agent. Customs taxes in Egypt are subjective; each agent determines customs -- there are no set guidelines.

Hassan keeps telling me "I don't know where we're going to put everything." OK we are taking more than originally planned, but we are paying for the space on the freighter and whether or not we use it is entirely up to us.

I am able to take all the china and dishes and many other things I thought would have stayed behind.

Since our new pc is packed we are using our old pc which is very slow, and not very well protected from viruses.



Wednesday, March 16, 2005


My dad called this evening and informed us that my stepmom's surgery was a success. I was very relieved. I have been thinking about her so much before the surgery and then didn't realize that the surgery had already taken place. She will be in the hospital until Thursday when she will be released and then she will recuperate at home. Time is escaping me to the point where I imagine specific dates to be almost a week away and then they are upon me.

In our phone conversation this evening, my dad offered to take us to the airport. After we spoke, a tremendous amount of peace and acceptance came over me. We will all go to the airport together, which will be very special and sentimental for all of us. I am already on an emotional rollercoaster and Hassan knows I'm just warming up.

Thanks Dad for your support.

Ma3salaama (go in peace),


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Logistics - Departing and Arriving

The last night in our house in Maryland will probably be April 5th. We hope to have the house empty of all the furniture by that date except for two mattresses, pillows, etc. Mira will go to school as usual on April 6th, we will settle on the house while she's in school, then we'll pick her up from school. This may be better than picking her up from the bus stop only to drive away from the house that isn't ours anymore. We will stay in a hotel on April 6th, so Mira can go to school April 7th, which will be her last day of school. On April 8th we'll go to the airport and fly to Egypt. I hope it is as easy as it sounds.

We will arrive in Egypt on April 9th at approximately 2:15 p.m. Now unlike in the US, everyone (Hassan's family and friends) will be at the airport to greet us. They were at the airport fighting over who would drive us back to the house. I think we may have even split up in separate cars, but I can't remember -- it's a little foggy at this point. Hassan's friends are rather insistent on renting a minivan -- or in Egyptian a "microbus", and taking us to our apartment. This would be great because they can help us carry the bags up the three flights of stairs. The only drawback is that we do not have a car to get around the next day.

We need to be at our apartment because Mira needs to be at school almost immediately, but before we get her enrolled in school we have to go to the Ministry of Education to obtain a special exemption so she can attend school for the last month of the school year.

So, one more item to think about is what kind of car to buy. There are many cars in Egypt (an understatement entirely), but we need a car almost immediately to get around and get Mira settled in school. We are thinking about buying a used car until we can find the new car we really want, then we will each have a car. Just what Egypt needs, two more drivers . . .



Friday, March 11, 2005

A little bit of everything and nothing

There is something going on with my blog. I don't know exactly what it is but I may have to re-work the blog. I thought it was my pc, ran ad-aware and deleted all the "tags" but still have problems with the blog.

Hassan bought the airline tickets today. He has them with him at work. He said it was a 2 mile walk each way to the travel agent in DC from his office (the office seemed closer to his office than it actually was, I guess). I told him to get used to it because we'll be walking quite a bit after we move.

Mira came home from school today and seems to be in a good mood. We need to finish the "Malcolm Author Book" assignment. She is writing a book about traveling to Egypt. I'm going to help her put it together with the scrapbook supplies and stickers.

It is really difficult to cook dinner at this point because I just don't have the energy to clean-up. So, I need to think of some quick dinners for Hassan when he gets home from work.



Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ready . . . Set . . . Go!

We purchased our airline tickets today. Wow, what a relief! We are leaving on the 8th of April instead of the 7th because it will give us one more day of tying up loose ends. Hassan will pick up the tickets on Friday when he goes to work. The travel agent is not far from his office.

Hassan called the Futures School in El Rehab this morning. Apparently we will be able to enroll Mira in the remainder of 1st grade in Egypt (the month of May) and she will take the final exam along with everyone else as long as we obtain permission from the Ministry of Education. So, I need to call Mira's school here in Maryland and get a copy of her transcript along with a letter stating that she has been in school and is a student in good standing. Alhamdulillah. This education hurdle has been just that for at least a year. Every time we thought about moving to Egypt "Mira's school" was always the one topic that would derail us from moving. Now there is no turning back and we are moving ahead as planned.

The rocker is disassembled (a little scary to look at honestly) but ready to go in a box along with the quilts and comforter. I have all the photos in order and ready to go. Wow, what a lot of pictures. I'll probably go through them a little more before they end up being shipped. No sense in paying customs or postage on photos if they're just going to be thrown out.

Hassan spoke with Aunt Olfat today. We told her that we will arrive in Cairo on April 9 at 2:15 p.m. She said she will be there to greet us, but we asked her to stay home because she is still recuperating from radiation treatments. We told her that she will be our first stop after arriving in the airport.

Mira was invited to an ice cream party at school this evening for completing at least seven activities in her school's literacy quest. I keep calling it "literary quest" and she keeps correcting me. She is going along with three other boys in her class. She is the only girl in her class who completed the assignment. Each class will be represented by students who completed the assignment.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

35 Days and Counting!

Thirty-five days from today we will be on our way to Cairo, Insha'Allah. I packed my first box today and it weighs 40 lbs. The box consists of a quilt I made for Mira, and my milkglass collection from my mom. It will definitely be worth the price we pay for weight.

I have my clothes packed. I may even leave some of the clothes behind because I'm going on what I "might" wear and not what I actually "will" wear. I prefer Egyptian clothes for women rather than American clothes (well at least for my size).

Even though Hassan and I are still sitting in disbelief, every minute we sit in disbelief is a minute wasted that we could be doing something constructive. We find ourselves waking up excited in the morning, and excited, but completely exhausted at night. The exhaustion is not from the physical toll on our bodies, but rather the mental and psychological stress that we put on ourselves as we attempt to process all the responsibilities we are currently puting upon ourselves.

Yesterday we went shopping and bought a lot of little things for our trip. Hassan's cousins want the Crest spin brushes, Listerine breath strips, individual packets of Splenda, and Glad bags.



Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A plan coming together

Today was a very busy and productive day. First of all it was Mira's third snow day in a row, 5 days off total including the weekend.

Hassan and I woke up very early today (who can sleep) and called several schools in Egypt. There are two schools that will admit Mira for the remainder of the school year; we will follow-up with a third school tomorrow morning. This was very good news. Alhamdullilah.

We booked our flight for April 7 on Alitalia out of Dulles to Milan, Milan to Cairo, so we will not need to lug our bags around in JFK. What a relief. We are flying out in just over a month's time. I called the airline and found out that we are able to carry 140 pounds per person in luggage (2 bags total), but the luggage cannot be over 273 centimeters; so it's weight vs. size. This actually turns out to our advantage in case there are smaller, heavier items we want to carry with us that won't be shipped. We are also allowed one carry-on per person, weighing no more than 11 pounds. Gotta love those Italians. Mira said "Oh no, Mommy, not Italian, I don't want an Italian coldcut sub."

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. the buyers have their home inspection so we need to be out of the house early. We think the house is in good operating order, I mean no bubbling septic and we're not growing gills, so the well must be safe. Insha'Allah everything will go well.

We will purchase our airline tickets after the home inspection report. (OK now I'm about to faint).