Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Some Recent Photos

A photo of Hassan, Mira and me at Hassan's office.

A photo of Mira next to the Worldspace rocket that launched a satellite.

A photo of my sister's backyard in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A photo of a dinosaur skeleton displayed at the Discovery Channel building in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.


Monday, February 19, 2007

The Family Get Together

Yes, the weather is going to change, but guess when?! When we leave on Friday, February 23rd. Of course it is. In fact, I predict right here and now that Cairo will have unusually cold weather followed by snow and sandstorms. OK, maybe not snow, but we will be returning to Cairo for sandstorm season. I don't care at this point, as long as it doesn't make my shoes wet and my jeans snowy.

I have said from the very beginning of living in Cairo, that I love the weather in Egypt. I don't miss the thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and especially snow/ice storms in the US. I don't know who would miss them. But this year, and I have heard it from every member of my family here in the US that "strange you're here now, because we've had the coldest weather in at least 10 years." This runs from New Jersey to Western Pennsylvania, including of course Washington, DC.

Even today Mira and I were visiting with my sisters when it started snowing. Mira was really scared that I couldn't drive in the snow. When I proved to her that I can drive in the snow, she decided that I'm an excellent driver. Thanks, Mira for your overwhelming vote of confidence.

We went to my brother Tom's house yesterday for a family get together. Just about all were there, except for my one sister-in-law. We had a great time laughing and catching up on what everyone's doing. I think the personalities in my family are very strong, especially when it comes to laughing. As my Dad says "The nuts don't fall too far from the tree." Ah, how true, Dad. Our family motto.

Photos were taken, but I will not be able to post them until I return to Cairo. Only God knows when we will be able to gather together again like this; but I can tell you one thing: I am grateful for the time we are spending together.

I am at peace.




Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Jesus is Here"

Mira and I were riding back with Maggie's Mom from Western PA on Sunday when we drove by a church that read on a large marquis "Jesus is Here!" I couldn't believe it. I just started laughing. It is not out of disrespect or anything, but it seems as though having "Jesus is Here" in large red marquis letters flashing off and on is a bit much for me -- or anyone for that matter.

I know I am not used to seeing these types of signs in the US at all but especially in SW PA it seemed really out of place to me.

It seemed to me that Jesus was some kind of stand-up comic performing through the weekend.

For myself, to be reminded of God does not mean a large sign in flashing red marquis letters, or a church in the shape of a lighthouse just a few miles away from the red marquis church, but instead means hearing the beautiful adhan 5 times a day, at dawn, at noon, at mid-afternoon, at sunset, then at night. The beauty of Islam is not what I see with my eyes but what I feel in my own heart.

Perhaps seeing that sign along the highway reminded even more me how much I miss hearing the adhan and how much I miss Cairo.



Saturday, February 10, 2007

Our week in Pennsylvania is winding down . . .

Today is our last day here in Pennsylvania visiting my sister and her family. It has been a wonderful visit. Mira doesn't want to talk about leaving early tomorrow morning. Maggie even had a bad dream last night telling Mira not to leave - don't go.

It breaks my heart to have Maggie and Mira separate - but it has been a wonderful bonding experience for both of them; something I know Mira will never forget and something I hope Maggie will remember, even though she's only 3.

I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Maggie's Mom (my youngest sister) and her husband, Jeff. He is one of the kindest and funniest people I've ever met in my life. My sister and brother-in-law have a beautiful home and of course family, meaning Maggie.

I had a chance to meet some of my sister's friends, and I feel comforted knowing that she has a solid network of women to rely upon and talk to when she feels frazzled. You know, someone to share your accomplishments with as well as someone to listen to when things aren't going so well.

We have shopped, eaten, and frozen our way through the past week. It has been absolutely bitterly cold, but enjoyable nonetheless. Mira loved the snow. At first she wanted to play in it, but later realized that it was just too cold and instead just walked around in the snow watching it sparkle in the sunlight.

I told Maggie that where we live we don't have snow, so Mira loves to look at it. It's always warm, sunny (Alhamdulillah), and sandy where we live. I wish I could tell you the way Maggie describes where we live, but just imagine a 3 year-old with her developing language pronounce "Egypt." It is adorable to listen to her talk.

We will leave early tomorrow morning, Sunday, for Washington, DC to see Hassan. There may be some relief on the horizon for Hassan in terms of work relief - but we will have to wait and see.

Tomorrow is also my birthday -- no mention of age here -- as I've stopped counting.

Alhamdullilah for everything.



Monday, February 05, 2007

The Weather Report

I will never, ever complain about the cold weather in Cairo for the rest of my life. Wallahi (I swear)-- it is -20 C outside at the very least. Apparently the weather here in Western PA (Pittsburgh) is the coldest in 10 years. Of course it is, because Marian is in the US for the first time in two years! I long to feel the warm Egyptian winter sun kissing my face. (If you are like me, you would miss it too.)

We did some more shopping today. I know what you're thinking - why go out when it's icy, snowy and absolutely freezing outside?! Because my sister has snow tires and she lets nothing stop her from doing what she wants to do - just like Mom used to do. When there's a will there's a way. We were raised with the determination to do what we want when we want, regardless of what the weather is like outside.

We made our way through Target today -- a bit overwhelming - actually all the stores here are still overwhelming me and I need to stop and gather my senses before I just take one of everything in the store. I did manage to cross a few more items off my shopping list so I feel quite satisfied in that regard.

Mira got another pair of jeans - ok she's done with pants for now. I think she has enough to last her until at least the hot weather hits in Cairo. Me? Well, I managed to get some mints I've been dying for -- nothing spectacular but good old Lifesaver Peppermints. Plain old candy - it's hard to find a good mint in Cairo, along with some sugar free candies to give to family in Egypt.

I found some more moisturizer my face is in desperate need of - the Egyptian sun just sucks all the moisture out of my skin - especially my face. So now I'm into finding the "advanced age defying night cremes" to make my skin look younger. Ugh. Hair color - to color or not to color I'm still debating this one. If I color my hair, then I'm stuck doing it for the rest of my life. If I don't then I can do it whenever I wish. Luckily for me I didn't find anything I really liked unless I wanted to color my hair from reddish brown to bright red -- not.

I still haven't been able to find clothing prices better than Burlington Coat Factory in Silver Spring. The quality is great and the prices are knocked down. The sales lady said to come back after February 14th, when the prices will really be slashed. Gotta love winter clothes in the US; they're perfect for Egyptian winters too.

So I only have a few more stores to hit in the next 3 weeks: Kohl's (candles & maybe pants), Michaels/JoAnn's (crafts and quilting supplies), and Best Buy (video camera). Everything I am buying is very inexpensive, so my money goes further.



Saturday, February 03, 2007

Week #1 in the US - A Summary

We arrived safely, Alhamdulillah. The next day or two were spent trying to recover from the flight. To help us recover, we went shopping! Of course the first thing I bought was a pair of jeans.

On the first Sunday, we visited my one brother, Tom and his family and had a nice visit. I saw my Dad and stepmom there for a short visit. It was a wonderful day spent with Tom and his family; catching up on the past two years is quite challenging.

Back to shopping. We are hitting the sales in the US at the perfect time of year. The winter clothes in the US are all on clearance right now so we're getting great quality clothes for a steal. Of course I don't feel guilty about it at all. While trying on clothes I found that I dropped at least 4 sizes, maybe more. This thrills me beyond belief because I have many more choices when it comes to clothes.

I'm just about finished with clothes, although I'll still keep my eyes out for great prices.

My list of things to take back to Cairo is getting smaller.

Mira got a lot of clothes so far and wants to spend too much money. I keep reminding her that these are US dollars we're spending and not Egyptian pounds. I think we're breaking Hassan's bank account.

Because of the changing situation in Hassan's office, it appears that he will be staying until June, at the very least. He has already proposed that we return for the summer if he stays longer. Hmm, I will have to wait and see. The Mediterranean is calling me for July . . . .

I haven't had a chance to get online too much. This is only my second chance in 5 days.

Beginning tomorrow, Mira and I are going to western PA to stay with Maggie's Mom for a week.

Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers for our safe trip.

I am still adjusting to the being here, away from the warm Egyptian winter sun. It is just too cold here to do anything.