Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

No Whining!

The other day AdventureMan and I happened to be in the same room and the TV happened to be on and a woman on one of the morning shows (shown in the afternoon in Kuwait) was talking about how to make your kids stop whining.

“I don’t remember (our son) ever whining,” I said, “do you remember him whining?”

“When he was very little, sometimes he would get fussy,” AdventureMan replied.

“Yeh, but fussy is different, when you are little and overtired, or have an ear infection or are hungry – even we get fussy!” I laughed.

I do remember a few awful times when, after standing in a long line in the military commissary on a payday I finally got to the checkout stand just as my son was totally losing it, having to get a month’s worth of groceries paid for and packed while he was screaming bloody murder and the groceries are being packed and people are looking at me like I am a criminal because I can’t feed him there in front of everyone. As soon as I could get him to the car, I could nurse him, but meanwhile, I was hostage to his relentless desparate wailing. Is their any sound as compelling as a wailing baby?

But that is to be expected when you have a baby; babies sometimes have to wail.

But whining?

I was lucky, I was able to be a stay-at-home mom when my son was little. We spent a lot of time together. I could usually distract him, I could usually put him down for a nap if he was tired, I could usually schedule myself to be around to feed him when he needed feeding. I remember ear-infection fussing, and teething fussing, but I don’t remember any whining.

AdventureMan said I wouldn’t put up with whining, not from him, not from our son.

Our son had a lot of expectations on him. AdventureMan was an officer, and we had obligations. (What? You thought only Kuwaitis had expectations and obligations?) Sometimes, when our son would rather be playing, he had to attend an event, or an official function, and he had to behave, because he was his father’s son, and his behavior would reflect on his father. When he would rather be wearing a sweatsuit and trainers, he had to wear dress pants and a dress shirt and tie, and dress shoes. If he complained, I would say “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it. I don’t like it either!”

I had two tools.

First, as soon as he could talk, I taught him to say “can we negotiate?”

Most of the time, we can find a way to make a bad situation better. Often, he had great suggestions, like “can we go to La Gondola and have a pizza afterwards, and can I invite Michael to go with us?” Whatever gets you through what you don’t want to do, I would think to myself, and agree. Occasionally, but not often, there were non-negotiables, like moves, and then, you just have to grit your teeth and get through it.

Second, I used incentives. Some people might call them bribes, but here is how it worked.

I knew it was in his best interest to get good grades, and that it was my responsibility to help him learn how to get those grades. On the first day of school, I would take him to the toy store and he could pick out what he wanted to work for. We would set goals for each class; we would write down those goals and post them on the refrigerator. At the end of the semester, when those goals were met, he got his prize. The hardest hardest part for me was NOT giving him a prize when the goal was not met, but encouraging him that I know he will get the prize next time. I think it was harder on me NOT giving in than on him, not getting the reward.

My Mother thought I was spoiling him because we would negociate. “You are the mother,” she would say. “You are the boss.”

“Yes, Mom,” I would respond, “but I NEED for him to cooperate. I need for him to feel like he has some choice.” It was just a generational difference.

Now I am getting to see a new generation having their babies. My niece taught her baby basic sign language, and continues to teach him more as time goes on. Even pre-verbal, he has ways of telling her he is hungry, thirsty, wants to be picked up, etc. What an amazing and wonderful idea, what control it gives a baby to be able to express these basic desires, to communicate needs and wants. I am in awe of these young mothers and the care with which they are raising their babies.

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Kuwait is blessed to have a blog written by young mothers for other young mothers, full of great ideas. Many of the ideas I THINK are great, but because some are written in Arabic, and my vocabulary and grammar are not that strong, i can’t really read them. That blog is Organic Kuwait; they even have books published for children explaining Ramadan and Hajj in age-appropriate language. Makes me wish I were a young mother again! 🙂

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Character, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Language, Shopping | , , , , | 5 Comments

Going Bananas

A friend sent this to me this morning, via old-fashioned e-mail, and I thought I’d share it with you before we race to the market to buy out all the bananas!
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A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression “going bananas” is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Read on:

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!
After reading this, you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia : High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey.. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe…polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit !!!

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Health Issues, Shopping | 8 Comments

More Minarets

Twice in the last year, I have seen new mosques, or mosques undergoing renovation, like this one, stop, the first new minarets torn down and newer, longer, thinner minarets go up. Literally about twice the size of what went up originally. This is the end result of the Fehaheel mosque along Gulf Road – actually, I find these minarets very elegant.

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In Qatar, we used to go looking for the older, state-built mosques. Most of them, the little area mosques (there is supposed to be a mosque within a five minute walk for every person) are still working mosques in Qatar. In old Kuwait city, they recently renovated some minarets that I see in very old photos of Kuwait.

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Building, ExPat Life, Living Conditions | 6 Comments

Election Year Joke

Lord Have Mercy

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession.

Like many young men, the boy didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and he didn’t seem to concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away to school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy’s room and placed on his study table four objects.

A bible

A silver dollar

A bottle of whisky

And a playboy magazine.

‘I’ll just hide behind the door’, the old preacher said to himself.

‘When he comes home from school this afternoon, ‘I’ll see which object he picks up.

If it’s the bible, he’s going to be a preacher like me and what a blessing that would be!

If he picks up the dollar, he’s going to be a business man, and that would be okay, too.

But if he picks up the bottle. he’s going to be a no-good drunkard, and Lord, what a shame that would be.

And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he’s going to be a skirt-chasing bum.

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son’s foot-steps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room.

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table.

With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm.

He picked up the silver dollar and dropped into his pocket.

He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink while he admired this months centerfold.

‘Lord have mercy.’ the old preacher disgustedly whispered.

‘He’s gonna run for Congress.’

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Character, Family Issues, Humor, Joke, Spiritual | 4 Comments

Gulf Royal City Center: Where Did it Go?

We hadn’t been to the Gulf Royal at City Center for a while, and since Chinese is my favorite “fast” food, we headed there this week-end. It’s gone.

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You can see where it used to be – straight ahead was the take out window, and to the left there was a garish Chinese-style entrance, and all across the back there was red and gilt decoration, genuine cheesy, but we liked the food.

All the signs are still up in the window, but the inside is gutted.

“Maybe they are just remodeling?” I asked hopefully.

“I don’t think so,” said AdventureMan, “Usually they would put up a sign saying ‘New improved Gulf Royal re-opening SOON!” and there was nothing like that in sight.

He is betting they have opened up somewhere else, maybe they weren’t getting the dinner traffic they used to get. Does anyone know? I know there are a couple others, like one in Hawally and one in Fehaheel, and several in the mall food courts . . . maybe the sit-downs aren’t making enough money?

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions | 3 Comments

Sunrise Concern

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When I see that distinct band of darkness just above the horizon, it makes me really nervous. It is surrounded by a sulpherous haze, and that may be just what it is, sulpher, used in processing oil. I can’t help but think it is not good for us to be breathing this.

It looks like it will be another sweet day, at 0730 it is 73°F / 23°C and the high today is supposed to be only 95°F / 35°C. If it is anything like yesterday, and it doesn’t touch 90°, I will be happy. If there is a sweet sea scented breeze, I will be even happier.

I am celebrating; I have a day at home today and I have so many things planned! I hope to get so much done! I love my days at home!

March 30, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 4 Comments

Spam Comments

Before you go any further, this comment which I found in SPAM is a “fund-raising” SCAM. I am only printing it as an example of some of the “Nigerian” scams out there – this is a new one for me, clearly targeting Muslims. It is hard for me to believe that people act on these letters, and find themselves out of their life savings.

The moral: if it seems to good to be true, it IS too good to be true. Don’t let greed blind you. This is a SCAM:

Dear Sir,

I’m Ali Ahmed, from Gambia West Africa,I want to explain my problem to you as Muslim father.My biological father name is Mohamed Ahmed,my father was born in a christian home,but my father and I find Islamic religion as the only true religion,and my father and I started practising Islam for good two years before my father relatives poison him because he changed to Islam.Now they after me,trying by all means to terminate my life,so that they will wipe Islamic religion in the family, As am writing to you my life is in danger,I can no longer go to my fathers compound,I cannot move freely in the street because their running behind me, My father was a successfully international business man, he trade on mineral resurces all over Africa.My father deposited 20,000 000 Million united state dollars to the national security company Gambia,of which I am the next of kin.All the documents both the depositing certificate is in my possession, Pleas sir, I want you in the name of Allah to help me come to your country and invest this money. May Allah Bless you, You can call me through this number

Tel (removed by blogger)

Email (removed by blogger)

Thanks
Yours faithfuly
Ali Ahmed

March 29, 2008 Posted by | Africa, Blogging, Crime, Fund Raising, Lies, Marketing, Social Issues | 7 Comments

Minarets

You’d think I would pick up on things sooner, but here’s the problem. When you don’t know something, you often don’t even know you don’t know. In a recent post on an Al Ahmadi minaret one of my commenters asked if I couldn’t tell it was a Shiite minaret. At first, I thought he was being funny, but it nagged at me, so I started asking around.

It turns out almost everone except me can tell the difference. Most say, as I would, “oh you just kind of know, it looks more Iranian” but occasionally someone will say something concrete, like “if it has a green roof on the minaret, it is Shiite” or “if the windows look like keyholes, it is Shiite.”

Who would know? Not me! But I am learning.

So, help me out here. This mosque near City Center on 5th ring. Definitely Shiite?

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This mosque is in Qurain – I love the very purpleness of it. Is this a Sunni mosque? I ask because the windows look kind of like keyholes.

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Now – services. I’m an Episcopalian, a sub-sect of Christianity, and I can walk into almost any Anglican/ Lutheran/ Catholic church in the world and even if it is in another language, I have a pretty good idea what is going on, because we are liturgical, we follow a pattern of worship, and the three services are very similar, with very subtle difference. In fact so subtle I probably couldn’t even tell you what the differences are. Islamic services are also considered liturgical – having a set pattern of worship.

So if you were Sunni or Shiia, and walked into a service, could you tell a Sunni service from a Shiia service? Are there differences?

I am sorry to be so ignorant; help me be less so!

March 29, 2008 Posted by | Building, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, Kuwait, Spiritual | 21 Comments

Saturday Sunrise

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Wooo Hooo, the sky has normal clouds, the haze does not appear dusty, and Weather Underground: Kuwait says it isn’t supposed to go above 98°F / 37°C today or in the next five days – a spell of cooler weather! Thursday it hit 106° F – not untypical of summer, but March??

March 29, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 6 Comments

Ordered to Learn English

This is from BBC News: Americas. If I were living in the USA, I might think that is a good thing. Living here in Kuwait, speaking some Arabic, pretty laughably, I shudder to think what could happen here. . .. guess I’ll have to stay out of the Kuwait courts, insh’allah.

Judge orders men to learn English

A judge in the US state of Pennsylvania has ordered three Spanish-speaking men to learn English or go to jail.

The trio, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, were told they could remain on parole if they studied English and got full-time jobs.

Judge Peter Olszewski said the unusual sentence was supposed to help the men. They will serve their full jail terms if they fail an English test in a year.

Lawyers for the three said they had not yet decided whether they would appeal.

You can read the rest of the news article HERE.

So I am curious. If you are Kuwaiti, what do you think about the fact that about 50% of your population (the not Kuwaiti part) doesn’t speak Arabic, the native tongue in Kuwait.

If you are an expat, if you had to learn Arabic, would you continue to work here?

March 28, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cultural, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, News | 21 Comments