Friday, June 20, 2014

First day of school holidays.

It has been a long time since my last post and life has gotten busier with Ayla and work.  At first, it was heart breaking leaving Ayla at home, but we are so lucky to have a fantastic, positive, caring nanny who adores and loves Ayla.  It also helps to have supportive colleagues who have been in the same situation.  I don't think I could have gotten through these last 10 weeks without them.  Now, finally, I can spend everyday with our little girl.  We are both so happy.  Ayla is at a great age now where she is interactive, fun and learning something new every day.  This summer is going to be one of the best summers of our lives.

Since Ayla was born, we have not ventured out much.  We went to Ajloun one day, but our camera didn't have an SD card so we couldn't take any pictures.  I was sad because it was a lovely day and a great spot.  We will just have to go back when we return to Jordan in August.

June has been a hard month.  We've had to say goodbye to colleagues who are more than just people we work with; they are our friends and family here on this crazy expatriate adventure.  I've had to say goodbye to four girl friends who have made such a positive impact on my life and my career as a teacher.  All month, I have been trying to process the sadness and heart break at the possibility that I might not ever see these ladies again.  Sure, we have face book, but last week, they were my every day.  They were a phone call, a short drive away, a smile in the morning and a hug during happy or sad times.  They shared my pregnancy and birth of Ayla and now they are gone.

Part of me is in denial. I've had to harden my heart to toughen  my skin in order to truly protect myelf from feeling utterly devastated.  I am holding back the tears as I type.

I have been busy this month learning how to make movies.  It has kept me from thinking about the sadness of friends leaving.  I have channelled the sadness into creativity.  Here they are.  I hope you can view them.



The things that keep me smiling are Ayla and Robert, and knowing that my life is here with them.  Ayla brings so much joy, life, light, laughter and happiness into my life.  I will focus all of my energy into my family this summer and heal from the broken heart of saying goodbye to some of the most amazing people I've ever met.  Two years is way too short with these kind of people.  But I am thankful that I met them and two great years with them.  

Watch this space for summer 2014!!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Expat Life

Working overseas has many challenges.  One of them is being away from family and having that connection with family on a daily basis.  But I have come to realise that the people you meet and socialise with overseas become your family.  Robert and I feel so fortunate that we work in a very loving, supportive community with many families who we love to spend our time and share our life with.  They are our family over here; we support and love them and that love and support is reciprocated ten fold.

On Good Friday, a bunch of families took a trip out to the Scandinavian Forest for an egg hunt and sunset BBQ.  We had so much fun!  The Scandinavian Forest is a very popular place on a Friday with families who like to picnic.  The sad thing is, those families leave their trash behind so the forest has become very dirty.  Efforts have been made to clear it and we noticed that there are now bins so people can throw their rubbish away as they leave.  Will it have an impact or will people still leave rubbish behind?  We shall see.



















Saturday, April 12, 2014

Trinitae Soap House

Down on Rainbow Street, there is a lovely soap house selling the brand, "Trinitae".  All the products are made locally and made out of natural ingredients. The products are fairly expensive.  One soap costs 6JD and the day cream costs 23JD.  I recently purchased the hand and foot cream which I am happy with.  There are many different kinds of scents.  My favourite one is verbana which smells a lot like lemongrass.



Kempinski - Aqaba

Robert and I love to splash out at a 5 star hotel every now and again.  This time, we went to the Kempinski in Aqaba.  We love the one at the Dead Sea.  This one has all the 5 star quality of a 5 star hotel; nice, clean, modern, spacious rooms with superior views of the Red Sea; a champagne breakfast with a vast choice of food; beautiful pools and space on the beach.  However, I was expecting a calm, quiet time and this is not the case at the Kempinski, Aqaba.  It is loud and kind of crass.  It is more like an entertainment hotel with banana boats, speed boats, jet skis, party boats and karaoke.  We considered staying for 2 nights, but we are glad it was only one because it was just too noisy and not as peaceful as the Kempinski at the Dead Sea.


The champagne breakfast was a real treat.




The view was fabulous and it was lovely to wake to hear the the lapping of the waves.

The rooms were spacious and clean.


There is even a bar pool.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wadi Musa again

This was my 2nd trip to Wadi Musa/Petra and I had a much better time here than last time.  I think that is because for the past year, I have been following a wonderful blog written by an Australian lady who lives there. http://middleeastmoments.wordpress.com/.  The place felt a bit more personal this time round.

 I also liked it more because we took the nicest pictures on top of our hotel roof.  

We stayed at a great place called the Sharah Mountains.  It was excellent value for money and the staff were so friendly.  We would stay here again for sure.

Whilst we were here, we decided to take a drive.  We drove through a village called Baida and then onto the entrance of Little Petra.  This is definitely worth a drive.  Plus, if you have your Petra ticket, you can gain entrance onto the site.  Had we known this, we would have kept all our tickets and bought the ergo to carry Ayla.  Alas, we only had 2 tickets so my dad and Robert had a quick look whilst Spencer and I stayed in the car to mind Ayla.

Spencer with Ayla


My dad with Ayla.
Our first family picture.

Petra Mountains

Kids we met on the road.  The girl wanted to put a hijab on me :)

Little Petra



Travelling around Jordan with a baby.

I always thought that travelling with a baby would be stressful and hard work.  Being on the road with Ayla has been a wonderful experience.  Yes, it has been hard work, but it has been incredibly enjoyable.  Our travelling life has changed dramatically.  We have had to be very organised and we are constantly thinking about Ayla and her needs.  We have both become very aware of what she needs and when she needs it.    For a 3 month old baby, her routine is solid so it is easy to know what comes next.

Travelling around Jordan with a baby has been lovely.  Jordanians love children so we have gotten lots of attention on this trip - well, Ayla has gotten the attention.  It was amazing to walk around Petra and people to comment on what a happy baby we have.

One thing that no one warned me about was how much touching Jordanian people like to do to babies.  I've had to tell several people not to touch the baby.  People would just come up and stick their dirty hands in her face!  There are no boundaries in this culture when it comes to kids.  One man even picked her up out of her car seat without asking us!  I quickly took a picture of him.  I had visions in my head of him running away with her so I took his picture in order to hunt him down if he did.  He was a kind man though with a daughter of his own.  He knew a lot about and adored babies.  Even so, I could tell that Ayla was not comfortable with him and for the first time ever, she cried when a stranger came near.   Normally, she is very friendly and smiley, but she was not happy that the man didn't ask if she wanted to be picked up.



He was sweet and gave her an orange.  He told me, 'if she is clever, she will put the orange to her mouth.'  Of course, she did just that.  He was also very happy to hear that I was breastfeeding!  I was very surprised at how knowledgeable he was about it.  Apparently, it is instructed in the Quran that mothers must breastfeed their baby for 2 years and that breast milk is best for baby.

This was taken from: 


The Yemen Times is running an article series right now that explores what Islamic Law has to say about things like breastfeeding. It makes for interesting reading whether you are a practicing Muslim or not.

From the article:
Islam prescribed breastfeeding and commanded children do so until they attain full power and strength, as breastfeeding greatly impacts children's growth and development. Allah gave the required time period for breastfeeding. He said, “The mothers shall give suckling to their children for two whole years.” (Al-Baqarah: 233) 
Note the two whole years comment. I thought this was interesting as it fits with the time periods of developing countries, but is considered "extended" by most within the western world. I can't say that the comment is surprising though as most of the "old" religions like Judism, Christianity and Islam teach positively about the act of nursing a child.

The article goes on to say:
If the mother is not divorced, she should breastfeed her child as a religious obligation, not because she is the natural mother. If she is divorced, then nursing is dealt with as nafaqah (financial support), as established in the Shari`ah. Nafaqah of the child is the father's responsibility. The father must give the mother compensation for her nursing. If she refuses to nurse, then it is incumbent upon the father to find and hire the child a wet-nurse. However, scholars make it mandatory upon the mother to nurse her child if the child refuses nursing by any other or if the father doesn't have sufficient funds to hire a wet-nurse.

The article goes on to discuss the rights of wet-nurses, the decision to wean and several other issues related to child-rearing. 

Here are Ayla and I having a picnic in Petra.


I felt very nervous breastfeeding here.  I was concerned about negative comments, but I received none and people left me to do what needed to be done.

Ayla's first holiday and it is to Petra - lucky girl.




Ayla being changed in a cave.


I love this picture of her.

Our experience travelling around Jordan with a baby has been good.  Albeit a little challenging at certain times, but most of the time it has been easy.  As long as you are organised, flexible and have little expectations, you will have fun and people will receive you well.  Just be prepared to stand your ground and to be honest with people.  If you are breastfeeding, it is best to bring a shield and to find somewhere quiet.  I only breastfed in public at The Treasury in Petra, but I tried to do so discreetly as possible.  I think if the place you are visiting has many tourists, it is ok, but a local place with local people might be different.

Ancient Islamic Ayla

In Aqaba, there is an ancient cite called, 'Ayla'.  We didn't know this when we decided to name our daughter, Ayla and we were pleasantly surprised when we found out that it was a place in Jordan.

Ayla was the capital city of the early Islamic period from AD 650 to the arrival of the Crusaders in 1116 AD.




Ayla in Ayla 


Uncle Spencer taking a selfie