September 2010


This is one of my favorite parts of our yard — it’s an open-sided structure with a roof of woven, waterproof material.  There’s a similar structure over the front part of the patio where we park the car, but this one is in the corner of our yard.  At this time of year, it’s shady and cool under there until about 11:30 in the morning, and sitting in it I can see our whole L-shaped yard and patio area.  This morning I took both of the kids out there right after breakfast.  Nathaniel lay on a towel kicking his legs while Stephen played with his trucks and we read books.  Stephen and I came back out during Nathaniel’s morning nap and I taught him how to play a very basic version of dominoes.

I’m amazed at how much of a difference it makes in Stephen’s temperament and in the tone of our day for us to have some time outside early on!  In the afternoon Stephen is much more content to play with his toys indoors if he has had some time outside, even if we’re doing the same thing outdoors that we would have done in the living room.  I really want to get some outdoor floor cushions of some sort so we can make the area a more comfortable place to sit, as I plan to spend a lot of time out there!

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We’ve been in Amman for almost two weeks now, so we’re past the worst of the jet lag (although not totally out of the woods yet) and starting to get a little bit better idea of what living here will look like.  Rather than waiting until I have the time to write a comprehensive “here’s what’s happened in our lives in the past several months” kind of a post, I figured I would jot down a few of my thoughts about this place in which we’ll be spending the next three years of our lives.

Our apartment rocks.  Seriously.  We have a ground floor, 4-bedroom apartment with a huge living/dining room, separate sitting room, and best of all, OUTSIDE SPACE.  We have a tile patio that runs the length of the apartment, and a small grass yard in the back.  It certainly isn’t one of those huge suburban yards with tons of open grassy space, but its outdoor space that’s ours, and that I don’t have to go down seven stories to get to.  I love it.  Another great thing about this place?  The internal walls are all concrete.  While that makes hanging pictures a little tricky, it means that having the boys in rooms right next to each other is no problem.

Amman is a real, cosmopolitan, international city.  You can get pretty much anything here.  Not that I NEED to have American-brand everything, but believe me it’s nice to have the option.  It’s more than the availability of products, though.  There’s an awesome Children’s Museum here, for instance.  The streets are well-marked (although this is apparently new).  Practically everything is in Arabic and English.  People don’t stare at us as though we have three heads when they hear us speaking English in public.  There are more than two Protestant churches to choose from.  The list goes on.

One thing I do miss about Ankara is the produce markets.  Our grocery bills for the first two weeks have been downright painful.  Part of that is just the expense inherent in starting up a pantry from scratch, but food is also a lot more expensive here.  The basic rule of thumb is that the price tag is the same as it would be in America, but with the exchange rate you’re paying almost 150% of the back-home price.  This is particularly hard to get used to after two years of doing most of our grocery shopping at the farmers’ market near our house where everything was super cheap and amazingly fresh or at a military commissary, where everything was subsidized.  Of course, cooking is one of our primary forms of entertainment, so we’ll just have to find a way to make it work.

Jet lag in a toddler is really miserable.  We’ve been here 12 nights, and of those there have been two in which Stephen wasn’t up and wandering the halls in the middle of the night.  On the really bad nights, it took over 3 hours to get him to go back to sleep, and he screamed, thrashed, and cried the whole time.  On the good nights, we were able to take him to the potty (he still wears diapers at night but “I have to go to the toilet” is his favorite excuse for being out of bed) and get him back to sleep without much fuss.  To be fair to Stephen, he’s dealt with a LOT of change in the past few months, what with getting a new sibling, seeing all our stuff get packed up, hopping from place to place for two months, and then travelling halfway around the world to a new home that doesn’t feel much like home yet.  Any of those things are enough to cause some sleep disturbances in one as young as he is, but that doesn’t make it any more fun at 4am.

In general, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.  Once our households goods get here and we get unpacked, I think life here is going to be very comfortable and for the most part really fun.  Our belongings are currently here in Amman, so once the Turkish moving company finally makes the promised payment to the Jordanian company, we will be able to set up our home.