Saturday, September 24, 2011


Educating my children in Egypt is probably the most complex issue I am dealing with at the moment.

There are a few different options, and nothing fits!  I can either send them to a public school, a private national school, a private international school or an Azhari school.

Public is a no-go; the schools are filthy, not air-conditioned, maybe 40 kids to one teacher all piled into a tiny classroom.
Private National seems to be slightly better, but only slightly.
International can vary GREATLY.  So can the price.  I can send my kid here and pay 8000LE (roughly $1200) or send my kid here and pay 180,000LE (that's $30,000!) for pre-kindergarten. Neither is exceptional (although the 2nd is affiliated with the US State Department).
Azhari is Islamic and more rigorous than public, but with the same style of campus.  The teaching methods are the same. It costs less than a private national school but isn't close to being free.

My oldest daughter is almost four.  She is defiant by nature and has never experienced formal schooling.  She is excited to attend school though, which hopefully will lead to a positive experience for her.

So then, what do we do?  We aren't wealthy so that limits us to a school of a lower standard.  This is SOOO gut wrenching for me, having grown up in the US, where even basic public education is far better than most private schools here.  But I was even blessed with a wonderful private college prep education, and I think it makes this all even harder.  Of course, my husband grew up poor (Egyptian village poor) and has a vastly different take on education in general.  He thinks that any school is better than none, and that she should be in school now (she's still 3 at this point).  Oh yeah, and the school year has already started.

So, as of now, I have an un-schooled pre-bwaba princess.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I have two three year olds!  My younger daughter turned three, and my older daughter's birthday isn't until the end of October, so for a month and a half they are the same age.

My newly turned three year old is starting to come out of her terrible twos (which were just HORRID) and I am ever so excited to see her smiling, playful personality showing up again!  She was just delightful until her little brother came along, and her jealously was honestly getting to point of concern.  But she's coming around - and I am THRILLED!!!

My oldest three babies were born in consecutive years, all in the fall.  Islamically, we don't celebrate birthdays, but I do take the munchkins to their choice of play.  The girls chose City Stars for the play area.  They also requested donuts.  I have never been a huge fan of donuts, but WOW, fresh donuts made to order are delicious!!!

It was a LONG day - the supermall is located in another area of Cairo, and it takes a good 45 minutes to travel from one area to the next.  Thrilled to make it home, but then its on to the monotony!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Strep Invaders!

The four kids, my husband and I all have strep.  This was, of course, self-diagnosed through a culture done via Cairo Lab and self medicated through one of the MANY pharmacies here.  It's fun to play doctor, but very sad that a trained doctor would have such limited knowledge about medicine that doctor-mom is able to serve as primary pediatrician here in the 3rd world.

So we suffer.  Four kids under four, all with strep and fevers, is too hard to even begin to describe.  Especially when I have a fever of my own...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Ago...

10 years ago, I was studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia.  A spectacular place - visit if you can...

I was far removed that day, and am today as well.  It was such a tragic piece of our nation's history.

As a Muslim, I will say that openly that what happened that day was pure evil.  There was no genuine doctrine in Islam that guided these men to these actions.  These men were angry, spiteful and hateful.  They surely have not found a place in Heaven, and are sitting in Hellfire.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Visiting the In-Laws and the Pop-In

So, I am leaving to visit my in-laws soon.  The truth is - I go almost everyday.  My husband DOES go everyday without fail.  I was planning to skip today but I cannot get through to my husband (who is already there of course) to tell him and I don't want him to worry about me.  So instead, I go, again.  I eat the same food (they don't like my American cooking) - either boiled chicken, duck or pigeon, some bean in tomato sauce, and rice.  Every stinkin' day.  It's common to visit family nearly everyday.  Of course, mine is in the US, so I only have my in-laws.  And truthfully, my mother-in-law is a saint, and I wouldn't have survived without the friendship of one of my four sisters-in-law.  But I don't always want to visit.  Plus, it's an expedition in the sand and trash of Cairo with a stroller to get there.  Maybe I am just longing for a car these days?

In Arab culture, it is preferred to "pop-in" on someone as opposed to calling and planning a visit.  So an unexpected knock at the door is often welcomed, and always accepted.  Then the sudden host must prepare a snack of some sort (fruit, cake, besbousa) and tea.  Always tea. The pop-in also comes after surgery or childbirth - usually within the first 24 hours.  It's SUCH a culture shock for my American mind.  I have always been taught to leave some space for people, especially during times of healing and sickness.  It's one thing to make a phone call or plan a 15 minute visit, but to just arrive an hour after a woman has given birth and then stay for 3-4 hours, that just never makes sense to me.  But, I've been on the receiving end of that one.  We'll save the Egyptian birth experience for another day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Almost Died Today

Okay, so I exaggerate, but only slightly.

We were coming home from taking the kids to eat at Carino's (yep - that one) on a boat on the Nile.
This one:

So, we were coming home on the Corniche Al-Nil, and as typical Egyptian taxi drivers go, ours decided to make a stop on the way for a few groceries.

As we were waiting, we hear a gunshot, followed by a RUSH of people into the street.  In this area (Massara), the Corniche whittles down to one lane and it was just completely filled.  Our taxi was in the front of the mess, so we watched as men threw cinder blocks at one another and cars that attempted to drive through were hit.  It had lasted for at least ten minutes when Mr. Taxi decides it's time to drive through, so away we go into the fury of bricks and blocks.  My husband and I throw ourselves over our children, and fortunately we miss any projectiles that are thrown at our way.  We make it the rest of the way without incident (alhamdulilah!) and so I can tell our tale.

Apparently Massara isn't the best area of Cairo, which is good to know since one of the many schools we've been considering is located there.  It also the area where Hosni and his kids are currently staying (I mean prison, of course).

So now it's bedtime, and I still have two toddlers up and naughty!