March 31, 2013

Library Time

So there was this library opened years ago here. it was called Susan Mubarak Library. Anyway, after a while it was run down and things were looking bad. It was closed for a while and now it re-opened and it's really nice! I was very pleasantly surprised to see all the activities going on there. The kids had fun and want to go every week.

This cracked me up, Susan's old photo thrown in the back with some other junk.

I'm really glad there's a library here now and it's a nice place to go and feel like we're doing something productive instead of just hanging out doing nothing much. 

March 24, 2013

Keep It In The Closet

It's been a while since I moved and I thought I would show you guys my very favorite part of my apartment. My closet. Now, I've  never had a walk in closet, and it isn't huge or anything but it's seriously a rare thing in your average apartment in Egypt. Most people have wardrobes. A wooden furniture thing that holds your clothes. So, I've organized it just how I like it and it's very loved.

So here's the general overview. We had a carpenter build these units for storage in here. Up top, we keep suitcases, blankets, and other rarely used things, out of the way. The top shelf holds sweaters, a  few other tops I don't hang, my nail stuff box and various make up bags. The bottom shelf is where I keep my handbags. Whatever bag I'm using currently hangs on the door, which is fine because it's usually open anyway. Unless I'm hiding from the kids on a phone call. The drawers hold pj's and unmentionables. Did I just mention them?

I have all my clothes hanging on the left side. I thought these two little pictures fit well here.

This is how I'm storing my hijabs now. It works, it seems like the best option right now.
On the right side shelf, I have a bunch of random things in boxes. I also keep sheets here in the popular folding method known as, roll it up in a ball and be done with it. Gym clothes live beside them.
This here is mug holder I'm using for rings and bangles. I actually bought it for mugs but found it topples over if the mugs aren't balanced just so. It works beautifully for this though.

On the side of the shelf that faces out, I hung all these accessories so they'd be easy to see and choose from.  I like to think it looks cool too.

I just keep my shoes on the floor along with my gym bag. You can see where one lovely child spilled black nail polish on my wall and shoes. She knows who she is.

There you go. To be honest, it's not always this neat. I go through cycles where I'll put stuff anywhere when I'm looking for something to wear, then I'll clean it all up, stand back and admire it again,

March 17, 2013

Sexual Harrassment In Egypt

Sexual harassment is not a new thing in Egypt. It's just gained more media coverage as of late. If you've ever been here, you KNOW what it's like.I remember being as young as 10 years old, here on summer vacation and getting unwanted attention from a grown man. I've touched on the subject a couple of times before on a personal level. After watching Bassem Youseff's latest episode of El Bernameg which talked about this issue, I felt the need to write about it.

It's a huge problem and it will not be solved until people here change their mindset. It's the norm. It's often a pastime for boys and men. People look the other way. Even women will blame the victim.  What was she doing there? Why was she alone? What was she wearing? Enough! The blame lies fully and solely on the aggressor! Why can't a woman walk to the store or get on a bus without being ogled, cat called or molested? Why can't a woman go to Tahrir to protest her government without being gang raped? It's absolutely sickening.  Instead of asking why a girl did or didn't do anything, why not ask why the perpetrator can't control himself? Why is it ok? Why don't people speak up and get in the guys face?  Boys and men need to step up and begin to tell their peers that it's not cool. If someone were to do the same to their sister or mother, they'd have a fit.

A bold poster for a meeting on sexual harassment.

I recently read a story that might shed light on what it feels like for women to get harassed. Once a group of people were talking and some guy mentioned how a gay male mad a pass at him, and how he felt scared and disgusted. Other guys chimed in saying how unsettling that would be. A girl told them, "You see? You were afraid because for the first time in your life you found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force on you." Light bulb.  Sadly women have  had to get used to it since a young age and it's just part of every day life.

Translation: Don't harass me. The street is for you and for me.

Guys actually think they are paying women a compliment when they make a comment on their appearance. Some think women want that kind of attention just because they want to look nice and take care of their appearance. Again, victim blaming. If men, and I use that term loosely, want to say that a girl was asking for it by how she is dressed, what does that say about them? They are so weak they can't control their impulses? Like an animal? So if you're going to give me the, hijab has it's wisdom shpeal, save it. Women in hijab and niqab are harassed and raped as well.

The good news is, there are people taking action. They really need to grow in numbers for changes to take effect. Bassem Youseff devoting most of an episode to the topic is a big step in my opinion. Lots of young people watch him and look up to him. There's an initiative called Harassmap. Their mission is to "end the social acceptance of  sexual harassment." They accept reports of harassment and offer help to those who are harassed or assaulted. They believe in ending excuses people give harassers and promote standing up against them. Tahir Body Guard are men and women also taking action to keep Tahrir safe for everyone.

Loosely translated, right to left, "I wish you would respect me, so I can respect you",  I wish I could ride a bike without anyone bothering me", Sexual Harassment reduces the boy's worth before the girl's.

A small thing we can do anywhere there is harassment, is to get involved. If you see someone harassing a girl or woman, you can  ask them if they are ok, address the harasser and shame him. Until the blame is squarely on the harasser, then and only then will it become really taboo and looked at as the disgusting behavior it truly is. It needs to become such an uncool thing to do.

Our country has enough problems. This is something we can really change. It's breaking our daughters' spirits, it's raising our sons in a world where this is seen as ok. It's a massive problem for tourism as well. If you are reading this from Egypt, next time you are a victim or see someone being harassed, don't look the other way. Stand up for yourself and for your sister.  Every time.

March 12, 2013

How Our Dog Makes a Difference in Our Family

This post is underwritten by our partner Dog Fence DIY, the most affordable resource for wireless dog fencing. 

We have had Rocky now for about a month and a half. Already, in that short amount of time, we have learned what an absolute joy it is to have a dog in our lives. Dogs are just amazing and are arguably the best kind of pet. Having a dog has really had a positive effect on our family.

What they they say about dogs is true. They really are man's best friend. Rocky is still a puppy and can sometimes be a lot of work but he's so great, we hardly mind at all. I truly believe having a dog makes us happier people.  I  always feel better after having some quality time, hanging out with Rocky for a while. You can always count on your dog to be there when you're sad or feeling frustrated. Everyone needs time to decompress and we know that studies show that having pets reduces stress. Just petting a dog reduces your blood pressure.

A dog is a great companion and actually can be quite entertaining. It's also fun to teach him tricks. Just yesterday, he played fetch for the first time, it was so exciting for us all, and we gave him lots of praise for it. He has even starting barking at new people who come over! It's so cute, he's already trying to be a good guard dog.  He's funny. He is always doing something that makes us laugh.  He is extremely loving as well.  You can actually feel his love for you. When he cuddles up in my lap, (after being  hyper for a bit), when he runs towards me, tail wagging like crazy when I get home. You know he loves you unconditionally! That's a great feeling. Dogs don't care if you are rich or cool or funny or smart. They just love you because you love them.

My kids are really happy to have Rocky as a part of our family. They have expressed how much they love coming home and playing outside with him for a while after school. I think it's great for them. It encourages them to play outside more and teaches compassion and responsibility. They help me with feeding and bathing Rocky as well. I think it's a good lesson to learn to take care of another being and have empathy and kindness towards them.

Having a dog in your family is a life long commitment, but if you have the space in your heart and your home for a dog, It's a really rewarding experience that you shouldn't miss out on.

March 7, 2013

Party Pics

Well, no photos of the actual party, you understand but here are a few photos beforehand.

Now I'm not one to toot my own horn but I'm proud of the decorations. I made most of them. It's not easy finding nice, color coordinated decorations and party supplies here. There's no Party City in Hurghada. I used a lot of crepe paper, and doilies. I could not for the life of me find tissue paper for the pom poms but it turned out ok in the end. I just baked cookies and made the veggie/dip platter and everyone brought a dish. There was a lot of food because pretty much everyone showed up. We had a really nice time :)

Thanks to all of you who gave me ideas, links, and inspiration, it really helped a lot!