Baby in the City: Our New Life in Arlington, Virginia

We moved to Arlington, Virginia on July 15th. This could be temporary, a three month visit to the D.C. area, or we could stay longer. We are here because Prince Charming is doing some consulting for a nonprofit in this area, and of course, because we have wanderlust.

Exploring a new city with a baby (now 8 months old) is a whole new world, a world troubled by fear of poop seeping out of a diaper and onto the varnished oak table of a trendy brunch restaurant. And other concerns, like is it okay if my son licks the glass window of the metro train, and is it better to deal with the sweat and back strain involved in baby wearing or the hassle of maneuvering a stroller into and out of elevators, metros, and through the narrow hallways of a trendy brunch restaurant.

We embraced wanderlust, we embraced packing lust, and now we are embracing the result of all that lust, which is a baby. Primary upside: he's adorable.

Deeply adorable. The world -- when I can sweep away the sheer weight of responsibility, thoughts of the strongly worded letters I may write to all installers and maintainers of baby-changing stations in bathrooms, and concerns about poop, germs, and poop, and poop -- is a different place when I am out with Bump.

When we are outside (and inside, and pretty much all the time except when he is extremely hungry or sleepy), Bump acts as a representative of the office of spreading glorious happiness. I watch the faces of people approaching us on the street, the stressed students, the tired tourists, the careworn business people. Those faces transform when they get a glimpse of Bump's slow sunrise smile. They slow down. They smile. Their shoulders relax just a little bit. They sigh. They say things like,

"He smiles from his heart."

"He adorable. He is like, a model baby. He is the model adorable baby."

"Does he always smile like that?"

"Is he always like this?"

Usually I say, "yes, pretty much" in response to the last two questions, but after giving it some thought, I realize that people are hoping they are special, that Bump is smiling at them, really seeing them, seeing their uniqueness and giving them a smiles that recognizes the best in them. And he is. So I may begin to answer differently, perhaps.

Perhaps sometimes I will say, "No, he's not always like this. It's you. You've got a special soul and he recognizes that and wants to give you the gift of his smile as a way to say thank you for sharing that which is good in you with the world."

Or, maybe I'll keep letting Bump's sweet smile do the talking.

Lessons With Mohammad

Cool Shey Tamaam

I've been taking Arabic lessons with this fabulous teacher named Mohammad:
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Thanks to his patient instruction, good humor, and abundant provision of coffee and mint tea (shai bee nana), I'm on my way to polyglot-dom. Polyglottony, perhaps.The arabic alphabet is, thankfully, just about the same number of characters as in English.

My  favorite letter is "sha." It looks like this: ش I think it looks like a cup of  شاي "shai" (tea) that someone is sprinkling some sugar into. When it's connected to another letter, it loses the big scoop on it's left, as you can see in the word "shai." Look at that word "shai." It has three letters. "sha" and two vowels "ah" (looks like a 1) and "ai or ee." (ي )My favorite words and phrases so far are: (Arabic is written right to left)

My husband = Zowji = زوجي  No problem  = Mish Moshkilay مش مشكيلة Tea with mint with sugar = Shai bee nana bee sukar = شاي بي نانا بي سكر Everything is perfect = Cool shey tamaam = كل شي تمام 

I'm still learning; I may have misspelled some of the words in Arabic.

I feel like I'm REALLY close to being able to read Arabic. I'm able to sound out many words on street signs if I give myself plenty of time. Knowing what the words mean is a whole different ballgame. But I have a fun feeling of a whole new world opening up. It's like being five and learning to read all over again.