Bye bye Beirut!

After three tumultous years it’s time to say goodbye to Beirut. We’ve seen a mini civil war, car bombs, crazy traffic, the world’s biggest hummus, and lots of good times in between.  We’re hitting the skies tonight, with a detour in Perth before finally returning to Casa Sherlex in Canberra.

Wish us luck for the transition home.  It’s going to be a real shock!

Birthday party number four

Today was Mitchell’s fourth birthday party.  Although his actual birthday isn’t until next Friday, since he’s leaving for Australia that weekend we decided to hold the party early. The theme, in case you can’t guess, was pirates (and princesses, but there weren’t too many of the latter.  Everyone enjoys talk like a pirate day too much).

Big bed!

With less than two weeks until a certain person’s fourth birthday, we thought it was time for the little man to make the transition into his own big bed. Although as we discovered once it was all assembled, full singles in Lebanon are longer than those in Australia, so none of our linen fit!

He’s loving the new bed, and thus far we haven’t had any falling-out dramas. But still, it’s kind of sad – all of a sudden our little guy’s not so little now…

The introduction of swearing – sort of

It was bound to happen, and at least for the time being it’s done in jest. Yep, Mitchell and his school chums have learnt that it can be fun to say rude words.

Their favourite phrase is “kaka tastoos”, which pretty much translates as “pooey bum” in Arabic. This of course is being said deliberately, so not like a toddler who merely echoes what a parent might say when confronted by a nappy blow-out for example. Mitchell gets great delight running up to an adult, shouting “kaka tastoos” and then running off giggling hysterically.

We’re naturally torn in terms of how to respond. To ignore or to chastise?

At least that’s all he’s saying for now. There’s plenty worse things that you can say in Arabic which might result in a blood feud or worse. I mean, all he’s got to do is add “oomak” to the end and then it’s game on. (“kaka tastoos oomak” would translate as “your mother’s pooey bum”. Never a good idea to insult an Arab’s mother if you want to walk away in one piece…)

Hooray for Mitchie the shark

We took Mitchell to the pool this morning for a bit of a paddle. As an Aussie who’s a pretty good swimmer, I feel it’s my duty to ensure Mitchie learns to swim at a young age. Water safety is vital, and swimming is so much a part of the Australian way of life that even if we’re in Lebanon I think he should be a bit of a water baby.

Unfortunately however I’ve yet to come across a decent swimming instructor here, so have been teaching him myself as a stop-gap measure (with the assistance of some online teach-the-teacher videos). We go to the pool occasionally, but not as often as I’d like so Mitchell is perhaps not quite as confident in the water as some Aussie kids his age.

Last time we went for a swim he had no dramas putting his head under water without sucking in a lung-full of chlorine, and didn’t cling to me for dear life. Developing the confidence to put his mouth under water has been a bit of a key stage I think.

Today however it was like the little guy was channeling Ian Thorpe. He initially clung to daddy as we did a few laps and practiced kicking at the pool’s edge. Then we popped his swimming vest on and had another go. He’s generally not been that fond of the vest, as it’s getting a bit tight on his fat tummy. But we made him wear it and what a difference it made to his confidence.

With the vest giving him a bit of extra bouyancy he was happy to hang on to a kickboard and kick away without any support from me. (There was another kid in the pool and Mitchell was trying to run him down with the board…). He then tried letting go of the kickboard, and found that with some vigorous kicking and a bit of a dog paddle he could not only tread water, but was able to swim about the pool! Naturally I hovered next to him throughout. We were so stoked that Mitchie’s made this step, and he was sure loving it!

I’m very mindful that he doesn’t get a false sense of confidence near water, and will make sure he also spends time in the water without the vest. One of the best features of this vest is that you can gradually remove the foam inserts so that it becomes progressively less bouyant. Hopefully I’ll be able to get him treading water on his own in no time.

Sadly though there’s no photos – like most pools this one forbids photography, so you’ll have to accept my prose instead!

First arithmetic

On Thursday I was telling Mitchell that Charmaine and Craig were going to arrive in “one sleep”.

He was of course very excited, and replied “Charmaine will sleep in Nanna’s bed (what he calls the bed in the study).  Craid will sleep in Nanna’s bed.  So two sleeps!”

How’s that for early arithmetic??