Posts in Mi Familia

One fine day

Jara - Amman's new flea marketI kicked off my day this morning with a trip to Jara, more commonly known as Amman’s flea market. I’d heard and read about this buzzing street market first on Jordan Planet via a number of wonderful posts by Jordanian bloggers who’d written extensively about Jara, putting up myriads of beautiful pictures. I was not disappointed when I visited it for the first time either. The market was lively and filled primarily with Jordanian handicrafts, jewelry and other local products.

I really enjoyed the open festive vibe in the place, something that was really missing during the heyday of my Ammanite existence since such public events were less mainstream back then. The location of the market in Jabal Amman proves ideal, as this authentic old neighborhood gives the place a unique and original flavor that is missing in the majority of areas in West Amman. The only downside to that place is that it occupies a fairly small space. It could definitely be stretched out a bit. But then again it is still new and seems open for further expansion.

I left Jara with a pair of kick-ass silver camel earrings. They are just so cool. I cannot wait to wander about in the streets of DC with two camels dangling from my ears.

Madaba camelsFrom there I, along with the rest of La Familia, headed south into the suburbs of Madaba to my aunt’s farm for some lunch. The main dish was mansaf, naturally. This all-Jordanian delicacy was followed by knafeh, then some Turkish coffee and mint tea — items that make life worth living. The wonderful family atmosphere and divine food made for a perfect day.

On the way back we got to see the King’s Academy, which is Jordan’s first boarding school. I’d blogged about it some months ago, so it was fascinating to see the mammoth structure up close and personal. It was quite an impressive structure with a number of adjoining buildings all topped with a rich, red tile.

One highlight of our return trip to Amman was stopping by an area farm primarily to marvel at a female camel and her baby. According to the farm’s owner, the camels were brought to Madaba from the "eastern region" primarily for their milk. The owner told us that camel’s milk is very healthy and capable of curing serious illnesses … although it is an acquired taste. With that thought in mind and our stomachs filled with mansaf we made our way back to Amman. What a fine day!

A Seattle wedding

John and Jenny pose in the garden at their wedding

Our brief visit to Seattle for a family wedding was a blast. The wedding was marvelous in every sense of the word. And with regards to the city of Seattle, it is simply a stunning place! The weather was on our side most of the time, making our sightseeing tours extremely enjoyable.

The best thing about the trip was getting a chance to meet some more of the husband’s family for the first time. Everyone I met was thrilled about the news of Jill’s release. Even the bride and the groom, John and Jenny, made a point to tell me — on their wedding day — how happy they were that Jill’s ordeal finally ended.

Last weekend I had many a reason to celebrate. Life just can’t get any better.

Merry Christmas from the Nation’s capitol

The National Tree
We are off to Virginia tomorrow morning to celebrate Christmas with various assembled family members. I’m really looking forward to the festive season, as Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I have to admit, though, I’ve never felt as homesick as I’m feeling now. Last year, we had such a wonderful Christmas with our family back in Jordan.

One of the many useful results of this, at times, time–consuming blogging business is that I can go back in time and re-read entries about my feelings and thoughts during a certain period of time. Looking back at last year’s Christmas, I remember how blissful it was. This Christmas photo album is only a snapshot of the wonderful time we had.

All our family members on this side of the world have been working hard to make this Christmas a special one. From a Christmas Eve dinner to singing Christmas carols at church and a planned Christmas day lunch, things are looking as wonderful as possible.

Jeff and the National Tree
The picture above is of the National Tree with assorted trains around it behind the fence. The tree is at the Ellipse, the public space in front of the White House in Washington DC, between it and the Washington Monument. If you click the picture, it’ll enlarge and you can get a glimpse of the White House in the background. I really enjoyed being there last Sunday, experiencing a fun, festive atmosphere. Besides the tree and wonderful decorations, Christmas carols were played at a loud enough volume for everyone to enjoy.

The best thing about the day was that the repulsive, commercial part of Christmas that I have seen so extensively here was missing. It was purely a spiritual celebration, as music played and happy families enjoyed the season. Seeing the Nativity scene at the Ellipse also put a huge smile on my face, as it served as a crystal clear reminder of what Christmas is all about: The birth of Jesus Christ. It was never about maxing out credit cards by getting the "best deals." Merry Christmas everyone and happy holidays!!

A ‘second wedding’

Hubby friends
Last weekend, the amazing Mom T arranged a "welcome-to-the US" reception for us at their wonderful home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The idea behind the event was for friends of the ‘senior’ Tynes’ to greet the husband and his "not so new" wife, which happens to be yours truly.

The event turned out beautifully, as I was able to meet and greet a huge number of people that were extremely friendly, welcoming and quite generous. That’s right. Many of those attending the reception brought wonderful gifts with them, making this ‘reception’ feel like a second wedding.

I also got a chance to finally meet some of the husband’s life-long friends whom I’d heard so much about. It was a real pleasure to hear some anecdotes of the husband’s younger days as told with a wink and a nod by Jeff’s childhood’s compatriots.The hostess

Even two of my Jordanian friends who live in the DC Metro area made it to the reception, something that meant a great deal to me since they drove over two hours just to be part of the festivity.

Mom T had worked for nearly a month on the reception and it showed, turning out truly super-fantastic. From wonderful invitations, to a tremendous assortment of food and drinks and, of course, lovely decorations, the event was just perfect. It was really special to feel like a bride one more time! Thanks Mom T and thanks for everyone who helped make the reception a great success, and that include Dad T and Aunt G.

Quick thoughts about my first Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving DayMy primary impression from my first Thanksgiving experience is that this particular festivity could have been an Arab celebration. I mean, it is really all about eating and meeting family. How more Arab can it get? I think Thanksgiving is my favorite of the holidays thus far, as it hits so close to home with its similarity to the culture in which I was born and raised.

We had a great time with the husband’s family and I got the rewarding experience of meeting some family members for the very first time. The food was very good and extremely filling. I also felt really proud to be able to contribute to the meal by making one of my “very easy” casseroles.

Then came Black Friday. Experiencing it for the first time was also an adventure worthy of documentation. The husband tried to talk me into waking up at 5:00 am to partake in one of those early bird – door buster deals but I vociferously refused. No amount of purchasing power in the world would tear me from the warmth of our bed at the crack of dawn, particularly to spend money on things I’m not sure I really wanted. Oh, and it was -10˚ Celsius.

Eventually, we both decided to join in on the latter part of Black Friday, after 12:00pm. And yes, sadly enough, I succumbed to the capitalist binge and ended up buying a number of items that I needed but, in truth, could have lived without! Ah, they got me! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

My uncle

My uncle passed away yesterday from liver failure. It was a sad day. May his good soul rest in peace. He will be missed.