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Dengikani Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "dengikani" journal:

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July 3rd, 2007
07:45 pm

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New Blog
http://frechemaeuse.blogspot.com/

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December 22nd, 2005
12:40 am

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old friends
I decided that it's annoying for me to read my own journal entries when I don't use any punctuation, so I'm going to start using proper capitalization and periods!

I also just ran up and brushed my teeth, turned off all the lights and the Christmas tree so that in case Ka wakes up, I will simply have to shut down the computer and whisk her into our bed to retire for the night. It's already almost 1:00!!

This is a wonderful time of year anyway, but one of the cozy things about living where you grew up, especially if it's a big city, is that old friends pass through and stay a while and so you get to see them with a minimum of effort, and usually in waves corresponding to the holidays. Just this week I've gotten to spend time with 3 dear friends, from 3rd grade, Greenpeace days, and college/Austria, and gotten to meet their husband, niece, and 14-month-old son, respectively. It's so grounding and invigorating to spend time with people you know so well, and to whom you don't have to start at the very beginning and explain everything. That's probably why it's so great for P to be around his long-lost friend he found by accident in this country--he found out who he was after talking to him occasionally on the phone for business for over a year! They started chatting one day and realized they were high school friends from Slemani. We met to go camping together on Cape Cod a few months later (and he just spent Thanksgiving with us), and I'd rarely seen P so relaxed and having so much fun. He was also pretty obnoxious, but in a nice way :)

Being with old friends also makes me wonder what my new friends around here--mostly moms and dads--used to be like. I still feel close to and identify with my college years self, for example, but the wonderful people I've met more recently don't, for example, laugh openly about our cockroaches, joke about ex-boyfriends, give me knowing looks about mushrooms, go on for hours about their children's births without lots of interrogation, ask me "oh, you wear a cross now?" (long story...), or any of the other deliciously direct and candid and unselfconscious moments I've been basking in for the last week or so. Is it me or do people get overly diplomatic and cautious as they get older?

Tomorrow is Ko's last day of school before Winter Break, and I'm SO much looking forward to spending time with him, and seeing if his demeanor changes any from 10 days without school. More on that soon!
:)

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December 16th, 2005
01:38 pm

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back again
well, p gave me a laptop (!) for my birthday, so maybe i'll start posting again regularly.

since i don't know where else to start, and don't have much time now cause ka's awake, i'll just start with:

ka uses a pronoun (ihm), lots of verbs (haengen, laufen, reden, schreiben, haben...), plural appropriately for some words (blaetter, hunde...), prepositions (neben, eng fuer ko, hinter, unter, bei der arbeit...), and tries to overgeneralize rules for past tense for some verbs (weg..nommen, gerennen for gerannt...), and indefinite pronouns for nouns sometimes (eine), but i'm not sure why she sometimes does and sometimes doesn't. she says 4-syllable words and 3-4-word sentences (though usually fewer words at a time), and her spoken vocabulary is way over 200 (she's 20 months old).

i don't know if this is a lot for her age or if the lists i find online are just geared towards the lowest common denominator, but it usually stuns me. then again, the other kids her age we're around may be doing the same thing, just not when i'm around, just like she doesn't always talk a lot in every situation. i haven't asked, "so, does your child use the past tense?" maybe i should.

it's a good thing not many people read this, so i can have a nice forum to blatantly voice my fascination with this :)

now i have to go change her diaper though :) (though she has peed in the toilet 3 times now, of her own volition, that is, i didn't force her to sit there till she peed, she asked to go and then did it).

this is what my father would call "self indulgent"

more soon!

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October 11th, 2005
11:07 am

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wish i'd read this 5 years ago!
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/11/opinion/11small.html?emc=eta1

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October 6th, 2005
10:21 am

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secret libraries, da und ja
i had a very magical dream the other night. there's a genre of dream i have, which is that i'm back in school, college that is, and every time the main thing is that i'm new there and am absolutely overwhelmed and in awe of the architecture, usually because everything is built and connected in such interesting ways, with nooks, crannies, creative combinations of living and study spaces with cafes and hallways and bridges connecting everything--basically the kind of place you just want to explore and live in for a while. well, i had that kind of dream, and this time, i ended up in the library. except that at the edges of the library, kind of like where the wild things are, the walls gave way to trees, and craggy, wooded hills, and i ended up in a foggy patch of woods at dusk, in the far reaches of the library that hardly anyone ever found, and the rows got shorter, or at least you could see less of them as the fog got thicker and the woods denser, and the crunch of pine needles accompanied the smell of old books, and i could kind of see a few people down in the rest of the library below, but i had the feeling they didn't know about this section, and that the library was about to close, as the light was fading fast, and these were no ordinary books but contained words that described things that are actually indescribable, secrets of language and music and religion and so of course i didn't actually get to read them, but just being there was enough, and a few other people were there, i didn't get the feeling that all of them were really in the woods with me, but one was, in the fog, and i briefly held his hand without looking at him, and felt the same mystery and smiled, not at him but with wide open eyes

yesterday at our german playgroup, my neighbor, whom i always take along, told me she met her husband at the library of congress while looking for music by the same composer. on the same day, he invited her into a room there (apparently they have a room with a piano) and played a piece for her on the piano. they soon were engaged. isn't that the most romantic story ever? my romance, on the other hand, is based on falling in love with someone with whom i have absolutely nothing in common! at least nothing as tangible as that. of course we have things in common: our life, but we've built and found common ground where there was none that was obvious, something i've always enjoyed doing, though i do find the former story extremely romantic.

you always read that the age 18 months is some sort of milestone, and, unless it's possible to project a self-fulfilling prophecy onto a toddler, it certainly is true in ka's case. it's so exciting: over the weekend, she started answering first "da" ("wo ist der tiger?" DA!) instead of just pointing and/or repeating the word, and then "ja" for yes. she uses them constantly now. it's like having a real mini-conversation! she doesn't say ja if she doesn't want something, so it really means ja. she also has said about 15 new words over the past 2 days, and is having a repeating fest too. she answers "da" when i ask where something is, and "eweta" when p asks where something is in kurdish! she still can't (and doesn't try to) say anything with an "s" or "sh" sound. she also just started putting words together "dora ball", "mouse cookie" (for the stuffed animal from the book "if you give a mouse a cookie"), "daye gu" (ask later), and several others. not possessives though, cause she'd have to use an "s" and she doesn't just do it and leave out the sound! today for some reason she said "diaper" in english. it was hilarious. she seems to not say anything until she already knows she can say it perfectly, and then she suddenly blurts it out and laughs. FUN!!!

ok, now i have to ooh and ah over ko too :)
he has always loved books. we read all the time, he begs me to read to him, we read (too many) books at night, and he looks at books by himself. he also can sound out short words, especially given some context, and is getting better at it by the minute, and has known his letters for a long time, rhyming, first letters, etc. However, when it comes to writing, you'd think the crayon sucked any enthusiasm out through his fingers and wilted his hand muscles too. He has never colored in a picture or made a drawing of his own volition. Despite the fact that we've had drawing instruments, paper, coloring books, one of those dry-erase stands, paint, chalk, and as he entered preschool age, dry-erase abc books, glittery pens, anything i could find that i thought might suddenly catch his interest, writing on hugs pieces of paper, you name it--he always seemed utterly bored with trying to write letters. when other kids in preschool had long been writing their own names, it took all the concentration, dedication, and energy i had to get him to write his name (barely decipherable) ONCE on his teacher's valentine. he would barely even push hard enough to make a mark on the paper, his hand would literally get limp, and he would say, "this makes me so TIIIIIRED!" don't get me wrong--i haven't been overly pushy (at least i don't think so) about writing, but have always tried in ways i thought were fun, and in small doses, to start him on the road to writing.

in kindergarten, the kids all sign in upon arriving at their classroom. i knew this, and so i asked ko when he came home during the first few days whether he had tried to write his name. he said, "no, i just went 'SCRIBBLE SCRIBBLE!!'" hmmm. ok. we role-played coming to school and writing his name. maybe that helped a little.

i forgot to mention that he does "strange" things when he does write. he has recognized an X forever. this is not a problem for him or something new. it also doesn't seem like that hard of a letter to write. so when he got into pirates, i thought, hmmm... have him make an X for where the treasure is buried. do you know what he did? he thought and thought, and finally drew a bunch of lines out, all starting from the same center point! when he writes a T he draws one vertical line, and then, starting from the top, makes a line to the left and a line to the right. does all of this mean anything about the way he sees the world and is? i don't know, but it's very interesting and i'd like to know what it does mean. he's very into doing 3-D stuff and building things.

anyway, i was going to say something good (not that any of this is "bad"!), and here it is: 2 days ago he didn't want to eat dinner. he got up from the table and demanded a paper and pen. considering what he was demanding, i gave him what he wanted. he commenced to write the word "NO" and then a bunch of lines. he said the lines were noodles, and he didn't want noodles. then he asked me how to spell food. i said, "you tell me." he did, and then wrote, "NO FOOD"! (then he ate his dinner) a few weeks ago the idea that he would, of his own intiative, demand pen and paper and use them to tell me something would have been unthinkable. since then he's written me lots of other notes. it's great!

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September 29th, 2005
09:41 am

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windy
i LOVE windy days like today.

this morning after dropping ko off at kindergarten (he's still totally fine, except that he's been telling his teacher he didn't have his homework because he wanted me to have it--it's "something with a pattern": a striped shirt of mine, and "something that grows under the ground and you can eat it": a piece of ginger root; they promised him he could take them back home...), his friend/classmate's mom and little brother, ka, and i went to the zoo. although i always have mixed feelings about the zoo, we had a good time, partly in the rain. it's nice to know someone whose child is in the same class as ko (next door, same "team") to talk to. They went to preschool together too, but didn't really bond then yet. her mom m and i have a lot in common--it's hard to talk much because ka is 18 months and her son is 3, but enough to enjoy...

after school ko's friend from our german playgroup came over--they played every week all winter, spring, and summer, and ko has really missed him and his dad since school started. so, though they usually fight a little (unlike with ko's girl-friends), and did today, it was still nice--playing here, out for ice cream, and barnes and noble to play with the train set.

i don't think i mentioned that tuesday was ka's and my first "music together" class. heaven. i can't imagine anything more jolly--she ate it up, especially the egg shakers. this is one of those things i always wanted (wanted is a major understatement...) to do with ko and couldn't because of my work schedule (and money, but mostly work schedule), so i feel guilty about that. but when i told ko about it that afternoon, it turned out he had had music class that day and sang one of the same songs we sang: the cow jumped over the moon, and he got to be a cow and jump over a paper moon! so i promised we'd sing the songs together from the book. i was very excited because, although he dances and sings like a maniac at home, at preschool he almost always only observed. shyness, i assume. another reason i'm happy to do some group music stuff with ka nice and early. she seemed to love it.

afterward at the playground, i ran into three moms i know, which gave me a very cozy "i like living here" kind of feeling; it is really a kind of nice place to live, diversity-wise and opportunity-wise, and family-wise (not in that order), but i still often am shocked that i live in the place where i grew up. i have lived and come to love so many (relatively) other places and got my esl teaching degree partly because it's something i can do everywhere, and have always assumed i'd live overseas and all over the place. maybe, hopefully we still will, but with the start of kindergarden comes a whole new investment in living here...and since the life i grew up living was one of lots of travel before kindergarden started, and then in the summers travel, but lots of stability and same school system and friends all the way, that's what i know and appreciate; maybe we'll end up moving somewhere else every summer or something, or i'll do extensive research in other countries or teach elsewhere summers or something. we'll see. for now i'm just glad to have started ko in a school we really like!! except that arlington has gotten so darn expensive i don't know how we'll ever afford a house here (all our students are moving way out in the suburbs, because all they can do here is rent), but that's a whole other story...

i tested students twice this week and last week went to herndon to visit a kurdish family to take pictures for the curriculum project i've been working on. this is absolutely all the work i can handle at the moment. it's a nice amount, but i can't imagine how i did it before with teaching. i almost don't even like thinking about it.

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September 26th, 2005
02:04 am

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all's well
ko's desperately not wanting to go to school lasted exactly 3 days, he's been fine ever since. 3 hugs for me, 1 for sis, a stuffed friend in his backpack and he's fine. more later...

thoughts:

-since i don't wash my hair very often, i should compensate by buying really expensive/good shampoos and conditioners

-literate societies have probably done wonders for shy people, because they can learn things without having to find and badger people who know about the exact things they want to know about and are willing to take the time to talk about them

-today is a beautiful, overcast, windy, slightly cooler day

-ka is taking a nap, and i should be scoring papers

-we had a fun weekend: ko's friend over saturday, followed by a special children's afternoon at our pastor's house, and the topic was "creation" of all things (see previous post about church), and i wasn't at all put off--it was great. more later..., experiments with growing and shrinking dinosaurs made of the same gel that's in disposable diapers, played recorder and sang, shopping with sis, and i now have a manageably cleaned up house, which is really exciting to remember when i wake up in the morning!

-oops, i forgot the not-so-fun thing, which was that i was in bed with the kids reading our bedtime stories saturday night at a refreshingly reasonable hour when p came home from work and, instead of smiling, came in and said, "can you put your pants on and come outside, someone needs you to translate." so i did, and schlepped ka clad in diaper out to the street, where police cars, officers, and a very shaky young latina with preschool-age son stood waiting. husband had threatened to hit her, she called the police, he cut the phone line and drove away. police came, husband gone, they can't do anything. she already called two weeks ago after being beaten by her husband and they did nothing but give her a card with some phone numbers on it. this officer did the same, and told me to tell her there wasn't anything they could do because he wasn't there. i took her inside and called the number (she asked me to), and an english phone tree comes on (it was supposed to be for spanish speakers) and no one will be there until monday. it was supposed to be a 24-hour hotline. finally i reached someone by another number and the man told me (in english) that she'd have to call monday, but he could give me the number of a safe house if she wanted. she insisted that she could stay at her pastor's house. she insisted this many times and insisted that she didn't need a ride. i gave her my number and said to call or knock anytime. she and her son left. she didn't want to sit the whole time, was shaky and her eyes looked at any time ready to well over with tears. she said they'd been married for 5 years, she's from honduras, her son is 3, she's 19, and there's been domestic violence going on ever since they married, sometimes involving her son too. she came to the US via guatemala, mexico 4 months ago. it felt so ridiculous not being able to do anything. i've been telling students for years that in this country the police responds to domestic violence and take it seriously, but she's called twice, and all she got were some phone numbers. the police officer said unless there's physical proof of violence and they can talk to him too, they can't anything. so she has to wait until he actually hits her again? can someone explain this to me? and if she had called that "spanish language 24 hour hotline" she would have gotten nowhere. this stuff should be clear and known to everyone--after asking the policeman questions, i still was more confused than enlightened. i sure had no idea what to do besides offer a place to sleep. anyway, i'm going to at least try to find out what exactly can/can't be done so i'll know next time. i don't get it, and i grew up here!!

hmm..maybe i should change the subject of this entry

-my parents are on amrum, island off the north? baltic? (i'd better find that out too) sea

-last weekend we went to the maryland renaissance festival--fun! the most fun is watching all the very interesting (-looking) people and wondering if they act like normal office job people most of the time. how refreshing that there is often so much more to people than they reveal right away!

-i signed up today for a "music together" class with ka every tuesday morning!!!!! this is one of those things i ached to do with ko but they were always offered while i was working. don't even ask why didn't p take him! i can't wait!!! so cozy...

-i waited too long to eat lunch today and so, ravenous, i dumped a bunch of (vegan--who cares when you read the rest of the ingredients!) butter, cream, and a bunch of string cheese into a pan plus pasta i cooked 2 days ago and ate a massive amount of it. good thing i'm not lactose intolerant. ka was hilarious. she LOVES noodles. but whenever i put one in front of her, she just looked at it, cocked her head, and handed it back to me and said, "maaaami. nuuuunu. (noodle)" in a matter-of-fact tone. well, it turns out i had been tearing off half a noodle for her to eat--i'm neurotic about choking--and that was the problem, because when i put a whole one in front of her, she at it. She ate lots of them. until i sprinkled nutritional yeast on them, at which point she did the head-cocking, handing-back thing again.

Time to go!!

P.S. we also got out the halloween stuff because i promised after the fall equinox we would do that, which means our favorite halloween cd all the time--fun!

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September 16th, 2005
12:27 am

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my goodness...
a lot has happened since i wrote last. now i'm writing in the middle of the day--unusual for me--something really must have driven me to the computer. for one thing, i put ka down for an early nap so she'd be well rested when we go meet OC and Tante Baba for lunch in rosslyn. i should be doing a number of things besides this, but: oh, get to the point! ok, ko was MISERABLE going to school this morning. he was fine all last week, the first week, surprisingly fine. i just couldn't believe how easy it was. one of the biggest reliefs of my life so far. ONE of them. anyway, i purposely didn't drill him much the first week, though i was desperate to know what he did all day, and what was going on in his head all day, how he felt all day, all week. Little windows opened here and there, he told me mostly how SO NICE his teacher is--she really does seem wonderful--and her name means "son of hazelnut" in turkish, can't get any more colorful than that (used to be married to a turkish man--don't know more about that but would like to) and i liked her right away. also he has a friend from preschool in the next classroom, a wonderful thing since her mom and i can talk, and there's a guinea pig--he has a massive soft spot for cute rodents--and he came out of school with a big smile every day. told me about "writer's workshop" where they write and/or draw and tell stories, about the sandbox out the back door at recess, about the gingerbread man at story time, about the reading musical notes they've apparently been doing because he had me write a series of stars, circles, and hearts and proceeded to read the music by clapping, snapping, and...something else in the pattern i'd written. so what went wrong? i have no idea! maybe nothing. maybe he just realized it was a long day and that sometimes the teachers are strict and you have to do things you don't want to do? wow--i have to get ready to go, but wow was it sad--he was grasping my shirt and clinging to me in a way that just made me want to clutch him and run out of the school and say, hey let's go to the playground and eat ice cream and spend ALL DAY together with ka and not write or draw anything! i'll write more later. the teacher called to tell me he was shaky but ok a little later. that was nice. also 3 girls, first graders (it's a mixed-age classroom), came out and were so sweet, saying, "here, ko, i'll take your backpack" and "remember, we're gonna read another gingerbread man story today!" and "you'll be ok!" but he was crying and his teacher was holding him and the last thing i heard was, "but i want to look at my MOM!!!!" i had put a bunch of photographs in his lunch, but he kept saying, "but how can we make them TALK????!" i'll have to revisit my homeschooling/unschooling entry. i was thinking how lucky i was not to have to make decisions like that since he loves school! i'll have to write more about the school itself later too, although i have more questions now than anything. well, i'll just have to see how he is when i pick him up today. it may be a turning point, if he's still miserable or if he realizes it's ok and he can be comforted and comfortable there too. i need to think about/ask if he may be too young. the simple pressure to try to do things that are too hard and maybe uninteresting (in his case, such as writing and drawing) may be too much. more soon. sniff sniff. my silly, happy little boy!!!!! i stumbled across a picture of him wearing exactly the same outfit, except it was this summer on our trip, jumping carefreely on a trampoline behind our kurdish friends' trailer in knoxville, making his funny-scary bat face and looking altogether comfortable and happy. and learning tons by traveling and being around different kinds of loving people. and with his mom and dad and sister. oh my, oh my.....

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September 7th, 2005
11:50 am

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big week
ko's 40+ 5th birthday party, and two days later, his first day of kindergarden...! much to write about, but i'd better go make his lunch and make sure there's something clean for him to wear tomorrow. not that there's anything i can do about it if there isn't, since they shut off the power in the laundry room at 9:45 every night. to be honest, i wouldn't walk over there and do laundry this late anyway--it's creepy. across the courtyard, behind a building and down a very steep flight of stairs into a locked yet flea-infested basement that smells like cat piss and has a single washer and dryer for about 8 households. why am i taking the time to describe this instead of the party and start of school?? maybe i'll be back...

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August 31st, 2005
12:57 pm

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i miss my kids!!!!
the day before yesterday, p put together the beds we bought for the kids, just so that they'd have their "own" places to sleep if they ever decided to sleep there, and just to make their rooms cozier. well, now they're both sleeping next door, with a whole room between each other, and a wall between me and them. and it feels WEIRD!!! it's nice to type with some abandon (i usually have to type really quietly to keep from waking up ka), but mostly i just miss them. i should be using this time to organize my filing cabinet or something, since it's here in the bedroom, where usually only clothes get organized because i can do that while the kids are awake in here with me. also, p, genius at building things, but not genius at reading things (i'll probably start writing more about him here soon, since i'm quite sure that even if he stumbles across it, he won't read it...), didn't see the huge writing on the instructions for the bed rail that say, "NEVER use on a toddler bed" and something about strangulation. i'll probably go get her in a second. ko will be fine--he joined us early this morning after his first night in his bed. we made it clear that he could choose where he slept, but i just went and nursed ka to sleep in her bed (not quite as comfortable as the king size bed...) and told ko a story in his bed and stayed until he was asleep, so as far as they were concerned, it was sort of the same, i guess. i don't know if this was a bad idea so shortly before kindergarden starts. the beds do look cozy, and there's something very cozy about choosing bedding for kids. ka got dora because she loves her and ko insisted on big smiley flowers--i'm so glad p finally submissed (word?) after his very friendly and enthusiastic attempts to get ko interested in the medieval and space themes (both of which generally fascinate him--but not for bedtime!). the whole scene was so predictable, annoying, but ultimately pleasing.

instead of making more preparations for ko's upcoming birthday party, i spent most of today with ko, ka, and ko's oldest friend s on an excursion to the washington monument. "you" may remember that ko got "married" to jet flying mouse at the top of the washington monument, so he's been wanting to actually go there. we stopped by s's house and luckily she was there and could join us. speaking of the wedding, they also recently had their honeymoon, to germany, france, and "goatland"--more details later.

tomorrow is open house at ko's kindergarden.

i am getting nervous about the birthday party!!

i'm going to go get ka!!

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