Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ice Skating in the desert

Earlier this week the twins and I met some friends at an ice skating rink!

Because what else does one do when it's 122 degrees outside???

Our regular driver was busy and sent a friend to pick us up, and when I told him we were going to the ice skating rink located next to a particular mall, he assured me he knew where that was and headed there.
When we pulled up to that mall, I asked "but I heard the skating rink is next to the mall?"
"No, inside. You enter through the mall, madam" he assured me.
So we exited the taxi and entered the mall. A quick preliminary search revealed zero ice skating rinks, so we found a security guard and asked him. 
"Not here, madam, next door..." he informed us as he led us outside and pointed to a large building a *decent ways away.
(*I'm terrible at estimating distances. Like, really terrible. How far away was it? A football field's length? 12 football field's length? A half mile? Seven miles? I don't know.  You so do not want me on your Surveying or recon team.)

Because there was only parking lots between where we were and where we needed to be, another taxi was not an option.

We began to trek over.

I was super proud of my kids...they could tell I was annoyed, and did their best to rally and have awesome attitudes about. They didn't complain once about the heat.

And it was HOT. It was 122 degrees, and we did not have any water with us...because it's Ramadan, and Ramadan in an Islamic country means there is ZERO eating and drinking outdoors during the day. Between sunup and sundown, the majority of restaurants are closed (a few are open for take-out only) and adults are strictly forbidden from all forms of eating, drinking, smoking and even chewing gum.

Now, most of the time being a (pale, blonde = CLEARLY) Westerner allows me a pass for offenses.
I totally realize that is unfair, but that doesn't make it any less true.
But during Ramadan I've been told there are zero exceptions to this. Being a Westerner will not afford me any grace for any sort of faux pas, as we've been clearly warned, and not only will I not be granted leniency for an offense, I'm likely to be made an example of. 
Seriously not a time to mess around.

Children are allowed to eat and drink as normal, so I realize I could technically carry water for L and A, but here's the thing...I'm an avid water drinker (it's like my one healthy habit) and I just can not trust that I won't mindlessly take a swig off their water bottles while we are out. 
And it's too great of a risk (Kuwaiti jails are no joke) to take, so I've not been carrying any water or snacks while we are out during the day.

So I had zero ways to cool us as we walked.

It took us about 10-15 minutes to get over there, which is not that bad, all things considered.

But if you're curious what a woman dressed in all black, with her mop of hair down around her neck and shoulders, carrying a large purse and a bag full of sweatshirts and zero water to drink, who just walked around in 122 degree heat looks like, she looks like this...

Sweaty hair matted to her forehead, shiny face from all the perspiration, and exhausted.
The kids on the other hand, had some water and quickly recovered =).
Kids are so freakin' resilient. 

We continued to cool off rather quickly when we were on the ice!

They offered these little pusher/assistance things, and I got them for both the kids as this was their first time ice skating.
Sister was SO excited...

Brother was excited too, but a little more hesitant...

Buddies =). 
(love how that little brother is just hitching a ride!)

Sister, the avid roller skater, soon ditched her skating aid...

...she made her way around the entire rink, staying near the wall...

Brother was becoming more comfortable as well, but stayed pretty glued to his aid...

...and took frequent breaks...

Before I knew it, Sister was free skating all around the rink! All that roller skating has really paid off =).

Brother ditched his aid for a bit, and even took his hands off the wall at one point =)...

Meanwhile I regretted my incredibly poor shoe choice and tried to prevent my toes from getting sliced off as I assisted kiddos with blades on their feet...

The kids had so much fun together...

They even had some races pushing each other around...

Cute little ice skating buddies...

Such a fun time! 
We will definitely be back. 
It was only 1.5 KD (like $4.50) for entry and skate rental, and it was a great way to cool off during the hot summer days.
My mom commented on Facebook how ironic it is that our kids are learning to ice skate in Kuwait, and I totally laughed out loud. Who would have thought when we moved to the desert that ice skating would be a new skill we'd acquire?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


So I decided to share my last post on my Facebook page, because it was a message from my heart to the masses, and FB is an excellent public platform.
It was "shared" a number of times, and I'm so, so grateful it was received with open hearts and equal desire to spread the word about the important difference between *Muslim* and *Radicalism*.

Because it was shared several times, I'm thinking there may be some new folks reading today.
You are more than welcome here.

But, I just want to let you know that while my last post was passionate and thoughtful, most the time I just write about my family's daily life here in the Middle East.
Most the time I just post pictures of our (super cute) kids and write about the latest way in which I've managed to injure myself.

Occasionally, something stirs about within my heart and my mind, and I let it churn for a bit, and then suddenly it flows out my fingertips onto a page like word my last post.

I'm incredibly passionate about my Jesus and my people.
I'm passionate about children's rights and giving all kids a voice.
Those are hills I will always die on.

But I'm also pretty passionate about sleeping in and really delicious macaroni and cheese.

I only go so deep here, ya'll.


If you're looking for something insightful to read on a regular basis, please follow Glennon, or Jen, or Stephanie.
Those blogs never fail to leave me laughing, crying, and thinking.

If you're looking for elevator selfies with the world's cutest twins...

 ...and random tales about an incredibly pale woman in her mid-thirties stumbling her way around her new life in Kuwait, with the only occasional insightful post, feel free to stick around =).

Life lately...

It's Ramadan (many things are closed during the day) and it's HOT out, so we've been spending a lot of time indoors lately.
Luckily, we're well versed in entertaining ourselves within the walls of our apartment...

The cats we are hosting for the summer are feeling comfortable around here...

We're all pretty happy about that, especially this girl...

We've been hanging out with friends...

...and LOTS of swimming...

... some exercising...

...and grocery shopping...

We went to a friend's house for our weekly Crafty day, where we did a knitting craft!

The boy declared his a Ninja Star...

Sister had such a great time creating several different things! Knowing how to knit already (Thanks Gaga!) made her right at home with this activity...

We had David's birthday to celebrate...

The kids decorated the living room for him =)

We're pretty big fans of this guy!!!

Lots of hanging around the house, drawing...

...and being goofy...

...and more drawing...

...playing games...

...and reading books...

...and learning new how to play Poker ;).
David taught the twins how to play the game, including all the important parts like keeping a Poker Face. 
They are very serious about this...

He's also taught them about "trash talking" when playing. They're pretty hilarious with their attempts, especially since they almost always accidentally refer to the game as "Pokey". 
There are few things cuter than your six year old mustering up their toughest face and saying "Momma, I'm gonna kick your booty at Pokey!"

And that's life lately around here =).  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Can I tell you something?

I've had to take a "Media Fast" for the last few days.

I had to do the same thing after the Paris attacks. 

It was evening in the Middle East when the news broke about the horrors occurring in Orlando. 
I read a few news articles about what was going on. 
I switched over to Facebook to read people's stories and links.
I was only able to read a few before I had to close my laptop.
I went to bed shortly after, and cried.
I cried for the LGBTQ community, and how much hate they've had to endure. My heart was - is - broken for them, beyond all doubt.
And my heart broke anew when I read the words of a current U.S. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, starting up his usual rhetoric about banning Muslims from the United States.
I cried so hard that I had to flip my pillow over in search of a spot not soaked with tears.

When I logged back in the next morning, it was more of the same.
I quickly realized if I was going to be able to focus on anything else - including mothering my children - I was going to have to go for a full Media Blackout.

Because of this:
When you talk of banning Muslims from the United States - the Land of the Free - you are talking about my friends.

You are talking about this woman, who literally spoon fed me my broth when I was lying in a hospital bed post surgery...

...who has my made children feel included and loved them as her own...

...who took me under her wing and showed me and my children around our area when everything and everyone was new to us...

You are talking about so many of the women who lovingly cooked and delivered my family meals after my surgery.

You are talking about my friends.

You're talking about these men. These firefighters who welcomed our children on a homeschooling field trip, and taught them about fire safety and showed them a wonderful time in the process...

You are talking about my sweet friend who, upon hearing I had an upcoming date night to celebrate our 12 year wedding anniversary, gave me this beautiful shawl to wear - and keep - for my special night...

You're talking about the women, the fellow mommas, who have helped my children learn. Who have looked out for my babies to make sure they always feel included...

You're talking about this man, who my children consider a friend. They even invited him to their birthday party, and not only did he take several hours off work (mid-day, on a weekend = prime taxi hours) to come to their party, but he purchased them a present all wrapped up. This man who doesn't even have his own room, and sends nearly every penny back to his family in his home country. 

You're talking about my friends.

You are talking about my children's friends, who bring them so much love and laughter...

...who embrace them. Share their toys with them. Make them feel welcome...

You are talking about this sweet boy, who saw my daughter playing on the floor, and without saying a word, went and got blankets off his bed for her to sit on while she played. 
"The floor is cold" he replied.

You are talking about this amazing Tball coach, who taught our kids with such patience and encouragement...

You are talking about my friends.

You are talking about my husband's students...who have welcomed him. Encouraged him. Complained to him about the homework he assigns. Listened to him. Learned from him.

You're talking about his co-workers...who have quickly accepted him as a colleague, and made him feel like a welcome part of the team...

I had to close my laptop - and avoid all forms of social media and news sources for several days - because I could not handle the hatred I was reading. The hate based on ignorance.
I had scrolled through Facebook and read comment after comment that spewed that hatred towards Muslims.The comment that got to me the most was this one: "... pray that Muslims will stop treating all women as non persons including their wives and daughters" 

To anyone who believes this to be true about Muslims, I ask you, how many Muslims do you know? I mean, actively know? and share life with?

Fresh, hot tears sprang from my eyes. My fingers wanted to fly so fast in response that I swear smoke would have come off my keyboard.
Do I know Muslim men that treat women disrespectfully? Yes. I will tell you in all honesty that I certainly do.
But guess what? I will tell you in that same honesty that I know Christian men who do the same.

By far, the majority of the Muslim men I know are loving and selfless towards all women, especially their wives and daughters. 
They are fathers who get up with their infants and toddlers in the middle of the night, so their wives can sleep. They are men who work a full day and then come home and do the dishes. They are men who handle dinner, bath and bedtime with the kids so that their wives can join up for our Mom's Night Out. They are the daddies (or "Baba" in Arabic) who I run into in the grocery store, trucking around their three year olds because their wife decided she wanted to paint and rearrange the living room that day, and they shrug their shoulders and smile sheepishly as they say, "What she wants, she gets!"

The great Glennon recently wrote:

"One of my guiding leadership principles is this: “The most revolutionary thing you can do is introduce people to each other.”

Here’s why: I really think that prejudice and dislike are usually misunderstandings based upon ignorance of each other’s hearts. I really think that to truly know someone -- to truly truly know someone -- is to love her. Fear can't survive proximity. Hate can't survive a real conversation between two vulnerable, humble, honest human beings."

If you are afraid of Muslims, or believe they should be banned from the United States, I need to ask you, how many Muslims do you know? I mean, really know? 

Muslim is not a word to be feared. Extremist is. 

Islam is not something to be afraid of. Radicalism is. 

And tell me how you can read statistics like this, that say more Americans have died in the past 50 years of gunshot wounds than every U.S. war combined, and then tell me how banning Muslims from the U.S. will fix that problem. 
Tell me how that is a Muslim issue.
Tell me how that is an Islam issue.
Hell, tell me how that is even a religious issue at all.

Tell me how banning Muslims in the U.S. would have prevented Columbine
Or so many, many others.
Show me how Islam had anything to do with those atrocities.

Do you know what my little family was doing the very evening before the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history?
We were sharing in a special meal, Iftar, the breaking of Ramadan fasting in the evening, with my Muslim friends and some of their Muslim friends.
They had invited us over to be their guests and join with them in their celebration.

And it was not an effort to convert us. This was about welcoming friends into their home. We sat and broke bread together, and appreciated all that we had in common.
All that we share in life.
One woman and I discussed our broken hearts for orphans, and how we hope to adopt someday.
Another woman and I laughed about how we still manage to have one or two of our children crawl into bed with us at night.
We collectively lamented the fact that our toilets refuse to clean themselves.
We talked about how much screen time we allow our kids.
We talked about how we worry about separation anxiety in our little ones, and how to handle it.
We talked about our experiences giving birth.
We talked the differences between Christian fasting and Muslim fasting.
We talked about different recipes.
We talked about life.

The entire evening, which went late into the night, was so much fun, and my heart was so full after being welcomed into such an intimate experience.
And not just welcomed, embraced. 
Looked out for.
My friend who hosted had sweetly sent me a text the previous day so I had a general idea of what to expect that evening - to make sure we'd be as comfortable as possible - and even invited David to attend the evening prayers at the mosque with the men. Of course, he was not expected to, but she wanted him to know he was invited. 
He was very interested in tagging along, and had a great experience. My friend's husbands, along with the new friends we'd just met earlier that evening at her house, made sure David felt comfortable at every turn, helping him through all the steps of washing and prayers and giving him the front seat in the car. They treated him as an honored guest.

These friends know we are Christians, and they know we're committed to it for life. They respect that, just as we respect that they are Muslims. When the conversations turned to religion, it was simply in desire to learn from each other, never change each other.
Mutual respect.
A love that both our religions require in their teachings.

As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor as myself. God is just so incredibly clear about that. 

But if you are not Christian, or religious at all, perhaps I can appeal to you on simply a humanitarian front...
If you are not one of the half of Americans who support the ban - if you believe banning them is NOT the answer - can I ask you to do something for me? For my friends? Please?
When you hear someone speak about these terrible terrorist acts and link them simply with the word "Muslim", will you consider gently correcting them? Saying "oh, I think you mean 'radical fundamentalists' or 'extremist', not 'Muslim'"

My prayer is that could be the beginning of opening people's eyes. That just pointing out that simple  -yet very important-  distinction could be the beginning of erasing the hate and fear against people who do not deserve it. 

And if you ARE afraid of Muslims, if you believe banning them from the United States of America is an answer to any question, then I want to tell you something...I desperately want you to hear something I have to say:

You are talking about people who have loved my family well.  
You are talking about people whom I love.

You are talking about my friends.