Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kids Amaze Me

Kids continue to amaze me. They develop intricate communication systems and ways of interaction that boggle my mind. I do not remember ever having to figure out ways to establish a relationship with my friends; a set of rules and regulations of how to treat one another. 

Last night, after my son and I had a long discussion, on the bed in a dark room, I came out in awe of him and his friends. I realized that there were so many little details of his relationship with his friends that I had no knowledge of and I was humbled. 

He told me how he got along very well with one of his friends, a lovely boy of four, J. He first said he liked him and before I had the chance to ask him why he corrected himself and said, "No,  actually I love him." I asked him why, not because I didn't know the answer to that question, but because I wanted to hear his thoughts. He told me what a good boy J was, how they played well together and how he sticks up for him. 

He then said that J listens to him and at that point my eyebrows shot up in the dark. I have to admit that I was a little weary of his last comment. I asked Jad if he bossed J around and he said, "No, mom we have a system going." 

A what??? A system?

I had to choose my words carefully in this situation so as to get the whole truth and a better INSIDE picture of what goes on when the parents are busy chatting away or preparing dinner.

And this is what he explained:

"Mom, J and I have a system. He listen to two things and then I listen to one." I was very confused and had to clarify what he meant since, to my mommy mind set, he was not making any sense. It was either that or that I was so clueless as to what goes on between kids that I failed to understand. The poor young man kept trying to explain but after the third time over he gave up and presented his information in layman's terms.

"OK mom, this is how it goes. I ask J to do two things for me and then he asks me to do one thing for him. For example: I ask him to please give me a toy he is playing with because it is my favorite or if he can hand me a toy next to him and he asks me to open something for him or get him a drink of water." (Because my son can reach the top shelves of our fridge and take out the water bottle).

"Ahhhh", I nodded, "but is this ratio like this now as well? or has it change? Because it sounds to me a bit unequal."
He said that this was some time ago but now it is a 2:2... my kid talks in ratios????

At that moment I remembered that there is a third little person in that group; my daughter. My curiosity took the better of me and I asked about her and how the system is like with her. And with all confidence my son replied,"Oh it is 4:1! I ask four things of her and she asks one thing of me."

And when I asked him whether this ratio will continue for a long time he said,"No, it will change to 4:2."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Invented People


I feel sad for individuals whose knowledge of the world is limited, who come out and make drastic comments about another people. How can one deny the existence of a culture with history, traditions and values? How can one deny people and their rights to exist to satisfy a few groups to get further in elections? It is all about greed and ignorance. Nothing is thought out, no feelings involved, just plane outright cold and inhumane. I feel sad for such people as their hearts are so small and so full of hatred. It is a shame that such people exist in the world but then again it is such people that help us appreciate the people on the other end of the continuum. 

Have a read if you wish of what this man has said just recently and then enjoy some pictures of the people he thinks were invented but in reality have existed for hundreds if not thousands of years. You cannot INVENT people... How can one invent a people? Just the fact that they live on this Earth means they exist... One cannot erase them or any other... disregard or think they are just a figment of millions of peoples' imagination.

Here are the pictures that say a thousand words.

Any thoughts?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parents Must Say "No!"


I should make something clear before anyone reads the words below. I am only venting and trying to get my head around it as a mother myself. Furthermore, I am not an expert on parenting, in fact, I am still learning and will continue to learn until I am old and gray. However, one thing that I learned from my parents is the importance of placing boundaries for children, teaching them to become responsible adults who care for others and their feelings.

Therefore, sometimes it boggles my mind when parents bring up their children on the idea that they never do anything wrong. I have read so many articles online and books saying that parents MUST say NO to their children especially when they do something that either hurts themselves or others.

Saying NO at the right time, and when it is appropriate, is extremely important in teaching our children how to be centered, happy and responsible human beings. If children never hear that word NO in their childhood, they WILL soon enough when they are older. And then what would they do? They would be so surprised and overwhelmed not knowing how to react to this new word or reaction from others.

Granted that parents need to learn HOW to say NO and there are many website out there that can provide them with tips on how to address this... but the fact remains that parents must say NO to their children if other ways of explaining it to them did not work. For example, "Please try to use your Big Boy voice and tell me what you want." Instead of "Stop whining!"  However, if that did not work after the 10th time then parents must say, "No, please stop whining or I will not listen to you." If we, parents, listen to everything the children ask for, especially when they whine, we are only reinforcing the behavior that we basically did not want from the beginning.

It is the same when children hit or play tricks on one another. We must always understand that kids will be kids but we must also comprehend that both behaviors are wrong. If we ignore either behavior without addressing the hurt feelings of the kids involved then our children would learn that we are ok with it and they would do it again. We would also be teaching them to ignore their friend's hurt feelings helping our children become unsympathetic towards others. We need to teach our children empathy by saying NO and asking them to apologize for the hurt feelings they caused. It is of no benefit to our children if we believed they never did anything wrong... that they never hit other children unless they have been hit themselves or they would never play tricks on anyone unless they have been pushed to. BOTH actions are wrong whether it was instigated or retaliated.

If we ignore such behaviors, we would not only be reinforcing the bad behavior when they are little but we would need to deal with them when the children are older. Dealing with such behaviors when the kids are 15 years old would be a hand full and doubly hard. We would help to create unmanageable children and adults later on in life.

I am not sure if you all agree with me, my friends, but I would love to hear your comments.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Flood Pictures

Childlren catching fish and crabs in the water that took over their village streets.

My Dear Readers,

I have received many requests to post more of the flood pictures that I took on my trip to the Bang Khae area. Many of the pictures show the devastating powers of the moss, sewage and fish infested waters of the khlongs. 

We visited the house of one of our school staff member's and his grandmother's. Joke told us that no matter how many sand bags they used or cement walls they constructed to keep the water out, their efforts were in vane because it seeped through the walls of the house. He was forced along with his family to evacuate and I am glad that his grandmother had not yet returned to see what had happened to her house or she would have been heart broken. Her house was old style and one had to walk down some steps to enter it, which meant that it would act like a giant indoor pool when water occupied it.

As I mentioned in my previous post, What an Attitude, the trip took a toll on my emotions but the people, their smiles and their warm inspirational attitudes gave me the boost to continue snapping pictures. During the whole experience, and although I took pictures of the damage done, I tried also to balance everything out and find some beauty in my surroundings.

Below is also the message that was sent to us thanking the team for providing them with emergency and food bags.

In Thai:
เรียน   คณะครู  นักเรียน โรงเรียนนานาชาติใหม่  และทีมจักรยานจากหมู่บ้านฟ้าปิยรมย์
ดีใจค่ะที่ได้รับน้ำใจจากกลุ่มคนกลุ่มเล็กๆที่เต็มไปด้วยพลังที่ยิ่งใหญ่ พวกเราทราบซึ้งในความตั้งใจอันแรงกล้าของพวกคุณที่ได้ส่งความช่วยเหลือมาถึงพวกเรา
ความช่วยเหลือของพวกคุณ  สามารถทำให้คนอีกมากมายได้มีกำลังใจในการใช้ชีวิตอยู่กับน้ำที่ท่วมขังต่อไป สิ่งของที่พวกคุณนำมาให้ทุกชิ้นมีประโยชน์ต่อพวกเรามากจริงๆค่ะ


                    จาก      ผู้ประสบภัย

Dear teachers and students of the New International School of Thailand and the Biking team from Baan-Fah Piyarom village,

We are so happy to have been touched by such a small group of people with such big hearts. We are very grateful for your courage that has made you reach out to help us. Your help has given so many people hope to stay strong in this time of crisis. The things you brought for us have been very helpful to our community.

And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The people of our village

The inside of a house in the village.

The streets of the village covered in garbage and dog poo. The person responsible for the village said that the government did not visit this village once to help out. 

One of the narrow allies in the village. As you can see it is impassable as it is filled with water and garbage.
I went walking while the others were waiting for direction on what to do next. I had to take a look at other places around the village. This run down house was adjacent to a well kept rich one that was protected from the waters by walls and hundreds of sandbags and plastic covers.
The Thais have a sense of humor. They chose to save this torn couch by placing it on top of the small bridge.
You can see to which level the water reached from the marks on this white wall.
The man was pumping the water off the streets and into a khlong near by. I could not help but snap the picture because of his bright contagious smile.
This and all the below pictures are form the inside of Joke's house. You can see a black boat floating in the background.
A beautiful garden... such a contrast between the bright pink flowers to the dirty water lying beneath their pot 'houses'.
The inside of the grandmother's house.
They tried to save as many of their belongings as possible placing them on top of table and basically anything that had legs.
Joke and his family kept geese in their backyard.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning to Trust

My son, his sister and his Pirate friend
We had a long weekend due to The Thai King’s birthday and what a weekend it was. Not only did the country celebrate the birth of their revered king but three International Families celebrated their sons’ birthdays as well. Yup… we had a birthday every day of the long weekend; Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  

One of our dear friends’ son was born on October 20th, a day before but 2 years after my son was born and therefore it was only logical to have their birthdays celebrated one after the other. The festivities were actually planned two weeks apart in October but we had to postpone them both due to the flood warnings and this week was THE week we chose to do them. I certainly could not have picked a better week. 

I was a little nervous at the beginning to have them so close in proximity to one another because even though I love baking my children their own cakes, I knew that nothing I did would live up to the creativity of my friend. She is an amazing talented cook and party organizer who has a knack for all this. She is a master at constructing complicated structures of sweetness and every cake she makes out does the previous one. This was why I had butterflies in my stomach before my son’s Birthday party.

What started the butterflies was the look of awe on my son’s face when my friend’s Pirate Ship cake was placed on the table and the candles were lit. His eyes opened wide and he had a huge smile on his face. Anyone could see the look of utter satisfaction when he helped his friend blow out the magic candles and took the first juicy bite of the cake. And that made me wonder if he would have that same feeling when it came to blowing out his own candles and tasting his own cake the next day.

Didn't I tell you it was a super duper cake?

I need not worry though as the first person to actually give me a compliment on my son’s UFO cake in the fridge was my talented friend. And even though my UFO cake did not need the skill her Pirate ship needed, she thought that I had done a good job. I knew then that my son would like it and I would get to see that same satisfied look on his face.

My son's UFO birthday cake

Suffice to say, it was a good day and I enjoyed planning the activities as well as the food the people enjoyed. So our guests left with happy feelings, full bellies and well entertained. And the one thing I should learn from this week is that I must trust myself and my abilities more. I need to learn how to breathe and have more faith. I know I can do something if I worked hard enough... I just need to remember that when, as the saying goes, “The Going Gets Tough!”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Setting Precedence

One of the many reasons why I like to volunteer for charitable events is because I want to set precedence for my children as my parents did for me.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised when that ‘precedence’ was manifested while my son was getting dressed to go to school. I am not entirely sure what we were talking about. It was either that he wants to help set up for his birthday celebrations on Sunday or dinosaur games on the iPad or what he plans to do with his day at school.

It was during that discussion when out of the blue, my son said, “I like to help people. I will help anyone who needs my help.”

I had to stop for a moment and take in a deep breath before hugging him and telling him how much I was proud of him. I felt like the seed of our ‘labor’ has finally been planted and soon we will begin to see the fruit.

 My son is growing up fast and will soon be venturing off into this world independently of his parents. And therefore, the time left to plant seeds of humanity in him is short and we must think of every word we say to him and action we take with or in front of him. And so, for me to see that what we are doing is actually going towards the right direction was relieving.

 I always wonder whether the decision I made or the path I took was the best option. I always question whether I said the right thing or whether I should have said it in a different way. This never happened to me before I had children. Before thinking of having kids, I always knew what I wanted and if I ever made a wrong turn somewhere, it was easy to find the correct path again. I never had to think of anyone except myself…. well that is not entirely true … I always considered what my parents would think if I chose something over another.  

Anyway… suffice to say…

Parenting is not an easy job I tell ya, but it sure is pleasurable and satisfying when you get to see glimpses of the finished product. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

What an Attitude

On Saturday, I had the privilege of joining an amazing team of students and teachers on their trip to bring emergency food packets to a community in the Bang Khae area in the South West of Thailand. After putting on our plastic boots, we dismounted our air conditioned luxurious van and stepped onto a mossy dirty road in a village which was affected by the floods.

The first thing that I noticed was the young children walking in their slippers or bare feet in the dirty water looking around for something. They were carrying a net with them in their search of the waters beneath their feet which totally puzzled me. I was trying to figure out what on earth interested them in that murky mossy water which to me was an inconvenience of course. But for these children, these waters seemed to be a source of fun. After some hand gestures and a few broken Thai words, I discovered that they were on a mini fishing excursion. Yes, believe it or not there were fish in the water... that  same water that filled their houses and conquered their streets for weeks. 

The second thing I noticed was the smiles on the people's faces. I have grown to respect and love these people of the Thai land as they have inspired me to make light of an awful situation. Everywhere I turned, I found their smiling eyes looking back at me. We walked through the village to meet more people who were unable to walk to the relief truck parked at the entrance. There were many houses that were severely affected by the floods. Some still had water in the bottom floor of their house while other residents were cleaning the black bacteria infested sludge remaining after the water had receded.No matter what the extent of their dire situation was, they always managed to flash their toothy smiles at all of us.

 There is so much to learn from these lovely people... which makes me wonder sometimes which one of us is considered poor.

I am not posting all the picture together as there was so much for me to take in and digest. It was not a difficult trip in the physical sense of it all but it definitely took a toll on my emotions. Therefore, I need time to choose my words carefully when posting the pictures along with their comments which was why I chose to start with the positive side of it all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children See, Children Do


 I was upset with myself after school today when I asked my son to pick up two pieces of candy wrappers that we found on the stairs. I asked him to pick up one piece while I picked up the other. He kept repeating that he wasn't the one who threw it and so why pick it up? I tried to explain that it was our school and therefore we need to take care of it but to no avail. I felt embarrassed because people were walking passed us watching us debate. I could not decide whether  I was upset because he would not help out or because he did not follow my instructions. 

After I had a word with him about it, he asked me, "Are you upset with me over a piece of paper?" 

hmmmm... stop... think... what do I answer to that?.... take a deep breath....

"No, I am not upset at you over a piece of paper but because it would be nice to learn from Mama sometimes and to do as she asks just as I do what you ask of me many times. It is also kind to keep our school clean and if we saw something that littered it to pick it up, setting an example to others."

I did say something I am not too proud of though.... I said that I was disappointed in his decision not to listen or help out.

When all I should have done was pick it myself as I usually did and see if in the future he would do the same. I need not ask him to do anything which was my mother's style of teaching about litter. She used to stop people on the streets and ask them to pick up their own litter that they had just thrown out of their car or as they walked by. Her manner with them was so gentle that they agreed with her when she said,"This is our country and we must all take care of it and keep it clean." What can anyone say to that? 

I have to admit, that it used to embarrass me when I was 7 years old and if we were in the car, I used to slide under the seat to avoid the people seeing me. But now I do the same. She did not need to tell me to pick things off the street, I just observed her do it many times over. The only thing she actively taught me was never to throw anything on the ground myself but keep it in my pocket or hand, and later car, until I found a trash can.

if he saw that I picked up the candy wrappers without saying a word, the action might have registered and he might do the same in the future. 

Would love to read what you think?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Instilling Confidence

This weekend was one of the best the children and I have had in a long time. No whining, arguments or time outs. The kids were awesome and had such a good time learning and exploring their abilities. My husband and I are the kind of parents who encourage our kids to take ‘calculated’ risks.

My son is growing up fast and he has been asking to walk around the neighborhood alone a few times. On Friday, I said it was ok but that I am trusting him with his life and that this is a BIG first step for him to feel responsible and act like a Big Boy... I wanted him to learn to trust himself as well and not ever fear going away on his own but that he should always take calculated risks. That he should always look at whatever is around him... assess the situation or the risk and then decide if it is a safe and sane thing to do.

My son agreed with me and went off on his adventure only to run straight back after 5 minutes because he encountered some barking soi dogs (Soi dogs are street dogs). He assessed the situation and decided that maybe it would be better for me to join him the first time. I wanted to encourage him further and not buy into fear and therefore I suggested that he take his sister this time and I will walk behind them. I wanted him to steer his focus away from the dogs and direct it towards protecting his sister. He did it and was very protective of his sister placing her to the inside of the street closer to the small pavement.

The next day, Saturday, we went to the pool to have a swim. For the past few months my daughter has been a little afraid of the water and I have been patiently trying to get her to put her head in the water, jump in or kick her legs when I hold her far away from my body. That day, she said she did not want to do any of those activities and all I said was, "I will wait for you to tell me when you are ready! And if you were, you will be very proud of yourself when you do it!" I waited only ten minutes when she said she wanted to kick, which only meant that I had to hold her away from my body. Woohoo, first step accomplished. I then asked her if she wanted to put her head in the water and she did. After the fifth time she asked if we could stop and trusted that I would listen to her. I wanted to teach her that she could trust me in the water and by this we can move forward.

That same afternoon, my son came again to ask me if it was ok to take his little sister for a walk alone. He held her hand and they walked to a friend’s house who is like an older uncle to him. The house was two corners away from ours and when my husband and I walked there to see if they were ok, we saw them riding Jim's motorbike to come back to ours. I looked at my son, smiled and said that I am very proud of him for doing it alone and taking care of his sister. I wish I could freeze that moment in time as his smile was like sunshine and his pride shown all over his face.

That day at night, the kids were invited to a barbecue…well the whole family but I had had the kids the whole day and just wanted to relax and have some me-time. After two hours, I called my husband to remind him that it was 8pm and that I would like the kids to come back for bed time. He told me that my son immediately got up and put his shoes on. My daughter, knowing what was about to happen, held on to her big brother’s hand before they even left the house and they both walked over to me at night. The house was one corner away and even though it was dark it was safe. My husband then followed them to check if they got home all right. This built such confidence in the both of them it was amazing to watch.

The next day, we then went to the playground where my son saw another child climb the colorful plastic play thing form the outside and then jump to a tree branch, swing from it and then jump back to the ground. I instantaneously knew what he was going to do. He was going to try it and so I had my camera ready... took a video of his first attempt and then pictures of his next few times. I asked him later if he had looked around and assessed the situation, he said he saw that the other boy did it without injury and so he knew he could do it. Ha!

It takes so much for a mother to stop herself from worrying about everything. Her protective instinct sometimes gets in the way of allowing her children to experience things on their own. I found myself biting the insides of my cheek a few times especially when my son wanted to take his sister for a walk all by himself. But if I interfered and stopped him from doing it, I would not have been able to see the look of pride on his face, his growing self-confidence or his sister’s trust in him.

Have you ever encountered a time when you were torn between allowing your child to experience something and learning from it and your sense of protectiveness? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I have mixed feelings about tomorrow. Part of me thinks that matters will get worse before they get better. The other part of me thinks that the last sentence is just a cliché and that things will definitely get better from now on. Suffice to say, I am hopeful for a brighter, new tomorrow.

You see...

I come from a torn Middle East. There isn’t a time when I did not know of a war or skirmish erupting in a certain corner of that area. Since my parents were young, they witnessed violence fester and grow around them but even though it made them who they are today and stronger, it continues to wear them down. They have not lived through a peaceful time yet. When I was chatting with my father the other day, my heart ached for him when he said how tired he was of this and honestly I do not blame him.  I have yet to say that I have lived through peace in that area, images of bombs, dead people and children are forever stuck in my mind. But I am one of the lucky ones and therefore I am hopeful that my children will experience a more peaceful tomorrow.

Having watched the images on International news agencies and heard hurtful comments from ignorant people does not mean that I am ashamed of who I am or where I come from. I am actually very proud of where I come from. Yes, people living in other parts of this globe might judge that we are ‘backwards’ by the way we live our everyday lives. I do not blame them much because they are basing their judgement on the image painted by the media. And if they visited that part of the world, they would not meet the people I am in contact with everyday when I am there. 

And so to them I would say, "It would be lovely if you could meet the hospitable people I know over there. How I wish you could meet the guard who cares for my children as his own or the shop keeper who asks after my family and their well being. I wish you could meet the worker at the gas station who wishes me a Happy Eid when I drive by or the Bedouin in Wadi Rum who offers me his cardamom infused coffee with his toothy smile.I wish you could chat to the hard working taxi driver who became our loyal family friend. I wish you could sit down and have tea with my mother who oozes warmth and sunshine to whomever she met or my dad who, as a doctor, cares about his patients and does not treat anyone as a number on a chart. But I am hopeful that one day you will get the chance to do just that and maybe then you will change your image of where I come from."

I am hopeful that our values will one day be accepted and that they will improve our current situation. One thing that pulls us together is the love of our nuclear and extended family; our bonds are tight and our loyalties are unbreakable. Family is our backbone and this is one aspect of the Arab society that I respect, hold high and believe that it will help us move forward. One would rarely find a nursing home for the elders because they are taken care of within the family. It is a core belief that it is our duty to honor and care for our elders as they did when we were young. 

Our total respect for family members and our elders is a value that I wish to ingrain in my own children. It is one of the traits that I wish they would take with them for their tomorrow and which would help them make a difference in the Arab World. You see, if they thought that we are all connected in some way and are one big family under one name and one flag, then maybe things will change over there. If they grew up with the idea that we all should take care of one another... if they grew up believing that what they do will affect others maybe they will start working towards building a better future for everyone in their  extended 'family'.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our School Community

The school we currently work for has a warm giving community and it feels great to be a part of it. I was raised on that belief that it was a must to give a part of my time and money to the less fortunate and that is why I find  that working with such a community should be taken advantage of.... in a good way of course. 

We are living at a time when the floods have left millions of Thai people in distress and homeless.  This was why it was essential for our school community to come together on Saturday to help make a slight difference in these displaced water logged people's lives and I took this opportunity to teach my son a lesson in giving.

I am so proud of him. He had to wake up early on a weekend and instead of playing with his friends at his Mooban, he was encouraged to give two hours of his time making emergency packages for the flood victims. Granted he whined at first and asked me twice if he could go home but towards the end he got into the spirit of it all and enjoyed it.

First task he tackled was sorting some toys out, placing a few in a plastic zip lock bag for the kids and then drawing and making cards to cheer the kids up.

We then went on a tour to see what other people were doing and perhaps lend a helping hand as well. We saw many people sorting a veriety of everyday essentials... rice, milk, water, toilet paper, toothpaste and tooth brushes, sanitary pads, soap, washing powder, first aid kits, canned goods, etc.

My son and I decided to help out with the water station next as everyone else was almost done. We saw people washing the empty used water bottles and then filling them with water from taps... the water in the taps went through 4 filtration systems and was drinkable, our students and teachers drank from it. My son and I took a box full of empty bottles along with their caps and went to another building to fill them.
Sorting out the goodies for the kiddies, such as cookies and sweets. 

Bottles filled with water from the school fountains.
Toothpaste and toilet paper rolls.
Washing powder
1 Kg rice bags

Washing the bottles
Filling the bottles with water from the school fountains.
 Next, we decided to join the assembly lines where we carried plastic bags and walked by tables manned by people who placed an item from each station in.  At the end of the line there were people tying the ends of the bags. The whole system was so organized it did not take the community a lot of time to collect 650 emergency bags. The parent organization then donated Pizzas for everyone but my son and I had to go home as my daughter was still not feeling too well. 
Assembly lines
My little helper!
But this was such an opportune time and I took advantage of it to teach my son a lesson. I asked him afterward if he felt good about giving and I received a positive answer. I am hoping to be able to instill more until it comes naturally to him. Sure we did it many times before but at a small scale and he only saw the gifts or the donations placed in a box but he never saw other people doing it at the same time... and never saw the people these donations went to. Maybe next time I should take him to meet the people and give the donations or gifts himself.

It was certainly a good day for the both of us!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Getting Ready for The Waters

So in preparation for the second round of warnings, we had to reinforce our home yet again and take all our belongings upstairs to the second floor. 

Although we had a cement wall built outside every entrance to the house we also needed to take care of other openings in the windows and slits in doors that would allow water to come through. We have never done anything like this before and so the only thing I could think of was to place some plastic sheets under the doors and in any crack I could find. I also wrapped our table legs with plastic as you will see in the pics. 

Will let you know if all this works... the waters have flooded the area which is only one street over. The beginning of our Soi (small street) is already flooded but we are crossing our fingers that it will not go deep into the residential area as that is where our home is.

Our slit windows with plastic sheets covering them. Not sure how long it would hold if the water did come and it is above a meter.

Our Table legs wrapped in plastic.... Just in case!

Our empty shelves... the place just like when we first moved in... no actually it looks even barer than when we first moved in.

The cement wall in front of all our house entrances. We have four walls of this sort... so every time we walk in or out of the house we have to climb over this. An in convenience yes, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

These are the sand bags at our front gate... they will be organized better once we hear the sirens go off.

The plastic sheets to fill the door and window slits.