Old meets New, the Flusche Family at Bahrain Fort

Old meets New, the Flusche Family at Bahrain Fort
Life overseas can be an overwhelming and exciting adventure.
Come be swept away with us in the Kingdom of Bahrain!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unintentional Fasting...

... I don't recommend it, ever! ;)

At this point you may be scratching your head asking how one "unintentionally" fasts. THAT, my friend is a good question.

My day started out like any other, at around 7:00AM I had a bowl of Oatmeal Square cereal and a big glass of water. Then on with the day. However, today was not like "any other day" AND it is Ramadan AND I live in the Middle East... see where I'm going with this?

So off I go to "Meet the Teacher Day" at Tanner's school for our 9:00AM appointment. Luckily Gavin spent the day at the CDC on base giving Tanner the opportunity to see the classroom and let him familiarize himself with his new Kindergarten digs. It's there that I learned the school planned on having an open house at noon-thirty (today). This was not in my plans for the day because I had already arranged a play date for Tanner with his friend Kai and an afternoon movie. I figured we would have a leisurely lunch on base somewhere in the middle of the two activities. The "Lunch Gods" however had plans of their own (insert evil Lunch God laugh here).

You may be thinking who cares, it's just lunch. No biggie right, Nina does it all the time. I however am not Nina, and this is NOT Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tanner (thank God) had lunch at Kai's house and I just figured I would catch something after or at the Open House... nope. Then I thought well maybe one of the 50 eateries or coffee shops at the mall would be open (PQ had been staying open and closing the curtains as not to offend the fasting public but I guess someone put the kibosh on that)... nope. Perhaps I could scrounge up a hidden snack in my car, surely Gavin had dropped a handful of stale Cheerios or Goldfish on the backseat, right? Again... nope.

So the next best thing I figured would be to stop at the grocery store "conveniently located" at the mall and pick up something I could eat discreetly at the movie theaters and all would be fine. I grabbed a bag of almonds and thought I could carefully eat the nuts without being caught (remember in Bahrain eating in public during daylight is a finable offense and could land you in jail during Ramadan). I figured the theater would be dark and the bag wouldn't draw any noisy attention. Well I guess I was past the point of hungry because all the almonds did was tie my stomach in knots.

That is how I found myself BACK at Carrefour (grocery store) following the movie to buy a bag of sandwich rolls and eating one in my car under the steering wheel with Tanner almost in tears afraid I was going to be arrested for eating in public. Oh, the drama of it all. Can you just "see" me hiding in the parking garage, lunch roll in hand, sweating in the 110 degree car and looking over my shoulder like a criminal? Ridiculous.

It's now 9:15PM and I am still sick to my stomach... I honestly have no idea how the Middle Eastern Muslim public can fast in this extreme heat, with no water and still function. I was so nauseous and had such an incredible headache that I was afraid to drive my car home.

I kept thinking - "Geeze Jann, this was only one day and YOU ate at 7:00AM long after Ramadan fasting begins (3:00AM) AND you had a handful of almonds AND you ate your forbidden sandwich roll an hour before Iftar (6:30 PM, the breaking of the fast) what's wrong with you, people all around you have been doing this for a month already - GET A GRIP!" Sorry, no grip here! I'm all out of grips at this location. Nada, zilch, none.

I don't think I would have the stamina to fast day in and day out for 40 days 3:00AM-6:30 PM. That being said, I guess something positive came out of my experience today though, I can now identify and FEEL the physical pain of the sacrifice that my Muslim friends are going through at this time of fasting. It is very uncomfortable and it does give you (like it or not) the "opportunity" to feel the very real pain of the hunger felt by so many everyday in this world. I would not however say it is wise to drive.

Ramadan Kareem.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Silly Beaded Babies!


Gavin was so happy to have Paige Caroline (his best friend and future wife) come over to play Sunday night! Costumes, Action figures and Dinos OH MY!

Needless to say this Mommy needed a BIG nap! ;)

"Sign" of the Times!

Tanner has been a sign-language-learning-fool this summer!

Tanner attended the Children and Youth Program's Day Camp this summer and for about 5 weeks the children have been learning the words and sign language to the song "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly. About 45 kids performed the song at the End of Summer Celebration yesterday afternoon for their parents and peers. I'm a VERY proud Mommy, he worked very hard to learn the signs and you could see his seriousness as he sang the and signed the words. It was so important to Tanner that he had us look up a website that had hearing impaired children signing the song so he would get it "just right" - now THAT'S dedication! Hope you enjoy the show as much as we did!

*** My video disclaimer*** I filmed the video with my regular digital camera while holding Gavin, sorry if it's a little shaky ;)

Tanner attended VBS (Vacation Bible School) last week and had an amazing experience. It still makes me weepy when I think about how lucky we are as Christians to be free to publicly worship in a Muslim country. Yet one more reason we are blessed to be stationed here in Bahrain. Earlier in the day Tanner and his friends from Vacation Bible School performed two songs with accompanying sign language at the conclusion of Friday's church service. They were adorable, wearing the flag T-shirts they hand painted and singing their little hearts out! Tanner's at the right side of the stage in front with Maggie Childers on his left.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

That's How We Roll!

Some times we have to get creative when faced with day after day indoor parenting (ooops, I mean playing, yeah, playing). The ridiculous Bahrain heat being as it is, we have made our living room into what our Corpus Christi driveway once was... a place to ride bikes and be pulled in the wagon. Tanner enjoys taking his trike for a spin around the pool table and Gavin has decided that wagon rides are the greatest mode of toddler transportation.

Recently Gavin "discovered" Elmo. We just started watching Sesame Street in the morning when Ramadan started. Gavin displayed an instant liking for the furry red muppet and noticed the Elmos that have been patiently waiting for someone to break them out of the dust covered toy box. Somehow while Tanner was a tot we acquired 4 of them, each one about half the size of your average 4 year old, each a gift from family or friend.

We have: (in no particular order)

1) A plain stuffed Elmo
2) Hokey Pokey Elmo
3) Tickle Me Elmo
4) and last but not least Espanol Elmo (very handy in a country that primarily speaks Arabic) LAUGH!

Gavin thinks they are ALL hilarious and carries them ALL around with him... they look like the Gavin groupies! I've never seen an 18 month old with his own wide eyed, red haired entorage!

If Mary Popins backed a box...

... she still wouldn't have anything on my Mom! Grammy has become famous in this house for her "Box of the Month"! The kids come down stairs in the morning, see the white box and can hardly eat their breakfast because they know what awaits them. FUN, surprises and still more fun!

I split the tape and set it down on the floor and the kids went WILD!

It used to be that Tanner would tear into the box and hand Gavin something after he had time to examine it... NOW however, it's Gavin who's throwing elbows and body-slamming his way in to be the first one to see "the goods" (laugh)!

This box carried the theme of Summer Fun: floating pool toys, dive sticks, delicious candies, ice-pops and lots (and lots) of cool indoor reading material for both boys! Gavin's favorite part of the box was the Elmo DVDs!!! Gavin recently "discovered" Elmo and has decided that Elmo is his homeboy. He enjoyed the "Elmo Uses the Potty" DVD and now has decided he wants to remove his diaper (OH-NO!!) Laugh!

Now armed with the coolest pool toys ever the boys wanted to try them out. After playing in the kitchen sink for about 30 minutes Tanner declared "Mommy we MUST go to the REAL pool and REALLY try these toys, REALLY try 'em in a deep pool" (guess the 12 inches of sink water was not going to cut it today). So we packed up and headed off to the Marina Club where I am proud to announce, they REALLY are the coolest dive sticks I've ever seen... REALLY (giggle). There is a whale, squid, shark and dolphin. Each creature has a neoprene tail so it gives the illusion that they are INDEED swimming - very cool!

Gavin and Tanner have both enjoyed the new books. Tanner can read most of the "early readers" on his own, doing so makes him feel very proud of himself. Me too, I enjoy watching him when he gets to display his cool-dude-ninja-reading-skills!

Thank you Grammy for the great box, it came just in-time before this Mommy pulled all her hair out trying to entertain a 5 year old and 18 month old during Ramadan who have clearly spent too much time indoors! ;)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan has beun and for the next 40 days Muslims the world over will be fasting (the fourth Pillar of Islam) as a sign of their devotion to Allah. During Ramadan gulf area Muslims fast from around 3:00AM (before the first light of day) until 6:30PM (when the last light of day has vanished from the sky). Many Muslims use the night hours to celebrate with friends and family where they enjoy great feasts. The first breaking of the day long fast is called Iftar (locally around 6:30PM). Traditionally Iftar meals consist of assorted nuts, dried fruits and light snacks. The second meal is called Suhoor which locally takes place around 9:00PM onward. Suhoor can go on into the wee hours of the morning and is often used as family time.

Last night 18 of our friends from the squadron got together for an Iftar buffet at the Novotel Hotel. It was there that we enjoyed a beautiful spread ranging from dates and nuts to lamb and other local favorites. Tanner and my friend's 4 year old daughter Maggie joined in on the feast and festivities, all had a delicious meal and fun visiting with friends!

Durring this time of Ramadan other courtesies must be followed and are strictly enforced by local law enforcement. There is to be no consumption of food or beverage in public during times of fasting, those found even drinking water (in the 115 degree heat) could be fined BD 500 (roughly $1400). No gum, no smoking - nothing in the mouth - period. It's odd driving around and seeing all eating establishments in Bahrain closed during daylight hours, even places normally open 24 hours like McDonald's. The only places that serve food are hotel restaurants to care for those traveling.

Clothing is also affected during this time of Ramadan. For all non-muslim women our bodies must be conservatively covered: shirts must come past our elbows, pants past our knees. Men must wear pants, base has asked all male personnel to wear collared shirts in public as well.

Shopping establishments as you can imagine hold very different hours during Ramadan. Many stores and shops (obviously grocery stores) are closed during daylight hours but open all night. It's as if the society has flipped their day and night. It should be an interesting 40 days, I am prepared to stay home most days and venture out only in the evenings.

When I first moved to Bahrain I had countless cultural questions, I am fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers and friends who have shared much. For my Christian friends who are curious (as I was), below is some information copied from Muslimah's Homepage on Islam:


To do this one must simply state publicly "Ashadu alla ilaha illa Allah, wa ashadu anna Muhammed ar-rasool Allah".
This means, "I bear witness that there is no God other than Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammed is His messanger."


Offering of prayers is obligatory upon every Muslim who is sane, mature and in the case of women free from menstruation and confinement due to child birth. some requirements must be met in oreder for the prayer to be valid. Prayers are required at least five times a day. Other obligatory prayer include the Friday congregational prayer, Eid prayers and the funeral prayer. Times of the five daily obligatory prayers:

1.Fajr-Before sunrise.
2.Zuhr-After the sun begins to decline from its zenith.
4.Magrib-Just after sunset.

In addition one is also encouraged but not required to perform prayers during the day and night. Prayer should be offered in its due time, unless there is a reasonable excuse. Delayed obligatory prayers must be made up. In addition to the prescribed prayer, a Muslim expresses gratitude to Godand appreciation of His favours and asks for His mercy all the time. Especially at times of, childbirth, marriage, going to or rising from bed, leaving and returning to his home, starting a journey or entering a city, riding or driving, before or after eating or drinking, harvesting, visiting graveyards and at time of distress and sickness.


Obligatory charity giving is an act of worship and spiritual investment. Zakah does not only purify the property of the contributor but also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. It also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead good-will and warm wishes for the contributors. Note that Zakah is obligatory. Muslims can also go above and beyond what they pay as Zakah, in which case the offering is strictly voluntary (blessing will come to those who wish for his brother what he wishes for himself).


Fasting is abstaining completely from eating, drinking, and intimate sexual contacts from the break of dawn till sunset. It is a matchless Islamic institution which teaches man the principle of sincere love to God, creative sense of hope, devotion, patience, unselfishness, discipline, etc. Obligatory fasting is done once a year for the period of the month of Ramadan. Fasting during this time is obligatory on every muslim adult if he is mentally and physically fit and not on a journey. Women are allowed to skip a fasting day due to menstruation, and while nursing a baby which needs to be made up at a later time.


It is obligatory to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime. Muslims from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca in response to the call of Allah. It is to commemorate the Divine rituals observed by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael, who were the first pilgrims to the house of Allah on earth: the Ka'bah. It is also to remember the great assembly of the Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah. Muslims go to Mecca to glorify Allah, not to worship a man. The visit to the tomb of Prophet Muhammad at Madena is highly recommended but not essential in making the Hajj valid and complete.