Friday, January 31, 2014

Our apartment ~ with Ranya's touches

I have previously given a tour of the apartment where we live. All four of us are tucked away in a one-bedroom apartment with a three-quarter bath. For months we have been making the best of a rather small space that is only getting smaller as the kids are getting bigger, and in the past few weeks I have found myself challenged my managing the space.

We have added more toys acquired in Beirut for JR's birthday, a walker for Yousef now that he is mobile and a pack-and-play for Mama's peace of mind while she is cooking. The space saver high chair has found its place on a borrowed desk chair and the extra "dining" chair has since become a stool for JR to reach the bathroom sink. I consolidated the boxes we had shipped and brought us down to two boxes that are situated in our "living room." The suitcases have either been stuffed into a useless closet, under a humongous side table, or behind the bed. Our shoes have relocated to the outside of our apartment and are tucked away in a dresser and are sharing the hall space with the rest of our boxes containing donation items. I had spotted others making use of the common space to store household items beyond bikes and trikes and roller blades and thought to do the same. After all we only have so much room to move.

Jeff and I share the one closet that has shelves; he has one and a half shelf and I have one shelf. Yousef's car seat takes up the bottom part of the closet and our towels and sheets and stroller blankets take up the remaining half shelf. The other closet has a bar for hangers and it contains Jeff's work pants and shirts as well as JR's car seat. On its shelf sits the gym bag and yoga mat. Yousef and JR share the one dresser that we have, each taking up one and a half drawer. We have two other drawers dedicated to our hats, gloves and scarves as well as bibs, baby towels and other odds and ends. We finally got around to having enough hooks for our bath towels and PJs. We are still in search of a coat rack but I am comfortable tucking our big jackets unto the floor of the closet in an effort to keep clutter at a minimum. And we are yet to solve the problem of dirty laundry piling up behind the door. The radiators have been serving me well as drying racks for wet mittens, gloves, socks, and underwear.

The kitchen has also acquired a few extra utensils in the past few weeks but it has been easy to find storage for them; after all I only have a handful of pots and an equal number of plates and bowls and cups. We still do not own a cutlery organizer as none of the ones we have found fit in the narrow drawer that exists. So, our forks and knives and spoons take up the first shelf in the two kitchen cabinets that sit on top of the sink. My new rolling pin, the cake pan and the tea pot that we bought after returning from Lebanon have joined the rest of my appliances either underneath the sink or on top of the stove. The electric toaster oven that took months to arrive sits on top on a TV stand that has been converted to a fruit and vegetable caddy, and its top has become a place for the multitude of water bottles and cups that we use throughout the day. We also bought a fruit bowl for the table in an effort to make eating fruit more accessible.

The multitude of food items that I brought back from Lebanon with me stand as my pride and joy. The two kilos of Tahini, the Falafel mix, the Magi soup, the Instant noodles (yes, we eat processed foods and I am not about to defend my food choices), the pasta (yes, I brought pasta with me but that is another story for another time), the Pomegranate Molasses, the Rose Water, the Cafe Najjar, the Zaatar, the Nido, the spices and the sweets, the candy and the cookies, and others have been stored front and center in my pantry. I reach for them often and I am so glad I found a way to bring them along. I had to leave a bunch of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a couple of toys behind in Beirut to make room for the food but at the end of the day I am certain I made the right decision. These consumables and perishables are for the time being my most valued possessions.

I reorganized the one shelving unit that we own and created more space for odds and ends to be thrown in there. I moved the hazards away from Yousef's reach and created a shelf for JR's homeschooling material. The fireplace that is of little use to us with a toddler and a 4-year old has been transformed into a toy storage area and I used an extra sheet to cover up its guts. Our broom and dust pan stand in one corner by the fridge and our trash can has been moved to its top. Yes, I put the trash on top of the fridge to keep it away from the curious reach of Yousef. Of course I could have put it in the cabinet underneath the sink, which may seem the most logical place for it, but that space is taken up by our extra bottles of locally produced sparkling water and our UHT milk.

JR has assisted in "decorating" the place by placing stickers on the walls as she pleases. I gave her complete artistic freedom in choosing the stickers and their locations. I hung up my "phone book" alongside the intercom that does not work on top of the dresser that houses the kids' clothes and that takes up half the hallway. We bought a night-light in Beirut and super-glued it to the outlet by the bathroom door and outside the bedroom as it kept falling out. JR climbs on top of the drawers to reach it and turns it on at every nap and bed time. We also bought a few outlet covers from Beirut in an attempt to baby-proof the place and have used only a couple seeing how few outlets we actually do have. I took down the lamp shades to make the place brighter, much to Jeff's chagrin as he thinks exposed bulbs are dangerous.

The place is feeling a little more "together" than it was a few months back but it still feels like just a "place." It needs a lot of work to render it more comfortable and "decent." The broken couches still need to be replaced, the walls need a fresh coat of paint, the woodwork needs repair, the windows need weatherstripping, among other defects that need to be addressed. But for the time being we are making do. We are number 7 on the wait list for a 3 bedroom apartment and number 11 for a 2 bedroom. I see it as highly unlikely that we will be here in time to move to any of the other options, seeing how there is no formula to when or how the movement happens and how our moving to Ifrane was never a permanent move. So, until we are able to head back to America, I will continue doing the little things that make me want to hang out in this apartment and continue trying to make it feel warm and welcoming and "uncluttered."

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