Hamoudi Mosque

Quick link: A Mosque, a Book, and a Banister

Today I’m at EthnoTraveler writing about learning the social and religious codes surrounding mosques, the Quran, and faith in Djibouti.

a mosque, a book, and a baniste1

Along with being an iconic building, the Hamoudi Mosque is considered one of Djibouti City’s top tourist sites. My suspicion is that this is because there aren’t many tourist sites, at least not in the city. Tourists mainly come to Djibouti for the snorkeling, scuba diving, adventure hiking, and rustic experiences available far from the city center. The mosque is as closed to me as a tourist as is buying a Quran. To get a feel for the building and the affection people feel toward it, I circle the mosque several times, looking, wondering, curious about what goes on inside.

A group of teenage boys pours out of the door after the evening prayer time. They slip into their black, faux leather sandals and scurry down the steps. One of them balances on the green banister and slides down, launching himself into the cacophonous street below…

Click here to read the rest A Mosque, a Book, and a Banister

How Teenagers and Toddlers are Basically the Same

Quick link: 22 Ways Teenagers are Basically Super-Sized Toddlers

Saturday Babble published my listicle about how having teenagers sometimes makes me feel like I am back to having toddlers.

Funny thing – the same week I sent this to my editor I heard three comments from parents about the exact things on the list. They compared the eating habits of teens and toddlers, the sleep habits, and one mother said the exact words you’ll find in #16 on the list. I have to say, it felt good to have those confirmations that it wasn’t just my own teenage/toddlers.

teens and toddlers

How are teens like toddlers?

1. Without insane amounts of sleep, they turn into raging monsters.

2. Their stomachs are insatiable black holes.

3. They have funny things on their faces — for toddlers it is that red ring of juice, for teenagers it is acne.

4. They throw tantrums, especially if needs #1 and #2 go unmet.

5. They don’t have anything to wear unless mom washed the pink tutu or the special blue jeans…

Click here to read the 17 other ways (and I know parents could probably list dozens more): 22 Ways Teenagers are Basically Super-Sized Toddlers

Fear, Muslims, and Franklin Graham

Quick link: Afraid of Muslims?

Today I am back at SheLoves Magazine to join them in an important conversation, a response to Franklin Graham’s recent inflammatory words about Muslims and immigration. Others have already written beautifully on this, most notably Marilyn Gardner, this piece simply aims at starting a conversation.

Did you know that an American in America is more likely to be killed by their refrigerator than by a Muslim terrorist? Are you afraid of your fridge?

Fear, Muslims, and Franklin Graham

Are you afraid of your toddler? Are you afraid of your dog?

Are you afraid of Muslims? I say “Muslims” instead of “terrorists” because, as media outlets and Franklin Graham apparently want us to believe, the two words are synonymous.

Franklin Graham seems to believe we should be afraid of Muslims and that we are at war with Muslims both in the US and abroad. A few weeks ago he said immigration needs to be closed to Muslims, that we are under attack. He isn’t alone in this kind of ignorant fear-mongering. Over 160,000 people liked his Facebook post.

In the United States in 2013, three people were killed by terrorists (who were Muslim), all three at the Boston Marathon. That same year, five people were shot by gun-wielding toddlers, and about 34 died of dog bites.

Why didn’t Graham insist we prohibit toddlers inside our borders? Why hasn’t he called for a moratorium on dog ownership?…

To read more and to join the conversation, click here: Afraid of Muslims?

*”Ground Zero Mosque Supporters 4” by David Shankbone from USA – Ground Zero Mosque Protesters.


Being the Mother of Teenagers

Quick link: A Day in the Life of a Mother of Teenagers

Today at Brain Child, my essay looks at the question of whether or not a mother is relevant in the life of her teens. This was obvious when the kids needed me for simple survival, but now? How much does mom matter? Also, a bit about the challenge (what happened to all the food?) and delight (they have such great senses of humor) of raising teenagers.

a day in the life of a mother of teens

My summer day starts at 5:20 a.m. when I push open our squeaky metal gate and go for a run just as the sun begins to emerge. A rose-colored ball slithers through pockets of the gray clouds that still hover over the Gulf of Tadjourah, tinting them pink. Normally I listen to Longform podcasts—interviews with journalists—while I run but this morning I couldn’t find my iPod. I set it out last night, in the armband and with the earphones, all set to go. This morning it was gone. I could probably find it near the pillow of one of my teenagers. I also planned to eat a banana before leaving the house but those were gone, too. I could probably find a banana peel curled around the iPod.

Djibouti is hot, this morning the temperature already registers as 42 degrees Celsius, that’s 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It is so humid my moisture-wicking shirt shows a line of sweat before I even walk outside the house and by the time I get home, sweat flying from every pore of my body (did you know eyelids sweat?), the only comprehensible thought in my mind is of the banana-orange-mango juice popsicles in the freezer.

Except…they’re gone. The popsicle box (still in the freezer) is empty. The countertop is littered with yellow and red plastic popsicle sticks with enough residual juice left on them to attract dozens of huge black ants. I would make a smoothie with frozen strawberries and ice cubes but the ice cube trays are empty, the bag of strawberries, though still in the freezer, is also empty. Who puts empty ice cube trays back in the freezer? Empty bags of frozen fruit back in the freezer? Teenagers.

To read more, click here: A Day in the Life of a Mother of Teenagers


When Kids Cheat

Quick link: But Mom, They’re Cheating!

This weekend Babble published my essay about cheating and helping my daughter respond when other kids cheat as well as helping her check her own heart.


My daughter takes tennis lessons twice a week and on Fridays, the kids are on their own. A supervisor is present at the courts but there is no official coaching. They divide themselves into age and gender groups and play pick-up games until dark. My daughter is 9 years old and has played, and fought, with the same group of five or six girls now for three years.

Oh boy, these kids can fight. When there is no adult watching to call a ball in or out, to call a serve fair or not, to regulate who plays against whom … battles ensue. Girls huff to the benches and hide teary eyes or furious teeth-clenching behind their water bottles. They shout and wave their hands and throw balls and kick rackets and make accusations.

The accusations are always about cheating…

To read more, click here: But Mom, They’re Cheating!