Monday, December 15, 2014


Each and every day, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and immense love for these two. I love our walks to school together, talking and laughing. Catch them both in the most perfect light and with those two small hands covering his, and it's the perfect start to my day. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa in the Jebels

It's that time of year again--the time for Santa to come and visit us here in our town. Each year, he arrives via a different mode of transport, and this year it was by a golf cart that was decked out like a train.

And each time I think that Sojo is about ready to stop believing, she surprises me with a flurry of joy and utter belief. When she saw Santa on his way, she ran ahead and was jumping up and down like crazy. It was beautiful to see her ponytails flying with such delight.

Last year, we had a bit of drama because the presents Santa gives on this day are almost all the same for the girls and for the boys. When Sojo received her present for girls, it was a kit of makeup and sparkly stickers. She was so disappointed and felt that there was no way Santa could be real because, if he sees everything, then why would he ever get her that kind of present that she hates? Um...good point. I explained that for these big gatherings, he has to give the same present, but we would fix it for next year. We made sure to let Santa know this year that Sojo would better enjoy a present he normally gives to boys.

The spy kit was a huge hit!

This is our third year of having our family photo taken against the stunning backdrop of jebels and blue sky. We do not have many traditions, but I do love this one so. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Digging for Roses

A very cool geological formation called Sand Roses exist here under a certain portion of the desert a few hours from our house. We have wanted to go and dig for the "roses" since we got here, and we finally went last weekend. It took us a while to find it, but once we found the rusted-out, upside-down car, we hit the jackpot. Literally. Holes everywhere in this one area with roses already taken out of the ground. Dale insisted on starting his own hole in a different area as he didn't want to cheat. Notice the rusted car in the background.

The trip was great for the kids as there was pretty instant gratification in finding the roses. Once you dug about waist deep, you could feel around with your fingers and wedge them out. They are pretty fabulous to see. 

And then, the camels came to play. They were completely enamored with our group and super friendly. I love them so very much, but I do have this fear they will spit on me. I'm starting to think that is just not true as we see them all the time, and they never spit. Their herder also loved hanging out with us for a while. 

We brought home about 15 of those beauties and cleaned the sand out of the grooves to display all their loveliness. I'm sure this will be a yearly trip for us. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold Hard Cash

Mom and dad made the difficult decision to head back to their home in Arizona after three months here in Saudi, and so we had to rearrange our plans of having Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Instead, we decided to throw them a Thankschristmagiving event at our house. Sean, Katherine and Augie came down, and we decorated the house, ate a whole turkey and had all the fixings. Not as good as the real thing, but it sure felt nice to have 2/3 of us together.

Mom and dad decided that, since they didn't have a Christmas present yet for Sojo, they would give her some of their Saudi money. The plan was that she could use it for Legos since that was what they were planning on giving her. If you could have seen her face when she saw the cash--it was priceless and quite possibly the coolest gift she has ever received. Totally gobsmacked. 

Not even how can we compete with that! 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Repurposing Yet Again

One thing I love about our family is how we can repurpose something and make it feel so special. Living in places where there aren't materials needed to make something or else no store to buy it at has made us pretty resourceful. I enjoy watching Sojo take pleasure out of something handmade and slightly wonky versus something purchased from a store.

Enter our latest project--the "new" basketball hoop outside our house. We noticed this awesome hoop set back in a little alcove down the street away from the houses, but we also noticed that no one has been using it. Well, except for one of our dear middle school boys who carries a basketball with him wherever he goes, and he takes a shot on the way back to school after lunch.

Dale and I decided to drag it back to our house and see if anyone said anything. We also asked a few neighbors to see if maybe it was theirs, but their kids had grown up and moved out or something. One neighbor laughed and said he and his friends had dragged it from another area on camp years ago, so we felt ok about repositioning it.

And what a hit it has been. From Sojo practicing her shots to tons of games of Horse with us to it now being the hangout place in the area for kids of all ages to come and have a good time, it's downright perfect. Just one more reason why this place reminds me of my own childhood. We played in the street all the time growing up. I distinctly remember moving out of the way when cars came up the road, only to start right back up again when they left.

And the diversity in this community is downright dreamy for me as a parent. In this photo alone, there are 5 nationalities represented with two more on the sidelines of the photo. So cool.

Friday, October 31, 2014


It's that time of year again when we can walk to school and enjoy a cup of coffee while doing so. The shift is so subtle here at first, but usually by November 1, it's like a switch is turned on for cooler weather.

No matter the weather, this one is almost always riding her bike to school. As always, I love to watch her fly away on the bike ahead of me, pumping those growing legs of hers.

So much here in our tiny town reminds me of my own neighborhood growing up. My childhood was absolutely idyllic and something I wasn't sure existed in this new world that seems much more fearful than when I was a child. Until we arrived here. Many days, I feel I am reliving my childhood and very grateful that my daughter gets a chance to live the carefree life I did years ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


When the weather is not unbearably hot here, we try to walk to and from school. Sojo tends to ride her bike, even if it is scorching, and she always beats us home, no matter what our mode of transportation is. Waiting for us is soooo boring for her. Poor thing--the whole 3 minutes behind her that we are...

So, for her 8th birthday, we decided to give her a key to the house so she can get right inside after school. My parents bought her a few cool key chains, and she was incredibly excited to get her very own key. Like I said, this birthday was a big one in the area of feeling grown up, and the key was proof of that. She carries it on her backpack now to and from school with such pride.

I swear she is like I remember being when I had the key to my first apartment. Giddy. She raced ahead of me the other day, opened the door by herself, and then stood there smiling so big. I had to have her reenact it for a photo as it was that precious. 

8 is pretty darn great. And the birthday seesaw has also proven to be a big hit, especially hanging out with a good friend and laughing away in perfect afternoon light.