Thursday, February 22, 2018

Growing Up

Oh, this girl is growing up, and it is beautiful to see. After years (and years) of little sleep, she is now "sleeping in" and groaning about waking up--just like a proper pre-teen. Hence, the morning photo here.

As this is the time of life where kids deal with identity and are figuring out who they want to be, Dale and I both in awe of Sojo and how she embraces her uniqueness and believes that she will not change who she is just because it is the cool thing to do. There are times when I see her fierce loyalty to herself and tell her that many people struggle for years to get to the point she is at now.

But, wow, I still can't believe that she sleeps.

Friday, February 16, 2018


Living overseas her entire life, Sojo is a native English speaker, but there is a twist in some of her English phrases. Somehow, she has missed out on some of the more random English phrases and idioms, and she gets them mixed up often. This cracks all of us up something fierce. We've taken to writing them down so none of us forget.

But, then it also makes us wonder why a phrase that is so close (but yet so far) makes it sound so ridiculous. Here are some of our favorites from the past few years:

"I have a dog in my throat."

"I'm as fit as a horse."

"It's my way or the skyway!"

"We got off on the wrong toe."

And, our favorite one happened one night when we were talking as a family about how we appreciate that we don't need a lot of material things to be happy. Sojo agreed, "I know. We are such simpletons."

We still crack up about that one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Soaking Up the Desert

As per Sojo's request, we are trying to get out in the desert a few more times before we leave this area of the world. This time, we decided to ask some friends who have never been in the desert (this tends to be a teacher or full-on North American thing to go exploring) to join us to share the beauty and adventure.

And, adventure it certainly was.

Starting with the camels blocking the road to the dunes. As we have to really go fast to get over the loose sand, we could not take the chance of gunning it with potential camels in the way. It left us no choice but to get out and check out the camels. Dale was mingling among them for a while, and they are very curious creatures.

This one was massive! And way too close to me--made me nervous. But, that smile and the sun rays were awesome. 

After we finally arrived (one person stuck at the start, which slowed us down), the dune jumping fun began. Sojo absolutely loved showing her friends how to do it, and I took a million photos of the teenagers to put on Instagram, which was really cute. 

One of our friends decided to leave early, but he wound up getting really, really stuck. Now, getting stuck is all part of the desert adventure, but this was not adventurous. He had three small, squirrely kids in the back. All the guys went to help him try to get out while the ladies stayed with the kids. At this point, the kids were begging to stay for the sunset, which was not at all our plan. 

Needless to say, we were there for the sunset. Again, so many photos of the kids in the sunset, and then we started to walk to the stuck cars before it became dark. The thing about the desert is when it becomes dark, it is like a light switch being turned off, and I certainly didn't want us all separated. 

Even though the guys spent the majority of their day digging out cars, it was a blast for the kids of all ages. And, the families who had never been before had a wonderful time.

Now to squeeze in a few more desert trips before the true heat arrives.

Friday, December 01, 2017

The Next Chapter

The choice we made years ago was to explore the world and understand as much of it as we can. As Sojo will enter middle school next year, we knew it was a good time to transition as a family to a new country. We had no idea what was going to happen, only that it was a good time to go. Our only requirements for a new school were that it was dynamic and creative and felt like a place that would feel all our souls. If that match didn't happen, our plan was to take a year off together in Mexico. Pretty good plan B that allowed for us to take the leap and quit our jobs before we knew what was coming our way.

But, as often does in life when we leave the doors wide open for possibility, an amazing opportunity came our way. We are moving to Prague, Czech Republic next school year. It's a place that resonates with us on many levels: the school is visionary and creative and committed to changing education, the country is lovely and beautiful, and the jobs for me and Dale could not be more perfect. I will be the elementary librarian and Dale has been given the job of various music electives, which is downright dreamy.

Of course, as parents, we were worried about Sojo and the transition, but we have been talking about moving for over a year now, so it's slowly seeped in. She loved Prague when we visited (think swords, forging on the street, loads of trinkets to buy and street bread), and she is very excited about the chance to be somewhere bigger. She is a different kind of soul who marches to the beat of her own drum--a beautiful thing in many ways, but sometimes hard to find your people. She is hoping to find more people like her and to explore the myriad of sports and activities the school offers.

Until then, we'll soak up the not-too-cold desert winter, camp a bit more, and enjoy small town living until a bigger city comes our way.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Memory Box

Sojo came across an old bathrobe she had Dale make for her stuffed roasted chicken (oh, roasted chicken! Such an old favorite of hers!), and that took us on this beautiful trip down memory lane filled with laughing about her quirkiness and remembering loads of funny stories from when she was younger.

She then decided we should go through all the memory box to check things out as it's been a while. I love, love, love this memory box and searched for years to find the perfect Chinese box. It has the clothes she wore on the day we became a family and tons of her writing from over the years. Plus, random stuff like "round pillow" and "square pillow" and Cowboy Chicken. As a parent, I adore how she knows exactly when she is ready to put something in the memory box and why it should go there.

And, more than anything, I am so very glad we kept so much of her writing through the years. She fully considers herself a writer and loves looking through her evolution of craft in different grades. From the hilarious drawings and invented stories when she was three to the voice and depth of her later years, we love looking back.

She is so big in this picture. And so big in real life. More and more, Dale and I find ourselves having deeper conversations about life and decisions and politics and people. So beautiful.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Reader

Seriously, this kid travels from room to room in the house with all seven Harry Potter books. She randomly chooses one and reads from anywhere in the books. It's hilarious, fabulous, and really heavy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Harry Potter Birthday

As Harry Potter fever is rampant in this house, we went with an HP theme this year. Actually, we've rarely had a theme. Ok, maybe we had a theme once in second grade. In fact, we are very simple when it comes to birthdays, and we're all fine with that. Last year, I offered to make a Minecraft cake for Sojo's birthday sleepover, and she said (with no snarkiness at all), "Um, don't start being a fancy mama now. I'm fine with my normal cake."

But, fancy mama I was for this birthday (and fancy baba as well). Many have asked about how we put together the party, so I felt it was worthy of a blog post of HP goodness. This was my first foray into Pinterest-land, and it was a blast for everyone. Two hours from start to finish, which is my kind of party.

Ok, down to the good stuff:

1. Platform entry. Easy-cheesy and super fun.

2. Polyjuice potion! The kids went crazy over this one, and I had to make two batches. Our town actually had sherbet, which is a rarity, so I also went crazy over this one. Just a clear bowl, sherbet (lime, if possible, but I used rainbow and no one cared), Sprite to make it fizzy and neon green food coloring.

3. Butterbeer! Warm a bit of apple juice and butterscotch syrup (more juice than syrup, but you want it to be butterscotchy tasting. I found tiny mugs and used those as it's a bit rich of a concoction. Add about 1/3 of the warmed syrupy stuff and then put ginger beer on top. Add a smidge of whipped cream. Not everyone liked this, but one girl had three mugs full!

4. Hermione's beaded bag. This one was Sojo's idea, and it was brilliant. She is fascinated with Hermione's beaded bag in the book that holds everything (tents, framed portraits, the workds!) but looks just like a regular bag. I had buy-one-get-one-free bag from Claire's, so we put a slit in the bottom, attached it to a table and put the game prizes in there. So much fun!

5. Pottermore quiz! Since all the kids were older, we had computers set up with the Pottermore quiz when they came in. Everyone took the test and then put their name on the banners we had up on the wall. We did tell them that if you got the house you didn't want, you could change, but everyone was excited. I had written all the positive qualities of the houses on the banners.

6. Horcrux Scavenger Hunt! I found this one online and tweaked it to make it easier (we were down to the last minute on this one before guests arrived). I hid seven items around the house and they worked together to find them. A huge success, even though it was pretty easy for older kids.

7. The Wand Ceremony! This was by far my favorite part of the day, and it was our grand finale. We had purchased white helium balloons and Sojo drew owl faces on them. Ahead of the party, we had ordered handmade wands to give as gifts and had them shipped to Saudi (although the DIY ones looks fun to make at a party). We wrapped them in the morning, and Sojo wrote a small note about why the wand had chosen that person. She listed three positive qualities about the person on the note, which was very sweet. At the very end, Dale went upstairs on the landing and "sent down an owl" with the wand attached to the balloon for weight. Sojo then read the card about why the wand chose the person and presented it. The kids were giddy!

Overall, we had an absolute blast, and I'm kinda sold on being the fancy mama.