Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chapter Book Love

Sojo is in love with the Magic Tree House series, and Dale happily reads her a few chapters each night before she goes to bed. I love that we waited for chapter books until she was really ready for them, and now she is on the edge of her seat (bed? bathtub?) each night, waiting to see what will happen to Jack and Annie in their latest adventure. Lucky for us, we even had a Scholastic book order all the way over here in Saudi. We figured that while living in the middle of the Arabian desert, it certainly makes sense to buy the whole set of books! They look awesome on her shelf, all just waiting to be devoured. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Three months into this move to the Middle East, and I am enchanted. Not to say the transition has not had its share of bumps, because it most certainly has.

Nonetheless, I am enchanted.

Enchanted with crisp, white robes and red-checked gutras set perfectly atop mens' heads.
Enchanted with roadside family picnics and hookah smoke in nearby parks.
Enchanted with the Egyptian women I have met, so vivacious and glamorous with their double kisses and colorful headscarves.
Enchanted with lines of camels far away in the desert.
Enchanted with the discovery of how much one can connect with people, even if you only see their eyes.

This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called Red Brocade has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It is even more poignant now that I am living in this land of graciousness. 

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Creativity, 21st Century Style

Nothing like a little iPad app creativity for our iPad lover. Sojo got so into this project that she spent about an hour creating her own iPad app, explaining it to me along the way. In her words, "you have to shoot a letter and then the B does 'bombing' and the C does 'clamming'  like that." I love, love, love that she gave her own app a 5-star rating (we always read the reviews together before we buy an app).

My task was to then take her ideas and truly turn them into an iPad app. I investigated how to do this, but it was way beyond my tech capabilities. Perhaps I should patent the idea, though...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dipping Our Toes in the Gulf

This weekend, we took our first trip to the Persian Gulf, which I believe is called the Gulf of Arabia here in Saudi. There was a company-sponsored raft race, and so a bunch of girls in the community joined. Families were welcome, so we all piled in a bus and drove about two hours to another camp to spend the day. It was beyond wonderful to be back at the beach after our beach life in Thailand. Sojo was in the ocean all day long, and the gaggle of teacher kids who were also there made it extra fun.

The raft race was a ton of fun. They had welded together old oil barrels, and we rowed like mad. This is one of the things I love about our camp--there is a big fitness group here and lots of events are organized.

Since this is a company-owned beach, the rule is that women can wear swimsuits, as long as they are one-piece. Well, walking around in a one piece with shorts on was horribly uncomfortable for me. Since Saudi women are required to wear the abaya at all times, most young men never actually see a woman in real life. The only way I could feel like I wasn't totally exposed was with a t-shirt and shorts on. Even with that, the teenagers were trying to find ways to get photos of us. Quite comical that 15 year olds were scamming photos of 40-something women in t-shirts and shorts. 

This will be the first of many beach days, we hope! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More T-Ball

This week, I went to T-ball practice to help out and take some photos. Dale and a few other teachers are the coaches, and they did such a great job organizing all those kids. That is a lot of little people--a bunch of whom are in my K4 class where listening to instructions is something VERY new! *

We got there first, and Sojo graciously took the time to explain how baseball works to me. Um...thanks. It was hilarious as she stood on home plate and walked me through the whole thing. Here she is showing me how you run to first base.

The best part, of course, is watching these two together. Something I could do all day and want to do forever. She's such a good listener, and I know that Dale adores being her coach. My heart might just burst with how I feel about these two being my family. 

*Dale asked me to be a helper this week and be in charge of the throwing station. Of course, I agreed. However, after spending an evening herding small children after a whole day of herding small children, I politely offered to be the cheerleader and photographer from now on. Thankfully, another parent was hoping to be a helper. Whew! 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Six was a different kind of birthday. A transition birthday. Meaning that we have no shipment yet that has tons of birthday fun toys and goodie bag stuff. Meaning that we truly live in the middle of nowhere with no car at the present moment and no way to go birthday present shopping for the gorgeous child. Meaning that popo and gong gong were not here to make the birthday super fun and much fancier than this mama ever does. Thankfully, we were still together as a family and Sojo found a remote control dune buggy one day at our small store on camp. We bought that right away, knowing that the surprise element is not that important to her. Whew!

At the end of it all, she had a good day--we had cake for breakfast and went to the dining hall for lunch. Sojo loves Saudi food so much and finds that she can eat more of it with her allergies. There was so much soy sauce in Thailand that it left her little to choose from. Here she is in culinary heaven, munching on turmeric chicken and wood-fired bread. Just today she said to us, "You know, if there was a cooking contest between America, Saudi and Thailand, Saudi would TOTALLY win!" Too cute. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012


Someone had a blast on her first night of baseball practice! Even better, her sweet, sweet baba is the coach of the little ones. I skipped the first night, but I was told I missed out so I'll be there with camera in hand for this week's practice.