Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Bucket List

My friend Amy* posted her summer bucket list for their family, and I love the idea. This morning, Sojo and I hung out on the back porch and made our list before it got too hot to be outside. Seriously, could that grass be any greener? I'm in love with the shadows and the super greeny grass. And the kid, too, who cracked me up with our summer list. There are 7 items that are food-related (we totally miss certain foods while being overseas--salted caramel latte, here I come!!), and one random one of 'go to a hotel and relax.' Um, isn't that what summer is all about?

Still four weeks to go until summer begins for us, but we are getting ready! 

*Amy's blog is so full of love. I adore reading it. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Family Day

Family Day is such a beautiful day, and I love watching the years add up that we have been together. This year makes 6 years together--6 years of fun, laughter, quirkiness, tiredness, challenges, travel and adventure. We remember that first day like it was yesterday. How I was so nervous I almost threw up, how we brought nothing but a book with us thinking that we were really just picking up a kid, how we were in awe of her from the start, and how she truly looked at us like she'd been wondering what took us so long.

Such love in this family. Fierce love that I am aware of and grateful for each and every day. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First Baseball Season

This girl will never again have a first baseball season. It ended yesterday on a hot afternoon but with the most perfect late afternoon light that made the grass perfectly shiny and limey green.

Some thoughts on Sojo and baseball...

*She was such a great listener and truly showed she is ready for team sports.
*Girl has got some mad baseball skillz! Throwing in the perfect form, running like the wind, and hitting the ball really well. 

*There was such focus when she was in the outfield--always ready for the ball. I may have been imagining this, but it also looked some meditating?? This was her 'ready position' a few times.

*She is so strong, this girl. And she knows it. 

*Eating cheese pizza with your baseball buddies is awesome! 

*Having your baba as the coach is so lucky! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013


As we enter the hottest time of the year, the sun is now up around 4:15 or so in the morning. I am an early riser, and this is what I see out the window each day. When we first saw on a map where our house was located, it was a bit unsettling to be on the edge of the compound. Little did we know it just meant we had a killer view of the dunes. Simply stunning to watch the sun creep across the sand early this morning...

Sneak peek of the last day of baseball season. Mostly because my mom can see a desert backyard any day of the week, and she's really here for Sojo.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


We recently had our International Week at school, and it was a beautiful representation of the diversity in this community. Part of what we did at school was have parents come in and read in different languages. One of the stories Sojo attended was in Korean, and the parent showed a youtube video of a Korean song called Three Little Bears. To say it was a hit with Sojo is an understatement. She watched the video over and over and has now memorized the song entirely. At least, I think she has, but since I don't speak Korean, I don't really know. It certainly sounds like it...

We have a friend who is Korean American, and we decided to sing it for her on our favorite green bench one afternoon. Note the random pot of camel bones on the table--very Arabian of us!

*I do so love the word polyglot. It almost sounds offensive until you see it means that you speak a bunch of languages. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cutie Patootie

I was informed by Sojo that it was now okay to eat Cutie Patootie, so we had watermelon slices for days. Strangely enough, it was a bit like living on a farm. Thanking the watermelon for being a pet, but now it was time to eat him. Very strange indeed. And yummy. 

We also headed off the other night to check out our local soccer team. Most of Sojo's friends play soccer, and she is often complaining there is no one to play with on soccer days. We suited up and headed over to find no coach there for the little ones. Before we knew it, Dale was the coach of the kiddo soccer team. Sojo had a blast and was a great listener and player. This means Dale is now coaching teams for Sojo three nights in a row. Although I know he'll be tired, he loves doing this with her. Such an amazing dad, this guy. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Some Things Never Change

Ever since Sojo was fairly tiny, she has developed attachments to random inanimate objects. There was the wagon one summer that became our dog Herfy, invisible camels that came home with us from the playground and her seemingly insatiable love of gourds as friends. I kind of thought she had moved out of that phase. That is, until I came home from the grocery store the other day with a big ol' watermelon. There was an instant love connection with Sojo, and she asked/begged/pleaded that I not "cut up her best friend." Yikes!

Welcome, Cutie Patootie, to the family. In true Sojo fashion, Cutie Patootie was given a place at the table. There was a big decision on what hat to wear while he ate some chicken.

Then we made him a bed on the floor and tucked him in. 

As we headed out to dinner the next night, Sojo really wanted Cutie Patootie to come with us. Um...seriously? Bring a watermelon to a restaurant? But come with us he did, much to the amusement of everyone else at the restaurant. I do love how she is not phased at all by the weirdness of bringing a pet watermelon to a public place; it just affirms how she looks at the world in such a different way. And I also realize that part of the reason she can do that is because Dale and I let her embrace that wackiness. 

I love that we are the kind of parents who bring a watermelon out to eat. I hope to always be the parent that appreciates how groovy she is. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bollywood Beauty

Oh, the show was so beautiful...and funny...and sweet. The girls did a great job of remembering their moves (albeit backwards sometimes for Sojo), and the crowd loved them. There were a lot of shocked friends seeing Sojo in a dress for the first time (seriously--she wears leggings and a t-shirt every single day), but she handled the attention quite well. 

I snapped this photo because it illustrates the beauty of this place where we are living. Those Arabian rugs for everyone to lounge on and the group of beauties from three different countries (Malaysia, Venezuela and China/US) posing for a photo are such a testament to my love of multiculturalism. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sneak Peek #2

Today, I brought home two borrowed Indian outfits for the show tomorrow, and Sojo's job was to pick her favorite. I tried to be as casual as possible while helping her get dressed as she really does hate the concept of dresses right now. So much so that even a t-shirt that is a tiny bit long "feels like a dress" and is taken off. This was her reaction to choice #1:

Absolutely adorable but teeny tiny. In her own words, "Is this it?!? Is this it?!" I was cracking up. 

Outfit  #2 provided a bit more coverage and a bit less bellybutton, and it won the contest for what she will wear tomorrow night. We pulled out my basket of bindis, (I'm a bit of a sucker for bindis) and she chose a fancy one to wear on her forehead for the dance. She looks stunning, even if she is fighting me off from taking a photo. I love how you can see her in the mirror. 

One more since it might be years until we see her in a dress again...or at least years until we see her looking serious in a dress...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sneak Peek

A certain cutie will be dancing for our International Fair evening this week, and she was practicing today.

Best part--it's a Bollywood dance! She is mentally preparing for wearing a halter top and skirt, which is completely out of her current comfort zone. So far, no freak outs about that, but there are still a few days left. At least she is stoked about wearing a bindi.

This afternoon, I snuck into her practice today and took some shots. Sometimes she was right on cue and other times she was doing the exact opposite. Who cares?! It's so cute!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Same Same

Love how 'same same' these two are while watching Star Wars together on the couch.

And, yes, it's another excuse to show the yellow wall. As I said to Sojo the other day, "If I weren't married to your baba, I just might marry that yellow wall." She thinks I'm crazy.

Friday, May 03, 2013

A Reading Family

I hosted the first of hopefully many Books & Dessert evenings at our house the other night, and it was such fun (and yummy!). It's a casual type of book club where you bring a book from your shelf that you can lend. Sojo usually attends the beginning of the evening when we talk about what book we brought and why it is so great. She shared her book about chameleons ("it's a learning book and a not-learning book"), and one of our kindergarten teachers decided to take it home and share it with her boys.

But the best part was the sign she worked on with Dale upstairs. She paraded around the guests and shared the reading love.

When she headed to bed, she wanted to put the sign in her bedroom window, with the words facing the street. That way, in her words, "everyone will know we are a reading family." Swoon. That kind of stuff just makes me so happy. 

The following morning, she added a cool detail. The bookworm is reading a book called Wonder, which is an upper elementary/middle school book that is absolutely life-changing. I'm guessing Dale and I talk about it a lot since Sojo said to me, "See--the bookroom is even reading Wonder." 

Oh, and I'm sneaking in a photo of our new sunshine yellow wall in the living room. I am completely distracted in life and want to do nothing more than just stare at it. It's so beautiful and bold! 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Why We Live Overseas

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." 

The wise Mark Twain wrote those words many years ago, and they hold true for me every single day of my last 20 years of travelling. I am constantly learning and letting go of old ideas.

Living in Saudi Arabia has been nothing short of fascinating these past nine months. Dale and I really wanted to come to the Middle East as the next stop in our journey as living in an Islamic country was a missing puzzle piece for our learning and living. Another big reason we wanted to live in an Islamic country is that I was downright weary of being told by the media and others that the Middle East should be feared and is a bad place. It just didn't feel right, and I wanted to learn for myself by living there, to speak from my own experience rather than parroting what I heard on the news.

And learn we have. Take our family bowling afternoon last weekend. The only other bowlers were a big extended Saudi family, and we had the last lane. I was not covered but as we are on camp, it is ok. However, all the other women were, and it did feel a bit awkward. At one point, the patriarch of the family came over, offering sweet bread and cardamom coffee to us. He said, "You are welcome."

Those three words, "You are welcome," are the most common words I've heard in the last nine months. Saudis are gracious and kind and love to double-kiss on the cheek and lounge in the park with their families and picnic. Obviously, there are issues with women, but there is hope in the air and change is occurring. Hope is always uplifting.