Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I adore our little family of three. Just adore it. Dale and I see having only one child as a fabulous thing--no fighting over toys, all our attention goes to her, less to save for college-- but we also acknowledge that there is possibly a missing piece for Sojo on some level. Being around her cousins of the same age during the summer makes my heart ache a wee bit when I think of just how much fun she has, so we soak it up as much as we can. This summer, we were able to help out by babysitting them for a few days. I had a blast being mom to 3 kids (that was kind of a surprise to me, actually, but I loved things like cooking pancakes for breakfast and serving it up to a gaggle of kids), and Sojo was nothing but joy, joy, joy. We're hoping to make the double sleepover a summer tradition.

Most of our waking hours were spent at the beach, using walkie-talkies, collecting rocks or playing the iPad. Oh, and eating ice cream as well. We've taken to having 'opposite night' a lot this summer--dessert before dinner. I rather like that order myself.

And this town. I swear I breathe differently here than anywhere else in the world. Like one big exhale. It just feels good to the soul. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Everything we have read about raising a child overseas says that having a sense of roots and home are very important. It is for that reason that we bought this house years ago. I love that we are back in our house in Port Townsend this summer after a year of not being here, and we are settling back into the house little by little. Sojo is awash in memories and happiness. We spend every morning going to our favorite bakery to get danish bites, Sojo's favorite food of summer. Here's a little trip down memory lane--I have all the photos except for the year she was 4. Love that I have taken this photo most summers.
age 2, the year we discovered danish bites

age 3, munching away again

age 4, i only have her skipping on the way to get danish bites. darn!

age 5, we made a special trip over get danish bites!

age 6, happy to be close enough for daily runs! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tucson Memories

Tucson in July is perfect---monsoons, less fierce heat and a warmer pool! We loved our time in Tucson seeing family and soaking up our summer traditions of swimming like mad and attending our local favorite, The Gaslight Theater, for some slapstick humor. Just up this girl's alley. 

Yesterday, when we were out, Sojo and Dale made a Tucson Journey of the Jedi board game, complete with all our favorite summer activities as places where you lost a turn. For example, if you landed on Olive Garden, you had to lose a turn and eat your yummy food. If you landed on a square with one of our favorite foods popo and gong gong make in the summer (veggie soup and bacon), you could go ahead two spaces.

We played the game last night and we all laughing hysterically at how often the game made us lose turns. It was the best night of the summer with all that laughter. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


We have this game that Sojo always plays the minute we arrive at a hotel. I think it started with one of those hotel note pads, but the game is called Principal. The premise is basically that I am the bad kid who gets called to the principal's office for some horrible offense that ranges from stealing someone's snack to pushing someone off the swing. Sojo is the principal, and every time I lie about what I did (I am forced to lie each time or else the game isn't fun to her), she shows me a pretend video of me being caught in the act. It goes on and on and on and on and on, but it takes up time in the hotel if we can't go anywhere. 

This last time in Spain, I asked her to make a sign for her office.* This is what she came up with.** It is worth mentioning that I have zero idea where she got the idea that principals are these horrible people. She has had only lovely people in her principal experience, but I guess it wouldn't be a funny game if the principal were nice. 

Here she is reading off my offenses from her notebook. There were so many...

*Is it me or does it look like the principal is giving the finger to the troubled child? Yikes!

**Way to rock the correct use of an apostrophe! Makes me proud!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Afternoon Desert Light

I love Tucson. The small town feeling, the funky colors, the mountains at every turn. We are here again during the very cool monsoon season, and we are loving our time with family. Tonight we went to visit my brother Sean and his family at their new house. We walked to the duck pond and reveled in the amazing afternoon light. Perfect for a mini photo shoot.

I missed Dale in this photo shoot, but he was being awesome dad and playing baseball with Sojo. Sojo had the chance to hang out with her favorite dog on the planet, Matthew. She took her dog walking responsibility very seriously. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Magic Island

We found an amusement park within walking distance of our apartment, so Sojo and I went to check it out the other day. She is just above the height line for big kid rides, so we dared to try a log ride called the Anaconda. It was hilarious to watch her ride that line between sheer terror and sheer glee. After we got off, we saw our photo from the ride, and we could not stop laughing. From the tendons in my neck jutting out because of my screams to her hands over her eyes, it was the perfect snapshot of her first scary ride.

Then we did this thing. We thought it looked really cool, but it was like being trapped in a sauna and neither of us could stand up at all. I motioned to the guy to get me OUT as I was feeling claustrophobic.  Shortly after that, we called it a day. 

What I really want to do all day is take photos of her in front of graffiti and the most amazingly colored walls, but she is totally done with that. 

Off to Madrid on the train this afternoon. We'll spend the night there before taking off for the US tomorrow morning. Adios, Espana! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Museum Blahs

As Dale is in class everyday from 9-1, Sojo and I are trying to do various things to explore the city without melting in the heat.

Our big outing was going to the contemporary museum. A purchase of some new art supplies and a Moleskine notebook were our preparations for the day--there were visions of us sitting in the museum, sketching what we loved and being fully inspired.

This is really what happened. Sojo is trying to show just how boring the museum was with her expression. She's dead-on.

The grounds were beautiful as it was an 18th century monastery, but none of the permanent collections were open (huh? The biggies were only open on the weekends for some reason), and of the travelling exhibits that were open, this is how they went:

Behind Door #1 (literally, the exhibits were in different rooms with doors): 

A bunch of buckets on the floor filled with cement grapes. Sojo was sure they were filled with poop and was properly befuddled by the artistic nature of this. I had to convince her they were grapes. Needless to say, we did not plop down with our art supplies and feed our inspiration.

Door #2: 

We had talked ahead of time how the human form is often drawn naked in art, and she was down with that. However, when I opened door #2, let's just say there were a large amount of drawings of solely the male human form, and one particular part of the male form. Whoa! An entire room full of you-know-what. We skipped that one but giggled about it later. 

Door #3: 

A photography exhibit by a Chilean woman with a sign outside warning that perhaps some people might be offended by some of the images. We decided to skip that one, and besides, Sojo was kind of freaked out at this point and found the sound of the door opening to be "creepy" anyway. 

Door #4:

There was one small exhibit of some surrealistic paintings that were ok. But, at this point, we were more than ready to abandon ship. I tend to constantly put a positive spin on stuff, but even I was ready to head out. 

At least they had some cool tiles. But, really, so does all of Sevilla. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When in Spain...

We are very routine people. I mean, very routine. Sojo is in bed between 7:00 and 7:30 every night, and we hit the pillow right at 10:00 or earlier.  I can fully admit that this is both weeknights and most weekends as well. We put Sojo to bed this early because no matter what time she goes to sleep, she is up at 6:00.*

on a mission to find paint peeled heart shapes

Imagine our surprise that Spaniards are just getting started when we are hitting the hay. Check out this photo at 10:00--there was even a child's birthday party in the square! 

Well, it's taken us only 48 hours to become Spanish. We've taken to napping in the heat of the day, and Sojo has been up until midnight the last two nights playing go fish with us! We're crazy like that. 

Somehow, we also forgot about the sangria in Spain. We quickly remedied that last night while we were out late like the locals. As cheesy as this is, we kept looking at each other and saying, "Can you believe how many people are out right now!?!?" 

*Sojo is sleeping until almost 9:00 after going to bed at midnight. Whew!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Full Circle

When Dale and I first met back in 1998, we became friends the instant we met in the Miami airport, both of us on our way to working in Venezuela.

Then we were more than friends. Then we were just friends again. And then, when we had done that back-and-forth dance too many times, we became nothing and went our separate ways. One of us in South America and one of us in Africa.

That part of the journey was not so fun.

After almost a year of not seeing each other, we were still very much on each other's minds. So, we decided to meet in Spain over the December break of 2001, to see once and for all what this whole thing was about.

Needless to say, we took that great leap of faith and embraced this crazy little thing called love. And it really has been happy ever after, maybe because we are both aware of how darn hard it was to get to the 'ever after' part.

On the train to Seville, riding along those same roads we travelled 12 years ago together, I was awash in nostalgia. It is even sweeter this time around now that we have Sojo with us to make more memories.

Monday, July 08, 2013

My Two Favorite Peeps

These two are as thick as thieves, and I love that. Both are currently obsessed (no other word I can use but that) with Minecraft on the iPad. It's super creative, which I love, and this is the two of them on the plane crafting away at their cities. Sojo is working on a load of various places to pray in her city: there is a church, a mosque and a meditating place.

The sun is up so late here that we are feeling very Spanish out and about at 9 p.m. We toodled around the city center a bit last night and soaked up the beautiful light. 

Sojo was not digging the heat (she's a dry heat girl for sure) and as Dale and I wandered, she used her time to find various mist systems she could stand under. 

And, finally, our sweet neighborhood. We are staying in a very non-touristy area of town called La Macarena, and I love the local feel. Nothing cooler than getting up early and searching for a good coffee, even if that coffee is terribly small for my American coffee loving self. Our apartment is in the groovy yellow building (this mustardy yellow color is everywhere here!) and Dale and Sojo are standing outside Dale's guitar place. If we opened the balcony doors, we could probably hear him playing. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Flamenco in Sevilla

gorgeous facade of the apartments!

One of the things we love about living in the Middle East is that most stopovers take place in Europe. We are taking full advantage of exploring Europe by taking a few days on either side of our summer trip, just like we did in December. This time, it's five days in Sevilla, Spain, for Dale to take a flamenco guitar class and an advanced Spanish class as well. Coincidentally, when I was booking an apartment, the one I liked the best was just a few doors down from the flamenco school.

So...after a total of 22 hours of travel time to get here, we are settling into our apartment for the week. It's tiny (I had to laugh at the size of the dishwasher--it's the size of some trash compacters in the US!) and adorable and perfect for what we need. Best of all, it has A/C as the temps are sky high and just as hot as Saudi. The whole street is as quaint as can be, but we have to wait for the sun to go down a bit to go and explore. Sojo is already a happy girl because the mom and pop store right next to the apartment has homemade bread she can eat. She's so easy like that.

of course, we are all in love with the color of the apartment.

a little game of war to pass the time
While Dale is having fun with his other two loves, guitar and Spanish, his main loves will be hitting some museums, an amusement park, and maybe even a movie if it's too hot. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

That's a Wrap

It's crazy that we have already been in Saudi Arabia for 11 months now. We have had such a good time being here so far, and Sojo is simply having a blast. As she said to me the other day, "There are really strict rules here, but the people are so nice." I second that. We've learned a TON of new cultural information to add to our knowledge, as well as having the opportunity to learn more about the Muslim faith. Sojo is becoming quite the world religion girl, but Buddhism is still the one she loves the most at this point in her life. 

Off to Seville, Spain tomorrow evening for 5 days of flamenco guitar classes for Dale and lots of cafe con leche drinking and toodling around for me and Sojo.