Friday, November 29, 2013

Cool Boots

Definitely the best book I've read all week...

Oh, the 29,000 dollar boot story. 

I was looking for a fabulous pair of boots for myself for our Paris trip, and Sojo spotted a pair in the store as well. Since she literally never wants anything related to fashion, I somewhat impulsively bought her the very cool black boots. But they were so expensive and so 'these-will-only-last-a-season' that I was totally horrified, but then I's Paris! Come on! Once in a lifetime with her grandparents! How cool that her mom bought her boots for Paris!! I made her promise to wear them at least 10 times to justify the cost, and I also mentioned that it wasn't really necessary to say that they were so expensive.

Of course,  she went ahead and told everyone they were expensive AND wrote a book about it! 

I do swear they did not cost 29,000 dollars. And she did look so darn cute in them walking down the streets of Paris. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Best Friends Day

I've been wanting to write this post for so many years...

Long ago, like when Sojo was probably two, she invented a game called "Happy Best Friends Day." It was a simple game with two objects (could be any object--2 cars, 2 small toys) and each person held an object and played. The game, in its early stages, went something like this:

Sojo: Ding Dong.

Me or Dale: Yes, who is it?

Sojo: It's me.

Me or Dale: Hello.

Sojo: Happy Best Friends Day!!

Me or Dale: Happy Best Friends Day!!

Sojo: Ding Dong...

And then it started again. Same words, over and over and over. And over.

Happy Best Friends Day rocked when we were travelling because she didn't care what 2 items we held as long as we could follow the script.

Cut to the present day--5 years later!--and Happy Best Friends is alive and well, albeit evolved over the years. Now, it is any sort of pretend play that we do together as a family (the rule in her mind is that only Dale and I can play this game, and Dale is better at it, according to her). We now use her extensive Hot Wheels collection and blocks to create much more elaborate scenarios with bad guys and night monsters and all sorts of crazy stuff, yet I adore that she still calls it Happy Best Friends Day. 

I also adore that last weekend she asked Dale and me to play because, in her words, "I've been playing a lot with my friends on the weekend and maybe we should spend some time together." 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Camel Market or Bust

For my 44th birthday, all I wanted was to go to the nearby camel market to get some shots of these beauties. However, we were too new to the country and could not find the market at all, so the trip was a big bust. This year, for my 45th, we found the correct directions and headed out with two of my girlfriends to take a gazillion closeups. 

There weren't as many camels as we had hoped (found out later that we had yet again gone to the wrong place, but at least this time there were some camels!), but we had the place to ourselves save for a few camel workers, and we had a blast taking photos. My favorites are the chocolate brown ones, mostly because the contrast of that color against the sand is gorgeous, especially when viewed from afar as they plod across the desert in a line. 

The whole thing took about 10 minutes, and we three ladies made it a full-on photo shoot. Noticeably absent were Sojo and Dale, as Sojo chose stay in the car and play the iPad (cringe...) instead of enjoying the beauty, and Dale stayed with her. My favorite was my friend Kate convincing me to go closer and closer to the camel to get a good shot---I've heard spitting camel stories and did not want to add that to my list of life experiences, but I love the nervous face on this one.

Already thinking of where to explore for my 46th...

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I turned 45 the other day. Technically, that is probably about the halfway point of my life. Wild.

Getting older fascinates me, and I often forget that I am indeed getting older. Many years ago, a dear friend--a woman who was as wise as I was not-- and I sat at our favorite cafe in Quito, Ecuador and made a list of all the things we loved about our bodies, from head to toe. This was her idea, and she was so darn refreshing and open and okay with herself. I had never met anyone like her before--or since. It was one of the most beautiful lists I've ever made, and her way of looking at herself is how I have tried to look at myself ever since.  I try really, really hard to live by those kinds of positive lists in my head instead of fixating on negative things (yes, I'm talking to you, hijacked metabolism!).

Focus on the beautiful, the little things like...

how my hair is so darn curly and flowy here, now that I have given up blowdrying it

how I love my ruddy, freckled skin even if it wrinkles faster than other types

how chambray and silver jewelry look so pretty against those freckles 

how I am so much stronger physically than I was 20 years ago

how the lines around my eyes are there all the time now, not just when I smile, and yet I still think that they look beautiful and wizened

Thank you, Sharon, for teaching me to honor myself and to focus on the beauty so many years ago. I carry that lesson with me every day. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

True Love

Our favorite lover of all things inanimate is at it again. I seriously can't wait to recount all these fixations when she is older. This time, it's her big plastic egg, Eggie. She was determined to have Eggie come and watch her play soccer one night when I was on my way out for a run around camp. She convinced me to babysit Eggie instead (yes, really...) and we carried him in the 'fish pocket' (I made this sling for her when she was little, and she still calls it the fish pocket). She carried him to practice, and I humbled myself enough (true love, baby) to carry said Eggie in the sling while I walked around the track for exercise with a friend.

When I think about it, she kind of sounds like one of those kids I remember who ate paste at school. But somehow she manages to be really quirky and doesn't cross over to the eating paste side. She's confident and funky and it does seem like this stuff just makes her a bit cooler. Or, I'm kidding myself and she's a whackjob (our favorite family word of the moment). I vote for funky. 

Adding one photo of the green area next to our house as it looks out at the desert beyond. When I take out the garbage at night, the moon is often there, peeking between the palms. It is stunning. As the afternoon sun goes down, it also catches my eye. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

And the Glorious Season Begins...

It's that time of year again in Saudi. The time when you realize that living with 120 degree temps is worth it for the next 5 months of glorious weather. It will soon be chilly enough to drink coffee while walking to school, and we're soaking it up. The quick 7 minute walk is one of my favorite times of the day, and I adore watching Sojo walk or scooter ahead of me. Yesterday she brought her Chinese dragon along for the walk. The light hit both of them perfectly.

Just noticed that "Cheeto Fish" puppet came along, too. This is what I love about Sojo--she is so incredibly random and creative. She made that tiny puppet at the end of art class one day when the teacher gave them a bit of time to create something. She then found a Cheetos sticker and put it on the fish. Hence, Cheeto Fish. She's had it for over a year now and loves it. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Learning Curve

Living in an Islamic country is completely new to us, and our learning curve is immense. One of our main reasons for choosing to live in Saudi was to gain a sense of understanding of the Arab world by living in it. Thus far, the hospitality we have heard of for years is very, very true. From coffee to sweets to double kisses, Saudis are sweet and always offering something.

I love this section of our bookshelf. Although I'm a sucker for any portion of a bookshelf, I love this section that shows all we are learning here. It's downright fascinating.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

What I Enjoy

Sojo showed me her silhouette art project in the hallway at school the other day, and I loved the list of things she enjoyed. Look closely at the middle part--as she told me, "I was the only one who put something in like that." We are seeing that she is really into being who she is and is very healthy in taking breaks from friends who are not treating her the way she wants to be treated. Pretty please keep that your whole life, sweetie--it takes many people years to get to that place.

*Naz is nood als is 'Naz's noodles.' We have this lovely friend who makes Sojo a Malaysian dish that meets her food requirements, and she loves it. Sometimes Naz even delivers a batch to our door for no reason. Such kindness and yumminess. 

And I can't resist one more Paris pic. There are times when I see a glimpse of what she will look like when she's older. This was one of those times, and it is oh so beautiful. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween has never really been Sojo's thing--she just isn't into it and tends to last a short while before quitting and passing out candy. This year, she and her friend Eamon went off on their own to visit a few streets close to us while Dale and I passed out candy. I truly love living in a small, super safe community where I didn't feel worried about her going off without a parent as we have the 'raised by a village' thing going on here. And I knew she'd have a blast with her friend. Sure enough, two streets later, she came back and said, "I'm fed up." Not in a snarky way, just done. She did wind up going out a bit later to a few more houses, and she was stoked that most of the candy she got was stuff she could eat. (I do think part of her antipathy of Halloween is due to her allergies and how she can't eat much candy). Perry the Platypus was happy indeed.