Thursday, January 30, 2014


I love these two together. He lives diagonal from us, and they spend nearly every waking moment playing the iPad or playing random creative games. They go through phases where they get on each other's nerves and take a whole week off from playing together. Then one of them magically appears on the other's doorstep, and it's all good. I captured them one afternoon in the most glorious light. 

But most of their time was spent in weapons mode. It's kind of 'all weapons all the time' in our house of late. 

What he said about her to his mom makes me smile. "She's a girl....but she's also a boy." 

This also makes me happy--looking down the stretch outside our house to the nearby park and a treehouse. Downright idyllic. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


When we drive to the big city 2 hours away, we always pass these gorgeous jebels when we get to the halfway point.

Someone recently gave me a copy of the Boy Scout handbook to camping in Saudi Arabia dated 1985, and the jebels I admire from afar were in the book, and they are called Capistrano Wadi. My love for them increased with that cool name, and I organized a half day mini-adventure there with some friends. We thought we'd scope it out as a future camping spot.

The kids climbed and climbed and climbed, and it was beautiful. We met a few Saudis that were also hanging out in some of the wadi areas, but thankfully, we found a place just for us so the ladies in our group could hang out sans the abaya. 

Lots of other fun adventures in that Boy Scout handbook--an old camel caravan trail, walls of rock with mastodon bones embedded in them, and a place called The Edge of the World. Can't wait to explore more. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baby Bird

Over the break, Sojo wanted to have a few sleepovers. Her best friend lives diagonal of us, and one night they spontaneously decided to have a sleepover. Now, I don't know if it's because she is an only child or because we just spend so much darn time together, but having her leave for even one night is slightly traumatic for me and Dale. Of course, we love that she is becoming more independent, but we simply miss her when she is not here. There is nothing I love more than sitting and reading a book or hanging out with Dale and hearing her voice upstairs with a friend. Just knowing she is here brings us both comfort.

Dale's very tight grip on Sojo

Alas, that's not how it works in life. So, as she quickly packed her bag with stuffed animals, we were joking with her that she couldn't leave. Dale hammed it up and did this bit about her being a baby bird that couldn't leave the nest yet. Sojo was cracking up as she was walking away, saying, "I'm big now. I'm not a baby bird!" while Dale was at the window pleading with her not to go. It was exactly what I feel our family is--funny and with so much love.

Letting go at any level is always a challenge, though. I can only imagine what her going off to college will be. Good thing she tells us she wants to live next door to us when she is older--so she can still see us but have some privacy. I'll take even the dream of that for now...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Best Country Ever!

Our only jaunt out of the kingdom over the break was to neighboring Bahrain, Sojo's favorite country in the world. It's a mere 3 hours away, and we stay in a hotel that is attached to a mall (this is a big Middle Eastern thing, I think) so everything we need is right at our doorstep. In Sojo's eyes, this makes it the best country ever.

With only 24 hours there, we had some serious shopping and eating to do. There is a place called Stickhouse that sells popsicles Sojo can eat, and our favorites are the watermelon ones. They taste like Thailand. On this trip, I think she had 6 of them. Yum!

Our hotel's lounge had this super swanky, silvery private pod to sit in while sipping on a well-deserved glass of wine and a big ol' glass of beer.

Recently, they opened a PF Chang's at the mall as well (it really is all there at your fingertips!), so we stopped there as well. Usually the thing to do in Bahrain is to see a movie or two (little known fact that movies are forbidden in Saudi), but Sojo had zero interest, so we skipped it this time. 

According to Sojo, Bahrain and the US are so very close in their coolness. Like, SO close. She even showed me how close they are with her fingers--Bahrain won, but only by a fingernail. 

For me, the best part this time was the Winter Wonderland in the middle of the mall. It was the perfect mix of a wintry, somewhat holiday-ish feel that is so nice when you are away from home, but it also had a few cultural twists like the snowman wearing the gutra on his head and holding the Bahraini flag, and the fact that the sleigh had two somewhat creepy-looking dolls in it rather than Santa. 

That's what a Bahrain weekend looks like. It's definitely a nice getaway when you need something a bit less restrictive than life in Saudi. Women can wear what they wish, and I love that you can try on clothes in stores. I could drive if I had any desire to do so, but I'm not much of a driver. 

Only problem is that each and every weekend, it's where most everyone in Saudi goes, as evidenced by the line crossing the border on the way home...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Christmas Vacation 2013

Somehow the whole Christmas season has come and gone here, and we are getting ready to go back to school in a few days. Sojo was as happy as could be with her Furby doll and Magic 8 Ball that Santa brought her. Our big surprise of the desert quad was met with a lukewarm reception, but once we get her out there with friends, I'm sure she'll be more excited. If not, Dale and I will ride it!

There was nothing but playdates and iPad time and sleepovers and good ol' kid fun for Sojo, and Dale and I caught up on work and found lots of time to relax.

Here are some highlights of the holiday season of 2013.

This is the Christmas tabletop. Complete with every snow globe Sojo owns (Easter one and a Bali beer one included), our favorite Kunming doll that used to sit on top of the tree but has now been moved to this area, and the homemade golden magazine tree that Sojo made last year. And my favorite bird lamp that brings me joy each and every day when I turn it on.

I couldn't get enough of the funkiness of this girl over the holidays. 

We left out carrots for Santa as Sojo feels very strongly that he needs to lay off the cookies a bit. This is something she has done for years now. Rice milk and veggies. Love it.

Here is the quad outside waiting for her. We wrapped up the helmet and told her to go outside for the real present. At this time, she was WAY too into the Furby doll to even notice the quad. 

Here's Furby again. For a girl who has never been too into the whole nurturing thing, she is one great mama to the Furbster.