Sunday, October 16, 2016

Out into the Desert

Sojo often tries to drive Dale crazy by talking about how she much prefers the "brown, brown desert of Saudi" to the glorious forests of the PNW. And drive him crazy she does. Whether it's because she has spent most of her memory years here in Saudi or she's just cheeky, the desert does it for her.

As the weather is starting to cool off a bit, we headed out for our first camping night. I love how in Saudi, anything under 95 is considered cooling off, but the nights are downright glorious right now. I wasn't really prepared for the chilly night and didn't bring enough clothes for Sojo or me.

Since our camping trip was also our staff social, there were a gaggle of kids up and down the dune for hours. Even the next morning, I awoke to giggles and voices in the dunes, and, when I came out of the tent, I saw a bunch of them running at the top of the dune having a blast.

Sojo loves to dune jump (and also loves to forget to change her clothes when she gets home so all that sand generally goes right into her bedroom and bed), and I took a bunch of series shots to get the full picture of jumping.

Whilst I love dune jumping as well, I love coffee even more. My luxury coffeemaker makes every grownup happy on the camping trip. Propane-powered goodness right there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


This fabulous girl is turning ten today. Her idea for a birthday party this year was to have three girlfriends over for a sleepover--three crazy friends, as she put it. On the menu was roast beef, make-your-own-pizza and roasted broccoli. We dragged mattresses downstairs and made a huge sleeping area, which was adorable to see them all chatting into the night on their beds.

Cake-wise, she cracked me up. I thought maybe I'd branch out a bit and make some sort of creative cake like a Minecraft or Terraria one, but when I asked her, she replied (with a deadpan face, I might add), "Um...mama, you've never been a fancy mama before. Why start now? Just make a cake." Well, all right then, definitely makes my life easier.

That is one of my many favorite things about this girl--she is so darn easy to please. She needs very little and definitely isn't looking for a Pinterest mama. Thank goodness.

Ten. Wow.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Discovering a New Part of Bahrain

Whenever we need a weekend away, we tend to head to Bahrain, but we are so routine that we normally stay at the hotel attached to the mall. It's easy: there are movies, shopping, and great wine at the hotel lounge. This time, however, we branched out and headed all the way to the tip of Bahrain to a new hotel for us, the Art Rotana. And it was gorgeous! A huge fountain that did a musical display much like that of Dubai, four pools, the beautiful Gulf right there, and a lot of kid waterpark fun.

Here's the swanky marina right next door and a part of the heart pool. Those yachts are just parked there. Also, way in the back of the photo are the "new" islands they are making. This is fascinating to see machines take sand from the bottom of the ocean and create new islands from them. Much of Bahrain is made like this.

The best part of the weekend, other than Sojo going with friends this time and having a blast running around, was that we rented a jet ski for the first time ever. We've always wanted to do this, but it's never come to fruition until this weekend. The water was amazing blue, and we got there early before all the crazy drivers came out to play on the jet skis. Sojo was kind enough to share some of her time with me so I could also get my first ride.

The weekend felt like a real getaway, and we can't wait to go back. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


A few summers ago, we decided to take advantage of our beautiful forested areas nearby and do some summer hiking.

When my brother and his wife came to visit, we wound up driving over 2.5 hours to get to a national park, and, although it was beautiful, it's kinda far to go. At least we had good company.

Little did we know that a gorgeous hike around a lake was just ten minutes away from us. That Anderson Lake was our last hike of the summer, and it was a beauty.

We love our town so, so much. Glad that one day on the beach, we found this log that shows someone else feels the same way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fourth Grade

After what seemed like a pretty long summer vacation, we are back to school. Sojo started fourth grade yesterday, and the shift in maturity and the growth spurt in the last few months have definitely indicated that she is an upper elementary girl. Her new teacher is quite the techie, so she is excited about that connection.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Port Townsend is a peninsula, so there are lots of different beaches to choose from and all are close in proximity. I adore that there are so many: there's the sea glass beach with great tidepooling, the beach by the ice cream shop where Sojo and her cousin made their own parkour course this summer, the best driftwood beach by the marina and the skipping rocks beach by the coffee shop. We make it to the beach just about everyday in the summer, and that is downright dreamy to me. Sojo is often crazy enough to even get in the very frigid water for a bit.

Feeling homesick for beaches now. Our two lives are so vastly different. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Pits

This summer, the cousins and Sojo took full advantage of our local skate park and improved their BMX skills. On top of that, they wanted to go in "the pits," which are the advanced skating areas. This was freaky to me but very cool to them. Their goal was to get out of the pits in an American Ninja Warrior , warped wall sort of way. It was definitely a good exercise in persistence, as well as good exercise in general. Sojo woke up the next morning with sore arm muscles, which seems like a perfect thing in the summer.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

That's a Wrap!

Another school year is coming to a close, and third grade is done and dusted. We teachers work an extra week after the kids go, but that still means vacation for Sojo. And, as she is getting more and more independent, that means she can stay home by herself instead of coming to work with us as she normally does.

It was the best year ever for her, and she has a renewed spark for learning. Her teacher was so good at celebrating everyone and making them feel wonderful and capable. Sojo, not often a gushy kid, wrote her teacher a letter that said: "Thanks for accepting me for who I am." Truly, at the end of the day (and at the start of the day as well), that is what matters most and what helps kids succeed.

One more week before we are off to Port Townsend for some hopefully cooler temps and loads of family time.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Nine Wonderful Years

Lucky for us that our Family Day occurred over a long weekend, so we drove over to Qatar for a vacation by the sea. Nine years together. Wow. I can no longer say that it feels like yesterday because it doesn't feel like yesterday; instead, it feels like the most beautiful, slow-moving passage of time together. As always, we are grateful for this special girl to be our daughter.

Highlights of the weekend included seeing the new Angry Bird movie, loads of pool time, and her first-ever milkshake. That one was a big hit!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mother's Day Tea

Sojo's teacher is so into celebrating them and others that even we parents are reaping the benefits. She organized a Mother's Day tea yesterday where we were escorted into the room by our child and sat at a table filled with cards and gifts.

Sojo's job was to serve me. It was adorable and hilarious at the same time as you could easily tell that almost none of the kids had ever actually made a cup of tea for anyone. The lady next to me wound up being served a cup of cold milk with a tea bag thrown in by her son. Sojo did pretty well and remembered that I drink my tea super sweet. We also had donuts. Then, when she was done and still wanted more to do, she convinced me I needed a coffee now. And another donut.

In true Sojo style, I had asked her in the morning if she was excited about the day. Her reply was no. When I probed at to why not, it had to do with the fact that she had to serve me. She is nothing if not honest. After the tea, we debriefed and she admitted that she did like serving me. I could tell the whole time as she was a total lovebug that day.

Sunday, May 08, 2016


Since Sojo was little, she has hated wearing dresses. Just hated it. When she was old enough to express herself, she let us know this. So, long ago, we stopped buying her dresses and asked others to do the same as they just sat in the closet. Plus, as Sojo says, "You have to be who you are." True that, kiddo. She has her own style, and she is happy with it.

So, this year, when her class was writing persuasive speeches, she wrote hers on gender roles. The kids literally got on boxes to share their speeches with the school, and it was glorious watching her share her views on gender with others. At the end of the day, her message was to accept people for who they are, not what they wear or do. Plus, she despises how stores have signs for toys that are boy toys and girl toys.

Seriously proud of her conviction at such a young age. I can only imagine what she will be like as she ages. Extra cute bonus points for dressing up by wearing a tie.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Living Wax Museum

Sojo's class has been studying biographies and world changers. She has always been a fan of bios, but this time around, they had a choose a person to study closely and "be" during their living wax museum. Sojo chose Sadako Sasaki, a girl who lived through the Atom bomb and then died later of leukemia. Sadako tried to make 1000 paper cranes as this was a Japanese custom that would allow your wish to come true. The Peace Park in Hiroshima has a statue of her with her paper cranes. The kids had a speech ready and when they finished, they froze as if they were statues. It was sweet and fabulous. She is loving her third grade year, and we love seeing her share her writing and reading so much.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Prague in Spring

Our spring holiday usually involves spending time with some of Dale's family, and his mother joins us in Europe somewhere. That sounds incredibly decadent, I realize, but Europe is both a decent-priced and a decent-distance from us here in Saudi. Plus, I never did Europe in my twenties, and I find it much nicer to do in my forties. We are taking advantage of the beauty!

This spring vacation, we headed to Prague; unfortunately, though, Dale's mom could not join us as her husband was not well. Dale's sister and Sojo's cousin joined us, and the girls had such a good time together.

Most of our days were spent walking around town and exploring in the newly spring weather. Sojo's cousin wanted to take a horse-and-carriage ride, so we did that together. Sojo loved the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Strong Girls

Being a strong female is very important in our household, and we talk about it often. I remember when we first moved here and Sojo was in kindergarten, we would watch one of the high school girls ride her skateboard down the street to school. All three of us loved it, and this girl was one that Dale and I considered such a good example of a strong, beautiful girl who was so comfortable with herself at 15. 

Cut to a few years later, and I now teach that girl's sister, who is now 15 herself, and she sometimes rides to school as well. She is yet another girl who is strong, intelligent and confident: all the qualities we wish for our own daughter. 

Of course, being a strong girl is more than riding a skateboard, but it was quite beautiful (and quite full circle) watching Sojo practice on her new skateboard last weekend. As with all things requiring balance, she picked it up crazy fast, and she was ready to board to school this week.

I walked behind her, marveling at how she is such a strong young person: so confident in who she is as a person and what she has to offer to the world around her.

On another note about her confidence, she is currently working on a unit in school about persuasive speeches. They are calling it Soapbox for Change, and her two topics she is going to present on are "The Power of Adoption" and "Gender Roles." Wow. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Snuggling Up

If Sojo had her way, she'd sleep with us every night. Not that there would be room for all of us with the mountain of sleep friends she takes with her, but she would do it if we let her. Instead, we have our beds situated in such a way that we can see each other down the hall, and that works for her. She does have a big fear of being alone, and being able to see each other eases this worry for her. 

However, this week has been weird sleep-wise. I was gone for a night at a middle school overnight trip, and now Dale is in the US for a few days to attend his mom's 75th birthday. So, Sojo has been sleeping in our bed. And taking up a lot of room, I might add. Here she is with all her friends and all her pillows and all her loveliness. She's like what I imagine sleeping with a dog is like: all cuddled up next to my body warmth and giving me little room. The best part is when she stirs in the night, she usually says, "I love you" every time. 

Friday, February 19, 2016


Ok, so now we have a number of members of our family with the prefix 'Gilga': the original Gilgamesh stuffy, Gilgakesh, Gilgazesh, and our newest member, Gilgaflesh.

The third graders recently finished a unit where they studied crayfish, and each person was able to take home a pet from school to keep. Our gal, Gilgaflesh, is feisty and has a mean right hook/pincer.
She is bringing us lots of joy, and Sojo reports that she is more exciting than that boring goldfish we had once.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chat Time

I love when Sojo rides her bike next to me when I walk to school. It's literally a six-minute walk, but it always seems like a quality chat time for us. Truth is, I like it even better when she walks with me because she holds my hand. I never, ever tire of her grabbing my hand.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cham with the Fam

Lucky us to have had my entire side of the family gather in the uber-quaint village of Chamonix, France for a bit of holiday fun. We rented a chalet that was divine: a wall of windows looking out at a hanging glacier and the Alps right at our fingertips, a beautiful rock fireplace that was well-used on the chilly nights, and simply being in one place for the impromptu family time of card games and fireside chats.

There was no real snow to be had (that is, until two hours after we left the village--bad luck!), but we still had a good time riding a mountain rollercoaster, walking around town, and, of course, partaking of the baguettes, sausages, cheese and wine of France. This is a country I could go back to again and again.

Can't forget about Sojo's love of doing parkour (outdoor climbing/jumping) around the world! Made  even better with sparkly legwarmers my mom brought her.