Friday, December 19, 2014

Why No Blogging? Perhaps it's the Homeroom Mom Gig?

Yes, I copied this idea from Pinterest.  Its supposed to be a reindeer, but
kind of looks like a muppet?

I have not blogged anything here, or at my photography site since completing it in October.  That is a long time for all the randomness that floats around in my head.  I'm surprised I didn't burst in some kind of rage.. Or maybe I did.

For everyone, this time of year is really busy. Work is busy, the holidays are busy, trying to advocate for diabetes is busy, being a mom is busy, taking your kid to school is busy, keeping your diabetic cat from attacking your pumpkin cheesecake is busy.. and then some.

One other thing that has kept me busy was the gracious "nomination" to be my son's homeroom mom this year.  Nomination may not be the right word, but about one month into school I received a phone call one day. "So you've volunteered to be the homeroom mom."  Me - "No, I did not volunteer".

For those not familiar with the Home Room Mom, or Class Mom concept, it is basically someone that helps the teacher out with activities and recruits parent volunteers and such.  I have no idea how this tradition got started, and I am baffled it exists here because all teachers have full time assistants.  I appreciate everything they do, and it is not like they are not busy.  I just wonder when the need for a third person to do all this extra fancy stuff became necessary.

Something tells me the internet could have helped it along. Forums and such for moms to share their super mom abilities could feed this phenomenon. And now we have Pinterest with all those amazing ideas that people add to their boards but have no time for.

The woman on the phone was the pack leader of the homeroom moms and went into this long detailed explanation of what the job required and how rewarding it is.  Yes, rewarding it is.  I was one of three last year and this worked out great. However, I was not planning to single handedly take on this task with a full time job and everything else on my plate.  I am very involved in my son's life and activities, and I am not sure I am the right profile to do this for a whole class.

Every year a form goes out asking for volunteers.  I politely completed it telling the teacher I could not fulfill this position, but I am happy to help when I can.  What resulted was basically a call for volunteers to step forward and everyone took one step back but me.

Somehow my message was misconstrued.  In the same way people thought Milli Vanilli could sing their own songs back in the 1980s, someone thought I was crafty and available.

While I enjoy doing things for my son and being involved in his life while he still thinks it is cool, I would be lying if I said I did not wonder why more moms who do not work do not volunteer for this position.

When I made a list of supplies needed for a request for a snowman pancake party and distributed it, the amount of volunteers for plastic cutlery was astounding.  These other moms are very nice, and really I get that we are all busy.  However, 80% of the moms volunteered for plastic cutlery.  I don't mind, but then this left me with the trouble of trying to lobby for the other "cool" items on the list that were not chosen.  Do I just assign the fruit salad? Ask? Beg?

The other moms are incredibly "impressed with the amount of bags" I bring to a class function.  And shocked when they learn I work too, and I did not buy the pancakes.  One mom even feared me because she forgot the strawberries for the snowman's nose!  While I paused internally, its nothing that can't be resolved with an extra blueberry and a smile, or raspberries that the teacher felt compelled to bring because she happened to have them!

Thanks to the internet and Pinterest I delivered AND found a craft.  I could never dream up these crazy things on my own, but copy one? You bet!  I was not the kid that cheated in school, but in adulthood, cheating on a craft for school.  No ethical dilemma there.

So happy busy holidays to you all.  We are having a few friends over tonight.  Seems I told a friend the gathering was last night.  I must now make sure that was not the case for everyone and someone shows up tonight to eat all this food!

Amazing I remembered the pancakes!

One of the masterpiece pancake snowman

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I did it!

I have not posted for three weeks.  With much going on, and much to say, I have also been working on launching my photography website.  While I love sharing it here, I thought it would be nice to get more of those images off my hard drive and document them in a website.

For now, I will continue to keep my writing about Life here.  Or, possibly post it in both places for a while as I will blog there as well.

I have been pouring my thoughts out here since 2008!  It is not something I am not ready to drop just yet.  And, writing my rebuttal to all that media discussion in Dubai about how people with nannies or hired help are just lazy is really cooking in my head.

If you have a few minutes to click over to Pamela Durant Photography, I would be very pleased to hear your feedback.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Safa Park

Safa Park April 2014

My heart broke a bit today.  There is a large canal project that started in Dubai last year that will run right through the city.  There was a lot of discussion when it was presented to the public because the fate of the city's beloved Safa Park was at question.

I read several articles in the local papers, and I seem to recall reading on more than one occasion that the park would remain as is, and the water was going to run next to it.  As of today, I am not so sure.
Foggy Morning Safa Park Field Trip

Every morning as I take my six year old son to school or drive to work I pass the park and witness the progress.  The trees in the parking lot on the Sheikh Zayed Road side where cleared to make way for new roads.  This did not surprise me as I expected the parking lot to go.

Fast forward to today as I drove along the side of the park and there I saw the demolition happening inside the park. How can this be?  I was speechless.

My favorite tree in Safa Park

My son was with me and equally shocked.  He started to talk about how sad many of the trees looked, and began to label them.  "Happy, sad, happy, sad, sad, happy..." The number of sad trees quickly outnumbered the happy ones.  He then realized the fate of the trees along the perimeter and several meters into the park.  These will all be cut down.

I am not a typical tree hugger, but my heart aches a bit to write that sentence.

Safa park was a gathering place for many.  It was representative of Dubai with all the many walks of life and cultures enjoying the largest, urban green space in Dubai.  It has been around since at least the 1970s, maybe longer.  For a country that is only 42 years old, it is an important landmark.

Citizens and residents would go there to meet, enjoy time off with their family, play sports, do yoga, enjoy the new cafe that opened, visit the  market, read a book, take a school trip, and more.  Just a quick Google search for Safa Park and its significance is quickly understood.
Burj Khalifa Overlooking Safa Park

We had my son's birthday party there earlier this year.  He liked it so much he was considering it again for next year.

I see the other areas that Dubai has developed and they are beautiful once finished.  They landscape and care for them well, and there have been many new parks that have come up in the last several years I have lived here.

I appreciate them all, but Safa Park has this unexplainable soul.  As soon as you enter the park gates, there is an energetic calm given off from all the nature there.  Perhaps this is why so many of those trees look sad long before the construction has reached them.  The impact of demolishing one side is felt by the other.  It is very interesting how nature is in synch this way.

Watching my son & husband in Safa Park

Many of the pictures I have seen of the development look nice.  Some look green, which is good, but in the meantime it is heart breaking to watch. As the cooler months set in, and the seasonal birds migrate through they will find their beloved park in a different state.

I feel a little helpless and at a loss for words as I write about this.  I am a resident of Dubai and maybe it is not my place to share this opinion.  Perhaps, but I love that park, its nature and what it represents for Dubai.

So often, I really wish the way forward did not come with a price of something that seemed so perfect in the first place.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dressing to Drop Off the Kids

Picture from the 7Days article discussing
the school drop off dress code
After I dropped my son off at school today, I had a laugh out loud moment as I listened to the local news on the radio.  A school in Dubai posted a sign addressing what the moms are wearing during school runs.

A colleague and I often joke about this as there are some really attractive moms here.  There are moms from all over the world living in Dubai, and they dress in many different ways.  And yes, there are a few that I have even done a double take on as I venture off to work in my "corporate uniform". Sometimes its a wow, she looks great.  Other times its a wow, I can't believe she wore that!

I totally agree with dressing for the occasion, and while the school run is not what I consider an occasion, I do respect that I live in a place that is not always so casual in it's dress code.

Despite the tolerance here, and probably well over 90% of the families are from elsewhere at my son's school, there are times I have made a conscious choice to modify something.  However, I think I own some dresses in the figure above.  I am sure I have a sundress like the one on the left of the picture.  The others just really aren't my style.  Although the second one could be going to the gym, and that could be me and many other moms on certain mornings.

Thankfully, I have no Captain America t-shrits that show my stomach.  Phew.

I do have skirts and wear a lot of them.  Some above the knee, and a few below the knee.  When I wear the ones below the knee, people keep looking at my stomach to see if I am pregnant!  No one looks at anything when it is a short skirt.

I am not any of the three with straps. My shoulders never offend because I am always so cold from the massive amounts of climate control here. I would not be able to tolerate wearing those without a sweater or shawl.

But in all seriousness, as I've mentioned in other posts about the dress code question before, I get it. But why is this particular discussion always about women?  There is no dress code mentioned for men.

I have seen some dads at drop off that made me think wow, I can't believe he wore that.  Most are heading to work in their standard pants, shirt and ties.  Some in shorts, and that is okay too.  But there have been a few that look like they just rolled out of bed.  I have nothing against rolling out of bed.  I mean, haven't we all just done pretty much exactly that to rush to get our kids to school on time?  However, I think we should roll out and get dressed before we leave the house.

My first request would be can we please ask the dads not to drop their kids off in boxer shorts?  Or shorts that look like boxer shorts?  It is just inappropriate and way more offensive than a sundress.

Here is the 7 Days article

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Confessions of a Mom Whose Kid is "Too Busy"

Two weeks into the new school year and I am late to schedule any after school activities for my first grader.  I know what we are considering, but waiting for his school that is slow to schedule their after school activities may be causing us to loose places elsewhere.  

One of the many beauties of Dubai - you can find a class for anything and everything here, and a lot of it is really good quality.  I want my son to be exposed to, and try different things, but how much is really too much?

Every year I see one or two local newspaper articles about over scheduling one's child.  They must have enough downtime to be bored.  They must feel bored.  I used to read those articles and think, ya, awful parents.  How dare they over schedule their child?  Apparently some mild form of modern abuse.

After some internet search, I see there are even books written on the subject. By definition, I now fall into a certain category of parent.  But really, I am NOT that parent.

In the NYTimes last year there was an about this very subject.  It was written by a parent of two busy children titled Overscheduled Children - How Big a Problem?  Bruce Fieler and his wife both work, and their kids participate in a fair amount of after school activities.  

I can totally relate to everything he said in that article since both my husband and I work very full time jobs.  And even if I didn't work, would it matter?  I would probably not enroll my child in any fewer activities.  

The "experts" say that children need time to be free and be bored.  I totally agree, and we experience this.  However, I also agree with the NYT article.  Boredom leads into the "Can I have the iPad?" request.  No.  

My son is very happy to draw, play legos and do other things, but iPad is The Bomb in their world. And once they learn more about apps, download, etc, they want more.  Who doesn't?  Look at all the adult Candy Crush addicts out there.

Last year he still had plenty of free time to play, and many of his friends were in the same activities. Like Fieler, I also feel these activities are helping him grow and learn about different things.

What they are not is me coddling him or competing with other parents or kids - the main criticism in the books cited.  Be sure, I could care less about what the next kid does or what other kids' parents think.  I'll let someone accuse me of being too interested in my son, but caring about others to the point it is a competition? ...No. For us, it is about trying, or doing your best. 

Once when my son was three, he told me he "can't" do something.  All of my hair stood up on end. I basically explained to him that this is not a word we use.  I'm not sure if he got it at that time, and in all fairness to him he was just being a whiny three year old that day, as you do.  But "can't"? It is a 4-letter word.  We "try".

I emphasized the word so much that when he was frustrated putting together the cute little car track he had, from that day on, those tracks were fondly known as "tries".

I don't want to sound like one of those people that walked up hill both ways to school in the snow, but... When I was young, I played in the forests of rural Ohio.  (Okay, maybe I wasn't in the forrest that deep, but it felt like it).  My friends and I played outside all day, and our parents didn't worry about us being abducted.  I do not really worry about this in Dubai, but I am aware that we live in a much different time.  We also do not have forests here either.  

When we later moved to Texas, I recall being outdoors with my friends at the playground a lot.  We have a playground here, but its not the same.  This is a big city, and we can't easily rally the neighborhood for a game of anything, or playground experimentation. 

My favorite quote from the article,  “As a general principle, there is a line between a highly enriched, interesting, growth-promoting childhood and an over scheduled childhood,” he said. “And nobody knows where that line is.”

So if no one knows where this line is, why are we trying to define it?  Experts always want to put kids or parent behaviors, in some kind of box.  Maybe this doesn't fit in a black or white box.  Exploring and learning can be grey.  It should actually not walk a straight line, but maybe zig zag a bit?

I do not have all the answers, but to all those other parents that are genuinely trying to do right by their child and keep them busy, learning, healthy and happy without being overly competitive - carry on.  

For the NYTimes article referenced above, please click here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

... and there was Palio

Palio di Siena, Italy
We happened to be lucky enough to catch Palio di Siena this summer.  Palio is held twice a year, in July and August.  After seeing Piazza del Campo several years ago, I tried very hard to imagine how that worked in what seemed like a small space for a horse race on somewhat banked cobblestone street.

I learned that they lay thick, hard dirt over the brick around the square so the horses can race.  This doesn't always keep the horses from slipping, but more humans fall than horses.  I read this is quite common as it is a bareback race.  

Piazza del Campo filling up with spectators to watch Il Palio

According to information on Wikipedia, the event dates back to the 14th Century.  The races replaced bullfighting, and the first races were on buffalos and then donkeys.  It was not until 1656 that the "modern" Palio was established.

We caught a practice run two days before the big race day.  The crowds still come out for it, so you can experience the real thing even if you are not there for the finale.

We went back to Siena the day of the final to meet some friends.  While we did not watch the event, we did see the Contrade, or districts, parade their horses through the streets in full traditional dress.  

A horse entering Piazza del Campo for Palio

Tickets to watch the event on shop balconies are sold for a premium price.  We stood in the square, which was free. While we did not have a bird's eye view of the race, we were still able to enjoy the event.  If we needed to use any facilities, the side street bar where we had drinks before had no issues with us going back there.

The streets of the piazza are cleaned before Il Palio

Palio requires a lot of waiting for a short race, but it is worth the wait.
Blink and you might miss the horse running by!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Never Underestimate the Hashtag #

Back in Dubai. Summer is almost over.  - Almost sounds like a Haiku.

This month I made the very long trip to the US for a few days.  As it was just my son and I, with some encouragement from my husband, we decided to fly from Dallas to Houston.

My son had been asking me what it was like to fly on a "US plane".  Without being blunt and informing him the service is not typically as good as Emirates, he got to experience a lot of challenges first hand.

There was a lot of confusion about gates and things prior to take off.  The "go to gate A2", only to be told "go back to A1" that told you to go to A2 is par for the course.  I know if this were to happen in other countries, the manner in which it is done would be more polite.

I flinch a bit when the employee working to check people in at the gate gets assertive because I am standing in line patiently.  I realized this is a norm.  Airline employees do not realize they are doing it, but the needed service tone of "may I help you" comes out more like "why are you standing there?"  I received a very stern "Can you PLEASE move over here so I can check you in?!"

We arrive to Houston fine.  Unfortunately, our luggage does not.  Sadly, it seems to happen to me almost every time I fly in the US.  My luggage never arrives with me.  But this one - a 45 minute direct flight?

I go to report the luggage.  They write it up, and I can check back after 24 hours.  That's a long time for only a 45 minute flight away.  I figured they would recover it, but I am impatient.  And while I am always prepared for luggage loss, the rest of my son's diabetic medical supplies were in those bags.  I had much more to loose than clean clothes if they were not recovered.

It bugged me.  So, before I went to sleep I decided to take it to Twitter.  I hashtagged lostluggage as well as the name of the air carrier.

As our metabolism is not completely adjusted, I wake up in the early hours of the morning to check my son's blood sugar when we travel. When I looked at my phone to set my alarm for the next check, I saw I had a response on Twitter.  Wow - only about 2 hours after my tweet!  That was impressive.

After the exchange of a few public tweets, the airline suggested we take it offline and they sent me a few numbers and other websites to contact throughout the ordeal.  This was very helpful in locating the luggage, and much more pleasant than speaking to a computer.

My luggage arrived the next day.  Pleased to have it, I was disappointed it was damaged and incredibly dirty.  I have never seen that much dirt on a luggage.  Ever.  Nor has my luggage been damaged in other places I have travelled to.

I am still working out the damage bit, and the airline sent me some alternative sites via Twitter messaging that I would not be able to find easily myself.

The moral of the story is, if you have a customer service need that is not being met, or needs some facilitation, do not under estimate the power of the hashtag. Those companies that are smart will address your need quickly.  It doesn't take a harsh tweet. Just put something out there to get the issue moving.

Happy, safe travels to all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thoughts on Immigrants, Guest Workers & Refugees

It has been a few weeks since I watched the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany at some ridiculous o'clock hour at a random smokey bar with some coworkers in Dubai.  While I was hoping for an Argentina win, Germany played a very good game.  I also had the privilege to watch them clean up Brazil on their journey while surrounded by Germans.

Better than the game they played was one of the stories that came out after the event was over.  Mesut Ozil, one of the players on the German team made a donation to pay for the surgery of some needy children in Brazil.  Before the event started, he payed for the surgery of 11 children.  After Germany won, ESPN reported that he increased the number to 23.  The previous 11 represented the number of players, but 23 was the number of the entire team.

Mesut Ozil is not a very German name.  It is obviously Turkish.  Previous articles I read said he is a second generation Turk who was born in Germany.  While he may be a rare case of extreme financial and athletic success in any class, his family at one time were migrant workers.  In a time where one of the consistent headlines in many countries is how to close the border to keep foreigners out, I wonder what would have happened if Germany kept out Ozil's grandparents.

Reading this story, I can't help but wonder who will be the next Mesut Ozil.  Will he or she play football, get a university degree under extreme circumstances, find a cure for cancer, foster world peace....

Just maybe some of our much needed resolutions will come from the offspring of a refugee that has fled a war torn country, or from someone that has moved somewhere else for a better life.  There was a time when a list of the most famous refugees circulated the internet and there you saw Madeline Albright, Albert Einstein and others on the list.

Twenty-three.  It might be a small number, but for those children and their families, it's a huge deal.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning to Ride

My son rode a bike for the first time without the training wheels yesterday.  Knowing him well, I asked my mother-in-law to have her neighbor remove the extra wheels before we arrived to her summer home in the rural Marmara region of Turkey.

I am not one of those pushy parents that drives their kids to do things before they are ready - actually quite the opposite as I feel kids are under so much pressure to achieve at such a young age in the modern world.  However, I have realized that as a parent, sometimes we need to insist to encourage them to realize their potential as they grow.  Or this is just a big assumption on my part that will result in an epic fail.

Living in Dubai our children have access to many great things, but sometimes the simple things like riding a bicycle through the neighborhood is not so convenient.  There are a few cookie-cutter neighborhoods where it is possible, and there is an amazing bicycle track but you have to drive to get there.  It is not always easy to just go outside and hop on your bike.  This is the make up of the city and the weather is not always great in the summer months.

The first day without the wheels, he refused.  He wanted the bicycle the 4-year old across the street was using.  Unknown to him, she has the training wheels from his bike.  The second day he was still not pleased with the situation.  The third day, with a little help to start, he was riding almost immediately.

I am forever amazed at the stories I read about diabetic children.  They take many needles every day - pricks to check blood sugar, long needles to insert catheters if they use an insulin pump, or several injections every day if they don't pump.  Not to mention the blood draws from veins for regular check ups that are so hard to find on small children.  - All much more difficult than riding a bike for sure.

I have learned a lot as a parent, and maybe even a bit more as the parent of a diabetic child.  This week's lesson learned: You are always stronger than you think.  Most likely, your fear to try something new is a small drop in the bucket compared what you've already accomplished or endured.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sassi Bianchi, Italy

Sassi Bianchi's vineyard overlooking the lavender field

For the last few years, we've been talking about going to Tuscany with friends.  We decided enough talking, and this year we went.  We stayed at Sassi Bianchi, a 40-hectar farm hidden in the hills of Tuscany.  Owned and managed by Concetta and Palo, the 16th century farm houses are in great condition, and you can feel all their efforts to keep the place quaint and functional.  On most mornings you can see Palo working on the farm somewhere.

Sassi Bianchi is beautiful and full of life.  I loved the over dose of oxygen and exploring the property with the smell of lavender in the air.  Our large, communal family breakfasts were a great start to the day, and we enjoyed closing the day at the same large table after visiting the nearby towns and villages as the kids played outside catching fireflies.

Sassi Bianchi is one of those places that I definitely hope to return to - frequently!

Many meals, bottles of wine and laughter were shared here

One of the Sassi Bianchi farm houses

The lavender was beautiful and the number of butterflies and bees it attracted were amazing.
They even make their own lavender honey.

The duck pond at Sassi Bianchi

Nature and wildflowers everywhere! 

Organic gardening means lots of lady bugs!

A walk through the forest at Sassi Bianchi

And more lady bugs!

We look forward to going back to Sassi Bianchi soon!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Getting Published

A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email request from a friend who works at Zayed University.  They were searching for stock photography with various themes for some iBooks, and were wondering if I had any they might use.

This is cool for many reasons.  One of those being that Zayed University was the first university in the world to cooperate with Apple to fully integrate iPads into their instruction.  And of course, for me personally it is exciting.

While I didn't always feel they were my technical best when I came across them over the years, I was still attached to these images because of the subject matter and how they made me feel.  I guess the moral of the story is don't discard something if you don't think its within the constraints of what is considered "good".

After all, art is all about feelings.  Don't be quick to disregard your work as you never know when it might be applicable.  Like my previous post, when I went back and looked at what I thought were just okay images, I saw something else that appealed to me later.

Thank you again to my friend who reached out to me, and thank you to Zayed University for including my images.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Little Things

I was going through some old files looking for an image, and I came across these.  I suddenly find myself very hungry and missing those little special things that make Turkey special!  More often than not, it is the simple things that make a place special.  It doesn't have to be grand.  It can be a favorite dish, flower or enjoying a coffee during sunset with friends.  Summer is almost here!

I love walking past the Four Seasons in Istanbul.  
It has some of the biggest, brightest Jasmine ever.

Turkish Borek, the most amazing savory pastry

Figs.  I love the smell of the fig tree so much, I have one in a pot on my balcony. 

Turkish olives for breakfast and olive oil for everything else

Lokum, or Turkish Delight.  Served best with Turkish coffee.

Turkish Coffee.  After you drink it, someone reads your fal, or fortune, in the coffee
left in your cup.

As you look up from your cup, perhaps you will catch a beautiful sunset

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Breasted One

Last weekend we had a long holiday weekend so we made a visit to Istanbul.  When in Turkey, I drink tea - and lots of it.  There is no need for coffee every morning. However, there was one afternoon I was out and really missing it.

I walked into the nearest Starbucks, and proceeded to order my beloved soy cappuccino. When I lived there, I quickly learned that they do not always understand Pam.  I often end up being Pem, or Pembe, which means "pink".  

I eventually resorted to Pamela.  After saying Pamela three times, the barista just gave up and passed me the cup and pen.  Turkish is a phonetic language, and I think Pamela is pretty phonetic.  Instead of writing my name, I said to him, "You know Pamela Anderson? The same name as hers". 

I knew it was not my Turkish because the guy in line behind me laughed and complimented my point of reference.  When I lived there I resorted to Pamela Anderson for the occasional pizza delivery, and it worked every time.

The barista nodded his head with that "Ah ok" nod and proceeded to write on the cup.  A few seconds later, I got my beloved coffee and checked the name.  It looks somewhat like Memeler, or Memele.  Meme in Turkish means breast. Put "le" on the end of a word and it means "with". I am not sure if he is going for "breasts" or "with breasts" here.  

I get a lot of random names on my Starbucks coffee in Dubai.  It is very rare that my name is understood, even in English. I think this is the funniest one yet.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Empty Nest

Lucy, our resident sunbird in Dubai

I am an empty nester.  Actually, I am a no nester.

About a month ago, I was sitting outside working.  Lucy came by with her mate, and another sunbird. I thought she was introducing me to her new friend through her chatter.

After that visit I didn't see her for a few days.  I began to worry.  With two larger birds constantly bullying the area, I wondered if they chased her off.  Despite all the singing and chirping in this garden and the occasional sounds of traffic racing past Dubai Mall, our home suddenly became so quiet.

I checked outside every morning, but no Lucy.  Sadly her nest started to drop.  Even though it seemed to be hanging by a thin strand, it hung on for a long time.  She was back about a week later, but by then the nest was so low and twisted it was uninhabitable.  She tried to build it back up over a few days, but her attempts were unsuccessful.  Not wanting to interfere with nature and ruin any chances of the birds returning, it was heartbreaking to watch.

I never saw Lucy again, but I could still hear sunbirds nearby for some time.  They have since stopped, and I assume have migrated to a cooler place for the summer.

The nest eventually fell to the ground  Before we cleaned it up, my son said "let's explore it".  So we did.  We opened it, and looked through it.  It was amazing how strong those little pieces were intertwined in Lucy's labor of love.  Fortunately, there were no abandoned eggs.  It was empty.

The fallen sunbird nest

Ironically, after the nest fell, the pomegranate tree from which it hung began to flower again.  A sign that there is some kind of give and take balance in nature.  We have also had several visitors since then - including a peacock!  As I write this, I see a dove poking around in the trees.

With all these visitors, we are hopeful that maybe someday we will again be graced with the likes of Lucy.

A breakfast visitor

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Good Friends… They Really Are Timeless

Last weekend, a good friend I have not seen for years came to Dubai for a few days.  You know how they say that with a good friend, you can just pick up where you left off.  It's true.  We did exactly that.

We were only able to spend a few hours together on two different occasions, but we packed in as much as we could in that time.  We laughed, we cried, we laughed until we cried.  It was really nice, and so much fun that we even forgot to take a picture!

In this modern, social world that seems somewhat uncommon.  There were no selfies, nor did we check in.  We both use Facebook and enjoy photography, but we were just there, caught up in the moment.  Caught up on catching up.

The only proof I have is this book she bought me as a gift.  Proof that she does get me, and she is cheering for me to find financial freedom no matter how crazy the idea might be!

One of the best gifts ever!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Doctors

Today I was invited to present at an international Type 1 Diabetic Summit in Abu Dhabi.  I opened a panel discussion of patients (children) and their caregivers who shared their experiences.  Some of them were just learning to deal with things, others have been diabetic for some time and overcame amazing obstacles in the past.

While the patients' stories were amazing and sometimes heartbreaking, I also saw something else today.  I saw a room full of physicians and practitioners who cared deeply about their work and their patients.  

We often hear about the incompetent ones, or the bad experiences.  I  know I am often quick to share those because, after all, they are stranger than fiction.  

I am fortunate that I have some good doctors in my life supporting us that should not be taken for granite.  Today, within 15 minutes I saw a room full of doctors tear up as one mom shared her story, beam with pride as a young woman told about the prejudices she overcame, and then become passionately angry as another boy shared his experience of a faulty guarantee about stem cell transplants. 

It is a side of physicians that we do not often see.  I was reminded that like us, they are human.  I was also reminded that there are great doctors out there that care very deeply about their patients and their well being.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sun Set

Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Park Hyatt Sunset

The sun has set on a relaxing spring break holiday.  We planned to travel abroad last week, but we are so glad we changed our minds at the last minute.

Seeing my husband log more miles than a pilot over the last month, and the need for all of us to get some downtime led me to this suggestion.  Not only did we enjoy a relaxing holiday, but it really reminded us of the beauty that can be found the UAE.

We started on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.  I have posted about this place before, but I never get tired of its crystal clear, blue water.  The water there rivals that of the Maldives.

After a few days we moved to the Eastern Mangroves of Abu Dhabi where we spent one sunrise kayaking through this protected area.  I did not bring my camera.  It was nice to just be a part of nature rather than observing it through a lens.  Once the weather cools down again I will definitely will go back with my camera.

We returned to Dubai and concluded our time off with a trip to Wild Wadi, the oldest of the big water parks in the UAE.  Much to my surprise, Erin is now tall enough to ride the big slides.  He loves it and I see he is a complete thrill seeker.

Tomorrow, instead of watching sunsets, I will see the sun rise as I get up to start the rush to school and work.  I like the sun rise, but it's the madness that follows that will have me wishing I were still in Abu Dhabi enjoying one of these scenes.

Abu Dhabi sunset over the Eastern Mangroves

Abu Dhabi sunset over the Eastern Mangroves

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Abu Dhabi Mangroves

Instead of traveling this spring break, we opted for a much needed holiday closer to home in Abu Dhabi.

While many people think there is nothing but desert here, there are also amazing forests of mangroves just a few minutes from the city.  Tomorrow morning we will venture out on a kayak tour. I have always wanted to do this, but then….

Tonight after I took this picture, I saw something swimming across the water.  Home to a lot of wildlife such as foxes, birds and fish, I didn't think of snakes until I was alone in the dark.  This thing was probably a turtle, but it was there I recalled my childhood days of seeing snakes swim across water.  

I immediately did some research about the mangroves, and all seems much safer than the water snakes I know from Texas.  Regardless, praying for some really cute turtles tomorrow.

Abu Dhabi's Eastern Mangroves at night

Thursday, April 10, 2014

School Buses - You really do need to stop for them

Cars are the latest Social "gadgets" on the market.  Some makers have already started, and I am sure it is not long before we can access Facebook in all cars.  Maybe I am old-fashioned, but do we really need this?

I have a device in my car that can access Facebook.  It is called a phone.  I don't catch up on social media while I am driving, nor do I need to.  If I have to sit at a red-light too long, I may start looking. I put the device down when I start driving again.

I can't help but wonder if this is how people felt when radio was put in cars… assuming there was a time when cars were without radio.

One safety challenge here I will never understand is the failure of people - so far every driver I have seen here - to stop behind a school bus when a child is obviously getting off.   This is a big yellow bus with flashing lights and a stop sign.

Children are exiting the bus, and it is usually curb-side, but it is still drives me mad that people fly past in their cars.

I stop.  People behind me honk.  They proceed to go around me and the bus.  I shake my head.

From his car seat, my six year old asks why this is not safe.  I explain to him that a child could get hit by a car.  I feel incredibly sad that anyone would be in such a hurry to jeopardize a child getting off a school bus.  I hate when the cold reality of carelessness chips away at his innocence as he comes to realize these things.

I wonder how he perceives it.  Why would an adult not stop for a child? He is at the age where he still believes most adults are kind and good.  Does it sadden him a bit to know people do not care.

As a young diabetic, he does not ride the bus yet.  Someday he might.  This issue will only add to my hesitation to let him ride the bus too soon.

Articles I have read state it is punishable with a fine.  I'm not sure how many are fined.   I just really hope more people will stop.

Please stop for buses.. and pedestrians too while we're at it.

Rant over.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

More from the Dubai Light Festival

Here are a few more images from the Dubai Light Festival last week.  

We had a good rain the day before I went out.  While the desert can be dusty, we seem to have the clearest puddles.  Although they would be a nuisance, I wish they would stay around a little longer than one day.

Dubai Festival of Lights

Dubai Festival of Lights

Palace Hotel, Dubai Festival of Lights

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Dubai Festival of Lights

Dubai Festival of Lights

Dubai Festival of Lights
Today concludes the Dubai Festival of Lights.  Downtown Dubai, which is pretty well lit already, had an exhibit of various light installations for nine days.

If you missed it, and you are not going to the World Cup Tomorrow, or the Cavalia show, or Lord of the Dance, or one of the many other activities crammed into the good weather months here, you can enjoy Earth Hour festivities in the same area tomorrow evening at 8:30pm.

Dubai Festival of Lights