Friday, October 16, 2015

Chamonix & Mont Blanc

If you haven't seen them yet, some images from my August trip to Chamonix are up. I didn't think I was a mountain person, but I might be now. Beautiful weather, everything outdoors - what a great place to spend the summer!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Realities of Life

It was the second week of second grade.

Things were going well, but it was a sad weekend for the UAE.  As if there was not enough happening on this side of the world, the UAE and some other countries have been clashing with rebels in Yemen. The UAE lost 45 soldiers over that weekend.

This may be the biggest loss of its kind for this 43 year old country - it has been in the several years I have lived here. Officially three days of mourning were observed.

Until now, I have somewhat sheltered my son from the harsh realities of the world. I am very matter of fact with him, but I figure in time he will learn what a challenging place the world is, so let me let him enjoy innocence as long as possible.

The morning after the announcement, he caught a glimpse of a picture in the newspaper I was reading and asked me to go back to it. It was an image of the caskets returning home covered in UAE flags. While we are not citizens, my son was born here and he is quite proud of our residency. He loves the UAE and feels a sense of pride about living here.

He asked me about the picture. I decided it was better he take that step with me than learn it from the playground. So I told him. I explained to him there was a battle in another country and the UAE lost many soldiers.

"How many?" he asked.  When I answered that question his mouth stayed open for a long time as he digested the information. He asked how they died. Unsure how deep to go, I told him it was in a battle and I was not sure.

I went on to explain that this was a very sad day for the UAE and there were three official days of mourning - including 24 hours of classical music or continuous prayer on all radio channels.

Being the curious child that he is, he asked to hear what was on the radio. Our usual morning show we listen to on the way to school was now a continuous stream of classical music.

Thinking he might become too melancholy, I offered to play some music from my phone. "No. It's okay. Leave it." he said.

After several minutes he asked me if the flags would be at half mast.  I hadn't even thought of that, but I told him they probably would be. Sure enough when we arrived at school, all the flags were half mast.

I left school looking at the flags again knowing that this is the day I opened the door to the other part of the world he has yet to be informed about. I barely opened it. It was just a crack, but there are so many things behind that door that we can't hold it closed forever.

.... I wrote the above article the night after this discussion happened, but did not publish it right away.  A few days later, the UAE had another official mourning period. This time not due to a battle, but because Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum lost one of his sons, Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed. May he rest in peace.

My son heard the praying on the radio and asked if it was for the soldiers. When I explained why, he did not ask too many questions this time, but spent more time thinking.... The door ever so slightly cracked a little more.

Flags at half mast in Dubai during the mourning period

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Syrian Refugees - How are you helping?

I did not have the "typical" US university experience. I lived at home, worked and took classes at an inner city community college for a while until I moved on to a full university to complete my degree.

One of the best lessons I had there was in a three minute conversation with a fellow student. We were in a very advanced math class together and this guy was incredibly intelligent. Like the guy that could always solve all the problems in any exam. He was typically quiet, but seemed so comfortable and wise with his knowledge, and knew more than the instructor.

There were many international students at the school, so one day before class I inquired about his background.  In that three minute conversation I learned he was from Cambodia. Before he came to the United States, he and his father lived for 10 years in a refugee camp.....

This was before the internet. Before the general population had any idea of what leads up to and happens when populations are displaced. Needless to say, I was shocked when he shared his story. To my knowledge I had never met someone that lived in a refugee camp. And the fact that he lived there 10 years to get to the US to attend a community college that some people might dismiss from the definition of quality education left me speechless.

Now that we have access to that information, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media have been inundated with an outcry to help Syrian refugees.  The image of the boy that drowned and washed up on a beach in Turkey was a huge tipping point in this crisis, and got people's attention. I have probably seen this image 100s of times in the last two days.

Is it sad, awful, and has everyone wondering "How did it get to this?"  Sadly, it has been a crisis situation for some time.

I could see my Facebook newsfeed full of outcry for countries and their leaders to do something. Only a few people actually shared links about how to help.

Yes, there are many things countries can do, but just opening a border is not enough. Once this displaced population arrives they need the infrastructure, supplies and volunteers to help. This is where we as individuals come in. What can I do?

I spent some time yesterday looking for specific charities that offer relief for diabetic Syrians. Since my son has Type 1, this is a subject very close to my heart. I know that a Type 1 refugee would not survive without insulin. If I were suddenly displaced, every ounce of my being would be focussed on getting insulin.

Through my search, I concluded that the crisis is so big that I cannot find a way to specifically support diabetes for Syrian refugees at this time. I think this speaks to the magnitude of the situation.

If you google "how to help Syrian refugees" many options come up. I have decided to start with some of the organizations in this article from PRI.

Before you dismiss it, and your potential to help, take some time to look up "famous immigrants and refugees".  You will find reference to people like Steve Jobs' father (a Syrian migrant), Albert Einstein, Madeline Albright and many many others that have had a huge impact.

Friday, July 17, 2015


The water near Croatia's Hvar island - it really is that amazing!

A few weeks ago we returned from a dream. One week in Croatia with six close friends and all seven of our children. I took over 1,100 pictures. There were many laughs shared and many memories made.

After finally freeing up some space on my Mac, I was able to upload the images and relive the breathtaking experience all over again for a few short minutes.

For now, I leave you with this beautiful water. It is deep. Our boat is parked. The shadow is us peering over the side of the boat amazed at the natural beauty of this place, and how clearly we could see that starfish.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A visit from Gurkan Genc

Eat your heart out Ellen Degeneres - This selfie is way better than your "biggest" one!

The school year is almost finished in Dubai - two days to go and I will have a 2nd grader!!! Wow.

Having lived in Turkey, and with a husband from Istanbul, I have had the privilege to meet some very interesting people along the way. Today one of those interesting people visited my son's school.

Gurkan Genc is currently in Dubai on his trip around the world. Who is Gurkan Genc? In short, he is a guy from Turkey who is touring the world on his bicycle. Did I mention he is doing this all alone?

According to his website, he started this in 2012 with a 7 year plan. He is about 3 years into it. He will cross a total of 84 countries in 7 continents over 7 years.

He has seen extreme cold temperatures ranging from -57 C / -70.6 F to extreme heat, perhaps hotter than the 50 C / 120+ F he experienced biking from Saudi to Dubai.

This morning he talked to over 150 first graders about his experiences. Stories included how he survives on so little, not seeing anyone or any living plant or creature for 12 days while crossing the Gobi desert in Mongolia, riding on snow and more adventures in an action packed 45 minutes.

And the kids has so many interesting and relevant questions.  A few of my favorites:

  • How did you get water?
  • Where do you get food?
  • Why did the police follow you? (He was the first bicyclist allowed to cross Saudi, so he received a police escort for many miles. Why? "Because they liked me" he said.)
  • What was your favorite place? (Japan and a little village near Granada, Spain)
  • Do you wear a helmet?
  • What is the name of your bike?
  • Did you have training wheels?
  • Where do you poo?
They could have kept going, but due to time, I am sure he will receive many emails from a curious group of first graders. I mean, second graders.

His most important message was, "Believe in yourself. And don't give up on your dreams." People told him he was crazy in the beginning. But after some time, he said "as you keep going and start achieving your goals, they will believe".

If you would like to read more about Gurkan, or follow him, you can find his website here and all his other links to social media.

After Dubai, he will take off to Oman and start heading to Africa. After he conquers Africa, he will head to the Americas!

Friday, June 19, 2015

You Could Do More?

"You Can Do So Much More".... my new boss said to me yesterday.

We were talking about work and she asked me what I wanted to do. She is aware of my ability - I used to be a consultant and all that good stuff. She asked me what I would like to do because I could "do so much more".

She didn't mean that I am being lazy and not working. What she meant was that I can climb the corporate ladder - shoot for a higher position and whatever else comes with that.

It is flattering, but I politely declined. I have worked on several projects and throughout those there is always that crazy week or two, or eight, where your life is not your own because others are late, things are chaotic and it is just out of your control because well, stuff happens. I cited this as my reason. And it is not completely untrue. I can do that from time to time, but I do not want every week of my life to resemble this.

What I didn't tell her is that I already am doing more. A lot more. I pull more all nighters than I ever did as a young adult out with my friends. The amount of responsibility that comes with the role of working mom and caretaker for a Type 1 Diabetic is "So Much More".

Crazy presentation to prepare, up all night waiting for others' input. I'd take that over any sick night my child has with diabetes. I promise the night full of vomiting, keytone and hypoglycemia watch, and all else that comes with that is much more challenging than building a business strategy.

In addition to taking care of my son's health, I also have more opportunity to be a mom than if I were in a higher position. Diabetes aside, why would I want to miss his life events because I am over allocated? I am already multi-tasking on several things, so why would I want to carry more? I don't. I'm not sure it is possible - especially if they don't develop time travel or figure out how to make the days longer.

And, while I do not have a lot of free time, I do squeeze in some diabetes advocacy and activities from time to time. Before the "Big D", I was a healthcare manager and consultant. I left that job to focus on my son's health. Yes, irony. With that background, it is very hard for me to sit back and not "do more".

So could I do more? I could probably do with more sleep, but who has time for that when there is so much to be done!

Friday, May 15, 2015

I Love You Because You Travel

I love you because you travel (with me) all the time

Once again, a bit off the blog, but I still exist in the world. Busy, but great.

Last week there was a Mother's Day celebration in my son's school. They surprised us with breakfast and some of their arts and crafts. One of them was this picture. I love you because... The message from my son was "You travel (with me) all the time". He does not have the "with me" on the board, but this is what he told me as he shared why he loved me this Mother's Day.

I was touched and pleased at the same time. He doesn't have to follow me, be me, be what I wasn't, be what I wish I could do, or any of that. My husband and I travel because it is what we love to do.

Before having children, I always wondered if a child would slow us down. Well, it didn't. Over time, those visits to new places have become important time to explore something as a family. We love to experience the world and other cultures and places.

In talking about our plans for the year, one thing my husband and I both agree on is that we will not give up our travel. There are many things we can do without, but travel is not one of them.  We love it, and are fortunate that our son appreciates it too.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dubai is so Clean!

Last week I went to a Sting concert with friends. One of my friends went to the bathroom (portable) and when she came back she showed us a picture she took of the toilet area because it was so clean. And it was. Spotless.

Fast forward a week later. I am looking for a taxi to go to an area with next to no parking. I find one and as I am walking to get in the car, the driver throws his trash out on the street?! Is he kidding me? Sadly, not.

Instead of getting in the car, I went to his window and asked him if he dropped something perhaps? A little confused he asked what I was talking about. When I refused to get in his taxi until he picked up his trash, he apologized, quickly picked up his trash and put it in a plastic bag he had in the car with other trash.

Despite the amount of people here cleaning, I am always shocked at the amount of trash I see thrown on the ground. I feel it is because they know someone will pick up after them? Or they really have that much disregard for the community and environment? I'm not sure which is worse.

I've seen it in our parking garage. Trash that was obviously thrown out from a car parked in its designated space. I politely pick it up for them and place it on their windshield so they can easily find it when they return.

I know there are a lot of things unfair about what people are paid, but what is unfair is that the society that is paid better contributes to the mess they have to clean up.

As I went for a walk last night, I was reminded of this. Seeing the constant clean up around the construction sites to keep it tidy and then I came across this guy in the picture I took diligently cleaning a garbage can. Wow.

Keep Dubai and the UAE Beautiful. Pick up your trash and teach your kids to do the same.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

There is no Grey in the UAE

The decision was made a few days ago to not screen Fifty Shades of Grey in the UAE. It is officially banned. I also read it was banned in Kenya, Malaysia and a few other countries.

I scanned social media and responses to local articles about this. And you know what? Not a single comment was negative about this decision. I think for the first time in social media in the UAE, the consensus was unanimous. Now that may not be a true representation of some of the population, but maybe no one who disagreed dared to respond to this one as many book and movie reviews have been quite harsh.

No one took to protesting about rights, or if you don't want to see it, don't go to the cinema attitude. It was all a very positive "way to go".

I have not read the books, although they were sold here. I realize I write this with a lot of hearsay. However, that hearsay all points in the same direction. This movie is not romantic. The characters have serious issues and it paints a very misleading picture about what love is and about how it is okay for an uber wealthy guy to use his power to control and manipulate a young girl.

As the story unfolds, the amount of grey seems to grow according to the articles I've read. In seeking an objective opinion I read conservative and liberal publications. It was interesting to see my Facebook friends of both sides come together with a common opinion in my feed for a change.

Stalking, breaking into your apartment, threatening you, physically harming you... all major red flags in any relationship that say you should run like mad and consider calling the police.

So, now what.

Go see the movie or download it if you are curious. Decide for yourself. I should, but I won't.

If you look up the statistics on how many women are raped and abused by the minute, by the 1,000, its not good. And it doesn't seem to be getting better. From what I read, this film is not going to help improve this by any means.

So, while some things may be controlled here in the UAE, it may not be such a bad thing. Perhaps the film is just all hype and really not abusive. In that case, then the UAE governing body that reviews and controls what is released here has done us a favor and saved us from 125 minutes of bad film.

Either way, we thank you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year

My New Year thoughts are on my photography site blog.

If you do not wish to click there, here are the images.  The LED show that was seen from the front is running until January 9th at 6:45pm and 11:45pm.  I can't wait to see it!

Burj Khalifa New Year Eve 2015

Burj Khalifa New Year Eve 2015

Burj Khalifa New Year Eve 2015