Saturday, May 31, 2008


Well, we're wrapping up the weekend here. It’s been sort of a lazy weekend. Stu got me an elliptical machine this weekend! It’s too hot to go outside anymore. Seriously, we went out today and poor little Kaden started crying after the first store we went to because it is so hot and he just sweats, even after the A/C has been on forever in the car. In that car-seat the air just doesn’t circulate all that well and he has to be miserable. So I don’t think we’ll be going out much anymore during the day if he has to be in that seat for too long.

BUT, a positive side of going out today was that I got to go to Spinney’s for the first time today and we got AVOCADOS! Hooray for life! So I am going to make guacamole tonight and then put avocado on everything I eat until I am sick of them. We also got some pork, yay. We got bacon and ham which I am really excited about because we can put it on Pizza! We got like ten things total at Spinney’s and it was almost 50 bucks… just goes to show how inflated the price of pork is over here.

Then we went grocery shopping at LuLu’s since it is the cheap place. They have most everything, even if you have to get a weird brand, but as far as produce goes, it’s normally rotting or pretty close to it. Luckily it was a good day for potatoes (they’ve been a total miss the past three weeks) which is awesome because I planned to have baked potatoes this week! It’s nice when things work out like that (it’s the little things in life anymore, heh).

We grilled out on the roof again this week. We did burgers this time though and they were fabulous! Stu is the best hamburger maker on the planet. He even found some really yummy buns that were fresh (so not rock-hard) and we had all the fixin’s. So good. Here are some pictures of us up there this week!

He sure is a good looking guy!

Happy singing baby.


Laid-back baby just hanging out.

Mommy and baby having a great time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Coming to live here made me realize just how ignorant I was of Middle Eastern history and culture. So it was no real shock to me when I was blindsided by yet another similar realization. Iran. I’m not sure what others think of Iran. It has sort of come into the limelight recently as they develop their nuclear technology and it freaks the West out, but what do we really know about the country? I knew I had little information about the country, much of it derived from a single movie (Not Without My Daughter… if you haven’t seen it, do.).

Marcia sent me an autobiographical graphic novel called Persepolis. It was written by an Iranian woman about her childhood growing up during The Iranian Revolution (war) and what it was like to flee the country and battle with being a third-worlder in a European country. The author, Marjane Satrapi, took a fascinating look at her life and decided to tell it in a very interesting and easy-to-read way. From how her parents fought back as civil liberties were taken away (veils became required and a strict “moral” code was enforced… with severe consequences) to how at 14 she fled to Vienna alone to escape the war, and how trying it is to grow up alone.

Marjane Satrapi, self portrait

It is really neat to get an inside look into any type of life that usually only those inside understand (Muslims, for example) and that we, as Americans, otherwise wouldn’t know. Marjane talks about the fundamental differences between “Arabs” and “Persians”… they don’t even speak Arabic. I didn’t know that. I thought most of the Middle East primarily spoke Arabic. Anyway, it was just yet another good read. If you have the time, you might as well pick it up and learn something new.

Persepolis has also recently been made into an animated movie, so you could see that instead, heh. :)

Pig Pickin' and Coming Home

It should be noted that one really sucky thing about making plans to travel home is that once you plan them, you have to then wait for them to come!

For those who have not heard, we now have REAL plans to come home August 10th – 20th (give or take a day or so on each side for travelling through lots of time changes). “Home” being Coeur d’Alene this year. So if you can make it, the Pig Pickin’ (see below if you don’t know what a Pig Pickin’ is…) is the weekend of August 15th and 16th at my parents’ house. Any Boiseans that can come up, we would LOVE to see you!!!

So, a “Pig Pickin’”. First of all, aside from the fact that Pig Pickin’s have been in my family since LONG before I was born, we now live in the land of pigs-are-dirty-and-disgusting-things-and-it’s-much-easier-to-buy-porn-here-than-pork. So this year, pork will be ever the more satisfying and devious. Wahahaha.

Ok, so every year, my whole (and it’s BIG) family, along with plenty of friends, get together at my parents’ house to roast a whole pig on a grill. The pig can weigh anywhere from like 150 to 215 pounds. Each part of the Pig Pickin’ is wrought with tradition. Last year was Stu’s first Pig Pickin’ and he got both the honor going to get the pig AND be a “turner”… big news. Heh.

So, we go get the lucky pig from a local butcher up in Sandpoint, Idaho. You drive up there (one year, all by myself in a torrential down-pour, with a carcass sticking out of my tied-down trunk because it was too big to fit in all the way) and the driveway of this place really starts the tradition. You get to drive between two hanging carcasses (where any typical ranch would display their best antlers). You get your pig, which has been gutted and wrapped in clear plastic so you can see the gunshot wound between its eyes, and the stiff form of the (very alive-looking) 200 pound pig.

Meanwhile, whoever is staying home (usually the women, but this changes yearly) prepares the grill and the ice. Grill prep includes sending an unsuspecting child (usually poor Maddison) into the “grill storage area” to free the grill from a year’s worth of pine needles, pine cones, squirrels, and an array of spiders. When the six-foot grill is free to move, it is wheeled out and into the yard, cleaned out, and ready for the pig.

When the pig arrives, it sits in the lid of the grill, packed with ten bags of ice, until it is time to “put it on”. At this point it gets fun. The men go out to split the pig down the center. It is not nearly as easy as it sounds (see pictures) and it takes both a ratchet and a lot of sweat from some pretty large guys to get the job done. Then the pig is placed cut-side down on the grill to slowly roast over a bed of coals for about 24 hours.

Stu a-swinging the hatchet, trying to split the backbone.

Poor Penelope could have been an advertisement for a varicose vein cream commercial.

Kimo (left), Stu, and my Dad (right), trying to split the backbone so she'll lay flat on the grill.

During the time it cooks, new coals need to be added every hour or two (usually Papa is the one watching and directing the show since he’s done over 200 pigs at this point!), which means that some people are given the honor of staying up all night to drink beer and watch the pig. Papa can tell some horror stories of what happens when pigs aren’t watched, things like exploding pigs… doesn’t sound real good.

So the next day around 2 is the “pig turning” (see below) where four strong men with 2x4’s literally pick up and turn the pig onto its back. Last year, as I mentioned before, Stu got to take part in this. Normally there are two taller men and two shorter men. Kimo has been the resident “tall” AND “strong” man at the past several Pig Pickin’s, but their family just moved to England, so I am not sure who will take his place at this one. (It just won’t be the same with Kimo and Candice…)

Stu and Penelope.

The turn.

Anyway, so once the pig is on its back, it is doused with a “special sauce” that Mimi has created in a milk jug. People take turns getting to splash some of it on the pig (as I said, wrought with tradition). Then it soaks for an hour or so in the sauce and then comes the “pickin’” time! You can go up to the pig and just rip a piece off from wherever and eat it. Mom will put a stop to this soon, especially once lots of little hands (read: grimy, unclean kids’ hands…) have had their “pick”. Mom will pull all of the edible meat off the pig and put it on a huge platter. It is served outside with Hush Puppies, rolls, coleslaw, and an array of dishes that various people have contributed. The eating (and of course, plenty of drinking) continues well into the wee hours of the next morning as we all tell stories and bullshit around a fire pit.

Fat me (four weeks after having Kaden) with the turned pig.

Stu and I.

Kaden's very proud Great Grandparents. (Papa, Nana, and Mimi)

So that is a Pig Pickin’ in a nutshell.

I am more than excited for this particular Pig Pickin’ as Kaden will be older than the four weeks old he was at the last one, and will be able to enjoy it. Plus, being able to see my family and friends, and have a really good time with the people I love, is going to be so great. So, as I said, if you can make it, do.

BUT, now comes the dreaded waiting part. Luckily, Stu and Kaden and I are doing great over here. We've all been really happy and just enjoying watching Kaden advance and spend time as a family. August can't come soon enough though! :)

Monday, May 26, 2008


I'm not feeling great today. I woke up feeling sore all over and with a sore throat. Yuck. And poor baby Kaden is STILL not awake this morning. He went to bed at 9 last night and it is 11 in the morning (fear not, I checked, he is still breathing). I felt him and he feels like he is warm too. I really hope we are not both getting sick. Stu said his throat felt sore a couple days ago and his has since felt better so I am rooting for a fluke!

Anyway, nothing to report from this side of the world... Thanks to Marcia for the AWESOME care package! I have never SEEN so much candy! haha (So I will thank you in adcance for the extra 5 pounds I'm sure to gain this week! :))

Kaden is a true Boisean now! Look at him sporting his new hat! GO BRONCOS! Plus he also got a BSU shirt, another shirt that says "My Dad Rocks" in the same font AC/DC uses, and an outfit that says "If Mom was a kid, I'd be her best friend". Too cute. (the little sandals were WAY more exciting to eat than to wear...)

I just wanted to thank my family for being the most wonderful people on the face of the planet. Not only Marcia, but my whole extended family seems to be sending us a package every other week and the love and support (emails, letters, Yahoo messages, phone calls), especially being so far away from the "comfort of home", is invaluable to me. Stu and I get all kid-at-Christmas-like when we get a package and we open each one with a series of "oohs" and "aahhs".

Anyway, I am going to go see if my little teenager wants to get up yet and start his day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


So I think of Brett, my old boss, nearly every single day at noon. Brett used to get soup for lunch almost every day and now, for whatever reason, I am obsessed with my lunch soup! Soup here is not like soup back home. It comes in little packets and you have to add water (even for tomato… weird huh?). So none of the soup tastes all that familiar, but I’ve grown quite fond of this Arabic version of watery “cream of chicken soup”. Today is no different. It’s just me, Kaden, and a couple “Ritz” crackers enjoying my soup!

Saudi Sweep

Sup Homes??? (I’m really an east-L.A. Latino gangbanger trapped in a little blonde white girl’s body… actually this would shock no one… moving on.)

Things are going pretty good. I’m thrilled to be “schoolin’ it” again. You never remember how great school is until you don’t have it for a while. Anyway, so it is fun getting the wheels up there turning again.

Stu is getting pretty homesick. I had my initial freak out early on and have since gotten over it, and he was gung-ho when we first got here and excited to be doing this and has finally had it catch up with him. So I feel bad because I’m fine and don’t really care WHEN we go home, just THAT we go home (read “home” as “anywhere in America”)…

… America… You know, we learn in school that we live in the “United States of America”, or just “The United States”… well apparently if you are anywhere other than the United States, you are actually from simply “America”. I keep forgetting this and when people here ask when where I am from (still cracking me up that I am almost always confused with being British [wtf, mate?]) I automatically tell them “The United States” and they just stare at me with a confused look on their face… “Oh, from America…” (since clearly I am not from “Estados Unidos de Mexico” after all.

I can never remember what I have and have not talked about on here before. I talk with my friends and Stu here about these things all the time and I take for granted that I post them… So, that said, if I post something more than once, forgive me, it will be just like you’re the twentieth person I’ve told a story to, just like back home, haha.

I started with the disclaimer so I can talk about one of those things I think I’ve already talked about! I KNOW I’ve talked about how bad the people here drive, but that isn’t even doing it justice. So, the “Saudi Sweep”… ever heard of it? That’s when a driver is in one lane, say the far right, and they decide they need to be in the far left lane RIGHT NOW, so they just turn the wheel hard (RIGHT NOW) with no concern about how many cars they are going to smash my attempting this insanity. So you either swerve out of the way to avoid being plowed over, or slam on your breaks, etc. The problem with this is that EVERYONE is driving just as crazy as “Saudi Sweep” man, tailgating, cutting people off, etc. I swear every time I get in a car (and buckle my kid in as tight as possible) I get an adrenaline rush at least once on the journey. We REALLY almost got into an accident the other day when Stu was trying to get over (no one will let you in) and nearly ran over a guy who decided to stop in front of us, right in the middle of the road… Welcome to Middle Eastern driving. Which just goes to show that those “idiot drivers” (anyone but yourself) in America that we all growl and cuss at in the privacy of our own cars, are not Asians, they are Arabs.

He's a thug baby... sticking his lip out.

Ok, I just had to put this on here... this is Stu's version of a "power strip"... safe looking huh? The other night I looked at it and said "what the heck?" and he's like, "I was wondering when you were going to notice that..."

The Fox Family portrait from when we were in Michigan this winter. Farmer Kaden!


He's looking at his reflection in the window.

Grill Master, mastering the grill as usual!

On the roof for our weekly bar-b-que!

Burrito baby... he wrapped himself up and went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I think I have mentioned before how there are blocks on certain sites here. Censorship is rampant and it is just part of the way things go here... BUT, my Dad sent me a link today to a page he made for Maddison for her Motocross. It is set up a lot like MySpace where you post pictures and whatnot, but it is specific to sports. I am pretty sure most of the people who have ever seen a MySpace page would agree it is MUCH more risqué than a mere sports networking site.

That said, it is like everything else here, if the general population demands it, morals aside, they will get it. This can be proven by making a quick trip down to ANY of the popular clubs in the area and getting yourself a prostitute in any flavor you want (Russian, Thai, Indonesian, take your pick!). But to own pornography in this country is a quick route to deportation. Anyway, not that I am an advocate for porn, I’m just saying, it all sounds a little fishy to me. Turning your head when you know something bad is going on is just as bad as the one doing it. And that appears to be how the government and “policing” authorities operate here.

Here is the message you get when a site is blocked. My favorite part is the reason the site has been blocked, “due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.” Yeah……. right.

On another note, here is a picture of my rockstar sister from said site. Go Maddison!

Blood Money

So if there was ever something worth mentioning, it is this. Here, there is this law where if you hit and kill someone in a car accident, you have to pay their family basically what they are "worth" as a punishment (and sometimes jail time too, depending). But, in light of this, it is not very uncommon for these workers here (see construction worker below balancing on flimsy wood a hundred feet off the ground) to decide their 5 bucks a day just isn't supporting their families back home. They will choose instead to jump in front of vehicles so their families can get money. Sad huh?

So this weekend we grilled on our roof again (we missed last week because of the tournament). Marcelo, one of the coaches, and Rainy, his wife, came too. I met Rainy at the tournament sitting in the VIP section and she is an AMERICAN! Has family from Idaho no less, lol. Go figure, right? So, needless to say we bonded right away. She is a very interesting person too. She is a former Marine who then contracted with the DOD in Iraq as a translator for interrogations. She speaks perfect Ababic (Iraqi dialect). So it has been great. We went to the mall on Wednesday and she told me what the prayer call says, and taught me some other words in Arabic. How cool is that?

So the roof was fun. Especially having them over. Marcelo is going to be training Stu in private lessons (we figure might as well take advantage of this opportunity... as always). Here he is teaching Kaden! haha

Kaden wating his sunglasses.

Smiling Joshy.

Stu getting "punched" in the face... By Jeff.

Matt showing off his mad dance skillz.

Oh yeah! Do the "Q-tip"!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Treasures of Sudan

After the Finals on Saturday, Stu, Josh, Kaden and I went to Treasures of Sudan, which is a travelling Museum expo that happens to be in Abu Dhabi now. We figured before it left, with such a cool opportunity, we might as well go see it.

I was pretty impressed, even more so with my own ignorance once again… It’s become a common feeling after living here just a short time. For starters, none of us knew exactly where Sudan was… Stu ventured a guess that it was in Asia because the artifact used on the billboard to advertise it looked Asian (slanted eyes and whatnot). Josh thought it was in Egypt. I thought it was in Africa, but not within Egypt. I got closest, but definitely no cigar! Not only is it in fact IN Africa, it is the largest African country. AND that is where they keep Darfur… you know, the whole Darfur crisis that has been splashed across our headlines for the past year or so (think Angelina Jolie)… I didn’t even have the presence of mind to learn WHERE Darfur was… Sad.

Anyway, after mentally reprimanding myself for being the “idiot American” we get so offended by being called, I was absolutely fascinated with the exhibit. After reading the blurbs that accompanied the artifacts, and watching a short video about ongoing excavation of the Sudan, I learned so much I never would have thought twice about knowing. This particular exhibit was drawn from a collection at the National Museum in Khartoum. Some of the objects are as old as the 9th Millennium BC, clear through the 19th century AD.

Since I would assume at least some people who read this are as ill-informed about Sudan as I was (I know that people like my little brother read this… :)) I figured I’d take a minute to educate! Haha.

Sudan is derived from the Arabic Bilad-al-sudan, which literally means “land of the blackened”. A lot of people are familiar with Egyptian history, and while it is somewhat related, most of Sudan’s history has been greatly overlooked (due in large part to the fact that they can’t find much of a key to figuring out the language and therefore being able to translate their own writings about themselves). Historically, there has been a large Islamic and Christian heritage in the country (by now you must know how rare this phenomenon happens to be…).

If you want to learn more, is always a good choice!

This has nothing to do with Sudan, but the exhibit was housed at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Center which has all kinds of random things... we just couldn't resist a photo-op such as this!

This is jewelry.

Seconds before he let go of my hand to stand on his own... biggest baby ever!

Evidence of Christianity...

This is a pair of sandals

(more evidence)

A mummy........... yeah.

Body armor


Stu and a head.

Hanging out with artifacts... such a cultured baby.

(again with the evidence)

(and again)... Kaden next to a Baptismal tub

I said it had to be fake, as detailed as the drawings still are, but apparently sand is a great preserver.

This guy is an old Nubian king.

Ooo, look a kitty!

I was amazed at how pretty the murals were on the walls of the exhibit... It felt like we were there.

Here is a map of Sudan. (see Darfur???... Idiots we are...)