Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Need for Words

Sometimes no words are needed to express how you feel. Check out Kiira in this video.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I've had people tell me before that Bekah looks like Suri Cruise (as in Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's daughter) but I was taken aback today when I saw this picture of Suri and compared it to a picture of Bekah in a very similar dress. Crazy!

Suri Cruise


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Suffrage Saudi Style

Having lived in Saudi Arabia as a young teenager and then again in my early twenties, I was immediately drawn to a news article "Defiant Saudi women get behind the wheel". I often forget what it's like there, even having lived in the country myself, until I read an article like this one.

When my family lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, many of the same laws and religious fatwas existed as they do today, but in general things were a bit more relaxed. As a western teenage girl, it was recommended that I wear the abaya (black robe covering my clothes) and veil, but I didn't always have to. We all knew that whether or not you wore an abaya depended entirely on where you were going and for how long. If you were going shopping in a street market, you'd better wear that abaya and head scarf if you didn't want to be harassed or even beaten; I was never threatened physically myself but I knew of women who had been. On the other hand, if you were going directly to a store with your parents for a quick trip, you could go without the head garb and possibly without the abaya. That is, if you didn't mind being glared at.

My family moved back to the United States in 1986, but they returned to Saudi Arabia in 1992 right after the Gulf War. When I moved there in early 1994, things had changed. There was a shift to the hard right which at the time I didn't understand. On September 11, 2001 of course I did. It was nothing short of a miracle that I was even able to get a visa to enter the country in 1994 as a 22 year old single woman. Although my father was working there, and his company arranged for my visa, a young single western woman was not usually granted entry especially for an extended time. I was thrilled to be able to return to Saudi. I had many happy memories of my time living there a decade before, and I longed to visit the places that meant so much to me: my old school, our house, the city of Riyadh. I missed Saudi Arabia.

As soon as I arrived, I asked my father if we could travel to Riyadh. My parents were then living in Dammam which is quite a distance from the capital city of Riyadh. My father was hesitant and explained to me how hard it would be for him to get permission for me to travel in the country as a single woman. He said he'd have to get special papers allowing me to travel between the two cities as well as documentation proving that I "wasn't a prostitute" as he put it. Even though I am his daughter, I wasn't allowed to share a hotel room with him, and I had to be completely covered the whole trip even during the 4 hour drive from Dammam to Riyadh in the middle of nowhere.

My father did arrange for me to travel with him on business to Riyadh, and I was able to visit my old haunts. I loved being back in that beautiful city. And, it truly is beautiful. I relived so many good memories in that short trip and was grateful for the chance to be there. But, there was also a sadness I had for the changes that had occurred politically. The sense of oppression was palpable to me although I couldn't understand at that time why things had changed so much in 10 years.

Today, however, reading about these brave women getting in their cars, albeit with their husbands as protection, and driving...driving!... something we take for granted every day of our lives...I felt hope that one day the Saudi people will enjoy greater freedom and peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Boring Housewife

I've been thinking a lot lately about some of the myths that exist in our society. For instance, I'm a Mormon so I must be naive, white, suburban and have little knowledge of the world. I'm overweight so I must be depressed, self-deprecating and hate my body. I'm a stay-at-home mother so my life must be dull, colorless, monotonous and boring. Movies tell me this; television tells me this; magazines tell me this. If I cared at all what society thought of me, I'd be an unhappy person indeed. But, reality never is as simple or stereotypical as movies portray it to be.

My life and I are much more complex than that. I'm a Mormon who grew up moving from country to country where most of my friends were decidedly not suburban, white or even American. Although my weight isn't what it once was, I'm a generally happy person and I can still see the beauty in me when I look in the mirror. And, let me just say now for the record that being a stay-at-home mother is anything but boring. Boring never happens to me. Sometimes I wish it would. My days are filled with glorious chaos and messes and children who say things like, "I'm a superhero princess and I'm saving my kingdom." Not boring.

It got me to thinking about how these myths came to be. I can't even count how many movies I've seen where the boring naive subservient housewife realizes how bored, naive and subservient she is and only finds fulfillment by leaving behind her overbearing husband and nagging children. It seems like we are ever faced with story after story of women whose lives aren't really meaningful until they break out of the confines of motherhood. Who makes these movies anyway? Women who have been stay-at-home mothers and have now "seen the light" that it was all a waste of time? Who are their subject matter experts? Is there some stay-at-home mom they've hired as a consultant to tell them how it really is? No, because most SAMs (stay-at-home mothers) are busy teaching, feeding, listening to, and taking care of their children. In other words, they're not sitting around bored.

I have to add here that I'm not saying being a mother is easy...at all. It is hard work, but that's my point. It's work, and it's filled with never ending surprises and chaos. So, whatever it is, it 'aint boring. For some reason I think it makes people (and I mean people who believe these myths) feel better to think that someone like me must be so miserable and unfulfilled. Or maybe they just have no idea how much is involved in taking care of little children who can't take care of themselves yet. A good friend of mine told me recently that her husband asked her, "Why don't you get a job? It's not like you're doing anything sitting here all day." I won't say the word that popped in my head when she told me he'd said that. But, it shows that he obviously has never spent 24 hours taking care of a 3 year-old boy and a newborn baby (who's nursing by the way.) I doubt my friend is doing much sitting around at all, and I'm pretty sure if you asked her to describe her life, "boring" wouldn't be the adjective she chooses.

So to all you fulfilled, self-actualized, educated, intelligent, talented, interesting, fun and busy housewives out there, just remember that even if they don't make a movie about your life, or your name isn't in lights, you don't make the big bucks or get an annual bonus, your work goes unappreciated, and you're misunderstood -- at least your life isn't boring! And there are little people who are growing up secure and loved knowing you are always there for them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mormon Culture Rant

Time for a little Mormon culture moment. I was reading an article in LDS Living Magazine online about the "hanging out" that seems to be going on with young LDS singles. Instead of looking for marriage prospects by going on one-on-one dates, both single men and women are hanging out in groups. I could write quite a long post about the entire Mormon singles culture since I spent 14 years in that world myself. It is a quirky odd existence and yet fun and entertaining as well... to a point. I definitely saw a lot of the "hanging out" going on, but I also felt like I had my share of dates and serious relationships over the years. Of course, things have changed a lot in the last 8 years since I got married.

Back in the stone age (the early 90's) when I went to BYU for my undergrad there was one aspect of Mormon singlehood that seems to be universal - the non-committal predator looking for a one-night-stand. Now in LDS circles premarital sex is a definite no-no, so a Mormon one-night-stand is really more like a one-night-make-out session. At BYU we called it a NCMO (pronounced "nic-mo"). It was a non-committal-make-out, a NCMO. So I had to laugh when I read in this LDS Living article about a kind of hanging out they call "non-committal-hanging-out". So is that a "nic-ho" (NCHO)? As in "she's such a NCHO."

To quote Carrie Fisher's character in When Harry Met Sally - "Tell me I'll never have to be out there again."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting Settled

Whew! Well, we made it through the month long hotel stay. We made it through the move into our new house. Finally, I'm getting a chance to decompress. Of course, there are still plenty of pictures to hang and boxes to open, but we've at least got the furniture in and clothes put away. It's amazing how much is involved with moving especially out of state. It makes me not want to move again for a long, long time.

Our new neighborhood is really nice. Not only is it a nice looking neighborhood, but the people are very nice. We've already met a bunch of our neighbors and have been invited to people's homes for dinner. The kids are making friends with kids at church and also on our street. It helps that the weather here is beautiful right now so everyone is spending lots of time outside including us. Our house has a great front porch, and it's so nice to sit out there and let the kids ride bikes. It really is beautiful here.

Although the climate and people here are great, I have been missing my life in Arizona so much. Truthfully, it's been pretty lonely in the house every day with the kids and not having the friends to call or meet up with. And it's also hard to be away from family when we've been spoiled for so long being close to them. I've done my share of moping but I keep reminding myself of all of the good things about this move. I love our new house. I love the weather. I love the rolling hills and grass. I love that Kent's commute to work is half of what is used to be. There are a lot of things to be happy about.

The kids seem to have grown up so much during this time. Forest has become a real talker. Kiira is crawling like crazy and will turn one in a month! Bekah's temper tantrums have become few and far between (happy day!) And Maija is growing up to be a sweet girl. She's an amazing person. Kent is loving his new job which is much less stressful than his previous job and he's really liking Colorado. We are excited to have a bunch of family come visit us soon. My parents and sister and her husband are all planning a visit in early July, and a few of Kent's family have been talking about coming up too. Can't wait!