Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ward Book Club

Tonight I was able to attend my ward's book club. We read Counting Stars by Michele Paige Holmes. The really amazing this is that Shannon (Kayd's mom, of the famous Ky/Kayd connection) is friends with her, so Michele came to our book club.

It was interesting to hear her story of her writing and her inspiration and her process. She is a busy mom with 5 kids (10 weeks - 18 years old) and her husband is the Bishop, and she still finds time to write. She is in a critique group that I read about sometimes over on 6 LDS Writers and A Frog and it was fascinating to me that they each bring a chapter and meet every single Thursday. Every single Thursday!

She really inspired me. I have had thoughts in the back of my brain for a few years now that someday I want to write a book. Amy and I have said before that if so-and-so can get published, why can't we? It is not something I am very serious about (unlike Amy, who already came up with an idea and a fabulous first chapter), but it was exciting to hear Michele's story and think about possibilities.

I think it is one of those things that I tell myself, like someday-I-will-get-that-PhD or someday-I-will-be-organized-like-Mary-and-Darci or someday-someone-will-pick-us-to-parent-their-baby. Not super-realistic, but an idea nonetheless.

If you have not read Counting Stars, pick it up! Michele Paige Holmes has created interesting characters with quality writing and a good plot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dubai Trip

We are home (after only 32 hours of travel) from our fun-filled week in Dubai. It was really fun to go and visit Amy and to see all of the places she has been telling me about. I will put all of my pictures on Picasa, and just put the best ones in this post.

We got to Dubai on Thursday night, and Amy took us right to the Mall of the Emirates and to her favorite restaurant for Phad Thai. I think we ate there 3 times during the week, so that shows you how much she loves it! It was fun to walk around the mall after dinner. We even saw the famous Ski Dubai, which is an indoor ski run - inside the mall - in the middle of the Arabian desert!

Friday is the holy day in the Middle East, so we went to church and then back to Amy's place to watch a movie, and take a nap, and play some games. Amy is a killer Uno player!

Saturday we drove for a couple of hours out to Hatta, which has some mountains. It was great because the whole landscape changes. We were still in the desert, but the sand was a different color, and there were these rocky hills. I can't really call them mountains because I live in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, but they are pretty high for the area! We started at a pretty park, where we hiked up a hill to a replica watch tower and took some pictures. Then we went over to the Hatta Heritage Village and had fun walking through some restored buildings. Then we grabbed some lunch and headed back to Amy's place.

The jet lag did not really seem that bad. The biggest effect on me is that I woke up for 2 mornings at 4 a.m. I was always able to go back to sleep, though!

On Sunday Amy headed back to work, and Greg and I hung out at her apartment for a while watching movies. Then we went on a Desert Safari. This was quite an adventure! We started with dune bashing, which was my favorite part of the night. Luckily Greg got to sit in the front seat, and he did not get sick. Go motion sickness pills! Our driver was very good at spinning all over the dunes and running us up and down. It was great.

Then we got to the site for dinner and were able to ride a camel for a few minutes, and try on traditional headgear, and watch a belly dancer. It was fun to sit on the ground and eat traditional Lebanese food. You can hear the wind whipping around in the camel clip. I had a little narration that is totally lost in the wind!
video video
One interesting thing to me about the trip was how much garbage was in the desert. There was garbage everywhere. There was also a sandstorm happening, so it was hard to keep my eyes open, and they got really irritated. I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had not had to keep my sunglasses on the whole time - even after dark! But we got to ride the camel and spin around the desert in Land Cruisers.

Monday was probably my favorite activity. We went on the Big Bus Tour, which took us all over Dubai. We got to see a lot of the city, and we listened to a narration that gave a lot of background and information. It was fun to listen to things like, "on your right, you will see a great view of ..." the whole day.

Maybe the best part of the day was going on a cruise on the Dubai creek on a dhow. We went up and down the creek and got great views of the buildings. It was also a lot cooler on the boat, with great breezes from the Arabian Gulf blowing all around. It was hot that day as we were walking around, but worth it!

I love this picture showing the old and the new. The dhows are still used as trading vessels between the United Arab Emirates and places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

One highlight of the tour was seeing license plates number 39 and 456. Apparently, the Sheikh has license plate number 1, so the closer you are to that the more important you are!

After our day on the Big Bus, we met Amy at the Mall again, and ate Phad Thai (again) and then went and had some Haagan Daz. It's not a real vacation without that, is it? It is amazing as we walked through the mall how many stores are there that are the same as the US. Brands are the same - we truly live in a global economy where you can get anything, anywhere.

On Monday we took a taxi (we spent time in a taxi almost every day - they are pretty cheap and it was the easiest way to be able to do our thing while Amy was doing her thing) out to the Palm Jumeirah and the Atlantis hotel. The Palm Islands are insane, and considered the 8th wonder of the world. They are built, out of sand, and totally manufactured in the Persian gulf. They are chock full of resorts and private residences. Definitely an experience to see it. You can see from the first picture that there is a walkway, and maybe 100 feet of visible rocks, and then bam - it is the ocean. Crazy what humans can do.

While at the Atlantis resort, we paid 100 dirhams each (about $30) to see a little aquarium. We both love aquariums (Greg especially, who is fascinated by the ocean) but we were a little disappointed. The big huge tank was viewable for free, and that was the best part. Worth seeing the resort and the free part - not worth paying that much money to walk around for 15 minutes to see the inside part. Keep in mind as you listen to the audio on this little video clip that I was channeling my inner Virg!
That night, Amy had gotten us tickets to Cirque du Soleil, and it was awesome! I have always wanted to see one of their shows, it was over the top and impressive. One of the fire dancers had been at church on Friday, and it was neat to talk with him and his family about his job. We met Amy's friend Athena for dinner and then headed over to the show. I can't even pick a favorite act because they were all good. There were contortionists and trapeze artists and acrobats on trampolines and clowns. A fun night!

On Wednesday we visited Amy at her school and attended class with her favorite choir - 7th grade girls. They were cute girls, and they performed a bunch of their songs for us. Then we headed off to the beach. It was awesome to relax and feel the cooling breezes off the ocean! (Have you gotten the picture yet that it was HOT there?) Then we went shopping and out to dinner. On the way back to the car after dinner, it started raining hard, and it even hailed a little bit. Amy had told us it only really rained in January, so it was fun to get caught in a storm.

Thursday was our last day and it was a lot cooler after the rainstorm. We went to the Jumeira Mosque and had an interesting tour. Then we walked around for a while, and had lunch at an American restaurant. Recognize the logo? Then we walked around the beach again, and I got a great picture of Greg with the tallest building in the world behind him, the Burj Dubai.

We went with Amy to the mall one more time, and did last minute souvenir shopping, and Amy had Phad Thai (again) while Greg and I had something else. I can see why the cute girl at the counter knows Amy so well, and gets her order started when she sees Amy walking up!

Then we went back to Amy's place and finished packing and said our final goodbyes and headed off to the airport.

And that is our trip in a nutshell! Today I like it a lot more than I did yesterday. 32 hours of being in airplanes and airports does not work well for me. It was great to go, and it is great to be home. A big thanks to Amy for the invitation and the free place to stay!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And we're off!

We are all packed, and are just waiting for our ride to the airport. I am trading perfect weather (60s), for hot weather! That will make it really nice to lie on the beach, though.

Pray for peace in the Middle East!

Dubai Weather
Current: Clear
Wind: NW at 13 mph
Humidity: 33%
91°F | 69°F
Mostly Sunny
91°F | 69°F
91°F | 69°F
93°F | 69°F

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fun times

Last week Jayme and Rod were here visiting, and we had fun going over to Greg's parents and hanging out. It is so cute to watch Jasmine and Andrew together!

Tanya and Tammy are both wizzes at playing Super Mario and Super Mario 3 (the old Nintendo versions). We have them downloaded to the Wii, and it was fun to watch Andrew pretend to play along.

After a while, Andrew was tired of all of these people sitting on the floor playing and not playing with him. Here he is trying to get Tammy's attention:

He obviously won, eventually! Sorry about this video - I shot it with my camera turned, and now I cannot figure out how to rotate it.

My favorite picture of the night I am calling "Like Father, Like Son." It is amazing how many mannerisms we pick up from our parents!

We had fun hanging out and playing cards, and playing bowling with Dan on the Wii. Family members are a tender mercy - the acceptance and joy I feel from being around them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Exciting news!

We have made a birth mom's short list.

How cool is that? I do not know what will happen, but it is encouraging to know that someone is considering picking us to parent her baby! It is a baby girl and she is due to arrive in June.

Keep praying for us, and for this birth mom. I want her to make the best possible decision for herself. And if that means picking us, YEAH!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Storm

We are having a snowing-blowing-spring-storm. If you click on the pictures to make them big, you will be able to see the flakes zipping past the camera.

Contrast that with the weather in Dubai, where we will be in 9 short days... I love winter and the cold, but after 50s and 60s last week, I feel ready to give the 80s a try!

10-Day Forecast

High /
Low (°F)
Precip. %
Mar 10
Partly Cloudy 83°/69° 0 %
Mar 11
Sunny 84°/68° 0 %
Mar 12
Sunny 84°/66° 0 %
Mar 13
Sunny 85°/66° 0 %
Mar 14
Sunny 87°/67° 0 %
Mar 15
Sunny 87°/68° 0 %
Mar 16
Sunny 82°/69° 0 %
Mar 17
Sunny 83°/69° 0 %
Mar 18
Sunny 82°/69° 0 %
Last Updated Mar 9 05:27 p.m. Local Time


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