Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Aloha!

What a crazy few months it's been!  We've left Idaho, and I'm leaving my Idaho blog as well.  Please join me at my new blog chronicling life in the Aloha State:

Dispatches from Hawai'i

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Readying for the move


We had our yard sale/moving sale yesterday--it feels great to have less stuff.  I still think we have too much (especially toys), but we've reduced things quite a bit. 

Our flight reservations are made, we have a moving company, B's field trips and last semester of teaching here are winding down... in a few weeks we'll be on our way.  But right now we're busy getting organized and sending kids to camp and packing and so on....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Belize

Our first stop on the geology trip was Belize.  We arrived in Belize City in the morning, and took a boat to St. George's Caye.  The Caye was gorgeous--peaceful, quiet (no cars, and hardly any people since it's small and away from the big tourist spots), clear skies and water.  After dropping off our things at the Ecomar research station, and a delicious lunch, we got back on the boat and headed to a dive spot for scuba and snorkeling.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest in the Western hemisphere, and one of the longest in the world.  I hadn't been snorkeling or diving in a long time, so this was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

The water was clear and beautiful, and we saw corals, fish, rays, anemones, urchins, a sea turtle, and more.  We learned about the processes that create white sand from marine organisms such as halimeda.  After that most of us headed back to the station, but B and a colleague left again for a night dive.

The next morning we went snorkeling at an old British shipwreck site, where the geologists examined the ship's ballast, trying to determine the type of rock and point of origin.  We then went back to pick up our things, and headed to Belize City.  We dropped our things at a hotel there, then rode in a big van on the western highway towards the rainforest.  We stopped at Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve for a cave tubing tour.  We walked through the forest, learning about the indigenous trees and plants on our way--everything from allspice to the great ceiba tree.

When we reached the tubing portion of the tour, we got into the water one at a time, sitting in our tubes, and linked up.  We had two guides, who took us through the caves and answered questions.  It was a bit slow-going at times, since it was the end of the dry season and the water was a little low, but it was still fun and interesting.  When we finally came to the end, it was dark, so we quickly changed, had dinner, and then drove to the Belize Zoo for an after-hours tour.  It's a small zoo, situated right in the forest environment, and contains only native Belizean animals that have been orphaned, rescued, or bred in captivity--we saw tapirs, howler monkeys, a jaguar, a harpy eagle, and more.  Being right in the forest, we also unexpectedly crossed paths with a wild fer-de-lance, an extremely venomous snake, which was very exciting!

The next day was Easter--we walked to church, and afterwards came back to our hotel to pack up.  We rode to the airport and boarded a little 12-passenger plane that would take us to our next stop on the trip:  Flores, Guatemala.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mesoamerica field trip

Pacaya volcano, Guatemala

In April I had the opportunity to go on a geology field trip with B and some of his colleagues.  During their semester break, they planned a trip to Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico.  Luckily for me, my mom was able to come up to Idaho and stay with our kids so I could go along with them.  It was a wonderful trip--we were able to see so much in such a relatively short time.  What I'd really love to do now is go back with my kids and stay a little longer in all the places we visited!

It's impossible for me to adequately describe our experiences in a single blog post, so I've been avoiding any attempt at doing so, but I still want to share some of the things we were able to see and do.  So for my friends and family who are interested, I plan to write a short post for each of the three countries we visited, highlighting a few things from each.  If that doesn't work, I promise to share more photos at least!

Basilica in Mexico City, Mexico

One thing this trip made me realize is how sad it is that I have not traveled in Central or South America before!  These beautiful countries are not very far from home, and I studied Spanish for two years in junior high.  (My Spanish is pretty basic, but certainly much better than my Arabic, and it was fun using it a little on our trip.)  Like I said, I'd love to go back to all these places, and there are dozens more places in Central and South America that appeal to me more than ever.  How I can visit them after we move to Hawaii, I'm not sure, but I think I need to find ways to make more international travel a reality for myself and my family.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Islamic arts



On our way to southern Utah, we stopped to see a special exhibit on the "Arts of Islamic Culture" at BYU's Museum of Art.  (This was the main reason I went along on the trip, I have to admit.)

The exhibit is really well done--it was nice to see works of Islamic art from so many parts of the world and different time periods, and to learn a little more about how the writing, art, architecture, and design are all tied together through Islamic culture and belief.

It's a beautiful collection--I miss not living in a place where I can see elements of Islamic art on a daily basis, as we did in the UAE, so it was a very welcome experience for me.  I'm happy that I can still read Arabic, a little--I wish I had learned more while I was living in the Middle East (because it's a lot harder to carve out time for it here)--my vocabulary is so limited.  K and C have forgotten a lot, which I think is sad, but they don't seem to mind.

After the exhibit we visited the interactive Education Pavilion inside the museum, which was also wonderful.

Astrolabe activity in the Education Pavilion

Puzzle activity in the Education Pavilion

Tree of Wishes in the Education Pavilion

Arabic alphabet iPad activity in the Education Pavilion

Eclipse


We made a whirlwind trip to southern Utah last weekend, because B wanted to see the full annular eclipse, which we couldn't do here in Idaho.  It was a little crazy--we left Saturday morning, stayed with my family that night, then had to drive home Sunday night right after the eclipse--we didn't get home until 4:30 am Monday morning.  (I don't recommend doing this, and I never plan on doing it again!)  But the kids made it to school, and B made it to work, so it all worked out in the end.  And it was fun to see the eclipse and visit family.



Monday, April 30, 2012

Bird nest live webcams

These have been fun to check in on with the kids--right now a Red-tailed Hawk is feeding its 3 chicks:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/cornellhawks

And we saw 3 Great Blue Heron chicks yesterday, when the parents switched places, here:

http://www.livestream.com/cornellherons


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Searching for snow



We're finally getting some snow in Eastern Idaho, and I've realized how wonderful it was that we didn't have to deal with this weather last month when we were moving.  My oldest daughter wanted a really snowy winter, since it's our last winter for who knows how long... but I'm glad it has been pretty mild so far (by E. Idaho standards, anyway).  It will still be cold and we'll get snowstorms until June, but it's not an intensely cold/snowy winter, which is great.

Driving on Teton Pass

We've had some car problems this month, which is not so fun, and makes me miss wonderful Al Ain, where if you don't have a car you can just walk out to the street and get a cheap taxi anytime.  Luckily, our car was fixed, and we were able to make a trip to beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where there is plenty of snow for all to enjoy.  (One of the best things about being in Eastern Idaho is that we can visit Jackson and the Tetons.)  B had been wanting to take us on a sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge, while I wanted to take the kids snowshoeing somewhere--we were able to do both and it was a fun and much-needed getaway.

A pair of bull elk on the National Elk Refuge

C and S watching one of the elk herds

One of the horse-drawn sleighs on the refuge

N trying out her snowshoes

Setting off on snowshoes in the Gros Ventre Slide area

S exploring the trail

 I do love visiting Jackson Hole....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A new year, a new (temporary) home


We have had a rather amazing month.  We sold our house, and moved into a rental.  This is awesome because it means we no longer have to worry about what will happen to our house once B's job in Hawaii begins.  We were seriously looking at the prospect of being long-distance landlords, which we really did not want to be. 

I am happy because all the things that were broken, missing, or just not quite finished when we moved into the house had been fixed/replaced/finished as best we could, and more.  We like leaving a place better than it was when we found it.  I am also happy because the new owners are such a great family.  I feel really, truly thankful that they chose our house, in this current crazy housing market. 

It all happened so quickly, I still feel a bit amazed.  We are still living close to the university and elementary school, which is great.  The kids have enjoyed moving into a new place, and this house, despite being a rental, has some fun unique things about it that we will enjoy for the few remaining months here in Idaho.

There's a little bit of Narnia... (a lamp post right in the yard among the shrubs and trees, and an interesting lion discovered on a door of the house)



A little bit of Howl's Moving Castle... (our very own Calcifer the fire demon, residing in the gas fireplace)



And even a little bit of My Neighbor Totoro... (cleaning out the soot sprites/dust bunnies as we got the place ready to move in)


All in all, it has been a busy month, but a good one as we look to the future.  The move has also provided plenty of fodder for all the active imaginations in this family!