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Preview: Yo Ali

Yo Ali!

Updated: 2018-03-14T12:29:51.819+01:00


Merry Christmas!


Hello friends and family - I hope this letter finds your world full of love and laughter and the chance to sit down and have a rest! I am so feeling the need for a rest right now. The Ali Family has been on the move for what seems like the last six months. In all reality, it hasn’t been that long but, still, this past summer was full of movement and transitions. We left Djibouti in July and spent (almost!) two glorious months in the US and Canada doing all the amazing things I associate with summer in Seattle – blackberries, coffee, parks, friends, family, dinners on the porch, views of Mt. Rainier. It was a pretty heavenly time for us. September found us leaving on a jet plane bound for Sofia, Bulgaria. We are three months into our three year stay and so far we are settling in and finding our groove. Every day is full of adventure – like learning that not all white cheeses are the same and that it’s ok to drive 55mph down a dead-end street and that Bulgarians nod their head up and down when they mean no. Not to mention, the gray skies and rain!Orion has continued in the Lycée Français and is in the equivalent of first grade. This year he has a male teacher named Yvon and there are 25 kids in his class. He’s very much in love with “recreation” at his school; which he wants you to know he gets three times a day. His favorite thing to drink is milk and his favorite color is pink. O Boy loves Legos and his best friend is named Edward.Eric is knees deep into life here already; he’s made friends, found a great music scene, scoped out all the best places to grocery shops, started seated massage at the embassy and table massage to routine clients. Not too shabby for three months. He’s playing Santa Claus at the embassy Christmas party this year and I can’t wait to see how he does in this new role.I’ve got my hands full work-wise with a new job and new colleagues but I gotta tell you, it’s so much less stressful than our last two countries. Bulgaria has a reasonable medical system and it’s a relief to know there is a real ER to use if I need to. I’m loving the food, the return to nature, the movie theaters and the ability to stroll around on cobblestone sidewalks. Not to mention, the history! This place is OLD!We’ve got a great house with a guest room in an interesting neighborhood that is just itching for some visitors; so…consider this your invitation to come and explore Bulgaria (and give the Ali family some loving at the same time!) Peace and Love from our family to yours xoxo[...]

And the Winner is!


The Marine Security Guard's here in the Embassy threw a "Top Chef" like competition and guess who blew everyone else away? You got it right - the Tall Lover Boy. He took my recommendation to heart and prepared his amazing Thai Lettuce Wraps and holy moley those things were so good!

Not sure why this loaded side ways and I can't get it to straighten out but you get the picture...!

Happy Hoppy Easter


We had a great Easter weekend that included an egg hunt, dinner with friends, a champagne and cupcake happy hour and a celebration of the cherry blossoms. Nothing like a little diversity to rock our world!

Two Recent Faves


The rosey neck or ring necked parrots outside in our lone little tree

these boys who I love with all my heart

Q & A with Orion


I was reading this blog the other day that I got to completely by accident. You know how it goes…you click on something and it takes you somewhere then something at that site looks interesting and before you know it…BAM there you are at someone’s blog you would have never found on your own. So over at she asked her kiddos some questions and their answers were so funny! I decided to ask O them and here is what I got:

Q: What is my favorite food
A: I don’t know…spaghetti
My interpretation: really, spaghetti? I mean my husband is a mean cook and makes a kick ass spag but my FAVE? Have you not heard me wax on about lettuce wraps or beet dip or Yemenese bread?

Q: What do I do for fun?
My interpretation: I love this, it makes my heart feel warm and cozy

Q: What’s my favorite TV show?
A: Jake and the Neverland Pirates
My interpretation: ok, Jake and the Neverland Pirates is kinda a movie, more like a video short and its YOURS! Are you trying to project on me and get me to let you watch more TV?

Q: What do I drink?
A: Wine.
My interpretation: when O was four years old he used to ask us if every glass full of fluid was "alcohol" now at least its got a specific name...but ohhh dear child what about my coffee, my G&T's, my sparkly water?

Q: What do I do with my friends?
A: Take the car and party
My interpretation: and I love my kid!

Q: What do I wear?
A: Work clothes
My interpretation: ugh! He’s right though, work clothes 5 days a week – is 5 days tooooo many! We love weekends!

Q: Who is my best friend?
A: Me
My interpretation: and I love my kid even more!

Q: What do I do after you go to bed at night?
A: Watch TV
My interpretation: HA! or fall asleep on the couch trying to watch TV. Glorious aspirations, let me tell you!

St. Patrick's Day Follow up


Just in case you were wondering what Larry the Leppy left...

St. Patricks Day


It’s getting close to leprechaun season – well, at least in the Ali house. For the past month or two we have been gathering supplies (read: old boxes, scraps of paper, tubes) in preparation to build our leprechaun traps. You see, O has this book called “The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day” and let me be honest it’s a pretty shit book with terrible rhymes but he likes it because the kids in the book build a trap for the leprechauns. Rumor has it that if you trap a leprechaun, then the lucky little leppy will have to show you were his or her stash of gold is. The reality is plain and simple – O is a boy and he loves to build things. The fact that we might be able to get rich out of this is just a side note. During this last school break, O and Eric built the base of the trap and then this past week O and I added all the decorations. This is right up my alley! We dug out the hot glue gun, the pipe cleaners, glitter glue, scissors, all the fun stuff from our crafty box. We discussed how to make a ladder out of old (not used!) pap smear sticks (for my friends out there – you know how much I love using these sticks!) and had quite the discussion on how tall leppy’s were, how far they could jump, if they were scared of heights, this project raised all sorts of interesting topics of conversation. The traps are pretty much done. We have to find some coins or gold or something shiny and interesting looking to get the attention of any leppy’s that make it to Djibouti but for the most part, I consider this project complete. Now we’ll have to see what happens on the night before St. Patrick’s Day…if I don’t come to work the next day it’s because we trapped a leppy and I now have a pot full of gold! The finished trap...the leppy is supposed to walk up the steps and slide down the tube where the green arrow is.See the little door cut in the corner? This is so after the leppy gets caught, O can open the door and get him out! Tricky!More rocket ships and boatsEric's decorated side of O's trapThe ladder up to the top of O's trap...decorated with decorations from my 30th birthday party!This is my simple box trap...with enticing words to try and get the leppy to steal the treats...[...]

Happy Valentines Day


The spidey lunch box was a hit!

and heart shaped oatmeal pancakes...YUM!

Advent - Gingerbread Houses


Repeat after me...the key is using a glue gun!

Advent - Make Your Own Pizza!


Christmas Trees and Candy Canes!

Santa's Visit


Ernesto the Elf


Our elf on the shelf is named Ernesto. Normally, he doesn't do many troublesome things...yesterday, however was a different story.

Decorating Madness


The Embassy kiddos were invited to a Christmas Tree decorating party. It was an hour of sheer madness - markers, cookies and chaos...but hey, the tree got decorated and O got to hang out with his BFF.

O dressed himself in this old Christmas shirt, red shorts and shoes and the snowman necklace!
This is Nora one of his best friends.

Our Advent Calendar


So I was thinking that this year would be the perfect year to try an advent calendar with O. I looked online and thought about making one. Saw super cute ideas at etsy and thought about just ordering one but the one I fell in love with was over $100...ouch! Back to the drawing board and this is what we came up with. I used 12 activities and 12 little treats and filled the bags according to what's going on in that week - that way he opens them up in a certain order and I don't have to stress about trying to bake cookies on a work night. Know what I mean?
our advent list had to be modified from a bunch of ideas I found online. I love the pizza!

the old half of a drying rack that O and I found on a bike ride - we spray painted it a bright red and hung it on the wall!

This is the completed calendar. I stitched 24 little bags and trimmed them out. In hindsight, I wish I had made the bags a little bigger so things fit more easily but on the other hand the small size forced me to keep the trinkets small!

Thinking about Entoto, Ethiopia


Just outside of the city of Addis Ababa is this pretty amazing church and old palace grounds in a place called Entoto. Entoto was the capital of Ethiopia under Emperor Menelik II. We took a drive up the Entoto road, past all sorts of donkey's and people hauling all sorts of things. The drive was beautiful and the old palace pretty amazing. For some reason I keep thinking about this place...the day we visited was beautiful - clear blue skies, crisp wind and quiet.

cow horn hangers - these were used to hang up meat

super short doorway

The roof of the palace veranda...amazing work

huge tree that was significant but I can't remember why...maybe it was planted when the palace was still in use?!

Addis Insanity


 View from the plane - so incredibly green and different than Djibouti I love love love this billboard! Vibrant, indeed! See the red car coming down a one way street towards us? Hilarious!These old Itallian cars called...I can't remember what are all over the placeBig beautiful archway to the UniversityWe got caught in the middle of a student protest - complete with marching band![...]

Afternoon at the Beach


This lovely little beach is about a five minute drive away. We met some friends there yesterday afternoon and spent a couple of hours just chilling. No swimming but exploring the super shallow water, looking for crabs and soaking it up.

See that tiny spot way out there? That's the tall one!

Our new kites flew so great...check out the online kite shop called Into the Wind!

 And the most amazing sunset!

So Ready for Halloween!


Around these parts we are so ready for Halloween. We've been decorating since O's birthday and, if I do say so myself, the house is looking pretty great. One of my colleagues at work found a bunch of old VHS video tapes and we cracked them open and used the black tape for decorations - that along with another old branch from the street and we're set. VHS tape makes amazing spider websand a "really spooky" doorway said O - making his zombie looklove the Drexel heritage dressed up!and the bathroom cause I'm like that...[...]

Karate en Francais


Tonight was Orion's first karate class and it was super interesting to watch. I actually can't believe that the class happened. It is being held at the Djibouti Cultural Center which took us about 45 minutes to find the first time. Then we thought the class started last week but it turns out that was only inscription (registration) and then we had to find a karate uniform...yowza! So...the class was finally held tonight and so far so good! This class meets twice a week for 45 minutes a class and this class is for 5-7 year olds. The teacher is pretty strict and I'm loving that. The kids bow before the enter the room and they have to sit certain ways. I have never been involved in any sort of martial arts class so its all new to me.

He is so not paying attention

OK now he's paying attention
cute little sets of toes

warming the purple head scarf


Orion turns 5!


On October 5th Orion turned Five. His golden birthday and what a celebration we had...about 35 people, a warm summer afternoon, a clear blue pool and what else? Ohh yeah...chocolate cake with pink frosting and tinkerbell - per my sweet boys request!

My Butter Saga


We can order foodstuff from this bulk foods company called Seven Seas - its a great perk of living here in Djibouti and makes it easier to cook and bake. On the last order I decided that I was going to give my favorite French butter a rest. You see it is super expensive - about 4 bucks for 250 grams which is about 1 stick of butter or about 1/2 cup. I mainly bake with the butter so I thought we should try the butter from Seven Seas. Now ordering off of their catalog is difficult - its basically an excel spreadsheet with lots of abbreviations and many numbers. We had never ordered butter before so I found what I thought was a 4 pound box and ordered away...but when it came boy was I in for a surprise.

I took one look at the box and started to panic and then when I opened it...

I laughed hysterically...yes, these are individually wrapped pieces of butter? Dinner roll anyone?

In case you are wondering...10 pieces of butter equals 1/2 cup

Is it Pimms Time?


Missing summertime in London!

5th Birthday Prep!


I'm a scrounge. Always have been and living where its hard to find things has made me even more of one. Last year, I found dead plants that looked like cornstalks and tied them to my front porch. I used a broken side of a crib for a magazine rack in the bathroom. Big rocks spray painted gold made great leprechaun gold for St. Patrick's Day. You get the point. Well, the other day I was riding my bike home and I found this great branch in the ditch. You see being a beachy, desert kinda town - there are not many branches to be found. This branch wasn't from an evergreen tree but it still had pretty good lines and it just called to me. So being the resourceful girl I am, I jumped off my bike and made it down into the ditch (high heels and all) with a full audience of Djiboutian men. I got the branch, threw it over my handle bars and finished my journey home.Orion and I cleaned up the branch a bit and I think its going to make a great birthday tree. We've been working on decorations for it - using up all of our extra bits of crafting stuff - along with scraps of paper from the cutter at work. He's good at spelling his name"Show me what 5 looks like"[...]

The Royal Birth


There were signs everywhere!

Portobella Road Madness


Silver and gold buttonsAll Saints ShopA little coconut water never hurts!The long walk home...The closest I ever got to a bobby![...]