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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Santa… I know him!

Yes, we have Santa in Dubai.  Actually there are quite a few and they come in all sizes and colors!  Many of my friends have had their childrens’ schools and parties visited by what we call, “Tan Santa”.  It’s pretty hilarious!

We decided to go with our good friends and their two daughters to Wafi mall which has a Scottish Santa in his Grotto…  not a workshop or the north pole… a grotto.  As an American my only connotation with a grotto is from the Playboy mansion.  I had a mental picture of Santa sitting in his pimped out velvet chair, smoking an old pipe while wearing a red silk smoking jacket with a white script SC embroidered on the lapel.  Scantily clad lady elves would be walking around with spiked eggnog in champagne flutes while snowflakes fall around them as a cloud of steam billowed out from the hot tub in the corner where Rudolph was hanging out.  Needless to say my mental picture was WAY OFF!  We pulled up to a cute little layout of two buildings and arts and crafts tables to entertain the kids! 

Luckily we got there early before it opened, but still had to wait about an hour… it was worth it though.  We were there to see Santa be pushed into the Grotto by his elf… and he even gave Leighton a high five.  She thought that she was hot stuff after that.  I think I even overheard her say to a friend that she would never wash that hand again!

Once we got into the grotto, aka a waiting area for the kids right before they see Santa, we hung out for just a few more minutes and then our big moment had arrived!  We were certain what Leighton was going to freak out… like meltdown, sobbing, have to leave the line so you don’t scare the other kids kind of freak out.  She had never had a meltdown like that, but I just knew that this would be the time and place for it to happen the first time.  So, weeks leading up to seeing Santa I talked the big guy up telling Leighton how cool he is and how he will bring her presents IF and ONLY IF she told him what she wanted and sat on his lap.  We even did Santa roll plays!  Well, it must have worked because this is how it went down…
Santa's helper with the big girls

She was amazed by the Grotto!

The Secret door to the Santa room opens… oh, I haven’t mentioned that Santa is in his own special room with no windows so you can’t see him prior to actually going into his room.   The anticipation is crazy for the kids!  I am sure this isn’t allowed in the States because of what could happen behind those doors… it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Anyways, we walked in to a cheery and hearty, “HO HO HO!”  Then Santa asked the girls to come closer and gave them cute little dolls all while warming them up with some boisterous banter.  He then asked Leighton, “what would you like for Christmas?” I look over and Leighton is literally chewing on her fingers, she was so nervous.  I pulled her hand out of her mouth and he asked her again.  This time she said in a tiny voice, “a bicycle…” Santa gave a big laugh and said he thought he could handle a bike for such a good little girl.  Well, that buttered her up and she realized it was just that easy so she yelled out, “a DORA BIKE!”  Then she yelled out louder and clearer “a PINK DORA BIKE... and CORBY WANTS A BLUE CAR!!!!!”  I was so impressed that she had such confidence… you go little lady!  Then we moved on to the pictures…. It had gone too smoothly thus far.  I just knew this was when Leighton was going to start screaming.  The photographer wanted a family shot first and then one with both girls if possible.  Jon held Corby and I sat with Leighton as we took the family pictures….all went well.  Then Jon handed Corby to Santa while I gave LC a quick pep talk as I backed away. “Just like we practiced, munchkin!  Smile pretty, be a big girl, you can do it!” Wouldn’t you know it… she was doing it… I was so proud!  Then I hear it… Corby crying…  SHIT, I hadn’t prepped the 9 month old… DAMN IT!!!! So this is what we got!

We then took the little turkey out of the shot and got this ridiculously adorable solo shot of Leighton and Santa… I still am so proud of how she handled herself… such a big girl!

I can’t wait to see if Santa will follow through with those big orders that L and C are asking for, however I have a feeling after that great display at the grotto at least the eldest one is set!
Until Later…

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Leighton has not always been known for taking the best pictures.
Just take these recent examples...


 Jon and I have tried to tell Leighton that she needs to smile for a camera and I guess when we have shown her how to smile.... Well, maybe we are over exaggerating just a smidge because this is the result...

Don’t get me wrong, I think Leighton has an awesome smile when she genuinely smiles but when she is faking it you can tell! Here are some candid natural smiles…

With school pictures fast approaching we talked about her smile every day and she got into the swing of a normal, natural, sweet smile…. Then picture day came and went.  Leighton’s teacher reassured me that my first born was totally into picture day and that she couldn’t wait to see the fabulous results.  Two weeks later, I show up to school to this peach of a picture…
And then this one…

Are you kidding me kid…. Seriously?  Well, don’t you worry Leighton… every one of your high school boyfriends will see this gem of a picture.  Thanks for the blackmail material youngin’!

Until Later...

Yes, Like Hillary Clinton…

I may or may not have an addiction to Starbucks.  I try to hide this addiction from my husband (since prices are higher here than in the States) but it is time to share and come forward!  Hi, my name is Hillary and I am addicted to a grande cafĂ© mocha, skinny with whip (yes, skinny with whip, don’t judge) with an extra shot!  I have tried Costa (tastes like cardboard), Caribou Coffee (way way too sweet) and every local place I can find, but I always come back to the sweet nectar of Starbucks… it just makes me happy. 
You want to know what else makes me happy?  The way my name is spelled by the baristas!  I would say in Dubai 100% of the Starbucks workers’ first language is not English… I wish more than anything that I was bilingual, but my brain just doesn’t work that way… so I can’t be mad or frustrated or annoyed… but I can laugh!  The only time that my name is ever and I mean EVER spelled correctly is because the Barista makes a joke about my first name being the same as Hillary Clinton.  It usually goes like this…
Barista: “what is your name?”
Me: “Hillary.”
Barista: ”like Hillary Clinton… haha!”
Me:”yep… just like Hillary Clinton.”
And then I get something like this on my cup…YEA!
Here are the close calls…
Getting colder….
Way off…
And my all-time favorite…
Lord only knows what they think I am saying my name is but it is always good for a laugh… just like the fact that it only took me a few weeks to compile these pictures... all though my wallet isn’t laughing!  Alas, I will still order my addiction and continue down the road of no return if only for the amazing linguistic surprise that I receive at the end of every order.  Bless you Dubai Baristas and keep those gems coming!

Until Later…


Monday, November 18, 2013


 Yes, we carved watermelons this year.  I was going to buy a pumpkin at the store... Just a normal orange pumpkin, nothing fancy.... And get this, it was going to be $68.  Not even joking!  I did some research and found I could buy them at normal prices at a fruit and veg market, but time got away from me and I ended up just buying watermelons for about $9 total....
Shhhhh, they're Iranian, don't tell anyone.


This year we were supposed to have a baby chick and a flamingo (thanks once again to the Middlebrook girls!)... We even perfected the one leg up move on the scooter, but come game day, well, we weren't having any of a fluffy, padded winged costume.  We wanted to be a Cinderella princess damn it!  Seeing as we don't have a princess dress in our house (yet), I did my best to convince her that a Texas cheerleader is a princess. She just wears a burnt orange dress and not a glittery silver dress.... It didn't really go over so well but she begrudgingly put it on when I told her she couldn't get any candy without a costume.  Parenting  done right people, ha!  We then went to our old community's golf course get together, met up with a few of Leighton's amigos, and Jon joined us after work.

Before we knew it Leighton and Corby were ready for bed and Halloween 2013 had drown to a close in a flash.   However, not before our newly potty trained child urinated all over the driving range....
Keeping it classy in Dubai.... Always keeping it classy.

 Until later...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I wish...

This weekend is the opening weekend of ACL fest in Austin.  I bet you are thinking from the title that I wish I was there.... Well, you would be very wrong!  I wish I loved concerts, let alone three day long concerts over two weekends.  I wish I lived for the release of the ACL artist lineup.   I wish discovering new artists was fulfilling to me.  I truly wish I gave a shit... But truthfully and sadly, I don't!
 I was born and raised in Austin, live music capital of the world… I think we gave ourselves that title but I’ll take it anyways!  There is music everywhere in town.  So much so that when one of my brothers in law asked where to see live music last time he came to Austin I was stumped because, like I told him at the time… “There are people playing everywhere!”  I guess I never appreciated music because I was raised around every kind of music and it was playing all the time… maybe I have always taken music for granted.  My childhood was filled with music ranging from good old country music to Elvis Presley to James Taylor to the Rolling Stones and the list goes on.  My grandparents always lead the old German hymns at our family reunions and preformed solos in their church choir.  In my life I have played the piano, violin and church bells (I was really cool as a kid!).  Growing up my parents took me to more musical productions at Bass concert hall, Zachary Scott and the Paramount than I can count (again… I know I was super cool kid, right?).  My parents have always been music lover.  My Dad even owned roller skating rinks when I was kid and was always up to date on the newest music to play at the rinks (does that put some cool points back on the board for me?).  My sister, Tracy and brother, Derrick, got the “love of music” gene for sure, but it missed me.  Don't get me wrong, I think music is awesome and I think this world would be a sad place without any! I also enjoy a concert every now and again... My all time favorite concerts have been...
1. Bone thugs and harmony (Yes, this was my all time favorite concert even though Bizzy Bone was still in jail)
2. Dave Mathew band   
3. Sting and the Police  
4. Jason Mraz opened by G love and the special sauce  
5. Jerry Jeff’s 60th birthday party in Luckenbach.  
Not going to lie… I really only enjoy concerts when I know the songs (or at least most of them)... When I don't know the songs, I feel like an awkward white lady trying to dance and make it look like I have some rhythm, all while trying to drink a beer gracefully! 
Ultimately, l love good, new music but I just don’t want to seek it out. I want people to tell me what is good without having to be outside for three days waiting hours for the port-a-potties and having my beer go hot in 5 minutes.  So, I guess I am musically lazy… maybe that’s why I never excelled at any of the instruments I have ever played!  I need people to pick up the slack for me and help a sister out with a list of new, cool bands and their good songs… I am talking to you; Mon, Jes, Missy and Bush!   For now though, I will live vicariously through my friends photos on instagram and updates on Facebook of the latest and greatest band they saw on a random Tuesday night at Stubb’s, Saxon Pub, Continental Club, Austin Music Hall or over the next two weekends at ACL fest.   I will keep on wishing that I am that cool girl that can wear my badass ankle boots, cutoff shorts, flowy printed tank tops with a Kendra Scott necklace, a slew of bracelets up my wrist and a headband positioned every so perfectly across my forehead with one single feather attached somewhere in my ombred hair… all while carting around my ridiculously cute and perfectly mild mannered baby in her soundproof headphones and wearing only organic textiles. 
 Until I buy that wardrobe and get bit by that music bug, I will just have to keep on keeping on with what they play on the two radio stations my car picks up in Dubai (not even kidding here people... my car only receives two English speaking channels and I spend a minimum of 2 hours in the car a day).  So to all you music crazies out there… know I am really just super jealous that you love music as much as you do.  I truly wish I was as passionate and cared as much as you do about something that can bring out so much emotion in people… and in all honestly I really I just wish I was as cool as you and could pull off your wardrobe!
Until Later…

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The world lost a great man a month ago.  Jay Middlebrook was the salt of the earth, he was a warm shoulder and an open ear when you needed it and lord knows he was always ready with a joke.   Today would have been Jay’s 69th birthday.   

There are times in life when the line between friends and family gets blurred and your friends become more…they become family… well, it worked the other way with Jay.  He was family, but for me he was a friend, too.  My sister, Tracy, literally met her husband, Joe, in kindergarten.  Tracy and Joe were in kindergarten two years before I was born and a year before Joe’s sister, Lindsey was born too.  The Middlebrook family has been in my family’s life longer than Lindsey and I have been alive… crazy if you think about it.  So when the day came that Tracy and Joe finally tied the knot I got to give jay a title… he became my father in law-in law… aka father in lala.  He was “officially” family! 

My memories of Jay go back to Northwest Hills where he would go swimming with me and Lindsey when we were just little things.  I remember him standing at the end of their long driveway in San Marcos coaching us girls on how to ride Lindsey’s mini motorcycle and not kill ourselves.  I still remember the smell of his pipe that cold afternoon… how his teeth held on to it as he giggled at us two rolly pollies bouncing, wobbling and flying down the rocky road holding on to the handle bars for dear life.  

As is life, there was a gap in time where we didn’t see the Middlebrooks as much… aka, Tracy and Joe weren’t dating… but how lucky for me that they fell back into each other’s lives when I was finishing high school.  Fortunate not only because Joe was back in the family (he was my favorite boyfriend that my sister ever had), but because he brought three other amazing people along with the package!  The time that has passed between then and now has included four trips to Akumal, one impromptu trip to Vegas where I crashed the Middlebrook’s vacay, two cruises, god knows how many trips to Galveston, a wedding shower, a full on Cumberworth/Middlebrook Christmas and more San Marcos back porch sitting sessions in pie pants than I can even count.   Jay walked my mom down the aisle at my wedding, babysat my dogs, introduced me to gingersnaps with sharp cheddar cheese (don’t knock it ‘til you try it) and has given me more side cramps from laughing than you can even imagine.  The thing that I will miss most about Jay Bird is his humor (and his love of spicy food).  

Jay was always there with a laugh.  He was full of… well, let’s just say, he was full of it.  I have never known someone who literally has a joke for everything but man, Jay always had a joke.   Just weeks before he passed, Jay was sitting on the front porch of their new house in Lakeway, when he called Campbell (his 6 year old granddaughter) over.  He said, “hey Cam you hear that?”  In the distance you could hear a jackhammer… she replied, with “yeah, Pops... What is it?”  Jay said, “you know Cam, it’s the Lakeway dentist… some kid’s been eating too much damn candy!”  He retold that story to me and literally laughed out loud!  

Oh his laugh… it wasn’t so much of a laugh as a giggle or a chuckle.  I can see him standing in his kitchen just waiting for the first fool to eat his “special peanuts”.  When that poor soul ate them… the ghost chili peanuts that is… and the spice finally hit the back of their throat, I can still see his shoulders bouncing as he let out is chuckle and slapped his leg with pure delight.  Linda promptly made him put a note next to the nuts so no one else would fall victim to his prank. The note read something along the lines of “Warning, these nuts will burn your ass”.  Those notes were another part of his Jayisms… those moments when you just have to laugh and wonder, who thinks to say that?  Jay always got up early and had the coffee ready to go for us hung over idiots that woke up hours after him.  One morning I woke up to one pot that read on a sticky note, “black gold” and another pot beside it that read, “Old San Antonio donkey piss.”  Haha… hilarious! 

Behind all of his jokes was a father that loved his kids and grandkids more than life itself… a caring husband… an animal lover… a teacher… a confidant… a chef… and a business man who could flip a switch and get the deal done at a moment’s notice.  He wore many hats, was successful at them all and supported and encouraged those around him along the way.  Although he wore many metaphorical hats, he was lucky to be in a profession where he didn’t have to wear many suits.  Jay was most comfortable in fishing shirts, shorts and flip flops… for fancy occasions he might pull out his linen slacks and if we were really lucky he would wear his green sport coat.  No no, not hunter green or forest green or any other green that may have been appropriate… this jacket was Sunday at the Masters green… and you know what, jay was the only person who could ever pull that off and he did on multiple occasions.  

I will miss Jay so much.… more than words can say, but you know what….. god damn I was lucky to have known the ol’ mullet.  I was lucky to have 31 years of laugher and stories and memories.   Lucky for all of us Jay also left his humor, wisdom, and caring nature in is son and daughter that we can hold onto forever and a wife that was the perfect match for all that was Jay.  I will forever be grateful to have known Jay, to call him family and best of all to call him a friend.   

Jay Bird, when we meet again, whenever or wherever that may be, you better be ready to tell me a joke as soon as I get done giving you a big old kiss! 

Until Later...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Justa Swinging

There are many things that bring joy to Leighton’s life but at the very tip top of the list is not me or Jon, not  ice cream or even TV with Peppa Pig and Dora!  The number one thing that brings pure joy to our munchkin is swinging!  This girl could spend hours swinging and I am not kidding… she will literally swing for hours.  In our recent past, every weekend  in the Cumberworth house was spent pack up and heading to a local park where Jon and I would take turns pushing Leighton to her little hearts content… or until we had had enough and we would pry her little fingers off the swing chains.
On the days we didn’t have time to head to the park we would get this…OMG mommy and daddy… can we go swinging?!? Now please now now now now now!!!!!
What do you mean we don’t have time?  You don’t have time for your oldest child’s favorite activity on Earth?  Well, I hope you can feel the daggers my eyes are throwing at you right now and I hope they hurt and crush your soul just like you are doing to me at this very moment!
So what do caring parents do? (And by caring I mean smart but extremely lazy parents!)  They buy a swing set for their backyard!!!  So for Leighton’s 2nd birthday we gave her the gift that will keep on giving…. a bad-A set of swings!

Wait… what am I looking at?

Holy balls… those are swings!!!!!!!!!!
Who is going to set this thing up?  Am I going to have to do it by myself?
In classic Dubai fashion they sent the wrong color and proceeded to try to tell Jon that it is meant to have one tan side and one blue side… in the swing company’s words, “it is the newest style.” Um… No! So we got a new blue side delivered the next day.
I am going to sit right here Daddy…
Unfortunately mean mommy had to swoop in and drag the little swinger (that just sounds wrong) upstairs for bath time.  Every family can only have one fun parent right? I had to play bad cop this time… oh the joys of parenting!
The swings have been a hit thus far… we have used them with our friends!
We have swung by ourselves…
And we enjoy swinging really really high!!! Or in Leighton's words, "SUPER HIGH!"
We even enjoyed swinging as a Hawaiian cowboy princess! 
I have no doubt the swings will be a hit for years to come and I know Leighton cannot wait for her baby sister to join in the fun.  Almost every day I find her hanging out on the swing like the picture below yelling, “mommy push me… mommy PUSH ME!” 
I am very happy that we made this purchase and I know it has and will continue to make our oldest lady happy, but if little miss Leighton doesn’t learn to pump those legs soon I think I might get a touch of the carpal tunnel from the repetitive pushing… do you think I can file for workers comp with Jon?  Momma could use some disability pay!
Until Later...