Echolac Bags 

I bought a diaper bag while I was pregnant and I like it, but I don’t find it convenient to pack or carry. Because Y and I travel quite often, I decided that a backpack style diaper bag would be much easier. 

I stopped in a luggage store while taking a quick walk at the mall. I found a backpack that I liked and next to it was a little shoulder bag. 

I love that they match and thought that the smaller bag would be useful for quick trips out of the house or as a diaper change bag. The great thing is that it can also slip right into the main compartment of the backpack.

The backpack – 300 SR / $80

There are four zipper pockets on the front of the bag. 

The top right has a pink pocket and a sort of attatched lanyard with a clip on the end. The top left has a pink pocket and a grey pocket. The grey pocket has two slots for pens. Both open up from the top and side.

The two bottom pockets are empty and only open from the side.

The next zipper compartment of the bag is the largest section. The side closest to the front has a mesh zipper compartment. The side closest to the back has a pink pocket.

The final zipper compartment is smaller. Closest to the front it has a pink pocket about the size of an iPad. Closest to the back is a padded laptop pocket with a Velcro tab at the top. 

The back of the bag has a sleeve and snap so that it can slip over the handle of a rolling back. Behind the sleeve is also a zipper pocket. 

It has a handle at the top and two adjustable padded straps.

The shoulder bag – 150 SR / $40 

There are two zipper pockets in the front of this bag. One is similar to the bigger bag in that there is a pink pocket and a clip lanyard. The other pocket is empty. The right pocket is slightly larger than the left.

The main zipper compartment of the bag has a pink pocket closest to the front of the bag. 

It has an adjustable strap and can be worn as a shoulder bag or cross body.

الحمدلله

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Hospital Bag

From the beginning of my pregnancy I saw blogposts, YouTube videos and pins on Pinterest about packing a hospital bag for labor and delivery. I even received advice and suggestions from friends. However, I didn’t even start thinking about my own bag until about midway through the 35th week. One of my friends said, “You better get going on that.” 

I took my overnight bag out from my closet and set it on the floor in the living room. It sat there for a couple of days staring at me before I began putting some items beside it.

The first time I “finished” packing I looked at the bag and thought, this can’t be right. The bag was about 1/3 of the way full and all of the examples that I had seen showed a fully stuffed bag. I panicked. “Am I packing too lightly?”

But at some point before my doctors appointment, which was 2 days prior to baby’s arrival, I gave up on that perfectly packed bag. I zipped up the bag and there it sat. 

What did I pack?

For me:
-sweatpants (a new black pair from City Max)
-nursing bra (on from a three pack I bought on Amazon)
-3 pairs of underwear (a new 5 pack from City Max)
-tank top (new from City Max / altered using a nursing top tutorial)
-open front sweatshirt
-slippers
-socks
-jersey robe
-sleep mask
-washcloth 
-toiletries (toothbrush, deodorant, contact case/solution/glasses, lotion, shampoo, comb, stretch oil, bottom balm, aloe vera gel, chapstick)
-snacks (granola bars, pedialyte packets)

For baby:
-2 new baby sets with button up sleepers, hats, bibs& scratch mittens (Mothercare)
-2 onesies (Gerber)
-fleece blanket
-going home outfit (onesie, sweater jumpsuit, socks & hat)
-7 diapers (Seventh Generation)
-trial size wipes (The Honest Company)
-cotton pads
-healing balm (Babyganics)

After my time in the hospital I laughed at all of the time I spent worrying about my bag.
Guess what I actually used?
-deodorant
-aloe vera gel
-comb
-contacts/solution/glasses 
-1 pair of underwear
-robe
-the dress I wore to the hospital while in labor

That’s it. 

I understand why we think so much about this bag and why it’s so easy to overpack. I think I’d also probably prefer to have things I might not need (to a point) rather than not having it incase I do. 

Thankfully, my hospital provided me with just about everything I could have asked for. 

الحمدلله

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Postpartum in KSA – At the Hospital

*WARNING – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES AFTER LABOR & DELIVERY.

There I was on the hospital bed feeling all sorts of relief. My full and stretched belly was now strangely empty. The tiny kicks were no longer there. The pressure and pain I had been feeling for weeks was gone. But nearby was a tiny little baby.

There were all sorts of feels as I held her in my arms and she looked up at me with her precious eyes. I held her close and attempted to feed her for the first time. She latched and sucked, but for what only seemed like a few seconds. That made me nervous, but hopeful. I knew that breastfeeding was probably going to be difficult, but I felt determined.

Soon after the nurse came and told me that they would take the baby to the nursery. I said no, but she insisted. I tried again to say no, but in that situation I really think as a first time mom it is necessary to have someone to advocate for you. The nurse took her to clean her up and dress her in the nursery.

As I waited for a room to become available for me, I felt the sudden need to use the restroom. I called the nurse, who told me that she didn’t want me to get up as I might pass out. She handed me a bedpan and closed the curtain around my bed. 10 minutes later I called her back and told her I couldn’t manage this way and wanted to go to the restroom. She nervously dealt with my IV and walked with me across the room. I didn’t imagine how uncomfortable it would feel to get up and walk, but that wasn’t even half of it. Once in the bathroom, I did what I needed to do. Wiping was the most terrifying thing of the whole labor and delivery ordeal. How could I possible be this swollen? Is this normal? Am I going to be like this forever? The nurse helped me clean up with some cool water from the bidet sprayer. She then helped me into a pair of disposable underwear while inserting the biggest, thickest, longest pad I’ve ever seen. That was another terrifying thought. Blood, blood and more blood must be in my near future. I had seen the outcome of that on the pad that they had placed under me on the hospital bed, but I guess I assumed that was more from the delivery and not the aftermath.

Eventually, they came to take me to my new room. I would stay there for two days until I was ready to go home. They wheeled me down the hall, through a door and into a room. I moved from one bed to another and looked around…

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Labor & Delivery in KSA

*FYI – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES DURING LABOR & DELIVERY OF MY FIRST BABY.

November 21, 2016

At 7:40 pm I woke up from a short nap with back pain. I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I pulled the shower curtain outside of the tub, closed the drain and turned on the hot water. I got in the tub slowly as it was filling. Bubbles formed foamy clouds as I felt the pain in my back and tightness in my belly come and go. They lasted about 45 seconds but within the hour the time between them varied from 2 minutes to 20 minutes. I relaxed in the water until I felt I had enough. I pulled myself out of the warm soapy water and wrapped a towel around my round pregnant belly.

Y was still sleeping. I went to the kitchen and made myself something hot to drink. In the living room I turned on the tv and sat on my rubbery blue exercise ball. Bouncing and rotating my hips made me feel more comfortable and lessened the pain in my back when it came.

Around 10:00 I asked Y if he would take me to a nearby park to walk, as around the apartment had felt better than sitting. We walked for about 45 minutes or so. I was still having the contractions. During that hour they were from 20 seconds to a minute long and happened anywhere between 2 1/2 minutes to 14 minutes. On the way back to the apartment Y stopped to get me a vanilla milkshake from Baskin Robins.

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Pregnancy in KSA

*FYI – THIS POST IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES DURING PREGNANCY.img_9504

Wednesday: March 30, 2016 – First hint of pregnancy
Monday: April 11, 2016 – Confirmation of pregnancy!

First Trimester

Morning sickness  [more like all day sickness]
Unhelpful – car rides, heat, lack of sleep, most foods
Helpful – sleeping in/naps, lights off
Foods – Kraft macaroni & cheese, DQ slushies, Ramen noodles, Pediasure (with milk)
Other Items – Sea Band (acupressure bracelets for nausea)


Trips
– Dubai {weekend getaway}, Ha’il {to see Y’s family}
Events – Work, Start of Ramadan
Beauty – Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil
Medication – Navidoxine (for nausea), Prenatal vitamins, folic acid

Appointments:
April 20 – 7 weeks –  Ultrasound — check to see developing embryo with heartbeat
May 16 – 11 weeks
May 30 – 13 weeks – Ultrasound — first time to see “baby” (head, body, limbs, heart).

Overall feeling – Sick. Tired. Happy to be pregnant.

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TTC in KSA

*Warning – this post is about my experiences while trying to conceive.

*You’ll find hyperlinks within the text that connect you to helpful websites.

Before I begin I would like to say thanks be to God for everything and every situation.
الحمدلله على كل شيء
الحمدلله على كل حال 
ِEverything happens (or doesn’t happen) at exactly the right time based on God’s plan.

Y and I had waited a long while for the paperwork to come through making our marriage legal here in the Kingdom. By the time everything finally happened both of us were more than ready for our family to grow and so our TTC (trying to conceive) journey began.

It was August 2015 and we were in Ha’il just after our wedding celebration with the family. While driving around the city in the car I looked at Y and said, “I want to ask you something.” He smiled at me as he usually does when I say something like that and replied, “What is it?” I’m not sure if I thought there was a chance he might say no or if I just felt more comfortable shyly bringing up the topic as a question instead of a request. “Can we start trying to have a baby?”

I was nervous about the whole thing. I was afraid that for some reason I would not be able to get pregnant. I had been on the birth control pill from the time I was 16 or 17 (for severe menstrual cramps) until I was 22. That September (2013) I started feeling very strange about the chemicals that I had been putting into my body for so long and decided to start praying Istikhara (prayer done while seeking God’s guidance) in order to make the decision to continue or to stop using them. After a few days of prayer and a couple of dreams I made the decision to stop taking the pill and to use other methods of birth control. This led me to start researching fertility awareness methods.

My first cycle off of the pill made me remember why I had started taking it in the first place. The cramps came on slowly and before I knew it I was on the sofa in the fetal position moaning and groaning while I waited for the Advil I had taken to kick in. It took me a few months, but I finally figured out how to deal with the pain and carry on with life.

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A first time for everything…

I’ve been living here in Saudi for 2 years, 9 months and about 30 days. And this is the first time I have felt the need to sit and write a post to blow off a little steam.

Because women are not allowed to drive here in Saudi, I have been in the car with various drivers. Most of my experiences here have been normal, if not even pleasant. It is nice to not have to drive in a city as crowded as Riyadh.

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I remember the Eritrean man who picked me up from the airport when I first arrived to Saudi. He was an older man, but he took my bags and lifted them into his trunk. He drove along, all while pointing out places to me and offering to stop and get me something to eat.

I remember the bus drivers from the recruitment company that carted us to and from work everyday. Once in a while they would stop to drop off some of the girls at one of the supermarkets. Honestly, I couldn’t make a complaint about those guys.

I remember the old Pakistani taxi driver that my friend and I stumbled upon by chance. He took me to work every morning. He picked up my friends kids from school and brought them home. He drove my friend and I in the afternoon from the university. He was probably the driver that I felt most comfortable with here. He was a kind old man. He was punctual and he was safe. Unfortunately, his mother fell ill and he returned to Pakistan.

I remember when I started my current job Y and I were at a loss as to what to do for a driver. He ended up hearing about a company that provides drivers. The first week with my new Egyptian driver was fine. When I walked outside in the morning I would find him waiting for me. In the afternoon he would pull up just as I was leaving the building. The actual car rides were okay as well, although traffic was extremely heavy those days because of construction. After the first week things started to change. He was often late or he would send a different driver to pick me up. That wasn’t a huge problem, but usually the new driver had no idea where to go and I wasn’t confident enough with my Arabic to tell him directions (not to mention that often by the time I realized that he didn’t know where to go I was already lost myself). These guys were nice enough to talk about me while I was sitting in the back seat not realizing that I understood most of what they said, despite my ability to give them directions. Anyways, I could deal with these things. I could also deal with the original driver’s impatience with the traffic, but at some point he stopped driving me because he needed to have surgery and there was quite a long recover time.

I remember that this is when one of the backup drivers he sent started to take me daily. This guy was also Egyptian, but seemed to be the opposite of the first guy. He was quiet and calm. He drove safely and was on time (usually…except the days when I’m pretty sure Y’s phone call woke him up from a sound sleep…morning and afternoon). When I came back from my summer vacation and needed to return to work, Y started to take me in the morning, but this same driver picked me up to go home in the afternoon. Then one day he called to tell us that he was accepting a job with the electricity company in AlQassem. I actually felt a little heartbroken that he was leaving.

I remember a few days later that driver told Y that his “brother” would be willing to take me from work. It seemed that he had given him his car.  Let me tell you…it was a nightmare. I hate to complain about these things. It has taken me weeks to get to the point where I feel the need to do so. But the last day that I rode with him was the last straw. I ignored him and used Uber to go home (which happened to be an easy and relaxed ride).

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Anyway, this is life and sometimes we don’t get the service that we think we are paying for. At the same time I’m still very positive about the situation here as the majority of my experiences with drivers have been more than fine.

الحمدلله


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Back at it…

Back in Riyadh and back to work.

Somehow I’m already 6 weeks into this 8 week session. I don’t really know how that happened, but I would say it is most likely because I have been genuinely enjoying my classes.

These weeks I’ve been assigned 3 intermediate level groups. I teach a class in writing, reading & listening.

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The classrooms where I work now have only smart-boards, so I spend quite a bit of my time preparing for lessons in front of a computer. That means when I go home I don’t usually open my laptop unless I need to finish up a powerpoint or other document for class.

I was thinking of this blog today and realized that I completely missed my 3rd blogiversary. 3 years ago I started this blog without much direction. A few months later I got a job and moved to Saudi Arabia. Ever since then I have been trying to use this as a space to share my life here in the Kingdom and any other travels that I might experience.

So far I don’t think that I’ve been very successful, but I’m sure that is due to my inconsistency in posting. I said the same thing last year and while not much has changed, I am still hoping that it will.

Once again I really appreciate all of you who may have stumbled upon my blog and taken the time to read through it. Thank you for all of your comments, messages and emails.

الحمدلله


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DIY – Sleepsuit

Because I bought a yard and a half of the super soft pink material for the backing of my triangle quilt I had quite a bit of material leftover. After finishing the two bandana bibs I decided to make a little zippered sleep suit from that same soft material.

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I used this white Sherpa Sleep Suit from Carter’s brand as a pattern.

I put the Carter’s sleep suit inside-out onto the pink plush material and cut two rectangles the same size as the suit. I then traced along the arm holes on each side of the suit and cut the rectangles to match. To make the rounded shape for the neck on the front of the suit, I folded the front rectangle in half and cut the corner from one end so that both sides would  would be even. With that rectangle still folded I cut down the fold to make two even pieces for either side of the zipper.

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I bought a 22″ pink polyester zipper for the center front of the suit. I sewed the zipper face down onto the plush side of one of the front panels. I did the same with the other panel.

I folded and pinned the neckline and the armholes so that I could add a topstitch to stop the material from fraying.

I then placed the front and back panels plush sides facing each other and pinned them together. I stitched the shoulders together and then from under one armpit to the other. I tied off my ends and cut any excess material from the borders.

To finish the piece I used some scrap white binding around the neckline. I did this the same way that I did the binding on the quilt. The only difference is that I did spend some time folding the binding over to create a sort of ( v ) shape where the zipper starts.

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الحمدلله


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DIY – Bandana Bibs & Headbands

I had some leftovers from the triangle quilt that I made and decided that I would make a couple of little bibs to match.

Abby from Simply Small Wonders posted a wonderful tutorial and pattern for baby bandana bibs.

I also followed this tutorial from Coconut Love to make little fabric flowers as decorations for the bibs. These are super simple to make and look absolutely adorable.

To make these bandana bibs I used leftover triangles and backing material from the quilt that I made.

I used the pattern cutout 2 layers from the triangles and 2 layers from the plush material. I lay them pattern/plush layer facing each other and stitched around leaving a small space open to turn the piece right side out. I top stitched around the bib to close the opening and to flatten it out a bit. I then stitched lines following the triangles as I did on the quilt.

I used the last of the cut triangles from the quilt fabric to make some little flowers. I traced some small circles onto the fabric, cut them out and then stitched them according to the tutorial above. I made 6 of them – 3 for each bib. I attached them to the bibs using a hand needle and some thread.

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To finish the bibs I used some permanent adhesive velcro ovals for fabric. It’s the first time that I’ve used these and I fell in love. They are so easy! You just peel them off, stick them on and you’re done.

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EXTRA: When I finished the two bibs I still had a few triangle pieces left and I decided to make a few more flowers.I also found a tutorial/pattern for felt bows. I still had some white felt left over from the hooded baby towel that I made and so I used some of that. I found some elastic cord at Walmart ($1 each). I bought a while and a gray. I cut the cord down to 12″ and stitched the ends together. I attached the patterned fabric flowers to the white cord and the white felt bow to the gray cord. This was a super simple and cute way to use up my leftover fabric and create something extra to go along with the quilt and bibs.

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الحمدلله


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