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.

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Ow! Ow! Ow!

We recently took a trip meeting Y’s parents at the Jeddah airport and taking a taxi together to Makkah. We arrived, walked into the tower where our hotel was, unsuccessfully attempted to check in and finally decided to complete our Umrah before the weather became too hot. Concierge took care of our bags and we walked to Masjid AlHaram. We forgot to bring a small plastic bag to store our shoes in, so we left them in the corner. They were just rubber flip-flops, which meant it wouldn’t be a huge problem if we didn’t find them there when we finished. We entered the Masjid and walked inside to the center, where the Kaaba stands.

We started the first ritual of Umrah.  During Tawaf the Masjid was full of the sound of the call to Dhuhr (noon) prayer, so we paused to pray. I find this part of being in the Masjid to be the most amazing. You will stand waiting to begin the prayer and all of the empty spaces around you will fill up in a matter of moments, without any pushing or harsh words. I’ve never experiences any other kind of organization like it. After the prayer we finished Tawaf and we walked to the part of the masjid to perform Sa’i. When we finished we began to make our way out of the Masjid and back to the hotel.
Something really surprising about being in the masjid is that fact that you can walk barefoot on the sun beaten white ceramic without frying your feet. This was lucky for us as we didn’t find our shoes as we exited the Masjid. We just shrugged it off and continued walking. Just before the end of the white ceramic there was a woman selling rubber sandals. Y’s dad asked her how much and when she said “10 riyal”, Y came back with “How about 5?” She said “okay”, but Y shook his head in that we were almost back to the hotel lobby, so there was really no point.

In that moment we all stepped from the white ceramic tiles to the colored marble that lined the path to the hotels. My first step was uncomfortable. The second step burned. By the third step the bottom of my feet were on fire. Y’s dad immediately started sprinting to the door. Y’s mom hopped around for a minute in a hilarious sort of dance before following dad up to the door. I decided to follow when suddenly Y grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the soothing cool white tiles. I looked at him and started laughing. He had a smile on his face as well, especially when he mentioned his mom’s little dance. Y decided to do business with the flip-flops lady, who smiled and stated, “10 riyal”. Y chuckled, purchased 4 pairs and we walked up to the door where we found mom and dad sitting, also laughing about what had just happened.

I swear it was the sort of thing that you could just imagine happening in a cartoon. I love these kind of memories. It’s the kind of memory that I can think about a year later and still laugh.



The Wedding Day – USA

We were in the car, driving from my hometown to the place where we first met. The place that always seems to pull us back.

When we arrived, turning off the highway and down the quiet street leading to the venue. Tall trees and green grass surrounding the path. In front of us was the cozy white building with green shutters and chimneys sticking out above the roof.

Y and I got out of the car and down the white concrete sidewalk to the front door. Y pulled open one of the large metallic handles of the heavy wooden doors. We walked straight through the lobby and into the reception space. It was a large white room filled with windows. The opposite side of the space overlooking the grounds of the property. Glowing white lights wrapped around the beams of the high ceilings. The tables were dressed with ivory linens and white china. Golden candles flickered on the tables. The flowers that my dad had put together sat beautifully in golden vases. I couldn’t help but smile. It was simple. It was perfect.

Soon after we both rushed off to get dressed and ready. My mom, grandmother, aunt and cousin changed into their dresses with me in one room, while the guys put on their suits in another. My mom’s husband helped Y with his tie, while my mom zipped up my dress. I slipped on a pair of tall gold glitter heels. My mom bustled the skirt of my dress as I put on my headscarf and pinned my veil in the back. A black velvet box held a set of gold jewelry. I put the rings on my fingers, placed a bracelet and watch around my wrists, hung an earring in each ear and clasped the sparkling necklace around my neck.

I met Y in the lobby, we smiled at each other shyly and began to walk around the grounds of the resort to have photos taken. We then made our way back to that heavy front door to walk into the reception. He held my hand as we walked through the arch of the doorway. Our family and friends watching with smiles on their faces. We stepped onto the wooden platform of the dance floor and the music started. Neither one of us knew what we were doing, but we just moved our feet and slowly spun around, one of my hands on his should, one of his hands on my waist and the others clasped together.

After our little twirl of a dance, we walked around the room greeting our guests, giving hugs and having overdue chats. We ate a delicious dinner of chicken with mashed potatoes, maple and butternut squash ravioli, grilled vegetables, soups, salad and homemade breads.

The music played. Our guests talked, laughed and some danced. A few gave heartfelt speeches that made us laugh and reminisce. At some point we were escorted to a rectangular table that stood in the corner of the room. On the table was a three layer vanilla cake with creamy frosting. A golden lace crown lined with little white pearls sat gently on top. A silver cake knife and server with branch like handles lay next to the cake. We cut the cake together, Y’s hand over mine. The cake was soft and light while the frosting was creamy and sweet.

Our friends and family came up to chat one last time before saying goodnight and making their way home. Their words and presence were greater than any gift that I opened from the satin box later that evening. I cried opening their cards and reading the notes. A beautiful party with delicious food and sparkling decor is nice, but without the people you love it is nothing.

Thank you to everyone who made our day so much more than just a wedding celebration. We love you.



Our Wedding – USA

Here some details from the wedding that we had back home in the USA. I’ll do the same as I did with the KSA wedding: a preview post with some photos and then a written post with my thoughts.

Say ما شاء الله MashAllah ☺

20151003_1907^Dress details – embroidery from my mother’s dress
20151003_1910^The shoes – tall, gold & glittery
20151003_1952^The rings with the bouquet
20151003_2339^The cake – gold lace crown topper
20151003_2383^iPad Photo Booth props
20151003_2422^The evening’s sunset



Eid, 25th Birthday, Life

Tea on the plane to Ha’il
A surprise cake during Eid festivities
Birthday cake and balloons from Yasser & his sisters
Dinner with the neighbors to celebrate all the recent marriages.
Beautiful mountains of Ha’il
Surprise from a friend
Baby duck at the farm
Tiny coffee
Y’s camping trip
Stopping to pray on the way back to Ha’il.
The ground had dried after recent rain.



More Travel – USA

A few pictures from my trip to the USA for our wedding celebration with my family.

I flew from Riyadh, KSA to Doha, Qatar and then Doha to Washington DC. I spent a few days with Y in Arlington before traveling to Burlington, VT. On the way back to KSA, Y and I took a bus from VT to Montreal, Canada. We spent a night there and then flew to Qatar then to Riyadh and finally to Ha’il for the Eid holiday.

IMG_7354The night’s sky – Arlington, VA
IMG_7331The night’s sky II – Arlington, VA
IMG_7476The comfort of home – The Adirondacks, NY
IMG_7527A breathtaking view – The Adirondacks, NY
IMG_7607The best breakfast – Montreal, Canada



Bodrum, Turkey – 1 year later…

Bodrum is a place that I still see in my dreams from time to time. It’s relaxing, refreshing and extremely beautiful. The food was so fresh. The air was clean and crisp. The people were kind.

The resort was small, but elegant. Our suite had a large bathroom with a spa tub and turkish style bath with a waterfall shower. There was a large sofa and on the other side of the partition, a king sized bed. It had a small dressing room with a big wardrobe and vanity table. Stepping outside there was a balcony with a table and chairs facing the sea. Next to the balcony a private patio of sorts with garden furniture, a swing with a canopy and a jacuzzi tub. To be honest, I was in love with the place based on having that private outdoor jacuzzi alone.

Everyday we had breakfast and dinner at the resort. The meals were probably some of the best that I’ve ever had. The Turkish style breakfast spread that covered our entire table was absolutely incredible. It included breads, jams, honey, olives, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits and more. I loved having so much variety and the fact that we could sit and enjoy all of the different flavors for an hour or so before starting the day.

Not far from the resort was a small town. We went a couple of times to walk, have tea and do a little bit of shopping. The weather was warm, much warmer than Istanbul, so we could walk in the evening without feeling the chill.

Whenever someone asks about our trip to Turkey, I think fondly of Istanbul, but my heart gravitates towards Bodrum.



Istanbul, Turkey – 1 year later…

Last October Y and I took a trip to Turkey. We visited Istanbul. I can relive the moments of that trip by seeing the different pictures of coffee and tea that we drank daily. I can still taste the bitter and dark sips of coffee and the smooth and sweet sips of tea. Istanbul is a beautiful city with a rich history. I enjoyed exploring its streets, but my heart broke as children came up to me asking for money or food. The children were Syrians who had fled the war. The eyes of the children who approached me are burned in my mind and I think that is why it has taken me so long to finally sit and write about this trip.

I remember a small boy who came up to us asking for change. His eyes were light, his skin weathered and his clothes dirty. Y told him that if he took us to the train station to buy tickets that he would give him some money. We followed him as he weaved through the crowded streets down and below the Grand Bazaar. We reached the booth for tickets and he took bills from Y to put in the machine. Y let him keep the change. As we walked away the police began yelling at him to leave. One kicked him as he started to run away. My heart broke.

Another evening we were walking after having dinner. It was cold. I was wearing a heavy wool shawl over my shoulders, but I could feel the chill on my nose and cheeks. As we turned a corner there was a small girl sitting at the base of a statue. She was shivering and had goosebumps on her arms. Y asked her if she was hungry, but she just looked at us without answering. He bent down and opened the take-away box that we had in hand. I took off my shawl and covered her with it. My heart broke.

While I am not sure that I would like to visit Istanbul again in the near future because of this situation, it was still a great trip and I will cherish the beautiful things that I experienced.