Home?


I’m American. I grew up in the Adirondacks of northern NY state. I went to university in VT about an hour away from my hometown. The first time that I really moved away from home was August 2012. My husband was accepted to study his masters at a university in IA and since I had finished my masters, I went with him. From August 2012 until December 2013 I lived 17 hours away from my dad and 10 hours away from my mom (by car). Then at the very end of December 2013 I decided to take a job and move to Saudi Arabia…

Now I find myself calling two places “home”. The little town I grew up in is “home” because it’s what I know and most of my family live there. Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia is “home” because it is where I live and work. It’s where my apartment and my things are. It’s where my husband and I stay together. It’s the place where we started our own family. 

When I’m in Saudi and I say “home”, I mean NY. When I’m in NY and I say “home”, I mean Riyadh. That one word has different meanings for me. It hold different emotions based on which place I’m talking about. 

My home in the US is full of old memories — summers spent playing ball, harsh winters spent in front of the wood fire. There are places so vivid in my mind – this path leading up to a small waterfall near the top of the river that runs through town, noises I can hear if I close my eyes — rain on the roof of my bedroom, things I can imagine feeling — my feet stepping on the grass of our lawn, smells that I can sense when they are nowhere near — crisp autumn leaves, and tastes that still seem so fresh — cool water straight from the tap. The nostalgia  I get when I’m away is so real.

On the other hand, there is a quote that describes my feelings for Riyadh perfectly – “You know that you’re in love when home becomes a person, not a place.” My husband makes Riyadh “home” for me. Riyadh is nothing like where I grew up. Its the opposite of what I know. It’s a crowded city. It’s a desert with hot, dusty summers and mild winters. But somehow I feel at home there. I feel my place there and I miss it when I go away. It’s a place where I feel safe. It’s the “home” where I start to make new memories.

The beautiful thing about this is that I’m almost always “home”. 

الحمدلله

S

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

200 Posts!

post-milestone-200-2x
I finally hit the 200 post milestone on this blog.
I started in September 2013 unsure of what I was actually going to use this blog for, but a few months later I got the opportunity to move to Saudi Arabia for work. Since then I have been trying to show others what life is like here in KSA and more specifically, give light to all of the fantastic and beautiful aspects of living in this country.

To those of you who have been around since the very beginning, thank you! To those of you who are new, welcome! I know that the last year has been very slow around here, but thank you for checking in or for going back and looking at past posts.

Anyways, here’s to another 200+ posts!

الحمدلله


S
sig

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.

الحمدلله


S
sig

The Wedding Day – KSA

We arrived at the wedding hall. I got out of the car with my bags in hand desperately trying to keep the scarf on my head and over my face as we walked inside. We went to a little bridal room just past the entryway. Y’s sisters and mom finished getting ready while I put on my dress. I sat in one of the chairs against the side wall of the room as everyone ran around trying to finish preparing before the guests started to arrive.

The photographer, an Egyptian woman, came in and started taking pictures of the decor. At some point they removed the clips from my hair and attached the skirt to my dress. Y came into the room, smiled and took my hand. “Let’s go to see Gramma. She’s here,” he said to me. We walked into the main hall and there she was sitting on one of the couches near to the entrance. As soon as she saw us coming she started clapping. We greeted her, holding her hand and kissing her head. Moments later we returned to the bridal room to take pictures with his sisters and mom and then of just the two of us.

Y hurried off to the men’s section and the photographer continued to take my picture. She posed me, moved me around the room and asked for certain expressions…all in Arabic.

After she finished we both sat down and waited for the moment when I would enter the hall. I was so nervous. There were about 400 people in that other room and I only knew about 10 of them. For many of them it was the first time that they would see me and I think there were quite of few of them who came simply for that reason: to see Y’s American wife.

At some point Y’s mom came into the room smiling at me. She asked me if I was scared and I said yes. I think she felt for me, but quickly mentioned that that my friend and her mom were at the far end of the aisle and that she would come to sit with me on the stage after my entrance. I smiled and waited for them to call me to come out.

I stepped forward out of the room until the entrance to the hall was on my right. I turned and started to see all of the people to my left and to my right. Y’s oldest sister was in front of me next to the photographer. I took 3 steps and then paused on repeat until I reached the stairs of the stage. The entire time I was doing my best to smile, but I could feel my lip trembling slightly from nerves. I walked up the stairs, pausing for a picture and then stood in front of a white bench. Y’s sister adjusted my veil and the skirt of my dress as I looked out at all of the guests.

Eventually, she guestured for me to sit and with a smile asked me if I was alright. I think at that point I could finally breathe and I smiled back at her with a nod of my head. Soon after the singer began to sing and the women began to dance.

My very dear friend, a Saudi woman who I met in VT back in 2011, with her mom and her sister came to congratulate me. My friend stayed and sat next to me on on the stage. I felt instantly more comfortable in that moment. She was also a new bride and could understand how I was feeling. It was a mixture of nervousness and utter excitement.

Y’s mom and her friend came on the stage and started dancing. We clapped our hands and they also came to congratulate me, kissing me on the cheek and holding my hand.

During the reception the singer sang various requests from the guests, the servers brought around trays of snacks and sweets, single roses with a piece of chocolate were distributed to the guests, and women walked on and off the stage to dance.

It was a beautiful and wonderfully memorable night that ended with me putting on my abaya, exiting the building and getting in the car with the love of my life.

Y’s family did a lot in planning the wedding in just two months. They chose everything and it was far more than I had ever imagined. I’m so grateful and I feel truly blessed.

However, I must admit, the biggest gift that I received that day was seeing his mom, sisters and grandmother smile. Their happiness for us made my heart content.

الحمدلله


S
sig

Our Wedding – KSA

I really wanted to share some details from the wedding that we had here in KSA. My next post will be in depth details about the entire day/night. Until then, here are some photos.

Say ما شاء الله MashAllah ☺
IMG_5940^ the women’s section before decor
IMG_6165
^ traditionals – savory snacks
IMG_6224
^ favors – rose and a chocolate
IMG_6576^ Mirror shot
IMG_6248^ his and hers
IMG_6183
^ dress details
IMG_5892^ veil appliques
(crystals applied by hand by sis-in-law)
IMG_6235
^ the very unique bouquet
IMG_6691
^ “Welcome to the family, Sumayah”

الحمدلله


S
sig