I never quite agreed with the whole It Takes a Village philosophy with raising children; but I wholeheartedly believe in the tribe. The bonds we form throughout different stages of our lives are so special and they don’t usually form overnight.. until now. Motherhood has been such a magic potion for practically instantaneous, incredible friendships. It truly is a sisterhood.
Nothing can prepare you for those first few months: healing from a major medical event, sleep deprivation, hormones, night sweats, frustration, worry, self-doubt, and sheer joy. Luckily, the long list before the silver lining was bearable and worth it, Iya is worth it. My local mom friends are absolutely amazing and so supportive but their babies were walking talking toddlers. I’d lay awake at night feeling like I was the only one never sleeping and spend my days talking to one little human who couldn’t respond yet, not even with a smile. The feeling of isolation was defeating (but that eventual first smile for mommy was EVERYTHING :) ).
I’ve known Saira & Zaineb via Instagram for some time but not on a personal level. Their babies are a few months older than Iya so I found myself connecting with each of them individually for advice (& just some company!), while they were doing the same with each other. We had quite the mom love-triangle goin’ on.. until one of us started a group chat and the rest is history! <3
These girls helped me through so many new trials, e-wiped my tears, sent me in fits of belly laughs, and always encouraged me to be the very best ME! We’d turn to each other on our low days and share the joys of even the tiniest of milestones. A great support system and a little bit of self-care is so so important. A good mommy needs to be a well cared for mommy! Back in September we stayed up late one night sending each other TBTs reminiscing over our pre-mom days (& bodies LOL) and began planning a girls-trip to just get away and get a break. We very quickly realized that it wasn’t our babies or our responsibilities that we needed a break from, but rather the monotony of daily life…
Iya’s first international trip, y’all! This time last week I was cuddled up with my lovebug in the mountains of Whistler, British Columbia! BECCA Cosmetics invited me to celebrate the launch of their holiday palettes, the Aprés Ski Glow Collection, and they were so accommodating with me bringing my daughter along. Iya is just shy of four months old and is exclusively breast-fed so there’s no chance of us being separated any time soon, neither of us are ready! I already got sappy about it on Instagram, so I’ll spare you the dramatics but BECCA welcoming us with open arms truly meant a lot. I had all kinds of anxieties about becoming a mother in this industry, thinking I wouldn’t be able to travel anymore or really participate in things but so far even with the challenges, my work-life balance has been incredible. Gotta roll with the punches!
Celebrating every milestone to the fullest is becoming more of a norm than a novelty these days. Me, being the perpetually extra person that I am, have absolutely no complaints about this new age of gender reveals, babymoons, and push presents! Waseem and I have traveled quite a bit since getting married four years ago but a dream babymoon was something I just had to have IRL. The era of just us was coming to an end and we needed one last hurrah before two became three.
Haha yes, I plagiarized myself & my Babymoon Essentials post (shh!) but I put my sentiments into words a little too perfectly there and I blame my new-mommy brain mush for being unwilling to write up a new intro.
Bora Bora has been on my bucketlist for years and I had my heart absolutely set on it being our babymoon destination – I refused to even think of a back-up. When I know what I want, I just have to have it! I wanted a relaxing, exotic, & obviously Zika-free vacation and I wanted to stay in an over-water bungalow. This pretty much narrowed it down to French Polynesia…
Happy Fri-Yay!! Another long overdue 2016 travel diary today… Istanbul! Waseem & I traveled to Greece and Turkey last spring for our third wedding anniversary. All of my Greece posts went up in a somewhat timely fashion but I really dragged my feet with sorting through my photos from Istanbul. I feel like I’ve mentioned it so many times already but I got so sick in Greece that our few days in Turkey were such a delirious blur. I slept almost the entire time and barely got to sightsee so TBH looking at these photos makes me a little sad too! I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul and while I’m so happy to have visited, I do really wish I was able to soak it up a little more! We did get to check off two of our top sights to see though – The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet was so generous in hosting us and we really couldn’t have picked a better location! Sultanahmet is the heart of old Istanbul and many of the major attractions are all here and in walking distance. The cobblestone roads were so charming and it must have been a little off season when we went (maybe?!) because nothing seemed to be crowded. It was very quiet & serene, we loved just strolling.
The Four Seasons is actually a century-old former jail! Who would think something like that would be converted into a luxury hotel?! The jailhouse was the first in Istanbul and was built in Turkish neoclassical style and underwent redevelopment in the 90s to preserve its history and architecture. The property now has 65 hotel rooms and suites with a gorgeous landscaped courtyard filled with flowers where we had breakfast every morning. The courtyard used to be the jail’s exercise yard, what a serious makeover! I love visiting places with tons of rich history, the property has so much character making our experience all the more unique.
We checked in at night and there was a yummy platter waiting for us (Waseem gobbled up all the Turkish delights!); we room service’d some tea for my throat and I went right to sleep. I woke up to such a lovely view of the Blue Mosque right from our balcony in the morning! You’ll see everything I’m describing in the photos below :)
Waseem and I have been in Dubai for a little over a week with still quite a few days left! Waseem is here on business and I was at Pop Con Dubai over the weekend speaking on a social media panel as well as being Chrisspy’s model for her masterclass (also at Pop Con!). I’ve been to Dubai several times, usually for long layovers so my mom could hit up the gold souq; but Waseem and I also visited for our first wedding anniversary almost three years ago! I was excited to come back for such an extended period of time with a little bit of experience under my belt. What I was most excited for was the chance to drive down to Abu Dhabi and visit the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque again! This mosque is my favorite place I’ve ever visited in the world – how can it not be?! It is so gorgeous and peaceful – not pretentious like I expected prior to my first visit. It’s beyond decadent, adorned with marble, gold, precious stones, and crystal galore, don’t get me wrong – but I think there’s something really beautiful about feeling proud of your place of worship.
The Grand Mosque was established by the late president, who wanted to create something that truly unified the Muslim world – its peoples, history, & art. Materials and artisans from all over the world were brought to design and create this mosque and the design is best described as a fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal & Moorish architecture. Yes, I got that from Wikipedia haha ;) The Grand Mosque accomodates over 40,000 worshippers and is made up of over 1000 columns and 82 domes, it will seriously take your breath away!
Tourist hours vary depending on the day. I was lucky enough to pray jummah (Friday prayer) twice here! In 2014 it seemed as though tourist hours began right after prayers ended (busloads of tourists came through as we were getting out) but the current schedule shows that tourist hours begin after 4:30pm on Fridays – be sure to check the schedule! I was a bit nervous about taking photos after prayers but no one said a thing & the mosque seems to be very photo friendly – they even host a photography competition every year! I have heard that you cannot bring tripods though, luckily I didn’t visit alone! :) To be honest, I don’t understand the Rihanna controversy from a few years back – she wasn’t doing anything that everyone else wasn’t doing! All tourists take a million photos. It’s the #1 tourist destination in Abu Dhabi and there are guided tours daily!
I drove down to Abu Dhabi with my friend Shyema (who took my bomb photos!) on Friday for Jummah prayer. Waseem & I spontaneously drove down last night and I have to say it is also soooo beautiful at night! To visit during Mahgrib (sunset prayer), is on my bucketlist! I don’t know if I can handle another drive this week, but God willing – next time!