Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's: A Look Back While Moving Forward

While getting ready for a get-together at our neighbor's for New Year's Eve, I took some time to reflect on the crazy year that was 2010. My whole life changed, AGAIN, and while I prepare for yet another life changing experience in 2011, here is my 2010 in one blog post:
      • Back in December 2009, I started working at Ernst & Young in Damascus, which was a great experience for me. Through August 2010, I made amazing new friends, and I learned a lot about businesses in Syria and got to work on some interesting projects which helped me learn that I like being in the service business. Hopefully I'll be back doing some of the same kind of work in the near future.
      • Living away from my husband during the first half of the year was difficult. He was living in Derezor while I was in Damascus, and we tried to find him a new job so that we could actually live in the same city but to no avail. Luckily, his same company ended up notifying him of his transfer to Saudi in June, and he moved there in July while I moved there at the end of August. The transition seemed much more difficult than it actually was, and now we are very happy here in Saudi and living a somewhat normal married life together (even though he goes away a lot for work).
      • Travel-wise, 2010 was an exciting year considering I got to visit 4 new countries. In March, Al and I spent a week in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates which is now officially one of my favorite places in the entire world.
      Al and I in front of Burj al Arab- Dubai, March 2010
       At the end of May, I got to go to Kuwait for a training course for work. Kuwait was pretty, but I felt like it didn't have any character. The shopping was great though! 
      View from the top of the Kuwait Towers- Kuwait City, May 2010
      In August, I moved to Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia to start a new life there with Al after he got transferred there. It was interesting getting used to all the rules and customs of Saudi, but Al Khobar is a surprisingly open and beautiful place.
      With our wonderful friends at our Saudi compound pool- Saudi Arabia, Sept. 2010
      Living in Al Khobar has the advantage of being only a 30 minute drive away from the small island country of Bahrain, which gave me the easy opportunity to visit another new country in October. 
      Downtown Manama, Bahrain- October, 2010
      • Weddings and engagements: my best friend Katie got married in July in Hawaii (an event that I was devastated I had to miss) and my friend Sally from work also got married in July in Homs, Syria. I was glad I at least got to attend that wedding! My good friend Matt from high school also got married in October, another wedding I sadly had to miss. My best friend Lindsey and sister-in-law Afraa both got engaged in December, so hopefully I'll be able to attend both their weddings in 2011! Congrats to all of them!
        Sally and I at her wedding- Homs, Syria July, 2010

      • Speaking of weddings, Al and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on August 7, 2010 :)
      • Even though I didn't get the chance to make a trip to the US of A in 2010, my sister Hanya and best friend Jill brought a little bit of "Amreeka" to me when they came to visit me in Damascus in May. It was great seeing my sister and so fun showing Jill around our crazy city and introducing her to our even crazier family.
      • On September 16, 2010 our life changed when we found out that I was pregnant. It was definitely a surprise, but our joy and blessings cannot be described. A few weeks later, we found out that we're having a baby boy, Omar Alaa Kabalan on May 26, 2011. Now about halfway through the pregnancy, I am thankful, feeling great, and preparing for my homecoming back to Nashville in February so I can give birth there in May :)
      Overall, 2010 was a great and exciting year full of surprises and new experiences. Although being away from my husband during the first half of the year was a very difficult and trying time for me, I focused on adding more work experience by getting a job at EY until we had to move to Saudi Arabia. I learned a lot about myself this year...I learned that the first year of marriage is indeed the most difficult, but if you can make it through those hard times together, you can make it through everything together.  I learned that I am pretty good at adapting to new lifestyles, and it helps to surround yourself with wonderful friends, old and new. I learned that I can give up coffee and hookah cold turkey just for the sake of the little being growing in my belly. And I also learned that ready or not, I'm going to become a mother.  

      I'm so excited about 2011, and am praying for a healthy and safe delivery of our precious baby boy. I constantly wonder what he will look like, what his personality will be, how Al and I will deal with the pressures of parenting, what he will want to be when he grows up...If any of my past experiences in life have taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected, and that you can never thoroughly plan and be prepared for everything. It is with this open mind and excitement for the new and unknown that I am welcoming in 2011. And I am lucky enough to have rung in the new year with some of my best friends here in Saudi.
      Our little New Year's Eve party!

      My lovely neighbor, May
      Al, me, and baby Omar in my belly: Our first family picture of 2011 :)
       Here's to a happy and healthy 2011 for everyone!!!



      1. amazing post noura!! im so proud of you...i think about little omies, you, and al every single day! you are going to be incredible parents. Omar is going to be one lucky kid! I can't wait to meet him!

      2. thanks, Jilly! i'm trying to be as confident in myself as you are in me, haha...we are so excited and hope that we turn out to be good parents for him! you better block out the end of May so you can be ready to come meet him whenever he arrives :)