Monday, September 26, 2011

The blog has moved!

Thank you for visiting!

After receiving constant complaints about readers not being able to comment on the blog posts I have decided to move the blog to wordpress, below is the new address:

Please pay me a visit there :)

From now on all new posts will only be published there!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Capturing the moment

I have the immense pleasure to introduce to you the work of a wonderful photographer (and a friend) who specializes in family sessions, maternity shoots and capturing little bundles of joy on camera! If you fit into any of the above scenarios do not hesitate to contact her and book your session immediately!

To familiarize yourself with her talent please visit the following Facebook page:

With any questions or requests you can email her at:

And now…here is a gigantic dose of cuteness for you:

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Baby shower, shower.

I am very fond of the idea of having a baby shower. What could be better than to gather with your closest friends and enjoy an afternoon spend together indulging in appetizers, chit-chat and unwrapping gifts!
I would also much rather prefer to catch up with everyone before the baby is born instead of having dozens of people visit me at the hospital literally hours after I give birth- with all due respect, that’s exhausting.
My Cynthia is currently in charge of coordination all the baby shower arrangements which is still a long two months away (but it’s never too early to plan, right?).  So this weekend we ventured into Mothercare hoping to get some information on their registration process. I was counting on a procedure that went something along the lines of: a give them a list of everything I need from the store and they share it with whoever shops for my baby shower. Pretty straight forward, right?
The tragedy conversation went something like this:
Me: Umm, excuse me.
(Both employees behind the counter continue pricing/unwrapping/picking their nose).
Me: Excuse me, hello?
(Employees turn around with totally blank expressions on their faces).
Cynthia: Do you do registrations for baby showers?
(Blank expressions continue…)
Cynthia: Baby showers? You know, like we want to hold a baby shower and we can register gifts so that the guests can chose from a list of items and bring them to the party?
(Here employees’ eyes widen but nevertheless the blank expressions prevail).
UselessEmployee1: We have this. (Hands us a Feedback and Comments Form)
Me: No, no. Well you know, for a baby shower, I can chose some items and people can give them to me during the baby shower.
(A light bulb appears above the head of one of the employees)
UselessEmployee1: Aaaa… (scratches head)
(Exchanges confused glances with UselessEmployee2)
UselessEmployee2: Baby Shower? Shower? Ohh shower? Ok!!!
(Both employees attempt to lead us to the shampoo/sponge/cotton balls/bath lotion section).
Me and Cynthia: Nooooooooo!
Cynthia: Not this shower, a BABY SHOWER!
Me: Cynthia stop saying shower! That’s what’s confusing them!
Bow. Applause. Encore! Encore!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It IS like brain surgery!

Miscarriage is still an extremely taboo subject in our society and age. Everyone seems to naively believe and convince themselves that it is not that big of a deal to have a baby. Whether planned or not…babies just “happen”. Well, I am here to burst your bubble people.
During the course of my pregnancy I learned of three different people who lost their babies during pregnancy. Over these short 20 weeks, 3 different people I know had heartbreaking, unsuccessful pregnancies. That is a scary a scary fact.
So I will probably unleash all my pregnancy hormones at the next person who tells me that pregnancy is not a sickness and having a baby isn’t exactly brain surgery. Coz it freaking is!
Within the span of the 40 weeks of pregnancy a woman can find herself facing all sorts of demons, from an ectopic pregnancy, to an infection or having a premature baby that doesn’t survive. So damn it, have a little more sensitively please! I’ve had people actually tell me “there is no reason you cannot do that, you are pregnant- not sick”.
Well, I hardly think that doing something while having the flue can mount up to carrying out the same task while your blood pressure is low, your lower back is screaming in agony, dizzy spells reoccur and you hyperventilate after walking for just 3 minutes!
I’ve had the most difficult time accepting that I am pregnant and allowing myself to be “happy” about it because I know that anything can happen along the way. When a friend with the exact same due date lost her baby at just 13 weeks, I was petrified. Alex kept telling me not to worry and that it will not happen to us, well I didn’t think my friends thought it would happen to them either?! It’s not something you even dare think about.
So dear insensitive bastards (you know who you are) show a little more compassion when you meet a pregnant lady. Offer to help her out, open a car door for her or even take over some tasks so that she can go and take a nap. If your mommy didn’t take care of herself and act like pregnancy IS a big deal…you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I am 170 years old

This could turn out to be a raving/raging post (yet again) about hospitals in Oman but because I currently lack the energy to be angry…I shall refrain from typing in CAPS and cursing after every second word.
A disclaimer: a first-time expectant mother will worry about every little thing that doesn’t “feel right”. She does not necessarily need to be in agonizing pain or in a life threatening situation to be rushed to the hospital. Sometimes a light fever and consecutive dizzy spells are all that’s needed to seek medical attention.
So there I am (at work-that’s where) on Wednesday morning when all of a sudden I begin to feel a little feverish and simply “off”.  I also had a few other symptoms that should solemnly remain between me and doctor so that half the world is not grossed out.  After fighting the sinking feeling that maybe this isn’t simple fatigue I caved and called a fellow doctor- who in turn told me to go to the nearest clinic and get checked out “just to be on the safe side”.
I seriously told my superior I will be back in an hour because I am going for a quick check up. (I should have said Inshallah at this point.) Alex picked me up and we went to the nearest clinic as suggested, the closest one being Al Raffah where I am currently registered. On my way there I kept on calling the operator to make sure there is a gyno there I could see. No one picked up. I called about 8 different times. Yes I had the right number- they just didn’t pick up!
As we stormed the lobby of Al Raffah hospital we soon came to learn that there was no gyno on call and my doctor would not be available until 6pm. Because…you know…doctors work in shifts.  Apparently it is perfectly acceptable not to have a doctor there for 6 hours at a time!!! They only had a GP- which would have helped if I had a bruise or maybe a sore throat…
Suppressing our anger we drove to the closest hospital from Al Raffah- Muscat Private Hospital. Again, I called them on the way there the operator picked up (Hooray??!!) but the line quickly died when she was transferring me to the “correct” department. Ugh.
I quickly felt like I was having the most surreal déjà vu of my life when we learned that they too did not have a gyno on call because “the entire department was attending a lecture and will only be back in a couple of hours”.  Now, please note that both of the above hospitals have DELIVERY WARDS and possibly women going into labor that very instant- but who gives a monkey’s I guess?
I began to feel quite anxious as by that point in time all sorts of nasty scenarios regarding the baby’s health ran through my mind. We did the only thing we could think of. We drove to Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.  FIY (if you aren’t local) that hospital is 45 minutes away. Make that 1h and 25 minutes when you are driving there at 2:30pm just as about everybody in Muscat is leaving work and heading home.
Keeping a long story short- we finally found ourselves registering at the Accidents and we Emergencies department of SQUH and they quickly send me to get my blood pressure and temp measured (both were high!). The nurse (an attentive young man) was however very reassuring and told me that he marked my file as urgent so that the Emergency department makes me their priority. An hour and a half later we are still sitting there. Alex is dying for some water. I keep pacing the waiting area (which is divided into male and female sections). I “borrowed” the chair the security guard was using, by the door, and sat on it with Alex standing responsibly by my side. We seriously watched dozens of people come in and leave, leave and come in again…and we were still waiting. They reassured me that this was unusual and the emergency gyno department was having a rather hard day with 3 women coming in with bleedings and what-nots. Now, had I been in any serious pain or god-forbid bleeding, I am fairly certain they would have seen me sooner.  About two hours into our waiting game we began to notice amusing details about the waiting room such as the “Welcome to the Accidents and Emergencies Department” poster- which Alex found hilarious and also the fact that my in-patient bracelet said that I am 170 years old. I thought about telling the doctor that my emergency is “old age” when she asks me what I am in there for.
But other than that when we were finally admitted the doctor was lovely, the nurses were lovely and their approach was absolutely relaxing. Although they did kick daddy out at some point as he was being overly anxious. They did a quick check up, a whole bunch of tests and a quick ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat and movements. Everything turned out to be ok at the end.
As we were leaving I received my registration card, neatly typed up to include my admission number, name and get this….”English People” in the nationality field. I laughed at this thinking that now I have a valid document to present to the British Embassy once I apply for my UK passport (because my hospital registration card says I am British- that’s why!). It wasn’t until we paid and received a receipt addressed to an Olga Mubarak (P.S that isn’t my actual last name) that I realized perhaps my dream of obtaining a UK passport might have to be abandoned due to my newly-acquired-obviously-Arab last name.
A little bit of humor can get you a long way.

Friday, August 26, 2011

USF Store now on Facebook!

Just type in USF Store in your search box and become a fan!
I plan to update constantly with new images, information, prices and upcoming milestones!
Here is a little preview of what is on the page:

Join us on Facebook today!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A stroke of genius!

I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I want the first artwork of the USF store to look like. It was going to be sassy but modest, chique but also relevant and above all…it was going to stand out. Given the opportunity, I expected to have at least a week to plan it out and collaborate with an experienced designer. Instead I faced a deadline of about 24 hours, a complete lack of ideas and extreme pressure.
I love it when magazines feature “behind the scenes” shots. On one side of the page you see Eva Longoria in glamorous high heels and a breathtaking gown, with her hair tossed just-right and a glimmer in her eyes. On the other side of the page the trendy editor would let you sneak a peek into the making of the photo shoot with racks of messy clothes, dozens of busy-bees huffing and puffing over Eva’s hair and make-up and the stressed-out photographer who has already gone red in the face.
When I realized I needed to put together a photo shoot for the store in about 3 hours time I of course called my best friend to the rescue and yet again she saved my ass. Throughout the day I tossed around some ideas with Is This Serious, Yuliya and mom and we decided to recreate an image I found online earlier that day. It was simple, straight to the point and allowed the imagination to run wild. So, after a hard day at work I dragged by pregnant-self to the store and picked out a few outfits for Cynthia to wear during the shoot. Oh and the shoes. And the bags.
You see…I didn’t want a page that simply featured a bag and matching shoes. We have enough of these. But I also didn’t have the time and resources to create an image that would fully convey the uniqueness and the style of the store. I wanted it to portray sexiness without seeming vulgar. Most importantly I wanted the image to be focused on the stylish items sold at the store.
Two hours of trying on clothes, finding the correct shoe sizes, crawling on the floor trying-to-get-the-angle-right and two cans of Redbull later- we were stunned by the results. I shot over 100 pictures. They all turned out exactly how I wanted them. Not bad for a rookie huh?
I will let you judge:
We have received a lot of supportive comments and very positive feedback from friends and families regarding the final product. Personally, I am very happy with how it turned out, given the circumstances.

I will now begin working on a Facebook page for the store where I hope to feature more images from the photoshoot to help spread the word!

During Ramadan the shop is open from 10am to 1pm and then again from 7pm to 11pm! Happy Shopping!