Good Stuff

Here are some random rambles about good things that have been going on in my life! Everyone loves those.

My friend B and I started a charity a month ago. With both of us fed up with the frustrations of living in Saudi Arabia and finding ourselves way too comfortable with complaining, we decided to do good for others. Turns out that doing good for others does a WHOLE LOT of good for yourself. If you’re in Riyadh and want to participate, please check out or find us on Twitter @HalfADateKSA. Even if you’re not local, you can help with monetary donations. Just send a message on the Facebook page. I swear, giving to others will do amazing things for your mood.

I made the world’s most amazing biscuits last week. They were fluffy and tender and I seriously impressed myself. And probably seriously annoyed my friends by talking endlessly about how incredible the biscuits were and trying to force more on everyone attending breakfast. I can never say that life in Saudi never did anything for me, because at the very least I’ve become a decent cook with all this free time on my hands.

My mommy arrived in KSA on Thanksgiving Day. How appropriate is THAT? So the next day I hosted my very first Thanksgiving meal, complete with a teeny tiny 800g chicken, roasted to perfection…because chickens cost like $3 and turkeys cost a literal arm and leg. She’s staying for 3 weeks, unless I can convince her to stay longer (or forever), and it will be awesome.

I’ve been on what seems like a bajillion job interviews (ok, maybe only 3) but still have no paying job. People just cannot see my awesomeness behind the glaring lack of degree. I’m still holding out hope for an offer from my most recent interview. I’ll keep you guys posted.

I’m turning 31 on Tuesday. Whaaaat?! I said it last year but I’ll say it again…I always dreaded the thought of my 30s, but now I’m so happy to be in them. The 20s were a total ripoff and I wouldn’t want to relive them even if I could. I’m thinking of having a virgin cocktail night with mom and some cool peeps. There will be dresses, heels, and other fancy things happening. Maybe it’s corny to throw yourself a birthday party, but I don’t care. Last year I held out hoping someone would throw me a fantastic 30th birthday party and it never happened. And since I haven’t officially celebrated my birthday since I turned 21 and bought a Long Island Iced Tea just because I could do so legally, I think it’s high time for a celebration.

My mom smuggled me in Christmas stuff, you guys. My parents are the best. My daughter got some jammies, an ornament, and a few books…one of which was Frosty the Snowman, which my dad recorded himself reading, which upon hearing caused me to burst into an immediate sob. I received candy canes, decorative towels, window clings (it now says “Let it Snow” on one of my windows), cookie cutters, snowmen, fuzzy pajama pants, a sweater, some christmassy socks, scented candles, AND A TREE. Yes! Thankfully the dude at Saudi customs was predictably not paying attention to her bags as they passed through the scanner, so the tree made it. I decorated it all by myself while singing songs, then turned out the lights and admired my work. It even has its own little TREE SKIRT! I took B up to see it when she was over for Thanksgiving lunch and cards and she gasped. I haven’t been that excited since I was 12. Next weekend we’re baking cookies and inviting some friends over to decorate with us.

I found $72 in my wallet the other day and deposited it into the bank, so for the next couple of days, I will not be literally broke. That’s an awesome feeling.

Someone please remind me to look back at this when I’m in another funk. Just copy/paste the link in the comments section. Thanks

47 thoughts on “Good Stuff

  1. December 3rd? Wow! Happy Early Birthday! I’m so happy you wrote today because I have really been wanting to hear from your experience again. As others have said….you are a pretty easy read because things just “Flow.”
    Soooo happy your mom went to see you! I too wish she could stay to make your experiences more bearable. You know…..I wonder if I will walk in your similar footsteps someday? Sitting here in Florida today, my husband heavily pushing us to go to Saudi one day real soon….makes me wonder about the shoes you are wearing right now. No, he’s not Saudi, he’s Moroccan, so I’m not sure how the experience will be. Do you know if as two ex-pats (Muslim) can I travel without the hubby’s permission, and am I allowed to take my kids out of the country without his permission? Or is this only a Saudi woman/man thing? Thanks!

    • You will still need your husband’s permission to travel, so will your children. The good news is that since he’s not Saudi, if he ever tried to keep you or your children here forcefully you would have a better chance of getting them out.

  2. I am very happy for you Mandi , not sure why I had a tear burst feelings while reading this post it just brings something warm ! lol. x

    wish you happier coming days ! thrilled to hear your Mama is safe and sound in Riyadh.

    “giving to others will do amazing things for your mood” !!! X_X yes yes yes .

    A person who’s got such a heart Mandi really deserves all the best.

    might be early but Happy Birthday, may this year brings happiness and success to you and your loved ones.

    And merry Xmas… I can imagine you decorating that little cute tree ^_^”


  3. Happy Birthday! I don’t know if you have heard…but I’ll be joining the Riyadh gals soon enough in Sha Allah :) I want to know more about your charity! That is so awesome!!!!!!!!!!! I miss that about the US…the Muslim community…..and among other things…I can’t really talk about it now either :( That is so good that your mom is here…enjoy!

  4. A great start for my day today…so glad you Mom is there with you…and for your birthday, too! Happy, Happy Birthday, Mandi! The thirties are a good place to be…very comfortable. Happy Holidays,,,Merry Christmas to you and yours. Enjoy!

  5. Happy, happy birthday! The good things are there if we look for them; it’s just that when we’re depressed it’s hard to see them. Clearly, your mom’s visit has made you happy. It’s great that you’re reaching out to help others, too. When you get in a funk again (and we all do no matter how hard we try not to), try to remember that there are good things and you can find ways to be happy.

  6. Great news Mandy! I’m so happy your all cheered up! Things are not great here but I’m back at Moms and that’s good for now. I will email you privately about that.
    @ EPSY I know Mandi means well but the reality is even a non Saudi can keep American born Muslim children there as long as his visa is valid. I know because my x of 18 years kidnapped my 7 children who are in Jedda and the State Department cant do a damn thing about it. My advice DO NOT GO. My marriage was in tact he still loves me and can not get over me but we had a family tragedy that I could not get over and his solution was to abandon me and take kids from Dubai to Saudi…. It has been almost 2 years and nothing can been done, oh the embassy did do a supposed well being visit with the kids but they were trained well what to say. You never know when things will flip in a split second and yes we are 2 practicing Muslims. Him Syrian/ American me just American. Anyone with any connections or help ideas may contact me at – UmMuhammad

    • Ya Allah! I’m so sorry…..
      to be away from your children…….this absolutely angers me and hurts me (saddens). Listen…..I have always wondered….why not “fake it until you make it?” Go there, do the lovey dovey business, but always keep in mind the ulterior motives? So what happened to you again? you guys were good and then both of you decided to travel to Dubai, tragedy struck and he randomly took the kids to Saudi? Where did you go? Wow, so now he’s in Saudi with your kids? why can’t you join him?
      Yes, he’s pushing really hard for us to go…I’m a registered nurse and he’s an x-ray tech.

    • Jessica! Thank you for sharing a bit about your story for others here. I’m sure it’s helpful.

      I hope that someday you’ll be reunited with your children, and that until that day comes he will keep the lines of communication between you and them open. Praying for you each day!
      BBM or write any time you need to chat!

  7. @Epsy I did fake it til I couldn’t take it anymore basically, we divorced and yes he took the kids from Dubai in a split second as he was already established in Saudi and had me deported back to USA.

    • Speechless…..
      Yes, Jessica thank you for sharing.
      I called an agency yesterday, just to get some info about the processes about being a nurse and working abroad, and it was interesting to note that this particular agency said its virtually IMPOSSIBLE to give contracts to “family” rather just based on single status, OH and that the children would have to stay behind. You know, I’m kinda happy about that…..
      I spoke with my husband, who just proceeded to say we should just go there personally and try to get jobs, and the other idea he had was to go as “single” status and then ?smuggle our kids” in? You know, just pay for a ticket ourselves and not go through the agency.
      Not sure what will be the end result.
      Anyway of getting the guys in both your stories to allow “vacation” to US with the children and then you girls disappear? You know, or try like the woman in the Movie, “Not without my daughter.” …………..reason why I’m taking Arabic at the university right now……not sure when I will need to “USE IT.”

      • Some people here get permission to bring their families, but usually only after their 90 days probation period is up. It depends on the company who hires you and what kid of package they’re offering. It’s not guaranteed with every employer. There is no such thing as coming here and searching for a job. Not unless your husband already has a residency permit, which I’m assuming he doesn’t. Forgive me for being so blunt…but IS HE CRAZY?! Come on single status and smuggle your kids in? So they have no access to an education or to medical care? So you have to live as illegal immigrants? So your entire family will be in danger of being jailed (YES, even your children) and then deported? Come on…you’re adults with children. Think, plan, be responsible.
        Please please please, do not come here with him unless you have a LEGAL, reliable plan to do so. Even then, use caution.

      • EPSY,
        all I have to say : DON’T COME!!! even if you have a legally situation. Here is very bad for you and your children ( bad education, no freedom……a waste of life….)
        you can use Arabic with other Arab in USA, you don’t have to come!

  8. what embassy did he arrange the visit in. if american, he has used his power to fool them. as a non saudi arab it is not the same as a male saudi citizen. the kids are american and you have rights. go back and treat him like a syrian not a saudi. get two lawyers and dont leave until you have your kids. how old is the oldest child, this child can bring you there. you need better help. do you have a male family member to take with you like father or brother or uncle?

  9. @j yes I am working on several different things but he of course is there on his American passport. Which I would like to get pulled because he got it based on fraudulent basis (they have to swear to be loyal to America) and after he got it he went to Syria (where I already was) he was trying to cross the border into Iraq to fight the Americans. Loooooooooong story.

  10. yep, typical arab from those countries. you will win. i know it. i know of one situation and because of the mans status in saudi, even though long established resident, he is non saudi but arab. and he lost his son to also a non saudi arab wife. she had her family there and living that helped her, but the government doesnt treat them the same. go hard and fast with fighting and use your brain. and he does not love you. just remember he uses those words to pull on you. no man takes the kids away from his love. wouldnt even give you one or two kids to have. you will get them. and take care of yourself your health. have fun go join a health club and always look good. because your kids are going to see you this way on the day you get them.

    • J – I don’t know who you are or why your short dear words mean so much to me. of course he doesn’t love me he just saw me as his property, and I will work hard on being strong. Since being in USA some other things have happened within my family which has taken my attention away from my fight for them. In particular my brother being stabbed by a convert to Islam that I foolishly married thinking that him as a Marine and promising me that with his status he could get kids back. Turned out he has PTSD and 3 months into the marriage would get abusive and my Brother found out beat the shit out of him and ended up getting stabbed (he is fine) but I have been so traumatized that I decided to get professional help. I cry upon seeing kids have nightmares about my own and the stabbing and its just hard being back at my families who blame all my problems on Islam… which I converted to at 16 cause I felt it was a stable way of life and the truth about God. In fact I am scared to death at even taking on my kids my own as the Dad is a Millionaire and I was always a housewife and Mother with no real education.
      I want to go back to school but don’t know if I can do it and focus on getting the kids back. It takes so much damn effort. I have written to everyone and had the US embassy visit my kids. They never bothered to get back to me to tell me the results… but the X did that the kids r doing great and knew exactly what to say to protect Daddy. Also I have taken off my hijab and don’t know how the kids will take that since they are totally covered in black now faces and all girls have been since they were 13 now 15 16 and 18 and my 16 year old son has a beard! And is thinking the jihadi path as well. If my kids turn out terrorists like the faggit Father I will sue the Obama administration but thus far am trying to keep everyone just listening so they will take appropriate action.
      I do have hope. I am physically beautiful and no one would know I had 8 kids since I weigh 115 lbs but I have the stretch marks and birth certificates to prove it. I was 150 but went to 140 while going through the few months of PTSD shit with the new now X husband. After it got so bad and I witnessed the stabbing I had to push his chest to stop bleeding til the police got there I lost it, couldn’t eat for months, dropped to about 98 lbs and am now up to almost 120 with my Mother having to spoon feed me for 2 months and now I am able to eat small meals, so yes I am trying to get back my physical health as well as mental. My family lives in a beautiful area and I am starting to take short walks and it feels good, yet still today as a matter of fact I am going to a psychiatrist as I feel stuck and the crying is totally uncontrollable and involuntary and just wont stop. I cannot do this alone and my family can only do so much.
      Its going to be a long fight but I figure by the time the kids get here I will be better and working and they will also (a few of them) be the age of being able to work or go to school and get financial aide.
      We will make it, but yes I need to get it together…
      The youngest is 2 1/2 and doesn’t even know her Mother. She is also a marital rape baby as we had been separated for years basically since I had my now 7 year old who was molested in the UAE and that is what led to the absolute undoing of our marriage where I couldn’t fake it nor want to anymore. Before I found out about that, the Father and I agreed to stay legally married so that he could come and visit kids in UAE in their home where I lived with them while he was in Saudi. I would always go out to the guest house while he was there for the weekend.
      Anyway to all Mothers reading please note that molestation of boys is very common even more than girls in the Middle East and usually done so by relatives or in school.
      Anyone with any connections or ideas please again email me at

  11. I’ve been reading through your blog for the past 3 hours and you have made me laugh and cry. I wish I could give you a hug! Stay strong and positive, God never gives us something we can not handle. xoxo

  12. A beautifully uplifting post from you UTA, and I am so thrilled that you are appreciating and embracing the positive aspects of your life. So happy for you that your Mom is visiting KSA, and that she brought wonderful gifts and all things Christmassy with her. The part about your Dad’s recording of Frosty the Snowman really got me, I could hardly read the screen for tears! It sounds like you are blessed with an amazing family, you’re a lucky girl. I have read through all of your past posts, and like so many of your followers I find they help me also, and give me strength relating to certain situations in my life. You are gracious, amusing, intelligent and kind, and from what I glean from your posts, you live your life with great integrity. I hope your Birthday was fantastic, and I will certainly continue to follow your blog. I wish you a Happy Christmas and all the good things you deserve for the coming year. Bella-joy, Expat in Belgium

  13. Well, Yahoo mail is down ,Mandi, so I hope you can look at this to see if it is appropriate.After reading your blog for a little I thought it might give you a little laugh to hear a story from the Turtle Continent (where you were born)…something from the “flip side” ..occurring right now that is certainly giving ME a few giggles.I was hoping to send it privately through the mail …but since it’s crashed…here goes! My own version of “Dear Saudi boys” (no disrespect intended, but truth must be told!)
    Dear Saudi and other gentlemen from countries near there,
    First of all, honor to your tribes,clans,families,and ancestors. You are all very sweet and I’m sure you will make some fortunate women happy somewhere ,someday. It’s just that the woman several of you seem to be pursuing at college right now happens to be my daughter . She reports that you don’t understand why she won’t consider any of you as potential snags like some other college women will. It appears her aloofness has made her even more desirable …as well as “those EYES,that HAIR, that beautiful brown SKIN”!! Well, don’t be too hard on yourself. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last out-tribers to fall for this tribe’s young women. Of course,in our opinion, they are the most beautiful in the world ,so you aren’t to be blamed ….but I advise you to drop the idea of getting close to her.
    You see, she has been brought up in her traditions. She “knows her songs” and none of them include somebody like you,no offense. I hear some of you are coming out to an open gathering where it’s okay for out-tribes to mingle . Have a good time! Buy a lot of stuff from my cousins because that is likely all you’re taking out of this reservation. If there is a big ex-Marine native guy sitting back of my family’s canopy carving rattle handles with his machete,smiling at you and making you a bit nervous…well don’t worry too much about it. True, he is her third cousin and the one she is most likely to stand blanket with in front of the Elders when she is finished with school (translation:marry), but he is only here because he really doesn’t want to miss this particular scene. I have to say he is pretty confident in himself and doesn’t mindmy daughter exercising her rights as a woman to check out all potential suitors and see which one’s the best candidate. Yes, that’s his truck …with the gun rack and the antlers wired into the grill.(FYI…when she asks you to get her a deerskin for her regalia that means you have to go out and actually HUNT the critter. It does not mean buying her something off the internet or from some Crazy Coyote tourist trading post. I mean,ONE of you seriously thought she would be okay with that …..ROTFLOL!!) Her dad is on tribal council and has been head of it in the past …making her a “princess” to some of you…LOL!! And he has promised ,in the interest of peace and the vendors’ profits,to keep things on an even keel if you show and try to walk around with our daughter. Her big brothers,uncles,and cousins have made no such promise,so just be informed….
    Let’s suppose ,for the sake of argument ,that one of you actually did manage to win her affections,go through the proper courtship rituals,and get hitched. You should know that things around here are usually matrilineal …so the kids, the house,and the allotment will belong to her. If she ever wants to divorce you ,she will put your stuff outside the house and that’s that. Take a drive around the Rez and you can see some front yards littered with the guy’s things…native divorce in process! I’m sorry you weren’t here to witness my cousin’s divorce.It would have been an interesting inter -cultural experience for you. Seems he cheated on her one too many times and not only did she put his stuff out, she saved his books for last …and when he came home and asked for her to bring them out,she started pegging him with them from the second story window! The neighbors all brought out their lawn chairs ,cheered her on,and awarded her points for accuracy! Well, in my cousin-in-law’s case, he just went over to another woman because he is a tribal citizen (although a complete jerk!) but YOU will probably just be escorted off the Rez by a coalition of my daughter’s brothers,uncles,and cousins. Why? Because you will never,EVER be a member of the tribal True People. You don’t have the blood. Your KIDS will be don’t even THINK of taking them with you because there is a little thing called the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) and it’s a FEDERAL law that the tribal council is almost certain to invoke should you manage to grab them and make it off the Rez before the tribal police or off-reservation authorities nab you. Making it any appreciable distance out here before the aforementioned cousin coalition catches up to you is unlikely as well. Just take my advice and work out visitation because ,whether you stay married or not ,the kiddies are going to be brought up by their maternal uncles.( You might be thanked for the genetic diversity your DNA has contributed but you’ll be considered useless for anything regarding their native upbringing.)If you DON’T stay married they’ll likely be brought up by that third cousin I mentioned…
    Now about religion….you’re gonna be real lonely out here. My daughter’s a traditional (are you guys even supposed to be hanging out with “pagans”?!) and the kids will be,too. Period.
    Don’t know how you’re going to explain that to your mom and dad back home,but that’s YOUR problem. My girl is as unlikely to convert to Islam as she is to set foot in your home territory. You COULD try converting to Christianity so you’d have some people to talk to, but even a lot of them follow some of the “old ways” to an extent that might alarm you. Even if you WANTED to get into our religion ,you couldn’t. It’s all about the ancestors and the spirits of this land and you don’t have any here. You have to go back to your own desert for that.
    Well,I hope this little missive has been helpful in explaining my child’s reticence to get involved with any of you. She’s just trying to spare you unnecessary pain and suffering. Hope you understand. Good journeys to you and if you make it to gathering,check out my cousin’s turquoise necklaces…they’d make fine presents for the girls back home!

  14. A very happy birthday first. And very happy to see you back and happy. I was sad that you were missing and felt so dull. Glad to see you bounce back. I am glad that your mom is with you (they can make any day better), you got to have a thanksgiving feast, and celebrating a little Christmas each day :) little things brining big smiles…wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. Stay happy, strong and hopeful…not everything might go the way you want but how to react to those will always be a choice you can make. Choose to be happy…easier said than done, I know but that’s the only thing that keeps us going…hope, happiness and positive attitude.

  15. @jessica
    wow, that story was intense, i had to read it twice. but it could not compare to my drama. im a little the opposite of the situation. im trying to keep my kids there when they visit, but my husband wants them to stay here with us..drama. one of my kids is dabbling into drugs. scarry. so that is why.
    you never mentioned that you contacted the saudi government or an attorney there. you only contacted the us embassy. i wouldnt be to concerned on the bearded one, at least he is trying to be good and that should work on your part. do you have email contact with them? if they are living comfortably, they should have all the lastest gadgets to email you. my families kids know everything and have the latest stuff. and they are not rich. also, did i read right, your 7yr old was messed with by your husband? his own kid? sheesh. and converting to islam at 16 is not wrong and it was your path. there is nothing wrong with islam. i dont wear hijab here in the states only in saudi. but not an issue with my husband. i love islam and my family are christian, and that is fine. my husband is kinda strict but not. i cant figure him out.

    i work with guys with that ptsd. yes, they have issues, and i have to remind myself to ignore their pathetic personality problems. some fake it, though.

    but to get back to you here. try to not be desperate on getting your kids. your attitude has to change to the level headed mother that knows what she is going after. desperation is weak and will get you know where and pushes people away.if you feel scared of taking on the responsibility of caring for your kids, then maybe you can get a job in saudi in a hospital and live close to them. while they live with the x. they are getting older and will be going to college and working, and will definitely want there mom around. sounds like they have lived most of their lives in the middle east. and will want to stay there unless you know different. but you have to contact the saudi side not the american. they have failed you so far. also, getting a saudi lawyer, you will know more about his status there. do you need help with finding a saudi lawyer to help you?

  16. I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and just six weeks ago I gave birth to a baby boy with a complex congenital heart condition who the doctors thought would not come to survive this long. But through miraculous prayers and grace of the almighty He had surgery at just eight days old and after three weeks in hospital we came home. Coming from an Indian heritage, dealing with the criticisms and tradition I’ve come to battle post natal depression, I enjoy reading your blog because it helps to me to realise it’s okay to feel down and not to be afraid to talk about it

    Umm Muhammad

    P.s my birthday is December the 3rd too, coincidence?

    • Firstly, sincere prayers for your son and his health and well being. And yours as well! Depression is real. It is ok to feel down, but if you are feeling down too much please do not hesitate to seek any help available to you, regardless of what those around you might think about it.
      Thanks so much for reading and happy belated birthday :)

  17. @ J no not his father hurt my little boy just didn’t do much to help it. Yes I do need a lawyer there and no money at the moment. Do you have any leads? again Mandi pls pass her this message since this post is older. Thx

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