We had a week off before I got to go back to work again, so we decided to travel a little. Marwa is pregnant with baby #2 so we really couldn't fly anywhere, so instead we drove through Philly, Baltimore, and stayed a few nights with our brother and his wife in Maryland. This trip reminded me how I never want to be bound to a location (although I understand I will probably need to for the kids' school…) Being free and having the ability to travel makes you feel alive.
Before we get to the vacation pictures/reflections, here is a quick video of the amazing jellyfish from the Baltimore Aquarium.
Sesame place was the epitome of commercialization. For some reason we thought it was going to be an open park, with lots of tress, swings, etc, and a hundred Elmo's running around and prancing in the fields. What we found waiting for us were extremely long lines (which kids do not understand the point of..and neither do we), super unhealthy food, and that the owners of the park chose to commercialize everything, including taking a picture of Elmo, which takes about enough time as running a 10k thanks to the enormous line, and costs as much as 3 Chipotle Burrito bowls. All in all we learned many things about ourselves. First of all, Amazon Prime has spoiled us forever with its "free" 2/1 day shipping on almost everything we ever need in life. So we hate waiting in lines. After 2 painfully long waits in lines for 2 rides, we had way more fun just walking around the park and laughing at the people waiting in lines. Secondly, we learned that the "Healthy Option" is the Cheese Pizza. Seriously, I would have never thought to ever read that anywhere, but there it was, blinding every kid that walked into the cafeteria. We ended up eating at a place called SaladWorks, which was awesome. Huge portions of healthy salads. Then, there were many, many obese people walking around, one of them on a wheelchair because of an amputated leg. While we knew that there were many obese people in the USA, this trip put it in perspective. Prophet Muhammed SAWS used to exercise everyday. Everyday. Not when his body would tell him through sicknesses and fatigue that he needed to…but everyday. This is a sunnah many of us forget or just put to the side because it is too much work. (Although praying 5 times/day is more time than you probably would spend exercising).
One great thing about the Sesame Place adventure was the hotel we stayed in- The Marriot. We only chose it as opposed to the Sheraton because it was about forty dollars cheaper, but found out that we really had made the right decision once we got there. Because the sun was so strong and the lines so incredibly long, we decided to take a break in the middle of the day and check out our hotel room and generally recuperate. Our room was great, there was a small wall that separated where Sumaya slept and where we slept, so she was able to go down easily and the concierge provided us with a huge pack n' play crib so we didn't have to worry about Sumi falling off the queen sized bed. However, the best part of all, was the complimentary breakfast in the morning....with TURKEY BACON!!! We made our own waffles, had english muffins, turkey bacon, yogurt, cereal, milk, juice, coffee- it was great....we didn't want to leave if it hadn't been for the fact that we still had a long trip ahead of us to Baltimore and Gaithersburg :)
Our next trip was the Baltimore Aquarium. Sumaya had waaaaaay more fun here than she did at Sesame Place. Running around, she would point at every little fish and say "Baba, Look at dis! Look at dis baba!" The aquarium is one of a few perfect vacation spots, because it serves many purposes. First of all, it is extremely entertaining. There are like 400 different kinds of fish, each with a little description of what it is, etc. All the exhibits are kid height, so you don't have to worry about picking up your kids every 2 1/2 seconds to see the fish. More importantly. the aquarium is an awesome reminder of the power of our Creator, Allah. It was so humbling to see all these different types of fish, each with their own idiosyncrasies and purpose, and was a punch in your face reminder of how awesome Allah's power is, how beautiful our planet is, and how we are just another one of Allah''s creation, but we have choice, and that we need to worship Allah through our speech, actions, etc, just like these fish do in their own way. Every step was a subhanallah moment. Baltimore Aquarium, highly recommended. Next, we want to see the largest aquarium in the world, somewhere in Atlanta Georgia.
We highly recommend seeing the dolphin show and the jellyfish exhibit! Next time we're in the area, we would love to explore more of Baltimore- there's something special about those port cities.
And of course, what is a vacation without eating Chipotle 3 times? Lol. I mean, Chipotle has pretty much ruined our other choices. Knowing we can go to an expensive restaurant is much less appealing because we know the food won't be THAT much better than Chipotle's and we'll feel the same at the end- full. Then, fast food chains have completely lost their appeal because we wouldn't be spending any less there and the food is a lot less fresh. CHIPOTLE is where it's at!!!
We stopped at our brother's house and stayed there for a few days, where Sumaya and Zayd instantly got comfortable (wink wink) with each other. Haha.
We had a great dinner with them on Thursday night and our friend Mohamed Abutaleb stopped by for a visit. On Friday, we went to this nice place called Rio which reminded us a lot of Blue Back Square- but with water. There, the kids fed the geese, played in the playground, took a train ride, and ate some super sugary frozen yogurt :)
On our way back home we stopped by Philadelphia and entered the "Please Touch Museum", an incredible children's museum for kids where they are encouraged to touch everything they can. Sumaya went into fake Shoprite and could have seriously spent all day packing her shopping cart with stuff (although I did spend like 30 minutes putting everything back…lol)
All in all, we have firmly decided that creating experiences is far far better than buying stuff. Insha'Allah our next adventure will be soon- stay tuned :)