One of those things we (actually I should say Dave) figured out in those logistical negotiations was that most of the flights we found went through Dubai.  And that we may as well extend our layover in that unique place to check it out.
So we did.  
We had one day in Dubai.  And we loved it.  So I’m going to “take” you there for a second:)

We hugged up Elle who arrived right when we woke up and snuck in a visit to the mall to find breakfast and gawk at all the extravagance, the huge two-story high aquarium and every American store you can think of.  
We took a taxi to the beach in the sweltering heat in awe of the juxtaposition of so many veiled women right along with those in bikinis with the world’s only seven-star hotel as our backdrop.  I am fascinated with the niqaps, burkas and hijabs.  And the traditional clothing of so many of the men with their own sleek headscarves and long tunics.  Fascinated to delve in deeper into the Muslim religion.  So grateful for good books and that I had recently read like Letters to a Young Muslim that gave me some good insight.  
We amazingly met up with Max and Abby who are down to one cell phone that wasn’t working right.  But we got them (SO happy to see them!) and crowded into a little shuttle to head up to the top of the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the whole wide world).  
Such a happy reunion with all of us in that little shuttle bus!

Through the mall again:

There it is:

We went to the top of all those stories and looked out over all that desert barren landscape with this crop of towers built up in the middle.

From there we went on a little safari tour in the desert.  It was even more exciting than any of us had anticipated.  We took this Land Cruiser all through that most gorgeous desert that spanned out endlessly in front of us.  We were all packed into the same car and our driver was crazy..So much delight in everyone’s (especially Lucy’s) voices as we shot up and over the sand drifts and took crazy turns covering our whole car with red sand.  
Can you see Lucy and her classes back there behind Elle’s head?

We stopped and took in all that beauty for a little while as the sun was slanting over all that endless sand:

We went to a “camp” where we rode camels in the sunset.

We laughed so hard at the dismount.  Apparently it’s lots tougher to dismount a camel than you would think.  We laughed our guts out.
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I put some of these pictures on Instagram, but I want to put them here too because I adore these sister’s faces 🙂

They dressed us up in our own headscarves…even when we kept taking them off…

And we explored such beautiful vistas!

The kids were so excited to try their hand at “sandboarding” down the dunes…which didn’t quite work (that board just stuck to the sand like glue) but we sure had fun trying.

We became “one” with the sand.

They served us dinner sitting on cushions at low tables with a fire dancer and belly dancer for entertainment.

It was a night I’ll remember forever surrounded by all these people I love so much.
I was dying to catch the last showing of the dancing fountains back in town.  I love those things in Las Vegas and they were so close to our hotel and who knows when we’ll be back to Dubai!  So I bathed Lucy real quick, played the card game I’d been promising all day, and sped out of there with the rest of the kids all smooshed in one little taxi to try to catch those fountains (Dave was ready for some downtime and wanted to check us into our flights for the next morning).  
I hope none of us ever forget running at top speed from where we got dropped off to see that fountain show. We could hear it, the Arabic music floating through the sky, and as we got closer we could see it from afar, those fountains just shooting up all their midst and glory, but it ended right before we arrived, panting and breathless.  
Oh I loved that run!  
Luckily there was another show a half hour later so we got ice cream and sat on the bridge and soaked it all in. The late-night crowds, so many different cultures and people all mixed in together, the music, the Burj Khalifa sparkling behind the fountains (they make it sparkle similar to the Eiffel Tower at night).  

The show didn’t disappoint:

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It was all so beautiful.  There was just something in the air that made everything almost seem to float around me I loved it all so much.
The girls had this crazy notion that they had to sneak in a little swim in the fountain water, so after a little deliberation, Abby, Elle and Claire all took a little dip successfully not being noticed and they were so excited.  
We caught a couple taxis and headed home.  A night (and day) I won’t soon forget.

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  1. How exciting!! Memories will last forever; smart to do this before the babies start arriving. Perhaps create a family “signature pose” that Lucy can participate in?

  2. Hi Shawni, my family lives in Mesa and we're Muslims. I live in Houston but plan on visiting my parents for a week next month and we would love to have you over if you'd like to meet! Would love to connect and talk more about faith <3

    1. M, somehow this comment got lost in the shuffle. THANK YOU for the invitation to meet up, I would love to connect and talk! Please email me when you know your schedule and we'll figure out a time (sepphotography at gmail).

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