I is for Immigrant

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You look out the window and spot the howling trees and the sunlight that is waning slowly but swiftly, the way wintery days go.

You scroll mindlessly through Facebook and view all sorts of depressing articles on Trump, a Muslim ban, and more.

But there is hope. You know there’s a protest going on at the airport, a protest to welcome refugees and immigrants. A way to take a stand.

You are not just the daughter of an immigrant.

You are an immigrant.

You know what it feels like to be neither here nor there.

You know what it feels like to reach a new country where even the air smells different, the birds sound different, the water tastes different.

You know what it feels like to feel painfully out of place.

You know what it feels like to slowly grow roots in a new country. To slowly unfurl and blossom once more.

You feel for all the people hurting in this topsy turvy world right now.

But right now it’s not your turn to go to the protest because there are two little ones who need you right now at home. There is hair that is wet. There is outside wind that is chilly.

There is a simmering daal that is stubbornly cooking on the stove, angry and refusing to become tender soon enough.

There are people protesting outside, angry and refusing the ways of the hard world, begging for tenderness to come now.

You look at the faces of your children who know bits and pieces of the world around them, but who do not know that the world is hardening around them. They do not know about the deep and dark struggles that people are undergoing around them. They do not ask the questions of worriers yet.

You need to ground yourself and find peace.

You know what to do.

You preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

You pray with them when sunset seeps in around you.

You melt butter, mix in sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, a smidge of salt. You accidentally forget the vanilla.

Your daughters’ smiles are sugary. Their fingers buttery. Their cheeks floury. One of their hair braids is floury. Or salty. Or sugary. You can’t decipher yet.

Later, you will show them a picture of their grandmother and grandfather protesting and tell them how we welcome people. No matter who they are. No matter where they are from.

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Your heart will warm when you see the protest photos, the numbers of people who care. People of all kinds taking a stand.

You will read your daughters this book and talk about the tumultuous journey of a Syrian refugee boy, a boy who misses his pet birds he left behind.

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The boy will befriend new wild birds at his camp.

The world will befriend immigrants and refugees.

You will hope and pray that for now it is enough.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:13)

 

 

Faces of my Neighborhood

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We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. E. B. White

I am in line at the post office. A cheerful older gentleman who works there greets me and double checks that all is ready to be mailed.

As I wait in the line and my turn pops up, I am directed to a lady behind the counter. I ask her a question to which she barely answers with a mumble. The jovial gentleman looks at her and teases her, “I don’t even know why you’re up here – you can barely answer the customer’s questions!”

Visibly annoyed at him, she continues to scan my packages. I refrain from asking her questions. Maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she’s tired of me.

I wish that I had been served by the jovial postal worker instead.

It’s only at the end when I’m all done and I thank her, she hoarsely whispers “You’re Welcome.” I realize abashedly that her voice is gone.

 

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After dropping off Z and A in the morning, I am driving home to see the big, yellow school bus pull up earlier than usual. No students are waiting. As I drive into the neighborhood, I see a sleepy looking middle schooler ambling along. I feel like I should warn him. I slide down the window and yell, “The bus is here!” Panic awakens the sleepy features on his face and he is off running.

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The dryer churns clothes but refuses to dry them. Round and Round. Damp and Damp. At the laundromat, I am able to focus on one thing. Laundry. That in itself is a mild treat. The row of gleaming metallic dryers, the finicky machine that will sometimes give you coins for a dollar, the spacious tables to fold clothes, the wheeling trolleys to push your clothes around all greet you.

The day is grey and a bleak cold outside, but inside there are two women folding dozens of sunny yellow shirts. The perk to the laundromat is that next door is Figo’s Pasta so we find ourselves doing laundry and savoring pasta coated in spicy tomato sauce. Instead of spending a few quarters for laundry, we end up spending more for laundry, dinner, and memories.

 

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Regina’s Family Photoshoot

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“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart,” – Winnie the Pooh

Regina’s family session was my last fall session. Their little baby Zayna is 6 months and this was her first photoshoot. Regina said she missed out on newborn images at the hospital, so I was honored to take their baby’s first professional photos! Regina was looking for pictures of Mom and Dad interacting with baby, pictures that would show their love for Zayna. When I see these images, I can see their faces and expressions soften toward her and their smiles grow; I hope you can see it too.

Their session was cut shorter when their little one started to cry. I’ve noticed sessions of six-month-olds tend to end quickly since the babies are vocal through their cries about what they need and their moms are able to read their signs.

Zayna hadn’t given me many smiles, but when her parents started to play with her under a tree, lifting her gently into the air, she was all smiles so was glad I managed to capture those images!

Below are a few images of them enjoying autumn at Tanyard Creek Park.

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Jackie’s Family Session

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I love photographing repeat clients because I see to the children get so big! Last year I captured Jackie and Sam in fall and was so excited to catch up with them and make more new memories. Here is a collage from last year…

Below are from this year’s fall session!

A fun factoid about this family: Jackie and Sam met in the Target Lamp Aisle after Jackie had just moved to a new city and was looking for a lamp. Fast forward and now they have a beautiful family!

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Zina’s Fall Photos

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I love repeat clients because I get to see how big the babies get! Baby Jasiah below started walking at 9 months and was a joy to photograph. Below is a summer photo of him as a 1 year old with big sister Isis!13301396_1108853039178391_3224888130331161505_o (3).jpg13268517_1108850115845350_4737436437772319765_o

I couldn’t wait to do their fall photos. Here’s how big they are this fall!

When Zina saw their photos, she left me a lovely email saying, “Thank you so much!! I almost cried going through the pictures, we had fun! You captured so many loving wonderful moments! Please feel free to share any pictures you take, I can’t wait for our next session. I’m one happy mama! thanks again!”

I love watching Zina play with her children and their enthusiastic expressions. Below are a few from our fall session! I will be sharing a few more clients’ images soon!

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T is for Travel

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I am currently editing the images of clients so my mind is too full of images, too empty of words. My words are stuck somewhere swirling amongst the images. Here are a few images  of a recent road trip!

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“And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”  (Quran 13:3)

Book Review: A Quranic Odyssey

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Author Umm Muhemmed wrote this enlightening book, A Quranic OdysseyThe book is illustrated by Azra Momin  and is written for an adult audience. I had wanted to review this book in Ramadan, but didn’t get a chance to! Glad I get to share it with you now!

 

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This book is a great read for parents who would like to instill a love of Quran for their children. The book is split up into bite-sized-nuggets of information, short chapters in which a main character Khadija teaches Ibrahim lessons about Quran in a beautiful and engaging hands-on manner. I liked how young Ibrahim sometimes ended up teaching his parents his own unique lessons he got from the Quran.

I also liked how Ibrahim’s grandmothers are both of different faiths and cultures, but steadfast friends. Ibrahim’s paternal grandmother is an Italian Christian whereas his maternal grandmother is a Pakistani Muslim.

The story touches on Ibrahim’s challenge with having a grandmother that doesn’t share his religion, but also emphasizes the openness and acceptance and love that he has for her.

One sweet moment I liked from this story is when Ibrahim’s mother teaches him and his toddler sister Amna about Surah Quraysh, a chapter from the Quran which talks about peace and safety. At one point in the story, the family goes to a nature reserve in which they wish to spot endangered whooping cranes who are currently experiencing trouble with migration.

Ibrahim then has this idea, “I’m going to recite Surah Quraysh. I think it will be just the right solution to bring the whooping cranes to safety. Allah will keep them safe in the winter and the summer when they’re migrating just as He explains. So reciting Surah Quraysh will help them.”   Following his statement, Khadija writes, “Abdurrahman and I look at each other and share a rare moment of profound parenting joy.”

If you have little children, this is an educational and inspiring read to get started in helping your children not only memorize Quran surahs but learn and apply little lessons from them.

The book was sent to me by Umm Muhemmed for a review and is available here! Umm Muhemmed blogs and reviews lots of good books here and reviewed my story Lailah’s Lunchbox here!