12 Beautiful Things

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12 Beautiful Things I’ve Enjoyed:

  1. Video: Japanese high schoolers seeing a chick hatch outside its egg. Mind boggling!

  2. Do you dream of having kids one day? Touching article

  3. Ramadan series I’ve been enjoying – videos, or daily lectures here.

  4. Two brand new Ramadan picture books I want to check out: Drummer Girl and Owl & Cat: Ramadan Is…

  5. They’ve left me. Is this what an empty nest feels like?

  6. Can’t wait to read this memoir of Muhammad Ali (already put it on hold at my library!)

  7. Beautiful middle grade novel I loved

  8. Love this Blog lately for everything

  9. Heartwarming children’s book classic.

  10. never knew he had so many beautiful quotes; hence why I’m checking out #6 – article: 12 Times Muhammad Ali Showed Us The Incredible Power Of His Faith

  11. This hair brush helped me attempt to get Z to school on time

  12. I like this nail polish color in Sea Shell

Betrayal of Bodies and Minds

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I recently watched the Steven Hawking movie The Theory About Everything and was touched by Muhammad Ali’s death.

Muhammad Ali was a dynamic, strong, and vibrant athlete.

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Struck with Parkinson’s, he was forced to give up the athlete life he led. He found another path and became a passionate philanthropist.

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Steven Hawking was a happy-go-lucky scientist whose muscles slowly started to betray him. Not to worry, he too found another path and churned out a best-seller book A Brief History of Time.Eddie-Redmayne-stars-as-Stephen-Hawking.0.jpg

What do we do when something goes wrong?  Do we forge ahead and create another path? Or do we wallow? Or wallow for the time-being before creating a new path? Do we get stuck? Refuse to bloom?

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If we are a photographer, what do we do when we run out of film? or nowadays when our camera battery dies?

If we are a writer, what do we when our pen runs out of ink? when our words swim away into the impermeable ocean of writer’s block? when our ideas evaporate into a too-faraway cloud of writers block?

Do we keep trying? In Muhammad Ali’s case, fighting? Stephen Hawking, studying? For me– writing? photographing?

When we’re stuck, do we change it up and go outside, stare at the clouds, and feel the words that we’ve been searching for float back into our brains?

Do we put down the camera and see the world through two refreshed eyes rather than a bulky and tired camera lens?

Do we look for another path when our current path is blocked? When our bodies betray us, what will we have left? When our minds become soft become like butter left out too long, what will we have left?

Are we ready to leave this life to go to the next? (love Muhammad Ali’s words about this here.)

I hope and pray than even when obstacles turn up our way, and they will, that we have the courage to find our own path. To create a new path if needed. To bloom always and openly.

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President Obama on Muhammad Ali:

“Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.”

Hatching Hope

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I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg. James M. Barrie

The beginning of summer is an amazing thing. For a couple months, I will shy away from packing any type of school lunches. I will purposefully avoid little Tupperware boxes, aluminium foil, and the random assortment of pantry snacks.  At Kroger I will happily avoid the aisle that has little lunch sized snacks.

Z’s plastic pocketed folder is fat and full of Kindergarten papers that are sorted through for the last time. Certain papers quietly recycled behind Z’s back; certain papers declaring Z’s love for her sister A with the letter ‘S’ drawn the wrong way with crooked colorful hearts stowed away in a little IKEA plastic box I just bought today for the purpose of saving those special papers that I can’t seem to part with just now.

I can’t wait for the days to become unstructured, for the routines to quietly slip away, and for summer to kick in.

Ramadan is starting in less than 10 days! It’s been nice to see my book pop up again here and there. In the meantime, I hope and pray that these last few days are productive and full of blessings for all.

Enjoying the below… a mourning dove made a nest in my petunia planter. I googled it and learned not to disturb the eggs so I stopped watering the poor petunias. I could have put a water globe but didn’t want to disturb the mother and her eggs anymore than I already had. Hence, why I wasn’t able to photograph the nest’s eggs. The mother and father dove swapped  places during the day and for 2 weeks have been dutifully sitting on their eggs. Today beautiful little dark glossy chicks awaited us! I love the mourning dove’s sounds – soothing and rhythmic. I don’t see them as mourning, rather as peaceful cooers! And I’m sure in this case, the parents were celebrating rather than mourning. My Celebrating Doves below …

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“The Green Bicycle” Book Review!

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Recently I got the chance to ride my bicycle again after quite some time, meaning many months. I used to bike all the time when I was younger. It’s something I really want to pick up again and not let it go again!

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The feeling of biking is exhilarating and freeing.

A Penguin representative reached out to me asking if I’d review a book The Green Bicycle. The story features a bold eleven year old, Wadjda, who lives in Saudi Arabia and her wish is to ride a bike. The issue is that girls don’t ride bikes where she lives. I couldn’t wait to read the story and glad I got the chance to read it and review it!

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Amazon Summary: click here for look inside!

Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.

I was curious to read this book as I grew up in Abu Dhabi and wanted to see how her experience in Saudi Arabia was different from mine. The book is fictional, but the experiences reflect he author Haifaa Al Mansour’s school experiences.

Wadjda deals with challenges from being in an overly strict school where the girls are forced to memorize chants and patriotic songs. Wadjda struggles with the meaningless and mundane activities. When a Quran competition’s first prize is a big amount of money that can pay for a bicycle, Wadjda decides that she will win the competition so that she can buy a green bicycle that she has set her eyes on. Her friend Abdullah secretly teaches her to ride his bicycle and the feeling Wadjda experiences racing on his bike is pure joy.

In Abu Dhabi, I leraned to ride a bike and would ride around my house in a small parking lot so was glad to have that opportunity – something I took for granted. I felt for Wadjda who felt limited.

Furthermore, Wadjda deals with some hard issues such as washing her father remarry another wife when he is still married to his mother. Her heart breaks when she witnesses her mother’s sorrow.  The mother and daughter’s connection is rekindled and although initially, her mother does not feel it is proper for Wadjda to ride a bike, at the end her mother supports her daughter and allows her ride it as she wishes. I don’t want to say too much about the exciting ending in case you get a chance to read it!

The author Haifaa Al Mansour wrote an author note that shed light on her experiences as a child.  She said the main character is based on a lot of girls she grew up with. She writes the story isn’t necessarily autobiographical but is based on the place she came from. She experienced a lot of the same frustrations that Wadjda did in public school. I thought it was fun that author Haifaa had a green bike as a child and when she tagged along with her father to buy bikes for her two brothers, she spotted a green bike and wanted it. The seller was upset that she wanted the bicycle, but her father insisted upon getting it. Haifaa rode her bike in circles around her backyard, not outside her home, but still found pleasure in biking. That story touched me!

My grandmother used to bike to university in a sari many years ago in India. I always loved knowing how independent she was. I am Muslim and feel comfort in my religion knowing I have the right to go places, the right to ride a bicycle. Unfortunately, there are a few cultures that look down upon letting girls ride a bicycle. That disappoints me and I hope each girl around the world has this right! I also hope each student gets blessed with wonderful teachers. Ms. Hussa (Wadjda’s teacher) reminded me of Ms. Trunchbull from Roald Dahl’s Matilda, an unsavory character!

One favorite quote from the story:

The next morning, Wadjda swung herself up onto her new green bicycle and set out through the neighborhood. Her feet moved forward. She pedaled at her own speed, on her own terms. For the first time in her life, Wadjda felt the freedom of pure, unchecked movement, and knew the sensation of using her own power to whisk herself through the city. The warm wind slipped under her loose veil and blew her hair back as she swerved down streets and alleys, bumped on and off sidewalks.

I’ll never let go of this feeling, she thought, and pedaled harder.

This book was based on the award-wining film Wadjda and I can’t wait to watch the film next!

Khaliah and baby Aubrey’s Photosession!

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Living in Atlanta and being a photographer has its challenges in spring, mainly the possibility of rainy showers! I was lucky in that the Saturday I took these images, the day proved to be sunny and cloudy and with a cool breeze whereas every day surrounding it was quite stormy!

Aubrey was 4 weeks old and Khaliah, a first-time mom, had a radiant smile! Grandma, Khaliah, and Aubrey had a peaceful session outside. I believe newborns really enjoy the outdoors and are quite soothed by the sounds of the breeze, birds, and they love the fresh air!

Aubrey’s grandmother was quick to point out Aubrey’s perfect swirl of hair on his head, and once I noticed it, it was so mesmerizing in real life and on camera!

My favorite photos are those of parents and grandparents with the baby as you can really see the love they have for their little one.

Enjoy!

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“Happiness is a baby holding your finger with his whole hand,” – Unknown

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Aubrey’s perfect swirl of hair!

IMG_4969-2.jpgIMG_5010-2IMG_5019-2IMG_5031-3IMG_5032-5IMG_5049-4“A house needs a grandma in it!” ~ Louisa May AlcottIMG_5070-5IMG_5103-6

“A baby is sunshine and moonbeams and more brightening your world as never before.”‘
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Snap, Crackle, Pop

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I am sitting on Z’s bed trying to get the bedtime routine over and done with a quick read aloud when A joins us with her little metal Mickey Mouse lunch box and proceeds to open up her lunch box on Z’s bed.

I am ready to snap at her. Don’t open that on Z’s bed. Open it over there. I don’t want crumbly things and mess all over Z’s bed. Somehow, I don’t snap. I just watch.

She proceeds to open the box with caution and rather than devouring her crackly package snacks, she asks each of us which snack we want before gently closing the box up and neatly stowing it away.

How many times have you wanted to snap at someone or something only to wait that extra minute and realize the snapping, the cracking, the popping wasn’t necessary? That if you waited and watched and held your breath and tongue that the moment would pass and you see the good not the bad?

I don’t do it enough, but am trying to. Photography has a way of soothing me. If I photograph overturned cereal on the floor, then I am less likely to scold. If I wait just a minute before scolding, then I am less likely to scold. Snap, Crackle and Pop be-gone.

Enjoying Spring below…IMG_3893IMG_3909IMG_3915IMG_3929IMG_3940IMG_3944IMG_3983IMG_3987IMG_3988IMG_3999IMG_4015IMG_4034-2IMG_4045

Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun…

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Right as the sun starts to swirl down, down, down away from the blue of the sky, everything seems less bright. The dishes suddenly start to loom closer to my line of vision and seem dirtier. The things on the floor seem a little more scattier here and there. The crumbs a little more crumbier. At moments like these, it is easy to wonder, Where am I? 

Under my ‘About Me’ in my Facebook profile, I had written sometime ago, I am like a plant. I crave sunlight.

Well, I must really crave sunlight because at a recent doctor check-up, it was noted that I was pretty deficient in Vitamin D. You can get Vitamin D from … the sun! (And in the form of Vitamin D pills which I now take.)

When the sun is up and bright and happy, it is easy to feel up too. When the sun is down, it is easy to feel down again. There’s something about sunlight streaming through the windows that makes me feel most at peace and productive. At certain times of the day, I gravitate to the room that has the most sunlight. In the morning when the kitchen is dark, I love the living room.

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In the afternoon when the kitchen is bright and airy, the kitchen.

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no filter with this photo! the sunlight was that powerful and I love how it overshadows the dishes. Chores-be-gone!

On grey bleak days, it can sometimes be a struggle for me to get stuff done. With spring peeking in, it is as if a new chapter of Life has turned and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me.

Enjoying….

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Eric Carle’s recent work from his Facebook page titled, “Spring is in the air!” Seeing his beautiful work makes me happy. It makes me want to read every one of his books again. If I was Eric Carle, I would paint a wall of my house like this.

 

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Miniature helpers helping with rainbow utensils…

 

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Matching fingers and toes…

 

Father Daughter Lake Time…

 

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Sisters Shadow Silhouette Hugs Given While Admiring Sunsets…

 

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Lailah’s Lunchbox with an ALA Notable Seal!

 

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Fan Mail from a 4th grade class! I hope they write back again!

 

‘A’ loves to doodle and will grab my favorite pen and sit and doodle for quite some time. I sent my uncle her work on a whim as he is an artist of Zakaria Ink and he sent me back the work on the right! I love how he took a simple doodle and made it a work of art!

 

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Love A’s swirls and interesting shapes!

Also enjoying this beautiful book from the library…My Name is Yoon

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Happy Almost Spring (official date is March 20th)!