A Rare Braid

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My fingers are clumsier as they form a braid in Z’s hair. The hair lifts and folds as I tighten the braid and I realize I am rusty at braiding. I will typically make a quick braid when Z goes to school, but the benefit of summer is that our routine softens while we take it slow. Meaning not many braids. I step back to admire the neatness that the braid brings to Z’s face.

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I thought this summer that we would have pancakes and eggs often for breakfast, and at the beginning we may have, but now Froot Loops and Apple Jacks welcome little hands in the pantry.

One of the beauty of summers is that is appears so Endless. Summer days are long and lazily stretch.

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So that when August does come around, and pencils, erasers, and notebooks grace the aisles of Target, it is easy to walk around wide-eyed, wondering Where did the summer go?

I read this article about how it’s good to take a leap when you’re almost ready. Reality is that you may never feel ready and you need a push to do things. Ready to go to college? Ready to walk across the stage to pick up your diploma? Ready to stand in front of a classroom of twenty students and teach? Ready to get settled and married?  Ready to give birth while in the painful throes of labor? Ready to nurse, rock, diaper your baby? Ready to sweep grimy floors, wipe sticky counters, and raise children? Ready to now send Z off to second grade and A to pre-K?

Sigh. But a Grateful Sigh.

We have a few more days before school officially starts, a few more opportunities to make French Toast/pancakes, to swim in cool, blue water, to practice easing back in a routine and sleeping earlier! A few more moments to savor time. Until then…

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pre-Eid mehndi

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scent of childhood

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When you have a box of crayons and nice paper

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biking into August…

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Rice Bubbling happens a lot here

Enjoying Cam Jansen books!

“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Quran 103:1-3)

 

Fela’s One Year Photo Session!

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I had the opportunity to take Fela’s one year photos last week! This is my last summer session! I may be scheduling photosessions in the fall and will keep you posted. If you think Fela looks a little familiar, you are right as he is related to Jasiah, a previous little client of mine! To see Jasiah’s one year photo session click here.

Like his cousin Jasiah, Fela started walking early! He was running before he even turned 1!  I love photographing smaller children and seeing them mature from a sleepy newborn into a squirmy smiley six month old to a running one year old is a beautiful feeling! I got to see Fela’s cousin Jasiah morph from a six month told a toddler and I hope I get to see Fela mature too!

Enjoy Fela’s session below!

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One Year Old Session!

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It’s a magical blessing to see your baby grow, but it passes somewhat in a haze! When I get to photograph repeat clients, I really see how they grow. Here are a few of this mommy-baby duo from a sleepy newborn on a spring day to an alert 6 month old in the fall to their one year old birthday session in April! I feel privileged to have photographed their motherhood/infanthood journey thus far!

 

I love the joy these two exude and the comfort this little (who is so rapidly growing!) one seeks in his mother’s arms.

IMG_4968-2The newborn stage!IMG_8792-2IMG_8846-2IMG_8873-46 months Later!IMG_0996IMG_0998IMG_1067 - CopyIMG_1023 - CopyIMG_1047-2I love the joy of these 2!IMG_1049 - CopyOne of my faves!IMG_1052IMG_1053-3IMG_1060 - CopyIMG_1098IMG_1113IMG_1115trying to light the candle!cake smash!!IMG_1156IMG_1159IMG_1161IMG_1162IMG_1166

2 New Books (!!) and 5 Fun Things…

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Today is Z’s last day of first grade. I can’t believe she will be a second grader, the grade I used to teach.

It doesn’t seem like yesterday in which I packed up my crayon-filled second grade classroom and had a newborn in the sweltering June summer. It seems ages ago. To be precise 7 years ago! For me, those newborn baby days were long and slow, tiring and tedious. But to have that slow time was a gift in which I could find pockets of peace.

Once Z transformed into a running toddler and child, that was when time caught up with Z and then A and started to run too.

Ramadan for Muslims starts this Saturday. It’s nice to see my book Lailah’s Lunchbox pop up on people’s radars again and to see it displayed proudly for Ramadan.

I love seeing how creative people get with their displays. If you do use my book in a Ramadan display, please send me a picture. Sometimes while I sit on a computer cranking out words on a plain old Microsoft Word document, it can be hard to see my words as a book.

Speaking of books, I am excited to say that I should have two picture books coming out in a couple of years I believe!

Amira’s Picture Day (Holiday House) for Spring 2019

Ramadan is over and Amira can’t wait to celebrate Eid. Spotting the new moon, she celebrates because Eid is tomorrow and she gets to miss school to go to the mosque for the Eid prayer and brunch.  But then she realizes that tomorrow is Picture Day at school. How will her class remember her if she’s not in the class picture? What will Amira do?

         2. Let Me Show You The Way (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) TBD

The main character often happily volunteers to help a fellow classmate who needs a little extra assistance in school. It is only when she gets picked on by two popular students for helping him, she decides to distance herself from the fellow classmate to fit in more with her popular classmates. Later, she feels regret for her actions, but it is too late. Now, she decides to take matters into her own hands…

I will share more about these two projects soon. A big thank you to those who helped me thus far with these stories, editing, critiquing, printing, submitting! The publishing industry is quite a prooooooooooooooocesssssssss. And a long one at that! And an additional thank you to all of you who have read Lailah’s Lunchbox and supported me. I hope you all will like these two picture books as well.

I hope for all those of you who will be celebrating Ramadan that it is a beautiful and peaceful month full of growth, renewal, and that you find time to enjoy the slow moments. Meanwhile…

Five Fun Things:

  1. a heartwarming Middle Grade book I read recently by Lisa Graff with a strong, emotional male character’s voice:

“My dad’s face, you should’ve seen it. It went from normal to chili-pepper red in seconds. He was angry. [. . .] The fire, it was all the way to the tips of my fingernails. Digging down to the bottoms of my heels.”

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2. A teacher’s blog post I liked about my book.

“Lailah’s Lunchbox is a fantastic story based on Reem Faruqi’s own life experience moving to the United States and explaining what Ramadan is to classmates and friends in Peachtree City, Georgia. This story captures many different and important social issues, including moving somewhere new and different religions. This story emphasizes the humanity of the children and their experiences and promotes understanding and empathy of others.”

3. A beautiful Ramadan Read Drummer Girl   by Hiba Masood and illustrated by Najiyah Maxfield about a spunky female character Najma and the tender relationship she and her father share during Ramadan. I love how author Hiba Masood loosely based this story on a true one of a female drummer girl. The imagery, language, and pictures are gorgeous. I am a fan of Hiba (Drama Mama)’s words and this book showcases beautiful language. I have been saving this story for Z and A to read during Ramadan so I know they will savor it this Ramadan.

“Najma held her breath. Would he be angry? Would he say she was being foolish? No woman had ever been a musaharati in her neighborhood…”

4. A fun activity to do. Envelope decorating with nail polish. It kept Z and A busy for a while…

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5. the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta will be doing a Ramadan puppet show at the Children’s Museum on June 24th for your children. Check our newsletter here for more details. (scroll to bottom!)

Have a Blessed Ramadan and Beautiful Summer!

Weaving a Web of Fragile Silence…

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I have dropped of Z to school, and there’s just A and me in the car. The car is mostly silent. Thoughts whirl around us.

Before, I used to attempt to fill in the silence with meaningless prattle.

Are you excited about school today?

We’re almost there.

I hope you have a good day.

Now, I appreciate the silence and let it be.

I decrease the amount of questions. Now, we enjoy the quiet.

When we pick up Z later that afternoon, the silence is instantly sucked out of the car.

Words and stories bounce around the car excitedly.

As a child, I used to be much more like Z. Sometimes I still am. My words used to tumble out, sometimes carelessly here and there. Incessant chatter.

Now, I appreciate the quiet. I cherish it.

When A tinkers with the quiet after a day of preschool, I try not to knock our fragile web of silence down, but rather help weave it up.

In the silence moments I get, my thoughts swirl gently. New sentences for emerging manuscripts come to life. My mind slowly refreshes.

I am ready again for volume.

 

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Some images below of our spring break and before….

 

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great grandmother snuggles!

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baking time!

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Slicing of Words

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I am a word slicer.  I take words and slice them out of sentences. Sometimes I am a word adder, adding words here and there. Sometimes a word mixer. Plucking one word from this sentence and adding it there.

In the world of writing picture books, it is amazing how much time one can spend on one manuscript, on 1100 words. When word count is paid attention to, each word counts – literally.

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The writing part, when I have the idea, is easier. I love when a story flows from within and when it pours out manifesting itself in words scrawled on a page or words typed on a screen. It’s a beautiful feeling to see your story shining in hope.

You’re done! Or so you think…

The editing part is so much harder. So much more time consuming. So much more blah.

When I go to the library and pick up books that seem so effortlessly written, I need to remind myself that perhaps this author struggled too. Perhaps this author wrote many drafts to get this story just so.

Perhaps there is hope around the corner, light at the end of the tunnel, a story waiting to be made into a book.

Until then…

IMG_0428-2Z&A looking at our Shutterfly Photo Albums. If you have dozens of digitals on your comupter, I suggest Shutterfly for making quick and easy photobooks!IMG_0441Weekend Pancakes

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Under the table mess…sigh.

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Little fingers counting on!IMG_0459IMG_0462IMG_0468IMG_0471
when you get the problem right!

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when you have a cold and have to drink warm tea…IMG_0503

a cool camera travel mug my brother got me!

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Shell Souvenirs from Edisto Beach, SC that we picked up…IMG_0513IMG_0519IMG_0521

Sometimes the Cardinal will bring his wife for lunch!

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The once a year apple pie attempt…

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Z&A’s school lunch request!

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books for A, we love Little Bear!2017-03-08 (3)

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when 2 yolks come out of one egg! Bowl made by aunt!2017-03-08

when you take them to the library, but they can’t get enough of outside!

 

—-More later!

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Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.” – Quran 18:109

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)