Category Archives: Children

Conversations of Cashiers


Your baby is crying inconsolably. She is cranky and clingy, clingy and cranky.

The usual things that work are not working and you are not home.

Once she is home again, she starts to settle. Maybe the familiar walls and clutter soothe her. Maybe the way the familiar sunbeams befriend her transform her from an inconsolable infant into a consolable one.



Home, the one syllable word, has more weight than you think. As your feet brush against crumbs on the kitchen floor, you do not think of sweeping, but are simply grateful to be home again.


Later, when you are at the grocery store buying frozen waffles (the waffles to help you reach school by the dreaded time of 8:00 am), the cashier strikes up a conversation, the way they often do.

“Enjoy these days,” she says. You nod an “Of course,” in agreement before confiding, “I really am trying to, but there are moments when the baby is crying and I haven’t got enough sleep… ”

The other cashier joins in, “I do not miss these days,” she says shaking her head vehemently, confidently. “I do not want to have another one,” she says before casting a quick look at your baby, complimenting her, turning her back, and resuming checking out groceries.

When you’re pregnant, the cashier will look at your belly and confide, “My labor was the worst pain I ever felt in my life…” before she resumes to dutifully scan apples.

When your toddler sobs when the cashier scans items because she thinks the cashier is taking everything away from her cart, the cashier will look at your toddler and say, “Spoiled, isn’t she?” before going on to scan the toothpaste with a resolute beep.

I admire the conversations of cashiers. The way they comfortably slip into a place where they can offer unabashed advice, controversial or not. Direct. Quick. Honest.

So as you walk away to your car, you ponder over what was just shared, wondering if you agree or not. You hope that honesty can coat your tongue the way it coats theirs.


Photos below from this month:



A is for Anticipation


The air is thick and perspires with anticipation. It’s 5 am and I am checking in as 2 and hoping to leave 2 days later as 3.

This time around I tried not to post any obvious pictures these last 9 months. I used to blog more about personal matters and journeys such as these. But I’ve learned you really can’t take anything for granted. After a health issue a couple years ago it was a blessing to make it to this point, to be able to give birth, to watch my family grow a little bit more.

I have so much respect for those that go through child birth, but even more silent respect for those who want to be mothers and quietly witness those around them becoming moms. For those who stoically witness adorable newborn pictures and blossoming baby bumps on social media all the while diligently praying to become mothers and strive to start a new chapter of their lives. For some reason, sigh, not everyone who wants to be a biological mother gets to. And for those who do, I really hope even in the tough sleepless nights we get to savor it.

Prayers for those mothers- to- be, those who want to be mothers, and those in the throes of motherhood in which day and night blends a little too easily in which sleep becomes broken, and yet everything becomes whole again.

On a side note, I always thought my children’s ages would be all squished together. A one or two year gap perhaps. Z and A are sort of squished together. But baby H is 7 years younger than Z and 4 years younger than A!
My 3 brothers and I are all born within 5 years so I just assumed I too would have children also spaced closely together just so. I loved how we were all in college around the same time just a few miles apart in Atlanta and how friends were easily shared.

You can plan as much as you want and circle as many dates in the calendar, but God has His own plan for you.

We live in a world where everything is so instant. Instant results for tests, Uber delivery within a few minutes, digital pictures that no longer need developing. (Does anyone else remember the anticipation of dropping of refrigerated film hoping and praying your photos came out just so?!) You can’t plan your exact date on if you will conceive, when that would happen, and on when you will deliver. Something so primal and basic yet God knows the answers to those.

In the Quran, it says during trials to pray and be patient. I heard somewhere the praying part is easier, but the patience part is so much harder. Because patience is passive and impatience gnaws at you while instilling doubt. But still we hope and pray and wait because sometimes that’s all you can do.

And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive.” (Quran 2:45)

Faces of my Neighborhood


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.



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.


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.





Zina’s Fall Photos


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!




Round Up: My Favorite Blogs, Books, and Podcasts!


“It’s lunchtime again – Brian’s least favorite part of the day. Another twenty l-o-n-g minutes of kids talking and laughing with everyone else … but him.” – The Invisible Boy, book info below!

Wanted to list my favorite Reads!

I gravitate to family lifestyle photography blogs which means natural unposey photos of real-life family. The messier, the better! I realize I have a trend for reading blogs of moms with 5 children who homeschool. I admire how they have big cozy families and a love for at-home-learning. My mother is one of eight, and my father one of five, and I am one of four, so I love watching big families interact.

Without further ado…


Enjoying the Small Things – Kelle’s photos say it all! I love her bustling family, her photography angles, her outlook on life, and love reading how she raises her 3 children, especially Nella who has Down Syndrome.print52_zpsdb045967.jpgprint38_zps5b766b2f.jpgblog15_zps5820dae7.jpg



Design for Mankind– Erin’s writing is consistently beautiful! It’s laced with emotion and has gorgeous little lessons or epiphanies here and there.





Sham of The Perfect – photographers who capture their imperfect lives and houses just as they are, very refreshing!elliot_nov20_0001.jpg


My Favorite Chapter Book at the moment and it has a sequel!:


Discovered this book from the ADL Book list where this book was featured as book of the month. My book Lailah’s Lunchbox was featured as November’s book here too!


Wildflowers Photography Blog:

A mother of 5 I believe, and a mother who photographs beautifully! and homeschools!



Ashley Ann Photography – mom of 5 also who homeschools! One of her children is adopted and loved reading the story about it.



Drama Mama – from Karachi, lives in Dubai, has lived in Toronto, and is moving to Karachi! Passionate about literature, children, and homeschooling! Writes with beautiful emotion!


Confessions of a Muslim Mom – unschools her children, her children learn naturally and beautifully, lots of nuggets of wisdom, honesty! I love glimpses of her home life and watching the learning and love unfold!


Little Life of Mine –

Palestinian American mom of 4 daughters who documents life and the little snippets of it! Honest and real!541827_269020883186637_481567332_n.jpg12244826_904996416255744_6120118265258307828_o.jpg


Sarah Reinhart’s blog: Little White Whale, another mom of 5 who takes beautiful photos and has warm posts!



I enjoy listening to

The Mom Hour – humorous and honest podcast about parenting! Refreshing as it doesn’t sugarcoat! Nice to listen to when stuck in traffic.the-mom-hour-large.jpg

and Edit your Life – peaceful and short, full of warm advice on how to edit your life! Real life tips are given!


A’s favorite book at the moment: she’s aged 3! ‘A’ loves the pictures of main character Charlie struggling to sleep in his own bed. The crayon art is lovely and the message of sleeping in your bed is nice and clear! Great read for a toddler who moves into a big-girl or big-boy bed!

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Z’s favorite book at the moment! She’s aged 5!518MV3HMHCL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


A beautiful Picture Book I stumbled upon from the ADL’s book list.

The Invisible Boy is a warm book about that child that blends in and that you sadly don’t notice. Great for teachers, children, parents, etc! The illustrations are amazing. The main character starts of black and white, and as he gets more noticed, turns into a beautiful noticeable water color.



Note: all the photos above are not taken by me, but are taken by the bloggers! Posted them so you could see their beautiful work! If you like my photos, you will probably enjoy theirs as well! I love reading other people’s blogs. The way I keep up is if I stumble upon a favorite blog, I will bookmark their page on my phone and every now and then read their work and get reinspired when I have a chance. Enjoy!

Readers, if you all have any favorite blogs, reads, podcasts, stories, books, do share! I love stumbling upon something that really resonates with me!


Scraps of Frosting


Extra snooze minutes are like scraps of frosting for me.

I just can’t resist them.

Try as I might, it is a big struggle for me to get up in the mornings. I crave leisurely slow mornings where the sun makes a big appearance and has to shines forcefully on you telling you to wake up. I love slow summer days where hours blend into each other seamlessly.


Mornings where the sky has not broken into its true blue, where the sun isn’t truly shining yet, turn out to be mornings where the snooze button being pressed repeatedly.

When I taught 2nd grade, I had to show up at work daily at 7:15 a.m. Ouch! Now, I wish I appreciated the effort parents made to get their children there on time!

Today was Z’s first day in Kindergarten which meant we had to rise early.

too big pants and too big lunchbox!

too big pants and too big lunchbox!

It meant we had to resist the extra snooze minutes or diet from the extra scraps of frosting. It meant I had to cook the eggs quickly on high and make sure to not burn them. It meant everything done at a quicker speed, no summer lingering anymore. I guess if I had the willpower to get us all awake early then we could linger as much as we wanted, but our extra few minutes in bed were too precious to swap out for linger minutes. So rush we did!



When you’re around your children, you’re always responsible for them. For making sure they are polite, for making sure they take the last few bites of their egg, for brushing their fly-away hair out of their eyes.

I noticed when I taught 2nd grade when a mother would stop by, their reactions to their child were like clockwork. A quick hug or smile, a quick straightening of a hair ribbon, or a flattening of hair. A mother is a child’s groomer. Who else will do all these things if a mother is not there? As a teacher of 20 students, you can’t be straightening hair ribbons all day, so that is what mothers or fathers or caretakers are for, right?

When your child is off in full-time-school, you’ve released your little one, your chick from your cozy nest of home, and all you can do now is hope and pray all will go well, and find beauty in your leftover eggshells and offspring!


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Ilyas and Duck Search For Allah children’s book review


This story is creatively written by Omar Khawaja and vibrantly illustrated by Leo Antolini.

The story is about a curious little boy called Ilyas who searches for God’s location. Allah is simply the Arabic name for God so this book is universal for all faiths. The story is a  beautiful, heartwarming story. Z really enjoyed this story. As a parent who is often asked to read the same book over and over, I really enjoyed the illustrations that added a comical touch to the story, especially Duck’s antics.

The Backstory: I got in touch with Omar Khawaja to see his journey to publishing and what I liked about his journey is that he wanted a Muslim children’s book that was appealing and answered his children’s questions, so he went ahead and wrote his story and published it. So many times as authors we can sit and stew on an idea, but what I admire is that he followed his dream through and made it a reality.  You can read about it here. He owns a company called Little Big Kids so for him it made sense to make a product and self-publish it. 

Availability: This book has rave reviews and is available on Amazon here or Little Big Kids and is a heartwarming story. I liked the animals Omar Khawaja chose in this story: the hoopoe was mentioned in the Quran so it was educationally appealing.  As an elementary school teacher, I value stories that have educational aspects to it. As a Sunday School teacher, this story would be a great circle time read. As an aspiring writer, this story was professionally written and beautifully illustrated.

On a side note, when I read this story to Z, I feel the need to add more wording to clarify as I believe Allah is above the 7th heavens as listed here:

Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)? (Quran 67:16).

But that I know Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein:

“And indeed, We have created man, and we know what (evil) temptation his innermost self may bring to him: And We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.”  (Quran 50:16).

Favorite Quote:
Ilyas looked through the binoculars but all he could see were a few puffy clouds and a plane flying by.
“You won’t see Allah with those binoculars,” said the Hoopoe sitting on the branch of a tree nearby.
“What do you mean?” asked Ilyas. But the Hoopoe didn’t answer. It just flew away.
 Preschooler Z’s thoughts and Toddler A’s thoughts:
Z loves this story, especially the rocket page where Ilyas blasts off to space to search for Allah! Baby A loves this story even more than Z, and is always grabbing and hugging this story when we read books. She also loves saying Ilyas’s name, and pointing to him, “Ilyaaas!”
I was looking at the upcoming story of Ilyas and Duck’s Fantastic Festival Eid-ul-Fitr on my computer and Z and A saw the cover of Ilyas and Duck and the cake on my screen, and Z started yelling, “Ilyas is baking!” and A started clapping her hands saying, “Ilyaaaas!” so the cool thing about this character Ilyas  is that he’s relatable. It’s refreshing to see children like a Muslim character, not just Dora!
Can’t wait to read even more books about this relatable character Ilyas from this author Omar Khawaja and illustrator Leo Antolini!

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