Category Archives: Family

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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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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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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Book Review: You Will Not Have My Hate

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I was approached by Penguin to review You Will Not Have My Hate, written by Antoine Leiris.

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I reviewed the advance copy of the story. It’s available for pre-order here on Amazon, and is set for debut in 4 days, on October 25th.

The memoir is a short 129 page read, but gripping. In the story, Antoine’s wife Helene is killed in a terrorist attack in France. Suddenly, Antoine is left a widower. Their seventeen-month-old baby son Melvil cries for his mother, but never gets back. In the light of such tragedy, Antoine writes a powerful letter to the terrorists, “You will not have my hate.” His letter went viral. In his letter, he also says, “There are only two of us -my son and myself- but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.”

“We were like two little Lego bricks that fitted together perfectly,” he says about his wife.

Antoine has to deal with being alone and navigating the left over reality as a single papa. At his son’s daycare, the other mothers rotate making him and his baby homemade soup. Soup that his son does not like to eat. As a result, Antoine simply discards the soup each week.

I love how Antoine writes, “I didn’t have the courage to tell them that Melvil never tasted their homemade meals, and that the little pots could not stay in our house. Maybe this is because, even while still full, sitting on the dresser, these pots nourished our hearts with a sweet, maternal tenderness.”

Antoine’s paragraphs are short but full of emotion. The story is touching but inspiring. It’s a read that makes you yearn for a world full of peace and wish that everyone had Antoine’s courage.

 

 

A Sealed Book

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I was driving through my neighborhood when I saw a couple of other mothers strolling with their toddlers in the neighborhood. Meantime, I was rushing home from the drop off of my now mostly school-aged little ones. The sunlight was just spilling over onto the road and I couldn’t help missing my days that were slower paced, more rush-free. Less Car. More Home. Less Drives. More Strolls.

I drove back home where the sunlight hadn’t reached my kitchen yet, where the eggshells were still on the counter.

Reading blogger and author Kelle Hampton’s blog, I found her words resonated with me. Kelle talks about being in the Middle Stage of Childhood where she says,

“The introduction of my parenting book is over, and the relentless work of the middle place is here where rewards aren’t as shimmery as feeling newborn baby breath on my neck. And yet, they’re here…

I have similar answers for all the “Do you miss?” questions.

“Do you miss teaching?”

I miss the first day of school. Pencil boxes. Memorizing all my students’ names in one day. Making them feel loved. Writing lessons. Taping great vocabulary words to the wall and seeing them pop up in the kids’ stories. After lunch read alouds.

But…I look for, find and create what I miss: the homework corner in my office with the jar of freshly sharpened pencils that smell like September. Tucking my kids in bed at night, nailing all the character voices from another chapter of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Tagging along for field trips. Guest speaking about memoir in my friend’s 8th grade writing class.

“Do you miss when they were babies?

I miss fingers curled around mine, snug sleepers, nursing in the middle of the night, walking into their rooms to check on them sleeping only to find them peeping through the crib slats. I miss sandwich bags stashed with Cheerios and peach puffs, tiny bodies glued to my hip, heavy heads resting on my shoulder as they fight their naps.

But…I look for, find and create what I miss: tickling their faces to put them to sleep, big-kid sleepers that still fit snug, catching occasional pincher grasps for goldfish crackers and pretzel stick snacks, nose-to-nose bedtime snuggles, holding little hands as I lead them into classrooms, mispronounced words, so many firsts still to come.

I too am like Kelle where I am in this middle stage where my little children are not-so-little. Where frantic school-drop-offs replace late morning walks on weekdays. Where Z’s teeth are all sorts of wobbly and it’s amazing how with one tooth missing, the faces of children all of a sudden look so big!

Sometimes I miss the old stages where my children’s cheeks were softer and fuller and where their first footsteps were still wobbly and unsure. I can see an old photo or watch a video of their first steps, but I can never go back.

And as much as I want to skim the pages forward in these chapters of life to get a sneak peek of what’s to come, I can’t. The past pages are glued together, and no matter how much I pry to get back, I can’t. The future pages are blank and I hope full of promise. I don’t know how many pages or chapters I will get though. It’s like life is a sealed book and the only pages we are on are today.

A Sealed Book. A reminder to me to focus on today. Sometimes so hard when emails are flurrying back and forth, meat is defrosting in the microwave, saucy pots await you in the sink, and laundry likes to take its company quietly with other likeminded items slowly piling on the floor. Hard to focus on today when children need to be picked up, dropped off, homework checked,

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and so much more!

But trying to find a little bit of peace here and there …

img_7663leaves that beg to be picked up!

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a broken winged, yet beautiful, butterfly enjoying its lunch on our deck! Harsh sunlight forced me to try different angles to capture more compelling images.img_7462img_7455img_7435img_7384Post Eid-Mehndi-Fingers!img_7382img_7381img_7274

my brother’s homemade eclairs on Eid!img_7275img_7221img_7223img_7222img_7225

The $3.29 for pre-rolled-out-Publix-Dough is worth the price as the effort is cut in half! Just bought it yesterday and was much quicker!img_7241img_7251img_7254img_7218img_7210img_7194img_7186img_7159img_7154Peekaboo dolls in my bowls cabinet!

More later!

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen treasures– none knows them but He; and He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book.” – Quran 6:59