Category Archives: Inspiration

I is for Immigrant

Standard

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.

16427694_10154822836607184_2161444824461691992_n (1) (1).jpg

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.

16300407_1238696972850385_907515073414766548_o (1).jpg

16177944_1238696976183718_7007917180352001613_o (1).jpg

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

Standard

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.

***
wp-image-1078219633jpg.jpg

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.

 

***

 

T is for Travel

Standard

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!

img_7648img_7631img_7625img_7624img_7621img_7620img_7616img_7610img_7609

“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)

Assortments of -ing

Standard
Appreciating–
the golden ray of sunlight that reaches the exact spot in the room where I am sitting. Golden Ray that makes the room look special all of a sudden.
Wondering—
on the phone, I am telling someone about what everyone in my acquired little family is doing tomorrow. I realize with a numb surprise as I pack my husband’s lunch, Z’s little lunch, and A’s littler lunch, that I don’t have a packed lunch. Where’s my lunch? Who makes my lunch? What am doing tomorrow?  Where am I in the picture? Am I to always remain behind-the-scenes?
Adjusting —
to children who are bigger, yet still so small. Adjusting to a here-and-there preschool routine of A and trying to find smidges of time to get writing done, or to just sit and stare out the window and try to avert my eyes from the smattering of things everywhere.
Feeling—
the tingly warm feeling return to sore fingers as I rub an ice cube chip over my wrists, fingers, and joints. Note to self to do wrist circles and wrist bends and general exercise. Must avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!
Welcoming–
hummingbirds and butterflies (a monarch even!) to a couple of finicky zinnia blooms. Further welcoming the upcoming weekend in which aforementioned lunches do not have to be thermosed, foiled, and refrigerated.
Reading–
Claire Bidwell’s memoir, The Rules of Inheritance, about losing her mother (and then her father!) is raw and real and her words strung together are like little treasures.
Reminiscing—
on Hajj. I still remember my mother telling us that Hajj would fall in December and that my brothers and I wouldn’t have to miss work, that this was an opportunity to go. I thought I would perform Hajj in my 40’s, not 20’s. Shrugging a “Sure, why not?” in response. The uncertainty of applying for visas and being told that there wasn’t space for us in the Hajj group to go. Then by chance, the person on the phone happened to ask my mother our ages. We were in our early 20’s.
Then to be told they always encouraged young people to go, were we still interested? Yes. Yes. We Were. Then being swept on the journey of a lifetime. Being one minute person in the midst of millions of people, but being in exactly the right place to be.

1910243_504327566884_6342_n-1

1910243_504327591834_8020_n-1

 

Scoop of Monotony

Standard

“In a child’s lunch box, a mother’s thoughts.” ~ Japanese Proverb

The packing of a school lunch can be the one thing that causes a scoop of monotony mixed with a pinch of dread to fill my soul.

Before packing a fresh lunch, first you have to retrieve the day-old lunch from a sticky slender 6 year old fingers or plump 3 year old’s fingers (in which the knuckles are still developing.)

First, I must figure out what to do with the leftovers, before starting to pack a new lunch.

First, I must tackle the lunchbox.

First, I must unzip the lunchbox.

I hate the way cool plump grapes return shriveled and lukewarm.

I hate the way brave cold peaks of hummus return huddled and hollowed in the corner of a Tupperware box.

I hate the routine of school.

I hate the way mornings are harsh and hurried, hurried and harsh. The once gentle morning light is now a reminder that time is passing rapidly and we must hurry to get to school on time.

I already miss the slow unhurried days of summer.

I am not a morning person so hurried morning routines are torturous for me.

But every negative has a positive.

The children gain a sense of routine and most importantly, knowledge.

With a few hours to myself here and there, I can attempt to get tasks done.

Or not.

The time in which little ones are at school sometimes flies the fastest.

So when dinner isn’t cooked and the time is hurrying by, there’s always the idea of breakfast for dinner.

Pancakes for dinner are quick and pancakes remind me of slow summer breakfasts.

IMG_7144IMG_7145IMG_7147IMG_7162IMG_7178

And if your little one starts the first week of school and decides to already catch a cold first week of school (!), there’s always chicken corn soup!

I am looking forward to the crisp bite of fall. By then I should be more adjusted to the morning routine! If you’re struggling like me, here’s a mother’s tips for speeding up the school lunch process as well as her routine. I tried her lunch tips this week and it’s an improvement!

Eggs to Eggs, Smiles to Smiles…

Standard

This summer I haven’t strung my words together just so. Rather than write, I peruse blogs of mothers who have triple the number of children I have, whose homes are built on meadowy farm lands, and who collect warm eggs from hens.

I click and browse, browse and scroll and admire and bask in the warmth of their images, the smiles of their children, and their golden light at sunset.

I eventually exit out of the window, put down the screen, drive to the grocery store, and buy cold eggs from Kroger.

I do the grocery shopping mostly lighthearted because it is summer and I have nowhere to rush. Smiles emerge from my children when they choose the trolley with the plastic pink car or if they get a free balloon at the counter. Eggs to eggs. Smiles to smiles.

This summer has been good because it has been slow and it has been slow because it has been good. I love the feeling of waking up in the morning lazily not having to rush somewhere, not having to be somewhere at 8 am, not have to be on-the-go is deliciously free.

I love not having to bark back-to-school orders  Hurry Up, Brush Your Teeth, Go sit in the car, orders peppered with the occasional questions Do you have your book bag? Where are your shoes?

 

I would love to soak up the sun this last week before school starts, but Atlanta’s weather promises rain everyday. Not to worry. Rain promises blessings. Blessings promise good.

IMG_5271

pockets of rain on the left and right!

I only hope that when the school year begins that I can still create space and patience and time to do the things that sometimes only the season of summer promises. Late nights for children with cup fulls of Ovaltine, later nights for their parents and still Ovaltine. Visits to an aunt’s home with lake swims and hammock rests. Swim lessons for the girls in which a big sister comforts a small sister and her fear of water. This is Summer.

This is what Summer has promised us so far…

IMG_5157
Flower shopping at the farmer’s market

 

IMG_6768Under-the-Apple-Tree Reads with Cousins

IMG_6775Apple Trees and Golden Sunsets

IMG_6735

IMG_6756Hammock Snuggles and Comfort Children Stories!

IMG_6755IMG_6730IMG_6753IMG_6727IMG_6762IMG_6765

Me on the rowboat!

IMG_6849Pure Gold

IMG_6857View from Boat

IMG_6848A flustered ant on the boat!

IMG_6828

IMG_6520 - Copy
Grassy Toes
IMG_6527The Quest for the Perfect Lily Pad

IMG_6499IMG_6487IMG_6486IMG_6689
Surprise Popsicles from my aunt

IMG_6864

Summer Food

IMG_5255
5 year olds transformed into Helfpul Bag Pulling 6 year olds

IMG_5244

IMG_5243

Comforting Hugs given to little sisters scared of the water!

Hoping that all the seasons to come will be savored as much as this one and that we each savor our time wisely!

“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death” – Prophet Muhammad