Category Archives: Motherhood

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop of Monotony

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“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.

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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!

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

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

The Calm Before The Storm…

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With schools closing early and things being cancelled all around me, I love the peace that comes before the storm. I love seeing the world blanketed in white looking all fresh and new. I don’t know if it will actually snow, but hoping for snow. When I used to live in Abu Dhabi, I would be mesmerized by the rare rain falling and the way drops would gather forming scant puddles here and there. In Atlanta, I am spoiled. Rain is a common thing and I no longer am as mesmerized by the constant fall of rain. However, when it snows in Atlanta, I am newly mesmerized all over.

Enjoying:

  • a cancelled gymnastics class became a time to bake brownies and facetime my grandmother in Pakistan
  • an early pick up at school became more playtime for A&Z and a time to blog
  • the birds! The birds have been feasting today at my bird feeder which makes me wonder if they are stocking up on food before the storm comes, or simply extra friendly today.photo 4 (12)
  • Instagram: In the past, I used instagram, but didn’t want to waste time by allowing followers or following people. Recently though I was told, “Isn’t instagram made for people who take photos like you?” so I now have an account that I follow people with and love the inspiration I see on there. Facebook for me is sometimes overwhelming, but Instagram is a nice way to see fellow bloggers work in a quick scroll. My cousin Ahmed or karachichaiwalla has the most amazing Pakistan photos – you can follow him here if you are an instagrammer or simply click and look through his images. Here’s a screenshot photo below!
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  • yarn again. I really want to crochet something warm in the next couple of days!
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    My computer is acting up so can’t delete the extra crochet photo. Ignore!

  • Love the confidence of 5 year olds! When we practiced for the spelling bee, Z kept spelling DOG as D-O-O-G and then as G-O-D! and WET as W-U-T and the list goes on! But she still thought she would win the spelling bee. I heard about a basketball player holding a basket ball asking kindergartners if they could throw a 3 point shot and they all raised their hands saying, “I can!” Such is the spirit of a 5 year old.

    Even with all her mistakes, Z said she wanted to win and tie the spelling bee with her cousin. She came back from school misspelling the first word she was given, Hand; she spelled it with an E. Her cousin misspelled the word ‘cow’! But she was still happy!

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    I also love knowing what words people love. Z loves spelling the word M-U-S-T and the sound of it. I love the sound of the word ‘tapioca.’ It just sounds so lovely.

     Target with ‘A’ below!

A new gallery  wall! My uncle Zia Zakaria’s painting is the first orange calligraphy one. You can look him up at Zakaria Ink here. I love his work.

Cozy Reading Time! I Love the blog A Beautiful Mess and was inspired by their book above. I also just read The Nesting Place book about having an imperfect home and LOVED it.

  1. Paint, 2. Cut paintings into strips, 3. Loop the paintings together to make a bedroom banner!
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Jeni’s Icecream – lavendar flavor Z loves!

9 Non-Goals

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Last year, I was inspired by blogger Erin Loechner, who instead of writing resolutions wrote non-goals in 2015 and 2016. Gentle ways in which you reflect back on your year and think, what did I do well in? Of course there are always things you could do better, aren’t there always?

What are the things that you slowly thrived in?

Here’s Erin’s last year quote:

“You know the drill by now, it’s non-goal time. In a month where we’re encouraged to pick apart bits of ourselves – more of this, less of that – sometimes it’s just refreshing to take a step back and see the landscape for what it is. To swim in the grace we’ve been given; leap in the forgiveness we’re granted. To just keep walking, one foot then another, without searching for a new route that might offer a quicker arrival to a destination we were never intended to seek.” – Erin Loechner

Here are my 2015 Non-Goals!

Below are my 2016 Non-Goals!

  1. You Read Lots of Books
    Reading for me is a must. When I read, I get a mini escape from my world. I was just reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and I loved seeing how her point of view. Books help you decompress, and when you need a bit of silence, and escape from the hubbub of your world, a book is one way. I don’t read every single book word-for-word if I don’t want to. I read picture books, chapter books, books for people my age with hard covers and squished up words. I have books on my dining table, books in the cabinets, books on the coffee table, books in baskets, books everywhere. I leave a few books on my dining table for me to browse through while I eat a snack now and then, and love the drawing in of words.

Also, how amazing is a library? A place where you can go and leave with a bag of books for free. Yes, to be returned, but then you get more in exchange!

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2. You Were a Little More Social

Last year, I was happy to be a little less social. I was home bound for some time when I had a health issue. I found that I had to flourish at home. Being a homebody, I was fine. However, I found that when I am well and able, being social can be good. People get happy to see you. You get happy to see them.

 

3. You Are Trying to Go on Nature Adventures

This year I actually went apple picking, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I got to go the Atlantic Ocean as well as the mountains, so it is nice to be able to reflect on the natural world around me.

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4. You Went to Coffee Shops

The wifi stopped working so ‘A’ and I went to a coffee shop. And then another. I don’t drink coffee (I don’t like the bitter taste of it), so we enjoyed our hot chocolates. I do love the smell of coffee though! I may try to go again to get actual work done. We’ll see!

5. You are Trying to Make your Home a Haven

I am trying to declutter. Trying to make the home even cozier and make peace with the things I need, the needs of 2 little ones, and the peace of the inevitable mess.

6. You Had to Promote Your Book which Meant Talking to People and Being Out There!

When you are always out everyday as a teacher, and all of a sudden become more-at-home as a mother, it is a little odd to suddenly be out more than what you’re used to. To board a plane and to meet eager minds at libraries. To receive hugs from eager-reading-children is rewarding!

 

7. To Not Force It

This year I just didn’t feel like crocheting a lot. I didn’t feel like blogging as much (had other writing tasks to focus on). Different demands took my time. I didn’t like the guilty lingering feeling I had and am trying to make peace with it. Making peace with new hobbies or lack of hobbies are good.

8. To Keep Trying

I’m itching for another book to author and am trying my hand again at writing. I am happy that I keep trying especially when giving up is so easy in the uncertain world of publishing. I also was really excited when Lailah’s Lunchbox landed on the 2016 ALA Notable Books so praying for more notable books!

9. To Appreciate Health

To know that when I am healthy to appreciate it.

When health fails, as it can do to anyone at any time anywhere to take it in stride, to turn to God, and pray your heart out.

To Appreciate health with a capital A when it returns.

 

 

And things I want to do this year and remind myself of and mini-goals:

  1. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift.
  2. I want to do a proper cartwheel.
  3. I want to write beautiful stories. Bonus: Get Them Published!
  4. I want to enjoy cooking more. I love making playdough or baking cookies, but I want to view cooking less as a chore and see it more as a joy.

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    playdough!

  5. I want to be better about driving places that are further from me or when Atlanta traffic strikes, but understand if I don’t feel fine with going somewhere or doing something, that it is totally fine to opt out to regain myself to go out another time.
  6. I want to continue to be okay with children mess around me, to join in it as necessary, and to clean, clean, clean if I ever feel the need.
  7.  Like a spider spins a safe cocoon of a web around itself, I want to spin a web of ease, blessings, peace, health and all the good stuff around me. And with prayer and persistence, anything is possible, right?
  8. I want to frame my children’s art work and post it more in my home.
  9. I want to give away many more things that I do not need.
  10. I want to have weekends that are slow and lazy and sunshine or clouds and be at peace.
  11. I want lots of nice, white daylight streaming through windows.
  12. I want to understand the Quran meaning word for word.
  13. I want to give time to myself, to my family, to my work, to my religion.
  14. I want to be the best that I can be and appreciate all that I am and all that I ever will be. That sounds nice, not sure where I got that from?
  15. I want to eat less raw cookie dough from my freezer
  16. I want to be a pro at stretches
  17. I want to meet deadlines I create for me
  18. I want to be 5 minutes early for things
  19. I want to write mostly everyday
  20. I want to look at the sky everyday!