Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nerd Alert!

We are leaving in less than half an hour to do the final walk through of our house!  It's almost ours!!!  Hoooray!

I took the opportunity to dress up fancy-like.  I even showered.  Purty, huh?

...but then I totally ruined it by being a spazz.  Can you tell I'm excited?


Monday, April 19, 2010

The House Update You've All Been Waiting For..

I know you've just been dying to hear some news about the new house.  I bet you've been spending endless hours wondering why I've been so quiet about everything, and maybe you even thought that the whole thing was just a joke, that maybe there WAS no house after all, or that it was all a dream that happened to someone far more exciting, who was about 6 inches taller than me, much skinnier and who was never confused with a Certain Evil Unibrowed Muppet.

Ermmm...so maybe that last part was just me.

Truthfully, there's been no update because there has been nothing to update!  After our offer was accepted and the inspections were done, things sort of ground to a halt and we were just....waiting.  I think all the people involved in the legal aspects of us buying the house were having trouble communicating with each other because Yousuf and I spent the last month basically shuffling phone messages along to all of them.  It's been such fun, in an I-just-want-to-tear-my-hair-out kind of way.  Yeah, it's been about that fun.

But, just when we thought that things couldn't get any slower - we got a call from our lawyer who told us that WE ARE SET TO CLOSE ON THE HOUSE ON WEDNESDAY!!!!

Gee, thanks for giving us some advanced notice, Mr. Fancypants Lawyer Dude.  Not that I'm not grateful for the fact that we will be the proud owners of a brand-new-to-us-yet-very-old house...nothing could make me happier - except for maybe, oh I don't know, how about some ADVANCED NOTICE?!?

So yeah, things are going to be more than a bit crazy at the VeniVidiHousehold (well, crazier than they are on normal days). I'm just warning all of you in advance in case you see random posts over the next few days that include images of me looking like some sort of crazed animal as we pack, move, clean, fix up the new house, and get our current house leased while somehow managing to work around Yousuf's insane end-of-year schedule (in case I haven't mentioned it in the past, let me tell you ONCE AGAIN just how much I abhor the end of the school year for professors!!!  I can't wait to catch up with my husband.  Sometime after the middle of MAY.  It just suckitysuckssucks).

Deep Breaths.  Must. Take. Deep. Breaths.

I know we'll get through it, and at the end of it all we'll have an honest-to-goodness HOUSE of our very own!  And more importantly, I know that I'll have all of YOU to depend on as we slowly lose our already-tenuous grasp on sanity, my lovely virtual support system of friends and probably a couple of weirdos thrown in for good measure.  I am so grateful for your support.  Yes, even  you...Mr.Winnebago Warrior who owns a blog about RV's (I have no idea how that happened)...I know you're all out there and I appreciate it muchly.

Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with us!

Oh hey, I created a Facebook Page for VeniVidiBlogi and I'd love for you to check it out - drop me a message and join the fun!  Or not.  No pressure.  (Doitdoitdoit! You know you want to!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

On The Subject Of Personal Grooming...

Tonight Yousuf is working late (yes, again.  Sigh.  I hate the end of the school year for professors!  Down with exams, I say!) and in his loving, caring, completely clueless way he offered to take us all out for dinner instead of me having to cook after being with the kids all day.

Loving gesture?  For sure.  Did I say yes?  Hell NO.

See, this has been the week from Hades.  I'm not even joking.  With Nissa being sick (she's getting better now) the resulting sleep-deprivation has nearly driven me to madness.  Apart from that, I've been stuck in an endless cycle of puke-laundry-puke for nearly five days which has has left little time for anything else, especially things that involve taking care of ME.  Like, say...showering.  Or personal grooming.

After I had Nissa, I went through a brief period of insanity where I was convinced that I was getting hairier.  And not just in the usual places.  It finally dawned on me one day that I wasn't necessarily growing more hair, but that the decision to bring another human being into the world had left me with next to no time to de-hair the stuff I already had.  Someone should really tell you this stuff before you decide to have children:

WARNING:  Do Not Attempt To Procreate Unless You Don't Mind Looking Like A Sasquatch.

And before you say that I should just get over myself, and who really cares about hair, and that it's natural, and yadda yadda yadda, let me say that in my many years of self-grooming I have noticed that the ONLY people who spout this kind of nonsense are people that have been blessed by the One or Ones In Charge to be born genetically hair-free.  My in-laws are some of these people.  They also have fine bone structure and never get sick.  Mutants.

I on the other hand, have to work HARD to look even half as good as normal-haired folks.  The sad truth is, my tribe is hairy.  And not just peach-fuzz-only-in-the-sunlight hairy.  Nay, me and my kin have been doubly blessed to be placed squarely in the Dark Hair and Light Skin hair category (hairegory?).  There's just no hiding the luxurious pelt that grows in places no human being should have a right to grow hair.

I blame my parents. 

Which leads to the grooming.  I am a kick-ass groomer.  Mostly because I have become so TIRED of professional waxers alluding to the fact that I look like Evil Bert when I go to get my eyebrows done:

The only thing is, it takes a lot of time and hard work (which usually involves a lot of grunting and sometimes cursing if the grooming involves hot wax) to go from Angry Bert to Not Half-Bad Mahreen.  Time, which in this line of work is a rare and precious commodity.  Every day I'm faced with these agonizing choices:  Warm Up Lunch or Wax My Face (unlike you freaks who only have to take care of the hair on ONE part of your face, I get to target the whole flipping thing so that people don't think Yousuf married a man.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.)?  Sleep or Shave?  Change A Diaper or De-Hair? 

And, being the super-amazing (and modest) human being that I am, I usually choose my offspring over myself.  I know most of you moms (even you hair-free freakoid ones) can relate, and you would probably make the same choice too.  But man, do I miss my razor.

So when Yousuf kindly volunteered to do us a solid and take us out for dinner, I'm sure you can understand why I gave him the mother of all dirty looks.  Silly boy...he just doesn't get it.  He looked so confused when I said that I'd only let him take me out if I could wear a ski mask to dinner.  To which he asked if I had plans to rob the fast food joint.  At which point I got mad and stormed away. 

I've decided that I need a Personal Grooming Schedule.  No, not need.  I DESERVE it.  I claim tonight for ME.  I wonder how that will go over, though.  Probably not too well.  "Forget going out for dinner, kids...how about we all stay home so that mama can shave her legs?  Doesn't that sound like FUN?"  Maybe I can find a way to make it a family affair.  I might as well get the girls broken in early, because with the genes they've been dealt they'll probably live to be a hundred but be as hairy as all get out.  Sorry, kids.  Blame your grandparents.

And the next time Yousuf decides to do something spontaneous like take us out for dinner, I'm going to have him check my Personal Grooming Schedule first.  I could probably swing going out before a day marked "Shaving" but definitely NOT before "Waxing".  Can you just imagine what would happen?

Cue me imagining the following scenario...

"Can I please have some fries?"
"Don't you want our money instead of fries?"
"Ummm...no.  I just want some fries."
"You mean money."
"I mean FRIES."
"But you're dressed up like a robber."
"Oh that.  Just ignore the ski mask.  It's just...an accessory?"
"Accessory?  But it's 65 degrees outside!"
"Yeah, well.  I get cold.  On my face.  In the spring."
"Oh, just take it off, already!"
"No.  Just give me the fries."
"Take it off first!"
"Fine. Are you like deformed under there?"
"In a manner of speaking."
"Can I just have a peek?  Please?  I'll give your kids free chocolate milk if you let me see..."
"Free?  Did you say free?  Okay then...but just a peek."
Pulling off ski mask...

That'll teach Yousuf to do something nice for me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don't Hate Us Because We're Beautiful...

This would make for such a smashing holiday photo, no?  It's perfect because we could send it out to both Muslim and non-Muslim sides of the family.  You know, because EVERYBODY'S heard of the Eid/Christmas Pirate/Policeman/Princess/Ladybug brigade.  We're like the Village People but with babies!  I'm totally going to send this out...if for no other reason than I know my poor mom is going to hit the roof.  Which is going to make the effort SO WORTH IT.  I know.  I'm terrible.

I realize that this post makes no sense whatsoever, but please don't judge me.  I haven't slept in three days.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Baby Hangover

It's 12:45am and my baby is not asleep.  She's had a fever for two days and been feeling generally miserable, but this evening she perked right up, kicked the fever and decided that she was NEVER GOING TO SLEEP AGAIN.

As I type she is trying to crawl on my legs.

And now she just upended the box of Duplos.

And now she's trying to take apart the very carefully arranged Mr. & Mrs. Potato Heads (Inara is going to be MAD.  I should probably do something.  But I'm too tired.).

I'm glad that she's feeling better but I would really like to see my mattress at some point tonight.  We brought her downstairs because she was YELLING in bed with us upstairs and we were afraid it was going to wake Inara up.  So now she's banging on her musical table top toy (but HA HA, I turned it off SO THERE!  Oh crud...I think she's trying to turn it back on.  Can babies get smarter when they're sleep deprived?).

Ugh.  I am so going to be feeling this tomorrow morning.  The sad truth about having more than one child is that you never get a break.  If Baby #2 suddenly decides that it's a sleep-optional party, well then you have no choice but to put on your big girl jammies and party with the best of them.  And then when she finally does fall asleep, you can't even enjoy it because it's time for Baby #1 to wake up.  So you have to walk around the next day in a blurry baby-induced hangover, just counting down the hours until blissful sleep is yours again.

Looks like going to be a LONG night.  I'm not looking forward to my baby hangover tomorrow.

"Entertain me, dangnabbit!"

Yousuf looks SO excited to be pulling an all-nighter.

Seriously.  She's not even TIRED:

...and she totally punched me at the end. I just was too exhausted to defend myself.

Update:  It's now the morning after, and I do in fact have the very worst baby hangover.  But that's because Nissa slept soundly from 1am to 6:30am and then woke up with a raging fever.  And then she puked.  Sigh.  It would appear as if we're not quite clear of this virus yet....does someone want to come over and hook up my caffeine drip for me?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

She Had No Idea Why I Was Laughing At Her...

I love this sweet girl so much.  She makes me laugh every single day, and I am just so unbelievably lucky to be a part of her world.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Constance McMillen And A Community Gone Mad

Have you been following the story of Constance McMillen?  She is the 18-year-old from Fulton, Mississippi who was tricked into going to a fake prom while her classmates AND THEIR PARENTS planned a secret, second prom that she was not invited to.  Why?  Because she wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend to the dance.

Constance was discriminated against because she is a lesbian.  But honestly, it would have been wrong to act this way towards ANY human being.  It was hurtful and spiteful and mean and just plain WRONG.  And what I can't get out of my head is the fact that there were others in on this whole thing from the beginning, not just the students of Itawamba Agricultural High School. Seriously - I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when the conversation to hold a secret prom excluding a lesbian and two learning disabled students (yup, you read that right.  This gets more and more disgustinger by the minute, doesn't it?) took place.  Did the kids come home to their mommies and daddies and say, "Hey Mom and Dad.  I don't want to have a prom with those people!"  And then did their parents turn around and say "Well, you know what?  You shouldn't have to!  Let's just have a secret prom!  Because it's okay to hate people who are different than us.  That is JUST FINE.  Now go have a cookie. I'll call the school!"

I'm not trying to make light of this.  It really does sicken me.  Because you know what?  Years from now, my daughters could be Constance.  YOUR children could be her.  And how would that feel, as a parent, to know that your child has been excluded, not just by her peers - but by an entire community.  How does that happen?  Or worse...what happens if my daughter tells me that she doesn't want to go to a party where "those people" will be?  And really, it doesn't matter what "those people" are in terms of their sexuality or what they look like or if they can't do the same things that you or I can do.  What matters is that as a parent, I will have completely and utterly failed my child. And that is not okay.

When I first heard about this story my immediate thoughts went to the parents of the kids attending Itawamba Agricultural High School. - I just could not believe that they would allow something so hurtful to happen.  But the more I'm reading about this, the more I'm realizing that it wasn't just the parents.  There were LOTS of people involved in covering up the real prom, and in misleading Constance.  It must have taken all her classmates, their parents, as well as the teachers, administrators and school officials...a whole whackload of really twisted people were colluding to pull this off.  And that is what is most shocking about this story - that there was not one person who came forward to warn Constance ahead of time.  Not one teacher, not one friend, not one single person.

A whole community gone mad.

It just makes me so sad to think that there are places out there where this kind of mentality is normal, it's encouraged even.  I am bewildered by the fact that these people, the very same people who are supposed to be responsible for shaping the minds of our future leaders, didn't even stop for a second when they condoned a truly reprehensible and bigoted act of segregation.

This is not the world I want for my children, for your children, or for our future leaders.  This hatred, this seething undercurrent of discrimination that people think is normal is anything but.  It's vile and it needs to stop.  Not just for Constance McMillen and the other students that were tricked into going to a fake prom, but for the community they live in.

A community that had no problem with deceiving an 18-year-old girl just because she wasn't like more like the rest of them.

How can it be okay to treat another human being this way?

It's sheer madness, I tell you.  And it makes me sick.

And to all those who are living in their own Communities Gone Mad - please know this:  I am here for you.  We are all here for you.  And we think that you are perfect just the way you are. 

Constance McMillen

P.S. - To The Peanut Gallery - I did read your question about my photos, and would be happy to write about it very soon.  I just felt that this story was too important for me not to comment on first.  xoxoxmahreen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Cookin': Hot or Cold Channa Masala

We had a fabulous weekend.  We enjoyed every second of being able to play outside, ate tons of summer fruits and veggies and even had a surprise overnight visit from my cousin, his wife and their two very sweet kids.  Inara and Nissa were in heaven!

The sunny skies and balmy temperatures just made me want to stay out of the house all day, so when it came time to cook dinner I found myself needing something easy and filling to throw together.  Inspired by having family come to visit, I was reminded of the garbanzo beans my mom used to make for our huge family get-togethers. My mom's version is the traditional North Indian style - heavily oiled and spiced, and served with deep-fried flatbreads.  I ended up finding a lighter version online which I thought would be perfect for the summer-like weather, and then I added vegetables to make it more of a complete meal.  The result was an easy to make and tasty new twist on an old favorite that even my discriminating niece gobbled right up (and she asked for seconds too!).  Surely that is a sign of success!

The best part about this recipe is that you can serve it immediately, so that it's nice and warm - with bread (I'm personally not into deep-fried bread, so I served it with whole wheat pitas.  Another great pairing would be Indian Naan flatbread, but it isn't usually made of whole wheat).  You could also serve this dish with rice if you're looking for a non-wheat option.  And, if you've got enough for leftovers it tastes divine served cold over a bed of spinach or other greens for an instant savory salad.  You just can't go wrong with this recipe - it's really that versatile!

So without further ado, I give you:

Hot or Cold Channa Masala

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it spicy!)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (I'd go light, and add more towards the end if you need it)
1/2 cup light coconut milk (I use Native Forest Organic Light Coconut Milk, which is always available in the organic section of my grocery store)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cans (15 ounces each) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons oregano

Baby spinach, flatbread (naan or pita bread), or rice


Brown onion over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet until almost caramelized (about 7 minutes), using a tablespoon or two of water as needed to prevent sticking.  Add garlic, red bell pepper, cumin, coriander, chili powder and garam masala.  Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add salt, coconut milk and lemon juice.  Stir until heated.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add garbanzo beans, tomatoes and oregano.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately with rice or bread, or chilled over a bed of baby spinach leaves.


Friday, April 2, 2010


It's simply mahvelous weather today, and the icing on the cake is that Yousuf has the day off as well.  So, we're kicking back and soaking up every single second of this gift - I hope it's just a sneak peek into what the spring and summer have in store for us.

Here's to family, fair skies, and fantastic memories.  I hope your weekend is filled with all of these things, and so much more...

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