Monday, August 30, 2010

School Daze

So here's how it is, friends.  Inara starts her first day of pre-kindergarten in THREE more days.



I am simultaneously so excited for my big girl, and also kind of freaking out. Mostly because I just want her to have a great experience in school each and every single day forever.

I know.  Delusional much?

Anyway, Inara has been excited about starting school (partly because of our "School is GREAT and FUN and TOTALLY AWESOME" propaganda) - but I know that the whole concept is still pretty vague for her. This morning she asked if I could stay with her for "more than five minutes on my first day of school", so I know that it will be an adjustment for all of us (I told her that I would stay as long as she needed me to.  To which she replied, "I think I will need you for more than five minutes, okay? Can you do that?").

Luckily she's going to a fantastic school with a fantastic program and teacher - who has already come to our house to visit with us (Can you say Above and Beyond?  I love our school!!), and with whom I have already had many phone conversations. I bet that her poor teacher had NO idea that she'd be schooling not only Inara, but the whole George family as well!  But she has been amazing so far, and it's done wonders for my comfort level - because let's face it, Inara going off to school has absolutely NOTHING to do with her, and absolutely everything to do with ME and how blubbery-faced Yousuf and I will be when we get there in THREE MORE DAYS.

Oh, and did I mention that Yousuf canceled his classes to come with us on Inara's first day?  Yup. We're totally THOSE parents. The ones who bring their whole family and cameras and equipment and AV gear to school on the first day.  Inara is going to LOVE us when she gets older.

But for now, we're just going to pretend that it's totally normal to show up like a big troupe of crazies out on a day pass to cheer for her on her first day.  We're the ones that are going to be all, "Oh look! Inara put her bag away!  YAAAAAY! Oh look! Inara said hello to another kid!  CHEEEEER!  Oh look! Inara went to the potty ALL BY HERSELF!  SHOCK AND AWE!"

And hopefully by that time Inara will say that my five minutes are up.  Or not. Honestly, if she does say that she wants me to go, I can't guarantee that I won't be slightly offended.  Because again, I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN HER UNIVERSE.  Right?  Right? Riiiiiiiight?  She should at least give me a heads up before she goes and gets all Ms. Preschool Independent on me. 

Sigh.  It's all going by so fast....I feel like I barely have time to catch my breath.

Speaking of which, I don't honestly know how I'm going to keep blogging as often as I've been doing - I'm going to be taking Inara to school and volunteering in her class (I'm totally THAT MOM!!! That's me...Volunteery, Can't-Let-Go-Of-My-Baby ME!!) while Nissa naps and Yousuf is home with her. Which means that my normal blogging afternoons are very soon going to be a thing of the past.  But I will still blog. I have to - I need to do it, otherwise I might go even more insane than I currently am.  I'll just have to find some more hours in the day to keep writing.  We'll figure it out - and I'm going to thank you in advance for putting up with my letting-go pains. Snifflesnifflesniffle...this poor mama is going to need some virtual hugs very soon!!

We went for test ride to school last week, just to get Inara used to the commute (it's a short bike ride away, I love that we're so close).We also wanted to take her to her new school to show her around without all the hustle and bustle of class being in full swing. And of course while we were there we dorked around and had to take pictures of us dorking around. Because that's what crazies do!!  It's FUN and AWESOME and GREAT!

Inara looks so grown up in these shots, and I feel like I want to keep her just the way she is, for just a little bit longer.  The pictures reminded me so much of all those old shots that our parents must have taken of us when we were little, so I had some fun with processing them retro-style.  I feel like they turned out warm and sunny and sweet and idyllic..just like my sweet Inara.

My loveybear - may this year be one great big happy fun adventure for you.  I love you and will always be right here for you, however you need me to be.  

And I won't mind if you ask me to stay for five more minutes. I won't mind it at all.

And this me trying to show Inara how AWESOME! FUN! GREAT! School can be 
(and getting a hernia while trying):


Oh yes, SHE DID. And she nearly broke her back...

And then almost split her pants. 

This is how much I love you, friends. Enough for you to keep laughing at my sorry arse until I figure out this new blogging/schooling schedule.

I rock!  Or something. Thanks for hanging in there with me, friends.

Friday, August 27, 2010

There Is Nothing Left.

A baby, held by his mother, is crushed between villagers fighting for bags of flour during flood relief distribution on Friday near Muzaffargarh in Punjab, Pakistan. (Getty Images)

 I was going to do a lighthearted post today but I came across these photos, and now I feel like anything other than talking about this is going to seem petty and unimportant. 

Here are some of Pakistan's flood victims.  We simply have to help them:


(Images courtesy of the "50 Saddest Photos from Flood Ravage in Pakistan" -

Facts (from wikipedia):
- Over two thousand people are dead.
- Over 20 million people are suffering and homeless.
- One fifth of Pakistan's total land area is now underwater.
- Pakistani authorities have predicted that fresh rainfall is expected to trigger further waves of flooding.
- Aid agencies have warned that outbreaks of diseases such as cholera,  gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and skin due to lack of clean drinking water and sanitation are now posing a serious new risk to flood victims.
- The scale of this disaster is unprecedented, according to the United Nations.  The number of people suffering from the flooding exceeds the total of those affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

What You Can Do:
There are so many ways to donate.  Please check this list to find an agency that is participating in the relief efforts.  No amount is too small, and every single cent is appreciated.

Please think about the people of Pakistan.  Please put aside your religious and political views for the sake of the millions whose lives will be forever scarred by this nightmare.  These people are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and babies.  They have nothing.  Except us.  Please help them.
“There is nothing left. There is nothing to eat, no place to live, it’s just water, water. The people are helping each other. There isn’t any aid from the government; there isn’t any aid from anyone else. A few helicopters came; they gave us a few things to eat, but not enough for an entire household. They brought their cameras and took photos so they could show the world they are giving aid. But there is no aid. Everyone is just surviving on the clothes on their backs. There is nothing left here."

--Hassan, flood victim at an aid camp in Nowshera
(excerpt from an article in The Toronto Star)
Thank you for caring.  Thank you for helping.  Please share this post with anyone and everyone that you think can make a difference.  Please don't forget about the people of Pakistan.  Please donate now.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Nissa...

Dear Nissa,

I love you.  I really do.  But I am at a complete loss here, my little cherub.  In the past 3 days you have successfully managed to learn how to turn doorknobs, open the lid to the toilet, and suck on wet rags that have been dunked into said toilet.  It's making me gag a little bit into my mouth just typing out that last part.  And not only that, but you have also unrolled two rolls of toilet paper (completely), almost pulled the TV down on top of you (!!!!) and the worst was yesterday evening when I was locking up the bike trailer in the backyard and you RAN AWAY.  You ran down the driveway, around the corner and were headed down the sidewalk to god knows where.  I nearly died a thousand deaths looking for you, screaming your name, and envisioning the absolute worst.

I am thanking my lucky stars that a good samaritan pulled into our driveway and pointed out the direction you were running, as well as the fact that you weren't in the MIDDLE OF THE STREET, or that a car didn't pull out you know that I didn't sleep a WINK last night, sweet crazy insane child?!?!  I did cry a lot though.  A whole freaking lot - so much that Inara is now walking around the house going, "Mama?  Please don't start talking in THAT shaky voice again. Issie isn't lost anymore, so can you just stop crying now?".

And when I finally did catch up to you know what you did?  You looked over your shoulder, smiled and RAN FASTER.  AWAY FROM ME.  I may look like a sprinter to you, little one - but my Mummy Tummy begs to differ.  As do my Bingo Wings and my Chub Rub.  You can stop laughing at me now.

Ahem. Let's get back on track, shall we? 

You are now on my Watch List, little one.  It's not as if I wasn't keeping an eye on you before you decided to find new and interesting ways to flirt with death.  But we are now in official lock down mode, kiddo.  Every door, stairway, and cabinet is now locked, gated, barred and bolted.  Never mind that it takes me five minutes to clear a passageway just to walk from one room to another.  I will take the annoyance because I want you to STAY ALIVE.  Such a novel concept.

Oh and I see that you can now climb the radiators.  Lovely.

Why must you test me like this, child?!? I hate to make comparisons...but I'm going to anyway.  Are you SURE that you share genetic material with your older sister?  Because she was nowhere near as determined as you are to inflict fear and mayhem (not to mention your ongoing obsession with self-destruction).  Is it because you don't actually think you're a baby?  Is it because you have no fear?  Is this some kind of twisted karmic punishment for me not listening to my parents when I was younger?  Because I'M SORRY, OKAY?!?!?  I admit that I was wrong, Mom and Dad, and I fully regret my actions.  For what, I'm not entirely sure...but are you hearing me, Universe?  ENOUGH ALREADY.  I'm done.  I can't take take anymore of this and I'm blaming you if I have to check into a facility. 

Nissa, my love.  I am too old to be dealing with this. I can't sleep anymore because I keep thinking of all the ways in which you almost didn't make it to be laughing maniacally as you launch yourself headfirst off the radiator.  Deep breaths.  I need to take some deep breaths.  Ack.  Now my hands are shaking again. I think I'm getting dizzy.  Can 30-something year olds die of heart attacks?  Because I think I'm having one (again).  Honestly, I don' think my heart has stopped beating in overdrive since Sunday morning (When you tried to gain immunity to the diseases that live in toilet bowls.  Gag.  Me. With. A. Spoon. Now.)


Deeeeeep Breaths, Mahreen.  Deeeeeeeep Breeeeeaaaattths.  Excuse me while I channel my inner Deepak Chopra, friends.  Oh, but wait.  I don't have time for that because you have now managed to get your head stuck behind the easel, child that I love MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF, Nissa.

How did that even happen?!?  I'm literally 4 feet away from you!

If you see a crazy woman wandering the streets later today, babbling incoherently about her Mummy Tummy, The Universe, and an adorable baby that is driving her to look up how much it costs to install padding on every surface of her house, please don't judge her.  Just back away slowly and don't make eye contact.  Maybe buy her a latte and hand it to her wordlessly.  She may not be able to form coherent sentences, but she will be thanking you on the inside.

As for you, Nissa.  I dearly hope that this is just a phase. But somehow, I am getting the feeling that this is just who you are.  I only hope that when you win your first X-Games medal that you will thank me for keeping you alive long enough to enjoy that moment.  Because that's how much I love you, my lovely, fearless little girl.  More than the sun and the moon and the stars in the sky.  And more than my own sanity. 

Your Gibberish-Speaking and Chronically Twitching Mama
p.s. You might be wondering what Inara is up to during all this madness.  She is currently sitting on the couch reading about black holes.  Because that's what she does for fun.  We're gearing up for her first day of school in ONE WEEK, which is exciting and nerve-wracking and probably going to be the inspiration for a whole other post very soon.  Fun times, indeed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cycle Chic. Or Not.

A while back I mentioned in passing that my brand-new-to-me (used), owned-for-less-than-24-hours-old bike got stolen from our back porch.  I didn't write too much about it back then, but the truth is that it hurt, man.  It hurt a lot and I couldn't write about it without feeling very very sad.

There were the obvious feelings of violation because of the fact that someone came into our back yard - but the vain, materialistic part of me was really, really sad to lose my pretty bike.  You see, because even when you look at me - a not-as-fit-as-I'd-like-to-be, 30-something, cheerio-and-snot-encrusted mom-of-two - somewhere deep, deep inside I still feel like a hipster.  A very sleep-deprived and slightly schlumpy hipster...but a hipster nonetheless.  And even when I have dark circles under my eyes and haven't showered in more time than is socially acceptable - even then, my friends - I still want (and deserve) to feel pretty.

So I bought a bike.  A cute bike just for me.  It was cute and deep red and I didn't have to worry about it being child-friendly or compromise its style for function.  It was just MINE.  And it was pretty.  And then - THEN, less than 24 hours after I brought my bike home and stupidly (Stupidly, because who would be lame enough to think that their PERSONAL BELONGINGS would be SAFE in their BACKYARD?!?  Only a sad, trusting, shower-needing, stinky schlumpy non-hipster of a mama would think that.  Silly me.) left it outside overnight, it was stolen.  Stolen by some schmuck who probably didn't care that it made me feel happy and stylish, even in my sweatpants and baggy T-shirt.  I was so unbelivably sad about it, and yet whenever Yousuf suggested that we look around for another bike I refused because I just didn't want to go through that again.

I know that there are WAY more important things in the world than a bicycle, but we don't have that much spending money to start with, and I looked long and hard for an affordable bike that still made me feel...chic. And I felt so guilty about not locking it up that night and even more guilty for needing to impose all my whims and fancies on another bike search.  So I just said that it was okay, that I didn't need another bike, and that I'd be fine without one.

Well, I don't know if I've said it before - but I'm saying it now, officially for all the world to hear:  My Husband ROCKS.  On his birthday, his special day, he took all of us to this great big warehouse downtown.  Nothing much to look at from the outside, and honestly not in the very best part of town either.  The place is called R Community Bikes in Rochester and I can't even begin to tell you what an awesome treat it was to stop by there. 

How it works is that R Bikes accepts donations of used bikes and parts and gives them away, free of charge, to the most needy adults and children in the city.  To keep the place running, and to help cover their expenses, they refurbish and sell some of the better bikes that are donated there.  The entire process is run by volunteers, and you can buy some really beautiful bikes there - completely tuned and ready to ride - for amazing prices, with the knowledge that your money is going back into R Bikes for people in need.  Such a beautifully simple system, and one that makes you feel good from the inside out.  It's the very best kind of pretty, indeed.

So.  My superamazing husband found R Bikes and not only that, he found this gorgeous vintage Raleigh bicycle for me.  It was squirreled away upstairs in a back room, and my husband found it.  It's absolutely perfect, and I can't even begin to tell you how much it means to me to have it, and how it makes me feel so very retro-chic.  So far it's been living with us for a week and it's not stolen yet (I learned my lesson and bring it inside every night)!  We've all ridden together as a family every single day - to festivals, to the park, anywhere and everywhere our wheels take us.  It's been wonderful, and I feel like a kid again when I have the wind blowing in my hair and big ole' smile on my face.  I love it.

I can't wait to ride with Inara to school, to trick my bike out with a big wicker basket and chrome bell and oh, I am such a lucky, happy, almost-hip gal. 

Obligatory pictures:

This is me...trying to be very Cycle Chic:

Or not.
(But I still love my new bike!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eat Dirt.

Here's Nissa - her first time at the beach:

Look at me...being perfectly innocent and adorable.  For now.

Hmmm...what is this dirt-like substance beneath my bottom?

(For the record...I TOTALLY knew where this was going.  But I was powerless to stop it)

I wonder if this is stuff tastes any good?  What, Mama?  Why are you looking at me like that and flapping your arms around like some gigantic mutant bird? Oh, I know.  Perhaps it's because you want me to PUT IT IN MY MOUTH?!?!?!?  With pleasure. 


Well, Mama.  That was mineral-licious!  When can I do that again?

My kid is NUTS.  Andumalso?  I think it's genetic.

Yousuf, age 1. Eating dirt. Lovely.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's Cookin': Legacy Black Bean Casserole

This post is for a sweet friend who wrote to me about a Facebook post I did a couple of weeks ago.  Basically I did a picture play-by-play of the courses I was making for a dinner party later that same evening (I had no idea that it would be such a popular post - the best comment I got was that it was "like live food porn" - which made me laugh out loud and blush at the same time) .

Well, the main dish was called "Suzi's Legacy Black Bean Casserole".   The story is that a few years ago, back when we were living in Pennsylvania, my friend Suzi (who you may remember from this post) brought this AMAZING dish to a birthday party we were both invited to.  Now Suzi and I have a lot of things in common which form the basis of our friendship, but the single most important element has always been our abiding love of good eats.

So. When Suzi brought her Black Bean Casserole to the party I was drawn to it like a moth to a black bean-y and slightly spicy southwestern flame.  I couldn't get enough.  I just HAD to know how to make it, or else my life would not be complete and I would die an unhappy foodie.  We can't be having that now.  The details are fuzzy but I believe there was some amount of stalking involved.  And that's how the "Legacy" part got thrown in - I remember commenting to Suzi about how her casserole was SO delicious that the recipe simply had to have been passed down from generation to generation, with every generation adding and substituting ingredients until you had a dish of black bean PERFECTION. When Suzi finally did email me the recipe (which didn't take her long at just felt like a long time to me because I was ADDICTED to the stuff already.  A casserole junkie - that was me), she titled it:

Suzi's Legacy Black Bean Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2  teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
A little bit of red pepper flake (I use chili powder because that's what I have at home)
1 cup (approx) cheap-o salsa... the cheaper, the better!
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of lime juice (that's an approximation - I usually taste everything and add more if needed)
20-30 shakes of ground cumin (maybe about 1-2 tsp)
3 cans of black beans
About 2 cups of shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend or Colby-jack)

Chopped Jalapeño
A dash of Tabasco sauce and/or Liquid Smoke (if you like it spicy)
Chipotle sauce
Sour Cream

Heat your oven to 350° F

In a pan, sautée the onions, garlic, bell peppers, red pepper flake/chili powder and the jalapeños (if you are putting that in).  I don't normally use any oil to sautée - I just add a tiny bit of water when things start to stick.  But you could use a bit of oil too if that floats your boat. When those become soft, add the salsa, tomatoes, lime juice and cumin (this is where you'd add the chipotle sauce if you wanted to - I haven't found a vegetarian chipotle sauce, so I've never added it, and mine tastes great without it.  This is also where I add the tabasco sauce and/or liquid smoke if we're feeling like we want a bit of heat).  Let it all simmer for a little while, until it reduces a bit and isn't so watery.  Then add your beans to the pan and cook till it's all combined and heated, like so (sorry for all the bad pics, they're from the live Facebook posts I did a couple of weeks ago):

Get out a 9x12 (or whatever size those big glass rectangle pans are) and spray it with non-stick spray.  Put down a layer of beans then top with cheese and then tortillas (I cut my tortillas to fit all the way around the pan.  Because I'm anal.  You don't have to be like me). Repeat, and finish with beans.

At this point, Suzi suggests poking holes in the casserole with a butter knife because sometimes the tortillas get all puffy and it leaks out in to the oven.  I usually do what she tells me to do because I don't want to mess with the Legacy mojo.  So far I've not have any poofyness or leakyness!

Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 min.  Pull it out, top with the rest of the cheese, and let it sit about 5 minutes to firm up.

Suzi also suggests cutting up an avocado, some cilantro and getting out the sour cream to top the casserole on the plate.  Believe me, it tastes SO FREAKING GOOD.

So really, you can make it super simple, or add some extra touches too.  For those that are avoiding dairy, you could omit the cheese altogether and add more beans or veggies.  We've done it that way and it tastes really good and filling.  If you want to make it healthier you could add spinach into the veggie mix - that also tastes very very awesome.  I also use tortillas with flax in them, which makes me feel like I'm offsetting the cheese and sour cream-induced oblivion that inevitably follows when I gorge on this dish.  Lastly, this makes a TON of food, so it's great for freezing, for leftovers, for birthday parties where people will stalk you for the recipe, and for dinner parties that involve lots of food porn.

And for Tiph, who requested the recipe - I hope you love this as much as we do. Let it never be said that I denied a gorgeous pregnant mama her cravings!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Because You Asked Me About Ramadan...

Childhoods are funny things.  Even when we don't realize it's happening - and even if we can't look back and say that it was all roses - there are certain memories, etched on a soul with sunlight and laughter, that are ours alone to smile about all those years later.  For me, Ramadan is one of those times.

Sure, fasting is and was hard.  But for me, it's something else too.

A memory:
February, 1994.  Early, before sunrise.  I am 16. Waking up to silence and darkness, whispering in hushed tones to my father, my brother.  "As-Salaam Alaikum".  Peace and good morning.  "When can I go back to bed, Dad?"  "Not yet, love.  You need to eat first.  Don't forget to pick up the roti on your way down."
Walking down the stairs, not trying to be quiet anymore, because anyone who is still sleeping shouldn't be.  But of course I know that my grandparents won't wake this morning.  After a lifetime of sacrifice, now it's their time to rest.  Our time to carry the torch.  Literally.  
I can hear the TV on in the basement - softly - replaying the Opening Ceremonies of the Lillehammer Olympics.  In the future they will say that it was the most watched Olympics in history.  And I will always think of these mornings, where Muslims all over the world were tuning in to watch Olympic coverage over tea and fruits and eggs and the melody of the Quran over the radio. 
Passing the darkened kitchen, catching my breath on the cold tile as I stop to pick up a stack of flatbread that my mom made for us the night before.  They're not there....Dad must have known that I was in no mood to get them.
Entering the bright lights in the basement, into the second family room.  Three bedraggled boys are crowded around the television set.  "As-Salaam Alaikum!  We won another medal!  Jean-Luc Brassard is the SHIZZ. I gotta go lay out the prayer rugs.  Wanna help?"  Me, rolling my eyes.  How can three little people have so much energy so early in the morning?  Hair tousling, helping to get our jobs done so that my aunt doesn't have to give us The Look later on.  
My aunt.  Standing over the stove.  She gives me a sidelong glance as I enter the kitchen.  No time for kisses. But I know she loves me anyway.  Smells: cooking onions, eggs.  Omelettes and roti for our breakfast.  Much better than the cereal and leftovers we used to have when my dad was in charge of the kitchen.  This will keep me full.  For a while. 
We all slowly trickle in, lured from our cozy beds and hidey-holes by the enticing aromas emanating from the kitchen.  Sitting around the tiny table, two families together.  Passing the bread, the eggs.  Making sure everyone has enough to satiate their hunger for the day ahead.  Don't forget to drink.  Tender words.  Gentle kisses to the children who are choosing to take part with us, even if they can't fast all day.  Somehow I think they're waking up more for the Olympics than for the food.  That's okay.  Their enthusiasm brings cheer to my sleepy mood.  There is love here.  There is warmth.
My uncle and my father.  Brothers. Chatting about politics.  About cricket.  About some memory of the past - of their childhood.  My aunt blushes and laughs.  The three of them were friends even before they came to Canada, before children and mortgages and nine to five jobs.  They probably sat around a table like this during Ramadan with their families so many years ago. My uncle is finished his eggs now, and he leans back. Reaches over my aunt and grabs his cigarettes.  He sighs.  This will be his first and last of the day.  He is resigned to his fate...but we're all in the same boat today.  We're all giving something up.  Together.  When it gets too much to bear later on, someone will be there to empathize.  A hug or kind smile.  I know how you feel.  
This is always my favorite part.  My uncle gets all reflective with that first and last cigarette.  His deep baritone voice is a soothing melody.  He is a natural storyteller.  "Tell us about the djinns again.  Are they good guys or bad guys?  Do they fast?"  He chuckles.  Launches into a story that is part adventure, part fantasy, part horror, part religious instruction.  The pictures are alive in my mind and go flitting across the landscape of my imagination.  This will be a good day.

I will always have this.  This moment.  This memory will leave an indelible mark on me in the years to come.  When I leave home and go off to university.  When I get married and move to another country and start my own family.  The start of every Ramadan will feel like this.  The memory of faces around a table in the early morning pre-dawn, the stories told, the love shared. Forever and a day, I will strive to recreate this for my family.  In a world gone crazy, amidst the suspicion and hate, my Ramadan will mean more.  My fast will reach out and touch people.  My religion will be love.  My actions will be peace.

There is only one path to Heaven. On Earth, we call it Love.

This is my Ramadan.  This is me.

 My beautiful girl at the start of another Ramadan.  Her smile gives me hope.  Her love for the world hints at the promise of a thousand bright tomorrows.  Peace and blessings from our family to yours.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Add Water

It's hot here.  Like really, really hot.  And because we don't have central air conditioning (we have radiators..which is all fine and dandy in the winter, but they do squat for me in ninety degree heat), just waking up and blinking the sweat out of my eyes is a special kind of torture.  Granted, we do have window units in ours' and the girls' bedrooms, but I find that just makes the problem worse, because then you have what feels like an ice-box tundra and then you go shivering from that to the flipping Sahara desert.  It makes you think twice about those midnight bathroom trips, that's for sure.

Anyway, due to the heat it seems like even everyday tasks get harder.  Take baths, for example. In this weather, being in a steamy bathroom soaping down two little squirmy people, only to get them out and dry and then go into...the steamy rest of the house is a thought I do not relish AT ALL.  I'd rather they just stay dirty.  Or I'd rather someone else deal with the problem (which is generally my M.O. for most distateful parenting tasks. Because I'm lazy, okay?).

Enter Yousuf - Solver Of Problems, Savior Of My Sanity, Man Who Is Impervious to Bad Moods and Heat-Sensitive Tantrums.

I was grumbling about how he made me move into a house with no central air and how because of that our kids were now the filthiest little grubs on the street.  Or the city.  Or probably the WHOLE WORLD.  And he, as usual, just laughed at me as he opened the back door and ushered the girls outside after him.  To which I replied with even more grumbling because I knew they were just going to get even MORE dirty and people would probably mistake them for walking piles of grass and dried food bits and then give me bad looks and say that I didn't take care of them but THEY DON'T LIVE IN MY HOUSE with no air conditioning and if they did they'd realize that a bath is the absolute LAST thing I want to be dealing with.

So I went outside to tell Yousuf all this, and lo and behold this is what I saw:

Oh. My. LORDY.  That's how we do it 'round here, y'all.  In the CITY.

But you know what?  The girls loved every second of it.  So who was I to complain? 

And bless my hubby's heart, he solved my bathing problem and everyone got nice and cool and un-cranky at the same time:

"Don't spray me, Inara!  Don't spray me!  Okay, maybe just a little...ahhhh....that feels GREAT.  Who needs air conditioning when we have a hose, y'all!"

Seeing them have that much fun, it was pretty hard to stay cranky.  I mean, who could resist this face?

"ooooh, Mama!  This feels so GOOD!  Look at my big tummy and cute little baby thighs!  Don't you just wanna get wet with me?  Couldn't you just eat me right UP?  C'mon c'mon c' know you wanna!"

And that's how Mama gets out of her heat-induced doldrums and lightens up a bit.  All it took was a little water, an ingenious husband and some stinkin' cute babies.  

It's a good thing that our neighbors don't think we're nuts AT ALL.

Friday, August 6, 2010


We had a such a busy week. From political ranting to last-minute traveling and brand-new baby oogling, I barely had time to catch my breath!  I promised you pictures of my new baby nephew, and here they are.  We got back from our two-day visit on Wednesday night and I am still smiling like a goofball.  Because Ameer is all that and can of beans, and his Mama and Daddy are doing such a fabulous job already!  I'd like to think it's because they took detailed notes when my kids were itty bitty babies (I'm such a modest older sister), but somehow I think they just knew what they were doing right from the start.  Nadia is gentle, loving and so patient - and Mansoor is just the most tenderhearted Daddy ever.  It's such a gift to watch a brand new love blossoming right before your very eyes, and I cherished every moment of our very brief time with this brand new family.  I can't wait to go back.

I'll stop now and get on with the show - presenting Ameer:

This is what he looked like, fast asleep, the very first moment I laid eyes on him...

I just love tiny baby hands - curled up just so:

And we can't forget those wee feet.  I'm also obsessed with those (okay, fine.  I'm just obsessed with the whole package deal):

It was hard to get a good shot of my brother with his little man, because he spent most of the time doing this:

(This shot was taken right before he went to work - hence the business attire.  And he wasn't worried about getting puked on, either.  Such a great Dad!)

And here is new mama Nadia.  Have you ever seen anything more lovely than this pair?

I didn't even have to do anything major to this picture.  They just look this...glowy. 

Baby Boy already has a big personality.  Check out the pursed lips:

Already posing for the cameras...or trying to make a poopie. 

And that, my friends, concludes your daily dose of unbearable cuteness - courtesy of the Brand New Mustafa Family.  Have a great weekend...I'll see you on the flip side.

Mansoor, Nadia and Baby Ameer.  They may be living in America, but we're not going to let them forget their Canadian roots (blankie courtesy of Grandma Mustafa, aka Ammi).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

I realize that I used the word "baby" twice this past week.  But I had no idea that I'd be talking about a Real Live baby this time.  And I am!!!  My brother and sister in-law had their baby boy and we are getting up at the bumcrack of dawn today to hit the road so that we can go and see him.  I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am to be on my way....just thinking about little Ameer is making me smile like an idiot.  I was so happy all day long that instead of packing us up, I did what any rational new auntie would do:

I baked boatloads of goodies.  I have no idea why.  It's not like Ameer can eat any of that stuff...but I just wanted to do...something.

I guess I figured that normally when you have a new baby people bring by dinners, but nobody ever thinks about those snackish moments that you have at three in the morning after a feeding.  And there is nothing better to fill that craving than Coconut Kiwi Muffins, Cupcakes, Cinnamon Bread and Brownies.  Am I right?

Anyway, I'm going to be gone for a couple of days - but when I return I'm hoping to have lots of squishy baby pictures to share with you.  I'm so happy to be meeting my baby nephew!!
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