Monday, November 29, 2010

Get Your (Harry Potter) Geek On!

I don't think it's any secret that I loves me some Harry Potter. I have no idea how or when it happened, but somewhere between finding the man of my dreams and becoming the world's luckiest mother, I fell in love with an imaginary boy sporting broken glasses and a lightning-shaped scar. It just happened. I couldn't help myself. Deal with it.

So, when the latest movie in the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise came out last week, I was dyyyyyyiiiiinnnnggg to see it. In days of yore, I would have been the one standing in the midnight-showing line on premiere night. But I forgot to read the fine print when I joined the World's Luckiest Mother Club, which clearly states that a prerequisite for joining said club includes giving up daily showers, uninterrupted nights of sleeping, and most importantly, attending midnight premiers of movies. Lucky me.

Yousuf's sister was visiting us last week and we had hoped that she would be able to watch the girls while Yousuf and I snuck out for our first date in over half a decade. But The Lucky Mom's Club had other plans. While the rest of HP fandom got to see The Deathly Hallows on opening night (or day, or even week) - I had to content myself with catching snippets of reviews from friends while being drowned in a deluge of puke.

By the time Becky left this past weekend the girls were feeling fine and our chances at a movie date were obliviated. I was understandably crushed, until Yousuf suggested that I treat myself to a matinee showing while he stayed home with the girls. All of a sudden, I was printing out my ticket and feeling happier than a Patronus-induced buzz.

Who takes pictures of themselves holding Harry Potter tickets? GEEKS, that's who. 

Yousuf agreed that his mild interest in the movie could not compare to my extreme passion and so, wise man that he is, he agreed that it would be in the best interest of the whole family if I just got the whole Deathly Hallows thing over with. I couldn't have agreed with him more, and as I printed out my IMAX ticket (I splurged because if I was going on a solo date I was going to go high class, baby), I thought about my two and a half hours of freedom and smiled. This, I thought to myself, was going to be fabulous. 

Of course the only problem with going to see a movie on your own, especially one that warrants a great attention to detail and discussion, is the fact that you don't actually have anyone to talk with before, during (Okay, talking during a Harry Potter movie is a strict no-no. But you can poke!) or after. It was definitely a problem for me - one that I'm sure the lovely ladies sitting next to me appreciated when I tried to engage them with my wit and charm. I'm sure they saw a crazed almost middle-aged mom type gushing about magic and that's precisely the point at which they moved over a couple of seats. Boo.

Lucky for me however, I didn't need strangers-who-could-have-turned-out-to-be-my-best-friends to have fun. I had my very expensive IMAX ticket and my very expensive movie snacks and I had already peed (twice!) and I was going to have FUN, darnit. So I broke out my trusty Molekine notebook as the lights dimmed and basically had a conversation with my own self throughout the movie. I'm sure nobody thought that was weird at all.

When I came home after those two and a half hours of cinematic history, I just knew I had to share my notes with all of you. Mostly because they make absolutely no sense and sound like the ramblings of an insane fanperson, which I'm sure you will all enjoy.  So here are my notes on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Oh, and be warned...here be spoilers! But if you've already read the books you know what happens. If you don't want to be spoiled, or if you could care less about Harry Potter, you should have either stopped reading by now or stop here and come back another day. It will be much more entertaining, I promise.

- 10 minutes into the movie - Nobody's talking! Is this movie all in mime? Oh, I get it. They're sad.
- Hermione just Obliviated herself. That would really suck.
- I forgot how depressing this was! Even the Dursley's leaving Privet Drive is sad. Harry standing in the empty house, seeing his old room under the stairs - all the expressions on everyone's faces...gosh.
- You can tell right off the bat that they worked really hard to flesh out the book. Gushgushgush I'm a geek.
- Love all the Potters. Well done, don't you think? Who am I talking to? It's like the Seven Potters IN MY HEAD RIGHT NOW.
- 20 minutes into the movie and I'm already crying...Hedwig! Oh sweet white-winged Hedwig!! And Mad Eye too.
- "What were the last words Dumbledore said to us?" "Harry is our best hope, trust him". Sniff sniff sniff. And Waaaaaaaaah!!!
- George with the"I'm feeling saintly" bit is so sweet/funny. I love the twins. They should have their own spin off. The Adventures Of George and Fre...oh wait.
- Crap. This is hard to watch knowing which people are going to die.
- I really like IMAX. Going to have to do this more often.
- Everyone is acting so well. Hermione especially. Ron too WHOA I JUST SAW GINNY'S BACK.
- Scandalous!
- George with the thinger in his ear as Harry and Ginny are snogging is hilarous! His expressions were spot on. Way to go Phelps twin number 1! Or number 2. Or whoever you are.
- Bill Nighy! Billy Mack (from Love Actually. Duh.) So good as Scrimgeour - even down to his weird way of talking. God I hope that's not the way he really talks. Great, now I just offended Bill Nighy. 
- Clearly witches and wizards prefer Celtic music at their weddings. Who knew?
- I saw the Deathly Hallows! I saw the Deathly Hallows! Neenerneenerneener!
- This is non-stop action! And it's dark AND funny. So well done.
- IMAX seats are REALLY comfy. Money well spent.
- HELLO NEVILLE (on the Hogwarts train). My eyes see this but my brain sees that!!!!! It's too bad he has such an unfortunate last name.
- I'm laughing my Longbottom off! I'm going to kick your Longbottom!
- I kill me.
- Dobby at Grimmauld Place. Maybe he won't die in the movie?
- I'm scared of Imelda Staunton. She channels Umbridge a bit too well for my liking.
- Dementors!!! Aaaaaah!
- Ministry of Magic scene - so tense! So funny! So great! Loved Ron kissing Mrs. Cattermole as Hermione watched and then the REAL Cattermole caught them. Love how the comedy is so well done in this movie, in spite of all the heavy stuff.
- The best line in the movie was in reply to: "It's Harry Potter, isn't it?" Ron replied as Cattermole: "This'll be something to tell the kids!" hahahahahaha
- Ron got splinched. Ouch.
- Hermione holding up her bloody hands doing the protection spells...oooooh, dramatic. Good acting! I loves Emma. 
- I really want Hermione's bag. Can you imagine how great that would be as a diaper bag?
- I also want an IMAX chair in my living room.
- Oh, Carrie (apparently my Rupert Grint-obsessed friend Carrie also lives in my head from time to time. What a freaky place my brain is)...Ron looks like a ZOMBIE with the locket on. Sexy!
- Freaky Ron! Freaky Ron! He shoved Hermione! Zombie Boy!
- Did Harry and Hermione dance in the book? It's cute...but I also feel like she's cheating on Won-Won. I'm torn. Maybe dancing with the boy your boyfriend has accused you of liking more than him isn't such a good idea, hmmmmmmmm? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
- Dude. Hermione is wearing ARMWARMERS!!!!!!!!!!
- Godric's Hollow: How come Harry didn't know if his parents were buried there? Shouldn't I know this? Some fan I turned out to be. I think the IMAX seats are turning my brain into mush.
- He found his mommy and daddy. :(
- And it's Christmas. Wait. Aren't Brits supposed to say HAPPY Christmas instead of MERRY? Loss of authenticity points for the research team!!
- Ruh-roh...someone is watching. Don't go to Bathilda, Harry! DON'T!!!
- Ewww. She needs a flea collar.
- I'm going to plug my ears because I know the next part is going to be scary. People are looking at me plugging one ear and writing. Just you wait, people. At least I'm prepared.
- BOOM! I win. You should have stayed nice to me and you wouldn't have knocked over your popcorn, lady. Now who looks like the weirdo? Oh wait. I'm still plugging one ear. You win.
- Back at the tent. Harry goes for a walk. Sees Patronus. He's going to get undressed and we get to see him in his skivvies, and all the pre-teens will scream for joy. I should probably plug my ears again.
- How come nobody's screaming? Serious crowd. I guess pre-teens don't buy IMAX tickets. Oh how I love thee, expensive movie theater with excellent sightlines and stadium seating.
- Harry in his skivvies is THIRTY TWO FEET TALL in IMAX. That's a whole lotta Harry. Wish it were Neville. Or Emma. I'm quite digging Hermione in this movie. I want her armwarmers.
- Dude. Harry wore his glasses underwater?!? That's rather inconvenient.
- Ron!!!  Saves the day!!!! Aren't they cold? The mommy in me wants to give them blankets.
- Horcrux time!!! THIS IS FREAKY SHIT. HARRY AND HERMIONE ARE NEKKID APPARITIONS.
- YOWZA. (I believe this is referring to the part where Harry and Hermione start making out. But it's impossible to tell. It could have been that I saw something shiny.)
- Nekkid making-out apparitions have flawless skin. Jealous.
- Best line in the movie (I know I already said that. Ignore the last one.) after the Horcrux was destroyed: "Just think...only three to go!" Ron FTW!
- Whose Patronus was the deer? Snape? Oooooh, I'm good. But they left out the part about Nigellus telling Dumbledore about their location. MAJOR OVERSIGHT, SCRIPTWRITER PEOPLE. The fans demand accuracy! I will take my apology in the form of some flawless-skin apparition goo.
- I can draw in the dark! (I drew the Deathly Hallows symbol here...or something that is supposed to look like it.):


- Love Ron/Rupert, he is so funny. Excellent acting! You get a gold star!
- Luna's House: love the Three Brothers animation. I thought it would be lame-o, but they did it very well.
- The Deathly Hallows are three objects. Together they make one the master of death. I don't know why I wrote that. Possibly for the pop-quiz later. Nerd.
- They took Luna! Wait. I already knew that.
- Snatchers!!! Dude. The head Snatcher is HAWT.
- Oh yes he is. Um hmmmmmmmmm.
- Too much crazy, Bellatrix! I think Helena Bonham Carter overdid her. She not so scary as she is...clowny? Is she BITING Hermione?!??! Nope, just cutting her. Phew.
- No, Dobby, no!!!
- Dobby dying. I cried for him in the book, and now I'm crying for a CG character. I love him that much.
- Voldie got the Elder Wand. Too bad the joke's on you buddy. Nice nose, by the way. 
- What? It's over? That was fast! I didn't want it to end!!

Overall Impressions (written while the credits were rolling...I was dedicated, peeps!):

Watching the movie, you remember that by Book 7 you're not reading a children's story any more. The movie definitely reflected that. This is a lot of credits! You can tell these movies are a HUGE undertaking. Seven movies (eight really), and each one is bigger/better/darker than the last .The whole franchise has come such a long way, as have the actors. I'm in love with Emma Watson - she did SO good. They really did right by the book with this film. I can not WAIT for part 2!

And there you have it. I have officially outed myself as a HP-lovin' geek of the highest magnitude. But it's not just me, you know. There are others like us. We're EVERYWHERE. And some of us even believe this stuff is REAL:
Ah, the old "broom burn" bit. It never gets old.

So spill! Did you enjoy the latest Harry Potter movie? What were your thoughts? Don't repress your inner HP Geek - let it all hang out, friends. Join me and get your geek on!

A glimpse into the mind (and notebook) of a raving lunatic. Don't say you weren't warned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's Cookin': Pumpkin Crumb Cake With Walnut Streusel

I haven't done a What's Cookin' post in FOREVER! I can't believe I let it go for this long...bad blog hostess! However, I'm going to more than make it up to you with today's post, just you wait and see!

This is one of our favorite autumn recipes, and one that my entire family can't get enough of (what's not to love - cake, pumpkin, streusel...it's a win-win-win all around!). What I love about this cake is that it's virtually foolproof - you can add ingredients (as in, baking SODA instead of powder because you are being distracted by tiny "helpers"), leave ingredients out (I don't love the cloves and go easy on the sugar), or even make your own substitutions (I substitute blackstrap molasses and also use walnuts instead of pecans). Believe me, you CAN NOT MESS THIS UP. It tastes so unbelievably good no matter what you do (or don't do) to it. 

Other things to note - this recipe is egg and dairy free, which gives it a dense texture that I find absolutely delectable. It's also heavily spiced (but not spicy, just nice and flavorful), and is the perfect recipe for fall when pumpkins are in season. My kids like their cake topped with a tiny bit of whipped cream, but it's just as delicious plain (My favorite is to serve it at breakfast, slightly warmed with a big mug of tea...it's so warm and filling and satisfying!).

If you are looking for a last-minute Thanksgiving recipe to make, take, or share - this is the one to try this year. Your guests will thank you for making it! I have made this cake for dinner guests many, many times, and I have yet to come across a person that hasn't absolutely loved it. Even my staunch pumpkin-avoiding friends have told me that this is right up there with the best cakes they have ever had. It's that good!

The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and has been adapted ever so slightly to our family's tastes. Feel free to make your own substitutions (Gluten-Free friends I would love to hear how you adapt this!), and don't be afraid to experiment. I promise it will taste absolutely delicious.

Here we go...I hope you love it!


Pumpkin Crumb Cake With Walnut Streusel
(adapted from the cookbook Veganomicon)

Ingredients:

For the Streusel:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat flour)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (granulated sugar works too)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (the original recipe calls for pecans - but we always have walnuts on hand. I'm sure it tastes just as good either way)

For the Cake:
1 (15-ounce) can of pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup soy milk (feel free to substitute if you want)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
3 Tablespoons light molasses (I usually do 1 1/2 Tablespoons of blackstrap molasses and I add either agave nectar or a little more sugar to make it "lighter".)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (again, here I use whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon baking POWDER (Not soda! Although if you do add Baking Soda, it's not a terrible mistake)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I use more. Because I love cinnamon, and because I omit the cloves)
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Lightly grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan.

Prepare the streusel:
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and spices. Drizzle in the canola oil and mix with your fingertips until crumbs form. Add the chopped nuts and mix.

Prepare the cake:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, soy milk, oil, granulated sugar, molasses and vanilla (a great tip for molasses is to spray a spoon with cooking spray before pouring in the molasses - you will avoid sticky spoons and get an accurate measurement every time!). Mix well. 

Add roughly half the flour, and all of the baking powder, salt, and spices. Mix, using a fork to fold everything together. 

Add the remaining flour and mix gently until combined. Don't use a hand blender for this, as pumpkin can get gummy if it's mixed too aggressively - blending with a fork helps maintain the texture.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it out with a spatula. Scatter the streusel on top as evenly as possible. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, let cool, and cut into squares. 


Serve slightly warmed (the microwave is your friend), with optional toppings such as whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or serve plain and enjoy the flavors all on their own.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday. I'll see you next week!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Updates.

There have been lots of things going on here in VeniVidiLand, and I thought I would catch everyone up because I've been getting a lot of questions about them.

Update 1: Shireen and Baby Isra

A little while back I wrote a post entitled For Isra.  Isra was the beloved daughter of my high school friend, Shireen. Isra tragically passed away earlier this month, and the news saddened me so much to hear. She was such a tiny, sweet baby and I still can't quite imagine what it must be like for Shireen to endure that kind of loss. It breaks my heart. At the end of writing that post, I was flooded with comments and emails from so many wonderful, caring people and I wanted to update everyone who asked about Shireen, kept her family close to their hearts, and asked if there was anything they could do.

Shireen saw the post I wrote and took the time out of her grief and mourning to comment. She seems so gracious and composed, in spite of everything she has been through...here is what she wrote:
You are a beautiful friend Mahreen and I certainly feel your love and support. How can I even begin to express how I felt after reading this? Please know that I was touched deeply by your words and you are forever now in my thoughts and prayers. Yes, I am aching....but knowing my friends are there for me is helping me get through each hour...each minute of the day. Friend, please know that your words....even though coming from so far.....are helping me.


Shireen (Isra's mom)
I was so moved to hear those words from Shireen. She truly is such an amazing spirit. In the weeks following Isra's passing, she celebrated  her son's second birthday and was surrounded by her family and friends for Eid. I don't know how difficult each of those events, or even each passing day has been for her, I just know that she has always corresponded with me wish such love and grace and serenity...I am in awe of her, even as my heart aches for everything she has endured.

Shireen and her husband Ashfaq have been so grateful for all the kind words of support from everyone. In response to being asked how people could honor Isra's memory, they have asked that donations be made in her name to the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto. The hospital is one of the most well-respected in the world, and was the only home Isra ever knew. The staff, nurses and doctors at Sick Kids did everything they could to make Isra's time here comfortable and they were so supportive of Shireen and her family. If you have a moment, please take the time to check Isra's page at Sick Kids and make even a tiny donation  in her name. I know it will mean so much to Shireen, and thank you on her, and Isra's behalf. 

Update 2: Inara's Rainbow Pre-order

I have a wonderful update to share with you about Inara's Rainbow, the baby wrap that will be named after my sweet girlie and will be made by Girasol through the web store Piece of Cloth. Giselle (the owner/mad genius behind POC) sent me a message the other day and in it she said that Inara's Rainbow will be available for pre-order VERY soon. Specifically, it will be available ONLY through the Piece of Cloth website on the Monday following Thanksgiving (Cyber Monday) - that's Monday, November 29th!!  That's SOON!!!

So mark your calendars, get your clicky fingers and credit cards ready, and let's do this thang! It's going to be a beautiful wrap and I can't wait for all of you to see Inara's Rainbow and to be able to snuggle your babies in it. Thanks again (times a million bajillion) to Giselle at Piece Of Cloth. You have made my life complete!

I also have the inside scoop on a couple of Inara's Rainbow-related items that might be in development soon. I'm so lucky to know such talented and amazing people, and I can't wait to share more about these very special products as soon as more information becomes available. Stay tuned for details...

And that's it! Have a great day, friends - and as always, thank you SO much for sharing this amazing journey with me. I couldn't ask for a better readership! I love you guys. For serious.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Eidfest 2010 - Part II

In the past 48 hours, I have been puked on more times than should be legally allowed. Both the girls have some mysterious tummy bug that makes them follow me around, moaning - until the precise moment that I pick them up. At that instant, the tummy bug is programmed to make them spew. All over ME. Not on their father, not on furniture or all over their clothing...nope. Just. On. Me. It's exhausting and gross and very stinky. I hope it's over soon.

As a result, this post is not going to be the big Eid share-along that I had planned. Instead, I'm putting up the pictures that didn't make it into Friday's post with captions that hopefully make some sense. But they probably won't because all I can think about right now is how to avoid being the target of copious amounts of kiddie upchuck.

Here are the rest of our Eid pictures - we really did have a wonderful, puke-free few days. I will always remember them fondly for having...

....the best free entertainment around:


 Thank you. Thankyouverymuch! 
(Note Ameer's stunned expression.)

We're now booking for next Eid's festivities. Don't delay, call today!

Later in the day my sister in-law, Nadia, got to put her six years of Pharmacy School education to good use...

...to make what was possibly the world's weirdest (and most inaccurately  named) Eid present:

(it totally wasn't.)

 Inara looked fairly disgusted throughout the entire process

Yum! Don't these look DELICOUS?!?

Of course the very best part about all that delectable cookie-making was that I didn't have to be a part of it. Instead, I got to oogle babies...oogleoogleoogle:

Could you not just melt into those gorgeous big brown eyes? I did. Le sigh.

Look at these handsome Mustafa men!
That's my Dad on the right. Clearly. I hope.

And of course one baby always attracts another baby (they're like magnets around here), so when my brother was palling around with Ameer, Nissa had to get in on the act too:


Poor Ameer had girls fighting over him all day...it's so tough to be so adorable. Remember this?


Well, my little girlie would never want anyone to feel left out, so she was generous with her love (and slobber)...

This is pretty much why I stay behind the camera. The hair! The dark circles! The HAIR. But the baby sure is cute, isn't he? And I got to wear him!!! Le double sigh.

 
Of course it wasn't all fun and games. When Inara and Nadia prayed together, I reminded my eldest to be respectful and to think about being filled with peace inside. Because she is lovely and sweet she followed my directions to a tee....until she had to break her concentration. But it was for a good reason. 

  She had to kiss her sister. Le third sigh.

After prayer, Nadia asked Inara if she wanted to say anything:


Inara thought about it for a bit...


And then said, "Dear Allah. I wish people everywhere could celebrate Eid with us and have lots of great presents. Thank you."

Me too, sweet girl. How I wish for that too.

And when Nissa was asked if there was something that she wanted, she had one very simple request:

 More kisses, of course. 

I was laughing so hard I nearly dropped the camera. 

Thanks for sharing our Eid with us, friends! I hope you enjoyed this peek into our celebration. 

And now, I shall take leave of you to go and dodge some puke. Loverly!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eidfest 2010 - Part I

Hey! I'm back! Did you miss me? Didja didja didja?

Do you want to know what excuse I had for being away for so long? Of course you do.

My official excuse was that it was Eid, so I got to take two days off from this here bloggy thang to celebrate with the family. But that third day - yesterday - well, I needed that for recovery purposes. Celebratin' is hard work, y'all!!! Especially if you are easily overwrought (read: anal) like me.

Anyway.  Do you want to see what Eid is like at our house? Of course you do.

Here goes!

First and foremost and most importantly, I got a brand spankin' new apron with which to spread Eid cheer amongst the masses. I might have been more than a little obsessed with it, as is evidenced by this photo:

(See that look in my eye? It's called Crazy Hostess Syndrome. Approach with caution.) 

But you know what? I think the apron really does have magical hostess powers, because look at all the amazing food I was able to make while wearing it:

Chocolate Cake - Icing and sprinkles courtesy of Inara

Moose Track Pie (almost as good as my friend Suzi's)

Sheer Korma - a traditional South Asian dessert served on Eid and made with 
milk, dates, vermicelli and TONS of sugar. Delish!

Eggplants in North-South Sauce 
(I found the recipe here and couldn't wait to try it - it was a huge success!)

I also made a batch of my Channa Masala, and then my mom took over the meat portions of our meal. In the end this was our spread:


And that's not including the desserts, appetizers and snacks. I'm still full just thinking about it!

But enough about the food (even though I could go on about food all day - you know me!), there is so much more yet to share!

We always love having visitors for Eid, and this year my brother, his wife and my little baby nephew made the trek to come and stay with us as well. It was Baby Ameer's first Eid with our family and we were all looking forward to spending time with him. The last time I saw him he was just days old, so I was very eager to get my hands all over his cute baby self.  Now I might be a little biased, but I really don't think there is a cuter baby boy to be found than my little prince. The kid is a lady charmer for sure! And he was so expressive for a three month old - just lookie:

ooooh...psychedelic apron, Auntie Mahreen!

I could have just eaten him right up. And I think I might just be his most favorite aunt ever in the history of the universe, because Ameer felt very comfortable with me:

Auntie Em - I love you. In fact, I love you so much that I shall now pinch a dooce on your lap. 

Just call me the poopie whisperer. 

Here is us early (too early, as you can tell by my black eyes. There wasn't enough concealer in the world to cover up that much tired) on Eid morning. Basically we were all woken up by children bouncing around, and then we all came down and all the kids climbed all over me. And I loved it.


After that, the kids opened up a few presents. Not all families do presents, but in our family it's become something of a tradition to give the kids gifts. It's usually customary to give out envelopes of money (which my mom still gives to all her grown-up kids), but we thought it would be neat for the kids to open up some small gifts (super fun!) instead of saving up for their education fund (booo-ring!).


I also want my girls to get used to giving - we set aside some of our own toys to donate, which I felt made more of an impact on them than putting money in a jar, and the girls also had great fun picking out presents for Baby Ameer:
 (Introducing Ameer to the joys of Sandra Boynton!)

This set cracks me up:
 How curious...

 ...this shirt doesn't seem to fit quite right...

...oh, I see. It's for my kid. Sniffle.

The kids couldn't wait to start enjoying their gifts...

 We love our little bookworms!

Thank goodness for Color Wonder!

I feel like my family is especially blessed because Yousuf's family celebrates Christmas, so my girls get two really big holidays where they get showered with love by their relatives. Every year, Yousuf and I try to show our girls that both sides of the family and their traditions are equally valued, and I think that our hard work is paying off. Inara and Nissa get just as excited about Eid as they do about Christmas, and as they get older I would love for them to foster the feeling of excitement that comes from kindness and giving- especially when they encounter people of different faiths.

For us, nurturing that sense of open-heartedness starts here at home, with our family. Which is really what Eid is all about for me.


Oh, and for the record - I did end up putting on some concealer after all.  Eid Mubarak from The Georges!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Talk (sort of).

Tomorrow is Eid-ul-Adha, a very big deal for Muslim folks around the world. I am currently running around cleaning and cooking and last-minute present shopping as my parents and brother (with his family) make their way to our house. I'm sure I'll have plenty of tales to regale you with after Eid is over - but for now, here is an unrelated - but equally memorable - story that took place last night. From our family to yours, Eid Mubarak, friends! 

Last night, Inara and I were lying down together in her bed. We usually read a few bedtime stories and then turn out the lights and talk about our day. I love whispering in the quiet stillness with Inara - sometimes I feel like it's the only time of the day that we really get to connect, and hearing what is on her mind is always a revelation. It was last night as well, when she was lying curled up beside me and said into the darkness:

"Mama, do babies come from Mama's tummies?"

Uh-oh, I thought. It's far too late in the day to be having this conversation. So I decided to keep it short.

"Yes...babies do start out inside a tummy, Inara."

"Well, am I going to have a baby in my tummy when I get older?"

"If you want to, you can have a baby in your tummy..."

"Oh, but I DO want to, Mama! I reallyreallyreally want a baby!"

Where are we going with this? I wondered.

"Alright, Inara. If you want to have a baby when you grow up then that's okay. You can make that choice. When you're a grown up."

Inara sighed happily. And then sucked her breath in sharply as she said:

"But wait! If I have a baby, where will I sleep? What room will I have?"

"Oh, you mean will you sleep in this house? Well, I don't live with my Mama anymore, sweetie. So I think that by the time you have your own babies you won't be living with your Mama anymore...right?"

"OH NO!!! DON'T SAY THAT, MAMA!  I HAVE TO LIVE WITH YOU ALWAYS!!"

Great, I thought. Our relaxing nightly talk is now making my child visibly distraught. It was also getting late, so at this point I did what any self-respecting mom would do. I lied.

"It's okay, Inara. You can live here, in this house, for as long as you want to. Okay, love? You can stay here."

"Forever, Mama?" she said, her voice returning to a fervent whisper. "You have to say that I can stay here forever."

"Yes, loveybear. You can stay here forever."

"Oh, Mama! That would be so wonderful! And when I grow up you and I can be mothers together and take care of our babies and Daddy can be the Daddy! Wouldn't that be dashing?" (She really said "dashing". It's her new thing.)

Hmmm...I thought. She kind of missed the point about her Daddy, but hey - at least she's calm now. And I don't have to talk to her about The Birds and The Bees and Prop 8. Bonus!

"That would be dashing, Inara. Are we ready to close our eyes and have sweet dreams now?"

"No. Because I just remembered something else."

Ruh-roh...

"I remembered that I have to go to school! How will I take care of a baby if I have to go to school?"

"Oh," I replied, letting out an audible sigh of relief. "Well, it can be hard to both of those things at the same time. That's why Mama made sure that she finished allllllllll her school, and waited a reallllllly looooooong time before she decided to have a baby."

"Mama. You always have such good ideas."

"Why thank you, Inara. Now are we ready to have sweet dreams?"

"Just one more thing, Mama."

"Okay. But just the one more thing. And then we have to sleep."

"Sure thing, Mama. But I have a serious question, okay?"

"A Serious...Question? Oooookaaaaay. Go for it."

(I braced myself for the worst)

"Mama, when I grow up and have babies and live here with you forever, I'm going to need your van, okay? Because I really need to get out sometime. I just wanted you to know that. Oh, and I love you and thanks for the van."

And with that, she turned over and closed her eyes.

Gotta love those nightly talks.

I can't wait to tell this story to her on her wedding day.

(Just look at that face. Is it wrong of me to admit that I don't ever want her to leave either?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nissa At Eighteen Months.

Yesterday, Nissa turned eighteen months old. EIGHTEEN MONTHS! Where oh where has the time gone?


In this short period of time, my baby has grown and changed in so many ways. At a year and a half, pint-sized Nissa has the biggest personality of anyone in the household. She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to give you a piece of her mind if you don't give it to her. She is quick to laugh (I love that she still has her burbly baby laugh, even if she thinks she's a surly teenager) and also quick to get mad and throw things at you (a feat her older sister thankfully still hasn't figured out).  She is starting to talk and jump, put on her own shoes, and her brain is making a thousand new connections each and every day. Which is probably why her sleep has gone to pot (yawn).

Still, some things remain the same as always. Nissa still loves cuddles (when she dictates that the time is right) bananas, her blankie and above all else - her big sister. She simply adores Inara, in the most perfect and annoying way that only she knows how to express. Whatever Inara does, Nissa has to try to do as well. Where ever Inara is, Nissa has to be there. She wakes up saying her name and falls asleep doing the same. I never knew it would be like this - the constant bickering followed immediately by hugs and kisses. It's a total bipolar relationship - it's like the two of them can't stand to be together or to be apart. Never having had a sister, I have a feeling this is one of those mysteries that will always be beyond my ability to fully grasp, but it's as plain as day to see that they love each other - and that is enough for me. I hope that they will always have each other to love this way.

With Nissa, everything is intense. She barrels around the house, speeding ahead at full tilt and takes any challenge on head-first (including leaping off the stairs. HEART ATTACK!). She learns by doing (in contrast to Inara - who would rather memorize an instruction manual), and she learns fast. She can already turn doorknobs, lift toilet seats, and she has an amazing aptitude for fine-motor skills (such as dunking washcloths into the toilet bowl and wringing them out so that they are the perfect consistency for sucking on. Blech.). She also has an uncanny ability to sense danger - and run towards it. Willingly. And with a maniacal glint in her eye. She also, apparently, feels no pain. As is evidenced by her nose - which looks like it just went through a cheese grater. When she skidded face-first on pavement at the playground yesterday she whimpered - and then tried to do it again. I fear for what the future has in store for all of us as she becomes better at hurling her body towards inanimate objects - like the GROUND.

I think she might be a superhero.

My sweet Nissa - I have loved you since you were just a speck in my tummy. You drive me to laughter and despair, to incredible joy and premature graying. You leave me speechless, astonished, and full of wonder every single day. The World According To Nissa is a magical, gravity-defying plaything, just waiting to be shaped to your liking. You are going to do amazing things here, baby girl. And we can't wait to come along for the ride.

Happy Eighteen months, lovely Issie. Now please excuse me while I try stop you from breaking Daddy's laptop. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Inara's Rainbow.

A while back, I posted about why keeping my babies close to me, by wearing them in baby carriers (babywearing for those of you unfamiliar with the term) means so much to our family. That post was probably the hardest one I have ever had to write, because in it I talked about Inara's difficult infancy, some of her health issues, and the journey we went through to get to where we are today. Very emotional stuffs, indeed.

So that post coincided with the start of International Babywearing Week and as many other babywearers around the world were doing at the time, I changed the profile picture on my personal Facebook page to a babywearing one. Most people changed their pictures to ones of them wearing their little ones, but as I was scrolling through my (countless) babywearing photos, I came across one of Inara wearing one of her dolls in a sling that was made for her by one of my very dearest friends in the whole entire universe (For anonymity's sake, let's just call her "Jen". Which is totally NOT anonymous, but whatever. Why make this even more confusing than it already is?)

Immediately after posting that picture of Inara, my Facebook page lit up with comments. Which I knew would happen, because who wants to see a boring picture of me wearing my babies (been there, done that) when you can have the cutest little mug staring back at you instead?  And that too, a cute little mug wearing her cute little dolly? It was just too cruel to deny the world of that experience (such a modest blogger am I).

One person in particular (for anonymity's sake, let's call her "Tiph". Which again, is totally her real name), went completely bazonkers and demanded to know where I got that little doll sling for Inara and if it was possible for her to get one - not for her kids - but for herself. Errrrmmmm...huh? My friends had seen that picture before, but nobody had ever wanted the sling for themselves. That was new.

As a lark, I told the lovely "Tiph" that it wasn't an actual baby sling, and that if she wanted it for herself she would need to find a way to get it made by - and here was the insane part - emailing a certain baby carrier vendor (Giselle. That's really her name. Anonymity is so overrated.).

ASIDE AND SHAMELESS PLUG: Giselle Baturay is a babywearing legend. She is the hardworking businesswoman behind two well-loved family-owned stores called Granola Babies and Piece Of Cloth and she is also the smart yet sensitive author behind the blog Nurture Baby Naturally. To say that I am in awe of everything she has done for the babywearing community is an understatement. I had the pleasure of working with Giselle when we both served on the Board of Directors of Babywearing International, Inc. and I believe I may have professed my adoration for her on more than one occasion. It may have even been the reason that she decided to step down - I'm sure she didn't sign up to be stalked by a babywearing lunatic. I'm actually surprised that she still talks to me. GISELLE OMG I LOVE YOU WILL YOU BE MY BFF?!?!?!

Ahem.

Okay, now here's where the story gets really exciting. As if it wasn't already.

So "Tiph" emailed Giselle and Giselle saw my picture of Inara wearing the sling that "Jen" made for her. Got it? Good. And then Giselle said this, and I quote:

"Oh my dear lord it's GORGEOUS!!! Thanks Tiph for pointing it out. I think a wrap that color would be so beautiful!! Though....could it be the wearer that brings out the beauty?"

Whereupon Tiph countered with:
"I think she has a little something to do with it Giselle. ;) Maybe we could name it Inara's Rainbow??"

Giselle replied:
"Ooooooh, that would be lovely!!

At this point "Jen" stepped in and offered to send Giselle a piece of the original fabric, and Giselle said:
"Oooh Jen, I'd love a piece of it! I just need a piece of it to make sure we get the color numbers right. Inara's Rainbow is a go!

Thud. That was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.
Pop. That was the sound of my eyeballs popping out of my head.
Slam. That was the sound of me keeling over in shock and disbelief.

Did you read what just happened there, people? Let's recap:

I posted a picture of my daughter and now she is going to have a baby wrap named after her.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. That.

Okay, so I don't even know how to start explaining this to people who aren't "like us". "Us" being People Who Wrap Up Their Children In Fabric. If you'll pardon my French,  this is like every babywearer's wet dream come true (Mom! Don't read that last part!). And honestly, I'm not even slightly kidding at all.

All of a sudden my brain started thinking:
- Inara is going to have a wrap named after her. Holy sheeps.
- I'm going to have to buy this to wrap my baby in, or to save for Inara as a keepsake.
- I need money. How much do kidneys go for these days?
- Wait. I don't have a teeny baby to wrap right now.
- But that can be solved.
- I should shower first.
- INARA IS GOING TO HAVE A WRAP NAMED AFTER HER. GISELLE I LOVE YOU WILL YOU MARRY ME?!?!?!?!

So here's the deal. This is really happening. Giselle is currently working with Girasol, a Berlin-based company that works with Mayan women from Guatemala, who hand-weave baby wraps that are used all over the world. Girasol also pays fair trade wages to the artisans and uses only untreated cotton in their baby wraps (Double fantastic awesome. Gives me the warm fuzzies all over just thinking about this!).

Right now, Giselle is confirming the colors of Inara's Rainbow with Girasol to most accurately reflect the original swatch of fabric. I have it on good authority that this wrap is going to be FANFRICKINGTASTIC (A teaser for all you wrap geeks out there - the weft color is going to be red. Gorgeous!). Giselle is hoping to get a digital swatch of the wrap very soon, and possibly be able to take pre-orders by the end of this month. If all goes according to schedule, she hopes to have Inara's Rainbow here sometime in early February. Perfectly cheery for those wintertime snuggles!

Inara's Rainbow will be an exclusive wrap, sold only through Giselle's store, Piece Of Cloth.  You will be able to find more information about it, as it becomes available, through the Piece Of Cloth/Nurture Baby Naturally Facebook page - so "Like" them now so that you don't miss any updates! I will also be updating everyone here on my blog whenever possible.

I still can't quite believe that this is happening. For my daughter - the baby that I wore close to my heart through so many ups and downs - to have a wrap named after her is thrilling beyond anything I could have ever possibly imagined. That Inara's Rainbow will carry, soothe, and comfort countless other babies around the world is nothing short of a dream come true. This wrap will mean so much more to me than a simple piece of cloth. It is going to be our legacy. And I am so so honored to be a part of it.

So here it is. The face that launched a thousand (Or more? One can always dream!) baby wraps. I am so proud and privileged to present to you...Inara's Rainbow. I hope that her sunny stripes and sweet softness bring you happiness and a lifetime of warm memories. Thank you to everyone who made this possible!


Monday, November 8, 2010

For Isra.

You are the poem I dreamed of writing, the masterpiece I longed to paint.
You are the shining star I reached for in my ever-hopeful quest for life fulfilled.
You are my child.
Now with all things I am blessed.

(Unknown)

What do you say, to a mother who has just lost her child? What words will soothe? What sentiment is right?

I am at a loss.
I read the news on Saturday, and felt as though I was drowning. She was so small. She had only just arrived. And my friend, her mother. How could she possibly bear this?

I hadn't been in touch with her for many years. I read about her beautiful new baby, the joy, the hope, the pain, the shock, the whole story unfolded before me in updates and photos. I wasn't there. And now, to wish that I could be there seems...odd. But I do wish it, all the same.

I couldn't be there for her funeral. But my parents went. My mother said that my friend was surrounded by loved ones. She was not alone. She was so strong. She held my mother's hand and asked for me - a "friend" who hasn't seen her in years - to remember her in my prayers. I wish I had her grace and serenity.
I wish I could do more for her, but I have nothing to offer other than my words.

I am hurting for her, and with her. People will say that her baby is waiting for her at the Gates of Paradise. People will say that God will not grant her a burden more than she can bear. That we belong to Him, and to Him we must return.

I want to say that her baby's time here was too short and that my heart is breaking for all of them.

I cannot stop thinking of her today, my friend and her baby girl. Every time I hear my girls' laughter, or pick up my baby, or wipe away a tiny tear, I think about them. I think about the time they had together, and how there was so much more of their story yet to be told.

I think about sending them my love and support. I think about her grief. I think about how I would go on.

I think about that time when we were girls, walking down the hallway of our high school together, and how could we know back then that this is the destiny we were walking towards?

I want her to know that I am still there, walking beside her. That she is not alone. Even if we graduated and moved on, to jobs and marriages and different countries, I am still there, walking alongside her, holding her hurt in my heart, shouldering her burden with her, bearing her pain and supporting her weary soul. I want her to know that I will not forget her and her baby, her husband and her precious boy.

I bear witness to your suffering, my friend. Know that you are not alone.

The End
Rabindranath Tagore

It is time for me to go, mother; I am going.

When in the paling darkness of the lonely dawn you stretch out your arms for your baby in the bed, I shall say, "Baby is not there!"--mother, I am going.

I shall become a delicate draught of air and caress you; and I shall be ripples in the water when you bathe, and kiss you and kiss you again.

In the gusty night when the rain patters on the leaves you will hear my whisper in your bed, and my laughter will flash with the lightning through the open window into your room.

If you lie awake, thinking of your baby till late into the night, I shall sing to you from the stars, "Sleep mother, sleep."

On the straying moonbeams I shall steal over your bed, and lie upon your bosom while you sleep.

I shall become a dream, and through the little opening of your eyelids I shall slip into the depths of your sleep; and when you wake up and look round startled, like a twinkling firefly I shall flit out into the darkness.

When, on the great festival, the neighbours' children come and play about the house, I shall melt into the music of the flute and throb in your heart all day.

Dear auntie will come and will ask, "Where is our baby, sister? Mother, you will tell her softly, "He is in the pupils of my eyes, he is in my body and in my soul."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Vote For YouTube.

There were a great many things I wanted to share with you yesterday, but then I got caught up in watching the last season of Ugly Betty and my brain turned to mush. Have a nice day. The End.

KIDDING!

Well, it's true that I've been watching Ugly Betty - was that not the best show EVER?!? I never got to watch the last season because we were too busy buying a house - but now thanks to Inara going to school in the afternoon, I have finally eked out my own time to procrastinate and not do housework or write any blog posts ever again. Isn't that just lovely? I think so too.

Before I go back to finishing my episode, however (Daniel is almost at Level 7! But it's a cult! Don't do it, Daniel! Go back to your beardless ways!!) - there is one thing I thought I'd share with you. And you might start to wonder how watching Ugly Betty could possibly relate to this next thing, until I tell you that YouTube is a great resource for allllllll kinds of things. Also, I would never, ever condone watching or linking to clips that were put up on YouTube without permission, but just on the off chance that one of you happens to come across one of these videos and finds something of value (coughUglyBettySeason4cough) then it would be on your own conscience to watch it. Disclaimer over, moving right along.

So. While I was at YouTube watching illegally uploaded TV shows in very poor resolution finding educational videos, I remembered that Inara had been talking about the Election. Our conversation went something like this (I posted this on my personal Facebook page, so for those of you who are friends, I'm sorry for repeating):

Inara: Mama, did you know that it is Eluction Day today?
Me: Yes, I did know that. What happens on Election Day, Inara?
Inara: Well, everyone votes for who they like best. Let's go vote!
Me: Who would you vote for, Inara?
Inara: For the elves. Of course. And then I can tell them my one true wish...
Me: And what would that be?
Inara: I wish that everyone in the world was happy and that they could get a treat for Halloween. And that everyone called treats loot instead of treats.

Just warms your heart, doesn't it? I love that four year-olds actually BELIEVE in stuff like this. And I almost felt like a bit of a wiener to have to tell her that there were, sadly, no elves to be found anywhere on Tuesday's ballots. Not to be deterred however, Inara was quite interested in learning more about the election process.

Now, hailing from The Great White North, I feel more adequately prepared to impart my knowledge on a wide variety of subjects - including socialized health care, maple syrup and most importantly, hockey. But Inara didn't want to know about any of that. Her questions concerned mid-term elections, gubernatorial races and two-party systems. Learning about rubber pucks, cross-checking and penalty boxes apparently hold absolutely interest for this child. This is what happens when you give birth to an American.

So naturally, I turned to the only resource that matters, the Almighty Internets. In searching for information about how to explain elections to young children I found that everything was soooooooo way over her head (And by her head I mean mine. I'm sure she would have grasped it, but my Mid-Term Election Gene has been replaced with Maple Syrup Fudge Recipes and so I needed help to explain things to her, preferably using pictures. And small words.)

In the end I gave up on trying to explain mid-term elections to just focus on the basics. The hows and whys of why we have Elections in the first place. That seemed like a good place to start for someone as feeble-minded as me. Through the magic of modern technology I found this great little video that seemed to have everything I needed. Never mind the fact that it was made in the 70's and has really cheesy music and poor quality sound. It's the message that matters! Excited with my discovery, I set us up with snacks (It's a 10 minute animated short. I figured Inara would get peckish. And by "Inara" I mean me, of course.), and we settled in for some quality learning time. Here's the movie we watched - be forewarned that it is 10 minutes long, but entertaining to say the least:


Afterward, Inara turned to me and said: "NOW I understand! We have Eluctions to make sure that mean people who don't like cats are never ever in charge. Right, Mama?"

Ahhhh, the sweet, innocent world view of a four year-old.

Okay, so maybe our first foray into the world of Civics didn't quite go as planned. But THEN, a dear friend of mine (thanks Jen O!) told me about a certain Strawberry Shortcake movie called The Berryfest Princess, and I decided to check it out because, dude. It's Strawberry Shortcake. Need I say more?

Well apparently Miss Shortcake has changed quite a bit in the 20ish years since I watch her frolic with her fruity-scented pals. Gone are Huckleberry Pie and The Peculiar Purple Pie Man - which means no more tap-dancing to "Yah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah, tah-tah-tah-tah! Cha!". So sad. What we do have in this version are a group of minuscule Berry Bitty City inhabitants who are all vying for the title of Berryfest Princess by participating in an election!  Hurray and huzzah!

So timely!

So educational!

So PINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait. What?

Yep. About five minutes into the movie (And this is where YouTube comes in. And no, I will not be linking to this clip because as you know, I can not condone the watching of media that has been uploaded without permission. You should all do what I ALWAYS do and buy or rent or borrow from the library. Because that's what I always usually sometimes do.) I noticed my daughter. Inara was sitting beside me, open-mouthed. I asked her if something was wrong. And she said,

"It's. So. PINK! Mama, I just LOOOOOOVE Eluctions! We should have them every single day!"

Oh yeah, baby...now THAT'S how you instill a sense of civic pride. Thank you very much, Internets. We couldn't have done it without you.

I think that for now, my lessons in Civics have come to a brief halt as Inara bathes in the sickly-sweet glow of Berry Bitty City politics. She hasn't yet learned about negative campaign ads or pandering to lobbyists, but all that can wait.

For now, she is happy.

And I get to return to my TV show.

The (real) End.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kooky Not Spooky Halloween Part II

Before we begin with Part II of our Halloween adventures, I wanted to remind everyone to get out and VOTE today! As Canadians living in the U.S., Yousuf and I aren't eligible to vote (Yet! We're working on it!), so it's especially meaningful for me to encourage all of you today. I can't wait to join you at the polling stations someday soon!

Alright - back to our regularly scheduled Halloween adventures.

When you last saw us, Inara was dressed up as a flower and I was a butterfly, and together with my lovely mom-in law (the orange-winged butterfly in yesterday's post) we set out on an adventure/mission to make this year's Halloween Kooky and not Spooky. It worked well enough during the day, but the evening presented a bit more of a challenge.

But first. Let me introduce you to the other member of our garden-themed group. I give you the one, the only, the very adorable Miss NissaBee (in a hand-me-down costume from her big sis that she ROCKED):


And virtually every picture I have of her involves her running away from us.

Or complaining.

"Why have you dressed me up in all this adorableness only to have me 
harnessed to the CONTRAPTION OF RESTRAINT AND TORTURE?"

"Why won't you just set me FREE?!?"

"And ohmygawd what have you done with my HANDS?!?!?!?!?!?!"

I am pouting in your general direction - you deplorable excuse for a parent. 
And no, I will not smile for you. Not even for a cookie.

But look! If you stick the three of us together, we're actually kind of cute! Even Nissa couldn't help but smile a little at that:


In keeping with our Kooky Not Spooky theme, Yousuf dressed up as a Daddy Bee:


Yikes! Remember - Kooky not SPOOKY, Daddy!


Much better.

And you remember that Yousuf's Mom was also a butterfly. Completing our little group we had Yousuf's Dad who went as this:


Apparently he didn't get the memo about the garden theme. 

But he did read the part about emphasizing the Kooky. 

The girls loved it.

In fact, Inara only wanted her Papa to take her to the first few houses for trick-or-treat. So we stood back, huddling under our umbrellas and braving the gusting winds, while hoping that Papa had enough peripheral vision to make it down the porch steps in one piece.


We took turns doing houses with Inara after that one. I'm sure Papa was quite relieved.

Even though it was raining and windy, it didn't dampen the Halloween spirit in our neighborhood. The princesses and fairies were out in full force along with ghouls and goblins - which Inara deftly avoided making eye contact with - and every house was bedecked from top to bottom. Everyone was so friendly and nice and just lovely in every way. We live in a wonderful community!


Look at how creative some of our neighbors were with their pumpkins:


That one was beautiful - I couldn't take my eyes off of it. Yousuf loved this one:


And this one was by far our favorite:


It had a moving red light in it!! A Knight Rider jack-o-lantern.  I love.

As the night wore down, the rain settled down into a misty drizzle and we released Nissa from her torturous restraint stroller and let her run up and down and all around like the busy bee that she is. She had a grand old time exploring porches, tearing into bushes and pulling down decorations all the way home. It's a good thing she was so freaking cute in her costume, because nobody seemed to mind the little stinger-bummed beauty wreaking havoc on their well-tended lawns.

Outta my way, Gammie! This Bee stops for NO ONE!

At the end of the night we tried to take a group shot outside our front door. We try this every year, and every year we have some hilarious outtakes.  We only needed two attempts this year, which is a new world record for our family.

Attempt Number 1 - Entitled Runaway Bee!


Note the look of pure, unadulterated joy on Nissa's face. She was in heaven.

Attempt Number 2 - Entitled The Almost Normal And Completely Kooky Family Halloween Shot of 2010:


It looks like Papa is trying to high stick Gammie in the head in that shot. 

Remember it's Kooky, Papa, not CRAZY!

Inside, I made a fool of myself trying to get a decent shot of the girls. 

You know, for posterity. 

Or something.

 No, Mama. We will not stand nicely together. Not even for a cookie. Or for a sucker. 

 Don't come any closer! Or this Bee is gonna FLY!

And just when I thought it was too late, the girls spontaneously gave us this little nugget.

Sigh. I loves them.

Happy Kooky Halloween from our family to yours.
We hope you made some wonderful memories!
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