Friday, January 25, 2013

Who am I?

I have been suggested by many friends that I should blog about how I juggle everything in life between working, parenting, hosting and so much more.

Thank you, kind friends, for acknowledging that life is tough and the roles we take on with age are tougher. I truly appreciate moments where you say things like ‘I don’t know how you do it, I come home from sitting at work all day and I’m too pooped from just that. How you have the energy to cook up all those things you post on Instagram?!’ 

As enthralling as hearing about my life might be, I think most of the stuff I go through is really no different from so many of my friends also experience. We all can relate to many of the same moments in life, so I’m really hoping you all nod and agree that you share likeness of me in any of the below situations (so I don’t feel like a complete moron). 

Here in no particular order is my attempt at laughing at life.
You know you’re an American born working Muslim-Pakistani mom/wife/daughter/sister when:

-       Your child’s teacher chuckles when you groan as she gives you the note Jilly’s mom for you. Because you both know it’s yet another birthday party invite. Another event where your kid comes home with too much sugar for his pint sized body to handle. Another event for which you have to go buy a gift and a card and a gift bag. No you aren’t lazy (much), and you probably should hoard these things in bulk like all those crafty moms do, but having a full time job means no time to remember those time saving moves. (You have no time to save time, the humor is not lost on you)

-       The moment when your mom gushed compliments over your goat biryani and the look of pride on her face is forever etched in your mind. Your mom doesn’t do false compliments, this is huge and it probably ranks up higher than getting your Masters/CPA as ‘Moments I’ll never forget’.

-       You fall asleep on the couch after 2 episodes of Game of Thrones, only to be awaken at 1:30am when your 2 yr old is crying in the bedroom. And you realize you forgot to pray Isha namaaz and really mean to do it now but fall back asleep after putting your child to bed. You totally promise God you won’t do it again, yet you have so many Isha prayers to make up even God ain’t falling for it anymore.

-       Some days your child eats nutella on toast for dinner. It’s better than food being forced in while you try to pry his mouth open. Mostly you manage to squeeze in somewhat of a healthy meal, but some days Nutella toast wins the battle.

-       You ponder over your chances at becoming a fashion blogging success. These hijab fashionistas seem to really have found their niche, too bad you don’t wear a scarf and probably wearing one just to blog about it isn’t such a great reason to start. And also, you will probably never pose regularly for pictures in pretty outfits, because even if you do somehow find the time your son will most likely also be pictured tugging at your pants in every pose.

-       You think a freshly cooked meal two times a week is pretty commendable and if you manage to find time in your weekend packed with birthdays/bridal showers/weddings/baby showers/couple’s get together/girl’s night to cook a meal ahead of time it’s definitely worth bragging about.

-       Either you or your husband (or both) are serious addicts to websites like slickdeals, and due to this your once fairly large apartment/home is now filled with tons of unnecessary merchandise.

-       You show up to work wearing one earring, because your child woke up crying before you got to the second one and due to Mommy brain you plum forgot you had just one in!

-       Your child watches Sim Sim Humara (Pakistani Sesame Street) so he can learn some culture and it warms your heart to hear him shout words like ‘Himmat’ and “Yakeeeeeen’ even though he probably has no idea what they mean yet.

-       When your 2 year old son says ‘bless you’ upon hearing you sneeze and you’re not sure to be happy that he’s learning manners at daycare or ashamed that you’re not doing a good enough job at home on emphasizing ‘Alhumdulillah’. Which then leads you to yet again fall into depression/guilt that he spends 10 hours at daycare and only 2 hours at home with you so of course he’ll learn ‘Bless you’ before he learns ‘Alhumdulillah’. And all of this just ends up in more chocolate being eaten. (this time by you)

-       Your sister and you promise each other that you won’t baby your 30+ year old son like your mother in law does your husband. Both of you swear to never end up this way unconsciously knowing you probably will.

-       You would be better off buying stock in your local gym instead of having a membership, because at least that way your monthly contributions would give you some form of long-term profit. I’m a proud member of WoW since Dec 2009, now don’t ask me how many times I’ve been in the past year. I tend to take 2-3 month long vacations from exercise. 

-       You fervently worked out to Youtube videos of Zumba routines the day you finally accepted you will not be going to the gym any time soon. That was the last time Youtube was used in your home for anything other than Sim Sim Humara or ABC Phonics.

-       Getting out of the car and into the house without toppling over is a mini feat, because you managed to carry: your child (who is usually trying to run free), purse, lunch bag, child’s school bag, numerous artworks/toys, and sometimes groceries all in your two tiny hands while climbed up 12 steps sometimes in snow, ice and rain whilst having to go pee so badly. Mini Feat indeed. (I suppose you could probably make two trips, but do you really trust your toddler alone in the house? Man that’s one good toddler, can we switch? Also, this saves time, you really just don’t want to go back out in the cold dammit)

-       You spend quite a bit of time on websites like waiting for the day your husband gets over his ‘I don’t want to pay interest’ phase so you can call a lovely ‘4 bedroom 2.5 bath’ home. You don’t want to pay interest either, but dreaming of being homeowners is so lovely. And you both know this phase is more about your husband’s excuse to be the cheap Desi he is at heart.

-       You are quite thrilled to have a ‘wellness room’ (real purpose is for breast pumping mothers to use) in the office so you can make wudu and pray namaz at work without your coworkers having to know or deal with that awkward moment in the bathroom when someone walks in to see you washing your hands til your elbows.

-       Seeing the only other Muslim coworker walk out of the wellness room around Maghrib time and realizing he was probably using it for the same reason as you (I sure hope he isn’t breast pumping in there!) makes you super proud that handsome single moderate Muslim boys do exist! You immediately start plotting schemes on how to introduce yourself and eventually get him to marry one of your single friends.

-       Even though you try not to be vain and judge people solely based on looks you follow Faryal Makhdoom on Instagram. Let’s be honest she’s a pretty girl of Pakistani descent and famous by association, that’s reason enough to follow her. She may end up having her own reality show one day and then you can say you liked her before the rest of the world did. Jay Sean style.

-       You’ve got the best Worst Mom Incident out of all your friends. It involves dinner with a couple you never met before, a baby bag forgotten at home, a wailing child stuck in a high chair with you then your husband struggling to get him out, numerous restaurant diners staring, and the story ends with your child going home wearing a receiving blanket wrapped like a sumo wrestler’s underwear. And the couple still wants to be your friend. Yay for Happy endings!

-       The advent of Pinterest has caused you and your husband to gain some serious weight in the past two years because you can’t stop pinning all these amazing recipes! 

-       Despite stockpiling spare Paci/Binky’s, you feel like you spend half your life searching for lost ones. God damn the day you decided to hook your child onto this creation.

-       Sometimes you look around at your living room/kitchen/bathroom/bedroom and secretly thank God that your mom can’t see what a slob you have turned into. You’ve contemplated a cleaning/cooking schedule (pinned some cute ideas on Pinterest too!) but only wonder how long people actually stick to those.

-       You see an adorable newborn/infant girl and make a mental note to keep her in mind as a future daughter in law one day. Yes it’s totally disturbing since your son is not even potty trained, but hey finding love is hard and you just want to help your little sweet pea out!

-       You have a whole slew of fasting days missed during your pregnancy that two years later you still are making up. And sadly your reasoning for not doing make ups during December (when the days were shortest and the fasts were easiest) was that the office had too much free food and holiday parties you didn’t want to miss. Clearly your priorities of putting food before everything else have got to change. (She says while eating a midafternoon snack)

I think I’ll stop now, not because I don’t have more delightful anecdotes to share with you, but because I’m afraid you probably think I’m the laziest, weirdest, most unorganized, disheveled mother/employee/wife/everything else. I promise I do have some great accomplishments and strong attributes too. When I’m not totally exhausted from all the things I’m involved in, I can be quite a pleasant person to be around (hah!). Mostly, I am thankful for my life, albeit it is not always perfect. Sometimes life hands me a challenge and sometimes I just make senseless mistakes, but mostly I’ve learned that if I can walk away from an experience and laugh about it, it’s been a good life.

So I’m trying hard to smile with each struggle and be thankful for the times that we get a full night’s rest to tackle the next hurdle!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eid Milad un Nabi Mubarak!

In an authentic hadith from both Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people.”

In another Bukhari hadith he said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself” and Sayyidina `Umar said: “O Prophet, I love you more than myself.”

We shower with love our children, parents and ourselves at every birthday, how can we not honor our Beloved Nabi on the day of his birth? 

After your mother’s death will you forget her birthday or death anniversary? For all that she taught you and all that she gave you, will you not take this day to remember, honor, and celebrate her? Yes, you will think of her every day, but daily life’s demands get in the way and this specific day will stand out to remind you of her the most. You may spend it mildly by saying a special prayer for her maghfirat and bringing to mind her amazing qualities. Or you may indulge in it by cooking up dishes she enjoyed most and creating poetry/songs in her praise. 

You do these acts simply because your heart will want to sing of the love it possesses for her. 

How then will you ignore the heart’s yearning to display adoration for the man who gave you everything?

Let our future generations not forget such an esteemed personality as our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
-Read as much Durood Shareef as possible today.
-Keep a day’s fast if you can.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sesame Street birthday party - Part 2: The details!

It’s taken me awhile but here’s the follow up to my post on the Sesame Street Birthday Party Invite.

Of course nothing ever quite turns out how it is imagined in your head. I had a grand elaborate plans with a lovely dessert table scheme all thought out, but then the hall wouldn’t allow us to put up any decoration on the walls nor would they let us arrive early to prepare either. Pay $100 extra just to set up, the Desi in me couldn’t dish it out. I do regret that choice as it would’ve made things run much more smooth, especially since it suddenly began to snow the day of the party! Ah well, you live you learn. And ultimately, if your guests show no signs of leaving early, if people go back for 2nds and 3rds, and if they mention weeks later that their kid slept like a baby that night because they played until they could no more you know your party was a success.

So my detailed plan became a quick scramble to set everything out as my guests began to arrive. And since it was just me and the hubs and about 90 church chairs to clear out before we set up tables and d├ęcor it really was a mad dash to get things done. Fortunately for us, people can’t see cloud images of what’s actually in our head so no one knew how far from reality my party ideas were, and they all greatly still appreciated everything we did. I got tons of compliments on everything from the cake to the desserts to the lunch menu and games. All in all, it turned out wonderful and most importantly, our little monster had a blast at his party and that fact makes me feel the most at ease!

We spent countless hours on our dessert table. That was my baby. I was so excited to share all the goodies I had made for everyone. Then stupid stupid snowfall had to happen. We had 4 families cancel on us at the very last minute. That’s about 10+ people. That's when I realized I had gone way overboard. I just made wayyy too many desserts thinking people would enjoy snacking on them as a take home treats from the party. A lot of people did take things home, but we were just short on so many guests (especially guests with kids, who love desserts!) and had a ton left over. I was eating rice krispie wands for lunch two weeks post-party. Nonetheless, those who DID attend our party and didn’t flake because of a little snow (I get it snow sucks and people don’t want to drive in it, I feel you, but it’s my party and I can be a wee bit upset!) said they loved all the desserts. Fortunately New Years was a few days later and I was able to take over all the leftover goodies that my cousins greatly appreciated :)

Menu Cards
I made menu title cards for all the appetizer/dessert items. This took hours on the computer trying to make things all fit into a template plus finding some of these character images was not easy, but I thought the end result was nice and gave the dessert table a cute look. Especially, for all the kids, it was a treat to see their favorite characters all over the party! I had another card not pictured (because I can't find it on my computer!), 'B is for Brownie' with a picture of Bert.

this said C is for Cookie but for some reason the image I have on my computer now isn't updated

Again a glitch on my  computer, this said Oscar's Mudpies

Star shaped Rice Krispies (halal of course) dipped in colored choclate covered in sprinkles!

Nothing makes Super Grover strong like hummus!

Ronzoni pasta was on sale $.88/box a week before our party eek! I mixed 1 box Alphabet pasta with 1 box  Rotini pasta and meat sauce. So much fun to eat, not just the kids devoured this! Sadly, no one took a picture of the actual dish

Party Games
I had labels for all game stations too (of which maybe 2 were actually played. Turns out, kids enjoy running around more than playing organized games. I’m okay with this.)
I just got a  craft box from Amazing Savings which included all the items to make 24 little puppets using popsicle sticks, pom poms, googly eyes, etc. Kids loved it!

The idea was to hide TWO (number of the day)  of each items like cars, balls, books etc around the room and have kids find them for a prize

Labeled the Ducks 1,2, and 3. Win a prize corresponding to the number duck you pick. Easy game for toddlers

Toss a ball into a tin can, win a prize

Sesame street tattoos bought via Oriental Trading

I was able to print out great coloring pages via the PBS Kids Sesame Street website


Party Favors

I was super lucky and found these amazing lunch bags at Stop & Shop that were perfect for our Sesame Street Theme. I created a small thank you note, which I placed in each bag and sealed them with the Thank You label found here. And voila! Perfect favor bags for the kiddies to take home. We filled them with Elmo essentials: Goldfish crackers, Crayons, Elmo notepad (Also from Amazing savings, gotta love my mom for finding the best things!), Sesame street themed stickers (bought via Oriental trading) and misc chocolate/candy. 

To sum it all up, my heart was in the right place. My luck and time management skills, not so much. I even found great websites via Pinterest where I was able to print out a banner, which also didn't get put up since we had no time and no place to put it.  But there is always his next birthday :) Here's a few shots of the party:

Thank you Pinterest for the idea!

One of the few games the kids actually played!

Yes it looks nothing like I had imagined, there were too many items and not enough space, you can't even see all the desserts all in one picture here. And don't get me started on that darn ugly brown tray ugh. I'll stop crying now haha.

There is no close up of my Mud pie mousse I worked so hard on. It tasted heavenly too! Trust me I ate it for days aftewards, so I know!

aaaaaaand here is my favorite shot, of Ali's Dad hard at work late into the night making his famous cream puffs from scratch. These definitely were the first go at the party!

Monday, January 14, 2013

To Health

Towards the end of 2012 I finally stopped slacking, quit my complaining and began taking my health seriously. I’m only 26 and blessed to be perfectly healthy now, but I've seen far too many examples before me of women who neglected themselves in their prime ages only to suffer many ailments later on. Women are naturally more prone to many illnesses than men are. We take on too much stress, we birth children which takes a major toll on our bodies and mostly we put our health second until it becomes blindingly unavoidable. So, as part of my New Year's resolution here’s what I am aiming to start doing now:

Facials - I started getting them monthly beginning in mid 2012 which may be a bit hefty on the pocket but even a few times a year is completely worth it. I can feel my skin looking and feeling dramatically tighter/softer and skin tone evening out. I don't have many break outs anymore, but facials have been great at getting rid of blemish marks. I know my 40 year old skin will thank myself for the efforts made in my 20s. I plan to do this more frequently, if not at the salon then definitely at home. But, truthfully the 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted Me Time where I get to chitchat with my beautician and have someone else spoil me does wonderful to alleviate stress. Less stress = less frowning = less wrinkles = Fab at 40! Or so I keep telling myself!I bought some eye wrinkle cream too (it was a sad moment, eye wrinkle cream? Me? Waahhh!). All those years of neglecting to remove my eye makeup before bed and then scrubbing it off in the morning has definitely taken a toll on my under-eyes, I'm hoping this cream helps. I'll write more about it when I see results. 

Eating fish/cod liver oil pills - I have a history of heart disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and diabetes in my family. Some things no matter how hard you try to avoid them, they find you. But still, prevention is better than cure. I initially started taking these pills because they are rich in omega 3 and are known to help improve hair, nails and skin. I had serious postpartum hair loss and was desperate to try anything. I began using Argan oil and Argan shampoo in September 2012, which did help at first, but it didn't seem enough. I continue to use it now but I've added in cod liver pills. Now, after 2 months of daily consumption I can already see a huge change. So Glowing even skin + No more hair loss+ Stronger nails = Majorly Happy Sania! And the real benefit is that fish oil is ideal for safeguarding myself against all the diseases in my family. So, even if I lose this battle against my genes/heredity one day, I can say I did put up a fight.

Taking care of my spine-  Another joy of postpartum I experienced was back pain. It's been two years and I really have not done a thing to improve it. My excuse was, it wasn't so bad and only really hurt in the morning when I woke up. So, I kept blaming my horrible un-firm mattress (partial truth). I finally complained enough that my husband forced me to go for physical therapy. Sure enough I have some badly tensed muscles due to the way I sit at work, carry my son and lack of stretching/working out. Two weeks of PT did not do much so I gave up (too soon I know, but keep reading) and one night I took the suggestion of a friend and put a pillow between my legs when I slept (I’m a side sleeper). BOOM. No more back pain. It’s been over two weeks and I’m feeling a lot better than I have in months, actually years! So I'm no longer paying a ridiculous $30/session copay for PT and all it took was spooning with a pillow! Also, I was suggested to a great website about yoga for stretching, but I'll write about that in my 'Soul' section. 

Drinking more water- I've read that you should drink half your weight in water, meaning if you weigh 120 lbs then drink 60 oz of water daily. That's basically 8 glasses, which is not so difficult if you drink 2 in the morning 2 at noon 2 before dinner and 2 before bed. Water is so essential to regulating all the various functions and organs within our body and I definitely forget to drink even 1 glass some days! I'm thinking the worst that can come from this is that I'll be too stuffed with water and won't have any room left to over eat! Win-win. A well hydrated body leads to a well-nutritioned soul. 

These are just a few small changes I've chosen to make in my lifestyle to improve my health and they've proven to be quite beneficial in the past few months/weeks. I'm hoping that 2013 will bring added healthy habits. Seeing my grandmother suffer with awful arthritis and heart related illnesses, while my grandfather is in an assisted elderly care facility due to his Alzheimer's has really opened up my eyes to the grim reality of old age. I've also lost two grandparents to complications of heart disease. And now with my parents in their 50s and 60s, it pains me to think about them getting old too. If  I can take actions now that help me look and feel healthy 30 years down the line, then popping a pill, sipping on water and cuddling with a pillow are things I can willingly bring into my life.

*all images via google

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