Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Best Birthday Ever!

For some reason Yusuf wanted to throw me a surprise birthday party the other night.  My birthday isn't for months, but this was awesome still.

The party was complete with decorations Yusuf had cut out and taped to the wall, invitations, party hats, a construction paper cake with candles, and a happy birthday song that Yusuf wrote the lyrics out for.

It was so amazing to be the center of his attention and I have some precious souvenirs from the party I plan to keep for a long time.  Hopefully they're a small part of what I'll continue to collect from Yusuf and Nooriya.

Thanks Yusuf! (and Zahra)

"I Love You You are the best and the great"

Party Balloon and Cake

"I Love you and you are the best and supur! good! and nice!"
This is the invitation outside
 This is the invitation inside, "Dear Abba, Yusuf and Nooriya and Mumy have a extra special surprise at home and it is a secret."

Yusuf wrapped some presents and made some party hats!

Friday, December 07, 2012


Dad told me something really nice tonight.

In English, "a peacock doesn't need to be painted".  He said it much more eloquently in Gujarati.  He said it about mostly about Yusuf, but about me too.  I don't want to write down what I think it means now.  I want to read this a long time from now and re-interpret it.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Today Yusuf is going on his first sleepover.  I wasn't ready for him to be going out on his own and spending the night away when my mom called and said to send him over.  He's super excited even though I'm kind of scared.

Also, in the car he was telling me about how in five years he'd be ten.  Ten!

Yusuf is blowing my mind a little today:)


I'm reading a history of risk and these are a couple quotes I know I will want to come back to read.

"The actions we dare to take, which depend on how free we are to make choices, are what the story of risk is all about.  And that story helps define what it means to be a human being."

"If everything is a matter of luck, risk management is a meaningless exercise.  Invoking luck obscures truth, because it separates an event from its cause."

"Once we understand that we are not obliged to accept the spin of the roulette wheel or the cards we are dealt, we are free souls.  Our decisions matter.  We can change the world."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ice Cream

The other night I watched Nooriya eat a cup of ice cream.  I watch her intently and two thoughts struck me as she worked to get as much ice cream as possible successfully into her mouth.

One...She was so singularly focused on her task.  She sat there using an adult size spoon that was too big for her trying to get as much ice cream out of the bowl and to her mouth.  She patiently and carefully took each bite of ice cream out of the bowl with complete concentration.  She dropped a little bit on the table, a lot on her face and some in her mouth.  I was a bit jealous of her ability to be so focused and her ability to block out pretty much everything else.

Two...I was reminded of the enormity of my responsibility.  She was able to be so unaware of everything that wasn't ice cream in that moment.  That's my job to be aware for her.  It was a great moment for me to remember I just have a very few number of tasks in my life that I need to focus on.  I enjoyed my ice cream as much as Nooriya did because she so clearly reminded me that my most important things to focus on were sitting at the table eating ice cream with me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Go Fish!

Yesterday was Nooriya's 3rd birthday.  Hard for me to understand she's already 3.  The four of us went for ice cream yesterday to celebrate before her party.

We had ice cream and taught Yusuf to play Go Fish!  It was awesome, he got it and he really enjoyed it.  I watched him yell "GO FISH! abba" and all of a sudden realized this was the first time he'd ever played Go Fish! and it was kind of blowing his mind discovering this game.

All day I've been thinking back to when Yusuf was just a few days and weeks old.  I remember marvelling at the thought that just about every single thing was brand new to him - everywhere he went, everything he ate, everything he was pretty much all for the first time.  Last night he had another first, and I realized there are so many more to come for him.  I have also been thinking that there isn't much in my week or month that is for the first time.  Almost everything I do, eat and experience I've done before.

I also realized something else after all this stuff.  Yesterday, I got to be a part of his first game of Go Fish!  It's just up to me to be a part Yusuf's and Nooriya's firsts. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012


I may have a decision to make soon or even again some time much later this will be worth thinking back to.  I hope I come back to this post when it comes time to make that decision.

So many times small annoying things happen like being stuck in traffic and I've thought if I only I'd taken the other way or left a few minutes earlier.   Sometime later, hopefully not too long later, I think that I was spared experiencing something bigger and worse and only had to deal with something small and annoying.

I feel blessed to be able to have this perspective at least some of the time.  While this has served me well with the small stuff and my day to day, it hasn't really pushed me to think about my life in the long-term.

In the last couple weeks two things have disrupted normal life so much it has forced me to look closely at the path I'm on now.  There are two different things, but they really make me see the same thing; what it is that I have now.

The first is a job opportunity.  It's not an opportunity really of any substance yet, but a romantic idea of what my career might be like.  If this pans out it could be like waving a magic career wand and getting to this place where I could just open any career door I wanted.  I could take any number of career paths with a bright future and in my mind everything else would just fall into place.

The second is a the family being separated.  Zahra is gone right now and it is the most time we've ever spent apart.  I'm fine and the kids are fine.  Taking good care of them is a tough job, but I'm up for it.  It's just really lonely.  I don't have fun; I'm just doing stuff to pass the time until we're all together again.

I'm so glad these two things happened at the same time.  It has given me the opportunity to think clearly about where our life is headed and could be headed.  I wonder how many things have had to go exactly right for me to have this lucky life.  I could make this career change, but it might mean changing this great thing I've got.  I better not  make the decision seeing only the things I want to see and ignoring the rest.  I am doing my best not to lose sight of why I work in the first place.  My ambitions and aspirations are not career-related, they're life-related.  No matter how tempting the opportunity, if I make a decision that puts career before life I'll regret it sooner or later.  Probably sooner.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The last few weeks I've had several things remind me of my 'smallness'.

I am learning about Voyager and the Golden Record it carries.  It was launched 35 years ago, and had this amazingly romantic idea. It would carry this small record meant to encapsulate our planet.  On it, there are sounds of so many things including baby's cry, greetings in numerous languages, animal sounds and the brain waves of Ann Druyan who was in love and would later marry Carl Sagan.  The Voyager has been traveling at about 36K mph since it left in 1977.  There are countless stars out there; thousands of stars you can't see for all those that you can and the Voyager won't reach the closest one for another 40,000 years.  The idea that someone or thing might find this and might be able to listen to this and might be able to interpret this is  so enchanting.

Jimmy Carter said so articulately, "This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.'

A couple weeks back Curiosity landed successfully on Mars a mere 60 million away.  Against the odds, the 7 minute landing controlled and monitored far, far, far, far away was a success and inspired and united a whole world by pushing the bounds of what humans have been given the capacity to do.

The other night I watched a stupid Nick Cage movie that gave some crazy stats about the size of our world and it's expanse of time. There are 1,000,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy and 1,000,000,000,000 galaxies out there, give or take a zero:P  The mathematician in me wonders can our planet be 1 in a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000...(you get the idea), how romantic an idea is that? In a blink of an eye in universe time there were dinosaurs and in another blink our sun will be burnt out.

And the other night, the biggest thing or rather the thing the put this size in perspective was mom's letter.  I'm a believer in determinism, things happen for a reason.  This amazing experience with this amazing Moula that I'm a beneficiary of, that my kids are a beneficiary of is unbelievable, it is beyond any math or logic.  If I ever think things are random or without purpose, I will feel sorry for myself.

Also, I saw 'The Dark Knight Rises" today for the first of probably many times to come and it was out of this world  AWE-some!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've heard the lore of Aqa Moula's first visit to Chicago in 1978, first utaro at mom and dad's house, but I got a new even more fantastic perspective of it yesterday.

Last night I got to be part of something so special.  I got watch as mom read 'the letter'.  I can't go into the history of the letter too much for fear I would be incomplete and I would not do it justice.  The letter's content and journey has a story that can't be made up and I can only understand as my naseeb to be witness to its reading.

All the stories I've heard before have been from memories and amazing experiences people remember and many of them I've heard second hand.  At the time, mom wrote a letter to her parents in India.  35 years ago India may have well been another planet.  The letter is about 15 pages and rich in detail and emotion.  After many years and some amazing trip, the letter made its way back to mom.

I watched mom read the letter word for word.  It was filled with details like dates, times, the clothes Aqa Moula was wearing, the food Aqa Moula ate and so many more details, details that would have otherwise been lost. As mom read the letter, it was magical.  She was reading, but also reliving every moment and it was moving.

In addition to the letter, Dad had the incredible foresight to document so much of the trip with moving pictures and portraits.  A video camera was no small thing in 1978.

By the end of the 45 minutes, I was so captivated that I could hardly digest what I had just been a part of.  I think about this amazing, amazing thing that mom and dad have to pass down to Aziz and Zahra and as my great luck would have it, me too.

It occurs to me now that mom was round about my age when she wrote the letter.  She was even in just about the same stage of parenthood.  I doubt very that mom and dad could have imagined the legacy they would have to give to us so many years later.  I can't think about Yusuf and Nooriya so many years from now.  It isn't obvious to me the legacy Zahra and I will pass down to them, but I don't want to take it for granted that it will be so valuably documented as mom and dad have been able to do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flip book

Zahra and Yusuf went to a movie and Nooriya and I made our own movie/flip book

Friday, July 06, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Move on

Last week I was in a car accident and I just can't get past what did and didn't happen.  The accident happened in an instant, but it's weight on me has been lasting.  My mom and my brothers' two beautiful girls were in the car.  We are so fortunate the accident happened to be minor and most importantly that no one got hurt.

Still, I feel so responsible and I'm finding it a lot to bear.  I don't understand how my brothers have been so awesome and patient, making this a non-event in many ways.  And I don't understand how my dad's first reaction was, "Alhamdollilah, something bad DIDN'T happen". I'm hearing, "there was nothing you could have done; it's not your fault".  I believe that and comprehend that, but I just can't seem to internalize it. 

I'm hoping that writing this will help me process what happened and understand better what's never been in my control.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I both fear and hope that many of the wonderful memories I have of the last couple years since Yusuf and Nooriya have come will be replaced by lots of new ones.

For when that happens, there's one memory in particular I want to write down.  Nooriya still prefers to drink her milk in somebody's lap.  Usually it's me or Zahra.  Though it's less often that it's me now, and sometime in the near future she may not even want a lap.

She is full of energy all the time, but when she drinks her milk there is a few moments of stillness.  She focuses all her energy on holding your thumb.  She tries to put her thumbnail in between your thumb and thumbnail.  It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't feel nice either.  For some reason, Zahra likes it.  I am not sure why I let her do it.  But, I am sure I want to remember this.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I had no idea...

I've been writing this blog for long enough that I barely recognize the perspective that I used to have.  I wrote this 8 years ago about me palying with my then baby niece.  In in I wrote something suggesting I might understand and appreciate what it means to be a parent and love your kid.  I had no idea.  I've done lots of diapers and been there for pretty much everything that happens in the first 4 years.  I think I can appreciate what a person will do for their kids, though I'll probably look back at this post 8 years and roll my eyes just as much as I did  just now.

I love being able to glimpse the thoughts I had a long time ago.  I'm glad I've been writing these posts.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Early bird

A new morning routine has developed at home over the last couple weeks and it is awesome!  I've made my start a little earlier and at first I was waking up a little groggy, but my new morning is fantastic and well worth getting up early for. 

Every morning Nooriya wakes up and wants me to lie with her in my bed next to her and her Dora doll for a few minutes and she stays with me with me as I get ready for work.  I have very little privacy, but it is well worth it.  Yusuf then joins us and he sits with me while I do Quran.  After we're all (or most of us) are all changed the four of us have breakfast together.

Not to future me: don't mess with the mornings, this start makes my day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

There will come a day...

Today when I left for work Nooriya was in diapers and when I get home from work she won't be.  Potty training starts today.  A small part of me is feeling thrilled that I won't really have diapers in my life.

When Yusuf left diapers I remember being thrilled, we had half as much stuff to carry around and worry about.  It was so liberating.  One kid out of diapers, but we still had one in diapers.  We still had plenty of stuff left.  This time we're getting to almost no stuff to think about. 

On the whole, it'll be nice to not have to do diapers.  But I'm not thrilled; mostly, I'm kinda bummed today.  Today Nooriya starts to not need diapers and changing her diaper is just one less thing she needs from me.

Today diapers...Tomorrow?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ice Cream Cone

Today I sat across from Yusuf as he devoured an ice cream cone. Relative to him, it was giant and he finished it completely one lick at a time with ice cream all around his mouth when he was done. He says and does so many things that make me think of as older than he is. Watching him eat his ice cream cone was a reminder for me of how small he is and how much I still want to teach him.

I just got back from India and it was a wonderful trip. We made the trip on short notice and I remember deciding whether or not to make the trip about a week before. After coming back and thinking about the last ten days, I can't now understand what the hesitation was. I want to teach Yusuf and Nooriya to make decisions that they will feel good about and remember weeks, months and even years later...without so much hesitation.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Pretend Sleeping

The last few days have been stressful and made many times more stressful with Nooriya constantly screaming. She alternates between loud and very loud.

Yesterday started off like most days waking up very early to Nooriya screaming. After a whiny morning routine of changing clothes, brushing teeth and breakfast, we went upstairs where Nooriya tried to help folding the laundry.

This morning was different. She climbed onto my bed and under the covers. Lying down she's only about 1/5 the length of the bed so she's this tiny person in a giant bed. "Abba! Sleep, abba!" Ok, sure. I'd love to lie down actually, though I'm thinking to myself, "I would have loved some actual sleep a few hours ago."

Pretend sleeping ended up being a 45 minute game most of the time with Nooriya about 2 inches from my face. Every sentence she'd say would start and end with abba just to soften me up a little extra, "Abba, I'm standing abba". It was great; it melted away the stress of the last few days and was worth all the screaming. No actual sleeping though:)

Despite how hard it is sometimes, I love being home. I'm confident that I won't ever need reminding, but just in case...I love being home.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The last few weeks for me have been frustrating; Nooriya has been making her preference for Zahra known. Every day is, "I want MAMMI!" at various loud volumes and various stages of crying. And that's awesome; there isn't a single person in the world I would rather her want more than Zahra, including me.

Some days I just look at her and she runs to Zahra. She hasn't sat in my lap to drink milk in a long time. I try not to read into it; she's two. But I can't help feeling that she doesn't want me. She just prefers Zahra.

What the heck?! I make every effort to be around all the time; I have a low stress and low commitment job, I don't have or want "guy" plans, I don't really devote any energy to anything else. I am there for virtually all dinners, bathtimes, bedtime and we do everything as a family. What more can I do; it doesn't make sense to me.

Then yesterday. I was out with Yusuf for a few hours during her nap. When I came home, I was greeted at the door with Nooriya yelling, " I LUW YOU ABBA! I LUW YOU ABBA!" Not long later, she lied in my lap awake for about a half hour. It was as if she was just plugging into me and somehow sending to me a signal of how close she is to me. Message received. And this morning, she slept in and woke up after I left for work. When she woke up she was asking for me.

I hope to come back and read this when I'm frustrated. All the effort is so well worth it. I know there will be many times to come where I'm not on the top of her list. It's comforting to know that she can somehow connect with me and erase my frustration.