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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Play dates and friends

December 26th, 2010

So my lovely friend Wafa decides to make life easier for me and invites us over for her son's birthday (he turned 4!) on the day we were dreading spending all alone due to the impending snow storm/blizzard creeping towards the North East.

It was so exciting! The prospect of hanging out with my cool desi friend (plus some more!) and add to that her cooking and CAKE?! Are the lucky stars shining down on me at the end of this year or what? Armed with a gift (that was a snap to shop for by the way! Shopping for boys' clothes may be a pain in the butt, but much to my delight, I've discovered that shopping for toys for them is a fun filled snap.)

Iza's first question to me when I told her where we're going was "Who is Mus-tafa?"

Of course, when "Mustafa" opened the door she immediately shouted MU-FADA! So apparently, that's the only way she knows him and that's how he shall stay =)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Just like Eid is to Pakistan (and other Muslim countries), Christmas is to NYC. Some stores do the wild thing and stay open 24/7 for last minute shoppers, unaware that in a country far away, 24/7 shopping is the norm during Ramadan.

To me, the crowds in NYC are no different, the streets lit with holiday lighting none the brighter that what I grew up seeing in the streets of Karachi, Pakistan. In my own personal mind, when I'm in the middle of NY shoppers and tourists, I'm back in my country during Eid. Which is probably the real reason why I love Christmas time now so much.

We'd tried taking Monster to see the huge tree at Rockefeller Center twice before, once in 2008 and then in 2009. Both times, little miss Routine was fast asleep.

Above, 2008,

And here, again she's asleep on Wizard's back.

Finally this year, we saw her face light up brighter than the tree when she craned her neck upwards to taken in the giant!

We managed to show her the nutcrackers outside Radio City Hall in 2008 below:

But it was in 2010 she showed any interest in the giant-sized toys:

In spite of all that she does to make us tear our hair out and make Wizard go prematurely gray haired, I can't help but fall in love with her and every time she gives me this sweet big smile.

This girl is truly my little super Star!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last days in NYC

It had to happen one day, right? It is as if with every child you conceive, you are inviting a change in destiny. All that happens next is attached interminably with the destiny of the new person who you're bringing into the world.

We'll make the most of our time left in NYC, memories, pictures, Wizard's funny comments will all be immortalized here. One day we'll look back fondly at these entries.

Friday 24th, 2010

Playground at 14th Street Union Square

One of the reasons I have always loved NYC is that like us, numerous families bring their children out to play in the playgrounds despite freezing temperatures. The small apartments make it almost a necessity to step out and let the children run around in the cold air to let their wheeby jeebies out.

At the end of the day, we went down our list of most favorite snacks and food available only in NYC, and tonight we decided on paying a visit to *our* cupcake haven...Buttercup Bake Shop. Other people might prefer Magnolia, but we would never brave the lines.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why must I always...

...get obsessed with evil-natured food?

First it was these that resulted in the end of my continued affair with pre-pregnancy jeans into my sixth month of pregnancy. Now, Smitten Kitchen's beautiful pictures of Buckeyes lured me in in an new trap: chocolate coverd peanut butter balls.

Yes, I said that right. CHOCOLATE covered PEANUT BUTTER balls.

In what universe does that NOT capture everyone's every single waking moment of thought?

I should never have, never ever have gone to that page twice. The more I read it, the easier it seemed to accomplish.

Unfortunately, seeing them disappear is wreaking a havoc on my guilt system.

I present to you, the evil Buckeyes:

Yes, I'm perfectly aware they look a little...weird. I'm not good at dipping stuff, and who the hell cares when it's PEANUT freakin' BUTTER and CHOCOLATE?

You can find the recipe here, but beware and enter Smitten Kitchen at your own risk!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chickpea's first gift

This is the first thing we've bought for ChickPea yet! We're luckily covered for clothes (lots of gender neutral clothes that I never used for Monster because they were too....yellow or green, will finally come in handy). We're also good with newborn toys, cloth diapers and socks. Since there wasn't much to buy this time, I splurged on this amber necklace from Inspired by Finn.

These necklaces allegedly help with teething, colic and general discomforts of newborn babies. I'm eager to try and see if they really do make a difference. I'll be especially interested in how it affect the baby in the 6th month sporadic sleep period, during which Wizard and I had official joined the league of zombies when Monster was teething.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Warm Sweet Flashbacks

It's a typical Karachi winter night with just a slight chill in the air and the lights go out. The neighborhood is dipped in darkness during another power loadshedding planned by the city. At this time, another far away part of the city is washed in lights after their own few hours spent without power.

This is the time the neighborhood buzzes the most. The TV sets are off, the kids cannot do their homework anymore and the best thing to do is to hang out in the gardens, courtyards or verandahs of the houses. Each family probably has the same impromptu set up as we did in our home: chairs and tea tables are brought out and set up in a circle. The parents chat with each other and with the older children, while the younger kids run around in and out of the homes finding their pals in the dark.

This one of the fondest memories I have treasured from my home in Karachi, Pakistan. Long before the terrorism started, we'd never heard of shoot outs and the only gun I'd ever seen was a BB gun that we shot the feral rats with. Late into the night, or early hours of the morning depending on whether it was a weeknight or not, the children would run without fear as far as several blocks away from homebase.

If there was one thing that was successful in collecting all the AWOL children, it was the mong-phali waala, the peanut-seller. In pitch darkness, we'd hear his copper bell chiming, as he'd roll a rickity rectangular rairi , a largish flat bed cart, piled high with roasting peanuts and myriad sweets into the street.

Long before you hear the bell chiming, a few seconds before you can see the halo of lantern light near the corner at the end of the street, you can smell the fresh roasting peanuts. Our sudden calls to Abbu, Baba, Daddy, Ammi, Mom or mama for money are drowned by the mong-phali waala's now loudly chiming bell.

The women shout out their own requests "Aik rupay ki revri bhi lena!" "Mere liye chilli hui mong-phali!" as we sprint to the mong-phali waala, trying to get there before others and beat the crowd. Washed by the yellow light of the lantern, warmed by the slow roaster sitting on the rairi, you see all your pals waving money and being rewarded with steaming packets of peanuts, roasted corn or digging in immediately in the cones of candy being handed out. One of them, my favorite and that is all I'm here for. Gijjik! I may mix it with my sister's shelled peanuts order, and I know she won't want any of my Gijjik. Most of it ends up on the eater's clothes and hands, so kids are usually the only ones who truly appreciate the fluffy, flossy goodness.

Years later, having married into a new culture, I am pleasantly taken back to my childhood whenever I see Pismaniye, or Pashmak as the Iranians call it. A desi version of cotton candy, before machines started spinning colored bits of sugar into a cloud, we had Gijjik. Pulled sugar, often spikey where the sugar strands crystallized too much, was still a pleasure to pull with your fingers and carefully place in the mouth trying not to lose the powdery bits too much.

Pismaniye is the grown-up version of Gijjik! Sprinkled with pistachio powder, the pulled sugar is softer and finer than I remember. It's a light delicate taste that melts in your mouth almost as soon as it appears. Also known as Dragon's Beard to the Chinese, it is perhaps one of the most tangible, most available treasure keeper of memories most fond to me.

I've been having pismaniye on special occassions when we find it in a store and I wrote this for my friends and family to understand where my obsession for this otherwise ordinary sweet comes from. Those nights are special to me, as they preceeded all that happened in my life after: moving to a new neighborhood, losing my friends, growing up in a household rife with financial troubles and me a 12 year old suddenly realizing that I can understand what not having enough money means! Onwards to losing my father, losing so many loved ones as I am moved to a different city....on and on...and on goes my life.
Even in the darkest times in my life to come, dark nights like this, of running with friends and shelling roasted peanuts on an utterly dark night, always shined the brightest in my memories, and I was able to escape in my mind to that innocent oblivion. So when I keep talking about pismaniye, I hope my friends now know, what I'm really talking about in between my lines.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Forget a melon, I have the entire salad covered!

Each Friday, I receive a cute little email from Babycenter informing me that I have in my tummy anything from carrots, to avocados to this week's, spaghetti squash. Yes, the miracle I'm growing is beginning it's little life being compared to vegetables.

The spaghetti squash threw me for a few minutes as I tried to recall the size of this type of squash...I'd only seen it a few times at Whole Food's grocery section!

Well, I can't complain because to be fair, I myself have been calling it "our little chickpea" and plan on calling it a falafal when it's all done in March next year =)

Another little Ozturk is joining our team of Anne, Baba and Monster. I'm hoping I have someone who doesn't find it funny to disappear in a small living room within 5 seconds while only scooting backwards!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our third eye, or is it love?

I love my couch and it's well known so that Wizard doesn't really mind when at the end of a long day, I boss him around to fetch me things...often as random as my glasses or hand cream or Monster's library book.
Tonight, I'd just found a very comfortable spot and realized I'd left my iPad plugged in in the kitchen. Wizard was just in the kitchen but didn't reply when I called his name. I thought he didn't hear me so I didn't tell him anything, thinking I'll just send him back when he comes out. I hear him behind me and turn my head to ask him to get me my iPad and what do I see in his hands near me?

Oh yes. My iPad.

He snickered that he knows what I want before I want it.

And I simply fell a little more (as if that's possible) in love with him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Salma said it: Standars are like water

My sister occasionally produces these marvelous brain farts that can convey pretty deep messages if you can stop laughing for a few minutes. These need to be immortalized somewhere before she writes her own book and gets picked by the Oprah Book Club.

Her friends will really appreciate this =)

Today I confronted her that her standards are different for whenever it suits her and how come she can't make up her mind, she came up with this:

"It's like water, it gets stagnant if you don't change it often. Standards need to be changed so they don't get stagnant."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Wizard's Pearls of Wizdom

Veysi: Monster has body hair appearing on her legs!!!

Me: Yeah, so? She's half pakistani, what else did you expect?

Veysi: It's not from spicy food, right? She ate some today.

My poor hairy desi girl.

Monday, October 18, 2010

An emotional night for me

Granted, a lot of things make me emotional these days, this one is a gem.

Wizard and I have frequently talked about instilling Islamic values in our daughter and agree on most things except one: Hijab. I think Monster should wait till she's 16-17 years old to even consider covering up and personally, if she decides not to it wouldn't be an issue with me if she at least agrees on staying true to other qualities of hijab apart from covering the head.

That is the age when I took up the hijab and I'll admit, peer conformity may have played some role. Even at that age however, I made the conscious decision that if I'm going to adapt someone else's way of life, I'll make sure it's something better than what I'm used to. Every day with the hijab, I was aware that I had definitely traded up.

I can only hope, Monster makes those kind of friends at that ripe age who make her want to be better than she is...and not just socially but religiously as well. After all is said and done, it's the trust in HereAfter that will carry her through many a heartaches, let downs, and disappointments. If there is one thing I can leave my children with, is the knowledge and hope, that this life is only temporary and not half as important than the life that will begin at the end of this world.

There is a saying in Persian that goes Avval qawaish, baad dervesh. Practice begins at home. Tonight as I set the table, Wizard joined us late at the table because he was praying. Monster wanted to "pray" (her version of whispering into her little jaa-e-namaaz and kissing it for sajjdah) as well, so I promised her she can pray with me after dinner. She confirmed from me several times that I will pray too and settled into dinner.

After dinner, I made wud'u and she picked out a scarf for me to wear, then continued to dig for a scarf for herself. She told me to tuck it "under chin" and stood patiently while I wrapped the longish scarf around her. Then she told me the magic words.

"I look pretty!"

Sniff, yes you do my little heart!

Bonus funny:

After praying, she asked me to stuff one baby doll down her shirt and the other one to be wrapped on her back. I'm raising the next generation of Muslim Attached Parents:

Grilling saves dinner

I don't need to rub it in my own face, yeah, dinner is not my favorite activity. Eating? Yes. Cooking? Uh, not so much.

I try to get out of long cooking sessions as much as I can. I've even mastered the fine art of cooking intricate Pakistani dishes in batches done in morning, noon and night instead of all at once. Oh hell, I'll admit more: I skip at least 10-15 minutes of sauteing, frying and "Bhoon-ofying" of masalas at every step, so I can finish cooking quicker. So there really isn't any surprise that my dishes come out only half-assed lolz.

The one thing I love doing however, is grilling. Not the outdoorsy kind, just the electric kind. If we were to stay in US longer than mid-next-year as is in the cards right now, I'd go buy myself a fancier electric grill pronto.

Among grillable foods, my favorite and by far the yummiest is grilled chicken breast. I don't use any premade spices. All I use are freshly grated garlic cloves, a bit of salt and lemon juice. I oil the meat as it sits on the grill and recycle the drippings that collect in the grill tray.

I did this time though, use a bit of chicken tikka masala I got from Patel Brothers, and I think it might have come out better if I had used a lot more than I did. Monster ate the ones grilled without masala, mixed with white rice (her staple, of course), while Wizard and I made mini tacos with corn tortillas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

1. Use picture of a pink ribbon as your Facebook picture for a month.

2. Trend one tweet each day and quote a breast cancer statistic.

3. Dedicate a blog post to creating awareness about Breast Cancer and encourage readers to get mammograms regularly.

4. Start an email petition asking your address book friends to sign the petition once they've a. scheduled a mammogram, or b. talked to a mother, aunt of relative about scheduling a mammogram.

5. Start a text chain asking all the females on your contacts, "Did you have a mammogram this year?"

6. Promote breastfeeding by forwarding a link like the one included in this post to a pregnant friend whose researching her feeding options.

Share articles on your facebook, not where you leave your handbag. Even if you're serious about creating awareness and not repeating suggestive updates, the message does nothing to encourage women to get checked regularly. They do as they are told, laugh a little at the shock value and then go on with their day.

An article gets them thinking, hitting trackbacks, reading related stories, reading comments, commenting. THIS is awareness.

A study by Yale University researchers showed that women who breastfed for two years or longer reduced their risk of breast cancer by 50 percent.

Friday, October 8, 2010

From Lewin Farms, Long Island

Photographer Me
Camera Sony dsc h10
Natural light

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chivalry is so not dead in our home

Me: (faced for the first time with a can of coffee that needed a can opener to be opened) I really need an automatic can opener, so I can feel fancier

Wizard: Why? I'll open them all for you baby.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mothers of two or more, I respect you!

Talk about imminent nervous breakdown!

How do moms do it with two, three or oh my God three kids? How do you go shopping?

It's not the process of getting there, neither is it the hunger pangs, or Monster is past all that. We're well versed in the miracles of secret baggies of pretzel snacks procured right at the start of a tantrum. Its the happy moments that leave me tearing my hair out.

We decided a rainy Monday morning would be the perfect time to go shopping for winter clothe for Monster who has out grown all her clothes from three months ago. I knew it would be useless to even try to fit her in her last year's winter clothes (if I could actually remember where I stowed them in my cavernous one bedroom NYC apartment.)

Children's place was packed by people who obviously share great minds with us. I wish they'd also learn to spare personal space. I swear I may have unwittingly used this small lady as a step ladder a few times as she kept creeping Really? How many times do you want to get your feet crushed before you get the hint that maybe standing right behind me is not a good idea?

Then there is my unstillable spinning top who needed to try on the adorable jeans I found in her a few bagfuls of clothes. I managed to reduce the pile of try on clothes to save me the trouble of dancing around little restless. I was near tears anyway after the fiasco of trying on snow boots with no success even though they were a size up , until Wizard reached in and pulled out a wad of paper from the toes.

I had to park my bottom on the nasty floors to push, tug and yank clothes on and off little angle, who looked so adorable in every outfit that I needed to think long and hard about our financial situation to put back a few of the more expensive outfits.

After all the bloodless limbs, torn scarves and scratched faces (mine, each time Mknster decided to lean against my facial skin for support) , we came home with a decent enough addition to her wardrobe.

The purple hoodie top right was $4.99 and the green leggies just $2.99 on clearance. SCORE!

The darn snow boots with hidden compartments, and the ultra mod pink leopard skirt that was also on clearance for just 5 bucks!

I'm still looking for more jeans, tights and clothes to wear at home. Holding a clothing swap two weeks from now that I'm hoping lots of moms will bring 3T clothes to exchange. That should be interesting.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I knew this would happen

In the early years of our marriage, I used to go to a nearby Turkish cultural center to learn the language from a great teacher, Zafer. Our class had great chemistry and we looked forward to class after work/college every week. We missed each other during the off days so much that we forced Zafer to meet with us over the weekend as well. We'd study grammer and then wrap up the class over tea and snacks, sharing stories from each other's day.

Somewhere in between, guests would come and join us. There was one lady, a latina married to a Turk, and who also had a 18-19 year old half Latino/half Turk son. I don't remember much about the lady, but the kid was a piece of work! He spoke English well enough but when he started speaking Turkish, it was like a stand up routine. He'd only have to ask for another glass of tea and we'd be laughing ourselves out of our chairs. It had to do somewhat with the accent, a bit with the word placement and I bet now, a whole lot with him just milking his Turk-lish charm on us.

I told his mom, I bet when I have kids, they're going to talk just like him and that I couldn't wait!

Well, it's happened. I have a Turk-lish speaking child. Since she's still under three, the charm is natural and the mix ups for real. However, instead of enjoying it, I'm a bit concerned for her.

Tonight, as I was cuddling her and kissing the top of her head, she suddenly piped up "Kiss-may!"


And then she pushed me away laughing. Ok kiddo, I get it you don't want me to kiss you, but what did you just say?

Monster: Kiss-may!

Me to Wizard: Does she mean Opme? As in Turkish for don't kiss?

Wizard, always trying to come up with genius solutions: No, she's just saying "me" with a drawl.

Ummm...I don't really think that's what it is.

We can add another Turklish made up words to Dictionary of Monster. Her other Turklish phrases include:
Water-Su, Window kapat (close the window), sit burda (sit here), where is cocuk (where is the kid)among others.

I suppose I should just sit back and enjoy the show for now, and send her to good schools later. I'm additionally scratching plans of teaching her Urdu. That will just limit the pool of potential baby sitters that can speak the required languages to communicate with her

Almost Rainy Day

There have been so many of these that when there is a small break between pouring raining and flash flood warnings, we try to enjoy the short calm and let Monster roam free in a park.

Her last time in Lou Lodati a few days ago, she had her face painted for the first time. It was a perfect small, quick application by a nice lady that showed up with a kit and painted butterflies on all kids' faces.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kid: This is fun! Me: This is sad!

At Lou Lodati Park:

Some older kids deconstructed the barriers put up there to keep kids away from a particular corner of the park, and piled everything together to make a wobbly see-saw.

At first, they tried sitting on the ends, pushing each other up and giggling like innocents kids do. Monster was curious too and they even let her sit in the middle securely for a while. I felt such sympathy for these kids as they ooh'ed over the structure they rarely see in NYC playgrounds. I wished for a moment that the city would start including see-saws in the playgrounds again.

Then I immediately took my generous sympathies back when,

The kids literally started jumping off of the slab of wood using it like a diving board! A few times Monster barely got out of the way as the slab swung sideways because someone just pushed it without warning.

This is why city will never include see-saws in the playgrounds: Too many kids getting creative and breaking legs, too many lawsuits over a $100 piece of metal.

Times like these, I wonder how in the world were we such benign children! What are us moms eating now to produce such dare devil children? Or is the lack of opportunities to get hurt naturally making kids curious to test their boundaries?

Should there be a waiver of all rights when parents bring their children to a city park and let them play like we did in the old times? Would it be better for children to fall a few times, skin a knee or two and learn how to stay out of harm's way? Or should we continue over protecting our kids so much that they forget to look both ways when crossing a street?

The View from my napping place

Gantry Plaza, LIC September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mike Posner Makes us very happy

Waiting in the car is not something I tolerate well. As young couples, if Wizard took too long inside a shop while I waited outside, I used to spend time fantasizing about taking off and wondering what his face would look like when he can't find the car. I may have moved the car once or twice just to freak him out hehehe.

Waiting in the care with MONSTER is, how can I put it nicely, hell on my nerves. Nope there was no way around it, I have to be honest.

As she's getting more curious, it's a big big risk to let her entertain herself in the driver's seat. What with coins lying around, the car only a push button away from starting, a hand break we couldn't find for the first 5 minutes of leasing the car, there are a host of possibilities what she can do.

In an attempt to entertain myself while keeping her occupied, I desperately try to find her favorite songs on the radio and encourage her to dance so she keeps busy enough to not notice that the cd slot may be a great place to hide coins yikes, Nephew has already done it to my brother's car.

So who gets her attention these days?

Mike Posner You're Cooler Than Me

Ke$ha Take it Off

Enrique Iglesias I Like It

David Guetta Gettin' Over You

Eminem and Rihanna Love the Way you Lie

Selena Gomez Round and Round

among others.

What songs do your toddlers like, and if they are still only dancing to Barney and not interested in Pop, introduce them to some Brooklyn culture! It's all the rage!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Venture into URDU-land

Eid Mubarak my peeps! Did you all wake up at 3 am starving? No? It was just me then? Shucks!

Well, now Monster is up too, so at least I'm not alone forced to chat with myself. She going to be out of reach for at least another 25 minutes while she watches Curious George with her morning milk though, let me take this time to share what happened the first time I tried to teach Monster anatomy in Urdu.

I pulled out a Karen Katz book one day, determined to at least teach her a few more words in Urdu. She already responds correctly to idhar aao, haath ooper, and calls drinking water her paani-su (yes, it's half urdu, half turkish. Her name for water to play in is water-su).

We successfully talked about haath (hands), pair (feet), naak (nose), kaan (ears), munh (mouth) and then the motherload came...the belly button!

The belly button??? What the heck is a belly button in Urdu??? Soorakh? That's hole! Not very accurate. I can't teach her that there is a hole in her tummy!

So after a few painful seconds of delibration, I put on a big smile on my face and told her "That's yooourrrr......BELLY BUTTON!"

She can find this one out on her own.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is it my turn now?

Among Wizard's frequent urging for me to speak with Monster in Urdu more, and requesting certain Pakistani dishes, I think we are slowly bringing about a change in our family dynamics.

For the last 5 years, we've been mostly Turkish in all we did. Hung out at Turkish restaurants, with Turkish friends, ate Turkish breakfasts, most food I made was Turkish, even the way I dressed was predominantely in the Turkish trends.

Could it be that it's my turn to revert to my Pakistani roots, and Wizard is actually egging me on?

For example, a few instances of what has been cooking in our home recently:

Fruit Chaat
Dahi Phulkiyan!

Chicken curry with naan (that Wizard ACTUALLY ate!!!)
For those of you who don't know him personally, he's a wheat bulgur guy...through and through. Doesn't eat white rice, brown rice, pita bread, or naan of any kind.
I'd say that this Ramadan, we had parathas 98% of the time for sahoor! And tonight instead of Turkish tea, he ASKED for Rooh Afza... and had two glasses!
I have no idea what's going on in this man's head currently. I'm just riding it out and enjoying the now frequent trips to Patel Brothers =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Part deux of my Ramadan Resolution

Remember my resolution to do some charity work at the end of Ramadan? Now here is a way everyone can join me, whether you are or aren't from this flood affected country.

Pakistan's rural areas are currently in crisis with millions of people homeless and waiting for help, or living in crowded situations in relief camps. Helping them is very easy: Just prepare a box of supplies as directed by this video, and contact Pakistan's national airline PIA, on instructions on depositing the box. The airline has promised free shipping to all boxes prepared for flood victims.

Upon landing in Pakistan, the relief supplies will be handed to the Pakistan Army, the most trust worthy organization and the one with the best logistical means to reach all victims.

My only addition to the box would be a pack of sanitary napkins. It would be nice if you can wrap it in a plain paper with a picture of a woman on it, so they know what to do with it without embaressing the women as they open the care packages. (Rural women are extremely shy about this business.)

Contact me if you have any question regarding sending the packages and I'll try to start collecting all information.

Procedure of dropping care package at PIA Cargo building can be found at this page.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh just leave me alone!

I had an inkling that this would happen, me falling off my own bandwagon (or horse). It all started with that darn (good) pasta. I didn't fall totally off though, I just stopped eating.

It's just muesli, Joe's-O's and yogurt these days. I'm too sick to cook with my heart. Wizard needs food, so I whip something up for him now and then in large quantities, but I rarely touch it myself.

I tore intercostal muscles on my left rib during Karma Kids Yoga teacher training...on the second day. It sucked! I missed all these great games that the teachers kept helpfully reminding us to enjoy because we wouldn't be able to play games like the human conveyor belt, and human knot and group chair with kids.

Thank you so much for those words while I sat on the sidelines holding my poor ribs.

But, they were nice enough to invite me back to a refresher course a few weeks later and so when I heal, I can experiences the games training again.

While I'm trying to heal, one night Monster decides she needs to stay up all literally! ALL NIGHT! All night as in slept from 9.30 to 12 am and then up till sahoor and went to bed with us at 6.30am.

And of course, she HAS to jump on Anne's poor

Turns out, SHE'S GETTING SICK TOO! After a night of high fever, and thinking she's just teething, we took her to the doc anyway just to make sure (maybe parent's intuition?). She has the coxsackie virus (that I mentally pronounce to the tune of a much worse two-word adverb curse). Her poor mouth is full of lesions (that are now healing, Alhumdulillah) and blisters on her hands and feet.

PLUS, it's the last week of Ramadan, when I was planning on having my few friends over for iftaar in between the odd-nights of prayers.

As of now, Wizard is the only one unaffected. I'm considering giving him a big blue pinch just to make sure he suffers and doesn't get any sicker than that....Or else, who's going to take care of US?

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Silly Man

Wizard and I routinely sit down after sahoor and have random chats from dhikr to childhood memories etc.

Yesterday we realized that Monster's new bike will be delivered soon and we wondered how lucky she is that she's not even three and she got her first bike. He asked me when I had my first one. "I probably had a tricycle when I was around 4 I guess because I have clear first memories of riding around the driveway of the house I grew up in," I told him. "But my first real bike, a BMX, I got when I was 10...ish."

"Hmm, I got my first bike when..." Wizard pretended to think. "Wait, I never had a first bike! Cetin [Youngest BIL] got his when he was 4, and all of us three older brothers took turns riding it. Bedri [Older BIL] was 17 and he was forcing his body to fit the bike and managed to still ride it around while Cetin watched. I wonder why it didn't break right away!"

I was laughing so hard, I had stitches in my jaw and tears running down my eyes.

Then this morning, he managed to almost get me crying with laughter again.

We were talking about Julia Roberts getting older and I told him how she reportedly feels better about her age when she thinks that if she's getting older, Richard Gere is also getting even older! My sister shared this with me this piece of gem and yeah we decided (she and I) that we should look at more ancient people to feel better about ourselves getting older.

Wizard looks at me, amused and asks "So are you thinking that when you get old, I must be getting older?"

Uhh.....not really but...

"I'm like wine baby, I'll get better with age. You can't compare youself to me."

Oh man...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the 9th Day She Cheated

August 19, 2010
On her vegetarian diet, that is.

But tell me this, what living being can say no to this?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Topsy Turvy Thursday

*I think Topsy Turvy Tuesday sounds better. Next week!

I'm curious to see any comments from sisters fasting this year: If you had to pull off a non-breakfast Sahoor, and a non-dinner Iftaar (not including the traditional Ramadan snacks), how would you do it?

My first attempt would be to have some kind of protein and carbs in the morning, Goulash for instance with pasta, potatoes and meat and normal breakfast fare for iftaar--maybe some stuffed parathas (fried flat bread), omlettes etc.

Editted: There ARE pictures, man!

Wizard's bunch of left overs
My breakfast-for-dinner!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ramadan day 7

August 17, 2010: Stuffed Eggplant, patlican dolmasi.

I don't want to talk about it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What day is it?

No really, what day IS it?

I'm totally out of it. Just before iftaar, after preparing the food I laid down for a little rest. Before getting up, I sat up for a few seconds so the blood doesn't rush to my head when I stand up. I -stand up thinking I should be fine now and crash-bang into the dresser...blacked out.

Thankfully it only lasted a few seconds like all my black outs do...maybe it's not really a black out. Anywhooo...

Day 5 of Ramadan marked my birthday =) and I was lucky to have a great friend who offered to watch Monster while Wizard and I got dinner out at TJ Sushi (something he'd been craving for a long time.) So we kissed Monster bye and in the spirit of prancing out into the night sans toddler, forgot my camera at home.

I know!!! I kicked myself on your behalf.

Here is the extremely bad picture of an extremely delicious platter of TJ rolls... it's not often I pinch myself mid-bite to check to see if I've died and gone to heaven:

And me, after I took a long time to clean up to "appear" non-mom-like. Check out my huge earings.

Luckily, they're crochet and weightless. I haunted Etsy endlessly for something like these, and ended up finding them in a small shop in Newport, Rhode Island.

So, back to today and we're working on left overs from the last 5 days of Ramadan. Maybe I need to make this routine.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vegetarian funny

Don't remember who said it that being a vegetarian means eating only side dishes? lolz, cracks me up every time =D

Day 3 of Ramadan was nothing worth talking about. We had iftaar with friends at the Turkish Cultural Center in Queens. Everyone ate kebabs that smelled heavenly (except they AREN'T!) except me. I ate salads with the pilaav and cut my lip on a plastic spoon. Yes, you read it right the first time.

Today isn't any better. My blood pressure didn't improve and I felt dizzy most of the day. We ordered out but I managed to make this beauty of a salad. As most beautiful things go however, it only looked good.

Maybe I shouldn't share everything on this blog.

Ok readers, who are you to know when I'm lying? It tasted fantabulous.

I feel a little better.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 2- Chicken VS

2 down 27 to go: August 12, 2010

No pictures as food was the kind that is extremely yummy but very difficult to present: red beans and aaloo ki bhujjia. On the Wizard's plate was chicken karahi that came out pretty good (I ate the gravy, was that a cheat?)

I finally got to do my shopping and in the cart were:
Crisco for parathas the next morning
Extra firm tofu
Veggie patties
Vegan Waffles

I tried to find eggless-eggs but even at Trader Joe's they didn't carry any. So I'm glad to announce that I'm not obliged to give up eggs as they make a huge part of our breakfast. (Squeeee!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ramadan Day 1

1 down, 28 to go: August 11, 2010

Breakfast was a vegan fail. I forgot to get Crisco and couldn't make the breakfast I wanted. We couldn't go to Trader Joe's for my other vegan options. I had to bow down to the power of a bagel-egg and cheese sandwich.

Dinner was a success until I added a huge dollop of Ranch:


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Midnight ducks

August 8th, 2010: Sheepshead Bay, close to midnight

It's the simplest thing that inspires

August 7th, 2009: Imran bhai's home

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ramadan Resolutions

In just a few days, lives of Muslims all around the world will take a drastic turn. For a month, the followers of Islam will hold fasts for the love of Allah and all He commands. We will increase our efforts to do everything that is good and abstain from everything that does not become a Muslim.

This is how I always see my month in Ramadan. I want to do something special this year and would love to see more sisters and brothers join me in this effort. Here are my Ramadan Resolutions:

1. Abstain from meat, dairy and poultry for the entirety of the month. Not drinking water before or after eating, only sipping between bites. Also, no cold water.

2. Do dhikr every moment of quiet (when I'm not required to talk to other people). To facilitate this, and as a reminder I've already started wearing a tasbeeh in my right hand all the time.

3. No swearing, not even modified benign versions of my favorite curses. So, saying crap instead of $hit does not mean I've kept my promise. Instead of swearing, SMILE! It's very hard lolz, try it for a day!

4. Forgive everyone and everything, and ask for forgiveness in return. Let's not have any burdens of our earthly debts against our brothers and sisters. Insha Allah, once our heart is cleansed from grudges and negative thoughts and negativity against us, our prayers of forgiveness from God will be truly sincere.

What are your resolutions? Even if you aren't Muslim, would you would you "fast" by giving up something you love dearly? Or would you join me in the most charitable Ramadan Resolution yet?

5. For each day of the month, collect a can for a food pantry. At the end of the month, donate the 29 cans AND at least an hour from your day to volunteer at a soup kitchen or pantry.

I'm looking forward to reading what your Ramadan Resolution is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I must be crazy posting this

Word to the wise: if the kid is crying in the back seat, try not to console her from the front seat. Even for if it will only last a few minutes.

Possible outcome: A badly twisted sacral joint that needs immediate realignment and then days of recovery.

Which is how I'm finding myself unable to funtion beyond my apartment door, spending most time lying on my back on the floor and trying to entertain Monster from this position. Not being able to go out obviously means that TV has become the most reliable form of entertainment. Oh the horror of watching your toddler become a couch potatoe in front of your eyes!

In an effort to cut down on TV time, I'm trying someone today. Each half hour she watches a show she likes, she and I spend the next hour or so either recreating the story, dancing (mostly Monster) to the show tune and drawing pictures of what we watched.

My first attempt at drawing Angeline Ballerina. And my last:

I hope my mom doesn't see this and throw up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The "Mine is better than yours" debate

I'm watching this discussion on my neighborhood's listserv unfold these days regarding the parks in the neighborhood.
We have four parks in the Sunnyside-Woodside area that are most frequented by moms: Windmuller, Lou Lodati, Noonan, and the only private park in the Gardens.
It all happened when one naive mom admitted to having walked in the private park because there aren't always people checking membership at the gate. A flaming, ugly debate ensued with members calling the mom out for abusing the park policies. Members started singing praises and listing reasons why public parks are so horrible for the development of their children.
One phrase however, caught my attention and the debate became a thorn in my side haunting me even when I'm not reading the emails. The members' "sense of entitlement."
It's "their" park.
For me, the automatic second thought unsaid for the phrase is "it's not YOUR park." For the love of Goodness, is greenry and playground equipment customized for your DNA and therefore the paid park is better than the public park?
The other thing that started bugging me when people mentioned that Noonan Park is not enclosed and children can run out on the street. The reason being that I distinctly remember members of the park petitioning (even getting me to sign it, even though I don't even live nearby) to set up a traffic signal in front of the private park's entrance so that parents and children can cross safely.
So, it's worthwhile to spend time and energy to petition for something that benefits the few hundred members of the private park, yet not one mom ever considered petitioning to enclose the Noonan Park. Why? Because it's not YOUR park? Even my response email inquiring about petitioning for it went completely ignored.
There are just so many things that irritate my now with the private park that even though I would have joined had I lived closer before this discussion started, that I feel repulsed that members feel this "sense of entitlement" only because they're paying a fee of $395 a year. How come they don't feel a sense of entitlement to parks build from their tax dollars?
I am not planning on teaching my kids to treasure a sense of entitlement. Toddlers already have a skewed concept of ownership.

Zoom zoom Monster

Tuesday 27th, 2010: Lou Lodati Park; Monster works on her scooty skills

However, I can safely claim that I worked my spine into a hunch teaching her how to ride a scooty. When she got it down, she traded her "safe, wide" pink scooty for a zippier, more streamlined variety and took off (much to the dismay of the poor boy left holding on to hers).

Little Miss Diva

Monday 26th, 2010 at Lou Lodati Park: Accessories courtesy of Aerin and Samantha Z.

Lovebirds outside my window

Sun 25th, 2010