Birthday Girl

Out in the parenting wilderness, wandering by design, sometimes happily lost, there is no shortage of moments worth recording.  But then it’s snack time, and someone needs a hug, the dishes pile up, 6 baskets of laundry getting dug through for clean clothes (“Mama I don’t have ANY UNDERWEAR!”), and we need to paint and draw (“Mama I drew with my cheese stick!  Cheese can DRAW!”) and glue and sticker and get out the door before it’s snack time again.


chalk on windows is nice…and I hear that cheese draws on windows, too….


Laila self portrait in cheese and chalk


Transmission from the wilderness:


Laila turned 4.  She is 4 years old and now she says things like, “I can do it because I am big.  I am strong and I can do anything” and she names her stuffed animals funny things like “Unigrape” (a purple floppy unicorn) and “Ponycorn” (another unicorn).  She also wants her hair pulled back in “pones” (her slang for the traditional pony tail).


birthday gift: a costume I made her for her birthday from a dress we found on consignment. I “bejewled” it for her, made the headband with feathers from a craft store, and put a big brooch on a chain for the necklace. She wore this to school


on this particular day, she wanted her hair to look like “kitty ears” for school. Mama was more than happy to try and oblige!


Her birthday party is yet to come, but her smaller family celebration on the day of her birthday included making a cake to her specifications:  a vanilla, chocolate chip, raspberry, strawberry cake with sparkly candles.


Gluten free, dairy free, grain free, maple syrup sweetened awesomeness.

Laila is someone I am both in awe of and feel fiercly compelled to protect.  People say she has such a “spark”.


self portrait

Her spark is a raging fire of creativity, daring physical feats, self confident leaps in development and very soft, very vulnerable, very sweet little girl moments of light and love and asking the big questions.


dressed for a tea party with her dog, “Chica”

Her huge blue eyes shine from the moment she wakes up, and she always has a plan for something great to happen.  Every day.


birthday breakfast of buckwheat pancakes in the shape of Minnie Mouse… close enough…

Oh, she just woke up and joined me!  Here is Laila right this minute, fresh out of bed:

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see what I mean?

What I know is she will do great things, she has the power to be a force for good in the world, she will be brilliant and I want to hold her in my lap, in my arms, for as long as she will let me.  After that, I want to give her a boost to any height she needs help reaching and hope that she will always know I love her.  I love her endlessly.


Yoga, Mama?

I have been meditation more and more consistently than I ever have before in my life. 2 times a day.  It is amazing the difference it makes in my day.  My mental image is that in those 20 minutes of meditation, my surface mind begins to sink into deeper layers of mind that are always talking in the background.  Then those layers get heavy and they sink with the surface mind even deeper, to a level where things that need to be repaired, renewed are circulating.  And in that silence, the renewal happens to whatever degree it happens.

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us this morning. right now.

How to do this with 2 kids has not been easy.  I get up before them (5am) and I sit beside them as they fall asleep.  In those 2 spaces, there is enough time and quiet to meditate.

the beach! and yoga revelation


At the end of August we headed to the beach!

We were really lucky because F has family who own a beach house, and as it wasn’t being rented for a few days they generously offered it to us to stay in.

So we packed up the car and hit the road.




Our kids had been to the beach once or twice when they were too little to remember the experience, and too tender to spend any time in the sand and sun.  But this time…we had a blast!

The house was close enough to walk to the beach each morning (and afternoon and evening)


enough with this walking, mama…let’s GO!


I managed to capture the look on S’s face when he saw the ocean


I’m pretty sure Laila didn’t stop to gaze at the ocean.  She was feeling it’s pull in her entire being and knew she’d love it.  Why stop to gaze?


There is something so blissful about being in an endlessly beautiful place where everything is an experience for your senses.  I found myself completely letting go of any agenda, and just enjoying my family and the sounds and smells and feel of the beach.


My little ones were instantly happy and completely engrossed.





The water was cold and fizzy, and Sufyan expanded his view of the ocean to include SUPER FUN.  It used to make him the teensiest bit nervous, but he conquered that nervousness this trip.






And Laila had to be reigned in or she would have been swimming out to see boats, dolphins, and the mermaids she was sure were there.




And then there was the “alone time” we planned for S and L.  This is the time when they get a parent by themselves for some one on one time.  I took S to the boardwalk and the only thing on his mind from the moment we parked our car was sugar.  He wanted a treat.  Now, I have nothing against a treat.  But I do have to help narrow down the elaborate sugar-filled plans my kids dream up at treat time.  So S had a choice:  ice cream or a piece of candy.  Not both.  And in order to pick we went to see a candy store.  Here he is deep in thought about his choices:


I confess I was hoping he would choose the ice cream, especially after seeing the stale piles of beach boardwalk bulk candy at the store.


It was depressing, actually, seeing the stacks of Hello Kittys and ancient gummy worms, the faded looking sweet tarts.  And the smell:  sugar and air conditioning.  We were the only customers and the young adult behind the counter barely looked up from her texting.  At any rate, S had a choice and he chose….



In the evenings and at rest time the beach house was stocked with games and crayons enough to keep everyone busy.

IMG_7017      IMG_7018

THANK YOU so much to our family who made this possible.  My kids ask me all the time when we can go back!  We needed this.


Yoga, Mama?

As I was practicing yesterday morning, I had a little a-ha moment.  It was this:

I am whole. (*deep breath*)


(image from this site)

It had been a while since my last practice because I have been focusing on using my elliptical machine and a seated pranayama practice.  My health challenges had led me to need some more vigorous exercise and I hadn’t yet found a way to do yoga asana, pranayama, meditation AND elliptical.  More on the elliptical later.  So anyway, there I was practicing yoga when all of a sudden a little veil dropped.

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I have been so focused on the kids’ needs (using my heart and brain to parent), and my newest health challenges (using my energy and time to research, get to doctor appointments, and mentally noting all the various ways my symptoms of breathing challenges are occurring) and growing as a part of my yoga studio (using my body to teach, using my time to connect to my fellow teachers) that I had started to feel like a bunch of compartments.  This one for mom, this one for teacher, this one for patient, this one for partner, this one for running the house…

I had become a divided person in my quest to do all I feel I need to do.  But what is really important?  Love.  Becoming more and more centered in my highest self.  Keeping the inner gaze focused even if the laundry piles up and the doctors need to see me and I am feeling the body as limited.

Moving with the breath, the breath moving me, the breath quieting my mind, the asana opening pranic channels, the mantra tuning my heart to my highest values and suddenly I was whole again.  It was nothing short of amazing.  A revelatory kind of amazing.

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*remember to breathe, mama*

reasons to be happy

1.  You.

Thank you so much!  Within a couple of hours of publishing the last post, Hope for Sophie, this site drove over 30 visitors to Sophie’s campaign and raised over $1600.  The campaign to help Sophie now has a very sweet little video of Sophie’s family, but be warned:  have tissue nearby.

So thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you to all of you who donated, posted, and sent sweet Sophie some love.  You can know for certain you are making a difference.

Today Sophie starts her first round of intravenous chemotherapy.  We are all anxious to know she has gotten through it and is handling it as well as can be expected.  Please continue to hold Sophie and her family in your thoughts and prayers as she gets through this day and the next 3 days of chemo.

2. Silly Holiday socks.  The kids insist on wearing these socks and if they are in the wash I have to really beg/plead  negotiate some other socks onto their feet.


3. Laila discovering a love of horses




(if you have an equestrian background–Hi Shoes!–you might be able to tell by the horse’s body language that the horse had long since discovered a disdain for being a county fair, $5-a-ride horse, a feeling she showed us by trying to knock Laila off her back with some fancy footwork.)

4. Holiday projects with my sweet kiddos

snowmen.  don't laugh.

snowmen.  don’t laugh.

If you are the type to snicker at children’s crafts (it takes one to know one) go here: crappy children’s artwork.

we also made some really heavy ornaments ala Play At Home Mom






5. Office Christmas party (yes, unbelievably, I’m thankful for that.)

We were (awkwardly) the only couple with kids at Faris’ office party.  But it was a reason to get the kids dressed up and out in Christmas lights at night.  Without it I might have been sitting home in PJs folding laundry—which actually isn’t such a bad night, either.  Anyway, Laila and I scored on her dress.

Laila's dress!  Found this Lily Pulitzer dress at a local used shop.  It has a real bell on the dog's collar and is now in heavy rotation at our house as dinner wear, park wear, and even pajamas.  That's how much she loves it.

Found this red velvet Lily Pulitzer dress at a consignment shop. It has a real bell on the dog’s collar and is now in heavy rotation at our house as dinner wear, park wear, and even pajamas. That’s how much she loves it.

playing Simon Says at the office party to keep them entertained.  The party was unfortunately at a full bar room in a seafood restaurant with no dessert.  AND they were the only kids there...

playing Simon Says at the office party to keep them entertained. The party was in a room that was empty save for table and a full bar. It was a seafood restaurant with no dessert.  AND they were the only kids there…but we still had fun.

Laila and Baba at the party.

Laila and Baba at the party.

Baba and Mama, a photo taken by Sufyan.  This may well be the only photo of us together for that last 5 years.

Baba and Mama at the party.  Photo taken by Sufyan. This may well be the only photo of us together without a child on our laps in the last 5 years.

after the party we walked to our car through the old town streets which were decorated with Christmas lights

shop windows lit with Christmas decor...and pin up girls.  Sufyan loves the lights.

shop windows lit for nighttime window shopping.  Sufyan loves the lights.


Laila was super excited to find a Santa, but Sufyan…


…Sufyan was super excited to find buttons. Have I mentioned that he likes buttons? Let me put it this way: I have to pre-negotiate walking past a drinking fountain because if I don’t he will get absorbed in pushing the one single button on the fountain over and over and we will have trouble moving on.

tired girl and the christmas lights

tired girl and the christmas lights

6. This funny bumper sticker


“I’m speeding because I have to poop.”

Juvenile, I know.  But it cracked me up.  There I was, driving with 2 grumpy children to an errand that I knew would only end with more grumpiness but which I could no longer ignore and lo!  A poop joke.  Thank you, universe.

Parenting Thought for Today:  on buttons


Sufyan and Laila are as different as night and day.  They are also both so different from us, their parents.  Good so far, right?  And I agree.  I learned early on in this parenting gig that kids come to us as whole people.  Guidance they need, but a pure blank slate they are not.

Still, how to explain the following:

Sufyan has a predilection for buttons. It is a focus for him such that I have to plan ahead if we are going to be in the vicinity of anything button-like.  Examples include drinking fountains, the electronics aisle at Target (plan an extra 15 minutes if we are going to be near it), the credit card machine at checkout, baby and preschooler toys, and elevators.


playing with a Goodwill find. A button phone!

Baby toys have alot of buttons, in case you hadn’t noticed (think toy pianos, toy keyless entry for cars, toy phones, etc) while little kid toys for age 5 focus on building skills and dexterity.  Yet Sufyan will always choose any toy with buttons over any other activity (except reading), no matter how mundane or if it was designed for newborns.  Buttons rule.

Typical Mama & Sufyan conversation:

Me:  I have a surprise for you!  Come see!

S:  Is it BUTTONS?

Me:  no…it’s chocolate. 

S:  (disappointed) oh. 

Or while watching a friend open b-day gifts

S:  (jumping up and down) IS IT BUTTONS???

friend opens gift of a puzzle.  Starts on next gift.

S:  (jumping up and down) IS IT BUTTONS???

friend opens gift of a make your own dinosaur kit.  Starts on next gift.

S:  (jumping up and down) IS IT BUTTONS???

Buttons.  My friend Jenna used to call him the “Button Boy” when we lived across from each other for the first 2 years of his life.  By 10 months old, Button Boy could operate my iPhone to the extent that he could unlock it, scroll through the screens to find his applications, and choose an application to play.

Sufyan will even daydream about buttons.  If I tell him an “Alice Mouse” story (which I make up and tell at dinner, or sometimes at bedtime), his favorite will be the one where Alice finds a panel of buttons to push and each does something different.  He will get this look on his face.  A look of pure, unadulterated joy.  BUTTONS.

I can’t explain it.  I can’t worry about it (because I know many of you are thinking of the Autism scale).  It’s just him.  It’s Sufyan and I love him for it.  At least we know what to get him for his b-day…I’ll just shop the electronics aisle at Goodwill.

Yoga Thought for Today:  on Cosmic Kids Yoga

yoga rest time

yoga nap.

Since Sufyan has been logging an average of 2 hours a day reading (often more) we have begun to mandate a yoga practice at our home every day to get him some physical activity.  Laila is so physical and active that the yoga is just more of the fun she’s already having.

This practice is short, and it’s kind of chaotic from an adult perspective of what makes for a good yoga practice, but my kids LOVE it.
Just thought I’d share: