Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting Ready For....

Burning Man 2012!
I hope there isn't an age limit;
she would be crushed not being able to go!


G is for Gratitude; for whom and what I have.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012


Upon her request, we put on "all" her hair clips.
A real fun way to start the day; and the week.


E is to Enjoy; or at least try to.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One Toddler Show

Piano, Whistle and Excitement;
She even tried to sing but her mouth was full!
I was so impressed I left her a "tip;"
see the dollar bill on the paino?!

"Thank you, Thank you!"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eid Mubarak

...and it's over. Another month has begun. Ramadan will come again next year.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


"If you cannot take yourself to the ocean,
then bring the ocean to yourself."

That was the theme I started out with one morning when the heat index topped a 100.
JR and I started out with our plain blue wall, and worked our way to the ocean.
(Yes, I know penguins are cold weather creatures, but a girl can dream!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

when the sun goes down

the lights come on,

and JR comes out to play and,
end the day the way she loves best;

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

what remains of the trip to NH

the sight of a blue sky on a warm August day,

the sound of the waves rolling on a sandy beach,

and the smile of the most beautiful girl in the world.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Once a year, and for 29 or 30 days, Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan. During that time, they give up food and drink from sun-up to sun-down. And while this is the easiest way to describe what Muslims do during that month, that is not what its all about.

Ramadan is about community, about faith, about piety. It is about caring, sharing and recognising. It is about asking for forgiveness, forgiving, forgetting, and remembering. It is about forgiving those who have done you wrong, and forgetting the wrongs that have been done. It is about remembering Allah and his graces and asking Him for forgiveness. It is about coming together with those you love and sharing a meal, a prayer, an evening, a celebration.

In Lebanon, Ramadan was always a big deal. We, my cousins and I, looked forward to it all year, and the night before it was expected to be confirmed, we stayed up late to be the first to hear the confirmation. We also stayed up late to eat! For as kids, and later as adults, part of the celebration of the month lay in our having an excuse for a late night, or early morning meal. We would get up before the sun, to the sounds of the drummer boy, calling us to our Sohoor. How sad we would be when we would sleep through it, our parents not waking us up, and miss our chance to have a glass of milk and a labneh sandwich before brushing our teeth and heading back under the covers. Sometimes, all we wanted was a cup of water, but that was enough of an excuse to get up. As we grew older and our ability to withhold hunger got stronger, we started preferring sleep to its interruption and ate our last meal of the day as close to bedtime as possible only waking up for a gulp of water from the bottle sitting besides the bed. Now that the sounds of the drummer boy are part of my past, I find myself wishing I had continued waking up to his tune.

The first day of fasting was always the most difficult. We would try to keep ourselves as occupied as possible to make the day go by faster. But alas, those last few minutes were the worst. Sitting at the Iftar table, listening to Koran and waiting for the canon to blast, the minutes seemed to drag and drag. Food was calling, sight and smell; it was sheer temptation.

As kids, I remember we were first allowed to fast "half" days, missing breakfast and then eating at lunch. Then, it was missing breakfast and lunch and enjoying dinner with the family. That brought on being allowed to fast on non-school days. Finally, when we reached puberty we were "adults" and could stay the whole day without food. That was a year worth celebrating, for that year we could flaunt our fasting at school and hold ourselves "higher" than our non-fasting friends. It was an honor and a priviledge to be able to fast during school days, and we were living it up. Our biggest victory those days was when our non-fasting friends would dangle our favorite chocolate infront of us in an attempt to break our will and and have us take a bite and we would hold on tight to our fast and not fall for their tricks. It was mean, when you look back at it, but we were kids, and kids do these things. And, we did not care. We would even sit down at the same table for lunch with them at times and just look the other way, or distract ourselves with conversation.

At times, though, hunger got the best of us and we would "forget" that we were fasting. But as soon as the first taste of food hits our tongue, we would get jolted back to reality. There was one such instance that I can still clearly see in my mind's eye. My cousins and I were at a karate tournament in which they were taking part. After it was done, the organisers passed around with juice and cookie. Who can refuse juice and cookies! So I helped myself to some completely forgetting that there are still many hours to go before I could officially eat. I take a bite and only after I had taken a sip of my juice did I remember, then was reminded again by my cousins, that I was fasting. Oh, the disappointment. I was devastated. Of course I could have moved on and continued fasting, as forgetfulness is forgiven, but I was made to feel so bad that I decided to just take my shame and break my fast early. My cousins continued to tease me about it all that day.

The last day of Ramadan was also the toughest, for you never really knew when the last day was. Just like its onset, its ending has to be confirmed by the sighting of the new moon. And often times we were deceived, hoping for a holiday and a day - or rather three - off from school, and in later years work, only to wake up the next morning and learn that it is still Ramadan. Or, finish our homework the night before only to find out that school is out and that we could have spent our afternoon doing something else, like playing. But Ramadan does end one day and the morning that follows is one of great celebration and many feasts.

For us, it meant a big breakfast and a late lunch at my maternal grandmother's house. These two meals were punctuated with numerous family visits, and equal amounts of eating maamoul. The day began with the phone ringing off the hook, with people competing to be the first to call to furnish Eid greetings, usually waking us up from our restful slumber. As kids, though, we did not mind too much as the excitement was contagious. But as sleeping in became more of a luxury as adults, we started dreading the wake-up calls, and I, for one, started unhooking my phone from the socket.

The visits were typically divided into his and her families. One got to be visited on the first day of the Eid while the other got the second. The following year, the arrangement rotated. The visits were short, ranging between 15 minutes and half an hour; there were so many houses to call upon and not enough time, so we had to keep them short. Of course by the time coffee was ready and the sweets were brought out, it wa time to pick up and leave. As kids, we did not get much time to play as we had to sit with the adults and "make" conversation. But later as teenagers, the brevity of the visits was appreciated; we wanted to move them along to hang out with our friends. By the time we made it to Eid lunch we were so full of maamoul that we had to force ourselves to eat real food.

The third, and last day, of the Eid was reserved for the immediate family. Our parents would take us out to a quiet family lunch and at times amusement park. We would spend the afternoon at home waiting for visitors to knock on our door in their turn. These visitors were usually non-family members.

Not only was the Eid decorated with food and family, there was also the fun attached. The fireworks we were allowed to play with, the new clothes and shoes, and the Eid money. While some families exchange gifts for the Eid, in our family the tradition was to hand out money. That money was then either saved or spent; in my case it was always saved, or rather my  parents used to save it! When our reluctance to get dressed and go on these faily visits set in, our parents would use the money as the "carrot" to make us move. Collecting the money was one part of the tradition, comparing who had "made" more at the end of the day was the other. The cousins would huddle and start counting; when we were too young to count, we would compare the colors of the different notes. Fun times!

Then, the Eid would end, and life would go back to normal. The new clothes can now be worn every day, the fireworks would have to be put away, and sweets would go back to being reserved for special occasions. Fasting would have to wait for another year, and school out would have to wait for another holiday, of which there are many in Lebanon.

In the US, for me, Ramadan comes and goes without much fanfare. Every year I spend it in the US I feel like it is slipping farther and farther away from me. My family is far, and my community is non-existent. Even those same friends who used to celebrate it with me in Lebanon seem to be engrossed in other things and forget to bestow their wishes for the month upon me. It is hard being alone during such a holy month and very difficult to make it through on your own. But I push through it and try not to "take it personal" when my friends forget about the Eid and don't ask me how Ramadan is going. I do not make elaborate meals, and often the Eid slips by like any other day. The only reminder that this month is different than any other is my family in Lebanon, and my duty towards them to remember it and towards myself to honor it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

At the port

Now we are in Portsmouth, NH.
Will be back on Monday.
See you next week.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Now and Then

Those of you who know me, know my obsession with potty training. But for those of you who are new to my blog, here is a quick insider look;
  • I started potty training JR when she was around 7 months old.
  • I kept a potty spreadsheet to track our "hits" and "misses."
  • She was completely potty trained during the day, at home and elsewhere, by the time she was 18 months old.
  • She has not slept in diapers at night since last April, although we do run into accidents.
  • The last pack of diapers I bought was from that same month. We are still working through using it up.

Knowing this about me, it should not come as a huge surprise that all I decided to bring back from "the palace" at Colonial Williamsburg were photos of the potties. Below is a side-by-side visual of how some things don't change! 

Now: Ceramic, stationary toilet with a fixed bowl.
Then: Wooden, mobile toilet with a removable bowl.

Now: Plastic, with a removable bowl.
Then: Ceramic, mobile bed pan.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

with child

It is easy to find "handicap" parking. And, there is almost always a spot reserved for "expectant mothers." But how often do you run into a child-friendly parking lot?
Me, not that often. So when we pulled into the Harris Teeter parking lot in Williamsburg I made sure I parked under this sign. After all, I do not know when I will be able to do it again!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Seconds at Second Street

Little did I know that the best thing about our time in Williamsburg was going to be our meals at Second Street. I am usually not a fan of eating out at restaurants, so when we go on vaccations my top concern is usually where we will be eating and what we will be eating. While our first lunch of the trip was a little bit of a disappointment, we more than made up for it by finding this American bistro.

Not only was the atmosphere welcoming and family friendly, the staff was great. The bonus; the food was simply delicious. Actually the food was so good, we ended up eating all of our vacation mealss there; two dinners and one lunch! My favorite off the menu was the Grilled Romaine Salad; never has a salad from a place other than my kitchen tasted so good. I had for both Sunday night and Monday night's dinners, and that was all I ordered. The salad was so big I could hardly finish it, especially when you think of how I filled up on the freshly baked bread dipped in fruity olive oil that arrived right before our entrees. Did I mention the price was right, too? That was a double bonus. At the end of the meal you walked back to your car through the smells of freshly baked cookies and got treated to bite sized samples.

So while Colonial Williamsburg itself did not leave an unforgettable mark on me, I am going to miss my meals at Second Street. It is too bad that we live two and a half hours away. Or maybe it is just as well, because otherwise they would have had to name a table, or two, after me!

This is what the salad looked like coming out of the kitchen.

Half-way through devouring it.

"All gone," as JR would put it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gone back in history

That's right. We have gone back in history to Colonial Williamsburg and will be back on Tuesday. Catch up with us then.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Those of you who are following my blog know my new obsession with "splashing in puddles."
If you are new to my blog, you can read out here, and here.
But even after two excursions,
we both needed more practice to increase our levels of "messiness toleration."
This is from our most recent ecpedition.

Friday, August 3, 2012

He got me flowers...

... and that is all that matters.
It didn't hurt that they were our favorite; the calla lilies of our wedding.

friday favorite things | finding joy

Thursday, August 2, 2012


On a hot August afternoon, the ladies, and their "friends," caught up over a game of Scrabble. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2012

Today it is August, and for me what seems to be the hottest month of the year. With the heat outside and the duties inside, I need a little of a break; we all do.

Coincidentally, I came across a new blog today that gave me an "excuse" to take a break from blogging; Susannah Conway's August Break 2012. During this break, I will try to post a picture each (week)day in August. I will caption the photos, or not.

This seems like the perfect way to spend August on my blog, since I am too tired most of these days to blog anyway.

I hope you will join me on this photo journey.