Sunday, July 25, 2010


Thank you to everyone who kept me company for the past nine weeks as I tripped and stumbled along the blogosphere. It has truly been an eye-opening and at times therapeutic experience. When I wasn’t busy trying to document my own dribble it was fascinating to read the work of my peers. The question remains if I (or any of us) will continue to blog. And I sincerely hope we do but not at the cost of our vibrant lives.

"My life has been the poem I would have writ,
But I could not both live and utter it."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

56 Days and Counting

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pack Like an Egyptian

Yesterday, we happily decided it is time to head back to Egypt for a few weeks. Next month.
That means we have just a little over 30 days to:

  • Apply for and receive Siraj’s passport
  • Obtain travel visas for myself, Ismaeel, and Siraj
  • Double check everyone’s status re: travel shots
  • Review travel advice for Ismaeel & Siraj
  • Buy weather appropriate travel clothing and shoes for everyone
  • Buy enough formula, organic baby food, diapers, Pull-Ups, and wipes to last the entire trip
  • Buy a travel crib for Siraj and a portable DVD player for Ismaeel
  • Transition projects at work
  • Remove the old photos from my SD Card
  • Wax nostalgic about the wide angle lens for my camera that I still didn't buy
  • Upgrade our mobile data plans to allow for international roaming
  • Get Ismaeel one last haircut before we go
  • Pack, pack, and pack
As usual, it will be a hectic month ahead and I am considerably daunted to travel with a busy toddler and mobile infant but know that our family vacation is long overdue. We miss having breakfast together in our Cairo apartment and are already counting down the days until we can introduce little Siraj to all of his Egyptian family.
Wish us luck for a safe and sane flight!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

There is Such a Thing as Free Ice Cream

(Photo courtesy of anna29maria)

One of the many perks of living in NYC includes today’s serendipitous sighting of the Coach-branded Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Truck at the corner of West Broadway and Prince Street. To promote the Coach Poppy Collection, the fashionably dressed trucks are offering gratis ice cream near flagship stores during 12pm-9pm thru July 25th. If I weren’t already fasting, I would have loved to grab an exclusive taste of Glam Cherry but it was still refreshing to watch my husband and Ismaeel enjoy their cones of chocolate on yet another long hot afternoon in Soho.

Thank you. You have no idea how much my boys needed this today. If my husband's fondly remembered but still sadly stolen limited edition watch hasn’t already told you; we are sincerely big fans. Consider a new wallet and pair of sunglasses to be in my near future.

Van Leeuwen,
I think you already know what you mean to us. We'll never wish that we could quit you... xoxoxo

Bite This

("Happy teeth, when your smiling" by Anthony Falbo)

The incisors are here! After suffering with swollen gums for the past few months, Baby Siraj finally woke up with two little jagged edges of white enamel as his official debut into the biting and chewing world.

Congratulations Siraj!

I spend a lot of time thinking about teeth. I have my own tea-stained set to clean and every once in a while, worry about grinding them which, of course, only causes me to gnarl and gnash them even more. Each morning and night, I help Ismaeel to brush his and plead with him to please stop eating the paste. And for little Siraj, I have been keeping frozen teething rings and biscuits at the ready fervently wondering when his will come.

So far, perfectly normal, right? Not quite. Something about teeth really freaks me out so these daily little moments of dental hygiene are just gateways to a casually obsessive netherworld of teeth neurosis. I am grateful that I had a cavity-free childhood but after a cleft palate repair, two teenage stints with braces, and a root canal (related not to an infected tooth but an unexplained abscess in my cheek bone) – I prefer to minimize the frequency of professional hands in my mouth. While it is not full on odontophobia, a dream about teeth breaking or falling out will haunt me for weeks. I find the idea of porcelain veneers, teeth jewelry, and custom hand-painted teeth tattoos horrifying. And don’t even get me started on knuckle dusters with three human teeth. Seriously.

I don’t really think I am alone. And even if I am, at least I can embrace my shortcomings and know I can never become a dentist. In the meantime, it is a delight to see Siraj bobbing up and down with his little twofers covered in droll.

I just pray I don’t spend the next few weeks having nightmares about my own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sick Daze

I felt it brewing yesterday but tried to ignore it. Today, there is no denying it. A good ol’ fashioned summer fever and sinus infection have reacquainted me with despair and fatigue. Oh, if only I could embrace them.

For now, I’ll just let the room spin and my head throb to its own delirious beat. Until… Siraj cries himself awake, needing a clean diaper, and hungry for food. I ignore the pulsating sunlight and hold onto him while I stabilize myself against the side of his crib. Sometimes, if I am quiet and don’t turn on too many lights while I tend to him - he will promptly fall back to sleep. However, this soon became not one of those quiet dawns when Ismaeel cheerfully bellowed his own good mornings and urgent requests for apple juice and a cereal bar. Still in potty training reinforcement mode, I take Ismaeel to the bathroom while also holding Siraj. I am using all of my available energy to not fall down. Maybe I can use one of my lazy-no-good-mother cards and turn on the TV for them while I sneak back to bed. But this is Monday. There is no such thing as mercy.

I soon start packing and ironing all of our requisite items but the thought of coordinating pants and trouser socks for myself nearly put me over the edge. If nothing else, today is a flip-flop day. I email a note about my absence from work and finish packing the boys along their merry way. My husband touches my forehead confirming my (starting to slightly taper off) fever while Siraj and Ismaeel look bewildered that such a state prevents me from going with them. I wave my (still dizzy) goodbyes as they get into the elevator and bask in the quiet until I open my eyes and see the horror that used to be our home.

More cereal bar crumbs than usual have found their way into the fibers of our living room carpet. Apple juice and fingerprints have made an eerie and opaque fog on our glass coffee table. There are toys (that I didn’t even know the boys had) spilled throughout the floor. The kitchen counter is overflowing with pantry items that we bought over the weekend but didn’t yet put away. And most frightening of all, is the backlog of laundry (in desperate need of pre-treating) that might just swallow me alive.

I desperately wanted to sleep but knew the mess around me would only find a way to multiple during my slumber. And so, I started the laundry, scooped up the toys, sprinkled the carpets with deodorizer, wiped the table clean, and tackled the kitchen cupboards. In order to make space I needed to get rid of the older items in the back of the cabinets. I found myself throwing out more than a couple of boxes of expired brownie and cake mixes. Feeling like an inadequate and failed baker, I soon found myself trying to compensate by making a quick batch of orange halal jello for Ismaeel.

Somewhere throughout the day, the house got cleaned, I got showered, some schoolwork was finished, the boys were picked up from daycare, and I head out to my last class of the summer semester. My eyes are still bleary, it is nearly impossible to speak without coughing, and my whole body aches. What really bothers me most is wondering just when exactly is a good time to start taking care of myself.

For now, the answer seems to remain - not quite yet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

49 Days and Counting

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

("Watermelon" by Claudia True)

Happy 8-Month Birthday Baby Siraj !!!

At 8 months, Baby Siraj smiles each time he wakes and proudly stands and squeals in his crib to be picked up. He is still committed to drinking 40 ounces a day in addition to downing a small bowl of cereal, a cup of yogurt, and a jar of pureed fruit. And of course, the occasional ice cube. The extra meals have finally enabled him to keep pants sized 6-12m on his still slender waist. And as for other milestones, we are all eagerly waiting for his bottom teeth to make an appearance. However, despite the noble efforts of his swollen gums and little flash of white peeking underneath - it looks like he won’t be able to claim the same 8 month birthday dental glory as his big brother.

My husband, exhausted from working late the night before, went to our bedroom to read the paper and fell asleep before even deciding which section to read. I turned off the bedroom light and went back to the living room to finish birthday celebrations with the boys. Something about July watermelon on a humid day seemed like a great idea. Something about the consequences of giving something so sweet to an infant and toddler before bedtime escaped my consciousness…

Let’s just say they loved it. Let’s just say even Siraj, the baby who craves consistency and complains if we deviate from his regular routine, was jumping and giggling with Ismaeel close to midnight. I was grateful my husband was so tired and couldn’t see or hear the mayhem of little Cheech and Chong. As I hurried to change the sheets on Ismaeel’s bed, being eager to sleep myself, I soon regretted passing out the watermelon to the sugar junkies. But only for a fleeting moment.

Who am I kidding? I am always tired. Why not just embrace this? And so, I let Ismaeel tumblesalt and belly flop on his mattress until his sides hurt from laughing. Siraj giggled to watch the toddler acrobatics and eventually toppled over in his own happy slumber. Ismaeel helped me clean up the kitchen and we grabbed his GloDoodle to practice his letters in the dark. I was about to draw Capital G and noticed that Ismaeel was already blissfully snoring away.

Bedtime was much later than usual but I think we all needed some respite from the usual nighttime parade of tears. I promise to hold on to this thought when tomorrow’s alarm sounds and we are all missing those extra moments of sleep.

Surely, laughter is more precious. Or so feebly say, the sleep-deprived…

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hunger Strikes

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Ramadan begins next month so a good thirty dates are ahead to make up the days of sawm (fasting) that I missed during my pregnancy with Siraj. As I continue to struggle through my ritual prayers, sawm is something that I easily embrace. While my non-Muslim friends and relatives may find it surprising that I will forego food and drink (even water) during dawn to dusk, I assuredly look forward to feeling the intensity of re-awakening my consciousness, deepening my appreciation, and purifying my spirituality.

And so, with today being my first day of fasting in more than a year, my throat is indeed parched and my stomach is undeniably rumbling but my mind is at last wonderfully clear. I don’t know how long it has been since I have stopped listening to my own consciousness. There is a clarity and solace in not occupying yourself with weighing the options for the next meal. I don’t need to second guess my cravings for espresso when I know deep down that I am a loyal tea drinker. The freedom from walking to pick up lunch lets me actually respond to my emails at a respectable clip instead. But it is about more than these mere conveniences.

I realize how much useless avoidance and procrastination snacking has allowed me. I laugh to think that suddenly my candy dish is shouldering all of the blame for my unfinished work. But seriously, towards mid-day I wasn’t even terribly hungry and yet I realize I would have ingested more calories than I can dare admit to here. All of those dietary indiscretions aren’t just about the additional weight I carry but are indicative of how often I don’t listen to myself. If I wasn’t hungry, why was I even eating? Why am I so quick to turn on Pandora and drown out my thoughts? What have I been feebly trying to avoid?

It feels good to enjoy the silence again. But I feel guilty to describe my hunger pains when I know there will be plenty of satisfying options for me come dusk. However, how much more painful is hunger when dusk doesn’t bring any relief?

And this is the crux where I stop hurrying about my life and blindly fulfilling my physical needs to start remembering what it is like to nourish my humanity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

42 Days and Counting