Saturday, August 7, 2010


Cuddly kids, fuzzy cats, and a husband who heats up a bath for me. 'Nuff said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quiet Nights

Very often for me, not getting enough quiet time during the day translates into obsessive insomnia where I just eat up those quiet hours of the night and can't bear to sleep. This greatly decreases my functionality during the day. I need a solution. I did try hiding out in the car one evening when the kids were all screaming and refusing to sleep and fighting with each other. This was at the end of a loud, long day, and I was maxed out. My husband came and found me and tried to coax me back indoors. I told him he was lucky I was just in the driveway and hadn't actually left and gone to a hotel. He was kind enough to get the four wild ones to sleep (though it took over an hour) and then let me know when it was safe for my eardrums and I to come back in. He's a good man, that one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rediscovering High Heeled Shoes

Yes, you read the title correctly. I have rediscovered the joy of wearing high heeled shoes. I remember getting my first pair when I was about 13 and tottering around until I got the hang of walking in them gracefully. Wearing heels was an unofficial entry into the world of adulthood. However at some point between having jobs where I had to be on my feet for long hours and then having kids to chase around and then eventually letting my love of fashion succumb to my affair with comfortable sneakers and yoga pants, I lost my habit of wearing heels.

Then a couple of years ago, I developed a shopping routine with one of my sister-in-laws living overseas. She has a huge shoe and purse obsession and couldn't easily get access to a lot of the fashion accessories I could purchase here in the US. We worked out a system where she would find things she liked online, we would both cast opinions for or against, then I would go shopping and get the items, and when a family member traveled through I would send our shopping bags to my sis-in-law with him/her. In the process of hunting down her items, I began coming across a few things I liked for myself. I remembered looking at pictures from a family wedding where we were all dressed up, and in examining my shoes, I was the only one wearing ugly flats while everyone else had on fabulous heels. I decided that maybe I should invest in one or two pairs of really good shoes for nice occasions. I bought a pair of super high, awesome purple heels and wore them for the next Eid. I spotted my husband's look of obvious approval while we were at a friend's house for dinner. I decided maybe the shoes were a good thing.

This week as I was sorting out the closet, I went through the shoes and piled up all the ones I didn't seem to be wearing so I could sell them on ebay or donate them to charity. As I tossed the purple heels and another blue suede pair onto the pile, my husband stopped and looked. He made a casual remark about not really having to get rid of all of the shoes. I remembered wearing the purple shoes on Eid, and the blue ones the next and really feeling dressed for the occasion. I fished them back out of the pile. I thought about the fact that I wear exceptionally conservative clothing, and I realized that one place where I could express my personality a little is through my shoes.

Then I did something unusual. I went shopping for myself. I left the kids at home, and hubby off running other errands, and I went to Macy's. I wanted shoes. Good shoes. And a bag to match. I finished my shopping with two new pairs of heels and a bag to die for.

Then I did another unusual thing. I started wearing them. When my friend Marissa called me for a long awaited girls' night out, I put on the new shoes and grabbed the bag, and off I went. When my youngest daughter and I went to Petco for a cat carrier the next day, I did the same thing again. And suddenly I realized that I felt different, better, when I was dressed up nicely. I felt like a million bucks cruising through Target in my great new shoes. I tried applying that to the rest of my wardrobe. My husband always compliments me on a red shirt that I have, and yet I don't wear it all that often. So I put it on the other day and actually applied some eye makeup as well. He noticed! And appreciated it. And I realized that even though I'm just around the house most days, maybe it's good for my self-esteem (and my husband's) if I can dress up a little like I used to back in the day.

I might mention that I am 35 years old- not 80, like I may sound. It's just that I am not a very materialistic person. Most of the time I don't worry about the unnecessaries. I don't drive the latest greatest car, and I couldn't care less. I keep my children clean and fed and happy, but I don't rush out to buy them the new must-have games just so that we're keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. It's just not in my personality to obsess about those things, and I like to think that's mostly a good quality. On the flip side of that coin, though, sometimes I forget that presentation matters. If you cook a tasty meal, it's still tasty if you slop it onto plates from the cooking pot, but it looks so much better if you put it on a nice dish and garnish it with a little cilantro on top. I suppose the same thing goes for how we dress to an extent.

I will confess that yesterday when I had to take my four kids for vaccinations, drop off boxes of clothes and books at the masjid, and take the cat to the vet, I was back in my comfy flat sandals. But if you spot me at the park with my family tomorrow, check out my feet, because I may just be back in heels.

(The shoes I want next but haven't quite talked myself into buying)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time. Consuming.

I spent 4 hours yesterday sorting out one box of memorabilia from the basement.

Four hours.

One box.

And there are other boxes down there. This may get ugly before all the sorting is done.

On the upside of this experience, I really enjoyed going through all that stuff. I tossed a bunch of redundant pictures. Why did I have them developed in quadruplet?? I threw out odds and ends of paper that no longer have value, such as insurance records for a car that I haven't owned in 6 years. But there were a lot of keepers in there. I found letters, notes, and cards from friends and family. I found my first ever hijab picture- a photo of me acting the part of the Virgin Mary in the Christmas program at church when I was 11. I found my band and choir pictures from junior high and high school. I found my old journals. I found my high school and university diplomas. I found tons of my kids' baby pictures. I found the notes from my "branding" exercise done at a regional meeting when I was a tutoring center manager (apparently my brand is "encouraging" but also "disorganized"). I loved reminiscing through all that old stuff.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Time for the Great Summer Clean Out

No more excuses.

School is over and summer is upon us. I am not teaching, not testing, not chasing the kids all over the house to get them to do their schoolwork.

I am free. And the house must be sorted. With the school year finished and thoughts of a move ahead of us, I am getting rid of everything but the essentials. I am already relishing the thought of less clutter. Ahhh....

Let me wallow in that for a moment.
Less clutter.

To do:
* Sorting clothes and donating what we don't wear or what the kids have grown out of
* Shoes!! I'm listing this separately from clothes because it is a project in and of itself. We have a ridiculous amount of shoes.
* Selling furniture (already in the process- thank you craigslist)
* Get rid of blankets/towels/linens except the ones we use on a regular basis
* Books
* Memorables... what to keep and what to toss? Old soccer jerseys, my childhood scrapbook...
* Kitchen
* Toys- that's a hard one. The kids want to keep everything. Some must go.
* Decorations
* Garage stuff- bikes, camping equipment, tools

I should hold a "free sale" for my friends. I can just send out invitations that say "You are invited Tuesday night at 6pm. Please come look through my house, and if you see anything you can use, just take it away." It's a thought.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Inner distractions and solutions

Apparently it's not just the surroundings adding "noise" to my life, but all this clattering inside my head. The brain has no off switch and no remote for changing the channel. When I get it stuck on one useless yet distracting item, there seems to be no means of moving it along to something else. For instance, this week I'm on a self-esteem crisis. The brain has decided to give me a constant onslaught of listing my flaws. Repeated in sequence over and over. I have too, too, too many other things to focus on than this, but here I am, sleepless, mulling over the imperfect me.

I'll go back to the tried and true... memories that take me somewhere happy.

* Meme's house
* My first puppy
* The births of my children
* Sitting underground in a cave
* Praying in Madinah

* My 3-year-old's giggle
* Ocean waves
* Singing with my sister
* The birds at fajr

* Right after a rain
* Wild roses
* Ma's homemade chocolate chip cookies
* Fallen leaves

* The sheets on my bed
* Baby hair
* Lying on moss
* My back snuggled against my Great-grandma Sue's back when I used to sleep by her
* Sitting on a horse

* Hootie balls made by my Ma
* Snow
* Yeast-and-butter popcorn like Phoebe makes it
* Boba tea

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remoteness is a big plus when seeking solitude

A couple of friends have invited us up to Canada to spend a few days in a cabin on an island out in the middle of a lake a few miles from nowhere. Granted, they've got a toddler and we've got our four little people, but it's a big wide wilderness and hopefully the lake and the trees will swallow up any extra noise and leave us with some blessed silence. And there's always the night time. Oh, the beautiful, quiet night!