Feraz Turns 34

A few weeks ago we received the approved home study for our adoption.

One of our favorite lines in the home study was, “Mr. Ashraf is a 34 year old Indian man.”

Feraz read it and laughed but a sad laugh. “That looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? A 34 year old Indian man.”

Although Feraz hadn’t quite had his birthday yet, I think seeing that big number scared him a little bit.

When looking for balloons a lady actually said, “There is a helium shortage. You aren’t going to find any helium in this town.” We found some. Booyah. 

I decided that I would help make Feraz’s birthday great and filled of love so it would help him see that even though the years passing by is scary, those years have given us time to fill our lives up with happy memories, friends and more reminders of the beauty of life.

Cake time.
We kicked off his birthday activities in Michigan where I threw him a Surprise! party at Lucky Strike.

Kids in good position.

The best part of this party was that Feraz was actually surprised!

The next day we went to my parents and my mom took us out for a birthday lunch since we wouldn’t be able to go to dinner that night because of my cousin’s wedding.

This is not my Mom.

On the morning of Feraz’s actual birthday, I woke him up with breakfast in bed and a card.

Feraz was too tired to eat and asked it I could put it in the microwave. Breakfast in bed always works on TV!
I decorated our ugly wall with a Congratulations! You are a 34 year old Indian man sign. I just used little index cards and wrote funny inside jokes and song lyrics on each one to make it a bit more personal.

I think he liked it.

That evening we went out to dinner with a couple of friends at a little hole in the wall like place that Feraz wanted to check out.

Afterwards, we went to Courthouse cinema (the BEST movie watching experience!) to see Captain Phillips. All in all, it was a 10/10 birthday!

Babies, Weddings and Holidays, Oh My

This last week has been so busy. A trip to New York for my friend’s baby shower Saturday, a wedding in Virginia Sunday, Eid on Tuesday and Michigan today. I always feel a bit guilty feeling overfunned but I think its ok to say you just want to sleep sometimes! Looking forward to some resting and parental babying in Michigan!

Sweet favors.
The garden in the back where most of the baby shower ended up taking place.
Onesies for decorating.
Hard at work.
So much happiness.
Eid banner.
Eid needs sweets.
Favors ready for the guests.

Fall and waiting

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot

I often miss Michigan but I miss it most when I feel the first chill of Fall. I remember standing at the bus stop as a new school year began. I remember donuts, cider mills, the crunch of leaves and the feeling of a soft sweater. I remember piles of leaves taller than me. I remember the thrill of Halloween approaching and the complete exhilaration of having a pillowcase full of candy.

Perhaps the greatest thing about having children is getting to experience all those things again- trying to see those moments through their eyes. Dear baby, I know you are out there but please find your way to our home soon. We are so anxiously waiting.

Welcoming Raja Younis Jr.

Little Raja at the hospital. Say, “Mash”Allah!”

Yesterday morning I woke up to the news that my brother and his wife had their son. Little Raja Arkom Younis was born early Saturday morning at 1 am and made Attiya and I Phupos, (the title reserved for the aunt that is a child’s father’s sister) my parents a Dadi and Dada and most significantly, Val and Qasar, Mom and Dad.

As I get older, I realize more and more the special bond of family. Each trial endured, each happiness shared and each milestone achieved makes me love them even more. Today, again, I was reminded of the beauty of family. From the moment I woke up, I got calls from my sister, mom, dad, aunts, cousins, sister-in-law and mother-in-law sharing in the happiness of the day. I got to Skype with my family in Pakistan as we celebrated this blessing. There was so much laughter and happiness on the phone as each person greeted me, “As salaam walaikum Phupo!”

The proud parents on their wedding day last year. They will obviously be awesome parents!
(Photo courtesy of Ryan Southen Photography)

This little, tiny baby in the hospital can not yet comprehend the love that we all have for him but as he grows older, I hope he finds a day like this one, when he looks around and he sees all these people, people who have been with him on the long journey of life, and remembers that one day so many years ago, they welcomed the news of his arrival with such happiness, love and joy.  As I reflected on this today, I thought of my mom’s sisters and the joy they must have felt when their older sister had her first child. Qasar is the oldest cousin in my mom’s family, the first of twenty-six children born to the sisters and lone brother. And now little Raja will carry on that tradition. He will be the oldest of the cousins on our side of the family. As Attiya and I welcome our children, and Qasar and Val grow their family, he will be the little ring leader. How life marches on. A new generation takes the torch. And before we can blink our eyes, our children will be writing these words.

Last night Feraz and I went out on a bike ride around dusk. We rode along the Mount Vernon Trail and Four Mile Run weaving under bridges and overpasses. At one point, as out bikes coasted downhill on the trail, I felt the wind in my face, I saw the sun set reflecting on the water, and overhead, a group of birds flew by, their dark silhouettes against the blue and red sky. I prayed that baby Raja would experience endless moments of bliss and happiness like I felt right then. I prayed that God would make him of the righteous people, a person who does good in the world, making it infinitely better. I prayed that he would be a source by which his already wonderful parents become even better. I prayed that his life would be one of happiness and peace and goodness. May God always protect you our sweet little Raja. May you always know the endless reserve of love we have for you. Ameen.