All posts by sumeerayounis

Reflections from 2015

Fireworks

I can’t believe we are about to enter the sixteenth year of 2000. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that we were partying like it was 1999?

2015, seemingly like every year, was full of so many changes, ups and downs and adventures.

In 2015, I lost two people I loved dearly. My aunt passed away from ALS and my Nani passed away from ongoing complications from a stroke she suffered several years back. It is a morbid thought but with every year that passes, I know that the following year when I go through this same exercise, there will be new names to add to the list. Some will be young and some will be old, some expected and others all that much more painful because they should not have been on such a list at such an age. Always a reminder to love those who you love fiercely and without reservation.

This past year was our first full year as parents. We observed so many firsts with Nouri and she keeps racking them up. The first year of a baby’s life is such a wonder to observe. We saw Nouri go on her first plane ride, eat her first foods, get her first passport, take her first steps and so much more. It has been so fun to settle into the rhythms of our slightly more domestic life.

We took some big trips to Iceland, the UK and Colombia and lots of little trips to Michigan, New York and all around the DMV area. We learned about the challenges of traveling with a baby and the challenges of traveling without one.

We also bought our first house! After so many years of being married and by what all means felt like after waiting too long, we took the plunge into owning a tiny part of the American dream. This is the fifth place we have lived in since moving to DC and I’m looking forward to staying put for a little bit.

And now we look forward to 2016.  Tonight we will celebrate with neighbors and bring in another year together. The next months are going to be filled with lots of changes that I am excited to share with all of you soon. My hope for 2016 is to strive to be a better person, to nurture my family, to transform our house into a comfy home, to surround myself with people who inspire me and make me laugh, to consume less and to give more, to elect Bernie as our next president, to work for justice, to grow my hair long, to take more bike rides, to be a good role model for Nouri and to become more of the person I have hoped to be.

Hoping that you and your families all have a great evening and a Happy New Year!

Traveling Without a Baby

Last week we returned from our trip to Colombia. I had booked this trip much earlier in the year thinking that by the time Nouri was one, we would be ready for a break and a little adults-only time. As the trip neared, we started to get worried that we wouldn’t enjoy it without having Nouri around. Although we ended up missing her a lot, I am so glad that we took some time to ourselves. It was reassuring that throughout the trip I was constantly thinking, “Definitely couldn’t do this with a baby!” From uneven sidewalks, to long travel days, to excursions down rivers and up forts, there were so many things that would have been downright impossible with a baby in tow.

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As the trip was approaching, we became nervous that Nouri would take her first steps while we were away. She was showing all the signs of being ready to walk but wasn’t making that final push. Luckily, about five days before we were set to leave, she took a few steps. Two days later, she was full fledged walking all over the place. Her Aunties told us that she had spent all day in daycare just walking from one place to another. Once she figured out she could do it, she was a baby on a mission! I’m so glad that we are able to be there for that awesome milestone!

We had also worried a lot about how Nouri would cope without us. Would she cry at night when she realized that she wasn’t going to see us that day? Or maybe the next morning when she woke up and realized that we weren’t there to cuddle her? Or just all day long?

Nope!

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We got picture after picture of her laughing it up with her Khala (maternal sister). They had a ton of fun together going on outings, trying new foods and getting lots of cuddles in. I’m so happy that my sister was willing to take time off work so we could have out little adventure. (And I don’t think she minded toooo much since she got all that time soaking up Nouri.)

There is a certain narcism in being parents. I have seen parents who actually want their kids to cry when they leave, as if they will prove that the kid loves them. Not healthy! Of course I want my baby to be attached to me and think I’m awesome. But I also want her to feel safe and comfortable in different situations because we have helped show her that the world is a safe and loving place. That is a lot of weight for a 13 month old but I do think babies respond to the environment we create for them. So even though it was weird to us that she didn’t notice we were gone at all, I felt strangely proud of that little independent firecracker.

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We got home really late on the night we got back so we had to wait until the next morning to see Nouri. When she woke up, I expected a big smile, maybe even a laugh. Or maybe tears of anger for leaving her?

Nope!

Nouri just put up her arms like she always does, I picked her up and she snuggled into my shoulder. It was like we had never left. A friend of mine told me that babies don’t really have a grasp on time, so you could have been gone an hour or ten days but they won’t really know the difference. After this experience, I believe that.

It was harder than I expected to finally leave Nouri but I’m so glad we did. We learned that it is ok to be away from your kid. The world doesn’t stop, they don’t fall apart and it is such a healthy thing to do. We also learned that We. Love. Nouri. So. Much. So even though it was awesome to have the new experiences that we did, we realized that we really, really love our life as being parents to her. When I booked this trip almost a year ago, I had thought that I would be in desperate need of a break. That parenting would steam roll us and we would have to go on some sort of trip to rediscover ourselves. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case and the trip reaffirmed for us how grateful we are to have Nouri and how much we value our everyday domestic life.

I hope this helps someone who may be thinking of taking a solo or kid-free trip. Over the next week I will share pictures and stories from the trip. See you then!

My weekend sucked. Or did it?

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Last night, as I was reflecting on the weekend, I thought to myself- meh, this wasn’t a very good weekend. I had a feeling that the weekend was boring and we didn’t get to do much. Upon reflection, I realized that there were two ways to look at the different things we did this weekend and I was just focusing on the negative.

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The Negative Nancy: Was exhausted after coming home and still had a social engagement to go to. Ugh.

Upon Reflection: Had a great evening with neighborhood friends.

On Friday, one of our neighbors hosted a ‘girl’s night’ where a bunch of the neighborhood women met up to eat, drink and have a general estro-fest. I was exhausted when I got home from work but told myself that I could go for an hour or so and then I could come back home. I walked over six houses and had such a good time that before I knew it, five hours had passed. It was so nice to connect with women in the neighborhood. We probably ranged in age from our 20s to 60s but we all connected and laughed and shared our stories. It was so wonderful and I was so grateful that we sacrificed living in some vision of a ‘dream house’ to live among people who are friends, who welcome each other into their homes and genuinely care about each other. I am so grateful that Nouri will grow up in such a unique neighborhood.

Saturday Afternoon

The Negative Nancy: I stayed home like a bum while Feraz and Nouri went out for adventures (pictured above).

Upon Reflection: I got to engage in self-care because I have a loving husband who gives me a break whenever I need it.

On Saturday, Feraz lived up the subUrban dream and walked to the park with Nouri and walked to get groceries, giving me some time to rest and recharge. I’ve been feeling under the weather and it was so nice to sit at home, color my hair, do my eyebrows and paint my nails. I even was able to eat some brownies I had made the night before while watching a romcom on Netflix. So grateful for a husband that loves being a dad so much and always gives me time to re-energize when I need to. Later that night, we got all dressed up, got a sitter and went to my work holiday party.

Saturday Night

The Negative Nancy: Holiday party was lame and I’m too old to ‘party’.

Upon Reflection: We got to check out a cool museum we had never been to and got a sweet present to go home with.

The party was at the National Museum of Women in the Arts to which we had never been. We took in some great paintings and sculptures, mingled a bit, took some silly photos and got to see some people I really like. There was valet for the event so we didn’t even have to worry about parking in the city. As our holiday gift, we got this cool gadget called an Echo, which is incidentally one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, so obviously it is awesome. We also tried out one of our neighbors for baby-sitting and both her and Nouri did great!

Sunday

The Negative Nancy: Did we do anything today? I just remember feeling sick.

Upon Reflection: We took advantage of the great weather by heading to Roosevelt Island and then spent more time together as a family getting some shopping done at an outdoor mall.

I am loathe to say no to doing things but lately I’ve been feeling like putzing around the house. On Sunday, I really wanted to get out and enjoy the awesome weather so when Feraz suggested going to Roosevelt Island, one of our favorite spots when we lived in Georgetown, I had to say yes. The weather was perfect and so many people coo’d over Nouri and she looked adorable as she practiced walking with her papa. It was such a happy sight to see. Afterwards, we did some shopping and I didn’t feel any need to buy anything for myself. It feels so good to no longer need stuff to feel fulfilled. On the way home, we played a fun game with the Amazon Prime Music (check it out if you aren’t already using it!) 80’s station. We raced each other to see who could guess the song first and I WON 7-6. This is amazing because I am the absolute worst at games like this. Granted, I was up 6-0 and Feraz made an amazing come back. But as we were pulling into our cul-de-sac, Faithfully came on and I got it in the first two seconds to pull the W.

I’m so glad I took the time to write up this rather long and rather mundane recap of the weekend. I’ve been feeling a bit letdown the last two weekends in a row and it occurs to me now that the weekends have actually been great, it’s just I haven’t been taking the time to reflect on the infinite blessings we have in each day of our lives. I hope this helps you take a look at your day, weekend, life and find the beauty in it as well.

San Bernardino

via YahooNews

Nothing can lessen the blow of living in a country in which someone you love can go to a movie theatre, a school or a holiday party and never return because a person who had no business having access to guns did. As a Muslim, I don’t stand with the families of San Bernardino because I feel guilt that my religion prompted two crazies to do an unforgivable act. I stand with the families of San Bernardino because my religion teaches me to repel evil with something better. I stand with the families of San Bernardino because no family should ever, ever have to receive the news that they lost a loved one in such a horrific way and my heart breaks for them.

Many Muslims feel scared, harassed and ostracized but those feelings are nothing compared to what the families of the San Bernardino victims are feeling. They have had to face any person’s worst nightmare and they, more than anyone, need to know that the world still has goodness in it and that it is a world still worthy of meeting with love and compassion. This effort is one small demonstration of hope and I hope that all of us, no matter who we are, follow it up with continued acts of compassion, love and light.

Some folks have started a wonderful initiative on LaunchGood which has raised over $188,000 for the victim’s families. Please click on over there if you would like to support the great cause.

Gift Idea – Toddler

I am the biggest sucker for targeted ads on Facebook. Although I won’t always buy the product, I will almost always click. That’s how I ran across these adorable “Lost MyName” books for little kids.

You simply go to the website, put in the name of the child you want to make the book for, choose a boy or girl and pick one of the three adventurers. Right now they have a white, asian and black adventurer for each sex. I hope they expand the choices because as much as I love the idea of there being personalized books for kids who have less common names, it is just as important for kids to see others who look like them in the media they consume.

The kid goes on an adventure collecting all the letters of the lost name. And eventually, after many adventures and collecting letters, the name is found.

I’m so glad I ran into this book. I love that it is so easy to make. You also get to have a personalized note printed on the inside cover which is such a sentimental touch.  I know I would have treasured a book like this when I was a kid. I think it’s going to be my go-to gift for now!