The Little Things

He wakes me gently to let me know he’s leaving for work, because he knows that I have a little panic attack when I wake up and he’s not there.  He covers me up with the crocheted afghan, because he knows that I get cold even though I insist on sleeping with one foot poking out from under the covers to regulate my body temperature.  He leaves my coffee cup on the counter next to the pot, because he knows that while I can function in the morning without coffee, that I do so with only one eye open and it sometimes scares the kids when their mother looks like Popeye.  He calls me around lunch time, because he wants to check in and see how my day is going.  He always laughs and says “too much” when I ask him how much he loves me on the phone, and I know it’s true.  And when I teased him last night at dinner about how lucky he is that his wife is such a fabulous cook and gorgeous to boot, he laughed and agreed.  And today I will go about my regular errands to the bank and the grocery store and I will drive to west Dallas to the junk yard to pull a seat belt fastener from a van like his and surprise him with it, because I know he needs one as his doesn’t work properly.  And I’ll probably make lentils tonight because I know how much he loves them.

It really is the little things that make us happy.  And that’s a big thing.


XX Year Anniversary of XXIX


I woke up to that awesome “wall of guitars” this morning.  I was intrigued, yet slightly annoyed, that someone was in my bedroom playing a hauntingly echoing version of Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman” while I slept.  Then I remembered that I had changed my ringtone on my cellphone the other day.  So I pulled my phone out of the trash can by my bed where it had fallen last night when I tried to put it on the night table and attempted to say hello.  I heard my brother-in-law’s cheerful voice saying, “Happy birthday.”  I tried to say,  “Thanks.” It sounded more like a grunt, but he interpreted it as “Congratulations! You won the ‘I got to say Happy Birthday first’ game.”  His linguistic skills were spot on.

After he handed the phone of to my sister to claim her second-place finish, and I checked my text message from my brother who technically was first since he texted at 12:18 a.m., I reflected on some things.  Today  is the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. That’s a lot of 29s.  And I am nowhere close to the goals I’d set for myself when I was a young teenager.  But that’s good. At this point, my career as a “medical examiner who moonlights as a hot bathing suit model” would probably be washed up.  I’ve got a mom-body, complete with extra padding for warm, sincere hugs and my cooking skills are A+ since my food doesn’t taste like medical hand soap and formaldehyde.  I’m good.

Unlike me at the original 29 year mark, I have built my patience up to tolerate early morning phone calls with honest laughter.  I left my not-so lucrative career of seventeen years to become a broke, stay-at-home-mom who blogs and over-volunteers at the school and with a favorite non-profit organization.  On the “How Tidy is My Home” scale, I still only rank about a 6 on average, maybe a 7.5 if I have more than 15 minutes notice that someone is en route to see us.  But as long as we’re not wallowing in filth (read: I’ve mopped once this month but forced the kids to vacuum a few times) and we aren’t qualified to be featured on “Hoarders,” I’m okay with it.

And while I complain about the little things that annoy the crap out of me, like being the chauffeur of shame hauling young adults to and from work, college, high school, and various volunteer and social engagements, I know that I have a great life.  I genuinely LOVE my family and my friends.  (Thanks, Venetia, Sara, and Cindy, by the way.  The three of you have been my first truly best friends (who don’t share a mom with me) in many years and you have no idea how great that feels or how much I appreciate it.)  I have a home that is large enough to house us all comfortably.  My husband works a job where he is home every evening around the same time and no longer has to travel for extended periods.  And we sit down to dinner every single night together. Yes, we eat as a family every day. I have a great life. And I’m so grateful to Allah for providing this.

I have decided to carpe the crap out of this diem.  I’m going to make a B.A.B.B. (that’s Big Ass Birthday Brisket) for dinner and maybe let my daughter help me choose a birthday cake. (It’ll be chocolate so the masses will be happy. I may get myself a lime popsicle or something, so that I will be happy.)  And I will sit back and allow them to do all of the chores for my big, fat celebration of ME.

**The dirty little garden gnome? No. He has no real significance to this story. I just like him and decided he’d make a lovely thumbnail for this blog post.


Ramadan 1438 (2017)

Well, in sticking with my usual Ramadan traditions, breakfast was LATE on the first night this year, too. I had big plans, people. BIG plans. We had the dates soaking in milk for about 13 hours. We had freshly made mango juice. We had hummous and baba ghanouj and I even remembered to have my husband bring bread home with him…because I always forget it. We had the coffee pot set up and ready to brew. I had found a recipe for making spiral-cut parmesan baked potatoes and had them ready to go. I had pulled the ribeyes out of the freezer before noon to thaw and since it was 40 billion degrees outside, I decided we’d grill them in the oven instead of any of that charcoal grill nonsense. And I made Brussels sprouts. I should have gone with the charcoal grill.

The stupid meat would not freaking cook. They’re steaks. I’ve made them at least 4000 times in my life time. WHY? What gives? The physics in my oven just decided to go on strike? AUGH! I don’t know what was going on there….but it was terrible. We had all the sides and juices and salads. But no meat until 9:00 when they finally finished cooking. And they were terrible. I was so sad that, of all the traditions, being late with dinner on the first night of Ramadan was the one that I managed to keep. *sigh* Oh, well.

Today I took the meat out of the freezer at 10 a.m. I’m going to start cooking at 3 p.m. And all I’ll have left 40 minutes or so before the sundown is to make a pot of rice and to turn the coffeepot on. Now if I could just remember this lesson on the first night of Ramadan 1439, I’ll be in good shape.

Ramadan Mubarak.

رمضان مبارك



He turned 50 yesterday. He was working out of town and didn’t get home until really late. The children were all asleep as they had final exams today and needed the rest. I sat with him for a little while, fighting to keep my eyelids open. Five o’clock in the morning comes so fast. I wished him a happy birthday and went to bed.

And I left to take care of paperwork in the counselor’s office at the school this morning, just after he poured his first cup of coffee. The kids got out early after exams, so the girls and I talked it over and decided that we’d have a surprise party for him tonight when he got home. The boys all agreed it was a good idea. The kids blew up over 60 balloons and hung a banner and we got him a cake. And a card. And a 5 and 0 candles so that we didn’t have to disconnect the smoke alarm before singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

And I looked at the 5 and the 0 candles and thought, “50? That’s half a century! Where did the time go?” And I looked at my “children” ages 15-20 and see exactly where the time went and how much fun it has been along the way. And I asked myself if I’ll ever willingly admit that he’s only two years older than I am and that I will soon be half a century old…..Nah.

And then I smiled. His AARP membership card should arrive any day now and just think of the discounts we’ll be eligible for not that he turned 50 yesterday!

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Bright Spots in My Day Today 5 of 5

This handsome guy is my first born, Mohamed. He is 15 years old and talented beyond his years in art. Mohamed has a passion for drawing and painting and animating his own comics. He can sit in front of the laptop for hours creating comic book characters using the paint program or in front of a sketch pad with a pencil for even longer. Of course, this can sometimes get in the way of studies. But to his way of thinking, studies usually get in the way of his artwork. Mohamed carries a lot of responsibility. He is the oldest of five kids, one of whom is autistic. He is usually the one who stays home and keeps an eye on whichever of the younger ones I’ve decided
to NOT take with me on whatever errand I’m running. He seems to take it with a grain of salt that he rarely goes with me anywhere one on one. I do try to make a concerted effort to take just him with me sometimes…which usually means we have to literally RUN the errand because Ismail plus his siblings with no adult supervision usually means FIST FIGHT before I get halfway back home. But Mohamed is a good sport about it and we usually get our one-on-one time together at night after the pesky younger kids are asleep.
Hamo is extremely polite and well-mannered and is always being complimented by neighbors and family and friends about how well-behaved he is. I’m always left proud by these remarks…and scratching my head wondering, “WHY do you use it all up on them? Why do I deserve all the ‘buttheads’ and ‘shut ups’ and ‘I’m going to  pound you into dusts’?” He’s a good kid for the most part…….that’s saying a lot about a teenager!
He has his moments and he carries that infamous “put upon” attitude exactly as described in THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. But I think that that is something that is synonomous with teenage boys and is not unique to him. He inherited his inability to let someone else have the last word in an argument from his grandmother. (Well, you CERTAINLY didn’t think I’d admit it was from ME, did you?)
Hamo is a sweet and loving and caring boy who comes across to many as awkward and shy. He’s both of those things but he’s soooo much more. He’s sensitive and deep and devout in his deen (Islam) and he wants to learn how to cook and help his father with work and volunteered 2 or 3 years ago that if (God forbid) something were to happen to my husband and me, that he would be the one who would take care of Randa. His reasoning was because she “likes him best” out of all the siblings and she listens to him more than the others. I love how selfless he is sometimes. I think we’re doing something right with him. And he is one of the brightest spots in my life. I tell him all the time how I waited 26 years for him to come into my life and how my life will never be the same since he entered it.

My Kids Are the Greatest!

Okay, so last night I got the mother of all migraines.
It hit me so hard right after dinner that I felt dizzy
and nauseated and like a giant railroad spike had been
rammed right next to my left nostril up through my eye
and poked out of this before unseen throbbing vein in
the center of my forehead.

I tried tylenol by the handful and water and mint tea
and sprite to keep the nausea at bay. Nothing worked.
So after 6 hours of agony, I opted to just stop “being
a man”about the nausea and puked my brains out. At least
my stomach felt better. I showered and went to bed.

Somehow my kids actually EMPATHIZED and left me alone
today. Only a few interruptions, usually involving “May
we have money?” questions to buy tea biscuits for break-
fast and later for some cheese so they could have sand-
wiches. Then Mohamed came in and told me that it was
now 2:30pm and they were really hungry. I told him I was
still sick and I’d try and get up and make some soup.
He told me he’d cook if I told him how. So I gave him
recipe and he wrote it down and gave his younger brothers
money. They went down and bought some zucchini and
potatoes and parsley. Ismail chopped the vegetables
while Hamo got the meat and onions browned. And then
Ismail went ahead and peeled 2 or 3 more potatoes and cut
them into sticks so that we could make french fries for
Randa. (She only eats crunchy food.)

Samiya mopped the bathroom floor and Randa brought all
of the clean laundry in off the clothesline, folded it
and put it away. When I finally got up around 3:30pm,
the soup was finished and I had a cup of coffee and
made a pot of rice and Randa’s french fries. Then we
ate dinner together and Samiya washed the dishes without
being asked. AND there were hardly any fights or teasing
today and very little backtalk. Samiya and Ismail and Aiman
made fried egg sandwiches for supper.

My headache is almost gone and my heart is happy. Clearly
I am doing something right by these kids. They are awesome.
And I am blessed to be their mother.