Arham Turns Two

Happy SECOND birthday to, my pride and joy, my dearest Arham beta,

SubhanAllah I can’t put into words what these past two years have been for me. You are my world. That’s the only way to even attempt to put into words the impossible way to describe you.

You bring me happiness that I can’t put into words and happiness that is simply a blessing from above.

It seems every time I blink, you have gotten a little older and a little wiser, having learned something new yet again (mashAllah). It’s a constant battle between enjoying the moment vs. capturing the moment.

The best thing about being a mama? Even in the darkest of days, Arham beta, you have been the shining light. You light up every room you enter with your smile, but you have lightened up my life from day one.

In a world of crazy and unknowns, you have been my one constant.

Your hugs and kisses are the best things. You calling me Mama melts my heart in a way that I can’t describe. Your cuddles are time-pausing.

I love your smile and your energy (mashAllah). I love your persistence and determination. I love you. And who you make me.

There is never a dull moment, and you are constantly keeping me on my toes. Not to mention, constantly making me laugh. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You not only make my life meaningful, but you give my life purpose. Each thing I do, I do for you Arham beta… and for you, I would do anything (in my power). I am by no means a perfect Mama, but I will always have your best interest in mind.

All the hurdles and obstacles along the way have been worth it, for me to have you. You make me so proud.

You make everything better, you make every thing worth it.

You have defied odds since before you were born and I pray the only “statistic” you will ever become will be one to make us tremendously proud of you inshAllah. I have no doubt that with your strong-will personality and can-do attitude, you will achieve great things inshAllah.

I love how you come running to the door excitedly saying “Mama” and into my arms. I wish I didn’t have to be away so many hours, but the welcome home love makes up for the heartbreaking mornings. The hours away from you are difficult and heart wrenching in ways I can’t put into words, and I wish I didn’t have to work away from home, but I know I have to do it for you. And for you? I would do anything.

You are my reason for everything.

Last week at work, we celebrated a 100 years of Douglass empowering women… but this week is twice the celebration because Arham beta, in just a few short years, you have empowered me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

You have given me strength to fight when I have felt defeated.

You have given me reasons to smile when all I wanted to do was cry.

You have given me reasons to have faith for all the obstacles you have overcome couldn’t be explained in any other way.

You make me so proud, not only for who you are… but who you push me to be by reminding me what truly matters.

I wish there was a way to preserve the innocence of your infancy and toddler-hood, as it truly is going by too fast, but just the same it’s amazing to see you thrive. It seems like it was just yesterday you were too small for even newborn sized clothes and it amazes me how quickly each phase has passed.

Let’s see what this coming year brings inshAllah. … but if we can just agree to “terrific twos” instead of “terrible twos”…

I pray you always stay grounded. I pray Allah SWT keeps you under His infinite protection always. I pray He protects you from the evil and guides you to goodness always. I pray you use your talents and intellect in a positive manner always. I pray you are always a source of joy for others.

Forever your proud Mama,

Arham’s Mickey Mouse Themed Second Birthday Party

This past Saturday, we had an early celebration for Arham who turns two mashAllah! SubhanAllah, I can’t even express how fast these past two years have just flown by…

Arham adores Mickey Mouse, so fittingly the theme of Arham’s party was just that.

From the invitation which I created:

Address blacked out…

The Snapchat filter:

The Chocolate Covered Oreos:

The cake:

The banners:

The singing balloon:

The rest of the decorations:

Mickey Mouse Chocolate Covered Oreos

Arham loves Mickey Mouse.

For Arham’s [early] birthday party yesterday, I made homemade chocolate covered Oreos that looked like Mickey.

Arham loved them!

It involved a few steps, but were easy to make!

Here’s how I made them:

I used only these five ingredients:

  • Mini Oreos
  • Oreos
  • Dipping Chocolate
  • Icing
  • Cake Pop Sticks

To make them, what I did was:

    1. Take the mini Oreos, open the halves apart and scrape off the filling.
    2. Take your regular sized Oreo, also separate the halves (so the filling is on one half).
    3. On top of the filling, add icing as a binder for the cake pop stick and mini Oreos.
    4. Add the cake pop stick down the center.
    5. Take two halves of the scraped mini Oreos and place near the top of the Oreo to make Mickey’s ears.
    6. Place the top half of the Oreo (the icing you added earlier will bind everything).
    7. Continue the process for however many you are making.
    8. Refrigerate to let them set.
    9. When ready, melt your dipping chocolate.
    10. Dip your Oreo sticks in chocolate.
    11. Refrigerate again before serving.

I left mine as just chocolate covered Oreos. Of course, you could be as creative as you want – add sprinkles, use icing to decorate on top, make them red, etc.

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P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Imtiaz Chachoo

Too often we forget how limited our time in this world is and what truly matters.

We chase materialistic things, not realizing it's going to be meaningless after our short stay here.

We chase people who are nothing. We devalue those who are everything. We make trivial matters into big things yet diminish the value of what really matters.

You never know what lies ahead and tomorrow is never guaranteed. And tomorrow? People are not going to remember what you had materialistically. People are, however, going to remember you for who you are.

It's said that only when you are going through some sort of hardship do people's true colors come out.

What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? What will you be remembered for? What is the first thing that will come to people's mind when they think of you?

Sunday night, our family lost a beloved family member in Imtiaz Chachoo.

Cancer has no prejudice and takes prisoners without bias. It takes from us those we love dearly and doesn't care what lasting effect it leaves us to endure.

The first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of Imtiaz Chachoo is his jovial personality and his love for making people laugh with his comedic personality. That is something indeed that most people will fondly remember him for.

Equally important, but on a way more personal level, what I will cherish forever is the kindness and generosity Imtiaz Chachoo, Neelo Chachi, Sara baji and Sarwat baji showed me and my family when we moved to Canada twenty-two years back. Even though my brothers and I were young at the time, it's something we will never forget.

I don't have the right words to express my sorrow or condolences to the immediate family. He was taken from us too soon.

I pray Allah SWT grants Imtiaz Chachoo the highest level of jannat. I pray Allah SWT gives the family patience and sabr to endure such a heavy trial.

Mother’s Day

This morning, a co-worker gave me such beautiful flowers for Mother’s Day [that is this weekend]. I love flowers! The best part about these particular flowers? They are to be planted… and I can’t wait to see them bloom.

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the Mama’s!

I hope we Mama’s use this day to reflect on and celebrate our child(ren) that made us Mama’s. My Arham is the biggest blessing/gift from Allah, and it’s just not possible to put into words… but something that I reflect on a lot.

A few weeks after Arham was born, when I posted his first picture on social media [from his aqeeqa], I wrote my feelings of how Arham “... gave me the proudest title: I became a mama. Each day since you have brought more smiles and joy to me than I could have ever imagined.”… and it is something that my Arham has proven to be true an infinite times over. I have never been more proud, and he brings such an indescribable joy that leaves me in awe. 

As I mentioned previously, while I never imagined working outside of the home when he was at such a fundamental age… what I have learned is this: being a mother is the hardest, but yet the most rewarding role I have ever had in my life. It makes me who I am, and it’s what I am most proud of.

So many people say don’t let becoming a mother change or define your identity. I understand they mean it in a positive way, but if you think about it … how can it not? Arham has changed my life, making it infinitely better, and so fulfilling alhumdulillah.

It was right around Mother’s Day in my pregnancy that I had the scare, and wondered if I would even get to hold Arham in my arms. I can’t begin to describe what the uncertainty felt like, but if anything–  all the time since has been a constant reminder to not take even a moment for granted.

I pray Allah SWT protects my Arham and guides him to be the very best version of himself.

Feedback on Hajj Posts

Three and a half years after I wrote about my hajj experience in 2013, it is still one of the most popular topics that brings people from all across the world to my blog. If not THE most popular topic that gets the most hits on my site.

Especially my post on packing for hajj specifically.

I still get random emails asking me questions, or for suggestions, or sharing tidbits. I get emails thanking me — that by reading about my experience, they were better prepared for their own hajj. Or a certain experience during their hajj experience reminded them of what I had written.

It’s an amazing feeling to not only get these questions, but even more so when I am told how helpful reading my posts were for them. The whole reason I wrote about my hajj experience back in 2013 was because when I was preparing to go for hajj, I was unable to find answers to my questions… and I was unable to hear/read personalized tidbits with specific details.

I pray Allah SWT invites us all for the remarkable experience that hajj is — not just for the religious and spiritual aspect, but on a personal and individual level too.

Take Arham to Work Day

Growing up, one of the things I loved was going to work with my Abu for “Take Your Child to Work Today”.

The tables turned today when I got to take Arham to work with me. While I never imagined working away from home when he was so young, life happens and for my Arham I can do anything.

While I was in work-related training for the better part of the day, I did get to bring in Arham for a little while later in the afternoon. He loved exploring my office. He was a natural sitting in my chair typing away while pretending my calculator was a cell phone. Ironically enough, he didn’t realize my office phone was a telephone considering he has only seen cell phones for the most part. He loved the treats the office had arranged for the kids.

I didn’t imagine this would be one of the traditions I would carry forward, but I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity too.

What’s for Dinner: Strawberry Trifle 

This dessert couldn’t be easier to assemble. And it is absolutely delicious. Like can’t stop eating it until it’s done and you still want more delicious. 

What you need:

  • Pound cake, diced
  • Strawberries, sliced or diced
  • Cool whip
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups of cold milk

How I made it:

  1. Make your vanilla pudding — basically blend your vanilla pudding mix with the two cups of cold milk for about a minute or two. Let it set for just  a few minutes and you will have your pudding.
  2. Fold into your cool whip.
  3. Now it’s basically just assembling your layers.
  4. Layer the bottom of your trifle platter with the pudding/cool whip mixture. Add a layer of cake, followed by strawberries. Continue the layers.
  5. Add a top layer of cool whip/pudding. Decorate the top of your trifle with a layer of strawberries. Maybe a dollop of whipped cream in the center to give it a finished look?

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P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button:


#TeamPapa

It’s been a year, today, since our beloved Papa left us for a better place and it hasn’t gotten easier. I don’t know if it ever will.

A year ago, when I saw him at the funeral home after his death, one of the first thoughts that entered my mind and remains to this day was how tall he was. All my life, because of his age, he was always hunched over a little and I didn’t even realize how tall he truly was.

I could go on and on about my Papa and I love anytime anyone brings up Papa in conversation.

He loved reading. The Qu’ran especially. And did so daily without fail. 

Even when dementia overtook him, subhanAllah, even just hearing the words of the Qu’ran calmed him and brought peace to his mind.

He loved Kit Kats.

He loved Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Don’t ever disturb him from 7 PM to 8 PM. Without a doubt, it’s how my family and I started watching and still watch to this day. Arham, too, is already a fan.

He loved spending time with us just as much as we loved spending time with him. His presence brought a joy that I can’t describe. I loved loved loved spending any time I could with him and cherished the moments. My NJ cousins knew that if my Papa was over, all my other plans would be cancelled.

He loved us all unconditionally. I have never met anyone more genuine than my Papa, and I don’t say that in a biased granddaughter way. I created the #TeamPapa hashtag several years ago, and it’s stuck within our family. My cousin made us matching shirts with it as well.

When I was pregnant with Arham, because of his dementia we didn’t tell Papa but, subhanAllah, he would ask on the phone about the baby. When I went to visit him while pregnant, he asked where was the baby, why is the baby crying in the other room. Even with his dementia overtaking him, he still had an intuition somehow.

Although Arham got to meet him, I wish he got to grow up around Papa and see for himself who Papa was. Or why I am so fond of him. Why he brought me such joy and why his memories still bring me joy, why the memories are so strong and always positive toned.

He brought so much joy in my life, I can’t even describe it. It’s just not possible to put into words who he is for me and how much I miss his presence.

I pray Allah SWT grants him the highest place in jannat. I pray I can carry his legacy forward by being the best version of myself and make him proud. I pray I raise Arham to be the kind of person that Papa was.

 

What’s for Dinner: Pizza Ring

So a few days ago, on Monday, I made this Pizza Ring.

It was very easy to make, took very few ingredients, and was a quick meal.

What I used:

  • 2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano

How I made it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your baking day with parchment paper… so the pizza ring doesn’t stick and it’s easy cleanup!
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls, and keeping the two triangle pairs in tact… separate the rectangle pairs. Using two boxes, you should have 8 pairs.
  3. Line 4 of the rectangle pairs across one another so it creates a + sign… leaving a square gap in the middle. Add the remaining four rectangles to make a ring shape, overlapping the crescent rectangles.
  4. Add marinara sauce and Mozarella cheese to the dough near the middle. Add garlic powder and oregano.
  5. Fold over your crescents to create a folded ring.
  6. Add garlic powder and oregano on top.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes in your preheated oven. Serve warm!

Like my recipes? Click the below link to purchase my cookbook “What’s for Dinner”:

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button: