First, He Came for the Muslims

“If you force Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims” said Feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
 
I stand ready to register as Muslim in  said the Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
 
“I stand ready to register as a Muslim in solidarity if it comes to that” said actress Mayim Bialik.
 
I don’t know if it is, somehow, suppose to bring comfort or relief to Muslims in this nation for the support. And perhaps, on the surface, it may very well seem to be.
 
But it’s not.
 
It’s not because this isn’t the first time this has happened in our nation. No I’m not talking about the Japanese internment.
 
The year was 2002. The program was called NSEERS. National Security Entry-Exit Registration System
 
What was it, you ask? Essentially, it required non-citizens, non-residents in the US already and those entering the United States from certain countries, predominantly Muslim countries of course, to register in the U.S., undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted. The only country on that list that wasn’t predominantly Muslim was North Korea.
 
Who stood up for Muslims then? Which non-Muslims signed up as Muslims then as an act of defiance? And even if they did, what difference would it have made?
 
We don’t need just words of solidarity. We need action. Otherwise, just as we passively let him become POTUS, we will start to face deplorable consequences such as this Muslim registry.
 
What’s next? Segregated water fountains?  Separate seating on public transit for people of color?
 
First, he is coming for the Muslims. But the question is, will it end there? Who will be next? 
 
We must stand up and act. Contact your congress member. Call your senator. 

#NotMyPresident… but wait? He is.

I didn’t watch the inauguration. If you know what a news and political junkies we are in this house, this was big.

News are big in our house. Domestic and international. Politics are discussed profusely.

Throughout the day, there are texts, news alerts and tweets sent among our household group text. We watch the news together nightly.

The first inauguration I can remember watching with full memory is of George Bush. I have watched every one since. I know little tidbits like the oath is always at noon and other things that do nothing for my personal gain.

But I couldn’t watch today.

This whole election cycle, I feel we sat around passively thinking it was not possible to elect such a candidate and *news flash alert* he now holds the office. I don’t know if it says more about the type of people who support him or more about the type of people who passively allowed this to happen.

A man who lashes out on twitter over minute things. Doesn’t he, or should he, have better things to do? You know… like trying to figure out what this presidency entails exactly??

A man who probably has a contradictory statement for each one he has made. Probably on his own Twitter account nonetheless.

A man who is equal about discrimination against all. A racist, sexist, ableist, a bigot.

A man who lacks the basic understanding of what this position requires suddenly holds the power and control over so many things. Let’s not even start with the nuclear codes.

His own campaign staff didn’t/couldn’t trust him with his own twitter handle leading up to the election, need I remind you, but we are suppose to trust him as the POTUS?

Where do we stand, as a nation, now?

How much weaker are we as a nation in the eyes of countries around the globe?

Was it a publicity stunt for him? Perhaps. Are we suppose to wait around holding our breaths what’s to come in the next four years? No. Way.

Popular hashtags trending on twitter include #NotMyPresident and #OptOut. But you know what? Whether we like it or not, the reality is that he is now our president. And we certainly can’t just opt out.

I tried to convince myself post-election that we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. That rooting for his failure is essentially rooting for our own demise. But you know what? No. No we don’t have to. And we certainly shouldn’t.

Enough of the “how bad can it get?” and “what worse could happen?”. All logic and common sense has gone out the window. Anything and everything is suddenly fair game and quite the possibility.

As a matter of fact, it suddenly got just that more important to be proactive and speak up for what is right and what we believe in and make our voices be heard and be heard and hold those in office accountable. Not be silenced or sit passively any longer.

One of my biggest regrets will be that I wasn’t active in the election campaign this go around like I was during the Obama campaigns.

It starts small. It starts local. I urge everyone to become more involved in their own communities.

We can’t change what happened, but we certainly can have a lot to say about what is happening and what happens in the next four years.

His slogan may be “Make America Great Again”, and we certainly need to… but he certainly isn’t the one to lead our nation to do so.

Update: This can also be found here.

The Staff at SPUH

There is absolutely no worse feeling than your baby being unwell and you can’t take away their pain. For the past seven days we have either been at the pediatrician, at the hospital, or both. These past seven days have been exhausting, physically and emotionally. 

When Arham woke up ill Friday, and wouldn’t improve as the day went on, plus a doctor’s visit later… I knew I had to take him to the ER. I thought I was going in just so he would feel better with some IV fluids.

Little did I know what that night would have in store for us. Or even the next few days that followed for that matter.

To be quite honest, I was dreading taking him to the hospital remembering how painful it was (physically) for Arham when he was six weeks old and hospitalized and how painful it was (emotionally) for me. It’s traumatic and something I  can’t get it out of my mind.

Which brings me to what led me to start writing today:

The staff at Saint Peter’s University Hospital? Godsend. Especially the nurses.

The level of care [and comfort] they provided for not just my precious Arham, but my parents and I during the stay? It’s unforgettable. It’s something I’ll never forget and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am.

From explaining what I didn’t understand multiple times, to giving me time to process the information.

From being available for questions to continuously asking if I (or we) needed anything.

From listening to and addressing my concerns to allowing my parents to stay and be in the room with me when not typically allowed.

From using a flashlight instead of turning the lights on in the middle of the night to prevent disturbing my finally sleeping 15 month old to coming in later to try again to not disturb my child.

From understanding my fears and hesitation to providing any sort of help they could.

From calming my fears to reminding me prayers can change everything.

The list is endless, just as my appreciation towards them is.

It is an innate reaction to complain and not forget when things don’t go wrong, but we need to express appreciation when things go right just the same.

On a side note: I, myself, ended up in the ER one night while Arham was hospitalized — and they were so accommodating. A typical ER visit is hours long. They had me out within three hours so I could go back up to the pediatric ward to be with Arham and each of Arham’s nurses were just as concerned about me as they were of Arham.

Being completely honest, even though I always like to be safe rather than sorry, I wasn’t sure why they were putting my baby through excessive tests that wouldn’t help or weren’t even needed on that Friday.

He just had a terrible stomach virus I thought

THIS is why I was hesitating bringing my baby I thought.

It may very well have saved his life.

Let me tell you, it’s not comforting when multiple people are rushed into the room, each trying to confirm the diagnosis… and in mere minutes a plan of action is put into place and surgery team is prepped for backup. Neither is when you are told it’s “life threatening”.

It was a scary situation, and what could have been is too scary to even think about, but not for even a second did I doubt the level of care Arham was being given.

The level of response once the problem was spotted was absolutely amazing and that may very well have made the difference. I will, forever, be grateful towards the staff at SPUH not for just this stay — but for what they do always.

Some Day

Earlier this month, one morning, Arham woke up quite content. He got up, sat up in his crib and started playing. I checked on him a few times, he glanced at me before continuing to play. I should have been ecstatic, right?

So why did I feel sad instead?

It got me thinking…

Some day he won’t need me to feed him. Or even prepare his bottle.

Some day he won’t need me to change his clothes. Or even his diapers.

Some day he won’t need me to give him a bath.

Some day he won’t need me to fall asleep.

Some day he won’t wake up crying in the middle of the night looking for me.

Some day he won’t want to play peek a boo with me.

Some day he won’t want to cuddle so tightly.

Some day he won’t want me to kiss and hug him so many times daily.

Some day he won’t sit with me so patiently while reading through picture books.

Some day it will be him teaching me new things, not the other way around like it is right now.

Some day there won’t be an excited welcoming committee each time I enter the room.

Some day. Not today.

Today? Today is a different story and I will savor every moment of it.

He is mine to spoil. He is mine to love. He is mine to teach right from wrong.

He is the biggest blessing of my life.

He is fifteen months old today mashAllah… and if the first fifteen months are any indication, time flies by.

Mickey Mouse Cookies

I brought out my Mickey Mouse themed cookie cutters today to make chocolate chip cookies … because these days Arham loves Mickey Mouse.

You can use a store bought cookie dough, or click here for my recipe for my chocolate chip cookies

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.

Dual Role

Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers, unfortunately, passed away before I was born. So, what I know of them is only through stories and pictures.

33 years ago today, my maternal grandmother passed away. Two days ago, it was my Papa’s birthday. His first birthday since his demise last March. If you know anything about me, it’s how much I adore my Papa.

Papa, throughout our lives, held a dual role. He was, of course, my grandfather… but I always felt he spoiled us extra as if to do Nani’s part too. As if to make sure we never felt we were missing anything our Nani would have done for us.

I don’t think I fully understood the love Papa had for us until I saw my parents with Arham. The bond I had with Papa– I see that forming between Arham and my parents… especially with Abu. If Abu is present, Arham wants just him.

Losing Papa has left an empty space that I don’t think can be filled, as it rightfully should be for someone so dear as our beloved Papa. That void constantly reminds me of who I want Arham to be as he grows up InshAllah. I miss Papa daily, and often find myself looking at pictures of him or reminiscing of memories. I don’t know if it gets easier ever, it certainly hasn’t yet.

More than anything else, I wish Arham got to see who Papa was.

I feel as we lose the older generations that were the pillars that held our family tree together, slowly but surely, the leaves are falling off the branches. How much longer before the branches fall off and divide us completely?

Age is but a number. The level headed, down to earth honest people we had in Papa’s generation? Sadly, those characteristics didn’t carry forward as much for the next generation. Everyone has their own agenda, family ties mean nothing, good and evil are the same, morals are destroyed and values are negated.

Nothing gold can stay, and as the cycle of life goes, we must all meet our end one day… but I wish more than anything that their morals and values remained in the future generations.

If there was one thing I learned from Papa it was the value of family. He always tried to gather all five of his children, all in various states, and their respective families any chance he got. It was what made him happiest. I love that I am like him in that aspect. For me, family is everything.

Nowadays, not many value the importance of a family. It’s upsetting and unfortunate to say the very least. For me? It’s what makes the world go round. It’s what makes it worth waking up in the morning. It’s what makes one look forward to things.

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” [3:103]

Nowadays, sadly, people are happiest tearing others apart. People rejoice in other people’s grief. People enjoy havoc in other people’s lives, and cause it too. People jump in to see as if it’s a spectacle.

Truths aren’t held to be self-evident anymore. The wrong are encouraged and supported, the right are put on trial.

Hypocrites say and do anything just to protect themselves. No matter who is harmed in the process. No matter who is brought down along the way. 

We are better than this.

It’s everything that Papa stood against. What is suppose to unite us, should never divide us.

It starts at home, and it starts from day one. Dual role. The man Arham grows up to be depends on what (values and morals) I teach him. I am not just raising my son, but I am potentially raising someone’s husband and someone’s father. It’s a job I take very seriously.

A different kind of dual role, but a dual role, nonetheless, of significant importance.

I know Papa would be proud of me. He always was. But I hope, more than anything that, I raise Arham to be someone that would make Papa proud too.

I pray Allah SWT grants Papa (+ Nani and Dadi) highest level of Jannat. I pray Allah SWT forgives them for any of their shortcomings. I pray Allah SWT rewards them immensely for their good deeds– especially their roles in who we have become today because of them. I pray Allah SWT leads us all to be the kind of person that people can only say positive things about, even years after they leave this world.

What’s for Dinner: Apple Walnut Strudel

So for a potluck family dinner yesterday night, I made this Apple Walnut Strudel.

fullsizerender-1

Here’s what I used:

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-­purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 small Granny Smith apples
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

This is how I made it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy cleaning.
  2. Peel, core, and dice your apples. Add in the walnuts.
  3. Combine your brown sugar, flour, cinnamon. Mix with your apples and walnuts.
  4. Take your puff pastry sheet and roll it out slightly so it’s thinner (and wider).
  5. Down the middle of the puff pastry, add in your apple mixture (leaving room on both sides).
  6. Along the edges of the puff pastry sheet (on either side of the apple mixture), cut slits about one inch apart. Fold over one slit from each side as if to “braid” the strudel.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together one egg and tablespoon of water. Brush on top of your braided strudel.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 35 minutes (or until its golden brown).fullsizerender

Not only were the apple and cinnamon combination delicious, but the warm and soft walnuts added were a great touch.

Serve alongside ice cream/whipped cream… yum!

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.

Why Do We Fall?

As a nation, we failed.

And we failed our children the most. They are the ones to suffer the most. They will see the aftermath the most and be effected the most.

No, we didn’t fail because we failed to elect Hillary Clinton. In fact, it was never about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump the people themselves.

It wasn’t ever about them. It was about everything we stand for as individuals and as a collective society and what candidate aligns closely with that sentiment.

We, as a country, elected a racist, a sexist, a bigot, an ableist all in one who openly discriminates against all, … and all those that were at least embarrassed and ashamed and as a result hid their hate for all? Now, its socially acceptable to display freely.

The polls weren’t wrong. What happened was the closet haters didn’t express themselves openly until they could cast their votes in anonymity.

It wasn’t about the lesser of two evils. Rather, it became that evil [and hate] won.

We try and teach our children basic differences between what is right and wrong. We teach them that innately each person is equal and the same and no one deserves to think they are entitled or put anyone else down for any reason.

How do we teach our child(ren) it’s wrong, when we didn’t stand up for what is wrong? How do we teach our child(ren) to do the right thing, when we didn’t do the right thing? How do we teach our child(ren) to stick up for what is right no matter how hard it is or how unpopular it is, when we failed to do that?

How does one teach their child(ren) its wrong to discriminate, disrespect women or put others down when as a nation we said it’s totally acceptable? Let’s be clear: there was a choice and we chose this as a union.

Today, as a nation, we moved backwards. And to reverse this? Not as easy as changing the clock for daylight savings. We took a huge step backwards in the wrong direction. We have a lot of work to do and its going to be rigorous, but more important than ever to stick up for what is right. Now it’s more important than ever to have these honest hard conversations.

All the closet haters that were built in these past eight years since we elected Barack Obama came out in full force yesterday and spoke volumes. For anyone who naively thought we were making progress in terms of discrimination of any sorts? Our eyes were, unfortunately, opened to reality today.

Elections have consequences. Actions have consequences.

How can SO many people be … so far off from reality?

It’s easy to play the what if game. What if more people had voted. What if more people hadn’t wasted their votes. What if the media hadn’t created this monster. What if the voters turnout was greater in the primaries – would the candidate be different? Who knows. What if’s never become what is. And what is? Is an unfortunate reality that we now have to deal with.

It doesn’t just go away in four years. In reality, today, we opened way to create this as a new norm. We said, wrongly, that this is okay. That it’s okay to hate. And that isn’t okay ever.

I always send reminders to those closest to me to vote always — not just in the general presidential election, but all types of elections. It’s not just your right but your civil duty. In the aftermath, it’s each to say or think things in hindsight. But it’s too late by then.

It wasn’t a typical election with two qualified candidates with different views. We had a clear choice last night, but somehow made the wrong decision. I knew the American electorate is ignorant, but perhaps I underestimated just how ignorant they truly are.

I read something last night which was all true — last night’s election was like working with a dysfunctional group for a school project. You do your part, but can only hope that the others don’t screw it up. Unfortunately, more than half of the nation screwed up big time. A project grade didn’t depend on it though, our future did.

I have never been more scared, or more unsure of the uncertain future than I am at this moment. Not for me, but for my young thirteen month old son. He is my life. What kind of tomorrow are we choosing for him today?

We are suppose to be the role models for our children. For the future generations. As parents, we are suppose to be unselfish and make decisions to create good futures for our children. Each thing we do daily, is about our kids. And today, we didn’t just disappoint them – we failed them.

In some ways I am glad my son is to young to realize or even ask questions. It doesn’t stop my worries or lessen what is. But because I can’t imagine what it was like to be one of the many parents, and teachers, across this nation who had to deal with tough questions and have some serious discussions with the young children in their lives.

As I was discussing with Faraz about my sentiments and thinking of what to title this post, he quoted to me the following from Batman:

Alfred: “Why do we fall sir?”

Bruce: “So we can pick ourselves up again.”

As a nation, we fell deep. Picking ourselves up won’t be easy, but it needs to be done.

As I close off my thought for now, something I wanted to share — I am a US citizen, but I am also a Canadian citizen. And the biggest difference? The day we had our naturalization ceremony in Canada many many years back, we were reminded to never forget who we are and where we came from: that Canada is so great because it’s so diverse. Here in the US? It’s about assimilating. It’s about being all the same. We don’t celebrate differences, we try to blend in and not stand out or be seen as different.

And today? It’s now socially acceptable to hate what is different.

Update: This can also be found hereMy first time on The Huffington Post.

Why I’m With Her

Not feasible, but by the off chance someone isn’t aware that Tuesday is election day– don’t forget to vote.

As FDR said: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves”.

It doesn’t matter what excuse you are thinking of, exercise your right to vote. I urge everyone I know to vote not just in presidential elections [primary or general], but every election… but this presidential election there is a lot at stake.

The usual expected reasons for why I hear someone isn’t voting has taken a further step this year… because let’s face with it: not everyone may be tossing around a #ImWithHer freely, but the opposing candidate is an unconventional, [not to mention a very questionable] candidate.

Like I posted some time back — we have taken the notion to teach our kids that “anyone can grow up to be a president” a step way too far. There needs to be some sort of prerequisites and qualifications. As the many funny jokes say, and rightfully so, I can’t find an entry-level job without them all requiring 5-7 years of experience [how is that entry level then anyways??] along with other requirements… but he can run for president??

Why vote, you ask, when neither candidate stands out to you? Why vote at all? Whatever excuse you are thinking in your head as justifying why you won’t vote please remember that at the end of the day, any vote against [or not made for Hillary Clinton] is a vote FOR Trump. Which isn’t acceptable. This time, things are different. There’s just too much at stake. This isn’t some reality TV that will just go away if the ratings drop too low. This isn’t one of his business projects that he can claim bankruptcy the moment he fails.

Trump’s slogan may be “Make America Great Again”, but he isn’t the person. The only thing he is consistent about is the fact that he equally discriminates against everyone. What group of people, if any exist, are out there that Trump hasn’t discriminated and/or insulted?

The people who don’t vote are typically the first people to be listing their endless complaints. Even if you don’t complain, voting is not just your civic duty but also your right.

Why am I with her? No, not just because she’s a woman. That’s just one of the perks. As a new mom, I can say honestly everything takes on a new perspective and everything means that much more and there is much more at stake– the future for our children. Trump isn’t qualified and he doesn’t have the temperament. It’s the most clear-cut decision. And I’m typically a pretty indecisive person.

As a nation we may be moving our clocks back an hour tonight, but let’s make sure we move our country forward on Tuesday.

Arham Turns One

Arham beta, I can’t believe you are ONE!

I can’t believe my baby is a one year old, mashAllah.

A year ago today, at 9:44 AM, you came into this world and forever made mine infinitely better alhumdulillah.

To say anything but that this past year [and the pregnancy] has been anything but a roller coaster ride would be a lie… but it has been worth every second of it for you Arham beta. And to be quite honest, this past year flew by. I truly wish I savored every second of it for a moment longer.

You are, mashAllah, the biggest blessing of my life.

You are perfection, and I can’t imagine my life without you. What you bring to my life, I wish I could put into words for you but the following sentence will have to suffice: you are a pure joy and I am so lucky to call you my beta.

It truly is impossible to put into words the unconditional love a mother feels for her child. Your joy is mine, your sorrow is mine. There is nothing like motherhood, and rightfully so. If there was a way to protect you from the undeniable evil of this world, I would.

Because of how complicated and scary the pregnancy was, and how this past year in general has gone: I have not only cherished each moment, but also tried extra hard to celebrate every milestone, every new thing. Watching you explore your surroundings and learn new things each day have truly been the highlight for me. Watching the world, and our life, through your eyes has brought such an unique perspective that I cherish daily.

From the moment I found out I was expecting you Arham beta, I haven’t stopped thinking of you. Every decision I make, I make with the intention to have your best interest in mind always… and I pray you realize and appreciate that in the future. You have been first on my mind, and my priority, since day one of even knowing I was pregnant with you.

Your wellbeing and happiness is mine.

I may not be a perfect mama, but I am trying my best… and will always try my best to give you everything you deserve and what is rightfully yours. I will protect you from harm’s way with every ounce of me, but sometimes we have to leave things in the hands of Allah SWT.

Don’t ever let anyone wrong you. Don’t ever let anyone decide things for you. Don’t ever take no for an answer. You matter. Your opinion matters. I will always be your biggest cheerleader, but know this as well: I will also always be there to guide you when things get tough so you know what is right and wrong and for anything you need Mama for.  Always do the right thing, no matter how difficult it is. Never go down the wrong path, especially because it was the easy way out. Especially not because others encouraged you to. And definitely not because others were doing so.

Lately, I have thought often about why life gave you the short stick, and how unfair things have been for you because of other people but inshAllah it will be a blessing in disguise as Allah SWT is the best of planners. 

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. I pray Allah SWT protects you always, that He guides you in the right direction, gives you health and happiness, that you are a source of joy and happiness to everyone around you, and above all else… that He protects you from the evil (eye).

I am sure every mother feels like their baby is very smart, but I truly believe in your capabilities… and I pray you use your intelligence in a positive way always. You light up a room with your smile, and have from day one, and inshAllah you will light up the world with your talents in the future.

Mama loves you Arham beta!! I have loved you since the moment I found out about you. I will love you always.

Your proud Mama,