...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


celebrating cultural creativity

Instilling cultural traditions in our kids is not only a great way to tell stories, but it also helps them see that they are a part of a much bigger picture... where the world around them suddenly extends across oceans and people...  all drumming to a different beat than the daily routine they are use to.

A fun way to teach and engage our kids about some of the cultural differences is by participating in a multi-cultural event. Many local cities and schools host these - and in a few short hours, they are stamping their passports and being transported to faraway places through food, music, dance, and art - all creative expressions that uniquely define our nationalities...

We were lucky that our elementary school hosted one, and thrilled that Ava had the opportunity to share with her friends, a little about herself and her heritage... even going up on stage to say, "Salam. Khush ahmaden!" {Hello and welcome!}


National flags were waving high... parents adorned the tables with foods and recipes passed down to them... and music filled the air including dance lessons on how to "hula." 

Japanese calligraphy...


and henna tattoos that lasted... well... a little longer than we imagined... but they were beautiful!


I wish I had more photos to share - but I was wrapped up in the festivities of the evening. Mom came too, and made one of my most favorite Afghan dishes to share - Bolognee with green chutney and yogurt!


Oh my valentine

I don't know what it is about V Day that I dread... and yet am tickled by when it's here. Maybe it's because I'm still coming out of the xmas, new year, Ava's birthday.... Maybe.

And somehow, that didn't stop me from stretching the special cupid day to all week.  Like Valentine books on our tables, chocolates set out in candy dishes, heart balloon stickers on our windows... and of course daily crafts... like making and mailing cards...


 Repurposing crayons into hearts... [find out how we did ours]


 And pink pancakes with redalicious fruit for breakfast...


Even Zoe was spoiled... and received an overdue trim and red bow...


And on the day itself, there were flower surprises and cards... lunch with the kids at school, chocolate and pink cupcakes, class parties, and a home party after school - complete with a tablescape of sweets, individual gifts and decor streaming from the light fixture. (Forgot to take a pic of that!) Even dinner was made with heart-shaped pasta!


It did get overwhelming. Because I wish I could say it was easy to pull off. But it wasn't. There were several trips (repeated ones) to the store, coordination and scheduling around the kids weekly activities/sports, taking personal time off from work... baking cupcakes at 3am, and so on. A frenzy of sorts... but all welcomed if it solicits moments like these.... 


Happy Valentines! xoxo!

Mother/Son Date Knight

Maybe you can relate, but when you have more than one child, finding unique things to do with each one becomes a bit of a challenge. I've always gone for the "family" spectacles, but with having a boy and a girl... so close in age, it's not always easy getting them to agree. About anything. So in my search for singling out time with individual kids, I came across a Mother/Son Date Knight (thanks to V day coming around the corner).

I can honestly say that I was surprised to see many of the Moms dressed up (with tiaras, costumes, and heels). Ahem... my ball gown was at the cleaners unfortunately. Still... we coordinated pretty well I guess... all in jet black.


The gymnasium was filled with knightly activities: jousting, swordsmanship training (followed by a "knighted" ceremony and a personalized "official" certificate), catapulting volley balls to hit large cardboard boxes and arts and crafts.

Outside, horses were waiting to take us on a ride... and that by far, was my most treasured moment of the night. Without jackets (a big no-no for me) in the cool brisk night, the two of us rode horses, side by side, and held hands. It was so quiet on the field, I could hear him breathing in the cold air. He said he was more cold than scared, and was having fun.

Me too Noah... I was cold and scared... to see you grow up so fast. But I'm having fun watching you grow. Every day.

Next month, Ava and I are catching Pinkalicious on stage! What are some mother and son/daughter traditions in your city to do or make time on your own for? I need ideas for next month!

green beans please

With our new kitchen remodel almost completely done - my vow to start cooking has arrived. *Gulp* But it wasn't until the kids came home "starvin'" after school that really propelled me to wear the apron.

Our routine has always been for Aaron to come home, shop for dinner, and then cook a meal... which usually would present itself by 8pm. The kids couldn't do this anymore with school in full swing. They would fill up on so many pantry snacks - it was driving me crazy.

So I've taken dinner duty seriously for the past few weeks - balancing out flavor, colors, nutrition and the time. I personally didn't grow up eating "vegetables" - Mom cooked those inside the meal. And I'd just eat my favorites, like spinach (turnips - yuck!). But what about these others... green beans, peas, asparagus, etc.... They are so foreign to me, that unfortunately my kids aren't growing up eating them either.

So there they were - on our plates for dinner. And just like that - they were outcasted before they had a chance to introduce themselves. Ava was easy to bribe.

Yes. I said it. Bribed. With a Blue Bell Fudge bar. And within seconds, all the greenery on her plate disappeared. She looked at Noah and said she'll wait to have dessert with him. But Noah wouldn't budge with his grin.

He had to inspect it, rip it, smell it... and then whine about it. Looking down at my own plate, I realized I hadn't touched mine either. So I distracted myself and started to chew. For the next 20 minutes, Aaron, Ava and I talked about vegetables - how they weren't just going to go away. We talked about Popeye, how his cells need the nutrients -  you name it. Before I knew it, my own green beans were gone. It's by no means my favorite - but they are good for us. They are vibrant and beautifully green. Crunchy and soft... with a punch of water inside of our mouths. There's nothing else like it. I say, more green beans please... 

We're still working on convincing Noah though... 

What kind of veggies do you love?

balancing act

Being a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) for the past 6 years has been a balancing act that teeters on many beams - of all shapes and sizes. My sleep schedule is proof of that. I will be the first one to admit though, that I wish I was better at it. And by better, I mean I wish I had more time in the act.

More time to fully focus on one thing. Instead, I drift into yesterday re-plays, how-to's, to-do lists, what if's, troubleshoots, and occasional "how many calories was that?" kind of moments. So there may be 5 things playing in my head, even though I'm staring at one thing.

And quite frankly - I don't think I'm alone in this. No matter how many calendars we juggle, appointments we make and lists we mark off, there is no said amount of time we think - will ever be enough spent with those we cherish so dearly. My kids are proof of that.

Instead of watching cartoons while I cleaned the kitchen yesterday, the kids offered to help me make pico de gallo. The recipe didn't call for it. But my personal guilt for letting the veggies spoil in the fridge... did. So I had to say yes. (Forget the fact that they were using sharp knives for a moment)...

Watching the tomatoes gush between Ava's fingers. Noah proudly claim how the onion didn't make him cry... my playlist playing in the background... treading lightly so I don't step on Zoe (our dog) whose waiting for scraps.... taking pictures and checking email for a clients' response...

For me, this was a handful of moments. And no matter how often I wish to have just one, right now, it's my balancing act. Like making this pico with the kids... Unexpected. All different. Tossed together. And tastes delicious.

Weekend Getaway - Houston, TX!

Labor Day Weekend... was quite frankly, a celebration of our parenting labor. With the first week of school out of the way, workers at our house daily, and our day jobs, it just seemed only natural to "get away."

By Thurs. we switched from "camping to somewhere in Texas" to visiting the Space Center in Houston. And we were all thankful for that - because it was another hot weekend! By Friday, Aaron and I booked our hotel and purchased our City Passes - which allowed us to see/do so much more. We would highly recommend going this route if Houston is ever on your list of places to visit.

It includes 5 attractions - so we picked the Space Center, three museums and the aquarium. Arriving early allowed us to squeeze multiple museums before dinner. By checking hours and miles, we coordinated seeing what we wanted - all into 3 days. And as if that wasn't enough, we threw in swimming at the pool, bowling, glow-golf, and the Kemah boardwalk. Sure we felt like collapsing by the end of each day - but that's what hotel beds are for.

Day 1: The Health Museum. As it's name suggests, here is where for a few hours, kids can really get a close-up on about everything and anything cool and "gross" about our bodies. Our journey began at the mouth, where we entered this exhibit full of interactive lessons. Where are our voice boxes? How loud can you scream? What does our brain control? How are our bones connected? Where is my small intestine? How are babies born? (that was an interesting conversation...) Why do some people wear glasses? What is DNA? and so on...

The 4D movie was a bonus - where we learned how viruses attack our systems. (The kids thought getting sprayed was pretty gross). As a parent, I thought the 30+ hands-on exhibits were smart. Many were geared for young kids to play with - but I'm afraid it was too fun to learn anything. The kids wanted to watch things go, move, light up. Which is why stop 2 was more age-appropriatly perfect....

My. Oh my. Three floors of complete and utter... play! My kind of play - from chemistry labs, to water works, climbing to inventing - this is the place for little explorers. In the 4 hours that we spent here, we couldn't cover it all. But we did get to try some of the hands-on science experiments like making polymers and hot air balloons to test in a wind tunnel. 

I've never seen a "jungle gym" quite like this (on left). 3 stories tall - it was mesmerizing just to look at.

Downstairs was dedicated to dress up - a mini city where you get "play money" - to spend in the "restaurant" or "grocery store." Out of money? Get a job. As a vet, a forensic scientist... you name it. You get a paycheck. Go to the ATM and withdraw the money you just made. It's really beautifully planned (nicely funded I'd say). This is Ava inside of an ambulance. 

Definitely plan to spend a whole day here. I know we will next time!

We picked the aquarium as our last stop because we were already in downtown... and it had lovely late hours... oh and did I mention carnival rides? The tour through the exhibits went by quickly... we paused to watch the white tiger for a bit, had dinner upstairs, and then headed for the rides and lights outside.

On our way there, Ava said, "Mommy. I'm sorry you never got to be an astronaut." She remembered. That was something I had shared with her a very long time ago.. maybe at night when we looked at the stars in her bedroom. She must have been 4. Space has always been my wonder. When I was a kid, I would cut up pictures from my science textbooks (Sorry P.S. 91) and paste them into my journal.  My sister had already warned that astronauts must be of a specific height and weight... have 20/20 vision. When I came home with my new pink eye-glasses from the optometrist, I knew it was over. I was 12.

It tickles me that Ava remembered this story - the timing couldn't have been any more perfect.  Maybe she sensed my nerdy, "I've watched Space Camp a hundred times," excitement. Maybe...

I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know much about the Space Center before going. Did you know the training facility where they train - is an exact replica of the international space station? And it's huge. Here's just a small corner. 

They are working on proto-types for vehicles that will last longer and do "more."

We drove by the Mission Control Center on the tram tour, and heard over and over, "Failure is not an option." (I think this is going to replace my "dream big" motto at home).

Being inside of a space shuttle... just blew my mind away. A little surreal even. I'm just so thankful the kids got to see what I so often wondered about at their age. At their age. I can't believe I can say that already.

The rest of the museum caters to families with small children - where they could bounce and play on exhibits and ride crafts that simulate space travel. We watched a space shuttle launch in the theater, played in the jungle gym for a few hours, and of course - ate Dippin Dots.

 If you're ever in the Houston area, and you have a kid - you must come here. As Noah demonstrates, you'd be crazy not to.

We took the kids here while on a trip to Galveston when Ava and Noah were just 2 and 1. (They were so little!) Here's a photo I remembered taking with Ava... 

So we had to stop and take another of us now:

Sniff...sniff... Kemah has definitely improved in 4 years - including more attractions...

But we stuck with the same things - getting wet! 

This one caught off us guard. It's exceptional and a must do in downtown. Newly remodeled, the museum boasts a new paleontology hall the size of a football field and more than 30 dinosaurs!

Yup. This would be a prehistoric megalodon. Yikes!

Beyond dinosaurs (which were really cool), the permanent exhibits are geared to teaching kids about the African wildlife, The Americas, Egypt, Texas Wildlife, Chemistry, Earth, Malacology (too bad we couldn't find anything like it on our last beach trip), and Gems and Minerals! I wish I took more pictures of these natural beauties (stones and minerals of imaginable color and radiance). But photography isn't allowed in most areas. Although I did get one of Ankh-hap, whose approximately 2,400 years old. (oops). 

The kids think mummification is really cool (and "frankie") and the topic always comes up always around Halloween time. It's not just a tale kids... they did this for real! And seeing in person - is what learning is all about!

If you're planning a trip to Houston - all of this is completely doable in a weekend (we also took the kids bowling for the first time after the Space Center). But if you'd like to take it slow, the Space Center, Museum of Natural Science and Children's Museum are our favorites! 

Happy weekending... and learning! 


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