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


we're going on a hunt

It was a long but productive Friday - zipping through work at home while Aaron and the kids went looking for mischief. Sometime mid-morning, I received this email:

"Get in your car and head to Mecca... At least until you get to the tree that bears fruit. Then turn your sights on someplace warmer... like Mexico. Drive to Mexico until you see a house with an orange paw print in their yard. Make a left turn, then an immediate right. Drive until you see the street that bears the name of 9000 cathedrals and turn left. Continue driving 1.34 miles and make a right. Be certain that before you turn, you pass the path that the black bird takes. You will see a place where small people tend to congregate. Park your car and pretend you are one of them. Do what they do. While you are at it... Make some music. If one of the three instruments is making a funny noise, investigate and you *might* find your first clue.

Good luck and God speed. P.s. You will be better served if you bring a small shovel with you for the last step."

And so... when the evening rolled around, we all jumped in the car and went on this year's first scavenger hunt! We had a blast trying it last year, where we discovered Geocaching in our area and found a handful of surprises hidden in different pockets around town. Aaron spent the morning with the kids scouting good places and writing clues all while entertaining the kids with this idea of hiding "something" for mommy...

My first clue took me to a neighborhood park. Make music...hmmm... could be inside these drums here...

Is it in here?

Get out the GPS

Uh-oh. Coordinates! I plugged them into our GPS and found myself arriving here...

3 Smileys

And behind this pole, taped inside a ziploc bag, was my 3rd clue:
"Look for the tired tree and see if it has something for you."

Back in the car, with new coordinates, I found myself circling our lake, looking for the "tired tree" and spotting it immediately here [do you see it?]

Lazy Tree

Wrapped around a tree branch sticking out of this tired tree trunk, was another ziploc bag with the final coordinates and clue: "Look for Ava's chalk and start to dig." By dusk, we arrived at our final destination - hunting for the treasure buried somewhere here....


Ava couldn't remember and my other little guide was already fast asleep in his car seat. The mosquitoes started to swarm on this hour, and I had no choice but to give-in and ask [beg] for another clue....


Slowly, Ava revealed today's treasure hunt prize - unearthed 7 hours later ...


The personalized treasure hunt for "mom" was a nice touch. The gnome has always been a favorite of mine - from concept to novelty - he has always somehow magically appeared [literally] at some of the most striking periods in my life. The first being almost 10 years ago when I arrived at work and found one on my desk from a co-worker who had left her job. [She later went on to travel all around the world].

And then there was Amelie, which inspired Aaron and I to do something similiar on our first roadtrip together to Canada and the north east. We took pictures of a "roaming" album in some of America's iconic locations [Sticking out of a backpack overlooking Niagra Falls... and being held by an Elvis impersonator in Memphis...] which lead to some bizarre and memorable moments...

And in recent years, the roaming gnome has found his way into my life on different occassions - most recent being with my career!

Traveling Gnome

We've been hiding the roaming gnome [in the fridge, upside down over the bathroom sink] and in other silly scenery around the house - just because.

He brings a smile to my face. Maybe it's his cheerful cheek bones radiating happiness or the long white beard fashioning his knowledge and wisdom... or his funny red-coned hat that loudly emphasizes how life shouldn't be taken so seriously....

growing green thumbs


We are whirling into summer and just now stopping to take notice of the changing seasons after a lovely weekend spent in the backyard. A trip to Home Depot with the kids brought out the horticulturalists in all of us as we hand picked our flowers, plants and tree! Ava came home with 9 packets of seeds, of which I later had to explain that we simply didn't have the gardening capacity [nor patience] to grow onions or marigolds. So we compromised on the sunflowers and peppers - and she prepared her green thumb as her and Noah filled their watering cans and waited.... playing between the sandbox and pool...

Taking a Dip

Once Aaron and I got our gloves on, we realized the backyard was in serious need of revitalization. We trimmed, mowed, chopped, dug, raked, nailed, hung, swept, power-washed, and fainted [technically speaking]. And while we still have a ways to go, it was time well spent as a family together in our backyard, cleaning up and beautifying our outdoor spaces.

What's more, it was deeply comforting watching the kids so comfortable with nature... spotting snails on trees or marching behind ants... running, climbing, and exploring with barefeet and doing everything that makes the city girl in me shriek [literally speaking - especially when a garden snake came face to face with my hand shovel] and yet adire their free spirits to explore and learn about all things - crawling or slithering....

It's Raining!

The reward for our laborous day was well received - it rained in time to cool us off, and make the children's playtime outdoors even more fun.

After the rain shower, Ava found her seeds and clutched them at her side with her shovel in hand - repeatedly asking if she could plant them "now?" But unfortunately the garden wasn't ready yet. So with my working gloves still on, I reached to grab Ava and give her a big hug for being so thoughtful - and in her most sincere but whiny voice she said, "Mom. You're getting me all glove-ily."

Our Family Gardening Tips
1. Share your list of chores - like raking and picking up large branches - with the kids. It not only gives them something to do, but also makes them feel important and engaged with what you are focused on doing as well. It's not a race to see how fast you can plant an annual - the idea is to share in the joy of doing so.

2. Children's garden tools come in all shapes and sizes. Stock up on a few and create a small area in the backyard just for them. They'll appreciate their own personal area and boost their confidence as a gardener.

3. Plan ahead. Our purchases were spontaneous on this nursery trip, but I would highly recommend having a good template to work with before you leave home. Count your pots [even note their colors] and where they will end up going to ensure you get a good balance of those vibrant summer colors you're looking for.

4. Start a nature collection - allow them to gather their interesting finds in a bowl to talk about later or even use in an art project...

5. Extend your green thumb beyond your backyard and give back by purchasing a tree for our rainforests. Several sites are available: Rainforest Rescue International, World Wildlife Fund, or Rainforest Foundation.

vrooom.... already 2!

Early to rise, our birthday boy woke up bashful as I sang "happy birthday" to him. We unveiled his gift and he let out a big "wo-----ow" from his multiplying vocabulary - and then zoomed his cars and trains across the tracks until it was time for him to go get his haircut. Planning a special occasion amidst busy schedules was a daunting task - but in a day, we were able to pull it together and call upon family and friends to come help us celebrate...

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

We struck gold with a carnival theme... making favors out of old fashioned favorites like cotton candy and fun trinkets. We had ice-cream cake and spent the afternoon showering the front lawn with our laughter - playing games, bouncing, running, and swinging at a flying pinata...

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

As the evening settled in, so did the kids. Humzah, Sophia and Ava headed indoors for bathtime - but not Noah. He refused to go in before the sun fell off the horizon, and instead, rolled on the lawn all by himself, with his new cars gripped under his palms - soaking his day in - and having the time of his life... turning 2!

Noah's 2nd Birthday Party

32 - a magical year

So... I magically turned 32 today. It's not a milestone year - although, its been feeling that way a lot lately. So much has been accomplished in this past year alone - that when I look up at my inspiration board above my desk, I get that funny feeling in my stomach - the good kind anyways.

So much to be thankful for - blessings too long to list but thank God for daily. And in this year where I have become a hermit to all of my friends - I received the most emails and phone messages wishing me a "happy day" - I was literally blown over (thanks guys!).

We retreated over to the Legacy Shopping Center in Plano, dined al fresco at Main St. Bakery where I highly recommend the Opera Bastille pastry!

32nd Birthday

Taking a walk

We took a walk around the pond... and the quick stop to the
Legacy Bookstore proved refreshing - Ava and Noah discovered they love chocolate covered sunflower seeds and strawberry-mango smoothies... and I discovered I'm smitten with this privately owned contemporary bookstore... and bought a few things.

sharing sunflower seeds

In the evening, Aaron and I went out to dinner, and then headed back to celebrate with family for the ceremonial cake. As I looked at my candles - 3 and 2, I realized that divided, they symbolize the age of my kids... a small discovery, that I can claim only once in this lifetime...

32nd Birthday

Earlier in the day, a treasured email arrived - all the way from Afghanistan, where my father relayed his birthday wishes and love for me and Noah. The note was brief and humbling... as I have never expected my Dad to remember such occassions... We always paraded our birthdays around him without warning - bringing out a cake and seeing his expression, "why didn't anyone tell me?" smile - and then turn to go put something photo-worthy on.

And yet this year, without any warning... he danced in my parade.... and lit the entire sky with fireworks just for me - on his own. 32 - is a magical year indeed... [smile].

carnival comes to town

Ava has been wishing to go to a carnival for months... after watching her animated friends on favorite cartoons like Little Einsteins and Dora the Explorer take in the scenic adventures of rides and fill on sweets like cotton candy, she'd say in one deep sigh, "I wish I could go to a carnival." Mimicking what cartoons do is not something I condone. In fact, the only reason why we DVR her cartoons and keep the tube on PBS is to avoid the very pitfall of having the kids see something on TV they suddenly realize they want. Later she brought up some of the memories we made last year and announced, "Remember when we went on the train? And there was a ferris wheel?" - and on those notes, I set out on a mission to find her a carnival to experience all over again.

I didn't have to search very far - my sister discovered a carnival in town this weekend, and emailed me the details. Aaron and I dropped everything and packed the kids for a ride over to Grapevine - to relive one of her favorite memories of summer...

Main St. Carnival

Main St. Carnival

Main St. Carnival

Main St. Carnival

Main St. Carnival

My favorite moment was watching Ava count out 12 of her coupons to purchase 2 bags of cotton candy and then stopping to watch their cousin Humzah brave the carousel riding Dumbo, while stuffing their faces with clouds of pink and blue...

Main St. Carnival

As parents, we strive every moment of their childhood to be as fun and whimsical - but in reality, and they are beginning to understand this, is that there is a time for everything - even time-outs... which is why moments like these are too precious to let go off.... just like the cotton candy melting in her mouth...

it's in the every day

The Dallas Arboretum played beautifully as our backdrop for Mother's Day - where my sisters and I spread a picnic for Mom and enjoyed the views from near and afar... Especially by my niece Sophia, who was visiting the gardens for the very first time. She curiously watched us feast and then scurry after her playmates, who were taking full advantage of their mobility, and exploring with bare feet...



what roses?


The hours strolled by with waves of heat - too early for this time of year - and we set off in search of relief from the garden toads...



and cupcakes of course...

Mother's Day 09

... after swiping all the dyed frosting, the three musketeers persevered through several more hours of play thanks to their Aunt RoRo and MoMo...

piggy back rides

Mother's Day 09

Preparing for this special day in advance was challenging and I’ll admit, at times even stressful. We constantly wondered, "What would Mom want for Mother's Day?" and knowing the simplicity of her wish - to be around us - didn't seem like enough or encapsule the eternal gratitude and devotion, respect and honor and ... infinite praise and blessings...

After all, Mom and the rest of my family are already a part of our "every day" life - How could we make this holiday special?

I tangoed with this idea until I finally asked myself the same question. Not surprisingly, I found myself landing on the same page that reads:

Motherhood in and of itself, is special. The ultimate gift is the everyday.

The daily involvement and shared occurrences on all of life’s moments, and being together not because of obligation or guilt, dependency or need of company, but for the absolute value of what it means to be a family.

It is in the waking up of each day, in our roles as a mother, that we in fact receive the eternal gratitude and devotion, respect and honor and ... infinite praise and blessings...


Wag & sophia

my lovely


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