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


fall is here! well... sort of.

Sleeping in

Fall is officially here... even though we still have our AC on... and it's still in the high 80s, the kids and I are so happy that fall is here... which means the kids and I get to snuggle a little bit longer in our bed, and wake up to sweet potato pancakes!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

It's a simple recipe I got from Deceptively Delicious, where pureed sweet potato intensifies their nutritional value of a maple syrup saturated breakfast. Add a dash of pumpkin spice and even our mouths are welcoming fall!

Too sweet

Sweet Potato Pancakes

And Ava of course asks at breakfast, "can we go collect fallen leaves now?" And I have to explain to her unfortunately that being in the south just makes our seasons complicated. Fall is too short of a season for us to enjoy - where here, we can expect it to drop 20 degrees overnight, any day now... so she asks if she can go swimming instead. Not a bad idea...


Welcome fall - although you are technically here, we can't wait to feel you...

a subscription to travel, learning, fun

Lately, I've been thinking about how to connect the kids beyond our circle of playmates, toys, books, cartoons, the computer, and so on... And of course - it has to be special... educational. And fun. Is that not a tall order or what?

So I've done a little homework for myself - by first thinking about what I enjoyed as a kid... and one of the first things that came to mind was when my best friend and I exchanged letters when she moved to Brazil after Kindergarten. Over the course of the years (and still to this day), we have conn
ected through words (and when we were younger - through stickers!). It was such a great feeling - beginning with the simple arrival of a colored envelope addressed just to me. So I knew I had to start here...

And that's when I came across this wonderful new product online called Little Passports - a Global Adventure - a subscription to a travel magazine - but it's not a magazine per say - that would come in the mail, but rather a monthly way to explore, learn, and read about other cultures using
tangible items that really give the child a hands-on type of traveling experience.

Here's how it works: Choose a traveler plan (3-12 month options), to enroll into the program. Your first package will include a small suitcase, passport, world map, and an intro to the fictional globe trotters, "Sam & Sophia." Also included are secret codes that we could use on the website to access games and activities... (we can't get away from technology I suppose...)

Each month you're subscribed for, a parcel will come in the mail about a country the characters have visited, and will include souvenirs, educational fun facts, and so on... how cool is that? Yes very! And I will venture to say that although I think this concept is brilliant, I also think that this can easily turn into junk mail after a few months.

Because as with most things that we invest and buy for our children - embracing new things ourselves first - whether that's food, a book, or an educational toy - will be far more successful in their acceptance, and not to mention, enhance their learning. So for me - this will be the motivational starter kit that I have been searching for to help our kids really engage in other cultures, while also fostering their love for travel... like Aaron and I have...

I'm already thinking of ideas for some of the locations ... for example, for Japan, (photo above) - we could extend the learning by exploring right here in our own town and visit some of the Asian markets - or let our palettes experience some of it too, like cooking tempura vegetables (mmm... one of my favorites) or trying sushi with the kids... Noah would get a kick out of using chopsticks and Ava would love to make origami birds to hang above her bed... The ideas are endless...

If you want to take part in this family adventure right now though, SavvySource is running a special national discount on your first 3 months (including the starter package) for only $23.

I'm sure there are other wonderful resources out there that we could use to bring the world to our kids - if you come across any, please leave a comment!

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak! (Blessed Eid)... We had a great family celebration this past weekend - and the kids have officially declared, "Eid is the best Mom!"

Eid 2010

Eid 2010

Eid 2010

Other than the unraveling of gifts we were blessed to give our children, our holy month,
Ramadan, allowed us to devote some extra time to the learning, understanding and celebration of our personal faiths - of being thankful to God, reflecting on our individual selves, and spending time with our loved ones...

Eid 2010

Eid 2010

Teaching our children about our religion can be somewhat trivial for Aaron and I - as both of us respectfully practice different faiths. And at the same time, very natural to the two of us, as we both teach from our hearts -

And while we have Ramadan each year to help us reset - and then the wonderful festivities of Eid, there are also opportunities within each day to parent from this perspective as well. As the kids continue to grow, continue to question... our answers to sometimes the unexplainable are under scrutiny by the most curious minds. With the passing of my cousin this past summer, I shared my sadness with Ava. Truth be told, I felt she was too young to understand - but she amazed me in her sincerity and compassion (my, what our kids teach us!). And talking about these complex facts of life at such a young age, I have discovered, is a natural part of who we are as a family - questioning, answering, and figuring out what it means, together -

This past Ramadan was a good time for us to talk more about our faiths, and introduce more concepts... We spent one afternoon recreating a chapter from My First Quran using shapes I had cut out of construction paper the night before.

My First Quran

Together they pieced together night and day... mountains and trees... and then used stickers to place animals, fish in water and humans...

Art Project

Art Project

After wards, the kids wanted to paint pictures for God...

A picture "for God"

The entire activity was mesmerizing to watch - and how each interpreted the familiar - the sun, sky, clouds, rain, trees - all the things they have always been drawing - but today, under a different set of eyes... Ava asked, "Mom, what does God look like?" [smile] and I heard myself pause for a moment. What do I think God looks like?

pictures "for God"

And that is another blessing in itself - of how our own children bring us closer... While reflecting on this, Noah shouted, "Hurry. I have to finish. God will be here in 2 minutes!"

who spilled glitter all over my calendar?

I am suspicious of the days on my calendar. Quite honestly though, I don't really use a calendar. But when I do glance at one now and then, I gasp.

In an effort to start teaching the kids the days of the week (sparked by wanting to help Ava remember her friends' birthday party), we posted a calendar in the mud room above a red stool and Ava would mark the squares with her squiggly x's. The simple placement was perfect practice for Ava to learn the order of the weekdays - giving her a sense of responsibility (although some days, squares went by bare), to being able to recite Mon-Sun like a familiar song.

I'd like to say that this learning opportunity was the reason for my distraction about the days passing - but the truth is, my internal calendar is still displaying June. I'm at a profound loss as to how the month of August slipped past me. Or July for that matter. Oh July! Where did the entire summer go already?

So after our morning sloshing around between beds, pajamas and cereal bows, I went outside while the kids retreated to the family room for their daily injection of Nickelodean cartoons. I took a deep breath and thought for several moments about the ongoing to-do lists, the 4 books I've started reading, plans for this weekend, and oh - what to do with the kids today. As I was sketching the ideas out in my head, a funny thing happened. I felt a breeze. It wasn't just your typical breeze - that inconveniently blows your bangs over your eyes, but a deep rooted - change is coming - life is good - kind of a breeze. In a summer of 100+ days, this sensory hallelujah overload was so refreshing, I jumped to taste it.

I couldn't let Sept 1 drain out from under me like the summer months did. Today, we were going to celebrate. Beginning with an outdoor walk.


We collected a myriad of sticks, browned leathery-looking leaves, acorns, and some innocent by-standing flowers. Noah and I held hands down the hill... and up the hill. Ava asked about about the human race's supply of oxygen and if we would all "die" if our oxygen ran out (a real concern for her these days since she learned about trees!). These were unexpected, thought-provoking moments.... as well as many with pauses and stops to deliberate on whether we should turn back now or cut between the alley to get home faster.

The weather was warming up, Zoe our dog was panting, and Noah decided he couldn't "walk anymore." When our "It's Sept 1" celebration started to wear off, I took another bite, and decided that we'd make a game out of this. "I'm lost, do we turn right or left? What's the name of our street again? How many steps until the stop sign? Let's count, 1, 2, 3..."

Distracted by Zoe's sudden crouching on the grass, Noah yelled, "I made it. I'm home!" while running toward the swing. The poop bag went unused and Zoe ran inside the house (to poop I'm sure).


Time getting home didn't escape us like I had thought (and secretly hoped wouldn't like the summer months) - but rather was filled with more slow enjoyable moments - the conversations, scenery, sounds... added a dance to our step.
Ava and Noah's actions and responses toward my faux sense of direction actually stretched our morning walk even further.

As I was pushing, spinning, tickling, kissing and laughing with the kids on the swing, it dawned on me that this extra stretch of ourselves is like good karma from my carpe diem moment... and karma being a result of projecting my own creative self.

As parents, we have such an opportunity to create these kinds of moments for our children - and honestly - selfishly for ourselves too. The summer months I was feeling guilty about for passing right by me, actually did contain several dozen gratifying days like today - they were just spread out over the weeks and planned more diligently - like our family day at the theatre, going to the ballpark with Aaron, or simply reading 200 pages without interruption and a latte in my hand...

There were spontaneous moments too - like the time we parked the car at our favorite restaurant and instead of going right in to ask for a booth, we crossed the lot in the opposite direction to check out the fire station next door. This turned into a 40 minute event - where the kids toured, and sat in the fire truck pressing every button they could reach and Aaron and I got to meet one of the neatest fireman's serving Highland Park. Or how after our weekly jaunt to Lakeshore for a free craft project, my sister and I treated the kids to snow cones - where the owner surprised the kids with pieces of pink bubble gum - an exuberant discovery to preschoolers more rewarding than gold is for pirates.

Un-impressionable "blank" days on our calendar is like purposeful whitespace in art work. We need it to fully appreciate the bigger picture, to weave together the pieces that make up those events that do shine heavier in our minds. From my viewpoint, it's like someone spilled glitter all over our family calendar - and there is quite simply - a bit of sparkly on every square.


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