Sophia drew portraits of me and Evan at school. Someone said that I (on blue paper) take up the whole paper and am bigger than life; I couldn’t agree more and this is probably just how Sophia feels! I am all grown up and my mom is still everything and bigger than life to me, too! #growingupsavvy #moments #kidsart #sisters #sisterlove❤️ #motherhood
Category: Food For Thought
These days our lives are much like this merry go round; round and round they go. Events, birthdays, parties, and family gatherings keep popping up on our calendar and while it would be nice to have a few weekends or weekend days to ourselves, we press on and try our best to make it to every single one. Family and friendships are very important to us and we do our best to maintain them by joining in special celebrations.
I feel like in this day and age and especially at this stage in our lives, as parents of young children, it would be too easy to drift apart from our circle of friends. But the support and diversion that our friends and family provide from the at times deep-trench warfare that is parenthood is immeasurable. And so, at times beaten by dress-related battles and toddler tantrums, we press on to the next birthday bash and outing. In doing so we are teaching the girls that family and friends are relationships that must be maintained, honored, and cherished.
Years ago, eight in fact, Evan’s best man spoke at our wedding. Among other things, he spoke about all the time and adventures they had shared over the years since meeting one another in kindergarten. Kindergarten, I must remind you, was a long, long time ago.
Many years have passed since grade school and while their lives have taken them to different geographical places, these lifelong friends make time for each other when it matters. This past weekend my in-laws hosted a most lovely reunion for Evan and his friend. He and his little boy, were visiting his parents who also joined.
Our Saturday morning play-date was special because this was the first time Evan and his friend both spent time together as fathers. And seeing them catching up, the kids toddling around, made me realize how fleeting life’s moments are.
Time is the most precious gift and that is exactly what these two people with full lives gave each other — a few hours to catch up. No matter how busy their lives have gotten, they have always made time for one another and, I am sure, so it will always be.
It has lately been too hot to go outside in the evening after dinner. Maybe not too hot, but too balmy and humid. Last night, we’d all had enough of this and finally decided to brave the dog days of Philadelphia’s summer and go for a walk after dinner. Dinner was, by the way, a sake and ginger poached chicken breast served with basmati rice and peas. The girls love it and the poached chicken works beautifully in green salad for lunch the next day, too. But I digress.
Walks, I have discovered, are a wonderful way to talk to your kids. I rarely if ever take the stroller and we instead hold hands and stroll. We stroll at the girls’ pace and are sure to discover every nook we come upon. We stopped by the Girard Fountain Park yesterday because the water feature there is so lovely and one almost instantly feels cooler from the sound of running water in the heat of the summer. Trying to keep cool in the heat is why the Moors placed such importance on fountains in their gardens in the south of Spain.
In addition to discovery and exploration on the girls’ part, there is discovery on my part. I get a chance to hear the stories from their day and find out what Sophia and Eliza are interested in, what they did today, and answer questions they may have. Every parent has their shtick, that which they find of utmost importance or the principal that they parent by. Conversations and explanations are mine. I firmly believe that, and I have long preached this on this blog, children should be conversed with as adults. That children deserve and need explanations and not edicts. This may take time, but you are teaching your kids communications skills, vocabulary, logic, and reasoning, and you are also getting to know your children at the very same time.
Some will disagree and say that an explanation is just too many extra words or that a two year old will not understand the reasoning behind this. An explanation is extra words, extra effort, and a two year old may not always understand, but a child will learn. Moreover, the saying that “mom knows best” is true except it is not just mom, but mom and dad. We are, after all, an egalitarian household. As such, when others offer advice and feel that they know better, always listen to their suggestions and reasons, but remember that they’ve had their chance at parenting.
This past weekend was supposed to be amazing. I had grand plans for the three days at home catching up on rest and relaxation. Except that just as Sophia was getting over a stomach bug, Eliza came down with it and Sophia somehow, somewhere picked up the common cold.
My sister hosted a beautiful dinner to celebrate the Fourth of July and we baked a Danish dream cake to accompany our singing her a very Happy Birthday. I took the girls to a woodworking gallery where we ogled chairs which cost $10,000.
And although we would have done just fine, we appreciated all the help my parents lent us this weekend. My Dad came in on Sunday to spend a bit of 1×1 time with Sophia and then, the girls both spent the better part of the day at their house on Monday.
More than the hands-on help or the blintzes and chicken soup, what we got was just what we needed—support. When you’re up in the middle of the night with a baby who is so warm that you’re sweating holding her and are not sure if you should head to the ER, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.
All the reasons we moved back to Philadelphia and our decisions to uproot our life in Maryland are justified each time we see our family.
Kids now-a-days have so many toys that most parents, including us, have a difficult time finding ample storage and managing the inevitable clutter. The best possible entertainment, I find, are activities that we make ourselves and not ones that are specifically for the kids anyway. We involve the girls in our everyday life encouraging and expecting that they participate in our family life. One such example was the making of a Vanilla Bean Raspberry Swirl cheesecake which both Sophia and Eliza helped me make. Eliza helped weigh out the graham crackers and Sophia crushed them and mixed the melted butter into the crumb mixture. Sophia also helped swirl the unbelievably good raspberry sauce before we put the cake into the oven. She loved being so creative with the swirling. The cheesecake turned out out of this world and a recipe is forthcoming.Speaking of homemade or handmade or made at home and by hand is this beautiful quilt. My sister Anna has taken two years to make it and it was worth the wait. It is so special because it is made especially for Eliza. The design is bright and airy—it isn’t too girly because of its geometrical pattern structure but hints of femininity with its bright pinks and reds. Without trying, the quilt has brought the rest of the elements in her small nursery together. Eliza loves to cover herself with ” ‘da blaket ‘dat Anya made!”This weekend was mostly about spending time as a family. We followed what has become a bit of a routine—a visit to a coffee shop, a trip to the farmer’s market, a dance class, and lots and lots of time outside.
The wedding was held outdoors overlooking Independence Hall and the beautiful park grounds of Old City. I never tire of this view and never take it for granted. Sophia and Eliza helped make a wedding card and we think it turned out rather cute.
Wrinkles are signs of life’s lessons learned willingly or otherwise. The deep ones on the forehead are evidence of worry, of heartbreak, and of disappointment. The deep ones around the mouth are signs of laughter, of happiness, of real understanding that it is important to find joy in everything, even in the loneliest, saddest moments.
These days have been the most difficult ones in my life. Thought it has been tough, I see myself surrounded by people whose sole agenda has been to offer endless support and remind me that “this too shall pass”. True love is from those who are there for you and with you on your worst days.
That head of tousled hair, those blue-green eyes, that soul and its mind-blowing imagination. The eyes, they say, are the window to a person’s soul and if that is so, then Sophia’s must be a big, passionate one. I was digging through thousands of pictures this weekend and came upon this very one. It is a year old and, while her hair is longer and she knows what a contraption is, Sophia is still the same gentle soul whose silly side comes out for those she knows and loves most. No weekending post recap — we’re thinking back on easier, simpler times.
Too pretty to eat? Almost. Evan and I went out on a dinner date to celebrate my birthday this Saturday. I didn’t want anything for my birthday except for a leisurely dinner and maybe drinks. We went to a restaurant that is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and Evan surprised me by bringing wines from our travels past. He brought a white from the Landmark Vineyards which we visited when we took a not-even-two-year-old Sophia to Napa and Sonoma. Evan also brought a wine we bought in Alentejo in 2003 when we drove all across Portugal and visited Evora. Spectacular as those wines were, my dinner companion, and reminiscing about our travels made this birthday celebration very special.
The girls, meanwhile, did not sulk at home—they had Grammie and Pop to entertain them. There is something unbelievably charming about grandfathers and granddaughters and especially this lovely pair right here. Beautiful as his artwork was, I found the fact that my father-in-law embraced face painting with Sophia so very endearing. I love seeing how much he loves and dotes on his granddaughters.
To round out the weekend, Evan, the girls, and I entertained at home for the first time in this house. These friends are very special for us and we were looking forward to showcasing some Azerbaijani and Russian dishes. Putting on a dinner party isn’t always easy, and even more difficult when you’ve got a clingy, hip-hugging, almost-two year old companion toddling around. We made stuffed cabbage, an Azerbaijani eggplant chicken stew, a fish baked in an agrodolce sauce, and chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt. There were also homemade blintzes with a fresh fruit compote.
The kids played so beautifully together, the adults were able to socialize, and enjoy wine (from proper wine glasses). I suppose committing to unpack a box or two a week really does have its benefits. It felt great to host, to entertain, and to share food with friends. Happy Monday!
Most will agree that there aren’t enough days in our lives that we devote to celebration, family, and ourselves. April is upon us, and once again, my birthday. In years past, I’ve adhered to what had become a tradition for birthday celebrations. This year is not too different in that I carved out a little bit of time for myself for a very leisurely cup of coffee and spent that time thinking on … whatever. That cup of coffee did come after making the girls’ lunch first thing before Sophia headed off to school—because birthday girl or not, I am first a #workingmom and an #early bird.
So how does it feel to be in my early thirties? Marvelous. I now recognize that these are the best years of my life. The kids are young (and oh so delicious) and the inconveniences of old age haven’t yet appeared. I may no longer be in my twenties but I still feel like my whole life is ahead of me, that there isn’t anything I cannot do, and more importantly, that I have a huge bucket list of things to do, places to travel to, and experiences I’d like to have. It is good to have goals and even better to have someone to share those goals with.