EMAIL: . TEXT: 202-643-1855 . PHONE: 800-658-7574

Saturday, February 11, 2017

[painting: 'Sohni' by Arpana Kaur]
a poem for our future child: 

waiting for you to make the journey
so that we can be together 
is one of the hardest waits ever

sometimes i feel i hear you
pitter patter
when i hear the rustle of the wind through the trees
or the drumbeat of my favorite song

sometimes i worry for your safety
as you may have to cross rivers
or oceans
and i hope for your vessel to be strong

there's a confluence of birds singing
and i think maybe i hear
your giggle
among them

how strange it is to feel a love this deep
and to pray for your safety
and long for your arrival
when we haven't even met yet...
or have we?

- Sapna

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Celebrating Love & Light!

Sahar and I love celebrating the holidays and festivals of our cultural traditions with our community of close friends here in Washington, DC!  Usually, we are able to celebrate both Eid and Diwali at the same time, but unfortunately this year they fell on days quite far apart.  The flip side is that rather than hosting one lively, fun gathering, we had the opportunity to host two!  This past weekend we celebrated Diwali, also known as the festival of light.

Diwali is actually a five day long festival, with each day representing a different aspect of celebrating love and light.  One of the Diwali traditions I really enjoy is creating colored powder/chalk drawings, known as rangoli.  Rangoli are typically drawn right in front of one's door to adorn the threshold and welcome one's guests during Diwali. I've seen extremely elaborate rangoli designs that are complete scenes from stories we grew up with to more simple geometric drawings - even though I'm not exactly great at drawing, I try every year to make a fun design!  This year, we were in luck because our good friend Sushma's sister was visiting DC, and she is an incredible artist.  She drew this incredible rangoli on our back porch, which we then visited with candles.  It not only served as a fun welcome, it also served as a wonderful place to take pictures with our loved ones that evening!

Another thing Sahar and I love about hosting and celebrating holidays is the opportunity for multiple generations to come together. It was absolutely wonderful that my parents could join us and celebrate with our friends, sharing stories of the games they played and how Diwali was celebrated when they were children.  This year, we also had very special little guests in our good friends Anita and Rachid's two year old twin sons, M & S.  The boys were absolutely fascinated by the candles we had out for the celebration, especially the ones adoring the rangoli, and lit up when they saw their first Diwali sparklers being lit!  Sahar and I loved having M & S there, and can't wait until our daughter/son gets the chance to meet and play with them as well 😄

- Sapna

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall is here!

The last few weeks have brought cooler temperatures to the DC region, and with it, the change of seasons beckons. Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the lower humidity (finally!), and of course, the gorgeous fall colors as the trees turn blazing red and orange and yellow in a last burst of glory before finally shedding their leaves to the ground. Fall is also the time when markets are full of delicious vegetables that are perfect for roasting, and their natural flavors means that they need little seasoning to be YUMMY!

Delicious fall veggies! Roasted sweet potatoes, beans, mustard-glazed beets with goat cheese, and a hearty fall salad with mixed greens, sunflower seeds, boiled eggs, and a tahini dressing. :)

The fall also means back-to-school season, and I'm especially attuned to this since I teach. I always grumble a little bit about all of the work that must go into preparing for a new academic year, but the truth is that I LOVE going back to campus and being back in the thick of things. I love reconnecting with my colleagues, but most of all, I love seeing the students again. Some of them are students I already know, and it's always fun to see how they've changed, and what they did over the summer. But meeting new students is always special, because they're just so excited about this new phase in their lives (and, of course, they're also a little nervous!). There is something really satisfying about helping these new students navigate their new environment, and helping them to think differently and to see the world around them in new ways. Even after all of these years of teaching, I haven't lost my excitement about meeting these new students as they begin their academic journeys.

The fall also brings the excitement of seeing all the little people heading back to school, and I love how my Facebook feed fills up with photos of kids on their first day of kindergarten or first (or second or third!) grade. This season always makes me think of new beginnings and I love the promise and hope that this burst of activity brings. Good luck to all of the little and big people out there who are starting on new adventures!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

We went to Disneyworld!

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks because we have had an amazing summer full of visitors! We are so lucky to have a big and loving family, and even though some of them live far away, we get to see them regularly. This summer, my sisters both visited. One came from Islamabad, and the other from London (on her way to Karachi). We also had a visit from a cousin whom I have just reconnected with, who lives in Montreal. Plus, lots of friends. So, it has been a wonderful and active summer. But this post is focused on our very special trip to Disneyworld!

We were most excited this summer to have our nieces visit, who are our two most favorite people in the world. Z and M are now 12 and 11 respectively, and we have been in their lives since birth (I was with my sister for her delivery and actually watched M being born). It requires a whole separate blog post on how much Z and M mean to us, and how rewarding it has been to have been in their lives from birth through toddler-hood, to now tween status and watching them on the brink of teenage-hood. More than anyone else, Z and M have prepared us for parenthood, and they are one of the biggest reasons why we are so looking forward to welcoming our own little one into our family.

At Disney with Buzz Lightyear!

Making funny faces in a photobooth in Disney

Learning a new game from M while waiting in line sure made the time go by more quickly!

Disney Castle!

Showing Z how to whittle while camping (yes, we also found time to take the kids camping during their time with us!)

The highlight of Z and M's visit was our trip to Disneyworld! We all loaded up in the car and took a long but fun road trip to Florida to go to Orlando. Of course, the kids were EXTREMELY excited, but so were the adults! Disneyworld is an amazing place - it's truly massive and quite overwhelming but it's extremely well-organized and the staff were all very helpful and friendly. Even as adults, it was impossible for us to not be drawn into the "magic" of the place and get into the fantasy and make-believe that Disney does so well, and we all enjoyed ourselves completely and thoroughly. But what really struck me and Sapna was just how focused we were on Z and M. In fact, our source of joy throughout the trip wasn't our own experiences, but rather the joy and excitement that Z and M experienced on each ride and adventure. We both instinctively found ourselves completely centering the kids and their interests, and what was most fun about the trip was watching the ways in which Z and M enjoyed themselves on the various rides. It was also really fascinating and really fun to see how both of them have such different and unique preferences. It turns out that Z absolutely LOVES roller-coasters - the faster and more exciting, the better! And M loves rides that combine a story with the journey (the Aladdin ride was a particular hit, as were all the Dr. Seuss rides in Universal Studio, which we also visited while in Orlando). The trip was another reminder of just what joy it is to be around kids, and how much we are looking forward to going to Disneyworld and all sorts of other adventures with our little one someday.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Visitors from near and far!

April was a full and busy month for us, with lots of dear friends visiting us. Our first visitor was our friend Patrick, who used to live in DC but is now living with his wife Dominique in Indiana. We hadn't seen Patrick for almost a year so it was great to see him and catch up with him and hear about how he and Dominique are settling in to their new home.

Sapna, Patrick, Sahar
We also got to see our dear friend Nikhil, who was visiting from New York. Nikhil and I have been friends for almost 20 years, and it's always wonderful to see him and catch up with him. Another dear friend, Imi, stayed with us too during April, as did our dear friend Aman.

But probably the most exciting visit for us was when my friend Nilou visited with her husband Raman and their daughter Zara, who is 7. The trip was timed during Zara's spring break, and it gave us a wonderful opportunity to spend time with her - for example, learning about her Shopkins collection (a brand of toys).

Zara tells Sapna about her Shopkins collection
DC is a great place for kids, and we were reminded of that during Zara's time here. I took Zara and her parents to the zoo, which was a treat for all. The highlight of the zoo visit was, of course, the pandas, who were out and roaming about. Zara also really enjoyed seeing the elephants. Over the next few days, Zara got to see all of the great museums in the city (which are completely free!), and we were able to spend some quality time with her.


Zara and Sahar

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Growing food and other fun stuff

I grew up in Karachi, a massive city, which means that I wasn't very exposed to farming or rural life. As far as I was concerned, food showed up in a market and one bought it from there, but I never had any conception of where that food had come from. Of course, I had learned that Pakistan was mainly an agricultural country, and that most Pakistanis made their living through farming, but the notion was very abstract to me. The main exception to this was my mother's garden, which she took great pride in. The garden mostly consisted of beautiful flowers and other decorative plants, but there were occasionally vegetable patches too as well as fruit trees, and those plants and trees were always the most fascinating to me.

But as an adult, I moved even further away from Mother Nature, and never gave any thought to gardening seriously. Until Sapna and I moved into our current home, and we finally had a back yard to experiment with. And that has set us off an great and fun adventure with growing food.

Growing one's own food is one of the most satisfying experiences. There is such a sense of accomplishment at having made something grow and then harvest it, and then to actually be able to eat what one has grown. There is also such a sense of happiness to know that one knows exactly what has gone into the food that one is eating. But really, what always get me every single time, with every single plant, is the sheer magic of growing food. It is such a miracle to me that I can plant a seed into the ground, and water it, and give it sunshine, and that it will just grow out of the ground and become an actual plant. That is MAGIC!

Yesterday, I was reminded yet again of the magic of growing food because Sapna and I hosted our annual gardening party. The party is a wonderful occasion to bring together our friends, neighbors, and families, and this year was another wonderful and festive occasion. Sapna took the lead on the garden, as she always does, and I made sure our guests were fed and taken care of. A lovely addition this year were three young children, ranging in age from five to ten. They were all so eager and excited about gardening, and they loved planting seeds and learning more about the different kinds of plants we will be growing this year. It was a lovely opportunity to connect with a new set of children, and it made both Sapna and I think again about how much fun it will be to garden with our own child someday soon. I can't wait to show them the different kinds of plants we can grow - tomatoes, cauliflower, okra, eggplant, peas, cantaloupe, and of course, all of the beautiful flowers that we will plant together. We are both so eagerly looking forward to that joyous day.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Surviving Snowzilla!

A massive snowstorm hit the East Coast last weekend, and left us buried deep! The snow started on Friday morning, and came down almost continuously until Saturday night. The DC area isn't used to a lot of snow, and this was almost 3 feet dumped on us, so it really paralyzed the area. Schools were closed, offices were shut down, and transportation slowed to a crawl (and, in fact, public transportation was completely shut down for a few days). But rather than let all the snow piles get us down, we decided to use it as an opportunity to play instead!

Sapna getting ready for a serious snowball fight!

There was enough snow to go sledding, build snowmen, and of course for plenty of snowball fights! We had a great time playing in the snow, and are so looking forward to sharing this fun with our little one someday.