Singing into Slumber. A collection of our favorite Urdu lullabies

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One favorite childhood memory is of bedtime when my mom used to lie down with us every night. She would tell us a story followed by a few loris (lullaby) she would sing to us as we drifted off to sleep. Nadiya and I would get to take turns to choose the story and I remember how irritated I used to feel because she would always pick Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I don’t blame her now though because mama told that one really well! When I had the top bunk bed I hated that mama couldn’t lay with me so she invented this system where she tied a dupatta to the top side and every time I tugged at it, she would give it a little tug back so I knew she was there. She would lay with us for a while and usually, we’d drift off with her lying in bed with us but once in a while, I remember watching as she quietly slipped out of the room. And she did this for us, lay with us for bedtime till I was at least 12 I think. The loris (lullabies), were a few favorites of hers which she would sing to us almost daily and they have stayed with us after all these years. We still remember them so well and I have sung them for Anya over the years. Among them is one that my nani (maternal grandmother) made up in her sweetest broken Urdu for me when I was a baby. As we got older sometimes we would complain and ask mama to sing us happier songs so she would laugh and sing the latest Shehzad Roy songs for us (Here’s an example. Major nostalgia warning if you grew up around the same time). It was a very happy, peaceful time and even remembering it now gives me the same, ‘feeling very safe’ feels.

I myself though, have had a love/hate relationship with bedtimes with my girl. Anya has always had a hard time falling asleep and I haven’t been the most patient mom in handling that and so our bedtimes haven’t been quite so peaceful. But even then I have enjoyed singing the same loris that my mom sang to us after I lie down with her and we say duas and cuddle together.

Here are some of the loris that my mom used to sing to us + a few that I love singing to her at bedtime.

MAMA’S LORIS

Chanda kahe Lori mei

Do akhiyan yeh do sakhiyan

My nani’s Meri Rani I love You

 

MY ADDITIONS

Uzair Jaswal’s So Ja

Kaavish’s Nindiya Re

Junoon’s Neend Ati Nahi // Also love Zoe Viccaji’s cover of Neend Ati Nahi

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Do you have any favorite bedtime memories? Do you sing loris to your little ones? I would love to hear especially if you have any Urdu lori recommendations. Would love to add more to our collection:):)

Thanks for reading. Lots of love

ALSO My husband’s music because some of the tracks make for great relaxation music //

ALSO FROM PREVIOUSLY ON THE BLOG: These road trip memories  // Big memories from the almost decade spent in our little house  //  A friendship story + lots of memories // Scents and memories from a family reunion // Memories of my mother-in-law

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a DIY tee from Anya to her daddy.

20160821-IMG_3801Last year, Bilal’s birthday came on our first full day in this house. You can imagine how crazy things were on that first day, surrounded by boxes and chaos! In the midst of packing, a week or so before that when I asked Anya what she wanted to make / do for baba for his big day, she told me she wanted to make a t-shirt (they both had a joke between them about making t-shirts for each other and so it made even more sense) and the wheels started turning in my head. Anya was super excited about her gift and I thought I would share it here today.

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MAKING OF THE T-SHIRT

Supplies

A White Tee from Bilal’s closet (He buys them in bulk so we knew he wouldn’t miss one:p) / Black Fabric Marker (Available at Joanns or Michaels) / Pencil or Fabric Chalk / A ruler /

I know my girl has a strong mind but I wanted to give her some guidance in the project so it’s something that her daddy is more likely to wear, in the house at least. At the same time though, I wanted it to be ‘her’ project and didn’t want my ‘need for perfect’ to come in the way of its cute-ness.

 

The Process

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I began by asking her what she wanted to write (had to make sure I didn’t correct her and use her words as-is because they are what make this project special).

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I searched for ideas on Pinterest, and wrote / drew a few designs I liked on paper for her to choose from.

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She was a little nervous about the writing so I wrote the words out with pencil and let her trace them over with the fabric marker. Of course, she added a few details on her own in the end (see that little flower?).

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Rolled it in some pretty paper for a simple wrapping and waited for the big day to arrive.

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// Don’t forget to iron out the t-shirt + add a cardboard in-between before you start using your marker //


And here’s the simple breakfast celebration (using our ever-ready party supplies box) we had that morning. It is fun to look back on these photos now to see how different the place looks now. Will try to share more from how it looks like now soon :):)

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Thanks for reading you guys.

I just might drop in more often from now on, let’s see how it goes. But all those messages you send, letting me know you miss my blogs.. warms up my heart, really! hugs.

Lots of love.

ALSO FROM PREVIOUSLY ON THE BLOG: THIS DIY PILLOW COVER IDEATHIS ADORABLE HAND-DRAWN STUFFIE FOR ANYA / PAINTING HANDMADE STUFFIES CRAFT FOR ANYA’S 4TH BIRTHDAY PLAYDATE

The day you turned 5

As per tradition now, a photo story of the day you turned 5.

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Your baba and I stayed up the night before to blow up these balloons for you to wake up to on your big day.

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Waking up the next day, super excited to be turning 5. A little post-breakfast celebration in the form of a mini donut tower.

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I made you a little treasure hunt for your birthday gift and you were so excited as you tried to find each little clue leading up to your present.

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Exploring your brand new little robot. // And later helping me make our birthday cake.

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Talking to your nani on the phone and telling her about your gift // More robot exploring with your daddy. (This is the one Bilal got)

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I told you I wanted to take some birthday photos + do a video-interview of you and you excitedly decorated the space for me. (Here is an example for you guys.)

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You chose Cheesecake Factory for your birthday dinner because of the Happy Birthday song they sing for you and it made me reminiscent of your 3rd birthday dinner there. How time flies!

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I had been feeling bad that I hadn’t baked your birthday cake after your 1st and 2nd birthdays when you were too young even to enjoy them and wanted to make the rainbow one that you wanted. Sadly it was an absolute disaster (Please don’t ask why). So sorry baby girl. Thank God for the tiny extra cake we had made that we were able to decorate instead!

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Hanging out with us as we couldn’t stop remembering the day you walked into our lives. 5 years of being your parents Alhamdullilah!

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All day we got messages from all over and we tried to read as many out to you as we could. Ending the day with some Skype with some of your favorite people.

PHOTO STORIES FROM EACH OF HER PREVIOUS BIRTHDAYS HERE.

Thanks for stopping by! Lots of love!

Life Remembered – A Memory Book

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On January 19th, it was 4 years since the death of my dad and the first time when I was not with my mom and sisters on the date.  I had bought this journal a few years ago and sat down this month to finally print out all of the messages and memories that have been left for him on Facebook and email and adding them to this. It was so bittersweet, going through all of them, I couldn’t stop tears as some reminded me of so many painful days but in the end it felt so good to do this. My dad was so blessed Alhamdullilah, it is unbelievable the kind of love he received while in hospital and since his passing, we have received messages from countless people, some that we didn’t even know, who told us how he touched their lives. That is such an honor. And adding all those messages in one place felt so good to me!

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For those who’s hearts ache with a loss, it helps to be able to do something like this that reminds you of them and their life (Also helps to give some sadqa in their memory). In January as I silently grieved, it helped to do a few of these things that made me feel so much better!

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Thanks for reading. Lots of love.

ALSO: Shadow Frame to honor my dad’s memory // Memory Table at my sister’s wedding

Reminiscing, of road trip memories

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Road trips always take me back to childhood memories. My parents were very adventurous and both of them loved travelling specially when we were very young. I have so many happy memories of those times with my sisters in the backseat as we travelled to one place or another with our parents. Luckily being from the air force, we kept moving cities and each city brought opportunities for new adventures. On the night before the trip, my mom would dress us up in the clothes for the next day and we’d go to sleep all dressed up. The next day we would be carried to car half asleep, and the journey would begin. My mom would pack a meal for the way, sandwiches, her tasty pulao or something else.

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I remember eating our breakfast by a little river in Hyderabad one time and I remember the many many lunches or dinners where we’d stop by at a roadside hotel (or dhaba in Urdu which is a small roadside hotel typically for truck drivers serving very low cost and tasty food). My dad would give them our karahi(wok) or our pot to warm up, order naans and we’d enjoy the meal either in our car or sometimes even inside if they had a ‘room for families’. I remember my dad used to jokingly call them ‘greenu hotel’ because of the garish color of green most of these use to be painted in. Our whole family loved the truck hotel daal and we used to love trying that out during our drives.

I remember the excitement we felt as kids, especially if we were travelling at night. It just felt so adventurous to be up past our bedtimes and just sitting cozy and safe in our cars as we anticipated the arrival of an exciting destination or our home. Nadiya and I had endless games that we loved to play in our car. Of course there were many fights too. The lines in the upholstery of the backseat marked our areas and no one dare even inch a toe into the other’s area. When Waliya came we happily gave her the tiny area between the middle of the two seats and she had to stay in that. (With no rules for booster seats or seat belts, actually few cars even had seat belts in those days, we could move around freely).

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A special favorite were trips to our grandparents house in Lahore and once our parents gave us a surprise. We thought we were going to Rawalpindi, from Sargodha. Suddenly we saw some of the famous Lahore monuments but they quickly distracted us telling us they had probably built replicas where we were passing through. We even believed them. In our defense it was night time so in the dark and night lights, many cities look similar, TILL we saw some WALLS billboards and we knew. WALLS ice cream had just arrived to Lahore and another reason we loved coming to the city! Anyways our excitement was beyond imagination:)

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We had games we would play in the car. Nadiya and I had one where you had to count the number of VW Beetle cars you found (We called them foxy) and the person finding more would win. The rule was, you had to see it the window on your side or it didn’t count. We even had our version of a computer game that we played with our finger being the figure and us having to jump over the obstacles we found on our side! Good old days really. I feel kind of sad when kids today have to be entertained with DVD players and phones and tablets in the car. Because seriously the creativity that came out of boredom lead to amazing memories for us!

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All photos above from my parents photo collections taken on various trips through the years. A white Corolla has been a part of our whole childhood. Except for a few in recent years, most of the cars in my dad’s life were White Corollas:)

Today whenever we make our own road trips, it always reminds me of these memories. Our family is different with my husband and I coming with different expectations so its definitely not the same. My husband’s and my idea of travel are different in many ways too. I like to explore more and of course take lots of pictures. My husband wants to relax mostly and it becomes kind of a challenge if I push him too much or if we end up not doing much. (You know how it feels when there’s a super crabby person in the car when you’re stuck with each other on a long drive?) Ten years down the road, we still haven’t mastered the balance but in between our cracks we are slowly building our own road trip memories repertoire.

Do you have any special road trip memories from when you were growing up?

Would love to hear.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.

Guest Book for N+H wedding

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I mentioned earlier about the photo guest book I got printed for my sister’s wedding and just wanted to share a little more about it today. I ordered the photo book via Shutterfly, and used this design with some changes. I loved the simple modern look and the bold typography of this template. Thanks to my baby sister Waliya, this lucky couple had lots of beautiful photos from their year or so of being engaged and I used all those photos in the book with empty space for messages from loved ones. A few weeks before the wedding, all of us family members started writing messages for the couple because we knew it won’t be possible on the big day with everything going on.

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All the above photos thanks to Jahanzeb Khan Photography

On the big day, we left the book out with a permanent marker to write on at the memory table we set up (More about that here) and reminded friends and extended family to leave messages/advice for the couple.

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And here is the couple, day after the wedding, reading all the messages, heartfelt, funny and full of love. Loved watching them read them out to each other mashaAllah!

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These photos above by Waliya 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

On living far from your family and finding little connections.

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Living so far from our families is at the back of my mind a lot and since Anya was little, I have tried to find little ways to bring their presence into the routine of our daily lives. It is a tiny little way to say that even though we don’t get to see them here, they are an important part of us and our lives.

The other day as soon as we entered Trader Joe’s, I saw tuberoses (not usually found here) and instantly they reminded me of Pakistan and then my mom. So I put them in my cart as I told A about the connection I felt with them. I told her that every time we smell their beautiful fragrance in our house they’ll remind us of her and she got it! After we got home, she would happily snif at them, saying ‘ooh I love nani’.

And it made me wonder about what our kids will take from this; from a lifetime of seeing us miss our families. In us finding little ways to connect to our parents and families, through the recipes we make, through the flowers we bring in our houses, the books that lie on our shelves, the songs we listen to on the loneliest of evenings and the values we try to pass on to our kids. For me, all these little things are a bittersweet way to feel the presence of my family on a daily basis. Maybe that’s why Bilal and I love telling stories to A about our families.

If you are homesick, or if your heart is aching from being so far from your parents or your loved ones today (specially more so during the holiday season), try this. Share an advice or a story about them to your kids, bring your mom’s favorite fruit and tell your friends about it as you give it to them (like my friend did recently), watch your sister’s favorite movie, print out some family photos to put on your fridge or on your nightstand.. it helps to have little ways to feel their presence.

Near or far, hoping our kids (and ourselves) are surrounded by the love of our parents, siblings and loved ones for all of our lives.

How do you make the pain of living far from your family a little bearable for yourself? Would love to hear ideas.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

ALSO: On missing our families // Celebrating together when you’re far // Keeping your kids connected to your families the long distance way