Happy 6th my girl

Every year for the past 4-5 years, I have shared a photo story of Anya’s birthday. This one is for her 6th birthday with an excerpt from the letter I wrote to her the night before her big day.

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Good Morning baby girl. It’s finally here, the day you have been waiting for.. You are 6! Alhamdullilah. This birthday is extra-special because this year you can read and I’m so excited I can give you this letter instead of saving it for you like I’ve done every year.

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On this special day, I just wanted to tell you that your baba  and I are so proud we get to be mom and dad to a smart, loving & kind-hearted girl like you. You amaze us each and every day. I know that you love looking ahead towards growing bigger and another year older, but you know its so much fun to look back at times like birthdays also, to see just how far you have come.

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You were only just starting to read at your 5th birthday & look at you now, reading everything. You’ve started Kindergarten, lost 6 teeth & grown 4. You had to move from the only home you ever knew; though you didn’t want to and even after missing it all the time, you still are settling down here and already making so many new memories. You got to learn many little life lessons about adapting and learning and stepping out of your comfort zone and courage . This year you grew in so many different ways my babe!

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Every day these past 6 years with you has been a special one my love. You love us like no other, you test us and teach us and make us want to be better parents, better people, every day.

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I love your loving and your cuddling especially when you walk into our room at night.. I love your always on-the-go mind as you keep asking me all those questions after dark. I love the way you’re so sure of yourself and know just what you want or not. I love your excitement and laughing like crazy when you play those pretend games with your dad. I love your sensitive, kind heart when you worry about animals, trees and the earth. I love everything about you and hope you always remember how special you are and that even if we miss your baby days and how adorable they were, we love watching you grow and turn into our own little friend.

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I know you will continue to push me and test me and drive me crazy but never for a second will all of this be not worth it. Stay yourself, my girl. Love you forever, your mama.

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Behind-the-photos :  After I was done setting up the birthday decorations + balloons the night before // Anya checking out her room in the morning and reading mama’s letter // Skype with her nani (grandma) and khalas (mom’s sisters) khalu (khala’s husband<-) after breakfast and opening gifts from them // blowing out the candles on her donut tower-cake which she asked for // Running all around the house on her treasure hunt till she finally found the gift from her mama-baba, her own grown-up camera // staying in for dinner instead of going out as she wanted to ‘spend time with family’ and eat ‘daal and roti’ // (not photographed) Skype with her Taya and Phupo / Dressing up in her puppy costume and spending the afternoon like that / A movie night followed by me reading out all her messages to her to end the evening

Thank you for following along all this while you guys. Remember her in your prayers.

ALSO: Stories of her previous birthdays ( 2nd / 3rd  / 4th / 5th)

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Looking back. Looking ahead.

Found this in my letters to Anya from two years ago, “It is 2.30 am, 19th Feb 2014, you’re 3 years old. I want to stop time, I want to go back. That baby smell, those chubby rolls. I want time to go on, see you grow and discover and learn, see the world through your eyes, re-live my life through yours. And I can’t decide what I want more. “

Last Friday Anya turned 5 mashaAllah, and I feel the feelings again so for today just some looking back and remembering!

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TURNING ONE: Photos taken by A’s Waliya khala in Islamabad as she turned 1 // This is how we celebrated her after we came back home.

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TURNING TWO: The day she turned 2 // Here is a photo story of her day.

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TURNING THREE: The story of the day she turned 3 // Photos from our Birthday Tea Party

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TURNING FOUR: The story of the day she turned 4 // Birthday Playdate with her friends.

More from her big day soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

Crafts for Kids : Cardboard boxes doll house

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One good thing about living in a small place is that you think twice (or many times) before buying large items for your kids, like a doll house. I have so many fond memories of playing with my sister with the doll house my nani nana had given me that I felt sad but made peace with it, till I saw some ideas on Pinterest to make your own. We collected our Amazon delivery boxes for months because we needed only small ones, and then one Saturday morning finally finished this with her watching excitedly!

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After we had our boxes, I hot glued scrapbook paper to the walls and the outsides of the boxes to give it some color. The roof part came from a long piece of cardboard from probably an Ikea packaging. The furniture and a few of the figures, my sisters had bought for Anya and now all of her little figures from various play things live here including Elsa, Pluto, the ponies from My Little Pony 🙂  

It is one of her favorite things to play with these days and I love it! I’m sure you’re dying to see some close shots of what’s going on in her little house, so here’s a look 😉

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I just left the boxes unglued to each other so she can make her own formations as she likes, like this one day, when it turned into an apartment building!

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If you’d like to make one too, here are some ideas that inspired me (1, 2, 3)

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

ALSO: Cardboard Box House // Crafting with Kids // DIY Ideas // In the Kitchen with Anya

Letters from Anya. Letter Writing for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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After seeing this idea on a cup of Jo (which happens to be one of my favorite blogs btw), I have been doing this with Anya and it is so sweet! I cant seem to find the original post to link up, but the idea is basically to get your little one to read out a letter that he/she wants to write and you write it for them. The first time I asked Anya to tell me what she wants me to write, she loved the idea and has since then made me write multiple letters and cards for her daddy and our families.

Love the way this idea helps them formulate their feelings and convey them even before they actually can write themselves. Some of the letters that she has made me write have been hilarious. Its adorable!

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What do you think? Will you try this with your little one?

Simple DIY hair accessories

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Since Anya was a baby, I have loved putting little bows and hair clips on her. There seem to be more options for buying hair clips for little girls these days but back when she was a baby it was really hard to find ones that I liked. I ended up with a lot of simple DIY hair accessories for her which I absolutely loved. Thought I would share some of those today.

We started with the tiny little bows my sister made when Anya was born, which I put on simple elastic headbands. When she was really young I also made some crochet chains to use like headbands and attached bows to those too.

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As she got a little older, I tried covering snap clips with felt to keep her hair off of her eyes.

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And later on also tried covering simple headbands with fabric and making headbands of our own.

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And it has been so simple to convert pretty much anything into a hair clip by hot glue-ing an alligator clip or a snap clip to the back.

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If you’d like to make your own hair accessories for a little girl in your life, here are some good supplies to have:

– Metal snap clips (like these)

– Alligator clips (like these)

– Felt Sheets in different colors (like these)

– Hot glue gun (like this one)

– Thin Elastic (like this one)

– Also good to have: Buttons in various colors, Scraps of fabric, lace and ribbon, Plastic or fabric colored plain headbands, Fabric Glue

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This last headband above was a handmade gift from a friend. Isn’t it beautiful?

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

On Clothes and What We Wear

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Remember when I used to do the What We Wear series on the blog? You might be wondering what happened with that, (or you might not be but anyways), here is a little ramble on that. I started that as a still-new mom and thought all moms including myself need some motivation to take time out for themselves and feel better about themselves through the way they dress. I noticed it was common to lose yourself for a while when you became a mom, and realized I felt so much better when I put a little thought into what I wore. I wanted to inspire other moms but I have to admit, I was uncomfortable doing it. I may write about a variety of things, but blogging about style or what we wear is definitely not something that lies in my comfort zone. For me, What We Wore, was more about experimenting and looking at our wardrobes another way. Somewhere towards the middle of it though, I wasn’t sure how it was coming across and ultimately I guess I just lost interest in it.

Recently, I’ve felt a bit differently towards it all. In the past couple of years, I’ve loved browsing through stores randomly (in-person and online) whether I needed something or not. It felt exciting to find something I loved on these spontaneous shopping trips. At some point though, it started feeling a bit pointless. I mean, we have limited time in our days (and our lives for that matter) and is randomly browsing through stores for the slight chance of finding something great, really how I want to spend the free time that I have? I realized I want to curb on this urge to randomly browse through stores/online ones too for that matter, and instead maybe use that time more productively. Time spent randomly shopping means lesser time (and energy) for family, experiences, friendships, passions and hobbies, and appreciating all that we already own.

As a mom, I want to teach my daughter, ‘You matter, the kind of person you are, not what you look like’ and to teach her that, I first have to live like that. In the past year or so, Anya has really started noticing what she wears, and has already started looking for people’s approval. One day we had a handyman coming over and as soon he entered she looked at him holding her skirt and asking him, how do you like my skirt? And I was like WHAT? I realized that even though we all say we dress up for ourselves, and maybe to an extent we do, when our focus shifts on clothes and what we look like too much, we do love hearing people’s compliments. We love looking at ourselves from their point of view. And what do you do if you don’t’ get that? I want to teach my daughter instead that you are beautiful because of the kind of person you are inside, and that you don’t need every single thing you want in order to look and feel good. You can learn to be creative, love what you own and creatively express yourself through your clothes without always wanting to buy more. That style is from within, it is yours whether you are always wearing the trendiest of clothes or not, it is in the way you pull the outfit together even if it consists of items you have owned for years.

During the time that I did that series, I noticed what people wore a lot more, even cringed at moms that seemed to be in mom-jeans or yoga pants all the time. It’s hard to admit this but I began to judge people by what they wore and whether they had made an effort into their outfits or not. And that’s not what I want to be. I want my mind to be occupied by better things, by people’s personalities, their stories, not the clothes they put on day in and out. And I want to teach my daughter that too, that at the end of the day, her mind and her heart matters much much more than her clothes and what she looks like.

Let me just say it like this, I’m not saying I close my eyes to beautiful style and trends or shopping anymore; my pins on Pinterest will speak for themselves. I just want to be more thoughtful about random splurges and not let shopping for clothes take over more of my life (and mind) than it should. Instead I do want to have a list of items that I really need, and only go focused on those items. I absolutely love being able to creatively express oneself through your clothing choices and I looooove the power of makeup. I always feel better about myself when I have made a little effort before getting out of the house. But I don’t want clothes and shopping for them to take up more of my life and mind than they should.

This is kind of a ramble and all over the place, but I just wanted to get these thoughts out.

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

GUEST POST: Eid Memories by UrduMom

So excited to have the amazing Tamania behind the fabulous new blog, Urdu Mom, here to reminisce about Eids back home and how her Eid as a mom of two, looks like now. ENJOY!

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When I think about Eid in Pakistan the memory is a colorful collage of bangles, mehndi, sheer khorma, eidi and family get-togethers. The eve of Eid called Chaand Raat was the highlight of the festivities. Everyone would be waiting to hear what the “Roet-e-Hilal Committee” (moon-sighting committee) decides. The only source of news was the sole TV channel, PTV. It would be a true Eid if it was announced on the 29th Roza that the next day is Eid. There would be jubilations, hugs and mubariks all around. My parents would take us to the bazaar to buy bangles for Eid. The streets would be busy and festive.  Strings of bright electricity bulbs would hang over makeshift stalls that housed rows and rows of colorful bangles. We would return to the car carefully holding the bangles wrapped in old newspapers, their glitter already coming off on the paper and our hands. Although my Dadi (grandmother) would be asking us all to sleep on time, there would be lots to do that night before the big day: laying out the clothes with the matching shoes and accessories, catching any special TV programs or just giggling in the excitement of the day tomorrow.

My grandparents would give us all Eidi after the men came back from the Eid Namaz. You were expected to have showered and changed your clothes by then. I would say “Adaab” and lower my head infront of my dada and he would put his hand on my head, say “Jeete Raho” and then hand over the Eidi, which was cash in crisp new notes that he got from the bank the day before just for this purpose. Breakfast on eid day was Sheer Khorma. What a treat!

Another tradition in my family at Eid was to visit anyone’s house who wasn’t celebrating that year due to a recent death. As a child it was a great reminder of the ups-and-downs of life and why it’s important to think of others even in the time of your happiness. My nana passed away before any of his grandchildren were born. So we would also visit the graveyard to show him our Eid clothes. Another lesson from childhood of remembering those who have passed away in loving ways and keeping them a part of our life.

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Eid greetings changed from special Eid Cards bought from book stores, to E-cards and then simply text messages, and so did some of the ways Eid was celebrated all around us. However my parents always carried out the Eid traditions of our house. There were many dinners and get-togethers over the 3-day celebrations. By the third day of Eid we were all well-fed, super-tired-but-happy and ready to count our Eidi to see how much we scored this year.

I moved to Canada ten days after getting married, so my first Eid in Canada was in a new home, in a new country with a brand new husband. The first couple of Eids in Canada were spent calling immediate and extended family to wish them “Eid Mubarik” and when they would ask “what did you do for Eid”, replying: “Yahan to Eid bari pheeke hai”.

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It was after I had my daughter I realized the importance of celebrating Eid and making it a tradition. I was the mothership myself now and needed to give my little one a base.

She is four now and we do age-appropriate celebrations. My mother always sends us Eid dresses from Pakistan and the arrival of that package kick starts the celebrations in our house. Since my daughter doesn’t get any presents for Christmas but most of her friends do, we have invented a character called “Chachi Eid” who mysteriously brings presents for my daughter over Chaand Raat (We leave out a paratha for her instead of cookies and milk). I love the look on my daughter’s face on Eid morning as she tip toes into the living room to see if Chachi Eid indeed did come and then to see her gifts, the eid banner and the balloons. That moment is priceless.

Last year I went to my daughter’s preschool for a special Eid presentation. I read out a book to her class about Eid, and we taught all the children how to wish “Eid Mubarik”. As a craft, the children made Henna patterns on hands drawn on paper. I loved the look of pride on my daughter’s face as she saw her “angraizi” friends enjoying a celebration that belonged to her “urdu” world.

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For Eid we arrange small family dinners where all the children get eidi. Usually the night before someone hosts a “henna” party. Eid is a celebration of love, friends and community. My daughter is now old enough to understand that not everyone is as lucky and we are including activities for her to share her good fortune. My hope as a mother is that when my children think back about Eid, it gives them the same warm glow as it gives my heart and it encourages them to keep the tradition alive.

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TAMANIA IS A MOM, WIFE, HOMEMAKER, PART-TIME MARKETING CONSULTANT AND ADVENT COFFEE DRINKER. SHE LOVES TO WRITE ABOUT THE URDU ADVENTURES OF HER PAKISTANI-CANADIAN FAMILY AS URDUMOM. HER WISH AND GOAL AS A MOTHER IS TO PASS ON THE LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE PAKISTANI CULTURE TO HER CHILDREN GROWING UP IN CANADA, THROUGH THEIR MOTHER TONGUE URDU.

FOLLOW HER: Urdumom.com, facebook.com/urdumom, twitter.com/urdumom


Thanks so much for sharing those beautiful memories Tamania. Wishing you and your family a lovely Eid 🙂

What are some of your favorite memories about Eid? Would love to know.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.