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)

A friendship story + a birthday wish.

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Happy Birthday to my best friend of almost two decades and one of the most positive inspirations around me. Any day that involves our ‘5 minute'(or not) phone call is almost certain to go much better than the ones when we don’t get to talk. From being our awkward teenager selves (mostly me, since she has been pretty much the same since day one) when the only things occupying our minds were how to get my mom to give permission for our next get together (+ possibly our Matric and FSc board exams too) and through decisions like ‘which university to apply to’ & ‘where to work’ & ‘who to marry’. Through adjusting to married life & new countries. Through the various seasons of motherhood and trying to figure out how to do it all and being content with what we have. Our friendship truly has been a summation of all those hours and hours of conversations through these 19 years on anything and everything that has been in our thoughts or hearts. What began in E-9 Islamabad in 1998 when she chose to sit next to ‘the new girl’ in class (me) and ultimately change her classroom for her (me again) and the phone calls that started soon after. The long non-stop conversations about who-knows-what back then but which continued undeterred by our PAF phone line which would auto- disconnect and drop our call every 8 minutes or so (we would keep our finger on redial and continue for hours:p).

Through the next decade and getting married and moving countries, Riyadh/Bahrain for her and Seattle for me, luck stayed with us because we always had a way to be just a phone call away thanks to the Vonage number she had and later on thanks to our smartphones. Through the very many different phases of our lives and through happy and sad moments, we’ve been in touch and been there, without actually ‘being there’! I love that she is the kind of person who will always push me to be a better person. She won’t just listen and let me vent, but give me just the angle I need to come back to my center and think things from another perspective. Seriously if everyone had a friend like her, we would all be so much sane-er. (Not trying to say I am always sane but it can help you know) Lol. It’s amazing to me how we have never run out of things to talk about in all of these years.. and our conversations, some serious + deep and others not very much like our eternal obsession with finding the perfect solution to organize ourselves and our lives ;).

The weird thing is that in all of these 19 years, we were only in the same school for a little over a year, in the same city for probably another 1-2 years. And between my wedding in Sep 2006 and June 2016 we couldn’t meet even once. Our trips to Pakistan somehow never coincided and the only in-person memories we had of each other were from before we were married! We’ve sifted through old photos on birthdays trying to find a good one to share with our birthday messages and even took the Skype photo at the top of this post just so we could be in the same frame! And then this summer, it finally happened! We met, and each others’ not-so-little ones for the first time! We got updated photos and made in-person memories and it was even better than we could’ve imagined it to be! Between Iftari at my mama’s place and Sehri at her parents’ place, we squeezed in time with each others’ families + bonded with each others’ babies. And even managed some deep heart-to-hearts before we fell asleep as the sky turned into morning outside. So much has changed in all these years and sitting at my Mama’s house with Papa not there it was a reminder of that but yet so much is still the same, and being at her parents’ house with reminders of all those memories we have made there, it felt like that. And that’s all we got, a little short of one whole day together but it felt like we made the most of it. So thankful for that!

I know this has turned into quite a love letter, but sorry what could I do! It was somehow harder than I realized to summarize a whole friendship into words! Here’s wishing her the happiest of birthdays and for all of us to be blessed with friendships like these.

And because I love her and you guys alot, here is a blast from our past 😉

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Have a fabulous week and Happy Valentines Day!

 

Time to take a break.

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Sweet readers, I’m just stopping by here today to let you all know that I am in an odd place right now where I’m finding it super-overwhelming to keep up with my blog. I have lots of half-written posts and ideas in my head that I’m not able to follow through and that leaves me feeling frustrated and uninspired. I also feel I should focus more on my business at this stage. For those of you that don’t know, I have run my photography business as a hobby and just last summer my husband and I decided the time was right to finally register it and take it more seriously. It has been amazing and I’m so excited about that but as a result the blog has to take a step back. I might be posting on and off as all those words in my head force themselves out but I’m taking the pressure off of myself to have to post every week.

You can follow me on Instagram and the Facebook page, where I will continue to post on and off and share whatever is currently going on.

Would really appreciate it if you checked out my work too and if you like it, I would love a recommendation/referral for anyone in the Seattle area looking to get some photos done. I do Portrait sessions as well as cover Events. I also do the occasional Bridal photos + Weddings. 

My Work: Website // Instagram // Facebook

This stage might last just a month or it might go on for the next six months, whatever it might be, thanks so much for understanding!

Lots of love.

Happy Birthday MLK

Martin Luther King Quote:

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr. 48 years after his death, his message resonates world over and is as important if not even more in today’s times. May we all learn to embrace his message of courage, hope, acceptance and apply it to our individual and collective lives. Our societies definitely need more people like him!

Sharing some inspirations from around the web.

20 of his most remembered words here.  // His life story  // Essay on the importance of his message in our lives  // Why Race matters even today and what we can teach our kids  // Bringing Martin Luther King alive for young kids.  // Teaching kids about differences in people   // Love this book about him for younger kids.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love.

IN PHOTOS: DECEMBER

What our month looked like in photos and a little bit of words 🙂

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Trying to make the most of the first December we got to spend at home since Anya was born. Short short days, lots of rain and the holidays!

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Took a little hot-chocolate surprise for Anya one day when I picked her up at school and we stopped by at a tree farm where she drank it as I took photos (More here) // Because we don’t really celebrate Christmas, and her fascination with all things Christmas related, I bought her a teeny little tree of her own to decorate and she was happy!

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Enjoying holiday festivities around town

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Celebrating a friend’s birthday at our monthly potlucks with our group of friends. Always up for an excuse to get those birthday hats out 😉

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Weekend Brunches // And teatimes on the day B works from home

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Evenings with this one before B gets home // She loves jumping on my bed when I have to change the sheets and I love the fun photo challenge it makes for:)

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Most days while I make dinner she brings her piano and dances to the pre-made tunes on that, its very funny lol // Also love when we bring our stack of books from the library and she reads while I cook // She loves playing this particular game with all of her Elsa & Annas that her daddy has invented for her. It is really entertaining // She specially waits for her daddy to get home so she can play her crazy games with him.

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I finally finished this yarn wall hanging for Anya’s room // Usually what her room looks like at the end of the day, quite a mine field in the dark like you can imagine

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As December came to an end, we got some chillyyyy frosty mornings. Seattle gets so so cold when its nice and clear this time of the year.

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Took my girl to the zoo one day during her vacations and was so proud to know she has way more knowledge about animals than I do:)

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Wish I could hold on to all these little reminders of her love for the day when her teenage version will tell me she hates me. Sigh.

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Lots of time with this one once her winter holidays started as: Being my mama doing her shoot one day // Music time with her daddy // Playing teacher to all of her stuffies one day //Feeding our neighbor kitty while they were out of town // Little miss A planning a mama-daughter artwork time for us one morning

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Some daddy-lovin’ at Mod Pizza // After dinner time one day when I found them like this

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And a super fun impromptu new year get together as we had friends in town. Anya loved meeting up again with her friend she made last year.

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If you’d like to follow along on Instagram, I’m here 🙂

Hope your year is off to a fabulous start!

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love

For previous month-in-photos posts, go here.

#144stories

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#144Stories

Today, let’s look into their eyes as we look at their beautiful photos and as we read their stories another time. Today let’s imagine what they went through before their young lives were so brutally cut short. Today let’s think of their parents’, the state of their hearts. Think of each minute, each hour, each day and then 365 very very long days that have passed without the lights of their lives, with that trauma heavy on their hearts. Today let us think of all the ones who lived to tell their tales, the things they have seen that no words can even describe. Today, for another time, feel for them, weep for them, pray for them but also more than ever, think! What can we do? Because today is a reminder that we are truly failing our children! #neverforget #144stories #APSpeshawer

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We were in Bahawalpur at my mother-in-law’s place last year, and vividly remember the eerie stillness in the air, in the days that followed. Shops remained closed, banners hung high all over the cities, eyes wept endlessly, hearts prayed, people stood in candlelit vigils to show their solidarity with the affected families. In a country that loves its conspiracy theories, it felt like for once everyone was united. It felt like this time they had hit where it hurt the most. On this day, they pierced through the hearts of a whole nation and left such a hole that even time can’t fill. Hope with all of my heart that these children’s lives were not in vain and that never again do we have to see such a dark day in Pakistan’s life.

Urainge us aasman mein;

(We’ll fly in such a sky)

Rahainge aisay jahaan mein;

(live in such a world)

Jahaan dard ka koi maara na ho;

(where no one quivers in pain)

Akaila na ho be-sahaara na ho;

( no one is lonely or left alone)

koi maa say bichara dulaara no ho;

(no mother would live without her child)

siva ishq kay koi chaara na ho;

(nothing to choose from than love)

Listening to this right now and remembering all these beautiful children and their teachers today.


FYI

Read about this tragedy, about the heroes of this horrific day, all the young lives lost in this heartbreaking dedication by DAWN. Also read this for the heartbreaking journey behind collecting these stories

A little history about the Army Public Schools here. Specially personal for me because my mom studied in these and recently was in the management too. The Pakistan Air Force schools that I studied at were also similar.

Also can’t help being reminded of the 3 year anniversary of the Newtown Shootings in Sandy Hook. This is a senseless world and we really have failed our children all over the world!

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.