Monday, May 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Dad

You came into this world,
so many years ago, 
bringing with you
your ever special glow.

So full of love
and with a big heart.
We're thinking of you today
even though we are apart.

I know you're watching us, 
even though you're not around.
Today we will celebrate,
and try our best not to frown.

You are always in our thoughts,
you are always in our prayers,
Happy birthday to my dearest dad,
my angel upstairs.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Birthday Tradition

I know you've all been wondering whatever happened to the birthday tradition of matching shirts! lol No I have not forgotten. In fact, Ethan choose the shirts this summer, that he actually forgot what they were.

But how could we celebrate Scott's birthday without the whole matching t-shirt tradition? Well of course we couldn't.

This year's theme is inspired by our plans to head to Disney this summer, and Ethan's newfound respect for the "evils".

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Accepting Compliments

I have this wonderful friend named Hilary. She has no idea I'm writing this about her. Bur recently she taught me an important and valuable lesson.

So Hilary is funny, talented and ever-so helpful. She's Ethan's voice teacher, and while I've seen Ethan sing in shows before, I was blown away with his performance in Aladdin. And yes, I think the directors/teachers deserve credit, but so does Hilary. When you first meet her, she's there. You can't help but notice her. But she's also extremely humble.

A few months back, I saw her, and she had this awesome glittery makeup. It was so cool. She sparkled. And I let her know. She started telling me about it, but stopped. "I'm trying to accept compliments" she said. So, she said thank you, and then told me about her makeup.

I really didn't think much about it.

A couple weeks ago, she had the coolest red lipstick. It really made her pop. I rarely see her in lipstick, so a red really stood out. I told her so. She started to speak, but stopped herself. She shook her head, and said thank you. She said how it's still something she's working on, accepting compliments.

This week, I saw her at school. Her hair was shiny and gorgeous. I recently cut my hair, so think I was a little envious of her long locks. She started telling my friend and I what she's been doing. She suddenly looked at me. "Nope, thank you. Need to take the compliment!" and then she shared her secret.

Now, I'm not trying to embarrass her. But to share the lesson she taught me.

The same day I saw her at school, and admired her long hair, another friend saw me, and complimented me on my haircut. I started telling her about the style I was thinking, and what I did, and what I might do next time. When she left, it hit me. I never said thank you. I didn't accept the compliment, but instead gave the credit away.

Today my trainer sent me a message telling me how proud of me she was for my weight loss and how good I look. I texted back, "Am almost at my goal". But before I hit send, I realized I didn't accept the compliment. I didn't say thank you. So I made a point of saying thank you.

Why is it that Hilary and I have difficulty accepting compliments? I know I'm not the only one to give her one. And I know I've received them before. Is it us? Or women in general? Do we not know how to take a compliment? Do we feel the need to explain ourselves?

Thank you Hilary for teaching me a great lesson. I will make sure I accept compliments from now on. I never realized how hard that was before.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

So I need to say a huge thank you to my dear friend, Hamidah, for telling me to read this book. She didn't just recommend it, she harassed me for a good 2 weeks. Each time I saw her, she'd ask if I'd gotten the book yet. Even though many people have recommended this book, as my other mate Louise said, "there aren't any vampires, are you sure you read it?", it's not one I would've read on my own. And to quote another friend, Juliet this time, "We are too far removed from war to really know the horrors it brings. It's so important that we read these books both as a remembrance and as a warning." So thank you dear friends. I loved this book. Despite it having broken my heart and had me in ugly sobs.

In The Nightingale, we meet sisters Vivianne and Isabelle. They are as different as sisters can be. Vivianne married her love and lives in the French countryside with her husband and daughter. Isabelle has been kicked out of, gosh I cannot recall how many, boarding schools. She's a true rebel.

During World War II, their father sends Isabelle off to live with her sister. Unlike Vivianne, Isabelle cannot sit quietly and watch her country being destroyed. She feels she must do something, and soon she becomes The Nightingale. She helps fallen soldiers make their way from France to Spain.

While Isabelle felt her sister "gave in" and accepted the war, women like Vivianne were left behind by their husbands, who went to fight. Vivianne, like many other women at this time, was forced to house two Nazi soldiers and was manipulated into betraying her friends. She then went on to save many children.

The Nightingale is a moving story of two completely different sisters who did what many women had to do. They survived and fought back in their own way.

"If I have learnt anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."

- Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Crank - Ellen Hopkins

Life was good
I met
the monster. 
was great
At least
for a little while.

It seems I have a thing for books written in poetry. Although this one is not meant for your middle schooler. 

Written in prose, Crank tells the story of Ellen Hopkins' daughter. At age 16, Kristina starts her downward spiral into the life of drugs. She discovers the "monster" and develops an alter ego named Bree, who is sexy, confident, everything Kristina is not. 

This is one of those books that has mixed reviews on Goodreads. It's also one of those books that I was unsure what rating to give it. Finally, I decided, if a book can have this kind of effect on me, it's a darn good book.

I read Crank in a day and a half. It's poetic nature makes it easy to read. It also makes you feel. You feel sick. You feel frustrated. You feel scared. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Booked - Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander
has done it again.
He brings a heartfelt story
written in prose.

Twelve-year old Nick
is a book-hating,
soccer loving boy.
He has an immense
Thanks to his dad's requirement
that he read the dictionary,
from A-Z. 

While soccer may be his life,
Nick does attend
Etiquette classes. 
Here the focus is on
good manners,
proper etiquette
and dancing. 
And it allows Nick to get closer
to his crush.

But things are not always rosey.
He has a difficult teacher.
He has an annoying classmate.
And his bike gets stolen
by bullies!
And then...
Mom moves to Kentucky
to take a job as a horse trainer.
And Nick has feelings
of abandonment
he must face.

Soon Nick discovers
that language can help him
charm a teacher,
impress a girl,
deal with menacing bullies
and help him express his emotions
when his parents' marriage
falls apart. 

"The poems 
were cool.

The best ones were
like bombs,
and when all the right words

came together
it was like an explosion."

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I'm so sorry I did not post last month. It was not because I don't think of you, cos I do. Often. But I had a hard time writing it, and it never seemed right, and I wasn't happy with how it looked or sounded. And well, as we all know, when I'm stuck, I give up. But, mum always use to say, "The way you start your year, influences how the year will go." So I'm stating off the year right, with my letter to you.

Better late than never, I suppose.

I don't want you to think I don't miss you. Because I do. Everyday. And while I'm not quite as angry as I was last year, I'm a lot sadder. Mainly I'm sad because you have two amazing grandchildren growing up into amazing human beings, and you're missing it.

Ethan is in the fifth grade. Which means in May he will graduate from primary school. Next year he starts middle school, so he will be on the secondary campus. Can you believe it? I can't.

Ethan still loves drama. This past year, he has been in three shows. He was in Kids Rock at the Little Theatre, he played Captain Hook at theatre camp and he was in the Christmas show at the Little Theatre. He's also currently in rehearsals for the school musical. He plays the lead character in Aladdin. He's really into the whole drama/acting/theatre thing. He's continuing with guitar lessons, has joined the school band and choir and wants to start voice lessons this year.

But asides from the acting thing, he's doing well in school too. His teacher says he's got a lot of empathy in him. This year, he helped another student with her reading and fluency and wrote a script for his class assembly. He's also doing well in Maths. Scott says he gets that from him, but I think he gets that from you. Ethan's also taken a leadership role at school. During the first semester, he lead an after school activity, Rock Climbing Club. He was really good. You'd be proud. Ethan's been gobbling books this past year, like they're going out of style. This Christmas, 80% of his gifts were books.

Speaking of Christmas, we went to London this year. We got to spend some time with Shireen. She ended up spoiling Ethan. It's quite possible she bought him more gifts than we did. 

Not sure if you know, but Minaz works for Parks Ontario, or Toronto, or something along those lines. Yup, she's not going to be impressed I've messed that up. But my point is, this summer, while in Toronto, she, Karim and Kahzmir took Ethan to some wonderful events in different parks. One of the things Kahzmir and Ethan did was join an outdoor workshop on game designs. Ethan loved it, that we made sure to go back into the city the following weekend so he could continue. The children invented new games, refined them, came up with rules and tried them out. If you have wifi, please check them out here.  ('s these things that break my heart that you're missing.)

Speaking of the Kanji's. Karim had a podcast. I'll admit I haven't listened to them all (he's not going to be impressed that I just admitted to that), but the ones I've heard are fantastic. I can honestly say I've learnt a lot from them. You always believed we should keep up with the ages. Karim embodies that. And he uses it for good. (I'm making him sound like a super hero.) If you can, please take a listen to it here

Faiza is another one who I see a little of you in. She organized a cousins' get-together over Christmas. For Qayam's first birthday, she asked friends and family to write him a letter, and the plan is to give it to him on his 18th birthday. The idea reminded me of the letter you wrote me on my 1st birthday that I got on my 21st. I know if you were here, you'd write Qayam a five page letter, filled with history and advice and love. I can only hope I've represented you well in my letter to him. Faiza also has this incredible ability to see the good in everyone and everything. I definitely need to spend more time with her when am home. She makes me want to be a better person, and not such a negative ninny. She is most certainly a reminder of what you held near and dear, and of your greatest qualities. She's an amazing mother. You would love Qayam. And guess what, she's expecting another bundle of joy this summer.

Speaking of babies, I'm incredibly upset that you're missing out on an amazing opportunity. Rehanna is about to become a mum. Yes, your great niece is having a baby. That means you could've been a great great uncle! We don't know the sex of the baby yet (well at least she hasn't shared with me), but if you have any pull, we could use some more girls in this family. There are an awful lot of boys! 

Keeping with the Manek family, Haseena is in Wales this year, finishing her Masters. This summer, the Manek family took Ethan to the aquarium for his birthday. Ethan bought a stuffed animal which later that evening went missing. Haseena went back to the aquarium to buy him a new one.  She is incredible. But you already knew that. Nabeel is beyond amazing. Ethan had a rough time at the beginning of the school year. And he really wouldn't open up to Scott or I. But he and Nabeel email each other constantly. He's the big brother Ethan doesn't have. And I know as long as Nabeel is an email, or text message away, Ethan will never be alone. He's found himself someone trustworthy to rely on, to give him advice and help him through the tough times. And I cannot be more grateful for that. He may be the quietest one in the family, but he is a true gem. Shelina and Akhter continue to be the rocks we need. When Ethan and I are in the city, they check on us, and their door is always open. It reminds me of growing up, where that house was always open and the fridge could always be raided. It's nice to know Ethan can walk in there, hang out, eat and relax. And when mum's in town, Shelina always checks in on her too.

Shelina could use you to watch over. The last few months have been rough. I know Papa is there with you. His passing was hard on her (and mum). She then lost her grandmother. She's always been there for me, and I feel like I need to be there for her, but am so far away. 

Rasool continues to amaze me. He is so you. I know I've said that before, but it's true. I always thought I took after you and he after mum. But I am most definitely mum, while he is you. He is calm, rational, prioritizes family and does not hold a grudge. I really could learn a lot from him!!! Hayley is the cutest. She's funny and has developed a unique personality. I cannot wait to see what trouble she causes Rasool! She has him wrapped around her finger, and it makes me giggle when he tells me how he's given her a time out. Like you did when I was young, he sits with her at breakfast. Like mum, he encourages her to help him cook, and she is not a picky eater. Think Ethan needs to spend more time with her. Not only are you missing out on seeing your granddaughter grow up, but you are also missing seeing your son grow. I know you constantly worried about him. But there was no need. He is a mature, incredible young man. He knows that family is the measure of a man's wealth. 

I still do not understand why you had to leave us. There's so much you're missing out on, and I cannot believe you would willingly want to leave us. But I know you were there for Papa, and that brings me some comfort. Maybe I'm finally growing up?

Love you lots. Miss you loads,