Monday, May 21, 2012

consider yourself warned...

It's May 21st.

Which means....

the sun is getting warmer...
the days are getting longer...
we can play outside in the sprinklers in our bathing suits...
the smell of the grill fills the air at dinnertime...
Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner...


it's exactly ONE month until my birthday!!!!

The birthday in which I will be turning thirty-fun. :-)

(No, that's not a typo)

As I so eloquently explained last year, I'm a little "obsessed" with my birthday.  I mean, this whole blog was centered around my 30th birthday in the first place.  So consider this fair warning that the birthday countdown is OFFICIALLY ON!  I love me some birthday!  And June 21st is my day of all days! CANNOT WAIT!

You've been warned.  Just sayin'.
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

365 project - weeks thirty-two, thirty-three, and thirty four

13. Take a picture every day for one year.

Happy Birthday, Sandi!  Lucky girl's birthday is right in the middle of Baltimore Restaurant Week. This chocolate sin cake topped off a delicious dinner at Ruth's Chris. 

Two goofy girls, just goofing around at home, playing on the iPad. 

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in cute little shapes. Cause that's much more fun than cooking today.

Flying high!  Big girl on the uneven parallel bars at gymnastics. 

Whooooo loves hot chocolate?  I do, especially in my favorite giant owl mug. 

Happy Birthday, Mommom!  Seventy-five and as sweet as can be. 

Today's variation of the spelling of my name, brought to you by Starbucks. :-) 

Cupcakes!  From the shop voted Howard County's best cupcake...they definitely live up to their laurels! 

Fabulous Miss V! Viv-cat shows off her marshmallow paws, always crossed because she's SUCH a lady. 

Baby Bunny!  Little Miss Lillian is getting bigger and cuter every day. Love this little feisty girl! 

Congrats to the New York Giants.  This year's SuperBowl winner. Bah Hambug, I'm still bitter about the Raven's loss...I'm fairly certain we could've represented the AFC much better. SIGH. 

Melted crayons on canvas.  Just a fun little art project we did tonight. 

Play-doh and hard wood floors..A match made in heaven! 

Love is all you need.  I'm wondering how true this is. 

Making Valentine's crayons with her little Valentine. 

Two little princesses are excited for the beginning of the show! 

Say CHEESE!  Self portrait with the two sweetest girls in the Big Apple. 

World Trade Center Memorial.  A beautiful serene tribute in the footprint of the South Tower. 

Valentines are ready!  Sadira chose each one specifically for each classmate and signed her name on each one herself. 

My funny Valentine on her way to school. This was first thing in the morning, and my little non-morning person was clearly not fully awake yet. 

Lovely flowers from Sadira's Daddy. It's nice to be spoiled on Valentine's Day.

For my complete project, visit: NassyMirjaf's 365 Project.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

prudent advice

26. Create my own book of "Prudent Advice" for Sadira

Last year I stumbled across the blog "Prudent Advice."  Being someone who loves lists I thought the idea was practical and sweet at the same time.  I soon learned that the author, Jaime Morrison Curtis, had recently published a book of Prudent Advice.   I had to purchase it, and read it within a couple evenings.  The book became my go-to book for new moms, or friends with daughters because I just loved it so much.  

I love that the advice given is not just the obvious like, "Use Your Manners,"  or "Cherish Your Siblings."  It's a bit more little bits of wisdom that this woman had acquired so far over her life that she wanted to share with her daughter.  I loved it.  

Some of my favorites:

"212: Remember that most fairy tales were written by men.
Some of the greatest writers of children's fables were male: the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, even Walt Disney.  You are not a tiny princess awaiting rescue by a valiant man, a symbol of frailty and naïveté, or the punch line in a morality tale.  The women in those stories were crafted by a different sex at a different time for a different audience; these days you slay the dragon yourself."


"318: Choose the window seat.
There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a rolling expanse of milk-white clouds as viewed from the window seat of an airplane.  It is miraculous: You are flying." 


"327: A woman is "pregnant" not "preggers."


"395: You don't have as much times as you think.
It all goes by so quickly, daughter.  You can't fathom it.  If you could, you would collapse from the weight of it - the unbearable comprehension of the brevity of your time on earth.  You will sadly discover that lives end in inconceivable ways and at puzzling times.  At certain moments, you will grasp the delicateness of your life.  Let them weigh on you; let them change you."

Source: Curtis, J. M. (2010) Prudent Advice: lessons
 for my baby daughter (a life list for every woman)

See what I mean?  Little pieces of genius wrapped up in beautiful words.

I knew I wanted to make my own list of Prudent Advice for Sadira, which is how Item #26 ended up on my list.  I'm not prepared to publish 500 things, like this author, but I'm working on it.  For now I'll start with a number that seems to be a recurrent theme around here: 30.

30 Pieces of Prudent Advice...for Sadira, with love.

1. Seriously consider combining black and navy together when choosing outfits.
I was taught that navy is the only color that does not "go" with black.  Apparently that rule has changed, but it still doesn't look or feel intuitive to me.  Proceed with caution when mixing these two colors.


2. You will  hear a lot in our family about being a strong, independent woman, and I am confident that you will grow up to be one as well; however, never bring more into a relationship than a man does.  Your partner should be your equal, not your dependent.  The women's movement didn't happen to force women to do everything and be everything.  It happened so women could be equal partners.  Something very strange happens when a strong, independent woman enters into a relationship with a less than equivalent man.  Mostly, I've observed that it diminishes his masculinity, and gives him an excuse to not try as hard.  I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I know that you will one day go on to do great things, and I do not want you to have to support a partner who cannot at minimum meet you half way.


3.  Let the record show that I do not see anything wrong with tattoos.  Despite the fact that I do not have any myself, I have seen many a tattoo that I thought to be beautiful and meaningful.  I just ask that in the future when you consider a tattoo you apply the One Year Test. The One Year Test means you must remain committed to a particular design for one year before tattooing it permanently on your body.  This decreases the likelihood of you having regrets later down the line.  I created you, and your little body is pristine.  I would hate for it to be tainted by something you regretted later in life.  However, if you choose something special and meaningful to you (enough to pass the One Year Test), I promise to go with you, and hold your hand while you get ink'd.


4.  Drink lots of water.
It keeps you hydrated, less hungry, clears your skin, regulates your metabolism and body temperature, detoxifies, and helps just about all of your vital organs work better and more efficiently.  Drink it.


5.  When learning to walk in heels, remember everything you learned in ballet class.  Stay balanced on the balls of your feel like you are walking en relevé.  Imagine a string is pulling you up from the center of the top of your head, making your spine as straight as possible.  Walk lightly, but confidently.  Nothing is more unattractive or painful looking that a woman slumped over clumping along in a pair of shoes.


6.  Don't put anything on the internet that you wouldn't want your father or I to see. 
Everything you put out there leaves a digital footprint with your name on it.


7.  Stay abreast of current events.
Not only is it good in conversation, but it reminds you to think of the world beyond yourself.


8.  The secret to chocolate chip cookies is simple.
If you want a thin, crispier cookie, slightly reduce the amount of sugar you use and increase the amount of butter.  If you want a chewy, gooey cookie (my favorite!) decrease the amount of butter and add some extra sugar.  Extra brown sugar is particularly delicious.


9.  Speak up.
When in a discussion, debate, or even light conversation.  Chances are there is someone who feels the same way you do, but they're afraid to say it out loud for fear of dissonance.  Remaining silent implies that you are in agreement, even if you are not.


10.  When possible, take a nap.
You won't realize til later in life just how precious the luxury of an afternoon nap is.  Indulge and indulge as often as possible.  I promise you won't miss anything while you're asleep.  And I've never heard one person say, "Man, I really regret that nap I took..."


11. Don't start a sentence with "no offense, but..."
The person you are speaking to will automatically take a stance on the offensive, and then feel as if they cannot rightfully disagree with you.  It's such a cop-out phrase.  Challenge yourself to be able to use the English language adequately enough that you can express you opposing point without having to state this over-used disclaimer first.


12.  Dance it out.
Dance often and without reserve.  You do this now, and I love it.  We do this together at home to unwind after a long day.  Don't become inhibited about how fun letting loose and dancing really is.  Dance when you're happy, dance when you're stressed, dance when your child is throwing a temper tantrum and you have no idea how to stop it.  No one can continue to be pissed off when you're dancing around like a lunatic.  Enjoy it.


13.  Just because "it's the way we've always doing it," doesn't mean it's the right way.
Challenge the standards if you think they could be better.  If people always accepted "the way things are" then slavery would still be legal, women wouldn't have the right to vote, and segregation would still be practiced.


14.  Always check for toilet paper before you close the door in a public restroom.
You'll probably forget I told you this, though, and learn the hard way.  It happens to all of us.


15.  Don't be a cheater.
Not on board games, not on exams, and not on your boyfriend.


16.  Don't use sarcasm as a vehicle to hurt feelings.
Just because it's funny, doesn't mean it's not hurtful.  People will remember when you hurt them.  You never want to compromise someone's feelings just to make a sarcastic joke.  Especially not someone who is a friend.


17.  Vaccinate your children.
This became a hot topic when I was pregnant with you.  However, it is a luxury of a first world country to be able to deny vaccines which have saved lives all over the world.  Just don't do it.  Relying on herd immunity is not only selfish, it's dangerous.


18.  Music makes everything better.
Even a boring drive in the car can be made infinitely better by rolling down the windows and cranking the music up.  Learn how to appreciate all different genres of music, because they all offer something different.  Except country. ;-)  (Kidding)


19.  It's okay to change your mind.
Whether it's about what restaurant you want to go to, what school you want to attend, or if you want to marry someone or not.  It's never too late to change your mind.


20.  When in doubt or distress, come home.
There is something good for the soul about coming back to you home and letting your Mommy take care of you.  Even if you're 35 years old.  No matter where you go in life, how old you get, or how big of a family you create for yourself, my home will always be your home too.  And I'll always be willing to take you in and take care of you with open arms.


21.  It's not always necessary to "Reply to All" when responding to a mass email.
Tread lightly when clicking that button and make sure you always know your audience.


22. Learn the rules of any sport you enjoy playing or watching.
It's in your blood to be a football fan.  I just don't want you to grow up to be that girl who screams and yells and trash talks at games, and then whispers to her boyfriend, "what just happened?"  Learn the rules of the game.  It makes being a spectator so much more exciting when you know what's going on.


23.  While we're on the topic of sports, stick by your team even through the tough times.
This can be tough (trust me, I'm an Orioles' fan), but no one likes a fair-weather fan.  And loyalty has become such a rare commodity in today's society.  Declare your allegiances and stick by them.


24.  There IS an easy way to clean the inside of a microwave.
In a small glass bowl mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1 cup of water.  Place it in the center of the microwave and heat for 5 minutes, or until the water comes to rolling boil.  Then remove the bown, and wipe off the inside of the microwave using a damp paper towel.


25.  The healthier the foods are that you eat, the less you have to be concerned with counting calories or portion control.  This is because your body will be nourished and not asking 30 minutes later for you to fill it up with junk.  You truly are what you eat.


26.  And while we're on the topic of nutrition, fad diets are just that...fads.
There is only one true way to "lose weight," and that is to eat less and move more.  It's really simple math that no pill, or powder, or book, or potion with beat; however if you try to stick to #25 as much as possible, you most likely won't ever have to worry about this.


27.  When someone pays you a compliment, smile and say "thank you."
Do not disagree, or stammer, or argue, it's impolite.  If someone is expressing a positive feeling towards you, you should be accepting and open to receive.


28. Wear a bright color on a rainy day.
It will cheer you up, and you in turn will cheer up those around you.


29.  Understand that your parents are people and make mistakes.
I'm sure once you're an adult you'll be able to identify the multiple mistakes that Daddy and I made in parenting you as you grew up.  And these mistakes are most certainly going to be blamed for whatever difficult life situation you are going through.  But just remember is a sign of maturity to be able to recognize that your parents are just people too, and are capable of making mistakes along the way.  Just know that anything we did in our lives concerning you was done out of love and with your best interests at heart.  So please, when we're old and grey, go easy on us.


Which bring me to my list piece advice...

30. Be kind.
Come from a place of kindness whenever possible.  Kind to yourself, kind to nature, kind to animals, kind to your friends, kind to strangers.  It's amazing what just a small act of kindness can achieve and how much it can change the course of a person's day or life.  Be kind, and be kind often.  Others will take note and follow your lead.


 Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

365 project - weeks twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-one

13 - Take a picture every day for one year.

I love this face.  My most favorite person on the planet. 

Orchids.  My friend Erika has managed to keep these beautiful orchids alive for almost two years now. Meanwhile I can't keep a succulent alive for two weeks. 

DC Pies birthday playdate. So what we're two months late? It's the thought that counts, right? 

First day back to gymnastics!  Very exciting to be in the big girl class with a full sized balance beam and uneven bars, woo hoo! 

Wooden flowers adorn my gorgeous new wreath. I don't care if it's "seasonal." This baby has been given year round real estate on the wall in my living room. 

Homemade spaghetti sauce is so delicious! And even yummier when someone else is making it for you. 

World Trade Center, Baltimore.  All decked out in Ravens purple! 

Purple City Hall.  Love this time of year when the Ravens are making a playoff run and the city turns PURPLE! 

We're a little excited for the game...maybe that's putting it mildly? 

Sports Legends Museum.  Always wanted to go, and so glad I did. 

By the power of the fu the Ravens pulled off an ugly win. Thank chu very much guys! 

My new piece of sports memorabilia...a brick from Memorial Stadium. The stadium I grew up going to as a little girl. I remember watching the fireworks from my rooftop after an Orioles win, and I remember being in college when the stadium was torn down...dismantled piece by piece. 

Choices, choices, choices.  Ever have one of those days when you just can't decide what to wear? 

Washington Monument purple!  Baltimore's painted purple from Mount Vernon to the Inner Harbor! 

Bangin' broccoli.  Prepping my florets for the most delicious broccoli recipe EVER. 

The Ravens tree glowing purple and gold all evening! 

The first snow of the season, and the world outside is frozen, BRRR!! 

Happy Birthday, Sean!  Today we celebrate your birthday, and try to forget the Ravens' heartbreaking loss. 

Reality has set in.  And all of Baltimore (and in this case Columbia) has a case of the gloomy Mondays following the Ravens sad sad loss to New England. 

Future valentines.  I'm just as excited as Sadie is to continue this annual tradition, and melt all of her broken crayons into heart shaped Valentine treats for her friends. 

The newest member of the Mirjafary family: Sadira's new beta fish, whom she named "Purple Raven."

For my complete project, visit: NassyMirjaf's 365 Project.

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pretty in pink

18. Re-do Sadie's bedroom - DONE!

Since yesterday was officially Sadira's half birthday, that means this post has been sitting in draft form in my blogger post list for SIX MONTHS!  Time to step up and finish this baby off.

When I was pregnant with Sadira I vowed that I would not have one of these ultra-pink princess girly girls.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) but I didn't want my girl to fall into the gender stereotype trap of thinking that anything pink is for girls, and anything blue is for boys.  We are equal opportunity toy lovers in our family, and girls can play with trains and cars too, if that's what they want!

So when I was pregnant with Sadie and found out that she was a girl, I took great pains in creating a bedroom for her that was feminine, yet strong.  Not too over the top girly, but not denying of what she was--a little girl!  I chose a color that I loved and something that I thought could grow with her...a lovely shade of lilac on the top, and a bold royal purple on the bottom.  (No, this color choice, was NOT an homage to my beloved Baltimore Ravens...I just really do like purple!)

I loved that room!  In the new days of having a newborn it was calming to sit in there with a sleepy or nursing baby, rocking in the glider.  It was probably my favorite room in the house for a very very long time.  A peaceful little retreat for me and my girl.

But over the past two years, Sadira has made it perfectly clear that despite my best efforts, her favorite color is pink.  Pink pink and more pink.  And she wanted a pink room.  Very badly.  And she started asking for one.  Very often. 


I put this item on the list to give me a swift kick in the butt.  I had promised her a year or so ago that we would re-do her room, and if she really wanted, it could be pink.   It wasn't my first choice, but it's HER room.  And while I certainly don't plan or re-doing her room every couple years, I wouldn't mind giving the room I loved so much a fresh new look.  Plus, it did seem a little baby-ish after awhile.

About a year before her fourth birthday, there was an adorable pattern that Target put out through their Circo brand called, "Love and Nature."  I noticed that quite a bit of my friends were decorating their daughters' rooms in this whimsical pattern, and even though I don't like to hop onto the hottest trends all the time, I have to admit, this one was super cute. 

I pointed it out to Sadie once while we were in Target, and she loved it.

But I didn't get it then.

I waited til it went on sale. :-)

Which happened to be over last summer, a few months before her birthday.

When I was able to get the entire set at 50% off, including the decals.  :-)  Which made both of us happy.

Fast forward to about a month later.  We were at IKEA just picking up a few things when out of curiosity I ventured into the "As is" section.  Now for those of you not familiar with IKEA's "As is," it's pretty much just a section of furniture that was either a floor model, missing a piece or damaged somehow.  Most of the time the things that are missing or damaged are so tiny that it really doesn't matter, or can very easily and inexpensively be fixed.

We weren't shopping for anything in particular when we went in there, but I always like to stop and check it out.  The dresser that sits in my bedroom right now was a previous "As is" find.

So imagine our surprise when we come across the pink bed that Sadira had been admiring for what felt like years.  The bed retails for $159.99, but the slats on the bottom of the bedframe were broken and needed to be repaired.  I checked out the price tag and the bed was marked down 50% to $79.99.

Half off is OBVIOUSLY a good deal, but Sadira didn't NEED the bed.  She was still sleeping in her crib converted to a toddler bed, and it was working just fine.  I knew she loved the pink bed, so it was a bummer to pass it up, but $80 on a bed that she really didn't NEED still seemed excessive.


I looked up and saw a sign.  Nothing big, or even really noticeable, just a 8.5 x 11 sheet of white paper taped the wall with typing that said, "TAKE AN ADDITIONAL 50% OFF ON WEDNESDAYS.  'AS IS' MERCHANDISE ONLY."

I stood there blinking at the sign trying to register exactly what it meant, and then realizing, "oh! Today's Wednesday!"  Just as I made that realization, a guy who worked at IKEA happened to notice my bewilderment and looked at the sign, then looked at the price of the bed I was eyeing, and said, "yeah, that $40 today, since it's Wednesday."


(and that is how I scored a $160 bed for $40.) :-)

I bought the bed that night and was able to fix the broken slats that even with just some extra strength wood glue.  Naturally Sadira was thrilled and wanted to set up her new bed that night.

Not so fast.

I did the ultimate mean mommy thing.  I put it away.

I knew I wanted to re-do Sadie's room for her birthday, and it was still summertime!  Perfect amount of time for me to hide the bed, and long enough that she would forget it even existed until her birthday when I surprised her with her bedroom makeover.

So the weekend before her birthday we took a trip to Home Depot, and I managed to buy a can of perfectly pink paint behind her back by lying to her (yes outright LYING to my child) and telling her it was white paint for the basement. (Hey, it was white before they mixed it...)

Sadira's birthday this year was on a Monday, and I had plans of taking her to my grandmother's house on Sunday night (she usually goes to bed at my grandmother's on Sunday nights because my grandma watches her on Mondays and they both like to sleep in).  I planned on dropping her off a few hours before bedtime so that I would have time to get her room prepped and then paint it first thing in the morning (I had off work on her birthday).  THEN, I planned on picking her up, celebrating her birthday with the family, and coming home to her *hopefully dried* newly pink-painted room.

HOWEVER, that Sunday night the Ravens played the Steelers. In Pittsburgh.  On Sunday Night Football.

And my girl DID NOT want to go to Mommom's. She wanted to stay home and watch the game with Mommy.


So I, of course, allowed her to stay home, and watch the game with me.  She almost made it to the end of the game, but fell asleep some point in the fourth quarter.  Alright, so I let her fall asleep on the sofa, while I moved ALL of her furniture to the center of the room, brought up the ladder and supplies and laid down the dropcloth.

After doing all of that (and stifling my cheers of glee as the Ravens pulled out the 4th quarter victory!) I managed to verrrrry quietly move my girl into my bed, without waking her up and spoiling the surprise.  Then, at MIDNIGHT on November 7th, I began painting her room.  Finished up around 4am, then slept for a few hours, before dropping Sadie off to my grandma's, and racing home to finish the second coat.

And THEN I took a proper nap. :-)

So in less than 9 hours her room went from THIS:


And Sadie's favorite part..."the secret hedgehog," as she calls it :-)

Oh yeah, and before I cost to redo Sadira's room, including new bed, sheet/comforter set, decals, curtains, new shelving unit and paint?  Less than $115. SWEET!

It's Pink-tastic!

(I think she likes it)

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