fathers, they are the very best.

Fathers.

They hold their little one’s hands.

They show up.  In the stands cheering for that little league game or big track meet.

They cook and clean dishes just to ease Mama’s heart and make her smile.

They hug their minis tight to remind them they are safe.  Always.

They teach their children how to be smart with our money and change a tire.  Those valuable life lessons.

They hope and dream for their babies.

They are strong and silent.

They work hard.  The kind of work that goes unnoticed.  And, they never, ever ask for a pat on the back.

They heal broken hearts and ensure no future heartbreak ever takes place.

They are the very best.

May every child have strong arms to run into and a soft heart to call home.

To all the great fathers out there, hopeful, current, or expecting, especially my amazing father-in-laws, my wonderful daddy, and the man, my one heck of a husband, who had me fall in love with him all over after seeing him become a papa bear…

Thank you.

For all you do.

And, for continuing to protect, love, and support us.  

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Happy (Early) Father’s Day!

  

letters to noah man: happy THIRD birthday!!!

Dear Noah, 

Wow.  

They said it would fly by.

They were right.  

But, seriously…

Three.  You are three, love.

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(Deep breaths.)

(Give us a moment.)

We met you on that sweet May day.  We held you and took one look at each other to know our lives would forever be changed in that moment because we had fallen ridiculously in love with you.  

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It was that same day, we felt God whisper to us, “Just wait and see what I have planned for your sweet boy…”

(And, here come the waterworks.)

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You are the bravest person we know, Noah man.  Enough said.

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You smile with your eyes.  And, it lights up any room and heart.

You love tractors & fast cars, exploring on the farm, playing soccer, snuggling, eating cupcakes, learning & reading books, and being our sous chef in the kitchen.    

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You inspire us daily by your strength and faith.  Watching you fold your precious hands together and thank God for your many blessings melts every inch of our hearts.

You fight and love with an unbelievable amount of passion.  

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You never turn down the opportunity to be silly.  It is probably one of our favorite things about you. 

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You give us more joy than you will ever know.  In the way you say ever so sweet, “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.”  In the way you ask for hugs and kisses before leaving for school.  And, in the way you make us laugh by your random questions and singing.  We never knew being parents could be this “love bursting out of our hearts” kind of journey, but it is.  It so is, sweets.

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You are an entertainer at heart.  Your dance moves alone rock.

You love unconditionally like daddy and laugh loudly like mama.  

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You are going to make an incredible big brother, best friend, and role model to Baby Brother.  

You have a humble and kind heart.  And, the reasons we beam with pride as to how we got so lucky to have you as our son and best little bud.  

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We are honored and privileged to be chosen by God to be the ones who love and support you through this beautiful thing called life.  

Happiest of happy THIRD birthdays, love bug!!!

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May you continue to dream and hope as big as your sweet heart.

We are just crazy about you, kid.

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xoxo,

Daddy and Mama

  

a tribute to the greatness of mothers

Mamahood.

A powerful journey.

Filled with grace, joy, pain, and passion.

Those brave and beautiful mamas though.

The ones who dream, plan, hope, cry, lost, and waited wrapped in desire.

The ones who spend nine months in excitement, anxiety, and wonderment if their bodies and hearts are ready for this journey.  This oh so beautiful journey.

Yet their hearts will never be prepared for the love of the biggest blessing(s) to enter their lives.

The ones who wake in the middle of the night to nurse or prepare a bottle with tired eyes to feed their newest bundle of joy only to remember one day, those quiet nights will be greatly missed.

The ones who chase monsters out of closets, lay next to their babes scared of the dark, and kiss “owies” to keep those tears away and sweet smiles forever on their faces.

The ones who walk this journey accompanied or alone, with their bodies or hearts, they will be forever changed and never truly their own.  In the best of ways.

The ones who will birth for twenty plus hours, take fertility medications, fly across the country or world only to hold flesh on flesh the one they have prayed for weeks, months, or years.

The ones who create everlasting legacies and silly traditions.

The ones who are always available to hear their grown babies tell of their pain, fears, and joys of their own babies.

The ones who prepare meals with heart-shaped pancakes and “ants on the log” only to once again see the joy and excitement we take for granted at times.

The ones who stay awake into the early morning hours to create a handmade Valentine’s card box or finish the science project due the next school day.

The ones who sing silly songs in the bathtub and have pajama dance parties on Saturday night.  Just because.  The sound of those giggles.  It is the very best.

The ones who try to stay afloat through those dark and exhausting days, they carry on.

Because they are the nurturers, the glue, the warriors, the realm of calmness and love.

And, through those most joyful and trying times, they remember over and over again.

The gift.

Filled with chaos.

And laughter.

And tears.

And beauty in the most hidden places.

Of mamahood.

To all the great mothers, hopeful or expecting, new or seasoned, especially the two I am constantly inspired by, my mum and mama-in-law.

This tribute is for you.

Thank you.

(Although, thank you is not nearly enough.)

For all you do.

Your sacrifice, unconditional love, and strength.  

a tribute to the greatness of mothers

(photo credit: nicole j photography)

Happy (Early) Mother’s Day.

  

i’m back!

Oh hey there!  I promise I did not leave or quit this little space of love.  Maybe we can just call it an nine month writing “sabbatical” leave instead?

How about I rewind back to the summer of 2015, in which, I let life get too busy, my priorities were all wrong, and I found myself in the middle of a fight between my heart and brain?  Enter tiny whispers of telling my heart to slow the heck down.  Guess who won that fight?  My heart.

So, for the past nine months I did exactly this.  I chose the three most important pieces of my life and put them at the top of my list: my health, family, and faith.  I realized I was not my best self if I could not eat healthy, exercise, and sleep right.  And, I quickly discovered I may screw up quite a few things in life, but my marriage and mamahood were not going to fall in that category.  Above all, without my faith and remembering to practice the phrase, “let go and let God,” I would literally be lost.  This meant putting everything else aside, and you know what?  It turned out to be the best nine months.  Because here is a little glimpse of what happened…

We spent every moment we could adventuring to the most beautiful parts of Kansas City.

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We made family date nights happen with our love bug.

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But, soaked up “just the two of us” nights as well.

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We seized the opportunity to travel to here…

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And here…

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We made memories.  And laughed a lot.  But, please do not be fooled.  We also battled with the terrible twos (is this why they invented wine?!), potty & big boy bed training, some nasty illnesses with our little love, and did I mention the tantrums?  Yet, I would not trade any of those memories for different ones.

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The most amazing of those nine months.  The day I took a pregnancy test and two pink lines showed up once again.  And, we suddenly became a party of five (including Pebs…NOT expecting twins!).  Our hearts have been even more full ever since that beautiful November day.

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Which led us to do this crazy thing Bryan and I have been dreaming about before Baby L came in the picture.  To take Noah man to Disneyworld for our last “three musketeers” vacation.  To say it was truly the best is an understatement.

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Here is the thing.  I have missed writing something fierce.  However, I do not regret taking time to enjoy the simple things in life like eating ice-cream on the couch with my husband, laying in the playroom and coloring with our ever so fast growing toddler, lunches with girlfriends, reading a good book, cooking Sunday dinners with Noah, and taking evening walks with no agenda.  Too often, we get caught up in what is expected of us in life.  We forget sometimes to cut ourselves that break.  To ease up.  And remember.  This life…it is messy, imperfect, and quite beautiful.

It is good to be back!

Shamim J. - Welcome back, Shefali! As always, I love reading your insightful posts! You write beautifully. Your little boy is so cute! And a hearty congratulations on baby #2! Take care. -Shamim

  

chinese fried rice + homemade ginger dressing

Chinese food.  It was an acquired love.  One that began at the ripe age of sixteen when my parents gave us one of the most eye-opening and memorable experiences: four weeks seeing the poorest, richest, and most fascinating parts of India.

The last time I visited India probably does not count since I was four and barely remember any part of this visit.  Other than I had to share the attention of my parents with my semi-new baby brother.  But, that story is for a different time.  Let me go ahead and paint a picture of the mindset I was in on the airplane ride to India.  I believe the exact question that came out of my mouth to my mum was, “When can I get a cell phone and a new car?”  No, “let’s discuss” or “how can I pitch in?”  Straight up, “when?”

I think when we stepped off the plane, I was hit with a burst of humidity, instant sweat, and a whopping 110 degree weather.  I should mention, I was in pants and a sweatshirt with no change of clothes.  I should also mention it was night time.  As in, it was the coolest part of the entire day.

The next day, I wore my most conservative outfit I had packed, a knee length, sleeveless dress.  My great-uncle, who we were staying at the time that I adored, gave me one look and stated I needed to change that moment to my mum.  Instantly, I missed home.  For the following four weeks, I made my way through India clothed in long sleeves and pants.  I may or may not have showered at least three times a day.

And, this, above, was my biggest complaint of our entire four weeks.  Missing home disappeared quickly as we saw places and met people who made my brother and I realize what mattered in life.

In India, everything is vibrant.  The people, they are loud.  They are animated.  They talk with their hands.  And, they speak beautifully.  The colors, well, this explain everything about the reason why my closet is filled with random prints and an insane amount of color.  My roots are the inspiration of my style.  The temples are probably some of the most intricate and marvelous pieces of architecture.  But, the food.  The food is everything in India.

I believe the first stop we ever made in India was at a street cart.  My dad insisted he have what is my most favorite Indian dish called pani puri.  At night.  See, food is a way of love.  It is a way for people in India to meet, tell stories of my parents, and laugh.  Watching the liveliness that took place when surrounded by food is still one of my fondest memories of that trip.

This is where the Chinese food comes in.  You see, from time to time, I had Chinese food.  I liked it.  But, never loved it.  Until this one evening when we were visiting my mum’s cousin and her new husband.  From the amount of food, you would have assumed it was a special night.  It was just a typical Saturday night.

They had food brought in and cooked from all over the city.  Indian sweet and ice-cream that my food loving heart explode.  Until this point, I had not a clue Chinese food would be found in India.  Let alone taste out of this world.  But, it did.  Oh my word, did it taste amazing.  The flavors mixed in with the Indian spices sent me to cloud nine followed by food coma.  From this point on, Chinese food was one in which I crave on a weekly basis.  But, not the take out kind.  The homemade with many spices kind.  That remind me of that typical Saturday night.

And, for those wondering.  The trip changed my utterly sixteen year old spoiled self within four weeks.  After seeing the most beautiful and rawest parts of India, I believe the first sentence I said to my mum on our way back to the states was, “Forget the cell phone and car.  I am so grateful for our life in the states.  And, the air conditioner.”

(I truly cannot wait for Bryan and Noah to experience the exquisite culture of India one day!)

With many thanks to my weekly Chinese cravings, I came across these two recipes that not only taste amazing but were approved by our two year old with a “yum” and a smile!

Enjoy.

Chinese Fried Rice (recipe and photo courtesy of sue lau of food.com)

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 drops of soy sauce
  • 3 drops of sesame oil
  • 8 ounces of cooked lean boneless pork or chicken chopped (if vegetarian, leave the meat out)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 cups of cold cooked rice
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups of bean spouts
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add chopped onions and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color, about 8-10 minutes; remove from wok.
  2. Allow wok to cool slightly.
  3. Mix egg with 3 drops of soy and 3 drops of sesame oil; set aside
  4. Add 1/2 tbsp oil to wok, swirling to coat surfaces; add egg mixture; working quickly, swirl egg until egg sets against wok; when egg puffs, flip egg and cook other side briefly; remove from wok, and chop into small pieces.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add selected meat to wok, along with carrots, peas, and cooked onion; stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Add rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  7. Add 2 tbsp of light soy sauce and chopped egg to rice mixture and fold in; stir-fry for 1 minute more; serve.
  8. Set out additional soy sauce on the table, if desired.

Asian Ginger Dressing (recipe and photo courtesy of chef jeff of food.com)

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Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. In a 1 pint glass jar or larger, combine the garlic, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water.
  2. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well.
  3. Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey.
  4. Let cool, and shake well before serving.
  5. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Now, I need to start researching some Indo Chinese recipes to try next…