11/365 Cold days but Cozy Moments

dailycreativechallege11.365.6  This morning the temps dipped down to a chilly -17.  That included the windchill– so its normal ‘January’ for this Wisconsin family.  Still and all, no one was begging to get outside and play this morning as per usual.  Instead we delighted in some hot tea and snuggles and stories.  And I was happy for that.  We did venture out today.  We headed out to the doctor for a yearly visit for Ilyaas (things looks pretty good) and a reward for bravery on his part at our favorite noodle house.

The sheer enjoyment had by kids eating noodles cannot be overlooked.


The hero of the hour.

And here is my day’s creation.  I did feel today that my zentangles might be taking a break after this share.   But the best thing about this quiet creative morning time is that you never know what may unfold.



Check out this challenge I have found to keep up with the creativity.  There are so many creative people out there who are doing this stuff every day.  It really gives a girl something to look up to!



Foodie Friday: Because food is art 8/365


Few words….  just food that fueled our week that felt as divine to make as consume. (French Press Coffee, Handmade White Bread, Hot and Sour Soup)  We ate other stuff this week– and it was good, but these were the favorites.



Textured Birds on a Snowy Day 7/365

dailycreativechallege7.365.7Today I woke late.  Shabbar has a cold.  He’s coughing a lot.  Makes for a snotty coughing preschooler (because he’s in the bed with us) and a tired Mama.  This is not so much a complaint as it is an excuse.  Tired Alicia moves SLOWLY!  But despite the slow movement, and procrastination (Aaliyah is my overachiever in this area), we have arrived at lunch with work complete and bread rising on the stove.  And mac n cheese ready to eat.  I don’t attempt to understand such mysteries **How can we get everything done by lunch when we are barely moving this day when on other very productive days, the first time I look up from our work is 1:30 nevermind eating?**

Despite the lazy hazy morning, it snowed beautifully and I created once again.  Between glances out the window, I penned textured birds using markers.  I so enjoy hunting for the patterns in zentangle.


Sometimes happiness is a bold grinning face– a guffaw laugh.  But other days– most days for me, happiness is soft quiet mornings listening to one boy read to the other, stroking Dash the cat, coloring my world with texture, citrus simmer pot aroma, powered by coffee and the promise of rising bread.  Full sensory gratitude.


Drawing my first…. 6/365


dailycreativechallege6.365.9For Christmas, my brother got me markers and a coloring book.  I, like so many others, have fallen for the doodlebug/ coloring book de-stress trend.  The coloring book part is relaxing, but this morning as I sat with my coffee and quiet I felt an urge to see just where my beginning talents lie.  So… here we are.  A few pictures.  I took one (1!) art class in college– cough– 14 years ago– cough– and more than not really sucking at it, I just really loved the process.  I learned that art could be improved through practice and process.  I learned that finding the zone and ultimate outcome of the art doesn’t actually matter as much as enjoying the moment.  I guess I am hoping that this little experiment shows just that.  Therefore, the  markers and I got properly acquainted today.  Happy viewing.

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Daily Creativity Challenge 5/365

dailycreativechallege5.365.1Happy 2016!  Its a new year and–as usual– I am full of New Years Resolutions.  In middle December, I took myself out of the Facebook ‘game’ for a bit– all the political junk being tossed around is hard on a sensitive girl’s heart.  While it is difficult to stop the sharing, it is relieving to miss the stress.  And it came as an epiphany this year to me that my sensitivity is not something that I should apologize for!  Nor is it a weakness in my character.  Perhaps even, my sensitive nature, my empathy for people, my creative spirit is my talent.  My power!

But mired in the daily lug of school work, house work, and a recent returned struggle with anxiety– my ‘power’ has atrophied.  My empathy is drying up.  My creativity is wasted on Netflix marathons.

Something has to change.  So here’s the plan:

  1.  Wake up at 5:30 am each morning.
  2. Establish my Mama time every day from 5:30 until 7:30.
  3. This time will be used to locate and polish off the creativity I used to recognize.
  4. Finding Inspiration from this TED Talk; Journal each night before bed to outline the following:
    1. 3 gratitudes
    2. the re-establishment of an occurrence that day (journal an event)
    3. Daily  Exercise (with one cheat day) *I began attending Taekwondo classes with Aaliyah in December!  check!
    4. Meditation:  Check out the free app Headspace to see what I am using for this!
    5. Random Acts of Kindness-  A kind email, a kind word in person, a kind deed.  (more on this later)
  5. When I find the ability– who knows how often but probably more in Jan./Feb. than the other months, I will post my creative process and achievements.

Day 5:  Texture Tuesday!  The afghan I have been working on since Thanksgiving weekend.  This is for Aaliyah.  It is using a pattern called Juicy Fruits (With Mikey whom I adore!) featured on Youtube and I am crocheting it in an ombre color palette for the dominant aqua.  It is roughly 2/7 complete at this time. (That’s Aaliyah’s cute little modeling there)






Two more Sleeps Until the Adventure Begins


Two more sleeps.  Did you ever count like that when you were a kid?  I did.  I do still.  I count down for Christmas, for visits from special relatives, and especially for vacations.  The weather is still cold up here in the “Frozen Tundra.”  The house is popping and cracking often as it protests the cold.  I am still drinking too much coffee.  We are still staying in and using the oven a lot to help heat the house.  But today I am not exactly whimpering “mercy” like I was the other day.  Don’t get me wrong– Spring is NOT in the air.  There is nothing much different from the other day in terms of weather pattern.  But in two sleeps things will be different.  There is a flurry of things yet to do but the lists and the packing and the planning and details all help.  Yes.  In two sleeps the adventure begins.

Winter in Wisconsin…. The Struggle is Real People

Panorama of freezing day.
I write this post on the coldest day of 2015 to date. (At least according to the weather guy.) I am drinking coffee even though my belly is protesting and my hands are a bit jittery– but its keeping my hands warm! And I am wearing a long sleeve shirt, a thin fleece and a heavy hooded sweatshirt on top. Fleece pants, socks and slippers. I am sitting by the window– but its been covered in clear plastic film to keep the drafts out.

My kids are still sleeping and warm. But they have needed an endless application of Eucerin and Aquafor over these past several days to just keep their skin from…. turning gray and falling off pretty much… If there was such thing as a lotion warmer, now would be the time for it.

I have begun making deals with God. “Please bring warmth.” “If you bring Spring, I promise never to squandor a day of it!” “I will wake with every sunrise, watch every sunset and be outside every possible moment, just warm things up around here!”

I am officially over the cold. The snow. The pretending I love winter sports/activities. Yes! Ice fishing was a blast a month ago. Sledding was wonderful– the one time we went. Seeing the big kids ski was so neat this winter. When the temps were 15 or above, getting out and walking the property was awesome. But its been a long time since I have seen temps of 15 or above. or the sun. I miss green. And I miss miss miss the sun.

My soul longs for the garden.

This is the list I have come up with to keep me going:
(top three are action items, bottom three are soul bolstering)
1. I have planted coleus, petunia, geranium and onion in our indoor greenhouse.
2. Shabbar picked up some shelving units on sale for our outdoor greenhouse and they are sitting in our garage anxiously awaiting St. Patrick’s day.
3. I jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes most days with Pandora in my ears.
4. A plan to get to warmer climates is less than a week away. Pictures to come!
5. I have exited social media. My heart is weary from winter. I cannot take all the anxiety that jazzed up public opinions are heaping on facebook/instagram/twitter these days. I will go back in and see how I feel in March.
6. The kids and I have challenged ourselves to come up with a calendar full of zany Razvi-centric ‘holidays’ for our family to celebrate. The idea started with our first adventure day two springs ago leading us to the best pie place on earth. Its a tradition we’ve kept up and a plan we wish to expand as the days grow longer and …eventually…. warmer. (More on this in the furture I hope.)

Thank Goodness for Adventure Day!

20140116_103104 The dreaded but expected “rut” of homeschool hit us so hard this winter, that I didn’t recognize it for what it was.  A rut.  Something that we all experience, all know will happen, and accept in others with understanding and grace– but not ourselves.  This January/February, things got hard.  I felt bored, unfulfilled and guilty about what I had the kids doing or not doing.  Everyone was sick, I was feeling frumpy and grouchy and we were home bound for days and days and days.  Then those stinking polar vortex(es) hit and we were made home bound for more days.  I began to fantasize about better sleep and working outside of the home and a lifestyle that afforded our family long lazy days on a beach– or warm dusty days in a bright bakery kitchen rolling dough and baking pastries while listening to the radio.  Either way, those day dreams didn’t build dreams or fulfill my wanderlust, or line my pockets in gold so that we could just jet off to ‘somewhere.’   Wanting is a poison I think.  I have a beautiful life laid out for me.  But in my bored, not-fully-tapped brain, I wanted.  More sleep.  More escape from ugly, cold, daily-grind, dark days.  I began to think that if I just stopped this ‘silliness’ of trying to school my kids and just did things the way everyone ELSE on the planet did them, and sent my children to school, I would have what I wanted.  My fantasies turned into tearful discussions with Shabbar about losing myself, over-caring, and letting brain cells die by the minute.  Shabbar tried to fix it.  Fix me.  Clear my clutter, get me moving.  I didn’t like it.  I stewed.  I talked to my support group.  I watched in awe as Shabbar could figure out what he wanted in his life and go after it–simply. 20140305_111016 20140305_160638 I needed to do that. At first I decided I would probably put my kids back in school.  This relieved me of my endless road.  I now had an endpoint in mind.  Then I decided I better make sure they were up to speed and maybe even a little ahead once they re-entered public education.   So now I had a learning goal set.  Finally I took some of the burden off myself for teaching my kids EVERYTHING and thus established “Adventure Day.”  I found Natural Science programs and Living History programs around the state, and got them in the car once a week for their ‘lessons.’  It was fun for them– who doesn’t like weekly field trips?  And it was fun for me.  I got coffee and npr on the drive and a good lunch out somewhere once a week.  I saw people.  I impressed myself in my ability to navigate large city museums.  To seek out good halal food once there and do something for both my children and myself. 10366090_10152162051558543_20701216800456389_n This semester took us to the Milwaukee Public Museum twice, The BodyWorlds Exhibit, the  Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center several times, several Children’s Museums across the state, the Norske Nook (on Pie Day!) the International Crane Foundation, the Mead Nature Center, Geocaching in Stevens Point, waterparks, smaller museums and a couple zoos. We learned so much together, I took moments to delight in my children. We awoke on Adventure Day each week eager to see what the day would bring.  We faced and challenges together.  We had a blast.  We learned about Pheology, Conservation and Natural Sciences.  I do believe that Aldo Leopold was my ‘patron saint’ this year!  We saw a duodenum (the non-working part of Aaliyah’s anatomy at birth.) a spleen enlarged by Leukemia (the organ that ultimately led to Shabbar’s diagnosis) and babies in all stages of inutero-development.  This was a fascinating year! And in the midst of it, I realized that I loved what I was doing with the kids.  I LOVED it.  I didn’t want to re-enter public education.  I wanted Adventure Day to continue.  I wanted our learning with our hands and our hearts to keep moving.  I remembered why I did this in the first place. Next year will look different for us.  This kids are in a Virtual school with an all day Friday school option.  We are using state-funded- Alicia-chosen curriculum totaling more money per kid than I would have spent…ever.  (More on this later!)  But Adventure day is with us.  We will continue this path as long as we can. And its funny.  Those fantasies…. the ones about better sleep, beachy travel and owning a bakery… they have been pushed back to a happier place.  I rise with the birds now to get outside and garden with Shabbar.  The beach is just a car ride away since the beautiful weather has returned to us.  And the bakery?  Well, maybe I will get back to that once I stop learning side by side with my kiddos! 10366030_10152160592548543_1491436247280304041_n

Cancer Survivors– all of them

Thinking back…The amount of stress, trepidation and fear that shrouded our first day of Shabbar’s original hospital stay was immeasurable.  In those days his very survival was questionable– to me anyways.  I remember very clearly walking with Shabbar that first morning to the oncology unit at Marshfield Clinic and finding it absolutely mind bending that we were allowed to just walk down the halls, sit in the waiting room, get a cup of water from the communal water cooler.  Weren’t we told over and over again how ill he was?  Wasn’t he about to be placed in a quarantine type room for his protection?  Yet there we sat sitting on the shared couch, flipping though the shared magazines.  I sat and stared at my notebook trying to commit to memory my questions for the oncologist.  What were the chances of our children having this cancer?  How long was Shabbar’s treatment going to last?  When would life look “normal” again?  When would Shabbar be able to return to work?  …and those last two questions made me dizzy.  I just couldn’t fathom this new fork in the road, how we got to this place, how we were about to begin fighting for our lives.  I looked up in prayer.  (I have always looked skyward… sun-ward)  and my eyes landed on this saying:  




and I realized that this statement could apply to me just as easily as it applied to Shabbar.  So much of the caregiver role in cancer is just watching and waiting….and wringing your hands and praying and juggling.  Juggling…whew!  that one is a big one.  But all the oneness is on the person afflicted with cancer.  THEY are the survivor– even though we have all been through hell.  But this quote changed my perspective that day.  I wasn’t going to give up.  Giving up shortens my breath and makes my palms sweat.  I was going to fight like hell!  I was going fight for my childrens’ Baba.  I was going to take care of Shabbar and take care of the kids and I was going to keep all the balls of life with cancer sailing high into the air.  (In retrospect, I didn’t really take care of myself– which proved problematic later on, and I had enough grace to let others care for me and the kiddos).  But I still fought like hell.  I took it as a personal challenge to see that Shabbar laughed every day.  I insisted on nursing Imran who was so little at the time.  I packed up our family and moved us to Chicago for the transplant and then taught myself to drive around the busy city and keep the morals high for my kiddos– because that ultimately kept mine high.  

And then last night– I came across the quote below on facebook.  And tears sprung to my eyes.  If you have cancer– you are a fighter and you are a survivor!  AND if you are a caregiver– you are a FIGHTER and a SURVIVOR!  Because when ‘one’ gets cancer… the whole family gets cancer.  



…I knew this– logically and rationally.  But to read it, validated the roles that my kids and I played in Shabbar’s cancer.  It validated our struggle AND our ultimate triumph.  Whether you are receiving the chemo or holding the hand receiving the chemo….  you are in this!  And I am lifting you skyward.