Thursday, February 16, 2012

read:: the dressmaker of khair khana

Its been quite a while since I did a book review here, so when I read this book over the past few days, I knew I had to tell you about it!

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, tells the true story of  Kamila Sidiqi. Kamila was a young women in her late teens living in a suburb of Kabul, Afghanistan, when the Taliban overtook the city over a decade ago, and follows her life over the 8-10 years that followed.  This book was truly eye-opening to me as I found myself ignorant of all the history of Afghanistan prior to 9/11 when it was suddenly pushed into the world spotlight.  I am ashamed to say how very little I actually knew about this country and its wonderful history, of modernization and westernization through the 1950s-1970s, of the years fighting and eventually defeating the Soviets, and then of the Taliban and their insistant return of the Afghani culture to something that attempted to mimic the 1600's!

Kamila Sidiqi's story is of how she and her sisters learned to survive and even thrive during the time of tremendous oppression of women by the Taliban.  Kamila developed a tailoring business that eventually employed many of the neighborhood women, allowing for her family and the families of her employees to support themselves when many of the men had been forced to flee to northern Afghanistan or to Pakistan, Iran, and other countries to avoid falling under the Taliban's rules. 

This book drew me in, led me through the days and nights of the Sidiqi family during Taliban rule, made me love these tenacious women, and opened my eyes to life I was previously unaware of.  I love when I read a book that changes me and how I think about the world. This is one of those books.  Read it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

sharing the valentine's love

Wishing all my readers a most happy Valentine's day! May you be surrounded by the love of your family and friends, and may you know the love Jesus has for you!
Oh, and may someone you love hand you a lollipop that is almost as big as your head! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

how to have a Lego party!

What to do for my little buddy's fourth birthday party? After toying with ideas ranging from monsters to rockets, we landed on everyone's favorite building toy, Legos!  It helps that between my hubby's childhood Lego sets, sets that he has purchased for--yes--himself as adult, and all the kids various Legos, that we had an obscene amount  plenty of Legos to work with!

So I got busy on Pinterest, found more ideas than I could ever execute, several parties that must have cost a fortune and were way out of our league, and plenty of good, inexpensive fun that were just right for us. Here's what I did:

Favors:  Based on this idea I cut, folded and decorated yellow paper party bags to look like Mini-figure heads. I love Sharpie markers! These bags were filled with a Lego favor (a fabulous friend found batches of these on clearance at the Lego Store--hurray!) and a baby-food jar with a painted lid, filled with Lego-shaped candy.
Decorations: One giant Lego-building table, made by hubby the day before, out of a sheet of plywood, with 2x4's around the edges to create a lip, and edges covered with painter's tape to prevent splinters. Placed on top of a couple low cabinets hubby had in the garage (but cinderblocks or low tables would work well too).
I also used bright primary color streamer-red, yellow, green and blue. I strung up lots of yellow balloons (again with mini-fig faces drawn on) hung upside down from ribbons from stairways, chandeliers and anywhere else I could think of. And I drew some picture "cover-ups" for the art that is in our kitchen, so they matched the decor (just adhere to the glass with painters tape).
Food: Can you have a four-year-old's party without pizza? We couldn't. There were cupcakes with the Lego candy on top, marshmallow-pops, and mini-fig chocolates made from a silicone ice-cube tray.  The candle-holder was made by whittling a regular birthday candle to fit in a mini-figure's hand.

The mini-figure marshmallow-pops are made by putting a large marshmallow onto a lollipop stick (from your local craft store), topping it with half a small marshmallow, and dipping in yellow dipping chocolate (I used Wilton). I used an edible food-marker to make the faces, but piped chocolate might work better (the marker didn't write on the chocolate very well). They can also be made as cake pops but these are easier. Thanks to this party site for the great idea!

Activities:  The kids loved just being able to play with all the Legos! Hubby had set out many of the sets that were already built in areas like Lego City, Airport, Harbor, Space station, and Fort Legorado, on different tables and low book-shelves around the ground floor. We put some Duplo in one area away from the rest of the Legos for the littlest kids. 

And we did play games! After seeing a ton of fabulous games we pared it down and played "Pin the 4 on the mini-figure", and a Lego version of "Hot Potato" with a Lego "potato". The best part of  the Hot Potato game was that every kid got a small prize as they were eliminated from the game so that everyone was a winner (important when you are a kid!).  We had a tower building contest. And a mason-jar of the Lego-shaped candy made a great "guess how many are in the jar?" game--with the winner getting to take the whole jar of candy home.   I had also printed out the Lego Bingo cards from the link above, but found that the energy level of 13 kids aged 3-6 was insane just too high, so we nixed that idea at the last minute. I think older kids would have had a blast with that game.
Lego "Hot Potato"

Pin the "4" on the Lego Man
my "tower-builders" hard at work!
So there you have it...the Lego birthday! It was a great hit, and was fun and pretty easy to plan (thanks again to the wonder of the Internet!).  I hope you enjoyed seeing all the fun!

four is fabulous!

My "little buddy" is not so little anymore! He celebrated his fourth birthday in grand style with FOUR separate parties:
  1. Dinner out with mom, dad and sister on his actual birthday, at the Japanese steak house, "with the fire on the table!", and ice-cream cake after.
  2. Dinner two days later with both sets of grandparents, and cookie-brownie bars.
  3. Snack at his preschool , with cupcakes , and...
  4. The amazing Lego Party (which I will give details in a separate post) yesterday!
Here are the candle-blowing highlights!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

fourth birthday

My "baby" boy turns four today. FOUR! Its true that time flies and it seems like yesterday that I was holding him for the first time.  And while the party (ok, parties) haven't really gotten started yet, I wanted to share this little poem I wrote for his birthday card.  We'll be headed to "the restaurant with the fire on the tables!" (aka the Japanese Steakhouse) later this evening, celebrating with both sets of grandparents on Monday, treats at pre-school on Tuesday, and the much-anticipated LEGO party with his friends next weekend, so truly, the fun (and pictures!) are still to come.  He's such a love, he deserves it all.

Four years ago, on your birth-day,
Who knew the boy you'd become today!
A boy who loves snuggles and loves tickles,
He even loves olives and lots of pickles!
A boy who is smart and goes to school,
His friends all think he is really cool!
He love to play and build and run,
Blocks and Legos are lots of fun!
Riding his motorcycle really fast,
Who knows how long the fun can last!

What fun you've had these first few years,
And now you're FOUR, lets give a cheer!
A year of growing, laughs and fun--
The celebration's just begun!

Happy Birthday to our wonderful boy!
We LOVE you!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

the perfect cat for us

I've been spending enormous amounts of time snuggled up with this sweet girl, who the kids have christened "Cassie" (after a short lived run of "Princess Buttercup"!). She is a little rescue about 3 months old, and she is the perfect cat for us! I have to emphasize that last phrase because after our older cat passed away last fall, the kids have been asking and praying for a new kitten, and I kept telling them that we needed to be patient and pray for the perfect cat for us, not just "any kitty". 

I had gotten a little discouraged after several craigslist dead ends, and had to keep reminding myself that we were waiting for God to bring us that perfect cat.  What was my image of a perfect cat? A short-haired, female kitten, 2-3 months old, affectionate, house-raised, good with the kids, and that I didn't have strong allergies to. (Most kitties and I do just fine, but there are a few out there that I am dreadfully allergic to!)

And God heard our prayers. This little girl is playful and smart, loves people and lets the kids carry her around, loves to snuggle up with me and purr loudly sitting on my chest, and she doesn't make me sneeze! She is still making friends with our other kitty, Dora, who has been a bit of a grouch since this little interloper came to stay, but Dora seems to be slowly coming around. This morning, Dora spent over an hour perched on a kitchen chair watching the kitten play on the floor while I cooked. I have hope that they will make their peace and become great companions.

I will readily admit that I have quickly grown to love Miss Cassie, and agree that God most certainly did provide, at just the right time, the perfect cat for us! Wouldn't you agree that she's adorable?