And just like that here I am again

It's been a long time since I've noted anything in this little space. Fo the most part life just took over and Winter came to Vermont in the strongest of ways. We've enjoyed loads of indoor time and are at this point truly feeling the cabin fever. It's hard to enjoy winter when the the temperatures read -20F! Not every day but it's been three weeks now of brutal temperature off and on.

So what do we do to combat the feeling of wanting to curl up in a ball and hibernate? Well, lots of board games, go fish, zingo and a ton of drawing and alphabet practicing. Faris is starting to really speak a lot and put long sentences together. It's adorable he asked Hamza the other day worried that he was not feeling well: " Hamza, what's the matterey?"  I just about peed my pants. He is so concerned about everyones well being. It's the sweetest!

Hamza on the other hand is so smart, I know every mama says that about their kids but really I am in awe of the amount of information he retains. He loves to learn about the human body and is quick to pint out where certain organs are, I mean really, the spleen! He is just so interested in science and is developing great math skills. He's starting school in September and I think he's more than ready.

We are playing with the idea of selling our home and buying a slightly bigger one. We like small living so the next house shouldn't be much bigger but what matters to us is that it's walking distance from parks and schools. I also need sidewalks to run on and think that it's so bizarre that this country has no sidewalks in many towns. I guess it's the Europen in me talking.

I've also been working on a project I can't share yet but it's been many months in the making. It's exciting and scary at the same time but its been my dream for a very long time. Seeing things unfold and happen for me is giving me the biggest thrill.

We're off to ski this Sunday, the mets are suppose to be 30F!!! Crazy, I may even put sunscreen on :)


little lion man- a birth story

It was September 21st 2009 and I had just returned form my Americorp position. Tired and emotionally exhausted I plopped myself on a large lawn chair opposite from my mother on their tiny porch. For a while we just sat there, tired listening to the leaves on the trees.

That summer we had decided to move back home to Vermont. We wanted a slower pace of living and more nature surrounding our future child. We also knew that having my parents near was going to be a big help to us. Due to a really bad job market, Amer was unable to find a job and since my due date was nearing we decided that I was going to move and he'll follow as soon as he gets a job.

I suffered from insomnia and anxiety during my pregnancy partly due to two previous miscarriages and being afraid that this one will end badly as well, I pretty much worried all the time. Moving to a new environment, changing my doctor and moving back in with my parents made this pregnancy a pretty difficult one. I slept one to two hours a night and had a nervous feeling in my gut almost 24/7. On top of this I was not happy with my "job" and pretty much knew that I was going to give it up once the baby arrives.

That day I had talked to my supervisor and pretty much pored my heart out to her telling her the difficulty I've been having with this job and that I thought it was not the right match for me. Of course she understood but I was just emotionally drained after that day that I couldn't wait to go home and just unplug on my parents porch.

After sitting there in silence for a while I complained to my mom about my swollen feet and how it was the first day I felt
 they were swollen and how being at five weeks before the due date it was the first time I felt heavy. I also mentioned that I think I peed myself a little a few times that day and how I thought pregnancy was just strange and a bit grows. She said that I should go check if the "pee" smells like pee and if it had color. I went upstairs and when I came back I nonchalantly said that no, there was no smell and that I think I did it again. She said I had to call my doc and that it was most likely not pee. Sure enough, it was not pee and fifteen minutes later we were in my moms honda on the way to the hospital.

It's strange how we remember many details right before the hospital and right after the baby is born but somehow the blurry part to me is the thirty six hours in-between. I was placed on pitocin right away and given an IV. My water broke shortly after that but labor progressed slowly. I consider myself a person with a high pain tolerance but I have no tolerance for hunger, that was what made me weak and tired. I called my husband to let him know that he should leave New York as soon as possible because I was not sure how long this was going to take and wanted him to be there just to hold my hand. He was in Burlington three and a half hours later ( it usually takes five and a half hours) Countless hours later, lots of position changes, ice chips and nurses changing shifts I was becoming weaker. The pitocin was not working properly so they had to turn it off and give me 45 minutes to rest before they try it again. Once they started it up again it seemed to be working and it started kicking my butt. All I remember is that it was late and I was tired and hungry, the nurse had checked my progress and after more than twenty hours I was only 5 cm dilated. I decided that it was time to surrender and take the epidural because the babies heartbeat was becoming irregular and the docs were not happy with the stress the baby was feeling.

I remember getting the epidural and fifteen minutes later all the pain was gone, so strange and unnatural, all of it was just gone. I slept for a while which seemed to help a lot, the nurse woke me up to check me and she proudly said that I was at 10 cm and ready to push. A swarm of doctors, students, NICU docs flooded the room as I pushed as best as I could. No pain, no pressure, all I had is the monitor to look at, that's how I knew when to push. After forty five minutes of pushing the doc raised his head and said " if he doesn't come soon, I'm going to have to use the forceps" his heartbeat was irregular and he didn't like it. I gathered all my strength and pushed hard. I felt like my head was going to pop off but that's ok because the next push he was here, our little lion man. Screaming his lungs out, the doc was happy to pronounce that he looked healthy and his lungs sounded great.

In the early hours of September 24th 2009, Hamza was born. He was so tiny, 5 lb 6 oz 19" long. I stared at his chalk white face and was in awe of this tiny human being that I brought into this world. He was everything. We spent the next five days at the hospital due to his blood sugar levels being low and even had him stay in the NICU for one night. I struggled to get him to nurse in the hospital but I kept being persistent and after a week or so he was doing much better even at his tiny size.

Hamza is a joy to be around, he brightens every room he walks into, he is the light in our home and he is the best of both of us. My birth story is not very pretty or even happy in parts but it's real and it brought our little lion man to us. His name Hamza means strong like a lion!


Head clearing

On some days a hike is a cure. We hiked up Mt Philo on Saturday, it was windy and moody but strangely freeing. Hamza climbed alone ahead of all of us, he never complained and felt the energy going. Sometimes we work long days, our evenings look identical and we long for the weekend. I find that weekends sometimes fly by and I am left longing for one more day. This was not one of those weekends mainly because of this head clearing hike.


Our life lately

I feel a seasonal switch happening around me, its an organic natural change. The leaves on the very top of the maple trees are turning red and my evening runs go well into the sunset. Our youngest child is now in preschool and adjusting to a new environment, his new home full of nurturing and learning. Our mornings are yet to find a rhythm again, somewhat chaotic, we seem to be settling into the new routine. I have a hard time getting up in the morning, always have, always will. Once I'm up, I'm ok but getting there is hard work and the later the sun decides to come up the harder it gets. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned that I've signed up to run a Marathon in October and the training is becoming harder due to the days being shorter already and getting up at 5:30 am means running in complete darkness. That freaks me out, I run short runs so I don't have to run in the dark. Fall is the best season for running and I plan to use this time to enjoy some trails before the snow covers them up for the winter.

Also it feels like a good time for shifts and I may be ready to make a few, I want to set some goals, resolutions if you wish. I'm not one to make new years resolutions (who keeps them anyways) but when I feel the urge for a shift its mostly a shift I've needed for a while. Creativity, Simplicity in Living and Nurture is what I wish to have more of in my life. Not in this order and not that I don't have it already but I am seeking to make changes that will introduce more opportunities to invite these energies into my life and fuel me in a positive way. So cheers to the changing season and changes following the red leafs on the maple trees.  Oh how I love the colors and smells of Fall.

Here are some random pics snapped in the last few weeks! Have a great September...

Vintage carousel, Faris was not sure about it.

Ticandaroga at Shelburne Museum 

little helpers

"He enjoys to lay on the floor and play, doesn't he" said his teacher new teacher after the second day.

great a building and handling a hammer, so proud of him

laundry, foot and trains

slowly making some changes in their bedroom

jumping, always jumping

first day of school


Berlin you've been great

I am not the kind of person to do a city guide parse . Although I like to travel and promote travel with kids, I don't think that I am focused on places, like street names and building names as much as emotional experiences while visiting new place, therefor I forget to write down the name of a place or the part of town where the best pastries are or other foods and drinks. So you'll have to excuse me for not providing accurate names of places or locations you'll have to take my word for it and find out for yourself! Some are listed but most are just pretty pictures :)

Our trip was wonderful and very relaxing. Because we managed to stay for almost three weeks this turned out to be a good way to equally see places and spend quality time with my in laws who we stayed with the whole time while in Berlin. In our culture it's customary to stay with friends and family if they happen to live where you're traveling to. This works out great because as you may know lodging is quite expensive no matter where you go. Luckily or unluckily due to the conflict in the Balkans in the 90's many people immigrated all over the world so we happen to have friends everywhere, including Berlin where my in laws currently live.

If you are looking for a place with great history and amazing culture this is the right place to be. It is also a very green City, almost a fifth of the City is covered with trees. There are almost 2500 public parks and gardens in the City which is great when traveling with kids.
Most of our days were spent at the playgrounds and parks in the morning, then we would go back to the apartment and have lunch. The kids would be wiped out by then and most of the time naps followed lunch for both of them. Hamza doesn't nap any more but this trip was so active that he almost voluntarily took naps. While they napped we would sneak out and do some sight seeing or go meet up with our cousins who also live in Berlin.

I also enjoyed running in Berlin and seeing the City from that perspective, it was quite different and I would recommend to be active when traveling in part because I ate my weight in pretzels, döner kebabs and falafel while there but also to see it from the perspective of a local. Berlin has a large Turkish and Arabic population, if you like middle eastern food thats where you'll find the best shawarmas, lentil soups and haloumi cheese sandwiches.

One of our favorite places was the Children's Museum, we visited twice while there. The kids enjoyed   exploring and taking part in interactive games such as a make shift construction site equipped with a  crane and safety gear, I think Hamza forgot for a moment that we existed we had to drag him out.

We did one trip to Lego Land which was crowded and below ground ( lower levels, no widows) so I didn't care for it much myself, however the kids loved it and thought it was just awesome.

 Since traveling with little kids can also mean finding entertainment and doing things that are interesting to them we've made sure to sneak in some alone time and snapped some pictures along the way. We had some great coffee at The Barn ( super trendy, too cool for us, everyone has a beard and no one smiles unless something is very very funny), we saw some great pieces of art at the Ehemalig Jüdische Mädchenschule and visited the famous Mauerpark Flea Market.  A few days were so hot that we decided to join many others at the neighborhood public pool. The pools are clean and there is enough green space to make you feel like it's a real beach or a large park. Some even have large playgrounds as well as bouncy castles if the kids are taking a break from swimming. A great way to spend the a hot day in Berlin indeed.
I really can't say enough about this city, it has great architecture, amazing shopping and plenty of entertainment for kids and adults. It's place we'll visit as much as we can in the years to come.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin!

* Although my husband and I both speak German there is no need to be shy if you don't speak it, most people speak English pretty well. I think this is the case in most European countries especially big touristy centers.

* You'll have to pardon some of the blurrier images, all pictures are taken with my trust iPhone (one day I'll own a camera, until then this will have to cut it)!