A Letter To My Younger Self About Finding My Identity Between Two Cultures

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Dear younger me,
       
    Sometimes you struggle with finding your identity and where you belong. The thing you have to understand is that no one can define you…not guest that comes to visit,a teacher or even your own family members. Sometimes they will make you try to choose sides.The truth is  sometimes you will prefer one side over the other. Sometimes you will prefer both and sometimes neither. But even if you chose one side, you still won’t be enough for them . You’ll understand the language fluently  but they will still laugh at how you talk. They will still talk about you or your parents thinking that you don’t understand. They will say hurtful things like how your parents are only together for a green card. You’ll know its not true.Your looks will never be enough. They say you don’t look like you belong.You will reply ,”it is because I am both”. They will look at you like you just said something stupid. They won’t get your morals. You will be too conservative for some or either too,”fast” for others.
     Most people won’t get it,not even your best friends. When you begin to understand that you define your own identity then you’ll experience true freedom.  You will be proud of who you are.You will also begin to understand yourself. You’ll dress the way you want, speak the way you want , you will be able to eat the way you want, practice religion  and values the way you want. One day you will find your, “tribe” and they’ll be from all over the world and have different cultures and experiences but they will get it. One day you will have your own multicultural family and you will know better. You will share the best of their worlds with them. You will not bully them into choosing one way or another. You will try your best to nurture them and to help them see the world through different perspectives.Hopefully, they will see the beauty of being multicultural. When the time comes that someone tells them they aren’t a “true” this or ,”enough” that then you will remind them that they are in control of their own identity. 
                                                                                            Love,
                                                                                            Your Older Self
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A Punjabi Boy and A Carolina Girl; How My Parents Met in 1986

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One of the things that have always amazed me is how God unites people. Particularly, when people meet their soulmates that are from different cultures. There is no doubt that some people are just destined to be together. What are the odds of someone from a busy city in Northern India falling in love with a girl from a small town in South Carolina, United States? Doesn’t sound common, huh? But that’s the story of my parents.

They came from totally different lives. My father grew up in a busy city in the region of Punjab, India. He spoke Punjabi and Hindi and was very street smart. His family were pretty religious with Hindu and Sikh influences. My mother grew up on a farm in Loris,South Carolina in the United States. She spoke English and was a very book smart shy girl. Her family were Christians.

My father had recently immigrated to the United States and started working with a friend in a clothing store in Loris, South Carolina.He was pretty lonely. Being in a place that’s totally different with culture and language was not always easy. My mom had just started out her teaching career in Loris Middle School. She was ready to settle down. My mother asked  her hairdresser if she knew of any nice guys who she could get to know. My father went to the same hairdresser and asked a similar question. He was looking for a nice serious girl.She immediately thought of my mom.

They first crossed paths on October 5,1986.The hairdresser set them up on a date to have dinner together at her house. The first thing my mom noticed about my dad is that he had the pinkest lips and was so handsome. The first thing my father noticed was that she had a beautiful smile. He liked how she was a modest nice girl. The continued to see each other and started hanging out almost daily together. Their favorite things to do were shop and watch movies together. They also liked listening to music together. My mom told me that my father learned more English through listening to a lot of Madonna’s songs especially her song, ” Crazy For You”. My mom also got several Indian food cookbooks. She learned how to make chapatti and several other Indian dishes. She laughs about the time she set off the smoke alarm trying to make Indian food in my dad’s apartment.

When my father met my mom’s family for the first time he was very nervous. Their first meeting was pretty simple and quiet. No one really knew what to say that day. It ended up being a pleasant meeting. My grandparents thought my father seemed like a nice guy. My father also got a good impression of his future in laws. He was so nervous though. My parents both laughed about how my dad was so nervous that he accidentally tried to go out of the window instead of the door when he was leaving.

They decided to marry in at wedding chapel in Dillon, South Carolina. She remembers that it snowed that day. Her hair dresser was late so she was very nervous but it turned out well. My father’s parents didn’t get to attend the wedding because they were in India.My mom took her first on an airplane to India to meet them soon after. She was so nervous. She remembers that her first experience of India seemed like a dream. She was so nervous meeting my grandma and grandpa for the first time. She remembers my grandpa asked her funny questions about living in the United States.  Overall, she had a good first experience meeting them.

On October 7,1988 they had their first son and on March 14,1990 they had their second child. They raised them both to be bilingual with appreciation for both cultures. Their son grew up to marry a beautiful Indian girl from Punjab and her daughter now has a multicultural family of her own.  They ended up opening two businesses together in South Carolina. They have now been married thirty one years and are grandparents.

My mom advises anyone who enters a multicultural relationship to be patient with one another. Both of you will be learning new ways and habits. Don’t think that your way is the only way. As stereotypical as it sounds, open communication and active listening is the key to a success. She also wants to add that when you are in an interfaith marriage to find the commonilaties between your two religons. Emphasize those things in everything. You will find that there are more common values than differences. Universally the feeling of love is all the same.

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My Experience With Breastfeeding While Pregnant 

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I am a strong believer in extended breastfeeding. Nursing for two years was the goal for both of my children. With my first son, I found out I was pregnant again after his second birthday and weaned him right away. People were scaring me into believing it would lead to pregnancy complications. My gynecologist at the time even recommended I wean him by 20 weeks.

With my current pregnancy, I am a little more knowledgeable on this subject. I know that it’s not harmful to breastfeed while pregnant if you aren’t high risk .Two different OBGYN practices ( with a mix of midwives and doctors) confirmed my sources on this subject. My second born was only 11 months when I found out.  I’ve decided to keep nursing a while longer. I was considering tandem nursing but I don’t think it’s for me.

These are my honest experiences so far…

  1. It’s taken me a while remove all the brainwashing associated with breastfeeding during pregnancy out of my head. Even with all the evidence, I get so nervous during my prenatal checkups.
  2. My milk supply decreased right away. Before I found out I was pregnant, I knew there was some kind of change to my milk supply. My son suddenly started going on and off the breast and looking confused. I thought it was teething at the time. It made a lot of sense once I found out.
  3. My first trimester was rough. I am lucky to not have experienced strong morning sickness with any of my pregnancies. That being said, the level of hunger and fatigue I experienced during my first trimester was a lot harder this time around.     I also blame a lot of this on not taking care of myself properly.
  4. I have started getting some nursing aversions. I don’t know how many times I wake up at night and say, ” I am going to wean him tomorrow”. It has now become a joke between me and my husband.My nursing aversions happen only at night. I notice that they are a lot worse on days that I am experiencing insomnia or extremely exhausted. There are some moments that nursing makes me cringe. I have started focusing more on trying to relax and distract myself when I feel like this.
  5. Night time comfort nursing has seemed to increase. I honestly can’t tell if this is due to teething or pregnancy.
  6. I am not experiencing as much pain as I thought I would.  I have always heard that nursing while pregnant is painful but it hasn’t been that terrible for me.

So why am I still nursing? I am going with my gut. It just feels like the right thing to do right now. Weaning is a very emotional process. 

I really like these articles on Kellymom.com about this subject

https://kellymom.com/category/pregnancy/bf-preg/

How I am Preparing for Traveling with Two Kids While Pregnant

For the kids

  1. Stack-able Snack Containers (I bought these )sippy cup, straws
  2. Entertainment ( Ipad, headphones, stickers, Melissa and Doug Tape book, small toys, Melissa and Doug Water Wow, Markers etc.)
  3. Lightweight Double Stroller ( I am using this one . It is under 20 pounds & recommended the most for travel.)
  4. Baby Carrier
  5.  Epipen & benodryl ( for nut allergy)
  6. Their multivitamins and elderberry gummies
  7. Vitamin C lollipops ( These help so much with take off, landing and nausea )

For me

  1. Compression socks ( for circulation)
  2. Prenatal Vitamins ( I take these because they are one a day, include probiotics and dha too)
  3. Magnesium ( I was using this one but I am trying out this one now.)
  4. Electrolyte tablets ( They are a must have for me because I am pregnant and breastfeeding. )

For both of us

  1. Essential oils rollers ( I love Plant Therapy and Eden’s Garden brand. We use them for immune support and relaxation).
  2. Disinfectant Wipes
  3. Hand Sanitizer
  4. A lot of healthy snacks
  5. Change of clothes

Other than the obvious stuff, this is pretty much it! Please share any tips you might have!

15 Balcony/Patio Activities That Gives Parents A Small Break

 

 

15 Balcony/Patio Activities That Gives Parents A Small Break

These activities always seem to mesmerize my kids. It’s nice because while they are having fun playing and I can get a chance to take a break from all my demands.

1) Spray bottle

2) Playing With Cleaning Supplies (broom, sponges, dustpan etc)

3) Bucket of foamy water with bowls and measuring cups

4) Sensory Bins

5) Sand Table or bucket of sand

7) Window Markers

8) Slime

9) Taking Pictures 

10) Baking soda and vinegar volcano 

11) Cutting With Safety Scissors 

12) Washing toy cars or animals 

13) Bubbles

14) Chalk

15) Sticking foam or reusable stickers on the window

 

 

 

How my Grandparents Met-India, 1955

 

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I was so excited to interview my grandmother about her love story. She really thought that no one would find their story interested because it so ,” old fashioned” according to her. On the contrary, it is probably one of the most interesting stories . Watching my grandmother’s happiness as she re-lived these moments was such a joy. This was emotional for us because we lost my grandpa ( baba ji) to dementia last year. I regret not asking him his perspective when I had the chance.

My grandparents didn’t actually see each other until their wedding day. They had an arranged marriage. Their families arranged their marriage from a young age but they did not get married until my grandmother was 20 and my grandfather was 24. I want to emphasis that this was NOT a forced marriage. Many people have the false understanding that arranged marriages and forced marriages are the same thing but they aren’t.  Although she didn’t see him, she had an idea of what he looked like because her aunt from Calcutta saw him at the temple and told her all about him. She told my grandmother not to worry because he was very handsome. She mentioned to her that he had a very nice beard and pretty eyes. My grandmother saw what he looked like for the first time when she peeked out of the window when he came inside for the ceremony. She said she got a good look at him because he was looking at the door.

They were married in the Punjabi village of Gundara in February during Holi ,a Hindu holiday. It was Puranmasi, so there was a full moon on that day. The actual ceremony took a total of three days.  They did not have a big marriage ceremony. It was actually quiet simple compared to the more extravagant Indian weddings nowadays. Back in those days, men and women did not mix in social settings. Women observed purdah to  stay out of the sight of men. Women only attended certain parts of the wedding ceremony that were for women only like the mehndi ( henna) celebration.

On her way home from the ceremony, she fell down a few times. She said my grandfather would catch her and tell her to be careful. That was basically their first interactions.She said that there were so many kids in his village. When they saw that a bride was coming, they  came and pinched her feet. It annoyed her so she was relieved when they finally reached her new home in the village. She was a city girl and it took her a long time to get use to village life.

She said back then it was the tradition that the bride did not work for a certain number of days after she was married. Her mother in law made her all kind of food but she was too shy to eat it. She remembers that they made her milk with amla for strength because they were worried that she did not eat enough. She said she eventually  got use it and started to like living there. She was happier when they moved to Ludhiana, Punjab later on though. She worked as a homemaker and he worked as a government contracted tailor.

They had four children together and were married a total of 62 years. In my opinion, their marriage was the definition of love. Some people might find this unusual since they didn’t meet until after their wedding. It just proves that you really can’t put a limit to how you fall in love with someone.  Their loyalty towards one  another is very different from anything you’ll find today.

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My First Year as a Mom of Two

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Recently, my youngest had his first birthday. I can’t believe how fast the year has passed. Honestly, I had so much anxiety when I found out that I was going to be a mom of two. I was worried about how I would handle everything, if I would be able to be a good mom, and if my oldest son would feel rejected. I’m happy to say that things have turned out beautifully. Sure, there was struggles, especially at first, transitioning from one to two children is probably the hardest. But, things fell into place.  I’m confident to say now that I can handle it. This doesn’t mean that there are days that I don’t feel like I am going insane though.

  1. Becoming a mom of two has given me both patience with both children.

As a mom of two, I know that the sleepless nights of cluster feeding, teething, the diaper blow outs, screaming in the car seat, and the toddler tantrums are just a phase. I’m not denying that they are hard.I’m not denying that I don’t feel frustrated too. I am human but I’m more patient. I am more kind. I take things a lot easier. This has also taught me to be the same with my oldest son.

  2. My oldest son has become very empathetic and caring.

When we first brought my second born son home my first born son ignored him. He even went through a small phase of aggression. I honestly felt so sad for my first born. He was use to being around just me and now he had to share his attention. I would cry over this because I thought he was lonely and sad. I thought that it would somehow mess him up psychologically. Honestly, I regret dwelling over this. I think I made a bigger deal out of the situation than what it was. I feel like it took a lot of joy out of me fully experiencing my newborn. In reality, sibling relationships need time. We got through it together. Thankfully, things have fallen into place and they are inseparable. Becoming a big brother makes him so much more thoughtful and caring. He always thinks of his little brother. He shares his food with him, he sings to him when he is crying, and kisses him when he falls down. He helps him drink water from his sippy cup. He is so protective. I love watching this.They always miss each other when they are separated. 

3.  I learned that I can honestly love more than one child equally. 

I made myself feel so guilty over this. At one time, I thought I wasn’t showing as much love to my second born as I did when my first born was a baby. In reality, there may be a difference between how you will see the first and the second child but it’s because your experiences will be different. It doesn’t mean that you will love one more than the other. As a mom, our love can only grow bigger.

Do I get really tired and stressed? Yes!

Do I get frustrated? Yes!

Again, it’s okay and I am human. I have become a better mom. I have become a more confident mom. I’ve handled this a lot better than I thought. I always try to remember to take care of myself. I also accept help with the children whenever I get the chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Improved the Condition of My Skin

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The condition of my skin started to improve a lot the year before I started college. I strongly believe that it has to do with the fact that I started wearing less makeup and started to transition to more natural products and home remedies. Each year I feel like I keep getting more knowledgeable and I have started to love the way my skin is improving. Honestly, it’s hard to always keep up with this as a mom. I have been trying to make this routine a priority. I take advantage of my husband’s day off to do the mask.

This website has been great help for me ever since I have been trying to have a more non-toxic skincare routine https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

 

  1. Turmeric mask! My grandmother recommended turmeric mask to me. Honestly, at first I didn’t think it would help me that much but it helped tremendously. My acne scars became less visible. The key is being consistent. You have to keep up with this to see the results. What I used was about 1/2-1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon besan (chickpea flour or gram flour), and enough honey to make this into a paste. You can play around with the quantity. I didn’t use any exact measurement. Just make sure it’s not too runny. Also, wear an old t-shirt when you apply this mask because turmeric will stain. There are so many different turmeric mask recipes online too. You can see what works best for you. I’ve now become obsessed with everything turmeric.
  2. Natural soap bars- I use separate soap bars for my face with all natural ingredients instead of the more popular face washes. I’ve tried everything from Shea Moisture to homemade soaps from the farmer’s market. I’ve seen my skin condition improve a lot with these. I try to wash my face twice a day .
  3. Toner with pure witch hazel or  rose water toner– I always try to use toner on my skin twice a day after washing my face. I love the way it makes my skin feel.
  4. DIY Scrub– I make a homemade scrub with sugar, green tea, alove vera and tea tree oil.  I use the recipe from http://sweetsimpleliving.com/index.php/2015/09/01/aloe-green-tea-face-scrub/.  I try to use this at least once a week to exfoliate my skin. I personally like it better than the store bought scrubs. I can really feel the dead skin coming off. There are so many other types of homemade scrubs out there. I also like the ones where coffee is used.
  5. Moroccan Clay Mask- I discovered Rhassoul Clay, also known as Moroccan clay, while I was in Morocco. I use the NOW red Moroccan clay powder brand about once a week ( when I am not using the turmeric mask). It makes my skin look and feel amazing.
  6. Natural makeup- I’ve started trying to buy non-toxic makeup only. This has been challenging but luckily more mainstream brands are starting to become more,”natural minded. This is where https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ really helps. Personally, I prefer Claudia Nour cosmetics from https://claudianour.com/.  She makes halal, non-toxic, and ethical cosmetics. I have been so happy with everything that I ordered from her. I messaged her on Instagram and she spent a long time helping me find the right shades for me.She is such a sweet and nice person to talk to as well.
  7. Moisturizer- I personally haven’t found a moisturizer that I am crazy about. I am using an the Andalou brand facial lotion that I found at Marshalls. Its pretty decent.

My routine is basically this..

  • wash face twice daily
  • tone twice daily after washing
  • moisturize after toning twice a day
  • use mask once a week
  • exfoliate once a week
  • use natural makeup
  • always make sure to remove all makeup

Common Words Between Hindi and Arabic

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I’ve always been fascinated by  languages. I enjoy learning them and hearing them. As a child, I use to check out all kind of foreign language books from the library. If I went shopping with my mom, I would go straight to the language section of the bookstore. I built a really nice collection from Portuguese, Greek to French. A year before I started college, I became so fascinated with Arabic. I would spend all my time listening to Arabic music and  ,”googling” Arabic books or language resources online.

When I took my first Arabic course in college, I was fascinated with how many words are so similar to Hindi and Punjabi ( the languages that my grandmother taught me). I’ve made a small list I am sure there are more. Unfortunately, for the Hindi and Punjabi I had to type in transliteration because I don’t know how to read or write in either language. That will be my next mission, Insha’Allah. If you are interested in languages like me, take a look! You might find this fun.

Punjabi? Ki Haal Chaal Hai?/ Arabic –  كيف حالك (Kayfa Haluka/i) = How are you? 

Hindi- Kursi /Arabic- كرسي ( koorsi)= Chair

Hindi- Keera/ Arabic- خيار (kheer)=Cucumber 

Hindi-Waqt/Arabic- وقت ( waqt)=Time 

Hindi-Daroori/Arabic-ضروري ( Daroori)= Important/Necessary 

Hindi- Jayb/Arabic- جيب (Jayb)= Pocket

Hindi-Shukriya/Arabic– شكرا (Shukran) Thank you

Hindi- Jawaab/ Arabic جواب ( Jawaab) Answer

Hindi-Lekin/Arabic لكن ( Lekin) But

Hindi –Salwaar/Arabic سروال ( Sarwaal) Pants

Hindi-Shakal/ Arabic شكل (Shakal) Shape

Hindi- Kas/Arabic خاص (Khas) Special

Hindi- Dunya/ Arabic دنيا ( Dunya) World 

Hindi- Saboon/ Arabic صابون ( Saboon) Soap ( This is also similar in Spanish, French and Italian) 

As you can see, there are so many similarities. There is even a lot more that could be added to this list. It’s so interesting to see the history behind their similarities as well.  What interesting finds have you discovered while learning languages? As a language lover, I would love to know!

 

 

 

 

 


	

My Tips on Learning Languages as a Busy Parent

 

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Learning languages is a huge interest of mine. It’s something that I have always enjoyed doing for fun and personal enrichment. After becoming a parent, I’ve felt that it’s nearly impossible to find the time to do things for myself that I enjoy. I believe many other parents can relate to my situation, whether you work outside of the house, or stay with your children full time.  Additionally ,many of us have been made to believe that our  child’s interest is more important than ours. When we make our interest a priority we will actually be happier and our positive energy and enthusiasm will reflect onto our children.  I’d like to share some of the tips that have helped me continue my language studies as a stay at home mom of two. I hope that it can influence other parents in some way or another.

  • Don’t believe that you have to be younger or enrolled in school to take on a new language. It’s never too late to learn a language. All you need is the interest and dedication. My grandfather was always carrying around Urdu and English books. He managed to keep perfecting his English skills in his 60s and older.
  • Break out of the fear of sounding dumb – The fear of sounding or looking dumb keeps people from doing so many things that they really want to enjoy. We aren’t supposed to sound like a native speaker.  If people laugh at how you say things then let it go.
  • Take small consistent steps – don’t overwhelm yourself. 5 minutes a day is better than burning yourself out to the point where you give up.
  • Choose a language that you studied in the past or one that is a part of your family – Sometimes we really think we forgot a language but we haven’t. You’ll be surprised how fast it comes back to you. If you haven’t studied languages before then try to study one that your family or close friends speak. That way you can have exposure to the language and have someone to ask for tips.
  • Take advantage of Duolingo, Skype,Youtube, Podcast, Facebook language groups etc- There are so many good resources out there now from people giving language lessons on Youtube or apps that help you study words. I personally love the Duolingo app and Facebook support groups.
  • If you aren’t able to travel then put yourself in a social setting where that language is used like a fair or restaurant – International festivals and international restaurants are great ways to immerse yourself locally. You can even push yourself to speak it to native speakers. Most of the time they will really appreciate it. This is always a good learning experience for kids too!
  • Change language settings on Netflix or find a movie or show in another language – the rare time when we get to watch Netflix, try changing it to another language and adding subtitles or watching it in another language with subtitles. I personally fell in love with the drama, “ The Time in Between” on Netflix. It’s a Spanish drama. I learned so many words from it and got use to hearing a native speak it.
  • Listen to music in the language you’re learning- I love Arabic and Tamazight songs. I can find the translation for most Arabic songs. I always ask my husband what certain words mean with Tamazight songs though. Like movies or dramas, it gets my ears use to hearing the language.
  • Learn with or from your child– There are so many language opportunities available for kids that parents can go to like story times. We have Spanish story time here and my son watches some shows that include Spanish. Playing games with him using the languages help too.
  • Make a video of yourself speaking that language and watch it many times– This I what I did for Arabic. I was so uncomfortable seeing myself in the recording but it pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. I got to hear what I sounded like speaking it and ask others for help.
  • Find affordable books online or library (children’s books help too)- there are so many great language books on Amazon. Even the libraries have awesome language books too. If you don’t find some then you can search the catalogues to put some on hold. I’ve found a lot of good Spanish ones here.
  • Label everything! – This is the old fashioned way but it works. (If you have a toddler then this might be hard because they love pulling them off ).
  • Get your family involved – I always ask my husband to quiz me with flash cards in Spanish. It’s motivated him to learn too.
  • Ask native speakers and other language lovers for tips– Everyone has unique experiences and it’s great to learn from one another.