That Awkward Moment

cartoon-chasing_300In the spirit of social situations (how’s that for alliteration?), let’s address those awkward encounters that we find all too frequently — and what we can do about them.

And by “we” I mean that these are true stories of my own, or friends who shall remain nameless.


Over Email

Awkward Situation: You receive an email from an acquaintance explaining that you are indeed invited to a mutual friend’s baby shower this weekend, despite failing to receive a timely invitation due to a “miscommunication.”  But won’t you please still come?


Solution: Without a trace of commitment, blithely reply that she needn’t apologize since you have plans that day anyway, but should the opportunity arise you may make an appearance.  Still go if you can, because after all, your friend shouldn’t suffer because of this acquaintance’s forgetfulness.


In the Office

Awkward situation: You and only one other person are walking down the hallway toward each other.  He kindly says hello and initiates a conversation as he walks toward you.  As you smile broadly in response and open your mouth to reply, you find there are not just two of you in the hallway.  This person is speaking to the nice man behind you.


Solution: Pretend that smile was just the daily one you give to everyone.  Also, always carry a mug so your hands are occupied, and you can use it as a decoy to look purposeful – hmm, is my cup empty?  Let me spend three seconds looking inside.


At an Event

Awkward Situation: You are at a social event, and here comes that woman who clearly knows exactly who you are and is thrilled to greet you – but if your life depended on it you could not recall her name.


Solution: Grab your date/husband/person-standing-nearest-you and cheerfully ask Mystery Woman if she has met the person whose name you actually know.  That will automatically prompt her to introduce herself, providing infinite relief to you as you say in your head, “YES!  I knew it was REBECCA.”  Then try to use her name at the beginning/end of a sentence at least twice before you move on to get something to drink.


On the Phone

Awkward Situation: A friend innocently asks “What are you doing on Saturday?”  They could be inviting you to the best party of the year, or asking you to help them move apartments for six hours.  You simply can’t tell by this open-ended question.

Solution: Since this person thinks it’s OK to back you into a social corner, you are free to be direct.  Briefly say, “I’ll have to check – what did you have in mind?”  Otherwise, if you should say, “Nothing, I’m free,” your friend could say, “Perfect!  I need someone to help me sort through my Tupperware,” and you’re trapped.

This situation is awkward enough that it merits an extra tip: when inviting people to do something, just straight-out ask them.  For instance, “Hey, I’m going rock-climbing this weekend, would you like to join me?” is so much more inviting than, “You free this weekend?” which seems to imply that your invitee has no life.


To have your most pressing etiquette questions addressed, please write to   Also, if you think it’s funny to write to me as “Dear Maioush,” you already have an etiquette issue we need to address.

New Year’s Day 4 Years ago… Remembering Baba.

BabaWhen my father passed away on New Year’s Day of 2010, while death had previously impacted my life, losing him was unlike any emotional pain I’d ever experienced. His death literally sucked the oxygen out of my body. It felt hard to breathe. It suddenly felt like a large chunk of who I was; my DNA, my backbone, the person who had been with me since the very first day of my human experience was no longer tangible. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and hear his voice, I couldn’t wrap my arms around him and envelop him in a hug, I couldn’t tell him how much I simply adored being in his presence. I was simply out of time. I’d never felt the sting of death in this way- or comprehended the type of finality it entailed.

The truth is none of us have enough time. There’s never enough time to be with those you love. And even after a year of his battle with cancer, and the idea that I could somehow make peace with the fact that we were going to lose my father, whether he died at 55 or at 95 – I think it would always feel like there was never enough time to spend with him. I’d always want more; one last kiss, one last chance to say I loved him, one last chance to see a twinkle in his eye. Ultimately losing him at 55 has changed the trajectory of all of our lives. I think death in a family does that– it just changes everything.

The loss of my dad has forced me to re-evaluate the limits I put on myself and the relationships I hold dear. It’s brought my tolerance for other people’s bad energy to zero, and so if I don’t feel like being in a situation where I know I’ll be uncomfortable, where I would have sucked it up in the past, now I just won’t do it. It’s also made me acutely aware of how utterly short our time is here, and that once the switch on our life is turned off, that’s it, we’re done.

I want to say I believe in the afterlife– and I am forever looking for pennies, butterflies, some sign from my dad– but sadly I’ve gotten nothing- and I guess right now, at this moment in time- I believe this is it. The right here and now- it’s all we have and all we can truly enjoy. And oddly enough that was the attitude my dad had – one I never could quite grasp. He never seemed to truly allow any situation to get him mired in sadness, pity or doubt. He just moved along, whistling, and being this incredibly optimistic force. I miss him like crazy – I want to talk to him every day, I want to hear someone call me “Maio”, I want to hug his tiny, frail body, I want to see his smile.

I want to wrap my arms around him and tell him how grateful I am for all the times I never told him how much I appreciated him- like the time he used to drive with me every day when I started a new job and I had to drive the freeway for the first time, him and mama used to ride with me every day at 6AM, and drive the car back home to come and pick me up at the end of the day to let me drive home, all this just to make sure that I’m safe while driving on the freeway. I miss my daddy, my hero, the first man I ever loved. But I can’t spend every day feeling spiteful, angry at the universe, angry that he was taken, angry that he’s not here to share in the joys of my kids. I can’t walk around in a haze of sorrow and self pity because that would be antithetical to the way he lived his life.

So to my dad, happy New Year wherever you are, if indeed you are anywhere. If a soul does live on in some form or energy I want to believe you are soaring, like a star burst, just all light and love. And Daddy, thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me, especially the gift of understanding the value of time and that I need to be cognizant and appreciative of every day I have on this planet and with those I hold dear.

You will always be in my heart,


Happy 4th Birthday Mira

912441_10153038862310438_1375861888_nMy beautiful sweet blessing, deeply loved and treasured.

I adore you…and love you to pieces!!!  Now, as your mama, there are some things I’d like to tell you…My child, my first born, but let me start with knowing the truth of who you are.  Like fine china, my darling daughter, you are made beautiful by your creator, the God of the universe, the King of all, and the savior of my soul.  He is so good to have given you to me.

You are joy.  You are beauty. You are woven together by God in a perfectly fashioned, unique personality that sprinkles my life with happiness and fun.  I eagerly await getting to know the depth of your inmost being – all of who you are and who you will be.

Today you turned four years old. For months you’ve been talking about your birthday. You’ve been telling everyone everywhere we go that it’s your birthday soon; at school, at the store, in the restaurant, and even at the airport you happily exclaimed to the TSA, “December 24 is my birthday, I’ll be four years old!” He and I both laughed at your exuberance. Your excitement about your big day was pretty charming.

You’ve done a lot of growing up this year. You’re leaving the shell of your toddler years behind and you’re headed straight into kid territory. It’s kind of terrifying and exciting all at once.

As a mom, there’s this small side of me tangled up in emotions about the reality that most of your life lived so far you’ll never remember when you’re my age. And that’s kind of sad when I think about it. All the cuddles we’ve shared and giggles we’ve delighted in, you won’t remember when you’re older. Some of the best moments of my life shared with you, won’t really be a part of your memories.

On the other hand, a few moments when I’ve really blown it, you may not remember those either. Like the time you attacked my makeup and used my brand new RED lip stick all over the 2nd floor, we went to town with it!

I should’ve laughed and grabbed a camera for one unforgettable picture, but instead I was frustrated and ticked-off. It was such a huge mess the red color was on the carper, the bed sheets, all over the wall, your clothes, your hair, the list goes on. Truly, that was not one of my finer moments in parenting: cleaning the rooms while you cried your eyes out. I’ve found comfort in thinking and hoping that maybe you’ll never remember that moment.

But now you’re four, and you’re bound to remember things. After all, I remember a lot of things when I was four: I remember playing outside with my brothers on our little bicycles; it was a huge balcony with high walls that we could barely reach. And it was so much fun.

I remember going to my grandfather’s farm, a huge one, that all I remember is just running to an endless road.

I remember going with my mom to the mall, and how pretty she looked, tall, thin, with amazing hair, and the most amazing smile, and I remember how fascinating it was to look at her choose clothes, everything she picked looked amazing on her. I wish I can as pretty as her in her age.

Which makes me think, Mira, that you’re about to do the same. At four years old, you’re going to remember some of these memories that we’re making right now – you’ll be able to recall details, like what you were wearing when you took a fall, or if I told you the snow was made out of diamonds or if I responded in a way that made you feel loved and cared for.

Of course, there are memories that you and I have shared that are already impacting your world view, and they will continue to do so for the rest of your life, but it is unlikely that you’ll be able to recall the tiny details of those memories. Instead, like small candles, they cast a glow over your view of self and the world.

I hope I’ve been a good steward of your heart, so far, little one. I hope I’ve lit good candles in your life. It’s my prayer. I breathe it out with a sigh every time I see you sleeping soundly in your bed. The remnants of the tiny cherub-baby I held in my arms for the first time when I gave birth to you, me – overcome with love and crying uncontrollably till someone asked me if I was okay. That baby is still there in my arms. I see her in the corners of your mouth, in the tips of your fingers, in the way your arms fold around your face when you sleep.

The other night, when I was pondering all of this: the memories I’m leaving on the hearts of my children. I was absent mindedly bathing you, and thinking about this coming of age that you’re in, I was thinking about how much I hope to do you right. Exactly as I was thinking those thoughts, you leaned over to me, put your hand over my heart and said, “I know. I know.”

I gasped audibly and looked at you like a ghost had just spoken.

Leave it to you to speak to me like a prophet about my own mothering.

Someday, when you’re a mother, you’ll know this to be true: the child is the prophet and the mother is the disciple.

I promise you, it is true.

But you’re not a mother just yet. At four years old, you’re in the cradle of childhood; I hope you enjoy it all. I hope I can help you gather up each carefree lesson of the day, and that you’ll enjoy the innocent happiness of your youth. I hope I will help fill your years with insightful and beautiful memories.

I pray I’m a good steward of your love, of your childhood, of your innocence. I pray this for you; I pray this for myself, on your fourth birthday, sweet Mira girl.

With all the love a heart can hold,


Filled Under: Personal, Thoughts

Song of the day “In My Daughter’s Eyes”

In my daughter’s eyes I am a hero

I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter’s eyes

In my daughter’s eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter’s eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It’s hangin’ on when your heart
has had enough
It’s giving more when you feel like giving up
I’ve seen the light
It’s in my daugter’s eyes

In my daughter’s eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she’ll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I’m gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I’ll be there
In my daughter’s eyes

Filled Under: Thoughts

Planning vs. Living the Moment

SunsetTandemIf departure is the past and arrival is the future, then the road is the present, and there is nothing more spiritually difficult, or spiritually rewarding, than learning to live significantly in the present. – Leon Wieseltier

Live in the moment, they say. Enjoy the present, they say. It makes sense, right? The past has already – well – passed and the future is yet to happen, so now is what’s real. Yet most of us spend the present either engrossed in the past or looking ahead to the future. We tend to pass by what’s really going on at any one moment.

When it comes to travel so many people say if you want it, then do it. But it’s not always that simple. While this may seem like a ‘living in the moment’ and an inspirational kind of outlook, there are also so many other things to consider. If everyone did exactly what they wanted all of the time there would be anarchy everywhere.

Do what you want when you want… or don’t

Living in the moment isn’t doing what you want, when you want. It’s savoring the moments when you are actually living them. It’s enjoying being fully present during a conversation, it’s soaking up the sunset without worrying about tomorrow or next week, it’s stepping outside at dawn and relishing the sound of the birds.

Yes, of course, living in the moment corresponds with spontaneity – going with your gut instinct at any particular moment is probably one of the better ways to make a decision (in my opinion, anyway).

But living in the moment requires us to have hopes and dreams. Not hopes and dreams that we obsess over every minute of every day, but something that keeps us going; something for us to work towards. If we have nothing to work towards then we tend to feel pretty useless.

Take travelling, for example. we could quit our jobs tomorrow and get on the next flight to Timbuktu, or we could do a bit of research, save a bit of money, put all of our belongings in storage, not rush off anywhere, and enjoy the planning process while we’re at it.

The spontaneous option might be more exciting in the short-term (“Hey mama, guess where we are? Timbuktu!”), but which one would give you more piece of mind?

I guess it depends what kind of person you are. Some people have no problem about doing things on impulse; others like to take a more strategic approach. There is no right or wrong way.

Is there such a thing as too much planning?

There is the other end of the scale, though: too much planning. Too much planning makes us start to question ourselves; whether it’s what we really want; whether we should be doing something else instead; whether we can really pull it off.

But, regardless of if we like it or not, we are forced to think about the future at almost every opportunity. What will I do for money? Where will I go next? How will I get from A to B? What will I have for dinner today? It’s impossible to live in the moment every second of every day otherwise we would get nothing done. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to. Sometimes we have to consider other people. There’s a flipside to every coin.

So, when should we live in the moment and when should we plan for the future?

It’s tricky, and it depends on what you want to achieve. Dreams and aspirations are important in order to get us from one stage of our lives to the next, but there’s no point if you are wishing your life away to get there; there’s no point if you aren’t enjoying the journey.

And what if you fail? What if you don’t reach your goals? Well, that’s just one more thing to worry about. If you live in the moment, your world is less likely to crash down around you if your dreams don’t become a reality because they aren’t the only thing that have been making your life worthwhile. Living in the moment allows you to appreciate the finer things in life, if you will, which makes us less reliant on our dreams to make us happy.

Little bits of happiness here and there are much better than holding out for one big burst of happiness – whether it happens or not is a different story.

To finish, here are two quotes:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment – Henry David Thoreau

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams – Eleanor Roosevelt

Which one hits home with you?

If you understood this rambly post or, dare I say, enjoyed it, please feel free to share it! Tweet it, Face Book it, Stumble it – whatever you feel like doing in the heat of the moment ;)

Filled Under: Thoughts

You know you’re a mom when

  1. sb10062916r-001Your perfume is Eau de Baby food.
  2. You know closing a door silently is an art form.
  3. You realize you’re talking about poop in public again.
  4. You realize the kids have been in bed for an hour and you’re still watching cartoons.
  5. Shopping alone feels like vacation.
  6. You reheat your coffee 3 times and still don’t’ get to drink it.
  7. You’ve experienced stroller envy.
  8. You’ve found something you lost in the toilet.
  9. Silence makes you nervous.
  10. Nothing feels better than a long shower. Alone.
  11. You fold laundry during your free time.
  12. You believe door bell ringing at nap time is unforgivable.
  13. You wish every store had a drive through.
  14. You have 100 cheerios and 50 raisins at the bottom on your purse.
  15. The gift doesn’t matter, only the little person behind it.
  16. You wash the same load of laundry at least twice before you remember to empty it.
  17. You consider Goldfish crackers a food group.
  18. You listen to your kids’ favorite tunes even when you’re driving by yourself.
  19. You can cry in a Huggies commercial.
  20. You consider going to the bathroom by yourself the height of luxury.
  21. You know how badly stepping on a piece of Lego can hurt.
  22. You think wrestling alligators would be easier than getting kids in bed on time.
  23. You save lives on a daily basis.
  24. You spend more on carpet cleaning products than make up.
  25. Your husband tells you it isn’t worth buying anything nice until the kids move out to college.
  26. You cry with happiness when one of your children consents to eating broccoli.
  27. You tell yourself pizza has all the food groups.
  28. Some days you just want to quit motherhood.
  29. You have clothes in every size under the sun.
  30. You consider Outback Steakhouse fine dining.
  31. You will never ever be able to sort, process or print all the photos you take.
  32. Your kisses have magical, healing properties.
  33. You have sung the same song a trillion times.
  34. You daydream about a land where women go to the bathroom alone and don’t have to narrate what they’re doing in there.
  35. Some days watching them is like seeing your heart do somersaults in front of your very eyes.
  36. You couldn’t watch the Olympics without wondering if that might be your kids one day.
  37. Cereal is a breakfast, lunch, and dinner kind of food at your house.
  38. You are more excited to introduce your boys to one of your favorite movies than when you watched it the first time yourself.
  39. Having kids has taught you how to love and be loved like nothing else on earth.
  40. Your body is soft in all the right places and perfect for comforting and cuddling.
  41. You are deeply loved.
  42. You love deeper than today and further than tomorrow.

Filled Under: Thoughts

Happy Father’s Day Baba


24248_10150113313155438_5190052_nHi Baba!

It’s father’s day weekend. And this is always a hard occasion for me, but so most of the holidays without you; can you believe it’s been three years?

Three incredibly fast years?

Three incredible growing years?

Three incredible lonely years?

Father’s Day has made me grumpy. A little sad, too. I get super emotional and end up crying and running to smell the shirt that I stole from mama’s closet, and now hidden in mine. It still kind of smells like you, too, which is why I try not to touch it too much. As long as it has your smell, you’ll be that much closer when I need your protection.

It’s funny how when you were alive, I’d call you and it didn’t seem like a big deal, but now that you’re not here, it is a big deal. It’s a reminder that I lost you sooner that I’d like. I know it wasn’t my call to keep you here, but it would be nice if I could give you a hug, or call your phone and hear you pick up.

You know, sometimes I can hear you cough, or say my name in that strong authoritative voice you had. Speaking of which, when they turned off your phone, I recorded the last voice mail message you left me onto my old computer so that I would always have that to listen to when I need that strength.

I know you’re here. In the light and the air around me. In the bird that visited my window that week of my birthday and the week after. In my thoughts and in my heart.  Yet, it isn’t the same. And it makes me sad for all of those who don’t know their father, or like me, don’t have a father to call and celebrate with on birthdays, holidays, and other celebratory events.

It’s amazing how much you pop into my mind, actually. Just a couple of weeks ago, I remember you teaching me how to make coffee when mama was in the states to give birth to Hashem.

My favorite memory though, is from when you and I went to that English teaching school in Alhambra, I thought it was super cool that we were in the same class, we went home, and ended up doing our homework over the weekend together, it’s my favorite and saddest memory at the same time.

When you passed away, I told a friend, that I had lost the only man who would ever love me unconditionally and it’s true. I did. I may have gained strength and an important lesson in life, but I still lost one of the most important love relationships of my life. I don’t mean that as sleezy as some people may think, I just know that not every love lasts forever. The strongest loves are the love we receive from our parents. So while I do carry a piece of you with me, that love I know you had and that protected me and will never be reciprocated.

Sometimes that’s the only love I want, the kind that feels protective and can’t be reciprocated. While I try to give it to myself, it just isn’t the same.

I’m rambling now and I’m crying so much that I can’t quite see the screen anymore, but I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being the best father you could be and thank you for being there even now, at a distance. I know you’re here, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Happy Father’s Day.

I love you,


Filled Under: Thoughts

Happy Father’s Day Samer

Samer & Mira

Dear Samer,

I’d like to say thanks.

Thanks for being a great husband, dad and all around great foot warmer.

I married you nearly 5 years ago for your humor and you BIG heart.

The laughter and the good times have been worth it. And I’d do it all over again.

Thanks for doing the laundry. Thanks for taking out the garbage cans. Thanks for putting kids to bed after an exhausting day for me. Thanks for all the evenings when you took one look at the messed up house and said: “it’s just another crazy day J” thanks for allowing me to chase my own crazy dreams.

When you’re not around I miss all those big and small things you do all the time. (But we both know I miss having someone to warm my feet at night the most of all!)

Especially thanks for going off to work day in and day out, the kids and I appreciate that you bring home the bread and butter and keep on doing it with a smile year after year.

For the past four and half years, I’ve seen you grow and learn and thrive as a father. I’ve seen our kids grow and learn and thrive with you as their father.

You’re their hero. They watch that you do, learn from everything that you do, and want to do everything that you do. You are and will continue to be, a big player in their self-esteem. You’re teaching them to be confident, self- assured, and proud.

The kindness you show to other people rubs off on them. They see you help others and give generously. You’re teaching them compassion and respect, manners and appreciation.

Your humor is a staple in our lives; how quiet out house would be without laughter! They expect tickles with your hugs and whiskers with your kisses. You’re teaching them to smile, to find joy, and to feel happiness.

The father/daughter relationship and father/son relationship are both unique. One is not better or worse, more or less, stronger or weaker than the other. But they are different. You are providing both of them with what they need. You’re teaching them to love and be loved.

Happy Father’s Day!

Your beloved wife,


Filled Under: Personal, Thoughts

Second Chance


Beautiful-Jasmine-Flower-520x390Every person has a dark side.
What defines a person with good character is not a spotless life of constant kindness, smiles and even temperament.
But rather, it’s the yearning to learn from your mistakes, applying it, making amends for them and choosing not to repeat them that defines good character.
These are the people to keep in your life, because they have stared adversity in the face and became a better person because of it.

Filled Under: Thoughts

A parents’s prayer

I pray that I may let my child live her own life, and not the one I wish I had lived. therefore, guard me against burdening her with doing what I failed to do.

help me to see her missteps today in perspective against the long road she must go, and grant me the grace of patience with her slow pace.

give me the wisdom of knowing when to smile at the small mischiefs of her age, and when to give her the haven of firmness against the impulses which she fears and cannot master.

help me to hear the anguish in her heart through the din of angry words, or across the gulf of brooding silence, and having heard, give me the grace to bridge the gap between us with understanding warmth.

I pray that I may raise my voice more in joy at what she is, than vexation at what she has done; so that each day she may grow in sureness of herself.

help me to hold her with a warmth that will give her friendliness towards others; then give me the fortitude to free her to go strongly on her way.

author unknown