me Life and Times of the Fireflies: July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

15 Things I Love About You... A Message to my Daughter on her 15th Birthday




Sometimes it's hard to separate myself and my feelings from my children's birthdays...just as hard as it is to separate my own identity from my role of being a mom. I become nostalgic and sentimental as I recall old memories, and paranoid and anxious as I worry about what the future holds. I  often write from that perspective because one day I want you to look back on it and know what was going on in my heart. But as you are growing older, it's becoming more apparent that you are blossoming and growing into your own person, and it's unfair of me to always tie my own feelings to a day that's essentially about you. So this year I've decided to do things a little differently. This year I want this post to be all about YOU. And celebrate the momentous occasion of turning 15, I made a list of 15 things I love about you <3
 
 
  • I love that you have a hard shell, but a soft heart.
  • I love it when you are happy and the way you sound when you laugh and giggle.

  • I love the way your love your brothers...how you don't mind to let Rocky take the lead; and you have always been like a mother hen to Zee.
 
  • I love that you are turning out to be a lot like me!
 
  • I love that you don't hide your feelings anymore. That you feel safe enough to share them with me.
 
  • I love that you follow your heart and not the crowd.
 
  • I love your personal style!
 
  • I love the way your lip curls up when you smile...and also when you are moody.



  • I love the inner workings of your mind...how you can be old and wise as easily as you can be a typical teen.



  • I love it when you share meaningful songs with me that you know I will love.


  • I love that you value my company and attention more than you value things.


  • I love that you're forgiving and kind and gentle and strong.


  • I love how you interact with young children...how they are naturally drawn to you and how instinctively you nurture.


  • I love it when you climb into my bed...even if it is with earphones in your ears.


  • I love getting lost in a series with you...we should definitely do this more often.
 
I just frikkin love you man! With my entire heart and soul. I love that you're my daughter and I love that I get to be your mom!
 


 
Happy 15th Birthday Saafi!!

 
Love always,

 
MOM

Saturday, 22 July 2017

My Truths - Musings On Turning 38

Forget what my bio says; today I turn 38! A decade ago, I would've been frightened out of my mind at idea of approaching 40...as if it was the beginning of the end... some sign and signal that I was getting old. And yet, here I am, at the cusp of embracing a new decade and I don't feel old at all!  I don't exactly feel young either...more like stuck in limbo, somewhere between the two.

So what does 38 feel like? 38 is like dancing on a tightrope between youth and old age...neither here nor there...but slowly walking away from the one and towards the other. Yet age is so much more than the grey hairs and wrinkles, the age spots and stretch marks. Age is so much more than the failing body we seem to focus on, yet these are symbols and reminders that our vessel is running out of time.

 
A decade ago I was emerging from the labyrinth of self-doubt and self-pity I seemed to be wallowing in for most of my 20's. I had lost my identity to motherhood and marriage and needed to claim it back. I started to write my way out of the fog and haze I was in, and by the time I hit 30 I was a ready to embrace the world with blazing guns with my new found strength and the identity that had been buried for so long. But somewhere along the way I also got a little lost. And now, here I am at 38.
 

Over the past few weeks, I have had many reminders of the old me - timid, na├»ve, warm, nurturing, trusting and always wearing my heart on my sleeve me. In many ways, Life has made me stronger; but in some ways it has also altered me; made me harder, a little cold, bitter and also slightly cynical. Simply put...it has broken my spirit. With every hardship I have learned valuable lessons; but while growing and learning, I have also built a fortress around myself...lost a bit of my essence.
 

I know that youth is sold to us as the ultimate destination, so much so that we are forever chasing that fleeting landscape and it makes us afraid to explore what is on the other side. But age is so much more than a number. Age is a reflection of the journey, how far we've come and how much further we have yet to go. And if the past is a culmination of events that has shaped and moulded me into who I am; then I want to use the days ahead to find my way back to where I started...back to my roots and reclaim my true essence and identity.


I don't know what 38 has in store for me, but whatever it is, I'm not going to fight it. I'm ready to take it on, embrace it, be present through it all, live, learn, grow...and find my way back home <3


 
 
 
Thanks for reading!!
 
 
Peace,
 
 
NAMU :)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Travel Diary - Tiger Kingdom Phuket


There's lots to see and do in Thailand, but most tour guides or websites will tell you that there are 5 "must see" places to visit - The famous Phi Phi Islands tour, exploring Phang Nga Bay, the cultural FantaSea theme park, visiting the Big Buddha, and Elephant trekking. It's not a bad idea to avoid some of these and go in pursuit of the hidden (and less populated) gems of Thailand, because most of the time, these top 5  places are packed with tourists!

 
We opted not to visit Big Buddha because there was a little climbing of a mountain involved and nobody was interested in exerting too much energy while on vacation (well..except me) - plus it was extremely hot. And we knew straight up that we didn't want to do the elephant trekking or watch the famed Fantasea show because the kids had a bit of an issue with animals in captivity and using them for human entertainment, cos apparently, they also did some research ( who would've thought)!!!


I mention this because even after declining to do these two very popular tourist attractions because of the issues of animals, we still found ourselves at Tiger Kingdom! Tiger Kingdom was not something that came up while doing our research on Thailand, and was never on our list of things to do; but we found ourselves here during our first day tour of the island, and two of my kids were very eager to have an up close experience with the tiger cubs.


As is to be expected, the place was packed; so what we did was get ourselves a ticket/number with an estimated time of when it would be our turn, went for lunch to a nearby mall, and came back. By the time we returned, we could go straight in. The younger kids are only allowed to interact with the smaller cubs, while adults get to interact with the bigger cats. You have an option to get professional pics taken while interacting with the tigers, but I passed on this in an attempt to save a couple of bucks and I totally regret it now since I didn't have a proper camera with me and I'm a bit disappointed with how my pictures turned out.


I have always been in awe of these flame coloured big cats so it t was a little surreal being up close to these majestic animals! I only wish that the experience could've lasted a little longer. Everything is so fast paced because the place is so busy and there are long queues of people waiting their turn. There's good direction from staff as to what's allowed and what's not and they are hands on and alert in order to make the experience playful and not frightful - they are wild animals after all!


After my tiger encounter and spending a little time in the compound, I left feeling a little conflicted. It was amazing being able to see these animals up close, but it also felt so wrong seeing them in an enclosed environment when they were designed to be free. I also feel that of we were going to compromise on the whole animal encounters experience, then I would have rather chosen the elephant trekking, just because it's longer. Either way, I still feel conflicted regarding the whole thing.


On another note - after 2 days of sleeping and swimming and just plain chilling; I decided to put some effort into my appearance for my first day out in the form of tinted sunblock, some mascara and a bright coloured lipstick. This lasted for all of breakfast before it was completely melted off. Thailand is hot, people! Thailand is so very HOT!


My attempt at looking half decent








 



 
 


 

 



 
 
 
 
For more on our Thailand vacation, read :
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks for reading!
 
 
Peace,
 
 
NAMU :)


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Travel Diary - Chalong Temple Phuket, Thailand

 
There are lots of different kind of travellers out there - those travelling on a budget, or travelling by private jet - First class, business class or economy. Then there's the backpackers, some who choose to work and travel simultaneously, young travellers, retired folk with an empty nest finally getting to see the world, people who have given up everything they own to truly find themselves through travelling, and the guy who packs a little suitcase and travels across continents just to sleep late, miss breakfast and sit by the poolside and relax (my husband).
 
 
And then you get the type of traveller who packs half their wardrobe, some make up and medicine, 5 pairs of shoes but only wears one, gym clothes that never makes it out of the suitcase, jackets...just in case...even though their destination is the desert. Camera. Back up camera. They research their destination from six months prior to leaving in order to familiarise themselves with all the must see locations at said destination.  Who is up at the crack of dawn in order to get an early start and cover as much ground as possible, and also annoyingly cheerful and overly enthusiastic about EVERYTHING.(In case it wasn't already obvious, this last paragraph was totally a description of me...give or take - I may have intentionally left out a few extras).
 
 
What I'm trying to say, is that everyone has a different idea and goal when it comes to travelling. For my husband; it is a time to unwind, relax and retreat from the stresses of work. For me, it is to immerse myself into the life, culture and history of the country I am visiting. So when we plan our vacations, there's often a compromise to be made, and we have to make sure that everyone gets the experience they are looking for.
 
 
I mentioned it before, but it's worth mentioning again, that had it not been for the tour company's incessant calls; we may never have left the hotel and we would've missed the best parts of Thailand! Lucky for us, we didn't; and our first proper excursion out of the hotel grounds was on day 3...after 2 days of sleeping late, missing breakfast and lounging by the pool ;-) We hired a vehicle; which turned out to be a very spacious mini van, with much needed air-conditioning, complimentary bottles of water and a tour guide. Surprisingly, it is cheaper to hire a vehicle of this sort for an entire day than it is to commute in the famous Thai Tuktuks!!
 
Originally we were just planning to go shopping, but since we had the help of a proper tour guide, we made our way to the most popular sights of the Island instead, the first of which was Chalong Temple.
 
 
Chalong Temple
 
You cannot visit Thailand and not visit one of their temples. It's like coming all the way to Cape Town and not going to see the iconic Table Mountain!
 
Buddhist temples are one of the most important and revered symbols of Thailand; partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhists, and partly because they are breathtakingly beautiful! In Phuket alone there are about 29 Buddhist temples; the biggest and most popular among tourists being Chalong Temple.
 

 


Inside, you can feast your eyes on elaborate artwork and paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings illustrating the life of Buddha, and the hallways are lined with several golden, life sized statues. The temple is quite busy during the day; filled with locals and travellers alike who have come either to pray, pay their respects, or learn something interesting about Buddhism.

 
 




 
Chalong Temple is a massive place made up of the main temple, as well as several smaller, equally beautiful buildings surrounding the main temple. It's made up of three floors, each housing interesting sculptures and artefacts.
 
On the very top floor you will be able to get a birds eye view of the entire place. The view from the top is pretty amazing and also a great photo opportunity...provided you don't mind the scorching heat or burning your feet on the hot floors! Some areas were a bit more populated with tourists than other, but the were several quieter spots where you could just enjoy your surroundings and soak it all in.
 
The ornate and intricate architecture is definitely a feast for the eyes! 
 

Not a bad pic courtesy of the Instagram husband! Redeemed himself after the Dubai desert disaster



My feet were burning like crazy...but I was determined to get a cute pic!

 
You need a good couple of hours to explore the place fully, but we only visited the main temple since we still wanted to cover other tourist places for the day. Outside of the temple, but still part of temple grounds, the road is lined with a market place selling food, drinks and trinkets...and lots of fresh coconuts!! 

 




 
 
Things to remember when visiting Buddhist Temples
 
  • Dress modestly. For women, this means shoulders must be covered and nothing above the knee; and men are supposed to wear long pants and nothing sleeveless. They did allow the men in with short though.
 
  • Take your shoes off before entering the temple.
 
  • Best times to go is early morning (if you are into waking up early) or late afternoon. It's not as hot and also not as busy.
 
  • Take a good camera. I didn't on this particular day and regretted it! Pictures turned out ok I think.
 
 
 
And that's it! Our time at Chalong Temple :-) Ending this post off with this gem of a family pic. Can you tell that I'm the only one into this whole tourist experience and excited to take pictures!? Haha
 
 
Thanks for reading!
 
 
Peace,
 
 
NAMU :)


Monday, 10 July 2017

Dressing up on Eid


When I was a child, there was a lot of fuss and excitement revolving around Eid, and dressing up on Eid day was something I always looked forward to. As I grew into my teens, and we listened out for any sightings of the moon; the first thing I'd do when I heard the takbeer, was smear my lips with my brightest lipstick while finishing up any last minute chores I had to do in the kitchen. Eid was a celebration, and dressing up in our finest was a big part of that celebration...but somewhere between then and now, the excitement to dress up has waned.
 
 
While most people worry about what to wear for Eid, I am always conflicted about whether I should dress up on Eid  day at all! As a woman and a mom, so much effort goes into making Eid say special for everyone else, and I feel like so much time gets spent in the kitchen that it makes dressing up feel a little pointless. I'm no glamour mamma, and the idea of prancing around the kitchen in heels is not very appealing to me! Seriously...I can't be in the kitchen and look decent at the same time. 
 
 
And then we have social media showing us images of these perfectly put together moms balancing their kids on their hips while also balancing on a fabulous pair of high heels...all while I'm running around like a headless chicken in either pyjamas, or a tights and hubby's oversized T-shirt (which, let's face it, also doubles up as pyjamas), dishevelled hair with the streaks of grey I never had a chance to cover up! Yeah, since becoming a mom, dressing up on Eid is not as exciting as it used to be.
 
 
But I have become determined to make Eid more exciting once again. I don't want to simplify a day that holds such great value in our faith; even if it means putting in a little extra effort to do so. I want to build a strong foundation of memories and traditions for our kids to hold on to and also pass on; and it all starts with what they see us do. I've also gotten a lot better at time management so that I am at least partially decent by the time the men get home from mosque and try and remain that way for a good portion of the day ;-)
 
 
For me it's more about holding onto tradition in a time where it's dying down in favour of pop culture. So as self-indulgent as an Eid outfit post may seem, added to that the narcissistic nature of social media; this is just here as a reminder in times when I feel conflicted, that days like these are meant to be celebrated...and dressing in our best is a big part of it.
 



Threw an open front Abaya over my outfit for the morning

 
 






 
 
 

 
 
OUTFIT DETAILS
 
Black velvet dress with embroidery detail : Woolworths
 
Black trouser (old) : Woolworths
 
Shoes (old) : Foschini
 
Open Abaya (old) : Dubai
 
Scarf : Riehana's Scarves
 
Earrings : H&M  Thailand
 
Pearl cluster ring : Thailand
 
Photographs : 2Cherries Photography
 
 
 
Thanks for reading!
 
 
Peace,
 
 
NAMU :)