Fitness Update

Squat challenge update: Alhamdulilah I’m on day 5 and I’ve finished my 70 squats for the day. I thought it would be harder to get the squats in, but I find myself squatting while warming up food, playing with my daughter and warming up her milk bottles. Amina finds it very amusing when I squat in front of her. I think she thinks her Mommy is crazy!

Fitbit 1 Million step challenge:  It’s been almost 2 weeks since hubby and I started this challenge and we’re making some progress. I looked at my stats and I’m almost past 100,000 steps.  Only 900,000 steps to go.


There are many …

There are many pieces that make up our lives: Moments that break us. Moments that raise and shape us. Decisions we make to hold on. Or let go. People who enter our lives and leave us changed forever. The ones we love, the ones that hurt us, or heal us, or leave us. Sometimes we don’t understand these pieces—or even despair over them. It’s only when time goes by and we look back, that we suddenly can see our whole life like a perfectly designed puzzle.
Don’t be afraid of the puzzle piece you’re in now. It will fit perfectly…just like the rest. How could it not? The Designer is perfect. -Yasmin Mogahed

Article: Memories of a Bedtime Book Club

I LOVE this article!!  I love books and I’m trying to share my love of books with my daughter. I hope one day we can have popcorn reading parties!


Published: April 24, 2013 (

The wine boxes and masking tape are out, because I’ve begun to pack up the last, best books in my children’s picture book library.


This is an overdue task. They’re 13 and 15 now and we haven’t read aloud to them in years. We’ve kept this final stack at hand out of undiluted nostalgia. Moving it into the attic shouldn’t be a big deal. But it is.

In the past, when I’ve had to pack my personal library, what I’ve boxed are talismans of intense yet essentially private experience. Picture books aren’t like this. When you’re putting away these square, dog-eared, popcorn-butter-stained things, you’re confronting an entire cosmos of collective memory.

Because my wife and I so repeatedly read these favorite picture books aloud — comically, exhaustedly, occasionally inebriatedly — to our children, their words and images have worn grooves into our minds. They occupy places in our family’s shared consciousness as indelibly as do summer vacations, trips to the hospital or injured birds cared for in cardboard boxes.

They’re the fine, weird, uncanny poems we’ve each memorized and carry around in our heads. They’re evocative of some of life’s best things — wet hair, clean pajamas, the end of working days. They’re the last books the four of us are likely ever to read again at anything like the same moment. Our splendid nightly book club has ended its run.

Happily for us, our book club had its Oprah. Her name was Eden Ross Lipson.

Eden was The New York Times Book Review’s longtime children’s book editor, a legend in her field, who died in 2009. When my kids were little, I worked as an editor at the Book Review, and I had the crazy good fortune to possess the desk next to hers.

She had a jumbo-size personality (the journalist Cokie Roberts spoke at her funeral service) and jumbo-size opinions. She wouldn’t recommend a book for your children until she knew everything about them and, almost as importantly, everything about you. She’d need to grill you. Her interrogations were tests of character.

Eden described these improvised interviews in “The New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children,” (1988) a book she edited. She would bear down on you like this: “How old a child? A boy or a girl? Where does he or she live? Siblings? Intact family? Special interests? A book to read aloud, or a book for a child to read to herself?”

These were merely the opening salvos. It was as intense as psychotherapy. Afterward, you had to go and sit down. At the time, I still smoked, so I’d recuperate in one of the smoking lounges in the Times’s old building on West 43rd Street.

One of Eden’s dictums was that there was no way to tell if a new children’s classic had arrived until a generation or two had passed. The question isn’t whether you’ll read a book to your kids. It’s whether they will read the same book to their kids, and so on down the line.

My wife, Cree, and I both had favorite kids’ books from when we were young, books we couldn’t wait to read aloud to our children. But Eden was always there to slip me a new thing or two. “Here,” she’d say, “this writer has really got something.” Or: “Dwight, I think your daughter is finally ready for this.” Some of these became dearly prized.

One was “The Giant Ball of String” (2002), with text and art by Arthur Geisert. We’ve read this book until it’s nearly come apart. It’s a sly moral fable about love and theft and guile and justice. You can imagine it directed, as a kind of poker-faced kid’s revenge caper, by Wes Anderson.

Another was “The Day the Babies Crawled Away” (2003) by Peggy Rathmann. Who knows why certain picture books catch like fishhooks in your mind. For us, this was one of them. It’s barely got a story — it’s about a gaggle of babies who crawl away from their parents at a fair, and the young boy who follows and rescues them.

But it’s beautiful and enveloping. Everything is in crisp shadow against a neon late afternoon sky. There are funny grace notes, like the one baby who can be found hanging upside down somewhere in almost every drawing. Kids love to scan busy drawings for unpredictable detail. Ours nicknamed this weird kid “bat baby.”

Eden also gave me “Epossumondas” (2002), by Coleen Salley with illustrations by Janet Stevens. It’s based on a Southern folktale, and it’s hilarious.

I usually ended up reading this story aloud — I hope my Southern friends will forgive me for this — in the kind of faux-backwoods accent Mick Jagger employed in the song “Far Away Eyes.” The book’s about a possum who is “his mama’s and his auntie’s sweet little patootie.”

Other books, in our pile of favorites, we discovered on our own.

Hans de Beer’s “Little Polar Bear” (1987), for example, a witty, plaintive book my children adored when they were barely out of diapers.

And Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s “The Wolves in the Walls” (2003). These wolves are party animals, mean scuzzy fuzzballs out of a Ralph Steadman drawing or a Warren Zevon song.

It’s hideous joy to watch them frolic, and to witness them getting their comeuppance. The book’s refrain, uttered by a girl’s disbelieving mother and father, is this: “If the wolves come out of the walls, then it’s all over.”



Mark Alan Stamaty’s brilliant and surreal 1973 picture book, “Who Needs Donuts?”, is another I’m about to pack up. Mr. Stamaty tattoos every available surface in his books with surreal and witty detail. This book, reissued by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003, deserves to become a classic.

It’s one I’ve read to my children at least 500 times. To this day we can’t drive past a Dunkin’ Donuts without someone in the back seat plaintively or sarcastically mewling the book’s central question: “Who needs doughnuts, when you’ve got love?”

Then there’s “The Train They Call the City of New Orleans”(2003), which is little more than the lyrics to Steve Goodman’s classic 1970 song, illustrated by Michael McCurdy. What a good idea. You’ve got to be willing to whisper-sing to your kids to put this over.

We didn’t, when our kids were young, only read picture books at bedtime. One of Cree’s best inventions was the “popcorn reading party.” Here’s how you have a popcorn reading party: a) You make popcorn. b) You gather a pile of your best kids’ books. c) You yell, “popcorn reading party!” d) You try to work it out so that the kids books end at about the same time the popcorn does.

We read plenty of classics to our kids. But I’ve intentionally omitted Aesop, the Brothers Grimm, Dr. Seuss or other classic practitioners here. They don’t need my assistance.

It’s a treat to be able to pass along news of a few lesser-known books that I’m certain will pass the Eden Test. Someday my kids will open these boxes, gasp with delight, and eagerly read them to their own.


The list, in alphabetical order:

HANS DE BEER “Little Polar Bear”

TOMIE DE PAOLA “The Knight and the Dragon”

JULES FEIFFER “Bark, George”


NEIL GAIMAN AND DAVE MCKEAN “The Wolves in the Walls”

ARTHUR GEISERT “The Giant Ball of String”

STEVE GOODMAN AND MICHAEL MCCURDY “The Train They Call the City of New Orleans”




PEGGY RATHMANN “The Day the Babies Crawled Away”


MAURICE SENDAK “In the Night Kitchen”

MARK ALAN STAMATY “Who Needs Donuts?”


Beautiful baby bath video

Just watching this video relaxes my mind and realigns my spirit.


“Be gentle; for verily, gentleness is not part of something except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from something except that it disgraces it.”  – The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  [Sahih Hadith, Source: Ahmad]

Book of the Moment: Quiet ….some notes

Unfortunately I could not finish reading Quiet because it was due at the library. I tried to renew the book, but someone put a hold on it. So instead of keeping this interesting book from someone else and incurring library fines, I handed it in. I hope to sign it back out one day and finish it off.

While I read Quiet, I made some notes on interesting thoughts and ideas.

  • work alone
  • many famous CEOs, famous writers, painters, creative people are introverts
  • we think we like individualism, but the organisation of schools and workplaces suggest we value team work over individualism
  • people who are loud and draw attention to themselves are generally taken more seriously than quiet, thoughtful people
  • cooperative learning is taught in schools because these are the skills the business community values in its workers
  • “while extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains, introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields. outstanding introverted leaders: Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Patrick White, and Arthur Boyd”
  • brainstorming works better when done individually, but online collaboration in a controlled setting does well- as working in an online group collaboration is a form of solitudegroup brainstorming fails because of social loafing: some people do the work while others relax; production blocking: only one person can talk or produce an idea while group members are forced to sit passively; evaluation apprehension: the fear of looking stupid in front of one’s peers
  • highly sensitive people tend to be keen observers who look before they leap. they arrange their lives in ways that limit surprises. they’re often sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, coffee. they have difficulty when being observed (at work) or judged for general worthiness (dating, job interview)
  • they dislike small talk, they dream vividly and can often recall their dreams the next day
  • highly sensitive people also process information about their environments-both physical and emotional-unusually deeply

In the few chapters that I read, one thing was confirmed for me: I am an introvert.