Road trip 2015 pics, part 1

We’re back!

We arrived in Chicago on Monday night, after a long, long drive from Florida.

For those unfamiliar with it, this is what the route there looked like.

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Our neighbors told us we took our vacation at the perfect time.  Apparently Chicago was a cold hell while we were gone.

What else is new?

Florida was a lot of fun.  And super super hot.  The temperature during the day never got below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

We split the time between Tampa and Orlando, spending about three days in each city.

The time spent driving felt long, but it wasn’t too bad.  It wasn’t beyond what I expected it to be.  And it felt great to explore different parts of this beautiful country.

I have seen more small towns of America during this trip than I have in my entire life.  That’s what happens when you have two boys with alternating bladder schedules.

I also have people waiting on me for pictures.  Some of them are angry that I didn’t post a few already.

So now I will be showcasing vacation pics ad nauseaum.

For the next couple of blog posts, you will be seeing almost all the photos we took, sorted out by day and location.

I am glad I have a blog to display them on because I hate giving Facebook access to my pictures.  They do this creepy thing where they download my photos without my permission.

Enjoy!

And for the people that hate vacation snaps, look away, because there are lots of them coming at you!

Day 1 Friday – Chicago

We drove to my in laws place in Terre Haute, IN on Friday and spent the night there.  That cut around 5-6 hours out of the drive itself.

On Saturday, we hit the road, with Atlanta, GA in mind as our next stop.

Day 2 Saturday – Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia

With some late night driving by my husband, we managed to get an hour past Atlanta, to a little town called Byron, where we spent the night.

Day 3 Sunday – Byron, GA

The hotel where we stayed had a cute little produce place next to it.  My sister and I wanted to try the famous Georgia peaches, while my kids really wanted to pick some strawberries from the long rows of bushes in the back.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we arrived at our hotel in Tampa on Sunday night.

Day 4 Monday, Memorial Day – Tampa. 

Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa River Walk

I thought I could cram more pictures in this post without making it five pages long.

Oh, well.

Road trip 2015, Part 2.  Coming soon to a blog post near you.

I am done

Shit, it’s been a long week.

I recently completed a 48 hour school workathon, which is the only type of marathon you will ever find me participating in.

I can assure you, it was just as much of a bitch as the real thing.

Seriously, I think I’m applicable for the Guinness Book of World Records or something.

By the time I hit the last submit button, I was almost awash in tears of relief.

I am DONE DONE DONE with school for now.  And I am ready for a vacation.

That’s why The View Through the Window is going to Florida!

Our vacations are usually on the shorter side.  We take four day treks to a city within a few hours drive and get back home in just enough time to say mother eff, tomorrow’s Monday!

But this year we decided that a good vacation is a very important part of life.  Everyone needs to exit the traffic circle of work, school, home, repeat once in a while.

And what can be a better destination than the happiest place on earth?

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After that bitch school workathon, I needed to find a happy place.

I still have my concerns, though.  The drive from Chicago to Florida is around 18 hours long.  Add my kids to it and we might as well hire a donkey cart for our mode of transportation.

We’d probably get there just as fast.

Flying is completely out of the question.  I swore I would never board an airplane with my boys again after my last plane ride, one of the many highlights of which was my very concerned son, a first time flier, asking things like why there were so many cops at the airport, was something wrong with the plane, would it crash and would we all die?

Loud and clear enough for everyone on board to hear.  He apparently inherited my flying apprehensions.

This was me.

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Everyone knows you don’t say crash when you’re on a plane, especially if you’re a Muslim.  I couldn’t believe it, but most people just laughed when they heard him voice his concerns.

Me? I almost threw up all over my friendly fellow passenger from the stress, combined with plenty of air sickness.

I’d rather drive to and back from Florida ten times than go through that again.  Any humiliation we experience will be confined to the privacy of our van.

I tried to persuade my husband to postpone the trip until our kids were older, but he was adamant that they were at just the right age to experience the magic that is Disney.

And because he’s paying for everything, I felt I should agree.

And when I did, he was all

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So we are going.  Suitcases have been packed, Florida relatives have been notified, and neighbors have been asked to keep an eye on our place for us until we return.

Wish us luck!  I am sure one hour into the drive I will want to shoot myself, but I believe in living in the moment.  And in miracles.

Last week was also my birthday.  I am now 31 26 years old.

Here are some birthday dinner pictures.

My mom refused to eat the restaurant’s prized steaks because “they bleed when you slice into them”, so she ordered that enormous vegetable tagine instead.

Here comes the best part about birthdays.

It pays to be old.

I wouldn’t go there

It takes me a long time to get ready and out of the house.  I take long showers, do my hair three different ways before I’m finally happy with the way it looks, and try to put together an outfit that doesn’t hug back fat or show cleavage.

That last one can take an hour in itself.

So sometimes I’m just not up to the challenge.  Sometimes I just want to put on a comfy pair of pajamas, sprawl out onto the sofa, and enter into a coma of laziness.

Most people think that as a stay at home mom, I get plenty of rest during the weekdays and weekends should be reserved for chores and activities.

Eff that shit.

This describes it for me.

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Here’s a snippet of a conversation my husband and I had recently :

Hey, want to go out to Menard’s or Home Depot?

– No.

I noticed the boys’ room needs new blinds.  We could take a look and see what they have.

– I don’t want to. 

Apparently he thinks “no” means I’m playing hard to get.

But we could get new blinds for the whole house.

– I don’t care.  I like our house ugly.

What if the neighbors happen to look in and see you naked?

Send them your condolences.

That last question was just plain silly.  We have nice neighbors who pay way too much attention to their lawn and don’t really seem interested in a game of peek a boob.

Anyway, this past weekend I had to be productive, whether I wanted to or not, because my in laws were visiting.

And we had a wedding to attend.

And it was my mother in law’s birthday.

And my brother’s birthday.

And I had homework.

So on Friday I slept for a grand total of four and a half hours and got my ass up at the crack of Sheema, get up, your alarm has been going off for an hour already!

I washed, scrubbed, mopped, cleaned, dusted, vacuumed, swept, and cooked.  Every time I thought I could rest, I remembered something else that had to be done.

By the afternoon, I was all

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Then it was time to take my tired ass to the wedding.  By that point, I just didn’t care anymore.  I could’ve been sporting facial hair the size of a cat’s whiskers and I still wouldn’t do anything about it.

I put on the same thing I wore to the last wedding I attended, stuck a bobby pin in my hair, popped in some earrings and off we went.

And because I am tired of typing, here are some pictures.

That was our Friday.

Saturday we went to Lincoln Park Zoo, which meant five hours of constant walking.  Yay.

The day ended with a fabulous meal at a Mediterranean restaurant called Fatoush.  If you’re ever in the Chicago area, I highly recommend it.

Another thing I’d recommend if you visit Chicago : Don’t visit Lincoln Park Zoo.

Sure, they have great views, but apparently they decided it meant that they can short change on the animals.

The exhibits are small, the walking areas are cramped, and traffic/parking is a nightmare.

Everything got done over the weekend except for my homework, which I have been putting off in favor of the funner stuff in life.

Not that blogging is still fun.  I’m actually getting pretty bored of not for profit writing.

But it beats having to deal with political science  and anthropology.

At this rate, I will fail and remain education/degree less for the rest of my life.

I will be old and fat and working at Walmart until I die.

Oh well.  At least I have a plan.

Traffic 

Traffic and construction on the first warm weekend of the year.

My husband wonders if the city of Chicago is really just a massive experiment on how much misery the average human being can handle.

If the winter doesn’t kill you, the taxes will.

Hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather!

Snow is a four letter word

There are days when my brain works at a speed and efficiency that surprises even me.  On those days, I am charming and at my witty best.  I also manage to churn out draft after draft of the most fantastic blog posts, the sheer awesomeness of which would completely boggle your mind.

Then there are those times when I can’t even spell wow and only every so often is there an occasional blip in the flat line that is my brain activity.  All those fantastic blog posts are trashed and I wonder what I was high on that I ever considered them good enough to publish.

This blog post has been stuck somewhere between those two states of mind.

As I sit and type, son 1 and son 2 are jumping off and climbing back on my king size bed.  They’re chasing each other and laughing like maniacs.  There’s a lot of noise and hyper activity.

Occasionally I have to move my laptop out of the way for fear of one of them crashing down on it.

Son 2 just sat on son 1’s face and farted.  I was going to say something, but before I could, son 1 laughed hysterically and shouted Mine will be worse than that!

The joys of being the only female of the house.

My sons think women don’t have gas because they’ve never heard me share it before.

After a week’s worth of monkeying around, picking up of toys, fighting, shoving, crying, refereeing, complaining of utter boredom, and trying to keep from losing my sanity, Son 1 had his first full day of school, post spring break, last Monday.

Back when I was a student, spring break actually started in Spring.  

The icing on the cake was the surprise snowstorm we got on the first day off.  We woke up to five inches of the white stuff on the ground and temperatures low enough to make sure it stayed there.  For the entire week.

The snow meant no chasing the chubby little bunnies in the backyard, no swinging or sliding on the play set, and no digging tunnels in the freshly exposed dirt to see if you could get to China without paying for expensive airfare.

So with the situation as it was, the kids were plenty bored.  PLENTY bored.

Which led to my husband buying them a brand new way to have some fun.

I have a strong feeling it was more for him than the kids.

The game system brought excitement and even more fighting, this time for who would get use of the fancy new controller.

Look, they stuck a little TV in it.

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It’s been almost two weeks since then and I’m still waiting for my turn.  😡

Times sure have changed.  I grew up in a house with four siblings.  If one of us ever complained about something as frivolous as being bored, we didn’t get toys.  We got lectures.  And not even your typical lectures.

Our lectures consisted of stuff like how we were the lucky ones, how kids in the old country would be happy to trade places with us, and that we were bringing shame on our entire family, plus a few generations back of ancestors, by not making the most of our time off and doing math problems.

No one does guilt like Indian mothers do. 😐

I tried the guilt thing with my kids once.  Just once.  I was sick and probably also slightly off my hinges for even thinking any of my parents approaches to discipline would ever work.

I said to my boys Can you please keep it down?  I’m not feeling so well.  I could use some peace and quiet.

They didn’t care.

Frustrated, I said If I had daughters, they would care that their mommy was sick.  They would tell me to rest and make me breakfast in bed!  

My boys looked a little shocked at that and traded nervous looks with each other.

I thought Jackpot!, but no.  

No jackpot.

Maybe you’ll have better luck next time was the apathetic reply.

I was almost desperate enough to start pretend crying next, because every man I know, from my 61 year old father to my 4 year old son, gets nervous and fidgety when the water works start.

But I didn’t.  I just lay down on the sofa, propped my feet up, and let the two of them play a game of who can jump over Mommy without crash landing on top of her.

Not my boys, that’s who.

Anyway, all that came to an end the moment Son 1 got on that giant yellow bus and I waved to him from our doorway.  I told him to be sure and thank his teacher for me as soon as he saw her on the first day back.

What for? he asked.

I replied Don’t worry.  She’ll know.  

I’ll bet he had to wait in line.

 

 

First day of Spring break

  

This is what the Chicago area currently looks like, even though Spring officially started last week. 😒  

I think this is karma for gloating over Boston having it worse than us this winter.  

This is my living room floor. 

  

And so it begins.

By the end of the week, the room will be littered with toys and there will be no carpet to be seen.  

From my Facebook news feed. 

  

Say hello to my left foot

Spring is officially here!

*Doing a little happy dance*

School and homework are keeping me busy.  The weather is getting better and we find ourselves spending a lot more time outdoors.

I haven’t had the chance to read any of my favorite blogs or devote much time to my own.  😦

Today’s blog post is another click a pic one.  Over the weekend we visited my sister on/near the campus of the University of Illinois in Chicago.  One of the highlights of the trip to Fati aunty’s are the fantastic views you get to see along the way and while there.  Chicago is, after all, famous for its architecture and skyline.

I lived in Queens, New York before moving to Chicago when I was fourteen.  This city has its pros and cons, but New York will always be close to my heart.

If my husband were awake, he’d read this over my shoulder and say So you enjoyed the smell of sewer water and being mugged twice a week? and I would tell him to take his country ass back to Kentucky.

We’re soul mates. ❤

Seeing the Chicago skyline while cruising down one of the city’s many highways is awesome.  Being in the city always gives me a thrill.  Must be the New Yorker in me.

The visit to Fati’s turned into a sleepover for me and my kids because of how late it had gotten.

It was so lovely to see this when I happened to wake up around dawn.  It felt like the whole world was waking up with me.

At night from the balcony.

After seeing all these beautiful photos I have come to one major conclusion : I need a better camera.

I can’t wait for my classes to be over.  School is a pain in the ass.  I wanted to elaborate on the name of my blog and explain why I am so in love with views, but that will have to wait for another post.  I have a mountain of backlog of homework to do. 😥

Slow and fat

A few weeks ago, we went to see the Circus Spectacular at the Sears Center arena.

Here we have photos of elephants, elephant butts, overpriced snacks, face paintings, and cute little circus souvenirs.  That’s Kid 1 in the yellow shirt, perched on top of the camel in picture number 8.

There were no lions or bears, oh my.  In addition to the elephants and camels, there were a few tigers, including a black and white one, and some horses/ponies.

The biggest issue/concern with the circus has always been the welfare of the animals involved.  I used to be quite passionate about animal rights when I was younger.  I still am, although these days I can’t devote any time to the cause.

The company’s website claimed to be cruelty free and accommodating all the needs of their animals.

Because it was the tenth consecutive freeze your ass off Saturday and we were all suffering from various degrees of cabin fever, that was enough to convince me it was okay to go.

So we went.

I can’t say whether the company’s claim was legitimate or not.  The animals certainly didn’t look starved.  The tigers actually looked a little overweight.

As evidenced in the video, they also seemed super bored and a little whateverish.

Overall, though, all the animals were well trained and better behaved than my children.

A special mention must be made of the man who sat directly in front of me.  My four year old was not impressed with the show and sat in my lap during most of the four hours we were there.  He cried when the lights went out and when the loud noises went off.

He also kicked the seat in front of me at the rate of around one kick every two seconds.

The guy sitting there must’ve been a saint in a past life.  He didn’t turn around or complain once, not even when Kid 2, perhaps in an effort to rustle up some major drama for his mama, took his index finger and tapped the man’s shiny, closely shaved, nearly bald head three times.

I sucked in my breath at that point and braced myself for the confrontation, but miraculously there wasn’t any.

You have my respect, Mr. Guy That Was Sitting In the Seat In Front Of Me.  He had to have been the world’s most patient and understanding man.  Maybe he overheard me telling my kids don’t make me come over there or you’ll be in time out until you start college and one more word out of you, I’m calling those tigers back and telling them to have a little Indian for dinner.

I’m thinking he decided I’m not messing with that bitch.  She cray.

here i am

Today is my husband’s birthday!  Yay!

We didn’t get to go out to a restaurant like we wanted, so dinner had to be pizza.

Deep dish, Chicago style, and meat lovers, of course.

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Since it was his special day, he got to order what he wanted.  I personally don’t like deep dish pizza very much. I’d pick New York style over it any time.

My husband and I have now been together for over eight years.  I hope we get to spend many more birthdays together. ❤️

And for nostalgic purposes, here are some photos of us from our honeymoon in Orlando, Florida.

If you look real close there’s a blurry-ish full shot of me.

Happy March everyone!  I can totally sense the allergies coming on.

Abdullah Saleem isn’t the only one

Head of Elgin Islamic School charged in sex abuse of former employee

Can’t say I’m shocked.

Sexual violence happens everywhere in the world and in every type of society.  But few will admit that it is rampant in religious institutions where extreme sexual repression is practiced and endorsed.

It happens and it happens often. In secrecy, of course.  Similar to the scandal that rocked the Catholic community.

What I am shocked about is that the perpetrator is facing charges.  People who hold high, powerful positions are not brought down easily.  Major respect to the young lady who had the courage to speak up for herself.  Major respect for the family that supported her.  Her bravery has led other women to come forward about being molested by the same sick bastard.

Laying allegations of sexual abuse against a figure such as Abdullah Saleem is no small feat.  For the Chicago Muslim community, he might as well have been the Pope.  That’s how revered he was, and still is, to some people who believe the victims are lying.

You might be thinking that I’m too quick to judge.  That everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

True.

But I speak from personal experiences and observances that very often (but not always, of course), those who speak the loudest are mostly full of shit.

If you feel the need to sermonize and make a big tada about your actions, odds are you’re speaking from the mind and the wallet.  Not the heart.

And if your actions are from the heart, you don’t need an audience or a spotlight to showcase you.  The beauty of your deeds and your work will speak for itself and be satisfaction enough.

I am also well aware that a victim’s reputation is always at stake in cases of sexual abuse.  To speak up is to be faced with questions and accusations against ones own ethics and principles, especially in a religious setting and against such a highly esteemed figure as Abdullah Saleem.

No woman or man would tackle something of this magnitude were it not for some major, MAJOR shit having gone down.  No amount of money can equal the fight and the heartache of tackling the tsunami that is the  backlash from a large religious community.

Salem Witch trials, anyone?

I can’t sum up in words exactly how awed I am by the young lady who has now given a voice to other victims.

She has more balls than the entire male staff of IIE put together.

This scandal brings to light how powerful a recruiting tool religion can be.  I’m a sexual predator won’t sell, but religious school for the learning of Quran or Bible classes for young boys will have people lining up to patron your holy cause.

Put a supposedly divine stamp on it and it’s amazing what you can get away with.

A fantastic Indian movie I watched recently, PK (yeah, that’s the title, a P and a K), gives an account of how warped religion has become in the hands of man.  It is religion seen through the eyes of an extraterrestrial.  An alien.  Awesome stuff.  Please do give it a look.  You’ll easily find a copy with subtitles if need be.

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And no, I was not paid for the advertising of the movie.

As if.

Lastly, and most importantly, please listen to your children and create an environment in which they feel safe coming to you for any and all problems.  Abdullah Saleem isn’t the only one, of course.  There are plenty of sickos out there, some in guises of holy pillars of the community and many not.  The trauma of living through sexual abuse is something that can easily break an adult.

Imagine what it has the potential to do to the fragility of a child.