Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Food drive update

ELL parent center food drive was a success. Thank you for all the families who donate canned food for Niles Township food pantry. When we loaded up the food to the car, we were really happy about what we accomplished.
Here are pictures for our food drive.

Banner on ELL parent center


  Devonshire school collection box


Old Orchard Junior High

ELL parent center, all the canned food we collected.

If you couldn’t make your donation this time, you can always donate food or money to any local food pantry or organization like feeding America. It is never too late to help others in need.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Final Week

Finally our food drive for Niles Township food pantry is over, which was pretty successful. People brought a lot of items for the drive for which we are very thankful for them. I was personally very disappointed from the school whom I asked for the help and they did not give a single item, but that’s fine because so far it was our first try and experience and blogger moms did wonderfully.

We bloggers also had a mother’s day lunch which was fun and we talked about different things. Basically that was our last day of our weekly class, so it was our class ending, mother’s day, and food drive success lunch at the same time.

Now the summer break is approaching so I have to think and plan for the whole three months of full house. I am very happy that my kids will have a break of sleep and comfort because believe it or not but these kids also need a break from school, but at the same time when I think of a messy house, arguing, and sitting all the time doing nothing, it gives me a lot of ideas to spent the three months for a little bit with work and fun if they are happy or not.. Oh God, it will be a long summer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Every Day Is Happy Mothers Day

When I came to America I observed for the first time the celebration of Mother's Day. I was surprised to see the one special day for parents to celebrate because back in Pakistan we did not have special day for parents. Over there since most of the population live in extended family system, so it’s like every day is mother's or father's day.

Well in my opinion, mothers do deserve the most respect, love and passionate in same way that mothers feel for their children. That’s why in Islam it is very strongly suggested the most respect and love for mothers which can be described very easily in this saying that,

                                                  “Heaven is under or at the feet of your mother.”

Since I am in America for such a long time, I miss my mom a lot (she is in Pakistan). I feel like I am missing very great opportunities of  loving, caring for and respecting her. She is a diabetic and whenever she is not feeling well, I feel so sad and sometimes cry because these are the days that I am suppose to be with her for comfort and care. Instead of that she is the one who always give comfort to me and prays for my happiness, safety, health and my return to Pakistan for at least a short visit.

In elementary school my kids used to make small gifts for me which I kept them, now they just say happy Mother's Day which also feels good because I think  the best part of being a woman is motherhood. My husband always takes me for the dinner (with the kids) for the past fifteen years, but I want to say that every day is suppose to be a Mother's Day because there is nothing that equal to mother.
                               Happy Mothers Day mom (miss you a lot) and to every mother out there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heaven is under my mother's feet

In my opinion every day is a mother's day. A mother deserves love and respect every day because she cares for her family every day every minute. Her love for her children is unconditional. A lot of mothers take care of their children 24/7. Many support their children all alone.Well, what else does a mother do for her family? The list is too long to describe here in a blog.

Do all mothers receive the love and care, they deserve? Specially when they need it in their older age? Well, I think some do and some don't. Some are lucky enough to have a caring family all the time while others wait for certain days of year to be remembered by their families. They wait long very long,to spend some happy moments with their loved ones.

Every Mother's Day, I think of the lady that I saw sitting on the couch in the lobby of our apartment building.That was a few years ago when I was coming back home with my family after spending a happy ''Mother's Day" at Botanic Garden of Chicago and enjoying a family dinner at my favorite restaurant.When we were in the lobby of the apartment building, there she was sitting all alone looking very sad. She was also a  tenant in the complex and we often smiled and said hello to each other whenever we saw each other in the elevator or lobby, but never got to talk more then that before. But that day she spoke for the first time.

"Did you had a good mother's day''? she asked me.

''Oh, yes,'' I said happily, but then realized that she looked sad . ''What about you?" I asked her. She told me that her children live in other states.I tried to comfort her by saying that ''At least they called you didn't they?"

''Yes, but its not the same '', she replied back.A year later she told me she was moving to live closer to her children. I was happy for her because I couldn't forget her sadness on that Mothers Day.

I also live far away from my mother.Some times I miss her so much that I just want to fly back to Pakistan to see her .But of course it's not that easy. I have to plan ahead and wait for summer when school is over and my kids can go, too. Its an expensive trip and I can't take it every summer. But whenever we do go, memories of those happy moments become part of my life which keeps me going for a while.

Every religion teaches respects for parents and in Islam too, respect for parents, especially mothers, is so important that there is a Hadith (saying) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) that "Heaven is under a mother's feet." That says it all, how much a mother matters. And yes I believe in that strongly because that's truly what all mothers deserve.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a good time to honor all the mothers’ hard work for her family and children. In China, children are educated to respect their parents and older people.

On Mother’s Day, I called my mom to say Happy Mother’s Day to her. After I moved to the USA, I missed my family even more for every holiday. Therefore, I always call my family whenever I'm available. 

I still remembered when I was in Hong Kong on Mother’s Day, my siblings and I were always spent the whole day with my mom. Early in the morning, we would go the restaurant having Dim Sum together. Then we would go shopping and after lunch would play Mahjong because my mom loves to play. In the evening we'd go out for a nice dinner with my mom. Of course we would give her a gift, too. Although my siblings in HK are still doing the same thing to my mom, I can’t join them.

This year I celebrated Mother’s Day with my husband and kids. We had a nice dinner in a Japanese restaurant. The Japanese food was delicious. I ordered a Beef Teriyaki and Salmon dinner set that came with Miso Shiru (soybean paste soup), salad, shrimp and vegetable tempura and a bowl of rice.

My husband ordered a sashimi (raw fish eat with soy sauce mixed with wasabi) dinner box with soup, salad, shrimp tempura, shrimp cocktail and a bowl of rice.

And my kids ordered Chicken Teriyaki and Beef Teriyaki.

We all enjoyed all the food and had a good time together. I hope everyone had a Happy Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Niles Township ELL Parent Center Food Drive

The Niles Township English Language Learners Parent Center is hosting a food drive to help Fight Child Hunger.

All donations will go to the Niles Township Food Pantry, which serves residents of Skokie, Morton Grove, Niles, Lincolnwood, Golf and Glenview.

Donations can be dropped off at the Center, 9440 Kenton Avenue in Skokie from May 10-14. The Center is located just East of the Jewel-Osco that's bounded by Gross Point Road and Skokie Boulevard. Protein foods such as peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon, chicken and trukey are especially needed at this time.

Please take a moment to read our posts below on hunger and poverty.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Food Drive in Pakistan

In America when you think of poverty, you think of low income families who live on minimum wages and some sort of help from other sources like government, food pantries , or soup kitchens. I think Americans who live under the poverty still live much better liver then people in third world countries. In other parts of the world the picture of the poor is totally different and the concept of food drives and helping the poor is also different. Pakistan's population is almost 1 hundred and 80 million, which makes it the number 6 most populated country in the world, while 28% of the population is living under the poverty line.

In Pakistan, people help the poor and each other on daily basis. Soup kitchens are getting very popular in these days but we call it Khairat which is basically a food drive. For the past 3 to 4 years, there are 3 million internal displaced people because of the war on extremism in Norther Pakistan. The government of Pakistan made the tent cities but that's all. These people do need a lot of other stuff to survive, so the ordinary people could give as much as they possibly could. Most of the time they help them through soup kitchens. I also want to mention that in Pakistan there are a large number of beggars (about 20 million) who go door to door asking for food, money, clothes or any kind of help and people do help them.

I want to mention one important aspect in Islam (since Pakistan is a 95% Muslim country) a very unique system of giving to poor is called Zakat, which means alms giving and is the third pillar of Islam in 5 pillars. Once a year every Muslim should give 2.5% of his or her total wealth. Zakat can be given in the form of money, food or any way of the person's need.One more way of giving is called sadqah which basically a part of zakat means charity and it's also obligated to those who can afford helping others.

There is so much to write about this topic because it is a very vast subject and writing about poverty is very emotional and heart touching. I have my three children and being a mom i feel  more passionate for those kids who are less fortunate than us well at least I am very happy and fortunate to be a small part of this food drive in Ell center at  9440 Kenton from May 10 to 15 and hoping to have a very successful food drive.

Food Drive

When I looked at CHILD HUNGER ENDS HERE's web site, I learned that there is over 16 million of Americans still facing hunger. I just can't believe it and I am really shock by those facts too. They said nearly 1 of 4 children is hungry everyday.

I never think about that in 21st century in America people still struggle with hunger.

I didn't experience hunger before. But I remember in my childhood, every time when I couldn't finish my food, my grandma always told us her story. Long time ago in China, they had been gone through a very difficult time because of food shortage. People didn't have any food to eat. My grandma had to look for tree root and tree bark to eat. Can you imagine how they taste like? They must really tough to eat. So if we couldn't finish the food, we always save for next day.

Even now, when my kids waste food, I will tell them their great grandma's story and also out there a lot of kids don't have food to eat. So they cherish what they have.

In our Niles township community, there are families struggling with hunger. Because of the hunger issue, our group of moms in this blog are going to organize a food drive for Nile Township pantry.

The FOOD DRIVE will take place on May 10 to May 15. We will have collection bin in ELL PARENT CENTER in Skokie. Please spread out our food drive event to anyone you know. Tell them to stop by and drop off some canned food to help our community fight child hunger.

Come visit our blog often, we will have more update about our food drive.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hunger in America

When talking about hunger, a lot of people might think it exists only in African or some Asian countries. But its a fact that it exists right here in U.S. too. I was shocked to find out that according to US department of agriculture more than 16 million children face hunger at some point in the year. More then 35 % of people pick between food and medical care.

This is also a fact that almost 1 in 4 children face hunger in U.S. Not getting enough food has a great effect in children. It causes iron deficiency , poor academic results, developmental delays and weaker immune systems. It is also associated with depression in school age children.

As a mother, it hurts me a lot to think that lots of children go to bed hungry. On the other hand a lot of food gets wasted at home and restaurants. At my home too sometimes we have left overs because kids would eat something else, and the food that I prepared might go in the refrigerator that nobody wants to eat next day. In Pakistan, in this kind of situation, I always gave it to needy people and food never got wasted. But here in U.S. I don't have access to needy people and freshly prepared home meals go in the garbage.
I remember that ever day many moms in Pakistan gave some of the food they prepared to poor people before setting the table for their own family. That is because they see hungry people in streets often, and there are no food pantries, so people help poor people by giving them personally some food, clothes or money.

Here in America, I suggest that if we make a habit of buying one extra item of food each time we go grocery shopping, and give it to a food pantry might help a lot of needy people . I am sure moms can really make a difference because most of the time they are the ones who go grocery shopping.


Food plays the most important role in one's life. Health depends on the food a person eats. Children must eat home-cook meals daily. That is why I try to prepare soup every day. For dinner, mostly I prepare vegetables and some meat. My family is non-vegetarian. For this reason we eat chicken, meat and fish, but not pork. We like to eat fish. This is a very nutritional food.

I am very happy that here we have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables round-the year. Some of these fruits and vegetables I tasted for the first time. For example, okra (lady finger). We like mango. Here there are a lot of mangoes and they are not expensive. In my native country it was very expensive fruit. Cantaloupe can be found here round-the year.

In USA, fast food is very popular. In Russia there are also a lot of McDonald's. I think fast food should only be eaten very rarely, but not always.

I am happy that in schools my children like the food served. It is delicious and nutritional.

In USA there is more problem - a lot of obese people. I think a person must choose what kind of food he eats and how much. There is a saying - "You are what you eat".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pakistani food

Some of the Pakistani food that I love is 'Biryani ,' Chicken Tikka', and Spinach. 'Biryani' is rice cooked with any kind of meat like chicken, mutton or beef. I prefer beef because it gives the rice a stronger flavor. We use a lot of spices, for example, salt, red pepper, cumin seeds, coriander and some other spices.

'Chicken tikka ' is marinated pieces of chicken baked in oven or fried over stove. Spinach is my favorite vegetable, and I like it no matter how it is prepared, Pakistani people make it different ways and I love it.

There are some traditional sweets that we use for special occasions like marriages, engagements, announcement of a baby's birth or any other happy occasion. People usually sent 'Laddu' (a special kind of sweet) to friends and family.

Some of the special Pakistani snacks are Cholai chaat (spicy chickpeas) ,'Samosa' (minced beef or potatoes filled in egg role sheets) and Dahi bhallai' (Round puffs made with chick pea powder and dipped in yogurt).

Here in Chicago, Devon street is famous for traditional Pakistani food, so when ever we want a taste of our own country, we go to Devon street and every thing, from traditional Pakistani clothes to traditional Pakistani food is there to satisfy us.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poverty in America

Every time when there is a natural or man made disaster in any part of the world, the most striking images of poverty shakes any sensible mind that this problem is a very humongous and heart wrenching issue.

No matter if it 's famines in Africa or if you see the young kids picking their food from the garbage in any part of the world, it should be no1 issue for the rich countries or governments to solve. In. the United States in general spend more than $400 billion on its military while it takes more than $300 billion to end world poverty.

Here in the United States, I think people are lucky that at least poor are not dying of starvation. It doesn’t mean that they do not need any kind of help. Right now 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America. This includes about 12.9 million children. 15 million people are living under the poverty line in Illinois, while 5.4% of Skokie population lives below the poverty line and the falling economy has a very big support for this crisis.

Sometimes when my kids are so picky in food like, “Why did you cook chicken like this instead of that” or Why didn’t you make this or that dish?, it makes me think of starved or malnourished kids, but who am I kidding? I wish that all the time that one day I will try to help someone who is less fortunate than I am may be it’s because I am a mom. I think that no one should live in poverty and everyone deserves better.

We have a very good group of women at moms from another country who will have a food drive soon to benefit the Niles township food pantry and any one can join this drive to help the people who need help. You can also go to this site for more information about hunger in your community.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Regional food of Pakistan

There is so much to write about Pakistani food but I will write about rice, which is the most popular food in the whole world next to potatoes. Since Pakistan has so many different ethnicities, everyone has different style of cooking.
In the state of Sindh sea food is produced because of coastal line and they use a lot of spice. In another state called Punjab, a lot of spices and lentils are produced and they cook their food with a lot of spice, too. While in Baluchistan is famous for barbecued pit, while in northern pakistan fresh and dry fruits are produced and they use spice for aromatic touch for cooking.
Rice is a very popular and lovable food in Pakistan. Some of the famous dishes of rice are polao, biryani which can be cooked with chicken, beef, mutton or vegetable. Biryani is basically cooked all over Pakistan.
Polao which is also cooked with mutton, beef, chicken or peas is also very famous all over Pakistan, but beef or mutton polao is very popular in the northern side of Pakistan.
In a tribal area of northern Pakistan there is another rice dish they cook which is called dum-pukh.They filled the whole sheep, goat or lamb (mostly lamb) with rice and some spice and then roast the whole thing on open fire like woods in camping.

People in Baluchistan have another kind of rice dish which is called saji while in the coastal area the like boiled white rice with fish.

There is another dish of rice is zarda which is basically sweet rice and famous in whole Pakistan.
Ingredients for zarda (yellow sweet rice)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 12 strands of saffron
- 1\2 cup coconut
- 1\4 tsp. yellow food coloring
- 1\2 cup ghee
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch stick cinnamon
- 1\2 tsp. cardamom seeds
2 cups sugar
- 1\4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/4 cup chopped almond
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1tsp kewra essence, diluted or 1\4 tsp., if concentrated
- Silver leaves (varak) for decoration, option

How to cook
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
<!--[endif]-->1. Rinse rice well; soak it in cold water for about 30 minutes and drain. Place saffron threads into two tablespoons of boiling water and allow soaking for 10 minutes. Soak coconut in water for few hours, until soft. Then thinly slice it.
2. In a large, heavy skillet bring plenty of water to boil. Add washed rice, cardamom seeds and yellow color, bring it back to boil, reduce heat and cook for about 12-15 minutes until the rice are almost cooked, Drain and keep aside.
3. Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan; add cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Stirring all the time, fry them for a couple of minutes. Add sugar and milk. Bring to boil simmer for few minutes.
4. Add rice, lemon juice, saffron water, Stir gently, cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add pistachio nut, almond, raisins, coconut and kewra essence, stir gently and cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat and cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the moisture from sugar has evaporated.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and decorate with silver leaf.
Serve warm.
Any one can buy these ingredients on
Devon Street
in any Pakistani grocery store. You can also eat the dishes in Pakistani restaurants like usmania, sabri or Khyber Pass in Chicago down town in Hyatt regency hotel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chinese Food

Living in America it is hard to have delicious Chinese food in restaurant or at home. That always makes me miss the delicious food in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, you can always taste different kinds of Chinese food.

The foods from north side of China, the tastes are with heavy seasoning. And also most of time they will eat dumplings (Jiao Zi) and noodle. They love spicy too.

Beijing Roast Duck is a unique dish. They peeled up the skin with thin slices meat. When you eat, you need to use a thin tortillas rolled up with duck slices, hoisin sauce, spring onions and cucumbers. Yum

For the foods from south side of China (Guan Dong), people eat simple and light tasty dishes. I liked to have Dim Sum with my family or friends in Sunday morning in Hong Kong. We drank tea and ate Dim Sum. There are so many choices, like shrimp dumplings, pork dumpling, egg tart, steam bun stuff with roast pork, rice roll with shrimp, roast pork or beef, bake seafood tart….

Steam rice top with salty duck
Rice noodle with fish balls and seaweed. There are millions of street foods in Hong Kong. My favorite one is egg puffs. That reminds me when I was little; I always eat this for snack. And also the seafood in Hong Kong are very fresh and yummy too.

There are so many delicious Hong Kong Chinese foods, can’t type anymore because that makes me really hungry. I have to get some yummy food to eat.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


On Sunday was Easter. We like this religion holiday very much. Our family went to Chicago. The weather was nice in the morning but windy. First we stopped on the beach of the Lake Michigan.

After that we went to Willis Tower - the highest building in Chicago. It has 103 floors, 450 meters. We observed city and made a movie, but the weather became worse, cloudy and rainy. We could not see far, like in the good weather. But when sunny, you can see not only all Chicago, but 4 states of USA. The biggest surprise for us was glass balcony. We took photos.

We spent two hours and were very happy with this visit. We rested and received good feelings about the experience.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring break

Finally spring break is over and children are back in school. It was a busy week. All we did was cleaning and cooking. My kids were asking to invite friends over. I said ,'Well you can, but only if you clean up your closets and rooms really good."

So they did it and I arranged a party for them and invited my friends over, too. Most of my friends have kids same age as my kids. The kids play together while we mothers prepared our traditional Pakistani food while chatting.It was fun having them over.

I also made doctors appointment and took the kids to their doctor for their physical check up for the coming school year. It is interesting that in Pakistan we don't have to do that in order to send kids to school, but I think its better to have them checked by a doctor even if they are not sick.

The weather was very nice during the whole spring break, but in the end, we had a rain storm. It is unusually warm for this time of period, and I like it because we have usually warm weather in Pakistan and I am used to it.

Wonderful Spring Break

It was really nice to have a break and spent some good time with family.

This spring break, my family and I went on an eight days road trip from Chicago to South Carolina.

On our trip, we drove through eight states which started from Illinois and continue on through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Indiana.

Our first stop was Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We joined a two-hour tour to discover the cave. The tour name is New Entrance Tour. So we entered the cave by the New Entrance which is on top of the cave. When we went in, we couldn't see anything. It was very dark inside. My favorite part of this tour is the Frozen Niagara. See picture below.

Second stop was Smokey Mountain. Because of the rain, when drove up to the highest point of the Smokey Mountain, we couldn't enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain. All we saw was fog around us. And we saw snow too.

Our next stop was Myrtle Beach. Too bad it was not a good time. It was cloudy, windy and cold. So we couldn't enjoy the water.

The next day the weather was beautiful. We went to Charleston, South Carolina. We took a ferry boat ride to Fort Sumter where the Civil war began. After the tour we drove around Charleston’s old town. We saw rainbow row there the houses line up in rainbow color. Then we visited The Market on Market Street. There were a lot people selling all kinds of stuff like clothes, scarves, jewels, paintings, rock paintings…. But the special one is some African American women using dry straws making baskets, bowl, vase and flowers in the market. The products are really beautiful. They all are hand made in front of people.

The following day we went to Atlanta in Georgia. We visited World of Coca Cola. There we learned Coca Cola’s history and all the products that Coca Cola make around the world. We watched 4D movie which is Search for Secret Ingredient. It was a fun movie. After that we got to taste all the drinks that they make all around the world. Some of them taste very good, but some of them I don't like. One of my favorite is from Asia which is Watermelon flavor.

My Spring Break

Spring is where flowers start blossoming and every plant comes to life with color. Spring is a very beautiful season. Over break, there was really nice weather and there was also a day where it was raining and after that, the grass turned bright green which makes me excited and reminds me of my early life back in Pakistan.When I was in school and college every year at the spring time there was an exhibition of flowers specially of a flower named gul- e-dawoody. It is a flower of every color and shape which resembles a carnation.

I also saw a lot of trees with buds on them, but being a mom these reminded me of spring sales in stores. I went to a lot of stores during break as well. I bought a lot of clothes for my kids and it was really tiring because my daughter is very picky with what she wears,because of our cultural differences she has to look for the clothes that covers the whole body.

Overall, I thought that this spring break was good. I can’t wait for summer because it will be school break and the beautiful weather will invite us to go out and have some summer fun because in Illinois the summer time is very short.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nicknames, pet names, apodos

Inspired by Carrie at Bilingual in the Boonies, (in the video below), our group reflected on nicknames. Please see the posts below.

Nicknames in Chinese

In Chinese, we call nicknames 綽號 (Chuo Hao). In my family my mom’s nick name is YUE (月) means moon. And my brother is JIAN (堅) which means strong. And one of my aunts is call LIU (六) which means six that is because she is the 6th sibling in the family. My other aunt is call FEI(肥) because she was chubby when she was born.

People give other people nicknames based on how they look or what they like, such as chubby baby is XIAO PANG ZI (小胖子), beautiful little girl is XIAO MEI REN (小美人), baby is BAO BAO (寶寶), tall guy GAO LAO (高佬).

When I was still in high school, one of my best friends liked to eat fish roll very much. At that time in a cartoon show, there was a lion dog (SHI ZI GOU) who like that fish roll, too. So we called my friend Shi Zi Gou (獅子狗). She wouldn't mind. Even now we still call her that funny name.

How about you? Do you have any funny nickname to share?

Nickname from Russia

My name is Elena. This name is found from old Greek "Helene" and means "sunlight" or "bright".

This name was very popular during the 1960s and 70s. This name has different variations: Elen, Helen, Gelena. In Russia there are variations: Al'ona, Ol'ona (short form L'ena, L'ol'a).

In Russia names have full (official) forms and nicknames. For example: Ekat'erina = Kat'a, Elizav'eta = Liza, Al'eksandr = Sasha, Ivan = Vania. But some names have only one form, for example: V'ra, Zoia, Igor', Ol'eg.

Moreover, Russian languae uses different forms of nicknames depending on the emotions, relationships: pet names and rude forms. For example, my nickname is L'ena, pet names are L'enochka, L'enus'a, L'enus'ka, L'enok. The rude form is L'enka. These formes are formed with suffix -k (Kat'ka, Lizka, Sashka, Van'ka). The pet names are formed with suffixes - ochk/ -echk, -on'k/-en'k (V'erochka, Vaniechka, Lizon'ka, Katien'ka).

Pakistani Nicknames

Nick names are very common in Pakistan. In almost every home in Pakistan people are called by their nick names.

Their are different reasons to nickname people in Pakistan. For example, older people are nicknamed for respect. Usually younger people don't call their older siblings and other relatives by their real names, so they call them by a nickname. Some very common nicknames for an older sister are 'Baji' and 'appa'. An older brother is usually called 'Bhai' or bhaijan'.

Younger people like children are nicked named, too. They have cute names which reflects their personalities. I call my youngest ' bul bul'. Bul bul is a bird with a sweet voice. I call him 'bul bul' because he tweets like a bird all the time.

In some parts of Pakistan, brides are given a nickname after they join their new family. I remember when I got married and joined my husband's family. All the youngsters of his family gathered round me and asked me what name would I like for them to call me. They suggested a few names, and I picked one. Now they call me by that, and I am so used to that name that it seems almost like my real name.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cultural Nicknames

In Pakistan there are people of many kinds of ethnicity and languages, but one thing is common in that people of every aspect of life have different nicknames. I am from northern part of Pakistan, so I will write about my side of nicknames.

We have different kind of nicknames for older people, children, relatives, non relatives and of course for male and female. These nicknames are used as a sign of respect and love for the people. At the same time, some nicknames are used as a joke for just once and then it becomes the permanent name of the person.

I will give one example of a guy who lives close to my mother-in-law's house and whose nickname is Sut, which means neck, but his real name is Israr which means insist or who never gives up (but he gives up his name) . Every one knows him by this nickname because in his past days, probably in his childhood, he said some funny stuff about his neck and at that time of his friends starting to call him by that name. Now, as a 50-year-old, he is recognized by his nickname.

We call our father's side of uncles kaka gee and mother's side of uncles is mama gee. In same way, we call the wives of the respective uncles chachee and mamee.

In similar manner, some call their grandmother naney, aney bebey or amagee and for the grandfather babagee, dagee. Moms usually call kids or youngsters by the name of bachey (kiddos or baby), which is very popular for older people to call youngsters. Other nicknames that are very commonly used by parents or grandparents to their kids are qurban (beloved), laliya (sweetheart), da zra sra (piece of my heart) and so on.

If you are reading my post, I will be glad to see your comments and hear about your cultural nicknames.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

US citizenship

Becoming a US citizen is every immigrant's dream. There is no exception to me too.

I still remembered that day I went to the Oath ceremony. There were more than hundred immigrants who passed the interview and came to the Oath ceremony.

Everyone was very happy and excited because after the ceremony, we would all be US citizens. Some of them even brought the whole family to witness that important moment. But I was by myself because my husband was at home taking care of our kids.

After the Oath ceremony, I got my US citizenship naturalization certification. And I registered to vote. This is one of the US citizen's rights. Now I have right to vote for the senators and also the US president too. That makes me feel I'm really a part of America.

Questions about US citizens

I ask these questions, becouse I want to compare your opinion with mine. Moreover, these problems are interesting for me, because they are important in my old country too.

1. What traits of American people do you like?
2. What can you tell me about most important problems of American society or life?
3. Is higher education prestigous in USA?
4. Can you name three most prestigous professions in USA?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Becoming a U.S citizen.

I got my U.S citizenship in 2002. I remember, it was an exciting day. I was excited to be a U.S citizen, but at the same I was sad to lose my Pakistani citizenship. You can't have dual citizenship because it is against American law.

I decided to become a U.S citizen because my husband and my children were already citizens and we would probably live in the U.S for the rest of our lives. In my heart , I think of myself as a citizen of both Pakistan and America. It seemed a little bit weird to visit my country on a visa after becoming a U.S citizen. Because visiting my own country where I lived for most of my life , as a foreigner was kind of painful. I wish we could keep both citizenships at the same time as some other countries allow that. I will be faithful to Pakistan and America both.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A brand new life!

Today is Chinese New Year that reminded me about thirteen years ago. I was celebrating Chinese New Year with my family and friends back in Hong Kong. But today I celebrated with my own family in America. Things are totally different. I still remember that day,I left Hong Kong. All my family and friends came to airport to say goodbye to me and my husband. At that moment, I was sad, nervous, excited and happy.

I felt sad because I had to leave my family, friends and the place I grew up. I felt nervous because I was going to live in a country that speaks different language and has a different lifestyle. But I was happy and excited because I was going to start a brand new life and live with a man who loves me so much.

By the time the airplane landed in Chicago, I knew I was going to face a lot of challenges and have a new adventure. Just couple weeks later, I felt homesick. I was really missing my family and friends in Hong Kong. I missed the delicious Chinese food even though we had dinner in Chinatown every week. But the taste is still not the same.

When my husband went to work, I got lonesome at home. I didn't have any kids at that time. Therefore, the telephone let me reconnect with my family and friends again. TV was good entertainment for me and also helped me listen and understand more English.

I went Chinatown's grocery stores to make Chinese food recipes that make satified my taste-buds.

In order to comprehened to the new life faster in America, first I have to improve my English skills in talking and listening. So I went to ESL class. In the class I was not only learning English, I also made friends from other countries too. Second, I have to get used to the freezing cold and snowy weather in Chicago. Hong Kong's weather is warm in winter and is hot and humid in summer.

In retrospect, I'm lucky to have my husband to encourage, support and take care of me. I'm proud of myself been gone through those difficult times. Now I have a happy family with two lovely boys. I really enjoy my peaceful life in America.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My First Visit to the USA

This story is about my first visit to the USA.
I came here with my daughters in November 2009. One month later my kids started studying in school and I sturted to study English in January. Now it's difficult for me to write about my feelings in this new country, because I have only lived here for 3 months. I like the education that my kids are getting. I like the living conditions. I am glad that my family (my husband and my kids) are finally all together. The past 12 years my husband was living here without us and sometimes he came to St.Petersburg to visit us. Now I think I'm happy, although life is not easy. I hope that it will be all good in the future.

Becoming a US citizen

After moving to America the next big decision was to become a US citizen. Becoming a US citizen is not some one step procedure. The first step is the applying for the citizenship through proper application, and then having to wait for the approval. I do not remember how long it took but it was not some days or weeks of waiting, but it took months.

After I received approval I had to go through background checking and fingerprinting to make sure that I am an innocent person. It was very strange for me and it was the first time I experienced that kind of a treatment.

The best part was the interview, but at the time I was very nervous and puzzled, because everything was new for me. The interview basically consisted of some questions which were about present and past of US government and history and some words or sentence of writing English. The person who was leading the whole process was very nice and my nervousness was gone after a while. We talked about a lot of fun stuff, like he asked me if watched a lot of soap operas because he knew that I was a house wife. At that time it was a very funny question for me but later on I realized that it was a part of interview.

After all that, I had to wait for the oath which is basically the last part.months after the interview, a US judge gave the oath and then everyone was handed over a US citizenship certificate which is a proof of US citizenship.

It was almost a five years process but I was happy that whole thing was finished and my husband took me to dinner for a treat.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coming to America

I moved to America from Pakistan about ten years ago. I still remember that day. I had mixed emotions. I was sad to leave my country and family behind but I was also excited to start a new life with my husband and children in USA.

When I moved to USA, it took me some time to get used to American accent. I knew a little bit of English, but I was not used to American accent. That is why it was hard to communicate. I couldn't understand the news even though I knew how to read English. I was more used to Pakistani British kind of English.

Some common words used in American English were unusual for me. Like I heard a child asking another child ''Are you mad?" To me mad meant crazy, so I thought that was disrespectful, but when the other child replied calmly "No, I am not.'' I realized that the word "mad "meant something else. I found out later it meant angry.

After a few weeks, I started feeling home sick. I just wanted to go back and see my mom and siblings. I called them everyday and our telephone bill was huge. My husband understood my feelings but was not happy with the huge bill. Not visiting my family for so long was hard. I started feeling loneliness. In Pakistan I had more of a social life. It took me almost two years to get used to living in America. Now ten years later I am quite comfortable living here. I learned English language quite a bit. Now I can communicate easily.

America for the First Time

1995 was the year when I came to America for the first time. That was a very exciting time for me because I was young and energetic and at the time I had two young children, one was almost three years old and the other was only 6 months old, now they are 18 and 15. I was so eager to see a new country, but still saying goodbye to my family was very hard. It was the first time that I would have a life without my parents and other family members, but the thought of the new adventure that I would start in not only in new country, but in new continent, gave me the courage to start a new life without my parents.

I used to watch English movies back in my country, and I had a small idea that how the United States and its people are. For example, I used to watch the TV show CHiPs in which they showed the highway in the beginning and I was so amazed with the highway system. When I saw it in person I was gleefully surprised to see that it was exactly like the TV show.

Though the roads were a familiar sight, America was a totally different culture and environment for me. However, when I used to see something familiar that always reminded me of the movies, I felt pleased. I was also very amazed with so many lush green trees on every street.

Basically I don’t remember the exact feelings because I am used to living in this country for a long time now, and the life is still going on. I recognize my feelings and emotions will keep changing for the rest of my life, but I hope to have a nice and peaceful life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

About Us

I am a Pakistani immigrant and I came to America in 1995.
I have three kids, and am a housewife.
I hope I will learn something that beneficial for me and my family's life. (inshallah)

My name is Baran. I am from Pakistan. I am a mother of 4. I have been living in Skokie, Illinois for past ten years.

I'm a stay home mom from Hong Kong. I've been in U.S.A. for more than ten years. I have two boys. Other than take care of my family, I like to do cross stitch in my spare time.

My name is Elena. I am from Russia, from Saint-Petersburg. I am living in USA for 3 months. I am living in Skokie. I am not working now. Now I am studying English. I have 3 kids: my youngest daughters are 12 and 6. They are studying in the school in Skokie. My oldest daughter is 20. She is studying in St.-Petersburg in university.

I am a Haitian women I have been in america for 5 years. I have a daugther . Before l lived at Philadelphia now I am in Chicago for 1 year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Welcome to our new blog. In this a blog a group of women from all over the world who now live in the United States will be sharing their stories and adventures.

Please join us.