We have owned our home for a little more than a year. At this time last year we were in the middle of an intense remodel, having torn out the entire kitchen and 1st floor bathroom. I hope to make a post about it some day but I just get overwhelmed at the idea right now.

Before this, I only ever owned a condo, so there were limits on what I could do. Now my limits revolve more around two toddlers and my energy levels, but we have done a lot to our home in a short time, and it kind of feels like we’ve been here forever. Which is super strange. Who knew I was going to move back in to the neighborhood where I grew up? Down the street from my parents? (Which has been a huge blessing!) It is still surreal.

Marzieh on the sled hill near our house. She loves running up to the top by herself.

So much has changed since my last posts. I am finally working weddings again, as of July, albeit with masks and as much distancing as I can. I have about 1 wedding per month. I updated my business website and have steadily been booking for next year. Shea works from home most of the time and I am grateful for his presence.

The girls are growing so fast. Marzieh is 2.5 and talks like a kid much older. Her memory is incredible…and she loves stories about her day and past experiences she has had. “One day…” Marguerite manages to communicate a lot with very few words. Her current favorites are “bagel” and “earring”, but she is still really into lots of sound effects and pointing to ensure we understand what she wants. She wants to do everything her sister does, and is very mischievous.

We are facing down another winter indoors, which is exhausting to contemplate, but we’re just not comfortable going many places until the girls can get their vaccines, especially since Marguerite is too young to wear a mask. Trying to figure out ways to minimize the strain on my mental health!

Continue Reading

Hello Fall

I decided to try to blog while nursing, because that is my only dedicated time to silence and forced sitting. I dislike typing on my phone but that is the only way this will happen.

The trees are starting to be tipped with yellow and red around here, and the first leaves are falling. I haven’t had a front door to decorate since I lived at home in high school, so this year I got to decorate our new home and my parents home. I limited most of the decor to things I could find laying around (like logs, candles, baskets, etc), and under $50 of things like hay, pumpkins, and sorghum stalks. It was fun!

Now I am trying to think of Halloween costumes, mostly for the photos, because the girls are too young for anything else, and because there is still a pandemic happening and we can’t go door to door or have parties anyway.

I often take the girls on 1 or 2 daily walks, and it can take me a few minutes to get out the door (need to grab all the things!). Now with the weather turning cool, I will have to dress them with additional layers, which is like wrestling a little octopus while their sibling stands by the door yelling “Mama, outdoor!” But I will continue to walk because otherwise I will go crazy. Wish me luck!

Continue Reading

What day is it?

So we’re 6 months (182 days) into this pandemic, and have been staying at my parent’s place this whole time. Shea is lucky enough to be able to work from home, so 4 adults and 2 kids are here together. I’m so grateful my parents have taken us in. Though I miss the city and my life there…the life I had is pretty much gone. Walking to stores and restaurants with two babies during a pandemic is no longer an adventure, it is just stressful.

Marguerite made it out of the NICU in 2 weeks post-birth, thank God, and while I was a little concerned about her (she was 5 weeks early), she has gained weight like a champ and nurses…a lot. I’m exhausted but happy with her reaching her 3 month birthday so healthy. She is smiling a lot and starting to make noises in response to us.

Marzieh at 16 months loves her little sister and gives her kisses and hugs at every opportunity. She doesn’t know her own strength so I have to watch them constantly. She says “shh shh” and brings burp cloths and pacifiers to baby sister. This week she started calling her “Mar”, instead of “shh shh”, so that is an improvement. She will put her hands up in a questioning pose if she can’t find something or someone, or if she hides a toy under a cloth as a game. She also plays hide and seek with us.

This sums up their personalities so far.

We bought a house last week (4 blocks from my parents, out in the suburbs of Chicago), and over the course of 4 days Shea did demo work on the first floor so we can have our contractor come in and build everything up from scratch. I am the project manager of this remodel, and it’s nice to be doing something that engages my brain.

The only reason I could sit down to write this post is that both of my children have been sleeping for 2 hours (by some miracle). I find it challenging to type on the phone in a way that is satisfying for writing my thoughts. Talk to text just ends up frustrating me. Most of the times that I’m sitting, I’m nursing, so it doesn’t lend itself well to writing blog posts.

Continue Reading

Marguerite Sanii Munion

Marguerite Sanii Munion was born in early June (5 weeks before her due date). She has had a little extra time in the hospital to grow and is doing well. We are so grateful for all of the love and prayers from our friends and family!

Continue Reading


After so many years of blogging, recent years have shown me that my desire to write has diminished – probably because I have been busy with lots of other things! But this is a chance to write down what I’m experiencing as the days blend into each other and I lose track of things.

We are heading into our 3rd week of social distancing (physical distancing?) out at my parent’s home in the suburbs. There is more room for my daughter to run around and for us to go on walks without running into people. Our 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago is comfortable, but quite restricted. Also, Marzieh is 11 months old and climbing stairs already, so she gets to have way more fun with her aunt and grandparents than with just me and Shea! Luckily, Shea can work from home so he focuses on that during the week.

I’ve been doing a lot of video conferencing – for clients, Baha’i activities (Feast, study circles, assistants meetings, etc), and just to connect with friends. Marzieh joins me occasionally.

Outside, all the time.

At the end of February I had just pulled myself out of several months of depression. I figured out that I was feeling lonely while staying home, even though I have some client work, and need regular social interaction and opportunities to leave the house. A small portion of it may have been hormonal, too. Marzieh stopped breastfeeding at 6.5 months (around when I got pregnant) and that can really affect you! I had just set up a schedule of spending time with friends and leaving the house with Marzi when the pandemic hit. I’ve managed to stave off the depression so far with keeping busy, and it helps to be with my family, but it comes and goes in waves.

I’ve discovered that keeping a regular schedule is really important: eat breakfast first thing, shower, and have tasks to do each day. Obviously chasing Marzieh around takes a lot of time but I have help so I’m lucky. And being 25 weeks pregnant, I’ve discovered that I really need to nap more often. I recognize the privilege that I have here and the fact that I don’t have to work, and I’m grateful for it.

Continue Reading

July 2020!

We waited a long time for Marzieh to join our family, and then, when she was about 6 months old, I got pregnant! I didn’t know for the first two months, so when I finally figured it out it was a huge and welcome surprise for all of us. It’s a little surreal but now we’re at the point where she is kicking me a lot and I’ve had the ultrasounds, so it’s very exciting.

My friend Chantal Pryor is a great photographer who happens to live in my building and captured these photos a few months ago for our announcement. Marzieh is going to be a big sister!

Continue Reading

And suddenly 6 months go by…

It’s hard to believe that I had a baby nearly 7 months ago. So many things have happened since then. I quit my full time job after many years of non-stop work, immediately got hired to work as the event planner for an amazing corporate client that had an event in NYC, joined industry networking groups, planned several weddings, incorporated my business into a LLC and got on several preferred vendor lists at venues…the list goes on. Marzieh (my daughter) is a truly joyful baby with good sleep habits and a healthy appetite for food and play, and we don’t sit at home very much, even as it gets colder outside.

At my event in NYC – they had a great backdrop created by artists in residence!

My plan is to spend the winter working on my business, collaborating with other event industry vendors on various projects, and traveling. I’ve already got several trips lined up with the family so we’ll be busy with that over the next few months.

Continue Reading

We waited for you

I watched the sunset from the window of the hospital

The day before you were born

As your father fed me dinner

And we waited for you

Because we had been waiting years for you

We had been dreaming for years for you

The room got darker and we waited for you.

The lines of coral and pink and orange

Shot through dark clouds

And we waited for you.

Continue Reading

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago I got married to this wonderful person. I arrived at the venue with traditional Persian cookies in hand, and dishes, and started setting up at my own wedding. My mother-in-law arrived and took that task over from me so that I could get dressed, and my parents surprised us with a wedding cake. The weather was perfect that day, although my meeting planner self had a hard time letting go of all the things. I remember the look on Shea’s face when he saw me before the ceremony. I remember Shea and I hiding from the guests in the back of the country club, talking and waiting. I remember him calming me down when I got worked up about all of the photos. I remember our hands going numb from holding hands during the ceremony and our chairs being too far apart, but I couldn’t let go. I remember him surprising me with a kiss after we said our Baha’i marriage vows. I remember my grandfather giving Shea advice (to always laugh) after the ceremony. I remember eating several plates of food because we had breakfast for dinner and it was so good. I remember dancing the entire evening until I broke the bustle on my dress.

The last five years have been amazing. I’m so lucky.

Continue Reading

Happy Naw-Ruz!

Finally decided to put together a Haft-Sin. This is a Persian cultural tradition (not a Baha’i one) and I always loved gathering the items and putting it together as a kid. I can’t tell you what most of it symbolizes but it reminds me of home. Happy new year! #persian

Continue Reading

Happy Naw-Ruz!

Happy Naw-Ruz!This is our first Naw-Ruz (Baha’i New Year) together as a married couple. Around this time last year we were talking to our families about getting married, so it is doubly wonderful to celebrate it with friends, family, and the Baha’i community. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people, to live in a community where we can serve the Faith, and to work in jobs where we are valued and treated well.

I often wish that my blog could be a better record of what our life is like, and as I was writing the above, Shea started singing “Do your ears hang low?” from the kitchen as he made us tea, in a very 1950s-Christmas-carol voice. This is the kind of thing that he does on a daily basis that makes me laugh, and I hope that I do the same for him.

(I asked his permission to share the above, obviously. God bless him for knowing what he was getting into by marrying a blogger!)

Continue Reading


there is a perfect moment of silent bliss
when my head falls to your shoulder
and the train shudders on the track
and the world stands still for us


when you surprise me with the tiniest thing
tell me to close my eyes
and I know you remember.


we made it this far
(I have no idea where the time went)
half a trip around the sun.

Continue Reading

First Thanksgiving together

I love Thanksgiving. Everything about it. This year we got to have 2 Thanksgivings, on different days, and it was great. I can’t even look at ham or turkey anymore, though. I had my sister-in-law’s help with the first round, and we split the making of the side dishes so it wasn’t quite as much work. We were still cooking most of the day, though.

Thanksgiving 2013 #1: sister-in-law & brother-in-law’s home

The spread, minus the turkey. Mmm.

Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, regular stuffing, gravy, honey almond carrots, brussels sprouts with pecans,  wild rice stuffing, and cornbread.

The turkey, prepared, cooked, and carved by my husband (20 lbs!):
The turkey

Turkey carving. #firstthanksgiving

I made a lot of gluten free pie from scratch last week. GF Pie crust is super time-consuming but it was worth it. (I used this recipe, if you want to know, but with real butter.) I made pumpkin and blueberry.
Pie!! I have been cooking all day but everything is in containers for tomorrow.



Thanksgiving 2013 #2 – at our “Munion Palace” as I’ve named it on Instagram. 😉

2nd Thanksgiving meal

Ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, gravy, and honey almond carrots. And pie, of course.

Continue Reading


MC at Greenlake Baha'i ConferenceI have been reflecting on the events of the last year, since March 21, 2012. It has been an absolute roller coaster. There have been challenges beyond my expectations, heartbreak, joy, travel, a beautiful summer, love, and a lot of laughter. I worked on one of the biggest events I’ve ever coordinated (the Centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the United States), was a MC at a Baha’i conference, attended several other conferences (including a session at Louhelen with Mr. Nakhjavani), attended weddings, celebrated the birth of so many babies I’ve lost count, grieved the loss of family members, facilitated a youth group, began learning how to be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, worked on a never-ending Wilmette Baha’i archives project…

I wandered my city in rain, wind, sun, and love. Mostly in love.

At Green Lake

It has been proven to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing family and friends that this earth has to offer.

I have learned that people can be exceptionally cruel and not even understand that what they have done is wrong.

I have been validated in my feelings and told that I am loved.

I know that I need to be in warm, sunny weather to keep my spirits up to my normal state of existence.

I have taken greater risks this year than I ever have before.

I will never, ever let people tell me that my joyful exuberance needs to be reined in. And I will do my best to make sure that my actions allow others to feel no judgement, and to feel welcomed in my circle.

In Monterey, by the aquarium

To everyone in my life, thank you for this beautiful existence that we share.
I love you very much, and I wish you a very happy Naw-Rúz (Baha’i New Year).

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving: Part 2

Well, it took me more than a week after Thanksgiving to write this post, but my excuse is that I was recovering from the awesome food that I ate. 😉

I spent the evening before Thanksgiving cooking at my condo. By cooking, I mean “going crazy and using every stove burner, the oven, and all available counter space” to make everything at once. Ok, so I’m ambitious. I concentrated on side dishes and dessert, since mom was taking care of the meat. The result:

Prep night for Thanksgiving


There were: mashed potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, cranberry-apple sauce, gluten free stuffing & gravy, gluten free pumpkin pie, regular pumpkin and blueberry pies. The blueberry pie was very pretty, and since it was the first time I had made pie crusts from scratch (in recent memory, anyway), it was quite the endeavor to pull it all off.

Blueberry pie made from scratch

I then drove an hour out to my parents house on Thanksgiving morning and did the final prep work to get everything on the table by 1:00 pm. (Mom’s turkey was awesome, btw.) The final result of food was incredible, and the family had a lovely time eating for the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving at my parents house

I really loved helping take on so much more of the cooking. It helped me feel more ownership and enjoy the process a little more (as well as appreciate how exhausting it is). If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a lovely holiday.

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving: Part 1

I am feeling ambitious this year. I offered to help my mother cook some things in advance to alleviate the burden of cooking the giant meal. Our family, despite having a Persian element to some of our cooking, does the “traditional” American Thanksgiving meal. As it should be. 🙂

I will be documenting my adventures this evening, culminating in photos of the table tomorrow at my parents house. I am trying a few things I have never done before…so it may get messy!

Continue Reading

Happy Father’s Day!

Dad and I caught a toad each!Dad, you always taught me to be independent, to do all the things guys are expected to do, but to do them in my own way. You encouraged me to climb trees, taught me how to paint and which kinds of tools to use, patiently waited when I couldn’t decide which outfit to wear, and signed me up for business classes in high school…which sent me on a path that I couldn’t even forsee then.

You still catch frogs with me, you still listen when I’m having a bad day, and you still tell me what kinds of trees we are passing when we take a walk. You’re the only father I know that dares his kids to jump into a freezing river in the Appalachians, or who knows how to explain a complex scientific paper in terms that his 12 year old daughter will understand.

me and dad

Thank you for letting me be your little girl but helping me to grow up, for being an example of what good men should be like. Thank you for working so hard to make sure I got an education, for putting food on the table and for taking care of our family. I know that I am lucky to have you as a father.


Continue Reading

My response to Ahmadinejad

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times interviewed the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and one of the questions he asked was about the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran (which I haven’t seen much from other recent interviews, so thank you, Nicholas). Ahmadinejad’s answer, as with most of his interviews, was to slide around the question by asking more questions and being very vague.

Ahmadinejad implied that Baha’is are possibly a political or intelligence security group, that they break the law, and then brought the American hikers into it at the end. The entire answer was ridiculous, and shows how little logic enters the equation when it comes to human rights in Iran.

Ahmadinejad: Do you even know the group that you name? Do you know their makeup? Are they a religious group? A truly faithful group? Or a political group? Or an intelligence security group? Let’s make sure they are all named? Let’s make sure they all come forward. Let’s see their true makeup.

Sir, the Baha’is of the world have never tried to hide. We have always been exactly what we claim to be: followers of a peaceful religion that abide by the laws of the countries in which we live, who are endeavoring to foster community life and bring about peace. In every part of the world, you will find Baha’is doing all of these things openly, with love for their fellow human beings.

Since the very beginning of our Faith, the Baha’is have been persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, killed, banned from education, removed from their homes, and had property confiscated and destroyed. Our holy places in Iran have been razed to the ground, and our graves desecrated.

My great-uncle and his son were put to death because of their faith. I have never been to the country of my mother’s birth, it is my lost home. I love Iran, and I have never been there. Think of how great Iran could be if you let all of these innocents live freely, if you let children be educated whose only aim in life is to serve humankind.

There are Baha’is in prison at this moment whose only transgression is to try to help their fellow human beings, for believing in the same God that you believe in. There are many minorities in Iran who suffer, for no purpose except fanatical hatred and fear on the part of the government and clerics.

This is the true crime.

Continue Reading

The flight home

In my last post I told the story of my adventures in mud on the way to my grandfather’s funeral in March. Well, my grandmother gave my sister and I some of Granddaddy’s tennis racquets. The one I was given had a wood frame around it to keep it from twisting from the force of the strings, and it is probably around 40 or 50 years old.

Granddaddy's tennis racquetI arrived at the airport about an hour before my flight, but when I went to the counter to get my boarding pass I was informed that my flight is delayed. Also, since I only had a carry on, I couldn’t fit the racquet into the suitcase, so the racquet had to be my carry-on and I had to pay $25 to check my suitcase. The gate agent felt sorry for me and upgraded me to economy plus.

As I had several hours to kill, I wandered around the Atlanta airport with my gigantic purse slung over my shoulder and an odd-looking tennis racquet in my hand. Now, I find it a bit strange that I can’t take water or a miniature Swiss army knife on a plane, but a tennis racquet with a solid wood frame bolted onto it doesn’t get a second glance from security…

Anyway, I had so many random conversations with people because of that racquet. Most of them were older folks who remembered playing tennis with a racquet like that when they were kids. I know I must have looked rather strange with that thing, riding the transit system and placing it carefully on the seat next to me where ever I was.

I am lucky to have a lot of paintings that my grandparents created, but I don’t have a lot of personal items from them, and it felt nice to have that racquet with me, almost a companion in my travels.

Continue Reading

Goodbye, Granddaddy

On Monday night I received a call at 10 pm that my paternal grandfather, Richard Loehle, had passed away. He was 87 years old and was a successful artist and writer from Georgia. My home is full of his paintings and those of my grandmother Betty. They met in art school in the 1940s in Tennessee, lived in Chicago and Georgia, and supported their family of 4 children through their art.

I was about 1 month old in this photo with my grandparents. Since I was the first grandchild, I received a lot of attention from them.
1 month old, with my grandparents

When I was little, we lived 3 hours away, so I had many opportunities to spend time with them. In this photo, I am with my grandfather in the family room of their home.
having a conversation

Granddaddy taught me how to build things, and he loved explaining how things worked. I remember when he and my dad built a swingset for us in our backyard, taking walks in the forest behind their house, and catching turtles and crawfish in the creek.
teaching me how to build

Granddaddy was a tough man who lived through the Depression and World War 2, a descendant of German immigrants. He played the trombone in high school, which I then played for a year because I wanted to play the same instrument. We would get into lively discussions about all sorts of topics, from art to books to religion.
Rest in peace, Granddaddy.

Rest in peace, Granddaddy.

(all photos taken by my mother, Neda)
Continue Reading

Joy and sadness

A gathering of souls, meeting to discuss the future, full of excitement. You can see what the world might look like one day, if we strive hard enough.

lens flare

News of my great-aunt’s passing at the age of 94. Maryam Saniei Firouzi, wife and mother of martyrs, servant of the Faith, loved by her entire family. I was able to visit her a few weeks ago, and I know she is now reunited with her family, so my sense of sadness is overtaken with joy that she has been released from this life.

2011-02-08 17.29.32

The sun is finally shining today. Accomplishment in my tasks, the week isn’t over yet but I know that it is all perfect, no matter what.

white sand

Continue Reading

A little late for Ayyam-i-Ha…

I was talking to my hilarious, beautiful cousin Sahar J on the phone a few nights ago (she lives in New York City), and as we talked about how we celebrated Ayyam-i-Ha this year and how the fast is going so far, she mentioned that she has this amazing photo from an Ayyam-i-Ha party in Cardiff by the Sea.

Of course, she is the little girl holding the bat, waiting to hit the pinata.  I love so many things about this photo…the “One Planet, One People…Please” t-shirt, the kid in the glasses who looks like he is going to throw something, the little boy in the checked hat, the guitar-playing guy in the background.  Most of all, I love the look on my cousin’s face as she waits to attack that pinata.

Her smile is a bit more mischievous now, but it isn’t any less adorable!  Thanks for sharing this, Sahar.

Continue Reading

Thank you, mom

we were always on an adventure
there were forests to explore, caverns deep underground
the swimming pool every day in the summer
the country back-roads, boiled peanuts on the way to Charleston
the city streets of Chicago and fireworks at night
every single road trip that took us to 40 states
homemade dinners and giving me a love for cooking
middle of the night conversations by the fireplace
and middle of the day conversations by phone
we are always on an adventure
and for that, I am so grateful.

I love you.

Continue Reading

Here I go!

There is something about traveling…airports, the unknown, the things that my eyes see that are different from everyday life.  And for the life of me, I can’t seem to pack in advance…so I find myself trying to consolidate everything into a suitcase at midnight.  I might have managed, and will have to be content with what I’ve done.

I am going to attend a wedding that I am ecstatic about.  I am going to see friends, both from my service at the Baha’i World Centre and from closer to home.  I am going to stay with my cousin, who is eerily similar to me and who I am very excited to spend time with.  Most of all, I will get out of Chicago for a few days, which is exactly what I need.

Continue Reading

memory boxes: 3

Georgia in the springtime
Magnolia trees
Bell the hound dog
Southern charm and art galleries
Tennis and the swimming pool

Bell was a bad-tempered dog.  I mean, we grew up together, in some ways, so she wasn’t too mean to me, or maybe she sensed that in my innocence, I would pamper her.  She always ran ahead when Granddaddy took us for walks, and would loops back around, nearly knocking me over and scaring me half to death in the dark woods.

My southern accent disappeared, but it struggles to come out from hiding when I am with these relatives.  Natives of Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, half of the family still has the Southern roots strongly grounded in the soil…atheistic roots, for the most part, which made things interesting at times.

Granddaddy and Grandmommy met in art school after World War II, and they made a living on their art throughout their lives.  Granddaddy did illustrations and portraits, Grandmommy painted landscapes.  Our home is filled with their paintings and drawings.

The creek and trees behind their house used to be a dark, cool place full of mystery, but housing developers turned that magical place into a sad stand of pine trees as I grew older.  We caught crawfish and threw them back, and I will never forget my awe at a tire wrapped around a big old tree.

Everything in their house has been in the same place for the last 40 years.  I can still remember where the phone books are, the cereal, the board games, and the cookie drawer.  The furniture is in mostly the same configuration in their ranch home on the top of the hill.

We would play with the neighbor’s kids, and in the summers go to the neighborhood pool, where Grandmommy swam and Granddaddy played tennis.  They did this into their 80s.  They had their 50th Anniversary in the clubhouse there.

Dinner table discussions could almost be guaranteed to turn into a minor debate or intellectual discussion of some kind.  I mostly learned to hold my own, but have never gotten over my dislike of contention, and so did not enjoy them as much as others may have.

I can’t draw.  A cousin recently told me, “This monkey does NOT look like a monkey.”  Hey, best I could do, kid.  I didn’t inherit the ability to capture life on canvas.  My uncle taught me to whistle through my teeth and quack like a duck…thanks for passing on those skills, they’ve been quite handy.

Great-uncle and great-aunt had a wonderful house near a swamp, with a small barn and horses.  Great-aunt would let us ride the horses around the field, and I always felt so loved in their home.  When they passed away, I mourned them in quiet silence.

Grandmommy painted in the basement, and sometimes I would sneak down the long stairs to sneak looks at unfinished paintings, the bright oil paints smeared on painting boards and brushes, and the pile of animal skulls in the corner that my uncle collected in college.

We always came into the house through the kitchen door.  The front door hadn’t been used in so long that there were giant cobwebs around it.  Everything was always casual…I don’t remember any sort of formality in all the years we visited.

Continue Reading

memory boxes: 2


I was born in a hospital on the Mississippi River…but I don’t remember that part of my Minnesota story.  When I was one year old, we left this state, but it has always been a second home, on account of my Persian family members living here.

There was a thunderstorm one night that shook the walls of my grandparent’s apartment.  We all gathered in the hallway, and I remember being scared but strangely exhilarated.

Persian food.  Always a table nearly bending under the weight of platters of rice, khoresht (stew), and the dozen or so side items that go along with such a feast.  The women of my family really know how to cook.  Food is the central activity that makes a family go round.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all in a friendly chaotic shuffle around the extended tables, taking turns in different homes.

We are a mixed family…at least 4 different countries are represented in the 24 individuals that comprise this group.  I love it.  The half-English, half-Persian language that is created in the stories and translations is so normal and comforting.   The generations of the Baha’i Faith within our family go back to the mid-1800s, and also began in the present day.  The extended family has more than 200 members.

Babajoon has a lot of random sayings and advice, and most of my enduring memories of him are of him sitting in a corner with a thick book and his glasses low on his nose.  He would make up songs about putting our seatbelts on in the car, and he is the person from whom I have inherited my social personality.  He knows everyone.

We picked fresh grape leaves in the park, and Mamanjoon taught us to make dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), her hands deftly wrapping the edges around and neatly placing them in the pot.  Mine still don’t look like hers.  Maybe I will be able to do it in 50 years…I just need practice.  She taught us how to sew, starting with sewing buttons on pieces of scrap cloth.

I learned how to dance (Persian style) in the living rooms of my aunts’ homes.  I learned how to cook in my mother’s kitchen, and how to make kabob koobideh (ground meat on a skewer) from a few different relatives over the years.

My cousins and I were bundled into coats so thick that we could barely move, and told to play in the snow by the swing set.  The swing set is gone now…it was a hazard even when I was young.  In the summers we would be pushed around in the go-cart my cousins built, or take walks around the neighborhood.

Continue Reading