Thursday, December 25, 2008

So much for feeling fabulous

I have given up girly in favor of functional for the past 9 years as I have raised little ones. There is no glamour in spit stains after all. I have been slowly getting back to body lotions and nice little grooming products...

So I was taking a long shower the other day, enjoying some new products and the 2 year old woke up and used her potty. Somehow she also knocked my glasses off of the sink INTO THE POTTY!

I learned two things from this experience. 1) There is no glamour in motherhood. 2) Clorox does not produce enough bleach to make you feel good about wearing glasses that have taken a dip in a toilet.

Yeah.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

10,000 hours, what are you doing with them???


I am reading an interesting book; Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. It poses an interesting question about success. Basically, what are the key elements of success. One thing that is discussed caught my attention. The author proposes that the number for being excellent at an activity is set; 10,000 hours. From hockey to computer programming, he found that people who we consider to be gifted in certain areas have all somehow spent more than 10,000 hours practicing their skill with the intention of improving it.

What is that? 1 1/2 hours a day for 20 years. 3 hours a day for 10 years. 6 hours a day for five years. Or, if you are really dedicated… 12 hours a day for a year and about 4 months. So could you, would you, do it?

It has gotten me thinking. We are all 10,000 hours away from being excellent at something we have an aptitude for. Are we willing to spend those 10,000 hours? Apparently, if you want to be a standout in your area you need to find them. And isn’t that crazy when you think about it?

It makes you think that all things are in our reach, if we only try. I’m not saying that you will be rich or famous if you spend that time… But you will have the potential to be. Maybe that’s why so many good writers have given the seemingly simple advice to fledgling authors, “just write every day”. They already knew the 10,000 hours thing even if they weren’t calling it that.

Kinda makes you think twice about that hour you spend in front of the TV huh? You could have memorized the entire Quran, written your first novel, painted your first work of art, built a piece of furniture, whatever you are good at. I think I will be writing for at least an hour every day myself… What about you???

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Salmeh's new friend!


Here is a new doll I made for the baby. I think I am going to try a second one and fix some of the mistakes I made this time. But overall I think she's pretty fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Study Centers



So here are the his and hers study centers for the kids... I have included some more detailed picture's, but basically they are a home for supplies and books that they need for studying. It makes a difference for them because they seem to have the attitude that when you are sitting there you need to be working. The detailed pics are of Aly's desk, but all the same things are on Layla's too.


This is the hutch area where there are little containers for homework and other papers, shelf area for books and the back of it is a bulletin board. You might also notice the little white thing under the shelf, it's one of those under-counter fluorescent lights. I am a big believer in the benefits of proper lighting!LOL Plus, then the light didn't take up desk space. There is also a timer, the kids read for set amounts of time and I find a timer useful for setting up how long it should take to complete a task. Sometimes the kids just seem to do better if there is an expectation of how long something should take.


This is the right hand corner of the desk. The Rubbermaid holds pencils, pens, glue, scissors, colored pencils, post it flags, note pads and star stickers. The calendar is for placing a star on days when they complete all their work. The clock, well the same basically as the timer, time management. And the little silver thing is a digital recorder. I like them for practicing presentations and reading aloud. I can have the kids use them (or sometimes I record something on them that they can play back to memorise) for practicing reading and speaking. They can keep recording and I can listen to their progress when I have a chance. It was DH's idea and it has worked out nicely.


This is the little closed area by the feet, it has a drawer, which I am using for stored papers and a little cubby area where I am putting the workbooks that I am using with them.


This is a little keyboard pull out that I am using for learning game things right now, but will be for laptops in the future, insha'Allah. Layla will get hers at the end of the school year if she reaches certain reading goals, and Aly probably not long after. Layla seems more ready for one right now though. Of course as a dedicated reader, no reading... No laptop. I'm mean like that;)

Anyway, nothing revolutionary... But I promised I'd share so here you go!LOL

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muslims... Please!!!

I will be honest with you. My experiences at masjids have been less than transcendental spiritually fulfilling respites from the world... They have been more like smelling salts that shock me back to the reality of what Muslims today are like in large groups. Now I don't know these sisters and brother's hearts... But I do know their manners. And this Eid was yet another rude awakening to the reality that the ummah here in the US (I don't know maybe everywhere) needs some serious spit shining before we can even claim to represent this deen.

At my insistence we went to Denver to visit family the day before Eid so we would be able to go with them to the Eid prayer. This was the first time in 10 years that I have been in the larger mosque in Denver for the Eid prayer and it was CRAZY.

First, I was sitting on the side since I wasn't praying (ya'll know what I mean) and I tried to line up the older kids close to me on the ends. Sisters kept pushing them this way and that and no one on the edge was making a discernable effort to make a row, so the youngest got all flustered and came to me crying that he had no place to pray. OK, I can deal. Then after the salams all the sisters started getting up and going over to admire each other's outfits or something and no one seemed to have the slightest idea that there would be a khutba going on after the prayer... Uhhh, HELLO!!! So I made me way the center where the TV and speakers are and someone had turned the volume off. I could see, but since I don't read lips I have no idea what the brother was saying.

Then I went out to a patio area where people were milling around only to be leafleted to death. Of course said leaflets were flying all over the area in the wind within minutes. As were wrappers and balloons the kids had been given. My DH wasn't there so I started to people watch... Of course that means that I saw all the sisters with their scarves carefully perched on top of perfect hairdos which were revealed as soon as they stepped out of the mosque. And I saw the brothers drive up in customized Mercedes and Hummers which I KNOW cost more than you would ever imagine. Of course you can imagine that seeing the brothers driving their family of six off in their cab... Those cars can't be a good use of the wealth they have been given (IMHO).

So I started having my kids pick up all the trash before it blew away once the crowd was gone. Only to have a brother come and yell at them for stepping on the clothe they had spread for those praying outside. Now mind you about 10 minutes earlier the entire female congregation put on their shoes inside and then exited tramping all over that same carpet. But my kids were CLEARLY causing damage:P

Well, you see what I'm getting at. It's hard to have a religious experience when surrounded by this. I don't know what the solution is, but it's clearly a problem. So now I remember why my real religious moments in mosques have all happened during prayers that very few people attend!LOL

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eid prep...

So I am currently up watching Dexter (I'm halfway through season 3) on my dad's on demand cable and preparing gifts for Eid. Last Eid was a mess since we were in the middle of moving, so I have plans to make this one nicer. I am planning on making a pinata... And I got some nice outfits to go to the prayer in, all cute and matched. Also, I am going to hang some lights, insha'Allah. I am going to do cookie trays for the kid's teachers.

I like the whole gift giving thing so much. The one weird thing I am struggling with is a gift for DH. It feels strange to buy him something because I know he has such specific ideas for himself and it's his money I'm spending!LOL

The upshot is that I got the kid's desks today, and I really like them. I still have to get them some supplies, and some lighting.

So all of you out there getting the house ready for Eid, I wish you luck! I for one am getting excited;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back in the saddle again...


As you may know if you follow my blog I should have a bumper sticker that says I'd rather be home-schooling, but DH and I have differing views on the matter. I have to admit that after the first year of having the kids in school I stopped working with them after-school due to frustration levels (theirs and mine). However, recently it has come to my attention that DD #1 has stopped making reading skills progress since then. And DS #1 needs some serious help with his handwriting and geography.

So, during the time that the kids were in school this week I redid their rooms. Now we are going to make a special trip tomorrow afternoon for desks and a list of various study center pieces I have deemed essential. We are going to do some serious work at home again. And now that the kids are older they need to have a study zone. So we are making one.

I am breaking out the zayner-bolser handwriting books and have decided to go back to some phonetics stuff with Layla. I know she is going to hate it, but I think the problem she is having is an inability to sound things out. So, back to the basics. I am thinking Dr. Seuss and Shell Silverstein might be a good way to get some non-sense words into her reading and force her to sound things out. We'll see.

I am also going to start more Islamic education for them again. Truly, I have been a mess with that. I have no weekend school within reach, so it's all me and I have to get back to doing it on a regular basis. I do have one question though. How do you no-Arabi speakers like me handle the memorizing Quran? And what about resources for kids that aren't all just "memorize this, memorize that?" Hmmmm, if you have thoughts let me know. Actually the whole memorizing focus of Islamic education is a subject I would like to tackle, but it deserves its own post.

I have a digital camera again, and I will post pictures of their "study centers" when we get them finished, insha'Allah. If you mommies out there thoughts on good things to have in the home classroom just let me know;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

All I wanted was the simple things...



What is the simple life? There is a song that I love by no doubt that says "All I ever wanted was the simple things, a simple kind of life. And now those simple things are simply too complicated for my life." I feel like I am living that song.

I know there is a stage where everyone wants to be a rock-star or an astronaut... You very rarely hear a young woman saying she wants to be a wife and a mother, but once you are past that I think many of us come to a place where that is all we want.

I had visions of my life when I was getting married that involved an Odyssey and 6 kids in a nice home in Denver, CO. Maybe even someplace bigger and warmer like California. I never saw us as rich, but I did think we would be comfortable with a house and a nice life. My DH was getting a PHD in Engineering after all. I saw this whole mom's night out, friends over for dinner social life I would have. I figured I would have a sewing room and I would make things for my kids. I saw myself having beautiful home-births and a husband who supported my interest in home-birthing. I thought I would home-school and have my children play sports and be involved in the local Muslim community. I thought I might even be a public speaker of some sort for Muslim women. I saw myself filling a freezer with fabulous home cooked meals so we would have wonderful family dinners even when I was busy. I thought we would take family vacations and camping trips. I envisioned a garden and canning things from it. I'm going to be honest, so don't think I'm mean or heartless here because I wouldn't trade my family for anything... If I had known what my life would be like now, I would've hitched up my jilbab and run full speed in the opposite direction.

So I am starting to wonder if I am in mourning for the loss of something that was just never mine to begin with? Am I punishing the people around me for failing to become my dream family? Is my sense of detachment coming from the feeling that this is not my life?

And the real question.... Considering that my dream life will NEVER happen now, what are my goals?

There is a sense of getting shortchanged that is hanging over my head like a black cloud. Even as I write this I am getting choked up. I'm not saying that no one would be happy with my life. Actually I'm sure there is a woman out there somewhere living my ideal life that hates it and would take mine and excel. She would not only enjoy my situation, she would thrive in it. And isn't that ironic and strange???

I'm all for the bloom where you are planted thing. But it is proving to be harder for me than it sounds. On some level, and maybe I am spoiled to some extent, I have decided that these things I want are deeper than that. They are in fact things I need. And maybe there is some truth to that. Can meeting the conditions for survival end up in fulfillment?

Imagine that I put you in a place you hate, lets say you are a summer person and I throw you in Alaska. Then I give you food and shelter, but it is also the exact opposite of what you would choose for yourself. You are a vegetarian and I give you a meat based diet. You like a small warm house I give you a spacious drafty one. You like to sew, and I give you a garage with a wood-shop. Do you think you could live your life and not just survive but be happy in it? Because I guess that is the situation I feel like I am in.

**sigh**

Seriously, I can take my lemons and make lemonade... But what if I don't like lemonade?

Friday, November 14, 2008

My new BFF


If you don't see a picture on the post I'm probably blogging from my new BFF... A pink blackberry curve. Allah help you if you are on my IM list 'cause I am IMing from it as much as possible too. Oh, and of course texting at the speed of light. Very cool I must say. Thank you Verizon Wireless upgrade program!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Courtship vs Marriage

I was just thinking while I was at the store shopping for a special dish for DH about the various reactions to my cooking over the years... When I was a girlfriend (I wasn't always Muslim you know) I heard, "Anything that you blew your breath on is wonderful." Then as a new wife I heard, "You cook food better than a restaurant!!!" Now as a wife of over a decade I hear, "Why are we wasting money at restaurants when you can cook?"

You figure that out! **wink**

Monday, November 03, 2008

Reality Bites


Where were you when you realised that reality really does bite? I think I was in a horrible little apartment doing my bills with the check from my dream job (you know the one you get that magical degree for???). I saw that there was no way I was ever going to get ahead on the money I was making. Or, maybe it was when I was in labor with my first child and my husband was too tired to stay with me at the hospital and I had no one else to be there with me since I was in this weird little town. Anyway, I think I was in my mid-twenties when I saw all too clearly that my life was not going to be something from a magazine.

When I was up late a few nights ago I happened to catch the movie Reality Bites... I could see how it is kind of a mirror of our generations apathy and cynicism. I have to say it's on my list of movies that somehow strike a chord with me. Another one being Lost in Translation... And for some reason Fight Club (I guess I have some anger issues!LOL). So I am wondering dear readers... What are the movies that speak to you????

Monday, October 20, 2008

Motherhood and frumpiness (is that a word?)...


I have been noticing as we move that I have let myself fall into a major slump with my clothes. DH got me some nice things in Egypt, but most of them are not daily wear kinda stuff. And when I stand at my closet putting away what clothes I do wear on a daily basis... I am appalled at the depth of this frumpy oblivion I have fallen into.

So what I am wondering is, does motherhood make you frumpy? Have you noticed have women look good before kids, then there is a rough patch in their 30's and then they look fabulous again in their 40's??? The only conclusion I can come to is that it follows the having kids timeline. When I had "the" kid I was 24. I am now 34 with 4 kids and I look rough. I remember all the cute dresses I had when I was pregnant with my first two children... Now I don't even have any regular clothes that are that nice. So, I can see where by my 40's my kids will be older and I will be able to get myself back to normal again. But right now I am a mess.

So tell me dear readers... Does motherhood lead to letting your appearance go?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This old house


You know that old Bob Villa show where they restore old houses? Well, I am living an episode of that right now. We are in a 1930's house that has been randomly updated and it seems like every time I go to do something I have to deal with 5 other unexpected projects as a result.

First, there was the plumbing. A leak by the stairs in the basement, one at a junction where we had the water meter installed (the house was un-metered until genius here decided to ask the city why there was no meter) and one in the washer line. So, my dad came to fix the leaks and every time he tightened a pipe the next fitting started to leak. I have since discovered that this is a fact of dealing with old galvanized piping...

That lead me to having a plumber tear out my bathroom wall where it was all rotted to get to the shower pipes. Well, the pipes are fixed but DH's friend who is going to put back the wall and tile it can't come until next week... So here we are with a big hole in our shower wall.

Then there is the washer dryer situation. We have a place for a stack washer dryer, but because of an electrical redo we don't have a 220 outlet for a dryer. Well, no problem, I ordered a 110 dryer (bet you didn't know there was such a thing did you?). Only to discover that there was no outlet in the area of the washer dryer!!! UGH!!! So, now I have to have an outlet installed by the washer dryer area and am running on an extension cord for now. Of course, my dryer is still on order... So I am hanging my clothes on lines I strung up around the basement!LOL

Did I mention that our furnace is off so we are running on only a pellet stove??? And did I mention that the fridge is zapping people??? What about the crumbling stairs to the basement???

~~le sigh~~

Overall though, I am really happy with this move. I like the house and there is a boys room and a girls room. Not to mention tons of storage in the basement. And I am loving the location closer to the center of town. I am also enjoying having things in order now and actually being able to have people come into my house!!! I called a repair guy yesterday and had him come over in 1 hour. And I didn't spend that hour running around cleaning like a mad woman. I have a dishwasher now, which is wonderful... And since I am so close to our construction I don't have to spend my day away from home when there is work being done there.

All in all we are happy with this house, and glad we moved. No matter what little problems we are having I think it is better overall than any place we have lived so far, alhamdulilah. I might have to post some pictures!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Been away too long


I have been away for too long my blogging friends! I have been BUSY. I have started construction on a project we have been waiting on for too long, I moved, I had some health issues and was in the hospital overnight, and of course Ramadan. Oh yes, so many things.

I have been debating posting about all this, but I am having the issue of blogosphere and the real world intersecting. I don't know who reads this blog and knows me in life and that makes me nervous. Of course there are some people who I would have no problem know my intimate details, but they are the ones I know read this blog... It would help me to talk these things out, but short of moving to wordpress I am not sure how to do that...

So, I am actually going to start using a wordpress blog that I set up and have never used. I will link to it here, but you will need an invite. E-mail me @ ummlaylagd@yahoo.com if you want one. All I ask is that you keep out if you are gossipy or judgemental. I am keeping these things private because I don't want to run into someone I haven't been seeing and have them know all these things and I don't know they know... Or call my DH and tell him "hey, do you know what your wife is posting on the internet?" Anyway, e-mail me if you want in.

As for this blog, I have tons of things I want to write about!!! And of course I will do it soon. I just got an internet connection in my new house and I am ready to go!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't sell to guys from upper Egypt.


So, let me tell you a joke... Because it relates to an experience I just had, and let me just say that I learned my lesson and will no longer be selling cars to a certain type of person... I should've known better. So here's the joke, sorry if you've already heard it.

A guy from upper Egypt(always the uneducated stereotyped scape goat in such jokes in Egypt) is visiting his brother in Cairo. He has been hearing people in his village talk about a new device called a DVD player. He decides to visit the electronics shop closest to his brother's house and see just how much such a device would cost. So he puts on his best jilbab and heads to the electronics store.

He enters and as he starts to look around the shop owner comes to him and says, "Sorry sir, but I don't sell to guys from upper Egypt."

The man leaves. Of course he is discouraged and after talking to his brother at dinner he decides to go back the next day. So in the morning he puts on his brothers suit, combs his hair and goes back to the same shop.

He enters and looks around, he decides they must not recognise him this time and says with confidence to the first salesman he sees, "How much is this DVD device?" The owner appears again only to tell him, "Sorry sir, but I don't sell to guys from upper Egypt."

Now this man is really mad. He will get that DVD player and that guy will eat his words. So, he goes to the salon and gets his hair styled in the latest fashion. Then he buys a new outfit from a shop at the mall. Finally, he goes to the optometrist and gets himself some blue contact lenses. Then he sits with a friendly lady at a coffee shop who tells him that he should say DVD player, not device. He is ready.

As the shop is abut to close he hurries in and acts as if he is looking around for the first time. When he comes to the thing he wants he points to it and asks the owner, "How much for this DVD player?" The owner says to him, "Sorry sir, but I don't sell to guys from upper Egypt."

Now, the guy is steamed. He has to ask now... "I did all these things to look sophisticated, and to say the right things... How did you still know I am from upper Egypt?"

The owner looks at him, exasperated. "Sir, the device you have been looking at isn't a DVD player at all. It's a microwave."

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk!!!

Anyway, I'm pretty much back. As far as the novel, well... Hemingway always said the first draft was crap. And I'm gonna have to agree with that sentiment. I have the bones of something, but it needs work! I think I will edit during Ramadan since I usually have some time between fajr and suhoor. Insha'Allah I will post some though to get feedback. It has a distinct tone to the narration and I want to be sure people "get it".

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Did you miss me???


OK, so I know I haven't been sounding off as much as usual lately... And I have started my novel writing month so I will most likely be even quieter. Don't think I don't love you if I am not reading and commenting on your blog!!! I will be back to normal next month, but for now I have the internet connection turned off save a half an hour in the AM to check my e-mail. Gotta focus on writing if I'm going to meet the 1,600 some words a day thingi. BTW, current word count (in case you were wondering) 7,692.

Monday, July 28, 2008

You MUST watch this!!!


So yesterday I woke up to watch the news with DH and we saw Fox (of course) talking about the "radical" Muslim campaign to "recruit" people via subway ads. Naturally, I had to get to the bottom of it. This is what I found, and if you have money to support it I think you should, insha'Allah. It starts during Ramadan, insha'Allah.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Women's work?


Why is it that everything distasteful and difficult ends up as women's work??? Sure the men may come and lug the heavy boxes to storage, but who packs them? The men pay for the grocery's, but who is in charge of every other aspect of food service in the house? They buy the clothes and we wash them, but them away, mend them... And of course whose fault is it when the house in in disarray??? Well, it isn't the husband. Ugh. I think it's hard to say which is worse, working or keeping up with the house. I have my days where I am ready to trade my apron for a business suit... And yet I know that working sisters have it even worse, they have only added to their responsibilities.

I have decided that I have to clear my life of all the things that I have been putting off. Moving the things in our old house to storage... Cleaning it and getting all the repairs done and over with so hopefully it will sell. Also, admitting the fact that I will never re-open my store and moving out of it. And closing any accounts that are associated with it... As I am writing that sounds simple and easy. But it is not. I know I have a miserable week of fighting with DH ahead of me. I know he will say, "Why didn't you do this sooner?" and "Don't throw that away!!!" and the dreaded, "I need this at the house!" As if my tiny apartment isn't already bursting at the seams.

It is an arduous task... But one that no one else will do... Trust me I have been trying for a year to hire for it, convince DH to do it... No luck. It's all me... So here I go. I wish I could say the end is in site, but I know that all this will only deliver me to starting construction on our new property:P

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Are you up to the challenge???


I am taking the novel in a month challenge... And I am looking for partners in crime and/or people to keep me honest about it. The same guy who does NaNoWriMo now has a book and I will be making August my month, insha'Allah.

This is an effort to get back to me. I am at my best when creating, and I have to get myself committed to it so I don't keep just saying tomorrow, tomorrow... I know with all that I have going right now taking on another thing seems slightly insane, but I think that since this a me thing it will actually be good for me. Not to mention that doing this will give me a great sense of accomplishment, insha'Allah.

So, come on!!! If you have thought about doing it, lets make it a little Muslim Bloggers novel in a month thing. And of course if you are interested in helping keep me honest I will give you my e-mail and you can harass me about my word count at will during the entire month of August;) Of course I may need victims readers once I finish too.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ana Masry


Cool song... And I'm not complaining or anything, but why does a Lebanese person have to say it???? The only thing that would make me love it more is if it was by an Egyptian singer...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Required reading for wanna-be's like me


The Yacoubian Building by: Alaa Al Aswany

I am deep into this book (which I have been hoping they would translate after I read about it when they were making the movie in Egypt) and I stumbled onto it in Target the other day. It is WONDERFUL. I am enjoying the modern history mixed in with culture and a cast of characters that manages to embody the idiosyncrasies of Egypt herself. DH has decided that after reading this I am TRUELY ready to get my Egyptian citizenship!LOL

So here is your homework... Go read it!!! Say you need diapers, or milk, or some other urgent thing and run out and get it. Then brew a pot of black tea with a sprig of mint and find a comfortable chair to sit and read in. Really, it's that good. And maybe I'll be giving a pop quiz... I was schooled as a literature teacher after all.

****WARNING**** This book does have sexual content, but you should read it anyway... 'Cause like it's necessary sexual content.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This is not my beautiful life...


You know the song Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads? I have always loved that song... And right now I feel I am living it. I feel as if I am driving through someone elses life or something. I don't know what it is... Maybe I was too into the book I just read, The Time Traveler's Wife, or something. Have you ever had that feeling?

I am longing for a house, a "normal" life... And I can't imagine that this mess of obligations and businesses all crammed into this little apartment is ACTUALLY my life. I always thought I would have a 9-5 type husband with a job and a tidy little benefits package. I also always thought I would have a house and spend my time shuttling the kids to and from violin lessons and soccer practice... Maybe have friends over for dinner on Saturday nights... And a family vacation once a year to someplace warm...

I am numb from all the things that are my daily life. I have so many dramas that they don't even seem like dramas at all anymore. DH asks me "What will move you?" when something goes on and I just sit back... Well, very little these days because if I went into panic mode over every little thing I would be in an in-patient treatment facility. But living like this is getting to me. Yesterday DH was watching a TLC show about a family with 8 kids (John and Kate Plus 8) and he remarked how nice the house was even though they had 8 kids, and how he wished he had a house like that. I laid into him. "Yea, well they have a garage and a basement... They have probably over 4000 sq feet and they can keep the kids stuff out of the main areas!!!" I yelled with as much venom as I could muster. And you know what? I was really mad about it. I got to thinking how silly our situation is, and how we are waiting for this daycare and wasting our money on all these businesses and I was really ready to explode. I laid in bed all day... And I can't really afford to do that. The nice thing was DH had the kids clean and when I finally got up to cook dinner the house was better than I had left it in the AM...

I don't know how to get myself back into the shoes of this person whose life I am living... I feel like I am watching things happen and I have no control. I'm just a gerbil on a wheel, running and running but getting nowhere. **big sigh** Am I weird or have any of you ever felt this way?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Can I rant about food for a minute???


I have some complaints about food, and since DH and I are both consummate foodies... Food is a big thing here in our house. Please stay with me and try to muddle through the sarcasm... I'm laying in on thicker than my bechamel...

1)Halal butchers (or halal haramies in most cases): Why is it that "halal" (which is incorrect for so many reasons really, it's more of a brand name... I would say zabiha, but I digress) butchers have the tendency to cut corners and price gouge? And why don't they have standards? Case in point... DH just bought about 20lbs of ground meat, 1/2 lamb and 1/2 beef. And the butcher put it all in bags labeled ground beef with no indicator to tell you which was which. So, now here I am defrosting bags praying that I guessed right. Of course lamb and beef taste totally different so I have ended up screwing up dishes because the lamb is too strong in them. Walahi, the guy at the supermarket has pity on me and my 4 kids and tries to help out by cutting things special for me and suggesting meat that will be good for what I am cooking... Why doesn't the brother???

2)Spoiled family members: I'm not going to name names here (but I think a D and an H are involved) but my culinary generosity has landed me in a situation where naming your own alternative dinner five minutes before we eat is the norm. This is a PAIN in my rear. What it does is throw me into a last minute panic and scramble even if I have planned and prepared ahead of time. Not nice. Ditto to special request for things you want 10 minutes from now and I don't have the ingredients for.

3)Wheat in everything: I know wheat is cheap, but I have an allergy to gluten which cuts it out of my diet... And I know it's a binder and all that... But does EVERYTHING processed have to have it? And do all cereals have to have malt (which also has gluten)? Alternatives people, PUHLEEESE!!!

4)Expensive, underripe, homogeneous produce: Does it occur to the marketing people here in the US that apples, oranges, pears and bananas are not the only fruit in the world? What about the concept that produce is seasonal... It's a big word I know, but it means that different fruit grows at different times of the year. Your produce section should probably reflect that.

5)Labeling and marketing should be separate issues: Although SOME people might be inclined to think that the word "natural" on a label actually means something... I am not. And although I do have my days where I feel only a rung above drooling imbecile even I know that you don't add hormones and antibiotics to chicken post-mortem!!!! So will you stop using things like "natural" on things like canned fruit, which was ALWAYS "natural"? And will you stop labeling meat with "no added hormones or antibiotics" and then having that fine print saying "the USDA prohibits the addition of hormones or antibiotics to all meat and poultry products" like I won't notice?

SIGH.... Just my two piasters as usual;)

Friday, June 06, 2008

I've been away too long!!!


Well, I have so many posts in my head that I want to write and very little time to write them! With DH back and the kids out of school things have fallen back into the familiar rhythm of days full with little chores and errands. The baby turned two on the 4th, I made her a kitty cake (pictured above) and her favorite dinner, spaghetti with meatballs.

Also, we are trying to get things caught up since DH's absence... Mainly this means collecting money and paying bills. Also, there is other stuff with his work and so on. Mostly, we are getting ready to move again (seems to happen often for us) to a little 3 bedroom with an unfinished basement. The goo thing is the kids will have separate rooms and we will have a laundry area in the basement, insha'Allah. I will also have a dishwasher again, yea!!!

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all an update. Insha'Allah more substantive posts are in the works;)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cake for a party...



Here's a sandcastle cake I made for a last day party at Yousuf's preschool. I got the idea from Family Fun magazine. Don't you just love kid's cakes? They make me smile.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Remember these on SNL???


I was just thinking of the deep thoughts bit on SNL today. Remember that? A kinda tongue in cheek response to the self help craze of the late 80's? I had a standing Saturday night babysitting job for a couple years when I was a pre-teen and I watched SNL every Saturday night. Remember Jack Handey's deep thoughts??? Here are a few that still strike me as funny;) Enjoy. And try not to wonder what someone who finds these funny pays for therapy. I am such an interesting case that I get all my professional help for free!LOL

Deep Thoughts

The first thing was, I learned to forgive myself. Then I told myself, 'Go ahead, do whatever you want, it's ok by me.'
Jack Handey

If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let'em go, because, man, they're gone.
Jack Handey

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
Jack Handey

I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because then, Yahoo!, I'd have all my money back.
Jack Handey

Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.
Jack Handey

If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what *really* throws you into a panic.
Jack Handey

Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call them "impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what, can't we all be brothers?
Jack Handey

I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I'd just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.
Jack Handey

As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it seemed that way.
Jack Handey

Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don't know what your rights are, or who the person is you're talking to. Then on the way out, slam the door.
Jack Handey

If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.
Jack Handey

Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, looking through your stuff.
Jack Handey

Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?
Jack Handy

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sectarian garbage... Can we throw it out???


I went to do a presentation on the holidays we celebrate in Islam yesterday at my children's school for the 2nd and 3rd grades. Now, the topic was holidays... But the question and answer time went in a different direction. Of course I got the usual, "Why do you wear that thing on your head?". But a 3rd grader asked me a question that took me by surprise. And remember I was a teacher so it is pretty hard for a kid to say something that surprises me.

This little boy asked me... "Is it true that there was a fight when Muhammad died and the Muslims couldn't decide whether a more experienced guy or a guy who was related to Muhammad should lead them? Is it true that Muslims are still fighting about it?"

And whenever I hear something like this from a non-Muslim, I feel like the soft underbelly of the ummah has been exposed. Our weakness laid bare before people who may very well use it to harm us.

**sigh**

Of course the answer had to be yes. The kid even knew that the two groups were called Shia and Sunni... The only thing he didn't know was which was which. The only thing I could say after my yes is that we are all Muslims, regardless of what we think about this matter.

But I don't think that we all feel that way really. The divide between the sects runs deep. And if we truly want to end the fighting we have to admit that first. There is a reason that we are divided, there are differences between the two sects... But, insha'Allah, in the end what I said to that boy is true we are all Muslims.

We can all ignore it for as long as we want. We have avoided coming together for what 1400 years now??? But in this country and in this time when we have our face in the dirt and the rest of the world has its' foot on our back can we really afford to? Can we afford to let these differences keep us so busy fighting amongst ourselves that progress is impossible? How long will we let our own self hatred hold us back? You know how the worst fights are with the people closest to you?

So let it start with me. Hi, I'm Sunni. But I promise not to judge you or hate on you because you are Shia. Promise me that you will give me the same respect. I'm not going to front... I think you are a little off about some things, I've wondered if we are even following the same religion when I read books about it from the Sunni perspective and I know you think the same about me... I hope that we can talk about the differences in our interpretations of the religion and try to understand each other better. I hope you know that if you are next to me in the Masjid you can hold your hands to your side as you read Al-Fatiha and I will cross mine on my chest knowing that we are making these gestures with the same intention, the worship of Allah(swt).

We can't make peace with the non-Muslims until we make peace with ourselves. Just my two piasters.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Is the middle way the road less traveled?


I struggle to find my way through the maze of choices in this life every day. I kinda feel like I am stuck with either going to the extremes of the issues to be accepted by one group or staying with the middle path and having both sides disapprove. Now I'm not saying that approval is the most important factor in my decision making process. To be honest it rarely even factors in, unless we are talking about my husband which is another post entirely.

So, I guess what I am asking is where has the middle path gone? Does it exist? I feel inspired to keep looking for it when I hear someone such as Haza Yousuf speak... But I feel I rarely see it in my actual life. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, who knows.

Something I struggle with is whose opinion to take when I am seeking an answer to a question that I feel is unclear in my knowledge of the deen. Let's take pigs. I have heard with my own ears learned men saying that the FLESH of the pig is what is forbidden so gelatin is OK because it is made from BONES. No, I'm not kidding you. Now on the other extreme I have had Muslims flip out when they saw Layla's Piglet toy. "Oh!!!!! A pig!!!! Is that a pig your daughter has?!?!?!? HARAM!!!!!" Where is the middle path people? No, I won't eat gelatin. But yes I will give our daughter a stuffed pig if it makes her happy. On second thought, let's not start on toys that look like living things... Oh I don't even want to try and unravel that one with you! So, I just want to ask have you noticed the following...

**If a new sister puts on hijab but has an American twist on it people will tell her it's not "proper hijab". If that same sister puts on jilbab and khimar people will tell her she's too extreme and she doesn't have to wear all that.

**If you get a loan and buy a big house the Muslims will come to visit you, ooggle over it and say masha'Allah about 70 times during thier visit. Then, behind your back they will criticise you for dealing in interest. However, if you buy a smaller house they will say masaha'Allah to your explanation of not dealing in interest and then behind you back go on about "How can he shove his whole family in that horrible little house??? His poor wife!"

**If you are a mother and you bring your kids to the mosque people will be irritated with thier behavior. If you stay home they will chastise you for never going to the mosque.

**If a brother marries an attractive woman (especially from a different nationality) he will be criticised for only choosing her based on looks. If he marries a sister who isn't so attractive everyone will be gossiping about what's the secret reason he would marry someone unattractive??? Money, a good job, dating her before marriage and her family forced him???

**If you support the Muslims in places like Palestine too much you will be accused of being an extremest. If you don't you will be abandoning the ummah.

**If you like to go to the movies, listen to music, read popular literature... You will be too Western. But if you unplug the TV and never spend another penny on popular movies or music... You are extreme.

You see where I am going with this... Right? I guess the Muslims are never happy. But also we can't seem to find a middle ground and leave people alone about it. Why is that? And what can we do about it? Just thoughts people, just thoughts...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Not everything that's good is easy...


I have not been practicing truley mindful guidance/discipline with my children for quite some time. My husband has taken on the role of disciplinarian and I gladly let him have it. Now with him overseas I have had to take on that role and own it. And it has been hard.

I have a temper. And I have too much work to do anyway... Which makes dealing with an explosive child very hard for me. I told DH and decided in my own mind that I was not going to spank. DH does (a literal slap on the hand which seems to be an Egyptian thing), and so have I because this is what the consequences are in our home... So this is a departure for us. I am reserving spanking for the rare instance where the child is putting himself in harms way... Which has not happened since the 20th of April when DH departed. And I am now trying to have the punishment fit the crime (so to speak). Make a mess, clean it up. Take advantage of a freedom (playing outside for example) lose it.

What has surprised me is that staying calm and limiting discipline to taking away toys or privileges has been hard for me. It seems like the more I bottle up the yelling the more angry I am. Also, I think I was satisfied by the immediacy of the slap on the hand in a way. It was easier than following through on things that happen later such as no TV time, or no dessert... And what is different about delayed consequences for me is that I have a second explosion to deal with when they are enforced.

I know my kids are old enough to understand consequences. They are 5, 6, and 8 now... And of course the 2yo is out of the equation. I know that this is the better way... It also seems to be the harder way. Much harder.

One thing I did about a month before DH left was a schedule. We have set times to do things. Breakfast, lunch, nap time for the baby, play outside/free play, dinner, bath times boys and girls on alternating days, and then reading and workbooks before bed. It made a huge difference. And I have been hiring for things that need to be done for DH's business that will take me out of my schedule. What does this have to do with discipline you ask? Well, I find that anticipating blow-ups and not just letting the kids run randomly from one thing to the next helps me AVOID having to discipline.

Doing the right thing isn't always easy. And it isn't always what you WANT to do. I would love to spank someones behind and send them to bed when they trash the room they are supposed to be playing in... But now I calmly tell them they will have to clean it up before the timer goes off or they will be missing dessert or TV time that evening. Allah be with me... I am trying!LOL

Read Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline...I know I'm reading it AGAIN!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Language software, yea!


How happy am I to finally get the homeschool version of Rosetta Stone Arabic? VERY!!! I can't wait to get started. I am thinking 30 minutes every day for the kids... And maybe an hour for me (providing I can have an hour without interruption). Is my dream of speaking Arabi at home one step closer???? Insha'Allah.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Playground theology...

Let me preface this by saying that I have always explained God as the "creator"... Here is a conversation I had today with my 5yo.

DS: Do all Americans believe in Allah?

EW: Well, I think most Americans believe in one God... But they don't call him Allah.

DS: On the day of judgment will they have to meet Allah too?

EW: Yes, all the people who ever lived on earth will be before Allah on the day of judgement to talk about the good things and the bad things they did while they were alive.

DS: But how will they talk if they are dead?

EW: Well, since Allah created us he knows how we work and he can make us again.

DS, after much thought: So, like I know what is in cookies... Powder (aka flour) and butter and sugar... So I can make them whenever I want. So Allah has all the 'gredients (aka ingredients) to make us come alive again! Like that?

EW: Sure, kinda like that;)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The what if...

I have been contemplating a post like this for some time... And I have been trying to think of a way that I can express myself without just sounding like a crazy person or someone bragging about her past and remembering things as they never really were... But I have been watching so many sentimental movies while my DH is overseas that I can no longer resist the urge. I am about to tell you things that even my DH doesn't know, things he has never heard all of or even most of in a way that would enable him to have an accurate picture. I suspect he knows this... He has told me many times "that period of my life is still a mystery." And it is, even to me. But here is what I know.

It wasn't 100% that I would become The Egyptian's Wife, even though I wouldn't take it back ever. I had a weird few years after graduating college and I could've married one of a few different men... And DH still thinks to this day that the reason I didn't is that they never asked with the intention of actually doing it. And he still jokes/laments when times are bad "See, you shouldve married the Saudi." What's closer to the truth is that none of them were someone I could be with for various reasons.

In high school I met a cardiologist doing military service to pay for med school who asked me to marry him. He asked me after he was relocated to another city, and did so by numerous letters. I didn't have the maturity/guts to even open them until my second year of college. Then I took an entire day reading them. They broke my heart. I gave him the wrong impression and was truly unfair to never respond to his letters. I was a child, he assumed I was angry at the idea that he left me in Denver without any promise to continue our relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth... I was just a flighty adolescent. I wrote him when I was in college and he quit the military and became a minister. He later married a woman he met at a Christian summer camp where she was a counselor and he was a youth minister.


I guess I could've been a preacher's wife.

In college I met, was engaged to and lived with a man who had more money than sense. He was Japanese, and his family was wealthy. No, WEALTHY. No, WEALTHY!!!!! And he was spoiled and probably sociopath because he was sent off to school too young to have ever formed a real bond with his parents. When we got to the point of me actually considering moving there and getting married... He started to get into drugs, and it was downhill from there. He would've been a bad choice anyway, people raised in that kind of opulence just seem to be out of touch with reality most of the time, in my opinion.


I guess I could've been a harajuku girl.

Then I moved back to Denver and was teaching a preschool class when spotted by a Saudi boy. He arranged for my teaching assistant to introduce us (he knew her) and we dated. I liked him. Of all the men other than my DH... He is the only one I might be bold enough to use the word love with. He introduced me to Islam. He witnessed my shahada. He was there for that life changing discovery that now has its' place at the center of my life. I still read from the Yusuf Ali translation in the Quran he gave me every day. It's not like I am sorry that I didn't marry him... It's that he was a part of such an important part of my life. My husband knows him because after my DH and I got engaged he came to me and caused enough doubt in my husband's mind about me that he called off the engagement for 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks this boy who had begged so desperately for my affection during the days after he found out I was engaged never was able to reconcile his culture and his feelings for me. In the end... I told him unless he was ready to defend his choice to marry me he wasn't ready to make it. And he wasn't. I decided I would rather never get married than attach myself to a man who could just go back to his family at any moment. The last time I saw the Saudi boy was at a lecture in Denver, and even though I was pregnant with two small children in tow our eyes met long enough for me to be sure he recognised me and that made him very uncomfortable.


So I guess I could've been a Saudi princess.

Then there is the Egyptian, the judge's son, the boy who stayed in the US and gave up everything in Egypt to care for his sister here in the states after an accident left her disabled. My husband. I feel like through all the struggles and years I know he was the one I was meant to marry. He is the one who I needed to force me to wake up. To force me to become a stronger person. To force me to do things I wouldn't have dreamed of. There have been bad things... I have struggles I don't think we need and I know I don't want... But we are stronger because of it. I can say that I could've chosen another man, but in the end I don't know that's true. It had to be him somehow. And when he called me after 2 weeks of waiting patiently assuming that I would've married the Saudi boy by now... I knew anyone who would have the heart to let me go because he thought I might be happier with the other man and the guts to make that phone call on the off chance I was still available was the person I was meant to be with.

So that friends, is how I became The Egyptian's Wife.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

If you are shy, well... Read this post anyway!!!


I am writing this because I was inspired by this post on Miss Muslimah's blog. I think it is an interesting topic, and one I would encourage all women to sit down and talk about with their husbands. Now I am not a scholar, or an "expert" of any kind... I am just a woman who has been married almost 10 years now to a man who is pretty upfront about these things and I hope women whose husbands are a little more reserved might benefit from this discussion. It is my opinion that sex can either be the glue holding your marriage together or the slow tide wearing it down day after day.

In Islam men have the right to demand sex whenever they want it. I think it is fairly well known. And I know many Muslimahs have shook their heads at it. But remember that sex for a married couple is an act of worship. A way to protect themselves from the evils outside. So think about this:God's Messenger(s) said: "In the sexual act of each of you there is a sadaqa." The Companions replied: "0 Messenger of God! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?" And he said, "Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded." (Muslim)
And also I want to talk about some consideration for the wife because in the Quran Allah says:

"Women shall have rights similar to the rights upon them; according to what is equitable and just; and men have a degree of advantage over them." (Quran, 2:216)


I want to point out that I feel the major reason that women see sex as an imposition rather than a relaxation/enjoyment they can share with their spouse is the failure to achieve orgasm on a regular basis, and/or the failure of the husband to spend adequate time on foreplay. Now stop blushing!!! I am serious here!!! There are numerous occasions where this is considered in the prophetic tradition... And I would encourage you to read about it further, there is some great Q&A on SunniPath. It bears mentioning that women are also guilty of letting this problem go unspoken. How can you expect a spouse to alter his/her behavior if you stay silent on the matter?

This brings me to another point. I think it is important to experiment sexually with your spouse. You should try different things, you should talk about your likes and dislikes, and you should share your fantasies with each other. Who will you have these conversations with if not your spouse? Who will you fulfill your desires with if not your spouse? Go to bed before you are exhausted when you can and spend time together. Lock the door and just enjoy each others company. And don't tell me haram!!! There is only one thing that is haram. Anal sex. Anything else might be frowned on by some jurists or whatever... But only one thing carries the big H word.

Half of physical intimacy (if not more) is actually mental. If either spouse feels ignored, undesirable, put-upon, whatever... You will not have a mutually satisfying sexual experience. So keep this in mind when you are having troubles in this department. Ask yourself "How must my spouse be feeling in this situation?"

Let me give you an example... Ahmed comes home from work every day tired and all he wants to do is eat dinner and watch Al-Jazeerah until he winds down and is ready to go to sleep. The couple puts the kids to bed, hangs out until isha... Prays and goes to bed. Then, Ahmed approaches Khadija (it seems to her) from out of nowhere wanting to be intimate. Night after night she agrees and the feeling of sex being one more thing on her to do list builds. Soon, she is never approaching him with interest... Because there is nothing in the whole process for her. Ahmed begins to suspect that Khadija has simply lost interest in sex after being married for some time and having children. Khadija starts to think that if Ahmed still found her attractive he would certainly spend more time on pleasing her as he did when they were first married. Pretty soon sex is a source of tension rather than a relief from it. Do you see where I am going with this???

There is nothing in Islam that suggests married people shouldn't enjoy intimacy. Quite the opposite actually. Sex with your spouse is not only a halal enjoyment... It is a good deed. So I think it is our duty to pursue happiness and fulfilment in this area. And to have open and honest discussions about what brings us pleasure with our spouses. A good sex life builds a bond that nothing else can.

As wives, we are in a unique position to do this. I'm sure that if you go to your husband tonight all cleaned up and looking good saying that you want to talk about what you would like to try and what desires he has he will not turn you away!LOL You might even end the evening on a very good note;) Now on the other hand, he might feel that if he goes to you he is pressuring you or embarrassing you... So I think wives should take this one.

Another thing I want to address is timing. Now timing can be seen on two levels. Timing of the entire act and timing of the things you do within the act. So for general timing... I think you need to have time when you can be left alone. That might be different for each couple. Maybe after fajr for you... Maybe during DH's lunch break when the kids are at school... Maybe at night after the kids are in bed... You see what I'm saying? Now timing within the act. OK, I can't think of a nice way to say this... So I will just say it. Once men achieve orgasm they are DONE (generally, men don't get all mad at that idea). So, the woman needs to achieve orgasm first in most cases. Now I know all husbands are stallions and all (right ladies?) but most women will not achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. Sorry guys, it has nothing to do with you... So ladies, you will have to talk to your guy about getting you there however you like. And men, please have patience and don't skip this part of the process!!!

I say all this because I think enjoying sex is important for your marriage. I think lots of couples are frustrated for the simple reason that they are not thinking of the other person when they are in the bedroom. I assure you if women achieve orgasm the majority of the time, and husbands actually enjoy sex rather than just having it (there is a difference) the entire marriage will benefit.

I want everyone reading this to consider something pretty profound. If you and your spouse are leading Islamic lives, you are one another's only source of sexual fulfillment. Let me say that again. You are your spouses only source for sexual fulfillment. And that is a big thing.

Part of protecting your spouse from adultery is making sure that you fulfill his/her desires. Women, don't let your men go looking at work!!! Men, don't let your women turn into an episode of Desperate Housewives!!! If you really want to be a garment for your spouse as the Quran says... You have to know what that implies. You are a protection from the outside world. Now I know that there are more aspects to this than sex, but I am talking about sex for now.

So don't freak out at this idea. Consider it seriously. If the conversation stalls or you get nothing from it you and your spouse go through a book about sex (not porn guys, sheesh!!! a real informative book for couples!!!) and talk about the things you read. Be proactive. Wives, you will not have a satisfying sex life if you just lie there waiting for him to do something that excites you. Husbands, your wife will not magically get you vibes about your secret fantasies and desires until you talk to her about them. Please kids... Islam has given you the license to enjoy sex and get rewards for it. Your marriage will benefit from truly enjoying this God given right. And you shouldn't just disregard this gift Allah(swt) has given us.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Randomness from DH being gone...



DH being gone has given me the opportunity to do some random things around the house...

1) Clean out the fridge, freezer and dry goods. I have been cooking from what I have stored in the house for the past week. The only thing I bought is milk. This would never fly with DH because anything that isn't a dish he knows done in the way he likes gets labeled an "invention" and complained about extensively. Also, anything not cooked in portions large enough to feed an army is frowned upon because DH hates not having as much of a dish as everyone wants (he grew up fighting over the last bit of certain foods with his siblings).

2) Go through all the clothes in the house and donated bags without having to argue about whether or not we should save them to take to Egypt.

3) Just sit with the kids and finish going through old toys and things in their room.

4) Switch the baby to a toddler bed.

5) Stay up late and watch movies DH would never agree to watch.

6) Re-pot every plant in the house.

7) Clean out the sandbox (you have to replace the sand in our plastic sandbox every spring because it starts to smell).

8) Use the washer and dryer without having to worry about sharing (DH like to do his own laundry... Not that he folds it he leaves the joy of that to me):P

9) Never have to ask "Do you mind if we ____ today?".

10) Sleep on his side of the bed with the TV remote and the control of the lights all to myself!!! **evil laugh**

Seriously, I miss him... But I don't. He can be a pretty demanding person and even though he left me with a serious to do list I am doing it on my own time. So it's kinda easier. And I can skip all the extra steps he like to take in doing things without him ever knowing. It just goes to show that our life will be easier when he has a job that doesn't involve me!LOL

Oh, and an aside... I am going to have time to sew, which means all the people I promised those gifts to a month ago will actually get them in the coming week!LOL You know who you are;)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Call for pen-pals...


I am looking for someone to exchange letters with my kiddos this summer. I am building a summer school program and want to include this to help with the whole reading and writing thing, insha'Allah. Does anyone who has kiddos feel like taking on a pen-pal project???? My DD is 8 and our DS is 6. If you are interested e-mail me at ummlaylagd@yahoo.com.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How I'm holding up...


Well, everyone asks how things are without DH here to help... And I have to say that things seem to be going pretty well around the house. I have a stressful situation with my son's school going on (more in a minute), but nothing that DH being here would help with. Overall, things are getting done and DH's business is going fine. I was hoping to be able to do more, but I always overestimate my actual abilities;)

I got a call from the school counselor today... And she wants to meet with me tomorrow. I guess my son told her I "beat" him for breaking the toddler bed last night. Well, yes I did smack his hand for breaking the bed. And since the "spank" or "smack" doesn't make sense to my Arabic speaking husband the kids tend to call this "beat". So I explained that to this pseudo-mental health professional and she still insisted on meeting with me about my son's "behavior" and how he has been "upset" lately. Which I think all comes from his home room teacher who HATES us from day one (she's also a minority so I think it's one of those things where you treat the newer minority group like dirt to feel superior). The counselor was insinuating that this had something to do with my DH being gone and maybe things were crazy at my house since then... And I told her we are talking about days here but I don't think she heard me. She seems to think there is something going on in our home that I am not telling her about. Now what that is in her mind I have no idea.

I guess what irks me is that she talked to my son without my permission. She saw that he was upset in class and then took him out to question him without notifying me. I hate that. And it is just what I feared would happen to us here in hicksville. They are chasing this negative stereotype of "Arabs" and I am sure if they keep trying they will find a reason to say we are bad parents. UGH.

I got pretty upset with my husband about this. I let him have it about not caring what investments we have here, if they are seeking to take my kids none of it is worth the dirt it sits on... But he insists that we just have to fight from the beginning and be proactive about it. Whatever. I've heard that from him before... And EVERY time we go to small claims here in with a dispute with over a rental or a bill or whatever... We lose. As the tenant, as the landlord, as the person being owed money, as the person owing money. It's funny actually. I have never seen anything like it.

I'm sure that I am paranoid. I am sure that I am overreacting and that this "counselor" wants to talk to me about my son's behavior as much as what he said to her (I have mentioned the "problems" he has been having this year before). But I feel like these things are just modern day witch hunts. Once they start there is no way to prove your innocence. So I am paranoid... Even though she said, "I understand he's a kid... And it's not like I'm going to report this to DFS or something." I am worried.

I hate this place.

Allah, deliver me.

Ya Rubb!

**UPDATE 4/26**

I talked to the counselor yesterday and much to my relief she is a real psychologist... Which is hopefully a good thing. We talked about some other things that he has going on and how he has come to the school with stories about big kids taking his lunch, us moving to another state, and other random stuff. So she thinks it's stress... And she wants to talk to the teacher about it. She said she will get back to me with what she hears from the teacher.

However, she coincidentally overheard the teacher complaining to someone about me talking to the principal and requesting that my younger son not be in her class next year. The Dr was pretty surprised and came to her own idea that maybe the teacher was singling us out without me having to even mention it. I credit Him with this... what are the chances that after she was ready to call me in about all this she overheard a conversation like that? Subhan'Allah.

So here we are. But it has triggered a fight with DH. He is all miffed and blaming me for not being more aggressive about our problems with that teacher. I am blaming him for not making our family a priority and always putting me in these situations where I have to fight with people.

I am not a fighter by nature... So I have been a wreck with it. Fighting with the city, with contractors, in small claims, with the teachers at the school, with billing people from various places, basically with everyone. I HATE being put in this situation where my life is constantly filled with conflict. I can't have peace like this. I am not a confrontational person by nature. Something has to be pretty extreme and pretty important to me before I will get into it with anyone. So being like this gets me all tied up in knots. I have been taking migraine meds like candy. I finished a supply that usually lasts me 6 months in one and am actually considering a daily preventive one even though I hate that idea. Well, alhamdulilah I have a good one because my migraines will keep me in bed otherwise... It's an involuntary day off if I get one and I don't have my meds. Every once in a great while I will test it to be sure and it never fails me!LOL

I still hold to the idea that this place is the problem... But I don't think DH is going anywhere. He even suggested that we build our own file of good things and get witnesses ready if there is a DFS case filed against us. This is ridiculous, IMHO. I don't know why we have to live here if it is such a problem... And it makes me nervous for the daycare. I know I will have employees and all... But the idea is in my head now that people here just don't like/trust us so all I need is one mad client.

Anyway things went fine, alhamdulilah. Thanks for your well wishes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

DH is off!

So after much last minute packing and rushing around DH was off to Egypt last night. I am in Denver, hanging out for the afternoon since today was a teacher in-service day for the kids anyway. It's a good thing because I was TIRED and wouldn't have been able to make it back anyway. We got up at 4am and started packing all the piles of things DH wanted to bring into his bags and doing some last minute paper work for the business.

In the end I had packed the bags to 50lbs. I spent some time doing this and ended up getting rid of a few things (candy and pistachios) that DH had in there. I got to the check in only to discover that the new 50lb limit isn't going into effect for BA until November, and I could've fit the things I left behind and then some because my actual limit was 70lbs!LOL Oh well. DH can fit more gifts for us on the way back **big wink**.

All kidding aside... Please keep DH in your dua. He is traveling and the 24th is the one year anniversary of his mother's death. This is the first time he has been since her passing and I know it will be sad for him.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I should know better...


I am potty training my almost 2yo right now and all I have to say is that I have amnesia. Every time I embark on this potty training thing I forget what a mess/pain it is for me. I don't have stories about children who just stopped wetting themselves one day... Or came to me asking to be potty trained. No.

My first child did well at about 23 months and then promptly went back to diapers when my second was born about a month later.

My second didn't train until he was a little over 3yo...

My third trained at about 2 1/2 and drove me nuts by pooping in the corner of the playroom rather than his potty.

So why would the fourth be any different? I should know better than to think that she would be. I should be experienced enough to know that experience has nothing to do with these matters. And of course I don't even want to get into the whole competitive parenting thing where you get into using these events as measures of your skill as a mother. No, I will not go there.

But here I am potty training the baby. UGH. It is never a nice process. No one likes cleaning pee off the floor... No one likes prying a writhing toddler out of a messy pair of underwear... No one want to memorise the location of the restroom every time they enter a public building. No one. But we do it, and we manage to come through with our sanity intact... Long enough to forget it all before the next child. Maybe that's a blessing. Maybe we would never have that second child if we remembered all these little trials on detail.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Long overdue memes...


First meme from goodnight lamplight :)

Rules:
1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4. Tag five more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

My Memoir:

Affectionate brooding
creative Mother
seeking, submitting.



Meme from Bipolar Muslimah :)

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Rules:
1) Answer the following questions
2) Post on your blog with link to who tagged you
3) Tag a minimum of three other bloggers and include links to their blog in your tag. Make sure to let them know you’ve tagged them too.

Meme Questions:

1) What Qur’anic verse do you find most inspiring and why? What does it mean to you personally?

Sūra 93: Dhuḥā, or The Glorious Morning Light
(as translated by Yusuf Ali)

By the Glorious Morning Light,
And by the Night when it is still,-
Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present.
And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased.
Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)?
And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance.
And He found thee in need, and made thee independent.
Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,
Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard);
But the bounty of the Lord - rehearse and proclaim!

What does it mean to me personally? Well, I guess it speaks to me because I was wandering, and I did feel forsaken. So I remember reading that verse and feeling like it spoke to me directly.

2) What Hadith (Qudsi or Sunnah of the Prophet salalahi alahi wa salaam) do you find most inspiring and why?

A man came to the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, and said: "O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and people to love me." He, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, answered: "Be indifferent to the world and Allah will love you; be indifferent to what people possess and they will love you."
[related by Ibn Majah and others with good chains of authorities]

I find this hadith so perfect because it expresses the situation most of us are in. At some time we have all thought, "I want to please Allah, but I also find myself wanting people to like me..." And here is the answer. I love it because it doesn't just give you a "well who cares what people think" response. Subhan'Allah. I love it.

3) Other than the Prophet himself salalahi alahi wa salaam - what Muslim man do you find most inspiring and why?

Umar ibn al-Khattab. I guess because I admire his strength and I am always impressed that he did such a quick flip from wanting to kill the Prophet to being a believer. Also, on a personal level I feel like I did a 180 like that myself. I was studying Islam mostly to prove that women were oppressed and therefore it was a man-made religion... And well you see how that turned out;)

4) Who is the most inspiring Muslim woman to you and why?

Gosh, now that one is hard... I think right now Khadija because she was such a strong person and in my life right now I feel I need to work towards having some of the characteristics she had.

5) What CONTEMPORARY (i.e., living) Muslim do you find most inspiring and why?

Now that's easy. Hamza Yusuf, Hamza Yusuf, and Hamza Yusuf. Just listening to his lectures puts me back in that warm fuzzy idealistic place which I inhabited when I first came to Islam. I have never found another lecturer I like more.


6) How has Islam inspired you in your daily life?

I think more about charity now than I ever did before. I also think more about how I can avoid oppressing anyone in any way. And that goes for my marriage and my children too.

7) If you could do anything at all to inspire others through Islam, how would you do it?

I would love to be able to tour around the world with a group of learned people who LOVE islam and do little week long intensive studies programs for people who are interested in Islam... Even if they are wanting to prove it wrong... Because I believe that if people who really love the deen can talk to people about it long enough they will be the most convincing possible representatives.

Monday, April 07, 2008

You must try...

I went shopping at Sephoria in Denver and found some gems from a company called Benefit Cosmetics. I have combination skin (don't we all) going more towards oily... I still use Clinique soap, but the rest of my beauty regime has changed to the following:

This is a "lifting cream" which actually does manage to give the face a little firmness. I have been using this night and morning and I LOVE it. You see it officially hit me that I am thirty-something and need to start considering this stuff!LOL

Along the same lines as the firming cream, this one does wonders for the under eye area. Circles and lines gone. I use it day and night and for once in my life I have found an eye cream that doesn't leave me looking like I have seasonal allergies (aka watering red eyes).

Very cool salicylic acid blemish cream. It works... Does it need more of an endorsement?


The final gem, a tinted moisturizer with an spf 15. I have used the clinique version (city block) in the past but it always felt a little greasy. This one is working great for me so far.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Somebody stop me!


Well, at the end of last week I bought a ticket to ship DH off to Egypt for various family things that I think he needs to do even though he is shy to spend the money on a ticket. I guess I am in full panic mode now that he actually has a date for going because I am cooking and cleaning at full speed. I have re-arranged the living room for the millionth time, installed a closet organiser for DH, gone through all his clothes and separated and organised them, fixed some problems on his computer, swapped printers around between the house and the office, and am in the process of organising all the papers for his business that have been trickling into the house slowly over the winter months (when he hates to go to his office)... Oh and I am rearranging the kids room to include a toddler bed and going through all their clothes for the change of season (and sizes).

I have also been cooking. Sadly enough that means eating too. I haven't been that bad... But I am afraid that I need to get back on track and stop the snacking before I gain back any weight. I have made fried chicken, roasted chicken, baked donuts, pancakes, french toast, blueberry bars, pasta, meatball soup, well... Let's just say lots of stuff. I have the tendency to do this when I am stressed. Go figure. I guess I'd better stop soon. DH actually told me when I offered him the donuts today that I was going to put him into a sugar coma. Not a good sign!LOL

Anyway, I guess I am nervous and excited for DH. I think he really needs this trip. Please keep him in your dua, insha'Allah.