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.


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.