Thursday, December 24, 2009

Visit UmmLayla's Bookshelf

Please join my book group if you like to read. It's basically an online book club, check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

My nano wrap up post

So nanowrimo is officially over, and I am still writing as of noon on the 30th, but have already validated. I am planning on finishing and re-doing the word count once I get to the actual end of the novel... Which I'm thinking needs another 3k or so words. I have learned many things in this month... Such as: the more you write the easier it is... I can actually find something to write 2000 words about every day... and the most shocking of all, DH is very supportive of my writing. You have to know DH and his snarky nature to know that he would tell me if he thought I was just a silly woman writing a silly book. He actually likes the story and has been great about pushing me to go write when I am behind on my word-count, masha'Allah. Whoda thunk it?

So here is my official synopsis and excerpt from the nano page on my novel:

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

An American Muslim working as a teacher in an Islamic school and raising her three children is confounded when her husband's trip home to Cairo pushes her head-first into a plural marriage. Her engineer husband is as surprised as she is by this development, but a strong connection with his new neighbor in Cairo makes him take this path. The second wife is of an age where she has given up on getting married and in spite of reservations about becoming a second wife she accepts and enters into this new family.

They soon enter into a strange domestic dance that involves rivalry, pain, betrayal and eventually friendship.


My body must weigh 1000 pounds. I can’t get up, I can’t speak. The cat jumps onto the couch and lays on my yarn, I just leave her. I want to cry, I want to scream, I want to rip his balls off. But wait, wait. Is Kareema confused? Is she reading into this situation? Of course. She would never make that call unless she was sure. Unless he had talked to her about it specifically. Of course he talked to her about it specifically. Shit.

“Kids, just get ready for bed and go to your rooms when the movie is over, OK?” I say, and I rush upstairs to my room. Once I get there I’m not even sure if I should be angry or upset. I start crying, those horrible hiccuping sobs that catch in your throat and make your chest hurt. I feel like I am going to explode. What an asshole. The first time we are apart for more than a week and he does this? I knew he believed in polygyny, but actually marrying again? I guess he's lucky he’s across the ocean right now because if he was in the room I’d hit him square in the face.

I try to breathe deeply. I try to control the sobbing. The feeling that I’m too heavy is still there. And when I close my eyes it's like I’m on a tilt-a-whirl. Puking is a real possibility. So is setting his belongings on fire. Maybe changing the locks and sending him divorce papers via Fed-Ex. You see Muslim women don’t delude themselves about sister-wife, one big happy in the celestial kingdom… Polygyny is a man’s right and a woman’s test. In my estimation it’s also a mans test because there is such an emphasis on fairness with your wives, but that‘s another subject. And leave it to an engineer to be confident that he can do the math on fairness in marriage.

Now what am I supposed to do? Call him and get it over with, wait for him to call me, never speak to him again. All these seem like arguable options at this point. I take a few Tums from the dresser and chew them angrily. I need to take the day off tomorrow, does “just found out my husband is marrying again” fall under the family and medical leave act? I sure hope so.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And I thought I had no traditions!

With Eid coming up it has occurred to me that I can stop complaining because I DO have Eid traditions even though I think I don't. Here they are in all thier glory:

1) The Eid "argument with my SIL about Eid activities" where I discuss the merits of "Amazing Jake's" as an appropriate Eid activity. You see, I came from a warm family time and holiday dinners background and an indoor amusement park just doesn't scream holidays to me... Not to mention it's EXPENSIVE when you have 4 kids.

2) The traditional "Denver or Laramie debate" where we decide whether or not to drive three hours to Colorado and when.

3) The ever enjoyable "rush to do all the laundry and clean the house" which is an international tradition enjoyed by all Muslimahs before Eid.

4) The traditional "What will the kids wear for Eid?" which usually means DH promising we will go to Ft Collins to shop until it is too late to do an internet order and I have to figure something out with what I already have as far as clothes.

5) My Eid "plan to cook more than humanly possible under the circumstances" where I make a menu that would require three of me to make and then shop for it, resulting in an overrun fridge and only part of my menu getting cooked.

6) The "get off your ass and get dressed for the Eid prayer" where I try to prod my DH who works nights and is usually just drifting off at that time to get dressed, shower and attend the Eid prayer with the family. I usually lose this battle and just end up making myself late.

So you see, I do have traditions! And I'm sure that just brushes the surface of the traditions I actually have! Ahhh, fun times my dears, fun times!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I am sooooo EXCITED!!!

How psyched am I to know that for a week I will get to go to a Waldorf childcare seminar with the author of the above book, which I read when Layla was a baby! It's part of a program called Lifeways... And if you are interested in Waldorf for young children you should check them out. I got the curriculum for the Lifeways course I am enrolling in and I am just so excited to learn more and hear ideas from people doing what I hope to do with my program! I can't wait! The big debate right now is how staying in Boulder during the program is going to look. I don't know if I will be there and DH will stay here with the kids or if we will all go and DH will hang out with the kids during the seminar. Anyway, however it works out I am so happy to have found this at such a perfect time, alhamdulilah. I feel like I've been blessed with this preschool idea... Every time I start to struggle something comes along that eases the burden. I feel like this will give me some real perspective on accomplishing my goals with my program.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Writing and other stuff...

If you follow me on Twitter or friend me on facebook you already know that my current obsession is Nanowrimo. I have started outlining my plot and am chomping at the bit to get writing.

The daycare is coming along and in prep for going back to work I am trying to get the house under control. I said trying, not succeeding. One of my brainstorms was to have the kids each have only one dish (a big shallow bowl) and they are to was it and eat out of it all day. I got the dishes and wrote names on the sides and showed the kids to wash them. Only to find my sink clogged with cereal since the 6yo forgot the throw your food in the trash can part. So much for saving time in the kitchen!LOL Seriously, I think once they get used to it it will be helpful.

I am also researching Waldorf schools and was happy to find someone running a preschool in Boulder that I can visit sometime, insha'Allah. I also think I will enroll in a national program for Waldorf educators that I found. It takes about a year, and I think it would be worth it.

We are down to the final things in the daycare, and my yard is my current project. We have a cedar play-set and I am looking into using landscaping elements to make a "natural" playground. Hype and craziness aside... It's a cool idea. I like the way you can use hills and tree stumps to make play areas, and I think the simple natural look is what I need with the Waldorf inspired curriculum. I am looking into having rabbit hutches in the yard too. I would love to have chickens, but apparently birds in general carry disease and are to be nowhere in the vicinity. I hope to work around that, but for now bunnies are fine.

Other than that???? Well the usual. I have thoughts, I'd love to talk about Mubarak and setting up his son for the presidency (if you can call it that still)... I am fighting a 3 million dollar daycare being built by a local millionaire with state money (like he couldn't pay for it himself)... And of course I am struggling to keep my sanity with 4 kids (5 if you include my DH).

So I hope to see some of you out there doing nanowrimo. If you are my name is ummlayla, make me your writing buddy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I still love my blog...

I have been neglecting the whole blogging scene due to lack of time. I try to read the blogs I love and comment... But sometimes I just don't have time! WAHHH! So I am neglecting my poor little blog it seems.

What's going on with me and mine lately... All 6 of us apparently have Type A influenza, which means most likely the dreaded H1N1 virus. It hasn't been that bad really, masha'Allah. It does mean that the kids are taking a week off school and we are all under voluntary house arrest. I did some online shopping, we made chicken soup and beef broth and ate it with rice and boiled potatoes almost every day!LOL

Also, the construction for the daycare is really progressing now. Insha'Allah we are only a month away from opening. Of course you just never know and we aren't committed to a date yet.

I am still working on the podcast. I have been trying to get a good take which doesn't seem to be happening. I am sleepy if I get up and try to do it before anyone wakes up and then if I try to do it in the afternoon or evening someone always bugs me. I will get it up eventually!LOL

I have been twittering away. I think I'm addicted!LOL I like it because interesting things come up in a compact format. Just sound bites that lead to more thought on the subject. I follow some authors and I love how ordinary their tweets are... It makes me feel like they aren't so high above really, anyone can write.

Speaking of which, I hope someone out there will join me in National Novel Writing Month this November. I did the novel in the month thing once before and had fun with it. I think doing it in November will be even better, insha'Allah. Drop me a comment if you are at all interested, maybe if you are hedging I can talk you into it!LOL The whole idea of doing it in November is the working together.

On the creative front... I have many many UFO's (unfinished objects for those of you who don't speak craftinese) that I keep promising to work on. One of the cool things about having four kids is that sometimes if the intended recipient outgrows something before it's finished I can give it to the next kiddo. Oh, come on crafters out there don't act like you never had a sweater on the needles in a size four when your kid was a size six, I know your secrets!LOL I also plan to make some skirts for my 3yo, she likes these girly girl things and I saw a little tutu inspired skirt on the Hanna Andersson site that just begged me to copy it. Also, I want to make some sweaters that are messed up into little wool leggings and skirts, insha'Allah. toddler clothes are quick and fun, and they can't complain about not liking something *insert evil laugh here*.

So if anyone is still with me, I miss you all *sniff, sniff*. I will blog more as we settle into a routine with all the school and swimming and violin and what-not. And of course once things settle with the daycare. Oh, and if anyone knows the blogger American Muslim Writer please keep her in your dua... Her last post suggested that she is going through a tough time and she hasn't posted since. I'm worried about her.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Internet Narcs, here's something new for you...

Anyone who is a veteran internet user has been found by some relative, acquaintance, co-worker, whatever that feels they now have the "dirt" on you. Of course this type of person is not usually motivated by good. They are looking for the things to say about you to your spouse, the community, your employer... And they will stretch and fabricate to suit their purpose. To me they are like a real life internet troll. They have the same goal, to stat a conflict and get attention.

I imagine that it is partly because of this that blogs go private, stay general, and basically avoid inflammatory personal stories most of the time. I'm sure that there are other issues (nasty commenters and internet stalkers) but I think this one hits home for me more than the others. There are a few brave soles that share in spite of this, and whenever I read them I am thinking of what they must go through. You see, nasty commenters are just haters, and they are attacking Islam or whatever aspect of my writing as an idea. Even when they get personal, it's not personal because they don't know me.

The more devious internet troll that I call an internet narc does know me, and is into my business not in the comments section but in real life. This is not just annoying, it's fitna. I for one don't understand it. What can you gain from this? I guess only the sick satisfaction of making sure someone else has problems in their life too.

And in spite of this I am throwing a new bone to the internet trolls out there, a podcast. I have been messing with it, downloading software, setting up hosting... It's called "The Muslimah Next Door". Maybe you've read my ramblings about a book for converts??? A kinda practical guide to Islam? The podcast is a branch from that tree, and of course you might imagine that I love to talk so I'm a natural for podcasting. Hmmm, that sounds arrogant... I just mean I can fill 30 minutes no problem and hopefully a few of them are intelligent and useful!LOL Insha'Allah I will get it all figured out by the end of the week. Look for it on the sidebar. And all you internet narcs, go ahead and dissect if you would like. Repeat things out of context, twist meanings... I'm having so much fun doing it that I just don't care! **insert evil laugh here**

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ramadan blessings...

Ramadan is full of mixed feelings for me, and I have been trying to write a post about that for a few days now. It just doesn't seem to be coming together. Maybe I'm just clouded by low blood sugar or something. If you are wondering about the picture... That is what I am focusing on this Ramadan. Trusting Allah. Trusting that all the things I am experiencing are part of my fate, Trusting that I have to do what is right and everything else will come, trusting that if He handed me a challenge I can meet it. Anyway, Ramadan and me...

The good part, is pretty simple. I feel closer to the religion, I am reminded all day of the importance of Allah in my life, and my husband and I share meals together on a regular basis (something our schedules don't always allow us to do).

Then there is the down side... I feel more isolated than usual because I know people everywhere are sharing iftar invitations and going to the mosque. And these are things that we just don't do. So there will come a time in the month when I will feel really sad about that. I will remember how much I enjoy cooking for a party, how much I would love to go to the masjid and pray a peaceful taraweh.

Realistically, I know I'm not the only person in this situation. I know the hadith about being strangers, the one about holding onto the deen being like holding onto a hot coal. And I still feel a little sad sometimes. I am an extrovert. People around me do matter. Things around me do matter. Although I'm not weak, and I will hold my beliefs even if they are different than those around me... But I do feed off of the rare person who sees things as I do. And right now, those people are a phone call or an online chat rather than a physical presence. And that's hard.

I'm not just crying into my latte here. I'm hoping that if you are like me and you are reading this... Don't let it get to you. Do something fun, something memorable for your kids... Even if you are all alone in your celebration. You have to build your own memories, start your own traditions. You are shooting without a script. It's hard, but you chose this path. And you wouldn't be on it if you didn't believe it was the better way. Most of all, remember that you are not alone. Somewhere out there is someone like me, doing the exact same thing as you... And in my heart I am with you. And I will remember that all of you are with me even if we live hundreds of miles apart.

So I am making dua for all of you. Kiss your kids for me. Buy your spouse something special to wear to the Eid prayer. Feed that elderly neighbor a share of your iftar (even though they are not Muslim). Hang some lights around your house. And remember you are not alone.

Happy Ramadan friends, I hope this is a time of prayer and reflection for all of you wherever you are in the world.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I heart this easy bread thing...

I bought the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day maybe 4 months ago... And I have been really enjoying it. One thing that has been a challenge is finding a large container that I can use to mix and store the dough in. I found this at Sam's yesterday:

It's 6 quarts and if you can't see there are three of them. That means that I can have a loaf pan dough, a sweet dough and a basic dough and just refill as needed. I like mixing in the same container I store in and before that was impossible because I was storing in a casserole type tupperware. I am also moving a little half fridge that DH had at work to the basement so I can store the bread dough without eating up all my fridge space. Here is one with the dough just mixed in it (plenty of room to rise):

If you have not tried this method and you definitely should. I don't know why I was making it so much harder than it had to be all this time. You really can make bread in only five minutes a day. It's so nice!!! There is nothing like fresh baked bread, it just smells so wonderful and tastes so good!!! Next to nice fresh laundry smell there is nothing more comforting to me than fresh bread throughout the house.

Does this mean that my bread-making has reached the level of obsessive? **wink** MMMM, no one is complaining yet!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Taking a bite out of history

One of the stranger things that I like to do is cook things in a traditional manner. What I mean is historical recipes that might use techniques and ingredients we would now find tiresome and antiquated. This extends to other areas such as clothing, making household items and so on. I find it to be interesting and more importantly it's a way to really get in touch with history. I personally am more interested in the way things were for the average person than I am in big events. It gives you a sense of how things have changed and an appreciation for how people of that period felt about the big events... In short it gives you perspective.

So, when I read my kids Little House on the Prairie I got this book:

And when I could I cooked what we were reading about. Some things I ended up liking and I do them seasonally now. Crab-apple jelly for instance. But we don't always like them. Well, to be honest our processed food taste means we often will find these simpler foods strange and we won't like them. But, it is fun to try them anyway and really get a sense of what life was like for the people making them.

I also like quilting using the more traditional patterns and methods. I have even pieced by hand, and it turned out pretty nice. And you may know that I like knitting, and crochet... I have even tried my hand at tatting (making lace), but I never caught on!LOL

So, I'm sure someday I will find my way to a volunteer job at a living history museum... Maybe I'll be one of those crazy volunteers you see on PBS or TLC when they challenge people to live like people in a given period of history. I would love it!!!LOL But for now I'm off to make a recipe from the book I got at the Living History Farm in Iowa... Maybe brown bread in a coffee can???

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 Ramadan Craft (gift box)

I like to do a craft every year and post a tutorial for Ramadan. Last year I missed it, this year I wanted to be early so you can do one if you like the idea, insha'Allah. So here it is:

You will need:

Glue, paintbrush, paper mache or cardboard box, duct tape (craft colored type) and tissue paper.

First, mix your glue with an equal amount of hot water to thin it out.

Then have some fun tearing the tissue paper into little squares (maybe 1 inch???).

Then brush the glue onto the surface of your box.

Now lay the tissue paper into the glue. Once you do the whole thing, give it a coat of the glue over the entire surface. You may want to do that part for the younger ones because the tissue paper can get too wet and move if you brush hard. Let it dry for a few hours after this step.

Take your box and draw a template. Then use the size to create a design for the top of your box.

Here you can see mine, a crescent and a star.

Now take that design and cut it out of your gold foil (or whatever contrasting color you like). Then use your thin glue to paste it onto the lid and give it a little top coat when you are finished.

Next, take the duct tape and cover the edge as shown.

Fold the edges of the tape to cover the rim of the box. I did this to protect the decorative finish from the opening and closing of the lid.

Repeat the process with the rim of the lid.

On the inside lid paste a printed message explaining the box and its contents to the recipient. Mine says:

"Right now Muslims all over the world are celebrating the month of Ramadan. You may know that it is a time of fasting from sunrise to sunset and a special chance for us to grow in our faith. What you may not know is that it is also a time for sharing food and company with our family and friends. Our family would like to share a small gift with you and we hope that you will enjoy it. These cookies are called kahk, and are a special treat shared by Egyptian families during the month of Ramadan.

Peace and blessings to you and your loved ones."

This is the finished box, and as you may have guessed by the inside of the lid we plan to use it as a container for cookies to be given to friends. Be sure to line the box with something if you fill it with food, oil from the food could damage it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

We are on the road right now. On an RV trip to be specific (which is another post entirely)and we made our way from WY to Niagra Falls and are now going back and hitting some things we wanted to see. I personally have always wanted to see what a city filled with Muslims would be like... So we made our way towards Dearborn, MI. We shopped, we ate and I marveled at the microchasm (no spell check right now so please forgive the spelling) of Islam in America.

We have had trouble with the generator, discovered that RV parks cost more than bidding for hotels on Priceline and were shocked at the behavior of mass amounts of Arabs (they all park on the freeway to watch fireworks ya'll!!!)... And we had a good time.

Niagra Falls was nice, but bring your passport because the Canadian side is the best.

Check out The Henry Ford Museum if you are ever in Dearborn... I liked it, and even if DH says I like all museums (which is true) I swear this one was nice.

We also checked out the living history farm near Des Moine, Iowa. The kids milked a cow, which of course happened around some live illustrations of farming in early America... But who's gonna remember that with all the cow milking???

Anyway, that's where I am... We are headed home and will arrive Wednesday??? Insha'allah.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Blog Carnival post on White Privilege... Very Late.

This blog carnival is one that I promised myself I would write for... Of course I am late so I hope the sister who is organising will accept my apology and my entry. It's a good topic, and being lily-white Muslimah I have thoughts on it!LOL

Craving the Spotlight

As a White Muslim you are a BIG DEAL. You are a superstar at Muslim gatherings. And unless you are painfully shy you will eventually start to love it, NEED it. No, really. Everyone will ask you how you converted and tell you how wonderful you are. You learn masha'Allah and think maybe it means something like "Look, there goes the only American smart enough to convert to Islam." The entire community is ready to marry you off if you happen to be single.

Then the reality of your new life starts to set in. When you peel back the thin veneer of this "welcome" you will find that you are an outsider. You will see all too clearly that the praise only keeps coming as long as you aren't challenging anyone. The minute you dare to contradict you will find out that born Muslims automatically assume you to be uneducated in matters of religion. And where a lesson or hint may be appreciated in the first months after you convert... The assumptions start to sting once you have been Muslim for a few years. They come from unexpected places. Even your spouse may pull the born Muslim card on you. So we are knocked off the pedestal the community put us on swiftly and unceremoniously. And we fall hard.

Here we were thinking that we were trading one community for another. We tolerated the looks that the old ladies at the grocery shot us because we knew the Muslims understood us. The Muslims were proud of us. The Muslims thought we were smart. Well, maybe they did anyway. It's an unpleasant surprise to find out that everyone still thinks of you as a child even when you have been Muslim for years. There is also the matter of feeling like you have to fight the culture that people THINK is Islam all the time. And usually both these things are in play when you feel like the community just doesn't get you. The attention you learned to love, turns sour overnight. You realise that no one ever seeks more from you than your conversion story and you start to get tired of telling it.

I have left more gatherings with tears than I care to remember. I NEVER feel like I fit in. The ideals of Islam and the truth about the Muslims of today are just so far apart. I don't think people dislike me, but I do think they are full of negative assumptions about me. I challenge these people who think they know so much to ask themselves how much direct knowledge from learned people do they have? You can't just assume that because you have been following your cultures "Muslim" version of life for years you know all there is to know about the religion. Worse yet, you might be surprised at how much of what you think you know has NOTHING to do with Islam.

So, here we white converts are in between a cultural rock and a religious hard place. We aren't American anymore because once you out yourself as Muslim by dress, actions or talk you don't really fit in with the other people from your cultural background anymore. At the same time, we will never be Egyptian, Arab, Pakistani, whatever... So we will never fit into the groups that the Muslim community divides itself into either. By choosing Islam we have chosen life as an outsider.

So, yes... We have the admiration of the Muslim community. People will offer us jobs and spouses thinking we are just so great and wonderful. But they will never really accept us. So maybe we are privileged... And maybe not. I guess that depends on how you define it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

This is where I grew up. So if you wonder why I just feel like a square peg in a round hole here in Wyoming... It's a far cry from Cairo, but I'm not going to claim that I understand for a second why my husband has adapted better than me!LOL

Monday, May 25, 2009

Children's Literature

Children's books are a great love of mine. And since Muslim Hippie did a post on her favorites, I thought I would share mine.

First, and foremost...

I also love...


Of course you can't talk children's books without mentioning...

And a new favorite around our house...

And the whole series that started with...

And I hope all children get to read a little of his work...

And I have enjoyed reading his work to my kids...

And even adults can laugh at...

Of course I could go on and on... I love books, and I love children's books. Just wanted to share, maybe you would all share yours too!!! Let me know if you do.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calgon, take me away...

There are things that I miss about being single. Being able to take a bath undisturbed is DEFINATLY one of them. And I'm going to confess that since becoming Muslim I miss having a glass of wine while in said bath. What I wouldn't do for the bath pictured above and a nice glass of white wine. Now, don't go all crazy on me... I don't drink, and I know it's forbidden... But I do see the temptation of a three margarita play date every now and then!LOL Ohhhh, don't listen to me... I've had a long day already and it's only noon. :P

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer homeschooling challenge #1

I am going to do a summer program at home for the kids this year. I have been planning it and the first hurdle is: Taking the above pictured mess (now a storage room) and making it into a classroom. It's going to be nice, insha'Allah... And that room needs to be cleared out anyway... But it's also going to be a pain in the butt!LOL My plan is to have school desks and a computer. I will also set up book shelves. Right now I am working on that room and searching for a math curriculum. I am also compiling a summer reading list and digging out the HSing books that have been in storage since we moved. I have enrolled in a few activities and need to print some wall calendars to start a master schedule. I'm excited, and I want to start on June 8th so I have some serious work to do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm still here!!!

I haven't updated in awhile, so I will share with you a few things that I have been meaning to posts about.

I am totally dreaming of going to this event from Zaytuna Institute. **big sigh** Anyone want to watch the kids for a week and loan me $1,600??? OK OK!!! Don't get mad, I was just asking!LOL

My very sweet SIL from Egypt saved my behind from wardrobe hell by bringing me several wonderful summer shirts/ ensembles from Egypt. Some were ready right away, and a couple need hemming/alterations. Anyway, I have a great head start on my summer clothing. Alhamdulilah.

I am going tomorrow afternoon to get a massage for the first time ever in my life. I have migraine headaches and in the interest of saving my liver from my overuse of migraine meds I am trying to find alternative ways to deal with my headaches. I will probably go to a chiropractor as well when I find one I like here in town. I'm hoping that the idea of having a strange person all up in my space won't undo any relaxing effect said massage might have.

I got a new kitchen tool the other day, an onion dicer (I hate chopping onions)... And the clutz that I am I had it on the counter and was leaning forward over it trying to push the onion through the chopper, when it slipped and the end I was pushing on went down and the front went up launching the stupid thing into my forehead. So no, that's not a prayer mark... That's a BRUISE because I am too dippy to use a simple kitchen tool safely. Yeah, it's true.

I got some great fabric on sale in Denver and I am planning to make myself some clothes. I also got a very groovy canvas tent pattern that I am going to make up for my kids and the daycare, insha'Allah. I think it will be very cool, I will post pics, insha'Allah.

I am looking into self-publishing a book that I mentioned some time ago... A kinda practical how to deal book for female converts, the girlfriends guide to Islam is the working title. I will be looking for other converts to talk about their experiences, so leave me your e-mail if you are interested. I AM struggling with the content a little because I was thinking about having some scholars answer questions, and even if I can find someone to do that... I think I am going way outta my league by having too much specific religious content. I want it to be a real life thing, not a collection of fiqh for women; I'm not qualified for that obviously.

Other than that... The house is still a mess because we went to Denver for a week, but I have high hopes for getting it done this weekend. And I need to take on the project of making curtains for the living room, but I know that I will do something fun like the tent instead... I'm not the most practical mom after all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This week I need to...

I have so many things to do this week, and I am determined to get them done... But I always manage to slack off. I made dua this morning for help with all the things I have to do... I need it. So, here it is:

-Get the kids ready for their Goha presentations. DS is doing a story about tricking 2 thieves and he will dress as Goha and tell it in first person. Layla is doing the story above about Goha teaching his son a lesson while walking with a donkey through town. She will do a storyboard to go along with it. So, i need to complete the display of the story board and make DS's jilbab.

-Get my bathroom ready to try and have someone come in and put tile on our peeling plaster shower wall.

-Get my house in order and picked up so I can bring someone to help clean before my SIL comes from Egypt maybe as soon as this weekend (not that I can afford that, but I will be SOOOOO embarrassed if I don't have it clean at least the living room carpet).

-Do the piles of laundry in the upstairs hallway.

-Get some kind of sleeping arrangement for my SIL figured out, and hopefully figure out some solutions for if SIL #2 comes with.

-Bake cupcakes for the sale on Friday.

-Try not to have a nervous breakdown about doing all of the above!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I HATE shopping!!!

I used to LOVE shopping. No, really. Especially for shoes. I was known for my unique shoes. I had my "utility" pair of birks, but everything else was an original. I think I did some serious damage to my feet shoving them into platforms. And I had a thing for tall boots with short skirts. I'm short you see, and long dresses and loose clothes will inevitably leave me looking frumpy and grandma-ish. So along with the normal changes that go with becoming an actual adult and having to dress like one, I am also still struggling with how to rock the modesty thing. You see once I was stripped of my platforms and my baby-doll dresses, my retro chic thrift-store finds, I was left with very little in my wardrobe. I had a total of maybe 2 pairs of drawstring pants, 1 skirt and 2 shirts that I could wear when I converted. And I solved the problem with a few jilbabs. They were the overcoat style and I liked them for teaching, they looked professional. Then I moved to Wyoming and married a man who thinks jilbabs are for the porter's (AKA doorman's) wife. And the wardrobe thing has been a problem ever since.

So I guess it's no surprise that I HATE shopping. Of course when I have to take the kids it's a nightmare. Any mom with more than one will have that problem. But even when I go on my own I find myself staring blankly at rack after rack and finding nothing. Then you add into it that everything I like DH will hate and everything he suggests I will hate... It just sucks the joy right out of the experience!!!

I guess all hijabis here in the states suffer from this to some degree, but I am getting down to a bare closet here and I will have to face my shopping demons soon. I just don't know where I am supposed to shop, or even what I am looking for. Every time I buy something I am compromising, and nothing fits me correctly. You see, I am short... No, shorter than that. 5 feet in shoes short. So, everything is long through the arms and the waist is in the wrong place. So, I have trouble finding things that don't look goofy because the "waist" is cinching the chunky part of my belly. And though I consider the top of my knuckles the correct length for a long sleeve (I used to loop my thumbs through before it was cool and they made juniors Shirts that way) when the shoulders slump and the arms are 2-3 inches over the end of my hand, it's too much.

So here I am, the one bright spot in my shopping trips is Sephoria (cosmetics). And I end up buying clothes that don't fit and don't reflect my personality. I feel like such a frump. I just wish I could find even one outfit that made me feel great. Oh, and if I could find a store that consistently carried even something as basic as loose shirts that actually cover my behind... That would just be icing.

So:P on shopping. Maybe someday I will find a way to enjoy it again but for now it's a chore.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

getting to know your local ER

There isn't a mom out there who hasn't taken their child to the ER at least once. If you have four you just multiply that... So I know the local ER pretty well, and they know me. I am sitting there right now because it looks like DS#2 has chicken-pox. Lovely right? See, I knew I shouldn't have let the public health nurse guilt me into the vaccine!LOL

But what I really want to say is a little alhamdulilah.

Alhamdulilah I live in a place where the state makes sure kids can afford to go to the ER even if their parents don't have a job with insurance.

Alhamdulilah I am here for something simple and totally treatable.

Alhamdulilah for how long it has been since DH was the one I was here with (masha'allah).

Alhamdulilah I live in a time and place where a minor childhood illness is not life threatening.

Anyway, alhamdulilah.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Cupcakes for a bake sale...

The kids are having a bake sale at school... They are on a university campus so they will be selling them in the student union during lunch. I have 2 kids in 2/3 which is the group doing the sale so today was my first day and my next one is on a few weeks away. I made 2 dozen lemonade cupcakes (basically replace half the liquid in a white cake with frozen lemonade concentrate and add a couple drops of yellow to the batter). And I think the next ones will be spiced chai... Don't you just love cupcakes?

I am also working on the kid's presentations on folktales. I am doing Goha, so I need two different stories (one per kid). I know I'm doing the one about the nail... Do any of you know another good one? I have some books coming from Amazon, but any thoughts would help!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Toys for boys...

It's hard to find things to make for the boys, but I got a great book at Barnes and Noble called Creepy Cute Crochet and I have been having some fun with it. This is a knight (maybe 5 inches tall so it works up QUICK) I did for my oldest son since he seems to be into knights right now for some reason. Next I'm doing a cute little monkey with a fez to hang in the car and a ninja for DS #2.

Friday, March 20, 2009

call me book dork...

You know you are a bibliophile when you spend your free day out of town book shopping. And when you find yourself giddy when faced with a warehouse of Islamic books. And when you total up your spending on said books and realize you have really passed your 100$ limit. And then you go to Barnes and Noble and spend even more...

Not that I'm talking about me here **blushing** but like if that stuff happened that girl would definitely be a book dork... **grin**

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book suggestions???

I am trying to add a new habit to my life every 30 days... Do something useful every day for 30 minutes until I have a new habit. This month, study religion for 30 minutes every day. So, any books I should read??? Audiobooks, podcasts, internet videos are all especially welcome. Thoughts? What are your favorites? Of course something that requires thought, but not anything too dry. I know, I'm asking a lot when we are talking translations for the most part I know... And any tips on reading without freaking out over poor grammar and misused words obviously gleaned directly from the pages of an Arabic to English dictionary are always welcome!LOL

Friday, March 13, 2009

Being religious without being plastic...

Can it be done? I always have the feeling that I am one of those converts who just sounds plastic when they start talking deen. Have you ever noticed how silly it is when a person who doesn't really mean it is all, alhamdulilah, masha'Allah, and so on? It is very rare that I meet a person who can tell a story about God in their life without sounding like someone bearing witness to a tel-evangelist.

Have you ever wondered if seeming a little fake is just the nature of being a convert? Or maybe the nature of being religious in general... Maybe it's because along with the religion we try to adopt the culture. Or maybe I'm just over-critical. I try hard to be myself... Sometimes that is strict, sometimes I am pretty relaxed... And I think that I probably make some converts pretty uncomfortable with it sometimes. But I try to be upfront with my views.

It's one of the things I think we all have to work on in our lives if we want to progress as a religious group beyond practicing the deen within the context of a culture. I mean, if we are all just putting on the good Muslim mask doing what we think other Muslims expect us to do, saying what is widely accepted... How will we ever progress?

So I propose that we should all do what we believe. You have a cultural background that you can keep if it doesn't conflict with the religion, and that's OK. And if you are uneducated and not sure... Find an answer. Don't just become a convert doll saying the things you have heard when someone pulls your string. Own your answers. Own your deen. And hopefully you won't feel plastic at all, ever.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New doll

Here are some pictures of a doll I just finished. Insha'Allah it will go to meet its little girl soon;)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Conversations with my 2 year old

So lately I have been telling the older children to give the 2 year old some room when she gets into their things, bugs them, cries for something they have, whatever. I tell them, "She's just being a toddler, be patient with her." So yesterday I was in the kitchen and I heard the sound of small objects skittering across linoleum and I looked behind me to see the 2yo pouring a package of mini m&m's through the tube in the paper towel out onto the floor of the kitchen and watching them as they went everywhere in the kitchen and under all the appliances. I stood looking at her not knowing what to say, and she saw me. She finished the package and then looked up at me, "Is this being a toddler?". Well, I guess it is!LOL

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Capturing the muse...

I don't know about how other creative types work, but I don't choose when I can muster up the full force of my creative mind on something. So, when I heard the title of a lecture series for educators here in WY was Teaching Creativity... It brought to mind the two major questions I have always had about creativity.

Is creativity innate, or can it be learned?

Can creativity be forced or directed?

Well, here's my answer as a performer, writer, and generally right-brained person. Creativity is innate, and you can't force or direct it (much to the chagrin of people like myself).

You know the chorus of that song by Sara Bareilles where the chorus says "I'm not gonna write you a love song 'cause you ask for it, 'cause you need one." For me it's like that. I don't choose what inspires me, and it isn't always logical. I can't set out to write (poems are the worst) about something because I want to write on a certain topic. Things either come to me or they don't. It was the hardest thing about being a live performer playing characters... It would sometimes take me a long time before I saw that character in my mind, before the whole thing came to me. And I still can't choose to write a poem, I can't sit down to do that before it comes to me spontaneously. I have often wondered how artists paint commissioned works. How do they draw inspiration to do something someone else is choosing for them? And writing for a deadline must be really hard. I think this must be where the myth of the muses comes from. People knew that things just came to you, and they wanted a reason that would explain why creativity couldn't just be turned on when you needed it.

What I do think we can do for our children is offer them a variety of creative arts so they can find their niche. Somewhere inside of us all there is some small seed of creativity, and I do think we can help our children to nurture that. I want my kids to try all sorts of mediums as they grow, maybe they will find something they love. But I disagree with the idea that I can teach them to "be creative". Do you see what I mean?

This is where you see that some people are crafty, and some are artistic. You can see it when you go to classes for arts and crafts. The person who has a very logical brain will produce a replica of the instruction sheet. The artistic person (if they dig the project) will somehow give it their own flair.

I wish we would just accept that you can't force someone to love and be inspired by anything. You can't teach someone to love reading novels. No matter how good they are technically at reading. You just can't, and what a crazy disorganised world it would be if we all just went around pursuing artistic endeavors. We NEED the diversity of logical and creative... So I hope they NEVER find a way to teach creativity, or logical thinking for that matter.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Go rent it NOW!!!

I will admit that as DH has accused me of in the past I like to rent things that CAIR hates... Or protests or whatever because I like to form my own ideas about the work. I'm a rebel like that. And the NAME of this movie was disliked by CAIR. They made the argument that it would normalize the insult and more people would feel free to say it. I don't agree with that argument. See, it doesn't matter how much you hear a racial slur... It's still a racial slur. Just pause and think... How many times would you have to say nigger before it would be acceptable vernacular? Yeah, no way. Anyway, I digress.

This movie has some strong sexual content. And some strong messages about the sexuality of young women... But just like the director's other film American Beauty (another must see) it really dissects and lays open for you such a tender time in the main character's life. And wow. I saw it last night and I am still thinking about it today. DH didn't watch it, but I have told him the whole thing!!! So, go watch and just think deep thoughts about it. I know I did.

And so you know, I think she could've been from any minority group and the film would have been the same basically. It just needed a conservative cultural backdrop... So don't think it's all anti-Arab or anything. It's not. It is about racism though... Among other things.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Answering tags.....

I got tagged twice for this one, and of course I want to say thank you to the moms who tagged me and the best way to do that is to post it!
Umm Nassim from Islamic Unit Studies and Mona from Mama Mona
Here are the rules of this tag:

1. Admit one thing you feel awful about (involving being a mom). Once you have written it down, you are no longer allowed to feel bad. Remember you are a good mom!

2. Remind yourself that you ARE a good mom, list 7 things you love about your kids, you love doing with your kids, or that your kids love about you.

3. Send this to 5 other moms of the year that deserve a reminder that they too are the best moms that they can be. Remember to send them a note letting them know you have selected them, and also add a link to your post that directs people back to the person who nominated you!

OK, so here are my answers...
1. I lack the patience I once had... And I don't get down on the floor/in the dirt/on the grass/wherever and play with my kids. Being a playful parent has always been important to me and somewhere along the line I lost touch with that.

2. I. I love that my kids will try almost anything.
II. I love playing in the bath with my 2 year old.
III. I love the way my youngest son keeps trying at something until he gets it.
IV. I love how well my oldest daughter draws, and how she sees things with an artist's eyes.
V. I love taking my kids to the movies.
VI. I love taking naps cuddled up with the baby.
VII. I love the way all of the kids smell fresh out of the bath. (don't we all!)

3. I tag... Well...
Ruqayyah from Bipolar Muslimah
Mona from The Imam's Daughter
UmmYehiya from Goodnight Lamplight
Umm Ibrahim from Stranger in This Dunya

And also thanks to UmmHasan from The Muslim Clothing Store for the award ;)