Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eid-ul-Adha Mubarak and Happy New Year!

We’ve been back from vacation less than a week; it was a lot of fun (and very tiring.) So far Eid has been equally tiring, or perhaps I just haven’t recovered from the vacation? Aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing? What’s up with that?

Anyhow, sorry I’ve been MIA. I’ll write more in 2007. For now I hope all of you have a wonderful Eid-ul-Adha and a prosperous new year!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

One year and 133 posts later I’m surprised to see that this blog is still going strong. When I first started this, it was really a way for me to document everything I am doing with my girls so I remember for the future. I really didn’t think people would be reading or even benefiting from it. Now I notice many people visiting daily, thanks to the statcounter and emails I receive. I just wanted to thank you all for visiting and for all the emails that I get from all over the world. I apologize for not replying to you all right away, things can get a little hectic around here (no thanks to SIMS 2, which by the way we will be playing on our drive up to Toronto, WOOHOO 21 hours of SIMS!!!) Anyhow, I know a lot of people don’t leave comments, I’m not a big commenter either, but I would love it if (just out of curiosity) you all would either leave a comment or email me and let me know how you found my blog and what you liked reading. Also please let me know if there is any other topic you might like me to blog about regarding homeschooling, islam, raising children, etc… (I am still working on a socialization post. Inshallah will be up soon.)

We’re leaving in a few days so I won’t be around for a couple of weeks. I hope you all have wonderful holidays, vacations and for those going to Hajj, please keep my family in your prayers.

Thanks once again for reading. :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Caroline Maryam Ward

Caroline Maryam Ward is a homeschooling mom of 7 kids from the UK. A few years back she answered some homeschooling questions for the Islamic Home Schooling Advisory Network. I feel that she did a very good job of addressing issues such as: discipline, organization, and the ever popular, socialization. Here is a link to the article:
Question Time.

And for those in the UK, click here to learn more about the Islamic Home Schooling Advisory Network.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Confession

My deepest apologies for not writing for a while, it’s a bit crazy here, we are swamped with work.

Oh okay fine I admit that I have a secret addiction!!!!!! Happy now? This addiction takes over once in a while so any spare time that I usually have during the day (and night, mostly night) usually vanishes. I have to seriously fight this addiction to get anything done around here so as you can see with homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, etc… blogging doesn’t even come close to the top. I’ll get to the addiction later (maybe) but here’s what else has been going on.

1) We are going to Toronto next week! A relative’s wedding reception has come up out of the blue so we have to go and since it’s such short notice we are actually driving up. We’ve done this once before, about 4 years ago, and it was so much fun. It is a beautiful drive; we are looking forwarded to it. I can’t wait to see my mom and my sis, even though we will only be in Toronto for a few days, it should still be loads of fun, inshallah. When we told the girls they were also very excited!

2) I started the reading lessons from the book “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons” with my three year old last week. I was planning on starting in January but she actually told me that she wanted to read so I started them. It was really sweet, she was trying to read a book (like she always does) just making up the words by looking at the pictures and then all of a sudden she stopped and says to me “Mama, why can’t I read it like you and Apa (big sister)?” So I told her I would teach her how to read it soon, inshallah. Well she wasn’t satisfied with that and demanded I teach her RIGHT NOW! So anyways, we started and she is really enjoying it. We are on lesson 7 and she knows how to make perfect m’s on her Dora the explorer magna doodle now. I catch her practicing writing m’s on the magna doodle several times during the day.

3) My five year old will have completed two more classes by the end of this month and then another one by the end of January. That will leave us with three classes for the rest of the year, but then we will pick up two electives in January, if they are available. Also her teacher told me that when she has completed math (which she will by the end of January) she will ship out grade one math to us and we can start on that early instead of waiting till next fall. So that should give us more of a workload. It shouldn’t be too bad I hope. Plus I’ll be busier teaching the three year old how to read and then also the month of Muharram begins in January as well.

4) Okay, okay I will admit my shameful addiction. I hate to do this because it is SUCH A WASTE OF TIME but oh my lord I cannot stop playing The SIMS 2. This game has such a hold over me. I was addicted to the original SIMS way back when it first came out, and then when SIMS 2 came out I was totally addicted to that. Luckily I changed computers and somehow lost the cd so I wasn’t able to play it for a year or two. But that itch to play comes back every now and then and I was itching to play it for months. So I finally broke down and told my husband (BIG MISTAKE) because he of course got it for me right away and here I am staying up half the night making sure my SIM is socialized and not hungry and is increasing their skills constantly. My lord this game is so addictive, once I start 3 or 4 hours will go by in a flash and I will not notice at all. It will only feel like 10 minutes, SERIOUSLY! So I was playing it one day while the girls were napping and then my five year old woke up and snuck up on me while I played and she got so into it. She told me to explain it to her so I did and the next thing you know she's yelling "Mama hurry the SIM really needs to go to the potty, or they will go all over the floor again.” Now that was REALLY hilarious! So finally I had to create a new SIM family and of course for some reason they all have the same names as us. So my five year old’s SIM was specifically designed by her and does everything she wants her to do. Same goes for my three year olds, except she didn’t want her SIM to be a child; she wanted hers to be a “big girl” so my three year old’s SIM is actually a teenager. Am I bad that I got my girls addicted just like myself?

Okay sorry to all the non-SIMS-playing people for all the SIMS talk. I hope I didn’t put y’all to sleep. So this is what has been going on. But really, it’s getting ridiculous with this SIMS addiction. Hopefully I will be able to kick the SIMS habit after we return from our vacation, unless I take my laptop with me and then we will be sitting in the car the whole time playing SIMS.

My goodness I need to put an end to this!!! HELP!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Months in Islam

Lately my girls have been crazy over this one nasheed that they’ve heard by Rasheed Bhikha (Zain Bhikha’s son) called Months in islam. So much so that my five year old demanded that I teach her all the months in islam right away. So we’ve been working on it, she knows them all, almost. She loves to sing the song along with me so I just had to record her doing it. Of course when my three year old saw what we were doing she wanted to join in on the fun and sang with us too. You’ll hear her the second time around, she’s the one who is REALLY EXCITED that she is singing along with mama and her big sister.



This is a great way to teach your kids the months in islam. You can buy the cd here if you are interested!
http://www.astrolabe.com/product/882/Our_World.html

I am Thankful Book

I mailed my five year old’s portfolio to her teacher yesterday. I didn’t get to snap some pictures of her I am thankful book that she created for a portfolio assignment before I sent it or I would post them. Basically we were supposed to create a book with pictures and a few sentences of things that she is thankful for. So I used some manilla drawing paper and binded that into a book. I told my five year old on each page she was supposed to draw a picture of something she was thankful for and then I can write a sentence or two that she would dictate to me about what it is and why. She then told me that she wanted to write the sentences herself and she only wanted my help with spelling, if she needed it. So I said alright, I figured if it was really not legible I can always rewrite in brackets beside hers. Anyhow, this is her list of things she is thankful for in the order that she made them in the book.

1. I am thankful for my family because they love me.
2. I am thankful for books because I like to read.
3. I am thankful for tv so I can watch my favorite show, magic school bus.
4. I am thankful for the computer so I can play games.
5. I am thankful for the sun because it is bright and makes me warm.

Her handwriting was very neat and totally legible. Also, she only asked me to spell because, favorite, and computer. She did spell “makes” wrong though, she wrote “maks.” And her pictures were so bright and colorful, I was totally impressed!

Now she says she wants to be an artist when she grows up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Breastfeeding

Since so many pregnant mothers are coming here recently searching for duas I thought this would be a great opportunity to write a pro-breastfeeding post.

I used to be an avid nursing mother. I nursed both my girls till they were 21 months old and I felt no shame, pressure or anything else of the sort. Please sisters, do not let other people pressure you into weaning too early or, God forbid, not nursing at all. Unless you have some sort of medical problem, your baby deserves that milk that God has provided for them.

Do not let your family and friends make you feel as if you are doing something wrong if you choose to breastfeed. Do not let the formula companies’ freebie diaper bags and truck loads of free formula entice you into supplementing your breast milk with formula. They want you to do that because they know that it will decrease your milk supply.

If you are having problems with nursing and need some help, please contact a lactation consultant or lookup your local La Leche League Group for more information. http://www.lalecheleague.org

Here are some great breastfeeding sites with oodles of information: (WARNING! The following websites have many pictures of breastfeeding mothers and their adorable little ones, so if you are offended by that, don’t visit!)
http://www.007b.com/
http://nurseherenow.com/
http://www.breastfeeding.com/
http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/
http://www.breastfeedingbasics.org/
http://www.promom.org/
http://www.whenmothersnurse.org/
http://www.breastfeedingmatters.com/


If you want to know why breastfeeding is also so important in Islam, read Surat-al-Baqara

“And the mothers should suckle their children for two whole years” (2:233)


Now here are some great Islamic websites with breastfeeding information:

Muslim Mom’s Breastfeeding FAQ
The Quran and Breastfeeding
Different rules regarding nursing - according to the Fatawa of Ayatullah al Uzama Syed Ali al-Husaini Seestani


I hope all of you sisters choose to breastfeed, if you are able, and I pray that you all have a fast and easy delivery with healthy and happy babies, Inshallah!

What a difference in headlines!

People in Iraq - lining up to get hard-to-get bread at a bakery, being taken out by random gunfire, roadside bombs and mortar attacks.
http://www.gulfnews.com/region/Iraq/10083045.html

People in the U.S. - lining up overnight in front of Best Buy to get the hard-to-get PlayStation 3, being shot at with BBs.
http://www.wkyt.com/news/headlines/4661551.html

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Teacher phone conference

Every two weeks I have a phone conversation with my five year old’s teacher from Connections Academy to see how we are progressing and if there are any questions from either side. Well we had ours earlier today and she wanted to know how we were doing. So I told her that we’ll be pretty much done all the courses by the end of December except for 3, Reading and writing, Math and Spanish (which we started last week, and now she can successfully count to ten in Spanish!) She said she’s been watching how she’s been progressing, and she looked over some of her work online and she’s happy with the way her reading is going and she wants her to try and write a story. She said to let her write a narrative, about any topic that she likes and get her to draw pictures for it as well. She said she’ll send me more self-addressed stamped envelopes so I can send them to her so she can grade them as well as give feedback. I told my five year old about it and she says she wants to write about our girls day out.

The teacher also would like us to start two more electives in January; something called webquest and then also another called homelife. Webquest is another computer course and homelife is different projects that you will do with your child and then work on something for it like a collage and send it in to be graded. So if we decided to bake something together we could take pictures and then have my 5 year old write out the recipe or a letter and then send it all in. Or if we go on a field trip together we can do a project on that. I don’t have all the details but it sounds pretty interesting.

She also told me today that there are two students in her class who are doing really well and my five year old is one of them. She said that the mother of the other child is also very involved like me and we are also the only ones that have chosen to do electives, which I was really surprised about. She was also very happy to hear that both of us chose a foreign language as an elective and the other child and their mother have also chosen to do the homelife elective. She told me they are having a lot of fun with it and that’s why she is suggesting it to me because she knows we will probably enjoy it too. Once we start it up in January I’ll let you all know how it goes and maybe post some information about the projects if I can.

Orlando Science Center

We went to the Orlando Science Center on Tuesday. I have to say, I wasn’t really that impressed, however we did not go to the human body exhibit or watch any movies. I knew my three year old would not really sit patiently through a movie and I did not want to disturb others that were there to learn. We also didn’t go to the human body exhibit, (although I was interested in going) because we heard (and were also told by the OSC staff) that it would be a bit too much for my girls to handle, especially since they used authentic human bodies and organs that have been preserved. The rest of it was pretty boring. My girls enjoyed it for the most part because they had baby alligators and fish and other animals. They also liked the Kidstown and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood area a little bit, but we were out of there in 1.5 hours. I am so glad we did not purchase the yearly pass. This was my first time going to the Orlando Science center so I really didn’t know what to expect. I think I will definitely take the girls to the Ontario Science Center next July.

Girls Day Out!

Mondays are usually library days but once we got there this Monday my five year old announced that she did not want to go to story time today because today the story teller was Mr. Bill and she did not like Mr. Bill. So I asked her why not and she matter-of-factly told me “Because he is too loud and not fun at all. He tries to be fun, but he is boring.” I almost burst out laughing in her face because I too felt EXACTLY the same way about Mr. Bill. Don’t get me wrong, I thought he was great at first (except for the loud booming voice that used to freak me out sometimes) but I thought he was very energetic. However after watching the same 30 minute routine 100 times with no changes whatsoever except for whatever book he chose to read to us that day, I quickly realized it was getting old and boring. I just didn’t think my 5 year old realized that as well.

Anyhow, so we just returned our books and checked out some new ones and left without going in to the story time area. However I didn’t feel like going home yet so I took the girls to a nearby park. They swung and slided and pretended to be pirates (there was a pretend boat there) for about an hour. I was starting to get hungry and they had no intention of leaving the park yet, so I asked them if they would like to have a girls day out with me. We would do lots of fun stuff like go to the library (which we already did) then to the park (which we were at) and then eat lunch out and maybe if we were good have some dessert out too. They got really excited and ran to the car.

So when we got to the restaurant, ordered our food and sat down to eat my 3 year old decided to very loudly tell everyone around us that is was girls day out and there are no Baba’s (her father) and boys allowed. My five year old and I started giggling, and so did the people sitting behind us so she decides to say it again really loudly. No boys allowed because boys are stinky! I was like “WOAH THERE!” I told her boys aren’t stinky, they are just not allowed today because it is girls day out. So she agreed very loudly again, “THAT’S RIGHT, NO BOYS ALLOWED AT THIS TABLE!!! Luckily nobody kicked us out of the restaurant. LOL!

Girls day out turned out to be fun, and when we got home my five year old said, “Mama, I really liked girls day out; lets do it all the time!”

I was thinking, don't we do that all the time? Yes me and the girls do go out together often, but it's funny if you just give your time together a name, it becomes so special to them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

National Children's Book Week

November 13th through the 19th is National Children's Book Week. The NEA (National Education Association) website gives you a list of 100 books that kids love reading. It also gives you a list of teachers' top 100 books. This is a great way to find a book that may interest your child and get him/her motivated to read.

Also, the Children's Book Council has started a nationwide book donation program. For more information, visit the following link:
http://www.cbcbooks.org/cbw/giveaway.html

Friday, November 10, 2006

What’s the magic word?

So this is how hilarious my three year old can be. Last week her uncle was over and she demanded something that was in his hand in a not-very-polite way. When her uncle asked her, “What’s the magic word?” All my hard work of teaching her to say please and thank you goes down the drain and she says to him, “ABRACADABRA!

She also calls chicken cacciatore, "kitchen chakatory."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

BrainPOP and the Election

Online educational content provider BrainPOP has partnered up with NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons to encourage kids to take their parents to vote. Both appear in animated form in a short segment that not only explains the importance of voting, but also talks kids through the process in a lively, engaging way.

Here's a link to the full segment on the BrainPOP site featuring Joel Klein's introduction and Russell Simmons:
http://www.brainpop.com/socialstudies/ushistory/voting/

Here's the shorter Youtube segment featuring Russell Simmons:



Don't forget to vote today!

Muslim baby names

I've noticed a lot of people are coming to my site after searching for duas to read during pregnancy or labor. I did add some things that I knew about on an earlier post but I also thought that perhaps some of you guys might be thinking about what to name your upcoming bundle of joy. Well I know about a few great muslim baby name websites but this one is one of my favorites because it actually has my name in it, which rarely happens:

Muslim Baby Names

May Allah (swt) grant you all a fast and easy delivery and a happy and healthy baby!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Molly, An American Girl

Okay there is a little bit of excitement in this house since I told my five year old the Molly Movie will be coming on tv soon. I’ve known about it for a while and we’ve been going through the Molly short stories from the library again to refresh her memory. We did the same thing right before the Felicity movie came on tv last year and she really enjoyed it then. Now that we’ve read them all I’m thinking about starting one of the novels, like the first one, “Meet Molly” but I’m not sure if she really wants to start that yet, I’ll have to ask her on the next library trip.

Anyhow, for all those American Girl fans out there, the Molly movie will be on Sunday November 26th, 2006 at 8pm EST on the Disney Channel. And don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes!

And for those of you who missed the first two American Girl movies which we really enjoyed (except for the Samantha movie which made her sad a little bit in the middle, but then she liked it at the end) they are going to be on tv again as well. She really enjoyed the Felicity movie last year, it will be on again Saturday December 2nd on the Hallmark Channel along with the Samantha movie. Both of these movies are also available on DVD and we usually borrow them from the library any time we want to see them again.

Happy viewing!

Chore Charts

I’ve wanted to post about this for a while now. A little over a month ago my five year old and I worked out a chore chart for her, so she knows what to do during the day and what her responsibilities are. I mainly started this because my five year old is just like me, a morning person and an early riser. I remember I always used to be the first one up in my house. While my mom and my sister slept I was usually able to watch a whole bollywood movie before they woke up (and that tells a lot because those things are like 3 HOURS LONG!!!)

Anyhow, my five year old is exactly the same way, (except she's never seen a bollywood film, shocking I know! LOL!). Now that daylight savings time has kicked in, morning prayers are around 5:30am and I’ve noticed sometimes she’s up even before then (even if she went to bed at 10pm the night before). Well we tell her to stay in bed and try and sleep some more, which she is able to do for another hour or so and I also usually try and go back to sleep for atleast an hour after that. So we made up some ground rules for her. First, if she wakes up she needs to try and stay in bed until 7am. At 7am she can get up and start going through her chore chart. Before we made up the chore chart she would wander aimlessly through the house not knowing what to do or she would come wake me up because she was bored. I didn’t mind but I preferred it if she had her own schedule to follow and she knew what her day would consist of and what she can look forward to accomplishing.

Anyhow, we worked out a chore chart similar to this:

1. Go to the potty and wash up.
2. Get dressed (She has a little drawer that she can choose her days clothes from that has her “home clothes” in it which consists of comfortable dresses or shalwar kameez that she only wears around the house, not if we go out somewhere) (She also combs her hair and puts on a matching hair band and a little chap stick, it’s so adorable!)
3. Make your bed (thank goodness I do not have to do that anymore! :) )
4. Read, play with your toys or work on your computer until parents wake up (or until I have her breakfast ready if I am already awake)
5. Eat breakfast
6. Put your dishes in the dishwasher
7. Wash your hands, face, brush teeth and clean up.
8. Homeschooling time, or do Madressa homework, or bike riding or activity time. (This is a time period of a few hours that we usually do all of our work and/or go bike riding to the park or if we planned some sort of outing or activity then we do that.
9. Eat lunch
10. Put your dishes in the dishwasher
11. Wash your hands, face, brush teeth and clean up.
12. Naptime or reading time
13. Playtime or do as you please time (Which usually consists of any outings or activities we have planned or Mama cooking and her playing with her sister, or Baba, or grandpa or grandma. We also do homeschooling at this time if we didn’t get it done in the morning.)
14. Dinnertime
15. Put your dishes in the dishwasher
16. Get ready for bedtime (washing, brushing teeth, putting her day clothes in the laundry basket (home clothes and outside clothes that she may have worn that day) and putting on her pajamas
17. If there’s still some time before bed (they are usually in bed between 9pm and 9:30pm, unless they missed their nap that day then they are in bed by 8pm) they can play a little bit with the family (especially their uncle who comes over at least once a week for dinner)
18. Quick clean-up (picking up toys in their room, living room, parents room, kitchen or any other room they have been playing in)
19. Bedtime

Then at the bottom of her chore chart I have another small section that says:

Other things to remember during the day:
a) be kind to others (especially to her little sister)
b) be helpful (help mom with preparing food, setting table, cleaning up, sorting laundry, emptying dishwasher, etc...)
c) remember your manners (table manners, social skills, and her please and thank you’s)
d) say your prayers (pray with us as often as she can and also read her duas throughout the day, especially before going to sleep)

Now of course not every day is like this and not every thing is accomplished or completed in this order. We just made this up to use as an example so we have some sort of schedule and she knows what to do and expect. For example, Mondays are library days and we usually go there in the mornings, therefore we don’t do as much homeschooling that day because her uncle usually comes for dinner Monday evenings so we prepare a nice dinner that evening and don’t do that much homeschooling, if any. Saturday is totally different because we usually have other commitments and activities going on. Madressa is on Sunday and most of our day is spent there. And then other days we may have field trips or I just feel like going to the mall some days and having lunch out. :)

Anyhow, having a chore chart has really made my life easier and has made her feel more confident and responsible. There are a lot of different ways you can set yours up; I just did mine in a table format using Microsoft Word. You can do yours in excel or download one that’s already done for you and print it out. You can also have rewards for different chores accomplished. There are a lot of great sites you can get ideas from, here are a few I’ve found that gave me some ideas for her chart:

ChartJungle - Full of all kinds of charts
MyRewardBoard - Good place to start if you want to set up a reward system
ChoreBuster - Set chores up for everyone here! :)
DLTK's Custom Chore Chart - You can have different themes!
And of course About.com’s scheduling, calendaring, and charting section for lots more info.

Muslim scouts

Okay so I am really jealous! Why can't there be something like this in Orlando? Is there something like this in Florida anywhere? How does one go about starting your own group like this, because I am SO willing to do this!!!



There is a local girl scouts council here but I looked into it and some of their activities will not really work well with us.

Is anyone a part of something like this that is similar? Any information would be helpful. I'm going to contact the people at GirlScouts.org and see what I can find out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Alavi Family

Okay this is going to seem weird but I have no idea what I was searching for when I happened to have come across this very interesting website that I wanted to share with y'all.

I just found the pictures and stories of the people on here so fascinating!

http://www.barjesteh.nl/alavi.htm

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Surat Al-Ikhlas

I finally got around to recording my three year old reciting Surat Al-Iklas. It's too funny the way she recites it. As you will hear she started to get really excited while she was reciting and even started talking in the middle of it, which I had to edit out. It was so hilarious!



Of course now that she has discovered that she can speak into the microphone on my computer and have her voice played back to her afterwards, she wants to do it non-stop! LOL

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More eid stuff!


This year we did not have a lot of time to do a whole bunch of Eid decorations so we improvised and stuck them on a wall that already had some Islamic stuff on it. I think it turned out pretty well. For the Eid banner we cut construction paper into four smaller rectangles. Then on each rectangle I printed the letters in pencil. My five year old traced over my pencil with Elmer’s 3D Washable Paint Pens. Then we punched some holes on top of it and put some string through it and voila! This project was really quick and easy and it was enough to make the girls happy. :)


This Eid we also gave them two more muslim dolls to add to their collection. They also have the Little Farah Talking doll which we bought them a few years back. It’s very adorable and says lots of Islamic phrases and their meanings like, “Subhanallah, Glory be to Allah.” But my girls really enjoy playing with the Razanne muslim dolls a lot. They take those and their other Dora the explorer dolls and some other baby dolls and have pretend tea parties and birthday parties and they go to the mall shopping, etc…. I love how both my girls play together, use their imaginations and just go crazy with it.


The Razanne muslim doll is available through the Noorart.com website. They have lots of other excellent Islamic toys that I’ve also got from them. Check it out, they have great stuff!

Eid Song

When the month of Ramadan started I found a Ramadan song on a website (sorry I don’t remember which website, if you know please leave it in the comments). Anyhow so I printed the song and took it to Madressa and we taught the students the song on the first day of Ramadan. This is the song, which you sing in the tune of “London bridge is falling down.”

Ramadan is here today, here today, here today
Ramadan is here today, let’s all fast.
Everybody fast and pray, fast and pray, fast and pray
Everybody fast and pray, and be good.


This morning on the way to Eid prayers when we got into the car my five year old started singing this new version of the song:

Ramadan is gone today, gone today, gone today
Ramadan is gone today, let’s all have Eid.
We will get lots of presents, lots of presents, lots of presents
We will get lots of presents, and we’ll love them forever.

I turned around and asked her where she heard that song and she replied, “No where Mama, I made it up!” :)

She sounded so adorable I had to record her singing it.




I hope you all had an awesome Eid. The girls have been so happy and hyper all day playing with their new Eid toys! :)

E I D M U B A R A K ! ! !

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eid Mubarak!

"Oh Allah, we repent to You in our day of fast-breaking
which You have appointed for the faithful a festival and a joy and for the people of Your creed a time of assembly and gathering….

Oh Allah, with the passing of this month
make us pass forth from our offences
with its departure make us depart from our evil deeds
and make for us from its most fortunate people…."

- Imam Ali Zaynul Aabideen a.s.
- Saheefa Sajjadiyyah, Du’a no. 45

I pray that the month of Ramadan was fulfilling and enlightening for you all and I want to wish you all a very happy and joyous Eid-ul-Fitr!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New things

This week three new things have happened:

1. We have new muslim neighbors. The girls and I were taking our bike ride to the park when a few houses down from ours a young husband and wife with 4 kids came running out of their house to greet us. It was very sweet of them. They recognized that I was muslim because of the hijab of course and the best thing is that they have a daughter that is 6 years old so inshallah we’ll get the girls together soon.

2. We bought a new car. It’s a brand new Scion, dark blue and very nice. I drove it around the neighborhood so far, so much quieter than our old Mazda and I cannot believe how much room there is in that car. It’s just MASSIVE inside. Anyhow, it’s a little boxy looking but I like it. Especially that new car smell, mmmmmmmm.

3. And finally, something that came as a real shocker to me as well, my three year old has memorized Surat Al-Ikhlas. For the past few weeks I’ve just been getting her to repeat it after me before going to bed, in separate short syllables and now she says I can do it myself, I don’t want your help. Her pronunciation is atrocious but oh my goodness sooooo adorable. I need to record her before she starts pronouncing it better. LOL

Friday, October 20, 2006

Desktop wallpaper

I taught my five year old how to change the desktop wallpaper on her computer just once several weeks ago. Now every time I see her computer she has a different wallpaper. At first she was just playing around with the ones that came with the computer like tulips, moon flower or bliss. But a few weeks ago I walked in to see Hello Kitty on there. I had no idea how she did that so I asked her and she very confidently tells me, “Oh it’s so easy Mama. I just went to the Hello Kitty website and then went in the play games section and in that section there’s another section called downloads and in the downloads section they have lots and lots of desktop patterns that you can just right-click on and set them as your background.”

I was speechless!

Now there’s a new Hello Kitty on her computer every day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The last Friday of the month of Ramadan

Well the month of Ramadan is almost over and Eid is approaching so I thought I would share something for the last Friday of this month.

Hazrat Amir-ul-Mo'mineeen (A.S.) said that any person who has
accumulated a lot of qazaa namaaz (missed a lot of salaats) and does
not have the strength to offer them should offer Namaaz-e-Qazaa-e-Umr.

This namaaz is the kaffara to cover 700 years of qazaa namaaz. One
person asked Wali-Ullah "but the people of the ummat of Nabi live
only 70-100 years at the most?" Hazrat Ali (A.S.) replied that the
namaaz-e-kaffara covers your whole life's qazaa namaaz, your
parents, your grand parents, your great grand parents and others
going back up to 700 years qazaa namaaz.

When to pray:

On the last Friday of the month of Ramadhan before sunset.

How to pray:

It's a 4 rakaat namaaz with one salaam. In every rakaat recite
sura-e-fateha (Alhamd) once; followed by Sura-e-Ahad (Qulahwallah)
25 times; followed by Ayatul-kursi once and followed by Sura-e-Kauthar
15 times.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lessons, lessons and more lessons

I wanted to cover a bit more about what we’ve been doing in the lessons with Connections Academy. They are just so easy and we breeze through them I just never really feel the need to talk about it. Well here’s what our lessons and schedule is like.

Basically my five year old has eight courses. Technology (her favorite), Social Studies, Science, Reading and Writing, Music, Math, Art and Activities. On average we do about six lessons a day (but sometimes A LOT more than that). We do Reading and Writing and Math everyday and then we have different days for the rest of the subjects. Most of the lessons she finds very boring and just speeds through them. She likes to do the work but doesn’t like it when I follow the lesson manual exactly word for word like they tell me because she says she knows all that already. I still try and go through it, but in a more interesting way. Sometimes I’ll ask her to explain things to me, instead of vice versa. Then she’ll just zip through the assignments/worksheets in a second. We’ve been going so fast that three of these courses will be finished in November and then two more will be finished in December; which leaves us with 3 courses for the rest of the year. So I’ve talked to her teacher and she has suggested some electives. But they don’t really have as much to offer in electives that they thought they would. I’m going to start Spanish with her, Inshallah. And then the teacher said if she finished math early she can send me the curriculum to grade one math. Math is set to finish some time in February, but I have a feeling it may finish before then.

The other elective they have is hooked on phonics, but I don’t know if my daughter can actually use that. I know they have different levels of it, but what if she’s already reading at 2nd grade level or higher? What level of hooked on phonics does she use then? Is hooked on phonics even worth spending our time on? Have any of you ever used it before? What do y’all think of it?

She is really enjoying the stuff though, even though she does find it to be really easy. She loves Science and all the experiments we’ve done so far. She also loves social studies because there have been a lot of fun assignments. I think the most boring for her has been the Reading and Writing though because it’s just so monotonous and so easy. But I’ve learned to get go through the boring stuff pretty fast and put more emphasis on the handwriting, assignments/worksheets or book reports part of it.

She was really enjoying math as well at first but now I see her sometimes talking to the worksheets saying, “Okay already I already know this, why do I have to do this again?” or she’ll say “Hello, can this get any easier?” It’s funny because she’s not actually talking to me; she’s told me she’s talking to the worksheet, LOL.

Going for a bike ride!

A few times a week the girls and I go to the park that is in our neighborhood about half a mile away from our house. They ride their bikes and I walk fast or jog along with them. Anyhow, it takes about 10 minutes to get to the park, then we spend about 30 to 45 minutes at the park, and then head back. I try to go earlier in the day a little after breakfast so it's not so unbearably hot out. They love it because they get to ride their bikes really fast leaving mama behind trying to keep up with them and for some reason they get a huge kick out of that. So I play along on purpose just to make them laugh some more. Well a few days ago I decided to bring my camera along so I made some movies and took a thousand pictures, mostly of them swinging on the swings and pretending to cook with the mulch/sand on the floor.

Here’s a video I shot of them, you can see my three year old speeding up and then turning around slightly to see how far away I am. My five year old is way ahead of us, like always. She races ahead and feels very proud when she beats us to the park. But this time she slowed down and let her little sister get there before us. She said she wanted her sister to have a turn at winning the race.

To fast or not to fast?

On Saturday my five year old kept a half fast. She really wanted to keep a full fast so I told her to start with a half fast and then we’ll take it from there. So she had a big breakfast in the morning and then stated that she was only going to eat at iftar time, but we made a deal that she still had to keep drinking water if she was thirsty. So that was decided and when lunchtime rolled around and her three year old sister was having lunch she decided she would just have a very small teeny tiny lunch and then continue with her fast till iftar time. My husband and I could barely stop ourselves from laughing but we managed and we were happy that she was still content with her “half fast.” Then it was about an hour from iftar time and I could tell she was getting hungry so I told her she can have something small right now and then eat with everyone later but she said she wanted to wait it out, and she did. I was proud of her for at least lasting that long. It was so VERY hard for me to see my child hungry, even for a few minutes. I can’t imagine what mothers all over this world go through.

Al Muhajabat

I just wanted to tell you all about the wonderful stuff I just bought. I got three children’s hijabs, three underscarves and four shaylas from Al Muhajabat Islamic Clothing and I received this whole shipment in excellent condition within one week. They are also having a sale on shaylas right now till Eid I think. They have wonderful and beautiful shaylas. They were all in perfect condition and so soft and bright. It was all very nicely packaged and the service was fast and easy. Check it out if you are interested in getting something for eid.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin

Every Saturday morning our local Michael’s (The Arts and Crafts Store) has a program called Kid’s club. Children aged 5-12 are welcomed to come and do a different craft with them every Saturday morning from 10am-Noon. It costs $2 and they have a different craft each week. Two weeks ago they had these lovely pumpkins to decorate (these were not kids club though, they were another special one-time event the same day). The local store also lets me bring my three year old as long as I can keep an eye on her and thank goodness for that because she has to do EVERYTHING her big sister is doing. Anyhow, last week they decorated dragonflies (not real ones of course) which we didn’t make it to. This week they are doing leather bracelets. I don’t know if this is the same for every Michael’s nationwide but you can visit their website, sign up with them and then check out your events for your local store. The girls love it, it’s fairly inexpensive and they give you so many different things to utilize. For these pumpkins my girls used model magic, paint pens, pipe cleaners, sharpies, glitter glue, etc… It’s lots of fun!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Naade Ali

One of my favorite duas (prayers) is Naade Ali. Every time I get into my car or feel a little scared I just recite that dua and it makes me feel so much better.

This is my five year old daughter reciting Naade Ali:



She reads this to me every night before she goes to bed, every time we get into the car and any other time she feels like it. She has told me that it is one of her favorite duas as well and she loves to read it. I'm so happy to have passed this wonderful prayer onto my first born and I absolutely looooooooooooooooooove hearing her read it to me.

Let's Get to Know Imam Ali

We have this book, "Let's Get to Know Imam Ali" and I have to say it is an excellent book. It has wonderful, bright, colorful pictures and is easy to read. It starts from his birth in the Kabah to his death. It's short and simple and very easy for small children to understand. My five year old loves reading it by herself and we have been discussing his life and his death, so this book fits in very nicely.

You can buy it at the Al-Khoei Online Book Store, it's a great investment!

Laylatul Qadr – The Night of Power

The Night of Power is here already and there are about 12 days of this wonderful month left. This is the night that the Quran was revealed, this night is better than a thousand nights. Those who spend this night in prayer experience a feeling of great bliss. The next few days I will be busy with the Amaal of Qadr and also the death of Imam Ali (as). I am planning on talking a little about the next few days with my five year old, and once again we will do the amaal at home together as a family, Inshallah.

Please remember my family in your prayers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Prayer

You know what really makes me feel absolutely amazing; when my children want to pray with me. This evening when it was iftar time I was starting my prayer anxiously because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the yummy samosas! Anyhow, my three year old demanded that I help her spread out her prayer mat so she can pray beside me. The girls have their own hijabs and prayer mats in our prayer room so they can pray with us whenever they want. I was a little annoyed for a split second because my hunger pains got the better of me, but then I realized it had been a while since she had prayed with me and I remembered the wonderful feeling I got when she did. So I quickly helped her spread it out. I started my prayer and she just followed doing the actions along with me. Up and down, raising her hands for the dua, it really gives me such joy having her pretending to pray beside me. My five year old also joins us very often.

Then at the end I was quickly putting away my hijab because all I could think about were the samosas, LOL, and she says, “But Mama, we didn’t do ziarat! My three year old was reminding me to do ziarat because she’s used to us doing it after every prayer. It was so adorable.

A little later when I was putting the girls to bed, my five year old asked, “Mama did you open your fast?” (She didn’t see me opening it today because she was busy doing some work) I said yes and she answered, “that’s good, I hope you had lots of samosas because they were good.” LOL

Sunday, October 08, 2006

15th of Ramadan

Tomorrow is the 15th of Ramadan, which is the birth of Imam Hassan (as) (and also the day I was born :) ). I was in the process of searching for different arts and crafts I can do with the kids at Madressa today when I found lots of informative sites about him, so I thought I would share:

1. AlMujtaba.com – Very informative website, has oodles of informative articles and some great images!

2. An introduction to fourth infallible Hazrat Imam Hassan (AS) - Great site for kids.

3. Imam Hasan 'The Myth of his Divorces' - by S. Saeed Akhtar Rizvi

4. Hasan ibn Ali - Wikipedia

5. Shia.org - Taken from Know Your Islam by Yousuf N. Lalljee

Friday, October 06, 2006

New Look and more updates...

In the spirit of the month of Ramadan, I decided to change things up a bit and go green. I was getting bored of the old template and I’m starting to feel real cozy with this new one. So tell me how you like the new look, or should I go back to the old simpler template? I’m really liking this one though. :)

We got my 5 year olds portfolio back from her teacher in the mail today. She got perfect on all her assignments and just sat their examining all the comments that her teacher had left for her. Her teacher was very caring and wrote some very encouraging comments. She also sent her a certificate and candy. Needless to say, my five year old is very satisfied. :)

My three year old has been really into her Story Reader these days. While her sister and I do school, she’ll usually sit in the corner of the room listening to one of the stories and today she was even playing with her “My First LeapPad” which she hardly ever does. She was actually understanding everything, following all the instructions to the game, getting it all right and really enjoying herself. It was funny to watch. I’m planning on starting the book “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons” with her in a few months if she wants to. Her sister already did some lessons with her a few months back (which was hilarious) so my guess is the first few lessons should be pretty easy for her.

After homeschooling my 5 year old in the morning I had some cooking and other work to tend to so I was busy most of the day. However I was also keeping my eye on the girls at the same time and it was funny how well they play together now, Alhamdolillah. Before there used to be a lot of fighting and my two year old's tantrums, but now it's like they are the best of friends. They really use their imagination a lot too. They make castles with chairs and pillows and blankets. They make tents and play hide and seek. They have tea parties and "feasts" as my five year old put it. But the best of all is watching them all curled up on the couch together while my five year old reads to my three year old. They seem so content and so happy to be all huddled together and sharing the story. May Allah (swt) always keep them this happy and safe.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Eid Decorations

Ever since the month of Ramadan has started, this has got to be the number one search topic that has led people to my site. I’m not sure what kinds of decorations everyone is looking for, but you really don’t need to purchase any because you can make so much on your own and with your kids.

Here is something me and the girls did last year on Eid:
http://flickr.com/photos/highheelz/73906331/
It’s not too hard at all. A big banner that says Eid Mubarak, we used a roll of kraft paper for that. Then a simple paper chain, which my girls LOOOOVE making for some reason. Some moon and star arts and crafts and some coloring pages and we had a nice little Eid wall. Another thing you can do is blow up plain balloons and decorate them with a permanent marker yourself. You can make moon and stars on them, write Eid Mubarak and let your kids go crazy with them.

Here are some more websites that had different arts and crafts ideas for Ramadan, Eid cards, presents and decorations:
1. Eid Decorations by Aniqa Hasan
2. Crafts for Ramadan that can easily be made into Eid crafts
3. More Crafts for Ramadan

And if you REALLY feel the need to purchase decorations instead, then here are some websites you can purchase them from:
1. Eid Decorations at Astrolabe.com
2. Ramadan and Eid party gifts at Islamicbookstore.com
3. Eid Banner at Soundvision.com
4. Eid Decoration Pack at Soundvision.com - This pack has balloons, banner, henna, streamers and itar!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ramadan Paper Chain

This is the paper chain attached to the Eid Present that we did in Madressa for the girls. This is quick and easy to do if you are short on time. It took less than half an hour to complete and my five year old daughter did almost all of the work. The only thing I did was cut the strips of paper for her to make the chain and then explained to her what to do. She decorated the Eid present herself and then attached the links to it. The paper chain touched all the way to the floor when I first put it up, but now that we've taken off five links it is above the floor. Both my daughters alternate nights taking the links off and then we count the leftover links together to see how many days are left till it's Eid. 25 more days to go! :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iftar time in Orlando

Another thing that people are searching for and ending up on my blog is the iftar time in Orlando Florida. To view all the prayer timings for Orlando, you can visit Husseini Islamic Center's website to get the Prayer Schedule and from there you can see the iftar time.

I hope all of you are having a fulfilling month so far and I pray everyone's fasting is going well. My five year old is begging me to let her fast, so I suggested that she do a half fast but she won’t hear it. She wants to wake up in the night with us to have suhoor and then doesn’t want to eat till iftar. Luckily Baba took over and talked to her about it so she has simmered down now. We have been removing the links on our paper chain after iftar every evening. So far three have already been removed.

Here are some more month of Ramadan projects I found on other blogs that are just wonderful:

Ramadan Surprise Box by Sketched Soul - This one is so gorgeous!

Moon Phase Calendar by Zaynab - Very neat idea!

BrainPOP Jr.

I first discovered BrainPOP when we started Connections Academy. They provided us a subscription for it and my 5 year old went on it all the time viewing the little educational movies. She especially loved the one about rainbows under the science section. However I didn’t talk about it before because you had to pay for the subscription to view the movies. (Some of them are free if you want to check out the site!)

Now I just found out that they have a BrainPOP Jr. and it’s free right now! This is a great site for children in grades K-3. What it has are short animated movies that cover a wide range of age appropriate educational topics. My 5 year old sits there and loves to view all of them and also loves to do the quizzes, activities and play the games.

This is an excellent site to incorporate into your curriculum!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RIF's Charlotte's Web Art Contest!


RIF (Reading is Fundamental) is having a contest for children between the ages of 5-15. The contestants need to create posters of characters, scenes, or other imagery from the book "Charlotte's Web". The contest offers exciting prizes for the winners in three age groups (5-8, 9-11, and 12-15).

All artwork is due November 10.

This link below has the official rules, entry form etc... Good Luck!
RIF's Charlotte's Web Art Contest!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy month of Ramadan!

It is with great joy and happiness that I congratulate all of you on the arrival of this blessed month of Ramadan. I offer my best wishes to all of you and sincerely hope that this holy month will bring peace, happiness, health and enlightenment to all.

Some hadith on fasting:
A person gets the same reward by reciting in this month, one verse of the Holy Qur'an, as others do by reciting the whole of the Qur'an in other months. (Prophet Muhammad (saw))

The day of your fast should not be like any ordinary day. When you fast, all your senses - eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet must fast with you. (Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq (as))

The sleep of a fasting person is worship, his silence is glorification (of Allah), his prayers are answered and his actions are multiplied. (Imam Ali (as))


Please remember my family in your prayers, duas and Amaals.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Painting and pen pals

Today for the science lesson we talked about land, water and air. I sketched a picture of a landscape with a hill and lots of sky and water on newsprint. Then my five year old painted it using lots of light blue for the sky, green for the grassy hills, brown for the soil and mud and bright blue for the water. There were some activity pages in the science book that had small pictures of butterflies, boats, clouds, airplanes, flowers, trees, etc…that she colored and cut out. Once her painting has dried by tomorrow, she will glue these pictures on her landscape painting where they would belong, in the land, water or air.

We’re supposed to put this in the portfolio folder that we send to her teacher next week. She’ll look at her artwork, worksheets and tests; grade them and mail them back to us. This will be the first portfolio mailing next week and we’re both excited about it. I’m looking forward to see what kind of grade she will get, and I think she’s looking forward to sharing her work with someone other than her family members.

Last week we mailed off our first letter to her new pen pal. Connections Academy has a program that sets the students up with pen pals of similar age and interests. So we mailed our first letter to a little five year old in Oregon. My five year old dictated a very polite and friendly letter to me and then made a drawing of herself and her pen pal. Today we received a response and I can’t tell you how excited she was. The best part was having her read the letter to herself first and watching her facial expressions. She was very surprised and excited to hear that her pen pal had THREE OLDER SISTERS! For some reason that was unbelievable to her. Her pen pal also loves to paint and has a dog that is bigger in size than her. So after painting her landscape, my five year old did a painting for her pen pal as well. A little girl beside an orange dog that was bigger than her.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Month of Ramadan Activities

As the month of Ramadan approaches a lot of us start thinking about how we will enlighten our children and teach them about this sacred month. For the younger ones, it’s always good to have things that they can see and perhaps do themselves and also activities that will involve daily participation. We can get them involved with preparation of food, reciting prayers, Quran, and arts and crafts are also great fun! I have found many websites with wonderful ideas so I thought I would do a jumbo list of them.

Here goes:
This week at Madressa we had a little time left over so we decided to do a quick Ramadan craft with the kids, it really only took about half an hour. First on a large sheet of construction paper we drew a ribbon and bow to make it look like a big present. The students then decorated it and we wrote Eid Mubarak on there. Next we cut strips of paper about one inch wide and ten inches long. Then we had the students make a paper chain with the strips of paper with 30 links in it and we attached it to the bottom of the Eid present. So their homework for each day of the month of Ramadan is to remove a link from the chain (with their parents) so they can see how many days of the month are left until it is Eid. They are all very excited about it and ran home to put them up in their room somewhere. My 5 year old did one as well. Once the month of Ramadan is here and we get it up I’ll take a picture and post it so you can get an idea on how it looks. It’s VERY easy and quick to do if you don’t have a lot of time.

Enjoy the links and please let me know what you are planning to do with your children this month of Ramadan!

Daddy’s little girls

I don’t want to admit it, but sometimes when I watch my husband and daughters together, I get a little jealous. I wish I had a father growing up. Watching them is so sweet. Whenever they need any kind of help, especially with their toys or something more difficult, they go running straight to him. I see him caving in and giving them whatever they want if they just give him their sugary smiles and use their sweetie pie voices. I know they are both very attached to me and they want to be with me all the time. However, they seem to have this bond with daddy that is just so moving.

At this moment, my 5 year old and 3 year old daughters are huddled together in front of the tv with their daddy watching Star Trek. HELLO, they are turning into trekkies like him, that is SO VERY WRONG!

Here’s something I wanted to share that made me think of my little girls:

What Is a Girl?
by: Alan Beck

Little girls are the nicest things that can happen to people. They are born with a bit of angelshine about them, and though it wears thin sometimes, there is always enough left to lasso your heart--even when they are sitting in the mud, or crying temperamental tears, or parading up the street in Mother's best clothes.

A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, yet just when you open your mouth, she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot...

God borrows from many creatures to make a little girl. He uses the song of a bird, the squeal of a pig, the stubbornness of a mule, the antics of a monkey, the spryness of a grasshopper, the curiousity of a cat, the speed of a gazelle, the slyness of a fox, the softness of a kitten, and to top it all off He adds the mysterious mind of a woman.

A little girl likes new shoes, party dresses, small animals, first grade, noisemakers, the girl next door, dolls, make-believe, dancing lessons, ice cream, kitchens, coloring books, make-up, cans of water, going visiting, tea parties, and one boy. She doesn't care so much for visitors, boys in general, large dogs, hand-me-downs, straight chairs, vegetables, snowsuits, or staying in the front yard. She is loudest when you are thinking, the prettiest when she has provoked you, the busiest at bedtime, the quietest when you want to show her off, and the most flirtatious when she absolutely must not get the best of you again.

Who else can cause you more grief, joy, irritation, satisfaction, embarrassment, and genuine delight than this combination of Eve, Salome, and Florence Nightingale. She can muss up your home, your hair, and your dignity -- spend your money, your time, and your patience -- and just when your temper is ready to crack, her sunshine peeks through and you've lost again.

Yes, she is a nerve-wracking nuisance, just a noisy bundle of mischief. But when your dreams tumble down and the world is a mess--when it seems you are pretty much of a fool after all -- she can make you a king when she climbs on your knee and whispers, "I love you best of all!"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Waiting For The Call - Irfan Makki



Waiting For The Call - Irfan Makki

This is so beautiful, brings tears to my eyes. I went to highschool with him, I'm so glad he started reciting nasheed. Good job Irfan!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Even though I hate Dr. Phil!!!

Dr. Phil is planning a show on homeschooling. It's a good chance for us to show homeschooling in a favorable light, something that does not happen often enough. The link below has more details and an application to appear on the show.

Dr. Phil - A show on homeschooling

Saturday, September 09, 2006

15th Shabaan Mubarak

What a wonderful day it was, the birth of the twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi (as). My husband and I decided to do the amaal at home on Friday night; it’s nice to be able to do them together as a family. We can take as long as we want and enjoy reading all the translations as well. My husband also found a great website for sending Ariza.

During tonight’s lecture the maulana said something at the end that really struck me. He said that we should always remember to pray for Imam Mahdi (as), for his protection and safety like we do for ourselves and our family. I already did that, in fact one of my favorite daily duas is the dua for his safety, however I just never thought of it that way. That we should be praying for his safety like we do for ours. Such a simple concept that I’ve been completely missing.

Now I’m going to type out my favorite dua just for him, on his birthday! :)

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Allah humma kun le wali yekal
hujjattibnil Hasan,
Salawatuka alaihe wa'ala abaa eh
Fi hazehis saate wa fi kulle s'aat.
Waaliyan wa hafezan
wa qaedan wa nasera,
wa dalilan wa aina,
hatta tuskinaho arzaka tau an
watomatte ahu fi ha tawila.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
O Allah! Be now and at all times for Your deputy Hazrat Hujjat ibnil Hasan (may your blessings be upon him and his ancestors). Master, protector, guide, helper, proof and guard, until he resides peacefully on Your earth and let him enjoy (Your bounties) for a long time (to come).

To listen to this dua or read it in the arabic language, please visit: Dua for the safety of the Imam and don't forget to recite it everyday! :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back to School Meme

Taken from Otowi!


1. Where have you attended school? -- Donwood Park Jr PS (elementary), Charles Gordon Sr PS (junior high), David and Mary Thomson CI (highschool) -- All in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

2. What was your favorite grade? -- Can we pick more than 1? I loved 5th grade, the best teacher I ever had. And then I also loved 11th and 12th grades!

3. Favorite subject? -- Spanish, I loooooooooved spanish class.

4. Were you in any clubs? -- OMG, do I really have to admit this? Okay, but just a few dorky ones like gram committee and multicultural club.

5. Whatever happened to that old home ec or shop project? Or maybe it was science fair? -- Yeah what the heck happened to that pair of awesome shorts I sewed in sewing class and my fish bank that I made in wood shop??? I remember wearing the shorts at night up until college and my fish bank full of my penny collection up until 12th grade but then it's all a blur after that.

6. Did you play any sports? -- Yes, but mainly in elementary school. Soccer, and track.

7. Did you ever win a ribbon on field day? -- Yes, I won ribbons for some sort of running long jump or something, can't remember.

8. What was your favorite project or activity in art? -- I hated art. I am so not creative at all.

9. Did you play an instrument? What? -- Yes, flute, I think I still could if I tried.

10. What did you do in a school play? -- 5th grade, I was Shahrazad's younger sister, Dinarzad in 1001 nights (in which I wore a Sari for the first time in my life)

11. What is your favorite school supply? -- Pencil crayons, I loooooove my freshly sharpened pencil crayons.

12. Did you look forward to going back to school each fall? -- Yes in elementary and highschool but not in junior high.

13. Were you one of the first or last out at dodgeball or wall ball? -- Close to last in junior high, what is wall ball?

14. What were the cliques in your school and where did you fit in? -- typical like in every other school. I was in a group with mainly other muslims, all clean, good and innocent fun. :)

15. Finish this phrase: Down down baby just like a --------- (I'm sorry, I'm lost?)

Or this one: Miss Susie had a ----------. ?

And now share your own that you remember: ----------- ?

16. Do you remember the name of the lunch lady or the custodian or the secretary? -- Nope, sorry.

17. Did you buy new school clothes? Did you pick them or did your parents? -- yes, I did.

18. What did you do at recess? -- I remember lots of hopscotch and skipping

19. Hot lunch or cold lunch? Pail or sack? -- cold sandwich in a lunchbag

20. If you had a lunch box, who/what was on it? If you didn't, who/what would you have wanted on it? -- I don't recall ever having a lunchbox, but if I did have or want one, I'm sure I would've wanted a strawberry shortcake one because I was a fanatic!

21. Dress code? -- Typical muslim dress code sans hijab.

22. How many times did you get sent to the principal's office? -- hehehe, I think only a few times.

23. Pencil fight or dimes or _____? -- Can't recall.

24. One potato two potato, bubble gum in a dish, or eenie meenie? -- eenie meenie

25. What was a poem you memorized, and do you still remember it? -- Don't recall the name, therefore do not remember it. :)

26. What are the best children's books you remember reading? -- My favorites were Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books, I read them over and over and over.

27. Were you a scout or something similar? -- Nope

28. What was your favorite classroom chore? Taking the chalkboard erasers to the janitor's hall where they had this machine you slide them in and it cleaned them.

29. What gimmick did elementary teachers use to get kids to behave? -- I don't remember any.

30. What drills did you have? I just remember fire.

31. What were the hot hairdos and fashion statements? -- Unfortunately I had the crazy teased/curly hair with bangs and the big bell bottom pants!

32. Shared a locker? Had your own? Cubby hole? -- Lockers started after elementary.

33. Best memory of kindergarten or even preschool? -- Sadly I never went to kindergarten or preschool. I was in Pakistan till the age of 5 then when we moved to Canada and when I started school I was turning six that month so they put me straight into grade 1. I never went to school in Pakistan.

34. What color was your graduation gown? -- purple (which is also my favorite color)

35. Did you letter in anything? -- What do you mean by lettering?

36. What's the best game of tag? -- Kissing tag, NOT!!!

37. Red Rover or Crack the Whip? -- Red Rover

That was fun, went down memory lane and realized just how much I have forgotten already. Thanks sis Masooma!

Bookit Program from Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has a program called Bookit to encourage children to read, or be read to if they cannot read. Now they have one available for homeschoolers as well. It starts on October 1st and runs till March 2007. They still have some program materials available, I just enrolled today! If you are interested in enrolling in this program then download this form:
Homeschool Enrollment Order Form
or call the number on the form and enroll over the phone, it's faster!
To learn more about the program visit:
http://www.bookitprogram.com/

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Five year olds

I’m sorry for not writing that much, I feel so swamped with work these days. There’s so much to do for Connections Academy and on top of all that I also have Madressa that I teach every Sunday.

Basically another girl and I are teaching the kindergarten class. So there’s a bunch of five year olds and then my little three year old who just kind of sits there and colors or plays with play-doh most of the time. I must say it is quite entertaining teaching this class because of the things five year olds just blurt out or do during the lessons.

The funniest is this one little girl who is just so adorable. She seems to always have her mind on something else or she blurts out the most ridiculous things it’s so hard not to laugh. For example, last week the other teacher was talking to them about Jinns and how they are made of fire. So we go through the whole lesson, and everyone “seems” to understand the concept. We do an exercise and a worksheet on it. Then at the end of the class we ask them all again, “So what are Jinns made of?” And before anyone could say anything, she just yells out “ALLAH!” The other students just gave her this look which was like, “What are you ON?” It was so hard not to laugh, but we managed and explained it all again.

Now in the middle of today’s lesson she decides to interrupt us to let us all know how she went to the dentist yesterday and brushed her teeth. The look on her face was priceless because she seemed so proud of herself. It really is just a joy to teach them.

I must admit teaching at Madressa is physically and mentally exhausting, but it is turning out to be so much fun. And best of all, so rewarding!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Connections Academy

I thought I would write an update on Connections Academy and how it is coming along for us. So far the curriculum is extremely easy for us (but fun) however it is quite time consuming. I’m really happy with the connections academy support staff, they are always there and very helpful. My daughter’s teacher as well is very helpful. The schedule can be as flexible as you like it. When you run the scheduler, you can tell it how you want the subjects and lessons scheduled, on what days, etc… So far I’m very satisfied and we are already ahead of schedule, but that’s only because my 5 year old is enjoying it so much she doesn’t want to stop so I usually end up doing the next day’s lessons too.

As for the curriculum, they sent me all the supplies and books and manipulatives. There is a technology course that she does on the computer, which they sent as well, along with her printer. So far there have been some aspects of reading and writing on the computer as well, along with the music lessons (which I am pretty much skipping). Everything else we have books for and art supplies and workbooks, etc… We have a green portfolio folder as well that they supplied in which we place any assignments that are labeled to be sent to the teacher. Then we put that folder in a self-addressed stamped envelope that they sent and send it to the teacher on certain dates throughout the year. Then she will grade them and send them back to us. It’s very organized and I love the fact that it keeps me very organized as well.

As for the teacher, we can email her anytime we want with any questions we may have. We can also call her during office hours with any questions that we have. On top of all that, you schedule a bi-weekly phone conversation. So every two weeks your teacher will call you on a certain day of the week at a certain time to discuss progress, whenever it is convenient for you.

It’s a great system they have going there. I know there will also be field trips scheduled soon that we may choose to go to if we wish.

One thing that was quite interesting was a pre-assessment test called “LEAP” and after she did that test it stated that she was above grade level for reading and math. I knew she was already for reading, but I wasn’t so sure on the math.

So far the only part of the curriculum that is challenging for her is the technology course. Right now we’re learning Microsoft Word. I was quite surprised to see that they expect a 5 year old to learn copying and pasting, using the drawing toolbar and now typing a friendly letter. Well we went ahead with it anyway and I was surprised to see she got the copy and paste down and really enjoyed the word art. Now the next lesson is the friendly letter, can’t wait to see how that goes!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

African Lion Safari

There were lots of Animals, but only some of the pictures turned out decent enough to post. Here are some interesting ones that I love.



I love Zebras, so beautiful.



One of my favorite pics!



My mom feeding the animals; I know we broke the rules, so what!!!



Can someone, for the love of GOD, please tell me what animal this is???


All of the pictures above were taken by my sister.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Niagara Falls

As I promised, here are some pictures from my visit to Toronto. Here's one from Niagara Falls, this isn't the best picture I took, but this is the one I wanted to post. I just love the angle. Niagara is always fun! Especially Clifton Hill.

I'll be posting more from African Lion Safari next.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Recap

Well we’ve been back from vacation for almost a week. We had a great time, did the tourist thing, a little shopping, a little partying and hardly any resting; therefore I am still recovering.

We came home to a nice surprise. My 5 year old is now officially enrolled in Connections Academy and we have already received all of the curriculum, her computer, monitor and printer. We’ve set it all up and everything is ready to go. There is one more package in the mail which we have yet to receive but inshallah we’ll find out shortly what that may be. August 10th is the official first day of school and I have already logged onto the connections academy website and have run the scheduler and already see all of our lesson plans. It’s very nicely set up and extremely easy to navigate. So far I am very pleased with the service. I even called in last week to ask a question and I got a very quick, accurate and polite response.

Connections Academy basically is a public school, but the child is learning from home. They are government funded and you are registered with them like you would be any public school but you are the child’s learning coach at home, helping them and teaching them. The child does have a “certified” teacher that I have to continuously keep in touch with and send my child’s portfolio to them periodically. They then mark our papers and grade us, etc… It’s all taken care for you. I’m very excited to see how it all turns out this year.

Madressa is also starting on the 13th and this year I have been “volunteered” to teach. I’m actually co-teaching the pre-k and kindergarten classes. So both of my daughters will also be my students; can’t wait to see how that turns out!

I have many pictures to share, especially from Niagara Falls and also from African Lion Safari (which was a blast). We were on an elephant!!! :)

I will post pictures and write more soon, Inshallah.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goodbye for now!

We will be taking off to Toronto soon so this should be my last blog entry for a month and the comments will be moderated this month. I know I haven’t posted much lately but I promise when I get back I’ll have lots to write about. I’ve also been volunteered to be a Madressa teacher at the Islamic center next year so I will have that as well as our Connections Academy homeschooling to write about. Yes we got in!!! I’m so happy about that, thank you for all your prayers.

I hope you all have a great summer and remember to keep reading with your kids!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

She's finally five!!!


Okay so we had the big 5th birthday bash! It was not big at all, very small party for very close friends and it was so much fun. My now five year old said so many sweet things to me after the party that it almost brought me to tears. But first let me tell you more about the party.

As I mentioned before it was a Hello Kitty and Butterflies theme. Basically I had more things planned than were actually accomplished but the girls had a lot of fun jumping on the furniture and hula hooping on their own. When the guests first arrived I had a table full of crayons and beautiful hello kitty coloring pages I got from the website. There was a competition on who could color the nicest and I was the judge. At the end I liked everyone’s pages so everyone got hello kitty chocolate. We also played Pin the bow on Hello Kitty (which I didn’t get a very good picture of) and a hello kitty memory game. Then I put some temporary butterfly tattoos on the girls and they also got to have some butterfly and hello kitty stickers.

For refreshments I made this very yummy punch which everyone loved. It’s very economical to make and so easy too. Basically it was 1/2 cup of cherry kool-aid powder, 4 cups of water, 46 fluid ounce can of pineapple juice and a 2 liter bottle of ginger-ale. Mix it all together the night before (except for the ginger-ale) and put it in the fridge. Then on the day of the party pour it in the punch bowl and then dump in the ginger-ale. I also made an ice ring which I put in the punch bowl before pouring in the ginger-ale. I made the ice ring in a bundt baking pan with diluted pineapple juice and some pineapple rings and cherries or grapes. Freeze the ice ring the night before as well and it keeps the punch cold during the whole party. Very cool and delicious!

Then of course we had the standard junk food of cookies, chips and popcorn. We also had drumsticks and sandwiches and rice. Everyone enjoyed and loved the food, especially the yummy chocolate photo cake which we got from BJ’s.

The goody bags were enjoyed as well. We had all sorts of candy and accessories in them. The best were the shiny sunglasses which everyone wore for a group photo that turned out superb.

After the party in the evening my two year old was so exhausted she totally crashed and fell asleep mid-dinner. So the five year old and I were busy playing with her new toys (which turned out to be mostly Hello Kitty) after dinner and chatting it up. She was being so sweet, she kept saying what a wonderful party it was and saying, “Thank you mama for throwing me such a wonderful party, I had so much fun.” Then she kissed me and hugged me a lot. Then at one point I was asking her about her best friend who was at the party and if she had a lot of fun with her since she hadn’t seen her for a few weeks and I knew that she had missed her. I asked her as a joke if she was her favorite person at the party because they were inseparable and all of a sudden she said, “No Mama, you were my favorite person at the party and she hugged me again.” Let me tell you how difficult it was for me to hold back my tears. Even typing about it again right now is making my eyes water.

May Allah (swt) always keep her safe and happy!