fun


Well it’s been a somewhat interesting Ramadan.

Insha’Allah I’ll be sharing a post I wrote for Muslimah Media Watch soon that talks a little about how I’ve been feeling this month, and echoes many of the sentiments I shared with you in my last major post. I had intended to write more about the reasons I converted, but the month literally flew by and here we are with just about a week left.

That doesn’t mean I won’t write about it. I have some serious issues it seems and I want to tackle them the best way I know how. Through over-sharing with all of you!

Just a little light reading before bed.

Just a little light “pretend” reading before bed.

We spent much of Ramadan just being normal. Which means going about our day without much fuss if we decided to have a random dance party or going to baby birthday parties instead of the mosque.

The Hubby and I signed up for a pre-iftar halaqa through Seeker’s Guidance and live-streamed Sheikh Faraz Rabbani who spoke about how to become closer to God. I’ve known Sheikh Faraz for years. He’s one of the more accessible teachers of sacred knowledge, and has owned up to some issues that I’ve called him out on in the past. Plus singing and dhikr! What’s not to love?

Some of his more memorable thoughts included not showing up to a religious lesson “just because” — make sure you have focus, and that the subject or action speaks to your heart. Or when there is a difference of opinion, don’t argue over the differences — but be considerate. There is special dispensation when there is a difference of opinion. So if you believe that eating shellfish is haraam, and you’re with someone who serves it to you with good intentions, you’re permitted to eat the fried calamari — so pass the lemon sauce instead of refusing to eat and turning into a monster mullah (my words, not his).

Sneaking.

Ivy sneaking some of our iftar while we finished up prayer.

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Just slightly easier than doing a wreath.

Just slightly easier than doing a wreath.

Diamond, lace and pearl stringed garlands dripped from the walls. An ocean of aqua and teal coloured streamers accented the food station. Glitter. Flowers. Individualized costumes. Cartoon seaweed placards, fish-themed mats, and a gleaming pearl shell-of-hounour. It was the perfect decoration job for a mermaid-themed party.

While Arial serenaded Eryn and her school friends, a few of us mothers got together to chat and have our own little party. It didn’t take long before praising the hostess on her amazing decorations turned into questions on how each of us are creating Ramadan memories for our children — and how sometimes, the pressure to decorate is just one more thing added to the unrealistic expectations placed upon mothers and primary caregivers in this month. There’s just not enough time, and memories can be made with good food, asking children to pass out dates, festive music, Ramadan-themed crafts, and anything of significance to inspire family traditions.

Regardless of what you do, decorating for Ramadan can be easy. And even though we’re almost at the mid-way point, it’s not too late to decorate!

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photo 2Hello Sweetie,

You blow my mind. Constantly.

Lot’s of babies and toddlers are cute — but you seriously epitomize what it means to be cute. And not because I give you Beatles-esque bangs or because your cheeks are squishable and love being squished. It’s not because you have a melodious voice or squint your eyes and tilt your head when saying, “huh?”

It’s because you care.

You are now two years old and you have an amazing capacity to empathize. If I give you two cookies, you give one to your sister. If Oma gets a hug, everyone else in the room gets a hug. When your sister hurts herself, you’re right there to stroke her back. You serve everyone tea, water and pretend cookies. I love it when you come into the house to ask a question, and then leave but come back to say, “Thank you mama” — and leave again, only to return a third time… slowly poking your head around the corner because you know repetition is hilarious. Hilarious.

And this quality of caring and attention you give to others is incredibly endearing.

You have a natural affinity toward living things. You might be wary of some insects, but you are incredibly curious and have no problems holding earthworms. Big dogs startle you, which is understandable considering they’re twice your size — but give you the leash of a small puppy and you’re happy to give commands. Cats are your favourite and you will sit patiently — gently calling until a cat allows you to pet her. You “shoo” lazy sap beetles and chase dragonflies. I can’t wait for the day a butterfly lands on you.

(more…)

It’s certainly a busy time. So busy in fact, that my Monday moments have turned into a mid-week, lazy-photo-blogging update post.

Waited just long enough to take a picture before I started micromanaging.

Waited just long enough to take a picture before I started micromanaging.

We’re still in the process of moving.

In my perfect world moving just means picking up stuff from one place and taking it to another. In reality, we had to get rid of mold in the attic, fix up some water damage, paint, re-purpose a TV stand, replace floor boards and make a pantry out of some old crates before unpacking. So even though we’re two months into the new house, I still have plenty of boxes to go through.

Of course, while waiting for the big things to get done, I decided to work on the garden.

Can't imagine what the neighbours think.

Can’t imagine what the neighbours think.

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We're all superheroes!

We can all be superheroes!

When I first heard the news that a Muslim woman was the new face of Ms. Marvel, I was beyond excited. For the first time in years, I finally had a great excuse to walk into a comic book store, breathe in the ink and paper, and look at more than just the Doctor Who action figures. Finally, a comic about self discovery, super powers and fighting injustice that not only deal with issues of religion, race and identity — but celebrated the first Muslim heroine to headline her own major series!

What’s not to love?

The first issue opens with Kamala Khan, a teenage Pakistani-Muslim American, complaining about how everyone else around her gets to be “normal” — which in Kamala’s mind means being able to go to parties, be free from dietary restrictions, cultural expectations, and traditional gender roles.

Like many teens (and adults!), the poor girl doesn’t know who she wants to be, or how to become that person — and soon realizes that rejecting her morals and being something she’s not is horribly exhausting.

Kamala’s story is similar to many superhero narratives where an unpopular kid is suddenly granted an empowering and amazing transformative ability – literally. After disobeying her parents in order to attend a party, she’s exposed to a strange and mystical fog that grants her the power to change her body into anything she wants.

She wakes from the experience to find that she’s transformed into a stereotypical, blond bombshell superhero — complete with a revealing, sexy spandex costume. And while she painfully fluctuates between her true self and the stereotype, she wonders why she still doesn’t feel strong or beautiful — even though she’s become exactly what she thinks is strong and beautiful.

When her intimidating popular classmates show up, she feels incredibly uncomfortable – like she has to become someone else to be accepted by those around her. And to escape the feeling that she’s now trapped in a body that she doesn’t identify with, she shrinks to the size of an insect. Then, when a classmate is in danger of drowning, she embraces her new powers and saves the day.

Kamala quickly learns that looking the way female super heroes are normally portrayed in comic books and in movies (with epic wedgie-inducing leotards), doesn’t actually make her more confident. What’s meaningful to her and her sense of Self is having the ability to rush to someone’s aid. It’s not the costume that makes someone a hero, but the desire to help others: To save one life is to save all humanity.

In the second issue, Kamala embraces more of her internal superhero without compromising her morals (cue modest costume). But what I really love about the writing and issues of representation, exclusion and identity, is that it’s not coming off as inauthentic. This iteration of Ms. Marvel is creating characters that move beyond the overrepresented, negative stereotypes of Muslim women in a new and exciting way.

Kamala is geeky. She loves the Avengers. She’s short. She’s so much more than a Muslim stereotype.

test

And in the third issue, when she’s not taking on super villains, she’s taking challenging barriers.

The fact that she’s dealing with issues like Muslim-American identity, mosque inclusion, and struggling with her faith is important – and not because Muslims should be airing their dirty laundry for mainstream community discussion. But because when it comes to representation, we’re frequently told that Muslim women are oppressed.

Kamala Khan shows us otherwise — and by doing so, sets the scene that there is no reason Ms. Marvel can’t be Pakistani or Muslim (or short and geeky too).


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Winners to be announced shortly.

Thank you to everyone for participating.

It took me WEEKS to find a comic store who’s still ordering the first issue. And I’m happy to say that for this giveaway we’ll have two lucky winners!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a valid email address (either in the comment itself or in the email field when you fill out the comment form).

The two winners will receive one copy of the first issue (third printing) for FREE!

I’ll announce the winners picked at random after the contest closes.

You have until midnight GMT on Friday June 6, 2014 to enter.

Good Luck!

Hello everyone.

I just wanted to say thank you again for hanging around.

I know you’re out there because I’m still receiving emails and comments from people asking when I’ll start posting regularly again — and I see the statistics of visitors interested in my posts. Though the most popular searches seem to be whether or not Muslim women can show their hair or pray while menstruating – and strangely, my post on Cinderella: an Islamic Tale has Google’s most popular image of the Disney Princess herself.

(Go figure.)

But I also wanted to apologize.

For almost four years I’ve put a lot into this blog. I’ve made amazing connections around the globe. Connections that I am extremely thankful for. And I’ve learned a lot from you, my readers. The people who call me out when I make mistakes; who leave phenomenal comments and start interesting discussions; who send me notes, and cards, and baby blankets; who meet me on Skype to chat; who go out of their way to jump on a London train and travel to a small UK town, totally jet-lagged after an earlier flight from South Africa — just to meet me for an afternoon meal and some impromptu wedding planning; who have tracked me down on Facebook and approached me at concerts; who lurk behind the anonymity of the internet, becoming just another visitor stat on my blog. I have learned so much from each and every one of you.

I’m apologizing because I unplugged and didn’t tell you.

I’ve been struggling the past six months with my digital connections. First it was pulling back from Facebook. Then Twitter. And then unintentionally, the blog. I haven’t quite put my finger on why I became overwhelmed with social media, but I think it started when digital trends seemingly demanded that I should write on the flavor of the month, the-most-popular-topic-relating-to-Muslim-women-right-now-OMG-look-Buzzfeed-has-an-article-and-here’s-a-viral-video-scandal, and not for myself or for you.

So I unplugged.

I deleted all my apps. I stopped thinking about life in terms of status updates, hashtag activism, and what people might find interesting because everyone on Facebook was talking about some popular topic, only to jump on another one the next day. I bought a journal and started retraining my hand in the physical act of writing.

I haven’t completely plugged back in. I need to figure *stuff out — like dealing with the irony of using a social platform to grapple with my sudden aversion to digital streams of communication. Or the fact that I keep writing posts like this.

But I just wanted to update you after a month of silence. And let you know that I will be writing again.

Thank you again for your patience while I figure things out.

In the meantime, it’s been a busy month.

Yes, I totally distracted myself from crying by instagramming the moment. So many issues!

Yes, I totally distracted myself from crying by instagraming the moment. So many issues!

We bought a house! Masha’Allah, alhamdulillah. We moved from the “big city” to a “village” — and I spent a week packing up memories, leaving spaces where we have grown as a family, and dealing with change.

There were more than a few crying spells due to stress. I like having roots and change of the moving kind makes me feel a little floaty. I need grounding. I need to know that my keys are “here” and my hijabs are right “there.” It may sound a little infantile, but I feel better when I have some measure of control over the space around me.

I also need to find my spring clothes — otherwise I’ll be in sweaters for the next few weeks.

Love wainscoting.

Love wainscoting. Makes me feel like we’re in a Jane Eyre novel.

But with change comes new memories. And the most important thing is that the girls now have a bigger space to grow and learn alhamdulillah. Already they’ve decided that being outside is their most favourite thing ever — and they love knocking on the door playing “mail delivery service” or helping me dig up the garden.

exploring

Exploring our new area which has a surprising amount of hipsters.

We also get to do a lot more things as a family. Going outside for a walk in a residential area where there are children playing, live entertainment, and ice cream shoppes just seems so “normal.” Our new normal anyway.

It’ll be fun exploring this new phase of our lives — and I hope to share it with you as well.

 

*stuff includes a whole slew of considerations. Like, we had a really drawn out winter. We moved. I took on a new position at work. I’m feeling even more disconnected from the Muslim community. I don’t feel like myself. There was change everywhere. I hope I don’t sound too first-world-whiny over what seems to be a really insignificant thing. I’m just sharing my feelings on one point, without a lot of the supporting context. Especially when there seems to be so many positive things happening! The situation could be much, much worse. I know this.

No, really. Despite the stereotypes. We are.

Also, this video is PHENOMENAL!

Via thehonestpolicy.

EDIT: Just waiting for a Mipsterz-gate type of commentary to emerge. I’m already a little surprised at some of the negativity on Twitter.

*dusts off computer*

Oh, hai. Assalamu ‘alaikum. What’s up? How are you? I’m good, alhamdulillah.

I took a little longer than expected to figure out this whole work/life/blog balance thing. To be honest, I have at least four posts in my drafts folder that I’m sitting on only because I’m overwhelmed. I feel like social media can be all-consuming some times and it gave me a really bad case of writer’s block.

Something (pick anything from the last roundup) will spread like wildfire and it just seems like the entire world (or at least my slice of it) will flood Facebook and Twitter with incredibly intelligent and brilliant articles — and I’ll want to join the party with my penny shoes and maybe a top hat.

But it takes me so long to research, read and write, on top of the all-consuming realities of daily life, that the topic seems to move on by the time I’m ready to post. So I haven’t been posting — just a lot of editing, rewriting, sitting-on-thoughts and staring wistfully at my party dress.

I’ve also been hiding. On Tumblr.

And making steampunk-inspired jewelry.

sdfsdf

At 4am because I’ve also been dealing with some insomnia.

And travelling to DC to visit family and take funny pictures.

sdfsdf

Eryn’s first hadouken meme.

And doing lots of crafty things. Like window painting.

f hgf

Which is surprisingly easy to clean!

And of course, figuring out what to do with the kids over March Break — with all sorts of amazingness going on in this video:

March Break was lovely. It was like being on maternity leave all over again. And while it was still difficult to make the time to write, I actually had time to cook dinner. Which given my track record over the last three months, is nothing short of a miracle

Luckily I’ve been keeping up with a few of you over Facebook and even through email. So thank you for reaching out, for all your understanding and supportive messages. Thank you all for your patience.

Our living situation is going to change in a month or so insha’Allah, which will mean a different commute route and a more conducive space for writing.

It’s also Spring. A time for renewal, refresh and hopefully a source of positive inspiration. (And maybe even a giveaway or two!)

ps… I miss you.

So. This happened.

chrisH

It was a last minute invite to the FFWD Advertising Week conference in Toronto. Commander Chris Hadfield — you know, the first Canadian to walk in space and command the International Space Station — the first astronaut to harness the world of Social and humanize the space program by singing with 70,000 Canadian children from space and tweeting gorgeous pictures of the Earth — you know, the guy who paid eight Euros for the rights to Bowie’s iconic song to make this viral video:

He was a keynote speaker and I luckily noticed him sneaking a peak at one of the early sessions. I took the opportunity to grab a picture and signature for Eryn. It was, pretty cool to say the least. He’s a super nice guy and loved talking about his kids, my kids and didn’t seem to mind the intrusion.

Then this happened:

yuna

Last night I joined a hugely diverse mix of really awesome funk-inspired, hispter, Muslim, indie Torontonians in welcoming YUNA to Toronto for the first time ever.

She was an absolute Queen. Totally fierce, sweet and obviously in love with performing for her fans. We all had such a great time. And she played my current favourite song, Mountains:

Is it even possible that it sounded better live? She puts so much emotion into her performances. It was a true pleasure to experience.

I even got to meet a few readers — which is always a really big treat for me. Connecting in real life is not only encouraging but makes me feel even closer to the blog and my audience. I always write to you from my head and my heart — like I’m writing letters to friends. So having the opportunity to share pictures of the girls, handshakes and hugs in the flesh is completely mind-blowing.

Thanks to everyone who introduced themselves. You’ve made my year!

Menstruation mani!

Monthly mani with some New Year’s pizzazz!

So it’s the first full week of the New Year — and while I don’t tend to make resolutions, if I had made any of the traditional ones, I would’ve broken them all.

We started the weekend with oven baked spicy fries and a peanut butter pie. PEANUT BUTTER PIE. That’s over a cup of peanut butter, icing sugar and whipping cream. With chocolate sauce. Amazing. Then two rounds of double chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and my devilishly cheesy, cheese pasta bake.

yum

Elderberry and mint cordial with raspberries.

We were stuck indoors all day Sunday, so we entertained ourselves by making infused water. I let the girls choose their veggies and fruit combinations and helped them cut up and then mix up some concoctions. After two hours in the fridge, we had a water tasting competition to see who came up with the best mix. Eryn’s favourite was cucumber, apple and mint — Ivy was more partial to blueberry, strawberry, lemon and mint — while I’m always a sucker for elderberry.

asdasdas

“I’m going by myself!”

Saturday had glorious sunshine, so I took Eryn skating for the first time. She had such a blast and soon had me lacing up so I could zoom along with her. It’s totally amazing subhan’Allah, that after 25 years I was still pretty good on the ice. I expected to be wobbly — but was surprised at how easily everything came back to me. Eryn was pretty amazing too.

She fell plenty of times but loved every second.

Tai Chi...

Learning from the pro.

We couldn’t have celebrated the New Year without a trip to the grandparents. Which also included more pie, a halal turkey and all of the trimmings of course. And then when we could barely move anymore, a quick lesson in Tai Chi.

My father has been an instructor for almost 30 years – but he always says that babies know how to do the motions best. It’s an exercise of renewal and revitalization where the aim is to help the body become more youthful and healthy.

Maybe it’ll inspire me to get up early tomorrow and head back to the gym. Maybe.

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