fun


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.

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

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

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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.

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“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.

Winter in our part of Canada has certainly made itself known over the past few weekends. First it was snowmageddon with huge amounts of snow piling on top of the city.

And when I say “huge,” I mean several centimeters. The greater Toronto area grinds to a standstill the moment one snowflake hits the ground.

Creeping niqab is a must for winter.

Creeping niqab is a must for winter.

But there was certainly enough of the white stuff to make Eryn’s first snow angels. Ivy refused to leave my arms. You can tell she’s not happy.

In a serious turn of events, yesterday much of my area was hit with an intense ice storm that’s left 230,000 people without power.

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Every branch on every tree sounds like it’s from a Tim Burton movie

We’re safe alhamdulillah. Yesterday I saw two transistors explode into a shower of dangerous sparks and smoke — but we still have power, and spent the afternoon clearing ice off neighbours’ driveways. Several hospitals and most of our city friends are without power still this morning. People are safe, and warming centres have been set up — but it’s quite the overwhelming situation to be in.

Especially considering that many are now preparing to celebrate the holidays in the dark.

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Eryn kept asking why icicles melt — so we had a dance party to explain the motion of molecules.

So check on your neighbours. Some may not have power or may no longer have access to the charitable organizations that normally get them through this time of year. Everyone please stay safe.

We recently received this AMAZING letter in the mail, and I can’t tell you how excited I was to read it.

I have the BEST readers.

I have the BEST readers. Seriously.

I’ve shared a couple of examples from our pen pal program before, but this was just so incredibly heart-melting. It’s. So. CUTE! Eryn was overjoyed to get this letter and is already talking about her pen pal friends as if she’s met them in real life. Thank you to everyone who is making this project a success!

If you’d like a painted or written card from the girls, you can email me with your address.

Christmas carols, Super heroines, and great conversation.

Christmas carols, super heroines, and great conversation.

Last weekend we also joined fabuladies Footybedsheets and Krista from Muslimah Media Watch, for dinner. It was a lovely evening with riveting conversation on smashing the patriarchy, hijab (ugh), and amazing muslimahs.

Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season! Stay warm.

When she was still writing, the amazing fatal feminist had a regular feature showing off her monthly manicure. And I loved it so much, not only because she wrote in an edgy, playful, intelligent manner — but also because her nails looked so fabulous.

And mine did not.

I think the last manicure I got was for my wedding. I knew there would be tonnes of pictures taken of “the ring” and I wanted my hands to look beautiful, dainty, and wedding-y in the absence of mehndi — something I didn’t want to put on since it wasn’t a part of my traditional wedding culture. So for literally the first time since conversion, I got my nails done. Because, you know — it was a special occasion and somehow “okay” in my mind. For just that day. And I suppose the day after. And the week after, until I finally took my nail polish off.

Regardless of my self-permission to indulge a little, the debate continues on nail polish being a barrier to wudhu — even the breathable kind! But I just didn’t bother with nail polish after that day.

Until I found nailart.

December nails and a warm cuppa.

December nails and a warm cuppa.

There are SO MANY phenomenal nail artists creating miniature canvasses on their hands! And I’m enjoying the opportunity to be inspired, get creative, and dive into a little self-care when I can. It takes some planning and almost two hours to execute. So who knows — if it’s so time consuming I may start a style blog, or I might just do a monthly manicure show and tell.

Probably the only clean spot in the house.

Probably the only clean spot in the house.

Yesterday was a crafting extravaganza at our house before we visited Oma and Opa to decorate their tree. I ran around trying to coordinate the finger painting, gluing, and glitter sprinkling of over 20 cards while Eryn and Ivy successfully finger painted, glued, and sprinkled glitter all over the living room floor. It was so exhausting and stressful. But oh so satisfying. Especially after seeing the salt dough ornaments turn out so nicely.

This morning though, I really had to ignore the fact that my bathroom looked like the aftermath of a ticker tape parade — and that my sandwich lunch was made of hummus and glitter.

tree

“It’s the time to celebrate!”

Eryn’s school holiday concert is this week, and she’s been practicing her line for her very first play — a presentation on ‘Eid, Diwali and Christmas. I’m pretty excited to see her perform on stage, even though it’s only for a second. And even though I’ve already heard it in every pretend voice imaginable.

Just the thought of these little children coming together, singing off-key, crying, beaming proudly, and loving each other despite differences simply warms my heart.

photo (2)When I was a little girl I used to write a story in my head.

It always had the same title, but characters and their experiences changed depending on my mood — and when I was older with more romantic notions of inspiration, everything depended on my Muse.

“The Night Stalker” held caverns of unexplored territory in my imagination. I built castles, long, winding corridors, and brilliantly shining universes within my mind. The story wasn’t particularly terrifying or dramatic as the name might suggest — but represented a person who literally chased the night.

And I did. The best time to write in my mind was during dark thunderstorms. I would grab my umbrella and wander the streets around my parents’ house for hours, retreating into my mind’s sanctuary. I created worlds with their own set of universal realities and rich characters that only existed in dreams and desires. Each one searching and yearning for discovery, self awareness, and adventure.

Retreating to these worlds was like coming home and having a warm cup of tea. And then, excited and inspired, I could make them live on a piece of paper.

Not writing is disquieting.

So when I became busy with the return to work and juggling life, I could no longer pour words onto paper. I couldn’t. There simply wasn’t the time. I still walked the streets at night, creating posts and plans and dreams. But the longer I wasn’t talking to you, the more awkward it was to even think about what I would say to explain my absence.

Because I know that you know, that I know I’m not currently writing. And it shocked me to see that a month (a month!!) has passed since I last updated. And I just wasn’t sure how I could start that conversation explaining my absence.

All I want to do is ignore the gap and just take you all out for a coffee and pick up where we left off. Can we do that?

Thank you for staying. I know you’re out there — I see the steady numbers. Thank you for checking back to see if I’ve updated. Thank you for your concerned emails and your comments. Thank you for being an important and wonderful part of my life.

And in so many ways! Because even though I haven’t been speaking to you through the blog, I’ve been able to connect with a few of you through the (un)official Pen Pal Project! We live in an amazing age where Eryn and Ivy can “write” a letter and send it through snail mail — and be rewarded with pictures, tweets, Instagram and Facebook tags of people holding their letters, Eryn’s finger-painting on fridges, and home-made thank you cards in return.

From Canada to South Africa via snail mail, back to Canada via Facebook.

Ladybugs from Canada to South Africa via snail mail, back to Canada via Facebook.

I’m overwhelmed. It’s been an amazing little project. Thank you for making it happen.

So all that to say, yes, I will be writing soon. It may not be with the same frequency as in previous months — we’ll have to take it week by week.

But I miss writing and there’s just so many fun things to talk about.

(new post coming soon!)

It’s Halloween! And that means two things: a deluge of articles debating whether or not Muslims should partake in ghoulish activities, and some lazy photoblogging.

Making the rounds on social media outlets everywhere is this wonderful article from my friend, associate and all-around fabulady, Sara Yasin. In Growing up Muslim in America, and dreaming of Halloween, Sara reflects on her devout family banning Halloween, and how she handled eating too much candy and scary haunts when they gave in to her nagging:

Looking back, I remember feeling angry with my parents for not letting me participate in Halloween, but I can now understand where they were coming from. Maybe part of it was about religion, but a bigger part of it was about an anxiety about watching their children turn into strangers.

The always wonderful Omid Safi explores his love/hate relationship with Halloween and a little insight from Rumi in The demons & monsters are us–and so are the angels.

I love the fact that this is the one day of the year in many neighborhoods where people open their doors and receive one another as what we are all along:  neighbors.   And how I wish we would live like this every day, like a real community.  And I wonder what it says about us when we feel comfortable going up to our neighbors only when we are wearing masks.  How did so many of us get so alienated from our neighbors?

I’ve spoken about our participation in Halloween in years past — but my article on Muslim religious and cultural appropriation on Halloween is making the rounds again.

I really don’t understand the intention behind dressing as a religious Muslim or as a “Muslim cultural” stereotype, except perhaps to have the thrill of experiencing what it feels like being an identifiable religious or ethnic minority for a few hours – without any of the prejudice that comes with it. Because after the pumpkin candles go out and the make-up comes off, I’m the one who continues to experience Islamophobia based on what I wear on my head – even if I’m dressed as a character from Dune.

And here’s an amazingly EPIC piece on appropriation and the sexualization of of Halloween from the 2013 Brave New Voices Grand Slam Finals (some NSFW language):

I will suck every woman stereotype out of your throats. There’s nothing more frightening than a strong woman monster.

I love Halloween because it presents a perfect opportunity to dress up. And I LOVE dressing up in costume. This year I’ve totally been inspired by Tumblr.

I also did Jack Skellington last week. Nail art is SO much fun.

I also did a set with Jack Skellington last week. Nail art is SO much fun.

From nail art to activism, to recipes and life hacks, I find myself turning more and more to Tumblr to find obscure and original ideas. Like Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Cheesecake Drizzled with Caramel. Yeah, that amazing cake didn’t last long at all in our house.

"In your satin tights, fighting for your rights." Thanks Wonder Woman.

“In your satin tights, fighting for your rights.” Thanks Wonder Woman.

Gee, I don’t know how it happened, but the girls wanted to be superheroes. We started dressing up last week — flying around the apartment, listening to the Superman and Wonder Woman theme songs. Ivy is in absolute love with the Superman theme and asks for it constantly. Maybe she loves being thrown up in the air, or maybe it means she has an ear for classical music. Maybe she’s just a wonder. Or super.

A little broken. How I'm feeling about returning to work on Monday.

A little broken. How I’m feeling about returning to work on Monday.

Both girls just finished spending the evening giving out candy with their Oma to the handful of children and teenagers who braved the rain. There were even a couple of really excited adults with infants, who obviously put a lot of thought and care into creating their costumes and family memories.

Eryn was particularly excited — and when I asked why she felt so happy giving out candy, she said, “Because some childrens may not have candy. So we give sadaqa!”

We started speaking to her about charity this past ‘Eid ul-Adha and it looks like her heart is in the right place — even on Halloween.

*dusts off computer*

Amazing! It’s time for another edition of the Muslim roundup! For new readers, this is one of my favourite blog features where I scan the media for the ridiculous, the outrageous, the amazing and the most fabulous articles about Muslim women and Islam in general and throw a bunch of informal snark into the mix.

This week we look at fashion, fierce fitness, hijab appropriation, and as always, some truly badass muslimahs.

Enjoy!

1) Be fashion forward, shocking, and controversial — shine bright like a diamond while wearing Islamic attire!

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

Singer Rihanna sporting a pseudo-abaya and black hijab.

This week, R&B pop artist Rihanna caused a bit of a stir when she joined the burqa-swag-exploitation ranks of Madonna and Lady Gaga by engaging in a little Muslim appropriation. Authorities at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque asked Rihanna and her staff to leave the premises after an impromtu photo-shoot on the mosque grounds.

Like most places of worship, the Grand Mosque has protocols in place to maintain sanctity, order, and the privacy of worshipers. Allegedly, Ri-Ri ignored these protocols by entering through an area restricted to visitors, not identifying herself to mosque officials for a private tour, and not obtaining a permit for a photo shoot that had her in various non-mosque-appropriate-poses. After the photos were uploaded to Instagram, the mosque released a level-headed and general statement explaining the incident, saying that “a singer” who was taking pictures “that do not conform with the conditions and regulations put in place by management,” left after being asked to do so. Seems pretty innocuous, right?

Naturally, the media buzz is generating SHOCK and AWE about what she wore — an “Islama-chic” black jumpsuit, hoodie, and burn my hijab, MAKEUP!! *gasp*

From the Globe and Mail:

[In the photos] Rihanna is also wearing eye makeup along with bright-red lipstick and nails – modern fashion accessories spurned in the bustling Islamic city.

Really. Really? Globe and Mail? Obviously the Globe and Mail has never, ever spoken with an actual Muslim woman living in the Gulf region. The literal birthplace of red lipstick.

Look, you want to wear hijab out of respect and take the 100 fils mosque guided tour, go for it. But Rhianna’s instagram betrays just how little she actually thinks of Muslim women and the hijab:

"Bitch stole my look" reads the caption as Rihanna give some cut-eye to some passing women.

“Bitch stole my look” reads the caption as Rihanna gives some cut-eye to passing women on their way to pray.

Nice. Just stay under your umbrella the next time you want to fetishize and sexualize Muslim women’s clothing for your personal fashion shoot Ri-Ri.

"Memories of Childhood" by Selina Roman.

“Memories of Childhood” by Selina Roman.

2) Also cashing in on the grand “burqa swag” narrative is The Burqa Project – recently covered (HAHA) by online art magazine Beautiful/Decay.

In 2009 Selina Roman started documenting the burqa in various poses. Yes, you read that right. She’s not documenting Muslim women — but the burqa.

According to the article, Roman, a former reporter-turned fashion photographer, hopes to offer her audience a different view point, a new way of seeing:

Although the Burqa is shrouded in religious significance, I take it out of this context in an attempt to explore these other attributes. Instead of showcasing it as an oppressive garment, I place the Burqa in idyllic Florida landscapes to let it float and billow. In turn, it becomes an ephemeral and weightless object removed from its politicized context.

I guess there are no idyllic Afghani landscapes to let the burqa float and billow? Oh wait, here’s one. The burqa is an inherently oppressive garment? Here are some Afghan women who might argue that the source of oppression lies in patriarchy, gender discrimination, and religiously-justified misogyny — not in clothing.

Is it art? Is it life? Is it objectifying the already objectified? How meta.

3) Move over spray tanned, bikini-clad celebrity bodies — here come some seriously fit and fierce hijabi fitness instructors.

Zaineb and

The fierce and fantastic Zainab and Nadine.

I never thought I’d say this, but the Daily Mail has a really great article on the first “Islamic” fitness DVD. Meet Nadine Abu Jubara, a personal trainer, and instructor Zainab Ismail (THE hijabi drill sergeant). Together they make up the team behind Nadoona – a fitness and health support website geared primarily toward women concerned with modesty.

The motivation behind the website and soon to be released fitness video came when Nadine lost over 50 pounds after changing her dieting and fitness lifestyle. Finding there were few Islamic resources in this arena to support her, she decided to create her own.

Women, not just Muslim women, tend to use modesty as an excuse to neglect their bodies. Long sleeves and flowing tops shouldn’t mean flabby arms and love handles. And, a strenuous workout doesn’t require machines and a crowded gym full of spectators.

The Nadoona website reads like a regular fitness resource. Upon first glance, you probably wouldn’t notice anything particularly “Islamic” about it — except for maybe saying “bismillah” before starting on your fitness journey, and the YUMMY “Fit for Allah” smoothie. They have a 30 day challenge, hijabista events, and even workout instructions for men. And the hard work and intention to regain health seems to work, according to the testimonials.

I’m totally in love with these women! They are my heroes for the week. They are fierce. FIERCE!! TIGHT!! Makes me want to workout for Allah for a living!

Check out the body-pumping DVD teaser here:

4) Finally, I did a thing.

Langston Hues is an amazing Muslim visual artist and photographer, and he’s working on a book commemorating the emerging faith-driven culture of modest street style being seen in magazines, runways and on streets worldwide. The write-up on his website explains:

It is the first book to visually document this ever growing international trend that has exploded from the streets of Kuala Lumpur to the alleys of New York City. Profiling some of the top ‘hijabistas’ this is a must-have inside look into a twenty-first-century genesis of a faith driven style.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a top hijabista — just an urban chic mom trying to hide spilled yogurt with animal prints and looking fabulous while babywearing.

Langston was amazing to work with. He’s incredibly humble, funny and talented — and I’m so honoured and thrilled to be a part of this project.

Check it out, and try to guess which one is me:

It’s been an extra-extra long weekend with ‘Eid falling right after Canadian Thanksgiving. Of course, this means lots of extra time for crafting.

One of the more lucky sheep.

One of the more lucky sheep on this blessed day.

We made festive autumn-inspired, Thanksgiving ‘Eid cards for all of our neighbours. Each card was accompanied by some candy and ribbon. It was amazing watching Eryn excitedly hang each treat bag on all the doors — and even more amazing seeing her beam with pride when we returned to see that the bags had disappeared.

Several neighbours have returned the favour by leaving the girls sweet thank you notes on our door, and it’s giving us all such a nice, warm, communal feeling.

eid4

Won’t you be my neighbour?

I’ve been thinking of starting a snail mail project to help Eryn learn the value of sending real, physical letters. Especially now that she’s learning how to write and really recognize her alphabet letters, I want to encourage her to love the art of writing. So, if you’re interested in receiving some finger paint art, send me your address. Seriously. We’ll send you something!

Popcorn for breakfast is perfectly acceptable for 'Eid.

Popcorn for breakfast is perfectly acceptable on ‘Eid. Or any day, really.

I’m also going to be *gasp* returning to work in *gulp* a couple of weeks. I have a few important posts I want to get out before that happens — but I also want to spend the rest of the month shoring up my resolve to leave my warm babies every morning, working on my LinkedIn profile, and getting caught up on Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Priorities, I know.

Once I’m into a good rhythm with work-life-mom balance I’ll be blogging much more regularly. I know I’ve let a couple of features, like the “muslim roundup,” slide over the past few months — much to my own personal pain since that’s seriously a fun post to pull together. But with a two-and-a-half hour commute every day, I’ll probably be writing a lot more again.

Happy ‘Eid everyone! Hope this weekend was fun, beneficial, and fulfilling for you all.

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