Eryn


So much for colour coordination.

The other day the Hubby took Eryn so I could have some well-deserved girl time with a good friend. We had a fabulous date at a swanky restaurant — two Muslim girls drinking faux cocktails, laughing into our high-calorie salads, passing a chubby baby back and forth, and gossiping about our respective academic-stressed and dirty diaper strewn lives.

By the time I got home, Eryn was fast asleep — worn out by her own lovely date with Baba. He let her watch TV, they learned some sign language, then they went to the mosque before laughing into halal burgers and acting all cool playing with pretend mobile phones at a local cafe.

We’ve been extremely successful with potty training over the past month and recently started venturing out without diapers. So naturally, after finding out how the evening went, I just had to ask about bodily functions:

Me: So how’d it go?
Him: She had to pee when we were at the mosque. While I was praying.
Me: Oh no! What did you do?
Him: Well, I tried speeding up, but it was going to take too long. So I left prayer and took her to the bathroom.
Me: You stopped praying? You gave salaams?
Him: No. I left prayer, took her to the bathroom, came back to the musalla and picked up where I left off.
Me: Can you even DO that?
Him: *shrug* Not sure? Guess it’s time for a fatwa.

(more…)

On a Tuesday, I know.

I saw them from across the crowded room: white, succulent, fluffy, sweet, melty goodness. Beating back a crowd of women decked out in their ‘Eid finest I grabbed two bags and squealed in delight — mouthing my two favourite words to Eryn. Marshmallows. Halaal.

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, finding halal marshmallows was probably one of the few highlights of our ‘Eid.

Babies make great covert props.

Other highlights included getting fantastic parking, having an excellent breakfast and jumping on a few bouncy castles. But outside of making it a fun day for the kiddies, it was a status-quo Eid with a generic khutbah, and the same old oh-geeze-I-have-to-sit-at-the-back-and-listen-to-some-man-tell-me-that-my-non-existent-8-year-old-son-should-lead-me-in-prayer-when-my-husband-is-out-at-the-mosque.

True story. You can read more about our Eid celebration here.

Not a vampire princess. With these teeth Eryn insists she’s a princess of the paper bag variety.

After some henna and putting Eryn’s enthusiasm for repetition to good use with three days of repeating the takbeerat every chance we got, it was time for a little Halloween fun.

Now THIS is a veil I could wear every day.

We always dress up for Halloween (or for just a little cosplay) and stage a faux Glamour Shot portrait session. But this year was a special treat for me. You see, I’ve been collecting steampunk-inspired clothing for the day I could pull off an authentic look — and this Halloween was the perfect occasion.

Seriously, I think steampunk makes the wearer look just a little more fabulous.

Now all I need to do is join the local Steampunk Appreciation Society to get away with wearing these clothes at least once a month. *wink*

I’ve also already gone through one bag of marshmallows. By myself.

With pouring rain since the early morning, today was a literal washout. So we all played hookey and stayed indoors watching movies, eating junk and crafting up a storm. Why not top the day off with some lazy photoblogging to boot?

Ivy is doing well masha’Allah. I’m over the moon that she’s in the 90th percentile for weight, and am humbly smug when people gape to hear she only drinks breastmilk. Eryn was on the lower end of the scale, and I quickly grew tired of hearing how small and hungry breastfed babies are. Bah, the baby contest is all in my mind anyway.

She’s such a chunky monkey, even her toes are hungry.

Eryn is going through an interesting transition at the moment. She’s terribly independent, but descends into spirals of despair each and every time she can’t do something by herself.

She now plays the role of “mama” to her own “Ivy” doll — and will nurse when I nurse, change when I change and speak to me as “the other mama.” It’s all very sweet until she can’t dress her baby the way she wants to. Why does no one ever mention that 3 year old tantrums are 500 times worse than the “terrible twos?”

I try not to laugh when she cries because the doll’s arm won’t move the “right way” or her baby-wearing comes in-between Eryn’s mouth and a tasty treat. I try anyway (not very hard though).

It’s tragic if she can’t get to her chips with the baby in the way.

This week millions of Muslims are performing the pilgrimage to Mecca — aiming to complete the Hajj rituals and fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam. The end of the Hajj will be marked with ‘Eid ul-Adha, or the “celebration of the sacrifice” commemorating Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

So in gearing up for ‘Eid, we made a construction paper Ka’abah and a couple of sheep.

The one on the left isn’t so happy about the ritual slaughter — while the one on the right is totally saying, “Why so serious?”

I’ve taught Eryn the chant pilgrims say throughout the Hajj season and today we sang it while reenacting a couple of the Hajj rites — including circling around her new green paper Ka’abah. Green is totally the new black.

Here’s Eryn pretending that her purple monkey is Hagar and they’re running in-between the mountains, desperately searching for water.

Since Isma’il is being played by the brown monkey, I’m going to say that Ivy is the Angel. *awwww*

It’s nice that ‘Eid falls in such a special time this year. The leaves are changing colour, the air is crisper, Christmas decorations are showing up in stores and people are carving up perfectly good vegetables.

So we spent the rest of the afternoon making tissue paper ghosts.

boo.

A very flat land makes for some spectacular sunsets.

There’s something truly peaceful about sitting on a back porch, staring off into silent, golden filelds — watching the sky turn from a dusty blue into bright shades of orange and red as the sun dives down into the earth. It’s grounding to stare into the face of your own history by returning to the place where your family settled, built their home and thrived. Life seems so fantastically whimsical and easy watching your child make fast friends with distant cousins — running from one end of the house to the other shrieking joyfully, trying to race the train that’s literally running through the backyard. The mind flows blank, when the blackness of night is interrupted by streaks of green luminescence — God’s own paintbrush forcing you to reflect upon your own universal insignificance and simultaneously marking how very important you are in the lives of others.

We arrived in Regina after a short and trouble-free flight. The Hubby wasn’t sent to secondary screening for fingerprinting. It was the first time EVER that my hijab didn’t require a pat down. We didn’t even have to take off our shoes. The ease of flying domestic was tinged with both sadness and annoyance — literally showing me how much we’ve lost in the last 11 years. Annoyance that Muslims are regularly chosen for additional security checks, and sadness that I’m forced to recognize the difference between a hassle-free trip and profiling.

(more…)

This hopeful image showed up on Twitter as part of the #mysubwayad #antihate campaign against the racist anti-Muslim New York subway advertisements.

I was looking at Eryn in the rearview mirror, when she suddenly took her fingers and slanted her eyes. We were singing “Old MacDonald” while driving to school and her shocking non sequitur gesture was horribly out of place. Like a game of “one of these things is not like the other” in the Twilight Zone: Cheerios, children’s rhymes and creeping racism.

Stunned into silence, she spoke before I could even think about what to say: “Why did he do that mommy?” — and that’s when, much to my relief, I knew my little girl wasn’t trading racist jokes with her friends during recess.

While watching coverage of the 2012 Olympics this past August, a one-minute segment was aired recapping the career of Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo — and showed video footage when he slanted his eyes for the cameras after winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It’s amazing that a two second scene from two months ago made such a lasting impression on her. And makes me wonder what the daily exposure to subtle racism, or skin colour and body preference is doing to form her worldview.

(more…)

It’s always surprising and mildly infuriating — in that, “aren’t toddler just so cute” kind of way —  when in the middle of taking video of Ivy laughing for the first time, my camera runs out of space.

It’s only when I desperately try to delete photos before she stops laughing, rolling over, or serenading us, that I discover my picture-space-eating-monster is Eryn.

She’s turned into quite the little photographer.

And will take 50 photos of the same image — getting right close and personal with her subjects.

Most of the time I don’t recognise the people, objects or fingers she’s decided to snap in her impromptu photo sessions. Here however, is a very close friend of mine displaying some #MuslimRage.

And much to my delight, playtime with a Dalek.

“Would you care for some tea?”

 

 

It didn’t take long for Eryn to become a video whiz on my smart phone. Before she was two years old she knew exactly which buttons to push to watch her favourite YouTube songs and stories.

It took even less time for me to realize that I had to monitor everything she was watching. Everything.

I taught her that when she was allowed to watch videos, she could only view the ones listed under our “favourites” — which included home videos, a few Islamic songs and one or two Sesame Street stories. But eventually she learned that watching one favourite could bring up a whole list of new, exciting and unfiltered videos. At best I’d catch her watching Winnie the Pooh in Italian and at worst, the Trololo guy.

But I never thought I’d have to talk to her about little blue men.

Recently I caught Eryn looking at this:

and this:

And my personal favourite:

Yes, you’re looking at a picture of a little boy surrounded by deamon-like creatures forcibly holding him down by chains to keep him from waking up for the morning prayer.

Now, this is not the sort of thing I want my three year old exposed to. Nor something I expected from Islamic instructional songs.

(more…)

This past weekend was our sixth anniversary! So the Hubby decided to surprise me with tickets to Toronto’s FanExpo!

I was inches away from the most spectacular John Rhys Davies (Indiana Jones, LOTR), Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Lou Ferrigno (THE Hulk) and John Barrowman (Torchwood). Inches!

I could have gone for the, “these are not the droids you’re looking for” pose — but last minute pulled a Fay Wray.

We listened to John Barrowman give a Q&A where he spoke about fighting against LGTBQ stereotypes in media representations, and serenaded the audience with Phantom’s “All I Ask of You” in a fan duet.

The entire day was amazing and totally worth going just to see all of the fantastic people in costume.

I have future plans to market this as the “Dalek Burqa.”

Eryn was wary of the Stormtroopers, but was excited to see any and all robots, faeries, furries, and of course, The Doctor.

Ivy and my “official companions” pose.

I love these two. I actually recognized this Doctor from online pictures of him at another convention — and was quite happy to find him in Toronto. The TARDIS costume is also one of the best I have ever seen. Well done and welcome to Internet fame (again)!

Finally, a little eye candy.

Just as I pulled Ivy from the sling, John looked at me and took a swig from his water bottle. Our eyes met and he raised his eyebrows with my-mouth-is-full-of-water-so-here’s-some-raised-eyebrows-in-lieu-of-a-smile. *melt*

Hello Sweetie,

You’re snoring softly next to me and in a few hours you’ll wake up with a huge grin, say “Good morning mama!” and we’ll start a day filled with wonder and excitement.

At least, you’ll think it is. You amaze me by finding joy in the most simplest things. All I have to do is say that I have a surprise for you. Your mouth will drop open and you’ll cover your eyes with your hands, waiting ever so patiently for the banana, crayon or bouncy ball that I know will occupy you for at least 15 minutes. The happiness on your face during this time is priceless.

Then you’ll go back to asking for a video. You’re terribly obsessed these days. Given the opportunity to play with a bunch of new toys or a video — you’ll most likely choose the video. Perhaps it’s because we normally limit your exposure and we went overboard letting you watch too much Olympics to the point where you now can identify Pantene commercials and much to my horror, can sing the Wal-Mart song. Or perhaps it’s because you recently threw my iPhone into the pool and this traumatic notable absence in my life is reflecting in yours as obsession.

(more…)

This year was hands-down the most amazing ‘Eid celebration ever.

Oversized flowers are cheeky and a must.

We spent the entire day at a unique initiative put on by the Muslim Association of Canada — an Eid festival with carnival rides, bazaar, and for the first time (possibly EVER in Ontario) fireworks! Hundreds of volunteers worked for months to make sure that thousands of Muslims in the greater Toronto area had a spectacular Canadian ‘Eid.

Ivy soaking up some vitamin D moments before prayer.

We met up with friends and family while Eryn spent hours jumping on bouncy castles. Not only was it fun for the kids, but not once did I feel excluded from any of the religious rights. Praying outside made sure that men and women had equal and shared space. I mean, we were still in the back, but it sure beat praying in a separate room, locked in an enclosed space with kids hyped up on pixie stixs. Once the prayer was over, the lines between the sections blurred and people just did their thing wherever they wanted. It was extremely relaxed and particularly wonderful to pray without a barrier in my face (like last year in Kuwait).

Think the boy is jealous of my little imamah?

Later we had good food, stopped at another mosque to pray, and then headed home to freshen up and watch The Sound of Music before coming back for the sunset prayer and fireworks.

What made the day great outside of the festivities was the extra effort to accommodate everyone as much as possible. An American Sign Language interpreter conveyed the khutbah and dedicated volunteers headed an accessibility initiative to help increase access for all. There was a break-out space for women who wanted to nurse in private. And instead of kicking us out of the prayer area to make room for more men (which happens frequently in other contexts), women were asked to increase their rows, while men were told to wait outside while the congregation prayed maghrib together in the small gymnasium. Honestly, in twelve years of being Muslim, I have never seen this happen.

Fantastic fireworks!

It was these small details that really made the day special for all of us and made me feel like we were really part of the larger Muslim community. We always attend the MAC eid festival, but there was something extra wonderful about today. Perhaps it was because it’s Ivy’s first ‘Eid, and Eryn is old enough now to get excited and join in the fun. Regardless, they now have wonderful memories that will insha’Allah help them become grounded as Canadian Muslims.

A huge thank you to the Muslim Association of Canada and the volunteers that made today a truly great celebration.

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