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.

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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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*drum roll* Please…

The winners of the Ms. Marvel giveaway are:

*confetti*

Congratulations!

The winners were chosen based on their comment number and were drawn by random.org.

I’ve contacted them via email and will be sending them their comic shortly.

Thanks to everyone who played along!

Don't grow so fast my dears.

Don’t grow so fast my dears.

Sometimes you can sense when a person is genuine.

Maybe it’s a gleam in the eye, a kind smile or welcoming body language — but for me, sensing a person’s sincerity is often linked to a feeling.

Genuine people have warmth and exude trust. Or, as is is fondly said, they have noor in their face — where the light of their goodness shines for all to see.

Last week we attended a birthday party, where a talented clown entertained and delighted most of the children. Eryn laughed at every pun and hasn’t stopped talking about the amazing unicycle trick. But Ivy was less impressed — and I eventually had to take her outside for a walk because she started crying inconsolably and wanted to go home. Which I can totally respect.

Because, you know. Clowns.

While we were taking a quick turn around the block in the lovely spring weather, a gentleman sauntered up next to us.

Hey! That’s my baby!”

I glanced to the side to see he was carrying a broken tree branch in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. As I looked up, I saw his rheumy black eyes, tinged with blue, ripening cataracts sparkling in the sun. He had a gap between his front teeth when he smiled. My girls have the same gap.

Normally, I suppose that if anyone would say, “Hey that’s my baby!” to me, I’d become excessively protective, avoid conversation and possibly eye contact. But I wouldn’t really know how I would act, since no one has ever said that to me before.

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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.

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