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).


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


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.


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 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.

*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.


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

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


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.

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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.


“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.

Eryn is sick.

She very unfortunately brought back a couple of friends with her from Kuwait. A couple of very nasty friends. It started while we were boarding the plane home. Literally, just as our boarding passes were being scanned from Kuwait City to Washington, I looked down to see Eryn shaking all over — and I didn’t need a thermometer to know she was spiking a high fever. Luckily the explosion of bodily fluids didn’t happen until we were on the ground at Toronto.

sick Eryn

Sleeping while in the care of her gracious aunt.

It’s been a pretty hectic week-and-a-half with multiple trip to doctors’ offices, lab drop-offs, the constant laundering of soiled linens, emergency runs for medicine and gatorade and trying to entertain Ivy while quarantining Eryn in the bathroom. We don’t know where she contracted the bacteria — but I can’t wait until they leave. Alhamdulillah today she really started responding positively to her meds.

We’ve had amazing support from family and friends. The fantastic Shireen Ahmed, who blogs about all things football and badass muslimah, came over WITH COFFEE, presents, and read books to Ivy while I bathed a miserable Eryn. And my fabulous sister-in-law has been nothing but amazing — entertaining the girls so I can disinfect the house, and took over for a few hours on Thursday for me to take a breather.

Uncle Alice Cooper and my billion dollar baby.

Uncle Alice and my billion dollar baby.

Isn’t this just the most fantastic family portrait you’ve ever seen?

You might be aware that I am a massive fan of Alice Cooper. I had the upmost pleasure in meeting him at FanExpoCanada during my breather, grabbing a signature, and of course, memorializing the event at a planned photo opportunity. He went absolutely mushy over Ivy and spent some time playing with her feet, gushing over her cookies, and giving me the ultimate fan experience by just being his classy, normal and friendly self. I’m still in a bit of shock.

And then again on the weekend, the spectacular Oma and Opa took over care of Eryn so that the Hubby and I could celebrate our anniversary by doing a little Steampunk cosplay and spending a short afternoon at the Expo trying to catch a glimpse of Hulk Hogan, Carrie Fisher, and of course, Colin Baker, the sixth doctor.

And among all the Stormtroopers, Daleks, anime characters, and Batmans, I found this fabulady:

Oh hai. I’m just a super fabulous niqab-wearing fan because I’m AWESOME.

After a quick introduction I asked what the eyepatch was all about and she explained that while she was dressed as herself, the patch was to pay hommage to her favourite anime character, Hatake Kakashi. It’s so much fun when one’s hijab easily turns into a bit of cosplay. Such a cool lady and a pleasure to meet.

Baby steampunk!

Baby steampunks!

I didn’t go all out this year with the costume — but it was impressive enough to get more than a few photo requests. And Ivy became fast friends with a couple of really sweet steampunk girls who made their costumes. Made. Their. Own. Costumes.


The rest of the weekend was spent holed up in bed, reading and singing to Eryn. Hopefully she’ll be well enough to attend Muslimfest next weekend — she deserves a little fun on a bouncy castle.

It’s just after taraweeh prayers — and I should be sleeping, but jet lag has my wheels spinning, and no doubt I’ll be up way past fajr again. Surprise! We’re in Kuwait.


Flying over a marine channel in the middle of the desert.

The Hubby came home from his stint in the UK and before he could take a breath, we were off to spend the rest of Ramadan with his family. But not before missing our flight due to delays and spending an extra 24 hours in Washington.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened. Two years ago delays allowed us to spend the day checking out main monuments and points of interest in the city. And I must say, the White House looks a LOT bigger in the movies.


Main entrance, women’s entrance and basement.

Since it was Friday, we spent most of the day getting to and from the mosque. We went to the beautifully constructed, Islamic Center — a surprising sight in-between an eclectic collection of embassies. After walking through the main entrance and courtyard, Ivy and I were soon directed to the women’s section. I missed the entrance at first because the stairs led down toward toilet facilities and I naively thought there was no way such a nice looking mosque would send women underground. Instead, I took the stairs up at the back of the mosque and met a locked door. So, down to the toilets I went.

The women’s section is nice enough. Spacious and has two big screen TVs with an excellent speaker system (hey wow! What fantastic selling points)! But what won me over was a coincidental meeting.

After the prayer I looked up to see a woman in a black abaya staring and smiling at me. So I walked over, greeted her and we started talking. She was moved by the diversity in cultures at the mosque and was blown away when I told her I was Canadian. She was en route from Kuwait to Canada, just stopping off in Washington to visit her sick father. Funny how two travellers coming and going from the same countries were able to bump into each other, share a laugh, a hug and salaams.


Obligatory Ramadan food picture

With some serious lucky children sleeping through most of the flight and 14 hours later, we arrived just in time for break fast. And then almost immediately were thrown into some early Girgian celebrations. Which from what I’ve seen thus far, include cheesy remixed 80’s music, magicians and lots of carnival fun for kids.


Fancy a midnight carnival ride?

Tomorrow we’re invited to some more events for children. So far even though I’ve made it to the mosque, hear the adhaan five times a day and listen to Qur’an almost non-stop — it feels more like a huge party and less like what Ramadan is “supposed” to feel like. Though, I’m sure that will end once the jet lag stops thwarting my attempts to get up before noon.

I’m looking forward to discovering the spirit of Ramadan here as well.

Happy Ramadan everyone! Whether you’re observing through fasting, prayer, good deeds, reading, unplugging from social media, charity, yummy food, mosque hopping, all of the above, or none — may the month bring you joy, fulfillment, knowledge and self discovery.

I wish the path to self discovery was as effortless as holding hands in rainbow pin-stripped dresses.

I wish the path to self discovery was as effortless and whimsical as holding hands in rainbow pin-striped dresses.

I am woefully, woefully behind on my Ramadan prep. The Hubby took off early last week for more business in Reading — so I’ve been busy with the girls and somehow things just got away from me.

Now it’s the day before the first fast of Ramadan and nothing is ready. (Hubby starts Wednesday, in-laws are already fasting — but I made my intention to follow ISNA well before I found out the rest of Toronto is fasting on Wednesday too. Oops.)

A new calendar filled with clues to treats... that I don't have yet.

I did manage to make a new calendar filled with clues to treats… that I don’t have.

I don’t really have any decorations up and all of the treats, games and events I’ve promised the girls in their daily Ramadan Advent Calendar have yet to be organized. Big time #mommyfail. My plan was to decorate the apartment tonight, but unfortunately, Toronto and surrounding areas were hit with several flash floods and power outages.

So while I intended to come home in time for maghrib and welcome Ramadan with dates, prayer and some incense — I instead wished Eryn and Ivy a Happy Ramadan in the stairwell while climbing 23 floors. Twice. Alhamdulillah, we’re safe and the power is back on, but for a while the only water we had in the house was a small jug of zamzam.

And thank God for that. There’s definitely blessings in small miracles — and a huge lesson in emergency preparedness.

Meh. It's a rite of passage.

Craft time casualty. It’s a rite of passage.

Actually, taking care of the girls at this age by myself has taught me so very much. They miss their Baba terribly — even Ivy gets excited to hear his voice over the phone and she “speaks” to him emphatically about the location of her nose and belly, and the sounds made by elephants and monkeys. But despite missing him, I think they’re enjoying the non-stop girl party. They’re at a really good age where they can both interact and play with each other constructively. Tantrums are down to a minimum and I’ve actually managed to get them into bed at decent times.

We have a really good rhythm going that involves lots of outdoor time and craft activities — and I think it’s the only way I’ll be able to handle them while fasting on my own.