Archive for June, 2008

A New Home, A New School and A New Beginning…

Alhamdulillah we have safely moved into our new home. The children have adjusted to the move much better than I expected. Most likely it’s because they get to play outdoors almost everyday. Since we  share a common backyard with our neighbours they have more than enough space to play, cycle and use up their bundles of energy and if that’s not enough we can always head for the playgrounds nearby or take nature walks.

And insha-Allah my eldest daughter, soon to turn 6 (although she likes to stress that she’s already 6 according to the Islamic calendar) will be starting 1st grade this fall via a virtual school using the K12 curriculum. After having homeschooled her on a informal basis for the last 3 years or so, I am a bit apprehensive about being answerable to someone else other than myself (smiles). But Alhamdulillah I have made istikharah and if it is good for us then insha-Allah Allah will make it easy for us.

Since school doesn’t start till August 29th, I guess I better enjoy these less stressful times and at the same time prepare myself mentally for the challenges ahead.

In a recent phone interview with her placement teacher, I was given an idea of what our daily schedule would be like. The placement teacher casually mentioned that my daughter would be required to clock in a total of 5 hours of school a day. I gulped and thought to myself, surely she can’t be serious!? Honestly I don’t believe she needs 5 hours of school per day but then again that’s just my opinion. It’s funny how in our “informal” homeschool there have been days when we would be working on our lapbooks or some crafts or reading stories of the prophets well nigh into the night, thus easily clocking far beyond 5 hours of “school” but since that was done on “our time” and liking it was OK. But when literally “forced” to do 5 hours and it’s a whole different story, isn’t it?

Insha-Allah I hope “school” doesn’t become a chore for us but for now I have run out of steam to continue making our own lessons, so this will have to do.

Hence, one of the reasons I’ve decided to come up with this blog is to keep a recording of our homeschool trials and tribulations…and insha-Allah achievements and joys. (smiles)

PS. This was written last summer and alhamdulillah we have successfully completed 2 semesters of the online school. We are taking a well deserved summer break now (breathes sigh of relief!) and bi ithnillah I plan to write my thoughts on our homeschooling experience thus far. So keep a lookout for that, insha-Allah.

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My Daughter’s Observation

It was nice day out with the family. We had gone to a nearby playground and we were the the only ones there. We were on the swings when A’ishah said, “Mommy if there was a woman here you could talk to her.” “Yes.” I responded. Curious as to why she made the remark , I asked her, “And what if there was a man here?” “Then Daddy can talk to him.”, was her matter-of-fact reply.

I don’t recall specifically having a conversation with her about not talking to men or vice-versa, since she only just turned 4. Maybe she overheard something I mentioned to Asmaa or maybe she used her own deductive reasoning from our gatherings and interaction with men and women. Well, whatever it is…kids…they notice everything, don’t they?!

A Second Childhood

One of joys of motherhood for me is being given the opportunity me to re-live my childhood through my children. Of course in going through a 2nd childhood (as I like to call it *smiles*) albeit with a grown-up’s perspective, there are setbacks and advantages.

The setbacks though are obvious; years of life has taken its toll and I no longer look at things with a purity and innocence that only a true child is blessed with. But Alhamdulillah my children are my reminders. At times their innocence is amazing, sometimes genuinely amusing and at other times truly humbling; for the simplest words they utter could be packed with so much truth and wisdom. Which is a reminder that at these times I should really be taking down notes!

Another setback is that my need to maintain my credibility as a grown-up has at times stopped me short from being totally and abadonedly childish and silly…well, at least when there’s another grown-up within visible or hearing range. (he,he).

But there are advantages to being a child in adult shoes! It’s like being given another chance to correct the things that I’ve always disliked about my own childhood, being able to do the stuff that I’ve always wanted to do as a child but never got a chance to or simply gaining new childhood experiences;

– like being discerning enough to choose good children’s books for our reading pleasure. I must admit that although I loved to read as a child my reading list is something I would not readily pass on to my children. (more on this topic later, insha-Allah)

– learning tricks I wasn’t able to learn as a child. One of them was to “pump” when I was on the swings, hence I would always need someone to push me. We had learnt in theory how to pump from one of my daughter’s books, and my daughter was able to go real high on the swings all by herself. As for me, before we moved I couldn’t fully “pump” due to reasons of modesty, but now there’s a playground with swings near our new home facing an open field and I’m able to swing to my heart’s content. So this is currently my favourite spot. (smiles).

– learning and loving Science all over again. I realise that like myself, all children are born with a natural love and fascination for the world that Allah has created. As a child, I had always been interested in nature and science, but my interest in science as a subject quickly waned due to the methodical and unimaginative approach taught in secular schools, totally devoid of any connections with the Creator. I strongly feel that Science can only be truly appreciated in the light of Qur’anic verses and insha-Allah this is what I am trying to incorporate into our Science lessons and masha-Allah so far it has been very rewarding; mostly for me!

– Appreciating small discoveries. Yes, their discoveries are my discoveries. A few days ago I was observing my 1 year old son playing in our common backyard. He was fascinated by a dead leaf that was on the sidewalk and went up to it for a closer inspection. When the wind blew he would be sure to step aside, so he’d be out of the leaf’s way. I discovered much to my amusement that to him, it must have seemed like the leaf was alive and moving on its own! And you should have seen the way he was inspecting the leaf, it was simply too cute! He would bend down and place his hands on the ground (much like his sujood position, except with knees and head not touching the ground) and the whole time he was inspecting the leaf he never once touched it (for fear that it’d move I guess). Ha, ha it was just so endearing and cute!

Aaahhh, the wonders of motherhood….or should I say childhood? (smiles)

(PS. This was written slightly less than a year ago…)

Quiet Times

Quiet times; precious and rare indeed in a house full of kids!

After years of living with babies and kids, I have learnt to truly appreciate the value of time; quiet time that is, for the well-being of my heart and mind. Though one may not realise it, we are all in need of that quiet time, a quiet space at a certain point in our daily life to maintain our sanity. Actually it was through reading a children’s book, “The Day of Ahmed’s Secret” that I was reminded of its importance. Of course the writer was a non-Muslim so he missed the most crucial part; ie. quiet times in remembering and connecting with our Creator. “…verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” ( Al-Qur’an Surah Ar-R’ad:28 )

And the beauty of Islam is that Allah, our Creator knows what we need more than us and has graciously granted us ways to achieve these quiet times; ie through our obligatory salah or extra acts of ‘ibadah like dhikr, reading Qur’an etc.

I remember the times during my single days when I would sit and wait for the adhan on the radio (they usually played nasheed close to salah times) and prayed right after. These were my quiet moments and needless to say it was easier to concentrate on salah since there were hardly any distractions or disturbances.

But then marriage and children happened. I remember when I had my 1st baby and for the first time in my life had to experience praying while my baby wailed and wailed away and thereafer scenes like that were not uncommon in our household till this very moment. (smiles). Of course, through experience I have learnt to adjust my prayers around my son’s crying routine, though I’ve yet to be consecutively successful (smiles).

I’ve also learnt that it’s healthy for me to have time alone all by myself, it doesn’t have to be long, even an hour a week is enough, but there should be absolutely no disturbances and I would be free to do whatever I wish. The only options for me right now would be the times my husband would take the children out or for me to go to the masjid and spend some time there all by myself. Alhamdulillah the masjid where we’re at now is a comfortable 20 minute walk away. And yes quiet walks are also included in my list of quiet times and I do enjoy nature walks (smiles).

Interestingly enough, the rare times when I’ve been all alone by myself in the house, it didn’t take long for me to start missing my kids and it was always a joy to see them when they returned. So actually these short moments being away from them really help me to re-charge, rejuvenate and to appreciate being with them all the more. (smiles)

PS. This was written about a year ago, and alhamdulillah things are much better now and crying scenes like those are quite rare. Currently a new challenge awaits me; dealing with sibling rivalry! Nowadays, it seems that there’ll be some moments of relative silence and then a cry; “Mommy, he’s not sharing!” or something of the sort. But alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal, insha-Allah this too like every hardship will pass…(smiles) 

The Rewards of Motherhood

The Prophet salallahu `alayhi wa salam said, “…he who calls to guidance, receives the same reward as those who followed him, without diminishing anything from their rewards.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, all from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah]

The Prophet salallahu `alayhi wa salam also said, “He who established a good sunnah in Islam, he will have the reward of each who apply it after him until the Day of Judgment.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]

I’ve always thought how wonderful it would be, if a person accepted Islam through my efforts or if I was given the opportunity to teach a new Muslimah the salah, certain actions from the sunnah, how to read Qur’an etc. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? ‘Cos it would mean that I would be able to reap the rewards from that person’s deeds, insha-Allah.

Yet I was oblivious to the fact that Allah had indeed granted me that opportunity, the opportunity to gain the rewards from the deeds of new Muslims…new muslims that I, myself had given birth to. It was not until I had my third child that I truly understood and appreciated the rewards that Allah has in store for mothers and for fathers too, insha-Allah.

I guess I had not seen it in that light ‘cos I had always looked upon my role as a mother from another pespective; that it was my duty and my responsibility to teach my children about Islam and to raise them to be practising Muslims and anything less would mean that I had not truly fulfilled my obligations as a mother.

But Alhamdulillah I think I now have a more balanced perspective of motherhood and just thinking about the potential rewards is enough to motivate me to be my children’s main Islamic teacher, well at least until they reach a stage when they would need to learn from someone more knowledgable than me.

Imagine….giving birth to a precious soul and it is through your efforts and nurturing that the child grows up being a Muslim. And every act of worship that the child does, be it salah, reading the Qur’an, or any action from the sunnah was taught by you. Masha-Allah…just imagine the rewards in store for that mother!

Baby Talk

Just some of the more amusing sayings of my two year old son; (smiles) 

Wa pee: Water please

Monkeem: Monkey

Ba-boom: Bathroom

Weep mommy: (I want to) sleep with mommy

Get on mommy lowder: (I want to) to get on mommy’s shoulder

And a new one I’ve taught him;

I love you loooowwww much: I love you soooooo much!