Tubing in Ruidoso

We had guests recently, our long time college friends and their 6 kids and we had a good time alhamdulillah.


Hubs pulling Z in the double tube after coming down the slope


Hubs and Z going back up the slopes on the elevator. Z LOVES tubing. He kept on going and by the time he was done, his eyes looked so tired.


Altitude puffed up the bag o’ chips.


Lanes 5,6,7 – 3 of the highest and fastest lanes to tube down in. Whee!!


Then we went Go-Kart-ing with our friends. I sat out on this one and worked on my hifdh page (much needed).

Z kept asking on the way back home that evening,

“Is this a trip? Why are we not staying in a hotel?”

On the way to Ruidoso, he kept asking,

“Is this a trip?”

Well, so far it looks like he is the only one who enjoys road trips! No wonder! He gets his own home made allergy free baked products, and he particularly loves staying at hotels! The older kids complain about the long hours of the road trip, and the hassle of packing, feeding Z in the van, getting stuff from the trunk, etc.

Categories: Family, Outdoor, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tucson, AZ & Productivity

008¬†We went to Tucson last week, tagging along with hubs for his conference. This time, for Z’s food, I asked hubs to just ask for a fridge in the room and so I just cooked food as I would if we were eating at home, froze them in small ziplocs and we brought our cooler and I put them in insulated lunch bags. By the time we reached the hotel room, they were still frozen so I just transferred them to the fridge. The ones in the insulated lunch bag stayed frozen the longest (since the fridge doesn’t have a freezer section). Hubs even asked for a microwave, which we used to heat up leftovers of Chef Alisah’s delicious food!172

We drove there Monday after S is done with her TQ class, and dropped by Whole Food for greens before going to the hotel. On Tuesday, all of us except the girls went to the pool, and they slid on the 180 feet water slide. S had her TQ and N didn’t want to come. That evening, we all went to this Bosnian restaurant, and it was our first time (not hubs) eating Bosnian food. It was a LOT of meat for us. It was supposed to be for 4, but for us carb-eating Malays, that was too much meat, so we took them home and put them in the fridge and they lasted us for the rest of our meals till we left on Thursday! Alhamdulillah. It was delicious though, the chicken was moist and flavorful and the meat, delish! For Z, we heated up his pasta and brought it with us and he ate it before our food reached the table.


S in her TQ class. It was nice to hear her class even while we’re traveling. And mine too! And this time, Nouman too!


I had brought along Z’s calendar notebook but only did it with him on one of the days, because by sticking to our regular schedule and taking them swimming and I had to make up my missed class on Thursday, it left little time for me to work with him. But at least we got something done, alhamdulillah. I foresaw January as being very tight for me, so whatever I am able to get done, I am grateful for, alhamdulillah.


Z loved getting on this golf cart. We were transported by it the night we arrived and the day we were checking out(since it was raining then).

On Wednesday, because I had class, hubs took the kids hiking in the late afternoon. I was left alone in the room attending my class. That morning, all the kids had classes, for N, throughout the morning, from 7 – 11 am. We still stuck with our Tafseer and Arabic With Husna routine throughout the stay in Tucson alhamdulillah. Though on Wednesday we weren’t able to finish watching CNNStudentNews.


We don’t have any saguaros in New Mexico, so you will only see these in Arizona.

On Wednesday and Thursdays, I took H and Z swimming and alhamdulillah, using the noodles, 3 of them wrapped around him front and back, Z used his feet and arms and swam a lot with H. H is able to swim pretty well from what I am able to assess, alhamdulillah. Z is still a little scared, though he could stand in the pool with his head above water, he refused and relied completely on the noodles keeping him afloat. But at least he swam a lot, and I hope it helps in making his upper body stronger as that is the focus in his occupational therapy.


On Thursday, before we left, we dropped by the Asian grocery store to shop and of course, where there are Asian grocery stores, there are Bubble Tea! I’ve been looking for tapioca balls and we finally found them at the Asian grocery store. So hopefully we can make our own bubble tea soon. When we arrived home Thursday night, Z kept saying he wanted to go back to Tucson and he kept asking for it the next day too and the next day. He loved watching the video clips I took of them swimming. We all enjoyed our time there alhamdulillah.

Now it’s back to work. Last night, the girls were asked to fill in for a sick teacher for Sunday school and today, both S and N went to the masjid to fill in as Islamic studies teachers. While S was preparing for it last night, she showed be the book they are using, and in it, it says that the fruits that Zakariya a.s. found with Maryam a.s. were brought in by the people and that when she said, “This is from Allah,” she meant that it was a blessing of Allah that those people brought her those fruits. This is the first time we heard of this interpretation, so it became a bit of an issue, and eventually we decided that it is best that when she does this passage with the students, that she inform them that based on what she is aware of, this is not the case. So on Saturday, all 3 kids went to volunteer at the soup kitchen, and today, the girls went to teach at Sunday school. They said the students were pretty well behaved alhamdulillah and listened to them! One of our concerns of having S teach was that they might not listen to her because some of the older ones would be close to her in age, but alhamdulillah they listened. And in Tajweed class, where an older Saudi sister is teaching, S was suddenly asked to translate ayatul kursi in English to the students, and alhamdulillah, as S had already done it in TQ, she was able to do that. Subhanallah, a blessing from Allah. To be able to read from the mushaf and translate it. Alhamdulilah, Allahu Akbar! It’s an indescribable feeling! Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah!

So alhamdulillah, it’s a productive weekend for the kids. H spent time playing basketball tonight with a boy, which is part of an effort to have my friend’s kids to like coming to the masjid inshaaAllah. May Allah bless the effort and give the taufeeq for our youth to be attached to the masjid. Ameen.




Categories: Al Huda Institute, Allergies, Community, Family, Homeschooling, HotelSchooling, Living Islam, Outdoor, Productivity, Soup Kitchen, Travel, Volunteer Masjid | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment


When we went to play tennis last Sunday, I collected some leaves for Z. When I showed it to him he was fascinated, at first, but he wasn’t as fascinated with it as I’d hoped. Still, I picked some at different stages of its losing its chlorophyll.

I was planning on sitting with Z and showing him how when the chlorophyll leaves the leaves, the green goes away and it turns brown.

Come to think of it though, he has been asking me,

“Is it going to be winter now?”

So at least I know he is at least aware of the seasons. With Z, I can’t really tell what he knows or what he understands as I did with the older kids. With his speech delay and some developmental delay, I don’t expect too much from him, so when he does show some understanding, it is a pleasant surprise.

Well, at least, if I put these photos on the blog, when he decides he is more interested in botany, maybe I can sit with him and talk about it. Right now, he’s exploring other things. I’ll leave him be. He looked excited when he was checking out the books I got for him at the library. You could clearly see the joy in his smile with each book that he scanned. I guess I never had the time to really observe the older kids like that when they were that age. Or even if I did, I have forgotten. With Z, it’s like I’ve been given a second chance, but in a different form. It’s different.

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Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Outdoor, Science, Z's learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Garden Discovery

We were on our way to go to the park for our tennis Sunday. I decided to check on my garden because it had rained very heavily the night before. As I looking at Thai Chilli plant and exclaiming over how so many leaves were literally gone, I realized something else. I had exclaimed,

“The winds must have blown all the leaves away!”

But as my vision zoomed in and out, I realized I was looking at something else and I screamed,

“Oh My GOD!”

We ended up being late for out tennis, because detaching those caterpillars from the leaves and stems wasn’t as easy as we theorized. They practically clung on for dear life, especially when we tried to nudge them off. Hubs put on his gloves and pried them off. N pried them off with sticks. But eventually they had all 4 caterpillars in glass jars; one for each child.

Today, we observed those caterpillars. N is the one who is the most smitten and obsessed with them caterpillars. In her Zoology Mammals class on Currclick, she has to make a project for a live presentation. While we were observing the caterpillar moving in the jar, I told her,

“Wow, if you’re taking a class on bugs, you could have captured this on video and use it for your presentation.”

She went out to check on them and found another tiny caterpillar crawling on our gravel front yard. Actually, yesterday, we tried to look for larvae on the plants but didn’t see any. We began to wonder if it’s the wind and rain that brought these bugs all of a sudden or what. Because the first one that they found had gone through its life cycle and suddenly we have these new generation of tomato hornworms again. So now we have 5 jars of caterpillars in a jar.

H is making a homemade terrarium for S’ tomato hornworm and it is becoming part of his Science project. S also started making her own terrarium and mashaAllah, they both came up with pretty neat cardboard caterpillar terrariums! They’re planning to transfer the hornworms to these larger shelters for when they’re ready to burrow and pupae.

H is still not done with his. He’s really taking his time in making this with precision.

how it looks from the other side


his blueprints


S’ version. She just wanted it done. I thought the elastic latch idea was neat! H claimed it was his idea when S showed me how this works. This is the top and the lid is kept closed by the rubber band.


When the rubber band is taken off, the lid can be opened.


How it looks like from the side. I love the base for some reason.




N was still exploring outside in the garden area and stumbled upon a white cockroach. I said,


She said,

“No, it’s the same size as the brown big one.”

“Hmm, albino then maybe,” I replied.

She googled and found out that that is what a cockcroach looks like when it just molted.


The small green inchworm has apparently spun its cocoon, and so this morning we saw this:

No, the photo is not blurry. See the whitish oval around the inchworm? We figure that’s its cocoon.


I figured that the garden is probably teeming with these critters now. So we went to investigate and found these:

N’s guess is that this is the hornworm egg. We checked out some books on caterpillars, butterflies, moths and it seems like this might indeed be the tomato hornworm egg!


We also found this. Have no idea what this is!


The girls are obsessed with these caterpillars. N would check on them to such a point that her math, essays, work are not done on time. S would check on these too. Last night, these caterpillars pooped and their droppings look like tiny blackberries. It’s pretty gross actually. The girls scooped them out so the caterpillar won’t be wallowing in its own filth. They started feeding them our rotting tomatoes too.

See the ‘blackberry’ poop by the lower curve of the caterpillar’s body?

When N first got this tomato hornworm off my Thai Chilli plant. It was still clinging on to the stem!

I told N to make a chart and note down when she feeds them, when they poop, and basically keep a log of observation of these tomato hornworms and the inchworm. I doubt she would be diligent in keeping track of her chart though. Unfortunately, they’re not that big on data collecting. I suppose it becomes a chore when they do that. If I were to insist they do this, I’d have to keep a tab on them. Argh. One more thing for me to remind them about…again and again and again and again. Seriously, I am losing my voice today and today is the day when I had to repeat myself SO many times! I felt like screaming, which I can’t do anyway because my voice box won’t accommodate any high pitch sound production. I had to recite my surah in a manly tone.



Categories: Animals, Gardening, Homeschooling, Outdoor, Project, Science | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Harvest!

Yesterday, on our Quran party day, we also harvested some carrots and cherry tomatoes from our tiny container garden! It reminds me of why I loved hanging out in my father’s orchard in the early mornings when I was growing up. It was a time when the morning dews are still glistening on the banana tree leaves, ready to roll off the smooth surface and fall with a fat plop onto the ground. The green grass was still deliciously wet with dew, making my flip flopped feet(back home, flip flops are wet market attire, but here it’s the ‘in’ thing, which makes me laugh. Amazing how something that is considered the most low standard footwear in one place is considered fashionable in another part of the world!) wet and cool. I loved it when we were living in Kajang, where I spent a lot of time imagining myself a ninja while running around and weaving through the tapioca trees by the man-made fish pond my father liked to fish from. We had fresh fried fish every now and then. There was also a man-dug well, half of which my father enclosed and turned into an ‘outhouse’. The other half, he left open so we could use the water for our kitchen needs. He also slaughtered our own chickens and I remember the headless chickens running around for a bit before completely dying. My grandmother would then dip them in boiling water and pluck the feathers. All tasks such as cleaning fish guts, cleaning slaughtered chickens, cleaning squids and prawns are done in our outdoor kitchen. The indoor kitchen is for cleaner stuff. There was a time where I also kept a baby cobra in a jar for a while before my father turned it loose. That was also when I was introduced to keeping a butterfly jar where I would pick the monarch caterpillars from our lime trees and put them in empty jam jars and feed them till they pupa-ed and turned into beautiful black and orange monarchs!

I think that is the most meaningful part of my childhood. The rest of them I spent in the concrete city of Kuala Lumpur where I would spend my time reading Enid Blyton books and imagining our closets to have secret trapdoors that lead to secret tunnels and such. Imagination and books have always been my closest friend back then.

Suffice it to say, I do love being out in nature, not necessarily to be physically active (like my husband and children (some of them) do) but just to sit, smell the flowers, scrutinize the details, and revel in the beauty of it all. I am happy that the older kids had that in their childhood when we were in Columbus, but I feel somewhat bad for Z because here in the desert, he can’t really just go out and play. We have a xeriscape yard too, so that doesn’t help. But with this little garden, at least he has a smidgeon of an experience hopefully. I love watching his delight at pulling out the carrots!


Z pulling out the carrots. We had gone out to check on it while he was in the shower. So we waited for him to be done so he could do the honor of pulling out those carrots, since we planted them because he was reading The Carrot Seed and this guy has been waiting forever to pull those carrots out!

N found this insect at the okra plant


another insect


Inside, I showed Z this book, which is a very good book to learn about roots! He took it and showed it to his sisters.


Z took this photo. I had returned this book to the library today before having a chance to take more photos of it, but apparently, Z had done some clicking!


The book : What Do Roots Do? by Kathleen V. Kudlinski




Categories: Activities - Ages 5-8, Books, Gardening, Outdoor | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments


a grub the kids unearthed when they were working the soil in the pots

I didn’t want to start a garden this year, because last year, I completely abandoned my flowers, so I didn’t want to torture them anymore. But the kids wanted a vegetable garden. Plus, Z had been reading The Carrot Seed, so I gave in when they said they want to have a garden this year, but not a lame flower garden that you can’t do anything with. (Well)

So we bought some carrot seeds, and planted them. Our old pots were still sitting around with the soil in them, soil that had dried out. I bought new potting soil and we just added it to the old soil and worked them out with water and a trowel.

It was nice to see Z getting to do this. The older kids grew up gardening too when we were in Colz, and it’s one thing I want them to experience at that age. I wish we have ground that we can directly garden in though, but oh well. Alhamdulillah for the pots.

I had told the kids I didn’t want a garden because I don’t think I can take care of it this year, seeing as how I abandoned it last year. But N and H persisted in saying they can take care of it, and that they will water the plants.

Well, they have and they haven’t. I’ve been the one eager to check on the chilli plants and the okra, and eggplant. I also replanted my lemongrass. We had gone to Dallas at the end of June, and we were gone for a weekend. I was fretting about how to have the plants watered while we were gone. Hubs took the pots to the masjid because they have an automatic sprinkler. But when we came back and got them back, some of my lemongrass stalks were gone. I was thinking it might be the young kids. Can’t explain it otherwise. But Alhamdulillah, we still have 3 left. I have planted maybe like 5-6 stalks.

the carrot seeds

sowing the seeds…many hands make work light


The plants are growing quite well alhamdulillah. Everytime I go to check on them, I remind myself subhanallah, that it’s Allah who is nourishing and nurturing these plants to grow. Gardeners usually take pride in their gardens and attribute it to their care and attention to the plants, but really, it’s Allah. There are a couple of times where it rained and I was thinking,

“Oh Alhamdulilah, we don’t have to water the plants today.”

And whether they get infested by bugs or not, is also up to Allah. That is one thing I don’t like about caring for plants; that they get diseases I don’t know how to handle. In the first year I planted chillies, but they were infested with diseases and then I just gave up trying anymore and resorted to flowers. But this year so far, the plants seem to be thriving. Alhamdulillah.

the carrot seeds emerged.

the carrot seeds now


I don’t actually know when we could pull up the carrots, but I’m guessing they would be tiny because we kind of crowded the pots but planted all the seeds.

N’s tomato plant

N’s tomato plant now


Okra from the farmer’s market along with the tomato, chillies and eggplant

the okra seedling now



eggplant seedling

the egglant seedling now, though it still had that one weak leaf that I just removed this morning


Thai Chilli



the Chilli plants now, a lot of flowers now


my lemongrass before some were gone

our vegetable garden in May/June

our vegetable garden now


After we came back from Dallas and got the pots back from the masjid, the kids were looking at the plants when they found a huge hideous caterpillar. I’m not exaggerating. It was HUGE! S and N were then waiting for Jn to pick them for their volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of LC, and I heard screams and then they barged inside the house. We ended up finding a huge jar and before they left they dropped the huge caterpillar in it. Then they filled it with soil.

the kids filled a big plastic jar with soil and placed the Tomato Hornworm they found in it and covered it with plastic wrap and secured it. Reminds me of my childhood when I used to ‘raise’ Monarch in glass jars.

When they googled, it was a Tomato Hornworm, which they aptly found at N’s tomato plant. Good thing they caught it. Subhaanallah, think about it, Allah had decreed that they find it, so that the tomato plant can thrive. It apparently is a pest for tomato plants. The kids then researched it and the jar sat in the sunroom for the longest time. When I saw them covering it with the cloth, I asked why. They said that it needs darkness. It had apparently turned to the pupa stage subhanallah. Maybe that was why it was so fat.

Feeding the Tomato Hornworm, leaves from N’s tomato plant

This morning, at suhoor, I was checking out the house because of a certain smell I woke up to. I went to the sunroom and heard a fluttering sound. It came from the jar. The pupa had finally turned into a moth, after a month. S was even going to dump it out because she thought it was dead. Subhanallah, so N took some photos of it today. We haven’t released it yet though, because we wanted to release it as far away from our house as possible so it wouldn’t harm the tomato plant, or lay eggs there.



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Days of Our Lives 2 :- Morning Exercises

Well, I asked H to research free photo sharing resources and he told me,

“Make another blog.”

I never thought of that.

So here I am, with an offshoot of Days of Our Lives. I have reached my limit in photo capacity with it and I need more free space. This H’s proposed solution. Hence the birth of Days of Our Lives 2.

So, with photos, I can somewhat recall what we did in the past two months inshaAllah.

When summer started and school was out, we frequented the school playground behind our house, and played basketball, frisbee, badminton. After fajr, before it got too hot, we would go with our water canteens, and balls. Usually no one was there, so it was really nice. We could make all the noise we wanted to make, which I did.

When we played basketball, it was 2 on 2, and whenever we played it was always hilarious. Either they were laughing at me, or we were laughing at each other. It was fun. Z on the other hand occupied himself with digging the ground. He tossed the frisbee a couple of times but other than that, he didn’t run around much. Maybe because he couldn’t really play with us, but when we offered him, he refused. These were also the times when I would make heart breakfast for us: brown rice, quinoa. And so, I would cook the brown rice or quinoa while they got ready and when it was ready, we would go to the playground and when we got home there was a hearty breakfast to eat.

Since we’re usually rushing to go before it got too hot, Z would not have had his breakfast. This was on a day where we brought his breakfast. At the playground, we put it on the ground. Ants immediately flocked to it.

On a Memorial day, where hubs was off work, we went to the playground and a bit later, hubs joined us. We also came home to a freshly cooked meal of quinoa.

However, as I mentioned in the post in the old blog, once summer programs for the kids started, we stopped going, and now it’s Ramadan. But this was really fun while it lasted. Once school starts again, we won’t be able to do this anymore.

the basketball court and playground






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