Thoughts

Week 2 : Quran and Prayer

On Thursday, I managed to cover the lines Z would read of his ABATA, so he read 6 lines, 2 for each day. I also noticed he had about 2+ pages to finish book 4, and so I told him,

“You’ll finish book 4 soon inshaaAllah!”

I even counted the lines and predicted that he would finish it in two weeks inshaaAllah.

“Then you can go to book 5 and then 6 and then read Quran! S, N and H read Quran when they were your age! You remember the video of N reading Quran?”

His eyes lit up and as the memory of that video clicked in his mind, he nodded enthusiastically. He seemed excited. I even asked him,

“Do you want to read the big Quran or the small one?”

“The small one.”

Hmm…I guess he’s used to using my mushaf when doing his surah. I personally prefer him to use th big ones though, and so I opened the big one and showed it to him, saying,

“See, this is bigger and easier to read!”

“No, I want to read the small one.”

Well, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

As he is turning 7 soon inshaaAllah, I will ask him to choose between Zuhr and Asr, which one he wants to commit to. This was how I introduced salat to the older kids. When S turned 7, I asked her to choose between zuhr and asr, and whatever she chose, she will have comitted to it even if she is sick, which is a good practical lesson in how to make salat when you are sick and best of all, it teaches them commitment. I like this method so far, because it is gradual and they learn to commit to one salat at a time and not all 5, and they learn to hopefully perfect it, learn what to recite in the different positions, know the details of the salat they are committing to, before adding the next one, in about a few months. By the time they turn 10 inshaaAllah, they would then committed to all 5 salawaat. With the older kids, it worked. While we were traveling, they also still had to pray and so they learned how to pray when traveling.

With Z, I’m focusing or have been focusing on him perfecting each position and he has perfected the iftiraash, and tawarru3, and his sujud and ruku and even getting up from ruku and going into sujud. Soon, I plan to introduce him to what to say in ruku and sujud. Short ones and then hopefully, by April, he would have at least know how to pray with the pillars. Tashahud usually comes in a bit later.

We had gone to Dallas, and I had talked with a sister who took Dream and her two teenagers, age 17 and 15 are now TA for the Dream program mashaaAllah! On the drive home, hubs and I talked about the possibility of signing up S for the sisters public speaking workshop with Qalam Institute, and H for the Dream program, whether we move there or not. I really hope we can attend S’ graduation this June …inshaaAllah!

I also have to start calling the local CC asking about what is needed for S to enroll. She will inshaaAllah finish AlHuda this June and then she will plunge full force into finishing her high school. May Allah make it easy ameen! As for N, it seems that I need to work very closely with her all the way and make sure she’s on top of her work. I don’t like doing this, but what can I do? May Allah make it easy ameen!

I also have full hope that inshaaAllah with our regular post fajr session on Ustadh Nouman’s Tafseer and Arabic with Hosna, that we would really benefit from it. There were times when I was about to give up because I felt like despite us doing it every day and regularly, it wasn’t entering our hearts. But as I asked the kids survey questions, I sensed that those tafseer sessions do help. And it made me feel like haa..shaytaan is working to get us off that track maybe, making me feel hopeless. So the thing to do is to just keep doing it and make crazy dua Allah puts barakah in it. For Hosna, I really do hope we get ouf ot it what he Dream students get out of Dream, except I still do want to attend Dream or the part time one, and send H to the full time one. InshaaAllah.

I wish I can do Arabic with Z. I am VERY poor at doing this with the kids when they’re young. Seriously. If I master Arabic myself, maybe, but the reality is, I don’t. Argh. I’m very bad at trying it since even with Malay, we’ve been very bad with speaking it with the kids, even though we have a second chance with Z since he is still young. My God. May Allah make it easy, Ameen.

I have yet to sit down with N and come up with her hifdh revision schedule. May Allah make it easy ameen!

S is back volunteering teaching at Sunday school. Her horse therapy volunteer sessions hasn’t resumed yet so far. And our girls youth halaqa has been going on strong alhamdulillah. I plan to have S fully handle a few sessions on her own with my supervision inshaaAllah.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Al Huda Institute, Arabic, Bayyinah Institute, Community, High School, Homeschooling, Islamic Studies, Learning Challenges, Living Islam, Prayer/salat, Qalam Institute, Quran, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Thoughts, Volunteer Masjid, Youth Girls halaqa | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 3 : Mon-Wed

Monday :-

 

So, I’ve been pushing myself to do the long & short vowels with Z. I tried it last year but he didn’t seem ready so I left it alone. Today, we did U (using the file folder game) and E (spring Peeps) again. I think he’s getting the hang of it inshaaAllah. We also did the Five Senses yesterday using Umm Nu’man’ Five Senses pack. I looked for book on the five senses at the library today. I expected to get better books. The calendar notebook actually provides a good coverage of areas from penmanship to telling time. I can gauge what he needs more work on just from doing the calendar notebook everyday. He needs work on Place Values. He’s good at telling time mashaaAllah and even with coins. Maybe he will be ready to work with dollars and coins soon. I’m thinking that we may continue with the calendar notebook while including harder activities as he progresses into higher grades inshaaAllah. It’s a nice all-in-one ‘documentation’ of his progress in a way. I love the file folder games because we can do it again and again and if he doesn’t know the material, it’s a nice teaching introduction and we can always revisit it. I also started thinking today that we will probably do addition everyday until he gets proficient at mental addition and then move on from there. The file folder games help with this too. I noticed that when he plays addition games online, he is a little slow. So my hope is that if he is proficient at it mentally, it will encourage him to practice it online too and he would then be more willing to play those math games online. Right now, I sense a lot of avoidance on his part on games that he finds hard because his skills are not there yet. He’s unwilling to develop those skills online. So we’ll have to do that offline.

 

Tuesday:-

I had limited time today but I think we did quality stuff inshaaAllah. He did his calendar and everytime he does the place value, he always puts the amount of the number in the ones place, so I continue to ask him to represent that number with the ten rods and ones cubes, and point out that the ones cubes are only (however many they are for that number). We also did the prepositions in Arabic today, managed to squeeze that in before I had to get ready to go to my Dr appointment.

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After I came back, he came to the door with ‘The Little Red Hen’ that we had checked out from the library. When I was leaving the house, he was sitting on the couch poring over the library books we had checked out and I’m guessing that by the time I came home, he was dying to have me read them.

“Read this, this and this!” he said. I hadn’t even gotten my shoes off yet!

So I read The Little Red Hen and remembered to speak out loud my own reactions to the story so that he will learn to do this too (future journaling while reading a piece of literature). He asked me to read Cork and Fuzz (he LOVES these books) and we made a deal that he would read some pages and I would read the rest. He doesn’t like to read aloud, but with that arrangement, he did. I tried to gauge if he understands what he’s reading. Pleasantly surprising, he does! His phonetic skills could use some work in some words (understandably so), but his comprehension seems good. ALhamdulillah! I even asked him some inference question (why was Fuzz sniffling and sad?) and he said,

“Because the chip-mouse was mad.”

Then I asked, “Why did Fuzz kept saying ‘But…but..but’?”

He said, “Because he can’t swim.”

He remembered from the other books of this series the differences between Cork and Fuzz. Alhamdulillah. I’m so happy with this, as I always worried about his comprehension despite him being able to read (decode and decipher). Allahu Akbar! I’ve been making dua that teaching him be made easy and that learning for him is enjoyable and easy and for Allah to put barakah in it, because seriously, my time it quite limited due to the learning and teaching I am doing right now. So, in order that I would be able to serve Allah in these other ways, may Allah put barakah in my time with Z. Ameen! One thing I’ve learned :- nothing is impossible for Allah. Just ask. Even if it sounds impossible and absurd and illogical.

N is supposed to interview an adult for her writing assignment for Home2Teach. I suggested Dy and emailed her and she said yes. This is good in that it will give N experience in interviewing an actual person and give her that much more experience in writing different kinds of writings. I love Home2Teach so far. H is doing great too!

So far, I’m still checking their essays for Literature, and so far they are sticking to the schedule.  Alhamdulillah. One thing they may need tangible daily reminders for is updating their high school documentation forms on Google Docs that I had made for them.

Hubs had told H to create a Linkedin account and today, I suggested he start studying to take AP courses since he’s quite ahead in Math right now on top of skipping a grade. Hubs also suggested he take MOOC classes and add those to his LinkedIn as he foresees MOOC courses being important in college application in the future.

I realized alhamdulillah that Revved for Ramadandid benefit H and N. I was stressed out all Ramadan because I saw them sitting and attending but not paying attention. I know. The class was Mon-Thur, 2+ hours each day, and went through the whole Ramadan. I would have loved it if we have something in the community for the youth, but as it was, there weren’t, so online was our salvation. I’ve heard N and H refer to ‘Wisam said’ more than once now. Apparently, some things did stick and made an imprint in their hearts from what was taught in Revved for Ramadan. Alhamdulillah.

I was talking about the Syrian boy whose hair turned grey from stress, and mentioned about the Prophet saw’s hair turning grey when Surah Hud was revealed. S added that she covered that today in class. Then H and N also added that and what they learned from Revved. H said that it’s surah Hud and Yunus and all the sister surahs because they all contained somewhat the same message.

I guess, I have to settle with the benefit of attending course whether online or onsite being small but impactful and long lasting rather than high in quantity but low in quality. That’s probably how the reality is anyway. Alhamdulillah. I kept asking Allah to make it benefit and for the whole Ramadan I didn’t see any sign of them benefiting from it. Subhanallah…hastiness is one of our weaknesses. it certainly is mine. Being a mother, you want the best for your child, and it’s just hard to not see it. I just have to increase in my tawakul and patience inshaaAllah.

S has taken Abnormal Psychology with Coursera last semester. She claimed it was hard, but I think she is being perfectionist. She is overly anxious about being able to cope with the burden of college work. I truly beliece she can because she has the discipline. But I think the perfectionism may be part of the cause of her anxiety.

Just yesterday, N and I were talking about creating some file folder games for Z. I told her, “I think you’d love to be a preschool or kindergarten teacher! Because you love kids.” She said, “Well, I already want to be a writer.” “You can do both.”

for Arabic with Husna, we’re now in Sarf, specifically Sarf Sagheer and Sarf Kabeer. I’m enjoying it. Since H already learned this with hubs for quite some time, it’s just N and me who need the practice. So far so good. I find memorizing Sarf to be harder than memorizing Quran. Sarf is like a tongue twister to me.

 

Wednesday:-

Today is my busiest day what with a doctor appointment for Z. But alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, we got in some quality work. At least I’d like to think it’s quality work. Z did his calendar notebook as usual. He’s getting  better at place value, but I just noticed that his coin counting is not quite mastered. So far, he’s been doing it on his own based on the previous day’s count, but he can’t count by 10s and then switch to by 5s and then switch to by 1s. So that’s something to work on inshaaAllah.

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We worked on the Arabic prepositions using the file folder game I created from UmmSara’s post. We only started using it yesterday because he wanted to try something new. But today, when I took the file out, he said, “I don’t want to do that.” Again, see how he is avoiding anything that might cause him failure. But we did it anyway. I noticed that he had some trouble picking up the Arabic words and putting them in line with the English meaning. After we did the matching pages, I showed him the prepositions in Arabic and English equivalents. Then, because we ended up on that page that tells me to play a game with it, Ii told Z to look for a toy house and a toy mouse. Because I didn’t want to make and cut and color a mouse. So we found S’ barn and the horses in it. We pretended the barn was a house, because I don’t know what a barn is in Arabic and too lazy to look it up. I never liked teaching Arabic to the kids because of this limitation in my own mastery of it. And no, it hasn’t really motivated me to learn Arabic. The only thing that motivates me to learn Arabic is to understand the Quran and appreciate its beauty and meaning. For conversing, writing, reading…err…not really.

Anyway, we did a few rounds of this, and he loved it. I was thinking I probably need to use these vocab in our daily life and now I remember this is another reason why I stayed away from teaching Arabic to the kids! It’s hard enough remembering to speak Malay (my own native tongue) to the kids, let alone a foreign language that I don’t master! I’m just not a foreign language learner. I consider English like a first language actually, even though my kids would vehemently disagree.

I also told him we will do some addition practice. He didn’t want to do it, so I said,

“If you get really good and fast at this, you can play many games on the computer that has addition!”

He perked up. And cooperated. And so we did 2 ladybug addition placemats, Alhamdulilah!

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I also finished up the Pizza Activity Pack worksheets, and this particular one deals with letter tiles and manipulating the letters. I told him to get Scrabble, and we did the worksheet, but he didn’t use the letter tiles, he just did it mentally and finished the worksheet quickly on his own. I pointed out to him also that the ending sound is what makes words rhyme. Not sure if truly grasped it …yet.

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S’ horse volunteer business is I hope, working out. The lady emailed me saying she wants to meet personally with S to talk and see how mature she is and that volunteering with her for kids under 18 will be on an individual basis. So I hope this works out inshaaAllah.

As for H, he’s been dilligently weeding the backyard mashaaAllah despite allergic reactions. He’s cleared a lot of it. It looks like REALLY hard work. It keeps raining too (ALHAMDULILAH) and he said, “Oh no, the weeds are going to grow again.” Allahumma Sayyibann Naafi3a. Ameen.

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I updated the older kids’ homeschooling individual course documentation forms on Google Doc on Tuesday. I told them to add a reminder to update it every day. I can actually check that they did because I have to initial ‘Work Done’. This time, for N and H, I feel much better about the high school documentation because I learned a lot from mistakes for S.

Categories: Activities - Ages 10 and up, AP Courses, College, Grade 1, High School, MOOC Courses, Ramadan, Thoughts, Z's learning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ramadan 1434

Subhanallah…my last post was in June and now it’s already August. I have been abandoning this blog. Am just struggling with responsibilities and commitments on my plate.  This Ramadan is different. To start with, in the month approaching it, I wasn’t really prepared for it in the sense that I had plunged into a project that took me out of the house 3 days a week, lugging the kids with me some of the times and rushing too. It was hectic.

However alhamdulillah, I did get a repriece about a week or so before Ramadan to do my usual pre-Ramadan planning. But I think maybe that my frame of mind wasn’t prepped up and so when Ramadan did roll around, I was out of sort. Really out of sort.

S continued with her Taleem all the way till the last 10 days. So she basically still had class in the mornings till 1:30 pm Mon-Thur. I pleaded with hubs ti enroll N and H in Wisam’s Revved for Ramadan, because I was really overwhelmed and didn’t think I could do anything with them this Ramadan like I have been doing for the past 13+ years. I’m getting old. Even for Z, it was a last minute set up Ramadan activity prep. I decided to do the names of Allah with him and the Quran Prophet stories mazes. But even then, I didn’t really manage to do it consistently with him. Subhanallah…I think….having kids that far apart, is challenging for me. The 3 older kids have different needs and Z has different needs. I’m finding myself really exhausted having to repeat what I did with the older kids when they’re at Z’s age right now. I know that sounds like a cop out, but to be honest, I’m also ready to move on subhanallah. So I think you can kind of guess what my Ramadan dua is centered around based on that.

The girls helped make the set up for Z’s Ramadan prep. S wrote the names of Allah in Arabic, 30 of them, 1 for each day, and N wrote it in English, then they rolled up the papers tightly into tiny scrolls and inserted them into a balloon and blew them up. Hubs insisted on buying balloons at the Dollar store, so as the girls blew up the balloons and hung them at our staircase, we heard them popping one by one. If they didn’t pop, they would shrink. Hmpph..cheap balloons! What a waste of $1!

So we went and bought balloons at Wal Mart, supposedly better quality. I don’t know, and it’s saddening (for Z’s sake) but they all shrunk. Some popped (not as much as the Dollar store balloons) but all of them shrunk. So they all look like colorful hanging cow udders in our living room. Sigh. Poor Z. Last year, I did the Ramadan chain for him in Ramadan. This year, it’s the balloons, but it turned out this way. I think maybe it’s the New Mexico dry desert heat or something? It’s just weird. We did this in Ohio and none of the balloons shrunk or even popped !

So I have been doing the names of Allah with Z, everyday till recently when he got sick and N also got sick and we forgot to take down the balloons. As for the maze, oh forget it, I keep forgetting to do it with him too.  I think maybe I have trouble managing my personal schedule and the kids’. Subhanallah….maybe I set too high of goals for myself this Ramadan that I actually grew depressed when I couldn’t meet them in the middle. Alhamdulillah Allah granted me the tawfeeq for hope and bounced back towards the end alhamdulillah. All those lectures helped alhamdulillah.

Z did finish memorizing surah al Maun though, and we also resumed his Calendar notebook. I just feel lousy with his schedule really. I feel like such a bad homeschooling mom. The older kids will all be doing high school work this fall inshaaAllah. Just yesterday, we were going over their weekly schedule next semester. i really pray they all are trustworthy and responsible enough to stick to their schedule without needing me to hover over their shoulders and nag them. I am really really tired of doing that subhanallah. It’s my highest source of stress on a daily basis. There were days when I feel like just leaving them on their own and letting them suffer the consequences, but then I think,

“Oh great, if they suffer, what’s going to also suffer is our finances since we paid for those classes, and it doesn’t just involve them, but also the teachers they are working with!”

This is why I feel that if I send them to school, it will be even MORE stressful! I can just imagine the teacher calling me for one of them in particular,

“Mrs. H, we need to talk. __ hasn’t been sending in his/her assignments on time. …”

and I’m pretty sure I’ll still need to either do the assignment with that child or make sure the child does it and I’m just going to be even more irritated because it’s under the jurisdiction of another authority figure. So, never mind. You’d think that sending them to school would make it easier for me. No. It won’t. On the contrary.

N and H went for therapy throughout the summer and alhamdulillah both have made good progress with their individual problems. N is to continue in fall inshaaAllah. I’m amending our weekly schedule. Library day will no longer be Tuesdays but will change to either Friday or Thursday. N and H’s Tuesdays will be tight tight tight.

This fall, this is their schedule: All classes are online.

S :

  • Mon- Thur : 6:30 am – 1:30 pm – Live class Taleem Quran
  • Wed : 11 am – Live class Ancient Egypt
  • Will continue English 11 using the Bedford Reader

N & H

Mon : Home2Teach class –

  • Descriptive Writing (H) 10 am,
  • Narrative Writing (N) 9 am

Tue :

  • 8-9:30 am Live class Biology
  • 10:30-11:30 am Live class 20th Century History
  • 12-12:45 pm Live class HomeBookStudy Literature

Wed:

  • 9:15 -10:15 am Live class Interior Design
  • 11 am -12 pm Live class Ancient Egypt

Thur:

  • 3-4 pm: N’s Therapy on campus

Fri:

  • 8:50 – 9:10 am N’s Hifdh on Skype

 

I have yet to schedule in our post fajr tafseer and Arabic with Husna sessions.

For Z, my rough plan is to focus on handwriting Roman letters, Arabic, Math, Reading comprehension, hifdh, IQRA Quranic reading. He’s no longer going for speech therapy because hubs doesn’t want to pay the co pay after we no longer have one of his insurances. I also would like for him to be a part of a soccer team just so he gets that kind of social interaction, but hubs is not willing to spend the week taking him to practice and games. I told him we’re too old for this. Sigh. Subhanallah. If hubs doesn’t want to do that, I’m going to have to enroll Z in the Gym magic Gym program then. He needs something like that. It’s his rights on us parents.

We will continue using the calendar notebook since I feel that doing it daily helps reinforce some concepts in math for him, like telling time (to the minute), skip counting by 5s, number equations, odd, even, place values, greater than, lesser than, money. So it’s pretty good and comprehensive alhamdulillah. In fact, I feel he’s pretty good at math so far. I’m worried about his reading comprehension, even though he can read, I don’t think his comprehension is that high. The therapists keep telling me that he’s advanced for his age, but I don’t really buy it because New Mexico has literacy problems, so I’m not going to base my standard on that. He’s also been taking the older kids’ poster boards that they made in the past years and he’s been asking me,

“I want to do this too!”

I just feel somewhat depressed that I no longer have the energy nor will to do these kind of things with him like I did with the older kids subhanallah. May Allah give me the tawfeeq. Ameen.

I used to do things from scratch with the older kids, but with Z now, I’m looking for pre-made templates that others have prepared. What a change subhanallah. The good thing is though….there are a LOT of resources out there made by wonderful amazing energetic homeschooling moms! I do feel ancient subhanallah! My prime years have gone by.  I keep asking Allah to make it easy for me with all other things I’m doing, that Z becomes quick learner. So far, so good alhamdulillah. I also remember Sr Taimiyyah Zubayr saying that at times, we mothers are haunted by the thought that if we don’t stay with our child all day every day, tending to him dilligently, the child won’t learn. But in truth, it’s Allah who nurtures this child, Allah is the rabb, and He is the One who gives this child the knowledge, and the means for that knowledge etc. We mothers should do what we can do, and if we are also serving the community, we shouldn’t let this thought stop us from contributing to the community. So there are times when I’m stuck in a rut, in a dilemma and turning to Allah for guidance. At the end of it, it really is a matter of better time management on my part and sacrificing some things. For sure, some things that have been sacrificed is food. I haven’t been enthusiastic in cooking and I haven’t baked for ages. The older kids are doing most of cooking and even chicken cleaning and cutting. Alhamdulillah. They do somewhat complain that I haven’t been providing elaborate meals. Some of the things they mention, they don’t even remember that I have made them before when they were younger. They do blame it on Z though. it is part of the reason, due to his allergies, I figure it’s too stressful to cook/bake some things that has stuff he can’t eat because then I’d be cooking/baking 2 separate things. It has really taken a toll on me so I now cook anything that is edible. What can I do? I’m only one person.  The thing that does hurt me a bit is that there is a kind of ingratitude in the older kids in this. They forgot what I have done in the past, and they focus on what I don’t do. Then they take on the task themselves, and deem me as not doing anything. May Allah guide them to gratitude. May Allah guide ME to gratitude! Ameen.

May Allah help me achieve a good and proper balance in fulfilling others’ rights upon me. Ameen. There are days when I feel so depressed and stressed out, and the only thing that consoles me is the Quran and Allah. Parenthood…is really…something. Different when the kids are young and equally different and unique when the kids are teens. Indeed. I’ve even relegated each set of 2 taraweeh rakaat for each child in an 8 rakaat taraweeh.

H has been leading the tahajud qiyaam during these last 10 nights, and we realize that subhaanallah…he really needs a good stable teacher…and appropriate supportive company. No one else here is doing what he is doing and so he’s been doing this for years on his own. I’m guessing it takes a toll somewhat one way or another. Even though in the home, we also do it, there needs to be outside support from the community too.

May Allah forgive us. Ameen.

Alhamdulillah the girls went to the soup kitchen during Ramadan and S said lady remarked to her,

“Oh you don’t have to come all the way from another country to serve us here!”

S replied, “I was born here.”

The lady then said, “In my religion, we don’t cover our hair unless we’re really good.”

LOL

These last few nights of Ramadan, the girls have been sleeping at the masjid for semi-i’tikaaf, and they have been going to the masjid for the qiyaam at the masjid too. In the beginning of Ramadan, my schedule with the older kids are as such:

Post Fajr :- S recites her memorization of kahf to H while I listen to N’s tajweed as she recites for 10 min to me. Then, once H is done listening and checking S, he recites to me and N goes to recite on her own.

Post Zuhr :- I recite to H my revised portion for that day

Post Asr :-

  • H recites his revised portions to me for that day
  • N recites her revised portions to S for that day

But there were days when we fell short of sticking to this schedule and since the kids go to the masjid for qiyaam in the last 10nights, we have dropped the post fajr routine. It’s hard (in some ways) when the kids are older and more independent (can’t believe I’m saying this) because it’s harder for me to keep them together and stick to a schedule and herd them as one flock. Subhanallah….and that throws me off. it really does. I just need to learn how to manage this reality.  It reminds me of the word zhurriyah which can be translated as progeny. It comes from a root that has the meaning of ‘to scatter’ and true indeed, our children scatter. They scatter when they’re young and when they’re grown. In different ways. But yes, they scatter. This is just another stage of parenthood I’m entering and I guess it feels like being hit by a high-speed train sometimes. I’m left reeling and dazed, and I lose my bearings, and walk trying to find my way back like a blind person. When I finally find my way, I get hit again. At the same time, I’m barely holding on to this tiny lone hand by my side who still needs me to lead him step by step, but as the train hits me again and again in intervals, I lose his grip. That’s what it feels like. May Allah make it easy. Ameen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Activities - Ages 10 and up, Activities - Ages 5-8, Community, Cooking, Course Planning, Family, High School, Homeschooling, Juggling Multiple Kids, Memorizing, Outsourcing, Quran, Ramadan, Soup Kitchen, Teaching Challenges, Thoughts, Time Management, Z's learning | 4 Comments

Capping it All

So, we’ve been sick, somewhat minimally following the election (mostly through CNN Student News), and waiting for the color cartridges to arrive. I went through a determined phase of martyrdom of trying to make my own activities for Z, because this is my natural inclination that has been strictly curbed by other commitments as of now. But, through eye pain, headaches, I did it and made some activities for Z which we’re finally able to try out this morning after installing the new color cartridges last night and printing them and cutting them last night. I still have some activities on prophet stories to complete (yes, apparently,  I’m too stubborn to leave it at that and decided to make more). I remember when I started homeschooling S after I pulled her out of preschool, I went to bed at 1 am preparing a handmade food pyramid lesson plan. That is how obsessed I can get. Back then, I probably had more flexibility and time to indulge in that, but now, I have other commitments that seriously strictly curbs that kind of indulgence. However, there are times when my creative side just fights its way through. I have left creative activities for so long that my kids balk at the thought of them inheriting their artistic skills from me.

“You can’t draw, Ummi.”

So when I drew the images for Z’s activities, they came and said,

“Ooh, that looks professional.’

“You drew that?!”

When I admired my masterpieces a bit too much, Hubs said,

“Stick to real niche; writing.”

But that’s a whole other story. Drawing right now is more immediate and gratifying than writing. I’m on hiatus with writing right now.

It’s interesting how creativity has its own branches. N can draw from imagination, well H can too, but I can’t. I can copy drawings, but I have trouble drawing from imagination. S I think is good at copying drawings too. When she makes hands-on projects, I always look forward to seeing the end result. Right now, she is working on a diorama for World History. Years back, she had made a project on cave formation and it was awesome.

For H, when he works on a project, he focuses more on the engineering aspects of it. Aesthetics is one of the least of his worries. He would do his designs and work on them, and his projects are not less awesome. Rather, I would say that his projects reveal his strength.

N is the interior designer type. While S is good at coming up with ideas for her projects and actually carrying them out, N is good at the finishing touches. somehow though, I feel like she feels she is bound by some limitations, that seems to curb her potential. I know she has a lot of potential, but somehow, she probably feels she can’t do as well as H and S, and this limits her. She does her own thing, but I notice that she always limits herself and this is a shame, because there is a reservoir of talent in her that can be polished to produce greatness. I hope she realizes this for herself, because I’ve been telling her this, but she needs to realize this on her own for it to take effect.

All this creativity is a blessing from Allah. I try to remind them to use these blessings for His sake. It’s so easy to get carried away with using these blessings in ways that can earn His anger, and then what do you end up with for yourself? It has been a struggle in this area, so may Allah guide us. Ameen.

After we finished Tafseer An Nabaa, I gave them the test, and they’re supposed to come up with a project. Right now, N and H are working on their project which is due this Friday. H already produced two 3-D representation of two scene-sections in the surah, and N is working on a PPT presentation for hers. I’m excited to see their end results.

One thing that has been lacking a lot in my working with Z, is arts and crafts. Subhanallah, I really can’t wait to finish this course inshaaAllah and hopefully have more time to spend with him. I have an inkling of worry that my schedule might be tighter, but may Allah give me barakah in my time so I can do all that I need to do. Ameen.

Quran and Arabic

Bayyinah Podcast has been down since hurricane Sandy, and so our daily tafseer sessinos have been kind of hanging. We started listening to Quran Cover to Cover on Bayyinah TV on surah Al fatihah, and last night, I printed out the handouts for the Arabic With Hosna also from Bayyinah TV and sent them with Hubs for Kinko-ing today.  I plan to inshaaAllah alternate tafseer/Quran with Arabic grammar throughout the week, with Friday of course being special for kahf Quran Cover to Cover. I feel somewhat lost without Bayyinah tafseer Podcast. Subhanallah, I realize how much we do rely on it for tafseer. May Allah reward all those involved in that project and others that enable easy access to understanding and learning Quran for the masses. Ameen.

With my own hifdh, checking H’s review, checking N’s tajweed and fluency, I haven’t really been consistent with Z’s Quran reading sessions. I feel scattered with regards to his ‘schooling’ but I’m holding out till Feb inshaaAllah when I will be done with this course. Though I have a feeling like I’m so addicted to taking classes that I might still have the same problem. Right now, I’m all hyped up about the Bukhari class, and am already thinking I really need to study grammar well because that may aid my hifdh. It’s a process. Baby Steps, and consistent dua. InshaaAllah. InshaaAllah.

Literature and Writing

H and N’s literature teacher, whom they love because she is so nice, got sick and went to the hospital, so they’ve been missing 2 lit classes. I enrolled them in the Write Guide class, and so far, it’s been good alhamdulillah. Their writing instructor is helpful and she helped them with their essay prompts, but then, because they didn’t have lit classes for 2 weeks, they got to work on personal essays with her. It’s perfect timing subhanallah. Allah’s planning and decree. I am able to see their exchanges and last night, I was looking at their drafts and revised drafts, and I thought to myself,

“I wonder if this is helping them.”

I noticed that what the instructor points out to them, are some of the same things I’ve been pointing out to them too all these years. I wonder if they should also attend writing classes that are more instructional than a personalized one. So far, with this one, everytime they send her their essays, she would respond with suggestions and corrections. I haven’t yet seen any instructions or tips in writing that I kind of expect to see. But maybe there is no need for it because the kids are used to beginning with outlines and that she is maybe focusing on their writing skills more. Then I think to the course I took in 2004. It does actually help your writing when you have someone giving you feedback. it is personalized and even though it is not the classroom type of teaching, it does help. So I hope it helps them and affects their other writing inshaaAllah, and not just these essays.

I may also enroll them in Home2teacher classes starting in January, just to I cover all bases (that I can think of anyway).

Math

I can’t check H’s math. I just can’t, so hubs does it but sometimes he is tired and can’t do it. I can check N’s math though, it’s more straightforward.  We sat down and made a schedule for her to finish this Zeta by end of November so she can start on Pre Algebra. Seriously, I can’t take Math U See with higher math. I’m going to have to figure something out with H if he still insists on doing MUS instead of Teaching Textbook when he gets to Algebra II.

With Z, I’m trying to work on things like skip counting, recognizing Arabic numerals and addition and subtraction, ordinal, telling time, etc. We just read the book, One Watermelon Seed, and I had him count the fruits and vegetables with me. He resisted at first, but I made it a condition for me to continue reading the book to him. I was actually surprised that he can count to 20. Though, when we tried counting to 30, after 29, he said, twenty-ten. Since he laughed, I don’t know if he was joking or he really didn’t know. But at least we did the skip counting by 10. I don’t like teaching skip counting, because I feel like if it is confusing to the child, I don’t have the skill to explain properly. I just hate explaining math, period. I feel like I don’t do it well.

We played the number domino this morning, with the cards I had made, and Z is able to recognize those numbers, even the Arabic. But he did have trouble recognizing how much items there were on the domino cards. He doesn’t seem to like counting because apparently it ‘takes time’.  I had made a spinner-addition and graph activity for him too, but haven’t tried it yet today. I never got to actually do a full blown Glenn Doman Math on him and now he is already 5 and I still have those cards that I made from when the older kids were younger. What a waste, subhanallah.

History

H and N are taking the History Crime Scene Investigation class and I haven’t been keeping up with it. But I have been telling them to send me their weekly homework nonetheless.

I hope they benefit somewhat from that class, though I feel it may be a little difficult for N to understand. I decided to continue with History Through Literature with them on the side. I told them to read Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf, but seriously, my schedule and their schedule..we haven’t been able to pursue that seriously so far.

S is doing it off her textbook, as much as I hate using textbooks. Oh well. If it means less stress right now, I’ll take it. Oh, but she does look for other resources too, so I guess it’s ok. Not just textbook-based at least.

Science

H is busy with his soldering kit. I even have to nag him off of it to do his other school work. I’m contemplating having him take Science Jim’s Winter Newton’s Laws class. I’m not worried about his science. N is busy with her Mammals class. I did ask her to have an assignment for me every week though, because I don’t see her exploring more after the class. I worry that she might not be utilizing what she learned. Considering her interest in writing fiction (and oh, the kids are all doing NanoWrimo this year), I suggested her assignment be to make a character sketch of one animal of her choice each week. She now owes me 3 character sketches. In the beginning, she misunderstood me and actually gave me a sketch of a wombat. I explained to her that I want her to develop a character of one animal and how when you write fiction, usually, the first thing you start with is developing your character. She loves biology, particularly animals, and I’m thinking that a way that she might enjoy learning about them would be to incorporate them into another area of her interest – writing. S is busy with her Algebra 2 and World History, so she’s not doing anything else because I want her to focus on her Taleem Quran and not rob her of that experience.

 

InshaaAllah it’s all good.

 

Categories: Activity, Al Huda Institute, Bayyinah Institute, Creative Arts, Electronics, Juggling Multiple Kids, Learning Games, Living Islam, Memorizing, Project, Quick Study Labs, Quran, Science, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Thoughts, Writing, Z's learning | Leave a comment

A Learning Moment

It’s amazing how learning can occur in such a simple act as watching Afasy on Youtube. N is crazy over Dawud Wharnsby’s anaasheed. Z is closest to her and would follow her every act. At one point, I saw N at the computer, and Z by her side, standing, with the headphones on and I guessed what he was listening to.

“N, let him listen to Afasy. Not too much nasheed.”

Z used to watch a lot of Afasy on Youtube. At one point he was just fixed to it watching it again and again.

I reminded him of this.

“Z, you used to watch Afasy a lot remember? ”

Last night, he asked to watch Afasy, but he especially likes the one where people are praying on the street. When we looked for it, I clicked on the Fussilat video, but apparently I got the wrong one. He pointed to the correct one:

He started asking question as we watched it:

“Why is he crying?”

When he asked this question, I told him about the ayah he was crying about, that it talks about hellfire and how one’s face will be burned and that he is afraid of that happening to him, that’s why he’s crying. I balanced this with telling him that Allah loves us so much that He has prepared Jannah for us, but we have to work for it, and then we can see Allah. We have to listen to Allah.

“Why are they praying on the street?”

Because it’s Ramadan and they go for taraweeh, and there is no space in the masjid because so many people want to go.

“Why do men and women pray?”

Everyone has to pray.

“Why do they go to the masjid?”

Because Allah likes it. The masjid is Allah’s house. So we need to keep it clean, don’t fight in it, don’t say bad stuff in it. We should pray and read Quran in the masjid.

I also started telling him about the crowd at hajj. As we were watching this, I told him that at hajj there are more people than this.

I also pointed out at the straight rows and how everyone moved together and how it looks so organized and neat.

As I’m typing this, he’s asking me

“Why does Allah put the people in the fire?”

Because the people didn’t listen to Allah. These people did bad things, they hurt other people, they even killed some people, and Allah already told them not to do this, but they didn’t listen, they still did it. Allah already told them that if they don’t listen, He will put them in the fire, and they still didn’t listen. So it’s their fault, not Allah’s because Allah already warned them.

At one point before this, he had declared that he wants to see Allah. He had been talking to the girls about Jannah and he asked to see Allah. They told him he will see Allah in Jannah.

Subhanallah. This is learning in context. This is a teaching moment. Sometimes, you don’t need worksheets, activities to teach something. You just need to live life. Allah has created children with innate curiosity that makes them avid observers and question-askers. Sometimes, the best learning comes from unplanned activities/teaching moments. Especially in teaching Islam, which is not just a religion, but a way of life, learning comes from living it. That was how the prophet saw taught the companions, though they would also have formal learning sessions. It’s always about balance. Not being extreme.

In education, there are many schools of thoughts. In homeschooling, there are also many methods and schools of thoughts. Sometimes, we waste our energy debating with each other over why our method is the most correct, when there may be more than one way, or there may be a middle, balanced way.

When we started homeschooling, we started with the school-at-home with OHVA. Then I tried unschooling. Finally, we ended up eclectic. I have leaned to one side too much at one time or another, but it always felt somewhat wrong, and so I would pull myself back up to the middle. At times it’s a constant yo-yo, at times, the pendulum remains still.

Alhamdulillah. Sometimes you really just have to pay attention to things. Allah talks to you through the Quran and in other ways. He is Al Lateef (subtle, gentle, caring) and He is al Aleem (all knowing) and He is al Hakeem(All wise). You just need to use the intellect you’ve been blessed with and reflect, take note of even little things, and you will realize this precious connection subhaanallah.

Sometimes you know something, but in the course of life, you forget that you know this, or you start to worry. Allah reminds you what you know. The Quran is also called zhikr, a reminder. That is why there is a lot of repetition in it, because human beings forget a lot. The root of the word for human means to forget. Go figure.

Categories: Homeschooling, Learning in Context, Living Islam, Quran, Thoughts, Youtube, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Quran Journey

As non-Arabs, our Quran journey begins with learning to read the Arabic. This is the very first thing I taught my kids to do with regards to Quran. With reading Quran, comes Tajweed, the rules of recitation. ‘Reading’ Quranic Arabic is not like what we think of as reading, but it’s more like reciting. Since Arabic is not our native tongue (though I also have come to know that even for Arabs, classical Arabic is not necessarily completely comprehensible since their version of Arabic has evolved since then), we may be able to recite with perfect tajweed, but we may not necessarily understand it.

But, because the Quran, when recited with proper tajweed, has an effect on people, one who can recite it will good tajweed is marveled at by the average Muslim. He doesn’t necessarily have to understand it, but if he can recite well, wow.

We are striving to move beyond that. Because the Quran is not a piece of entertainment, but it is the last scripture sent in a series of scriptures sent through human messengers throughout history. All those scriptures came from the same god, and these are what actually unifies Muslims, Christians, and Jews, whether we realize it or not.

As non Arabs, we have to embark on a journey to truly understand it. Before that though, there is another aspect in the journey of Quran; memorization. Many Muslims, Arabic speaking or not, memorize the Quran. One of the most obvious ways the Quran is preserved is through oral memorization. If anyone tries to change anything in the Quran, these memorizers (huffaadh) would catch it right away. No doubt about it. The Quran is memorized in its original actual form, in Arabic, whether the memorizer understands it or not. The vowelization, lengthening, meanings are generally consistent, albeit with differences in different schools of recitation.

So, as non Arabic-speaking Muslims, we have also embarked on that journey of memorizing. H, at age 7, after listening to a lecture by Safi Khan on Imam Ahmad Hambal, and how Imam Ahmad finished memorizing Quran at age 10, declared that he wants to memorize Quran by age 10 too. That was how it started with H. To this day, he is still doing his hifdh.

There was a time, when he was younger, he fell asleep on the couch after working on his memorization. He talked in his sleep, and his ‘talk’ was a recitation of a portion of the surah he was working on. Amazing. It has been about 5 years since he started this journey, and he is progressing alhamdulillah. He has changed teachers, and I fear that this may pose as a drawback. In our locality, he is the only one of two who is working on hifdh. For a child, competition in this arena may be a good thing. So, him doing it alone all these years, most of the years, may have been a damper. We are restricted by our situation thus far. I ask that Allah make this easier, but so far, we’re still in the same situation. His decision is based on His wisdom, so I’m sure there is good in this. I know it’s a test, and I fear that we may not pass this test.

I am worried about his review process. He is memorizing new portions with the brother who is working with him right now. Since this brother is also a students, there are limitations. We the parents, are the ones revising with him. This is getting harder. H doesn’t work well with me. Ever since he was young, he hasn’t listened to me well enough. Not enough to take me that seriously. I remember teaching him tajweed. Because I’m his mother, he didn’t take me seriously. Once he started going to AM at the masjid, his tajweed improved a lot. I taught him the same things, but he obviously learns better with a stranger. My girls aren’t like that. They take me seriously. This is a huge challenge for me. Especially since I am the only one who is inclined to working regularly with him. Hubs is too busy to be able to do this with him regularly. He said he can only do it on the weekends. Actually he can do it, between maghrib Isha, because they’re usually at the masjid anyway at that time, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I can’t control that, so I strive to work on things that I can control, which basically translates to “I’m doing this even if it’s very very hard to do because the boy doesn’t listen to me and my time is limited too”. Subhaanallah. May Allah make it easy. Ameen.

What I find challenging is not only his attitude towards me, but also my own temper and level of patience. Only Allah knows how much I do slips up everyday.

At the same time, I’m also working on the understanding Quran journey with them. We listen to Nouman’s Tafseer podcast everyday after fajr for about 20 minutes and then we discuss it. We just decided to start at An Nabaa instead of from the back and after a while, I noticed them sliding down, not paying attention. I decided to test them on the material. After our session this morning, I came up with the test. I am excited over it, but I worry. Only Allah can guide the hearts. Only with Allah’s blessings will anything be effective. No matter how great my questions are for them, it won’t lay any imprint in their hearts without Allah’s blessings. This makes me scared. It makes me hopeful, and it makes me even more dependent on Allah.

Oh, I’ve realized how dependent I’ve become on Allah all these years, especially as my kids grew older and I realize there is only so much I can do. But, seriously, being a parent is a huge lesson in developing tawakkul (utter and complete reliance on Allah while putting in one’s effort to the max). My goal in us listening to this tafseer is for us to really understand the Quran, internalize it and embrace it, truly embrace it as we should. When we listen to it, when we recite it, it should touch our hearts because we understand it, because Allah has made our hearts open to receive it. That’s how we should interact with the Quran.

In the Quran, Allah mentions that He sends messengers to

  1. recite
  2. purify
  3. teach them the book
  4. teach them the wisdom/sunnah

upon the people.

The first step is reciting. The heart has to be pure in order to receive teachings of the book. This is why we start young. This doesn’t mean an older person doesn’t have a chance, for guidance after all, is in the hands of Allah regardless of age. This purification is very important. Very important. Can’t be emphasized enough. Teaching them the book and the wisdom (application/sunnah) will round them up into hopefully good and contributing Muslims.

S is on her own Quran journey right now. Alhamdulillah, she is on her own, with Al Huda. N and H, I’m handling. Z, is at the recitation stage, and this is hard too. Subhanallah, everytime I have to work with Z, I’m reminded of how old I really am.

I’m on my own Quran journey too. Better late than never, right?

Subhanallah…there are just days where you feel really depleted, really wrung out with no ounce of energy left. It’s only the belief and certainty in Allah that pulls you back up. He’s there, watching you. He knows what you’re going through. He knows whether you’re trying your best or not. He knows what you’re thinking even before you think it. He knows what you really want. And He’s there to help you out, on His own time, in His own way. You just have to believe, ask, wait. Continue loop (hey, I was a computer science major after all, even though I loathe the subject). So…continue loop, till death do us part.

 

Categories: Juggling Multiple Kids, Living Islam, Memorizing, Quran, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Thoughts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

OKC Day 4 & Back to Dallas

Today is our last day in OKC. We’re to check out at 12, when S has her 1 hour break from class. So we got ready, and around 11, hubs came back up from the conference and we got ready to go. I cooked some rice and reheated the leftovers from last night, and just as we’re getting ready to get the second batch of our bags to the van, an alarm went off. At first, I thought it was the smoke alarm, but turned out, it was the alarm that requires immediate evacuation.

We rushed getting the stuff ready, and after a few minutes we heard the fire truck coming. I looked out the window and saw people walking out of the hotel. It was eerie. I was just reading the emergency drill action plan on the room door the night before or the night before that, and to actually have that alarm go off that day was interesting.

After a while though, the alarm in our part of the building was turned off but the alarm still was going on at the other part of the hotel. We hurried and soon had all our stuff in the van. People seemed to be taking it easy. Hubs even went down to check us out and he said people didn’t know what was going on, but they seemed relaxed. When we drove out of the parking garage, the fire truck was still on the street, but nothing seemed to be wrong.

We headed for the Myriad Botanical Garden to have our hot lunch. It was a very breezy and surprisingly chilly afternoon, subhanallah. I didn’t expect the weather to be like that. Then again, we didn’t check the weather when we were packing, though I had told H to but he didn’t do it.

We hurried through lunch too because S had to resume her class in half an hour. We unpacked our hot rice, leftover chicken, and Z’s ride and serunding and we ate at a table in the children’s area. it was a nice lunch picnic. It was really cold but our food was hot.

Hubs went to drop S off back at the hotel to get the internet to resume her class and the rest of the kids just played around in the park. The park is really nice. When hubs came back, we decided to go to the Oklahoma City Memorial.

On the way, hubs asked the kids,

“So do yuo guys know about the Oklahoma City bombing?”

‘Yeah, Ummi told us to read a book about it and we did,” said H.

“What does it have to do with Muslims?” asked hubs

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, but the first hour after it happened, they accused the Muslims.”

I wasn’t aware of this but it’s not surprising. Subhanallah.

The visit to the Memorial was an informative one and a somber one. I couldn’t help but feel somber when I looked at the picture of the bombed federal building on the brochure that was passed to us when we entered the memorial. It was a beautiful memorial. We listened to the park ranger giving us the tour, and we were standing by the survivor tree. Subhanallah…I was thinking to myself,

Those people lost their lives, but this tree, which apparently survived a disease that was very destructive to elm trees, lightning, drought, storms, torn limbs from blast, fire from the exploded cars under it when the bomb went off, survived, by Allah’s mercy. It made me think how life is such a fragile thing. And that it is completely in His hands. It was time for those people’s lives to end in such a way, but it was not yet time for the this tree to die. Despite everything, it continued to bud, and grow. Subhanallah. But there will come a time when it will also die. It’s just a matter of time.

The park ranger said that some people would dip their hands in the pool and put their wet handprints on the walls. The kids did that. We spent quite some time at the memorial. Hubs went to pick S up and brought her back and she walked through the Memorial with my 3 minute briefing on what it was all about. It was quite an experience. As the park ranger was talking about the lives lost in this tragedy, I couldn’t help thinking also of all the lives lost in other tragedies going on in the world. Not to undermine the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing, but there were lives lost there too, and they were not mostly known to the world. Some died slow painful deaths, torturous deaths. This is the reality of life in this world, that bad things do happen to good people. That evil do lead to such destruction. That the oppressors do sometimes get away with oppressions because those oppressions are not checked. That fasad is part of the reality of this life in this world, and that there is life in there hereafter. Allah is just and those who are oppressed, will get just compensation in the life of the hereafter if not in this world.  May Allah protect us from such ends and such trials, and may He give us husnul Khaatimah. Ameen.

We drove to Dallas right away, and of course, encountered traffic on the interstate. Turned out, there was an accident on the other side of the interstate.

“This is the thing about living in Dallas,” hubs said.

Alhamdulillah, we did get to the hotel in good time, H and Z got time to go swimming, and then we drove to the Carrollton masjid. We were late, but they also started late, so I technically made it in good time. Subhanallah, twice, I had begged Allah to let us get to class on time; the first one, last weekend, for the AlMaghrib class, and we did, despite the recurring traffic and rain, and now this. Subhanallah. He does indeed respond to the caller when the caller calls on Him. Subhanallah…Glorified is He from all people associate Him with, any partners or child.

Hubs and the kids waited outside while I attended the intro session of the workshop, but they got to listen to it too because the sound system at the masjid was such that the whole masjid could hear it when they used the mic. May Allah reward hubs and the kids immensely for bearing with this and letting me have this opportunity to attend this. Ameen.

Not many husbands would do this for their wives. He used to also do this when we were in Columbus. He let me attend AlMaghrib classes while he babysat the kids. He even stayed on campus throughout the whole weekend when Z was about 3 months old, and he would bring him to me for nursing during breaks. Subhanallah. I cannot enumerate the blessings He has bestowed on me even if I try to count them. May Allah make us of the shaakireen! Ameen.

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Categories: AlMaghrib Institute, Community, Family, Qalam Institute, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Road Trip Coming Up!

Z’ book bag

Z’s been asking, “Are we going on a trip?” ever since I packed these things for him. I told him that we will be going on a trip and that we would do these activities during that trip. Last night, we went out to Kohl’s and he was napping, so hubs just picked him and placed him in his seat, and he asked,

“Is this the trip?”

It was dark because it was past maghrib, so he probably thought it was fajr time because that is when we usually depart for our road trips.

Today, as we walked home from his therapy, somehow we got to talking about the trip. He was probably asking about it again and I told him it was on FRiday. So automatically we stated the order of the days together. Impromptu lesson right there! That’s what I like!

Anyway, I’m excited too. I finally decided which activities I want to start doing with Z from Umm Nu’man’s wonderful amazing resources, and I look forward to doing them with Z.  I realize that with 3 older kids and 1 kid in kindy, it’s hard for me to juggle everything on top of also being in a course myself. No wonder homeschooling moms of multiple kids take homeschooling as a full time job.

I am going to have to do that too if I don’t want to retire prematurely. I mean, I can still do other stuff but they have to be manageable. Right now, alhamdulillah, Allah has enabled me to keep up, though there are times when I feel like just dropping everything and crying. Especially when the kids misbehave, show bad manners, don’t listen to me, don’t do their work…which is…hmm…I guess, almost every day sometimes. Subhanallah…these are times when I feel like I have failed in my responsibilities. But I also realize that my responsibilities are not over. My mother says,

“Better late than never!”

My mother still reprimands me to this day, like any mother would. So I guess, my work is for a lifetime, though it’s hard not to feel like a failure when your kids show less than desirable behavior. This is when I feel very humbled. Parenting is humbling, not only because you learn that you are the role model, but mostly because you come to realize that it’s all in His hands. Guidance and success is in His hands.

In homeschooling, there are times when you feel exhilirated (like when H’s fan worked) and you feel,

“Yay! This is why we homeschool!”

But subhanallah, Allah reminds us, and we had just covered this ayah recently in my class (I LOVE juz 27 28!)

57:22
Sahih International

No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah , is easy – Al Hadeed 57:22

57:23
Sahih International

In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful – Al Hadeed 57:23

Subhanallah when something bad happens, you remember that Allah has already decreed it, so don’t dwell too much over its loss, but even when something great happens, here we are reminded not to exult over it and attribute it all to ourselves! Balance!

I printed out all the materials I wanted and put them all in this folder. And this folder goes in his book bag.

some cut out pieces

I had cut out some activity sheets ahead of time, though I later realized that he should be the one doing the cutting. But I later left some parts for him to cut on his own.

My Body activity sheet set

He’s been asking a lot about where his stomach is and where his food is right now, so I thought it’s high time we do human body. We’ve been doing animals and plants, and I had wanted to do human body but I couldn’t find the proper materials for his age so this was a blessing that Allah directed me to the blog of Umm Nu’man, whom I also realized is the author of books I had bought for Z! MashaAllah! She has come up with a Human body activity sheet set separate for boys and girls.

Surah An Naas Activity Sheet set

I love these Quran activity sets! I am excited to try this because from looking at how it’s supposed to be carried out, I”m thinking that this is the reading by sight version in Arabic. We did both reading by sight and phonics for English but I haven’t found any technique, at least any organized technique for reading Arabic so this is really a wonderful find! Alhamdulillah!

Surah Al Ikhlas Activity Sheet set

For some of the activities, I’ll have to coax the older kids to join us.

Quran Mazes activity sheet booklets

I had painfully scanned these, gathered them all in a Word document and printed them so he can do it again and again, now and even later when his comprehension takes on a different level.

I told him to gather some crayons and put them in this pouch we had gotten when we boarded Korean Airlines on our visit back to Malaysia in 2010. Reuse, recycle.

His crayons

His glue and scissors

His Abata. He was the one who reminded me to include this, so alhamdulillah!

I didn’t forget about the older kids. I used to do this when we travelled before too. I went to elaborate length to prepare for our road trips. I remember one when we went to Houston from Columbus, OH. Don’t know how much the kids benefited though, but I do remember doing a lot of brainstorming, designing, cutting, pasting, when the kids were younger. I realize that now, with Z, that’s what I have to do a lot of too it seems like. While at the same time I also have to do a lot of mental work in checking and critiquing the older kids’ essays, researching topics, teaching it learning it together with them, keeping ahead of them, keeping up to date with college applications, SAT, ACT, etc, high school requirements, high school course planning…you get the drift.

I had put my writing on hiatus several times now because I can’t cope with everything, but I do look forward to being able to fully pay attention to homeschooling these kids almost full time inshaAllah.

Hubby told me to rest and not take the AlMaghrib class we’re going to. So, after deliberating and feeling wistful about it, I agreed. So, right now, only hubs and N and H are taking the class inshaAllah. S, Z and I will be hanging out. S has to study, and we have to watch her British history DVDs I had checked out from the library for her World History course, and I have to study and review, and I have to do these activities with Z too. So much for rest ! But I look forward to it.

Then, S will be attending her TQ as usual during the week, and on Wed I will be attending my class, and miss Thursday because my public speaking workshop begins that day. So I will have to do some catching up in my class work and notes because the week after, the translation test is due. Again, so much for rest. 🙂 Never mind, our rest is inshaAllah in Jannah!

Older kids’ book bag

May Allah bless this trip. Ameen.

As usual, with road trips or any traveling, I go into obsessive packing and organizing mode. I’d make a list of all that we need to pack, and I’d start packing days before, and check off my list as I go and it takes a lot of planning and work, but it makes for an easier execution so far alhamdulillah. I find that I always need to write things down so my mind is not cluttered with to do lists. It helps me a lot. Ustaadh  Muhammad AlShareef calls it a brain dump. That’s exactly what I feel it is too.

My obsessive packing organization

Categories: Al Huda Institute, AlMaghrib Institute, Books, Family, History DVD, Homeschooling, Juggling Multiple Kids, Teaching To Read, Thoughts, Travel, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Cardboard Ceiling Fan

In a conversation I had last weekend with a sister, I brought up H’s cardboard endeavor jokingly, offering her a homemade cardboard furniture. Of course, she took it as a joke too. I started talking about cardboard engineering but she still had this incredulous look on her face, and I couldn’t help but realize that H was right. People won’t take this seriously, at least not those who are more used to a more refined way of life. I don’t mind having cardboard furniture.

It made me think more about cardboard engineering though. I think it’s a great way to recycle, it’s more eco-friendly. When I googled this area, it seems that it’s not that popular in the US, but might be more popular in the Europe. Of course, right. The US is a bit behind in being green. Europe has always been way ahead in this, so it’s no surprise.

I’ve been trying to look for science fair opportunities for H and his cardboard engineering but logistically it’s not that easy. But  I did find a lot of resources online on ideas for cardboard engineering projects, so I told him to use them for his science this year.

Right now, H is making his ceiling fan. He’s using the motor from our broken fan, and just this morning he managed to get the cord out of the fan by sawing off the enclosure.

He had N helping him and for almost the whole day they were immersed in this project.

It wasn’t that easy taking the cord out of the old fan frame.

But he finally got it out, and I was just relieved he was done using the saw.

The motor and cord ready to be reused.

testing the motor

He decided to use the motor of a bigger fan because this one was too small. Today, he finished it, and demonstrated his working cardboard ceiling fan. The motor overheated pretty quickly though, so he’s thinking of making a vent or hoping that when it’s hung from the ceiling, the wind from the fan would cool it down. But the fact that the fan actually works is exhilarating enough, even for me!

I am noticing that in this project, he’s learning a lot of things, such as the problems he encounters. He made circles from the cardboard without using a compass, and later he had to make sure the radius is all the same throughout his circle. He was trying to find the center. So when he came to ask me how to use the compass and make sure it’s centered, I told him,

“You have to make the circle using the compass to begin with.”

“I know,” was his somber reply.

Later on, he said, while pointing to the compass,

“I need one of these, a big one though.”

He even asked me how to make sure it’s 5 in radius and I showed him.

This is how you learn through doing. It’s the other way around. You do, thus you learn, rather than you learn, then you do. It’s through mistakes and problems that one learns and this reminds me of Roger Schank’s book Teaching Minds. It’s a great read! I would highly recommend it. He basically suggests a high school curiculum where you have the students actually ‘training’ in various areas. For example, first year of high school, they may be doing Health Science, and throughout that year, they will work/train under a mentor as a ‘doctor’ for example, or a ‘health inspector’, or a ‘nurse’, and through this, they learn what needs to be learned, in context.

I had thought of doing something like this for the kids too, but the difficult part about this is finding a real mentor who would be willing to take a teenager under his/her wings for a certain amount of time. It’s akin to shadowing really, or apprenticeship.

For H, because he’s naturally interested in electronics, building, etc, he takes to this willingly by himself. I don’t have to tell him to do it. For N, I’m thinking of something like this too but because she’s interested in creative writing, it may be easier to do this. We’ll see. At the back of my mind I’m also looking out for shadowing opportunities for S, but I think she can also get these through her volunteer activities. The soup kitchen is a good start for her, and then there is the animal shelter. For N, I may need to find writing/publishing opportunities to make it more real and make it a real learning experience. I’m excited about this, and so I look forward to hopefully being able to spend more time on their homeschooling after my Al Huda is done inshaAllah. Though I’m thinking Allah may have other plans for me. Alhamdulillah. Whatever He decrees is best.

This morning (this post is written over a course of a few days) he hung the fan from the ceiling with the help of his sisters. It worked!

And then H edited this video on my Youtube account, but right after that, the fan fell from the ceiling. Another problem he needs to figure out how to overcome. Either way this is a good learning experience, Alhamdulillah!

Categories: Activities - Ages 10 and up, Cardboard, Course Planning, High School, Learning in Context, Project, Science, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Feeding the Needy

We continued our Tafseer session this morning. And subhanallah it was so relevant to what we did yesterday. We did Ayah 3 today.

107:3
Sahih International

And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.


Wa laa yahuddu ‘alaa taAAami almiskeen

To make this post easier to write for me, this is an excerpt of notes from Linguistic Miracles :

The previous aayaat was in regard to their personal lives.

But this ayah is directly affecting their public reputation that they’ve took so long to build up.

These people who are being criticized – are the leaders of the Quraysh (i.e. Abu Lahab who is the treasurer) – who have the duty and role of feeding and supporting the weak (atleast at an official level). However, they do not fulfill this role.


Leaders should be at the forefront of feeding the poor
, serving the public, and helping the weak. But instead, these leaders are wasting the money they are entrusted with to the other rich men in society, whereas this money is public money. Thus showing their corruption and lack of responsibility in their role as leader.

They had the mentality that they needed to protect the agenda of the rich instead of protecting the weak. Because the rich support their high position, and keep their support in place. If they helped the poor – they would not get such benefits.
So they didn’t help the poor, neither enjoin people to help them – so that they would keep their power and position in society.

Why doesn’t he encourage people to give to the poor?

If he encourages people to feed the poor – people will ask him why he doesn’t feed the orphan and poor himself?
Allah is exposing this corrupt rich persons psyche – you don’t want to encourage people to spend on the poor, otherwise you won’t be able to use this money in corruption and dealings with other rich people.

This is all over the world. The leaders trample over the rights of the weak.

Yesterday we volunteered at the local soup kitchen, all 3 older kids and I. The kids love volunteering at the soup kitchen and for this I am very grateful to Allah for giving them this taufeeq, because that makes it that much easier for me. Alhamdulillah. Last weekend was actually hectic. The girls went to the Animal Shelter open house right after the soup kitchen, and S even forgoed Tennis that morning so she wouldn’t be too overwhelmed with the back to back activities.

So while we were discussing after the tafseer session, I brought up our volunteering at the soup kitchen.

“What is the significance of Allah using the word Ta’aam versus It’aam?”

Ta’aam = Food, It’aam = Feeding. In the ayah, it says Ta’aamul miskeen (Food of the needy) not It’aamul miskeen (feeding of the needy) though in translation of course they put it as the latter to make for an easier read. But the significance here is that it points out that the food is the right of the needy in the first place. When you feed someone, it can be your food or someone else’s, but when you say food of the needy, it means it’s THEIR food in the first place.

I also asked them, “So, whose rights are upon us? Two big categories.”

They weren’t able to come up with the second. They came up with the first (Allah).

“The first is Allah, the second is His creations, which includes, ourselves, parents, orphans, people, animals, plants, the earth.”

“What is our body’s right upon us?”

N: “To take care of it because Allah already gave it to us and everything.”

“What can’t we do if we don’t take care of our body?”

H: “We can’t worship Him.”

It’ll be hard to engage in acts of worship with health problems though that is not an excuse to slacken in them.

I asked them,

“Did you hear yesterday this man was asking this girl next to me, ‘Are you here on a voluntary basis? Or serving community service hours ? Got in trouble?'”

H: “He was joking wasn’t he?”

Me : “Yeah he was, but let’s talk about this. So, what does this tell you? How easy is it to get people to volunteer?”

H : “Hard.”

“What else does it tell you?”

H: “Community service helps people.”

Me: “So, if people ask you, what does your Koran teach you, what is one of the things you can say?”

H: “Feeding the needy.”

Me: “So is volunteering at soup kitchens part of Islam then?”

Yes. If you notice, it’s part of almost every religion, mainly Christianity, Judaism, Islam, though there are some misconceptions about participating in it among Muslims living in the west.

Me:”They have a right upon us, those needy, they have a right upon us. Islam doesn’t teach us to just mind our own business and do our thing, but it teaches us balance. We fulfill rights of Allah, and we fulfill rights of others too.”

Then I started talking about GMO food and the arsenic in rice. I had just watched Genetic Roulette, and so I relayed to them some of what struck me in that documentary.

Me: “Being Muslims, having Islam, is a beautiful thing, because we have a ‘weapon’ against these corruptions done by human beings that go into our food. What is that weapon?”

N: “Bismillah.”

Me: “When we eat, if we say Bismillah each time, and Allah blesses the food, inshaAllah, we’ll be okay. Because not everyone can buy organic or GMO-free. Instead of being stressed out and despairing, Allah makes life simpler for us, but this is not a ticket to just sit back and not put effort in choosing good food. We still have that responsibility.”

And H apparently drew this ‘weapon’ which I find worth including in this post, mashaAllah. On second thought, it’s more of a protective shield than a weapon.

On our time yesterday at the soup kitchen: N ws given the task of serving corn, but when serving time came, she was assigned to help the handicapped with their trays, and I was serving sandwiches. I noticed that she wasn’t doing her job as a couple of people on wheelchairs passed through me. She had this expression on her face that conveyed she didn’t like her assigned task, so I quickly switched with her.

I have to admit that I feel slight apprehension even with serving, because once, a man actually touched my niqab saying,

“So what’s this?”

and I was even then more apprehensive about helping them at the tables because of what they may say or do, but alhamdulillah, they were mostly just grateful. Even though I looked very different from what they’re used to seeing or even from the rest of the Muslim women who have served them at the soup kitchen, they didn’t say or do anything that violated my physical or emotional well-being. Alhamdulillah.

Later, N asked me, “So was it fun helping people with their trays?”

“Of course!”

It actually feels good. It’s more direct interaction with the people and I really felt the humanity from them too. There was a man who probably has Parkinson’s and he needed help with carrying his tray and getting his cup of water. Then there was a woman who was shaking so much, she dropped her watermelon and she even slightly stumbled upon sitting on her chair. We had actually seen her walking towards the soup kitchen. Nt even talked to her at length about the Hijab and niqab, so when she saw me, she said,

“Niqab, Hijab, I remember those words! I love those outfits!”

For now, the kids are in love with serving the food. They don’t really want tasks where they have to interact with the people as much. I was watching them yesterday and I asked that Allah correct and purify our intentions in doing this. For them, even if it’s just the fun of serving food for now, it’s good. I do hope that they also realize the deeper significance of this deed and may Allah bless it such that it makes them into giving, loving, and helpful people to any and everyone who needs it, Muslim or not. May Allah bless it, for if He doesn’t, no matter how much effort we put into it, it will all be for naught, if not in this world, then in the hereafter.

Right after we were done, hubs picked H and I up, while the girls waited for Jn to pick them up for the Animal Shelter’s open house event. We had told them to make sure they pray Zuhr, and find a place. When they got back home, I asked them if they prayed Zuhr. Alhamdulillah, they did. Again here, balance. Fulfilling Allah’s rights and the rights of His creations. You can do all the volunteering jobs you can do, but if you don’t worship Allah as He has ordained, you’re going off balance. And you can worship Allah all you want in terms of rituals, but if you don’t fulfill the rights of His creations, you’re going off balance. You’re being an extremist.

Praying in awkward circumstances is one of the challenges of living in a majority non Muslim country. Ever since they were young, we’ve struggled with this and we kept training them to excuse themselves or just take a few minutes from class, soccer practice, games etc, to pray when the time comes, whether it be in a secluded corner, on the soccer field, in a hallway, behind the staircase, etc. But they have to pray. This is one experience they have that Muslims living in Muslims countries are probably not familiar with as Musallah are easily found in Muslim majority countries. It makes it easier to just go to a masjid or musallah and do your prayer when the time for that prayer comes in, but here, you have to be creative while also keeping in mind the Islamophobia that is going on. They might think we are warming up for a ‘terrorist’ attack of some sort when they see us in bowing and prostrating positions in a weird place like a parking lot. You never know. People think all sorts of things, and so this is the challenge we have to face in practicing our religion where Islam is seen in a horribly bad light. But alhamdulillah, I hope the kids are pretty established in their prayers so far, that they know what to do even when we’re not with them. Prayer is non negotiable. They know that.

Rabbij ‘alnee muqeema salaati wa min zhurriyati Rabbana taqabbal du’aa. Ameen!

Oh my Rabb, make me of those who establishes prayer and from my progeny too, Oh our Rabb, You are the acceptor of supplications. Ameen!

Categories: Community, Family, Living Islam, Quran, Soup Kitchen, Tafseer, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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