MOVED! Days of Our Lives 3 on BLOGGER now!

With the help and insistence of H, Days of Our Lives 3 is now on Blogger instead of WordPress. So, continuation of this blog is now on Days of Our Lives 3.

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Need to Move Again

I have run out of space on this blog, probably due to the high resolution photos I’ve been uploading. So I will have to make a DOOL 3 now. In terms of what Ive been doing with Z, it has mostly been recovering his long period of not reading his IQRA and surah. I  had to get him back in the routine and now alhamdulillah, at least he’s not resisting it. One technique did work though, in getting him not to dawdle, though doing this on a daily basis proves to be quite challenging. I was so frustrated because he was taking so long to read just 1 line when reading his IQRA that I decided to use a timer and see if having him beat the timer would make him go faster. Yes it did!

In fact, I timed him and gave him worksheets to do which had addition problems and even some spelling and short vowels exercises, and he did them quite quickly! But, this wore off after about a week. Now, I have trouble getting him to do work again. I  have to be honest and say that this is the thing I hate about homeschooling, that you have a lot of other things to do too, and you have to deal with individual personality issues such as these. If I sit with him and coax him to write his copywork nicely, it works, but after a while, I lose the patience to do this subhanallah. There are just some days where I really do not want to do this anymore. Really. Sigh.

With him, we’ve done Verb, Adjective, and Nouns and I had a hard time teaching him this because he resisted. He seems to resist when things get hard. S was like this too, and oh my god, it’s so frustrating and aggravating! So I had to devise other ways of doing it so that he would participate and this basically involved a lot of sense of humor. I read him a book, A Big Boy Now by Megan Spinelli, and I asked him to pick verbs and nouns from it. Initially, of course he didn’t want to do it, but I coaxed him again and we went page by page. What I did was I wrote the words on a small whiteboard on my lap as he said them in two separate columns. Then, I asked him to pick 3 favorite verbs and 3 favorite nouns. Then we practiced making sentences with them. We took turns and I modeled for him how to make sentences. He doesn’t like to do this and I feel it’s because he doesn’t know how to. So this technique worked alhamdulillah. We even had a lot of fun with it.

By this time, he is almost an expert on verbs and nouns and I found that even on his own, he would pick out verbs and nouns and would come to me,

“okay…____ is it a verb or a noun?”

I’d ask him back “What do you think?”

and he would answer. Like this, it went back and forth, but alhamdulillah, I’m happy he has taken to verb, noun and adjectives. This propelled me to look for other activities on TPT and I printed some on narrative comprehension. I started him doing some very simple book reports too from the TPT, and this has practice in making sentences, noting Beginning, Middle and End, knowing simple terms such as author, illustrator, character, problem, resolution. In fact, this morning, I did the Problem and Solution activity with him, which he did pretty well in. We also talked about the story of the Three Little Pigs (he loves this story) and we tried to figure out the problems and solutions in this story. He needed some prompting and so I think this was a good introduction to the Problem-Solution lesson.

We read Franklin is Bossy and as we read, I asked him comprehension questions. I find that I had to reread the page again in order for him to get the answer because it seems that he wasn’t paying attention to those details as I was reading, but once I repeated it, or pointed out the parts in that page and asked him to read it, he knew the answer. I realized then that I needed to model it a lot before expecting him to answer. I also sensed that asking him comprehensive questions too  much like that was hindering enjoyment of the reading itself, so I reverted back to the style where I would pause every now and then and just relate the text to his experience or my own. For example, I asked him,

“So, did you ever feel lonely playing by yourself?”

“Did you ever fight with H?”

“Wow, that’s like you! He played with his sword and cape! Wow! He draws pictures! That’s like you too!”

“Would you rather play baseball or play in the river like they are?”

“If you get to choose, what would you be, the catcher, pitcher, batter?”

And it seemed to engage him in a way that is not too intrusive to the enjoyment of the reading. So I think this is what I have to keep doing whenever I read to him.

For math, we have gone into fact families. I introduced it by using this Fact Family Puzzle from TPT. Initially he resisted but as soon as he saw the pattern, he was on a roll alhamdulillah. I also did this activity with him for reinforcement and had to point out that for the minus sentence, the biggest number has to be at the very front. And showing him how it switches also helps a lot for the addends. Since he loves playing with the Monster Making 10 game, I also used it to show fact families by selecting 3 number and making a family of it. He loved it when I personalized the monsters especially as ‘Poop’. I think he’s ok with that now, though he did get a bit lost when I gave him a worksheet on fact family.

We also played his file folder game on Contractions, and just now, as he is filling in his simple book report form, I reminded him,

“Remember that hot air balloon folder game, ‘he is’ becomes…?”

and a look of recognition flashed on his face and he wrote ‘he’s’ all by himself. I had pointed out the differences between apostrophes and commas when we were doing the contraction activities.

We also did Place Value by using this activity from TPT.

He’s also been doing Arabic writing now on a daily basis. We use the cards that I received for free, it’s vocab cards. And so we choose one word per day and I demonstrate how to write the word and he completes the page in his writing book. For copywork, I have him do sentences from Talibideen Jr’s website (can’t find the exact link).

For tajweed, I’ve been a bit harder on him and my Quran teacher also advised me to keep correcting him and to constantly do this, even if I think he can’t do it. So, this has been something I’ve been doing too and alhamdulillah it works!

As for the older kids, I’m having a lot of trouble with N. Her therapist said that she has to go for therapy for narrative again and exposition. When I was talking to her supervisor, she told me,

“This is really hard on you. You’re the mother, teacher, special ed educator…”

I am feeling the burden too…subhanallah..and with N, since I’ve been dealing with her all these years, I have a really short fuse when she comes with attitude problems. And this is a problem for me and for her. Sigh. May Allah help us. Ameen.

S received her PSAT scores. She did better than last time but not enough to get the merit scholarship. Alhamdulillah ala kulli 7aal.

H is doing a MOOC class on computer science now. He insists on wanting to use MUS for Algebra 2 and I really want them all to use Teaching Textbook because in the case that they don’t know how to do something, TT comes with solution CDs; something  that makes my job so much easier. So I told him to look on vegsource everyday and by January 2014, if he can’t find it, he will use TT. I am tired of having to do so many things. I’m putting the responsibility on him.

I’m feeling really overwhelmed, really overwhelmed subhanallah. The thing is, I don’t feel like I want to do this anymore, this homeschooling business even though I believe in it….especially seeing as how taxing it is to work with Z and N, and thinking that I have to do this for how many more years….I don’t know if I can do it.




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The Sunday School Teacher

So…..N now volunteers at the Sunday school. It has been like that for a while now. S quit because she couldn’t stand the little rowdy kids who wouldn’t listen (lol). But N seems to love working with the little kiddies. In fact, so much so that she is like the teacher that the kids love!

She plays with them, lets them ride her a horse. Once I came to the masjid and found her being ridden by the little girls. She said she has always wanted a baby sister and that’s why she loves playing with the younger girls. Hmm…how about that?

S has resumed going to volunteer at the girls and boys club with Jn. She doesn’t have patience with young kids. Oh boy. In this case, N is a lot like hubs. Maybe S is kind of like me.

Alhamdulilah…at least they’ve kind of discovered their niches.


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Kid Updates

I know….long time no post. Have been overwhelmed and swamped with a multitude of things. I wanted to make posts of our trip, but that has been going slow too.

I thought I should post this before I forget though, because I remember what is precious about this blog; it captures in words the kids’ antics and cute sayings that I will most probably forget years later. So, before I forget, I thought I’d do this really quick.

I told Z recently,

“Z, when you turn 7 inshaaAllah, you get to pick one prayer to do. When S, N, and H were 7, they got to pick 1 prayer too.”

Then I asked N and S who were there which prayer they picked at that age.

This was how I trained the kids to pray. At age 7, I gave them the options of zuhr and asr to pick from. However, once they pick a prayer, they have to completely commit to it, no matter what. Then, I usually observe them for a few months and if I feel they are ready (in terms of commitment and mastering the details), I let them choose another prayer, and so on. By age 10, they would have committed to all 5 prayers. So far, alhamdulilah, I found that this technique works with the older kids. Once they commit, they had to the prayers even while we were traveling or when they were sick, as Allah has made the prayer such an important thing that even when you can’t move your limbs, you can still move your eyes.

I find that it teaches them the responsibility of commitment. Rather than have them do all 5 prayers at once (which can be overwhelming), I thought, why not introduce this gradually, and train them the art of commitment? Ease them into it and let them learn to love it (by making it a choice that they get to make and withholding the rest of the prayers from them and giving a period of time before they get to choose another one). I remember when I was figuring out this method, I was mulling over how to make it their choice, and not something forced upon them. I love that it becomes something where they are making the choice.

And alhamdulillah, Z recently told me,

“I want to be 7.”


“Because of Zuhr.”

Alhamdulillah he’s already anticipating this ‘stage’! I had asked him what prayer he would choose when he turns 7. He said maghrib. Usually, I am the one who lays out the options, because obviously, I don’t want them to start with fajr (summer – long daylights, early fajr etc) or isha (late isha in summer). The two first options have always been zuhr and asr. When he said maghrib, I thought to myself,

Hmm..how about that? That is usually hectic time, and if we’re travelling, that can be a bit tricky.

But I guess I’ll wait till he’s 7 and then decide  or let him make a pick again, inshaaAllah.

Another incident that happened, he came to me and suddenly said,

“Al Mala2; the chiefs the elite, wa laa, do not..”

He was parroting the word to word translation from S’s Taleem course. I was SO surprised!

Yesterday, he said,

“I want to take class.”

“What class? Sunday school?’

Because last week, both N and H had SEMAA for the whole week, so I was dropping and picking them up throughout the week. Z asked me where they were and when he found out they had ‘class’, he wanted to go to ‘class’ too. So I offered him to go to Sunday school. He did. Due to his allergies, S followed along just to watch and make sure he doesn’t get cross contamination from the other kids eating Doritos etc. They told me that during the class where the teacher asked each child to recite surah Al falaq, Z looked down, canopied his face with his hands and wept silently, tears rolling down his cheeks, probably out of fear and shyness to recite while the other kids were listening. LOL. When he came home though, he showed me his worksheets, and I asked him if he liked Sunday school. He smiled and nodded. LOL.

That was the last Sunday school for this school year though. So, I guess I’ll have to figure out in fall if I will send him to Sunday school again. It’s up to him, but it will also depend on how I feel about it, based on the other kids, and time, and influence.

So when I asked him the question above, he replied,

“Like S’ class.”

“Well, how about when S has class, you just sit with her and listen?”

“No, I want my own class.”


He’s been doing great with his IQRA and hifdh alhamdulillah, though it has been less consistent since I started going to the masjid 3 times a week for the Quran summer intensive. My schedule has been hectic, but may Allah accept it ameen!

H slept over at Fr and Fh’ house last weekend. I felt uneasy about it, but at the time that their mother asked me, I didn’t know how to refuse the invitation. Plus, Fh looked so excited that I felt bad saying no. I didn’t have truthful legit excuses either. That night, I felt really bad. Made dua. Alhamdulillah, I think it was okay. InshaaAllah. May H be a stronger influence on others and not be influenced by less than good company. May he also be surrounded with good company. Ameen.

H and N are now attending therapy (speech for stuttering) and learning techniques) at the university, twice a week. I was introduced to the Cornell Note taking method for N. I find it interesting and it looks efficient. Nice. I hope it helps N gain more comprehension and help her stay on top of her school work.

Recently, Al Huda had the Graduation convocation for all the courses graduating in 2012 and also including TQEE. S made a surprise chocolate cake for me. No wonder…days before, she had asked me randomly,

“What’s your favorite dessert?”

Absent-mindedly, I answered, “Chocolate cake, with chocolate fudge, yum!”

When we went grocery shopping, on the list was brown sugar, butter, etc and I was remarking,

“What do you need these for? What are you guys making?”

She didn’t answer.

That Saturday morning, as I sat listening to the convo in my room, she made the cake downstairs. So, in spite of my high cholesterol, I am eating meat and cake…oh boy.

photo 2

photo 3

It was really good mashaaAllah! This time, the cake rose higher than the first time she made it before. S has always been hesitant about baking cakes before, so alhamdulillah now I think she gets the hang of it. Part of the homeschooling for me is also developing life skills. I do want them to know how to navigate the kitchen and make food and desserts. Chores is also part of it too, though we’re faring a bit worse there in terms of upkeep of their bathroom cleanliness. It has robbed me of some sleep just thinking about it.

I’m already planning next year’s school plan. N and H are starting 9th grade together inshaaAllah. I’m enrolling them in online classes on Currclick. This summer so far, they have been attending a class on Home2Teach and they like it. I like it too, so I might continue that for fall too. Homeschool Book Study is GREAT too for English. I think I may just stick with that for all 4 years! Both N and H are taking Biology this coming school year with Currclick. I hope the experience is a good one, because that would solve the problem I have in figuring out how to do high school science for them. We’ve tried other ways, but I’m not satisfied.

So InshaaAllah, Ramadan is coming soon. I’m in the midts of hecticness…and I have written out what my plans are for the kids this Ramadan. The older kids will do Quran journaling where they will pore over 1 juz per day, read the translations and journal what struck them, their reflections on certain passages etc. I figured these kids are too old now for me to be doing those fancy activities I used to do with them all these past years. I have been asking them to help me plan for Z though. So far it looks like the work is falling upon me. Sigh.

However, I have a rough plan for Z. We will hang 30 balloons, one for each day, filled with scrolls of paper containing the name of Allah for the day, and other stuff (haven’t figured that out yet). I’m suposed to prepare worksheets for him too for this. I think I may delegate this to the kids since I’m so short of time nowadays. Subhanallah.We’re not even going to the library regularly anymore because going out 3 times a week seems to sap my energy in this desert heat.




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Tight, Tight, Tight

I guess I’ll do this in bullet points :

  • H is doing Algebra 2 now, alhamdulillah. He finally finished Math U See Alg 1 and started TT Algebra 2 upon my insistence
  • I really like WriteGuide. Seems like N is improving in her writing, and S just started sending her essays (off of Bedford Readers) too, once a week on Fridays
  • Z is doing well on his calendar notebook alhamdulillah and has just started Book 4 with IQRA and is enthusiastically writing out the tanweens on the portable white boards
  • we were recently working on idhaafah and especially the table of huwa, humaa, hum, hiya etc and I told N to make flashcards and work on it because she was having trouble with it. It caught Z’s attention and we even tested her and ourselves with it and all of a sudden, Z is writing anta by himself on the whiteboard, though he asked why there isn’t any tashkeel on the noon. He didn’t connect the letters though. This morning, he asked me to write antuma. This is what we call accidental learning. The older kids are doing something and the younger one picks up
  • I’m not doing that much with Z now because my weeks are becoming tighter as we come to a close on my course inshaaAllah
  • H and N are reading the Trumpet of  the Swan for literature
  • Alhamdulilah so far, so good in terms of my stress level in January, because before, when I saw what I was in for in January, I was anxious because it was going to be tight but Allah made it easy and I’m not as stressed as I thuoght I would be alhamdulillah. May it remain this way and get better ameen!


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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.

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!

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