Posts Tagged With: Organizing

Our Sunroom (Project/Learning Room)

When we rented this house, the thing that made me pick it was the sunroom. Previously, we had space issues, especially with homeschooling and the kids being inclined in arts and crafts projects. With this sunroom, they could work on their projects and leave it to continue it the next day. Of course, after a while, their on-going projects remained sitting and it drove me crazy. It wasn’t even on-going anymore.

So after the clean up and reorganizing we did a few days ago, we have Z’s Cool Corner/Space and H’s project station. The girls don’t use the room anymore, especially S, though they would still hang out there when reading or when they feel like indulging in arts and crafts.

Z’s Cool Corner/Space.


Now, it’s easy for me to do activities with Z, because I know where things are, and I taught him to always put them back when he’s done with them. So far so good. The hard part is keeping this up.


I moved this shelf from the other side of the room to this corner. I sectioned the whole room into H’s side and Z’s side. I will be working with Z on Z’s side. Makes it a lot easier for me and more motivating for me to do things with him amidst my crazy schedule.


My stuff for him that I hope Z can’t mess with because it’s higher than the other accessible things on this shelf.


Right after we finished setting up his space, he played with the seashells N had collected at the beach of an island we went to when we were in Sumatra visiting my grandmother and relatives in 2010.

He keeps saying hermit crab when holding one of those empty shells. We even have one that looks exactly like a marshmallow and this one in the pic looks like one of those yogurt-covered pretzels. Pretty cool.


H’s Project Station:


H’s electronic and cardboard engineering project station. He argued with me when I told him to just open up this table and use it. He claims it takes too much space, and yes it does,but with no table, his projects are on the floor. This table was the 3 older kids’ school and project table for about 6 years when we were in Ohio.


A crate for his cardboard materials and a trash bag. I told him to have a trash can nearby so he doesn’t end up just leaving a mess while he’s working on a project.


More cardboard material we had collected from the recycling bins at the mall.


More of his cardboard material


I hope this remains neat and tidy till we have to move out.






Categories: Cardboard, Organization | 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!)

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

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

School Year 2012-2013

The American fall school system has always confused me, since in Malaysia, we always start school with the new year, in January. So when it comes to saying which school year it is, for documentation purposes, I’ve always had to think twice even though I’ve been doing this for a while now. We have entered the 2012-2013 school year. To be honest, I think starting the school year in January is less confusing. But, being a 4 season place, it makes more sense to start school in the fall, as summer is the best time to get a school break, or maybe winter would be great too actually.

Anyway, we have officially ‘started’ this new school year, right after Eid. Eid for us is just that one day on Sunday and then it’s back to work. This Saturday the community does have a picnic though and the soup kitchen activity is also this weekend. S is expected to attend a course, and so with regards to her, my school planning for her has been somewhat unorganized. She will start a 22 month course inshaAllah Sep 4, so for now, her schooling is a bit different.

As for N and H, they’re taking quite a number of online classes on Currclick and a Literature Book Study class which started yesterday. They’re now reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I thought that I would outsource some of their learning but I’m realizing that even though it takes some work off my hands, I still have to maybe read as much as I have in the past. I just finished reading the book last night. I’m still not up to date in terms of their school prep to be honest. I’ve just been dealing with a lot and I just really need a break. Alhamdulillah, I do have a break from class till Sep 12 but I still have my other commitments to tend to. There are some days when I feel like I want to give everything up. I’m no superwoman. Subhanallah, may Allah give me that balance in juggling all these responsibilities.

I noticed that N is pretty good with attending online classes. She seems to pay more attention and she seems to participate more. She seems to be one of those people who just thrive in online classes. H on the other hand, seems very distracted. He said the teacher was talking too slowly in the Book Study class. If you ask me, I would say she may be, but with good reason. I think H may be more of a social person, and so online classes bore him. But it suits N really well. This is an interesting piece of observation and realization for me, because I’ve always struggled with teaching N. She’s always left behind because she’s not quick enough in offering verbal responses and she’s one of those people who take a long time to figure out her answers. I have a feeling though, that she may benefit a lot from these online classes inshaAllah. That is a good thing.

As for H, I will just have to figure something else out. I was reading some of my old posts on this blog (the Part 1 one) and I noticed that H has been like this since he was younger. He is antsy, always on the move and that includes his tongue. No wonder he is into engineering and computers. His hands need to be busy with something, and sometimes, even while working, his tongue needs to wag too. Subhanallah, this at times drive me crazy. I believe in letting kids be their individual selves, but seriously, some days, I wish H has a mute button I can just press when I don’t feel like hearing him.

Now, Z. Z is starting kindergarten this year. I am STILL struggling finding time to tend to him believe it or not. You would think that as kids grow older, they can do things on their own, but seriously, I find myself always having to remind these older kids things they already know they have to do again and again and again and again. I hate this part of my job. Seriously. I abhor it. I don’t know what to say anymore.

A part of me has decided to let Z take the relaxed method of learning. Another part of me worries. So far though, somehow, spontaneous things have happened and I do realize that it is learning in process for him, so it’s not that worrisome. He can read but he refuses to. He is a bit resistant when it comes to being tested or being sat down for a traditional method of teaching. Which is fine, but that makes it both harder and easier for me. Harder because sometimes, the traditional way of teaching is easier and it gives more more of a sense of accomplishment (note: I said, gives YOU (the teacher) a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily the student), and easier because the non-traditional way of teaching gives the student a more meaningful learning experience.

Z loves to play around with Google map. He would choose satellite and then zoom in and pan around over landforms. He knows the mountains, ocean, and has been fascinated by maps for some time now. I tried to show him more details of a map but he wasn’t interested. So in a way, it’s kind of hard for me to carve out time for him in terms of a more organized sense. His learning is random and is just a part of life. I am not able to schedule his learning or teaching him except for his Quranic Arabic reading. Even that, I think I have to employ the whiteboard and actually write those words so he would be more compelled to read them. On his own, at random times, he would write the letters and vowels he was learning. So sometimes things like this happens. I can’t always plan teaching him. But subhanallah, I work best on a schedule and so it’s hard for me personally to teach like this. I strongly believe in living learning, but practically, it’s hard for me to do without feeling like I’m lacking somewhere. I know I know. I wrote an article about this, a 4 part article at that, and I still strongly believe it, but it’s another thing reminding myself of this and adjusting my traditional mindset to this in practice.

Z seems to enjoy art too. He loved his painting class. One time, while we were playing tennis, he spotted an ant carrying a leaf scurrying across the court. H and I was on that side of the court, hitting the ball back to hubs. Z was closely observing the ant with utmost fascination. Then, accidentally, H stepped on it and killed the ant. Z came to me with tears in his eyes. His ant was dead. He looked so forlorn, and even though a life was just taken, I couldn’t help but giggle at Z’s reaction. He looked like he was asking for us to bring the ant back to life so he could continue watching it carry the leaf all the way to the outer edge of the court.

But subhanallah, for a child this age, I love to take them on walks. But I don’t do that a lot now, because of where we live. Seriously, what a blessing it was to live in Buckeye Village in Columbus. Here though, we have lovely hummingbirds and it’s quite a sight to see. I guess I’m just going to have to make more effort to spend time with Z. He’s mostly on his own because I’m either too busy with my classes or with the older kids.

Classes only N is taking:

Mammals (Project Based Zoology) – I like the approach taken in teaching this class, and I feel that it suits N’s inclinations and learning style. She has taken classes from the same instructor before this summer and she loves them.

Beginning Art with Oil Pastels – This will be the first time she will taking this class with this instructor

Classes only H is taking:

Science Jim’s Marvelous Magnetism

History Of Weapons – Primitive Throwing Weapons

History of Weapons – Primitive Hand Held Weapons

Classes both H and N are taking together:

History Scene Investigation

Homeschool Book Study for Junior High – I like how the teacher conducts the class and teaches the class. For this, she gives an essay prompt every week, and since it’s too much to pay to get her to grade the kids’ essays, I decided to check their essays myself. Though I’d love for someone other than me to actually critique their essays. I would love to see whether I’m being too easy on them or being too hard on them.


The kids’ WEEKLY schedule looks like this for now:


  • Arabic With Husna (on Bayyinah TV),
  • Nouman’s Tafseer podcast,
  • Math,
  • Worldly Wise (I reverted to using this again),
  • Writing Tips Review (feedback from their weekly essays),
  • H’s Hifdh Session with AW,
  • H’s Soccer


  • Arabic With Husna
  • Nouman’s Tafseer podcast
  • Math
  • Worldly Wise Review (I go over their answers)
  • Homeschool Literature Book Study (live online)
  • History Scene Investigation (live online)



  • Arabic with Husna,
  • Nouman’s Tafseer Podcast
  • Math
  • Mammals (live online)
  • Weapons (live online)
  • Oil Pastel (live online)
  • Magnetism (live online)
  • H’s Soccer
  • First draft of essay due


  • Arabic with Husna
  • Nouman’s Tafseer Podcast
  • Math
  • H’s hifdh session with AW


  • Arabic with Husna
  • Nouman’s Tafseer Podcast
  • Math
  • Essay due
  • Homeschool Literature Book Study Vocab assignment due

The only thing that is still left out is H’s science projects. I am hesitant in getting him the tools for safety reasons. He’s also been asking to start this ebay business and I have yet to make istikharah on it.


The kids’ DAILY schedule:


  • Arabic with Husna
  • Breakfast
  • Nouman’s Tafseer Podcast
  • Shower
  • ‘School’ (whatever occurs on each day as outlined above)
  • Lunch


  • Quran – I review with H on his memorized Suwaar, and listen and check N’s recitation (she has good enunciation and thus tajweed)


  • Dinner
  • Clean up


  • Z’s Quranic Arabic (but I also try to do it in the day while the other kids are doing their work)


  • Bedtime


After making these schedules for and with the kids, I made my own Daily Schedule, which I ask Allah that He grant me continuous tawfeeq to do and stick to as long as it’s good :

  • Quran – review and memorize


  • Quran – review and memorize
  • Breakfast – the kids do Arabic with Husna themselves, though I want to join them. This is what I find challenging in making my schedule.
  • Nouman’s Tafseer Podcast – we listen together and then we have a discussion. I always try to tie in anything they share with how to apply in today’s world
  • School – While they do their work, I work with Z. Or at times I attend their classes too. Or this could also be when I do my various work.
  • Lunch


  • Quran – H’s review and N’s recitation
  • nap – yes, I really need this! I won’t compromise this because lack of sleep has been devastating to me.


  • Dinner
  • Check their math if I didn’t check it anytime earlier in the day
  • Clean up – the kids mostly do this since it’s their chores
  • might do my work if there is time


  • Review TQ with S while she’s here
  • might do my work if there is time leftover after the review with S


  • Quran – review and memorize


I plan to incorporate 2 new regiment in my life after this Ramadan inshaAllah, and with that I hope it will bring more barakah and give me more energy and time to carry out the above schedule. I have not been working out as I would have liked to, but I think I may just do jump rope and some pilates on my own, though my motivation is really really low right now. Sigh.



Categories: Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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