Wednesday, May 11, 2016

April Musings

Alhamdulellah, I find myself with a bit of time to come and reflect on this beautiful green but chilly and damp month!

April is my birth month, and this year I celebrate the big 3-0!! It seems a big deal to me. It took 30 years for me to be as I am, learn what I have learned, be where I find myself today.

One fun thing is that I no longer feel shy to be more "ladylike". I don't know why but before, I always felt that I should be more tomboyish, and that dressing ladylike was for older women. Now I know that its all these silly labels we put on people and numbers. If you want to dress dignified and classy, then do it! I think I used to feel guilty before, thinking that it is somehow too dunya-oriented to do so. Now I know that it doesn't matter what you own, or how you dress (to some extent): what matters is what owns YOU, your behavior, how you treat others, how attached you become to things, and how much you can maintain a connection to Allah while living your normal daily life.

So I am celebrating a lot of the beautiful designs I see from INAYAH! I love how elegant and beautiful and modern and classy the models look, with clothes that are LONG and LOOSE! Its awesome! I am celebrating by getting mah greedy lil paws on it!

Image result for inayah abaya

The awesome thing is that I needed a dress for going to a wedding, and now that I have purchased one from INAYAH, I won't need to layer a jacket or anything!! I'm so exited about that! It arrived today, and the fit is perfect--it is fitted enough to let me feel like a female, but not tight enough to make me feel self-conscious. I am looking forward to wearing it. :)

Other April Musings:

I was re-reading my hijab protocols from a previous post, and I've decided that really, we can have a general set of guidelines, but that every woman is a little different and will internalize and actualize hijab in her own individual way.

Example: a friend of mine with very very light skin, and light colored eyes told me recently that she just can't wear any eye makeup outside, to mixed weddings and such because it really brings a lot of attention to her eyes! But those of us with darker skin and eyes can get a way with a bit of makeup while still looking pretty natural. I love that we don't need a blanket set of conduct to appreciate a general rule of modesty.

But that makes me realize even more that while we must use a strong sense of moral judgement to understand what is best for us to do, we can't judge others if they color outside of our lines. Like, I know I wrote that wearing 6 inch heels= major sex appeal, so they must be avoided. I would still follow that rule for myself, and I wouldn't encourage my daughters to wear them, per se, but I wouldn't immediately look at a muhajibah and then see her shoes and gasp: "oh! she doesn't have good hijab!" I just pray that everyday, I am doing my best to do things properly, and that instead of focusing on others I am working hard on myself. :)

Great Books and Resources

Assalamu Alaikum!

I've read some great books recently, with the kids and by myself. So here are some recent recommendations:

The Prince's Breakfast by Joanne Oppenheim

I found this book at the read-a-long section of my library. The story is so fun to listen to, especially since it is read by Hugh Bonnoville (Downton Abbey), so that is an extra little treat for my senses as I picture Lord Grantham rading about a little prince who is so picky he refuses the most alluring treats. His distraught parents take him on a food tour around the world, but each time the Prince turns his nose at the exotic delicacies offered to the royal family. There is a silver lining though, when a certain condiment is introduced to the prince, which makes every item on the menu appetizing (finally!)

I like this book b/c there is a happy ending for the parents of the picky eaters. I've read too many other books that merely introduce the idea of pickiness to children (WHY on God's green earth would you want to do that!???!!), and then leave the kids with this bad lesson. Since the prince eventually discovers a taste for all foods, I give this book a thumbs up!

Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and Bill Archaumbault

Princess Buttercup really enjoyed the lyrics and rhymes and rhythm of this story when she listened to it on CD. I wasn't in love with it myself, but it was sweet to hear her walk up to a window and absently recite the ABC song by heart. The tale follows the alphabet as they race each other up a coconut tree. There are several readings on the CD, and it even has a song that reads the ABC backwards. I list this story here b/c my almost 5 year old really enjoyed repeating the rhythm!

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Image result for longbourn by jo baker

I've read all of Jane Austen's novels and have watched Pride & Prejudice many times over. So when I saw this novel about the servants who live at Longbourn and serve the Bennett family, I couldn't refuse! The story follows one of the young ladies employed by the Bennetts, and how her perception of herself and what she wants from life changes when she meets a handsome but mysterious new stable boy (I know, I know that sounds really cliche). I thought it was fascinating to hear Ms. Baker detail the day-to-day work of cleanliness, cooking, and survival! I have always wondered about the back-story to life during the Napoleanic Wars--how did women groom themselves? How did one use the bathroom? But it would be such an injustice to Longbourn if I said the novel only details the work of servants. Its about the world view of society at the time; its taking the microscope of Lizzie's keen eyes and turning it up one a notch, so that instead of merely seeing the snobbery of the nobility as compared to the gentle, if struggling, middle class, we see the snobbery of everyone above the serving class! I thought it was fresh, realistic, and eye-opening.

Sisters of Shiloh by Becky Hepinstall Hilliker and Kathy Hepinstall

Image result for sisters of shiloh

Don't get fooled by the flower on the cover! This is NOT a nice, relaxing bed-time read. Its the story of a sister, haunted by the memory of her husband's commitment to the Confederate Army and the cause of the South, who sneaks away to join the army, only to be shadowed by her older sister who cannot bear to see her walk into danger alone. Its a gripping story of sister-hood, longing, refining our values, trust, survival, and of course, love. It follows the sisters through dirty and cold experiences of camp life to the dangerous and gory battle grounds. It was very well written, and a fun read despite all the blood and violence b/c it takes place in my current home state!

And now for helpful resources:

Settling Limits for Your Strong Willed Child by Robert J. Mackenzie

Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child Audiobook

This is a FABULOUS guide for parents who have strong-willed children. Trust me, you KNOW if you have a strong-willed child if he or she ignored your requests multiple times. I love the concepts presented in this book b/c its about maintaining respect, NOT dominating your child's spirit or crushing it or making them into little obedient minions. Its about very clearly and effectively communicating expectations and teaching children to make GOOD CHOICES.

Man. It is SO HUMBLING, so frustrating to feel like as a parent, you just don't know HOW to parent your child!!! It can drive you straight up the wall. But none of that is going to help your child learn good behavior; it just leaves you feeling guilty, drained, disrespected, and disconnected from your child.

If you feel like that give this book a good read!

Discipline That Works By Kirk Martin


A very dear friend lent me this CD set and,,,I tell you, I had NO IDEA I was sitting on a golden treasure! The CD's are a much shorter listen than sitting to read a book, so if you are pressed for time, pop one of these babies into a CD player and fold s pile of laundry while you give yourself an edu-ma-cation! The take-aways are very similar to the book outlined above. You may laugh at yourself when Kirk mentions things we as parents have done to dig our own traps. Its amazing that we can do such simple things that can still be effective!!!

Check out more excellent resources on the website:

I hope you enjoy and find these books and resources as helpful as I have!!