Easy Ramadan Prep for Busy Moms – Biscuits & Banarsi Style

Ramadan is only a week away!

I haven’t been able to get into the Ramadan Spirit so I thought i’d make a guide for myself and other Moms who want to be hyped for Ramadan!One of the reasons that I’ve been dragging my feet is because there is so much to do that it seems over whelming! so if making the 20,000 Samosas, decorating the house, while catching up on spiritual goals feels daunting…your not the only one!

Follow these easy  instructions to get you caught up in the Ramadan Spirit in no time  Inshallah!

1. Jam those Ramadan Nasheeds – (Click here for our favorites)

Current-Music

2.Organize a Samosa Fest – Call your family and friends and arrange a samosa making party (click here to see how one family makes it their annual tradition)

samosa featured image

3. Decorate your house for Ramadan (click here for our guide)

www.ranoon.com

www.ranoon.com

4. Make Ramadan baskets for your neighbors! (Our guide to making Ramadan Baskets)

fruit

 

5. Start your Ramadan Journal – a Journal in which you write the duas that you want to make during the blessed month

ramadan journal

 

 

 

But There’s no Costco in the City

On Monday I went to go visit my bestie in the city, I walked into her cool artsy studio in the district with my 2 year old in tow. Bundles of magazines, a cheerful Buddha and a beautiful painting that her grandmother had painted were on the side of the wall.

We caught up on each others weekend, scanned family pictures on Facebook and then got ready to walk to the zoo. I was happily sitting on the couch sipping my chai but my friend insisted that we walk. She is very focused on health and fitness and for fun likes to walk. I have a hard time understanding why I was being forced to walk when I had just made a comfy warm spot on the couch.  I reluctantly agreed and we grabbed cereal in a ziplock for Hassan and began our walk.

I saw several moms walking with their strollers down the busy sidewalk  and I turned to my friend and said with gratitude “I love living in the ‘burbs.'” She looked back at me surprised and asked why?

I stammered and said  there’s no Costco in the city! Where would I get diapers from? Other thoughts flashed through my head… Where would I park my car (parking is so difficult in the city), who would be my childs pediatrician?

She calmly responded to these absurd  concerns by saying “Saman there are doctors in the city,”  and  she added you wouldn’t have to park because you can walk everywhere or use the metro.

I wasn’t convinced,  “How would I walk everywhere and what about my double stroller, it won’t fit in the Metro!” She replied saying that I  would just need to change my double stroller so that its the stackable kind.

“Didn’t everyone want to move to the burbs when raising a family?” I thought to myself, why do I have to explain to my friend that the city is not a place to raise kids. But what seems like a very obvious choice in my head doesn’t hold true for my friend and many other people.  The appeal for my friend was about accessibility, she wanted to skip the whole loading the kids in the car process  and just walk to places in the city. She thought that the city lifestyle is a more active lifestyle with lots of more opportunities to explore area parks and take advantage of the diverse cultural experiences. I agree with her I feel that kids would be exposed to many more different types of people and  would be engaging with people on the street, in the metro and even the elevators of their own apartment buildings.

I’m not sure I would be able to appreciate raising a family in the city because I feel that the most important thing for me is an active Mosque community.  Things like an Halal meat store and a Pakistani grocery store would be very neccesary and I have become a total suburbanite with my easy access parking to walmart, my costco membership and my kids love for Chuck E. Cheese.

While the city life is not for us  I now realize that what seems like a hassle to me (living in the city with young kids) is loved and valued by many people. It’s about changing perspective and adjusting to the surroundings around you. I think there are pros and cons to raising kids in the city but I think that is something that each family has to decide for themselves.

The city kids may not have easy access to suburban malls  and Chuck E. Cheese but if my friend decides to have kids Im sure her kids would be very well acquainted with the zoo, the Smithsonian Museums and without a doubt will be much cooler than me.

 

 

Connecting our Kids to Nature

I’m not a nature person, if anything  i’m more of a city person or better yet, who am I kidding… i’m a lazy suburban person, yup that’s more like it! The way I see it I have two alter egos, these are reflected in my cars; The Toyota Prius or the Toyota Sienna (minivan y’all for the single women out there)

The Prius side of me is cool, environmentally savy ( this means I basically Recycle, thats it) and creative…did I mention i have a blog?

The Sienna is like the comfortable pair of pajamas that I like to lounge in but would change if someone was to come over, I love the mini van its so easy to access the kids car seats, their stuff and is a smooth ride.

But  I want to get away from the lazy suburban side and push myself to be more connected with the outdoors. I want my kids to love and appreciate nature and inshallah with that they will learn about Allah and his creations. I was watching the MBC documentary on Umar (RA –  The third caliph) in which I learned that he was a shepard and enjoyed the countryside. I  thought of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and of the times he spent where he disconnected himself from modern conveniences and went into the Cave of Hira to have moments of clarity and reflection. Also I was reminded of the prophet Ibrahim and his observation of the moon and the sun which led him to Allah.

We live in such artificial environments with temperature controls and technology that it is difficult for me to disconnect and just get away from the cycle of these environments. I always am thinking of the load of laundry that I can put in or the dishes that are waiting in the sink, but I’ve decided that inshallah I will make spending time outside a priority and will try to incorporate reading Asr (afternoon prayer) out on my deck.

I’m in awe of people who take time to garden and who live active lifestyles and for leisure go hiking and biking, I want to get to that point, but im going to take small steps first! Such as sitting on  the deck and the backyard and appreciating the wonders of the sky and breathing in the evening air.

If I don’t do it then the kids won’t either. It’s easier to let the kids learn about nature in front of the television but that will not help them build a connection. I want them to run barefoot in the grass, touch the dirt, pick up leaves, and use their imaginations. So far its been great we’ve been spending time outside and Humza brings me little flowers (a sweet thing his aunt Cate taught him to do.)

I am scared of bugs and and I had passed that fear to Humza too, but yesterday Humza called me and said he wanted to show me something and I followed him to the window where he bent down and said, “See Momma a spider and its web.” I asked him if he was scared and he replied back saying that no the spider was his friend. I was so pleased and I thought to myself that I will have to tell him the story of the spider and the spider web that hid the Prophet Muhammad from the Quryash.

These are exactly the types of discoveries and friends that I want my kids to have. I want to replace Big Bird on Sesame street with the red robin that comes to our tree. Replace the purple dinosaurs with the green little lizards and hopefully engage in discussions and play which are educational and fun. Hey maybe next year I’ll even start a garden like my friend Ruku!

http://107.170.109.15/2012/08/09/gardening-with-ruku-discover-the-fun-in-your-backyard/

 

 

Eid For Kids: quick tips to make this Eid an unforgettable one!

Ramadan is almost over, and one of the most important holidays of the year will be coming up very soon inshallah! Lets make sure that along with the food preparations and the guests that we try to build the excitement of Eid with our kids Inshallah!

Here are a few ideas that I have found:

1.Eid Coloring Sheets – Start of your Eid prep by going to this site and printing out free coloring sheets, let your kids color on the pages and then you can incorporate them into a frame on your Fireplace mantel or even just stick onto the fridge! When family or guests come they can proudly display their Eid Coloring pages. Eid Coloring Pages

2.Eid Cards –  Create or buy Eid Cards and and have your kids (depending on the age) draw or write something in the card, then go to to the post office and explain that the cards will be sent to  family members who can’t be wth us this Eid. You can encourage family and friends to also send mail back to the child who will be so happy to recieve their own letter. This can be a great learning experience about the post office and shows children the importance of family. (This idea was from the Adams Playgroup)

3. Eid Goody Bags – This next idea came from Pinterest (does anyone else love Pinterest?) Get white paper bags, get creative with stamps and tell the kids they are making Eid Goody Bags for their friends or siblings! Go to the store and let them pick a few items for their goody bag and assemble and keep to give on Eid! This craft teaches sharing and liking for others what you like for yourself.

www.littlelifeofmine.com

4.Eid Baking – Most kids like being around the kitchen and which kid wouldn’t like making special Eid Cupcakes or cookies! Get some crescent shaped cookie cutters a cookie mix and some sprinkles, let the fun begin! Here are some more creative recipes

5. Eid Presentation at class –  Arrange with your  child’s teacher when you can come in to explain or talk about Eid. Wear traditional clothes, take some thing to eat and depending on the age of the kids you can read a book like this one: Eid Books

6. Eid Gifts – Buy your kids Eid gifts! It doesn’t matter what it is as along as it is wrapped! Simple things like a candy bar, little coloring books, a pack of crayons can be wrapped and the kids will love opening their gifts inshallah! One website (http://www.askazizah.com/advice/makingeidfun.htm) had a great idea which was to wrap the presents a few days earlier and keep them in a room where the kids don’t normally go. In the evening before they go to bed you can let them see their gifts and say today you can only touch the gift but you can’t open them until Eid! This would help build up the anticipation and teach them patience!

7. Eid Decorations – Decorate your houses homemade crafts, store bought items – now we have companies like Modern Eid and Eid Creations which also give us more variety. Use Lights, balloons and make it a family event.

8. Eid Morning Suprise –  Balloons – This idea was so heartwarming one of the blogs suggested that parents fill up the kids room with balloons so when they wake up  on Eid morning to colorful balloons!

9. Eid games – Have a few age appropriate games at your Eid gatherings, some ideas are to fill up a pinata, play passing the parcel or have some sort of relay race or scavenger hunt in the yard. Prizes would be an added bonus.

10. Eid Takbeer – On the drive to the Mosque have the whole famly recite the Eid Tasbeeh – its is a Sunnah and is a  beautiful recitation.

Eid Takbeer: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd.”

(Translation: Allah is the greatest, He is the greatest. There is no god except Allah. He is the greatest. All praises and thanks are for Him)

 

Keep the Kids Busy this Ramadan, While Staying Cool

 

It’s Ramadan but its also summer and that means long days, no schools and potentially cranky and bored kids!

Here are a few suggestions to beat the heat, while keeping the young ones entertained. A Ramadan tip is to do Ibadah while watching the kids grab your Quran in your purse or do Zikr while watching the kids have a great time!

1. Any indoor mall play areas: My favorite is the Fair Oaks mall play area it’s large enough and has many little things for the kids to climb on and explore. I have been to the Dulles and Tyson’s corner one as well, whichever is closer and convenient usually wins in my book.

 

2. Local public library: With plenty of books, tables and chairs, this is the place where young kids can begin to get exposed to library etiquette and the joys of reading. On certain days there are free book readings or activites, you would have to check on your county’s website for more details.

 

3. Chuck E. Cheese: Indoor play area – tokens are purchased to play the games or for rides, but keeps my kids entertained for hours with a very little hit to the pocket. Best part there are usually plenty of tables with booths for you to sit and read your Quran Tafsir.

 

4.Reston Town Center water sprinklers; Reston, VA – Dress your kids in their bathing suits bring a towel and sit back on the comfortable shaded lawn steps while the kids drain their energy and build up their appetite. If your there later closer to iftaar time there are a lot of dining options just a few steps away http://www.restontowncenter.com/index.php

 

5. Loudoun Sports Bounce, Ashburn Va: Kids will enjoy bouncing all the different bounce courses, large slides and  a playroom for 18 months and older, best part there’s AC and you won’t break a sweat! http://www.sportbounce.com/opengym.php

 

Have other ideas for beating the heat this summer? Please share.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Suitcases and 2 Kids

 

I’ve just settled back home, after a very extended trip to my family’s house in Karachi, Pakistan.

If I feel I have bragging rights over anything at all, it’s that I have quite literally travelled all over the world with my two kids in tow. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this field and I’ve seen it all, from my bags being searched because of the motor in the bouncer, to the more dramatic request of me asking the pilot to turn the plane back to the airport just minutes before takeoff! So for all the mommies getting ready for your summer trips I have some advice for you:

 

1. Make sure everyone has the appropriate visas for all destinations (remember if you have a long layover you may want to leave the airport) and make copies of the passport pages.

 

2. If your child is eligible for a bassinet ( I think there is a weight limit of 20 pounds) ask for a bassinet and bassinet seat with your airline provider.

This is what a bassinet looks like, that’s Humza when he was 3 months, he slept most of the time in that thing.

 

3.Since the liquids that you can take on the plane are limited make a separate medicine bag and put it into a suitcase that is easily identifiable, so when you get to the final destination you are not opening all suitcases trying to find the ear drops or children’s Tylenol.

 

4. If possible ask family or friends ahead of time to research or recommend a pediatrician in the area you will be staying in.

 

5.Prior to traveling, get all shots up to date, ask for a copy of a vaccination records and ask the doctor if they recommend taking any prescriptions with you.

 

6.In your carry on pack enough formula and diapers to last you at least 4 days. This may sound over zealous but there have been times when the suitcase has arrived later or been misplaced.

 

7. Carry  lots of extra clothes (warm ones) in your carry on, my experience is that it’s always cold at the airports and on the plane.

 

8. If your kids are old enough let them pack their own carry on and put their toys, snacks, coloring things in their bag. (a great toy for the plane are those sketch pads with the magnetic pens)

9. Many airline providers offer special kids meals and even baby foods call ahead and see whats available.

 

10. Depending on the airline carseats and strollers are checked in for free, they do require a carseat cover which is available at Babies”R”Us. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3091046

 

Need more tips? Have specific questions? please ask!