Thursday, March 22, 2012


As a child I remember always making things out of recycled items!  Whenever Id want to give a family member a gift, I would usually make it myself.  MashaAllah Yusuf is now becoming more independent and creative.  He mostly wants to make garages for his toy cars.  Last week I brought his attention to our blue box which I keep in the kitchen.  I told him if he ever sees anything in it that he'd like to take out and make something with, he can help himself (as long as its not cans).
He has taken advantage of my offer and his little imagination has been working hard!
The only problem is, Ibby, the neat freak of our family (who has a fit if a drop of water falls on his pants), keeps finding Yusuf's creations and insisting it must be put in the recycling bin.

So we have a cycle going on in our house:  I put the item in the blue box, Yusuf takes it out and makes something, and when Yusuf's not looking, Ibby puts the item back in the blue box....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crazy Forts

A long time ago I took out a set of Crazy Forts from the resource center.  Then last summer I found a set and bought it from a garage sale.  Its a great activity for the kids, they love it!  Yusuf is slowly getting the hang of building things but most of the tine Baba helps out.  Thanks Baba!

Jelly :)

My Grandma bought us this cute sports themed moulds tray for baking.  To celebrate Yusuf's last day of Winter Session for his sports class, we made jelly with it.  We wanted to send it to the class to share with his friends but it was a little too messy so we just enjoyed it together as a family at home.  The boys were very excited. Yum!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Raising Boys

Very interesting.  Mashallah I really like this guy.  He spoke at the Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers Conference and I bought his book called the Dysfunctional School.  Please listen to what he has to say, especially if you have a boy!
Click here.

Maple Syrup

We went to the Maple syrup festival again this year which alhamdulillah was enjoyable.  Ibby got more out of it this year than he did last.  And my grandma also joined us.  
Heres the post from when we went last year.

First we watched a puppet show presentation all about how maple syrup is made.

We got to ride on this horse and carriage which the kids totally loved!  Last year a tractor pulled us.

The boys hugging the tree to say thank you for giving us maple syrup :)

This year we enjoyed a pancake brunch and kids even got to have some hot chocolate as a treat!

Ibby jumped in every mud puddle possible!  After each puddle, he'd ask me "Its okay?"  

They had a empty barn full of straw and slides and other climbing things for the kids to play around with.

They also had a small farm with typical farm animals.  Ibby wasnt too sure of the goats coming close to his legs though!

The kids learning about how maple syrup is made in the sugar shack.

Quran Competition

Yusuf recently participated in MAC's Quran Competition.  He read surah Ma'un and mashaAllah did well.  They held an awards ceremony for the participants and families.  Yusuf got an award, certificate and lego toy gift set.


Alhamdulillah we were able to take part in a really fun skiing field trip with another homeschooling group!
Kids really enjoyed themselves and Im happy they got this opportunity.  Yusuf has already been skiing twice at the age of five and I havent even been once! haha.  I was always scared to go as a kid.  I wouldnt have taken the initiative to take him on my own but when I heard of this opportunity I took advantage of it = )
We went with RCHE homeschooling group - you can check out their website here.

Staff doing drills with the kids before they got both skis on and went up the hill.

Yusuf fell and I was laughing so hard that I just took pictures, instead of helping him back up. Alhamdulillah he finally managed to get back up on his own. :)

Big boy going up the hill on the cool conveyor belt type thing which took them to the top (actually Yusuf's group only went half way, but good enough)

Movie Night

Alhamdulillah we are very blessed to be apart of something called the Madinah Centre, which is a part of Mercy Mission.  This is where my husband works.  Though it takes up alot of his time and energy, it is definatly worth it.  I am currently helping out with a section of the Madinah Centre called Little Explorers.  Little Explorers is magazine based out of UK but we also do programs at the Madinah based on the magazine.  We have an After School Program every Tuesday and also a Mom n Tots group every Thursday morning.  We also are trying to do monthly events for those who live further away and cant make it to our weekly program.  Our first event was a movie night where we watches the new Zaky video.  
InshaAllah Ill post more about what we do at the Madinah center, and if you live close by, wed love to have you join us inshaallah!
Heres the trailer of the movie we watched - click here.
To learn more about Mercy Mission please click here.
To learn more about Little Explorers Magazine, you can check it out here.  But please email me at for subscription info and discounts!

We gave out apple juice and popcorn to all the kids

Kids came in their pajamas and brought blankets and pillows :)

Monday, March 5, 2012


Alhamdulilah I was blessed with the opportunity to attend an amazing seminar this weekend called Chronicles of the Shariah [and double blessed to have an awesome Mom who babysat the boys for the most part of the weekend! = )].  To be honest with you, when I first heard of it I was not interested since the whole topic of madhabs/different schools of thought confuses me and is something which I have never gotten into.  But alhamdulilah Allah swt guided me and I eventually decided I would take the class.  Mashallah it was not as difficult as I expected and my eyes were opened to alot of issue I had initially avoided.  However, I must be honest here again, I am still slightly confused [especially since I missed the last chunk of the class which got into some important topics].  Overall I have walked away from the course not with a deep understanding of the different madhabs, but with a new found love and respect for the ulama [scholars] of our Ummah [nation of Islam]!

As a homeschooling mother, and as time goes by and my kids are starting to get older, whenever I take a course or learn something new I try to think of how I can use this knowledge and benefit my family.  No, I cant exactly sit down with Yusuf tomorrow and share my notes with him about how fiqh has evolved, but I can teach him the names and stories of some of these ulama.  And even then, he may not fully understand or respect this knowledge as much as I can as an adult but at least I can plant the seed.

Not only did I walk away from this class with a new found love and respect for the Ulama, but I also walked away with so much motivation and encouragement to continue homeschooling!  Im not saying I will force my children to become scholars of Islam if they do not want to.  But as their mother I know I want to instill the love for the deen and the ilm in them from a young age.  And quite frankly, I dont think this can be done to its full potential in the modern school system [and Im talking about Islamic schools, I wont even bring up the option of Public Schools!].

I feel that by being homeschooled a child is able to reach such a higher potential, not just academically but also in terms of akhlaaq and maturity.  By having my kids at home, I have the freedom to take them to lectures and events whenever I want [if they were in school, I dont think Id keep them at an AlKauthar class till 9pm on a school night].

Take Jummuah for example.  I am amazed at how much Yusuf has learned at the age of four, simply by attending regular Jummah Khutbahs for the most part of his short life.  He has almost completely memorized the opening of a khutbah (which I cant even say).  If he was in school, he'd only be attending Jummah on long weekends and summer holidays.  MashaAllah just from sitting in the mesjid close to the Imam, observing his tones and gestures, Yusuf has developed a love for doing his own khutbahs at home.  He will get up on our sofa and start of with the ayaat and hadith which the imaam usually says and then goes into his own khutbah.  Okay, maybe he wont make complete sense in what hes saying but Im amazed to watch the passion that comes out of him... and I know the way hes speaking, his hand gestures and tone, is not from me, rather from the imams which he has observed.

Today at the AlKauthar class, the instructor, Sh Musleh Khan began to do an imitation Sheikh Mukhtar AsShinqiti and I told Yusuf that the sheikh was imitating another sheikh just like he does at home. His eyes just lit up and he was completely mesmerized.

Mashallah we are blessed in our family that my husband works with an Islamic organization and often gets to interact with influential people.  And we have taken advantage of this opportunity to allow Yusuf to interact with such people (and inshaAllah as Ibraheem gets older, him as well).  One time, Sheikh Bilal Ismaeel was visiting from South Africa and my husband had to pick him up from the airport, take him to the hotel etc and alhamdulilah he took Yusuf along with him.  For months after Yusuf would speak so highly of Sh Bilaal and remember little things about him.  The main thing he loved and learned from him was the saying "HayakAllah."  To this day ( over two years later!)  Yusuf still remembers Sheikh Bilaal, and that phrase.

These are opportunities which I believe, and ask Allah to help shape a child and instill the love of deen.  Yes of course the success of scholars of the past was from Allah swt, but their environment had a huge influence on who they turned out to be.  And if I had Yusuf in school, ya maybe hed have lots of fun playing spiderman and batman with other four year olds, but he would rarely (if ever) have the opportunity to have these experiences that I have mentioned.  [Yes, I still believe kids should be kids and have the chance to play... you can refer back to my previous post and what I said re: socialization inshaAllah.]

This also brings me to the topic of hijrah.  I never used to understand why people were so big on moving to an 'Islamic country.' But as I think more about my children's future, the more I understand why people think this way.  I wont even get into the 'evil' that is in the West because thats not my main reason.  I once told a friend of mine who is very passionate hijrah that I didnt get why she was so big on it.  I told her that you cant find a perfect Muslim country, or even one close to it... that there's so much corruption there as well, so whats the point?!  And she said something that has stuck in my head!  She said that though corruption may be widespread there, and you will even find horrible people there... but that is where you also find the best of the best of this Ummah.  Subhanallah after taking this course this weekend I understand this even more.  Even those figures we look up to here in North America that live amoung us today, they were not all born here, and if they were they went overseas to gain their knowledge.  And though the knowledge could technically be made available here through books and computers... its the akhlaaq that students must learn first.  I believe its only when you are sitting in the presence of a great scholar and have this exposure that you can fully develop true love and respect of the deen and ilm.  And we dont have that here.

No, this doesn't mean Im ready to pack my bags and move to a muslim country tomorrow, or even within a few years.  But I now believe that a muslim cannot reach their full potential as a student of knowledge by remaining permanently in these lands.  At the least I think it is essential to travel (even if temporarily) to gain true ilm... and I pray that Allah swt grants us the means to do this.

May Allah SWT help us to do not only what is right for our children, but that which is best for them!  May He give us the strength and patience and wisdom that we need to raise leaders of our Ummah. May He help us to  have and achieve high goals in life and to accomplish that which will please Him and also increase our sources of sadaatul jaariyah, Ameen.

Id like to share this video which I feel is a perfect ending to my weekend of being encouraged and motivated... please watch.

Friday, March 2, 2012

why WE homeschool

I know its been really slow around here with my posts! Inshaallah I plan on being more regular.  The main reason why I had the long break in posting was because we had a pretty long break in homeschooling.  In September we put Yusuf in school.  He attended JK at an Islamic school which has a very good reputation for their Islamic and Arabic Curriculum.  We didn't put him in school because we were finished with homeschooling, we made this decision because mashallah we were blessed with the opportunity to perform Hajj last year.  In preparation of leaving Yusuf for three weeks, we figured putting him in school would not only help him cope with being separated from us, but also keep him busy while we were gone.  During this time Ibraheem and I also were going to school.  Ibraheem went to the daycare and I attended Taleemul Quran classes.  The three of us were going to school Mon - Fri, 8am-4pm everyday for about two months.  I went through alot of mixed emotions during this time (having Ibby cry for me every single day shred my heart to pieces!) and both my husband and I came away from this experience with a lot more insight on how we would like to raise our family.

I strongly considered keeping Yusuf in school for the entire school year.  Alhamdulllah mashallah he did much better adjusting than I expected.  He didn't love school, but he didn't hate it either.  His teacher was awesome and actually a good friend of mine, and even a former homeschooler! [ you can find her blog here]. But while away on hajj we both had alot of time to reflect on our lives and goals in life.  And of course, after pleasing Allah, doing whats best for our family is at the top of the list!  And the day we arrived home was the day we took Yusuf out of school. 

After returning from hajj, keeping Ibby in the preschool long term was not even an option.  Having Yusuf stay was something we considered, but after talking about it with my husband we decided it was best to return to homeschooling.  We also sat down with Yusuf and asked him what he thought.  He had a huge smile on his face when we gave him the option of staying home again.  

Before I was even pregnant with Yusuf, I was interested in homeschooling and when I brought the idea up with my husband back then he thought I was crazy!  After having Yusuf and as I got more involved in the homeschooling community my husband became more open minded.  But it wasn't until we put Yusuf in school that my husband became fully supportive of homeschooling and agreed that it was best for us!

As I said, we learned a lot in those two months where we were all attending school.  It was a difficult period for me but Im glad we went through it because my eyes were really opened and I appreciate our homeschooling lifestyle much more now.

Here are a few of my thoughts regarding our choice to homeschool:

*When I think back to the days where we were all going to school, the main thing I remember is chaos! I always felt so rushed!  I didn't feel like I was enjoying my kids and I felt like we were all in our own world... my husband with work, Yusuf with Jk... Ibby with preschool and me with my class.  By the time we all got home at the end of the day we didn't have the time or energy to enjoy one another.  Weekdays were all about school: rushing to get ready in the morning, going to school, coming home tired, rushing dinner n bed n then doing it all over again the next morning.  Yes, homeschooling can be crazy busy at times, but I feel that it gives us the opportunity to enjoy each other much more than we did while in school.

*I feel that we are much more involved in our children's lives.  When Yusuf was going to school, wed have the typical ask him, "How was your day?" Hed reply "Fine." Wed ask "What did you learn?"  Hed say, "Nothing."  I know this is normal and I dont believe he learned nothing... but its common for kids to forget or just not want to talk much once they get home.  With homeschooling, were constantly learning together and I think its such an amazing opportunity to watch our kids grow and share so many memorable experiences with them.  Yes, Im being selfish...I want to be the one who watches them struggle for months with sounding out words and then they finally reach the point where they can read fluently! I want to be the one to see my child's eyes light up when they finally figure out the answer to the math question they've been trying to figure out!  Alhamdulillah this is one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling and a priceless feeling!

*Mashallah we are blessed to have two beautiful boys who are fairly close in age and have come to a point in their relationship where they can communicate and play together.  I LOVE seeing them together.  Yusuf is mashallah so patient with Ibby slows down just to take time to explain or teach something to his brother.  And Ibby looks up to Yusuf like no one else.  They  learn so much from each other and I think sibling relationships do not have the chance to flourish with the school routine.  Ibby would literally cry out Yusuf's name when Id leave him in his class.  They missed each other alot.  But by the time we all got home from school they were both so cranky and they'd just take it out on each other and rarely have the chance to enjoy each other anymore.  With homeschooling they are able to continue to build their relationship and learn from each other.  The Prophet Muhammad SAW said we must show respect to those who are older than us and show mercy to those who are younger than us.  And I truly believe homeschooling provides much more opportunities to develop this as most settings are mixed in ages.

*This is more of a personal reflection, but I felt as if someone else was doing my job.  I felt as if I was falling short on my responsibilities as a mother.  This doesnt mean I judge or look down on those who choose to put their kids in school.  Like I said, this is personal.  And because of my strong feelings towards homeschooling and it being best for our family, it made me feel guilty to have them in school.  Especially Ibraheem!  I truly believe that a child under four years old should not be left in a school setting unless the circumstances are desperate.  I believe our society puts way too much pressure on mothers to have their kids in a structured school environment as soon as possible.  Daycares now accept such young ages and I personally believe this is a contributing fact to why our society is failing.  There is so much emphasis on being independent, from such a young age!  WHY does a two year old have to be independent of his mother?! I think this is a very modern idea and also a corrupt one.  No wonder Old Age homes are so common now... from only a few months old, parents are pushing their children out of the home.. of course the children are going to turn around and push their parents out of the house once they become slightly dependent on their grown children.  

Again,  I have to make it clear that I do believe in certain situations, it is better for a child to be in daycare and some people do not have the choice.  But I also believe that there is so much unnecessary pressure on mothers to put their babies in daycares for no other reason but to make them 'independent.'  

I have had numerous people come up to me and ask me why I dont go to work and put my kids in daycare (starting when they were only six months old!).  I dont understand the logic behind me going to work (especially as an ECE where Id be watching other peoples kids when I could just be with own?!) and then have a big chunk of my salary go towards my kids daycare fees?  I believe the majority of kids should be at home at least until 4 years old with their mother unless there are dire circumstances.  Yes, we live in a basement apartment and share an old van... I could go get a job so we could enjoy the luxury of having a double salary income... but I rather sacrifice that and stay home with my kids.

Okay... onto the next point = )

*The number one issue that always comes up with people when they find out we homeschool is.....SOCIALIZATION?!?!?!?  For those of you who have met my kids, you know that mashallah they do not lack on this skill!  But for those of you who haven't met my kids, or are still under the impression that homeschooling stumps a child's ability to socialize, heres what I think.... I believe weve been programmed to think that socialization equals being put in a room with 29 other kids with the same calendar age.  And I question this definition.  Why does my child need to be with only four year olds for 6 hrs a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year?  Seriously, what benefit comes out of it?  Okay, yes, they make friends.  But as an adult, how many of your friends are born in the same year as you?  At work, how many of your coworkers who you have to learn to interact with are your exact age?  In reality, we have to learn to deal with people of all ages and homeschooling gives more of an opportunity to develop this skill.  

The school system often gives a child the mentality that anyone in a younger grade is a baby and not worthy of their time, and anyone in a grade older is not gonna have time for you because to them, youre a baby.  I even saw it with Yusuf when he went to school.  He thought his brother was a baby all of a sudden and he was too cool to play with him.  I really dislike this mentality and alhamdulilah I believe homschooling minimizes this.  

Yes I will still make an effort for my kids to interact with kids their age and plan playdates and such.  But I dont believe that they need to be with kids their exact same age for the majority of the time in order for them to be socially functional.  And maybe, in the long run my kids will turn out to be shy (doesnt look like it right now though!)  and Im okay with that and I wont blame it on homeschooling... because we all know many kids who attend regular school turn out to be shy too!  

Alhamdulilah my kids have exposure to kids who are older then they are and they have the courage to go up to them and talk to them.  And chances are if that kid is homeschooled he will also take the time out to show compassion and maybe even teach my kids something.  And on the other hand my kids also get exposure to kids that are younger than they are which gives them the opportunity to practice being kind and gentle to them.

*I personally believe two things are essential for successful homeschooling : love for your children (which we ALL have) and a support system, whether it be your husband, family or friends.  Its so important as a homeschooling mother to be able to talk about your feelings, your struggles and have someone listen and understand.  Sometimes you can feel really alone being with your kids all day every day ... but being able to send an email or call up someone to talk to makes a huge difference and can really be a sanity saver!

I dont believe homeschooling is for everyone.  But I do believe many mothers who have an interest in homeschooling shut themselves down too quickly by saying they dont have the qualifications or patience or talent or time!  There's no harm in trying!  And I think its much better for a family to at least try homeschooling (if they have the interest) and then put their kids back in school if its really not working, then to just dismiss their inclination by blaming it on lack of qualifications, patience, talent or time.

Ive had many people come up to me and praise me to my face because of my choice to homeschool, and they continue on by putting themselves down saying they'd never be able to because they dont have the patience or skill.  What my blog shows of me is not the full truth... I welcome you to ask my husband and kids what our life is really like!  We have crazy days, a far from spotless home and I have tons of not-so-pretty moments! Im not a super mom!  Im a regular person with many flaws just like anyone else out there.  Im just blessed to have an amazing husband and kids,  and also to be part of a few mailing lists, homeschooling and playgroups which offer a huge support for me... without these two, I would not have made it this far.  I know well continue to have bad days and I know Ill keep making mistakes as I learn along the way... but I pray that in the end, when Iook back at our homeschooling journey, Ill be content that I tried my best and I beg Allah swt to make the result (our grown children) something that we're proud of!  Ameen!

In the end, everyone has to do whats best for their family!  And that's what we feel we are doing.  Homeschooling is not easy.  Its not about teaching your kids 5 days a week for a set amount of hours.  Its an entire life style with lots of struggles... bad days... exhaustion and frustration...but it also has countless priceless moments which make every struggle worth it!