Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter Solstice

OK so it's about a week late, but shhhh don't tell Boss that. Having mixed feelings about marking the time. I would like to point out that I am *NOT* marking this as part of my Islamic identity and it wasn't an Islamic event - it was educational pure and simple and my desire to bring some kind of rhythm into our lives. So much of the city-dweller's life is spent artificially - we are not really in tune with ourselves or our world. We barely recognise the seasons other than moan about how it impacts on our comfort-zone; we certainly do not get affected by them with our continuous flow of food. We never see the stars or moon or even sunsets all that often - too many things obscurring our vision so it was nice and refreshing to mark a natural occurence.

So we made paper lanterns, wrote a song, painted a "sun" colour, had a snack of hot chocolate and muffins, lit candles and said "good night" to the sun who was having the longest night sleep round about now. Boss and Jaws sat transfixed at the candle light - the calmest I have seen them - and then it was very nicely rounded off by offering maghrib. We as Muslims should be more aware of the seasons and the timings of the sun than most given that prayer times are set by it and as Khaliphas we are supposed to be caretakers of this earth (a bit difficult if you know nothing about it or how it works).

But I felt such a pagan. And that's no offence to pagans before anyone takes a potshot. It sits uncomfortably on my shoulders. I don't know why. Maybe I'm blanching at all the pagan symbolism and childhood memories, espcially when I used to live in Germany and there are big significances with candles and yuletide rituals. I know we don't have to erase our cultural heritage upon entering Islam so why do so many people make us feel that way? I know that many Islamic cultures have winter solstice rituals - Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis.

On the whole I think it was a good thing. It was a bit short notice and on-the-hoof, the whole point of occasions is the building up to them and getting excited about them, but still had an impact none-the-less.

DH giving me strange looks like "well are we going to celebrate Easter and turn into butt-naked tree worshippers next or what", and I know 18 years down the line if they say/do anything unIslamic then this moment and my half-baked ideas are going to get it in the neck, but I think there is a difference between inculcating religious beliefs and merely instilling rhythm in one's life. Feedback on this topic greatly appreciated.

Our song (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), input by Boss, tweaked by me:

Goodnight, goodnight Winter Sun
Your longest sleep the whole year long;

Wake up soon and shine your rays,
Give us longer, warmer days;

Goodnight, goodnight Winter Sun
Sleep tonight your longest one.

The table

The lanterns

Orangey-yellow like the sun

This theme leads neatly onto resurrection, though.. Hajj theme next.

Tidying up the sidebar

bit by bit. Added some new links and will try and sort the mess out into more manageable chunks soon insha'allah.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Winter Solstice

Yes I know I missed it. But thinking of marking the event at this late stage anyway.

Any ideas?

Related page

Got my first ebay items through today - Finger Phonic books 1 and 2 for 49p each - WOO HOO. I'm hooked.

I'm walking round the house going "I can sell that... and that... and that", and DH is looking at me with great pity and saying, "are you sure??".

Snow was better today. We did have fun in the garden. Although Boss looked a bit hurt when I pelted him with a snowball until I told him he could throw one at me too. Then all hell broke loose and it is fair to say he enjoyed the socially acceptable mayhem.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Found this

What is it?

Yeah it snowed

We got over it pretty quickly. Had a really mongy day. Boss was in an odd mood all day - very bad mannered and spoiling for a fight. Didn't want to do anything so I naturally assumed all blame and felt I must be cramping his creativity or something, so tried almost everything I could think of to abate his ennui and put the spring back in his step and it all failed. After talking through his puppet (don't ask) he finally told his puppet that he was just fed up and just didn't want to do anything and he would be fed up tomorrow as well. He hasn't eaten, played, read stories, assed about - nothing. Just flopped.

Obviously weather related.

To top it all off, the one thing I went to Tescos for today was completey sold out and I was totally bummed out about it.

I have decided that even though other people think my house is small (it is) and badly furnished (can't fight a tidal wave) I am going to accept that I am doing the best I can within my budget and if people don't like it they can chew on it.

Found this on ebay and have ordered one so stuff IKEA. I think I might get sucked into the whole ebay thing after all - found some Ostheimer stuff at much cheaper prices (only have to sell one kidney, as Hannah might put it - thus saving the other in case I decide to order any Stockmar crayons). And I have so much crap I can palm off onto other people in my house... could be a nice little earner LOL

What else. Hmm think I need to learn AGAIN how to get my point across. Been detecting several noses out of joint by several things I've said lately. I do get up peoples' noses and I do come across as obnoxious. I think that's because when I believe something I believe it firmly even if I haven't learned how to express myself delicately.

And this goes for my Waldorf musings too. I do happen to find plastic offensive - it actually causes me internal stress to have it in my house in such vast quantities. I never realised how much I detested it until I saw an alternative and felt a discernable difference in how I felt. However, that doesn't mean to say that I am making a value-judgement on any else's tastes or appreciation of beauty, or that I think everyone else has it wrong and are crap. No. I value everyone's personal take on it and we are all trying to do the best job we can given our circumstances so if I have inadvertantly irked anyone then forgive me. It wasn't my intention. My house it tasteless tat and I think I need wooden toys to disguise this fact.

Anyway, snow picture:

From my window... and here are some prettier ones from elsewhere

Grantham, apparently


Yeah I can see you are as excited as I am about it.

Monday, December 26, 2005


On Friday we did "yellow" and today we did "green". Introducing news ways of doing our painting was a more enjoyable experience. The paint was light and washable (watercolour) and the brushes weren't cheap and tacky producing naff results. He was calmer and so was I. He really thought about where he was putting his brush and what he wanted to produce. So these are caterpillars.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A ready to read test

My son has been attempting to blend words. He has been asking me to tell him the words. He has been trying to read. So when he asked to read I tested him with this punchline: "Well I can teach you to read or we can play - what do you want to do" - I couldn't see his dust as he ran into the living room screaming PLAY!!

I rest my case.

Jaws feeling a bit grotty. Very sleepy and pukey. I got a good sleep-in this morning though :D

Had a morning in the garden. A bit odd being outside after virtually months of very little play out there. But it was good and appreciated due to its rarity. Played on his tractor, in the playhouse, then DH came home and they gardened. Well they ripped a lot of crap out of the ground. Was thinking it might be nice to have a bit of allotment after all... must try to convince Dh of this though.... hmmmm ...

Anyway, the revelation of the day has been how neurotic I am making my son when he finished helping his Dad he looked at me and said "My hands have MUD on them" like it was the worse thing on earth. So I said, "Well its OK - you're gardening - we'll clean them when you get in insha'allah" to which he replied, "No, clean them NOW - I don't like it". Crumbs he's three year old boy acting like a forty year old woman. A forty year old neurotic woman.

Then DH told all the things that were dangerous and/or dirty in the garden and it was the bubblewrap moment all over again - I said "You're frightening him - he daren't play", and it's true. When we warn children about our adult obsessions of keeping him clean and healthy we are really instilling a sense of fear into him.

Anyway, saw a caterpillar a dead snail and cat poo. Good stuff. No rats. Oh well, there's always the field trip to Aunty K's garden for that :P

Friday, December 23, 2005

Quote of the Day

Just finished offering zuhr (not Jumah *sigh*) and was making du'a when I was touched to see my little boy siddle up next to me and raise his hands to supplicate. So instead of supplicating silently I spoke out loud so he could hear the du'a. After finishing I turned to him and said, "Is there anything you would like to ask Allah?", and he screwed his nose up, went "errrrrrrrrrrrrrr" then said:

"Oh Allah, please forgive all our chickens".

Me: *confused* Erm, say that again...

Boss: Oh Allah, please forgive all our chickens

Me: Chickens?

Boss: Yea

Me: Chickens??

Boss: *shyly* ... yeah

Me: Chickens - why chickens? OH! *lightbulb goes on* ... you mean 'SINS'

Boss: Yes dats what I mean. Silly my billy.

I swear conversations are getting weirder in this house....

New Links

  • Tales Collected by the Brothers Grimm

  • Grimm site

  • Fairy Tales by the Grimm Brothers

  • National Geographic Grimm Brothers

  • 209 Grimm Brothers Tales
  • Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Anyone else on this?

    And the photos

    The grand entrance

    The grand entrance again and a nobody who I have just made world famous pushing her pram... sorry about that

    The dead emaciated bloke wavering above the altar, ready to frighten the crap out of all preschoolers

    Side chapel. Lovely windows

    We liked this

    Another side chapel. Lots of candles. Very pretty

    Ceiling detail.

    A model of our fair Cathedral out of what looked like matchsticks. He was by this point chewing his fist with excitement.

    The tree. *stoping myself from launching into a tirade against non-Christian influences permeating a tradition which itself states in its own holy book that such a practice is outlawed as a pagan herecy whilst remembering I am no longer a Christian and I don't have to care about it anymore. Hurrah* Very pretty none-the-less

    And finally, the Ostheimer play figures who make diesel noises and brake-screaching sounds when propelled at full speed by a three year old who has yet to learn the delicate art of how to handle a Christian artefact

    Thus endeth the lesson.

    In my efforts

    to give my son some kind of window onto things other than vehicles I decided to take him to the Cathedral to instill awe, wonder, an introduction to aesthetics, religious tolerance, Christian festivals, and let's face it - it's free.

    We looked around. I pointed some things of interest out. "Yeah yeah" came his hurried replies. He hmmed and ahhed at all the right places, bless him. He saw the main highlights - font, altar, choir stall, pulpit, as well as stained glass windows, side chapels and a nativity scene (which he tried to play with like they were Ostheimer figures or something... *oops*). He saw their Xmas tree. He liked the flags. He seemed to hug my leg a lot. I told him we had to be quiet and not run as this was a holy space where people prayed to God and all these chapels were where people went to talk to God and to think and pray. Boss: "But its empty!" ... er, yeeeeeeeees.

    We got outside. "So, what do you think?"

    Boss: Yes it's good.

    Me: Did you like it? What did you really think about it?

    Boss: Really?

    Me: Yes.

    Boss: *hesitant*... well .... it frightened me.

    And there you have it. Maybe that's how he describes awe? Maybe the greatness of the building triggered some archetypal response? Could have been that the organ music which piped up when we were halfway round was a tad too "Adam's Family-like" type eery?

    We got home and Dad was there. "Tell Dad where you've been"

    Boss: *runs up to Dh, grabs his leg in sheer delight of seeing his Dad and says with an unbounded enthusiasm* WE'VE BEEN TO TESCOS

    Me: No .... where else.

    Boss: Boots!

    Me: *slightly iritated* Anywhere else??

    Boss: The healthfood shop

    Me: *grinds teeth* OK tell your Dad what you saw today then.

    Boss: *big grin* the dodgem cars and I had a little ride!

    Me: Oh come on - what else - THINK!

    Boss: *dutifully begins to takes a while then the lightbulb goes on, he looks up and says* A Jaguar herse with Mercedes-Benz limousine - 16 valve ... CDi ignition spoke alloy wheels *(not)* - and there was a dead man inside!!!

    Me: *stunned, and defeated, hangs head and tells Dh we went to the Cathedral to give his son some culture*

    DH: Oh. Right. Hm. So, what did you see at the Cathedral then son?

    Boss: *running off* Candles!

    I give in.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    I have a sling

    that looks like this

    except in black. It is brand new never been used. I payed £40 but does anyone want it I'll gladly accept less.


    These arrived. And these (the natural ones). My house smells of *wood*, fresh wood. It smells good. I have at last found a deodoriser worthy enough to disguise the smell of unending poo and vomit. For that fact alone I would pay the price again. I am so excited by my purchases - they are great quality and it feels great to have something worth playing with rather than the endless tacky placky scattered everywhere.

    We also have some other things sitting in the living room waiting for me to open and inspect them - but you'll have to wait til after Eid for any photos. I'm so excited! I shouldn't be given that I have the real thing to make real food with... maybe I should try that sometime....

    Anybody give me a date when Eid is this year??

    Monday, December 19, 2005


    Today my son read his first word. All by himself. Using fridge magnets. Munching on toast. He said the sound of each letter then blended it perfectly. This is so not a Waldorf moment, but I jumped around the kitchen and yelped "you've read your first word - you've read your first word". And he had. And the silly big grin on his face knew he had. And now he must stop because I don't want to teach him yet. But what can I do? He's blending like a blending machine... on a blending spree... Oh well. Go with it then or wait???

    Don't panic!

    You're in good hands.


    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Warning: Bubblewrap can suffocate!

    It may be easier, quicker and cleaner to do everything for my children, but I suspect actually letting them live their own lives and make their own mistakes is more fun and educational...

    Friday, December 16, 2005


    I can honestly say that since making certain things in the house more beautiful (ie since I have reduced the plastic) I have seen everyone literally relax. The main playing area is now peaceful rather than frantic and the toys are being respected. With beautiful places to keep them they are being handled better and appreciated, whereas once it didn't matter.

    I am happier about it too. I think having a beautiful a home as you can manage really matters. It affects relationships.

    Another one where I think out loud and babble on and on

    This year has been our "lost" year in many ways. Throughout this year I have either been pregnant, ill or both and generally incapacitated in some way. It has been a year which should have been full of fun - the age of 3 where nothing and everything matters in equal measure and discovery and play are the hallmarks of accomplishment. In reality it has been a slide into something and someone I don't like very much, and the result has been a severing and jarring between me and my son. I thought I knew him, but I now realise I don't. I thought I had the parent thing taped, but actually I suck. Deep down I know my short-comings but today it hit home when my son said something which made me realise just how bad our relationship has become - on the surface it's all good, but below the water line I detect the iceberg of something more sinister is present. I detect hurt and resentment and I detect a barrier and hidden pain. And it was a jolt to look into a mirror and see the physical manifestation of subtle and varied "wrongs" being woven into a reality that I have been weaving, bit by indiscernable bit, for far too long. And I think I have to take stock, put my hands up and try to turn things around because one thing I don't want is to sit on my death bed and regret anything I've said or done; I don't want to see my kids and see a reminder of pain. And so much of my day is spent in regrets.

    So here, quite poignantly, is my contribution towards a new and insha'allah better year. Things I have learned and things I want to change:

    1. I handle illness very badly. I get stressed and snappy. And I target other people. I aim to work on a means whereby I can deal with stress that doesn't impact on other peoples' lives.

    2. I handle frustration like a child who has had his rattle taken away. I rationalise a lot of my behaviour but in reality it is petulance pure and simple. I also inflict my wrath on those near to me on such occasions. So I aim to recognise when I am frustrated and learn to disassociate my feelings from those innocent of the situation.

    3. I want to give my children good memories. This means seizing the moments and being there in mind and spirit. I doubt they will remember or appreciate how many dishes I have washed, but the bonding that takes place through play cannot be forgotten.

    4. I need to learn to play better.

    5. I must remember to be light-hearted and full of fun with my children rather than waspish.

    6. I need to tell my children more often how much I love and appreciate them. I am quick to condemn and have forgotten the art of praising.

    7. I need to re-instigate the ethos of respecting and valuing the essential self, to let people be who they are and love them for it rather than try to bend them out of shape into a mold that they weren't created for. I need to learn to love my family even when I am tired, ill, cranky and iritated, because I respect everything they are and everything they stand for.

    8. My children deserve better than this. In a spiritual and human way - not materialistically.


    9. I need to empathise more with my children and to try to get into their head and into world and see everything through their eyes. That may help me with patience and understanding. Something I may deem as not important may take on a new significance and add impetus to certain things which, from a child's view, may be for that moment the most important thing on earth. If I learned to empathise I could fulfill my children's emotional needs so much better and value them more too.

    10. I must learn to assume the good in everything they do. Sometimes I am quick to label every act which falls outside what I consider acceptabel (by adults standards) as "bad" or "naughty" or "mischievious", but when seen from their point of view could actually be a point of expression, something creative, someone trying to help or impress or generally just mucking in in a three-nearly-four year old kind of way. I must assume the best from them.

    11. I must give my children my time. I run around all day saying "I haven't got time" and really that is the biggest lie. Time is actually all I have. I have been allocated time from Allah and it is up to me how I utilise it. The truth is we give time to things we deem as important - we prioritize all we do - and when we say "I haven't got time" what we are really saying is "you're not important - I haven't got time for YOU", because if I thought it WAS important I would make the time. So I am going to try to get rid of those subconscious messages and make time. Work can wait, growing up can't.

    I will add to this list when I remember things insha'allah.


    is now crawling. Well, commando crawling, hasn't yet learned the delicate art of using his knees in his new found force of motion.

    Yes, he *is* five months old.... start putting everything on very high shelves?? Why?

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    Reflect my thinking at the moment

    Toys that Teach: A Lesson in Reverence, Gratitude and Beauty

    The Importance of Real Play

    Was it me

    or did it feel like Spring today??

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    The one where I babble on and on and don't really get to the point... if indeed there is one

    Right. Having a major U-Turn here. I don't know if it's my hormones or what but I have decided to halt all "learning". I don't want to teach him to read yet. I don't think I'm going to start any maths yet. I am not going to get any workbooks. I couldn't care less if he finishes off the alphabet. WHAT WAS I ON?

    In my (subconscious) quest to "prove" to people (and myself) that I *can* teach my son, and that he *can* learn, and that I am *not* useless (... still working on that ... hm... what exactly does one have to do qualify to be placed in the "useful" bracket given that I don't cook, my house is a mess and I scream at my kids all day??!) and life *has* a purpose I have been intent on getting him reading (WTM) and counting with a maths-readiness push-cum-shove type approach. As a result he knows the sounds of most letters nad is eagerly trying to blend words; he can count up to twenty - OK some times when he is tired we get "onety-one" or "five-teen" but he can count. He can count in Arabic and knows some Arabic letters too. We do rod work. Tangrams are impsy. But so what. What exactly is the point to all this? Has our life improved because of these great accomplishments? Is he happier?

    It hit me after I read this article (thanks Khadijah):

    In the Waldorf approach, reading and writing are introduced in first
    grade, starting with the letters; then children learn to read at the
    end of first grade, from what they have written. The letters are
    introduced imaginatively, through a story and a drawing in which the
    letter can be found in one of the figures that starts with that sound
    (for example, the letter "k" might be illustrated by a King who is
    standing sideways, with scepter raised, blessing his subjects.).

    Sitting children down and teaching them to write the letters and to
    read when they are four or five uses a kind of intellectual energy
    that Steiner indicates is still needed in early childhood for the
    healthy formation of the internal organs. The baby teeth are the last
    to be "re-formed," and when they are pushed out by the adult teeth, it
    is a sign that this process has reached a point where the energy is
    now free for learning—although still imaginatively, not in a dull,
    rote fashion. Neuropsychologists also recognize this same rapid
    proliferation of brain cells around age 6-7 (as reported by Jane
    Healy, Ph.D. in Your Child's Growing Mind).

    In addition to potentially weakening a child's later health, early
    academics also wake the him or her up prematurely. This awakening
    comes naturally around age 7, but when it is rushed—as it can be with
    bright children—they lose a couple of years of the imaginative,
    creative realm of early childhood without gaining anything in terms of
    being better readers at grade 5. And many children simply lack the
    eye-hand coordination and the ability to sit still for lessons, so
    they are labeled as having learning problems that wouldn't exist if
    teachers waited until the children were developmentally ready for
    reading and writing.

    What about the bright child, who is eager to learn? My suggestion is
    always to relate with enthusiasm and anticipation ("When you go to the
    big school, you'll learn that," or "Next year we'll be studying all
    the letters and their stories at home."). But I wouldn't sit down with
    a five-year-old and start lessons just because she wanted to learn to
    write. Many times teaching a child to write his or her name is enough
    to satisfy their desire, before they are on to other interests. And
    the really smart ones will learn to read from the STOP signs while
    driving or through osmosis from being around an older sibling.

    The guiding principle according to Steiner is not to address the
    intellect directly in early childhood. Children up until the age of
    six or seven need to be in movement, learning through movement games
    and through play and expressing themselves through the arts, not
    sitting at desks tracing letters and numbers, memorizing math sums, or
    learning to read. This makes Waldorf out of step with the mainstream
    push to teach reading and writing at ever younger ages, but the
    results are fewer reading problems and children who love reading real
    books, rather than becoming burnt out on years of simple readers.

    that I'm getting it all wrong. He doesn't play with imagination and I don't encourage him to because I've been so programmed into thinking that something worthwhile is quantifiable, verifiable, solid and progressive that I've gone down the road I swore I'd protect him from - I've subconsciously inculcated school-at-home. Argh! It's consumerism at the learning level. Bits of plastic and paper to "learn" everything from. Why don't I just buy him a uniform and make him wear it everyday?

    So we've done an abrupt stop. The plastic is going OUT. No more closed-ended toys which dictates the play. Going for natural products, obviously wood, and things which involve the imagination as the vital ingredient to bring it to life - replacing the battery. We have leaves and twigs, and stones and scarves. Yes it sounds poncey doesn't it. Well guess what. It doesn't matter. Yellow hexagons are bananas - and you don't need to buy him bananas to make the point. A twig can be a sail or a barrier or a gate or anything. A car can only ever be a car. He's using his imagination.

    We are not bothering to "learn" anything. So what. He has his entire life to read but only a few years to enjoy being a child. I do not want to have a forty year old midget for a son - I want a four year old boy who does all the things four year olds are supposed to do, and up yours if you don't like it. One more dirty look from a Next-clad lip-glossed uberbabe in a John Lewis lift because Boss had the audacity to jump, make a noise or try to tickle your child with result in me speaking my mind. I am fed up of having to say "sorry" that my son isn't a middle-aged man; "sorry" he is four; "sorry" he thinks pulling hair is funny. Get over it. He is four - let him enjoy it.

    And wood - do you know, I noticed yesterday that even when our wooden toys are all over the floor it just makes the floor look so beautiful. Which cannot be said of the plastic crap currently discolouring on the shelves.

    Didn't really have a point all that did it?

    Friday, December 09, 2005



    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Something very nice happened to me today. Something that some people may either have taken for granted or not even noticed due to the small bundle it came in. Small things do tend to be ignored or thought of as irrelevant. But not me. Not this time. Everytime I think of it, every time it pops into my head it makes me really warm inside and actually brings tears to my eyes because of the generous nature in which this gift was given. And every time I remember it I make big du'a for the little helper who, without being asked saw I was in discomfort, got up, went into the other room, brought a cushion and placed it gently behind my back for me to lean on. Then she wandered off without waiting to be thanked. You know, there are some people who have such generous natures that they earn so many dua that Allah grants them unsuspected barakah. And I pray this little helper has as much barakah as she can handle because I was really deeply touched by her gift.

    Jazakillah H. I love you.



    Goddamn it why don't they just put a door on that warehouse they got and save us all a round trip hell of three zillion miles. Is there ANYBODY OUT THERE who will going to Ikea and can fit one of these in their boot?? I would pay a fiver for the hassle...

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Been thinking

    ... got into town today after months of being virtually incapacitated and alhamdulillah (big grin) it was OK. Feel like a normal person almost. I was dreading it but glad I went.

    Been thinking today, after another "take stock" moment that M really knows more than I give him or myself credit for. I think I stress out far too much and am now going to unclench and let him just play without hinderance for a while. I mean "play" and not just shove cars around the carpet all day.

    I mean, he can do anything I give him (mostly) even if his concentration span is low. He has figured out some numbers on the number chart - I heard him sing song "forty- two" and "eighty-seven".... when asked where he learned that (WHO HAS BEEN GETTING AT MY KID??!) he just said, "well it's an eight and a seven so thats eighty seven". He is getting the letter sounds and recognising more than I thought he knew. Even tried reading "SAT" today. Almost got it. Not four yet. Must unclench about learning. He's doing it without me.

    Really loving this site Khadijah gave me.


    'I survived an abortion attempt'

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    A-maize-ing Castle

    Like the title? Heh heh. Well I am singing the virtues of magic maize again. It really is a hit here. So easy to use and versatile. Continuing our art class theme of "castles" (after it dawned on me he had no idea what a castle was *duh ME*) we made our own.

    Locations of visitors to this page

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