Monday, 31 December 2007

Wierd Eid Party

Threw the second of my bi-annual Eid parties yesterday…and I think I may have to re-think the whole idea. In a previous post (http://www.happymuslimmama.com/2007/10/eid-party.html) I wrote about how much I enjoyed the party for Eid al-Fitr. It was an opportunity for Hijabi’s to network and to let their hair down, and an alternative to Christmas for the children. This time round we had lots of the same games, plus my homemade pi├▒ata that wouldn’t break. The food was great and lots of people brought dishes so I had to do very little cooking. My best friend decided to bankrupt herself by buying my kids way too expensive clothes and I got really sweet pressies from Kooky Little Sister’s friends.

I invited my new sister-in-law to be (inshallah) so that my mum and sisters could meet with her mum and sisters. I think that that went ok, although I got very nervous and mum decided to re-organise the party (“ok – now find a table and move the buffet from the kitchen to in front of our [special] guests!!” – I really hope they didn’t think we were idiots!!).

My little cousins (6 and 8) decided they were going to entertain us with nasheeds, which Kooky Little Sister’s university friends were very gracious about (they tried not to laugh in the poor little mites faces). Little Man decided that he was going to throw a tantrum during the kids pass-the-parcel and rolled around over caste-off wrapping-paper, didn’t know whether to laugh my head off or be embarrassed.

As soon as the two mum’s left (mine and sis-in-law’s), the party got hijacked by Kooky Little Sisters friends, who decided it was one of the girls birthday party (we don’t celebrate birthdays at all, nor do many of my religious friends).Fashionista’s Sister’s friends were fashionably late (i.e. after everyone had eaten and played the games) and then refused to leave, so had to be thrown out. None of Long-Suffering Sisters friends turned up, but at least she did the dishes. Fashionista Sister is known for going into hiding as soon as the need for a pair of hands to do some work becomes apparent. Once Kooky Little Sister’s friends were gone, she came out of “neurotically cool ice-princess” mode and went back to being her grumpily sweet self.

But to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it, Eid seemed far away and the events in Pakistan have been uppermost in my family’s minds at the moment. So, a party felt extravagant, and made me feel very guilty when I thought of what some of my family are going through. I also didn’t really feel that I was gaining anything in my deen this time, but just engaging in excess.I think next time, if there is a next time, I will be inviting only a handful of people I really like (I do like a few of each of my sisters friends), and probably no relations. Will try doing a halaqah/circle together so that we do something to please Allah inshallah, and then just share some good food and enjoy the sweet company.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Pakistan's Darkest Hour

“This is exactly why so many Muslim countries are lagging behind, woefully inept. It isn’t the most qualified that get the positions, it is your family or those who can bribe you. This is how you get people who do not even have university educations running technology programs, health departments, engineering projects. It is no wonder that even if things get done, they get done poorly and cost way too much." Abu Sinan (comment on Umar Lee's blog).

I think Brother Abu Sinan's comment has hit the nail on the head. Pakistan has long had a small group of families dominating politics, business and the military, Benazir hailed from one of them and certainly did nothing to change the old guard of elites. I am convinced that if change is to come to Pakistan it will have to come through someone entirely new, rather than the same old group of politicians that have been around in some post or other over the last 40-odd years.

My in-laws in Lahore and family in Karachi are house-bound right now, their businesses are shut, their children not able to go school. The Hujjaj due to go back to Pakistan are now stuck at the airports as no flights can land at Karachi. My articulate, intelligent uncle in Karachi tells us he does not have words to describe the level of madness and savagery that have gripped his city. Millions of dollars worth of damage to banks, hospitals, businesses and people’s homes and cars.

I pray that Allah showers mercy on this country in what must be its darkest hour. There are bad people there, but there are also those that are good beyond measure. Sorry for the miserable post, but the last few days have been very sad ones for me, especially when I think of the sacrifices that people made for the birth of this country.

There is a very interesting article about Benazir Bhutto by the excellent William Dalrymple here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2233334,00.html) and another very good article by the novelist Kamila Shamsie here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2233402,00.html .

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Eid Al-Adha and Hajj

Eid Mubarak, Eidan Saeedan, Happy Eid everyone.
For those performing Hajj - Hajj Mubarak and Hajj Mabroor inshallah. I wish I had the time to put up something from my Hajj diary, maybe next year inshallah. I hope everyone has had the chance to make the most of these 10 days and I hope everyone enjoys the blessings of Allah in the next few days inshallah.

Newbie

Sorry no post for a while, have been uber-busy sorting out family feuds for the in-laws (why can’t Pakistani’s have a wedding without a fight? – is it just part of the fun?), meeting brother’s wife-to-be inshallah (what a doll of a potential sis-in-law!), making a few Eid cards, getting the kids Eid clothes (mostly courtesy of my mum and last Eids gifts of clothing) and oh yeah - finding my way around my new job.

Alhamdulillah, I am working in the Mayors office and with the Councillors and I am finding it very interesting. Its work that serves the community I was born in and there’s lots of scope for me to grow and offer ideas. It helps that the people are very nice. I am alsoind of pleased that it’s an office full of women (10 out of 11) as I feel more comfortable around them and don’t have to feel self-conscious all of the time. Also where there are women, there is food - regardless of how many are on a diet. After the Mayor’s and Councillor’s social and community events, someone will rush out to the Main Halls (opposite and above us) and bring back trays of left-over food (fruit, cheese, choc ├ęclairs, samosas, spring rolls…) they also like to bring in food to share, which is something I liked to do at my previous job and creates a lot of good will.

They have been kind enough to book a room at lunchtimes for me to pray and even asked the department who are arranging a move into a new building in the New Year to include a prayer-room as a permanent fixture. They were a bit embarrassed at first not to have anywhere already and I was a bit embarrassed at first about causing my new employers fuss, but now I’m thinking if they have a room, whoever prays in it I might get some of the reward inshallah.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Goodbye, Hello

Start new job tomorrow. It wouldn’t be the first time in a new office, so wonder why I am a bit stressed out. My previous job was my first after I graduated and although I did want to further my studies, at the time I felt it was time to work. I ended up staying seven years in various offices of the same organization. It has seen me through my application for my husband to join me here, two house moves, three children (along with three stints of maternity leave and starting work all over again) and two promotions (and the accompany back-stabbing, inflated self-importance and terror that you’ll be outed as a complete fraud - astaghfirullah).

So it was with sadness that I went in for my last day at work. Seven years worth of work, e-mails and junk to delete off my computer and a desk-load of “stuff” that just happened to accumulate and that took me three days to cart home on the tube. This accompanied by loads of wink-wink back-slapping about “you must be so happy to be leaving” and “you’re so lucky to be getting out of here” (maybe these people don’t get paid for coming to work or something?).

Had a lovely send-off though. Received a lovely silver bracelet and a box of my fave Body-Shop body-butters. The team also moved their team-building event to my leaving day, so we all had free pizza for lunch! Felt sad to be leaving them all.

So tomorrow I have to dress to make a good impression (I think chocolate and beige is nice and safe for the first day), find ways to avoid shaking hands, try and find out if there is a place to pray and see if I can get two days off for Eid inshallah. Remember me in your dua’s please. May Allah be pleased with you all.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Islam Channel’s Global Peace and Unity event.

I did say I would write about Islam Channel’s Global Peace and Unity event, which took place this weekend, if I got to go. Well I did, and I am not sure I am the best-placed person to write about it. I went to the first one two years ago and loved the buzz, the gathering of my brothers and sisters, the high quality of speakers and acts and the bazaar. I also attended the event last year. Again the atmosphere was lovely, I met a number of people from work, university and my neighbourhood and some of the speakers were brilliant. Most notable were Imam Yusuf Estes, Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad, the former prime minister of Mauritius and Abdul Wahid Pederson of Denmark. However, one of the things that riled quite a few people was the use of music in the segments performed by Yusuf Islam and I vaguely recall another young group from Canada. My husband was one of the ones who sat stony-faced through these performances. I was a little disappointed as one of the reasons I had been keen on these events was that they were an Islamic, halal alternative to other media or events that are out there. Also, the best speakers were kept till the end (8pm) by which time people, especially those with children, were tired and just wanted to go home. Last year this included 90 minutes of the organisers displaying an orgy of backslapping as they awarded each other prizes and bored the audience to death. In 2005 this meant keeping the excellent Dr Zakir Naik till the end, bringing him on 45 minutes late and then trying to get him off stage mid-flow as the show had to end. Keeping in mind the music, prize-ceremony and the exorbitant prices in the bazaar (pushed up by ridiculous stall-hire prices) I decided not to buy tickets this year. My husband had other plans.
He booked a job doing the deliveries and pick and drop for one of the food stalls, which also happened to be doing the catering for the after-show VIP dinner. Mother-in-law is adamant that despite being too ill to walk much, that no-one goes anywhere fun or interesting without her (a trait I admire and plan to emulate). So on mention of free tickets from the catering boss we were all bundled in turns into hubby’s truck and delivered into the event via the service entrance.
Once there, mother-in-law got tired and wanted to go home, so we didn’t get to see any of the speakers. Visited the bazaar (expensive), the black cloth of the Kaaba (kiswa), which was there last year and met some friends and bought a hijab pin (woo-hoo big spender). Best thing though was that hubby bought home tons of good food which included some rather rubbery chunks of spiced meat. Dad-in-law confirmed that these were chunks of camel - first time for everything I suppose. Anyway, got to sit in hubby’s truck, which was fun.


Sunday, 25 November 2007

Happy Mama Blues

Haven’t written in a little while due to not being my happy self for a few days. Have been in a bit of a funk due to a mix of nasty cold virus, kids having colds, mother-in-law being out of action (she has Hep C and some days it catches up with her), an annoying person at work pestering me, nerves at starting a new job in a weeks time and just general, no-reason irritableness. Get a bit scared when I feel like this as it reminds me of when I had a rather nasty dose of the baby blues after Gorgeous was born and couldn’t see any way out of it.

So decided today to try and find a way to feel better. Started off by finding something decent to wear (bright red with hole near the hem where the iron took off a bit, but the embroidery hides it) and sorting my hair – instant fix. What also helped was learning a line of a surah. My father helped me memorise the last ten surah’s of the Quran when I was a child. As a teenager I was neglectful and forgot some of them so I am trying to remember them again. The other thing that helped (perhaps the most), was finding something to do. I cleaned, washed and tidied and now feel miles better. Looks like hard work is good for the soul. Writing this has helped me to feel upbeat too.
Will write something interesting tomorrow, maybe about Islam Channels GPU Show (if hubby takes me). In the meantime am off to wash dishes and cook. Smile everyone. Alhamdulillah.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Ooooh, Milton Keynes

Back at work after a week off. This involved trying to undertake the glamorous task of potty-training Little Man (half-way there), planning an impromptu weekend for me and hubby to Brussels (couldn’t get tickets) and visiting Milton Keynes instead (who needs Eurostar when you can have a kip down the M1!). Had a lovely lunch with friends in Milton Keynes though - although Little Man broke a china model dog and Little Lady shoved Little Man during the meal and he landed feet-first into the lamb curry. Was just relieved Gorgeous slept through most of the day.
Was nice dropping Little Lady to school despite the early morning protestations about not wanting to go and it was good to give mum-in-law a bit of a break as I feel guilty about how much she does for us. Also felt good to put my garden in order and bring in my potato harvest (one whole basket-full - there might be more down there, but I got tired of digging. Will have to try and get better half to have a go).
Have finally given my notice in at work so three weeks to go, will just have to keep marching around the office with bits of paper looking important till the end of the month.

The Wonderful Mma Ramotswe

Have just finished reading the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith and I enjoyed them immensely. Mma Ramotswe is an absolute dream: strong, thoughtful, kind, happy with her “traditional build” and just downright good. A protagonist that is easy to root for. It’s often hard to believe that the writer is not a woman so effectively has he caught Precious Ramotswe’s voice.

The novels portray a people who are proud of their country and traditions and touches on themes such as domestic violence, poverty, marital infidelity and AIDS. Despite this the books never lose their air of cheerfulness. The prose is clean and witty and the book easy to read in a sitting. The central characters become real. Mma Ramotswe’s intelligent and hardworking assistant, Mma Makutse, particularly caught my imagination, with her thoughtless remarks, “difficult complexion” and penchant for pretty shoes.

These are not epic convoluted whodunits but rather gentle tales, of mysteries solved because of Mma Ramotswe’s gentle probing, her willingness to listen and her habit of patient observation. Most often it is the events in the characters lives and the relationships between them that take centre stage in the books and these are portrayed in a way which is humorous and sympathetic.
The people and place (Botswana) in these books stay with the reader long after the story has ended making the reader yearn for the places the writer describes.

My praise has got three other ladies at work reading the books (I had four and another of the ladies had the other two, so we are passing them around) and the two Mma’s have become real objects of affection for us.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Making Jewellery

I love making my own jewellery and these are some of the things I have made. I tend to take apart old jewellery and spent a few Sundays last summer hunting for glass and metal jewellery at boot fairs where it usually costs a few pence (I’m not a fan of plastic as it doesn’t have anywhere near the same look or feel.

I love these because they go with anything beige or brown or when I wear my black abaya and leopard-print scarf.
I made these with a mix of glass beads whose colours, shapes and textures appealed to me. They feel a bit heavy sometimes but are nice to cheer up a plain black abaya.


These are just some fun little bracelets that I made for my little girl and my baby niece in Pakistan. The beads felt a little tacky for adult pieces, but seemed fine for kids stuff.



Ajwa tree (I wish)


This is my fruit-tree collection. I have been sticking fruit stones into pots on my window-sill not really thinking they would grow. So far I have an avocado plant and a lychee which is very pretty. My pride and joy though is my little ajwa plant. Ajwa is a very special kind of date and the most expensive variety you can get. (I recently saw a small 1 ½ pound box for £10). Short and almost round and a purple-black colour, it is sweet but not too sweet. People who go for hajj try to bring a little back for their families, believing it to be blessed. It is believed that the first plant was planted by the beloved Prophet (saws) himself and grew and bore fruit within a year rather than the twelve years it normally takes for a date tree to grow and bear fruit. Eating an odd number of the dates is thought to keep away shaytan. As far as I know the fruit is only found in Madinah.


As for my tree, I don’t expect it to bear fruit anytime soon and would be over the moon if it just managed to survive, but imagine if I did manage to grow my own ajwa dates, would be amazing.

http://almiskeenah.blogsome.com/category/dates-4/ (link regarding the story of Hadhrat Salman-al-Farsi (RA) and the origin of the Ajwa).

Sa'd, radiya Allahu anhu, narrates that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: Whoever awakens to eat 7 dates of the 'Ajwa variety, will not be harmed by poison or black magic. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

'Aisha, radiya Allahu anha, narrated that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: A household with dates will never go hungry. (Reported by Ad-Darimi)

Ibn Umar, radiya Allahu anhuma, (may Allah be pleased with them) narrates that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, asked: There is a tree whose leaves do not shed and it is similar to a Muslim, so tell me about it. We were silent and I thought it was the date palm but I was to shy too speak, so we said, "tell us what it is". He, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: It is the date palm. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree: she cried (in her anguish) "Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!" But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm tree): "Grieve not! For thy Lord has provided a rivulet beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree; it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and cool (your) eye. And if you see any man, say, 'I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being'". (Maryam: 23-26)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Eid Party


Recuperating this morning after my bi-annual ladies and children Eid-party. Was great fun but am exhaaausted. Nursing my first hot chocolate for breakfast since Ramadan started. Hopefully will try to keep some control over my appetite and not revert to my pre-Ramadan gluttony. The more limited diet has meant I have lost a little weight, but better still it has given me tons of energy (which current situation being what it is I can never have enough of).
My intention behind the party was to give my children an alternative to occasions like Christmas to celebrate and a reason to love and look forward to Eid. It was also meant to be a chance for all of my family, friends and my sister’s friends who wear any kind of hijab to let their hair down and network.

I spent the day cooking and my sister’s shared the work and the cost so it worked out reasonably well. Made traditional Pakistani party fare of pakora’s, samosa’s and channa chaat and ordered in chips and spicy chicken wings (ordered in meant sent kooky little sister to Dixy on the corner). Also my beloved bestest friend and her sisters turned up with half of their local supermarket (two enormous tins of chocs, two boxes of shortbread, packets of cashews, peanuts and pistachios) so there was plenty of food. Another friend made chicken biryani and a sister’s friend brought beautiful heart-shaped homemade biscuits covered in pink icing and with jam in the middle (hungry yet?). Everyone else bought Indian sweets, chocolates and biscuits. Fashionista sister also took the opportunity to collect early birthday presents.
We played pass-the-parcel and musical chairs (ever seen a roomful of raucous ladies fighting over kids games - hysterical). The kids found a bag of party poppers and decided to let them off all over the house and then proceeded to try and get the balloons off the walls.
The best bit was the prizes: the mother of one of my daughter’s school friends had an amazing lime green outfit with the corresponding bling, so I awarded her the prize for best outfit to everyone’s applause (you should have seen her glow!). She also got one for passing her driving test after much effort. Everyone also got goody bags on the way home (cleared out my kids toy boxes for the kids one and added some sweets, balloons and poppers. This was good because now that Gorgeous has started crawling can’t have very small toys lying about). The ladies one were filled with make-up, soaps, stationary, sweets and candles and went down a treat.
It was also a nice occasion to meet my sister’s friends, especially one new Muslimah who wanted to meet more sisters and was able to make some good contacts (esp. bestest friend who is a darling).

Fashionista sisters raucous friends were the last to leave and the girls helped me with the big clean-up, as I was getting kids to bed, husbands newly-wed friend turns up with new wife. Whilst I was trying to take care of her and get kids to stay upstairs in bed, I could hear Gorgeous making strange noises - I whisked him upstairs to find he had exploded out of his nappy, by the time I cleaned him up, it was time for the new bride to go home (this is still before Isha, feeding baby, ironing work clothes, packing bags, checking lights and putting out Little Lady’s uniform). By the time I got to bed I was too tired to sleep.

So this morning, I am sharing the heart-shaped biscuits with my work colleagues and sitting very quietly at my desk with a bottle of panda pop drink left over by one of the kids.


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Hairstyles and Discipline

Was mortified yesterday when I came back from work to find Little Man had a bald patch near the front of his head. This is the second time this has happened. The last time was about three months ago when bald spots seemed to suddenly appear around his head - it scared the heck out of me. Me and hubby sat there staring at his head wondering if it was caused by some kind of disease or something before we realised that Little Lady had managed to get her hands on a pair of scissors and cut patches out of his hair. I thought my scissors were out of reach on a high shelf but she has managed to climb up the shelves and get them down and do the same thing again. Little Man seems to be in awe of her and just lets her do whatever she wants to him. Have told her off as have hubby and dad-in-law but not sure how far the message is going in.

Also had to confiscate the play-dough she was given as she has been trying to mix it with water in the sink and managed to get it all over the bathroom. This after being told as soon as I got through the door that she doesn’t love me because I told daddy to get her hair cut and she wants to grow it long and complaints from her grandmother that Little Lady told her to “go back home – this is not your home, its mine, your home is in Pakistan” (who needs the BNP when you’ve got bossy boots doing their job for them?).

Anyway after she sharpened her pencils all over the floor and Little Man followed by throwing cake all over the floor and on being asked why he was making a mess declared sweetly “Mummy hoover it”, I finally packed them all off to bed and decided to sit in bed and read my pulp-horror no-brainer novel. It was only when I was falling asleep that I remembered that amidst all the telling off, and chasing around that I forgot to give Little Lady a big hug and a kiss and tell her how much I love her.

Dead Time

Don’t you just love that period of limbo between jobs? When you are all excited about starting a new job and don’t want to start anything new or big in your current job because you don’t want to leave it half finished. At the moment things are very quiet at work so trying to find ways to kill time, which I feel bad about because I believe in earning the wages you are paid.

Came back from a week off and find that all of the fuss in the office has died down a bit (see earlier posts “what goes around and what goes around part 2). The main reason seems to be that some of the managers have been off sick and people have just got on with their work the best they can. The other reason seems to be that the David-Brent-alike big boss also had last week off and wasn’t around to make things worse. As he is back this week, there are no guarantees that things will improve.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Eidan Saeedan, Eid Mubarak, Happy Eid

Happy Eid to everyone, hope it was special for each and every one of you. Have had a manic few days (and thats saying something considering I never seem to be able to stop running around like a headless chicklet).

Took a week off and spent most of the time running around preparing for Eid and a big iftar I had planned. In-laws (bless them) rallied around and decided that house should not look like junk shop on Eid (see previous post – Mr Removal Man). So Hubby’s darling parents spent all week scrubbing floors and sofa’s, washing linen and curtains and hiding all the stuff that we accumulate without even trying behind sofa’s, under sofa’s, under beds and forcing more into cupboards. The house looked wonderful and I felt a bit embarrassed that I had allowed it to get into such a mess.

Spent all day Thursday cooking for two families we had invited over to break fast with us (thinking Eid would be on Saturday). Barely had they eaten when news came in from the local mosque that it was Eid the next day. Got the guests fed and out the door and then dragged hubby round local desi shops looking for something to go with my Eid clothes. Spent Thursday night until midnight cooking and started again next morning straight after Fajr salaat. Baby brother-in-law (not exactly a baby, but the youngest of six brothers mashallah) was up until 3am decorating my sitting room which looked great. Had gifts (eidhee) for everyone as both myself and my husband are the oldest siblings in our family, but we both realised by Eid day that we were flat broke and decided not to buy each other anything (I wanted to get him a watch as he has worn his since I gave it to him on our engagement 10 years ago and it recently broke; he wanted to take me away for a few days whilst his parents were here to watch the kids). In the end he bought me a scarf and I bought him socks.


GorgeousLittle Lady with Little Man. (lovely outfits courtesy of grandparents)

Had one family over for lunch and two more over for dinner. Wanted to take pic of meal but was busy serving, then stuffing my face. By evening we were all POOPED, it was a beautiful warm night so we all decided to go for a walk to wind down and it was lovely to see loads of other families out in their finery doing the usual Eid activities (stuffing their gobs, showing off, queuing up outside the indian-sweets shop).
The next day we were invited over to my mums who is defo the best cook in the world and had a lovely meal and got lots of presents (no complaints there). Had fun after that hiding my visiting cousind shoes (very grown up) and making them play hot and cold to find them. They finally found them in the cellar where we switched the light off and locked the door. I would have left them in there longer but fashionista sister finally let them out after 15 minutes. They didn't look very impressed and went off home in a huff (we obviously don't have the same sense of humour).
So now we are finishing off leftovers and trying to prepare for the next six days of fasting in blessed Shawwal-ul-Mukarram. Definitely a whole different ball-game from fasting in Ramadan. May Allah make it easy for all those who attempt this and accept it from us.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Last of the Batch

These are the last of the Eid cards, managed to post them finally on Eid day (can blame the postal strike!!)









Saturday, 6 October 2007

What goes around…part 2

Further to my previous posts about events at work, things are not getting any better. The natural thing to do at times of trouble like these is to rally around, get together, identify the problem being honest about what is going wrong and get down to some real hard work until matters are resolved. So what happened? The sick absence rates have suddenly gone through the roof. The team that sits behind me have one of four staff on two-weeks leave and a further two have called in sick. The fourth is the team leader who has had enough and is threatening to take all next week off sick. The branch manager has also pulled a sickie, giving everyone the chance to dump every awkward file and stray document they can lay their hands on, on his desk in his absence.

Other branches are borrowing what staff we have left (esp the section that started all the trouble and customer services who are having to deal with all of the fed-up clients) so our branch is a bit empty. I overheard another team joking that half had booked leave for next week and the other half were planning to call in sick with a bug and blame it on the air con, which despite complaints is still fluctuating between arctic air blowing out and sub-Saharan temperatures.

Fortunately I have next week off to try to catch up on my ibadat and try to catch the odd nights in the hope of finding Lailat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Decree) and also preparing for Eid.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Final Ashra

Already we are in the last ashra of Ramadan. I am so pleased for those who are able to engage in Itikaf this year, may Allah accept their efforts and reward them abundantly. Its not as easy as it looks, take my grandmother, she did it once about 15 years ago, she had no problem with the prayers, mashallah she normally spends her whole day engaged in talawat and zikr. It was the fact that she was not supposed to speak to us. Her daughter-in-laws would prepare her food and send it to her room via the grandchildren. We had strict instructions to leave the food and come straight back and not to pester gran. We would open the door and shove the food in and rush back, by the end of ten days she was desperate to speak to someone, Eid was a bit of a relief I think.

The effects of Ramadan are beginning to show on many of us now; tiredness, lack of sleep, enormous bags under the eyes, but we have managed to spend 20 days living in a way that pleases Allah and that sets a standard for the rest of the year. I love the way neighbours send food to each other, the fact that other Muslims are so much warmer at this time of year, that the mosque’s are busy even at fajr time and that people try so hard to give up bad habits (except Dad-in-law and his cigarettes, but we are in the process of harassing him into giving them up)

Even so, this Ramadan has been difficult for me in that I have had to accept that with three little ones I cannot do all the taraweeh prayers every night, read as much Quran or manage as much ibadat as previous years and this makes me feel a little like I have lost out on something or am wasting the benefits I could have gained in this precious month. My husband consoles me by saying that he and the rest of the family can undertake their worship in peace because I am taking care of the meals and the children so I will get a reward equal to them, not sure about this, but hope its true.

What goes around…

Every now and again you have a moment of pure sweet justice and I am undergoing a growing sense of such a moment at this time. I joined the office I work in currently on a transfer from another department whilst heavily pregnant. I had to work hard to establish myself in a short time as I knew I was due to go on maternity leave soon; running around, making time to get to know people, trying to appear as professional and capable as I could whilst looking like a beached whale in an abaya and being incredibly uncomfortable.

On return from leave I found that I had been moved from my managerial position to a lesser position (on the same pay so I could not appeal), at the same time the senior manager was new and was on holiday. After a few weeks of feeling neglected, ignored, unchallenged and totally bored I started job-hunting manically.

At the same time this office is run by a clique of arrogant, self-obsessed, prejudiced, nepotists. These people all socialise together (down the pub natch) and have all gotten to where they are by helping each other up the ladder. Rules have been bent and changed for them to progress and in the process, people who are capable, intelligent and experienced have not been given a chance to apply for promotions and get involved in projects or high-profile work.

Recently there have been some big changes in the office due to changes in legislation relating to the work we do. Because the “clique” doesn’t know the work (and in many cases were too thick to be doing the job in the first place) they didn’t see the change in workload coming and could not prepare effectively to deal with it, so now they are up the creek without a paddle. Because morale here is so low and people have always felt intimidated by this bunch, there isn’t exactly a stampede of people rushing forward to help and those that are being roped in are working half-heartedly. Oh – and then they realised that the section causing all the problems has been cooking the figures for the work stats being handed in every week and they are sitting on TONS of work.

As this week has gone by it has been hilarious to watch the bunch of gorillas and gorilless’s marching up and down the office looking worried, and then panicked. Piles of paper appearing all around them and piles of files appearing in the office of on our very own version of David Brent (only my colleague assures me David Brent is a lot nicer). Clients are calling up getting more and more furious as no-one can help them and the section that caused the problem is refusing to answer phones. This is just the beginning. Also the work they are getting is from the office I moved here from last year. So I know how to do it. I might let them know this at some point…I might not. If I do it will be just before I hand my notice in. Just waiting for my letter of confirmation to come from my new employers (great time for a four-day postal strike!).

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Guilt-trippin’ Mama

People often say to me they are impressed by the way I manage home, children, relatives, work and other things. I always smile and feel like a complete and utter fraud. Partly this is because my husband does his share and helps every chance he gets, also at the moment my in-laws are taking care of the kids with granddad doing the school-run and gran helping with the cooking (which unfortunately seems to take over women’s lives in Ramadan).

The flip-side of this is that they are from another generation when raising children was a much more laid-back enterprise. They are not as fussed when the kids are filthy, they wont change nappies the second baby has exploded in one, if Little Lady decides she wants to wear her tiara to school they just let her. All of theses things are probably good as mothers now are under too much pressure to “perform”, to ensure their kids have been fed organic homemade green mush, are perfectly presented, can walk by 6 months and know their ABC’s by 8 months. However, this laid-back-ness has also presented itself in other ways. I got a call yesterday from Little Lady's school about "the man" that collects her (I already explained to the teacher that her grandparents would pick and drop her and also introduced granddad to her), they noticed that he lost the kids twice and wanted me to know about it. Apparently Little Man let go of the pram and wandered out to the school gate, a teacher grabbed him and held him until his granddad came, the other time Little Lady came out of her classroom and ran straight off, Granddad couldn’t see her so he came to the gate to see if she had run outside, she was still inside, so the teachers thought he was about to go off without her. She often runs out of class and towards the gate and I have always stood my ground and refused to move until she comes back and walks home right next to me. The call from the teacher was absolutely mortifying, I felt about three millimetres tall and didn’t know what to say.

Yesterday I got home and the kids were all in the back room playing together like the most civilised children I had ever seen, except there was no adult in sight. After about a minute their gran appeared and explained that she had gone to the bathroom. I never ever let them out if my sight at home or outside, even to go to the bathroom. If it’s an emergency then Gorgeous comes with me. I cannot trust Little Man not to poke Gorgeous in the eye or sit on him. The exception is my mum’s house where she and my three sisters and the cat watch the kids while I let my brain forget I have kids for a few hours.

Hubby and myself have spoken to his parents about this and I felt terrible as I know they are trying to do the best they can and have such good intentions. Also had to speak to Little Lady about holding someone’s hand when she comes out of class and not running off. Anyway, as I am moving to a new job soon (again) which is nearer to home, hopefully I might be able to arrange for me and hubby to do the school run more often ourselves.

The other reason I feel like a bit of a fake, is that as with most working mums I often have to cut corners, so I will be making the chappati’s whilst listening to Little Lady’s Arabic and will have to keep making her repeat herself because I didn’t catch some of it. I’ll also manage to burn some of the food in the process because I am trying to look at her book and cook at the same time.

Also with three children and Gorgeous being the most patient (mashallah), it’s always the littlest one that gets seen to last. I wonder sometimes if our children will ever look back and feel like we have been neglectful or not paid enough attention to them. Wouldn’t motherhood be so much pleasurable without all the guilt-tripping? And if I don’t say anything and just smile when you say I am so organised etc etc, now you know why.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Beautiful Adhaan

My favourite part of the day during Ramadan is Iftar time, not because I am hungry, and not just because at this time, after a very, very long day, I finally get to sit down for a few moments. But because at this time I get to hear the adhaan on the radio. I can feel the tension and fatigue slipping away and my heart filling with peace. Is there any sound beautiful as the adhaan? Is there any better way to reach the hearts of the faithful? Whether its the muezzin of the Haram or the old man in the village mosque in Pakistan. One so majestic it brings you to your knees and the other so humble it brings tears to your eyes. Nothing moves me like the adhaan. Every time I hear it I cannot speak, and when I hear it I pray with tears streaming down my face that Allah gives my sons the chance to perform the call to prayer, perhaps in a beautiful masjid, or perhaps one day just in the old masjid in my grandfathers village.

More Eid Cards






Some more of my Eid cards. Made this batch on the weekend so that I would have enough to send to all my peeps in Pakistan. The first is for my beautiful 1 year-old nephew from Little Man and Gorgeous, the second is from Little Lady to my 10 month old neice. The pink butterfly one is for my 2 sister-in-laws and the blue and purple butterfly one is for my brother-in-laws. I think I will send the orange one to my friend who has moved to Mauritius and who I miss terribly. Still have to make all the ones that I have to give here (phew!!). Just glad to finally get these posted out.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Beware! Muslimah at Work

Having fun with the air con at work, it has been blasting out freezing cold air the last few weeks so everyone is coughing and sneezing and this afternoon its suddenly turned tropical; good to sweat out the cold symptoms everyone is getting I guess.

Aside from this little hitch, the last few years of work have presented their own challenges for me as a Muslim woman. I have worn hijaab since half way through university so this was something that was there right from when I started working. I find that whenever I start in a new place everyone assumes that I must be very reserved and quiet and far too serious to joke with (I wish!). Some people presume I must be the new temp rather than their new manager and some even seem to be wondering if I can speak English. I have learnt that it is my job to manage perceptions about myself. One of the biggest issues I have had is shaking hands. A great way to make a strong first impression; with a firm handshake, only I don’t want to shake hands with a man. Usually I try to avoid this by having my hands full of files or saying hello very quickly and rushing into whatever we are supposed to be doing so that handshakes are forgotten. However occasionally I have to explain to people that I don’t shake hands and their responses vary - embarrassed, understanding, respectful or occasionally a little insulted. (When my husband worked for a wholesaler, he often met with female company reps and would just say to them the only woman whose hand he could touch was his wife - which would just make them go aaaahh!).

Another thing I do to affect the way people see me is dress as professionally as possible. Although I have worn abaya since the last two years, I co-ordinate these with a smart jacket, matching khimar and smart pumps (I know I shouldn’t wear them but I love my heels – you can tower over all your staff). Aside from that the hijab forces people to look at you as a person to be respected rather than another bird at the office with nice legs or big breasts. Plus if you see my beloved giant mock-croc bag you know I mean business.

When I first started praying five times a day, I’d miss any prayers that fell during work hours and make them up at home. However one of the benefits of working for the government is that in the last few years most government offices have put aside place for prayer/meditation rooms, so there is no excuse to miss prayers. The real issue though is making wudu. This is usually in the disabled loos (for privacy) and can be a mission at times. At my current office, the sink is high up and almost too small to fit your foot in. When I was heavily pregnant my main concern was not what if I should fall over but what if I put my fat swollen foot in the sink and the sink came off the wall (I’m serious, this has been a major fear through all three of my pregnancies). The upside though is that your prayer becomes an oasis of peace in the middle of the day. A dawah too as often people walk in and see you and are awed by the beauty of the Muslim prayer. Maybe will put up a post with my thoughts about dawah and work some time soon.

Anyway, almost time for me to escape from this sweltering human jungle.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Happy Mama Feeling a Bit Left Out.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to see if there were other women in a similar position to me out there (other reasons include I’m a bit of a show-off astaghfirullah and also that I was inspired by the likes of the wonderful Sunni Sister, Umar Lee, Writeous Sister Speaks, Precious Modesty and Indigo Jo Blogs – whose blogs are far more cerebral and important than this one mashallah). Anyway, I find my situation a bit unique. I don’t quite fit in with the school-run mums because they all see each other every day, whereas I see them occasionally, although a few have been lovely and very friendly and made things easier for me because of this.

All the young hijabi mums mostly do not work and many are very judgemental when they find that you do work, often more-so the ones born and raised here, many of whom are very well educated (these are often the mothers who home-school, organise Muslim play-groups and run sisters circles. I am in awe of them and to be honest a little bit fearful of them sometimes, expecting to be told off for something). The ones from “back home” (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia etc – this is a very mixed neighbourhood) are often surprised that I work and some are honest enough to say that they wish they had the time/nerve/English to go back to school or get a job.

The people my age at work (and in general) don’t have kids, home, husband, in-laws etc to contend with (alhamdulillah) and so often I feel that I do not have a lot in common with them, especially when many people my age are most concerned with music, I-pods, trainers, the latest skin-flick or drinking and clubbing (muslim or not) which kind of don’t interest me (at all). Most of the working mums here are quite a bit older and just want to do they’re days work and head out first chance they get. All of my closest friends are just getting married or have not had a child yet except one, who every time we see each other smile knowingly whilst we drag along our shopping and kids. I know there are sisters out there like me: teachers, public servants, office workers, doctors and lawyers and allsorts else. I hope this blog can, amongst other things, be a medium for me to learn from them and be inspired by them.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Dodgy Neighbours.

I mentioned these guys in a previous post. When we first moved into this house one of the bonuses we soon found was that we had absolutely lovely neighbours on both sides and we soon made friends with a few of the more gregarious people living on the road. However, about a year or so ago, two families related to each other have moved in, one on the opposite side a bit further down and the other behind our lovely next-door neighbours (their back gardens touch). I hope I don’t sound like a big snob, but boy are they rough! At first they just hung about on the road smoking and blocking the way for my pram to get through, then they started speeding up and down the road in their old banger cars at night (rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…clunk..clunk). Since then there has been a big rise in car radios and other items being stolen from parked cars at night. I maintained that it probably wasn’t them and despite what they look like, they seem harmless. My husband on the other hand was adamant it was them. He never leaves his car radio in the car at night, the one night he forgot – yep, it was gone.

Soon after this, I was performing my Isha salaat at about 12pm and some crazy 70’s disco music started up really loud from the house behind. My husband ran out into the garden and I could hear him shouting at them (OI SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! OOOIII SHUUUUT UUUP!!!!!!! – I tried not to giggle and break my salaat astaghfirullah), they carried on regardless, until about 12.30 when they suddenly stopped and my hubby came in and went to bed. In the morning I found out why he was looking so pleased with himself. When they ignored him, he pulled some pears off the tree that overhangs into the garden and started aiming them at the revellers, after about a minute of this pummelling they switched off the music and all ran inside.

Didn’t think much more of this except when walking Little Lady to school saw a nice car parked on the road round the corner to us with its front passenger window just smashed out (my husband noticed the radio was gone). Still didn’t want to think it was them. Then yesterday hubby spoke to the guy who lives directly behind us; he is truly fed up of them. On one side he has one of the families living next to him, on the other side he has an empty plot of land with a creaky old shed in it, which said merrymaking family have been using as a social club. He decided to have a look one day and found it full of purses, handbags and other items like condoms. One of the wallets contained a number on an invoice and on calling it he found the wallet belonged to a brother in a nice part of town. He said that someone had smashed his front window a year ago and whilst he and his family were sleeping, burgled his house, took his wallet and the car keys for his Mercedes and stole his car CD-player and other items from his car.
Hmm, I don’t think we should go stomping up and rounding up the two families up, but nor should the whole matter be ignored. Think I might just e-mail my councillor, who is a very good helpful man, not about the families, but about the plot of land being misused and the items being found there.

In the meantime more and more of these guys happen to be congregating on our road and the main road it adjoins, during the day, I think they come in from the next borough and a few from other roads locally (what you thought they worked? pah! What’s really worrying though is their kids don’t seem to go to school). They drink all day, race their cars and talk very loudly (although can’t complain about the last bit I’m Punjabi). Up until now just been ignoring them thinking even if they are different they are no trouble to anybody, not so sure now.

Mr Removal Man

I usually try to keep on top of things, but with Ramadan here there are piles of washing everywhere (how do three kids go through enough stuff to clothe an army? Little Lady’s clothes are covered in paint, Little Man’s in mud and grass, and Gorgeous’s in baby-food), sink is always full of dishes (i.e. right up to the tap, on the window-sill, the counter and the sink drainer) and house is a tip. Alhamdullilah, you can’t be gorgeous and keep a perfect house ;-).

My husband started his business recently, he does removals, delivery and house clearances, so he keeps turning up with all sorts of thing, the other day he turned up with beautician course books (ahem, I’m sure I’ll think of something to do with them) and a very cool, very heavy clock that looks like a car tyre. The hands and the spokes all blend in, so at suhoor and iftar time, we all sit there peering up at it for ages, think I will paint the arms. A few days ago he had a customer who’s uncle used to run an electronics business (that’s Asian’s for you – uncles everywhere) and left all his stuff behind at her house, she gave them to hubby to flog (printers, camera’s, a maaassive TV etc) and split the proceeds. So at the moment my front room looks like a mini-warehouse, and we have to keep the curtains shut in case the dodgy family down the road catch sight of the stuff (might do a post about them).

Last week he did a warehouse move and the owner gave him a case of little olive-oil bottles (the baby-massage type), a crate of Fanta and a wholesale pack of loo-roll (will be useful seeing how many relatives like to descend on our humble home). What more can a girl ask for?

One day he turned up with a giant mirror the size of one of our walls (he and his brother tried jumping on it, then he bashed it with a hammer, it still didn’t break, so he brought it home – just as well, I don’t like to see things destroyed or wasted). In the end we sold it for £30, plus he charged £20 to deliver it to the guy who bought it!

On the downside they did a house-move for brother-in-laws friend who paid them by giving them a car (I still maintain it saved him from having to pay to get it scrapped). I spent a good chunk of my maternity leave growing flowers in pots for the front garden, they were just all blooming at the same time (fuchsia, mini-rose, some stringy anemone’s, freesia’s), when this lovely rusty silver Sunny Datsun (I think that’s the right name) turns up and is parked right in front of the pots so you cant see them from the street. Then we found out that in-laws are coming, so we had to clear our spare-room out and had no-where to put the stuff (Asian’s can never, ever, ever have enough storage). All the stuff went into the car. So we have it parked outside full of bags, boxes, a pram and an enormous teddy in the driving seat. Only consolation is my husbands big van is parked on the road just outside the house, which obscures the view of our whole house and front anyway.

So you can imagine what my house looks like at the mo (3 adults, three kids and endless junk) and why life has become chaotic. Two more in-laws due on Saturday, so more helping hands inshallah – plus Eid pressies hopefully.

In a way this has been good for me. I am so used to clock-watching and order and routine and having everything just so, that the only way to deal with the mess is to chill out a bit about the state of things and stick to what is important: taking care of the little kids, the big kids and myself and also making the most of Ramadan (don’t you always feel you never made the most of this precious time?).

Hope that all of my brothers and sisters are keeping in good health, that you are able to worship as much as possible, and that all of your dua’s are being accepted. Ameen.

Ramadan Kareem

“Ramadan Kareem”
There finally got round to saying it (after the first third has passed). Hope you are all making the most of lovely Ramadan. The time is flying by; the ashra of forgiveness is already gone. How can that be? I must have tonnes of stuff I still have to say “sorry” and “please, please, please forgive me” to Allah for and the best chance is already gone. No guarantees that any of us will see next Ramadan, and when the refuge of this beloved month is gone how much less will our ibadat and dua’s be worth? May Allah give us the effort to make the most of this time and benefit from it as much as possible.

Monday, 10 September 2007

My grandmother

Have a week off work as its Little Ladies first week of school. Her first day went great, she had an argument with a little boy over the play-dough and when we went to pick her up, Little Man managed to make one of the boys in her class cry (I have no clue what he did, I didn't see and LM would'nt say). She absolutely loved it though. Still looked a bit nervous this morning, but their new teacher is an angel; hugs and kisses and big smiles for her whole class.

So this morning I am being a house-wife (ha ha ha - is there still such a thing?) and putting my home in order. Dad-in-law coming over to stay from Pakistan on Thursday so have to get our junk out of his room. Mother-in-law and brother-in-law will follow later in Ramadan, so hopefully by Eid the house will be packed to bursting. (I wonder if I will be so chirpy about this in a couple of weeks - anyway nothing can get me down on Eid - oh except last year when I waited all day and realised I wasn't getting anything then burst into tears half way through the second day of Eid - I think hubby will know better this year).

Anyway may go visit gran today, she lives with my parents and expects to spend every day I have off work with her (didn't tell her had week off). She lived with me for about two years before my Dad got fed up of our crazy living arrangements and took her home with him (which happens to be about five minutes walk away) Looking after her was the one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have done. She has osteo-athritis so cant walk further than the bathroom, she is partially deaf and sees with a magnifying glass (Little lady broke the last one) and she is one of the sharpest people I know. She was amongst the earlier group of immigrants from Pakistan and followed my late grandfather here in the 1960's. At that time all of the (South) Asians in London mostly knew each other and my Grandparents were always very hospitable and social people. Because of them I grew up in a full and busy house and that is what I try to emulate in my own home. Even now that she is mostly confined to her room she still gets guests most days (much to my mums chagrin) and she sits and talks with them for hours. A lot of family friends who have known her since they were young and are now my parents age and have lost their own parents see her as a mother and come to talk to her when they are down.

I was her carer from the time I was expecting Little lady until after I had Little Man (about two and a half years). She was much more work than my children as anyone who has looked after an elderly person will testify. But she knew so much about looking after a baby (having seven children and dozens of grandchildren and now eight great-grandchildren) and gave me better advice than even the health visitor could. I would leave the baby with her whilst I was in the kitchen and she would recite Quran or tasbih whilst she watched the baby. Our house had guests most days(for Muslims guests bring blessings and honour into a home).

She is also a great story-teller, she has a mind which has oftened been likened to a super-computer by freinds and family and will recall details of a story like it happened yesterday (although she has a tendency to go off on a tangent half-way through and also tell you the names of the last twelve generations of the person she is talking about). For someone so old and pious she is also a great mimic and loves taking the mickey out of other old people (defo a role-model!!). If you annoy her and you are from one of the families she knows she will innocently recount a very embarrassing story about your granddad from back home or when he first came here.

I think she was happy in my home because there were so many young people (my parents are very nice and proper) and we used to pester her into going out places with us so she wasn't stuck at home all the time (My husband took her to the park one time and started chasing pigeons with her wheelchair - while she was still in it, she threatened to knock him out with her walking stick). I think the other reason was my little ones - those bundles of grubby noisy joy.

Some things I dont miss are washing her dentures for her (yuck, yuck, yuck) and washing her walking stick (thats my gran for you) but she gets my sisters who are still at home to do that for her (mainly long-suffering sister gets stuck with that job as she is the kindest and most helpful - the other two think work or chores of any kind are bad for their health).

I think I might go get Little Lady after school and go visit gran today (still not telling her I have the week off though)

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Little Lady's First Day at School

Little Lady's First Day at School
Have day off work today as Little Lady's first day at infant school, looked so little to be wearing a school uniform. She wasn't very pleased about the early morning but brightened considerably when she saw her new teacher who is absolutely lovely. Felt so sad to leave her, but must have been so much harder for the stay-at-home mums and all the children who haven't been to nursery before. Its like breaking a peice of your heart off and leaving it somewhere else whilst the part thats left inside you aches away (sorry to be so melodramataic, but thats how it feels to me).
Anyway gave me time to go through all the stuff have been accumulating all year for Ramadan and Eid. Going to make my Ramadan gift baskets over the weekend so will try to add pics when done. Split the stuff by who will get it (girls, boys and little kids - in our family we only tend to give to those younger than us, I'm the oldest of my siblings and and all my cousins so maybe that tradition needs to be reconsidered!) and stashed it round the house where hopefully little lady will leave alone. Rest of the bitty stuff I have stored in two bags - one for ladies party favors and one for kids party bags. These will be for my after Eid party. Also went through my kids toys and pulled out Macdonald's happy meal toys, key-rings, badges and allsorts of other things for the kids party bags (waste of money to buy these ready made)I know it seems kind of shallow to be thinking of Eid before Ramadan has started, but thefeason I do this is so that firstly I can put it all away and forget about it till right near Eid. Secondly I remember growing up thinking how great Christmas looked but not being able to join in. My father was a strong traditional Muslim, alhumdulillah, so no tree, no presents, no joining in the school nativity play (lots of good films on telly and lots of cheap chocs after Christmas, so not all bad). I can see why he did this now, but I want something for my children thats as much fun for them. So over the last few years I have made a tradition of giving gifts rather than straight cash, having a big party after Eid for all the ladies to meet up and bring their kids, getting everyone excited in the run-up to Ramadan and generally harrassing everyone into joing in and meeting up. I try to keep the cost down as much as London is sooo expensive and also I know that Allah does not love wastefulness. I buy lots of the stuff at 75% off and pound-shops through the year and stash it and I make my own gift baskets, gift boxes and cards.
Anyway time to go get Little Lady and see how her first morning went.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Crafty Mum - Eid Cards






As things have gotten so hectic right now I'm glad that I made a whole load of my Eid cards in June whilst I was on maternity leave. Few more to go (if I ever get a spare second) and I will be done. Sorry the pictures arent great, kooky little sis gave me a hand at taking them as I am still getting the hang of the digital camera lark.






Saturday, 25 August 2007

Salaam

Just over two weeks to go to Ramadan!!! I usually love this time of the year and try to make the most of it, but this year for some reason I was feeling a little fearful. Next week my four-year old (little lady) starts school, last week my two year old (little man) started with potty-training, a stop-start affair, and I am still breast-feeding the six-month old (gorgeous), who seems to have started teething already (yeeaah). I've also only been back at work for six weeks. My in-laws are planning to come visit from Pakistan (mum, dad, naughty little brother-in-law) to help with the kids for six months so extra cooking at suhoor and iftar time. I was thinking about early morning feeds and cooking sessions and long taraweeh prayers and feeling guilty for not just being ecstatic that lovely Ramadan is here when I saw Sarah Joseph's latest editorial in her excellent Emel magazine. She spoke about the fear she felt of not making the most of Ramadan or of not fasting all the way through and how she looked back at the acheivements and lessons of past Ramadan's to encourage her. She really inspired me. I'm going to take one day at a time this special month and make the most of it, if it all gets too much I'll book time off work and sleep all day and make everyone eat toast for suhoor and dates and chips from the chippy for iftar, hee hee hee.
May Allah help us to take as much blessing from this month as possible InshAllah.