Monday 31 December 2012

Deen Creations Cross Stitch Kits

This year I came across Deen Creations by a lovely local sister: Lelya Amatullah.  She has turned her love of cross stitch into a business selling cross stitch kits and personalised gifts.

I decided to try out one of her cross stitch kits, thinking it would be easy and take no time at all.  I got this one to try and keep my hands busy and my mind occupied whilst I was pregnant.  I managed to get the pattern wrong in the first attempt and had to start again.  On the second attempt I managed to get a quarter done.  I still have a way to go, but hardly ever have my hands free now to finish it, so I am hoping I can get Little Lady to help me complete this.  Luckily there is a generous amount of thread, enough to accommodate my mistake.

In all, I think this is a lovely kit and a really nice product.  It's not as easy as I thought and will take a bit of care and patience to complete.  I think this would be nice to complete and hand in my in-laws room for when they are back in a few months (Crafty Muslimah Sister Washi also tried out one of these and completed hers, you can see her review and the finished cross stitch here).

Picture of the Day 31.12.12 - Home Made Biscuits

Fashionista Sister came to visit this week and brought some biscuits she had made herself.  They tasted good, with that fresh home made taste.

She knows hubby is away so she makes the effort to come down and spend some time with me and the kids.  She even does the washing up for me whilst she is here and keeps the kids in line.  The kids love her being here.  She stayed overnight and stayed downstairs with Little Lady past midnight.  They think I don't know they were up.  They didn't know I was up past 1am reading so knew they weren't in bed.

Friday 28 December 2012

Puzzle and Game Find

I have been trying to keep the kids busy this week without resorting to back to back TV.  I thought of buying them some board games which we could play together or some jigsaws which my boys like, but found them rather pricey.  In the end I found some bargains at a local charity shop including unused Scrabble and Monopoly Deluxe games for £4 each (RRP £20 and £25 each in the high street).

Playing Scrabble with my boys was an interesting experience, especially when I put "enema" on the board and they all wanted to know what it was!

I also found a couple of puzzles for between £1 and £3 each.  The one below took Kooky Little Sister about two hours to make...

...before Gorgeous jumped on it.

The puzzles turned out to be a good investment because the kids have played with them every day.  They'll also come in handy next time I have my sisters and cousins round for dinner (We've already had one game of scrabble with eight of us and it was great fun)

Sunday 23 December 2012

Little Ladies Journal

I recently had the idea of creating a journal for Little Lady to keep her occupied during the holidays.  It was originally meant for half term break in October, but I never managed to get it finished at the time.

I had this lovely book full of thick plain paper which I had been saving for something special,  

I started with a message for LL

I found the inspiration for the pages from various places, including various journalling websites.  I thought it would be good for her to explore her inner world and learn to articulate her thoughts.

She started filling in the pages as soon as I gave it to her.  This was my favourite bit in the journal  (number six about her little sister).

I'm very interested to see what the letters below will look like, especially the one to her dad (as the two are always squabbling).

I know this will keep her occupied, now i just have to think of lots of things to do with the boys, although I am starting each day asking them what they would like to do so we can plan the day together.  

At the moment, they have disappeared downstairs whilst I feed the baby and type this with one hand and I can hear the hoover.  I asked Little Man what they are doing and he tells me that Little Lady is washing dishes and he is hoovering.  A pretty good start to the day I reckon!  Let's see how long this lasts.

Finding Things To Do

Usually the children's holidays are something I and hubby look forward to.  No school run, no pack lunches, bags or uniforms and lots of time together.  This time round I am wondering what I am going to do with them and how I am going to keep my sanity.  I remember now why mum used to be so relieved when the five of us rowdy siblings went back to school after holidays.

There is little happening at the moment that doesn't involve Santa's grotto or making Christmas cards or decorations, so I took them to see an exhibition of South Indian performance costumes (Kathakali).

Little Man's first comment? "This is boring! Is this it?".  We had a good look round and the kids seemed engrossed.  As we left Little Man again commented "this is booorrriiing!"

I am going to have to think of things to do with this lot other than watch films on iplayer and places to go other than the shopping centre.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

One-Dish Party

I attended a one-dish party yesterday.  All of the sisters from our Islamic circle were invited.  I got all excited because I don't usually go to this kind of thing.  I had assumed that all of the sisters do these all the time and invite each other and that I was missing out because I worked (and maybe because I am one of the few who don't wear niqab).

Which is stupid really, because the lady who organised it told me they did it once a year and they sooo looked forward to it.  Also because this isn't high school and I haven't just been invited to join the group of popular girls (especially considering niqabi's haven't exactly been celebrated in this country in the last few years).

Any way, I found something nice to wear.  I learnt my lesson after the last time I got invited to a women's only do with mainly niqabi's.  When these ladies get to dress up, boy do they dress up.  As one of my dearest friends said "we supress it and supress it, we can't even get dressed up at weddings because some guy will come wandering round, so when we let go, we really let go" (she was wearing head to toe hot pink and lots of gold jewellery when she said this).

Baby (I think I'm going to call her Darling on this blog because that's what Little Lady has named her anyway) wore the flouncy new dress that Fashionista's brother-in-law bought for her.

I was exempted from cooking anything because of Darling, but felt like making something, so made aloo chaat (recipe here) and baked chicken (recipe here)

I had a really nice time and it was lovely to have such nice company.  The food was gorgeous too, although a lot of sisters had made some variation or other of chicken (note to self - the salad all disappeared  so make some type of salad next time).

The lady of the house was kind enough to pack some to take with us, so I even had my dinner sorted.  The nicest thing though was that all of the ladies present were practising sisters - the things we talked about were fun, useful or interesting, but never dirty and definitely no backbiting, which is rare in a group of women unfortunately.  They also remembered to mention Allah (SWT):

Abu Hurayra stated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:"No people sit in a gathering in which Allah Almighty is not mentioned and in which their Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is not blessed without it being a cause of great diminishment for them. If He likes, He will punish them, and if He likes, He will forgive them." - Tirmidhi

It was a lovely way to spend a few hours and made my day.  I think I might organise one of these soon too.  I just have to make sure the kids don't find out.  They seem to think I am at home cooking and cleaning and waiting for them to come home from school.  If they find out I am having fun, they will refuse to go to school.

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:“A person is on the religion of his companions. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.” - Tirmidhi

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”  - Bukhari, Muslim

Monday 17 December 2012

Picture of the Day 17.12.12 - Little Foodie

One thing I and Little Man share in common is our love of food.  He is the most likely to take turns with me in visiting the kitchen to raid the cupboards and he is the most likely to be found in the kitchen nosing around when I am cooking.

This kid loves fruit of every kind.  He is the only one patient enough in our house to sit and de-seed  a pomegranate and cuts one open every day after school.

These are in season somewhere at the moment so we are getting them very sweet and juicy.  I usually take a few from the top of his bowl.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Giveaway Reminder: Making Memories My Memories Suite Software

Last Sunday I announced a give-away for the making Memories Scrap-booking Software.  There are two days to go to leave a comment if you would like to win a copy.

The MyMemories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software is worth $39.95 (US) and can be used for photobooks, custom printing, banners, cards and printable templates as well as for scrap booking.

If you would like to win a copy, just visit the Making Memories website and choose your favourite digital kit, then please leave a comment on this post saying what you would like to use the software for.  You can visit the Making Memories website and read more about the My Memories Suite being offered here.

The winner will be chosen  on Sunday 16th December 2012 and announced shortly after.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

A Bad Day Made Better

You know those days, when things start going wrong and then they just keep going wrong?  The kind of day better spent in bed until it’s over?  That’s the kind of day I had yesterday.

I was woken at am by a blazing toothache – both the tooth and sinus pain combined at a time when I can’t really take strong painkillers because i am nursing.  I made dua until the pain subsided somewhat and I fell back asleep.

I ended up missing my dawn prayer.  Because I am breastfeeding, my body is a little all over the place and every now and again I am really unclear as to whether I should pray not (Muslim women don’t pray when they are menstruating).  I know the rulings, but still ending up having doubts.

I managed to get the kids ready for school and out of the door, but on the way a car clipped Little Man as we were crossing and then sped off without stopping.  It scared the life out of me and totally broke my heart that someone could leave my boy in a heap in the street.  Thankfully he was not seriously hurt.  His cheek was bruised and he was shaken.  The road was icy, so the car had reversed a little and knocked and he slipped over.

I calmed him down, got the others to school and then spoke to his teacher to let her know what had happened and that I would be taking him home.  I got him checked out at a local walk-in centre and was given the all-clear (after waiting over an hour to be seen for barely five minutes).

On the way to the walk-in centre, I posted some parcels.  Twenty minutes later I remembered I had put the baby’s change bag down in the post office and forgot to pick it up.  We rushed back and found it still sitting on the floor by the counter. 

Whilst we were at the walk-in centre I was thinking to myself that I had to be positive and not think “what next”.  I prayed to Allah (SWT) to turn my day around and to protect my children.  Guess what?  Allah (SWT) is the best of helpers and the one who listens to our prayers.  As I waited to see a doctor, Fashionista sister called to say she was nearly outside the clinic.

I had messaged my sisters to tell them what had happened and she had told her in-laws.  Her brother-in-law left work to drive her almost an hour from Luton to London.  They picked us up from the centre and took us home.  They bought us lunch, washed a sink full of dishes and kept us company.  Fashionista the insisted on cooking for us and left two big pots of food (the girl has inherited my mum’s knack for cooking - yummy chicken curry and brown daal below).

Kooky Little Sister dropped by after work with lego to distract the kids (lego baker set for Little Lady below)  and Shutterbug Sister soon followed to see how the kids were.  Alhamdlillah, I felt very lucky to have these guys around me to lend me their support when I needed it.

The police came round in the evening to explain what could happen next (I have to fill out a form and then they will speak to the driver).  I am usually terrified of police, but the one who came to see me was the weediest policeman ever and very nice.  I only had half the number plate and no details from the only witness.  However, on the way to school to pick the children up, I saw the same car again and noted the plates – the driver was not there.  I also saw the car of the witness and noted her number plate too.  I wouldn't have pursued the matter as Little Man wasn't seriously hurt, but for the fact that this person didn't stop.  I kept thinking, what if he had been older and I hadn't been there, my kind son would have been left crying in a heap on the road.

Little Man is fine now, apart from a phone call from his school this morning saying he had tripped and bruised his head, but was well enough to stay in school.  This to add to the bruise he got last week when he bumped into one of the big boys.  He really is one of those children who falls over his own feet. 

Strangely enough, I got a call from my in-laws this evening.  It was 2am at their end (Pakistan time).  I thought it was a bit strange they were calling me at that time just to ask how everything was, until dad-in-law mentioned he’d had a bad dream that worried him and he wanted to know we were okay.  I told him what had happened and that Little Man was fine and he wasn't to worry.

Monday 10 December 2012

The Musings of a Fashionista

I and Kooky Little Sister must have made it look like fun, because now Fashionista Sister has joined is in blogland with her new blog Jojo Jeenius where she offers up her thoughts on fashion, teaching, baking and being a newly-wed.

Winter Bazaar and Ice Skating

I told the kids we would do something fun and we did:

Little Lady and Gorgeous seem to have a knack for skating.  I was perfectly happy to watch (last time I fell over skating it took me a week to recover).

There was also a winter bazaar at the same location and I came home with a bag of halal jelly sweets and some scarves with Arabic lettering printed on which I just loved.

Straight after the winter bazaar, we went to our weekly Islamic circle where there was a guest speaker.  I would like to say they were good, but I fell fast asleep in the lecture.  I went home feeling very refreshed.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Starting Again, Once Again

I had a very ordinary day yesterday – shopping, a visit from my best friend, dinner at my mums, but in some ways it was one of these pivotal days for me, the kind that turns things on their head and changes my thinking.
I have had a busy few days and had been quite short with the children since the morning.  Funnily I was aware I was doing things the wrong way and let my emotions sweep me along.  I was getting more and more annoyed with the children and grumpier and snappier.  Things came to a head at the end of the day during bedtime with me yelling at them and saying some very unkind things which I did not mean.

Looking back on my day, I can see some of the things which led to this: tiredness, lack of sleep, missing my husband and not being able to share talk of my day and the children with him.  The baby is still waking through the night, so I have very broken sleep and there are periods during the day when I get very groggy.  I am breastfeeding, which means I spend lots of time sitting and which has left me with a very sore upper back.  I also find my lower back is not as strong as it was so every now and again, it gives way and I am left unable to move easily.

At the same time, having a tiny one means that she keeps me so busy that I can do little else.  She has a period of a few hours in the morning where she sleeps when I have to prioritise and rush through everything that needs to be done for the day.  This means that there are messy carpets, piles of laundry and stacks of dishes.  I am a very visual person, so mess causes me to be anxious and means I struggle to focus on priorities, so I end up leaving something that is important for something that is in my way.

It is funny, but I had a ridiculous notion that I would be having a nice long holiday from work, doing lots of crafts, writing and blogging, classes, courses, learn to drive, sew and become a fabulous chef.  Despite having three children, I somehow forgot that maternity leave is for rest and to look after a baby and that that baby will take up pretty much all of that time.

In reality, I can deal with exhaustion, I can try to ignore the dishes and laundry whilst there are more important things to deal with, I can accept that I won’t get much done during maternity leave and that making sure baby is healthy and happy is enough of an achievement.  What I struggle with is feeling judged as a mother.  I have had a few people say that my kids need to be calmer, cleaner, tidier and more respectful.  I know that the people who say these things don’t mean any harm, but over time, this has made me doubt my ability and methods as a mother and see faults in my children.

 I realise now that when other people are around and I feel as if I am being observed, I am harsher with my children.  I am quicker to tell them off and to find elements of their behaviour unacceptable which I would normally let go.  I realised that this is parenting according to other peoples standards on not on my own terms.

I understand the need for good manners in my children, but if I am hurtful or cruel in trying to get them to be good then for me that defeats the point.  For my children to be kind and good natured, I need to calm and patient and loving.  I believe that good manners without good character to underpin them leads to snobbery as the good manners are not to show respect or compassion to others but to show that you are somehow better.  But good manners in conjunction with compassion lead to a consideration and respect of others.  Shouting at my children and saying unkind things may force them to behave, but it will not help them to have good character or teach them how to be compassionate

It reminded me of something I wrote over four years ago (here):

This excellent article...made me think about what it means to me to be a mother. It helped me to put together my own definition of what a great mother would be like and also try to create a definition that felt realistic and achievable to me.

·         Love unconditionally
·         Allow yourself to be loved
·         Have fun, sing, laugh, play
·         Let your children guide and lead you
·         Come down to your children’s love
·         Stop saying NO all the time
·         Be honest
·         Value and honour yourself as a mother
·         Allow yourself to make mistakes and when you do to start again.

In the end I called my children together and apologised for shouting at them and for saying unkind things.  I reassured them that I did not mean them and that I loved them all.  Little Man refused to come out from under his blanket where he was lying with tears in his eyes.  I held him for a long while as I spoke to all of them and it felt as if both of us were being soothed. 

I asked them to help me by trying very hard to be kind to each other and to take care of our volume levels so that the baby can sleep long enough for me to do the things I need to do.  I told them that we would have a good day tomorrow.  It reminded me of the power of affection.  Having a new baby has meant that everyone’s bedtimes are hurried and I have been distracted.  Today was a good reminder that I need to kiss and hug and hold them much more, they are growing so quickly and this is the time to make the most of their affection.

I left them in bed and went back to feeding the baby.  I heard noise downstairs and went to investigate and found Little Lady had sneaked out of bed and was trying to tackle the pile of dishes for me in an attempt to help.  I brought her back upstairs and let her climb into bed with me and her little sister.

I think today we will do something nice together and I will try to focus on enjoying my children whilst they are still little. 

“Know that the cock-eyed definition of motherhood to which most of us are trying to measure up, makes it very hard to love being a mom. Only when you begin to write your own definition of great mothering, embracing the contradictions within, will you truly feel at home in your new life” - Mary Stark (2006)

Giveaway: Making Memories My Memories Suite Software

Up until now I have used mostly ready-made motifs and lettering in my cards, banners and projects.  I've found this expensive and have been trying to create simple ones of my own on MS Word and via free graphics on the internet with mixed success.  So I have been looking for something a little more professional to use when customising cards, decorations, banners, gifts and gift tags and labels.

This is why when Making Memories gave me the chance to try out their MyMemories Suite Software to try out and review, I was keen to give it a try.  I am not much of a scrap-booker, although I am trying to find some time to catch up with the journals I keep for my children, but I would like to give it a try for some of my projects.  Insh’Allah I will be having a go and posting the results with more detail of how easy I found it to use.

Making Memories have also offered one further copy of the software to one blog reader.  If you would like to win a copy, just visit the Making Memories website and choose your favourite digital kit, then please leave a comment on this post saying what you would like to use the software for.  You can visit the Making Memories website and read more about the My Memories Suite being offered here.

The winner will be chosen and announced on Sunday 16th December 2012.