Tuesday 30 December 2014

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

We have had guests from Scotland staying for the past few days, with seven of us and six friends (three adults and three kids) it has been a full, raucous and fun house.  It came just as I was wondering what I could do with the kids and meant that they spent the three days sleeping late, having midnight picnics, camping in the living room with their sleeping bag and generally getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Our guests did ask me to join them during the days they were out sightseeing but I declined because it felt challenging with Baby just falling into a good routine with nursing and bottle feeds and with Little Lady having school right up until New Years Eve.

My husband suggested that we visit Winter Wonderland, which is a fair that is set up in Central London's Hyde Park every year.  I had looked at the online reviews of which there were many negative ones and was a bit worried that it would be too crowded, the kids would get shoved about, too expensive and maybe not much fun if you are not spending tons of money on the rides.

To begin with I was shocked that we found parking space underneath the park and that it was fairly reasonable given London's reputation for parking.  The walk across the park was nice with the wonderland fair lights in the distance.

Have heard lots about the Magical Ice Kingdom, but the cost with the number of us there were, meant we gave it a miss.

There were lots of funfair rides, places to eat and stalls.  Lots of people complained that these were a rip off, but I thought that most of the stalls were okay and some of them had really nice handmade things.

We asked the kids to pick a ride and they spent so long squabbling about which one (they wanted scary, I wanted them to pick one less scary).  By the time we agreed on a ride, the rides were closing and the kids accused me of missing their ride aaalll the way back to the car (I pointed out to hubby , how it is always my fault and not both of ours).

Once we were out of the Wonderland and into the park, hubby decided to give the kids a ride and grabbed Gorgeous by the arms and swung him round and round high in the air.  Everyone was in hysterics and all of the kids wanted a turn.

It was nice walking through the park in the dark, it felt safe with so many people and I loved how creepy the trees looked.

In all, I enjoyed the evening there and I don't think it is a complete rip-off or that you have to spend tons of money to have fun.  The atmosphere was lovely and there were lots of opportunities to have fun taking silly pictures for the kids with yeti's, snowmen and pirates.

Picture of the Day: 24.12.14 - City Lights

 When we were children it was tradition in my family every winter to for everyone to pile into our little car and get driven into the centre of London to see the Christmas lights.  My dad was quite religious and quite strict about not celebration Christmas, but even he thought it was a nice thing to do.  The sheer number of us in that car (five adults with kids in everyone's laps would be illegal now and probably people would think seeing the lights isn't very exciting.

But for some reason I still enjoy it.  My husband got us all into the car one evening and drove us into town to drive around the Oxford Street area.

The kids loved it and all five fell asleep in the car.  We had a long drive home with the two of us enjoying each others company, chatting and enjoying our rare quiet time.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

This Is Not My Faith

The sad deaths in Sydney following a hostage situation were bad enough, the horror that is unfolding in Iraq and Syria was horrific enough and then the devastating news today of over a hundred children killed in an attack on a school in Peshawar in Pakistan by the Taliban.

I have been thinking of the children who did not come home to their waiting mothers today. Of the parents who had to identify their children’s dead bodies. Of the people who are already burying their children. Of the children who saw their friends murdered, their teachers die in front of them, who are injured and in pain now.

Every mother knows the constant anxiety and worry being a mother brings with it – a child’s fever keeps us up all night, if we lose sight of them for a few minutes in a mall, our heart cannot bear the terror. So to live through what has happened in Peshawar today is unfathomable.

These events have become all too common around the world and again and again we find ourselves explaining that it is nothing to do with our faith, that we don’t recognise the people who do these things or their interpretation of Islam. I can’t explain why they do the cruel things they do and really why would I be able to? This is not the faith I was raised in and embraced. The Muslim people I know don’t think or behave like this.

So before the calls of “Muslims need to speak up” and “Muslims need to get their house in order” – start up as they always do (cause over one billion Muslims are a homogenous group that can be controlled and organised in a tidy manner), I’d like to be clear that the bombings, the civilians deaths, the murder of children, the intolerance of other faiths, the forced veiling of women: this is not my faith. This is not my Islam.

My Islam demands that we speak up when we see something wrong, we try to put it right, we defend our homes and our families and those weaker than us, we seek justice but favour mercy. My faith offers intelligent and peaceful ways to do this. My Islam condemns the slaughter of children and civilians, it orders against the destruction of land, crops and building even in times of war and it encourages us to seek peaceful means of resolving a matter if there is an alternative to conflict.

Up until today I have been confused at how people can justify these actions, even with the conflicts in Palestine, Iraq, Syria and other places as a cause for anger, I still could not see how our faith asks us to respond in this way. But today I am just angry and hurt of the continuous destruction and suffering.

My prayers are with all those who have lost their loved ones: may Allah (SWT) give them the strength to bear what he has tested them with, shower them with his mercy and let their hearts find peace. May Allah (SWT) bring peace and safety to Pakistan where the people have had to suffer too much for too long.

“… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” ~ Quran 5:53

“Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.” ~ Quran 2:190

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor….” ~ Quran 4:135

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)

"Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God." (Bukhari)

“Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

The Chronicles of Gorgeous

I got a phone call from my middle child’s school this week asking me to come in.  I asked what it was about and they said not to worry.  For a brief moment I did entertain delusions about being called in for a good reason, such as he being recognised as some kind of child genius,  but couldn’t convince myself (they would have sent a letter or waited until parents evening if that was the case).

So I went in to school and met another mother that had been called in.  We were greeted by the year group leader who sat us don and explained that our sons along with one other boy had managed to take a toilet door off its hinges (that’s the last thing I expected to hear).  As Gorgeous had never done anything like this before, they were not going to take any action.  Instead but they suggested we speak to our sons about thinking through their actions and the consequences of what they do.

I picked up Gorgeous after the meeting and he was adamant that it was not his fault.  Knowing how many things he has broken at home, I was inclined not to believe him at first.  He explained that the other boy whose mum had come in was very good and had just gone to the toilet.  A third boy, whose mum didn’t come in, got into the toilet too and started swinging on the door.  Apparently he does this every day.  When the first boy tried to get out, the second boy pulled the door and slammed it into his head.

Gorgeous was trying to get into the same loo because he was desperate to go to the toilet and the other toilets were dirty (of course the absolute messiest of my children would be the one who slightly OCD about germs).  He was also trying to help the boy that was crying.  So while the other two boys were pushing the door shut, he was trying to pull it open.  When the door fell off of its hinges, the other boys ran off and he went to call the teacher.

So as always and in every single matter ever relating to him, it was not his fault, but someone else’s.  If fact he was trying to help the boy that was crying (I asked him if he thought he was some sort of superhero now).  If anything he was aggrieved that the door nearly fell on him and he had to move out of the way.

The boy can’t lie with a straight face at all; in fact I always used to catch the other kids out when someone did something naughty because I would know if he did it or not (meaning it was usually Little man by default).  So I knew he was telling the truth. 

I told him he should still not have been pulling the door or try and open it.  I also told him if I ever heard about him being inside the toilet cubicle with another boy I would take a slipper to him (the first thing that the teacher mentioned when she spoke to us had been that two boys had been caught in a cubicle together and this freaked me out at the time).  He looked at me as if I was crazy – “no way mum!!”)

Anyway, I’ve explained to him he shouldn’t be pulling toilet doors, but I don’t expect this to be the last silly thing he does.  The thing is, despite causing the most chaos of all my children, he never elicits any anger from me.  Must be those big sad eyes.

image source (This still seems to apply to Gorgeous)

Picture of the Day: 16.12.14 - Little Tyrant

Every time I want to write something, one of the babies is crying, or I have guests, or it's time for dinner, or the bedtime routine, or someone needs help with their homework, or I just have to pop to the shops, or it's time to nurse Baby again.

When I have had a moment, I have just stared at my screen blankly with no motivation to write.  When I found some motivation my laptop would start having health problems again.  

Today I finally got a moment when the baby was asleep, Darling was busy harassing the boys, the food as cooked and prayers were done for now.  I felt inspired and motivated to write about and share lots of things and the laptop was working.


A certain person got into a fight with me over the laptop.  For every letter I typed, she'd type three vowels and when I tried to move the laptop away, she'd throw a fit and try to wrestle the laptop away.  In the end I let her type a bit and then distracted her with a custard cream.

I'm going to try and write some more, but I think it's time to nurse the baby again...

Monday 1 December 2014

To My Best Friend...

Sometimes you feel invincible, as if everything is under control and you can handle whatever come at you - empowered, strong, capable.  Then there are times when nothing seems to make sense and you can't even seem to manage your day to day life.  It's at times like these that I really appreciate the difference a good word can make.

I have been down in the dumps recently.  I didn't want to write, I didn't want to blog, I didn't even really see the point of getting up in the morning.  I felt like a hypocrite for calling this blog Happy Muslim Mama because for some days I haven't been.  I was scared I was falling into depression, where nothing mattered and I couldn't rouse myself to do anything.

I have been worrying about the baby as she hasn't been gaining enough weight and the health visitor has referred me to the doctor who is now monitoring her weight.  After successfully nursing four children (including Darling for 14 months), I don't seem to be able to get it right with number five.  It was starting to feel as if everyone was looking at me as if I am starving my baby.

I've also been worrying about money as hubby's work is very quiet at the moment.  These two things seem to have set me off, so that all the little things that I can ignore are now really upsetting me.  The state of the house which really needs refurbishing, being much less mobile with two babies, not being able to do all those projects I had thought up for myself.

Worse than all of these is my hyper-sensitivity to other people - I have been taking slight at things I usually ignore and getting angry at everyone.

I love my sisters, but none of them seem to deal with the same things, so although they are good to talk to, they don't always understand. (writing that is making me wonder about all of the things that they must deal with that I don't understand)

I love my parents with all my heart, but boy can they push my buttons sometimes and send me into a tizzy of hurt and angry tears.

I adore hubby, he is my rock and my safe place alhamdulillah, but I think he sometimes doesn't get what on earth I am on about (I don't think there is a word in Urdu for burnout).  It's at times like these that our cultural differences become very apparent.  Plus I've come to realise how intensely we can affect each others moods and mental states, my being down has been bad for him too, even more reason for me to get my mojo back.

So it's at times like this when I sit in the bathroom and sob quietly so that the kids can't see me, when I beg in my prayers for peace, but don't actually know what's wrong.  It's at times like this when I berate myself for being so down and call myself lazy and ungrateful and the term "first world problems" comes to mind.

At's at times like these when I start to feel as if I am dealing with it all alone, that my best friend reminds me I am not.  If anyone has been through everything I have and more, it is my crazy, loud mouthed, big-hearted best friend.

It took a few minutes of messaging, then talking with her for the black cloud to start to lift - some acknowledgement and understanding, some talking until we got to the heart of the matter and permission from her to take care of myself, stop trying to do things all the time and to put away our mutual old friend - guilt.

Simply the act of deferring everything on my various physical and mental to do lists for the entire weekend and clearing them from my mind and treating myself and the kids to a nice meal (putting aside the guilt of spending money unnecessarily or eating unhealthy food) has had a massive impact.

Things are starting to fall back in perspective and I'm surprised at how much I let things get to me.  I realised also that it was one of my occasional "blue periods" as I have come to call them.  I am generally upbeat and happiness is my default mood, so any time I am not happy I have to find a way to get back to my default.  But I think like many happy people, every now and again I fall into a time when I am down where resentments and anxieties come through to be dealt with.

Bestie also reminded me of the benefit of building a relationship with Allah (SWT) through reconnecting with his Word and turning to the Quran when you need guidance.  Truly the best advice that she could have given me.

So to my best friend...dear sis you made all the difference just when I needed you, I hope I am never without your craziness and knowing that at least one person 100% has my back.

If there is one person I would want to be a mischievous old lady with, I know who it is!