Raising children multilingual

Our hope is that one day our daughter will be at least bilingual in Arabic and English.  My husbands speaks to our daughter in Arabic and I speak to her in English.  I also use a few arabic words I know.  As a little baby we found a great language program called Little Pim. Our daughter loved the little panda bear cartoon used in the video and children speaking in easy to understand conversations in Arabic.  We purchased the 3 CD set and gave one away as a baby gift.  She has also watched some of the French and Spanish videos via the public library and Amazon Prime.  

We would like to give her a strong start in both languages, and I would like to have her listen to several languages for her to develop an ear and appreciation for all languages.

English will be her first language as she grows up in the United States and inshallah (God Willing) Arabic the language of Quran will be her second.  We shall see if she picks up other languages as she grows older.

Earlier this year I printed out a set of flash cards with the arabic letters, unfortunately I don’t remember the link at the moment but the blogger only had half the letters and never added the additional promised second half.  But, I did just come across this great matching game I hope to print out soon.  I idea was to introduce her to the arabic letters at the same time as her ABCs.

Arabic Alphabet Game 

Next year I will focus on purchasing Arabic and the bilingual Arabic- English books to grow her collection.  There are not quite as many books as there are for other languages, but hopefully that will change.

We also use other Arabic cartoons and Islamic video’s like Adam’s World Alif is for Allah.

Who Am I? – “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”

I was just watching this video as the guy starts off with a translator, even though he can speak English, so that you do don’t make assumptions based on his accent. He questions imitating others and failing and learning who you are as a person.

Who Am I?
Right now I would say I am a Muslim American but, I don’t think I fit into one box.
When I was two weeks old I was adopted from Texas by a white American couple of mostly Canadian and European descent. My birth family according to the paper work was at least part Mexican. I’ve recently discovered from a DNA test my background closest is Mexican and Columbian, farther away is European, Asian, and North African.
As a child my parents were light skin and my mom had blond hair. During the summer months, I tanned very easily and had almost black hair.  When I was out with my mom many would say you must look like your dad.

Once or twice on a trip to Canada my parents were questioned about my background being so much darker during summer months. Often as a child and through college people would come up to me and just start speaking Spanish.
When I was in eight grade a teacher took a census of our background.  I don’t really wear a sign that says I was adopted and I am Mexican or even hispanic. So you can imagine the confusion when I raised my hand to say so, when they knew my parents, but didn’t know the rest of my background. The teacher ended up taking the poll twice.
As an adult who wears a hijab many have assumed I can speak Arabic, but unfortunately I only know few words. I even had someone who knew me before say I became Arab instead of becoming Muslim. Others assume I don’t speak English and are confused when they hear me speak.

Once after I started wearing my hijab, I was trying to enter my apartment at the time and someone stood and blocked the door.  They asked where I was from, I normally don’t mind these questions,  I said I was American, not satisfied asked no really where are you from, I said I was born in the United States.  Still not satisfied asked where are your parents from, I  simply just stated  Mexican because I wanted to get in the door lol. He looked very confused and said “oh” and let me by.  I shouldn’t answer people so quickly, but I’m not always sure what to say.  I’m also not always ready to give a lengthy answer, I could answer any number of ways. I could say the state I was born in or the state I was raised in, maybe there is even a philosophical answer.   If I went with my parents and most of my grandparents almost everyone was born in the United States.  My birth parents whom I’ve never met gave me my genetic makeup.  I could just always answer I’m American and say my husband is Moroccan, for a simple quit answer.  Sometimes I just say I’m from here, and just stop, I am proud of who I am, even if I don’t always give myself a label.     If you see me I never mind answering questions and no apologies for my confusing identity, as a famous cartoon use to say:

“I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”
Popeye the sailorman


Getting your hair done as a hijabi

And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. (Quran Verse 24:31)

A Hijabi is someone who wears a hijab.  Today I went to get my hair done in a salon.  I was thinking of the past and different situations I’ve gone through since I started wearing hijab.  I asked around and found out JCPenny’s salon had a divider.  They were very accommodating and were able to style my hair a few times.  But, at some point they had misplaced the divider and were no longer able to offer the coverage and had since hired a male hair stylist.

I asked a salon that was closer to me and most of their chairs were next to the window.  I asked if they might be able to cut my hair in a backroom.  They said they would ask the manager and call me back, they never called.  One time I found a place that had just opened and they were so slow, they were standing outside waiting for people.  I just ran and got my haircut before anyone else came in to the salon.  After that I actually had my husband trim my hair for a while.

When I went to Morocco they were able to fix my hair which had become a bit uneven, lol.  I’m not complaining it was just wasn’t something I had not thought about before wearing hijab.   But, really it would not have stopped me from wearing hijab, alhumdullah, I am so happy with my decision.

I’ve since had recommendations from people for a while I was going to a Moroccan sister here in the US that was next to previous job.  Her salon had tinted windows and she would lock the doors, so it was a really private location.  More recently I’ve left that job and moved farther away so, I had the recommendation from someone else for a place close to home.

[Womanhood] The importance of educating woman in Islam

Muslimah Wanderer

I love this video. It shows us how important the education of woman is. If you teach a man, you will teach a man, but if you teach a woman, you will teach a nation. Imagine to be in this time of the Ummah, with so much educated woman around you……… do you feel the difference? My heart feels so much love for all these woman for the sake of Allah.

Today a lot of woman fear of seeking knowledge, they think it is not important, they have no time and so on. But yes, it is important. We should really think about how much important it is.

Sometimes also woman are not allowed to seek knowledge, by different reasons, like the husband do not want it or they have no access to knowledge, no access to lectures or Masjids. It is very important, that woman are working together to…

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Reflecting on Ramadan, Eid, etc…

So, I’ve been a bit busy over the last few days.  Nothing seems to ever go as planned.  Alhumdullah, everything worked out just fine.   Ramadan ended alhumdullah it was a beautiful month.  I have to admit I didn’t get to do half of what I would have wanted. My focus was on my family and making the best effort to worship Allah (swt).

One thing I had planned to do was to follow The Fasting and the Fit program from Productive Muslim website.  I think for next year if I want to accomplish something like this I will have to begin planning much earlier.

The day of Eid we all were dressed in our best and were able to celebrate and pray with our friends in the mosque.

We were suppose to have people over the day of Eid but, that didn’t happen.  Instead we all traveled to Canobie Lake Amusement park for a discounted group rate.  This was my first trip there; I had been told numerous times that there was not a lot for the little ones to do, so I was a little hesitant to go.  It ended up being a great day, and I can’t wait to go back.  We didn’t even have enough time to do everything because we went later in the day and well things happen.  My little two-year old daughter slept so well after the day had ended.  There is a little area for small children with several rides and she is now old enough to even ride herself, she had a great time.   There is a water park that they can splash around in, and I wish I had brought my burqini, or halal swimsuit in with me.  I ended up going on one of the splash rides while my husband watched our daughter and got completely drenched, a wonderful family and friends day.

Canobie Lake Park

Msemmen – (Moroccan Pancake)

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of Allah)

EID Mubarak (Blessed Eid)

The last day of Ramadan, Inshallah we will celebrate the end of fasting in a few short hours. The holiday of Eid Al Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking) will begin early this morning in the Masjid.

Yesterday,  I attempted to make a Moroccan dish I’ve always wanted to try to cook.  I went to the Cooking with Alia because she has easy to follow recipes and videos.  I found her recipe for Msemmen- the Moroccan Pancake).  I had small pieces Alhumdullah when I was at the mosque for Iftar on two of the Fridays during Ramadan.  But, I guess I was really missing it so I thought I would give it a try.

I am the type of person that has to follow a recipe exactly and usually can not figure out what to do if something goes wrong.  Luckily my husband although he is not currently working as one, he is a trained chef.  While I was making the dish he even told me it was very difficult to make.  Alhumdullah I completed the recipe and we ate the Msemmen during Iftar time with honey, or cheese, or Moroccan sausage.

Preparing for Eid

Tomorrow should be the last full day of Ramadan for us inshallah (“God Willing”).  Today I did Henna for the first time myself.  I started to dabble a bit in drawing with no training this past December.  I used a doodle technique called Zentangle,  I’ve been hooked on how relaxing it is when I draw different patterns.  I’ve already added some of the work I’ve done to this blog, including the cover photo.

I just received “Teach Yourself Henna Tattoo: Making Mehndi Art with Easy-to-Follow Instructions, patterns, and projects.”  by Brenda Abdoyan in the mail.  I was able to purchase henna paste from the local Halal store and I drew the first beginner pattern and mixed a few other styles from the book.

 wasn’t able to sleep after Isha prayer (the last of our required five prayers for the day), I started making a few decorations.  I found a pdf template of some suncatcher lanterns the other days. The original design for these was on another blog called Sweet Fajr.  This sister has a ton of great crafts I hope to try inshallah.   I stayed up making a few as you can see in the photo:  suncatcher laterns

I also started to wrap and put together a few eid gifts which I will finish up tomorrow night inshallah.

In Search of Laylatul Qadr

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of Allah)

Ramadan is coming to close very quickly, it is always so sad to see the month go by so fast,  Alhumdullah it is such an amazing blessed month.  In the last ten odd nights there is a night called Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Power, the most holiest of night in Ramadan.  Many muslims spend their whole night in prayer searching for this night.  I did not go go to the Masjid because it is a little difficult with a two year old.  But, my husband spent the entire night on Monday, which was the day many of the local mosques as a group of muslims focussed on prayer for this magical night.

This is a great info-graph explaining this special night:


Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of Allah)

Since I’ve become more comfortable wearing hijab, I enjoy putting together outfits.  I struggled to locate places to purchase clothes and scarves at first.  Alhumdullah (“Thanks be to God”) there are several more local shops opening up.

I started purchasing online the first location was Hijab Girl.  They had very reasonable priced scarves/ hijabs with a flat rate shipping.  Most of my beginning hijabs were from them, and I found the two piece Al-Amira hijab, my personal favorite.  The reason for this is because they are so easy to wear with a underscarf and matching hijab.  This really helped me to gain confidence in wearing hijab, since I didn’t need to wrap them at all.

Next, I ordered some clothes from  Alhannah.com.  I ordered my first Salwar Kameez, a pant suit outfit that is very popular in India.  I also ordered several Tunics.  What is really great about this company, they called me after I filled out my online order to double-check on sizes before sending them out.  They also didn’t have one of the outfits posted so they were about to find another suitable match.

I love swimming so I really wanted to find a swimsuit I could wear that would keep me covered in an Islamic appropriate way.  So, I ordered my first swimsuit from Splashgear.  Islamic swimsuits are quite expensive but, it is worth the purchase especially if you love going to the beach or pool.

Most recently, I’ve discovered East Essence, they are so reasonable with prices.  I was able to order several abaya’s from them most under $20.00.  There are ones that are fancy but, I like the simple plain everyday ones.  I’ve gotten so many complements, even asking why I am so dressed up when I wear the abaya.

I also keep an eye out in regular stores purchasing long skirts and dresses, long sleeve shirts etc..  I’ve purchased items at different Islamic conference, and local bazaars, and Halal market stores.

Greater Boston Muslim Sisters Meetup Group

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of Allah)

A few years ago, I was attending Boston University to complete the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Education, Media, and Technology. The semester I started the program I had the opportunity to meet an amazing sister who was studying abroad. I am not sure if she would want me to mention her name so I won’t. We became fast friends and I learned so much from her in the short time she was here in the US.
We traveled together to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) conference in Hartford, CT. It has since moved venues to Baltimore, Maryland. While we were there we discussed how it would great to have a group of sisters that would like to “meetup” and have dinner or do different events. This was before I had my daughter so I had a bit more time to put together events. I was also living closer to Boston, hence commuting in to complete the degree.
The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center(ISBCC) had at the time recently been built and I was their most Friday evenings for the Halaqa (A religious gathering or meeting with the primary purpose of learning the theology, usually Islamic). Sometimes I was also their on the first Sunday of the month for a revert (those who are new or return to Islam) meeting organized by ISBCC and Suhaib Webb, an American Muslim Iman.
I created an online group using Meetup.com , it was a bit of an expense. I am a very quiet person and keep to myself most of the time so this was a way I thought I could reach out to people. I added my friend on as admin to the group and we both worked on spreading the word to people. The group also came up in a search if sisters were able to stumble upon it themselves. We found a great group of sisters some reverts/ converts, sisters studying abroad in the US, and other Muslimahs interested in a similar group.
To start we held several small meetup programs in the ISBCC cafe to start to get to know sisters as a central location. I remember we even had a potluck Iftar during Ramadan the first year.
The price tag for paying for meetup was too much for me so I moved the group to a private Facebook group. Also, because I had become pregnant with my daughter and moved a bit further away from Boston it became difficult to organize events. I hope that anyone who finds the Facebook group will share information and any events that know about or offer to create an event. Alhumdullah (“thanks be to God”) it was great to meet so many wonderful sisters and I hope the Facebook group will continue to grow. If you are a Muslim sister in the Boston or surrounding areas and interested in joining post a comment and I will message you with a link to the group Inshallah (“God- willing”).