Kids

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Kids are amazing. Alhumdulillah. They make you smile, they make you laugh, and then they make fun of you and laugh at you. Out of love, of course!

The other day, I was watching the movie “Burnt,” starring Bradley Cooper. (It was an okay movie. Watch it if you have spare time.) It was about a washed out chef trying to make his comeback and earn a 3rd Michelin Star. As I was watching the movie, my little one came and sat along side me. Thank goodness in that scene no foul language was spoken. The scene she watched was where they were preparing a meal for their restaurant. They made it look so easy. Cutting up vegetables with such precision. My little one, may Allah swt always protect her, says, “Momma, they are cooking just like you!” I stopped breathing for a few seconds, and remembered she wasn’t making fun of me, but felt that we cooked the same. Little does she know I’m just a mediocre cook. She said it twice with a smile. It made me feel so happy. Then a waitress was serving either green tea or coffee and again she said, “Look momma, they make keva just like you!” I gave her a kiss and said thank you and she she gave me a hug. Such sweet children we have. Their compliments are so much better then mens’!

But, there are other times, when they aren’t so sweet. Sometimes, this is because of age, experience, hormones, I don’t know. If you recall, I wasn’t brought up in Pakistan. Therefore my reading and writing skills of the Urdu language are next to nill. I can get by…sometimes. I was learning with my kids up until grade 1. Then too many toddlers in the house and too many distractions and I fell behind. With each kid! Khair, now they ra in middle school and I don’t understand most of their stories, poems, and homework for urdu class. Now I have to constantly hear, “You don’t know what that means?!,” or “I can’t believe you don’t know this word!” It’s frankly embarrassing. All my fault for not trying to learn my native tongue sooner. And the kids telling me I don’t know simple things! Those innocent faces have a way to insult those who carried them for 9 months, went through pains to bring them into this world, and have been dealing with sleepless nights, vomiting, tantrums, etc. As Stephanie Tanner would say, “How Rude!”

The reality is, they are right. I don’t know the urdu language well. Therefore I can not help them with their urdu homework. (Has its perks! One less subject for me to worry about.)

I guess it’s an awesome feeling to know something your parent’s don’t, and to know it with ease. I should be a good mother and just be happy and brush it off and let them have the moment. I should, shouldn’t i?….hmmm… I’ll think about it…for next time.

By Maasi Saba

What if we say ‘yes’?

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As parents and especially as the mighty mothers, each one of us must have found many a moment in our lives when it is much more inevitable to say no to our children than the often scary, yes. Though it often does come to that after a couple of heart wrenching screams and some inevitable drama.

There are times however, where parents should say yes, even if we don’t want to, or if we have no time for anything at all.

I’m pretty sure that if we did something like that the sky wouldn’t fall down. Our children wouldn’t automatically become the worst behaved children in the world and wouldn’t start taking us for granted only because we had said ‘yes’ instead of the usually expected ‘no’.

You see, as mothers we have been conditioned to say ‘no’ to our children, often unintentionally when we find ourselves in the middle of something important, when there is a looming deadline over our head or the popular ‘I’m tired’ excuse (which is not an excuse ladies, I know but let’s just pretend for a moment only for the sake of this discussion!) I, for one, often find myself saying,

I’m really busy right now” or,

“Can we do this later? Mommy is a bit busy?”

“I’m making dinner, cant you see? We can do it some time else”.

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But more often than not, that “later” doesn’t ever come. And time flies by and we keep turning down our kids demands and wishes and before we know it they’re all grown up and we don’t understand what happened to their childhood. Problem is that we don’t really enjoy their childhood when it’s actually happening. We get so busy living our everyday life that we forget that time never stands still— that our children will not remain children forever. So what if we say yes instead of no, next time our kids want us to do something for them, or take them somewhere or just be with them for a while. The little time that we give them brings so much light to their life; we can’t even begin to imagine that sort of happiness.

So I have decided that the next time my kids want me to do something for them, I will try not to listen to the ‘no’ in me and instead will just say ‘yes’. Because I know, in the heart of my hearts that I will never regret it.

The little hugs, the giggles, all those cartoon discussions, those hour late bed times, all those special moments with my kids. These are the things that life is all about. This is when life happens.

I’m sure I’ll not regret saying ‘yes’. I’m sure of that! 🙂

By Maasi Wajo

 

My Beloved

By Maasi Saba

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After six years, my dua was finally answered when I became pregnant with my fourth child.  I was so happy because I had always wanted four kids. It’s just a nice round number.  I prayed all through out my pregnancy for the baby to be a girl.  I wanted 2 and 2. And alhumdulilah again, my dua was answered.  When I actually had my baby girl, I  was sort of in a daze. I remember the ward being overly crowded because many women were there for several reasons, and there were renovations being done at the hospital.  My kids were having their midterms, and i remember dropping them off and then driving to the hospital.  It was December, and the weather was bringing me down.  It was the first time I felt any sort of depression after giving birth.  My siblings were arriving for our youngest brother’s wedding.  All of our kids were having a ball chasing each other around the house, which I think helped me to not sink further into a depressing mood. I even went out of the way and called up my brother saying, I am overwhelmed with the baby, the weather, and getting the kids ready for their exams to come to your wedding.  I wanted to relax during those days since the exams would be done. Lol!  He thought i was insane.  I did manage to get to his wedding which was here Lahore.  I got their late. Made  a sloppy entrance and was dazed meeting everyone and handing my child over to relatives who wanted to see her. Since I was the groom’s sister, I was supposed to be needed elsewhere.  I showed my face, and then I left early with my kids because I still had to pack our suitcases because I was supposed to be following the Barat out of the city.  Well, my dear Chachu (Uncle), came to my house in his empty car and had to wait a little while longer because my little one had leaked, and my other kids were running around excited to be going to Nana’s house for a few days.  I think the rest of the wedding is a blur. I was there physically.  I wish I was in better health and state of mind, but oh well. It wasn’t my wedding, so it’s okay.  Whenever my brother says anything to me I always remind him that I was there!!!!! It should be enough.  

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Fast forward and it is three years later and my little darling is learning a lot of english, (courtesy of her cousin from Pennsylvania).  She has responses for everything! And sometimes I’m just amazed because my other three kids weren’t this vocal and confident.  I guess, daayr ayee daroost ayee. Or something like that.  She is one of those kids who knows everything about our cell phones and ipads.  I seriously didn’t know about a few things but this one likes to press everything and open everything and voila, she has discovered something else.  She is also one of those selfie addicts as well.  Or, hmm, I’m not sure if it qualifies as selfies.  I have put a lock on my phone because a few times in the past, she had called some of my friends and siblings overseas at odd times and finished my balance.  Then she also likes to delete apps and pictures I don’t want her to do.  And who can forget the many times she has disabled my phone.  Sometimes she makes me frustrated. But then she tells me that she was just trying to see something or she was trying to do something to help me, and then I can’t stay mad long.  She is my baby after all.

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One of her favorite past times other than going through her siblings’ drawers for some treasure, is to take pictures.  Sometimes when I finally get my hands on my phone, I have about 40 pictures.  Some are bursts of 14, or even 30 pictures of absolutely nothing.  Sometimes its half of her head, or the fan above her head,  or its her feet, or the walls or the floor.  There are just so many pictures that she is amazed at her talent.  My little doll knows how to change the tone and the style of her pictures so usually they aren’t so boring.  These days, when she sees that the camera app is open, she asks if we need to smile quickly.  I wanted to share some pictures she took the other day.  In one, she cut my head off, which was very considerate of her since she should know I hate having my pictures taken.  She did ask me to smile, which I did, but hey, she is too smart to bother me with cropping my head off.  The next is the classic pic of her socks and shoes.  She loves taking pictures of her bed, my bed and the walls.  She’s an amateur photographer.  It made me smile at how amazing life is when you have a toddler to share it with.  

My adorable baby girl, is no longer a baby, but she is my youngest, kissable, and huggable being.  I have those off days when she tires me out, but alhumdulillah, the good outweigh the bad.  And even now, when I stop occasionally to think about what to write next, she insists I type the ABC’S quickly as possible.  For those who have kids, we have all been told to sit back and enjoy them.  To take each moment with them and cherish them because soon they will be too old to sit with us.  It’s amazing how some people do exactly that.  But I am not one of those people.  Well not yet.  I’m not sure if I ever will be. I would love to be one of those people. But I am not sure I’m built that way.  But I am trying. So I must end this because she wants to watch her mickey mouse show right now. Even though she should be asleep at this moment, she is resting her head on my arm and waiting impatiently for me to stop my work and put her show on.  

So enjoy her pictures. I hope they put a smile on your face like they did on mine.  Kids are kids!  May Allah SWT guide them to be good muslims, and protect them from all harm.  

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Teaching-respect

The other day I was waiting for my turn at the books shop in Gulberg when something disturbing happened. It didn’t happen to me personally, but it has an affect on me. Thinking about it now, I am disappointed with myself for not voicing my opinion on the matter when the incident occurred. Rudeness and arrogance is very common in our society. Our beloved Prophet (S) had stated to remain humble in our dealings and in our behavior, and that arrogance would just lead to life in misery in the here after.

As a mother, I felt humiliated because this is something we have to teach our children daily. It was a slap in the face that maybe we aren’t doing a good job as we had thought. My sons go to an esteemed school and they have picked up some bad  habits. When they show this arrogance, I reprimand them on the spot. I also make it a point to remind them what they did was wrong a few more times, hopefully it will sit in their heads for future reference. 

This girl must have been 16 years old, give or take a year. She was waiting at the counter for the salesman to attend to her. It is true that I wasn’t there when the girl arrived. And I have no clue how long she had been waiting for someone to assist her.  It was chaos at the bookshop as many adults and children were trying to get their school supplies. These last few weeks are crazy everywhere, if not in bookshops or uniform shops, it’s on the roads in front and around these places. Usually we are in a bad mood, or short tempered because of the chaos. Yes it is annoying to have to wait for someone to help you. But everyone else there is in the same boat as you. So give some leeway. So as I was saying, this girl was waiting at the counter, and I was standing behind the woman who was being helped by the salesman. When he finally gave the lady her bill and freed himself from serving her, he turned to the girl. He knew who was to be served next. I moved up to the counter with my slip. She spoke very rudely to this man who must have been her father’s age. She said that she had been waiting for a long time and he wasn’t helping her. He kindly stated that he had to finish with the other customer and give her the bill before he could help someone else. She looked at him and rudely said, “Whatever!” I just looked at her gaping. The salesman looked at her and was hurt and after a little while his mood turned bitter. But yet, he still was kind and helped her.

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My mind started to wonder at thoughts that really shook me up. I will tell you honestly, that if it that was my child and he/she responded in that manner, I’d just smack them upside the head, and scold them repeatedly. “You can’t be rude to him. Who told you you could be rude to anyone let alone your elder?!” These are the things that would have come out of my mouth at the given time. I realize the lifestyle in Pakistan is different than what I was accustomed to growing up with. In the U.S., you don’t have servants waiting on you at all times, unless you are rich. If one can, a cleaner comes in once or twice a week and does your cleaning. The rest is up to you. Here, we have help for every chore, and for everyday of the week. People come in to clean our houses, do our laundry, cook for us, and help watch our children. We can hire gardeners, drivers and guards. Someone is always there to clean whatever dishes we just dirtied, or pick up the clothes we have thrown on the floor. Most people take advantage of these people. They are after all people. I feel some of us have taught our children to talk down to the help. That includes salesmen and women. I have heard children talk rudely to their drivers and maids, and when they are in the shops, they are quite rude there too. I personally don’t like this behavior. We are all equal, and we all should treat each other with respect. I don’t allow my children to talk disrespectfully to any of our servants. They always get a scolding from me if I hear them doing so. But how do I stop this from happening again and again, inside or outside the home.

As a nation, we need to correct this problem because it happens everywhere and all the time, I am sad to admit. Yes, there are times when I am angry or very upset with my domestic help. But most of the time, I speak to them nicely but firmly. I can actually say that I have yelled 5 times in the past 15 years to my help. That is also not good of me.

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Respect is earned, it is given, it is supposed to be an automatic response when dealing with anyone. If we as adults, and as mothers, show respect to others even when it is hard because they have messed something up, or spoken rudely to us, we show this response to our children and it will make a difference. Slowly, but surely, we can make Pakistan a country people will want to live in. Everyone is usually in a bad mood here.  Heat, blackouts, water shortages, and unruly traffic are some things that add to our daily hardships. So when we go out to run errands, our dyer, or the traffic police, the salesman or vendor, or just a random person on the road does something to us which makes us angry, we respond. We respond with gestures, we respond with name calling.  We sometimes respond but cutting them off, or beeping our horns repeatedly.  We can do the worst bit by demeaning them, and that makes us feel better. Well, it shouldn’t. We should feel horrible at even thinking about this stuff. Living in this world is not easy. Being a constant role model is even harder I think. But, we need to change ourselves, can’t we?

Show some respect to one another and our children will do the same. Show some leniency and our children will follow our lead. We are human, we will mess up, and we will continue to do this. Inshallah, we will not repeat our same mistakes.  But respect is key. 

By Maasi Saba

The Homework Dilemma!

By Maasi Wajo

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So now that Ramzaan is officially over and Eid has come and gone, life has or is supposed to come back to normal. It is a little hard thinking that most of us only have around a month of vacations left to enjoy, not to mention, get done with kids’ homework— which in this case hasn’t even taken off as of yet. I am struggling with time and motivation and what not. How do I manage kids’ holiday homework, start preparing for the school year ahead and keep myself sane along the process? That is the million-dollar question that incessantly presents itself to me every year. Since procrastination has been a personal predicament since time unknown, I have managed to come up with a couple of time management tips to make the most of the little time that I’m often left with… especially in this case.

  • After I finish this write up and post it on the blog, the first thing that I am going to do is to prepare a (realistic) plan for the kids’ homework…. keeping our regular activities in view. I don’t know about you but I am a very paper and pen kind of a person. Planning is imperative for me. In a way, all I do is plan but that is a story best left for some other time. Lol. A good way would be to divide all the homework according to the days left and do two/three pages per day (in case of younger kids) and in case of the older ones, ask them how much time they need for each assignment. Write that down and hold them to it. Make sure they achieve their day’s target before they indulge in anything else.

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    My planner.
  • For doing holiday homework my tried and tested segment of the day is Morning time, hands down. Kids are at their freshest, mommies are at their happiest and well, there’s a joyful aura to mornings, which is simply unmatched. My strategy is to just get done with the day’s homework right after breakfast so that I have rest of the day to myself. I work from home and seriously need a little chunk of time to myself to concentrate on my own assignments. I’ve also realised that once I am done with the hardest task first thing in the morning, I can spend the rest of the day anyway I want.

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    Books, books, books!
  • A SEPARATE PLACE for the kids to work. My kids know that when mommy gets serious about holiday homework she moves that big coffee table (the one we don’t use much) to their room. There is a designated corner in their room for that table. I set all their homework stuff on it. And the day I do this, my kids know mommy’s serious about their homework. We’ve been doing this for the last two years. It is science at work here you guys, nothing less. Hah! So yeah, make sure you can get them to study somewhere they can easily concentrate and a place they can associate with homework.

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    Kids at work!
  • I will also try and prepare a few meals ahead in the next two/three days; refrigerate them in small portions so I do not have to worry about khana— especially when I’m helping my younger daughter with her Urdu homework. Lol. Trust me, this can be very handy at times.

Last but not the least,I try to reassure myself that this too shall pass—that I have managed this before and I will be able to manage it again; and that I will survive. I try to stick to this little régime of mine, I do. This year we aren’t travelling. Last year we were and we left after Ramzaan, hence I couldn’t really do all this fancy stuff. I literally had less than a couple of weeks to get done with all the kids’ homework and don’t ask how I managed it all without going absolutely crazy. Seriously, the earlier you get done with it the better it is, but this write-up is mainly for those of you lazy mommies out there(like myself) who wait till after Ramzaan and Eid to get started with the terrors of holiday homework. We still have a month left if we start from today (presuming you guys aren’t travelling) and well all we need is a little bit of time management, thing that I have literally been struggling with all my life. But. We’ll get there, we will!

Let me know how you guys are handling the pressures of homework. I can definitely use a tip or two!

Decorative Moods

By Maasi Saba 

A little something we did for Ramadan this year!
Ramadan mubarik! I pray this year will be a better year for all of us. Ramadan is a time when we seek to grow closer to Allah SWT, and to attain as many good deeds as possible. We also strive to better ourselves and make improvements in our character in general. Each  year we begin the month of Ramadan with much zest. We are able to wake up on time to prepare Sehri, and are comfortable enough to prepare Iftari. The beginning is always great.
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Lanterns in our lounge as well. Don’t you think they’re pretty?
We set our personal goals we want to achieve, map out the Duas and special prayers we want to say to Allah SWT. Everything goes smoothly. Alhumdulillah. It’s about a week into the month that we do start to slow down. Well, I’m assuming half of us?? With the heat and electricity breakdowns during the day, I know my mood begins to waver, as well as my children’s’.

FullSizeRenderThis year, I wanted to do something different. From last Ramadan, I noticed many people abroad decorated their homes to bring in the festive mood. I had saved many pictures, and this year with kids in tow, we decided to make our own decorations and make the home more colorful and happy.

When I was living abroad, I never found any Eid, or Ramadan decorations. But I’ve noticed that things have changed and people are more aware of our religion as well. On Etsy, one is able to find cookie cutters for Eid. They include a mosque, moon, star and another shape as well. One can find hanging lights with moon and stars. Also, wall hangings and banners all saying “Eid Mubarik”, or “Happy Ramadan”, and many more things are readily available in the U.S. now. That makes me happy as a Muslim.

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This is how we made our simple lanterns!
This year, my daughter made many different colored lanterns to hang around our stair case and in the lounge. We all contributed in making our Ramadan Mubarik banner as well. Right now, we are working on making different lanterns with the number of days written on it. So each day after Iftari, we can remove one lantern. This helps the kids to know how many days are left.

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Making these decorations has also helped the days go by quicker. The kids are not in the mood anymore to do any holiday homework, and making them read a book is sometimes a chore in itself. These projects helped them take their minds off of the thirst for a little while. I hope some of you will also try this and include your children to help you. It’s good bonding time as well.

Oh the Dreaded Month of May!

By Maasi Saba

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Today would have been a wonderful day. First at a birthday party for an adorable little person, and then it would have been amazing if we were able to use the water slides or enjoy the man made waves at Oasis to cool down from the heat wave we had today. But alas, we could not. Why?! Because it’s the month of May!

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It’s crunch time! Finals!! Exams!! As my husband would say, eat, breathe, and only study in May! May madness! All due to the kids exam. That’s the life we live, us mothers. When April came along, most of us started to revise, and if our kids weren’t in the mood, we let them have the afternoon free because there was still time. When we, ourselves, weren’t in the mood, we allowed a day of no revision. It’s April after all! There is plenty of time.

Well, April is over! And the dreaded month of May is amongst us! And I’m not comfortable with the fact that in a few days time, my children will be sitting for their final exam. It could be my own nerves, or to be honest, we haven’t finished all the course work yet. And the heat is making me even lazier.

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I had thought us Maasis would be able to help other mothers with our limited knowledge of studying tips and healthy revitalising snacks to boost up our kids and ourselves during the exam time. But I’m sorry to say, that it doesn’t seem too probable now. Any free time is spent making some worksheets or just trying to have a few normal minutes not thinking of anything except the sounds of all the kids complaining at once. We wanted to help make your and our own lives a bit less stressful. But, I personally, am too stressed to think of anything good for you all.

So I apologise for this month of craziness. We will try to make your lives more interesting next month Inshallah.

Preparing for Ramadan, and Special Prayers, and Iftars.

See you guys soon!