Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lacrosse Season 2016 Beginning

It's funny to think that the last time I was actively posting we didn't even know what lacrosse was, and now we are like the poster family for the sport!  So in the spring of 2014 Musa started playing lacrosse for the team as a 7th grader.  We all quickly loved the sport, attended the games, and even formed nice friendships with the team families.  8th grade was another fun season, and now in 9th grade, it continues.  Musa is on the JV team as a defender (the position he's played since 7th grade).  He's really into the sport.  He learned it so quickly and improved his skills quite rapidly as well.  It's so fun to watch him play.  They play 5 days a week.  Here are a few pictures of him in action this year.  Pictures are taken by some team moms with amazing skills!!!  He's number 17.

Quite unfortunately, there are not ANY team moms on Heba's team to spoil us with such professional quality action shots!  Heba started playing last year as a 7th grader and is enjoying it even more this year in 8th grade.  They practice 3 nights a week and have weekend games.  She's been playing on the offense this year as Attack and has scored a few goals!  Therefore.... I have only a couple of 'homemade' shots of her, and obviously, she's the one wearing the hijab :D

And last but not least, our youngest monkey Aisha has started her lacrosse journey this year as a 1st grader!  She's had a couple of weeks of practice and they're hoping to line up a couple of games for this age group. She LOVES it even though it's girls' lacrosse and not boys' lacrosse.  She got so used to playing with Musa the past two years that she was hoping to play on his team when she got to first grade :D How cute.  I'm going to wait for a better picture of her than the one I have right now.  Hopefully I'll remember to post it.

Thanks for reading this far!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Planting

Assalamu alaikom

Coming out of winter always takes me some extra getting used to.  While most people around me are so excited for the longer days with more sunshine, I get a touch of anxiety adjusting to that feeling that I have to be more productive and have to deal with heat, sun, longer work hours.  I realize that's totally a personal perception, but I get those feelings especially in late February and early March when the time moves forward an hour.  It happens so fast here in Seattle that the days go from being from 8am-4:15pm to being from 6:30am-7:00pm.  I'd be happy to get rid of Daylight Saving Time! That would definitely help ease that seasonal adjustment; plus, sunsets after 9pm are just too late!

Now that it's April, I'm on board with spring and have started my garden.  My level of gardening varies year to year, but when I have a  younger school aged kid I like to give them a lot of exposure, and this year my youngest is 7 years old which is great for involvement AND learning!  This year we are planting from seed, from store-bought starts, and we're putting in flowers and herbs in addition to veggies.  
below: lavender with snapdragon flowers in back
 oregano and rosemary sharing a pot with snapdragons
 mint from last year

My friend scored some lemon balm from a community facebook page for free, and she kindly shared a bunch with me after I told her I wanted lemon balm to repel mosquitoes on our deck.  I potted some of those transplants: 
The pot on the right is lemon balm. Spearmint on the left

in the center is lemon balm. looks dinky but will be rockin in a few weeks insha'Allah

I went ahead and clipped my tulips to make a bouquet for inside (plus, I'm ready to use the pots for the herbs without those tulips shadowing over the little starts)
And finally, here's a look at the Mammoth sunflower seeds we're starting indoors in hopes of repeating our 8 foot tall sunflower from two years ago!

I'll post about my actual vegetable garden another time!

"And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees - of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe." (Qur'an, 6:99)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

meal plan

Assalamu alaikom.  I know it's been ages since I've posted anything, but I'm just going to jump in and start posting stuff.

With lacrosse season in full swing I've been better at meal planning.  By full swing I mean that Musa plays 5 days a week, Heba plays 4 days a week, and Aisha play 2 days a week.  Lots of extra driving around on top of regular errands and homeschooling classes.

Normally I pull out my recipe box on Sunday (or Saturday) morning and plan what I need from the grocery store for the week in addition to the regular items that always rotate on our grocery lists.  I pretty much sort the meals in my mind as to which days would be better to prepare each one depending on how my 'at home' time looks.  About my recipe box: a few years ago I wrote down even the meals I prepare by memory so that when I meal plan I can pull that card out and keep it on the counter for the week.  It's not always used as a recipe card, but more like a name card.

We're on spring break this week!  This week's plan:

Meatloaf  (some kids put the sliced meatloaf in burger buns); Mixed veggies that were already cooked like sauteed cabbage, roasted brussels sprouts.

Roast chicken with potatoes and garlic;  (roasted at 450 degrees.. wow!)

Grilled chicken skewers

Mejaddara (lentils cooked in rice)

Sloppy Joes

Friday: invited out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

sample day

Every once in a while I get questions about what a typical day might look like for us as homeschoolers.  Since I'm sitting on the couch watching my two homeschoolers doing a yoga DVD, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share what we did today.

I have a 9 year old and a 5 year old right now at home. The 9 year old got up,  got dressed, ate breakfast, and was starting her math lesson by 7:45 this morning. (she usually starts at 8)  Math takes about an hour. While she worked independently, I had my own breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, and swept and mopped the kitchen floors.  5 year old stayed in bed quite a while today and didn't get up till maybe 8:30, but she was dressed when she came down.  After she ate breakfast, I had her use teddy bear counters to demonstrate adding concepts.  Then she and her sister emptied the dishwasher.

We all went up to the school room and stayed on task for a while. Subjects that gone done: Spelling, Handwriting, Writing, Grammar, Morning Meeting (memory work and religious studies).  Got a phonics lesson in with the 5 year old, then we all took a chocolate milk break.  I sat next to the 9year old  and knitted while she did some map work and a puzzle for history.  5yr old played with some toys nearby, then I did a short activity with her about the sequence of a library visit (picking a book, checking it out, taking it home, and then returning it) where she got to cut and write. 

After that the girls went to the other room to do a yoga DVD I have checked out from the library, and I sat down to make a little blog entry!  This is not a very typical day because we normally eat lunch around noon, but the rest is a typical day here if we're not going out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Turkey Chili

I made turkey chili for the first time today, and it was well liked by boys and girls alike in this house! Wow!  I found halal ground turkey at Trader Joe's and figured I'd give it a try.  After looking at a couple of recipes online, this is what I ended up putting in the pot:

1lb ground turkey
1/2 white onion
1/2 red onion
4 cloves garlic
2 thin carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 14oz cans diced tomato
1 14oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp homemade taco seasoning (taken from 100 Days of Real Food)
salt, pepper

Saute the vegetables in a bit of oil for a few minutes, then add the ground turkey.  Crumble it up and drain if needed.  Add the tomatoes and beans along with two cans full of water and the spices. Let this simmer an hour or two until the liquid reduces to your desired thickness.  I would also transfer this to the crock pot once I browned the turkey and add everything else in the crock pot and let that go for a while.

I set out some toppings like shredded cheddar, sour cream, jalapenos, freshly chopped onions, and the leftover crumbs of our gluten free chips.  You could make cornbread or eat this over burger buns :D

Monday, September 15, 2014

This weekend's work

Some weekends I am really on top of things and get a lot of good food prep done.  This was one of those weekends.  I will recap for the sake of offering suggestions and encouragement to others and to remind myself of what things work for me.

The first good news is that the gluten free mix I make myself and store worked wonderfully in our standby pancake recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that is a tradition in our family.  This good news goes perfectly with the other good news which is that I found and used the griddle attachment to our stove top which has been sitting in the garage since we moved in two years ago.  (You know some of those pancakes went to the freezer for after school snacks during the week)  To continue with the gluten-free theme, my daughter made a batch of iced cookies that just really hit the spot, and now we are both so excited to continue experimenting with our homemade flour mix in other dessert items.

So I got out my biggest pot, bought a 105oz (or so) can of tomatoes, an almost ridiculous amount of tomato paste, and 4 pounds of ground beef.  I stirred a pot of tomato sauce for a few hours on Saturday to achieve 4 portions of meat sauce for the freezer. Some for lasagna and some for spaghetti dinner.  I'm really excited about those.  That was a lot of meat sauce.

Another exciting adventure was making yogurt with one of my daughters Friday night.  It was a success and we are all enjoying the yummy yogurt even though it is not very thick.  I hear this is a common issue in homemade yogurt. Still working on that one.

To continue, I boiled and shredded a chicken breast to be dressed up and used for lunches, stocked up on fruits, veggies, and a few obligatory salty snack foods for the kids' lunches this week. 

I found a few recipes for the crockpot and made one of them.  It was a sesame chicken recipe that turned out kind of plain.  No one is going to ask for it again, but in a bind I could use it.

That's a lot of cooking and food handling.  Throw in a trip to Costco and Safeway, and we should be good for a while!  Tonight, Monday, there will be leftovers from the not-so-great sesame chicken plus some leftovers from the lunch restaurant we ate at.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kindy Science getting done/file folders

I've made a goal this year to do one experiment a week with my kindergartner.  I used the great book More Mudpies to Magnets as a starting point.  The experiments are simple and give the parent and child an ideal environment in which to use science terms and to share scientific ideas.  Because I'm using a file folder system (I got my ideas from here and here) I am able to print out the experiments that interest me and just tuck them into week after week of folders in our large box.  Bam, I've just done all the hard part (planning ahead), and all I need to do is make sure to actually do the experiment each week with my little one which shouldn't be so hard since that's kind of the idea of homeschooling.  Since all the details are at my fingertips, I can easily plan ahead for any materials or things I need to have on hand.

Here's today's making playdo activity. The book guides you to use science specific vocabulary as you describe the activity.  She got her hands in the flour and salt, poured the liquids herself, and felt how sticky the dough was.  Great fun.

And this is a snap of the file box I have for the Kindergartner.  I have a separate one for my 4th grader where I file sheets I want her to complete each week.  There are all sorts of great uses for this method of filing! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kindergarten Reading List

I asked for, and received, excellent recommendations for bedtime or storytime reading for 4-6 yr olds.  I needed to add some variety to our bedtime reading.  I think I'll print this and keep it in my homeschool planner so that it's handy when I reserve books at the library.  Also, I can just check off what we've read instead of write the titles in the book.

A Child's Garden of Verses

A Giraffe and a Half

Anansi the Spider

Andrew Henry's Meadow

Bats at the Library, Bats in the Band

Beatrix Potter stories

Billy and Blaze books

Blueberries for Sal

Bread and Jam for Francis

Caps for Sale

Chicken soup with Rice

Cinderella version by Marcia Brown

Chrysanthemum, Chester's way - anything by Kevin Henkes


Crocodile Beat

Curious George series

Doctor DeSoto, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Elmer (David McKee)

Eric Carle books (there are many)

Frog and Toad

George and Martha series

Gerald and Piggie books

Granny and the desperadoes (Peggy Parish)

Harold & the Purple Crayon

Harry and the Lady Next Door

Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry Mouse & Tucker Kitten

It's Not a Box

Jamela's Dress (Niki Daly)

James Herriot's Treasury for Children

Jan Brett

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub

Little Bear

Little Black, a Pony

Lost in the Woods

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Madeline series

Make Way for Ducklings

Mama and Papa have a store

Max Velthuijs books

Marshmallow (Clare Newberry)

Miss Rumphius

My hen is dancing

Officer Buckle and Gloria


Owl Moon

Patricia Polacco

Peter Spier

Peter's Long Walk


Rain Makes Applesauce

Rapunzel, illus by zelinski
Richard Scarry books

Robert N. Munsch books

Robert the Rose Horse

Rumplestiltskin, illus by Peter Sis

Sam and the Firefly

Seven blind mice

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Stranger in the Woods

Tea for Two

The Barefoot Book of Monsters

The Berenstain Bears series

The drop in my drink

The Grumpalump

The Empty Pot

the Gruffalo

The Hiccupotamus

The Little House, Choo-Choo and Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel

The Monkey and the Crocodile

The Paper Bag Princess

The Snowy Day

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The true story of the three little pigs

There's an alligator under my bed

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Train Song

What is the Sun?

When I was Young in the Mountains

Where the Wild Things Are

Why don't you get a horse Sam Adams

Z is for Moose

Thursday, August 7, 2014

First Grade Homeschool Choices

First grade is the year I begin more structured instruction.  My child can sit for 20 minutes and engage in a topic with me.  Reading the list below of the resources I use might seem long and overkill, but trust me when I say they get done in just a few minutes.  First grade should need only about an hour of seat work per day.  And it certainly doesn't have to be done all at once!  Sometimes sitting the child down with spelling and handwriting while you get dinner ready is just the right thing.  Here is a list of what I've used before for First Grade, and what I plan to use with my next first grader Insha'Allah.  As always, I advise you, the parent, to preserve the relationship over the curriculum.  While not all days are happy and smooth, you don't need your homeschooling hours to be full of stress, tears, and screaming.  Make dua and start small.  It's a journey for both you and your precious child.

Language Arts:

Spelling: Spelling Workout A and B (my first grader had already learned how to read and level A was too easy for her) (4 days a week about 10 minutes each)

Handwriting:  Handwriting Without Tears Level 1 (daily for 5-10 minutes)

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 1  (3 days a week)

Writing:  Writing With Ease Level 1  (4 days a week)

Reading: Leveled readers from the library, practice phonics. Read aloud from many suggestions found online or in First Language Lessons/Writing With Ease.



I used Math Mammoth which you download in PDF and print pages.

Check out Math U See and Singapore Math.  The publisher websites often have sample lessons.

Saxon Math is very parent intensive K-3.


Story of the World Volume 1: Ancients with Student  Activity Guide

Real Science Odyssey which follows the recommendations in The Well Trained Mind, it’s just all printed up and ready to go for you.  Again, check publisher websites for sample lessons.

There also Mr. Q's  science which is easy and Level 1 (which you would use) is free. You download it to a computer and print as needed or just read it together off the screen:

Art: crafts, there are learning DVD’s you can use or just from library books.

Islamic Studies: I Love Islam or a schedule of reading from some book you like.

Quran: Sometimes, a morning meeting of 15 minutes at the kitchen table to recite memory work from the Quran is effective.  You could use that meeting time for any Quran/Dua related memory work.  Quran classes at the local masjid can be great at this age.
Arabic: is good for handwriting and connecting letters.  I used it one year and since the instructions are in English, the kids could work on it themselves. I’m thinking of getting a book for Aisha this year.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Homeschool Help Part 1

From time to time moms approach me with questions about homeschooling. They are interested in starting it for their family but are unsure what it entails. The questions are usually all the same, just as their concerns and doubts are the same, too. I feel flattered that they seek my opinion, and I always tell them that this is just my own opinion and point of view because there are so many ways to go about educating your children. I decided to start a few blog posts on this topic since the questions come up so often.

The first thing important to mention is that homeschooling is a very personal, family decision. In the end it will be as successful as your family can make it. Have a meeting with your spouse and talk about why you want to start this and what kind of compromises you are both willing to make. The shift in lifestyle will affect your current routine, so it's a good idea to talk about some the possible changes. I don't recommend anyone choose homeschooling out of fear of what's "out there". Let's make our reason to homeschool an empowered and positive one rather than a fearful one, know what I mean?

Because you have to pick what works for you, I encourage you to read up on homeschooling from various library books. When I first thought about homeschooling I came home with about ten library books on the subject. I read through almost all of them and started to get an idea of what it actually was. Once I read The Well Trained Mind I knew I could do it. Still now, five years later, I am following their method. The book is a blueprint for teaching preschool through high school, so I recommend you focus on the grade levels you are interested in rather than try to read the whole thing at once!

I have 4 children. I started homeschooling when I had a 4th grader, 3rd grader, and KG. My baby was 20 months old. I ordered a starter kit from Rainbow Resource (they will send you a free catalog) which is what they recommend for new homeschoolers. I didn’t care so much about curriculum at that time and I didn’t even know about any of the different ones out there. I just wanted a proper work load to start. I bought the 4th grade, 3rd grade, and KG kits (like this one for 3rd Grade). And it worked very well to get me started, to see how to pace myself, and then to determine what I would like to change for the following year.  Three months into the year I changed the Language Arts because I realized it was too easy and I wanted more for the kids. I researched from The Well Trained Mind and found a good solution.

The toddlers and preschoolers are challenging. They get into trouble and don’t understand you need to focus time with the older ones. Google “homeschooling with toddlers” and you will find sooo much advice! I used to have a box with toys only for homeschool time. The baby would play with them only during school time. I also bought her things to keep her busy especially for her according to her age from educational websites or stores. Some moms wait until nap time to get the hard things done like grammar or math, and then the whole family can do things like history, reading, science together.

The part about religious studies: I think we all have a hard time fitting in all the deen (religion) things we want. You could set some simple goals and just aim for getting something done. You can find links to fabulous Muslim homeschooling websites on the main page of my blog. You can make a simple outline for your year by month and print out worksheets and do them once a week or whatever you like. I’m thinking of printing things out by the subject matter (Islamic) and making one theme a month to learn (salah, wudu, seerah, etc..). It might be a good time to see what your goals are, actually, for your kids' Islamic education.

Before I end, I would like to mention one of the main things that keeps things flowing, and that is a routine. It doesn't have to be set to a clock, but if you have a rhythm in your home, then everyone knows what they should be doing at a certain time. My kids know there is a time for school work, for electronics, for chores. This rhythm will change slightly as seasons and activities change, and that's good, too. Just keep things flowing. I found a lot of good advice from some home management books such as Large Family Logistics.

One final thing worth mentioning is that I keep praying and asking God for patience, wisdom, and guidance. When I started this journey, I made my intention to please God and to raise children who feel comfortable in their faith and are strong in it. When things get crazy I have to sit down and renew my intention and ask for more help. Without the grace and mercy of Allah we could not have gotten as far as we have.

“And if Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He: But if He bestows upon you a favor, remember that He is the Possessor of every power to do all that He wills.” ——— The Holy Quran, Chapter 6, Verse 17.