Summer : Thinking outside the bucket

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

I have learned what a “bucket list” is from Pinterest. I kept coming across them and, since me and the boys keep talking about what we should do in the Summer (only because the UK weather is likely to be less rainy then, we don’t really take Summer holidays…). I thought it would be fun to make our own. Especially today: baby H and myself have a cold and – alhamdulillah – last night was rough and I woke up feling a bit overwhelmed by my unwritten to-do list. For once I prioritised fun with the boys over the washing up. I did the most urgent jobs and left the dishes while we painted.

I let the boys pick the summery element we would use to write each item of the list. They picked ice lollies. I wanted pineapples (or t-shirt hanging on a string washing line… but I feared it would make the poster too heavy). I got to choose the technique: of course watercolour. Masha’Allah. Minimum skill, maximum splendour. I think most mammals with opposable thumbs could achieve a good result with watercolours!

You litterally just have to teach the child to use strokes rather than the back and forth motion we use to colour with pencils or felt tips. Masha’Allah. The beautiful layering of shades and transparency of watercolours creates a brilliant rendition of juicy ice lollies melting.

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I cut a template of the main shape from thin cardboard, we filled a few watercolour friendly sheets and coloured them without minding the lines (we were going to cut them anyway). Then we cut the sticks out of a brown envelope I had lying around. TA-DAH!

So here it is:

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(This lovely font is called “KG love you through it”)

I put it up in our usual poster display spot in the entrance after the boys’ bedtime. I can’t wait to see their reaction tomorrow morning insha’Allah.

Initially we kept it really simple and easily achievable, with entries such as these (even B had a go at writing on his own masha’Allah!):

Then Y started becoming much more ambitious…(the left photo below refers to archeological research, expressed is Y’s characteristically coincise style! … he has been digging up the garden in search of an ancient town…)

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Until, when we were about to finish and I had popped upstairs to change H, Y shouted up to me to ask whether he could write this entry and I though “yeah sure, why not?!”

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If our Summer is as fun as it was to make this poster, insha’Allah, it will be wonderful. We probably won’t need to go that far.

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New growth

Assalamo ‘alaykum. YES! that time of the year is upon us… what time? clues in the picture below:

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It is almost Spring! Alhamdulillah!

A few days ago (when we had a break from the glorious British gloom) I collected a few essentials in this square plastic bowl – that around here is affectionately referred to as “the vomit box” (it does come in handy when the boys get a virus) – and headed with two very excited children to the garden. I got my seeds, lolly sticks and a pen to lable the pots, the lovely gardening gloves my husband got me last year and I never used because my khimar gets in my way and I didn’t want to get dirty (here, to all those who imagine me being a great garneder; or a gardener of any kind) and the all important baby monitor (H was napping).

We started easy by putting in the ground some lovely cyclamins my mother had given me. Then we planted some basil seeds, courgettes, chilles, aubergines and lots of tomatoes. We will need to soak the peas and fava beans to plant later and see what else we can add, in sha’Allah.

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(I feel I should clarify here that the manly hands above are not mine! AND the gloves show that I did get dirty this time, alhamdulillah)

This coming Spring as a time of new growth in many ways. After H was born in the Autumn, I sort of hybernated in that strange, busy, sleepless world of being a “3rd time new mom”. And my family with me. Each of us had to deal with the personal challanges that the great change brought into his or her life. Alhamdulillah, seeing the sun outside, the buds on the trees, the boys riding their bikes at reckless speed (…oh, wait, this is not season specific!) anyway, I feel like the whole family is rubbing their eyes, having a good stretch and starting to had towards normality again. Not to mention our expert in matters of growing:  my 4 – no, wait – nearly 5 months old, who is turning from a cuddly blob into a beautiful, playful and happy girl, Allahumma baarik.

Incidentally, we have been picking up a science book with Y and I liked the “mind map” he came up with for the first topic, so I decided we should elaborate on it and turn it into a poster. The topic was simple enought for B to participate too. Alhamdulillah.

New posters up! the first change of homeschooling decor since the baby: alhamdulillah, it feels good to be back.

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A little something green

Assalamo ‘aleykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

I am a lover of Winter and I am not ashamed to say it. Gloomy weather makes me happy and fills me with energy. The cloudier and greyer, the better. Masha’Allah. However, since having children I have come to see a completely different side to nice, warm weather, one that I used to be completely oblivious to. Now I see the fun that can be had in the sun, Alhamdulillah, as I struggle to get the boys indoors to eat their lunch! (sometimes I just give them a bowl to take outside).

Alhamdulillah, just as the boys always seem to find creative ways to entertain themselves and ever new things to capture their imagination and interest, there is much for us adults to discover and ponder upon in the garden.

When I first started getting acquainted with my current group of friends, for a while the talk always seemed to revolve around the great “grow your own” revolution that is swooping through the UK. I thought it was a good concept, although I had no clue about half the things they were talking about *smile* When I proposed the idea of growing things to my husband, he had a little chuckle and said something to the effect of “Is that the latest fad among the sisters then?” but I did give him the bug. And we have been growing stuff since. The raised beds my friends were planning have yet to materialise for us (shortage of free time and other commitments haven’t allowed, Alhamdulillah). But POTS are a great thing, and our pots population, along the sunny edge of the tiled part of our garden, has been steadily growing from one Spring to the next.

Growing things is easy and it fills us with wonder at the mercy of Allah and at how tiny seeds can become bright colour, fresh fragrances and nutritious food. As I look out to our modest selection of fruit, vegetables and herbs, there is an ayah that resounds in my head:

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{Tell Me! the seed that you sow in the ground; is it you that make it grow or are We the Grower?}

[Surah al-Waaqi’ah 56:63-64]

That really sums it up.

And now some pictures! they are from a couple of days ago and, subhanallah, things have already grown and changed since.

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Spring on the wall

Alhamdulillah, we finally got around to take off the winter decorations and to make some spring things. The boys did some worksheets I had downloaded from http://www.twinkl.co.uk/ My favourites are always the ones that get Yusef writing. He is not into creative writing as yet so he does need a push (especially with acrostic poems), but then I am always very chuffed with the result masha’Allah. I am particularly proud of his – succinct but heartfelt – account of how he overcame his phobia of butterflies (Alhamdulillah). We added here and there some toilet roll daffodils and egg carton bluebells we had painted the day before, and added a paper chain, just because.

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