Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aid For Hurricane Irene Victims

Hurricane Irene is gone but she left behind a lot of damage along the East Coast. All along the coast homes were destroyed, roads were washed out, lives were taken and possessions were lost. The pictures are heartbreaking. The Outer Banks of NC hold a special place in my heart and looking at the damage makes me want to cry. I can only imagine how the residents must feel.

This link leads to  a photo gallery of some of the damages caused by Irene. I was going to post a few pictures here, but there are so many that I couldn't choose.

So, how can you help? You can always donate to The Red Cross at . There is also a very nice, big hearted lady in VT named Kim who has put together a wish list for the residents of Ludlow. This town has been severely damaged by flooding caused by Irene and Kim is trying to help. You can view the wish list at .

If anyone knows of any other organizations that are accepting donations or goods for Irene relief, please let me know and I will add them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dibs!: Modified Momma Creations Giveaway!

Dibs!: Modified Momma Creations Giveaway!: Modified Momma Creations was started by two moms devoted to greener living. Hurley and Nikki, the creators, discovered a love ...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Deals Of The Week

Hey guys! Here are some good deals for this week.

Chilis has free Molten Lavr Cakes with the purchase of an entree today 8-29! Sign up for email deals at:
You will also get a coupon for free chips and queso when you sign up!

Target has 12 can packs of Pepsi products for $11, Circo kids clothing for $4.50, Huggies for $29 and more!

Walmart has markers, pencil boxes, pens and more for $.97. They also have Bounty Basic paper towels (8 rolls) for $5.77, Yoplait fridge pack for $4 and more.

Babies R Us is doing their Great Trade In Event as well. Bring in a used baby item (car seat, stroller etc) and get 25% off the purchase of a new one.

Monday Again

Good morning e-world. I hope everyone had a great weekend and everyone on the east coast made it through Irene ok. We did fine here with just a lot of rain and some wind. It wasn't as bad as the weather man thought it might be fortunately.

Anyway it's Monday again and that means a new Hell's Kitchen and some new deals of the week. I'm also working on a post about the hurricane damage and how/if we can help. I'll be back with that later. Have a great Monday everyone!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Hey! I'm now on Twitter! I literally just joined so I'm still learning the ropes so be patient with me!


Dealing With A Picky Eater

My four year old is a picky eater. Or I should say, he has become a picky eater. He used to eat pretty much anything except green beans. These days he only likes (according to him) cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and sometimes hot dogs. And those things are yummy, I agree, but there's no way in heck I'm going to let him get away with eating such a limited menu.

There are people who proclaim "I'm not going to make my child eat something he/she doesn't like!". And that's all well and good, except that I KNOW he likes other things. How do I know? Because last week he was scarfing it down and saying "Mommy I like this. Can I have some more please?" But this week it's "Mommy, I don't like that. I want chicken nuggets." Sorry buddy, not happening. Of course if it's something that I know he really doesn't like, I'm not going to make him eat it. I don't eat things I truly don't like and I'm not going to force my kids to. Like those green beans. Even as a baby he hated them. For the longest time there was a green bean stain on my wall because he spat them out so forcefully.

So, how do we get him to eat other things? Easy. We don't make him anything different. I make one meal and that's it. You eat it or you stay hungry. Some people may say that makes me mean. I don't think so, especially not when I know that meal is something he really does like. And like I said, I do not force him to eat foods that I know he truly despises. And in case you're wondering, no, he's never gone hungry, he eventually does eat it after the initial grumblings.

When it comes to new foods, our rule is you have to try it. If you don't like it, that's fine, but you have to give it a try. Now, obviously we don't enforce this for really out there things like roasted scorpion or fried grasshoppers. And we don't make them try things that will singe their tongues off either, but you get my point. I think that's an important rule, especially when you have a picky eater. There have been quite a few things that he has sworn he hates even before he tries it. But then he tastes it and he ends up loving it and it ends up being one less food we have to fight about. That day anyway.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Storms, Earthquakes and Hurricanes Oh My!

The East Coast is getting hit hard this week! I hope everyone is busy preparing and stays safe . And speaking of preparing, do you have an emergency kit? With all this going on, this is a good time to invest in one. The earthquake in VA this week is proof that you just never know what could happen. Here are the basic items you should have in an emergency kit according to the Red Cross:

  • Water (The Red Cross recommends 1 gallon per person per day with a minimum 3 day supply)
  • Food (Non perishable)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • Multi purpose tool
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Copies of important documents
  • Cell phone
  • Emergency contact info
  • Cash
  • Emergency blanket
You can find an expanded list here:

You can also buy kits here:

Here are some guidelines to follow during a hurricane according to FEMA

  • Listen to the news for info.
  • Secure your home. Close shutters or board up windows, secure any outside furniture or items.
  • Turn off propane. Turn off other utilities if instructed to do so.
  • Have a supply of water
Evacuate under the following conditions:

  • You are directed to evacuate by local authorities.
  • You live in a mobile home or temporary shelter.
  • You live in a high rise building.
  • If you live on the coast, in a flood plain or near a body of water.
  • You feel like you're in danger.
If you cannot evacuate:

  • Stay indoors!!!!!
  • Close all interior doors and close and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Stay in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object.
You can find the full expanded guidelines here:

You can find the latest info on Hurricane Irene here:

Stay Safe!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nine Years

Nine years ago today my husband and I had our first date. Sometimes it seems like the time has flown by and other times it seems like it's been longer. Oddly enough, neither of us really thought we would be more than friends at first. The story of how we ended up together is kind of interesting so I thought I'd share.

Nine years ago I had surgery to replace the ACL in my knee. It takes a bit to recover from and I was going out of my mind with boredom from just sitting around. I couldn't really do much physically as I was still on crutches and confined to my rear end a lot. So, I logged on to the internet. Out of boredom I found an international chat room because I like talking to people from different places.  Well, I commented on someone's screen name and we started talking. He told me he was in Egypt right then but lived in the states.We talked for a while and hit it off so we exchanged emails. After that we talked online every day.

About a month later when he came back to the states we started talking about meeting face to face. I gotta admit it made me a little nervous because you just never know. But we agreed to meet in a public place where I knew everyone. He lived 200 miles away but he drove it just to meet me.  I got there first and I will never forget that moment when he walked in the door. He had on a dark blue shirt and we both smiled. I'm a shy person so it was a bit awkward at first but once we started talking, we didn't stop.

I discovered that it wasn't really him I had started talking to at first. His brothers had been using his screen name while he was asleep. But, when they found out where I lived, they woke him up to talk to me. He didn't want to get up at first, they had to convince him.  Later on, they didn't believe him when he told them he had actually met me.

In the beginning we didn't expect it to go anywhere. We liked each other but long distance relationships are HARD. We spent a lot of time on the phone but that's not the same as being face to face with someone. But it did make us appreciate the time we did get to spend together. Added to that was the fact that we're two different races and some people reacted badly to that. There are some people I don't speak to anymore.

A little over a year after we first met, we became engaged. A few months after that I moved to be with him. A little over a year after that we got married. And now we have three kids. Sometimes it's hard to believe all of this came about just because I logged on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, I just experienced my first earthquake. I did not care for it. I was sitting here with the kids, getting ready to change my baby and all of a sudden...chaos! My entire house shook, the kids freaked out, the dog freaked out, and yeah I freaked out too. First I thought something was going horribly wrong with my house. My second thought was an earthquake but then I dismissed it because that 'doesn't' happen here. I turned on NBC, still on Days of Our Lives. But  the news quickly interrupted it and confirmed it was indeed an earthquake. Crazy! And so scary! I know West Coasters are shaking their heads at us East Coasters right now and saying "That's nothing." and it probably isn't to them. But to those of us not used to it, it was pretty scary.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day Of Cloth Diapering!

And it's going well! The baby is loving how they feel. The only issue I've had so far was trying to get her to hold still so I could pin them. So, I bought velcro to sew on when I get the chance. And until then, I'm pinning them first and then slipping them on her. I went with inexpensive prefolds and rubber covers to start with just to see how it goes. So, they don't look like anything fancy but they're getting the job done. It's a little too soon to tell if they will really help the rash issue long term, but so far in just half a day it does look better. So yay for that!

I've found some great resources to help me on this adventure. I've joined some cloth diapering groups on CafeMom and Facebook. And my aunt has given me some great advice! I've started looking around at fancier covers and inserts as well and there are a few that look really promising. I'm excited about this much to my surprise. And my baby seems much more comfortable and that's what's most important.

Deals Of The Day

Chili's is offering a kids eat free night tonight. Get a free kid's meal with the purchase of a regular entree. I think you have to sign up for their email club to get the coupon though.

Walgreens has 25% off of photo gifts and 75 4x6 prints for $8.99.

Target has Kraft Mac & Cheese for $.69, toddler girl shoes for $8, boy's polos for $6 and a lot more.

Kmart has jeans starting at $6.88, character backpacks for $7.99,coke 12 pack cans 3 for $12 and more.

The Disney Store has a sale of up to 40%  off as well as free shipping with any Halloween Shop purchase.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Subway's New Chicken Sub

Have you seen the ads? Supposedly it's supposed to be oven baked and crispy. It's supposed to make us drop our beloved fast food chicken sandwiches and run to the closest Subway.

Well, it isn't and it doesn't. It was neither crispy or tasty and it only made me love my Chik Fil A sandwiches even more.

First, it was not crispy at all, the breading was just mush. Second,  it was pretty flavorless mush. Third, it was dryer than sand on a hot beach in July. It's also very very thin. Which, now that I think about it might be a good thing given the dry, bland mushyness.

In other words, don't waste your money. Go some place that has chicken that's thicker and tastier than a match book.

Cloth Diapering

Until recently I had no desire to use cloth diapers. Too messy, too time consuming, too messy, too inconvenient...did I mention too messy? And I never really gave it much thought. But, we're on our fourth kind of disposable diapers and my poor baby just doesn't seem to do well with them. So, I've started looking into cloth. I had absolutely no idea there were so many different kinds! I had this image in my head of plain white bulky things with pins. Well, those are still around, but there are so many more options these days. Today's cloth diapers are not as bulky and some of them are right down adorable. But how well do they contain the mess?? I don't know yet personally. But, I've heard from other Moms that say they work great with no leaks.

I don't know which kind I'm going to go with just yet. I'm thinking I might give inexpensive prefolds a try first just to see if they help our particular problem. I have to admit, there's a bit of sticker shock when you first look at cloth diapers. The initial cost can seem pretty steep. Of course, you have to realize that this is a one time thing and in the long run it really is much cheaper than buying disposable diapers over and over.

I've joined a couple of cloth diapering groups and I'm hoping to get this figured out and get started on our cloth diapering journey soon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Potato Nachos

A Mom on CafeMom shared this idea for potato nachos (Thank you!!!). I've just adapted it a bit to make it a teeny bit healthier and more kid friendly.

You need:

4-5 medium potatoes
4 strips of turkey bacon (cooked and diced very small)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of shredded cheese (I used a 4 cheese blend)

  1. Scrub the potatoes, but do not peel and slice fairly thin.
  2. Place sliced potatoes in a single layer on a sprayed (greased) cookie sheet.
  3. Season potatoes with salt and dill.
  4. Broil in the oven for about 10 minutes
  5. Remove potatoes, sprinkle with bacon and return to broiler for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove potatoes and top with cheese.
  7. Turn off broiler but return potatoes to the oven for about 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve with ranch dressing and ENJOY!


CafeMom was just voted one of the top websites and I have to agree. I love CafeMom. Where else can you get advice, make friends and be entertained all at once? I joined CafeMom roughly four years ago after it was mentioned on another site and I've been there ever since. It has been a Godsend for me. At the time I joined, I was the only one of my close friends who was married with a child. Therefore, there was nowhere to go with all my "Is this normal?" "Which diaper cream is best?" "What can I do for...?" questions. And no one to understand my walking zombie state of near exhaustion due to one tiny little person. 

When you first join CafeMom, you might be a little confused about where to begin. Well, there's a group for that and it's called The CafeMom Newcomers Club. Fair warning though, bring an open mind, a sense of humor and your big girl panties because you'll need all three. But, it's a great group to be entertained and meet other Moms from all walks of life.

There are groups on CafeMom for virtually every interest, area, religion and situation. There are groups for scrapbooking Moms, Stay At Home Moms, Working Moms, Cooking Moms, Backstreet Boys fans, Football Moms, Moms with alternative lifestyles and so many more. Fascinated by ghosts? There's a Haunted Realm for that! Are you a Blogging Mom? There's a group for that too. And if you can't find a group to suit your needs, you can create one.

There are also what we call birth clubs or birth groups for Moms with children born in a certain month or Moms who are expecting a baby in a certain month. For example, I'm a member of the December 2010 Babies group because my baby was due in December of 2010. And let me tell you, the ladies in this group are so supportive and caring and just completely awesome. We all went through pregnancy and childbirth as a group and it's so nice to be able to talk to other Moms who are going through the same things as you. It truly makes the trials of child bearing easier when there's a whole group of women supporting and encouraging each other. And now that our little ones are here, we get to share that with each other as well. It's wonderful to see these little people growing from those first blurry little ultrasound images to birth, to the curious little explorers they're all becoming. We're Moms from all over the country and beyond, but we're all connected by this group.

One of the first groups I joined on CafeMom was a group for Moms with Arab/American children. Meaning, one parent is Arab and the other is American. I cannot tell you how much this group means to me. These women have become some of my dearest friends. When you combine two different cultures there's going to be some clashes and differences of opinion. No one could understand that better than other Moms who are going through or have gone through the same thing. If any of us have exciting news to share or need advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just a place to vent, we know that we can go to our group. I never would have imagined that women I met in an online forum would come to mean so much to me, but they have. So, I'm just going to take this opportunity to send big hugs to Dani, Kay, Lucia, Isra, Sarah and Kris. You guys are amazing.

CafeMom is wonderful to its members. I'm a Mod for two groups and I can tell you that mods are always shown appreciation. CafeMom is great to us. There's also The CafeMom Influencer program which is so much fun. Basically, we get to try products, food, cleaning products, some lucky Moms have even gotten appliances and tablets to test. Once we try out these products, we tell CafeMom and the other members what we think of them. I have thoroughly enjoyed this!

CafeMom has opened my eyes and mind to things I had never really thought about before. I've learned about things I had never even heard of before. And of course I've met some wonderful people that I never would have known without CafeMom. And by the way, did you know CafeMom was founded by men? Yep! Pretty darn smart of them huh?

Back Soon!

Hey guys, it's been a rough week with a teething baby and me not feeling so great. But, I will be back soon with lots more posts!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bad Poetry

In honor of Bad Poetry Day, I give you the following:


Roses are red
Violets are blue
There's thunder and lightening
And it's raining too


The little snail broke a nail tripping over the doggy's tail
The snail had a fit then the dog's tail she bit and the doggy ran off in a snit.


Chocolate is good
Chocolate is great
Don't even think about touching my plate

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teething Bites

Pun fully intended there. But seriously, teething is rough! My poor baby has two bottom teeth and is getting both of her top front teeth. She has been miserable for days. And when baby is miserable, well Mommy is pretty miserable too.

My normally happy baby who loves to play and follows a schedule she has set herself, is now cranky and restless. Her happy giggles and squeals have been replaced by tears and wails of pain. Our new routine is nurse, rock, cuddle, walk, attempt to distract with toys, nurse, cuddle, attempt to distract with food, nurse to sleep, rock, walk, nurse...well you get the idea. And forget about putting her down for a bathroom break. Poor kid shrieked like a banshee.

So my house is suffering, I've developed aches in calf muscles I didn't know I had from all the walking and bouncing and I can barely keep my eyes open to write this. But that's ok. It's nothing compared to what my baby is going through. I just hope it's over soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pretzel Loaf Bread

My family loves bread. I searched for a log time to find a recipe that we loved, but never found just the right one. Some were too sweet, some too bland... And some were just too darn time consuming for this busy Mom. So, I made my own. When my husband tried this, he loved it and said it tasted so much like a pretzel he thought I had looked up a pretzel recipe. But no, it's all me. This is a super easy recipe too that doesn't take a lot of time. A stand mixer works very well for this but you can probably do it without.  I hope you like it!

You need:

1 1/2 cups of really warm water
2 tablespoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 cups of self-rising flour
1 tablespoon of salt
1 egg
Extra flour for kneading
A large cookie sheet coated with baking spray

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. (I use a bowl)
  3. Add the yeast to the sugar water mixture and let sit until the mixture is very foamy, about 8 minutes.
  4. While you're waiting on the yeast, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the water/yeast mixture and mix very well until thoroughly mixed and a dough has formed.
  6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Make sure your hands and the top of the dough are floured as well to avoid sticking.
  7. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth.
  8. Shape the dough into a long loaf, like french bread.
  9. Place dough on the cookie sheet.
  10. Let the loaf sit for 5 - 10 minutes
  11. In a small bowl, beat the egg thoroughly.
  12. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg onto the loaf.
  13. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Preschool Woes

My boys have been asking to go to school for the past year. So, we've searched for a suitable pre-school. No luck. We toured a facility that we really liked, the director was nice, the teachers were nice. But, they wanted my then three and two year olds to attend school five days a week. That seemed like too much to us. Another facility was only a few days a week, but it costs about $700 a month per kid. Ridiculous! And that seemed to be the case with several other schools that we looked at as well. One school never bothered returning my call.

Then there are the churches that offer pre-school. If you've read my previous posts you know that we are not Christian, we're Muslim. Still, we wouldn't have an issue with a pre-school located in a church if there was no religion taught. But, even the pre-schools' websites were full of Bible verses and pictures of crosses. so that won't work.

I even looked into Pre-K through the elementary school, but they don't offer it. So, where does this leave us?

Well, I've decided to try to do a sort of home schooled pre-school. It's not the same of course, but I'm hoping it works. They want to learn and I'm just hoping I can be a good enough teacher. We went shopping yesterday and they were so happy to pick out their little notebooks, folders and markers. I'm hoping I don't let them down. Sure, it's just pre-school 123's and ABC's but it takes patience and some dedication to actually introduce these things to a child and help them learn them.

I think it will be fun once we get into a routine and I figure out how to get them to sit still for two minutes. I've got a few fun ideas to help them like making cookies and using alphabet and number shaped cookie cutters. I've got a big work book, flash cards and things like that too. But I'm open to ideas from other parents, teachers, anyone with experience. My kids want to learn. Now, how do I teach them???

A morning chuckle

Good morning!  I'll be back later with a full post but until then, here's a little smile for you.

As I was sweeping,  my 3 year old kept jumping over my pile of debris. 

3 year old: Look Mommy! I'm jumping over it!

Me: Uh huh. Who are you, Jack be nimble?

3 year old: No! I Luigi! It's Mario time! Let's a go! Jump jump jump! Mommy, I on the boat! I on the boat and I jump over it for I can get Koopa!

Gotta love the imagination of a child. :-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Just One Of Those Days

Fridays are normally our Flapjacks and Fun days. But today, not so much. To start, the kids didn't want pancakes, they only wanted bananas. Ok, that's fine. They ate their bananas. Five minutes later they're back and asking for a nectarine and a kiwi. Ok, fruit is great, no problem. At least there was no problem until the kiwi went in the trash half eaten and the culprit proclaimed he was full. Five minutes later that culprit was back and asking for a snack. Negative, my dear kiwi waster. The nectarine eater asked to finish the baby's oatmeal since she was done. Well, that was supposed to be my breakfast, but whatever. Said nectarine eater sits down takes two bites then proceeds to drop the spoon, leaves it on the floor and runs off to play. *sigh*

As my baby sits in her highchair I hear grunting and turn to see the look that every parent dreads. The one that says "I just made a mudslide in my diaper and there might possibly be clothing casualties". So I check and sure enough we have a poopsplosion. Yeah, it's gross. Just be glad you're only reading about it and not having to clean it. Now, changing a dirty diaper is never pleasant but when your baby enters the 'there's no way I'm laying still for this' phase, it becomes quite the challenge. Imagine trying to clean and diaper an octopus who has just downed a case of Red Bull. That comes close to what it's like to change a wiggly baby. But I got it done because I'm a Mom, it's what we do.I put my freshly cleaned and diapered baby in her exersaucer and go about my day. Or try to.

I try to clean up and in the process of sweeping the floor I manage to bust my own lip with the broom handle. Don't ask me how, I don't know how. Maybe the broom hates me and was just waiting for a chance to strike back at me for making it sweep up countless kiddy messes. Or maybe I was just clumsy. Either way, I now resemble the victim of a botched lip plumping procedure. My lips are looking sexy right now, let me tell ya.

My cleaning is interrupted by a crying baby who lets me know that 5 minutes is long enough for her. So, I pluck her from the apparently boring exersaucer and plop her on my hip. Then I try to vacuum. Except, the boys won't move their toys so it becomes vacuuming while bulldozing Ironman, Potato Head and their fleet of Hot Wheels to the edges of the room. That's easier said than done though because my baby decides the vacuum is a pretty interesting gadget and insists on repeatedly tipping herself forward in an attempt to grab it. But I manage to juggle the lunging baby and leave Ironman and Potato Head with their parts intact. Good thing because I think a few of those Hot Wheels need to be put up on blocks now.

So, the boys go in time out for refusing to pick up their toys and I sit down to nurse the baby to sleep. But, this being one of those days, the boys decide not only are they not going to stay in time out, they're going to establish their own fight club/gymnastics arena/let's see who can be the loudest contest in my living room. And they startle the just about to close her eyes baby. Grr! It was only noon and I was ready to surrender and wishing for bed time. But I'm happy to say that after I laid down the law, and possibly threatened to make them watch a Barney marathon and eat brussel sprouts if they didn't behave, the boys sat down and miracle of miracles, fell asleep. And the baby is napping peacefully. And I'm typing this with one hand as the other arm is lodged under that sleeping baby. I might regain feeling in it by the time she starts first grade. But even as my still empty tummy rumbles and my head and lip throb out an aching duet and I dream lovingly of my comfy bed, I smile, sigh, and enjoy the quiet while it.... and the baby wakes up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Time To Move!

Thanks for the guest post by Jo Levy

When I had my third child I figured it was time to talk to my husband about moving out to the country. We just didn’t have enough space here in downtown Birmingham and since we lived in a state with so many great places to explore I thought it was silly to live all cramped in a townhome. We found an amazing old farmhouse just a few miles outside the city and bought it right away – now we’re knee deep in renovations and I’m really excited to see where the next few months take us! I went to to see about internet and I’ve already met the closest neighbors which is great but I can only imagine how excited the kids are about having so much great space to roam. They’ve been especially cramped since the new baby came and I’m glad we’ve got the means to give them the kind of house they deserve to grow up in, you know? Does anyone have any tips for living out in the country they could share?

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Football

Pre-season NFL games start today and I am so excited! If it weren't for football season I would be much more upset to see summer end. Football season means my beloved Cowboys, exciting games, friendly fights and trash talk with my Redskins fan of a husband, getting the kids in on the excitement, new Cowboys apparel, pizza, wings, Superbowl dreams and so much more.  Yeah yeah, I know what some of you are thinking and I've heard it all before.

When some people hear that I'm a football fan, their reaction is something along the lines of "What does a chick know about football? She probably just likes staring at the player's butts". I can't tell you the satisfaction I get when I prove to know just as much, and sometimes more, as the person saying this. I can only grin when the skeptical looks on their faces change to dumbfounded amazement and even admiration.

The funny thing about football in my house is that I'm the one who got my husband into it. Yep, you read that right. My husband asks me what things mean, what just happened, etc. He grew up in Redskins territory so he's had affection for them since he was a kid, but he wasn't into watching games or knowing much about the  sport. He's a soccer guy. Anyway, he used to make fun of me for yelling at the tv and really getting into the game. Used to. But I'm proud to say I've changed him. He now sits right next to me, when he's not jumping to his feet, and yells with me.

My kids are all under 5 so they don't understand all the finer points of the sport yet, but they're learning. My three year old has already decided he's going to play. And the kid is actually pretty good already if I do say so myself. My four year old is content to watch. My husband and I have a friendly competition to get the kids on our side, but I think I'm winning that one. We saw a Redskins jersey the other day and I asked my boys if they wanted it. Their immediate response was "Yuck Redskins!". It warms my heart. Seriously though, it's fun to see my kids get so excited about the game. Football has become fun family time for us. I know there are people who don't understand that, but that's ok. It's fun for us and that's all that matters.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Whole Foods and Muslims

Whole Foods unveiled a line of halal products called Saffron Road recently. In addition to the new halal line, Whole Foods also created advertising, blogs and contests centered around the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And Muslims throughout the country rejoiced that Ramadan was being recognized by a national chain! But, of course because this is America and there is a strong anti-Muslim sentiment, people spoke out against it. People claimed Whole Foods was promoting terrorism and a host of other absurdities.

So, then there was a story that Whole Foods was backing off of their Ramadan and halal foods campaign. Which angered a whole other group of people. These people claim Whole Foods is spineless among other unflattering adjectives. But wait, the story isn't over! Whole Foods then released statements that they were in no way backing away from this campaign. A statement was released earlier that claims there was one district in the Whole Foods empire that suggested taking down signage and avoiding any mention of Ramadan, but that Whole Foods headquarters was not behind this directive. Confused yet? Me too.

My hope and wish is that Whole Foods is not feeding into the ignorance and fear mongering of those who hate any and all things Muslim. There has been far too much of that already. I applaud Whole foods for thinking of it's Muslim customers and I think it's absolutely FANTASTIC that they are offering halal products. It is absolutely WONDERFUL that they are recognizing Ramadan and I wish more places did. Now, dear Whole Foods, please please please stick to your original plan and ignore the ignorance of the fear mongers

Monday, August 8, 2011

Interracial Couples

I grew up in an area where interracial relationships were not the norm. To be honest, this could be in part because the area was predominantly white. And it's most likely due to other reasons as well. For many people the 'rule' is 'Thou shalt not date outside thy race'. But it's not limited to a small Virginia town. Interracial couples from all over the world often face scrutiny, discrimination, hatred, and more. My question is, why?

I've heard many people say that they will not date anyone who isn't the same race. Some say it's because they just aren't attracted to people of a different race. Ok, I can understand that, even if I think you shouldn't say 'never' just because it hasn't happened *yet*. They might walk down the street tomorrow and fall head over heels for a person of a different race. Anyhow, I'm getting off track. There are also people who believe that dating someone of another race is "wrong" or "disgusting". I do not understand that.

Say you have a daughter and there are two potential suitors for your daughter. One suitor is just wonderful. He treats her well, he's nice, polite, loving and respectful. He's just an all around great guy and she loves him. But he's a different race. Then you have suitor number two. Suitor #2 is not a nice guy. He's mean, petty and abusive and your daughter is afraid of him. But he's the same race as you. Which would you rather your daughter be with? Wouldn't it be wrong and disgusting for your daughter to be with someone who is cruel and abusive?

Beyond the fact that it's ridiculous to judge someone based on their skin color, there's also a little phrase called "None of your business". That's right, it's none of your business who other people choose to date. If dating outside your race isn't for you, that's fine, don't do it. But you do not have the right to tell everyone else they can't. You do not get to choose for me. I do.

As I've mentioned before, I happen to be in an interracial marriage. We've gotten it all. We've gotten dirty looks, nasty comments, whatever. What I found to be very effective against those dirty looks is to give them my very best "May I help you?/What the @#$% are you staring at?" look right back. Nasty comments can be a bit trickier, depending on the context. Sometimes it's best to ignore them. But for that rude lady 5 feet away who keeps 'whispering' to her husband and the entire world about how gross it is, there's a strategy that might not be the most mature, but it's very satisfying. Kiss/hug/lock hands with your date/spouse/significant other. Then smile at her. I promise, the look on her face will be priceless and she will usually shut up. Like I said, it's probably not the most mature way of handling things, but it's fun. Anyone in an interracial relationship knows that the looks and comments can get old and annoying and it's hard to ignore it all the time.

However, sometimes the situation is more serious and can be threatening. A few months ago my family and I went out to lunch. As we were eating a group of men arrived, but not just any men. White supremacists. Yes, they still exist, and yes these men proudly displayed their feelings on their clothing and jackets. The majority of the group simply ignored us. But there was one man who had the coldest eyes I have ever seen and they were full of pure hatred. Throughout the meal he glared at not just my husband and I but at our children. That's the first time I have ever been truly frightened of someone who doesn't approve. To glare hatefully at two adults is one thing but to stare at young, innocent children and infants as if you want to murder them is quite another. It's disturbing on so many levels. Needless to say we left as quickly as possible and I didn't breathe easy until we were miles away.

I just don't understand that kind of unfounded hatred and I don't think I ever will.


Quick, how many stereotypes can you name in 30 seconds? Probably a lot right? Now, how many people can you think of that disprove a stereotype? Right. Kinda makes you wonder just how stereotypes get started and why anyone is willing to believe them.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say things like "All <insert race here> people are <insert stereotype here>. Really? You've personally met and assessed every person of that race and determined this?

Sure, there are some stereotypes that are pretty harmless, but there are a lot more that aren't. Stereotypes can be very mean as can the people who believe them. If you have ever been judged or berated based on a stereotype, you know that it can hurt. You know that it can be embarassing.

The thing about stereotypes is that there's one to cover just about everyone. For every race, religion, hair color, type of home, job, musical interest, whatever, there's a stereotype to go along. Let's look at me for example. If you look at me you'd see a 20 something white chick with an in between hair color that some say is brown and some say is blonde, and the mother of three. Just from that, what stereotypes come to mind? Go ahead and leave me a comment andI'll tell you if you're right.

Good Friends

Over the weekend I traveled back to my hometown to help some friends move. These friends are mother and daughter and only the daughter was aware that we were coming to help. As we pulled up and got out out of the car, we hear this voice yelling "I'm going to kill you both!". What a welcome huh? And it was. You see, these aren't just friends, they're family and that voice threatening to kill us belongs to the mother. To respect their privacy, we'll call her D and the daughter is A.

A and I met when we were 12 years old. Although we didn't even like each other at first, once we actually started talking, we quickly became friends. We discovered that we shared the same birthday and jokingly began referring to ourselves as twins. But, what started out as a joke, became truer than we could have known. No, we weren't really twins separated at birth, but the sixteen years since we met have definitely made us sisters.

A and I have been there for each other through the craziness of high school, the excitement of prom and band trips, graduation, the beginning of our adult lives, boyfriends, a nightmare college roommate, tragedies, celebrations, you get the picture. We are very lucky to have stayed so close when other friends have drifted away. A knows more about me than any other person on Earth, which is why I try not to piss her off. Just kidding. In sixteen years, of course we've had a few disagreements, but A has never spilled my secrets. She's loyal, understanding, caring, and willing to listen, everything you want in a best friend. She's also incredibly smart and determined. And no one has a bigger heart when it comes to animals. A and I can look at each other and have an entire conversation without saying a word. It's fun and convenient for us, but it drives everyone else nuts.

D is A's mother, but she's also become a Mom to me. D was the 'cool Mom' that every kid wants. She was a mother and didn't put up with any stuff, but she somehow managed to be a friend and someone you felt comfortable talking to as well. D never made me feel like a dumb, pesky kid. Not to mention, this woman is hilarious and so much fun.

When A and I were in seventh grade, D agreed to take us to the mall for a local radio station's back to school bash. This particular bash featured the Backstreet Boys who were just starting out back then, as well as Andrew Keegan. D nearly got knocked down as a hundred teenage girls made a mad dash for the Backstreet Boys when they came in. Then as she stood on the fringes waiting for A and I to complete our droolfest, some nice person on the second level decided D looked a bit warm and dumped soda on her head. Most people would have gotten a little steamed at this point, but D muttered a few choice words and laughed it off. As we were leaving the mall, we were rear ended. Most people would have flipped, but D was calm enough to joke with the cops that she was only 25. To this day, D jokes that the Backstreet Boys are to blame and she swears she can't stand them. To this day,A and I are still fans and love to tease D about coming to another concert with us.

And that's another wonderful thing about being so close to A and D for so long.  We have these inside jokes, these stories and these experiences. Someone else can say something completely innocent and A, D, and I burst out laughing because it reminds us of something else. We know which areas are touchy subjects and not to be discussed in front of others. We know each others fears and wishes, likes and dislikes. It's wonderful to have people who are that close to you.  I am so grateful to have A and D in my life, I don't know where I'd be without them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back soon!

Hey guys! Hope you're having a great weekend.  Just wanted to let you guys know I've been out of town but I'll be back to posting very soon. Take care! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is it a pancake or a muffin?

Well, it's both. Recently my kids wanted pancakes for breakfast but my pan was unavailable. So, I got the bright idea for pancake muffins. It's very easy and they came out super yummy. I used 3 cups of complete pancake mix, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of blackberries, 1/2 cup of blueberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. I mixed everything but the blueberries together really well so that the blackberries broke into pieces. Once that was well mixed, I added the blueberries and mixed just until combined. I poured them into muffin cups and baked them at 400 for 20 minutes. At first my kids were a bit hesitant and a little puzzled. But once they tried them they wouldn't stop eating them! They were very soft and tasted great. A bonus to making them this way is that there's no need for syrup so there's less sugar and less mess! I'm going to experiment with other flavors and varieties and I'll let you know how those go. I've included a pic but it's a crappy cell phone picture so please excuse the quality.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why I Chose To Be Muslim

*Before reading this post, you need to understand that this is my experience, my thoughts, my opinions. If you disagree, that's fine, you're entitled to your own beliefs and opinions. I am in no way trying to say anyone else is wrong for their beliefs, this all about me and my own beliefs.*

Many people have asked me why I converted and I figured Ramadan is a great time to explain my decision. I was raised a Christian. Meaning I was baptized as an infant, I went to Sunday school as a kid and sporadically attended church as a teenager. I believed it because it was all I knew. I grew up in a southern area in a county where the majority of the population is white and Christian. To this day, there is only one Muslim family that I know of (there could be more, I'm just not aware of them) in the entire county, and a few Jewish families. But, even then I had questions. There were always things that didn't really make sense to me, but when I would ask I would be told only "Because the Bible says so". 

When I met my Muslim husband, the only thing I knew about Islam was that Muslims didn't eat pork and many Muslim women wore head coverings. That was it. What you need to know about Islam is that it's not just a religion, it's a way of life that affects a person's culture. I began studying Islam in an effort to understand my new boyfriend better. I wanted to know why he thought a certain way, why he did things a certain way, I was really curious.

When I began looking into Islam, I had no intention of converting, I just wanted to understand exactly what was believed and why. But, what I found was that the more I read, the more intrigued I became. Those questions I'd had as a Christian were answered by Islam and I discovered that Islam just made more sense to me. It was easier and made more sense to believe in the Qur'an because it wasn't written from a hundred different view points by a hundred different people and changed who knows how many times throughout the years.

Many people believe I converted for my husband but that isn't true. You cannot convert for another person. When you convert to Islam and say the Shahada it has to be because you believe it, not because someone else does. A Muslim can not force another person to convert either, despite that common misconception. I converted because it felt right to me and that's how it should be.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What is Ramadan?

For Muslims around the world Ramadan is a very special time. However, people who are not familiar with the religion of Islam often don't understand its meaning. Well, allow me to explain.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It was during this month that we believe the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the moon rather than set times. This is why Ramadan is celebrated at a different time each year and also why beginning and ending times can vary a  little.

Muslims are supposed to fast from sun up to sun down during Ramadan. Sex, foul language and other bad behaviors are also not allowed. This has a few purposes. First, it is intended to give us a taste of how the less fortunate feel in hopes that we will become more charitable. In other words, if we see what it's like to be hungry, we'll have more sympathy for people who don't have food and we will help them. It also serves to take our attention away from wordly things so that we may focus more attention on our religion and God. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly, children under 12 and anyone who is not well or who may be putting their health at risk by fasting are not required to do so. However, they may be required to feed a hungry person (meaning charity) and/or make up the fasts when they are able. And just a little advice for courtesy, if you can avoid it, do not eat or drink in front of a person who is fasting.

During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to read the Qur'an, pray and focus on spiritual cleansing and being closer to God. We are to use this time to become closer to our families as well. We are also encouraged to practice charity by donating money, food, clothing, etc to the less fortunate. Ramadan is also the time to let go of grudges and practice forgiveness. In other words, it's a time for us to straighten up and try to be better people.

Ramadan is also a time for celebration. People often prepare elaborate meals to break their fasts and often invite family members and friends to join them. Ramadan can also involve gift giving although this is more common on the Eids. An Eid is an Islamic holiday. Eid Al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. Prior to the Eid, Muslims are supposed to donate food to less fortunate Muslims so that everyone has food for the Eid. The Eid begins with a prayer and is followed by celebrations with family and friends. It's during this time that children typically receive gifts. Christians have Christmas, Jews have Hanukkah, Pagans have Samhain and Yule and Muslims have Ramadan and the Eids.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak to any Muslim readers out there!

*The above images are not my own, they are borrowed from various websites*