Moon wall hangings

Just a quick post to let y’all know about these lovely wall hangings I bought from Chapters Indigo Canada. I was browsing late one night on their website and saw the moon and moon cycles wall hanging and fell in love with their minimal aesthetic. They’d be perfect in my boys room. The moon cycle one can also double as part of your Ramadan decor. Win-win!

They’re high quality; printed on cotton canvas and framed with real wood. Hardware to hang it on the wall is included in the box. And they are on sale right now! I wanted to let y’all know of the sale asap so I didn’t use the hardware to hang mine when the pictures were taken.

Happy shopping 😁

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Review: Bentgo Kids Lunchbox

My older son started kindergarten this month and since it’s full day, mama has to pack him a lunch. As he’s a picky eater, I was worried about what foods to give him and how to pack it. He’s more of a grazer rather than a big eater so I needed a lunchbox that accommodated a variety of foods.

After doing my research, I settled on the Bentgo kids lunchbox. He’s been using it everyday for school and loves it! I really like the durable, food safe construction and the well sized compartments. After using it for a few weeks, I’ve listed the pros and cons that we’ve seen thus far.

Pros

  • Outer shell has rubber-coated edges which makes it drop proof.
  • Easy to open and close, especially for little hands.
  • Seal on the lid of the outer shell prevents spills and mixing of food.
  • Removable tray is dishwasher safe and the compartments are easy to clean.
  • 2 year warranty: Bentgo will replace your product if it becomes defective within 2 years of purchase.
  • Purchase with a purpose: they support the non-profit organization Feed the Children.

Cons

  • On the heavier side: it weighs slightly over 1lb.
  • Slightly bulky: takes up quite a lot of room in a lunch bag.

A few brands I considered purchasing include the Yumbox, Monbento and Bentology. In the end, the pros of the Bentgo outweighed those of all the other brands.

Leave me a comment on what you use for your child’s lunch box. 🙂

My Hajj essentials

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A good friend of mine and her husband are embarking on their Hajj pilgrimage in a few weeks and she asked if I had any tips for them. As my husband and I were fortunate to complete our Hajj trip a couple of years ago, I had a few tips that will hopefully make their journey more comfortable. And I thought I should also share them with you in case you or someone you know will be performing the Hajj.

  1. Backpack (Our group provided us with these) – good to use during tawaf and at Mina as it keeps your hands free and you can have your prayer mat, water bottle, medication and other essentials inside.
  2. Food – cereal bars, cookies, granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate etc. whatever you like to eat 🙂 Your Hajj group might be wonderful with providing food and snacks but sometimes you just want something to eat that you’re used to. Gatorade powder was a lifesaver on the day of Arafah. It gets really hot in the tents so to keep hydrated just add some of the powder to a bottle of water (preferably cold). I took mine in a small resealable bag.
  3. Medication – gravol, imodium, polysporin, tylenol, bandaids etc.
  4. Refillable bottle – fill with Zam Zam at the fountains during Sa'ee and you wouldn't have to make as many stops at the water fountains for a drink.
  5. Chinese folding hand fan – I bought one in Saudi and it was probably the best money I spent on the trip! They’re dirt cheap too.
  6. Sleep mask – this is helpful if you’re a light sleeper or if you like to sleep in a darkened room. It’s especially useful when in the tents in Mina as you’re sleeping in  a room with 20+ other people who may not be sleeping at the same time as you.
  7. Collapsible bucket – if you plan on hand washing your clothes (especially undergarments) then you can buy one from any outdoor/camping supply store. We also used plastic shopping bags to wash our hijabs in the sink. Just place the bag in the sink, fill with water and detergent and soak your hijabs in. It’s a bit more tricky to use than the bucket. Laundry detergent can be purchased when you get to Saudi (bin Dawood is the go to store for everything!).
  8. Over the door single hooks – to use in the washrooms in Mina to hang your clothes on while you’re showering as there is no place to put your clean clothes. Buy a few different sizes as the thickness of the door would alter how the hook fits.
  9. Face masks – these are especially helpful if you have dust allergies or in the event you get sick and don’t want to spread your germs 😉
  10. Petroleum jelly or similar item (unscented) – particularly useful for men to rub on their legs and inner thighs to prevent chaffing while wearing the ihram.
  11. Comfy shoes – Crocs sandals/shoes is awesome as it’s rubber so when your feet gets wet you don’t have to worry about your shoes being soaked. Wudhu friendly! 🙌🏽
  12. Light sleeping bag – we bought ours from Walmart. When we were leaving Muzzdalifa we gave it to the other hajjis who were sleeping on the roads and didn’t have a hotel.
  13. Small scissors – to cut your hair with after Umrah. Learnt this one the hard way; I used a scissors from a manicure set to cut my hair and lets just say it took forever and not to mention how uneven my hair was!
  14. Sunglasses and hat – for when you’re visiting the historical sites. Sunglasses also come in handy if you plan on doing tawaf during the day as the glare from the sun reflecting off the marble can irritate your eyes.
  15. Thin/light blanket – it gets somewhat chilly at nights in Mina so if you’d like to cover while sleeping then a very thin blanket or a large pashmina might work. I didn’t have any and used my towel to cover with!
  16. Unscented wipes – to use any and every time!
  17. Pocket sized tissues – the washrooms when you’re out and about don’t have toilet paper. Another washroom tip: use the bathroom early on when you get to Muzzdalifa as it tends to get messy after a while.
  18. Light coloured cotton clothing – keeps you cooler than synthetic fabrics and darker colours.
  19. Dua list – family and friends will request that you make supplication for them. To remember it all, plus the ones you would like to recite for yourself, it is easier to type it up, print it off and take a couple copies with you. On the day of Arafah, you take your printed copy out and make your dua from there for those who asked for specific things. A major recommendation is to memorize all the dua's needed during tawaf, Sa'ee, etc. beforehand so when you're in the state of ihram, you are just reciting from memory instead of from a book.
  20. Journal – a pretty journal to write your memories in is a nice treat. It's therapeutic at the end of the night to jot down your thoughts on your journey thus far. It's also handy for writing your dua's in. Here are two that come to mind: Dua journal,  Pampered Muslimah

As my husband pointed out, my list is quite long and not everyone will need these things. However, they were useful for me and I'm sure some of it will be useful to others as well 🙂

Hajj Mabrur to everyone performing the pilgrimage this year.

Creating Eid traditions and memories

As my kids are growing and developing a better understanding of the world around them, I’d like to create memories of the special days that we celebrate as a family. Eid is the most important of those days and as such I look back on my own childhood memories and use those memorable moments as a starting point.

Gifts

Everyone knows it’s not Eid without Eid gifts, especially for our little ones. Gift giving strengthens our ties of kinship and is encouraged within our religion. The Prophet said: “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love to one another.” [Al-Bukhari]

It doesn’t have to be expensive and elaborate, just thoughtful 🙂 And kids love to receive presents, even if we might consider the gift as being small.

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Clothing

Anas bin Malik, radhiallahu ‘anhu, said: “The Prophet ordered us to wear a good dress for Eid, to use the best perfume we have, and to give charity with what we have as the most valuable.” (Reported by al-Hakim). From this narration we can see that it is encouraged to wear our best clothing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be newly bought clothes, just clean and neat (and ironed!)

I usually have two Eid outfits for my kids: one for the Eid prayer (Thobe and kufi/topi) and a dress shirt, trousers and a tie/bow tie for the rest of the day (and since they’re still young and therefore can get messy, I pack a change of outfit for those just in case moments).

 

Decor

Nothing gets you into the Eid spirit faster than being surrounded by twinkling lights and balloons! At least that’s how it is for me 🙂 I love decorating the house for Ramadan and then switching out a few items to make it more Eid appropriate. My boys usually have a blast with tossing balloons at each other. Their little squeals of joy is well worth the near light headedness I feel while blowing up those balloons!

 

Food

Traditionally, in my Guyanese culture, sawine (vermicelli noodles cooked in a sweetened milk base) is served as part of breakfast on the morning of Eid. I plan to make it this Eid ul Fitr and start off our own little tradition. The last few Eids, I’ve made ‘Eid cookies’ and last year my oldest helped to decorate them.  This year, we plan on making our Eid cookies and both my boys can ‘help’.  Lets hope this mama is patient enough to see this through! 🙂

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Eid prayer

I love the feeling of praying Eid salah out in the open! And with Ramadan being in the Summer months, our Eid prayers are held outdoors. I’ve taken my babies to every Eid prayer (except for Eid-ul-Adha when my older one was just a few days old) and they enjoy themselves. Observing the Eid prayer in congregation is a Sunnah/Fard act (scholars have differed on this) but it’s nice to be able to spend that part of your morning worshipping with others whom you’ve prayed with for the past month.

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Family time

After Eid prayers, we do the rounds for Eid invites from our family. After a month of fasting, it is time to feast! It is quite taxing on the body though, and with kids we have to schedule in nap times as well. I remember the first Eid I spent with my husband, we attended 8 parties on Eid day! Needless to say, we were pooped by the end of the night. We have since toned things down after becoming parents 🙂

 

I hope you all have a blessed and enjoyable Eid ul Fitr with your loved ones. What are some of your Eid traditions and customs?

Tips for the breastfeeding mama during Ramadan

“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.” Chapter 2, Verse 233

It’s a personal choice for a woman to decide whether or not to fast during the month of Ramadan while she is pregnant or breastfeeding. There are many factors to be considered: your health, your baby’s health, the Islamic rulings.

In my first pregnancy, I refrained from fasting but the following Ramadan I fasted while breastfeeding my 8 month old. With my second pregnancy, I fasted every other day and when Ramadan came around again he was 7 months old and so I fasted every other day as well. There were days when I had the intention to fast but just couldn’t as I had noticed a drop in my milk supply.

This Ramadan, my toddler will be 19 months and I’m still breastfeeding. I plan on fasting everyday (insha Allah) and so I thought it would be helpful if I share some of the tips I’ve gained along the way. As always, pay attention to your bodies and do what feels right for you.

Tip #1: Staying hydrated

It’s important that our bodies are well hydrated at Suhur and Iftar. We need to replace the electrolytes that were lost during the fasting hours. This is especially important for breastfeeding moms. I’ve personally found that coconut water, watermelon and Gatorade are excellent at replenishing my body as well as boosting my milk supply. This is in addition to drinking water at Suhur, Iftar and during the night.

Tip #2: Eating foods that increase milk supply

Upping our intake of foods known as galactagogues (substances that increase milk supply) greatly benefits both mom and baby. Galactagogues include supplements such as fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa and blessed thistle and foods such as nuts, oatmeal, semolina (Sooji, Cream of Wheat) and chia seeds. I personally love having oatmeal and sooji as part of my Suhur meal. They’re very filling, especially when topped with nuts and dried fruits (dates are a favourite!).

Tip #3: Rest

I know it’s hard to relax when you have little ones around (with a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old it’s nearly impossible!). But it’s essential for our bodies that we give it time to heal and rest. I’ve joined the boys in their afternoon nap and it’s made a big difference in my energy levels in the evenings. Before starting this, I would usually make dinner, tidy up, check my social media etc. when they were napping. Now, dinner gets made when we get up from our nap. It’s a bit tougher with 4 extra little hands wanting to join in but I try to keep them occupied with toys, activities such as colouring and busy bins and as a last resort, the TV.

Tip #4: Alternate fasting days

Fasting every other day enabled my body to replenish itself on the days when I wasn’t fasting. This ensured that my milk supply was constant and there were no sudden drops. I was also able to focus more on my Ibaadah (worship) on my non-fasting days as I had more energy to dedicate to extra prayers and to reading the Quran. In doing these other acts of worship I did not feel as guilty for not fasting.

If you have any other tips, please do share! 😊