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I practiced my faith in private for 3 years- here’s what I learned.

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About three years ago, I published a post in which I threw in the towel. “I’m done!” I declared, decrying numerous acts of discrimination, misogyny and isolation I had experienced at the hands of being a Muslim. I left my friends. I left my mosque. I left my life. And I journeyed ahead for a new one.

People came in droves. The criticism wasn’t actually new- I faced constant criticism as a Muslim for my life choices, both intentional and unintentional. Friends were outraged that I would point out the obvious sexism in cultural Islam. The homophobia and transphobia. The racism. The ableism. Their first line of defense? “That’s not Islam!” I never said it was. But I definitely pointed out the very real cultural problems within our faith that were constantly talked over. Constantly victimizing me, from both Muslims and non Muslims alike. There’s no manual for Islamophobia.

So there I was. The man who beat me for years and abducted me and ran me over with my own car had gotten out of jail and took me to court to get contact and visitation with our daughter. Despite being in abject poverty, I was forced to pay for a GAL, and he promptly stopped paying his child support to make sure I was completely paralyzed. Our GAL was bias and lazy, ignorant and ableist- and my daughter has severe mental illness and more than a half dozen times I had solicited the help of the state to prevent her from further abusing my youngest child. It was a mess. I wasn’t safe.

I was pregnant. By month 4, I had lost 5lbs, had hyperemisis gravidarum so badly that I only gained 12lbs total by month 9, and I developed hives all over my body. They got so bad in fact, that I went into labor at 30wks, and I was put on bedrest. The day I got off bedrest at 37.5wks, I gave birth within 3hrs.

Long story short, my daughter finally assaulted my son so badly that she had to go live with my grandma. I moved, 2wks post partum, next door to her so I could help parent and provide for her.

What does that have to do with my faith?

Well, it seems impossible to understand, but imagine being a disabled Muslim in a custody case and involved in a DHHS investigation for sibling abuse between two of your children. Are you catching my drift? Compound that with living in proximity to disapproving Christian family and you’ve got a grand cluster fuck.

So I pulled my white privilege card, and after having a talk with my partner, decided I wasn’t going to tell people I was a Muslim anymore and just try to “fit in”.

I was washed over with relief. I didn’t have to have a conversation every.single.holiday. over our boundaries and expectations. I just stopped asserting myself. I didn’t have to answer concerned DHHS questions, or face disapproval from our GAL. “No worries here, look at our holiday photos!”….”Of course I don’t make my daughter wear hijab! She’s like everyone else…” I didn’t have to explain to anyone why I prefer jeans. I didn’t have to fight the schools. I didn’t have to fight to protect my daughter from toxic Christian ideas like original sin and sexist ideas about women’s autonomy. I didn’t have to fight to explain why I loved someone that everyone thought was unworthy of love. I didn’t have to fight to explain how I have 3 kids by 3 men. I didn’t have to fight to help people understand my disability. I didn’t have to fight. I just laid down and died. I was exactly how they wanted me. No worries here. No more “extremist” Muslim ideas. You won.

So here are the lessons I learned, and why I’m back to talk about it.

Firstly, the most important lesson I learned is to NEVER align with christianity, whiteness, cissexism, ableism, or heteronormity. This is a huge problem in the Islamic community, to the extent of cultural white washing and being prejudice against others. The reason this form of self hatred became toxic to me should be obvious, but let me explain. By surrendering myself to cishetero white christian culture, I wasn’t just erasing my own identity, but i was making it harder for others to maintain theirs and teaching cishet white christians that their oppressive tactics work. No, it is NOT ok for you to force me to explain Islamic holidays, customs or cultures- you have the internet. And when I DO explain them, you don’t have a right to police how I convey the information. You do not get to have an opinion about it. It’s take it or leave it. I’m not going to explain my hijab anymore. Read a book. I recommend the Qur’an.

Just a side note here- aligning with christian white cishets also does not make you safer. They sniff you out. They condemn you. They laugh at your efforts.

Secondly, I learned that christian white cishets are never going to be satisfied because I cannot be a christian white cishet. I can fake like one, but I can never BE one. My giant christmas tree, rotting pumpkins, faux easter grass, sexy tank tops, western music, american decorum, and seemingly cishet relationship are never going to be enough. It’s actually NOT less work suppressing my identity for the one they gaslight me into thinking they want, it’s more work, and its at the expense of my mental and physical wellness. Furthermore I cannot be able bodied. I am disabled. I didn’t ask for it. No sheik is going to cure it. I’m ok with that. There are worse things in this life than being disabled- like being an asshole.

Third, people who said they were friends to my face actually were not. One- ONE friend messaged me privately and was like, “…are you ok? Something is off.” Girl, the GAL even filed a motion to SILENCE ME from talking about her investigation. The complaint I filed against her was so big I had to ship it IN A BOX. Brittney, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you. And to the rest of you- you can eat a bag of dicks. Friends- if you EVER have a friend do what I did, you need to get your imam involved, their parents, family, suicide hotline, SOMETHING, because this behavior is not normal AT ALL. If your friends are ditching you because you are denouncing your faith, they are not friends. Friends lift eachother up. Lucky for you and I, I wasn’t ditching my faith OR killing myself. Phew.

Fourth, I am spiritual and not religious. Without the outside pressures of prying eyes and ears, I could explore my faith. I studied Rumi. I read more Qur’an. I spoke with Islamic reformists. I found strong female role models, and separated myself from toxic rigid thinkers. I learned that Islam does not have to be black and white- there are millions of other independent women just like me, who listen to music and wear jeans, and *gasp* DATE. I don’t have shame- I DON’T HAVE SHAME for being who I am or how I live my life.  Navigating my life without Muslim parents doesn’t have to be some life crushing burden. Being a single mother doesn’t either. I can be myself, and that’s ok. There is a unique criticism that WOMEN face in Islam for how they practice. There’s this idea that we have to be “good” and “pure” while men do not face equal criticism. This is why hijab is so emphasized in Islam, but smoking, a common act by men, is often NOT. I literally had someone at a dinner party tell me that I should “take any man that will have me because no man is going to love my children like his own, he’s simply not, and will never support them.” Ha. Thanks.

And also, Islam is the leading faith in innovations in math and science. Can we all just pause and acknowledge that medicine exists for a reason? It’s because Allah swt gave us brains to problem solve and help ourselves. Neurotransmitters don’t grow on trees. And some people have deadly allergies. It’s really ok.

Lastly, we still have to have conversations about tough issues in Islam and I’m not afraid. I was shocked when my “friends” started emailing me with extreme eyeroll worthy comments. I probably shouldn’t have been, to be honest, because issues like cissexism, homophobia, misogyny, and racism are alive and well in most circles. I found it shocking though, that more startling to them than me saying I didn’t want to practice Islam was me pointing out the prejudice I was facing within the community! I wasn’t going to take it laying down like they did. I wasn’t going to accept one more person telling me to be “patient with my parents” who openly criticized Islam, or criticism about my relationships and children, and I definitely wasn’t going to allow one more person to dictate how I dress, where I go, or what I do in my spare time. It was completely beyond them that a lot of their ideas were steeped deeply in misogyny or cissexism and heteronormity. Gross, am I right? Listen- gay is ok, black lives matter, no person is illegal, women have a right to autonomy, there’s more than 2 genders, and Muslims aren’t terrorists. These are not separate issues. And they all effect me and my family.

So, asalamu alaikum wa rahtmatullahi wa barakatuhu, it’s good to be back in Maine.

 

 

Your kid’s crap.

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My kids have a lot of crap. Definitely more than YOUR kids. Maybe not as much as YOUR kids. But my kids sure do have a LOT of crap.

It makes me crazy.

It’s always everywhere. I’m always cleaning it up. Organizing it. Cleaning it out. Fixing it when it breaks. Washing it when its soiled.

Sound familiar?

Whether you’re a member of the Konmari kult, a konminimalist, a minimalist, or you’re just tired of wading through toys, you need to know something:

You are the reason for your own misery.

Marie Kondo didn’t tell you to gaslight your kids. But that’s what we do.

Think back to Christmas. Their birthday. Heck, this upcoming Easter. What did you buy your kid?

What did you allow your friends and family to buy your kid?

What purchased items did you allow into your home?

What did you buy your kid in line at the grocery store?

What are your teaching your child about consuming?

So unless your kid got a job and got their own money (no- I’m not talking about the allowance that YOU gave them), YOU and just YOU are solely responsible for the belongings in your child’s possession.

And what’s worse, now you are expecting them to maintain them, organize and clean them, put them all to use (because God forbid they don’t play with that nice thing they were bought for way too much money), and appreciate them….

Your child is a child. Your child probably doesn’t play with their toys because they have choice paralysis- there are TOO MANY OPTIONS for them to play. So they don’t.

Side note here- play is the work of children and if your child is not playing, their soul is suffering like a chef who doesn’t cook and an artist who doesn’t paint.

What do you do?

Well, I’ll tell you, but you’re going to have to trust me. A mother of 3, 2 of whom have special needs, and a half decade minimalist, I know exactly what it takes.

  1. Stop the flux. STOP BUYING THINGS. If someone else is buying things, reinforce your boundaries- remind them that all things must go to you FIRST, out of sight of the child or not within earshot. If you must buy things so your children don’t cry at Easter (*cough cough* guilty as charged *cough cough*), follow the adage, something to Wear, Something to Read, Something they Want, Something they Need. Or buy consumables (re: candy, crayons, bubbles, etc.)
  2. Place an emphasis on activity. Children need your TIME. Children need to help make meals and set the table, be read to, go for walks, make mud cakes, draw, and help with chores. These are important life skills and make them feel meaningful and connected.
  3. Watch your child play. Learn about their play and their favorite toys.
  4. When your child is not home, go through their toys. Throw away broken toys. Donate duplicates, extras, and toys that aren’t age appropriate. Donate large items that are rarely used like giant stuffed toys. Donate toys that have flashing lights, electronic music, or that are animated. Examine what is left. If it can’t be played with using their imagination, it’s not a toy, it’s a show.
  5. Smuggle your child’s toys out of the house like drugs across the border. This is not child abuse- your child doesn’t have the emotional regulation to detach themselves from their belongings, and they don’t have the capacity to sort through the volume of toys they have. This is true until a child is around 9 or 10. For tougher items, a child of about 4 and up can sometimes make some small choices like which stuffed toys to keep- nothing more.
  6. Create a space for favorites- this could be a bin or a shelf. Ideally it would be a shelf with baskets or buckets. Large bins only teach children to throw things in one place, they do not teach organization.
  7. Place some novel or “long lost” toys on the shelf as well.
  8. Put the rest of the toys in storage.
  9. When the toys in the room have been there awhile (think perhaps a month or more), bring out one bin of “rotated” stored toys. Put some away in the bin and replace them. As this process continues, weed out any toys that aren’t appreciated or are broken.
  10. Consider recreating your child’s space. Are your child’s needs being met in their space? Is there a place to read? A place to craft? A place to play? Floor space? Are their toys and clothes easily accessible? Are the stored items out of sight? Is the space calm, welcoming, and beautiful?

 

More on Waldorf “toys” later….

Good luck!

 

I’m staring at foot soak.

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I’m staring at foot soak. My doula gave it to me as a birth present. My baby is 10mos old.

I am back in my skinny jeans. Most of them. I had to get rid of many of them because I’m too skinny for my skinny jeans. It’s been this way for at least half a year. Go ahead. Write me hatemail.

But first consider that all I wear is jeans- and t-shirts. In fact I’m in a rut. Messy bun. Jeans. T-shirt. At least they’re not yoga pants, right? At least I shower every day, right? At least I put on my 3 obligatory articles of makeup every day, right? Foundation. Blush. Mascara.

A member of the cult of Marie Kondo, I have just recently gone through the contents of my vanity. Truth be told, this is my second go-around. I had a baby. I moved to a tiny apartment. I near lost my mind. My body isn’t my own or it’s morphed into something resembling a fraction of my aunts, and in addition to my ever changing wardrobe (re: attempt to reinvent some fragment of my personality), every bit of my days seem to be revolving around child rearing or homemaking- even my arts and crafts.

And so, in addition to this foot soak, I’m also examining earrings I never wear, bracelets meant to match outfits I no longer have, dust covered perfume bottles, separated nailpolish, caked expired eyeshadow, and hair accessories new in their packaging. Who is this person?

Meet…my fantasy self.

Le sigh.

My actual self…is stressed about the dangerously low frozen pumped milk supply in the freezer and between outbreaks of chronic uticaria and nursing two different inhalers, has been caring for an onslaught of colds that my son keeps bringing home from his first year at school (my actual self is a warrior?). My actual self is rotating between skinny jeans that are baggy in the ass from my melting body, and gypsy skirts. My actual self has painted my nails 3 times since giving birth almost a year ago and has worn perfume once (my actual self has a lower cancer rate). My actual self usually only wears makeup when going to the supermarket so people don’t assume I’m terminally ill.  My actual self LOVES to make watercolor and mixed media collage and stitch little gifts. My actual self feels whole playing fiddle and doing yoga. My actual self loves to read non fiction. My actual self…blogs more than a few times in half a year.

My fantasy self thinks that self care revolves around putting on a pretty face. My fantasy self does for others to avoid the discomfort of doing for myself.

But that is not what my actual self KNOWS intuitively. My actual self knows that the next time I’m tempted buy posh nailpolishes and trendy eyeshadow that I should instead buy a NEW WATER BOTTLE because my body needs WATER to be well. And instead of buying another pair of leggins I’m too shy to wear I could treat myself to ACTUALLY SITTING DOWN TO A MEAL AT MY TABLE because my body needs CALORIES. Or instead of making yet another toy for my children I could perhaps take time to PAINT or tune my FIDDLE because my body needs STRESS RELEASE. And perhaps one day instead of obsessively cleaning my house in case one of my zero real-life not-on-facebook-friends drops by the house, I could GO TO BED EARLY because my body needs SLEEP. Shit, maybe I’ll even drop by the library one day and have an in face conversation with an actual human who can form sentences.

My actual self is the realness- the rawness- that pushes through the sleep deprivation and slave labor housework of parenting. She is no Kardashian.

Three Islamic principles that helped me become a better vegan

veganI’ve talked at length about my choice to go vegan. I’m not going to lie- it IS hard. I’m also gluten free, which makes it harder. Most gluten free packaged products are made with egg or dairy, and for awhile, I was erroneously told to abstain from all oats due to a speculated separate condition.

What’s hard about going vegan, apart from the literal detox you must endure to get the casomorphine out of your system, is that it feels like you’re the only one awake in a planet full of dreaming people. In this article, the author points out,

“Particularly in the early part of being an ethical vegan, when people become aware of the absolute absurdity, superiority and abuse at such a level, and then look around and see that people are all smiling and drinking a cup of coffee and they can’t see it, it’s almost like an existential crisis. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, I’m living in hell and no one else can see it.’ Then there’s that high state of alert and arousal and people wondering how they’re able to describe what they know and how they feel without seeming mad, or without people saying, ‘Oh, don’t be silly!’”

Its hard on the psyche and the soul.

Although by most I do not qualify as a practicing Muslim, it is my background as a Muslim that actually helped me to become a better vegan. Here are the principals that guided me on my journey:

supervegan1.Don’t go hard or go home- The Qur’an says, “And those who disbelieve say: Why is not the Quran revealed to him all at once? Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages.” [25:32].

This means that there is a REASON we gained knowledge in parts. Check out this hadith from Bukhari vol.6 book 61 verse 515:

Narrated Yusuf bin Mahk:

While I was with Aisha, the mother of the Believers, a person from Iraq came and asked, “What type of shroud is the best?” ‘Aisha said, “May Allah be merciful to you! What does it matter?” He said, “O mother of the Believers! Show me (the copy of) your Qur’an,” She said, “Why?” He said, “In order to compile and arrange the Qur’an according to it, for people recite it with its Suras not in proper order.” ‘Aisha said, “What does it matter which part of it you read first? (Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Sura from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: ‘Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.’ (54.46) Sura Al-Baqara (The Cow) and Surat An-Nisa (The Women) were revealed while I was with him.” Then ‘Aisha took out the copy of the Qur’an for the man and dictated to him the Verses of the Suras (in their proper order) .

How does this translate to veganism? Well, when you become vegan, the rules are “but don’t eat meat, milk, or eggs.” Easy enough, right? But then it becomes, “don’t eat honey, buy fur, or buy wool or down.” So you replace your winter clothes and then you realize you cannot eat most sugar or things with sugar. And then you realize that your shampoo and makeup might not be vegan. The next thing you know, half of the stuff in your life is made from some sort of animal corpse- including PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS, and you’re going crazy trying to get it out of your life and your airspace.  Which brings me to my next point…

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2. Don’t make haram that which is halal: This means, don’t make illegal that which is legal. For me, this is the palm oil issue. In the Qur’an, verse 5:87 it states ” Believers! Do not hold as unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful to you, and do not exceed the bounds of right. Allah does not love those who transgress the bounds of right.”

Palm products are vegan. Palm is a plant. But the problem with palm is the industrial practice of burning down habitats that are wiping out many species, especially orangutans. If you can, you should avoid palm products. But if you find it challenging, it is better to avoid meat, milk, and egg products and focus on those areas, because animals are directly murdered for their production and they have direct negative effects on your health. I liked this article on palm and moving towards solutions to replace the cruelty of the industry.

mac3. And finally, “If you’re going to do something, do it well.”: In Sahih Muslim, hadith #17, it’s narrated (on perfection)

On the authority of Abu Ya’la Shaddad bin Aws (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.
Try to ignore the killing reference and focus on the message. As trivial as it sounds, if your mac and cheese is gross, continue to find something better. Because if your mac and cheese sucks and you can’t navigate social situations, and you can’t find vegan shampoo, you’re likely to FAIL. You will feel like your life is terrible and you’ll want to go back to the way you were living. Find out your breaking points. My breaking points were eggs and sandwiches. My solution was Happy Herbivore deviled egg potatoes and a sandwich called a California (sun dried tomatoes, avocado, and balsamic on toast).
There are many principles of Islam that help me in my daily living as a vegan, but these were the ones that resonated most in my times of difficulty. I hope this post has enlightened some misconceptions about Islam while helping others reach their vegan goals.

A tiny house tour and new things brewing….

Our Waldorf nature tableaux sits in the center of a bookshelf at the end of our hallway.

Our Waldorf nature tableaux sits in the center of a bookshelf at the end of our hallway.

We moved to the country after having our new baby. We were in a 1280sqft town home with 3 bedrooms, one and a half bath, and a full basement, and we downsized to 800sqft, 2 bedrooms, one level, and one bathroom.

What possessed us to downsize AFTER having a baby?

It’s simple really. Less cleaning, less bills, less stuff to organize, less errands from shopping, and MORE company and help. My gram and mom live next door which is ultra convenient when my baby won’t let me put her down and I’m trying to cook.

But I don’t want this post to be about size. This post is about living with less.

See, apart from moving to the country, a lot has changed. I have far less time, like so many of my readers. I also have far more aches and pains. I am, after all, disabled, and some days, it’s very hard for me to maintain the household. This has caused us to make some very difficult choices.

Cloth diapering had to go. I realize this is shocking, but what happened is that the math didn’t add up. Not only is it a myth that cloth diapers are more economical, it’s also a myth that they’re more environmentally friendly. New, most cloth diapers cost about $12-26 each. Even if you’re able to use them for subsequent children, unless you have a large stash, you will usually end up buying at least some new diapers. The nature of cloth diapers is that they require stretch and absorbancy, which are things that don’t stand the test of time well. Add to that the cost of washing at least every other day, and perhaps even drying in a dryer, and you’ve added $20 to your electric bill every month if you’re lucky- also organic laundry soap or the ingredients to make it. We went through about 5 gallons every two months. Then of course there’s the materials- most cloth diapers have some synthetic component. MOST people do not use cotton or bamboo inserts with wool diaper covers. I mean, it’s definitely possible, but most people just don’t do it. Now, was I going to make or buy used a bunch of cloth or bamboo diapers and wool covers, make organic laundry soap, and run up my electric bill? The answer is no. I’ll take the $100 a month in biodegradable diapers under the chin and spend more time with my children. Maybe that’s selfish or environmentally irresponsible- but the way I see it, is that I’m actually saving environmental resources. (and my sanity)

I’m still breastfeeding, but baby is adding in some solids for fun, and the likelihood that I will be pureeing food will be slim. This is especially true because I don’t eat crap and I can just hand my baby food out of my own plate.

I also stopped canning so much. Our meals have gotten substantially simpler, meal planning has become for every couple of days, and we’re just eating more fresh food. Canned food doesn’t have optimal nutrition, and it takes up a lot of time and storage space. I don’t have either right now.

That also means I won’t be baking bread. It’s fun to make a loaf every now and again, but I gave up baking our daily bread because it too costs more to bake than to buy. Why spend more time and money on something when you can get something equally palatable and healthy at the store?

I switched to commercial products too. Once I stopped using fels naptha in my soap due to the endocrine disruptors, the cost of my homemade soap became such that it was more economical to buy organic soap to do my laundry. That also means I don’t have to dedicate more time to soap making, or space for supplies. I’m still making my own toothpaste because it works better, but I buy my shampoo and lotion now. Not only is that cheaper as well, but my autoimmune conditions are making me increasingly sensitive to herbal products and I have to use hypoallergenic chemical based products. That’s right- I had to choose between suffering and decreasing my health by using herbal products, or suffering less and depleting my health using chemical products. Talk about difficult decisions. Don’t get me wrong- I haven’t given up, and I’ll talk more about that at length later.

Because of this, Katesapartmentsteading will be more focused on natural living, natural parenting, Waldorf education, minimalism/tiny house living, healthy homemade meals, and crafting. I’ll still keep my homesteading archives, and if anyone has any feedback on what they’d like to see more of, I’m always open to suggestions and LOVE reader feedback.

So let’s take a look at our new space.

kitchen1This is our kitchen and dining space. My partner is currently working on switching to a gluten free diet, so we still have doubles of a few things to prevent cross contamination. I also keep pork-free dishes due to my religious beliefs. When I first moved here, we kept two separate kitchen spaces and shared a stove and sink, but this way is much easier. We’ve got a lovely gas stove and a double sized farm sink. I have tried tirelessly to not stick so much to our refrigerator, but it occurred to me that I like it covered in crap. It feels homey.

kitchen2kitchen3Why do we have non-matching candle sticks? Because we have jam toast, warm cinnamon milk, and candle light for bedtime. Bee covered candlesticks are only the beginning of the evidence that children live here.

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livingroom4To the right of our sink is a small entryway into our livingroom, which is where the main entrance is. We have maintained our “family couch” aka the large flat futon mattress, but since my son has been struggling with allergies and we have hardwood floors now, we’ve wrapped it like we would a mattress with an allergen cover, and put it up off the floor on a futon. My son went from having life-threatening asthma to not even needing medication due to the hardwood floors and our ability to clean for dust. Behind this hutch here is our rabbit’s cage, but he’s free-roaming and house broken, so as long as we’re awake and home, he isn’t really in there. Ironically, we haven’t had the destruction that most people experience with house rabbits, but we also don’t have stuff everywhere for him to destroy. To the left of this photo you’ll see our daily rhythm charts, a tool used in Waldorf education.

livingroom3livingroom1This is our homeschool hutch and home office. YES, ALL of it fits in there! This is our storage closet where we keep holiday decorations, extra clothing for the next size up for the kids, and our outdoor gear. The drawing board is behind the rabbit’s cage to protect him from the outlet.

livingroom2Oh yes, we not only own a television, we own a Playstation! Daddy is a fun guy and occasionally mommy likes to watch Netflix. You’ll see this chair in a variety of photos from our home because the little man likes to plunk beside me when I’m doing handwork, blogging, or in his own space to read.

hallway1Out of the livingroom and off of the kitchen is our hallway, and this closet holds our washer and dryer.

bathroom2The first door to our left is the bathroom, and we have a shower stall so the baby has her own tubby that we set down inside it and shower her with a detachable shower head. The little man takes showers. Space is limited, but I’m not a real powder puff, so our bathroom isn’t loaded with stuff. Our commode is behind the shower stall, and there are a couple shelves there where we keep personal supplies.

bathroom4Daddy likes big fluffy towels, but we prefer turkish towels because they’re easier to wrap up in. We’re still in the process of problem solving how to store all of our bins of things, which are mostly things like washcloths, cleaning towels (rags we use for the CONSTANT water cleanup from little people bathing), baby and kid supplies like lotions and impossibly small wash cloths and booger suckers…. I was thinking of one of those fancy Ikea carts.

10410281_10206025385326700_4822792323222301978_nBehold our children’s bedroom. They share a room. It has changed a little since this photo, but not much. We don’t have room for Waldorf play stands but this overhang created the perfect place to hang our rainbow cloth.

11390351_10206025384846688_1470324669515938413_n11403315_10206025384606682_919284229495494823_nThe double closet is to the right of the cradle.

11401006_10206025385606707_2649406412846815194_n11406539_10206025385086694_427093514202998389_nDirectly across the hall, we have the master bedroom.

bedroom2True confessions here- the baby almost NEVER sleeps in her cradle, and that is why this is here. We put the cradle in her room for her to have nap space in, but she’s not stupid, and she knows that sleep happens in the adult bedroom, and therefore it makes no sense for her to sleep in a different location during the day.

bedroom6Sometimes sharing a bedroom space with a guy is complicated. I got lucky because the way Daddy likes his space is with his personal things as decoration, and though it’s not how *I* would decorate, I actually LIKE it because it’s like an extension of him. I look up when I wake up in the morning, and it’s like Daddy isn’t gone to work.

bedroom3If I had to choose a picture to sum up our odd partnership, it would be this one. Daddy is from the city and likes black stuff and hip hop. Mommy is from the country and likes blue grass. And that mirror behind the vanity? I haven’t had the heart to move it because it was put there for my late Aunt Ellen who used to live here.

bedroom5bedroom7And now you know my vice LOL sweets and vintage ShortCake dollies. There’s no shortage of storage in this bedroom and we definitely have plenty of space.

That completes this tour. Hopefully the weather clears up and there can be some photos of our gigantic fenced in back yard and our lovely little deck!

Our first Halloween as Ex-Muslims

pumpkins 2014

If you follow this blog, you may have realized at some point that I was Muslim until this July. We had a family meeting and decided it wasn’t for us, so my children and I set out on an adventure to live life and investigate our spirituality outside of religion. It’s been awesome.

I’m going to put myself out here…I don’t know how to do the majority of American holidays even though I’m an American. Muslims are not allowed to participate in any extent. I had to rely on extremely early childhood memories with my mom and Google. Maybe a little Pinterest.

Long story short, I think I might have made some stuff up. You’re probably really surprised (sarcasm). But let me tell you, not nearly as surprised as I was when my uncarved pumpkin got stolen. See those pumpkins up there? I got THAT right! I may or may not have put that BFA to good use (and if you want to get good at pumpkin carving, why not get your own BFA for a mere 50k? lame.) My advanced technique came from years of gutting pumpkins for their seeds and to cook their flesh down to freeze.

pumpkin seeds 2014

Now, ok, pumpkin carving was simple enough. But there is no single teal pumpkin project that could have solved the needs of my trick or treating family. My daughter can’t have dairy, and my son can’t have nuts, gluten, or dairy. Wow, right? Nope. Because my kids don’t know that OTHER kids bring home pillow cases full of candy, and were perfectly happy to fork over a handful of things they couldn’t have in exchange for these treat bags. I tried to keep it minimalist and buy a few consumables, but also some quality little presents that wouldn’t be broken in a few days. We ended up going trick or treating at the local mall because I didn’t want my kids bringing home too much candy AND because the thought of groping around in the dark in a town we’ve only lived in for 9mos seemed exceedingly unsafe.

treat bags halloween 2014

All I did was make some hemmed sacks and tied some ribbon.

And I took the leftover fabric to make these bean bags full of rice to replace the metal trains they throw at eachother for “fun”.

bean bags 2014

carmen treat bag 2014This one was for my daughter who is in 6th grade, and the one below is for my son who is in preschool.

abe treat bag 2014

I also tried a new tradition of making caramel apples, since the kind at the store aren’t dairy free. My son wouldn’t eat them because of his sensory issues, but my daughter had one and really liked it. I think they were better than crack and at the remaining FIVE. That’s right. The recipe came from one of my favorite blogs, Nourishing Minimalism, and I cheated a bit and used my hands to mold the caramel on a little better.

apples halloween 2014

Last but not least, we made our costumes as much as we could. I went a little wild at our local box store and got the accessories, but each child was allowed to pick what they wanted to be. My oldest wanted to be an ANGEL KITTY and my son? A FAIRY. Yup. A fairy. Good Lord, was I EVER prepared for the rash of gender grooming homophobic idiocy to proceed my sheepish announcement to inquiring minds, but you know what? Not a single damn word. Is it my ever growing gray hair and permanent growl, or is it that maybe the world is becoming more progressive? I don’t know, don’t care, but here it is:

cj halloween 2014

Carmen made this costume from a leopard tunic she owned, and brown leggins, and I bought a pack of kitty accessories and angel accessories. I used hypoallergenic face pencils and spritzed her all over with spray glitter.

abe halloween 2014Yes, and the caption to that one is “Argh! I’m a FAIRY!” Abe’s costume was a little more straight forward. Black wings, and a glowstick wand. I bought a shirt that was 2 sizes too big to make it like a tunic, and cut the sleeves off, causing them to be belled. I also hit it with spray glitter. The belt is just felt with leaves sewn on and some velcro to keep it closed. He wore knit pants underneath, and let me write a little on his face.

Gotta love these kids. And that’s a wrap- that’s how we navigated Halloween. Next up….Christmas! (phew, this one will be complicated….)

2013 Gift Roundup

black friday(source)

Are you going to Black Friday this year? Oh yes- I’ve turned it into a verb. Black Friday-ing- the flock of the masses to camp out and pillage box stores and chain businesses the day after we all express our gratitude for what we have. Not only is going out on Black Friday dangerous, but it encourages consumerism. Consumerism itself is not necessarily evil, but the planet is overrun with plastic and garbage. I think this idea is spreading after I recently found this article on Apartment Therapy’s website on why one person is only going to buy used toys this year. I’m also reminded of this video on the Story of Stuff. And lastly, if you’re looking for inspiration, consider cracking open a few essays by The Minimalists, or reading their books.

A little too heady? That’s ok, try these tips before you shop:

Can you make it?

Can you buy it used?

Can you give the gift of experience?

Is it upcycled?

Is it useful?

Is it made or sold locally?

Is it made of sustainable materials?

How is it packaged?

Need some ideas? Well, without further adieu, here is my master list!

For children:

a bento box

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peg dolls/miniatures/dollhouse furniture

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nature table/watercolor or waldorf prints (I recommend Stockmar)

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play silks

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carved figures

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natural objects and baskets

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felted animals (or cupcakes) (see also this post)

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quality books

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wooden cars/trucks/green toys trucks

cabbage patch doll with clementine box bed

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wallet

wallet

crayon carrier

finished

car carrier

car cozy 2

art journal/scrapbooking supplies/nature notebook

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natural board games

hairclip holder

finished

dolly sleepover

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waldorf doll

American Girl doll accessories

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A gem treasure chest

treasure

mittens and handmade clothing (knit or crotchet)

And here is my master list of recommended Waldorf toys not mentioned about and links

felt fruit

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stable

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For adults:

camisoles

reusable shopping bags

eco-friendly-grocery-bags

cuppow

Cuppow.com

Cuppow.com

book on minimalism (or Kindle gift certificate- or a Kindle!)

percolator/organic coffee

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homemade yogurt/bread/pickles/jam

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potholders/towels

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seed bombs

repurposed jars

laundry soap or laundry kit

The Walmart Laundry Aisle

drying rack

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homemade personal care products-soap, lotion, etc.

This is the soap ball I keep in my kitchen. Soap balls are made from scraps from making soap, and are harsher than regular soap, which is perfect for greasy kitchen hands.

This is the soap ball I keep in my kitchen. Soap balls are made from scraps from making soap, and are harsher than regular soap, which is perfect for greasy kitchen hands.

documentaries/books

Herbal_Medicine_Makers_Handbook-A_Home_Manual

skirts/hijab

homeopathic remedies

cookbooks

luna pads

step1

kitchen witch

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apron

yellow apron

quilt

green quilt

cast iron cookware

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a handwasher (I recommend Laundry Pod)

pod2

a dehydrator

cranberries

pressure canner

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herbal tea and a diffuser

Netti

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bike or bike accessories (pump, basket, etc.)

vegan accessories like jewelry, shoes, purse, wallet, belt, etc.

greenpurse outside

baskets

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organic cotton or second hand clothing

hand thrown pottery

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Beeswax candles...in homemade candle holders

Beeswax candles…in homemade candle holders

CSA

composter

water purifier/water bottle/reusable mug/reusable takeout containers

yoga accessories

magazine subscriptions

camping accessories