Link Love: Serendipitous Geeking

I was feeling that it was serendipitous that at just about the same time I ran into the awesomeness that is Ami of Sputniksweetheart and a wiki page needing some attention. But then I remembered that I don’t believe in coincidence.

About 10 days ago, Brooke Benoit of Rolling Ruminations sent me an email introducing herself as an American writer who has an odd hobby of writing & submitting to Wikipedia entries. She asked for permission to submit one of my picture for a Wiki page, which is list of types of Sartorial Hijab. The list indexes styles of clothing found predominantly in Muslim societies. And she thinks it would be awesome if I provided an image for “Tudung“, not a traditional image but a look with a trendy twist….

AND! She is also in InTrend magazine this month!

To see more of the stylings and inspirings that is Ami go here to her Sputniksweetheart Conservative Chic Blog. She has become my non-guilty (and now no longer secret!) pleasure.

Here is Teh Truth: School And Why You Shouldn’t Use It

RSA Edge Lecture with creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Paradigms

There is nada in this video  for me to argue against and I had to learn all this stuffs without school. Well, other than the part about school being evilly boring-I learned that in school and thank God I had the something to escape it. I only wish I had a nice little follow up video for you that so cutely explains that you can do it without school yes you can, and that emphasizes that school ain’t what is gonna get it for you. I mean subhanAllah, you think school is what got it for George W. Bush? He worked his tooshie off and got to be president? You are very dumb if you believe that.   :(reminder, I don’t publish trollings at all, save the keystrokes and increasing your risk of corporal tunnel syndrome):

So here’s what he explains in this video:

  • The current state of schooling is an archaic process created during the industry revolution in order to educate the masses just enough to get some laborers who could like read instructions and to weed out (up?) the intellectual/smart people for–like–managerial and advertising. Don’t worry about the rich people, they already have theirs and will continue to take care of their own. The rest of us are screwed if we continue to use the current system.
  • How children are dumbed down through school. They start off smart and get their brain cells sucked out of them. He uses scientific studies and stuff to demonstrate this. They ruin our kids. You know this is true. You are either a brain-dead idiot or have spent some years undoing the shiz they did to you.
  • How the schools KNOW THEY SUCK and are NOT created to foster smart thinking–otherwise they would change. God, the real kicker here is that everything cited for being better for educating people (collaborative work, smaller groups, multi-age groups, etc.) is exactly what is done in homeschooling and is simultaneously used against homeschooling. Sorry, but you people are so grossly ignorant and I can only blame the schools so much, cuz ya know you’ve been out for a while. Deschool yourself for your own sake.
  • ADHD is real and really used advantageously against kids.
  • ART is important and DANGEROUS. All really, really smart–like Plato smart–people know that and that’s why they keep trying to take it away from you peasants.

Ok, again, sorry there isn’t a nice little “Yes You Can Educate Your Own and They Gonna Get Theirs Anyway, Cuz It’s Already Written” video to follow this up with.

Beyond the Kitchen: We Still Do Too Much.

I love a good book written by Muslim women. You know there are few and far between. And when it chronicles the lives and ambitions of other Muslim women, oh fabulousness! So, I recently read Beyond the Kitchen: Muslim Women on Balancing Life, Family and Work by Huda Khattab. And then I wrote a review of it for SISTERS Magazine. You have to buy the magazine to get the full review, of course, but the shorty is that–It’s good!! Actually, I was wondering why I would waste my time to write a review of a horrible book, but then I finished a baddish book and believe that it is, like, my duty to tell you about it! But this one gets two thumbs up–does it still count as two with just my own thumbs?

Among the book’s participants, I found many sisters carving paths similar to sisters whom I have known, and there are even a few high-profile Muslimahs whom I have heard of who shared their experiences. A would-be opera singer who converted her creative energy and skills into developing Muslim media is an especially interesting and inspiring account, though even the most seemingly typical occupations and endeavors demonstrate the complexities and possibilities open to working Muslim women. Academic in its methodology, Beyond the Kitchen is a thoughtfully revealing read.

Really, a totally worthy read–especially for converts trying to figure out how to do the work thing as a Muslim and great for parents of young sisters–help them get it right the first time, please.

And as I was reading through all the other thought-provoking and inspiring articles written by Muslim women for Muslim women, THIS completely caught my attention!!


Strips of chicken on a bed of noodles. Yummiolio!

And you can get the very straight-forward (for the gourmet fraidy cats!) recipe right off the site. Insha Allah I’ll let you know how my attempt works out.

Nurturing Creativity, Confidence and Trust in Children through Art


I see a rather menacing cat and some other things that are really best not mentioned to the artist because THAT is NOT what she sees.

Bismillah al Rahman al Raheem

This note is primarily for a friend of mine who is looking to start up a little “subversive” art program amongst the immigrant and 1st generation kids in her community. I think. Actually, I’m not too sure what she is doing and probably neither is she. But, it sounds good so far. Anyway. It also applies to anyone working with kids, so I’m sharing because I am so, so sweet like that.

Many, many years ago I had the privilege—like truly the privilege, because not everyone gets to do this kind of blessing filled work and learn from such dedicated, smart folks—to be an art class facilitator for extremely high risk kids. You know terms like “under privileged” and “at-risk” are really gross and I apologize for using them—I mean Allahualim what kind of “risks” these kids were vulnerable to. Fact is, many had homeless or formerly homeless parents, their parents were often addicted to various/multiple substances, they often had an incarcerated parent, were being raised by someone other than mom and/or dad, and some were affiliated in gangs. They were hard little kids and trust was a huge concern for the program. If we uber-privileged staff did any flippant little thing to hurt these kids or break their trust they wouldn’t continue to spend their free time coming around to us. And then where would they go? And of course, we would also have added to the heap of abuse already piled on these kids.


So the basic thing we/I did was set up some paint, paper and brushes at as many work-spots as the kids would fit without rubbing elbows at three or four large collapsible tables. On a rotating basis, one child was asked to come help set up while all the others waited in another room. Later another child helped rinse the brushes. This may all seem pretty obvious, but to some of us airy-fairy and/or permissive parenting-types we may overlook this crucial point. It is necessary that the environment be as stable as possible. If you have kids vying to get “more paint” or “better brushes “or whatever then you won’t ever get to the Real Work. Worse, if the kids feel like someone has been unfairly singled out for favoritism or discrimination—as they all experience daily outside the security of the room—then they won’t trust you and the Real Work will never happen.  So make simple, clear rules and follow them.

Rule Number One: Create a Criticism-free Zone.

No one is allowed to criticize anyone or anything. Be firm. This is The Golden Rule. There is no name calling and nobody says anything mean, hurtful, rude or unkind about anyone else’s work. Now, in this program we never, ever did little show and tells of the kids’ work, and I would strongly discourage that. You know at least one child will be emotionally destroyed with such an activity and it is just not worth whatever intention may be behind such an activity. At various fundraising events the kids’ work was displayed and maybe you could aim to do similar, but the children were not present at these sort of events. The fostering and protection of their confidence is the primary work and always comes first. When someone breaks this rule, you must continue to follow it. Whisper in the child’s ear, maybe enough for the offended to hear, but don’t make a big deal out of it, that they are breaking the rule and will need to leave if they continue. You may have to ask someone to leave once or twice. You may have to suspend someone from the program.  In working with high risk kids this was very rare, so don’t worry too much about it. Just do it.

Applying The Golden Rule:

Never criticize or praise the children’s work. I know, that latter part sounds bizarre and maybe you will find an appropriate time and place to praise the kids’ work, but be very, very careful. You don’t want another child to overhear that someone else’s work is “beautiful” or whatever and now you have broken a little heart who didn’t hear that about their own work. And really Mariam may not have been trying to create something “beautiful.” Maybe she was going for “scary” or “edgy” and now you have broken two hearts. I hope “edgy” made you laugh or at least snort, because you are going to need a good laugh as really you should be horrified right now and thinking about retreating into your cave. And that’s a good thing, be scared, tie up your camel and run with the wolves! (insert cheerleader emoticon) The thing is, too many of these well-meaning (hurts to type that) airy-fairy (refrain from swearing) people go into this kind of work seeking that feel-good high (you know the one) and they wreak havoc. They wreak havoc, that’s what you are working against, right?–with a smile. 😀

You are a Witness, an Observer

You want to “acknowledge [the] child’s work by describing it, rather than qualifying it by saying only that  it is ‘neat’, ‘wonderful’, or ‘good.” * You do this by making simple, straight-forward observations, such as:

I see a circle there.

I see you used red and blue and yellow.

I see some lines here.

Yeah, that simple. You want to avoid adjectives. See my “beautiful vs. edgy explanation.” It can be agonizing to have to do this after you have been trained to so flowery and endlessly describe a hue or a curve, but trust me, this is what you have to do.

And then, you ask the child if they want to tell you about their painting. Do not ever say “Can you.” Of course they can and will minimally think you are stupid for asking. And “will you” is too much of a power play. When they set up the widdle bwushes and whatnot just direct, be direct “now put” “pour a little more” and so on. But. When it comes to their work, ask politely. “Do you want to tell me about your painting.” And maybe they will trust you. If they do—don’t break it!!! This is where well-timed “Mmms” and “Oohs” go. That’s it. And of course be gracious and say something like “thank you for telling me about it.” But don’t be canned. Freaking out again? A well-placed hand on the shoulder says a lot too. You’ll do fiiiiine. Insha Allah.

*Ganked from Family Math for Young Children by folks at the Lawerence Hall of Science UC Berkeley

outlaw midwives zine vol 2

Cover collage of outlaw midwives vol 2 mama and baby cuddling and lots of beautiful smaller images of children, mamas and babies. And an abstract yoni.

Babies never quit being made, even during revolutions. So. Now is a good time to tell you all that outlaw midwives ii is out!!! And available to read for free online. And of course it is awesome, like the kind of awesome you search long and hard for.

Stepping out

Mai’a, Aaminah Al-Nakisbendi, Amy Gow, Patrice Nichole Byers, China

This is a conversation that occurred this summer on facebook between some incredible mamas and birthworkers telling stories, illuminating how racism, class, warfare, medical violence, exclusivity/ignorance of the natural birth community, nationality,and more play out in the way that people percieve themselves, their world, and childbearing. I am putting this here because I was so inspired by the level of discourse, the intersecting but unique points of views. some bad-ass mamas building with one another is a beautiful thing.

Verily, you will not find anything like this anywhere else. Enjoy and appreciate it here.

From There to Here: How We Got Into Unschooling

I’m starting to see some of the fruits of home-educating and it has been especially interesting to me that by using the unschooling method we are starting to see similar results as other unschoolers. Ok, I’m being cheeky, but it is absolutely true. Unschooling is a method.

See, I was first introduced to the idea of homeschooling when I was still in primary school. I kinda got a leg up on my autodidacticism by watching Donahue (and later Oprah) after school—right after Scooby Doo, of course. I always thought that was a little odd of kid-me, but have recently heard that extra smart engaged kids (ESK EEK) prefer the company of adults and since I was a latch-key kid from a pretty young age it reckons that I spent my time with the only adults available, Phil and O. And I am pretty sure that it was on Donahue (yes, I have unsuccessfully attempted to search the archives) where I first heard of homeschooling. I vaguely remember a family with I think three children, and I think they were adopted, one was African American-pretty sure not African this was the eighties you know—and maybe one or another was not the same background-looking of the parents. Anyway. They were homeschoolers and it was just so idealistic and fabulous-sounding to me.

I had recently entered the Gifted And Talented Education program (GATE and yes, this entire post is an elaborate rouse to brag. AND that name is just as horrible as the counter program for would-be-drop-outs, “SAVE”) anyway, I was sadly disappointed in the gifted program. I thought it would be like genius, mind-expanding stuff, but we basically just watched films (literally, celluloid f-i-l-m) and then did related experiments. Uh, yeah, I already did that kind of stuff at home—where I was free or what some would call unsupervised. So, I’m pretty sure that was the first homeschooling family I met and all I can very vaguely remember is that the kids had way cool hobbies and their parents encouraged their activities. Profound. Seriously.

There is another early, circa 1980s, unschooling family I am familiar with, but pretty sure I saw them somewhere as well as read a book about them. What stuck to me brainz was: boy and girl, played in the woods, made up games, played elaborately with their doll and animal collection, went on to become some kind of musical genius/prodigy/musicians or something. Then—I really am going somewhere with all this—then, at some point I read about an unschooling family and the mom was detailing some of the projects and activities of her kids. One thing that stuck in my brain was that her young son (11? 12?) did the electrical work on the home they had built from scratch. Not that I thought she was fronting, but it just seemed so exaggerated that someone so young would be doing something like that.

While I read/watched these accounts to learn how to do homeschooling and especially unschooling, there was often a little pessimistic voice babbling on at my internal ear (left ear no doubt). I had much trepidation about my own family’s future, but barreled forward anyway, continuing to educate myself, praying, seeking out support and implementing various methodologies.

Anyway. Prodigy #1 rewired our doorbell a couple of weeks ago. Masha Allah. This thing has been broke for—maybe—decades. I don’t know how long. But the twelve year old (actually, technically eleven at the time) designed a way to jimmy rig a doorbell and he did it and it works. And a HUGE relief has been removed from my shoulders. I mean, not only can neighborhood kids add us back into the ring and ditch prank fold, but AlhumdiAllah, the prayer, the educating myself, the determination have paid off and we are starting to see some fruit—or maybe these are the blossoms before the fruit—either way, these are especially exciting days!

Strange little improvised devise made of yarn (wool of course), paper, electric tape and really I don’t know what is inside, but I opened my bedroom door and woke the house with the alarm it set off. Pride and Annoyance, my newest badge of motherhood.
#3 has become an elaborate game designer using various scrapped and found materials. That foamy black thing is from our modem packaging. And please note the boy is not shy to play with pink, hearts and flowers. Actually the hearts are some kind of specialty explosives. And the little screw drivers are too cute, but I never made it to the level where you get to use those. 😦
I don’t know why I, the Queen Mother, never get to use THIS attack ship, but I hear a better one is in the works for me. #2 does a lot of designing on paper as well as 3D and has started doing computer animation for #1’s pc games. They are sooooo cool, masha Allah.