Friday, December 27, 2013

Exposure

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Exposure is a POWERFUL thing. It can cause dissatisfaction, greed, misery, materialism, divorce, corruption, and great haraam. However, handled with care and forethought, exposure is the key to positive outcomes, halal pursuits, and pleasure in the most simple things.

Part of the reason children like the things they do is simply due to exposure. If they are exposed to TV, music, video games, amusement parks, and shopping as forms of recreation, then they will be the things they choose from, along with the things they have seen through those media. You will find them constantly wanting the things they have seen advertised or in the shop windows. You will find them often inactive and considering Wii a viable form of sports.Rather than sit and talk face to face, they will communicate via the latest app, be it Whatsapp, Instagram or the ever present Facebook. Bad exposure results in parents hearing those awful words from their children, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do," because they always require entertainment from an external source.

However, when you expose your children to nature, playing in the park, making things out of mud, cooking, crafts, knitting, sewing, building things, growing things, physical activities and games, pretend role playing, and reading to learn about real people, places, and situations, you will find them choosing from those things as forms of recreation.The larger their repertoire of skills, abilities, intellectual and physical outlets, the more healthy, balanced, and competent they will be. Good exposure results in parents finding that their children are never bored; rather they don't have time to do all the different things they'd like to do.

When we were preparing for a trip to Makkah to meet up with my oldest friend and her family, my 7 and 10 year old daughters got out their knitting book and knitted a handbag and a phone cover for her youngest daughter - my namesake - Mai. They also knitted a purse for her older sister. We made them gifts of homemade coco-mint lip balm and honey and orange body bars. I baked them brownies. They don't think about having money to buy gifts for others, they think about what they can make - a gift made with love and thought and real effort on their part, maashaa Allah.

Exposure is something that can be done on a larger scale when socializing with other families, too. We went to the park and had knitting lessons. We had a monthly girls gathering where we cooked something healthy and delicious. We crafted rag rugs. We had theme nights where everyone dressed "prairie" and we cooked prairie food and learned about life back then for the pioneers.

I talk about my eating philosophy with friends and acquaintances, but it is never simply that. I feed them. I show them that you can eat halaal, tayyibaat, truly healthy and nutritious food that tastes wonderful, without compromise. I expose them to foods that are simple to make, so if they say they love them, I can give them the recipe and they can make it themselves easily with few ingredients.

Exposure is also da'wah. In sharing my thoughts and struggles publicly, I expose others to a positive approach to life's tests. I can expose them to better knowledge and understanding of Allah and His Perfection,  and how that can be applied in real-life situations, bi idhn Illah ta'ala.

So, consider the power of exposure, and seek not only to expose others to good and positive things, but also to ensure that you are being exposed to beneficial things... for this life and your ultimate success in the aakhirah inshaa Allah.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oatmeal Skin Scrub....

Bism Illah.

A dear friend made some orange, almond, and oatmeal skin scrub while house sitting for us one summer, maashaa Allah. The recipe is below.

Orange peels, Almonds & Oatmeal scrub

A fresh smelling and skin rejuvenating scrub
What do you need:
  • 1 cup dried Orange peels
  • 1 cup Oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoon finely ground Almonds
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Orange essential oil

How to do it:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix them well Take some of this mix in your hand and add some warm water to make a paste
Rub it onto your clean skin and gently massage to exfoliate in circular motions. Then wash it off with alternately cold and warm water and end with a splash of cold; pat your skin dry with a clean towel. 

[http://www.natural-homeremedies-for-life.com/oatmeal-scrub.html]

That scrub is very soothing and moisturizing for the skin, but I found a few other uses for it.

As it is simply ground orange peel, oatmeal, and almonds - all perfectly good food - I threw some into muffins one morning. When asked what kind of muffins they were, I said, "Face scrub muffins." That really turned heads, LOL.A few months later I was on a soda bread making binge and thought to myself, "Oooh, an orange, almond, and oat soda bread might be lovely with a bit of butter and cream!" So out came the face scrub again...and as the children were tasting the fragrant, warm soda bread they asked, "What did you put in this soda bread, Mummy?" to which I answered, "Face scrub!"


Well, it just so happens that their father was not present on these occasions. However, this morning when I had the idea to make some orange spice oatmeal for breakfast, hubby ventured to try some and looked rather discomfited when I told him that I used face scrub to flavor it.

That's the beauty of natural living; you can eat your beauty products! That's why I didn't panic when my then 9 month old baby bit into the honey and orange lotion bars I recently made...
 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Few Healing Strategies for Children

Bism Illah

We advocate children being educated so they can take an active and leading role in their personal healing - spiritually, mentally, and physically. To that end, I have posted about parenting audits, the daily account, the parenting hotline, strategies for anger management, self control, and repentance, to name a few. However, two things came up in the past month that are valuable healing strategies for children.

My 10 year old daughter suggested one afternoon that they make up a list of their faults or deficiencies that were displeasing to Allah and work on correcting three of them each month.Their lists were varying lengths and, as parents, we might have added and deleted a couple of things, but we stayed quiet. A simple mention at the end of each month for them to review their list and see if it needs any adjustments may eventually cover anything missed inshaa Allah. As we are nearing the end of this month, the girls were discussing their progress and my daughter said, "I can't wipe all three off my list - I only managed to correct one of the things." However, that is most certainly a step in the right direction and most importantly they are aware and taking control of their self-improvement, maashaa Allah.

Another healing strategy came through Umm Mujaahid's Guide at the Crossroads class for sisters. She had a competition where sisters were to write an essay stating the specific struggles they were facing in their life situation, research what the Qur'aan, Sunnah, and ijmaa said about those struggles, and put forth possible solutions. My daughters jumped up in excitement at this and immediately said they wanted to write an essay. It had nothing to do with the competition, but simply completing such a positive exercise and sharing a part of themselves with my closest sister of the heart, maashaa Allah.

Both of these have proven to be excellent strategies that empower them to find ways to heal themselves, maashaa Allah. In addition, we presented a list of questions to the girls (it was really for the older one, but all of them wanted to answer, LOL) regarding marriage. This was the first in a series we plan to present that will foster thought and introspection on their part about major issues in their lives and also give us insight into their individual minds and situations, inshaa Allah.

We also have plans to make a set of cards, each with a specific parental challenge regarding raising, educating, and correcting children. They will pick a card at random and write out their suggested strategies or solutions to those challenges. Often, looking at a situation from the parent's perspective can foster far better understanding, cooperation, and communication - and truly all success lies with Allah!

The Parenting "Nothing"

Bism Illah

Our children will, at times, raise very pertinent points that bring about thought and rectitude for us as paremts. One such instance was when my daughter said that sarcasm sounded like lying, because you say something that is a lie, meaning the opposite. Very astute, maashaa Allah, and a good reminder for many of us who come from cultural backgrounds where sarcasm is a norm. Children can help us realize that we are still hanging on to habits that have no place in Islam,

Another thing, even more common I believe, is the parenting "nothing." You know, when you are clearly upset, disturbed, or not yourself and they ask what's wrong and you say, "Nothing." Well, yet again, my daughter said that if we ask what's wrong and they say, "Nothing," we tell them off for lying. However, we do the same thing. I gave this some thought and realized this was one of those doors that had opened to improve me, to heal a sickness I had not been aware of. That said, there are many things that we, as parents or as adults in authority, don't want or need to share with our children. They may be inappropriate, untimely, above their level, or simply nothing to do with them. To remedy this, I have changed my response to something more specific. I say, "Nothing that I can share with you right now," or, "Nothing that should concern you,." or even, "Nothing that I want to (or will) talk about because I don't want to speak out of anger." Not only are these answers more complete, they are honest. In addition, they can be used as a platform to model when it is good to remain silent.

While there are some behaviors and actions that must be addressed immediately, often we learn the hard way that it is best to wait until the initial "knee-jerk" reaction time passes and become calm and clear headed before responding. We have practiced this many times and in controlling our immediate reactions, we manage to save ourselves the regret of perhaps speaking or acting out of anger. It also gives us time to formulate a approach or response that will be more effective and bring about positive change, inshaa Allah.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Purifying Planting

How does planting heal us and the earth? Planting is purifying.

Allah says in Surat-ul-'Abasa:

Then let mankind look at his food -
How We poured down water in torrents,
Then We broke open the earth, splitting [it with sprouts],
And caused to grow within it grain

It is Allah, alone, the Creator and Sustainer, Who causes things to grow. If we want our crops to grow, we need to ask Allah. In asking anything of Allah, we must make sure that we open the door to our du'a being accepted by purifying our intentions. We cannot ask of our Creator, while in a state of disobedience to Him. We cannot ask of our Creator for things that will harm us or displease Him. We cannot ask of our Creator for things while joining partners with Him - the All Knowing, the One Who has Power over all things. So in seeking sustenance and planting, we need to purify ourselves, heal the sicknesses inside us. We are pulled into a deep and true meaning of tawakkal (reliance on Allah for everything).

We plant -> we purify our intentions -> we ask Allah to grow the plants -> our du'a are accepted-> Allah grows our food -> provides us with plants for nourishment and healing illnesses -> provides life giving oxygen and purifies the air we breathe -> provides different balancing minerals and nutrients to the earth -> we thrive on it -> are able to worship Allah -> and purify our intentions....
It is a cycle of purifying perfection, al hamdul'Illahi Rabbil aal ameen!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Homeschooling

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.


 Al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi said:




صلاح خمسة في خمسة صلاح الصبي في المكتب وصلاح الفتى في العلم وصلاح الكهل في المسجد وصلاح المرأة في البيت وصلاح المؤذي في السجن

The rectitude of five lie in five: The rectitude of a child lies in the study-room. The rectitude of a youth lies in (seeking and acquiring) knowledge. The rectitude of the mature, middle-aged man lies in the masjid. The rectitude of a woman is in her house. And the rectitude of one who harms others is in the prison.

Al-Siyar of al-Dhahabi (13/441).

People often ask me about homeschooling, and what we do for general and Islamic studies.Our weekends here in Saudi Arabia are now on Friday and Saturday, so our school week starts on Sunday and goes through to Thursday. Our class consists of three girls: 13, 10, and 7 ... and a one-year-old baby boy, LOL.

General subjects of English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Health are done from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon each weekday, with a break from 9:50 - 10:10 a.m. While our 7-year-old is working through a curriculum we made up from various sources for a 5th grade level, our 10 and 13 year old are both in Keystone Online School. The elective subjects are manageable, so they don't have to do subjects that go against our Islamic principles. If the assignments present some conflict, then a simple note in the comment box about how they worked around it or seeking approval for an alternative approach from the teacher sets things right, maashaa Allah. An example would be my daughter's social studies assignment where she was meant to pretend she went back in a time machine to colonial South America and report on what life was like there. She wrote about it in a reporting fashion, did not mention anything about a time machine or fictitious elements, and typed in the comment box that she could not tell lies, so had tried to show that of the subject was complete while excluding anything that would entail lying. Al hamdul'Illah, the teacher was fine with it and she got full marks.There are reading lists for each grade, and maashaa Allah, there are books on the list that are auto-biographies, biographies, and many based on true events. We actually found excellent books on the lists that we would like our children to read, maashaa Allah.

There is a break from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for salaat-udh-dhuhr and lunch, then Islamic studies from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. Twice a week, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. they have a gym class with "Daddy."

This is how our Islamic studies curriculum looks this year.


Sunday: Reading from My Advice to the Women byUmm Abdillaah al-Waadi'iyyah with discussion and supplementary materials, Qur'aan.

Monday:   40 Hadeeth Quiz on the hadeeth learned the previous week, Al Waajibaat lesson, online Arabic and Qur'aan lesson


Tuesday: Tajweed with homework assignment, Qur'aan


Wednesday: 40 Hadeeth, learning new hadeeth in Arabic and English with audio explanation and it's written explanation, Qur'aan

Thursday: Biography of a scholar lessons with essay test for each, online Arabic and Qur'aan lesson.

Our children must know their Creator, Allah, and understand everything in the context of it being His Creation and His Will. They will find healing in the knowledge they gain and an ever deepening love and awe for Allah and this perfect religion through their focused and specialized education, inshaa Allah.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Household Progress

Bism Illah.

On our return to Saudi Arabia, things didn't just go back to the "normal" life we lived prior to our summer of sustainability on Healing Earth. We brought one of our washboards back with us and a plunger-style breathable clothes washer. Just as we established over the summer, we still do our laundry by hand here. Not only that, but the girls continue to do their own laundry - the 7 and 10 year old as a team. They take pride in showing me how good their socks look once they've done their washboard scrubbing!

Knowing that we will not be able to grow rice, we have made more adjustments to our diet to incorporate grains that we will be able to grow and more potatoes. This is really a health boon, because super-foods like quinoa are easy to grow and yet expensive to buy. We have eliminated the need for crystalline sugar (albeit organic) in our baking and cooking, with great success. We have also transitioned deliciously to using all wholewheat flour - whether hard red, hard white, or soft white - for our baking.

As for making our own, I am now whipping up all the things the hubby was missing - the crunchy stuff and the yummy treats. We have mastered honey graham crackers, organic wholewheat cheese-its, hard pretzels, homemade "Grape Nuts" type cereal and granola, pop tarts, soft pretzels, bagels, our own pasta and noodles, and even our own chocolates (imagine being able to eat homemade Bounty/Mounds/Almond Joy and call it medicinal health food! Whee!

We have found Azure Standard, an organic food co-op, that could provide us with a year's worth of organic wheat or flour (600 lbs) for around $220. Buying bulk from them for the things we cannot grow or won't have during the first year or two, will at least half our food bills. It could even provide organic foods and produce for resale in our farm stand.

We have started making our own all-purpose healing salve, lip balms, lotion bars, and hair pomades to add to our homemade staples of shampoo, deodorant, tooth oil, laundry soap, and household cleaners. No more plastic and foam sponges for cleaning, we now use cotton dish cloths (we can knit them), loofahs for soft scrubbing, and stainless steel for pots and pans.

The lifestyle we live is becoming closer and closer to the lifestyle we wish to live, and that is a great feeling, alhamdul'Illah.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Healing Earth Live

To see videos of the land before and after our summer, and some of the scenery, events, and wildlife you can go to our You Tube page: Healing Earth Ranch & Retreat. The 2012 tour and 2013 tour show before and after. Micro-irrigation shows the simple system put in place for the fruit trees and bushes. Scenery can be seen on Within 10 miles.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Our First Days

All thanks and praise are for Allah, our Creator and Sustainer. On Thursday 20 June, 2013, we finally made it to Healing Earth, our land in Roy, New Mexico. The trip from Kansas City, MO was smooth and uneventful, with speculations as we saw the landscape driving through Oklahoma and Northern New Mexico about whether our land would have any traces of green in the current drought. As we approached, we saw vast expanses of open fields, with rich green plants at the sides of the road from the rain run-off and covered with dry green/blue grass and a nice scattering of flowering cacti and other drought tolerant, flowering plants.

Many things have been done in the first week, with even more to do over the coming weeks. Category, by category, here is what we've covered.

Property Lines:
We have contacted the county surveyor to come and provide the specific boundaries for our land. We have provided him with a copy of the deed and drawing of the land, and he will be providing us with a quotation for his service and come one day next week. Once this is done, we can move forward with building our bathroom and shower stalls and composting unit. He came out on Tuesday July 2nd and informed us that Homestead Road is actually part of our property. It is a county road, and they have eminent domain over it, but it means that we had a visit from the Commisioner's office to inform us that a culvert for our entrance will be provided within a month.

Access:
There was no access to our land off the road. We accessed it through a gate on the land next to it. We called the County Hall to inform them we need an access gate off the county road, and just 5 days later, the following Tuesday, we had an appointment to address the issue. We now have permission to install a gate, and the county will put in a steel culvert at the gate entrance once the gate is completed. The cost of the gate: between $81 - $118, but there is a sale going on next week, so it should be a bit cheaper than that.We may also have to install gates at the bottom end of the 28 acre parcel and at the beginning of the 23 acre parcel. However, we learned from the County Surveyor that there is an allowance for a road between our two properties that the county will be responsible for. We will be checking to see if they plan to lay a road any time soon, in which case they will provide both high quality fencing and gates for both properties.

Water:
One of the thing foremost on the list of things to do this summer was to drill a well. We planned to drill one on each section of land, starting with the northern section this year. The cost per well would be anywhere between $3000 - $12000, depending on the depth they find water. There is, however, no guarantee that they will find water the first or even third try, and dry holes must also be paid for. To get a consultant to come and do siesmic testing to give relatively accurate data on where to drill, the approximate depth of the water, and the yield would cost at least $5000.

We then learned that at the water tower in Roy, we can buy water at the rate of $10 + tax which works out to $10.69 per 1,000 gallons. It would take approximately 90 years of buying water to equal the drilling of just one well, not taking into account any money wasted on drilling dry holes.

Regardless, we would need a storage tank for the water, so we purchased a 1,650 gallon water storage tank ($640) and also a 195 gallon tank ($300) that can fit on the back of our truck for filling and transporting water, that were delivered Wednesday 27 June. We plan to have one 1,650 gallon tank at the center of each housing complex for private and immediate access to water, and at least one other on the 23 acre plot for the retreat. In addition, we plan to get 55 gallon steel drums and perhaps 275 gallon tanks in cages to catch rainwater.

Composting Toilets (Humanure)
We purchased two privace shelter tents to be used as temporary toilet and shower facilities along with two Luggable Loos and a large galvanised steel tub. We got free cover material from the county, who cut down and chip up trees at the side of the road and the chippings are free for anyone who wants them. We got cedar chips, so our composting toilet smells amazing! There are various other sources of free cover, which we have found or have been informed of. We also got some free pallets and constructed the firct cubic meter composting unit. It is used to compost fruit and vegetable scraps, leftover bits of cooked food, paper,hair, nails, and cut up card board.

We purchased 100 3"x4.4"x8' landscape timbers and have started constructing a 4 unit bathroom and show stall structure. However, we ran out of the super long nails needed and won't be able to get more until Friday July 5th, after which it will be completed inshaa Allah. It is extremely heavy, so we will have to use the truck to raise the walls.

Land Contours
Originally we had planned to use the 23 acre plot for residences and homesteading with the 28 acre plot used for the Islamic retreat. However, after seeing the two pieces of land, we have swapped it around. The 28 acre plot has far more flat areas that are excellent for building on, and more suited to our needs for zones, food forests, animals, and accessibiity. There is a good slope going to the back part of the land, where there is privacy from the road. That will be our place to set up temporary housing, but permanent residences will be built up on the highest areas of the land for drainage, overlook, and practical  purposes.
The 23 acre plot has a large seasonal lake bed area that is currently filled with high dry grasses. The ground is much more uneven, all the land is highly visible from the road. and the variety of terrain will lend itself well to a campground and retreat cottages.

Plant life:
The area is covered with what looks like dry blue grass. After just three days of rain, fresh green grass is sprouting up everywhere. There are at least two types of flowering cacti scattered plentifully around as well as other wildflowers, plants, and grasses. There are a few squash plants (look like zuchinni) over on the 23 acre plot that might provide a little food this summer. We have planted 23 fruit trees to start a food forest. They are divided by a naturally formed gully which carries rainwater, that we plan to plant melons along and also berry bushes.
We are also harvesting seeds from all the fruit we eat, and have planted a dozen peach seeds. We will do the same for apples, pears, plums, and apricot.

There are many other things to share and we hope to post photos very soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 6, 2013

PDC Homework - Behavioral Strategies for Energy Usage

These are behavioral strategies we plan to use on our land/farm.

An overall focus on health and well-being, both personal and environmental, makes a huge impact on behavior and, consequently, energy usage. Our lifestyle is moving steadily towards one where the only generated electrical energy needed would be for Internet modem, phone, and computer use, recharging batteries for walkie talkies, a low energy fridge (using a chest freezer with an adapter plug to make it run at a far lower voltage as a fridge), back-up lights, and the odd power tool when needed for projects. We plan to utilize a 600 watt solar generator to handle these needs.

Use of light will be changed drastically, basing our working day around daylight timings. For the limited amount of lighting needed at night/in the dark, solar lights will be utilized using the sun's energy during the day to charge them for the night. Eventually, once bee keeping is established and we start having a supply of beeswax, we will make our own candles, providing a preferable, alternative, and natural source of light. Kitchen appliances will be replaced by a hand-crank blender, a hand operated basalt grinding stone for flour and dry grains (will last for generations, maintenance free), and a hand crank stainless steel beater. Cast iron pans and Dutch ovens, stainless steel pots, plates, bowls, cups, utensils and cutlery will all last for generations.

Water cooling will be managed by burying 55 gallon steel drums 3/4 deep into the earth with a steel hand pump  Showers are by hung 5 gallon steel buckets of heated water, with holes punched into the bottom and a lid to stop the flow when finished. Hot water will be either by a simple homemade solar heater or heated in pipes running under a compost heap. Laundry will be done manually, with a washboard and steel tub, soap nuts or homemade castille soap.

Cooking will be done on a rocket stove, in a cob oven, and underground in charcoal pits - minimal fuel required, long cooking times, no electrical or gas energy requirements.Heating of the house can be from the rocket stove, as cob can store the heat well.Cob house, storage, animal pens all mean no cooling and minimal heating with small amount of wood from trees grown on property. They also need nothing more than human energy to build

All materials are to be as natural, healthy, environmentally enriching (or at minimum, safe), high quality, and long lasting as possible.

Transportation mode will be dependent on distance. For local travel transportation will be walking, cycling, or horse (either ridden or with a carriage), with a pick-up truck (V6 for better fuel economy but still the ability to tow and haul) for longer distances and when picking large things up. We are a family that enjoys walking and cycling, so they are viable forms of transportation for us. Walking will be fine for distances of up to 5 miles each way. Cycling for distances reaching further afield, and horse and carriage up to 50 miles. Of course, we need to travel smart - get as much done in a trip as possible and prevent unnecessary trips back and forth or retracing our route due to disorganized planning.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013