Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Healing Scents of Nature

Without repeating the same information that anyone can find on the Internet regarding the dangers of  artificial fragrances, we have eliminated such things from our home and lives maashaa Allah. This paragraph provides a brief summary of why.

"Synthetic musks, for instance -- widely used in perfumes, deodorants, and detergents -- have been linked to cancer. They can bioaccumulate, or store themselves in the body, and have been found in breast milk, which means that nursing infants ingest them. Research indicates that these musks don't biodegrade; they've been found polluting watersheds and the plants and animals that live there. Another worrisome class of chemicals, phthalates, are often used in fragrance because they allow the smell to last longer. They have been linked to changes in the reproductive and endocrine systems as well as in the liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands."
So for laundry we use ground soap nuts, which smell rather like pineapple, and grated Castille soap, which has only natural essential oil and plant extract fragrances. We wash with Castille soap, unscented or scented with essential oils. We make our own shampoo, boiling herbs suitable for our specific hair type, color, and condition, and using complimentary essential oils. We make all our own dishwashing liquid and household cleansers, using essentials oils of lemon, orange, or lime for grease-cutting properties and fresh scent. We also make our own toothpaste using essential oils.

Have you noticed a common ingredient in most of those things listed above? Yes, essential oils! So, when it came to finding a healthy and beneficial replacement for personal fragrances, we automatically started looking at natural essential oil blends. To start off, I ordered this set for hubby.

We have since seen this lovely set as well:

These blends were the perfect way to transition to natural scents without going through a lot of trial and error coming up with our own concoctions. The blends can be chosen on any given day or occasion for their therapeutic properties. For example, when hubby wants to feel energized, he puts on Energy and when he has a potentially stressful day ahead, he puts on Tranquility or Relax. Once these blends proved themselves to be a wonderful replacement for the synthetic fragrances, it gave me confidence to start making my own blends with similar base notes. I ordered a wider range of organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs and the Amber and Aphrodite oil blends for hubby for Eid.

Of course, in the long run, once we grow our own herbs, plants, and trees, we plan to distill our own essential oils, inshaa Allah. It is actually an easy process with fairly simple equipment maashaa Allah. In the meantime, we will make flower waters and infusions, inshaa Allah.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parenting: Communicative Problem Solving - Letters of Apology

As a follow-up to the last problem solving exercise, Exposure to Haraam, which elicited excellent responses maashaa Allah, we had a session the following day where letters of apology were written. The children wrote letters of apology to each person they felt they had negatively influenced or harmed in some way. It was also a time for parents to apologize for any failings or errors on their part.

This is not only a healing strategy, but also an expository one. It enables parents to see how each child understands the extent their actions affect others. For example, do they realize that disobeying parents or talking back is modelling haraam to their siblings? Do they realize that it isn't just necessary to apologize to their younger siblings if they modelled something wrong, but possibly to their older siblings. As disobedience and disrespect of parents is a major sin, they may also have to apologize to their parents.

Why else is this vitally important? Because they must have the correct ingredients for tawbah (repentance) to be accepted. There is no sincere and accepted repentance without regret for one's actions and trying to make amends to those one has hurt or oppressed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parenting: Communicative Problem Solving - Exposure to Haraam

This is the second in the series of parenting questions to bring about mutual understanding, opening lines of communication and critical thinking. The sequence of the questions was important, to ensure certain concepts were in place before the situation was presented for problem solving. This particular exercise is an excellent way to gauge your children's understanding of the key concepts of morality, the strong influence of shaytaan, the ripple effect, and aspects of love.

Parenting Question #2:

If you see haraam things like people smoking, drinking alcohol, dancing at mixed parties, naked men and women, pornography, etc. can you ever forget it?

Is it good or bad to see such things? Why?

If you learn to do haraam actions, is it easy or hard to stop? Why?

Would it be better if you never saw of learned haraam things? Why?

If you show someone else something haraam, or teach them to do something haraam, what are you doing to them? What will learning and doing those wrong things do for them? What will teaching those wrong things do for you?

Are you showing them you love them by doing that?

If your parents tell you to steal candy bars from Walmart while waiting in the checkout line, and they know it is haraam, are they loving you? Why?

Your children, Tahir, Tahirah, and Tahaarah play together a lot. Tahir shows his little sisters nearly naked people on the computer. Tahirah shows Tahir and Tahaarah how to sing and dance to street rap music and different curse words she's heard on the street. What will you do about this?


If the answer is too simplistic, like, "I will tell them off," then the extension will provoke a more realistic response.

Beyond telling them off, which isn't working, what can you do to correct their behavior? How can you get them to learn self-control and model good behaviors to each other?

Monday, March 10, 2014

What we're reading in March 2014

Here's what we are reading this month, a collection of books ranging from a stories based on true life, a biography, self-management and health, to essential farm knowledge, sound and checked books on Islaam in English, and creative arts books for children.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Parenting: Communicative Problem Solving - Small Scale Stealing

Parenting requires opening lines of communication and critical thinking, as well as preparing children for the time when they will marry and have children of their own, inshaa Allah. One strategy we use is to present our children with situations and ask them how they will deal with them. This is particularly useful if you have children who have problems with certain misbehavior and want to get them thinking about it from a different perspective. Sometimes you might find that your children suggest a solution you never thought of.

The first in the series of questions, and believe me some of them will be VERY tough, was about small scale stealing.

Parenting Question #1

Ishaaq and Ismaeel are your two sons. Ishaaq keeps stealing cookies, but Ismaeel doesn't. When it is time for a treat, you are planning to give them the cookies, but Ishaaq already stole three of the cookies. What do you do? How many cookies do you give Ishaaq and Ismaeel?

How do you stop Ishaaq from stealing cookies?

If you don't stop Ishaaq from stealing cookie, how do you stop him from teaching Ismaeel to steal cookies?

The extension is an additional line of questioning in case the responses are vague or unrealistic, for example, "I will teach them so they don't ever do those things."

You already taught the boys that stealing is wrong/a sin/haraam. They know it is wrong. How are you going to teach them that will stop them doing it anyway? What will you teach them, or do, so they don't steal?

All Around the Mulberry Bush about Deodorant

Years ago we eliminated anti-antiperspirant from our lives; it is both unnatural and unhealthy. However, deodorant still has an important role in our lives, especially as we are still currently living in Madinah, Saudi Arabia and it is boiling hot here. Over our summer at Healing Earth, while the temperatures were pretty moderate we worked hard, so still sought an effective deodorant. We bought natural, eco friendly, safe, and healthy deodorants - all with variable and limited efficacy.

To address the issue, I went online and made one of the paste deodorant recipes with baking soda, cornstarch, coconut oil and essential oils. I later added some ground crystal rock and it worked well. However, it never lasted for a whole day.  So back I went searching for ideas for an improved deodorant.  And what did I find? That I wasted my time and should have just remembered my old friend who was allergic to all deodorant. She used baking soda. I rubbed a little under my arms and never looked back.

Next, we put it to a real test. My husband and the rest of the family used it during Umrah. 100+ degrees fahrenheit, crammed in the tawwaf with a few hundred other people, dripping with sweat, we went around the Ka'abah at 11:00 a.m. under the blazing sun. Seven rounds and then seven trips between Safa and Marwa holding a baby, before a long walk back to the car. We went back to our apartment and I immediately stuck my nose into my husbands sweaty armpit (yep, that's love) and it didn't smell like anything. I mean NOTHING. Amazed, my husband set out to test it in all manner of situations and even after a long day in the heat and sun, he was odor free at night. Baking soda, cheap, natural, renewable, and extremely multifunctional...the best deodorant we have EVER used, maashaa Allah...and we can brush our teeth with it (another post is due on our natural dental care),  wash our hair with it, clean with it, use it for laundry, deodorize the fridge and shoes, and make soda bread, too!