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Back to school

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It’s actually been quite lovely to be back in Islamabad. I was grumbling inwardly during the flight and still miss my family in Singapore, but now that I am all settled in, I am quite alright really. There, I’ve said it.

Yes, we’ve had mountains of laundry from the trip and still more from the layers of warm clothes we go through each day… and yes, we’ve had runny noses and chilled toes, but seriously, we are blessed in ways we can’t enumerate, so we’ve more or less gone through our issues with winter with smiles.

Our shambolic living area was given a makeover in our absence. The Dad Man, Dadi and Anees pulled out all the stops and gave us a special kind of homecoming, ma shaa Allah. Mars and Bear have their room back, so they are happy campers. We miss the obstacle course of books and desks… Bibliomaniacs that we are, we’ll always crave the feeling of being surrounded by books. However, it was high time to admit that the Lightbulb Lab was taking over our place (like literally!). Alhamdulillah, the Dad Man had room in the office space he’s renting, so the books have a new home. We still have a large book case in our hallway and we visit the Lightbulb Lab often, so we still have books — just enough so our compulsion for a tome is satisfied, but just not that many that we feel like we can’t breathe! The glass room is still a work in progress, but the leaks have been plugged up and is decent enough that I no longer call it names or pretend it isn’t there ;) There is potential for craftiness there, in shaa Allah!

Is that hope and cheer you’re hearing from me? You bet!

We’ve been cramming lots homeschool-wise. We’ve HAD to after our last trip and in view of upcoming trips (in shaa Allah). I’ve gone back to ‘school’ too and am taking a few courses. It has been a humbling experience —I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so it has been a struggle. I’ve realised that it is all good though. I’ve been reminded of how little I know and how much harder I need to work. I’ve also been reminded of how tough it must be for my children and how I should be kinder to them.

I have a few resources to share, but Peep has been up to his shenanigans again. Last night, it was this:

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Never… NEVER… leave the boy alone with a box of tissues… Or in today’s case, a jar of ink.

I wish you happy sunshiney days!

Young Muslim Rhymes

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My young friends, Haadiyah and Aymum Sajid, are two creative homeschoolers who are just brimming with ideas. They are always working on one creative project or another, ma shaa Allah.

Haadiyah is 10 and Aymun is 8 and, together, they have produced a lovely book of poetry for the young ones. Young Muslim Rhymes teaches Islamic concepts like the importance of Niyyah, love for our Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the Hereafter and the need for a united Ummah. Each poem calls for action by linking its message to real life.

Haadiyah and Aymun lovingly laboured over many aspects of the book — there are vibrant illustrations and best of all, their engaging recitation on the audio CD. They’ve had some wonderful support from friends who helped them with the recording and layout and now, I hope that you too can show them some love.

To learn more about this book, please visit the YMR page at HomeWorks.

I’m giving away 5 copies of this book in shaa Allah. Please leave a comment with your email — it won’t be published — and in shaa Allah, I’ll get in touch with you.

Leaving on a jet plane…

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The madventurers are off to the sunny isle of Singapore! We encountered madding crowds, enraged aunties squabbling with army personnel and sick, lethargic children… And we hadn’t even boarded the plane yet!

It does seem like madness and mayhem are a mainstay with us, doesn’t it? ;) I must be getting mellow with age because I’ve realised that, other than my kids’ chaotic room, nothing really fazes me anymore!

We are looking forward to…

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Mutabbaq at Arab Street…

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Some crafting at Clay Cove…

… and most of all, my mum and my family and friends.

I hope you’re all having bright, bright, sunshiney days!

Bear’s Garden Series

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“All this is stale knowledge to older people, but one of the secrets of the educator is to present nothing as stale knowledge, but to put himself in the position of the child, and wonder and admire with him; for every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton.”
~ Charlotte Mason, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

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“An Observant Child should be put in the way of Things worth Observing.”
~ Charlotte Mason, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

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Mars’ Garden Series

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They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens.
~ Charlotte Mason, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

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Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends.
~ Charlotte Mason, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

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Chilly Days

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There is a definite chill in the air these days. We used to stumble bleary-eyed and half asleep to the bathroom to make wudhu for Fajr, but are starting to brace ourselves mentally every morning now, just so the cold floor doesn’t rudely shock us out of our stupor. It feels like we are rushing a great deal more, trying to do more… trying to finish all we can before sunset, which is eating into our days earlier than we are used to.

Winter in Islamabad is many things to me…

It is a time when we draw closer as a family. We try to conserve energy by turning on as few heaters as we possibly can and end up congregating in the same room for hours on end. We do our studies, work, crafts and reading huddled around the heater. Chores are rushed through so we can go back to the warmth. What ensues is often a great deal of clutter, but we bear with it because this is just how winter is in our small place.

It is steaming pots of tea. We have been sampling raspberry, blackcurrant, jasmine and Moroccan mint, but nothing beats good old fashioned chai. My mother-in-law makes the best Kashmiri (pink) tea — she would simmer the leaves for hours to get a thick deep purple brew which would turn a delightful shade of rose with milk. Delicately flavoured with cardamom and crushed pistachios, it is really class in a cup.

It is huddling under layers of quilts reading books together. We’ve read a huge assortment of chapter books in this snuggly way. Past winters’ notable reads include Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Children of the Famine trilogy, Stories of the of the Prophets and the Seerah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I think sometimes the girls learn more and best in this way — when we leave out the pencils and paper and simply reflect and discuss.

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It is delicious, hearty soups that are lovingly prepared. The girls love Lamya’s Soup, which takes a great deal of preparation but is totally worth the effort. As we enjoy the kitchen’s toasty comfort, we become more mindful about how blessed we really are. We realise that we can never thank Allah enough.

It is blissfully running out to the terrace for little picnics and play when the sun shines. The warm hours are short so we must act fast. My children love the novelty of studying and lunching outdoors. The crows that frequent the fig and jaman trees in our yard hover close, hoping that we will leave them some morsels. We do, but they only swoop down and take them when the air starts to bite and we return indoors to the warmth of our blankets and more of each other’s company.

Little Stitches

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I have amassed a mother lode of embroidery patterns and am missing the feel of needle, thread and calico between my fingers. Peep’s been quite the little rascal though, so I haven’t able to get back to stitching. The girls, on the other hand, have been quite productive, ma shaa Allah.

Mars went through a bit of a confidence crisis and was convinced that she would never amount to much in the crafty department. After much discussion, we agreed that creativity can be cultivated and that everyone has a bit of artistry in some form or another. We just need to be supremely patient and determined to hone the skills. With renewed enthusiasm, Mars has made a bigger effort to be more precise and exacting. Effort and creative process are just as important as the final product, so she is learning to find joy in the journey as well.

Mars made a quilted mug rug. She chose two of her favourite fabrics from our stash and hand-pieced them together before sandwiching the batting in between and hand-quilting the whole thing. She hopes to use the sewing machine the next time in shaa Allah for a neater finish, but I think this was a terrific effort ma shaa Allah. The mug rug has since been gifted to a a friend of hers — a mum new to homeschooling.

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Bear made a little heart-shaped cushion for an aunt who is expecting a baby girl. This was her first major project. She was so thrilled when she completed it. “I can’t believe I finished it!” She is so in love with it that she is almost tempted to keep it for herself ;)

Peep wants to play even though he has the sniffles; Bear is pressing me to draw a heart-shape for her cushion (“It will be bigger, in shaa Allah!”) and Mars seems to be hinting that she wants me to cook bhunna ghosht … I guess embroidery will have to wait…

Back! I think…

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It’s been ages, I know… but if you are a long-time reader of my sad and oft-neglected blog, then you would know the drill by now. I get inspired and carried by wave after wave of industry, which means the blog gets frequent and oh-so-pretty updates. Then, real life (in my case, mess and mayhem) catches up on me and smacks me upside the head which forces me into ‘hibernation’ somewhere.

I sometimes wish I could be the sort of person who could blog come hell or high water, but then I know that that really isn’t me. I’m not trying to gloss over my problems or pretend like I’m the exemplary homeschooling wonder mum who’s got her act totally together. Come on over to Islamabad and you will see it’s far from the truth.

It’s just my infuriating sense of formality and reserve that keeps me from sharing the nitty-gritties of my life. A friend of mine astutely observed that while I may be lively and chatty, I keep a large part of myself to myself. True… anyway, I just don’t like dwelling on the down side of things, not on this blog and not in real life. Alhamdulillah, there are plenty of silver linings that keep me going.

Like the seriously marvellous and bestest ever folks at Jintech who came to my blog’s rescue. My site was in dire need of an overhaul. What problems did it NOT have? Outdated WordPress, malware, security issues… you know the rest. I was ready to throw in the towel because, let’s just be honest here, I just don’t have enough grey matter to do the fix-up job myself. The super (yes, you!) Umm Ameenah and the awesome Hira took the whole insane load off me and alhamdulillah, my site is back again :) I have NEVER had such professional service before — the staff at Jintech are not only efficient, they are friendly and meticulous, ma shaa Allah.

Homeschooling has undergone a major overhaul this year. Little Peep has kept me busy, but no complaints — he’s a lovable little thing ma shaa Allah. The girls have been troupers too. Mars and Bear happily babysit him and study independently when days get rough. They’ve been crafty creatures — Peep won’t stay still long enough for me to hold a needle so I’ve been quite jealous of their creative pursuits. More on that later, but the pic above was taken by Mars, who has joined me and Bear in our love for photography. She was feeling quite left out and was sad about her pictures turning out blurred, but she persevered and is quite chuffed with the results.

So alhamdulillah, we are learning a lot.

I have a bazillion things to write about, but the little one is fussing and the girls are waiting for their story. In shaa Allah, I’ll get it all down. All in good time :)

Arabic Studies

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I have a painful memory from my younger days. My parents had returned from Hajj and had brought back the recording of the recitation of the Qur’an by Sheikh Abdul Rahman as-Sudais. I pounced on the tapes and rushed to the privacy of my bedroom to listen to them. I opened up my mushaf and tried my best to keep up with the recitation.

Within five minutes, I was in tears.

You see, I was not a proficient reader and I felt like someone struggling to keep her head above water. Worse, there was the nagging voice in my head that reminded me that not only could I not read the holy book properly, I could not even understand it. I felt horribly inept and I was ashamed that for all my academic pursuits, I was nothing more than an illiterate when it came to the deen.

That incident spurred me to try to improve my reading of the Quran and to increase my knowledge of Arabic. It is an ongoing struggle to say the least. When I had children, I vowed that I would strive to give them an early start so they would not feel the mortification and distress I had felt. I knew that I wanted them to have understanding of the deen and so my husband and I decided to make the language of the Qur’an a major part of their education.

*****

In the beginning, we encouraged Mars and Bear to recite the Qur’an regularly and to try to memorise as much as they could. We would read the explanation and translation as well. We would also teach them various words of remembrance. Alhamdulillah this helped them not only to become familiar with worship but also with the Arabic language.

We printed various Arabic printables from the internet and my husband also made it a point to read Arabic stories and comics to them. However, as Mars, the elder girl, came to be of compulsory school age in Singapore, it became clear that she needed a more rigorous curriculum. We considered various options once we were settled in Pakistan. There are many free complete syllabi available online and even paid online courses. However, we lacked the skills to impart the former and the financial means to take on the latter.

It was a blessing when we were able to enlist the help of the Arabic Language Institute in Islamabad. The principal, Brother Ubaid ur-Rahman, comes from an esteemed family of educators and he drew up a customised curriculum for Mars. Since she does not speak Urdu, she has a personal tutor, Sister Riffat, who can converse in English. The one-on-one instruction has been beneficial – it has enabled the tutor to build a wonderful rapport with Maryam and also hone in on her strengths and weaknesses.

Initially, lessons focused on vocabulary, numbers and grammar. Mars found the programme gruelling in the early stages – there was a great deal of homework to be completed each day. She had to write list upon list of new words and also spell out numbers in Arabic. There were also sentences that she had to construct and write out TWICE!

We felt anxious watching her work painstakingly through her assignments – her soft-hearted grandmother even wanted to have a stern word with her teacher! – but continued to encourage her to seek Allah’s help and to ask Him to put barakah in her time and effort. Alhamdulillah, after a couple of months, pain turned to pleasure when we witnessed her constructing her own sentences and writing more confidently. She was then encouraged to write creative short passages and to read conversations and short stories. She is presently studying dialogues and delving deeper into grammar.

Mars began to truly love her classes when Sister Riffat began teaching the translation and meaning of the Qur’an and Sheikh Ali An-Nadwi’s Qasas An-Nabiyeen. She had studied the stories of the prophets in English before, but she confessed that reading the stories and narrating them in Arabic gave her more satisfaction. I knew then that she was beginning to appreciate the beauty of the Arabic language, alhamdulillah, and I hope that her younger sister will taste the same sweetness when she begins classes, in shaa Allah.

Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said, “Using a language has a profound effect on one’s thinking, behavior and religious commitment. It also affects one’s resemblance to the early generations of this Ummah, the Shahaabah and the Taabi’een. Trying to emulate them refines one’s thinking, religious commitment and behavior.”

Let us strive to learn the language of our faith and make it the lingua franca of the Muslims.

This article was originally written for HomeWorks magazine.

Urgent help needed

I need to move my blog to a new host… I’ve encountered security and other issues with my present one and it’s come to a point where my patience has run thin.

This blog means a lot to me and it really pains me to see everything going wrong.

I already have a host lined up but need help with the following:

  • Transferring the domain to the new host
  • Updating my WP – I have not been able to install the past few updates due to my present host’s limitations
  • Moving the contents over to the new host

If you know of someone who can do the job well and whose rates are reasonable, please let me know.

Quickly!

Caine’s Arcade

I love this kid’s imagination and tenacity!

Notebooking – Prophet Nuh

Taking a few days off… both laptop and yours truly are ill …

Version A – download here or at Scribd

Version B – download here or at Scribd

Rocket…

He was just a wee little thing when we found him waltzing into a fast food joint. He didn’t have a mum and the waiters urged us to take him home, for they had seen too many cats being run over in their car park. He was such a an adorable creature that it didn’t take much to persuade the girls. I, on the other hand, was hesitant – I remembered being devastated at six when my own pet kitten died and I didn’t want my girls to go through such grief. Just a year earlier, Mars had taken a liking to a stray cat and fed it. When it died suddenly, she cried for days.

Still, I couldn’t ignore the fact that this little kitten was too young to be wandering around. His scruffy and emaciated apppearance clearly showed that he was on his own. We would take him in as an act of kindness, but we would not get too sentimental, I decided. We bundled him into the car and took him home.

We took him to the upstairs terrace where he would be safe from the larger neighbourhood strays. We gave him milk and bedded him down for the night. That was enough, I said. I didn’t want everyone getting too emotionally attached. However, a storm was brewing and the little mite, horribly terrified by the sounds of thunder, began to mew piteously.

“The poor thing is frightened. We must comfort him,” the Dad Man tsked.

The girls agreed, “He is just a little baby, isn’t he?”

The little orphan we named Rocket had clearly enveigled his way into our hearts and so, received complete attachment parenting treatment from his new mums, Mars and Bear.

We bathed Rocket the next day and after gently drying him with a hair-dryer and fluffing out his fur, found that he was quite a good-looking cat ma shaa Allah. He had a cheeky little face, a wickedly long tail and well-proportioned ears. Rocket was so little that initially, he had difficulty drinking from his dish. So the girls and the Dad Man fed him with a bottle…


The Dad Man helped the girls feed Rocket. He was a feisty thing and gained weight shortly after living with us. We continued to keep him upstairs after a relative warned us about how the territorial strays in the neighbourhood would finish him off.

Rocket was even lullabied to sleep by his little mummies :)

The girls had Rocket duty every day – they fed him and played with him, without fuss or complaint. They even cleaned up his messes with good humour. Rocket had a few unusual tendencies – he would walk to heel, greet us at the gate whenever we returned from an outing and stand on his hind legs to put put his paws on our thighs when we sat down by him… He even frequently followed us when we walked to the market and park. It was a running joke that we actually had a dog trapped in a cat’s body!

He was quite a cheeky little thing and often mewed for the girls to come out and play with him.

The little charmer was eventually big enough for the big wide world. He took up residence in the compound and had a bed at the porch. Initially, Rocket had a hard time dealing with the neighbourhood cats. They were much older – there is one so enormous we call him “The Beast” – and very territorial. Young Rocket would emerge from their altercations with numerous injuries. That winter, we had to let him in the house many times to recover. However, he soon grew into a large and sleek cat and became quite a force to be reckoned with.

Rocket lying on the Dad Man’s lap while he worked on the laptop.
He had beautifully thick and long fur – Mars is convinced he has a bit of Somali in him.

It was obvious that my plan for us not to be emotionally attached had backfired. It is hard to toughen yourself against a cat who comes over and sits on your lap or who bounds over to you with delight when you return home. The girls spoiled him silly with toys and affection; Anees would save him bones and leftover meat and even Dadi, who claimed to dislike cats, bought Rocket a cushion for his bed. Rocket was evidently a precious member of the family.

One morning, some three months ago, the girls called out in the morning, “Rocket! Foodie!”, but he didn’t come running over like he normally would. We weren’t all too alarmed at first – he would sometimes roam around the estate and skip breakfast to return for an early lunch. Days passed though and he was still missing. It just about broke my heart to hear the girls calling out everyday plaintively, “Rocket… Rooockeet! Foodie! Rocket…”

We have cleared out his bed from the porch. but the girls are convinced that he will return one day. I let them go on hoping, because I know how much they cared for him and I don’t want to see them shattered. Deep in my heart, though, I know that he won’t come back. It has been too long for a cat so loving and loyal to have stayed away.

I hadn’t wanted to love Rocket, but he had given my kids a great deal of joy. He taught them about the importance of responsibility, kindness and patience. I miss seeing him lying on his bed and looking in on us by the porch window. I think I’ll always remember him as the mischievous, spritely creature that tore about the place wreaking havoc.

We miss you, boy. Be well, wherever you are.

Instagram Instances

The entire house has been down with either the ‘flu or allergies – we are not sure which as it is pollen season right now in Islamabad. Apparently, Islamabad is one of the cities that has the highest pollen count in the world. There were high temperatures, blocked noses, sore throats and sore eyes all around. Since I am not native to this place, the changes in seasons have often been hard to bear, but alhamdulillah I am learning to get used to things.

Anyway, with Peep still so small, I haven’t been able to gallivant much with the girls. However, others have stepped in. Their Dadi took them to the village and they got to play and pick berries…

Spring is here! Aren’t these mulberries pretty?

The Dad Man has also been taking them on hikes and trips to the park…

They were pleasantly surprised one day to see tent pegging at the park. This is a competition in which a mounted horseman rides at a gallop and uses a sword or a lance to pierce, pick up, and carry away a small ground target (the tent peg) or a series of small ground targets. It was very crowded, but they did manage to get to catch some of the action and to see one of the horses up close…

As for me, you can probably tell that my contribution to all this activity is to record it via Instagram :) (No, I don’t have an iPhone, I just pinch borrow the Dad Man’s!) Highly addictive business. Other than that, it’s been more home based activities for me like online classes, editing work and the kids’ studies. Pretty mundane maybe, but a bit of normalcy is necessary at times.

I hope you’re all well and having good times :)

The Little Big Sister

Here’s my little Bear… once the baby of the family, she seems to have grown up overnight, ma shaa Allah.

So my smally molly, I love how you comfort me when I get my horrid migraines. I love how you forgive me when my awful temper gets the worst of me and those around me. I love how you like giving people presents and surprises. I love how you find joy and delight in the simplest things. I love how you love Mars and Peep.

In short, I love YOU :)

You know what they say…

Good things come in little packages :)

Alhamdulillah, this little guy is now the newest member of our student body. Little `Isa aka Peep was born in late January and he’s kept us all busy, dizzy and in a tizzy!

We’ll be back to our regular programming pretty soon in shaa Allah :) In the meantime, I hope you’re all having happy, sunshiney days!

Homeschooling – Our Joyful Journey

I come from a dual-income family – my mother was a nurse who worked shifts and my father was an Assistant Commissioner of Public Health in Singapore. During early childhood, my siblings and I had a helper who took care of us when my parents were at work and in later years, we became latch-key children when the much-loved nanny left to start her own family. It was inevitable, due to their work commitments and our school schedules, that we would often be left to our own devices.

I did not mind being independent, but I always had the feeling that there was something missing in our lives…

I do not blame my parents in the least – they had done the very best they could. They grew up during the Japanese Occupation and tightened their belts in the difficult post-war years. Their personal aspirations had to be shelved for more pressing considerations. When they had my siblings and me, they made sacrifices so we could have choices.

I believe my parents’ hard work and esteem for knowledge opened up horizons to me alhamdulillah and gave me the opportunity to choose homeschooling for my children.

It has been an exhilarating journey that has enriched us as a family. My husband and I love having Mars and Bear with us every day. We are their confidants and they are each others’ best friends. We have also been able to train them to take responsibility in our household’s daily operation. The girls have learnt to tackle laundry duty, meal-time preparations as well as cleaning and tidying daily. Alhamdulillah, homeschooling has enabled us to work as a team.

Homeschooling has allowed us to maintain close ties with our family. Whether we were based in Singapore or Pakistan, we have been able to make decisions to meet our children’s and family’s needs, without having to worry about school policy and classroom schedules. We were able to be with my father-in-law during his last days and were able to comfort my ailing mother during her kidney treatments and surgeries this year. It has been a blessing indeed that we have always been to make family – rather than school – a priority.

Our children are treated as unique individuals – their strengths are celebrated and honed and their struggles, identified and worked on with love and due consideration. The one-on-one attention they each receive enables them to get through their material in greater breadth and depth. They set their own rhythm, but rather than create indiscipline or inertia, this has made the learning more efficient and given them more time for other pursuits and interests.

Homeschooling has also given us the freedom to choose our preferred approach and resources. At our home, we focus on knowledge and good behaviour rather than on grades. Credit is given not for cleverness, but for good conduct. We encourage striving, but not for self-glorification and competition is tempered with compassion for our fellow learners.

The best thing about homeschooling is that my husband and I have been able to impart and incorporate Islamic morals to our children without compromise. Our faith is interwoven in our curriculum so our children have no need to leave their values at the school gates, set aside their worship or downplay their Muslim identity. Home education has given them a stronger sense of character and self-esteem. They have been sheltered from the bullying, teasing and negative peer pressure that is common in public schools.

A few months ago, a sister I met marvelled at the fact that I am a homeschooling mother. She declared, “I could never do what you do!” I assured her that it has neither been a sacrifice nor a great feat on my part. Being with my children has helped me find what was missing before – joy in togetherness and faith.

I thank Allah every day, for I have learnt more than I have taught and truly taken more than I have given.

This article was originally written for HomeWorks Magazine.

Notebooking – Prophet Idris

Continuing with our notebooking adventure… here is the second set of notebooking papers in the Lives of the Prophets series :) This is for the story of Prophet Idris `alayhis salaam. His story is a little short, but I’ve included different papers that you can use depending on how you want to write out the lessons.

Mars liked the font that I used in the Prophet Adam papers and wanted her notebook to have a uniform look. I like trying out different fonts. So there are two versions for you to download.

Here’s Set A, which you can download here or at Scribd.

And here’s Set B that you can download here or at Scribd.

I hope you find them useful!

Geography Notebook

More notebooking papers! You know the drill… download here or at Scribd :)

Feedback will be greatly appreciated :)

Making Your Own Notebooking Paper

I am rather enjoying making our own notebooking papers. There are several sites offering such papers for sale, but I’ve found several advantages to making my own. It is more affordable and I’ve also been able to customise them to my children’s tastes and writing.

There are several programmes that you can use like Free Serif Software, Scribus and Microsoft Publisher, but I just use good ol’ Microsoft Word. (I’ve got a plugin that converts my documents to PDF.) My lines are essentially tables – I play around with the row heights, borders styles and colours – and I add in clipart as and when necessary. Nothing fancy-schmancy :)

Below is an example of a basic notebooking template – I’ve included a cover, pages of primary-lined sheets for penmanship as well as regular-lined sheets for regular notebooking. The slideshow below from Scribd is in pdf format but you can download the MS Word format here to adapt to your own needs. You can change the title on the cover as well as the footer, type in your assignments as well as customise the number and size of lines and fonts (I LOVE fonts!).

Enjoy!