Do not let your child wear earbuds.

The problem with ear buds:
Three weeks ago I took my daughter to the doctor. She was complaining of ear pain and that she couldn’t hear very well. In the two weeks before the visit she’d had the same complaint. I tried to help her by using an over-the-counter ear wax removal kit. This was the second time in the last year that I had to remove impacted ear wax. Although at first it did give her some relief, the problem reoccurred.
I believe the problem was caused by the ear buds that she uses for her phone. She wears these buds almost non-stop. Sun up to sun down. If you see her, you see the wires coming from her ears. I strongly discourage this usage. But at sixteen I am allowing her a little more freedom to make more choices for herself. Her choice – ear buds!
When I tried to remove the ear wax the second time, it only gave her minimal relief. The OTC medication suggested trying the removal for several days. Several days later, she could barely hear out of her ear and the pain was excruciating. I looked at the ear buds in frustration. Now she was only wearing one but she was still using the buds. I took her to the doctor. The doctor confirmed my hunch. Ear buds are a problem. Teens push the buds down into the ear canal. Ear canals were not designed to have things inserted into them. This can lead to impacted wax and directing loud noises into the canal can lead to hearing loss. But her doctor understood my struggle. She told me, her own children insist on wearing the buds. And she has concerns about their long term hearing ability.

What are the dangers:
According to the Whittier Hospital Medical Center’s blog: Earbuds can hurt our ears in 3 ways.
1. They prevent was from secreting out of the ear canal. This causes wax to build up and become impacted.

2. The buds carry dirt and bacteria which can cause ears to become infected.

3. Excessive sound volume can damage the eardrum and the inner ear.

What are the solutions:
1. Try to convince your child to use traditional over the ear earphones. They still pose some concerns, but the danger is less.

2. Reduce or restrict the time that your child can wear earbuds.

3. Teach them to make sure their earbuds are always clean, every time they wear them.

4. Use the phone or device settings to reduce the volume levels.

5. Teach your child what is a normal volume. The setting should not be much higher than conversational speech. If you can hear what they are listening to – it’s too loud.


Would it be easier to just ban all earphones?
Yes, that would be awesome! But very unlikely. Headphone have become a part of our lives. While they may not be particularly healthy they are useful. My children use it to listen to the Quran when they are all studying at the same time. Al hamdulillah, this modern invention allows them to listen and recite with reciters from all over the world. It also allows them to listen to and be entertained by their devices without disturbing other family members. Family members who may be praying or reading the Quran. So, headphones can be beneficial to us as Muslims. They can be used to help us encourage our children in acts of worship. But like everything else – moderation and balance is key.

Conclusion:
Let them wear the headphones. Encourage the over-the-ear phones and avoid ear buds. Try to follow the recommendations listed above. Be quick to respond to any symptoms. I waited two weeks before I took her to the doctor. During this time her infection increased in both severity and discomfort. I wish I had at least called the doctor and gotten her advice. I assumed that the problem was impacted wax. But I never imagined that this wax could cause an infection. As parents we have to be vigilant about our children’s health and safety. But we also have to teach our children to be just as vigilant. May Allah protect our children from every possible harm, Ameen.

(Author’s note: this blog is an opinion piece and as such is not a substitute for advice from a licensed professional.)

Black History – Critical Thinking/Essay Writing prompt for teens:

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an American investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. In the 1890s, Wells documented lynching in the United States. Wells exposed lynching as a barbaric practice of whites in the South.” Her courageous and life-threatening investigative reporting caused changes in attitudes toward lynchings. It also helped spur African American migration from the deep south. Writing Prompt: How are news reports affecting attitudes about police brutality today?

Be sure to share this prompt with your teens. Encourage writing and critical thinking as much as you can. Our kids need it! Our kids also need to practice their essay writing skills. Look for prompts that will encourage your child/student to both write and think! And for more prompts like this pick up my writing prompt workbook for teens – https://amzn.to/2GRXtqD

Arabic programs I recommend:

Q. I want to find a good Arabic learning curriculum for kids. Any Suggestions???

I was recently asked this question in the Mommy Muslim Facebook group. It’s hard to answer because there are so many options. It really depends on the age of your children and EXACTLY what you want them to learn. It also depends on how hands-on you want to be. If you are going to be very hands-on, what is your Arabic language level? When you think about all the variables, you can see how hard it is to answer.

Let me tell you about the two programs I use and recommend.
First a little background on me. I learned basic Arabic while I was growing up. I can read and write Arabic at about a third-grade level. I was able to teach my children to identify the Arabic alphabet and basic phonics. When it was time to teach them to read, I needed to use a textbook that would help me to teach them.

The textbook that I used was the Madinah series. Madinah offers their textbook for adults. The Arabic lessons help you to understand the Quran. They offer the same textbook for children. It covers the same lessons but adds pictures and fonts that make it easy for children to learn and remember. I enjoyed teaching them with these textbooks. It may not be easy to teach with this textbook without any prior knowledge. But with a basic rudimentary level, I think you would have no problems.

Tajweed Practice
There is a difference between learning to read the quran, which is what Madinah series teaches, and learning to read with Tajweed. Tajweed is definitely an art. When Islam spread it became important to teach students to read and pronounce the quran correctly. No accents, no dialects – it must be read exactly- and read using the same pauses and breaks and elongations as it was originally revealed. These are the sacred words of Allah and we should try to perfect it as much as we can. Keeping in mind that slight changes in pronunciation can change the meaning.

Most people will tell you that Noorani Qaida is the best way to learn Tajweed. It is not a particular book or website but it is a method of teaching. It is comprehensive, easily accessible and widely available. Every book is exactly the same. You find this book and follow it step by step. If you “google” Noorani Qaida books you will find lots of copies from many sources. Youtube also has many videos of teachers teaching this method. So, you can have someone to listen to and follow along with for pronunciation help.

Bidaya Book
At my kid’s quran school, they use the Bidaya book. I have fallen in love with this book because they focus on Tajweed rules. The name of each rule, what it means, how to use it, etc. Noorani Qaida doesn’t do this as well. They also have a website, which is helpful for listening practice and quizzes. The program works very well for beginners and up. It does teach the Arabic alphabet. They even have flashcards to help. We use the “book”, “workbook” and website. Bidayabook.com You could get by using only the website, but I don’t recommend doing it that way. We should try to support these great teachers and the curriculum. Also the book is very helpful to have, even as a reference tool as you advance.

I also use the “Quranic” app on my android phone. This app teaches you vocabulary words from quran in an interactive and challenging way. There is a free and paid version. (I use the free version and it works just fine!) You can even start teams and challenge each other. Great for encouraging family members. (I’m the leader on my board! Yay! Al Hamdulillah.)

One last piece of advice:
Although there are a lot of other ways to learn Arabic. These are the three that my family uses. But as long as you have a good standard program, you should do fine. The most important thing to find is someone objective to listen to you read quran. Tajweed is like singing: You may think you sound great, but someone else will tell you how you really sound. (lol)

Below you will find links to the books and products mentioned in the article above. For some links I may receive a small commission for recommending products that I use and love! Be sure and check out the mommy muslim pinterest Arabic and Spanish language board for my links to Arabic printables. https://www.pinterest.com/sakrs/learning-arabic-and-spanish/

What are your recommendations? Leave them in the comments or join the conversation in our Facebook group :https://www.facebook.com/groups/701687213752206

This is where I started with my children.
This one is great for adults, but the one for kids has the same lessons but the pictures make it easier!

This is the link for the “Quranic” app!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pnw.quranic.quranicandroid

Adventures in Healthy Eating: Soup!

O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you… Holy Quran 2:172

If you follow Mommy Muslim then you know that I struggle with getting my kids to eat healthy food. I also struggle with eating healthy. Sometimes we do great and then other times, not so much. But as fall approaches, I know I can turn to a great healthy option, soup. Soup is a wonderful way to sneak in many healthy vegetables. This is great for my daughter who asks me when I serve multiple veggies; “Should I pick the vegetable I want?” She is convinced that a complete meal consists of just one vegetable.


Isn’t Raw food better for you?


According to Wikipedia: “Raw foodism, also known as rawism or following a raw food diet, is the dietary practice of eating only or mostly food that is uncooked and unprocessed.” Raw food enthusiasts believe that eating vegetables raw is healthier. Raw foods allow the body to consume all of the nutrients of the food. Nutrients that might otherwise be lost during cooking. However the Centers for Disease Control states on their website that: “…sometimes raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. CDC estimates that germs on fresh produce cause a large percentage of U.S. foodborne illnesses. The safest produce is cooked; the next safest is washed.” Some nutritionists also believe that eating some foods raw makes them harder for the body to process. Cooking also increases the antioxidant content of some foods. Foods like asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, legumes and potatoes are all better cooked. While foods like broccoli, onions, garlic and cabbage are better for you raw or cooked only minimally.


Any vegetables are better than no vegetables.


No matter where you stand on the raw vs cooked spectrum, you would probably agree that any veggies are better than none. I would love to see my kids eat a plateful of vegetables every day. But it doesn’t work out that way. They have their go-to-vegetables that they prefer. Broccoli, string beans, spinach, and corn are the only veggies that all three love. Any other vegetable, excluding salad greens, is going to leave someone unhappy. Usually two out of three will hate it! My goal at all times is to get them to expand their veggie palate.


Soup to the resuce!


When cool weather approaches, I turn to soup as a healthy alternative. Soup allows me to combine vegetables in a tasty mix that is generally appealing to them. It gives them the chance to eat a wider variety per serving. This means that, although it may have less nutritional value than its raw counterpart, they are eating more of it. Soup also retains some of the vitamins that are lost during the boiling process. (When we boil vegetables some vitamins can leach into the water. Typically we pour the nutrient rich water down the drain!) During the cooler months warm soup also acts as a comfort food.


Soup as medicine.


We have all heard of the folk remedy, take chicken noodle soup for a cold. Health experts believe that this soup actually does help!. The soup thins mucus, decongests, and has mild anti-inflammatory properties. A lemon rice soup with a little celery and spinach can give a boost of vitamin C. According to some studies; the ingredients ginger and garlic are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Mixing fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, sage and basil are easy ways to boost your soup’s anti-oxidant content.


But my kids don’t like soups with vegetables.


The beauty of soup is that you can hide the taste of the veggies with your soup base. My soups usually have one of three bases. The first base is a tomato base. This was my go-to base for a long time. The tomato covers a lot of complimentary tastes very well. And you can hide your vegetables by blending them into a broth that you mix into the base. String beans, carrots, spinach, and broccoli all mix very well into a tomato base. My good friend Zainab introduced me to the cream base. This base relies on heavy whipping cream, milk, coconut milk, butter, etc. This base mixes well with spinach, corn, potatoes, broccoli, and asparagus. My third base is a meat based broth. This is where I use my chicken or lamb stock to make a soup. Sometimes the meat is included, for example in lamb stew or chicken noodle soup. Sometimes I use the broth to make a vegetable soup. You can blend a soup as long as it doesn’t have any bones. This works well for children who are resistant to having a bowl of soup with visible chunks of vegetables. These kids enjoy slurping soup down from a mug.


Conclusion:


With fall approaching we could all use a healthy boost from our favorite comfort foods. When we cook these foods for our children we are serving them foods that will comfort and nourish them for a lifetime. May your soup be full of love, health and blessings – Ameen.


Be sure to share your favorite soup recipe in the comments or join the conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/701687213752206
Pick up your copy of my blank recipe book, perfect for recording your favorite recipes. The book is divided by sections. The “Appetizers and Salads” section is the perfect place to save your delicious soup recipe! https://amzn.to/2SbsbxG

    

Getting your baby ready for the baby.

When do you tell your child that your are pregnant?

My first 2 children were born twenty months apart. I was enjoying the first baby. When, SURPRISE, I found out I was pregnant. I sorted through a mash-up of emotions before settling on happiness. It was embarrassing, as a newlywed, I wondered if people would think that making babies was all we did! (It was not!) I wondered why we hadn’t taken more precautions. But years of fibroid-related fertility problems had convinced me that a second pregnancy was unlikely. (Especially since I was still breastfeeding…a lot!) I worried about how I would manage a job, a husband a one-year-old, and pregnancy. After I stopped worrying about the pregnancy, I started worrying about handling a two-year-old and a new baby. Looking back, I’m sure those wonderful pregnancy hormones contributed to my anxious and emotional state. But hormone-induced or not, the struggle was real. And I had to get my baby ready, to no longer be the baby. 

When to tell your child you are pregnant?

The first decision I made involved telling my child. I didn’t want to start preparing her too early. I know that if you tell a child something is going to happen and it doesn’t, they don’t understand. For a two-year-old, a two- or three-month advance notice was plenty of time. I would have waited later. But I had to explain my growing belly bump and why we couldn’t do certain thing anymore, like breastfeeding.

Can you continue to breastfeed while pregnant? 

Absolutely! It is possible for your body to feed both children at the same time. But, as my doctor explained to me; “Your body is going to feed the fetus first, the nursing baby second and you last.” This means that you don’t get the nutrients that you need. I stubbornly persisted. Breastfeeding was our special time. We bonded, cuddled and just loved on each other. How could I ask her to give it up for a new baby, like she wasn’t important anymore? Okay, here the pregnancy hormones might have been kicking in again. Because I was unbearably sad thinking about weaning her. Then I started to see my doctor’s predictions come true. I was drained even with extra supplements, eating right, and increasing fluids. My nails were weak, chipping and breaking. My hair thinned and fell out, leaving bald patches in the back of my scalp. I didn’t have energy to play with or read to her. So even without weaning, she was still losing some of our connection. It was time to wean. But I was determined to never let her feel that she was being weaned because of the new baby. Even though I hadn’t yet told her, I didn’t want her to connect those dots, when I did.

How to tell your child about the new baby?

My daughter was very young. I didn’t want her to feel like we didn’t love her anymore. That she wasn’t also our baby. I also didn’t want her to feel like the baby was ours and not also hers. I wanted her to feel, even before the baby came home, that this was a gift a blessing for the entire family.  The most important thing here are: your words and your actions. I used words like: “our baby”. But I also used words like, “your baby”. I tried to get her to feel included. I never said things like, “we can’t do this, because of the baby”. Because I didn’t want her to feel any resentment.  

When I told her, I kept it very simple. (Remember she was not quite two.) I prepped her in the weeks leading up to the announcement. We read story books about welcoming a new baby. Because she was so young, I bought her a doll and began calling it her baby. I used language and actions that I wanted her to model. I would tell her; “Give your baby a kiss”. “You love your baby, don’t you? Hug your baby. You’re my baby. Let me give you a kiss and a hug.  And now I will kiss your baby. We have to love babies.” As you can see we role played. Lots of careful thought went into pre-addressing what I thought would be her concerns. It was designed to build a loving attitude towards the baby. On the day I told her, I put her hands on my belly. I said, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy tool. Just like in the book and we are going to have a new baby in our house.” It was very simple. But once she knew, I began referencing it all the time. And I would invite her to kiss the baby (in my belly) all the time. Saying something like “Oh the baby is moving; he might need you to rub him”. I think if you prepare and make dua (pray) about it. The words will come easy.

Helping your child to help themselves:

Because she was my first, I had been babying her for her short eighteen-month life. I still feel that was okay. But now that her life was changing, I had to get her ready for that change. And let her do somethings, that I knew she was capable of, on her own. I began giving up more of my cherished lap time to her father. I knew two laps would make it easier. And Al Hamdulillah, we had two laps in the house. I wanted her to get used to going to someone else as an equal source of comfort. I also got her used to small things like eating in her chair. We didn’t get her to sleep in her bed. That was not happening! But I did get her used to sleeping on her father’s side. She also learned to take a nap in her bed. I stopped holding her hand for everything. Because I knew that I wouldn’t always have two hands free. I also taught her how to do some small things for herself. For example; “bring me a diaper and the wipes”. Because I anticipated having a c-section, I knew I would need her help. I also knew that she could help me with some of these small things and she did.

How to get your child helping with the new baby. 

She was used to climbing all over me. I took “No don’t jump on my belly.” And changed it to, “Use gentle hands.” But I started taking her hands and helping her to gently stroke my belly. Teaching her this motion means; gently or softly. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to tell her to be gentle, if I hadn’t demonstrated what a gentle touch is. And even with demonstrating, I knew that we also needed to practice and practice soft gentle touches. We practiced holding a baby. Something I knew she would want to do. But I made sure to teach her that you can only pick up or hold the baby with mommy’s help. We tried potty training, but she wasn’t ready. But she was able to put her plate and fork in the sink. She could pick up her toys without help. She did learn to put on her shoes and take off her coat. All things that she could have been doing, and all things that I had been doing for her. 

Dealing with anxiety over the new baby:

Some children don’t know or exactly understand what is happening. Even though they don’t fully comprehend, they still react. Sleeping more, regressing to baby talk, wetting the bed, refusing to use the potty, crying more frequently or being clingy can be a lot to deal with when you are also managing a pregnancy and your own anxiety. But with everything in life and parenting, sabr – patience is key. Recognize that this is still your baby and they are in distress. Offer extra comfort and affection if they request or need it. This is not babying. This is teaching your child that I am still someone you can trust to be here for you. Reward generously (not with food) and profusely when they do the behaviors you want to encourage. Children love when adults are amazed and proud of them. You can express this verbally and non-verbally. Read to them, talk to them, reassure them, and most importantly listen to them. There are a lot of ways to let your child know that you still care and that they have your attention. They want to be the focus of that attention. Sometimes you won’t have time. But let them know that; “I will be with you in a minute.” And when you get that minute, don’t shortchange them. Give them your pure and undistracted attention. Get down on their level, get physically close to them and focus. A fifteen-minute quality focused session can change your whole relationship with your child. When the time draws to a close and they want more time. Let them know you that have to move on but that you will give them more time later. And DO IT! Once they see that you will keep your word, then they won’t fuss as much when you must leave because they are confident of your return. Never compare them to other children. Praise the behavior of other children without comparing them. For example; “I really like how Isa always puts his shoes away. Isa you’re doing a good job.” With consistent reassurance, affection and praise, they will move past their anxiety. 

Conclusion:

Thank Allah (God) every day for the wonderful gift of a new child. Of course, it will be challenging. Of course, it will come with some difficulty. But Allah doesn’t give anyone a burden that they can’t bear. If He brought you to it, that means He will bring you through it. And after “every difficulty, there will be ease.” This is His promise, and His word is true. I pray Allah will make it easy for you and your family, Ameen.