Life's like that!

October 30, 2008

Tis the season...

... to be sick. Husband, daughter and I have been sick with a cold since last Saturday. At one time all three of us just lied on bed to get some rest. I'm still having blocked nose daughter is still having running nose. It's around this time of the year when germs and viruses get shared with friends, family and strangers. Yesterday got a call from a 2nd grade teacher and she has been down with the flu for two days. Now that the temperature has dropped to the 30s to 4os degree F (0-10+ degree Celsius), we all have to bundle up and stay warm to fight off the cold.

October 25, 2008

This afternoon on my way to get grocery, I went to Thrift Town to look for gently used books. All praise be to Allah SWT I met a Muslim sister, Sr. Jeni, who also happened to shop there. She told me that she is homeschooling her two sons, and I immediately asked her for recommendations for homeschooling curriculum.

She recommended :
1. K12 and
2. Texas Academy at Southwest

I am so excited to find someone who has experience in homeschooling. Since husband has been talking about homeschooling daughter, now I'm not so hesitate about it since I've got resources that I can tap onto out there.

Sr. Jeni was so kind to give me her contact info and tell me to call her if I have any questions. Surely Allah SWT answers our call for help if we are patient enough.

Library Makeover Photos - Finally!

All praise be to Allah SWT, I finally remembered to bring husband's digital camera to take pictures of the mosque library.

Daughter has a cold since last Thursday, so today I left her at home with husband.

The Imam asked me to help 6 girls (ranging from 10 to 14 years old) to learn how to make posters based on Islamic teachings. Before the class started at 10:30am, I went home at around 10am to pick up posters that I bought days ago and also a box of magic markers. All praise be to Allah SWT I bought a book "Poster Ideas Book" at Hobby Lobby and used it to give ideas to the girls on designing layout and format. I drew some sample formats on the white board as shown on top.

In the picture below, this side of the wall is lined with books for younger children and adult reference materials.

In the picture below, several monitors and computers used to occupy the top of storage cabinet. (The storage cabinet is where I found a bunch of Sunday School materials when I was cleaning the place.) I used a white plastic sheet to cover them up since there is no other place in the mosque to store them. To make the library look more attractive, I display some children's books and some books about Islam.

In the picture below, I used stencils to cut out the alphabet letters and pasted them on a long banner paper. Since I have some maps on hand, I put them up above the banner to hide the ugly cork background. I found the slogan "Dig Into a Good Book" from the LM_Net archive, a mailing list for library media specialists. (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!)

Since daughter is having running nose, I left the mosque early at noon although weekend Islamic classes end at 2pm.
Next week, more students will be sent to me to learn how to make posters. I hope that daughter will be well by then, Allah SWT willing.

Sweet Harvest

Two days ago husband harvested this delicious yellow bell pepper. All praise be to Allah SWT I stir-fried it with button mushrooms and it tasted so good! Now we are just waiting for the other one to turn yellow... hehehe.....


October 24, 2008

Song: 爱拼才会赢 Keep Working Hard to Win

This is another of the most inspiring Hokkein song that has been very popular since the 80s. I like the lyrics because it reminds me not to give up trying during tough times.

Watch it on youtube


爱拼才会赢 Keep Working Hard to Win

一时失志不免怨叹 When one loses goal it is natural to be bitter
一时落魄不免胆寒 When one is in hard times it is natural to be sad

那通失去希望 When hope is lost
每日醉茫茫 Everyday we are drifting aimlessly
无魂有体亲像稻草人 The body loses its soul like a scarecrow

人生可比是海上的波浪 A person's life is like the wave on the sea
有时起 Sometimes it rises
有时落 Sometimes it falls

好运 Good fortune (or)
歹运 Bad fortune
总嘛要照起工来行 In the end we have to get back to work
三分天注定 Life is pre-destined 30 percent of the lifetime
七分靠打拼 Hard work counts for 70 percent of the lifetime

爱拼才会赢 Keep on working hard to win (reach one's goals)


Song: 可爱的人生 An Adorable Life

When I was growing up, my mother would tune into Chinese oldies, especially songs from the 60s and 70s. I find the lyrics meaningful and I learnt a lot of life lessons just by listening to them.

Lately I have singing this song "An Adorable Life" to myself and my sister when we skype. At various stages of my life, the lyrics have always reminded myself not to give up hope during difficult times.

This morning I found a clip from youtube This song is performed by an uncle in his 50s, and he sounds like the original singer 黄清元 Huang Qing Yuen.

The English translation is next to the Mandarin lyrics.


An Adorable Life
可爱的人生 (词 曲 ) (Source: ★ noni99 )

有人是哭哭啼啼过一生 Some people cry throughout their lives
有人是开开心心过一生 Some people are happy throughout their lives
哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Although everyone thinks differently
啊 终归的可爱的人生 In the end (it is) an adorable life

开心的时候你手拉着手 When you are happy you are holding hands
悲哀的时候你放下了手 When you are sad you let go (of the hand)
一个人寂寞地喝着苦酒 A person (is) drinking bitter wine alone
一个人寂寞地让那泪儿流 A person (is) crying alone
哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Although everyone thinks differently
终归的可爱的人生 In the end (it is) an adorable life

有人是满怀希望过一生 Some people feel hopeful throughout their lives
有人是灰心失望过一生 Some people feel hopeless throughout their lives
哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Although everyone thinks differently
啊 终归的可爱的人生 In the end (it is) an adorable life

贫穷也不怕我有朋友 In poverty I am not afraid because I have friends
困难也不怕我会奋斗 In difficult times I am not afraid because I will work harder
当这个世界到处可走 In this world I can go anywhere
就当这个世界充满自由 In this world freedom is everywhere

哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Although everyone thinks differently
终归的可爱的 可爱的人生 In the end (it is) an adorable life

哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Altough everyone thinks differently
啊 终归的可爱的人生 In the end it is an adorable life
开心的时候你手拉着手 When you are happy you are holding hands
悲哀的时候你放下了手 When you are sad you let go (of the hand)
一个人寂寞地喝着苦酒 One person (is) drinking bitter wine alone
一个人寂寞地让那泪儿流 One peson (is) crying alone
哈 虽然是人人的想法不同 Although everyone thinks differently
终归的可爱的 可爱的人生 In the end (it is) an adorable, adorable life


October 23, 2008

Learning to Better Understand Middle Schoolers

Yesterday I had a really eye-opening experience with the middle schoolers. I detained several boys during their PE lesson to find out why they did not follow directions. I started the conversation by telling them that the reason I want to talk to them is because I care about them, and I truly do. Here are what I heard from them plus my own observations.

- old students assumes that new students get special treatment
- students assume that those who don't get along well with them gossip about them
- some of the boys assumes that girls always get the special treatment
- students want to impress their friends by acting out in class in order to fit in (new and old students)
- students felt they were singled out for unfair reason / persisted in questioning me: "what did I do?" (students are unable to self-reflect on their action)
- students keep provoking those who are quick to react and possess hot temper
- students did not have enough time to hang out with friends outside school (due to extra study time set by parents), so school is seen as more of a social place that for learning

I don't know how often their parents talked about their expectations for their children's behavior in school, but I think not many parents will find the time or better educate themselves to do so. It is sad that this happens, and there is really not much any teachers can do about it.

I'm reading a book "Fires in the Middle School Bathrooms: advice for teachers from middle schoolers" in order to better understand them. Allah SWT willing I hope that I can find better strategies next time I teach them.

Toddler Meltdown

I brought daughter to the nearby Half Price Bookstore to look for books about teamwork building. She had a meltdown while we were there, and it was interesting to observe people's facial expressions. Most, if not all, men out on a stern face and looked like they just want to get far far away from us. Most, if not all, women had a more understanding look on their faces and even tried to talk to daughter to get calm her down.

I'm not really bothered by what people think, but I did not want to deafen people's ears with daughter's bloodshot screams.

At the cashier I was torn between (1) making a dash to the car with my toddler hurled over my shoulder without getting my books, and (2) throwing a bunch of bills to the cashier for my books, then dash to the car with my toddler hurled over my shoulder.

In the end, I forced myself to pay for the books (while offering lots of "sorry"s, wait for the change, then dash to the car with my toddler tucked under one arm while grabbing the bag of books with the other hand.

I've got to come up with a better strategy next time I bring her to the same bookstore or else I might be banned from that place!

Fires in the Middle School Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from Middle Schoolers

Summaries from chapter 1-6 in "Fires in the Middle School Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from Middle Schoolers" by Kathleen Cushman and Laura Rogers

Everything is Off Balance
1. We're wondering what to expect from you - so ask us what our questions are.
2. We build our sense of self by watching you and each other.
3. We need room to try on different images of ourselves.
4. We might try on different friends, too, as we try to fit into middle school.
5. we want you to show a real interest in who we are and what we care about.

A Teacher on Our Side
1. Show us that you like us and find out interesting.
2. Listen to our opinions and ideas.
3. Hold us to the rules, but do it nicely.
4. Consider our individual situations and treat us fairly, case by case.
5. We want to trust you, but that's not always easy.

Social Forces in the Classroom
1. Help us find common ground with each other.
2. Teach us hw to work together in safe, collaborative groups.
3. Let us practice working out issues that affect the class.
4. Treat us all with the same respect.
5. Understand that our ideas about what's fair will change as we tackle new problems.
6. Watch closely what's really going on with us, inside and outside the classroom.

Helping Us Grow Into Confident Learners
1. Realize that what you say to us helps us decide whether we believe we are smart or not.
2. Listen to our opinions about how you teach us.
3. Give us friendly and honest feedback on what we do right and what we need to do better,
4. Communicate your confidence in us as you help us overcome our struggles in school.
5. Understand that the grades you give us may mean different things to you, to us, and to our parents.
6. Help us learn how to manage our homework.

Using Our Energy to Help Us Learn
1. Don't ask us to sit still and listen for too long.
2. Help us learn what to do when we have too much energy, or too little.
3. Vary what we do in class, and we will stay more interested.
4. Give us breaks when we are having trouble paying attention.
5. Get us thinking, talking, and moving so we will learn better.
6. Let us eat more often in school - we're growing! We can learn to clean up after ourselves.

Make Way for Parents
1. We want our parents' help and support, but we want it in new ways.
2. We don't want to share everything about school with our parents.
3. We want our parents to see and take pride in our accomplishments.
4. We need out parents to help when we have a problem in school.
5. We want you to balance our need to feel more grown up with your responsibility to keep our parents informed.
6. We need you to get to know our parents and what matters to them.

Our Transition to High School
1. Provide time for us to ask lots of questions about how things are going to change in high school.
2. Arrange for us to hear from high school students before we get there.
3. Let us visit our new school to experience a typical day there.
4. Give us practice in the skills we will need in high school.
5. Provide "bridge" experiences in the summer after eighth grade.
6. Tell our ninth-grade teachers what helps us do well in school.
7. Connect us up with mentors or buddies in the high school.
8. As you send us off to high school, let us know you believe we are ready.

From the Window...

There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods,but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headedback for dinner.

As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck.. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it. Hewas shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile,only to see his sister watching!

Fatima had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch the next day Grandma said, ' Fatima, let's wash the dishes.' But Fatima said, 'Grandma, Ahmed told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.' Then she whispered to him,' Remember the duck?' So Ahmed did the dishes.

Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing andGrandma said, 'I'm sorry but I need Fatima to help make supper.'

Fatima just smiled and said, 'Well, that's all right because Ahmed told me he wanted to help.' She whispered again, 'Remember the duck?' So Fatima went fishing and Ahmed stayed to help.

After several days of Ahmed doing both his chores and Fatima 's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, 'Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Fatima make aslave of you.'


Thought for the day and every day thereafter?Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done... and the devil keeps throwing it up in your face (lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness, etc.)...whatever it is...You need to know that Allah SWT was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. He has seen your whole life. He wants you to know that He loves you and that you are forgiven. He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you.

The great thing about Allah SWT is that when you ask for forgiveness, He not only forgives you, but He forgets. It is by Allah's grace and mercy that we are saved.

Go ahead and make a difference in someone's life today. Share this with a friend and always remember: Allah SWT is at the window!When Allah SWT is so loving, men can be so cruel!

An Incredible Love Story

An Incredible Love Story

An incredible love story has come out of China recently and managed to touch the world. It is a story of a man and an older woman who ran off to live and love each other in peace for over half a century.

The 70-year-old Chinese man who hand-carved over 6,000 stairs up a mountain for his 80-year-old wife has passed away in the cave which has been the couple's home for the last 50 years.Over 50 years ago, Liu Guojiang a 19 year-old boy, fell in love with a 29 year-old widowed mother named Xu Chaoqin.

In a twist worthy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, friends and relatives criticized the relationship because of the age difference and the fact that Xu already had children.

At that time, it was unacceptable and immoral for a young man to love an older woman.. To avoid the market gossip and the scorn of their communities, the couple decided to elope and lived in a cave in Jiangjin County in Southern ChongQing Municipality.

In the beginning, life was harsh as hey had nothing, no electricity or even food. They had to eat grass and roots they found in the mountain, and Liu made a kerosene lamp that they used to light up their lives. Xu felt that she had tied Liu down and repeatedly asked him, 'Are you regretful? Liu always replied, 'As long as we are industrious, life will improve.'In the second year of living in the mountain, Liu began and continued for over 50 years, to hand-carve the steps so that his wife could get down the mountain easily.

Half a century later in 2001, a group of adventurers were exploring the forest and were surprised to find the elderly couple and the over 6,000 hand-carved steps. Liu MingSheng, one of their seven children said, 'My parents loved each other so much, they have lived in seclusion for over 50 years and never been apart a single day. He hand carved more than 6,000 steps over the years for my mother's convenience, although she doesn't go down the mountain that much.'

The couple had lived in peace for over 50 years until last week. Liu, now 72 years, returned from his daily farm work and collapsed. Xu sat and prayed with her husband as he passed away in her arms. So in love with Xu, was Liu, that no one was able to release the grip he had on his wife's hand even after he had passed away.

'You promised me you'll take care of me, you'll always be with me until the day I died, now you left before me, how am I going to live without you?'

Xu spent days softly repeating this sentence and touching her husband's black coffin with tears rolling down her cheeks.

In 2006, their story became one of the top 10 love stories from China , collected by the Chinese Women Weekly. The local government has decided to preserve the love ladder and the place they lived as a museum, so this love story can live forever.

Immigration Joke

This was nominated for best joke of the year.

A Somalian arrives in Minneapolis as a new immigrant to the United States.

He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says, 'Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country, giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care, and free education!'

The passerby says, 'You are mistaken, I am Mexican.'

The man goes on and encounters another passerby. ' Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America !'

The person says, 'I not American, I Vietnamese.'

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says, 'Thank you for the wonderful America!'

That person puts up his hand and says, I am from Middle East , I am not American!'

He finally sees a nice lady and asks, 'Are you an American?'

She says, 'No, I am from Africa !'

Puzzled, he asks her, 'Where are all the Americans?'

The African lady checks her watch and says.......'Probably at work!!!!!!!


Joke: Divorce vs. Murder

Note: Received this joke from a dear friend, Sr. Nahil. Thanks a bunch!

Divorce vs. Murder

A nice, calm and respectable lady went into the pharmacy, walked up to the pharmacist, looked straight into his eyes, and said, 'I would like to buy some cyanide.'

The pharmacist asked, 'Why in the world do you need cyanide?'

The lady replied, 'I need it to poison my husband.'

The pharmacist's eyes got big and he exclaimed, 'Lord have mercy! I can't give you cyanide to kill your husband. That's against the law! I'll lose my license! They'll throw both of us in jail! All kinds of bad things will happen. Absolutely not! You CANNOT have any cyanide!'

The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist's wife.

The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, 'Well now, that's different. You didn't tell me you had a prescription.'


October 21, 2008

Hocus, Pocus, Everybody Focus!

Today I subbed for the 5th grade teacher who has been sick since yesterday.

In order to get students' attention, I would say "1, 2, 3, eyes on me" and they would reply "1, 2, eyes on you."

One of the students taught us a new rhyme "hocus, pocus, everybody focus" and I was able to grab their attention with this rhyme.

It was a challenging day for me because I had to "pull out all my tricks from my hat" to keep students focused on their tasks. I gave them 5 chances to earn a game before I leave for the day, but unfortunately they had a hard time following directions. Eventually the game was forfeited and they looked shocked and disappointed. I hate it when this happens, but they have to learn their lesson and understand that they are responsible for consequences of their actions.

As my last lesson ended at 11:30am, I visited a friend, Sr. Rebeka and her 3.5 year old son, for chitchating. She was so generous to prepare lunch for me and daughter. Since I am fasting today, I fed daughter some of the delicious fried noodle and took a portion home for dinner.

Later in the afternoon at home, I read first few pages of the book "Fires in the Middle School Bathroom: advice for teachers from middle schoolers." Middle schoolers in the United States are kids from 10-14 years old. They "experience some of the dramatic physical, social, emotional, and cognitive changes of early adolescence." And due to feelings of insecurity of who they are, they sometimes do goofy stuff to get attention (mostly seeking admiration) from their peers.

All praise be to Allah SWT, after reading the first chapter of this book, I have a better understanding of the 5th grade students. I just hope that I can apply some of the tips that I found in this book the next time I sub in their class.

October 19, 2008

Family Day @ Dar Al Huda Masjid

This morning I received a call from a teacher from the school where I am subbing and she told me that she and her family is moving to November next month due to her husband's new job. I was speechless when I heard this news. She is a wonderful teacher and I really enjoy working with her. I love to chat with her and find out her perspectives on philosophical issues. I really hope that she and her family will come back to Texas someday. I am going to miss her presence but I will try my best to keep in touch with her, Allah SWT willing.

After that, I decided to drop by the mosque library with daughter. All praise be to Allah SWT the library is now ready for users to read books. As usual I brought the digital camera but the batteries died, so I'll have to take the pictures tomorrow. At around 1pm, community members started to arrive for the Family Day at the mosque. A big bounce house was rented for the kids to play. While the brothers were busy grilling chicken, burgers and hot dogs on two BBQ grills, the sisters served food to kids and chatting with one another. Husband helped out with the grilling while I took care of daughter. All praise be to Allah SWT I had the chance to chat with Sr. Basira who teaches at the school where I am subbing. It's always great to have the opportunity to know a person better.

Library Makeover Part 4

Yesterday morning husband helped to set up 4 bookshelves that we bought for the mosque library on Friday night. All praise be to Allah SWT I'm so glad that he is enthusiastic about the library. He even helped me to put up a library bulletin board by the mosque entrance. Daughter looked puzzled and seemed to be wondering why we were so busy at the mosque. I'm glad that half of the time she was busy playing with kids of her own age.

Most of the weekend school students dropped by to take a look and they were all excited that they have a library. I have to keep telling them that the library will only be ready today but they just couldn't contain their excitement and went off to tell all their friends about it. One student even said that the library will be the "best class" in the mosque. I think they may be surprised to find a cool librarian running the library ;-) Another group of students swing by and asked if I want to buy 4 used books for $2. I told them that I didn't have the money but it'll be great if they could donate the books to the library. Too bad they were not interested in my suggestion but I have a feeling that they will come back to the library to read soon.

As there are still many computers and tall shelves in the library, I kept worrying that they will not be moved in time for today's Family Day at the mosque. I told the Imam that I would like to have a library open house on this day so that the community is aware of this and he agreed. He also said that it might be possible to relocate the library to a bigger room in the mosque to provide more space for books and to cater to more readers, but they are trying to fix a leaking roof in the room now so that will wait till later.

A good friend, Sr. Nahil and her son came at about 1:30pm to help me translate bibliographic information for Arabic books to English so that I can catalogue them. We had a great time talking about the different forms of Arabic spoken in different regions, and she shared her experience as a preschool Arabic teacher with me. Another sister from the community also helped in this task after the weekend school ended.

Today I'm going to put up a notice to ask for book donation from the community. Allah SWT willing I hope we'll get good response.

October 17, 2008

7 Wonders of the World

Note: Received this in an email from my dear friend Huixian.

A group of students were asked to list what they thought were the present "Seven Wonders of the World." Though there were some disagreements, the following received the most votes.

1. Egypt's Great Pyramind
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. empire State Builing
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student had not finished her paper yet. So he asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many."

The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."

The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the "Seven Wonders of the World" are:

1. To See
2. To Hear
3. To Touch
4. To Taste
5. To Feel
6. To Laugh
7. To Love

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wonderous! A gentle reminder - that the most precious things in life cannot be build by hand or bought by man.

What ever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.


October 15, 2008

Library Makeover Part 3

I made a 3-D floor plan of the mosque library with a cardboard box. The aim is to have a more realistic view of the library layout for me and library users.

On Monday husband and I bought 5 used shelves at Goodwill for $40. If they were bought new, it'll cost us more than $100. All praise be to Allah SWT we can buy more books for the community to enjoy in the library with the savings.

October 14, 2008

Simple Incentives for Positive Outcome

This morning at 6:35am a 2nd grade teacher called me to sub for her as she felt ill. Since I'm available, I agreed to do so. I didn't thought of calling the babysitter since she was always available. However when I dropped daughter off, she happened to have a doctor's appointment in the morning. All praise be to Allah SWT, she called her friend to help look after my daughter until she came back from the doctor's office.

I told the 2nd grade students about the teacher's illness when I saw them. To start the day on a positive note, I told them that if they were to put on their best behavior, I would let them have extra 5 minutes at the playground. I also told them that if they continue with good behavior, I would play a game with them at the end of the day. All praise be to Allah SWT, the students impressed me by cooperating with one another and reminding those who forgot about class expectations. As promised, I let them have extra playground time and played Charade with them at the end of the day. Although I have also put students on time out as they did not chose to follow directions despite repeated warnings, I gave everyone shining stickers as I reminded them of their good qualities e.g. helpfulness, willing to share, raised hands to answer questions etc. I told them that we are all human, and we are prone to make mistakes. As long as we sincerely repent and not make the same mistakes again, we will be rewarded for our efforts. I want the students to see that we are not 100% bad, and we can make intelligent and positive choices to affect the outcome of our lives. I hope that Allah SWT willing they will put this into practice as often as possible in their lives.

October 13, 2008

10 Secrets to Help Your Children Cope with Financial Crisis

Found this informative article about helping our children learn to cope with the economy's financial crisis. I learnt new techniques to communicate with my daughter on this subject topic.

According to the article, "The parents’ constant conflicts, irritability and hostile exchanges over money matters was what greatly increased the likelihood of their children's emotional and behavior problems.[ii] The parents’ constant stress over their money matters also reduced their parenting abilities so the kids’ problems remained with them through adulthood."

Ten parenting secrets to help children cope with financial crisis

1. Don't hide the truth
For a young child: “Daddy and Mommy are a little worried about work right now but we’re doing what we can so everyone will be all right.” For an older child: “I know you’ve heard about how bad the economy is right now. Things will be tight at home for a while but we’re working hard to try to make it through this.” If you are about to lose your home, job, etc. make sure you are the one to tell your child.

2. Acknowledge your worry
Begin with a simple: “I know you’ve noticed that Dad and I have been upset lately, so we wanted to let you know what’s going on.” Your child may not seek you out, so go to your child.

3. Keep an open dialogue
Be there to set them straight about the facts and tone down those doom and gloom reports. You can also ask, “What have you heard?” or, “What are your friends saying?” By the way, a big concern for tweens in particular is what their friends will say about your family’s financial situation. Let your kids know they are not alone. Foreclosures are everywhere. Unemployment has never been this high. There are other kids who are suffering as well.

4. Set a budget
Sit down with your kids and explain that you need to cut back. Don’t go into details about your finances. Instead, explain that you need to set a budget. Enlist your kids to help you prioritize your spending. It’s a great way to teach financial planning.

5. Reduce conflict
Studies show that during tough economic times the constant parental conflicts cause kids the most emotional damage. Set a "no yelling" policy.

6. Stick to routine
Sticking to a routine helps reduce worries because it boosts predictability and security. During tough times those routines are crucial for kids.

7. Monitor the news
Limit viewing those stressful news stories or better yet, turn the TV off during the news hour.

8. Reduce stress as a family
Whenever you’re upset take a few deep breaths or walk away until you can get back in control. But also find no-cost ways to reduce stress as a family. Meditate with your kids, do yoga with your daughter, ride bikes with your preschooler, listen to relaxation tapes with your kids. Not only will you reduce your stress but you’ll also help your kids learn healthy ways to minimize theirs.

9. Tune into your child and ask for help
Watch for stress signs or behaviors that are not typical for your child. Enlist a relative or friend who cares about your child to spend a bit more time with him.

10. Offer hope
Kids are resilient and what they need most is reassurance that you will make it through this together. Stay honest, “I don’t know how things will turn out, but I’ll do absolutely possible.” Above all, give your kids a message of hope, “Whatever happens, we’re together.” When all is said and done that really is what matters most.

Cycling @ River Legacy Park

Yesterday morning husband suggested cycling at a park. All praise be to Allah SWT the weather was good and it was not as windy as Saturday. So we loaded up two folding bicycles, roasted ribs that I prepared earlier, and got snacks and drinks from Whole Foods Market .

There are several informational displays about animals and insects that live in the park's secluded areas. I was surprised to see that the vulture is one of them.

It tooks us about 2 hours to cycle along a 4 miles long path in the park. Daughter, who was in a carrier on husband's bike, kept calling to me and husband had to try to keep her from getting off the bike to look for me.
Along the way we saw these cute little bird houses perched on a metal pipe. This is really the effort of the nature conservationists who want to play a part in helping animals that live among us. I would imagine that after flying miles and miles to look for food, it would be nice for the birds to "check in" these free "bird motels" for a rest before taking off again.
We had lunch at the park before heading home. I was exhausted after cycling for 2 hours and took a nap immediately when we reached home. Guess I'll have to build up my stamina so that I'm in a better shape for cycling.

October 11, 2008

Lake Ray Hubbard, Texas

This morning husband said he wants to go a park with daughter and me. Before we left, I suggested having lunch at the Noodle Wave Thai Halal Restaurant We ordered Thai Ice Tea, Thai Chicken Satay, Thai Shrimp Curry with Rice and Jungle Basil Beef. The Chicken Satay tasted really good and daughter loves to eat it. We also enjoyed the curry dish but found the beef dish too spicy.

At about 1pm we headed to Lake Ray Hubbard in the City of Rowlett for fishing. Husband set up a tent for me and daughter to rest inside while he tried fishing.

Unfortunately it was too windy and daughter starts to have running nose. So at around 3pm we decided to head home to let her get some rest.


Projects for Youth

Nowadays, my head is full of ideas to organize youth activities for the Muslims in this community. I firmly believe that our youngsters need to know a set of life skills to survive on their own. I was fortunate enough to learn important skills like sewing, cooking in Home Economics classes during secondary school. Studies also shown that people who know how to cook tend to eat better and make better choices for their health sake. So now I'm on a quest to find lesson plans for youth activities.

Greetings from UK

Received an email from a secondary school classmate, SC this morning. Glad to hear from her and find out about her whereabouts. Hope that she is doing well in UK now.

October 10, 2008

A Reader is a Winner

Today I subbed for the English/Language Arts teacher, Sr. EB as she needed to attend an online training in the computer lab. Since my schedule started at 10am, I went to volunteer with a kindergarten teacher, Sr. BA. All praise be to Allah SWT I had fun spending time with the kinder kids. I read two stories to them and they enjoyed my storytelling. After that, I helped Sr. Brenda to supervise them during the Math and English test. For Math, the students were supposed to be able to write number 1 to 25. For English, they are supposed to be able to write the alphabet letters in lowercase. I was surprised when I heard from Sr. BA that they have learnt these lessons for 3 weeks already, yet I noticed that some of them were having difficulty with these tests. Apparently those who did well were due mainly to parental involvement. Those students whose parents revised homework and read to them tend to do well. Sr. BA said that some of the students received additional help from the librarian every morning, and that have helped to improve their reading skills tremendously.

I am convinced that I must help my daughter learn to read as early as possible so that she can be successful in her studies. And to do that, I must help her to establish the habit of reading as early as possible by becoming her role model. Allah SWT willing I hope that I can achieve this goal.

October 09, 2008

Library Makeover Part 2

All praise be to Allah SWT this morning went to clean up the mosque library with daughter again. Before I left I told myself that I should take some pictures for documentary purpose but forgot to do so again. May have to pin a sticky note to my forehead to remind myself next time.

Last night bought a roll of jungle print decorative paper to cover one side of the wall. Also bought a roll of decorative borders for the white board. Another side of the wall has cork all over it, so I used push pins to put up maps of the states of Arkansas, Maryland and downtown Chicago as decoration. The next task is to get rid of 12 computers in the room. I really need to counter space to display books and use it for group projects. Have to talk to the Islamic weekend school principal about it this Saturday.

I'm thinking of starting a library club to provide a forum for teenagers to hang out and discuss about issues that affect them. I started working on a new blog to archive interesting lesson plans that tie in Islamic teachings for the library club. Will have to talk to the mosque Imam about my plan and see what ideas I can get from him to develop club activities, Allah SWT willing.


Note: I got this email from a dear friend, Huixian, and it is really funny! Thanks a bunch, Huixian!

To get the full effect, this should be read aloud. You will understand what 'tanjewberrymuds' means by the end of the conversation. This has been nominated for the best email of 2007.

The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service, at a hotel in Asia, which was recorded and published in the Far East Economic Review:

Room Service (RS): "Morrin. - Roon sirbees."
Guest (G): "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."
RS: " Rye ..Roon sirbees..morrin! Jewish to oddor sunteen??"
G: "Uh..yes.I'd like some bacon and eggs.."
RS: "Ow July den?"
G: "What??"
RS: "Ow July den?...pryed, boyud, poochd?"
G : "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them?Sorry, scrambled please."
RS: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"
G: "Crisp will be fine."
RS : "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"
G: "What?"
RS:"An toes. July Sahn toes?"
G: "I don't think so."
RS: "No? Judo wan sahn toes??"
G: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."
RS: "Toes! toes!...Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?"
G: "English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine."
RS: "We bodder?"
G: "No...just put the bodder on the side."
RS: "Wad! ?"
G: "I mean butter...just put it on the side."
RS: "Copy?"
G: "Excuse me?"
RS: "Copy...tea...meel?"
G: "Yes. Coffee, please, and that's all."
RS: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin w bodder on sigh and copy....rye??"
G: "Whatever you say."
RS: "Tenjewberrymuds."
G : "You're very welcome."

October 08, 2008

Quotations about Motherhood

"Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible."
- Marion C. Garretty

"The phrase "working mother" is redundant." - Jane Sellman

"The future destiny of a child is always the work of the mother." - Napoleon Bonarparte

"A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest." - Irish Proverb

"Paradise lies underneath the feet of your mother." (Ibn Majah, Sunan, Hadith no. 2771)

Koran in English Translation:
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (your final) Goal. But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (And consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the End the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that you did.” (Surah Luqman: 14-15)


Library Makeover Part I

This morning I went to the Dar Al Huda mosque to clean up the library. I brought my daughter along and I tried to give her some books to look at and snacks (fruits + juice) to keep her from getting cranky. I've also brought some books that husband and I no longer read to the library. The library was previously used for computer classes, so there are about 9-10 computers that take up two sides of the wall in the room. There was a pile of books kept in a box, with a 21" computer monitor stacked on top of them, at a corner. All praise be to Allah SWT two metal shelves are already set up in the room, so I stacked the books neatly on the shelves.

The most surprising find in the storage cabinet is a bunch of Christianity materials previously used by a sunday school. I have no idea how they end up here, but I'm really interested to find out. Christians and Jews are considered to be People of the Book as "they recognize the God of Abraham as the one and only god, as the Muslims do, and they practice revealed faiths based on Divine ordinances, tolerance and autonomy is accorded to them in societies governed by Sharia (Islamic divine law)". (source: Anyway, I put them aside so that I can remind myself to ask the Islamic weekend school principal about it.

Last night it occurred to me that the mosque can also function as a community learning center apart from a place of worship. So I asked husband about it and he confirmed that this is the case for the mosque in Cambodia. He said he practically grew up in the mosque and every community activity takes place in the mosque. With this in mind, I have a plan. Allah SWT willing, I intend to make myself available to the community as the mosque's Resident Librarian. Whoever has a question about anything e.g. how to repair cars, how to file taxes, how to repair a roof etc. can come to me and I will try to provide the answers. Praise be to Allah SWT since I have the education background and experience, I should provide a service that can benefit the community. This will also help me to keep up with the field of librarianship.

Now the only problem is how to keep my daughter busy while I'm "working" in the library.

Motivation is a powerful tool

Yesterday I subbed for the 3rd grade teacher who teaches reading, math and science. The last time I subbed for her, students did not get to play the game "Pass the Chicken" as they needed repeated reminders to follow directions. This time, they almost lost the chance too. Initially I gave them six chances to earn the game, but several of them got carried away during group activity. Despite repeated warnings, they did not follow directions. So I cancelled their chance to play the game and they looked like it was the end of the world. (One of the students' older brother played this game when I subbed in his class told him about it and said it was a lot of fun.)

I don't believe in ending the day in a negative way, but I want to show them that they need to earn the game. So I gave them one last chance to follow directions. All praise be to Allah SWT, somehow my willingness to give them a chance to redeem themselves and their motivation to play the game worked. Although the game lasted only 5 minutes due to time constraint, they had fun playing it. I told them that if I sub in their class next time, I'll let them play the game longer if they earn it.

I think I'll use this strategy on my daughter when it comes to getting her to help out with house chores when she's older... (hehehe...)

October 07, 2008

Connection with An Old Friend

Today received an email from another secondary school classmate XAL. Really happy that she and family are doing well in Singapore. Since her given name is the same as my dear sister and we got along well in school, I always feel a connection with her. I remember both of us attending choir practices on Saturdays together (yes, I do sing...), hanging out with seniors during the Chinese Cultural Society meetings (they had really cool and fun meetings) and playing table tennis (yes, I was a pre-professional athlete then...). We also happened to live in the same neighbourhood then, so some times I would hang out at her place. I'm so thankful that we are in touch again after all these years.

October 06, 2008

New Found Long Lost Friend

Recently I've started to correspond with a secondary school classmate, CZ, and I'm thankful for her dedication to email me. I've not been keeping in touch with anyone else in Singapore other than my family and a classmate from junior college, so I am really glad to hear from CZ. Since we've lost touch for about 20 years, we have a lot of catching up to do.

I Love Math!

Today I subbed for the high school math teacher as she attends a workshop off campus. On the way to school, there were 2-3 car accidents and traffic was slow as people wants to see what happened. I just hope and pray that no one was seriously injuried. Daughter was calling out "careful!" all the time, so I was on super high alert while driving.

For math classes I gave out Algebra I and II worksheets. It started raining heavily in the wee hours. Oh boy... those questions sure bring back good old memories of me working hard on solving ten-year-series GCE 'O' Level math questions. Back in secondary school days, my math scores were always pretty bad. I've never seen a number that is higher than 50 on my test papers from secondary 1 to 4... until my mother made me study hard (solve lots and lots of math questions) during secondary 4. All praise be to Allah SWT I had a really good teacher, Ms. Irene Tan, who was patient and provided detail step-by-step instructions to solve math questions. All thanks to my mother and .Ms Tan, I got A2 for my GCE ' O' Level math, and grew to love this subject. This proves that hard work, plus good teachers, plus parental involvement are key ingredients to a student's success. I'm just thrilled to sub for the high school math class because I have the chance to work on those questions too!

October 04, 2008

Volunteering is a good thing

This morning husband went cycling with daughter while I went to the Dar Al Huda Masjid ( to see if I can volunteer there as a weekend Islamic school staff. All praise be to Allah SWT I spoke to the principal, Br. Khalid, and he was very supportive of my decision to help out there. I told him about my job history at the Islamic School of Irving ( as a Librarian and I am interested to set up the masjid's library for kids. After I came home, I told husband that the masjid needs someone to set up the library and he agrees that it will be great for me to help out there. Since there is about 70 kids currently enrolled in the weekend school, the kids will enjoy having a comfortable and cozy library in the masjid. Other than weekends, I intend to work on the library during weekdays when I am not subbing at the school. Allah SWT willing I can utilize my skills and experience to help the community.

October 02, 2008

I can finally sleep well at night....

Husband had a doctor's appointment this morning. We decided to bring daughter along to the doctor's clinic. Turn out that he has a lymph node inflammation near his groin. Praise be to Allah SWT he has no running nose, sore throat and fever. So his doctor prescribed him an antibiodies medicine and told us that its nothing to be worry about.

After one week of worrying about this medical condition, I can finally sleep well at night. When he first told me about it, I kept bugging him to see a doctor. I just told him that if he is having a terminal disease of some sort, I need to know so that I can prepare to pack my belongings and bring our daughter back to Singapore with me if anything happens to him. Since we have no family in the United States, naturally I will not stay here to raise my daughter by myself. I'm just relieved that he is going to be alright, Allah SWT willing.

October 01, 2008

Bon Eid / Eid ul-Fitr / 尔德节快乐 / Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Yesterday was the day to celebrate the end of the fasting month for our nearby Muslim community. We went to the Dar alHuda mosque at about 8am to pray. While there, I met a first grade homeroom teacher,Sr. Basira, from the school where I am subbing. She has three sons-a 10 year old, a 8 year old and a almost 2 year old (in November, Allah SWT willing). Since there is no school of this whole week, I invited her and her kids to visit me and daughter today so that we can get together and chat.

I also met another Muslim sister whose mother is Korean and father is African American. I was so happy to hear that she speaks fluent Korean and cooks Korean food! When I greeted her with "ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo" (Korean for good morning) and told her that I watch Korean drama and eat kimchee (Korean marinated cabbage), she was pleasantly surprised. I am glad that she resides in Arlington, so I gave her my home phone number and asked her to call me so that we can get together to cook Korean food. Mmmmmm, Kimchee, here I come!