So the first days of Ramadan have passed…. How is it going so far? For me it is going fine. I have developed a routine and we are so blessed… the weather is great. It has been raining and it hasn’t been too hot which is remarkable for this time of year in Istanbul. What is my routine till now? I wake up at 2.30 to eat Sahur, which is prepared by my husband most of the time. Then I stay up till sabah namaz and go to sleep after that. I wake up just in time to get ready and take the service bus to school. After I come home from school I’m pretty tired, but till now I managed not to take a nap. I do my reading. I try to read Quran and some pages in an Islamic book. At 6-7 o’clock I start cooking depending on what we are eating. We try to keep our food modest. We aren’t that hungry in any case and we don’t like to throw away food. Around 20.50 it is time for iftar. After iftar I pray with my husband and after that he leaves to go to tarawee. I stay at home and wait for the last namaz after which I go to sleep. So those were my first days of Ramadan. I wish you all a blessed Ramadan. Don’t forget to take a look at my other Ramadan posts: Ramadan journal and kids and Ramadan.
A question I see a lot in different facebook groups is how to teach our children about Ramadan. So here my view on kids and Ramadan. Of course children are not obligated to fast. However when they are 5-6 years old, you could start with candy fasting. The principal is simple you educate your kids about Ramadan and tell them that this month they will not get any candy or cookies during the day or only one. (Set your own boundaries you know your kids best). Older kids can start by fasting half a day or with these long days a quarter of the day. Every day that they succeed they get a little toy, a special treat, 50cent, a star on the star sheet,… again you know best what will work for them. Sometimes eating with the grown up when it is iftar time or going to the mosque with dad or mom is already a treat for the kids. Make a countdown calendar, if you Google or you go on pinterest you will find some great ideas.
Now that’s the fasting part, but what about the other things the Islamic part, which is in my opinion the most important part. First and for all make it fun. Do an Islamic craft every day with them. I love these at Karima’s craft but you can easy Google some other once. You can make a small gallery for them to present their work or you can make the crafts into presents to give at eid/bayram.
Set some goals that you will work on everyday learning new soerah, reading Arabic, learn some of the names of Allah,.. Don’t set the goals to high and again make them visible put them somewhere so that the child can see which goals they achieved. Make a star chart. Reward them for each achieved goal. I hear you think oh but this will be very expensive 2 children 30 days already 2 rewards no no no no that’s impossible. You can be inventive about it… you could make some sort of thermometer for everything they achieve they can color 1 mark and if they have 10 marks they get a small toy, 20 some special crafts material, 30 a big toy,… full a special trip to a zoo or an amusement park after Ramadan. This way they learn how to work for a goal they want to achieve.
Think about good deeds. Make a list of 30 good deeds (yes some things can be done twice). You can find lists online, but think about things like give water to stray dogs, visit elderly people in the local retirement home, give food to the poor, donate some old (but still good) toys, smile all day (it is sunnah after all),… After you made your list, cut it into smaller papers, you put all the things in a bag and every day your child takes a paper and does what is on the list or you can plan all of the deeds in advance and put them on the calendar.
Reading moment… why not read to your child once a day for a few minutes a story about our prophets, a story about the life of Mohammed pbuh or just a story with a moral (nassretin hoca for example), not only will they learn something, but most children also love listening to stories.
Also decorate the home and make Ramadan into a fun month. Teach your kids this way to love Ramadan.
I hope you like my kids and Ramadan ideas. If you have any other advice please do share.
Today is moving day. In Turkey that can be done really fast. We decided on a house on Friday/Saturday, my husband called the moving truck on Saturday and arranged electricity and gas on Monday. We aren’t moving to another city, but we are moving in Istanbul which is also a hassle.
Once you find an apartment, it can go very fast providing that it is empty. You sign a contract, pay the emlak (real estate company) and the deposit and you can move. Most landlords ask 2 months deposit, but they often are open to negotiation and often settle with 1 month. Normally the emlak fee is 10% of the contract but they often settle for 1 month or even a bit less depending on your negotiating skills.
Arranging electricity and gas is a hassle in Istanbul. You have to go to the electricity and gas company in your area, tell them that you leave so they can pay back the deposit on your account a few months later. Then you go to the electricity and gas company of the new area, pay a deposit and let them (re)connect the electricity. Water is arranged by the site manager so in this case we didn’t have to do anything. Internet will still need to be arranged so it might take some time before I’m back online at home.
We packed everything over the weekend and while I’m at work my husband will move everything insh’allah. I hope it goes smoothly. I think it is great to move this way. I left the house this morning and will go to my new home this evening insh’allah. This also means that the service bus will know where to pick me up.
Although I loved my old house, I didn’t like it’s location at all. The area was dangerous and dirty. We had a few protests and heavy riots. Last months I started to feel less and less safe. The security wasn’t doing their work properly and often I had somebody at my door to deliver a package while I didn’t order anything which is fishy if you ask me. I also didn’t know anybody nearby not even my next door neighbor. We found another apartment in a safer area. The apartment is smaller but the area is nicer. I have friends living in walking distance. The area is also much greener. I hope I will be happy there. This time I didn’t have a hard time saying goodbye to my old home. Which was a bit different last time. Last time it was my first home in Istanbul although we only lived there for 1 year it was a bit hard to pack up and go. This time we leave after a bit over 2 years and it feels like it is time to move on.
I have made my Ramadan journal again. I hope they will be useful for you. May Allah help us and accept our fasting. Amien. If you have any advice or you see errors please don’t hesitate to let me know so that I can adjust the document.
English: Ramadan Preparation Kit 2015
Nederlands: Ramadan Voorbereidings Kit 2015
I’m furious about a comment on m6 blog. An anonymous comment with a fake email address. The person must be a big coward else he or she wouldn’t be afraid to post such a thing in their own name. The troll responded to my coloring for adults post. No I didn’t keep the comment I was so furious I deleted it. However basically it said that coloring is for children. My technique sucks. I must be color blind cause I use awful colours. Oh and I select childish drawings. I must say yes succes good for you you succeeded in hurting my feelings and piss me off. However you didn’t break me nor did you make me stop coloring. I’m actually more determined and it make me finish another childish drawing. You’re not that important.
On this mother’s day not an ode to my mother although she does deserve one. No I want to talk about being a mother without a child. I feel like that. Being pregnant loosing a child or more then one in my case makes this a bit of a painful day. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy for all my friends who are blessed with wonderful children, but mother’s day always reminds me of the babies I’ve lost. I love children and I want my own kids, but sadly it isn’t looking good. Fertility treatments are simply too expensive for us so we will just wait for another miracle. The confrontation with mother’s day is hard. If only this was me is something that comes in mind frequently. I hope that this year I will be strong enough and not break down in tears all day. Never the less I wish all the mothers among my readers and especially my own mother a very special and blessed mother’s day.
Last week I spend a weekend in Belgium. My sister threw a surprise party for my mum and I wanted to be there.
On Thursday I had a flight to Belgium and it was a terrible. Although in general I’m very happy flying with THY this time leaving gave me so much stress that I was ill all weekend. First we almost couldn’t check in on time due to enormous queues. My sweet husband managed to check me in in the end at the supervisor desk. Then I had to go through passport control. The guy studied my passport for a long time while I only had 15 minutes to get to the gate. The board already said going to gate so I thought they were already boarding. Which wasn’t the case… I waited almost 2h at the gate. We left 1h late without any explanation given and the plane was dirty. Anyway I got to Belgium safely and went outside to look for my mum. She was driving around and I saw her pass me so I ran after the car shouting. Luckily some guy saw me running so he signaled her so she finally stopped. I guess it must have looked very funny.
On the first of May I went to the zoo with my friends. I didn’t see some of them for years and others I only met online. I had a great time and really enjoyed the company of my friends. The weather was wonderful and enjoyed walking around and seeing all the animals. I must say that due to constructions the zoo became really really small, but I still walked around for almost 4h. Afterward I went to eat a nice real halal burger at a place called Medina burger and then I took the train back home to Londerzeel.
On Saturday we first did some shopping (my mum already bought most of the things on my list in the week before) and then I slept a while before getting ready for the surprise party. My mum thought that we just were going on a little boat ride and then eat at a nice restaurant. Little did she know that the whole family would be present. She was so surprised mash’allah. My sister did a great job organizing it all and she tried to include me as much as possible even though that wasn’t easy. She also made sure there always was something to eat for me. In each course there was a fish dish and the appetizer was mainly fish. It was nice to see all of my family again. Some family members I hadn’t seen for more then 3 years. We talked until late in the evening and we weren’t home till past 12 o’clock.
On Sunday I woke up and got ready at 4h30 (yes in the morning) and my mum drove me to the airport. The check in went really smooth. The only problem I had was the area behind the passport control… they changed it and now you have to walk through a cloud of perfume due to the new set up of the shops (there are no shops it is just 1 big shop now). I’m allergic to most of the perfume so I gasped for air when I was halfway through only to be jumped upon by a sales clerk to ask which perfume I wanted to try. I literally ran. The bookshop also disappeared and was replaced by a newspaper stand with a very limited selection of books unfortunately. All in all I was at the gate very quickly and after waiting for a while I finally could enter the plane and fly home. By the time I got home I was tired and ill, but happy to be home. Monday was horrible but I went to sleep as soon as I got home and I’m feeling much better today.
I had a wonderful weekend in Belgium and it was well worth being tired and ill now.
On the 24th of April my wonderful sister in law got married. Her husband’s parents are living in Bolu so they got married there. We wanted to be there as well, but due to the fact that the ministry of education declared the 24th of April a normal school day, we just couldn’t get there on time. We were even too late for the pictures due to the very busy traffic, however we were not to late to meet her new inlaws. Luckily my husband could borrow a car from a friend because else going would habe been impossible. When we finally got there, we had a wonderful dinner together and the next day it was time for some fun…
On Saturday we went picnicking on the families favourite picnic area. We made tea, ate cake and played several games. Passing the ball, jump rope and 9 taş or 9 stones a classic turkish game.
9 taş goes like this: the group was split up into 2 teams. 3 stones were pilled up. Team A needed to throw a ball and make the stones fall down once they did that the game really started. Team B got the ball and had to try to hit people from team A with it. At the same time people from team A tried to get back to the 9 stones and pile them up. When they pile them back up they win but if team B hits all people of team A out then they win. Although it seems easy enough it was very hard and it is a very strategic game that also requires a good condition.
After playing with the whole family, my sweet husband took me, my sil and her husband to Gölcük,a beautiful lake where we walked, talked and took some wonderful pictures. After that we went to pick up the family at the picnic area and we went on our way to our next stop: Düzce.
Mustafa’s aunt and uncle have weekend house there. Mustafa’s parents already went there the previous day and we went there together with the new inlaws. The road was really bad and I was scared to death. Mustafa’s mum made delicious gözleme and after talking the whole evening. My sil and the inlaws went home but we stayed for the night.
The next day we went for a walk because the weather was nice and the environment was beautiful. My husband decided to take of his socks and shoes and to wade in a little stream. After 5 steps he gave up because the mountain water was freezing. His nephew did even better. In summer when there isn’t a lot of water, he drives his bike through it all the time and he wanted to do it this time as well… big mistake halfway through the water was too deep so he tipped over and fell in. Very funny to see. After our walk it was bbq time and we enjoyed a nice meal of köfte and chicken. After dinner we went home and we were vere unlucky with the traffic. The plan was to stop in Sakarya where my friend Y. lives, but it was already so late that we had to skip that. It was maybe for the best, because it was midnight before we got home.
I had a really nice time and hope to go back soon, because there is so much more to see and to do. I hope that we can stop by my friend Y. then.
Last week I had breakfast with a few colleagues in kindergarten and one of them had some really nice cheese with spices. I asked where I could buy it, but she told me she made it herself. So I tried it as well. I bought lor peynir a cheese that doesn’t really has a lot of flavour and is very dry. I think that you could use cottage cheese if you don’t find lor peynir in your local Turkish supermarket. In Turkey they don’t really sell cottage cheese, but on a food group they told me to replace cottage cheese with lor peynir so it should also work the other way around. Then it is very simple. You just bring it to taste with salt, pul biber (spicy dried paprica flakes), kekik (oregano), çörek (nigella seeds) and you add olive oil. Everything to taste especially the olive oil. You can use another oil if you prefer. Keep in mind that the olive oil is to make it moiste because else it will be very, very dry. I actually didn’t know it’s name so I asked on the cooking group and learned that it is probably çökelek peynir. I just call it cheese with spices. On the cooking group they also told me that normally they also add some tomato or pepper paste but I didn’t have that at the time and it tastes great without it in any case. It is very simple and easy to make and very low budget. We just eat it on bread, but maybe I will use it in a borek or in pogaca just to give it a try.