Picture
Assalaamu Alaikum and Hello PHKIer's,

Yesterday marked Prince Raj's second month anniversary! Time is flying by so fast and I'm just enjoying his chunkiness! I told you guys I would share his birth story and what better time than the present to do so!

As some of you know that follow me on my personal FB page my contractions had all but stopped and I went past 40 weeks! Finally on June 16, they began to pick up again around 4:30pm!


This was a total bummer since I'd given hubby permission to go to his job located 30 minutes away on the other side of the city.

As the contractions intensified over the span of a few minutes...I began to realize that Siraj was on his way. I called my doctor who told me to get my butt to the hospital after I repeatedly failed to provide her my full name due to pain. My niece then called my husband and told him to come home quick. 

I hobbled upstairs to try to pull myself together and look cute but my water ended up breaking and my "cute" leopard print dress ended up on backwards. We won't talk about the tragic turban that I tied upon my head.

As the minutes ticked by and the contractions worsened, I began to worry that I'd end up having an unintentional home-birth. Luckily, Matt pulled up at 5:00 and I quickly ran out of the house to meet him at the walkway (sans shoes). I know...I know...the horror!

I wasn't sure if we would make it...in fact, I think I begged him to pull over and let me have the baby in the car...I may have also screamed some unpleasantness in his direction in between the humming and singing I did to pass each painful contraction.

After what seemed like an eternity, we pulled up to the hospital at 5:30 pm and I quickly ran inside. At this point I think I forgot everything I knew about labor and began to despair as the pain was almost unbearable. 

I listened in awe as the nurses argued over whether he was coming now or if they had enough time to get me upstairs to a birthing suite. I wanted to scream some unpleasantries at them too but fought to hold my composure.

Argument settled, they wheeled me upstairs and before I could even say epidural....before they could even locate a vein to start an IV, before anyone else had the chance to make it to the hospital, little Siraj made his appearance at 6:09 pm!

I'd successfully lived through two natural births...this last time with an 8lb 10 oz and 21 inch long beast of a newborn, lol. 


 
 
Picture
RAHMA (Reaching All HIV+ Muslims in America) an HIV awareness organization founded by Khadijah Abdullah will be having a fashion show August 16, 2014. 

This charity event is important because the proceeds will help Muslims impacted with HIV; a little served community!


To find out more about the event, continue reading below for the full press release. If you'd like to learn more about the organization do read our interview we conducted with Khadijah a few months ago! 





If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? 


 
 
PictureTotally gave birth the next day.
I'm suppose to be on hiatus right now...yes that means the Prince...Siraj Nasr Cicero has arrived! His birth story was very...very...very exciting and one that I'll share in another post, at a later date. In the meantime, the urgency of writing this one trumps everything else.

Why you ask?

Well, apparently women are our own worst critics! Who knew right? Frankly, I'm tired of being criticized about my appearance or actions postpartum so I figured I'd step back into the classroom for a minute and school some of you on what not to say to a woman who has just given birth.



The top five ignorant statements are as followed. Read them, comprehend them, and vow to never say them again.

1. "Wow, you still look pregnant." Yes I do but miraculously, I'm still smaller than you. Guess what...I just had a freaking baby SEVENTEEN days ago. I went from 130lbs to 170lbs in the space of 9 months. Of course I still have a stomach. I'm sorry I don't have enough low self-esteem to inquire about a tummy tuck. Of course there's always Brazil, but I'm deftly afraid of flying and the way my baby's nursing's schedule set up...yeah...not happening.

2. "You sure look tired." Well, considering that I've slept on my couch for the last two months of my pregnancy, naturally gave birth to a almost 9lb baby, and have to now care for a nursing, pooping, and sleeping machine...I will look a little worse for wear. How about you close your trap and hold the baby while I take a nap? Thanks!

3. "Girl...you need a pedicure." Yes...yes I do. The last one I had was pre-baby. There's my nail polish remover, my favorite bottle of Inglot, and a water basin. I'd like a calf to foot massage with my favorite natural lotion as well. Thank you for the offer.

4. "You should still try to fast for Ramadan." Really? Why is that? Oh, you successfully did it with all of your kids? Well Ma...shaaaaa....Allah sister that's beautiful. Show me where it's mandatory after just having a newborn and nursing? Oh, you can't find it. I didn't think you would. You are not a doctor, please find a seat in an empty stadium.

5. "Omg, you're outside? Both of you should be in the house for a month." Really? I'm not here for any of your old wives tales. If I want to take my kids to the dentist with my new born baby I will. No I'm not pumping and leaving him with a babysitter. Breast is best. Besides, I saw you visited the club the day before Ramadan started: 

Bottom line...mind your business...and if you have nothing nice to say...well you know the old adage...

I know I can't be alone here...what are your postpartum petpeeves? 

Share away below!
 
 
Picture
So The Spirit of Philadelphia is actually a thing. Well, actually more than a thing. It's a former warship turned floating restaurant with prime views of the Philadelphia and Camden waterfront. I had a chance to experience it again for the second time this past Thursday with my 8th grade students.

Boarding the ship was very nostalgic for me as I also went on The Spirit of Philadelphia (TSOP) while in Middle School. In addition, this would be one of the last times I would be with most of my students in an outside setting before I beginning maternity leave.

It started out as a rainy day but cleared up as soon as we were about to board. Not only did the students get to enjoy the views from the outside deck, we also had exceptional service.

Considering that the boat is under new management, I'd have to say that they are doing a great job. The food was good, the staff were ever present, constantly inquiring about our well-being and the DJ (who pulled a matrix move as he performed the wobble) was awesome.

I would definitely recommend the boat for those looking to have a good time while cruising the Schuylkill River!

So what was I wearing?

If you guessed Annah Hariri you'd be right. If you're scratching your head then you need to visit her website here and salivate.

Done?

Good.

Now lets get to this dress! First and foremost, I was suppose to wear The Tobe Abaya to a fashion show back in March which was unfortunately canceled. After settling on going to TSOP a few weeks ago, I knew it would be the perfect occasion to pull it out of the closet.

Considering that it wasn't a terribly hot day and we were by the water, this dress was a perfect choice for an outfit. Made out of Scuba Jersey it was extremely breathable, very comfortable and kept me warm.

Picture
The dress.
Picture
The face. Hijab-ista Hijab.
The design of the dress (it opens in the front) was perfect for my enlarged belly though the fact that it was widened a bit around the midsection to accommodate the bump also helped. The all white abaya with black trimming also gave a more slimming affect which I loved.So what about the logistics of ordering? It was a very easy process! To ensure that I received my dress on time, the AH team (who were super courteous) express shipped it from Dubai. It literally arrived a few days after ordering was complete. 

This purchase falls under one of my most pleasant and easiest orders to date and I sincerely recommend you consider patronizing this awesome brand!

To order click here, the price is currently $149!
Picture
The other chaperons Ekram and Hanan...aren't they cuties?!
 
 
Picture
This will probably be one of the few times I actually share my little ones photos on the blog but I'm so very proud of their accomplishments (MashaAllah) and I certainly didn't want to ruin the photos by blurring or hiding their faces :)

In any case, on April 27, 2014, I attended the Alimah Scout's Muslim Youth Awards Banquet held at the H & H community center located in West Oaklane.

This was my second year in attendance but this year I was really looking forward to going because I'd actually entered the kids in a few of the contest categories!


The theme of this year's Awards was giving back in the form of community service. Since both of my children love to draw, I knew they would love to participate in the Artistic Category and what better topic to draw inspiration from than depicting service to others! My daughter created a school with a student maintained garden attached, while my son drew a picture of a rocket in space to depict "giving back" to humanity via science. 

Both have also maintained excellent grades while being members of the Junior Sonics Ice Hockey Team this school year. I wasn't sure if they would win for their academics, but regardless, it was important to me that they see how important and valued education was in our community.

The banquet kicked off with a child led dua and dinner of fried fish, macaroni & cheese, string beans, fried chicken, rice, and baked chicken. As guests were served their dinner by the young girls and boys who participate in the Alimah and Jawalah Scouts organizations, the first of the awards were announced.

My daughter beamed from ear to ear as she took home the top prize in the Artistic category. She would also go on to win 2nd place in Athletic Achievement for grades K-4. Her brother, who was initially bummed about not winning anything (read jealous) placed 3rd in Athletic Achievement, 1st in Scholastic Achievement for maintaining straight A's the entire school year and 3rd in Islamic Studies. However, towards the end of the night, his frown turned upside down as he was announced as the recipient of the Distinguished Student Award which came with a brand new shiny green bike! 

Awards ceremonies like these are necessary in the community because far too many of our youth take their studies for granted. I used the Banquet as a teachable moment as well on issues of working hard and displays of jealousy. I've always taught them that working hard for their education is very important even if the reward is intangible outside of grades. 

In addition, it was the perfect time to explain to them that being jealous of someone else's accomplishments, especially when they are family, is not Islamic. A timely lesson, as they both displayed disappointment about the other's trophies and awards. Indeed, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) warned against envy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood." [Abu Dawood] While the talk certainly stopped the verbal complaints, their facial expressions didn't improve much. Yet, I have a feeling that inshaAllah, it's a lesson they'll recall later in life should they feel the tinges of jealousy again.


 
 
PictureAuthor Zara J
Novels about Muslim(s) protagonists are on the rise thanks to authors like Zara J. 

Having made her mark in Urban Fiction, she's embarked on a career in Islamic Fiction.

Enter her first novel, Dowry Divas a story about finding love while being Muslim in the US.



The book signing party was held on April 20, 2014 at the Urban Art Gallery a very eclectic venue in the heart of West Philly. My sister, niece, little cousin and I all attended and enjoyed the light refreshments which included strawberry lemonade in cocktail glasses, fresh shrimp and my favorite craving, crackers and cheese. The sounds of Noorah Islam's debut album "Heart of a Muslim" played soothingly in the background.

After mixing and saying hello to familiar faces like Munazza of M'Squa2red Fashunz, Radiyyah, and Noorah we settled in for a beginning discussion of dowries as women shared their experiences and expectations. Next, Zara J was introduced to the crowd and she began to tell us the inspiration behind her book before reading an excerpt from it.


 
 
Picture
Soooooo....I was minus one kid for the Muslim Youth Awards Banquet which you can read about here! Hubby went to Albany, NY to visit family and took our littlest one with him. Without having to worry about dressing a third bambino I used that time to pay a little extra attention to myself.

Some of you are like huh? Lol But pregnant moms with multiple children feel my pain. You spend so much time getting all of the kids ready and doing their hair that you hardly have time for yourself. I usually end up with 30 minutes or less to get ready and head out the door!

Not this time though! Nope, it would be different with S3 and the hubster miles away!



You see, I've been feeling even more BLAH than usual lately and I was determined to get super jazzy and pull out my pearls from Chic N' Trendy boutique for the event! Yes, not only am I wearing a necklace...I also have the matching earrings on...I know...I know swanky!

The dress is from Macy's (pre-maternity and so glad I could still fit it!), the bag is from just fab, and my little red, flat shoes peeking out ever so slightly is from Payless. 

I think I have one more get fancy event in me, and it will be courtesy of my students 8th grade graduation trip on the Spirit of Philadelphia. After that, I'm retiring to sweats, flip flops, and a turban...because when you're 9 months pregnant in the summer it's the only way to roll.

Anyways, what are your thoughts and comments on attending events so late in pregnancy? What have you worn? Let us know in the comments below.

 
 
PictureCourtesy of Sisters Magazine







This letter written for my sons is very near and dear to me. I'm pleased to have it published in Sister's Magazine in its entirety. If you'd like to read it in full, please feel free to purchase the May Edition (available soon) in digital form here or printed form here. In addition, do consider a subscription to this magazine. It constantly features diverse issues/topics pertinent to the Muslim community globally. You will not be disappointed.


I’m sure you will have no idea what I’m talking about, but when you get older it will make perfect sense. I am writing this letter to you now in case I forget to tell you this later in life or never make it to see you blossom into the man I hope you will be someday.


You were born into Islam, a religion that I chose for myself. Unfortunately, our religion has become synonymous with male chauvinism and the oppression of women. While these generalisations are not fair, they are fairly accurate in describing some men of the Muslim faith.

While I would love for patriarchy to be outdated, the reality is that in mommy’s time it’s more prevalent than ever and in very real and tangible ways. Women are still paid less than their male counterparts and currently women only helm about 22% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies.
On a microcosmic scale, Muslim women are facing abuse, unequal mosque facilities, unequal access to education and disproportionately low marriage prospects once they reach a certain age or have been married before. With all of these prevalent issues, including corruption, hunger and lack of knowledge, pervading the community, surprisingly, the debate constantly returns to hijab and what Muslim women are and aren’t doing with their bodies.

So son, here are a few things that I want you to understand and implement when it comes to associating with or discussing women and in particular Muslim women.

1. You do not control women’s bodies. You are in control of your body only and even that is on loan to you from Allah I.

2. Muslim women, no - women period - were not put here for your amusement and enjoyment. Allah says that, like you, women were created to worship him: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (Adh-Dhariyat:56).

3. Muslim women do not wear hijab for you, they wear it for Allah I. In addition, modesty and proper covering is prescribed upon you as well: “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember” (Al-’Araf:26).

4. Education of women in all of its forms is essential to Muslim women and their deen! This goes without saying as by the time you read this you will have known three highly educated women, myself and your two sisters insha Allah, yet still it bears listing here. The Prophet Muhammad r said, “Acquisition of knowledge is binding on all Muslims”. (Narrated by Ibn Maja in al-Sunan, 1:81 §224.) There is no need to mention the numerous hadith where women were present and asked questions of the Prophet Muhammad I in order to acquire knowledge.

5. If your sisters ever get reprimanded by us for staying out later than usual and we did not extend this same courtesy to you please remind us of this letter; we shall immediately rectify the situation and both of you will be grounded post-haste. Indeed, women were created from one soul as its mate and there is no inferiority inherently created in this process. Allah says, “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer” (An-Nisa:1).

 
 
Picture


So I wanted to share with you guys some of the photos from the "Philly Welcomes Nadira" Meetup that was held 3/23/2014 at The Shops at Liberty Place! I apologize for the late post but I was waiting on the photographer's who besides being busy snapping more photos,  have to take the time to edit the ones taken previously and watermark them. That's a long process in and of itself. 

I'm sooo pleased with how these came out as they really capture our meetup. It was very inspirational and full of positive vibes. I can't wait to share more with you! 

I've also shared a few from my personal stash. I didn't get a chance to take many but those marked with a PHKI watermark are from inferior camera. I'll be posting the information for the photographer's momentarily!


 
 
PictureKimono Style!
Whew! 

This pregnancy has been so very different than my other three! I've been introduced to symptoms that I'd never thought possible!

In addition, working full time as a teacher has been so difficult as I struggle to remain my perky, engaged, and goofy self while feeling like crap all morning long! 

My students are my motivation as I never want to half step and give them less than what they've come to expect. I know that my high energy, jokes, voice impersonations, and rapping makes history, writing, and learning so much more engaging and easy to stomach (no pun intended). 

So I try to soldier through but it has been a challenge and I thoroughly look forward to my fast approaching maternity leave. It's time to focus on baby and I...sadly I haven't given much thought to nursery or aqiqah planning. Hopefully, I'll have more than enough time to figure it all out! In the meantime, take a peek at some of my OOTD's from the past couple of weeks!

Picture
The Hubs photo-bombed me!!
Picture
Post Cheesecake Factory Awfulness!
Picture
Eighth Month Belly!
Picture
Caffeine Fix!
In other news, I've been wanting to share the results of my DNA test with you guys as it was so enlightening in so many ways. Like most African Americans with deep roots in the South (my maternal grandmother hails from North Carolina and Virginia), I grew up listening to how our family was mixed with Native and White American. In addition, because I didn't know much about my African heritage, my interest has always been piqued in my genetic makeup. Thanks to my Aunt Marie (hubby's aunty) I was gifted the opportunity to be able to find out what my DNA was through ancestry.com.

My results were very surprising and elicited a VERY funny reaction from Matt (hubby) that I dare not share here. Due to the above stories that I recounted to him and my own kids, we were under the impression that my results would be much more...should I say diverse, well that couldn't be further from the truth!

It's amazing as I recall a time when an African woman stopped me and asked where I was from. Slightly bewildered, I finally replied, "America". Finding that answer unsatisfactory, she then clarified by asking where in Africa I was from. I told her I had no idea as my family were slaves. She then told me that I reminded her of the people in Cameroon and that I should try to find out one day. Fast forward almost 12 years later and her words would ring oh so true!

So without further ado here are my results:
The above I found shocking...in the words of someone who shall not be named, "Dang you're Black as hell!" Yes, yes I am. Despite not expecting these results, I'm nonetheless elated! I get giddy just thinking about the possibility that I'm related to Mansa Musa, hey my Mali peoples! Lol!
Totally surprised that the Native American DNA is almost non-existent and that the European DNA that does exist is from Eastern Europe and Ireland (seriously, how the HECK did that happen?). Also Central Asia? Mind blown.

I guess it's official, my kids are truly global citizens of the earth as my husband's recent DNA is just as diverse, perhaps more so than mine (India? Seriously). I guess that's why no one can guess what the heck he is, ha!

Anyways, have you had your DNA done or will you be doing it in the near future? Let me know in the comments below!