Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Iraqi Bundles of Love

I just found this outreach project that I think others might be interested in. It's called Iraqi Bundles of Love. The idea is that you send a box of sewing supplies or fabric that will get distributed to women in Iraq as a bundle. All of the details are at the Iraqi Bundles of Love website. The basic premise is that we as quilters/knitters/sewing/crafting divas have extras on hand that we may have loved/needed once but don't necessarily love/need now and are willing to share with others or you bought a bit too much of some things Or perhaps you're just feeling extra generous. What you need: a flat rate box from the post office, ribbon to tie the bundle, fabric, yarn, needles-sewing/knitting, thread, elastic, scissors, beads, buttons, anything else you might think of, and $11.95 to ship it to the coordinator. (The coordinator is a soldier in Iraq.) There is a deadline of SEPTEMBER 7. So, please, if you're interested, it's best to do it quickly. To get the mailing address, you have to post a comment somewhere on the Bundles of Love website and he will email you the address.

Just think about how much you like getting packages of sewing/quilty goodness. Now imagine the happiness this could give a woman or girl who is living in financially and environmentally difficult conditions. Sanctions and the war have put a big strain on people there and maybe, a little package like this could brighten their lives a bit. As a note, the timing of this is partially meant to coincide with Ramadan. For muslims, the end of Ramadan (Id al-Fitr) is similar to Christmas in terms of celebration-new clothes are bought or made and gifts are given to the children. Your gift may help a family make the holiday a little brighter for their children.

Thank you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramadan Mubarak/Happy Ramadan

To all of the Muslims out there-Ramadan Mubarak!

For those that do not know what Ramadan is-Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. From dawn until sunset, Muslims (in good health) do not eat or drink anything, not only that they are also supposed to refrain from gossiping, smoking, swearing, lying and sex. (Of those last items, only sex is permissible normally. All of the others, we shouldn't be doing anyway.)

Why abstain from these things? By practicing self-control over things that are normally allowed, i.e. eating and drinking, we can gain control over the areas in our lives where we may have developed bad habits. We also seek a closer relationship to God during this time by striving to read the entire Quran during the month and spending more time reflecting on God. The Quran is broken down into 30 sections, therefore, we aim to read one section per day or approximately 200 verses. We connect with other Muslims by joining them at the masjid/mosque for Iftar (breaking the fast). At the masjid we attend, this is done potluck style and shared with anyone who cares to join us-Muslim or not. We connect with the needy through acts of charity, donating food and/or money to those who are in need.

The timing of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar so the dates move forward about 11 days each year. When I first became a Muslim, it started in Feb. This year, today was the first day of fasting. It's likely to be more difficult fasting this year as well as the next several years, since Ramadan will be during the longest as well as the hottest days of the year, but quite honestly, if the people of the Arabian peninsula could do it for generations without the benefit of air conditioning or any of the other luxuries we take for granted, I'm sure I can manage as well. (Imagine having to walk everywhere in 110 degree or higher heat or cook for hours over an open fire in the same heat.)

There are people who are exempt from fasting-people who have chronic medical conditions that require medication, children who are under the age of puberty, people who are traveling, women who are menstruating and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For these last two reasons, it's been some time since I've fasted. In the last 11 years, I've been pregnant and/or nursing every Ramadan except for one. Needless to say, I'm a little out of practice. I'm going to try fasting this year even though H. is still nursing but since he's almost 2 he doesn't have that much longer for nursing anyway and he mostly nurses at night. As long as I make sure to get up early enough to drink at last a few glasses of juice or water and drink the same or a bit more after Iftar, I should be ok.

The Washington Post had a nice article entitled Better Health Through Fasting, in case you'd like to read more. (Sadly, some of the comments to the article are idiotic at best and hateful, xenophobic at worst.)

The pictures don't really have anything to do with Ramadan. One is a picture of the heavily laden persimmon tree we had in our yard last year in Iran. The other is what was left of a box of pomegranates after the kids had their share. One of our kids favorite things about Iran is the abundance of pomegranates - some sweet, sour or a mix of the two. The light-colored ones are sweet, or possibly have a mix of both sweet and sour seeds and the darker ones are tart/sour. A whole box costs us less than buy just a few here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Batik baby

This is the baby quilt I made for my friend loosely based on Judy's pattern.

Unfortunately, I didn't finish it before she left for Egypt so now I have to figure out some other way of getting it to her. Apparently, the Egyptian postal service charges an arm and a leg for taxes/duties/whatever on items shipped into Egypt. I'm not quite sure how I'll get it to her so we'll just have to see. Looking back on it, I know I could have finished it in time but I kept procrastinating. I hated know that my friend would be so far away and I'd have almost no chance of seeing her anytime soon. So I stalled. Oh, well. I can't change the past. All I can do is have faith that there will be a way for me to get it to her.

The bottom picture shows the backing fabric. The colors in both pictures aren't great but it's the best I can do in our basement.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Luray Caverns

Yesterday we took a group trip to Luray Caverns.

The place is gorgeous. Lots of stunning stalactites and stalagmites with audio tours geared separately for children and adults, a cool little car and carriage museum and a fun garden maze. About half the group got caught in the rain trying to make our way out of the maze. (I got a little wetter than most since I went back in trying to track down two kids-one of mine and one new friend.)

We went with a group of homeschoolers we had never met before and had a blast. The kids made lots of new friends and I made some new friends as well.

I don't have any pictures since I chose not to bring the camera. Keeping track of 5 little ones is challenge enough when your on your own (dh had work) without trying to add picture taking to the mix. Click on the link above to see pictures from their website.

If you're in the area, this is definitely worth the stop. R. was asking when we could go again - before we even left!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


What do you do when you have little ones that really want to be outside playing in their sandbox and a yard full of baby hungry mosquitoes and ticks?

DH came up with a great idea. He put up a tent on our deck and put the sandbox inside on a scrap piece of carpet (to contain the sand mess). The boys love it and have a great time playing in there "quito" free.

The tent also gets used some weekends for mini at-home camp outs. The kids and DH set up a mini TV/VCR, comforters, blankets and pillows and have a great time "camping out".