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Category Archives: Musfira

MashaAllah, Musfira.

So MashaAllah, Musfira is getting taller, cheekier, and slightly wiser every day.  She has taken to gently correcting me and educating me throughout my day, sharing the wisdom of her many years – all three and a half of them – and the result is so adorably awesome that I almost hate disagreeing with her.

We prefer our gween the-matoes fried, actually.

We prefer our gween the-matoes fried, actually.

We went grocery shopping the other day, Musfira shared this timeless gardening tip:

Musfira: Momma, did you know, when the matoes are gween that means they not wipe.

Momma: That’s right, very good!

Musfira: And whena cucumbuzz ah owange, that means they cawwots.

If we're worshipping furniture then this must be the world's holiest ottoman.

If we’re worshipping furniture then this must be the world’s holiest ottoman.

And while standing for prayer, Musfira turned my prayer rug to a different qibla.

Musfira: Here Momma, this izza wight way.

Me: Sweetheart, qibla is this way.

Musfira: You need to pway to the sofa, Momma.

Me: We actually pray toward the Ka’ba dear, in Makkah?

Musfira: Do we? Hmm!

She’s shared lots of wisdom, but half I’ve forgotten and the half has been unprintable as it is usually shared on the toilet, and is usually shared in relation to her bottom. (Apparently your bottom is a pretty funny place when you’re three and a half.)

That’s it for now, I’ve been taking anti-inflammatory meds for my arthritis for three months now, and have been feeling much better overall.  I’ll try to update more often, InshaAllah. 🙂

Must… not… break… salah!

I’m trying to concentrate on prayer, and the following conversation transpires before me:

Musfira: Iman, canna have a cotton candy?

Iman: Musfira, these are cotton balls, not cotton candy.

Musfira: Notta candy?

Iman: No, it’s not candy.  Do you know what this is made of?

Musfira: Cotton?

Iman: No, try again.

Musfira: Umm, cotton?

Iman: (rolls her eyes in big sister exasperation) Musfira, cotton balls are made out of sheep, ok?

And here we see a herd of sheep, grazing peacefully in their natural environment.

And here we see a herd of sheep, grazing peacefully in their natural environment.

Thankfully, I finish my prayer just before this insight into the wonders of nature.  Iman sees me smiling and loses some of her scientific confidence.

Iman: …what?

Me: Cotton balls are made out of cotton dear, not sheep. Sheep make wool, cotton makes cotton.

Iman: Right, hehe.. sorry Musfira.

Dare I say Iman looked… sheepish?

insert rimshot here.

I’m thinking of an animo…

Our lil family has a favorite  game, and the way it’s won is by preserving momma’s sanity with three children and no volume control.  We stick to animals to keep it simple, and a turn always starts with the phrase “I’m thinking of an animal,” followed by three clues.

We play the guessing game during long drives and boring waits, and I am working to slowly introduce concepts like animal families (Is it a primate? A reptile?) and habitats- does it live on land? Underwater? Underground?

Khalid, almost inevitably- is thinking of a dinosaur of some sort.  This is useful- because that’s how we introduced the concept of extinction.   Now, some kids know five or six dinosaurs.  Khalid, on the other hand, knows almost all of them.  Really.  MashaAllah- all of them.  He has memorized almost three encyclopaedias of dinosaurs, so when he’s thinking of an animal with four legs, a tail, and a long neck- he’s not thinking of a giraffe.  He’s thinking of a dipolodocus.  Or a mamenchisaurus.  Or an argentinosaurus.  Or a camarosaurus, which is also known as a morosaurus.  I believe there are HUNDREDS of -sauruses that serve no current purpose other than to confuse and bewilder anyone trying to guess Khalid’s animal.  Such is the universe.

He takes pity on us, and tells us the first letter of the dinosaur’s name when we’ve gotten stumped.  Then, he tells us the second.  Then the third.  Sometimes he will spell out the whole name and I will be no more clued in to what dinosaur he’s talking about- just because he can spell it doesn’t mean I can say it, or know what the heck it looks like.  Case in point: Do you know what this dinosaur is called?

ParasaurolophusIt’s a parasaurolophus. I spent almost twenty minutes once, wracking my brain and trying to figure this dinosaur out before asking Khalid to finally spell it for me, and even then- I still didn’t know what he was talking about.

Iman’s MO for the guessing game is adorable.  She doesn’t pick animals that are difficult, or get upset when her animal is discovered.  For the most part she isn’t even picking animals, she’s actually picking people.

Iman is acutely aware of who hasn’t had a turn in a while, and when she successfully guesses an animal and gets her turn, she will tailor her choice of animal to the person that she feels needs one.  She will direct her clues right to the person she has in mind.  For HF, she will usually be thinking of a shark.  For Khalid, she will be thinking of a dinosaur.  For me, she will be thinking of a lion or giraffe, and for Musfira- she is always, ALWAYS thinking of a cat.  Why? Because Musfira is always thinking of a cat too.

Musfira’s ability to participate in the guessing game has been increasing step by adorable step.  In the beginning, she was struggling with the concept, and would just repeat the last clue that she heard. If Iman said, “I’m thinking of an animal with two legs,” then Musfira would ask, “Is it two legs?”

When she realized that we were looking for answers instead of echoes, she started guessing as well.

Iman: “Musfira, I’m thinking of an animal with four legs, with brown spots, that says moo.”



Musfira: “Izzit the sun?”

Momma: “No dear, the sun is not an animal.  We’re only thinking about animals.”

Musfira: “Oh, ok! Izzit Lighting McKeen!”

Musfira had an epiphany one day, and she correctly guessed the lion that Iman was directing towards me.  That was her first chance for a real turn, and she started out pretty good:

“I’m thinking of a animo-”


“It has four legs…”

(“Very good.”)

“Anna tail…”


“And, it’s a cat!”

Musfira grins expectantly, anticipating all the exciting questions we should now be asking her. Iman raises an eyebrow and says, “Musfira, are you thinking of a cat?”

“Guj-job Iman!” Musfira cheers, “Your turn!”

We’ve played this game hundreds of times since,  and Musfira’s ability to sort and label is getting better, and so her turns are getting more interesting. However, they have yet to move beyond cat.

Once Musfira said to me, “Momma, I’m thinking of a animo. It has four legs, two ears, and iss bigger than a cat.”

“How interesting!” I said, excited that Musfira could finally be breaking free from her cat-only streak. “Is it a dog?”


“Is it a cow?”


“Does it eat grass?”


I tried a few angles and eventually I gave up.

“Alright Musfira, you were thinking of an animal with four legs and two ears that was bigger than a cat.  What was it?”

Musfira beamed. “A bigger cat.”

We have since thought of smaller cats, as well as a pink cat, specifically Musfira’s long-time crib companion, Meow-Meow.The only time we’ve ever thought of anything other  than cat was on the way home from the Dubai Mall after we had surprised the children with a trip to see the dinosaur fossil being exhibited there. It was a diplodocus.  Khalid knew this within seconds of seeing it, even before he was within range of the exhibit information.  He looked at the fossil- suspended from the ceiling in all its fossilized awesomeness- and he smiled and said, “It’s a North-American dipolodocus.”

We oohed and aahed, marvelled at the hugeness of its legs and the tinyness of it’s really tiny head.  Later, there was ice-cream, and on the way home Musfira suddenly announced, “I’m thinking of an animo!”

Iman interrupted, “It’s a cat.”

Musfira snarked back. “I didn’t finish my clues.” She has learned this phrase verbatim from Khalid and Iman and their tendency to start guessing before the clues are even given.

“I’m thinking of an animo, ” Musfira continued, “It has four legs, a long… long… long…. neck. And, a tiny, small head.”

“Is it a diplodocus?” Khalid piped up excitedly from the back of the van.


I felt I should translate. “Musfira, Khalid is asking if it’s a dinosaur.”


Iman tried again, “Musfira are you sure it’s not Meow-Meow?”


“Is your animal pink?” Iman pushed.

“Yes!” Musfira said.

A few seconds of silence passed.  “Musfira,” I said slowly, “Are you thinking of… a pink dinosaur?”

“Hooray Momma! You did it!”


Four legs, lives in desert. Gives milk. Rraawr.

The game has only gotten better and more interesting since Musfira has started participating actively.  HF was playing with her at bath-time the other day, and as he pulled her pajamas off he said, “Musfira, I’m thinking of an animal with four legs, a long neck, and it lives in the desert.”

“Oh! Izzit a chicken?”

“Musfira,” HF said, “This animal gives milk!”

(Musfira- who has a bovine milk allergy- has been raised on camel milk.)

“Izzit a milk?”

“Milk is not an animal dear.”

“Izzit a tannasaurus!”

And so, the awesomeness continues. Alhamdulillah.










Really Oughtta be a National Holiday…

Alhamdulillah, our office has finally been moved into the premises of the larger organisation that we are joining.  It’s a real office.  With real people.  And when you’re me, every day is Take Your Toddler to Work Day!

I think Musfira likes it so far.  We get up, have breakfast, get out of our pj’s, and pack our respective bags.  Mine has a laptop, a company stamp, a check book, and various reports.  Musfira’s has three diapers, powder, a box of cereal, and small LED flashlight from Daiso.  It is pink.

We wake up in the morning and leave the untidy house- the cereal bowls crusting over in the sink, the pile of folded laundry that’s been on the coffee table for three days, and we drive.  We listen to Qur’an or Nasheeds.  We point out birds. Sometimes, Musfira likes to point out trees.

Momma, twee! oh, twee! twee!  twee, twee, twee, twee…. ah twee!

We get to the new office and Musfira is immediately welcomed by any number of bouncy, energetic, ABA therapists with exactly the right sort of personality to be a toddler’s best friend.  She sees who’ll be working with her today while I’m working with admin.  She gets happy.

SHELL!  (Hanshell)

EYES! (Aiza)

JOY! (Joy)

She plays with puzzles, and climbs up and down the stairs, and when no one’s looking, she hides in a corner and poops in her diaper because she’s too afraid to use the toilet at the office.  So then I close my reports and wash her little bottom in the bathroom without a changing table, and she runs back outside to climb the stairs again and all is right with her little world. Sometimes, we have impromptu teleconferences.  I’ll be talking to one person on the phone.  And Musfira will either talk to me, or start talking to them too.  She comes with me on lunch meetings, and the day before yesterday, she demanded- and got- the Clinical Supervisor’s apple juice.

Today we’re going to be taking our lunch from home, because I cannot and will not eat out every day- it’s too expensive, too unhealthy, and too hectic trying to pack a two a half year old out to lunch and back again within any given timeframe.  She likes to chase birds, linger over her chicken strips, and ask loud questions about other lunch-hour patrons.

Musfira: “momma, wha happinid to a lady’s nose?”

“It’s pierced dear. Some cultures wear earrings in their noses. Isn’t it lovely?”

Musfira is unconvinced. She continues to stare fixedly at the nice Indian lady in the power suit.

It’s 8:30 right now, and my company toddler has overslept, which is why I’m blogging instead of driving to work.  But it’s time to wake her up now, change her into her best corporate diaper, and hand her to her adoring fans while I attempt to get some work done.  Alhamdulillah.  Off to work we go.


These days, there are four magic words from Musfira’s mouth that cause me to go into instant state of anxiousness.

“Mama, I hep yoo!”

Musfira had a dirty diaper.  We went into the bathroom to change her.  As I turned to move the garbage can closer to the toilet, I heard those magic words- mama, I hep yoo!  followed  by the crinkly zip of a diaper being unfastened.

Her diaper had been full of poop.  Had.  Now her pants were instead.

We were making eggs for breakfast, and a bowl of lemon-yellow omlette sat waiting to be poured into the pan.

mama, I hep yoo!

And that’s how Musfira had her first egg-wash for smooth and shiny hair.

Musfira wanted a cup of milk, and I asked her to bring me the bottle from the fridge.  Instead, she got both the milk and the cup as far as the hallway, where she – impressively- filled the cup, as well as emptied the bottle on the floor.

mama, I hep yoo!

She says it with such enthusiasm, such genuine love and a desire to please and help me that I feel guilty for dreading those words.  There are many times where she follows my instructions perfectly, but those other times- where she doesn’t listen for instructions, or makes up her own instructions- those are the times that set my teeth on edge, and that’s when I end up dramatically sighing and cleaning raw eggs or poop off of things.  And  people.

But she’s tiny.  Really.  She has these teeny-tiny feet, and these skinny little legs, and when she comes pattering up the hallway at full-speed, both arms in the air and a face full of gleeful enthusiasm, then I HEP YOOOO! is perhaps, the cutest, sweetest, most earnest little expression of love that this momma has ever seen.

InshaAllah, we’ll both get better at this. 🙂  And we’ll hep each other.






Musfira’s Recipe for Homestyle Chocolate Cupcake


  • 200 grams of Hersheys unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (that’s it, one plastic cup)
  • 1 flat, dry work surface. Preferably a coffee table.
  • 20 minutes of suspicious silence.

Fill one plastic cup with as much cocoa as makes it inside.

Once your cup has been filled, dump it onto your work surface and pat the cocoa into a smooth, even coat.

Between smoothing pats, wipe cocoa generously onto your shirt, pants, face and hair.  Repeat process until Cupcake is evenly coated in chocolate.

For best results, put the cocoa powder back in the kitchen and then walk past your mother as if nothing has happened.

Being two and a half is awesome

Musfira comes skipping excitedly into my room:

Musfira: Momma!  Iss somefing!

Momma: Yes dear?

Musfira: Somefing inna body went pffft!

(Musfirs grabs her bottom with both hands and grins)

Momma: Yes dear, that’s called gas.  You had gas.

Musfira: had gas?

Momma: Yes, you had gas.

Musifra: Gas inna my body?

Momma: Yes dear.

Musfira: Hehe!

Tales of Toddler Genius

The Inventor

Musfira asks Momma for a cookie.

Momma gives Musfira a cookie.

Musfira receives the cookie and folds it carefully into a tissue.

Then, she takes her tiny first and begins pounding it into crumbs.

Momma is taken aback.

“Musfira!  What are you doing to your cookie?”

Musfira is reassuring.

“Iss okay momma.  I making a puzzle. Hee you go!”

Momma accepts puzzle.

Glowing with pride, Momma eats it.

Masha’Allah 🙂






The Stylist

bluemarkerMusfiraAlhamdulillah, we acquired a lovely new sister in law this weekend as HF’s younger brother got married.  Family wedding preparations were a team effort, and Alhamdulillah, everyone did their part to ensure things went smoothly- even Musfira, who took the initiative to do her own hair and makeup with a pair of scissors and a blue marker.  And she did it an entire day before the party, making her not only helpful, but also forward thinking.

A proper stylist was commissioned to neaten up the asymmetrical bangs Musfira cut for herself, and I followed that with a cleansing baby-oil and rubbing alcohol facial.

The Behavioural Analyst

Musfira likes to play limit-testing games- as toddlers often do- and they follow a pretty simple format.  Momma says to do something.  Musfira refuses to do it, and she smiles and waits to see what will happen.

One of these more recent games is a jolly round of “I’m not leaving the car.”  This game takes two people to play and is usually initiated at the end of a long drive, after a long day, when Momma would much rather be bathing children and putting them to bed.  Musfira’s car seat is unbuckled.  Momma says let’s go inside.  Musfira makes a run for the back of the van- a cramped space that Momma is not a fan of climbing in to chase a wiggly and wilful toddler.

So in a recent round of the game, I unbuckled Musfira and she made a successful break for the back of the minivan.  Rather than engage in a Tom & Jerry style chase, I stood outside and said, “Musfira, it’s time to go home. You need to come out of the van now.”

In response to which, she did her best imitation of a stern face and said, “No momma.  I stay inna van.  One… Two… Three… I hit you!”

Now, I would like to make three things clear:

  1. Iman does get a count to three, but when three comes, it isn’t with a smack, it’s with a physical prompt.  If, by the count of three she’s not walking to the bath I will take her by the arm and walk her there myself.
  2. I may not be the best mother in the world, but I don’t threaten my children with “I hit you!” anymore than “I will cut you.”
  3. Musfira is a squeaky two-foot nothing and has all the authoritative presence as a rubber duck.

I was so impressed that she had made, and then used her own assumptions about what would happen when 3 came that my toughest battle was suppressing a laugh.

Besides, in accordance with the cardinal parenting rule of No-No-Prompt, the thing to do when Musfira had disregarded my instructions twice already was to climb in and just take her inside the house, not argue with a grumpy two and a half year old.

The Photographer

At the end of the valima of same said family wedding, Musfira kept trying to steal the limelight from the bride & groom’s photos by dancing on stage with no shoes and only half of her party ensemble on.  When I went and physically removed her from the stage, she wailed and pleaded, “Momma wait! I wanna photo!”

I put her down and handed her my phone with the camera open.  “Alright then.  Go take photos.”

I don’t think she quite caught the grammatical trickery that got her from the front of the camera to behind it, but it worked.  She took my phone and stood behind the other amateur photographer.  She returned with around 30 fuzzy, poorly composed pictures of the stage- with and without bride and groom- and proudly showed me her work.  Alhamdulillah.

The Dreamer

We were driving home on E311 after a long day in Ajman, and the children were riding in tired silence.  Suddenly, Musfira sat straight up in her seat and squeaked “Momma! Look!  Issa crown! Issa crown!”

“A crown? I don’t see any crown…” I scanned the traffic and tried to figure out what Musfira was getting all excited about.

“A crown! A magic crown! Iss fwying away!”

“Musfira, do you mean the light on top of that car?”

“Notta car!” she angrily insisted, “A crown! Iss going!”

I sped the car up and chased down Musfira’s magic flying crown.  I matched its speed and pointed, “Musfira, is that your magic flying crown?”

“Oooh! Iss bootiful! A crown!”

“That’s called a taxi dear.”

“A kaksi! Iss so pretty!”

SubhanAllah 🙂

Dubai Taxi

Dubai kaksi. With a magic flying crown.

Got caught

I woke up this morning, and I noticed that Musfira was already awake and singing in her crib.  I wanted to use the bathroom before picking her up and activating Mommy Mode for the day, so I stood up quickly when she was looking the other way, starting tiptoeing and then-

“Momma! git back in yo bed. iss not morning time. I haff work to do!”

I turned around and saw Musfira giving me the no-nonsense stare of a toddler that means business, though I’m not pretending to know what business she wanted me to stay in bed for so she could finish.  But then, she cracked a smile, and I was off the hook.