Wide Earth Smallholding

Wide Earth Smallholding

And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.(Qur'aan- 71:19)

Poverty as Creative Catalyst: Creative Parenting Part Two

This is the second in the series of posts I wrote for a  blog two years ago on creative parenting. Insh’Allaah after I have reposted these older posts, I will continue the series with brand new posts!

Every time I go on the internet, I am bombarded with images of things I “need” to have to enhance my creativity, to find the artist within…exotic yarns, expensive fabrics, little doo-dads and widgets and what-not that are necessary in order to make every project perfect. Quilt patterns calling for specific fabric from specific companies. Crochet patterns that rely on $20.00 a skein yarn. Crafts for children that require all sorts of specific paints and materials.

I couldn’t afford these things in the States, and I can’t afford them here in Yemen- even if they were available.

So what do people who don’t have stellar craft budgets do?

Here’s an example. A few days ago the children decided to make some paper chains to decorate the house. You know, the ones you made in school out of construction paper and white glue. Thing is, I have yet to even see construction paper in Yemen, and if I did find it, I doubt if such a luxury item would fit into our budget. Sukhailah told me what they wanted to do, and why they couldn’t do it.

“Why not make your own colored paper?” I asked. She immediately understood, and the children spent an hour or so on the floor with old waxy crayons, coloring both sides of white printer paper. They even mixed colors and made “variegated” as Mu’aadh said. Then they cut out their strips, and made their beautiful multi-colored paper chains to hang up in every room.

Another example. A friend left us a bunch of quilting magazines when she moved to Egypt. At first, paging through them, the girls became disheartened, as they saw the intricate patterns calling for very specific cloth and colors to make them work. All we have is a motley collection of fabrics given to us over the last few years- certainly nothing that was meant to go together like the patterns in these magazines called for.

Quilt  blocks for Suhayb's Quilt
Quilt blocks for Suhayb’s Quilt

I hauled the bag out, though, and told them to pick out a pattern that they liked. I picked one out as well. Then we sorted through the different sizes and colors of cloth, until we came up with our own color schemes. Then we altered the patterns to fit what we had on hand.

Sukhailah Quilt
Asmaa’s Quilt from Sukhailah



The results are very satisfying, thank you. As we did it, I told them that this was the heart of quilting before it became an “art” form- and in a way, it took a lot more work doing it our way than just getting a pattern and heading off to the fabric store.


And so it goes on. We make gifts for each other out of whatever we have on hand–dolls for the girls, a cardboard box dresser for doll clothes, brightly colored rayon fabric for draw string bags, an old drink jar decorated to make a pencil holder, coloring books drawn by hand and photocopied…the list is practically endless. Rosie and Foo Foo



And, as with their multi-hued paper chains, the end results are incredibly, undeniably, totally without compromise, ours. And that’s what makes it all worth it!

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  1. Maashaa Allah, we love the moderate seasons, so autumn always brings smiles of appreciation. Yes, it is funny to hear people refer to “quality time,” but it is, I believe, the result of everyone being wrapped up in their own business and making it exclusively theirs. We, too, are together throughout our days, from eating meals and homeschooling, to doing laundry and Islamic studies. All the while, the children are learning from examples, have an open channel to ask questions and explore topics as they come up, and are course corrected immediately when the need arises. Every outing or special event/activity involves the whole family, so their relationship with their father is extremely strong and his role as the guardian and head of the household is firmly established. It is a sad day when he cannot, for some reason, eat dinner with us.

    Autumn is rather different here in Madinah, as there is no change in the daily sunshine but simply a slight drop in temperature that makes the morning and evening air pleasant. Opposite to conventional planting, this is the time when we can plant seeds and have some hope of them growing during the milder weather – in effect, like late spring/early summer.

    The girls loved reading the poems, maashaa Allah! BarakAllahufeekunna!

    1. Yes, Mai, you are so right. The interaction between myself and my children is vastly different from what I see from most of the people around me. It seems as though so often children seem to think their parents are boring or backward or don’t understand them, and that’s just ridiculous, mash’Allaah. The core and foundation of society is the individual, and then the family. I don’t agree with the “we’re all best friends” model of parenting either- there has to be a balance and an understanding of roles, responsibilities, and rights, mash’Allaah.
      Fall is my favorite season, alhamdulillah, especially because of my difficulty with the heat and sun of summer, mash’Allaah. It always makes my childhood feel more immediate, and I realize that much of who I was then, I am still now, and the flow continues, alhamdulillah.
      Have your girls write some, insh’Allaah, and share them back with us!

  2. Bismillaahi ar Rahmaani Ar Raheem
    Assalaamu alaikoum wa rahmatullaah wa barakatuh
    Jazakallahu khayran for sharing your precious ‘quality time’ and work. Since I started ‘Guide at the Crossroads’ I find you a most inspiring family Allahummah barik may Allaah bless you and give you even more ameen. Reading you is like going back on track, like returning to a world of common sense and peace….alhamdulillaah. My summer has been filled with a mixture of feelings here in Tunisia and I will leave all of them behind during this season, just as the falling leaves… (sorry I am not a poetic person at all, just trying lol)
    I keep thinking of ‘it is not about quantity , it is about quality’. Having quality time with my daughters, especially with my eldest, is one of the things that keeps me ‘alive’. I love doing scrap books with her. We did one about our time here in Tunisia because I wanted her to practice her ‘describing events’ skills. However, I ‘ve realised that it is not only that, it is also a way to keep our quality time alive, a book to help us remember all what we did together, our experiences, meeting with different people, our bonding …
    Alhamdulillah, it is Allaah who makes all this possible, our creator, our protector
    Keep sharing please and take lots of care, may Allaah be with you always ameen

    1. Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
      Alhamdulillah, Ameen to you du’a. Yes, the time spent with the children is rejuvenating, isn’t it? It is truly a treasure, and it is sad that so many people don’t recognize it and squander it like it was nothing. Scrapbooking is something we have thought about doing! After reading how you look at it and what it means to you, I think, insh’Allaah, we will have to see what we can do to try it. We will have to get creative to do it without the pictures, but I think, alhamdulilah, we are up to the task, insh’Allaah!
      BarakAllaahufeekee, and I look forward to “seeing” you in class, insh’Allaah.

    2. wa feeki barak Allaah, may Allaah bless you in everything you do ameeen. I find scrapbooking very flexible and versatile. I even use my daughter’s scrap books as a way of giving dawah to people. For example, my Yasmeen loves showing her ‘Aquida Scrap book to everyone : family members, guests, neighbours… I don’t use unlawful pictures alhamdulillaah , just drawings, hadith and ayas from the Qur’an written in bold on colorful paper and pasted on the scrapbook, hands shapes,finger prints,pictures of other work she has done, trea leaves…You can also involve another people. For example, we were doing the pillars of Islaam and for the First Pillar, Shahadatain, we asked our neighbours to fingerprint their index finger while saying the shahada in the scrapbook and in the Tunisia’ scrapbook the neighbours drawed their houses on it. I also want her Quran teacher to write a nasiha for Yasmin in there…I love involving other people on them… May Allaah bless you ,fi amanillaah

      1. This sounds like a lot of fun, mash’Allaah, a lot to think about! I think we will have to put our heads together here and see what we can come up with. I am thinking, too, that the high school Islamic Studies class I teach might enjoy doing something with this…hmmmm….

  3. As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

    May Allah bless you. I am not married yet, nor do I have any children…but I loved, loved their poetry, Allaahumma baarik. It was inspiring to see what the proper cultivation can produce.

    May Allah reward you, and protect them all from evil. x

  4. Allahumma barik Aameen, it was beautiful to read those poems and even more beautiful that they were written by children of such a tender age may Allaah increase them in khayr. Allahuma Aameen. I don’t have children but in sha Allaah if Allaah blesses me with them I’d love to educate and nurture them at home. I cannot tell you Akhwaati how the schools these days and respectively both western and eastern have an effect on the minds of young children. What I was able to understand from reading the poems wasn’t just that the children have their own thoughts and opinions about things but they are able to distinctly express and illustrate them (very eloquently at that). Allahuma Baarik again. This I truly believe stems from the personal interest you have taken in their lives and cultivating them. In the west we find parents often shouting at their children and the relationship is for each child to go to their room with these unknown gadgets, very individualistic and very dangerous in my opinion. Parents often don’t know their child and this is where the problem stems from, it is sad. It is almost inescapable in the West with the rush of daily life taking off and the dunya becoming the primary goal of most people’s lives. I ask Allaah to protect all of us from chasing the dunya. Aameen

    It is my dear sister truly inspiring to read this it shows me, it can exist in this world. You can make your home your sanctuary and build its foundations on the Quran and Sunnah and with such a foundation what a strong home can one achieve.

    AhsaanAllahu alaykum wa BarakaAllahu feeki

    1. Alhamdulillah, BarakAllaahufeekee for your thoughtful response. I have been deeply troubled by much of what you mentioned. Parents are poisoning their children, drop by drop, and are oblivious or simply don’t care that they are doing so. Mash’Allaah, people have said to us more than once that our children are “different” from other children, as if they just popped out that way. They ignore the work that goes into raising the children, which is, to be honest, incredibly beautiful, actually fun, and often difficult. Insh’Allaah I will be teaching a parenting class soon, and I ask that Allaah makes my intention pure and put His blessing in the endeavor, as the success is only through Allaah.

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