Cruising with Disney: Halal Dining and Much More

There have been a number of articles published about the importance of family vacations.  There have even been studies about how family vacations are more beneficial to children than buying them toys.  We try to take one big family trip each year.  We value the time we get to spend together, giving each other the most attention without the distraction of our emails, social media, video games and phone calls.  My husband and I both come back fully refreshed and ready to tackle any stress that comes our way at home or at work.  The kids are given the opportunity to see a different country and hopefully understand when you work hard, you can play hard.  The children also take away a lifetime of memories from these trips.  I don’t think they will retell stories about a gaming incident but travelling will definitely come up.  We are always talking about our past trips, years after we have taken them.

Our most favourite trip was last year on board the Disney Fantasy.  We never thought we would enjoy cruising as we are of a relax by the pool kind of family but we were wrong!  Our Disney cruise comes up at least twice a month and it’s been about a year since we went on it.  I wrote a piece about our trip for  and it was originally published there.

Every family looks forward to going on vacation. It’s a time where the family can relax, bond, reconnect and make memories. When my husband and I were planning our vacation, a cruise was not on our list. The idea of being in close proximity to thousands of people did not seem relaxing at all.  After some convincing from friends, we decided to give it a shot. While researching, I came across the Disney Cruise Line. I remembered a friend had been on one recently and I reached out to her. She had nothing but good things to say and after reading hundreds of blog posts online, we booked our first Disney cruise!

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people say that Disney World is the happiest place on Earth. I disagree; the Disney cruise is definitely the happiest place on Earth. From the instant we stepped on the ship and were greeted and welcomed by name, I felt like royalty. The lobby on board the Disney Fantasy was so beautiful I felt like Cinderella walking into the ball! Disney goes out of their way to ensure you are taken care of and having a good time. We were stopped by numerous cast mates and crew to ask if we were enjoying our day and if there was anything we needed. And a lot of the times they would give us a few tips on how to make our trip even more enjoyable.


We stayed in a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with a Veranda which consisted of a queen sized bed, a sofa and a veranda. While we were out having dinner, our stateroom host would magically make bunk beds appear. The bottom bunk was the sofa while the top bunk was pulled down from the ceiling. There was also a privacy curtain between the two areas which separated the kids and made it feel like two separate areas. The best part of the room was the bathroom.

If you are travelling with young kids, you know how hard it is to make them shower, well not on a Disney cruise! There are two bathrooms, one with a full-sized tub (yes, your kids can still take their nightly bubble bath) and sink and the other with another sink and toilet. This made getting dressed every day a lot easier.

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Going Grey!

I had a professor in University who I really looked up to. She was tall, slender, older and had a gorgeous full head of grey hair.  She was so confident and poised and I wanted to be like her when I was older (minus the tall and slender part because who was I kidding? ). I told myself back then that I wouldn’t confine to the beauty standards of society and dye my hair when it went grey, I would embrace it.

In the meantime, I dyed my hair all different colours. And I almost always had highlights.  Going to the salon on a Saturday morning became very relaxing to me.  I could easily spend hours getting spoiled and leaving looking like a brand new person.  No matter what was going on in my life, my hair was always taken care of.

I found my first grey hair in my mid-twenties. It was smack dab in the middle of my hairline. Upfront and intimidating.  So I plucked it out!  I’m sure you’re wondering if the age old myth is true, if you pluck out a gray hair do 3 grow back in its place? Well when it grew back, it was still just one but it was stubborn so I plucked it out again.

I went on and dyed my hair and got highlights as I normally did.  And then I noticed some more grey hair in between salon visits but still it didn’t bother me and my salon visits continued. Recently, I was too busy to maintain my trips to the hairdresser and I noticed that a lot more of my hair was greying. I asked my husband and he said it didn’t bother him at all. I looked over and saw that his beard was as salt and peppered as my hair was. The only difference was that I liked it on him. It showed his maturity and at that moment I realized I wanted to show mine too.
As my greys became more visible, I noticed people glancing at them while in a conversation with me. No one said a word about them but my kids. They didn’t want me to get older (and eventually die) but I reassured them the colour of my hair didn’t change anything about me. The fact that they noticed the change and spoke up about it proved to me that the beauty standards women have to live up to were obvious to my two young boys. I didn’t want them to fall into the trap of media telling us how we should look or feel.

Why can’t the description of a mom dropping off her kids include a few strands of grey hair?  We all have them or will have them eventually but why don’t we ever show them?
I stopped looking at my greys in the mirror and agonizing about how long those strands were or about how many new strands there were. I had to show them that greying is a part of life regardless of your age.
While this is happening a trend was taking off, where young women were dyeing their hair grey! A lot of style worthy celebrities also did the same.  And the ironic thing is that they looked great. It was platinum grey or grey with a nice tint of colour, not old lady grey. It’s so funny how the same experience can mean two different things to two different people.  I wondered if these same women would proudly display their grey hair when it was natural or would they cover it up?

The greys are now a over an inch long in my hair and are scattered throughout.  Most are along my middle part.  I don’t think I’m ready to grown them out entirely yet.  I still like to get highlights during the summer and be adventurous with my hair.  However,  I know I will not be running to the salon to get root touch-ups in between my visits. My gray hairs do not define me or change anything about me when they are visible.  They’re just proof that I’m living my life and enjoying it without worrying about what others are thinking about me!



Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

I usually like to start off the New Year with a reflection of the old. What did I enjoy?  What did I hate? What would I change?  Throughout 2015, my family and I wrote down memories or funny moments on little slips of paper that we put into a red Christmas tin that was once full of cookies.  And on New Year’s Eve we opened the tin and re-visited 2015.  I think it was our favorite moment of the whole year, kudos to whoever decided to “pin” the original post on Pinterest.

This was a great idea because there were so many little quirks and silly things my kids did at the beginning of the year that they wouldn’t even think about doing at the end simply because they were older. Kids age and change so much in 12 months.  Reading through some of Zayn’s funny sayings was great because I would have forgotten those sayings otherwise.  The only downside was, we wish there were more memories in there.  We each made a goal to write out something once a week and put it into the tin.  That would give us over 200 moments to re-live!

2015 was a hard year medically for our family. Zayn was not at his healthiest peak.  We were constantly at the Doctor’s office or hospital.  Through all those experiences, he showed me how strong he is. I really think he’s stronger than me.  There were moments when I gave up and wanted to bury my head in a pillow and cry but he kept going.  A lot of hugs, promises to feel better and wise words from Dory to “Just keep swimming” got us through all the rough moments.  Towards the end of the year, his health had improved so much and I pray it continues to do so throughout 2016 so he can enjoy being a 6 year old.

In 2015 both my parents lost a sibling. First my dad’s sister passed away after living a long and joyful life.  She had been ill for the last few years but her death was still shocking and saddening to us all.   I also lost one of my favorite Uncles.  He was my mom’s brother and lived in Pakistan.  Every memory I had of him was a good one.  His smile was contagious and he was always in a good mood.  He went out of his way to ensure we were always happy when visiting him.  These deaths really shook my parents.  My dad has sadly dealt with a sibling’s death before but this was the first for my mom.  I cannot imagine the pain they felt.  I am very close to my three sisters.  We don’t all get together too often yet when we do they are cherished moments.  Sometimes in life, we are given shocking news but it helps put our own life in perspective.  The death of a loved one often makes us look at our own lives and think about the legacy we will one day leave behind.

I hope 2016 provides my family and I with enough opportunities to make a difference, to be happy and to show the world what we are capable of!

Minecraft -More than Just a Game

Have you heard of Minecraft?  Are you like most moms who just tune it out when your kids start talking about the game because all the foreign terms make no sense and you have no time to learn a new language let alone a new game!

I recently wrote a piece for Muslim Moms in Canada  about Minecraft and thought I would share it here:

A typical day in my household always includes a story about a Creeper, an Ender-Dragon or Herobine.  And like most moms, I have no idea what my kids are talking about.  Chances are if you have a child who plays video games, they are playing Minecraft!

Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies for PC’s and millions more on iPads and Android Tablets. Microsoft purchased Minecraft from Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars last year and the creator of Minecraft Markus Persson out-bid Jay Z and Beyonce on a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills.  Minecraft is everywhere.  If you have not heard of it, you really are living under a rock!

I’m not sure how the craze began in my house but I remember downloading the game for my son and then him begging us to buy the full edition.  Still not understanding the game I turned to Facebook and asked my friends for their advice.  A few friends told me to steer clear of the dark side, while others told me why it was so great.

Creative Mode

The game has two modes; Creative and Survival.  In both modes, players (a character named Steve in the game) use their creativity to build.  Players usually begin by creating a home and then expand their world by creating other buildings in a community.  In this game of virtual blocks, players use their creativity to build a world the way they want.  They first must chop down trees for wood, mine for coal, iron and other elements that are used throughout the game to make different types of blocks. You will also see animals roaming around freely, you can make them your pets, let them live or use them to make food.

My son has built amusement parks with roller coasters, bowling alleys with multiple lanes, a school and anything he wants.  Creative mode allows players to determine how to place blocks strategically resulting in a finished project.  Sounds like a lot of future engineers to me!

Survival Mode

In Survival mode, the purpose of the game is to survive.  It has all the features of creative but is more challenging and frightening.  Players use their creations to hide and escape from all the enemies in Minecraft.  They also mine to look for items that will protect them like swords and armour.  Survival mode is where you will find Creepers, zombies, spiders and skeletons.

A creeper is that ackward looking, pixilated, green figure you see roaming around on your child’s screen. If you get too close to it, it will blow up and harm you.  Skeletons also blow up while spiders and zombies hit the player.  The player must destroy these creatures to live.  If the player is destroyed, he/she quickly respawns (comes back to life).

What To Be Wary Of

If you are going to let your kids enter the world of Minecraft there are a few things you need to be weary of.  The most important one is that it is addicting.  My kids will play for hours if I don’t monitor their time.  It’s a fast moving game where a day lasts only 20 minutes.  Your child will always want more time to finish building something or looking for something.

If you let your kids play together in one world, they will fight.  It doesn’t matter how well they get along in real life, in Minecraft there will be problems.  They will bicker about what direction to go in, who found the diamond sword first and who has more experience blocks.  The constant bickering has made me go crazy that I have shut the game off a few times.  I have since learned to take a deep breath and let them figure out their own problems like they do on the playground.

Some parents don’t want their children exposed to the violence in the game.  Parents should be able to judge if their child can handle the game or not.

Why I let my kids play

My boys are 8 and 5. I let them play Minecraft because it’s teaching them certain aspects of the real world.  It’s teaching them you need materials to build and is encouraging them to go find those materials.  It is expanding their creativity while they attempt at and then later succeed at building a more difficult creation.  It’s teaching them how to plan, organize, execute, succeed and sometimes fail all in one game.

I don’t think my kids would have any interest in building if it wasn’t for Minecraft.  They have many Lego sets that are sitting in their closet but they prefer Minecraft because there are no instructions.   They write their own instructions.

I read an article that suggested Minecraft is preparing today’s kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  With technology changing so quickly, there is no way for us know what skills will be sought after and maybe the millions of people playing Minecraft are on to something the rest of us don’t understand (yet).

Keep Calm and Drink Coffee



My Sunday mornings are very routine.  I wake up,  start a load of laundry, work out, make the kids breakfast,  shower and go grocery shopping.  All of this while my wonderful husband is sleeping. The fact that he sleeps in used to bother me a lot but now, not so much.  But that’s another post for another day.
Today however, I did something different.  After loading all the groceries into the car,  I got myself a coffee.  I went through the drive thru,  parked my car and took a deep breath. Opening the lid and letting the aroma of the coffee fill the car gave me so much warmth.
I sat there in the in the parking lot and enjoyed every last sip.
The night before was a disaster.  I lost my temper at both of the boys,  they cried,  I cried (after) and it was not the way I want our weekends to be.
I’m not sure how other moms keep their cool. Or ar least pretend to. I feel like such a failure in that department.  I feel like my kids don’t take me seriously unless I yell.  And lately it seems like I’m yelling all the time.
Yelling at them to wash their hands, put their glasses on and stop touching each other and that’s all before breakfast!
I turn into this ugly beast on a yelling rampage,  while my kids try to do everything right very fast. They know I’m serious!
But I hate it!  I don’t want them to remember me as always yelling at them. So,  while I drank my coffee this morning,  I made a promise to myself that I would try my hardest to stop yelling.  I didn’t want to be the mom with the forced smile telling her kids for the hundredth time to use his indoor voice either.  I wanted to be me.  The cool,  fun mom who just had to give the look and everything was ok after that.
That 10 minutes of reflection was all I needed to regain my Mommy confidence again.
As soon as I got home and opened the door,  I heard them fighting about something Minecraft related.  I took a deep breath,  put the groceries away and went out for another cup of coffee!

Wide awake at 2am

It’s 2am and sleep is no where in sight.
I have a lot on my mind.
I wish I could just go away on vacation.  I find that when I’m on vacation,  my body actually goes into relaxation mode.
I forget my daily struggles,  the pressures from work become nonexistent for a short period of time.
However,  there is no vacation in my near future so I must find another way to calm myself and fall asleep.
In case you too are having a hard time falling asleep and are looking for interesting things online to read.  Click here to read the article I wrote for on vacations while I am off to count sleep.

My time to shine!

It’s mid August 2015!  I have no idea how that happened but time is just flying by this year.  It’s been a year since I wanted to start this blog.  I’m always thinking of blog post ideas or things I would like to share but never actually take the time to sit down and do it.   Instead of dwelling on my failure, I am going to concentrate on my upcoming success.

Every year I make a list of “New Year Resolutions” that I never keep. I want to lose weight, I want to blog, I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to be more patient with my kids, I want to get back the relationship I had with my husband before we had kids, I want to learn to knit, yada, yada, yada (if you haven’t watched an episode of Seinfeld – do it now or we can’t be friends)! I’m always thinking about these things in the back of my mind but as usual nothing happens!

The last few years, especially 2014 I was stuck in a rut.  I felt like I had no control. There were so many things I wanted for myself and my life but it seemed so difficult to obtain them.  I realized it was because of me! I was stopping myself from being the person I wanted to be. It was so easy to find excuses. I’m too tired, kids are sick or I had a rough day at work.  And I was so busy putting my family first, that I was leaving nothing for myself. I was holding myself back the whole time.

2015 is my year! I want to change the way I think and the way I live.  I want to be happier, nicer, more appreciative, a better spouse, a better mom, a better friend and like everyone else; I want to be healthier.

It’s no longer about the numbers on the scale for me. I want to be healthier, that is my final goal. I’ve been eating better and working out almost every day!  Being too tired was not an excuse I was going to accept. I created a personal record of working out everyday for 40 days in a row and I enjoyed it.  I looked forward to it every day.  I think I’m becoming one of those crazy people who like exercising.  You know when you check into a hotel and give yourself a quick tour.  You see a beautiful gym and there is one fanatic working out and you think to yourself, why would anyone work out while on vacation?  Well guess what? That crazy fanatic is me!

And what is keeping me motivated is my own progress.  Seeing my body change, my clothes get bigger is motivating me to keep going.  I want to be a great role model for my kids. Instead of sulking and complaining about my body, I want to teach them to go out, take care of the problem and achieve what they want.

My kids now work out on their own. They love competing to see who can do more push ups. They also work out with me when I try a new video out. It feels great to know that I’m enstilling physical activity in their lives at such a young age. Hopefully they continue to make healthy choices as adults too. I think the satisfaction of seeing my choices impact my children’s choices is even a better result than some numbers on the scale.