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Depending on the village!!

As a disabled parent, I realize that there are times when I need assistance, specifically in raising my child. surely, I might be able to go without this assistance, but at what expense to both myself and the child. We, as disabled parents walk a fine line. . There is a spectrum of responses to assistance.
first, there are the “uber independent ” who believe that they need no assistance at all in raising their children. I applaud these parents for being resourceful enough to find solutions to difficult challenges faced because of their disability. I commend their determination. However, there is a bit of pride and superiority that seems to accompany this determination and resourcefulness. Often the one who requests help is chastized for not being “independent enough.” And, there is an underlying notion that anyone who does depend on others for assistance is either unskilled, lazy or both.
Then, there are the assistance seekers. Often those who request someone’s help are quite aware of their limitations. they acknowledge that others might be able to perform a duty or handle a task better than they can. Humility is never a bad thing. However, many times, I do find these assistance seekers suffering from a case of learned helplessness. This type of learned helplessness and able-bodied superiority is frequently reflected in the children, as well. The children are not able to trust the parents because the parents can’t trust themselves. and, when there is learned helplessness, the helper’s fears of a one-sided relationship of burden has come to pass.

sometimes it is difficult for the disabled parent to foster an environment of interdependence, pride and humility at the same time. Honestly, many parents depend on others to help them. The difference is that if the one needing help does not exploit the situation, the helpers find it less of a burden because intrinsically, the helpers know that they might be able to count on the receiver for assistance, if they were to request. This reciprocation is rarely found in able-bodied / disabled parental interactions.

I use to believe and revel in the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child.” And, ideally, I do believe this. But, I wonder if anyone or most people understand the implications of that “village” raising your child. Here are some positive and negative points to ponder.

1. your child receives an entire network of people who love and care for him/her. This network might give the child more financial, educational, social and spiritual opportunities than he/she would have had if the parents didn’t consent to the village raising process.
2. While the parents might (or might not depending upon the culture) have the final say in the decisions made for the child, the village plays an important role in making and carrying out said decisions. They assume a bit of responsibility sometimes in the absence of the parents and sometimes in conjunction with the parents. This eleviates the parents of being the sole responsible caretakers for the child/children.
3. The child receives a variety of people to interact with and whom they can learn from when forming ethics, values and self esteem, etc.
4. Even only children can understand and reep the benefits of sibling-like interactions. the village is usually responsible for more than one child, thus, not only is there a network of adults, but children, also. It is comparable to having a plethora of cousins at your disposal whenever necessary, yet, the child remains an only child in their own household, so also reeps the rewards of being a singlet for their parents most of the time.
5. the village is strengthened by each person’s participation. Thus, each individual is able to give of their time, talents and resources to help others. Recognizing individual strengths helps each person achieve their highest potential, all while strengthening the village.

1. Many times those in the village who Claim to have shared values, might stray a bit too far in either direction for your comfort. If you are someone who likes control and wants your child to learn a set value system, this could be problematic.
2. It is more likely that your child will also encounter some situations that you might want them to avoid for quite some time.
3. while you, as a parent, might enjoy the shared responsibility, you might also be indirectly required to take on a bit of unwanted responsibility. This might come in the form of care, finances or time.
4. Decisions about the child takes on a more egalitarian approach. Therefore, consensus is much more important than individual opinions.
5. the children might grow to be more active members of the village, yet the parents (especially if they are disabled) might still be marginalized without a true communal purpose other than a vessel of charity.
6. the parents (especially if they are disabled) might experience a shift in power so that they are no longer the primary (or even a secondary) decision maker in the child’s life. It is easy for someone to inadvertently or even intensionally override your decisions and even parenting style.

In order for the village to actually support both the parent and the child, key concepts needs to be understood.

1. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined. This will help the village not to feel as if you are pawning your child and the parent to not feel undermined by the collectiveness of the village.
2. Always Respect the parental structure. There needs to be respect for the parents in such a way that “they” are the sole decision maker. The children need to understand that although the village “assists” in raising them, their parents are the primary caregivers.
3. Every financial or significant opportunity should be discussed with the parent before presenting it to the child. Aspects such as “consequences (intended and unintended) both to the family structure and the child and repayment of an opportunity should be considered and evaluated.
4. Every member of the village should be an equal participant. The strength of the village lies in its people. Each member should find ways to contribute and everyone should feel comfortable accepting these contributions. community living should be reciprocal.

begin again!!!

It’s amazing to think about the reasons you start a blog, the reasons it doesn’t last and the feelings around the blog itself. I’m here to say, I’m picking it back up again. But…..

I started the blog because I thought that our parenting experience was unique enough to help those get a different prospective on parenting, yet common enough to include those who feel marginalize. Yet, I soon was overwhelmed with life, disenchanted with the lack of discussion from other bloggers and second guessing the importance of my own voice and prospective; thus, I stopped writing.
There is an amazing amount of guilt that comes with “not writing.” Even if only a handful of people read your blog, you feel as if you have stopped the story and you don’t know where or how to pick it back up again. And, even if you did, it is appropriate to do so?? Won’t others criticize you for being so halfhazzard about the entire blogging experience? does this mean that you are not really serious about those convictions / reasons that you had for starting your blog in the first place??? You wonder if you should just fade into blog history or if you will be seen like a washed-up has-been musician if you decide to pick your blog back up. And, you feel guilty because part of the story is missing, it feels fragmented, disjointed, etc.

But, I’m here. I am going to try this again. Because, for me, I feel like I am missing important reflections that I would rather read about instead of experience time and time again. Maybe there are parents who are still going through those challenges that I am … or have gone through them … and … … even if my story does seem fragmented, to leave it even more fragmented do to a bit of guilt and blogger shame is rediculous. Besides, I yearn for a bit of discussion and co-blogger analysis.

this is me, I am human, let’s move on.

For those who either enjoy or are in constant need of visuals, I’ll try … … again, to link my facebook and post some pictures of our growth, etc.

To those who are actually still subscribed to my blog, I give a hearty “thanks!” And, know that I’ll keep writing. I do ask that you comment because I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my experiences / analysis / etc.

linking to another blog:

Ok, so I know that this particular blog has been inactive for quite sometime. and, I’m traveling soon and have lots to say, but feel guilty about so much time lapsing and not writing. We have missed so much!!!
We missed picking all of the green tomatoes out of the garden. I forgot to blog about how many words he can say now and his favorite toys and the fact that he tries to climb everything and his trips to the museum, etc. But, I need to practice putting in links and such. So, here goes.
We are traveling to Pakistan in … … 32hours…. exactly 32hours and our plane will take off from chicago. So, I am writing a blog just about our traveling in Pakistan.
Check it out at:
Pakistani safari
I hope that this link words. I have been trying to post links. Now, onto the video portion of this email…. and a way to make it relevant.
We will be attending a wedding… … how fun!
Here is a link to a Punjabi style wedding

Hopefully people can see this vidoe.
If not, excuse
me while I play around with these settings so that I can post videos and/or pictures and audio for family.
please check out my other blog and leave comments as well.

A package from Pakistan

Today we finally got the package! It came all the way from Pakistan. I had asked DH to ask his in-laws to get some of those plastic placemats that you put on the floor and a shilwar kamis for the baby. Those have not come yet. But, we were so excited that the package had finally come. After all, it had been lost in customs for a while and was almost sent back to Pakistan. And, nowadays, it costs his father a lot of Pak Rupies to send such packages!
Anyway, There were three wonderfully warm outfits, a snowsuit (which Azaan doesn’t have yet) and three pairs of shoes. The smallest pair of shoes (which fit him wonderfully) squeak. There is also a larger pair of shoes that light up. DH’s mother was wise in getting three different sizes of shoes. Luckily, the smallest just fit him, so he will be in shoes for a while. and…. … they probably didn’t send toys because Azaan has so many: especially acording to DH’s standards.
At first, he did not know what to think of the shoes. But then, the baby started walking in circles around DH and I… … just to hear the shoes squeak. I’ll try on the clothes tomorrow and try to send / upload a pic. The clothes are not Shilwar kamis, so they will probably look pretty “American.” But, they are good clothes. My mother in law picked out the clothes and although I don’t know what they say: two shirts have writing or pictures on them. the third shirt is a nice dress shirt. The clothes seem to be quite warm! We are greatful and excited. I want to get pictures and maybe I’ll try a video tomorrow!

Halloween reflections!

I just spent 45mins writing this while Azaan was asleep and it somehow was deleted with a stroke of a finger. (really frustrating).
anyway, (2nd time)
I dislike Halloween. I always have. I don’t think it is fun to scare people or to be scared. And, often people’s antics are just annoying, not scarry at all. I don’t like the pranks that they pull, either. Now, I am not an overly serious person, but these pranks have an ominous bent to them which makes them distasteful for me. Although, DH would love to find a good haunted house to visit. Most are too visual and he does not want to spend the money unless he is sure that he will get something out of it!
We (I) did pass out candy this year. Next year, I will be prepared and find some glow in the dark toys to pass out instead. I only had seven trick-or-treaters within three families. I decided to pass out candy in an effort to get to know my neighbors. It really didn’t work much. And, when DH came home from the mosque, he flippantly turned off our porch light to save money. Of course, being totally blind, I did not realize that he had turned out the light until he told me an hour later…. by that time, trick-or-treating was over. But, I really don’t like the aspect of begging for candy. OK, some of it is harmless, but why threaten to take revenge if you are not given what you want. How spoiled!!! Which leads into another reason that I dislike Halloween.
A pumpkin is gutted and carved and a candle is placed inside. this insures that the pervectly nutritious vegetable inside will be ruined. What a waste of food. In keeping with my theme, I must admit that I never liked or encouraged my children to play with their food. I won’t be putting my baby in a tub of uncooked rice for the sensory experience. I won’t be letting my child paint with jello and cool-aid. I won’t be using whip cream to help my child learn to draw. We won’t be using beans or macaroni for art projects that will just get tossed aside in another year. Although it is fun, I won’t be buying a gingerbread house kit so that my child can create with food. Food is for eating. How privileged we are to use food as art when others are starving…. … yes, even here in America!!!
I did buy a pumpkin and will hopefully harvest pumpkins bought by any family members who haven’t rendered the vegetable useless. My sister found some great ways to decorate pumpkins that did not include cutting or opening the pumpkin. Thanks Pintrest!! I don’t know who Diana Ratray is on “” but she is certainly not very helpful when it comes to pumpkin preparation. I can’t get the rind off the pumpkin so am steaming it in chunks in the hopes that I can peel the rind off when we are finished. Hopefully, if this works out, I’ll make a great pumpkin bread with a creamy icing in the middle for DH and a pumpkin soup which I will thoroughly enjoy. Baby Azaan will probably love them both: but I’ll have to do some convincing to get DH to eat the soup. I’ll make some pumpkin seeds and spice them with chaat or cayenne for DH. I like mine with plain seasalt. I think that I might try to make a kind of “Nimco trailmix.” It might have spiced pumpkin seeds, candied cayenne pecans, honey roasted peanuts, chaat cashews, cheesy chex, goldfish, raisins, banana chips, garlic chips, chocolate pieces, mini sugar coconut balls(found in Shahi maywa), little cheese crackers, wasabe peas, roasted chana, sunflower seeds, small pretzle rods, chereos, dried cranberries/cherries/apricots, jellybellies, namak para and whatever else I can find. I’ll put them in small ziplock bags so we will always have some snacks around.
When Azaan gets old enough, we will probably have an autumn party which might include lots of pumpkin recipes, leaf collecting and whatever I can think of to celebrate autumn and harvest, but not Halloween. Maybe I’ll have a costume part of the party, but no devils/gobblins/etc. but, I have time to think about it because the baby is only 11months old.
In any case, I hope that this pumpkin steaming/preparation comes out well. If I can get a pumpkin bread made in time, I’ll take it to a friend who has three children(a four-year-old and 7mo twins) because she has invited me over today. I’ll help her with her English and maybe she’ll help me perfect my Biryani. Who knows!

tick-tock to ten months

The clock is ticking!

First, an interesting fact, my baby has now spent more of his life outside the womb.
update: Azaan will be ten months tomorrow. He is not walking yet, but it won’t be long. He can stand on his own… … if he just doesn’t move. He’s trying to walk or at least turn by himself. We don’t have shoes for him yet, but DH’s family should be sending some soon. I wanted to get shoes before now to strengthen his ankles — and (for the added benefit that they will keep on his socks), but we had a clash and I just let it go. He can now say the “d,” “B,” gutteral “gh” and “p” sounds. About six weeks ago, I had to go into the hospital. When I came out, he was saying the “m” sound (like “mama,”) for the first three days that I was home. But, it hadn’t resurfaced until last week. He also has this nasal sound that he makes, as if he is trying to say his words through his nose without opening his mouth. Weird but interesting. He also tends to crishendo his voice as if we are not listening, so he has to get louder and kind of punctuate what he is saying.
Azaan has four teeth: (three on top and one on bottom). At first, I was very careful about what my baby ate. But, due to other people’s (I won’t mention names) desires, he has tasted — and enjoyed the following foods:
cookies, kaju burfi, cake, ice cream, fruit loops, gulab jamun and the latest — cotton candy. OK, some of it was not DH’s fault: Azaan grabbed the gulab jamun off of my plate, my sister gave him fruit loops while I was in the hospital, someone gave him a bite of cake without my permission, my daughter gave him parts of a cookie. But, DH wanted him to taste Kaju burfi and cotton candy was gotten at a picnic that DH attended and he just had to bring Azaan “something” home. Actually, Azaan did not like the cotton candy. He did not like the feel of cotton in his mouth. The baby has also eaten: brown and white rice, aloo bajia (a vegetable potato dish spiced with IndoPak flavors), egg yolks, grape pieces, hummus, chana (spiced garbanzo beans), motzarella cheese, ground chicken and fish and pasta. His system can’t seem to handle oatmeal and will only tolerate wheat bread if it is toasted. I won’t feed him corn, citrus fruits, strawberries, beans, tomatoes or anything that is hard to chew. But, he wants to eat everything. He is a lip smacker, like his father. The baby is still drinking breast milk, but won’t hold the bottle on his own. He tries, but can’t hold it high enough to get milk. He can’t drink from a sippy cup either, but he tries.
He is learning how to open drawers and swing a door(which he especially finds irresistable if it squeaks). . He can pull clothes out of a basket (or the dryer). He likes to grab toes and noses. Just yesterday, he started clapping his hands and playing “Crawl keep away,” with his father. He will bring me a book and let me turn him around so that he sits in my lap. He will look at the pictures while I read the book. He does like to flip the pages. He can open a swinging cabinet door and take out all of the pans that are inside.
There are a few different ways of putting him to sleep. He’ll climb to your shoulder and rock back and forth if he wants to be on the shoulder and rocked(even if you are laying down). . He will roll from side to side if he wants to be in his crip or on the floor. He also pokes me with his thumb and puts his fingers in his mouth when he is sleepy. He doesn’t do the “sleepy moan,” much anymore. He goes to sleep between 8:00 and 10:00 every night. Yes, he still wakes up a few times during the night. This doesn’t bother me. He wakes up between 6:00 and 7:00 every morning. He use to take two naps in the day: one at 9:30–10:00 for about 30minutes and another about 12:00 for a couple of hours. But, now, he only takes one big nap. When he wakes up in a bad mood (crying), I put him back to sleep until he wakes up in a good mood (laughing, gabbling or making other funny sounds with his mouth). This is because I know that he is still sleepy.
Azaan is not immitating or taking turns yet. But, it is not time for him to do this yet. My mother thinks that he should understand the word “no.” but I am certain that he doesn’t, even though I tell him “no” when he pulls my hair, tries to climb the stairs or plays with our blinds.
I love to see him learn new things. He is kind of shy when new people are around. But, when he is comfortable, there is no shortage of laughing and gabbling. It is so fun to see him learn and grow. I love these baby times. And, no matter if you are with your little infant 24-7 and even if you take pictures and record his very cute baby voice with your IPhone, you will still think that the time is going too fast and that you need a magic spell to slow it down. There is an Urdu story about a man who is so impatient that he “pulls the string of time,” from the “spool of life,” to make his life go faster so that he can get to the good parts. The problem is, he can’t go backward. So, he is quickly quite old and regrets his impatience. If I can find the name and the link to the story, I’ll post it. I’ll probably have to tell Azaan the story anyway. My point is that even when you try to cherish every moment with your baby, it will still feel like it has gone way too fast… … and he is only ten months old. I am doomed!

retiring my guide Fallbrook

I bet you didn’t know that I have / had a guide dog since 2006. I wanted to write about this earlier, but am just too lazy to put in the links and a couple of pictures (which would make the blog more interesting and probably also generate some traffic). If I can find a picture, I’ll put it in in another post and just have another post called: “Fallbrook.”
there were many reasons that I chose to get a guide dog in that stage of my life, but by 2010, I married and my life became very different. I won’t elaborate on the differences in this post, but will make mention of them in a later post. And, I have talked about the problems that surround my guide on my other blog:
some will ask, “Why not retire the dog and keep him as a pet?” Well, while that is an option for many, it is not for us. First, DH is against having a pet (dog saliva and excrement, is unclean, dog hair is unclean, the dog must be on his best behavior at all times, etc)and would never support it. Second, if he did, the dog would have to stay in the garage. third, it is a lot of work for me. fourth, the dog is use to constant companionship and if he was our “pet” we would have to leave him home alone quite a bit and he would not enjoy himself. fifth, money money money. There is just not a compromise. And, even if there were, I am not sure that I want to deal with it. I think that Fallbrook would be better off with another family.
When I went to the hospital to have the baby, a friend of mine took the dog. Since I have had the baby, discord about the dog has grown. And, I have to admit, it is much more difficult to work the dog and carry the baby. Yes, I know women who do it… just as I know women who juggle working and parenting. But, in both cases, I’m not that woman.
OK, (for anyone who is clueless or who has just started reading this blog) DH has a firm dislike for dogs. they are unclean. Again, I don’t have time to reference it, but the Hanifis support “no dogs in the house,” and such. I could argue that guide dogs are service dogs and therefore should get an exception. He tollerated the dog until I had the baby. But, he just can’t stand dogs around him and/or the baby. The dog hair is unclean, licking is unclean, etc. Honestly, I don’t like a dog licking me, either. but, he goes way overboard. We have had too many arguments about this subject. He is extreme, but not always wrong. And, I have family that go to the other extreme. It is so tiring to broker the middle ground. My father (and daughter to some extent as well) treat dogs as if they are “little humans.” My father feeds his dogs table food, lets them rule the house, gives excuses when they bark and growl at people, won’t keep them in their cage, justifies when they mess on the floor, lets them ride in the car (but without a seatbelt or cage) to accompany him everywhere, won’t spay or neuter or vaccinate the dog, buys his dogs endless toys, allows his dogs on the furniture(even his bed — under the covers) and generally treats them like his children. I would not go that far, but I need to say:
I already miss my guide, Fallbrook. He is so well trained. He listens quite well. He is also gentle with little kids and babies. He slows down when I am carrying the baby and tries to be very careful when going over a step. there wer even times when I had to lean on him a bit and he took it all in good stride. There was a time when I accidently set the car seat on his paw and he just calmly moved his paw out from under the car seat. when a baby crawls and steps on him, he just moves so that the baby can’t reach him. I know that the dog will miss me, too. He is just so happy to be here. This is not saying that I want the dog all of the time. Now he is fine. But, We have decided that the dog will leave (tonight) and the Guide Dog representative will visit Fallbrook in his “soon to be” new home. It is a home with four children and two parents. They had the dog for two weeks after the baby was born and just fell in love with him… and I think that he enjoys them, also.
DH is now ready to get a vacuum. I hesitated because I want a good one without a “kirby price tag.” So, we do, as of now, have lots of dog hair on the floor. We have been using others’ vacuums for now.
Anyway, I miss my dog. And, I don’t want the baby to be so rigid about dogs. OK, he doesn’t have to be an animal lover — I’m not. But, I know that he loves watching the dog — at least my daughter’s little one. I think what I’ll do is take the baby in the stoler outside today and then groom the dog. I’ll keep the dog a safe distance from the baby, but be able to let the baby watch the dog and give the dog some attention. The baby doesn’t seem to be as excited about Fallbrook. I think that this is because Fallbrook doesn’t move fast and is big. He tries to pull the tail of my daughter’s dog, Piper. I let the baby touch the dog’s tail or paws and then wash his hands and use hand sanitizer afterwords. I teach the baby how to pet the dog, but make sure that the baby is not by the dog’s head. And, I wash the baby’s hands afterword so that dog hair does not get into his mouth. But, I will not let the baby come close to the dog’s face at all. I respect DH’s concerns, even if I don’t share them as fervently as he does. He asks: “what will you do if the dog licks the baby?” I am not sure what reply he is looking for, I want to say: “Wash and sanitize his hands,” but instead I say: “Take him to the hospital and get him checked for diseases.” OK, I’m being sarcastic, but not by much. If it didn’t cost money, DH knows that he would actually do that very thing.
In any case, it is going to be an interesting day with the baby and I. I’d love to here what all of you do about your children when they interact with animals. Do you and your spouse have the same level of comfort with animals? If you don’t, how do you compromise? The baby probably won’t notice a difference with the dog being gone…. but, I am not sure.
I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts.


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