Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teaching Do's and Don'ts

Do tell your students to refrain from saying "aint" and "finna"

Don't say "aint" when you are talking to them, otherwise they will catch you and laugh. You will also be a hypocrite. And telling them that you were "testing their listening ears" doesn't work.

Do tell your kids of important phone calls that you have to take during class so they dont randomly go home and tell their parents that their teacher was on the phone during class.

Don't have your phone out so much that even your students are able to recognize when you've gotten a new one.

Do forget every negative thing done during the day.

Don't take it home and take it out on your significant other or your siblings.

Do take breaks during the day.

Don't constantly go to your computer and check Twitter, Blogger, and Gmail.

Do yell when your kids dont follow directions.

Don't leave your door open when you do it though.

Do write down cute things your kids do and say like these:

Student:DADDY! why are you picking me up early? Are we going to that Jesus Memorial thingy stuff?

Student: Ms. Attitude, I just found out that my dad is a criminal.
Me: What?
Student: Yeah he sells and makes pirated movies.
Me: Huh.
Student: And that's ILLEGAL!
Me:Good Morning!

Student: Salutations, Ms. Attitude

Writing prompt: Write a letter to the president of the USA.

Student response:Dear Malcolm X

Student:I have some sad news

Me:Ok but you're smiling.

Student:Well I'm happy.


Student:Well my news is I'm going to visit my grandma for spring break.

Me:Why is that sad news? know...... because I figured a lot of people are going to miss me.


And lastly, DO teach science. Believe it or not, it's actually really, rather important.

DON'T,however, let the whole year pass, complain to your sisters and friends, ask them for help, get their help, and still wait until April to do it though.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hijabis R' Us

My two nieces: Myra and Sue

My nieces love dressing up . One day Sue was wearing my knee high boots, a collared button down and hijab and said "Look Khala (Aunt), I'm you."

The other one, Myra, likes to dress up like dad.

I'm surprised they sat still for this picture.

They look cool though, don't they? LOL.

They haven't started to wear the hijab yet. My sisters just wanted to dress them up.

Anyways, a lot of Muslim parents have their daughters wear the hijab when they are young.Technically we are supposed to start wearing it when we hit puberty which is around 12,13,14 etc.

It's not obligatory before that.

People have different opinions on this---whether parents should have their daughters wear hijab at such a young age.

Some think: Too young.

Others say: Younger the better.

I say: Let the kid decide.

What do you say?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mrs. Cullen: The Teacher

Dear Friends,

I feel like its been forever. I was gone for a week but I feel like I’ve been gone forever. For the third year, I participated in something called Alternative Spring Break with my college. It’s basically a program that is dedicated towards community service and learning about our city. It was about 50 of us this year. We all stayed in a church for the week, would attend lectures in the morning, would do community service during the day, and then go to a different cultural restaurant every night. It was so much fun. Sigh. Since this was my third year, I already knew some of the people, but of course majority were new. So, I met a lot of AMAZING people. Sigh.

During the community service part, everyone is split up in different groups. For the last two years my group was “Crime and Blight,” so we would have to do service related to this. This year I choose “Education.” Sigh. The other two groups are “Hunger and Homelessness” and “Arts and Culture.” And all but the latter are MAJOR ISSUES in my huge city, which btw is 143 square miles. So that means its bigger than San Francisco, DC, and Seattle combined. Anywayyyyy, I had an amazing week. And it sucks because it’s just so hard to explain to my friends and family what a week it was and the only people who understand is the ones you were there with. Thank God one of my good friends was with me because its something I can talk to her about often. And, on the last day there is a banquet and we were allowed to invite friends or family and I invited two of my friends, so now they know how my week was too.

Since my group was “Education” we volunteered at a school and a literacy center. The school was actually an after school program for kids from all over the city (since the whole Education system in our city is messed up….there is a 80% drop out rate and 50% literacy rate……SIGH…). My group and I did reading evaluations on the kids and we also helped them with their homework. One of the days the reading evaluation required us to ask 5 year olds a bunch of questions. One worksheet had a list of the alphabet. The students had to recognize each letter, the sound of each letter, and say a word that started with each letter. This was fun. One thing I will never forget is when the word was “W” and I asked the boy for a word that starts with “W” and he said “wunny nose” (instead of runny nose—SO CUTE!). Another question was about rhyming. This was sad. Sigh. 5 year olds should know how to rhyme…. and they should know nursery rhymes…but this was not the case. I couldn’t get one of my students to say a word that rhymed with cat….and I couldn’t even explain to her what a “rhyme” was…because she just didn’t understand…

The literacy center was amazing! It a tutoring center for adults and students. The adults are mostly trying to get their GEDs and need help studying, while they kids just get help with school. A lot of the adults are also ESL (English as a second language) students. Also, some of them are simply out of work and need help writing resumes and practicing interviews. This center is AMAZING because all of the tutoring is FREE! Isn’t that great!!?!?! I’m gonna start volunteering there full-time! One of the days I spent 4 hours helping 1 lady write a resume. She was 51 years old, out of work and didn’t know how to spell words as simple as: often and October..sigh! This whole experience was so heartbreaking….

Anyway, of course we also had a lot of fun during the week. All of the participants of ASB had a mock wedding, which is something my friends and I have wanted to do for a long time. IT WAS AWESOME! Everyone got so into it. I was the priest. Hehe. Anyway, this is getting pretty long so I should get going. I am sad to be back home...Actually, I'm pretty depressed.. I miss ASB, all the friends I made, and all the memories and the volunteering...the teaching..and just I dunno...Sigh…Sigh…

Yours for the Sake of Peace and Eju-ma-kation,
Mrs. Cullen

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just Dance

Did anyone purchase this game for Wii?? CUZ I HAVE! It came in the mail yesterday. I needed to persuade The Husband a little bit because he wasn't feeling too comfortable with the idea of me being able to watch him dance (yet supposedly he LOVES to dance. Go figure.)

The commercial made it look like so much fun and I figured this is a healthy substitute for going clubbing (not that I've ever been clubbing). Yeah yeah, you all might think it's lame-oh but The All Mighty Allah has commanded us to surround ourselves with good (good people, good environment...) and lower our gaze/protect our modesty. And no matter what people say, especially other Muslims, there is NO wayyyyyyy you can go to the club and lower your gaze/not get involved in the dancing! Come on let's be real! BTW: I'm soooooooooo thankful to God my close friends (the authors on this blog, plus more that aren't on this blog) were never part of that social scene (drugs/clubbing) because you are who you're friends are. <3 you guys.

So ANYWAY, I decided to bring the dancing to MY house, so it can be halal and stufff. :) The Husband and I played the game for a half hour and I'll tell you, he's better than I am. When you're "dancing" to the music, you will either get an X, OK, or GREAT, depending on how close you imitate their moves. I got a few GREATS and mostly X's and OK's, lol but The Husband got LOTS of GREAT and everytime I'd turn to see what he was doing, he'd get embarrassed, lol. The hardest dance was "Groove is in the Heart" cuz there were all these funny arm movements and I was always doing the opposite of the image on the screen. It seemed more like a workout rather than dancing, which is fine cuz I sure need a workout. But I am going to bring this game plus my two Wii controllers when I go to the midwest for vacation (in 2 weeks) and I'm expecting you all (the authors on this blog) to play this game with me! Trust me, it'll be so much fun! And since my sister has Wii, we'll have a total of 4 people playing at once. Can't wait to see who's got the best dance moves! ;)

Oh and I wanted to leave you with one of my favorite verses from the Qur'an: "Was not the Earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?" Chapter 4:97. This is one of my favorite verses because it's so true. We (myself first) all need to stop coming up with so many excuses for our behavior because one day that same excuse isn't going to cut it.

- Simply Me

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Midweek pick-me-up

I had exams when my aunt got these cuties, so I don't have pictures of their first day home. They're growing up so fast and their wings are starting to grow. Before they were tiny, fluffy, colored balls. I don't know how they dye them but I hope it wasn't too traumatic. The green ones are hyper. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Family Feud

My sister and I had one of the biggest fights of our lives yesterday. We thought we had figured it out but we definitely didn't. The fight continued on today. It's so strange because we have a very intimate and open relationship so this fight sort of came out of nowhere.

I guess after the dust settled it really made me think about relationships we have with our family members. Why is it that when it comes to family that we feel comfortable enough to raise our voices, to say things we don't mean, to be rude, and so on and so forth but when it comes to everyone else we bite our tongues or keep tighter control of our emotions?

I mean if you think about it which people are more important to treat well? Our families. They're the ones who have been with us and will continue to be with us our entire lives; they're blood and there's no breaking that tie. But everyone just comes and goes.

There's a saying of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that I really love...

خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ

It roughly translates to: "The best among you is the best of you to his family"

I feel like it has such a beautiful meaning. Anyone can having amazing manners and behaviors with peers, co-workers, even friends. Like when my peer just really pisses me off like no other...what's my response? Usually I won't show that I'm upset. If I feel the need to address it I'll be extremely cordial and cautious not to hurt the person's feelings because I don't want the confrontation to blow up in my face.

But the harder relationship to having amazing manners with is usually our family members. Lets say my sister pisses me off. What's my reaction then? I might be calm for a little bit but if she really pushes my buttons I'll go off on her. "What the heck is you freaking problem, woman?!?" And its funny because most of us probably do this and don't really think about the confrontation blowing up in our faces.

But the question is WHY?? I have a few reasons simmering in my mind but I want to know what you all think? Why is it so easy for us to treat outsiders with good manners but we're so lax with our families?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's about time

I've been living in India since July 18, 2005.

It's been almost five years and I haven't really spoken about my experience to anyone in detail.
I end up hating it when I go back home and everyone's all, "How's India" on me. My time here is coming to an end rather quickly and I haven't really spoken much of it. I think the main reason is that I didn't really like living here. It was hard to adjust socially, and then the stress of medical school combined with the third world experience made me like it less and less.

I finally get to go home soon. Permanently. But a part of me isn't that excited. Despite the long list of complaints I have about this country, it has been my home for the past 5 years. You can't throw away five years like that. Well, the good at least. The friends that I have made, the weather, the hospitality.

Living in a different country is completely different from visiting one in a lot of ways. For one thing, when one is visiting a country you don't notice a lot of stuff. Like how it takes over a month to clear a foreign check. Or worrying about the maid stealing all your stuff. or going without water for three days because the tanker didn't come by. Or how everything a lot of things are shut down multiple times a month because of holidays. Or how if you need to get one thing done, you need to put aside ten days for it to happen.

Enough complaining. I'm going to start writing and share as much of my experience here with you guys as possible. A lot of them are LOL funny. This one is kind of boring but people always ask me why I decided to move so I'll start there.

Rewind to Winter 2003/2004.

I was finishing up high school and my dad brought up the idea of med school in India. "Hell to the no," I decided initially. But when it came to decide what college I wanted to go to after receiving my acceptance letters my dad brought it up again. He never ever forced me. He just mentioned it and the perks about it, like living in a new country and gaining experience with the outside world. How I can skip undergrad completely and finish four or more years earlier than everyone else my age. Or how I can get a chance to get to know my family back home. Etcetera. He asked me a few times that year and I always declined the offer, but something inside me always wanted him to ask me again. but I wouldn't ask him about it.

Skip to Winter 2005. Life was good. I had an amazingly fun time at college and met the people who are very very close to me to this day. {some of the authors on the blog..I still can't believe you guys feel like family after knowing each other for less than a year} I was doing dietetics/nutrition. And I was trying to figure out what to do with my nutrition major. I was interesting but I don't think I'd have fun working as a dietitian.

I asked my dad. He basically said no matter what I decide to do, I should be the best in my field. And that if I'm going to give whatever I'm doing my very best then I should try out for med school. If you haven't guessed, Indians have about three options in life: you become a doctor, an engineer, or nothing (which is everything else). I was not interested in doing med school in America. I have zero interest in all the prerequisites. And it's so hard to get in. And there's no guarantee you'll make it. Yeah I sound like a wuss right now, but I don't like putting in so much if there's a huge chance my hard work will go to waste.

So anyways, my dad mentioned it again a few days later. I told him I'd think about it. And something inside me was telling me to go. People usually get these feelings for relationships and other emotional crap. I had a feeling I'd regret not going and then it'd be too late.

So my sister finished up high school and got talked into coming, too. It would be my mom, my sister and my two year old sister. My mom decided to move with us because no one would marry us if they found out we lived alone. True story. haha.

This was probably the scariest thing I've ever done. To just pack up and leave my life behind me to start a new thing, in a new place with new people is something I would never dream of doing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brutally shattered

The 3-year-old child picks up the phone and dials the only number he knows. He frantically sobs and says, “Dad broke a plate.”

“Did he hit anyone?” the receiver asks.

“No. He broke a plate,” the child sobs. “He was fighting with mom.”

There she sits on the black dining room sofa. Her back is as stiff as the wooden recliner with boxy cushions. Her eyes are red, worn out and wet. She stares ahead, with no sounds except for an occasional sniff.

Her children watch her.

They walk away.

The neighbors may have heard. They won’t say a word.

Walking with a swish-swash, the father rearranges dishes, stomps his feet and walks around the house. His forehead is creased; his glasses are removed, revealing his tired eyes.

This was not the first time.

In his world, the man is the authority of the house – and there’s no debating. It’s his way or the highway. The children and his wife must obey his commands. They should not have an opinion, suggestion or argument. Neither should they ignore, nor should they answer his questions.

The family members scatter and go to bed.

They fall asleep in the silence that will not be broken until the next morning, when everyone will pretend nothing ever happened.

This story was written to capture the taboo of talking about domestic violence in the South Asian community.

Statistics of violence in South Asia:
Google Images.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mrs. Cullen: The Worried One

Dear Friends,

I’m so freaked out right now. Did you hear that there was ANOTHER earthquake? Yes, another one. SIGH. What the heck is going on???! I’m so freaked out and scared. For many reasons. One reason is that SO MANY PEOPLE ARE DYING. Another is that I live in an area where earthquakes don’t happen (nor are they really possible) and I just feel terrible for all the other people who live in areas where earthquakes are prevalent. Sigh. The main reason I feel so scared/odd right now is because in Islam we believe that there are many things that are signs of the coming of the Day of Judgment/Resurrection. And yes, an increase in earthquakes happens to be one of those signs.

Sigh. I just feel so…I dunno. Its so odd. That I am a 20-some year old and a lot of the “signs” we believe in have already occurred or is occurring. It’s just scary. And it just makes everything so REAL. Does that make sense?

Blah. I really don’t know what else to say. I can’t explain how I feel right now. I mean..whether I am alive before the Day, or just seems so…real. But I guess I should tell you guys some of the signs of the DOJ….Blah.

It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) spoke of a variety of signs. These include..

-People will compete with one another in constructing high buildings
-Two big groups will fight one another and there will be many causalities –they will both be following the same religious teachings
-Earthquakes will increase
-Time will pass quickly
-Afflictions and killing will increase
-When a man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother and treats his friends kindly whilst shunning his father
-Knowledge will decrease and ignorance will prevail
-When people treat a man with respect because they fear some evil he may do
-Fornication and the drinking of wine will be common
-The number of men will decrease and the number of women will increase, until one man will look after fifty women.

I bet we can all think of examples of many of these things and alas, there are many, many more signs. Sigh. If you want you can read this.

Sigh. I just..I dunno..

But as scary/odd/interesting?/blah as this all is, I'm kinda glad that some of the signs have not yet occurred and praying that they don't occur doing my lifetime. For example, another sign is that the Qur'an will disappear in one night from the books and from everyone's hearts. That just worries and scares me. It saddens me to know that there will be a point in this world that this will occur...Sigh.

Yours for the Sake of Peace and Sisterhood,
Mrs. Cullen

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Makeup Bag

I published this post at around 7pm but due to some glitches, the site got a little screwed up, I think. So here's to trying again!

A practicing Muslim woman who wears hijab (head covering and modest clothing) and wears makeup can be subject to a lot of criticism from her peers and community members. Some think hijab and makeup don't fit well together. "What's the point of being so modest if you're going to wear all that makeup?" Even if "all that" is just wearing your eyeliner really thick. "It's going to attract the opposite sex and defeats the purpose of hijab don't you think???" "Why be so fake?" "What happened to being natural?" "I know I wear makeup, but at least I'm not a HIJABI wearing makeup..." And of course, the usual "Wearing makeup is HARAM!" from people who think everything is haram (impermissible), lol. In my personal opinion, I think women IN GENERAL should never wear too much makeup. Moderation is the way to go! Now with THAT being said...

I always have THE hardest time finding the right cosmetic/skincare product to use, whether it's the right shade of blush, an eyeliner that sets in dark and doesn't bleed throughout the day or finding the best makeup remover. I have tried quite a handful of products and although I'm not an expert on anything makeup related (so don't take my advice), I just wanted to share my favorite makeup items along with some tips (ok, ok....very very few tips). Enjoy!

My favorite type of eyeliner is liquid eyeliner but because of my slightly unsteady hands, I can never get the perfect look I have always dreamed of (the winged, thin to thick look) so I usually stick to pencil. Or I'll draw the initial line with pencil and carefully go over it with liquid.

I'm currrently using Maybelline "Line Stiletto" in Black

with Victoria's Secret "Very Sexy Eye Liner" in Black Velvet.

I was surprised at how much I loved VS's eyeliner! It's pretty
comparable to my all time most favorite favoriteeeee eyeliner:
N.Y.C. "Classic Brow and Liner Pencil"
in Jet Black.

Do you KNOW how much this eyeliner costs? ONLY $0.99! It's SUCH a steal and comes out pretty dark with the first application. It also doesn't bleed out TOO much when I use it on my bottom lid.


Lancome "Definicils High Definition Mascara" in Black

I only used this because my MIL got it for me and I would say it's quite good but once this ran out, I went snooping around CVS for something cheaper and more volumizing. After a half hour in the Target makeup aisle, I decided to take a risk and buy Maybelline "The Colossal Volum' Express." And guess what? It is great!! It really lengthens my eyelashes, as advertised (because of the collagen formula) without getting them clumpy.

It's a MUST TRY and only about $6.00!

I'm a gloss typa' gal!

Since July of last year, MAC "Tinted Lipglass" in "Viva Glam V"
has become my new favorite lipgloss, or according to MAC, lipGLASS.

It pairs really well with Lancome "Color Fever Gloss" in "On Fire"
(I apply On Fire first)

Every time I wear these two together, I get a LOT of compliments...even from C.C, which always catches me off guard. She is one who doesn't wear ANY makeup and probably doesn't know much about it either BUT it's ok because we stilllllllll love her! :)


MAC Mineralize Blush in Grand Duo was available
for a limited time and I'm so glad I purchased it!

Because Grand Duo gives me a shimmery look (which The Husband thinks looks so silly), I decided to take a trip to the MAC counter at Macy*s today to get something more natural looking that I could wear during the day.

I ended up buying MAC Sheertone Blush in Gingerly

This is what the color Gingerly looks like on the MAC
website but in reality it has more of a pink/brown tone.

I feel foundation powder makes my skin look dry so I stick to liquid.

According to CoverGirl, I'm Soft Honey #155

And according to MAC, I'm NC#42 in Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15.

I love this product because it looks so "natural" and no one is ever able to tell I have it on!

I have to admit, once you go MAC, you never wanna go back! Hahahahahaha, ok I know I know that was very corny BUT MAC really caters to girls who have darker than beige complexions. Their makeup line is great!

I think I have tried makeup remover wipes ONCE and I thought it was a waste of money because there just wasn't ENOUGH to last me a long time.

CoverGirl Clean Makeup Remover
feels so oily and
smells like elmers glue so make sure you stay away!

A sales associate pressured me into purchasing
Lancome Micellar Cleansing Water for Face, Eyes, and Lips

It wasn't all that! It was too weak of a solution to remove any mascara and it didn't work well on my lips.

But Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover
is, in my humble opinion, the best!!

But since I'm not willing to cough up $26.00, I've found the second
best alternative: Clean and Clear Soothing Eye Makeup Remover (about $6.00)

I use it with Clean and Clear Makeup Dissolving Foaming Cleanser.

This products easily removes my mascara and I lovveeeee the foaming effect. Don'taskwhy.

And if you're really feeling lazy, you can always use Pond's Cold Cream or Vaseline to get rid of all the mess!

I definitely don't wear all these products at once. God knows I'd look like an ugly clown! I save the makeup wearing for get togethers or parties usually. Other than that, I like to wear as little as possible. For everyday use, I stick to my MAC lipgloss, mascara and just a bit of concealer under the eyes (if I feel I look tired). And the days I'm REALLY feeling good about myself, I don't wear any makeup at all! :)

Now you tell me, what's in YOUR makeup bag?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I work at one of my Uncle’s hotels’ in reservations which is- interesting to say the least. Last week we checked in our first Bolivian guest, who also happened to be a diplomat. Which was really awesome. Anyways, so the system is set up where you have to put in the person’s nationality and send a police report for every guest that checks in. We didn’t have Bolivia in our system. And it was really funny because my supervisor was like, oh so he’s American we’ll just put him as American in the system. And im like staring at him- like whaaa? He’s SOUTH AMERICAN meaning different continent… it was funny. And the guest was soooo incredibly nice that I told him all food and drinks were on me :).

What else has happened? Oh, I got a shiatsu massage- for those of you who don’t know what that means; it’s a Japanese form of torture. Now I only went because I went on a bunch of rides with my cousins where they don’t have safety belts so your like being tossed around in a giant salad bowl and my arms and back kept getting hit over and over again. Oh and the icing on the cake was my cousin’s friend, who fell off her seat and then proceeded to kick me in the back as the ride spun around- again, and again. It was …fun.

Back to the massage. I give these people props for the whole setup. It was like walking into medieval Japan, pretty cool. The music was just right. They had an overflowing waterfall and dim lighting. Even the massage bed was on the floor in these little Japanese-like rooms that opened and closed like canvas screens. I felt very trustful and open. And then the torture began.

The way this woman used and moved my muscles.. I can not describe nor do I want to. Lets just say afterwards I felt like spaghetti- and not in a good way. Although I’m not entirely sure how feeling like spaghetti could ever be misconstrued as good… but I guess it worked because I feel amazing now. But I WILL NEVER GO BACK.

Oh and I got my work visa! YES!! :D I didn’t actually do anything but one of my uncles was running around for three days getting everything done. All I had to do was show up at the hospital and take a blood test and a chest xray- im not sure why the xray but it was all smooth as butter. Although it was kind of awkward because they were mostly all guys there and that was the day I decided I would try on my electric blue tights… awkward. :)
Right. That is my update from the nether regions that is Dubai. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mrs. Cullen: The Illusionist

Dear Friends,

Nobody likes being misunderstood. Nobody does. Well, I don’t know why anybody would like it. Unless you are like in the FBI or something. I guess. I dunno. But I’m pretty sure my friend’s dad is in the CIA or FBI. Seriously! But obviously I will never find out. Sometimes I wonder if my friend has been forced to be my friend just so my family can be spied on. Haha. I’m so lame. But what if it was real? Probably not. That would be cool though. I think. Anyway. Back to being misunderstood.

You know what annoys me? When people think I’m not Indian. I mean- I know. How are you supposed to know that I’m Indian? I dunno. But just don’t assume I’m something else. Actually never mind. I really wouldn’t care if people thought I was ANY RACE---IF I didn’t wear a scarf on my head. But since I do wear a scarf on my head, I feel like people just automatically assume that I’m Arab. And it annoys me. YouknowwhatImean???

I dunno. I mean its 2010. I feel like people should know that not all Christians are white. Not all Buddhist are Asian. And so, not all Muslims are Arab? Is that fair enough to say? Anyway. That’s one thing that bothers me, out of the many zillion pet peeves that I have. Anyway. I came across this illusion on someone’s twitter background. Isn’t it so cool?? It seems like its moving but its not. I guess that’s why it’s called an illusion, LOL. Anyway. This illusion symbolizes my life because…am not getting anywhere in life…..but everyone thinks I am? Jaykay. I just wanted to sound philosophical. But that was a fail.

Yours for the sake of Peace and Sisterhood,
Mrs. Cullen