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6 Tips to Talk to Your Muslim Kids about 9/11

Every year around this time it’s impossible to escape the media reports, specials, and news focused on September 11, 2001. Having children who were not alive when the events happened but are now coming of an age where they begin to understand what is being seen and heard puts Muslim parents in a hard spot.  How much do you share about what happened and how do you do it? Last year my oldest son (3rd grade at the time) came home from school on that day and began asking questions – I knew we had missed the boat in talking to him, to prepare him, before others did.  It’s important for all parents to talk about events like this with their children but it’s especially important for Muslim parents.  Every conversation will of course be altered for the child’s age and level of understanding.  Here are some tips if you decide to talk with your children on this subject.

Talking about 9/11 with Muslim Kids

1) In plain language explain what happened. Something like, “In 2001, before you were born, there were two very big towers in New York. Some men took over airplanes and flew the planes into the buildings.  The buildings collapsed and a lot of people were killed. There were two other planes, one that was crashed into the Pentagon and one that went into a field. The men who took over the plane were bad people and they were also Muslim.  We know that Allah {God} has told us it is very bad to kill people. There are a lot of people who are not Muslim who don’t understand why this happened and they are sometimes angry with all Muslims for what happened. I’m telling you this because I want you to know if you meet someone who is angry or sad about this, why they feel that way.”

2) Tell them your 9/11 story. I think showing your children your connection to the event is really important because it makes it less abstract. I have told my children that I was in school when it happened and that even though it was far away from us in New York it was very scary because no one knew what was happening and it was the first time something so big had happened in the United States. I told them that everyone was very sad, many people cried and struggled to understand. I also tell them that some people got even more angry with Muslim people, or people they thought were Muslim and verbally and sometimes physically attacked them. If you have a story about something that happened to you then share it with them.

3) We’re American too.  Affirm to your children their identity.  Yes we are Muslim but I don’t want my kids to feel like they have to choose one side or the other.  It’s ok to be sad about what happened. There are and will be people who want to segregate us as Muslims, to take our rights as citizens away but children need to know they have just as many rights as anyone else and the acts of these people does not somehow erase their identity.

4) They don’t speak for us. By they I mean the people who perpetrated this crime and the people who blame Islam for the actions. There are many people and powers trying to write the narrative that is 9/11. I want to reinforce in my children the strength to stand up to either side and say, “No, that is not who I am.” I pray that raising them in a multicultural, mutli-religious environment will help them to create the identity of who they are and in turn give them the strength to stand proud in that.

5) There are bad people everywhere. This is a little touchy because on one hand you don’t want to scare your children, but on the other hand it’s important they understand reality. There are bad people who steal kids, there are bad people that steal things from other people, and there are bad people who kill other people. They all have different reasons for doing it, and many of them feel justified in their actions through their faith convictions (whether right or wrong), their life circumstances, or some other contributing factor.  This is a good time to bring up some analogies. For example, if your friend said “we can steal this candy from the store because Sammy did, and now he has candy and we don’t,” would that make it ok? No it would not because you know that taking something that isn’t yours is always wrong.

6) Be proud of who you are.  I don’t want my children to ever feel ashamed that they are Muslim. But, in an atmosphere of fear and Islamophobia they may want to hide their identity.  To some degree this may be a coping tactic, especially with young adolescents. There are so many good and amazing things Muslims have done, it’s important to reinforce this in our children. When a child is confronted by someone who may want to blame them for what happened on 9/11 they can provide something to counter it. “What happened makes me sad too, but did you know Muslims invented algebra?” Please note this is not meant to discredit the enormity of the event but to show one terrible thing does not negate the positive contributions that have been made.

There are many other topics that can be brought up in this conversation and should be targeted at your child’s age and experiences. Children who live in a big multicultural may not face the same kind of issues as a Muslim child in rural America might. No matter where you live, it’s important to have this conversation with your kids before someone else does.  It can provide them the information and tools they need to understand this difficult situation.

 What other tips would you share for Muslim parents having this conversation with their children?

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60+ Zucchini Recipes to Kick Off Fall
Before we left the US, zucchini was just coming into season. My mom’s garden was overflowing with zucchini and she had no idea what she was going to do with all of them. I remember the end of every summer producing more of this vegetable than we knew what to do with.  Neighbors would share them by the bag-full. I love zucchini because they have a light flavor and can be combined with sweet or savory flavors. Just about any dish you can imagine can incorporate zucchini either as the centerpiece or as an added vitamin booster (shhh don’t tell the kids!) Chances are you’ve got the same, delicious, situation as my mom. Here are more than 60 recipe ideas to use up all of your zucchini and yellow squash!


recipes with zucchini



Chocolate Zucchini Waffles from Farm Fresh Feasts
Zucchini Pancakes from Life and Kitchen

 Zucchini Breads and Muffins

Breads, Muffins, Cookies, and Cakes

Zucchini Appetizers


Light Meals

Zucchini Main Dish Recipes

Main Dishes

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite way to use zucchini?



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Raising Global Kids: Cultural Norms and Discipline of Children

Raising Global Kids and Discipline

There’s an old addage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” but one thing I’m learning is sometimes “doing as the Romans.” really isn’t the best idea – especially when it compromises your values. We live in an upstairs apartment in my mother-in-laws home and there are always a lot of people around. One of the issues with this is that a lot of kids + a lot of parents = a lot of personalities. I’ve noticed that kids here, well at least the ones around us, physically fight a lot. They think nothing of slapping each other on the back of the neck or head, especially when they are upset or angry.

Parents more or less stay out of it, until it escalates. Then the parents will physically punish the child. Maybe with a shoe or with their hand. After seeing this cycle a few times I scratched my head. My kids aren’t perfect and they do their fair share of arguing but I don’t think it ever crossed their mind to physically attack a child they are playing with when things go awry. I casually mentioned to MarocBaba after seeing a kid-vs-kid and then parent punishing child cycle that I can’t see our kids ever doing this.

I’m not a psychologist but the whole behavior issue makes sense. If you as child see that when your parent is angry with your behavior or actions they exert physical punishment, why wouldn’t you do the same thing in a child-child context? Parents by physically punishing their children when they show this behavior reinforce the child’s actions. These children then grow up and do the same thing to their children, or their spouses. It’s all very confusing.
I don’t believe in physically punishing my kids. They might have gotten a single spank on their bottom when they were smaller if they really misbehaved but that was as far as it ever went – and very rarely at that. I’ve found that there are other ways to show my disapproval, and/or discipline kids for bad behavior. Even though MarocBaba was raised in Morocco we’ve never really differed when it comes to disciplining our own children. I know many other cross-cultural relationships where this is a major issue.

I really don’t want this to come off as judgmental. I understand that people do what they have learned to do and don’t neccesarily see the connections. I know that they are equally as confused about our lack of physical discipline (though our children haven’t shown any reason to do this -yet). In my polite, individualistic American sense I don’t comment on how other people choose to parent however, Moroccan society and even more so family structure is community based so they don’t hesitate to share their opinion. I can honestly say that I will not now, or ever adopt this practice in my home or with my kids. I respect my children, they respect me, and I believe they are much more at ease knowing this. I hope that teaching them there are other ways to solve their problems will help them to become happier and healthier adults. Moving into another culture, especially one where there are family ties requires the ability to be flexible and adapt however, I am also learning what I will not compromise – this is a line in the sand for me.

Where do you fall on this issue? Have you been challenged in a cross-cultural parenting situation on a resolution to this issue?

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Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars

For months we prepared to move our family and for months I planned just what life would be like. Everything would go smoothly, our bags would arrive, our apartment would be ready to go. In a day or two I’d have a phone and internet.  I would go shopping daily in the market and prepare meals that I knew we enjoyed. I would easily slide into life, it really wouldn’t be that different than what we were used to.

But, then I found out I was wrong.

So the first week wasn’t what I envisioned at all.  I was depressed.  I wanted to be alone, to have my space and digest what I had just gotten myself into. I really didn’t eat much, nothing tasted good to me. Even if I wanted to make something I was out of luck. No pots, no pans, no spoons, or forks. While I’ll admit it wasn’t terrible having someone else cook, my diet has changed so much I found a lot of things I just couldn’t eat.

In the midst of my depression, because yes that’s what it was, I knew there had to be something that would help. Emotional eating is usually not a good thing but in this instance I felt it was warranted.
Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
So when there’s a hodge podge of cooking implements and a freezer what do you do? Well you make chocolate no bake bars of course! I knew I could get a little nutrient boost from oatmeal and even though it looks like there’s a lot of chocolate here, it really wasn’t that much. I really want to share the recipe with you but here’s the thing – I didn’t measure it but I estimated. I’ve made them twice now never measuring. They came out a little different but delicious no matter what.

I melted about 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a pan on medium heat, stirring until I’d made a thick syrup (caramel would be delicious too!). In another pan I melted 1/2 cup of butter, with about 4 ounces of milk chocolate, and 3/4 cup of peanut butter. Once it was completely melted a teaspoon of vanilla, and the syrup.

How much oats (gluten-free variety!) do you use? Enough to hold together all of the wet ingredients. Add some nuts or coconut if you like. Then pour into a greased 8×8 pan and spread flat. You might want to eat a spoonful just to check. Finally slide it into your freezer to firm up. Once the bars are frozen they can be cut and stored individually in the freezer or refrigerator.

So now when I’m feeling a little lonely and just a little homesick, I know what’s waiting for me in the freezer to make it just a little bit easier.

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I’m going to keep this short and sweet because it’s taken me almost 4 hours to upload this video over our shaky internet connection in Morocco!

I’ve really enjoyed using Shaklee these past 6 months and hope you’ve enjoyed my journey too!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

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Today’s guest post comes from Julie of Open Wide the World.  I met Julie through an online group I’m a part of for multicultural bloggers.  Her blog is currently on hiatus but there’s so many great resources and stories to discover! You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.  I hope you’ll enjoy this story and the experience of Julie’s family. 

“Food is the great unifier.” Isn’t that an expression somewhere? Never have I experienced the unitive power of food more evidently than in the South of France. Back in the early 90s, tensions between the French and North Africans, at least in Midi (a.k.a. Mediterranean France), were running somewhere just below Meursualt levels (remember Meursault? the main character of Albert Camus’ l’Étranger), and my city, having a high North African population, was no exception. In almost every neighborhood, tension between the groups was palpable.

typical architecture of the Midi-Pyrénées , France (wikimedia commons)

But there was one quartier (neighborhood) that was different. This particular part of the city was home to students, artists, travelers, and various world citizens who were going it alone for a phase. Without the security and comfort of being surrounded by their own peer and culture groups, les voisins (the neighbors) in this quartier seemed to live outside of the judgements and tensions, and really just get along. Beyond merely getting along, in fact, ces voisins-là (these particular neighbors) seemed to enjoy one another’s differences, and in particular, one another’s cuisine of heritage. In the midst of the surrounding tensions, this neighborhood was truly something special, and shared food somehow seemed to hold it all together.

And so when Amanda sent me her recipe for Moroccan tagine of beef and apricots, I was instantly transported back to a magical, enchanting time and place that has become almost mythical in my memory over the 20 years since. I could almost feel and smell that neighborhood again, remembering les voisins du maroc (the Moroccans) and their fragrant and flavorful dishes. What a thrill it would be to share this memory, and recipe, with my own family! Such a thrill, in fact, that we decided to make a party out of the event, by preparing the tagine and picking up a few “extras” from a local Moroccan restaurant.

beef & prune tagine, maakouda, and basbousa

From Amanda’s initial inspiration grew a feast, including her phenomenal tagine, a pile of maakouda (Moroccan potato patties from the restaurant), and giant piece of basbousa (a semolina and coconut cake in orange blossom syrup, which is technically more Middle Eastern than Moroccan… but it sounded so delicious that we fudged a little on the geography when we saw it on the menu).

The whole family thoroughly enjoyed the tagine, which, despite a surprisingly short list of ingredients, was remarkably flavorful. My husband Kam and 5-year old Mag both asked when I would make this again, although Mag further requested hers be served without fruit next time. (I used prunes, but Amanda’s original recipe notes that apricots are also common. I think I’ll try apricots next time.)

And the maakouda? Not sure if I’ll ever eat mashed potatoes again, after trying maakouda! Just a few quick steps more than making simple mashed potatoes, and infinitely yummier. Why didn’t we order a double order? Well, next time…

And that delicious sounding orange blossom coconut cake? Not quite as delicious as it sounded, unfortunately. Normally, cake is a winner; fruity syrups are winners… but this combination somehow smelled and tasted like sunscreen. Even the two sweet-tooths in the house (Mag and me) couldn’t eat more than a few nibbles. But we enjoyed the chance to try it, nonetheless.

At the end of this wonderful evening, I have to thank Amanda for inspiring this fabulous dinner, and even better, the return to a magical memory of  a time and place that I’m all but sure is now long gone. Merci infiniment, Amanda!

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I first “met” Natalia of Culture Baby when she asked me for reflections on celebrating Ramadan with kids, particularly in a non-Muslim country.  (You can find the post here) When I began planning to have guests posts while we get settled in Morocco, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing her reflections on living in Morocco – and here they are!  You can visit Natalia’s online shop full of gorgeous world goods, read her blog, and connect on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter

Just as MarocMama is arriving in Morocco, we are sadly leaving it. We have spent almost 10 months in the capital of Rabat and have had the chance to travel over much of this beautiful country. For all that I could write about ancient fortresses, the sights and smells of old medinas and souks or the quiet dignity of arabesque art and architecture, what I will remember most about this country in the years to come will be the way is opened its arms to us and most especially, our son.

The Moroccans adore babies. One of my very first culture shock moments occurred before we had even left the airport on arrival. A man walked right up to my then 18 month old, cupped his little face in his hands and planted a big kiss on his cheek mumbling “zween”…beautiful.


Our son has since been spoiled with the attention. The central part that children play in the Moroccan household and society mean that these is seldom a place where they are unwelcome. Our son has always had the run of any restaurant or hotel, shown the kitchens or hidden rooms by staff. The presence of a child always seems to be one that smooths any introduction, even where language is a barrier.

When we return to the US, I will be grateful for many things that we’ve done without here….organic produce, reliable schedules, functioning play ground equipment. But I will miss the easy understanding, commiseration and openness you receive here from shopkeepers, or waiters. It is much better than the nervousness or outright panic you can often encounter from their American counterparts.

I remember when we announced to friends and family that we were taking our then 18 month old to North Africa. There was wide eyed disbelief and questions about how we would keep our baby fed, safe, etc. But for all that there have been challenges this year, I cannot think of a warmer more welcoming place for our child to have spent a year.

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{Guest Post} Visit Morocco Through Kids Yoga

Today I’m welcoming Giselle Shardlow the author of Kids Yoga Stories. Her yoga-inspired children’s books get children moving, learning, and having fun. Giselle draws from her experiences as a teacher, traveler, yogi, and mom to write her stories found at or on Amazon worldwide.  My kids and I love yoga – they’ve been practicing since their pre-K days in a Montessori school and I love how it is one of the only things that make my back feel good! Enjoy this guest post inspired by Morocco!morocco camel

“Morocco is THE destination for all lovers of flora and fauna.” (

Whether you are sipping Moroccan tea, hiking through farming villages, watching snake charmers in the main square, or surfing the Atlantic Coast, Morocco is sure to exceed your expectations. When I first heard about MarocMama, I was super excited to meet an expat mama living in this intriguing place in North Africa. I haven’t been to Morocco (yet), but I have friends and family who’ve been there. And they raved about it.
Kids yoga is a great way to visit a place on the other side of the world without ever leaving home. Yoga for children is all about exploring new places through movement, embracing our creativity, and having fun with loved ones. Join me as we learn more about the extraordinary country of Morocco through children’s yoga. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t tried yoga before, just jump in and give it a try! Below, you will find yoga sequences with keywords, corresponding yoga poses, and descriptions.

Kids yoga poses inspired by the activities in Morocco:

Morocco is an adventurer’s paradise with loads of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, skiing, kayaking, kitesurfing, windsurfing, canoeing, golfing, and camel trekking. Who knew?! If you have only a few minutes for your pretend journey to Morocco, here is a “5 for 5: Five kids yoga poses in 5 minutes” inspired by five activities that you can do in this beautiful country:

Trekking through the old cities, gorges, or volcanic pinnacles – Walking on the Spot
(Pretend to go for a hike, and walk on the spot.)

Surfing the Atlantic Ocean waves – Warrior 2 Pose
(From standing position, step one foot back, placing the foot so that it is facing slightly outwards. Take your arms up in parallel to the ground, bend your front knee, and look forward.)

Horseback Riding along the sandy beach – Chair Pose
(Pretend to ride on the back of a horse and giddyup.)

White-Water Rafting down rivers winding through the mountains – Staff Pose
(Sit down on your buttocks with a tall spine with your legs straight out in front of you, then pretend to row with your arms.)

Mountain Biking on dirt tracks in the foothills – Knees to Chest
(Come to lying on your back and make circles with your bent legs as if you are pedaling a bike.)

morocco shop

Kids yoga poses inspired by the animals of Morocco:
Morocco boasts a diverse landscape, with stunning coastlines, rugged mountains, and breathtaking deserts. Twelve animals that live in these various locations inspired these yoga poses:

Bald Ibis – Dancer’s Pose
(Stand on one leg, take the other leg in your hand behind you, and balance like an Ibis.)

Eleonora’s Falcon – Warrior 3 Pose
(Stand on one leg, with the other leg extended straight behind you. Bend your torso forward, then flap your wings like a falcon flying through the sky.)

Greater Flamingoes – Tree Pose
(Stand on one leg, bend your knee, place the sole of your foot on your inner thigh, and balance like a flamingo.)

Golden Eagle – Eagle Pose
(Stand on one leg, wrap the other leg around the standing leg, bend your knees slightly, bring your arms out in front of you, and wrap them together. Then pretend to perch in a tree like an eagle.)

Barbary Ape – Squat Pose
(Come down to a squat, rest on your buttocks, and pretend to groom yourself like an ape.)

Donkey – Handstand Prep
(Place the palms of your hands flat on the ground in front of you, step back, bring your buttocks high, and kick like a donkey.)

Herbivorous Lizard – Plank Pose
(Come down to a plank on your hands and toes like a lizard.)

Horned Viper – Cobra Pose
(Lie on your tummy and lift your head and shoulders off ground. Place your palms flat next to your shoulders, then hiss like a snake.)

Golden Jackal – Cat Pose
(On your hands and knees, look around like a jackal.)

Camel – Camel Pose
(Come back to kneeling, lift your chest, look up, and gently lean back reaching your hands to your heels)

Dorcas Gazelle – Seated Twist
(Sit down on your heels, twist to one side, and look over your shoulder like a gazelle.)

Desert Hedgehog – Child’s Pose
(From sitting from your heels, bend your upper body, place your forehead in front of your knees, and rest your arms alongside your body.)

Click here for pictures of some of the kids yoga poses. For printables of the yoga sequences, click here.

Ways to have a successful Morocco Yoga experience:

There is no “right” way to practice yoga with your family, but there are a few things to consider. Wear comfortable clothing and practice barefoot. Practice the poses on both sides/legs. Focus on having fun and don’t worry about doing perfectly aligned poses. Kids yoga is more creative and spontaneous than an adult yoga class. Your children will feed off your energy, so enjoy yourself. Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it. Think of yoga as a way of life, not just the physical postures. Bring their attention to their inhalation and exhalation in a light-hearted way. Always finish your yoga experience in a resting pose, lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out, taking a few deep breaths. Research Morocco further and share your findings with your family. Take the opportunity to be in the present moment and connect with the little people in your life.

Thank you for reading this article and learning about Morocco through yoga. Thank you to Amanda for the opportunity to learn more about her adopted home – it’s now high on my list of places to visit with my family!

Have you been to Morocco? What were your favorite places to visit? We would love to hear about your experience!

Watch for the next Kids Yoga Stories book, a bedtime kids yoga book featuring animals from around the world including two from Africa. Get details and free kids yoga resources in your inbox by signing up for Giselle’s weekly Kids Yoga Stories Newsletter on her website, or check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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