For My Kids · Ramadan

For my Kids: The Story of Noah

After Adam passed away, and many years passed, Iblees (Satan) and his clan got their ways again. People started forgetting about Allah (God) and the ways of AlShaitan (Satan) took over.

So Allah (God) sent a Rasool (prophet) to teach them the good ways again: Noah (peace be upon him)

Noah went to his people and tried to help them. He tried to make them see and understand and believe in Allah (God) and get back to the righteous path. He told them that he is worried for them, that if they stay like this they will face bad things, for whoever follows Iblees (Satan) always loses in the end.

No one believed him. The most stubborn were the kings, princes, and rich who are so set in their ways. The only people who believed him were the very poor.

They told Noah: we see you as human just like any of us, and we only see the poor and insignificant follow you. So why should we? They asked him what he really wanted. Does he want money? They tried to buy him off.

Noah spent 950 years (yes 950) trying to teach his people, day and night, he never gave up.

They had a king who forbade his people to even listen to Noah. Whenever Noah talked, people would cover their ears or cover their faces and turn away.

Then his people jeered at him: For 950 years your telling us that if we live this way, that we will face consequences, that something “bad” will happen to us. Where are those consequences you claimed?

At this point, the doors of forgiveness in Heaven closed. And Allah (God) told Noah he can stop trying to convince people, because no one else will believe. Some say that between 30 and 80 people only followed him. And no one else will do anymore.

Then .. Allah (God) asked Noah to start doing a different thing. He asked him to build a ship .. a HUGE ship. So Noah dropped everything and straight away did what Allah (God) asked him to do.
People couldn’t believe it. “What are you thinking?!” they said. “Building a ship in the middle of the desert!” They called him crazy. Others said “What happened? You used to call us to the right ways and now you gave up everything .. and started building a ship on a land where no water can be seen!” They thought he lost it.

(So you see? It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about you. If you truly believe that you are doing the right thing, stick to it. Never change who you really are or what you believe the right thing to do is. It doesn’t matter if people think it is uncool or crazy. Stay true to yourself and never change.)

Then Allah (God) told Noah that there will be a sign. And when you see this sign, when you see water pouring out of the oven in your house instead of fire, tell the people who believe to be ready and get on the ship.

And take with you a male and female from all species of animals on earth with you on the ship. As God will kill and clean the earth from all evil doers and bad things.

The sign came, and Noah, his followers, and all the animals boarded the ship.

Everyone was laughing at the image. Why are you boarding a ship in the middle of a desert? And with animals too? You must’ve lost your mind.

Then Allah (God) describes that the skies opened and water came pouring down. The land ruptured and water came flooding up. Then.. in front of everyone, Noah’s arc began to float.

People started running around but no shelter can hide them. No amount of money can help them now. Now they will see Allah’s (God’s) strength and glory. Now they will see the consequences they laughed at.

While on the ship, Noah was looking around for his son. One of his sons was a non believer and did not board the arc with them. Noah saw his son running, his heart hurt for him and he pleaded with him one more time: Son, please come ride the ship with us.

His son replied: I will climb on a high mountain and be safe there. His father warned: no mountain can help you now .. there is no hiding today.

(See here Noah’s own son was not a believer. This shows you a very important point. If you believe in something, you can’t force other people to believe in the same thing. You can try to convince them, but you can never force anyone to believe in something they don’t. Noah’s own son didn’t believe in his message. His father didn’t beat him or forced him to go with him on the boat, he gave his son the choice. It’s the same with everyone in this world. Everyone has a choice, and no one has the right to force another person to do something they don’t want it or believe in.)

The entire world turned into a huge sea. No one knows how long Noah’s arc stayed roaming at sea. Till one day Noah saw a bird with a branch in his feet, and he knew that its a sign that the water is receding and the trees are showing again.

Then he saw the same bird with mud on his feet, and he knew that land is showing again from under all the water.

Noah’s arc finally docked on land. One by one the animals came down along with Noah and his followers, and they all built a new life on earth.

Lessons we take from this is:

  1.  You can never force anyone to do, think, or believe in anything they don’t want to. Noah’s son didn’t believe in his own father’s message and his dad didn’t beat him or force him to do so. 
  2.  You should do and stick to whatever you believe in and whatever your heart tells you is right .. no matter what others think or so. Even if someone thinks it’s uncool to do something that you really want to do, or thinks it’s cool to do something that you’re not comfortable in doing, always be true to yourself and do what you think is right.

And above all else, always remember that Allah (God) cherishes and loves you!

 

For My Kids · Ramadan

For my Kids: The Story of Adam & Eve

We will start today with the story of Adam (peace be upon him), the father of the human race.

After creating the earth, skies, and world, Allah (God) decided to create man. He asked the angels to bring Him different types of sand from all over the earth, some white, some black, some yellow, and some red .. and this is how mankind started.

(Notice how the sand is all different colors? That’s how people are too and we need to always remember to respect all different colors as Allah (God) created us all equally and all colors/races come from the same father.)

Allah (God) then combined the sand with water and molded Adam from mud. When the mold was ready, Allah (God) started to blow soul into him starting from the top of his head.

As soon as Adam’s soul reached his eyes, he opened them and looked around at all the wonderful things in Heaven.

When Adam’s soul reached his nose, he sneezed. The angels asked him to say: ilhimdila. When he did they replied: yerhemek allah (translated as God bless you).

(We need to always remember to say ilhimdila after sneezing and yerhemek allah (God bless you) to others who sneeze.)

Then when his soul reached his tummy, he felt very hungry and tried to take a step towards the many delicious fruits he can see. But his soul still didn’t reach his legs and he stumbled forward.

(Notice how impatient Adam was? See it’s human nature to always be in a hurry. So it is ok if you can’t wait to get or do something but be careful not to be too impatient or you will stumble and fall just like Adam did.)

As soon as Adam’s soul entered his entire body, he walked around Heaven admiring everything around.

(Because Heaven is such an amazing place no one can even imagine how it looks like)

Then Allah (God) asked the angels to bow down to Adam out of respect to His creation. They all bowed down except for one: Iblees (Satan).

Allah (God) then asked him: Why didn’t you bow down when I asked you to?

Iblees (Satan) replied defiantly: I wouldn’t bow down to a man made from mud. For I am better than him, I am created from fire and he is created from mud.

(Just wanted to point out that all angels are created from light, except Iblees (Satan) was created from fire)

Allah (God) then kicked him out of heaven because he didn’t deserve to be there.

(This is the first time ever that Allah (God) was disobeyed by one of His creations. And what do you think the reason was? Was it because Iblees (Satan) didn’t believe in Allah (God)? No. He was a very good servant before. 

It was because of arrogance.

The first sin ever was because of arrogance and pride. Now by pride I don’t mean when you feel proud that you got an A on your test after studying hard. That is a good thing to be proud of your hard work.

By pride I mean when somebody thinks he is better than someone else for whatever reason. It may be race, money, sex or anything. Never be arrogant and never ever think you are above or better than anyone else.

Remember this was the reason for the first sin ever committed, and for Iblees (Satan) to be kicked out of heaven.)

Now after Iblees (Satan) was kicked out, he didn’t ask for forgiveness for what he did. For if he asked genuinely to be forgiven, Allah (God) would’ve absolutely done so.

But Iblees (Satan) did ask Allah (God) one thing: to stay alive till the end of time. He vowed to prove that man wasn’t all that perfect, and that he is indeed better than all of them. He defiantly told Allah (God) that he will show Him who mankind really are, and that he won’t relent till Hell is filled with all of his followers.

And do you know what Allah (God) said? Allah (God) promises that no matter what happens, that even if Iblees (Satan) led people astray, if man repents and asks for forgiveness, He will forgive them. And that is a promise.

(How cool is that? To have a promise from Allah (God) himself that no matter what, no matter how badly you messed up, if you honestly ask for forgiveness and wont do it again, Allah (God) will forgive you).

So going back to Adam .. he woke up the next day and saw a woman next to him. He asked her why was she created? She said لتسكن لي . The literal translation is “so you can live to me” but the general meaning is so you can have a companion/solace in life.

(Let’s stop for a sec and think about how Hawa (Eve) was created. She was created from Adam’s limbs. This is to show you that woman will always stand by and support man. It is also to say that woman are equal. She wasn’t created from his head (above) or his thighs/legs (under), she was created from his side. Men and women, side by side.)

So Adam and Hawa (Eve) lived happily in Heaven.

Allah (God) then told them: You can eat and roam around anywhere in Heaven, except that tree over there, do not go near it.

Iblees (Satan) saw his opportunity here and started scheming right away. He told Adam: Do you know why Allah (God) told you not to eat from that tree? It’s because whoever eats from that tree turns into an angel. Don’t you want to be an immortal angel living in Heaven forever?

Years pass and Adam didn’t go next to the tree even with Iblees (Satan) trying. Then Iblees (Satan) started a new way. He swore in Allah’s (God’s) name that what he was saying is true and that he only wants the best for Adam and his wife.

Adam now believed him and Iblees (Satan) happily showed them the way to the forbidden tree. Hawa (Eve) first had a bite then Adam ate one. As soon as they ate the fruit, their private parts developed and could be seen. Adam and Hawa (Eve) ran to find some leaves to cover themselves.

Allah (God) then asked them: Didn’t I warn you about this tree and about your enemy Iblees (Satan)?

Then Allah (God) ordered them to get out of Heaven and go down to earth. All 3 of them: Adam, Hawa (Eve) and Iblees (Satan).

Adam and Hawa (Eve) cried and asked Allah (God) for forgiveness. Of course, Allah being so full of mercy, forgave them.

And this is where it all started, the never ending battle: between good and evil, right and wrong, heaven and hell, Man vs. Satan.

Lessons we can take from this is:

  1. Everyone makes mistakes. Even prophets did so obviously so will you.
  2.  And it is OK! As long as you learn from your mistakes and ask for forgiveness, you will be forgiven.
  3. Iblees (Satan) made a promise infront of Allah (God) and all the angels that he is out to get mankind and his sole purpose is to drag them with him to hell.

So be careful of his whispers, but always remember that Allah (God) will forgive you if you do stumble. You just need to genuinely ask for forgiveness.

And above all else, always remember, Allah (God) cherishes and loves you!

 

For My Kids · Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem

So I started this blog over 3 years ago, mostly to have an outlet for anything that comes to mind. It mostly follows updates from the 100 book reading challenge I took on (got to the 30 book mark so YAY!) and some snippets of parenting ideas and frustrations here and there.

BUT I did leave out a very big part of our lives. I started this blog anonymously for many reasons. One of the reasons is because I didn’t want the conversation on this blog to turn racial, political, or religious.

Because I started this blog to document things that I did not want to write down in a journal and lose, and that tends to happen a lot with 4 kids, I need now to document and share our journey in this Holy month of Ramadan.

First, let me introduce myself properly. I am a 36 year old Muslim mom of 4 from Bahrain.

And now that my older two are 10 and 8 years old, I really want them to value and understand our religion. And, sadly to say, as they understand English and the local dialect of Arabic much more than the traditional Arabic used in stories and novels, I have prepared for them these easy lessons that hopefully they will learn from.

They will be like bedtime stories for my older two almost every night in this Holy month of Ramadan. I will be using both our local Arabic dialect and English while story telling but will type them up here in English as I need them as a reference for when my younger 2 grow up, and maybe someone will read them and benefit/like them too.

So here goes, I will start a “For my kids” series about قصص الأنبياء , a story a night of God’s prophets and messengers that I know of.

Now of course, I am not a scholar, things might not be perfect and things might be missing. They might not be the same as the stories that you know of. I do not mean to offend or preach to anyone. All I want to do is teach my kids different lessons and values through these stories.

So please, I would like to ask anyone who would like to comment on any of the posts I write to keep it respectful.

Thank you and happy Ramadan.

Love,

J

Note: I am using the YouTube video’s of Sh. Nabeel AlAwadhi to help me with writing the stories. If anyone is interested they can be found on sobhanAllahChannel (videos are in Arabic)

Book Reviews · Challenge · Reading

Mini Reviews: Books 80 – 71

Starting a challenge of 100 books, following a set list, no matter how long or boring the book is, seems daunting. I can’t believe I finished 30 of the books in total! Below is an overview and mini reviews of books 80-71 on the list.

(You can find the mini reviews of books 90-81 here and 100-91 here.)

#80: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

“To know you will be lonely is not the same as being alone.”

Mini Review:

Tough novel to get through. Very confusing and I did not feel any connections to the characters whatsoever.

For a full review click here.

#79: Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“Unhappily children do hurt flies.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this book that set out to humanize Bronte’s mad ghost, Bertha .. and truly achieved it.

For the full review click here.

#78: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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Grade: D
Favorite Quote:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a great deal on where you want to get to, said that cat.”

Mini Review:

I had high expectations of this classic but was very disappointed. To me, it was too crazy, too whimsical, to scattered, didn’t make much sense, and plain annoying.

For a full review click here.

#77: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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Grade: C
Favorite Quote:

“You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

Mini Review:

I could not stand this book for the first 100 pages and could not fathom how I will possibly finish it. Later on in the book I really like Yossarian and his logic, and really hoped he found his happy ending.

For a full review click here.

#76: The Trial by Franz Kafka

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

n/a

Mini Review:

**Closing the book** What in the world happened? Throwing it clear across that room wishing I can get back the time wasted on this book.

For a full review click here.

#75: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

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Grade: F
Favorite Quote:

n/a

Mini Review:

A 200 page story with almost nothing happening .. and the “almost” was an attempted rape of a disabled girl. Enough said.

For a full review click here.

#74: Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“Human beings have done impossible things to other human beings.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this read. It was entertaining and taught me a number of things about India’s history and shed some light on Ghandi’s teaching. A recommended read from me.

For a full review click here.

#73: All Quiet on the Western Front

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“The war swept us away. For the others, the older men, it is but an interruption. They are able to think beyond it. We, however, have been gripped by it and do not know what the end may be.”

Mini Review:

It clearly states on the cover of the book that this is “the greatest war novel of all time.” I agree 100%.

For a full review click here.

#72: Dinner at the Homesick Restaraunt

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Grade: B
Favorite Quote:

“When you have children, you’re obligated to live.”

Mini Review:

I really enjoyed this book. Her writing is comfortable to read and flows beautifully. This is the most “real” book I read so far in this list. Another recommendation from me.

For a full review click here.

#71: Dream of the Red Chamber by Tsao Hsueh-Chin

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Grade: D
Favorite Quote:

“When the unreal is taken for the real, then the real becomes unreal.”

Mini Review:

This is like an 18th century reality show.. keeping up with the Chia’s. A book full of gossip and scandal, and supposedly revolves around true love.

For the full review click here.

 

And there you have it. The mini reviews of the previous 10 books I read from the greatest book list. There were some memorable books but nothing that wowed me. The bad though was really bad.

Here’s to hoping for a much nicer and more exciting next 10 reads.

Till next time. Happy reading!

Book Reviews · Reading

Dream of the Red Chamber Book Review

Book: Dream of the Red Chamber by Tsao Hsueh Chin

Grade: D

#71 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

What is the book about?

The book is mainly about the Chia mansions and the people who live in them. They are divided into 2 households: the Ningkuofu and the Yungkuofu. The story revolves around almost all the people living there and mostly Pao-yu and all their love stories.

Verdict:

To me this is very like a reality show .. keeping up with the Chia’s. It’s mostly just scandal and gossip of their everyday lives. This is the only reason I gave it a D and not an F. It was not a boring read.

But I had trouble most of the time keeping up with who’s who. Some of the characters names are: Chia Chiang, Chia Gen, Chia Jui, Chia Chung. Most of the time I found myself guessing who they meant. For a person who is not familiar with the Chinese culture it might be confusing.

Also this book is described as a Chinese Romeo and Juliet, between Pao-yu and his cousin Black Jade. Black Jade did really die from grief when she knew Pao-yu will marry another. But how about Pao-yu? He got sick at first wanting to see his love, but he snapped out of it quick when his new wife told him that she passed away. He became better very quick and lived his life normally after that.

Also there are alot of things that don’t make sense. Maybe it’s because this is an abridged version, like the brick that wanted a taste of the “red chamber” (the mortal world) and came to the world as a jade around Pao-yu’s neck. What happened to it? Because it was introduced for quite a bit in the beginning, thought there will be something about it in the end (maybe with some lesson of his experience in the red chamber) or something. Also whats the deal with the Pao-yu look alike?

Anyways it wasn’t a tough read but I won’t really recommend this to anyone.. maybe the full longer version is better?

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Next read:

I usually like to read the books following the list in descending order. But due to the Corona virus and everything shutting down and not delivering, i will stick to the ones i have and might jump around the list and not go by order.

So next read is #66 on the list: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Book Reviews · Reading

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Book Review

Book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

#72 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the book about?

The story is about Pearl’s life: her marriage, her 3 kids, their ups and downs, until her death.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed this book. I think out of all the books i read so far on this list, this is the most realistic life story so far. Any of these kids can be any one of us today. It was just so relatable, so very real.

Tyler’s writing is so comfortable and flows in such a beautiful way that it was really comforting picking up the book late at night after being locked up with my kids at home and the craziness of this lockdown.

True there wasn’t alot of things or action going on in this story, except life itself. A beautiful look into a family trying to make sense of life.

I honestly think more than the story itself, I loved Tyler’s writing and the comfort of it. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

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Next book on the list:

The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin.

Book Reviews · Reading

All Quiet on the Western Front Book Review

Book: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

#73 on the Telegraph’s 100 books everyone should read.

Grade: B

What is the story about?

The story takes place in WWI, the deadliest and bloodiest of all wars. Paul Baumer and his friends were only 19 years old when enlisted, and they saw, lived, and endured the unthinkable.

Verdict:

Only a person who lived through combat can write such a realistic story as this. Even though it was such a heavy topic, I really enjoyed the thoughtfull conversations and discussions of the idea of war.

Paul explains that after the war, they will be a lost generation. The generation before them saw the war as a mere distraction. Even though they lived through the atrocities of war, they had a life they were attached to before. They had a job, a wife, a house, and maybe kids that they hope to get back to after the war.

The generation after them will only live with the aftermath of war. But Paul’s generation are lost. As they have nothing they were really attached to before the war. All they know is war. After it, what will they do? Where will they go?

There were alot of meaningful discussions and ideas about war and the rationale behind it. Though I didn’t enjoy the visual description of the many deaths and injuries, I did enjoy this book alot.

And i do agree with the statement written on the cover of the book. This is “the greatest war novel of all time.”

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Next book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Book Reviews · Reading

Waiting for the Mahatma Book Review

Book: Waiting for the Mahatma by RK Narayan


#74 on the Telegraph’s 100 greatest novels of all time.

Grade: B

What is the story about?


Sriram is an orphan raised by his grandma in South India. He became infatuated with a girl, Bharati, who happens to be one of Gandhi’s pupils. He leaves the comforts of his grandma’s home to join the Mahatma’s calling. Their love story intertwines with the historical facts of the Indian Continent at that time till the country got its independence from the British and the end of Gandhi.

Verdict:


Let me say, I really enjoyed this book. The story flowed beautifully and was very easy to read. Not just that, but it was very interesting too.

Sriram is very likable. He is an impressionable young man who fell for a beautiful woman and followed her into Gandhi’s service. At one point in the story, he wishes that she wasn’t a political activist and just a normal girl so he can easily marry her without obstacles.

This shows you that people can join a political movement or cult (not that Gandhi is a cult, far from it, I’m just saying in general), for different reasons, like a girl, and not just pure belief in the political agenda of that group.

Also when Sriram joined Gandhi, he was so adamant and committed to the non-violent nature of the movement but as soon as both Gandhi and Bharati were in jail, and he didn’t have a clear guide, he got influenced by others and became violent to reach the goal of “Quit India.”

But the best and most meaningful part to me in the story is the end.

I love how when things in the country were not going very well after the British left, Sriram said: “We ought to rejoice that it’s our own people that are blundering, isn’t that so?”

Then after the country’s independence, you can feel the start of the religious segregation. Like when Sriram was confronted by two thugs on the train going to Delhi. They were looking for Muslims to throw out of the train and he was spared because he was a Hindu.

But as the book goes on to describe, you can’t say that it’s this group who are aggressors or the other.

As Bharati explains: “what one community did in one part of the country brought suffering on the same community in another part of the country.”

I also loved how Gandhi changed the names of the refugee kids they took in to unbiased names such as fruit and flower names. “Even a number would be better than a name, if a name meant branding a man as of this religion or that.”

I really enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and was easy to read. It taught me a number of things about India’s history and shed some light on Gandhi’s teaching. But mostly, it made me think.

” Human beings have done impossible things to other human beings.”

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Next book on the list:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
Book Reviews · Reading

Cider with Rosie Book Review

Book: Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee


#75 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: F

What is the story about?

Cider with Rosie is an autobiography. It is the first part of a trilogy covering Laurie’s life since birth, till he was about a teen.

Verdict:

Before reading this book, it was hard for me to imagine a 200 page story where almost nothing happens at all. There’s a first for everything I guess.

I didn’t realize the book was part of a trilogy until later, which kind of makes sense in a way. The entire book was an introduction to the trilogy.

So if you really like reading a 200 page introduction where things rarely happen, or like to listen to the older generation rambling nostalgically about the good old days, or would like to learn about Laurie Lee’s family, including 5 uncles, the color of his rooms wall or the length of the grass in their fields, then this is the book for you.

The only thing that happened in this book was the attempted rape of a disabled girl by Laurie and his gang. As there was no remorse after that whatsoever, it would’ve been better for him to just stick to the grass length of the hills and the color of mold on his school’s walls.

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Next read:

Waiting for the Mahatma by R.K. Narayan
Adulting

Disney vs Reality

I blame Disney, then Hollywood, but first let’s start with Disney …

Growing up, Disney had us believing that you most definitely met your Prince Charming “once upon a dream.”

That one day there they will be.

“There you see her, sitting there across the way…”

And sparks will fly, googly eyes everywhere and people will say:

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before.”

Then he will whisk you off your feet and he can “show you the world!” You will be “soaring, tumbling” and have an “indescribable feeling!”

And Bam!

“So this is love
The miracle that i’ve been dreaming of
This is what makes life divine”

Blame us much for having unrealistic hopes for our Prince Charming? How can you not “love me at once?!” Isn’t that supposed to be a “tale as old as time?”

Ok ok.. we might be giving Disney a bad rep here.

At the end of the day they were the ones who encouraged us to “have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through, no matter how your heart is aching, if you keep on believing.”

Of course, it didn’t help that this “rainbow” came along with a “bibbidi bobbidi boo.”

After 30 some years though, I have to admit that “at last I see the light, it’s like the fog has lifted. And at last I see the light, it’s like the sky is new.”

A new Disney endorsed revelation… Just

Let

It

GOOooooOOoOooo!!