My last post was in December last year! That is a long gap of not blogging, possibly my longest yet. Lots of interesting things have happened in the mean time. Like Noo turning 8, a wedding in the family and hence a trip to India and other things that I cannot remember at the moment, peppered with lots and lots of grade three drama.

We are almost at the end of the school year and looking forward to Ramadan. The third grader (with all the aforementioned drama) is gearing up to write exams this week. She informed me that her teacher said these exams are not important and hence she doesn’t need to study* for them at all. Thanks, Mr B!

The almost first-grader thinks school is boring, but is miffed that he is no longer the fastest boy (at running) in his class. Apparently, a kid we’ll call Y got really fast over spring break.

Both kids spent time with younger cousins in India during our trip in April and are now convinced they’d make wonderful older siblings. They’ve been hounding me to have ‘one more baby’ and I’m hoping that mamoo’s baby (who will be here in September yay!!) will deflect their baby cravings.

So that’s all the news (that I can think of at the moment, anyway) from this corner.

*We do twenty minutes of reading followed by a thirty-minute break. Don’t feel bad about rolling your eyes,

The End of this Year

As brand new five year olds go, I think Hasan tends to fall in the rambunctious category. In the first two weeks of his being five, we discovered that behind his bottom front teeth, two new teeth were growing and the old ones were still standing stoically in their places. Until yesterday, when he discovered that one tooth was wobbly and is now ecstatic because, just like Hana, which is his raison d’etre, he is losing his baby teeth and growing big people teeth.

The other thing we discovered in those same first two weeks is that you (meaning Hasan) can actually injure your joints from being overactive. He hurt his hip joint and had to miss two weeks of school. Two weeks of non-activity which was frankly pretty hard on the both of us. Hard on the mom who was used to 8 kid-free hours a day but I guess, especially hard on the five year old who prefers jumping or bouncing or skipping or running or skidding but never just walking.

The second of those two weeks was also when Hana also had her first ever midterm assessments so really at the end of that week I was incredibly grateful that both of these things were behind us and physically and mentally, I was just a puddle of exhaustion.

The kids are back at school this week after our National Day break and on Sunday, their first day back, I did’t know what to do with my time and I ended up cooking a grand lunch as well as baking oatmeal cookies. In a few weeks, we have the three-week winter break coming up and Hana is demanding that we either let her go to a gymnastics camp or take her on a holiday where we don’t have to make beds or cook our own food. Of course, I’m rooting for option B.

Also, so weird but I’m feeling a bit sad that my youngest, the baby of my family, is 5 (FIVE!) and has a wobbly tooth. Please no suggestions of a third baby.

Grand grand gestures

You know those beautiful videos where a whole lot of effort has gone into making one person feel really really special? I’m a sucker for those videos, those stories – a total sap, that’s me!

What I’m discovering now is that so is Noo! She is, by nature, thoughtful and sweet. She likes going the extra mile to make someone feel special. Everyone in my family has been in her loving spotlight at least a dozen times each. I wonder if she’s letting us know what she wants by doing those things for others?

I do what I can when I can – lunchbox notes, special treats or ‘fancy breakfasts’ once in a while, and the weekly spa treatment where I give her a hot oil massage, head and body and let her soak her feet or occasionally her ‘fancy bubble bath’.

I’d love to do something really really special for her because I see how much she loves these grands gestures. She will watch dedication videos or videos that moms make for their babies and her eyes get all dreamy and her expression, I can’t describe it. I’ve got my thinking cap on but, internets, if you have any ideas, spill!

how not to spend an unexpected child-free afternoon

This afternoon I’d scheduled a play date for Hana and her bestie and planned to take Hasan to the aquarium with some other friends.  When we got to her friend’s house though, her younger sister was there too. This little miss has recently started at the kids’ school and has been hanging out with Hasan a whole lot. Pretty much as soon as we got there, Hasan decided he didn’t want to go to the aquarium but would rather stay on. I spent the next 15 minutes convincing him that I wasn’t going to be there, and I’d only be back at 6 and would he be okay for that long but no luck.

I kissed the kids good bye and walked to the car, where I ended up waiting 20 minutes expecting a call that Hasan had changed his mind. Finally, I decided I was being silly and went to a mall nearby to wait it out. Called my other friends and told them I wouldn’t be making it and spent the next couple hours on standby.

It took me TWO hours to realize that Hasan was going to be fine without me. I finally went home then, prayed and spent 30 minutes in my super silent house (the same silence that feels like peace when the kids are school :/) before I went back to get the kids. Hana’s done this before so I expected no hiccups but Hasan was a-okay too. They’d had a ball but the younger ones were crumbling with exhaustion. My babies are growing up.

So that’s how I spent my first unexpectedly child-free afternoon. For the next one, enjoying it is definitely on the agenda.

thoughts on gratitude

I went to a momma-playdate this morning. The kids watched a movie and the mommas, we made art. It was brilliant fun, in a very soothing sort of way. The topic we were focusing on was gratitude.

Before we actually got around to painting, a couple of friends were telling me about how they worry that their children, with all their instruments of distraction and ideas of instant gratification, might not understand true gratitude and contentment. They talked about how maybe depriving kids of material wants would better help in teaching them to count their blessings. This stuck in my head and it was something I wanted more time and space to think about, but I’ve had a pretty busy afternoon. We got home around 6, and now I finally have some time.

I’d like for my kids to have what Z and I can afford, whether they include international holidays, the latest gadgets and so on, without thinking that this ‘life of privilege’ might spoil them for any bumps or potholes further down along the road. I think that concept of gratitude, or shukr is among the hardest one teach children. I’d like to think that reminding my kids that for every good thing we have in our lives, we say thank you (and we say it all the time) to both the person, and to God, is enough.

Equally effective, in my mind, is letting them see the harsh realities of the world. I don’t want to protect them from the fact that there are people in dire situations out there in the world. I think gratitude breeds generosity (as well as contentment) so I want them to see it, be grateful for what they have and share whatever they can with those less fortunate than them – whether what they share is their time or their money, or even dua. Yes, dua, or a little prayer. I’m trying to teach them that there’s never ‘nothing you can do’, because there’s always dua. 

That said, we don’t buy the kids everything they ask for (or I want to!). We try to implement the one in, one out policy. That they may get a new toy by either working for it, or by letting go of something they already own. Wrap it up nice, and give it to someone who could use it. I hope these little things are enough but who really knows? I’ve seen children from the same family with completely different ideas on gratitude, generosity and contentment so really at this point, I feel like all we can do it try our best to get them into the habit of thinking about it regularly. Oh and of course, do it ourselves, on a daily basis – in a way that they’ll pick up on subconsciously as well as ways that are obvious to them.

We used to do this whole bedtime ritual where we’d talk to the kids about the good and bad parts of their day, and then to list everything they’re grateful for. I loved that they were going to bed with the gratitude list as the last thought in their heads – maybe it helps them sleep better, wake up happier? Because you know, finding the joy / celebrating the ordinary, the everyday? Really when you think of it, gratitude is the motherlode of positivity. Amazing. Anyway, so at some point, our days got longer and busier and bedtimes got shorter and shorter, until we just stopped. It would be a good idea to start that up again.

Or maybe a family gratitude journal? A weekly one? Z and I like this idea, and we’re still talking about it, considering that the kids are still pretty young.

How do you nurture these concepts in your children? Let’s hear it :)

This past week, the kids had their sports day. It was fun, though surprisingly hot for end of January. Hasooni’s class was a disaster, most kids saw their parents and started to cry or, like Hasan, refused to do anything unless their parents were right next to them. Like, holding-hands right-next-to-them. Hana’s was more fun. It was lovely watching her interact with her friends, her teachers – she only remembered I was around when she needed a sip of water. I spent two consecutive days in the sun and despite my 100 SPF sunscreen, I burned and am now slowly peeling :(

In other bigger news though, Hana finally learned to ride her bike without training wheels and she loves it. She was wildly wobbly the first two days but since she’s got so much better. I can’t believe how proud I’m feeling – like I’m the one with the big achievement! I wish we had some outdoor space where she could ride everyday like I know she wants to but we can’t walk to the Qasba every single day. Speaking of the Qasba, feeding the seagulls there is such fun. They’ve got really fearless and will snatch the bread out of the air just as you fling it up, just a couple inches from your fingers! It’s like a mini-circus! The kids love it!

I restarted my Arabic classes and they’re only two hours a day. The classes also mean that my days are a lot busier than I want them to be but this is a good thing because it is really forcing me to be productive with my time. I looked up the Arabic flashcards we’d bought two years ago and strung up the colors in the kids room. In a week’s time, it will be fruits and next week veggies and so on. I’m already teaching the kids to respond with little phrases and stuff and it’s fun. It might be cool to take a class and learn something entirely new with the kids!

Speaking of classes and school, I still wish that I could pull the kids out of school but happy to report that they’re settling in okay after our long break. Happy to be back among friends and favorite teachers :)

I’m struggling with patience these days but hopefully it’s nothing a little dua and prioritizing won’t solve. I’m finding one solution on a tricky day is to get out all our arts and crafts material and let the kids go crazy with it. We’ve done it a couple of times and it’s always the easiest way to unwind for the three of us. The other option working for us right now is doing crazy dance moves. I ask the kids to come up with their craziest dance moves and I will try and imitate them. Tons of laughter all around.

A wedding in the family

…means fun, madness and more fun!

So we’re back from a whirlwind wedding trip to Hyderabad, India. We stayed at two lovely hotels, wore gorgeous (and shiny!) clothes and spent tons of family time together.  We slept a total of 14-21 hours the whole week. And of course, I got ridiculously attached to the idea of someone else making me a lovely breakfast spread every morning.

We got home on the morning of the 8th, zombie-like, having traveled all night to find that though overcast and grey, Dubai was about to start a three-day weekend. We literally slept through most of it. For the first time in a long long looong time, the kids and I were on a synchronized sleeping schedule.

The fun actually started way back in November when my sister showed up, as a total surprise, at the foot of my bed. My sister who lives in America and has a one-year old that I hadn’t yet seen. The same sister I was steaming at because I hadn’t heard from her in over 24 hours. From that point, it was all madness of prepping for the big fat desi Hyderabad wedding. And of course, managing the cousins (our kids!) who love each other just as much as they can’t stand each other.

We went shopping, we restaurant-hopped (my sister tried to consume as much Halal meat as humanly possible), we took to the kids to fun places (and some not-so-fun places), we helped our parents move, we decorated my brother’s bedroom with flowers and doilies and balloons and it all ended with a bang with the wonderfully crazy wedding (during which we more or less rinsed-and-repeated our Dubai fun times, hehe). There was some drama too, but alhamdolillah, it was the kind that we could all laugh at.

I’m only starting to vaguely feel normal again today and there’s mountain loads of laundry to be tackled, cleaning and back-to-schooling to be done. Over the next two days, the brand-spankin’-new couple and my parents will be heading back to Dubai so there will be airport trips too.

H & H are settling back into their old routines, missing their cousins but looking forward to having mami come live in Dubai. Hana plans on conning her into going on roller coasters with her and Hasan plans on making her buy him more dinosaur toys, books and puzzles.

More fun times coming up!