MOTHERHOOD

How To Introduce A New Sibling To Your Muslim Child

introducing-new-sibling-love -via-mamanushka-blo

‘Would you like a new baby?’

‘Yes!’

‘Let’s go and get one!’

It was 1986 Iran. My father and, recently turned  three year old, me had made the walk to the hospital together many times. Mama had a high risk pregnancy second time around and was often admitted for bed rest. There had been talk of a new baby. An aunty saying something to mama about eating for two and of course there was my mama’s growing round belly, which for some reason I can not picture in anything except this red v-neck sweater she used to wear.
I was excited … And it seemed so logical. Need some groceries? Go get some from the shop. Need a baby? Go get one from the hospital.

My dad held me up to look through a huge glass window and there like cereal in a supermarket aisle were what looked to me then like hundreds and hundreds of babies!

“Let’s choose one” my dad said.

I looked around me and pointed ‘This one?’
My dad made a pretense of being ‘picky’ and taking time to ‘choose’ the ‘right’ one till he landed on my sister –“THIS one!” He exclaimed, and I was happy to agree. This was my special baby sister who I remember loving all the way from her head to her toes – one of my earliest memories is lifting up the pink meshy mosquito net she would be lying under and kissing each one of her tiny pink toes. I was three so my memories of those times are not exactly extensive or accurate, still, I don’t ever remember being jealous of the new baby,( at least till girlhood set in and were were hitting each other over the head with telephone receivers!)

It was quite a while before I realised the funny trick Papa had played on me and by that time it just used to make me smile to think of it!

I know from discussions on motherhood groups on facebook, the ‘explanations’  for a new baby range from the complete honest truth, no frills added, to actually telling a child that ‘mummy is eating too much food and getting fat’ to just not telling the child anything at all and one day suddenly presenting them with a new baby brother or sister!

Even when parents are straight forward about it all a child can extrapolate the most hilarious meaning! As Aiysha recalled to me when her mama, during part of the explanation said “…the egg from the mama gets fertilized from the abu…” and for a long time she thought that ‘…fathers just went and bought fertilizer from the garden centre and sprinkled it around” (!)

Almost three and a half years ago we were in the position of explaining the impending arrival of a new sibling to our first born. I had just confirmed my pregnancy and was contemplating the best way to tell him. I wanted to be truthful but he was only 2.5 years old and I also wanted it to be uncomplicated! He used to (and still does) love hearing his own birth story, in which I always started off by telling him Mama asked Allah for a really special gift and that he, Ismail, was the most wonderful Gift that Allah could have ever given me.

From Big gifts to the smallest of things (I have lost my truck, I got hurt on my knee…) I tried to instill in him this idea that we should always ask Allah and turn to Him for anything ( for help finding the toy, for making us feel better).

So one day after I had finished praying my salah, Ismail, being the only child at that time, playing on the floor near my prayer mat, saw me still sitting and crept into my lap. I asked him then as my dad had asked me so many years ago…

‘Would you like a baby?’

His smile and nodding head was the confirmation I needed to go on with my plan…

‘What should we do when we want something? Anything?‘ ….

‘Ask Allah!’ came the reply.

So shall we ask Allah to gift us one? ‘

Yes! Yes!’  That apple cheeked smile was now tinged with excitement at the thought. So right there and then, even though I ‘knew’ I didn’t tell him, instead I let him cup those tiny hands into prayer and ask Allah for a baby. A baby sister no less (and this part, I was months from confirming!)  I made a silent prayer myself right there, with the two of us on the prayer mat, that ~ ‘Oh Allah  keep his sweet faith intact.’

I had one more question for him, just out of my own curiosity and in order to plant the seed of preparation. I asked where he thought Allah would put the baby if He decided to give us one. He thought for just a few seconds and phrased his answer in the most american of ways -as a question – ‘In your tummy?’ 

You might think that quite precocious for an almost two and half year old, but really why wouldn’t he have realised that, from the many books we had read about ‘new babies’ to a close friend of ours whom he had seen with a ‘balloon growing in her tummy’ (no sweetie that’s the baby growing slowly slowly).

Over the months as he noticed my waist expanding, he would ask to ‘see’ the baby. we told him the baby would be ‘ready’ to meet him and be born when the leaves outside start changing colour and falling all around us. This helped so much to give him some perspective of the time involved.

Ismail did get his baby sister, and now Mashallah that same little sister is about to become a ‘Big Sister’ herself. This time the children, along with waiting for the first snowfall, will be waiting for the arrival of the new baby too!

Somehow having an older sibling already, changes the dynamic of a new baby entering the family (he often shares his 5 year old ‘wisdom’ with her). We ask her ‘Ayeesh – would you like to have a new baby?’

‘No’ is the short answer we get! ‘I am the baby’ is the long answer! It seems the girl was born to be the middle child!

Do you remember the funny things grown ups told you about where babies come from? Alhamdullilah I am again in this blessed position but with a completely different child asking different questions! What are the kind of things you tell your children? Any tips appreciated!

MAKE

The Cutest, Easiest Ka’aba Craft Ever

For Eid For Hajj Or Just Because…

So far there seems to be a running theme through my posts in the makes or food  section and that is that I have declared them all to be ‘Easy’! So, here I am again, happy to share a pretty easy ‘How To’ that is totally perfect for the upcoming Eid.

Another minimum effort maximum results kind of a thing, and who doesn’t need a bit of that in their lives?

Mamanushka.com || Cute Kaaba Cards || Eid Craft || Hajj Craft

Since we made and sent these cards for last year’s Eid’ul adha, so many people told us what an adorable idea it was and how much they genuinely loved receiving the cards.

You can whip up these cute little ka’abas in plenty of time before Eid or give them as ‘Hajj Mubarak’ cards if you like. They also work beautifully as invitation cards and if you make a string of mini ones you could make a lovely banner for your Eid or ‘welcome back from Hajj’ party.

I did them with my 5 year old and two year old. Both were happy to join in and were wowed by the results ~ if you like to do ‘makes’ with little people then this is a good (non-messy) one. I actually love any opportunity to send snail mail, and enjoy encouraging my children to send and, in-turn, receive it too.

Even if you don’t have children around you, or they are too young for this – I say make them yourself anyway! Depending on how many people are lucky enough to be on your list of recipients, this won’t take much time at all.

Mamanushka.com || Cute Kaaba Cards || Eid Craft || Hajj Craft

Materials :

Black card,

Gold foil or wrapping paper, you could also use yellow but I say go for gold for that extra glam look!

Ruler for measuring out exact square

Scissors or exacto knife

Glue

Making :

Fold black card in half, measure out how big you would like the cards to be and cut a square, making sure of course not to cut the folded edge. we made ours aprox 10cm x 10cm

Stick a strip of gold foil across the card, about a quarter of the way down from the top.

Add a little rectangular gold door

(If you are into glitter, then go ahead and use a strip of glue and go crazy with the gold glitter! )

For the inside: either write directly on the black card using a gold pen or stick some paper inside and write message as normal.

Finishing Touches

Mamanushka.com || Cute Kaaba Cards || Eid Craft || Hajj Craft

We made this one with extra detail for one of my sisters who was coming back from hajj with her husband but in the end I think I actually loved the ‘minimalistic’ look more.

Slide into in cute envelopes, add stamps and send your sweet little greetings out into the world!

If you are forward thinking (unlike me) you would probably measure the card out for the envelopes you are planning to use, in order to make sure the card fits before you begin. Or if you are like me you will make all the cards realise your envelopes don’t fit and then go out, sample card in handbag, and buy envelopes that fit the card!

Mamanushka.com || Cute Kaaba Cards || Eid Craft || Hajj Craft

Receiving a hand written letter in the mail is one of the tiny pleasures of life, and it’s even more fun sending one! Enjoy! And happy Eid preps everyone!

Talking of Eid preps –

Whose Eid goes something a bit like this… ?

And ~

The 2016 Mamanushka Eid Gift Guide

READS

Library Finds: A Childhood Treasure

‘Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed’

As a child, do you remember having a place in your home which you loved the most?  Some little corner where you could snuggle and escape into?  I definitely did and todays library find comes from there! 

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed

This is my parents library. As lifelong bibliophiles, there has always been a room in their home devoted to the books they collect and cherish. To this day, I still find it a place of great serenity and contentment as the books greet me like old friends whenever I enter. I can spend hours perusing the shelves for new additions and rediscovering past favourites.

During my recent trip home, I found this gem tucked between some cookbooks – clearly misfiled by some absent-minded reader.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed

Immediately transported to my childhood, I held it in my hands and slowly turned the pages. For the first time, I noticed how thick the pages are and the fact that they are only printed on the right hand side. The floral illustrations still appealing and vibrant. A pleasure to hold and, I remember, a pleasure to read. All fifty sayings carefully chosen and considerately translated. As I continued skimming through, this paper dropped out:

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed || Year Of The Child || Ottawa Muslim Women's Auxilary

Isn’t this such a charming letter? I love how it is addressed directly to the “Dear Muslim Child” and explains not only what occasion the book was published for but why the sayings of Prophet Mohammed are important and how the book is intended to be used. I also deeply appreciate the du’a at the end: “May peace and happiness be with you!”. So genuine, sweet and full of heart.

This letter makes the book all the more remarkable and forward-thinking. I tried to find out if the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Auxillary still exists and it seems to have maybe been absorbed by the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organisation, although I can’t be sure of this. If anyone has any more information, please do share it in the comments – I would so like to know what happened to this organisation and the people in it. Who were these tremendous ladies who thought the best way to honour the Year of the Child was by privately publishing a beautiful book on our beloved Prophet – specifically for children, so that they may get to know him through his own words? I want to meet them. I want to say thank you and let them know that the goodness of their effort has reverberated through the years in a most beautiful way. I wish more present-day organisations were as gracious and thoughtful in their projects.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed || Ottawa Muslim Women's Auxilary

As a child myself, my Mama would regularly ask my siblings and I to read through the book and write out one saying that we liked. We would then gather and talk about what we had chosen, why we liked it and what we thought it could mean. I always found this very enjoyable and often decorated my chosen saying with exuberant doodle patterns.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed || Ottawa Muslim Women's Auxilary

The sayings selected for this book focus on being inspiring, thoughtful and practical. They are translated in ways that are easy to understand and easy to read. Without any extra explanations or opinions, the young person (or adult) is able to reflect not only on the sayings themselves but also what they portray of the man who said them –  abundant peace  and blessings be upon him. Straightforward and elegant, this format is absolutely perfect for its intended audience of children.

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed || Ottawa Muslim Women's Auxilary

 

Another thing my Mama would do with this book is, from time to time, pick a saying she thought would be meaningful for each of us. As the resident chatterbox, I remember this one often being dedicated to me:

MAMANUSHKA.COM || Library Finds || Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed || Ottawa Muslim Women's Auxilary

 

Unfortunately, this book is out of print (I suspect they were only printed the once, in 1979) and does not seem to be available anywhere I checked.  If you have a copy yourself or happen to come across one, keep it, treasure it and share it with the children in your life –  it will reward you with peace and happiness again and again.

DESIGN

How To Be At Home Wherever You Are

Mamanushka.com || How To Be At Home Wherever You Are

When I was seven or eight years old, I remember my second grade teacher asking the class for their favourite animal. I waved my hand and waited patiently to be called. When my turn finally came, I gave this enthusiastic answer: I have two favourite animals! Turtles and snails!

Mrs. Scott was intrigued. That’s unusual.  Why turtles and snails?  And I knew, oh I knew why I liked them – more than cats and dogs and lions and all the other animals that had been named. I liked turtles and snails, I said, Because wherever they are, they’re home.

I loved this thing about having your home with you wherever you are. That when the need for shelter and comfort (physical and otherwise) arose, you could just pull yourself inwards and be perfectly safe and content.

Throughout my travels, I was always so happy to be where I was and considered myself the best type of Global Citizen: Appreciative, friendly and at ease anywhere. The irony of it all then, when we got married and decided to settle in the UK and I found myself completely not at home. This kind of migration, one that happened in the best of circumstances and which I chose with my entire madly-in-love heart, is the kind that too many people don’t have as they forced to traverse the globe. And yet, even knowing this, I hadn’t expected the transition to be so challenging.

I adored my sweet husband and treasured our home together but outside of that bubble, it was tough to be in a place where nobody knows you beyond how you are connected to your spouse. I missed the friends who knew me before I lost my baby teeth. I missed the city that I could navigate with ease and speed. I missed conversations without sarcasm. But most of all I missed my family. I missed my parents. I missed home.

After all this time, I still find it hard coming back to this island. Everything seems small and crowded, the sky too close and the people too cold. I attempt to strengthen myself with power stances and prayer as I ready myself every morning to face the day – trying not to think about how much easier it could all be if only my parents lived down the road or my sister a half-hour away. How simple to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat. How lovely for the children to have so many more loving adults close by. I remind myself not to be ungrateful. To see the blessings as they fall around me. I wish I could blame this country but it hasn’t done anything wrong – only that it doesn’t contain all the people I love the most.

Allah says, Be thankful to Me, and to thy parents; to Me is the homecoming. (Qu’ran 31:14).

Never did I feel or connect to this verse more than when I left my parents house. In my heart, theirs will always be my most deeply rooted home, the one in which I was raised, nurtured, cherished and protected. My gratefulness for this sanctuary knows no bounds and that is why leaving, even after a visit, is still difficult. And yet, the truth is, I know that if I can’t manage to be apart from my parents for 3,000 odd miles, how will I ever be able to contemplate an eternity without them?!

And so, here is the straight-up, best way to be at home wherever your life takes you: It is to remember that the ultimate home is the one to strive for.

One where there are no partings and no goodbyes, only an endless coming together in joy and the company of ALL whom you love. Can you imagine it? Every single person you’ve ever loved in the same place… forever.

Knowing this, I am inspired to do better. To be better. To ask Allah for mercy, for grace, for gratitude and contentment – so that I may be one of those people who are truly thankful.

And when that is the focus, all the good around us becomes clear and vibrant. We can better see the gifts we are given and there are days like today – gorgeous, exquisite, soul-quenching days – where I remember that I am here in this place at this moment for some special reason, even if I don’t yet know what it is. That my experiences compel me to build communities where others will feel less lonely. And that I am privileged to have many homes around the world, so much so that when travelling my children ask if we are going to our England Home or Canada Home, Scotland Home or London Home – each place filled with people who love us without reserve.

Many years ago I read that “your place is where Allah places you”. Whether in this realm or the next, your home has been especially chosen just for you. And while mine is not quite a turtle shell, I’ll revel in it anyways. MashAllah.

Mamanushka.com || How To Be At Home Wherever You Are

DESIGN

Muslim, Woman, Olympian: Changing The Way We See The Games

Mamanushka.com || Changing the Way We See The Games || Muslim Woman Olympian || Sara Ahmed

Have you been gripped by Olympic Fever? It’s an actual thing – and this house has it. We check the schedule, note results, replay best moments and empathise with misfortunes (#ouch). While we can never forget that the Olympics are notoriously problematic for host countries, the tenacity and determination of  individual athletes is both compelling and awe-inspiring.

The absolute best thing about these Rio Olympics is that, for the first time, we have a child who is old enough to enjoy watching them with us! Since we are in the UK (and still on summer holidays) this means many midnight viewing parties cuddled in blankets with some special friends.

I love seeing the Games through her six year old eyes: Her absolute wonder at the strength and commitment required  “She must practice a LOT!”, her observations of the joys and sorrows of the athletes “Why is he crying if he won?” and the way she tries to figure out which sport she could one day compete in “I don’t swim that much but I’m good at trampolining – I could maybe win that!”

Mamanushka.com || Changing the Way We See The Games || Muslim Women Olympians

Together, she and I enjoy supporting the Muslim athletes, especially the women, about whom she wants to know everything: Where are they from? How did they start?  Will they win? Do I think they pray before they begin?

I can see her making the connections between herself and these extraordinary women. Elite athletes who look like her, have names like her and pray like her are representing themselves in straightforward, uncomplicated and unapologetic ways and it is exhilarating.

We were crazy happy watching Sara Ahmed win a bronze medal, cheered our hearts out watching Ibtihaj Muhammad do the same with her team and have been following Sifan Hassan through all her gripping races.  But, with only four Olympic days left, there is still one Muslim champion we can’t wait to see!

Mamanushka.com || Watching The Muslim Women Olympians || Nur Tartar

Nur Tatar of Turkey is a Taekwondo Olympian who won a silver medal in 2012 and is scheduled to spar later this week. She is strong and fantastic and a real contender for winning the gold. Are you planning to watch her match? Let’s support her together with #OlympicNur.

Podium or not, these powerhouses are inspiring a generation of fearless young women and girl athletes. And that? We LOVE.

Are there any other athletes or events you are still waiting for? What Olympic moments have moved you?

DESIGN

Five EASY Plants, That Will Purify Your Air, Look Good & Make You Feel Awesome

You guys! I need to stop buying new plants!

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OK, so the only new one is that Zebra Cactus, but still!

Have I always been a plant lover? Coaxing out little buds of greenery with my coveted green fingers? Nope.

When I first left home and had my ‘own space’ nary a single real plant would you have found there. 

Until recently.

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We had just moved to a new city. My sister had just bought me this adorable book. You can’t tell from the photo but it’s small, quite simple and not bogged down with unnecessary detail.  Amongst basic ‘natural cleaning products found in your kitchen cupboard’ type of advice, was a page with some interesting information. Here’s what it had to say ;

“If you are still worried about indoor air pollution, despite making your own cleaning products, then there is some good news. there is a way to purify air while bringing beauty and color into your home. Welcome to the amazing world of houseplants!” 

And just like that I was hooked. I needed houseplants in my life. I had been under the impression that all plants are air-purifiers. However, as I was about to learn some plants are more so than others, especially for common household toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene (found in many household objects and materials as well as commercial cleaning products).

So after a post moving frenzy I felt like doing something I had never done before, something daring and ‘grown up’. I went to a farm shop and bought plants!

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Fresh Paint and Houseplants. Apparently these are the first two things you need to make a newly moved into space feel alive and welcoming. Choosing a couple of plants to take home with me that day felt strangely therapeutic and much to my husband’s surprise, I started growing my collection!

But wait I didn’t just pick up any pretty plant. No. This time I had a plan. Armed with the information from my book and a Google generated list of EASY  maintenance plants, I matched the two to make one list – of plants that require minimal care AND were going to purify our indoor air!

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See that tiny cute little guy in the middle, the one my cute little assistant is pointing at so helpfully? (what you can’t hear in the photo – my daughter screaming – ‘MAMA!  Look! TINY one!’ ) It grew all by itself from one I had bought earlier! Basically a miracle when it comes to my relationship with plants … (something actually grew from a plant in my care?!) 

If you are like me and want to surround yourself with plants but can’t even see a tinge of green on your fingers, then here is a beginners list of  5 easy to care for plants, many of which are also excellent for purifying the air in your home. 

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Aloe Vera (along with a wide range of succulents and cactus shown in the photos prior to this) just need a sunny spot in your home and watering once every three weeks or so. Aloe Vera, in fact, will be fine even in a less sunny spot and it must be the commonest known home remedy plant, you really can just snap a part of this rubbery gel filled plant and rub it on cuts/burns/ for quick cooling relief.

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Crispy Fern, is an easy fern, unlike other plants from the fern family which can be quite fiddly. Indoor air purification properties? Excellent.

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Also one of the easiest of the easiest, Pothos is high on the list of plants that are indoor air-purifiers. It has a lovely ‘fall’ to it as it trails out and if you put it in a shady area, will grow some leaves with a marble like dappled pattern. This plant can take a bit of over watering so it is an ideal ‘starter’ plant if you want a child to take responsibility for one.

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Snake Plant, also called Mother In Law’s tongue (!) is another hardy but beautiful plant. SO sculptural don’t you think? This plant will actually survive in any corner of your house and is another good one for indoor air-purification, especially for removing formaldehyde. (I prefer its beautiful botanical name – Sanseviera)

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This ZeeZee Plant is a serious trooper and probably my favorite. It has suffered falling from the windowsill not once not twice but three times! I finally learned from my mistake and placed it, more firmly, on a shelf (and re potted it too).

zz-plant-house-plant-via-mamanushka-blog

(The ZZ Plant in a much happier place!) Although this one does not have particular properties of detoxing in-door air pollution, I do love it so! It is one of the easiest plants ever and will look gorgeous anywhere and match with any decor.

How about you? are you a newbie like me or do you have a jungle in your home already? Any more easy-peasy plant suggestions? We’d LOVE to know!

 

Other Houseplants used to clean the air :

To remove trichloroethylene : Gerbera Daisy, Marginata and Peace Lilly 

To remove benzene : Gerbera Daisy, Pot Mum and Peace Lilly

To remove formaldehyde: Parlour Palm, and Janet Craig

And if you are really keen an even more extensive list of 50 plants recommended by NASA to effectively  clean indoor air, ranked in order of effectiveness from most effective to least. (However I can’t promise that they are all ‘easy’!)

MOTHERHOOD

How to ‘Say’ It So Your Children ‘Do’ It

How To 'Say' It So Children 'Do' It || Mamanushka.com

We’ve all been there. A screaming tantrum at the supermarket. Bickering kids in the backseat. And my personal favourite, the day your lovely child refuses to cooperate with anything (naturally, this is also the day you have the most things to do). How is it possible that after years of daily reminders, attempts at building good habits and forever using our words and modelling how NOT to use our hands, our children still don’t seem to listen to us? Some days, I feel like a scratched CD that keeps repeating the same three chords.  If any of this resonates with you, then read on, for you are not alone.

Recently, while  listening to an archived episode of one of my favourite podcasts,  I came across a nugget of information about how to get  your children to listen to what you say and learn to follow the right rules.

Apparently, the technical term for this technique is Value Based Advice (as opposed to Rules Based Behaviour) and the thing to do is to teach the values upon which rules are based.

So, instead of saying “don’t leave the table before everyone is finished”,  say “we wait for everyone to finish as a sign of respect,”. Or instead of “don’t hit your brother”, try “everyone has the right to feel safe in our family”.

Expressing myself this way at first felt quite unnatural and needlessly formal but amazingly,  it has actually made a difference! Of course, my children are still quite young but I notice that I don’t need to repeat myself quite so many times and that getting over sibling squabbles has gotten much easier for all involved.

The bonus of using  this type of language is that eventually, children will learn to assess the validity of rules (in and out of the home) for themselves and be able to discern whether or not an action or situation resonates with their core values.  Isn’t that so cool? Let us know if you’ve ever heard of this before or what happens if you decide to try it out!

 

Illustration from the book Llama Llama Mad At Mama by Anna Dewdney (One of our favourite books ever!)

MAKE

Pom-Pom Ice-Cream

 On Being A ‘Play at Home Mom’

ice-cream-pompoms-via-mamanushkablog

I think I had read once, on the online magazine – ‘Parenting’ that to actually enjoy playing with your child try thinking back to the kind of pretend play you used to enjoy in your own childhood and play the same with your kids. For me, one of the things I used to love was making anything in miniature form. A love of miniature  has followed me through to adulthood. So inspired by a library book and hazy memories of  seeing some super-mum make adorable pom-pom ice creams with her kids on Instagram, I set off with high hopes to be that kind of mother and make some as a quiet time activity with my son (while his baby sister was having a nap). Turns out it was easy. And fun. And totally cute. And that mum was prob just like you and me (so basically a super-mum, I mean aren’t we all?)

There are countless ways you could do this, here’s how we did it:

Materials : Scissors, small stapler or hot gun , Elmer’s glue, pompoms, brown paper, burlap (if you are a rice kind of family you can cut up the burlap sack that oftentimes rice is sold in)

Method – You can see in the background of this photo my 5yr old is layering a cut out triangle of brown paper on top of a cut out triangle of burlap. Stick them together to make one triangle.

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Fold the triangle to make a cone shape (mamas with samosa making experience will know this is easy)

Use a glue gun or staples to keep the paper and burlap in the shape of a cone.

Add the Pom pom ‘Flavors’ with a dab of Elmer’s glue.

The vanilla swirl I made with white play dough. Sprinkle with glitter.

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The ice lollies are mini ice lolly sticks with paper cut out shapes stuck either side. we added glitter and decorations to them later.

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By this time little one was awake and older one was excited to show her what he had made ‘for her’.

We did this months ago, and the kids still play with this ‘home-made’ pretend food till now. They have held up surprisingly well. The play dough one breaking only recently!

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Ice cream play is not new to us. A few years ago, when a lovely friend surprised Ismail with the generous gift of an easel/chalk board one of the first things he wanted to play was ‘restaurants’. This time we had the most fun making the menus. Here is the ‘dessert menu’. He dictated the flavors and choice of chalk color, I wrote them down. He was three at the time so writing was no where near the horizon for him then, but this would make an excellent ‘game’ of writing and spelling practice for older kids. It would have actually been an ideal extension of the pom-pom ice creams activity … how adorable to have a chalk board menu outside the mini shop? But hey, I am not Pinterest perfect nor am I so organised!

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‘Fish Sticks’ flavor ice-cream, anyone?

READS

Library Finds: ‘Ice Cream Summer’

Book By Peter Sís

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Three time Caldecott honoree Peter Sís’s  picture book is pure delight. We found each and every page full of the sweetest ice cream details and funniest finds. It’s one of those books that you and your child will get more and more out of each time you re-visit it. So many times we lingered on one particular page to look for all the (illustration’s version) of ice-cream puns! Talking of which, the whole book looks like it was painted with a palette of ice cream flavors using a brush tinged with summer fun.

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The book starts off as a letter a boy is writing to his grandfather about the summer holidays and goes on to sing a song of ice cream heaven! We learn some ice cream history (who invented the first ice cream in the world? who patented the first flat bottomed cone?) some mathematics and vocabulary too sprinkled with a bit of science and a whole mixture of imaginative additions. One can’t help but reminisce to childhood ice cream summers and if you have a little one around to share this book with the best part is that you can relive those moments again with them. We talked about favorite flavors and yucky flavors, about fantastical flavors and disappointing ones too.

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Put this book on your library list and be prepared to eat some ice cream! It’s summer for us here as I write, but for sure when we first put this book in our bag of library books it was the middle of a New England winter (that means snow and a lot of it for those of you who are unfamiliar with winters in that part of the world) however as all normal human beings of the world know – it’s never too cold for ice cream and definitely never too hot or cold to cozy up to a real gem of a library find with someone you love.

You know that joyful feeling in your heart when your child asks you to play with them? Yeah me neither. Watch out for a bonus post later today with a totally adorable and easy play idea inspired by this book. May be this time you will be the one asking your child if THEY will play with YOU?!

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DESIGN

The One Gift Perfect For ALL Occasions

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While I  was preparing for some medical exams, I had this lecturer who would explain a certain type of investigation- I forget exactly what now, some kind of blood test (that is a good initial choice for all patients, regardless of presentation)-  by saying ;‘it’s like flowers. good for any occasion’.

I loved that analogy, and you know what? He was totally right. Birthday? Flowers. Anniversary? Flowers. Graduation? Flowers. Sick Visit? Flowers, Funeral? Flowers.  ‘I wish he/she hadn’t bought me these flowers!’ – says no one ever  (unless perhaps you are unfortunate enough to have an allergy them)!  And really, we all know the best occasion for flowers is no occasion at all.

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Whenever I can’t justify splurging on buying myself a particular bouquet that has caught my eye I will often justify it easily enough in my mind, if I think of someone to gift them to. A girlfriend I’m about to visit or a fellow mum whose kid has invited mine for a play date. (Like these gorgeously named ‘blushing brides’ that I couldn’t resist one time…)

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I often think – if only men realized the power in buying a ‘no occasion’ bunch of flowers for the special ladies in their lives once in a while . Especially for their wife, after marriage, in the midst of kids, on a day when she is not expecting anything. The most beautiful flowers I received weren’t actually the most beautiful, in the sense you might imagine. Hubby and I were having one of those days, where most things turn into … let’s say … ‘bickering’, I called him up to buy some groceries, (it was a total favor, in the middle of his work day) and was pretty curt to him on the phone too. He dropped off groceries, and drove back to work without a word. I looked in the bag to find, milk, eggs, blah blah blah and … Roses. A dozen yellow roses. Hubby:10 Wifey: a big fat ZERO!

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I am telling you gentlemen – flowers give you points. Lots of them. Yeah sure she can buy herself flowers and actually I often do, but take it from me – even if you plucked a single flower from the bush outside your front door, she will treasure it. Women don’t see flowers they see Love.

My kids and I always stop to smell the flowers, no not so often at the local park but on grocery runs at Trader Joe’s. If you are in North America you will know that Trader Joe’s have the best flowers and I reckon for the best prices. It started off when my first born was a baby, just general mama baby chit chat and we would talk about the colors we liked best but soon this mama turned it into a teaching point .

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By the age of 3, my son knew which flowers were my favorite (and could therefore easily suggest them as a buying option while shopping with baba!) and my daughter who is now two and a half,  loves to join in when we are choosing a bunch for friends. Once when we were wondering what to buy his much-loved Qur’an teacher as a gift – I asked Ismail  – ‘whats the best gift you could give a lady if you can’t think of anything else?’. He is  nearing 6 and  knows the drill by now. His future wife can thank me later!

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If you have a sudden urge to buy flowers after reading this, my sister has these few simple steps to make grocery store flowers look a little more chic.

  1. Instead of going for a  pre-arranged bouquet, choose two or three small bunches (if you are stuck stick to a similar color palette) and once at home, mix them up into one big bouquet,
  2. Finish off the ‘flower shop’ look by adding a few loose leafy branches either from a tree outside or just buying some eucalyptus leaves.
  3. If the flowers are for a gift, wrap them with any fancy paper or even just plain brown paper and if you have some lying around tie some string or ribbon too.

You wont believe the difference this makes!  My sister has been doing this for years but apparently its a thing. Here are some sunflowers I wrapped in gold paper for instant glamour! (Can you guess sunflowers are my favorite?)

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I’m a total amatuer at flower arranging, you definitely don’t need to be a pro to try this. Here is one of my attempts, which I arranged last winter for a dear friend (note the eucalyptus leaves!)

Before:

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After:

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