Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Our busiest week

We spent the first week of the easter holiday not doing anything as it was pouring every single day. I did manage to take both of them swimming one day but as there isn’t many ladies only sessions on, it’s not amazing when it’s chucking outside and you haven’t got much to do.
Week 2 was better!
Monday the sun was shining brightly, and as I looked outside at noon, I knew it was just the perfect weather to be outdoors. I am quite an impulsive person, so I decided to take the girls to the beach, which was approximately 2 hours drive from where we live. I called my brother to see if he wants to come, but his little girl wasn’t well.  The clock was ticking away and already half the day was gone, it will be 2 by the time I get there, which is not bad, but then again maybe I could go earlier and spend the whole day there. I decided then to go to The Butterfly House, which was only an hour away and not really that expensive for us 3. I didn’t mind taking them on my own, but for some reason I thought it’d be nice for us to have some company.  So, I rang a friend, who is also a single Mum with 2 kids about the same age as mine. Like me, she is used to doing things on her own, so it would be nice for us to do it together if she’s free. I knew it wasn’t probably going to work out as I was only giving her half an hour notice. But she was p for it!
All 6 of us had an excellent day there, our kids enjoyed each other’s company, and we enjoyed having another adult to talk too on the trip, it was only an hour away from the city, so it was a nice journey for us to spend half the day.
I checked the weather forecast for the week and it said sunny all week, I wanted the kids and myself to enjoy a nice break, so I decided we will do something special everyday!
Tuesday:  I woke up and looked outside, another sunny day. What shall we do today? I thought. I wasn’t in the mood to drive far, so something local would be nice. 9.15 a.m., I was still undecided. I called another friend to see if she’s free so we could taker my girls and hers to the cinema as the tickets were only £1.50 for the junior movies, but we had to be there for 10.00 a.m. Her daughter was still asleep. 2 mins later, she rang to say she’s up and she wants to go. So we rushed to get ready and at exactly 9.45, I pre-booked our tickets so we wouldn’t have to pay an extra 25p on the door per person. It was their first experience, and if you have been reading my blogs, you would know y now, we do not have a TV and my kids are not much used to watching films and other programmes.  It was risky, but I thought I won’t know until I try it out. My eldest is best mate with my friend’s daughter, so I knew she would most likely be alright, and she can sit still for sometime if she’s watching something. My youngest has a sitting still span of less than 5 mins when she’s watching anything, even kids programmes, she’s just not interested! I knew she was the main challenge, and she proved me right! She thought it was ok to talk loudly there, to shout if she felt like it, to sing random made up songs randomly or even to walk and up the row for no particular reason and finally to have continuous trips to the toilet! Well, my eldest did manage to sit still for about 90% of the film, which I must say is an achievement! Will I do it again? Most likely! Them being out of the house, means that my house is not going to be messy and dirty, and I don’t have to worry about them messing about with my things and we are all safe and happy ( to a certain degree).
Oh and we did spend the rest of the day at the park.
Wednesday: I got those cheap farm tickets on Groupon a while back, I did buy a big package as I intended for my brother and his kids to join us if they wish to. I had discussed it with him and since the voucher doesn’t expire until end of June, we were not going there unless the weather is on our side, and luckily it was this week!

Thursday: At the beginning of the week, I had a friend texting to ask how I am doing and stuff. We haven’t spoken in a long time. So we were just talking about how we find things boring and there’s nothing to do. So, I asked her if she wants to go bowling, as I know this place (through work) that does cheap deals. And she said she was in. Then she asked another of her friend to join in, but it just was not ideal for us to carry on with bowling so we decided instead to go to the park and let the kids loose. This park is actually quite nice, with a big children playground and a lake with ducks for a nature, right in the middle of a university campus! As long as we are out, all 3 of us were happy, and my house was safe as well.
Friday: I did have to do the beach trip! I mean for the past few months, I had taken the girls to the beach when it was snowing or pouring, so I owed it them to give them one sunny day at the beach.  My friend also wanted to tag along with her daughter, the more the merrier.
Saturday: I thought we’ll take it easy, so I took them swimming with me and they loved it!
Sunday: I really wanted to squeeze sometime in for a new friend I had made. She is also a single mum with 4 kids, and unlike me she struggles to go around with her kids as she doesn’t drive. So I told her I’ll take her and her kids to a big Park. We had a great time there, but more than making my kids happy, I was glad I made her kids happy.

Meeting your reflection!

Way before I got married or even divorced, I have had friends who were/are single mums. But for the very first time in the past 3 years, I met another Muslim single Mum.
It wasn’t our first meeting, to be honest, I have known her for the past 3 years; one of her sons is just a year older than my eldest and her youngest is the same age as my youngest. I used to see her every week at the local surestart, at first she used to come with her youngest son, then later with the little girl.
We would always say salam, and I would ask how are the kids and she would answer in her broken English that they are fine. I tried to have a conversation with her few times, but it was a struggle, she couldn’t understand most of what I was saying so I just stuck to the polite hello.
As my kids were growing,  I started to see her at the paddling pool sessions  I take my girls to. By that time, I wasn’t a regular sure start attendee anymore; I had a full time job and would only take the girls to paddling on Saturdays. She would come there on her own with her four children and we would say hello as we normally used to and get on with our own things.
Last year, I met one of her friends who told me she moved to the same are as me, and to get in touch with her. I did accidentally meet her eventually one day in  Aldi, and we spoke briefly. She told me she’s seen me a few times on her street walking up (I used to go down her street when walking to work). And after that we just got on with our things.
Today, I was shopping in Aldi. As i was loading my car, I saw her coming out of Aldi, she stopped to say hello. And, we spoke briefly. I assumed she was going to the car with her husband. As I was exiting the parking lot, I saw her still walking, I stopped and asked if she’s going home, and asked her to jump in. She said to drive to my house, and she’ll walk for the rest of her journey but I said it wasn’t a big deal for me to drop her off.
Her English has improved considerably, we were able to hold a conversation, and as we were talking, I actually took the direction of my house. So we drove past my house and I showed her where I live. I told her she should come around now that she knows where it is. She muttered the word ‘husband’, and I understood she was asking about my husband being around, as she won’t be comfortable with her being in my house while his around. And I just casually answer as I normally do that I am divorced.  I could see she was shocked and she said ‘me too’. This was followed by a moment of silence, it was a silence of excitement, we were like two old friends who just met after a long time. I was happy, not because she’s divorced, but I have met someone who knows what it feels like, who understood and I could see she was feeling the same. Her eyes were a bit watery, she wasn’t sad, neither was I. We were happy that we had someone to share something with, we were happy to find someone who understood everything. She then said 4 years, and I said 3. She told me she was 3 weeks pregnant when she got divorced and I told her, I was a week pregnant back then. We both smiled and I could see her being a bit emotional. Then she said, ‘it is hard, and I don’t have anyone here.’ I understood, I have my brother but I am the type of person who believe that each one should take of their family, and try to avoid being a burden or worry for him and his family. But I knew what her life was like, I live it everyday! We swap numbers, and both left each other with a feeling of accomplishment.
As I got home, I received a call from her; she forgot her shopping bag in the car, so back I went. She invited me to come inside, and I was about to refuse when her children dashed out all excited. I haven’t really spoken to them before but something told me I should accept the invitation.
I agreed to come in for a little while, and the kids jumped with joy, they screamed ‘yayyy!’ It was strange, those kids did not know me, they’ve never spoken to me before yet it made them happy to welcome us in their house.
I knew what made me stay. Like her, I very rarely have visitors, except for my brother. And, she didn’t even have that. Her kids must be happy to just have someone else in the house, to have people to talk to, and other children to play with. I remember a conversation I had with a friend a week back, she came to visit, and my house was a mess with kids toy all over my living room, and I apologised for the mess adding that it doesn’t bother me, cos my house is for my kids first and foremost. And, she said it’s ok  (for my house to be like that) as I do not really have visitors. And she’s a good friend, and she didn’t mean it in a bad way, and neither did i take it the wrong way. After all, she was telling the truth and I seriously don’t care what people think of my house or me. 
My new friend’s kids must just be overjoyed to have company, to be like other families. Like me, she didn’t belong to any community in the city.  She’s Albanian and there’s very few of them where we live. I am Mauritian, and I have never met another one here.
In the Muslim world, people tend to stay with ‘their’ people, they mingle with ‘their’ people and those who don’t belong to the same community as them are normally outsiders who they acknowledge on the street but won’t really call over.  Majority of Muslims have family/relatives who they hang around with most of the time, leaving them almost no time to socialise with outsiders or even wanting to socialise with outsiders. On top of that, if they do socialise with people outside their family, it would still be mainly with people from the same country of origin as them, as they belong to the same community. When you belong to a different minority community, it’s harder to fit in and get accepted, as there is no benefit from befriending you. On the contrary, you will probably invite them to eat food other than ‘theirs’ and which they have no interest in tasting.
As a single Mum and and an outsider, I knew exactly how much of a social life she must have. At least, I drive, I can take my kids around and enjoy days out with them. Transport is quite costly, and with 4 kids, it’s not easy to go on public transport. She must be lonelier than me I thought. We talked without talking, we knew things about each other which we didn’t have to say. We knew what it feels like when you are feeling really sick, yet you find the courage to get up and sort your kids out as there’s no one else to do it or even ask to do it. You just get on with life, and pick yourself up every time you feel like you are falling apart and start all over again. You know what it feels like when you feel like doing something with another adult, and no one has time for you as they are too busy with their friends and family, you know it all.
We had both moved on from our past, and happily! But, we have also found each other for support to move forward. Language was not a barrier anymore, we had each other’s company in a way we can’t even describe. We felt we could count on each other, without feeling we are burdening the other!

Preschoolers and toddlers: Word formation when reading

This is one of my educational posts.
My eldest who is now 3 years 7 months has started reading CVC words.
Child 1 is the youngest is her class (she is born in August), unlike most of her classmates, most of the have spent already at least a few months before her in pre-school, so starting out she was a bit behind the rest, but Alhamdulillah she is now doing really well.
I do spend a lot of time at home with her, just teaching her or going over things she already knows. She is now able to recognise all her numbers between 1-10 and can put them n the right order. She is also able to recognise all her lowercase alphabets and is still working on the uppercase.
Recently, as she now recognises her letters, I have introduced her to word formations. We have just started with CVC words such as C-A-T. She is picking it up really fast. I would normally say a CVC wor very slowly so she can focus on each individual letter and put them together using her alphabet blocks. At first, she would try to find the letters, but she struggled to put them in the right order sometimes. Lately, I got her to start reading CVC words from books, and she has started to recognise the patterns now, and she also enjoys making her own rhymes with those words.
I read to my girls every day, but I found since I have started encouraging child 1 to read us a book (with CVC words) at story time, it seems to have boost her confidence and now instead of making up her own stories from pretending to read books, she is actually spelling out the words and even manage to guess some words we haven’t come across before. One such example with the word ‘red’ that we found in one of her book, I have never worked with her on the spelling of the word ‘red’. But, as she read it out as R-E-D, she instantly connected it to the word red.
Before, she used to pretend to read the books, now she actually pick up books she can 'read' (partly), such as her little number books.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


I thought I will share a few tips about weaning inshAllah.
My eldest was weaned at 4 months, reason being she had quite severe indigestion which caused her to always vomit and be in a state of hunger. Having older siblings helped me a lot in deciding how to wean my children. My eldest sister already had 2 kids, who I adore but were a nightmare when it came to food. They would only eat puree up till almost the age of 3 and refused to eat any solids. I also knew people whose kids refused to eat anything that weren’t sweet. And by the time, I had my eldest, my sister’s kids who were about 6/8 were still very fussy eaters, and could not eat anything that was spicy.
I thought I didn’t want to deal with any of those issues. So, I devised a plan:
1.       I only fed them proper puree for a week, and the second week, I would give them food that was not properly mashed and still have bits in ( obviously not too big)
2.       They were not introduce to any sweet food for the first month
3.       By the second week, I also started mixing meat in their food
4.       Their very first meal consisted of carrot and coriander soup with a hint of pepper (spice).
5.       As the weeks go  by, the solids bits in their food grew bigger, until they were eating proper solid food ( obviously I used to overcook a lot of things, just to help them digest)
6.       They would only be served any sweet food as desert following their main meal.
7.       I did tone down the chilli and gradually increased it, but they would eat it the same food as me just in a more liquid form until they graduated onto the solid form.
8.       By the time my kids were about 8 months old, I would not spoon feed them, and would sit right next to them enjoying my meal with them, they would hold their spoons and eat by themselves and would not leave the highchair until they have actually eaten a certain amount. (Let me tell you it does get messy, but it gets better eventually, but what it does do is make your child independent, so you don’t have to keep spoon feeding them for the next few years.
All those worked fab for both my kids, although my 2nd was weaned at almost 6 months. And within a year, my children were both eating the same type of food as me and on their own!

Juicing: energy booster?

Our fruit caterpillar to go with The Very Hungry caterpillar story
As a Mum, I am very watchful of what my children eat and drink. Ever since they were little, I always wanted to make sure I feed them the best of  everything; I refused to feed them jar food, and used to make their own baby food that I would take out with me, as we used to spend a lot of time outdoors.
I am not very health conscious when it comes to me. I am a foodie and I enjoy being one, I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth (probably owing to the fact that my Dad had diabetes and I enjoyed eating and drinking sugarless deink with him, while my Mum would pour  a few spoons of sugar in her tea). But I love my savoury,  deep fried or not, I am ever ready to eat anything that’s salty. I also have a collection of chilli sauce (indeed I love my chillies!).
After my children were born, and they started to eat solids, I would join them and we would all sit together and eat. I realised how important it was for me to lead by example when it comes to eating. My kids are not fussy eaters Alhumdulillah, they eat everything and that’s something I wanted to make sure of. Growing up, I remember being a fussy eater, and my Mum always having to accommodate the menu for me. Anything my brothers and sisters didn’t like to eat, I wouldn’t eat, and also added to that list was my own ‘i don’t like it’ food.
As a mother, I didn’t want them to turn out like me, so I would cook food that I don’t like, and would give it to them even though I didn’t like it and would not eat it. But, as the kids were growing older and wiser, they would ask things like ‘Why don’t you have meat on your plate?’etc... So, I started having more red meat, along with them. No more questions are asked. Is till I’m not a big fan of red meat, but I do make sure we eat it once a week. I must say, I have to thank my kids for that, considering my iron level is always low.
My kids love their fruits/veg. I enjoy my vegetables, but I am not a fruit eater. Like I mentioned before, I do not have a sweet tooth.  Alhumdulillah, the kids never ask anything about me not eating fruits, they love it too much to be honest. But, it did make me realise that I must be lacking in some nutrients and vitamins. I finally found the solution to it: Juicing! Two of my friends have been juicing for a while and had really taken a liking to the thing. So I tried it out, and I love it!
At first I thought it was only going to give me essential nutrients and vitamins, but it happened to give me much more than that. It had a feel good factor, I mean mentally and physically, I felt better, it might just be a psychological thing, cos I know I am doing something right. But I must admit, it had made a difference to my life, I feel a lot lighter ( even though I don’t think it made a difference to the scale).
This isn;t the biggest surprise though, but since I have started juicing, today was the first time I managed to go swimming after a gap of about 3 months. I used to swim regularly before, but due to work commitments and feeling uneasy in asking people to babysit for me, I haven’t been swimming for over 3 months. One thing us single parents feel uneasy about  a lot is asking people to look after our kids while we have ‘me’ time.  No matter how close we are to someone, it is still very hard from us to come forward and say will you be willing to babysit for me while I enjoy some free time. I have thought about this a lot, I find that people who are in a relationship do not find it hard to say that to their partner or even other family members, but this is one thing a lot of us single parents struggle with. Maybe, because a lot of us have had to take more responsibility than others, especially in the case of an absent parent, where all the responsibility have been shamelessly ‘dump’ on us. And we know that it is not a nice situation to be in, and although in no way we think of our children as burdens, we know what it feels like when people are having fun instead of stepping up and shouldering their responsibility. Anyway, today since the girls were at nursery, I managed to go swimming and Boy it was amazing! I have been swimming for quite awhile, but by far this has been my best experience! I swam non-stop for the whole session, and didn’t even stop to breathe for a minute! I did more laps than I have ever done before in the same amount of time, my speed was better, my techniques were better, and it was all effortless. At the end of the session, I still felt fresh and probably could have gone on for a while longer.  I was even approached by people who thought I was great! They should have seen me swimming during my school days!(sarcasm).
I do really think, this all due to the change in my diet. But maybe not, but I guess other people should try it and tell me if it had had the same impact on them!