What’s Your Nighttime Routine…?

Thanks to social media I have come across unlimited useful things, whether be it in the parenting field, or the beauty and fashion one, and of course hands down to the food and recipes world (Thank goodness for Pinterest!). Recently I have been seeing everywhere fashionistas sharing their “nighttime beauty routines”, and each and every time I see those videos, I am blown away with the amount of time one needs to wash their face, apply the 3 different creams, the 2 serums, the masks and I don’t know what else!! I always have ONE question in my head: How the hell do they have time (or energy) for this?!

Anything that exceeds putting on my pajamas is unlikely to happen at any given night! Because between making breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, kissing boubous, homeschooling my only child, stalking people on Instagram (because hello! Who doesn’t!), looking presentable for when we go out (because we all know, the one time I won’t, I will probably meet all my friends, ex colleagues, acquaintance, and every single person I might have met somewhere in the past 12 years!), making small talk with the cashier, the security guy and random people, pretending to be all kinds of cartoon characters (because my child thinks I am also 4), calling my mother every single day (because after losing my father, my mind always goes to the darkest places, ALWAYS), going to the gym (because Yeah I wanna be fit and look good too), answering my child’s 345268974830 daily questions……. Well between all these things I HAVE NO TIME OR ENERGY FOR A NIGHTTIME ANYTHING! By the time my kid is asleep, I am probably seeing double, a bit dizzy and definitely so out of breath! I always need a superhuman force to take me from the couch where I collapse right after I put him to sleep, and get me to my bed! So it really amazes me that other women have the time, the energy and the patience to to have a nighttime beauty routine, every single night! And some of these women HAVE CHILDREN too!

Please don’t get me wrong, if you are one of these superwomen, who go the extra mile and take super good care of themselves, then good for you, here I am clapping and cheering for you, but please do share your secrete with us helpless, super tired and absolutely unaware of this world of nighttime stuff , mamas,  who barely make it past 7:30pm, and some of us even skip the “putting on my pajamas” part because their crazy tired bodies are just incapable of anything other than passing out hoping and praying for a little more than 5 hours of sleep! Just to wake up again with panda eyes, wild hair, a new pimple sending greetings, and a little hope to have an interrupted trip to the bathroom!

So yeah .. Cheers to nighttime beauty routines…while I excuse myself now that I still have one eye half open, so I can rock MY nighttime routine and put on my PJs 😉

Ouiam

This is How I Plan for Ramadan

It is the season of long days, and even longer nights. Hours spent in the kitchen preparing all kinds of food that might cross your mind. Hours spent trying to strengthen our relationship with our creator. If life is hectic during normal days, during Ramadan it becomes frantic, a total whirlwind of craziness, multitasking and tiny fights between you and your very hungry, and angry stomach.

Without a doubt, Ramadan is the busiest month EVER! And to keep my sanity, I need to keep things planned and well organized. If you know me you would probably know that in general I am a very well organized person, I make daily, weekly, and monthly plans, I have 2 agendas, and a big calendar on my fridge to keep things under control. So when Ramadan approaches, I roll up my sleeves, and take out all my lists, plans, sheets, agendas …etc .

A friend of mine recently asked me how do I plan everything, and I thought it could be a great post, so I decided to share my way of planning. I start days/weeks before Ramadan. I first tackle the kitchen. I prepare all what can be prepared before hand, and stored in the freezer. Anything… you name it! But mainly all kinds of Samboussas, which we love and eat daily during Ramadan. All kind of fillings: Tuna & black olives, Chicken & béchamel sauce, Chicken & noodles, Meat, Vegetables, Vegetarian taco filling, Spinach & cheese…..etc. Needless to say that we bake them, of course, we fry nothing!

I then go to meal planning! For all 30 days! I have no time to waste eating my head up thinking : Chicken or meat? And what’s for me?-since I am the only vegetarian in the house- Nothing fancy! Just an excel sheet with 30 columns. I do a little search online (Thank God for Pinterest) and voila! It takes about 2-3 hours, but then I am free for the next 30 days!

I also plan Adam’s lessons for the whole 30 days to come! This way I don’t struggle with the planning process during Ramadan. I keep a notebook in my handbag (close by), where I write down anything Adam asks me during our very busy days, then when I get a chance I look at them and plan our lessons. I also use a very simple weekly excel sheet, where I write down the lessons. I used to follow our Montessori program (the same way: using the Excel sheet), but recently we have enjoyed the notebook method much more, so we are sticking with it.

I then go on to plan our weekly activities. Our days go on the same pace from before Ramadan. Adam still needs to go on with his activities, so we plan different things for our afternoons. We aim to be back home by 5pm, this way I still have time to prepare for Iftar. You’ve guessed it right lol, also using an Excel sheet! I also use the big monthly calendar on my fridge, to write down every single appointment, class, work meeting, deadline, activity, playdate…etc.

I also have a daily note book, where I write down all the things I need to get done the next day (everyday). I write down every single task, no matter how silly it might sound, but with no food or water, I tend to forget things. I keep that notebook with me wherever I go, I cross off whatever gets done, the rest gets promoted to the next page/day and so on 😉

Our weekly shopping is also done through a list, but it is much easier because all I have to do is have a look at our meal plans for the week to come, -the one I already prepared for all the 30 days of Ramadan-and then see what we need and don’t have.

I know this might sound crazy to some, but for me this is what keeps me going. I hate to think of Ramadan as the month that will slow me down, it is the absolute opposite! It is a wonderful month that only comes once a year, a time when you assess and evaluate your life, and your achievements as a human being. It is the time when you are supposed to pave the way for yourself to become the best version of yourself for the next 11 months to come just to do it all over again! So I am not going to waste any precious time or lounge around all day long waiting for the day/ month to finish!

Let me know know if this was helpful 😉

Ouiam

Couscous and a Whole Lot of Treasures!!

Oh La La…!! I don’t even know where to start! But if you are a foodie, like me, then stick around, I promise you’ll like what’s to come!

Friends! For the last 12 years I have been looking desperately for a Moroccan restaurant that can cook food that would remind me of my home and my mama’s kitchen, just to be disappointed each and every time, with food that even though is presented in a Moroccan  Tajine -The Moroccan pot with its cover- feels nothing like the food I grew up eating and loving.

Last week an old friend of mine invited me to her place, for a homemade Couscous –A very famous Moroccan dish- made by her sister, and of course I happily obliged. The couscous was made from scratch, made from wheat (and not semolina, so much healthier), it had all the vegetables that I could think of and looked splendid! She also cooked the meat separately because she knew that I am vegetarian! So very thoughtful! The couscous was full of flavors, cooked perfectly, and the vegetables were succulent!! To my surprise, the sister was a Chef! She cooks from home and can deliver all over Bahrain, or you can just pick up your food from her house! How did I not know that!!!

 

The Chef’s name is Mona, she is from Marrakech, and has been cooking for over 20 years! She makes all kinds of food that your heart desires, with very reasonable prices and the best quality!

For whoever is familiar with the Moroccan cuisine, Mona can make exquisite Bastillas, Tajine, Zaalouk, Briwat, Moroccan sweets.…and all the other delicious Moroccan food. She can also make delightful international dishes. She can prepare a whole buffet in case you have a big lunch/dinner, and believe me, you won’t regret it.

You can have a look at her Instagram page: @lallamoulatikitchen

And if you would like to order anything, you can reach her at:

33322808

366640602

Make sure you mention Chanelmama and get a nice discount 😉

Enjoy…!

Ouiam

Bali Oh Bali..!

 

 

Few weeks ago, we packed our bags, booked our flights, and with a dancing heart and a warm smile, headed to the land of a thousand temples, and a million smiles: BALI, in Indonesia.

Now let me tell you, the journey is not for the faint hearted, nor for parents of small kids either (unless you are very very brave, or crazy lol). We took a flight from Bahrain To Muscat Oman, which is 1hr30 min long (They just inaugurated the new airport, and it’s so beautiful and very artistic), we then took another flight from Muscat to Jakarta (Indonesia). Then we had to go through customs and go collect our bags (they can’t send the bags all the way to Bali, for some reason, so you will have to collect your bags and then check them in again in another terminal), then we had to leave the airport, walk with our 2 suitcases, get up and down escalators, and finally take a Skytrain (it is about 5 minutes away, the ride is another 5 minutes and it takes you to the terminal of domestic flights).  The whole thing took about 1hr30 minutes, so if you are planning flights, make sure you have enough time before the next flight (we had 3 hours and it was perfect!). We then took a 2 hours’ flight to Bali! We reached around 7 pm and we were so ready to have a nice warm meal, and just sleeeeeeeeep.

My husband chose “Westin Nusa Dua” Hotel in Bali, and I seriously couldn’t be happier with his choice!  It is in a gated community, surrounded by other 5 stars hotels, the beach, and beautiful nature. Very calm and quiet if you wanna recharge and relax. Next to the hotel there is a great outdoor mall, called “Bali Collection”, with tons of amazing restaurants, cafes and shops, there is also a supermarket, and many ATMs. The hotel also has an amazing Kids’ club, very spacious and has so much to offer, the staff are so lovely and very helpful –but hey the whole population of Bali is, they are so peaceful and very kind!

 

 

Our trip was about 10 days, so we decided to do some fun sightseeing as well as to spend some time relaxing by the pool and the beach, this way we will still explore Bali, and also have time to relax, and it was a great decision!

 

Uber, and Grab, are not very popular in Bali, I’ll even dare to say that they are not safe to use, as the local Taxi drivers do not appreciate the competition, but you can always find kind drivers that will take you around and not charge you an arm and a leg. We had the chance to meet a lovely friend/driver: Mr.Lanos , he was so knowledgeable, helpful and so very kind (message me if you want his details, I can’t recommend him enough!). He took us to many places, and told us tons of stories about Bali’s culture and traditions. He has 3 kids so he is very sweet and good with kids too (always a plus when you are a parent).

One more thing about transportation in Bali, you can also use their local Taxi company which is called:” Blue Bird”, they always use the meter, and you can download their app and just order cabs from there anywhere and anytime. However, be aware that there are many similar taxis: similar color-Blue- similar logo-a blue bird- and even a similar name (sometime Blue Biro, or Blue Bir…etc), so you think they are Blue Bird, and take the cab and then be charged a little fortune since they do not use the meter, so just be careful.

 

 

We visited many places like:

  • Tegenungan Waterfall: You can book your tickets online, or just buy them at the door. It is a great spot for nature lovers. Before you reach the entrance of the waterfall, you’ll find plenty of art and souvenir shops. There are bathrooms, snacks and ice cream shops too. The falls are only few minutes’ walk down the trail beyond the shops. The water’s volume is impressive, and you can even enjoy a little dip in the water, if you want.

  • We loved visiting Ubud, a very lively “village”, with lots of shops and restaurants. Great for walks and if you wanna get some exquisite souvenirs

 

  • The Monkey Forst: Yes as the name suggests it is a forest full of monkeys. It was amazing to see that great amount of monkeys lol. Just a small advice, do not leave any food in your bag because MAN  they will steal it, even if it is just a bottle of water- which might of might not had happened to us hahaha.

 

  • Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan : An amazing temple on the beach. Such amazing scenery that will take your breath away, and if you are lucky –as we were- you would witness the most magical sunset ever! No better place to witness the glory of God. You will also find many many shops there, for art and souvenirs and with great prices.

 

 

  • Kuta village: such a beautiful place with great big malls, and a whole neighborhood filled with amazing furniture, clothes, and souvenir shops, it also has a great beach. A stroll in Kuta village will probably take a whole day or at least a whole afternoon.

I also really enjoyed the Balinese food and the very cool and stylish restaurants and cafes. You can also find all sorts of cuisines you like: Italian, Asian, …etc.

 

 

Some of the restaurants I really enjoyed are:

Bale Agung in Denpasar- Pemecutan Kelod:  For Balinese cuisine.

De Verdant Kuma, in Badung – Benoa: For Vegan, organic food.

The Pirates Bay, on the beach in Nusa Dua: International food, you eat in Tree Houses, surrounded by the beach, beautiful scenery, and cute squirrels.

 

 

 

As there are many beaches in Bali, expect to be surrounded by mosquitos, so be equipped with mosquito repellents and creams for mosquito bites, especially if you have kids.

In the whole of Bali, there is an impressive number of squirrels! They are everywhere! Friendly though, they will never jump on you or anything like that.

Our trip was fabulous, just like we have expected, and more. We loved each and every minute of it.

 

Terima Kasih (Thank you in Indonesian)

Ouiam

The Story of Belle and her Mama Bear

It is funny how once you become a parent, your mind naturally becomes a constant search engine, that is automatically wired to look for and focus on what’s right and good for your child. We are always on a hunt for ways to talk to our children, for how to make them smarter, kinder, and more patient, for how to make our “mom guilt” a little less, all the time.  Becoming a mom also makes you profoundly aware of other moms, the way they parent, the way they talk to their kids, the way they live their life. As a mother myself, I always make sure to give a warm smile to the mom struggling at a supermarket aisle, with a 2 years old throwing a tantrum, because two years old are supposed to throw tantrums. Or give a pat on the back to my airplane seat neighbor, whose child is cranky, crying, and having a hard time, because airplanes are not fun for children, period! Or tell that mother sweating, and turning all red, at the park trying to get her child out of that slide, and go home. Tell her that she is doing great and that one day she will look back and miss all these sweet days!

The other day I was by the pool with my family, and there was another mother with her little girl Belle -what a sweet name-  and of course even though I was busy having a blast with my family, I couldn’t help but over hear the one way convo that was going on between the mom and her daughter: “Belle Stay away from the sun”, “ Belle, eat your banana”, “Belle get into the pool”, (if she was getting out), or “Belle get out of the pool” (if she was getting in), “Belle don’t throw the ball in the pool” -the beach ball that was designed to be in the water, “Belle don’t touch the squirrel” –the cute little squirrel that was passing by-….. and a whole lot of reasonable requests –from the mother’s point of view, yet not so practical for poor Belle. Saying those commands is a whole different story than hearing them, because as mothers we all say them –or similar ones- at least once a day, but listening to them felt almost like the mother didn’t want her daughter to have fun!  The mother’s voice kept on taking over the serenity and tranquility of the pool, and Belle as any other 3 years old wasn’t complying with all those above requests.

As a mama, I totally knew and understood where that sweet mama was coming from, she was just looking after her sweet Belle, however for a change, I put myself in the toddler’s shoes, and all I could hear is: ORDERS!  There was a total absence of connection between mother and daughter and sweet Belle wasn’t having any fun so of course she was being cranky, she was crying and screaming her lungs out, she was acting out and giving herself and her mama a hard time. Not that the toddler is controlling her mama by acting this way, it is just that she is frustrated and she has no clue how to face her big emotions.

So while sipping a cool drink, I did what I always do, I reached out to the tired and so pissed off mama – whom I found out later was pregnant, in her first trimester and was completely drained. I told her that she was doing a great job –because she totally was! All moms do- and I just started talking about the weather, about the beautiful pool , about where they were from…. Etc, you know small talk just to get her mind off Belle, and give the mama a chance to step aside and see things from a relaxed point of view, which usually always works.

Sometime being a child is really difficult, their curious minds are put into the test, there is so much novelty in their daily lives, yet and even though they are eager to touch, feel, learn, and investigate, we -grown-ups- don’t allow them to, because we are concerned about their safety, which makes total sense, so meeting somewhere in the middle does sound like a safe solution: Making their environment as safe and secure as we can, for them to explore and expand their little brains, and for us to say less and less ‘NO’s, how does it sound? Instead of forbidding them to go out, to touch something, to jump or to simply be a kid with a curious mind, let’s walk after them, as they explore; let’s scan the room/park/house, for potential danger and stand by it making a human shield, so they don’t get hurt. Let’s explore with them as they go, touch, jump…etc, making sure they are safe. Obviously no mom in the world has all that free time to be after her child –or children-  every second of the day, but we try our best, right? Instead of saying NO 100 times a day, let’s limit that to 60? Think of how many tantrums you will avoid; think of how much time you’ll save.

At the end we all do things differently and we all love those little rascals more than anyone can imagine, and that’s all that matters!

Ouiam

What’s The Problem…..Dear?

First of all: I am not your dear!

Second: Here is my problem:

What makes a total stranger call me dear??? In a shop, in an office, or in a supermarket?

What if I was a conservative woman who would be totally offended by a man calling her “dear”. What if my husband was uptight and would be angry to see/ hear a man calling me dear!

 

 

What usually upsets me more than dealing with a disastrous customer service, is having the same customer service agent/staff, responsible for the disaster, call me “Dear”! It makes my blood boil! My problem is with word “dear” itself, like what does it even mean? Does it fall somewhere between “darling’ and “stranger”?  Somehow here in the middle east everyone thinks they are entitled to use it on everyone else on this planet! “Dear, we don’t have the small size anymore” “dear, can you send me an email?” “dear, what color do you want?”, and with every “dear” I hear I feel like pretending that I don’t speak a word of English, hoping that at least I won’t have to deal with the D word anymore! -I AM NOBODY’S DEAR!! I am a total stranger, you don’t even know my name! –

It is mostly used when someone is trying to implicitly apologize without having to say it out loud, or trying to ask you to do something, which, in both cases, can be done without feeling the need to impose and destroy boundaries.

Am I the only odd one here, or does anyone else on this island, hates to be a stranger’s dear?? Let me hear it please …

Ouiam

Hello Grief… Again..

This post was the hardest to write, not because it is about someone who is no longer with us, nor is it because this person is my father whom a simple post like this one will never be enough to explain what a wonderful father he was. It took me days to be able to sit and think, mainly because I didn’t want to. It hurts way too much to think of the father he was to me and my siblings. Writing about his death forces me to deal with his death, which I still don’t know how to face. It has been over a month since my world had peacefully crumbled, and I have been putting off grieving since then. I always talked, praised and wished for change to hit my door, little did I know, some changes are so devastating that they leave you profoundly paralyzed.

I had never planned to live far away from my family and miss them terribly. I had never planned to shrink my time spent with my family to a couple of months each year. I had never planned to get news of who gets engaged, sick, or even who dies through the phone. I never had the intention to call home somewhere other than the one home where I was born, raised and brought up. Now looking back at those bright and joyful days, I had never planned for anything. Not that I lacked ambition or that I was too wise to worry about the future, far from that, it just seemed that life had it all figured out for me. At each and every intersection, life had already a road mapped out for me, without even giving me time to think of potential options, and I liked it this way. I was ready to take things the way they presented themselves. I never complained, even now I never do.

I also never planned to get a message from my mother at 11am telling me that my dearest father had passed away so unexpectedly, and without any warnings. Yet I did, few weeks ago, and suddenly I was faced with my worst nightmare, one that had kept me awake at night, many nights. One that I spent a lot of time analyzing, and somehow preparing myself for, knowing that at some point in life, the nightmare will turn into reality. Even though death was always present in the tinniest corner of my brain, way behind, in a very small corner that I rarely checked, but I still thought of it, how I would react to it, what will life be like after it, and whether or not I will get on time to say goodbye to the one leaving this life so peacefully, leaving behind a heartbroken family and loved ones. Yet still when that message appeared on my phone, I froze. 2018 was supposed to be a good year!! How can this happen!!

How can one deal with this pain in the chest, (an actual physical pain, and not just emotional) each night, when it is all quiet, and there is just you and your broken heart to deal with this stabbing pain, that makes you weep like a baby, and stops you from breathing? How could you ignore the guilt that comes with each morning, when you open your eyes, and know damn too well that you have a day to live, while your dearest father doesn’t? How do you adjust to saying “May he rest in peace” every time you talk/think about him?

Until now, every time life had showed me its ugly face, I had accepted the challenge happily, however this time the emptiness inside of me mixed with that terrible pain in my chest, and the profound guilt of being alive while he isn’t, those ugly feelings make me go on an autopilot mode…. living like a shadow. My knees are week, my breath is short, and I am like a walking zombie trying to get as busy as I can so that another day can pass. This is how I am doing it: One day at a time. It is hard to imagine any future without the kindest heart who had always wrapped us all, with a soft blanket of warm love and devotion!

I can’t even think of writing something about what a great father mine was, or how lucky I was to have him by my side as a kid, or as a full-grown woman, simply because it hurts to remember those days right now, and to remember that I no longer have him to create more of these blessed and blissful memories. So for now I will wipe my tears, get back to my busyness, and to pretending that nothing had happened, that my father is still alive, and just a phone call away because so far that is the only thing that makes this pain go away…… until it hits me all over again!

Ouiam