What’s the Deal with Kids’ Birthday Parties?

Is there a manual regarding kids’ birthday parties? Is there a code of conduct written somewhere?

We were invited to a friend’s birthday party, a couple of weeks ago, and I think I have seen more than what my OCD can ever handle. 

The star of the show was a mother who was VAPING during the birthday! I don’t even know if she was aware of how wrong what she was doing is! 

Kids did NOT know how to interact with each other, with the presence of their mothers, because these women were more like monsters ready to attack if any other kid came closer to theirs! 

We had mothers ask if they could leave and come back to pick up their kids.

It was chaotic! Mainly because of the grownups! Kids probably had fun, but I left with a horrible headache and tons of unanswered questions! 

We have been involved with our homeschooling community for the last 3 years, and we have been very accustomed to our kind of gatherings, parties and meet-ups. They are quite simple, with a mixture of ages and genders (which you will almost never see, in normal gatherings if you exclude siblings of course!). What struck me the most, after being to a non-homeschooler’s party, is how ours were so organized even in the midst of chaos. Kids naturally get together, and do their own thing. The older kids guide the younger ones, they plan activities for them, they supervise them, and simply have fun all together. Which I absolutely missed during non-homeschoolers birthday! 

So all the above lead me to decide that writing this post is crucial. This is purely for the sake of my sanity for future birthday parties. Besides,  I would love to hear your perspective! 

  1. Siblings and birthdays? How do we do that? When you invite a child, are you bound to invite his whole family (if you re not friends with them of course)?
  2.   What’s the best time slot to plan a birthday during the day? Morning? Noon? Afternoon? I guess my ideal would be 3-5pm. Kids can play cut the cake, then eat dinner. Or 11am-1pm, play, lunch, then cake? Which brings me to another dilemma:
  3.  Food first? Or cake first? I know the most logical answer is food first then cake, but in a slot of 3-5pm for example, what meal is served in that duration? Lunch? A very early dinner? A snack?  And should there be food to start with? Or cake is enough? Man this is more complicated than I thought!
  4. How acceptable it is to “dump” your child at the birthday party and go have some “me-time”? Is the host supposed to keep an eye on your child, while taking care of another 100 things in her own kid’s birthday party?? Feed them, take them to the bathroom? And wipe their butts if needed? Keep in mind we are talking about younger kids here! PS: if you are invited to one of my parties, please refrain from doing the above, because if you want some alone time, feel free to hire a babysitter, and I will happily send you some recommendations. 
  5. Party favors: PLEEEEASE tell me I am not the only one who absolutely HATES these ugly, unnecessary, and absolutely useless junk! What are they for? Just to add up to the pile of crap I have already accumulated from MacDonald’s? PLEASE STOP GIVING THESE BAGS for the love of God!
  6. Can we talk about gifts now? Last year I had requested all the guests and friends, to kindly skip the gift (We didn’t need more junk), and just put a 5BD bill in an envelope, because Adam had something in mind that he wanted to purchase, and it was a bit expensive. So we thought if every family contributed with a 5BD bill we would definitely have enough, and he would feel very proud, going himself to the store and buying what he had been eyeing for months. We had 25 families who were able to make it to the birthday, and out of 25 we had 2 families who did as requested! Even Adam couldn’t understand how was that even possible! 

When invited to a birthday, I usually ask the parent what do their kids need or have in mind before buying any gift. I also try as much as possible to get them experiences other than more toys and more useless stuff. How about you? What do you do? What do you buy? 

One of the best birthday parties we have ever attended, was one where the mother- a dear friend- contacted us the same day, and asked if we were free to go for a picnic, completely omitting the birthday part. We said yes of course, who doesn’t love picnics! So us and a bunch of friends, met at Bahrain fort, she had brought a blanket, a homemade yummy cake and some plates and forks. Obviously we didn’t know that it was a birthday, so we had brought nothing with us. Adam found a beautiful rock and gave it to him and the little boy was over the moon with his “friendship rock” as he called it! How amazing is that! 

Birthdays are a fun way to celebrate our kids’ very special days, shouldn’t they be more fun, and child-centered? How about a picnic in the park where kids can play and have a blast? How about simple gifts, no giveaways, and a bit less food waste? I am certain even mothers will have so much fun, especially when they don’t have to drive on a Thursday evening, get stuck in traffic, spend a little fortune on a crappy toy, that will definitely end up in a basket collecting dust. They will also have so much fun when they don’t have to spend hours planning for those much dreaded 2 hours the birthday will last for, and pretty often cost no less than a 100 BD! 

Can we please simplify these poor kids’ life? Can we please focus on what really matters here?

Please share some of your thoughts, rules, or just things that bother you about birthday parties? 

Ouiam 

A New Chapter ..

If you have been following us for a while, you would know by now that we are a homeschooling family. I have been homeschooling my little Adam since he was 18 months. I had never planned to take the homeschooling path, it just happened, and it was exactly what our family needed.

 

For 4 years we have enjoyed all sorts of activities, and hands on learning. We played and explored so many topics that Adam would have never even heard of if he were in a formal schooling system. We traveled the world and learnt about different cultures, different languages, different countries, that Adam would have never known if he were in a classroom. He explored using all his 5 senses, he met wonderful fellow homeschoolers, who were like family to us. He used his imagination whenever he could, he played with sticks and started fires. He cooked, performed, and knitted. We read aloud many many many chapter books, we did math, science, music, geography, language…etc. We loved every minute of our day every single day.

 

People looked at us funny every time I would mention that Adam doesn’t go to school, and I couldn’t care less! We did what worked for our family, what I needed to do, what made total sense for us!

 

My son was only 18 months when we started, he thrived in front of my eyes, and I learnt so much from teaching him and from being his mentor. This summer at 5,5 years old, my sweet boy expressed his desire to join a “real school”. If you know my child you will sure know how mature he is, he thinks of everything before taking his decisions. We never win any argument with him, because he is so logical and so good at negotiating! We raised him with so much freedom and lots of love, he knows that we are always listening to his needs and his words no matter how silly they might be. So when he asked to go to school, we had a conversation with him, and he truly wanted to be a BIG boy and go to school and have fun. So ….. we obliged! And just like that our beautiful boy is going to SCHOOL! And he LOVES it! He is so excited every single morning, he made tons of friends already, and so far we are all happy with our decision.

 

Our homeschooling journey will NEVER END! At every opportunity we have, we will still have our hands busy, and our minds full. We will be exploring, touching, feeling, learning, and seeing the world through the eyes of true adventurers!

 

Chanelmama

 

 

 

 

Ramadan: Fasting, Eating, and Driving Like Crazy..

 

Everyone who lives in a Muslim country must know by now what is Ramadan. What it consists of, what it represents, and what it means to all the Muslims around the world.

The first concept foreigners -Non Muslim- struggle with, is the fact that we go all day with no food and no drinks, from sunrise to sunset. It is hard for them to fathom why would anyone starve themselves, and be thirsty when we live in a country with a million degrees outside. Once they understand -or try to understand- they struggle with point number two: If Ramadan is the month of fasting, then how come it is ALL about food? Here they seem to be stuck, because everyone around them seems to prove their point and no one is free to explain, because hey … Before Maghrib everyone is beat, after Maghrib people are eating like there is no tomorrow.

So after hearing these comments way so many times, I decided to try and give my two cents of the day, here:

First of all, Ramadan is not ONLY about fasting from food, it is fasting from ALL what your body might desire on normal days. Things that can bring you a little farther from where God wants you to be. Things that one’s self might desire more than it should or more than what it needs. So actually Ramadan is NOT about fasting, it is about controlling one’s self. It takes a lot of control to refuse a delicious, rich, and super moist chocolate cake, or a cold refreshing drink in the summer heat. Yet when you do it, you don’t do because you don’t feel like any of these delicious treats, No! You do it because God asked you to.

He also asked us to fast from talking about people behind their backs -He always asked us to do so, but in Ramadan if you don’t do it, your fasting goes down the drain- He asked us as well not to make love, when we are fasting, and to refrain from being lazy, argumentative, or stingy. He asked us to do 100% of all the things we need to do to be on the right path, to be closer to Him.

Some people seem to think that God has created Ramadan, because he wants us to feel what the poor people feel. It seems somehow logical, and a great way to instill compassion and empathy, until you think of those same poor people and how they ALSO fast in Ramadan, just like every other day too. Shouldn’t they be exempt from the whole fasting jazz? Not the case ha! No, fasting was set for everyone equally. Yes, in the process we do feel hungry and thirsty, during the day, and that might make us feel more for the people whose daily lives resembles our fasting days, but not by choice or conviction, just because that is their reality. Ramadan is not about fasting from food and drinks only, it is fasting from all the bad habits, that we might do throughout the year, because we are weak and we can’t resist. So in that one month of Ramadan, we do our best, we work hard, and we practice for the rest of the year, till Ramadan blesses us again with yet another holly appearance.

Now to it being ALL about food, before I start on this one, I would like you to imagine going to bed fairly late at night, knowing that when you wake up, you won’t be able to eat or drink. I want you to think that when you get dressed and get to ready to go to work, there will be no coffee, no eggs benedict, no orange juice and no cigarettes (if you smoke). Then during the day, you are exposed to all the sweet temptations, from an add on TV, to a post about a mouth-watering dish, or just a sweet craving that gets into you.  Then you check your watch and it’s barely 10am, and you still have about 8 more hours of fasting to go. Fasting duration differs from one country to another, in Bahrain for example, we fast about 15hours. 15 long hours, with no food or drinks, while your daily responsibilities don’t change a bit, instead, the lot grows bigger.

It is just natural to CRAVE food when you are fasting, and even more normal to cook what you crave, and enjoy it with family and friends at Iftar time. What is not OK, is to WASTE food. In Ramadan, sharing food is a very big tradition in Arabic countries. So most families cook big amounts of food, BUT they share them with friends, family, people in need and so on. So from now on, let’s normalize the talk about food before and after Iftar, let’s normalize the fact that supermarkets are full and shelves get empty so quickly, you never know if these people donate, share or eat their food themselves. Before judging, put yourself in the fasting people’s shoes, and you will see how normal craving, cooking, and eating food after 15 hours of fasting is.

Another kind of comments that kept creeping into my ears was the following: “Aah these people they fast and drive like crazy… they better not fast” or “if you get angry because you are fasting, then better not to fast” or even “if fasting means being lazy so what’s the point” and while I absolutely understand and I am STRONGLY against driving like crazy (an absolute No No), getting angry randomly, or even being lazy in Ramadan -or any other time as a matter of fact- but first of all we need to keep in mind that fasting is not for the fainthearted! Food is what gives you energy to focus, to work, to be in a good mood and to be “normal”, once you take food out of the equation, you become somewhat like a zombie. Of course still not an excuse, but it’s a situation that requires empathy from the people around, and specially the Non-Muslim ones, who can’t understand what a big of a deal fasting is UNLESS they try it. Instead however, leading by example is a fantastic way to show how it is done.  So instead of complaining about these “bloody crazy fasting Muslims” -doing their own thing, in their own country- I suggest to try fasting, and driving properly, try being in a good mood all day long, while also working hard. This not only will put them at shame, but also will inspire them to do better, and it will be done without the slightest form of complaints, judgment, or resentment, so a win-win situation ;).

So whether you are a Muslim, or not, join me in wishing the Muslim people to get all the strength they need to complete their fast, the way God has asked us to, while being kind, compassionate, and with a smile InshaAllah.

 

 

Ouiam

Remembering

 

Losing a parent is something only people who have lost a parent can understand. The guilt and the grief that come with it are unfathomable. The bad news is that no one can ever get over this loss, not in a year, two, or a lifetime. It stays, it comes at the strangest times- a memory, a hint of a smell in the air, bits of a song from an adjacent car. Sometimes you brush it off, and go on with the busy life -because life didn’t even have mercy on you, to give you time to break down, to collapse and cry till there are no more tears, and to just be sad and heartbroken- and some other times you process your feelings in disbelief, you try to make sense of what has happened, just to reach nowhere. One day they were here, you could physically touch them, hear them, see them, kiss and hug them. You could throw jokes in the air, and hear their laughter fill the place, you could see how they frown when they try to remember something, how they pause between sentences, to breathe, and to make you anticipate what they will say, how they ran their long fingers on their beard when they weren’t happy about something, and many many other  tiny details that make a person so very special. Another day those tiny details become faded memories, and the person becomes… nothing.. gone.. you will never see them again, never hear them again, never notice the smallest details about them, because they are dead.

 

As Ramadan blesses us with its serenity and spirituality, the memory of my beloved father becomes stronger and more persistent. He died over a year ago, so suddenly that I still sometime think that it was all a nightmare, a really bad and scary one! A year and 3 months, since he peacefully gave his soul to His Creator, leaving us, his family, shattered and heart-broken.

Special occasions, like birthdays, Eids, and Ramadans are not easy for us -us who have lost a parent. These beautiful celebrations of life, leave us torn between the desire to live and be happy, and between the sorrow felt to not share them with your loved ones who are long gone.

 

As a child, every Ramadan, I was the one in charge of preparing my Dad’s dates, and water, so he can take them with him to the mosque and break his fast there. As I hand them to him, he would say sweet little prayers for me, as I smile and say “Ameen”. Everyday I would wait for him at the door after the Maghrib prayer to eat Iftar, he would smile at me, hold my hand and guide me to the table. Everyday I would have tea with him before we go to Taraweeh, he was proud of me, and he didn’t hide it. Then, which feels like an eternity ago, I thought nothing of all these sweet little things, but now…. It’s a whole different story.

 

He used to make the best strawberry milkshakes EVER, so this Ramadan, to ease my pain, I decided to make some for myself…well the strawberry milkshake I made didn’t taste the same, so I left it untouched, afraid it might erase the memories I have of my dad’s special ones. You see, my dad was the sweetest man on earth, he loved unconditionally, and did everything he did with so so much love, and it breaks my heart to remember that I will never feel, or touch this great love again. Only through sweet yet painful memories that my father will be with me.. and it’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp. So to those who have lost a parent, today I say a prayer for you –and for me- May You Always have the strength to dance through life, with that agonizing, and permanent limp.

 

Ouiam

 

How to Have a Low-Waste Kitchen, in Bahrain.

 

 

 

As women, we all agree that we spend a long time in our kitchens, whether being busy washing the never-ending dishes, cooking, or cleaning. So it is safe to say that it is OUR territory, and we are entitled to do with it whatever we want, so what if we make it a “low-waste “space? How you say? Hang on, and I will share with you what worked for us.

 

I first feel the need to share that my husband does not share the same views on living a “zero-waste” lifestyle. He obviously knows and agrees about how our planet is suffering, and how in order to save it for the sake of our children and their children, we need to do something; he, however, thinks it is too difficult to do it. Some of you might gasp, and some might raise an eyebrow, but this is the truth, and I like to keep it real. Men don’t like complicated stuff, and I fully understand and respect that. I have never EVER forced my husband to live a certain way, and I will not start now. I however, like to lead by example, without judging or nagging. I like him to watch and see for himself, then make his own decision. Because this is the only way he will seriously commit, and do better, because he wants to, and because he is convinced.  This is how we did it when I started cooking healthy nutritious food, and when we stopped using western medications, and moved to a more natural and holistic approach, and when we started homeschooling our son too. He observes, sees the benefits, and then he makes his own choices based on the great results he had touched, felt and seen.

So far we have moved a long way from when we first started, and he is much more understanding and willing to make the effort for a more sustainable lifestyle, because he UNDERSTANDS and he is CONVINCED, but also because I try to make it easier on him and on all of us, by keeping things handy and easy to use, just like the single-use items are.

We also have Susan (who has been my helper for the last 5 years, and became part of our family). I have taken her with me in this journey, into a more sustainable lifestyle, and have taught her and trained her to do things with less waste, but on her own pace too.  Because we ALL live in our home, you might still see single use items here or there (that belong to either my husband or Susan), and that’s Ok, because they need to take their own time and I will only show them how to do it by doing it myself.  My son and I on the other hand have Completely ditched the plastic and the single use items and we both are so proud, and hoping it will come sooner for the rest of our family.

 

In this post I will talk about the changes I made inside my kitchen, and how we are ALMOST waste-free (as much as we can).

 

Using glass and ditching the plastic, was the first action we took. Last year a friend of mine gave us 2 boxes full of glass bottles, jars and containers, of all colors and shapes (Thank you Shabnam!). I use them for EVERYTHING! I store my fruits and veggies there, my leftovers, my herbs (just make sure to trim the ends a bit, and fill the jar with some water, it even expands their lifespan!) I use them for the freezer too, just don’t fill them up completely. I also line them up neatly in the cupboard so that they are easily found by my husband 😉

Each one of us (including my husband and my helper) has their own metal water bottle, instead of plastic ones. We just fill them up wherever we are.

We use beeswax wraps to cover food, and we LOVE it (even my husband does haha!). You can use them for about a year, just give them a little rinse with cold water when done, and it is absolutely eco-friendly and free of chemicals that might harm your body (like plastic).

 

We ditched both clear and aluminum foils as well as parchment paper, instead we use glass Pyrex dishes, with covers, for the oven (which I always had but for some reason it is easier to cover with Aluminum foil ugh!). We also use silicone mats, and  stainless steel molds and it is much easier than you might think.

 

I was never a coffee drinker, however, in the last year, I have grown to LOVE the taste and the smell of coffee, So I BOUGHT a stainless steel French press. I only bought it because I knew I really needed it, instead of using the many many capsules in the Nespresso machine, also because I drink coffee daily, so by using the French press I am avoiding so much waste, and lastly because it was on sale. The coffee grounds from the French press can be used as scrubs, and for the plants too. They are compostable, biodegradable, and waste-free, which is ideal and much better than the Nespresso machine.

We use ceramic, metal, glass and wooden plates and glasses, and nothing plastic at ALL.

I made my own kitchen paper, out of towels that I no longer used, I color-coded them: different colors for handling the food, drying dishes and hands, for the counters, for the stove, and for the floor. They are all placed on my counter, in a basket, and we all know how to use them. Again, I am not looking for PERFECT, so if anyone uses a paper towel instead, I will not frown and get angry, absolutely not! We are all doing our best here.

 

We had a huge stash of reusable napkins but they were all nicely kept in one of the cupboards, while we enjoyed using the paper napkins and throwing everything in the trash once done. We now have all the reusable napkins in the kitchen, near the table and we use them ONLY! We wash them afterwards, and put them back near the table, ready to be used again!

We have long stopped using the microwave (my husband still does though, and that’s OK). I always keep an iron skillet on the stove ready to heat up whatever I need. Yes, it takes longer, but you know it is healthier and much better for your body. We also pay attention to our consumption of electricity and water. I don’t mind the heat, I hardly EVER switch on the AC, even when it is a million degrees outside, but when we do switch it on, we are mindful. I never switch it on if no one is there, I make sure to switch it back off when we are done. We do the same for the lights, the TV, and all the other appliances.

I freeze all the fruits that I think might get spoiled soon, I make soup from the extra vegetables I have, and freeze the soup too. we always eat leftovers, if we are bored of it, we just reuse them in a different recipe.

I buy the ugly fruits and vegetables, because I know no one will, and they will end up thrown in the trash.

I make my own jam, almond butter, tomato sauce, ketchup, and whatever else i can make (thanks to Pinterest!) because it is healthier, and waste-free.

I use the citrus peels for my kitchen cleaner, which I make out of vinegar and baking soda. The citrus peels give it a nice smell.

My husband planted mint, basil, and oregano so we can use fresh herbs for cooking, straight from our little garden. I also use the flowers we have for my table, instead of buying new ones (I love having flowers in my home)

The other area that you could tackle easily is the supermarket. We ALWAYS keep shopping bags in the car (I only have 3, and they are more than enough), as well as produce bags (to use for fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts), we also have glass Jars for the olives, cheese, and even meat and fish.  Just make sure you weigh the jar/container first.  This way I have Zero-waste grocery shopping trips. I also prefer buying in bulk (the nuts, the lentils, the chia and whatever is available in bulk.) no packaging and way cheaper. Whatever is not available in bulk, I prefer to get it packaged in glass, and in a big size, because it is just  better than plastic.

I ONLY buy what I really need, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables, because they get spoiled quickly. Meal prepping helps tremendously, because you know beforehand what you will be needing/ cooking, therefore you buy the produce accordingly.

 

My husband gets most of our fruits and vegetables from a local shop (farm). He asks for the produce to be put in a box with no plastic. After they weigh them they just put them straight in the cardboard box- plastic free!

 

I keep in my handbag a towel, for when we use the bathroom outside (so we don’t use the paper towels to dry our hands). We also use toilet paper made from natural and sustainable bamboo, that I buy from Al Osra, and keep one roll in my car.  I have my takeaway Tupperware in my car too. I have two of them, which I can take anywhere and ALL restaurants put my food there happily. I also have in the car napkins, a set of wooden cutleries, 2 bamboo straws (one for me and one for my son), and a takeaway cup for my coffee, or Adam’s occasional milkshake. I always make sure to wash them and put them back in the car as soon as I get home, this way I don’t forget.

 

These are just very small steps that really don’t take a lot of time or effort, but make a huge difference. Being mindful and conscious is the biggest step, that eases the road to even bigger ones. My kitchen is NOT perfect, but it is absolutely better than before. Minimal, and with much less waste. Perfect is not what we want, we need more people doing SOMETHING. I am only responsible for myself and my son, I never judge or give lectures. Everyone can do what they can, on their own terms, and only if I am asked, I will do my best explaining, showing and leading by example.

 

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Ouiam

In Love With The Aloha State

One of the perks of homeschooling is that you own your time. You can plan whatever you want, whenever you want, and the way you want it. Our calendar is pretty much what we make of it. Our travel schedule is planned on a whim, and I must say I am so very grateful for this. As all homeschoolers know, traveling is the greatest way for kids to learn, explore, and know more about the big world that is waiting for them when they grow up. Traveling for kids is an invitation to fully immerse themselves in different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. They learn more about geography, money, geology, history and so much more.

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With the beginning of spring, Adam and I, packed our bags and we got ready to set sail for Hawaii. We have been putting off this trip for about two years, due to the extremely long flights: One to NYC, about 14 hours long, and another one to Honolulu with another 11hours of flying, which is not really a wise decision if you have kids.  With a push from our dear friends who live in Hawaii, we finally decided to dive in and hope for the best.

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My friend Lisa, and her boy William are some of our very best friends, from over 4 years ago, when they also lived here in Bahrain. We had the best adventures and the most awesome friendship. During the years they spent in Bahrain, we explored all the hidden gems our island had to offer, we traveled together to Seychelles, and had one of our best trips, we stayed in touch even though we were across the globe from each other. So visiting them in Hawaii was the next step.

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Even though we split the journey and stayed in NYC for a couple of weeks in between, to visit the family, it was still a really long trip. So when we finally sat foot in Honolulu, we were beyond relieved!

Hawaii… Where should I start from? The Aloha state is more than what I had ever expected! From the minute we landed and breathed the clean pure air, my eyes grew wider, to suck in the beauty of the place, and my lungs doubled in size to soak up the clean and fresh air around me.

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We spent about 4 weeks in Hawaii, every day we did something new and exciting (sometimes 2 and 3 wonderful things), yet my friend Lisa says there was so much more to do, see, and enjoy in the Islands of love.

Every morning we would wake up to the birds chirping, the sound of the water trickling, the tree leaves swaying, and to the brightest colors all around us. Every day we would wake up, my son and I, with a smile ready to fall in love even deeper with the place!

We were very lucky to have -hands down- the BEST guide EVER! My friend Lisa, made sure to take us to every wonderful corner she thought we might be interested in. She always made sure to line up many choices for every single day, for us to choose from. She also took advantage of each trip we took, to explore all the nearby gems, and came up with a whole itinerary, each and every time, this way we miss nothing, so yeah my friend is better than yours haha!

Our first day, we started with an easy trip to the library, since we were still tired from the flight, and also because it was the weekend.

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There was a Dr.Seuss hip hop musical show, with Mr.Kneel (an award winning Hip Hop musician and educator, and a fabulous entertainer). He had the attention of a room full of kids, of different ages, for 2 whole hours!  The show was definitely a hit! Adam got to go up with him, and do a little duo together. The library and the show were obviously FREE (Yup something we really miss in Bahrain!). The library also holds a tiny-tots meet-up every Tuesday and Friday, with fantastic activities for the kids… and yes for FREE too! One of the things I adored about Hawaii, is how much they love and appreciate kids. There are tons of activities for kids, planned by the community centers, and the volunteers. Children enjoy a wide range of events specially tailored for them, and parents don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for that, I wish I could say the same about Bahrain.

After making sure we were well rested, we meant business! In the course of the next weeks we kept very very busy.

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The weather was so lovely, sunny with a sweet breeze, and wherever you turn your head you would either see the sea, the mountains, or the green grass. The kids were so easily entertained by just letting them run around, play with rocks and grass, climbing trees…etc. It was a pure joy!

We kicked the week off with a trip to the Tropical Farms of macadamia nut. They show you how to crack open a Macadamia nut, which the kids enjoyed doing for a very long time- We got to taste (and buy) all the wonderful flavored macadamia nuts made in the farm- from the roasted and salted, to the onion and dill, and the cinnamon glazed ones! All so yummy! –  I also had the pleasure to taste a very tasty macadamia nut flavored coffee (Thank you Lisa for the recommendation). To end the visit, we took a bus tour, where a wonderful gentleman explained to us how life was before in Hawaii, how they made fire, milk out of coconuts, and how they sang and danced. He also showed us around the farm and explained how they did all the hard work to get such awesome macadamia nuts!

Next was the Green World Coffee Farm! You can see the pattern here haha, I love farms!  The coffee farm wasn’t as big as the Macadamia one, but full of treasures! I loved their coffee and the kids loved playing with the chickens and roosters, while running around the farm.

We couldn’t visit Hawaii and not go to the Dole Pineapple plantation! It is a huge farm and it took us the whole day to finish it! So much to do and see. All the pineapples around and all the fun activities for the kids. We rode a train, that took us all around the farm explaining how the pineapples were planted, and the kids loved everything about it!

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The thing about Hawaii is that even if you just go around the neighborhood, you would still have a fabulous time. The scenery, the clean and fresh air, the chilled but warm and welcoming people, all make you feel like you are in paradise, stress free and so very relaxed.

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We enjoyed all the hikes we took and the kids did so well. I was warned against mosquitos, but luckily we made it with only a couple of bites ;). We also managed to get a fabulous tan!

The beaches were so gorgeous and peaceful. The water so blue and warm. Truly heaven on earth! Our favorite was “Baby Makapuu” beach, very calm with protected tide pools, with sandy bottoms that the kids loved to splash in. it was more like a pool than a beach.

 

I obviously can not finish all what I have to say about Hawaii in ONE blog post. So I will talk more about the other places we visited and loved as well as the restaurants/ coffee shops we enjoyed the most! Stay Tuned..!

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My son and I fell head over bare feet in love with every aspect of this magical place. We were truly blessed with the kindness of our friends, and all their efforts to make us enjoy our trip and create wonderful memories together that we will cherish forever. So Thankful and blessed!

 

ALOHA!!

 

Ouiam

 

 

A Zero-Waste Life In Bahrain

 

First of all, let me tell you that the term: “Zero Waste”, is a major misconception. We can never reach the “Zero Waste” lifestyle, simply because we are not fully equipped to cater to this radical change. In Bahrain, we struggle to find the minimum infrastructure to be able to produce less waste, from proper recycling methods, to environmental awareness, to the availability of sustainable, eco-friendly stores and brands. It is almost impossible to enjoy a waste free life in Bahrain. With that being said, it doesn’t mean we should just sit, cross our arms and watch our planet die, absolutely not! We still can do so much. We can live a “Low waste” lifestyle, and every single step we make towards that direction, is a big and rewarding one.

If you try to make a big life change happen immediately, chances are it won’t stick, let alone a huge, challenging one that requires a lot of hard work, like living a life where we produce less and less waste. The key is to start, anywhere, and with anything, but to just START. Starting with simple small steps, and being aware of the crazy amounts of waste we produce each and every day.

What I found to be very helpful is to start with one part of the house, and make the changes needed for it to be minimal, and with less trash, then move to anther area, and so on, until you are done. I, for example, started with my bathroom. After making sure to get rid of all the nasty chemicals, and replace them with natural substances, my goal was to keep track of my waste, maximize the use of eco-friendly products, and minimize the single-use items. I must say this wasn’t easy, as there is nothing easier than throwing what’s dirty instead of washing and drying and folding …etc.

The hardest part was to get rid of the shampoo, it took months, to finally let go of it, and use The “Ghassoul” –a Moroccan type of mud, used by grandmothers to wash their hair, and their skin. Let’s be honest, it is much easier to wash your hair whenever you feel like it (the less you wash it, the better), apply few drops of shampoo, wash, rinse and voila, as opposed to first wetting the mud, mixing it, applying it thoroughly, no foam or what so ever, just tiny pieces of mud all over your hair, which will take you at least a whole 5 minutes to rinse. However, the results are absolutely worth it.

I abandoned the shower gel, for the Moroccan natural soap, made out of extra virgin olive oil, which has no fragrance at all, no peach, no cherries, no lavender nothing haha, but definitely so much better for your skin.

For the deodorant, I made my own very easy mix, some arrowroot flour, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils of your choice for a nice fragrance, and voila! Easy, cheap, healthy and chemicals-free.

I also posted here, about my DIY loose powder, and the recipe. Few of my friends were very skeptical, because it contains turmeric, and they thought it might stain their clothes, and their faces in case it rains (not sure how this will happen but …!!). I had been using it for over 6 months now and I LOVE it. I would love to reassure everyone who asked: In case of an abundant rain storm, your face will remain unstained ;). When you use the powder you will notice that only tiny particles of the ingredients make it to your brush, and they are very well mixed together, therefore it will act just like a normal powder, except this one is clean, safe and it smells fantastic!

After a long debate with myself, I finally decided to give the clothes pads a try. As most of you, washing and drying isn’t my favorite thing to do, however, I must say it was the best decision EVER! Cleaner, more organic, and definitely eco-friendly, and zero waste!

Replacing the wipes to remove my makeup, was NOT an easy task. What usually takes a minute, now takes a little more, BUT, I now know that there are NO chemicals on my face, instead I use Argan oil- the best of the best, from Morocco- with little towelettes made from a bigger towel I had. My skin is smooth and clean and my bin is empty 😉

Tooth paste and tooth brush: Switching to bamboo for myself and my family was the best choice. Again, I did NOT buy extra toothbrushes while I was still using my plastic ones, no! I ONLY bought them when we were done with the old ones. Being Low waste (and aiming for a zero waste lifestyle) is all about using what you have and avoiding unnecessary purchases). For the tooth paste, I switched to tablets, which I bought when I was in the USA last month.

When I run out, I am planning to make my own using:

½ cup coconut oil

2 tbsp baking soda

Peppermint Essential oil

 

This bathroom detoxification didn’t happen overnight, it happened in the course of weeks, if not months. But it was definitely worth it. While it is not a huge deal, and I will never be able to cram my waste for 3 years in a small glass jar, it is still a step forward, and this is how I started cleaning, minimalizing my home and making it eco-friendly and low waste. Starting with the bathroom gave me the chance to focus on one thing at a time, doing a proper research on eco-friendly brands, alternatives, and DIYs that I previously thought less of, of thought it was the hardest thing to make/do.

My next stop was the kitchen! You will always have to remember that the aim is to make use of the things you already own, and to buy less and less products. In my next post I will explain how I handled the process of making my kitchen a low waste space. Stay tuned!!

 

Ouiam