“We Will Be There”

 

 

“We will be there!” I have never thought deeply about these 4 words, ever before! Until today! Sitting here, watching my son at his swimming class, lost in the background noise: Instructors shouting commends, kids cheering, and of course the echo of an indoor pool. Too lazy to pick up my kindle and read, I start thinking…. You know that thing all moms do, just let their brain wonder, while sitting quietly, enjoying not being pulled, touched, yelled at, or even talked to, without really thinking of anything specific… just thinking… and that’s when it hit me! I have an “I will be there group!”!

You see, I have been planning my son’s FIFTH Birthday party- It is a huge deal for my son -and us, his parents- and I have no idea how did we even get here, so fast! Part of the planning is inviting the chosen ones, who would be spending a couple of hours with Adam, having fun – hopefully-, playing, laughing, and eating cake (which is what birthdays are all about!). This year Adam had a big list of the friends he wanted to invite, and so I obliged. I wrote a message, copied it, pasted it, 25 times, for each friend’s mom, pressed sent… and … waited! I sent the messages and I started staring at my phone. At the huge list of people that I have now, right in front of my eyes, and……. I waited. I saw few “typing” (If you use WhatsApp you will know what I mean, if you don’t then what planet do you live in?).

8 out of 25 people, started writing their reply, just few seconds after I had sent the message, and few seconds later I had a reply : “ WE WILL BE THERE!”

These people didn’t wait to check their schedule, they didn’t wait to check with their hubbies, they didn’t wait to confirm with their families… they just read my invite and said: “We will be there”!

I know this must sound silly and even stupid, but I had tears in my eyes, and as I thought about it more and more, I realized that when these exact 8 special people have texted me to invite us for their kids’ special day, I had replied in few seconds saying those exact same words: “We will be there”!

Even though we don’t see some of those 8 precious people very often, but we all make this tight circle called: “ We will be there”, we know that no matter what “We will be there”. Life can get busy and hectic and we can easily get lost in all the things we all have to do, but knowing that I have a group that will always be there, without taking time to even blink or think makes my heart swell with joy!

I am not saying that the rest of those 25 people aren’t as important. No far from that, they are still showing up, and coming to spend their precious time with me and my family, on my son’s special day. They are showing us love and appreciation and we are so grateful for that.  I get how busy life can be with little ones. Between football practice, swimming classes, art classes, and all kind of activities, mothers (and I am one of them) can’t plan a thing without getting back to their calendars, and checking how and when they are available. I get it, this is life with kids, we can’t do much about it. We, parents, just understand, we know how it is!

This wasn’t my first time inviting people to one of Adam’s birthdays (he had FOUR of them already!), but I guess this is the the time that the meaning of “we will be there” really resonated with me! Such a strong and powerful sentence, that you should consider yourself very lucky if you have ever heard it –or read it!

 

 

Ouiam

 

Here is Why You Should Stop Assuming That Every Homeschooler is An Anti-social!

 

As I try o smile and nod and make small talk and hope after every answer that I have finally convinced the hairdresser that I really am not interested in sharing the story of my life, I get hit hardly by yet another question! I tell you some people do more than justice to the art of resilience and persistence! So then of course the most common question follows: Do you have kids? And as I answer giving all the details, hoping that this will be the end of it, another question hits me in the face like the cold air: “Is your son sick? Is that why you homeschool?” I had no idea how to answer that, I couldn’t understand how someone in the 21stcentury could be so blatant, insensitive, and just plain nosy! So I answer with the only sentence that could make its way out of my mouth: “No, we are just weird”. I then proceed to putting my earphones pretending to be listening to something on my phone as a last effort to make the person handling my hair STOP TALKING!

 

As a homeschooler, we get tons of questions all the time, and I usually welcome them and make sure I answer them thoroughly and with all the details/info that I can give, because I believe that people are genuinely asking, because the whole concept is so new, specially here in the middle east, and because we are not used to see other people say NO to the system. We are used to do as we are told, and to follow rules and regulations, without even questioning them. One of the main questions that we get is:

 

“Aren’t you afraid that he won’t be social enough?”

 

If you are close enough and you do know my little sunshine, then you sure know that he is a walking chatterbox, who makes friends as he breathes. His social life is much better than mine and his dad’s, both combined. He loves interacting with everyone from the cashier at the supermarket, to the little kid sitting alone in playground, to the parents of his own friends.

If you are not that close and you don’t know my son, here are some facts for you:

 

Children are already competent social beings; they have the extreme ability to adapt and coexist, something that most adults lack as they grow older.

 

Children are not exactly some sort of adults-in-training, they are however somewhere between being and becoming. Being a child who is actively constructing their childhood, and becoming an adult as an end result.

 

If we can see children as the competent and complex human beings that they really are, we can begin to see their behavior beyond the polarity of positive and negative. We can begin to see the nuances of who they are, what kind of personality they have? Character? … etc.

 

Everyone is born with a predisposition toward a personality type. Extroverts are energized by interacting with others and the world around them, while introverts are drained by too much interaction, especially with a big group, and prefer to be with people they know well. Although all kids display traits of both types, they innately prefer one style over the other-This book is great if you want to know more about the extroverted and introverted types: Quiet by Susan Cain– so whether they go to school or not, they are who they are.

 

The other thing that I need to clarify here is that homeschoolers DO GET OUT OF THEIR HOMES. We do not hibernate as we homeschool. There are tons of activities that homeschoolers around the world plan, choose, and arrange for their children, depending on WHO their child is, what do they like and dislike and not just depending on a super old system called “school”.

 

There are homeschooling communities all around the world; and we have a great one here in Bahrain. We plan classes together, take turns in hosting and preparing lessons, we plan field trips, sports days, book clubs and many many different activities. The other advantage that we have is that kids mingle with all age groups, and instead of learning how to communicate with only their peers, they actually get the exposure they need to prepare them for the real world.

So please the next time you want to ask “How about his social life”, reconsider your question, and instead ask about what kind of activities, curriculum, adventures we do/have, to really know more about the homeschooling life.

 

On behalf of the homeschoolers of the world, I send you wild and free thoughts, with much love!

 

 

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

Say Cheese…!!!

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After becoming a mother to my sweet Adam, documenting memories has been a very important task, this is why I started this blog in the first place. Time was/ is slipping through my fingers while I watch my baby boy becoming this big kid, and knowing that yesterday will never come back is a very sad feeling that makes it very hard to enjoy the “now”. So that’s why I write! I created this little window to take me back on time every time I needed to. With the blog came the need to take plenty of pictures, to make the posts complete. I take an immense pleasure taking plenty of pictures everyday, because I know how happy it makes me to scroll through my phone and find these forgotten and long gone but very much cherished moments. I am no professional photographer though, but I try my best ;), and you can imagine my excitement every time I plan a professional photo-shoot, with photographers who capture magical moments and transform them into forever lasting memories. However, personally, I find it very hard to be myself in front of a camera, in front of a stranger who wants me to look at the camera, smile, pose and I don’t know what else!!! I feel so awkward, and I suddenly don’t know what to do with my arms, hands and …. Myself in general. I also find it very hard to “act natural” how can I act natural??? Some photographers though have this special gift of being almost invisible, which makes you almost forget their presence. One of these special gifted photographer is Makenzie! I worked with Makenzie once and I watched closely how people were slowly feeling relaxed and themselves under her gaze. I also saw how warm and sweet she was which makes you fee like you’ve known her for a very long time. So when I had a chance to be one of her “models” I couldn’t wait to see the results!

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We invited Makenzie over to take some pictures of me and my son, and we were so excited. She instantly connected with my son, who wanted her to take a picture of “Zang” his favorite toy, to which Makenzie happily obliged, and Adam couldn’t be happier!  She told us to go on with our day, and just do what we usually do, which is a little weird, because we usually have no audience in normal days, but we still pretended that we were alone. Few minutes later, Adam and I were all over the place, reading books and doing our morning school work, we couldn’t even hear Makenzie’s footsteps! She was gracefully moving doing her own thing, without asking us to pose, smile, move shoulders or chins! And guess what: It was AMAZING!! When she finally said “I think I’ve got plenty of pictures”, we were pleasantly surprised. Few days later I received a folder full of beauty, magic, and love! The pictures were so amazing! She managed to capture more than just a mother and her son taking few pictures together, she captured feelings too. The pictures were so vivid and alive in a very beautiful way. She has this unique style in taking the most mundane pose and turning it into an unforgettable moment! I will happily share some of these treasures with you , in this post, and you can see for yourself.

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I also had the chance to ask Makenzie few questions, to know a little more about her, and what she does. Here is what we talked about:

 

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First please tell us a little bit about yourself? Who you are, where are you from?

 

I am a wife and mom to two amazing girls, 4.5 and 2.5 years. We moved from Washington DC to Bahrain last July, so we’ve been here for almost a year and a half.  We are really enjoying living here and hope to stay for another few years!  Before becoming a photographer, I was a teacher for 4 years, and then worked for a textbook publisher as a sales manager for nine years.

 

How did your relationship with the camera start?

 

When my oldest daughter was born 4.5 years ago, like most moms, I wanted plenty of pictures of her so I bought my first DSLR camera.  I quickly became interested in going beyond just the basics of what my camera could do and read all I could online about different lenses, settings, and so on.  Lots of practice, reading online tutorials, and watching YouTube videos about editing got me to here.

 

How long have you been taking professional pictures for?

 

I did my first paid shoot in October 2016.  Before that I had taken photos for friends’ families a few times, but never as a paid job.  With the encouragement of friends, I decided to start the business about a year ago and started regularly taking clients.

 

Do you have a favorite style, field, things to take pictures of?

 

My style is lifestyle and a bit of documentary.  I like to do minimal posing, and gravitate towards very natural images.  I love working with families.  We are all so busy with work, school, and other activities: how often as families are we all in the same place to just relax and hangout with no distractions? I feel so honored that I get to share that together time with my clients’ families and to document it.  I love sessions that are joy-filled with lots of laughter.  I want clients to look back and not just say “the photos are nice” but also think “that session was a lot of fun!”

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I love to take pictures, yet I hate to pose, would you like to give me and the other mamas tips on how to look great on camera?

 

Relax, relax, relax.  Relax and be yourself.  Connect with your child, and that emotion will be the first thing you notice in the photo and not what you’re wearing or if your hair was perfect.

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And how to get more natural pictures?

 

See the above answer 🙂 Focus on connection, having fun, laughing together.  Focus on the people around you and forget about the camera.

 

Many moms love photography; what advice would you give them in case they want to pursue a carrier in this domain?

 

Take pictures every day!  The more you practice, the better you will get.  The more you’ll figure out what you like and don’t like.  You’ll start to notice which settings on your camera give you the results you are looking for.  There are lots of great free resources online.  Use those to your advantage, but nothing can replace 1:1 instruction and mentorship.  I love working 1:1 with moms to help them learn how to take better photos day to day of their children with whatever camera they have available. Besides lots of practice, also follow photographers whose work you love and notice similarities in the images you connect with.  It will improve your eye for what makes a great image.

 

How do you see yourself and your photography in few years from now?

 

I would love to start doing more documentary sessions.  Right now most sessions I do are at locations around Bahrain.  I’d really love to add in some at-home documentary sessions.  Much like the time I spent at your house, a documentary session means I come to a client’s home and take photos of the family spending time together doing a favorite activity together, whether it’s snuggling on the couch together with stack of books or making breakfast together on a weekend morning.

 

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How do you balance your work, and duties as a mama of two?

 

This is a great question and something I’ve been working on the last month.  In this first year in business I was saying yes to doing sessions at all days and times.  I was in business building mode and didn’t want to turn down any opportunity.  Over the last couple months though, I started to resent weekends when I was gone all day long or weekdays where I’d miss dinner rushing back from a sunset session.  So a few weeks ago I came up with a list of specific “yes” days and times when I will take sessions, and “no” days and times when I won’t take sessions.  I do a lot of my editing and computer work in the mornings while my oldest is at school, and in the evenings after my girls go to bed.

 

Do you do maternity and birth photos?

 

Yes!  I love, love, love all things baby and motherhood.  I would like to be doing even more maternity sessions.  I have not shot a birth yet but I really would like to.  I recently put together an investment guide for birth photography so that I will be ready when more inquiries come to me.

 

Any advice on which camera to buy, to take normal (not professional) pictures?

 

Oh this is a tough one!  There are so many good entry level cameras on the market.  I started on a Nikon D3200 and I still think that is an excellent series to start with.  (I now shoot on a Nikon D750 for all client sessions.)  Canon makes a comparable entry-level series which is well regarded.  If you travel a lot, check out Fuji mirrorless cameras which are lighter and more compact and produce fantastic images.  I travel with a Fuji XT10.

 

What are your favorite spots to take pictures at, in Bahrain?

 

Bahrain Fort is probably the most popular location with clients.  I’ve been loving the Sheikh Isa House in Muharraq lately.  Al Jasra Handicrafts Center – when the shops are closed – is a green-filled hidden gem (although the watchman there last time didn’t look pleased I was taking photos ;)).  The Royal Camel Farm is super fun.  The grounds of the National Museum are filled with beautiful and interesting architecture.  Tree of Life is still on my wish list, haven’t done a session there yet.  The Bahrain skyline over the water at Prince Khalifa Park, off Hidd Bridge, is amazing at sunset.  I could go on and on!  I’ve really enjoyed exploring all over Bahrain so far.

 

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I Hope you enjoyed this super cool interview with Makenzie, and the super cool pictures too! And guess what……That’s not it….. We have a great giveaway for you guys!! Check out my Instagram account and follow the steps, to win a fantastic mini-session with the very talented Makenzie!!!! YAAAAAAAY!!!

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Ouiam

ZZZ in Style ..!!

 

Hello Friends!! How is your Saturday looking like?

Today I have something absolutely exciting for you all! Something that will make your eyes sparkle, and will take you few years back, wishing you could relive your childhood again!

Sleepee Teepee is a new concept that two fabulous women came up with few months ago, and it is the talk of town right now! It always makes me so proud to see women, and especially moms navigating through their own journeys, not the motherhood one, but one where they blossom and thrive as women.

The whole concept consists of having gorgeous looking teepees, with themes that you can choose yourself, delivered to your home, fixed and ready to take the sleep over shenanigans to a whole new level.

I met with one of the co-founders: Elizabeth Dadd, and had a little chitchat with her! Here is some of what we talked about:

How did you get the idea for sleepee teepee ?

Sleepee teepee was something I was seeing on Pinterest throughout the summer, while in Australia. With girls coming up to the the sleepover stage in life, I thought it would be great to offer them something they will enjoy with their friends in Bahrain.

 

How did you move from the thinking phase to the creating one? 

After speaking to some friends about the idea I found that there was a lot of support. I decided to join forces with a good friend of mine “Nikki”. We designed a prototype and our children lit up when they saw it! Seeing their excitement made us realize we needed to have other children experience this too. We spoke a lot about our concept and how we could make this product and service something Bahrain would embrace. Our teepees have been designed to be sturdy, child safe and of the highest quality.

 

When did you launch your business? 

We had our first booking in the beginning of October this year. The business is still very young.

 

How do you balance being a full time mama and being a working mama now? 

The idea that I’m working on something of our own really excited me. With young girls I am happy that they finally get to see mom work and do something she loves. Our busy periods are over the weekends so Nikki and I try to do as much as we can while our children are at school so they don’t have too much time away from us on the weekends. The work family balance has been nice as we have a lot of support from friends and partners.

 

What are some of the difficulties that faced you when you started? 

Creatively we wanted to create a teepee that was child safe and sturdy, design wise we changed a lot of things to make the teepee transportable, functional, beautiful and easy to store. We found the themes we wanted were hard to come by locally and started bringing in bedding from outside Bahrain.

 

How do you see your business in 5 years from now?

Nikki and I are a great team, and I think Bahrain has embraced Sleepee Teepee. We hope to be able to create a product that adapts to the times. We would love to expand the business into more than just hiring and selling teepee services but to include the options of party planning and party bags. We also would like to refine the business to include more sustainable and organic options and use only locally sourced items, carpenters, tailors and staffing.

 

Any advice you can give mamas/women, who have great ideas yet haven’t worked on making them their realities like you did, yet?

I’d say that its much better to try something now than regret not starting in the future. I would also encourage everyone to collect support and advice from their friends and work in a field they are excited and passionate about. There is a saying: “Do not deliver a product deliver an experience” and I think that rings true to all businesses, doing anything that makes anyone’s life better or happier is worth the trouble. “

 

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Elizabeth is a mama of two gorgeous little girls, she is so passionate about what she does, and the minute she starts talking about her new baby (Sleepee Teepee) a big smile lights up her face, and her eyes shine with delight.

 

More exciting news here ladies: Sleepee Teepee offers 10% discount to all Amwaj mamas!!!!

You can find sleepee teepee here:

Facebook: Sleepee teepee Bahrain

Instagram:@sleepeeteepeebh

 

Ouiam x

 

From My Heart to Yours!

 

I met you almost 8 years ago, in an airport, where we both took the same flight, to the same destination, where you were going to meet my family. You had a big smile on your face, one that only you have: big, bright, and beautiful. You greeted me with a firm, yet very gentle handshake. We started talking about random things: the flight we were about to take, the weather, the airport…etc. As we boarded the flight, our conversation got deeper and deeper. We talked about religion, childhood memories, life, work, and tons of other things, and that’s when I knew that I have made the best decision ever. The whole 12 hours journey we took together passed in the blink of an eye. I felt comfortable and at ease with you. I wanted to tell you all the stories I had and you listened with interest, you asked questions, you wanted to know more, you always do, because you are a true gentleman .

 

The look in your eyes was so soft, loving and just one that makes everyone around you feel happy and special. This look is always there, even now, almost 8 years later. Every time I see you, you still greet me with this exceptionally wonderful look, you also hug me, kiss me on the cheeks, and on the forehead, every single time. This is how we do it: A hug, a kiss on each cheek , one on the forehead, and I just love it so much.

 

Since day one, I felt like I could always rely on you, I felt you were a friend, a father, and great big brother.  I felt that you were my home away from home, and that your heart was one of gold. I knew how lucky I was to be in your life.

 

I was blessed with your presence in the last 8 years, and you have offered me all the love, guidance, and support I needed and wanted. You were there in every up and down I have faced, you offered advice and you loved me no matter what.

 

I always look forward to our late night chitchat sessions, with coffee, nuts, and tons of funny stories from you. You take story telling to a whole new level and boy do we all love you for that!

 

My child sees you as his hero, and it melts my heart every time. He always keeps the best hugs and kisses for you, and only you. He will run to you for a “bear hug” –as you guys call it- every single time he sees you, even if it was the 50th time that day. I am not only blessed because you are in my life, for me and with me in every step of the way, but also because you are there for the person I love more than anything in this world: my son.

 

No I am not talking about my husband, I am talking about his Dad, my father-in-law, and my son’s grandfather. The light of Al-Amri family, the one we always pray God to keep bright and shining forever.

 

This is for you to tell you that the value you add to our lives is unmeasurable, and that the love we have for you is unconditional, sweet and incomparable. May you always stay blessed, healthy and happy.

 

From your daughter in law, with so much love.

 

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Ouiam