Disneyland Done Right!!

 

Alright, so just to clarify things: There is really nothing you can do right while having a toddler at your feet, for very obvious reasons-well it’s a toddler we are talking about- but we can definitely make things go smoother, aiming to minimize any collateral damage.

 

Last month we traveled to Paris, the city of love and pastries, yet we were aiming  for a different kind of adventures. My genius husband had come up with a fantastic plan, in just a couple of days of researching “Where to go on a holiday with a toddler” –yup he is this cool! And he soon announced that we were to visit the one place on earth where you can pretend to be a kid, and no one will have a problem with that. I was mostly excited that my 3 years old son will finally meet his number one idol, the one and only Mickey Mouse! Yes Mickey the Mouse himself! The trip was going to be 5 days (or so we thought, little did we know that adults also can’t get enough of that magical land!). From the airport we headed straight to Disneyland filled with excitement and joy. I really didn’t know what to expect, after all I had never been to Disneyland before!

I would say, to do Disneyland right, you ll first and foremost need one thing: MY HUSBAND (just kidding lol). He really did such a great job researching and figuring out all the tips, dos and don’ts, and thanks to him we had a wonderful experience, so through this post, I will try to share his wisdom with all of you out there 😉 Here are some of the tips that helped us greatly:

Download the Parc de Disneyland® app: It’s a MUST!! It gives you all the info you need while in Disneyland: The location of the rides/games, how long you ll need to queue for, where to get food/ice cream from…etc!

 

Make sure you choose the right season to visit: as obvious as this might be, it can also be tricky. In Summer prices are obviously very high compared to winter, however, in winter it might be too cold especially if you are with kids, in addition to the fact that in winter some rides can be closed for maintenance. So you really have to choose carefully.

 

The park opens its doors at 10am, but you can aim to be there at 9 or 9:30am. First because the road from the doors to the actual park is very long, then because you would like to escape the crowds, and do at least one or two rides before you start queuing for crazy amounts of time.

The majority of the park’s visitors choose to go with the flow: clockwise around the park, try going against the grain: either go anti-clockwise or start from the back of the park (make sure to pick up a map or use the app) and work your way forward.

If your child is less than 3 years old, he/she gets a “child’s rate”, but you will be required to show proof, either his passport or birth certificate.

 

If you are new parents, make sure you use your ‘Baby Switch’ priority. If you’re bringing along a baby, you can definitely ask for a ‘Baby Switch’ card at the entrance. This will allow one of the two adults to queue up, while the other looks after the baby. And once the ride is done, the other parent can use the card to re-visit the attraction, this time without having to queue.

 

 FASTPASS: Quite simply, the best way to avoid the queues. Available to pick up as you go in, these special FASTPASS are valid for only an hour, so in order to fit the most into your day, I suggest picking up passes every two hours or so. You can move between the two parks as and when you wish. Some rides aren’t included in the FASTPASS scheme, so make sure to check out the list of those that are, beforehand.

 

You can rent a stroller for your toddler, at the entrance, for 20Euros. If you want to use it freely between the 2 parks, you can add a 50Euros deposit, and you will get a paper that you can show the staff at the entrance of each park in order to move freely between parks.

 

Now remember, you will be doing lots of running around, queuing, and walking, so NO HEALS!!  Choose your most comfortable shoes! You will also need to be wearing comfy clothes, that will allow you to move freely. Hats are a MUST too!! Especially for kids.

 

SNACKS!!!!!!!!!! Stock up on them! You will need them all day long! It also makes the wait much easier, especially with kids. Besides, everything there costs an arm and a leg, so you might wanna fill up that backpack. You can even pack a light lunch just in case the queues are too long and you (or your toddler) are too hungry to wait.

 

Be aware that some shops actually close at 6pm so always check what time everything closes (again, you can use the app for that).

 

If your kid is a Mickey Mouse junky –like mine- then make sure you don’t miss the “Mickey Mouse Club House Show”, available in both French and English, at the Walt Disney Studios.

 

Usually around the closing time (One park closes at 7pm and the other one at 11pm), The crowds tend to die down, so keep one or two rides in mind for that last hour.

One of the best rides that our whole family enjoyed was “Ratatouille”!! So so much fun. You will also find there one of the best restaurants in Disneyland: “Bistrot Chez Remy”, where you’ll get what it feels like to be a rat in a big restaurant lol.

Instead of Five days we stayed a week, this is how fun, and enjoyable Disneyland was, to all of us, not only to my 3 years old son!! We loved every minute of it. After that week, I sure had blisters and missed my sofa so so much, but it was aaaaaaaaaaaall worth it!

 

Ouiam

 

 

Lost In Germany….

Last May, I did something quite crazy, something not everyone will be able to do, especially with a toddler onboard. I planned a trip, following Google’s advice and my instinct. I looked up “Small villages in Germany” and randomly chose one, then I booked the first house that popped up in my feed, and booked my tickets. Just me and my 3 years old. My desire to immerse myself in nature was growing day by day, and I was daydreaming about a trip where all we can do is contemplate the breathtakingly gorgeous sceneries. It wasn’t really hard to choose a country with the above descriptions; Germany is one of my very favorite countries, The Country of Poets and Thinkers, as it was being called once.
 

While there,  it really seemed like I have left the planet earth and showed up somewhere where social epidemics haven’t yet found place. Somewhere in the state of Bavaria in Germany, a tiny little town, about a handful of houses and a park (of course, parks in this part of the world are more important than anything else!), I am not even sure if I should call where I was, a “little town”, the closest supermarket, shops, or any sign of civilization was 15 km away (which is also a little town called “Schöllkrippen”). Mostly old couples live there, surrounded by all kind of greens, nature and friendly neighbors- sheep, goats, dogs and cats- Few young people too. Since we landed in this forgotten peace of heaven, Adam and I have been experiencing all kinds of human interactions that were not possible elsewhere. When we first arrived we were greeted at every corner, we were offered rides and food, we were treated like part of the family from people whom we have never seen before, from people we don’t even share the same language with! People have showered us with kindness and compassion since the day we stepped foot in there, and I simply wonder how come this only exists there? This has made me think of all the times reckless drivers shouted and raised hands that I could see from my mirror while driving, or those times when neighbors passed by and omitted to say hello, or the times family and friends have failed to show the human side in them, and I ask myself how come? Why we lost that human side in us that made us joyful, peaceful and simple! It also made me think of that specific time in an airport where I was helping a random guy get his luggage from one of those famous airport luggage belts (you know what I mean, those ones where if you don’t get your bag from the first round you start experiencing a mini heart attack, and are bound to wait in queues for hours!!!), and he came shouting, and waving his big bulky hand:” THIS IS MY BAG!”!!!!!!  Of course it is yours, idiot, I am just helping you! It made me think of countless encounters I had before of human beings being so far away from humanity, times where kindness has become a distant memory only few of us can remember. The people in this tiny town obviously opted for another philosophy in life, one that was too rare to even be named or studied. One that was the epitome of kindness, compassion and love.

 

 

What is it that has spoiled and ruined the human race this much, and left it pretty much inhuman? What is it that makes people kill innocent people, judge them, feel superior to them or even be insensitive to their existence?

 

If you say technology, it is wrong! Because each one of the people in this little tiny town, has their smart phones, laptops and TVs lined up in front of them (or in their living rooms), so it must be something else.

 

Whatever their secrete is, it is working! People in that little town are not disconnected from their surroundings even with the existence of phones and TVs. People there crave the social interaction as we- in my part of the world- crave the social media. These people are open and tolerant, they are present and mindful. I find it hard to believe that with the lifestyle we live we are able to find the essence of humanity anywhere. Husbands and wives busy with their phones, kids busy with their electronics and neighbors busy ignoring their neighbors. Somewhere along the journey we have all lost our purity and innocence, even with the best intentions, we are transformed with others’ rudeness and disconnection from whoever we want to be to whatever we are now.

 

Where I was, no one sits alone in a café, random people show up and ask if they can sit with you! So you don’t have to sit all alone! You will never be or feel alone even though the population of this tinniest city is one tenth of any normal sized city, while in big cities like where I live, you will be sitting in a table with 10 other people you know very well, and you will be hiding behind a screen, you might even not notice if someone leaves or comes! And this is my friends, one of the biggest losses the humanity has ever suffered from!

 

I am so very thankful and blessed that the universe has sent me to this unbelievably rich little town, to relearn what is the purpose of being human and how to be human in an era of disconnection and impurity.


PS: Those gorgeous pictures were taken by the very talented Jessica Elm in Germany.

Instagram: @jessicaelmphotography

Ouiam

A Parent’s Guid To Road Tripping And More!

 

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If you missed part one and two see it here and here! It’s crazy how far away this vacation seems to be now yet at the same time it feels like we just got back yesterday!

So after visiting Amsterdam and falling in love with this exciting and very charming place, we packed our bags and left the hotel, in our wonderfully practical and fully loaded minivan. My key secret to having a peaceful road trip with a toddler, is load that car with anything and everything I could lay hands on, meaning: Before we go anywhere, we pass by the supermarket and we stock up on water, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cheese, crackers …etc. I also make sure I include plenty of my “busy boxes”, which are shoeboxes filled with different things. Each box has a theme, one can be filled with crayons, paper, pencils, glitters, and other art supplies. Another one can have some glue, some cardboard, and some pre-cut pieces of paper. Sometimes when I feel very crafty I would make them into different shapes. A shoebox can also contain a book and things related to that book, for example we had “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, so back home, before we traveled, I made a caterpillar and some oranges, some strawberries, some plums, a moon, an egg… etc. Adam loves telling us the story using these little things! You can fill these boxes (or bags if you prefer) with anything you like and they are a great way to keep a toddler busy!

 

Stopping the car from time to time and stepping out to get some fresh air is also a great way to enjoy the trip. Adam loved the greenery that was abundant and surrounding us from every angle! We got to run a bit, roll on the grass and meet new friends which is always a blessing!

 

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Adam discovered Pizza in this trip! He had it for the first time in his life, and he loved it! So it made it very easy to have dinner in the car while baba is driving. This way we didn’t have to worry much about wasting time or missing dinner, because Adam is always so tired by the time we reach the hotel.

We all love music, so we always carry some CDs with us when we travel, and we listen to them during our trip. One of them works like magic in putting Adam to sleep, and this way we never missed any of his naps (It was a gift for his first birthday, and that’s exactly why we love the friends who got it for him- or should I say for us- Thank you Mirna & Sergio lol).

 

Road trips are one of the very awesome things we do. I love them insanely because growing up I used to go in so many of them with my family and I have such great great memories from that sweet time! So I am so glad that I get to do the same thing with my small family!

 

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I must say this time I was a little more worried about how will Adam be in this road trip, because he wasn’t feeling so well. The last week of our 3 weeks stay in Morocco, Adam seemed like he had a tummy bug, and for three days he had a fever that reached 40 degrees one night. It was the first time Adam gets sick this bad and of course I was panicking. Luckily I always trust my instinct, it never fails me. Although his symptoms looked like a flue, and my whole family agreed on that piece of info, I knew it was something he ate and his tummy now harboured a dam cursed bacteria that was refusing to let go! I am no doctor but this is what worked for me regardless of who said what.

 

1-  First and foremost, NEVER EVER EVER give a child something to stop his diarrhea or vomiting!! This is the body’s natural way of cleansing itself, if you stop it by giving medicine, the bacteria will never leave and you will only suppress the symptoms. Instead make sure you hydrate the body with plenty of water, or water with a teaspoon of sugar (to replenish the minerals), give few sips of green tea, it works like a miracle! Also give plenty of starchy food (when the child is able to eat, because you should never force them to eat), like potatoes, rice, carrots, and even chocolate.

 

2- Use garlic in anyway you can! I used to crash it, leave it to rest for 15 minutes and then  give it to Adam. Garlic contains a compound called Allicin, which has potent medicinal properties. It is a real wealth so use it generously.

 

3- Fenugreek, a miracle when it comes to boosting the immune system! Because the child’s immune system is at its lowest, we need to look into ways to revitalize it. I would soak some fenugreek seeds overnight, and give Adam a teaspoon of that water every morning. It is safer to use small doses and it sure helps like nothing else!

 

4- For the fever, I swear by vinegar!! Soak the child’s socks in vinegar, and put them on for him, repeat this whenever needed. It really does wonders. In 15 minutes you will start noticing the fever going down.

5- Lemon and organic honey!! Amazing for anything and everything! Just squeeze half a lemon, mix it with a teaspoon of honey and give the child to drink.

I also always include lots of ginger (in soups), parsley, blueberries, turmeric, and onions in Adam’s diet whenever he is sick. It is a great way to help the body heal itself naturally.

 

It took Adam one whole week to recover totally, but I haven’t used any medicine at all. No antibiotics no anti-inflammatory, nothing at all! I did take him to see a doctor afterwards though, just to confirm that he is well and nothing is wrong. We then found out that he had salmonella! YES! I have no idea how he got it, but whatever I did was the best way to deal with it! You never want to suppress an infection (in this case Salmonella) by giving antibiotics, this will just make matters worse. You need to give it a chance to leave the body entirely and peacefully!

 

I hope today’s tips help you even a tiny bit and Thank you for reading!!

 

Ouiam

A Breeze, A Storm, And A Little Piece Of Heaven!

 

 

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So… it has been a little too quiet in here right? That’s because we were on a very long vacation. It was a huge adjustment to let go of the little machines (aka smartphones), that would soon turn me into one, but I did it. I managed to stay offline most of the time. No Facebook, no Instagram and no blogging of course! I survived and guess what? I really enjoyed living the moment instead of capturing it, (just for that little while, but I am glad to get my machines back lol!), I still took a whole lot of pictures… click … click …click, but those are going to be saved for the rainy days…!

Our trip was about 6 weeks long, therefore I thought I should write few posts to cover the whole trip. We did Germany, Morocco, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Germany again, before coming back to our lovely sandy island- Bahrain. With a toddler who was beyond excited to get on an airplane, travel to new destinations, and visit his family!

That’s not it….! To end this long vacation, I decided to go on a trip to Oman with my girlfriends…! Yes, a girls’ trip! Do you realise how wild and crazy that is…well at least to me! I never left Adam more than few hours with his dad, and going on a three days’ trip meant that he will stay all those long, tiring, busy 72 hours with his second favourite person in the whole world: his dad (let’s hope hubby doesn’t read this or else I will be in trouble!”.

 

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This year was all about getting out of my comfort zone, trying new, exciting and different things, pushing my own boundaries, and exploring my abilities. so the next logical step was to take this trip with my 66 years old Taichi Master (It will be much easier if we just call her “S” for now), and two of my friends “R” and “W”. We planned this trip to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the studio where we train. This year also marked my 10th year living in Bahrain. So it was a wonderful thing to do to cherish all the years we spent in this beautiful part of the word, a place we all call home now.

 

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Writing about this trip (and the rest of our vacation) feels like a must. Something that I need to share with so many parents who think that life with kids means suffocating the person we were before the kids arrived and becoming a new person that we don’t even relate to most of the time. I feel I have to write about this trip because it revealed the real person I am and gave me an opportunity to be authentic and true to myself. It also gave me courage to get back to my hectic life and dive into that crazy world of mine, with a grin. The adrenalin rush was something I craved and with the thrill and kicks of this trip, my prayers were answered. It liberated me and grounded me at the same time. I feel I have to write about every aspect of the trip, the beauty of Oman that I am sure I will never do it justice, the courage it took 4 ladies to travel on their own, rent a car, use a GPS for the first time, go to the mountains and explore the enchanting nature of Oman. to write about the bonds that flourished with this trip, the trust, the friendship. About how challenging our hikes were, yet we went through each challenge determined to succeed. We discovered the power of the mind and how your words have a great impact on your performance, and that just when you think you can’t take one more step forward, your legs will already be one step ahead of you! I have to write about the feeling of being a kid again, running, jumping, free, fresh, and at peace with your inner-self, laughing like a kid, breathing like a kid, joking and being silly like you have never done before! I have to write about the inspiration these 3 ladies have given me! A 66 years old, unstoppable, brave, yet kind and harbors the softest of hearts. A young lady who dedicated her life to work with children, and another young lady, so motivated that it seems she never lost the child within her! So you see why I will need more than one blog post? Where shall I even start?

 

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Up until the last minute I wasn’t sure I could get myself to leave home, knowing that I will not see my little nugget for 3 whole days! I should spare you guys those details about the tears, the ruined mascara, the uncontrollably fast heart beats, and the agony that possessed my soul! Yes, this is how bad things were that morning at 7am, when that cab pulled over next to my door step, and I really needed it to get in, if I wanted to reach the airport on time to make it to that flight!

I felt I was the big girl in this trip, even though I am pretty sure I was the youngest. Maybe because once you are a mother, you are always a mother! And you always feel responsible for everyone else around you, no matter how old/young they are. So obviously, I was the one in charge of the documents, the bookings, … you know… the big stuff! Somehow I also felt in charge of the ladies, there was always this feeling that I had to look after them and make sure each one was safe and happy.

 

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So there I was with a rented car in front of me, a GPS in my hand and three cheerful ladies next to me! Whoever knows me well, knows that the GPS and I are not the bestest of friends! I never used one and never understood that virtual world of “recalculating, on route and turn left then keep right!!!!!!”, yet, and just like a big kid, I installed that damn thing (Hell yeah I am a mother ….Nothing is gonna scare me!),I typed the address and we all cheered and welcomed Bruno (the voice of our GPS). S was our driver, and she wasn’t thrilled about using a GPS, she had a map that she bought from the shop at the airport, and decided she would follow it instead of freezing her brain and listening to a voice who clearly can’t give clear instructions!! (talk about inspiration and about that “turn right, keep left!” thing lol!!!). After several minutes of trying to convince S that Bruno is our good friend for now, and that may be listening to what he is saying wasn’t such a bad idea after all, finally she agreed, not convinced but I guess she was just too tired to argue with two restless young ladies full of energy, and not ready to be defeated!

We were heading to the Shangri La, an exquisite hotel in Muscat, that I have visited before with my husband. The road was nothing like what I have imagined. It was so easy and refreshingly simple. I must confess though, the whole journey from the airport to the hotel, all I could think of, was my little Adam and how terribly I missed him already!

The next day, we were ready for our hike. Up by 6am, full of energy and ready to challenge our bodies and souls! The drive was about two hours from the hotel. We got in the car with our bags, sunscreen, water, and our dreamy little minds. I had butterflies in my stomach, you see S appointed me as her Co-pilot, and I was nervous! Me and Bruno just started to get along and I wasn’t really sure we could make it all the way to “Wadi Shab”….. Wanna know if we made it there? Oh well stay tuned and wait for my next blog post!

 

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Ouiam

On The Roads!! 

  

Hello!! Today i write this post while in the car, on a road trip, from Munich, Germany, to Salzburg, Austria. And we are planning to drive around Europe this whole week (Seriously how exciting is it?!!) This is our first road trip with a baby, well it is actually our very first road trip together! I was super excited when we decided to do it, i love road trips, they remind me of my childhood, all those summers when i traveled with my family, all around Morocco (mostly to attend weddings of cousins)! On the other hand, i was a little worried about how will this little one behave, trapped in a carseat for hours. Knowing how poorly he handles our usual trips in the car in our hometown, i wasn’t very optimistic. Yet and as usual this little peanut never fails to surprise me, he was very comfortable in his carseat, always cheerful and happy! And it just melts my heart seeing him enjoy one of the things i did when i was a child and loved so much! So here we go with the radio on full volume, plenty of snacks and drinks, lots of smiles and giggles along with some very meaningful and interesting conversations with “Dada”. 
Knowing how stressed i was about this trip, i wanted to share with other moms, some of the tips that worked perfectly for us making our trip as easy as it could be.
1- Routine, Routine and Routine : i am very strict when it comes to Adam’s daily routine, his naps, meals and bedtime. It doesn’t matter where we are, i always make sure that nothing disturbs his routine. So if we were out and about, i just use the carrier for his naps. I cook his meals and prepare them before we leave home/hotel so he can have them on time. And we make sure we get back home right on time for his bedtime! 
2- Dress him in comfortable clothes, possibly Pyjamas!  
3- Plenty of snacks! They work wonders! It keeps little peanut busy for a very long time! I try to make them as healthy as possible : Fruits cut into pieces, some cheese on a toast, some yogurt, or simply some puffs and crackers. 
4- Water!! Your baby might be fussy simply because he is thirsty, so keep him hydrated at all times. 
5- Toys and books!! They are crucial!! I chose the ones that Adam likes, and borrowed some from Ana (Adam’s little friend!) this way it won’t be too boring for him. 
6- Be creative and make your own toys, stick some pictures of your baby or family members on a cardboard, it will keep him busy for a while. Or take some of your colourful scarfs, tie the ends together and put them in a box. Different colours and textures are always a good idea to keep a baby busy. You can also put some coloured (or just normal transparent tape) on a cardboard. Babies love to take the tape out and stick it in again ( at least mine does lol) 
7- Music! I am not sure if this will apply to all babies, but Adam loves music so we brought a CD with his favourite songs and it’s also a great way to wind him down for his naps. 
8- A couple of blankets might be useful if you need to cover the windows for some shade. 
9-  I had to sit at the back with Adam, so he won’t be too lonely. Beside it is easier to feed him or/and play with him. 
10- Time the trips wisely: it is always best for us to leave after breakfast, and right before it is Adam’s nap-time, so he would take his nap in the car. 
11- Take at least one extra set of clothes and keep it easy to reach. For all the surprises little peanut might have for us. 
12- Take breaks as often as possible. It is useful for changing diapers and to give the little one a chance to move around and stretch those tiny legs(in Adam’s case crawl)
13- Never Expect the trip to be a dream! However don’t stress much about it. You will be busy all the time, that is a fact, but it is totally worth it 🙂 
13- Finally: Don’t forget to take lots of pictures 🙂 
 It doesn’t matter whether we re taking a plane or a car, these tips are always useful and helpful. I do hope they help even a little bit with your next trip with your little one!! 
Ouiam.