Caboodle's Ramadan Workshop

In my last blog I mentioned about how difficult it is to keep Miss. M occupied during Ramadan. I was in the middle of looking for new ways when I heard about the Ramadan Workshop at Caboodle and I knew I had to go.

So on Thursday, after Iftar we made our way to Dubai Mall which was extraordinarily empty for a weekend. The kids waited as we paid.
Mehreen was issued her name tag and off she went.
First stop was the Eidiya pouch decorating corner. Gretchen was the staff member who would assist her. She was given a small jute and upon her request Gretchen drew a flower for her.

Mehreen was overjoyed at the prospect of having so many color markers in front of her and insisted on using every single color in the box!

When she had colored it to her satisfactions, Arfaz volunteered to write her name on it for her. She picked green for it. And then, she insisted that he also write kid bro's name on it.

Meanwhile Mr. Z was busy with his own drawing that Gretchen had given him. He thought he had to put the crayon on the picture and it would paint on its own!

M then moved on to the mosaic corner where she made a mosaic of different shapes. She was overjoyed when Gretchen handed her the glue stick- something I dont generally let her have at home (and for a good reason too or else she might start pretending its lipstick).

 When she finished with the mosaic, we decided to give arts and crafts a break and headed to the indoor play area.

Inside, we first made a headband for her by sticking together some colored papers. It was a great idea and she really enjoyed it

Then we played the piano for a little while.

Before settling at the book corner to read


After that she discovered the doll house. I could have never imagined how much entertainment she finds in role play and imagination. Even at home, she makes all sorts of stories with her imaginary friends. Now that Arfaz has hung up a huge map in our hall and daddy and daughter spend hours learning country names, all Mehreen's imaginary stories go along the lines of "South Africa was walking down the street when along came Russia with a huge Antarctica in its tummy"!

Here she made the doll have a bath and brush its teeth

We then headed back outside to make some Ramadan lanterns.
First she made the flat lantern

And then the hanging lantern

before doing some hand painting. So this was the sum total of all the crafts we did.

I was quite impressed by how prepared the whole event was. There were samples for everything which meant the kids had some sort of idea what to do. And the staff were so supportive, nudging them just enough to do the right thing without spoiling the kids' creativity. Definitely worth a try for your kids if they are home for the summer vacation.


Cost: AED 90 for 2 hours, including the craft materials.

Duration: Thursday 18 July to Saturday 20 July, 10am-12pm

Contact: 04-3253367

Location: Dubai Mall, 2nd floor, Galleries Lafayette parking (Grand Parking)

Cakey Bakey

One of the most challenging things during this Ramadan is to keep Miss M busy. It's almost after a year that she is at home for an extended period. Previously every time there was a break from play school, we had gone to India. But now she is home 24*7. Since we are fasting and it's too hot to even step out of the house,  my poor girl spends day in and day out cooped up inside . She isn't as much a trouble as a lot of other kids because she has got a trait of being able to amuse herself with her imaginary friends and toys.

But there is only so much that she can amuse herself or play with her brother. So I have been busy researching various ways to keep her occupied while helping her little brain absorb different concepts. We have done a bit of finger painting, we have played a lot of games and we have been looking at a lovely bird that has laid its eggs in our balcony (more on all of those later).
One day when she was particularly bored,  I asked her if she wanted to make cake. She was absolutely thrilled as she loves to eat cake. I wasn't too sure if cooking while I was fasting was such a great idea because it would be so hard to figure out if there was enough sugar! But she was so excited that I didn't have the heart to disappoint her. 
I chose to make the oil cake recipe that my amazing baker friend Mehnaz gave me. The cakes turn out so soft that it's unbelievable.
Step 1 was to powder the sugar. We had a bit of an issue because my sweetie pie preferred to eat the sugar than powder it

And then when I asked her to put the sugar in the grinding jar, she lifted the cup of sugar and placed it in the jar!
We then proceeded to seive the flour.
Then poured in the oil and added the eggs
Mixed it thoroughly
And poured it into the baking dish. But my daughter, like her mom and grandma, enjoyed licking the spoon
And the mixing bowl more than the cake itself (that's a very strong gene we are passing down).
When the cake was baked, she was proud

She didn't want to wait to cut it and wanted to pinch her share off.
Eventually she cut it and ate several pieces before finally sharing it with her brother who loved it just as much.


Ramadan is a truly special month for me for more than one reason. I was born during Ramadan and I first found out I was expecting during this month.
A few years ago, Ramadan meant going for Tharawih with my neighbours, attending Qiyam Al Layl prayers on all of the last 10 days of the month, etc. Sadly, with two young ones its no longer possible. People tell me I should just take them and go but I think it's unfair to the other worshippers that they should be distracted by two screaming kids.
Even so, the beauty of Ramadan is unmatched. The men get home early. A lot less cooking translates into a lot more family time. A lot of Quran recitation that echoes through the house.  A lot of duas. My dad tells us stories from the Quran. Arfaz often goes to labour camps and comes back with heart warming stories that are then shared around the dinner table. All in all, it's a beautiful month of ibada and togetherness.
I take this opportunity to revamp my blog a bit. I have often been asked by people what I blog about and I would hem and haw and say "just about life." I have lately realized that its important to give your blog a personality. Hence, I am giving it a parenthood spin. It will probably help all my friends and followers to learn from my experiences. I look forward to getting support from all you lovely people out there. Your comments and suggestions are what always keeps me going.
Ramadan Kareem!!

Happy 3rd Birthday

A slightly late post but hey better late than never :)

My "first baby" (as she describes herself these days) has turned three. I dont know where the 3 years went. It felt like the blink of an eye. 'You will say the same thing when she turns 20,' experienced people tell me.

As far as my girl is concerned, this has to be the most tumultous year in her short life. The calm and peace of the first two years was shattered with some major changes in her life. A month and a half after her second birthday, she became a big sister- a role that she has now learnt to enjoy.
                                         ("Who is that?" she asked when she first saw him)

Initially she was baffled by this new being who had entered her household. I remember reading this somewhere:

Imagine that you and your husband are leading a happy, married life. One fine day, your husband tells you 'Honey, I am getting a new wife'. And this new young and beautiful woman joins your life. Suddenly everyone's attention is on her. Wherever you go, people are commenting about how cute and young the new wife looks. How would you feel? Thats exactly how your child feels when it gets a sibling.

Deep, eh? It took Mehreen 3 months to get used to the idea of having another baby in the house. In those 3 months, her insecurity was hard to stand by and watch. But she quickly overcame it and fit into the role of big sister with ease. She started enjoying it- not without occassional episodes of jealousy, insecurity or plain hatred. But hey, thats how even we adults are. So can we expect more from kids?

Another major change was that she started nursery. On Day 1 when I took her into school, she skipped into the classroom without so much as even a 'bye'. It felt like someone had taken away an organ from my body. I waited around for a bit, in case she cried. But not her. So I went back home and the minute I stepped in, I get a call saying she is bawling her eyes out.

And thus began a month of another rigmarole. She would be escorted into the classroom screaming. And she would be screaming when I went to pick her up. the teachers assured me that she stopped crying the minute I left but it didnt convince me. Soon the tears turned into a fake cry that lasted 10 seconds when she saw me. That then turned into sheer joy and laughter. I was glad that I put her into nursery when I did. A lot of people told me what an atrocity it was to put such a young kid into school. But I feel Mehreen has blossomed as a person since she started. She now confidently approaches kids she doesnt know and invites them to play with her. She knows its wrong to snatch and that she should share her toys (whether she practices it is a different issue altogether). She loves singing rhymes. She can now say a sentence or two in English. She has become fully potty trained. So all in all, she has become her own person now- something I dont always enjoy as I miss my baby girl. But hey, you win some and you lose some.

Another change in her life was how fashion conscious she has become. She now loves to match her clips, sunglasses and handbags with her outfit (Thank God she doesnt insist on it, or else I would be in deep trouble). She loves to paint her nails. And she even got a little pedicure done :)

I know more changes are around the corner. She has now moved to a nursery where all the teachers and most students are Westerners. Im sure that one of these days she will come home and probably ask for some saa-mun (salmon). But the process of watching them grow up is so amusing and enjoyable that I'd like to forget to dwell on how quickly its happening. And I hope we are able to bring her up into a polite, honest, God-fearing and respectul human being.

NOTE: We are not much into celebrating birthdays but this year we took her around to Ceramic Café in Jumeirah Town Center where she spent a good couple of hours painting a box with her favorite cartoon character Hello Kitty.


A big thank you to the wonderful staff and manager (a friend of Arfaz's) for dishing up an amazing plate of Biryani even though it wasn't on their menu. It was one of the tastiest Biryani I have ever had. And also for the complimentary cake that everyone licked clean.

The birthing story

"you and I need to talk," I said, glaring at my burgeoning tummy. I was driving back home from the hospital for a second time after being told that my labor pain was actually false.

I was tired and worn out. From severe back pain to horrible heartburn, this pregnancy was an extremely difficult one for me. I was driving to a farm in Dhaid every other week to drink fresh buttermilk so that I could eat something without heartburn. And to add to all of it, my baby dropped into a head down position more than a month before it was supposed to, making it extremely difficult for me to sit/ stand/ breathe and do somersaults (what else would I be doing when I'm eight months pregnant?)

So on Friday, June 15th I started getting contractions. By afternoon they were getting closer. So we took bag and baggage and left for the hospital. But on getting there the nurses said, they were not contractions but irritability (for God's sake, what is that?).

So they asked me to go for a walk and come back at 8pm. Thats when I told my baby that we needed to talk about grounding him/her for a week without TV and Internet. We went home, prayed, cooked dinner and then headed for the beach to walk. Beach sand is famous for speeding up labor. But by then whatever pain I had was gone. So I prepared myself for another week or two of pregnancy discomfort and headed for the hospital. Our plans for that evening were clear- finish the hospital, go home for dinner and then go to the nearest theatre to watch the latest Malayalam movie Diamond Necklace. We had been waiting for the movie to release because a good friend was acting in it.

But surprise surprise...when we reached the hospital, the doctor on duty said my contractions were becoming quite intense and I was in active labor. Now trust this child to thwart all our plans. So I grudgingly let myself to be wheeled into the very same labor room that I had given birth to Mehreen in. Mom and dad went home to get some dinner and Arfaz curled on the sofa and fell into a deep slumber. Time passed. It was midnight and I was still not progressing enough. I was fast getting tired, having had no sleep the previous night because of back pain. So I asked for IT- the ultimate medicine that women before and after me will literally worship- the Epidural. Once the painkiller entered my system I fell asleep. Mom and Arfaz went up to the hospital room. Mom would later tell me how she was so tensed that she couldn't sleep and how she spent the night listening to the clock's ticking...and oh Arfaz's snoring as well :)

Throughout the night, as I slipped in and out of slumber, I could see the Burj Khalifa through the window of my labor room. The building looked so beautiful and majestic against the night sky that I was just awed by it. And I was surprised that I hadn't noticed it before because I stay barely a kilometer away from the iconic building. Yet it's beauty had never impressed me so much. I guess that pretty much how life is. You don't see the beauty of the people in your life, until Allah chooses to show it to you in a particular situation.

At 7am the nurses shifts changed. The doctor's shift was ending at 8:30. She came and told me in a pleading voice "Please let me see your baby before I go home today." As if I could do something about it! Mom kept checking on me throughout the night. At about 7 30 she came and fed me the stale idli and sambar that the hospital provided. We were laughing about something when I suddenly felt like it was time. I quickly gulped down some more food and sent for the doctor. I think she would have put PT Usha to shame by the speed with which she sprinted into my room. By then it was 8. At 8:10 sharp I heard the first cry of the little person. But I didnt even pay attention to it coz the minute it opened its mouth to cry I heard my mom sobbing beside me. I was so amused and busy watching her that I totally forgot about the child. "Male baby, male baby," the doctors exclaimed. I know guys," I wanted to say coz I looked for "it" and this time I knew the difference between the umbilical cord :D (check my previous blog for the whole story)

The rest of the day passed in a blur. Mehreen came and saw her little brother. It took some time for her to accept the fact that the baby who was inside my tummy had actually materialized into a human being.

Two days later we came home. Then I had to go through the whole post natal care routine (that deserves a blog entry of it's own). One thing that quickly struck me was that Zayaan was very different from Mehreen. He was more laid back and less gassy than her. Alhamdulillah for that because Mehreen wasn't the happiest person on Earth to have a big chunk of attention diverted from her. Sibling rivalry quickly started to rear it's head (again that deserves another blog entry of it's own).

Now, 6 months later, things are much better Alhamdulillah. A special mention to all my friends and family who came to visit us and brought gifts for Mehreen. I was surprised by how many people actually remembered to get stuff for her while bringing in gifts for Zayaan. It helped to cancel out a lot of animosity between the brother and sister.

More of Zayaan-Mehreen chronicles in my next blog post. Till then keep smiling :)