Coloring 🎨 Outside the Lines 〰

  
Sometimes you have to look back to realize how far or where you’ve come and today when I accidentally scrolled up too far in the sent photos section of WhatsApp while chatting on a family group, I landed on some old pics of my daughters and realized how much they’ve changed (mostly how my eldest has transitioned from chubby baby to opinionated little girl!) in what felt like a time and space I missed – even though I’m certain I was there pretty much all the time!

It’s in moments like this that I’m forced to have a bit of an out-of-body experience and reflect on the fact that my kids are growing up much faster than I’m able to catch-up and it’s then that I start questioning whether caught in the day-to-day grind trying to satisfy their (and my) ever morphing needs (and thank you move for making this even more intractable) I’m perhaps losing perspective and losing the delicate balance between my needs and my family’s. Despite my best efforts, it seems that every time I go through that mentally tortuous exercise (which often starts through an old cute picture!) I end up thinking the balance is tilting one way or the other more than it should and I start micro-planning solutions around this… those solutions often involve planning and slicing my time into more pieces to address all the things I and they want to do… the problem is both those lists keep on growing and I keep on thinking one of them is going to shrink to give way to the other! + hey sorry to break-it to all the second-time-around moms, the synergies of having gone through it once do have serious limits, as the second kid can be very different then the first and you may have some completely new experiences / challenges with them (for instance I never had to deal with unruly curly hair with my eldest!) Of course, despite my best planning, it seems that with so many things, not everything gets done exactly as I saw it in my planner…

Perhaps nowhere is this tension between their needs, my husband’s and mine more apparent then during the weekend, when we’ve resolved that it’s important for us to recharge both separately and together. All it takes sometimes, is one incident that creates a domino effect on all the rest of the carefully planned day and there goes the whole balance… For example, we plan a day carefully designed around a nice car ride with music, lovely brunch with friends, stroll in the park and an afternoon relaxing on the beach / going for a run… this can turn out to become a shouting fest by fussy toddler in the car seat from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (bye bye Seascrest top 40), an ‘à table’ juice fight between my usually white but then turned orange daughters at the bewildered sight of our single friends (who are likely to stay single for a while after this!), and a miracle tantrum at Dubai’s Miracle Gardens by my eldest over not finding the perfect lollipop! So much time gets wasted of course dealing with those unexpected events and even more time when we try to stick to principles. I mean obviously if I settle to their every demand (and my husband often voices the let’s save the rest of the day argument) or don’t hold them accountable to their actions, things would go faster but am I not hurting my future self there too? That day I didn’t give in and hey I missed the beach and my husband missed his run… oh well not sure I made the right choice there 😜

Of course (and perhaps that’s a blessing somehow) those self-assessment episodes only last for so long (because I only have so long before I’m interrupted by either a cute moment: “Maman regarde cette coquine dit “Tigre”; ENG: “Mom look this naughty one says “Tiger”! or a disaster “Maman cette coquine descent les escaliers toute seule! Regarde elle peut! Je lui ai ouvert la barrière! Laisse-la!; ENG: “Mom, look this naughty one is going down the stairs! Look she’s doing it by herself! I opened the gate for her! Let her do it!”… Moi 😱

I’m not sure if I’m balancing right but surprisingly as time passes I’m becoming less vulnerable to realizations that I’m actually not always balancing perfectly… it’s a sort of a gradual peace-making with my limitations or realization that my trying to control everything ultimately circles back to create even more frustrations that I lack control over. So perhaps the best balance one can achieve is to accept without frustration or too much resistance that “something’s gotta give” and that from time to time the coloring is going to go outside the lines… but that despite that your life can still be beautiful. 

 

🎀Shopping 😂 Laughs👛👯

I’m loving that my daughter is now old enough to enjoy shopping-time with me. I get tempted to try things on her, she gives spot on advice (e.g. “Maman, c’est moche! / c’est bizarre! / c’est quoi ça?!? / Maman, ça c’est pour les enfants!” / ENG: “Mom, it’s ugly! / it’s bizarre! / what’s that?!? / Mom, that’s for kids!”) & we often have the best laughs out of things we don’t buy! 😂

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Yes You C.A.N.

It sounds overwhelming and vague whenever you hear the well-known phrase: Fad diets are not the answer to lose extra body weight, a healthier lifestyle is. Nevertheless, it is true, diets provide only short-term solutions and could have serious side effects on your health and a healthier lifestyle is the ultimate long-term solution to a healthier weight. In theory, this is a simple notion, yet we find it difficult to put into practice. Because old habits die hard, figuring out how to change our eating habits into healthier sustainable ones can be challenging. The key to an efficient and smooth transition is to take things slowly and simply, one step at a time.

I recently came across a new study about healthy eating conducted by Cornell University and found it really interesting to share with you all as I thought it suggests brilliant yet simple and practical ways to healthier eating. After analyzing 112 studies that collected information about healthy eating behaviors, the study suggests using what they called the C.A.N. approach to achieve a healthier weight. The CAN approach highlights 3 important principals that focus on designing an environment that makes healthy eating simple by making healthier foods easiest to choose and consume. Hence, to get to eat healthier, healthier food must be:

1- Convenient (visible and easy to reach)

2- Attractive (enticingly displayed)

3- Normal (appear like an obvious choice)

The C.A.N. approach

 

For instance, placing a fruit bowl in a convenient place, where people walk by it, make it more accessible hence more convenient rather than storing the fruits in the back of a drawer in the refrigerator where they are out of sight and out of mind. Fruits assembled in a nice bowl are more attractive than fruits stored in a plastic bag or a drawer in the fridge. Making fruits easily accessible, appealing and part of your daily environment will gradually instill them into your daily routine and create healthy long-term dietary habits. Before you know it fruits will become a more popular choice in your household than cookies!

Apples and flowers

Here are some CAN inspired ideas to get you started:

  • Use canned and frozen fruits and veggies for more convenience. Like canned beans and frozen greens
  • If you still prefer fresh, opt for pre-packed pre-cut fruits and veggies for added convenience and accessibility like baby carrots, celery sticks and cucumber slices
  • Have single-servings of various proteins in:
    • the refrigerator (e.g. hard-boiled eggs, string cheese or bite-size cheese, or single-servings Greek yogurt); or
    • the pantry (e.g. packs of trail mix or raisins)
  • Buy a better brand of apples or yogurt that you will be more incentivized to eat (vs. let it perish in the fridge!)
  • Make appealing well-organized colorful veggie platters (tomato, celery, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower) and place them somewhere easy to grab like the coffee table in the sitting room (that could also be an interesting alternative to a flower arrangement for a change!)

It’s all about manipulating your environment to normalize and favor healthy choices at home or even in your office. As for the less-healthy food options, the CAN approach works in reverse: make them less convenient, less attractive and less normal. Although I think a swift shift to this lifestyle is best, you can take baby steps, for example move that Hershey Kisses bowl just 6 feet away from your desk and you will eat, on average, about 125 fewer calories every workday!

Oh and remember… Yes you C.A.N.

Pink Attraction 👅

I think my ballerinas have found their car!

Pink Attraction

P.S.   When I asked my editor (i.e. my 3 year old daughter 😜) what she thought of the photo, she said: “Mais où est donc ta tête maman?!” eng. “But where has your head gone mommy?!” Not sure if she meant that literary or metaphorically! 😳

#LaVéritéSortDeLaBoucheDesEnfants #DontTakeLifeTooSeriously 😂

UPDATED (by popular demand): here’s the front! 👅👅

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Good Morning Beirut 🌈

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Woke up to this uplifting view this morning! When will we learn to live in harmonious diversity just like this rainbow…? I’m hoping 2015 is the year! Let’s all make it one of our new year resolutions to become more tolerant and contribute in any way we can to an atmosphere of love and life!

Crème de la Crème

Colostrum

While waiting for the real deal to flow, the first milk a breastfed baby would savor for a couple of days after birth is the colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellow-orange fluid with creamy texture, concentrated and not very abundant. Highly packed with so many goodies (proteins, vitamins, minerals and antibodies that boost your infant’s immune system), it protects your baby from disease and gives baby everything he/she needs. It’s the best way to start your baby’s nutrition, nothing else comes close. This incredible substance acts as a natural vaccine and has certainly contributed to protecting my tiny little baby from the harsh flu I got shortly after my delivery, even though baby and me are practically glued 24/7! (of course a protective mask for mommy and other sanitary precautions around the house are also imperative to minimize the likelihood of baby catching the virus)

Breastfeeding Etiquette

Method

  • Start breastfeeding right away, even in the delivery room! Nursing in the next hour or so of your baby’s birth is very important to stimulate milk production. You won’t be too sad to learn that you might be asked to do away with the lovely hospital gown for your first breastfeeding, as skin-to-skin contact between mommy and baby is recommended to jump start the natural bond and breastfeeding.
  • Avoid or minimize bottle or pacifier use, as it can get in the way of developing a good breastfeeding routine.
  • Have your baby in your room the first few weeks so you can nurse more often and on demand, this will help improve your baby’s sucking which in turn will build up your milk supply.

Essentials

For Mommy

  • At least 3 comfy and well-fit nursing bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Nursing pillow
  • Lanolin (nipple cream)
  • Breast milk pump
  • Nightgown, pajamas or other clothes that button or snap down from the front
  • Hand sanitizer

For Baby

  • Bibs
  • Burp cloths
  • Sterilized milk bottles for when you need to pump your milk (either buy a sterilizing machine for the bottles or you can just boil them for a couple of minutes in hot water)

Colostrum pump

For Sanity

  • Make sure your washer and dryer are in good condition because they will probably be running non-stop!
  • Wait until the colostrum phase is over to introduce your favorite onesies as the stains it creates are much harder to wash off.
  • Train another person to burp your baby after each feed (so you can take turns) and this way you can get some extra time for rest between feeds.