Baby’s 1st Party!

baby c

pink baby decor

details baby party

moghleh

table 2

table 2

food

look

russian doll

I’ve always had a weakness for russian dolls… they are a fun symbol of maternity and I thought they would make the perfect party favor to embody the close bond I share with my two daughters whose initials are featured on the medium and small dolls. On the large doll I chose to feature a bouquet as my daughters’ names are floral.  Those Matryoshkas are also pretty cosmopolitan themselves as they were designed in the US (per my guidance), the wooden dolls were made in Russia (by Golden Cockerel), while the packaging (the printed boxes and stickers) were made in Lebanon (by DELF / Dar El Founoun).

Deliciously Spoiled

My mom’s idea of supporting me through the pre and post labor phases has meant for the most part cooking and cooking some more… of course she went way overboard and I’m enjoying every bite of it, each bringing back unique childhood memories and a lot of comfort as it reminds me that I have the support I need to go forward…

Ghada's Food

I particularly want to focus on Meghleh, a traditional Middle Eastern pudding served as a treat to family and friends after the birth of a new baby.

meghleh

Meghleh has been flowing in my house for the past couple of weeks and I have consumed industrial amounts of it! Not only is it smooth, delicious, festive and addictive but more importantly for breastfeeding mommies, it can give you a much needed and quick energy boost to cover those extra calories you’ll still need to insure your milk supply while benefiting from its healthy ingredients:

  • Spices: caraway and cinnamon (Grandmas swear that those spices help stimulate the breast milk production)
  • Rice flour
  • Sugar
  • Toppings: shredded coconut, raw walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and pistachios, each boosting your diet with filling protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated fats and important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

39 Weeks: Easter BABY!

Easter Sunday had more in store for us than predicted and baby # 2 hatched out of her egg shortly after the beginning of the 39th week.  My labor was quick, no complications and we were out of the hospital with our Easter baby shortly after the mandatory 24h waiting period.

Easter baby

It was now time to adjust to the delicate balance of taking care of the fragile newborn while making sure that my soon-to-be 3-year-old wasn’t feeling alienated. Of course it didn’t start very well, as my first daughter seemed to think we brought home a new doll toy for her to play with and got upset that we wouldn’t hand it to her.  On the first day, she would follow me around the house with her toy milk bottle and didn’t seem to understand why I was so attached to this doll. It didn’t take too long however for her to figure out that this doll was different: it moved, made a lot of noise and was getting much more of my attention than any other doll… which prompted her telling me two memorable (and heartbreaking) things: “Maman arrête avec le bébé!” (ENG: “Mom stop it with the baby!”) and “Je ne veux plus acheter un bébé!” (ENG: “I don’t want to buy a baby anymore!”)

My first priority was to orchestrate a system whereby between my husband and I, we can still give our eldest the same degree of attention she had prior to her sister’s arrival while making sure that our newborn’s needs are attended to on time.  It has been a challenge (despite both grandmas joining the effort), mainly because the newborn’s sleeping and eating hours are unpredictable at this stage and my eldest was acting out and trying to grab our attention in many creative manners (such as jumping on couches she would not have dreamt of stepping on before and screaming at new high pitches).

I had learned from my first post-pregnancy experience that it is better to have a plan and sway from it, as newborn demands, than not having one to start with. Today my eldest spontaneously hugged and kissed the baby and said “7ayeteh bébé!” (ENG: “My darling baby!”)  It’s making me feel that maybe we are on the right track… As for baby, she just seems to be oblivious to the power struggle and anything else happening around her… she is exclusively interested in sleeping and breastfeeding, whenever it pleases her!

eastern surprise

Ready & Munchin’

You know labor is near when you’ve downloaded your contractions app to keep track of their length, intensity and frequency and your mom moves in and brings with her delicious delicacies to make the wait bearable!

Upper left: dried grapes (malban) with raw walnuts  Lower left: fresh-from-the-field green almonds Right: Pickled mini eggplant  stuffed with peanut & spices

Upper left: dried grapes (malban) with raw walnuts
Lower left: fresh-from-the-field green almonds
Right: Pickled mini eggplants stuffed with peanut & spices

My Little Miss Chatterbox

photo-121

I can’t recall when or how exactly this started but my daughter just can’t stop talking!

By her 2nd birthday she knew a few words, but now, only 6 months later, her communication superpowers are blooming and she sure is loving them and using them! Although she still makes a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and sentence structure, she’s expressing herself in full sentences, opening structured conversations, debating with arguments and asking a whole LOT of questions! What’s overwhelming is mostly the volume of talk! It’s not that I’m not used to this at home, though I didn’t necessarily think (or wish!) she would inherit that specific behavior from her dad!

She always has something to say or to ask about. From the second she opens her eyes in the morning “mommy what food are you serving me?” in her clumsy French “manger quoi, maman?”,  the interrogation journey starts… I hear “c’est quoi ça maman?” (eng: what’s that mommy) more than I feel the baby #2 kicks, although I have to say there has been a nonstop trampoline party going on in my belly lately!

She asks all sorts of questions:

  • Funny ones: in a restaurant where the waiter was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was taking forever to bring our food, “maman, il est ou monsieur jaune? (eng: where is Mr. Yellow?)
  • Weird ones: a 5 min cab ride turns into a drill of questions on the components of a taxi’s interior (most of which I had never even noticed before) from the little screw she found under the door handle to the taxi driver’s ID and registration number.
  • Smart ones: “Papa, comment on appelle ça en anglais?” (eng: How do we say this in English?).
  • Silly ones: “Maman, il est où papa?” (eng: Where’s daddy?) even though papa is holding her hand while crossing the street or when we’re all having dinner together and papa is just sitting next to her!
  • Quizzes: she asks questions that she already asked a million times before and knowing perfectly well what the correct response is. When I try to trick her and answer incorrectly she corrects me “maman, il est où papa” (eng: where’s daddy?) to which I respond “il est sur la lune” (eng: he’s on the moon) followed by her final response with an attitude and a giggle “mais non maman, papa est au travail!” (eng: no mommy, daddy is at work!).

If she’s not talking to me or to her father, she’s scolding a doll because she didn’t finish her dinner or she’s doing a monologue while playing with the blocks. A sneeze or a cough wouldn’t stop her, she just says “à tes souhaits” (eng: bless you) to herself or “pardon” and continues the chatter!

This phase has been a lot of fun, I’m loving watching her growing up, becoming a little adult with a LOL sense of humor and an overwhelming curiosity while providing us with a lot of entertainment and crazy laughs.  She has so much energy (verbal energy) that it’s so hard to keep up with her at times (or get anything – other than responding to her questions – done). It can be particularly draining when I am trying to focus on another conversation, an article or just thinking of something else I need to get done and she stops me 10 times to tell me for the zillionth time how she hurt her foot on the plane, or how huge Santa’s belly was, or that her teddy bear isn’t a bear but a pig…

At this development stage, it’s primordial to provide your toddler with a rich and nurturing communication environment to help grow his vocabulary, educate him and help him form his personality. Try to enjoy the ride as much as you can and while you will get tired of hearing the same questions and repeating the same responses, believe me it is one of the most fulfilling things you can experience to see your own child’s vocab, behavior and personality evolve gradually (but not so slowly actually!) by simply talking to him, describing to him what you’re doing, pointing things out, telling him stories, asking him questions and singing him songs…

I also find it very important to be a good listener and to be responsive to my daughter by giving her my attention when she’s talking to me and providing her with as accurate an answer to her question as possible (thanks Google).

Furthermore, while it’s well established that the reading itself is an important component in helping to enrich your child’s vocabulary and sentence construction, reading can also be an opportunity to start new conversations, to teach your child about new things or to give them a chance to express new ideas.

Personally I find that the key to constructive and effective communication with your toddler is to treat them not as child but as a mini adult. This doesn’t only mean that I assume that no question is too dumb and that she’s able to understand almost everything (so I don’t filter much and I don’t baby-talk my explanations much) but also that as a starting point I expect of her to act like an intelligent adult and not as a baby and I try as much as possible to convey to her that the same rules of communication and interaction that apply to me and her father apply to her and that she doesn’t get a special pass for screaming, pushing me or banging on the table because she’s 2! Of course balance is key however because as much as you want to take advantage of your child’s incredible learning potential, you should not be spending your whole day responding to questions as you have a responsibility to yourself (and your child) to stay sane and be balanced… teaching your child balance is after all, in and of itself, a very important life lesson!