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Contests at Third Anniversary Spring Gala

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We are holding 4 contests related to our Spring Gala:

Story Writing

Poetry

Art

Nasheed Recitation

CAN YOU TELL A STORY?

Muslim Moms.ca wants to showcase your talent at our upcoming Spring Gala! So, we are sending out a special invite for all the aspiring writers out there to submit their work! To participate you must register for our Spring Gala on or before March 7, 2017. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/412994519049169 for event details.

Rules to enter:

1. You must attend the Spring Gala on April 2, 2017, from 12pm to 4pm, ticket worth $40. To pay please send an etransfer to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, password: spring.

2. Register by sending an email to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, subject: “Story Competition” with your name and phone number after you have purchased the ticket.

3. The theme of the story is: A little boy/girl decides enough is enough and plans to run away from his/her family. What happens next? (The story can be told in first person, as the child prepares to escape.)

4. You can submit only one story which should be your original work via email to us when you get your registration confirmation.

5. The story should not exceed 1500 words and should be in English.

6. Deadline for story submissions is 24th March.

SO YOU THINK YOU ARE A POET?

Muslim Moms.ca wants to showcase your talent at our upcoming Spring Gala! So, we are sending out a special invite for all the poetic ladies out there to submit their poems! To participate you must register for our Spring Gala on or before March 7, 2017. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/412994519049169 for event details.

Rules to enter:
1. You must attend the Spring Gala on April 2, 2017, from 12pm to 4pm, ticket worth $40. To pay please send an etransfer to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, password: spring through your online bank account.

2. Register by sending an email to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, subject: “Poetry Competition” with your name and phone number after you have purchased the ticket.

3. The theme of the poem should be “Longing”.

4. You can submit only one poem which should be your original work via email to us when you get your registration confirmation.

5. The poem should not exceed 25 lines.

6. Deadline for poetry submissions is 24th March.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DRAW?

Muslim Moms.ca wants to showcase your talent at our upcoming Spring Gala! So, we are sending out a special invite for all the artistic ladies out there to create a special piece of art! To participate you must register for our Spring Gala on or before March 7, 2017. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/412994519049169 for event details.

Rules to enter:
1. You must attend the Spring Gala on April 2, 2017, from 12pm to 4pm, ticket worth $40. To pay please send an etransfer to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, password: spring through your online bank account.

2. Register by sending an email to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, subject: “Drawing Competition” with your name and phone number after you have purchased the ticket.

3. The theme of the drawing/painting is “Perfection in an imperfect world”.

4. The art must be created in your choice of medium( acrylic, water, oil paints or color pencil or charcoal ) on canvas, paper or canvas board sized 16 X 20 inches.

5. You will bring the art piece on the Spring Gala to be reviewed by judges.

6. The work must be ready to display (framed in case of paper or canvas board) on the day of the Gala where it will be displayed, voted on and awarded.

7. This must be your original work to be eligible for entering the competition.

DO YOU LOVE NASHEEDS?

Muslim Moms.ca wants to showcase your talent at our upcoming Spring Gala! So, we are sending out a special invite for all the nasheed loving ladies to recite your most favorite one at our event! To participate you must register for our Spring Gala on or before March 7, 2017. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/412994519049169 for event details.
Rules to enter:
1. You must attend the Spring Gala on April 2, 2017, from 12pm to 4pm, ticket worth $40. To pay please send an etransfer to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, password: spring through your online bank account.
2. Register by sending an email to muslimmomsca@gmail.com, subject: “Nasheed Competition” with your name and phone number after you have purchased the ticket.
3. Attend the event and recite the Nasheed. A panel of judges will choose the winner.
4. Nasheed can be in English, Urdu or Arabic.

Healthy Marital Communication: Some Strategies for Parents

By Dr Saunia Ahmed

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Couples in my office will sometimes turn to me and ask me how I manage to stay so calm and objective when I work with partners who fight so much. They may be surprised to learn that I find myself humbled to witness how hard they work to make their marriage work and how touching it is to see them work their way through such a challenge.

Marriages are hard work.

Going from being single to being married is a major adjustment and new couples are often surprised to learn just how hard this transition can be. Love is not enough, but you certainly need love to stay dedicated to the process.

I would say most couples struggle with communication at some point in their marriage, often in the early years of their marriage, and definitely when they have children. In fact, studies suggest that marital satisfaction deteriorate substantially after couples have children.

But it does not have to be this way. The challenges couples face after having children is an opportunity to really look at where they need to improve in order to strengthen their relationship.

Couples with children need to communicate in order to effectively manage their roles as parents. Some couples try to manage the emotions they experience around disagreements by not talking because they fear it will make things worse. Couples I work with often tell me they fight a lot, but never in front of their children. While it is a good idea not to expose your children to explosive conflicts, children pick up on tension between parents. Good communication not only improves your ability to be more coordinated in your parenting but to also model for your children an affectionate and supportive relationship.

Here are some suggestions for healthy communication:

1) Express your feelings and needs:

Express what is bothering you by talking about how you feel about what your partner is saying or doing instead of criticizing. One way to do this is to take what you were going to say and replace the ‘you’s with ‘I’s: For instance, instead of saying “You never come home on time” tell him/her how their behavior makes you feel by saying something like “When you come home late, I feel unimportant”

2) Listen and empathize with your partner:

Many couples tell me they don’t understand how communication is supposed to help when they talk and talk and talk but get nowhere. The problem is that both partners are talking but neither are really listening and genuinely considering what their partner is saying to them. And sometimes they think they are, but they are often listening to their interpretation of what their partner is saying rather than what their partner actually means.

3) Make time to talk:

Make time to communicate when there are no distractions. Today’s couples are very busy even before they have children, but when children come into the picture, they have even less time. You will need to make time to communicate, even if it means skipping out on your favourite tv shows after you put the kids to bed. Make a point of having regular check-ins with your partner. You need time to share how you feel and any concerns you have, and to spend quality time with each other. This nurtures your relationship and makes your co-parenting roles run more smoothly.

4) Apply the 10-minute rule when you are very angry:

The adage “Don’t go to bed angry” makes a lot of sense. You certainly don’t want to allow resentment to brew. Otherwise, minor events will start to trigger bigger arguments. However, sometimes when people try to talk about an issue when they are very upset and angry, they are more likely to react in ways that further exacerbates the issue. They may say or do something that can be hurtful, such as yelling or swearing or being critical of their partner, and later regret it when they have calmed down. I sometimes suggest to people who tend to react quickly with unconstructive remarks to ask their partner for a 10-minute time off to collect their thoughts. This needs to be a strategy you and your partner agree upon in advance so that the other person does not feel rejected when you say you need a time-off. Instead, your partner understands you are doing this so that you two can have a constructive conversation. The key is to make sure you come back to the table to talk and not go to bed angry. You have allowed your body and mind to calm down, and you are more likely to listen to your partner and express yourself as well.

About the Author

Dr. Saunia Ahmad is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Toronto Psychology Clinic. She provides individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling/couple therapy to adults. Dr. Ahmad has extensive experience in assessing and treating emotional and behavioural concerns that range from general issues (e.g., work place stress, relationship conflict, poor self-esteem, procrastination) to serious mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.).

Dr. Ahmad has been providing marriage counseling for over a decade. She also initiated a project to develop a more culturally sensitive approach to couple therapy during her doctoral training at York University and has published papers on her work. She has provided workshops and presentations on the topic of marriage counseling and provided training and supervision to other marital therapists. Dr. Ahmad has been invited to talk about her work in the media.

To learn more about her work visit www.DrSauniaAhmad.com

Healthy Easy Snacks For Toddlers

By: Marzia Shamsi

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 From the time I became a mother for the first time I have been very particular about what I ate while I breast fed my kids to what I fed them when they were young to now at ages 8 & 4. Both my kids started off with solids from 4 month on wards. Their diets included little portions from poached eggs,poultry,fish,fruits,vegetables,puddings & rice all boiled & mashed till the time they fully developed their tastes being able to decide their likes & dislikes. A lot of new parents are normally concerned &  reluctant to start off with solids. My advice to them would be we must understand that from the ages of 4 and 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to get their first taste of solid foods. At this point, they lose the extrusion reflex that is beneficial for sucking a breast or bottle but can shove a spoonful of baby cereal right back out. It is very important for us to note that its the initial stages when they develop different tastes & textures slowly & gradually until they have entered the toddler phase. It is very important to balance their nutritional requirements since they need a little bit of everything  as they are crawling, learning to walk or already walking, running, playing, tripping & at the same time teething. There’s a lot going on in the little body. To balance it all the body requires a lot of energy .

When talking about different nutritional elements in the body fats have a pretty bad reputation, but it’s actually an essential part of every cell in your body. Dietary fat is a concentrated source of energy that’s necessary in a young child’s diet to meet those needs. Babies naturally get more fat because breast milk and formula are higher in fat. So when a child starts to eat more solid food and drink less breast milk or formula, the composition of her diet begins to change to a more balanced ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It’s all about balancing. I have designed few healthy & easy snack recipes for your toddlers that I hope you all will enjoy!

 Creamy Potato & Carrot Croquettes

These potato & carrot croquettes are a slightly fancier version of the potato pancakes. This recipe can be incorporated with shredded chicken or other soft easily digestible veggies too.  All-time favorites with my kids when they were little. Easy to carry around and quiet filling almost replaces a meal than a snack.

  • 1.5 lbs potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes), peeled
  • 1lbs of Carrots peeled
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 oz. package of Cabot cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • Toppings: ketchup and parsley

 

Instructions:

  1. Boil potatoes & carrots  in water until tender, about 30-40 minutes depending on the size.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Mash both vegetables with a fork and add up to 1/4 cup of water if needed to make them stick together a bit more. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper, and mix to incorporate completely.
  4. Form the potato and cheese mixture into 12 croquettes (these will be large but you can also make them smaller.
  5. Coat each croquette in flour, dip into the egg mixture, and cover in breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the croquettes on a baking sheet and generously spray each croquette with cooking spray.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and cheese begins to bubble out

 

Home Style Chicken Nuggets

I have been an anti towards frozen & processed foods  for a long time now. And after learning about its health risks in details at my culinary school it has helped me work harder towards creating home cooked snacks even more. This easy home style chicken nuggets is a favourites among toddlers & little kids

  •  1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 cup (45g) bread crumbs
  • 1 (about 200g) chicken breast fillet, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1 small (about 290g)  potato, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • Salt & white pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • olive oil spray

 Instructions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 200c. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
  2.  Place the egg and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Marinate the chicken for half n hr with garlic powder , salt & pepper Dip a piece of chicken into the egg then in the bread crumbs, tossing to coat. Place on 1 prepared tray.
  3.  Use a 4cm-diameter star pastry cutter to cut stars from the potato slices. You can use any shape cutter you like.  Place on the remaining tray.
  4.  Lightly spray the chicken and potato with olive oil spray. Bake the potato for 10 minutes first then add the chicken and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the nuggets are cooked through and the potatoes is tender. Serve with your homemade dipping or tomato ketchup.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll Ups

Kids normally get bored easily especially when it comes to eating bread, butter & cheese so I thought why not make it more exciting for them.This  is a standard cream cheese roll ups recipe favourite among toddlers easy to digest &  appetizing in its own unique way.

  • 20 slices      white bread, crusts removed
  • 8 oz      package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large      egg
  • 1 cup      sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2      teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup      butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven      to 350. Roll out bread slices with a rolling pin until flattened; arrange      on work surface.
  2. Beat      together cream cheese, egg and 1/4 cup sugar. Combine remaining 3/4 cup      sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl or pie plate
  3. Divide      cream cheese mixture onto bread, spreading about 1 level tablespoon on      each. Roll up bread to enclose filling.
  4. Brush      rolls all over with butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Arrange on      prepared baking sheets. (To make ahead, prepare to this step and cover      baking sheets with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to a week. Do not thaw  rollups before baking.)  Bake until the rollups begin to puff, 15 to      18 minutes. Serve warm.

Hope these easy snack recipes will make their way into your kitchens & into those little belly’s  leaving you with smiling faces & happy hearts.

About the Author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

 

My Women Support – Dedicated to Empowering Women

By Erum Zehra

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As mothers we have a tendency of keeping the needs of our families before ours. While this helps our families develop and achieve their goals, we end up neglecting ourselves. Sometimes this negligence makes us lag behind in life and we lose the sense of achievement and empowerment. Kiran Moid launched her website in 2005 to reach out to women who needed help with empowerment and motivate them to achieve what they want. We at Muslimmoms.Ca interviewed her to learn more about her initiative and efforts.

What is the history behind “MywomenSupport” and when was it created?

When I came to Canada 14 years ago I went through all the phases that a new immigrant had to go through. I went through stress, anxiety, pregnancy and above all adjusting with the new environment. Being a fresh business graduate I applied my management knowledge in this situation and treated this phase of life as the initial stage of management. I developed workshops for moms where they learned time management skills, decision making, leadership, problem solving and how to apply them in their daily life. It was a big success and one can easily see the changes in the life of those women. In 2005 I started MyWomenSupport.com, this was the time when internet was not very common in our community and social media did not exist. We are a registered Non-profit now and our work for the betterment of women in the society is still going on. The thought behind MyWomenSupport is to empower women and motivate them to achieve what they dream.

How can women be empowered?

Empowerment comes from within .Thinking positive and looking at the brighter side that anything is possible if they put their heart into it. Never stop learning: a new craft, a new language or improving your existing language skills, a business course or parenting skills are all ways of self improvement. Learning is food for mind and a healthy mind help you become a better person in every way. So a woman who is well equipped, mentally strong and eager to learn is an empowered woman.

 Can you share some stories of women you have already helped?

I am fortunate to be a part of the Non Profit sector because one can feel the importance of human existence in the society where people are linked without being related to each other and you are connected through feelings and emotions. A long-term relationship is not a guarantee for a healthy relationship. A times you are alone in the presence of all the people around you and you need someone who listen to you without judging you and help you explore different options with you. You get to listen to stories that revolve around betrayal, mistrust, bad decision, lies, authority challenge, self-existence, brutality, cheating and sometimes adventure.

Once a senior woman called and insisted that she will only talk to me .When we talked for the first time I listened to her story. She was a broken woman who had given more than 35 years to her marriage and kids but now she was alone as her husband had been in a polygamous marriage and her real sons had disowned her. She did not have the basic necessities of life. She called when no one was home. I wanted to help her beyond my profession because my heart was superseding the mind at this time but I had to control my emotional self and guide her to make her decision. It was tough but together we did whatever was best for her.

How can you help women facing domestic violence/abuse?

Domestic violence eats a person from inside. They lose their confidence, self-esteem, and strength, mental and physical stability; basically their whole personality is affected. We encourage the person to talk, as sharing your story or problem with someone who knows how to solve it can help them in a big way. Prolonging the situation encourages the abuser to continue with his actions because there is no one to stop him. We guide them step by step and refer the victim of abuse/violence to available resources if we do not specialize in a particular state of affairs. We are fortunate that the government in power is taking some serious steps to support the victim and help is available out there. Please do not keep silent as silence can harm you.

 What are you other areas of expertise?

MyWomenSupport has been helping women to start their own business by providing them basic knowledge and financial help.  Life skill coaching, skill development and career development are some other areas that I support women with. I like to listen to My Women and I am told that I am a good listener. I do not like to leave my clients in the middle of a situation because I work like a friend who is there for you in need.

How can women request help from you?

Our website is http://www.MyWomenSupport.com.We are accessible through e-mail , phone and one to one sessions can also be arranged if required. My direct phone number is 647-830 8425.

 What are your future plans?

Right now we are working with our local government to establish a Women Empowerment Hub which will work as a social enterprise and a BIA (Business Improvement Area) that is focused on women entrepreneurs. This will provide a platform for women to grow and participate in the growth of our economy. We need more female participation in politics, trade, and business especially from our immigrant women.

 How can the community help you?

We are always in search of women with skills who would like to contribute by sharing their knowledge. We can train them so they can help others. This society is so dependent on people who work selflessly to make others happy and we are fortunate that people around us are eager to help but structured help can make a better impact. Volunteering increases the happy hours of your life so if you want to help others please contact us so together we can make a difference in the life of others.

 

 

Asian Style Beef Stew

By Marzia Shamsi

Asian Style beef stew

This quick, yet healthy and delicious Asian beef stew is great, not just for casual entertaining, it also pleases little hungry tummies! I can also assure you that this stew is going to be a wonderful ride of vibrant flavours, a recipe everyone should have in their meal plans.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch  plus 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 4 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 quarter-size slices peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 pounds bok choy
  • 1 pound mushrooms assorted (enoki, shiitake, champagne)
  • 1 pound bell peppers

Method:

  • Cut steak into 2-inch-wide pieces, then slice thinly.
  • Combine 3 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in large bowl. Add steak and stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  • Combine 6 tablespoons broth, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 6 teaspoons cornstarch, vinegar, and next 3 ingredients in small bowl, stirring to dissolve cornstarch completely.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in wok or heavy large skillet over high heat, and add garlic. Next, add the meat with marinade and stir-fry until no longer pink, about two minutes. Transfer to platter.
  • Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to wok. Add ginger and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  • Add bokchoy and stir-fry one minute.
  • Add one cup broth. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2 minutes.
  • Transfer bokchoy to bowl.
  • Add a tablespoon vegetable oil to wok. Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes.
  • Return steak and bokchoy to wok.
  • Stir in the sauce, add to wok and stir until sauce thickens, about 30 seconds.
  • Transfer mixture to platter. Serve immediately with steamed rice or stir fried noodles.

About the Author: 

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

Understanding PMS, That Time Of The Month

Dr. Madiha Haque

PMS that time of the month

Menstruation is a crucial part of every woman’s life that brings with itself a phase of discomfort and mood swings. It is easy to label them as mood swings or a feeling irritable but in reality it involves our bodies’ chemical imbalances that need serious attention. Most of the times these changes are gradual and women try to compensate with more exertion, and other times they are so sudden that it’s easy to identify that something is majorly wrong. Whatever it may be, it needs attention and treatment so a woman doesn’t have to compromise her quality of life.

What is PMS?

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a series of symptoms that occur consecutively every month just before menstrual cycle. The pattern is predictable, hence easily diagnosed. Characteristically the symptoms are diminished just when bleeding starts. If the feeling persists throughout the cycle, then problem is somewhere else. On average every 3 in 4 women experience this at least once in her lifetime, with its peak in late 20s and early 30s and it tends to get worse with increasing age.

Symptoms

In order to figure out if what is happening to a woman just before menstruation is really a disease to be treated, one has to know what supposedly the symptoms are:

Emotional:

  • Exaggerated Mood swings
  • Irritability and depression
  • Difficulty to focus
  • Depression

Physical:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Change in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Headaches and backaches
  • Tender breasts

Diagnosis 

To start with, the patient is requested to keep a ‘menses diary’ to identify a regular pattern. The symptoms necessarily are a hindrance for the woman in carrying out her routinely activities. Before one is labelled with PMS, all other possible diagnosis have to be excluded. These conditions may include thyroid disease, depression, migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe medicines that stop ovarian function, if that stops PMS symptoms as well, that will serve as a diagnosis.

 

Treatment

After firm diagnosis of PMS, treatment is planned according to patient’s needs. Doctors mostly want to start with less compromising measures as medications.
Regularity check: Once patient is aware of the pattern she can regulate her life events accordingly. Not much is  controllable but a number of studies have shown that when person is aware of the upcoming problems she is able to cope up better with it.
Dietary regulation: Emphasis on stress relieving is the key. Food that increase stress level such as alcohol, caffeine, high salt and sugar are to be avoided.  And ones that are good for your body including minerals like calcium and magnesium, and vitamins especially B6 are to be increased.
Medicines:
Pain medications such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve will work for headache, backache, breast tenderness and other cramps.
Contraceptives that just regulate menstruation or ones that stop ovarian function, have a good control but are avoided because of side effects.
Diuretics like spironolactone work well to reduce fluid retention that might cause swelling of hands, feet or face.
Antidepressants like fluoxetine are considered most effective psychological therapy but have no effect on physical symptoms, also these have a number of side effects making them less compliant.

 

Exercise

It is best considered treatment as it gives more fruitful result both physically; in making your heart and body stronger and mentally; by releasing endorphin that boost up your good mood.
No matter how much impediment goes on with your mind and body you have to fight back good, stay positive and don’t let any bodily or brainy deterioration overcome your good sense of being woman.

 

About the Author: 
Dr. Madiha Masood is the mother of four children, two of which are twins. She has previously worked as an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lady Dufferin Hospital and has now undertaken the task of simplifying health issues in accordance with Islamic values.

How (NOT) to Teach Your Children to Play Ludo

By Rahila Ovais

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I am sure all moms from South Asia are pretty familiar with the board game Ludo; the beloved family amusement in life before internet and computers. It was our favorite entertainment during  summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights; where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move. For those of you who don’t know what Ludo is please refer to the game rules here.

Over this past winter break in an effort to keep the kids entertained with a new activity every day and after ruling out Scrabble and Taboo, we decided to have a game of Ludo one night with my kids; MJ 19 years old, MJ2 13 years old and DJ who is 5 years old. You all can probably already imagine how the night went given the ages of the players.

As per the rules, the one who rolls the highest number on the dice goes first and you need to roll a six to get your pieces out of their giant square boxes. Well lo and behold, the little one rolls a six, talk about beginner’s luck!  Not just one six but three times! At this point MJ2 claims DJ must have a trick up his sleeves to be able to roll out sixes every time; she is now determined to find that out by hook or crook. After several cheating attempts she gets her way. Meanwhile MJ still hasn’t been able to roll a single six! She claims that she does not cheat like MJ2.  This in turn makes MJ2 furious and an argument takes place which requires referee intervention. (Kindly note: a normal Ludo game does not require a referee) MJ makes MJ2 lose a turn as payback for cheating; there is another argument and intervention where DJ then draws a map on a paper outlining the order of each player’s turns.

Another rule of the game is you must take out one of the opponent’s pieces in order to enter the pathway to your corresponding “Home”. You can do this by landing on top of an opponent’s piece.  The piece that is taken out goes back to the corresponding player’s giant square box and the player has to roll another six to get it out. For example, if you roll a four and your opponent’s piece is 4 squares in front of you then that piece goes back in.  Again DJ having beginner’s luck is able to keep taking his sister’s pieces out! In fact at one point, he rolls a four and MJ2’s piece is one square ahead of him and he insists that the piece needs to be taken out as it is in his way!  MJ loses her patience at this point. This time, along with intervention there is a lot of begging and babying to get them to continue to play.

By this time the beginner’s luck for DJ has worn off and MJ2 rolls the dice where now she can take his piece out.  DJ does not accept it, claiming she can make one of her other pieces go and leave his alone; MJ2 insists she has to take his piece out to enable her to go “home”. (Rule: if you cannot take out an opponent’s piece before reaching your corresponding “Home” section and you have no other moves available, you will have to go through the entire board again).  We are all at the height of frustrations, trying to explain the rules to a 5 year old and 13 year old (over their yelling and screaming, between fits of laughter). MJ and MJ2 still argue about the rules and little DJ pitching in where he could.  Emotions running high and voices even higher to the point where nani has to interrupt her prayers and come back to intervene.

 In the end, DJ having his patience maxed out, simply messes up all the pieces on the board, claiming the win as he was the only one who had all his pieces out (while all others had only one or two or no pieces out); a full ten minutes of entertainment!

I couldn’t help but reminisce this is exactly how the games used to turn out when we used to play during our summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move.  What mattered most in the end was the laughter over ice cream with chocolate sauce after refusing to speak to each other for two hours.

About the Author

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

20 Confessions from a Mom of … FIVE!

By Khaula Mazhar

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Motherhood is not easy. It is not easy to be mom of one nor is it easy to be mom of five. There is however, a certain number of children where it becomes easier to let go and just roll with it, mainly because you have no choice and  learned that stressing isn’t going to get anything done. I put that number at three. With kid number three, you wonder why you ever worried about maintaining lego-less floors or taking a shower. Whoever is walking on the floor should watch out for himself and baby powder is essentially dry shampoo for moms who haven’t had the luxury of a shower for days on end.

I confess I am that mom, I feel  no shame admitting this. Shame went out the window with the birth of middle child, and with the birth of twin 1 and twin 2  last bits of sanity joined my sense of propriety.  Those are now long gone, and I don’t regret it one bit. If anything life becomes easier when you lose your mind, insanity does have a touch of genius to it. Besides that, for some mysterious reason crazy, shameless mom is way cooler than well organized, prim and proper, perfect mom.

My advice plus confessions to you as a “been there, done that and have survived so far mom” are as follows (BOGO in shopspeak):

1. Your first child will always be the lab rat. Stop feeling guilty about it, you are doing the best you can. What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind, don’t answer that.

2. Your second child was born to whine, it’s a default of being second. Do not be blackmailed by that whining, know that they are just as guilty as their elder sibling. Cotton dipped in olive oil make for good ear plugs if the howling gets too loud. Also keeps your ears clean, and well you know how long it’s been since you last showered, so yeah.

3. We all forget middle child. They end up being the best of the lot, so don’t sweat it. However if you drop them off at their friend’s, it would be a good idea to pick them up, preferably on the same day. Or… eventually. But hey we all need a break sometimes right?

4. I have thrown belongings out the front door when not picked up after I asked several times.

5. I still have baby powder in the house, even though no kid is under the age of eight. Baby powder can be used for unwashed hair, sweaty kids who refuse to shower, inside of smelly joggers, to sprinkle over the liquidy gunk and hairballs the cat coughed up, freshen up a kid after they throw up etc etc. Baby powder is pure magic.

6. There were some clothing items that kid 1 through 5 wore. Yes I believe in hand me downs.

7. I have fallen asleep with three small kids in my lap/arms. You should condition yourself to sleep in any situation, no mercy for the fussy sleepers.

8. I turn leftovers into “fresh” dinners. You should too, and never let anyone know you used leftovers!

9. I let the kids have cake for breakfast once. I slept in. No guilt at all, we were all happy.

10. Should such a situation arise, I will let them have cake for breakfast again.

11. If you forget to wash gym clothes, just throw them in the dryer with fabric softener sheets and hope for the best. Also works with kids’ underwear. Just don’t tell them you forgot to wash the clothes.

12. I reuse my fabric softener sheets. Several times.

13. I always have a secret stash of chocolate just for me.

14. I guard that stash like a dragon.

15. My purse contains every child’s belongings and none of my own.

16. I can quote anything from “My Little Pony.”

17. Plastic bags are a good way to catch vomit in a moving car. Always have a good supply.

18. The bathroom is the first place they look for you, try hiding in the garage instead.  It’ll buy you at least seven minutes alone.

19. Don’t go on Pinterest, those are all LIES! No one can do all that! It is just another Big Pharma tactic to make you take anti-depressants!

20. Love those little buggers, smother them with kisses and hugs, enjoy every second of this time with them, it goes too fast! Don’t regret any thing!

What confessions do you have?

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Recipe of the Week: Ciabbata Bread

By Marzia Rizvi

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The history of bread goes back at least 30,000 years. The first bread produced was probably cooked versions of a grain-paste, made from roasted and ground cereal grains and water, and may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. Descendants of these early flatbreads are still commonly made from various grains in many parts of the world, including Armenian lavashs and Iranian sangaks, taboons, Mexican tortilla, Indian bread chapati, roti and naan, Scottish oatcake, North American johnnycake, Jewish Matzo, Middle Eastern pita, and Ethiopian injera. Flat bread of these types also formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations with the Sumerians eating a type of barley flat cake, and the 12th century BC Egyptians being able to purchase a flat bread called ta from stalls in the village streets.

Today I’d like to share a recipe of one of my favorite bread the ciabatta bread that originates from Italy. This recipe is super easy to make and the best part about making your own bread is that you know what is going in it. If followed exactly the same way as the quantities given. It will turn out to be the best .If you are in a rush and you don’t have enough time for proofing (Wait for it to raise) I’d like to share a little trick with you all. Try to keep the dough at a stable temperature. We sometimes put a bowl of dough on top of the oven covered with a tea towel and on top of a folded towel. Also a preheated and switched off oven to about 30ºC (use a thermometer to measure the inside temperature as your dial on the oven will probably not be very helpful) will work great. Some people build their own proofing cabinet, using an old refrigerator or kitchen cabinet. With the help of a 40W or 100W light bulb on the bottom of the cabinet (warm air rises from bottom to top!) you can easily heat the inside of your cabinet. You can use a simple mechanical thermostat to switch the bulb on and off to control the temperature. Hope you’d enjoy this recipe as much as I do making & eating both. This bread makes amazing sandwiches or can be eaten on its own with simply butter.

Ingredients

Bread Flour   2 1/2 Cups

Fresh yeast     2 Tsp

Salt                  1 Tsp

Olive Oil       3/4 cup

Water             1 1/2 Cups

 

Procedures

Mixing

1-Warm the water to about 37 C. Dissolve the yeast in it.

2-Add the yeast to 1/2  cup of flour(At this point you only add yeast in 1/2 cups out of the 2 1/2 cups of flour and leave the remaining to be added later.

3-Mix the 1/2 cup of dough into a soft dough adding the entire water into the mix until the dough gets smooth.

4-Cover and leave at room temperature until it doubles it size

5-Stir down and add the rest of the ingredients for the dough. Beat for a few minutes to form a smooth dough, which will be very soft and sticky.

6-Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature until doubled in size

 Baking

1-Lightly oil your baking tray. Portion into 550 grams portion, shape into rough ovals, trying to avoid over handling the dough

2-Dust the top with extra flour. Proof at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume. Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

About the Author

Mirzia Rizvi is a single mother of two beautiful children. Lived in UAE for 25 years . Her passion  has been cooking since the age of 12. A graduate in Corporate Laws but decided to convert & become a chef . She is  now  a certified Chef from the School Of Culinary & Finishing Arts in Dubai along with a certification in food & safety from City & Guilds in the UK. Her dream is to own her own restaurant.

Coming Up with a Great New Years Resolution

By  Elaf Salim

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As I watch the snow fall in my backyard, I can’t help but think about the past year, 2015 and all the events that happened changing my life and the lives of people I know. The year has come to an end, wrapping up all our accomplishments and our struggles. If you are a fan of personal growth and development, it is a good practise to set yourself some goals in the beginning of the new year to work on them and hopefully achieve them by the end of 2016. Having hopes and aspirations for the new year is a beautiful habit but if you would like to actually achieve them I have some tips for you.

1-      Step into Reality

It is very important to understand your current starting point, all you have achieved so far and all the strengths and weaknesses you have before you choose your goals. Grab a piece of paper or your journal and start describing your current life. Write about your family, relationships, friendships, health, career and financial situation.

2-      Decide Where You Want to Go

Where do you wish to be by the end of the year? Write down a detailed description of your life and the accomplishments you would like to achieve. If you don’t know your destination, you will end up somewhere else. Also make sure your goals stretch you beyond your comfort zone but are still achievable. For example, if you live in a one bedroom apartment and would like to up-level, you can set a goal to move into your first town house, instead of your dream 10 bedroom mansion. While Allah can absolutely make all your dreams come true and everything is actually possible, it is better to set a goal that you believe you can achieve within a year.

3-      Choose Your Set of Measurable Goals

The key here is to choose a few tangible goals so you are not overwhelmed and to make these goals measureable and specific. For example, instead of hoping to ‘lose weight’, set yourself a specific achievable goal such as, ‘lose 10 pounds’. This will help you a lot in planning and decision making and will keep your momentum going throughout the year.

4-      Write the Detailed Steps

You need to have a plan, in order to achieve these goals by the end of the year. So write down the actionable steps you need to accomplish for each of the goals to come to life. Try to be specific and detailed so you can track your progress throughout the year.

 

Here are some of my goals for inspiration. You may relate to some of them but your goals will be different since you are a beautiful unique human being and your life is different:

-          Spend 1 or 2 hours of quality time with my son everyday

-          Read at least 1 page of Quran everyday

-          Visit friends and family and enjoy their company twice

   per month

-          Take two weeks of vacation and travel back to Egypt

-          Strive to achieve a consistent level of monthly income

   from my business – add your specific number here ;)

-          Eat healthy meals at least 4 times every week

I hope you have a wonderful new year and may God give you all your heart desires.

About the Author:

Elaf Selim is a Software Engineer, a Jewelry designer, a blogger and a Mom. She is the owner of SkiesAndSparkles.com, a handmade artisan jewelry shop. She loves photography, writing, historical architectures and nature in all forms.