Twins’ First Birthday Ideas: A Nautical Theme

Like today, a year ago, I was rushed to the hospital and had my twins delivered at the age of almost 33 weeks. Acknowledging how difficult it will be for them to smoothly survive outside the cosy and warm womb simply killed me. As I have shared my experience before in an older post, I won’t be talking about that incident, but I will discuss in details how we planned and celebrated their first birthday.

Before I do though, I wanted to highlight a few points on the twins’ development and milestones. The interesting part about having fraternal twins of different genders adds spice to your parenting skills and bounces you with innovative challenges. Looking back at my pregnancy days with them, it was the best in comparison to the times when I was pregnant with my other sons. I did not complain of back ache or had to go through a period of bed rest. It was mostly a slight nausea during the first few weeks but without the annoying heartburn. In contrast, I felt lively and radiant as my belly stretched and proudly expanded to make them grow.

From the beginning, the twins were different in character. My active baby boy was always vigorous and moving around especially right before I went to bed. In the meantime, his calm baby sister would stretch herself a few times just to let me know that she is doing well. Now that they are out and about discovering the world at their own pace, I enjoy remarking the many differences and the few similarities between the two of them.

It is true that they were subjected to the same pregnancy consequences, but evidently genes play a crucial role in their growth.  While he started crawling at around 10 months and is physically ready to walk without support, she enjoys working on her speech and fine motor skills. Another difference I noted was how they express themselves while interacting with their older brothers. For example, he loves it when his brothers do monkey acts and therefore chuckles out loud like a real man while she tenderly smiles at them just to please them. Moreover, their sleeping routines, type of food they like and the way they eat finger foods on their own are entirely different. Luckily enough, they both adore books, music, lullabies, and play time.

The connection the twins have is remarkable. Ever since they were almost three months old, they used to look at each other in such an incredible way filled with love, tenderness, and joy. It is as if they know they have thrived together and now they are enjoying their extraordinary presence.  This unique bond is growing stronger every single day. For example, they would sometimes hold hands as I am feeding them or have a cooing conversation and smile at each other. I am sure that all moms of twins feel that her angels, despite their differences, are connected in a distinctive way that it is difficult to explain. Every time I look at them, I thank the Lord for granting us yet another divine bliss and such a unique gift.

Now back to the birthday planning…

Like all the past birthdays for my boys, I always make a special cake and prepare games even if we are not holding a huge party. Since my mother has always done something extraordinary for us on every birthday, I carried on with this ritual.

For our adorable twins’ first birthday, we decided on a nautical theme party simply because when they were born they have received a stunning set of navy clothes – a cute marine dress for Miss D. and an amazing overall for Mr. R. – from a dear friend.

Of course we all dressed up in nautical clothes to fit in the crew and on board we sailed!! I got the boys and their daddy striped polo shirts, sailor’s neckerchief and navy blue and white Bermuda shorts. I also prepared sailor’s hats with an anchor for each boy.

I myself wore a striped navy blue and white dress as you can see below.

Within a short period of time and the full schedule I have, I managed to set the decoration, bake and decorate the birthday cake, make cookies and order a few salty snacks. I wanted to mark their calendar with a special memory while we enjoyed it as well.

All of this would not have come to life had it not been for my sweet cousin Miss Karen Baz, a highly talented Graphic Designer, who did a marvellous job in preparing the main decoration and name tags of food for the birthday.

Here are some pictures for you to see which might inspire you if you feel like having a nautical theme party:

ART CRAFT:

I prepared two art craft activities for the boys to enjoy.

Sea shells Frames

 

The material needed include:

Small wooden frames from Daiso

Seashells which we collected a few years back when we went to Oman

Glue

The boys had to glue the seashells all around the frame and they did a wonderful job.

Paper Sailboat:

We found this idea on Babyparty.com and Miss Baz prepared and printed all the material needed to make a paper boat. The boys had to fold, cut, and assemble the boat.

They were able to choose either a striped sheet of paper for their boat or the one with anchors- as shown in the model below.

They cut the sails and stapled them in once they folded their boats.

It was fun and easy for them and now they know how to make a paper boat.

boat 2 bday

 

 

 

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GAMES:

Pin the Sail on the boat:

This is a variation of pin the tail on the donkey. Two of my older boys volunteered to draw and color the boat. We then made a number of ready cut sails where we each had a try to pin the sail in its place.

 

Memory Game:

In a basket, I placed different kinds of nautical items. For example, a toy boat, dolphin, fish, a rope, shells etcetera. The boys had to look at the basket for a few seconds, then without looking on a piece of paper they had to write down whatever items they remember seeing. Of course I had to write down the things for my youngest son.

Ocean Discovery:

We were also able to implement a science lesson of showing how objects float in salty water. To do the experiment, you will need:

Two large see-through measuring cups.

Pour 1 ¼ cups water into each measuring cup.

Let your children observe as you add 3 tablespoons of salt to one of the cups.

Stir the salt until it dissolves, and ask them, “What kind of water do I have here?

What does it remind you of?”

Place a hard cooked egg in the plain water for the children to watch as it sinks.

Then remove the egg and place it in the salt water. “What happens?” ( The answer is: The egg floats because the salt made the water denser!!)

Place a hard cooked egg in the plain water for the children to watch as it sinks.

Continue by letting the children try the experiment, using a bar of soap and have them see what happens.

THE MENU:

Since it was a nautical theme party, I ordered tuna and salmon sandwiches from Paul.

I made eyes for the croissants to change them into crabs, and we ate them along with a tasty spread of Crème de Marron – a simple delicacy.

Since the boys love hotdogs and a birthday without them feels incomplete, I made them look like life-saving floaters using puff pastry.

As for the sweets, I made one boat cake

Different types of cookies

 

 

Fruit skewers

A good idea for a return gift could be the following:

The water bottles

Finally, we took many pictures and helped the twins open their gifts. We are indeed blessed to have such wonderful and healthy children…

Easter Chocolate Eggs

Easter is just around the corner, so I started trying out some new recipes for my kiddos. For this one, I made chocolate eggs out of leftovers from a date cake . Simple, fast, healthy, and tasty.

To the few pieces of date cake I added;

1 tablespoon of organic peanut butter

1 tablespoon of organic maple syrup

1 tablespoon of organic corn syrup 

And I mixed them all together. 



Then, using my palms I turned the crumbs into medium sized eggs.

After melting some unsweetened dark chocolate (you can use semi-sweet chocolate if you like a sweeter taste) I dipped the eggs into it.

Then, I sprinkled them with multi-colored pearls. You can use any kind of topping like shredded coconut, or ground almonds, etcetera.



 You can also shape them into tiny chocolate balls. 



Such a delightful snack! Enjoy and Happy Easter.

On Mother’s Day

In the Middle East, the month of March is special as on the 21st, people in this part of the world celebrate Mother’s Day. The nice thing about it is that this day also marks the beginning of Spring. I love the simile drawn between mothers and spring time as her spirit is always blooming and promising of new beginnings.  She is fresh at heart and filled with fruitful potentials. As a genuine person who knows how to enjoy reality and try my best to make good advantage of the present moment, I never wait for special occasions to tell my beloved ones how much I love them. Ironically though, every year on that same day I send my mom a card, or a particular note, or a bouquet of flowers and wish her a healthy life. I also text my friends wishing them blessed days with their families. Funny enough, in May, when France celebrates Mother’s Day, I also send messages to relatives and friends.

However, this year I woke up one night having words jumbling at me, forcing me to jot them down. In fact, these words once combined turned out into a poem for my special mom. So I take the advantage and wish you all mothers, those who are celebrating and those who are not, a healthy and prosperous life.

Being a mother is a glorious mystery, a ride on a roller coaster, a smashing love that has its sweetness and bitterness. In short, it is an awesome job that keeps you at guard and always watchful, but hopefully it will be rewarding at the end. 

 
flower bouquet 

 Here is the poem which I wrote for my mom, and I simply want to say thank you mommy for being you.

I woke up in the middle of the night

Having your angelic face right in front of my sight

I stretched my arms to hold you to my chest

To give you warmth, cuddle you, and rest

The way you used to hold me, and still do

When I was young – and now a mommy like you.

When I look back in time,

I perceive you as my music, my melody, my rhyme.

You enlightened me with faith and wisdom

Gave me the strongest weapons to enjoy life’s Freedom,

You taught me about inner peace

And helped me attain it with ease.

A mom like you is the divine bliss

And this very moment it’s your presence that I miss.

I thank the Lord for granting me such a unique chance

To follow your steps in our irreplaceable dance

As you showered me with a mother’s love, patience, and affection…

How can I express my admiration?

Words would never reflect my endless gratitude

As many as the infinite lines of longitude and latitude.

Your trust and confidence in me

Bloomed magically into me

As I elaborated on my own character

Who is always working on becoming sounder and better.

And all of this is due to your boundless care and everlasting presence…

Now I understand a mom’s endurance

With all its soring pain, loving laughter, agonising concerns, ardent joy

And all that you have went through…

How can I ever thank you

For all that you have done?

You are my splendour, my power, my mommy – my one.  



 R. Hussant

Stranger-Danger: The Online Ghost

Raising children in the 21st century has proved to be a complicated and complex daily challenge that parents from around the world are currently facing. Not only do we, as parents, strive to work on teaching our children good manners, knowing right from wrong, taking the right decisions and building their confidence (the list can go on and on…), we should also make them aware of life’s dangers without having them panic and live in fear. As technology advanced and modernization swept into our daily lives, parents made their children attentive to the danger of talking to strangers.

parents tree

In the internet era, however, there is a new concern, one which we cannot control as it all occurs in the dark chatting rooms, gaming sites and social networks. Online communication, like any other technological progress, has its advantages and of course its disadvantages.  In fact, it all depends on how we utilize it, what we post on it and who we share it with. We are all guilty consumers of technology and the internet; I can’t even imagine how I could be running my errands, staying in touch with my loved ones, and sharing my parenting journey with all of you without online communication.

However, some heart breaking stories have been surfacing in Europe and the United States of America, for instance, as many teenagers are being subjected to horrible situations. These youngsters are meeting dangerous strangers online via social media, gaming sites or chat rooms, and they are developing close ‘online’ relationships with them. Without knowing what they are getting themselves into, teenagers are being slowly lured into trusting paedophiles and other frauds who pretend to be kind, honest and special cyber ‘friends’. Unfortunately, some of these stories have a tragic ending…

hand keyboard

Even though such stories are mortifying, we should not engulf our children and keep them shielded in safety containers. However, it is our duty, as parents, to equip our youngsters with the knowledge and awareness they need to face our modern world. Making our children aware of the advantages of using the internet wisely takes time and a lot of collaborative talking. A good start will be by adopting the way we spread awareness amongst our children regarding the strangers in real life to the strangers they might be exposed to online. We also need to emphasize that the internet does not forget, and might be even described as an online tattoo that we can never get rid of.

internet crossword

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) listed a few ways that might help us enjoy the internet along with our children and keep them safe. (https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk) They talked about many important points which I have summarized as the following:

CHILDREN MUST BE AWARE OF INTERNET SECURITY:

If we do not know how to stay in control of our posts, we never know where and with whom our pictures might end up with. If a child owns a Facebook account for instance, we as parents have to familiarize them with the protection and privacy settings so that their pictures can be under their control and only seen by their friends. We can also recommend that they only add people they have met in real life whom they can trust with their information.

If parents are not aware about such privacy setting, it is highly recommended that they familiarize themselves first and stay up to date with technology. For example, just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine taught me how to keep my What’s App image under control.

The internet is a new and recent discovery of the decade, and there is a new thing to learn every day. We have to be aware of its privacy settings in order to protect ourselves and our children.

TAKE A TRUSTED ADULT:

If our children want to meet the online “friend”, a trusted adult, must accompany them. Who knows what type of person that stranger is?

CYBER BULLYING:

With smart phones all over the place and with everyone using it, friends can easily take pictures of a certain child and use it on the internet. It is true that it is very difficult to control such an act, but it can be avoided if our children know whom to hang out with and what to consent. If the child has been subjected to cyber bullying the following steps help in controlling the situation;

  • Talk to the child about the incident and show your support.
  • Report the incident to the network as they can easily block that person and remove any unwanted photos or videos.
  • If the incident happened in school, then the administration should be aware of it and they can help in dealing with the situation.

However, some children and especially teenagers would not share such a situation with their parents for a couple of reasons. First, if the child opened a social media account behind his or her parents’ back and was exposed to cyber bullying, they would refrain from seeking parental help since they would be afraid of getting in more trouble. Second, some teenagers have claimed that their parents will not understand the situation they are in and prefer to keep it to themselves. Both of these cases are serious and dangerous for the child’s mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, having an open communication between children and their parents is key in preventing such instances from taking place.

RESTRICT THE SITES THAT CHILDREN CAN USE:

Even if we restrict some main sites to protect our children from being subjected to certain images that might upset them, we should continue talking openly to them about the cyber world. The minute children feel that it is not allowed to do something they would want to explore it on their own.

THINK BEFORE YOU SHARE:

Once the information is shared on the internet we never know where the picture ends. In fact we are leaving digital footprints which we cannot control anymore. That is why it is essential we think before we post anything online.

For instance, checking in to places on Facebook informs the world the child’s exact location which might be seen by dangerous strangers as an opportunity to meet the child in real life and charm them there. Mind you that at this point, those dangerous people know the name of the child, how they look like and what they are interested in which will make it an easy task.

 BE INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILDREN’S GAME PLAYING:

Even if it seems difficult for us, but we need to familiarize ourselves with the types of online games our children play, and we can ask if we could join them. It is easier if we get into that at an early stage when they still accept and want us to participate. Later on, they will be able to enjoy having fun without becoming victims of the internet.

When we look at posts on any social network, we know what individuals are up to, where they are going, and how they spend their time. We can even tell how and where things are placed in their homes. For example, I have seen many bedrooms of people whom I haven’t met in person simply because a friend of mine liked the post of her friend’s friend and so on and so forth! This leaves me wondering if this is normal!  If everybody is doing it, then is it the appropriate alternative? What is the point of having people know where we are heading or what we are doing? Do we no longer respect personal privacy? And most importantly why are we over exposing ourselves to people who might turn out to be wicked and mean us harm?

I am not here to criticize anyone or to play the role of the sage on the stage as I do respect people’s choices and decisions, and what they do is none of my business. I am also not stating that we need to abandon social networking and online gaming because it has some great advantages. However, it is worthy to acquire lessons from other people’s mistakes and be pioneers ourselves in the choices we take in our daily lives.

courage crowd

In my opinion, social networking in the Middle East is boosting curiosity, jealousy, and competition among its participants. Many are the times when I hear people acknowledging how much stress and peer pressure they are enduring because they want to do better than others who might have bought a new car, or held a fabulous party, or traveled to a fantastic island and of course posted every detail online. Worst of all is that we are showing our kids that it is acceptable to post personal moments, but when they become teenagers and want to post something which we believe is inappropriate, we start setting our strict rules. There are countless privacy options which can be utilized that help us limit the exposure of our lives online. Let us set the example first and have them realize the importance of using the internet wisely.

We are still considered to be lucky as we are living in a safe country and surfing the net can be somehow controlled. However, things move fast and what people and children are facing in the west might soon be knocking at our doors. Again, I am not saying that we need to freak out, but we need to spread awareness to our children and learn how to use the internet without subjecting them to any danger or bullying.

The era of the internet is the new generation’s lifestyle. We cannot live without it, but we can manage it in a way which suits us best by being involved with our children’s online activities. That is why we should attain the appropriate choices that we consider as the safest for our children.


internet.jpg security

In a nutshell, as taken from the CEOP website, here are some recommendations for parents:

  • “Talk to your child about what they’re up to online. Be a part of their online life; involve the whole family and show an interest. Find out what sites they visit and what they love about them, if they know you understand they are more likely to come to you if they have any problems.
  • Watch Thinkuknow films and cartoons with your child. The Thinkuknow sitehas films, games and advice for children from five all the way to 16.
  • Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills.
  • Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Children grow up fast and they will be growing in confidence and learning new skills daily. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.
  • Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to discuss boundaries at a young age to develop the tools and skills children need to enjoy their time online.
  • Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space. For children of this age, it is important to keep internet use in family areas so you can see the sites your child is using and be there for them if they stumble across something they don’t want to see.
  • Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Make sure you’re aware of which devices that your child uses connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection, or a neighbour’s wifi? This will affect whether the safety setting you set are being applied.
  • Use parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and they are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly. Find your service provider and learn how to set your controls.”

nspcc.org.uk

http://smallbusinessbeginnings.blogspot /

 http://superspamfighter.blogspot.ae/2013/04/remove-wormwin32confickergene-know-how.html

Peach Pie

If you are having a brunch or some friends over for a cheese and wine evening, here is a delicious and super fast recipe that I managed to create out of whatever combination I could find in my fridge. 😊

Ingredients:

1 egg
Pinch of vanilla pod
Pinch of black pepper
100 grams whipped Philadelphia cheese or goat cheese
150 grams honey and pecan Philadelphia cheese
1 puff pastry roll
3 peaches
Honey

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Method:

Beat the egg along with the vanilla and black pepper. Fold in both types of cheese.
Spread the ready-made crust in a round pan.
Prick the crust all over with a fork.
Spread the mixture.

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Slice the peaches and line them on top of the pie.

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Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden in color.

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Cut a slice. Drizzle with some honey and enjoy!

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