Back To School

We usually tend to re-evaluate our lives after every New Year by coming up with new resolutions in an aim of becoming a better person. After our trip to Italy, I learned new things about our children, and it hit me hard in realizing how fast they are growing. Since we had a somehow smooth communication with them, I wanted to maintain this peaceful attitude along the coming school year. I want to have them cherish the moments even if we are in our stressful early morning routine mixed with school work, homework, evaluations, and afterschool activities. When we as parents dread all of this, imagine the impact it has on our children. Like us, they need time and reassurance after those easy and relaxing kind of unorganized summer breaks.

That is why I have planned a new project for this year, and I am coming out with a practical summer resolution. I thought of sharing my ideas with you in the hope that it might be helpful for you too. I also hope this will create an opportunity for you to share your ideas so we can all help one another in having a splendid and relaxing school year.

Talk to you child:

I sat with the boys last week and asked each one of them how they feel about going back to school. I had them write down their worries and concerns. We had a short discussion about how we can manage these fears. For example, my eldest son said that he knew he had a lot of work to be done this year, and he might get bored.  While we talked, I maintained eye contact and encouraged him in finding ways on how he has to manage his work in order to overcome his uncertainties.

SARY ME TALKING

Set the rules:

During our vacation, I realized that reasoning is the only way to have them involved in certain duties. I want them to learn to take the initiative of carrying their responsibilities on their own. That is why, I prepared a set of questions for them to answer, and from these answers we established a set of new rules, that if followed we can exhibit a peaceful house. I do believe that it will be helpful since they are the ones who came up with the answers; not forced or imposed.

I made sure that the questions were short and concise, so they do not get jaded with what we are doing. Here is what I asked them to answer:

  • List three to five changes you need to make to become a better person:
  • List three responsibilities you like to help mommy with at home:
  • How can you help the twins grow?
  • What school subjects you need to work on this year?
  • What is your goal for this year? You can choose three areas – Academics, Sports, Friends.

I had them type them down and added a few related pictures for them so they can be easily visualized.

Reading Time:

This year, unlike before, we agreed on setting a specific time for reading with their dad. They usually read before bed time or in the afternoons when there is no particular work to be done. Recent studies show the importance of having the dad involved for only ten minutes every night. I know it will not be easy for us with all five, but we are determined on having it work.

hadi dany reading

Set the time:

This is an old method which we have used for a while and then by time we just got too busy to apply it. As children grow older, they are more aware of time and they can learn how to manage it if they get the chance to practice time management at an early age. It is a simple and an efficient method. For example, you can set the phone for 15 minutes of puzzle building. When the time ends, the child is free to choose to continue or to stop and have it finished the next day.

timer

Be Patient:

I have mentioned this before, but patience is the key for a successful parenting. It not only gives us the chance as parents to enjoy our children, but it also helps them mature beautifully, feel loved,  and most importantly feel secure. With all the patience I have, I admit that sometimes I just feel that I have had enough. Many are the times when I have the twins tugging on my pants and the boys arguing about some trivial issues, yet I know that this is all part of growing up. If we learn to calm this inner agitation, we will spread it over to them as well. Yelling does not lead to any positive result.

patience

Be Present:

No matter how busy I am, the minute one of my elder boys comes to talk to me or ask me to do something in specific I would leave whatever I have at hand and do it. I took this from my mom who has always been and still is a great shoulder to lean on. Most importantly is that you should do it with passion, and you should not feel annoyed to be interrupted as they are only little for a while.

One important matter I am working on is to completely remove my smart phone when I am around the children. We can easily get bound by its wicked magnetism, and I want to set the good example for them to follow later on.

be present

Set a schedule:

Unlike the previous years, this time I feel I need to have a typed schedule on the fridge. I do not know if it is a matter of age, or a matter of having five, or both, but I need to visualize my life. In the schedule, I have included the activities they have during the week and what they can do during their free time. I feel I need to have them learn to be organized or chaos will demolish us.

Express your feelings:

Hugging them and expressing my love towards them is the oxygen I strive on. I always show them how delighted and proud I am to have them in my life. At the same time, I explain how certain mischiefs make me unhappy, angry, and ask them to help me surmount them. I do apologize from my kids if I say something or talk to them in a mean way. I clarify that for us to have a calm house we need to understand our duties towards each other. I strongly believe that through communication we can deal with a lot of issues and raise mature problem solving citizens.

hug

Have fun:

Since we will be spending a lot of time in the car, I will continue to do what we did during the summer; loud music, sharing jokes, telling them short stories etcetera… After all, we build memories every day, and I want them to possess warm and special ones of their childhood.

When it comes to parenting there is no right or wrong method, but there are many tips which we can use and modify to fit into our routine. My grandmother always repeated a proverb that says, “Raising kids is like grinding on pebbles”.  What a painful simile, yet it is true. Raising children, specifically, in this day and time is one of the hardest occupations a parent can manage.

For this year’s “Back to School” and back to routine, I wish you and myself strength, patience, cheerfulness, success, and mostly gratitude. After all, we are fortunate with all the blessings we have been offered.

Sicily: The Multicultural Connection between East and West

Traveling and visiting new countries has become part of our daily lives. With all the sophisticated lifestyle we take pleasure in, it is easy now to go out and discover the world.

For those who are interested in history and culture, Sicily is definitely the destination sought. Having been ruled and controlled by great powers and empires ranging from the Phoenicians, to the Romans, Byzantines, Greeks, and reaching the Arabs, and Normans, you will be dazzled by the beauty of its Cathedrals, and Fortresses. Each wall, each drawing expresses a multi-ethnic story. Although Sicily today is considered part of Italy, it still has its own distinct culture. In fact, Sicily is a melange of cultures set on an island, and to profit from its exquisiteness you need to plan your trip ahead of time.

italy view

 

We spent two weeks in a house with a pool in Balestrate, a small village next to Palermo, the capital of Sicily. As tourists with five kids, we wanted to make the best of our stay, and enjoy our time. We set our schedule and decided on the cities, historical sites, museums, and other interesting locations we wanted to explore and followed it. We always made it a point to have the children and us relax by the pool either in the morning or in the late afternoon.

pool

Many people wonder how we managed a vacation with five, but let me tell you something: Kids simply love to explore, even if they are toddlers. So the rule is easy; take the decision of enjoying it and positive vibes are spread around you. That is exactly what happened!

In old Palermo, there are many places to visit.  It is vibrant and even chaotic, with its labyrinth tiny roads, and the ancient buildings kneeling onto each other like ageless friends supporting one another. Palermo, on its own, is an eclectic museum of the Mediterranean and Northern European civilization. One remarkable memory was while we explored its tiny roads we could observe the Sicilian’s daily conducts by simply looking through their widely opened doors and windows. So in one house we saw an old man was fixing his bed and in the neighbouring one a lady preparing her lunch. Isn’t that extraordinary?

alley

Next, we went to Corleone where we visited the C.I.D.M.A. museum (International Documentary Center of Mafia and No Mafia Movement) in which we learned all about the Sicilian’ s struggles and fear during the most violent and brutal rule of the mafia clan between 1980 and 1992. Their rights have been abducted and so was their freedom of speech until 2006. It was great to undergo such an experience where our passionate guide could make us live those times through his words and narration. The boys were dazzled by the stories and learned a lot of interesting information.

mafia

Erice is a splendid ancient town located at the top of the mountains of Trapani district. We took the cable car to reach it, and the minute we entered its gate, we felt that we have been transferred back in time. You would think that a knight could come out of its narrow alleys on his white horse. I was delighted that the boys discovered the palace and touched the stones of that prehistoric monument which they have learned about in their history class.

erice

We also, visited Monreale, which is a typical old Sicilian village as well. The uniqueness of those miniature alleyways is spectacular. The twins were overjoyed as they roamed around and followed the pigeons with excitement.

dahlia and pigeons

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest prevailing Norman architecture. It is as if two churches coming from different cultures put together. It is simply glorious.

monreale

Mazara was our last destination. Like all the other Sicilian villages, it has been concurred by many civilizations and it was ruled by the Arabs for a long period of time. So it was not a surprise to hear the Arabic dialect on the streets.

mazara

This originally Phoenician city is now one of Italy’s main sources for fishing. We enjoyed eating freshly captured pink jumbo shrimps and of course the children could not let go on having different types of pasta plates.

No one visits Sicily and misses on enjoying the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. We spent a lovely afternoon with all five of them as they played with the sand and jumped into the vigorous waves. As the boys built a huge sand castle, the twins were busy filling in the buckets for them.

beach

With all those exploration we also devoured Sicilian food and gelatos. Aubergines, tomatoes, basil, and courgettes are the essentials of their cuisine. Being a person who loves vegetables, I savoured the food provided.The ice cream served in a brioche bun is simply mouth-watering.

icecream

We had an ice cream almost every day. The cannoli sweet is not to be missed either. It is a Sicilian pastry served during Carnevale season and it is a symbol of fertility.

cannoli

Finally, we admired the scenery as we moved around. Vine fields stretch along both sides of the high ways.  Meadows with cows and sheep grazing in them were like portraits in front of us.

paysage

We came back feeling physically weary, but happy and content and mostly fulfilled with new experiences and information. And most importantly we have built sweet memories along with our five.

image sicily

Water Detox

Detoxification implies cleansing the body and cellular regeneration. As I have previously mentioned in the article “The Benefits of Water”, water helps the body in getting rid of harmful toxins, adding some fruits and vegetables to your water will help in detoxifying the body by removing impurities from the blood in the liver.

Unhealthy food and drinks put a lot of stress on the internal organs.  Peter Bennett (N.D., co-author of 7-Day Detox Miracle with Stephen Barrie, N.D., and Sara Faye) suggests that everyone should detox his/her body once a year.  It is important to note that in case you decide on a detox program, it is essential that you do it with a trained medical provider.

I personally have never followed a detox program, but I do enjoy adding some flavours to my water especially that I do not drink any type of bubbly drinks. That is why, I thought of sharing a few guidelines that you might find effective, especially during the summer vacation where water is the only element that quenches the body’s thirst and revives it.

Here are three tasty and healthy water recipes that you can do at home. It is preferred that you select organic vegetables and fruits for your drink to maintain a nourishing choice.

  1. The Flat Tummy Water: This is very similar to lemonade except that it has no sugar.

lemon water

6 cups filtered water

1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (Ginger root has anti-inflammatory compounds and aids in digestion)

1 lemon sliced (Lemon juice contains pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to help with weight-loss. Lemon juice also helps get rid of the toxins in your body that cause you to keep weight on. Lemon also has a ton of Vitamin C – www.raininghotcoupons.com)

1 cucumber sliced

1/3 cup mint leaves

  • Let the mixture infuse overnight and drink all the next day.

Fat Burning Detox Drink (www.raininghotcoupons.com )

apple water

This mixture has a peculiar taste, but one can get used to it.

355 ml of water

1 to 2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon (Cinnamon is highly nutritive as it is rich in fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, and helps lose body weight.)

1/2 teaspoon organic honey

Half of an apple sliced

  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 10 seconds
  • Add the sliced apples
  • Drink and then eat the apples.

3. Raspberry Blast

Fill a 1 litre pitcher with water

Add 500 grams of raspberries (Raspberries contain anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that are anti-aging and anti-cancer.)

  • Have it soak overnight and drink it in the morning

The water will directly become red in color, but the next day it will look more like this.

berry water 2

To give this recipe a twist and to please yourself, you can replace water with sparkling water.

There are infusing bottles in the market, also sold online by amazon, that help in preparing detox water which I find practical and can be taken along with you even if you are not home.

detox bottles

There are zillions of water recipes online if you feel that the above recipes do not meet your taste. For more recipes check: www.detoxdiy.com/detox-water

Cheers!