The Day After

Dear Kids,

I’ve logged on to my blog after a year of hiatus. “I’ve been busy” doesn’t begin to encompass the grind that I have been going through ever since we left the mountains and returned to the potholes. Last year, in a matter of weeks, our family relocated across the country, moved into a new home, started new roles in our careers, began daycare, and went back to graduate studies. While I question my sanity on a daily basis, with serious concern for my mental health, I remember that everything I have decided to do has been with free choice and a conscious effort to set a good example for pretty much anyone out there who has goals to attain. Needless to say, you, my children are my greatest motivations.

Today however, I feel that somehow as a mother I have failed you, because humanity has failed you. I find that when I wish hard enough for something to happen, and if I say it out loud enough times, it happens. But with these current events, I wasn’t optimistic until the last moment. I spent only the last couple of days giddy at the thought of witnessing the election of the first female president. I intended on leaving my night class early to watch the election with your father and a bowl of popcorn, bringing victorious Timbits for my colleagues the morning-after, and possibly even purchasing a t-shirt with the American flag on it, because the hypothetical scenario I had created in my mind was so sweet. It was going to be such a privilege to be a young woman during this era. America was going to “be great again”, Hillary will have shattered the glass ceiling, and I would be a unicorn living in a fantasy world where I could continue conquering anything I set my mind to. Most of all, my children could grow up saying that in their childhood, a woman had publicly defeated a misogynistic and racist clown, proving that good people prevail.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it all went down and I have spent all day pouting in the sorrow of Hillary Clinton’s loss. I’ll get over it, because I believe that after darkness there is always light. And continuing on the path of setting an example for you kids, I will remember these wise words of the honourable Prophet Mohammed: “Those who enjoin right will be oppressed, and those who condemn vice will be suppressed. Hence, strengthen your faith for that time, and cling to faith as you would clench on for dear life.” The future seems scary right now, but we can’t let fear hold us down. When you’re older, I want you to look back at this day in history, and this post that your mama has written for you, and cherish all that good people have contributed to humankind. Without forgetting how bad people strengthened us, be proud of your roots and your identity. Know that education trumps ignorance, acceptance trumps judgement, kindness trumps bullying, love trumps hate, and faith trumps fear. Your parents and loved ones have taken the huge responsibility to steer you in the direction of what is good for you, and what will aid you in being good towards others. While hateful people might have the liberty to spread darkness in their path, don’t ever let that hold you back from following the light in yours. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech today, “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” My dear little ones, you are nothing short of worthy and capable of moving mountains.

With Love,





























































The B-Word

Babies and bellies galore and it’s only January! What an exciting time. I get so giddy when I hear of someone being pregnant or even going into labour. I know, I’m a nut. I feel like I’m part of an unspoken sisterhood and hey, I just love sending my sisters positive vibes! As busy as my days get, I love catching up with my mommy or mommy-to-be friends. It’s so important to have a go-to support system which includes a fellow mom (and by mom I’m not referring to someone born in the 1950s or 60s). There are some things that are minimally, if at all, discussed before a woman gives birth, and sometimes it’s best to hear those truths from a girlfriend, instead of pushy nurses or grandparents! Now I’m not talking about the new shapes and sizes your lady parts will take, or the surprise leaks. I’m talking about the joys and sorrows of the B-word. Breastfeeding.

I’m not an expert but I have had the good fortune to see both sides of the coin. Nursing your baby can be 1) a straight hit, 2) a tumultuous journey to a hit or, 3) a tumultuous journey to a miss. But it’s never a straight miss because mothers aren’t given the liberty to leave it at that. We are urged to try, try, and try again. With good reason of course. Breast milk is custom-made by the mother’s body for her child, packed with nutrients and antibodies. There is an abundance of benefits to feeding your child breast milk. Check out what the Public Health Agency of Canada has to say about it if you need more convincing. When things go awry though, it can be as frustrating as it could be rewarding. Those hazy, tiresome, discouraging days following childbirth make you feel like you’re the lone soldier on this sometimes cruel mission to breastfeed- trust me it wasn’t easy for me the first time. But I’m back to my senses now, and believe me when I tell you that you are not alone! I’ve come up with tips for the Top 6 Challenges that could make your journey with nursing quite the roller coaster ride, as they did for me.

1. The baby won’t latch. Remember that your little bundle of joy is as new at this as you are. He or she might need your guidance and especially your patience. Be mindful of his/her body temperature. Suckling is quite the workout for their little bodies so don’t overdress them at the time of feeding. You’re probably a sweaty mess too, which can add to the potential discomfort. In fact, it’s recommended to undress them to their diapers for maximum comfort and to keep them awake. Tickle your baby’s cheek or toes to remind them to keep going!

2. Your milk supply is low. You should keep yourself well-hydrated and don’t diet! Juices, milk, and especially water are beneficial to keeping your milk supply going. I had been advised by my doctor to drink a full glass of water right before feeding. My mother used to encourage drinking milk and mother-in-law encouraged soups. Some women even take fenugreek pills, as it is linked to promoting milk flow.

3. It may happen intermittently which can cause blocked ducts. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. My little guy wasn’t (and still isn’t) keen on eating much. He always lasted 10-15 while nursing and I don’t think he was getting much because my supply was low. All his on and off in those early stages kept me engorged here and there, ultimately blocking my ducts and giving me DUN-DUN-DUN mastitis. I will never forget that day. Pumping, massaging, cold compresses, and at worst, antibiotics will have to conquer this challenge.

And if all does go well…

4. Pump and introduce the bottle right away. Second time around, I had non of the above-mentioned issues. Being without friends and family though, I didn’t put importance on bottle-feeding because I thought that I wouldn’t need the freedom and the breaks. Oh but 8 months later is it ever a regret! I know time is short when all you want to do is sleep, but try to dedicate a few minutes to pumping and bottling your milk. That way your little one won’t be overly attached to your body and others can help with feedings.

5. Expect less sleep, less rest, and a more dependent baby. This is mostly true. Nursing your baby can give you quiet moments in the day when you have no choice but to sit down with pillows propped up behind you, but you’re also more likely to have a baby who wakes for feedings at night and needs your particular attention more often. This has been my personal experience, as compared to my first born who mostly drank formula, slept through the night, and was quite independent.

6. Be prepared to be hungry all the time. Losing the baby weight had been a cloud over my head from the moment I left the hospital until I decided to just let it go for now and focus on being happy and active for my children. The biggest challenge after lack of sleep has been dealing with the hunger pangs. I avoided eating “too much” at first but it wasn’t working for my energy level and it definitely wasn’t going to benefit my exclusively breastfed baby. While junk should still be avoided, do not diet! Try these for a healthy boost.

Finally, what do parents do when breastfeeding just won’t work? After speaking with lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, others you trust, and most importantly your partner, things still may not flow (pun intended) the way you’d hope. So infant formula has to be the route to take, and don’t feel bad about it! Infant formula is an alternative to breast milk, full of vitamins and nutrients. In fact formula even has vitamin D, unlike breast milk. Read as of page 4 at this link to find out the pros and cons of formula-feeding.

I’ll end with this: bonding with your baby will happen regardless. No matter how you feed your precious baby, he/she will love you, need you, and want you just the same. Do not fear a disconnect from your child if breastfeeding is not a hit for the two of you. What baby needs from mommy is love, warmth, and her strength. That doesn’t mean that you have to get up and cook dinner with one hand while Swiffering with the other. It means you have to believe in yourself. Your care, worry, and perseverance proves that your maternal instinct is switched on and the well-being of your baby is your priority. But pressuring yourself to breast feed perfectly and exclusively, may not work. The mental and emotional strain alone will be trouble for both of you. There is no right or wrong answer to how this mothering thing works, and you are definitely not alone on this ride.


New Year, Old Me


I’m not big on New Year resolutions because I feel that change should come with experience and reflection, and not the arrival of a new date. Life should be lived in moments, and not years. I believe one should really dig deep into their core and find out what makes them unhappy or incomplete and fix it with patience instead of a due date. With all that said, I’m considering making an exception to that perspective this year!
A lot happened in my life in 2014 . On an emotional level, I think it was a turning point for me. I strongly felt every emotion in the book last year, all for valid reasons. Joy, loneliness, pride, sadness, love, fear, you name it. But among all these feelings I think I have been missing self-satisfaction.
Sometimes I feel that I might lose myself in the craziness that is my life nowadays. Naturally, we all change when we become parents. I think it’s impossible not to. But my fear for several months has been that living away from my support system will eventually lead to me becoming an introverted zombie. I worry that being home all day, all night with the never ending duties of motherhood will create a habit of self-neglect and perpetuate the low self-image that developed when I was pregnant.
Let me elaborate. During my second pregnancy there were weeks where I felt like I was flirting with prenatal depression, which in turn created a fear that I may be at risk for postpartum depression. All this only made me feel disappointed in my unusual lack of strength. And then I questioned if this was the beginning of a new person. A person who doubts herself, internalizes feelings, and has low self esteem.
Looking back, I know that I was a hormonal hot mess and I’m happy to report that the deeper feelings of sadness and low self-image are gone (largely thanks to my fantastic husband). But every now and then I catch myself feeling dissatisfied with the way I look, my lifestyle, and doubting that managing my kids will get easier.
Thus I’ve decided to join the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon and make a promise to myself. Instead of adopting the “new year, new me” motto, I’m going for “new year, old me“. I’m going to do everything I can to reconnect with the person I was pre-motherhood. I liked that person! She was funny and goal-oriented. She was a huge proponent of “me time”. Nothing life threw her way was a burden, just momentary challenges. So this is what I resolve to do in 2015: achieve mental and emotional peace by cutting myself slack. Maybe I’ll find myself a hobby, read a bestseller, or paint my nails more often. I’ll start with the small things for now and eventually, I’ll work towards conquering a mountain or two.

The Darkest of Days

How blessed am I by the favour of the Almighty to be woken up at 4am today by my healthy and hungry 7-month old for her routine feeding. And how blessed is she to have the warmth of a crib, in the warmth of a safe home, and to be in the arms of her mother without having to even cry for milk. It was a peaceful and typical few minutes as I nursed her back to sleep, scrolling through my newsfeed to see what the morning had in store for me today. And I was punched in my core with a tragic status that a cousin in Pakistan had posted minutes earlier. Children? School? Shooting? Taliban? None of this made sense then and probably will never make sense to any of us sane people.
My heart breaks for the young lives that were senselessly lost, and my heart aches for the surviving victims that heard, saw, smelled and were touched by the barbarism that infested the Army Public School in Peshawar this morning. But most of all, my heart bleeds for the parents.
When we become parents, from the moment we learn of the pregnancy, we start to form an idea of how the future will look. How it will all change, how it will be busier, and how it will shine. A child becomes the center of his mother’s universe as soon as he forms his temporary abode in the womb. Every kick, every flutter, every hiccup that the pregnant mother feels is loaded with hope, dreams, and prayer. She daydreams about his face. She wonders about his smile and his smell. A mother and a father may giggle at the thought of this little being they created, curiously crawling into unfriendly corners, or laughing at the sight of water pouring out of a faucet. A father will plan to take his child out for walks in the park. He will think about all the lessons he will have to teach this young person and how he will help with homework. Parents will worry over things as common as coughs and stumbles and celebrate milestones such as sports victories and passing grades. They’ll share their plans for their child’s long-term future: “I want him to be an engineer.” Or, “I want her to have a fairytale wedding.” And the most popular sentiment of all, “I want him to have everything I didn’t have.”
These are the thoughts and feelings that unite all parents, of all children, all over the world. But the mothers and fathers of the 132 children we lost in Peshawar today won’t be able to see their visions for their children become a reality. Those dreams were massacred today. Among those children could have been scientists, leaders, humanitarians, and so SO much more. All we know now is that these parents will have a void in their hearts and in their homes that will never ever be filled. The dreams they once had for their beloved children have now vanished in the wake of this tragic nightmare.
So tonight I reflect on my own dreams for my little ones and I adjust them to keep up with the time and world we live in. I fluff up and colour my dreams like bright cotton candy to contrast the darkness of this world. Yes, I want them to have the kind of education, lifestyle and faith that brings them success and contentment. But for the sake of my children’s well-being, I also dream of a radical, positive change in the world. A world that is free of violence and intolerance. I dream that differing beliefs do not divide, but illuminate this world.

26 Do’s and Don’ts of Putting My Baby to Sleep

1. Do turn the lights off.
2. Do shut the door.
3. Do have an open mind.
4. Don’t have your hopes high.
5. Don’t sit on the rocking chair.
6. If you do sit, try rocking the chair.
7. But usually, don’t rock the chair.
8. Don’t just stand.
9. Don’t sway.
10. Don’t bounce.
11. Don’t jog in place.
12. Don’t do lunges.
13. Don’t pace back and forth.
14. Don’t dance.
15. Don’t sing.
16. Don’t shush.
17. Don’t hum.
18. Don’t hold upright.
19. Don’t cradle.
20. Don’t cuddle too close.
21. Do hold tight when she arches her back.
22. Don’t use the “cry it out” method, it’s evil. Or,
23. Do use the “cry it out” method because it’s genius.
24. Don’t be noisy by chatting.
25. Don’t be pathetic by begging.
26. Do try all of the above just in case one of them works.


Life & Cookies

imageNot having a smartphone at my disposal has frankly been a breath of fresh air these last fourteen days. My husband kept calling me a social media addict and I persistently begged to differ. But I see now that although the word “addict” is strong, I was dependent. I have been super homesick for a couple of months and maybe digging my nose into my phone was helping me pass my days and block out the noise of tantrums and Elmo. Ever since I lost my phone though, I have vowed to grow up and smell the coffee. Or in my case, the tea. This past week+, I’ve brought the soothing warmth of herbal tea into my life. It’s been a refreshing change to my diet. I decided to stop being stubborn and old fashioned and embraced our dishwasher. It has been LIFE CHANGING. Here I am now, no phone and no dishes in the sink. Lots more time to REST. I’ve also played and danced and laughed A LOT with my toddler and he’s been much better behaved. I’m wondering now if there is a correlation between my occupation with my phone and his bratty demeanor. Lots of food for thought there. Speaking of food, I’ve brought baking back into my life. Baking and I have a love-hate relationship. I go on these spurts where I try, I fail, I write off. But with rest comes patience and for me, ambition. So I baked an apple cinnamon loaf. Messed up a bit but my husband liked it so I went on and tried something else. Cookies.


I had a pile of regular (without nuts) M&Ms – who eats those?? – from a sizable box of Halloween chocolates we got for free with our groceries one day. So I decided to Pinterest some baking ideas and found this awesome and easy recipe from How Sweet It Is. You can check out the recipe directly on the website, but I wanted to share a few adjustments I made/would make.

First, the recipe includes baking soda. I don’t have baking soda at home (the one in my refrigerator is not suited for baking), so I used 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. I read somewhere that you can use 2-3 times more baking powder to substitute the baking soda. It worked out just fine for me!

Next, this recipe’s originality was that it tells you to roll each portion of cookie dough into a ball and then tear it apart. The halves are then pressed together “back to back”. What I missed was the part where you have to squish them together. SQUISHING IS IMPORTANT. I didn’t do that and so the top halves of some cookies toppled and then melded together in the oven, looking like a pair of Siamese cookies. I think the tearing and squishing technique ensures a fluffy cookie with a chewy center. Yum.

Finally, I left the cookies in the oven 3-4 minutes longer than instructed and they were to my liking, but that’s up to you. Just don’t over bake! The cookies turned out soft, rich, and deeelicious.

On a side note, I only baked half the cookie dough at first. I froze the rest by rolling it into a big ball and tightly wrapping it with cling wrap. When I wanted to bake the rest (4 days later), I put the dough in the fridge a day ahead to let it thaw. It was just as moist before baking and just as chewy after baking!

Hubby's shot.
Hubby’s shot. Not bad.
My shot.
My shot. Pinterest schminterest.

Needless to say, these cookies were a huge hit at home. But a surprising thought has dawned on me as I write this post: baking this time around has been metaphorical to my moving to BC. Exciting and full of expectation at the start. Then a wave of discovery, enjoyment, and satisfaction. Now giving me an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Too much butter, too much sugar, and too far away from everything that makes me feel whole and healthy.


karma_dominoDear scumbag-who-stole-my-phone,

Today I set out for a brisk walk to the mall with my babies, with plans to give my son the chance to play in the mall’s indoor playground. He LOVES going there, and that’s why my spirits were high when I left the house at 1:00 sharp this afternoon, punctually on the timetable I had set for myself this morning. If you are a mother, or are around a mother of youngsters, you must know how RARE it is to be on the ball with outings and schedules. I even managed to put Zaky to sleep in 5 minutes right before heading out so that he could nap peacefully during our 15-20 minute trek. Zara didn’t cry, as she sometimes does as soon as I start putting my shoes on. Once outside, the weather was absolutely pleasant and mild which further lifted me up, as my friends and family back home seem to be complaining of snow and slush. I was feeling blessed and grateful for everything.

I was even looking forward to picking up my parcel from the mall’s post office. Receiving parcels is always a delight, whether its a surprise gift from someone back home, or an online purchase I’ve been expecting. But I only got around to opening the package hours after I got home because my mind was so preoccupied by you stealing my phone, most likely at the post office.

You know what else I was excited about today? Seeing my husband. He never comes home early from work. Never ever. Today was that blue moon when he was coming home quite early, and though I wasn’t going to be home to welcome him, I was super duper excited to see his smiling face when we got back from our playtime at the mall. But when you stole my phone, my vibe was killed. I called my husband from a store and when he picked us up, I asked him not to look at me – because we both knew I would start crying if he did.

What was supposed to be a perfect day became yet another bump in the road for me. I got this phone a couple of months before my first baby was born. It contained over a thousand photos of both my babies, after I recently dumped nearly another thousand on a hard drive (THANK GOD). Those photos and dozens of recent videos were the special moments that have kept me grounded and sane throughout this whirlwind phase of early motherhood. You took them like they were nothing.

Now I’m not going to wish ill upon you. As angry as I am with you, I will not wish for you to trip and crack your skull. I will not wish for you to cut your finger and bleed profusely when chopping an onion. And I will not wish for you to fall down a long flight of stairs. And even though, thanks to you, my son’s playtime was cut WAY short, I will not wish for you to get hit by a bus. Instead, I will take the high road and make the most out of not having a smartphone for a little while. I will fold that pile of laundry that has been sitting in the basket for three days. I will declutter the top of my dresser so I could see the surface of it again. I will take the time to stare into my daughter’s mesmerizing eyes a little longer when she looks up at me with complete infatuation. I will wrestle, tickle, and act silly with my son until our tummies hurt from laughter. I will listen more attentively to my husband’s daily office tales that I’m sure he waits all day to come home and share with me. I will make the most out of this much-needed time away from social media.

I admit that lately I had been getting quite attached to my phone. Ever since coming back from our visit to Montreal, I have been increasingly homesick as the days go by. Staying connected on Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram made me feel like I was still involved in everyone’s lives and not left out. Your theft was divine intervention. That’s what makes this situation ok for me. And when karma pulls the proverbial rug from under your feet so swiftly, that it knocks over a glass vase that shatters into a thousand pieces, one of which flies into your eye, as you fall and break your back and suffer a concussion, don’t worry. Be gracious and find the silver lining.




Now I Know My A,B,C,D!

Lately my 21-month old has been singing his alphabet(his abbreviated version). It’s adorable considering I’ve been singing it to him since he was born, but yesterday he demonstrated a level of comprehension which blew me away! Needless to say, the teacher in me has been working on letter recognition with the tot and I’m beyond thrilled that some results have shown.

photo 1He walked into his room and looked up at this wall and let out a loud gasp. After which he said with a big smile “A-B-C-D!” Boy have I been marveling at that moment ever since! I am so proud that he recognizes letters in general and understands the concept of them being part of a particular category of symbols. Below are some simple tools I’ve been using to help him learn the alphabet.

IMG_9249-0.JPG I found these foam letters at Dollar Tree (loving it more than Dollarama) for only $1.25. They’re a decent small size, perfect for little fingers to point to and manipulate. I’ve only been going over letters A-G with him so far. I have overheard him “studying” but since I have also caught him chewing on them, I have them tucked away out of reach!

IMG_9251-1.PNG Next, I noticed that he’d stop playing to tune in to this PBS Kids program called ‘Super Why’. In a nutshell, it is about a crew of super heroes, “super readers” who solve problems through the power of reading. It is an interactive program. Although Zaky does not realize that, he has been engaged lately because he sees alphabet letters all over the tv screen! He loves repeating the letter names when he hears the characters saying them. If you don’t have PBS, you can definitely find episodes on YouTube.

IMG_9248.JPG I went to Chapters and had a specific type of ABC book in mind. I really wanted the letters to be large, colourful and easy to recognize. Often times alphabet books are stuffed with images and art, and I feel that it could be too much stimuli for a little person trying to learn one concept at a time. With the help of a salesperson, I found this book that was better than what I was looking for. It allows readers to trace the letters, giving them a “multisensory experience that builds muscular memory and the dexterity needed to control a crayon or pencil”.

IMG_9268.JPG Finally, I found these flashcards at Dollar Tree for $1.25 as well. Truthfully I haven’t used them yet, but I have them in my bag of tricks as yet another method of exposing Zaky to the alphabet. As you may have noticed, once Zaky got to them I learned very quickly to keep them out of reach as well. The kid’s a monster, remember?

Now I’m not setting out to create a little genius (although I know my husband would love that). I also do not believe that a toddler needs to recite and recognize the entire alphabet before the age of 2. What I’ve been doing here is banking on my son’s current interests. It’s the best time for exposure because he is intrinsically fascinated and as we know, at that age the mind is a sponge. With that said, don’t hesitate to jump on teachable moments that come your way too!


I write this as I rock my toddler to sleep. It’s been a very long, rainy, dark and lonely Monday. The day went smooth, without any tantrums or messes. But it’s the bedtime routine that’s tricky when you have a toddler and a baby, and you’re by yourself (daddy will be home late tonight). It can get ugly.

Tonight Zaky was very very excited after supper and decided it would be fun to run into my bedroom and keep slamming the door shut everytime I tried to get in. And once I did get in, he dashed into the master bathroom and closed the door – with him inside. It was only a matter of one second but that’s usually all it takes for accidents to happen, right? Don’t worry, nothing happened except I opened the door and snapped at him with that scary mom face I’ve mastered. Outburst #1.

Bath time had to start and finish before the baby got fussy in the bouncer. It was going well until Zaky decided he didn’t want the towel around him. Meanwhile Zara started to fuss, my patience wore off and I lost my temper. Outburst #2 and a crying baby.

We’re all finally in the nursery ready to call it a night. Baby successfully falls asleep and toddler seems cooperative too. Until the tossing and turning. When I remind him sternly (ok it was more than stern) that it’s “dodo time”: outburst #3. ‘Holy bananas please don’t wake Zara you little rascal!’ is truthfully what I’m thinking, until he gives me his momma’s boy pout with the arms-open-wide plea to be held. And within moments of rocking in my arms, he’s out like a light.

At this point you might be wondering if I’m counting my outbursts or his. I’m not even sure myself! Frankly, I can get consumed with desperation at the end of the day. I just need them to sleep so that I can “start” my day! That quiet, grown-up time is so precious.

Many mothers would agree that once they are peacefully sleeping, you sometimes want to wake them up with your kisses because they’re so darn cute. I have those feelings most on nights like tonight when I feel bad for losing my temper with my spirited boy. I feel regret when I reflect on my actions as a parent in the last hour. I could have handled his misbehaviour differently. I feel guilty for making him cry, when I know that he was just acting like a tired almost-2 year old. I know I’m flawed but there is a bright side.

One of the first lessons my son taught me was forgiveness. The purity of a child’s heart is overwhelmingly beautiful. I learned this on a night when my husband was in Vancouver and I was alone with Zaky and pregnant with Zara. I was shocked at my impatience and went to sleep convinced that my son will hate me in the morning. But he didn’t. He was so happy to see me and wanted to play and cuddle. I learned then that yes, he loves me. He accepts me. It’s unconditional. It’s pure. I learned that forgiveness doesn’t have to be a choice, it could be instinctive. We all make mistakes, even parents. Forgiveness is not an excuse to make deliberate mistakes! But forgiveness liberates. On a small scale, it makes you happy. On a larger scale, it can give you a new beginning. With the same purity that our children innately forgive, maybe parents should forgive themselves too.