Saturday, August 29, 2015

Omar and Shareef's appointment with Dr. Sahar Jumean, Paediatric Dentist and contributing consultant to Family Flavours Magazine. I was brought up hating doctor visits but kids only love Dr Sahar! And she sat with me for a good amount of time to offer helpful advice - that kind of expert consultation, especially coming from a mother of three kids, is far more beneficial than anything impersonal online sources could give.

Confessions of a Dentist Phobic Mama

Did you know that dental anxiety is ranked 5th among commonly feared situations? Growing up fearing all doctors, the smell of a dentist’s clinic even today sends me running for the door. 

This is the scenario in the dental clinic during the 1980s of my childhood: Fearful child (me) walks into the dental clinic. The child keeps clinging to the parents and starts crying. The parents lift the child, put her on the dental chair. Everyone present scolds her and then holds her for the treatment. It is this kind of approach that led me to develop a permanent fear of the dentist. 

Yet when it is time for me as an adult to take my own kids to the dentist, I fall into the same tendency that traumatized me growing up - forcing the toothbrush on my child as he kicks and screams and forcing a doctor’s visit on my two year old whose immediate reaction is piteous crying, forceful screaming and uncontrollable shivering. And my child isn’t typically a stubborn child or one with behavioural problems. 

My angel today came dressed in casual jeans and top under a stylish dental coat with smiley teeth hanging by a thin thread (tooth floss!). She clearly didn’t just have expertise in dentistry but also understood child behaviour and how to interact with my fearful child. 

Paediatric Dentist Sahar Jumean, an expert consultant for Family Flavours magazine, gave her time and patience to Omar (7) and Shareef (2). It was a breeze with Omar as he quickly bonded with her as she took him on a dental journey in her “magical” chair and equally magical exam gloves that blow up. To Omar, he was more focused on Dr Sahar, the magician, than the dental equipment surrounding him. 

Shareef, however, was not so enthusiastic, even after exchanging laughs sitting on a Colgate beanbag with soft, plush toys in the corner. When it was his turn, insecurity took over and he refused to sit in the dental chair or open his mouth. He clung to me like glue. 

Dr Sahar said he could sit on my lap for the examination but she quickly changed course when she saw his phobia. “We don’t want to instil a lifelong fear of the dentist,” she said and directed us outside into the reception area where Shareef wasn’t afraid. That did the trick – with assurance, stickers and plenty of smiles, Dr Sahar got him to open his mouth and both boys left happy to show off their pearly whites – and were even overjoyed to pick up their toothbrushes that evening!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why I Don't Tell My Sons "You're So Cute/Handsome"

I sometimes post pictures of my boys Omar and Shareef on my facebook page, images that capture a special time or place for us as a family. And I often get comments like “handsome boys”. I know these comments come from well-intentioned hearts and I take them as compliments. 

But when I started to actively take notice of the times and circumstances I heard compliments toward children, remarks were overwhelmingly “you’re so cute/handsome/beautiful” and “you’re so smart/clever.” I will tackle the latter in a future blog entry but for now, I’ll share with you why I don’t want the former: 

I don’t want my kids to think their worth depends on measuring up to someone else’s ideas of beauty

I don’t want my kids thinking they are superior to everyone else or are entitled to special privileges

I don’t want my boys to think that physical beauty is more important than kindness, fairness, critical thinking, creativity, courage and integrity

I don’t want my kids to conform to a world that often regards (a narrow definition of) physical attractiveness as a precursor to success or what makes people worthy of love

I don’t want to impose my own impressions of beauty on my sons because I want them to be open to a world of possibilities greater than the one I know 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

9 Sweet Years to Celebrate!

Anniversary celebrations begin as we commemorate nine years of Family Flavours and eight years of Nakahat 'AiliyehOf course a main highlight of any celebration is the food! Our new team member, Chef Sally Jane, and our youngest cook, Adiba Dudin, showcased their talents with a feast fit for our anniversary celebration. Stay tuned for the September 2015 anniversary edition for their recipes and more!

As Family Flavours turns nine this year, we can't forget the visionary that gave it life almost a decade ago. Publisher & Managing Director Hind-Lara Mango, with the support of her mother and magazine advisor Marie-Christine Mougin, is the driving force behind the success of Jordan's only parenting magazines. Here's a tidbit you may not already know: the name of the magazine (Family Flavours) was selected based on research that showed that family and food are an integral part of the lives of Jordanians and Arab culture in general.

The team at an anniversary celebratory brunch hosted by Publisher & Managing Director Hind-Lara Mango at her home

Early Childhood Teacher Karma Khalidi enjoying fresh watermelon juice, perfect for this time of year!

Here, Lina Lama Burgan (right) discovers that Zeina Sahyoun is wearing one of her designs! The Arabic calligraphy depicts a poetic verse by Nizar Qabbani, one of the most popular Arabic-language poets of the 20th Century, well-known for his poetry on love

Sure, it was an all-women's gathering, but there is one man who usually goes unseen as the face behind the camera. Mohammad Husani has been a longtime member of the Family Flavours family 

Friday, August 21, 2015

There are days I feel like I’m failing in every way.

That I’m doing everything wrong.

That the most important things are not as they should be.

My kids see a side of me that I would be embarrassed and ashamed to show anyone else.

My boss points out what I already know – I’m falling behind with my work.

My spouse who once made me smile now only seems to harp at me. 

Day in and day out, I’m reminded of something that’s wrong with me. How I haven’t lived up to other people's expectations. 

Yet the most piercing accusations come from myself with the belief that I’m not a good enough wife, a good enough mother, a good enough colleague.

I’m ruining my children. 

I’m not the woman my husband married.

I’m not meeting my boss’ expectations. I’m an utter disappointment. 

Why can’t I get it together? 

I’m far too behind to catch up.

Why can’t I be on top of things? 

Why can’t I be more like [fill in the blank] who [all the things they seem to be doing better]? 

Then I run into my sister-in-law, a mother of three, who says to me:  “You’re amazing. I don’t know how you do it all. I can’t do what you do.”

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Breastfeeding Challenge… 
Are You Up to It? 
5 Things I Wish I’d Known
(Published in Family Flavours, August 2013)
Me nursing baby Shareef
Of all the things that stressed me out about having a baby, breastfeeding was the most difficult, the most emotional, the most taxing and the most complicated. It seems like such a simple and natural thing, but it is not. 

All those sleepless nights and the tears I cried. I was sore and tired all the time. With the baby wanting to nurse every two hours, it seemed as though that’s all I was doing. I felt like a failure when I struggled with breastfeeding and felt guilty when I thought of giving up. 

I knew of the nutritional superiority of breast milk, the kilos I would shed faster if I breastfed and the blissful bonding experience I would have with my baby at my breast. But here’s what they don’t tell you about breastfeeding: 

1. It hurts.
At first, every time your baby latches on, you’ll clench your teeth and squeal in pain. Plus, during the first few days to weeks after delivery, you’ll feel strong cramps in your uterus when you breastfeed. 
The good news: Every time you breastfeed, your uterus contracts so it can return to its normal size. Also, your nipples will eventually ‘toughen up’ and there are things you can do to ease the pain until then, such as using special ointments and making sure your baby is latching on to both the nipple and the areola. 

2. Your baby will want to nurse practically around the clock. 
They say nursing burns calories and suggest you sleep when the baby sleeps, but what they don’t tell you is that you’ll be so busy nursing every two hours that you’ll hardly find the time to eat, sleep or even take a shower! Oh, and what about the demands of your other children? 
The good news: Although no one else can breastfeed for you, you’ll need as much family support as possible. Get your spouse and other family members to take care of your other children and help out with household chores and errands so you can rest. Your spouse should be involved as much as possible – have him burp and change the baby.

3. Breastfeeding affects the way your breasts look. 
While you may like the idea of getting larger breasts during pregnancy, what you may not realise is that, thanks to the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the mammary glands to produce milk, breasts can grow even bigger and more tender after giving birth, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Efteem Azar. He further explains that breast size is no indication of how much milk you’ll produce. 
The good news: In the weeks after giving birth, your breasts should return to roughly the size they were during pregnancy until you stop breastfeeding. When you return to your pregnancy weight, your breasts will probably return to their original size too. Some women find that one breast returns to its pre-pregnancy size while the other stays larger, droops or flattens more. Some end up with both breasts a full cup size smaller or larger after breastfeeding. Whatever the case, learn to love the body that nourished your baby – no matter what its shape or size.

4. Sex may be difficult to come by.
According to Azar, breastfeeding affects a mother’s hormone levels and menstrual cycle. So not only are you overly tired all the time, but you may also view your spouse’s advances with a degree of contempt! 
The good news: You’ll start getting your sexual desire back within a couple of months of having a baby. The decreased muscle tone in the vagina, which might reduce pleasurable friction during sex and influence arousal, is also usually temporary. Be sure to take advantage of babysitters so that you can steal a few moments for yourselves. 

5. Everybody will give you their personal opinion about breastfeeding. 
You’ll hear more than your share about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, with both sides quick to pass judgement on the other. These comments can be very unsupportive and even contribute to feelings of inadequacy. The good news: Regardless of whether or not you’re breastfeeding, give yourself a break and know that you are giving your child the best start in life. If you can take on the breastfeeding challenge, you can handle almost any inconvenience that life throws at you. And there are a lot of them once you become a parent!

Overcoming Those Breastfeeding In Public Jitters

Does the thought of breastfeeding in public make
you nervous, intimidated or self-conscious? I certainly felt this way after giving birth to my second son four months ago. Like me, many women deal with fears and anxieties related to breastfeeding in public. Here’s what helped me make nursing in public stress-free.

Wear something easy to breastfeed in.
Maternity stores have an attractive range of nursing
tops, practical nursing bras and even tank tops with
built-in bras to wear under your clothes. Just lift your
outer shirt up and unhook the fastener of the nursing
tank top or bra. The undershirt can stay tucked in so
that you don’t have to expose your breast or stomach.

Don’t assume that people are staring at you
with disapproval.
Most people stare in admiration or out of sheer
curiosity. Just smile and go about your business. You
have nothing to be ashamed of and your confidence
will deflect most spectators. For those who may
disapprove of your choice to breastfeed in public,
remember that it’s their problem, not yours. Putting
yourself and your baby first should be reassuring
enough. If you’re still embarrassed, just look at your
baby when nursing – nothing brings more peace than
looking at your newborn and seeing how happy and
content he is.

Use a nursing cover.
Because nursing covers provide full, easy coverage,
you’ll quickly find that they’re one of the first things
you won’t want to leave home without. I found nursing covers at maternity stores in Jordan for about JD50, which is rather steep. Although I was tempted to buy one, I decided that I might be able to make one myself. 

What you'll need
1.5 m lightweight cotton fabric
2 x .5cm metal rings shaped like D's
Light to medium weight fusible interfacing
35 cm stiff spiral bonding
Coordinating threat
Heavy duty needle for your machine 

To make the straps
1. Cut two pieces for the straps: one should be 15 cm x 12 cm and the other should be 65 cm x 12 cm.
2. For the long one, fold the long strap in half lenghwise with the wrong side out. From the fold, mark 4 cm on one end and 6 cm at the other end. Draw a long line connecting these two marks and cut along that line.
3. Trace and cut matching strips of interfacing for the two straps. Iron these on.
4. Refold the long strap with the right sides together. On the shorter end, mark and cut a curve on the unfolded corner.
5. Fold under the shortest edge of the smaller strap.
6. Refold the straps in half lengthwise with the right sides together and sew down the long edge. Turn both straps right side out and press flat with the seam running down the middle. Top stitch both straps ½ cm all the way around.
7. Fold the finished edge of the smaller strap over the flat side of both D-rings. Sew this edge down.

For the main cover
1. Fold the hem ½ cm all the way around and iron it. On the two sides and bottom, fold ½ cm again and iron. The long top edge should be folded a second time wide enough to fit the boning) and iron.
2. Sew around the two sides and bottom of the cover body.
3. Align the centre of the boning to the centre of the top edge of the body (lined up with the second fold). Place the unfinished edges of straps on either side of (and overlapping) the wire. If you’re right-handed, have the short strap with the rings on the right, making it easier to adjust. Make sure that the boning curves away from you so you can see your baby.
4. Using a heavy-duty needle, pin down and sew along the bottom edge of the folded hem.
5. Flip the straps up (overlapping the hem) and sew again, this time along the top edge of the hem.
6. Thread the long strap through the rings.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Five Generations of Women
(My Polish lineage)

I love this frame of family photos my Polish grandmother, Sidonia Wielkopolski, arranged. It shows five generations of women, including me (the little girl)

I like the following ways of displaying family trees ( To create your own in Jordan, contact Miya's Handwork or the Mariam Center for Arts & Crafts  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Parents Before They Were Parents
Growing up, we just couldn't fathom a time when our parents weren't mamas and babas. And unlike a job or dwelling that can change, once a parent, always a parent. But parenthood is one aspect of who we are, yet for some of us, our sense of self gets lost (or found) as time goes on. I love finding out tidbits about who my parents were before my siblings and I came along and now I wonder what I will one day share with my own boys (and what their baba will choose to divulge or withhold of his journey). Pictures reveal one part of the story. If and how they piece together the rest will be up to them.
My Mama and Baba before there were a mama and a baba