A birthday present idea for your MIL

It was my mother-in-law’s birthday recently so I put this gift basket of self-care items together for her. It was easy to put together, the process was enjoyable and the end result, quite lovely.

The photos aren’t styled the best as I had to capture this quickly because three kids + had to head to the birthday dinner + trying to get ready + real life isn’t perfectly styled, BUT! it captures the process well enough.

So here goes…

What you need:

Medium/Large sized basket

Various gifts that the MIL will love. I chose self-care items that she could easily use, a baking book (because she loves baking), some beautiful V&A gardening gloves and a calendar/organiser for next year.

Two sheets of cellophane

Newspaper

Ribbon

Faux flower

How to put it together: 

  1. Gather the contents to fill a medium-large sized basket. If you’re going to do this, go big or go home 😀 I got every single item from one store so that I didn’t have to run around curating them from various shops because let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that.

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2. Grab basket. I got mine from Target.

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3. Fill the bottom of the basket with newspaper.

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4. Place cellophane in the basket. It was biodegradable folks, don’t shoot me for using plastic. Sometimes the plastic is necessary.

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5. Arrange items in the basket with the biggest items at the back and work your way forward with the smallest items at the front. Throw in a faux flower for extra prettiness.

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6. Place a second cellophane sheet over the top and secure to the basket by tying a ribbon around the front, like so. And voila! You have a beautiful gift basket, with hand-picked items especially for the MIL. It’s bound to earn you brownie points 🙂

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Four great children’s books

What makes a great children’s book?

To me, it needs beautiful illustrations, an engaging story, fantastical facts and interactive activities.

I picked up the following four books recently which have all of the above and they have been on high rotation with the girls lately…

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“Women who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, adventurers & rebels” 

This one had me at the title. It’s the second book I’ve bought for the girls about women who have dared to achieve their dreams. We haven’t gotten through it yet, but we have loved reading stories of strong and courageous women, and the illustrations are just lovely.

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Day of the Dinosaurs

My daughters are obsessed with dinsaurs, thanks in part to watching marathon sessions of Dinosaur Train whilst I clean the house, or put baby to sleep. I love how this book is interactive, jam-packed with facts and beautifully illustrated.

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Nature’s Day: Out and About

To be honest, I picked this one up because of the pretty front cover. Don’t judge a book by its cover? I’d have to disagree in this instance. Once we brought it home and opened it up, I realised just how brilliant this book is. It’s a companion to the book “Nature’s Day”, which we happen to have… in Turkish… we bought it from Turkey whilst holidaying there last year.

This one takes the reader through each season and has colouring pages, activities and craft ideas. A must for every child. Seriously.

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The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do

I think the title sums this one up.

It. Is. Brilliant.

My kids have been making paper planes, and paper frisbees, and… that’s all we’ve done so far lol. BUT! There are some solid ideas for outdoor activities, for all ages.

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What do you think makes a great children’s book? Which books are on high rotation at your house?

The List: Ethical kid’s clothing

Now that my kids are exiting the toddler years (well, two of them anyway), finding ethical kids clothing that is affordable is becoming somewhat of a task. Speaking to my cousin recently, she also expressed difficulty in finding ethically made clothing for children aged 5-15. It can be difficult to pass up the $5 t-shirt in Kmart, especially when kids seem to get through so many clothes because they grow 10 cm every three months or get grass stains on the knees of all jeans or food stains that just won’t come off. Is it worth spending a little more on ethically made clothing for kids?

I think it is.

Non-organic cotton fabrics, and other synthetically produced clothing contain toxins (given the chemicals they are treated with) that can seep into the wearer’s skin. I also think that if we teach our children to wear less but cherish and value their clothing from a young age, this will teach them good values that they can carry into adulthood.

I know, I know. These days it seems that, as parents, we already have SO MUCH to be concerned about, from GMO, pesticide sprayed food, to the dangers of screen time, and so on. But given the great ethical companies out there, that are online as well, purchasing ethical clothing for your kids is truly made that much easier.

So! Having scoured the internet for ethical kids wear, we present “The List: Ethical kid’s clothing.”

1.Hubble and Duke

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A West Australia based label, they make a beautiful collection of clothing ethically made in Portugal and Bali. I especially love their shoes, and the stunning prints and colour palette.

Ages: 0-8 years old, boys & girls

2. Nature baby

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Based in New Zealand, Nature Baby have the best basics for baby, up to four year olds. All ethically made, and with organic cotton, I just loved their soft track-pants, singlets, underwear and onesies for my own kids.

3. Boden

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Though I haven’t personally shopped from this store before, their clothing looks bright and suitable for children, and reasonably well-priced. I’m tempted to pick up some summer dresses for the girls. Importantly, they have joined the Ethical Trading Initiative and also outline their production processes in a detailed manner on their site.

4. Industrie Kids

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I was surprised when I saw Indie Kids with an “A” grading on the Shop Ethical consumer guide. They have a detailed outline of their commitment to responsible manufacture on their website. Although they mainly do boy’s clothing (from 0-14 years of age), I have seen them stock girl’s clothing in their stores.

5. Etiko

Etiko is a well-known ethical clothing manufacturer. Although their children’s clothes are limited, they do stock shoes, and ethically made trainers can be notoriously diff’icult to find, particularly for children.

6. Elves in the Wardrobe

This multi-brand online site stocks a range of ethically made, organic cotton children’s clothing, up to 12 years of age.

7. G.Nancy

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A recent find, G.Nancy are an Australian company who make beautiful sleepwear in distinctly Australian prints.

8. Minouche 

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Another Australian brand, Minouche make some lovely pieces (mainly for girls, but they just released a unisex collection). I love their soft, beautiful dresses for girls. They are ethically made in Australia and go up to size 10.

9. Everlane

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Everlane makes incredible clothing for adults, but also make a limited range of great basics for the little ones too. And they ship to Australia now!

10. Numero 74

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This company makes the most beautiful but simple clothing for women and young girls. More importantly though, the brand is the love child of two cousins who have set up a Thai Women’s Self managed Cooperative employing over 400 women each of whom are able to work at home whilst caring for family.

11. Love it love it love it 

Actually affordable, ethically made, organic cotton, cute, practical kids wear… basically sums up this brand. They do children’s wear from 0-10 years old, and they also do clothing for adults, and homewares too. So something for everyone!

That’s it for now… There are so many more beautiful labels out there. If you know any ethical children’s clothing stores that are not on this list, please do add them below in the comments section.

A generous baby shower

I’ve always had two thoughts and emotions about baby showers. I’ve felt somewhat uneasy about them, what with the fanfare, extravagance that seems to be the trend these days and potentially lots of unwanted gifts, but I’ve also loved the concept of gathering a budding mother’s closest female friends and family to initiate her into motherhood- or if it’s not for a first baby, having them around to share wisdoms, celebrate the start of new life and simply to shower her with love. 

Our dear friend Sana was expecting her first baby (she’s since given birth) and asked me to aid her in running a flower crown workshop for her baby shower. The day focussed on giving, generosity and creating beauty- a perfect focus for celebrating a woman on the cusp of motherhood, methinks. 

Read on to be inspired by Sana’s baby shower with a difference…

What was the inspiration behind organising this event?

Once pregnant, a few of my friends expressed interest in assisting to host a baby shower for me. I don’t mind attending baby showers and participating in the usual activities that go along with them, but I personally felt like doing something different. I wanted the focus of the gathering to be on bonding with my friends in a final farewell to child-free life. I also didn’t want the focus to be on collecting gifts. Although this is a well-intentioned tradition with much generosity expressed, I felt like channeling this generosity to those more in need than me. I decided to ask for a gift of donations towards maternity charity causes by the CARE charity which would benefit pregnant women, infants and new mothers in regions facing poverty and instability. This was a great success and we managed to raise a significant amount of funds towards this cause.

What was organised for the day?

I chose to make the event an afternoon tea, and to centre it on a creative activity where you get to go home having learned new skills and something to show for it. Keeping within the “baby” theme of growth and new life, I was inspired to hold a flower crown workshop.

I researched professionals who offer the service of running workshops for your events and found them to be quite costly. After speaking with some kind friends, they offered to run the workshop as a DIY exercise. How had can making flower crowns be, right?

After following a few online tutorials and guides, I ordered the materials we’d need (floral tape, floral wire etc.) and my friends went to the flower markets on the morning of the event to purchase a selection of flowers which would light up our home and be used for the crowns. The activity was a grand success. Saltanat (my friend who ran the workshop) did an excellent job of engaging the guests and getting their creative juices flowing. Everybody appreciated the opportunity to make a beautiful crown with their friends.

We also prepared DIY seed packets as party favours. We created hanging leaf garlands to decorate the space with, as well. I also got an old cork board, painted the base of a tree on it and asked guests to pin on a leaf with their pre-baby well wishes and words of advice for me and my husband.

I don’t believe baby showers need to be an exhaustive and extravagant affair. As in my case, it can be simplified by harnessing the skills and generosity of friends and family. I had friends prepare sweets for me on the day, run the flower crown workshop and assist in creating the decorations. Unless you use a registry, collecting gifts in an unstructured manner can lead to excess and wastage, which I wanted to avoid.

Sana, thank you so much for sharing your lovely baby shower with us! It truly was a beautiful day and I was honoured to play a small part in it… 

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Clothes with Baraka

Here at The Modest Life we are passionate about supporting local businesses, women-run businesses, ethical-minded businesses… basically businesses that kick butt 🙂

Baraka Women is one such business. Designed by Eisha Saleh, an all round incredible lady, the clothes are made with the modest dresser in mind, with the most beautiful fabrics, made right here in Australia.

With the release of her new “Pollyanna vintage” collection, my sister and I jumped at the chance to play dress ups over a little catch up at my place…

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This print is so pretty and the fabric is luxuriously soft. Also, given that it is a wrap dress, it makes feeding baby easy. So basically it ticks all the boxes for me. Stylish, pretty and comfortable…

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We love the details on these pants, made from a vintage fabric.

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I’m wearing the Afternoon Wrap Dress.

My sister is wearing:

Outfit 1: The Emerald Day top with The Cornflower Pant in cream

Outfit 2: The Envy Layered skirt.

Photography: Z by Zahrah.

Postpartum reflections

I’ve been following Australian actress Teresa Palmer on Instagram lately, and have been reading her posts over on her blog Your Zen Mama. She had her second baby just before I had my third, and she has been sharing her weekly postpartum reflections. I’ve really enjoyed reading them, it reminds me that I’m not the only one going through this at the moment. Her honesty is refreshing and the detail she goes into with her reflections is also actually really helpful.

Inspired by her posts, I’ve decided to put a reflection of my own together, but I will not be doing this weekly because I HAVE THREE KIDS. It’s also taken me four and a half weeks (no, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I gave birth) to get this down because I’ve been stumbling around in a mind-fog and drowning in an endless cycle of nappy changes, tantrums, sibling rivalry and swaddling wraps…

So here goes:

The Labour

I’m not going to give y’all a recount of my labour in detail, because, well, who really wants to know how it all went down? All labours are excruciatingly painful- regardless of how long/short they are. There are some things I do want to note though:

  • This was the first labour that I opted to have an epidural. At first, it was wondrous. My husband and I looked over at each other and could only stare in amazement and comment on how this “doesn’t even feel like labour.” I knew when I was getting contractions, but I couldn’t feel their full force. Until I could. OH MY GOD. The damn epidural WORE OFF PEOPLE just when I needed it the most and I faced at least 40minutes to an hour of excruciating pain. The anaesthetist was stuck in a caesarean (later I found out from the nurses that there were SIX caesareans that day) and I had no choice but to scream through contractions that hit me with extreme force. I opted for the gas, which made me nauseous and suddenly I was vomiting all over myself. I was also screaming “WHY THE HELL DID I GET AN EPIDURAL IF THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!” and then profusely apologising afterwards for yelling… because I am an apologiser. More on that another day.
  • Essentially, I had an epidural because they wanted to speed up my labour due to certain risks and having heard horror stories about induction from friends who had been through it, I decided to get the epidural in advance. Sure I felt that guilt, I was anxious about the consequences and side effects, and I was also terrified of having someone stick a needle into my spine. BUT, the memory of the pain of contractions was also much too fresh and came rushing back to me when in that birthing room and I looked over at my husband and said, “let’s do the epidural”, whereupon he replied, “it’s your choice babe. I aint gonna judge you, and nobody else should either. You do what you have to do.” Basically he said exactly what I needed to hear lol. #husbandoftheyear
  • So this labour was different from my other two because it literally had a bit of everything. There was the epidural, the syntoconin, the gas, feeling the full force of contractions and in around four hours or so (my memory of the timeline of this birth is fuzzy given everything), baby was ready to make his entrance. With a top up of the epidural and the midwives telling me when and how to push, my son graced us with his presence.
  • And apparently that is me NOT giving a recount of the birth lol. Too much detail for y’all? I apologise…
  • OVERALL: I hated the epidural. I paid for it after as well (more on that in the next section). Labour is FREAKING PAINFUL AND I NEVER WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN. Phew. But when baby comes out and they place him on your chest, there is nothing in this world that compares. I am extremely grateful I was able to experience it again.

The Hospital Stay

Because of the epidural and certain side effects, I stayed in hospital for around 3 days. Basically I was getting some major headaches. And when I say major, I mean MAJOR. I was basically forced to stay lying down, as the headaches would hit me as soon as I sat up. This made changing baby’s nappy/clothes and picking him up difficult. But I took all the painkillers they gave me and it helped.

The hospital stay was much calmer and overall a better experience, mainly because I was mostly ignored by the hospital staff, except when they came in to do the necessary checks. Because #BABYNO3

Oh, also, the girls meeting their baby brother was the sweetest. J (the older one) was totally smitten. Z on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. She kissed him and exclaimed his name over and over, but she wouldn’t come near me. I think it was because I was lying in a strange bed, in a strange place, drained of colour, with needles sticking out of me. Maybe…

Once we got Home

Again, things were much calmer as baby slept really well. Actually, he was extremely sleepy and I’d have to wake him up for feeds. He was slightly jaundiced so this probably contributed to his lethargy. It did make recovery for me easier though as I got plenty of rest. Also, my mum came over everyday for around two weeks, which was basically a God send, otherwise I could not have dealt with everything, and probably would have starved.

My mum is an angel in disguise, as every time I’ve given birth, she comes over and does everything for me. She’s firm with this as well. She forces me to rest, and literally does not allow me to do anything. And I mean NOTHING. She doesn’t let me wash dishes, throw in laundry, vacuum, cook… She spends the time looking after my older kids and doing everything. She insists that the postpartum time is for rest, and drinking soup lol. Which she forced me to drink 3 times a day. Breastmilk is mainly water, so drinking lots of soup makes sense.

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What I’m eating

The weeks when my mum was here were great. She made good wholesome homemade food, mainly soups as I said above. My mother in law sent yummy Turkish foods… I tried to get my intake of veggies and fruit, and a snack at night, because breastfeeding makes me really hungry. My friend made me some lactation cookies and sweet potato tarts which were the best for snacking.

Once my mum stopped coming as often, I had to fend for myself lol. I’ve been doing grocery shopping online, or getting the husband to bring home groceries. Haven’t been cooking much, although I’m trying.

This week I’m going to try to go back to a gluten free diet, as eating wheat based foods throws off my digestive system, so we’ll see how it goes.

Also, lots and lots of water!

The Emotions

The first three weeks I went through the wave of hormones and the resulting emotional rollercoaster. I’m prone to anxiety anyway, so I don’t cope well with the postpartum hormonal changes that the body goes through. Plus the stress of keeping a baby alive… basically I obsess over every little detail, dramatise it, and end up in a puddly mess of tears.

This time around I felt completely overwhelmed by the need for me to meet the emotional needs of three children. And I wasn’t even feeding them. Or cleaning. How could I do EVERYTHING once my mum stopped coming?

More tears ensued.

Somewhere around week 3.5-4, the fog started to clear from my brain and I started to feel like myself. My body started to recover and gain strength, and my psyche benefitted from heading out of the house, getting back to some sense of normalcy. The Solly Baby wrap has been great, making outings easier, and I’m also loving the new stroller.

Our new family of five braved dinners out, a wedding, a picnic at a beach, visiting interstate guests who had arrived, doctor’s appointments etc within the first few weeks of baby’s life.

Baby

Our new baby has coped with entering this world like a champ. He is very serious, always frowning, and has a gaze that is so knowing. He is totally wise beyond his…weeks lol. He sleeps really well, clocking over 4 hour stretches at night, basically waking twice a night for a feed. Some days he feeds more, which I suspect are times of growth spurts. Currently he has longer waking hours, he can hold his neck up really well, and is starting to follow movements with his eyes.

Everyone keeps telling me he will change as he grows, and this I know. Right now I’m just thankful for this phase and taking all that I can get, because I know what a fussy baby who does not sleep, who cries all the time, is like.

I’d forgotten how much you need to plan in advance before leaving the house with a newborn, trying to squeeze in a feed before leaving or else face a screaming baby in the car, getting the baby bag ready… now I had two more kids to prep. Once we did it a few times though, we got the hang of it. Although, if we go somewhere that is quite far, we have had to pull over just to feed baby, because if he’s hungry, he will scream till he is fed.

The girls

The girls are coping in their own ways with this new phase. J struggled the first week, as she kept asking me when I was going to play with her, sit with her, read with her and she also kept telling me that she loved me over, and over, and over again. She did the same when her younger sister was born as well. There was one heartbreaking moment around two weeks after we brought baby home where she just got really emotional, threw her arms around my neck and told me that she was worried about me…because I just kept sleeping, and having my own mini-breakdowns. Since then, she’s been back to her usual, 4.5 year old, sometimes annoying, always chatty and playful, self.

Z on the other hand has been acting out in different ways. Tantrums over random things are on the rise, her attachment to me has increased, and she’s also displaying violent tendencies toward her older sister (the other day she bit J’s finger so hard it bled). She just hit 2 so I know this is normal for her age, but it’s just compounded by having to contend with a new sibling in the house.

We, the parents, are barely scraping through. Trying to maintain our own patience in the face of SO MANY EMOTIONS has been tough, and to be honest, I know that I have had many, many bad parenting moments. Lots of shouting, and dramatic moments, using the TV to get things done, like feed my newborn, cook and clean have been my worst vices. Just this week I’ve made the conscious effort to keep myself calm in the face of Fight No. 1000 between the two girls in the one day, or a tantrum because Z doesn’t want to sleep. And I’m getting rid of the TV. That’s right. We are going cold turkey. Please pray for me lol.

Lastly…

Yes. Three kids is definitely tough. Slowly though, I feel like we are getting into a rhythm, and adjusting to this new phase. It helps that baby is sleeping well and feeding well, and I have nothing but gratitude. As with babies, I know things will change as he grows, and starts teething and so on, but as I said earlier, I’m taking whatever I can get now.

Despite the emotional rollercoaster, the physical recovery from labour, and adjusting to three children, I do feel that this postpartum period has been the easiest out of all my kids. Experience has definitely been a factor in this obviously, as has sleeping enough lol.

I feel a lot more comfortable and confident and I know that has made a big difference.

I’m looking forward to the next few months, and just enjoying having another baby in the house, especially knowing how fast it passes…

Mostly, I am incredibly thankful for all the loving and supportive and helpful people around me, without whom all this would be infinitely more difficult and challenging. Still, with all the support, there have been moments of sheer desperation, frustration, tears, where the mounting responsibilities of three children has felt so overwhelming. I know that there were many times where I didn’t cope with it all in the best way, and I’m learning from those mistakes and trying to move forward now. But honestly, watching my family grow, work together, cooperate, help each other and settle into a new phase is truly a beautiful gift. As is being able to kiss soft newborn cheeks 🙂

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Best on the Net

It’s been a big week in the world, with much to ponder on. Here are a few inspiring, positive and thought-provoking links to make this week that much better…

  1. A beautiful new children’s book compiles tales from Syrian refugees.
  2. Carla Zampatti designed a uniform for Westpac and included a style for hijabis.
  3. Check out this Kickstarter for a company designing activewear for women who wear hijab. 
  4. Finland is taking their awesome schools further by abandoning subjects for ‘events’ and ‘phenomena’ in an interdisciplinary format.
  5. Speaking of teaching, here’s a video that explores how there is no scientific proof that homework improves performance in elementary school. BAN HOMEWORK I say!
  6. The biggest supermoon is set to hit our world tonight, but it’s cloudy and raining here in Sydney 🙁
  7. Did you read about the new screen time recommendations by doctors? About time they got onto this.
  8. Suzanne Barakat is an incredible ambassador for her religion, and this latest talk she delivered at TED is at once utterly heart-breaking but also motivating. She asks, what resources do you have and how can you use it for good?
  9. And lastly, I really want this dress.

An (un)birthday party

It was my youngest daughter’s second birthday earlier this month and usually birthdays around here are small affairs where only the family gather for dinner and a cake, and presents.

This year I decided to do a little something different and throw a “birthday party” for Z mainly because she is about to become middle child in a few weeks, and I wanted to do something special to make her feel well, special.

As I planned the birthday I realised that I wanted it to be more about enjoying the company of our nearest and dearest, and for it to be an enjoyable day for the children.

Also, I really didn’t want to do the ‘typical’ birthday things.

For example, I didn’t want presents.

Exhibit A:

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My lovely friends and family still did gift the girls presents, which I wasn’t going to be annoying about. And I say ‘girls’ because they were gifts that both the girls could enjoy and use. We gift things to people because we love them, and this is a beautiful trait. My logic behind requesting no gifts was because I didn’t want the girls to expect present after present, which they would begin to not appreciate. I also didn’t want this day to be about an exchange of gifts, I wanted it to be a day to enjoy each other’s company…

I also did not want party bags. You know the ones filled with junk food, lollies and cheap plastic toys. Instead I decided to organise some arts and crafts so that the kids could:

  1. Be entertained, rather than go crazy with all the toys that we had (which happened anyway.)
  2. They’d have something to take home in lieu of party bags.
  3. It would get their creative juices flowing (but I think it was the adults who got more creativity out of this than the kids lol).

I also really did not want to do the whole ‘dessert table’/’grazing table’ that is trending at parties these days. I didn’t want the big floral backdrop to take photos with. I just wanted to bring out the sweets when the time came, and have a moment to bring out the cake, candles lit and everyone singing ‘happy birthday’ like we did in the good old ’90s.

My reasons for not doing a dessert table/grazing table:

  1. I didn’t want my children’s eyes to become accustomed to a table overflowing with lolly jars, cakes, towers of sweets and so on. I felt that this would simply promote greediness and extravagance from a young age.
  2. My aim for this party was to keep it simple and a table with a backdrop seems over the top and unnecessary for a two year old.
  3. I didn’t want a backdrop to take photos with, because it’s actually kind of weird to have people lining up to take photos in front of it. I didn’t want the children to see and engage in this form of ‘selfie’ (ahem, narcissistic behaviour). If we were taking photos, it would simply be a natural part of the day.
  4. What the hell is with the ‘grazing table’ anyway? Are we field animals that simply ‘graze’ lazily on food? Again, it’s just too extravagant and sends the wrong message to our children about what is acceptable eating behaviour.

I still wanted it to be beautiful, because it is a way of honouring our guests. So I bought some flowers (stock) from the local farmer’s market, and we trimmed down some foliage hanging over my back fence and hung it around. I also couldn’t resist buying these plates from Lark Store because they are just gorgeous.

The day before, my eldest daughter J, and I had some fun making some desserts. We made blueberry and cream and strawberry and cream popsicles, and butter cookies dipped in chocolate decorated with some sprinkles.

Here are the recipes we used:

Blueberry and Cream Popsicles (just replace the blueberries with strawberries)

Butter Cookies (we simply melted some chocolate, dipped the cookies in it once they were cooked and cooled, then sprinkled them with some pink sprinkles).

As for the crafts, we made wands and pipe cleaner crowns. For the wands, I cut out some star shapes the day before and got the kids to collect some sticks from the park with their father. The children simply painted the stars with glitter paint, attached ribbons to the sticks then stuck the stars on.

For the pipe cleaner crowns, we used this tutorial, and got creative with some fake wire flowers and ribbon.

All in all, it was a lovely day, reconnecting with friends and family and having the children to reconnect with each other as well. When I asked my eldest what she loved most about her day, she said, “playing with my friends, making the wands and eating the popsicles…” In that order lol.

Here are  a few more pics from the day…

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Pictures by my sister Subhi Bora.

Best on the Net

Hi all! Here is today’s Best On The Net. From beautiful things coming out of very difficult situations to a book that teaches your little one (or you) ‘how to code,’ and something musical too. Enjoy <3

1. Strangers at Home: Uyghurs in the land of the Hui

“However, Fatima and Mohammad reflected a new kind of story, one that I hadn’t been familiar with before my journey to China. They showed me a life of a middle class, Chinese family whose home was not free and whose freedom of worship was restricted. And while they found home in their faith, because of their (Uyghur) ethnicity their faith didn’t find home where they live.”

 

2. The Secret Food of Afghanistan 

“She hopes that this book will help change perceptions of the villages, towns and cities of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, focussing instead on the many cultural riches – and delicious dishes – to be found.”

 

3. Rio 2016: First ever refugee team ‘have already won’

“I’m very proud to be here,” Rami said.   “But I feel a bit of sadness that I’m not participating as a Syrian. We are representing people who have lost their human rights and are facing injustices.”

 

4. Hello Ruby

“Hello Ruby is the world’s most whimsical way to learn about computers, technology and programming. The story started with a book, and now Ruby continues her adventures in exercises, games and apps. It’s suited for kids age 5 years and older (but even adults might learn something new).”

 

5. 5 Uplifting Songs by Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam

“The messages of belief, love, and peace in his songs are timeless. It was hard to choose just 5 songs, but here they are! These, and many other songs of his, speak straight to the soul—regardless of the time you may be born in.”

 

Header Image: Steve McCurry