Monday, November 27, 2006

Baby food Recipes

I spent a lot of time this week in searching for recipes of baby food for my one year old twin. I felt that the boys are getting bored of traditional vegetable purees and apple sauce. So I searched the net for recipes, but I didn’t find a lot that are especially designed for one year old babies. So, I tried searching for information about the essential nutrients needed for toddlers of this age and they inspired me with some recipes. I also found that most of our adult meals, with minor changes, suit a one year old baby.

Here are some tips for busy working mums like myself:
  • You can change some of your adult main dishes into delicious soups, by taking some of the food you prepared before adding seasoning and salt, and add some water and little seasoning and salt, then blend it with an electric mixer, and here you are. You have a new soup every day.
  • Hummus is very popular at our house, we usually prepare it as a salad besides fish or grilled meat, but it is very nutritious and can provide a complete meal for you baby.
  • You can encourage your kids to eat vegetables by cutting it into very small pieces and adding it to their favorite pasta.
    You can make a very tasty and easy meal by combining rice with small pieces of fish meat. My recipe is like this:
    Heat two spoons of vegetable oil in a casserole, then add one chopped onion to it.
    Stir until the onion becomes brown, then add 1 cup of rice (after washing it with water)
    Stir for approx. 3 minutes until the water of the rice evaporates, then add the seasonings and salt and 1 ¼ cup water. Let it simmer under low heat for about 20 minutes. Then serve with fish pieces.
  • Cheese sandwiches are a quick choice when you don’t have time, just try using whole wheat bread more often.
  • Salads contain necessary vitamins you baby needs while growing up, but most contain raw vegetables that your kid can’t “chew” yet. Here is a rice salad recipe that solves your problem:
    Cook 1 cup rice and leave to cool. Cut 1 medium tomato, 1 small green pepper and some olives into little cubes then heat them in 1 spoon olive oil or butter until tender. Combine the rice with tomato, pepper and add some shredded cheddar cheese and canned tuna.
  • Most kids love yoghurt, it’s rich with calcium your one year old baby needs now as he tries to walk and have more teeth. You can give it a new flavor by adding mashed fruits and little honey to it. It will taste better.
  • Don’t stick to traditional commercial cereals, they have added sugar and artificial flavors. Try making your own cereal at home. You can use barley, oat, lentil, ..etc. on general, you just need to take 2 or 3 table spoons of the cereal powder, add about 1 cup of water to it ( you may also add some cow’s milk) and stir it well , then put over the cooker and stir until the mix becomes thick.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Baby Story x 2

My twin boys are one year old this month and today I would like to share their story with all of you.

Wednesday 09-11-2005.
Today My twin came to live!!
The first, Anas, weighed 2500 gm. and he was 50 cm. tall.
After a minute came Mouedh, he weighed 2300 gm. and he was 50 cm. tall.
I spent the day before at the hospital after having regular contractions since 4 am. Everyone was asleep, but my big tummy kept me awake. I felt some pain in my back, but I thought it’s normal. After a while I went downstairs and tried relaxing by reading Qura’an. When the pain became more regular I started eating dates and drinking water as I read it helps in labor. When the pain started coming every 15 minutes I thought “God I must be in labor”. I waked my mum up, and I tried breathing deeply with every contraction, I used a bottle filled with hot water to help ease my back pain, but it was useless. So I went into the tub filled with warm water, which made me feel a bit better. I tried to endure the pain as much as possible as I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early. When the pain became strong, and contractions coming every 5 minutes, I woke up Mounir, he helped me change my clothes, I was very tense and in pain by then and I threw up. Mounir drove me and my mum to the hospital where they checked me and decided I am in labor. I said goodbye to Mounir and I went with mum and the nurse to the labor room. I don’t need to describe the long night I spent at the hospital waiting for the birth of my babies, as it’s something every mum goes to. And to cut along story short, by about 6:30 am, the doctors decided that I should go through a cesarean operation. Though I am a big coward, I had no time to feel afraid. Everything went fast and before I realize I was in the operations room giving birth to my Twin. I was so tired and could only hear the cry of one baby, then a Tunisian nurse saying that the second baby came out and then I remember nothing. I woke up to find mum and Mounir with me in the intensive care room.
I asked to see the babies and I found Mounir amazed by the fact that they both kept staring at him when they came out of the room.
They were so little and cute. We decided to name the first Mouedh and the second Anas, but due to a confusion that one of the nurse caused we mistakenly named the first Anas and the second Mouedh. And after thinking it over we decided to keep it this way, because the names seemed to fit them better this way.
I so Mouedh first and when he opened his eyes I felt like looking into Mounir’s eyes. On the other hand, Anas looked exactly like me.

Wednesday 18-11-2006
Today WE came home.
I was very relieved to be home at last because things were a bit crazy at the hospital. I shared my room with a very noisy Qatari family, which made the Twin wake up repeatedly, besides nurses coming to check my temperature and give me bills interrupted their sleep.
Ammar and Mona came to help us return home, to our villa at El Markhia Garden Two compound, at Doha, Qatar.
The babies looked cute as they shut their eyes cause of the sun rays beaming into their little faces.
I thought “home sweat home” the moment I entered the house as it was a very tiring week at the hospital, that I could only receive very few visitors only.

Mouedh was the good kid for the first few weeks, he nursed well and slept well, while Anas had difficulty nursing and he seemed weaker. He got sick when he was just 9 days old and he spent the night over at the emergency. It broke my heart and made me cry when I saw him wearing a baby hospital dress with a needle in his tiny hand.
Then things changed when Anas started sleeping better and Mouedh started showing some Stubbornness. He would cry and try relentlessly to get his arms out of the blanket that Mounir swaddled him in. He would shut his lips firmly and refuse to nurse if I was late to respond to his hunger cues for any reason. And this made him win the “here comes trouble” suit.
Anas on the other hand was the quiet one.
They didn’t like loud noises and they became uneasy in big crowds. They liked cool weather. Hearing the sound of water tap always calmed them and when putting them in a basin of warm water for sometime, they were relaxed that they fell asleep sometimes while still cleaning them.
Their first bath was a crazy event. I was very tense and afraid for them, as they seemed so week and I quarreled with my mum about bathing techniques during the bath time. She acted by instinct and experience and me, having no previous experience, wanted to go by the book.
There wasn’t really a bed time for them in the early days as they were awake every 2 hours to nurse or to cry for some unknown reason.
Sometimes playing a Qura’an tape would calm them other times nothing was useful.
Both of them fell in love with a toy in the shape of a giraffe, it had different textures, colors and sounds. And as early as 3 months they started showing interest in colored picture books, their favorite were “Little Bee” and “Little Puppy”, which I bought for them from the Cairo Book Fair.
The first thing they ate was rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, they seemed to like it more than other foods I introduced later.
They enjoyed classical baby songs which my mum sang to them in Arabic. They also liked to sleep by the Tunisian lullaby “nani nani jak el noum” and Fairouz’s “yala tnam reema” which I turned into “yala tnam moza” and ” yala tnam nousa”
They hated their room at first and wouldn’t sleep in their beds without crying, and they slept better in their cradle chairs downstairs in the hall.

Wednesday 24-05-2006
Today Memo’s first tooth appeared! He has been in a bad mood for over a month and I was beginning to doubt that it’s because of teething as no teeth appeared. But yesterday as I was comforting him when he woke up crying form his afternoon nap, I put my finger over his gum as this seemed to relieve him sometimes, and there it was… the tip of his first tooth. I was thrilled that I was the one who discovered it, as I was feeling sad about the fact that I won’t be the one that witnesses their “first” in everything cause I am a working mum.

First week of July 2006
Anous and Memo started showing signs of an attempt to crawl. They really look cute while trying over and over again to raise their bodies depending on their hands and legs together.
They started drinking from the cup this week, though it took them sometime before managing the technique. The first thing they tasted through the cup was water. Memo quickly understood the way to drink, but Anous just kept biting the cup at first before realizing that he should drink from the cup not chew it!!

Second week of July
Anous and Memo tried a variety of vegetables this week, they tasted potatoes, green Peas, and Zucchini. They also had orange juice. Anous didn’t like it at all, but Memo seemed to enjoy the juice.

Third week of July 2006
The kids have become really active these days, Anous managed to put himself in the crawling position, but he can’t move forward or backward. Memo on the other hand is not so interested in crawling, but he rolls to reach his aim, and he does so very fast.
Both of them greet me and Mounir with a special smile and some times a shout. They can recognize people that they see on a weekly basis.
They respond to their names and know if we are happy or angry with them from our facial expressions and the tone of our voice.
This week they tried apple juice for the fist time and finally we found something that Anous enjoyed, Memo too seemed to like it.
This week their sleeping pattern became very irregular, it could be because of the developmental achievements they are experiencing, it could also be because their aunt (Batta) is staying with us and taking care of them instead of Ebtissem, and it could be for any other reason that I don’t know.

First week of June
Anous is crawling!! I mean not just swinging back and forth, but he’s really moving all around. He is very excited with this new skill he acquired that he even tries to crawl while sleeping. He can also turn around like a clock arm and both of them are making sounds that look like “teta”, “gedo” and even “batta”.
Memo still prefers rolling rather than crawling and he likes to throw toys from his high chair and just look at them on the ground. He also learned the bad habit of crying and coughing to get us do what he wants, Anous on the other hand is still on the shouting strategy.

Saturday 15 July 2006

Memo gave us a great start for the week as he suddenly started crawling when he saw me coming towards him. He has been doing a kind of military crawl to reach his aims lately and yesterday he finally mastered the crawling move!! I’m very happy because I was the one to see him crawl for the first time.

August 2006

This month was a month of achievements for my boys! They mastered the crawl, sit and stand positions. They tried variety of vegetables and fruits. They started showing signs of “speaking”. It is very amusing to see them engaging in an almost real conversation with their cute baby talk. Sometimes one of them yells at the other to get his attention, then the other yells back, and they can go on like this for ever!!
They learned that “two hands are better than one” and they cooperate to reach the stuff we don’t want them to reach or to cross the borders of their play area.
The minute they wake up in the morning, they stand up in their cribs and start reaching for each other.
They love playing together, they also love playing with other kids, but Anous fusses sometimes when meeting new people, Memo on the other hand keeps silent around strangers.

September 2006
The boys learned some words this month, and I mean real words not just sounds. Both of them said “Batta”, the nick name of my little sister, and they used it to call her not just as a repetition for what we say. Anous said “hateha” and Memo said “tahet”.
They can now pull them self up to a stand position and can even make a few steps while holding to pieces of furniture.
They tried chicken meat for the first time this month and they love it!!
We went to the swimming pool and they were very excited with the experience, they really enjoyed playing and were not afraid at all.
Both of them has four teeth now, but this time Memo’s upper teeth emerged before Anous.
With this list of achievements came some pitfalls as well. Anous and Memo started waking up crying more than once at night. They even wake up screaming after napping for only 30 minutes. This made it hard for all of us (Mounir, Batta and Me) to sleep or rest well.

October 2006
This month we went in our annual vacation to Egypt and Tunisia. The kids really enjoyed the feeling of family life, the warmth of aunts and got an idea about the ?? of grandparents.
Anous managed to walk up to 4 steps during the vacation and Memo could stand by himself. They started recognizing the meaning of words like “barra barra” which means going out and “kuku” which refers to chicken, “boby” which refers to dogs and “gatoussa” meaning cat. They also started realizing who “Gedo= grandpa” and “teta=grandma” are.
Memo’s fifth tooth appeared and he called me “Ommi” which means mum in standard Arabic! And hearing him say it gave me a special feeling that I can’t find the words to describe.

November 2006
At the middle of this month we came back from the vacation and it took the boys nearly a week to adjust. They went to the Nursery for the first time on the 12 of November, it was on Sunday and the good thing is that they seem to like the nursery and their caregivers, so this eases the guilty feeling for leaving them everyday a little.
They nearly eat table food now, but without added sugar, and with little salt and spices. Off course I still have to chop it into little pieces or mash it.
They tasted biscuits for the first time and they liked it!
I sometimes give them cheese sticks to eat on their own, but under adults supervision.

The 9th of this month off course witnessed their FIRST BIRTHDAY, they had a preemptive birthday in Djerba on the 8th of November and another birthday in Cairo on the 9th.

Everybody was excited about them finishing their first year and I couldn’t prevent a feeling of regret for not being a better mum for them through this year and I felt like I didn’t get the chance to enjoy my little ones before they grow up, because of the huge responsibilities and tensions that I had through this year.

The Power of The Veil

“Aside from the flag, no piece of cloth in history has been imbued with as much power to liberate and oppress, rally and device as the veil”

This is what Newsweek wrote in its November 27 issue in a report trying to follow the shifting political and social forces behind the use of the veil.

And indeed, the veil gained an unusual importance in the hearts and minds of Muslims all over the world, that it is enough for an Egyptian minister to express his personal dislike towards the veil, in order for the Muslims in Egypt to forget the sexual harassment that happened to some girls in downtown Cairo under the day light, or the “historic” speech of president Mubarak about the amendment to the article 76 of the constitution, or even the inflammation in Lebanon, the violence in Iraq, the deaths in Palestine.
They forgot how hard it is to find a decent transport mean to go to work every day, or how hard it is to get a good piece of bread after waiting in a long queue, they forgot about the so-called black cloud, they forgot about the recent videos that have been circulating on the internet of two incidents where Egyptian police men tormented two victims or suspects or whatever. They felt very angry about all this, but what made them protest and move and yell more than anything else was the comments of the minister!!

I wonder, why does the veil occupies such a HUGE area of Muslim minds? And I don’t mean to judge the veil by my question, I will not pretend that I have the enough religious knowledge to say if its right or wrong, and I am not even interested in starting this argument, but what I mean is, why does some thing like covering women’s heads have this power to “liberate, oppress rally and device” as the Newsweek put it?

As far as I know, the veil, and by this I mean covering a woman’s hair, was only mentioned twice in the Qura’an. And it is supposed to be something between the worshiper and God, it doesn’t have bad or good implications on someone else other than the woman that decides to wear or not to wear it.

So, why all the fuss? What about things like bribes, rape, murder, steeling? Why does the daily reporting of crimes like this in the mass media fails to grab the attention of the people and to make them angry?