Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ups and downs

I often wonder why it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Even the smallest of plans seem hard to fit in to the everyday drudgery which necessarily repeats itself. Washing clothes, preparing food, it just has to be done. Only by doing these tasks more efficiently can there be a bit more time spare. I laugh to myself as I read advice for parents of young children to do only the bare basics so you have time to rest. What less can I do?, the house looks like burglars came and turned the place over. I can just ignore it and I am doing so as I write and otherwise not much would be written. But cluttered house= cluttered mind and I need to have some clarity in thinking to progress right now. I was discussing with S about how others in the neighbourhood have new cars etc, and this led to discussing double incomes. He perked up when I said if I worked we could have a lot more money. I even looked up mother-tongue teacher job posts. I thought this is me being pro-active in trying to get us out of this stress-inducing situation, that being the flat bursting at the seams with people, their stuff, need for personal space..

This is me writing after a weekend indoors, with poor little Hz with a sore throat and me fighting every type of microorganism. This is Winter in Sweden (again),


and I am waiting for the broadcast from Makkah to lift my spirits.

On a lighter note, my prayers were answered as yesterday the 'no satellite signal received' came up on the TV. You'd think I could just say 'No' to the TV, but with a concrete reason behind me, it's much easier as there's no point in debates. We even played Top Trumps with each other, and today I thought I should spend some more time with Biryani as I feel I'm expecting her to occupy herself too much. So we made Top trumps cards out of a toy catalogue. She was quite good with the sticking, and I wrote the headings: Price, Batteries, and Fun. I'd actually suggested to S he make some, but got no response. But as often is the case in order to get kids interested in something, I have to start doing it first. Once I'd done the cards myself, and they'd enjoyed playing them, they ( M& S) went on to make some more themselves, adding the category 'strength' (i.e. ability to stay intact at hands of siblings). A stretchy Scooby Doo was top at that.

Other things I've noticed to get reluctant participants to participate

  • Make quizzes to test parents on knowledge (e.g. on Arabic word meanings!)
  • Posh pens (calligraphy) to encourage writing.
  • Use of percentage or number goals

    e.g Rosetta Stone gives you the percentage correct of each section, M goes back and does it again until he gets 100%,

    Arabic reading practice, at the end of each page a word total is given and it accumulates so that after a few pages it shows a high number of read.

  • Use of a timer, good for getting tasks done (e.g. ready for bed)

    Hz is rolling front to back and back to front now, likes to stand being held and even stood a few seconds balanced against the coffee table the other day. Solids are going down well and sleep is generally OK, just last night he woke a lot due to his illness.

    Now I should sleep, tomorrow I have to rethink the monthly task sheet, redo the menu plan, and I want to finish an information sheet about Eid for nursery so they can talk about something other than Christmas (yes advent started today I think, well there were some very loud fireworks and the tree lights are on).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Running a tight ship, how is it done?

Go on, up a bit...

I find idioms reassuring. It means a significantly large number of people have had the same experience in order for a phrase to become part of a language.

How do you keep on top of the trails of mess and destruction of having a large family?

As a child I developed the ability to ask 'Is there anything I can do to help?' since my mother had a chronic back problem, and not doing things wasn't really an option, for someone like me who doesn't deal well with guilt. I am glad I learnt how to clean a bathroom, wash up etc but still wish for my children to have a little bit more of a childhood. No doubt I have got them to do chores such as the above, and sometimes they quite enjoy them. But to expect them to be done to adult standard and on a regular basis seems nigh on impossible.

We have a system of 'good deeds wiping out the bad deeds' and recently developed a 'House Rules' list (Supernanny has got in there somewhere) as debates come up as to whether a 'crime' was actually committed and actually deserves the punishment (invariably deduction in pocket money). If it's written down there can be no debates. Most of the 'bad deeds' involve some form of injustice to another sibling. So for example we have the obvious no kicking, pinching etc as well as the verbal teasing etc (and later 'burping on someone' was added by consensus). So they get the chance to earn some of it back by doing chores. However it's really only if someone is saving up for a particular thing that they want to do this. I'm trying to 'train' them so that at least if they're living alone or when married inshAllah they are able to be a bit domesticated. Putting their dirty dishes in the sink is a start, a sister suggested I get them to put them in the dishwasher but as often I haven't got round to emptying it..

However I feel there lies much room for improvement. I know it must be frustrating for the bigger ones when it is not them that makes most of the mess, but also I do come across a lot of male clothes on the floor etc. Nagging them does always seem more effort than doing it myself. I try to leave notes about now and again. I just hope it never comes to me leaving one saying 'I've gone to my Mum's, sort yourselves out somehow.. .'

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some of the many reasons..

why I haven't blogged much lately, or done much more than the really necessary:

1.Kids using computer: S's youtube channel (many sequels there).

2.Tiredness (Hz is sleeping pretty well again alhamdulillah, but neighbours alarm clocks going off at 5 a.m., and getting them ready for school mean rarely I can get up when my body feels ready). As Biryani often sleeps when I do (due to late afternoon naps which are almost impossible to avoid as she is also woken early by the morning rush.) So there is no 'kid-free time in the evenings to be online (she is still a tad adverse to me using the computer)

3.When Hz is awake he likes to be held much of the time, I'm not strong enough to use the sling much, so typing one handed is hard.

Did I day dream about putting them all in day-care? well yes for a second, but only for a second or so.
If I do get time I'm trying to be more regular with things like Quran and Arabic, trying being the operative word...
We have started having tick charts on the wall for the 2 older ones plus myself, and it really does help to focus and keep going with things (or show how we haven't and to try to buck up!). I keep remembering the essence of this hadith (Bukhari and Muslim) Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "The best loved deeds to Allah are the ones that are continuous even if they are not very many."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A post that got stuck in my drafts, from end of October

I have found out what the needle was for in M's craft set he received ages ago, it's for this:
and if I had bothered to read the instructions I would probably have realised anyway.

We have been here and they do these sort of crafts plus the added bonus of cakes and farm animals to stroke/ look at/ be terrified of.

Technology, I suppose it has to be embraced..

Today we went out and met friends in the park. Bracing was the word, with the weather changing every 5 minutes, and ending up being heavy rain and gusts of wind, and so we headed briskly to the library nearby. Why they have to have computers and now an Xbox 360 with the latest Lego Batman game on it I don't know. M and H and friend hung about waiting for a turn, and it turned out that this had to be booked. In my mind libraries are for reading, somewhere to be a bit more quiet than usual. Somewhere where I don't have to say '5 more minutes and you must turn it OFF!'.
No, in order for this to be possible one must be away from electricity supplies and 'hotspots' although this isn't completely full-proof. S got his first proper mobile which he'd been saving up for and these also have games on them.
But as the weather cleared and we went out to the playground, I was glad to see rosy cheeks and moving bodies as they dashed round, chasing each other, even if the gun sound effects were mostly coming from afore-mentioned Sony Ericsson technology...

I wasn't going to blog today..

but S couldn't sleep and wanted me to include one of his latest videos he's made.

he uses Windows movie maker and my mobile phone camera.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Equipment purchasing or should I stick to pebbles and sticks in the park?

I've been considering buying a laminator, on and off, but would it really be used? Or is it one of those pieces of equipment that get put in the cupboard to gather dust?

Also sticker making machines, has anyone tried, and before I go on a shopping spree(?!) how is it with 'Moon sand', how easy is it to control in terms of mess, and colours getting mixed up. Is like lego, that it's worth the mess for the play value it brings?

Any other equipment, activities (for any age really) that you could really not do without?

Biryani's been happy with her salt dough these past weeks, and it doesn't stay in the mouth for long!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I've just re- read my blog posts from the time when Biryani was about 4 months old, and then I was hoping for 4 hour blocks of sleep! I must be grateful! Recently I've been finding it hard to find time to get on the computer, but I am am glad I bother sometimes. I would never remember all the details which are sometimes reassuring...

Back to reality

Well I am not so surprised but Hz has gone back to night waking these last few days, with about 4 hours between feeds. It has coincided with his first vaccination, and starting solids (no they never help my kids sleep through the night). It's just a bit frustrating as I know he can go 8, 10 or even 12 hours. However I can't let him just cry for various reasons. Biryani often ends up in bed with me and she'd get woken by him crying, maybe he needs the feeds (growth spurt) and it just feels a bit early to leave him to cry. Hz's sleep plus Biryani's sleep/eating/potty training difficulties (but it's me that's the one having difficulty with accepting these) leave me often trying to put things in to perspective, hoping that in a year's time, things will inshaAllah be easier. Apologies fot the jumbled text, I think I should lie down....

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hz -zzzzzzzzz

He's such an 'easier' baby, by night. Especially as he'll go to sleep quite early in the evening and maybe only wake once, or not until Fajr. To make up for this he is awake a lot during the day, and sometimes unhappy unless I'm holding him, hence my arms, wrists, most of my body feel like I've been doing some sort of workout. So getting stuff done nowadays is a challenge, mashAllah. The house has been a tip since yesterday when I had to find all the winter stuff and Hz's next size clothes from the cellar. I haven't sorted out everything not taken down the grown out of clothes to the cellar, plus a pile of washing still needs putting away, so it looks a bit like a second-hand clothes shop round here at the moment.
He's started blowing raspberries, by sticking his tongue out, much like the turtle we saw the other day, and saying the 'th' sound accompanied by dribble. He can lift his head well when on his tummy, and turns himself round if on the floor, and rolls onto one side. He has a v strong grip so you have to watch your hair, and I'm wondering if it's time to start the food. I'm never in a rush myself for this, breast-feeding is such a blessing...

I suppose if they have to be in school..

then there's worse places than Sweden (i.e. the UK school system).
Here's a link showing the way Sweden runs it's preschools and how it seems beneficial long-term as regards literacy. I do think though that Swedish is a lot easier to learn to read as it is generally more phonetic. (I'd advise putting mute on until title comes to avoid garish music)
Funny, they have fairly recently built an outside shelter so the little ones can have their nap outside in H's nursery, whatever the weather. The chairs and tables are exactly the same as in his nursery. Only thing they don't show is the kids whimpering for their Mummy (although I admit this isn't a hughly regular thing I come across), nor the whiffy nappy changing area.
I think they have got it right not pressurising the kids to do formal learning until 7, but 'social training' was mentioned ! and I think age 1 is too young to go to nursery, especially when it can be from 7 am until 5 pm, 5 days a week.