Monday, December 19, 2011

Crying it Out

I had an interesting facebook moment the other day. Is it sad that I have facebook moments? Anyways, one of my friend's put an article on how it is harmful to let your baby cry out. I responded that the only thing that worked for me was letting him cry it out. It was either that, or my sanity. Seriously. He was waking up approximately 5-6 times a night. I mentioned in a previous post that I was sleep training, and i referred to an angry bear as my current state. After a few more months, I started to look like this:

I was just exhausted. I didn't want to do anything, and whenever bedtime approached I had heart palpitations thinking about how many times I would have to get up at night and "comfort him". Because the article said we need to comfort our babies all night long or else they will become serial killers.  I decided to sleep train. It was hard. It was all out war between me and Ibby. He didn't want to sleep. He wanted me to rock him, nurse, and walk him around his room all night. As much as I love doting on my child, I needed my rest. After a week of tears and frustration, he started sleeping through the night. No more swings, swaddle, and me stumbling back and forth from my room to his. It was magical. My life changed. I brushed my hair in the morning, became a functional human being, and am occasionally social. He still wakes up sometimes, and if he cries for longer then half an hour, I go in there to see what the problem is, so I am not the devil. 

After I commented about it, a few mothers indirectly jumped down my throat. I can almost hear the tsk tsk in their voices. "What a horrible mother. I still get up with my 6 year old at night and comfort him. True, I look like I have aged 20 years, and still cannot have a decent conversation or accomplish any tasks because I'm up all night, but my baby is going to be a wonderful adult."  Sorry Dr. Sears and all you loving moms out there. But my child cried himself to sleep. Me sleeping made me a better mother for my child, so I am all for crying it out, its either that or me crying all night and all day. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Life through my almost Toddler

I haven't blogged in a while. Most of you probably think it's because I'm lazy. But the reason is ya'll is because I don't think I've cooked a good meal or read a book for a while now. When I go into the kitchen to cook, Ibby is attached to my legs nagging and crying. I basically throw together meals in under 5 minutes hoping that nothing splatters my son and that the food is edible. Everything I cook now is to accommodate my EXTREMELY picky baby. This kid is the pickiest eater ever. My nerves are frayed, and he isn't even a toddler yet. If it wasn't for bananas and oatmeal, he would probably starve.

I haven't read a good book in months. When I sit down to read, he crawls up to the couch, stands up and swats the book out of my hand. He gives me this amazed look, like "did you really think I would let you read? Are you INSANE?" He proceeds to stomp on my book.  By the time I put him to sleep at night and I sit down to read, I pass out in a semi coma.

My computer use is limited. Whenever I sit down on the computer, he crawls underneath the desk, and stands up at my chair crying for me to pick him up. If I don't, he proceeds to destroy the printer. Once he is in my lap, he slams happily at the keyboard.

Also, on a side note, I am covered in his snot 90% of the time. TMI?

My life may seem bleek to ya'll, but I am lovin it. Because even though I have no time to do anything I want to do,  I get to do lots of other fun stuff.  This age he is at is probably the most fun age. We can play, read stories, and watching him experience things for the first time is awesome. True, if I read brown bear one more time I am going to rip the book up into shreds, but he gets such a kick out of it, how can I not read it to him? So I leave you with a very simple recipe. Lentil soup, which is one of the few things my child will eat. Enjoy!

1) Two cups of red lentils
2) One chopped up carrot
3) One chopped up onion
4) One chopped up red bell pepper
5) One potato
6) 3 cups of chicken stock
7) Salt and Pepper to taste
8) One tablespoon of cumin.
8) Olive oil

This is really easy to make. Saute the onions in some olive oil, add the stock and all the veggies and lentils. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer. I usually let it boil for around an hour, and then I add the cumin, salt and pepper, and use my hand blender to mix it. After that, I just pour a little bit of olive oil on top for flavor. Ibby loves it. I usually pour some for him on top of brown rice and he eats it up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upside Down Rice that Will Turn Your Mind Upside Down From Awesomness

If theres one dish that has stumped me time and time again, its maqlooba. This upside down rice turns my kitchen upside down and never turns out right. I've finally conquered my Everest, and have found an easy recipe that turns out perfect maqlooba everytime.

Compliments of my grandma in Halab.

1.5 Cups of Rice presoaked for at least an hour ( I use jasmine rice, don't ruin it with uncle bens!!)
4 small eggplants, preferably chinese eggplants. ( The bigger the eggplant, the more bitter)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup of frying oil
1 Potatoe sliced thinly
2 thinly sliced onions
1 thinly sliced tomato
1 lb of beef stew
1 tablespoon all spice
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon of pine nuts

First, saute and cook your ground beef and set aside.

Saute your beef stew and half the onions and cover with water and some salt. You will need almost 3 cups of beef stock for the rice, so make sure you put enough water in the beef. Prepare the beef however you prepare beef stew, in the pressure cooker or on low heat for an hour and a half, until the beef is tender.

Peel and slice your eggplants. I like to keep some of the skin on for flavor. Slice them into thick slices.

Add the cooking oil to a frying pan on medium heat and fry your eggplants until they are golden.

Remove the eggplants and let them soak on a paper towel to absorb all the extra oil. Sprinkle them with
some salt: 

Take the rest of your onions and saute them in some olive oil until they are golden brown and set aside. 

Start layering your dish. I start off with the potatoes at the bottom, followed by the tomatoes and the onions. Then I interchange some rice, meat and eggplants. I mix up the layers so that the rice cooks more evenly. 

Boil the beef stock  you used to cook the meat. Add 2.5 cups of stock  with some salt and the allspice to the rice mix and let it come to a boil, then turn on medium low. Cook it the same way you would cook normal rice. I usually cook rice for 20 minutes on low. Make sure all the water is absorbed before you remove from heat. 

Saute some pine nuts in butter until they are golden brown.

Take the ground beef and mix it with the pine nuts. Put it on top of your cooked rice in an even layer. Then, flip your rice onto a plate. I usually cook mine in a round pot so I get that cake look. 

And there you have it! Maqlooba. IF your rice doesn't cook, then scoop it out, add some beef stock and put it in the oven. Or cook it in a dutch oven and put the entire pot into the oven on medium heat. The key is to have presoaked rice and to add the beef broth boiling to the rice. Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Farah Ali Beef Stir Fry

Hey friends! I haven't posted in a while, but things have been CRAZY this Ramadan. I wanted to post a quick recipe that I recently made that was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! ( I'm spelling it out with CAPs just to emphasize how delicious it was.) I'm always on the lookout for a good stir fry recipe, and most of them are usually a big fail. But this one was great! The combo of the veggies with the beef and sauce was so yummy.The stir fry sauce had a distinct flavor that I'm always trying to emulate in my Asian dishes and fail to do so. This is by far one of my favorite stir fry recipes. Thank you Farah Ali for this delicious recipe!! =)

    • * Note on the recipe: When I made it, I used Shittake mushrooms which gave it an AMAZING flavor. Also I would add the beef first instead of the veggies, I think it would be easier to cook the beef.
      -1 bell pepper thinly sliced
      -1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
      -1/4 cup bean sprouts
      -handful of snow peas
      -(I used canned mushrooms bc I forgot to get fresh ones! so small can of mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh)
      - 1 green onion thinly sliced
      -1/2 small sweet onion thinly sliced

      - 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
      - 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
      - 1 tsp honey
      - 1 tsp lemon juice
      - 1 Tbsp garlic chili
      - 3 garlic cloves, minced
      - 2 tsp cornstarch
      - I used 4 Tbsp of chicken broth bc I had some left over, you can always use water instead

      Mix the sauce ingredients together and you can always taste it and see if you need to add anything to it, it tastes a lot better cooked than just like that! lol

      Heat a skillet on medium high with 3 Tbsp canola oil once it's completely hot mix in vegetables and stir for 1 min, then add the sauce, stir for 2 more minutes, then add beef and stir for an additional 3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ich, Each, or Eych? Or Ghada Bulgar Salad? You decide.

I noticed recently that all my recipes are main courses. I happen to have some very delicious appetizers in my repertoire, so I decided to share one with you. This is a top secret super delicious Halabi recipe called "Ich". ( Pronounced EECH in Arabic.) Or, for a more normal sounding name, lets call it Bulgar Salad. This is one of my favorite salads, and it's great to make the night before for a party. I got this gem of a recipe from my mom, so we shall call it Ghada Bulgar Salad.

In Halab, there is a dish much served and loved. It is called Kibbe Nayyih, or as we in the more developed world like to call it, E-Coli on a plate. Its basically raw meat ground up with bulgar and spices. It's delicious, but you alway eat it with a risk of ending up with failing kidneys. SO eat at your own risk! This recipe stems from the same method you use to make Kibbe, minus the meat and E-coli part. Try it guys, you will  LOVE it and then thank me for it by sending me presents.

1) One cup of fine bulgar, size 1. Make sure you use most ground up one they have at the store, not the big bulky size 3 kind.
2) 6 tomatoes
3) 1/4th a cup of Pomengrate syrup " Dibs Ruman". You can find this at your local Arabic store. It is delicious and is used it a wide variety of middle eastern recipes.
4) Half a tablespoon of hot pepper paste " Dibs Flafla". This is also found at the arabic store. Don't use any other kind, unless you want it spicy. The one at the arabic store is more sweet, so it gives it a delicious flavor.
5) 3 stems of green onions.
6) One and a half white onions.
7) Half a bunch of parsley
8) Salt
9) One cup of olive oil ( Only olive oil, not vegetable oil or anything else!)

First things first. Put your bulgar in a large mixing bowl.

Take 5 of your tomatoes and dice them up and throw them in the food processor. Pulse them up until they become a liquid puree. I forgot to take a picture of this step, because Ibby decided to have a meltdown at this point.  Afterwards, take the puree and pour it on top of your bulgar, and let it soak for at least an hour. Make sure you have enough tomato puree to cover all the bulgar, if you don't, puree some more!  It should look like this:

Finely chop one of the onions, the remaining tomato, green onions, and parsley. Divide them in half. Leave one half in a bowl, and the other half in a pot with the olive oil:

Once the bulgar is done soaking, put it back in the food processor with the half onion and the red pepper paste. Pulse it. You won't see a difference in how the bulgar looks, but trust me, it makes a huge difference in the texture.

Take the pot and put it on medium low heat. Cook the veggies on the low heat until they cook down a little bit, but not completely cooked. You just want to get them soft:

After they are soft, take them off the stove and let it cool off for a minute or two. Add the bulgar, the pomegranate syrup, salt, and the other half of the veggies you chopped. Mix it all together, and Voila, your done. I like to top mine with some chopped walnuts. Refrigerate before serving, because it's meant to be eaten cold. The longer its in the fridge, the yummier it gets because it allows the bulgar to soak up all the yummy flavor.

Take it to parties and let everyone think you spent hours making this and that your the next Ina Garten minus all the butter. And then thank me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cooking with Kids

No, this post is not about how to have fun with your little one in the kitchen. I prefer to keep little ones out of the kitchen. No, this is about how to make a decent meal when you have a screaming baby in the background. I used to post recipes and pictures as I was cooking, but those days are gone. I cook so quickly that a camera can't even catch what I'm doing. Instead, I'm going to give you some tips on how to cook when you have a baby.

1) Cook fast. Really fast.

I do everything super fast now, because most of it gets done during Ibby's nap time. I can clean a bathroom in under 12 minutes. I actually timed myself. The kitchen completely wiped down and clean in under 20. Seriously. I will probably be featured in the Guinness book of records, so keep an eye out for that.

2) Clear the kitchen before cooking.

Guys, don't start cooking with a full dishwasher and a sink full of dirty dishes. Make sure you are ready to go! The dishwasher is empty, the sink is ready for all your dishes, and the counters are clear. It makes cooking a whole lot easier when you can just stick stuff in the dishwasher and you have space to work with.

3) You are not Ina Garten anymore.

I used to have tons of fun in the kitchen. I'd experiment with recipes, make super difficult stuff, and spend hours researching new ingredients and techniques. Those days are gone. During the week I make super easy food and occasionally make something more challenging on the weekend since the hubby can take over baby duty.

4) Embrace the crock pot, stews, and Campbell's mushroom soup.

Make everything easier on yourself. Buy pre-made sauces. Make stew like there is no tomorrow. It's ok! The fact you have a home cooked meal is awesome, so who cares what you used to make it? I used to be a food snob and I'd avoid stuff like that like the plague. Now were best friends.

5) Freeze.

Cook batches of food and freeze it. Whenever you need some food and don't have time to cook and have pad thai takeout coming out of your nose, frozen food is like finding a gift in your freezer.

6) Cook in increments.

Chop stuff the night before. Prep during baby's first nap and then cook during the next. It makes life a whole lot easier.

7) Make the mother of all grocery lists.

Buy for the whole week. I live in an apartment, and my parking garage is approximately 5 miles away (It really isn't but it feels like that). The last thing I want to do is lug groceries from my car throughout the week. Buy in bulk as much as possible. Freeze meat. Sell out costco. Stock your pantry as if their is a nuclear apocalypse on the way to town.

Now, I shall leave you with a recipe I recently made that was super easy and reallly delicious. Thanks Create TV! =)

Cooks Country Lemon Chicken:
1 whole chicken (3 1/2- to 4-pounds), backbone removed and butterflied 
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 3 lemons
1 teaspoon sugar 
Salt and pepper 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 


· 1. SEASON Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine lemon zest, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Following step-by-step, rub 2 tablespoons zest mixture under skin of chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. (Seasoned chicken can be refrigerated for 2 hours)

· 2. ROAST Whisk broth, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and remaining zest mixture in 4-cup liquid measuring cup, then pour into roasting pan. (Liquid should just reach skin of thighs. If it does not, add enough water to reach skin of thighs.) Roast until skin is golden brown and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 20 minutes. 

· 3. MAKE SAUCE Pour liquid from pan, along with any accumulated chicken juices, into saucepan (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Skim fat, then cook over medium-high until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with remaining water in small bowl until no lumps remain, then whisk into saucepan. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and parley and season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce at table. 


More Lemon Flavor in Less Time Butterflying the chicken may be unfamiliar, but this surprisingly simple process makes it easier to flavor the chicken with lemon—and it speeds roasting, too.

1. Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press to flatten the breastbone.

2. Carefully loosen the skin, then rub zest mixture into the breast, thigh, and leg meat.

3. Roast the flattened chicken in the lemony sauce so that its flavor can permeate the meat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Mommy Must Haves for her Sanity List

Having a baby means more stuff. I have talked about that before. A lot of my friends asked me what stuff was necessary and what was a waste of money. I decided to make a list of all the things that helped me survive the past 6 months. Every baby is different, but I think there are a few key things everyone should have.  Enjoy!! =)

First of all, I'd like to thank my Ipad. If it wasn't for my Ipad, I would of fallen asleep and smothered my poor baby those first few months of nursing him all night. It kept me awake and entertained me. It has become my BFF. Me and the Ipad are like this. The Kindle on the Ipad has saved some of my brain cells because the rest of them have been killed my sleep deprivation and the music that baby einstein toys play.

I LOVE my stroller. Nowadays, strollers are totally a status symbol. I researched what stroller to get more then anything I have ever researched in my life. I tried the cool ones. The Orbitz Baby felt like I was pushing around an office chair, and it weighed 300 pounds. The Uppababy was soo freaking wide and heavy. In the end, I decided on my peg-perego. It is light weight, very sturdy, and not wide, so it can go through a lot of narrow places. I also make 40 million stops everytime I go out, and its easy and light to get in and out of the trunk. I Love it. Go buy it, now.
All the mamma's to be, I need to let you in on a secret. Breastfeeding really sucks the first few weeks. I know, everyone says your bounding with your child, its magical, blah blah blah. But it hurts like no other. and Your nipples pay for it. I tried the lansinoh cream the hospital gave me and ended up with Mastitis. I switched over to this stuff instead. It is AMAZING. It worked after the first application and made breast feeding more bearable. AND its organic, so your baby isn't eating chemicals.

Swaddling is recommended for newborns and young infants. Why? Because they startle themselves awake. If you swaddle them, it lessens the reflex and helps keep them asleep. Now, the aden and anais swaddle blankets are cute, but seriously, when your up in the middle of the night with a screaming baby, reswaddling him can be a tad bit hard. Thats why you should buy these premade swaddles. Just stick him in it and wrap him up. Its a snap.
A lady at a store told me to get this toy for Ibby. She told me it was amazing and kept her baby entertained for hours. Of course I bought it because I believe anything a sales clerk tells me ( much to the dismay of my husband.) BUT it actually works! I hung it on Ibby's car seat in the car, and he would just stare at it. I think the primary colors just speak to them. Now he plays with it all the time and it is one of his favorite toys.
This is a must. Its somewhere to put the baby during the day when he's awake, and you can occasionally rock the baby to sleep in it.  I love mine, and Ibby still sits in his. It has three settings, and can also be used as a rocking chair for toddlers.

Apparently babies either love or hate their bumbo seat. Ibby loves his. He plays in it all the time and reads his books like fluffy chick in it. After his 4 month appt, our ped pointed out that his head was starting to flatten and recommended we sit him up more. After he said that I made it my mission to prevent flat head, and this is one of the items that helped.
I tried the moby wrap. People swear by it. It just wasn't for me. I couldn't get it on right, and I was always afraid my baby was going to fall out. So I got this instead. Since my parking garage is 20 miles away from my apartment, this is extremely useful when I'm bringing in stuff from the car. It's also useful to put your baby in when he just wants to be held and you have 45 things to do. Try it out, you will love it just as much as I do.
I spent a lot of time planning Ibby's nursery. He's barely slept in it though. Instead, he's spent the first 6 months of his life in this pack n play, next to my bed. It's awesome. It is comfortable and best of all, it folds up really small so its easy to transport. It has gone everywhere with us and has withstood the elements.
This is by far Ibby's favorite toy. He loves it. From a young age he could grab it, the colors are appealing, and it makes a sound when you shake it. He's actually playing with it right now as I neglect him to write on my blog.

Love this swing. Only way he will nap. I know, your not supposed to let them rock to sleep, but I'm desperate. Also, the weight limit on it is 30 lbs, as opposed to most swings that are 25.

This shall do for now. I hope all these companies send me free stuff for endorsing them. =) Gluck mommies!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sleep Training

A few months ago, I posted that Ibby was sleeping through the night. For two magical months, I would get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was amazing. Then, when we hit the 5 month mark, sleep regression attacked us with no mercy. He started getting up every 2 hours. My life is miserable again. I have lost touch with my friends, my house is falling apart, and I've gone days without brushing my hair. It's not fun ya'll.  This is how I act now b/c of sleep deprivation:

I'm not even asking for a full nights sleep. All I want is a 5-6 hour stretch. Begger's can't be picky. Now, after 2 months of not sleeping, I decided it was time to start sleep training him. I have read every single book on the subject. Basically, its either let him cry until he passes out asleep, or keep comforting him less and less every night until he learns to fall asleep. That is a summary of 3 books that I wasted my money on. They basically keep repeating themselves. Fail. One author suggested I give him a "lovey", something to snuggle with. He literally flung it in my face. Do 6 month olds fling things in your face? Is that normal?

Dear sleep training authors, you need to write a book specifically for Arab babies. They are the most stubborn creatures in the universe. Ibby doesn't cry until he passes out. No he cries until he throws up, takes a breather, and then starts a new round. Comforting him? patting him on the stomach only made him angrier. I feel like making a huge bonfire with all my sleep training manuals.  As I shuffle between the rooms up to 5 times a night, I've come to an epiphany. The sleeping bear will not tolerate any training.  I moved him into his own room last week, and I thought that would help. Instead, he still doesn't sleep, and I get to go back and forth between the rooms, until I eventually pass out on this:

Not only am I not sleeping, now I get to not sleep on a futon. So what is the solution?  I don't know. I tried sleep training for the past month and a half. Yesterday we had SLIGHT progress, so I'm hoping it pays off. Yes, Arab babies are the most stubborn babies on the face of this earth, but so are their moms. I keep telling myself, he has to eventually sleep, and hopefully all this training will pay off. Dr. Sears, I deserve a medal for all the sleep training I have done. I'm thinking of writing my own book that combines all the methods and works specifically for crazy babies. Pray for my sanity ya'll!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Birth Story Part 2 and First Few Weeks Home

Before I went into labor, I thought the hardest part would be the labor, and the hospital stay would be a breeze.


Turns out labor is the easy part. Why? There are a few reasons:

A) Ibby was a little tiny baby and I felt like if I held him wrong I would break him.
B) I hated my room and the nurse that was attending to me. She was mean. And she wore a steelers jersey. Enough said.
C) Breastfeeding is hard.

When they roll you from labor and delivery to your room, it feels like your walking down the red carpet at some award show. Everyone looks at you and admires your baby. Now when I think of it, Ibrahim looked pretty much like every other baby at that hospital, so maybe those nurses exxagerated a bit, but it made me feel like I had the cutest baby in the world mA. ( And as a matter a fact, I do, so maybe those nurses were on to something.)

I got to my room around 8 AM. When I say room, I mean a tiny little box that barely fit my bed and a chair. I could barely fit in the bathroom. They dropped me off with the baby and left. The hubby had to leave to go get my family from the airport.

Ibby just slept most of the day, but when he was awake, it was the ultimate latching battle. Getting a newborn to latch on correctly to nurse is super hard. It was for me anyways. I had to feed him every 2.5 hours, and by the time I'd finally feed him, it was almost time to feed him again. I spent most of the time trying to keep him awake. The mean nurse kept telling me to strip him down to his diaper, but I was worried he'd get too cold.

After that, my mom came with my bro and sis. It was a relief to finally have my mom there. I wanted to just leave the hospital and go home. That night, after everyone had left, I was getting ready to settle for the night when the nurse comes in and informs us we had to change rooms. I got really annoyed and didn't feel like packing everything up and going, but they had to do construction on the floor above us. So we moved to a different floor on the hospital.

THANK god they moved us! The room was twice as big, and the nurses were sooo nice and helpful. The next day was alot better because I had help from the nurses.

Around midnight on the 2nd night, I decided to change Ibbys diaper. I took off his diaper and he greeted me with a spray of liquid. And he peed, and peed and peed. It would NOT stop. I kept trying to cover it with a diaper and he ended up spraying me and his bed. Frantically, I pulled the emergency cord. The nurse came running in.

"Whats wrong?"

I started crying, " He PEED EVERYWHERE!"

 I had mini nervous breakdown, and the nurse calmly cleaned him up and his bed. She told me it wasn't a big deal. Little did I know that Ibby would continue to spray me occasionally when I change his diaper, but now I'm prepared with a battle plan. I'm probably the quickest diaper changer in the world now.

When I finally got home, It was a relief. It felt nice to be home around all my things and cute baby stuff I had spent hours organizing and folding and washing. Within hours all organization ceased and I was frantically throwing things around, trying to find onsies, towels, and other things I needed buried in things that I'd probably never use. He spent all day sleeping, and I'd wake him up every 2.5 hours to feed him. That night, we had some kabobs for dinner, and some of them were spicy. I didn't think it was a big deal, and I ate some.

big mistake.

Ibby didn't sleep a wink that night. To top off our already difficult nursing sessions, the spicy food gave him INSANE gas. He cried non stop till 4 AM. When He FINALLLY fell asleep I had to wake up him an hour later to feed him. Lesson learned.  To this day I do not touch spicy food.

A few nights later, I started having chills. I thought it was nothing, I was just tired. Then, I woke up with a full blown fever and I felt like someone had hit me with a truck. I diagnosed myself with the flu. I refused to take the flu shot when I was pregnant, and spent all of flu season avoiding people and drowning my hands in hand sanitizer. Right after I had the baby I got the flu shot, but much to my dismay I caught it. I wore surgery masks the rest of the day whenever I nursed him and handed him off to my mom or hubby to change and burp. I was incapable of doing anything else. The fever, exhaustion, and achiness knocked me out. Breastfeeding had turned into a nightmare. Nursing became excruciatingly painful. I called my doctor and she diagnosed me with Mastitis, which is a breast infection you get if your baby doesn't latch on correctly. I spent 4 days in a haze, and took as much tylenol and motrin as possible in order to be able to nurse him. I finally felt better after a few days.

At the hospital, Ibby had a semi high bilirubin level, but it wasn't anything worrisome. He become even more jaundiced when we got home, and we had to get his levels checked out. Thankfully, they weren't that high, but the jaundice made him sleepy for about two . So the first two weeks, he literally just ate and slept. It was pretty easy. After my mom left, he decided hey, I need to make up for all the crying I missed out on those two weeks.

The week I spent alone without my mom was extremely hard. I had no idea what to do with him. I wanted to call 911 everytime he coughed. The idea of bathing him terrified me. And he decided that he didn't want to sleep anymore at night. I analyzed his poop color millions of times to see if maybe he was just lactose intolerant,and that was why he suddenly became so fussy. I probably cried more that week then he did. Thankfully, my mother in law came, and helped me. If it wasn't for her Ibby would have a bald mom right now.

After my MIL left we seemed to get the hang of things. True, he didn't sleep that much at night, but we were in a comfortable routine, and I was able to function during the day alone with him.

Pure Michigan Ad Ain't got Nothing on This

This is what used to pop into my head before I got married about Michigan:

We all know Dearborn. The flocks of Arabs that migrate to Dearborn every year to buy groceries, eat mezza at Ajami and buy boxes and boxes of dessert from Shatila to give their neighbors and to gorge on during the late nights of Ramadan. Dearborn is the Arab foodies paradise. Enough said.

Abandoned buildings. Detroit is full of these. The dying city of the Midwest.

Fun weddings. Look at how much fun that groom is having. Detroit has a huge wedding industry thanks to all the Arabs. Belly dancers, huge halls, arab djs, the works. Plus theirs like 50,000 Arabs living there, so you will have tons of people you barely know at your wedding doing dabke like there is no tomorrow.

Obviously, I didn't know much about Michigan. When my husband told me we were going to go on a two day trip to northern Michigan, I thought to myself, what the freak is there to do up there? Did they convert an abandoned building to a hotel? Are we going to get robbed? Or better yet, am I just going to wander around state parks looking at trees and stay at some motel on the side of the highway? ( I am not a nature nor motel person.)

Turned out I was wrong! There's lots of things to do in Michigan, or Pure Michigan as the ads like to tell us.
There is a beautiful park called Sleeping Bear. It has these amazing sand dunes on the lake. It was really nice to walk around and look at the sites and all the people trying to climb up the sand dunes.
We had a sleeping bear in our car.
Theres an Island called Mackinaw Island where old people ride bikes like these.
There's an old fort where people dress up like soldiers. They probably think they are soldiers.
Michigan also has creepy exhibits about vaccines.
All in all, I had a ton of fun. Northern Michigan is beautiful, and Traverse City has the best Chai Latte I've ever had in my life. Go there. But not in the winter, because everything will be covered in 10 feet of snow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Never Say Never

When I was pregnant, I came up with a list of things I would never do as a mother.  I was going to be different, not take the easy way out, and have an exceptional child. Hopefully Ibby will still be exceptional, but I've pretty much done everything I said I wouldn't do.

1) I won't clutter my life with baby stuff.

When I first moved into my apartment, I spent DAYS meticulously decorating it. I loved my loft, and I still do. I wanted to go for a modern/ shabby chic feel. I browsed online for hours getting ideas. I picked out a color palette that I had throughout the apartment. I was impressed when I was finally done. When I found out I was pregnant, I vowed I wouldn't ruin my decor. I would have the bare minimum of baby stuff. 6 months after Ibby's arrival:

This is only about 25% of my clutter. I have every baby gadget on the market. Amazon prime has been the downfall of me. Those sleepless nights of desperately trying to put him to sleep has ended up with me buying a lot of things I don't really need, even though the 5 star rating and the 100 comments about how I can't live without this item convinced me I did. I could probably start a daycare with all the baby stuff I have.

2) I will not have a clingy baby.

I used to see babies that would scream their heads off when their moms would leave the room. "I'm never going to be like that, my baby is going to be independent." How independent can you make your baby when you spend every waking hour with them? When you find the answer to that, please let me know. If I leave Ibby's line of vision, he releases sirens louder then any ambulance I've ever heard. It was cute in the beginning, but now its embarrassing when I'm visiting the in laws and he has a melt down when I leave the room.

3) My baby will sleep alone in his own room.

This one went out the window day 1. It's bad enough nursing him 50,000 times a night, but to have to get out of bed and go into another room was out of the question. Ibrahim has a lovely crib, but hes yet to use it. That's our project we're working on right now, getting Ibrahim to sleep in his own room. I would love to be able to read a book before bed or have a conversation with the hubby. Instead we tiptoe around and are scared to roll over in bed in fear of awakening the sleeping bear ( that's his new nickname.)

5) I will not use a swing to put my baby  to sleep.

Refer to the picture above, and you will notice not 1 but 2 swings. I also have a bouncy chair. Ibby refuses to nap unless he swings to sleep, and I have learned to live with that. Thank you Graco for making my life a little bit easier.

Well, the sleeping bear has arisen, and I must go tend to him. All the future mommies out there. don't make lists and set yourself up for disappointments!! =)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vacation Take 2

When Ibby was 3 months old, I flew by myself to go visit my parents. I dreaded the trip. I didn't sleep for nights before worried about what Ibrahim would do on the plane. When the big day arrived, I was on the verge of taking zoloft just to calm myself down before we left. Surprisingly, Ibrahim was an angel the entire plane ride, and just nursed and fell asleep.
 3 months later, its vacation time with him again. This time, its a 6 hour car trip. Bring out the zoloft.  I made list after list. I packed my altima until every possible spot was used to transport his things. I took an entire duffel bag full of toys for him, pureed a garden of vegetables, cereal, 100 change of clothing in case he decided to vomit every 5 minutes on the way there. In case our car broke down and we were stranded in the wilderness, I had enough diapers to last us a month and build a shelter out of them. Here's a picture:

Needless to say, I was prepared for every possible situation. We get in the car as I'm biting my nails and fighting down nausea. He starts staring at himself in the mirror and laughing. Then it started raining and he fell asleep to the sound of the rain. Two hours later, he woke up and I nursed and changed him in some boonie service station in Ohio. He fell back asleep and slept until we reached our destination. As we were unpacking 1000 million things around midnight from the car, I felt slightly foolish that I had packed him his winter coat and a sun hat in his carry on. The fact he had a carry on is also a bit foolish. But GOOD news everyone, we survived our ROAD trip!! How were dealing with his ear piercing stranger anxiety is another post to come.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Turning Into My Mom

When I was younger, I'd watch my mom slave for a week over a dinner party. She'd plan the menu, scrub the house down, and make 65 trips to the grocery store. Then she'd make enough food to feed approximately 50 people. This would be excellent if we were in fact inviting 50 people, but it would usually only be a family or two.

Don't get me wrong, my mom has awesome azimas. She makes the best food that we would spend the next 2 weeks finishing off.

"I'm never going to be like that." I was not going to stress and overcook.

Reality --> I had a simple dinner party for 8 people last weekend.

I started planning the menu. It started out with two things, but i was plagued my an unnatural fear of not having enough food. As I walked through the grocery store shopping for food I kept adding to the menu.

My thought process:

" Two dishes and a salad are more then enough."

5 minutes later:

" What if they hate both dishes? I'll make a third one."

1 minute later:

" I need some sort of appetizer. What if they're hungry right when they come in and the food isn't ready?"

A few seconds later,

" I need to have an open buffet with 5 dishes, salad, appetizer, and soup."

I couldn't stop these thoughts people! I got to the point where I was going to have a chocolate fountain and have stations with different types of food. I realized I was suffering from something, a debilitating disorder I like to call:


Being Arab means it's in your blood to overfeed people and make tons of food for a party. You can't fight it. You must accept the fact that you will never have a classy sit down dinner with two other couples and just serve them dinner on a plate. No, you will have endless buffets full of glass Pyrexs and every type of stuffed vegetable imagined. You will spend a week sobbing in the kitchen as you roll another container of yabraa and make another pint of riz bi haleeb. Stop fighting it y'all! Live with it, accept it, and move on with your life. I'm writing this as im icing down my feet and staring at the 50 pounds of leftovers we have to finish this week. I am at peace with my arabness.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Love Vacations

So it's been forever since I've blogged. I wasn't that great when I didn't have a baby, but now I've pretty much abandoned my blog. But to all my avid readers, rejoice, I have decided to re-enter the online blogging world now that I am getting 8 hrs of uninterrupted sleep a night.

Yes, before you do a double take, I did just say 8 hours. For all you new mommies out there, there is hope that you will once again rejoin the human race and not walk around like a zombie anymore. I'm saying mA and knocking on wood and doing everything else not to jinx myself, because Ibby has great sleeping habits mashAllah. I feel human again. I actually brushed my hair the other day.

Mommyhood has been a learning experience. I thought having a set of twin bro and sis that were 19 years younger then me would of prepared me for taking care of Ibby. Boy was I wrong. With the twins, I could hand them off to my mom whenever I couldn't handle them. With Ibby, I have nobody to hand him off to.
The first few weeks were pretty hard, especially when your OCD like me. I freaked out when he coughed and I would cry along with him when he cried. He once gagged a little bit on his vitamins and I was this close to calling an ambulance. Needless to say, I was pretty tense those first 6 weeks.

Afterwards, things got easier. I learned his cues for hunger, I realized that sometimes babies cry for no reason, and I got used to not sleeping. Sleep. Had I known how sleep deprived I would be I would of probably spent my entire pregnancy hibernating.

Nowadays, I am vacationing at my parents and its been AMAZING. The fact that there is no snow and  I don't have to do all my housework in 2 hr increments when Ibby is sleeping has been great. Eating my mom and grandmas food  has also been a pleasing factor. Seeing all my friends and having a social life is fun. Talking to someone who talks back to me during the day has been refreshing. It is a much needed vacation. I will be cooking with my grandma, so a delicious post is to follow iA. Stay tunedd!! =)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And Baby Makes Three!! ( Alhumdulilah)

I'm sure all my hundreds of readers have noticed how I haven't posted lately. Well, on December 19,2010 we were blessed with Ibby! Since then, I've had no concept of day or night, and my days have been 3 hour intervals of feeding, burping, and diaper changes. Now, almost two months later, I think we finally got the hang of it and I can attempt to post on my blog.

Lets start from the beginning, on how Ibby decided to make his appearance.

My due date was December 25th, but around the 15th I became a bit impatient. I decided it was time to get things rolling. From then on, I cooked, scrubbed, and walked obsessively everyday. Finally, on December 17th,  I started having contractions.

Friday the 17th started out like any other day. I woke up with a lot of energy and decided to scrub my house again in hopes of inducing my labor. When I say scrub, I mean no crevice or corner was left behind. The insides of my cabinets were wiped. My refrigerator was cleaned. I got on my knees and cleaned all my baseboards. Now some of you might think this is a bit much, but I was a woman with a mission. After my cleaning frenzy, I decided I needed to take a long walk to speed things up.

That night, my husband and I went to\ an indoor botanical garden. They had a special candle lit tour, which turned out to be retarded, because it was so dark we couldn't see any of the plants. But we walked all over the place, and I started feeling some painful irregular contractions. I'm sure everyone around us thought I was crazy, because I had to stop every once in a while to breath through my contraction. After that, we headed to my favorite Asian restaurant and I had a huge meal to tide me over for the next 3 hours.

All night I was having contractions, around 10-15 minutes apart. By morning they were getting more painful, but still irregular. We decided to get some shopping done. We got in the car to go buy a baby chair. I decided I couldn't go into labor unless I had my chair. Now my city only has 3 baby stores, so our options were pretty limited. We drove to Baby Depot, and my husband dropped me off in the front so he can park the car. As I was walking in, my contractions kept getting more and more painful. I had to stop every few minutes as I was walking to the back. People were staring at me, and probably thought I was some obsessed shopaholic who had to have one last shopping spree before she popped. Or maybe they were staring at me because I was in obvious pain. After what seemed like hours, I made it to the back of the store. My husband caught up with me, and we both came to the conclusion it was time to cut our shopping trip short and head home. Of course, I couldn't leave without my chair. I randomly picked a chair and went to pay, all the while having contractions.

Now comes the most annoying part of labor. How do you know when to go to the hospital? My water didn't break, and my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart. My doctor said not to come in unless they were regular. Um, hello, my uterus isn't a machine! I was pretty sure my contractions were never going to be exactly 8 minutes apart! We finally decided to head to the hospital around 8 PM, because the pain was starting to get unbearable.

I walked into the hospital, where I had spent the past 7 months coming and going to my OB appointments. When they hooked me up in triage and checked to see how far I was dilated, they said I was only 2 cm and they couldn't admit me till I was 4. I felt like the nurse had taken out a huge needle and burst the huge bubble I had above my head which was brimming with excitement about the prospect of finally having the baby. There was no way I was going home without a baby. We got up, and decided to walk around the hospital until I was dilated enough to be admitted. I needed my pain meds!

We walked, and walked, and walked. Finally, when it got to the point that I couldn't stand through my contraction, around midnight, I went back to have them check me again. I was 4 cm! Yayyyy I was finally admitted.

Now, I became slightly delusional as my labor progressed. After I was admitted I thought to myself, hey, I'm doing ok without the pain meds, maybe I can go without an epidural. I can be one of those cool moms that has the proud badge of a NATURAL BIRTH and everyone would stare at me in awe when I told my birth story. I already had the story composed in my head on how things would go:

"No it wasn't hard at all guys. I mean, I was in labor for like 2 days, but I bore through it, and somehow came up with the strength to bear the pain. Look, here's the trophy I got at the hospital for having a natural birth."

 Everyone would smile at me and pat me on the back, all the while thinking in their heads, wow she was so brave and strong.

30 minutes later, reality set in, and my delusions were swept away with waves of pain I had never experienced before. It was time for an epidural.

Epidurals are great. After I got it, I felt like I was having a sleepover at the hospital, and my labor and delivery nurse chatted with me all night. I didn't feel anything, and the rush of adreneline in my veins made everything feel suprisingly pleasant. Finally, my doctor came in to check me at around 5 AM. She had warned me that once I took the epidural, my labor would slow down. Ok cool, I can spend all day like this! When she came and checked me, I was fully dilated and ready to push.

At that moment, I was hit with a huge anxiety attack. Apparently pregnancy isn't just getting a cute basketball belly, buying tiny clothe, and having strangers smile at you and open doors. You actually have to have a baby. The fear set in, but I'm glad it was then and not my entire 9 months of pregnancy. I started pushing, and 36 minutes later, the most amazing thing I've ever experienced happened, Ibby came out and was placed on my belly.  All you moms out there know what I'm talking about. That feeling you get when you finally see your baby is amazing. The entire room disappears and all you can see is this little bundle on your chest trying to adjust to the outside world. I'll never forget that moment. Afterwards was a flurry of pictures, phone calls, and off to my room we go! To be continued.....