A Valentine for Gretchen Rubin
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So, I’ve subscribed to Gretchen Rubin’s blog and have almost…okay not almost… read everything she’s ever written. I’m obsessed with her. There I said it. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Gretchy. You know, because we’re tight like that. She writes with conciseness and clarity and is so freakin’ real it kills me and makes me want to stalk her and show up at her apartment with something.

This post is inspired by Gretchen’s latest article, “For Valentine’s Day: 7 Mistakes I Keep Making in Romance and 5 Things I Do Right.” Except she is clearly way more organized than I am (silent sob) because she published it on February 9.

In with my 6 years of marriage and with 3 very-young kids, I’m very aware of the 7 mistakes I keep making and the 1 or 2 things I do right. Okay, 3 on a good day.

So, Gretchy, if you are reading this (and you are, right?) here’s my 7 Mistakes and 5 Things I Do Right with my hubby since having kids.

 

7 Mistakes:

  1. Keep my emotions to myself. I sob, okay? Who doesn’t? But I think I have to start sobbing somewhere where he can’t see me.
  2. I make the After Effects of #1 into a whole thing. So that’s like Sobbing plus Sobbing about the Sobbing—would that be SoSobbing?
  3. I’m at the bottom of that list. Like way down. I know I have one body. One life. One chance to take my vitamins, which I totally forgot to take today. Damn.
  4. I overplan and overcomplicate sometimes…for example, the peacocks at our daughter’s birthday. Necessary?
  5. I am needy. There, I said it. Guys love that though, right? Right.
  6. One time I asked him to make dinner. That was a mistake on my part. I can admit that. #hellofoodpoisoning
  7. I drink too much coffee. The first one is necessary, the second is almost going over the limit. But the third? The third is insanity. I know it and just can’t stop myself.

 

5 Things I Do Right:

  1. I listen. I mean really listen instead of thinking of what my next witty comment will be and trying to hold on to the next thing I want to talk about before it escapes my mind and this sometimes involves jotting shit down on a napkin. Discreetly, okay? Geez.
  1. I no longer give him the opportunity to put me in the “outta sight outta mind” category. I stalk him with messages and post-its and videos when he travels. It’s thoughtful and persistent. I also high-five myself for it.
  1. My beliefs are things I do right: Everyone should get a dooley glitter-covered card for Valentine’s. Love is never overrated. Cupid does exist. He’s besties with Santa. FACT.
  1. I put it all out there, and that’s good for the soul. If we argue, we make up. I would never go to bed stewing over what I didn’t say—because I say it alllllll.
  1. I greet the day with smiles, kisses, dance-offs and end the day the same way. Usually.

I’m not sure if Gretchy would view my mistakes as things I do right, or vice versa, but I am sure that on today—Valentine’s Day—we should all give ourselves a little credit and hug for the things that just feel right.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my little chick peas!

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Why I Hate Maternity Photoshoots and Love Newborn Shoots
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I’m the farthest thing from an influencer despite what my daddy seems to think. But, having said that I’ve been trying to listen to some sound advice from…well, everyone and I’ve been making the most of a few of the opportunities I’ve been offered.  One of the most recent opportunities has been a photoshoot by the talented crew at Goldfish Photography. The other was a “special carpet” that you can remove any stain off of. Yes, some have been random and have had nothing to do with my brand but this is the social media game after all, isn’t it?

So it’s the second new born shoot I book with them and Goldfish (ummm…how do I suddenly have 3 kids?) made both great even with a crying 3 year old, a hyper 1 year old and a newborn all hanging around second time round.

Don’t get me wrong  though… yea, I love Monica Chindalia for making me feel pretty with a sweaty upper lip and a thousand breakdowns and pee breaks during my maternity shoot (shout out to her too @monicachindaliaphotography), but I think I DEFINITELY prefer newborn shoots. I mean, have you ever seen an ugly newborn picture?  It just doesn’t happen…but put a hat on that new teeny being and you have  adorableness for hours.  Trust me.

My trouble with maternity photoshoots is that I’m in them. As the focus. And I hate that. Especially when I’m about to pop out a baby because…

  1. I feel gross
  2. My eyes are almost always closed… I’m not sure if I get awkward or I genuinely blink way above the average
  3. Difficult to avoid the numerous pee breaks since mama photoshoots look best when it’s the third trimester and not like week #5 before the peeing goes into overdrive
  4. Difficult to avoid mama breakdowns and hiccupy sobbing with a photographer I’ve just met about how I will manage a newborn on top of a one year old and feisty toddler
  5. All round feeling vulnerable makes for less-than-gorgeous (in my opinion) and concerns that my dress is going to fall off and how much sand I might be getting in my face and eyes and hair and uterus?

But newborn photoshoots? I’m so there. I could do those all day.

  1. My newborn is cute
  2. He’s even cuter dressed up with accessories that 100s of other babies have worn or been adorned with
  3. Fussiness comes across as an “adorable face scrunch” in black and white
  4. Nobody can hear the screams
  5. Whoa, this photographer is super patient when my 3 year old attempts to lick the newborn’s head for the 15th time
  6. Ok, this lady is REALLY patient when all 3 puzzle pieces burst into tears unexpectedly and for no reason because why wouldn’t they?

A big shout out and thank you to Goldfish Photography—the entire team is brilliant, patient, and mega talented. (love you Becky and I really hope I made motherhood look…umm… interesting and fun).  Check out www.goldfishdubai.com and book them to experience their ‘special knack’ of bringing out the best in you and your newborn. Tears and snuggles and all. Thank you so much for capturing those special moments I can treasure forever. I guess what  I’m saying is that I’m ready to go for more kids’ shoots anytime you want to break out those yarn pants and unroll that sheepskin.  (Or my kids are. I don’t look my best on a sheepskin.)

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When Your Kid’s Birthday Party Fever Takes You Over, Here Are the Professionals to Get You Through It
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I’ve been a mom for over 3 years now and like my mom, I believe in birthday parties. I sometimes wish I were that mom who has a quiet cake-cutting and bowl of icecream at home and snaps a few candid photos, but I have my mama’s genes. And those genes tell me it needs to be big and I need to do it myself and if I don’t look absolutely exhausted with a rash from the extra-strength Super Glue on one hand and random feathers still stuck to my jeans then how will people know I’m the mama?

But this year I got some help. No, not therapy. The Big Moo. And a few others. Because in the midst of planning my three year old’s birthday (and wanting to make it special since last year she got a baby brother as a present and this year she’s getting another baby brother as an early Christmas present)… I got the fever. You know. Birthday party fever. Where planning a few friends to come over escalates into a duo-kid event. Enter the party planners. Because being 3rd-trimester tired and brain-fatigued, I needed help.

First, let’s break down the pain points involved in birthday parties.

What makes a kids’ birthday party a success for an adult:

  1. Something to eat other than chicken fingers and French fries
  2. Somewhere clean to pee
  3. Other “normal” parents to socialize with
  4. Doing the cake early enough, as in not at the very end when the kids are overhyped on sugar and become over-overhyped on the way home and do one of the following: a) pee, b) puke, c) have a tantrum, or d) all three

What makes a kids’ birthday party a success for a child:

  1. Sugar
  2. Loud music
  3. More sugar
  4. Giveaways that include candy
  5. Some sort of activity that involves bubbles, water, sand, or better yet—all three!

What makes a kids’ birthday party a success for mamas in Dubai who need help?

  1. Kakes by Me and her amazing creations. Finally a cake that looks and tastes as good as it looks. Sounds so cliché but it’s so so true. Oh, and they were the best for putting up with my indecisive nature. I wasn’t quite as bad as that mom who changes theme last minute, but I was pretty close by integrating a baby boy’s party into a toddler girl’s special day. From original cake pops to cute-looking clam and seashell and starfish cookies, the dessert table looked immaculate!
  2. Book Munch for feeding so many hungry bellies! It’s been beyond refreshing working with a company that mitigates kids’ unhealthy habits with healthy and appetizing options. The mini-sized treats were too good to pass up and the only problem we faced was everyone wanting a lot of everything! www.bookmunchcafe.com
  3. A dear old friend of mine and my kids is Dubai Drums and so a birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without them. Festive and energetic they had age-appropriate games and songs to entertain even my husband who resisted dancing for as long as he could! www.dubaidrums.com
  4. The Studio Photography Dubai for all the beautiful photos, making sure each was “magic” (ummm maybe they photoshopped those tantrums out) so that every one was a keeper.
  5. Remelie and Richard and their amazing voices at the Sofitel because they really managed to turn the function room into an opera house with the power of their voices alone.
  6. Jarful was the perfect giveaway with some yummy cakes and puddings neatly packed into…you guessed it… a jar. They even give you the option to customise a give away sticker or tag attached to the jar. Thoughtful and yummy! www.jarful.ae
  7. Last but certainly not least, I’m so thankful to have found The Big Moo events company or as I like to call them “no boo hoo” where they combatted every worry and silenced any doubt that this would be a successful event… you know, because you only turn 1 and 3 once! Special shout out to Lina Manuel who was such a find and I really felt like I was throwing ideas back and forth with a sister who reined in the fever ideas—like having a 20-man orchestra just for the introduction to sing her happy birthday—and support better ideas like cute homemade juice boxes. Doable, practical and adorable. It felt so much more relaxing to have someone hold my hand through it all and after what feels like 1,001 voicenotes later, the birthday extravaganza is over, I haven’t delivered (thank God) and I’m busy opening gifts and sending out thank yous. I really would recommend working with The Big Moo for their unique ideas, fun-loving attitude (and sporadic dance moves while helping me set things up) and stamina (they started at 9 am!). www.thebigmoouae.com
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Dear fellow thirtysomething mum
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I rarely repost articles or pieces from other blogs unless I love love love them. I mean, borderline obsessing and wishing I wrote them type of thing. So here you go, this one’s a good one IN CASE you didn’t come across it on your own! Here’s to keeping it real…and check out her blog www.littlesloveandsunshine.com.

Dear fellow thirtysomething mum,

I see you in the supermarket, I see you at the playground. I see you at the school drop-off, I see you on the train and in the kid-friendly restaurants. Sometimes you see me too, and we exchange a little smile, an eye-roll, an “I get it” moment. More often you don’t see me – you are chasing your toddler down the aisles, watching your pre-schooler like a hawk as she climbs higher than you’d like, admonishing your kid for pinching her brother, reaching for a wet wipe, mopping up a spilled drink.

A few days ago I was at our public swimming pool, and if ever there was a stark metaphor for life as a mum in her 30s, the public swimming pool has to be it. There we all are – the stereotypes we swore we never would be – wading knee-deep in the kiddies’ pool, eyes locked on our littles – and genuinely delighted by their antics. Although we may be there in pairs or groups, our conversations are piecemeal, we cannot relax. Our focus is entirely on our children. We are tired. We are distracted. Our tankini-clad bodies are battle-scarred and utterly not what they used to be.

Up on the hill are the shiny twentysomethings. They are flipping through magazines, chatting to their friends, Facebooking and selfie-snapping on their iPhones. They are rested. They are toned. They are magnificently oblivious to what is coming their way in the future. They don’t even see us. Or if they do, they swear they will never be us.

It’s okay. We were there once, and we know better than to be offended.

You see, the truth is, we thirtysomethings have let ourselves go. No. We have let our SELVES go. We have small children and for the next little while, our SELVES will not come first. We will be sleeping (or not) according to the timetables of our toddlers and/or newborns and/or a combination of the above. Our hair will not be washed as often as we’d like. Sit-ups? What sit-ups? We will be wiping noses and bottoms and messes from the walls. We will be cooking what feels like continuously from breakfast to supper time and not leaving the table until at least a forkful of peas have been eaten. We will spend hours a week kneeling by the side of the bath and then reading “just one more” bedtime story until we pass out on the edge of the toddler bed. We will be fluent in the language of Paw Patrol, Sofia the First, Peppa Peg and Doc McStuffins, and will use said characters shamelessly as threats, bribes, or as digital babysitters so we can dash upstairs to grab a shower. We will find ourselves negotiating with terrorists even though we swore we never would. We will answer to “Uppy” and “More” and “I don’t want to”, and we will say “What’s the magic word?” more times a day than we ever imagined possible. This is thirtysomething. It’s not easy – and that’s the truth.

But there is another truth. Up there on the hill, nestled subtly amongst the twentysomethings, are the fortysomethings. They too are rested. They too are toned. They are alone, quietly reading a book. They see us, and they are sympathetic but also a bit smug. They’ve been there and done it and they know it doesn’t last forever. Girls, fortysomething is the holy grail. Fortysomething is coming.

The decade we get our SELVES back.

Not that I want to wish away the time. Although thirtysomething so far is a bit of a blur, it’s also a kind of magic. Never again will I feel a squidgy cheek rest on my chest in the middle of the night. Little arms reaching up to me after a fall. The delicious baby smell and the little pairs of skinny jeans and sparkly trainers. The scooter rides and monkey bars and the bed time stories with a small person in the crook of each arm. Hearing “I want Mummy,” and “Please can you help me?” and “I want to huggle you.”

Yes, fortysomething is coming, and it’s going to be bliss. But don’t let it come too fast. If I’m to lose my self for a decade, motherhood sure is a delicious thing to lose it to.

Love, Catherine

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So, what’s in Magic Mommyhood’s diaper bag?
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Having a baby is stressful enough without all the anxiety behind trying to “handle” your baby’s first big poop. In public. Alone. So, get ready your pen and paper to take down some notes on what’s in Magic Mommyhood’s diaper bag?

Off the top of my head (I mean, my preggo-hampered brain) I would say:

  1. Baby wipes

Yes, baby wipes…like A LOT. I prefer Mustela baby wipes. Sure, they’re a little more pricey than Johnson & Johnson but there are discounts on all Mustela products every so often at the Baby shop in Oasis Center and in Dubai Mall. Worth stocking up when there is. And if Mustela isn’t your thing order some good ol’ fashioned Chubs baby wipes http://www.miniexchange.com/chubs-babywipes-flow-pk-1×72-20-wipes at a discounted 5 dirhams a pack on http://www.miniexchange.com

  1. Hand sanitizer

Poop is gross. I don’t care if it’s your baby’s, it’s still poop. I go through a lot of mini Dettol hand sanitizers http://www.junglee.com/Dettol-Instant-Hand-Sanitizer-Green/dp/B00E9QB3E8 and then rehydrate my hands with a mini hand cream from L’Occitane.

http://usa.loccitane.com/shea-butter-hand-cream,82,1,29193,261659.htm

It’s all about mini versions of essentials in this mommy’s diaper bag!

  1. Diapers (duh)

I’ve found the FINE brand to have the least leakage…very unexpected for a previous loyal Pampers customer. It’s worked so far (touch wood.) with zero leakage and you can find them at any Union Coop.

  1. A Toy for distraction

Look no further than Daiso in Dubai Mall https://www.insydo.com/gap-kids/3458 where you will be sure to get something affordable, unbreakable and with a very annoying sound to keep your child distracted while he lies flat on his back and tries to squirm away mid-diaper change. Look for the squeaky toys. They have gotten me through many messy situations.

  1. Change of clothes

A change of clothes for your baby… sometimes for us mamas too and definitely for your toddler who is newly potty trained and still seems to “forget” that she has to pee when she’s busy playing. This has mostly happened at Le Petit Palais in Dubai Mall. I really spend a bulk of my afternoon apologizing for things I haven’t done. https://www.insydo.com/search:?q=le%20petite%20palais Easy to wear onesies and jeggings are plenty to choose from at the Baby Gap https://www.insydo.com/search:?q=gap%20kids and the Baby Shop https://www.insydo.com/babyshop/3334. Stock up!

  1. A changing pad

Foldable and durable are two key qualities when looking for a changing pad. The best one I’ve found I bought on souq.com

http://uae.souq.com/ae-en/dooky-changing-mat-lady-bug-8651735/i/ with dooky’s distracting design. Again, you really want something that can easily be folded up and wiped down… again and again and again.

  1. Sudocream

Any and every pharmacy has it, and any and every mama swears by it. Why make your bag bulky with a big tub of it? I say upgrade size as your baby’s bum grows! Starting off with a mini version is more than enough. http://dropstitchblog.blogspot.ae/2012/06/life-in-miniature.html

  1. Disposable seat covers

For the toddler who’s going to have to pee in public. A LOT. I order these off amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HCDGFY8/

although they’re also available at Mothercare.

 

So that’s pretty much it, mamas! 8 essential items. Break it down to basics and you’ll get through it with these items that should always be in any mommy’s diaper bag. Good luck, stay strong and remember, when in doubt sing “twinkle twinkle little star” in your baby’s face. The shock of how bad your voice is will surely quiet them down for a minute or two so you finish up that diaper change. On a side note – I still can’t believe I’m pregnant again…how am I going to fit everything into ONE bag?  Any suggestions?

*A big thank you to Insydo for publishing this first!

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