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The most practical parenting plan:3 stages of respectful parenting 

Today I came across a post on a popular mommy page where a mother was asking for book recommendations to teach her 5 month old baby. Teach. Not read to or show but teach.

The other day, another mom in the same group had posted a message out of panic. Due to being pregnant with her second child, this mother had been unable to teach her child to write and do sums and now she is worried that the child would be a failure and shunned. How old was the child in question? Two.

Two years old. 24 months.

We have fallen prey to the demands of this world. We created those demands and now, are in danger of being crushed by them.

When something as natural as learning starts to stress out the student or the teacher,then there is something unnatural in the mix. Take a break and evaluate your goals and priorities. 

“A child is a student when playing with sticks. 

A child is a student when learning to write between lines. 

A child is a student every single minute because he/she is already living his/her life; we must refrain from entertaining the thought that we need to train children to begin living their lives as adults

Here is a beautifully explained piece on parenting that I try to remember to live by:

“On the subject of raising children, Ali ibn Abi Taalib (RA) said:

“Play with them for the first 7 years of their life, then teach them for the next 7 years; and then finally advise them for the next 7 years afterwards .”
*First 7 Years
In the first 7 years, your goal is to build a strong connection with your child. This is the foundation, the base from which your relationship with them grows. If this rock is solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.
If you have young children, this (first 7 years) is the time to roll up your sleeves and invest, heavily, in yours and their future. In fact, you will be rewarded for all the righteous progeny that survives you, not just children, until the Day of Judgement.
*Next 7 Years
Once children reach 7, they are ready to learn. This is the time they are sponges, ready to soak up anything and everything you tell them, teach them, show them, and do in front of them. If you built that solid foundation in ages 0-7, they are now more than willing and happy to learn from you.
This is the time to teach them everything — aqeedah, halaal and haraam, fiqh, all the things they need to know to survive throughout their life. Qur’an and seerah are also very important; as one prominent tabi’een said, “we learned seerah (frequently and in details) from our parents the way we learned Qur’an.”
Teach them sports too, Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Teach your children Swimming, Archery and Horseback riding.” They gain many benefits from it, including physical fitness, learning teamwork, and sportsmanship.

*The Final 7 Years
Once your children hit 14, they are probably already mukallaf (full adults Islamically, and accountable for their actions) — this happens at puberty, or at age 15 at the latest.
At this age, you are mostly out of the picture. Children achieve independence; their personalities manifest; they look more to their peers than their parents and families. During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong.
If you worked hard during the last two periods of 7 years, you will already be that trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice. Be part of their lives, and advise them as best you can.

May the almighty aid us in raising our kids!

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Colour the traffic lights:preschool

Another fun way to teach colours and keep little hands occupied for hours(if you read on for the little trick)!

I printed this traffic light template for a quiet book back when I naively assumed I could follow a tutorial. Needless to say, it did not get used.

I came across the sheet when clearing a drawer and was struck with an idea to use it to keep my little guy occupied whenever the big sister needs my complete attention.

He is not a big fan of colouring- I had to get creative!

Stuck a piece of transparent sticky sheet thing on the page, hunted for white-board markers in red,yellow and green colours, and a dry eraser and left him to it.

Surprisingly, he was at it for a while; he liked being able to erase it over and over again.

You can download it off the following site.

This activoty made me realise how easy it is to come up with fun ways to teach and helped reinforce our aim of not wasting anything.

I’m sure you would have your own light-bulb moments in your learning journey;would love to hear from you!
Cheeky Giggles and lots of good wishes blown your way!

Children · Homeschooling · Homeschooling whilst Unschooling · Islamic Homeschooling · Islamic parenting · Kids tips · Kids videos · Kindergarten · Muscat Moms and Kids · Parenting · Unschooling

Learning the 5 senses

Children are anything but predictable. Their minds flitter as a butterfly would in a garden of flowers, always curious and a fascination to behold.

One of the many advantages of child led learning is the opportunity for impromptu lessons that turn out much better than any meticulously planned one. When you take your cues from the child, both the parent and the child embark on a fulfilling learning journey where you find information and new ways of understanding things.

Learning about our 5 senses was one such happy episode.

We had just finished some puzzles and NBaby needed a nappy change. IzGirl and NBoy were browsing through a few books (from the unsupervised access basket of books!) and were waiting for me to return with parts they wanted me to read out.

Turns out they both had picked books on our body and about breathing. This went on to a conversation about senses and we unconsciously covered that topic with a fun game!

Introduction to the 5 senses: Fun game

  • Hear: Make a funny sound and ask if they can hear it. Then ask them to cover their ears and try to listen to you whispering the same sound(a white lie, by all counts!)
  • See: Ask them to cover their eyes with their hands and then ask if they can see anything. For pirate-obsessed children like mine, covering one eye leads to at least a 5 minute distracted pirate play and a lot of yellings of “you mean jelly guts!”
  • Smell: Ask them to smell something, then repeat after asking them to pinch their noses.
  • Taste: Taste a yummy snack and explain why adults make sure not to let any medicated pills touch the tongue before swallowing.
  • Feel: Tickle their arms and ask if they felt it. Do remember to ask permission before you do or you’ll be subjected to a telling off regarding their bodies and boundaries!

Optimistic after the ease of handling an unprepared topic, I even came up with a song to help them remember this and they were  surprisingly delighted with it! Scroll down to listen to my littles and I, belting it out our way.

The Cheeky Giggle’s 5 senses song(to the tune of “She’ll be coming around the mountain”)
We can hear with our ears, with our ears,with our ears.

We can see with our eyes, with our eyes, with our eyes.

We can smell with our nose,

Taste with our tongue

We can feel with our skin, yes we can, yes we can!

All in all, a good day in the CheekyGiggles household. Let me stop now and not jinx myself.

Hope you can use them in your classroom/homes; do share your fun ways of handling new topics too.

Until next time,

Love and Giggles comes your way!

Baking tips · Expat Moms and Kids · Homemade · Homeschooling · Islamic Homeschooling · Kitchen tips · Muscat Moms and Kids · Muslim Mama · Natural alternatives · Recipes · Vegan

THE fudgy vegan brownie

I love potlucks!
Even before discovering my love for food(was quite late, surprisingly), I have always enjoyed a party where everyone brings in a dish to share. For that is what food means to me. Food is about family, friends and memories and what better way to enjoy all of that than by sharing different dishes together? 

It is quite easy to pick a dish when you know the crowd and are sure of preferences. 

It is less easy when you do not know the guests very well; different tastes,dietary needs and allergy issues are all factors.

When we were invited for a not-back-to-school beach bbq by our local homeschooling community, I went through my recipe book(yes, I write down my favourite recipes!) but could not settle on anything. A good friend would be attending with her family and I wanted to make sure that my dish was vegan to share it with them as well.  

When someone else picked salad, I decided to hunt for a brownie recipe because who does not love a good brownie?

I stumbled upon a wonderful blog full of healthy desserts; just reading some of them made me declare my intentions to eat healthy if healthy always looked like that! Visit her blog for more amazing recipes.

I adapted her vegan brownie recipe to fit whatever I had in my pantry and it turned out really well; did not miss the eggs and butter! 

I used hazelnut milk because it is a long established fact that hazelnut and chocolate has the best marriage, and opted for coconut oil because I hopped on to the coconut oil wagon quite a while ago and do not plan on getting off anytime soon. 

You may choose suitable substitutes. Maybe use wholemeal flour and make it a bit more healthy?

The recipe did not call for black beans or any ingredient that would require a run to the store- definitely my kind of recipe.

Give it a go and let me know if you liked it!

Just a heads up: although it is super fudgy, not too sweet, and just right with a cold glass of milk, it does stick to the roof of the mouth a bit. Nothing a good swig of milk can’t clean. 

Happy baking!

THE fudgy vegan brownie

  • Servings: 20 generous squares
  • Print


1 cup and 2 tbsp of hazelnut milk

1/2 cup and 3tbsp of virgin coconut oil

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour,sifted

1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp (heaped) salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup raw sugar 

2 tbsp corn flour

  • Whisk the milk, oil and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 165°C and prepare the baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all remaining ingredients. The original recipe emphasised on the “thoroughly”,and thoroughly is what I did.
  • Pour the whisked wet ingredients into the dry bowl and stir to combine. Do not be too vigorous or you’ll activate the gluten in the flour.
  • Transfer to baking pan, smooth down and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • The brownie would look a little underdone but the recipe promised that it will set in the refrigerator.
  • Allow to cool a little, cut into squares and pop into the fridge to cool and set well.
  • You can store this there for 4 days but you would be lucky if you have any remaining!

Nom nom nom

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Watch “Fun way to help children watch their words” on YouTube

Children say the darndest thing but that does not necessarily mean they are nice things. I do not force much upon my children but I am very particular about the way they speak to each other and to other people. Whilst I model the behaviour as much as possible, sometimes, a fun activity is just what they need to reinforce the message.

 You need a tube of toothpaste for each child. I am not comfortable wasting perfectly good products if they could be used in the proper way and so, used two tubes of toothpastes that we had decided not to use a while ago when we made the switch to herbal toothpaste.

Give them a bucket and let them squeeze away. Make sure to highlight how easy it is to get everything out. Then ask them to put it back into the tube using any tool or their fingers. Wait till they respond and then explain how the toothpaste represents words and how we need to watch what comes out of our mouths because you cannot take it back.

We hope you enjoy our conversation below and share your story with us too! Do you know of a fun way to teach such lessons? Please feel free to share them below.

Choices · Finding your path · Freedom · Social pressure · Way of LIfe

7 stages of becoming terribly unpopular in the world of adults

1. Choose the least trodden path

When you are pushed into being an “adult” with the passing of a birthday, you are immediately expected to follow the Pied Piper because you are now expected to go with the flow. 

The first stage of becoming unpopular is looking at other options. It is not an unforgivable offense but considering a path that has not been heard of is frowned upon.

Arm yourself with knowledge of all the possible routes and choose what works for you.

2. Stick to the path doggedly 

You are now on a quite lonely journey after choosing your path. Be ready to face problems because you cannot depend upon a list of solutions on hand. Use information to jump through the hurdles in your path. Be prepared for slight hostility and snarky remarks along with the discouraging stories.

Listen to every bit of data you are thrown but sift through and keep only what would help you on your chosen path. It may sting and it may burn but hold tight to your rope, for you are doing it right.

3. Dare to question the norm

Congratulations! You are now officially on the path to becoming properly unpopular. Now that you have chosen your path, it is time to start questioning the reasons behind having to follow a certain path. If all these people are doing it, there has to be something in it, yes? Find the reasons. 

Ask, learn and share your findings. Question the logics and be stubborn with the responses. Nothing has to be set in stone; you might even feel the norm is the way to go! Keep an open mind and question every aspect.

4. Defy the norm

You are now on shaky grounds; you still have one chance of returning to the comforting company of many or bearing the storm on your own. Make the decision based on your findings from the previous stage. If you feel that the usual route will serve you best, do it with all your heart and feel free to stop reading. 

If you are determined to contest for being the most unpopular, keep reading.

Make your informed decision and do whatever you need to do to twist away from the other path. Do it with a bang for extra points.

5. Refuse to heed the unsolicited advice

If you thought you were stubborn, think again. For no one can be more persuasive than people who cannot bear to see another making separate choices and breaking away from the pack. Under the pretense of concern, you will now be showered with gentle chidings and a few horror stories too.

Do not bother to explain why you do not agree with them; be creative. The best way to annoy them is to blatantly not listen to any advice that would take you off your path.

6. Stick to your guns even if left alone

You are almost there! Now that you have established yourself as a stubborn fool, be prepared to be shunned. You have an opportunity to pretend to be a celebrity because all eyes will fall on you,judging and awaiting your fall.

Question the importance of certain people in your life and complete this stage accordingly. Enjoy the solitary benefits that come with your advanced stage. 

7. Take a stand and stop apologising and explaining your successes. A smile would do in most usual cases.

 Want to know of another way to be sure of completing the 7th level?

Talk/write about it and you are golden; you have now succeeded in reaching the premium levels of being unpopular. 

Bask in the warmth of their disapproval, for you now have fresher air to breathe and grow.

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Watch “A neat trick to put your shoes on!” on YouTube

The other day NBoy asked me if his shoes were on the right feet and I absentmindedly shook my head, to which he indignantly said something about butterflies. Upon asking he told me how he identifies the right foot. He is a smart cookie but I was gobsmacked by the sheer brilliance of this simple tip! The big sis, IzGirl, had apparently taught him this. When I asked her about it, she casually told me about it and said she figured it out one day when her feet felt funny after she mixed the shoes up! SubhanAllah(Glory be to the almighty!), children are far more intuitive than we give them credit for!
Hope you enjoy the video and have fun showing it to your littles too! Do take a moment to leave a message if you wish in the comments or inbox; my littles would love to hear from you!

Expat Moms and Kids · Muscat Moms and Kids · Places we love · Restaurant Reviews · Reviews · Reviews: Kids

D’arcy’s Kitchen, Shatti, Muscat

One feature we bring from our childhood through to our adult years is our habit of sticking to something we like. When we find a place we like to eat at, we frequent their outlets or order in, till they gradually start disappointing us.

D’arcy’s Kitchen is my kids’ favourite place for a meal/snack and everytime they get to pick a restaurant, we know what they’ll yell in unison. Judging from our latest experience, I am pleased to say that they are on our list for taking us on a ride that only goes up and up!

As much as we loved their MSQ branch, Shatti is where we have many beloved memories of “first breakfasts out” with our littles. 

After finally managing to score a parking spot, you are greeted by tastefully arranged garden furniture; their yellow and blue colours stand out cheerfully, beckoning you into their quaint little “cottage” atmosphere.

 I am not sure of historical accuracies but the first time we went there and I was served tea in their pretty cups and pots, I felt it could be a place that Jane Austen frequented with her scrolls and pens and then I noticed the delightful ceramic ornaments of ducks and rabbits and knew for sure that it was indeed Beatrix Potter’s spot. 

My kids love to look for Peter Rabbit and the Puddleducks while they happily scribble away on the colouring sheets and pencils they provide them with. They have a laminated kids menu, which I find is a nice touch since it allows the kids to have something of their own to select from.

The food is always well seasoned and exactly what the menu description promises. Their generous portions combined with consistency in presentation is a winner, not from any regular standard but from the excited squeals from our table. Their French toast(did I mention they serve breakfast all day?!) is what gets the most squeals.

The waiting staff are very pleasant and courteous; they make the effort to include the children in conversations and treat our little ones like the individuals they are whilst respecting their boundaries(not trying to hug them or hold them without asking them). They won me over completely with that because keeping the kids calm and happy is a vital factor in enabling me to fill my tummy.

We can easily spend 2-3 hours on a quiet day and would not even realise that time had slipped by. You are given 3 seating options: outside in the garden, inside the cafe and the mall seating area. They are happy to accomodate any of your needs and I was comfortable enough to tuck in whilst nursing my littlest right there in the cafe. 

You can take a leisurely walk down the beach after your meal, and maybe pop back in for a yummy thirst quencher to go. 

But maybe you should order a cup of tea or coffee because then you get a side of those buttery biscuits. Or you can be sure to score a take-away cup of biscuits if you, like my children, polish the saucer of biscuits that grandpa got for for his coffee and a lovely waitress gets you more to take home too! 

We love D’arcy’s Kitchen as a family and enjoy taking our loved ones there to share the joy whenever possible.

I think I shall sneak a few of those yummy biscuits from their stash to go with my chamomile tea before I turn in for the night. By night, I mean few hours because I am super woman and do not require sleep like mere mortals. Or I have a tiny little nursling. Need I say more?

I hope you enjoy D’arcy’s as much as we do!

You can visit their Facebook page and read my TripAdvisor review on, titled “Our go-to place”.

Please share your feedback; would love to hear your story and learn about other fun places to visit with the kids in Muscat!

Easy Dinner · Expat Moms and Kids · Homemade · Homeschooling · Homeschooling whilst Unschooling · Islamic parenting · Kitchen tips · Muscat Mom and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Mushrooms · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Pasta · Quick Cooking · Quick pasta · Unschooling · vegetarian

Mushroom and Spinach wholemeal linguine

After a long day of wrestling with letter sounds and refereeing fights, I almost always hurt my neck trying to look out for Papa Bear to finally get home to tag him, hand over the kids and run off to cook dinner. When that gets delayed, all hope is not lost although I cannot promise the same for my temper.

One such evening, IzGirl and NBoy were still bouncing off the walls and number 3, NBaby, surprises us with an early nap but my migraine decided to make an appearance, I decided to let them help and leave the delayed individual to attack the mess. Surprisingly, my children are very much unlike me in the kitchen. They cleaned up after themselves and actually made my job much easier.

Moreover, what better way to teach them life skills than in our own kitchen, with extra loads of love?

The following recipe is very special to us because it is the first dish we cooked together(without me nagging or micro managing them!). We hope you enjoy cooking it and sharing it with your family too!

Mushroom and Spinach wholemeal linguine

  • Servings: 2 tiny tummies
  • Difficulty: Need the help of a responsible adult
  • Print

Look what we cooked! We ate it with roasted (okay, burnt!) cashewnuts. And how pretty are our Eid decorations?!


  • 6 or 7 fresh mushrooms, washed
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Portion of wholemeal linguine (regular spaghetti would do)
  • 2 Tablespoons of garlic butter(regular butter is fine as well)
  • 1/4 cup of cooking cream (you can add or reduce as you wish)
  • Salt and Pepper



  1. Chop the mushrooms into whatever size you like.
  2. Pick the good spinach leaves, wash and drain.
  3. Ask an adult to boil the pasta and drain it.
  4. Heat a pan and add butter.
  5. Add the mushrooms and sauté them with a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the cream and stir well. Once it starts boiling, add the pasta and mix it in, and check salt and pepper.
  7. Leave to cook for a minute or two and then add the spinach and switch off the flame. Stir well.
  8. Enjoy with some yummy toasted bread and help wash up after dinner.

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Learning Numbers: Erase the correct one

This was an improvised game when NBoy wanted a turn at cleaning the whiteboard but was not in the mood to draw. Tired of having to scribble whilst trying to listen to the big sister read words, I wrote numbers from 1-10 on the board and gave him the small eraser and proceeded to call out a number randomly for him to erase.

Learning Numbers can be fun!

He loved the game and was careful about making sure none of the other numbers got erased too!

This game could work even if the child is not completely familiar with numbers.

Hope you have fun getting your whiteboard cleaned!