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

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

Ingredients

  • 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

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Directions

  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.

 https://www.instagram.com/p/BZIPramhrRElN8Bs6R2YU1G394MKXkFUhZIxew0/

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Expat Moms and Kids · Freedom · Homeschooling · Homeschooling whilst Unschooling · Islamic Homeschooling · Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Muscat Mom and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Unschooling · Way of LIfe

To School or Not to School

“What school does she go to?” asks a well-meaning person about my almost 5 year old.

“She doesn’t yet. We are homeschooling at the moment” I reply in weary apprehension, expecting another tirade of shocked expressions and 5 minutes of a lecture on how they know what would be better for my child. You know, because, they have seen her couple of times and have children of their own, they automatically become self-proclaimed experts on my child too…(mini rant over)

To be honest, the above scenario does not happen as often as I claim it to but the after effects of such a confrontation and the willpower it takes for me to not respond in kind, has me agitated for a while, and thus, prone to a lot of dramatics.

Most people are genuinely curious about what homeschooling is all about and their questions are always welcome because they are merely asking without assuming the worst or telling me how “wrong” I am.

What exactly is homeschooling?

It is basically the education of a child at home, primarily by the parents.

Then what in the world is unschooling?

It is a more radical form of homeschooling where conventional school systems and curriculums have no place; the learning is experience based on each child’s preference.

Is it legal?

Yes, depending on the country you live in. Most governments require parents to educate their children but they do not govern what kind of education that would be.

Do you follow a syllabus?

Not at the moment, I pick up on my child’s changing interests and we focus on whatever that maybe.

So, you are unschooling?

No.

Then you are simply being a teacher at home but for one child?

No.

What exactly are you doing?

I am helping my children learn in any way that they want to, without allowing the constraints of a label restrict our learning.

That is what we are doing.

Going against socially expected norms and the “done-thing” is much harder than I thought it would be. The inner turmoil I face at wondering if I am doing right by my children keeps me up most nights. Then I Google. And I panic even more.

It is always scary doing something different, especially when it comes to your children; there is absolutely no way of knowing if you are doing the right thing till it is too late. There have been many days when I have wanted to throw in the towel and do what we are “supposed” to be doing but I always backed out after a frustrated husband finally looked about ready to agree with me.

After many prayers and contemplation, things started coming into better perspective.

Homeschooling was introduced to me accidentally through a video from a lovely site called Rahmah Muslim Homeschool . Intrigued, I started researching on this since providing a wholesome Islamic education was absolutely important for us. After sifting through a whole plethora of information on the net, I was muddled as to what I should be doing. I decided to pick a site, and start off from there. Although I am unable to remember the site, it did have quite an extensive list of homeschooling activities that included teaching sight words. Jumped  right on the sight word train and spent a night cutting and pasting words intended for my then  2+year old little girl to memorise and start reading because a certain list I picked up on another site claimed she should be reading by the time she was 3 years of age.

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This method may work and she was quick to memorise the words. It took even longer time helping her forget them to help her focus on sounds.

Needless to stay, sticking to a rigid schedule whilst trying to tick off everything in my “list” took its toll on us and I felt it was just too tough because I was not a qualified teacher. After audibly questioning my decision to move into finance instead of education after leaving school, I started looking for online education degrees. Long story short, I came to my senses before paying for a full degree programme that I never would have completed.

Then I began to look into local homeschooling families and to my surprise, there was a whole community in Muscat! I began this journey in trepidation with absolutely no support system but meeting this wonderful group helped by reassuring me that we were doing just fine. One mother in particular fascinated me with her attitude towards learning and living, and she helped me finally figure out how to let go of social expectations and focus on what would be best for my family. You can follow her journey on Raggamuslims.

I have been meaning to chronicle our journey but kept putting it off till I read a well thought out piece in Happiness Is Here and realised how our journey could help another family make their decision to create their own path.

Homeschooling for us is now merely a loose label that we use for sake of ease when having to answer a question about school for our children.

Our learning journey at the moment is about listening to their (now 4+ and 2+ year olds!) interests and learning about them with them. However, I am a firm believer in the power of reading and the vast knowledge accessible to one with the ability to read, which meant that I could not adapt the relaxed method of “letting them learn”. Instead I looked into Jolly Phonics method and took their online course in order to teach reading.  We do not focus on traditional mathematical lessons because it simply does not interest them; they learn that through play. I cannot draw to save my life and so, skipped over teaching them how to draw. Instead, I made sure they have easy access to crayons, colour pencils and paper, and now, I am amazed by their creativity. My 4 year old wants to try out school at one point and we would let her if she is sure that is what she wants but for now, we are enjoying the journey  with a lovely unicorn learning her letter sounds and a curly-hair ball of sunshine with an interest in shapes and a love for gluing things.

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The unicorn is doing a Sound Sheet for letter “f” and her brother is doing a gluing activity with shapes, hastily drawn by yours truly

I have stopped worrying about what education should be and I am focusing on letting them decide their learning experience. Shedding all the preconceived notions of education that I was taught all my life is still a work-in-progress but I am slowly but surely coming out of that state of mind.

Our journey is not about schooling nor is it about not-schooling; it is about learning naturally and developing a lifelong love for learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Living by the Quran · Muscat, Oman · Muslim Mama · Paranoia · Quran · Quran and remedies · Quranic Verse · Reaching for Jannah · Sunnah · Way of LIfe

How to not catch cooties, Islamic style

Little children are sometimes the unkindest creatures to walk the planet. Their blatant lack of regard for propriety means brutal honesty. As quickly as they melt hearts with their smiles, they are capable of completely ostracizing or excluding another child for being different. A common problem in their tiny minds is figuring out how not to catch “cooties” off another tiny human, most often, someone of the opposite gender. They would talk to said individual and even maybe play a game but will screech at the thought of contact because of the “cooties”.

These children grow in body but almost always, never as a person, and roam the grounds as adults, silently afraid of catching “cooties”.

But only now, the dreaded imaginary germ is very real.

Hesitant to visit the sick for too long

Afraid of looking into the eyes of the poor and starving

Ill at ease in the company of those experiencing tragedy and heartbreak

For the cooties now mean more than physical discomfort; ill fortunes of others are feared to be contagious.

As with most, the cure for the worry exists.

When I told my Umamma(maternal grandmother)of a certain situation that I wished I never had to be in, she shared with me a one-liner that she assured me would shield me of all that I feared would be passed on to me: a cough, hair fall or even the fear of being married young. And it has always worked like a charm to quell the bubbles of fear as they begin to form in the pit.

[“Peace!”- a word (of salutation)from a Lord Most Merciful]  

Surah Yasin, verse 58

Mentally reciting this, sometimes with fervor to protect myself of whatever it was that I did not want to catch or experience has worked every single time. I have always experienced a sense of calmness as though the chanting of that line conjured up a safety bubble around me, not unlike the ones they cast over Hogwarts to thwart Lord Voldemort and his creepy followers. My enemy was scarier than any insecure cloaked man with a childish need of power and so, I remained secure in the ease I received at remembering the verse and ensured to recite it for myself and all my loved ones in mind.

I recited it out of fear when I visited an aunt diagnosed with cancer, with horror when I watched a widow cling to her young children in grief, and vehemently, when I heard of a girl having to marry young and “unaccomplished”.

I remained secure in my belief that I was able to ward off all that I least desired with a whisper of this verse. Till this morning.

It was very difficult for me to concentrate on my Fajr prayer today because I kept unconsciously pondering upon this verse and how fortunate I was to have been taught this.

And then I remembered I got married at 19, barely having accomplished anything since high school.

I answered a late night call twice in the space of a week when I was pregnant with my eldest, to be told that a beloved aunt and then a cousin had both been widowed with little children under their care.

The vicious claws of cancer grabbed two more beloved aunts.

This realization hit me with a force so intense that I had to pause before finding the courage to get the English translation out. I knew it was about peace, but did not know the depth of the verse.

The verses preceding this talk about the elation of the deserving after entering Heaven/Jannah and reaping the fruits of their lives, and getting all what was promised to them. Then they would be blessed with the greeting of “Peace” from the Almighty, because that is what they would have for eternity after facing the trials and tribulations of this world.

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How was this verse, as amazing as it is, supposed to help me from catching anything I feared and why had I not realized that my protective measure had not worked in most cases?

The answer lay hidden in the simple word of peace.

Albeit unknowingly, the assurance of peace after the trials and pain had kept me going and given me the strength to see reason and accept every situation I had prayed against.

This brought to mind something I had read about in Reclaim your Heart, by Yasmin Mogahed. She talked about the verse “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5) and about how the ease comes with hardships and not after or before. I would not do this topic justice if I was to squeeze it in here but the gist was to understand that nothing in this life is perfectly good or revoltingly bad; the aspect of perfection was reserved for Jannah/Heaven and Jahannam/Hell.

For all the times I uttered what my wise Umamma taught me, I was unsuspectingly warding off the fear and unease I had about handling the situation, should it fall upon me because that is what had happened. She had given me a lifeline when my paranoia threatened to suffocate me at the thought of any ill fortune or pain on my loved ones.

My beloved Umamma returned to her creator 5 years ago and all the “calamities” I described above happened in the space of 7 years but its proof of Allah’s infinite mercy that this realization hit me years after the pain and confusion. For had I realized then, I fear to think that my Iman/Faith would have been compromised at the thought of my “go-to-remedy” having “failed” me.

I had unconsciously been teaching myself to look at the bigger picture and reach for the reward of having the almighty bestow the salutation of “peace” and this I truly believe is what got me through my fears and change of plans that I assumed in my naivety, would do me no good .

I planned and I planned but Allah planned the best.

 

 

Expat Moms and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Restaurant Reviews · Reviews

Akdeniz, Centara Muscat, Oman

Despite blogging for quite a while, it would seem odd that I have steered clear of reviewing restaurants. For a person prone to having opinions on everything under the sun and struggling to hold in a snarky comment at every possible thing, it does take quite an effort to not write about something. 

Why this hesitancy, one may wonder? The fear of costing someone a job and reputation whilst maintaining integrity by not painting over the truth.

Which is why I was excited but apprehensive about being invited for a food tasting at a new restaurant at a hotel in town.

After much soul searching(what’s life without the dramatics?), I decided to accept the invitation and give this a go. Plus, I was keen to meet fellow bloggers and other social influencers in town too!

Let’s hope I do them justice!

Akdeniz Restaurant, is located on the ground floor of Centara Hotel, Muscat, and can be accessed directly from  the car park as well.  It specialises in Turkish cuisine with an international twist. In line with their theme, the decoration was a blend of tradition and modern undertones. The colourful Turkish lamps emitted soft hues that provided just the right amount of lighting for the tastefully set table. If there was a polite way of saying I could kick myself for not taking more pictures, that would be inserted here.

The lack of placemats meant the cutlery tried escaping the table but the rustic design of the plate made up for it. Detailed menus were placed by each setting and it looked promising despite the lack of a vegetarian main, which would be a disappointment to someone with the particular dietary requirement; they did arrange for a vegetarian meal for a guest when they were informed of this. 

After the initial pleasantries, we were introduced to the Executive Chef who explained that we will be sampling some of their regular dishes along with some new ones for their soon-to-be-opened roof top restaurant. This explained the size of the current seating area that only could be described as cosy. 

It came as a surprise that the chef specialised in Indonesian cuisine (which incidentally meant a promise of a delicious satay) but decided to let the food speak for itself. 

Sipping on Barbican, a malt drink, and wondering about the absence of fresh juice options, we awaited the food.

When the basket of pita bread was placed before us along with the starters (Hummus, Labneh & Honey Pide and Chicken Wing’s N Drum) I was slightly disappointed at not getting the freshly baked bread aroma but it looked good enough for me to pick one up and munch away. The nigella seeds scattered bread was fresh albeit slightly dense and not vey warm. The hummus I scooped up with my second piece of pita would have been just right with a little more seasoning. 

Although the chicken wings could have been more crispy, they were lightly coated with a deliciously smoked bbq sauce. I am not a big fan of bbq sauce but I would have loved to have seen more of this smoky sauce as a dip. What stood out and made the lack of dips and traditional mezze forgivable was the yummy Labneh and Honey Pide (a Turkish flatbread). It was oh-so-soft, cradling a layer of labneh slathered with honey: was a treat to smell and taste too! The only reason the carb-monster in me did not finish it all is to save space for the mains and to not risk the seams of my cloak falling apart at the task of holding in place all that flab. 

The mains  arrived in 3 bowls filled with Chicken Shish Taouk, Lamb Kofta, and Chicken Satay. They delivered exactly what the menu promised but it still was slightly disappointing not having any dips/sauces or sides to go along with the meat. The Shish Taouk was subtly marinated with Turkish spices albeit being slightly overcooked. I was slightly apprehensive about the kofta because I have yet to find one I enjoyed, and although I have still not been converted, this one had more flavour and was not vey dry. Chicken satay had skewers of succulent cubes of chicken dipped in a good blend of spices but missing the promised peanut sauce coating. 

The well presented desserts arrived shortly (Triple Caramel Cream and Mango Rice Pudding) but forgot to click a picture before digging in. I was expecting creamy and comforting rice pudding but alas, it was a different texture but this could very well be because it was a traditional Turkish rice pudding and not having a precedent to judge it upon, my opinion could have been distorted. Although some guests found the caramel cream bitter, I was actually delighted by the same because I like my caramel taken slightly further than usual which gives it that delicious bitterness. I was confused with the” Triple” aspect in the name and assumed it meant 3 forms of caramel but this could be a simple misunderstanding. The desserts had just the right amount of sweetness and with slight changes to the textures, would be a great way to finish up a meal.

The couches and cushions set around the quaint area lent to the comfortable ambience: the perfect setting for good conversations and mingling. 

The hotel is tastefully decorated with a pleasant colour scheme and would be ideal for a get away without having to actually leave the city. The staff at the restaurant were very attentive and ensured our experience was a positive one; looking forward to visiting them again with family and friends to enjoy their complete menu.