Category Archives: Parenting

Eco Friendly Teacher Gifts

Walking down the aisles of nearly every shop in town I see piles of Teacher Gifts. They are all very nice but I can guarantee each teacher will probably receive the same gift 2 or 3 times that year.

This got me to thinking. I am constantly trying to declutter or tidy my house. If I was a teacher, what would I do with all that stuff? How many cups can I fit in my cupboard, how many keyrings can I fit on my keys?

I have a specific theme for each of my rooms and don’t want things that don’t fit that style. Do I throw it away, donate to charity or keep it all in a giant room sized cupboard never to be seen again?

For most people this is too much but what if you care for the environment? How many things can you donate to charity or recycle? As a parent I don’t want to contribute to landfill, the plastic crisis, the recycling process or make a teacher feel guilty for discarding a gift from a child.

So as a parent what do we do? How can we show our appreciation to the person who teaches them new things and takes care of them for the majority of the day and still be eco-friendly?

One year my daughter had an OK teacher and a fabulous teaching assistant. I knew the teacher would love a box of chocolates and I knew the assistant wouldn’t appreciate them. I got her a miniature rose plant instead. I wonder if it is still alive?

She loved it and thanked me for not buying her chocolate. In this case I knew their personalities so gift buying was easy. But what if you don’t?

Here are some eco-friendly ideas. I posed the question, “What eco friendly gift would a teacher appreciate?” in a zero waste Facebook group. I got over 40 responses and these were the main points.

The Worst

Quite a few people liked the idea of homemade food, but lots didn’t as they couldn’t be sure if the environment the food was made in was hygienic.

jade-wulfraat-96023-unsplash7354294442560213729.jpg

Too many flowers. Personally a house full of flowers would be my dream, but not for many other people, plus there are a few environmental issues there aswell.

The Best

There were two options here:

Ask the teacher:

Ask the teacher what they would like. A guaranteed win.

Ask them for a classroom wish list. Lots of teachers like to receive classroom supplies i,e pens, pencils, rulers, stickers and story books. You know these will come in useful and be well used.

Ask them if they have a favourite charity and donate the money in their name.

The best one was to get all the parents to group together and buy a course for the teacher for over the holidays.

Buy Personal Gifts

One teacher said there is no need to buy her a gift. Just say Thank You. I think I would like this option best.

Resteraunt/coffee shop vouchers. Let your teacher have fun or wind down on their holidays. Buy them a reusable coffee cupto take with them.

Shopping Voucher. This way they can buy what they need and not waste it. If the voucher is for an eco-friendly shop even better .

Tea, coffee and biscuits for the staffroom. Guaranteed to be used and not wasted. Make sure the packaging is recyclable and tea bags plastic free.

unsplash.com coffee cup cappuccino

Last but not least a letter. Meaningful, heartfelt and easy to keep forever without taking up too much space. This is what I will do.

Get the child to write down one memorable thing they did that year at school and maybe a little picture.

As the parent write down all the things you think the teacher did well at.

But what if I don’t like the teacher? Do I still get them something?

The general consensus is yes. Whether you or your child didn’t like the teacher that person still took great care of your child kept them safe and taught them new things (hopefully).

Here are the opinions of a few bloggers.

As a teacher I hate getting wine. People always assume we are all drinkers. I don’t expect gifts and I do really appreciate that someone has gone to the trouble. (even if it is wine 😉 I just give it to the hubby) www.craftwithcartwright.co.uk

I think you have to be gracious even with teachers you don’t like. Our teachers are all great but I wouldn’t treat one differently if they weren’t fantastic. They all put a lot of work into our children, they deserve to be shown that you appreciate what they do.

www.dadgeek.co.uk

I would probably still give something, like a little gift card of a local coffee shop.

https://www.cosmomum.co.uk

I currently give to all teachers who help my son even if we have conflicting views at times. I normally give things like candles, stationery, gift vouchers etc. www.thebreastestnews.co.uk

I will give a card, handmade so they know it comes from the heart. I don’t like to make sure I get the best and most expensive gift, it’s not about that. X

www.mygirlsandmesite.com

My daughter’s SN class has 6 staff and I always make them all something. If I’m feeling flush I include £5 costa gift card. This year it’s crochet mandalas and my daughter will do each one a card too.

www.AutismMumma.com

For some thrifty style Teacher gift head over to ThrifDee Dubai

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Plastic Free Swaps : Water Bottles for the Family

Just in time for Environmental Day 5th June 2018 I wanted to share with you some of my plastic free alternative water bottles. Even babies can go plastic free out and about with a bit of searching.

Not only better for our planet but better for our health and pocket. I am forever dropping my water bottles on the floor causing them to break. With stainless they will get a scratch at the most. Asking for recommendations online people usually come up with the same brands and shops that cost a fortune making being environmentally friendly unaffordable for some people. As a bit of a penny pincher I want to assure you that is not true. My recommendations all come to under £15 and are long lasting.

Munchkin – Miracle

When Noori was little she had a few plastic cups. She has always kept a Tommie Tippee sippy cup that we got free from Sure Start at Grandma’s. As the baby got older he started using it and I soon needed a sippy cup for outside.

I looked at my options and they all involved plastic which I didn’t want for my baby boy. Sometimes a friend would give him a drink from a Munchkin 360° Miracle cup. They are ingenious. The baby can drink out of it as if he was drinking out of a real cup therefore learning how to drink properly not suck from a straw. The drink can come out of any part and the water cannot tip out or escape.

After asking for recommendations in a Zero Waste Facebook Group a stainless steel version was suggested. The Miracle cup is beautiful and nearly everyone comments on it. I was worried it would get damaged easily but after 6 months of throwing on a stone floor there are a only few scratches. No big dents like I imagined. However I know this will last a long time and I can get my parents to shine it up if need be.

I could not find it in any stores, they are available in some branches of Boots just not mine. Instead I bought it online.

It is twice as much as the plastic version but I know it will last and it looks stylish.

  • Leak Proof
  • Plastic Free
  • Easy to clean
  • Dentist Approved
  • Durable
  • Longlasting
  • BPA free

Jerry Bottle – Pure

stainless water bottle

In the first half of the school year Noori went through 3 plastic water bottles. I vowed the next time one broke I would buy a stainless steel one. I figured that a stainless bottle may be twice as expensive as a plastic one but I would end up buying so many breakable plastic ones compared to a long lasting stainless one that over time it would work out cheaper.

I searched online and came across Jerry Bottle. The company sells beautiful simple stainless steel water bottles. There are no plastic or silicone bits meaning it is super duper easy to clean and won’t become moudly. The best part all profits go to The Waterfall charity. The coordinates of the village you have helped are engraved on the bottom of the bottle. We discovered a group of islands we didn’t know existed.

The bottles come in different sizes. As Noori dosn’t drink alot and can easily refill her bottle at school we bought the smallest bottle 550ml.

It arrived in a recylable cardboard box and old newspaper. I thought there was nothing inside. There was no weight there at all. But there was. The bottle is super light perfect for a child to carry around by its handle. When it is full of water it is still lighter than your average bottle. The water feels fresh and cold even after a few hours.

  • Plastic free
  • Brushed Steel
  • Fully metal no other materials
  • Easy to clean
  • Stylish
  • Profits to charity
  • Coordinates make a nice feature

Reduce -Hydro Pro

stainless water bottle

I always thought I was saving the planet by reusing a plastic water bottle. Then after breaking them and buying more and more I realised I’m still adding to the problem. It was my turn to go stainless.

I wasn’t really looking as I was still using my old broken lided one. It still worked as long as it wasn’t full or at a slight angle. As I was looking for something in Home Bargains I saw lovely picnic section. I didn’t need anything but it was nice to look at the pretty bee prints.

There it was my Reduce water bottle. The perfect size for me, who walks around outside for hours a day. I tried it in the pram for size, it fit. And the price? £3.99! You can also buy them on Amazon if your store has run out.

It is a bright metallic purple colour, with an easy to wash lid.

After going back to work from Maternity leave I took it with me. I used to get water from the machine meaning I went through at least 3 plastic cups a day with no thought. Now I use none and its big enough to last me my shift. I have noticed that before a few people brought coffee cups to keep their drinks warm outside. Now alot of people bring their own water bottles too. I am quite impressed.

  • Plastic free
  • Bright and colourful
  • Good size
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to clean

Have you taken any steps towards reducing your plastic waste?

*** This post contains affiliate links to companies I recommend ***

For more ways to reduce your waste take a look at

Zero Waste Swaps – Birthday Edition

Zero Waste Swaps – Essential Machines

Zero Waste Inspirations from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Some posts be other wonderful bloggers,

Environmental Day Celebrations as a Family – Alizehmysoul

Why Fashion Matters – Cafe Catterpillar

Let’s make everyday World Environment Day – Lilac Prose

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Baby Toys 9-12 Months

Gone are the play mats, baby chairs and swings. Like it or not your baby is more mobile and more than likely crawling and exploring their worlds. Now you need saftey gates and safe spaces to stop your little adventurer from harming themselves.

Your babies favourite occupations are probably opening cupboards and climbing the stairs. However he still has his favourite toys. Over the past few months my boy has started crawling . Most of his time is spent getting up to mischief but he does have a few favourite things to play with.

I like my kids to have wooden toys as they are

1. Hard wearing

2. Made of natural non toxic materials

3. Feel nice

4. Much more attractive than plastic toys.

Here are a few of the things he loves to play with.

Toys with Wheels

As he has become more mobile and his brain is developing he has started to take alot more interest in his toys with wheels.

wheely toy

He has a wooden truck, fire engine and zebra. At first he just looked at them and threw them around. At 11 months he has started to play with them properly pushing them along the floor. It looks super cute and you can see his brain working thinking about what is happening.

Big pram wheels, small toy with wheels, anything with wheels that turn are a fascination for him.

wheels1699395246324232545.jpg

And the great thing is as he gets older amd hus imagination develops he can play with them in many ways for years to come.

Balls

Balls are the most open ended toys that will be played with for many many years. If your child is lucky their first ball could last them from babies until adults. Imagine that, from learning important motor skills as a baby, all the way until playing team games as an adult.

toy ball1124506373798837158..jpg

As your baby becomes more mobile they can push the ball around and chase after it. Throw it around and chase after it improving motor skills and strength. You can play rolling or passing the ball to each other which forms social bonds and language skills if you talk about what is happening.

Don’t limit balls to boys. Girls also beniefit for all the same reasons. A girl may enjoy playing football, basketball, netball and curby as much as any boy.

I find lots of children are attracted to the spiky sensory ball. They can feel the texture, squish it and throw it around. He also has a smaller ball that lights up when thrown and glitters. Its good to have a variety of different shapes, sizes and textures.

Books

Where do I start with books. I’m a bit of a book lover but ony recently have I realised there is alot more to books that I could imagine.

Firstly there are the bright colourful illustrations or photos to look at and talk about.

Many years ago I was reading a book to my friends little girl. I couldn’t understand a word she said to me. As we read the book I’d point to a picture and ask her what it was. As she answered the question I started to understand her way of talking. From then on I understood what she was saying to me. Thats was a powerful..moment for me.

Recently as I’m reading books ideas pop into my head. If the character bakes a cake we can also bake that cake and taste what the charcater is tasting. If the charcter is jumping in puddles we can do the same and feel what the charcter is feeling. We did this for Chickens Can’t See In The Dark. There are so many lessons to be learnt from exploring stories this way. When we read Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell we explored some STEM activities.

But at this age babies love to play with board books. They can improve their motor skills by opening and closing the pages. The Usborne Touchy Feely books are our favourite as they have different textures for baby to feel. They keep mine occupied for 5 minutes. He also really loves these Grufallo Animal Actions book.It is small for baby to hold and he loves to copy the sounds and actions.

Baby books

It is important for children to read books with real pictures so they can make sense of their worlds and what is around them.

Musical Instruments

Ever since my baby was 3 months old he has loved to hit things together to make noises. So I got him a set of musical instruments to play with. He loves the jingly jangly noises. At first he was really curious to know how the instruments make noises and learn that he was able to control them in a way to make the noise. A baby achievement. Now hes enjoys the fact that he can make a nice noise.

musical instruments 5268535942477631186..jpg

I took Abdi to a playgroup where they had a basket full of instruments. Inside was a wooden egg rattle. It was the perfect size for him to hold in his hand and shake around. He carried that around for the whole hour. I had to buy him one.

Again I find the wooden instruments to be alot more attractive and feel heavier meaning your baby is doing strength exercises aswell.

What are your babies favourite toys? Let me know in the comments below.

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Zero Waste Inspirations from the Life of Prophet Muhammad(sa)- By Simply Muslim Mom

When I read through the Quran, the Hadiths and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) what stands out to me is the emphasis on the environment and simple living. Why we as Muslims in our times have moved so far away from this I really can’t understand. Its rare for me to find like minded Muslims so when I came across Simply Muslim Mom I was so happy I asked her to do a guest post on the subject. And with Earth Day coming up could there be any better timing? So here we are. A beautiful message from Simply Muslim Mom. Enjoy!

Zero Waste Inspirations from the Life of Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad(sa) has been practicing a zero-waste life over a thousand years ago. He(sa) is our inspiration to embrace a waste free life through simple and consistent everyday practices.

A waste free lifestyle is aligned with what Allah(swt) has commanded us in the Quran-

“Allah the Exalted says that He does not like those who trespass the limits on an allowed matter or a prohibited matter, those who go to the extreme over what He has allowed, allow what He has prohibited, or prohibit what He has allowed. But, He likes that what He has allowed be considered as such (without extravagance) and what He has prohibited be considered as such. This is the justice that He has commanded.” 7:32

Essentially, RasuAllah(sa) was obeying Allah(swt) by living a simple life that was devoid of extravagance.

What were the zero-waste practices of Prophet Muhammad(sa)?

Zero food waste-

Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’d said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) saying, “There is no vessel which the son of Adam can fill eviler than his stomach, for it is sufficient for him to take a few mouthfuls in order to straighten his back; but if he must, then fill one-third with food, one-third with drink, and one-third with breath.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

The prophet(sa) lived a simple life. He(sa) was a mindful consumer, enjoying his blessing while being mindful about them. He(sa) could’ve eaten to his fill but he(sa) chose not to. Too much food can easily lead to food waste. He(sa) enjoyed different foods and was careful to not waste any part of it- no morsel of food was too small to be thrown away-

Among the norms of conduct of eating that the Sunnah presents is as Muslim reported from Jaabir :According to Jabir(ra), “ I heard the Prophet(sa) say, “The devil is present with each of you in everything he does; he is present when you are eating; so if any one of you drops food he should remove any dirt on it and eat it and not leave it for the devil; and when he finishes eating he should lick his fingers, for he does not know in which portion of his food the blessing lies.

RasulAllah(sa) didn’t complain about his(sa) food. Whatever food that was available, he(sa) ate it with gratitude.

Mindful consumption-

The prophet(sa) was mindful about his(sa) everyday things. He(sa) avoided extravagance, although He(sa) could’ve asked Allah(saw) any wealth he(sa) wanted. He chose a simple life instead. Instead of replacing his(sa) clothes and shoes, he(sa) mended them himself-

Aisha is reported to have said, “He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.” (Adab Al-Mufrad)

Conservation of the Earth-

The Prophet(sa) was mindful about the environment. He was aware that his(sa) actions came with consequences. He(sa) was careful to use natural resources that was used regularly-

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-`Aas (ra) said, “Prophet(sa) passed one day by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqas (ra) while he was performing wudu’ (ritual cleaning of body parts in preparation for prayer). The prophet asked Sa`d, “Why is this wastage? Sa`d replied, “Is there wastage in wudu also?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you are at a flowing river. (Sunan ibn Ahmad)

The lesson is that we must keep Earth in mind when we use nonrenewable and renewable resources.

I have been living a waste free life for almost 10 years now. It seemed like a daunting task to go against the tide. But, it was disconcerting to see how our actions impacted the environment- global warming, more animals on the verge of extinctions, health issues from a polluted Earth and the loss of habitat and death of many animals- especially these birds in the Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean.

“…eat of its fruit when it bears fruit, and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant.” (Surah An’am 6:141)

I hope you’re inspired to live a zero-waste life, following the footsteps of the Prophet(sa). The Earth was in a far better shape when he(sa) lived than it is now, yet he(sa) took simple yet consistent steps in his(sa) everyday actions so his(sa) ummah could have a clean, healthy Earth.

Let’s emulate our beloved Prophet(sa) and try to leave a better Earth for all of us InshaAllah.

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Zaks and His Little Lies – Book Review

Zak and his little lies  Islamic kids book

Zak and His Little Lies-J.Samia Mair

A while a go I read that little kids can’t tell the difference between a lie or making up a story, so don’t understand that they are lying. Everytime I caught my daughter lying I would look at her and try and figure out if she was lying or just making a story up in her mind. It wasn’t too difficult. After all we all lie in one way or another. One study showed that we lie to ourselves everyday without even noticing. So how do we distinguish between good lies and bad lies.

The title of this storybook Zak and His Little Lies gives us a clue to his lies. They are small little lies not big bad ones.

This is exactly Zaks problem. He knows that if he is caught lying again he won’t be able to go on a trip to the skate park with his family. However he is thrown into certain situations throughout the day.

The story seems to be set in a very friendly neighbourhood in the American Suburbs. Zak and his family are Muslim and have no problem with their neighbours which is nice to see in a book. The challenge for the Zak and his Sister is to deliver Baklava to all their neighbours. But will it all run smoothly? You will have to read the book to find out!

zak and his little lies Islamic kids book

Noori is 8 years old but there were a few words in this book she couldn’t work out. The main one being Dwayne the name of Zaks pet. Dwayne makes an appearance on every page of this beautifully illustrated book so look out for him.

zak and his little lies Islamic kids book

Many of Zaks lies come from how he will look to other people and lack of confidence. Here he is having a race with his sister though he never wins. Even Dwayne looks worried!

After all Zaks little lies he goes home to find his Dad excitied and ready to go to the skate park. Zak feels so guilty from all his lying when he sees the Quran on the shelf remembering the Ayah,

“And nothing in the Heavens and Earth is hidden from Allah.”

This is a very important lesson for all of us and something even young children can understand. Even if we are all alone Allah can see what we are doing.

Zak admitted his mistakes too his Dad the person he could confide in. What an important relationship. The majority of stories show male figures in a bad light and the Mums as the caregivers and confidants. So this Father and Son bond is a refreshing perspective

At first I didn’t connect with this book and I think it is because I’m very girly. Unconsciously the majority of Noori’s books have strong female characters with the only males being animals. I wondered how this would change now I have a son.

This book is my first step into being a mother of a boy. And what a fantastic introduction. I imagine having an Islamic book with a young boy as the lead character could be very empowering for any young boy. Zak is a great example for anyone.

Noori’s Verdict

Did you like the book?
Yes . It was Good.
Who was your favourite character?
I like Zak but I liked Hana better. I didn’t like the brothers because they are mean.

At the end of the book are a set of questions. I don’t usually ask the questions in books but this time I did. It was nice to hear Noori’s answers and take on the story.

The type of books I like best are the ones based on the Quran or Hadith. This book has both and they are quoted in the back.

Quran Hadith Islamic kids book

This book teaches some important and valuable lessons to both boys and girls. The most important aspect being that it teaches our children to live our lives following Quran and Hadith.

You can buy this book on Amazon.

You can also meet Zak again in:

Zak and His Good Intentions

Here are some other Islamic children’s books I have reviewed.

Yan’s Hajj

Nanni’s Hijab

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***This post contains affiliate links to companies that I recommend. This book was kindly given to me to review. All opinions are my own***

Natural Teething For Natural Babies

When I found out I was expecting baby number two I went into research mode. I listened to hundreds of YouTube videos whilst doing the housework and read every book I could find.

One thing that struck me was the effect of plastic on our bodies. I was told by my science teacher many years ago that estrogen from food packaging can seep into the food effecting the male hormones.

When tested in water even teethers labelled BPA free have been reported to leach BPA when in water. In some cases BPA is swapped for BPS which is just as bad.

Whether any of this is true I’m no scientist but I’m not going to take that chance when there are easily accessible alternatives. So when it comes to teething I want my baby to have natural products. Meaning no plastic teethers or medicine’s like Bonjela.

So if all these things are out what can I do?

There are many natural products out there to choose from. These are the three I personally recommend. With anything we should make sure the materials given to our children are non toxic and used safely. I will list the how’s and why’s in each section.

Wooden Bunny Ears Teether

Bunny ears teether  teething baby

Not only are these teethers, they also have lots of sensory advantages. Made of a baby safe wooden ring and cotton bunny ears. The ring is easy for small hands to grab hold of and move around practising gripping and movement skills. The wood feels smooth and warm. It’s nice for children to be given natural materials as they are all too often surrounded by man-made items.

The colourful bunny ears feel smooth and fluffy on one side with rough spots on the other. As baby touches or chews the ears they are rewarded with a crinkly sound. The ears can be easily detached and reattached for cleaning.

The baby can chew on the material or the wood which some babies find the perfect texture for biting down on. The thin circular shape means baby can easily chew at the front or back of his mouth depending on which teeth are coming through. I find some teethers are too big for little mouths and more suited to bigger kids. These can be used for any age child.

Mine prefers to chew on the wood. At home he can play and chew on it as normal. When out and about I attach it to the pram with a ribbon so it can’t get lost.

This style of teether looks classic and stylish and would make a perfect gift. They can be bought easily offline from as little as £1-£15. Try and make sure your teether isn’t coated in paint or toxic varnish and if the wood is certified Organic even better.

Iris Root Teether

Iris root teether  teething baby

This is something I had never heard of or seen until my friend brought one back from Germany for me. Iris Root teethers have been used for thousands of years in Germany and still are.

Made from the woody roots of Italian Irises the Teethers are sanded down in to smooth shapes for baby to chew. Each one has its own unique shape, colour and markings.

The root starts off hard but as baby chews, saliva makes it more soft and chewy. After a few days its easy to clean in a cup of boiled water.

Now it does look like your baby is chewing on a bone, but no-one has ever commented and if they did I really don’t care as I know it is better to use natural alternatives. I attached mine to a dummy clip from Poundland that can attach easily to a pram or car seat.

Amber Teething Bracelets

Amber Teething Bracelets  necklace teething baby

Amber teething necklaces are all the rage these days. I am seeing more and more children sporting them. My friends from all over Europe tell me they are a well-known traditional teething aid.

I prefer to use the bracelets rather than the necklaces as I feel they are much safer. The bracelets can go around the ankle and when their legs get too chubby they can wear them as bracelets. Out of sight out of mind. We do have a necklace aswell but these need to be used under supervision so he only wears it occasionally. For more information on how and why amber is good for teething and lots of other uses and sciencey bits read my blog post here.

Other Pain Relief

Since mine started getting his first two teeth he has become fussy with different food textures and has started eating less solids which are all normal signs.

He l-l-loves cucumber. He will carry quarter of a cucumber around with him all day chewing on it for some pain relief and falling asleep holding onto it. The same with carrots. I’ve found if you go to a shop and buy one small carrot they give it you for free 😉

With my daughter she went through teething easily. Talking to other Mums so did theirs. The thing we all had in common was breastfeeding. Breastmilk is known to be a pain relief for babies so if you breastfeeding or are thinking of breastfeeding it’s a win win situation.

These are my favourite teething aids. Are there any other natural teething products out there I don’t know about? Let me know in the comments section then I can try them out.

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Teething baby theethers natural baby

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The ladybirds' adventures

A Sensory Story With Norman The Slug With The Silly Shell

I will be the first to admit I have a slight book addiction. I just love children’s books with beautiful pictures or a great story. They are a fantastic way of teaching just about anything. There is now no space on the bookshelf so its a one in one out situation. I tried not buying books but failed. Instead I have found a solution. Buying books for other people.

I found the book Norman the Slug With The Silly Shell by Sue Hendra. I love the pictures in Sue Hendras books. They are bright bold and modern. A delight to the eyes and this one has a pink sparkly donut on the front. How could I resist. I knew a little girl who would love it. I took it home and left it on the sofa. When Noori came home she wanted to read it. We sat down too read and so many great ideas formed in my mind.

Norman the slug with the silly shell childrens book

Norman is a friendly slug who greatly admires snail shells. How he longed to have a shell of his own. He sets out to find the perfect shell.

Norman the slug with the silly shell childrens book

We decided to find the perfect shell for Norman the slug. We looked through the recycling to find his perfect shell trying out different options. We settled on a foil chocolate wrapper. We can now use our Norman for the following activities.

Norman settled for a lovely pink donut shell. Looking at his shell I knew it was time to make some donut cookies. I’m never going to make a donut so cookies are the next easiest thing.

As well as the ingredients you will need a set of circular cookie cutters.

For the icing I didn’t have any food colouring so squashed up a strawberry. The juice makes a natural light pink colour and gives it a strawberry flavour. You could use raspberries for this aswell. If you want the icing darker use some pink food colouring. I used this simple sugar cookie recipe:

Silly Shell Cookies

Preheat your oven to 180°

For the cookies:

  • 140g Icing sugar
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 250g Butter
  • 375g Plain Flour
  1. Cream the sugar,egg yolk and butter together. Then mix in the flour.
  2. Get your hands in to make a dough consistency.
  3. Leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This makes the dough easier to roll and cut.
  4. After 30 minutes roll the dough out to around 3mm thick.
  5. Use a large circle cutter too cut out the shells. Then using a small circle cutter cut out the donut hole.
  6. With the left over dough and holes keep re rolling them until you can make no more shells. With what you have left make some odd shape cookies. That can be your tester.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins until a fork comes out clean.
  8. Whilst they are cooling make your icing.

For the icing :

  • 225g Icing sugar
  • 1 Egg White
  • Water
  • One red berry i.e Strawberry or raspberry.
  • Sprinkles
  1. Combine the sugar and egg white.
  2. Add your berry juice or food colouring.
  3. Use your icing to decorate. I used a spoon and dribbled it on like a donut.
  4. Add your sprinkles.

donut cookie

Here are our imperfect ones. They taste great and were quite filling. It would be fun to try all different designs and make Norman a new shell.

Food can be used to explore our senses. Get your child to feel the cookie and describe the texture the sprinkles make. Say how it smells and of course how it tastes.

As Norman’s shell looked so delicious a bird flew away with it , with Norman still attached! He got free the only way he knew how. Slime.

Children's books slime

So guess what. We just had to make slime using our Ultimate slime recipe. Slime is great for sensory play. Every kid I know loves mushing it around in their hands, feeling the coolness then warmth. The texture and smell. You can add essential oils to your slime and any small objects that could relate to the story. Feathers, snail toys ,shells be creative.

Show us your slime on social media using #ouramanahsourfutures. Here is ours elegantly shaped into a snail-shell.

slime green

He now has a passion for flying and needs to find ways to do it again.

childrens books sue hendra

We set out finding ways to help Norman fly. The first thing we tried were Norman rockets.

You will need two sizes of straws one bigger than the other. If you don’t have any straws no worries. You can take a scrap piece of paper and wrap it around in to a straw shape.

Norman Rockets

Supplies you will need:

  • A cut out of Norman
  • Your straws
  • Sticky tape
  1. Here you can see my big straw made of paper. It only needs to be short big enough to stick your Norman on. One end of the straw needs to be sealed hence the sticky tape covering the end.

Straw rocket

2. Stick Norman to the big straw with the sealed end pointed upwards.

3. Place your Norman straw on top of the small straw.

starw rocket

4. Now blow into the end of the small straw and watch Norman fly!

Before the child has their first turn ask them what they think will happen?

The next time ask them to take a small breath and blow. Then a big breath and blow. What difference does this make to how high Norman flies?

Balloon Blast Off

For another way to make Norman fly you will need:

  • Balloon
  • Straw
  • Norman
  • Tape
  • String or knitting wool (we used a shoelace)

The challenge to make Norman fly from one end of the string to the other.

  1. Tie one end of the string too a door handle or similar place.
  2. Thread the straw onto the string.
  3. Stick Norman to the top of the straw.
  4. Tie the other end of the string to somewhere at the same level as the door handle.
  5. Blow up your balloon keeping it untied .
  6. Tape the balloon to the straw.
  7. At this point ask your child what they think will happen.
  8. Let go of the balloon and watch Norman blast off.

Baloon rocket

Repeat the same thing again each time blowing the balloon too different sizes. Does the size affect the speed of Norman? Does it make him fly further?

As balloons and plastic straws are a threat to the environment and our wildlife please keep yours safe. There are many fun activities they can be used for so keep them in your craft box.

If you try any of these ideas or some of your own show us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the #ouramanahsourfutures we would love to see.

If you enjoyed our sensory story then read our others here:

A Sensory Story With Chickens Can’t See In The Dark

A Sensory Story With Peter Rabbit

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childrens books sue hendra

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When You’re Smiling -Learning the Smiling Dua

Last week we had so much fun learning the Dua for when it rains, I had to find another small Dua to learn.

A few years ago I came across the Dua for when we see someone smiling and made this little frame. As I am a perfectionist I dumped it in the back of a cupboard never to be seen again because I don’t like the writing.

I went back in the cupboard, took it out and displayed it on the fireplace

Smiling Dua

What a beautiful Dua to make for someone you see smiling whether you know them or not. It leaves you feeling all happy and warm inside.

This Dua was made for the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

Hadith
Sunnah.com

I showed the frame to Noori and we discussed the Hadith, the Dua and how smiling is form of charity. If we give someone a beautiful smile they will feel happy and that could be the first time they smiled today. Also you will be rewarded from Allah and maybe rewarded with a smile back from that person.

Then we learned the Dua. I said the Dua over the day and got Noori too repeat it after me.

The next day we made some smiley face Emoji biscuits. I had bought some really boring rich tea style biscuits the day before. So we gave them a much-needed make over. With yellow icing, raisins for eyes and smiley mouths. Whilst doing this activity we kept repeating the Dua over and over.

Emoji Cookie

A few days later we went to the park after school and had one of our biscuits as a snack. Again we repeated the Dua.

Emoji bitten

When we got home we did some smiley face emoji maths.

This time Noori is learning her 7 times tables so I took the opportunity to incorporate maths and Duas with physical activity.

I put her Smiley Emoji cushion in the middle of the floor. On her Emoji notepaper I wrote the 7 times table. I got Noori to put them in the correct order around the Emoji face.

Emoji Maths

As they were too close to the cushion she spread them around the room. I asked her a question about the 7 times tables. She jumped on the answer and then on to the Emoji. When she landed on the Emoji she had to say the Dua.

I find this method a really effective way of memorizing Duas and times tables.

I’m hoping after reading this next time you see a smiley face Emoji you will connect it to this short but sweet Dua. And everytime you see someone smiling you will make this Dua for them and spread a bit of happiness around 😁😊☺🙂

Read how we learned the Dua for when its Raining here.

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Destroying The One Size Fits All Sleeping Myth

sleep training baby sleep co sleep

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I am writing this for all the Mummies who like me worry when I hear of other peoples little angels who sleep in their own bed, in their own room all night long . And just to assure you I know of absolutely no babies like that.

I just read a question on a group ‘How do you get a 9 month old to self soothe?’ i.e sleep through the night. My midwife has also questioned me about this. To be honest both times I was seriously shocked. I had no idea a 9 month old should sleep through the night. None of my children have ever done that.

I started getting worried. What am I doing? Am I doing this whole thing wrong? Should my baby sleep through the night? Am I setting myself up for a hard future?

Then the lightbulb moment ,

“Why do we as Mums pressure ourselves to make our children and ourselves perfect sleepers?”.

Is that even a real thing?

When Noori was little we did the whole crying it out thing and it worked, until the people downstairs started complaining.

Now I could never let a baby cry it out. They cry for a reason and thats usually because they love their parent and want to feel safe and close to them. How could I see a mini human crying in distress and just leave them alone. We would never do that to an adult so why do that to an innocent child.

When we got our own house it didn’t matter but by then Noori had a bad relationship with sleep and her Dad said she could sleep in with us. Now she is 8 and after years of bribery and room decoration she still tells me how lonely she is in her own room and I feel so bad leaving her alone when her baby brother is next to me in her former place.

As the first child she gets experimented on and none of the methods have worked, through my own fault.

With this baby I vowed we would have a great bedtime routine. He would always sleep in his cot upstairs, even at naptime. How wrong I was.

I was so lucky to give birth in the midwife led birthing unit in my hospital. Part of the luxury was having a private room with double bed. (Well not so private as nurses came in and out all the time). I put baby in the very nice Mama’s and Papas crib. I didn’t like the fact he was far away from me and was worried about him . How would I know if he was OK?

How would I know he was breathing?

How could I know what was happening if he wasn’t next to me?

By the way I’m blind as a bat without my glasses on so that didn’t help matters.

Then during the early hours he woke up and instinctively I fed him lying down. Baby, my Husband and I slept soundly. The nurse walked in and didn’t bat an eyelid at a newborn baby sleeping next to his Mama.

As I am writing this I am realising how natural that sounds. We had been sleeping next to each other for 9 months. As soon as He was born I picked him up and he was in my arms for 30 minutes. The only person who touched him was the midwife putting a blanket on him. Why suddenly should we be separated?

For practical reasons I always have my baby in a baby carrier on the school run. People ask me why? Don’t you have a pram? I have given up explaining and just say he’s been hugging Mummy since he was born and thats true.

Fast forward to coming home. After just giving birth and having separated tummy muscles, sitting up at night too breastfeed a baby and put him back in his cot was so uncomfortable. I resorted to lying down feeding as that was the only comfortable way and soon I was getting a relaxing sleep!! Yay.

Every morning I get to wake up with a smiley chubby cheek baby slapping my face.

Sometimes we have a routine and sometimes I need to be reminded to stick to it.

So this is our routine ( sometimes):

At 8PM we:

Read a story

Say its time to sleep

Say the sleeping Dua

3 Quls

And Surah Mulk.

Feed baby to sleep.

He starts off in his cot. Then wakes up 2-3 times a night for a feed. By this point I’m too tired for messing around so keep him in the bed with us.

baby cot cradle

As long as you and you partner haven’t smoked, drank alcohol, been on medication or heavy sleepers it is pretty much safe to co sleep. Just make sure your baby is placed with their head higher than yours and there are no pillows or other bedding around them.

I read that in some African cultures, it is normal to wake up several times a night to feed a baby or be on guard to watch out for wild animals. They don’t have a bad relationship with sleep like we do, being told we have to get this many hours of sleep, the numbers changing every year. I used to get so angry if my sleep was interrupted. Of course if you are going to work in the morning its a different story, but if you are on maternity leave or a full time Mum we don’t need to have this attitude.

If my baby wakes up crying who am I to deny him a feed. Breastmilk not only fills their tummies but is also a pain relief. If baby wakes up in pain from teething imagine how happy he will be for that pain relief.

Then the good news. Breastfeeding a baby every 4 hours a day and night up to 6 months can be a form of contraception called LAM contraception. You can read more about it at Babycentre. So if my baby wants feeding every few hours who am I to complain?

If my babies want to feel safe and warm sleeping next to their Mummy and Papa can I deny them that?

Every family is different. I know people who put their babies in a separate room at 3 months. Families who’s babies sleep in a cot or a side sleeper. I know parents who have their older kids in their own beds next to theirs. There is no one set rule or ideal for sleeping.

So lets destroy this one size fits all sleeping myth.

As long as we are all happy and sleeping, waking up, drinking milk or midnight feasts, lets all be proudly, unashamedly imperfect. And when someone asks you how your baby sleeps tell them the truth and dispell a few sleeping myths.

What is your bedtime routine? Do you even have one? Drop me a comment and bust these sleeping myths ❤

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Baby Fish Fingers Two Ways.

Before we get on to the recipe I’d like to share a bit of news. There is a new bloggers campaign called #nowastewithin. Created by The Food Brood who were concerned about the ammount of food waste in the blogging industry. This is the pledge that I am Happy to commit to.

“I promise that no food waste was created by the development, cooking, styling and photographing of this recipe and that, where it wasn’t possible for me to enjoy it myself, I have redistributed, repurposed, retained or recycled the food.”

Wherever you see the symbol you will know that the blogger has taken the pledge.

So on with the recipe. Now Abdi is 7 months old we are well into the whole baby led weaning. He especially loves bread as he can hold it and its easy to eat.

The other night Noori really wanted vegetable fingers and we gave some to Abdi who wolfed it down. I realised this could be a great way of getting more fish into his diet.

I could go out and buy a packet of fish fingers but I have no idea what ingredients or nasties there are in there and it means unnecessary packaging. I can make them myself with very few ingredients and zero packaging ending up in landfill.

As I had bought a big fillet of fish I made two different flavours and froze them. I bought my fish from the butchers who only stock Cod and Coley. I chose the Coley as its more sustainable and 3 times cheaper costing me £1.27.

To make both recipes you will need:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 3 or 4 small potatoes
  • one carrot
  • a handfull of peas
  • a handfull of broccolli and cauliflower
  • A fillet of fish

The first thing I did was chop all the vegetables into chunks then steamed them with the fish to lock in all those vitamins.

Steamer

In the meantime I toasted the bread to make it dry out. When cooled I whizzed it into breadcrumbs in the food processer. If you have a bread machine this is a great way to use up the end piece with the hole in .

Toast

  1. When the vege and fish are steamed blitz the fish, half the potatoes, brocolli and cauliflower in a blender.
  • fish n vege
  • 2. Scoop it out into a dish and do the same with the remaining potatoes , fish, peas and carrots.

Dishes

3. Take one mixture and pat it down into an even square shape. Cut the mixture into finger shapes a bit smaller than your average fish finger.

4. Dip the mixture into the breadcrumbs.

5. Do the same with the other mixture.

6. Grill a few under the oven until golden brown.

7. The rest can be frozen for another day.

I decided not to use egg to stick the breadcrumbs and it worked perfectly without.

Considering there are no herbs, salt or other types of favouring these are still tasty for older children and adults alike.

fish fingers

So here you have a tasty, easy to eat fish finger containing no nasties and no packaging ending up in the bin.

This is the only waste this recipe makes which can be easily composted.

For more baby food recipes read Baby’s 1st Food- Avacado and Turnip and for moving on to textures Baby Weaning- Textures.

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