Ramadaan- The Month of Mercy… (Somebody please tell my kids that!)

how i feel

So most of my readers are currently fasting (abstaining from food, drink etc from dawn until dusk) and this is by no means an easy feat. Generally, not eating leaves most people I know feeling rather ‘crabby’ to say the least. And controlling your anger is just another aspect of the ‘fast’.

While fasting I have done some rather suspect things… but I blame this on the fact that my brain is working at half power. It’s just little things that make u realise the impact of not being able to eat regular meals. I often forget to indicate when turning while I drive… and this only happens while fasting. I don’t simply smile as much as I normally do with the cashiers, pedestrians and the people in my neighbourhood. And I found that the smiling decreases the further into the day I get. The other day, while reading something from a bottle out aloud, I actually invented my own word!? The sad part was that it took me a few seconds to realise what I had just said. And that it made no sense whatsoever. I used the word ‘nurrifying’ and looked up to see 2 people looking at me rather confused. I then realised what I did n corrected myself, “I meant nourishing” yes, the fast definitely does get me now and then! My 5 year old said to me recently: ” So mummy…when you’re fasting, u have to nap everyday right?!” Yes Yes! I’m guilty!! I do put on a movie for them so that I can have “a little lie down”…just for a little while 🙂

Now like I mentioned fasting is a rather difficult task…. but fasting with a toddler or baby is always just a little bit more difficult.

There are certain things I’ve been doing for years as a mother that I’m quite sure a lot of other mums can relate to. For e.g. every sehri when I awake, I would always wedge a pillow next to my baba, in the hope that he doesn’t realise I’m not in bed, for fear that he wakes up thinking it’s time to play and talk n not go back to sleep. We would also take turns at sehri while they were babies. I’d eat first, come back to bed while my husband ate. So we’re having sehri together after quite some time. The same applied to praying… as it’s impossible for both parents to be ‘unavailable ‘ for entertainment purposes! 😉

Iftar (time at which your fast is broken) has also become quite challenging. We have now imposed the ‘no talking’ rule at Iftar time in the hope that we can have a somewhat peaceful Iftar. I probably should add that we are failing quite miserably, considering the chatterbox we have. He continues making odd sounds and when reminded of the no talking rule, smugly replies “but I’m not talking!” This rule has now been amended to the ‘NO talking… making sounds…jumping around…running around the table… chasing each other… going under the table or banging cutlery at Iftar time rule. ‘Basically they aren’t allowed to move. 

The other rule I have had to add is that ‘ ALL CHILDREN MUST GO TO THE TOILET BEFORE I AM SEATED!!’
This was a necessity due to the fact that it seems both my kids’ bladders n tummies seem to be in sync with the time I place my first piece of kajoor/date into my mouth. As soon as the Azaan (call to prayer) is heard, and the date touches my mouth I am simultaneously summoned. And most of u can relate: “MUMMY….. I’m done! You can come wash me!! ”
Thankfully, this rule is proving to be more effective.

Keeping up with the Kardashians is nothing. Keeping up with your toddler in Ramadaan, now that’s a reality show!! And I seem to be living it!!

Well we have survived thus far…. so it seems maybe I’m not doing such a bad job this year 😉 although I have had 5yrs worth of training. So to all the new mums, hang in there…. and remember… this too shall pass … I’m not sure exactly when…or how…. and frankly it doesn’t seem to be anytime soon….. But that’s what I’ve been told….. 😉

This should be a “life” code in my opinion 😉


The wonders of Pregnancy :)


The Wonders of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is generally a wonderful time for any women, especially the 1st pregnancy. Everything is new and exciting and you track the growth of your lil ‘bean’ every inch of the way. The 2nd pregnancy isn’t quite the same…well it wasn’t for me. I had a toddler to chase, and was teaching to complete my post grad certificate, and so the pregnancy seemed very ‘by the way’- until the stage where I had feet in my chest all the time…very uncomfortable! Not to mention having to sleep upright because of heartburn…yes pregnancy is a wonderfully strange journey. And I believe that for those 9 months, you kind of lose your mind (to a certain degree). There’s even a term for it, ‘Pregnancy brain’- I discovered the meaning of this in my very 1st pregnancy in 2008!

One of the expected things to endure during pregnancy is cravings…although not everyone goes through this. And the type of craving also varies. It could be a craving for salty foods, spicy foods and often sour foods. My older sister added tobasco sauce to everything, and my cousin in-law craved sour things. I was rather unique in this manner…I had no cravings at all…nothing …nada…well …not for food anyway. I have to meet another person who can relate to this. My cravings were more…Olfactory. I craved a certain type of ‘smell’ and ‘texture’. But not just any smell…it was very specific. They had to be ‘clean’ smells  Now I’m explaining this to you exactly like I did to my husband who looked at me as if I needed to be institutionalised.

It began one day with Pine Gel (floor cleaning detergent with a fresh pine smell). I started waiting around for my domestic helper to mop the floor with Pine Gel. I would walk around wherever she had mopped so I could breathe in the smell of the clean floors. I should’ve realised that this was odd, but I didn’t, and it escalated. I started lingering in the soap section of our local supermarket, near washing powder, liquid soap, anything that smelt clean, and I loved the smell of a pharmacy. It moved on to dish washing liquid…and this is where the strangeness of it all started. I found myself sitting (watching TV) with the Sunlight liquid bottle and squeezing it lightly, so bursts of scented air would shoot straight into my nose…I also carried around Sta-soft (fabric conditioner) refills with me inhaling the wonderful scent every few minutes or so. And then… just when my husband thought I could not get any weirder… he found me in bed…with my Sta-soft bottle. Yes I had actually taken the bottle to the bed with me! I had become slightly obsessive. I ‘NEEDED’ to smell these smells…

A little while later I discovered Protex Soap. Again not just any variant of protex, it had to be Protex Fresh, the blue one. I would ONLY use this in the shower, and ONLY with my black skin stimulator sponge gifted to me by husband’s sister…and this were the texture problem started. If you’ve seen the Sh’zen black sponge you’ll know that has a rough texture. The smell of protex fresh and the black sponges texture was irresistable!! This was the first ‘odd’ thing I craved to eat during my pregnancy. I remember saying “It smells so good, I could just eat it”…but I’ll have you know… a part of me did realise how insane this was, and so I never did eat the sponge…although I wanted to…BADLY.

My obsession continued and when I went home for a rest before giving birth, I made sure I had enough soap to last me through my stay…in case I couldn’t find it there?! And yes, I did sleep with the protex soap next to me…it seemed ‘less abnormal’ than a huge Sta-soft bottle.
The best part is that the moment I gave birth it all stopped. Just as suddenly as it had started…gone!! I came home from the hospital and the type of soap in the shower did not even cross my mind… it seemed I was back to being normal… (If that’s even possible after birth). With the second pregnancy it did start up again…but this time it was less prominent…and I was definitely more aware of how insane I must’ve looked previously… walking around …sniffing Sta-soft…watching TV with Sunlight dishwashing liquid…going to bed with Protex Soap.

Yes, the wonders of pregnancy….certainly does make you wonder….

Odd craving


expecting this
What YOU think you’re gonna look like as a new mum…..

This is what we call the 40 days (or so) after giving birth to a bundle of ‘joy’…
Yes they actually call it a bundle of joy when all your bundle seems to do is scream, cry, feed…repeat. Now feeding doesn’t seem like much of a task you may think… but any mother that has persevered through breastfeeding every 1 and half hours, yes all through the night, and had to deal with colic or reflux would beg to differ. A ‘bundle of joy’ it definitely is NOT during those first few weeks. The smiles at about 5 weeks do seem to make it all worth it- unless, (like me), your bundle is still colicky and reflux…oh the joy! (That’s a whole different post altogether)

In any case, a week or so prior to giving birth to my first son, I was fortunate enough to have my maternal granny and one and only aunt (both of whom I love very dearly) come and stay with me for my ‘confinement’. I’d said this word so many times without actually considering the reality of it. It literally meant ‘confined’- to be locked up basically. For those 5-6weeks you are literally ‘confined’ your home, unless it’s an emergency… and your craving for Ocean Basket does not constitute an emergency (apparently).

I realised during this period how different the 3 generations of mothers in my home were. Myself (the new mother), my mother and aunt (the experienced mothers) and my grandmother (the old school mother… no I mean REALLY OLD SCHOOL). I suppose you have to consider the fact that she came from a generation that were married at 16, spent their lives at home, child rearing, cooking, did as they were told, never questioned their elders and spoke very little English. They spoke Gujerati, and learnt English as a second language. They had also concocted some really interesting theories regarding confinement- as I discovered. In the last week before birth, my granny found me munching on samoosas left over after some guests had left. She promptly told me in Gujerati about how I shouldn’t be eating them as they are going to ‘poke’ the baby?! I smiled and asked her to please repeat it…

A few days before the samoosa incident, she discovered me praying. Now there are rules to a 9 month pregnant women praying- for e.g. you should at this stage be using a chair to sit on during prayer, and if you’re stubborn and insist on standing, you should have a pillow on your prayer mat (where your forehead meets the ground) in order to minimize your bending over. Nevertheless, she found me, praying my post midday prayer (1pm) … without a chair, (oh the horror!) and sat down on the bed, awaiting my ‘salaam’ (indicating the conclusion of the prayer) – to scold me I assume. Before I could conclude, during the last part of the prayer, I bent over so my forehead touched the ground. I immediately heard her stand up and rattle of quite unhappily ‘Nor Man! Tu hu Karech? Tharo poira nu naak hul-gath chaptu thaa hair!! Tu poira neh squash karechs man!!”. (Forgive my Gujerarti) Loosely translated, that means:” No man, what are you doing? Your baby’s nose is going to be completely flat! You’re squashing the baby man!!” Now for my granny, squashing the baby was major, but a flat nose was a real catastrophe! I completed my prayer and tried to pacify her, agreeing to use a pillow for the afternoon prayer A few days later, my 1st son was born… ‘After 6 girls.’

Upon seeing my son for the very first time, my granny brimmed with pride. He was the 1st grandson to my mother after having 5 (awesome) daughters  and one gorgeous granddaughter. On closer inspection of his face though, she looked at me and pointed at his ear saying, “Jo Jo! Oo thaneh hu kay-yoo? Poiro nu kaan jo?” Meaning “Look! Look! What did I tell you? Look at the boy’s ear!” As it turns out…she was right! I had squashed him in my belly, his nose was flat (as expected) and his ear seemed to have been flattened against his head, without the normal curl the upper ear has. My doctor explained that it was the lack of space in my womb, and it would correct itself, but there was no convincing my granny- I was already a careless mother, that had squashed my baby, before he was born!

On returning home, my job as a mother mostly involved feeding and sleeping. I was not required to bath the baby as my oldest sister, aunt and mum took care of that. I also believe that it was because they did not trust me as a new mother… I had after all ‘squashed’ my baby- you know?! My diet had also been specially created for ‘strength’. This included the usual confinement foods, and other mixtures. I also noticed that my breakfast consisted of ghee…with an egg floating around there somewhere. When I questioned them as to why they were trying to give me a heart attack at such a young age, I was cut short by my aunt and granny with- ‘It’s for strength, the baby and milk” and ofcourse “ This is how our mothers did it, we didn’t cross question our mothers like this new generation”. I knew better than to argue, but I did wonder how I would ever fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans again- which I never did!! I was also told to drink my milk drink super hot so that MY (breast) milk would also be hot enough for the baby … I loved my granny too much to point out that that was biologically impossible.

And I suppose having all these wonderfully different women in my life has brought more colour, light, love and definitely laughs to my life… as weird as my confinement was…. I realised how blessed I was to be surrounded by so many people to love me, and take care of me…. and ofcourse my crying… cramping… pooing –through- layers-of-clothes…vomiting…colicky and reflux… ” bundle of joy”

mom look

….What you REALLY look like as a new mum ….

Coughs and Colds

About 2 years ago I decided to change my medicine cupboard. This came after using multiple bottles of OTC cough syrups and flu medications for my then 1year old and 3year old. After about 6 weeks I decided to see a local Homeopath and within 7-10days both boys no longer had those persistent coughs. It was then that I made the decision to change to natural alternatives. In the last 2years the boys have not had any pharmaceutical medicines to treat their colds/flu. With the mercy of the Almighty, my older son has only had 1 course of antibiotics in the last 3+ yrs and my youngest, (3 years old) has not had an antibiotic for approximately 2years now.
I do believe that sometimes, as in the case of bacterial infections and severe fevers, an antibiotic is a necessity- but I do try to avoid them at all costs. And most infections that children develop are usually viral. Once again this is simply my opinion, and each mum should do what she feels is best for her children, and follow the advice of your family doctor.

I am NOT a medical practitioner, and I always advocate that you see a doctor/natural health practitioner when it comes to your children’s well-being.
I have decided to compile a list of the products currently in my cupboard.

The following are natural alternatives that I have found to be effective:
• Immune Boosters- Prior to the cold season I start the boys on an immune booster- Viral choice or Crecheguard are both wonderful options. The idea is to check that whatever you use has a fair amount of Echinacea in it, to ward or colds and flu.

• Coughs- Pegasus Bronchial Relief eases tight chests, Tibb Chesteeze, Tibb Kofcare, Stodal (Boiron).

• Runny Nose- Pegasus Muco Drainol.

• Flu – Pegasus Colds and Flu, Oscillococcinum (yes it’s a mouthful) made by Boiron.

• Sinusitis – Coryzalia (Boiron)

These items are ALWAYS in my medicine cupboard, and I have been using them for the last 2 years now, and do find them effective.

I have been using Pegasus Homeopathic Remedies for 3 years and am extremely happy with the results I have had. Pegasus also makes something called Vira-bac which is a natural alternative to antibiotic. And their Blue Box contains all the essential Pegasus products you need in your home. Pegasus is found in all major pharmacies (Dischem/Pharmwell) and local pharmacies stock them as well. Prices are approximately R75 per bottle and lasts quite a long time- definitely worth it.

Another natural alternative to antibiotics is Tibb Septoguard.

My younger sister Fathima Osman, is currently completing her studies in Natural Medicine in Cape Town and recently introduced me to the “Himalaya” range of products. The throat lozenges have proven to be very effective as well as Koflet for coughs. She will do a guest article for me on Natural Medicine soon.

All the above mentioned medicines have a sweet taste and so kids shouldn’t have a problem taking them.
I also found that Natura and Homeoforce tissue salts help as well but need to be used over a prolonged period of time for increased effectiveness vs. the Homeopathic medicines mentioned above.

The last tip I have is to definitely invest in a Nebuliser and Humidifier. Nebulisers loosen phlegm in the chest and help to expel mucous, while humidifiers help with congestion.
I currently have Ultrasonic Nebulisers on special @R650.00. This is a must for every new mum. It is completely silent, versus regular noisy machines, (so it won’t wake your baba up and you can nebulise as they sleep). Drop me a mail maryambb29@gmail.com and I can forward you the details

When I gave birth to my second lil boy, my older sister came to stay with me for the first 2 weeks or so. She brought along my gorgeous and unbelievably intelligent, 5yr old niece. One afternoon we found my niece and 2yr old first born innocently playing ‘Doctor Doctor’. No one really paid any attention to them until my sister noticed her daughter handing out medication. She had found her mums medicine bag, and was happily handing them out after asking my son ‘Do you have cramps? Take 2 of this…. Is your head paining? Oh, you need to take 3 of these…” and so on, obviously imitating her mother. And so, in typical ‘Mummy’ form, we began our interrogation, “What are you guys doing?? What’s that in your mouth??? Spit it out!! Spit it out!! Give that bag to me!! “Then I heard the following,” Oh, Oh …Ooohhh ok, you can carry on playing…but don’t give him too much ok”. Fortunately my sisters medicine bag comprised a range of tissue salts, and after our Mommy FBI Act, we enjoyed a good giggle.


You better …….Or Else!!

This is something ALL mothers do. It seems that as the placenta is removed from the womb during the birth process, it is promptly replaced with the “Mommy program”. This includes but isn’t limited to:
1. The ‘Look’
2. The ‘Threat’. This is a modification of the brain, speech related; it often involves the use of fabricated characters, linked to the threat currently made.
Let me explain further.

• The ‘Look’
The Look3
This isn’t a look as much as a glare. It is an eyebrow raised, head slightly tilted to one side, wide eyed look with which no words are required. The ‘Look’ says it all… and it basically says: “Are you sure you want to do/say that? Think carefully now… Are you ABSOLUTELY sure?”
The ‘Look’ is sometimes sufficient enough to make your toddler drop whatever he’s doing and run in the opposite direction- almost always screaming for grandma/grandpa or the nanny depending on who’s present. When the ‘Look’ fails we often resort to num 2!

• The ‘Threat’
The Threat2
The ‘threat ‘varies from mother to mother… and so do the characters created in order to convince your lil one to do what you say… or else!
A family favourite of ours is the ‘boolulu man’. He has been passed down generations in our family and I’m still using him- mostly for my 3 yr old. He seems to be quite efficient at meal times. ‘If you don’t finish your food- the boolulu man is going to hear me, and when he comes to collect all the children that trouble their mummies, I will have no choice but to let him take you’. My co-conspirator is their father, who rapidly knocks on the front door, saying nothing – at which point I scream out- ‘go away boolulu man, he’s not troubling me, he’s eating his food’.


I noticed that in my older sisters home, the ‘Van man’ is always nearby, anxiously waiting to load the naughty kids into the back of his van. And during the day, there’s ‘the Dustbin man’, who loads the misbehaving kids (along with the dirt) into his truck. The trick with the threats is that it has to be age appropriate… or else….#epic fail!!

When my younger son was just over a year old, we courageously decided that we would attempt having a meal in a restaurant. Now bear in mind, Spur/Wimpy type places are classified as child-friendly… unfortunately we didn’t choose a “child friendly restaurant”. We opted for Seafood at Ocean Basket in Nelspruit.

Now my son is a bundle of energy, and after napping in the car during the drive to Nelspruit he was fully recharged and ready to go. We should have realised then that a change in eating environment was necessary. Ofcourse, we didn’t – and had a rather eventful meal that day.

My one year old son was too young to be afraid of the ‘Boolulu Man’ but we did discover earlier that year that he was terrified of prawns- with their heads on. So like any mother would, l used the prawns as my ‘threat’ in order for him to sit still long enough for me to enjoy my meal still hot. On this particular occasion it was unsuccessful. He did sit still at first, and just starred at the black eyes on the prawn … but at some point, noticed that it was not alive…and returned to his normal energetic self.

We were seated on a 6 seater table, even though we were just 4 people, and that was probably our first mistake. He began jumping between the empty chairs and me, banging on the wooden under plates, paying no attention to the crayons and paper provided by the restaurant. I tried the ‘Look’ which didn’t work, I tried holding the prawn closer to him , which also didn’t work, all the while trying to feed my older son, 3yrs old at the time, who was actually pretty well behaved. In between apologies to our neighbouring tables and the waiters, I must have got a bite or 2 for myself.
He then climbed onto the table and in his excitement and true to his ‘style’ kicked the salt and pepper shakers which sent them flying from the table to the floor, shattering as they connected with the tiles. Naturally I scolded while he smiled at me, quite proud of himself… not at all phased by his mother glaring, threatening and scolding him.
I attempted to clean up the mess and apologized profusely to our waiter who now seemed to be losing her patience. I don’t blame her though, she had been pushed, bumped, tugged on, etc while trying to serve our table.

I returned to the table and continued eating while my son played happily under the table. A few minutes later I realised he was very quiet, un-unnervingly quiet. My son is NEVER EVER that quiet. I got down on my knees and peeped under the table. I found my 1 year old squatting and grinning quite happily… with a puddle of pee on the floor just below him! It seems that he positioned himself perfectly to allow the pee to pass through the side of his nappy.

The Pee

I sat back on the chair, and quietly whispered to his dad what had happened. I then stood up, straightened my dress out and, holding my sons hand, I did what any other mother would do…I made my exit…… leaving his dad to explain the puddle on the floor.