January 19 2016

Eight Years Apart

8years A year ago, in December, as many of you already know, I was blessed with the addition of my sweet baby boy: Arkan. And as many of you also know, he’s my second child, my first being my awesome son Adam, who, as many of you don’t actually know, is 8 years older than Arkan…
Yes, yes, a huge age gap, I’m perfectly aware of that, and believe me, every single person I meet manages to stress out this fact one way or the other. I remember when I was pregnant with Arkan, some people tried to “prepare” me for the harsh reality that is awaiting me, some tried to “warn” me about the many downsides of having siblings with such a huge difference, and many tried to conceal their shock with hesitant smiles, or tried to show support by saying the wrong kind of things, like: “well, what can one do? just try to look at the bright side”, “at least they’ve got each other, you know”, “let’s pray it’s a girl and hope for the best!”, “I have the same situation at home and I can’t begin to tell you what a nightmare my life has been, but then again, every experience is different”.
It doesn’t really bother me that people think this way, and I don’t mind it, as long as I know that it’s all governed by good intentions. I love sincere people, people who honestly care, even if they don’t know you, even if they know they’ll never ever see you again.
And among the many who tried to scare the hell out of me, there were a few who made sure I don’t let any negative comments steal my excitement, or ruin my experience.

The once helpless little baby is now one year old. The age gap that many people tried to scare me of, was a beautiful bliss I’m so thankful for. I’m enjoying motherhood just as much as I did with my first one. I don’t have to worry about jealousy, nor fighting. My older son is a very responsible and caring helper, who is enjoying our new addition as much as we are.
I know they won’t share many things together, and that each will have his own world that is almost a decade away from the other, but they’ve got each other, there will always be a point where their two worlds will intersect, a rare  miraculous bond I’m so glad for .
The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t let anyone scare you no matter what the circumstances. Whether you have an only child, or twins, or siblings with a very small age gap, or a very big one, every experience is different, and each one has its own positive and negative sides. Focus on the bright side, work around the dark corners, and you’ll end up with a magical experience like no other.

When I was pregnant, I suggested Adam chooses a nice book to buy for the baby, and he chose a lovely book that had the feature of playing musical instruments. It was so sweet, and when he came to the world, Arkan loved it . I was so proud of Adam’s choice of books.
A year later, for Arkan’s first birthday, I suggested Adam picks another book as a gift to his baby brother, and well, let’s just say, this time, his choice wasn’t as mature nor sensitive 😀 Of all the lovely baby books out there he had to choose this: Toot.


What can I say… boys will always be boys!
P.s. The whole family enjoys this lovely, very funny & extremely cute book. 

January 8 2016

New Year, New Mindset

As a new year starts, most people begin to challenge themselves, try to achieve their long list of new year resolutions, which I personally find very inspiring and positive. It is important for each person to review their life, where they stand, whether or not they’re actually happy, content; to take a break, reconsider, and set some goals to improve who they are and how they live.
What I find very upsetting though is that whenever I ask someone about their resolutions, it’s mainly about themselves, wanting to be healthier, lose some weight, learn this, practice that, get that job, write that book, visit this country, buy that house…etc; which as part of a bigger goal would be very fair and nice, but I truly think it’s selfish and ignorant for us to grow more greedy and self-centered with every passing year.

There’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves or those we love, but we constantly forget that we’re part of a universe, a bigger system, and that if we don’t take care of more than ‘us’ this system will collapse, and continue to suffer because of us, until we reach a point where we’ll eventually be sucked into this whole destructive process.

For those who know me in person, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with documentaries, I do enjoy movies of all kinds, but my absolute favorite are documentaries, especially those discussing health, environment or philosophy.
I love investing my time in something that will expand my horizons, add to my knowledge, remind me of why I exist, and most importantly something that will inspire me to improve on more than one level.

This year, I wont be discussing my resolutions, instead, I will recommend some of my favorite documentaries, in hopes that this year will witness the birth of more aware and mature individuals who will take better care of themselves and their surroundings.

1. “I AM”

2. “Hungry For Change”

3. “Living on One Dollar”

4. “Food Matters”

5. “Happy”

6. “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead”
Part 1:

Part 2:


December 15 2015

Canada: Cold Country, Warm Hearts

Like many Arabs living in Canada, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feeling of joy, and pain, as the Syrian refugees started landing in the country.
As happy as I was to see them arrive safely, knowing they’ll now needn’t worry about their survival, and that they’ll finally be able to re-experience a safe and terror-free life, just like the one they used to have a few years ago before all this craziness took place, I have to admit that deep inside me, watching my brothers and sisters in this condition, scattered around the globe, seeking refuge continents away from their home, was not easy, at all.
All what came to my mind was Syria; this beautiful country, with its inveterate history and its rich culture… all the good times that I – like thousand others- have spent there on vacation. Syria was synonym to safety, fun, happiness and everything great. Now with terrorism tearing it apart, I really couldn’t help but feel sincerely sorry for their hearts that are aching and burdened with a huge question mark you can see on the face of almost every refugee: ‘What happened to us? what’s next?’
The only thing that helped ease the pain a bit was witnessing the beautiful reactions of Canadians as they welcomed refugees with arms wide open. Starting with the government and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to the children who were holding toys and blankets awaiting their “new friends”.
The amount of donations and volunteers dedicating their time to help refugees was pretty impressive, and to see Canada sheltering people despite their religious beliefs, not asking them to give up their religious identity, but on the contrary embracing their beliefs, was just terrific, Canada sent a clear and strong message to the whole world: ‘a human being, is a human being, regardless of what they believe, regardless of where they come from, or what language they speak’.
This message certainly made all Canadians proud of their country and government, I know I am.

Of all Canadian gestures to welcome refugees, I must say that these two touched me the most:

  1. Ottawa children choir singing an Arabic Muslim song to welcome refugees:

2. Quebec senior women meet up to make tuques for refugees.

Let’s remember that those who made it here, or elsewhere as a matter of fact, are only the lucky ones, and that many others are still suffering with no way out.
As heartbreaking as this may be, let’s hope that Syria will once again be a safe home for its lovely people, and that the world will, one day, be a happier place, free of all kinds of terrorism.


November 12 2015

On Becoming a Canadian Citizen

As many of you already know, we landed in Canada a few years ago. I remember the very first steps I took in Toronto Pearson International Airport. They were shaky, unsteady steps, driven by curiosity, worry,  excitement and a mixture of ambition and fear.

Before coming here, we heard lots of mixed reviews of the country and its lifestyle. So we decided to learn from the experiences of others, without letting these experiences shape our own expectations or decisions. In short, we decided to live our own adventure with all its details, all its twists and turns, being prepared for the best as well as the worst case scenarios.

In Canada, and no matter where you’re coming from, you’ll suffer from what I like to call: ‘The Canada Shock’. Everywhere you go, you’ll experience this “we’re all different and the same” sensation.
Canada is where you hear a 100 languages you don’t speak, feel like a complete stranger,  then out of nowhere, and like music to your tired ears, someone passes you by, and you hear your mother tongue … you smile, they smile back at you (most of the time) and all of a sudden, you feel you’re home.
Canada is where you feel overwhelmed by the vast majority that is nothing like you; everyone looks different than you do, everyone dresses different than you do, but then you take a closer look and realize they’re, in fact, all like you: they reflect the mixed feelings inside them just as well as you do, they shop for clothes exactly where you do, and they all come from a different place on the map, like you, they struggle to build a new life, like you, and worry about mostly the same things you worry about… you feel at ease, you feel you’re all the same, you feel at home.
Canada is where people eat things like Poutine, Nanaimo Bar, and Maple-glazed everything 😀 , and then you crave hummus & falafel, a hot shawarma, or a steamy biryani, sushi, souvlaki, burgers, steaks, pad thai, or any weird thing you desire, and you’ll mostly find it… and feel at home.

In Canada you can be one of two groups of people. Those who insist on spotting the differences, letting them get in their way, and those who insist on spotting the similarities, overcoming the differences and going their own way. As long as you belong to the second group, you’ll lead a happy peaceful and successful life in Canada. Canada is not a perfect country, but it’s a very unique one.
I’m glad we didn’t let anything influence our journey. It was for sure a bit rough in the beginning, like many immigrants I guess, but with time we learned that you just can’t compare life in Canada to anywhere else in the world. It is indeed, a very unique place, like nowhere else. It has its own system, its own beauty, its own difficulties, and you can’t just get along if you keep comparing it to other places you’ve been, whether those places were better or worse in your own opinion.

This is my first blog post as an officially Canadian citizen, and if there’s anything I love about this country it’s the fact that becoming a Canadian citizen does not require you to hide your origins or forget your roots. And although some people are embarrassed of their origins and do “forget” where they come from, many Canadians don’t. They celebrate where they’re from, revive their cultures, and embrace their roots while beautifully assimilating to their new society. And this makes Canada the wonderful, one of a kind place it is. And this is what I’m gonna pass to my two boys Adam and Arkan: be proud of every drop of blood running through your veins, celebrate who you are, belong to here and there, love here and there, be loyal to here and there.
You might confuse your longing and nostalgia with the feeling of not belonging, you might feel lost and torn at times, but with time you’ll learn how blessed you are, how unique you are, and will learn to appreciate your life, enjoy your life, and love your life.

As for me, today I’m a proud Palestinian (by blood), proud Jordanian (by nationality),  proud Tunisian (by experience) and a proud Canadian (by nationality too).  And although I’ve been to many other places I loved so much and felt at home, but I feel these four countries have shaped who I am today the most, and hope to always represent a good example of all of them. As for being Canadian, well, so far I’m very proud of the outcome of the last elections, and can’t wait for the next elections to practice my right to vote 🙂 … and now, off to the kitchen where a very delicious maple pecan pie awaits me. 😀

September 11 2015

Bullying Parents into Accepting Ontario’s Updated Sex-Ed Curriculum

Latest update with regards to Ontario’s “new & improved” sex-ed curriculum is that the government will allow schools to force sex-ed on kids, according to Ontario’s Minister of Education that is.
Parents opposing the updated sex-ed took this as a stab in the back, after being promised to have the option of withdrawing their children from the sex-ed lessons. We were hoping that we’ll all agree to disagree and there will be some middle ground that will leave every one happy. Now not only don’t we have the right to say no, but we have a great chance of being forced to have our children learn what we’re opposing. Wynne’s reflecting the very “liberal” views of her party, and showing the world that parents’ rights, if they happen to disagree with her, are not applicable… so much for the “inclusion” she’s trying to force on our children, and a very strong lesson in “anti-bullying” and “accepting differences”!

This announcement came at the same time the news of the Polish government backing down on the explicit sex-ed as a response to the massive parent protests went viral, having people  around the world admire and respect the Polish government for listening to its citizens and caring about what they think and how they feel more than anything else.

And since parents against the new curriculum are being called all kinds of things, I believe I need to make a few things straight here:

  • Parents opposing the new sex-ed curriculum are very well educated, open minded & responsible, and have in fact read the whole curriculum, not just the manipulative parental guides to it.
  • Religion is not the only reason for the objection, many atheists and non-religious parents are saying no to the new sex-ed. It’s a matter of principle and morals.
  • Many Parents are not aware that sex-ed is already part of the old curriculum, and that homosexuality, disease control, contraceptives and much more are already being taught. So we’re not against awareness as long as age-appropriate, we’re against irresponsible, unnecessary explicit and age-inappropriate sex-ed which is the case in the updated sex-ed.
  • Aside from the fact that the whole ‘consultation prior implementation’ process was a huge scam, (I for one was here since 2010, and neither I, nor any single person I know was consulted), Parents are speaking up and taking a firm stand to show their objection through protests, rallies, strikes, polls, speeches, social media involvement, since 2010 until today; but Wynne doesn’t seem to be interested and continues to ignore, claiming that those are just a “minority”.
  • Claims of the new curriculum being based on scientific & psychological studies shattered when experts exposed its dangers and flaws (an interesting video about sex-ed in general is available here. And you can find the videos specifically discussing Ontario’s updated sex-ed on this website, just scroll down you’ll find a video of 3 parts).


This is a great website that wraps up all what I’m trying to share here, and provides videos & PDFs relevant to the subject.

I did share my point of view on the matter earlier, explaining why I was against the updated sex-ed curriculum, and I’m still against it. I still believe, that apart from the responsible, age-appropriate sex-ed, which children were receiving, it’s a very personal matter whether you want to expose your children to more or less awareness and sexual knowledge. I still believe a unified program that doesn’t respect diversity nor accommodates religious, cultural, or social values is a huge mistake. If this means calling me an unfit parent, then I proudly am.


September 4 2015

ألمانيا تساعد اللاجئين وتباً لكل من يصفق

تناقلت شبكات التواصل الإجتماعي الكثير من المقالات التي كانت بمثابة ردة فعل عنيفة -برأيي- على مشاركة فيديوهات تمدح ألمانيا وتطري على تعاملها مع اللاجئين السوريين، وبشكل عجيب غريب هوجم العديد من المدونين والمغردين على تويتر لمشاركتهم في مدح ألمانيا، معتبرين هذا إنتقاصاً من شأن الدول العربية التي سبقت ألمانيا وغيرها من دول الغرب في إحتضان ومساعدة اللاجئين.

أفهم بكل تأكيد، أن هناك كثر  “ما بعجبهم العجب ولا الصيام في رجب”، وعندهم حقد عجيب على كل ماهو عربي، حتى أنفسهم، وأفهم محاولات مواجهة هؤلاء  لإسكاتهم وإلزامهم حدود العرفان والإنتماء؛ ولكن أن نعتبر العديد من مثقفي العرب معقدين بعقدة “الغرب دوماً أفضل”، أو أنهم يمدحون بهدف “مسح الجوخ” أو الإنتقاص من شأن بلادهم العربية و جهودها، فهذا ما لا أستطيع استيعابه أبداً، وللأسباب التالية:

1. كل الفيديوهات كانت تشيد بما فعلت ألمانيا كسباقة لغيرها من دول أوروبا التي رفضتإستقبال اللاجئين وأغلقت حدودها في وجههم.  وكل التعليقات التي كانت مصاحبة لهذه المشاركات كانت موجهة لباقي الدول الأوروبية لتحذوا حذو ألمانيا.

2. مع أن متوسط دخل المواطن الألماني أعلى بكثير من نظيره العربي، ولكن أغلب المتطوعين في مساعدة اللاجئين هم من طلبة الجامعات الذين يعتمدون على أنفسهم في تأمين تكاليف التعليم، هذا عدا عن أن الموضوع لا يقاس بالماديات، فكثيرون لم تسمح ظروفهم المادية بتقديم أي دعم مادي، و اكتفوا بالتواجد والسمع لهموم اللاجئين، بدل أن يقفوا مكتوفي الأيدي.

3. ، الألمان  الذين إستقبلوا اللاجئين قاموا بذلك ضد إخوانهم الألمان الذين عارضوهم، وتحدوا أبناء عرقهم لمساعدة أناس من غير عرقهم، ولا دمهم، لا يتكلمون لغتهم، ولا يشاركونهم تقاليدهم ولا معتقداتهم، ليسوا أشقاءهم، ولا أقرباءهم،  فنعم الإفتخار بتصرف ألمانيا ليس عيباً ولا مبالغة.

4. هناك فرق شاسع بين التمجيد والإشادة، والإشادة بتصرفات شعب في موضوع معين، لا تعني  أبداً تمجيدها وسياستها كدولة في كل المواضيع، ولا تعني عدم الإنتماء لبلادنا الأم، أو احتقارنا لعروبتنا.

وفي النهاية، إستقبال ومساعدة اللاجئين _في أي مكان في العالم_ هما بداية مشوار طويل في الإغاثة والإحتضان، المهم الاستمرارية في تأمين بيئة كريمة تحترم فيها إنسانية اللاجئ، وتوفر له سبل العيش الكريم دون “تحميل جمايل” ودون تذكيره بمأساته أو إشعاره أنه نكرة أو عبء أو أقل مستوى من غيره.

آملين أن يفرج الله كرب كل لاجئ أياً كان أصله، وأن يسهل على اخواننا السوريين وأن ينتهي هذا الكابوس الذي يعيشونه.

September 1 2015

Claiming Back Childhood

I’m in love with this ad by GoRVing.ca , it touches me as a parent, because I believe, today’s children lack the one basic thing that should label them as children: their own space.
Parents, myself included, are failing horribly at giving our children the amount of freedom we were given by our parents when we were their age. We’re overprotective, too scared, very worried and paranoid that we have them under constant surveillance. It’s like we keep them in one huge transparent bubble, we allow them to look through it, go crazy in it, as long as we’re sure they wont burst out of it, not “so soon” at least.

To be fair to parents, I completely understand where this paranoia comes from, we’re living in an insane horrible world; what I don’t understand though is: how did we reach this point? and why, despite all efforts, why are things getting only worse?

I am trying, really really hard, to give my boys their own space, their own time, some freedom here and there, but I do know, that I need to do much more to let them experience real wild childhood, the one their dad and mom enjoyed when they were kids.

May 12 2015

Scary Coconuts

A few days ago I went grocery shopping, and when I reached the ‘fresh produce’ section I found lovely small coconuts on display, I approached the stand and the sight of them took me years back to a Sunday morning, in Germany, in a small summer fair I went to with a bunch of friends. That was the first time I ever tasted fresh coconut in my life. I remember the stand, the young man standing behind his beautifully displayed freshly cut coconuts, and the small fountain of coconut water beside them. And I definitely remember my first bite; the texture, the taste. I loved everything about fresh coconuts, I got a few pieces and snacked on them while walking.

Until that moment I only had dried shredded coconuts , which I’m not a huge fan of to be honest; I’d eat a bar of chocolate with dried coconut, some yummy Arabic desserts with it as an ingredient, but I’m not that much into it.
But I’m known for my obsession with coconut oil, not for cooking though, for beauty purposes. I find it to be a perfect skin moisturizer,  hair mask, body scrub, lip balm… I use it alone or get creative mixing it with other natural ingredients and it always works beautifully.

Anyway, back to the grocery shop… I held a coconut in my hands and thought to myself: “why the hell don’t I buy these regularly?”, and few minutes later I was holding it  inside my kitchen. I put it on the table, as if it was a beautiful centerpiece, couldn’t stop looking at it proudly, happily, lovingly… and then it hit me, I never bought a coconut in the shell before, how would I open it?
I know this might seem like a silly question to someone who’s used to buying whole coconuts, but believe me, I had no clue. So I did what I do best in such embarrassing situations, I turned to google.
After watching a selection of videos and reading a bunch of articles on how to “easily open a coconut”, I went back to the kitchen, had my gloves on, a pair of glasses (to protect my eyes from any flying bits as one video suggested), a hammer in my hand, I centered the coconut on the counter, and held my arms up high, which felt more like shooting  a crime scene from a twisted movie rather than an attempt at opening a coconut, but well, google knows best, right! so I gave it the first hit, a gentle one, and God! those coconuts are hard,  I mean rock-hard! My next step was supposed to be a harder hit, but instead, I chickened out, I got so scared, I mean,  what if I hit it and it bounced back hitting me in the head, what if I fell unconscious, I know this is how a child should think , but I couldn’t handle it, I gave up. and waited for my husband to deal with it.
My husband came home from work, he was excited to see a coconut in our kitchen, probably thought I was an expert and would prepare it in minutes for us to feast on, but I told him the ugly truth, he told me his ugly truth, that he never did it before either, but luckily he wasn’t a coward like me, he took the hammer and hit it, repeatedly… but he too gave up when he saw that absolutely NOTHING happened to the coconut. So, we sighed, left it there, disappointed and embarrassed (as our elder son was watching us fail).
I decided I’m never buying whole coconuts ever again, I’ll have to search for shops that sell it cut into slices and ready to eat.

The next morning we woke up to a lovely surprise: a  crack along the shell, my son was so excited, he woke up his dad to the news, all it took was one last hit, and the coconut was finally open, we de-meated it and enjoyed it together… well, I believe Adam didn’t like it that much, it was “too chewy” for his taste, but I certainly loved every bite of it.
Will I ever buy whole coconuts again? I might, only if my husband was ready for the work, because I’m definitely not gonna try opening them, ever, in my life.

April 5 2015

Sahlab is NOT Israeli

After attempts to label Falafel, Hummus, Baba Ghanouj and many other Arab dishes as Israeli, Israelis are now trying to represent Sahlab (also called Salep in Turkey, and Saloop in England) as an Israeli alternative to hot chocolate!!

This provocative claim has been circulating for a while on many websites and social media portals,  a lot of Israelis are trying to take credit for creating this delicious warm beverage, denying that it’s originally Arab. On the other hand, other Israelis are trying to be a bit manipulative, saying that Sahlab might be Arab, but there is a “variation”of it, aka “Sachlav”, that is created and served only in Israel.
Now the funny part is, that this variation of the Arab drink is not a variation at all, it’s exactly  the same ingredients, made the exact same way, served exactly as the Arab drink is served, making it an imitation, not a variation, and coming up with a Hebrew name so it sounds more Israeli doesn’t make it Israeli… and definitely not Jewish.

Which brings me to a very important point here: “Jewish Food”. Judaism is a religion, which, as a Muslim, I believe in, and respect, it’s not a nationality; you can be any nationality and still be Jewish. Arab Jews lived in the Middle East and North Africa for decades, in peace and harmony, and of course they cooked the food of the country and region they lived in. Whether couscous, falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj, or whatever, it was the food of that culture, cooked by Jews, Muslims and Christians of that culture, long before the state of Israel was even created.
And just like an Italian Jew serving Lasagna (or their “own version” of it) in Israel can’t claim Lasagna is Jewish nor Israeli, an Arab Jew can certainly not call Sahlab, Falafel, Hummus or Couscous or whatever food/beverage they cook or serve in Israel Jewish nor Israeli… it’s as simple as that.

Bottom line is: “Sachlav” is a desperate attempt at stealing away what’s Arab, and only Arab, it’s not Israeli, and it certainly is not Israeli & Arab as some are trying to promote, it’s just ARAB, live with it… and go create your own original beverage, be creative for a change!

We’re used to Israelis trying to steal our cultural heritage and yummy cuisine, but for international websites and news websites to publish articles advertising these lies without proper research!!!! well, it’s unprofessional, irresponsible and unfair. Shame on you!
Here’s a beautifully written piece commenting on this Sahlab vs. Sachlav controversy.

All this talking about Sahlab made me crave a cup of it, if you do too, here’s how to make it:

March 15 2015

“عجايزنا” و”عجايزهم”

في عالمنا العربي تنتقد المرأة التي دخلت مرحلة الشيخوخة إذا فكرت بتصفيف شعرها، أو الاشتراك في ناد للرياضة ، أو  تعلم مهارة جديدة او حتى ممارسة هواية خاصة… فهذا عيب وذاك حرام وهذا غير لائق؛ هي الآن هدفها في الحياة مجالسة الأحفاد، تنظيف المنزل وملء البطون… وانتظار عزرائيل.
ناهيك عن وابل الأمثال المهينة والمحبطةالتي تنهال على مسامعها لتذكيرها ب”وضعها ” وبتخلف من حولها : ”بعد ما شاب ودوه الكتاب”، “بعد الكبرة جبة حمرة” ، ” رجلك والقبر” وغيرها.
انا مع المحافظة على العادات والتقاليد ولكن علينا ان نعترف بأن مجتمعنا يزيدها كثيرا ويستكثر على المرأة أن تكون ما تشاء أن تكون، حتى ضمن أطر مقبولة أخلاقياً ومنطقياً، قامعا روحها وعقلها، ونحن وبلا فخر، نعزز هذا الفكر المتسلط دافنين نصف مجتمعنا في بئر من المحرمات. بينما وفي ذات الوقت، يدعم الغرب سيداته، حتى وهن على مشارف الموت، لأنه على يقين، بأن دعم سيدة ولو على تصرف قد لا ترجى أي فائدة منه غير التسلية قد يشعل شمعة الأمل لدى الكثيرات ويبعث روح المغامرة داخل كل أنثى لتتحدى المستحيل والمعقول، ومن هنا، تتحدى نفسها وتبدع في كل المجالات، ومن هنا تخلق الأجيال القوية الطامحة، ومن هنا تولد المجتمعات المتميزة التي لاتقهر.
ويكفي أن يكون إسمك “إليزابيث” بدلاً من “منيرة” لتتحولي من مجرد مشاهدة لهذا الفيديو إلى بطلته.