Support Your Friends Who Have Allergy Struggles

Does anyone in your family have severe allergies? Do they have a chronic illness? Are they very young or very old? Are they currently in the hospital? Living a life at high risk at this time is difficult, even worse is if you live daily with allergy struggles.

Chances are then that you will be fairly familiar with most of the safety precautions in place for avoiding compromising the respiratory system of all, but particularly those in the high-risk category.  With the exception of mask-wearing, except in hospital situations, this is an everyday experience and necessity for all who experience chronic illness daily.

My children have regularly played our made-up game “When do we wash our hands?”:

  1. When we enter the house
  2. Before we eat
  3. After we finish eating
  4. After we finish in the bathroom
  5. After playing with our pets
  6. After playing outside or inside
  7. If we rub our eyes
  8. If we touch our face
  9. If we have not washed our hands in the last 2 hours.
  10. …. oops, I will stop now!

At our house, we display signs to remind everyone of the most important times to wash our hands. To make it easier for our children we regularly find new and fun ways to wash our hands and keep kids’ hands under the water until they are actually washed not put under the water to claim “clean”.

Our most recent ideas are:

  1. Sing the song to wash your hands in Mandarin ( ),
  2. Sing the song to wash your hands in Arabic (  ) ,
  3. Say any alphabet through twice (English then Arabic works well), or
  4. count backwards in any language from 100.

Even visitors are asked to please remove their shoes and wash their hands before entering our house, partly Arab tradition and partly an attempt at ensuring no allergens enter our home.  Many people find it difficult to comprehend just how much strain living with this level of safety precautions really is. And… we have not even left the safety of our home yet.


Leaving home requires ensuring that the emergency first aid kit is packed and anaphylaxis/allergy bracelets are attached to the relevant children. A clearly labelled letter from their doctor is in their pocket or backpack indicating the procedures required to face an emergency and the medication on them that is required if by some chance of fate they are separated from me.

Our allergies ensure that we question and re-question if we really need to go to the hospital or can we go to the doctor?” Or “Do we need to go to the doctors’ surgery or could we ring and get them to prepare the script for the current medication refill and send someone else to collect it and take it to the pharmacy.” Sick people are in hospital and doctor surgery waiting rooms! We do not want to take a child with a compromised respiratory system anywhere near sick people if we can avoid it. A trip to doctors always involves a call ahead and an appointment to minimize the extent of time we need to be sitting near sick people. Most times we are called from a seat outside to come and see the doctor.

I am aware that this is not the normal situation that everyone else negotiates – and it is a struggle! It is very scary, all the things you have to remember even before you get to “Wear your Mask and gloves if you need to make essential trips outside”.

Every person with a chronically ill family member, friend, or neighbour is very grateful for your kindness. We are very grateful that even though you are not in an at-risk category you choose to keep wearing your mask, and to only leave the house for essential trips.


Thank you…

  • Thank you for washing your hands

  • Thank you for wearing your mask

  • Thank you for staying inside and making only essential trips

 But mostly, Thank you for caring for your neighbors.


Unusual Times Call for More Mental Health Awareness

In these unusual times most of us are learning to maintain friendships from a distance, creating new ways to feel connected, and developing new skills to create new connections.  Many new online book clubs, online recipe exchange clubs, and places to share patterns and crafting projects have begun. Our mental health awareness needs to go above and beyond.

“True friends are always together in spirit.”
– Anne of Green Gables, L M Montgomery.

Let’s be honest we are mostly creatures of habit and our favorite things to discuss, and do, bring us comfort when we have no control over the world around us. My this week’s excitement is finding friends to share my love of crochet and languages.  Outside of my obsession with books, my favorite pastime and entertainment is, well, discovering new languages and crochet. Sometimes both work together when the patterns are written in Japanese for amigurumi toys (Japanese cartoon characters recreated as crocheted toys).

Unfortunately, for some people this situation, pandemic, we are thrust into the midst of – without notice, with no warning, brings forth a far darker challenge. With this forced isolation, cutoff from their usual routines, attempting to fight off “the depths of despair”, they are faced with loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

Daily life as we know it has become chaos for the largest part, but most of us can readjust reasonably well – finding a new order and adding in the new routines for safety and hygiene (wearing masks and washing hands).

However, if you need a fixed, unchanging routine to keep you grounded in reality and hold order to reduce the stress and potential panic a major disruption causes, this does not bode well for you. (I don’t ever do well without my morning schedule).

Mental Health Awareness is much more …

mental health awareness

If you are used to getting to the gym or swimming for morning exercise, I was advised walking in the sunshine is a great alternative. This can actually be done as a walk around your kitchen table for 30minutes with the sun streaming in the window, walking around your balcony or down the hallway.

It will give you the same boost to your morning with an adjustment to your routine not a major change or needing to drop it totally. Have you got some favorite music you always wanted to blast out while you were exercising but were never quite game? Today’s the day to make this walking game fun!

Statistics in Australia as discussed by Beyond Blue ( show that 1 in 16 people are experiencing depression right now.  Have you checked in with your friends you have not heard from much lately?

Did you call your neighbors and ask, “how are you doing?”.


10th September: is Suicide Awareness and “R U Ok?” Day!

In their lifetime approximately 1 in 7 people will experience an episode of Depression, and 1 in 4 Australians will experience Anxiety.  The statistics given by Beyond Blue show that in 2018, 3000 Australians lost their lives to suicide.

That is approximately 8 deaths a day. Fortunately, figures are also beginning to indicate that many more people are seeking assistance when they have Mental Health troubles, be it with Depression, Anxiety or something else. Approximately half of these people will continue on to formal treatments.

October 2020 – Mental Health Awareness Month

In Australia, October is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health Awareness Day occurs on 10 October this year. Across Australia various Mental Health Awareness Campaigns are being run on the theme of “Tune In”. The focus is on being present, being aware.  “Strengthening our Community” #strongertogether.

How do we show our support?

  1. Talk about Mental Health
  2. Make the time to ask how the person is
  3. Find out if they need more assistance than you can provide and would like help contacting a professional.
  4. In Australia, if they are in immediate danger call 000 for Emergency Services. (In the USA call 911)

Here are 20 ways that you can take better care of yourself every single day.


School at Home Should Be at Your Pace – Rest & Create

In the midst of all the turmoil in the world it is very important to take the time to rest and let ourselves be.  Especially, if like me you are suddenly involved with another four hours a day in study time for children, where you have to school at home.

“You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, TRUST, let go and see what happens!”

– Mandy Hale

In my case, in a language I do not speak or read at an academic level – it has been an interesting and occasionally stress-filled school at home time.  Needless to say, I am learning many tricks to translate all the data to English, learn the lessons in English and then once we understand the details of the lesson we are translating back to our target learning language to answer all the questions and send the corresponding answers back to my children’s teachers for marking.

We have a very large case of “Perfectionist, please meet your children”. Not one of them will operate on a schedule.  Not one of them ever managed to follow any plan that I worked on for hours, planned and researched till I was exhausted, and was enthusiastic to implement during our school at home time.

“What do you do?” I hear you ask…. Well, panic and mayhem were the order of the day for a long time. Until I learnt a valuable lesson…

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year in conversation” – Plato

I had taken the fun out of learning with my scheduling and research. In my panic over the possibility of missing something, I had failed to recognize, I had left nothing to chance. No space for investigations.  No space for thought without an outcome already being known. No space for play.

Find New Ways to Learn

My having missed the mark significantly was summed up neatly whilst learning about volcanoes, when my daughter says, “Mum, we have talked about this till there is nothing to talk about, drawn about it till there is nothing more to draw, when do we get to make the volcano?”

Right, make the volcano… make a mess in my kitchen… for me to clean up mess-in-my-kitchen… eek…. I am thinking “How about, Never! Never works for me!’ Then my daughter pipes up again, “I saw this baking soda with vinegar experiment that they did, online.  The mum made the volcano down her kitchen drain because it is really good for cleaning out the drain.  Then you just turn on the cold water tap and it all washes down the drain to clean it! Wouldn’t that be neat?”  Wait a minute…. Clean my kitchen drain with a science experiment about a volcano…. I can get on board with that!  “Please tell me more?”

This was how I learnt that over scheduling, over planning and over stressing were taking the joy out of learning. I needed to step back and “make a time” as opposed to “make time”.  Here was where I had to prove to myself and my children that we were worth more than adherence to a schedule that was making everyone frazzled. It was time for a rest!:

Time to make muffins and declare it “all school work complete for the day”.

We covered maths (measuring ingredients), science (Learning about oven temperatures and how ingredients mix together),  literacy (reading the recipe) and geography (where did the food come from?). Oh, and don’t forget the tea, hot chocolate and candle for the table when the muffins are ready to eat!!!

Let me leave you with this quote:

“Have regular hours for work and play.

Make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well”

– Louisa May Alcott


Complete Guide to Homeschooling – 50+ Websites, Apps and Learning Resources

Are you schooling from home or your schools are closed? Here are fun and additional ways you can help your child build their education and supplement their growth and learning.


Have you joined your local library online?

You can sign up online for e-books and audiobooks free!!

Welcome to our new Adventure!

from a Worldschooling / Gameschooling mother!

“Learning while Laughing”

I like to share my family’s learning adventures! There is only one aim: The best learning happens when you are having fun! So, are you ready to come “adventuring” with me! You are now the official “Leader of the Mischief”. Wait! Stop! That was supposed to say “Homeschool Teacher” but it’s tea time so….

Have you joined the online library yet?

You can get e-books, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers online through your library!


Listening to Audibooks whilst playing Lego, making craft, or playing puzzles.

Audiobook suggestions:

Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne

  • A Bear called Paddington – Michael Bond
  • Alice in Wonderland by C S Lewis
  • Ronald Dahl reading his story stories : Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Julia Donaldson – we love all her books – The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom

Making Origami paper planes – Did you know it is actually an international sport for predominately Engineers and Mathematicians.

PBS kids in USA has lots of fabulous mini documentary cartoon style learning programs.

For extra ideas google homeschooling ideas for “Preschool with Netflix”.

ABC4kids in Australia likewise – tv, online, or app

Learning with arts and crafts:

“DLTK’s Crafts for Kids features a variety of printable children’s crafts, coloring pages, worksheets and activities including projects for holidays, educational themes and some of our children’s favorite cartoon characters.”

Easy Origami for instructions for kids.

Grades K – 2:

Educational games and apps for kids grade K-5

Specializes in Reading, writing, maths and phonics.

Grades 3+

Explore cell structure, cell function, scientific studies, plants, vertebrates, invertebrates and other scientific topics.
Explore Periodic Table Basics, States of Matter, Structure of Atoms, Changes in Matter, Chemical and Physical Changes, Solids, Enzymes, Solutions and other science topics.

Explore astronomy, space exploration, and science topics.

Explore the earth sciences that includes topics on the Earth’s structure, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere, and other science topics.

Their mission is to provide a free world class education to anyone worldwide.

Explore motion, heat and thermodynamics, electricity & magnetism, light, modern physics and other science topics.

Brain works – Neuroscience for kids


Educational programs videos / documentaries
(Available on YouTube)

Scishow kids (

Science explained in short documentaries.

Also for older kids 12+ checkout Scishow (confirm content suitable for your child first)

Crash Course kids – STEM resources (–3Tu2Ed)

Also for older kids 12+ checkout Crash Course (confirm content suitable for your child first)

Dinosaur Train – Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs. (

Ready Get Go! – About space, astronomy (

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – teaching mindfulness (

Super Why! – Learning about letters, words and how they work (

Wild Kratts – Wildlife rangers (

Tinga Tinga Tales from Africa – short video documentaries in colorful animated African designed (

Languages Learning


Adam wa Mishmish – cute songs to learn (

Learn the Arabic Alphabet

( )

Learn Arabic numbers


Ahlan Simsim – Arabic Sesame Street



For French Immersion


A cup of French:


Animals ( )


Lessons for Japanese but you can choose from 28 different languages to start.

( )


Miss Panda’s ‘Playful Chinese Podcasts’

( )

Miss Panda’s Chinese playground – stories read in Mandarin Chinese


Sesame Street in Mandarin


Online or Apps to Use:

Duolingo – Learn many different languages online or in their app

Learn languages online or ap

App – Chineseskill – Learn Mandarin Chinese


Chemistry Periodic Table App

( )

Maths Tricks App

( )

Other Services

Since many kids are/will be home from school, sharing an awesome list of ideas from a parent who homeschools.

Online resources:
– BrainPop
– Curiosity Stream
– Tynker
– Outschool
– Udemy
– iReady
– Beast Academy (Math)
– Khan Academy
– Creative Bug
– Discovery Education

YouTube Channels:
– Crash Course Kids
– Science Channel
– SciShow Kids
– National Geographic Kids
– Free School
– Geography Focus
– TheBrainScoop
– SciShow
– Kids Learning Tube
– Geeek Gurl Diaries
– Mike Likes Science
– Science Max
– SoulPancake

Lots of board games, library books (and Kindle), tinkering/upcycling with household junk, etc.
Some resources to help with kids at home:

*Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities.

*Pretend to travel the world..Go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums.

*This is the awesome free curriculum that we use. Everything from preschool activities to 12th grade is here!

*List of thinking games by grade:

*More awesome free learning websites that we like to use*

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think may benefit from this.

Let's Talk About Making Study Time Fun!

Let’s Talk About Making Study Time Fun!

Making study time fun! The holy grail of all parents. To make children enjoy the time they are missing out on their play and video games.

“The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky”. – Jane Goodall

It’s back to school time in Australia! If you are anything like me in the midst of the excitement surrounding all the new school adventures my children are about to embark on this year is the ever present quiet pleas I am silently making to my children’s teachers for “useful homework please!”

Does your school give homework?

At our school the Junior Primary years (grades K – 2) have a set of sheets delivered on Monday for 4 nights of 30minutes homework and 15 minutes read aloud of their home reader each day, and all to be returned on Friday morning into the teacher’s homework box for marking. The teacher requests the spelling words to be written out each night. Also no longer than 30 minutes of time should be spent each night completing the sheets. If it takes longer the teacher needs to be advised.

Upper Primary (grades 3 – 6) are given sheets designated to Monday-Thursday which directly reflect and reiterate the weeks learning and are to be returned to the teacher’s homework box Friday morning.

Again spelling is written out using read, cover, write technique. Teachers’ advise that no more than 45minutes to an hour should be spent on the written sheets each night or please speak with the teacher. And again 15 minutes of read aloud time either of the designated home reader or the child’s own school library book.

Not this….

My kids usual approach to homework used to involve procrastination, getting upset and throwing a tantrum when I asked was their homework complete, procrastinating some more, and then… running around at the last minute in a total panic to complete it before bedtime. Topped off with a promise that it wouldn’t happen again tomorrow, and inevitably tomorrow arrived with a repeat of today’s homework events.

Simply the word “homework” used to invoke chaos and pandemonium even before a book, paper and pencil were involved in the equation. Add a dyslexia diagnosis and afternoons became simply stress central.

Making study time fun!

Definitely this… Afternoon Study Time!

How is this different from “homework” you ask?

  1. We no longer use the word “Homework”! The idea of homework is associated with stress, anxiety and panic. No more of that!
  2. Kids returning from school I asked for the schoolbags to be put in the kitchen next to the kitchen table.
  3. The same kitchen table… the same work to be done, but… I made some major changes in my attitude. My attitude needed to reflect I was joyful and ready to learn.
  4. I needed resources that brought joy to use only for “Study Time”. I bought a set of artists pencils for drawing and coloring, colored art liner markers for headings and outlines, and also a new lead pencil, eraser and notebook for each child.
  5. At the old “Time for Homework” I call “Anyone for hot chocolate or tea?” and all three kids come running. I already have the afternoon tea snacks (sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, mini chicken nuggets, crackers and cheese) set in the middle of the table. I take orders for drinks and then ask them to get their books and study sheets from their bags and put them on the table. Then we all sat down together in the cubby house I made under the table with the snacks, hot chocolate and tea. Much giggling followed. Amazing difference!
  6. I now have a different read aloud book that I can read or add an audiobook as we start afternoon tea. We started with “A Bear called Paddington”.
  7. After “A Bear called Paddington” we read our school read alouds. Taking time to listen to each other. Very positive start! Variety in books is the key to making study time fun.
  8. When it came to the writing we sat up to the table and I produced new colours to share and new pencils for our new “Study box”. Everyone was excited to start! All the daily sheets completed, including spelling and sentences with little fuss.

Study Time is fun!!

I learnt the level of struggles are all related to my attitude to homework! Make learning enjoyable for everyone!

Grab our book that helps kids build confidence and good decision making skills.

My Kid Never Talked About Their Day ... Till This Happened

My Kid Never Talked About Their Day … Till This Happened

I finally learnt my lesson, don’t say “What did you do in school today?” because the answer is always “Nothing!” ( How in the world to you get kids to talk? )

Standing excitedly waiting for your child to return from school to hear, “Nothing!” yet again. Somewhat taken aback by this answer I would question, “How can you learn nothing at school? You have been there for 7 hours! Surely you learnt something?” Response, “No, nothing!”

Further attempts at alternative questions resulted in me standing, staring after my child running out to play, apple in hand, calling a sibling, “Let’s go play in the garden!”

Still no updates on “Nothing!”

“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support” – Kate Middleton

There did not appear to be in a thing I could do to entice any extra information free. So, an extremely confused me was left to just walk away hoping all was ok. Continually, I heard my mum, friends and various counselors in the children’s health field reiterate the extreme importance of talking about your child’s day at school. Discussions on how to start conversations, and how to word questions were readily addressed, adapted and re-discussed. The problem was all my children respond to all of the above with an eye roll and answer “Nothing!” or a variation thereof.

The response of my children’s teachers and my friends to my, “How do you get your child to talk about their school day because mine will not talk about their day?” was met with “Let me see if I can get a conversation happening!” I’m not sure whether I was relieved or not when neither they, nor the school counselor, had any success either. The teachers did advise though that they were unaware of any issues directly affecting our children.

All I could think about though was the note on the bottom of the school newsletter that kept saying, “This is a bullying free zone! Keep open communication with your children!”

This is where I decided to revert to the age-old rule … when all else fails, “Ask Mum!”

In the interests of my child’s mental health, I ask my parents how to get kids to talk.

They just started laughing. (Keeping in mind I grew up on a working farm with horses, cattle, dogs, and chickens) They said, “You didn’t!” Dad’s further response was, “I got you to catch a horse and check a mob of cattle. At the end of the exercise you had so many things to talk about, you wouldn’t be quiet!” Mum said, “I sent you to feed the chickens, and feed the dogs, and somewhere along the way you came back with the stories of your day!”

“Ok, well how do I get my kids to talk? The teacher/ school says we stop bullying happening when we keep in touch with our children. That’s not much use if they avoid all attempts at the ‘what did you do at school today’ discussion?” Mum said, “ By the end of the school day you wanted a snack and attacked anyone who asked a question! Be grateful the answer was ‘Nothing!’ You said something along the lines of ‘don’t talk to me’.”

Looking to my mum, I said “… but, what do I do?” Her answer was to deliver breakfast in bed before school and ask if they need help packing their school bags. Something slowly dawned on me, and I said, “Aah, tea and toast in bed when you knew I didn’t want to go to school!”

Tricky but effective!

“Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind” – Nelson Mandela

How do I apply this lesson for my kids:

  1. We made a small vegetable patch in our garden. We can work together and have fresh herbs and vegetables for our dinner.
  2. Backyard soccer – just for fun!
  3. Homework time is always preceded by hot chocolate, tea and snacks so everyone can have a chat about their day and catch up before the business of study.
  4. We have a “Family Group Hug”. If anyone is feeling sad, tired or needs some support they can call “Group Hug” and end up the center of family squish! Source of much laughter and a message to make time for talking one on one.
  5. Cartoons: Everyone is required to like my choice of cartoon eg. Tom & Jerry, and Snoopy. (My husband likes Oscar, he is a gecko running around in the desert) Everyone is required to agree to the interruption of all regularly scheduled programs to pay attention to my cartoons! Interrupting homework, dinner, tv time, waking up early for picnic breakfast and cartoons on a school morning… but it makes for unscheduled conversations. It introduces different topics to discussion and helps me know what’s happening in my kids’ world away from home.

So, our solution is a little unconventional, but it works for us. We try and work on a communication strategy that revolves around: Stop! Think! Speak!

(My kids initials are S, T, S).

Help Your Kids Build Confidence with Our Award Winning Book

Simple Travel Tips You Often Forget to Use

Simple Travel Tips You Often Forget to Use

Traveling with children can really be lots of fun. Even in the midst of unexpected emergencies and   I am here to tell the tale!

The reality is, I am an anxious travel companion. I will own this!  I now have three children and a husband to travel with and I pack for myself and kids, and he packs his bag.

When my daughter was born I admit to the packing three times the necessary items and using none of them except the baby bag items.

Breaking down on the side of the road going to visit my parents in  the country

  • 1.5hours from a phone reception
  • On my own with two small children (4.5months and nearly 3years old).
  • It was dusk at the beginning of winter.
  • The road had limited traffic (maybe 2 cars an hour)

changed my thinking about packing.  Again we only used our working bags, emergency blankets and food stash.

So, whilst living in Australia flying to Kuwait to meet family we unexpectedly spent 26 hours at Abu Dhabi airport caught by a sand storm.  Both grandmothers were close to frantic but I can honestly say the only panic I had was at hour 19 when I went to see how much longer they expected all planes to be grounded and the lady at the counter said “I need you to bring your children to the counter please!” I can remember looking at her incredulously and saying “They are both sound asleep. Are you serious?” Her kind response of, “I do apologize but yes please.”  They had organized accommodations away from the airport before our flight arrived but as we were delayed they had been unable to even send us anywhere by bus as the sandstorm hit early.  They had kindly organized dinner, breakfast, and showering facilities for all families with children.

After my previous experience I had already worked out my contingency plan for emergencies.

  1. Clear packing tape – can be used to fix just about anything. Eg. Hems, shoes, bags, broken car windows, or making kids craft.
  2. Pencil and eraser – sometimes pens just don’t work in ice cold weather.
  3. Notepaper – I find a kids 64page exercise book is great. You can take notes, keep details, rip out pages for kids to draw on or make origami during long delays.
  4. A spare long scarf. It folds up easily or tie it around your waste. Uses: As a mat for the floor, light blanket, bandage, sling, or a towel if necessary
  5. Small light towel
  6. Torch
  7. Watch – phones are great but you don’t want to miss a flight because your battery went flat or the time zone did not adjust.
  8. Hand luggage – pack all the above plus basic essentials for each person: two days clothes/underwear, toothbrush, hand cream, mini hand sanitizer, baby wipes, mini shampoo and conditioner.
  9. Medication – I like one set in my hand bag and one in my luggage (just in case). ( Dont forget medical certificates in duplicate from the doctor too).
  10. Snacks that your kids will eat. Sometimes especially with fussy eaters or allergies it is hard to find food kids like to eat.

I like to travel as lightly as possible. I think I have all possibilities now covered!

Simple Travel Tips

Enjoy your trip!


Helping Kids Do Homework in a Language Not Your Own

“Why has it been accepted as gospel for so long that homework is necessary? The answer, I think, lies not in the perceive virtues of homework but rather in the clear deficiencies of what happens in the classroom. Homework becomes necessary because not enough learning happens during the school day… The broadcast, one-pace-fits-all lecture… turns out to be a highly inefficient way to teach and learn.”

Salman Khan, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

Homework…. Whether you agree it is a useful tool for setting up good habits for your children’s future education and work ethics, or subscribe to the “afternoons should be for play” school of thought most of us end up with afternoon homework supervision of some sort or another. Reading books with kids… that is my favourite kind of homework, but I digress!

Now let us take this one-step further. What happens when the homework is in a language that you do not fully understand or your children are studying at a level you cannot yourself comprehend? This is regularly my dilemma.


Let the games begin! Literally! Our children attending bilingual school was pretty much a given because whilst we lived in Australia my husband’s entire overseas family speak only Arabic. When the first homework arrived home during our first week of our first year of school, identical sets in English and Arabic, I was so excited. We were learning:

[English: A a is for apple ] and 25 more letters
[Arabic: أ (a) is forأسد (asad) which means lion] and 27 more letters
We made extra cards and played games of match, fish, snap and anything else I could think of. We made a larger set to have an Arabic and English word wall. Everyone was having lots of fun /learning whilst laughing’. We decided that if “making it fun, got it done” then that is how we would approach our whole school journey.

Aim: Our children will speak to their grandmothers in their own language.

Six years on, we have changed sides of the globe and we now are in a majority language Arabic and minority language (second language at school) English situation. Catch, whilst we learnt Arabic for six years in Australia and studied determinedly… our academic vocabulary is limited and the set of words learnt from a textbook for Arabic speaking children in an English speaking country is very different from the set of words needed to survive in an academic environment.

To compound our issue, my older two children, grade 4 and 8, surpassed my knowledge in Arabic about two years ago and our youngest just started grade 1. Whilst I try very hard every day to be of assistance, I really struggle. Luckily, their dad is an Arabic/English teacher so it takes him very little time to keep us all on track.

But, how do you help your kids when you realize the academic vocabulary you carefully organized for them, and the study you insisted on every single day is actually a whole other vocabulary than used in an Arabic culture setting. Even the fruits and vegetables you eat have a different set of names. Add in dialect and hey, I am ready to throw in the towel some days.

I have learnt to insist my husband gives a very clear set of instructions by page number in study to be covered. We approach much of our learning as you would a university textbook:

Helping Kids Do Homework in a Language Not Your Own

  1. Copy the introduction to the topic/summary into your notebook and translate (or write in own words)
  2. Find the key words in the introduction and underline in the chapter.
  3. Now with a better understanding of the work we are trying to complete…
  4. Read the introduction and notes of ‘what is covered in the topic’.
  5. Translate to English as required. (or change unknown words on the page to known words)
  6. Read the conclusion (if there is one) and translate
  7. Read the chapter questions and translate
  8. Now we are ready to investigate the rest of the words in the chapter. (My children are able to read them and understand about half of the words but with careful preparation, much of the rest is comprehensible – with a bit of dictionary assistance.)


Help Raise Confident Kids who are Culturally Sensitive


Your Sensitive Child at School and Their Anxiety

Your Sensitive Child at School and Their Anxiety

Some thoughts from an anxious child:

Standing constantly on the edge of a crowd looking in. Slowly counting down the minutes before escape is an option. Questioning have enough people seen me that it is now ok to leave without causing offense?

Sitting in class excitedly thinking, “Yes! Yes! Miss I know this one? pick me! Please pick me!” Now it’s my turn to answer and all I can manage is…. “Yeah, um… what was the question again please? Oh um! Yes,th… th a… “ Tripping over the words as I excitedly try to explain  myself, feeling more and more embarrassed by the minute.  If only the floor would only open for my quick decent! And my teacher moves on….

Did someone say “Exam”?… I was trying to avoid this one… which possibly, ok probably means, it needs special mention… Sitting silently amongst other students waiting for all of the instructions to be read, whilst starring with trepidation at the back of the exam paper face down on the desk! “15 minutes reading time starts now! You may turn over your paper.”, calls the head supervisor. Turning the exam paper over…. “Oh, no! Where are the words?” When your subconscious starts telling you “Breathe, you need to breathe!” as the star’s in from of your eyes slowly fade and you slowly stop shaking, you realise there is a teacher standing in front of you, handing you a glass of water, saying “Are you ok? Why aren’t you writing? You could start writing 15 minutes ago!” Looking from me to the paper she sees I am confused and shaking… she opens the booklet in the middle and says “Start here! Find the answer place in your answer book.”  Subconscious advises, “Oh, a task! We can do that… “!

Suggestions for successful negotiations in these situations:

1. Become familiar with the task at hand.

    1. Review possible scenarios and how you will handle them.
    2. Talk to your teacher about particular exam strategies.

2. Make your own in-a-pocket support system.

    1. A support for ‘anxiety and/or panic inducing situations’ creature in your pocket is helpful …. Here the choice is usually a tiny smurf!  A distraction for centering yourself.
    2. A pencil and small notebook for drawing.  In an exam ask if you can take a separate paper to draw on. Your teacher can check it or take it and bring you a spare.

3. A prepared speech.

    1. When you are worried you can hold your cards, even if you don’t need them, during your presentation.
    2. Prepare – practice, practice, practice!
    3. Visual your presentation – and your success (Even when you are worried! You can do this!)
    4. Vocus on a point above the audience’s head. It looks like you are talking to them but they are not in focus so you don’t have to register off-putting antics, even unintentional ones.

4. In class.

    1. A support creature – a kerokerokeroppi pen to pick up with the purpose of holding focus.
    2. Organising your desk in a way to support your thought processes.
    3. Have a scribble book or paper to draw extra explanation notes to the lesson notes on, or to squiggle on to help if you start to feel frazzled.

Think before you speak!

Practice till you are ready to tell your mother and elocution teacher – enough please!.  The mantra of the elocution teacher echoes still,

“Deep breathe! Sit up straight! Hands on the desk or in your lap! Now, answer the question!”

  • If you look-up speech exercises like:
    Repeating “red leather, yellow leather” clearly as many times as you can in one breathe.
  • Learning to say tongue twisters as fast as you can. Then as many times as you can in one breathe clearly.
  • I used to be terrified before presentations but “red leather, yellow leather” repeated in the bathroom 100 times before hand meant my speech never caught me out. My nerves had me shaking but my speech and shakes never showed  – but I had to practice!
  • Find a long piece of poetry to learn. I could recite “The Man From Snowy River” by A B “the Banjo” Paterson, all 4 pages of it. And I kept it learnt (I still know most of it) because… if you can visualise yourself not faltering, you won’t.

However, to get to that point you need to practice.

  • Practice conversations.
  • Pick a topic and get someone to throw questions at you that you have to answer.  Even asking multiplication tables fast (even if your child is 15).
  • The faster you can answer questions the less likely you will be caught off balance
  • Slowly you will learn to think on your feet.

Practice a beginning response to every question you will encounter:

  • Example:  What is today’s date? Start with the obvious. “Today’s date is…”
  • Another example: How many states does Australia have? “Australia has ….”

This way you know where you are starting, so usually you don’t need to fumble on the part of an answer or talk you wish to present.

Nerves are funny things – you can learn to use them to your advantage by centering yourself and concentrating on the words you already know.

The key to overcoming your anxiety in these situations is to role play the possibilities, and practice until you are confident you will succeed.

Articles I like:

Helping Your Dyslexic Child Learn The Arabic Alphabet

Helping Your Dyslexic Child Learn The Arabic Alphabet

(Note: Arabic reads Right-to-Left)

لأبجدية العربية( al’abjadiat alearabia).

The Letters and their Names:

There are 28 letter in the Arabic Alphabet. I like to learn them in four rows of seven letters.  Starting on the right.  Arabic writing begins on the right so it is a good idea to think this way for the letters. (I count on my fingers to seven then start again with each line so that if I miss a letter I can start the line again.)






















































































An Arabic Alphabet and various Arabic Numbers bookmarks can be found here :

Bookmarks for Summer learning

Steps to Learning Arabic Letters and their Names:

Add Music:

Learning the letter names is easier if you learn them in order.  The same shaped letters are all together so it is easier to learn know the difference if they are close together.

Movement and actions make it easier for small children to engage with their alphabet. So turn on your alphabet youtube alphabet clip of choice get up and move to the music

Count the letters on seven fingers before moving on to count another seven for lines 2, 3, and 4.  Learning a song pattern for the letters makes it much easier to remember their names.

Youtube clips we like listed here:

    • Adam Wa Mishmish آدم ومشمش – كرتون تعليمي عربي.

(2016, June 4)

. لأحرف الأبجدية مع آدم ومش The Alphabet in Arabic with Adam Wa Mishmish (S01E01). Retrieved from:

    • Osratouna tv – قناة أسرتنا.

(2017, October 1) Arabic alphabet song 3 – Alphabet arabe chanson 3 – 3 أنشودة الحروف العربية . Retrieved from:

Make a Word Wall:

When you are not in the process of directly teaching an alphabet having access to the letters and having them available to interact with helps facilitate the learning process.  In addition, if like me you have dyslexic learners in the house it means that they are less likely to forget the letters you have spent all day laboriously working upon.

You can buy an Arabic Alphabet ready made from your Arabic book store or download one from the internet.

I like this one I downloaded from here:  

Card games:

Find an Arabic Alphabet that prints at A4 size.  We just printed the word wall cards to a small enough size for our liking.

I totally adore these educational resources from Qamar Designs:  

  • We printed 4 copies and laminate them.

(Three in one colour and one in a different colour.)

    • One to put up on the wall
    • One to use as a find the letter chart
    • Two to cut up as two packs of cards (Tip: use two different colours. If you lose a card it is much easier to find which card you are looking for)
Card game ideas:

1. Play Match the Letters.

    • Turn all the cards over and find the two different coloured cards that have the same letter.

2. Snap (two packs of cards in two colours):

    • deal all the cards out equally to each person and then turn them over so no one can see their cards
    • the first person turns a card up in the middle and names their letter and the picture on the card, and then
    • the next person turns a card up and places it on top of the last card and reads the letter and the picture name, and
    • the next person turns their card onto the top of that card and repeats the process
    • when two cards in a row match you place your palm as fast as you can on the pile and call “snap”.
    • The person who says “snap” then need to name the letter and the word on the card and they can take the pile of cards.
    • The winner is the person who has all the cards when the game ends.

3. Go fishing for a letter (use two packs of cards in two colours)

    • Deal 5 cards to each player
    • Put the rest of the cards down in the middle to use for the “Letter Fishing” pile
    • The person to the right of the dealer starts.
    • They ask the person to their right if they have a particular card and name the letter and its picture.
      • If the person does: they give them the card and it is considered a match so they have another turn.
      • If the person has not got another card then they say “Go Letter Fishing” and the person collects a card from the centre pile.
      • Then it is the next person’s turn.
    • The person that ends up with the most number of letters matched is considered the winner.

Bonus Fish Simple Letter Matching Game:

I am told by my six year old and his three year old side-kick that we cannot learn an Arabic Alphabet without fish…. Anything for peace and quiet, whilst they are teaching themselves!

  • We printed 3 copies:
    • One to put fins and eyes on as they found the right letter.
    • Two to laminate. (one we cut the fish out to play matching the fish)

You can download your free copy here:

Usually accompanied by Adam wa Mishmish –  Under the Sea song from YouTube. You can find it here:


    • I think you might like this book – “My First Words In Arabic : كلماتي الأولى بالعربية – Arabic/English Bilingual: (Arabic books for kids)” by Bachar Karroum, Jesus Vazquez Prada.
      • think you might like this book – “Alif to Yaa ألف إلى ياء Arabic/English Children’s Picture Book, Dual/bilingual Language (Yellow Series Book 1)” by Umm Sumayyah Quan.
        Start reading it for free:


Help Your Child with Dyslexia Learn Arabic Numbers

Learning to count, read and write, from one to ten in Arabic can be challenging when you experience difficulties in the language (English) of your home country (Australia)!  To say the least! We have a dyslexia and dysgraphia diagnosis in our house which causes some struggles in learning Arabic.

١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩ ١٠ 


From birth my children have been encouraged to speak my language (English) and my husband’s home language (Arabic) – My husband is an English teacher which causes some confusion for many people.

Help Your Child with Dyslexia Learn Arabic Numbers

A late dyslexia diagnosis, means that we still struggle with the basics but have developed some fun strategies for learning. When I started out with this exercise I was going to show you numbers from 1 to 100. Fortunately, reality set in, but not until after the cards were made (12 cards are a better fit on the A4 page so I made 1 to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 – so I could use them later)! One step at a time! Numbers from 1 to 10 first!

I will add free link to .pdf file here:

Steps we use to learn numbers in Arabic:

Numbers and Names:

1 – one – ١ – wahad -واحد

2 – two – ٢ – ithnaan – اثنان

3 – three – ٣ – thalaatha- ثلاثة

4 – four – ٤ – arba3a – أربعة

5 – five – ٥ – khamsa – خمسة

6 – six – ٦ – sitta – ستة

7 – seven – ٧ – sab3a – سبعة

8 – eight – ٨ – thamaaneya – ثمانية

9 – nine – ٩ – tis3a – تسعة

10 – ten – ١٠ – 3ashara – عشرة-

Add Music

Adam as Mishmish on Youtube sing numbers 1 – 10:

I love the tune for the first 21 seconds (numbers 1 to 10,  repeat) on this youtube numbers video. What follows after 21 seconds is an Islamic  song about numbers:

I find counting the numbers on your fingers as you sing. So you learn to associate a picture of the right number of fingers with the number you are singing, not just a number on the screen. This way you can feel the numbers too. I just developed my own counting system with my fingers, however a much better idea would have been to use the Sign Language Numbers chart. (Most children at school in Australia  are taught to sign the Alphabet and Numbers).


Card Games

Print three full number charts from .pdf above or any you like from the internet

  • The first copy I like to laminate so I can read the numbers and names in order.
  • For the other two copies – use two pieces of differently colored card, or two different A4 colored papers and laminate them. Then cut, following the black line, to make two separate piles of 10 cards. (12, or 20 cards)
  • Play card games:

Card Game 1

Matching card games – use two sets of matching cards and lay them face down on the floor. Then each taking turns turn over a card, read it number (for little count the number of spots to find the number), next turn over another card to see if it matches. (Having two different colored card sets means you can look for a card in either color to match so 10 cards to match is an easier task when you want a 6/٦ in red and green).

If it matches you keep the cards and have another turn. If it does not match, turn the cards back over and it is the next player’s turn.

Card Game 2

Play the adapted to learning Arabic numbers version of my favorite card game ever “Go fishing” –  So add number struggles and a game without pencil and writing paper needed. To play: With two players, two different colored sets of 1-10 cards. (Make the learning as easy as possible. If you have a red card you want the green one to match). For extra players either add another two sets of different colored 1-10 Cards or use 2 sets of 1-20 Cards.

Deal 5 cards to each player. Put the rest of the cards in the center to make the fishing pile. First person looks at their cards and chooses one to ask for. (Do you have… “ثمانية  thamaaneya (8) ٨ ” (If you don’t know the number count the spots).

If the person asked does. They give the matching card to the person asking. Then have another turn. If the person does not have the card they say “pick up a card (Go fishing)” and it is the next person’s turn. The person with the most pairs when all the cards are matched wins.

Card Game 3

Last card game is the “Arabic Number Card” version of “snap”. Deal all of the cards out to all the players. Don’t look at the cards. Taking turns, first person puts a card face up in the middle and reads and says the number on the card. If they do not know the name count the number of spots to work out the name.

Then the next person puts a card on top of it quickly, if it is a matching card, the first person whose hand covers the cards and says “snap” gets the cards. The game continues until all of the cards are with one person, who is then the winner.

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World

The Festival of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic year.

In Ramadan, Muslims believe that God sent the Angel Gabriel to reveal the first oral verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

During the time of Ramadan, from sunrise till sunset, Muslims across the world fast.  In Ramadan Muslims try to be extra mindful towards others, give charity, and most importantly they try to read the Quran as much as possible.

Eid al-Fitr means “The Festival for the Breaking of the Fast”. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan.

The  actual day of the festival day depends on the sighting of the crescent moon which marks the first day of the new Islamic month. This year the Eid al-Fitr Festival will fall on approximately the 5 June 2019.

After the Eid prayers in the morning everyone greets each other with “Eid Mubarak” which means “Happy Eid”.  The traditional response to ‘Eid Mubarak’ is “Kul aam wa antum bi khair” which loosely translates as “and a good year ahead for you too”.

During Eid, children receive presents from their family and close family friends.  They are usually gifted money for them to save or spend as they wish.

Everyone enjoys dressing up in their special new clothes for the Eid al-Fitr Festival.  Eid is a special time for Muslim families to visit their family and friends.

Many people also attend special celebrations across the city held in the parks so children may play together.  Many food tents are at the festival so you can try traditional Eid celebration food from many different countries from around the world.

Many delicious foods are made especially for the festival celebrations. All the food is made for sharing.

I love Eid cookies! ♡♡♡

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Making a huge shift from All-Purpose Flour to Whole-Wheat Flour and from White Sugar to Brown Sugar…starting with the kids fav chocolate chip cookies! Healthy beginnings to some happy endings! 💝 Whole-Wheat Double Chocolate Chip Cookies 🍪🍪🍪 Ingredients for 2 dozens 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 + 1/2 cup fine brown sugar 2 sticks butter (200 gms), room temperature 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup hand-cut dark chocolate bits Method In a glass bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Mix well with a whisk or a fork, until light and fluffy. You can use your electric hand mixer too. Personally, I prefer making this cookie batter with hand tools. Then add the eggs, vanilla essence and salt. Beat until all the ingredients are mixed well. Now add the whole wheat flour and baking soda. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Add the chocolate chips and chocolate bits. Your cookie dough is now ready. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line your baking trays with baking paper. Drop a tablespoon of cookie dough about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for around 10 minutes, until the cookies are golden at the edges and soft at the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don't forget to store them in an air tight container. ENJOY! #WholeWheat #DoubleChocolateChip #Cookies #ChocolateChip #Homemade •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #CinnamonCardamom #foodblog #foodblogger #food #foodies #foodtalkindia #foodnetwork #chefsofinstagram #fbai #ndtvfood #feedfeed #buzzfeedfood #foodgawker #f52grams #foodblogfeed #indianfoodbloggers #kuwaitfoodbloggers #StayAtHomeMom #SAHM #MomBlogger #KuwaitBloggers #indianbloggersinkuwait

A post shared by Minali Bajaj-Syed (@cinnamon_cardamom) on


My favourite Eid Cookie is called Klaicha. It is a traditional Iraqi biscuit made with fine Semolina filled with dates. Some people like to fill them a with pieces of Turkish delight or coconut and sugar mixture. Either way they are very delicious. Link to a recipe here:

Maamoul cookies are made in Syria and Lebanon. These are shortbread style cookies filled with dates or pistachio nuts, and dusted with icing sugar.

Maamoul Cookies (Date Filled Cookies)

Egyptian Kahk – These are Egyptian Eid cookies made with pistachios and honey filling.  You can find more information and a recipe at the following link:


Islamic Finder

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World


Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders

Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders usually are only ever  discussed or thought of in terms of adolescent girls. Boys were certain not discussed as having eating disorders at school, or even thereafter! Actually, come to think of it, anything to do with mental illness is not openly discussed anywhere!

Imagine the surprise when the doctor says “Does he have a cognitive condition relating to this? (“This” being a continuous battle to not be underweight – which we are not mentioning with the child in the room.)

So – let’s see some statistics… The first thing Google shows is the “Australian Butterfly Foundation – support for eating disorders & body image issues.

The statistics shown as follows:

• 1 in 24 Australians has an eating disorder (that is approximately 1 million people).

Then, the more surprising statistic…

• 30% of Australians with an eating disorder are male!

What? Boys have eating issues too?
Yes, that’s what it means! Boys have eating issues too!

Ok, as the dust settles on that slightly perturbing fact… slowly sense and reality are sinking in!

Hindsight is an interesting thing! Especially when anxiety related complaints are concerned. Living in the moment it is sometimes difficult to make the connection. No one wants to mention it!

Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders
Now for the tricky part:

The signs of anxiety fueled food issues are obvious if you know what to look for.

As a Toddler – A referral to the Occupational Therapist for food aversion and Food Jags! After the allergist has given you a list of foods to avoid.  Now you know what to avoid but a small boy just wants no food! Several months of supervision from pediatrician, nurse and OT and perhaps now the end is nigh!

As a preschooler – Mum returned to study/work and a small boy enjoys his day at preschool painting, coloring, playing in the sand pit. Oh, no! Someone forgot you must wear your shoes in the sand pit as you don’t like the feel on your feet. Anxiety up! Pumpkin soup for lunch and you just want a cheese sandwich which no one will make for you. No eaten lunch and it fails to be documented. No eaten lunch any day you attend and No one thinks to tell dad and he does not know to ask.  He just assumes you have eaten and gives you afternoon tea (cheese sandwiches). You just want to be home! Weight loss begins to appear. It is put down to a growth spurt. Dietitian advice very active child needs more dinner and breakfast.

Kindergarten – new people, new routine, and new baby brother. Anxiety increases and eating issues recommence. Kindergarten teacher makes a rule one sandwich eaten before going outside for lunch play. Hot chocolate and protein powder added to breakfast. Again doctor discusses appropriate eating and healthily growth rates.

Grade 2 – enter a dyslexia, dysgraphia and formal anxiety diagnosis.  Finally, seven years later a plan covering understanding allergies, asthma and how they affect eating habits, also how they are treated, in child friendly language. Anxiety reduces to normal. Weight and height meet acceptable growth rates, or just!

Now – a plan is in place to meet all future contingencies… except the wicked vomiting bug that, 3 years later has the child off the weight chart again. Leaving on the bus in the morning happy and well, and returning as white as a sheet with his dad carrying him. He collapsed vomiting at school. They said he needs to see a doctor. His dad says “Do they think i dont feed him, or something?” New school, new language, anxiety high and again he is struggling to eat. The difference is this time he knows that he must eat!

Visiting the doctor my husband is worried. I am not worried about the doctor we just need help to get this bug gone so.we can establish his health. I know what I need from this new country and new doctor. Thankfully the doctor understands me when I say “This is not our first rodeo! We have done this at 3, 4.5, and 7 years old too. He cannot shake the tummy bug. 4 days and he is still unwell. Then we have a fairly extensive plan for healthy weight gains.

The doctor orders the right test and guesses the medicine needed from our previous experiences. He correctly identified the bug and medication required so we don’t need to change it.  Ordering a stronger dose of vitamins to help him on his way to being healthy again.

So, now we know! Boys have eating issues too! 💕

In Australia, if you or some you know has an issue with eating please contact your doctor or call the helpline.

Australian Butterfly Foundation – support for eating disorders & body image issues ,
Australia 1800 334 673

Lifeline available 24/7,Telephone 13 11 14

You can read more about how to help your child with a confident body image here.

How Parents Can Better Handle Meltdowns or Tantrums in Public

How Parents Can Better Handle Meltdowns or Tantrums in Public

A frazzled mother picks up her screaming squirming three year old daughter from the shopping center floor, trying to juggle her shopping and child as she negotiates the pram and six month old baby inside with her other hand, desperately hoping the shopping does not fall out of the basket underneath. Shopper after shopper steps aside glaring the unspoken recriminations evident on their faces, “Why doesn’t she make the naughty child stop screaming!”

• Don’t you think she would if she could?
• Don’t you think she wants an enormous hole to open in the floor for her to hide in?
• Don’t you think she would appreciate just one kind word right now?
• Don’t you think she is doing her best?

This was not the first time, and certainly was not the last time I had to fight with my three-year-old daughter, but what happened this time was life changing!

The silent tears slowly started to stream down my face as out of the middle of all these accusing faces steps an older lady. She says, “Sweetheart, this is not a tantrum. She is having a meltdown. She needs you to stop now and hold her. Not run from the looks being thrown your way.” She pointed me to a seat a metre away helped me sit holding my pram like a lifeline. What now? I knew my daughter was far too heavy for me to carry much further and still with the screaming. This lady I did not know took the small blanket from the top of the trolley and covered my shoulder and my daughter’s head. Almost instantly her screaming stopped. Just like that! I was totally stunned! This stranger had quietly solved all my dramas. I looked up at her and she quietly whispered, “She feels safe now! Go home and look up meltdown!” Then before I could even say thank you she walked away, disappeared into the midst of the shoppers now oblivious to my turmoil.

After we bought a drink and a barbecue chicken on the way out the door, because after that performance I was too shaken to contemplate food for my family, we made our way home.

After dinner and both children were asleep for the night, I made my way to the computer to investigate. Thinking back to this word “Meltdown” and wondering what the lady could possibly have meant.

How exactly does “meltdown” relate to my daughter’s massive tantrum, for goodness sake? Only, this lady knew how to handle her! She had obviously been there before!

The first thing to pop up on “Meltdown” read something like:

“I know you don’t know me but I know you! I have been you! Stop running because there is nowhere to run! Stop panicking because she feeds from your fear you cannot help her! She eventually stops screaming and struggling when you hug her because she feels her safe zone is now intact! Hugging her calms you so her body responds to the calm before her mind can relate!”

What does that have to do with calming a tantrum?

The next entry was from and was titled, “The difference between a meltdown and a tantrum”. (Reference to the full article is below). Now things began to make sense.

A tantrum is a child trying to have their way by showing their displeasure, whilst a meltdown is becoming so overwhelmed by their surroundings they can no longer cope. The child’s “fight of flight” response triggered from panic and they lose their ability to focus or think. Tightly hugging them therefore helps them instill calm in their body.

Knowing this makes my days so much easier to negotiate. Awareness that when anxiety triggers it can be irrational and we need to talk, negotiate a pathway back to our child feeling safe. Remember to be understanding as our child feels overwhelmed, and is acting out because they have no words to explain their feelings.

I hope that all before we are again sitting on a bench in the middle of the shopping centre, with a small blanket tossed over her head, squeezing her tight to remind her we will make a barrier together between her and the outside world. We will be her safe zone until she is ready to partake in the world, until she is ready to reset again and explore by herself!

The next time you watch a parent trying desperately hard to carry a screaming child to the parent’s room or outside the noisy shopping center, please:

Spare them a smile or a nod of encouragement! An offer of assistance would be welcome even if they do not know how to accept you help!

Already they feel the weight of the world on their shoulders for not knowing how to help their small child. Please do not compound their distress with your recriminations. I promise you they are already doing their very best!

Useful articles and resources I find very helpful:

Morin, Amanda. “The difference between a meltdown and a tantrum” , Sensory Processing Issues

Raising Lifelong Learners – Kessler, Colleen. “Helping your child cope with Anxiety”


On a search for new ideas, I found this today.
Not the Former Things – Wingert, Shawna. “Before you Judge a Special Needs Parent”

Is Your Family Arguing About Getting a Pet? Read this!

Is Your Family Arguing About Getting a Pet? Read this!

Does your family have a pet or pets? We need a pet.

Everyone keeps telling me that a family needs a pet. When you have as many allergies as we do, it is very difficult to determine the best choice. With allergies to dust, fur, and cats our options for a pet, in a flat, that likes warm weather are: a reptile, a fish or a bird.

When you have mischievous small boys and a playful smaller cousin about, fish appears not to be a wise option. I shudder at the thought of broken glass and jumping fish as their pool of water spreads far across the room… Just “No!” Next!

We have a gecko, a small reptile like a lizard that visits us occasionally, when the weather is right. My children are forever searching to see if he has returned. We named him “Albie” and the occasional small gecko that pops up hereabouts, “Friend of Albie”. Again, the terrarium has me worried! Bouncing boys (and girl too but she is old enough to think and be careful most of the time) and glass do not really complement each other. – Not a good fit!

What we need is a Bird Whisperer!

Enter our children and my husband to this discussion and they all say at once “we want a bird!” Well, that is it then! Although, here begins my wariness… I grew up on a farm! However, I have never kept a bird in a cage. Even my chickens wandered about the farm by day, and we locked them in the chicken coop at night (to keep them safe from foxes).

Further discussion followed and covered singing birds like canaries and bulbuls, until my elder son pipes up, “No! I want a parrot! I want to teach it to talk!”

My husband is leaving for the markets and says, “I will see what I can find!” only to return some hours later with…. four budgerigars!  (Very curious! I still do not understand why four. Fortunately, they are little!)

“What is that?” says the first child.

“That’s not a parrot!” says the next.

“They’re not saying anything!” says the last.

I sent them to the Macquarie Primary Dictionary for a definition: Budgerigar (say: buj-uh-ree-gah) noun. A small yellow and green parakeet found in inland parts of Australia, but also kept in cages and bred in other colours. The shortened form is ‘budgie’.

Yes, I did say four budgies! I did not sign up for this willingly!! I do not know very much about budgerigars.  As an aside, they are very cute though!

Everyone is very very excited!

Maybe that is the problem… too much excitement floating in the air.

Help! This is not going to plan at all!!!

Someone tells me they are easy to look after.

✔2 teaspoons of seeds each day.

✔clean water

✔clean paper in cage

✔rice, fruit, vegetables…

✔happy budgies!

Someone says they like to have the same food we eat, extra to their seeds.

Not these cranky birds! The list of things they refuse to eat grows longer by the day, including all the things I tried to give them to keep them healthy. The “not too many sunflower seeds” they recommend against may need to be the next purchase on the list.

  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce

Someone tells me easily trainable.

They go crazy anytime we go near the cage. Which, with three “excited to have a pet” children in the house, means many many times a day.

The children are starting to get frightened of them being frightened of the children…. *sigh*

Cleaning the cage even upsets them and I do it every day!

Someone tells me after about a week let them out to fly around the room.

Think we missed something in the instructions on this too as they flew straight into the wall. (You can imagine the totally distress that caused for all concerned!) I do not think these budgerigars had ever left a cage before!

These tiny creatures will not be flying out that tiny door until we work out some much better instructions.Definitely not in the plan!

We need some rather urgent tips on looking after budgerigars, if you please!

State the obvious! It would be very much appreciated! We are well and truly lost!

Thank you in advance!

Signed: Confused new pet owners