Monday, March 8, 2010

20 months!

My sweet angel-cupcake is getting bigger by the day - after wearing her 12-month clothes until she was about 17 months, she's suddenly stretching all the way to the very end of her 2T PJs.

She's starting to give us long descriptions of what's happening in the world around her, with pseudo-sentences instead of just single words. She also suddenly plunges into complicated narrations of events that happened days or weeks ago, so it always takes me a few seconds to catch up and figure out what she's talking about! For example, we went to visit a neighbor with a (very timid) cat a few weeks ago, and although Basbusa only saw the cat for about three seconds before it vanished under the bed, she has been talking about it ever since, at all kind of random intervals. It goes something like this (while gazing intently into your eyes to make sure you're following the communication): "Cat! ... Auntie Aisha... cat... Auntie Aisha carry cat... Cat in arms... Cat, meow, meow... Run! Run! Cat run! Cat afraid! Cat all gone! Basbusa saw cat..."

She also takes a few seconds to gather her thoughts as she adds more detail. For example, "Gloves!.... Black gloves... Auntie Nancy's black gloves... wears them... hands... Auntie Nancy wears them [on her] hands... outside... wears them outside..."

She's becoming so smart and helpful about remembering where things are and bringing me things I ask for! Yesterday my mobile rang while I was busy in the kitchen. I asked, "Basbusa, could you get me my phone, please?" and off she trotted to the bedroom, where she hunted around until she found the phone, and brought it to the kitchen for me. She also has a fantastic memory for where she left things. If I'm tidying up the bits of Baba's toolkit after she's been playing with it, and find a screwdriver missing, I can say, "Basbusa, do you remember where you left the screwdriver?" Even if it's fifteen minutes later, she'll stare at me with her head tilted slightly for a few seconds, and then trot off to fish it out from under a cushion on the sofa or between two books on the shelves. May this skill stick with her, insha'Allah! It often seems like one of the make-or-break criteria for being a successful Egyptian housewife is being able to Find Things, and I fail just lamentably at it. Basbusa seems to have inherited this one from two of her Baba's sisters, because she sure as heck didn't get it from me!

Talking of screwdrivers: there are very few things in the universe which are as fun as trying to unscrew things with Baba's screwdriver. And even fewer things cuter than watching her do it, masha'Allah :) My little engineer.

She takes such good care of her doll, reading books with her and holding the doll's hand to point to things in the books.

She adores cats, not that she's ever actually petted one.

She still follows me around all day with books for me to read to her.

She's getting a bit braver with physical activities like slides and jumping (she's not generally the world's most rough and tumble tot, so far). She's going up and down stairs with no help, and even lets go of the banister sometimes.

We're making progress with the potty training. It doesn't feel like tons of progress because she's still mostly dependent on me for reminders, but we don't have more than one or two misses per day.

She knows her colors, and adores pink, which she points out wherever she sees it. She hasn't gotten the hang of purple yet, but that's four syllables in Arabic, so I guess that's reasonable :) She knows ب, س, و, غ, ج, ق, ش and sometimes ك, ف and ت.

And, last milestone, she's finally weaned, about two weeks ago. She was totally ready - she was down to just once a day anyway - and she hasn't missed it at all. Sweet little munchkin. Nursing was all I hoped it would be.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

arabic printables: س picture-book page

Basbusa and I finally started a project which has been in my mind for months and months! You know how there are lots of board-books in English which just have a bunch of nice pictures for words that start with A, and then a bunch of nice pictures for words that start with B, etc? I've searched high and low for something like that in Arabic, because Basbusa loves those kind of books (even at the ripe old age of one and a half), but the closest I've been able to find is My Arabic Alphabet Book. It's nice, but there's only one picture per letter. And also, it uses fuS7a - so, for example, for the letter س, it has a car. Ok, س is for سيارة, but we're Egyptian, so we say عربية for "car." I think that would make it harder for Basbusa to get the link between the sound and the picture.

So, we're making our own. With help from Basbusa in the pasting and sticking, we put together the first page of our own Arabic Alphabet book:

I've uploaded the file here if anyone would like to print it out. There's one page with just the letter س, one page with the pictures, and one page with the words for each picture. You cut out the pictures and words, and add them (collage-style) to the page with the big س on it. I also laminated it when we were done, to make it a bit sturdier, and because Basbusa sees anything stuck to anything else as an invitation to pick, peel, pick, peel until she has it completely disassembled.

The reason I didn't just assemble all the words and images onto one sheet before printing, and avoid the work of the collage-making, was partly that I only have Microsoft Word to work with. I've always found it annoying and time-consuming trying to get Word to display images and text together without doing odd things to the placement. Also, I was hoping that if Basbusa had helped to make the book, she'd be even more interested in reading it. We'll see, insha'Allah :)

The file I've uploaded is slightly different from the one in the photo above. We know a little girl whose name starts with س, so I included her picture on our copy, but I replaced her with something else on the copy I'm sharing with the world in general. Hope this is useful to someone, insha'Allah!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

tot school: bears and puzzles

[Please note: I put the official "tot school" logo on one post per week, but actually, I don't do a weekly compilation of all our tot-school activities - I cover one tot-school day in each post, and upload them as we go. If you'd like to see more of our tot-school days, you can click on the "tot school" link on the right.]

Basbusa was still not 100% over her virus during today's tot school, but all the same, I think the activities I had planned for her didn't really catch her interest. Remember these bears, whom I had been hoping she might sort a few weeks ago? Well, now that she really does know her colors - well, most of them - I thought we'd have another try. And sure enough, while I was setting things up, she did hunt around for a few blue bears and put them in the blue cup without my even suggesting it. But the activity itself wasn't much of a hit. Here's what I had been planning:

I took a big green foam dice (two for a dollar at Dollar Tree), covered the faces with white labels, and colored them yellow, red and blue. Then I got out the red, blue and yellow bears and cups. I had been thinking we could incorporate plenty of running around: we'd put the cups in three different corners of the room with the bears in the middle, toss the dice, pick out a bear that matched the color on the dice, and then run-run-run to the matching cup to put the bear in it. Sounds fun, right? I thought so, but Basbusa wasn't convinced. She got the idea, and understood that she was supposed to pick out a bear that matched the dice, but she didn't seem to think it was a very fun thing to do. And as for going to put it in a cup, well, she saw even less point in that. She did maybe four or five, with much encouragement, and then was all done. She put the yellow dice into the yellow cup and got up and wandered off.

Right. Well, next up were some puzzles. Basbusa has yet to put even so much as one piece into a single puzzle, and I've tried all kinds - those big knobbed ones, ones like the ones below, and even super-simple ones like pictures of animals just cut in two with a straight line, so all you're really doing is matching the heads to the tails. She has no interest in any of them. I keep reading about tots all over the blogosphere who thrive on puzzles, so I thought I'd keep offering them once every so often just in case she changes her mind. So I brought out these (a set of 8 for $4 at the Christmas Tree Stores):

As usual, she had no interest in putting them together, and only mild interest in taking them apart. She did enjoy mixing up the pieces from several different puzzles, like this:

... and then fishing out the three parts of the pig, or the three parts of the cow, but actually assembling those three parts was not on her agenda. Ah well.

Our last activity was just playing, really, with a bit of discussion of colors and clothing thrown in. I made this felt dress-up bear for Basbusa as an activity to keep her busy on the plane for our last trip to Egypt, but she was still a bit young for it then. She enjoyed it for a few minutes this time, but kept wanting to pick up the bear after dressing her, and was discouraged by how the bear just flopped (I've since glued her onto a cardboard backing to make her a bit more robust). So this was yet another not-so-successful activity. Zero for three in tot school today! Oh well. Better luck next time, insha'Allah.

To see what everyone else is up to in tot school this week, please check out the Linky over at Carissa's 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Muslim tot school: umm... progressing cluelessly...

I've been happily Muslim for about seven years now (seven years already? where did they go?), but still, since I never had a "Muslim childhood" and have never even stepped inside the Sunday School sessions at the masjid, I'm always worried that I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to Basbusa's upbringing in Islam. I certainly don't know what the "normal" milestones are, in terms of when kids usually start memorizing Quran etc. (I've seen lots of little three-year-olds on YouTube, who have memorized the whole thing already - does that mean most people start their kids at birth?!?) All comments much appreciated on this one!

So far, my main theory is just to make sure she sees plenty of the things I'd like her to do some day, in the hope that she'll start copying me. She knows a few of the motions of prayer, but she's usually more excited about trying to put on one of my scarves than about the prayer itself. (Totally her own idea, by the way - I would never even suggest that such a tiny baby wear a scarf, for prayer or for anything else. She's just copying Mama.) I'd love to have a way to make the actual prayer seem like a super-fun activity that she can't wait to join in with, but no brainwaves yet. (Suggestions? Anybody?)

(And in a random cute aside, I bet you didn't know that these guys are actually praying, right?

"Boy! Akbar! Bear! Akbar!", said Basbusa, as we read about Kanga and Roo's arrival in the forest :)

On days when I'm not working, I always make a point to sit and read Quran before we get caught up in whatever activities and outings we have planned for the day, and she really enjoys that time. I set up two of those wooden Quran-holders on the floor, one for me and one for her, and she goes and gets "her" little Qurans to put on it. While I read aloud, she sits beside me and flips through them, sometimes running her little finger along the page and making random droning noises (cute!). Usually she ends up sitting on my lap, watching me read.

She knows we say "bismillah" before we eat, and "al7amdulillah" afterwards... She knows we don't leave the Quran on the floor... And that's about it, really.

I guess I could start her with stories about the Prophets etc, but for some reason, I'm hesitant to do that. It somehow feels kind of like indoctrination to me, when she's so little. Astaghfir Allah if that's wrong! I think maybe it's because I think the stories of the Prophets are actually pretty complex, in terms of the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them, and that's the important part, rather than the details of the plots of their lives. If I started telling her their stories now, when she's far too young to grasp anything but the most simplistic plot-lines, I feel like I'd be emphasizing the least important part of the whole thing by focusing on plot. And I'm also worried that in an effort to simplify those plots down to toddler-level, they'd all end up sounding something like, "The nice Muslim prophet tried to help the mean non-Muslims, but they didn't believe him, so they all died." Not, not, not-not-not-not-NOT the message I want to be giving her, on so many levels. So I think I'll keep away from those stories for now (unless someone has a brilliantly insightful reason for why I'm misguided? I'm all ears!)

Am I missing anything? Doing anything wrong so far? I'd be hugely grateful for any and all input on this one. Jazaakum Allahu khayr :)

tot school: introducing the Glue Stick

Today's tot school was a bit of a failure, really, but that's most likely because Basbusa has been miserably sick with a virus for the past few days. I thought she might like a bit of very-low-key crafting while her fever was down, but she just shook her head miserably when I tried to hand her bits of paper, and said, "Mama do it." She even shook her head at her beloved scissors and just snuggled on my lap instead, whereas usually she likes nothing better than chopping up strips of paper.

So, the following crafts are all me, not Basbusa. I persevered even though she was just watching me, because I had an Ulterior Motive: I'm hoping to start making an Arabic Alphabet picture book with her soon, with lots of pictures for each letter for her to glue onto each sheet, so I wanted to introduce her to glue sticks and how they work. We (well, I) made this:

using her two current favorite colors, pink and black, with a few bits of orange thrown in. She wouldn't hold the glue stick at first, but eventually, after watching me use it, she picked up a second one, wound it up and down a few times, and then started scooping bits of glue out of it with her fingernail, and smearing it on the paper. Well, that works too, I guess! She did enjoy doing a bit of "I Spy" with it afterwards, looking for the hearts and the circle among all the random shapes, but that was about it.

So we moved on to this (hideously ugly) little guy:

Know what it's supposed to be? Basbusa did, much to my astonishment! As soon as I had the eyes glued on, she said "Owl! Owl!" and was all excited. I chose him just for a bit more glue-stick practice, and also because her favorite book in the universe is still Owl Babies, so anything owl-related is usually a hit.

So, I'm not sure how much of the whole gluing process really sunk in, but hopefully she picked up some kind of idea. We might have one more try before we move on to making her alphabet book.