Monday, December 12, 2011

Little DEEsigns

A new creative tendency has emerged in Lebanon's trendy scene: baby fashion.

Lebanese designers have already been recognized internationally for their contributions in haute couture and that for a while now, but other designing areas are also growing, establishing new markets widely appreciated and acclaimed for their outstanding qualities. 

Stylish labels for children are launching collections and boutiques all around town and as a new mom I cannot help but be super excited about all those wonderful local creations popping up everywhere!


One of these boutiques is none other than DEE Little, by creator Dina Sway. 

So who is Dina Sway?
I'm a Lebanese Designer who created a brand called DEE Little, fabricating stylish trendy clothes for kids.

What inspired you to get into fashion? And why did you decide to focus on children wear in particular?
I used to customize Tshirts for myself, but when my cute niece was born I got inspired and thought of creating a line for cute kids. (smile)

If you had not been a designer, what would you have turned into?
I started as a graphic designer and turned to be a fashion designer, so I think design and artistic ideas are my only concern.

Your label is called DEE Little. Does the little Dina inside of you have a say in your creations?
Honestly I think yes, because most of the times I do things I love to wear as a little Dina. (smile)

What does it mean to be a designer in Lebanon? How does it affect your thinking and creative process?
In Lebanon, design attracts a big part of the population, and this was the main motivation I got from my customers. Their reactions encourged me to add all my senses in my creations and to try to give them the trendiest and cutest design items.

How do you select colors, shapes, themes and fabrics when designing a collection?
The colors I usually use are what kids like the most. I combine delicate fabrics so that it's soo soft for kids, with subtle and distinctive details. The other things depend on the inspirations. (smile)

How long does it take to come up with a new vision and ultimately a new collection? What is the creative process you go through? Do you get inspired by life around you? Music? Movies? Exhibitions? Or books you have read?
I'm continuously thinking and imagining what might come up, and sometimes a design just pops up so quickly. (smile) I get inspired from life, from kids and exhibitions.

Tell us a little about DEE Little. What is the label's identity and particularities?
DEE Little is a stylish and original clothes line for children. It is a smart and comfortable range of clothing for babies and kids ranging from 3 months to 10 years. All our collection of bodies, dresses, T-shirts, shorts or trousers, combine delicate fabrics with subtle and distinctive details. Your child will look unique wearing Dee's original designs. And the unique concept is that you can find matching tops for mother-daughter, and father-son.

How was DEE Little perceived and received by the local market when you first introduced it? Do you feel this first impression has evolved and how?
At first I started introducing my items in exhibitions and in some design shops and the impressions of people were so encouraging that it lead me to start building my own shop. And from 2008 until now things are evolving so quickly and customers are loving my unique items.

Where are the clothes manufactured?
In Lebanon.

What does the future hold for DEE Little?
Hopefully a bright one with lots of creations and branches in other countries.

Where are our points of sale? Can customers outside of Lebanon purchase your designs?
In lebanon, our shop is located in Sodeco Sqaure, ground floor 01-422890. And soon outside Lebanon.

A few words, just for fun...

If you were a color, which would you be?

If you were a fabric?
Cotton and Jeans.

If you were a movie?
If you were a song?
You Sang To Me by Marc Anthony.

If you were a fruit or a flower?
DEE Little's flower. (smile)

Since you design for children, if you were a fictional character, which would you be?  
The Simpsons (smile) and Lulu w'Tabbouch (Little Lulu). (smile)

DEE Little on Facebook

Mamma Mia

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Motor City a du Caractère*

*Motor City has attitude

So I am back in Dubai since last night. It has been bitter-sweet to say the least, considering I have had to leave Mia in Beirut and travel alone. I am glad I get to see hubby and even spend some quality time with him, but let's face it, life with Mia simply rocks. And right now, life sucks. 

Why did I leave Mia if I am such a miserable soul without her? Well, I had no choice. Obviously. 

My residency expired and I must be in the country to apply for a new one (I cannot even renew anymore). And with Number 2 taking up more and more space in my belly, and me enjoying the fact that I am not nauseated and vomiting all the time, i.e. eating like there's no tomorrow, I am getting bigger and bigger. And the bigger I get, the less easy it is for me to hold, feed, bathe or care for Mia. Especially all by myself since my mom cannot join me in Dubai; she has to take care of her son, my dear baby brother, who got badly injured playing basketball. 

And with hubby busy at work, and this house so empty it hardly feels like a home, I have had to get out. Or go insane. It is a simple formula: me + empty home = endless crying. 

So today, I drove to the nearest studio and took a few photos for my residency application form, then walked around Motor City and went back home for a bite.

Again, in the afternoon, I could not possibly stand the silence in that house, so I left once more. This time I planned a longer and more relaxing outing.

I went to Caractère, the ladies beauty salon at Motor City.

A review, you ask?
Sure, why not!

From the outside, looking through the narrowest entrance door ever, the salon seems minuscule! And indeed, when you get in, you step into the tiniest waiting room ever. But then, they open a magic door for you, and just like Alice, you are led into a huge Wonderland, where all the hair, manicure and pedicure fun is happening.  

First of all, and I cannot but start with that, the staff is so friendly and helpful. That alone is reason enough to come back another time.

Secondly, I got to meet the nicest girl there. She took care of my waxing, my manicure and my facial! And she is really good at all three. Her name is Hayat, be sure to ask for her whenever she is available.

We started with what is supposed to be the most painful: waxing. I really rarely feel pain and today was no exception so we were done in about 5 minutes.

Then we moved on to the manicure station, chose a color and proceeded with all the cleaning, cutting, shaping and whatsoever nail related activities during which we had a nice chat. But not too much which was perfect because I really hate it when people force conversations on me.

And finally, off the the grand finish: the facial. There are various kinds available and I chose the moisturizing set which I discovered included eyebrows shaping and upper-lip hair removal. The cleaning and massaging felt really good and I was also left with a mask for 15 minutes.

Damage for the day (as hubby may ask)?

I was billed for 415 Dirhams in total:
  • Wax (under arm): AED 30
  • Wax (half arm): AED 35
  • Manicure: AED 50
  • Facial-Moisturizing: AED 300   

You can find the complete rate card on their website.

All in all, it was a good experience, for fair prices in Dubai. I managed to spend some time outside of the house, all the while being pampered, so I can honestly say Caractère was a win-win for me today. 

I am testing their haircare services this Friday; already booked an appointment for blow-dry in the morning. I hope I will be as pleased as I ended up today. 

If you would like to book an appointment, call +971.4.4572985 or visit the salon at Fox Hill 9, Shop No R01, Uptown Dubai Motor City (right next door to Kidville). 

It is worthwhile mentioning to all the guys out there that Caractère also has a gents' salon (+971.4.4370160) at Uptown Motor City.

Mamma Mia

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Season Goodness

It's that time of year again. And we're all getting ready with our wish lists and special requests. I've compiled some references just in case you're looking for suggestions ;)

But this post is not about gifts; it's about festive delicacies. I can see your eyes lit just now. I know, I hear you!

A friend of mine just asked me for a recipe the other day, and it instantly brought me back to our Christmas days (so thank you C. for inspiring this post).


When I was single, we would usually spend Christmas Eve at home, basking in good company, good food and good wine. Sometimes with a little touch of love, we'd turn wine into Sangria. Then, the next day we'd have Christmas lunch with my grand-parents in the North, followed by some visits to relatives and friends.

Since hubby made an honest woman out of me, I've never compromised on Christmas Eve. Not that he minds, his family celebrates on the 25th anyway. But to me, my brother and my sister, Christmas is really that 24th's evening when we have good food, good laughs and put on crazy plays to distribute silly fake gifts we carefully select as jokes.

Then, we usually have lunch at hubby's parents the next day. That's super important to his dad, because it's one of the times when the entire family gathers under his roof and care. Last year, we've had to change that tradition, because Mia was only 26 days old and we weren't about to take her out in the middle of winter. So hubby's family came to our place, which was also very nice.

But as you can see, it's all about dinners, lunches, meals and it seems celebrating Christmas implies really a lot of cooking! Well that's obviously not the only reason for celebrating, or the real spirits of the holidays. However, when people gather in love, they usually enjoy doing so around food. And that's a wonderful opportunity to share, care and give time to your loved ones.

Since we leave the turkey for Christmas lunch, on the 24th we often have Cheese Fondue and a Chocolate fountain or fondant. Should I really comment on that? Nah. Self-flattering foods don't need my accolades. Instead, I'll drop a couple of recipes you way. That will be more useful for everyone ;)

I found an easy Cheese Fondue recipe on the net, which I think would make anyone happy. Take the time to check the entire site, it's worth it. They have a zillion recipes just for fondues!



  • 2 Garlic cloves cut i half
  • 250ml (1 cup) of dry white wine
  • 225g Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 225g Emmental cheese, shredded
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Lemon juice
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Cornstarch
  • 30ml (2tbsp) Kirsch
  • 2ml (1/2tbsp) Nutmeg
  • 2ml (1/2tbsp) Paprika
1. Rub the garlic inside the fondue pot then discard.

You should have a little more wine and cheese on hand to adjust the consistency if needed. Add more cheese if it's too liquid, add more wine if it's too thick.

2. Pour the white wine and lemon juice into the pot and turn on the burner.

3. Let the wine and lemon juice warm up without boiling.

4. Reduce heat and add the shredded cheese.

5. With a wooden spoon, mix well and stir regularly.

6. Dilute the cornstarch in the Kirsch, and add remaining ingredients to the pot.

7. Add pepper to taste.

8. If the mixture is too hard, add wine. If the mixture is too soft, add cheese.

9. Dip bite size pieces of bread or vegetables.

10. Let the freshly dipped pieces cool off for a few seconds, then enjoy and repeat but no double-dipping!

Note: Italian or French bread (baguette) makes excellent dippers when cut into small pieces. You can also try mild green or red peppers, zucchini slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower or whatever else you're in the mood for.

Tip: If you ask your guests to make a figure 8 while dipping, this will ensure that the cheese mixture gets constantly stirred.


And now, for a super-easy dessert which does not require a fountain ;)


  • Good-quality chocolate tablets for pastries
  • Large strawberries

I usually work with melted chocolate by instinct. I really couldn't tell how many grams of chocolate you would need for a certain amount of strawberries. I usually keep tablets of dark chocolate in my kitchen, ready to be melted any time we crave some chocolaty home-made sweetness like light chocolate mousse or fruit salad with melted chocolate sauce.

With chocolate strawberries, you can either work with dark chocolate or mix it up a little with some milk but also white chocolate. The method remains the same for all three. I personally only go for dark chocolate when fruits are involved, but why not widen your guests' options by offering three kinds?

Most important tip before you start: wash your strawberries and let them dry well. You don't want to be dipping wet strawberries in your hot chocolate sauce. Also keep the leaves, they'll give a nice green touch to the fruit, and will be useful when you want to dip them. Make sure your strawberries are large enough to allow for half-chocolate-covered, half-red delicacies. They'll look much nicer!

Also have  a baking tray ready, with baking paper.


To melt your chocolate bars, you'll need to make a Bain-Marie. You could also cheat a little and do it in the micro-wave.

Just break your bar into small pieces and place them in a bowl which can sustain heat. Boil water in a pan on high heat, then reduce to low and place your bowl with the chocolate pieces on top of the boiling water. Stir until the sauce is smooth and start dipping the strawberries one at a time. Make sure you only immerse one third or half of the strawberry in the chocolate. Place them on the tray and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens.

If you opt for a micro-wave melt, make sure you check on your chocolate at all times. It should not make bubbles. Just place the bowl in the micro-wave and heat for half a minute. Take out and stir. Then repeat until the chocolate sauce is smooth.

In any case, always check on your dipping bowl while you're working, and make sure you reheat and stir when necessary.

Finally, and because if you're going to have cheese, chocolate and fruits, then you must have wine; here's an easy Sangria recipe just for you:

Sangria by Rouba Abouzeid


  • 2 bottles of red wine 
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of vodka 
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of rum 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar 
  • 1 cup of orange juice 
  • 1 can of 7up lemon (or regular 7up) - The 7up can be replaced by bubbly wine or champagne which would definitely boost the taste; also, if instead of using red wine you opt for a rosé, then use bubbly rosé
  • 2 peaches 
  • 2 lemons 
  • 2 limes 
  • 4 oranges 
  • 2 apples (peeled) 
  • 6 strawberries (cut in half) 

If you feel you need more fruits (because the ones you have are small or you feel the mix has too much liquid and not enough fruits for all your guests) feel free to add more pieces of course.

This recipe too is very instinctive to me and I don't have stiff rules about quantities.

Just cut the fruits into big enough cubes so that they can absorb the wine mixture. Refrigerate over night and serve cold.

Sangria by Rouba Abouzeid

Enjoy! ;)

Mamma Mia

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Puss in Boots

Mia got her first pair of shoes. Real shoes. Not the soft baby stuff, no Sir! And because autumn is already wintery over here, she opted for boots. Really fancy and girly and all glamorous (Right, ahem). 

Naturally, with her little feet still shaping up to become strong, stable, yet lady-like vehicles, we had to be careful selecting the appropriate pair. Medical is a must.

Babybotte is only a few blocks away on Verdun street and we were planning a visit there although I had checked their new collection in magazines and on the net but nothing felt really right to me. They all look the same in shape, with a more or less boyish style. But I thought, they will do since we're not planning on using just anything. Mia's dresses would have to suffer the consequences.

Until two days  ago when while walking in Hamra, we stumbled upon Garvalín on Makdissi street. The shop caught our eyes with lovely displays and a word on the door got our attention in particular: BIOMECHANICS®

That sounded good. Technological. Reliable. And medical.

So we enquired and were told all shoes were designed based on extensive ergonomic research and the saleswoman even compared the label to Babybotte (which is well-known in Lebanon and can be considered a reference in healthy baby footwear): "Babybotte and Garvalín shoes are both medical, the first being French and us being Spanish".

So we ventured in and started looking around for a nice pair of boots since any lower shoes would not survive Mia's tenacity. She cannot stand to keep them on! With boots going all the way up to her ankles, we would at least ensure the safe return of the pair, in its totality, after each outing. Because right now, the minute we go out, one of the shoes is already off and thrown away somewhere in the wilderness!

And so we did. We found the cutest pair and to our surprise, Mia loved it too! Instead of fighting hard to take them off, she stared in admiration of her new foot accessories. Even while walking, which made the test drive a little more difficult, but we passed with flying colors.

We geared up our little Puss in Boots just in time for Beirut's Marathon!
God Help us all  ;)

Mamma Mia

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Un bail

Ça fait un bail que je n'ai pas écrit en français, et ça me manquait. Aujourd'hui je suis tombée sur quelque chose qui m'a redonné l'occasion d'écrire dans la langue de Molière, n'en déplaise à Monsieur Shakespeare of course. 

Il s'agit d'un sujet auquel je pense depuis l'arrivée de Mia, et pour lequel je n'avais pas encore eu d'inspiration "blogorielle". Oui parfaitement. Non seulement je n'écris plus en français, mais en plus j'invente des mots maintenant.

Mais revenons-en à nos moutons avant que je ne retombe dans une tirade Poqueline (décidément, Jean-Baptiste ne va pas s'arrêter de se retourner dans sa tombe).

Nos moutons, ce sont les petites comptines, chansonnettes, et même berceuses pour enfants que je me paie depuis un an. 

Que ce soit en arabe ou en français (je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais il n'y a que Twinkle Twinkle Little Star que je chante en anglais, et même espagnol d'ailleurs) il y a certaines choses auxquelles on ne faisait pas attention quand on était plus jeunes et qui pourtant sont bien plus que choquantes!

Un exemple? 
Mais bien sur. 

Mia et on moi, on se faisait un "Il était un petit navire" sur YouTube. 

Je ne savais pas pourquoi maman ne la chantait jamais en entier celle-là. Et bien maintenant je sais. Et ce n'est pas parcequ'elle ne connait pas les paroles. Bien au contraire.

Et les paroles justement, c'est de cannibalisme dont elles se vantent! Apparemment, après cinq ou six semaines, les vivres se sont faites maigres sur le navire, et les matelots on tiré à la courte paille pour savoir qui d'eux serait... mangé! Si, si, je vous assure! Et bien sur, c'est sur le petit mousse que ça tombe. De quoi donner des cauchemards à vie à nos petits moussaillons à nous! Bon, je veux bien admettre que la chanson ne se termine pas là et que par miracle, tous les poissons de la mer se sont mis à sauter sur le paquebot, et que tout le monde, petit mousse inclus, s'est régalé... Il n'empêche que de parler de cannibalisme est suffisant pour mettre l'image d'un petit mousse qui se fait dévorer dans la tête des enfants. Est-ce vraiment quelque chose que qui que ce soit veuille visualiser?

Je ne vais pas m'attarder sur la petite souris verte qu'on trempe dans l'huile puis dans l'eau; c'est de la torture pure et simple. En plus, se la mettre dans la culotte, franchement, ça frôle le sado-maso tout ça... Passons.

Mais ce n'est pas qu'en français que ça choque. Il y a une berceuse en arabe qui parle d'abattage. Oui. De boucherie quoi. En fait c'est bien simple, il semblerait que le seul moyen pour que bébé dorme, serait de lui "abattre un pigeon". Le rapport vous me direz? Et bien je n'en sais rien non plus. Et ce n'est pas parceque la sublissime Fayrouz la chante sur son album dédié aux enfants que je vais la trouver plus douce cette soit-disant berceuse! Bien sur, comme avec le Petit Navire, la chanson se termine bien quand même:
Allez dort, allez dort, 
On t'abattra le Pigeon. 
Va Pigeon, ce n'est pas vrai, 
On ment à [nom du bébé] pour qu'[il/elle] dorme 
Trop fort quand même! Alors non seulement on parle de boucherie et d'abattage à bébé juste avant son sommeil (bonjour les doux rêves) mais en plus on lui explique que c'est tout à fait acceptable de lui mentir, tant que c'est pour la bonne cause bien sur.

Il y en a plein d'autres dans le même genre. 

Toujours en arabe, celle-ci me plait tout particulièrement.
On prend la main de l'enfant dans la sienne, et on pointe dans la paume:       
Il y a ici une fontaine en argent 
L'Oiseau vient y boire 
On plie l'auriculaire:      
Celui-ci lui tire dessus 
On plie l'annulaire:      
Celui-ci l'a ramassé 
On plie le majeur:      
Celui-ci l'a déplumé 
On plie l'index:      
Celui-ci l'a grillé 
On plie le pouce:      
Et bébé l'a mangé!    
Je suis certaine qu'il y a des variations, mais bon celle que je connais parle donc d'un pauvre oiseau assoiffé qui tente de boire une petite goutte, et au lieu de l'observer avec tendresse, tous les petits doigts de bébé vont s'acharner sur lui. C'est un festival de chasse, de déplume et un petit barbecue pour finir en beauté.

Une autre comptine qui vaut bien le détour me rappelle un peu le Petit Chaperon Rouge. Un film d'horreur quoi. Sauf que la version arabe que maman chante, elle est tout aussi censurée que le Petit Navire. Donc maman s'arrête avant que ça ne dégénère, mais vu comment l'histoire commence, on se doute bien de ce qui pourrait se passer:
Le Lapereau demanda à sa maman 
Tu me donnes la permission d'aller jouer 
Elle lui répondit 
Non mon petit, l'ours pourrait t'attaquer 
Le Lapereau haussa les épaules et dit 
Je me fiche de son blabla 
Elle est débile celle-là 
Elle veut que je reste enfermé 
Du matin jusqu'au soir 
Et il se mit à jouer et à se promener dans les bois en disant 
Aaah, comme elle est belle la liberté! 
Aaah, comme elle est belle la liberté!  
Ma petite maman se passe de la suite mais bon, on n'en a pas vraiment besoin pour deviner que le petit lapin aurait tout aussi bien pu être vêtu d'un chaperon rouge.

Alors déjà qu'on doit se taper les princesses passives qui ne peuvent rien sans leur prince charmant (sympa pour l'éducation des filles, genre plus machiste, tu meurs), je veux bien aussi cacher tous les dessins animés crétins et violents, mais s'il faut aussi censurer toutes les chansons genre films d'horreur et je ne sais quoi encore, on est pas sorti de l'auberge!

Il va falloir commencer à en inventer d'autres de comptines si non, moi, je la met dans une bulle, la Mia! Et Number 2 aussi d'ailleurs! 

Mamma Mia

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

When moms get inspired

Being a stay at home mom myself, I find comfort in knowing that this role, as wonderful and rewarding as it may be, no longer means saying goodbye to a professional career. 

Indeed, Mumtrepreneurs everywhere are not only taking charge and finding new creative ways to balance their families and their jobs but they are also getting inspired by their responsibilities at home to create new career opportunities for themselves. 

In the past, women were confined in a traditional professional set-up that forced them to either sacrifice their personal desires and needs in order to compete with men in the workplace (who do not find themselves necessarily required to make a choice) or simply choose to leave that part of their life to dedicate themselves to their children. Sometimes successfully and other times living with some sort of hidden resentment or regrets, and probably the motherly-guilt that comes with feeling as such.

Today, this dilemma no longer exists: women are able to achieve both personal and professional fulfillment as they please, should they opt for such an alternative. And what is the better way to combine the best of both worlds in the 24 hours that you have in a day? Be your own boss!

That's what Mumtrepreneur Batoul Alameddine Tabbara has chosen for herself. The brains behind BettySue Beirut is a former designer who reconverted into what she calls a "Birth Planner". 

The mom who describes herself as a "box of ideas with a special temper" explains that the time she spent  as a designer was not making her "happy" and "could not convince [her] to continue". But it is only when she got pregnant that genuine inspiration finally came and she found a way to use her creative skills in a career that now feels more like a true vocation rather than a laborious job. The passion with which she speaks of her venture is enough proof that this happiness she could not find while working as a designer is now an inherent part of her life. 

"My inspiration was simply my son!"
says Mumtrepreneur Batoul Alameddine Tabbara

So how did BettySue Beirut actually come to life?
When I got pregnant I did many research on brands and accessories for baby because I wanted the best for my son. I compared strollers, diaper bags, accessories for bedrooms, beds, clothes, etc. My envy to stay at home with my son was bigger day after day so i decided to quit my job and to have my little something at home. It was a very small project that grew up slowly. With at first only one brand of clothes to begin but I ended up with everything a mom could use and need. As a designer it was easy to set up a logo, business cards and website so here I am. I ordered clothes and accessories from Spain, UK and USA and my home was transformed into BettySue Beirut!

What is the logic behind BettySue Beirut? You describe your label on Facebook as a "Birth Planner Project". What do you mean by that? What is the added value to expecting and current moms?
BettySue Beirut is not a store: I opened my house to mommies and I called it "A Birth Planner Project". I think this is the first time you hear about it in Lebanon. A Birth Planner is here to help mommies not to buy much as we tend to do when it is our first baby. We tell you what you need for the few first months and we simply help you to welcome baby and be ready. Being pregnant is not very easy and all mommies know that and to tell you the truth I wish I could have met a birth planner when I got pregnant because of the so many things I have and did not use! We are not here to sell: our client knows, we are here to help.

What kind of services and products do you offer and how do you select the brands you display? How are they different from what's already in the market? 
We offer many Services: 
Almost a 24/24 availability for any question mommies have! 
We of course deliver and we are available on Whatsapp and Viber to try to do it the easiest way as pregnant woman can't always go out. 
We have a shopping adviser guide: we can go half a day with you to shop for babies. 
We differentiate ourselves by carefully selecting our brands: we choose the best fabrics and we ask for certification. What I love to say is that BettySue Beirut offers healthy clothes, Azoic free tinting, hypoallergenic fabrics, softness and even temperature regulator such as our Bamboo fabrics. 
We also work with designers in Lebanon like Dee Little and Baby and the City

Are you the sole representative for those international brands in Lebanon? 
I have my brands: Kicky Pants, Inch Blue and Pasito a Pasito. These labels are  available exclusively at BettySue Beirut except for Inch Blue which you can now also find at Dee Little

How and where can shoppers browse these products? What are your points of sale? 
You can find our products on our Facebook Page, prices are under the pictures. Of course you can also contact me to come and see in person what we have at BettySue Beirut. Our clients are mostly "online": you choose, we deliver, and payment on delivery! And you can also find Inch Blue products at Dee Little in Sodeco Square.

What does the future hold for BettySue Beirut? Are you planning to expand in some way? Physical or online? Will shoppers outside of Lebanon get the chance to access your products through an online shop?
Well our target is of course to expand, we are working on an online shop and of course we will expand physically as well, but this is not for right now. I am actually waiting for my son to get older (Smiles).   
The idea is to have a “Maison pour Bebe” where you can feel comfy and shop as you want with advisors. All our advisors being mommies of course! BettySue Beirut is not a traditional store or boutique, it's a project for mommies, not only for me but for every mum that said good bye to her career! We want to expand the idea of "Mommies working at home". 

BettySue Beirut
Aramoun district, Phoenicia street
Al Fatina Bldg - 3rd floor
Beirut, Lebanon
Email Batoul or call +961.70.754714
Connect on Facebook and Twitter

Mamma Mia

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Divine punishment or Godsent gift?

I have been meaning to write about our little adventure with progress and all the wonders of new discoveries in medicine for a while now. But I could not simply because it was hard enough actually living the whole thing. So why write about an ordeal I wish never happened?

Well because other parents-to-be out there might go through the same, and although I have no remedy, it is always good to know others have experienced what appears to be your own personal divine punishment.

The advancements of modern medicine have made "prevention" key in healthcare issues. Not so long ago, it was not possible to know silly information such as the sex of a baby, let alone possible dramatic issues such as anomalies or genetic diseases. After all, my mom, only a few decades ago had to listen to our heartbeats through a stethoscope stuck on her belly! And that was only possible in the last trimester.

Today, you can find out all the great things you dream of way before your baby can even hear you in the womb. 

Problem is, the same goes for all the bad things you fear and obsess about at night.

I am one of those worriers who quickly turn into paranoid freaks and make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Of course two miscarriages and a very difficult pregnancy did not make me the merriest of moms-to-be so all the while I was waiting for Mia, I was in fact loosing my mind! Thankfully, Mia was perfect throughout the nine months and I was blessed with the easiest of deliveries.

That should have been enough to reassure me for at least two or three pregnancies to come. And honestly, being under 35 and given our families' medical history, I never thought I would have to go through any advanced testing during my current pregnancy.

Having children is a lifelong responsibility and parents never loose the fears and worries, ever. But when it comes to paranoiacs like myself the stress begins far earlier than that moment when you hold your baby for the first time and you are suddenly hit with all that is to come!

Let's just say, each baby brings new surprises along the way. And to me, each surprise from the womb is yet another reason for concern. 

A few weeks ago, I was at my regular check up and as usual we had the pleasure of waving at our little one through the ultrasound live video. Beats any beer-drinking cat on YouTube, I tell you that much! 

We were enjoying every second and our OBGyn took his sweet time which felt like a gift. Verdict: healthy baby on the way. Followed by the casual request for routine blood tests done at this stage of the pregnancy. I honestly did not pay attention to what the tests were but having done plenty of those when pregnant with Mia, I figured, there was nothing alarming there.

When I got to the laboratory, the nurse started asking me questions:
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you consume alcoholic beverages?
Not very unusual...
  • Date of birth?
  • Exact date of your last period?   

I give an approximation. "No, no I need the exact date". So I mention it is somewhere on my iPhone and I can look it up when I get home. And here goes the red flag: "Please do, it is very important I get the exact date". 

Why "red flag"? Well simply because I was never asked these questions during my first pregnancy. So I enquired about the nature of this blood test. The nurse answered with a relaxed "Triple Test" which aims at identifying any possible risks for chromosomal abnormalities. "Chromosomal abnormalities"? And she says it like it is the most normal thing in the world! 

Now I was certain I never underwent that kind of screening with Mia. So I mentioned it to the nurse and asked if the OBGyn could have seen something in the ultrasound that prompted him to request this test. She calmly replied not to worry as this has become a standard procedure for all women, regardless of the pregnancy specificities.

Of course that did not appease me. Far from it. Especially given that the ultrasound lasted longer than usual and it felt like the OBGyn was looking for something. So we Googled a little bit (big mistake) and worried even more but decided it was silly before we get the results.

And came the results. On a Thursday. Over the phone. "Rouba, your test is positive. It is nothing to worry about but I will need you to come to the clinic on Monday at 8am so we can do the amniocentesis". The what now?! Why? How did we get to that point? Wasn't I too young for such invasive procedures? "Yes, these are usually done with older women, but your test came back positive and so it is advisable to go for further analysis. Don't worry, the Triple Test is notorious for false-positives and I am confident you and the baby are both healthy. But it is the standard next step for us".

OK then. That gave me an entire weekend to freak out. Completely. When I finally reached the ultimate point of insanity, my mom called the doctor and asked for help because, and I quote "Rouba is panicking and losing her mind". The OBGyn said something along the lines of "This is unacceptable. It is not healthy for her or the baby. Tell her to calm down because there is nothing alarming. And if she doesn't believe me, tell her I won't do the test. It is not mandatory. Tell her I've done this test to 90% of my patient and never got upsetting results".

Well, as expected that only helped enough to keep me from banging my head against the wall, at least until that damn Monday morning. Which took its sweet time to finally get there! Needless to say that waiting was way easier than the eternity that the week after felt like. 

Just for those who are wondering: the test is absolutely painless. I was worried about the needle at first but I honestly did not feel a thing. And everything is monitored via ultrasound, which is quite important to supervise the baby's heartbeat during and immediately after the procedure. That may be the only possible instant concern. The following couple of days must be dedicated to resting because there may also be risks for miscarriages. But I was assured both eventual complications are quite rare.

Finally we got the amniocentesis results back and everything was OK. The doctor did mention that this rapid test only identifies specific chromosomal abnormalities and that a complete karyotype would be delivered in a month time. We got that one only recently and thankfully, it was also normal. 

So are we happy and relieved to know our baby is healthy?

Of course.

Were these results worth all the stress and emotional roller-coaster caused by both tests?

I am not sure.

Modern medicine is truly amazing. It can do wonders. And from a scientific perspective, I can totally understand the importance and magnitude of such procedures. 

But when you are the one lying in a doctor's office, with a needle in your belly, staring at your baby on a black and white screen and just thinking of nothing else but praying for those heartbeats to remain normal; well, it is certainly another story.

In any case, I am grateful for everything. Truly. And as for the stress and worrying, well I am a mother now. Stress and worrying will never leave me again. No matter what. I know that. I have made my peace with that. And that will be the lifelong price I have to pay for being so blessed. Ultimately and all things considered, a heavy but small price.    

Mamma Mia

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rot those teeth! (Part 4)

Today a friend of mine posted photos of her baby's Snayniyeh on Facebook which reminded me I had one last installment to the Rot Those Teeth series!
Part 1 
Part 2 
Part 3

So here comes Part 4 (Thanks for the inspiration Daniella!)

As promised, this one focuses on the notorious Snayniyeh which almost made me loose my mind! As I had mentioned before, my mom had done her share of the symbolic dish when Mia got her very first tooth and by the time we got to Beirut, well let's just say we were celebrating an entire denture!

Well maybe not to that extent but still, on Mia's ten months birthday, she already had a full set of incisors! Her eight little pearls may look funny but they are definitely there, ready to bite any food we bring their way. And we're even starting to see the beginning of canines attempting to get out. 

I think it has to do with the fact that in the family (and by family, I mean me) we love to eat so it's only natural we work hard at getting all the tools and equipment in place as promptly as possible.


So with a failed Snayniyeh history, we rejoiced at the sight of grand-ma's wonderfully sweet and über tasty desserts:


Snayniyeh to-go along with its glass of extra candy

Not forgetting how I got away with my own version of the Tooth Fest in Dubai... Not as yummy as my mom's but I have to admit I am very proud of my cute little Sweet Teeth!

Mamma Mia

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