Monday, November 26, 2012

Making a splash!

So we know Mia (almost 2) and Jad (8 months and a half) have been taking swimming lessons for five weeks now. 

Unfortunately Jad has had to stop a few lessons ago as the weather is getting chiller and we could not find an indoors pool to accommodate us which is a shame because he is such a natural. Like all smaller babies, just like that, he will instinctively start to move his arms and splash with his legs and basically "swim". Sort of. All four-legged animals will agree he is swimming. That should settle the debate.

Mia on the other hand is still going strong, and her dad and I could not be more astonished with the results. The improvements are simply spectacular. And I am not kidding. 

Before she started this course, every time we would take her to any pool (whether the kids or adults one) she would grab on to the closest neck at hand's reach and hold as firmly as her little arms would allow her. 

Well now, let us just say mama is the one a little freaked out and stretching arms and legs and whatever stretches to reach, grab and hold on to Mia's newfound confidence! 

Here is the thing. She is jumping in the deep end of the pool, all by herself. At this point, more than ever, we must continue with the swimming lessons to make sure, God Forbid, if one day she decides to make that jump and there is no one around to see or grab her, she will hopefully know how to swim to the end and ideally lift herself out of the pool. 

So what has been happening really?

Very rarely did Hubby and I put floaters on Mia's arms because we knew it was not advisable to teach her to swim just in case she gets used to them and does not want to let go when we need her to. Of course some children, like Mia's swim-mate do not really care and will forget about floaters the minute they are off. But I have a feeling it would not have been the same for us. Our drama queen is, well, what is the word? Let us put it this way: she is strong-willed. Or we could put it the real way and just say she is so darn stubborn it makes us loose it 99% of the time!

So Mia started, with no floaters on (thank God), swimming with me supporting her. Whether it was with swimming aids like a board or a noodle, I was always there to hold her while she was learning to move in the water. 

October 15, 2012
Photo: R. Abouzeid

A few lessons ago, she started ordering me to "let go of the noodle, Mia swim alone"! 

And she did. With a noodle, granted. But still, she moved around the pool all by herself. She also decided to jump in and out and in and out and in and out of the pool, about one hundred and twenty times. Or it felt as much. Who knows, I was never good at maths. 

Another impressive transformation was Mia's willingness to go under water. She moved from  categorically refusing this exercise to going under water quite comfortably in just a few hours. She never really cried about it but it was obvious she did not like it and if she had the body strength, she would have happily nailed me to the floor of that pool!

But without a doubt, the most amazing development was Mia swimming all by herself with no aid. Of course she does not go very far and the distance between the instructor and I is about a meter but still, Mia goes under water and tries to move forward towards the person in front of her. That is completely out of this world to me!

Any recommendation?

Absolutely. It is never too early or too late to start! Enroll your kids in swimming lessons as soon as you possibly can. It will change the way they view themselves, their aptitudes and their potential. This is how talents can be fostered. 

Mia's confidence has tremendously grown (as if she needed more attitude, right?) and I am certain it is greatly related to her swimming progress because she spends all day at home, on dry floors, singing the songs we sing in the water. She just loves them. And when we take her swimming for fun, she is like a little fish, doing all the new tricks and moves she has learnt. Which really makes me wonder why she gives her instructor such a hard time. Actually, I do know why. She is a hard-core-drama-queen-B with an attitude. But that is OK, these classes and soon others, combined with nursery in january will hopefully teach her some discipline and humility. Did I say hopefully? Hopefully. 

What can you do?

Get in touch with Ellie Hanlon (+971.50.5095535) the fantastic instructor who turned Mia into a baby shark, because let us face it, she simply does not have it in her to be Nemo-like. 

You will not regret it, I promise. 

This could possibly be one of the finest gifts you grant you child!

Mamma Mia

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

NAILed it!

I have been meaning to write this review for a while now but every time I thought I was ready, a new sub-topic would come to mind and I preferred waiting until this post was as comprehensive as possible. 

Because you know, beauty and nails and stuff are highly critical matters that require meticulous analysis and deserve the most detailed reporting. Ahem. Moving on. 
(Hey! Quit judging, if you're here, it means you care too! And as a mom of two with the craziest of schedules, days of screamings, poopings, feedings, I know I need some me-time just to keep my sanity but the only way I'm going to get it is if I cheat and the kids are around. Yes, during my me-time. You'll see, it's pretty simple).

Going to salons is a chore to me. It used to be a hassle before I had kids and now, well, they're just the best excuse to completely ignore my horrible witch nails, bushy eyebrows or hairy legs. OK, fine, I do not really look like that; but still, some beauty care is always welcome, right? Well, I am way to lazy to make the effort. 

In Lebanon, technicians used to come to our home and I always thought that was perfect. Those freelancing fairies are life-saviors! 

Finally, they are in Dubai now. Well, to be fair, they have been in Dubai for a while, I just did not know about them (being the ultimate anti-salon freak and all). 


Recently, a friend introduced me to the Beauty Bus and recommended Layola, "their best technician" she said. And indeed, Layola has magical hands!

My very first appointment, I did the whole shebang. I figured, if I was about to try their services, I might as well try everything once and for all and decide if they were going to be my BFF's forever and ever. I even got hubby to try their pedicure. You think I am kidding? Fine. Here we go, photo:

Layola at work: Hubby's feet are about to shine any moment now!
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Everything is sterile, as legally required in the UAE
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Indeed, Layola is highly skilled. She did the best eyebrows design and since I came back to Dubai I had been meaning to make them a little thicker which takes time and is not easy as in the process, one might look a little weird. Well Layola did it, minus the weirdness which was awesome. Yesterday was my last appointment and I confirm: the eyebrows now have the thickness I want and their shape is perfect.

Essie colors
Photo: R. Abouzeid

I also had a mani-pedi. The Beauty Bus uses Essie products. We all know the brand and I am glad to report the pedicure lasts about 20 days! Tested and proven by yours truly. And I am in the sun every day in sandals and three times a week in the pool (i.e. hello chlorine bath). Yet, I really change the polish only because the nails grow. 

Layola's work, simply beautiful
Photo: R. Abouzeid

The manicure is also excellent. It lasted about 5 days but I have to be honest and confess I am not kind to my nails. At all. I clean, cook, wash, even bleach without wearing gloves. I bathe the kids. I change the kids. I wash my hands a zillion times a day. Needless to say, I am very pleased with any color that lasts more than 2 hours!
Beauty Bus Bill: 
Manicure:    60 Dirhams
Pedicure:     70 Dirhams
Eyebrows:   25 Dirhams
Upper lip:   15 Dirhams

Meticulous work: Layola leaves nothing to chance
Photo: R. Abouzeid

With each 100 Dirhams spent, The Beauty Bus will add a point on my Loyalty Card and soon, I will be able to redeem these points against a complimentary service. Nice.

Then one day, I saw on Facebook a company that offers at-home services and, wait for it, long-lasting mani-pedis. A miracle, any mother will attest to that!

So I asked Layola about this breaking news and she told me The Beauty Bus was working on getting "gel" nail polish but that they did not have any at the moment. 

When I heard Sephora had a range of such "gel" to use at home, I decided to try it out. But because I am an accomplished failure at applying polish, I asked Layola to do it for me. Which she did, at an additional cost. So that time, my manicure cost me 95 Dirhams (60 Dirhams standard price, plus 35 Dirhams extra). Well actually, it cost a little (read: way) more than that because I had purchased all the gear myself. 

Bill? Sure:

Photo: R. Abouzeid

Yep, that was quite a substantial purchase. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the salesladies at Sephora. I came in with a simple request: "Gel nail polish". At first, none of the two I spoke to knew what I needed, then one said something along the lines of "Wait, this is it". She walked with me literally three steps (I cannot believe it was this close to them and they did not know what I was enquiring about!) and showed me two kits from the same brand: Red Carpet. When I asked what the difference was between the two, she said she did not know but she advised me to take the cheapest just to try. Ok then. It turned out I probably should have taken the other one as the LED light I got was really small and not so powerful leaving the nail polish quite sticky even after the drying time was up. I also discovered later on that the person who told me about "gel at Sephora" meant another brand, but then again, I do not want to blame anyone as they had gotten theirs from London and maybe (or not) the Dubai branch did not have it. 

Aside from that less than mediocre shopping experience, I have to admit Red Carpet is an excellent product (not their small LED light though; I do not know about the bigger one). I got one color only in my starting kit but it was a very sexy red, which I absolutely loved. And most importantly, my nails lasted two weeks. No chipping. No trailer-trash peeling. Everything looked spotless. Including the white nail part that started to show as my nails grew and which reminded me if Red Carpet can stand the test of time, I still need to move it and remove it anyway. Yes, I am big on lame play-on-words today, post title included. 

Red Carpet nails: Day 1
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Red Carpet nails: Day 10
Photo: R. Abouzeid
Red Carpet nails: Day 16
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Impressive, right? But we all have heard about the "dangers" of gel manicure so just to be safe and to maintain healthy nails, it is advisable to go manicure-free for a week or so in between gel sessions. Actually, it is advisable with any kind of manicure, even with regular polish. 

Finally, when I decided to remove the gel (while my family was waiting for us to go out), I did not have enough time to apply the remover, cover the nails in foil (!) and wait for 10-15 minutes as directed in the kit manual... So... I peeled them. I had "plastic" red strips all over the floor. A red carnage! The top of my nails looked like they were filed. But after I washed my hands, they went back to their normal texture (and almost normal look). This confirmed to me that any sort of "gelish" polish will indeed affect the quality of nails. That and, probably, it is not advisable to peel? Oh well. 

My two cents on this story:

As a mom, and probably as a human being who has to use her hands daily, gel can be an easy, sustainable solution (provided there is a break every once in a while). I am definitely going to have them done whenever possible (it takes more time than regular manicures).

BUT, purchasing this kit might not have been the best of decisions. I definitely do not advise you to do the same. First of all, it is a little expensive for what you would be getting. Do not forget, you would have to purchase more colors, base, top coat, purifier and polish remover when the (quite small) ones are empty. Also, the LED light is a big disappointment. Then again, I used it on batteries although an adapter can be plugged to it. But it should be purchased separately as it was not included in the kit (yet another bummer). Regardless, it remains a small LED light which fits only 4 fingers at a time; thumbs must be dried separately which doubles the "drying wait time". It also does not fit a foot so it can only be used for manicures. 

But this story is far from being over!

Following this experience I decided to try that other at-home servicing company. Considering my gel manicure cost me 95 Dirhams (if I forget that kit price tag) and their long-lasting manicure is at 100 Dirhams, I felt it was worth it. After all, I would be using their wide array of colors (instead of purchasing new ones) and most importantly their huge LED light which not only fits an entire hand (and foot) at a time but also has a timer. The light goes off when the drying time of each layer is done (it is a different duration for each: base, color and top coat) and you can actually see the countdown on the screen. And, the light is powerful enough not to leave the nails sticky after all is done.

Trying them made complete sense as it costs the same as using my own gel polish... And so I had that mani today! Yes, I do not waste time. I am now waiting to see how long it will last. 

Here is a sneak-peak just for you, blog post will follow as soon as the wait-time is over:


Should you wish to book the talented Ms. Layola (and I highly recommend her), call The Beauty Bus on +971.4.4474470. Note that you will be charged a minimum of 100 Dirhams per home visit, regardless of the services you request.

Mamma Mia

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let's ZUMBA everyone!

Since Mia's arrival, my physician had been ordering me to exercise. My health really deteriorates during pregnancies and getting pregnant only 7 months after giving birth didn't really allow me to get in shape properly (not that I was trying, to be completely honest). 

So I entered a new pregnancy with an already overweight and unhealthy body. Not ideal, I know. For me or the baby but thankfully we were both fine and now that Jad is 8 months old I feel I need to really shake things up. 

Following that second pregnancy I developed high cholesterol, triglyceride and liver fat and even had to undergo surgery and have my gallbladder removed. But more recently my back pain (which started with my pregnancy with Mia) has worsened to a worrying extent probably due to the fact that both my children have now reached a considerable weight (thank God, they're both healthy and that implies them getting bigger, no complaints there) and I cannot but lift them numerous times a day. 

So before I head to the doctor's office and an unavoidable MRI, I decided to try working out. Yes. Such a weird novelty, I know. Let's see how it goes ;)

Image Source: Aqua Zumba at Dubai Motor City

I started my very first Aqua Zumba class today. I wanted to exercise in the water as it enhances back improvements and I had been meaning to try Zumba for ages so, why not blend both, right?

As expected, it was not easy getting the routines done properly. I'm guessing, from where the instructor was standing, I probably even looked hilarious. Oh yes, hilarious. Absolutely. But glass half-full, she promised that once we get used to the routine, we'll start getting better and faster. I would like to add that with a little luck I might even look like a fabulous brazilian dancer (hiding in the water, with all the light reflections and shades and stuff, I could pull it off, no? Fine, whatever, moving on).

So we have a group on Facebook now for all Aqua Zumba peeps at Motor City
Neighbors, join us ;)

The instructor's fantastic and it was so much fun kicking it off with the friendliest ladies you could possibly meet at Motor City! I'm also really glad more will be joining the group soon as many have and are still enquiring about the class and are planning to join next week. 

I think this is one regimen I'm going to enjoy, finally!
See you on Tuesday ;)

Mamma Mia

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