A different educational and learning experience: Cooking with little hands

Why is important to educate your kids, but make it a fun learning experience?

There are different opinions about how learning should take place, especially at a young age, but now more than ever is proving true that long-term learning is related to a fun, engaging and entertained learning experience.

Discovery, experimentation and interaction make kids go ‘aha’ when they figure out knowledge on their own, and this is exactly what we are one step closer to accomplish with ‘Chef Koochooloo’  an educational learning experience that is fun, exciting and that kids will enjoy.

I want to share a special thanks to the Bahararestan Kids, Persian Immersion & Culture team who let us conduct a first interaction session with ‘Chef Koochooloo’ at their school where kids cooked ‘Khagineh’  a traditional Persian Omelet, all while learning about Persian, Iranian tradition and culture.

Here we share some pictures and the video of the day! Thank you all for your participation during this fun activity!


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Awakening your children’s creative and innovative minds!

Last night, we held a special Focus Group for Chef Koochoolo. We had both kids and parents participate, it was a lot of fun, and I personally gained a lot of new insights about other parents’ dilemmas when it comes to their kid’s education.

Everyone talked about the challenge of keeping their kids engaged and learning at all times, especially over summer break, while finding time to put a healthy and delicious meal on the table.

Kids are naturally curious and creative. They’re into everything. But with time, and what parents shared as ‘bad schooling’, some of that natural spirit of exploration can get sucked out of them. Gradually, a fear of mistakes and their consequences can start to grow.

If innovation is important to you, give one of Chef Koochooloo recipes a try, venture out into Slovakia or Iran and teach them about geography and math at the same time.

Here some pictures of the event. And keep reading because there’s more!

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If you foresee a busy summer and don’t think you’ll have much time for the kitchen, there are two camps I would strongly recommend for your kids, and my opinion is not formed because of Galileo’s support of this blog, but due to the foundation and philosophy behind their curriculum.

One of my good friends at work, Gita Kapoor has two amazingly talented boys who have created a unique engineering summer camp for children entering grades 6-8. The camp is designed to teach specific mechanical engineering principles using LEGO, and will also touch on autonomous robotics using NXT, including programming.  It will conclude with LEGO battlebot development and a battlebot tournament to which parents are invited.

If you know anyone entering grades 5-8 who loves LEGO and would enjoy learning more about mechanical engineering concepts please let them know about this unique one-week camp.  The camp will be located in Cupertino and runs from 9am-12:30pm.  Space is limited to six campers per session.  You can find more information and registration details here: http://futureengineers.webflow.com

The kids will even give you a discount of $10, if you happen to mention my blog post ☺

Looking for a bigger discount? Then you might want to check out the promotion I have for you from Galileo.  Sign up by May 31 and save $30 per camper with code 2014INNOVATION. Also you can have a chance to win a free week of summer camp by signing up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page.

Armed with an innovation process inspired by the Stanford d. school, Galileo instructors facilitate campers’ hands-on exploration of science, art and outdoor activities. Behind every activity, an idea. And a mindset—visionary, courageous, collaborative, determined, reflective.

CAMP GALILEO IS A PLACE WHERE FEAR GOES ON HOLIDAY. In its place grows a spirit of exploration and innovation. Every year, Galileo sees the experience fire campers’ imaginations and literally change their way of relating to learning.

• Nebulas: pre-K to K

• Stars: 1st and 2nd graders

• Supernovas: 3rd to 5th graders

I strongly believe, that all of the above options are AMAZING. And the by-products- kids with supreme confidence and a boldness of vision are what will eventually rock our world, so in preparation for your summer, do plan for fun engaging and innovative activities that your children can enjoy.

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A personal Mission Statement

A personal Mission Statement

Like every other Mom on the planet, I feel like I am always lacking time.  But this pattern existed for me even before parenthood, even during my life in North Carolina, where all other international students from big cities were being bored out of their minds, I was struggling to find fifteen minutes per day to do things for myself. Of course this was also related to the fact that I held four jobs including a graveyard shift at IHOP so I could pay for my living expenses, room and board, etc, but still, I recognize that I have a serious issue with time management, or better described, I have way too many passions in life that I find it overwhelming at times to channel my energy in the focused areas it needs to be.

This morning, I woke up with the specific goal in mind: (Take care of those medical bills). But as soon as I opened up my Gmail, I noticed far more important matters I had to take care of, the people we had asked to be guardians for our daughter just responded saying they would be honored, so I was more excited to follow up with a lawyer and begin estate planning and drafting a will. (By the way if you know of an expert in this area with reasonable rates, please do drop me a note).

My good friend Nazanine lend me the book “The 7Habits of Highly Effective People” and although I have to admit this is not one of my favorite books, I have decided to finish reading it and follow its guidelines, in hopes of making myself a more effective communicator.

The author encourages us to create a personal Mission Statement or personal creed. So here is my first attempt at this:

My personal mission is to help people find a sense of belonging.

Here are some of the things I would like to work on:

  • Learn to embrace my attributes and forgive my worst
  • Make a difference in other people’s lives by doing at least one nice thing per day for someone else (without expecting anything at all in return)
  • Have a home that is always welcoming to friends and family
  • Treat others the way I would like to be treated
  • Be a great role model for my daughter
  • Have a balanced life between work, family and friends
  • Share the story of my life and all the challenges I overcame to help others in my situation
  • Reach my full potential

 

 

Love is the Water of Life!

A year ago I met an amazing woman, Maria Sipka at the Versace Mansion in Miami. (At the extraordinary 7 people shower to be exact, but it is definitely not what you think :)

She had just launched a company name Linqia (focused on activating community influences to tell a personal story about a product to help build brand awareness) and even though I was skeptical whether her concept would work, I felt so much positive energy about her persona that I figured I would do everything I possibly could do to help her succeed. Linqia helped us launch a fun campaign for Recalls Plus, a parenting related app that SAP launched a year ago. This year, I have decided to be on the other side of the coin and try Linqia as a Community Leader.

The first assignment I was given was to share an inspiring story about my mother and advice she has given me about drinking water.  My mother left me when I was four years old, so  I thought about skipping this assignment, as sharing stories about my mother makes me feel very uncomfortable. At the same time, I have been thinking about being more active on my blog and a good friend suggested I write about things that make me feel sad or uncomfortable, she said writing is very therapeutic for her and that I should try it.

So here it goes, I wished I had a mother who had given me advice growing up and told me to drink lots of water but I did not. When I did meet my mother in my late teens, I realized I have to be a mother to her, and constantly remind her not to drink soda and drink pure water instead. She did not listen and is currently suffering from all kinds of health and teeth related issues.

The assignment immediately reminded me however, to encourage my daughter to drink as much water as possible.   I grew up in Iran, where many people quote Rumi and other great poets as part of everyday conversation and one you would often hear is ” Water is the source of life” and “love is the Water of life”.  I think those will be nice quotes that I will tell my daughter growing up.  Today I also took some time to go to the pool with her and felt all of this week’s stress go away, it is amazing how many healing effects water has!

Finally I bought a bottle of the Nestle Water and realized it does really taste good, so I am more than happy to blog about it and recommend it to others: http://nestl-pure-life-purified-water.linqiad.com/click/YHVXaGVUcXJk

 

 

 

 

Video: Keep Your Kids Safe With Recalls Plus iPhone App

Recalls Plus is the only app to monitor recalls of children’s products. And it’s free! Happy Downloading: www.recallsplus.com

Mom on Business Trip – How Do You Prepare Your Kids?

[Originally published on Yahoo! Shine, May 1st, 2012]

You’re a working mom and have an upcoming business trip. What do you do to prepare your toddler for the time you will be away? What do you do to keep medical contact numbers organized in the event your toddler’s caretaker needs them? What tips do you have overall to reduce any anxieties your toddler may have?

White sand between my toes, surrounded by an amazing group of mom bloggers at a conference that aims to bring us up-to-speed on the latest important technology trends for Moms, such as our own SAP app, Recalls Plus with a schedule that includes ending the week at the Versace mansion … I have been daydreaming about Mom 2.0 Summit all week.

Reality just hit today though: this will actually be the first time I will be away from my 2 year old for 5 consecutive days!

As the thought of separation from my daughter begins to cast dark clouds over my otherwise sunny and beautiful daydream, I have to remember, technology is here to help my daughter and I stay connected.

I am hoping face-time using video Skype will do its magic during these five days. I know over the past two years, it has definitely helped fill the gap between my daughter and her grandparents who live in France.

I am in for a ride. I was told by her Daycare teacher that I have to prepare her well by talking about the conference ahead of time– but as soon as I mention “Mummy having to take an airplane” she starts to cry, “No Daddy take airplane” (she is used to her father’s frequent business trips).

Whenever I have questions regarding new parenting situations, I check out what the experts have to say. Below are some tips suggested. I have also added my own, and would love to hear any additional thoughts or ideas you may have as well.

  • Amy Kossoff Smith, founder of MomTini Lounge, believes children thrive on routine and structure. To minimize the disruption at home caused by travel, Ms. Smith suggests canceling any unnecessary commitments like play dates to streamline the family schedule as much as possible.
  • Phaedra Cucina, author of the picture book “My Mommy’s on a Business Trip” advises mothers to use Skype video to show their younger children their hotel room when they are away on a trip. She notes, “it’s comforting for a young child to see mommy in her hotel room waving and making silly faces.” I will be sure to try this method, but I have a feeling it might cause my daughter to cry more and want to be right there with me.
  • My Tip: Make sure you have all of your child’s medical records in one easily locatable place so that in the event this info is needed the caretaker watching your child while you are away can easily find important info. If organization is not one of your top strengths, you might want to invest in a mobile app like motherknows where you can have all of your child’s records at the tips of your fingers via an iPhone app.

Have you ever left your Toddler at home for a Business Trip and have some successful tips to share? I would love to hear them.

You’ll find me tweeting about the conference from @recallsplus and @laylasabourian, drop me a line. : )

Confessions of a Guilty Working Mom

[Originally published on Yahoo! Shine]

Not a day goes by, on leaving my daughter in daycare, that her little brown eyes don’t well up with tears , looking up at me so sadly, reluctantly removing the buttons of her coat and stamping her feet on the floor in protest. I press my lips so hard they bleed sometimes, and force a smile on my face, telling her I’ll be back soon to pick her up and take her to the park (when in reality, in most cases I barely make it home in time for bedtime).

It’s a common dilemma for many mothers – going back to work after the baby. In many cases it’s not a choice, but a financial necessity, yet we are filled with overwhelming guilt. Can I be a good mom androck at my career?

The guilt, of course, is almost exclusively a female problem. I have yet to meet a Dad who expresses guilt for having to work and provide for his family. So I work, Very hard. As well as running a few volunteer networking groups such as First Thursdays Silicon Valley, giving back to the community, regular visits to Granny and all the other things that ‘Momdom’ entails. It’s like keeping the plates spinning – needing organization, patience and co-ordination.

Like every other Mom, I end up working twice as hard in the workplace, because I face a different type of guilt there – am I putting in as much time as my non-mom colleagues? Will skipping Social Happy Hour reflect negatively on me? I’d rather be home drinking juice with my daughter… but will they think I am not a team player?

Luckily, I work for a company marketing a product that is truly servicing Moms: Recalls Plus is a fantastic new app to help busy Moms by alerting them to any recalls of their kids’ stuff, including vital allergy alerts. It’s a product I really believe in. But, ironically, a new type of guilt is emerging now. Why? Because I actually love what I do.

 

 

 

Recalls Plus

 

I asked my husband if I was a bad Mom for wanting to steal a precious hour on a Saturday morning to write this blog, instead of making Belgian Waffles from scratch like I usually do? My husband looked at me stupefied, “What is wrong with Eggo”?

Of course, a good Mom would probably take this opportunity to educate him on all the facts associated with why one must avoid processed food, but instead, I grab our video camera and our daughter, and head out to combine motherhood, playdate and work in this fun new video, tp://bit.ly/GJLIMr . Check it out, and let me know if I have a future in Hollywood.

Any thoughts on dealing with “motherhood guilt” would also be greatly appreciated.

Co-Sleeping vs. Crib Sleeping

You and your baby dozing off together: The image is adorable, but co-sleeping, or sharing your bed with an infant, is often frowned upon in Western cultures.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warn parents not to put their infants to sleep in adult beds, arguing that the practice puts babies at risk of strangulation and suffocation. According to the CPSC, at least 515 infant deaths between January 1990 and December 1997 were linked to children sleeping in adult beds.

Despite the risks, many new studies showcase the advantages to co-sleeping, and the practice seems to be a rising trend. In his book on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, pediatrician William Sears cites co-sleeping as a proactive measure that parents can take to reduce the risk of death in infants. Sears stresses that co-sleeping babies learn to imitate healthy breathing patterns and spend less time in a state of deep sleep, in which the risk of apneas increases. In Japan co-sleeping is the cultural norm, and rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome are among the lowest in the world. Harvard psychiatrist Michael Commons and Notre Dame anthropologist James McKenna state that babies who sleep alone are more susceptible to stress disorders.

Three years ago, users on Yahoo! Answers France initiated a question about where babies should spend the night (hyperlink http://fr.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080316081500AA0tiRr), and the question remains popular on Yahoo! Answers globally. Especially heartwarming, I thought, is the latest discussion in Australia, dating back three months. I also found great advice from our Malaysian Answers community.

As with most controversial topics, there are convincing studies to support either side of the debate. The important thing is to find the right decision for you and not to be intimated by advice of those who hold opposing viewpoints. Remember, co-sleeping is not for everyone, and all experts agree that anyone sharing a bed with an infant should apply the following safety tips:

• Never smoke in the room where your infant sleeps.
• Do not take any drugs or alcohol that can affect your sleep.
• Do not share an adult bed with more than one child at a time.
• Never leave your infant alone in an adult bed.

If you are a parent who has shared the bed with your infant and you want to transition him or her to the crib, there is a great discussion on Answers India that can guide you on this process.

Lastly, I thought it would be fun to take a poll and see what those of you reading the blog have decided.

One Year of Love and Community

[Originally published on Yahoo! Yodeling Mama’s Blog]

A year ago, during the third day of my unimaginably long labor, I truly wondered whether I would survive to see this day: my daughter’s first birthday.

As the nurse finally wrapped that tiny, helpless newborn in a blanket and handed her off to us, we watched her leave with a sigh, worrying how we were going to help this little creature transition into a moving and exploring person. As if the nurse had read my mind, she turned around to say, “Don’t worry, motherhood is natural. You will figure it out. Human beings have been doing this since the cave ages.”

Yes, true, but didn’t cave people have family around to help? And could we really assume that human beings have been parenting correctly for millions of years? Wouldn’t bad parenting explain a lot of evil behavior in the world? What if we fail in disciplining our child, what if we are not able to serve as good role models, and, worst of all, what if we cannot get this whole breastfeeding thing right and she starves or we manage to overfeed her from the bottle? What if we drop her during her bath? What if…

Before releasing us from the hospital, my OB/GYN stopped by to stress the importance of having my mother around to help when I arrived home. When I told her this was not possible, she replied, “Then find a support system somewhere,” and wrote down the names of several support groups and handed the paper to me. I looked down and saw a bunch of parenting groups, many hosted on Yahoo! Groups and it hit me, my husband and I had access to a resource previous generations did not have access to: online communities, Q&A sites and parenting blogs such as YodelingMamas.

For more than a decade we have benefited from a number of online tools, beginning in 1978 with bulletin board systems (BBSs), with their dial-up modems and flashing lights, evolving into Usenet newsgroups and all of the alt.* discussion forums, then into Majordomo mailing lists, and finally into user-friendly online communities such as Yahoo! Answers, Shine and Yahoo! Groups — full of fun and rich features.

Community development has prevailed on the otherwise “bad reputation” Internet, and we have been able to tap into the kindness of our fellow parents’ knowledge where you can post your questions and receive immediate guidance, support, and, most of all, benevolence.

Did you know that currently there are more than 81,854 groups formed around Parenting on Yahoo! Groups? There is virtually a group to meet any type of need. If you are a Single Parent, you no longer have to feel alone. The same goes if you are having a difficult time becoming a parent and are considering adoption. If you are in a mixed marriage and considering raising your children bilingual, you can find answers to your questions on groups such as multilingualmunchkin.

I would like to take a moment to thank all those parents on online communities that have formed or participated on the numerous online communities out there and shared their wisdom and support.

Have you formed a blog, or belonged to an online community that has made a positive impact on your life? Don’t be shy and share your story with us.

Also feel free to join the conversation on Yahoo! Answers, where our community is answering this question:
“What was the most useful piece of Parenting advice you ever received, and would you give that same advice to future parents?”

User post: What Age Should You Start Disciplining Children?

[Originally published on Yahoo! Shine]

My daughter has one of those sweet, innocent smiles that can fool anyone. As we stroll through the park she waves a friendly nod to every person who gives her the time of the day, and as I put her down on the playground she excitedly runs toward the other children (particularly those older than her) and invites them to play. The other parents approach us with a friendly smile and begin to explain to their kids how fragile and young my daughter is and how they should be careful when playing with her as she is still a baby (11 months old). But, before they can finish their sentences, my daughter has begun some of her usual mischief, which includes pulling the hair of the older baby, exploring their face, trying to touch their toy, or helping herself to whatever snack they are eating.

You can imagine my embarrassment as I pull her hand down, apologize to the older baby and her/his parent, and in a calm voice try to explain to my daughter that this behavior is not acceptable, while she cries with rage and points at the other child and her toy/snack.

Luckily, so far the other parents and children have treated us graciously and have forgiven my daughter’s tantrums, probably because they have dealt with it themselves when their children were that age. According to many experts, children under the age of 3 are too young to undergo formal discipline measures such as time-outs. However, an incident in the library the other day made me think again about the importance of good parenting and providing discipline both to your child and ourselves!

During a Mommy and Me story time at our local library, I noticed a cute little 9-month-old baby girl who liked to offer her hand to everyone for kissing-a real princess. She made the rounds in our circle to a little 3-year-old boy, nicely dressed, charming and adorable. Then, the boy bit the hand of the 9-month-old instead of kissing it. The girl started to cry and the boy’s mother was silent and offered no apology, though she did look genuinely concerned about both kids. The girl’s mother started to yell at the boy’s mom in front of everyone, telling her she should not be taking her uncivilized boy out in public and the other woman fired back at her while the rest of us sat in silence and shock. I felt bad for both mothers-perhaps a little bit more for the one who got yelled at-but wondered why she wasn’t offering an apology or teaching her son that this biting was not OK? Then on the other hand, the little girl’s mom should have perhaps been more careful about who her daughter is offering her hand to for kisses and watched her a bit more closely.

Judging from several conversations/threads on Yahoo! Answers like this one and this one, I am not the only parent struggling with the question on how and when one should begin to discipline a child.

What do you think? Is there an age that’s appropriate for introducing discipline? What approaches have you found work? What doesn’t work? Join the conversation…