Tag Archives: parenting

How to prepare for life as new parent with a Disability.

Parenting is never easy, but having long term illness or disabilty can make it even more challenging. This inspirational couple have used their own experiences to help others in their position.

Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities.

Having a disability doesn’t mean you need to live your life with limitations — that includes the desire to have children. Rather, it’s about making the necessary modifications to your home and lifestyle in order to create a safe and stress-free environment for you and your family. With careful planning and being aware of available resources, raising a child while taking care of your health doesn’t have to feel like an overwhelming experience.

Make Home Modifications

Modifying your home to meet the needs of an ability as well as a child can be expensive, but there are plenty of grants available that can help fund crucial changes. Many resources specialize in everything from vertical stair lifts and wheelchair ramps to bed and bathroom safety bars to speciality doorknobs and handles. These modifications are crucial for the safety and mental health of the disabled parent, as well as any children living under the same roof. Note that if you rent versus own, it’s the responsibility of the landlord (by law) to make the necessary modifications to your residence.

Eliminate Clutter

Clutter equates to stress and confusion, neither of which you need as a new parent with a disability. Make it a point to do inventory and organize your home before the child comes into the equation — instituting help if need be. There are specialists that can assist in areas of sorting, organization and personal planning.

Get Help

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Look into personal assistance services (PAS), a support group for more than 13.2 million people with disabilities. PAS supporters help with everything from eating and bathing to shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Family, friends, and neighbors likely fall into an unpaid category, while formal services are typically handled by public funding, private insurance, or out-of pocket-costs. Again, utilizing free resources (outside of family and friends) should not be overlooked; it’s your right by law to receive assistance.

Self-Care To Manage Stress And Depression

Having a disability comes with its share of stress — as does being a new parent figuring out the ropes. Combine the two and you have the potential for an overwhelming situation that can lead to depression. Despite the laundry list of responsibilities you have on your plate, self-care should be a priority to cope with stress. This includes maintaining hobbies, interests, and friendships; delegating tasks; maintaining physical fitness; and acceptance — nobody is perfect. source

There are also several free resources available to parents with disabilities that offer a comprehensive overview of qualified community organizations, social service agencies, and healthcare providers.

Keep Emergency Numbers On Hand

You shouldn’t have to wait for a crisis before figuring out where you can obtain aid. Every parent should keep a list of go-to numbers to deal with situations such as accidental poisoning, childcare advice, depression, medical assistance, natural disasters, and more.

Utilize Available Resources

From transportation and employment assistance to educational and recreational opportunities, there are many resources available if you have a disability. It’s your right to receive such assistance, so don’t be afraid to utilize it. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor or other medical advisor for credible resources in your area. source

Perhaps the most important message to understand as a parent with a disability is that there are several resources available to help you out that don’t include friends and family — thought it’s great if you have that network, too. Living your best personal life while being a parent and role model at the same time is a true reality. Remember that being a parent is among one of the best gifts in life, so practice acts of gratitude when you’re feeling overwhelmed. source

Photo Credit: Pixabay

My Mood Stars

I met Wendy a few weeks ago as she was spreading word of her unique product.
As a mum I could see the value of this device in helping children to identify and communicate their feelings.
As a language teacher I can see how the product is useful in talking about feelings, whatever the language.
So over to Wendy to tell her story.

Whilst child minding, I came up with the idea for my mood stars. As a childminder, I had to adhere to The Early Years Foundation Framework. Three of the key areas of learning were,

Personal, Social and Emotional development
Communication
Understanding the World.

With this in mind, I came up with the idea for my mood stars.
As I came to create my Mood Stars, I decided to make them from felt with expressions sewn onto them, (Sad, Silly, Surprised, Shy, Cross, Scared, Sleepy and Happy) They covered these areas of learning as well as providing soft, safe and tactile toys for the children to play with.
I found that the Mood Stars helped children recognise their feelings, as well as those of others, by learning the names of the mood / expression on each Mood Star.
As I observed the children playing with the stars, I soon noticed that they began to develop empathy with Sad and Shy Star consoling them in their imaginary play which in turn helped them to come to terms with how they were feeling.

With the help of the Mood Stars, communication with the children became easier. Children were able to relate to the star that expressed the mood that they were in at any particular time. Sleepy Star was often carried to bed at nap time, Sad Star would be cuddled when Mummies and Daddies left for the day and Happy Star was sometimes handed to me just to say “I’m feeling happy!”
The children’s parents would ask me to make sets of My Mood Stars for them to use at home as a useful learning tool, a way of de-stressing night time routines and for behaviour incentives. The unique quality of the Mood Stars was that they could be cuddled and carried around. They were particularly effective for the non-verbal children in the setting. Because of the wider appeal, I set about getting My Mood Stars manufactured.
As I carried out my market research, it became apparent that a board for children to have in their room or play area or for teachers to use in a classroom would be a useful accessory. I wanted to avoid scratchy Hook and Loop type substance on the soft stars I invented a board made from a gentle form of hook and loop material onto which the stars could pop on and off. The sensory experience of this was an added benefit! What also became clear from my market research, from parents of children on the autistic spectrum, was the fact that these children need more help than others recognising facial expressions and facial clues. And that they also found social situations difficult because of this. I got a lot of feed-back from parents of Autistic children, saying that the simplicity of the stars’ facial expressions allow these children simply to focus on the expression on the face of the stars which would help with their social development.
The whole My Mood Stars project has produced a lovely toy, as well as a highly useful learning tool and with no small parts, safe for children of all ages.
Want to know more?
Please follow me on
Facebook
www.facebook.com/mymoodstars

Instagram
www.instagram/mymoodstars41

Twitter

YouTube

Visit my website www.mymoodstars.co.uk for a free ‘Games to Play’ download and a video of me talking about My Mood Stars.

We can offer a special discount for Lingotastic readers. Simply visit www.mymoodstars.co.uk to take advantage of our 10% pre order discount from £29.99 to £27.00

I’m a little teapot -singing fun

Back in October, we took on the crazy task of translation of 36 English nursery rhymes into singable German versions. As we attempted it, we realised why they had not been translated before. After all the work it took us we’d love the translations to be used.

First up is one I love the actions to. I remember singing it myself as a little girl so here goes… I’m a little teapot.

I’m a little teapot

I’m a little teapot, Short and stout
Here is my handle, Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up, I just shout
Tip me over and pour me out

I’m a very special pot. It’s true
Here’s an example of what I can do

I can turn my handle into a spout
Tip me over and pour me out

I’m a little teapot, Short and stout
Here is my handle, Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up, I just shout
Tip me over and pour me out

Ich bin ‘ne kleine Kanne, klein und rund
Hier ist mein Griff, und hier ist mein Mund

Fang ich an zu dampfen, hör mich schrein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

Ich bin ‘ne kluge Kanne, ja und dann
Werd’ ich dir zeigen was ich kann.

Ich dreh mich im Kreis und das ist fein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

Ich bin ‘ne kleine Kanne, klein und rund
Hier ist mein Griff, und hier ist mein Mund

Fang ich an zu dampfen, hör mich schrein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

After all that talk of tea, I’m putting the kettle on.

So, what do you think? I’d love to see a video of your family or German class singing along to it.

Multilingual Parenting Masterclass

We’ve been trying to set up an interview with Tetsu for far too long. Maik and Tetsu finally got together after Tetsu’s talk at the Polyglot Conference in Iceland in October.

We have very different styles of teaching but the same aims for our families.  Grab a coffee and have a listen to their chat.

Tetsu, What are your aims and aspirations in raising multilingual children?

My aim is to give them the world.

I want to arm them with an undeniable advantage in the most important skill to develop in their lives: communication. This skill alone will allow them to make more friends, have better career prospects and even lead better family lives. Simply by having languages and cultural understanding with respect to languages, starting early leads to much better results for the same amount of investment in resources, they will already be miles ahead of peers who do not have these when communicating with others. And I firmly believe that teaching them early will be the most effective way to go about it. Most other types of skills and knowledge can be learned to similar levels later in life.

Want to find out more about Tetsu? Check out these links.

www.multilinguannaire.com

His book Pampers to Polyglot: 7 Ideas For Raising Multilinguals Like Me is available via his Facebook page

www.facebook.com/PampersToPolyglot

My YT channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnsvVbHGlecAQktAXzhMH2ZUtSr-kldaT

So, what  are your thoughts? We’d love to hear what works for you in the comments.

Inspirational Italian mummy Giulia

This month’s inspirational mum is Giulia Giaco from thenyoucamealong.com

I’ll let her introduce herself.

I am a woman of mid-30’s from Italy. I’ve changed my life many times in the past 6 years, from Law in Italy, to HR  and Hospitality manager in Vancouver and now mother in Sydney.

 

Could you tell us how you learned languages with your parents and in school

Honestly, in Italy, English is rarely taught well. To learn a language it is very important to have bi-lingual or native english speaker teacher, and we don’t always get that. Normally they teach literature or grammar using boring books. Instead, with my parents we often played games… “If I see an apple what am I seeing?” “Una mela!”. Songs were also very useful. The curiosity of understanding their meaning forced us to search for translations, so my entire generation probably needs to thank Take That and the Backstreet Boys for helping us improve our English.

 

So how did you meet your husband?

At that time I was sharing my apartment with other roommates, one of whom was a Spanish guy that was playing for a local soccer team in Vancouver. After a couple of weeks he invited my girlfriends and I to a soccer party….This funny Australian guy was there!! We spoke for an hour, or better he spoke and I was pretending to understand his terrible mumble and lazy accent (I always make fun of him for not being a native English speaker). We started to text each other, and after a month I had the first phone conversation with him. It was not really successful as we didn’t understand each other and we ended up chasing each other through various Subway stops.

Language barriers are sometimes funny, but can also just create massive misunderstandings. We still laugh about a couple of fights that started simply through miscommunication.

Sean and I we got married in July 2016 in a beautiful small church in Italy, surrounded by our multi-cultural group of friends and family, with everyone trying to communicate with the help of translators, body language and big smiles.

 

What do you love to do in your spare time?

I love cooking, just Italian of course, and hosting people in my house. I love making fun of the accent of my Aussie husband, probably as much as he enjoys making fun of my strong Italian one. I believe that my husband is an amazing designer, but I’m better at telling him what he likes haha. I love every single moment of creating these posters; from drawing them with Sean on the sofa to printing the final poster.

Our pregnancy is captured in this poster and in the name of the website, it is a box of memory for me.

 

Could you tell us a bit about the product your husband and you have developed.

What is it and why did you develop it?

 

We have developed a beautiful range bilingual posters, the artwork is fun and educational. The colourful designs attract the attention of kids of any age.

 

We  strongly believe exposure to a second language, at a young age is the easiest way for children to learn. By associating letters and words across different languages, the process of learning becomes simpler. With the repetition of ‘I Say, We Say…’ child and parent can create an enjoyable routine and together practice new words in multiple languages.

 

Our next project is to create a complementary range of posters, focusing on numbers, feelings, the weather, body parts etc.

 Want to find more about this product? Check out thenyoucamealong.com

 

Language learning is a Superpower

We have been going to the Language show since 2013. Our whole family have been coming with us for the last  three years. Taking our kids to language show proved a real eyeopener this year. Jasmin is now 10 and Emily 8. They have finally realised Language learning is a Superpower.

Here are their thoughts on the day.

 

Jasmin

I liked language show because I did not know that I know Mandarin so I was surprised.

I also liked the Chinese singing and dancing because they had amazing costumes.

I liked the language taster session for Icelandic which was quite hard to understand.

I liked the food stalls as they provided food from many different countries.

 

Emily

I enjoyed the Chinese dancers with their magnificent costumes.

I liked the Spanish for babies stall because they had the most delicious sweets.

I tried a Mandarin learning game for secondary school age and I found it pretty easy.

I went to an Icelandic taster class to learn Icelandic. I learned the word velkomin which means welcome.

I asked my dad to buy me some Assimemor cards “Corps et Vetiments” en Francais.

I choose this as I already know my colours and numbers in French.

 

The girls were happy and confident to try other languages this time they said” Arigatō” to the Japanese stall holder and “Gracias” to the Spanish man who gave them some sweets, “xie xie” to the Mandarin lady who gave them a book mark and “danke” to the lady on the Goethe Institute stand who gave them a sweet. As a parent I was overjoyed to witness this. They have often battled us about using languages other than English as home. They saw a stand about some online language learning games, Language Magician and were keen to try them out. The game was a mix of vocabulary and grammar in German. They enjoyed a lot and are keenly waiting for the full version to be released next year. Emily played with the u talk app and decided she wanted to learn Arabic! That’s my girl!

The girls were keen to visit the Speak like a native stand. A lady taught some simple Spanish to them whilst we chatted to the others on the stand. They simply played connect four together in Spanish and my girls picked up some Spanish.

As we passed a translation stand, the girls were chatting about the languages they could translate to and from. They them started to think about careers that languages would open for then. I think at 8 and ten to be thinking about that is so encouraging.

As we passed the Army Careers stand Emily aged 8 asked us “Why do the army need languages?”

We approached them to ask the question, they explained that the army serve all over the world and so need lots of languages, what they are really looking for are people, who are able to learn languages rather than able to speak them now.  As a mum I was so proud as this was exactly what we have done with our own kids they are bilingual German and English but as regularly exposed to different languages and encouraged to have a go speaking them.

My youngest Em enjoyed learning Mandarin in a taster class and joined in with the adults. After the class she looked down the list to see which language she could learn next!! I love her attitude to languages.

 

The highlight of the day for the girls was the bcc mandarin stand. The ladies on the stand started to demonstrate the mandarin learning game they have developed for secondary school age. My ten year old quickly picked it up and was correctly identifying mandarin characters. The ladies who had developed the programme were blown away by how quickly and easily they were learning Mandarin. My Jasmin came away speaking to us of how she was going to study GCSE Mandarin at school. We now need to investigate how we can make this possible for her. We came away with the amazing character cards developed by  teaching characters in a pictoral format , as well as a simple description to aid memorisation. We’ll be writing a full review on this soon.

 

As parents of children learning languages at home it is sometime surprising to see how this is progressing for them. Often it is only in a different setting they use the skills they have and show you how much they actually know. I was most excited to see their current attitude to languages as we have had a few years of them only wanting to use English and not be seen as different.

 

I would love to hear about your family’s language learning journey either let  us know in the comments bellow or get in touch and we can feature your story on the blog.

 

Language show silliness

This weekend we went along to language show and  had a lot of fun and silliness.

It is a highpoint in our calendar, a chance to see what is happening in the world of languages and to meet some friends we’ve been chatting to and working with online.

We met some really inspiring people this year with amazing stories behind their products. We also bumped into a few well known language bloggers and podcasters. We took some silly selfies (because that is a fun thing to do right?)

As we arrived,we were stopped by the lovely Madelena from The Alma collective.
We’d been chatting about collaboration for few weeks but had no idea we’d both be at the Language Show. She is a native German and Greek speaker so we had a lot of fun switching languages in our conversation together. Her passion with The Alma Collective is to inspire and empower parents to raise multilingual children. We look forward to working together in the future.

The first stall we visited was Glynys and her baby Spanish CD’s. Like us she is all about starting languages as early as possible and learning with the help of songs and music. She felt there was a gap in the market here so introduced her product. We’ll be reviewing it very soon.

 

 

 

On a French book stand, Librarie la page.
We came across some awesome trilingual chilidren’s picture books, produced by Vincent from
Jarvin Crew The books are in French, English and Spanish. They were produced as all three languages are spoken in his household. It means that many family members are able to read the same story to the children.

I

I was so excited to discover BCC Mandarin. They produce some beautiful cards to learn to read Mandarin Characters by playing. They are beautifully illustrated and suggest a simple story to memorise the shape of the character. I have studied basic Mandarin a little but was far to nervous to try anything other than pin yin. These cards make reading characters accessible. They are such a brilliant idea.

The British council had some brilliant resources for bringing Polish and Mandarin into the classroom. A great way to learn together and integrate cultures.

 

 

 

 

We had a look at the Lingotot stand. I figure anyone who is passionate about teaching children languages is a friend of mine. The weirdest thing happened. When giving the lady on the stand my business card, she commented “That is my name!” How odd is that. We’d both kept our maiden names when we married our, non British husbands. We’ll be sharing Sarah’s language learning story in a the next few months.

At the ALL stand we met the lovely Victoria who had invited us to contribute to the magazine last Month. She told us a little of what ALL does to support Primary Languages. Find out more for yourself here.

We met some inspiring teacher’s whose classroom experience has led them to create something for all teachers to benefit….. Bili setting up free online language exchange and ALL-IN Octopus with their grammar teaching software. https://school.all-in.org.uk/

We were really happy to meet Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Kris from Actual Fluency, fellow language obsessives and bloggers.

We ended the very busy day learning some Esperanto with the inspirational Tim Morley. It was such fun!

 

So, as you can see we had a brilliant time and met some awesome people. Many will be features on our blog in the near future. The next day our girls came along. It was a real eyeopener for us keep an eye out for that blog!

Weekend box review

As a creative family we were very excited to be asked to review the weekend box. I’ll hand you over to our brilliant reviewing team.

Hi, my name is Emily. I am writing this review. The packaging is interesting and you also get it sent in the post so it is the right size to go through the letter box. The weekend box has lots of interesting things including facepaint and stamps you can put on your face. I did my own facepaint and I was a tiger. I followed the instructions in the kit. I used sponge to put the yellow paint and a brush to paint whiskers with black face paint. It was fun.
When you finish the box you get to write on the certificate and colour it in. I would recommend it to boys and girls from age 6 to 14.

Hello my name is Jasmin, and today I will be doing a review of the weekend box Snazaroo. The kit includes a mini face paint pack and a birthday paint stamp kit. There are five different colours and two stamps, a small sponge and a brush. I used the stamp to put a yellow emoji on my cheek.
The packaging is designed to fit through the letterbox and is very bright and colourful.
I liked the weekend box and would recommend it to 3 to 10 year olds.

Disclaimer:
We were sent this box to review in return for and honest blog.

We are failing as multilingual parents.

OK a major revelation from me…
We may be bringing up our children multilingually, but the aspirations and reality are often very different.
My children all hit an age time for where they refused to speak German unless it really suited them (when they wanted sweets or chocolate for instance). As a bilingual parent this is a nightmare. We did a lot of soul searching as to where we had gone wrong, but just had to let it ride. My middle daughter Jasmin is almost ten and now starting to answer our German by speaking German herself. She made a friend whose parents speak German and who has a German Au-Pair which helped her confidence a lot. Jasmin has even started to ask “How do you say … in German?”

The highlight of my week was when we saw some Apple Strudel on a stall in town. Jasmin said “Apfelstrudel!” and the Hungarian lady on the stall continued the conversation in German. We ordered and bought what we wanted in German and Jasmin followed our conversation and said Danke and Bitte in the correct places.

She finally wants to speak German! We were in the Polish shop recently and she said goodbye in Polish: Dziękuję

The whole exposure to other languages and cultures we have been doing since she was tiny, is finally paying off.

My eldest son is 17 now and I will finally admit he dropped GCSE languages (huge shame for me to admit this). However, if he hears French he continues in French, he learnt some Dutch with Duolingo, he has an awesome accent and knows more Dutch than me and his dad. He learnt some Polish with UTalk and joins us in Polish conversations. Languages are such a part of his life he actually forgot to put them on his CV!

As a multilingual parent, there are no failures, just learning experiences for you all. No parent does a perfect job, our personal parenting goal is not to make too much of a mess of parenting.

So, I’ve finally admitted I’m not a perfect parent or a perfect multilingual parent either and it’s not going too badly. How is your family language learning journey going?

Inspirational mum Reem from Ossass-Stories.

July’s inspirational mum is Reem, author and publisher from Ossass-Stories.

 

What is your career background?

After studying English at university, I started working as a translator and researcher in Jerusalem, mainly with The New York Times. In 2006, when I was 26, the Israel-Lebanon war broke out, and I urged my boss to let me go to the frontline because I knew the area well. It was my first major journalistic assignment. I realised that being fluent in Arabic would be even more of an advantage in video than in print, so I taught myself how to film and edit video. In 2009 I started doing videos for The New York Times, going into the field, interviewing people, filming them, writing my own scripts and editing together the video reports. In 2012 I moved to New York, and was hired as a staff video journalist by The Wall Street Journal. I mainly covered Middle East affairs, the war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.

 

How did your career change after having children?

I put my career on hold twice, both times after giving birth to my daughters. After my first, in 2011, I waited 9 months before going back to freelance video journalism, although I was able to do some translation before that. I really enjoyed being a mother, but I also loved my work as a journalist, and I was happy that I could be both. I was happier and more fulfilled, and although I had originally intended to stay at home longer to bring my daughter up bilingual in Arabic and English, it very quickly became clear that she was learning more words and language skills when she was at a nursery interacting with other children her own age and other adults. There was a similar pattern after my second daughter was born in New York in 2015. I left my job at The Wall Street Journal when I was 9 months pregnant, spent the first 18 months with her – and settling my family into a new life in London. I only recently started freelancing again, but I have spent the last few months working on building up my small business, which publishes Arabic books for children.

 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Or, in my case, the mother who invented. Arabic has two registers: formal and colloquial. All books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes  – even for children – use the formal version of the language. That was very frustrating to me as a child, to read children, animals and cartoon characters talking like lawyers and newspaper editorials. When I became a mother I just couldn’t read those books out aloud to my children. So I decided to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. Things are changing in the Arab world – satellite television channels have familiarised people with other Arabic dialects, and social media has got people accustomed to the idea that it is all right to write as you speak. Other mothers and fathers in the Arab diaspora told me they felt the same, and that it was more important for their children to learn to speak to their grandparents and cousins than to struggle their way through high, formal Arabic texts.

I talked with my husband about this idea in March 2014 and we published our first book in December 2015. When I got the first actual solid book in my hands, it really was a huge feeling of achievement, an affirmation that we were doing something new, and a little bit revolutionary.

 

What drives you do what you do?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really formulated a plan. But then the world changed around me and I realised that we were living in an era of mass migration of Arabs to Europe, America and elsewhere.

As someone who lives in the Arab diaspora I saw these new arrivals turn up – as a journalist I even went to interview some of them – and it became even more important to me that we should have a new children’s literature in Arabic, featuring the contemporary world. Our books feature a confident, outgoing young Arab girl who feels entirely at home in places like New York. Because it is her city. That is how our oldest daughter defines herself if anyone asks her where she is from: she says “I am from New York City.” I love that. And I want books that show Arabs living in the West comfortably, being an integral part of the scenery, fluent in the language and culture. It’s a passion to me.

 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I was really surprised by how quickly an idea became a real product. It all started one evening in March 2014. I was frustrated after reading a bedtime story to my daughter in formal Arabic. I went to the living room and told my husband that I wanted to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. It was a eureka moment, it was so obvious to me that this needed to be done, and I had no doubt in my heart or mind that I was going to do it. My husband was so positive, encouraging and very excited about the idea. I started with my research work that evening. I contacted an illustrator the next day after seeing his work on the internet. We found a lawyer to help us set up our own publishing house, we signed a contract with the illustrator two months later, and our first book was published a year and a half after the idea was born. We’ve just published our second book, and I couldn’t be prouder.

 

Who is your target audience?

Our books are mainly designed for Arab children living in the diaspora. But since we started selling, we have also seen interest from college and university students, who are studying colloquial Arabic, but can’t find books to practise it. The book is now on the shelves of public libraries in New York, Norway and Sweden, and in bookshops in cities around the world where there is an Arab community.Our books are for everyone who enjoys a good story. We’re even thinking to translate it into other languages, including English.

 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Most of it is done on social media. We have a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. We also have people who subscribe to our emailed newsletters. We have held readings in schools and colleges and we have a pink business card in the shape of a bookmark that we send out with every book, and encourage people to tell a friend. We are right now preparing for an Arabic cultural street festival in New York – where we had a stall last year – and for our first one in London. I tell everyone I meet about our books, because I am very proud of it, and also I would like people to spread the word. It’s a lot of work.

 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage to be a mother and a business woman. There’s so much work to do when it’s your own business, every little decision from deciding the name of your company, to designing your logo, to choosing the paper thickness of the books, to writing the best promotional post on Facebook. Much of it is up to me, although my husband does help as much as he can while doing a full time job in journalism. Publishing involves a lot of back and forth with printers, smoothing out the text and pictures with the illustrator, and with the friends and colleagues who are more fluent in, say, the Egyptian dialect than I am. My husband and I both post the books personally – those sent from London, at least – which takes up time but provides an enormously satisfying moment when another envelope gets sent on its way.

 

So, I would say that time is my biggest obstacle. Being a mother to an 18-month-old toddler also means there are some feelings of guilt. Am I giving my younger daughter enough attention? But I also see that my older daughter is immensely proud to see her life chronicled in books that are – loosely – based on her life. And I am proud to see a small publishing house that started from nothing growing every day.

 

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?

I think the happiest and proudest moment for me was when I first saw the first copy of our first book. I was 9 months pregnant, very heavy, and it was an incredibly emotional moment. We had worked for months on the story, the illustrations, the backstory, the rollout plan. It was more than anything a lesson that you can do anything with persistence, hard work and big dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of working for your own company. Seeing it all come together… it was almost like giving birth. But much less painful.

 

Who inspires you?

I admire ambitious women. I remember a few years ago I used to follow a New York Times video series featuring business women from different backgrounds who started from zero and built their business empires. And I remember so clearly looking at their stories and thinking “I want to do the same! I want to have an idea and turn it into a successful business model.”

NEWSFLASH
Reem will be appearing at some amazing cultural festivals over the summer. To find out more read her newsletter.
Full name: 

Reem Makhoul

Author and Publisher

 

Company: 

Ossass-Stories

(Publishing House | Children’s books in colloquial Arabic)

 

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Website: www.Ossass-Stories.com

Emailcontact@Ossass-Stories.com

 

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