Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Homeschool: Week Two ETC ...

A friend of mine  ... Rachel Thomas ... aka Beena ... often said this 'Childbirth is how women enter the Kingdom of heaven'. I think she meant that the pain of childbirth was so much that probably God felt 'OK -- now you can come in'
I reflect on it and think ... its not just childbirth .... but the entire process of child rearing. For me I know if I can live a day without yelling at Isaac ... God may hopefully just give me entry!

It has been about a month now since we started the whole homeschooling bit. Not that keeping a 2.5 year old at home can be called homeschooling ... but the fact that I have certain goals for Isaac this year makes the term schooling appropriate. I think both Isaac and I have had fun. Some days have been frustrating when Isaac just doesn't want to sit down and listen to me read or when he dips all his fingers into the paint  or when he mixes all the colors in the palate to get what we can only call BLACK!  But we have had fun! Let me list out a few things we did together:

1. On about a daily basis Isaac and I go through A,B C ... both big and small. He already recognizes big alphabets and in the past month has started to recognize most of the small alphabets as well. It is a joy to watch him point 'e' in the newspaper. Apparently 'e' is his favorite small alphabet or it is just easy to recognize. The easy part about this learning bit is I can even do  it at the dinning table while we are eating breakfast and Isaac enjoys watching me write the alphabets out!

2. We are learning to count from 1 to 30. We occasionally miss 15 ... :)

3. Isaac has been listening to 'Mozart' uncle , 'Beethoven' uncle and 'Bach' uncle. He actually enjoys them and recognizes one song from the other i.e. You can ask Isaac 'Which uncle's music is this? and he knows it. I am surprised mainly because I am tone deaf. I guess Isaac gets his music genes from the other side of the family. It is our favorite nap time music!

4. Creativity : We painted egg shells, made a flag (Indian Flag), made a fan, made many boats, baked several cakes, made cake pops and ginger bread man ... among other activities.

5. During our errands run we had the opportunity to visit the local electrical shop. Isaac sat and intently watched the electrician put together a plug. I kept talking to him about it ... how there were three wires etc  and in the evening Dad got a 101 on Isaac's trip to the electrical shop!

6. We have been translating everything to Malayalam. At least everything within my Malayalam vocabulary. We have also been learning Malayalam alphabets. Isaac does a good aaa aaaaahhh  eee eeeeh!
7. We received a few gift cards and decided to use it on three of Isaac's favorite books : Big Red Barn, Its Time to Sleep and Drummer boy! Boy have we read those three a 1000 times now. Isaac also found the first book we ever read to him : Good night Moon!

A few unplanned progress notes. Well they say it takes a village to raise a child ... I did not realize how precise that statement was till the other day I heard Isaac telling his aunty (the maid) ' Aunty ethu cycle irruku maa ' roughly translated 'Aunty this is a cycle'. Thanks to constant effort from the maid Isaac has been learning a little Tamil! Yeah for a new language!
Quotes from Isaacland
Aunty to Isaac ' Athu enna Isaac?' (What is that Isaac?)
Isaac ' Blue'
Aunty was actually pointing at some animal in his book and Isaac misunderstood it for the color. Aunty repeats her questions
Aunty to Isaac ' Athu enna Isaac?' (What is that Isaac?)
Isaac ' Blue'
Aunty to Isaac: 'Illa Isaac. Athu enna irruku ma?' (What is that Isaac?)
Isaac exasperated:  ' Athu Blue iruku ma' (this is blue! )
Isaac assumed if he put 'irrukuma' at the end of his sentence she would finally get it!

I have learnt a lot of things these past couple of weeks
1. I love classical music and look forward to Symphony #40 , Fur Elise and Prelude !
2. I can actually draw!!!!!! OK ... I can copy stuff. I drew a horse and a cow and duck and now they actually look like those animal
3. I need a lotttttttttt more patience!

I think this post would go amiss if I did not mention that we start each day with a prayer. Being the mother in the family I have always desired to start the day with a prayer with the entire family. But with chaotic schedules I never was able to do it. Now that we are homeschooling, Isaac and I spend a few minutes thanking God for a lovely day, Isaac's friends, safe travel for appa, patience for Amma and to play well with Ziva! I can say that he listens keenly to the prayer!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Den's meeting

FROM --- DECEMBER 9 2010

Last Tuesday I was called to speak at a Cubs scout meeting.

Topic:  Communicating with someone who cannot speak in English
My Qualification: I can speak more than one language (and translate into English)
Audience: 4th and 5th grader boys

I was actually nervous. Kids that age can ask and say the darnest things! (in Cosby's language). I agreed to do this as a favor for a colleague whose son is part of the scouts. I have admired Thomas' participation in his sons scout activities.
As I was driving to Fort Smallwood Elementary - I had several desires to call in sick. I am glad I did not because I had a blast.

When I walked in - they were all curious. Then they were all giggly, then they were all distracted, then they were all talkative, then they were all interested and finally when I walked out they were all quiet. I left the room with lots of hands still raised for questions. But alas we had run out of time.
Some excerpts from the meeting

1. Boy: What religion are you?
    Me: What religions do you know of?
    Boy: Well there are Christians, Buddists, The salvation army

2. Me: I am going to teach you three important phrases in Hindi. Can you tell me three important phrases in English?
    Boy1: Whats up?
    Boy2: Hot Dog
    [ I was going for please, sorry and thank you]

3. Me: (with a picture in my hand) The peacock is the national bird of India -- What is the national bird of the US?
    Boy: oooo - The Orioles
    [for those who do not know the Orioles are the Baseball team of Baltimore and also a bird]

4. Boy: How much is the dollar worth in Indian money
    Me: (shocked that a 10 year old thought about currency and glad that I had checked the conversion rate that day) $1 = 44 rupees

5. Boy: Why did you come to the US?
    Me: I wonder why every day!

6. Parent: When you first came here was there anything that gave you a culture shock?
    Me: Yes  purple colored hair
    Boy : Oh they probably colored it!
    Parent: You think?

7. This is probably my favorite one - because we Indians pride ourselves on knowing many Indian languages but few of us have ventured into other nation languages
    Boy: Do you know any other languages other than Indian languages
    Me: I learnt a little French in school
    Boy: So what is 'Hello' in Italian?
    Me: huh!

8. Boy: Did you find any word difficult in English
    Me: Wolleyball (Yes with a W)
    [Thomas had to explain this one to them]

9. Boy: How old are you
    Whole crowd -- booo
    Me: Why dont you guess?
    Parent: Be careful they have no concept of age!
    Boy1: 20
    Boy2: 40

Lets call it a night :)

Cant wait for Isaac too join the scouts!

Cutting tomatoes

FROM --- DECEMBER 2 2010
There is something I admire in three men - My dad, My husband and my father -in law -- they can cook. And not just any cooking - good cooking. Good enough to feed others.
There are 4 reasons why I believe men turn out to be good cooks.
1. they like to cook
2. they are pulled far away from mama's apron and have to learn to cook
3. their mama's teach them to cook and
4. their wives let them cook

My father's mutton curry and his beef pickle are famous and delicious! My friends parents would call home for recipes.
My father -in- law was known for his chicken curry and seafood dishes. I have heard him giving Suresh recipes of how to increase the taste of fish curry - 'Add shallots kanna'
And Suresh! Boy can he cook. Not bragging - but the man is willing to try any cuisine - as long as there is a lot of butter and spice involved. Suresh has two theories
a. The taste of the food is directly proportional to the amount of butter!
b. The taste of the food is directly proportional to the amount of spice!
He had a friend once tease him that there was a bucket of chilly powder above our stove with a rope attached. When Suresh starts to cook - he just yanks on the rope and thats the amount of spice the recipe calls for!
Suresh's interest in cooking comes from point (1) & (3) above. He apparently spent many a dinner time in the kitchen chatting with mom and sister and watching them cook and learning from them


I was watching Rachel Ray on TV the other day and she mentioned how kids could help out in the kitchen from a young age using a plastic knife. I decided immediately to experiment on Isaac - Results - he enjoyed cutting tomatoes. They weren't in the best shape and half  was eaten as well.
Among the things I hope Isaac gets from Suresh - I hope he gets
1. His love for his mama
2. His love for cooking


The head tilt

I am standing besides the organic avacodos in Safeway (Suresh has gone into this organic freak show - I guess until they discovers bugs or not enough bugs in organic food - we  will be feeding Isaac and ourselves as much organic stuff as we can) when I hear ' She's so cute' and of course the first thing in my mind is -Is this person talking about me ;)?. I look up and see a lady looking at my 1 year old 'SON'. My first instinct is to smack her for calling 'him' a 'her'. Then I look at Isaac and he has this big broad priceless grin on his face and he is doing the head tilt - You know you tilt your head forward like you are shy and smile :). The smacking instinct is gone and I look back at this lady and she is doing the 'head tilt' back at him --
'Aww - How old is she?'.
I respond 'He is a year old'.
'Oh I'm sorry - I thought it was a girl - such pretty eyes - The boys get the eyelashes!'
I look back at Isaac and his head tilt has caused his head to touch the railing of the shopping cart - still smiling.
A few more head tilts later we are home and as I walk in Suresh is sitting busy working at his computer (numerous brain MRI images in front of him). I ask him ' Is my baby the cutiest or what?' He looks up and does the 'head tilt' - This time meaning 'Silly Girl'. I know though he is thinking - My boy is the cutiest and friendliest  and anything else you can add 'est' to.

All you mommys out there - bet you know about the head tilt! :)

How do we teach our children to acknowledge loss (grieve)?

FROM --- AUGUST 11 2010

Can we teach them to grieve? Not just loss in the family but to sympathize with others. Can we teach them to sympathize?
This past week while we grieved as a family, the children of one family raised the bar on acknowledging the loss in our family. The Emaikwu's!
As we got ready to disperse to our Sunday school classes this past Sunday (8/1/10), Simon turned around and gave me a big hug. I wasn't sure what I had done to deserve the hug until I heard the words 'I'm sorry'. I looked over his shoulder and there in a line waiting to offer their sympathies were David, Nehemiah and Helen. Suresh and I have often commented on how wonderful these kids are and how we need to ask Br Titus and Sis Grace for advice on raising children.
I have not seen such a reaction from any other 'kids' in their teens. I stress on the words kids because Simon is probably twice my size -- as is David. I remember when I was that age, I was so awkward about how to offer my support that I ended making random jokes to make people laugh. Not the most appropriate order of things.

I would say two things go into getting kids to acknowledge loss and mourn with those that mourn. (1) Excellent upbringing and to that effect hats off to Bro. Titus and Sis. Grace and (2) Having the quality of sympathy to those that are less fortunate than you and to that effect - great job growing up Simon, David, Nehmiah and Helen (Mathew is on his way there and with kind siblings such as these he will have not any trouble)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A niece is born to us today

FROM --- AUGUST 6 2010

So today as I see the joyous correspondences all over the Arthungal walls and profiles -- I cannot help nostalgia.
I am thinking about the day my older sister had a baby girl. Indeed what a wonderful day. I have often thought of sending Grace a letter of the details of the day she was born. I can still remember some details vividly.

Like when I drove over to the hospital to deliver hot water in the flask. Yea my sister has this weird thing about hot water. She likes it a lot!! At the hospital I was met by my teary eyed mom - I guess its hard to watch your first born endure labor pain. Amma has become pretty strong after 3 grandchildren. She was very calm as her fourth grandchild came into the world.

About noon we got kicked out of the hospital (India Hospital rules) by what I can only call an ' evil ayah'. We begged her saying the baby will be here any minute. NO - rules are rules. I sat on the steps outside the hospital refusing to go home - telling my father lets wait right here. He was trying to convince me that we should go home have lunch and come back when my aunt came running out screaming 'Mona had a girl!'. I quickly ran back up- dodging the 'e' ayah. Picked up the camera and ran to the door of the delivery room. Waiting.. Waiting.. . My brother in law emerges with a scrawny, uncleaned, red baby - covered with what I could only describe as yhewww stuff. 'Click a picture click a picture' he says. CLICK and the little one starts screaming because of the flash. 'Click another one click another one' he says. CLICK and a louder yell -- And she is here GRACE MARY MATHEW.

As we sat at home around the table for a very very late lunch - a crow began cawing. Old wives tale - crow cawing == A visitor is coming. My dad hushes the crow saying 'She's already here - you bring news too late!'.