Sunday, January 27, 2013

The most blissful moment

What is your most blissful moment?
When did you sit back and think --- "this is life" --- taken a deep breath and let out a sigh!

My most blissful moment is lying between my two kiddos for an afternoon nap. Isaac is normally on my left and Ziva on my right. And when they are asleep, they are so peaceful

Why am I blissful?
Because when I lie between the two of them, I remember each of Gods goodness and blessings in my short life.Each of them is a small miracle and when they lie down there so peacefully it gives me great joy!

I remember before Isaac was born Suresh and I were not agreeing on sleeping arrangements of the new baby. He had heard all about the safety of babies being kept in a crib and the dangers of putting a new born in bed with us. US can over educate you on SIDS and all other scary stuff and while I dont disagree there are parents who have had sad experiences, I was confident that my child would be in the bed it us ... curled into me. As we were discussing it with various new and to be parents around us, I found approval from a rather unexpected source - Benji Arthungal. Benji put it so beautifully that even Suresh could not deny me my joy of having Isaac and Ziva in bed with us.
Benji:'There is really something wonderful about waking up to those smiling face every morning'

Here is one smiling face we get woken up to everyday!

I have been recently kicking myself off the bed and sleeping on a mat on the floor because
1. Isaac keeps pinching my hand as he falls off to sleep (some kind of soothing technique). This annoys me since it keeps me awake or wakes me up from sweet sleep. It also seems this soothing technique takes Isaac longer to sleeps since he keeps exploring various places on my hand to pinch
2. The only way to wean Ziva seems to be to sleep away from her. If she finds me by her side she automatically expect 'mik' i.e. milk ... day or night!

The last entire week I kicked myself off the bed and found myself waking up a lot at night and unable to sleep in the afternoon (a much needed nap to survive the crazy evenings)

I was complaining to Suresh that I had insomnia because I wasnt besides my kiddos and he yelled back exasperated 'Make up your mind -- you cannot sleep with them because they pinch and trouble you .... and you cannot sleep without them'


PS: The blissful moment lasts only when both sets of eyes are closed - Else there is screaming and clambering up body parts that I didnt think could be clambered up on and lots and lots of stressful confusion!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Old Hag! -- Ziva's world

When Isaac started to speak he said a lot of funny stuff and I was so afraid I would forget it that I created Quotes from Isaacland. Now its Ziva's turn and I hope to note down some crazy stuff. Here is #1 of Ziva's world

Ziva runs up to me with her hands in the air

'Hag ... Hag'

Me thinking :  'Gee thanks I know I look like a hag ... but you are only 1 and you are already so judgemental!'

I pick her and squeeze her... she wriggles back onto the ground and again
'Hag ... Hag'
I turn around and realise I am standing near the 'monkey' bars

Me: 'O hang'

Sure why not lets all go hag!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why I believe my husband should start blogging again?

No I wasn't snooping! I had no choice! I had to get on his computer. I was NOT checking his email ... Well its his fault ... yes Suresh Joel -- Its all your fault.

My computer gave me the blue screen of death about two months ago and while I believed all was gone ... Suresh came and restored my data back ... but there was a catch. I had to use Linux (Ubuntu!) ... no more Windows. Yikes.... I am a windows girl ... with all the crashes and dead computers and lost data  ... I am still a windows girl. But this last crash caused me to switch. Rather my computer with all its data would work only in the Linux platform ... or so my  husband insisted.
So I started using Linux and got comfortable with it and even ventured on and off on Suresh's computer that I would otherwise not have touched.... Yes that's why its Suresh's fault that I stumbled upon  this website as I was trying to log into my blog account and instead it took me to Suresh's blog.

He had mentioned a long time ago that he used to write down verses/ quotes and meditations. But I never thought he had put it into a blog. But above is his a link that I am putting up without his permission --- because I believe he needs to do it more often. Blog more often.

To give Suresh credit, a lot of our conversations (between Suresh and me) have either been converted into blogs or at least made it into part of my blogs.

So Suresh ... what must be done to see you write?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homeschooling - what are we up to?

We started in the end of May of 2012.It has been a little over 6 months. Lots has happened. Its time for some updates ... Time to acknowledge some lost battles and time for some resolutions and time for some prayer ... Its time to talk about how homeschooling is going.

Homeschooling is not about educating Isaac it is about increasing his knowledge, keeping his active, getting him involved and helping him understand and respect the world around him. That should be the definition of EDUCATION.

ISaac has found a sudden love for jigsaw puzzles. We initially opened up only the 4, 5 and 6 piece puzzles. However we slowly moved up to 12 and now have opened up the 16 piece set. He loves it! I had a moment when I was wondering if he was memorizing the puzzles - which would not be good use of this spatial skill. But he got a present from his Princy athai (thank you) which was a brand new set of 12 piece jigsaw puzzles times four puzzles and he put them together correctly in the very first shot. Ziva came and broke them up and mixed up all 4 puzzles and he was still able to find the correct set together. Yeaah for jigsaw skills!! I dont think he gets that from my side of the family.

Story time together
I must thank Veena a gazzillion times and acknowledge her for this fabulous idea. Dhruv and Isaac have started story time together. We spend about 2 hours together once a week (hoping to increase to twice). We bring books that both boys are familiar with and read out loud. Sometimes they listen ... sometimes they play together. But the important thing is they realize that we are getting together for 'story time ' or as Dhruv would say 'Nohini aunty ... stony time' :) Love this activity.

I started using the page. This has a phonic sound for each week or you can adjust it to one sound every two weeks. It did seem though that I could not get Isaac's attention. He looked up as I wrote the alphabets and then got distracted. I was beginning to give up and go back to alphabet phonics when I came up with a new strategy. Isaac loves visuals and Isaac loves colouring. So I combined Phonics with the above two - visuals and phonics. I have a paper prepared that has the word 'fl' for Isaac to colour along with picture of words that begin with 'fl' (such as fly, flame, flamingo etc) for him to colour. I will update you on how my new strategy works

Alphabets and their phonics
Isaac recognizes both big and little letters. I found a neat website that lets me print out big and little alphabets in block print which Isaac can colour. There is also a picture of  an object associated with the alphabet for him to colour. This page also has a tracing section with dotted lines for each alphabet and a little puzzle at the bottom where you need to circle the alphabet  you just colored from a mixture of other alphabets. I wasnt even sure Isaac understood what it meant to circle the correct alphabet. But the very first time we did it together it was a piece of cake! He loved all the coloring. He loved following the dotted lines and he loved circling the correct alphabet. I would give him a check and good job and he got the giggles with every 'check'. I was careful to give him one sheet at a time in case he got bored. But there was one day when he was done with X and he said 'Amma please give me Y and Z (zzz zebra) to color'
Recognizing it is great but even better was the joy when Isaac right before bed says 'jjjj (sound) Johnsons, J is for Johnsons' I was surprised 'Who says Johnsons Isaac?' ....'Satvik'... Thanks Satvik. I tested him with all kinds of phonics of words he had seen and those he had only heard. 'l'eopard , 'c'atch, 'Z' iva, 'S'uresh, 's'wing, 'p'lane , 'p'late etc. I am scared of knowing the difference between 'k' and 'c' ... but I guess a 3 year old has no fear of being wrong.

Rhymes and songs and big boy stories
We spend a little time trying to learn a new song or rhyme every week. Isaac's favorite is Simple simon. He sometimes says it wrong .... but gets the basic story of the  rhyme ... i.e. Simple simon has no money to buy a pie.
We have two songs this month: Jamaican Farewell and Give them all to Jesus.
I try to read a few big boy books to Isaac that have a finer print ... that have more than one sentence a page. Some of them get his attention - like 'Sammy and the whale' which is actually Suresh's book from primary school ... a classic by ladybird for sure. I tried reading one that had something about fairies ...and he got off my lap and wandered away ... Any comments on 'nature' not 'nuture'???

The book
About every so often I feel very disorganized. Since I am cherry picking a lot from various homeschooling websites and cirriulums, I feel like I have no proper format of knowing what needs more concentration on .... What should Isaac learn more of  ... numbers? ... or spend more time in a creative project like egg shell painting? That is when I thought of the book. Rather A book. Someplace where I can write down what I would like to do this week or today. Some place where I can jot down ideas and even if I am unable to get to it due to a potty catastrophe or a tantrum or just the flu, I can come back to it at anytime.

Music time
Music time is everyday. We turn on the keyboard and there are classical songs recorded which we play everyday. Dad has promised to spend some time with Isaac showing him a few basics of the piano. But this does seem like something we may need to outsource.

Numbers are very very bad! He can recite till 30 ... but I think he can recognize only till 10 and count (add up) only to 10. I am running out of ideas on how to improve his math skills. Anyone?

Ziva's here
Ziva's naps have reduced and while I do want her out of the way, I am realizing I need to start some basics with her. Alphabets sounds etc. She is speaking a lot and lots make sense. But something a little more structured is needed for my upcoming toddler. Preparing for her takes time away from what I want to do with Isaac. There is also an attention struggle and MR. KNOW-IT-ALL  a.k.a Isaac does not give Ziva a chance at answering a question or pointing at an alphabet (big reason to go to school - reduce some arrogance!)

 World around him
Two things that Isaac has learnt since May is to almost ride his bicycle (with support wheels) and to get OFF the road when there is a car. Road manners are very important. I am very afraid of him scooting across the road in front of a car which is something I am sure I am going to struggle with Ziva.

Lot ... lot ... lot of bench time
I thought homeschooling would involved a 100 % of my time. I would not be able to step away from my toddler. Especially since he is a toddler. I know as they grow they can be assigned something like reading or craft work. But at 3 what do I leave him with. I think each child has a passion that he wants to pursue on his OWN. Isaac has found a few of his own. Puzzles are his current favorite. He can sit for 10 - 15 -30 minutes with a bunch of puzzles. Previously he would get annoyed if they didnt fit ... now he has gained a little patience. He still wants me in the vicinity. But I can hold a book (currently reading Lord of the Rings) or sit on the laptop and order groceries or make a dosa or get their clothes ready for bath time or clean up Ziva....Plenty of time. He loves flipping through books and pretending he is reading. And he loves ... loves ... loves colouring. So at the lunch table while I am getting things together .. I hand him some crayons and a few sheets with pictures to colour and .... life is a lot smoother.

A conversation between cousins!
Amy: Whats your name Anna ('brother' in Tamil)? 
Isaac: Isaac ... I-S-A-A-C!

So much for homeschooling huh :) ---
Yours truly --- super proud mama.

PS: not gloating - but enjoying reaping what I am sowing ... try to see it from my perspective.   ;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And the search for a school is 'ON'

No no ... this doesn't mean I have decided. Will Isaac remain at home and be homeschooled another year or will I find the 'perfect' school? Only time will tell.

Being the mother of a 3 year old I am drawn to the conversation of schools all the time. I get pulled to it like a moth to a flame. I cannot resist asking other parents who have children Isaac's age on where they plan to send their child. Why a particular school? And those who have recently started school - whether they like their school.

Most parents have plenty of good to say about the school they have choosen and poor reviews on other schools around. I guess that is the way it is supposed to be. Else why would they choose that school right? But there are a few things that have happened that keep making me sway back and forth.

1. And very important ... Suresh seems to be very keen on me homeschooling. Some conversation at office brought his home in an absolute negative light on how schools were not the way it used to be 20 years ago. Then again I remember my parents learnt Shakesphere and I didnt know the guy till I watched 'Shakesphere in love' (exaggeration since that movie came out when I was 20 - but something to that effect). His friends at work had brought out the topic on schools and mentioned that the teaching style and material were not up to standards. I wonder who defines standards.

2. Isaac's best friend for his mid-morning play has started going to school. This leaves Isaac all alone to play/fight with Ziva. While I think it is very important for brother and sister to enjoy each others company -- they also need some outside influence. Isaac seems very bored at the park and I hear from the maid that he keeps asking to come home. Last evening he wanted to come home and play with his puzzles. While it is very exciting for me to see him play quietly with his puzzles I think outdoor time -- two times a day -- for a 3 year old is very important.

3. Homeschooling has been going very well recently. Isaac has been doing a lot of coloring within the lines, lot of phonics, lot of tracing alphabets and lot of puzzles. But the homeschooling good days comes in bouts and gets very affected by holidays, illness and visitors. While we have a good round on and off we take a long time to rebound when we come back from holidays or have family visit. While it may not matter for a 3 year old ... it drives me crazy that I cannot keep a regular schedule. I don't need 9-12 ... but at least knowing that I am spending 15 minutes in phonics, 15 in alphabets, 15 in numbers, 15 in rhymes, 15 in  story time and 15 in extra curricular like music or puzzles or some other activity. I believe everything else is either a filler or a blown effect of the above. (will write more about this in another blog)

4. I call her the queen of schools. But a recent conversation with Vishaka has caused me to reconsider schools. I dont remember details of the conversation but from what she had looked around there was a school that was making sure that underage children were not permitted into higher standards. I have heard stories from Vishaka on kids being forced to write .... write and write. Kids=3 year old. My cousin is experiencing the same thing with her 4 year old daughter who is given a page  homework for half a day's worth of school. I wonder what they are doing at school? While Isaac loves holding a pencil I dont think he is ready for homework. But Vishaka's recent research has led her to a school that seems exciting.

5. We live in the middle of nowhere. All good schools I have heard of are at a distance of 45 minutes from home. I am not terribly excited about a  3 year old taking his naps on the school bus. But I wouldn't mind a 5 year old looking out of a bus window and observing the real world .... This being said we haven't bought property yet so it may not be so hard to choose  a school and then fix a home location based on this choice.

So we are going to visit our first school tomorrow. And while I am all excited ... I have a feeling I have already made up my mind ...
Any guess which way I may be going? Please comment!

Monday, January 7, 2013


I have been encouraged by a fellow church member and while I would like to openly testify about her, it would lead to two things.
1. Hearing it everyone in church would decide to encourage me which is not the point of this blog either
2. Testimonies are to give glory to God and him alone
So this blog is to acknowledge Vandana Sibi for being so encouraging in such unique way that I don't even thing she realizes how encouraging she has been. Since I am better with written words than spoken ones here I go ..
I am part of a church activity with ulterior motive.  Sunday school for kids between 2-8 years. I pleaded with Pastor and while he agreed, he spun matters around by asking me to pull the whole thing together. And so since the beginning of October I have been trying to 'wing' a children Sunday school at church.
What is the ulterior motive -
1. Isaac will get out of my hair while I listen to the Word of God
2. Isaac will get instruction and learn to listen to another adult - what better place to prepare a child for school than in the company of believers!

I have wondered off and on if it was a bad idea. I wondered if the children were gaining anything from this experiment. God brings encouragement!

One morning Vandana called to tell me I had forgotten my bottle at church and to accept responsibility for teaching the kids the coming  Sunday. In the midst of the conversation she said 'You know Christelle was singing the song you taught at Sunday school' Christelle is her 5 year old daughter and like my son talks a lot so I was very happy to hear that she had absorbed something.

Another day yet again over phone conversation 'Christelle repeated the memory verse you taught ... what was it -- Trust in the lord with all your heart'. That week I hit seventh heaven and refused to come down!

I realized that I had my encouragement sitting right there in class ... Chirstelle praying for her family, Supriya asking about Jesus second coming and what people would look like in heaven (old or young ... a question I often thing about!) and Kichu telling me that we can hear God's voice when we read the Bible.

I had encouragement all along .. I just failed to notice it. Thanks Vandana for helping me notice it!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I used to fall a lot. I have marks all over my knees and my shin of bruises received as a result of falls. No not as a kid but as a young adult. I remember my maximum falls being between the age of 16 and 22. I remember falling a lot at the railway station. I remember getting yelled at a lot, especially by my mother, for not watching while I was walking.

Last week as we went to the KR puram railway station to catch the train to Kerala, I almost missed a step again. I was careful to hold the side railings especially since I had Ziva in the Baby Bjorn and Isaac holding my other hand (that would normally have been used to break my fall). I walked a few feet ahead and glanced over to Suresh dragging the suitcases.
'Whats with these steps?'
Suresh - nonchalantly 'They are uneven!'
And then suddenly the years of falling on my head, face, knees, shin and butt all made complete sense 'UNEVEN Steps'

Today I went to the tailor to pick up some altering and as I climbed up the steps I tripped again. I looked at the steps and wondering which fool was involved in building these steps. I wondered if I and ever other person who tripped or almost tripped on these steps could curse the builder maybe by some miraculous format, sense could be knocked into their brains to do a better job with these steps.

Last week we spent a night at my mother's sisters house. They have recently renovated the house and the staircase going upstairs are beautiful. Smooth with a slow slope upward and EVENLY spaced steps. I almost wanted to bend down and kiss them

Friday, January 4, 2013

KraZy KeRala

They call it Gods own country!
I call it the worlds craziest place.

From when I can remember I loved going to Kerala. I now think back and realize that I was nothing short of a pain in the rear going there vacation after vacation. I had to be picked up, dropped off and then driven from relative to relatives homes. Yet vacation after vacation without realizing the inconvenience I was to everyone I looked forward to my trip to Kerala. Vacation after vacation I booked my ticket and packed my bags.

I am not sure what fascination this place held for me. Maybe the fact of hanging out with cousins... who most of the time never really had time in the midst of their education and other activities! Maybe it was the change of location ... bad roads, bad drivers ??? Maybe it was the change of weather ... hotter or rainier!
Maybe it was to see my grandparents ? My vaguest memories of my granddad (paternal) involves me waking up to him saying 'Please pray and wake up so you stay  in a good mood today' . hmmm not much of a 'Good morning' you would say.
Yet vacation after vacation I didnt mind leaving friends and fun in Bombay  to take a stinky train ride to Kerala. I wonder why!

This last trip in December has sealed the deal for me. Kerala is no longer a vacation spot! It is a responsibility. Hence forth when there are occasions we shall go endure it and return as quickly as possible and save Suresh's vacation days for something light and fun.
The most fun I had this last trip was jumping in the canal at my mother's sister's place. I got blamed for getting into the water and causing Isaac and Ziva to fall sick.

The last two days of the trip were the aftermath of a very hot stay in the state's capital, followed by a train ride, multiple squished car rides, long non a/c cars in the middle polluted streets and bad bad driving! Ziva had a fever and Isaac threw up in the back of my cousin's car! Isaac has been throwing up since we returned and Ziva's has got the first bout of the flu thanks to a compromised immune system from the hot weather.

I am so done KraZy KeRala.