Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A halleluia moment - Joys of homeschooling

I have been trying to get Ziva to recognize her alphabets. It has been a painful experience. I keep reminding myself that she is ahead of her game with great vocabulary, excellent spatial skills, can pretty much beat any chap her age and size to a race and has figured out how to turn on 'livin la vida loca' on the keyboard!
But I still cannot give up the fact that by 18 months Isaac recognized all his alphabets. So I tried to push Ziva. But the little fireball resisted all the pushing.
Finally I gave up and switched gears. I phonically taught her the alphabets. We have an alphabet stack set from Baby Einstein. Each alphabet had a few words associated with it. So for instance ... A had apples, aeroplane and alligator. But to get my fireball's attention for longer than two seconds was very hard. I still tried a few alphabets everyday.

Today we came home from some shopping and I had purchased a plastic file that had the word 'PHEASANT' on it. We were sitting around the table eating Katti roll and Ziva was randomly pointing at the alphabets and singing the alphabet song. With minimal expectation I asked her.
Me: 'Ziva where is T for tiger'
Ziva: 'There it is!' pointing correctly to the T. My eyes light up. I look at Suresh ... he has pride floating around him.
Me:'Ziva where is P for Penguin' .....
Ziva moves her finger over the entire word and then points at P: 'There it is!'
Now I am overjoyed. I have a CD with the word MOD written on it.
Me: 'Ziva where is M for monkey'.
Ziva points to O: 'Hmmm thats O' She point to M ...'That W for whaler ' .... I know she got it flipped but Iwas still struggling to control my head growing into the size of a pumkin.
Isaac joins the game.
Isaac: 'Ziva where is D for dog'
Ziva: 'There it is!  D for dog ... D for dinosaur!'

Lesson complete! I could hear  Handel Messiah' Hallelujah in my head

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nursery rhymes are turning over in their grave - Ziva's world

So Ziva has been singing aloud and completely messing up a few nursery rhymes. I am not talking about tune. She get's that alright. But here is her version of Mary had a little lamb.

Mary had a little man... little man

And this morning it was baa, baa black sheep
Baa.. baa black sheep have you any wool.
Yes sir yes sir, Three bags full.
One for  the Diaper and one for the dame.

Sorry Mother goose!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Raising those boys and girls right - A continuation to my woes!

Since I wrote my previous blog about modesty and my little girl, I have had a little conversation with neighbor and awesome conservationist Debjani Banerjee.

Debjani Banerjee Rohini George: i am going to have to argue with you on this. As the "other mother" referred to in the blog, I would have to say that the coach's attitude was extremely problematic and far from fatherly. First, there is an assumption on his part, that if my daughter wears a tank top and shorts, boys will LOOK and then, there is the assumption that if my daughter dresses more "modestly" they will not. The entire "gaze" perverted to use your word, depends on the clothes the woman wears. Unless we are able to condition boys and men differently, this is a vicious cycle and a dangerous argument. The Nirbhaya episode in December had brought this out quite clearly. We can protect our girls as we will continue to do; but this coach's prescription will not make the world safer for them to live.

Rohini George Debjani Banerjee ... completely agree with your argument ... mainly because I am the girl in the tank top, shorts, etc. But I am also beginning to believe that we need to meet the boys/men half way through. Just to be fair to both sexes ... since both you and I have a boy in household

Debjani Banerjee Absolutely Rohini George: which is why I refuse to have them monster-ized (sorry, thats not really a word) --ALL boys will look...that is very problematic. At the same time, boys too, need help to re-position their gaze and their response to girls/women. Hope our girls can inherit a safer world. 

I realized at this point, that the only people Debjani and I could change were our own children. Just like Debjani, I want a safer world for not just my daughter, but also my son. And for this I need my son to respect all women and turn his gaze away when he needs to. I need to tell my daughter that if she does not want to be gazed at, she should not wear clothes that will not cause her to be gazed at and she should be sensible enough to know the difference between a place that is and is no OK.

But that being said ... I remember being completely suited up waiting for the train at the Baltimore Light rail station and got a compliment ... well lets hope we can call it a compliment ... Someone passed by and said ... 'Oh my I think I've seen an angel'. Flattered as I may have been, I felt scared, unsafe and just wanted to get home. I guess this is what Debjani meant when she said ... it was also up to the boys to look away.

Bottom line. I will teach my son to look at women with respect. I will teach my daughter that she cannot get all men to turn their gaze away .. so she needs to be wary of her surroundings. And to give them this lesson, I may have to wait another 8-10 years.
But while I am waiting ...
I urge mother's to talk to their sons. You are the only ones that can make the world safer for all the daughters out there.
I ask all Dad's to teach daughters about self-esteem and that it comes from being a strong woman (not necessarily brave) not giving into the whims of men around.
I ask all mom's to tell their daughters about modesty and individuality (something I struggled with myself).
I ask all dad's to show their sons that being a man is not about showing it on a woman or being part of a mob. Being a man is also about being able to protect the ones you love and since you may not always be around to protect the ones you love, protect the ones others love too! i.e. Take it literally when you make the national pledge 'All Indians are my sisters ... mothers... aunts... '

As Debjani puts it so well - Hope our girls inherit a safer world.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I can see whats happening ... but they don't have a clue ---- Lion King 'Can you feel the love'

I can see what's happening
And they don't have a clue
They'll fall in love and here's the bottom line
Our trio's down to two.

The sweet caress of twilight
There's magic everywhere
And with all this romantic atmosphere
Disaster's in the air

Can you feel the love tonight?
The peace the evening brings
The world, for once, in perfect harmony
With all its living things

--------- Lion King 'Can you feel the love'

And just like .... one more is gone! When I say gone ... I mean married ... in love and gone. We may always be cousins ... but I know that when you are as much in love as he is ... you spend a lot of time on that new relationship. That is the way it should be too!

From Kartik and Vidya with love .... that was the name of their drink on their special evening. A sparkly blue tingly sweet taste on the tongue... just to let you know what the new couple was feeling deep inside as they officially stepped out of courtship into 'married' by law! A fantastic wedding. Beautiful colors, amazing clothes, a ceremony without confusion and with a lot of emotion, the best food ever and of course an awesome night of dance with strangers making it easy to lose all inhibition.

Kartik is my second to last cousin to be married. Yes he had to burden seven cousins on his moms sides getting married. To me he is the scariest, mainly because I have been beaten up by him when I was a kid even though I was 7 or 8 years older than him. That is the story I have told of him again and again. But I think I may now change it to man I know who openly has professed his love more than once to the lady love of his life. 
It isn't often that a man in my family does that. I am so happy to see his boy grow up to become a man who can take love and talk about it so boldly. Rarely do you see a man say he fell flat for his lady love. In this case it seems like it was on first sight. Most of my 'boy' cousins love talking about how their freedom is lost and how they bachelor life is OVER... (Like most of them even had a life)
Kartik has shown himself to be so different and for this I am so happy. 
Happy that he has found his lady love.
Happy that he has the guts to say it out loud.
Happy that he is happy to be in love and married to Vidya.
And Sooo Happy that he gave her kiss in front of an entire crowd of Indian folks. 

The song from Lion King ends with these lines ... 

And if he falls in love tonight
It can be assumed
His carefree days with us are history
In short, our pal is doomed

Cuzzz... you are so doomed in love ...:)

I just had to edit this blog to add a little snippet form Vidya's uncle. Am so happy for those doomed in love

For the record let me state that Vidya is completely bowled over by Karthik! I am so happy for both of them. Even if they are is in their own 'Wonderland' and I am sure they will cherish it for the rest of their lives. 
---- Venkatesh Vasudevan

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The woes of a mother of a girl child

As the mother of a girl child ... I can already feel the pressures of my growing little girl.  Do not worry I am not going to talk about  'Dowry'. And yes Dowry is still a very active and unfortunate custom of our  South Indian community.

But what I want to talk about is 'Modesty'!
When I got to know I was having a girl some 27 months ago, I was like oh no! No please... I love my little girl! Even as I look at her now, while writing this blog, there is a love and adoration that can find no replacement! But having an older brother, the rules would different. Curfews, parties and friends would be under heavy surveillance! Unfortunately true!
Right now I am protective of both my boy and girl ... but my girl ... will always get extra protection as she grows up especially in this perverted world!
I was having a conversation with another mom as her daughter was playing a sport. The coach asked her daughter to change her T-shirt since the sport involved bending down. Boys would look. Why don't boys look away? That was what went through the mind of the mother. But Me --- I was grateful for a coach who had probably seen a daughter in this girl. Whether she needed it or not ... he planned to protect her. Whether the boys were good or not ... he was planning on making sure she was prepared for the bad one!

I am a lover of shorts and and other crazy clothes. I love my sleeveless tops and other things that keep me cool during the summer. How am I going to teach my daughter modesty? I never listened to my mother or father when they told me not to wear a particular dress. Yet here I am 25 odd years later... already worrying about my 23 month old little doll. How will I tell her that being rebellious about certain things may not work for her benefit? How will I tell her that all I want to do is keep her safe?
But I have reached an age when my I do listen to my husband. He rarely tells me not to or to put on a particular kind of dress. Yet I will occasionally get an opinion of how its not appropriate to wear a certain kind of dress in the presence of certain elders. I seem to not mind taking those opinions. Probably with age modesty just naturally grow on. You learn to be aware of who is around you, to be soft when needed and loud when its OK. I may still forget it once in a while. But with a little girl in the house ... guess I got to get my act together

AAAAh the woes of  a mother of a girl child.

Curious Cat: Dayenu wants to know whos reading!

Two and half years later and about 11 thousand hits on my blog. I am still not sure who is reading... who is liking .... what my readers are thinking.
Dear Readers
I would love to hear from you and I would love if you comment on my blog. So please do ... comment ... Please do tell me if you like my blog and /or  agree with my thoughts. I know I may be asking for trouble when I say tell me your thoughts.
I hear a few ladies say ... 'Nice  blog... I wanted to comment but I am not sure how to'. Well just sign into your gmail account and stay signed in when you look at my blog!
I love it when you like my blog on facebook ... but it would mean much more if you give your two cents on the blog directly.

So here is a shout out to all my readers... this Curious cat wants to know who's reading ...why you come back ... where you are you came across my blog ... what state of life your are in (married ... mommy ... etc)  and if you like what your read or you think I am completely crazy ...
Fire away!

Appa and Amma -school --- Homeschool a joint venture!

The term homeschool is a little deceptive. It gives people the idea that school is at home. The end!
But the effort that mom and dad put into its seems to be over or under looked.

Here is an example of a great idea that came up for our school at home.  While I want to share it so other parents can be inspired and use it to teach their own kids, I want to also share how the idea came about.

South america ... with Brazil, Argentina and Peru colored

It was the brain child of my super smart husband Suresh! (Yes he had been a good boy recently ... and so getting a lot of praise words in my blogs)
We have been teaching Isaac the names of countries and their location on the map. I got the idea from friend Veena who has taught her little one Dhruv all the countries in the world before the age of three (and their flags. Right Veena?). Now some kids are great at memorization. Isaac does not fall in that category. You need to get him to relate to what you are trying to teach him. Of course Isaac was not always interested. So I added an interest factor for him. Animals!
Every time I told him a country name I showed him the national bird and animal of that country. We started spot travelling around the globe and pointing out to big countries that were easily recognizable. India being a favourite with the peacock and tiger!

                                Brazil, flag, country, national animal, national bird and traditional costume

Suresh was watching this and decided to add his 'vishesh tippany' (translated: special pointers')
Suresh: Why don't you add more to this?
Me: Like what
Suresh: Show him what the people look like. What is their favourite sport? (because that soccer comes up a lot in South American countries). Tell him what clothes they wear there.
Me in my head ... yeah right that going to happen.
Another thing Suresh suggested. Stop spot travelling ... get organized.

                                                          Venezuela in progress

So this year we started with one continent. It gives me a chance to keep track of what I am teaching Isaac. It also helps to talk about sports and culture because they are normally common for one continent. We started with South America. Brazil, Argentina and Peru were covered in one week. Talking and looking at pictures of people form there.  Coloring the flag with fingers and coloring the country on its own an then in the map of South America. Of course ... you got to have the national animal and birds. It was fun and Isaac wanted to do more.
We had a one week break after that due to a wedding but we are set to get back to Chile, Venezuela and Guatemala!
Its moments like this when I can get creative about teaching Isaac that I love homeschooling.

Peru, Flag, Vicuna, Rock of the cock and a little Peruvian girl dressed up. We learned the names of some new animals too!

I have one more creative idea that I will blog about that has gotten Isaac back on phonics and reading words

                                                 Some finger painting by Isaac ... in progress

.. but lets save that for another blog shall we?

Friday, July 5, 2013

My lucky husband!

Yesterday I realized that my husband was the luckiest man! He had me as a wife!

I was having a conversation with a bunch of girlies across the road (two to be exact) and we got talking about car driving skills.
R: Rohini how long have you been in India? Definitely less than me? How come you drive the car with so much confidence?
I think my head was the size of a really large watermelon.... well its Jackfruit season .. so lets say a really large jackfruit. Well many have told me I do not take compliments very well! So I started to roll in my oversized head's slush!

Me: Well R in the US, we had stick shift cars. Suresh refused to buy automatic car and so both our cars were stick shift. So I am used to the gears. 
(What I should have said was -thank you I am so flattered!)

R: No yaar its not the gears ... you just drive well on the roads. I mean you are not afraid of others on the road.
I think if R sits in the car with me she may become afraid of me!
M: You must have driven before you left for the US. 
I nod a yes.
M: See that makes a big difference. I think I will have the 'L' board on my car all my life.
We all laugh!

Me: Well I have no choice. Suresh wont drive me anywhere. I need anything done I have to go on my own.
R: That's the point ... our husbands have spoilt us! They take us everywhere so we never learn to drive.
Me in my head : Suresh is so lucky!

I turned around and saw the two cars parked grandly in the garage! I quickly turned back
Me: Suresh does leave the car for me. 
Missing from our car park was Suresh's reliable and every puntureable mountain bike!

M: Thats the problem. Our husbands don't leave the cars with us. That's why we don't learn to drive!
I smiled - was I the luckiest girl or what

A few days back the topic of love marriage came up and I mentioned in the presence of three other girlies 'No one would tolerate me the way Suresh does!'

P.S: Suresh ... I am in a good mood ... you better not fight with me this weekend --- love --- your lucky wife ME!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

TMI - Facebook and all the news I give to it.

There was this day when I figured out that I could tag the places I have visited in the world on Facebook. I got finger happy that day and kept adding places I had been to. Now I thought it would show up only if someone checked out my Facebook page... I didn't realize that it would instantly start popping up on my friends updates! A friend of Suresh's spoke to him that weekend and asked Suresh what was wrong with me .... he was worried that I was sharing too much of Facebook. Well I was a bit embarrassed. My intention had not been to gloat about my travels ... or maybe it was.

 Me showing off my baby boy on Facebook or something

What do we share on Facebook? There was this article I read on how we 'lie' on Facebook! I just cannot seem to find that article. But it went on and on about how people write all the fluffy stuff that makes it seem like their life is perfect from the outside.
While I did think that the article was perfectly true ... I prefer it that way. I rather see someone enjoying themselves than see the 'real' picture. It seems to some that they would rather see sadness and reality ... but to me ... I like it when my friends status says 'Great Vacation' at ...' or 'Wonderful meal at ...' or 'Had a breakthrough!' or 'hubby gave me coffee in bed'   or  'kids cleaned up'... I really do not like an update that says 'Depressed' ... or 'Sick' ... If I wanted to hear that I would be calling you and saying hello. I wouldn't be just your Facebook friend.
I like hearing encouraging stories on Facebook. I like seeing my friends get married, have babies and in general be happy. It makes me feel happy when I open my Facebook page and there are pictures of happy people. Occasionally I do not mind supporting an animal abuse page ... and I know the pictures may be sad.   But I like happy pictures ... smiling faces .... engagement rings and healthy babies. And I hope I myself to tell you about my happy travels... wonderful hubby ... great cup of coffee  ...  wonderful new shoes and perfect kiddos. So please expect TMI (too much info) on Facebook ... detailed blogs and hopefully happy stories from me.

I was recently at a dry pastel classes and the ladies were talking about how we do the slightest things and put it on Facebook. It is funny ... and I enjoy the laugh!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homeschool June 2013 - Why would you do that to yourself?

Why would you do that to yourself?
I have been asked this again and again! I can see homeschooling is more accepted now. I don't get strange stares or weird looks anymore. It does seem like more people sympathize with me though.
At a friend's kids birthday party. I got 'Why would you do that to yourself?'  and 'I commend you for doing it'
Its not like I am fighting in the army -  guys. I know schooling your child is not everybody's cup of tea. But its not that hard. Also I have excellent help! Both hubby and my maid are good resources at giving me the break when I need it ... as I need it.
Besides I like schooling Isaac. He is an great learner. He does have his annoying moments, but if I can associate anything with an animal and teach him... he absorbs it like a coffee filter!

                                                      (Photo credit ... Veena aunty ... In think)

I had not expected to do much in June. Suresh was travelling for 13 days and I had planned not to push myself. But the two weeks Suresh was away worked out rather well. Ziva took a nap every morning for about 45 minutes, which gave me some time with Isaac. You may think 45 minutes is a short time ... but to a pre-schooler its seems infinite.
I found a ton of workbooks from Reliance with incentives - STARS (I will write a separate blog on the stars.) and it is helping me work through things systematically and stay organized. We started June with stuff Isaac already knew.We covered phonically pronouncing alphabets. There were a couple of books that went from A-Z simply asking the child to guess the word.
Of course Isaac did fabulously and got a star on each page. I guess it was good boost to his confidence. Since he does not like phonics .... getting the confidence back into him was a big deal.  I tried rhyming words after this and he did not take to it. So we jumped to ending alphabets. I did not know that it was hard for child to understand what sound a word ends with. He knew starts with ... he did not know ends with! But a couple of tries and he figured that one too.
One great success was match the columns. A nice workbook which I got a year ago from D- Mart had words on one side and pictures to match up on the other side. I really have no idea what gets the kick going in kids, but drawing a line from a picture to the word got Isaac all excited. He kept asking to do more and more. In the process I realized that he had memorized a few sight words like 'Owl' and 'Orange'.
Then there were numbers. I left him with a tracing sheet on 1 to 10 and when I returned they were all very neatly traced. Tracing I realize goes very well on some days and poorly on other days. If caught on a good day he would trace anything I asked him to. On a bad day he would doodle with his pencil. I guess doodling is acceptable for a 3.5 year old.
Isaac was already done with capital letters and so it was time for little letters. I decided that since he loved finger painting so much, I would try letting him trace with his fingers. I printed out an alphabet and let him paint it with his fingers. He had a blast and we were going through two and three alphabets a day. I believe tracing with the fingers gives a child a lot of control over his movements. By this time Ziva would be awake and would join us in finger painting. Ziva would paint capital alphabets.
Then there was plenty to read. Now Isaac loves reading the same story again and again. I decided I would read at least one new story everyday to him. Thanks to one gigantic book from Veena Aunty and some book sharing with Sonal Aunty we have a full stock of books. I haven't been able to keep up my one -new story a day ... but we got a good number a new stories going.
There was 'Snappy the Crocodile' ... 'The elephant child' and tons of Aesops fables.  Isaac has definitely increased in patience as far as listening to stories that are couple pages long with fewer pictures in them. I may be getting a little ahead of myself when I say ... that he is very close to sitting through a chapter of Narnia pretty soon. But I am so excited for him. Thanks to Kanchan Aunty ... I now know how to grasp if he has understood the story. He loves summarizing them to Ziva and I even occasionally get asked if I want to eat some 'Crocodile'. This brings me to role play.
While Ziva, at 20 months has started role play, Isaac has only recently gotten into it. He loves playing 'me'.
'Ziva sit in one place and listen' ....'Ziva you dont want to learn?' ....
But the best so far is Isaac turning on his imaginary gas at a coffee table and making me crocodile fry. He even pours the oil into the pan the way I do! Clumsily!

We also managed to complete two craft projects. Well I guess they were my projects that Isaac helped with by hand stamping them. A father's day card for Suresh and a birthday scrap book for best bud Dhruv.

There is a lot more to talk about ... but I wont bore you ... I guess you get he point when I say for the month of  June ... homeschool was very satisfying.