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A Box of Colours & A Lifetime of Memories

Dear V,

I know how much you love your kalaloo. Yes, at two, that’s what you call colours, no matter where you see them. In the books, in your box of crayons, in your clothes, your play dough at the traffic light and almost everywhere else, you have an adorable habit of noting the colours.

Remember these lovely colourful pencils I gave you yesterday? You loved them from the moment you set your eyes on it. You will use them a lot over the next few weeks, and months, I hope. But let me tell you a little story about them.

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Yesterday I parted with the colour pencil set that Baba (my and not yours) had bought me from England 18 years back. It was a big thing then. Not like you when you thanks to your Baba got your baby-friendly cloth rattler from Amsterdam and your first walkie-talkie from Singaoore (which as of this date you are yet to use). Back in the day I think that was Baba’s first international work trip and I remember being thrilled to bits waiting for him to return. Because every time Baba went on a trip, he always returned with gifts for Maa, my brother and me. So when he opened up his suitcase (which we bought for this trip), out came the goodies! Baba had bought us (Mama and me) three sets of these colour pencils. And when we were in school I used them to carefully colour my study maps. Mama, I suspect lost them in his boarding school. At least I don’t remember seeing his set. All the more reason why I guarded my colours from him! But you don’t need to learn that. Tomorrow, if you have a sibling, I would love you to share your things with your sibling. J

Colour Pencil 2

So this was the spare colour pencil set; so pretty it was that I loved seeing them packed and preserved. I am sure back then I never thought of you. I didn’t know that one day I would have a beautiful baby who would love playing with colours. I didn’t know that you would first display your ambidexterity with these very colours. Here my boy, enjoy your kalaloo. Go and paint your world. Gee, Lello & Pulpul these are just some of your favourite colours.

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No need to preserve them like I did, because as you grow up you will need a lot many colours to brighten your life. Colour your days. Your growing up. Colour your childhood. Colour your memories and mine. Don’t worry, you will never run out of kalaloo. For, if they do, I will bring them all for you, my love.

Always Yours,

Mum-um

 

Give a child a box of colours and you will see the brightest smile as pretty as a rainbow.

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0

Agle Janam Mujhe Daddy Banayiyo

Okay, so this one is a polite makeover of a song and television soap title. I know I may be grammatically wrong, because I have dared to marry Urdu, Hindi and English, so please overlook the syntax and semantics here. What I mean to say can be translated as, “(Dear God) Please make me a Father in my next birth!”

ImageWhat’s wrong with being a mother? Well, there is nothing wrong really. I love being a mother and I can play this role all over again, every time I am born again. But yes, for my next birth I would like to be a dad!

Now don’t read too much into my desire. It is not (necessarily) born out of habit and a belief that fathers have it easy. I am not saying this because fathers usually don’t have to do all the dirty work mothers do. I am not saying this because dads don’t have to feed, bathe their kiddies all through the week. I am not saying this because dads don’t have to deal with an ugly baby flab post the baby. I am not saying this because dads have to stay up all night, night after night, week after week and month after month. I am not saying this because dads usually don’t have to deal with the schism between hearth and work. I am not saying this because of anything…but one thing…

Dads know how to win hearts!

Read the rest of the post on Parentous

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I hate dog eared pages, stained pages, broken spines and books that show visible signs of disregard.  My heart goes out to books that are peddled in second hand book stores. To me, they are like ageing parents shunted out homes to fend for themselves. But like I don’t run an old-age home, I don’t go bringing second hand books every now and then. I need to be convinced that it is a rare, out of print book for me to be compelled enough to buy it.

Of course, this argument doesn’t hold true for books I have inherited from my parents. One of the perks of having parents who read is that some of those habits pass on in the genes. So all the good habits regarding reading and loving books have been seriously passed on. So when I see my two year old ripping up a spine I cringe in pain! This is the third book that he has managed fo rip apart despite my brave attempts to keep his exploratory claws away from them! V likes to read. Let’s say he likes to be read. He turns the pages, looks up pictures and sometimes makes up his own stories. But how do I teach him to be gentle with his books?

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I try and buy mostly board books for him because at his stage they are easy to handle. But then there are a few paperbacks. On most occasions I am able to protect them, but then in his eagerness to explore the books he often tends to get rough. I have tried talking to him through it,  saying that a book feels hurt when torn and that we are friends and we should love our books. I am not sure it is working! A significant part of raising a reader bis to instill in him a love and respect for his books. I am not making any headway in that direction yet!

SOS! Anyone who can help me?

2

Fun with Pipe Cleaners

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Let me tell you the truth. I hadn’t heard or seen anything strangely called as pipe cleaners until very recently. What is it anyway? And how do they clean pipes? Until a little research told me that these actually act like brushes to clean smoking pipes. The same pipes are adapted for children’s’ craft where these beauties bend and bow to form shapes and patterns.

I discovered them first on Pinterest and then at V’s summer camp. So when I found pipe cleaners at our craft store, I happily pocketed them for later use.

Pipe cleaners have a thin wire wrapped in polyester and nylon. These pipes come in bright colours, making these attractive playthings for kids. The wire inside can be bent easily without the use of any force. Which is why they are open to be shaped into varied things. We began by bending the wires to form a few shapes. V was clearly not interested. But when I made a balloon, like the one below, his eyes lit up! So there…I had his attention!

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So what did I do next? Made spectacles for Pintu & Pluto. V agreed that they looked really good. It was quite a struggle to keep the glasses in place though, because they would keep falling off much to V’s chagrin! We were well into the breakfast and V was finally having enough fun to sit.

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Pipe cleaners are an excellent resource for early literacy. V has recently picked up the numbers 1-10 and on a good day he follows the sequence. On most other days, it goes like “1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9”.

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We haven’t formally taught numbers. So his voluntary learning is a great starting point for me. Recently at the book fair I bought a book called One, two, count with Pooh. Which kid doesn’t love Pooh? V has many Pooh merchandise, a mug, balls, a stuffed Pooh, so these books have a high recall for him. This one is all about numbers with Pooh as the central character. It is a simple flap book that has numbers 1- 5.

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All I had to do is ask V which number he wanted me to make. He’d give me a number and I would bend the pipe cleaner to make the number. I realised that the pipe cleaner is an excellent resource to teach writing as well. Next up, he matched every number I formed with the corresponding number in the book.

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Recently, I wrote a post on Parentous about how I find inspiration from so many awesome mommies on the web. In my pursuit to finding fun activities for V, I found myself on Pinterest more than usual. And what a brilliant social network it is! From food, to education, to activities and crafts Pinterest should be your go-to resource if you have a child, no matter what age!

So remember to look up Pinterest and don’t forget to follow me. 🙂

If you are looking for more pipecleaner ideas look up this.

Not enough? Craving for more? Here are some more amazing pins for pipecleaner activities. 

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And if that is not enough, then check out this Google Hangout video hosted by Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art. Here you will find some more amazing ideas for pipe cleaner activities from mommy bloggers in the UK.

Remember the Havells Ad where the kids bend wires to form tongs and necklaces? What a wonderful piece of commercial! Not just does it promote a particular feature of a brand but also shows the sheer ingenuity that kids have. Pipecleaners remind me of the commercial…just another wire unleashing creativity.

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Looking for Momspiration!

Like most other nights, our pillow talk last night was about V. The father of the child asked, “When does V start studying?” Don’t get him wrong. He is the last soul on the planet who will push his ‘about-to-turn-two’ son into academics. His concern was purely out of ignorance, because he knows little about this whole pre-school, nursery business. “But he is learning na? See how he has picked up numbers himself?” I said. “Oh yes, I love what you are doing with him! You are making learning so much fun and you are doing it in so many ways!”

I tucked the boy tighter and said softly, “Thank You!”

So what am I doing really? I picked up these ‘pipe cleaners’ from the local craft store recently. Last month at the book fair I picked up a whole lot of books, one being about learning numbers with Pooh. I put the two things together and created a whole new game for him where we formed numbers and played with it.

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The father of course has never heard of pipe cleaners. He also didn’t how they can be used to make numbers a fun game for our son. Or alphabets. Or crafts. Or art. You see, he doesn’t go looking for ‘Momspiration’!

MOMSPIRATION = MOMS FOR INSPIRATION

Oh, it’s totally my own creation. The word, that is, so don’t go searching for it in a dictionary. I use this term to describe some awesome resourceful moms I follow (almost stalk) for daily inspiration. I call it stalking, because I follow them virtually in every online space possible – blogs, to FB, to Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+!

These are amazing moms from around the globe who are constantly tinkering with children, education, creativity, play and imagination. These are mothers who make childhood and motherhood so much fun!

Head over to Parentous to read the rest of the post. 

6

Toy Review: Hamleys Wooden Blocks

Just when a baby learns to sit up he needs toys that he can hold, move, bang, stack and throw. One of my favourite pastime was to watch V  handle his toys. So when he moved from infancy to babyhood, and he was done with rattlers, I bought him a stack of blocks. In four primary colours and in 8 shapes, these plastic blocks have been our companions ever since V turned 7 months.  Recently I used them to make colour flashcards for V…but that’s another post.

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I didn’t have to teach V how to use them. He pretty much figured it out himself that these blocks in decreasing size go one inside another. He discovered that a big block doesn’t go inside a small block and that if he breaks the pattern and sequence  some blocks will stay out.

Blocks help a child develop motor skills. Holding these blocks,  moving them around and stacking them one above the other stimulates their concentration,  adaptation and learning skills.

When we walked into Hamleys for the first time,  and I had recovered from the visual delight of what a toy world looks like, I went looking for toys for V. I had been looking for wooden toys for a while and then I saw these wonderful wooden blocks.

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Like most blocks available, these blocks come in bright colours. And each of the 5 sides have been optimally used to paint alphabets, words, numbers and images. There are 10 blocks in all for numbers 1-10 and alphabets a-j.

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Hamleys suggests these blocks for kids over 12 months. And the pictures will tell you why. Individually these wooden blocks are easy to hold. The large ones can get bulky for young kids.  So if you have a child who has just learnt to walk,  then it is a good idea to keep a close watch. What we like about these blocks is that they are light. A year old child can easily handle these blocks one at a time. He can move them around, and the smooth wooden finish ensures there aren’t any nasty splinters playing spoilt sport.

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I find these blocks very child friendly. They are great learning tools for early literacy. V is now 2 years old and he is just beginning to count and identify numbers. So while he can read numbers 1-10, these blocks help us count and identify how each number looks. I agree, for alphabets the learning stops at j…but then I look at these blocks as a starting point in literacy.

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Trust a child to find utility! So when he is tired of learning numbers, he conveniently stacks these blocks to make a multi-level car garage for his baby cars.

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And sometimes they are used as boats for V’s animals…Pooh, Hamba (Kiddie-Bangla for cow) Froggie and Doggie.

Hamleys has priced these blocks at Rs 1499…a little steeply priced considering that their utility as a learning aid for alphabets is limited. However despite this shortcoming,  I would suggest them for early learning and pre-school kids. Considering V often drops and rough handles these blocks, they have neatly borne the falls tull now. So barring the few chipped paints here and there I know these blocks can be handed down to cousins and shared with friends.

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Here’s how we rate the Hamleys Wooden Blocks on a scale of 5:

Looks: 5

Purpose: 4

Longevity: 5

Durability: 4

Utility: 5

Price: 3

What learning toys do you like to buy for your kids?  Do you let your child pick her toys? Do you buy toys that let a child improvise and use imagination in his play?

Did you find this review useful? We would love to hear from you.

We consider our toys very precious. They are our playmates and we handpick our friends very carefully. Our reviews are borne out of our experiences and are completely unbiased.

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Dear Son, Happy Teachers’ Day!

Oh! So it is teachers’ day. Two years down the line, I think there is a long, long way before I graduate from Mommy School. Looking at my parents in their 50’s and 60’s, I wonder if one ever graduates from parenthood! Needless to say that this has been the most active phase of my entire life with never a dull moment. So my darling V, thank you for being the most awesome teacher in my life. Greater than my parents, than the teachers through school and college, greater than life itself!

Happy Teachers' Day

Dear V, thank you for making me,

… a better person,

…more patient,

… more creative (after all, I created you!),

…a better child,

… a willing multi-tasker,

…a not-so-efficient superwoman,

… a wanna-be story teller,

… a not-so-boring workaholic,

… more ambitious,

… a mompreneur,

… a writer,

… a student,

… a teacher,

…. a child (again),

… believe that life is about the small joys,

… see the utility of an empty bowl,

… play like a small child,

… babble like a baby,

… look at the world through your eyes,

… more responsible,

… more adventurous,

… more loving,

… more happy,

… more fat,

… more messy,

… non-organised,

… more rushed,

… more late,

… more happy,

… more content,

…cry more,

… laugh more,

… worry more,

… love more.

Thank you, my darling kiddo, thank you for choosing me to be your student.

Lots of love…may there be more and better lessons down the years,

Mum-um