Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review - The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

There are some books which touch your heart even before you have actually read it. One such book definitely has to be The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. I read the brief and I instantly connected with the book.



This book tells us about an 'ordinary girl' and her pet (her best friend). How they plan to make the most magnificent thing... They plan and get to work. Will they succeed will they not? What if they don't? What will be this 'Most Magnificent Thing'. You have to read it to see how amazing this book is.

The book talks about planning, invention, failure, success, ideas and execution. More than all this girl it is a story about a very young girl who doesn't know when to give up and why to give up. I loved the simplicity and the awesomeness of the book. The girl and her assistant are the best. The illustrations are beautiful and take the story forward. For Z, this book came at the right time, she is just learning that if you aren't able to do something, it doesn't make you a failure... till you keep trying.

Z loves the book, she has already read it a few times and she has a big smile on her face whenever she reads the book.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why I chose an Elementary Montessori for Z?


Image Courtesy: Google

 
Z, who is now a confident 6 year old, introduced me to the world of Montessori education. She joined this amazing House of Children in June 2013, and she literally blossomed into someone who is curious, confident, independent and aware (for her age); into someone who likes learning.  She doesn’t need to be entertained; she loves her company as much as of her friends and family. 
 
Now, that she will be completing almost 4 years in her current school, it is time to bid adieu to one of the most amazing schools (not just Montessori). Siksha Montessori (her current school), unfortunately, doesn’t offer Elementary Montessori.

Last September, Z got admitted in a very good school and we had decided to go ahead with the same. It seemed like the perfect choice for us, many of the kids who come to MLCB go to this school and I received a positive feedback. Besides, it was walking distance from our home and my work place.

When she went to give the entrance test and interaction, she did fare well; but seemed a little lost. We decided, it is a new environment and she will adjust easily. She was also looking forward to join this new big school.  

One thing that was bothering us was that she was already reading chapter books, doing multiplication, carry forward and borrowing, she knows about most parts of speech, she has also read so much about the world around us, space, environment, animals etc. Wouldn’t she get bored in a regular school environment? Yet, we were happy with our decision.

Then out of nowhere, we got a pamphlet about an Open House in an Elementary Montessori. Now, we did receive a couple of information pamphlets about Elementary Montessori schools, and since we had decided to go ahead with the big school, we weren’t paying heed to any information brochures. This one stood out, and since, the open house was on a Saturday, we decided, my husband and Z would visit the school, just to look around (my Saturdays are busy, hence I couldn’t). When they came back, both of them had liked the environment a lot. We decided to fill the application, just like that and we did. When after a month we went for an interaction, we learned about the approach and the school, we really liked it.

What stood out for us was how our little girl blended in with the environment. Usually, when she enters a new environment, she takes her own sweet time to open up, but here, she was, talking to adults, roaming around in the environment, and just happy to be there. She owned the place. That was an eye opener for us, we knew, we should choose a place where she is happy, and if she is happy, we will be happy.

That was the day; we finalized our decision and enrolled her. For us, it was like making a decision between two good choices, yet, we didn’t have to think twice about our final decision.

Z will join her elementary school in end of May Insha’Allah, and we can’t wait. She is sad (make it very sad) about leaving Siksha, but she is happy to join her new school.

I have no doubt that Z would have been ‘just fine’ in the other school, but is that ‘just fine’ enough?


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A little guilt is good for health

Guilt strikes when you least expect it, actually, when you don't want it to. 

Picture this... I just have the busiest days coming up, some trainings, and Montessori classes. I was happy, and actually was looking forward to meeting and training new people. Wham! Z gets sick, starts with a stomach upset, bad throat, followed by fever. 

What do I do? Thankfully, this time, the decision was 'slightly' easy than what it could've been. Courtesy Fizz, he had taken a week off from work, and I felt so relieved. Every single morning, before leaving them, I felt pathetic, and that's to put it mildly. My thoughts kept going back to Z and I checked my phone every time I could. Fizz, on the other hand was the best, he just made sure he didn't let anything affect me and my work. He tried his best, and it was making me feel great and guilty at the same time.

Z, on the other hand, was at her best behavior. She was feeling bad, as she felt, because of her, my work was getting affected. I ensured her, that's not the case, but she's a big girl now... She understands things. Alhamdulillah, Z is fine now, and I just feel better myself.

This happens all the time, and I guess, it makes me (us) stronger. Every mother, working or not working, has to go through so much on an everyday basis. In fact, any parent who is hands on, goes through so much. Guilt, is not good for us, but if at the end of the day, you have a beautiful family who supports you, no problem is big enough. Besides, when Z tells me "Mumsy, you're the best, and I'm so proud of you," I can't ignore her words.

Friday, November 25, 2016

6th Birthday Letter to Z

Dearest Z,
Every passing year has revealed something new about you.... You've surprised me like nothing has and nothing will, but one thing remained constant for the past 6 years now, you have always been my Rock star.
I try and try really hard every day to celebrate you as an individual, because for us as parents, that's very important. You might look like me (I believe you're way better looking) but you're your own person, own individual and for me there's nothing better than to celebrate 'Zoe' on your 6th. These 6 years of Z-Ness have made my life Z-full. I love your special ways that make you just you:



    • The way you can go on talking for hours and nothing/no one can stop you. 
    • The way small changes scare you (like your haircut) and you accept big things so easily (like sleeping all by yourself at night).
    • You're the happiest with your books, and how you love to smell the pages of a new book. 
    • You can do cartwheels but hate it when I say "Ride the bike without your training wheels"
    • You can twist your face in any direction but cannot give a decent smile in front of the camera.
    • Your unconditional love shows us how to accept and love people around you. 
    • The way you get upset when I purposely forget to say "I love you" and kiss you goodnight. 
    • You're my best workout partner who keeps pushing me. 
    • The way your face lights up when we say ice-cream. 
    • The way you love your school and are on the verge of tears when I say "Siksha isn't the best school"... You know I'm lying don't you? You are so scared to graduate from Siksha in couple of months, but then you're also looking forward to join the new school.
    • You can do anything to please me, even though I don't want you to do that. 
    • You love watching movies like mom and dad, and make sure you don't waste a lot of time in front of the television, because if you do you'll not get to watch the one movie you watch every month.
    • How you've read Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as Fantastic Mr. Fox again and again... Then there are days when you just want to read Julia Donaldson books one more time... just because you say she's still your favourite.
    • How you make a fuss when I tell you what's for lunch or dinner and then eat it without creating any problem.
 These are just a handful out of a huge pile of things you do which have 'Zoe' written all over it.



Something that I loved about being your mom is the fact that everyday, I learn something new from you... Thanks Z, you have been my favourite teacher. Here are a few things you have helped me learn:

  • No matter how much you try, you'll make lots of mistakes as a parent, but guess what.... you're the best parent for your child.  
  • Becoming a parent has made me treasure the smallest of moments. I no longer look for happiness in big things, I can be very happy with little things in life. I treasure every moment, I cherish them, I love creating these little memories. If not for Z, I wouldn't have been able to understand this little (but very important) fact of life. And of course, with the child growing up at a super speed, you don't have any other option left.... Do you?
  • Never give up!
    I've seen her struggle when she really wants to do something and finds it difficult. Like the egg and spoon walk she's mastered or the cartwheel. Then they're things she thinks she isn't ready for and she won't do it, till she's convinced.
  • Smile! Z loves to smile (Alhamdulillah) she can smile at the smallest of things. The pets, her books, a tickle, dance moves, music, her school, her friends.... and so much more. You don't need a huge reason to smile.
  • Every day is a new day.... whatever happens good or bad, she starts every day with the same zest and energy!
  • Live in the present... Kids live for the moment, they don't bother about their past or the future. All they are worried about is the moment. Isn't that the best life lesson?
  • DREAM and Dream BIG
    Z has such a vivid imagination.... she believes in dreaming about seemingly impossible things.... she says "you see Mumsy... it'll happen" and it does. She made me a bit of a dreamer myself.
  • Love unconditionally
    When she loves someone, she doesn't hold back. Her parents, her friends, her teacher, her school, her cousin, her aunts anyone....
  • Stay Curious! When you don't know the answer... Ask... Z never lets anyone stop her, if she has to know something she will ask. We try to give her as many answers as possible. Besides many other things I love this about her.
  • Don't judge people... if Z hears anyone say anything negative about a person she needs to know the reason. She cannot, just cannot say something inappropriate about someone when she can't justify it. For her, she prefers seeing the goodness of people around her. For us, we can comment in an inappropriate manner about anyone just based on our assumptions. Do we even know that person well enough, that we start judging them?
  • No wound, no hurt, no pain, no tragedy is big enough.... Everything can be turned right with a little kiss and a warm big hug! 
  • Never do something that isn't you... Z is someone who loves being herself. No matter what... She love being Z and I just love that about her, I hope she stays the same, will keep her away from stupid peer pressure (looking back, I realise I was pretty much the same and Alhamdullilah I had a pleasant childhood and pretty decent teenage years)
  • Grudges are a waste of time...
    I was unfortunately someone who doesn't forget easily and I did hold grudges. I just wasn't able to let go. Z entered in my life and I saw how things or what happens between 2 people, wasn't not crucial, people are more important. Such an important lesson for someone like me.
  • When you've tried hard enough, it's ok to ask for help. Z is a girl who gives everything she tries her best, but we're humans and we are bond to be not so good at many things, she knows when she can't figure out things, she can ask for help. I now know, this holds true for me as well. I'm more open and ask for help when I get stuck.
  • Friends are very important. There are some friends Z has had for a few years now, most of her school friends, and her 2 best buddies. Z believes in making friends from both the genders and she loves them to bits. Her favourite is her school friend N. ZnN argue, play, fight and then make up. I love seeing them together.
  • Carpe diem!
    Another very powerful lesson. We adults have a terrible habit of ruining the moment we're living in. As a parent and an entrepreneur, I have so many things going around, and I forget to live in the moment. Children aren't like that. Z has shown me how important it is to seize the day/moment you're living in.
  • Anytime is a good time to dance.... Even if it's in the middle of the night. Actually, I always believed in the power of dance, but I used to think that's just me. Z taught me, you don't need a reason to dance....
  • It's ok to show your emotions, it's ok to cry till you feel better, it's ok to laugh till you cry.... it's ok to feel scared or confident... it's ok to be jealous and it's ok to correct yourself and remind yourself that being jealous will take you nowhere. It's ok to show you're angry and it's ok to be be mellow and zone out at times... we should not let these emotions rule our lives though. No wonder Inside Out is our favourite movie

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: Thank You, Mr. Falker

I'm a huge fan of Patricia Polacco, and Z is slowly catching up. Thank You, Mr. Falker, is the first book by Polacco she has read. 


The book is about a little girl Trisha, her family, especially her grand dad is really excited about the fact that Trisha will soon start reading, as she is about to enter big school. Trisha loves books, and she wants to read, but how much ever she tries, she is unable to read. 

Trisha and her granddad


In the middle of all this, her grandparents die and she moves cities (and schools) with her mom and brother. In the new school, her problems increase, her classmates call her dumb.
Enter Mr. Falker and he not only helps Trisha learn to read, he changes her life as well. He gave her life a direction.

What Z and I loved about the book, besides the beautiful story, was the fact that Trisha's story is the real life story of Patricia Polacco, yes; and the difficulties she faced in school. I also loved the way how the word 'dyslexia'* is not used once in the book and without being too preachy she put forth her story in such a beautiful manner.

Trisha and Mr. Falker

This story brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it, and when I read it to Z, she said nothing, she just hugged me.

This book unfolds a beautiful story, a page at a time. I struggled while reading as a child and that is the reason, today I teach kids to read and to love books. I understand Trisha's frustrations and how she feels helpless. My problems were nothing in front of this girl.

This book has to be a part of every children library and every classroom. Teachers have to read it out loud to the class and believe me, you will be surprised at the way children will react.

As a treat, you can see this beautiful narration of my favorite story:


*Polacco struggled a lot in school because of an un-diagnosed dyslexia, You can watch this video about her struggles here. Her life changed at the age of 14 years when she met the real Mr. Falker.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book Review- Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School

There are many reasons why we picked Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School for Z.

Z will be entering class I next year, Z loves her hair, and of course, the central character has a very very special first name :).


I was eyeing this book for a long long time, and finally I got it at a great discount on Amazon.The book is written by Laurie Halse Anderson, and is beautifully beautifully illustrated by Ard Hoyt. Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is a book about Zoe Fleefenbacher, her entry in big school and her hair which have a mind of their own.



Zoe loves her pre-school and her teacher. Her teacher let Zoe's hair help her carry out a lot of tasks in the class. Things change when Zoe enters 1st grade. Where her teacher, Ms. Trisk, says "Her hair needs to be tamed, First Grade has rules". She tries everything to tame Zoe's hair, Zoe hates it when Ms. Trisk tries to tie her hair, but she cannot say anything, First Grade has rules you know!


Will Ms. Trisk be successful in taming Zoe's hair? Or will she fall in love with them like Zoe Fleefenbacher's Kindergarten teacher. 

You will have to read it to know what fun is in store for you. 

According to Z "Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is the best book I have read this month Mumsy, I just cannot stop laughing. I am just like Zoe Fleefenbacher"