Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015...the year the was.

I did start blogging actively in 2015, but unfortunately, I was not able to keep the momentum going. Overall this was a good year, though we as a family did have to go through two huge losses in the year. My dad-in-law and my grand mom expired, this meant, I had to explain the concept of death to Z. We were able to do pretty well on that front, she did get a little upset though.

Professionally, Alhamdullilah, I did pretty well. I did start a kid's reading library of my own, I realized a childhood dream. It is not easy to balance entrepreneurship and mommiehood, but it is not impossible, actually it is absolutely worth it.

Enough about me, since the name of this blog is Being Zoe's Mum, let us talk about the person whose always in spotlight, at least as far as BZM is concerned. Here are a couple of things which happened in 2015:
  • We graduated to chapter books, we still don't want to let go of our picture books (Mum hopes we never do that). Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Amelia Bedelia Chapter books are our favorite. 
  • We visited Mussoorie, such a beautiful beautiful place. 
  • We made lots of new friends.
  • We got a new hangout, the Reading Room (Oh! I love that place, I can sit there for hours)
  • We had our first dental operation, and everyone says I was super brave
  • We had our first birthday party
  • We turned 5 (yay!)

I hope 2016 turns out to be totally rocking, happy and super healthy for Z, Fizz & Me. Here's wishing the same for all of you.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't forget to relax with a cup of coffee/tea and a book

Tuesdays are our days of bonding, I don't work on Tuesdays and without daddy, both of us are left to ourselves... we love that. We go for movies, lunch dates, shopping and have a lot of fun. Last Tuesday, when I picked Z up, I asked her "So, what's the plan?" She thought for a couple of seconds and replied "Let's just relax at home Mumsy"... and relax we did.

We chatted, read, called for a pizza, listened to some music, build a lego house and just 'lounged' around the house. No agenda, no deadlines, no hurry nothing. When I read a book to Z at bedtime and I kissed her goodnight, she smiled and said "I loved doing lots of fun stuff with you today Mumsy." Those lines echoed in my ears even after Z was fast asleep. I realized how much I enjoyed doing nothing with my Little Miss. Actually we did a lot of things in those hours of doing nothing... we laughed, we danced, we shared, we read, we enjoyed those moments. That day, after a long time I realised the importance of doing nothing.

No one can deny the fact that parents have a huge role to play in shaping the personality of a child. You do a lot of things for the child to learn and understand the way of life, things, which will benefit them in the long run. I have a long list of stuff, I tell Z. We have so much to achieve as parents (and otherwise) that we forget the best things life has to offer.

An imporant life lesson I would like to pass on to Z is "Don't forget to relax with a cup of coffee/tea and a book..." Life is too short to constantly stay on the go. Go out there and achieve what you want to, but once in a while (every other day) do not forget to take out a few minutes to just sit doing absolutely and completely NOTHING.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

5 Amazing years of Z-Ness

Dearest Darling Z or Mini-Me,
5th birthdays have a huge hype around them, like your firsts. It's supposed to be a birthday where a little child suddenly turns into a big boy or girl, but I remember you have been trying to prove that you have become a big girl from the time you were born. I dare not call you a tot or a baby, because you get super offended. You still are a baby in so many ways... so the big girl tag will have to wait for a few years...
So, my dear 'little girl' (hope that gets approved), you have come a long way... In fact, we have come a long way. 5th birthday has to be super special, and it'll be exactly that and much more.

Z, you're a little girl who has a personality of your own. We cannot make you do something until you're completely convinced. The way you react in a situation amazes me. You are someone who never cease to surprise me (us). Each day you show us, how you can independently handle things you were unable to just a few months back.
Sometimes, you just say something and I have no choice but to marvel at your intelligence. Your thoughts, and the way you put things across just leaves me stunned. And then, all of a sudden, you become a little baby, craving for attention, laughing at the silliest things, enjoying the simplest of things and just love being the baby you still are (oops I'm sorry).
You're super smart (Alhamdulillah) and you're also extremely naive as well. When I compare many other 5 year olds with you, I clearly see that. You don't whine the whole day long, the boy v/s girls thing hasn't touched you a bit (I'd like to take credit for that), you don't hit, pull, bang, you're moody but never disobedient.
In short sweety, you're my rock star (have always been, will always be).
Your love for books and reading is something that's stayed with you from the time you were a little baby. Your books are one of your best buddies. In fact your love for books just keeps growing. From The Hungry Caterpillar to Dahl and Enid Blyton, you have come a long way.
You're a skinny little girl who loves to eat anything and everything we eat. That's an achievement for us as parents. You like junk, but before we have to remind you, you remind yourself it's not healthy.
You're Mumsy's little helper in every way. You help me at home as well as at the centre. This is something I just love about you (besides many others). You just love helping everyone (not just me). The reason being, you love limelight, but nonetheless, you are my best helper.
The little shy Z is going away, and I see a more a confident you emerge every single day.
You are pretty head strong and you have almost perfected the art of expressing what is not acceptable. No, don't get me wrong, you're not a difficult child, in fact, you have been quite a blessing (Alhamdulillah). You're headstrong, and I love you for that. I'm strong willed as well and I love to see that element in you.
That doesn't make you any less sensible. In fact, the other day I was observing you at Hamley's. A big reason why you visit Hamley's is because there's a tub of water with pretend fish and other sea creatures in that. You love playing with them. That day, a boy pulled out all the fish you were playing with. You didn't fight, you patiently waited for your turn. When he pulled the fish again, you politely said 'Please can we share?' and you did get what you wanted, the way you wanted it. I was so proud of you.
I try to be a mum who is your friend when needed, but you should always remember me as your mum first. The reason is simple, you'll have many friends, but I'm the only mom you'll have.
Fizz and me have a message for you.
Here are a few 'words of wisdom' from your Mumsy:
a. You can be anything you want. Just respect yourself and love your self for who/what you are.
b. This world is full of different kind of people... good, not so good, silly, smart, et al. People might want to judge you, might want to put you in their own mold... Don't fall in that trap. NEVER. Don't let people bother you, its not worth it.
c. You have your opinions, others have theirs. Don't force yours on others, don't shy away from expressing your opinions as well.
d. Never change yourself, just because someone else would like it that way.
e. We are individuals first, then boys and girls. You, as an individual are special, and no less. Society has set certain stereotypes, follow them if you like, break them if you wish.
f. Peer pressure will take you no where. 
Here's what Fizz wants to say, "Stay who you are, don't change yourself for anyone."
Always always always remember your Mumsy and Fizzy are right besides you when you need us. Some people might claim they love you more than your parents... Not true.

Happy Birthday once more girl.... Keep Rocking and May Allah Ta'ala bless you always
Lots of Love 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Unconventional Mom: That's me

I'm a pretty unconventional mom, I feel like that because I hardly see or read about moms like me. I do see some of the likes of me around me, and those are the ones I connect with instantly (mostly).
Definition of a Mom has changed over the years (and thank God for that).

I can fight with Z for that last piece of chocolate, its just that I don't like chocolates.
I let Z get bored, because I feel she will eventually find something to do... which she does.

I make sure, I have a conversation (a proper conversation) with Z every day (and I'm not talking about "How was school?" "Okay" kind of conversations). No matter how busy I'm. I trust her, when she tells me something, I try to leave what I'm doing and LISTEN.

I'm not the first one to rush to her if she falls, if she can get up on her own, I'm happier.... I feel better when she gets up, dusts herself and gets back to what she was doing.

I don't miss my workouts or my classes and Z knows she cannot disturb me until its really important.
I do make Z do the household chores, especially her work. She helps me at my center as well.

I let Z eat her meals, even though that might mean a mess most of the time.... but she loves it.
I'm that mommy who is OK if the child doesn't want to have her lunch when I want her to.
I do make sure I hug Z whenever I can every single day.

I do shout and I apologize as well, if I'm at fault.

Z gets her time outs when she needs to cool down and so do I. We sit in the same cool corner...
My life doesn't always revolve around Z and at times I have to schedule her day based on my schedule.

Do I get judged... Yes... Do I care... No (not any more). Am I happy with the things I do? Mostly... and I'm ready to learn and become better.

Thankfully, I confident, I'll manage just fine... because just like other 'perfect' moms out there, Z tells me every single day how much she adores me. I know I'm perfect for Z, as all of you are for your kids. Whether you're as weird as I'm or I'm as proper as someone can be... We are all great parents (moms) to our kids.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review - Brave Irene

Brave Irene

I love the read-aloud videos on storyline online website, when I heard/saw Al Gore read Brave Irene by William Steig ( I had to buy this book, and I'm glad I got two copies (one for Z and one for the Reading Room).

I love books with strong characters (female characters). These books are loved by Z as well, and we discuss about these books which talk about nice strong girls after reading them. Z created her own story, 'Brave Zoe' after reading this gem.

The story and illustrations by the award winning William Steig (he received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble), are beautiful. This is another gem by Steig.

The story is about a young little girl Irene, who loves her mom, she will do anything and everything to help her mother.
The relationship Irene and her mother share, the language, Irene, the illustrations and the narrative, I love everything about this one. It is a very simple tale but will definitely touch a cord somewhere in your heart and your little one will love it. I always get a big bear hug from Z when we read this one, can I ask for anything else?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Review - Mirette on the high wire by Emily Arnold McCully

"Mirette on the High Wire" won the 1994 Caldecott Award and I can easily see why. It is such an amazing read, after reading it, Z's reaction was "Mumsy, I want to walk in the air." I picked up this one for The Reading Room and Z borrowed it from there. The book amazes me at many levels, and I get a similar response from my 4.5 year old. 

Being a mum of a little dreamer, I have a huge responsibility of not only letting her dream; but also telling her that when you fall you can get up and become stronger. I love books with intelligent, strong, smart female characters, and Mirette is that and much more. Mirette has so much about herself, but she is also someone with whom little girls will connect with easily.

The story takes place in Paris more than a 100 years ago, Z is obsessed with Eiffel Tower & Paris... I knew she'd love it. Mirette is a little girl who's mum runs a small boardinghouse, and Mirette helps her mum with chores. The boardinghouse is filled with different performing artists, jugglers, actors, mimes, acrobats etc. One day, a famous tightrope walker named Bellini comes to the boardinghouse. All he wants is privacy, Mirette watches him practice in the backyard and she instantly wants to learn Bellini's art. Bellini takes Mirette as his pupil after a lot of convincing from Mirette. Once a great tightrope walker, Bellini is scared now. Will he overcome his fears and walk again??? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out. 

The book teaches us to believe in our-self and it is not preachy at all (that is another thing I love about it).

The illustrations are pleasing to the eye, and they do justice to the amazing story of Mirette & Bellini.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Just a girl who loves to read (Besides lots of other things)

Genius... Child Prodigy... 'She's something else'... These are the kind of things I hear when I post about Z reading. I'm a Mom who loves capturing Z's reading moments most of all, because she is super happy with books. Still when I hear the words mentioned above I get scared, I get irritated, I get offended to some extent. Why?

Well the answer is pretty simple, when you throw such huge words on a normal child it is tough for the parent and for the child. Z was not born reading, she started reading at 3.5, so did many other kids out there. It's just that, 'normally' this doesn't happen, that doesn't mean it never happens.

I have seen many kids start blending at 3.5 - 4 years. Every batch of ours has at least 1 child like that. Keeping this in mind, Z is not a genuis or a child prodigy... So thank you for your compliments ... But no thank you.

She started reading because, she loves books, she has been read to or she has read for at least an hour a day, every single day... This has NEVER been forced.

She started reading because, her school and I were on the same page. She learned her sounds in the correct manner.

She started reading because, she was blessed with a good visual memory and good ear for sounds.

Most of all... She started reading because, SHE WANTED TO READ ON HER OWN SO BADLY.

She still skips words, reads too fast at times, doesn't know anything about expressions while reading... And she'll get that... We aren't in a hurry.

She does understand what she reads though, if she doesn't... She will read again and again. Or she will ask us a 1000 questions.

Maybe she learned to read as she was lucky to be surrounded by books and to have adults in her life who take out time from their lives on a daily basis and read to her.

And here's a message from the so called 'genuis' or 'child prodigy' herself (well these are my words, but if Z would've said them, she would've said the exact same thing) "Don't weigh me down with these huge words... I don't even understand them. Let me just be, and enjoy my book. Don't think I need to be praised for what I love doing. Yes, oh yes, Mom is proud of me, when I read nicely and understand the words I read. She gets super irritated when I skip a word or two. She never says no for a book for sure, but its not the same case for many other things. I'm lucky to have my books and I can also borrow them from the Reading Room. So, whether I knew how to read or no... I  would've enjoyed my books as much."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review - The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak is one of the best book we have picked for Z and for the Reading Room recently. We fell in love with the book when we saw a video (see below) of  BJ Novak reading the book out to younger children. It was such a laugh riot. I have always believed, for Z, the illustrations and story line are equally important. 

Here was a book staring at us, which only didn't have any pictures, but also was very plain 'just to look at' with white cover and white pages and mostly black text.

Here was also a book which didn't have a 'story' to tell. Yes, for my daughter who has fallen in love with longer story lines and fiction, you might have thought, this one could have been a no... but, you forgot a little thing about us at Being Zoe's Mom. We have to read books everyday, and when we can get a new book, which looks 'yummy' (yes, books are yummy)... why won't we read it.

This book is all about how you read it out. Your voice, your expressions, your tone, taking your listeners along with you (whether their is 1 or 100) on a hilarious journey. If it comes to you naturally then you and your child/children will love it. If you are someone who believes in adding a lot of yourself into what you read you  to get your hands on this one.

If you are more of a "Once upon a time....... blah blah blah" (read in your most boring voice) person, then this gem by Novak is not for you.

We at BZM love this one, for the super concept, the laughter, the reading adult making a complete fool out of herself/himself and of course the "Blork" "Bluurf" "I'm a Robot Monkey", "Boo Boo Butt".... etc. Z loves it. 

I have read it for kids in the book club, I keep on reading it to Z and every read aloud is a super experience.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review - Malala a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal a Brave Boy from Pakistan

Malala a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal a Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter

I usually don't pick up non-fiction for Zoe, I enjoy fiction more and so does she. The only books we picked up which were non-fiction were Islamic stories. It changed recently and I'm very very happy it did.

I picked up Malala a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal a Brave Boy from Pakistan when I got it as one of the suggestions on Amazon. The book written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, it is a beautiful boom and introduces kids to 2 amazing kids. These kids rose from normal kids and they turned into heroes. Two brave hearts from Pakistan who had the courage to stand up against all something which they felt was wrong and unfair. Both were shot at, unfortunately, Iqbal died and Malala miraculously survived.

I have read about Malala Yusufzai before (who hasn't) but I didn't know about Iqbal Masih. I googled about him, after I read the book.

We loved the illustrations and the simplicity in the narration. It's perfect for 4+ years.

My little bookworm liked Malala's story a tad bit more, when I asked her why... She said "because Malala was a super brave girl and she wanted to go to school".

Zoe was also a little sad that Iqbal didn't survive, and that's another reason why she liked Malala's story better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A New Journey of BZM - Raising a reader ... One book at a time!

Reading Aloud is a ritual in our house since Z was born... Yes literally, I remember reading aloud The Very Hungry Caterpillar when she was a few days old. She was right there in my arms, her eyes closed, yet I read to her. She didn't respond, but I read on. 

This few days old baby turned into a few month old baby and all she wanted to do was lick her books and try to tear the pages. I let her. When I read aloud, her expressions changed, she started staring at me with her eyes wide and her mouth open. She tried to repeat what I said, and giggled when I made funny noises. 

Soon a 1 year old Z, started repeating what I said (well she tried to) and we had our conversation, she babbled and I responded, as if I understood whatever she said. She found her favourite author at around 1.5 years - Julia Donaldson had her complete attention, she sat through Gruffalo... Gasping, laughing and blabbing. For a 1.5 year old sitting through Gruffalo was strange and I wasn't sure what she gauged from the story, all I knew was she was having fun and so was I.

She started blending sounds when she was 3.2 years, and now at 4.5 years she is an independent readers, don't believe me... have a lookie (this video was take a few months back)

One thing I know, I won't stop reading aloud to her, yet. She has a lot to experience as far as reading aloud to her is concerned and she loves it. 

Our bedtime reading ritual has changed a little bit off late. We read at least 2 books, she reads a book and then I read the rest. One of the best thing about our read aloud sessions now-a-days are the questions she asks, after we've read a book. 

Our readings have progressed from fun colourful board books to elaborate storylines, beautiful illustrations and a whole lot of fun. We've gone from animated reading to reading and discussing the book we've read. We have moved from a couple of minutes to an hour at least. We've grown as readers....yes, WE have grown as readers. Our love for children literature grows every single day. That's just because we have read every single day. We haven't given our daily reading amiss at parties, vacations, family functions, sick days, happy days... We have read every single day, and that is something I recommend to everyone of you out there.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Real Mom!

We celebrated Mothers Day in May, we do that every May. For me, the best and the worst thing about Mothers Day are to 'Mother Day videos' which go viral on the internet.

I saw so many videos (I've lost the count) around mother's day, all of them were beautiful; but most of them had a little problem... Most of them showed me a mom I wish I was... How close I was to her, I'm afraid not much. 

I wish motherhood was simpler. I wish mothers weren't shown as these perfect beings who transformed into a goddesses when they gave birth to a child. I wish we didn't have access to such videos... I wish I didn't dream of becoming such a mom one day... Ahhhh! One day. And whenever I see a link to a mothers day video I just have to play it and watch it over and over again.

Frankly speaking, now that I retrospect... I don't want to be that mom... A mom whose touch is magical, a mom who looks picture perfect, a mom who always has a smile on her face. I don't want to be that, because I'm not that, and I will never be that mom. I don't know if mothers like those exist, if they do... they must be leading a pretty stressful life.

I'm an extremely simple mom. I didn't fall in love with Z overnight, I did eventually but definitely not the moment I saw her. I don't have a problem in saying sorry to her (if I'm wrong) and she knows I have my weak moments (everyone does). I don't mind shedding a tear in front of her, or correcting her if need be. I do fight with Z to have that last bit of Nutties or that last bite of a Cornetto. When I'm busy and she wants to talk to me, I ask her to go away, I make sure I check on her once I'm done... but those 'video moms' don't shoo their kids away... Do they?

Being perfect scares me, being perfect means there's no scope of improvement, being perfect means I will stop growing as a person (a mom in this case). And I want to become a better mom with each passing day, so thank God, I'm not that 'Video Mom' already, I don't intend on being one either.

I'm a slightly crazy, slightly cool, a little strict, a little child out and a very normal mom. I may not be the perfect mom, but I know one thing for sure, I'm perfectly imperfect, and I'm perfectly perfect for my little Ms. Z... That's what really matters. Isn't it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Celebrating Ramadan with BZM

I wanted to tell Z about Ramadan, and I found this beautiful idea on…

So I developed a calendar for Z, Ramadan starts on 19th of July Insha'Allah. Due to my work schedule and Z's school, I won't be able to follow a daily schedule ( I would've loved to do that) guess this is good to start with.

Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays: Rainbow Fish

Name: Rainbow Fish
Author: Marcus Pfister

Z, like most kids her age, can be a bit selfish at times. She went into this "my space, my books, my toys, my parents" zone sometime back. I immediately thought of the Rainbow Fish. A beautiful book by Marcus Pfister, a beautiful story about a sparkly, multicolored fish, which is a little selfish. He loves his sparkly scales and doesn't want to share them with anyone. Till a wise octopus shows him the right path.

Will the Rainbow Fish mend his ways and make some friends?

In Z's words: I like it because the blue fish has so many special shiny scales, they are glittering. I also like it because I like sharing, just like rainbow fish… (this second sentence is not entirely true). The book was listed in the must read list Z shared recently.

BZM Thumbs up:
  • The story(simple, beautiful)
  • Illustrations
  • Any child will connect with the Rainbow Fish
  • Adults will love the story too

BZM Thumbs down:
  • None
BZM gives Rainbow Fish a perfect 10

See this amazing read aloud here:


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays - Ismat's Eid

Book: Ismat's Eid:
Author: Fawzia Gilani-Williams
Illustrator: Proiti Roy


Z has liked very few books published in India, but she loves Ismat's Eid. The story is an adaptation of a Turkish tale (I guess I read it in school). I love the hilarious tale of a shoemaker who gets pants for eid, they are 'four fingers too long'. Everyone seems too busy to help him, everyone has something to do for the big day tomorrow. The tailor, Ismat's wife, Yasmeen; his mum, Habiba and his daughter, Mahjabeen have their respective chores to attend to.

This tale is super funny and Z loves it.

In Z's words: I love Ismat's eid because it makes me laugh... A lot.

BZM Thumbs Up:
  • Love the story, simple and funny
  • Love the narration
  • I also like the fact, that Fawzia Gilani has explained a few Urdu words which kids and many parents might not understand.
  • It is repetitive which works very well with kids, they start connecting with events.
  • It teaches kids about making small adjustments and being happy in a very subtle (non-preachy) way.
BZM Thumbs Down:
  • I like the book a lot, so I don't have any issues whatsoever.

BZM gives Ismat's Eid 9/10 stars. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays Amelia Bedelia Collection

Book: Amelia Bedelia Collection (we have 4 books in Z's library and 5 in our Reading Room, this post revolves around the books Z has)
Author:  Peggy Parish (for budding readers) and Herman Parish (for budding and independent readers)

Z and me love funny stories, and Amelia Bedelia is one of the funniest ones we have read. It is a book I read while growing up, and I passed the love for Amelia Bedelia to Zoe. The books are perfect for budding readers and besides being funny it builds your child's vocabulary as well.

**Some Wiki-Trivia "Amelia Bedelia is the protagonist and title character of a series of American children's books written by Peggy Parish until her death in 1988, and by her nephew Herman Parish beginning in 1995." I like both the versions, the later is are available also as chapter book for independent readers.

Books Z has
Peggy Parish's Version
Herman Parish's Budding Reader's Version

Herman Parish's Independent Reader's Version

In Z's Words: "I love Amelia Bedelia because she does all funny things, like she makes no baby food and she gives ketchup to babies." **referring to her latest read Amelia Bedelia and the Baby.

BZM Thumbs Up:
  • Love the fun quotient
  • The illustrations in both the versions are adorable
  • Stories are funny yet simple

BZM Thumbs Down:
  • Parents of boys might not pick this one because the protagonist is a female, I suggest please rent it and read it... you wouldn't regret it a bit.

Funny story which is totally repeatable, you will feel sorry for poor Amelia Bedelia and love her to bits. A perfect score

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays Before I was your Mother

Book: Before I Was Your Mother
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Mothers Day is just around the corner, and I had to review this book. What better occasion than doing it for Mothers Day. The story revolves around Katie and her mum. For Katie, her mother is just her mom. Things change when Mamma takes Katie into her world, before she was a mother. The times when she bossed on her brothers, practiced ballet and wore boots to bed. Mamma talks about her best friend and her dog, also about how they put a circus up in their backyard.

I love the fact that the author has shown a mom can be much more than being a mum, she can be as normal as anyone else. She can do silly things, have dreams and aspirations.

In Z's Words: "I love when Mamma says, I was not always your mamma"

BZM Thumbs Up: 
  • The conversation between the mother and Katie is very similar to what happens between Z and me.
  • The text is simple, yet it is magical
  • I love the dash of humour throughout. 
  • Overall I love the narration and story.
BZM Thumbs Down:
  • None

An amazing story about the beautiful bond between a mom and child gets a perfect 10/10

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays The Magic Paintbrush

Book: The Magic Paintbrush
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Joel Stewart

This story talks about a little girl Shen and her magic paintbrush. Things Shen paints with the brush comes to life. We at BZM love books with strong female characters, and Shen is one such character. She's true to herself, smart, loyal and intelligent.

We love how the story is rhyming. The illustrations, though different from any Donaldson book, are super cute. 

In Z's words: "I love how Shen draws things with her paintbrush,  and they become real".

BZM Thumbs Up:
  • Love the story, simple words and a very beautiful tale.
  • Illustrations are beautiful
  • We love Shen

BZM Thumbs Down:
  • None. 

A perfect score for a beautiful tale 10/10 BZMs

You can purchase your copy here:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bookalicious Tuesdays - A peek into my childhood as a reader

This post is not the regular 'Bookalicious Tuesdays' post, because, I'm not doing any book review, instead I'm taking you through my growing up years ... let us talk about my 'romance with books'.

In the early years of a person's life, parents (family) and school plays a huge role. I was blessed with a set of parents who bought us lots of books. AJ (My dad) used to get books back from his trips abroad, because, in India, back in the 80's, we didn't have access to so many good books. I remember, our parents, never forced us to read, both mom and dad, as well as my older sister used to read and it just became a part of my life. In fact one of the TV shows we were totally excited about was Faerie Tale Theatre, which used to come on DD on Sundays, the other favorite was Jungle Book (both are based on BOOKS).

I started reading pretty early, imitating my older sister. I took all her books, all her books became 'OUR' books when I was born. So basically a lot many days from my childhood were spent surrounded with books.

I spent early years of my childhood in La Martiniere Girls school, Lucknow. Reading was a part of our daily school life. I did a lot of theatre in school, and when we were younger, a lot of our plays were based on famous books. 

As I grew, my love for books became stronger. I was never told 'Don't you have anything better to do?'  My demands for books always met with a big 'YES'. You know what I used to do when I got my books, smell through the pages. I love the smell of a new book. I still do that... as I rip apart the package the first thing I do is smell the pages.

I married someone who loved reading as much, he introduced me to some of his favorites, which were Awesome, and which became one of the best I have read. The Kite Runner, Tuesdays with Morrie, Not Penny More Not Penny Less... the list goes on.

After becoming a mum, what I found again, was  how much I love Picture Books and how I have missed them in all these years. Since, I can't become a child again, I decided... 'what the hell' why do I have to be a child again to fall in love with Picture books. I fell in love with picture books one page at a time, as I explored them with Z. That is when I started MLCB.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Bookalicious Tuesday : Zoe and Beans: The Magic Hoop

Hello People,
We have changed the format of our Bookalicious Tuesdays. The reviews would be more detailed now. Do let us know what you felt about the format.

Book : Zoe and Beans: The Magic Hoop (Part of the Zoe and Beans series)
Written and illustrated by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

The series revolve around a girl called Zoe and her dog - Beans. This particular book talks about a Magic Hoop, that Zoe has found. This hoop has the power to transform things. Zoe would like to see the magic turn true, and who can be her best guinea pig? Beans of course. The story tells us what happens when Beans transforms from a dog to a rabbit and crocodile and towards the end an elephant. What happens when the big fat Beans gets too big for the hoop.

In Z's words (After our book reads we discuss the books and this section tell us how a 4 year old looks at the book): I like the book and the pictures, it is a funny book. Zoe should jump in the hoop and see what happens.

BZM Thumbs up:
  • The relationship between Zoe and Beans is portrayed nicely.
  • The illustrations are beautiful and real.
  • Zoe is very real.
  • It is pretty gender neutral book and kids between 2-5 will enjoy it.
  • Kids will like it because the humour is extremely childlike. 
  • It also in a way emphasizes on the importance of being your self.
BZM Thumbs down:
Nothing in particular, but I prefer the other books in this series, this is very simple. I keep this one below Pants on the Moon! and Zoe's Christmas List

BZM Meh!:

The story is fairly simple, though fun. Chances of repeated readings are less.

It isn't no ordinary hoop, but we would give it 8/10 BZMs

You can purchase your copy here:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Bookalicious Tuesday : The Paper Dolls

Book:  The Paper Dolls
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrations: Rebecca Cobb
For ages: 3-6 years


Why we picked it and what was our reaction: I heard about this on a group on Facebook. Since we have to pick a Julia Donaldson book by default, we had to order this one too. I LOVED it the moment I saw its cover. I used to make paper dolls as a child and I loved the fact I can introduce the concept of Paper dolls to Z. It is a very simple book, but it is a book you will immediately connect with. I love the story and the illustrations by Rebecca Cobb are simple but stunning at the same time.

BZM Take: We love it, we also have a song. We read and sing the book. Z has to read it every alternate day. This book beautifully portrays the relationship between a mom and daughter. Z actually says, the little girl in the book is 'Mumsy' and her daughter in the end is Z.

BZM gives The Paper Dolls a Perfect 10 (can we give more)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Bookalicious Tuesday : Alphabet Dressup ABC

Book:  Alphabet Dressup ABC
Author: Nalini Sorensen
Illustrations: Shraddha Pimputkar
For ages: 3-5 years

Why we picked it and what was our reaction: I usually do not pick any Indian publications, just because Z and me haven't taken much liking for them as yet. Books by Fun OK Please are an exception though. I loved the illustrations and concept, hence I picked the book up immediately. The fact that Z is a huge fan of dressing up herself also helped. She doesn't need a costume, she fetches something from around the house and uses her imagination. That is exactly what the book promotes and we love it.

BZM Take: The first thing that we noticed were the super cute illustrations by  Shraddha Pimputkar. This book is super creative and so much fun. 

Being a phonetic trainer, I don't pick many books which use alphabets, because they do not give importance to sound... I can't just tell Z, X is for xylophone for example, just yet. This books is phonetically correct as well. We love the fact that the illustrations in the book are pretty gender neutral. This was a huge plus for me as a mum. 

You can play as you read, one needs to find hidden sounds on each page. There is another game in the end, which adds up to the fun.

The book is associated with The Cuddles Foundation, which works with children whose life has been affected by cancer.

BZM gives Alphabet Dressup ABC an 8/10

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BZM Bookalicious Tuesdays - Corduroy

Another book I read as a child and now I'm reading it to Z. I love reliving my childhood with Z.

Book:  Corduroy
Author: Don Freeman
For ages: 3-5 years

Why we picked it and what was our reaction: We had to, I never miss a chance of reading a book I enjoyed as a child to Z. I was just waiting for the right time.

BZM Take: I have loved Corduroy and Z likes it as well. I tell her a little story after every page we read in the book and Z loves it. I have so many memories associated with the book. The book has lovely 'old school' illustrations, the story is simple yet beautiful. What I love about the book is its honesty and simplicity.

BZM gives Corduroy a 9/10, its not Z's absolute favorite (I wanted to give it a perfect 10, but let us be fair)

Friday, March 20, 2015

I'm having a bad, that is a reason enough…

Image courtesy: Ask Emma

We parents are known as selfless, giving, emotional fools, who give it all to their children. We can do anything and everything for them.... wait-wait-WAIT. Does that really happen? OK happens often (sometimes), does that always happen... I don't think so.

I don't know what happened in the 'olden days' when we were kids, but now-a-days, all of us are so busy. 
We need time for work, we take out time for social networking, we even plan our holidays. All of this adds on to stress in our already busy and stressful lifestyle. I mean even planning a vacation has become stressful, so you need to get stressed to de-stress yourself…. hmmmmm… interesting.
What happens when we get stressed? We take it till we can handle it all and then ... boom! It all comes out as rage or anger or a rant and on the receiving end are our loved ones. We take it out on our spouse, (who is expected to act maturely and understand the situation, well s/he does the same…) our parents.  The worst thing to happen is taking it out on kids (especially when they are younger)... easy target, gullible, we can easily apologies to them (or not), and they will be back to normal... I mean, they can't just do without their parents, right? WRONG!!!
What wrong have they done? Why should they be at the receiving end? Why should they bear the consequences, because we are stressed? I used to do the same, I used to take it all out on Z, and I can't express how bad I felt when I realized that I was wrong... the good thing is, I realized before it was too late, but the thought of going back there still haunts me.
How did realize, well, couple of things, the number of time I shouted at her without any fault of hers increased and Z always responded with  "I'm not talking to you". That broke my heart into a million pieces. I heard Z tell someone, 'Mamma always likes shouting," that was like a slap on my face. I knew, most of the time I shouted was because I was worked up and Z was just acting normally.
With Z, the thing is, she goes all out there to make sure, I know she isn't happy with the way I behaved and it was no fault of hers. Now when I want some peace of mind, I just go away from Z for a couple of minutes, these minutes work miraculously to cool me down.
In our relationship with our child, aren't we supposed to be the more mature one? The parent? The grown up? How can we just give it out to them, and expect them to not feel bad? These kids are also human beings...
At times, we might feel, it is OK to shout at our kids when we are having a bad day, but it isn't... it isn't fair. Your bad day is your problem, not your child's... it's as simple as that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

BZM Bookalicious Tuesdays - Madeline

Book:  Madeline
Author: Ludwig Bemelmans
For ages: 4+

Why we picked it and what was our reaction: Childhood memories... lots of them attached with Madeline, I had to introduce this one to Z. I wish, I had the book I owned as a child. I have still not outgrown Madeline, still enjoy it as much.

BZM Take: We love Madeline, I want to introduce other books in the series to her as well. Z has recently learned about Paris and Eiffel Tower, she loves the book all the more now. Some people say its for girls, I would beg to differ. I have seen boys enjoy it as much. Z says Madeline is just like her and I believe so too.

BZM Madeline Moment: As many of you might be aware, Madeline gets operated and proudly shows her scar, I showed Z my scar (I got from the Cesarean), Z said "Oh! Mumsy, you should have let me be in your tummy. This must have hurt so much."

BZM gives: Nothing, but a perfect 10!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Little World Explorer

Monuments... World monuments are what Zoe is into these days. I'm a super happy mum. I learned to appreciate world monuments from my mum and Z has got it from don't know who, because both Fizz and me love to read about different monuments around the world. Right now, her focus is on the wonders of the world or the really popular (at 4 I didn't even know any of those existed).

A huge thank you to her teacher and her school, she knows about Eiffel tower, Buckingham Palace and Statue of liberty. She has also learned about Venice. She loves talking about them when she comes back from school. 

"Mamma you know Eiffel tower has so many lifts, its in Paris"...
 “Mamma statue of liberty is in New York on an island... She has a lamp (torch) in her hand."
"Fizzy the guards in Buckingham Palace wear red and black... Can we go to London Fizzy."
"Fizzy if we go to Venice we won't need a car but a boat."
Her favourite by far is the Eiffel tower, she has an Eiffel tower T-Shirt (thanks to Bhaijaan) and an Eiffel tower book (Madeline). She loves Madeline all the more because it is based in Paris.

We hope we can show her these beautiful places sometime soon (in near future).
She has graduated from the World map to the Asia map. She loves geography and I hope she stays as passionate about things she likes as she is right now.
The reason why we believe in Montessori education so much is because... Kids are exposed to all this and more... they are so happy and interested to learn about everything.

BZM Bookalicious Tuesdays - Library Lion

I'm not sure why I haven't reviewed this awesome piece of work here.

Book:  Library Lion
Author: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrator:  Kevin Hawkes
For ages: 4+

Why we picked it and what was our reaction: While shopping for our book club I came across this book. The title made me curious and it instantly drew me towards itself. As I opened the book, I was sure I want to pick 2 copies of Library Lion, one for Z and one for The Reading Room. I wasn't wrong. Z fell in love with the book instantly and so did the other kids I have read it to. I loved the book from the word go.

BZM Take: It looks kind of timeless, I can never get bored of this book and neither has Z outgrown it yet (considering the fact that she reads it almost everyday). I connect more with the book because it is based in a library. We love Ms. Merriweather - the head librarian, who is extremely particular about rules, she corrects everyone who breaks rules. Finally, towards the end, she says "sometimes there is a good reason to break the rules." So true! The other characters, Mr. McBee, the storybook lady and the Lion are also an essential part of the book, thanks to Knudsen's story and life-like illustrations by Kevin Hawkes. Besides the storyline, the characters, illustrations, we also love the simplicity of the narrative.

From the time Z read this book, she has been asking, 'When will a lion come in our Reading Room?' I hope never :-P

BZM gives a perfect 10 (Can we give MORE) Check out Mindy Sterling read Library Lion

BZM Says: Go pick up, without thinking twice, if you are in Bangalore visit The Reading Room and explore Library Lion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BZM Bookalicious Tuesdays - Aliens Love Underpants!

Book: Aliens Love Underpants!
Author: Claire Freedman
For ages: 3-7

Why we picked it and what was our reaction: The title, I was curious and when I started reading at Crossroads, I had a broad smile on my face. Z loves anything related to space and aliens.Another thing I love it is pretty gender neutral book, will appeal to both girls and boys.

BZM Take: Besides the name, which made Z smile and pick the book up, she loved the bright colours and pictures. As we read the book, she was totally engrossed and smiled through. It became a favorite of hers soon.The book is hilarious and silly, kids would love it. From the day we first read it, Z always checks her underpants for aliens. :)

BZM gives: 8/10 (which is huge).

BZM Says: If you get it in the library pick up and read. See how your child reacts and then pick it up. If you are in Bangalore, you can check it out at the Reading Room.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Another VDay Post, this is not for Z

I have wished Z's dad on Valentines for the past 3 years. I started seeing you more as Z's dad and less as a partner I always wanted. Today I want to say sorry, sorry for treating you like a piece of furniture for long. I thought I was being a good mom (I hope), and I was doing great. I forgot you need me as much as Z needs me. You on the other hand were always there, without me even having to ask.

I have always said you are the anchor in my life. I hold on to you and you never let me down. You make sure you are there for me always. You let me be me, let me do what I think is right and you never impose your views on me.

The little things that you do, the beautiful little surprises you give me, make me love you all the more.

You don't care whether I'm in my worst of moods or the best of them, you are there by my side. You don't even have to say that you are by my side, I know you are. Even if the people I have grown up with don't understand me, you do... and I love you for that as well. In fact you are closer to my family than I'm.

We still laugh together and like really laugh. You know what is going on in my life, and vice versa. I have never spent a day without discussing it with you...

My smallest achievements make you so happy, and you understand my ambitions, my dreams and of course ME. No one understands me more than you, you understand me more than I understand myself.

You know, I love the fact that you don't speak much and I get to do the talking.

The cherry on the cake (sorry for bringing this up) is that you are 'a super cool dad'.

P.S: I know how happy you are now, Mr. Vice President. That was an extremely well-deserved promotion (the fact that you are super smart makes you totally irresistible)

"But I love you Mumsy" (VDay Special)

That's Z's favorite line and it completely melts my heart. Well, it will melt anyone’s heart really…. Let me tell you, I’m a tough nut to crack; I don’t give in easily when it comes to being a mom. Not a tiger mom but definitely a tough mom for sure. 

I try not to make it obvious to Z, but she can totally make her Mumsy do almost anything when she makes one of the innocent face and says "But I love you Mumsy".

It usually happens when I'm angry or she is expected to do something she doesn't want. Like recently in Kanpur when I was super angry with her. She was super clingy on the day we arrived. It was a long journey, car ride till Bangalore Airport, flight till Lucknow (with a halt at Calcutta) and drive of over 2 hours till we reached Kanpur…both of us were tired. She wanted me and I wanted to relax and be with my relatives. It is at moments like these, I want her to give me some space. When she didn't calm down after all my Mommy tactics, I got angry... didn't speak to her for almost 2 hours and she must've said "But I love you Mumsy" at least 30 times (I stopped counting post that). 

The other time when she goes “But I love you Mumsy” is when I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to. If I tell her to eat all the veggies I've added to the fried rice she just makes a sorry face and says.... yeah you got it, "but I love you Mumsy". 

I never really have made her feel she will get whatever she wants from me when she goes "But I love you Mumsy"... In fact I don't even say 'Awwww how adorable”.

It became so irritating at a point in time that all I wanted to do was just snap back at her. Everyone started laughing at her the moment she said “But I love you Mumsy”. I hated that… and I knew she hated that as well. Thank God I didn’t do that… I tried to analyse the situation and her reaction. I spoke to her and realized she says this because she doesn’t want to hurt me. When she wants something that I don’t want, Z says “but, I love you Mumsy” to convince me to make me feel better. She didn’t say all this but I could easily sense that. I hugged Z and told her “I will love you not matter what. Mumsy gets angry, but I will always love you.”

From that day (it’s been over a month), she says “Mumsy I love you” and I say “I love you too.”

A report on my cat (Q&A)

Q: What is his name? A: His name is Coffee A.K.A Puglu. Q:What are his characteristics’? A:At dawn he starts scratchin...