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"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Review - Your Turn Now

Your Turn Now - Heartening Stories of Everyday Kindness inspired by the Little Blue Card, is a simple yet beautiful book published by FunOKPlease. It is penned by Lubaina Bandukwala and illustrated by Shraddha Pimputkar. 

Frankly, when I read about the book, I was a little apprehensive about it, I wondered if Z would appreciate it. The reason was, I usually do not pick up moral or inspirational stories for Z. If she learns a lesson from a fun story, it is alright, but I steer clear away from moral stories. The thing is, my little girl reads for fun, she enjoys reading like nothing else, I don't want to take that away from her.
Anyway, I picked up the book, just to try it out. It is clearly meant for slightly older kids, but I was ready to explore the book with Z. And did we love it or what????

Both of us were totally in love with the stories and Rushabh Turakhia's global initiative Your Turn Now. You can read more about it here.

The book was an eye opener for me as a parent, I didn't realise, in today's fast paced life we are leaving humanity, kindness and love behind. It was a simple book, which touched me at many levels. For a little girl, who isn't even 6 yet, this was a big book with lots of stories, stories she wants to re-visit and discuss with her friends, her parents, her teachers et. al. 

In Z's words, "The book is just so good Mumsy, I think I will read it again. I loved the kindness cards I received with the book, I will be kind and share it with my friends."

I have ordered a copy for the library as well, and looking forward to purchase Your Turn Now-2 

 You can pick a copy of Your turn now from the Flipkart link below:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Let's try Mumsy!

"I can try Mumsy! I know I will be able to do it" That's what Little Missy told me. Ok! So let's rewind a little:
Z was trying to write some words, and her hand writing wasn't neat enough (according to Ms. Z). So she kept on erasing and doing it again. I didn't want to see her struggle (well, actually, I didn't want to hear "Oh No! Not again" for the nth time). 
I told her "Sweetheart! Please just leave it for the time being. We can try it later." 
And that's when came her reply "I can try Mumsy! I know I will be able to do it".

She tried to walk with a lemon and spoon, she failed, didn't give up, and on the 5th day, she finally did it...

That's something she does every single day, she shows me she can do much better than what she's done. She never wants to give up before she's achieved the results she wants. Though let me tell you... she'll only do those things with this attitude, which she willingly wants to do.

This was something I usually don't expect from a 5 year old. Believe me, I work with kids, and I say so many 5 year old children give up... without trying, "I don't want to do it", "it's boring", I can't do this"... I hear these things very often.

And then, I've seen so many parents push their children... the more they push, the more kids resist. They might do something out of respect or fear but not out of the sheer joy of doing it.

We've never pushed Z, I mean right now, she's too young, but we don't intend to do that in future. Of course, we might suggest what to do, what not to do when needed... but eventually, she takes the decision. Maybe that's the reason why she's not scared or too tired to try. Maybe her eyes sparkle after she's achieved something, because she knew she'll do it.. Maybe this trait of hers will take her places, Insha'Allah. Maybe this is nothing to feel proud about, for any of my readers, but it's definitely a little victory for me and Faizan as parents.

I do keep complaining about lots of things Z does, but then there are many many more things that I love her for... I'm super proud of... And I'm immensely proud of this quality of hers. I can see so much of me in her, when I see her determination, a stubborn streak, when she gets after something. She needs to get it done. As we say in Urdu 'Junoon sawaar ho jaata hai'.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Yes! I took up the #MotherhoodChallenge

Yes, I took up the #MotherhoodChallenge early this year.  I don’t regret based on a few blogs floating around claiming how the #MotherhoodChallenge was insensitive and not well thought off. 

Image courtesy scoopnest

What is ironic about the whole situation is that some parenting bloggers are writing their voice against the challenge. Why? Don’t they celebrate motherhood on social media every single day? The #MotherhoodChallenge is a celebration of sorts as well.

Well call it a dare, a challenge, a celebration… Being a mom is a huge part of my identity and I wear this badge with pride. I (Alhamdulillah) feel, this is one of the biggest blessings of God. The biggest and the best…. I also feel, it is one of the biggest challenges of my life. Parenting isn’t easy; I don’t have a guide for being a mom who is perfect.

OK, judge me, but hear (in this case, read) me out first.... I face challenges every day. Starting from a C-Section, a long-drawn recovery, depression, weight gain, and then exercising each day and thinking before I keep a single morsel of food in my mouth (best part is, it hardly shows)... What about sleepless nights, taking decisions for the child. What about those nights spent in the hospital, when I didn't sleep a wink... OK, only a mother lives in a Zombie like state for years... Dressing up for me is jeans and a shirt and not my workout clothes... scheduling our lives around the child. And what about being judged constantly... 24*7

Sometimes, I just have to take a shot, without even thinking where or what will happen next. Am I doing the right thing? I just have take that risk at times. So, there you go, motherhood (parenting in general) is challenging and risky as well… Why can’t we call it a challenge or a dare? Why do we always have to stick to socially acceptable terms to express ourselves? It is a challenge, a risk, a dare and of course a celebration. 

Talking about being insensitive, I cannot even imagine the pain a mother goes through when she loses her child. Her loss is something I don’t want to think about, because it gives me jitters. I know it’s tough, but as they say life must go on.

We, all of us, have certain blessings that help us live our lives happily. We also (all of us) have certain tragedies we deal with. All tragedies are equally bad… when I lost my A.J (dad), or when I lost touch with my family, or when a childhood knee injury, at the age of 10, gave me a permanent knee pain for life… I did go through a lot. That doesn’t mean I mourn every time I when my friends tell me about incidents/moments spent with their dads. On the contrary, I remember dad, my eyes get moist, but there is a precious smile that comes on my lips. I do have my mom (Alhamdulillah), but we have so many differences, we are like chalk and cheese. We hardly speak to each other, coz when we do, we argue. 

Our blessings... I prefer celebrating my life (Alhamdulillah), and thanking God for what I have. I do feel the pain, every time I think of my sorrows and my challenges, but my blessings make me a happier person. 

People are going on and on about the challenge, the DARE... Why are we missing the point here? Well, it a challenge, a risk, a dare... It is also a CELEBRATION... Why can't mothers be allowed to celebrate? And, as I read somewhere... the best part is this challenge is about all the moms out there... ' foster mums, adoptive mums, step mums, biological mums, mums who’ve lost their little ones, and mums from all walks of life share their own experiences with the world.'

I know I will receive a lot of flak for this article, so be it. I have always been pretty vocal about my feelings; I have never been ‘politically correct’. And I’m a pretty strong believer of ‘to each their own’. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Manners... We Care

Manners, a word we tend to forget about and/or we think, we are too cool for manners. Unfortunately, the truth is manners make you cool. I've (we, hubby & I) always been particular, that our 5 year old always says her thank you, sorry, excuse me, pardon, from her heart... It comes very naturally to her. 
Today, in the morning, when she spoke to my house help (who she refers to as Aunty) in a loud tone, I was sure she needs to apologize. When she didn't, I took the matters in my hands. Instead of forcing her to apologize, which wouldn't have solved the purpose... I had this conversation with her:
Me: You did something wrong in the kitchen, do you remember?
Z: No.... Hmmmm what Mumsy?
Me: Think about it... Something you said to Aunty.
Z: (after thinking) Maybe I shouted at her.
Me: You did certainly shout at her.
Z: oooo... Sorry Mumsy.
Me: You need to apologize to Aunty
Z: (trying to avoid it)...but I'm scared
Me: No Z, you have to do this. You have to apologize.
Z: Can I get some time out (that's the phrase she uses when she wants to be left alone)
Me: Sure, but you know what to do...
After 2-3 minutes, she entered the kitchen apologised to the house help, smiled at her, gave a little hug and went back in her room... After a couple minutes I entered her room. Another thing, we believe in as a family is giving space to each other. I sat beside her, squeezed her hand
Z: Thank you Mumsy.
Me: (smiling) Do you feel better now?
Z: Yes Mumsy, I love you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book Review - The Midnight Library

Imagine a library opened through the night, with the most amazing books to read... with an adorable little librarian and a few library helpers, who are nocturnal. Imagine visitors facing problems of one kind or another and the librarian helping them with the perfect solution. I got this and much more from The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara (I would like to thank an acquaintance here, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Kazuno Kohara). I love the author, and The Midnight Library is the best of his work, I have read thus far.

When I heard about The Midnight Library, I knew I had to pick it up. When I did, I could see a lot of myself in the book, and so did Z. 

The book takes you (and the child of course) to a beautiful world of the The Midnight Library. And what a world it is. Z was totally mesmerised by the book and she has read the book over and over again, since. This book is simple. The magic of this book lies in its simplicity, the illustrations and sweet little situations, which any child who frequents a library would relate to.

If you are looking for a nice soothing bedtime read for your 3-5 year old The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara is a perfect pick.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

To Be a Girl's Mum

** This post was written for MyCity4Kids

When I was pregnant, I so wanted to have a baby girl, but something inside me told me I'll have a baby boy. I did try to prepare myself.

On the 26th of November, 2010, I was pleasantly surprised when I held my precious little baby in my arms. I confirmed and re-confirmed it with Faizan, and then I just couldn't hold back my tears. My parents brought 3 daughters in this world, 3 head strong, independent, very opinionated daughters. And I was blessed with one on that day.

In these 5 blessed years, I have experienced a lot of moments, moments which were extraordinary, moments where I wanted to tear my hair, moments where I consoled her and moments where she gave me a shoulder to cry on.

I can talk to her and I know she's listening, she'll not zone out. I might not be the 'only girl' in the family, but I truly have a BFF in my family. Someone I can completely rely on, and I can talk to whenever and wherever I want. I know I'll never be 'judged'. I'll always be the best for my Z.

When I hear some people go...

'Oh My God! Girls are so cute, pretty dresses, clips, dolls..."
"Do you play dress up everyday???"
"Awwwww! Do you have to hide your make up already?"

Let me tell girls might be all this (might), but they are much much more.

Well, Z gets lots of cute dresses (as well as jeans, shorts, shirts) and clips, not because we play dress up... but because, I have good taste ;-). Her hair is long and nice, but she prefers tying it in a bun or high pony when she goes out cycling or playing. She doesn't like dolls (yes you heard that). No, she doesn't like makeup maybe because she rarely sees her mum use it.

Being a mum of a girl is way way way beyond all these Ahhhhh, Oooohhhh, Awwwwws.

Unlike the popular belief, Z shares a beautiful relationship with not just her Fizz, but with her mum as well. She gets pampered rotten by her dad and looks up to her mum... Everyday when I get up, I have to make sure I set the right examples for my 5 year old, because she looks up to me. I'm her favorite and so is her dad (girls know how to balance relationships, and so do boys. In fact, any child raised in a sensible manner will love her/his parent, I'd like to believe this).

She is emotional, strong, dramatic (very), funny, all this and much more... She's my little bundle of joy. I can hug her, kiss her, cuddle her and I will not get those 'what are you doing mom' looks.

Beside books, she loves her Lego set, her kitchen, her crayons, her racing cars and her bike. Whatever she does, she completely gets engrossed into it. You should see how creative she can get with her colors as well as her legos.

I have always maintained how blessed I feel when I think of Z and how she has made our life beautiful. I don't know how it is to have a son, but I, as a mum feel, I'm lucky to be a girl's mom... I'm lucky to have a daughter like Z. Alhamdulillah