“Rachel’s day in the garden” – a review and the fun we had being yogi bears!!

Think of cushioned socks walking on wooden floors. Gingerly , with soft thuds is how this mamma is treading the ground with her freshly three-year old. Gently, she reminds herself , gently. So what if he expresses, in no uncertain terms , anything with a hint of vegetables or with an accidental pronunciation of healthy  as ‘horrible’- I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that peculiar roll of  “rrs” ,but really I am worried. Who could adequately put a finger on the mysterious reasons why a toddler is the way he is? Or why he chooses to chew on wires? Or why sticky toffee in my hair is just so funny?

the-yogi-bears1

There are days and there are days. The latter leave me wobbly in all sorts of ways.  When Wednesday last weeble wobbled and refused to go down, I decided to take out a book I had long ago received to review. Not a good day for trying something new but I can’t resist odd outcomes ( being all wobbly might be held responsible for such decisions) So , with profound dignity  I  announced . ” Here’s a new book, Who wants to read? ” ” No one” , of course.

I  got my eight year old on my side and started to read with him to make my three-year old want to .( Yes, go on tell me where to get my smart parenting prize from!) .The book is called ” Rachel’s day in the garden” by Giselle Shardlow . It is a yoga story book for kids.

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Rachel and Sammy

Rachel with her little puppy goes out into the garden to explore the stirrings of newly arrived spring and like children and puppies do, they catch the movement and make it their own. Now when mamma turns storyteller with a book that is visually compelling and along with her voice lifts her hands and bends her legs , the bawling toddler starts to listen. My eight year old , who considers himself averse to picture books, now that he is a big chapter book reader, thinks the  illustrations are “cute”.  The bright , catchy art is by Hazel Quintanilla . There is an observable texture to the pictures and a lot of pattern use which we particularly like.

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For listening little boys, mountain pose and tree pose and warrior pose are mesmerizing words. Especially when mamma tries to do them and fails. The talking begins and we talk of the smell of rain and the seeds we’d like to grow. The eight year old throws in an astounding fact about caterpillars and so we know that caterpillars are picky eaters too but they grow into beautiful butterflies still. What a relief! The toddler is carried away by the fluffiness of the puppy and now starts to move his legs. We turn into yogi bears and all fall down.

We find Rachel doing the various yoga poses in a circle on each page as the story moves on . There is a list of yoga poses for kids and a parent-teacher guide at the back which is rather handy for special persons like me who are born into the land of Yoga and yet have stayed blissfully ignorant.  Yes, I am an awesome mum like that.

rachels-day-in-the-garden4-400We had a fun reading time and for once I don’t think I’ll mind rereading it a number of times. Toddlers are so fond of repetition ,why? And trying the various poses and falling and seeing my children laugh as they prove more agile than me. We found the book a great way to connect and well, looking at my kids laugh is ridiculously comforting somehow.

Hoping , Yoga will enter our lives in these sweet beginner like ways and calm will descend ! Hoping, someday I will be wobbly no more.

Here’s an Amazon link if you’d like some hours of imaginative relaxing fun:

Rachel’s day in the garden

Here’s how the memory of our reading time is stored in my head, just so you are curious:

the-yogi-bears

PS: Alexa Bigwarfe sent me a complimentary copy to review. This post is not sponsored, though, and all words (unless quoted) and opinions are mine.

 

Study of a jungle

On Elephant back.

Two very fuzzy little boys, slightly sweaty from a night under mosquito nets woke up at day peep. They were packed into the car, warm and giggly and taken to where the elephants stood tall and graceful all in a row.wp_ss_20160317_0003No dilly-dallying , strategically placing herself against the platform, just how her trainer the ‘mahout’ instructed  Miss Elephant let the little boys get on the howdah . Mamma and papa got up too, obviously. The rails were put back on and Miss Elephant set on to tumble and roll through mounds of color and grassy perfumes.

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Kaziranga national park. A new baby!!

A fragrant sunrise and a very quick sighting of a herd of deer, the little boys were beside themselves, dangling their legs in the most precarious ways , trying really hard to turn themselves into endangered species. All the while Papa was spotting away happily, ” a rhino there! there ‘s a baby too!!” ” those beefy wild buffaloes ” ” Another rhino” ” A deer”  , mamma went on whispering warnings ,” hold on” ” push yourself up” ” Don’t let go” .  A jumpy mamma brings the little ones laughter.

Fern fronds unfold and strappy dark leafy trees get taller. A stray branch comes perfectly  squiggly trying to scrape knees.  The slight wind catches up with Miss Elephant and riding on her through the jungle feels like riding on a wispy cloud. A height that doesn’t take to the top of the trees but to the densest middles where if you stood still, a plant would instantaneously grow on you, a creeper would warp over and again. A lake where the tiger comes to drink and a steep turn, Miss Elephant like a dancer makes. All this while the ‘mahout’ talks of tiger sightings and rhinos butting the elephants.

kaziranga national park 2
the barking deer!!

The jungle breathes heavy from the depths of the ground. A soporific perfume hangs, the little boys are lulled into quiet. On the elephant back, they have turned into arboreal creatures, dangling legs one with the tawny branches. Trees that look like fantasy, sprouting leaves in the blink of an eye.

Miss Elephant deposits them back on the platform. Poses for a picture . There are two more trips to make before she can call it a day.

All four pairs of eyes are gleaming. Like they do when one is starving but very happy. It doesn’t stop here. They go back to a warm breakfast and a safari on a jeep into the denser part of the jungle.

kaziranga national park 3
our road to adventure

Enchanted. All thought suspended.

The dawdler in Batman pajamas!!

Bed is delicious these days. Toffee-like. Fudge. Yummy to roll around. Stick-y. It has become difficult to dislodge.

I understand. I too have the urge.

Yet, every morning I give up, not without grudge, the delicious fudge. I get up and I  budge the dawdler. In Batman pajamas.

Getting up is easy, getting moving is not. Somewhere in that space between ‘up ‘ and ‘about’ exists my eight year old,wandering every which way ,going here, there, following every rabbit trail to nowhere in particular. It is a winter morning but he belongs to someplace in midsummer.

dawdler in pjs

I must push if we have to make it to school. I wear gravity, put on a blank face and begin to startle him into activity.

” Did you pack your backpack?”

“Yes”

” Did you sharpen your pencils?”

BAFFLED STARE.

” Go on ,then,” I say by way of a gentle nudge.

” Hand cleanser?”

“I’ll borrow.”

How slow is molasses ,really? Not as tardy as molasses going uphill. Not as slow as the dawdler. In Batman pajamas getting ready for school.

to the bathroom finally

What is so happy about a careless bundle of clothes on the floor?, you may ask. An illusion of urgent haste, a disappearing act, we have made it to the bathroom at last! I have already put out his toothbrush. As he rubs his eyes, pulling himself away from his Gotham , I see his stare dissolving into a picture he has made up . I find him ransacking his vast vocabulary. I try hard not to let a smile escape because if I am found, the dawdler will get fixed again. Instantly thread a story and babble away with speed.

shapes in toothpasteHow fast is instantaneous , really? Quick as a blink? Not as nimble as the dawdler’s brain with its impromptu flashes of witty irrelevance.

I move fast with a whooshing noise, folding away sudden day dreams and checking lunch boxes. It is time to go finally. Big Bear takes him to school. I smile and kiss. He smiles back mostly. I close the door and wait right there lest,

‘Knock , knock!

Who’s there?

Xavier

Xavier who?

Xavier breath, I am not leaving yet.’

Goodness, child I  love you. I’ll see you in the afternoon.

It is quiet in the house and I feel like giving a primal scream. I stop myself and take a deep breath instead.

” MAMMA,” I hear.

I have a toddler too.

An up and about toddler.

He is a dasher and now I WANT TO DAWDLE.

I want to be back in bed.

No accidental shift this.

BATMEN

A make believe Birthday!

AND A LESSON IN HAPPINESS!!

I almost never know till I turn around, hands covered in dough that my toddler has been standing behind me. I am taken aback everyday. In a rush to wash my hands, rustle up breakfast and pack lunches, I ask him if he needs something or if he needs to go poop. These days we make a lot of rounds to the ” baff room” and make grunting noises . SO, yes.

But then he said, “NO!!” and in the most unbearably charming way announced ,” It is me’s bresday”  and proceeded to burst into ” happy bresda-ay too- mee”,” sing mamma sing” . I sang half enchanted by his summer rain like singing and half already tired thinking about what I will have to do to play ‘Birthday’.

 

” Mamma, bake a cake in your oven and we will sing and all ‘animanimals’ will come for my bresday,” said he swaying his arms to some music my ears conveniently let go unheard.

“You be a giwaffe and I ‘ll be a softie wabbit.”

My baby was trying to celebrate himself. Wasn’t here a lesson for me? I so often disappoint the dreaming little thing I once was. How can I ever forget my elaborate plans for extravagant tea parties? I never went to one and only my old fluffy bear attended mine but were my afternoons blissfully busy!!

When we never went for a holiday, the little me went to the most loveliest faraway places complete with an itinerary, too many bags and a thousand misadventures all under my quilt . Make-believe is extraordinary. I called myself “Terry” for a full two years . To think of it now, ” Terry ” helped me cope at school. She wasn’t shy and it wasn’t hard for her to make friends. She left after helping me form two close friendships. I miss the boldness she gave me, the way she celebrated me.

I like her to be BIG!!

So we made a simple lemon drizzle cake. We added a tea light . We celebrated!!

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We need not always keep waiting for happiness to come our way. If you have felt under-appreciated for whatever reasons, ASK  to be made feel special.  Or better still, make yourself feel special!! Learn from the babies!!

If you got inspired and will play along, we would like to wish you a hapipiness-4P .S : Does your toddler have any garbled cute mispronunciations ? I am in no hurry to get the sounds right! I am going to miss them badly!! Will you??

In the pages of a book

in the pages of a book/ soft pastel/ November 2015

There is a ladder

into the sea

A boat to ride the waves

of salty generosity

No medieval map

No X marked spot

No swash buckling sea-men

to keep me company

On my own

I am on my way

to ‘it- might-have -been’

where Tom got lost

And Pippi got found

where Heidi held Snowflake

who then ran down

where I might stop by

for tea

with the mad hatters

who for certain

will capture me

I will

ride the waves again

this time with

ferocity

give up or find my way

it is all

up to me

Somewhere

in the pages of a book

‘it -might-have-been’

it is,there is

my favorite place to be.

rain-bootsThe most magical time of the year is here.I give my boy some fuzzy colorful socks,a cup of hot chocolate and a new book. Before you can say Willy Wonka, he is all tucked away in his favored chair. Quiet and happy as if he were a swaddled baby still. I find myself dissolving. Some memories, the farther time takes you away from them the more they tug at your heartstrings. I look at him, my baby still. The same gentle smile, the familiar chuckle , the rounded cheeks. It is all there. I am grateful.

It is scotch tape. It is cinnamon. It is a batch of sugar cookies. Blustery boots I don’t care if it is too early to say,’ it is Christmas.’ It is just the time to get cozy with a book while your tiny toe wiggles its way out of a little hole it has managed to poke in the new snuggly socks.  Irresistible. If you can stick your nose out in the air. Do. It is time.

To make your reading hours with your child more cuddlesome, here is a list of  some best-loved books put together by my eight year old!

  1. Heidi by Johanna Spyri – We promise you ll want to sleep on warm hay. You ll     want to eat too much cheese. Your boy will want to be a goat-herd. And your little girl will be more of sunshine than she already is!!
  2. Paddington helps out by Michael Bond – A lonely bear sitting on his suitcase at the station. Oh! you will want to take him home as did the Browns.  An English setting makes it even more charming.Each chapter is really a story about one of Paddington’s adventures. Just right for an evening’ s reading.
  3. Amelia Jane by Enid Blyton-  Toys that talk , walk and make you laugh! Amelia Jane is definitely getting a lump of coal for Christmas. Did you check this year’s Naughty Nice list??
  4. PIPPI Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren We had to put the name of this book in color!! Pippi is irrepressible!! Warning- Little girls may suddenly prefer WILD hairstyles. Not that they are in fashion!!
  5. Charlie and the chocolate factory by Roald Dahl ” hot ice cream for cold days”, “fizzy lifting drinks” that make you float and ” rainbow drops” that let you spit in seven different colors – need to know more? GO READ.
  6. The bed and breakfast star by Jaqueline Wilson ” Never lose hope, no matter what”
  7. William the outlaw by Richmal Crompton A  delightful read for young boys! Laugh together!!
  8. Treasure Island by R. L . Stevenson  No childhood must grow up without this!!  Roll your eyes , roll your tongue” Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s chest  Yo-ho -ho, and a bottle of Rum!”
  9. The hundred-mile-an-hour-dog  by Jeremy Strong – Streaker is no ordinary dog! There WILL be helpless laughter! Too funny!!
  10. The silly book of weird and wacky words by Andy Seed –  Wix up your Mords!!
                      happy reading!!

 

 

 

 

fast and furious

fast and furious

This is how I have been. RUN OVER. Splattered. Sprayed. Sprinkled. Blown into a bubble. And busted.

Crinkled. MunCHED. Shoved away. Found again to be chewed once more. I have been candy one moment and gross-whatever the next.

Unexpected. I have been attacked by surprise. By a whir vroom sudden rise in the frequency of tantrums my toddler can display in a day ( and night).

It starts with a quiet whine. Then a slight grumble that hastily becomes a chortle and a ROAR that explodes and makes my cells cough all their plasma out.(insert sound of hacking cough in whispers.)

I have just been hit again. RUN OVER. Splattered. Sprayed. Sprinkled. Blown into a bubble. And busted.

How it starts and why I can not explain. It is some absurd complex contraption of a toddler head. If I didn’t kiss within some well-defined radius of a boo boo or I forgot which of the seventy-seven scribbles was a banana. I really can not explain.

Just that it comes on FAST. Just that it comes on FURIOUS. Just that I stand no chance. Just that I am RUN OVER. Splattered. Sprayed. Sprinkled. Blown into a bubble. And busted.

No, time-OUT doesn’t work. Nor do distractions.  I am beat. My toddler is a beast. For today at least. My brain has run out of space for tomorrow. The tea isn’t working. Cough cough. Excuse me my cells-were-a choking.

Oh! yes I am fine. Just hoping this will go. Just as FAST as it came. Whir vroom. At least it will give me a cautioning “BEEP -BEEP” before I am RUN OVER. Splattered. Sprayed. Sprinkled. Blown into a bubble. And busted.

So I can breathe, channelize the yin and the yang. So I can have a moment of enlightenment before I approach the FURIOUS.

 

 

Eight

IMG_20131219_143938How can it be that you are eight? My little one – eight? I wouldn’t believe it if you weren’t so happy to be eight. But eight? You are proud to be eight. And I AM PROUD OF YOU. You are eight.

You are funny and wise and a mamma’s boy. Sometimes you talk so wise , I wonder if you are an old soul at eight.Your idea of good times is a cup of warm tea with a book on a rainy day. And then in your crackling laughter and silly jokes I find my little boy again.

O! boy do you love to talk? You make little documentaries on your plants’ day to day growth. You start with a line and whip up a poem in eight seconds.You imagine detailed pictures of things you are going to invent and flood me with information.You lend words to sentences I can’t end.

Reading is so much fun for you now. You are always wanting more to read and laugh out loud when something’s funny. I love to hear those chuckles so.

You really like to do art with me and  have remarkable taste that is more 108 than eight. We have spent so many’ crafternoons ‘ together and I really hope you ll look back fondly at these times when you are all grown up.

You are the BEST BIG BROTHER EVER. Even when the little one can’t keep his hands to himself. You read to him when I ask you to. You find it boring but still you do.

You like to be loved gently and do not appreciate rough love though Papa will be glad to have a wrestle round with you. You like it when we all just lie down together and talk. You still want to be nestled like a baby sometimes.

I am glad that you are finally making a lot of friends. School has been a little hard on you that way. You are doing better work at school and don’t mind the tests anymore.

When sometimes you snap, you always come up with a hug in a few minutes. You find it a little hard to say “sorry” and we got to work on that.

You think girls are silly and Boys are fun. You love playing games on the computer and are also ready to spend an evening doing needlework.

You,little one are adorable.(I still can’t believe eight.)

Mamma wishes you a wonderful EIGHT!!

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happy birthday!!

 

win the homework battle

win the homework battle
homework caddy

It is a BATTLE. Homework is. And victory can not be yours if you do not keep patience.

My kid is mostly happy and he is very smart too. But suggest doing homework and he mutates into a lackadaisical alligator. In the slowest slow mo he crawls to his drawer. Somehow gets his books out (imagine the clumsiness-he is an alligator) and wriggles back to the table. At this point, his eyes are almost always dilated ,clouds are gathering and tears are on their way.

This very child can finish a book 400 pages thick , back to back in a day. Ask him about tornadoes and earthquakes, he is a know-all. He could craft all day if I let him. He is aware, cares about the environment.

But HOMEWORK ,the very word triggers weird alligator behavior. And Homework isn’t just responsible for his metamorphosis but mine too. Into ‘desperate do anything to get it done’ mommy. Oh I really do hate myself then. I just hope my boy doesn’t.

Psst : We have had wars! Numerous WARS. In the end the homework was done only to leave both of us exhausted and undone.

PPssst: When I was utterly defeated , I quickly in child like handwriting scribbled a few sentences (that is all the homework was) in his book. SHAMEFUL, I have since known. And corrected my irresponsible actions.

Camera360_2015_7_5_111227We never have a lot of homework. Thrice a week with a weekly Monday Test. Just enough to keep the child busy for about an hour. Just right to build in a little bit of responsibility.

But then who loves homework? I didn’t. Unless it was something my favorite teacher sent home or it was to do with drawing. And that is the whole purpose of it. To slowly, grudgingly learn responsibility.

I ended my WAR like attitude some weeks back. I have since taken on a laid back carefully thought plan of action. From an insane battle I am slowly changing it into a quiet busy time when neither of us is losing it.

ARM yourself . Yes, arm yourself with unending patience and a loving smile.

ARM your kid with a homework caddy, fill a box up with sharpened pencils, erasers, rulers, crayons and glue. Keep the usage limited only to the homework hour.  Forbidden is FUN. Recall something?

HOMEWORK is not an EMERGENCY. GRADES aren’t up for SALE. I have stopped acting like that and so should you. The more rushed you ll seem, the more sedate and unhurried your alligator will be.

Assign an hour to homework. Start by the clock. And the dreaded hour will start getting better. Allow sighs, wide eyed looks, droopy looks , tired hands, rubbed so much it got torn pages, tears. YOU ARE ARMED, remember? With patience.

DO NOT EVER DO YOUR CHILD’S HOMEWORK. NEVER. EVER. NOT A WORD. PERIOD.

PRAISE. Remember potty training? Whoo hoo high five kind of praise. It touches their little hearts.It works better than those stars and smileys.

On a no homework day , stick to your schedule. A little mental math, or a spelling task or a crossword.Anything that makes for quiet study. I do not let my boy read his story book in this hour lest he gets confused. This is not a favorite quiet activity time but an hour for something you are supposed to do.

Let your child play with abandon. Homework stays within its time. No nagging before or after.

If it doesn’t get done one day, it is okay. You are not rearing an irresponsible human being. Do not panic. All days aren’t the same. Some days are difficult. And children need to learn that.

If you ever come to the point when your child is feeling overwhelmed or crying ,then it is not the time to make them learn from their mistakes or start a new lesson. That time is later.

Do not COMPARE your child to his peers, or your friend’s very sincere child or a hard working cousin. That is the most disastrous mistake to make. Your child is a bright individual. Help him accept his singular self. How proud you were when he was a new born? How unadulterated the love was? Keep it that way. She is still the MOST  beautiful wonder your eyes have seen. MY SON IS MY FAVORITE SEVEN YEAR OLD IN THIS WHOLE WIDE WORLD. They quickly forgive our yelling and bad moods. And we must let them express their dislikes and anger too. Sometimes.(ha ha!!)

Do not punish. It isn’t your homework. Not giving in homework one day makes the child realize that he should have.

Camera360_2015_7_9_113500Homework and school is not the only education. Apart from that one hour, my child is free. He finds creative stuff to do. He learns better on his own. He plays. He recently discovered a colony of earthworms at school and got declared the most observant on a nature walk. These are things I am really proud of. He knows.

Stop being hyper vigilant . This very moment.

We aren’t supposed to micromanage our children’s lives. It isn’t a numbered dot to dot. A free hand drawing it is. A doodle. Right just the way it is.

Give time. Take time.

In the homework race do not miss out on the laughs.

Camera360_2015_7_9_113331He is still the baby in your arms in so many ways. He always will be.

This alright already.

I need to find my alligator. And tickle him into homework!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrible twos.

Accidentally on purpose.

Dear toddler

I know it. I know what you are up to. You are doing it all accidentally on purpose.

Little man, you are testing my patience , trying my temper. You are floating your boat , rustling up a storm and watching Mommy go down and drown in a sea of plastic toys.

You are watching my moves. You are not letting my derriere touch the couch.Right in the moment of contact, you are always asking for water. When I sit, you want me up and running because I guess you want to study a flurry of activity. And you want me to come lie down with you when I am a moving mass of hurry. You are making me tread a tightrope and you are distracting me as I tip toe.

You are holding on to your glass of juice with the tips of your fingers and making sure there is a sticky puddle every few minutes. And you are making it plain that no one, not even daddy gets to wipe the fine mess. That I am your special person is perfectly clear.

You are stating your absolute NO and your defiant YES. And then you are wanting to squeeze me as you please. And bring me to my knees.

You are copying my words, you are waiting for me to lose it. You want to know when Mommy will yell and when everything is swell.

You look at me looking at you and you throw whatever is in your hands and run away. And if I don’t follow , you come surprised and throw a tantrum instead.

You want my help and you don’t want my help. (You just now squirted glue on my phone and are laughing) You have glued my brain, not to mean that my phone is my brain. Well it is.

You sing and you dance and and you like me to watch. You want to draw on me with your crayon. And when I am all mushy , you say ,”GO away”

You know ‘important’ and it is your purpose to destroy it. You know ‘properly’ and it is fun to shake all proper out of it.

You say, ” I am scared.” Of ant, of wasp, of lizard, of dog, of crow.You want to come into my lap.

Little man, I know it. I know it all. Accidentally on purpose. You are becoming your own special person. It is not just the terrible twos.

I am trying to not to fail you. I am trying to give you a pleasant mommy. It takes a lot but you let me smother you with my kisses. So it is okay.

But sometimes, please let mommy sit.