Saturday, May 6, 2017

Goodnight stories for rebel girls

There are good books, there are great books and then there our books which touch our lives in a very special ways. They tell stories which inspire us, make us happy, tales which we instantly connect with, stories which make us pick the book up again and again.

Today, I'm writing about one such book which I recently came across. The title of the book was appealing enough for me to pick it up for my little Z. What I didn't know was that the stories in the book will touch my heart as much as they inspire my daughter. The book is called Goodnight stories for Rebel girls. It's written by  Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. It has illustrations by 60 female artists  from across the globe. 

I made Z pick up her abosolute favorites and she did give me a long list after a lot of drama, according to her, "how can I pick only a few. I love all the stories." Anyway, her favorites include Margaret Hamilton, Brenda Chapman, Ann Makosinski, Coy Mathis, Maria Montessori, Jane Austen, Cleopatra, Julia Child, Simone Billes, Ashley Fiolek, Nelly Bly and Malala Yousafzai. I can't blame her for picking so many of them.

We have read these stories once and we are reading it once again... I know it definitely isn't the last time she is (sorry we are) reading it. I love the message in the beginning of the the book as well; "To the rebel girls of the world: Dream bigger, aim higher, fight harder, and when in doubt, remember you are right."

I wish I had Goodnight stories for rebel girls, when I was a little girl. 

Please do not think twice and pick this up for yourself and your kids.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Leaving with a bagful of memories

I see so many parents now-a-days who just question the 'standards' of schools. And then there are schools like Siksha - a little place in one of the quiet green roads of BTM, Bangalore; this place was a blessing for my child and many such children.

What started on the 5th of June 2013 with Z joining Siksha Montessori, finally ends today with my daughter graduating. And what an incredible journey it has been.

It's been a beautiful ride and we (Faizan and me) couldn't have asked for more. Siksha soon became a very important part of Z's life. She spoke non-stop about her school and how every experience was enjoyable and enriching, the amazing day she had, the discussions, celebrations, mishaps, presentations et. al.

Once she settled down in Siksha, I have never heard her say "Mumsy I don't want to go to school". When she attended her extended sessions for a few months, where her school hours increased, she was equally excited. She learned so much, but more than anything, she enjoyed the process.
You were the first environment Z encountered outside her home, and you've given her much more than we, as her parents could've asked for. Siksha was more than just a school for us... it was a place she made her second home, a place she felt safe, secure, loved and free.
A huge shout out to all the aunties and the help staff... you took care of so many little ones, and continue to do so. It is nothing short of a blessing for us.
It was by chance that Faizan, Z and I walked into those Siksha gates... but, finally when we chose Siksha, we instantly connected with the environment and Neetha’s vision... As parents, not once did we have a chance to doubt our decision.
It is time to move on, and we will miss Siksha as much as Z. The next school she joins, has to match up to the high standards Siksha has set. This, is not just for us,
I know I speak for many graduating parents.
Siksha has given a beautiful environment to my daughter and the transition will be a challenging one for her and for us.
Thanks Siksha for the beautiful foundation you've given to our child. Thanks for transforming her into a sensible little girl and a nice person at heart. Words won't do justice to all that I want to say.
Here is to the amazing people at Siksha, may you keep touching the lives of many many more children out there. God bless you!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Trap

Picture this:

A nice warm Sunday morning and all you want is to stay in bed for just a little longer. Usually, I start thinking too much, throw the covers and get up without even letting my mind relax. That Sunday was different, it was a Sunday, which made me lazy and just stay in bed for a little longer. Since, my husband was snoring away, which was pretty unusual (no not the snoring bit, but the staying late in bed bit), I thought, I would enjoy my Sunday. After contemplating for half an hour, trying to enjoy, I got up. As I stepped out of the room, I see my 6 year old sitting there, reading The BFG for the nth time. Now, if you know Z, you'd say that's not unusual, I agree. What was unusual was she was all dressed up... teeth brushed, changed, ate breakfast and combed her hair. 

I, for one, don't want her to grow up too soon, I want her to feel like a baby... I tried to ignore the sight as a 'one-off' and sat down with my chai and mobile... She gets up, goes in my house help's room and says "Mumsy uth gayee hai, breakfast banate hain" (Mumsy is up, let's make breakfast). She takes my house-help to the kitchen and gets breakfast ready. Half my breakfast is 2 slices of toasted whole wheat bread and at least she prepared that. I see her get the plate from the kitchen. I try, not to look up, and she says, "Excuse me Mumsy, breakfast is important."  I pout, keep my phone away and take the plate. Once I'm done she takes my plate and I'm back with my phone (I usually avoid phones on Sundays, but the scene in front of me was super scary).

I feel like someone standing in front of me, AGAIN. I look up, she has a The BFG: Plays for Children in her hand. She says, "I did everything for you, and you forgot your promise."

Ahhh! Blackmail, I like that.

Me (my smile which had faded away back on my face): "Yes Z, tell me" I throw my phone away.
Z (now, she is pouting): "You promised you will read the 'whole book' with me"

My smile fades away a little... one part of my brain says "What? You promised to read aloud a 120 'pager' in one day... are you nuts?" another part is constantly saying, "A promise is a promise, besides she did so much for you in the morning."

My smile broadens and my eyes twinkle, "Let's do it"

Z has a broader smile and a brighter twinkle in her eyes, "Yes!" she said... As if saying, "You fell in the TRAP again"

Score: Mumsy 000 Z 100

Post that 1 and a half hours were filled with completely crazy book-a-licious fun.


Score: Mumsy 100 Z 100

After I read the last page, I turn to Z and say, "Next time, just tell me to read, avoid the drama."

She smiles...

A Sunday well spent.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review - A kitten called Moonlight

Some books leave an impact on you no matter how simple the story line. With a few books you can't put a finger on what is that one thing that really touched your heart. A kitten called Moonlight is one such book. This one is a winner also, because it makes Z and me snuggle up, read and go into our own little world. A world full of hugs, books and a little ball of fur... Moonlight is a lot like Fluff (our own little kitten - which is little no more). Anyway, let's come back to the book before I start discussing about anything besides the book.

A kitten called Moonlight is a story by Martin Waddell and beautifully illustrated by Christian Birmingham. Charlotte and her mom have a favorite story (don't we all), this is a special tale as it is based on an incident which actually happened. The story about the night Charlotte and her mother rescued a little kitten by the sea. The kitten wouldn't have been found, if not for the silver moonlight. That is the reason why Charlotte chooses to name the kitten Moonlight. The book talks about being selfless and caring for others.

What makes this book all the more special are the life-like illustrations by Christian Birmingham. The soft strokes used are just perfect for a story which talks about being sensitive and caring. 

Z loves this book, both Z and me are cat people, and A kitten called Moonlight is just the perfect this mother - daughter duo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review - The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why I chose an Elementary Montessori for Z?

Image Courtesy: Google

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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