Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chugging off to a vacation...

With Abhay’s school closed for the summer and Bangalore’s Civil Courts following suit, there can be no better time than this to take a vacation from our routine lives. So we are off to Kerala for a week to relax and rejuvenate on the banks of the Vembanad lake along its backwaters. As we prepare to leave tonight on the train, I suddenly realized that it is Abhay’s first time on the Indian railways. He has been on the train before, but it was in the US and we all know that there is a huge difference between travelling from New York to Boston on Amtrack  and travelling from Bangalore to Kottayam on the Kuzhivelil Express! I, for one believe the latter is much more exciting than the former and am sure my curious little one would agree! Anyway, considering how much he is fascinated by trains and how obsessed he has been with the Thomas series, today's event deserves a mention on Onestoryaday but what a shame that  I don’t have any book lined up to celebrate the same! So making a last minute entry in our last minute packing checklist my last minute pick for the day!
Since I didnt have the time to make the trip to the library, I had to fall back on my  home collection....and Voila! What did I of our old favorites!  Although I did make a mention of this book in one of my earlier posts on trains, I guess I didnt do complete justice to this timeless made into an animated movie. "The Little Engine that Could" by Watty Piper, a book that needs no introduction puffed its way into our bedtime routine last night.  This is a story of determination and perseverence on the part of a little blue engine who took upon a challenge with a simple mantra "I think I can'! A little train rumbled over the tracks carrying a jolly load of toys, dolls, teddybears, picture puzzles,  fresh fruits and vegetables, candies, and other wonderful things for little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. Then all of a sudden, she stopped with jerk and could not move any further. So all the toys decide to seek assistance from other engines to help them get to the other side of the mountain. First comes a shiny new engine, an important passenger engine, then a freight engine and then a rusty old engine - but no one obliges. Then  comes a little blue engine who has never pulled a train over the mountain. She is not sure if she is up to it, but is moved by the tears swelling down the dolls' faces and decides to help them. She puffs and chugs along saying  "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can" as she climbs up faster and faster until she reaches the top of the mountain when all the toys and dolls cheer. Down in the valley lay the city where good little boys and girls were waiting for the toys and treats carried by the little blue engine.....who now says "I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could"!! Thats the same mantra Im now chanting as I write this post last minute.........just before we are about head to the railway station! :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hanging out with Abhay!

I love doing what I do and could never see myself doing anything else other than practicing law! This is one thing most of my childhood friends can vouch for – I have always wanted to do law and ended up doing just that! As I passed out of college and enrolled myself as an advocate at the Karnataka bar, I had no idea how hectic my life would become once I joined my Senior’s chambers. Still, I didn’t mind the long hours, the hard work and the not-so-great pay as long I was enjoying doing what I was doing. All was well until I had Abhay and that’s when I realized that litigation does not spare any quality time for family…especially for a young mom with young kids! It’s a story of most women advocates! In the evenings, after Court work, we have office work to attend to while our kids come home to their grandparents or worse still,  the maid; We have clients to meet, lists to check and update, when all we want to do is check on our little one’s school work; No matter how hard we work during the day, our competency is always assessed by how late we stay! But come April, any litigation lawyer will be glad she chose to work in litigation, thanks to the month long vacation for Civil Courts! With courts closed for over four weeks, we can finally take our kids to the park or take them swimming or on a play date every evening ……..something we can only dream of when Courts are working!
Anyway, I can’t believe it’s been three days already since the civil courts closed…..hmmm....I could get used this! J Since I’ll get to spend more with Abhay, I read “Hanging out with Mom”, a Level 2 Scholastic Early reader by Sonia W. Black and illustrated by George Ford. Abhay of course could not read all of it by himself, but managed to read a little with help. A young boy is thrilled to see his mom come home from work early and requests her to take him to a park to play. Changing into their casual clothes, the boy and his mom head out. They first stop to grab some evening snacks and then drive to the park where he finds runners, hikers, basketball players, skaters and bikers. Young kids stop by the rabbit hutch and the older kids fly kites. The boy and his mom stop by the pond to feed the ducks and then race to the playground, the boy reaching first closely followed by his mom (moms are always last in the race ..right?). The boy slides down the giant slide while his mom waits for him at the bottom and as he climbs up the monkey bars, his mom cautions him to be careful. As they play in sand, they find sand in their shoes and in their hair, but they are having so much fun that they hardly care! As it turns dark, it’s time to go, but the boy is certain he will come back for sure as evenings in the park is the best part of the day – both for him and his mom! So….I hope Abhay’s looking forward to hanging out with his mom …..just as I am! Happy Holidays to my fellow advocates !!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Abhay's field trip!

Abhay is not fond of his summer camp and I can’t believe this has happened after I went through the trouble of listing out all the summer camps in our area, assessing their pros and cons in terms of his preferences, working out the logistics of pick-up and drop to finally zero in on the one that seemed perfect for him! Despite all the legwork, my five year old would rather spend his mornings at home instead of his summer camp. Can’t blame him when he is the odd man out in his batch – he is too old for the Summer splash program for 2 to 5 year olds and too young for the Snow flakes program for 6-11 year- olds! So each morning, I have to don the role of a motivational speaker goading my reluctant five year old into attending a camp for which I had to pay a pretty penny for! Okay I admit it …..I  mucked up….but is it fair to rub salt on my wound every day? So more than him, I can’t wait for the summer camp to be over! J

Over the weekend, however, Abhay was excited to go his camp as they were to take him on a field trip to Cubbon park. In order to prep him up for the upcoming trip, I had him read “The Class Trip” a Level 1 Scholastic Early Reader by Grace Maccrone and illustrated by Betsy Lewin. It’s been a while since I had Abhay read to me, so this was a good way to get back into practicing his reading. Everyone in class lines up before the school bus to go on a class trip. The teacher puts on her hat with a polka dot bow and announces its time to go. The children take their seats, sing and talk on their way to the zoo.  As they reach the zoo. Sam is fascinated by the animals he sees and wants to stay while his friends move on. The teacher asks Sam to keep up with the group whereas Sam is engrossed in watching the elephants walk, the lions run and polar bears enjoying the sun! Sam gazes at the fish that swim, frogs that leap, and turtles asleep! When Sam turns around, he has a scare that his group is not there! Sam then looks up high and then looks down low and tries to stand on tippy toe – that’s when he spots the hat with a polka dot bow! Sam runs to his teacher and stays with his group throughout the rest of their class trip. Being the eldest in his group, Abhay must have felt as lost as Sam actually was during his field trip!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping cool this summer!

With over two months sans school and lots of time to kill, I was on a relentless look out for activities/classes/workshops to enroll my five year old into so that he is not bored at home all day. But in my attempt to keep him engaged, I now probably have him over engaged! No sooner did his summer vacations begin than I had him enrolled into a couple of classes and now before you know it, my little one is hardly at home! His mornings are taken up by a summer camp which is over by noon leaving him a couple of hours for lunch before he has his music class from where he has to rush to his swimming lessons! Oops!…the overscheduling mommy has struck once again…….only this time it’s not me but my in-laws who are doing all the running-around! So it’s a busy summer of 2012 .....both for Abhay and his grandparents!!

Jokes apart, I am extremely thankful to my in-laws without whom Abhay would have had to stay put at home! Besides, summer of 2012 has been unusually sultry in Bangalore and the scorching heat doesn’t make it ideal for ferrying Abhay around from class to class. Unable to bear the Bangalore heat, today I read “Clifford keeps cool” by Norman Bridwell. Its summer and Clifford and Emily Elizabeth cannot wait to soak up some sunshine. Emily recalls how Clifford had been uncomfortable the previous summer when it been the hottest in several years. Clifford felt extremely thirsty and even after drinking all of the water in his bowl, he was still thirsty. He saw a dog go by in a car with its top down and wanted to do the same but there isn’t a car on Birdwell Island that can accommodate him. So he jumped on a truck and was enjoying the breeze until the truck came to an underpass. Clifford then saw a pool and simply dived in emptying the pool off most of its water, upsetting people in the pool. As Clifford tried to find ways to cool himself, Emily took him to a park at the edge of town. It was a park with a waterfall which was just the right height for the big red dog to keep cool during summer! As I read this book, I could hear the rains  lashing in giving us the much needed respite from the summer heat! Enjoy the pre-monsoon showers while it lasts!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Just go to Bed!

When your kids have summer vacations, it feels as if everyone at home is on a vacation…if only that were true! But it is also true that mornings seem a lot more relaxed when you don’t have to wake up your five year old at 6.45 AM, get him ready just in time for the school bus  at 7.30 AM. Or you can afford to snooze on a few minutes more than usual as there is no rush to pack your little one’s lunch; but at the same time, you tend to get a little lax on timings yourself. For instance, I haven’t been able to leave for work as early as I used to when Abhay was out of the house by 8.00 AM. Similarly, the night-time curfew has been relaxed since Abhay does not need to wake up at daybreak. On one hand, I’m relieved that I don’t have speed things up in the evening so that Abhay is in bed by 9.00 PM at night, on the other, having him stay awake as long as we do is not only tiresome but robs us of whatever quiet time we earlier had when our son had school! Im sure Abhay doesn't, but I sure miss his school!:-)

So today I read a book titled “Just go to bed” a Little Critter’s story by Mercer Mayer, a book you will simply love as it’s a story of every parent of a young child! Little Critter is no mood to call it a day and continues to engage in pretend play. He is a cowboy rounding up the cows when his daddy asks him to come inside and get ready for bed. He then becomes an army general playing with his military set and his father joins in pretending to be his superior ordering him to take a bath. He then turns into a space cadet to zoom to the moon when the space cadet gets captured by the giant robot ( his dad) only to put him in  a bath tub. In the bath tub, Little Critter doesn’t stop playing with his bath toys, pretending to be a sea monster, when his father asks the sea monster to feed on his snack. Feeding his toy animals instead, he takes on the role of a zookeeper when the zookeeper’s father hands over his bunny pajamas. But instead of slipping into his pajamas, Little Critter is seen playing with his train as a train engineer being chased by bandits. Donning a bandit’s mask, his patient dad lifts him up to help him put on his bunny pajamas, when he speeds off as a race car driver. With his patience waning, his father announces with a stern voice that the race is over and its time for bed. But Little Critter puts on his pajamas and hops into the living room as a bunny expecting his dad to join him in the late night banter. At this point, his dad has had enough and is visibly angry with him when he asks his little tormentor to “Just go to bed”! When he is finally in bed, fighting to open his eyes, his parents peep into his room and quietly  wish him good night! Well…..we’ve all been there….done that…..and some like me are still doing it!!!!  

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Having lived in the interior region of Karnataka for most of my life, I have always been fascinated by the sea. In fact, a trip to the Panumbur beach was always included in our itinerary when we visited my maternal grandparents in Mangalore. I remember how we couldn’t contain out excitement on our short drive to the beach, how we didn’t mind walking barefooted on the sand that was burning hot and how we squealed with laughter as we got soaked by the foam filled waves that splash their way to the shore. I also enjoyed basking in the seaside sun and then watching it paint the sky crimson red as it set in the evening. It was a dejavu for me as we drove the boys to the same beach, on the last day of our trip to South Kanara last weekend. Abhay who was never a beach buddy during the first half of our stay in the US, slowly began to enjoy our trips to Hawaii and the Oregon coast as he loved to play with his beach toys and make sand castles. As we reconciled to the fact that our darling son was probably more of a sand lover than a sea lover, he did a volte face on our final trip to the seaside last July when he insisted on playing in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean rather than the sand on its shore.  Whatever said and done, I am happy that three years in the US had turned my son into a beach lover just like his mom!

Anyway, last Sunday’s experience at the Panumbur beach gave me more reasons to smile, as Abhay got more adventurous with the sea waves, thanks to his beach loving brothers! In celebration of the same, last night I read,  “Hello Ocean” by Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrated by Mark Astrella. This book highlights a young girl’s discovery of her love for the ocean complemented by true to life illustrations of the picturesque ocean. So much so that the pictures that seem more like a montage of photographs than hand-sketched illustrations, make you yearn for a day out at the beach, the minute you put down the book. As the girl arrives at the beach with her family, she cant wait to hit the waters that change colors from gray to blue and then to green just like a chameleon. She stares at the wide open water reflected in a bowl of skies and loves the way the ocean looks. As she enters the water, she hears the crashing waves sounding like a lion roaring and feels the water rushing in between her toes only to whisper back to the sea again. She loves the various of sounds in the ocean – froggy songs from distant boats, gentle clangs from bobbing floats and the screak of seagull flying high above. As she prepares to surf on her board, she gets pulled and pushed by the restless sea and waves pounce on her in rowdy play. As she touches the squishy, soggy ground and slippery seaweed, the sudden breeze blows away the sand in her hand held shovel, she realizes how much she loves the way the ocean feels. She sunbathes on her beach mat and inhales in the fresh salty wind of the sea, the smell of the fish, drying kelp and musty shells –she loves the way the ocean smells. As she swims in the ocean water, she recalls that its taste is similar to how her tears taste and she cant stop licking her face as she loves the way the ocean tastes! As the sun goes down, the little girl bids goodbye and promises to visit her old best friend again, the Ocean! A must read for any sea lover or an aspiring sea lover!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Abhay goes to a village fair!

Last week was a truncated week at work with one holiday in the middle of the week and another towards the end, making it ideally suited for a quick getaway. Ah!….the pleasure of working in India with its numerous Government holidays! J Since my husband’s native Polali, a small village in South Karana District of Karnataka was holding its annual temple fair the same time, we jumped into the travel bandwagon too and headed out of Bangalore for a couple of days. My husband was excited about going to his native temple fair, an event he had grown up watching, after a gap over four years and Abhay was excited about travelling with his cousins for the first time! So with three little monkeys, their respective moms, the older monkey (with due apologies) and his mom (my mother in law), we travelled to a village fair and were enthralled by the rustic charm of rural India in all its hues and colors!

We left the boys free ……to jump, play and run as much as they wanted across the vast open spaces that typically lie in front of an Indian village home, something they miss in a crowded city like Bangalore. More than the temple pooja, they were interested in the makeshift giant wheel rides and stalls selling ice creams, toys and other knick knacks (understandably so!) while we got to see the splendor of a village fair through the wonderous eyes of a child once again ….thanks to our kids! Remembering the good time we had over the weekend, I read “The Village Fair” a bi-lingual book from Tulika by Radhika Meghanathan and illustrations by Nancy Raj. It is Meenu’s birthday and she is thrilled when Grandpa promises to take her to the village fair. However, when the day arrives Meenu slips from the stairs and breaks her leg. Meenu at first feels dejected at not being able to have fun at the village fair. But thanks to her family and friends, Meenu is able to experience all the fun by staying at home – with grandpa bringing in two men with two huge bundles of new clothes to choose from; Her grandma buying her new toys from the village toymaker who calls on them; A sumptuous birthday feast at home leaves Meenu thirsty when the ice cream man walks in with colouful ice candies; In the evening, a woman comes pushing a ferris when her grandpa lifts her onto a basket and swings the ferris wheel that goes up and comes down sending Meenu into a tizzy! Just then a man with yellow stripes dressed as a tiger performs acrobatics called “Pulivesham” and Meenu cant believe her luck to have the entire village fair at her doorstep! This is a great read for someone completely oblivious to the vibrant life in rural India. Abhay liked the colorful illustrations that made him remember all what we did last couple of days in our village fair, particularly the tiny ferris wheel being swung by a couple of men. So if your child has never been to a village fair, read The Village fair and don’t forget to visit one too!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Abhay and his selective hydrophobia!

Come summer and it’s the universal time to hit the pool! It’s probably something most kids look forward to this season…but certainly not Abhay! I don’t know what to do with the selective hydrophobia that has come to haunt my son yet again! ‘Selective” because my son loves frolicking in  water otherwise….but it is the big bad swimming pool he is scared of and he is petrified of jumping into its pellucid blue waters…especially when his feet cannot reach the pool floor! It took over three  levels of swimming lessons back to back plus continuous practice over a period of one year, and finally lapping up as many picture books as I could find on the same subject to help Abhay overcome his fear of swimming in a pool. But I’m not sure if he has been spoiled by the indoor temperature controlled pools of the US, or by the sweet talking American coaches of his previous lessons, because when we took him for a swimming class yesterday, after a gap of over eight months, he acted as if he was entering a swimming pool for the very first time ever! “Oh…No ..not again” is all we had to say!

So I fell back on my old method of reading to him about other’s experiences in the swimming pool. What’s better than reading about one of his favorite characters –“Peppa Pig goes swimming”! It’s a sunny day and Peppa Pig and her family are at the swimming pool. Armed with their arm bands, Peppa and George are all set to get into the pool. But George is not as excited as Peppa since it is his first time at the swimming pool. Mummy pig convinces George into jumping into the water when George realizes that he loves it! Just then Rebecca Rabbit arrives along with her little brother Richard, who appears as nervous as George was. Mother pig then encourages both the first-timers to hold on to their float boards and practice kicking their legs. Peppa and Rebecca show off their swimming skills courtesy their arm bands when Daddy Pig asks them not to splash too much to which the much offended Peppa clarifies that big kids don’t splash as big kids are good at swimming. But everything is forgotten as they race each other down the pool and have fun swimming and splashing in the water and their little brothers kick their legs earnestly with the intention of learning to swim as well as their big sisters! When Richard drops his toy into the water, Daddy pig comes to his rescue by diving down to retrieve it as everyone has a wonderful time at the pool. I wonder when Abhay will enjoy the pool as much as George did!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Will you play with me?

With the academic year 2011-12 coming to a close, summer vacations have begun in full swing for most young kids. Over the weekend we had Abhay’s close cousins visiting us right after they turned in their last exam paper! So for the last four days, we had three boisterous boys creating havoc in a place that used to be our home! J Abhay of course enjoyed the company of his older cousins while they got to pamper their youngest cousin who seemed too young to rival with them!  With their academic year drawing to an end, exams over, schools closed with no more lessons or homework to do and days getting longer, there was nothing to stop these three boys from doing what they’ve always wanted to do - non-stop, uninterrupted and unadulterated play leaving us parents and grandparents short of breath, energy and at times  … our temper!

Before we knew it, our action packed weekend flew past and it was time for them to go home. Since Abhay missed his beloved cousins today, I tried to cheer him up by having him read about Margret and H.A.Rey’s Curious George in “Let’s play” written by Catherine Hapka.  A part of Curious about Phonics series, this Early Reader introduces emergent readers to long a  vowel sounds. George wants to play but cannot decide what to play – should he play a board game, or baseball or with a toy train, or with his pail and spade by the river side? Just then an alligator swims out of the river and offers to play with him! ‘No way” he shouts as he runs away! The book ends with George asking you ( or your little one) a question – Will you play with George? This is not a story book of sorts but Abhay definitely got perked up on seeing Curious George and his funny antics! Cheer up … curious little one, if not Anirudh and Aditya, you’ll sure find someone to play with you this summer!!!