Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monsters under bed!

It’s been more than  a week since we got back from our vacation and I’m still having trouble with Abhay’s sleeping habits. I've been successful in re-establishing his sleep routine though, all thanks to a consecutive round of afternoon play dates that tires him enough to make him want to hit the bed by 8.30-9.00 at night. But the problem is which bed does he want to sleep in? Not his own, apparently there are monsters under his bed or hiding in his closet not letting him fall asleep!!!! Now the question is how do we get our little monster to sleep on his bed? For the last couple of days, his daddy’s severe cold and cough was a good enough reason to hold him off as we’d convinced him that he might catch cold if he slept in our bed…...but I don’t think I can get away with that one today! 

So I had his daddy read the well known book “Go Away Green Monster” by Ed Emberley. A wonderful book to help your little one to brave those imaginary monsters that make their appearance at night! With colorful illustrations on its die cut pages, both you and your little one first construct the monster starting with its yellow eyes, then a long blue nose, and a big red mouth with sharp white teeth, scraggly purple hair and lastly a big green scary face! Don’t be alarmed….your little one can make the monster go away by further turning its pages and deconstructing its blue nose, big green face, red mouth, sharp white teeth and finally the two big yellow eyes making the monster disappear all together….as simple as that! So is Abhay ready to sleep in his own room? Hmmm…after my husband read this book, Abhay expectantly asks “Appa, is your cold gone?”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bedtime Squeak!

Consistency is the key to establishing a regular routine with kids and all parents can attest to the fact kids and consistency simply don't go together! Despite the odds, sometimes when you do manage to get your kids to follow a regular schedule, all it takes is a couple of days’ vacation for them to revert back to square one! The longer your vacation, the tougher it is to restore order at home!  Take for instance, Abhay who’s having problems with sleeping in his own room after sharing our bed in the hotel the whole of last week while we were on vacation. If only one week has upset his routine established over a few months, you can only imagine how crazy things were at home when we returned from a month’s vacation in India! I guess most Indian immigrant parents face this problem after a visit to India – smaller kids want to be carried all the time, bigger kids refuse to buckle up in their car seats, and all of them want to be pampered like they were back in India! 

In order get Abhay’s  bedtime business back on track, I read “Hide and Squeak” by Heather Vogel Frederick and illustrated by C.J.Payne. It is bed time and daddy mouse is trying to get his little one to bed who is seen playing “Hide and squeak” instead. As the daddy mouse chases him around the garden, up and down the stairs, in and out of the bathmat in the bathroom, baby mouse is relentlessly on the run. Daddy mouse’s reminder that ‘It’s time for bed and time for sleep and no more time for hide and squeak’, falls on deaf ears much like the way our kids ignore bedtime pleas!! Finally, daddy mouse catches up with the speedy little sprinter and gives him a kiss and a hug and tucks him in bed like a bug in a rug and that’s the end of “Hide and squeak"....or at least we hope so:-) If your little one plays "Catch me if you can" at bedtime......catch up with this book!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

United in Rhyme!

Abhay had a fun play date at his best friend’s house with two other kids today and boy oh boy, were the two boys unstoppable! As it has been a while since his last play date, Abhay’s excitement knew no bounds and it was the same with his friend! At one point of time, the boys were so loud that we moms could barely hear each other! Both Abhay and his best friend, though relatively quiet when on their own, turn  wild and boisterous when together!!  I guess most kids feel empowered with like-minded company to do things they are otherwise hesitant to do, esp. with strict moms around. So whether it is jumping on the bed, or making complete pigs of themselves with junk food or racing each other to the car on the road, kids learn very early that  “United we escape and divided we get a time-out ”!!! :-)

So today in order calm down the noisy bunch, I read “One Two, Three and Me” by Jeremy Fitzkee and illustrated by Nadia Budde. Not much of a story, but a wonderful book to teach kids about words that rhyme. This is most definitely a great way to engage the restless kids and see them laugh out loud at its whacky  illustrations. Believe me, it’s not just the kids who'll be entertained by the bear with a towel and an owl with girl named Pat and a cat which is pale and a whale that is wee and a bee which is half brunette and half blond!! So if you have five little monkeys jumping on your bed …..say one two three and me!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pictures from our vacation

Once you’re back from vacation, you experience what is known as a post vacation hangover – something similar to a post party hangover – party’s over and clean up begins!! From a tropical paradise we landed in good old Portland where we received a typical northwestern welcome – RAIN!!  We came back to a cold apartment with a dusty carpet and an empty refrigerator and not to forget loads and loads of laundry. In India, you may have the luxury of dumping it on your maid or your house help but we are simply not that lucky!! But no matter where you live, one thing you or your spouse cannot dump on anyone else is uploading photos or videos!! Between you and your spouse, I guess the responsibility is on the one with a more eager set of family or friends! In my case, it squarely falls on my shoulders to  upload and share the photos with friends and family! In the matter of sharing photos, most people can be grouped into three categories. Some people have cameras with massive black holes i.e. pictures taken in them never see the light of the day! Some people just can’t relax until they’ve uploaded all the pictures, sequenced and organized them, captioned them and shared them on every social networking site!! Some others upload all their pictures but forget to rotate them or leave you to figure out the captions or decide which ones are the best!! :-) Where do you belong? 

Anyway, today I read a book titled “Pictures from our vacation” by Lynne Rae Perkins. Awarded the Newberry medal, this book is best suited for slightly older kids who are able to relate to the bitter-sweet memories of a family vacation. Narrated in first person, this story is from a kid’s perspective of a family vacation planned by her parents. On a vacation to the family farm, a young girl and boy are given a Polaroid camera to capture the vacation’s best moments and keep them as souvenirs. The long journey by road proves to be boring with nothing to do except look out of the window. But thanks to their cameras, they keep themselves busy by taking pictures of the hills, trucks, and signposts that they come across on the way. On reaching their destination, their father gets nostalgic about the farm house and the fun moments he spent there as a child, but all they could see was the old and dusty furniture. To cheer them up, he takes them to play badminton outside. Before they could straighten the old and bent rackets, it begins to rain and the rain doesn’t stop. So in many ways, the vacation at the old farm house does not go as expected but is marred by bad weather, loss of way, and doing uninteresting things like attending memorial service with strangers supposed to be distant relatives. When it’s time for them to leave, they look at their pictures and wonder if the pictures remind them of their vacation at all as none of them are of people but only pictures of hills, passing trucks, signposts and bent rackets, etc. But then the young girl admits that it is hard to take a picture of a story someone tells, or the feeling of getting wet in rain or sleeping in a house full of relatives you’ve met for the first time . Those are the pictures are to be stored in the camera of the mind!! So while the pictures may simply reveal one of the best beaches, or spectacular waterfalls, or breathtaking overlooks, or one of the most  beautiful sunsets ever witnessed, they also remind you of the tedious drives, exhausting hikes and  petty arguments you’ve had to make those pictures happen:-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Surprise!

Today is Easter Sunday which for most part of my life didn’t mean much until three years ago when we moved to the US. Essentially a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter is also a time for decorating eggs and sharing chocolate eggs with friends and family. Most schools here have the kids engage in Easter related arts and crafts. The kids decorate eggs and fill them with candies and stickers to be used in egg hunts held by the school during the course of the week prior to Easter Sunday. Abhay’s school held its Egg Hunt last Thursday that Abhay missed as we were in Hawaii. Anyway, I dug up some old photos of Abhay’s first egg hunt two years ago in his earlier school. I had my own Easter surprise looking at the snaps!! Man….kids grow up so fast! 

For Easter, I read a book from Strawberry Shortcake series that is titled “Easter Surprise” by Amy Ackelsberg and illustrated by Laura Thomas. On Easter Morning, Blueberry Muffin invited her other berry friends over for an Easter celebration. Surprised at the lack of Easter decorations, Raspberry wondered if they were early for the party. Blueberry reassured them that the party was very much on and each one of them had to hunt for their Easter surprise baskets with the help of clues provided at various stages. So Orange Blossom, Plum Pudding, Strawberry shortcake, Raspberry Torte, Lemon Meringue go on a treasure hunt looking for clues at berry grove, bluebird’s nest, postmaster’s office and finally on a river bank where Blueberry muffin was waiting with her Easter surprise for her berry friends all of them who won their Easter baskets full of beautifully decorated Easter eggs.  Abhay found the Easter surprise berry entertaining!:-) Happy Easter guys!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Aloha Hawaii!

Today is the last day of our vacation and I can’t help feeling like it’s the last day of summer holidays. Remember, the last day of summer vacation before school re-opens, how we wish we could stall the passing time! I want to do that now! When you're on vacation, it seems like you are in a time warp and your regular life seems so distant and far away. Though five days simply flew past quickly, it still seemed long enough for us feel detached from our normal routine in Portland. One of my best vacations ever, this time, it was all the more special as I got to read to Abhay either during the flight, or at the beach or in our hotel room.  Although in so many ways, Hawaii reminded me of Goa, in so many ways, it was much more than Goa. Its heavenly beaches, winding roads with marvelous overlooks, vibrant crafts and culture – simply put a paradise on the pacific ocean. Never miss an opportunity to visit this Aloha State, if you ever get a chance. 

Today I read “Hula Lullaby” by Erin Eritter Kono on the flight back home. A Hawaiian mother puts her little daughter to sleep to the sound of an Ipu, a traditional Hawaiian instrument made from two gourds attached together in the shape of a figure eight.Abhay could relate to this all the more as we had watched a hula dance last night in Maui.As the little one crawls into her mother's lap, she listens to the Ipu's beat thump-tap thump-a tap and watches the hula dancers sway to the ocean's breeze, hears the crashing waves reach the lava shore, sees the moon rise high and spread its silver glow, feels the mountain peaks enfold her in a kind embrace and smells the scent of tropic blooms and thus finally falls asleep to the hula lullaby. As we fly across the pacific back to the mainland, all I can say is good bye to the ocean, sunshine and warmth of Hawaii, and hello to the cold weather, rain, and loads of laundry in Portland!:-)  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beach Buddy!

Like everything else with parenting, traveling with kids, also calls for a balancing act. You want to make sure to get your money's  worth from your vacation package and at the same time, cannot take your kids for granted! So, just seconds before sunset, you're probably looking for restrooms for your little one instead of gazing at the red sky, you cannot  snorkel or scuba dive along with your husband but take turns to watch the kids or swallow the fact that your little one's having junk food for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Most importantly, you have to learn to let go a little more than usual because just as much as it is your vacation, it is your little one's too!

So after yesterday's hectic drive, we decided to vacation Maui style - relax and rejuvenate on its beaches!! We let Abhay play with the sand as much as he wanted and took him to see the magical sunset in the evening. Today,  I read “Beach day" by Karen Roosa and illustrated by Maggie Smith. It’s a great book to read before you head out for some sunbathing in the beach. The author highlights fun activities a family indulges in, from morning till evening on a beach. Narrated in rhyming verses that will not only engage your little one but make you want to lie on sand too! Both you and your little one will be held spellbound by the illustrations of the roaring waves, foaming seas, sandy knees, flurrying clouds, scurrying sand crabs, snapping sails, napping babies, giant sand castles and scrumptious picnic lunches – all on a day at the beach! Reading this was like reliving my day today and not only Abhay, I too can't wait to hit the beach again tomorrow!!!:-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Abhay goes to Hawaii!

Aloha everyone! That's a hello in Hawaii! We are in the second largest island of Hawaii, Maui, home to some of the most spectacular beaches, scenic drives and beautiful tropical landscapes this side of the Pacific Ocean. Today we went on one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on. Driving to a place called Hana is one of the "must see and must do" activities on Maui. Though the drive itself is a strenuous one along narrow and winding roads with over 200 hairpin bends, but the breathtaking overlooks, sparkling waterfalls and lush green tropical forests pretty much make the whole trip worth the effort. Abhay did not have much to do on this journey except to play the backseat DJ with our car stereo, look outside when we exclaim at the beautiful sites on the way and for the first time experience some motion sickness. Cant blame him if he wasnt too happy with the way we spent the second day of our vacation!:-(  But travelling with or without kids, there are some things you just gotta do!:-)
So to cheer him up, I managed to find some time to read an apt for Abhay on Hawaii! “Froggy goes to Hawaii” by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz wherein Froggy packs his toy plane, toy plane and his bathing suit and flies with his family to Hawaii. As soon as they reach Hawaii, Froggy goes bananas in the bamboo forest, gets knocked down by a falling coconut, dives into a stream that almost takes him down a waterfall, surfs on his daddy’s shoulders, dances the hula dance in a grass skirt, swims with giant sea turtles and all this gets his parents so exhausted that they want to take another vacation when they get back home! Okay….may be a bad idea to read this to Abhay as this probaby has him wondering if his adventurous Amma will end up doing the same to him!!!:-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flight of Fantasy

 This week “One story a day” goes on vacation!! We’ll are on a five day trip to the Hawaii Island of Maui and I’ll try my best to squeeze in a book or two, while on the beach. Today we took a five hour flight to  Maui and landed at the Kahului airport. For Abhay, driving to the airport and getting into an airplane is a vacation in itself!! As we passed through the security gate, his excitement level almost reached manic proportions! Thank God, they let people with kids board the flight first! Abhay as always surged ahead of us and grabbed hold of the window seat, even if we'd not been allotted one. Anyway, as a part of our vacation tradition, we always read a book on the flight. Abhay always saves a book or two to be read once the plane takes off. This is reminiscent of the days when we used to go on vacations in India by train and I would carry a toy or book to be taken out when the train was in motion! Remember those long train journeys across the country, the thrill of gazing out of train windows and wishing you could get off at those quaint looking towns that pass by! Seems like another age now! :-)

Today we read “An Airplane Daydream” by Joanne Meire and Cecilia Minden and illustrated by Bob Ostrom. Herbie bear and his family boards an airplane to go on a vacation. Herbie fastens his seat belt and closely watches the flight attendant’s demonstration of  exit rows and oxygen masks. It begins raining as the plane gets ready for take-off. Herbie and his siblings begin the countdown to the plane ascent “5-4-3-2-1” and the plane was in the air. Herbie began to relax in his seat when he heard the pilot announce that his co-pilot is indisposed and his role is up for grabs. Herbie volunteers to act as a co-pilot and runs to the cockpit. All eager to help, Herbie seats himself in the co-pilot’s chair and excitedly surveys all the buttons and lights. As per the pilot’s instructions, Herbie operates the controls and successfully guides the plane through the skies. Just as he is about to return to his seat, the aircraft experiences a thud that wakes up Herbie who realizes what a fantastic dream it was!  When they finally reach their destination and are about to exit the plane, when Herbie and his siblings are handed out stickers by the flight Captain who says “Thanks for flying with us” and Herbie cant help but wonder if his dream was real!