Friday, June 26, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Ever felt guilty about feeling too tired to read a bedtime story? Promising you will read it tomorrow or rushing through it as fast as you could? We have all been there and felt awful afterward. After all, we are supposed to read kids from infancy to enhance their development and make them smarter. Or so the research says.And all of us can remember that wondrous time as we discovered the world through the magical lens of children's stories and what a strong hold they had on our imagination.

This week in the Washington Post, Michael Dirda reviewed Maria Tatar's "Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood". Fairy tales enthrall, the author says, because they present gripping contrasts between good and evil, beauty and horror which impact the imagination. A bored child is distracted by curiosity and explores these tales. Curiosity then leads to a sense of wonder, a sense, as Dirda notes, that anything is possible. That is an invaluable gift. How many children, blind to this wonder, have grown up to be sad people who have no hope in their lives and can't bring any to others?

Tonight, all promises will be kept. Peaches and Popcorn will get the full set of Eloise's adventures and a bonus Angelina Ballerina!

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Defense of Anxious Mothers

So, are you one of the moms who read everything you could about bringing up your baby while you were pregnant and then almost killed yourself trying to raise your child by the book? Did you agonize over the first tooth, tummy time, pincer action, potty training ...the list goes on? I remember having nightmares about why Peaches was not interested in all the stacking toys I was pushing at her when all the books agreed that she should be stacking like a pro. Well, turns out you need not have. A bunch of books is bashing all those theories and lauding what can perhaps be referred to as "sloppy parenting". Date nights as an escape from child driven days are pathetic, you should continue to be the center of your universe swirling in a maelstrom of passion while the kids get along as best as they can. Yes, it's time to escape the madness and pressure of trying to be a perfect mom but hey, why have a child if it is such a bother? I wonder how willing these cool parents would be if the caregivers they pay to do their child rearing were as cavalier in their approach.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peaches Graduates!

Peaches graduated from preschool last week. They had the most charming ceremony with all the little grads in the cutest red robes. Mommy could not have been prouder if it was Harvard! The thought of my baby already graduating something brought a lump to my throat but I had no time to wallow in sentiment as a crisis descended. Popcorn, feeling a shade left out, decided to attend in her shiny, hot pink, Minnie Mouse outfit. When this was vetoed ,she tried to negotiate her way to a tiara with a veil, and finally had to be content by going in pink from head to toe complete with Aurora necklace. Peaches was adorable and so eager to perform all the songs with her friends. I am so proud of her!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Fun

Peaches, Popcorn and I went to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. this Tuesday. Parents, if you are visiting here this summer, you must check it out. It has a wonderful indoor play space for the kids where they get to dress up as firefighter, police person etc and there are tons of blocks and tools to keep them occupied. Peaches, who is a devoted follower of Dad on his home improvement projects, made up a story about all the things she needed to fix in "my" house. Popcorn built a MacMansion to thrill her gaudy little heart.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What do you want to be, my lovely?

Can we have it all? Great careers, wonderful families, sparkly personalities, clean and shiny homes and, if you want Popcorn's opinion, Rapunzel's hair? The debate rages on and there is an awareness, at times, that "having it all" was more of a campaign promise which has to give way to the stark reality of running the country. So, should we teach our girls the stoicism of our ancestors? Suffer in silence, that's the way it is! Or just watch them trying to multi-task their lives off till they explode? Many commentators today seem to be saying its stupid of women to try to do it all, they need to scale down their expectations. Even Helen Fielding, the creator of that woman of our times, Bridget Jones, has been reported to say so. But I found the response to that, given by Helen Burch in The Telegraph, to be uplifting.

What set me thinking along these lines was watching Peaches select a T shirt for soccer. She chose one with a soccer ball on it that said, in pretty colors, "I play like a girl. That's why I play harder, faster, better." As we read it together, I laughed in acknowledgment while she seems baffled. To Peaches, there is no difference between her and the little boys in her soccer class. Its a great day when "plays like a girl" loses its meaning. So, Peaches go ahead and try to have it all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What does your garden grow?

The answer, at the moment, is a few annuals which managed to survive the journey from Home Depot. But, great plans are afoot. Peaches, much inspired by Earth Day at preschool, proposed growing vegetables. Somehow (the mechanics were not exactly clear) but somehow this was going to clean the air and save the planet. Popcorn had no such noble motives. She had made her plans for the summer and they consisted of wearing pink skirts and eating strawberries. And how much easier it would be to follow this simple plan if Mom bought skirts in every shade of pink and grew strawberries at home! All these grand ambitions have to be fulfilled by a couple of planters on our deck so with some freshly bought potting soil at hand and faith in nature in our hearts we have embarked on our adventure. If anything grows, photos will follow....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Problem of Mr. Cheney

So there we were, on January 19th, congratulating ourselves that we were finally out of the woods. Mr. Cheney was no longer a part of the administration and would fade away, writing his memoirs and giving speeches, but not lighting up our radar any more. But that did not happen. Here he is, criticizing President Obama: there he is, staunchly defending torture. Our radar is ablaze!
The whole time Mr. Cheney was vice-president,we heard his health was delicate. Did no one prescribe a restful vacation, far from the madding crowd? Where, oh, where is a secure, undisclosed location when you desperately need one?

Monday, May 11, 2009

What's in a name?

For the first time in history England has a woman poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. This is great not simply because she is a woman but because her poetry speaks so directly to us. I especially liked "Name" . While I was reading all the articles on her, I discovered Ursula Fanthorpe for the first time and could not believe that I had never read her! Oh, how she writes!! This poem about a painting is as close to perfection as you can get. When you read these two wonderful poets, you see the world from a different angle. A bit like our craft time today when Peaches and Popcorn gave up their beloved castles and princesses to draw rockets in space and then added glitter outlines to every object, celestial or man made.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the Basics

The other day my friend and I were deep into a discussion about birthday plans for our children. We stopped abruptly when we realised that we were planning for events nine months away! That's how crazy the whole kids' birthday thing has become: the pressure to create a perfect (and expensive) fantasy experience for a child. Children too have become more demanding as they go their friends' extravaganzas and want the same for themselves. It was heartening to know, therefore, that in the current economic situation, birthdays too are being downsized. At last, some sanity. A chance to enjoy and celebrate without having to worry. Now all we have to do is break the news to the little angels themselves...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Look Who's Crafting....Paris Hilton!

Fresh from my V-day cards project I was surfing craft sites and looking for projects when I happened upon the news...Paris Hilton is launching a crafts line. In this tough economy everyone is looking to save a buck(not that Paris would know anything about that!), so crafts of all kinds are surging in popularity. Plus, making something always creates a warm glow which we could all do with right now. Early reports suggest its a colorful and "blingy" collection likely to entice the target teen crowd.The fact that she turned out for the launch in a Hello Kitty necklace will also help.And yes, I was wondering too, and it turns out she does actually scrapbook. If this catches on, we might all have her scrapbook kit on our holiday and birthday gift lists for the girls in our lives. Meanwhile, Peaches, Popcorn and I will rely on construction paper and glitter glue!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day...with a difference

Last night, after the girls were asleep, and I was taping red heart shaped lollipops on the nth card fairy valentine card,I paused to reflect. There was a time when two days before V-day I would have been reading restaurant and movie reviews, planning reservations and getting tickets. And now, here I am, the inner Momzilla unleashed." I will not buy into the ready to go Disney card and candy kits, I will help the kids to make thoughtful cards themselves". Well, Mommy learnt her lesson! Good luck getting a wriggly kid to sit down and hand make 30 cards. They did their best, scooped up their candy and disappeared into the basement while I finished making dinner, then put them to bed and was still working on their valentines. Jewellery and chocolates and candle light dinners are precious but Gloria the Hippo (from Madagascar) cards and enough sugary candy to turn your insides permanently pink....priceless!!