What we loved most about our Skola toy!

How to keep a toddler engaged in something sensible? That’s probably the biggest challenge a parent faces in today’s world. If you were to compete with the likes of cartoon series and play doh videos on YouTube, then your chances are bleak without a strong arsenal! Alright, let me not scare you! I am just saying that to engage a toddler is quite a challenge and if you have a child who is at the pre-school stage then the need to provide something substantial to entertain and educate them is very high.

If you have been following my Instagram posts and previous blogs, then you will know that I have been discussing pre-STEM activities that Skola Toys specializes in. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths is a branch of learning that focuses on teaching a child about the above said concepts, but in a non-text book manner.

Skola, introduces these concepts to preschoolers with their learning journeys. When we received our package from Skola, I was pretty excited to see two things – which learning journey we were about to set foot in and how Lishaan would react to it. Thankfully, both have managed to impress me as a mom!

 Bird Shadows was the toy that we received and it definitely piqued my toddler’s excitement, for he is an animal-bird lover. Suited for ages 3+, this activity was perfectly chosen for Lishaan who turns three next month.  Based on the learning journey through geometry, the activity has four pronged approach:Bird Shadows

  1. Slotting: To match the bird to the shadow, is an interesting ‘race against the clock’ activity, clocking maximum number of right combinations within a minute.
  1. Abstract pairing: Lishaan only need one look at the shadows to identify the birds by their names. Then, matching was easy and quick. For the unfamiliar birds, he went by matching the shape, the side the beak was facing and the feet to get it right.
  1. Name game: Lishaan is not familiar with the woodpecker, the ostrich and the eagle, as we only learn birds that we have seen till date. So, learning about these new birds and what they are known famously for, was interesting for him.
  1. Memory: This was our favourite bit. To keep all the slots facing up and the image cards facing downward. He would quickly turn one to the fair side and pair it with the right slot. If not, he’d face it down again and look for the next one. It was definitely engaging for a good 15 minutes. That’s enough for Amma to finish her coffee 😉

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Apart from these, we explored the calls of these birds and what they do predominantly. The best bit about this activity was that in addition to this, Isha explored motor skills by pulling out cards from the slots and placing them in randomly, while her Anna took a break. Though I didn’t intend to have her play with this, I see her enjoying the colors and the feel of the slots. Double win for me 😉

Activity apart, what I loved about Skola is the care that they take in the 360 degree impression.Bird Shadows

  1. The box – Sturdy, and perfect to continue storing the activity it came with shapes that had to be colored.
  1. Crayons – the added advantage. There were four solid color crayons that Lishaan used to color on the box. This gave me enough time to explore and understand the box.
  1. A guide – to understand Skola’s point of view through the various learning journeys. Every parent shopping with Skola will feel reassured that they have made the right investment for their child.
  1. The toy – Made of wood, the box, slots and the image cards are well finished and toddler friendly. The handle of the slots holder especially is comfortably shaped for tiny hands and big ones to carry them.

In a time and age where less is more, Skola definitely is filling up our toy shelf with its unique concepts, focused activity sets and impeccable design. Overall, this has been a great experience and I surely will put my hat in this ring! 😉

~ The Lazy Parent

 

You can learn more about Skola toys from their website https://www.skola.toys
Skola’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/skolatoys/
Skola’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/skolatoys/

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but the opinions and thoughts are wholly mine. 

When a city leaves a heartprint ♥️

Click on this before you continue reading.

Two years back, when we decided to move bag & baggage to Coimbatore, I was worried that I wouldn’t find the comfort that Madras gave me. I was wondering if I would be able to accept another city as my own, let alone love it as much as I loved Madras.

But Coimbatore, it’s makkal and the warmth welcomed me with open arms. So much so that I didn’t miss home one bit and even said I loved Kovai more than Chennai.

Two years since we moved, we are packed and ready for another city and to begin another chapter of our life.

Coimbatore, you beauty I will miss your warmth, your lovable nature and the makkal. You gave Lishaan his first friends, you gave us Isha. Dinners in Yari, midnight ice cream sessions at Cream Stone, visits to Eechanari for every festival and the homes of our friends that my children and I have so often frequented; if one were to connect these dots it would form a heart. No, not being sappy but I know that Dhana & I will miss Coimbatore for a million reasons. Here are some that I can think of :

1. Friends

2. Radio Mirchi

3. Brookes

4. Yari

5. Cream Stone

6. Bombay Kulfi

7. BSIM

8. Babywearing

9. Diwali parties

10. Castle Town

11. Eechanari

12. Tirupur

13. Mayflower

14. New year 2017

15. Isha

16. Sungam bypass road

17. Balaji groceries

18. Big basket 😂

19. Bida-bida rides with Lishaan

20. Friends like family

There are probably a hundred more things that I will miss, but Coimbatore has given me strength, courage and a lot to carry life forward with my head held high. To friends, friends like family and naysayers, adieu! Time to make more memories and share more stories from another untouched, beautiful and humble city.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Maruvaarthai Pesaaadhey

“Maruvaarthai pesaaadhey…” echoed from the small radio at the tea stall as rain lashed around like a scorned woman. Arjun stood there, trying to make the most of his cigarette. His eyes were stinging with tears, but like the famous saying, no one could see his tears in the rain.

‘Anna Oru tea kudunga’ he said, killing the last spark of red in the cigarette.

His friends still found it strange that he had fallen for a girl whom he hadn’t even met. The internet is a strange place! One random comment by her on his latest photograph had started a whirlwind romance of sorts.

Sipping the hot tea Arjun wondered how he had the faith intact even after so many days that she would come. In front of him was the tall blue glass giant that housed Aruna – Infosys. She worked there, she had said. Did she really? How would he find out? Her Facebook name was ‘Mysterious Girl’ and she had no photographs of her own, just of her photography works. ‘Aaagh! You fool!’, Arjun half-shouted as he got into the rain to start his bike. He rode away, splashing mud and his love in the rain.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Do me a favour – Part 2

So, I finally got help. After months of deliberation, I met a counselor to discuss my issues. What issues? For months now, I have been having mood swings and tides of low moods that have been causing a great deal of distress. If you have been following me on IG, you would see me talking about it.

Well, who discusses such things? I mean it’s natural to have a child and find it difficult to cope, but who goes to meet a doctor about that? Don’t say ‘no one’, because sometime help helps. After a good three hours of talking and sobbing *drama queen much?* I ended up feeling much lighter and happier.

Firstly and thankfully, I do not fall under the category of depression. What I did suffer from was anxiety. Now, if you know me (in person or online) you will think that I am a HIGHLY confident individual who’s just managing everything like a piece of cake. That might be true to some level, but I have been battling a lot of low self-esteem issues of late.

You see, what happens to women when they become mothers is that their world radically tilts and shifts. You could have a battalion of family and staff support but still feel like shit. Birthing a child and providing for it can be a huge challenge. This change also makes women vulnerable. Women who are new mothers (first, second or third time moms count too) can be very sensitive and touchy. They could be feeling cornered for no reason, but it isn’t their fault. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. It is hard to figure them out initially. Why are they crying? Why do they need the boob so often? When will I sleep? and so on. The questions are endless and the answers aren’t readily available. A lot of trial, error and tears give you the answer. By then, you are exhausted; sleep deprived and sanity deprived. At such a juncture, the last thing you want to hear is some grading you as a parent. ‘You could do better’ is like a poison dipped knife slowly being thrust into your sides. AGH!

That’s exactly and almost what someone who barely knew me told me. Let alone one, I was balancing two kids when someone sweetly stepped into my life for a whole of ten minutes to tell me that I should be putting more effort into loving my children *MAJOR EYE ROLL* . Well, major eye roll now, but back then it hurt, stung and killed any iota of self-confidence that I had. Was I being silly? No! But here’s my take away from all of this.

A mother, new or otherwise, is working overtime. Whether she’s a homemaker or a working mom, she is putting 100% in order to keep everyone happy and the house functional. What she needs the most is acknowledgment of what she is doing and appreciation of that. Remember, it’s not a sacrifice that she’s making but it’s her choice. But going through with this choice is hard without appreciation. If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all. We hardly know the life of that mum behind the scene. We only calculate her ‘motherhood’ score based on the two coffee dates and twenty Instagram posts that she puts up. That’s bloody unfair.

That’s all I ask. Say a good word or say none at all. With that, hundreds of mothers out there will walk with an additional spring in their step and their head held high (no matter how sleep deprived they are). Is that doable?

 

Does your three year old enjoy engineering? 😉

Remember my last post on the kind of toys that we would like to choose for our kids and what influences the decision? This post is a follow up on that thought.

When L turned 1.5 years old, we were constantly asked about his induction into a playschool or a day care and our answer was that it was too soon for him to be involved in any sort of structured learning.  It was then that we chanced upon the concept of homeschooling and alternative education. 1.5 years since that conversation, we are doubly sure that for both L and I, we would provide as much open ended exploration as we can. This, until the day they ask us to enroll them in a school (if at all).

Educating or providing a source of learning for your child on your own can be a challenge. Where do I begin? What do I focus on? What is the core requisite at this age? These are a few questions that I asked myself. It was then that I learned about STEM learning. It is an acronym alright, but it is also the stem that will hold together the whole plant of learning.

STEM is Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and is usually introduced at the age of seven to children. But you can lay foundation for STEM learning based on pre-stem activities. Now I can see you thinking what is a three year old going to do with engineering at this age? Remember, that him stacking up blocks or fixing the clogs in a gear set up is engineering too 😉

STEM requires logical thinking and brings about the concept of possible outcomes based on a primary action. This is why I started looking up toys/activities that are inclined in this pre-STEM learning and Skola reached out to me at the same time. Why Skola? Their pre-STEM learning tools are great in encouraging of fine motor skill development, thinking skills and of course, increased concentration. These attributes make STEM learning easier as the child approaches the required age for it.

Nesting Hens
Locking Blocks

Be it the Cascade Cars that introduce the concept of cause and effect or the Building Blocks that introduce concept of construction using various shapes or the Locking Blocks that explore the concept of patterns and pairing, Skola toys are designed to grow with your child’s growing needs. As a young learner, any toddler would benefit from these handpicked, finely finished toys that are both attractive and effective.

 

 

 

While I pick toys that would work for both the children, do check out Skola’s ‘Learning Journeys’. It beautifully explains and categorizes the various journeys a child undertakes as an early learner and how you can aid the development better.

 

You can learn more about Skola toys from their website https://www.skola.toys
Skola’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/skolatoys/
Skola’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/skolatoys/

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but the opinions and thoughts are wholly mine. 

Monster in my head

The monsters in my head whisper all night long. ‘Toss her away… Run away. Don’t come back. Cut yourself up’ they keep whispering in my ears. I sing out aloud but their voice even fills the tunes of my favorite songs.

Leaving my baby in her crib, I run into the bathroom, throw myself into the toilet, trying to empty the uninvited guests with the bile like vomit.

‘ A break will do you good’ said my reflection in the mirror, looking at the spit stained woman staring at her weakly.

‘Yes, I need a break’ I tell myself. Wiping away my tears and the sweat, I walk out of the bathroom with a determination. Dialing that number on my phone I say ‘ma.. I need help’.

Postpartum depression is an ugly monster, isolating you from asking help. Reach out, take that break and talk to someone.anyone. don’t let the monster win.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

Amma learns Whatsapp

‘Molu, teach me how to use this Whatsapp no?’ said Amma for the tenth time in the same phone call. It was 11 in the night for her, two hours beyond her bed time, but she was still awake waiting for my phone call. Ever since I moved to the US, this has been the practice. She wouldn’t listen when I told that she can call me when she wakes up in the morning. ‘Because you will be sleeping that time no, Molu?’ she’d say in her ever loving voice.

Finally, I managed to get Binny from the next house to teach Amma how to use Whatsapp. From that day on, religiously one message would make its way to my phone promptly every day. I could tell that it was 5:15 am in India when the message arrived. I could almost see Amma waking up, brushing her teeth, finishing her morning prayers and sending me these messages, sitting on her easy chair by the verandah.

It had been two years since my divorce. The whole episode hadn’t shaken her up, but had hardened my mother. She was as strong as a fortress on the outside, but on the inside, I knew she worried about Aarush and me. Like Amma said, “You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both” and I chose courage in a world that offered comfort for a price; that of my dignity. Thanks to this lady sitting in a quaint neighbourhood in Cochin and her messages every morning, I lead a better life strengthened by love and resolve.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

The AZ Tuckerbox review

If you are a Chennaiite, the word ‘tucker’ will ring a bell. It is our first and immediate expression for anything that’s top class! ‘Dai adhu tucker da’ equates to us getting dizzy thanks to something. Well, I must admit that I too got all dizzy when the AZ Tuckerbox arrived at my doorstep. I wanted to order the monsoon box for my toddler, but one thing led to another and a tucker package put together for my baby girl was on its way home. So, what makes Tuckerbox tucker? (I am going to use that word a LOT in this review).

Started by two moms who are pretty good at reducing your shopping woes (their online form to understand your Tuckerbox contents is wow), this is a subscription package series that brings to your doorstep adorable, affordable and excellent quality clothes along with tiny goodies to make your child happy. The Tucker-team says: ‘A box for every kid. A box for every theme. A box for every season or occasion.’

What I loved about my Tuckerbox is that every garment in it was just like how I would have picked it in a store. The fabric quality, the make and the design were spot on. You can pick your box type from the options available (they have Newborn, Subscription, Birthday, Bed time and New Mom’s Pamper boxes to choose from) and of course, you pick the age of your child. Once you finish the payment, you are sent a form which you fill in order for the Tucker-team to understand your choices better.

What I loved about our Tuckerbox:

  • The box: This in itself is a keeper! The first impression of the box is impressive indeed. Made sturdy, stylish and neat, this box will find its way into your closet for some repurposed storage. In my case, it is currently housing my new crochet project and yarns 😉
  • The outfits: We received pants, night suits, a hoodie sweat shirt, a jacket and a training pant. ALL of these are what my mum would call ‘export material’. Finest of fabrics, softest of cottons and the cutest prints there can be!💝
  • The add-ons: A super adorable plush bunny and a mini umbrella-pen for the toddler
  • The brownie points: vouchers worth approximately 1500INR. That’s right. You almost get what you pay. Discount coupons and vouchers for quite books, toy stores, babywearing brands, accessories and more. Literally a loot!

Oh, did I tell you that you can actually tell them that you don’t want any characters related clothing or vice versa? This is such a cool option for parents like me who don’t or do introduce animation characters to their kids.

One point that I would like to add to anyone trying out their boxes is to specify sizes in inches if that’s possible. That way, you can get garments that fit like a glove! Why do I say that? Because no two year old is of the same height and weight and you surely want to try the contents of this box the minute you lay your hands on it!

Thank you Jen & Grace for sending some Tucker love our way <3 We can’t wait to shop again!

Oh, before I go, did I tell you about their festive boxes? Yep, these girls will make you go #JimmikiKammal and #Mersal this Diwali 😉

You can shop for Tuckerboxes here

What’s in your toy basket?

Have you ever told people to not buy gifts for your children? I know that sounds rude, but I have tried to be very diplomatic in explaining to family and friends that a) he has enough toys and b)we don’t want to buy him toys that he doesn’t understand the use for. It’s a task, let me tell you. People get offended or even worse, think that you are very high maintenance. Truth is, it is not true. Ask any parent with toddlers at home and they will tell you that it is a tough task to be selective about toys. I remember for Lishaan’s birthday, getting three boxes of the same toy. What would I do with the same toy? I upcycled two of them and gifted it to someone who would have better use for it.

This is why I am worried about the kids’ upcoming birthdays. We are going to be given chug along trains, walking dogs, plastic cooking sets and what not. Please don’t get me wrong, but I do appreciate the thoughtfulness. I do appreciate the fact that you are taking out time to pick up a toy for the child, but let it be something that’s of use to them. I say this out of exhaustion of clearing up their play pen and wondering where  all this came from.

Added to this, my husband has a huge thing with plastic toys. While I argued about how ‘non expensive’ and colorful they were, he stuck to wooden toys that provided more scope for learning and also were more ‘close to nature’. Well, I do see the point. Wooden toys are natural, giving more scope to open-ended play and are better for motor skills. The shapes are far more refined and it is a different ball game than your 199-a-box plastics.

So, when I sat down to clear the children’s stuff as we get ready to shift another city in two weeks, I removed almost ALL their plastic toys. What remained and what will be added are some wooden blocks, stackers and the sorts. Lishaan’s approach to these definitely was different than his approach to other toys.

I was reading up about this a while back and found an article on the NewYorker. In the article, author Amy F. Ogata quotes from her new book, “Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury America,” that “Among the educated middle and upper-middle classes, wood became the material symbol of timelessness, authenticity and refinement in the modern educational toy.”

It is in this search for toys that allow open ended play, are all natural and are definitely timeless, which both my kids can use and share without damage, that I found Skola. Toys from Skola are designed for children to explore their motor skill. Working on lines of the Montessori methodology of learning, these toys allow for multi-sensory development. With the child’s growing age and curiosity, these toys also allow for freedom in exploring creativity and muscle memory. So, if you want to invest in a good toy for your child, you know where to look!

While you read this, please understand that while I love your intention to gift the children something for their birthday, I just say make it worthwhile. Hey, this applies to me too. So, if I have bought your son or daughter a toy that’s been more of a space eater than a partner in their exploration, I will make up for it this year 😉

How about you?

‘There is this nerve in me; something like the funny bone maybe. It refuses to let me obey rules’ smiled Anaisha as she placed her resignation letter on her boss’s desk. Umang was surprised to see his best employee walk in on a Monday morning and hand in her resignation with the same air of calm with which she usually greeted him every morning for the past six years.

It was her inability to conform to rules that made Anaisha stand out. She couldn’t play by the rules of the society. She couldn’t be silent ‘just because’; she couldn’t say yes when she wanted to say no.

‘Anaisha is a brilliant child with a lot of potential. It is her refusal to adhere to everyday rules that poses to be an impediment in her achieving bigger accolades’ read her report card at the age of six. Some called it disobedience, her father called it character.

 

Sadly, there’s less place for women of character in our society. Do you agree? How obedient are you?

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge