Happy April Fools’ Day Easter

Last year around Easter, we talked about a nice big Easter spring clean here. This time around, I just realized that Easter falls on April Fools’ Day this year, or vice versa. That got me thinking: How about some Easter fun pranks on Fools’ Day, to fool around and have a good time? So here goes… nothing.

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Easter Egg Fight” by feraliminal is licensed under CC by 2.0

What about substituting hard-boiled, nicely painted Easter eggs with not boiled, nicely painted ones? A word of caution though: Any egg activity with the said eggs should strictly be carried out outdoors, since gooeyness of egg insides is hard to get off most things. Be it an Easter egg relay race with the egg on a spoon or simply a treasure hunt, the expressions of kids will be a sight to behold when the egg cracks open suddenly (I’m pretty sure though my son will be thrilled with the discovery if it happens to him and he’ll smear it happily all over, ugh).

Easter also means everything sweet and chocolatey, and even more so at our place. Small bits and pieces of chopped vegetables dipped in chocolate sauce and wrapped in silver foil would act as the perfect chocolates to be handed out to the kids as treats. Well, everyone loves almonds and pistachios within chocolates; why not a bit of carrot or a piece of broccoli at the core to bite off?

Why, I’m already excited at the ‘evil’ thoughts taking shape in my mind. Care to add to this list with some enlightening ideas?

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3 Reasons for Choosing to Homeschool My Kids

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Studying Together” by oksmith is licensed under CC by 2.0

Okay, so this is just me letting off a bit of steam here, through this post. I hate to admit – yet I have to – that even after all these years of homeschooling, I do tend to doubt myself every now and again. Am I doing the right thing for my kids? What if they grow into socially inept people in a couple of years? This, that and so much more. And because I’m presently going through such a ‘phase’ (as I like to call it), here’s reminding myself why I chose to take it up in the first place.

  • I wanted to be the primary influence in my children’s lives, to gently guide them through their learning years.
  • I did not want my kids to be restricted by any set curriculum of a particular school, which may not suit them; I wanted them to be learning at their own comfortable pace.
  • I wanted them to be able to chase their dreams and discover what they are good at, by trying out everything without formal lesson plans – be it sports, studies or anything else.

Phew! That sure was cathartic. To all the like-minded parents out there, all I want to say is this: There will be unproductive days on your homeschooling journey and there will be days when you’ll doubt your own capabilities of being able to impart the best education to your kids; but in the end, you’ll be proud to have a major hand in their coming out as terrific human beings. Keep going, homeschoolers!

Family New Year Resolutions for 2018

Another New Year, yet another chance for us to make the wrongs right and be more awesome than the year that went by. Less junk food and more real green leafy food; less late nights and more early to bed and early to rise; less frowning and complaining with more smiling and forgiving; less talking and more listening; less sitting and more walking… and the list goes on. But yes, like always – easier said than done, of course.

Instead of making the same old promises to yourself at the beginning of the year, why not take this opportunity to make some New Year resolutions as a family, which you can all work on together in the coming year? This way someone will always have your back to give you that extra nudge or a word of encouragement when you wander off your set path.

Here are three New Year resolutions we have decided to adopt as a family this 2018.

Sweat, Smile, Repeat

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Kids on a Jungle Gym” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Exercising together as a family is resolution number one. It is no myth that happy healthy parents make happy healthy children. Let’s lead the way and become examples for our kids, making our exercise time a fun activity rather than just sitting indoors and playing all sorts of virtual games on your tablet every evening. No, going to the gym is a big no here. Go for a short jog with your kids early in the morning and hear the birds chirping. Cycle together with your kids as a weekly ritual to the neighborhood grocery market. Learn a sport together and get really good at it. It’s a win-win situation all around – you keep fit, you spend quality time together and you have fun together as a family while doing it.

Collect Moments, Not Things

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Old Man Teaches Boy” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Mark Victor Hansen, the successful book author, trainer and inspirational speaker puts it like this: “Give your children family pictures. Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you… Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence.” He said it all in those few words. Collecting moments and not things will always prove to be your life’s greatest treasure.

Spend what is Left after Saving

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Coins (Money)” by mystica is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is never too early to teach your kids how to save money. Giving them a monthly allowance from their early years and helping them how to manage it can go a long way in developing healthy monetary habits for them in their later years. Gift them a transparent glass jar instead of a piggy bank so they can actually see their money grow. After a couple of months, let them buy something of their choice with their own money; and then begin by saving up again for something else they would like to purchase at a later date. Spending what is left after saving and not the other way around is what must be inculcated into the children’s minds from a very young age.

The key to keeping any kind of resolutions is this: If it makes you happy, you’ll end up doing it anyhow. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a matter of time before you’ll give it up. But since family is all about laughter, love and happiness, these family resolutions will definitely be yours to keep. Happy New Year!

Cartoon of the Month – Johnny Bravo

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Image courtesy: BuzzFeed

Hey baby, I can tell we both love the same things: Me!

Well baby, what’s it like looking at the man of your dreams?

Man, it must be great being you watching me.

No points for guessing whose flattering lines these are – the king of pick-up lines, Johnny Bravo. Our hero is sinewy, broad-shouldered, fakes a stylish demeanor when he speaks which actually ends up being too gruff, and drives women away in spite of trying very hard to get them to date him. A highly entertaining specimen of sorts – there’s Johnny Bravo for you.

  • The name Johnny Bravo has its origins in its creator’s full name – Efram Giovanni Bravo Partible, more popularly known as Van Partible.
  • Joe Barbera (half of the namesake Hanna-Barbera) was a part of some goofy jokes in the writing part of the series. He also had a brief presence in the Bravo Dooby Doo episode wherein Scooby with his gang and our Bravo come together to unmask the ghoul.
  • Jeff Bennett, the signature voice of Johnny Bravo, was asked by its creator to sound like Elvis for the series.

Nominated for 4 Annie Awards, 2 Golden Reel Awards and 1 YoungStar Award, our Bravo is a real hero with a great fan following that he manages to keep thoroughly entertained with his antics. Hardly anyone can match his hairstyle and the way he speaks as well as strikes poses. Also, did you know that the creators of Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory were all roommates in college? Such a lot of creative talent holed up together!

DIY Simple Halloween Costumes for Kids

It’s Halloween season once again! Last year, we talked about how we could celebrate this occasion in an eco-friendly way (read the full post here). This time around, the focus of this article will be on how to get ready creative Halloween costumes for your little ones even if you’re short of time (read: now). I, sadly, belong to this category.

Dragon

Turning your kid into a cute yet ferocious dinosaur-cum-dragon this Halloween can be quite easy. This is because the major part of the costume is just a dangerous-looking tail, plus an added handmade mask for extra effect (this tutorial seems pretty useful for some quick work). All you need is some fabric in vibrant colors – tomato red or sunshine yellow or bright green works best. Lay a rectangular piece of the fabric on the ground and fill it up with cotton (I’m planning to use the filling from an old mattress for the purpose). The slightly tricky part here is to sew it up so make sure the cotton filling is not too much. You could also use empty toilet paper rolls taped together as a filling or even otherwise instead of cotton.

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Halloween” by ArtsyBee is licensed under CC by 2.0

The length of the tail should be such that it drags for a little distance on the ground when fitted at the waist. Using another color of fabric, you need to make small round balls filled with cotton to be roughly sewn onto the length of the tail. A yellow tail with red rounded balls as protuberances sticking out of it looks great. Make little belt loops on either side of one extreme end, insert a belt into the loops and fasten it on your child’s waist. Your roaring dragon is ready with a lethal tail trailing behind!

A Bunch of Grapes

This costume is the absolute go-to if, say, you need to get your kid dressed for trick-or-treating as soon as tonight. Simply head to the nearest store and buy a packet of black or purple or green balloons (at least 30-40 in number). Blow them up using a pump to save on time – it will take less than half the time it would otherwise take if you decided to blow them up manually. You need not worry about the size of the balloons; some could be larger and others smaller. Attach a small safety pin to each knot of the balloon, since you’ll be pinning them up on your kids.

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Ball” by Pexels is licensed under CC by 2.0

A word of caution here: The child needs to be wearing at least two layers of clothing, an inner t-shirt as well as a sweat suit. Carefully pin on the balloons on the front and back, top and bottom and your bunch of grapes is ready to flounce around! To add extra flair, twist a couple of pipe cleaners such that they resemble vines, stick them atop a hat and prop it on your little one’s head. This outfit couldn’t have been easier, could it?

P.S. Though my son is super excited to roar around and behave like a dragon (aka one of the creatures from his favorite dragon games), the daughter isn’t too ecstatic with her bunch of grapes idea of a costume. She wants to be a witch on a broomstick (I guess her neighborhood pals put that idea into her head). And so, with the promise of an elaborately designed wicked witch costume for next year, I’m off to get my two little tykes ready to say boo!

Cartoon of the Month – Bugs Bunny

I’ve always loved the name Looney Tunes for some reason. For those not in the know (though I seriously doubt there will be any), Looney Tunes refers to a series of American animated short comedy films, made in the ‘golden age of American animation’, as it is rightly called. Bugs Bunny is a character that dates back to that era, created in the year 1940 by Warner Bros. cartoons, which was known by a different name back then.

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Image courtesy: Looney Tunes Wiki

The smiling buck-teethed image of a rabbit, sitting or standing with one hand on his hips or chin and another hand directed towards the mouth with a half-chomped carrot in it – there’s Bugs Bunny as we all know the character to be. Here are some more fun facts about him that are not too widely known.

  • Mel Blanc, the American recording artist who voiced Bugs Bunny, actually ate carrots while recording sessions to get into the skin (and tone) of the character.
  • Bugs Bunny (along with Mickey Mouse) holds the distinction of being one of the first two animals to get a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Who was the first cartoon character to ever appear on a stamp? The cheerful Bugs Bunny!

Also, as per records dated until January 2013, Bugs Bunny has made an appearance in more films than any other cartoon character on record – more than 175 films. Amazing feat, isn’t it?

His catch phrase: “Eh… What’s up, doc?” all the while chewing on a carrot reminds me of fun times gone by, spent in watching this flippant trickster’s antics. Always brought a smile to my face :)

Having Fun with the Summer Slide (Part II)

It’s been two whole months since I did this post (Part I) about having fun with the summer slide. I had originally meant to do a couple of them by and by, but summer just rushed past and now I suddenly realize we’re already at the fag end of the holiday season. Though schools in our area re-open after August 31, my kids are happily having an extended vacation of sorts; their grandparents are visiting in the next fortnight, hence their home/school classes will actually begin after mid-September.

We’ve been making it a point to read every day this summer, the whole family. Evenings are more often than not spent curled up on the couch or bean bag with a book. I personally love those quiet times together.

Now when the summers are about to end, here are some ways to get your kids up and about, ready for schooling, unschooling and homeschooling. Needless to say, there’s fun involved too!

Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

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Explore” by SchoolPRPro is licensed under CC by 2.0

Science experiments are not meant for the school chemistry lab alone. Neither are they only meant for middle or high school kids. Irrespective of how old your kids are, there is bound to be a variety of science experiments like these you can easily carry out at home, the DIY way. Allow bread mold to grow on a slice of bread and explain what mold is all about. Use food coloring and bleach to carry out the ‘appear-disappear’ act for kids. Make it rain with ice cubes and some hot water in the interiors of your home within a jar. Or even write a spooky secret message using invisible ink (read: lemon juice). The possibilities are endless; and so are the learning and fun parts. For some really good ideas, you could go through this post too.

Kid-Friendly Cooking

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Cooking With Kids” by congerdesign is licensed under CC by 2.0

“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity,” says Guy Fieri, the renowned American restaurateur, author, TV personality and game show host. And about creating a BIG mess, if I may add (from personal experience). Here’s why it is all worth it.

First and foremost, cooking becomes fun if the family does it together (followed by the cleaning up which is also done together). Right from something as simple as cracking an egg open to meticulously decorating a bunch of cupcakes fresh out of the oven, there is no denying the fact that these skills will hold your kids in good stead later on in their lives. Finding their way about in the kitchen can only be learnt at home; no amount of schooling can teach them that. What’s more, it can be a good way to brush up on the basic math skills of younger kids as well, say fractions or multiplication tables (for instance: how many cookies on a tray, if there are 6 rows of 6 cookies each?).

Sigh. As I get the next meal ready, I can already see a pile of reading worksheets peeking out at me cheekily from the bottom-most drawer in the next room. An indication perhaps that summer is over and soon enough, like it or not, we’ll have to firmly pull up our socks. Alas!