What are we so busy with?

This blog update is overdue. What am I so busy with?

There have been a number of times when I have had to pick between working on something versus interacting with my daughters – whether it be playing with them, taking them somewhere, reading it to them or just having plain simple fun. On many of those occasions, after I have had a chance to glimpse at their sad faces, I tried to reflect on myself and ask the question “What am I so busy with?”. And most of the times I found that the thing that took my time away from my daughters were un-important. It was either checking messages on Facebook/Twitter, responding to emails, or taking care of some stuff that I bought.

I do suffer from the disease of constantly checking my emails, but the most worrisome part of my life is busy taking care of stuff that I have accumulated over the past several years. I recently ran across a great article by Joshua Becker on his realization of too many possessions that takes time away from the things he enjoys the most. For full story, hit the link here.

Since running across Josh’s blog, I have committed to reduce my belongings and enjoy the things that I like to do. What would you do?

What can I do?

This is one of the most frequent question I keep getting asked by my children day in and day out. With the summer break, the frequency has risen to ‘drive-me-nuts’ level. I am constantly asking questions of Google/Bing to find activities/trips/stuff for the kids to do. Sometimes I am lucky and sometimes I am at the mercy of my own creation. I have compiled some of the things I have run into while doing these searches. Hope you find them useful. I will add to them as I find more. If you have some of your own, add it to the comments section and provide relief to other parents.

Free (almost) Movies
http://www.mrfreestuff.com/free-or-cheap-summer-movies-for-kids/
Free Movies @ the Allen Library
Allen library is screening free movies every Tuesday in June and July. Check out the schedule/listings here.
AroundTownKids.com
This site aggregates all the activities/events around Allen and nearby cities. Check it out regularly to find one that you would like to visit.
Chichuly
Check out the great glass sculptures by artist Dave Chichuly at the Dallas Arboretum
Write a book
You can have your talented kids attempt to create their own book at the website Little Bird Tales

Education in America is going digital

I recently attended a parent-teacher conference for my 8 year old. We basically discussed ways to keep my daughter engaged during the summer break, which is so looooong. One of the statements the teacher made  during our conversation took me by surprise. She stated that she has been teaching for the past 15 years and sees a dramatic shift in the use of technology in the education field.

I am aware that laptops are slowly replacing pens and paper in learning institutions across America, and there are good reasons why!  Video explanations and built in dictionaries make text books much better learning tools. Remember how tedious it was to read through your grade 9 history text? Well imagine being able to watch historical reenactments or navigate American expeditions as you learn about them! Even the fed is pushing the schools to embrace digital books in lieu of printed books [Feds’ challenge to schools: Embrace digital textbooks].

But what worries me is how do I prepare my kids to be ready for that change. Is it just sufficient to buy Kindle (or iPad or some other tablet) and encourage them to do their reading/writing on it? Or should I be doing something else? What would you do? Leave your comments in the comment section below.

Teaching Your Child to Read

Back in the days when my elder one was three to four year old, I used to read her a book every single day. The main reason for doing so was to instill a habit of reading and to increase vocabulary and comprehension. Now there is hardly a day goes by when she goes to sleep without either reading a book or a book being read to her.

Recently I bought a Kindle to encourage more reading. (Although I strongly wanted to go for the Kindle Touch but settled with the Kindle Fire because of the color screen. The color screen makes all the difference in reading the picture books which my younger one enjoys.) And have seen an increased motivation in my children to read more because of the easy access to hundreds of books, sometimes free.

I also try to find websites that helps children to learn while playing. Below are some of the best reading sites I have run across:

Mrs. P – Chosen a Best Website by the American Library Association
Starfall – A free public service to teach children to read with phonics.
Reading Eggs –  It’s got over a 100 lessons, starting from the very basic (alphabet recognition) and moving on up to simple grammar.

What kind of websites/trick do you use to encourage reading for your child? Share some of them below in the comments section.

Are children’s homework really important when schools are closed?

Past week, we took a forced vacation because the kids were out of school for spring break. We drove to the grandparent’s place, a small city in Louisiana called Youngsville. There is not much for the kids to do there except small community parks etc. So during the moments whenever we  attempted to sit down to do some work, the kids would resist and claim that the schools are closed and hence no homework.

But as a parent, I wondered that even though the children may not be excited to do any homework, no matter how trivial the assignment, they’ll be learning something valuable. By assigning homework, teachers help students exercise important time management skills that are crucial to their success as an adult. As adults, we need to be able to manage our time effectively so we have time to enjoy the things we love most.

Read on to see what mother and teacher Jessica Lahey  for the New York Times has to say on the subject of homework in an article called:

I Hate Homework. I Assign It Anyway.

Why this blog?

Blogs have been around for several years. Like many others, I was sold by the hype surrounding it and attempted to create blogs two times in the past, but failed.

First time I created a blog was to document my journey to the 2012 Olympics being held at London. Soon after launching my blog and learning about the cost of a trip to UK, the flame of watching the Olympics live started to die. I still went ahead and registered myself on CoSport (the agency responsible for selling tickets to the general public) to get tickets for at least the opening or the closing ceremony. When CoSport finally began to invite registered users for submitting the request for the tickets, I finally learnt the prices/process of the ticket and that I can only get 2 tickets per family. That put an end to my desire of going to UK to watch Olympics, and hence the death of the blog. It is still out there somewhere with 1 or 2 posts on it.

Second time I created a blog was when I was searching for a full-time work. I must have a blog – so I was told – by which I can communicate to my would be employers. But I soon realized what I had learnt in my prior job searches that finding a job is finding the right person who could connect you to the right employer – all networking. And so my personal blog didn’t even get off to the ground.

This is my third attempt and I think it will be different this time. Different because I feel I have something to blog about. Blogs are opinion of individuals/corporation and there are going to be as many blogs as there are opinions.

So what do I have to blog (opine) about? Having two children, ages 8 and 5, I am always making decisions on their behalf that will affect how and what they will become when they reach adolescence. And I am constantly afraid of making those decisions because I am not sure if those are right – partly because I am learning parenting on the go.

So this blog will mostly be about the journey of making decisions about the children’s education. Ride along if interested.