Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dear Baby: The journey has begun.

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Dear little girl, It has begun, bit by bit, the beginning of your journey on your own in this world. All those years ahead of balancing the letting go and the holding on, the guiding and the letting you experience and learn on your own. You started school this week and it feels like the first time you started walking all over again. Letting go of your tiny fingers to encourage you to walk, and hovering nearby to catch you if you fall. Remember those days? It feels like that. But that is what parenting is about, in the end. We'll do this dance of letting go of you and then taking your hand again, as you slowly get used to this world until the day when you're ready to step on your own, to walk your own steps into the world. Saying a little prayer for you every time you walk through those doors and I drive away.

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More letters to my baby here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Toddler Project: A Family Album

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Good morning you guys. Here’s an easy project for your toddler. I had wanted to make this as a board book for Anya when she was much younger and loved looking at pictures, and pointing out names. Living so far from our family and not being able to see their faces throughout the year, I wanted Anya to know them from a young age and I loved the idea of this project, specially at the baby age where they are fascinated by faces.

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All you need is a little premade or a DIY little album and some family photos. I selected photos of Anya with her loved ones from our various trips back home to see them, because I thought she would enjoy those more now. I stuck double sided tape to the photos and let her stick them to the album. And we found a little ‘family’ sticker from my craft box to add to the top. Here’s Anya trying to show her little album to you.

My parents had organized their photos in many many photo albums which to this day sit in my parents bookshelves. We have spent many an afternoons going through those albums, smiling at all those memories and I want Anya to experience the same. I am trying to make it a point to organize all these photos that keep filling up our hard drives and either print them and make albums or make annual photo books. There is absolutely nothing like an afternoon spent reminiscing over old photos. Sigh.

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Thanks for reading, lots of love.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

On embracing your roots

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When we’re raising a child in a country like America, having been raised in a developing country ourselves,  sometimes when we see the political and social turmoil going on in our birth country, we might feel like distancing ourselves and our children from there. Or at the least, we might feel embarrassed to be connected to a country which has such a negative media image. And if WE feel like that we will most probably pass this on to our kids. Even if most of our kids won’t consider Pakistan THEIR country, still, they will forever be connected to it through us. And I feel its important to develop a confidence and a sense of pride in them about their roots. Just like being from a well-knit and stable home gives you a strong base, so does knowing that the culture and country your family belongs to has so much good about it, even if others might think otherwise. And it actually is true, the best thing about being multicultural is being able to see the best of two worlds. No country/culture really is good or bad, some might have more challenges but there is good in each way of life. Whatever we might do or become, most of us will be connected to the lands we come from in more ways than one. And it would be awesome if our kids thought of their multicultural childhood as an advantage.

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Some simple ideas for giving our kids a good connection to their roots are

- Teach them to appreciate the language, whether they speak it or only understand it. Expose them to it as much as you can and as they grow older explain to them what a great advantage it is to be bilingual1

- Telling them about the little things that you miss about back home and why.

- Telling them stories of your childhood and the places you lived.

- When you travel back to visit family, make sure you don’t just get busy shopping and eating and meeting your loved ones, make time to explore local sites around you.

- Introduce them to music, and don’t forget to include local/folk songs. I personally love music and there is such charm in those traditional tunes and dances. You Tube is a great resource for these. 

- Tell them stories of inspiring people from the country. (It will be a great reason for you to collect these stories, because unfortunately most of the news out from Pakistan at least is negative. This is one of the reasons why I have a board on Pinterest where I collect them. Link is below2)

- And as they grow older, you can also talk to them about the challenges the country faces, and why. And the things some of the people are doing to help their country. 

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Do you have any other ideas on giving your children an appreciation of their roots? Would love to know.

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

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The photos are from August 14th, Pakistan’s Independence day, when I put out reminders of our roots around our house to celebrate.


1 A previous post on raising a bilingual kid and here’s another one with Urdu specific resources.

2 Here’s a link to my Pinterest board where I collect positive stories out of Pakistan.