Thursday, November 30, 2017

Life lately...

I feel like ever since Maya started Kindergarten, the past few months have just been such a blur. School drop-off's, pick-up's, and keeping busy with Veda every day has me in a constant hurried state! In a few short months, Veda has gone from crawling, to standing, and now she is practicing walking with assistance! No rest for mommy.

(Veda at 8.5 months)

From the end of September until the end of October, we had non-stop celebrations. So much so, that now I feel hungover from all the celebrations! This year we performed all the festivals of the Autumn season. Last year my mother-in-law was recovering from heart surgery, and I was pregnant & going through a mild prenatal depression, so we didn't do much. This year, we went all out and celebrated everything!

First, we had Navratri, which is a 9 day Hindu festival, culminating with Dussehra on the last day. We set up a large display of Bommala Koluvu with Maya's miniature dolls and figurines near our pooja corner. Both the kids loved this. Maya did the whole set up with my mother-in-law and Veda watched with amazement.

In between, we also had my birthday, my mother-in-law's birthday, and Canadian Thanksgiving - all were pretty low-key.We also had relatives staying with us from India for 10 days which was really fun....8 people in our 1000 sq.ft apartment! It was our relatives' first time visiting Canada, so I had a lot of fun playing tourist with them.

Diwali snuck up on us this year really fast and I was determined to do something special for it. This year, I did a Diwali presentation at Maya's school which is something I wanted to do for forever, but could never get it together. It's Maya's last year at her current school, so I figured it was now or never! I got all dressed up to the nines - in full Diwali fashion! I brought sweets for all the kids and I explained to them about what Diwali was - why we celebrate it; how it is celebrated in India; how we celebrate it in our home; and that we celebrate it because Maya's daddy is from India. I brought battery-operated tealight candles and asked the kids to place the candles near the windowsill while I read them a storybook about Diwali. They got to take home their candles, and we also made them a 10 page coloring booklet with Diwali images. The best part of it was seeing how proud my daughter was of her Indian heritage.

At home, we had an evening pooja and we got all dressed up and handed out sweets to our neighbors. We also attended a Diwali party over the weekend that my friend organised.

For this year's Diwali, I wore a hot pink and orange kanchipuram silk saree from my favorite Nalli Silks shop in Hyderabad. You're always supposed to wear something new for Diwali and luckily I still have a few silk sarees that were gifted to me that I haven't worn yet. This year, I wanted to wear something cheerful and soft so that it didn't scratch Veda's skin - not too much embroidery.

Shortly after Diwali, it was Halloween already! Maya dressed up as Wonder Woman and Veda was a lion. We spent Halloween over at our friends' house where we did trick or treating, had dinner together, and handed out candies. We ended up not taking Veda out because it was very cold that evening and just kept her indoors.

After so many celebrations in the Fall, November has been a much quieter month. I have hardly left the house, except to take the kids to their activities. Now, we are gearing up for the next holiday season - Christmas! This whole year has gone by so fast.


Dear readers, did your families celebrate any holidays this Fall?
Are you looking forward to the upcoming Christmas season?


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Review of Tokabox: an educational subscription box for kids!

Raising my daughter between two cultures and currently living in Canada, I am always on the lookout for ways to honor and teach her about her Indian heritage.

I was recently contacted by Tokabox with a request to review their monthly educational subscription box and I was absolutely thrilled and impressed by their company. Each box contains a children's book, an activity, and a recipe that you can make with your child. In our home, we are big on reading, art, and home-cooked meals so it reflected our lifestyle perfectly.

Tokabox has two boxes for kids based on age - Toka Junior is for preschoolers; and Toka Explorer is for elementary aged kids.

Since my daughter is 5 years old, I wanted to try both boxes to see how they were different. The month I received was Diwali themed for October - each month has a different theme.

In the Toka Junior box (for age 3 - 5 years old) it contained the picture book Rani Saves Diwali, a craft project to make your own paper lantern diya, and a vegan murukku recipe.

Here are some pictures of the paper lantern diya project:

In the Toka Explorer box (for age 5-8 years old) it contained the book Festival of Light: Deepavali Legends from around India, an activity where you make an electric diya, and a rangoli stencil.

Here are some pictures of the electric diya project:

The thing I appreciate about Tokabox is that all the materials are fully supplied for the kids' activity so you don't have to run out anywhere to buy a something to do the project. For example, in the Toka Junior box, even a sheet of newsprint was supplied to do the craft on so that it wouldn't mess up your table surface! Each box comes with detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

But the thing that I love most about it is that Tokabox celebrates multiculturalism and diversity. And that's exactly what kids need more of!

Maya absolutely loved receiving her own boxes in the mail and she was so excited about it. It made for a great after-school or weekend project. The Diwali items she made will be kept for our annual decorations to display for years to come.

In regards to purchasing, Tokabox has a lot of different options. You can try 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. They also have a "Toka Celebrate" option that has 4 boxes a year for Indian festivals (Navratri, Diwali Sankranti, Holi). They also have a "Toka History" option that has 4 boxes per year to educate children on the History of India. They ship to the U.S., Canada, U.K, Australia, and Singapore.

Tokabox would be a great birthday or holiday gift for kids because it's educational, fun, and it keeps them busy! With every purchase, Tokabox donates a book to an underprivileged school in India. I'm going to be purchasing it for Maya's little cousins for their birthdays.

Click HERE to check out Tokabox!
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