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organic gardening

A small home with a real large space (yard space) to grow my own food – this is what I’m dreaming of right now. In the meantime, we’re doing what we can with the space/soil in the yard we have. Trying to grow in the Goan monsoons  (July, Aug, Sept, Oct) was a steep learning curve. The rocky soil, the soil erosion, the pests (the joy and comedy of living right next to the paddy fields and ponds!), the stormy winds, and the time we got in bits and pieces with a baby – all put together – it almost eroded our enthusiasm and energy. Until this past month.

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unschooling means saying Yes And to life

(a story related to this dead butterfly on the beach is on Pari’s blog)

I’ve often written about the Learning Connections we make in (and, due to) our unschooling life. But, rarely have I written about the unique human connections (lets call it UHC) we make in our unschooling life and all that we do as part of it. Yes, the unique human connections – you may call it ‘socializing’ – that we make when we go on nature walks, when traveling out of town, on railways stations, when sending post-cards and letters, when walking into neighbours’ homes to surprise them with Diwali/Birthday sweets, when cycling on the beach, when stopping by to chat with the fruit/vegetable vendor, when visiting Grandparents’ farmhouse. And, when blogging – and connecting with all YOU beautiful, thinking and thoughtful people around the world.

But then, I’ll write more about UHC in another article. I’m bringing it up here today as a context to the main article that you’ll read in a bit. And, the main article is not written by me! Woohoo! Now, that’s a BIG change here at Mommy Labs, isn’t it? It’s by a reader of my blog. Her name is Sunita Halasz.

Read on…

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Soul ring Sling

I can still feel the softness of my baby on my body! I’ve just now come and sat at my laptop to write this article – after cozying her into sleep. I nursed her first and then carried her in both my arms with her body close to my chest and my face touching hers. She likes my cheeks against hers. And, I relish her feel. That feeling of holding your baby so close – so very close that you can melt into her warmth and softness, this emotion is beyond the realm of words and expression. Yet, you know what I’m saying…

Some days she likes to sleep by being carried in my arms, other times she just wants me to tuck her into the bed while I sit close or lay near her. There are no rules out here. But, mostly, she loves my touch, the warmth of my voice (“mamma is here” or a song or mantra) as she drifts into sleep.

Having experienced such close contact with my babies – first Pari and now Sufiana, I can’t fathom how babies feel and thrive when they are carried in those container-like things – those basket-like hand-held carriers dangling at knee level. Or, babies snapped into a stroller, almost completely draped with a blanket, being pushed around in isolation. No contact, no touch, no interaction. My heart really shrinks at such sights.

On the other hand, a baby in arms or in a sling/carrier – snuggled with the mother – the mother nursing the baby or talking to him/her, the baby feeling secure due to the touch, the warmth – I resonate with that.

So, this blog post today is unique. Because, this topic is close to my heart. And, there’s something for you and your baby to win. There’s a giveaway! A ring sling for all you mammas and papas (and, would-be parents) from the beautiful mamma of two – Chinmayie of Soul Ring Slings. It’s a worldwide giveaway. So, don’t hesitate to enter – no matter which part of the world you live in.

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Celebrating One Year of a Wonder-filled Life!

be the wonder-struck partner to your child

There was no cake, no candles; nothing else that might be testimony to a first birthday. Yet, it was a beautiful birthday celebration for Sufiana, who turned one on November 2.  Avie, Pari and I discussed a few ideas for how to make her day special and then we all agreed – unanimously – given the curious, observant, aware, nature-loving and water-loving being that she is, the best birthday celebration and the best gift for her would be a day out in the nature. Nature would be her perfect play-mate showering her with curious finds, playful moments and wild fun.

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Mandalas, Mantras and Motherhood

mandala mantra art motherhood

It was our first Diwali in our new home in Goa and obviously we were very keen on creating memorable moments that would last a life-time – ours, and possibly – our children’s. We cleaned and uncluttered the home, made art, decorated many corners, cooked delicacies, clicked pictures, lit candles, diyas (clay lamps), made rangolis. And hey, we even came out of our comfort zone to host a get-together for some new friends that we’ve made here.

You see, all of this sounds quite a bit, especially, with Sufiana in tow. It may even sound like we had a rushed week. But, I have to tell you – amidst all these ‘things’ that we did for Diwali, it was always on top of my mind that I do not want to ‘do’ at the cost of inconveniencing Sufiana (the littlest member in our family). I don’t want to come out of the festival week feeling stressed and rushed. I don’t want a ‘perfect-looking’ Diwali; I want a ‘happy Diwali’.

So, if I could share with you three simple practices that worked for me – worked to keep me calm, centered and mindful during the festival time (that could have otherwise been overwhelming), those have to be:

1. drawing mandalas and other spiritual art

2. chanting mantras and writing them out, and,

3. Squeezing in time every once in a while (in between all the festive cleaning, cooking and decorating) to escape into a quiet room to play with my little one – my little Sufiana.

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reading aloud mothering learning

I was reading aloud to Pari (my 8.5 year old) yesterday morning – Maupassant’s short story – ‘Two Friends’. That book – a collection of short stories by the greatest short story writers ever – O Henry, Guy De Maupassant, Saki, Chekhov – has been on my shelf for more than ten years now. I hadn’t touched it.

Yes, I’d not turned a page of that book even though I love to read. Even though I love short stories.

But, right now with you, I don’t want to dig into why did I NOT read that book in so many years. On the contrary, I want to figure out (and, I’m thinking aloud with you as I’m writing this) WHAT made me read it that morning?

I feel, the prospect of reading to Pari (actually, it’s more like reading to her and to myself!) is something else. I’ve figured that I can create time to read to her even in the middle of dozing off. It’s not merely duty. It’s fun. For her and for me. It’s our sacred time. It’s my me-time. It’s our co-learning time. It’s our confiding time. And so much more. Come join me in this journey of self-discovery…

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Art Heals: An Introspection of My Mom’s Life

healing tape resist art

It was a beautiful – and powerful – sight for me. My 65-year old mom and my 8.5-years old Pari sitting at the same table and making art. Pari does art often, that’s not unusual. But, convincing mom to do art was not so easy. And, I’m glad I did so, for those two hours or more that mom dived into the process of making art, was healing, to say the least. Healing, not just for her, but for me too.

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Mother's Curious Learning Unschooling

“We are mostly teaching what we need to learn. We also teach best what we most need to learn”

Recently, I came across those words of wisdom (above) from the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (by Richard Bach). That line was shared by Kiran Gulrajani – on the online forum of the Learning Societies UnConference.

And, those words struck a chord with me. They sum up my experience as an un-schooling parent to Pari (my 8.5 years old). I believe I have been and will continue to be a good parent/mentor to my child because I have a fertile mind – rife with curiosity to learn and explore.
I’m in a good position to mentor because I’ve got a lot to learn myself; I WANT to learn a lot. Though I’m just a few years shy of 40, my inner child is alive and kicking – very much a no-holds-barred learner. I’m not a master of any art or skill but thanks to my ever-inquisitive mind, I’m good at quite a few things. If I wasn’t open to learning, I would have been a bad example for my daughter and a rather poor mentor/teacher.

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breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and beyond

Eight months it has been been since Sufiana came into my life. This journey of being a mother, all over again, to a tiny being (but an evolved soul) – since Pari was born eight years ago – has been the most uplifting experience – at a spiritual, emotional and physical level. And, of all that I do as a mother to love and bond with her and care for my little one, breastfeeding her has been (and is continuing to be) the biggest nurturer. Not just for her. For me as much – if not more.

I’m breastfeeding her exclusively even though it’s way past 6 months – the recommended norm to breastfeed a baby exclusively. I’ve started tiny amount of mashed fruits/potato etc a week back. But, she’s not been too keen. So, statistically, she’s still nursing almost every two-three hours – through day and night.

So, why did I choose to breastfeed her exclusively for 6 months? And, beyond, too?

I’ll write my perspective and research on each of these questions, in separate blocks.
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IMG_5462

(pic by Pari)

This patch of land that we’ve found in our new house in Goa has kept us enagaged. Actually, ‘engaged’ is not the right word. We’re hooked to it. For, every free moment of the day that we find goes into preparing the soil, laying the beds, sowing the seeds, keeping them safe from the rain beating down like a zealot. The Goan monsoons – don’t get me started on that. This place looks like another world, another planet – if there’s anything like this out there. Well, yeah -the monsoons deserve a dedicated article. So, what do I talk about in this blog post that’s due for the longest time now….

It has to be about my organic kitchen garden that’s in progress. Besides all the garden-related activities that I do out there, this outdoor space has become a spa for my soul. The churning and nurturing that goes on deep within my core, when my hands are buried in the soil, my feet feeling the earth  – I can’t really begin to express in words. And yet…I might try…

So, here are some thoughts, tips and lessons learned from the backyard (and frontyard) with pictures – as usual.
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