Storytime Math Symposium

Background shows two children blowing bubbles. Text reads: You're Invited to our Storytelling Math Symposium! October 24th 1pm-5pm EST Charlesbridge on YouTube  Please join us for an afternoon of learning and fun with our authors and illustrators about their experiences working on the Storytelling Math series! Logos at the bottom read: Storytelling Math, Charlesbridge, TERC, Heising-Simons Foundation

My first author event! Come see me this weekend on Charlesbridge’s Youtube page. If you’re a teacher or librarian, you can also register on Charlesbridge’s website. I’m excited (and a bit nervous) to join experts in the field to discuss the importance of diversity in children’s books. My panel will be on from 2:05 pm- 2:50pm EST.

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Book announcement!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce my debut picture book, Usha and the Big Digger will be published by Charlesbridge in the Summer of 2021. Here’s a screenshot of the announcement from Publisher’s Weekly.

I’ve gotten some sneak peeks of Sandhya Prabhat’s fantastic artwork, and I can’t wait until it’s all ready to share.

I’ll keep you posted with pre-order links as the date gets nearer!

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Social distancing week one thousand and forty two

Well, it looks like I ran out of steam for weekly blogging about the pandemic! In the beginning I think I was in denial about the scope of this and at this point blogging weekly until the pandemic is “over” doesn’t really make sense. I don’t know when it’ll be “over” and I think embracing a sort of “new normal” for now makes more sense for me. It felt strange to leave my last pandemic post up with no update–too scary! So I thought I’d write a quick check-in post!

The kids’ school is out now, and we’re doing 2 days of “homeschooling” and the rest of their time will be spent playing together. Right now they are planning a party for their stuffies and have been spent the last few days making “presents” and building furniture out of cardboard, cloth, and glue. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to take photos, but if I am, I’ll post them to my instagram. (Which reminds me that I told someone I’d post my photos of the butterflies we raised to instagram but didn’t end up doing that! At some point I’ll do it!)

Meanwhile, I’m focusing more on my various writing projects. I’ve been blogging for a very long time now, and inspired by Malinda Lo’s newsletter, I thought that perhaps it was time to try moving to writing actual essays rather than just journaling online. I’m also taking a personal essay class through Grub Street, which is almost done (phew!). I wrote 3 essays for the class (whoo!!) but they need a lot of revising, so we’ll see how that turns out! I don’t know yet if I’ll try submitting these to publications or just stick them on my blog. We’ll see in the next few months!

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Social Distancing Week 4

Four weeks (more like 4 and a half, but close enough). Last week whizzed by. The kids had their first videochats with their teachers and they had a lot of assigned school work, designed to keep them occupied for 3 hours per day. The 10 year old, for the most part, can work independently. She has a chromebook and loves working on it. The 7 year old needs more help and direction, but also seems pretty content to work on her school work.

They both need help managing their time though (homework, recess, lunch, snack, chores) as well as their numerous requests for video chats with friends. Even still, I actually did find time to write last week, but it wasn’t all in a row, like I’m used to. I feel like I have to train my brain to work frequently but for not as long. I’ve talked to my family about my frustrations around this, and am trying to block in 3 hour stretches in the afternoon where they play and work independently. Today is the first day we’re trying it.

Another list of things I wanted to remember:

  • gifts of handmade masks from my mother and my neighbor friend
  • the “business plan” 10 year old wrote and emailed me for fun (not a school assignment)
  • watching long videochats between the kids and their friends that consist of long silences as they try to figure out what to talk about (I think they’re so used to playing and talking at the same time that they don’t really know how to just sit and talk.)
  • Easter morning, my 10 year old woke up before anyone else and made waffles for the family with no help
  • playing videogames with the kids
  • cuddling on the couch and reading books with the 7 year old during the day
  • After my 7 year old wrote a very sad journal entry about her “hopes” (see below) my husband took the 7 year old to the bike store for a new bike. She came home very proud of her new big kid bike with gears! (Note: the store is only open for appointments and doesn’t let customers inside.) So far she has only biked up and down our street which has largely been empty.

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Social Distancing Week 3

I realized after hitting send on my blog post last week that I had forgotten so many small things that had happened that I wanted to remember. So last Wednesday, I made a bit of a list of things I wanted to remember doing during the pandemic:

  • dropped off groceries to family in self-quarantine
  • participated in a video chat birthday party for a niece
  • monthly book group switched to a weekly video chat
  • video “morning meeting” from the school principal, where he suggested making anagrams from the word “gratitude”, which the kids really found exciting and spent several hours working on using scrabble letters (voluntarily)
  • getting home cooked food South Indian food delivered from my mom

Last night, the school emailed us a more concrete plan for homeschool, and the plan is a bit less relaxed than ours, (we had been taking Wednesdays off from school!) so we’ll see how that goes! The kids have been doing piano lessons over video chat, which has been going surprisingly well, and this week their bharatnatayam class is going to try video chat. I’m curious to see how that will work.

This Saturday, I attended Kweli Journal’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference. This was originally supposed to take place in NYC, but they switched to a virtual conference. I was a bit skeptical about how it would work, but they did an excellent job making the switch. The conference was incredibly inspiring, and am eager to get writing! I’m hoping now that the kids have assigned school work I’ll get to some more writing time in.

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Social Distancing Week Two

Since Fridays are clean-the-house days, I’m generally too tired to post, so I’m switching to Monday. It has been tough writing. Some days I open the screen and think, “What is the point of this?” But other days, I realize how much I love to read, and how I have always loved to read and write. I also see how much my kids need things to read, and so I keep going.

After a few outside nature walks that were just too busy, we have decided not to venture to parks, etc, but to stick with our neighborhood, which hasn’t been too busy. (Anyway, many of the parks and things are closed now! Massachusetts has had a stay-at-home recommendation since last week.) Yesterday, my legs felt like they needed to do something, so I went out for a walk even though it was rainy. No one else was out walking, so I didn’t have to worry about crowds!

Here’s what I posted to instagram:

Our “homeschooling” schedule started off fairly consistent, but is slowly becoming a little less regular. This is because I am discovering that my natural going-to-bed time seems to be about 1am and my wake time seems to be about 10am, which unfortunately isn’t great for the rest of the family! I may have to give in and wake up earlier and go to bed earlier like I used to, but it’s hard since I’ve been feeling better with this schedule.

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Social distancing week one

Fun with stuffies!!!

Another journal-type blog post!

It has been one whole week since school closed and homeschooling is going okay. We have a bit of a routine now, which I think is helpful for everyone. The kids mostly seem to be doing okay. The 4th grader has occasionally been moody and tearful (so have I!), and she is missing her friends. Still, they are both currently doing surprisingly well, all things considering. I guess we’ll see how next week goes.

My writing has been slow, mostly because the news has been hard to process, and I worry a lot for people I know who are at high risk due to the virus. Still, at least I have been writing and reading, which is good.

As far as homeschooling, our plan of doing 2 subjects per day has been great so far. We have a schedule, but we don’t stick too closely to it. Occasionally, when the kids are having a lot of fun during recess playing outside or playing with their toys, I just let them play rather than sticking strictly to the schedule. I don’t think I’ll blog much about what we have done specifically (if any friends are interested feel free to email!) because there are so many posts about that these days.

A “map” of our backyard by my 1st grader that we did for social studies (a requested activity!)

On Wednesday, we went on a “field trip” which meant we went out biking on the Minuteman bike trail. The day was beautiful and sunny, and just a little bit cool which was perfect. I was surprised though by just HOW many people were out walking and biking on the narrow trail. The trail also winds past several fields and a playground. There were kids playing sports, piling on top of each other, and there were kids playing on the playground as usual. It was a bit disconcerting–people were acting as if it were a normal weekend day, and not a weekday when people have been asked to stay home and stay safe.

Anyway, today was a chores day, so I’m exhausted from cleaning the house top to bottom (with the kids’ help) and now the kids are doing a piano lesson over FaceTime.

That’s it from me today. Take care!

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Social distancing day one

Though I thought I had mostly transitioned away from my blog, with this pandemic, social media has been a bit overwhelming. It seems most useful to me to check in quickly with my friends and then log off. However, I do seem to need to express myself online in some way, so I thought I’d get back to journaling a little bit here. So for as long as I find it fun, I’ll be journaling the pandemic from my POV. As a warning, these posts will be a little off the cuff and only a little bit edited :)

So yesterday was day one at home. My husband is working from home, and I’m attempting to get writing done at the same time, but we have kids to take care of! So the first thing we did with the kids was to make a schedule. My 1st grader needs a more structured day, or she feels anxious. (My 4th grader, by contrast gets annoyed if things are too structured…so we’ll see how it goes.) We googled around for homeschool schedules, looked on FB to see what my friends were doing, and in the end cobbled together something close to what the kids were doing at school (with morning meeting, recess, and snack breaks).

We made a list of subjects the kids were doing at school, and chose two for the first day: Math and social studies. After one day, we were able to see what worked and what didn’t, and we’ll modify accordingly for Monday. (Obviously we’ll be working on reading and writing every day :)) In the end, I only got about an hour of writing in, but it was a productive hour at least!

This weekend, we had already agreed to treat as a weekend, so today, we’re just playing in an unstructured way, like we usually do. While the kids are playing, I’m looking at websites and workbooks and trying to see which things look appropriate for my kids. If any of them turn out to be great I might blog a bit about it. We’re also going to try Dreambox, which is free for 90 days and a colleague of James’s recommended Life of Fred workbooks for math (my kids are good at math so challenging them without boring them will be an issue).

Anyway that’s it from me today. Stay well!

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Website update coming!

I’m going to be updating my website in the upcoming weeks! If any of you are part of the handful of people subscribed to the RSS feed, I’ll probably be deleting and reconfiguring that soon, so you’ll need to come back and resubscribe.

As you may have noticed, social media seems to have taken up my energy for blogging, so I also need to do some thinking here about which of those seems more valuable to me.

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NESCBWI Meet and Greet

Hi everyone! I’m organizing another networking/diversity event for the kidlit folks in the Boston area. This time I’m doing a Meet and Greet for IBPOC writers and illustrators on behalf of the NESCBWI Equity and Inclusion committee. You do not need to be an NESCBWI member to join us. I hope to see you there!

Date: Thursday, December 5, 2019 – 7:00pm

Address: Trident Booksellers and Café, 338 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115

Description: This is a casual meetup for YA and children’s writers and/or illustrators who identify as Indigenous, Black, and/or People of Color (IBPOC). Other IBPOC children’s literature professionals are also invited and welcome. This will not be a pitching event.

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