Art attack

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It is now getting so interesting to watch the boys paint. Nish especially takes his painting stuff pretty seriously. Now at 3yrs 4 months he has developed a rather good control over the brush (and markers, crayons, etc) and he concentrates as he tries to execute what he plans beforehand. He usually decides he will paint a car or a bike or a bus and then chooses a medium. Having recently discovered water colors and flat brushes he has started developing a couple of his own techniques. So he either picks a thin brush and carefully draws the outline of what he wants and then fills it in with water colors using a flat brush or markers. After he saw me using different tools for textures, he tries it too.

Yesterday, i picked up a few stamps (stiff foam) for the kids..an octopus, a dolphin, a turtle and a frog. Nish decided it would be fun to first do a flat wash and then stamp on it. So both boys took large flat brushes and did a blue and green wash on the paper. We let it dry as they had dinner and then sat down to stamp. For this we used the dot markers.

Then surveying his sheet, Nish decided to use a stencil to do small fish. Here he used a regular brush tipped marker. Sid looked at it and said “These are like the Swimmy fish. (Leo Lionni.. yo can look at our earlier post – http://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/reading-swimmy-by-leo-lionni/).
“Even the picture is like Swimmy’s illustrations!” I feel so proud when they use these words!

As they both paint, they have detailed conversations with themselves, with each other, with the painting…life is discussed, elaborate scenarios played out…and i find out so many things about their world that i would otherwise have no clue about…who cried at school, which boy fell down, who likes to eat yoghurt and what another one does that is “SO cool!” Oh to be a fly on the wall!

Sid is still working on his grip and so his control over the brush is not great. But he enjoyed the stamping and then generally went berserk with the dot markers on the blue and green washed sheet producing something that looked quite pretty too.

This morning Nish looked at his work of art when he got up and declared “now for some glitter!”

Looking forward to a nice colorful Sunday!!!

a mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood

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Ok…so we did not see the gruffalo…but we did see a mouse..many mice…rats even! We had a lovely stroll through Cubbon Park last week. Instead of going to the part of the park that has the swings and slides, we decided this time to walk through the park and see what all we could find.

Our first stop was on what the boys called “the mountain”….basically a large rock that you could climb up and chill out on. We decided to sit down and have our snack there. As we were nibbling on crackers and nuts we had a few uninvited guests…two beady eyes peered at us from under a bush and then we saw more beady eyes. A brave mouse actually slowly edged out from under the bush but then changed his mind and scampered back in. We saw a few holes and noticed a baby mouse going in and out.  After a bit we decided to pack up and move on.

We stopped to look at ant hills and possible rat or crab holes (or snake holes, as nish wisely pointed out). Then we moved on to a thickly wooded part of the park which had lots and lots of bamboos. As we stood under the dense bamboo plants we heard the wind rustling through the leaves and the rtall bamboo stalks creaking and groaning as they moved and rubbed against one another. “It sounds just like a waterfall or a river!” said Sid and all three boys listened carefully to the bamboo. They spotted four different types of mushrooms growing under the bamboos…right from really tiny ones to a couple of massive white mushrooms.

We then went around looking for different types of seeds and pods. Found 3-4 different kinds and we shook each one to hear the sound and guess the size of the seeds inside it. 

We stopped to listen to the birds…saw parrots, mynahs, kites, red vented bulbuls and even a couple of bats.

The boys stopped to climb onto the low branches of an old old tree and Nish discovered all kinds of pugmarks on the mud (mainly dogs…maybe a cat).

Our grand finale was the discovery of the mimosa plant (touch me not). We decided to dig one out and take it home to plant…that is when we also discovered that it has sharp protective thorns!

All in all a lovely day…I had thought the boys would tire of the walk and ask for the other park but i was pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed the walk through the “woods”. I think giving them stuff to find/ look for added to the fun element and they were so excited with all their discoveries.

Next on the agenda is a picnic to the park. We have identified a couple of nice spots and it will be good to just chill there and enjoy the trees and the birds and the bees!

Empathy between the boys

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The twins fight so often sometimes…it makes these moments of sharing and empathy even more special for me to see. Last night during our post dinner stroll in the garden Nish tripped over something and fell face down against the concrete skirting of a tree. He got a bad bump and a cut on his nose which was bleeding. In the process of falling he managed to drop some balls of confetti that they had collected on the landing. When we got up, as i applied ice to his head and nose, he seemed more distraught about losing a confetti. Siddhant, who was most concerned and worried about the fall, came up to him and gave him…not some…but ALL of the confetti balls he had collected. He seemed so upset about Nish getting hurt!

5 minutes later he somersaulted right off the bed and ended up with a nasty bump himself…They both took some arnica and went off to bed all cuddled up with each other!

Unicorn?!

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We were reading a book the other day that had an unicorn in it. I explained to the boys that it was called a unicorn because it had one horn. So uni indicates one. That was that.

Then, day before, we went to Cubbon Park in the evening. Sid as always was drawn to the warm and smoky corn stall where the fellow was roasting corn on some coal and selling it. “Aai” he said most innocently, “can we please get a unicorn?” “What?” i asked him. “Unicorn aai…one corn …bhutta (corn in hindi)”

I have no idea whether he meant this as a joke or simply had mixed up the meanings but it sure had me in splits. I know that ‘bhutta’ in now simply going to be unicorn for me from now on.

splishing and splashing

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It has been raining off and on and the other day when we went down to the play area, i noticed with a little dismay that the sandpit had a large puddle of water in the middle, a lot of slushy sand and the jungle gyms were wet and sandy too. “oh well” i thought, “we can play with a ball or just let the boys run around. The sandpit looks super messy!” 

The boys of course (but naturally) had a very different take on the whole matter. They were delighted that there was a “lovely pond” in the middle of the sandpit and their crocs were quickly tossed off as they jumped into the play area. Picking up the sand toys they started digging, creating construction sites, bridges and ‘caves’. They watched with fascination as water filled up into the holes they were digging and soon they were deeply engrossed and hard at work. Their bicycles lay ignored on the side and they forgot all about the crackers they had packed for snack. Normally used to playing with much drier sand they made the most of this wet dense material that lent itself to much more moulding and building! 

Needless to say they were taken straight for a shower after that! It was a really fun evening! 

 

When I grow up…

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Yesterday, as we were getting ready to go over to a friend’s place for dinner, Sid carefully chose his jeans and shirt after a lot of thought. He picked his “fancy shoes” to go with his outfit and then, as i was helping Nish and Amu with their footwear, he announced “when i grow up and become a big boy, I am going to take Dad’s shirts and his pants and ties and watches. He thought for a minute before adding…we can all share them…Me and Nish and Amu”

Digesting this bit of information, Nish looked at me and sweetly asked: “Aai, when i grow up and become a girl, can i take your stuff?” “Sure” i replied, “though you may not grow up and become a girl”. “But i want to” he whined. “Sure then”, i replied, “you can have my stuff”. “what stuff do you have” he asked.

“Well, I have clothes and jewellery and books” 

“what is jooolerry?” asked Nish

“Earrings and neckalces and bangles, etc.” i replied.

“OK! that’s good” he said looking very satisfied. 

Then it was time to leave but all my boys seemed pretty happy with their future inheritances! 

 

Shine Moon Shine…book by David Conway

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Recently at a book fair organized by Butterfly Books in Mumbai I picked up almost 30 children’s picture books. We are getting through them a book at a time because the boys and I love to read and reread books. It is like discovering different layers with each reading…something in the illustration, a different way to look at the text. 

Anyway, we recently got to reading Shine Moon Shine and all of us instantly took a liking to the book. The story is simple yet charming…an invitation to let your imagination soar…literally! It is the story of how the moon got lonely and fell out of the sky onto the top of a building. Nobody cold get it back in the sky and finally a little boy called Ata decided to help the moon get back to its home in the sky. Every day, he tried something to make the moon feel less lonely, to make the night sky less dark for the moon.

The boys tries to catch sunbeams, to shine torches; he pokes holes in the night sky to let the light through. Finally, saddened that the moon is still lonely and that the night sky would not have a moon, Ata cries…and as his tears drop onto the snow they freeze and glisten. This gives him an idea and that night he throws his tears up into the sky so that when the moon shines they glitter and the night does not seem so dark anymore. the moon goes back and everyone is happy. (my boys most certainly are!)

The illustrations are beautiful and this is a story that can be enjoyed by kids and grown ups alike.

Last evening, Nish was coloring something and he made little dots at the bottom and along the sides of the paper. “these are Ata’s frozen tears” he explained. 

All that glitters …

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I don’t know why i waited this long to make glitter playdough! its simply awesome..the boys love it…I love it! Drawing inspiration from The Imagination Tree (http://theimaginationtree.com/2014/06/ocean-play-dough-loose-parts.html) we made our own scented glittering play dough this afternoon. However, in lieu of the no cook recipe on the site I stuck to my regular recipe and added some eucalyptus oil and glitter as well as a some beautiful turquoise Wilton food colour. The result was a stunning glittery blue play dough. Again, drawing inspiration from the Imagination Tree, I pulled out shells we had collected in Goa and set it up for the boys. They absolutely loved it..there is something so fun and therapeutic about playdough (especially scented ones) and the boys were busy for a good 40 minutes kneading, moulding, decorating with shells. At one point, one shell was caught in the middle of a bunch of play dough. We carefully opened the dough and took out the shell. We saw a lovely imprint of the shell on the playdough and I spoke to the boys about fossils and how they are formed. Amu went and got my cookie cutters and the boys also played with those. 

All in all, a really fun activity! 

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toilet training

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Our littlest boy is 19 months old now. I ideally wanted to start toilet training him last month but given the amount of flux in our lives with the move, etc. i decided to wait a bit, let things settle and then embark on this fun project. Surprisingly however, Amu did not want to wait and decided to take matters in his own hands (fortunately not quite as literally as that). Last week, he very calmly told me “aai, potty”. “Okay” I said, thinking he was telling me that he was done. “All done?”

“No, Amu potty” he insisted, pulling his diaper off and running to the bathroom to explain to his doofus mom what he wanted to do. I picked him up and sat him on the pot because he looked at the portable potty seat with much disdain. A smile on the face, a little strain and what do you know?? we did it! So thrilled with himself was the little boy that he clapped and clapped for himself. That was just the beginning. Taking cue from him, i have stopped using diapers at home and stick to tshirts and shorts with elastic waists. he has been going almost every time to the bathroom to pee or do potty and he tells us when he needs to go. He scrambles off the bed if he sitting on it too. other than a few stray incidents where he peed in the veranda he has been surprisingly easy to train (he trained us to manage him more that us training him to use the bathroom). At this point he is in diapers at night and when we go out in the car but i guess we will slowly wean him off that too. Let’s see how it goes! 

another healthy recipe

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I like having healthy snacks for the boys to munch on. One of the things they love is Ragi (nachani) crackers. Basically, you knead a mixture of wheat flour and ragi with water and some oil. Add salt to taste (we do variations like adding chaat masala or garlic paste to the dough). Roll the dough out thin like you would for a ‘roti’ and then either cut into squares or diamonds (boring) or use cookie cutters for more interesting shapes. Then place the cut pieces on a baking try lines with a cookie sheet or parchment paper and bake at 180 (350) for about 10-12 minutes. take them out and let them cool on a wire rack. check with one batch to ensure they are crunchy but not tasting burnt …you may need to play with the timing a little based on your oven. 

Really crunchy and delicious on their own. Even nicer with some cheese spread or a yoghurt dip! 

The boys love it and my mum just took a stack home with her for my dad!