More conversations!

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Once again my boys were busy playing ‘doctor doctor’. This time Nish was the doc, Sid the patient and Amu the nurse cum person who brought the patient in.

Doctor, armed with stethoscope, otoscope and syringe: What happened? What is the matter?
Amu: This is the patient ok? I am bringing him to the ‘hopsital’

Sid (lying down upon an old wooden chest that serves as our center table in the living room) – i will sleep here and you examine me pl. I am dead

Nish: I need a nurse. Amu you are the nurse now. Give me my bag

Sid: Doctor, coould you please hold my bowl of peanuts and give them back to me later?

Nish: OK

Amu: it is a girl patient doctor…she has a purse. Please give your purse also to the doctor. He will not take it…he will give it back

Patient (female) Sid obliges.

Doctor: OK what happened?

Sid: I am dead doctor. A car ran over me on the road and I had a lot of blood!

Nish: Wow – so you could actually see the underside of the car?

Sid: Yes i saw the underside!

Nish: OK now i will give you an injection and a kissie … tyhen you feel feel much better

Sid: Thank you

Nish: What car was it? The underside looks cool?

And then the doctor, nurse and fully recovered dead patient discussed BMW models and motorbikes…

THE END

Ramadan Moon – Book review

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“Ramadan, the month of fasting,
Doesn’t begin all at once.
It begins with a whisper
And a prayer
And a wish”

I love the way this picture book starts. Ramadan Moon, written by Na’ima B Robert and illustrated by Shirin Adl is a wonderful introduction to Ramadan for kids. It takes us on a journey of the waxing and waning moon, all that it brings with it…it gives us an insight into the fasting and the prayers, the thinking and humility and generosity and gratitude that this period symbolizes. In a simple, fluid and poetic style the author and illustrator help the reader experience the beauty, celebrations and excitement of the month. The book is a wonderful introduction to Ramadan for young kids. It is simple (yet not simplistic) and a wonderful snapshot into a world that some kids may not be familiar with. Mine were not…and they enjoyed reading the book and learning about something different from what they experience. What is lovely is the fact that the book reflects a child’s perspective and understanding of Ramadan.

The illustrations are gorgeous and in a style that combines various media – a style that would be fun to explore for kids! The style also reflects Persian inspiration! (And according to one of my twins, the moon has most probably been made by cutting out silver chocolate wrapping foil)

I think that since Ramadan has just started, this might be a good time to read this with kids. I am thinking of how to explore this more and better. Have shown the kids a mosque earlier but might take them to Mosque Road on of these days so they have a chance to see people praying and then will also engage in some conversations around some of the ideas if they seem inclined to it. I also think this is a wonderful book for schools to use to introduce Ramadan.

We’re going on a treasure hunt!

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I found a lovely idea on http://theimaginationtree.com/ a few days ago and promptly tried it out. The boys are totally into the idea of pirates and treasure thanks to a book we have been reading called Here Be Monsters…about a pirate who is looking for treasure.
While i was looking at the http://theimaginationtree.com/ blog I came across a treasure hunt activity which encourages kids to read words. So i made a little treasure chest using an empty washing powder carton and foam sheets (decorated it with some glitter foam circles and a big silver foam lock). For the treasure coins I used glitter foam sheets in gold, silver and blue. I cut up circles (about the same size as a 2 rupees coin or maybe a tad bit bigger). One surface of this paper was glittery and the other surface plain. I used a black permanent marker to write on the plain sides of the coin. One the blue circles I had numbers (between 0 and 10) – one number per coin. On the silver cirlces I put 3 letter phonic words and on the gold I had 4 and 5 letter phonic words. I hid the “coins” all over the family room and when the boys woke up I told them that they had to find all the treasure. I showed them the chest and told them that the “coins” they found could only go in if they could read what was on the back.

The boys were most excited and set of with great gusto, peering behind curtains, under chairs and tables, between cushions…squealing with delight every time they found one. It was amazing and I have never seen them so excited about reading. I picked as many ship and sea related words as I could and that made it more fun. I had put the numbers in for my youngest fellow (2 1/2) who can recognize numbers upto 5 so that he would not feel left out of the adventure. They managed to find and read all and were super excited by the whole concept.

The following day when they woke up form their afternoon nap, Nish immediately asked if he could start looking for more treasure but sadly I had not made any more coins. Will work on more over the next few days and do another treasure hunt over the weekend I guess.

Definitely something to try…can do it with sight words, just alphabets, numbers, math sums, etc.

glitter glitter

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Just adding a little sparkle to paint can brighten up a super drab day so quickly. Day before was so rainy and the boys were getting restless at home. Earlier int he day i asked if they would like to paint but that idea was quickly vetoed. When the sky started to look an ominous grey again in the evening, I took out a palette, squirted some paint into each little depression and then generously sprinkled fine glitter (thanks to the Itsy Bistsy store) into each blob of paint. I pulled out an old chart-paper which has gotten wet in the rain and run color in patches and taped it down onto our plastic mat.

I pulled out some brushes, a few pieces of sponge and set up a couple of plastic containers with water. “Come to the balcony guys!” I called. As they boys came running up their faces instantly lit up and they oohed and aahed over the glitter. And the three little boys who did not want to paint were all on the floor collaborative painting the large sheet of paper. All the water stains soon disappeared under generous broad and thick coats of glittering shimmering paint and soon every singly part of the paper was painted on or stamped with the kitchen sponge! Of course the paint gradually found its way onto tiny toes and feet and legs and we ended our fun painting session with a nice warm bath.

The paper came in handy the very next day – we used it as a wrapping paper for a birthday gift!

I have picture which I have yet to upload but since I had a little time I decided to blog about this first and address the images later :)

Easy set up, easy clean up and lots of fun painting time! it’s amazing how a little bit of glitter can add so much sparkly to a grey cloudy day!

Three wise men on the beach

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We spent the last 2 weeks in Goa…and a lot of time on the beach. As always, there were lots of learnings and discoveries, ‘aha’ moments and deep discussions (i was not really a part of most of it). The three brothers (when they were not fighting and destroying each others sand castles) were trying all kids of stuff with sand and their sand toys. I was just enjoying watching the interactions and conversations. Here are some excerpts:

1. The sea is taking all our toys!
Sitting with their plastic sand toys right where the waves were coming in, the boys struggled to hold onto their belongings as the waves kept carrying them off. AMeya looked at the vast water body before him, sighed and exclaimed “The sea is taking all out toys Aai!!!”
However, something more interesting emerged from this dilemma… they soon figured out that if they filled their buckets with sand the waves were not able to “take them away”. Once they had this piece sorted at least their buckets were safe…

2. The filling of buckets however soon led to another discovery…reminiscent of Archimedes in a way. So, Sid had his bucket half filled with water. The boys started putting sand in it for fun and Nish noticed that “by magic” there was more water in the bucket. They put in more sand and the level rose some more. “Look!” said Nish, “the sand is doing magic. It is making more water in the bucket!” Scientific technicalities aside i would say it was quite a discovery!

3. Making lakes, rivers and dams: nothing like a beach to explore different phenomena. The kids made different types of water bodies by digging the sand in different ways. They made tracts in the sand that the waves flowed into and flowed back like little rivulets. When they dug a deep hole the waves filled it up and they got a pond. They also used bits of driftwood and large flat pebbles to make dams! It was a process experimetation, trial and error.

4. “look the sand does not fall!” They also discovered that when they took wet sand and added a little more water to it it developed a different consistency – one that barely budged from the bucket even when they held it upside down!

These were just a few of the discussions at the beach … we talked about tides (and the waves creeping in to take away our plastic mat), we looked at different prints in the sand…crows, gulls, dogs, cows and people, we looked for shells (and found some crabs too), we realized how much garbage gets thrown into the sea, we talked about water pollination – because we found all kinds of seeds and pods getting washed ashore.

All in all a lot of fun and tons of discovering. Some of the discoveries led to follow up conversations, some did not. But it is amazing how kids can find wonder and learning all around them!

my incredible little doctors

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This evening before bedtime, the boys were playing with their doctor’s kit. Sid was on the bed with his stethoscope and Nish and Amu cam along in an imaginary ambulance accompanied by lots of loud siren sounds.

“What’s the problem?” asked Dr. Sid
“The patient is here” said Nish, pointing to Amu
“What is wrong with him?” asked Dr. Sid
“He’s not well…he is dead” said Nish
“Ok…let me take his temperature…now an injection…it won’t hurt don’t worry” said Dr. Sid
And the dead patient smiled broadly and said “thank you Doctor, I feel much better already!”

Oh…the simplicity of early childhood!

of birds and bees and beards

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This evening, after his bath, Nish came up to me looking a little distraught. “aai” he started in a worried voice (nish is a master of the worried voice) “…i think i have a bone in my penis. Actually its not in my penic..its in this thing under it” “That’s your scrotum” i replied not sure where we were headed with this. “You don’t have a bone there”
“no no there is something there…its hard like a bone. it’s not a bone??”
“Nope” i replied and tried to return to my task of folding and putting the laundered clothes away.
“Then what is it???” he asked persistently following his line of inquiry
“Those are your testes” i replied, sticking to basic facts and volunteering nothing more
“What do they do?” he asked me in all earnestness
“Um…many things…one of which is to produce testosterone.. it will help you become more ‘manly’ as you grow older…like getting a mustache and a beard.
Now Nish looked horrified..worried was passe…
“I DON”T WANT a mustache or a beard!!!” he exclaimed
“hey, if you don’t like it you can always shave …your baba (dad) does it everyday”
“Oh disgusting! i don’t want a beard and a mustache! And i don’t want to shave! it is so much jard work to do everyday…i don’t want to!”
Me, trying to lighten the mood “well, i guess you could get it all removed by laser so it will never come back huh? that’s something we can think about later”
Nish after a few minutes of thinking this over..”Aai, that lazy (laser) shop you mentioned…can e go there tomorrow itself?”

Guess he really does not want his mustache and beard now does he???!!!

Playing indoors

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The summer is really and truly here. The afternoons are hot and the kids really don’t want to go down or outside. I don’t have any help at home and the kids are on vacation so I need to find ways to keep them busy without being super engaged as i need to get more mundane stuff like cooking and clearing up done.

After spending some time in Mumbai we finally got back to bangalore yesterday. The boys were happy to be home and pulled out all the toys they had missed. But today they wanted to do ‘something else’.

I had too much stuff to do, so i found an easy way out…and it really worked well. I put a mattress on the floor. on both sides i lined up the cushions and seats from our cane sofa set and also added dining chair foam cushions.

The boys could make what they wanted of it. Sid decided this was perfect for somersaults and he tried all sorts of things with that..running starts, trying to create and incline using 2 pillows and trying to somersault down that. Amu was most fascinated and a very willing learner…a quick study too. So both master and pupil practiced their gymnastics while Nish decided that the set up was great for his cars. So he had elaborate parking lots, cars going down slopes, etc. He experimented with what inclines would work for the car without it toppling, how fast a truck could go without its confetti cargo flying off, etc.

Intermittently, the gym mat/car course turned into some sort of obstacle course, with the boys hopping form cushion to cushion, crawling on the mat and more. Once their imaginations took over it was like being on auto pilot.

I got dinner cooked and sorted, put a bunch of things away, unpacked… all this with out a single instance of being called in to help or intervene.

We all cleaned up together before we went down for a swim. Cleanup was super simple – just involved putting the cushions all back in place and shoving the mattress back where it belonged.

Definitely something i would do again in a few days!

The Mulberry Cooperative

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I just liked how that sounded…so in case you are wondering if we’ve taken up an agricultural hobby…negative.

We were in Lonavala last week. The boys had been so boisterous at home in Mumbai, cranky, squabbling and fighting…mom decided it would be nice for them to just be able to run around in the garden and let off some pent up energy. So we all drove up to Lonavala (just what the doctor ordered).

Sure enough, the boys were running all over the garden, enjoying the trees and the grass and the little pond. The highlight of the first day (and our trip) for them however, was the mulberry tree.

Otherwise busy snatching stuff from each other and complaining loudly about it…the mulberry tree actually managed to bring the trio together. The tree had lots of mulberries on it..more red than black but once they got a taste of the mulberry they wanted more …and more. The ones on the lower branches were quickly picked and eaten but they still wanted more…however, the others were a little too high for them.

Nish and Sid tried jumping but they only managed to grasp at some of the leaves. Finally they came up with a plan…they came up with what i decided to call the mulberry cooperative. Sid jumped, caught hold of a leaf and pulled it gently down (he quickly realized that if he wasn’t gentle the leaf would simply tear). As he pulled the branch down using the leaf, Nish secured the branch and pulled it lower, Finally Amu was able to pick the mulberries for all of them while his brothers held the branches down for him. They all shared the spoils and proudly sported reddinsh purple stains all around their lips!

Forgiven

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Yesterday I totally lost my temper with Nish. He was whining…and whining. Basically i was tired and felt he was being so difficult about everything. Refused to go to the bathroom before his swim, then wanting to go but not going..then screaming about his swim suit..Finally i blew my top and was really not nice in how i yelled at him.

eventually got all three boys changed and we got out of the building to head to the pool. Nish stopped to pick up a gorgeous paink frangipani flower for me and gave it to me with the biggest og smiles like nothing had happened. I sat down and gave him the biggest squash i could.

We need to be 4 yrs old too sometimes…and be able to see that someone loves us even though they may have shouted or been mean. to know that at the bottom of it all, it is okay. no ego hassles…no long term grudge holding…all simply sorted with a beautiful flower and a gorgeous smile…