Monthly Archives: March 2013

Nesting dolls

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We have a beautiful russian nesting doll at home (matroshka doll), given to me husband by a russian classmate of his. The boys were intrigued by it and most fascinated after i showed them how i worked.  

I picked up a local nesting doll for them last month at the kala ghoda festival (KEC green games and toys). The doll is very pretty and each doll is of a different color. I picked it up for the boys only because i wanted to keep the Russian doll intact. However, as i watched them play, it was cool to see how much thinking, learning and coordination was involved. They love the doll and play with it almost every day.

Funny thing is, they were never into the nesting toys we had got them…so the nesting cups, etc were always ignored. However, i guess the doll became something more real, interesting and hands on. they practice colors, sequencing, fine motor skills (fitting dolls into one another, opening and shutting the dolls). 

You can check out KEC toys on FB: https://www.facebook.com/kecgreengames

 

Put a lid on it!

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So the 2 yr old twins are going through this very curious and independent phase. They want to do everything themselves and love to know what is in every packet or box too. I have started giving them plastic containers of different shapes and sizes to play with. There are containers with snap on/off lids, bottles and jars with lids that screw on and off and then take-away containers with thin lids that have to be pulled off. The boys like to spend time opening and closing the containers. As i watched them the other day i realized they were working on so many things:

fine motor skills – pulling, screwing on and off, fitting a lid correctly before pressing it down

matching: figuring out which lid matched which container

understanding size – some containers were smaller while others were bigger with larger mouths. The boys were soon able to figure out that the cola bottle lids would simply fall into the jars and so they would look for the bigger lids.

They also used to jars and bottles to transfer water again working on coordination

matching game

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We are going tomorrow for the long weekend to lonavala and so i started trying to pack late this morning. As always, i started with the boys’ stuff because that seems to be the bulk of what we need to take and, as always, the boys wanted to ‘help’ me. So, while i was figuring out night clothes and blankies, the twins pulled out the plastic socks box from their cupboard.

Before we knew it, there were socks all over the room…lots and lots – because we just bought them 8 new pairs and all the old ones are still there, waiting to be passed on to ameya (baby number 3) or be turned into sock puppets. 

I started picking them up, trying to find pairs ad put them together when i suddenly had an idea…saved myself the trouble of hunting down the socks and had a fun game for the boys too. I held up a bright blue and orange striped sock and said “where is the other one? Who can find it for me?”. And Nishant came along with the sock that he retrieved from the top of his Lego box.  “Good matching Nish!”. This turned into something that was fun, we got all the socks matched and then…yup you guessed right…we started all over again. 

Drawing inspiration from this, i also had them match their pajama sets … so i held up the top or bottom and had them give me the other piece. 

Matching is an important pre-math skill. I really liked the way this one came about so organically. The boys liked it and wanted “more” and i got the socks sorted too!

 

Aside

Mumbai is seriously heating up. March is not even over yet and i can’t do without the fan although all the windows are wide open. The boys don’t want to wear clothes and are running around in cool little vest and undies.  I have been trying to find some ways to beat the heat.

Here are some things that we have tried out:

  1. Water play: i give the boys a little water in a bucket and in their tub and a whole bunch of plastic containers and cups of different sizes. They spend lots of time time just pouring water from one thing into another and they finish play by splashing each other. The bathroom resounds with loud squeals and the kids seem to have a blast. Squirty toys also add to the fun.
  2. Playing with ice cubes: tyhe boys love ice. they suck o it, they drop it in water, they throw it on the floor and then try can pick it up with their mouth. They swim in the cold puddle on the floor
  3. ice-painting: i put a few blobs of paint on a paper and give the kids ice cubes to swirls around. creates fun art and is a great way to cool off too!
  4. ice-lollies: i was inspired by recipe online: http://weelicious.com/2012/07/12/pea-wee-kiwi-pops/

Instead of the kiwi and peas, i used fresh orange orange juice and strawberries that i put into paper cups and suck into the freezer. I used plastic spoons instead of                         the popsicle sticks – only because i did not have popsicle sticks handy. The kids absolutely loved this cool treat which i gave them after they finished playing downstairs.

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Beating the heat

Birthday party – made at home

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It is the era of fancy parties with themes and planners and entertainers. The time of fancy finger foods from around the globe and funky take home presents personalized and monogrammed for each child.  Cartoon characters and TV shows and movies form the party theme.

I wanted something different for the boys. Something that was more Us…the twins watch no TV at all and have not watched any movies. Last year we did the party around the Very Hungry Caterpillar because it was their fav book. This year we decided to go with a vehicle theme as the boys are totally into cars, trucks, dumpers and diggers! I love doing things at home, so we started out by designing an invite:

The boys chose the picture they liked…we reviewed various car/truck/bus/plane images. I decided to keep the food fairly simple because I wanted to make it at home. I made yummy chocolate cupcakes (recipe courtesy my cousin Binky – i think she got it from BBC recipes). I made about 55 cupcakes (there were about 20 kids including my twins). Am putting the recipe down for you. It is super easy and worked like a charm.

125 gm flour, 125 gm butter, 125 gm sugar (can replace 3 tbsp of flour with 3 tbsp of cocoa powder if you want chocolate cupcakes)

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp baking powder

No need for baking soda if you are not using cocoa. But if you use cocoa then take 1 tsp baking soda.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the vanilla essence and beat.

In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg, butter, sugar mixture and beat.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Line the cupcake trays with the cupcake liners and spoon the batter in. Bake for about 10 minutes or till inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool. (This makes about 15 medium sized cupcakes)

For the chocolate glaze, i got a martha stewart recipe. Once again – unbelievably easy…and so deliciously decadent!

You need 170 gm (6 ounces) of dark chocolate (chopped into bits or you can use chocolate chips too. I used Morde dark chocolate) and 1 cup cream (i used Amul cream). Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the chopped chocolate bits into a bowl and pour the cream onto the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes. The chocolate melts right away. You then need to mix it well with a beater.

Then, just dip the cupcakes into the chocolate and let the excess drip off. Set it aside. The chocolate thickens as it cools. Add sprinkles on top for a bit of color.

Super yummy! All 55 were demolished by the 20 kids.  Oh, and i made little stars with cars drawn on them that i stuck onto a toothpick which i inserted into each cup cake. The kids were quite excited by that!

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Also made really simple mini pizzas. Served this with Orange Juice and some chips.

We used Akanksha art kits (www.akanksha.org) available at the Akanksha art shop in Worli, Mumbai.  So i had little wooden cars, peacocks and elephants on wheels that the kids painted at the party. They loved this and it was wonderful to see how focussed they were and how involved they got. We had some stunning art there! That also became the take home gift for the kids.

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I had music playing and lots and lots of balloons. The children kept themselves busy with the balloons and the art work and i did not need to do anything much to entertain them. The boys had a stunning birthday and i really enjoyed myself too!

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I felt involved, the kids were also part of the planning and in spite of it being a simple at home DIY affair all the children had a blast!

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I made really simple thank you cards for the kids:

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Sidhhu’s turn now!

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The boys are slowly getting independent. Every day they are ready to try out something new…on their own. A little while ago, i walked into their room and found them deeply engrossed in trying to wear their own underwear. They both are able to take off their shoes, pants and undies but so far have not tried putting them on (other than shoes).

I watched quietly from the door, not wanting to interrupt the activity in progress. Both boys were completely starkers. Siddhant was holding a pair of striped blue and white undies in his hand while Nishant was instructing him on how best to hold them. Next came the act of putting the legs into the underwear. Easier said than done. Siddhant could not balance on one leg long enough to put his foot through. He was holding the undies with both his hands so he could not hold anything else for support. Finally i stepped into the room and tried to help him with it. He let me do it and then promptly pulled the undies off again saying “siddhu turn now!”

He finally figured out that it was easier sitting down. With a little verbal guidance, he finally pulled his undies up and proceeded to put on his pants. Sure they were lopsided and strangely stretched way above his belly button but he looked so proud as he announced “all done!”. Nishant clapped spontaneously for his brother and then began Nishant’s turn at wearing his undies!

I guess it is easy for me to indulge in this process as i am a stay at home mom and usually have no place to get to in a hurry. i think kids need time to be able to do stuff at a time, pace and space where they are comfortable and rushing them along just to meet our needs probably interfered with some of this independent learning.

My little animals!

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We had a fun time a little earlier this morning. I had bought the boys hairbands that had animal like ears (a giraffe and a monkey). They had not been particularly interested in the bands and we had put them away in the toy cupboard.

This morning Siddhant poured some water on the floor and then the boys decided to pretend they were swimming in it. Siddhant said he was an alligator in the water. Nishant decided to be a monkey and he started jumping in the puddle. (we have been reading a book called cheeky monkey which has both characters and also singing a song about monkeys and an alligator).

They both suddenly decided to take off their clothes and splash in the little puddle. By the now there were wet streaks across the room and in the passage too, made by the two little ‘animals’ swimming.  Suddenly Nishant went running to his cupboard and pulled out the two animal hairbands. They figured out how to put them on and had a blast running around pretending to be animals.

Pretend play seems to have suddenly started and it looks like this is going to be loads of fun! Am planning to keep aside a little pretend play box now. Here are some things i plan to put into it:

  1. a few old scarves or ‘dupattas’
  2. some caps/hats
  3. feathers
  4. masks
  5. sock puppets
  6. a couple of my old shirts/tshirts
  7. spare shaving brushes
  8. comb/brush
  9. bangles
  10. old syringes
  11. old plastic bottles – empty lotion or bath gel bottles
  12. mop cloths or rags
  13. a plastic broom
  14. plastic spectacles/glasses
  15. their kitchen set – cups, saucers, kettles ,etc
  16. their plastic fruits and veggies

will add to this list as i go along but this is a good set of things for me to start with.

preparing for a sibling

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Nope- i am not expecting again…just wanted to share my experience of preparing my toddler twins for their new baby brother’s arrival. A couple of friends called recently to ask how i helped the twins adjust to the new baby and so i thought i would just put some ideas down here.

When we found out I was pregnant with baby number 3 (Ameya) we were all pretty surprised..and excited…and worried. worried about how we would manage…how we would fit in our apartment…how we would ever manage going out for the next few years…but most of all about how the twins would take to this new entrant in the family. The boys were just about 13 months old when i took the pregnancy test…the two pink lines that announced yet another addition to the gang. They were too small really to understand and so for the first trimester i did not really say anything much to them about the baby. I felt it wold have been too abstract a concept.

One good thing was the fact that my neighbor was also expecting at the same time and she was about 4 months ahead of me.  The boys played often with her elder daughter and we met pretty often.  So they saw her tummy growing. We started talking about it. I pointed to her and told them there was a baby inside. I still wasn’t showing so i used her to talk about a baby inside. A few months later she delivered a baby boy and the kids now saw what we meant by “baby”. We went over often so they got a chance to see the new baby and observe his habits and routines. They were quite excited by this arrival. By this time, i had started showing. So now i told them that there was a baby inside me too…a new sibling for them just like their friend.  Every night after their bath we would sit down and read a book and then spend a little time talking to the ‘baby’. The boys found it very amusing to get their mouth close to my tummy and say something silly. Then they would look at me and laugh. They also kissed my tummy and farty sounds with their mouth on my tum. I let them because i figured there was no reason to say NO.

I would use fruits to show them how big the baby was getting every month and they loved that. I also started slowly putting together a little bag of clothes and stuff for the new baby. We did this together – they picked out some of their baby clothes for the new sibling and also helped put some toys aside. I remember one funny moment when Siddhant decided to make the most of the situation. He took a bunch of random things that did not work and that he did not want and came up to me: “for baby ok?…thank you!”

I also got a book for the boys. My New Baby by Rachel Fuller. We read this together every night and that got us started on many small conversations about babies. It has very simple beautiful illustrations that highlight a lot of stuff about babies and the differences between babies and toddlers. It shows a mother breast feeding, changing nappies, getting the baby dressed, etc. The boys were curious about breast feeding because they have their milk in a bottle, so we spoke about how mommies feed little babies. Since the boys also love animals, i showed them pictures of a cow being milked as well to help make some connections.  We also saw a calf feeding and that was wonderful!

I involved the boys in picking names, helping me pack my hospital bag, etc. I let them feel the baby kicking. However, i tried to ensure that i did not focus too much on the baby or baby talk. We did all that was part of our regular routine.  By the time it was time for my delivery they were pretty excited about the new baby coming.

My husband and mum were in the delivery room with me and mum video recorded the pediatrician taking the baby, cleaning him, weighing him, etc. Then she showed the twins their baby brother and played the video for them as many times as they asked for it. I delivered at 3.30 pm and the boys finally came to see me at the hospital at 5.30 pm.  One of the twins stood by the bed looking a little confused while the other jumped onto my bed and kissed both me and the baby.

And the following day when i took the baby home, both my boys watched with excitement and wonder. My most precious moment was when i looked at nishant and saw him looking at his baby brother in the crib with what can only be described as pure pure and uncontainable love, a broad smile plastered on his face.

The next few days were crucial in ensuring that the boys did not feel neglected. I let them touch the baby, i put him on their laps, they helped with diaper changes. I let them sit with me while i fed the baby, i let them peer curiously at where the milk was so magically appearing from.  I made a very very conscious effort to avoid the word NO.  And i always referred to him as their baby.

There have been days when they have told me to put him down and play with them, when they have squeezed their way onto my lap, the occasional rough pat from sid, the occasional tantrum about wanting me. But in general we have tried to continue with our routines as far as possible. I have mastered the art of feeding and reading, nursing and crayoning. It is not easy but i feel that the twins have been pretty accepting of their brother. They show concern and a lot of love. they are proud, protective and possessive.  It has now been almost four months. Let us see how things move from here!

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a walk in the park..and then some

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Yesterday was an interesting day for us. After painting and reading and lego and a much needed afternoon nap (believe it or not – all three kids slept), we went out to a park in our neighborhood. (it is a public garden – bmc maintained garden on pochkhanwala road,worli). This is a weekly haunt for the boys and me. It’s a nice change from the park in our apartment complex and it allows for new interactions and experiences. 

Yesterday however, we spent a lot of the time there on non-play stuff. While waiting for his turn on the slide nishant spotted a few carpenter ants scurrying about. So we forgot about the slide and followed the ants up to a tree. On observing them closely we discovered that there was a nest on the tree. It was interesting to watch the carpenter ants and because they were large and black we could easily follow their trajectory along the bark of the tree. Also, because the carpenter ants were large, we were able to appreciate their segmented bodies. “Look! ‘mungi’ bum!” (mungi is the word for ant in marathi). I counted the legs for them too.

We also discovered that the tree housed the regular small ants. We observed a line of ants carrying some food. The boys found long slender twigs under the “ant tree”. They enjoyed swinging them around and writing in the mud with them. They also figured out that they could poke holes in dry leaves with their twigs. 

And finally, they discovered that one set of steps leading to the slides had water collected on them from being washed a little earlier. All the other kids were being told to avoid them but mine went straight for the gorgeous messy fun they provided. They stamped on each step with gusto, guiding each other to and through the biggest puddles. 

Truly a delightful evening! 

experimenting with different tools for art!

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This morning was “painting morning” as my boys have started calling it. Most of our painting / art happens in the morning before the kids have their shower (for very obvious reasons). Here are 2 things we did differently – and which were definitely a new experience for all of us.

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My husband is sure to love one of them: Less messy! Our painting activities are usually pretty messy. we start out with little steel plates that have blobs of paint in them for the kids. The boys use brushes, sponges, fingers, palms, toes and whatever else they want to paint. However, a lot of paint is wasted and i also end up with palm prints and foot prints in the strangest of places all over the room. So, we tried something new: instead of a palette, i simply put little dots of paint onto the paper directly and let them take it from there. The kids saw the colors mix very differently from before and enjoyed swirling their brushes in the blobs of paint on the paper and trying to also go from one colored ‘dot’ to the next. This way, all the paint we took out got used and most of it stayed on the paper! Hooray!
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2. Experimenting with different tools: So, up until now we had painted with fingers, feet, brushes, sponges and used stampers (ready made) as well as potatoes or lady finger. Today, while the boys were coloring, one of them took his toy car over the paint blobs leading to streaks across the paper. I thought this was pretty cool and urged them to try other stuff. So we had different cars, the back of the brush, the felt pen cap and a lego block as tools to try out. The boys picked what was near them and caught their fancy and it was nice to see how different objects made different patterns or designs with the paints.

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This was very unplanned and impromptu – i think it will work beautifully with cars or trucks that have broader tyres with more defined treads.

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