Monthly Archives: November 2013

watching and learning

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Kids are very keen observers and excellent mimics. They watch you all the time…and if that sounds scary then it’s probably a good thing to recognize so you watch what you say and do! Of course, the flip side is that they pick up a lot of good interesting stuff too. (like Sid telling his constipated brother that he needs more vegetables and bananas in his diet) 

Anyway, took the boys out this evening for a play date followed by dinner at a small restaurant. While we were on the way to the place we were in a bit of traffic. In stead of the usual whining, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the boys turned the wait into a fun game…”I spy with my little eye” Nish started and Sid was super excited. They pointed out diggers and excavators, dump trucks and “hondacitycars” (which is said like it is one word). Then they took turns singing songs. No complaints about the time or the wait.

I saw something similar at dinner. They were patient and well behaved, ate entirely on their own without making a mess and courteously thanked the waiter before they left. And then 3 little boys and a very proud mommy got into the car (the joy was short lived because the ride back was a very loud fight over a scrap of paper that Sid managed to find in the car)!

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Where the Wild Things are

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This is one of my FAVORITE books! Awesome illustrations and super super imaginative and creative. I was only introduced to Sendak as an adult and I read Where The Wild Things are when I was in grad school but I fell in love with the book and especially the stunningly brilliant use of illustrations and space on the pages of the book. Right from the dust jacket and the end pages to the performance between the text and imagery..this book has managed to capture everything a picture can be! 

I used this book differently with the boys…largely because of how much i had thought about it, the number of times i had read it and the fact that I had used it in a classroom with first graders. So, we started out by looking at the dust jacket (and i told them it was called a dust jacket and why). I read out the title and asked the boys to predict what the book was about. We had several guesses: forest! monsters! boat?! Then we looked at the end pages and i told the boys that they gave us some more hints about the story..this time, they said the end pages made them think of trees and forests.  

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They enjoyed the story – especially the 3 pages where the wild rumpus is in progress and the pictures completely take over the pages in a double page spread that bleeds into the very edges of the paper.
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Here we decide what the wild things and Max are doing and we have background music too! 

I did not get into discussing whether this was real or a dream…too early for that i feel and I plan to revisit the book again in a few years and maybe again later! 

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But we are enjoying the read and it is one of the current favorites along with Cat in the Hat and In the Night Kitchen! Oh..and will post another post about one more lovely book called You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum

Going beyond One fish Two Fish

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We have been reading and re-reading and re-re-reading The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The twins absolutely love it…the rhyme, the silliness and the complete disastrous madness! When i started reading it I thought the boys (who are now 2 1/2) would probably lose interest or get plain bored after the first few pages (because it is not a short book or a quick read)…but au contraire! they wanted me to go on and on till we reached the end. 

Not only does it have great rhyme and a really whacky story line but the images truly complement the text and the kids love looking at the illustrations to contribute their two bits to the story read aloud. I do not dumb it down or paraphrase or retell…i read aloud. 

They also enjoy sitting with the book on their own and pretend reading – which thanks to the multiple read alouds and the the great illustrations makes for very interesting ‘reading’. 

We started our journey into the world of Dr. Seuss with One Fish Two Fish which is a great and easy book to start eith. It is good for the kids to hear the rhyming words, the text is funny and boldly imaginative (which is perfect for kids whose mind and thoughts are kind of in the same vein) and it has lovely illustrations again.  We have also read Green Eggs and Ham as well as I Am Not Going To Get Up Today! 

We are planning to do some art around the Cat in the Hat over the weekend…will keep you posted. 

little doctor boys

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Today the boys were playing at being doctors (fairly rudimentary and crude ones at that). Equipped with a plastic playdough knife and a water squirter (pichkaari) they were conducting detailed surgical procedures…with big injishuns (injections) and “cut cut operations”. Very successfully too – since both patients kept declaring “feeling better! thanks you doctor! feeling better just now!”

Anyway, at one point, SId asked me why one needed to give an injection when you could take a medicine as a tablet or a syrup!?! 

So, we had our first very basic intro to the human body and how it works (well, actually not the first – we have in previous conversations discussed why ice-packs are important when you get hurt and how the body mades pee and potty!). Tried to tell them a little bit about absorption and how the blood circulates, etc. They loved the concept of the heart and how it works like a machine…

…which led to some fun demos. First we placed our hand on the chest and felt the heart beating. Then I got the boys to do jumping jacks and run around the room and then place their hands on their chest. Nish said he could hear his heart without even putting his hand on his chest.

we kinda strayed away from the whole injection and absorption in the process and i think all the boys took away was that the heart pumps blood! So will tackle the concept when the question comes up the next time…if it does…which it probably will at the next vaccination at the pediatrician! 

More conversations with God

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We have a little shrine / temple in the building compound. Whenever the boys play downstairs they like to make a halt there to see the idols and generally do a little prayer or ask a few questions about what they see. This evening we were downstairs with their trikes. After about 30 minutes of playing, they ended up at the little temple. This temple (it is literally about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide) has a little door with steel bars and can be locked. Today, it was. “Why is the door shut?” Sid asked. Nish my wise one with a fairly good memory replied..”The Gods are sleeping naa…so it is closed” (A priest at a nearby temple had proffered this explanation to a similar question a few months ago). “They are awake” argued Sid. (At this point i took a step back to allow the conversation to proceed without me influencing it in any way). “I think they are hungry. Shall we give them some milk?” Sid continued (i love how they have accepted and assimilated the plurality of the Gods). “No, let us cook something nice for them. We’ll cook it and bring it down in a bowl and give it. Then they can eat and they will be happy” said Nish. “What shall we make?” Sid asked, all ready to get started. Nish thought hard for a minute and then announced very excitedly “Maggi noodles!!!”

A rare treat for the boys since i avoid stuff like instant noodles and ready to eat food…they obviously decided that it was something very special to be reserved for big occasions or the Gods!!! 

“beets” me!

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A few months ago, I had posted a recipe for these delicious beetroot chips (https://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/cant-be-beet/).  All my boys (yes including baby Amu) love beet..especially SId who can totally devour it in any form. I guess it is the sweet taste along with the really awesome color that makes it so attractive. Anyway, so we made beet chips with hummus last evening as a snack for the boys and Sid stuffed his face with them…probably ate a whole beet. Anyway, so that was that and once we were done snacking it was off to the park as always. After lots of playtime and then delicious chicken stew and rice for dinner, the twins and i were in the guest room making christmas cards when Sid announced that he had to ..HAD to pee! Having held it in till his bladder was about to explode, we had no time to run to his potty seat so he yanked off his PJs and just about made it into the guest bathroom to pee (yeah..straight on the floor…nowhere even close to the pot)…which turned out to be the beginning of quite a discussion because he peed a sparkly pink!!! At first i was worried..he had been unwell with fever the past couple of days and now reddish pink pee…hematuria?? I called mom up and the first thing she asked me was if he had eaten beets. Yes he had! And now we had seen first hand what happens when you eat LOTS of beets!!! 

The pink was repeated 3 more times till this morning after which we have gone back to more normal shades of pee. But I can see more incentive for eating beets now..there was just so much excitement around the color of pee! 

Trying out pomelo

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The last time we were in Lonavala, the boys looked at the pomelo tree laden with fruit and asked me what they were. So we picked a couple that were ripe and let the twins truly explore. So, first they looked at the fruit hanging on the tree. they jumped to try and touch the lower ones but i finally had to pick up the boys so they could touch them.  

Then, we cut one open in the garden. The boys smelled the fruit, played with the thinck peel and rind, the spongy white inside of the peel. The took segments of the pomelo and watched as we peeled back the skin so they could try the fruit. 

They ate only a little..discussing how it was a little sour, a little tart and a little sweet. All in all, they enjoyed the experience and we finished the fruit for breakfast the next morning! 

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A canvas for cars

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Not sure if i posted this before…pardon me if i have. A few months ago i made a really cool canvas for the boys. Similar to the snakes and ladders board i had painted,..this time i took a 1 mtr long canvas and painted roads and buildings on it. And instead of actually painting the spaces i filled them in using earbuds and fabric paint…so it has a fun appearance and texture. I put in all the places the kids are familiar with…so Sahakari Bhandar (where we shop), the temple we visit on Sundays, the parks we go to, school, the mall, grandma’s house, the gas station, the fire brigade, etc. It is fairly simple. There are zebra crossings and a few traffic lights. The boys are having so much fun with it. They pull it out every time they take their cars out to play and they really seem to enjoy it. We sometimes put a cushion or a book under it to make slopes and make things more interesting. The twins play on it and have very detailed conversations about shopping and groceries, filling fuel, the traffic, police cars, etc. So, not only does it provide a map for the cars to be driven on, it also is great to promote imaginary play (a bonus that i had not quite anticipated when i made it). 

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A looooong and worrying day

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After our birthday party last evening the boys fell asleep tired out from all the fun and excitement…and so did we! The sleep was interrupted around 2.30 with Nish crying loudly saying his throat was hurting. I tried to give him some ayurvedic cough syrup which did not help…warm water which did not help…warm milk (promptly put back) which he threatened to throw up. He then complained of a earache too. Finally gave him some ibugesic around 3 am and he finally fell asleep (as did I) by 4 am. 

In the morning he was fine till about 10:30 when he developed a high fever and chills and again complained of throat and ear aches. Took him to the hospital where my dad looked at him and the pediatrician asked us to do a bunch of blood tests to rule out dengue and other stuff. This was super traumatic or the poor baby because they made me wait outside the room while they drew blood. They also put in a line for IV in case we needed to admit him (figured it was better to poke him just once instead of repeatedly). It was agonizing to wait outside the room while he kept crying and begging for me. I paced up and down to stop myself from barging into the room, till they were done and i could go get little Nish. He looked so sad and scared with a small bandage on one arm and a splint with the IV setup on the other hand. Filled out the necessary paperwork and headed home to wait for the reports on his test.

In the meanwhile, Sid was most anxious and worried and had gotten very cranky and clingy by the time we came home.  Nish kept refusing to eat or drink anything and we finally got him to have juice around 3pm. 

He seems to be better now. The reports are all negative (thank God!!!) He had another spike and we’ve given him paracetamol. I took the splint and IV line off in the evening. (vey slowly, gently and carefully). Hope he feels better tomorrow.

I plan to keep both twins home from school tomorrow. Sid seems to be a little under as well so may as well let the bug pass. Hope the baby doesn’t catch it because 3 unwell kids in the house is sure to lead to a very very tired mom! 

Birthday pARTy!

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Amu turned one today…cannot believe how quickly the year has sped by…literally seems like a few months ago that i delivered him…my little zen baby! 

zen no longer of course – he is quite a handful now! But a bright and cheerful handful…so i am not complaining.

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Anyway, wanted to do something special for his bday…not the usual bash or anything because i wanted to day to be about him…people he knows and likes, things he enjoys doing. so, we planned an art party. nothing major…just a small simple affair with six other kids who we invited (and 3 of my own of course). The day started out with opening presents and then amu had a fun bath with colored water, a lot of bath toys and foam to play with on the wall. Actually, our celebrations started last evening itself, with both sets of grandparents and a really fun dinner.

 

We had a cake shaped like a car…my first (and very rudimentary attempt at a shaped cake of any kind) and balloons and music!

 

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Anyway, then at lunch today our cook had prepared a fairly elaborate bengali feast for the birthday boy and all three boys had their meals in silver plated with silver spoons and bowls! it was all quite grand and the boys were delighted! We did a little prayer ceremony for the birthday boy too! 

For the party, the theme was art. I had picked up white tees for each kid and had painted their names on it. That became a smock for them. I also got canvases for the kids to paint and made jello playdough for the little ones. The twins and I painted on the windows using finger paints …so instead of a happy birthday banner we painted ‘happy birthday’ on the windows! It was so much fun and the twins loved having such a large and different surface to work on!!! 

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I also used all the kids’ art to decorate the place …so it was a little like a kiddie art gallery. And, there were tons of balloons! I baked chocolate cupcakes with colored frosting (sorry – no pics of the food…i was too busy to click), made rainbow pasta, quesadillas and served fruit juice to the kids. 

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The art activities were awesome and the kids were very engaged. it was awesome to see 2 and 3 year olds focus so well on their painting. They spent a good chunk of time decorating their smock using fabric markers and fabric crayons. Then they put on their smocks and moved on to painting the canvas…we used acrylic for this.  Amu put his hands right into the paint and painted with his fingers on his canvas!

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Then it was time for balloons and music and i just the kids be…they chased balloons around the room, bounced them, burst them…did what they pleased. All the kids wanted to help cut the cakes and the rainbow pasta was a hit.

As a take home present, i filled a paper bag with their dried canvas, tshirt, and a ziploc bag full off foam shapes to play with in the bathroom. (i sat and cut up a whole bunch of foam sheets for this and made little packets for the kids). My kids absolutely love this and it is great for reinforcing shapes, creating things like cars and houses and buildings, colors, fine motor skills, creative thinking, etc. Hope the other kids like them too. 

Now, the kids have all fallen asleep…the house has been cleaned up (more or less) and i guess I should hit the sack too. Tired..but happy tired! Amu totally enjoyed his birthday and so did the twins…and since the other kids refused to leave the party for the longest time, i am hoping they had a good time too!