Monthly Archives: December 2013

visit to the doc

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Nish’s wheeze is back and he sounds really really bad especially at night. Fixed up an appointment for a pediatrician to see him this afternoon as he was especially unwell last night and threw up several times. From past experience, i decided against taking Sid along because he tends to run around and ask a zillion things while i am trying to figure out stuff around the place. So of course, he was really upset and burst into tears when Nish put on his shoes. As i was getting the medical file and papers together, he went and put on a nice shirt and a very mismatched pair of shorts, slipped on his crocs and went and stood by the door. It was heartbreaking but i really did not want to take both of them there so i i tried cajoling and then more firm “nos” 

Nish obviously felt very sorry for his twin because he told me quite earnestly: “Sid is also not well mom…he has a cough!” He then turned to Sid and prompted him into action, “Show how you cough Sid!” Sid promptly obliged with a very very fake cough and a desperate look in his bambi eyes…oh…it is not easy being firm!

Finally struck a deal and i promised to read any 5 books out on getting back. 

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At the beach

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The ten days we spent around Christmas in Goa were principally spent at the beach. There was so much to do and so much to discover! And I really feel like one looks at things through such a different lens when one is with kids. The very first day, Sid and Nish made a wonderful discovery…They were both watching the waves and the water with joy and fascination. When i asked what they were looking at, Nish said “The sea is brown and white and blue and grey” And Sid, who was intently staring at the setting sun added “And orange!” It’s true..the sea is these colors and more…much much more. But I never quite thought of it quite so poetically without even being asked to!  

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Then, chasing the waves became another fun thing to do…the boys would let the waves lick their toes and would then chase after the retreating wave squealing and singing! Once they decided that the water wasn’t really that cold, we went in and enjoyed the water waiting for each wave to come upto us and break! At one point Nish turned around with his back to the breaking wave and announced that he was getting a “bum massage”

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We saw a lot of birds too…other than the usual crows and sea gulls, we saw a lot of kites and some eagles too! The boys were amused to see the birds leaving their talon marks on the beach like the boys’ footprints.

We saw crows feasting on fish that has been washed ashore in the morning…we saw gulls and other birds pulling fish out from dead jellyfish and making a nice meal out of them! The jellies that had been washed ashore one morning was also interesting to see and we spent a lot of time observing them. 

Digging of course was something we did a lot of. Amu discovered the joy of sitting in holes in the sand and also of destroying sand ‘castles’. He figured out how to dig and enjoyed himself at it. The twins dicovered that if they dug deep enough they would hit water and that was an exciting activity that kept them hard at work. 

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We discovered seashells too (with and without creatures in them). This was lovely for size and color sorting and they made great decorations for the sand castles we were trying to (very unsuccessfully) build. 

We saw fishing boats and large fishing nets and we were lucky enough to be there one morning as they fishermen were pulling their nets ashore! 

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We discovered that we could fill our pails with sea water and then watch as the sand slowly settled to the bottom leaving clear water on top.

And we saw dogs and pigs and boats and anchors too…

Yes, the beach was treasure trove…a mine of stuff out there just waiting for us to stumble upon! We’ve come back a few shades darker, with the smell of the sea and the taste of salt on our lips, so much in love with the ocean of many secrets and colors! 

 

brotherly love

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This morning, Nish was in a generally foul mood..he woke up cranky and then proceeded to burst into a fresh bout of tears at the smallest thing. My patience was wearing thin and so when he started crying about what he did not want for breakfast (pancakes with syrup and hersheys on the side and not on top as per his previous order) I decided enough was enough and put his plate away on the kitchen counter. Then I quickly made a batch of paint for Amu with help from Sid and the two of us set up the paint area…plastic mat, papers, brushes, sponges and some water. 

Nish came into the bedroom screaming anew because he wanted to paint too…but we have a few rules around the house…and till he was done with breakfast he could not join us to paint..especially not if he was throwing such  massive tantrum. So he stood next to us and continued to cry a little. I asked Sid whether we could start painting..and the good brother that he is he replied: “No! No! I want to wait for Nish.” Knowing our rules he then addressed Nish, “wait here..i will get your pancake and i can feed it to you ok…then you can paint too!”

I thought that was really really sweet. And true to his word, he got the pancake from the kitchen. In the interest of time and the painting mat i fed Nish and we all painted together! 

walk in the woods

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We spent 10 days in Goa..christmas on the beach with sun, sand and so much fun! Anyway, on one of the days – thursday to be precise, we decided to take a trip to the bondla forest reserve and zoo.  It would have probably been a good idea to check their website first but we didn’t and after an hour and a half of driving we came to a sign that announced most tragically that the zoo was closed on Thursdays…why thursday??? beats me…but i guess it’s as good as any other day to be closed. Sid was asleep when we got to this sign and Amu could not care one way or another…but Nish was most upset. He had been sitting patiently through the long car ride, excited about all the animals he was going to see and finally at the end of it all, there was nothing to see! My father in law got out of the car and had a word with the guard at the gate and he was kind enough to let us drive through. Nish was super excited again and we were really lucky because we got to see lots of birds, a monkey and three deer! Then, we took a little walk in the woods and just to make it interesting for the twins, i asked them to look for different colored leaves, different shaped leaves, berries, flowers, fruits, etc. We found some lichens, identified a few plants and trees, watched a few butterflies, observed some ant hills, spotted a giant spider in a web and saw simple and compound leaves.

 

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Nish found a dry dead leaf that only had its venation left (is that what it is called?).

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So, although the main attraction was closed we did actually manage to have a good time! And at the end of our walk we sat and had some nice ice-cream in the canteen (which was technically closed).  Quite a nice day all in all…but the next time we go there it will definitely not be on a thursday! 

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

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And we were! The holiday season has been so much fun that i did not even find the time to blog..which for someone like me means a lot! 

 So, in some earlier posts, I shared with you our christmas cards and then our yummy christmas cookies. 

 Before Christmas, we also discovered one more sooooper cooool thing! Home made body paint. I experimented with the ingredients to get the right texture….but it’s really quite simple…the stellar cast included cornflour (but of course), baby lotion and food color…yup! That is all that is needed…seriously! and it takes about 5 minutes to make. I cannot tell you the exact proportions of cornflour to lotion…roughly equal with the cornflour being a little more than the lotion. Like i said, i played around till i got a smooth spreadable yet not runny consistency. Then i added the food colors…picked nice bright greens and blues and orange and pink and then stripped the boys down to their underpants and we were ready to roll. Oh my God! It was SO much fun! Each of the boys had a different approach to it. Nish applied it carefully on his face …starting out slowly and then really getting into the groove and smearing it on more generously; Sid just painted himself like a Masai warrior and let out whoops of crazy joy while he was at it. Amu got his hands into it and put it wherever he could (including on himself). It was such a success that I repeated this the following day when we had friends with kids who had come over. All five boys had a blast. To quote Julia Donaldson from Cave Baby, “They rollicked and they frolicked”. 

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We ended the evening with some frozen colored ice that they took into the bath for a colorful end to a colorful evening! 

Delicious Cookies!

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Here’s a recipe I found online for the most scrumptious white chocolate cranberry cookies! Like most of the recipes i pick, this one is fairly simple, straightforward, uses easily available ingredients and turns out finger licking good! seriously! 

It smells super divine in the oven and i literally had the twins waiting in the kitchen and drooling as we pulled them out of the oven and let them cool on the rack. Sid could not wait long enough for it to cool completely so he grabbed himself a couple while they were still a little warm and gobbled them down so he could get two more! Nish was a little more civilized and took his in a bowl while the little one crawled all over with two cookies of his own! That, my friends, is the true test of whether something tastes good…really good. Because my very honest children will not think twice about telling me it is too sweet or not crunchy or really not nice at all! 

Sadly…no pictures…just a delicious smelling kitchen and full bellies! 

But here is a link to the recipe. 

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/White-Chocolate-and-Cranberry-Cookies/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

If you feel like baking and want something yum yet not complex…this is it! I baked 2 batches and gave a bunch to some friends as well as a christmas present! The current recipe makes slightly chewy cookies. For the boys i let it stay in 5 minutes longer and got them crunchy…for the remaining ones i stuck to the suggested baking time. You can play around with that piece based on what you like. Oh, and i am thinking that hazelnuts and white chocolate chips might be a delightful variation! 

 

Sunday Farmers’ Market

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We had been meaning to visit the Farmers’ Market for quite a while now…Finally made a trip there on Sunday. We went to the Famers’ Market in Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP – near Sion/ BKC). Took the twins along – both dressed in overalls s Sid’s insistence (since all the pictures we have seen of farmers in our book they are in overalls). Anyway, so Sid picked out his “bungadees” (dungarees) and then of course Nish promptly got out of his shorts and insisted on a pair of bungadees too. Then, all armed with their caps and crocs we picked up our shopping bags and set out. 

The nature park is simply stunning! We fell in love with it instantly. There were SO MANY butterflies all around us and we also saw some spiders and a cricket! The market was already set up and in full swing and we helped ourselves to a couple of cane baskets and started picking out the fruits and vegetables. The kids, of course, exhausted their curiosity about the vegetables pretty fast and decided to explore the setup. They checked out the different stalls, found themselves a spot under a tree to play, went and tasted fresh butter and generally moved around. We kept an eye on them but they seemed happy to play with each other and just enjoy the fresh green space. I caught Sid crushing some coriander stalks and sniffing vigorously at them (he probably saw somebody doing that!). And then they found a trampoline to bounce on and a man singing accompanied by a dholak which mesmerized them. 

And as soon as we got into the car, they wanted to sink their teeth into some fresh produce…so we gave them a fruit that was a like a small green apple like fruit that the farmer told us was a taiwanese apple! 

All in all they had a lovely time…never underestimate the joy and wonder that the simplest of things can bring!

We are planning to make another trip soon…not for the farmers’ market but just to explore the park. And we will definitely go to the farmers’ market again and again and again! The produce is fresh, is is completely environment friendly in its setup, and the money goes straight to the farmers instead of into the already well lined pockets of prosperous middlemen!

 

Goldfish Crackers …yummy recipe

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My boys have had goldfish crackers only once when my friend was visiting from New York and his daughter had brought them along to our house as a snack. The twins loved them and asked for them a few time but i never got down to buying them. Then, the other day as i was surfing the net for things that i could do with Dr. Seuss books, i came across them again as a suggested activity with the One Fish Two Fish book. Anyway, that got me thinking about the crackers and so I googled a recipe for the goldfish. Found a fairly simple one on http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2011/09/homemade-goldfish-crackers/ 

I decided to give it a try…i did not have any sharp cheddar at home so i used only regular Britannia natural cheddar. I also did not have a small goldfish mold and since we avoid buying soda, i had not tin cans that i could cut up to make a mold. Fortunately i found a fish in the playdough molds the kids had and made do with that…so the fish are bigger than the goldfish crackers. I followed the instructions pretty closely and had the boys help me with using the ‘cookie cutters’, as well as with the initial blending. The only thing i did differently was the amount of time i put them n for. While the recipe suggested 15 minutes i left them in for about 25 so they came out nice and crisp….and amazingly delicious. The boys took them right off the cooling rack and ate them! The loved the fact that it was shaped like a fish…and we used a toothpick to make eyes and a mouth. 

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Definitely going to make these again! They are almost over already. They don’t look as pretty as the actual crackers and are slightly brown since i left them in longer to get nice and crisp but they taste absolutely yum! if you prefer them chewy on the inside you can take them out sooner but my boys like the crunch!

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Catch That Crocodile! A stunning book!

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I found a super book at the Vakil’s Book Store at Prabhadevi a few days ago. It’s called Catch That Crocodile by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Pulak Biswas.  

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The twins generally love crocodiles (in stories and songs…we have had little success sighting them in the zoo). The book has bold and witty illustrations and the text almost works like illustrations too (will get to that shortly). The story is simple..a crocodile that has wandered into a village and is freaking everyone out…nothing and nobody seem to be able to counter or catch it. Each character that tries provides much entertainment to the reader…be it Probin the Policeman, Dr. Dutta or Bhayanak Singh the wrestler (the twins’ FAVORITE character in the story). The illustrations are lovely…they employ just 3 colors – black, white and green…and only the main characters have the green…all the others are just black and white. The text adds to the illustrations in addition to providing the story line. For example, “Falguni the fruitseller sells fresh fruits. Banana!, Guava!, Mango! she hoots. 

So the text grows bigger in font as her voice gets louder. I pointed this out to the boys as we read and they seemed to get it. They were yelling Banana, Guava! Mango! getting louder with each fruit. 

Or you have the next page where she says: Come and buy a fresh papayaaaaaaaaaaa!! The text is in a curved lime like the lilt of her voice might be.

There are many more of these along the story.

 

ImageAlso, this book is a fine example of the illustrations saying a lot more than what the words are…So the illustrations actively contribute to the telling of the story and a lot would be lost in the discussion without them. The book has a really nice message too and emphasizes how man and animals can coexist and one has to think of the animal too (the croc has a fairly scared looking expression in places…and it takes one little girl to come forward an acknowledge that he is scared and needs help getting back to wherever he came from – the river). 

 

My boys have been having a blast with the book. They are actually enjoying the clever positioning of text and the use of different font sizes …they have been retelling the story and enacting bits from it (with props that they keep coming up with) Sid was a very realistic Falguni the fruit seller as he strode into the room with his plastic fruit basket on his head. And Nish found his toy syringe to play at being Dr. Dutta. Amu was the obliging crocodile till Dr. Dutta’s pokes got a bit too real so he trotted off and i was made to lie down on the floor instead. And they both wanted to be Bhayanak Singh…so they stripped down to their undies for an authentic wrestler look! This is the first time they are actually enacting parts of a story with so much thought and it is great fun to watch. I like that they are thinking about props too as they do this. 

The book has been an absolute delight and i would suggest getting your hands on it if you haven’t already got it!  It is published by Tara Books, India. 

December…it’s holiday season

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…and nothing says merry christmas like some good old hand made cards! We’ve been working on ours this past week and having quite a blast..

I decided that i wanted to send out actual cards to folks this year and not just egreetings..at the same time i wanted to make sure that my paper greeting does not over damage the environment. So, we decided to work with what we had and use it creatively. We reused papers from Diwali greeting and wedding invites as well as whatever odds and ends and leftover colored papers I had. And we cut up the kids’ art work and used that to stick and make bright and happy cards for the family. Since we do painting a couple of times each week at least, we had a lot of material to work with! We used different styles to paint…we used palm prints and foot prints, finger prints and finger painting, painting with brushes and dot markers too. And some of the art work from school too!

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