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.
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!
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!
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!
Nish: Sid, are you my friend
Sid: yes..i am!
Nish: I am also your friend. Are you my best friend?
Sid: I already have a best friend
Nish: Please can you be my best friend?
Sid: But aai (mom) is my best friend already!
Nish: she is my best friend too!
At the end of a mad day where the three boys have driven me up the wall with their shrieks and screams and fights and tantrums…i still would not trade this in for anything!
Nish is quite scared of dogs…much to my chagrin and distress…he just is. He once had a stray knock him over and growl and bark and he steers clears of canines since. can’t really blame him. Over the last year, he has worked it out a little bit and so now he can manage being around dogs so long as they don’t lick him. he was brave enough to gingerly pet one last weekend too.
Anyway, with that little background in place, I guess I can move to the rather funny incident at a friend’s place over the weekend. i was there with the boys and while Amu was busy hugging and cuddling their super patient goldern retriever, Nish was bouncing safely elsewhere on a trampoline. My friend brought out some mosquito spray for the kids and I asked Nish to come to me and get some spray. “For what?” he yelled, as he bounced on the trampoline. “So you don’t get bitten” I replied as I put the repellent on him. A few minutes later, a rather happy looking Nish resumed bouncing on the trampoline. “Now Holly (the dog) can’t bite me!!” (the poor guy thought that i meant he wou;d not get bitten by the dog – obviously the more important thing weighing on his mind…who cares about bugs?!)
A little over a week ago, the twins started out at their new school. The first three days were exciting and the boys barely glanced back to say good bye after I dropped them off at the gate. But then this week things have changed. While Nish absolutely loves going to school and looks forward to each day there Sid is having a tough time with the separation from me. The last couple of months he has been home and principally hanging out with yours truly.
So each morning, as we round the corner for school, Sid starts whimpering, his lower lip and chin quivering, that he does not want to go to school. By the time i pull up outside the school gate, he is bawling quite loudly. He negotiates with me…if i go in, will you stay in school? Or, I will go in after 5 minutes. Let’s talk for 5 minutes more.
I feel sorry for him, yet i know that it is a matter of time before he settles in. He had a similar initial period in his earlier preschool and then he settled in beautifully. All the same i feel really sad when he looks like that. This evening he even tried to fabricate a tummy ache. “my stomach hurts, aai. I don’t feel very well. I don’t think i will be able to go to school tomorrow”.
I hope he settles down. Otherwise so fiercely independent, this is a side of his that is tough to understand and tough to see!
A great thing about being around nature is the stimulus it provides..it is like a natural crucible for enquiry! The other day we were playing in a park near home and the kids found some pods which had dropped from the tree in the garden. Naturally when one of them found a pod, the other two had to start searching for some too and in the process they found a lot of open ones which had no seeds in them. They would pick it up and look at it, shake it and declare…no noise from this one! I took the pod that Sid had found and explained that his made a rattling sound because it had a seed in it while the others had opened up and did not have seeds inside them to make sounds. Then Nish spotted a ‘seed’ on the ground. It was no longer dry and brown but had turned a translucent green and had a slender shoot coming out. sitting upon the loose soil we could even see part of the root. This got the boys quite excited and we did a little recap on seeds (we had planted some earlier) (https://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/our-own-little-plants/)
Then we saw a long pod with lots of seeds..that was almost musical to play with and listen to. Sid opened the pod lengthwise and declared it looked alike a snake. After we collected a few more “snakes” i talked to the boys about how the pods kept the seeds safe and protected till they were ready to come out. “Like a baby” said Sid. I was blown away by the metaphor. I had recently talked to them about babies and how mothers carried them inside till they were ready to be born and it was cool to see how that information had been processed and tucked away!
Anyway, when we came home i showed them an egg carton and told them how it was designed keeping things like pods seeds in mind so that the eggs are protected and do not break…
…Nothing is simply a walk in the woods!
I keep trying to think of interesting snacks for the boys …today i tried ‘frozen chocolate bananas’ (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Frozen-Chocolate-Bananas-240064). Really really simple and the kids enjoyed it quite a bit. And it was really healthy too as they ate a banana each with more relish than they normally do (which is quite a bit anyway). Basically took small “yellaki” bananas, put them onto a popsicle stick, and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. In the meanwhile i melted some chocolate chips with a little butter (the recipe calls for vegetable oil but i used butter), then dipped the bananas into the melted chocolate and put sprinkles on top before putting it back in the freezer for the chocolate to set.
The boys loved the novelty and enjoyed their “popsicles” in the veranda. Definitely a treat that i recommend!
This afternoon when I picked the boys up from school, I asked my standard question : So boys, how was your day?
Nish: very good…i played and i played and i played
Sid: It was good but i am really tired. I was so sleepy but i did not take a nap at all.
Sid: Because aunty did not give me a pillow or cushion or anything soft…just a mat to lie on. And i have to use my hands to put under my head. They are so very full of bones naa..it’s not at all comfortable. Why my hands are so skinny? Nish’s hands are nice for a pillow.
Yeah…once again, i had no response!