Friday, June 14, 2013

Introducing the super star - Ani!!

It's finally time to introduce the new super star in our life - Ani to this blog.  He turned one year old on the 7th of June this year.

I've done such a bad job at recording his milestones on this blog - so here's a quick quick update.  Ani was very quick to roll onto his tummy - he started doing this from the first week of September itself, when he was less than 3 months old.  He would try to move around for quite some time after that.. by dragging his tummy on the floor but it didn't work.  So he started crawling and learning to sit up in the first week of January - when he was almost 7 months old.  He was quick to stand up after that as well as move while holding onto something but he's not quite got the hang of standing or walking independently yet.

He speaks through signs as well as words, well the first sylabbles of most words.  He calls his thaa-thaa, his -kka for akka, says aaaah for cow, tak-tak for horse, baper for diaper, chis for chips, thitheth for biscuit, paa-paa for babies, appa and the like.  He said Pu-pa once for Pushpa, his grandmother's name but has not deigned to repeat it again.  He also says c-ock for clock and aaaay for the obvious ;-) He asks for thi-tha (water) and his favourite toy ba (ball).  He has a very expressive face and seems to be saying a lot of stories to you even when most of what he's saying is gibberish.  He can very clearly communicate his needs and wants.

I'll finish by putting up the image we created for his first birthday party invite.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The sketch pens story

We are now moving from animals to stories with colors - the colors become the protoganists - We have Orangey and Yellowey - you get the drift.  I thought I would not update these stories anymore but I decided to record this one since my daughter loved it so much she actually narrated it back to me this morning.

So this is a story of sketch pens that got lost:

There was once a lovely sketch pens set that lived together in a sketch pen case on the top of a bookshelf in a girl's home.  Orangey and Reddy and Yellowey and Purply - all the colors were friends and lived happily together.  They had lots of fun with the little girl that owned them, drew lots of pretty pictures and always, always stayed together.  

One day, the little girl decided to take them to a friend's house to play.  And after playing the friend decided to keep two sketch pens back for himself.  The little girl did not notice and she packed away the case and came back home.  Once the sketch pens got back home, they realized that Orangey and Reddy were missing!! Oh no!! What would they do now?

They decided to go get the other two back.  Whitey was not sure about this because it was so scary and they were only sketch pens - how would they fetch the other two back?  But Bluey and Greenie were confident and they hatched a plan to bring back Orangey and Reddy.

The sketch pens bookshelf was near a window and they could see a crow on branch of the tree nearby.  They called out to the crow, and asked if he could give them a ride.  The crow said, yes he could and the two sketch pens hopped on.  They flew on his back to the boy's home.  After some initial panic at not finding Orangey and Reddy, they finally found the two of them, cuddled up together and crying, near the TV.  Orangey and Reddy were so happy to see their friends, they got on top of the crow as well and went happily home.  The sketch pens thanked the crow for helping them and promised him a colorful Vadai next time instead of the regular boring brown vada.  The crow went away beaming.  The sketch pens then settled back into their case cosily and slept.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Made these today :

They were yummy and addictive.  The cookies spread a lot, so I got a lot of shapeless cookies - R suggested that we make them in cupcake moulds instead and we got perfectly round ones when we tried that.  I'm so jealous I did't think of that idea first and he has been gloating that it takes a natural master chef to have these ideas.  Hmph!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Of chocolate fudge and kulfi

We decided to take a break yesterday from all the tiring art and craft - my words not my daughters.  I had a packet of Nestle's kulfi mix from some time back and I knew it was really easy to make kulfi with that.  So we decided to make kulfi using the blue moulds that Samyuktha loves.

When I went through the instructions to make the kulfi, I realized that I was going to need a whole half litre of boiled and cooled milk.  I was yet to boil the milk - so I realized Sammu was going to need entertainment while that happened.  I also had a tin of Milkmaid, so we decided to make Chocolate Fudge as per the instructions on the pack as well as kulfi.

Sammu mixed all the ingredients for the fudge, milkmaid and cocoa powder and sugar and butter and maida - wow, one whole set of healthy ingredients ;-) before we put the heat on.  Then I took over the stirring.  It took just a few minutes of stirring for us to get to the 'ball' stage as it is called.  We poured the mixture into a greased plate to cool so we could cut them into the neat squares shown on the pack.  But I realized we were not going to get a hard set 'cake'.  This was going to be a soft set, more like chocolate halwa.  No problem, we were already licking the parts we could get - we shared the spoon and the whisk for leftovers as well.  And then came the turn of the kulfi.

By this time, the milk was all boiled and cooled.  I allowed Sammu to cut open the mix - she even stirred the powder into the milk and made an even mixture.  We were meant to bring this mixture to a boil and then cool and pour it into moulds.  But by this time, my son lost his patience.  :-)  Sammu completed the activity with her father.

Now the pista kulfi waits for me at home as does Sammu.  She wants me to buy icecream sticks on the way back home today so she can put them into the kulfi and pull it out of the mould.

Today I think we will make regular paper boats - you know - the kappal and kathi kappal from our childhood.  As well as cut out triangles and boat shaped color papers and stick them on chart for a more interesting activity - like this:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The competitive brinjals

There was once a tiny brinjal plant.  With the love and care of it's farmer, it began to grow.  And there were soon two brinjals hanging from it.  Tiny vegetables they were but very feisty and quarrelsome.  They kept competing with one another to see who would be bigger, who would be purple-ier and who would be fatter. And so it went on.  Until one day, they were two huge purple brinjals hanging off the plant.

Along came a gentle breeze and the two heavy brinjals fell on the ground with a whoooomp!  A little boy came running out of the house to see the two fall.  Oh no, he said.  Now i won't be able to stuff you and make ennai kathirikai... kathirikai chutney it will have to be.  So instead of being whole and stuffed, the brinjals were sauteed and made into chutney!!  How they wished they need not have grown so big and fat... they could have retained their shape and become enna kathirikai instead!!

Update: Gundu parrot :-)

And so we made the origami fish and the tissue paper butterflies. There was a lots of fighting on who got to paint with the new poster colours, the watercolors and the size of the butterflies.  But the best of all was yet to come with the parrot.

We made the paper plate parrot and the plate was maybe a little bigger than ArtsyCraftsy mom intended them to be.  No matter, I asked Sammu to paint the round plate green for the body, a red triangle for the beak, a tail shaped piece for of course the tail.... ;-)

When we finally pasted the parrot together - I did this because Sammu was sleepy by that time and I could not wait to see how the parrot would look with all parts together - we had a pleasurably plump parrot... or so i thought.

My daughter walked into the room in a tantrummy mood to see what I was doing.. Cha.. what a gundu chatti parrot, she said and the parrot flew across to the other side of the room.  I of course gave her a lecture on how she should not throw things around in anger, blah blah blah etc.. but secretly I could not stop laughing.. It was a gundu chatti parrot indeed!

Here is the pic - what do you think?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rambling away

When you start to write often, it becomes somewhat addictive.  The more you write, the more you have to say.  It also works the other way around.  The less you write, the lesser you find you have to say.

I've been fighting with the urge to write about a few things lately and then decided to just give in and make these updates.

On the Sunday last, I went for a meet with the other moms from my daughters' nursery school.  It was fun and not what i expected at all.  About 8 other mothers were there, all of us had decided to meet without kids so as to give each other the opportunity to bond socially rather than be known as 'kid a's mom', 'kid r's mom' etc.  We introduced ourselves and i found out rather anti-climatically that most of the other mothers at the meet were stay-at-home-moms or moms who worked out of the home only part time.

Whew.. :-) it's become so difficult to be politically correct when it comes to talking about moms.  When someone asked how many of them were working, one of them wryly pointed out that all of them were working moms - some worked outside the home and were paid for it while others worked at home.  And when some of them mentioned that they were full-time moms, i felt like asking, was i a half time mom ?  Just because i work away from home 10 hours in a day?  Mothering is a full time job even when you are way from home.  But of course i get what they meant.

We had a good time, we played a couple of games - Dumb Charades and 'What's the good word'.  It helped ease some of the social awkwardness we all felt and broke the ice quite a bit.  I ended up feeling happy i had gone and returned home, feeling happy for myself as well as my daughter, for having made the effort to go.

One of the moms also worked from home full time for a IT services company and it struck a chord with me - should i have looked for such options after my kids?  Hmmmm.. still thinking along those lines.

The next thing that i wanted to write about was this superb dinner we had on Monday night - inspired by this:

One hot stove is an awesome blog, full of yummy recipes and the vibrant spirit of the author - Nupur.
She's the mother of a very young child, she works full time, cooks and bakes with great enthusiasm as well as finds the time to pursue her other passions in crochet, quilting etc.  She is a true inspiration.

The yummy sauce from the pasta had Sammu and me licking the pan clean :-)

And in the last update, yesterday was Sammu's last day in Pre-K.G.  It was the day we collected her progress card as well and it was such a happy, incredible moment to know my daughter was moving up to L.K.G.  Around this time last year, I had serious doubts on whether she would ever adapt to school.  I was quite sure that we would end up homeschooling her.

Now I look back and wonder on how much of the difficulty she faced at adjusting to play school was caused due to her age, due to being weaned at around that time or due to the teacher at her play school.  I've decided that all the credit to her problems at the school should go to her teacher - she was just not the right fit for us. Really, we looked around at so many schools before we chose her play school and still ended up making a mistake.  Forget the fancy toys, forget the surroundings, forget the fancy talk that the 'director' of the school makes to you.  It really does not matter how much English they speak, how they speak it.  What matters for such young children is whether the teachers are empathetic, kind and firm.  Trust your instinct in these things, it speaks the truth.

I've lined up a stream of projects for us to do every day during her summer holidays.. mostly I am very unispired to do art or crafts.  I was not one of those kids that was happy in art or craft class at school.  I did it only because i did not have a choice.  But with my daughter, it's different.  I truly love making things with her, whether they turn out well or not and we have a great time together.

Here is the list I have for this week:
1. Origami fish

2. Paper plate parrots

3. Tissue paper butterflies

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Lazy Fox and the Busy Ants

Have you noticed how much we stereotype the animal world?  Foxes are always cunning, ants are busy and hard working, owls are wise and the monkeys and cats are smart?  I think we just like to slot people and animals into categories, it makes it easy for us to deal with things that way, than treat each thing individually.

I've always wondered about saving up for a rainy day, whether it really works, because deep within me i sometimes feel, we kind of will a rainy day into reality when we save up for it.  When we don't save up and live for the moment, the rainy day never comes.

My story this time was kind of a tangent from both these lines of thoughts..

There was once a fox who lived in a cave near an ant-hill.  Every day when he went by to hunt and eat something, he would see the row of ants, patiently walking one after the other.  They would keep carrying bits of food to their home.  It amused him to watch them, always in a straight line, never thinking beyond the person in front of them.  

One day, an ant decided to talk to him.  He asked the fox, why do you keep looking at us and smiling?  Do you not have any other work to do?  The fox told the ant that it wondered why they saved up so much food, instead of eating that day and enjoying the meal at the moment.  The ant looked at the fox strangely, why, we are saving up for a rainy day, of course!!! When it rains, we will not be able to gather food, so we gather it now and store it away so we will not need it later.  The fox thought this was ridiculous.  What rainy day, rainy days are so far away, enjoy the sun now and play while you can, he thought to himself.  But he did not say anything and let the little ant go on his way home.  

Time passed and it soon became the cold season.  The ants huddled up in their ant-hill and ate through their stores.  They were lean and little and they could not take the cold.  The fox continued on his way and ate whatever prey he could find.  When it became colder still, he simply cuddled up in his cave and slept through the cold.  Days and nights he slept and woke up to a warm spring day.

I'm not sure why i finished the story this way, except that i did not want it to go the usual route.  I did not want the smug ants to go to the fox and say, see this is why we have saved up our food.  We all deal with our rainy days in different ways.  Those who live in a lean and spare manner must save up their food for a rainy day, because they can't live without it.  And those like the fox can simply afford to sleep through their rainy days.  Different things work for different people.

As always, excuse any bad science in the story.

The Rainbow and the Grey Parrot

There was once a parrot that was very grey.  She was always sad and depressed because she loved colors but there were none on her small body.  Her feathers and wings were grey as was her beak.  Her friends came in all different colors, her best friend was a vibrant green parrot and he had a bright red beak too!  Her sister was a bright yellow parrot and she had streaks of blue feathers.  Just looking at them would make her feel sad.  She kept wondering what she could do.  She decided to ask her friend, the monkey.

The monkey thought for a while before he replied.  And then he said, I've got it.  I know what you need to do to become more colorful.  Just wait for a rainbow to rise and fly through it.  The rainbow has so many colors - I'm sure you will be more colorful when you come out on the other side.  

The parrot decided that the monkey was right.  She kept waiting for the right day.  She need a bright sunny but rainy day - a very rare kind of day indeed.  And then one day, it happened.  She woke up to a beautiful day but still a day with the promise of rain.  She waited on a branch of the tree at the edge of the river and saw a beautiful rainbow come up across the river.  She flew in one side of the rainbow and came out on the other.  She didn't feel any different, so she peeped into the reflection shown in the river to be sure and there she was - a riot of colors, yellow, purple, orange, green and blue.  A multi-colored parrot indeed.

I realize the story seems to not have any morals, nor any real plot.  But it's only for a 3 year old and told at bedtime, when i need stories to be as short and happy as can be :-) So I'm going to leave this be.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Yellow Tiger and the Brown Owl

So this is the third story from last night.  As a prelude, I have to add, we are big on colours in our family.  Where before the hubby was wont to refer to all colors in the off-white, beige, brown spectrum as 'chocolate' colour, he now knows the differences between peach, orange, purple, violet even turquoise and aquamarine :-).  Hence the all important colours in my story's title.  You should also note that all children that appear in any of these stories are either 3 or 4 years old.  They cannot be any older than that because that would make them older than Sammu!  All protoganists are also female, unless otherwise specified.  So we have female Ramus and Somus as well as female Pooh bears in our stories.  On we go to the story.

There was once a tiger that lived on the banks of the Ganga river.  The tiger lived in the beautiful floating mangrove forests.  Where there was land, he walked, where there was water, he swam.  He was a beautiful animal, strong and fierce, with yellow and black stripes.  (I thought I was being poetic and lyrical in describing the tiger and the forests, but my daughter said I should stop with the description because all tigers look this way :-) ).  This tiger was friends with a brown owl.  Together they hunted at night and slept during the day.  One day, the owl told the tiger that he needed to go away on a trip with his parents.  He was going north up the river, he said and he would be back in some time. 

On his return, the owl told the tiger a fantastic tale - he claimed that he had seen a White tiger!  The tiger was very disbelieving and sarcastic.  You are trying to fool me, he said.  Oh no, I really saw a white tiger, said the owl.  The tiger decided to call his bluff.  Let's go together, he said.  We will take the same route that you did on your trip and we will see if we can find this white tiger.  So they decided to go that very night.  

They followed the river and went north for many days.  Long days and nights they travelled until they reached cold regions.  The river was an icy blue and it was very cold.  The yellow tiger was desperately thirsty but the water was so cold.  He didn't want to drink it.  Finally, thirst overcame discomfort and he decided to walk down to the river and drink the water.  He lapped the water from the river thirstily and was lost in his thoughts.  Suddenly he heard a loud roar, he looked up and saw to his shock - a tiger on the opposite side!! And it was white!!!!  He could not believe it.  He called to the owl, who was sleeping in the shadows among the trees.  Little Owl, look here, we have found the white tiger you saw!!!  And Owl could not stop smirking and laughing, I told you so, he said.  Yellow Tiger had to accept that the Owl was right.  

Ok, let's go back now, said Little Owl.  I miss Home.  And they decided to go back home again.
On the way back, they saw a White Owl (like Hedwig from HP :-) ) But that is a story for another day.

The Elephant's Tusks

Yesterday was a tough night - I thought I might get away easy when she said the story had to be about a lion, a tiger and an elephant.  I could make one up with all three animals and finish for the day.  But no, things are never that easy.  She decided that she wanted a story each for each animal.

I began with the lion and then moved on to the elephant.  But I don't want to write those stories here - I couldn't think of one good enough to tell her.  I just fumbled through about a lion trying to find it's mate and ended with they lived happily ever after :-). The elephant's story is a little more interesting.

There were once two elephants that lived in a jungle - Ramu and Somu.  Ramu was the taller of the two elephants and he had giant tusks.  Somu was a little smaller but also had fine tusks.  The two were good friends and spent all their time walking through the jungle, talking about a lot of stories, eating good food and generally having fun.

One day, Ramu had left Somu in a clearing and gone to drink water from a stream nearby.  On his return he saw a terrible sight - Somu had got caught by a hunter who gave it some medicine to make it sleep and pulled out it's tusks.  Ramu was very angry to see this.  He decided to follow the hunter and get the tusks back.  He walked behind him for a long distance until the hunter reached his village.  The hunter left the tusks in his home and went away on some work. 

There was a child near the hunter's home - about three or four years old.  Ramu made friends with the child and told him of what the hunter had done.  The child agreed to help Ramu get the tusks from the hunter.  They managed to get the tusks from the hunter's home and the child travelled back with Ramu to the jungle to get the tusks back to Somu.  Once there, they found Somu awake but crying because his tusks were missing.  Ramu produced the tusks and Somu was very happy - only, nobody knew what to do with the tasks.  How would they fix them up again?  At this point, I suggested that maybe they could glue the tusks back up with Fevicol.  Use a big bucket of fevicol and glue them back, I said.  Sammu looked at me with a little contempt - fevicol does not stick tusks, she declared. So we made Ramu and the child try to stick the tusks but fail.  And then, we found that elephants tusks grow back again... :-) Just like lizards' tails do... !!!  

So Ramu and Somu were happy and they played happily with the child and all was well again!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A tale of many tales

I've recently started telling my daughter stories at bedtime again - I thought that I would post the stories I tell her every day.  These are not completely original or completely 'inspired'.  They are a mix and match of both - some stories with morals, some that end abruptly, some well known stories that are toned down to suit her because she has an overactive imagination and I don't want to add to that just before she sleeps.

Yesterday I told her the story of the young deer who was very found of his antlers. Here it is:

There was once a deer who loved his antlers.  He loved them so much he was always gazing at them in the forest pond.  He kept admiring them, the way there were so tall and big and strong and how beautiful they made him look.  He caught sight of his legs in the forest pond and thought to himself - 'How ugly my feet are, how thin - they look like sticks.  And so it went on every day.  

Suddenly one day - there was a hunter in the woods.  He had caught sight of the many deer in the forest.  He decided to catch one.  He ran after our young deer.  The deer ran but suddenly could not move.  It looked up to see that it's beautiful antlers were caught in the low hanging branches of the tree above.  It could not move.  And the hunter was coming closer every minute.  The deer tried with all it's strength to break free and just as the hunter appeared in the clearing it was caught in, it broke free.  The hunter chased after it but the deer was too fast for him and it got away.

A little while later, the deer stood at the edge of the forest pond again - now he resented the antlers which he had always thought beautiful, instead he realized his legs were the most beautiful for they carried him fast and far way from danger.

Note:  This tale was told to me by my grandfather as an example of how we should accept all parts of ourselves etc... my daughter felt the antlers could still be more useful than the legs to the deer - she felt the deer should have rammed the hunter with its huge antlers instead of attempting to run away.  Aggression comes early these days ;-)

I also told her about the story of a snake that ran over a garden of greens.  Excuse the mistakes in my farming story - I know next to nothing about farming and am completely city bread.

There was once a girl who grew greens (keerai) in her garden.  She grew all variety of greens, molla keerai, pasala keerai, agathu keerai, vendhaya keerai, sombhu keerai, dill keerai (that's all the variety i know ;-)).
Every week she used to cut bunches of her keerai from her garden and pack them in a wet sack and take them to the market for selling.  

One week, a snake came into her garden and ran all over the greens.  It then went back to its home near the garden.  That week, the girl followed her usual practice and collected the greens from the garden and took them to the market.  A young mother and her daughter came to the market that day and bought the keerai from her.  They had it for lunch that day with some dal. The mother offered the daughter a first bite of the rice and keerai/dal mixture.  The daughter took a mouthful only to spit it out immediately saying that it was bitter.  The mother took a bite herself and found it bitter too... They then kept the keerai away and had a different lunch.  The next week, at the market, they told the keerai-girl angrily that the keerai from last week was very bitter and that it probably had been poisonous.  The keerai-girl burst into tears at their complaints because she had done nothing different - she decided to meet her grandmother and find out what could be wrong.  

Her grandmother knew exactly what the problem had been - she asked the granddaughter to check the garden for evidence of a snake.  The keerai girl went home and checked her garden.  She promptly found the snake's home.  The grandmother suggested that the keerai girl pour some milk inside the snake's hole.  The grand daughter did as instructed and after that day, she never had troubles from the snake again.

Notes:  This story is inspired by the snake gourd we bought from a vegetable vendor one day who claimed to sell 'thotathu kai'.  We cooked the gourd and it was so bitter - we threw it away.  I then heard that some vegetables taste bitter when a poisonous snake runs around them.  I don't know if it's true or not but it seemed very interesting and has stuck in my head since then.  About pouring milk on the snake's home - this is just tamil-movie inspired and I don't know if snakes even drink milk in reality.