Friday, December 16, 2011

Neuroscience 101 and Princesses

Me: Anjali, why did you hit patti when you were fighting with her?   

Anjali: Mummy, My amygdala told my prefrontal cortex to hit patti


Two daya ago, I caught Sophia putting beads under the mattress. Apparently she was testing to see if she could sleep despite the beads and was wondering if she didnt, would a prince come to marry her?

Upon being told that she was too young to get married she now want to know if she could get married when she goes to school.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anjali's letter to Santa

Anjali wrote to Santa this morning

I had returned late from work yesterday and the girls had decorated half the Christmas tree and had left the upper half for when I got back. Anjali woke up, turned on the lights of the tree and seemed to realise that CHristmas was just around the corner.

Here is what she wrote. i got most of the spelling correct, I think

"From Anjali
Dear Santr
I want a paint chart

She put it in an envelope and we posted it

It has to be a magical paint chart. Will the crayola color with water ones be fine?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My first guest post

I hav a guest post up at STYYC: So you think you are crafty - a blog I have been following for about a year since I discovered a tutorial there fore making felt and velcro weekly schedule charts and adapted them for the girls. I have posted a tutorial on making a scratch book for the kids. Sophia still plays with her's though it is all mostly scratched out. I am contemplating making a couple more for the busy bags

Here is the tutorial

Friday, December 9, 2011

New story

"Mummy, we will thyow away our fake pyide yock", said Sophia, as we were riding on the bike

"You are done with the story? ", I asked, torn between relief, amusement and nostalgia

"Yes. I am dont with the stoie", she said gravely "We will do a new fake scene"

"What fake scene?", I asked

"We will doo a whole new world fake scene", she said. "That will be good. We will have a jasmine, and an aladdin and a Jafar"

"Right. Do you ant them to be on Pride Rock?"

"No. Pyide yock is for the lion king show. We must have a castle. Jasmine always lives in a castle"

"A castle"

"Yes. And we must have birds in the castle for Jasmine to set free, and some water for her to look into. What will we do for the water mummy?"

Now the gears in my head are turning

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Toothbrushing battles

Sophia starts school in January and there is one thing that I dread when it comes to sending her to school.

Can I send her to school without brushing her teeth?

I will promise on a lot of things that I will make sure that her teeth are brushed when she gets home.

I need to battle with Sophia for half an hour every morning to brush her teeth

A typical conversation goes like this

Me: Sophia, after you brush your teeth, you can feed the snails
Sophia makes a beeline to the snails and tags husband
Sophia: Daddy, I want to feed the snails
Me: Sophia, I said after you brush your teeth
Sophia: Daddy, can you open the door, I must get leaves from the gayden to feed the snails.

My choices are as follows: a. Stop the snail feeding and get her to brush her teeth or b. Let her brush her teeth after she feeds the snails.

Wimpy confront avoiding mother that i am, I choose the second option.

The snail feeding goes on for fifteen minutes.

Then the kid follows me to the bathroom

Sophia: Mummy, can I take a bath with you?
Me: You havent brushed your teeth yet
Sophia: Mummy, can you take off my dyess?
Me: Are you going to brush your teeth after taking a bath?
Sophia: Mummy, dont wash my hair okay? Wash onuly my body okay?

I have heard of selective attention, but I have never seen it manifest at this level

Another fifteen minutes

I lose patience.

Me: Sophia. Brush your teeth.
I settle on the bed and settle her with me
Sophia: I am climbing on you

Selective attention again

Me: Right, now about that teeth, if you dont brush, you cant have milo
Sophia: But I want milo now!
Me: Then brush your teeth now!
Sophia: But I am very very hungy!
Me: Well, if you had brushed your teeth five minutes ago, then you would have had Milo before you were vei vei hungy!

I get her brush. Sophia does a very elaborate circus of wanting to brush for herself and then getting toothpaste all over the mattress and my hair and everywhere else besides her teeth.

Then she grabs the toothbrush (sans toothpaste) and shoves it into her mouth for ten minutes.

"DONE!" she says

"Can I see your teeth?"


"There is a brown spot over there!"


"This corner"

She pushes her toothbrush into the corner and scrubs it a couple of times.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gita Jayanti competition

Sophia wants to go for the Gita Jayanti competition. Husband says that she can go if she says atleast three shlokas

"I will say in the competition", she says

"No, you must practice for the competition", i tell her. "Anjali practices everyday"

"Ok. I will pyactice" and she says three shlokas with some prompting.

But making Sophia learn is very different from making ANnjali learn. She is happy making her own songs and stories. She can, in principle, count to twenty, but doesnt want to.

When we make her count with her Dora books, she says

"I had enough of this counting! Tell me the story!"

"You are going to go to school and you need too learn to count"

"I will count when I am in school"

She had got all the attitude from the other side of the genes

We have guests! Updates on our snail farm

Yesterday evening was the perfect time to get snails! It had finished raining and we found s number of small to medium snails in the grass.

This is what our new house looks like. Its a two litre juice bottle where I had cut up a hole. The girls helped me to fill it up with soil and I used a transparentcy with holes punched in for air circulation and taped it up. Its a bit cumbersome to open the tape each time we want to put leaves, but the girls sure dont mind!

Husband suggested that we leave the window open during the day, but he didnt realize that snails could move so fast. One tried to climb out in a matter of seconds

One learns a lot by keeping snail farms. Like how the underside of a snail looks

And that it is the snail's foot and not the snail's bottom

And that snails eat leaves very fast.

And that snails can crawl upside down

And in Sophia's case, how to count

"We have two animals now! We have guinea pigs and snails!"

And the concept of time

"We will keep them for three months!"

And the concept of home and family

"They will have babies and then we will keep the babies"

and the concept of sizes

"Kitty Cox! you are so big and the snail is so small!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A rather overdue set of posts from the Make Believe exhibition

Simple, but inviting, thats what we would use to describe the Make Believe exhibition at the Science center's omni theatre





A head cold and a long day make for a grumpy mom

I was an ultra grumpy mother yesterday and even the smallest things that the kids did seemed to get on my nerves. First they were painting and Anjali had left one of her fat markers on the floor where the tip had gotten wet. I gave her a talking to and "punished" her by telling her that I would throw her favorite toy into the dustbin.

She didnt improve my mood when she said

"Sophia is my favorite toy. Throw Sophia!"

After some deliberation, we put the candyland near the dustbin to throw and then i figure sout that the marker was not completely spoilt and it you scribbles with it long enough, the ink came back. To be fair, I told the girls to take back the candy land, but Sophia, who had already been to investigate, had strewn all the cards on the floor, near the dustbin I told the girls to clean

"She did it, so she must clean", said Anjali.

Ofcouorse, that didnt help matters as I retorted

"And whose fault was it that the candyland ended up near the dustbin in the first place?"

Silence. She pointed at herself.

"So clean!"

And the girls spent a quarter of an hour, perhaps more sitting near the dustbin and sorting the cards. At the end of the quarter of an hour, a lot of sorting and unsorting had been accomplished and not a single card was in the box. When i enquired., Anjali said

"Sophia is messing up everything I do"

And Sophia said

"Anjali is not letting me do anything!!"

I dont know what the back story was, but at somepoint, Anjali threw down all here cards and the box saying

"I am not doing it anymore, she is always messing everything!"

I let it pass because I thought some effort had been made.

Then there was the matter of the living room floor which looked like a black swimming pool. I handed the girls two nappy cloths

Word of advice: Two girls with nappy cloths and a small pailfull of water is not going to make for a clean floor

Soon there was more dirty water on the floor than we had begun with although Anjali kept saying that

"We can see the white floor!!"

The floor simultaneously became a skating and slipping ground and Anjali began to run on the wet floor and slide down on her knees very fast.

I didnt want to make an effort, and I tried to join in, but was way too tired to do more than get my clothes full of paint as we rolled around in the floor.

When we were nearly done, the floor was whiter, but it was not the nappy cloths that did the cleaning. As Sophia so eloquently put it

"We are cleaning with our dyesses!!"

And then Sophia threw a tanrtum because I took away her dirty cloth and dumped her in the bath.

I had planned to take the girls snail hunting. We have 365 games toddlers play and one of the activiti9ies that interested me was to keep a smal farm. The container and the cover is ready, we are just missing the snails.

But with all the circus over the candy land cards and the painty swimming pool, it was bedtime before we could say Jack Robinson.

By that time, I was absolutely spent.

A quick story, milo and bed.

"I am sorry I was so tired this evening", I said, once the lights were off.

"Do you want me to tell you a story?", asked Sophia

"Do you want me to tell you a story?", asked Anjali

They told me stories, both of which were worth recording, but neither of which i recall the word of. The last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep was Sophia sitting near me on the bed and cradling my head in her arms.

The last thing I remember feeling was gratitude, which, all said was a nice way to end the day.

Ofcourse, I was woken up in an hour as Sophia had had an accident on the bed and had to be cleaned, but thats another story.

Our Julia Donaldson farm was one of the casualties in the paint play. Its cardboard was soggy and had to be sacrificed, but I had gotten this from work and it made for great play

Monday, November 28, 2011

Potter mania

"How do people become wizards mom?", asked Anjali, as we were waiting for a taxi to take us to the library.

"Well", i said. "You got to go to a magic school and then study there for seven years. Then you can become a wizard"

"What do you study in magic school? Where is the magic school?"

"Well, when you get to magic school, they sort you into houses"

"What houses?"

"Giffindor, hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin"

"Is there something wrong with Slytherin?", she asked

Husband, it transpires, has been showing the girls the harry potter movies in the afternoons sometimes. This is combined with that I got the philosopher's stone on the kindle and sometimes read the story to the girls.

"IN wizard school", I said, "the students dont learn reading and Math and stuff"

"No mummy. They learn about herbs and plants", piped in Sophia.

I hadnt known about the movies then, so I said

"Yes, she is right. They learn herbology..."

"And when the pull the plants up the plant ciyes!"

I stared quite blankly. Its been a while since I watched the second movie (though I have read the books about a hundred times each) I think that the movies exaggerate where they shouldnt and cut where they shouldnt. I never quite forgave them for cutting out nearly headless nick's deathday party, but for making all that hullabaloo with the train coming behind the car.

Maybe Sophia will stop the Simba Nala business and start the Harry Potter instead. I might nudge her a bit and make some wizard crafts


When we find water,

We naturally take the opportunity to get our feet wet

We follow it, even though it is not in our official road

We find hidden treasures and ruined boats

We investigate the moss on the rocks, feel the softness of it

We ignore the dry path that runs alongside and across, preferring the sensations of wetness over dryness against our feet

We explore the rocks, climbing over, finding our exactly how to put our feet and maintain oour balance so as not to slip.

The children often converge on water play options when outdoors. On Saturday, when we were at the playeum and it began to rain, they had these huge canvas sheets on the floors where water was collecting. It wade a wonderful opportunity for splashing in "cleaner" rain water puddles. I wish we had had a bit more time and we would have gotten some brushes for some paint with water time. Unfortunately, we were due to leave for Anjali's piano class.

Fancy Nancy: The show must go on

We got a new Fancy Nancy book out from the library. IN that book, Nancy makes a new friend and learns how to balance spoons on her nose. It was, ofcourse, a great opportunity to learn spoon balancing

We have no clue how she did it. Neither does she, it seems, as, when we aksed her to do it again for the photo, this is what we got

The game morphed later to fifteen minutes of spoon involved stuff - balancing balls on spoons, walking from room to room with a spoon in the mouth - you get the idea

Thursday, November 24, 2011

updates on small worlds

"These small worlds are really great!", said husband yesterday evening, as the girls were working on and adding to their What the ladybird heard farm. "They require so many skills and hone them"

We have been taking a fairly open approach with our small worlds. Patti mentioned yesterday that Sophia was at Pride Rock for half an hour yesterday afternoon, putting up a show, with Anjali and Patti as the audience. Given that Sophia's shows goes something like this, half an hour is not a lot of time.

Sophia: Simba and Nala, you must climb on pyide yock! All the animals must stay here! Meerkat must stay here! Warthog must stay here also. You know something happened when Simba and Nala was small?

Audience: What happened?

Sophia: What happened? We will discuss. Something happened when Simba and Nala were small. What happened?

Audience: What happened?

We go with this conversation in circles for half an hour without anyone really knowing what happened. I guess this kid should go into international negotiations. She'll drive everyone crazy into giving up.

The girls were working on the farm yesterday. Anjali is improving her scissors skills and works hard in cutting up characters along the lines. You should see her cutting of lanky len.

Again, it is interesting to see how the girls have different interests, and small world creation and play allows them capitalize on their interests. Anjali is interested in single processes - cutting, single media painting etc. She simply doesnt like to glue stuff, though she is good at it, but the process doesnt interest her. Sophia loves glueing. I guess there is something very satisfying about squeezing the whole pot of glue out onto the paper for sticking a small piece of flower on top.

For the farm world, Anjali cut out the shapes while Sophia works on farm decoration. Yesterday she glued pieces of yellow tissue all over the farm as a backdrop and the gluing was done extremely uniformly. No idea what they represent though. And she made this mixed media art where she took a few pieces of every single collage material that i had and glued it very deliberately on her art paper.

We are planning next to make a fairy land, including a teeth inspired castle for the tooth fairy. If anyone has any inspirations on how to get this done/ how mot to go overboard with it, please let me know. 

Learning with Anjali

there are three formal learning activities that I inisit that Anjali do everyday, reading, piano and Shloka. Added together these three activities take anywhere between half an hour to one hour. Sometimes, various challenges make the activities take longer than I would expect them to take.

During lesson time, Sophia's presence proves to be a distraction. To help with this, and to ensure that both kids have a fair time, and because he thinks thatb I criticize too much, husband takes the piano lessons while I take the reading and Shloka. Yesterday was Sophia's first time doing tot school with me when Anjali was having piano and I discovered the challenges that one would have to face while doing schoolwork with Sophia.

"Who likes ponds?"


"Can you color the tortoise yellow?"

"No. Wwant to coloy pink!"

I let her.

When it was Anjali's time to read, we shut ourselves up in patti's room and husband worked with Sophia. They both came looking for us after about a quarter of an hour , with husband saying

"I have a moral duty to inform her future husband (god bless him) that she never listens"

Anjali makes good progress with her reading. She reads her passages and sounds very well, but has trouble with words. But that could simply be because words are a little boring to read on themselves. She is more interested in words that have more context with her surroundings, and each time she reads a word, she tries to put a sentence to it. The problem comes when she makes errors like sayingg

"Lets fill up the bottles" when the word she is reading is "feel"

But I guess thats part of the learning phase

During Shloka time, the girls both took a book from the altar bookshelf (neither book was about the Bagavad Gita) and began to follow the shlokas with their fingers. So I have promised to give them both a book with Gita verses printted nicely for them to read. BEgan work on it this morning, but need to find illustrations

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pretend play with small worlds: What the ladybird heard

Once upon a farm lived a fat red hen
A duck in a pond and a goose in a pen

So begins one of our favorite stories by Julia Donaldson - "What the ladybird heard"

Julia Donaldson's best known book is the gruffalo, a story which we have read many times until the kids are totally bored of it (and I could recite it in my sleep)

But I prefer her works with Lydia Monks much more. We have borrowed What the ladybird heard multiple times from the library and this time, I went over with the girls on the farm map the actual plan and how the animals tricked the thieves. This is the first time that the girls really appreciated the cunningness and the humor of the story. So after the success of Pride rock, we decided to build a farm model heavily inspired (read plagiarized) from the book.

First I drew out (read copied) all the animal pictures from the book. Then Anjali helped me to color them. She colored the cow green. Then we recycled an old shoe box into a farmhouse which the girls helped me to paint. That. incidentally, was the painting activity from the 30 days thingy.

Anjali helped me to cut out some animals and I cut the rest out yesterday morning when the girls were sleeping. I filed the whole thing away for the day and the girls apparently thought that i had thrown the animals away and gave husband a very hard time about it when I was at work.

This morning, we set up our first prototype. We will be continuing work on this over the next few days, but this is what happened.

"Anjali forgot to color the sheep", said Sophia, who had woken up early. So we put cotton on it and made the wooly sheep

This is the duck pond, which Sophia colored green

A pretty little farmhouse with the animals in the background and Noah from the Fisher Price Ark acting out the role of the farmer

I went to take a shower and Sophia realized something, so she came after me.

"Mummy, there are two thieves in the story", she said.

By that time, Anjali had woken up and husband and Anjali worked together on hefty Hugh and Lanky Len

Anjali's scissor skills have improved tremendously and I admit that husband's drawing skills are better than mine

"We need a panda car!" exclaims my three year old. I got an old milk carton which she helped me paint black. It is currently drying. I promised to help her fit wheels and make it into a panda car to throe the thieves in

Monday, November 21, 2011

Playing with the girls and how hands on play has changed my views of how to play with the children

I had being going on a bit of a play rut. The children were somehow growing to a stage where development happened so imperceptibly and yet so overwhelmingly that it was difficult to get it on paper. This was illustrated by the reduction in prolificity of my writing. Things were also happening at work which suggested change and increased responsibilities, responsibilities involving two feet long to do lists and responsibilities that I am still coming into terms with.

One of the hands on challenges, last Friday's I think, was cooking with your kids. The girls and I often putter around the kitchen together, making cakes, cookies (like the batch of heart shaped ginger cookies that we made for Anjali's school farewell). I didnt want to make another sweet thing, I have been having a bit of battle with my weight and have taken a soft decision to lay off juices and desserts. So the best thing to do was to make pizza.

Anjali had had a coupon to redeem from the girls' good deeds coupon box. They get about one coupon a day, on the average, which they could redeem anytime, . Anjali wanted to redeem her walk with nature coupon for a trip to the nature park. So, Friday evening, we cycled over to the park and played in the sand pit. And instead of taking the usual hands off, give instruction approach that i usually took, I decided to get in the pit and put my fingers in the sand, digging trenches for Anjali to pour water into and making little castles with Sophia to house her fairies. There is a little brook just across the sand pit, which makes a good source of water, to wash legs and sandy hands and also as water source to add spice and channels to sand play.

We biked past the market to get cheese for pizza.

On Saturday morning, Anjali woke up early and helped to do the following for the pizza. Saturday is one of those days where we have a deficit of vegetables and I tend to fish out stuff from the bottom of the fridge for lunch. The only thing that was left and was pizza friendly was the pack of cherry tomatoes. Anjali, who likes to cut vegetables, doens like to cut tomatoes in general and cherry tomatoes in specific, because cherry tomatoes are "rond, small and roll away". To top it off, they squirt juice on her as she cuts them.

It was a great opportunity to sit with her and work out the nuances of cutting the tomatoes. I showed her a couple and then let her to work while I let the sauce bubble and put the dough in the bread maker. Soon, we had, not only cut cherry tomatoes, but also a load of tomato seeds which Anjali cheerfully declared that she would plant.

It is important, I think, so facilitate creative ideas as thye crop up. So we cut up an old juice bottle and took it to the garden, filled it with earth and compost. Then the girls dug holes and spooned seeds inside them to cover up. We have had some luck with tomato plants so far, even though none have fruited, so I am somewhat optimistic about the plants that Anjali has come up with.

By that time Sophia was up and she also helped with the planting, and then we washed up and had breakfast. The dough was ready when the breakfast was done, and the girls helped me to spread the dough in the baking pan. Anjali used her hands to spread the tomato sauce on the dough and bboth girls helped in the spreadin of the cherry tomato and cheese topping. The pizza was ready for the oven and we went to the Make believe exhibition at the Science center.

Its amazing to see how many parents are taking up the initiative for developing exploration centered activities and exhibitions for kids. I have written extensively about the playeum and how much the children and I enjoy working with them. The girls had a nice time at the make believe exhibition where the order of the day was exploration. I believe that Anjali enjoyed most the construction station where the children had giant foam blocks for building. The thing was the these blocks were resistant enough for the children to climb on their constructions. Anjali's creation morphed from what was originally a tower of rectangles to some fairly complicated structure as she figured out that she needed to add supporting structures to her tower. I wish I had a camera, but I had left the phone at home.

We had pizza for lunch, the same one that we made at home, at a grassy spot in the Science center gardens.