Monday, January 30, 2012

Anjali's argument

I was mumbling some bedtime story to the children

"And then...", said Anjali.

"Enough Anjali", I said. "I am tired, the story is long and tomorrow is a school day"

"Mummy", she says, "Finish the story. You are always telling me that I should finish my work and you are not finishing the story"

You ought to be careful what to tell the children. I have always been telling Anjali that she doesnt sit at an activity. Scratch that, she doesnt sit at many activities. On Saturday, she spent about an hour doing a paint by number kit that husband had gotten for her. She has been known to spend half an hour or longer at hama activities and she spent almost an entire plane trip working on a scratch pad with rainbows on it. On Friday we sat together to work on homework and we were at it for abot 45 minutes.

I guess it is somewhat my expectations, that I expect the children to sit at fine motor activities, but Anjali sort of stope doing fine things when the novelty wears out. For instance, the hamabead work stopped after the first couple of cars and any beads that were subsequently done were not completed, but poured out half way. The same gotes for the sewing/ embroidery and knitting projects. I guess it is rather early for her, I didnt start doing embroiodery and stuff till seven or eight, and there is not much interesting about running stitch. Its only fun when you do chain stitches and the like.

I guess that the thing to do will be to offer the activities again and again.

Sophia has made good improvement in her letter identification. I have been using the sandpaper montessori letters that I made for Anjali and never used with her and she is getting good at sounds. I guess it is important to let the cchildren do things at their own time

Gymnastics, wounds, and white witches

Anjali fell off from the swing at home. It was her own fault. She was standing on the swing despite repeated warnings and fell off. She got a rather nasty bruise on her right hand. Husband tried putting a bandaid on it, but that didnt quite work, since Anjali only likes to raid husband's band aid box when the bruises are imagined.

We are seriously thinkng of giving her an outlet for the physical activities. I tried to hunt down TaeKwan do and gymnastics. However, the only gymnastic classes that we could find were at the turf city club. TaeKwan Do, which was offered at the SCS clashes prime time with patti's Shloka class - not that these kids sit in Shloka. They play and sometimes run off to other rooms in the house. But then, better to avoid timing clashes.

There are Aikido classes in the community club on Friday evenings and it is these lessons that husband and I are considering. We have been quite happy with her community club lessons, and Anjali is apparently making progress in her ballet. The catch: Aikido lessons are for children six years and up and Anjali is not yet six. However, her wrestling skills are very impressive and she can resort to using all her limbs to pin you down in a fight - trust me, I know.

Maybe what these kids need is a serious body using fight. I mean, how much can you play princess? I think princess playing is totally boring, atleast it is until you pop a couple of dragons into the picture.

Sophia has a new ambition. When she grows up, she wants to be a white witch, so that when she walks, roses will bloom at her feet and butterflies will flit around her and rabbits will jump up to her and eat carrots from her hands.

This is because husband and I have been reasing Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch and we were discussing the book. Ofcourse, the girls wanted the story and Sophia wants to be a white witch.

She has, atleast temporarily, stopped wanting to be a baby orangutan.

Gren living: continued

Since the people from Colex didnt turn up as promised on Friday, there was a bit of a bummer about what we were going to do with all the stuff to recycle. The recycling bins that were supposed to be there under our block were also not there, and the ones at patti's house, I think seldom get emptied. Atlease, each time we go there, they are full and they have lots of plastic bags around them.

I was half thinking of calling Colex again, but last Wednesday, I finally found a recyling bin, about five minute walk from acasa. The issue was thhat there was a need to sort the recyclables, which I began to do with the kids and finished after the girls went to school.

There, my first attempt at recycling waste. I know there is no need to make a big deal out of it - people recycle all the time, but it is a first timer for me. And now, we have three bins, (husband is very amused by it), two small ones for paper and plastic and a bigger one for cans. We dont use many cans, but I gathered that milk cartons are counted as cans.

Now the question to ask is whether it is possible to be truly zero waste. We have begun to store vegetable peels in the fridge for a week and then blend them together. Every Sunday, the plants get a vegetable peel treat. With the recycle routine in place, the only things that we will probably throw are the toxic stuff and the cooked food waste.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fairy shoes and Princess clothes

Anjali didnt wear her sandals to Yogyakarta. The reason was that they were horribly ratty and the plastic on top was peeling off to reveal some very shabby looking interior.

No matter what Anjali's faults are, she is a very fair kid, and understands that she got into this situation because she went for the fanciest not very sturdy shoes in the sop. So left wwith no proper shoes, she, very uncomplainedly, wore her (plain) school shoes to Yogya and didnt even complain much the day she had to wear them without socks.

As a result, and as a result of reading the creative family, I promised her that when we returned to Singapore, she could have two pairs of shoes, one sturdy pair for wearing outdoors and one very silly highheeled sparkly lousy for the feet pair to wear at home only when she wanted to play princess.

She tried to make true the bargain on Tuesday, which was the day after we had returned. But it was a real no go, since the shops were closed for Chinese new year.

So yesterday, after ballet, we went to the shops, just Anjali and me, to choose shoes.

Now see how fortune favors Anjali Curic. She found her sparkly shoes fast enough - high heeled with beads in the heels (dont even ask)

But no matter how hard I tried to look for study, durable sandals, they were all either too small or too big for her.

So we were heft to choose another princess sandal, which was durable, but was white and girlish and had Cinderella on the Velcro.

And so quite naturally Sophia threw a tantrum when we reached patti's house and she discovered that she didnt have Cinderella on her velcro. Her Cinderella on the velcro shoes were rather battered and one shoe was missing a ribbon and while she still wore them, we preferred to have her wear another pair of more presentable, but distinctly unprincessy shoes

No amount of pointing out teddy bears in her existing shoes would console her and I left patti's house just when thattha was starting to grumble that I should have bought Sophia too a pair of shoes (Sophia has some three pairs of shoes at home, excluding those that Anjali has grown out of)

And then when we got home, Anjali paraded around with the high heeled shoes that made clanking clopping sounds on the floor when she walked and gave me no end of worry that the people from downstairs will shout as they often do when we drop marbles on the floor.

And Sophia saw them

And while Anjali was nice about it and let Sophia parade a bit with her shoes, Sophia still wants her own princess shows and wouldnt wear her old shoes which have Cinderella on the velcro (to be fair, the ribbon is missing from one shoe although it is perfectly servicable)

"Why didnt you come with me to Bata?" I asked

I conveniently forgot to mention to Sophia that she stayed in patti's house basically because I didnt want to buy three more shoes for her to top off the shoes that she already has. I am running out of room in the house.

"Because I was tired", she says.

"Well, next time we go, remind me to get you a pair of shoes. ok?" I tell her

I am hoping that she wont hold me to it. But I will have to give the shoe shop entrance a wide berth for a few weeks.

Anjali asked me if she coould wear the lousy for the legs shoes in bed while I read her bedtime story.

I agreed, as the shoes were new and made her to promise not to wear them outside the house and even in the house, only for princess play.

She was hugging them when she slept and I took them off her hands and put them at the foot of them bed.

I tripped over them a couple of times in the morning, but the kid wore them first thing in the morning.

She has been having this high heeled shoe fantasy for about an year, so I guess it is time we indulged it. After all, i remember my own high heeled shoe fantasy and begging my parents for them.

I was, I think, around nine at that time and definitely not six

But then again, in those days, shoe shops usually stocked Hawaii Sandals and not shoes with princesses painted on them

How exactly does Cinderella feel about having kids stamp on her face all the time?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jogja moments

Here are some selected photos from our trip to Yogyakarta. We had a great time, and the kids learnt and experienced a lot. A slight negative, Sophia fell sick in the trip and had to stay back from school. Here are some of the highlights

 The animals in the Yogya bird market: Attention, if you are an animal lover of any kind, donot visit this place

The Ramayana ballet at Purawisata

 The mighty temple of Borobudur and the elephant ride
 The statues of Mendut
 Village tour by horsecart
 The colorful lake at Dieng Plateau
 Horse riding to the bubbling voilcano at Dieng
 Chilling out in the hotel
The amazing Moutn Merapi

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The girls helped me yesterday to paint a large cardboard box, which was constructed using two milk cartons joined together. It is officially the new recycle bin. I spoke with Colex and apaprently they do recycling collection every other Friday from our doorstep. Trying out this Friday for the first time.

The need to take off

Not counting the weekend at Bintan, we have not taken a real holiday since returning from Romania. And it has been even longer since we took a proper holiday which was not prepackaged or organized by others. I think the last one was Bali or perhaps the Bangkok trip, which was, of course the most adventurous. The Bali trip, while we had a say to the places we wanted to visit, still was not as much DIY as we would have wished. The Bangkok trip was over 5 years ago. Maybe the triip to Auckland would count in some senses... Anyway, a few proper DIY trips are in order
I have been poring over lonely planet guidebooks and the internet and trying to find hotels, sights, sounds and trying to get an over all sense of Yogyakarta. Am really looking forward to the trip. It will be different, since we have the kids... but we have been talking to them a fair bit.
Sophia is dissappointed that we are not going to see the orangutans. Dr Birute is still the unsung hero of her dreams. And her favorite game is still to ask me to be Dr Biyute and herself to be the baby Oyangutan. And her favorite wuestion is "When we go to see the Oyangutans, how many years I will be?"
But the volcanoes of Yogyakarta and the temples of Borobudur are bound to mesmerize and fascinate. The guidebook has been loaded into the kindle and I guess everything is in order. I have spoken to the girls about the bird market and Sophia wants to buy chickens (we are putting it on hold, but not the visit)
This is probably the first temple/ culture oriented holiday that the kids are taking, if we donot count the transylvanian trip that we did in Romania when Anjali was a year old. Husband is into nature, and we have tended to go for forest/ beach trips, landing ijn one place and exploring there for a few days has been the general norm of things.
There is going to be a significant amount of nature in this trip too - we are planning to cover Dieng and Merapi, so it should be an all rounded one.   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Its very easy to be out argued by your five year old

I was bouncing off husband the idea of going to Mustafa to see the money changer to change money for the trip to Yogyakarta.

Husbnad was not very keen on losing an hour on the detour to Mustafa, but Anjali overheard us.

"I want to go to Mustafa"

And then, much later

"I havent gone to Mustafa in so long. The last time I went to Mustafa was the time I got my thomas shoes, and now Sophia is wearing them. "

That kind of logic is quite hard to beat


She also makes an excellent food critic

"Mom", she says "you know the french fries that youo made for Sophia's birthday party?.. I think you should roast them some more. They tasted like potatoes and not like french fries"


And a great architect

"Mom. Ramya, Sophia and I will live in the pool. You just have to change our water everyday like daddy changes the guinea pigs cage"


To Ramya

"You know, my mummy can make french fries and cake. My daddy has just run down to buy ketchup, but my daddy can make ketchup"


To Ananya
"My daddy is a superhero you know, you want to see him making a fountain?"


I was grumbling on Saturday morning about the amount of effort that you need to put in organizing a birthday party. Making goody bags, and getting the games and stuff together.

And on Sunday morning, I was putting together the sandwiches when Sophia walks into the kitchen

"Mummy, you know I have two birthdays. "

"One is when I have the dyagon cake and one is when I have the gyuffalo cake"

And when the three year old remembers the dragon cake put together for her an year ago, I think it sort of makes the whole thing pretty worthwhile.

the resident animal lover's tips for taking care of guinea pigs

We are moonlighting ans doiong shows for National Geographic on animal loving. This is the next one, after william and Sara. Those paying attention may listen to someone going "daddy I am a baby oyangutan"

He has terrible tusks and terrible claws

The cake itself didnt quite satisfy husband's high standards of a light and fluffy cake. I should work on my sponge skills.

But the gruffalo is awesome and the girls had a great time decorating it with m&ms

Friday, January 13, 2012

In the woods goes the hunter

We have been doing a lot of interesting and fun projects yesterday evening and this morning. the girls have been asking me for a long time to make diaper snow and I thought that this would be the best time to do it, since in a few days we wont have diapers in our house any more.

Sophia enjoyed the craft and I packed up the snow into the freezer for them to try again. This morning it was all hard and it may be interesting to take it out again in the evening and see how the girls like cold snow.

This morning, husband took the girls to school on the bike, giving me a blissful half an hour more with them. We decorated the fairy wings from the princess movie, for those who didnt realize, the wings were made of a plastic hanger with old stockings wrapped around them. And the girls decorated them with stickers.

But the highlight of the whole thing was that Anjali began to finger knit, and she likes it. Well, actually it is finger crocheting, since all we are doing was to make chains, but I think it is an activity that she can sit at for a bit, if I sit with her. Thanks to Soule Mama's creative family book.

And then I taught her the song for it -

In the woods goes the hunter
Round the tree goes the dog
Out pops the rabbit and
Off they run!!

Anjali refused to let me cut off her string and said that she wants to con tinue it, so I held it with an icecream stick. Sophia also wanted to knit, and I gave her a ball of yarn. As was characteristic of her, she refused to let me teach her anything and just kept wrapping the yarn around the stick. Then I gave her a cardboard weaving board and she played with it a bit.

Maybe we will try felting this evening.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is it possible to have a green family life in Singapore

At home, I am fighting a constant battle against the dustbin. It gets full immediagtely after it has been emptied and in no time.

I am also fighting a constant battle against clutter. Somehow we end up with stuff in every cranny of the house. Ofcouorse, much of it has to do with the fact that I hate throwing. Notice that this contradicts with the previous comment on full dustbins, but life seems to be full of contradictions and what is one more.

So this year, I am taking a more proactive role towards organization and clutter and green living.

Project 1 - sort out all the old clothes cluttering my cupboard and the kids' cupboard. I dont touch husband's cupboard because he has an undue attachment to all his shirts, even those he never wears.


Project 2: Sort out clothes to be recycled and to be given away


Project 3: Make a rag rug

Working. I have so far incorporated into the rag rug a whole bunch of kids' clothes, a very ratty bedsheet that patti wanted to thrwo away and a number of jeans. photos will be up soon

Project 4. Reclaim the light bulb lab

Status: Working, I decided, inspired from the ultimate paper mache website to make a paper mache light bulb lab. It needs a lot of paper mache. Its still under progress, but the progress is good.

Project 5. Sort out the toys: Before I do this, I need to sign up to sg freecycle or something to give away the used toys.

Project 6. Set up a recycling bin at home to reduce the rubbish that goes to the landfill. Apparently there are recycling stations in the next block. I need to visit them with the children to toss the recyclable trash.

 Project 7: Already in place, collect vegetable peels weekly for composting. We have done this for the last three weeks and the plants are very gratefull. We collect vegetable and fruit peels and then puree them every Sunday. Then we use the mulch for the plants at their roots.

Some recycling took place when we converted the fountain into a water wall, much to the delight of Sophia. We turned out the light since Bunica called all worried about electric currents in water. 

Here is what the Oasis, as I like to call it looks like now. See the pink thing on top, its a small container with holes in it that make sure that the water from the pump flows down properly and not in a single gush. Husband recycled it from one of those long bubble blowers.

Rehearsal and shows

The girls put up a dramw yesterday, with princess and fairies. We do stuff like this quite often at home, but this time we made it into a movie with scripts rehearsal and stage. Ofcourse, the fairy/ narrator is a bit jumpy

The butterfly that came out of the cocoon

William and Sara

A little note to add. I realized that William and Sara from my post on Interview with William and Sara were the two white mice from the Witches. I asked Anjali if she had made the connected when she came up with the names, but she says that she said them because they sounded nice. Interesting example of unconscious priming

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


"I took my dyagon in my bag to school and showed it to evybody and they all said nice and he was flying around and ...."

Sophia has a new dragon for a pet. She keeps him in her pocket, sometimes he rides on her shoulders or head. He is sometimes pink, sometimes green, but sometimes he is red, especially when he is angry.

His name is wormy

He goes everywhere with her. Sometimes he wanders by himself but when she calls him, he always returns.

"All the princesses are the first to go to the bathroom", I announced

Sophia ran into the bathroom. Anjali, who was still stretching said "I am the princess"

"You are", I said, hastening to avoid difficulties and squabbling. "Sophia is the dragon princess"

"I am not a dyagon pincess!", siad Sophia, sitting cross legged in front of the bathroon and coming close to tears

"But you are!", i said. "You are the keeper of the dragons, like Dr Birute is the keeper of the Orangutans. And you take your dragon with you whereever you go"

"And there are dragons like Zog and the other dragon in the princess book who make excellent friends and the princess and dragon become friends"

I was kind of blathering as I took Sophia from the toilet and put her on the sink for the hated routine of the day.

"Then what will happen?" I asked, running out of ideas and breath

"And then they will get mayyied"

"A princess cant marry a dragon", I said

"I will marry a dragon!", Sophia announced

"You will? Then what kind of babies you will have? Half dragon, half princess? "


"Which part will be the dragon and which will be the princess?"

"hmmm... i will have one dyagon baby and one pincess baby"

"Ok. Now lets brush your teeth"

"No!!", she turns away

"Come on, dragons only like to marry princesses with sparkling teeth you know"

She smiles and takes the toothbrush, brushing a couple of times.

"Mummy", she says, handing me the toothbrush. "You are the queen and I am the pincess"

"You want me to brush your teeth?", i ask, hardly daring to believe my luck

"Yes", she says.

I brushed her teeth.

"Now I can marry a dyagon!", she says triumphantly

Well. Whatever works.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For the past month, husband has been working off and on on this Its a fountain/ waterfall. It is a rather rustic design, and makes excellent exploration, notice the floating wood and hama bead fishes that the girls popped in the minute the setting was installed. There is only one problem, it has a 5 cm splash zone. The solution, put a long vase in front of it with lots of plants. I am sure that as time goes by, we will have a lot of updates on this indoor fountain and water garden.

An interview with William and Sara

WE had been to the Omni theatre on New year's eve, and had watched Born to be Wild. It was a very inspiring omni movie of two women who worked hard to rescue baby elephants and orangutans, raisee them and return them to the wild. One of the woment is Dr Birute Gildakis who works with the Orangutans in Borneo. Her adventure haas so captures the children's imaginations.

Not a day goes by when they dont do something orangutan related. One evening, Sophia asked me to show her some orangutan pictures and then she gave this long speech

"Daddy! We will go in the Klotok and see the oyangutants and it will be so fun. We can sleep in the Klotoks and Anjali... do you want to sleep upstairs or downstairs in the klotok? ... Daddy... Anjali and you will sleep upstairs and mummy and I will sleep downstairs in the Klotok and we will see the oyangutans in Camp Leakey. That is where the oyangutans sleep when their mummys are died" **

** Copied to the best of my abilities. i tried to make her do it again for a video but it didnt work.

I got a travel book about Borneo and read up on how to go to Camp Leaky. I must admit that the idea has me hooked as well.

And here is a video of a favorite game that the girls like to play. In this William is a Keeper who takes care of Sara, the Orangutan. Something happened to the camera on the first bit of the video where William introduces himself and Sara.

The first ritual of the morning and I hate it

Two days ago, when I brushed Sophia's teeth (after a quarter of an hour of wheedling and needling), I noticed something brown stuck in her molars. Ofcourse, I tried to make her open her mouth properly, but she went something like

"Are you the dentist?"


"Then I wont open my mouth"


Husband managed to take care of it and the brown stuff by sticking a toothpick in her molar and pulling out something rather yucky and which would put you right off your food. We showed it to Sophia and you would think that it would change her mind about the toothbrushing business


"Some on Sophia", I say at 7 in the morning. "Time to brush your teeth and get ready for school"

"I am steching!", she says

"Fine, are you stretching your mouth?"

"No. I am steching my hands and legs"

"Right. Can you stretch your mouth?"


"I'll teach you. Say Aaaaaa"




We go on like this for about a minute and then I say, "right, now lets put the brush in your mouth."

"No! I am still steching"

"Sophia, your bus will bee here in twenty minutes. Why dont you come back from school and stech?"

I dress Anjali and send her to the living room. Husband conveniently chooses this time to take a shower.

"Fine", I say "I am about done with making you brush your teeth. I am going to count to five and then either you brush your teeth on the bed or I will brush your teeth in the bathroom"

"One... Two..."

"I want to bush my teeth by miself!!!!"

"Ok" I put the toothbrush next to her. "three... four..."

She makes no move towards the brush


I grab hold of her, pin her down and she yells as if someone is trying to strangle her. And I run the brush threw her teeth. Sometimes she bites the toothbrush for all its worth in her anger.

When Anjali went through a similar (but shorter) phase a couple of years ago, I used to use my fingers to scrub her teeth (its a lot easier to manipulate fingers than to manipulate the toothbrush when you are force brushing). But with Sophia I have a stronger love for my finger and more respect for her teeth. Both Anjali and I have had very bad experiences of bite marks in some very sensitive areas in our body

"The most difficult part of the day is done!", I announce to husband while rinsing the toothbrush, who finds it a good time to get our of the shower.

*DISCLAIMER* I must state at this juncture that husband usually has more success than I do in brushing Sophia's teeth. So on the days when he is actually not in the shower during the toothbrushing episode, he tends to spend a lot of time with her and somehow convinces her to actually brush her own teeth. Ofcourse, husband is rather more lenient on the quality of brushing than I am, and he counts it positive if the brush touches the tooth.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy advance birthday to Ananya

Swati wanted to make Ananya a video, but it didnt work out, anyway, here is the segment that the girls made. recorded during a taxi ride

A simple day out

What made for a simple and happy day out?

When we went out yesterday, we gave the girls choices. Sure, they were tired, sometimes grouchy, but they had choices, and that made all the difference. Here are some snapshots.

Sophia having a long awaited real ride in the car. I think the girls understand our less is more approach to toys. And I think that they dont really need too many as they often bore of toys and games which are store bought. On the other hand, I fill the house with rocks, stones, seashells, seeds, beads etc and since I also spend a significant portion of my times at home getting my hands dirty in terms of using recycled stuff, Anjali, atleast has more or less stopped asking us for toys.

But sometimes they are very impressed with something and you can see the longing in their eyes, and we let them have it. In this case it was a ride on this musical car.

A couple of weeks ago it was a car ride at Vivo city

"What was the best part of your day? " I asked Anjali when we were getting back. "Was it going to Art friend, the elephant parade or the Jacob Ballas garden?"

She thought a moment.

"It was holding Sophia's hand"

The elephant parade was good artistic fun. I learnt a lot and got motivated to do the paper mache sculpture of the elephant that I saw at ultimate paper mache and paint it like one of these. What a hige, emssy and fun project that would be?

They had miniature hand painted elephants on sale all they way from 5 cm elephants to ones under a meter long, and the 5cm elephants were about $50 and the 75cm one was selling at close to $4000. BHut they are beautiful. I am getting more and more tempted to sculpt that elephant.

Of course, no trip to Jacob Ballad is complete without the time at the water playground.

But for Anjali, tree climbing took the cake. We are rather dissappointed that there are no climbable trees in downstairs our block. There was a single tree that Anjali and Sophia could climb if husband gave them a boost, but it was not as vast as the trees in this garden. Should I write to Nparks?

Tree climbing is such a wholesome and imaginative activity that I am surprised that of the many trees that grow around our block, none of them have low, reachable branches. I suppose that it is so for safety, but is not a playground structure just as dangerous without supervision?

Pasta mania for dinner kind of capped it all up. It was a rather impromptu decision, and a well enjoyed one

We thought that the long and eventful day would make the girls sleep as soon as we returned, but no, they had to play princes and dragons with daddy.

Here is the prince fighting with the dragon (note the filthwizardry inspired newspaper sword)

And the princess egging him on. We threw costumes in for good measure

Friday, January 6, 2012

Watching Sophia play

We were at the center for New year's meditation. Last year, when the girls had been in for New year meditation, they were loud and fussy and husband had to take them out so that I could sit for a bit. This year, we tried to better the situation

I had taken for Anjali some workbooks for her to do while we sat, and Sophia had taken the pink worm. The pink worm is a cute, though not very robust toy that we saw in a mall demo and which I bought in a very uncharacteristic and christmassy mood. Anjali spent a couple of days with it and then dropped it. Sophia took it up after.

I gave her some crayons to work with, which Sophia did for a bit. Then she decided that a better thing to do was to play with her worm, which she did, using the worm the crayon box. It was nice to observe the worm is crawling through the box games that were contrived quite independently.


Sophia: When Dinosaurs were living, we were not living. Why?
Anjali: Mummy, can you tell me how adults make babies?

It is a little hard to juggle questions about the truths of life when they come in diverse forms simultaneously and when you are waiting in the busstop for the school bus

I have a one question at a time and a take turns policy and when I had answered Sophia's question she immediately had another one

Sophia: How did Dinosaurs die?
Anjali: They died because a volcano erupted and a tsunami came
Sophia: How does a volcano form?

I interrupted to answer Anjali's question and thank the heavens that the bus came before we could get into the details.

And simultaneously answered Sophia's question about volcanoes coming because of the fire under the earth.

I am sure there are more questions waiting for me.

We are halfway through Roald Dahl's witches and I am on the lookout for more chapter books, preferably those that I have read and enjoyed. Anjali found it very interesting that I have read witches atleast five times, and Harry Potter atleast ten times. After we had turned out the light, she said

"mummy, can you tell me the rest of the witches story from your head?"

"I cant do it as well as the book does", I told her. "Why not? You said you read the book five times?"

Its hard to think of witty responses at ten thirty on a weeknight.

I went to the school this morning to pay Anjali's school fees. The bus had dropped them before I reached, but I couldnt find Anjali on the K1 line. But then a voice called me

"Mummy! We are over here!"

And there the four of them were, Anjali, Sophia, Mikaela and her sister

"We are in N1", said Anjali and Mikaela elaborated "We are sitting here till the school starts, then we will go to our class"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thanks to Meenakshi for giving a very well appreciated present

Making icecream

We made icecream the traditional way - with a tupperware filled with milk, sugar and vanilla inside a big tin filled with ice and salt. We began by sitting in the lift lobby and rolling it around, but got a bit tired of it and it also got rather cold on the surface of the tin. It got even cooler when ice crystals started forming on the top surface of the tin.

Then we took the whole thing downstairs and rolled it down the slide a couple of times. I think that the whole contraption required more ice though, for after ten minutes, almost all the ice had melted and we were left with very think milk shake. The girls drank it all up, so no loss. Guess we will make it again sometime with more ice

Astute observations

Sophia makes some very astute observations.

Sophia: Why are you coming in the school bus mom?
Me: Because today is Anjali's first day to school and I want to know her teachehr
Sophia: But Anjali knows her teacher mom!
Me: Yes, but I want to meet her teacher
Sophia: Other children's parents are not coming in the bus mom!

Sophia is the first one to notice if I give her more attention than other parents give their kids. Anjali notices and welcomes the attention, but Sophia doesnt. Like the time in the Gita Jayanti when Swati and I went on stage for the finali, and the girl threw a tantrum asking me to go away right on stage. I dont know how many of you caught it on the video.

School day

Getting two girls up for school takes more than twice as much grit in some senses than getting one girl up for school. I gave myself fifteen minutes more, starting the morning routine at 6.45am, and taking a super short shower. But we still missed the bus on Tuesday morning and had to call the driver to take us to school.

Its even worse when breakfast preferences change in the last minute to something that requires mummy to cook - the preference this morning changed from noodles in the WC bowl to grilled cheese toast with mummy bread, which only I can make. (Dont get me started on Anjali and mummy bread, that will take all day)

And so when Anjali and Sophia went back to lie on bed this morning and didnt get up to brush her teeth and the clock showed 7.05, I lost my head a little and gave the kids one of my ultimatums

"Who ever is not up by the count of five will go to school just like this, without any uniform"

Sophia got up immediately, and Anjali dfidnt. I finished counting to five and the kid began to cry.

And then she went to the living room, and cooperated with everything, brushing her teeth, allowing me to brush her hair, and put on her uniform. And while I was busy with Sophia she says

"You are a witch"

"Right", I said. Then I softened a little "I am not really a witch", I said. "I am just extremely strict sometimes"

Some grilled cheese toast and half a Knuffle bunny story later, Anjali was feeling quite happy with the world and marched on to the busstop.

"So I am a witch?", I asked her

"Do you have claws?" she asked, looking. "Can you make a bubble with your saliva? I want to see if it is blue?"

I obiliged.

"It is white, so you are not a witch", she concluded

We are reading Roald Dahl's Witches. Sophia is extremely into the story, especially in the parts where the witches want to flush the children down the loos.

And both of them can identify witches very well and have taken the very serious resolution of not wanting to take sweets from strangers - even the Santy Claus in the mall makes no exceptions.

Now thats a very good thing, but where is trust in the picture? And Ekataa?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A highlight during the holidays

Shortly after Christmas, I took the girls to two rural areas. We may think that there are no rural areas in Singapore, but there are, and they are rural areas that are different from Kranji, which has been somewhat touristified. The first place we went to was the Animal resort in seletar. The zoo it is not, but a run down little farmhouse with ducks, crowned cranes guinea pigs, and horses. The animals were not quite as free range as I had hoped, the guineas, for instance, were in cages, but the girls had a good time looking around.

The ducks: you can feed them, and the family animal lover was very excited to see them. They eat right off your hands

The crown cranes and the geese

The rabbits and guinea pigs

The girls were a little disappointed that the rabbits and guineas were caged and they couldnt touch them except through the bars. Perhaps an open air hutch for rabbits like they have in Langkawi zoo would be really nice. Then the children coould climb in with the animals.

One minute we were in the middle of HDB blocks and the next we were in roads that were narrow and without pavements. So when it rained, we had a good time with the streams and puddles.

We then went to Khatib to Oh farms. We had some difficulty finding the farm, and after getting caught in the rain twice and taking shelter under some blocks and going the wrong way twice, wee managed to find the narrow leading to nowhere road which had no pavement that led to a number of farms. There, we found the Oh hydroponic farm and butterfly garden, which was rather a feast to our eyes. We also bought six caterpillars home, 4 for us and two for Ramya. We thought it would be an interesting Science project to watch them turn into butterflies. Three of the caterpillars died in a couple of days, but two days after we had bought them, the fourth caterpillar, which was hanging started wiggling like mad and became a coccoon. If you have never seen a caterpillar turn into a cocoon before, I strongly recommend it, its one of the most fascinating pieces of metamorphosis around.

We are hoping that Mr butterfly will not come out when the kids are in school, and are expecting him out earliest on Friday

A playtime craft

Sophia wanted a princess castle for Christmas.

Introducing the princesses

Rapunzel on her tower

See her long hair


Snowwhite, Jasmine and Beauty

Cinderella and the obligatory witch

Sophia wanted a witch when we made Rapunzel

All the dolls were made from wooden pegs, with yarn hair and the clothes from fabric scraps torn from the children's old clothes. Rapunzel is the fanciest, since I tore up some tulle from an old dress. Cincerlla could definitely be spruced up, but it will do for the moment. The castle was made from an old milk carton with kitchen roll towers.

Sophia, ofcourse, believes it is from Santy.

Sophia's first day at school

"This is the baby of mine", I sang, when Sophia asked me to carry her.

"Dont say she is not going to school!", said Sophia.

So the girl who has been pestering me about going to school since we registered her in April, and threw major tantrums is finally off to school. Anjali and I accompanied her this morning.

She has a new teacher, Ms Andrea, who is teaching for the first year. She was, apparently a student at Canossian convent herself. Talk about full circles.

Mikaela's sister and Gwen's brother were also joining N1, so I guess there is plenty of company

Sophia was sitting quietly until she got her hands on some blocks

Mostly about Anjali

I have not actively updated this blog for close to a month. There are several reasons for this, including an overload at work just prior to a scheduled two weeks leave. And one of my resolutions for this year is to go home as early as possible and to spend as much quality time as possible with the girls.

There are many things to record here, and it was a shock to me to see how much the girls were growing. Over the past couple of weeks at home, i have come to learn much about Anjali, which showed her morphing from a baby to a child.

There comes a time in the life of a parent when she realizes that her baby is not a baby anymore. Over the past two weeks I have come to realize that with Anjali. Here are some of the events that triggered this.

1. Transition to chapter books: I have been trying, time and again, to introduce Anjali to chapter books and she has never shown much interest, although she liked to hear and watch harry potter. But Harry Potter is so commercialized and the movies are se dumb, that I didnt want to encourage her love for the movies, although I used to tell her snippets from the book as conversation fillers. Then I started to tell the girls about the faraway tree and Anjali was very interested. She even began to make up lands and wanted to know more and when I read to her the faraway tree, she got through the whole book in about five sittings and now she asks for chapter books every evening and mostly at every meal. Sophia tries her best to sit and listen, but she still wants pictures in her books and finds the lack thereof quite disconceting

2. A sort of quietness. Anjali has always been quieter than Sophia but lately I find her getting more quieter. I know that her introvertedness comes from husband, and I am not quite sure if introvertedness is cause for concern. She is sociable enough, but still likes to keep her thoughts to herself. This seems to be a phase of her life when her character has gotten more defined. A high preference for sports, a much lower preference for crafts (imagine my disappointment as I like crafts so much), a very large love for animals (should we get a dog), including orangutans.

3. A sense of modesty, arising from wanting a towel at the pool, wanting to close the bathroom door when there are friends around

4. A sense of privacy, with her closing the toyroom door when she wants to play by herself.

5. Improved observation and arguments. She tends to argue more about things, especially stuff that I mentioned to her and says things like a Promise is a Promise. When she doesnt like a game, she moves back to observe (this sometimes causes me concern), and when she likes a game, she takes the lead.