Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The adaptation of pretending

I am reading Gorillas in the mist. As I often talk about the books/ series I read at home, the children are familiar with the content of many of my books, atleast in some general terms.

I told the children about the first contact between Dian Fossey and the Gorilla Peanuts. Sophia clambered up on top of me

"I am a baby gorilla!", she exclaimed.

"I thought that two months ago, you were a baby orangutan?", I said.

"When you are something else, i am something else", she said. "When I am a baby oyangutan, you are doctoi Biyute. "

Art adventures

(Re) introducing our art wall. Last December, when I was at home, I took down all the paintings that were on the wall - We had been putting and switching paintings on the wall for the past three years and for the first time, I took down all of them - the starting to get mouldy milk painting of Sophia's feet, the first multidimensional painting that Anjali made of what might have been a squirrel. The wall looked so strange and everytime we turned out from the kitchen, we felt as if we were going to bang into a door. Now, three months later, this is what our art wall looks like.

Here is an introduction to some of my favorite pieces

These are Anjali's works - a paint by number kit and a scratch pad, both from art friend

Collages are Sophia's foarte and she loves to glue stuff around. The first is a collage made of hama beads and glitter glue. The second is a random collage made out of several kitchen grains and stuff I fouond around the house in a desperate moment to keep her entertained while I was cooking dinner. The result - a mess and a masterpiece. The third was a collage that she put together out of old Christmas wrapping paper.

Sophia generally likes doing non 2 dimensional art. The top circle was part of a set of slotted discs that I made for the girls. Sophia look the scrap fabric and glued it on one of the discs. The butterfly is donw with watercolors.

The Thing sticking at an odd 3D angle, looking very patriotic is a paper fan made and colored by Anjali using Kitchen glue.

Anjali's art is usually more 2 dimensional, and often very self generated. Here are some samples.

Spirograph, painting... On some occassions, she asks us to draw her a picture that she then colors. The first coloring is of Simba and Nala. When I commented on the colors, she made a reference to the blue horse.

The picture at the bottom is apparently a self portrait by Patti.

Sometimes we experiment with new art materials and media, often inspired from the internet.

 Melted crayon art
 We had a fun evening when we put old crayons against a candle flame until they melted and used them for coloring.
 Contact paper collage with construction paper strips and pressed flowers
 Marble rolling painting.
A first attempt at Batik

Anjali and Sophia's first output of the embroidery hoop

Some alien Dora and boots (sand art kit from shop n save)

This is another self generated art activity where the girls last night grabbed a face towel (new) and drew on them with markers and glitter glue.

Monday, March 19, 2012

At Smart kids Asia

We actually went to smart kids Asia yesterday. Let me see, what can i pass verdict on first or should I even pass verdict on anything?

We avoided most of the places that were selling programs in the city, and the girls hoodwinked us, as did most of the children there, into buying coupons for merry go round rides. Where are those one dollar rides and games that used to go around? All the rides cost five dollars!

There was climb Asia's wall climbing. We had done the bouldering before, but Anjali was really interested in the climbing. Sophia tried the climbing too, but she was mostly hoisted by the rope. We will probably take them over on a regular basis, especially since the climbing center is close to the center

I remember having shaking legs when i tried a similar climbing in secondary school.

The girls spent a disproportionate time at a station with moon sand (where do they come up with these names) and a montessori kindergarten with homemade playdough (Why does my playdough end up too moist and theirs doesnt?)

And they attended a Science activity involving shampoo making (purple ofcourse)


I wanted to get a oatmeal mask yesterday morning but Anjali woke up before I had time to do the mask. So I invited her to join in the spa with a towel on the floor.

The bathroom was full of oatmeal when we had finished up, but it made a nice sensory activity for Anjali to remove oatmeal from her face and I guess it makes a nice facial to boot.

here is the recipe, I winged the amounts

rolled oats
combination of water and milk (not much, just enough to cover the oats)

Microwave the two together and add a dash of lemon juice to the mixture.

Put on face, stay still for ten minutes and wash

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dress up box for the children

This was originally planned as a potential craft for the So you think you are crafty contest that I had signed up. But since I am about five votes short of being ousted from the contest, it looks like I wont be taking part after all.

Anyway, here is what I have been doing for the girls.

I had a huge pile of felt that i had bought sometime after Sophia was born. I use the felt off and on to make things, like the schedule chart and some soft teacher sticks to replace the wooden ones. This is my most ambitious project so far for them

Princess crowns: and ofcourse, i have to make two since Sophia also wanted one.

 They are made of two layers of felt, with the panels sewn together (by hand and it took about four hours and made me seriously consider buying a sewing machine). Much of the decorations were put together with what we had at home, the heart jewel had fallen off an old and broken costume jewellery kit and many of the beads were retrieved from old dresses.
 Anjali wore her crown for her piano concert
 Here is Sophia and I think her crown makes her look more like a pixie. She was a bit upset because her favorite color (purple) was not included in the crown. But I didnt have purple felt, though I stocked up on it when wee went to Daiso.

That pink fabric underneath is actually a skirt. This was upcycled from the Radha Madhava concert duppattas. I still have to try it out.

And these are the fairy wands, made with felt, stuffed with pieces of sponge and decorated with glitter. 
 Coming up - masks, fairy wings, princess hats and....

Climbing and the importance of practice

There is a playgrouond near the community club with a lot of jungle gym like structures for climbing. That is one thing that the playground near our house doesnt have.

I understand that husband sneaks the girls there for half an hour every Monday after ballet class and I got a full demonstration of the effect of the sessions.

Anjali is great at this stuff. The swings, climbs, crawls, scrambles, calculates and leaves all of us in the dust.

Sophia, though far behind her sister in the climbing, wants to catch up, asking us to give her a leg boost whereever possible.

Now, if only there were gymnastics lessons anywhere in the community or the civil service clubs.

"Its like playing piano", Anjali says knowledgably. "I am good at it because I practice every week. "

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


When i began this blog, i intended for it to be a record of the way Anjali grows. This was mostly because she was growing entirely too fast and I found myself forgetting some of the various phases in her life - like how her ears kept getting folded when she turned over and stuff. Then i got rather swayed by all those homeschooling stuff that goes around the web and part of the blog became a documentation of my non work life - the books I read, the crafts I do, the activities and lessons that we do with the kids, the places we visit and ofcourse also stories of how the children grow.

Talking about stories, here is one that happened last Saturday

Anjali: Mummy, Sophia wants to stay overnight at Ramya's house

Me: But you have to go early in the morning for IEP at Jacob Ballas garden

Anjali goes to confer

Anjali: Mummy, Ramya is also coming to Jacob Ballas garden

Me: Really?

Anjali: Yes. So can Sophia go?

Me: I dont see any problem

Anjali walks back and Sophia toddles over

Sophia: Mummy, mummy, can I sleep in Yamya's house today?

Me: I thought you want to go swimming and daddy is coming with all the swimming stuff

Sophia: Mummy mummy, I will go to Yamya's house and then go swimming

Me: We'll discuss it later, first pay attention to the Shloka class

Sophia toddles away

The class finishes and the girls are at it again.

Anjali: Mom! Can we go to Ramya's house?

Me: Yes. I have spoken with you dad

Anjali: Mom! Can we stay overnight at Ramya;s house?

I must admit that i was a bit surprised at this, since last time, Anjali didnt want to stay overnight and returned with me, while Sophia slept in Ramya's house.

Me: Are you sure?

Anjali:; Yes

So the girls stayed overnight in Ramya's house and returned home on Sunday afternoon.

Sophia reminds me of Vishnu of the old days, always looking to see where the next party is.

Growing with love

Anjali wanted to take her kick scooter to the Jurong Library on Thursday. She rode it all the way to a flight of stairs. I expected her to ask me or husband to carry the scooter for her up the stairs. but as I caught up with her, she calmly got off the kickscooter, lifted the contraption and patiently hauled it up the stairs.

There is so much that is involved in the development of a child. There is the development of the body, the mind, the emotions, the soul - oftentimes, we focus much on mental development and chuck the child into Kumon and what not and I ask myself - how does the child learn to carry a heavy scooter up a rather long flight of steps?

We were taking pictures for Anjali's passport and she decided to go into play mode. The photos that I took ended up like these

When i finally finished taking something that looked reasonable, Sophia wanted her photos taken ("I will stand vei still and not move and not do any money business!")

And I took this
 And Anjali jumped into the foray with herr monkeying and the next photo that i took ended up like this
Whereupon I scolded Anjali and she burst into tears and husband came along saying "Why are you scolding her unnecessarily over a photo that you dont need to take?"

Some time later, I found Anjali on the bed, grumbling

"Naughty Mummy!"

I sat next to her.

"I would like to play with you. How can I play with you?"

"My love cup is empty!", she said, sniffling.

And then there was the hug and kiss and make up routine.

I wish it were as simple to deal with husband when he sulks.

It has made me realize that as children grow, their feelings get more complex. Scolding or disciplining Sophia when she refuses to brush her teeth is a simple problem, no matter how many times I rant in the blog about it. She cries blue murder for three minutes and then hugs and all is peaceful again. I remember days in the past when Anjali used to be the same. But then growing comes in, and scolding takes on new dimensions to the child and new questions to the parent.

What do you do when you are intending to do something serious, and have a bad headache at the back of your head due to work and the kid wants to monkey around? Do you:

1. Shelf the serious project and monkey with the kid
2. Explain to the child the seriousness of the project and hope she will cooperate
3. Let her monkey around for a while and hope that she will tire of the monkeying and then reapproach the serious project again
4. Scold the child

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sophia's stage show

Our first home movie

Script and action: Sophia and Mummy Curic.
Camera: Anjali Curic
Guest Appearance: Daddy.

Anjali's level 3 piano concert

Well, there is that, Anjali is officially in level 4 of beginner's piano, the last step before she can choose to go for graded lessons. When Anjali gets through that step - in 20 weeks, Sophia will be ready to go in for the class.

"Gwen goes for Chinese lessons", Anjali says to me. "So her Chinese is very good. Can I also go for Chinese lessons?"

We had encountered Gwen a couple of times in the community club on our way back from Monday Ballet. Husband is seriously considering putting her in, but who will follow up at home? I ask myself.

"You will not be in the same class as Gwen", I tell her, thinking that perhaps she just wanted to go to the class to hang out with her friend.

"Never mind", she says. "I can make new friends there"

Here are some videos from the concert.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recycling spoptlight: the importance of brushing teeth

Here is an activity that has been rather shamelessly adapted from a lot of blogs

The real objective: To have fun.
The desired objective: To learn about brushing

Here is Sophia squeezing some toothpaste into an old toothbrush
And here are her teeth
These are better views of the teeth and ofcourse Sophia kept saying "Open Aaaa do like a cyocodile"
It is also important to brush corners and between the teeth

How to: I cut up an egg carton and put liquid soap over it with a brush. This helps adhere paint on to the plastic surface (all the hydrophobic and hydrophilic stuff. i never do the laundry, but the science helps in the making of crafts)

On top of the liquid soap, I applied a coat of black paint. This is supposed to represent food particles and bacteria, so there is no need to make the paint uniform. infact, the more ugly it is, the better - makes an impression.

I gave the girls some old toothpaste and two of their own toothbrushes, and a bowl of water.

Learning opportunities: While they were brushing - it took a surprisingly long time to brush with the brushes, I pointed out how the surface of their teeth was not smooth but had a lot of grooves and craks like the egg cartons. Sometimies the dirt got stuck in the holes and you had to brush extra carefully. 

There was also some fine motor involved in squeezing the toothpaste onto the toothbrush. It was new for Sophia atleast, since I usually put the paste on for her. 

I guess (hope) that underneath it all a lesson on the importance of brushing went in, but even if it didnt, it was an interesting and fun opportunity to do the reverse of painting.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Saturday morning at home

As weekends are the only real time that i get with the girls, I try to make it couont and do stuff that we usually wouldnt do on weekdays. Saturday mornings are especially important - Saturday afternoon, we whisk the girls off for piano and shopping, and shloka class and swimming and before you know it, the day is done. Sunday there is often the walk or IEP and only half a day of play is there. Often much of it is spent sleeping or in logistics. Here are a few snippets from last Saturday. Pancakes are the typical Saturday morning breakfast and the girls help me to mix, add, measure and cook atleast a few pancakes. Husband often complains that I make too little -the batch I make often had about 6-7 pancakes. Last Valentine's day, I made a slightly different from normal pancake by using this heart mold, shaped from Aluminium foil. I was quite surprised as to how nicely it came out. Anjali suggested we do it again this time, and here are the pictures
Painting with nailpolish. It was Anjali's idea to paint this toy dressing table with Nailpolish. Look at all that concentration
Side walk chalk art. This picture was taken after the girls had done the art and were somewhat in the process of cleaning it up. They figured out, during the last time we took the sidewalk chalk down to the playground, that adding water to the chalk makes for far more vibrant colors. And they are at it a lot these days. Let me tell you that the floor of the house if perpetually always wet and the girls spend more time on Saturday morning in the bathroom than anywhere else in the house.
About the bathroom thing, husband asked the girls why we needed to go to the swimming pool when all the girls did was to stay in the bathroom. Anjali's response was "There is no drain in the swimming pool" And here was a hit activity. I gave the girls free rein over the scrap fabric bag that I am using for the floor rug, along with a wire rack from the oven. Anjali is very much into knotting and she immediately jumped in to knot the fabrics. I am wondering if I should invest in some nice ribbon or raffia for these purposes instead of clipping the sash fabrics from old dresses. At some point Sophia jumped in to do knotting as well, but Sophia cant knot, so she has been doing a lot of weaving. The activity was a lot more successful than the loom that I made with a cereal box, which the kids lost interest after a couple of weaves. I guess that a tailored activity has only a bit of scope - you can only weave and it uses only one skill, whereas, an activity like this you can do many things, knot, weave, pretend that the fabric is the ocean, sharks, snakes, boats, islands etc, as is what happened during the activity.
For the record and in my ongoing defence of handmade home made toys, Sohia had received a small embossing kit for her birthday which I took out to keep her occupied while Anjali was doing the knotting - I didnt anticipate Sophia to do knotting. But it turned out that after a couple of punches with the embossing kit, both girls left it to play with scrap fabric. I also noticed that the major attraction of the embossing kit was that it was shiny and plasticy and new, while my wire rack has the dirt of centuries on it. But to be fair to the kit, it is intended to be part of a larger activity - probably, emboss your greeting cards while painting them, or something like that, and it would probably have success as part of color, cut and paste evening
This is the final product. Isnt it pretty? These were combined with a good dose of unphotographed activity - we baked raisin oatmeal cookies, and the girls licked the batter pot. We drew a copious amount of the floor with temporary markers, We did some improvements to our cardboard doll house and moved Dora and Maestera Beatriz indoors... The girls are also helping me to prepare for the STYYC contest and gave me suggestions about their crowns etc. But more on that in due time. Anjali has a favorite activity these days, even more favorite than the sidewalk chalk mess and it is this
While it is very helpful to do this after a nice round of painting where the floor is splattered with color, I lost my head at her when she put her nightgown on the bathroom floor and mopped all over it.