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.