Friday, June 24, 2011

Of simple everyday dreams...

Once upon a time there was a lady. She had 2 children aged 3 and 1. She was so tired from entertaining them, caring for them, taking them for their bathroom visits, making them wash their hands, giving them baths, dressing them up, cleaning up after them, feeding them their meals and the list went on and on and on. She felt she was so incompetent, the house was always a mess, she found it hard to find the time for cooking the meals. Even when she took them to the park, one of them cried either because of hunger, or tiredness or just because. They were so young and hungry and tired so often. And they had to be watched all the time lest they run into a swinging child or too close to a big slide. And the mom looked at other moms around the park sitting on benches and chatting or reading a book or enjoying a cup of coffee and dreamed that one day, she'll be them. When she'll still watch the children for sure, but not be as worried

about their safety. Where they'll play with each other like friends do, run and laugh and push each other on swings and sit on opposite sides of the see saw, where they'll make new park friends as they play along and run and laugh some more and she'll not have to be the one doing all that, not because she didn't want to but because her tired limbs and nerves deserved a little relaxing. And then she'll be able to justify to herself that having two children so close apart was indeed a good idea :) The dream has finally come true!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

National Geographic Bee 2011

We watched the National Geographic Bee last night. I had watched the teaser for it on Saturday by divine intervention and set a reminder on my phone to watch it. I say divine intervention because it really has to be that for me to watch a program. I watch like 10 minutes of TV in like a week or more and even if I make a mental note of something I want to watch, I forget. But this one I wanted to watch for two reasons, one that when I was growing up, I used to be a sucker for all those quiz shows hosted by Siddharth Basu . I think he must have been my first crush. And second because Vansh is so interested in maps and countries these days. I thought he would be pretty impressed. Also because he was highly impressed when the last season of KBC aired last year and used to carry out his own version with all family members and visitors, complete with the galat jawab and lock kiya jaye.

As expected it was a hit. All those 10-13 year olds were walking talking googles. Yeah I mean, how can any one know without googling, a 10 year old one on top of that, which is the city which is a state capital and is reached by going north east from the gulf of Peru or the city in which Hilary Clinton went for a meeting on discussing world peace. I and Ashwini watched in disbelief as the little kids gave one right answer after another, our jaw dropped all the time and Vansh who sat with an Atlas at the beginning of the program because he wanted to answer some of the questions never got to open it because it moved so fast.
So after the show, he wanted me to host a similar version with him and Jiya and so we came up with a few questions like

In which city is the Taj Mahal located? Agra
In which city is Bradenburg Gate? Berlin (since we recently read about that in our Around the World project)
In which country would you say ¿Cómo está? for How are you? Mexico or Spain

and he added some more to ask Jiya himself.

(Image courtesy: National Geographic)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer 2011 Writing Journal Jun 12th - Jun 19th

Jun 12th - Shedd Aquarium

Jun 12th was a free Shedd Aquarium Day which is otherwise almost like $25 or so per person. After having grown up and stayed in Delhi, we obviously don't mind the crowds that brings. In fact there are times when I crave them. Honestly! So thats where we were on the day. A pretty good day. The high points were the simple fact that we went there with the kids' latest best friend Soham, just being with whom brings them utter delight.

Playing in the make believe submarine and peeking through periscopes and manning the numerous controls.

And pretending to be penguins after watching their first 4D show on Happy Feet. It was a gleeful experience for Jiya as expected with the snow and bubbles falling on her and thankfully not as scary as I had expected it to be for Vansh. We managed to catch the Dora and Diego 4D show as well and that was more lively for the kids and more visual and experiential too. The kids actually bent forwards to pick up the bananas and remotes floating around.

Jun 17th - Chicago Botanic Garden

I love Arboretums and Botanic Gardens for the stretch after stretch after stretch of greenery they offer. Its a feast to the senses in such beautiful ways. The high points of this trip were an event Model Railroad Garden which is on right now. One can walk through the outdoor exhibition and pass by familiar miniature American landmarks. All while mini trains criss cross across on tracks past the landmarks. There are mini waterfalls, bridges, old country homes, mini landscapes. We had not seen something like

this before so it was thrilling and beautiful. The kids absolutely loved the mini trains of so many varieties going over bridges, through tunnels, the faithful geyser at Yellow Stone, the volcano at Mt Helens.

And the ultimate icing on the cake was just when we were heading out, Vansh eyed the long tram which tours around the Botanic Garden with such longing that the elderly gentleman who was driving it back to the parking lot asked him to hop on for a ride. And then let him sit on his own driver's seat and pretend to drive it. He was d.e.l.i.g.h.t.e.d. and told the driver that he wanted to be him when he grows up :)

Jun 18th - Dot and Ziggy

Vansh and Jiya watched their first play ever at Victoria Biograph Theater in downtown Chicago. Titled Dot and Ziggy, it was about a ladybug and a skunk who are friends but naturally very different form each other. Initially they fight a lot with each other but eventually learn to share encouraged by a spider to do that every time they fight. Though intended for kids upto 4 years of age, even Vansh enjoyed it a lot. Both the characters were really sweet, sang and danced and ran around the room where the kids and parents were sitting on different colored carpets. In between, the kids were also asked to dance to some songs and interact. I don't have pictures from the show because photography was not allowed but there's a really cute video available online. And another good thing was that I won the tickets in a giveaway which were otherwise $18 each :)

Foster Ave Beach

After the play, we headed to a beach at Lake Michigan just a few miles away and were joined by friends. Needless to say, a lot of fun was had.

Jun 20th - Library

Our local library, by itself, is a wonderful place. I was a huge huge fan of the local library when we were in Minnesota. This one tops that too. Starting from 2 weeks back, there is a Summer Reading program on where the kids get a reading log when they register and as they read and move along, they keep getting little prizes for motivation. The kids after having reached the 16th book level got a toy each. Vansh picked up a small T-Rex and Jiya picked up a wrist band. There's also a new craft each week. Last week, it was a Father's day card they had to color and decorate. This week they made an ice-cream magnet. Also they have a new game of the week every week where the kids have to go around the library and look for clues and then put their entries in for a lucky draw. We have not been lucky so far :)
Vansh likes to play a map game on the computer where he clicks on countries he is familiar with and read about them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer 2011 Writing Journal

Vansh got a Summer 2011 Writing Journal at the end of his Kindergarten last week. He has to write a couple of sentences, the more often the better, and draw a picture for each entry. To make up for the utter negligence that I have rendered to my blog, I decided on the same strategy for myself. Summer is a great time for this part of the world. We have been going out on weekends and sunny week days. There have been so many fluctuations in the weather this season. Its close to 40 one day and 12 degrees the next...its bizarre! Thankfully the city is absolutely new to us and has so much to offer both in terms of indoor and outdoor fun.

May 22nd - Lincoln Park Zoo

It turned out to be a much hotter day than expected. It was hot even in the shade. So the highlights of the day were cooling off with almost baths at every water outlet along the way.

Cooling off with snow cones and showing off the rainbow colored tongues thereafter.

And an indoor air-conditioned tree house climbing for kids. We strategically asked Vansh to go first and Jiya after him so that she eggs him to go on further rather than Vansh telling her to not go any further and go back with him.

I deliberately have missed out on the animals in the zoo this time because the dainty Miss Jiya was overwhelmed with the heat and the fact that she had to walk through it. I had not carried her stroller from India thinking which soon to be 4 year old needs a stroller. Turns out that mine does. So had to buy another one after this rather hopeless trip in terms of us doing anything fruitful because she tires out so soon. Luckily we went with friends who went around the entire premises with their son and Vansh to see all the animals while we sat in a gift store with Jiya sleeping in my arms.

Jun 4 - Last Gymnastics Class

Jiya is really fond of music and sways to any music that plays quite rhythmically. When we reached here in March, preschools were not enrolling any new students because the session was anyways about to end in a few weeks. So I enrolled her in a couple of classes so that she can get out and meet some children her age, get used to the language and accent, et al. Dance was our first choice but we didn't have options for that again during that time. So we picked gymnastics and she loved it so much that she literally went through the entire class with a smile on her lips. The first session ended Jun 4th and she now says that she wants to continue with Gymnastics and not dance at the moment. Her very flexible body is a bonus.

Jun 12 - Last Soccer Game of the Spring Season

Vansh was quite keen on playing cricket right after we came here from India. The World Cup fever was on. India won it while we were here which added to the craze. I told him he could play baseball which is also a bat and ball game but realized he won't be able to continue once we move back to India. So suggested soccer (football elsewhere) to which he had had some exposure last year during the Football World Cup but didn't remember much. But he decided to try it out and after a slow luke warm start, took a liking to it and started getting the hang of it. And has even asked me to sign him up for the next season in fall. I think the fact that he got a popsicle and a really cool medal at the last game and that he looked all glam and jazz with that shiny oversized red jersey(white in some games) and the shin guards has something to do with it ;)

I think his expression in the picture is because he was trying to smile but fighting back tears too though he doesn't admit it. But yeah lately he has become way too sentimental. A phase? I don't know.

June onwards

We have undertaken a really cool project at home titled 'Around the World'. The idea came from the really cool Choxbox's really cool post on studying Mexico over here. Since Vansh has been extremely fascinated with different languages and cultures and countries, locating them on the map and the likes, I thought it would be a good time to pick it up. We started with making their own passports. We found some very neat resources online for profile pages, immigration stamps when you visit a country and the place profiles.

We started with Germany. He colored the country on Europe's map after looking it up in the Atlas. We looked about its climate and current temperatures on which anyways is bookmarked on our computer because he likes to go on it every hour, if not sooner, to check the weather conditions. Listened to the German counting song on youtube. Jiya did a craft where she colored and dressed up a German boy. And they both added details in their respective passports.

We have studied India after that but more on that later. As also our adventures from last week because duty calls now. So ciao and hope to keep up with this religiously :)