Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diwali for the kids this year

After 2 years of Diwali at home close to family, this year we are away from des again. Like everyone else in the same situation, the festivities with the family are missed acutely during this time of the year. Extra efforts have to be made to make a festival meaningful and fun especially for the kids which otherwise happens naturally back home. Anyways we began last week with some fireworks in a bottle and the puffy microwave art. I discovered a Beautiful blog a couple of weeks back and I told Rashmie, the owner of the blog that it had to be divine intervention that I discovered her blog full of amazing activities for the kids when I was just thinking about what to do with the kids this Diwali. Both the activities that we did were such a big hit with the kids and their friends too. She has given the full details in her posts that I have linked up to. But in short, for the fireworks in a bottle, we filled the 500 ml bottles with 1/3rd water and topped it up with cooking oil filled upto about an inch short of the rim. Added different colors (food coloring) to each bottle. Watching the color pass through the oil without coloring the oil and then settling on the oil water border for a few seconds before splashing down to the water and coloring it was mesmerizing enough. But of course there was more. Alka Seltzer tablets were then added to each bottle (3/4 tablet was optimal) and then began the fireworks. The colored CO2 bubbles fizzed up and the oil layer above served as the display window for the fantastic works! The expression on the kids faces has been priceless. And the four bottles sit on our kitchen table and Alka Seltzer tablets are dropped each time one of the kids' friends drops by much to everyone's delight and amusement.

The puffy microwave art - we mixed all purpose flour, baking powder and water to make a pancake like batter, added different food colors again, filled the batter in ziploc bags and made them like henna cones. And took out loads of one side empty sheets to decorate. It was not very easy for the kids to create designs from the cones because its kind of tricky but that didn't deter them one bit from doodling on and on and on. Niño (which is what the elder child will be called from now on :) couldn't stop making 'jalebis' and Chica (the younger one :) could manage lines and some flowers and smileys with help. After 4 small cut outs (from an A4 sheet) were ready, we tossed them inside the microwave for about 40 seconds and Viola! the results were awesome - puffed up art which smelled like pancakes, was so very colorful and very interesting to touch too. Awesome for all the senses. The best ones were mounted on card paper to give to the kids' friends for Diwali and the rest made up a very colorful quilt to adorn our main door. Not perfect at all but hey we are a household of real kids ;)

Last night we lit some sparklers and some small pop pops to the kids' delight and they just can't wait for more today with their friends. Just hope that the rain doesn't play a spoilt sport. 

As for me, well I am going to write a separate post for that. In short have been mighty busy last week cooking sweets and savories (which to my total utter delight are being tried and enjoyed by the kids), and trying out a couple of crafts to make little decorations. So tomorrow is designated no work day :) 

Monday, October 10, 2011

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

This weekend we headed to watch Emerald City Theater's production 'If You Give a Cat a Cupcake'. Based on the book by Laura Numeroff; adapted and directed by Ernie Nolan; the play runs at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln through Jan 7, 2012.

I had checked out the book from the library a few weeks back. We had already read 'If You Give a Mouse  a Cookie' by the same author and enjoyed it thoroughly. After having read the book, the kids were mighty excited to follow the cat on his adventures. They had some experience with theater before when we had watched 'Dot and Ziggy' the past summer but the experience of seeing a book they have read in action was a first. And even though V doesn't show much enthusiasm if we propose a place which doesn't involve rides or things beginning with the letter 'i' (read iPads, iPods, iMacs and the likes), I could tell that he was looking forward to it.

The first sight of the set on the stage itself was very lively and colorful and multi functional as we later realized to transform it into various locations in the play. The play was about a girl who returns unexpectedly from a play date only to find her dad alone at home, knee deep in work, who asks her to play by herself for a while and promises her to join her soon. Wondering what to do with her time, she comes face to face with her pet cat who is suddenly able to talk, sing, dance and above all ask for favors like a cupcake and sprinkles to go with it. What follows is high energy drama, one funny situation after another and adventures of the Girl (Leah Raidt) and the Cat (Joe Goldammer) around the city. Along the way, they meet the the third and the last actor of the play Kyle Rehder who plays various characters like the dad, the funky Sensei, dog Rufus and others extremely effectively with fun costumes and impressive accents.

Fast paced, high energy and utter fun, it amused the children and their parents alike. We absolutely L-O-V-E-D the excitement the enthusiastic Cat brought into the play. He kept the kids intrigued as he reached from one end of the hall to the other in a matter of seconds. The girl repeated the words from the book, ad verbatim but from memory, as the story unfolded. The friendship between the girl and her cat, even though, slightly forced to begin with when the girl insists that the cat is her pet and not her friend builds gradually and teaches key life lessons of asking your friends' opinions, respect, being thankful and sorry as needed. The audience was involved rather amusingly to carry forward the show. Puppetry, sounds and lighting is effectively used all in all to result in an utterly delightful play. In the end, all the kids were asked to join the cast on stage for a macarena style dance while singing the key words from the play/book. Outside the main hall, the cast gathered for pictures and autographs. Both my kids, being on the shy side with new people and especially with costumes, didn't make much of the opportunity at all but many others did.

I would recommend the play highly if you want to introduce your 3+ aged children to theater or if you have been on a look out for a good play to take your kids to. It does remarkably well to enthrall and delight.

Edited to add: This play is coming to Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center at Palatine, IL on Monday, Jan 16th at 10:30 am (school's off that day). Tickets are only $6 and its a great way to introduce your 3+ aged kids to theater.