Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A round up of a couple of great events and activities

...going on in Chicagoland currently!

Holiday Magic Comes to Life November 23 - December 31 as Passengers Explore The Christkindlmaket, Zoo Lights,  The Magnificent Mile, and More

Chicago Trolley Co. celebrates the holiday season with their enchanting “Holiday Lights Tour,” bringing the magic of the city to life as passengers experience the thrilling lights and sights of Chicago. Running Friday - Sunday evenings Nov. 23 – Dec. 23, and daily Dec. 26 – 31, Chicago’s version of a caroling sleigh ride whisks passengers through the festive lights and holiday spectacles of wintertime in Chicago, including views of the Magnificent Mile, State Street & Macy’s Holiday Windows, the John Hancock Plaza tree, Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest; and stops at two of Chicago’s favorite holiday sights—the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza and Lincoln Park’s Zoo Lights. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online at www.chicagotrolley.com. Tickets are on sale now.

We took the tour last year and it was so wonderful. For a review and pictures, read my blog post here.


Free Skating continues through Feb. 24, 2013

Rosemont, IL – MB Financial Park at Rosemont is once again hosting Skating in the Park beginning Friday, Nov. 23. The lawn has been turned into an NHL-sized outdoor skating rink for the winter months and visitors can skate under the lights for a magical experience during the holiday season.

With festive music, refreshments, convenient on-site skate rental for $8, free parking (with validation) and more, this ice rink, presented by the Village of Rosemont, offers fun for the entire family.

Skating in the Park at Rosemont Hours
Monday-Thursday: 4- 9 p.m.
Friday: 4-10 p.m.
Sat: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

December 21- January 6: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Extended hours when students are out for winter break.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A few Chica updates...

...filling up our days the past few weeks.

Chica is being this rather outspoken girl at home, in an entertaining way, with an amusing answer/opinion on almost anything that is being talked about :) So we were playing this word game while having dinner and she thought of a word and was giving clues to Niño for him to guess the word. Now Niño always likes to team up with his dad, just to make it easy for himself. After a couple of hints, the 'team' guessed the word and it happened a few times in a row. Niño expressed his pride on playing so well, to which she remarked so casually "So what are you doing about it bhaiya, its all papa's work!" The way she speaks, its hard to suppress a smile. :)

The other day, she was telling me about her teacher at school who spells is as 'iz'. I told her that I don't blame her because that's how it 'sounds' actually to which pat came the reply "But mom, we know in English, its not always about the sound!" Again said in a rather straightforward, matter of fact kind of way from a little girl, it sounded rather funny. While still on the topic of spellings, which she is currently taking a lot of interest in, she sometimes, just for fun and silliness, asks me spellings of words like UPS, USA, TV, etc. The other day, she asked me to spell OK for her. I told her its o.k.a.y. May be she expected it to be O.K. or may be I had spelled it as that the last time, she said as much. I replied saying that both of those are valid spellings. "Why" was the next question to which I halfheartedly (more out of tiredness on answering such questions) replied "I don't know". "Well then why didn't nani (grandma) teach you why?" Uff, the persistent interrogator sure managed to bring a smile to my face again.

So she is being this buoyant little girl, happy in her skin, wearing a beautiful dress because she feels like dressing up with clips to match, dancing, looking at herself in the mirror, humming "I am the most beautiful girl in the world" with gay abandon. At other times, not caring how she looks with paint on her face or tears, previously shed, because she had a fight with her brother, now making trails on her soiled face, just drawing for hours on end,  still humming "I am the most beautiful girl in the world". I love your confidence baby and I love your free spirit. Stay the same!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oct. 28: Halloween Magic 2 at the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont


Dr. Mark Kaschube brings tricks and treats to the Akoo Theatre
to raise money for local veterans
Special Appearance by “Quick Change” Artists David Mass and Dania Kaseeva

The Magic Dentist, Dr. Mark Kaschube, is putting on a show full of spooky Halloween tricks along with his ensemble of mischievous tricksters when “Halloween Magic 2” comes to the Akoo Theatre (formerly Rosemont Theatre) 5400 N. River Road, Sunday Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. Presented by Orange Crush, the Village of Rosemont and the Grand Dental Group, this show is guaranteed be a fun-filled Halloween experience for the entire family. Also on the program is one of the most original and astounding magic acts ever seen on the stage, “Quick Change,” featuring the astoundingly quick costume change act of David Mass and Dania Kaseeva.

All proceeds from ticket sales will go to Salute, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides financial support for military men and women and their families. Last year’s event drew over 3,000 people and raised over $40,000 for Salute, Inc.

“Last year’s Halloween Magic was a tremendous success,” said Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens. “As always, the show offers thrills and chills for the entire family and benefits a terrific cause right here in our community. We are proud and honored to recognize the incredible contributions and sacrifice members of the military and their families make every day.”

Dr. Kaschube has been practicing dentistry for more than 20 years and has maintained a dedication to community service throughout his career. He regularly puts on magic shows at preschools, participates in parades, and has even started a magic program for children that are deaf and hearing impaired.

David Maas and Dania Kaseeva are the stars of “Quick Change,” a non-stop, dynamic and superbly choreographed dance exhibition that astounds audiences with staggeringly rapid costume transformations in fractions of a second. It has been hailed as the most exciting and magnetic magic/dance act in the world today.

Whether presented on stage, on-court, or in a circus ring, their elegant metamorphosis are simply unbelievable. Since “Quick Change” debuted in 1996, audiences have responded to their incredible illusions with tremendous ovations—and left the theatre every night, wondering if they had not just dreamed what they saw.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $35 for adults ages 13 and older, and $15 for children ages 12 and younger. There are also a limited amount of a $99 VIP Meet and Greet package that includes one VIP ticket and an exclusive backstage after show with the performers and animals used in the production. For tickets and more information please, visit the Akoo Theatre Box Office, or purchase online at www.akootheatre.com

Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School ...Excitement Galore!

So the siblings marched out the door, after having waited all these years, to go to the same school, finally! The younger one's excitement over the past few days had to be seen to be believed. Incidentally, we were also going camping the day after their schools re-opened and were to set up tent and sleep in sleeping bags and were to go with 7 more families, all the kids' friends from the complex that we stay in and with whom they literally spent almost every waking moment with during their summer break. Needless to say, they were way too excited about that as well. So one day Chica, after thinking for a while, asked me "Mom, guess what I am more excited about ... our camping trip or starting school?" To give you an idea of just how excited she was, she told me I was wrong when I answered "our camping trip".

This picture sums up their feelings pretty well on the first day. Niño felt like a very responsible big brother and wanted me to drop them to school on their first day so that I could guide Chica as to where the Kindergartners need to stand to get in the building, which he otherwise considered his responsibility. Chica, on the other hand didn't want to delay getting in the bus by even one more day and told us that I and Niño were welcome to come by car, but she was way too excited to take the bus and was unfazed and sure there would be teachers to tell her exactly where she should enter from! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Fun Photo Labels

A quick picture post to share with you the first craft of the summer this year. Yeah we had a craftily lazy summer vacation this year :) But today the kids were extremely excited with this activity that took up our morning when we had originally intended to finish off all the labeling of school supplies. But I guess in the last few days of the kids home, one could give themselves and myself this much leeway :)

Work in progress ...I took printouts of letters of the kids' names from these Alphabet Printables and  stuck them onto different colored construction paper. The kids then cut them out and decorated those with crayons and stickers.

Then came the posing against different backgrounds! A brown tree trunk, green grass, blue sky!

I then put the 4 pictures to together on Picasa, made a collage, copy, pasted 4 of them on a Word Document and took printouts. And lo and behold, we have among us a lovely label and an extremely proud and happy soon to be Kindergartner! 
The older sibling made it quite excitedly but doesn't want to have to do anything with it at all thereafter. "No way am I carrying it to school!" Well he is just a growing boy, I suppose.

The idea came from one of my absolute favorite activity blog here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Part 1 of Summer 2012 - The London Olympics

Niño has been dreaming big and imagining even bigger. My only regret is I am no longer as prompt with the camera as I was last year. But the Olympics have been playing big on his heart and mind as he watched the opening ceremony with wide eyed awe and wonder. And then went on to make Michael Phelps his hero and Gabby Douglas his heroine ;)

So he planned an opening ceremony with all the props at hand. A gun shot was fired with his toy gun to mark the beginning of the ceremony. He then switched off all the lights and switched on the light of his toy projector and started rotating a Rubik cube in front of the projector light in order to get a flashing disco lights effect; realized that the cube is opaque and only gets him shadows, got some Ikea translucent kind of different colored bowls and got the desired effect. He had then orchestrated a band with the instruments they have which included him on the violin and Chica on the piano and I and A were handed over maracas and tambourines. I was then duly asked to play some marching music on youtube as he handed us handouts of names of countries with their flags - which he had carefully drawn beforehand. I was to represent India, the father son duo were from USA and the sister was from Russia because she is a good gymnast. The Atlas was seen outside and this was the time I realized it had been taken out to draw Russia's flag. Finally I was asked to play the British National Anthem and the climax had to be a self done Light Saber show because of course he can't let his absolute favorite thing down by not including it in the ceremony.

And ever since Swimming competitions have been going on in the home and outside - never mind that a swimming race just means running inside the pool from the 3 feet end to the 4 feet end :) (Swimming has eluded him by far). Plans are made as the Big gang of children meet every evening either in the pool or while biking for the next day's events of their very own Olympics. Tennis, Basketball, Track and Field have all been held in one way or the other.

While I wish I had taken pictures of Niño doing all this, this year; I will share here pictures from his fascination with the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi while we were there in Oct 2010.

Weightlifting - a hot favorite! Don't miss the expressions and the weight - 225 kgs, in case you are wondering ;)

He's a pro at getting the body language and the expressions just right! 
And these are the current cool dudes and wannabe Olympic swimmers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soon enough...

You know what, after months of being away from the blog, except blogging about the events or the places we have enjoyed, currently I am in a frame of mind where I want to savor my kids wholeheartedly and completely and delight in the joy they bring to my life. Because now is the time with the new school year beginning, children of relatives and friends who are ready to fly the proverbial nest, to pursue their studies away from home, often cross country now, the things their parents have to say, the feelings they describe they are going through, the emptiness which is so evident in their hearts and minds, the few more days they are longing to spend with their children who are soon going to be far far away, it tugs at your heart, especially if you are mother with kids who are growing at lightning speed. The first thing you do is place yourself in those parents' shoes and feel what they feel, knowing that soon enough you will be them. Knowing that soon enough the very fights with your kids you crib about will exactly be the ones you'll crave; soon enough the physical and the mental work it takes being a mom of two young children that seems too much now would be the one you'll realize to be the sweetest, most enriching and most satisfying thing you have experienced in your life; soon enough the hugs and the kisses that are now so abundant that you often take them for granted would become rare luxuries because soon enough its going to be your kids leaping and taking flight out of your nests and eventually making their own.
Why don't I write about all these moments more often when I started this blog for just that, a tether to hold on to for just those 'soon enough' times. Well, as of now I resolve to and I will. I just want to keep the tone of this post philosophical, so whats been up with us would be the content of the next post which will come up pretty soon!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kids drive the Action in "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!"

We caught Second City Theatricals' "Imrov Extravaganza Explosion!" at UP Comedy Club in Chicago city this past Saturday. High energy and hilarious, the show, featuring The Second City's performers, is an hour of interactive, family-friendly improvisation and sketch comedy pulled from ideas straight from the audience, and made up on the spot. So while a part of the audience said their favorite movie to watch was let's say Cars and favorite thing to do was listen to Justin Bieber, the performers came up with a catchy rap right there with just those ideas. There were impromptu short skits, pretend video games played on stage with the audience as the participants, all in all a lot of hilarious fun. Members of the audience were invited on stage too for a couple of items again leading to rip roaring entertainment. Some of the acts were so innovative like this one act where a group of pre-teens were invited on stage to participate as two actors talked about their visit to a history museum and the focus alternated between them and the pictures they took there depicting hilarious scenes acted out by the pre-teens. It was so funny to see those kids barely contain their own laughter as they froze acting out those photographs. Kids starting from 5 to those in their teens seemed to be enjoying it as also the adults. Lunch was available during and after the show for an additional charge (kids and regular menus are available). It was a very fun experience to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday in the city famous for its shows and theater.

The actors on the day we watched the show, actually from a rotating cast of 10 actors, included

·         Ross Bryant

·         Chelsea Devantez

·         John Hartman

·         Hans Holsen

·         Becky Poole

To know more about the very funny and the very talented actors and to catch a video, click here. Also available on the link is ticket information. Second City Theatricals' G-rated "Imrov Extravaganza Explosion!" runs at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave, 3rd Floor, Chicago, Saturday's at 12 noon now through Dec 29. Tickets are $11. Doors open at 11 am.

Parking info - Metered parking is available on both North Avenue and Wells Street in either direction. Parking is also available for a fee at Piper's Alley Self Park Garage - 230 West North Ave. Other paid options include Treasure Island – 1639 N. Wells St and Public Parking – Corner of North Ave and North Park. We were able to find street parking on North Ave without too much difficulty.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Have you been to the Cirque Shanghai yet?

..If not, next Wednesday, July 25th may be the day you would want to hit the Navy Pier. Not only is the Cirque Shanghai absolutely stunning this year, in addition Navy Pier will be hosting a wonderful firework display that is dedicated and inspired by Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon. This will take place during Navy Pier’s regularly scheduled fireworks Wednesday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m. The fireworks will be set to the Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon music and incorporate themes from the show.

In addition to the fireworks Navy Pier has a couple of special offers that are a great way to experience Cirque Shanghai, especially the Navy Pier Fun Pack. The package is a great way for a family to get a taste of what Navy Pier has to offer. Since Cirque Shanghai will be at Navy Pier’s Pepsi Skyline Stage until September 3, there is still time left this summer to make great use of this package.

Package Details
The Navy Pier Fun Pack — Includes Cirque Shanghai Emperor’s Court ticket, Ferris wheel ride, Shoreline Sightseeing Skyline Lake Tour and a $5 Pepsi® Skyline Stage concession voucher. Only $26.50 kids/$41.50 adults. To purchase the Navy Pier Fun Pack, visit Ticketmaster.
One (1) Cirque Shanghai Emperor’s Court Ticket. This premium seat gives you an unforgettable, up-close and exhilarating theatrical experience!

One (1) Ferris wheel Voucher. View Chicago’s beautiful skyline from Navy Pier’s 15-story Ferris wheel. Visitwww.navypier.com for more information.

One (1) Shoreline Sightseeing Skyline Lake Tour Voucher. Relax and enjoy all of Chicago’s fabulous lakefront sights with a convenient half-hour boat ride from either of our two Navy Pier docks. Visitwww.shorelinesightseeing.com for more information.

One (1) $5 Pepsi® Skyline Stage Concession. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Be ready to gape for an hour...

...at the Cirque Shanghai this year. That's what I did this time, mouth wide open is how Chica saw the entire show and gasps of disbelief is what one heard several times among the audience as the Cirque Shanghai crew continued to amaze and live upto expectations they set last year and in fact go beyond as they defied all gravity and twisted and turned and flew and tumbled and juggled. I mean just look at the picture below and tell me how can one possibly balance all those chairs with a person next to every chair handing out her hand so casually for the next one as if asking for a cupcake to set on a plate. And then performing all kinds of handstands and other gymnastic moves on top of  these chairs. 
My kids felt another of the coolest acts was when these acrobats kept jumping and tumbling through these different hoops, one at a time at first, then in well co-ordinated two's and three's and finally bodies twisted together. Awesome and cool and wow is what was heard all the time!
Very lively stage, dazzling costumes, an affable crew and the breathtaking acts - I recommend the Cirque Shanghai very very highly!

For a preview of some of the acts, check out the following video


“Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” performs May 24 – Sept. 3, with regular run performances as follows:
Wednesday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.  
Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m. 
Friday at 2, 7 and 9 p.m. 
Saturday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m. 
Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.

The schedule on Wednesday, July 4 is 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m, since the Navy Pier fireworks will begin at 9 p.m.There will be additional performances Tuesday, July 3 at 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 3 (Labor Day) at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Tickets are $15.50 - $29.50 and are available by calling 800-745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com/shanghai. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting www.grouptix.net.   

A Tip : With kids' summer vacation on, plan on going on a weekday if possible for considerably cheaper tickets!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chagall for Children Opening at Kohl with Cirque Shanghai

On Tuesday June 19, cast members from Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon will be attending the Kohl Children’s Museum opening of “Chagall for Children” for a special performance celebrating Marc Chagall’s famous painting “At The Circus”

I had written about Kohl Children's Museum's one of the most popular exhibits in history - Chagall for Children starting June 18. Seems like a fabulous, very hands on exhibit for children already interested in art and even better to get them more interested with all these interactive, multi-sensory stations.

Also Cirque Shanghai which continues to thrill audiences of all ages at Navy Pier since May 24 and impressed us last year with their charming and amiable crew. My kids can't wait to go back to watch it tonight.

So a rendezvous of the two, to me, sounds like a perfect outing with kids out from school on a hot summer day.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

9:45am – Children are invited to participate in the creation of a large sidewalk mural echoing Marc Chagall’s paintings.
10:00am – Opening of the “Chagall for Children” exhibit.
10:30am – Performance from Cirque Shanghai cast members including Contortion, Juggling and the “Roly Poly.”

“Chagall for Children” runs through September 2.

“Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” runs through September 3.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NOW is the time to vote to end Female Foeticide!

Friends, please take a minute and vote for an extremely noble cause! To empower the girl child! To educate them! To empower women to earn a living and their dignity! To raise award money for a dear friend's NGO which does all this and more! Spare a minute for a noble cause!

Impact Award 2012
Help support this entry, The Beginning to an End to female foeticide, in Impact Award 2012.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chagall for Children at the Kohl Children's Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum is bringing back one of the most popular exhibits in its history when “Chagall For Children,” a multi-sensory, hands-on exploration of one of the best-known and best-loved artists of the 20th century, Marc Chagall, returns June  18 – September 2.

“Chagall for Children,” is a world-class exhibit that showcases 14 multi-sensory exploration stations, each incorporating a high-quality reproduction of one of Marc Chagall’s works.  Developed by Kohl Children’s Museum, the exhibit features interactive components that offer hands-on activities and an audio description of each work specifically geared to children.  Following its debut at Kohl in 1996, the exhibit has been on continuous tour, visiting children’s museums throughout North America.
“’Chagall for Children’ is one of the best-loved exhibits in our history, and we are tremendously proud of it,” said Kohl Children’s Museum President and CEO Sheridan Turner.  “Chagall’s bold use of color and fantastical imagination make his works particularly compelling to children, providing an introduction to specific art principals including color, light, texture and composition. It is an exhibit that children and adults enjoy equally.”

The exhibit is designed to engage children in the exploration of both art and the artist through interactive, multi-sensory components. The stations include:

America Windows: Guests explore the effect of light upon stained glass by adjusting the light levels behind the work and creating their own version of Chagall’s “America Windows” by rearranging puzzle-like pieces of the work.
At the Circus: Utilizing role-play – a key component in the creative development of young children – children see themselves as part of a Chagall painting via a video camera and monitor. They don silk-screened capes to become part of the painting as they pose and play on a circus stage.
The Birthday: Comparing art forms, visitors examine a reproduction of this oil painting and compare it to the tactile experience of touching the bas relief. Guests can also create a “rubbing” from a steel engraving of the bas relief.
The Blue House: Studying form and structure, kids and parents can create their own three-dimensional house using blue Lincoln Logs™ against the backdrop of this painting.
The Concert: Museum attendees select musical instruments represented in this painting and blend sounds the way Chagall artistically blended colors.
Flowers: Guests create their own flower arrangements inspired by this colorful work and experiment with floral scents.
The Flying Sleigh: In a digital activity, visitors explore the art of narrative form by manipulating main figures and details of this Chagall piece to tell a different story.
Green Violinist: This station has two interactive activities; one encourages attendees to listen and choose music they feel best describes the piece; while an innovative computer program focuses on the impact of color as participants capture and alter the color of their face on a computer screen.
I and the Village: Children learn about the concept of symmetry and explore the different ways people view the world by rotating this painting.
Job Tapestry: Tapestry provided Chagall with yet another form of artistic expression. Guests cooperatively create their own tapestry by weaving a variety of materials.
The Juggler: Children explore the role of detail in this work by using a touch screen to animate elements of the painting.
Paris Through the Window: By experimenting with composition using magnetized pieces, visitors create their own picture of Paris.
The Poultry Yard: In a creative approach to form and structure, children experiment with brightly-colored, three-dimensional, soft sculptural animals to create fantasy creatures and scenes.
The Rooster: A rich tactile experience occurs when guests touch and rearrange the beautiful feathers in the tail of a soft sculpture copy of Chagall’s rooster.
Many stations are accompanied with audio descriptions, highlighting information about the artwork upon which the interactive is based.
An extensive selection of books about Marc Chagall is provided to encourage further exploration and to stimulate literacy learning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recycle all those crayons lying around ...

... and make these beautiful pieces that can be used to be worn as necklaces, bracelets or whatever you can imagine them to be.

Super easy steps :

1. Peel the crayons' wrappers.

2. Break them into small pieces and fill muffin trays (fill the molds about halfway) - You can make multicolored or combine a dark and a light color for great effects.

3. Bake at about 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Take out the muffin tray and let cool. After cooling for a few minutes at room temperature, the trays can be put in the freezer for quicker results.

4. Once the trays are cool enough, the disc of wax just slips out easily.

5. Heat a pointed knife on a candle to make a hole in the discs and pass yarn/ribbon through it to make into colorful necklaces.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Science in Everyday Conversations

The amount of water Niño drinks during the course of the day has been a cause of concern for me for a while. The Delhi summer took care of the problem itself when the scorching heat even inside the house or his school made sure he drank bottles full but here with the majority of the time being the cold season, he barely drinks any if left to himself. During this past weekend, I made it a point to literally thrust those 270 ml bottles in him every 2 hours. He was delighted to be peeing out white fluid which I keep telling him is so good as opposed to the yellow one which he passes out rarely during the day otherwise. So after one such elated trip to the bathroom, I asked him to recall why after all is water so essential for our human bodies. I had told him a couple of times but then that's my other concern, how much really do 7 year olds actually listen and pay attention to. My answer would be 5%, without exaggerating. Anyways, that's not the topic for this post, probably for another one!

So the first very obvious reply was to make us pee white pee which is good and not the yellow pee which is bad. I told him he was right but still I was looking for an even more vital function of water in our bodies which I had mentioned to him and he would earn 7 stickers for if he could recall. And without us realizing, it became a kind of a game. He asked for a hint. I think it would be interesting to narrate the conversation the way it happened after that

Myself: Okay, here's the deal for you! You guess the answer after 1 hint, you get 6 stickers; after 2 hints, you get 5, 4 stickers after 3 hints and so on ..and his interest was piqued!
So your first hint is why do we eat food?

Niño: To get all the proteins and vitamins! Oh I know (at which point I was so proud of my son having figured it out right after one hint) - so the food goes through the food pipe and there is another wind pipe and one time I was laughing really loudly while eating my food and the food entered the wind pipe and made me cough so badly!

Myself: (This is what I thought - Duh? So what about the water dude? ) But this is what I spoke (I am the Mother after all,  I remembered) - I know you did and that was pretty unpleasant. Okay, so how do you think water helps?

Niño: Ohhh! (making the face that he makes when he realizes he is far from his goal) So the water also goes down the food pipe and not down the wind pipe that is why you tell us not to talk or laugh while drinking water!

Myself: Absolutely! Are you ready for the second hint?

Niño: Okay

Myself: So where do you think all the food and the good nutrients go?

Niño: They go down the food pipe and the ones that are not needed, we potty them out! So the water helps to potty out what is not needed?

Myself: Yes it does. Good job figuring that out! We are still looking for the most important function though. So where does the food pipe take the food?

Niño: (Touches his stomach and says) Here! And I know so the water mixes with all the food in the stomach and becomes muck! But Oh! We are trying to figure out why water is a good thing, not why it is bad!

Myself: No it does mix around with the food and helps digest it in the digestive system. Even if it seems like its mucky, that's the way food is digested! Okay, so all the food and all the good nutrients have been accumulated in our stomach and our digestive system. So are these the only places in our body which need all the good nutrients?

Niño: No our growing bones need them too! Oh I know - so there are like pipes from the stomach to the bones.

By this time he is beyond himself with excitement with hands making out the pipes and the bones in thin air which is when I pick up a scrap paper and draw a rough sketch of a human body with just a box for the mouth and a circle for the digestive system we have been talking about. We pick up some brownie crumbs still left over on the table from the brownies we had just had before this (yeah we are that creative ;) !) and assume them to be the nutrients packed with all the goodness! So Niño draws the pipe from the mouth bringing the food into the digestive system and figures there must be a pipe taking the nutrients to the bones. We then pick up a straw and put some brownie crumbs to see if they would move to reach somewhere else and Eureka!

Niño: Oh so of course they need water to reach the bones, to be able to flow in the pipes!

Very rough I know but the joy of self discovery! At the end of it, he doesn't care how many hints he took or how many stickers he earned but the fact that he discovered something for himself! How he thought and how mesmerized he was with his own thoughts! How 'cool' the commonest of drinks really is, after all!

That's the first thing he treats his dad to when he returns home from outside! And he has been asking for more such 'Discovery Projects', as he called them, ever since! We did shorter versions on conservation of water today. But I still need to think of other such topics which can give him the joy of discovering and which can be done in this impromptu manner. Suggestions? Experiences? Please do share :)

And I was inspired to pen down this post because of the super smart kid KB who was sure he'll be able to make warm ice if he put warm water in the freezer and learnt the second law of thermodynamics in the process. :)

Line up of some great events ...

... coming up in the next few weeks. Chicagoland does keep us all mighty busy, hanh :)

  1. A wide array of fun events are coming up at Kohl Children's Museum in the coming weeks.  They include:

  •  The "Super Moms" from every family will be celebrated at a special benefit party on Friday, May 11 from 6 - 8:30 p.m.  Capes and costumes are welcome!
  • Sheridan Turner, Kohl's popular president and CEO, will introduce kids to Michael Bond's beloved "Paddington" books, along with a visit from the marmalade-loving, always-in-trouble bear himself.  Readings are on May 4 and 18, and June 8 and 22 from 2-3 p.m.
  • Kohl's popular spring-time family event, "Touch A Truck," brings vehicles of all shapes and sizes to Fields Chrysler Jeep Dodge, 670 Frontage Road in Northfield, May 6 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
For more details, visit the Kohl Children's Museum website. Also while you are at the Museum, be sure to check out their Eggs to Chicks Exhibit which runs through May 14, 2012. To the astonishment of Museum workers and guests alike, Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago’s current exhibit Eggs to Chicks hatched a seldom-seen Auburn Java chick, one of the rarest breeds in existence. The strain, common in the 1800s, actually disappeared over time, but the recessive gene has remained dormant in the Black Java variety, and recently new chicks of this exceedingly uncommon breed have been hatched. Approximately 300 Auburn Javas are currently known to be in existence in the world.
The Auburn chick, “Aubrey,” was hatched on April 25 in the early morning. The Museum contacted the Museum of Science and Industry and Chicago’s Baby Chick Hatchery exhibit, which later verified it as an Auburn Java.

Aubrey will stay on display at Kohl Children’s Museum until May 7 at which point which she will move to her new home at the Museum of Science and Industry which is dedicated to the repopulation of the Auburn Java species. Lambs Farm in Libertyville will be taking other chickens hatched during the exhibit.

2. Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) continues its 65th anniversary season with a concert by the organization’s 130-member Symphony Orchestra at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, (220 S. Michigan Ave.), Mother’s Day, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. Joining the CYSO Symphony Orchestra will be the CYSO Concert Orchestra and guest artists and CYSO alumni Demarre McGill, principal flute with the Seattle Symphony, and Anthony McGill, principal clarinet for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
The concert will include the following:
• Bedřich Smetana (1924-1884)
  “Má vlast”
  ii. Vlatava (The Moldau”)
Performed by the Concert Orchestra, conducted by CYSO Associate Conductor Terrance Malone Gray
• Jonathan Newman (b. 1972)
“Blow It up, Start Again” – WORLD PREMIERE
Commissioned by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Performed by the Symphony Orchestra, conducted by CYSO Music Director
Allen Tinkham
• Joel Puckett (b. 1977), CYSO 2010-2012 Composer in Residence
Concerto Duo for Flute, Clarinet and Orchestra – WORLD PREMIERE
i. The Great American Scream Machine (The Tallest Wooden Roller-coaster in the World; for Roya)
ii. Mama Dee’s Song for Joel (for Little A)
iii. For Audrey
Guest artists CYSO alumni Demarre McGill, principal flute with the Seattle Symphony,and Anthony McGill, principal clarinet for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Performed by the Symphony Orchestra, conducted by CYSO Music Director
Allen Tinkham
• Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op. 64

Performed by the Symphony Orchestra, conducted by CYSO Music Director
Allen Tinkham
Tickets for the May 13 concert are $20-$50 and are on sale through the Symphony Center Box Office (312-294-3000 or www.cso.org). For more information, visit www.cyso.org or call 312-939-2207 x31.

3. Cirque Shanghai returns to Chicago's Navy Pier this summer with a magnificent new show "Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon" beginning Thursday, May 24, 2012.  The production will run through September 3, 2012 (Labor Day), rain or shine, at the Navy Pier Pepsi Skyline Stage, the 1,500-seat, canopied, open-air theater on Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Tickets are $15.50 - $29.50 and will go on-sale Tuesday, May 1 at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com/shanghai. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting www.grouptix.net.

"Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon" is a spectacle for audiences of all ages, featuring performers direct from China who are leaders in their craft of tumbling, juggling, balancing and more. This year's production features an incredible line up of awe-inspiring acts, including favorites such as Bike Balances and Hoop Diving, as well as an all-new Group Chair Stack, Teeterboard act and the Wheel of Death. China's finest daredevil motorcycle troupe, "Imperial Thunder," returns with not two, not four, but five motorcyclists riding at break-neck speed within a steel globe - more than ever before in this death-defying feat. 

Last year, we went to watch Cirque Shanghai Extreme at Navy Pier and were mesmerized. I watched the video I have attached above and it looks like its going to be even bigger and better than last year.

So go out there and enjoy the great events in the great city that you are a part of :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What an Evening...Red Baraat Rocks!

Last week I had blogged about the band Red Baraat coming to the ECC Arts Center on April 20th. Our family had the opportunity of going for the same and what a whale of a time we had. First of all, I would like to say the band is phenomenal. It wouldn' be an exaggeration to say we had the best time in the last one year we have been here. Before I write anything further, if you are reading this, checkout if they are going to be close to you and just go and dance and have fun and enjoy!

Red Baraat melds North Indian rhythm Bhangra with a host of sounds including brass, funk, go-go, Latin, and jazz to create a wildly exciting musical experience. They are becoming increasingly popular and rightly so. They kicked off their Spring Tour this year by playing at the White House on April 2!
'Baraat' is a term used for the procession in a North Indian Wedding where the groom is made to sit on a ornamented horse as his entire extended family and friends dance to the venue of the wedding amidst lots of lights (some people move holding lanterns and chandeliers on their shoulders or heads), lots of loud music - primarily dhol - that's a double sided barrel shaped drum which is what the lead Sunny Jain plays in the band and sousaphones; and also amidst fireworks. Sounds crazy?! Well it is! But the fun is just dancing to the high energy beats with all your friends and family besides you. Its hard to be just a bystander. You dance till you sweat and you almost drop! And all this is in finery befitting a wedding :) Well, Red Baraat created the whole mood and set everyone dancing. The leader Sunny Jain called the audience to the front to dance in four easy steps. Step 1: Put your hands in the air. Step 2: Shrug your shoulders. Step 3: Twist your wrists. Step 4: Shake your hips. All were too eager to comply. And for the whole time! The group members often danced themselves adding to the fun! The boundaries between the band and the audience seemed to diminish with every passing music piece as they kept going closer and closer to stage to just revel in the funky, super fun, high energy music that played. They played typical North Indian Wedding songs like 'Aaj mere yaar ki shaadi hai'; dance numbers like 'Tunak, tunak' and 'Dama dam must kalandar' and fun festive numbers like 'Rang Barse'.

I leave you with a couple of videos to enjoy. The videos seem to black out for a few seconds because I tried to capture the absolutely excited dancing audience too but couldn't because of low light. Also check out Elgin Community College Arts Center website for the very interesting variety of events they offer ranging from music concerts to stand up comedy shows to kids programs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This weekend April 28 - 29: All ages Matty K's grand opening

Matty K’s Hardware is thrilled to celebrate their official Grand Opening weekend with activities for all ages April 28 – 29, 2012, beginning at 8 a.m. both days. The store’s garden market will also open at 8 a.m. on April 28, just in time for spring planting! Matty K’s Hardware, located at 4874 N. Lincoln Ave, is Lincoln Square’s new neighborhood hardware store that features personalized project-planning services for home, business and theatrical projects. Early Bird Sales will be held both Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., with free treats and coffee, provided by Café Selmarie, on hand for shoppers. The grills will be fired up at 11 a.m. each day, with meat provided by Gene’s Sausage Shop, to provide shoppers with free lunch (while supplies last). On Saturday afternoon the entire family will be able to enjoy cotton candy, popcorn, face painting, games and entertainment and activities from Lillstreet Art Center (beginning at 1 p.m.) and the Old Town School of Folk Music (beginning at 2 p.m.) while they check out all that Matty K’s has to offer.

A family-owned and operated business, Matty K’s is dedicated to serving all members of the Chicago community. Monthly workshops are offered to all ages free of charge with seasonal projects including making a chalkboard wall calendar, bike tuning, seed planting and more. A dedicated kids’ area in the store makes it easy for parents to shop or spend time working with experts in the design center, who are available to help with home projects, painting and more.    

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Empowering our kids - CSAAM April 2012


        " Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – CSAAM – is an annual awareness programme organised by a voluntary collective of bloggers and social networkers. It aims to break the deafening silence that surrounds this taboo topic in India. It targets parents, teachers and caregivers of children of both sexes and all ages, offering vital information on CSA, including an online collection of CSA-related resources. It gives a voice to victims and offers hope to those who are still struggling with the after-effects of CSA. "

I quote the above from the CSA blog which you can visit for several heart wrenching stories about first hand experiences people have been brave and extremely kind to share, to give insights into the minds of obnoxious perverts, insights into how they have put the past behind them and emerged stronger persons, insights into their learnings from their experiences and thus providing very valuable resources for all of us to learn from and hope to protect our children from the ugly headed monster named 'Child Sexual Abuse'. Also included on the website are live twitter discussions, personal views, very good practical tips by several bloggers on broaching the subject with kids of different age groups in the process empowering them to be able to protect themselves from abuse. Make sure you do check out the invaluable resource for yourself and your kids.

As for my personal guidelines on the matter for my kids, who are 7 and 4-1/2, have been generally about their over all safety. There have been some which need to be emphasized specifically in the Sexual Abuse context but most of them, given their age, are important like I said in the overall saftey sense and can be extended to 'Sexual Safety' as they get older and spend more and more time away from me.

- The first rule of the thumb that we follow when we go out in a crowded place like a fair or amusement park or a mall is to write down my and my husband's phone number on a piece of paper and put it in their pockets. Even though both of them are old enough to remember the numbers but nervousness and anxiety on being lost may make them forget. Also as much as I emphasize on maintaining a cool demeanor and definitely not cry if they don't see us around (I am not sure whether they will actually follow through if such a thing was to happen, but I do repeat it everytime we are at such a place), I tell them to not look for the nearest person in a uniform but I tell them its much safer to find a family with kids and approach the mom/dad with the number and request them to call us from their phone. I explicitly tell them that not very good people could be disguised as men/women in uniform and may be actually kidnappers who can take them away. Personally, I root for the 'Hansel and Gretel' approach to make kids very fearful of strangers even if that makes them uncomfortable because I believe at their age its better to be very scared of people and things that may be dangerous for them rather than being sorry later.

- In a circumstance where suppose they were to be cornered by a bad person, I have explained to them to be very wary of not going out an exit/door. As long as they are in a crowded place and the person tries to touch them on any of their private parts (which I explain from time to time is their chest and their bottom), they are to shout out loud. If the person tries to convince them to follow him/her to be able to reach us (parents), they are to stay there and demand for us to be called right
where they are and not follow the person in the hope of finding us. I have explained that a genuine security officer would have means (like a walkie talkie) to get his message to the concerned authorities who would arrange for us to be called where they are.

- Like I mentioned in the point above, I do talk to them about their private parts being private and are not to be touched by anyone except themsleves, us, their parents and in case of Chica, if absolutely unavoidable by a friend's mom if she is at her friend's place. When at school, right now at Chica's pre-school, we have been told that the teachers are not allowed to touch the kids after they are done pooping. They tell the kids to do the best they can to clean themselves and in case
of an accident or if a situation demands adult intervention, they are to call the parents. In a way, its good to be concerned about the young kids' sexual safety. However at her pre-school back in India, there used to be lady helpers to help with the kids' ablutions, I used to have a conversation every so often with her to tell me immediately if she felt uncomfortable when a helper helped her with that. I talk to Niño about bullies in general and the steps he needs to follow if they bully him in any way. The first step for him is to shout back loudly if a child tries to hit him or touch him at an inappropriate place and to threaten telling an adult. That generally is enough for young children to make them back off. In case of a repitition of that behavior, they are to inform the nearest trusted adult and then me when they reach home.

- A few weeks back, it so happened that Niño had a couple of sleepovers in quick succession at two of his very good friends' places, not planned, but it so happened that we were there for a potluck, got really late, made the kids sleep - younger ones on beds, older ones on comforters on the floor and then when it was time to leave, thought it would be hard to lug the older ones and so left them sleeping there and picked them up in the morning (everyone stays in the same complex). While
Niño had not gathered the courage earlier to sleep over at a friend's place himself, but this gave him the nerve he needed to be able to do that. And he started asking for a sleep over again and again and again. I am still not very comfortable with the idea and dodged the issue a few times he asked for it. But now at an age where he needs a perfect answer to why something is or is not being given to him when he asks for it, I knew I had to discuss with him my thoughts on the matter. Which is when I told him that when he still wakes up at night, even if it is rarely, crying because his leg is paining or his throat is hurting, I know exactly what to do about it. Would he know what to do about it if I was not around. That was enough to make him realize I was right. I proceeded to say, careful not to take names of any friends lest he develop feelings of distrust, he was still young to be able to protect himself if someone was to behave inappropriately with him while he was still in his sleep. The thought was enough for him to mull over and he didn't question me about who the somebody could be.

These are some of my thoughts and conversations I have with my children. Please feel free to add your own and share with other parents to be able to empower our children to stand up for themselves strongly when the situation demands, to share their feelings of discomfort if they ever encounter them, to never be ashamed to seek help and to know that they do need help in the first place. And once again do be sure to check out the CSA website.

Do you have a story to tell?  Tips to share? A video, a link, an ebook? As a parent, as an adult, as a child? All requests for anonymity are honored.

Bring your experience and your expertise to this awareness initiative via

1. Blog posts with the logo (you can copy the image above), linkback to the CSA blog, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title
2. Twitter posts or links to @CSAawareness, tagged “#CSAAM”
3. FB notes linking to our Facebook page
4. Emails to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com
5. Or just simply show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile.

The Whopping Fun Red Baraat come to the ECC Arts Center April 20

In the holiday season last Deecember, I had written about how much we had enjoyed the ballet 'The Nutcracker' at Elgin Community College Arts Center.

The coming Friday, Red Baraat comes to the ECC Arts Center’s Blizzard Theatre, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.Known for its explosive stage performances, Red Baraat melds North Indian rhythm Bhangra with a host of sounds including brass, funk, go-go, Latin, and jazz to create a wildly exciting musical experience. The Wall Street Journal calls Red Baraat “a big band for the world,” and the Chicago Reader hails them as “fun as hell.” The April 20 performance will include selections from their upcoming album, “Shruggy Ji.” This presentation is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council, General Mills Foundation and Land O’Lakes Foundation.

Red Baraat has been featured in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”  Since the band’s inception in 2008, Red Baraat has performed at numerous festivals including Chicago World Music Festival, Chicago Folk and Roots Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Madison World Music Festival, Molde International Jazz Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; and taken the stage at prestigious venues including The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, among others.

Red Baraat’s debut album, “Chaal Baby,” was voted by several music critics as a top world and jazz release of 2010, and the title track has been used as background music for promo ads for FX’s hit TV show, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” The band’s second recent release, "Bootleg Bhangra" was recorded at Brooklyn’s Southpaw on their second anniversary and released in 2011. Red Baraat is currently at work on their second studio album, "Shruggy Ji" scheduled for release summer 2012.

The Brooklyn-based band of nine, led by dhol drummer and Red Baraat founder Sunny Jain (see bio below) also includes Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Rohin Khemani (percussion), John Altieri (sousaphone), Mike Bomwell (soprano sax), Alex Hamlin (baritone sax), Sonny Singh (trumpet), MiWi La Lupa (bass trumpet) and Ernest Stuart (trumbone). For more information about Red Baraat visit redbaraat.com.

ECC Arts Center, located at 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin presents Red Baraat, Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 / $28 if purchased online. Tickets can be purchased online at http://tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC box office located in the Arts Center. To purchase tickets by phone, call 847-622-0300.

In my personal opinion, if you are an Indian reading this, the kind of music that this band plays needs no introduction - so 'Chak de phatte, nap de killi!' ;O  For others, you must must must listen to the genre of music the band plays. Typical to North India and even more specifically to North Indian weddings, its the super high energy music that has beats to die for, beats so peppy that force one and all to get in the groove and move their bodies and dance in full excitement as if no one's watching, to just let loose and be one with the music and dance hard, having whopping fun with friends and family in the process.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A quick getaway to St Louis

The last weekend which marked an end to the kids' Spring Break found us visiting the aesthetically beautiful city of St Louis in Missouri. A 6 hour drive away from the NW suburbs of Chicago, glorious weather, already quite green and flowery compared to IL at this time of the year, and enough touristy things to quickly fill up 2 days, it did very well to charm. The fact that we went there with another family friends and the kids always had company made it just as much endearing for them as well.

 We took one stop on our way at a rest area and a simple slide became so much fun with 4 kids going down together.

Niño had checked immediately on the map to see where St Louis is and observed there was the Mississippi river which separated IL from MO and had been worried for a few moments as to how we would cross it! I had added to his worries by saying that we might have to swim for a bit to reach the other side (I am entitled to my moments of fun too ;) ) until the light bulb moment happened and he declared emphatically, "Oh I know! There must be a bridge across the the river to take us to St Louis!" There sure was one and he was extremely pleased to finally see the board welcoming us to Missouri right on the bridge after almost 5 hours of having waited for it :)

 We reached Friday late afternoon at about 4 and after freshening up left for the City Garden at 5'o clock. The weather with a slight nip in the air was perfect to enjoy a stroll and enjoy the vibrant and serene blending of lush plantings and internationally-renowned sculpture with delights of water, stone, architecture and design. The kids had a ball running around water, climbing atop the various giant sculptures and then sliding down, all while they gorged on snacks and candy.

Pinocchio finds company!

Chica was all the more chuffed because she and her best friend happened to be wearing the same t-shirt which read 'Chilling out with my BFF'. Totally apt :)

We had a long dinner that day at a local Mexican eatery in downtown St Louis whose name eludes me right now but it was a long wait. We first went there, thought that the 50 minute wait was too long, gave our name nevertheless in the waiting list and then drove around to find another place to eat, realized all of them were fairly crowded and drove back to where we had initially gone. The weather was awesome even for sitting out which is where we sat and first enjoyed tray after tray of fresh chips and salsa. Hungry from all the strolling and sight seeing, we gorged on them like crazy. Fajitas, burritos and quesadillas were relished with the same fetish among chit chat, sips of cool drinks and in general a relaxed and cheery atmosphere

The next day, the first place we visited was the one all tourists in St Louis head to - the famous Gateway Arch. We took a 630-foot ride to the top of this world-famous stainless steel monument for the finest view in the Gateway City. It is the nation's tallest man made structure and how they built it was displayed pretty fascinatingly inside a small museum inside at the base of the arch. The journey to the top itself was pretty intriguing in a capsule which kept tilting to remain horizontally aligned with the ground.

 Inside the capsule for the ride up.
 Fabulous birds eye views from 630 ft up!

A couple of hours we were left with after refreshing the kids with snacks, juice and more candy were spent at the St Louis Zoo. We couldn't go around a lot because it had been getting quite hot that day and the kids were also tired from the morning outing to the Arch. But other than spotting ant eaters and wondering if ants are really all they eat and how they fill their big tummies, cheetahs, elephants and some more animals, it turned out to be another 'climbing on everything climbable' outing!
 Deciding where to go.
 The baccha party.

Climbing galore!

We returned to the hotel early and made a meal of dal chawal (rice and lentils) in the small kitchenette and enjoyed a home made meal (are we getting old to be craving a home cooked meal after just a couple of meals outside) over 'The King's Speech' as the kids played some games and watched some cartoon!

The next morning, for the two or so hours we had before we needed to drive back home, we went to the Forest Park. Forest Park is one of the nation's largest city parks with 1,293 acres, open to the public for golf, tennis, baseball, bicycling, boating, fishing, handball, ice skating, in-line skating, jogging, cricket, rugby and more. The park is also home to the St. Louis Science Center, the art museum, the zoo, and a history museum, all with free admission. Forest Park is really at the heart of St. Louis. We enjoyed paddle boating which was a refreshingly breezy experience on a day which was turning out to be really hot and then splashing water in the beautiful garden overlooking the World Fair's Pavilion. 

 Because feet tire after several minutes of paddling the boat!

It was a fun fun trip, a great break from the daily routine and a much enjoyed one at that! I think I would love to go again because there's still a lot more to do as this link here suggests :)