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 :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A pack of foam sheets from the Dollar Tree...

... is all it takes for hours of fun and a dazzling display of color on your windows. Just spray water on the glass door/window, give the kids pre-cut shapes to work with and sit back and marvel at the leaps of imagination a child's mind dares to take on this mega size canvas. Better still, finish off that mystery novel you were struggling to find time for ;)



 Those are a tree with colorful leaves, a Jedi and Yoda by the currently Star Wars obsessed son and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
And the collection keeps getting bigger and bigger for hours of fun!

Easy, inexpensive and loads of fun even for very young kids! We also did this activity at Chica's weekly playdate and it was such a big hit with kids ranging from 1-1/2 years to 5 years and later enjoyed by kids as big as 7-8 years.

Putti Prapancha is where we got this idea initially! The kids had something similar in India but we had forgotten about it and its on her blog that I was reminded of it again. Thanks PP :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Experience at Eggs to Chicks Exhibit and Elmo visits Kohl Children's Museum

While this was two weekends back but a short trip sandwiched between some illnesses of self and the kids  kept me away from the blog for a while.

We went to experience the Eggs to Chicks exhibit at the Kohl Children's Museum. It was a very sweet and at the same time educating experience for kids as well as for us adults alike. The exhibit featured a special child-height egg incubator, hatchery unit and a pen for newborn chicks. The journey of a chick right from day 1 of incubation to hatching adorned the wall as placards demonstrating the changes seen with every passing day. And the most fascinating was all to watch the eggs as the first cracks appeared and it moved and the kids could take a peek to see a tiny furry creature trying to make its way out. Each day 4 eggs are marked with a date and placed in the large incubator to begin their 21 day journey to develop into a chick. This means there's an extremely strong likelihood of one hatching right when you are there at the museum. One hatched in the very first hour of when we reached and another one was cracking and moving when we were moving out after spending about 3 hours in the museum. Here are a few pictures 







The exhibit runs  MARCH 19 - MAY 13 at the Kohl Children's Museum. Do take your kids there to enjoy the fascinating process of birth of a chicken as also to enjoy the rest of the very fun museum.

Also if you can make it tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10th 2012, you get to meet Sesame Street's Elmo. The three-and-a-half year old red-faced monster will hang out with some of his biggest fans at Kohl in advance of his appearance on-stage at the Akoo Theatre in May. Families are invited to participate in a photo opportunity with Elmo; space is limited and tickets to the photo opportunity will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis.