Friday, October 31, 2014

Diwali Crafts for Toddlers/ Pre-schoolers

As is the case in (almost) every Hindu home, at our home too we get really excited around the festival time, especially around Diwali time. Since Megh is at a age where she can actually participate in preparing for Diwali, we started making crafts about 3 weeks before the date. Well, we were aiming to do crafts during the weekends and so, it took us about 3 weeks. This time, I really wanted to keep it simple but yet, festive. So, we  made the below crafts:

1.       Salt Dough Diya’s
2.       Play dough Diya’s
3.       Crayon Lantern’s.

As you can see, our aim was to bring forth the lights without having to use the store bought diyas.

Salt Dough Recipe:
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Salt: ½ cup
Water: ½ cup
Food colors: Optional

Method: Mix flour and salt in a big bowl. Get the little one to mix! Megha loved mixing.
Then slowly add water. If you are measuring using the cup measurements, these proportions would be perfect. If some reason the dough is too sticky to handle, just mix some flour. If its too dry, add few drops of water at a time until the time you are able to make any shape you want easily.
Dough saved in fridge will keep for at least a week. Your all natural homemade play-dough is ready!

We divided the dough into 4 equal parts. In one part, I added the regular biryani orange food color. In the next part, I added coffee powder. In another part I added turmeric powder and in the last part, I mixed blue icing color and ta da! We are all set to make homemade diya’s!

Take tea candles or any candles and form the shape around the candle to get the impression on the salt dough. Megha (and her dad and I) had fun playing around the dough. Here are some pictures.
Note that after the impressions are made, depending on how thick the ornament (in this case diya) is, it may take up to 2 days for it to completely dry out and be ready to be used. If however you are in a hurry and want to speed up the drying process, you can pre-heat the oven low temp (like 200 D) and bake for 3 hours checking every hour to make sure the dough isn’t burning. Alternatively, it can also be dried in the microwave for 3 minutes. Check and then reheat for about 20 seconds at a time to ensure even drying.

Fun homemade Diwali diya’s are ready to be used!

Since this was the first craft we started, we just let it dry in the natural air for a few days. What a fun evening! Can’t wait to do this again. There really is nothing more beautiful and fulfilling than the whole family sitting together and working on something/ anything.

Play Dough Diya’s:
After the super hit salt dough diya craft, we set out to make play dough diyas. As the name suggests, we used play dough to make impressions around the candles. This time, we used some sparkles to give some bling to the play dough. Megha was very excited and mixed the sparkles all by her-self. She even chose the color combinations of what sparkles to mix with which colored dough and she also very nicely made ALL the impressions around the candles with very little assistance. So very proud of her! Another super fun evening!

Unlike the salt-dough, play-dough doesn’t take too long to dry out. In about 24 hours the dough hardens.
We used Crayola Play Dough.
Crayon Lanterns:
To be honest, when we were at school, we didn’t really have crafts sessions going on. I don’t ever remember doing this at home as well. I came to know that here in pre-school, crayon lanterns are famous. So, when I looked at the instructions of how to make it, I got very excited because I had never been exposed to this wonder before!

So 2 Sundays before Diwali (12th Oct), Megha and I had breakfast and we were all set to make our first ever crayon lanterns.

You will need:
Crayons (of course): different colored
Wax paper (parchment paper)
Small ginger peeler or a small grater (see picture)
Small white paper bags
Hot iron
Lots of adult supervision

Start this when you have plenty of time on your hands. Make sure the tiny-tummy which will be assisting you is full so that she is as excited as you are.
Sit somewhere comfortable.

1.       Let the little one tear away the paper cover off the crayons. Megha loved this part. She chose which colored crayons we would be using and she peeled the paper off on all the crayons before we began.
2.       Then keep the paper bag in place (use light colored bags). Megha was holding the paper bag while I used the grater to grate the crayon. I used different colored crayons to bring forth the different colors. Don’t even bother trying to control where the crayon droplets fall. Just follow your heart and let them drop where ever they want.

3.       Gently pick the paper up and leave it on the ironing board. Heat the iron on low heat. Place the wax paper over the paper bag.
4.       Megha and I held the iron and let iron roll over the wax paper for about 8 seconds. Make sure that the iron rolls all over the paper.
5.       Give it 2 seconds and prepare to be wowed!
6.       Gently peel of the wax paper.

Its not just Megha but even I couldn’t resist jumping up and down saying WOW! The crayons melt leaving the excitement back on the paper. We made 5 lanters and we were as wowed with the last lantern as the first one.
Peeling off the wax paper and looking at Megha’s face while the smile reaches all corners of her face was incredible.

I hunted for small LED lights to be placed inside the lantern but I could not find anything reasonably price. Here is how it looks after we light a regular candle inside.
We spent all Sunday morning doing this and I can say what an incredible experience it was.

I must not fail to add that this season i made a decision that going forward, I will also be doing things which I used to enjoy before; i.e making arts and crafts. After Megha went to bed, I made diya's ot of craft paper (Chiyogamii Paper to be specific) which I had bought from a paper store. I cut them in the shape of diyas and made banners out of them.

I loved spending time with this. Its extremely important to spend time doing things which we love. Its so very easy to lose track after we have a baby but we must reconnect to ourselves.

Here is a saree curtain that I got done for the festival! Megha helped hanging this up and she approved, "wow momma, this is so pretty"!

Happy Halloween to both nephews!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Daddy's lil Princess

Megha sure is Anand's little princess. She is the apple of our eyes and even her sneeze would make me go "awww". Lol
On Sunday 26th Oct 2014 she did something which would make everyone go "Awwwww".

Anand and I were just sitting on the couch and Megha was playing in the family room. Anand was having popcorn and chips. When he finished what he had in his bowl, Megha quietly took the bowl, grabbed her step stool, went to the kitchen counter and got him more popcorn and chips! ALL by herself without anyone even asking her to!! And she gave him the bowl and said, "here dadyy, for you. Eat it"....

I am sooooo very proud of her!
Here is the bowl she made for A

Recognizing the difference between Tantrums and Fears in Pre-schoolers

It feels nice to call Megha a pre-schooler. Gone are the days when I can refer to her as a baby and then a toddler. It never ceases to amaze me how fast they grow!

Coming to the point, of late I had been noticing that at times Megha tends to push the limits. For example, when I ask her to remove her wet shoes before stepping on the carpet, she would not. If I ask her to remove her jacket, she throws a fit saying that she even wants to wear her mitts, even though I would explained to her at least 10 times that its time for supper. While this behavior isnt often, it is there lurking underneath, threatening to come out at a moments notice. This is what is called terrible-threes.

The major change which had happened since we returned from India is that she refuses to go to bed on her own. Initially I stayed with her but I slowly wanted to get her back in her routine, I started leaving the room assuring her that I would be there if she wants. She continued crying for a few nights until we had a breakthrough when she expressed that she is afraid of the dark. I put the light on dimmer (even though her night-light is on) and that seemed to have taken care of the problem. It broke my heart to see her cry and of course I would put the light on, if she wants it. She really was afraid of the dark. I heard that all they talk in the daycare is about Halloween these days.

While putting the light and trusting her fears worked a few nights, we had a relapse when suddenly one day she switched the light on full and started playing. Anand at that point thought that she is not afraid of the dark after all. Luckily for us, I ended up sleeping along with her in her bed for the next few days until today and that really helped.

Tonight after our bedtime routine, I just kissed her good night (with only night light on) and she is sleeping like a baby without me there!
Kids depend so much on us. It only takes a little trust to trust them when they say something. More often than not, they would not lie.

So, it appears like a full fledged fear of darkness has turned into some naughtiness over a period of time. Had I not trusted her fear of darkness and left her to cry, I would forever think "what f she really was afraid". What if?

It truly helps to just listen and follow the cues given to us by these wee things. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tatha (Grand pa) really is the best...

Grand parents are known to be the most indulgent of all in any child's life (generally speaking). But my dad and mom seems to take the cake when it comes to accommodating Megha's wishes; big and small.
Not only did they buy one gift per day for Megha (she received at least 40 presents from them!), they entertained her in a way only a grand parent can :)

Megha loves being pulled on a blanket at home. When she saw something on which she can sit, she immediately wanted to be pulled when she sits on it. So her Tatha, my dad, figured out a way to convert a small thermo-coal (please pardon the spelling) block into something where she can sit on comfortably, including a pillow! They tied a couple of strings and viola! Here is the pull-thingy. They had so much fun on it. Dad pulls her all the way across the apartment floor while Megha yells "Faster Tatha...Faster" lol

Here is the close up.
Update for today: I had been having trouble putting Megha to bed since the time we returned from India. She has gotten used to me staying with her until she fell asleep and now, i am having trouble leaving her room when she is awake. Before, she had no problem going to sleep on her own. She cries for a maximum of 7 minutes and then goes to sleep.While 7 minutes may not seem long, when she is crying, it feels like eternity to me. From tomorrow onwards, I am planning on starting her bedtime routine at 7 PM itself and see if that makes any difference. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Picking- Oct 2014

Megha loves being outdoors and so do I. If given a choice between spending a day indoors vs outdoors, I would pick outdoors any day and I am glad to report that so does Megha.

Yesterday, 11Oct2014, Megha and I went to Springridge Farm to pick our pumpkin's (about 20  minutes drive from where we live) for Halloween. Of what fun we had! Below picture was taken at the entrance of the farm.
The pumpkins were HUGE.
There was so much to do at the farm. Megha loved sitting on the tractor. The weather was beautiful at 12 D and Megha dressed accordingly.
There were rows and rows of pumpkins and she had fun running amidst them.

After a while, she got tired and sat on one :)

Then we went to Boo-Barn. The barn was decorated based on Halloween theme and Megha didnt particularly like it as it was a little dark inside.

Next, we went on a little tractor ride around the farm (5.5) Acres. It was beautiful! We also got to walk in the corn field. She and I both loved it. We saw the corn, named the parts of a corn plant including roots and ran around for a bit. She was surprised to look at the roots. This was the first time she actually saw the roots sticking out.

After we returned from the farm, we had lunch. I bought hot-dog, apple chips and apple juice but Megha didnt eat much. She just tasted everything but loved her apple juice.

Then she was busy running around in the tunnel. It sure looked like fun.

Then we had fun playing in the hay. She jumped from one hay stack to the next with so much ease! Then she also played quite a bit on the slide made of hay stack and tunnle. I couldnt take a picture of that as I was busy watching her.

Then the petting zoo came along (also no pictures), followed by a pony ride. Pony rides are Megha's all time favourite rides. This little pony's name is Ladybug. She of course said "heee Haw" (like a cow-girl) while on the pony :)

Our last stop was to pick pumpkins. She picked the best pumpkins!

Finally, we got help from one of the employees there and loaded a BIG pumpkin in our car. Here is the picture of our home entrance after we got home. I had to roll the pumpkin from the car to the entrance as it was toooo heavy. I loved our day! I am yet to make a pie though. Oh well, maybe soon.

I will have to slowly write about everything we did in summer too. I missed writing quite as i had been a bit busy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

India Trip with Megha- Sept 2014

It’s been a couple of days since we returned from India and we are still adjusting to the time-zone. We had a great trip, especially Megha. She was thoroughly pampered by her grandparents and why not? After all, it’s her right to be pampered by her grand parents.

The onward flight journey went great with Megha sleeping through the flight from Toronto to Frankfurt. In all honesty, I don’t remember how we spent the hours in Frankfurt; I however remember a long-haul in Bombay. Megha was behaving excellent but the poor thing was so tired. When we boarded the final flight (last leg of the journey) to Hyderabad, she was crying. Over-all, an excellent journey. Anand thoughtfully bought kid-sized headphones and they helped a lot during the journey. We also packed all her medication (which we had to use during our last week).

My parents were thrilled to see her and she was enjoying herself so much.

After we reached home, we slept for a few hours. The next day was the house warming ceremony for Megha’s apartment (a very generous gift by my parents). We three (Megha, Anand and I) had no trouble getting up early in the morning as we were still in Toronto’s time zone.
Here she is all dressed up for the Puja.

Here she is unraveling the name board.

Here is a picture from my parents Shashtipoorti:
Megha and her brother Jayeesh (my nephew) bonded almost immediately. She sweetly calls him Jayees-anna and they watched many a videos and played many games together. Here is another clip of Megha with my parents.
She got one gift a day from them and as soon as my parents realized they had more gifts/toys for her than the number of days left in our stay, she started receiving more than one present a day! Oh the joys of being pampered :)

The next few days went in a blur. We went shopping, got the registration for the apartment done, ate, ate and ate more.

We also got Megha’s Aksharabhyasam (introduction to studies) in a nearby temple on Thursday 11th Sept, 2014. Here she is.

During the puja, she was made to write (scribble) on the slate. The temple was beautiful and was surrounded by lush green fields.
We took lots and lots of pictures and here are some:

Then over the weekend we visited Chennai. Though very short, we did meet everyone we had originally planned to meet. A’s cousin Charan and megha had a wonderful time looking at the cows, calf’s, piglets, birds and fishes nearby. She also got beautiful outfit as a gift. Paati also made dosa with chicken kurma.
Also, she was on a scooter (for the first time) with Sampath Tatha. Later I came to know that it was him who had taught Anand how to ride a scooter
Continuing the tradition I see!

It was so nice to meet Avva (A’s grandmother). She was delighted to meet Megha and we were equally delighted to see her too.
They seemed to have formed a language of their own and she seemed at peace there. For the first time in few days, she ate her supper well (ven-pongal made by Durga Paati).
While it was really nice to see everyone in Chennai, we missed meeting Binoj and Hema (Anand’s cousins).

And then we went to Goa. Goa deserves a new thread altogether! So, I will post that and the fun we had post our Goa trip in another post.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bubble Guppies...

2 days ago while we were watching Bubble Guppies (cartoon), something very interesting happened.
The kid in the cartoon loses his toy (it falls down a cliff); so he says, "Oh no! what should I do! what should I do!".
Megha responded, "go get it". Lol
She sure is growing up fast :)

Back in the swing!

Its been a month since I had posted anything here as I was completely tied up with India vacation last month. I am in the process of writing about our vacation but until then...

Here is Megha this evening helping me in mixing the veggies (beets and carrots) with the seasoning. As she was helping me out, we were going through all our colors and numbers :) What a fun way to get a little work done while still playing?

She is actually on top of the kitchen counter.