Friday, March 20, 2015

Catch-up #8

Hello, bewdas!

It has been an absolutely mad week, and now that the weekend is almost here, promising to be quite mad as well, I thought I'd quickly sneak in a catch-up post.

Li'l Xena turned 4 years old this week! It sounds odd, but the best way to describe her is that she's a complete person now, full of ideas, jokes (really bad ones, just like her daddy), stories, opinions and never-ending questions. I will, at some point, write that post I've been writing after each of her birthdays, to share the parenting gyaan that has helped us manage her (and stay sane) as she went from three-nage to fearless four.

My mom-in-law flew in this week, and you know what that means! Afternoon chai-ya-ya-yai-yaaaaa! (Try to sing it in the tune from Gupt's title song; at least that's how it plays in my head.) As some of you would know, I'm not a chai addict, but I love making it for other people and I love chai when I have company. So every afternoon, mil-dil sit down together for a cuppa and talk about life.

Work has been super this year, and I'm quite happy with my first-quarter projects. I published two kiddy books with my dream publisher and I'm in the midst of a third one with them. The deadlines tend to be quite insane, and when I feel stressed, I look to ducks for inspiration. Calm on the surface, furiously paddling underneath. It helps.

As you know, we tend to do the craziest things when we really shouldn't be. For example, I should be working on that next chapter instead of blogging now, but here I am. Like how I was crazy enough to sign up for the A-Z blogging challenge in April last year. At a day's notice. A post a day. With Viv away on his annual pilgrimage business trip to Vegas. With me managing the house and Xena and my work by myself. Cuckoo! But I did it -- I wrote 26 posts in a month, and I must be stark raving mad because I've decided to do it again this year. I've also convinced Clueless to do it, and if you click on her blog, you will see that her last post was the last post of the challenge. She has agreed, and now I'm working on my next target Shub. These are the two people who used to live in the far west end of Singapore and I pestered and pestered them until they moved to the east! (At least I like to think it was me.)

So let's see how it goes. If you have ideas on topics that I can blog about during the challenge, please share them with me. I will be very grateful because my mind is blank at the moment.

See you in April! (Every day!)
Sayesha the bartender bhai

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Project parenting

"Mama! You didn't take a photo of our fire eel!" Xena reminded me. 
Oh, right. I didn't. So I took a photo of our fire eel (if you're wondering what on earth a fire eel is, shaant gadadhaari Bheem, shaant. We'll get there by the end of this post). 
Xena's school gives out home projects quite regularly. They are optional, and are to be done by the kids at home with help from parents. Or is it the other way round? I think at one point they must have been compulsory and then they had a queue of parents banging the school door down, screaming, "Stop-it-we-can't-take-it-anymore!" and then they decided to make them optional. Anyway, being the geeky enthu cutlet mom-daughter duo that we are, we treat them as compulsory, of course. Most of her friends bring printouts off the net, but we try to do something creative with each topic. And we try to remember to take a photo of the projects before submitting them. 
I love the whole idea of these projects because it really gets her creative cells working. The topics are up for individual interpretation, so we talk and discuss before deciding on what to make. It gives me a chance to talk to her about thinking out of the box and keeping an open mind and also recycling. They also come in handy when I'm all out of ideas on what we can do to keep ourselves occupied in the hot afternoons or on rainy evenings when we can't go out. 
We must have done a gazillion school projects since she started preschool and though I keep taking photos of whatever we make, they are all over the place -- some on my phone, some on Viv's, some on the iMac, some on the iPad. And I kept thinking that some day I'll compile them and put them in one place for easy reference. And there is no place like the blog. 
So today I decided to sit down and dig up all the photos from wherever they were, and compile this post. 

Project 1: Crab
Yup, that was the topic of her first project when she was in pre-nursery. There was no further elaboration. I wasn't sure what we could do. I didn't want to do something all by myself, but she was only 2 and I wasn't sure how I could involve her. So I turned to devon ke dev mahagoogledev. And found this really cool idea. All it takes is some red finger paint, and two little willing hands. We stuck the googly eyes just for fun. 

Project 2: Banana recipe
This time, they were a little more specific. They wanted us to make a dish using bananas and send them the recipe and photos of 'the making'. This was around the time when Xena would not eat ANYTHING, so I was really surprised that after we made banana 'happy face' pancakes (yes, that's what we named the dish) together, she actually took a tiiiiiny bite.

Project 3: Crazy hat day 2013
So every year, they have a 'crazy hat day' at school and you're supposed to turn up in, you guessed it, a crazy hat! For her first year, we made an erupting volcano hat. I took a sheet of white paper and we used our fingers to paint it with fingerpaint. We didn't have brown so I showed her how we could mix red and green to make brown and she was very excited. I did the flowing lava part by myself, as it involved scissors and finer motor skills than she had at that point (the twirls have been hand-curled).

Project 4: Fireman suit
"Say whaaaat?" was my reaction when I read the project brief. How on earth was I supposed to make a fireman suit? I considered making one with a black garbage bag and insulation tape, but then I remembered she had a black jacket which would do nicely. So we stuck the tape on the jacket in strips until it resembled a fireman suit. Her school shorts (yes, she was so tiny that her school shorts were trousers for her) are very dark blue so I stuck the tape on them too and made the full set. The helmet was made by sticking black paper over her colourful scooter helmet. Then I took a hose that was lying around and we 'shot' the firefighting scene. 

Project 5: China
Okay, this was done in panic mode because we had clean forgotten about it until the night before! And the topic was sooooo broad! But then thankfully, a disposable bowl, paper, black marker and googly eyes came to our aid. She coloured the ears and stuck the eyes and I did the rest.

Project 6: Let's recycle!
This was a 'do at school' project. Methinks it was just so the teachers could confirm that parents were indeed involving their kids. It was Father's day and dads had been asked to come to school to make something -- anything -- using the materials provided. Viv was overseas on a business trip, so I went over and told them I was 'dad for the day'. And then we got down to work. There were shoe boxes and milk cartons and lids and bottle caps and straws and toilet paper rolls and paints and what not. Xena and I made this robot.

Project 7: Orange animal
We had been tasked to make a character using an orange. We made Octo Octopus. Please note the liberal use of the googly eyes in the projects so far. (I'd bought a whole packet. I wasn't going to let any opportunity to use them pass.)

Project 8: Restaurant menu
We had to come up with a restaurant menu. As simple as that. But a part of me was saying, "Naah, kuchh maza nahin aa raha hai. Let's take it a notch higher.' So we decided to do a 3-D menu showing the actual items made of play-doh. We took a shoebox lid, wrapped it with wrapping paper and stuck the dishes on it. Everyone asked me if Xena had done anything at all in it. The truth is - she had, to the best of her abilities. For example, I made the individual components of the burger and she layered them. She did the pizza toppings and helped me roll the sausage and spaghetti too.

Project 9: Crazy hat day 2014
Last year, we made a pineapple hat for her. As usual, we didn't use yellow and green paper, but painted white paper using finger paints. I did the cutting of the green parts, but this time she did a bit of the sticking.

Project 10: 3-D fish model
We had been thinking and thinking and thinking, but couldn't really think of how we could make a 3-D fish. Then we decided that we'd go out, pick tiny yellow leaves that had fallen down, and use them to make scales on a fish made by sticking two disposable bowls together. But it rained and we couldn't go down and we didn't have disposable bowls, so we just decided to make a balloon fish. (She gave me the idea because she said, "Mama, let's make a pufferfish!") Googly eyes to the rescue again!

Project 11: Water transportation toy
Xena doesn't have a boat or a ship toy. And I only realised that when the project brief came along. Well, I wasn't going to buy a toy just for a project, so we decided to go all old-fashioned and make a paper boat from newspaper! It looked a bit sad without any people inside so Xena stuck her favourite Elsa and co. stickers to serve as the passengers.

Project 12: Tropical freshwater fish
And now we finally come to the fire eel. When I read the topic, I couldn't think of anything. So Mr. Google helped with the shortlisting. But then we knew most kids would take a printout of a goldfish or a guppy, and we wanted our fish to stand out. An eel would be great, but we had to find a freshwater eel. And that's how we came across the fire eel. So I opened up this photo of it on the iPad, and both of us sat in front of it, armed with play doh. She helped me do the rolling and pressing and I did the finer work. Soon, it was ready. "But Mama, it doesn't look slimy!" She said. She was right. "Hmmm... you're right. Shall we paint it with clear nail polish?" I asked. "YES!" She exclaimed. She LOVES watching me put nail polish, so this definitely sounded fun to her. So we did that, and had ourselves a slimy fire eel!

PS: Please note that I did not use googly eyes for the eel. (Needed a lot of self-control.)