We Finally Paid the Internet Bill

It’s been over 4 weeks since I’ve posted, not because I had nothing to say but because our internet was down. Well, we had to pay the bill but money was tight and it had to wait. There were some timely things that needed to be posted but they, of course, had to wait. I’ll be putting them up over the next few days (I did write them) and I’ll mention that it is a backlog post and when it was supposed to have gone up.

Other than that, life is pretty normal right now. Well, almost. School has begun but because of our pending move, we have opted to not enroll the kids for the new school year. The kids and Glad’s passports are at the visa office right now and we are waiting to get them back. After that, we will be free to make our move. Since we have no idea exactly when they will get here, everything else is kind of on hold.

I am doing some reading and pre-writing practice with Logan and Lila, just to keep the idea of “school” in their heads, and also because I want them to make some progress in those areas. Logan was reading well when he finished kindergarten, so we are continuing to practice with the Ladybird reader series. Lila is just learning to read with the same series. Both kids are learning phonics from this phonics website, Starfall.com.

For writing, I got them both some pre-writing practice workbooks. Logan especially needs to get the basic lines down. He was writing letters in kindergarten, both print and cursive, but it was difficult for him as he missed out on this basic training. So I am working slowly with him to get him comfortable with drawing lines. Even something as simple as a top-to-bottom or left-to-right straight line is difficult for him. Hopefully this practice will make it easier for him once he begins grade school.

So today you get two posts; this one and one backlog. The other backlog ones will follow over the next few days.

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Lila’s Fourth Birthday

Another year has gone by and my baby is now 4. This past year, I think the best word to describe her is stinker. Yes, she has always been trouble incarnate, but this year especially so.  The terrible twos are nothing compared to the terrible threes!

So this year she chose butterflies for her birthday theme. She wanted a butterfly cake and butterfly gifts. That gave me a rather broad spectrum to work with, but I managed to get some things that she loved.

The day before her birthday, we took these butterfly cupcakes to her school so she could share them with her classmates in the summer camp.

The body is chocolate gems, the wings are mini-cookies, and the antennae are fruit rolls cut into tiny strips.

The body is chocolate gems, the wings are mini-cookies, and the antennae are fruit rolls cut into tiny strips.

Then on her birthday, I made this butterfly cake. I used my carrot cake recipe, swapping half the carrots for zucchini, and using cheese in the frosting instead of it all being icing sugar. It tasted quite nice, but I want to experiment with it and find a way to eliminate the icing sugar and make it with honey instead.

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In the afternoon we went to a fun play place, Bunny Bounce Funland. They had an inflatable bouncy house with a slide, a play area with a ball pit, trampoline, small swing and various other jungle gym toys. There were also a few arcade games and mini basketball/bowling games, air hockey, etc. that you could get tickets from to cash in for various items.

The kids had a load of fun, and Glad passed the time playing some arcade game. We had planned on staying 1/2 an hour, but ended up staying 1 1/2 hours. None of them wanted to leave even though it was past their dinner time.

At home we cut the cake and they decided that on birthdays, dinner should just be cake. 🙂 All the more reason for me to make it healthy.

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Then came the gifts. Lila had already gotten some before – a bubble blower set from daddy and an outing with me to a shop she had repeatedly requested to go in. It was one of those small costume jewelry/makeup/hair stuff places. She picked out a large pink hair clip, a set of clips and elastic’s with strawberries on them, and pink nail polish. In her words, “I have to have nail polish, Mommy, because I’m big now.” Ha.

The ones she opened were a Winnie the Pooh puzzle set, matching earrings and necklace set, faux gold butterfly earrings, a shirt with butterflies on it, and a mini purse that contained “makeup”: some chapstick and sparkly pink pressed powder.

She has wanted to play with makeup for some time, and once climbed way up to the high shelf in the bathroom where I keep my makeup (to keep her out of it) and took my bag down. When I found her, she had eye-shadow all over and black waterproof mascara on her face, lips, and legs. What a cleanup job! So I figured it was best to get her something she could safely play with.

She had a fun day overall. She is already talking about what she wants to do on her 5th birthday. Slow down, girl, and enjoy being four.

What My Kids Have Been Up to Lately

School is now out for the summer. Lila’s last day was the 10th and Logan’s was today, the 12th. With summer comes setting up the pool and water play, making popsicles, summer camps and more. Lila’s birthday is also around the corner.

I figure now is a good time to write up some backlog of what the kids have been up to recently.

February 17th: Logan and Lila began roller skating lessons. They have made a lot of progress in this short time. Logan doesn’t fall as much as he did at first and Lila is getting fast. Her role model is a girl probably no more than a year older than her who skates like a pro already. Lila watches this girl zip around the rink, rarely falling, and tries to imitate her.

February 21st: Lila had her first sports day. Unlike Logan last year, she did a great job and ran when she was supposed to. I missed seeing her dance since I had to drop Logan at his school first, but saw it later on video.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right. You can also see Glad back there directing things.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Lila's class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

Lila’s class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

March 30th: Lila’s preschool graduation. I still don’t get why they do it two weeks before school actually lets out. But Lila was super excited about it. For about a month before it happened she asked me daily, “Is tomorrow my graduation?” We took a family photo together like we did last year, and we should get it soon.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

April 4th: Logan had a dress rehearsal for his school’s annual day. Scarlett and I accompanied him for the long bus ride to the place an hour away from his school where the children from all the branches of his school were practicing their shows. Last year at his annual day performance, daddy had to stand with him to get him to even stay in place to perform. This time it was great to see him stand in place and dance with his class.

On the bus.

On the bus.

April 6th: Logan’s annual day performance. It was being presented in a large theater and there must have been over a thousand people there – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, etc. All the children did so well. For some of them it was their very first time on stage.

Logan danced really well with no prompting needed from the teachers. We didn’t stay for the full performance as it was 1 1/2 hours and Scarlett was fussy from the beginning, though she did pay attention during a few of the dances when they were songs she knew.  We saw the full performance from one school and half of the one from Logan’s school, as his dance was in the first song his school presented.

Afterwards we went out for ice cream, partly to celebrate and partly to cool off as the day was a sweltering 36C. We went to a place that sells the ice cream by weight, so they give you huge scoops. The kids each got two, and surprisingly, both Logan and Lila said it was too much and couldn’t finish. 🙂 How often do you hear kids say they have too much ice cream? Ha.

Logan’s school didn’t have a graduation ceremony like Lila’s did, but they took a class photo (print only, I don’t have a soft copy), and had a party with the kids on the last day.

And those are the updates to date. I will include more photos as they come. Monday summer camps start for Logan and Lila; they are excited to go again, and I’m happy because it will give me some time without them daily – for the next two weeks. I really need my sanity so it is good when they go places.

Then and Now

Do you ever take photos of your kids somewhere and then take them again in the same place a year later, just to see how much time has flown?

 

Pic #1: Logan was 4 years, 3 months; Lila was 2 years, 10 months; and Scarlett was 1 year, 3 months.

Taken February 14, 2012

Taken February 14, 2012

 

Pic #2: One year and one month later: Logan is 5 years, 4 months; Lila is 3 years, 11 months; Scarlett is 2 years, 3 months.

Taken March 16, 2013

Taken March 16, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

Life Lessons Can Be Found Anywhere

Last Sunday, Glad took the kids to a sports park that is not far from home. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a roller rink, a path circling the entire park for walking, and lots of grass to run in. We have been there many times before but this time, Logan had a request.

Ever since he saw Twice Upon A Christmas and watched Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck skate with ease, Logan has wanted to skate. In his mind it was effortless fun, and after watching the more experienced children zip around the rink, Logan asked to learn to skate. Of course, Lila asked to learn too. She loves skating and was happy to get skates for her last birthday, but has not learned to use them properly. After some thought, Glad decided we should go for it.

The next day, we met at the park and signed the kids up for the class. They provided a basic kit for each of them – skates that attach to your shoes, elbow and knee pads, hand guards, and a soft helmet. Once dressed, they both got in line for their first class.

Logan immediately realized that skating wasn’t as easy as he had imagined. He wanted to go fast like the other kids and was upset to find he couldn’t. Logan has balance issues and trips easily, so our hope is that learning to skate will help improve his balance. But more than that, Logan needs to learn perseverance.

After the first lesson, he didn’t want to go back. The next day when I took them for their second class, Logan cried to whole time. He refused to join his group or even try to walk on the skates, which is what the other beginners were doing. It was one of those embarrassing moments in a parents’ life – your child is throwing a fit and you are just praying to keep your composure and at the same time not give in to the tantrum. Since they were just starting out, I had promised them a small treat for doing a good job, but since Logan made such a fuss, he missed his treat and his video time. He didn’t even seem to care that Lila got a treat.

The next day (day 3 of classes) we discussed why he wasn’t yet able to skate fast or backwards like he wanted to. I told him it would take time and effort on his part and that he couldn’t just quit. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of discussion. I also told him that if he threw another fit at class, he would miss our special outing to the mall. I needed to do something to get him to stop saying he couldn’t do it and agree to at least try.

Just before the class started, I asked him what would happen if he threw a fit again. He said he’d miss his treat, video, and mall outing. 🙂  Kids can be so much harder on themselves than we are. Anyway, he did great. Not only did he make good effort, he was happy and smiling the whole time, and he did get a treat this time, plus of course the promised mall outing. We used the outing to take a break from skating class, since classes are on daily but they only need to come as often as we want them to.

Getting Logan to persevere at something has never been easy. It takes loads of persuasion, encouragement, discussion, and simply saying “You can do it.” Once he learns how to do whatever it is, then he’s fine, but until he learns it, he wears me out with how hard he has convinced himself that he can’t do it.

It isn’t a new lesson, but perseverance is an important one. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to teach him something, like buttoning his shirt. I did it for him forever until daddy asked why. With some effort on daddy’s part, Logan learned to do buttons himself. I’d probably still be doing them for him if daddy hadn’t pushed him. I pushed him with learning to write,  among other things, but I foresee this will be a lifelong lesson for Logan. He wants to quit kindergarten now, so I encourage him by telling him the school year is almost over and that he will get a long break. (School lets out in April here.)

I guess the title of this post is its point – life lessons can be found anywhere – even on the roller rink.

My little skaters.

My little skaters.

 

You can see more pics from the skating here on Facebook.

Our Move – Progress Update 2

It has been crazy busy since the new year, which has meant prioritizing my to-do’s and unfortunately, my blog often suffers because of it. Putting aside the care of the kids, housework, school stuff, etc., there were two major focus points. One personal one (exercise and weight loss, more on that in another post), and of course finalizing our legal work so we can push forward with this move to Canada.

The papers are all filled now, everything is sorted, signed, and organized. Pretty much everything is ready to go – we just have to make a payment for the immigration fees and then mail the papers. After that it will just be waiting to hear back.

Of course we had to get new photos taken of the kids since immigration photos have different requirements from passport photos. We all know how fun it is to try to get kids to pose for pics. And sit still. And look at the camera. And smile. All at the same time. If you have kids you know what I’m talking about.

Scarlett wanted to go first. She remembered sitting there for her passport photo just a few months ago, and right away went to the stool, climbed up on it and sat down. I tried getting her to smile, but she kept smiling after the photo was taken. This was the best of 3 or 4.
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Lila went second. She actually likes to pose, and while she won’t stay still for long, she will move around into model-like poses and smile real big. I think hers was a one-take. As you can see, she recently had a haircut, her first. (I hope her curls come back. The ends were dry and damaged and I had no choice but to cut it. Yes, I did it myself. She isn’t quite ready for a barber yet.)

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Logan went last. He had already caused trouble when upon entering the room he found a switch and turned it off. It turned out to belong to the main computer and the photographer had to reboot everything. (All electrical outlets here have switches to turn them on and off without having to unplug anything.) Then he tried to rearrange the chairs and mess with the lights and mess with the equipment.

Once he sat down, the photographer couldn’t get him to sit still, sit straight, look at the camera, keep his eyes open or face normal. Really the only time Logan is ever still is when he is sleeping. I kept telling Logan to look straight, so he’d look at me. Then I’d say, “Look at the camera.” and he’d look down too low. Then the photographer would tell him to look up and he’d look at the ceiling. Then he’d say, “Chin down.” and Logan would grab his chin and pull it down with his hands. (The girls were in the hall, keeping busy by  looking in the large mirror and re-combing their hair. 🙂 )

I finally went over next to him to try to coax him into position long enough to get a good pic. The guy had already taken about 5 and none of them were usable. He finally had to get someone else to come and take it. The other guy right away talked to Logan, which distracted him long enough to get one good pic – the one you see below.

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So now you know what’s been keeping me so busy. They are just so curious about everything that they get into trouble everywhere we go.

Halloween Party and Sweets Contest

Because of the cyclone, schools had to postpone special activites, so Lila only got around to her Halloween party on November 2nd. Halloween is not celebrated in India, but her school is American based and believes that celebrating certain foreign holidays is good education. The kids dressed in either orange or black, or a costume. Each of the children brought gifts or treats to share (but no candy) and they did some related art activites.

Lila decided (with my help since this was new to her) to be a dancer. Her dress says “Love to dance” and she does. Her hair seemed especially curly that morning, so instead of brushing it, I left the curls and just gathered some of it up to keep it controlled. I took a lot of photos so bear with me. (These aren’t even all of them.)

Her first bit of makeup. See the cute earrings we found? 

She loves to pose for photos. All of these were her own doing.

Daddy’s painted-on moustashe and gotee.

One for Logan, even though his school wasn’t celebrating.

Of course she had to have one too.

 I found out that morning that I had again been assigned the task of judging the sweets contest, so a short while later, Scarlett and I headed over to the school. I dressed Scarlett in the school uniform as her costume. Doesn’t she look cute in it? This is one we had first bought for Lila but it was too small. She sat for a while in Lila’s classroom with the kids, wanting to be next to Lila and join in the fun.

Lila’s class. See her there by the window?
Then she and Lila had some fun playing while I did my bit for the judging. 
We had two things to judge. There was a pumpkin carving contest …
and a pumkin halwa contest. Halwa is a sweet that can be made from a variety of fruits and veggies, or dhal, wheat, and other grains, and it is very popular here. There were 20 entries and we had to taste each one, then rate them one to ten for taste and presentation. These contests are meant to help the parents feel a part of the school and join in the celebrations. There is, of course, a prize for the winners.
Yes, that is my white arm there. 🙂 Probably the only one in the whole school. Ha.
 So after eating all those ghee-based sweets and rounding up my sand covered girls, I headed home to help Lila open gifts, make lunch, and get back to my normal life.

Just Some Random, Recent Stuff

Logan:

Logan’s last day of school was a celebration in preparation for the Dussehra holidays. (See link below in Lila’s section. I’m writing the post in reverse and wrote about Lila first.) They were also celebrating Grandparent’s Day, but since Logan doesn’t have any grandparents here with us, I was invited to come.

We made our handprints on a large sheet of paper.

There was a huge display of animals and Hindu idols. Each of the kids contributed 2 animals and Logan is still concerned about his. They are labled though, and he will get them back later.

Having a snack.

We left shortly after that because I had to pick Lila up, and besides, I wasn’t interested in joining the Hindu prayers part. 

Lila:

You know how we’ve had so much rain this past week? Well, yesterday morning we finally got some sun and I decided to take the kids out in the morning. Good thing too because it poured later. It was also one of the many days in the festival of Dussehra, a Hindu celebration. One of the things Hindus use a lot in their worship and celebrations is a ringing bell. It has a tinkling, sort of jingly sound, and we hear it a lot because most of our neighbors are Hindus.

As I was getting Lila ready to go out, she hears one of these bells ring and stops in her tracks.

“Do you hear it, Mommy?”

“What?”

“It’s Santa’s bells!”

She was dead serious. She ran to her bedroom window to look outside, so sure that was what she was hearing. I thought it was odd because I have not told my kids that Santa is real. I’ve told them he is a symbol of Christmas and represents the joy and fun of the season, but I don’t want them to believe in something, only to have their hopes dashed in the future.

So I reminded her, “You do know Santa isn’t real, right?”

“But, Mommy, I hear the bells.”

As she looked out the window, I heard them too and of course knew what they were. So I explained that the neighbors use the bell because that is what they do in their religion when they are praying. She just went “Oh” and that was that.

I wonder what was going through her mind at that time, though. Was she wondering if Santa really was real? Did she expect to see cartoons come to life?  Both she and Logan have expressed the desire to be in a cartoon. Yes, actually in a cartoon, interacting with the characters.

I just asked Logan what cartoon he would like to be in and why. He want’s to be in “Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo” so he can play with Roo. Lila wants to be in “Finding Nemo” so she can play with Nemo and the sharks will get her. Ha. My crazy kids.

Scarlett:

She is now a 2 year old in every sense of the word. I’ll write a longer post about her for her birthday, but right now I’m gonna write some of the things she says.

It mys – It’s mine! Anytime she wants anything.

1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10 is how she counts.

She has figured out how to lecture Logan when he doesn’t listen to me: “No, Loden (she used to call him Doden), top be naty!” said in a stern voice with finger wagging. 🙂 (Say it out loud if you don’t know what she is saying.)

I hongy – how she lets me know she’s ready to eat.

There is never a dull moment with them around.

School Holidays + Monsoon = Perfect Recipe for Pulling My Hair Out

It is pouring rain, yet again, as I sit down to write. The kids are taking a late nap since they got up late. You see, school is out and the winter monsoon is here. Logan’s last day of school was last friday and Lila’s was last tuesday; both have holidays until the 28th with school starting again on monday the 29th.

Watching the rain.
We had grand plans for what we would do with 2 weeks of holidays. We were going to go to multiple parks, have picnics, go to the botanical gardens again, and perhaps even the zoo, plus a few malls. Ha. Wendesday morning the pouring began and it has yet to let up. Oh it stops for a short while but then it pours again. There is nothing quite like being woken at 5 a.m. by a thunderstorm and Scarlett crying to get into your bed.
So we have been housebound since wednesday. Not fun. The temperatures have dropped too, and I find myself wearing a sweater all day. Yesterday the high was supposed to be 29 deg.C but I don’t think it got up to there. Today is even cooler. Yet in the house we still need the fans, albeit on low or else it feels hot from the humidity. The evenings have cooled down enough that we no longer need the air conditioners. (And if you are thinking that is hot, summers around here get over 40C!)
They insisted on the hoods, even though it isn’t that cold.
Every few hours the rain starts and stops, slows and speeds up. This has resulted in flooding in the city, since the storm drains are never clear enough to keep floods at bay. While the summer monsoon is more sporadic, with ligher rainfall and still warm enough to make you want to run outside and cool off, this rain is colder and soaks you through.

Yesterday afternoon it cleared a little and there was even a hint of sun, so we went to the mall near our house. Of course it had to pour while we were there, but at least it was a change. And we barely made it home in time before it began raining again!

Here are a few pics from the mall.
Matching outfits – while they will still let me. 🙂

Wow, I just realised how much Scarlett looks like I did at that age!

 They always want to visit the jewelry shop that has a fish tank in the floor.

Feeding the fish.

I think they are Koi and there were some new ones, huge black catfish that were a good 12″ or more.

 Our next stop is always Landmark. They sell books, toys, stationary, movies, games, etc. and they have a Lego display for the kids to use. I snuck these photos cause I wasn’t sure if they had a no photography rule.

“Mommy, come see what I made!”

 The mall routine always involves multiple escalator rides, and then they want ice cream at some point. When I can afford it, I take them to a nice ice cream shop that sells scoops by weight and they have some amazing flavors; when I can’t, we go to McDonalds. Ha. Cones are cheap (rs.15 each) and they don’t care that there is only one flavor available.

She was looking so cute I took too many pics.

Today I tried to clean the house a little and the kids made sure to really be at each others throats, hence the late nap. I’ve been trying to keep them busy but they only last so long and then are begging to go outside. The problem is that there is nowhere dry to go play; parks and playgrounds are flooded, as are many streets. Walking is not an option. So I will again today put on music and try to get them to dance or run, and they will jump and fall all over each other on a mattress on the floor, and I will pray my sanity stays intact long enough to survive another week.

Here is a cute video I got of Scarlett last week. Notice how she has also inherited daddy’s singing ability.

I love how she goes up a key at the end and then goes back to the song. In case you didn’t catch that, she is singing “Old Macdonald” but it is her own version. She is saying “had a, had a cow, EIEIO, had a, had a pig, EIEIO. Neigh, neigh here, neigh neigh there.” Then repeat. 🙂

Lazy Saturday

It’s been a while since we had a lazy day. I often spend saturday cleaning and the kids spend most of it watching t.v. or playing, but they had been asking to go to the large park next to Lila’s school so we went this morning.

Since it is so close to home (5 minutes by auto) we left at 10:30 and spent a good 2 hours playing there. Being October, the weather has cooled down considerably. During the hotter months you don’t want to be out after 11 a.m. but today the high was not too bad at 35 deg.C, so long as we stayed in the shade. (If that sounds terribly hot to you, remember that our summer this year was 43 deg.C. and extremely humid.)


Logan is getting bolder with climbing.
This one has always been a monkey. 🙂

This is the first time they’ve climbed this on themselves.

She stuck with her favorite – the swings.

“Mommy, come take my picture.”

 After we finished at the park, we headed across the street to a bookstore/giftshop and picked up a few discount books – some paint with water books, a book of poems, a Richard Scarry story (they love those), and a special Winnie the Pooh one that I am saving for Christmas. They’ve been asking for that one for a while and I grabbed it now because it was the last one there.

The whole time Logan was asking for strawberry ice cream and I was wracking my brain trying to think of a place in the immediate area that served ice cream. Then I remembered a place that was only a short distance away that we had seen numerous times but had never been in. It is a small shop that serves ice cream sundaes and special drinks, but the attraction is that it is called Ice Age and is full of the movie characters.

Mommy dino!

 Scarlett found the 3D wall art scary and refused to let me put her down so I had to hold her the entire time we were in the shop. She does love the Ice Age movies though. I guess these looked to big and real for her.

Enjoying their strawberry ice cream.

The opposite walls were all mirrored so it looked much larger than it was.

Best way to get a group pic.

Lila says goodbye to Mama dino.

And upon arriving home at almost 2 p.m., all kids went straight to bed and are still sleeping now. No cooking (yet) today. Yep, it was snack foods for breakfast and ice cream for lunch. Not bad, huh? I will make them a good dinner – homemade pizza.

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