Wednesday, April 29, 2009


More than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baking with kids-chaotic but fun!

We bought an oven around a month back but never baked anything (did not even unpack it properly) until day before yesterday when I finally decided that we should bake once to check whether the oven is running properly. Fortunately,I had bought cake baking ingredients and accessories when I bought the oven and so I did not have to run to the shop to get anything. I downloaded a simple cake recipe from the net,printed it and all of us started the process of baking,much to the delight of our kids. My daughter was more excited than my son because she has done baking in school and so she could relate to it. My son, at two,is maybe too young to understand the fun of baking.

This is the recipe that we followed:

Recipe for Simple White Cake


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

My daughter,with my guidance,measured out the dry ingredients (with measuring cups) and I must say I was quite disorganized about assembling the ingredients on our dinner table which is where we set out to do the preparations. After creaming the butter and sugar and mixing in the eggs I discovered that I hadn't brought the vanilla essence and the baking powder and ran to get them. Faisal was preparing the batter in the mixer (which is also newly bought) and he got quite worked up when our inquisitive toddler kept trying to get very close to the equipment and even tried to put his hands inside the batter while the mixer was on!

We had switched the oven on and finally the batter was ready.I put the batter inside a square mould and put it in the oven for baking hoping that everything will turn out well. However, after fifteen minutes my maid said that she could smell something burning and I rushed inside the kitchen to check what was wrong.I discovered that Faisal has mistakenly chosen the "grill mode" and heat was only coming from the top.So I changed it to "baking mode". After thirty minutes I took the cake out and inserted a knife inside to check whether it was done but though the outside looked brown,inside the cake was still uncooked.And so it went inside again.

After 10 minutes it was done and I took it out.Faisal and the kids came rushing to see the end product and to taste it (even though it was too hot). I quickly poured tha cake on a plate and sliced it. We each took a slice and to our surprise it tasted just fine.It was a bit dry and a bit burnt on the top but it still tasted good!And even though the recipe says that it's a white cake,it was not white at all!

I think baking is a fun activity to do with kids...they can learn about teamwork and also about the "science behind cooking". It also teaches them about mathematics through measurements and additions. Following a recipe is a step-by-step process which gives them a good practice in following instructions.

I think next its going to be a gingerbread man,if the recipe is not too complicated, because my daughter still holds a grudge against me for eating up the gingerbread man that she baked in school last year!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Result of yesterday's letter

I went to drop off Aadu and there his teacher said she wanted to talk to me. I said I will wait outside so that she can come and talk when she is free. She came out in a couple of minutes and told me that she read my email and was really shocked to know about the surgery etc. She also said that the eating time is a good 45 minutes and that yesterday she had sat down with Aadi and made him finish his bread and cheese. She said all these facts about Aadi should have been told to her much earlier.
I was wondering when I should have done each morning the teachers are busy greeting the kids and one does not want to interfere with routines (especially now that the kids are getting used to a certain way). I feel a better and formal way of doing this would be to have a parent-teacher meeting one week before school starts. The parents can tell/inform the teacher about their child's previous schools, eating habits, what he/she enjoys doing etc and most importantly any health related issues. Better still would be to hand over a questionnaire to the parents to fill in, and these go directly to the teacher.
We did fill up a length and detailed admission form and also a 5-6 pager Medical Form. But looks like the school office has not shared this information with the class teacher.
I am going to prepare a brief write up about Aadi for all his future schools or classes within the same school; and hand it over to his class teacher on the 1st day of school.

I told her about not giving Aadi any 'special' attention, and that he should be treated as any other child in the class. Only thing is to make him feel welcome and safe in the class.

Chalo one thing has been taken care of and I feel like a burden has come off my head.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did I do the right thing? An email to Aaditya's Class Teacher

Reference : Aaditya Sawaikar KG-1 Daisy

Dear Teacher,

I am writing to you regarding my son Aaditya in your 'Daisy' class.

I am concerned about him crying when I/his dad come to drop him off to his class. I know it is too early and that eventually he will settle in and not cry; but I wish to draw your attention to some facts about him that will enable you to handle him better in a way that he will also love going to school.

1. Aaditya has attended 2 schools previously, one in Singapore and the second one is KL, Bangsar. Both followed the Montessori method. We chose GIIS only because it follows the same method.

2. In both previous schools, Aaditya was used to being greeted by his teachers who took him into class, welcomed him with a warm hug and assured him that he is going to have a great time while mommy was gone. He loved all his previous teachers and schools.

3. Aaditya has undergone an open heart surgery in August 2008. He is medically fit to attend school and carry on activities like any child his age. Why I am telling you this is because he has not been away from us (parents) since his surgery days. He has spent 5 days in the ICU, which were very horrifying for him as there were no family members allowed there. He may be seeing the current separation at his school in the same light as his experience at the hospital. That is why he needs more attention and love from his teachers, and they need to constantly make him feel safe and loved.

4. Aaditya needs to be told to eat his 'solid' snack before the drink is given to him. He by nature loves drinks, and then refuses the solids. I request the teacher to not hand him his drink until he has finished his solid food. He is a slow eater, so I also request the teacher to let him take his time in eating. Why I am stressing his eating is because of his surgery and we don't want him to lose weight, on which front he is already lower than average children his age.

5. Aaditya loves books, drawing, painting, dancing, singing. He is a very social boy, and makes friends very easily. He loves to entertain people around him. He is very loving and a joy to be around with. He listens to everyone who talks to him in a calm and soft voice. Due to his previous schools he is used to being treated with respect, where we have to talk to him by going down to his level and make eye contact with him.

In writing this email, my only concern is my son. I want him to enjoy his school days just like we have. Having studied in the best educational institutions in India I know what good schools and good teachers are, and having enrolled Aaditya in GIIS I am sure I have made the correct decision for him.

I would appreciate if the teacher gives me feedback about Aaditya, what I should do at home to make this school-going easier for him. After all you all are professionals in the education field. I welcome feedback, suggestions in all form.

Thanking you with warm regards,
Neelum Amol Sawaikar

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finger Puppets

I picked up a number of animal finger puppets from IKEA a few weeks back and both my kids just love them.I use them when I tell them animal stories and I think they make the story come alive.They also take the finger puppets and try them on their fingers and carry on imaginary conversations!

I think finger puppets are more handy during story-telling than hand puppets because a number of characters can be used simultaneously. Try using them in storytelling and give us the feedback!

Again I have so much to tell....

Hey folks, I know I had again done the disappearing act....I might just turn into a magician very soon !!
But you know what...I had an amazing time these past days...firstly my brother was here from 3rd...and we had a great time with him....we went to watch the F1 at Sepang, and this was our first we were little prepared for the noise was very very very very very very noisy and very very very very very very LOUD...thankfully there were these beautiful babes with headphones, we bought one for Aadi, coz he was was most troubled by the noise and also coz the headphones cost a whopping 100 RM!!
We had tickets to the Mall Area which is supposed to be with a good view and is covered (read expensive..each ticket cost 500 RM) no no we did not pay that much....we found someone who gave us some amazing discounts on the tickets ;)
We went for the qualifying as well as the race day....more details and photos will follow in an exclusive F1 post !!

Around that same time a long lost friend of mine appeared on Orkut !! we were friends since Junior College, and it was so good to be back in touch....and actually I had been looking high and low for her, and then had given up thinking that if only she gets on to Orkut or Facebook do we have a chance of meeting up...and there she u Veda !!

Another major thing that happened in the past days is that Aaditya's school started and we had a super time getting him ready for school, I think we were more excited than him !!
We had some trouble with the school van: what happened was that on the 3rd day of school, the van was late and the driver (lady) dropped the kids only at the school gate and went off to drop the secondary school kids which is located away from the primary section. Now since they were already late, the otherwise good kids of my condo did not bother to send Aadi to his class and he was wandering around in the school campus...luckily Amol's co-worker saw him and sent him to his class. We got calls from him and another lady telling us about our wandering son....we were horrified, we immediately got ready and went off to the school to sound our disgust at this hopeless and careless service being given to us. We spoke to the Director Manojh Nair, and he placed a call to the contractor who said he would check and let him know. He too was surprised how a driver could leave a KG-1 child at the gate !!
Anyways the next day was also same, so we decided to drop him to school ourselves...and maybe next term or even in a couple of months he can start the school van.
But the downside of this exercise is that Aadi is crying when it is time to say bye at the class door...and it is heartbreaking to watch him cry :(
Another downside is that I hardly get any 'me-time' in the morning, as we get home by 8 then I go to the gym and return in half an hour, make Amol's lunch and then he's gone by 9 and then I have to make mine and Aadu's lunch...and then do the odd house-work and again be ready by 11:30 to go and pick him up !!
So all the people who told me that 'now that Aadi is in school you will have plenty of time for yourself''s not true !!!!!!!!!!!!
I know this is the way it is going to be for some time now and I really have to plan my day as best as possible to make way for my writing...coz writing is also my escape and a totally 'me time'.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some local magazines which I like

I find reading magazines is much easier when you are a busy mother than reading a novel. It requires less concentration and still gives you important information while satisfying your desire to read.
These are a few of my favourite magazines in Singapore:

  • Shape :I like this as it contains a wealth of information on health and exercise.I find the weightloss stories very inspiring and whenever I want to drop pounds I go through the weightloss stories to motivate myself to eat well & exercise. The exercises in some issues are quite "doable" but in some issues the equipments are too elaborate! They do a write-up on healthy eating joints which I find very helpful.

  • Young Parents :I think this magazine is a valuable resource for parents of babies,toddlers,preschoolers and school age children.Apart from its excellent articles on child development, it will give you information on everything going on in Singapore for children and at the back you can get a list of schools and enrichment centres areawise.

  • Singapore Child: I get this magazine free fortnightly from my daughter's preschool and some of the issues contain good articles on child development and what enrichment activities parents can do at home.

  • Women's Weekly: I don't read this magazine regularly but it can give you information which may turn out to be very handy. For example, I was on the lookout for facials which provide a good value for money and I found it here.This magazine also contains articles on child development where experts answer parent's questions.

There are ofcourse magazines like "Her World" & "Simply Her" which I haven't tried yet but would like to try in future.