Monday, August 27, 2012

Indian Drink Debacle

Here we are ready to sample our first taste of homemade Indian treats. We searched through many recipes and settled on Aam Panna. Aam Panna is a mango drink with mint and other spices. Since we love all things Mango (and they happened to be on sale at our local grocery store this week), this was an ideal option for us. 

We started with six green mangos. 

The next step is to boil the mangos. This step really surprised me as I have never boiled them before, but I dropped these green beauties in and turned up the heat. 

The part that surprised me the most was the color change. I don't know why I was surprised, most foods change color when cooked, but for some reason I was surprised to see the bright green turn to a dull olive green tone. 

I then peeled the mangos and pitted them. The recipe that I was following said to mash them with a spoon, but they were way too tough for that. I decided to puree them in the blender.

This next step was one that had me worried. We were to add cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, mint and water. We like all of these ingredients, but combining them seemed a bit strange.

Ingredients added.  

 Well they looked delicious...

Sadly, this Aam Panna earned thumbs down all around. The sweet and savory flavors did not mix as well as we had hoped. The upside is that we decided that if we put it in the freezer and pull it out on a cold winter's evening add some more savory ingredients, perhaps some black beans, it will make a delicious soup. Yes, that's right a drink that we anticipated would taste sweet and yummy with those beautiful green mangos will become a savory soup some cold night in the future. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Indian Animal Art Adventure

Sometimes you have an idea and it seems like the best idea ever. Sometimes, those ideas get shot down quick. Sometimes the outcome is as good as the vision. Other times, the idea gets taken down bit by bit and you are left having to either abandon your idea or modify it and hope for the best. This story is of the latter. 

While trying to come up with a good India craft, I thought it would be a lot of fun to try to create some batik fabric. Since we like to incorporate some of our other lessons into our crafts. We were going to make batik with animals on it. 

Just having this idea should have made me realize that we'd need a back up plan. Batik is an art form that is practiced and mastered, and here I was about to attempt to make it with a 5 and 7 year old. 

What's more is I had decided to try use silk and to dye it with kool-aid. As we were gathering up our supplies, we were unable to find the wax, not a huge shock considering our location, but still pretty disappointing. Then, we couldn't find any silk. I did however find some "silky" material on clearance for $1.50 yd. Such a good price, I bought 2 yds (I'm sure I'll find a use for the rest). We picked out some kool aid and I decided that we could use glue as a resist. Water based craft glue, if we waited for it to dry, then we could dye our fabric, then wash the glue out. Since I had bought some extra material, I decided to do a test run. The kool aid went right through the fabric and left barely a hint of color on the fabric. *sigh* 

Finally, I had another idea. Acrylic paint, over craft glue on our not silk silky fabric. It's almost the same as batik right???

Eliana making tigers.
Aiden making snakes.
My elephants.
Letting these dry was a hard test of patience. We wanted to get right to painting them, but the glue was thick, the fabric was thin and the table cloth underneath was vinyl. Ultimately, they sat overnight to dry. 

The next step was to paint them. 

Then, letting them dry again. Wet paint, thin fabric, vinyl table cloth....

I know this picture looks a bit weird, but the table cloth is yellow, the red, blue, etc are the painted cloths drying. 
Mine was dry first, so I eagerly rinsed off the glue... and the paint. The fabric was certainly stained or dyed as I had hoped it would be, but it came out very pale and I was bummed that the color didn't "stick" better. I decided to leave A & E's  and see if letting the paint stay on longer would make a difference. 

Indeed it did! Success! It took more elbow grease to get the glue and the thicker layers of the paint off, but the finished products are colorful and beautiful. 

Eliana's finished Tiger. (The title picture is also one of her tigers, from the middle of the piece of fabric.)
Aiden's finished snake. 
I had hoped to be able to photograph each entire piece of fabric for you so you could see them in their entirety, but being that far away with the camera lost the details of the designs. All you could see were the colors, so you'll have to take my word for it when I tell you that they look fantastic. 

The moral of this story. The first plan might fail. The second plan might fail. If you keep trying and really exercise your patience, you will be rewarded with beautiful works of art. Or, just read a blog like this and let them (me) experience all of the fails for you and you can just skip right over all of that. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Surprise Sequel To Our Adventure

In my last post, I shared with you photos from our visit to see Eartha (man, she really was impressive!) Then because I had so much fun and wanted to share the delight with you, I picked up a couple of small souvenirs and offered them up in the form of a giveaway to one lucky reader. The winner of that giveaway is KatieCoffee and she said,"Here in Portland, OR, they set the Guinness record for most number of people wearing sombreros with over 1000 people wearing them on Cinco de Mayo this year. There was also a, "world record attempt for flying lawn chairs." Not sure how that turned out..." Congrats Katie!

After leaving Eartha, we headed further South in Maine to The Portland Children's Museum for a day out with the littles. I was both shocked and thrilled to discover that on their second floor they feature a section that is dedicated to a country from around the world and I was even more delighted to learn that the country that they are featuring right now is also the country that we are learning about, India! 

In a place like this, there are kids running wild. I mean, WILD! So in order to make sure that we didn't lose one of our littles, we split up. Preston was chasing  watching one while I was chasing watching the other. We switched back and forth so that we didn't miss the fun with either of them. For this part of the tour, I was on "Eliana Duty", so sadly, there aren't pictures of Aiden learning about India (I'll explain this further in just a few), but I assure you, he also experienced these fun things. 

The first part that Eliana and I discovered was a little room that had a table with Hindu Gods and Goddess in a puzzle like manner. You could lift the god/ goddess of your choice and read about them. Naturally, I had to read each and every one of them. 

It was ridiculously hot in there as you can tell by El's rosy cheeks and shiny skin. 
There was a small shrine with a mini buddha and a pretty sari, along with some lovely little flowers. There were several books as well, I started to pick them up and look at them, but I couldn't. I just couldn't bring myself to think of all of the India books that I had to turn away from, even though I borrowed so many from the library, as I mentioned in the library post.

The next thing that we discovered was that there were stations spread around the India space that had a little button to push and you could hear how to count in Hindi. 

They also had a small area that was set up like a play kitchen, complete with several spice jars and lots of beautiful saris. Behind a shield of plexiglass, there was a presentation of Indian spices. 

Inside another glass case there were Rajasthani Puppets. 

Right in the center of this section featuring India is a giant globe (clearly, no where near as magnificent as Eartha, but still quite cool). This globe has a button that you push and it begins to blow air so that you can turn spin the globe. There are barcodes on many of the countries and when you spin the globe to line up the bar code with a code reader, a little television comes on and features a child who lives in Maine that is either from the country that you have selected, or has relatives from the country that you've selected (like a parent or grandparent). This was really fun, and while we would have loved to have scanned every single barcode on that globe, there were other kids eagerly awaiting their chance to spin the globe. 

Aiden Spinning the Globe... El NiƱo Spins The Globe???
If I had known before going to the museum that India would be featured, I would have been sure to bring an extra memory card for my camera, this way, I could have gotten more pictures that included both of my littles in the India "room". I also would have likely not dressed Eliana in her Frida shirt. It seems a little weird to look at pictures of her experiencing India while wearing clothes that feature a Mexican artist, no? 

All in all it was a fun day. Starting with Eartha and moving on the museum. It felt very enriching and the littles were delighted with both adventures. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Going To See The World and A Giveaway!

We woke up early Sunday morning to head out on an adventure. We headed to Yarmouth, Maine to the DeLorme Map Store. Why is this exciting (beyond looking at a whole bunch of beautiful maps and other fun stuff)? Because The Map Store is the home to the world's largest rotating globe. She is magnificent and her name is Eartha. 

Eartha lives one hour from our home and we have driven by her many times. We have been in awe of her beauty as we pass by her while driving on the highway, but for some reason we had never stopped. Today that changed. Today, Eartha was not just something we drove by but an adventure that we drove to. 

She is housed in a room surrounded by windows, so before we even went in to really see her in all of her glory, I posed my kids in front of her windows and snapped a photo. 

Can you see how big she is?!?!? 

My littles hanging out "in" the South Pacific. 
I felt like a kid, seriously. I Wanted to take pictures of her every angle. We discussed which continents we were looking at and tried to narrow down specific countries. We even found the edge of "the elephant ear" which meant we found India, our current destination. 

Since I mentioned already how I felt like a kid, you can imagine how excited I got when I saw that we could go upstairs and see Eartha from another angle. Not just one more story, but two!!! That's means there are three levels to get to know Eartha! 

Here is the view from the second floor. 
I know, I know. She really is incredible isn't she?

View from the top floor.
You might be asking yourself, since Eartha is a globe, how does she rotate? As you can see in the picture below, she has an axis that sits underneath her holding her up and slowly turning her to display her beauty.

If you live near Eartha and you drive by her often as we did, for goodness sake, stop and see her next time you're passing through Yarmouth! 

***You can visit The DeLorme website here and read more about Eartha here. ***

Are you having fun yet! I am, and I think the fun might only be getting started. I had so much fun that I decided to get you a souvenir! Ok, well I WANTED to get each one of you a souvenir, but I only got one. So that means it's giveaway time. See the details below to enter to win an Eartha Tote, an Eartha Folder, a card with a photo of the DeLorme Store displaying Eartha with Eartha facts on the back, and a map bookmark. 

This little group of goodies could be yours! 
Here's how to win (and other rules and such):

- Comment Below telling us what Guinness Book World record holder is closest to your home (If you don't know or don't want to google it, just comment about how impressive Eartha is ;)) 

- Please, only one entry per person.

- I will use Random Number Generator at 8:00 am EST on Thursday August 16, 2012. Then, I will notify the winner. The winner's name will be posted on my facebook page along with a brief announcement in the next blog post. 

-The winner will have 24 hours to claim the prize and if it goes unclaimed, I will use RNG to select a new winner. 

-Sorry, I can only ship to addresses in The United Sates. :( 

- Please share this with your friends, because giveaways are fun and your friends will be happy that you shared it! Thanks a bunch! 

This giveaway is not sponsored by DeLorme and DeLorme is in no way responsible for any part of this giveaway. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading India

After a fun filled day of catching a movie, then hiking a nature trail and having a picnic lunch with friends, we made our trek to the library. It's a little early in the month for this, but our Panama books were due back and while we were there, we decided to get our India books. 

Some months, we hit the library and scour the shelves and leave with very few books or options. This month is not one of those months. I actually had to decide to leave some books behind. I mean, how many books about India can we read anyway? (Truth be told, probably all of them, but I try to make things a little less intense for my littles.) Anyway, as it is, I walked out of the library with six books. Yes, six. Since today was a long busy day for my littles, we only managed to read two of them after bathtime. So, I am going to tell you about those two and as the we work through the rest, I will tack reviews on to the end of other posts. Deal? Ok, good. 

The first one that we read was called "Elephant Dance, Memories of India" By Theresa Heine. It is about a grandfather who tells stories of living in India to his inquisitive grandchildren. This story teaches about the climate, "A rainbow in India, Ravi beta, is seven silk saris hung across the sky to dry..." it tells about geography, "'Is there snow in India, Grandfather?' said Ravi. 'Yes, Ravi. High in the north are the Himalaya Mountains. The snow on their tops is a giant ice cream, very cold and white, melting on your tongue.'" 

The story moves through family dinner, consisting of daal, fish and many wonderful spices, then focuses on Grandfather telling of elephants walking in a procession for the feast of Divaali. After dinner, the children sit down with their Grandfather and make a map, where Grandfather tells more of the geography, "'The shape of India,' said Grandfather, ' is the ear of an elephant." They discuss other wildlife and geographical landmarks. 

In the back of the book, there are five pages of facts, ranging from geography and religion, to animals and food. This book has made it to my top ten list (well, if I had a top ten list, it would be there). I absolutely loved this story and so did my littles. Wonderfully told with love from a grandfather to his grandchildren, we learned so much about India. 

The next book that we read is called "One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale" Retold By Demi. In this folktale, a village woman outsmarts the raja. 

The village people are going hungry and the raja refuses to give them rice, even though they gave him rice to keep in the event of a famine. The villager notices rice falling from a basket on it's way to the raja and when she gathers it up, she returns it to the raja, he in turn wants to reward her. He promises to give whatever she asks. She asks for one grain of rice today and then double the grains tomorrow, and each day for the next thirty days, she asks him to double to number of grains given the day before. 

This story follows as the raja initially feels that this woman is foolish for asking for such a small reward, but by the end of the thirty days, the raja sees all of the rice that he has stored being given to the villager, who in turn shares it with with the entire village. 

What a fantastic story! We found so many lessons tucked away in this one. First of all, the obvious mathematical aspect of multiplication, so fun to watch the grains of rice increase to such a large amount so fast. Then, the importance of keeping ones word, the value of being humble and the true gift in being charitable. 

Both of these books are highly recommended by this Mamacita and her littles. We are super eager to read the rest of out library finds. 

We have a fun outing planned for this weekend and I will be sharing the details of that with you on Monday. Until then, have you read either of these books? I'd love to hear your thoguths on them! Do you have a top ten book list, or does it change almost daily? If you have not read them, but decide to check out either of these books, I'd love to hear from you too! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

India, Here We Come!


I am super excited to tell you that our next destination is India. We have made our construction paper flag and I have some fun stuff planned for the month, I hope you'll follow along and see what we're up to! 

If you remember, not long ago, I posted about how hard it is to get my littles to cooperate for a photo (see it here). Generally, I have a great shot of one of them, but the other is blurry, or eyes closed, or refusing to smile. You get the idea. Well, today was no exception. For some reason the flag photos are the hardest for them. I'm not sure if it's because we only have one flag and they don't really know how they can both be a part of the picture, or maybe because I am only asking for one and the pressure gets more intense. Whatever the reason, there are always a kazillion "not good" pictures for the one that I post. Today while trying to get the perfect one, Aiden had a "surprise" sneeze and it made both of my littles giggle uncontrollably. Here is one of the giggle shots, there is nothing better than the sound of little laughter. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Nod To The Olympics

Olympics. Olympics. Olympics everywhere. I think I got it. I think I know why...

Here is the actual link to the Kid World Citizen page where you can link your own Olympics post. Oh and if you do, share your link with us in the comments.  
Several weeks ago when Kid World Citizen posted this on my facebook page, I wasn't sure if I was going to join in the fun. I mean, on one hand what a great opportunity to get my blog out there a little bit (and what blogger doesn't want that?), but on the other... The Olympics has always been, in my mind, "just" sports, and while we are a very active family, we are not an athletic family. We know nothing about sports and to compose a blog post that was about sports seemed like trying to write a blog post about quantum physics, I just don't get it. 

As that day wore on, I started thinking about how we had read The Magic Tree House book, Hour of The Olympics when we learned about Greece, our very first country of this virtual tour.  I thought about how the very first Olympics were connected to a country that we had learned about, THIS in and of itself seemed like a good reason to do a quick stop at home between countries to talk about The 2012 Summer Olympics. 

THEN, (yes, there's more) I thought more and more about what The World Olympics really meant. I started to feel like it really wasn't about sports per se, as much as 204 countries from around the world, uniting in one location to compete on a platform which instills pride and camaraderie, and is not violent. When these thoughts came to my mind, I felt a great sense of pride flood into me. We are fortunate to live in a world full of countries that can put aside political disagreements, religious disagreements and philosophical disagreements to come together and create something so incredible. Something so beautiful. These athletes are creating a uniting level of pride and joy among not only their home country, but the world. As far as I can see, this is the closest thing to World Peace that I have been witness to. I know that sounds "hokey", but think about it. All around the world there are people sitting and watching. Yes, cheering for their home team, but all around the world, people are doing the same exact thing. To me this sounds like a quiet hush in the differences around the world. That is what I mean when I say that the world has been united.

Naturally, after analyzing the games to such a degree, I couldn't just skip over it. I wasn't sure what we might do, I have been trying to come up with a brilliant Olympics tribute for weeks. I have intentionally avoided other bloggers posts about what they are doing, because I didn't want to be influenced by other people's ideas. I wanted us to have our own. (I'm psyched to go look at them now!)

I gathered my littles around the table and we discussed The Summer Olympics. We talked about which sports were in the olympics. We talked about which countries were participating. They were blown away that 204 countries were competing! While, I never did have a great big idea of some crazy awesome activity for us (though I did contemplate trying to get my littles to put together a synchronized swimming routine, that was nixed when I remembered that we don't have a pool and they have only been to four swimming lessons). 

Aiden was the one who had an idea. He was really excited about it and since I hadn't come up with anything anyway, we went with it. He wanted to sculpt an archer, using the Crayola Model Magic that we got for our Panamanian Frogs project. Eliana opted for a swimmer. 

Olympic Swimmer 2012- Eliana
Summer / "Sumeer" Olympics 2012. 
I hope that you are all enjoying the Olympics and that you have taken at least one moment to realize how incredible it truly is for this many countries to meet together and create something that can bring the world together and fill it with pride. 

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