Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Appu - Flying High at Five!

Appu spent his fourth year like a busy bee flying along the garden of flowers, asking us to look at beauty everywhere - look at the green grass, look at this bridge, look at the fishes, look there's a bougainvillea. When out in the garden, he plucks flowers and runs to get them to me. "This pretty flower, this is for you Mama," he says.

A typical day of his life has a lot of seemingly idle but intensely thought-filled moments where he tries to make sense of how things work, why things happen. Questions are now often replaced by statements and I-know-thats and not-like-thats. 

On most afternoons after school, Appu stands dawdling in the balcony, hanging on the railings even though that act has been forbidden. Is he looking so intently at the kids playing cricket downstairs, or at the cars plying endlessly on the highway? Nah. He's looking at the electric wires, and wondering what this "LEC-tricity" is and how on earth it reaches the wires. He observes the four wires and decides to quiz Mama on what will happen if you touch it. (E-lec-tricity is LEC-tricity and Eraser is Raser, Advertisements are Advertation )

"You know, we can't see this LEC-tricity Mama." His eyes are still fixed on the transformer wires.

Then how do you know it's there?

"Well, It's like the wind Mama, we can't see it, but when it blows, we can feel it. Same way, we can feel electricity."

"Oh but touching it is dangerous thoughYou'll get an electric shock."

"But electricians never get a shock, Mama. Even I won't get a shock. Mama, you'll get a shock if you touch the wire. Even Achan and Cayu will get a shock, but not me. I am strong because I eat vegetables. I have no shock so I can touch the wires. So I can be an electrician." 

Sometimes, he has "God" questions. Did God make everything we see? Did God make the earth? Why is he so big? Where's this heaven? I want to go there, shall we? Why is Krishna blue? Is he actually blue in color? I

Favorite dinosaur is Dimorphodon, which is actually a flying reptile. Earlier he favored the Tyrannosaurs Rex. He can teach me a thing or two about dinosaurs now, or why they are extinct now.

One of the most thoughtful things he came up with was that it's not nice, nobody must drink cow's milk because it belongs to some baby calf. Wouldn't the calf will be sad if he gets no milk? So it's not nice. But as usual he has a solution for the milkman to not upset the calf: "So you must not milk all the milk, leave some for the baby calf too!" Oh my sweetheart. The world is indeed a selfish place to live in. 

Where do babies come from? From your tummy? His curiosity wasn't sated. Mama once said she got her two babies from the hospital, but that's lame. Why's Mama giving such lame answers? Maybe she doesn't know. So he came up with this his own idea that babies climb up from the tummy by holding onto the food pipe and finally come out through the mouth when Mama vomits. "And then Mama, you thought puke is coming out, but then, you heard a small cry, and out came a baby!!" He says that with great big smiles and immense glee. "And that baby was me?!!!".Mama smiles and says yeah-yeah immediately. "But then, why, when the big kids from my school bus play baby-baby, the babies come out after the tummy is cut open?" Mama goes Arrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!! 

Appu's has his own version of the human life-cycle, which he likes to share at bedtime with his head resting in Mama's arm. "After sometime, I'll grow up a tiny bit, get into 1st standard, then grow up a bit more, get into 2nd standard, then grow a bit more…yada yada yada …get into 10th standard! Then I'll go to college, get a wife and two sons, I'll take my sons to the beach and teach them to cycle, go to IBM office. One day I'll become a grandfather and then after the grandfather is really really really old and tired, he'll become a dog."

Duh, a dog? How can a grandfather become a dog?

"Yes, that's the final thing." he says. "I think there's a man who'll come and teach the grandfather how to be a dog." Oh I think this has been interpreted already my son. It's interesting you are "thinking" up such things.


In the evening, Achan throws up a challenge for Appu to invent something new that’ll be of help to others as well. For a while, Appu stands thoughtfully tapping his forehead with his index finger … “I have an idea!!” he says, “Trash smells very bad. So let’s make a machine that removes bad smell from trash.”

“OK. So how do we go about it?” 

“You know, we’ll put the trash in that machine and it will take the bad smell away. It has a big hose…just like the one in that Lily’s book, Mama, where she has a big hose in the garden…and this hose will take the smell out of the trash, out of the earth and air and it’ll leave all the bad smell out in space.”

“But how can a machine know if it’s a bad smell or a good smell Appu?”

“It knows all that. It knows bad smell. The machine. If you put the trash in, it’ll take the smell away.”

“So what if the machine takes away all the good smells too? Like the fragrance of a rose?”

“If you put a rose inside the machine, it will take the rose smell away…through that hose…” Now Appu becomes tired of the incessant questioning and quite bored of playing the inventor, he drifts off to tumble with his little brother, who’s made a game out of rolling on the bed.

We read the poem the Mountain and the Squirrel at bedtime. The mountain boasts of its strength and might and laughs at the squirrel for being so puny and helpless. The squirrel retorts by reminding him that a mountain might be all that, but can the mountain crack a nut? Mama tries to make him see the moral, but Appu disagrees and goes ahead to prove that the mountain can indeed crack a nut. How? "Just place a nut on the top of the mountain, and make it roll all the way to the foot of the mountain and the nut will finally crack." Oh well!

He can play Lego blocks for hours together. Another passion is drawing and coloring which he does decently. I'll try to get him to color whenever I'm busy in the kitchen and once the job is done, he'll come by, asking me to take a look, and ask "Did you like it?" I would always try to give him constructive opinions, and he'd be so pleased and ask again: "Is it Mama? Seeing it, you became so happy, your eyes burst into blossoms???" OMG.

Sweetie, I just can't stop beaming when I think of you. Before you, my eyes have never quite imagined how it'd be like to literally have themselves burst into blossoms!! You, precious son, giving us big and little joys and saying such cute things! Well, on your birthday, I just want to thank you for making my eyes burst into blossoms all the time! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Milu!!

The day dawns fresh and beautiful, and as sunlight trickles in, it dawns on us that today is special, that you, the littlest member of our family, will be 2 years old today. As Achan Mama Appu huddle over you to pamper you with kisses and bring the world to you on your birthday, you unleash a barrage of words with your tiny mouth that makes us baby you all the more. Happy birthday to my darling Milu…you can't imagine how much we love you!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Appu turns Four!

* Loves music..especially the ones with a soft and soulful beat
* Loves to swing his bicycle to the tune of music, pedaling steadily when the music flows softly and swerving it according to the harmony as the music takes on a uplifting lilt or beat.
* Rough guy within the home zone and with neighbor friends, gentle at school
* Loves giving piggy-back rides in his bicycle to his little brother
* Fond of jeans, absolutely refuses to wear any other pant or shorts
* Favorite bed-time read is Unnikutante Lokam by Nandanar..Uttikutante story vayichhu tharuvo Mama? is his common bedtime request.
* Can't stand the word 'No', and will do exactly opposite of what's being told..His oft-used catchphrase is "No, NEVER, I will neva, neva, neva, neva do that!" 
* Digs numbers; the bigger the better..he changed his age on the birthday banner from 4 to 143 because he wants to be big. Current favorite number is 7 ("because it is so strong")
* Reads most sight words(two, three, four lettered)..quite comfortable with pre-reader books
* Enjoys listening to poems and rhymes.
* Crazy about Trucks..not so much into cars now
* Loves to play treasure hunt around the house
* Draws houses, stick figures...enjoys coloring..
* Learnt the trick of shading with pencil from somewhere and now he insists on shading the letters in his copywriting HW book..Now all the letters that he has traced are soo thick and sooo black and the pages look as if it's smeared in soot.
* Recently learnt to draw faces, enjoys drawing himself. He wanted to write "happy birthday" to himself in one of the caricatures, and it was spelled this way: "Hap Bade"..When he asked me if the spelling was correct, I mentioned casually that some letters seem to be missing. He immediately set out to correct it and came back with this: "Hape Baddee" ;)) I couldn't stop smiling so he quipped "But I added an extra e to fix it Mama!"

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Flashback..Summer 2013

Here is a glimpse of the arty-crafty stuff that Appu made over the last few months...

Appu has spent days doing nothing but coloring, oodles of coloring using his much-frayed crayons, of mainly characters or scenes from the books we've read; of course Mama was coaxed by Appu to draw them out so that Appu could color them!
Boy on a Apple Tree
The Gingerbread Man!



A Little House

Flashback time...These are some of Appu's first scribbles, done soon after he learnt how to hold a pencil.

First Activity from Nursery

And this one is probably his first free hand drawing...when asked what that apparition actually is, he said it's a "monster catching machine," which I figured is inspired from the "animal-catching machine" from the Dr. Suess book If I Ran the Zoo.
Monster-catching machine

We came across a neat way to learn to form 3 letter words using word families (-at, -an etc).




The original idea of the word family house is from The Measured Mom, which has been adapted a little to suit our fancy. Instead of making a reel/wheel of the starting letters, we went for a slider (colored yellow in the pic). Appu colored the house with gusto and glued whatever word-appropriate stickers were available at home. 

Finally, a little fun with kitchen math..french beans on a cutting board!
Kitchen Math

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday, Cayu!!


Dearer than dearest Cayu:

Honestly, mommy has been refraining from blogging about the amazing adventures of you, my beloved offspring #2 because, all this while, I failed to come up with a good enough nickname for you. Your first year has been nothing short of highly eventful, with enough exhilarating as well as heart-stopping moments. Even in the midst of all rumpus, mommy waited, drifting through wistful moments of longing to record you, knowing that some day, she would begin to write about your adventures over here. 


In the meantime, a couple of days ago, mommy was hit by an epiphany whilst chuckling heartily at a Calvin and Hobbes strip. A long, long time back, before you and your brother were born, mommy had sent a wish to the cosmos that her brood of babies be just as amusing, just as dear, as Calvin. So it has been a couple of days since the cloak of name confusion lifted, and your nick for this blog became crystal to me. You are hereby christened Calvin shortened to Cayu, or 'Cavava,' which is big brother Appu's unique twist to the name Calvin.

Despite being the littlest member of our family, you hold your own in a way so distinct, instantly charming your way into our lives in a manner so inexplicable and very magnetic. Your baby eyes would gaze at me for long, dripping with so much love, enveloping me with a warm fuzzy fondness that I can still recall very clearly. I have memorized your low, throaty cries as a newborn; on sleepless nights a few days after you were born, your vivid cries evoked in me a million shades of love.

I swear there might not be a moment in the last year when your big brother was not hovering around you, at least when he was homebound. To him, you are an item of perpetual amusement, he is all over you, thereby constantly testing all our limits by trying out experiments on you. He initially started with poking eyes, nose, sucking toes, pulling hair, legs and arms, and what not, but very soon learnt that those are not acceptable. He is a good learner that way (who am I kidding!:)). The newest thing he's attempting is snatching your toys away. And since you register your protest with a vociferous cry, he concedes after a short while and hands you back your property. Big brother loves you to bits in his own little ways, I can tell you that. He hates it when other people say they are going to take you away with them; he is highly protective of you. Once in an elevator, he somehow imagined that the person who was stepping out was carrying you away, and he panicked! How relieved his face was when he turned around to see you safe and snug in my arms! He's always watchful of you, whenever you stray to the NO-NO zones in the house, whenever you put bits of crayons or other forbidden pieces in your mouth; nothing ever escapes his eagle eyes. You laugh so much at his funny antics, and he comes running to me because he is proud of having made you laugh. The most amazing thing is that your big brother is also just a little boy of 3, but in the past one year, I have never once seen a shard of jealousy after you became a part of our family. I'm happy that you both will make amiable siblings, and as years pass by, may you have delightful memories together. Let the affection and respect for each other swell and flourish. May you two brothers build for yourself a sanctuary of endearing camaraderie and affection.


By now you know and will point out objects around the house. Usually Achan takes you on pop-quiz tour around the house. The very act makes you laugh so much in anticipation even before the actual game begins. You have so much fun extending your arm and leaning outward as you point out fan, light, keys, shoes, fridge, car, doggie, ball, balloon, Gaman the doll, Cat in the Hat, Appu...


Here's a list of names that Appu has bestowed upon you, yes, they are all the inventions/ creations of big bro Appu.: Cherry, Cherry Berry, Cheriyayi, Little Wai Wai, Wapampana Hi, Tinyfoot, Kunhi Kool, Tinnafut, Cavava.  

Big brother talks to you ONLY in an obscure singsong lingo which mommy and daddy cannot fathom. A secret language between the brothers. You seem to comprehend everything that he says, and can be seen responding to your big brother's cryptic verses by making appreciative noises. 

Appu: "Aki yana wai, cherryaayana wai..Aki yana wai wai wai.."
Cayu (all pleased and smiling): Mmmmmmmm Mmmmmmm

When you are very very pleased with your brother you extend a hand to rub his cheeks and run your palm over his hair and then give a short little lick on his cheek. Lovely you!

As soon as Appu comes from school, the first thing he demands to know is where his lil baby is: 
"Where's my Cawawa? Aaa Cawawa evide????" 
And as soon as you hear that exclusive lingo privy to you two, you come rushing, crawling at top speed from nowhere to greet him. The excitement at seeing and hearing your big brother is visible, writ large on your face. And if you happen to be asleep, big bro makes sure he loudly mumble the usual jumbo in your secret language, and you will wake up with a delighted smile in no time at all.

At 11 months, you are standing up and walking with support. At one time, it looked like you ready to walk and run, but apparently you are in no hurry, and neither are we. Scooting on all fours takes you to all the nooks you want to reach anyway lol. Talk about baby empowerment. You are alert even while sleeping, and once you stir in the nights, going back to sleep is not easy, you will not be pacified until and unless you get exactly what you have in mind at that particular time, like a cuddle, or milk, or rocking. And while you are drifting to sleep, you suddenly put one foot out and up and keep flailing it and waving it in the air till it hits something, like a pillow, or a wall..and once that happens, sleep is immediate, all movements stalled, leg still raised. This happens during every single sleep or nap time and is extremely hilarious to the onlooker.


Four teeth have made an appearance as of now. Top two and bottom two.. and I'd have to say this to you..stop biting you naughty lil mister..you love biting everything, including our noses. Ouch. You wake up very early in the morning, even before the three of us and get into action soon after, cooing and squealing with joy. As soon as you catch sight of your sleeping brother, you have to go to him and fall over him, pull his hair, and bite his nose..that's how you have been waking up a sleepyhead Appu in the past few weeks. This morning though, he beat you to it by waking up before you just in time to wish you a happy happy birthday. Your first ever. We had a gala time celebrating you today. Happy birthday, my golden one. 

Much Love,
Mama 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Growing Roots and Wings....

Appu is attending kindergarten in a big school from today. He was pretty vociferous in the days leading up to the D-day about his reluctance to go to school. A typical conversation since the last few days went like this:

Appu: I don't want to go to school. I don't like that school.
Mama: Chakkare, listen..look at this awesome new uniform of yours..soooo colorful! 
Appu: I don't like it!!
Mama: Mama will iron them for you and then dress you up with this nice, crisp white shirt and red shorts.
Appu: No, NO! (he'd thunder) I won't wear white shirt and red shorts.... I will wear t-shirt and jeans!! 
As I gasp, the edges of his mouth begin to quiver with a sudden smile as he imagines his own audacity of ditching the school uniform and going to class dressed in tee and jeans instead. (I will write in another post about his ongoing obsession with jeans pants and his disapproval of shorts because he thinks shorts is a kiddie outfit and jeans are for grown ups.)

Mama: You will board the school bus at 7.45 OK?
Appu: No, I don't want to go!
Mama: It'll be great fun..you'll get to ride in a really huge bus!! 
Appu: You come with me, Mama...please..please..
Mama: I want to, but the bus driver won't let me! He'll take one look at me and say STOP!!!!!! Where's your ID?? And then kick me out of the bus because poor Mama doesn't have a school ID!
Upon hearing this, the edges of his mouth would quiver into a little smile, that would widen as he plays out the dramatic scene in his mind. That's one bit he's mighty proud about ...getting to wear an ID tag!

And again, last evening, he was about to leave with his dad for getting his passport sized photos clicked for the school identity card, when I chime in with some unsolicited advice.
Mama: Appu, make sure you smile for the photo..ok...like this (pulling my mouth to a grin)
Appu: No! I will not smile. I will do like this..(he says, and then pouts his mouth into a comical frown. )
As I tease him, he can no longer put up the phony face. The edges of his mouth quivers, exposing a toothy grin that he tries very hard to hide... 

And thus, almost all our conversation in the last few days of summer holidays were centered around school, peppered with honest confessions from mommy's childhood as a lazy bum who had resisted going to school, and supercool daddy, who went to school without a whimper and studied in right earnest.

Finally, this morning, when the d-day dawned, Appu surprised me by being very brave. Ok...he did cry when we were dressing up. And he did storm out from the shower, flinging the uniform on the floor to show his great reluctance to wear it. But, he did not tear up as he said good-bye at the steps of the school bus. He sat stoically in the school bus with an expression that looked like quiet acceptance. The prep talk apparently worked. Deep down, he's pretty okay about going to school after all!

Update: When we picked him up this afternoon, he was happy and lively, raving about the puri and "yellow chutney" that the teachers gave him to snack. He complained that the two teachers gave him "nothing to play with, no blocks, no play area, no circle time, no crayons.." all the things that Mama had prepped him would happen at school. And some kid called him "Oye!" and he was curious as to what that means, and innocently tells me: "I didn't say anything to that Mommy!" LOL. Also, he proudly showed us the bus route # 49 that had been marked on his hand with a black marker and beamed "I am 49 years old!" Oh, okay buddy!

And then, he suddenly announces: "Mama...I don't know Malayalam, I know only English!" Puzzled as I was by this sudden shift of loyalties, I suspect that some teacher might have told him the same dialog when he started talking to her in Malayalam. Hah! I'm trying not to shudder at the extent of influence that a teacher's words can wield upon a child! And lastly, something to be happy about - he "claims" to have "consoled" a few crying kids by saying "Don't cry!"

It's just that the first day at school....sigh.. is bittersweet for the protective instinct in me. Come to think of it, from today onwards, a significant chunk of my carefree boy's day would be in the unknown vast confines of school and its activities, so far removed from me. Darn, thanks to today's widespread lack of human morals, I even had to do significant research about how to talk to a mere 3.9 year old about "stranger danger" and "good touch bad touch" without making him anxious or fearful in the least. 

But then, like all eager parents of school-goers the world over, we too are starry-eyed about this big new world of his. After all, schooling is supposed to do exactly what is figuratively envisioned in my blog's title - growing roots and wings. A confident, educated young man would be that coveted pot of gold that is waiting for us at the end of the schooling rainbow.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Conversations and Tidbits


Conversation with Grandma 

Once Appu had an episode of indigestion, got sick and threw up. He was quizzing grandma about what had just transpired with him, when she decided to pull his leg and tease him a little.
Grandma: Puke comes out through the nose, Appu.
Appu: No Ammu, it comes out through the mouth!
Appu (adding an afterthought): ....because food goes into our mouths, Ammu. 
Grandma: But Appu, when we eat, the food goes in through our nose!
Appu: Noooo Ammuuu, we can’t eat with nose because nose does not have tongue!

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One day, when Appu was being unbearably wild, I snapped.
Mama: I guess you'd like a new, different Mama then?
Appu (screams): Noooooooooooooooooooo! 
Mama: Why not?
Appu: Because that’s bad manners!

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We were reading Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, where the generous tree becomes an enabler by giving a selfish little boy all that it could practically give of itself... apples, branches, logs ,and so on. We were peering at the illustrations and I was asking random questions..
Mama: Appu, does the tree have money to give the boy?
Appu (emphatically): NO mama!
Mama: Why so?
Appu: Because the tree does not have pockets.

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Books we read today: