Monday, April 21, 2008

3rd annual weekend of LEGO® Fun at Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, NY

This weekend we went to the 3rd annual weekend of LEGO® Fun at Lyndhurst (a historic site overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown NY ). Here's a review for the readers.

The event featured master LEGO® Builder, Arthur Gugick and his New LEGO® buildings from around the world (, )demonstrations by award winning FIRST LEGO League Robotics Teams ( ), and most importantly for us activities and fun for kids. There were also LEGO creation displays by children.

Lyndhurst Mansion Replica (by Arthur Gugick)

Each of the rooms in the mansion had several Lego Creation displays of children varying from ages 3.5 to 12 years old. The displays gave a glimpse of the imagination and creativeness of the children. Here's a sample of a few of them.

Children's creations: 1





The second building had all of Arthur Gugick’s Lego creations at display. Gugick has been doing this for 40 years now. He was present at the event to answer any questions people had.
There was a huge room with several tables where children were busy making models with Lego that they could take home. There were raffles, prizes and all kinds of activities for the children.
The building was really crowded at that time (around 2.30 pm) and it was a little tough to move around or find a place to sit at the tables. As compared to the mansion, this building wasn’t too conducive for 2 year olds, but was fun all the same.

Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy (by Arthur Gugick)

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India (by Arthur Gugick)

Children's Lego Play Room 1


The mansion property grounds is huge and sprawling with lots of green grass and trees with blooming flowers everywhere. Children were running around, rolling down the sloping ground and having a great time with their parents.

All in all, it is definitely an event to take children of all age groups. Adults can go check out the mansion, or just get out on a beautiful spring day and play with their children on the grounds, and if you are a Lego enthusiast, that’s even better.

We had a great time. My daughter and her friend had a great time as well with the Lego show and also tiring themselves playing and running in the grounds in abundance.

This will definitely be on our list of places/events to visit annually and we would recommend this event to all parents.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zucchini and Carrot Chapati (Tortilla)

This was a preparation I came up for my daughter who refuses to eat her vegetables - Anita.

1 Zucchini
1 Carrot
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green chili chopped
1 1/2 cup of Wheat flour
2 tsp of oil
1 Cup of water
1/2 tsp salt

Grate the carrot and zucchini with a fine grater. Add salt, cumin seeds, chopped chili (or you can use any spices you prefer) and 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. Mix the ingredients into a dough with 2 tsp of oil and 1 cup of water. You can add or reduce the water and/or whole wheat flour to make sure that the dough doesn't get too sticky. Roll the dough into small balls and shape them into a round thin tortilla (my daughter calls it a pitathi, a combination of pizza and chapati) and pan fry, with a little clarified butter for kids and olive oil for adults.

I have also tried pumpkin and carrots, and potatoes alone which has gone well with her. This can be eaten with plain yogurt, lentil or tomato soup, or by itself.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Fun Alternative to TV Watching

- Contributed by Krishnan, father of two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Children enjoy watching television. They especially enjoy watching cartoons, preferring them to serials and feature films that catch the fancy of elders. Some of the favorite shows of our children are classics like Tom & Jerry, Popeye the Sailor, and even the action-oriented cartoon shows where the main characters possess some amazing powers. I have observed that when they watch the shows they seem to be completely transported into another world. In fact, my father once said so… and that made me wonder whether it was related to the power of story telling. Stories told visually that evoke fantasy, and stimulate imagination.

The only problem was the TV-viewing, and the dulling effect it had on their mind and eyes. It set us thinking. What if we narrate stories of fun and heroism from the conventional story book - would it take their mind off the TV?

One evening, once they finished with their playing, they gathered in the house to settle down and watch TV as a group. We quickly intercepted, got them seated together, and read out a story from a book. We substituted the characters in the story with our children and their friends. It was a great hit, and the close of the session took an unexpected turn. They started discussing why a certain character behaved in a particular manner, and that he ought not to have acted in that manner. The funny thing was they referred to each other by the name of the character he or she had played in the story.

With the discussion getting passionate, we decided to step in with the moral of the story, and calmed things down with a round of chocolates. It was time well spent, and lessons learnt.

Garlic and my little one

One day while cleaning up the onion, potato and garlic basket in the kitchen, my little one walked in and sat on the floor, and started peeling the skin off the onions and garlic. I thought was very cute.

Nowadays, I find that my little one loves to help. She comes to the kitchen often and says, “I wanna help”. She helps me put away washed dishes from the dish-washer, spoons, forks, and cups being her favorite. She loves to remove the cutlery and dump them into the cutlery draw. She is indeed a good help. But sometimes her ‘help’ is a little unhelpful. Especially those days when I am back from work, and want to get her dinner ready.

The earlier ‘peeling’ incident gave me an idea to keep her occupied. I now seat her on her high chair, and give her a bulb of garlic. She loves to peel the skin off the garlic cloves with her little fingers and separate the cloves from the bulb. But then, she puts all the skin and the garlic cloves in the same container and says, “All done, mamma”.

This is fine by me. At least, it keeps her occupied and gives me time to prepare her dinner. I am also happy that I found a way to make her feel a part of the process, rather than send her away from the kitchen. And, by the way, I use the peeled garlic cloves to make garlic pickle!

I would like to ask other moms, when you are back from work and are busy fixing dinner, how do you keep your little one/s fruitfully occupied?

KidzSight - making the child an active participant in the process rather than excluding her from it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mac & Cheese With a Twist

On the weekly menu at my daughter's daycare is Mac & Cheese, prepared in the usual sumptuous way. Only that our daughter doesn't eat Mac & Cheese prepared this way, and when we tried preparing it at home for her, she took one look at it and turned her face away. Now i don't know why she does that to certain foods that you would bet children would love.

We send food for my daughter almost daily since she is allergic to certain foods. Anyway I decided to try and do a twist on this dish, also keeping in mind that it had to be prepared in a jiffy in the morning before we leave for work.

Here is the recipe for it, which has become a big hit with her, and she eats this unfailingly once every week. This serves one child (who may or may not consume the whole serving).

4 heap tbsp macaroni pasta
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
pepper to taste
3 1/2 tbsp Kraft grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin light tasting olive oil

Boil the macaroni in water along with 1/2 tsp of salt, till the macaroni is cooked just a little more than Al Dente. Drain out the water and place the pasta aside in a container. Heat 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. As the oil warms up, add crushed black pepper (just a few twists of the pepper corn mill). Add the oregano leaves as well. As the leaves turn slightly brown, add the cooked macaroni in the pan. Mix the pasta well with all the ingredients in the pan for about 10 seconds. At this point add all the Parmesan cheese while the stove is on, and immediately turn the heat off on the stove. Mix the cheese and the macaroni just until you see the cheese giving a hint of melting. Take the pan off the stove.

Serve the mac and cheese to your child when it is warm. Can we name this a healthy mac and cheese? :-)

This became very popular with my daughter and hence I started preparing similar dishes, keeping all the ingredients the same but replacing the macaroni with penne cut into biteable pieces; penne with a clove of finely chopped garlic added to the oil when it is heating up, to enhance the flavor of the garlic; penne with garlic and veggies (only one vegetable for each preparation) such as finely chopped zucchini, or broccoli, or sweet peas, etc.

Its a very useful dish to pack and carry when you are going for any outing as it can be prepared very fast, its not messy when your child is eating it (the ones without the veggies), and very easy to carry as well.

If you have any quicky recipe of your own that you have tried for your child, please send them to with your name and it will be posted.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I was in awe and proud of what I saw in my two year old's class at her day care. The picture shown below is a result of the collaborative output of her classmates, herself and most of all, her talented and creative teachers. There was also a short write-up by her teachers that I am posting here as written by them. - Anita

April Showers Bring May Flowers - By Sandra & Nanette

This week we talked about April showers and how they bring May flowers.
Our project were a three day process:
On Day One we observed the rain clouds and made our own clouds by mixing white paint, black paint and glue.
On Day Two we observed the rain drops and made rain with paint and glitter.

On Day Three we talked about how flowers need the rain and made our own beautiful flowers out of our hands.

These projects exposed the children to pre-science concepts, and allowed them to express themselves creatively.
And, it was also a lot of fun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Why Do Children Watch TV?

This post was contributed in response to my blog post 'Kids & TV Watching'. - Sriram

- Contributed by Jayashree. Jayashree is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 3. She juggles her day between her job as an Income tax employee and sending both children to school/pre-school, cooking, and keeping them entertained.

Denying children their time with the TV is an act of selfishness on the part of parents. Why do children watch TV? In my view, the answer is they do that when they do not have any alternative.

Look at it from a child's view point; he comes from school spending three hours in a large group of children – he comes home and sees people there doing their own thing, which he cannot relate to. He has actually come in expecting a refreshing and entertaining time, but is left with a sense of void, and the usual set of questions of how the day was, and instructions of good habits, such as keep your shoes here, and your bag there.

They just want to have a real conversation, and engage themselves in fun interaction.

It is when they do not get this that they turn to the TV for relief. It is therapeutic. It takes them to a world that is attractive, and life is fun.

I believe as we as parents have a task on hand – we need to involve ourselves more in their entertainment with the TV, get curious and really interested in what they watch and what they enjoy. They will then open up with us, and will like to watch the same programs with elders. It will lead to true companionship, where elders do not sit in judgment over the kids.

As days pass they may value the companionship of the parents while watching TV more than actually watching the TV, and that could be the beginning of the next level. Unless the parents get addicted to watching the programs themselves and ignore the children!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kids & TV Watching

Our daughter loves to watch TV - be it Elmo, Backyardigans, Curios George which is one of her favorites, Dora, etc. More recently, she is crazy about movies and the song and dance routines in them (Indian movies). She loves to dance along with the songs in the movies and can actually do a move or two!

Shutting the TV off when she is watching will make her red-faced and her eyes full of tears and she will flop on the carpet with her palms banging on them crying 'TeeeVeeee........'. A funny sight indeed!

She is also a very poor eater of lunch/dinner at home. When we give her food (rice or chapati which is Indian tortilla made of whole wheat, along with veggies and lentil soup, etc.), she eats only the chapatis, leaving the rest of the food untouched. By chance one day we realized that this wasn't the case when the TV is turned on for her entertainment. At this point, we can easily blackmail her into eating all of her food and be assured that she will finish everything and then some more!

What is it about the TV that makes her succumb to our earnest requests to her to eat her food? On the condition that she can watch the song and dance routines, she displays exemplary behavior which basically means that she listens to what we say to her :-)

What is it about the TV that captivates kids? I don't know if we can generalize this habit for a large population of kids of course. My wife and I sometimes feel very guilty about what we are doing and keep thinking what we are doing here is not right for our child -- letting her watch too much TV (she watches about an hour and 15 mins of TV each day which we think is a lot). But we have been so far giving in to the apparent benefit its providing us -- she eats her lunch/dinner.

Does anyone else have a similar experience? Does anyone have other alternatives that can be used to make sure that the child is able to eat her food properly and at the right time? Agreed, TV is an important medium of entertainment and education based on the shows that are available for growing kids, but just how much is enough? Where does one draw the line?