Dashing Through The Snow

“As I took my children sledding this morning, I watched them fly down the hill – aiming for the jump and flying in the air. Getting the wind knocked out of them as they landed hard then climbing up to do it again – relentless and brave. 
I took a moment to be happy they are young and innocent and appreciate the simple thrill of going fast down a hill. I pushed my own nervous inclination aside and instead of saying “Be careful!” I said “Aim Straight!” Then I let them go down the jump again and again because in this world, we need to be relentless and brave and I need to be sure they don’t unlearn it.” 
― Elizabeth Tambascio

I can’t upload videos here so I’m uploading the pics. 

Getting the younger two ready for their first sledding experience. M aged 4 and Z aged 2+
I worried that Z would be scared… I needn’t have. She was excited and not a bit scared. Neither was M!

Back in my home country, my first experience of snow came when we moved from our country home in Punjab to the capital of Punjab & Haryana: Chandigarh. A small city then, in 1971. A brief about Chandigarh:

(It was one of the early planned cities in post-independent India and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. The master plan of the city was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, which transformed from earlier plans created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer. Most of the government buildings and housing in the city were designed by the Chandigarh Capital Project Team headed by Le CorbusierJane Drew, and Maxwell Fry.  

Shimla was the temporary capital of East Punjab until Chandigarh was completed in 1960.) (source Wikipedia)

Chandigarh wasn’t very far from Shimla, a hill station and the capital of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills, which sees heavy snowfall. The roads were fairly good, even back then, and every year, we’d keep an eye for the news of the first snowfall. Daddy would call the driver, Jaspal Singh, and we’d leave home very early. It would be only for the day. We returned in the evening! All we did was play in the snow. And, of course, we loved the drive. I was a teenager then. All snow-related experiences ended in my early twenties.

I moved away to a desert area and I got to know sand dunes and arid zones.

Decades later, I worked in a residential school (aka boarding school) in another hill station that experienced heavy snowfalls, but I never got to live the winters there. Residential schools closed for about three months in winter. By the time we returned, the snow had vanished even though the winter lingered!

Z gets in front and M climbs on behind. I thought it was a crazy idea… one of the kids would tumble off and get hurt! (age gap/generation gap…LOL)
As I watched, I couldn’t help feeling quite proud of this little one as she settled herself. She made herself comfy and secure. It was her 1st ride!!.
 Aly sat and watched them, patiently waiting her turn on the higher and steeper slopes on the other side.
 They weren’t done. Kept trudging back and sliding down again and again.

Fast forward to the present; I have snow all around me for months and I am not as keen about the snow as I used to be. It stays too long here and I can’t afford to ignore the consequences of walking out alone. What used to be a comedy when we fell, rolled or tumbled down a snowy bank or slipped on ice, will be a tragedy now 😀 #idontlikelongsnowywinters

But I do enjoy getting out to watch the kids when they go sledding. As long as I have an arm to steady me, I’ll walk on snow and dare the hidden ice beneath!

The Britt’s Pub & Eatery beckoned as I tried to keep warm and not 
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clicked pictures of the surroundings.

Though I was tempted, I thought better of getting into Britt’s. I wanted to sit with the kids and hear their experiences and share their joy over some hot chocolate and tea later at Tims’s, closer to home!

Back at Tim’s, I listened to their endless chatter and basked in the glow of their joy.

A tired but happy bunch.

                                                 Thank you for visiting my blog!

 

 

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Tiny Conversations – Stork or God?

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The twins, Amu & Mia, joined a Montessori School and Day Care. It’s been a few days, actually. I was glad to hear they had settled in well and have already made friends. In fact, going by the latest conversation that drifted down, they’re doing pretty well in the socializing department 🙂

They are in lower kindergarten but at break time both higher kindergarten and lower KG kids play together. So they chat with the older children too. One fine day, the conversation veered to the twins’ class teacher Mrs. N. She is expecting and the topic under discussion was her tummy!

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“I am expecting and my 5-year-old asked how babies are made. I told him, ‘God took a piece of me and a piece of Daddy and he put them together to make a new baby.’ My 2-year-old studied me carefully and said, ‘I don’t see any bites out of you! What piece did God take?'” -Emily Clark

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What I gathered was that the twins and some others were wondering about her protruding tummy and some of the older kids informed them that there was a baby inside. Amu and Mia found that very interesting but weren’t convinced. So they decided to confirm it.

Twins: “What’s inside your tummy? Is it a baby?” they asked Mrs. N.

“Yes, it is,” she replied, amused.

“Oh!”

It was confirmed! There was a baby inside. That was sorted out but now another thought popped into their heads.

“Who put it there?” was the next question.

Mrs. N. wasn’t ready for that. She thought she had dealt with their curiosity. But they were eagerly waiting for more information. If there was a baby inside how did it get there?

I can imagine Mrs. N’s position. What should she say to these 4-yr-old, curious kids? And as the story proceeds, I realize that a lot hasn’t changed with the typical Indian mom/grandmom’s answers to this question.

“I prayed for a baby and God gave me a baby,” she said. (I imagine she must have prayed that they wouldn’t ask the “how” question!) 

“Ok,” they chimed. Thus ended that tiny conversation!

And like everything that you can’t comprehend about God but believe, they assumed it was something beyond explanation and went home satisfied. 🙂 They got their answers.

It amused me more because it reminded me of the time my younger brother was born. I was ten, these girls are just four, and I believed the “God gave the baby” story! I also believed He put the baby in a cradle in the hospital LOL. Talk about unaware, silly, dumbo… I was all that and more. OMGosh!

The part that tickles me more is; I hadn’t even noticed my mother’s tummy. Nothing appeared different or rather, I wasn’t the kind to notice such things. I spoke to her a lot and nothing about her face had changed!

So when I came home from school one day and couldn’t find mummy because she was in the hospital, I fell for the: “God dropped off your baby brother at the hospital and mummy has gone to pick him up” story hook, line, and sinker. I never noticed a big tummy, so it was the only way the baby could have come.

Besides, I was brought up with Bible stories and there are so many miraculous things there; I counted this as just one more. What’s funnier is that fifty-three years later, someone is repeating the same “God gave the baby” story. 

In my mother’s days, it was the stork. But that didn’t hold for long. Most kids weren’t familiar with this long-legged bird so soon God replaced the stork. Every child in India knew about God and his power to perform great miracles. It made him greater than Superman and Batman put together in their eyes. He could drop off babies anywhere; homes, hospitals. At least I believed that.

PS: For a long time I wondered if I was really picked up from a rubbish heap LOL. That’s what my elder sister often told me when we were at loggerheads. My doubts dissipated only because Daddy assured me that God wouldn’t be so unkind as to drop me in a garbage dump when I had a nice home and family waiting for me!

I’m sure the twins will not have such ‘tiny conversations’ when they are ten. Theirs will be a few notches above this. Our time was the time of radio, transistor, spool tape recorders, record players, and the ubiquitous big, black telephone! Knowledge was not a click away; at our fingertips, and no one spoke about the birds and the bees or sex education, not during our days.

So, where my granddaughters are at four, I was at ten! Now, things are different but only in certain sections of society. It’s still a taboo thing in most conventional homes. And that means a majority.

Grandma’s Tales – Piggly

PIGGLY SMELLS THE ROSES

By Joy Clarkson

Acknowledgment – Thank you, Mia, for planting the seed of an idea for this story.

“Dada, Dada,” Mia called out as she scurried into the dining room and made for the corner, at which end of the dining table Dada had set up not only her permanent seat for meals but also a workstation where she’d sit and write.

Mia came and stood beside Dada who looked up from whatever she was doing into Mia’s serious and troubled eyes.

“What’s the matter, Mia? You don’t look too happy.” Mia nodded her head up and down. Dada waited.

“Dada, my lil Piggly has lost his snout!”

“Lost his snout?” Lil Piggly?” This was the first time Dada had heard about a lil pig called Piggly.

“Yes, Dada. Lil Piggly has lost his long snout,” she repeated gesturing with her hands in case Dada didn’t know what a snout was.

“What can I do Mia? Do you want me to help you find the snout?”

“Yes, let’s find Piggly’s snout,” she said, happy and relieved, as she took Dada’s hand in hers.

“Where’s Piggly? I need to ask him some questions,” Dada asked seriously. This was a serious case. Who ever heard of a pig losing its snout!

She pulled Dada out of the dining room and into the corridor that led to the bedrooms.

“There he is,” she said pointing a finger.

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“There he is.”

“Ah! I see him and he’s not looking very happy. Piggly, can you tell me where you lost your snout?” asked Dada

“Oik, oik,” said Piggly sadly, “I don’t know.”

“See,” piped Mia, “he can’t even speak properly without his snout. He’s saying ‘oik’ instead of ‘oink’!” And she looked so sad Dada thought she’d cry any minute.

Now Piggly, that doesn’t help much, does it? Let’s see, can you tell me all that you did this morning?”

“Well, I played in a muddy puddle. It was so much fun! I rolled around in the muddy puddle and splashed and jumped…” Dada interrupted him.

“And what did you do next?”

“Oik, farmer Longbottom took me to find truffles. I did a good job of it. I’m sure he’s pleased with me, oik, oik!”

“And what else did you do? Where did you go?” asked Dada.

“Oik, oik, I was tired and took a nap. I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t do anything else.”

“Can you take us to the muddy puddle and the place where you found the truffles?” asked Mia.

“Oik, I can,” said Piggly eagerly. He did want to find his snout.

So off they went to look for Piggly’s snout in the muddy puddle. Dada used a pitchfork to dredge the squelchy, muddy pool for the missing snout but found nothing but slimy leaves and a few pebbles.

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Dada used a pitchfork to dredge the squelchy, muddy pool for the missing snout but found nothing but slimy leaves and a few pebbles.

Then they trudged to where Piggly had searched for truffles. It was a lot of searching as they had to go over a large area. They were quite exhausted by the time they had finished their search but had still found nothing. No snout!

Mia, Piggly, and Dada, who was not so young anymore, sat under a shady tree to catch their breath and rest their aching legs. No one spoke for a while. They were all lost in their own thoughts. And then the silence was broken by a big…Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!

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Then they trudged to where Piggly had searched for truffles. They were quite exhausted by the time they had finished their search but had still found nothing. No snout!

Piggly had a sneezing fit.

“Do you have a cold Piggly? Said Mia, as she patted Piggly gently.

“No, I don’t,” he replied. “It’s an allergy. It happened earlier today when I was sniffing the roses. I think I’m allergic to roses or flowers or pollen or…dear me! I’m so miserable, I could cry! Oik, Oik, Oik.”

“You smelled the roses?” said Dada sitting up straight.

“When did you smell the roses, Piggly?” asked Mia.

“You never mentioned it earlier,” mumbled Dada annoyed.

“I forgot,” wailed Piggly, “I just remembered when I sneezed. While farmer Longbottom rested under this tree I strolled that way…there. There’s a patch of wild roses down there. I sniffed them and …Achoo! Achoo!” Piggly had another sneezing fit.

Dada took Mia’s hand and both of them hurried in the direction Piggly had pointed out. A short run and they came upon a beautiful sight. The patch of roses!

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A short run and they came upon a beautiful sight. The patch of roses!

“Be careful Mia, these roses have nasty thorns. You stay here and I’ll look around for Piggly’s snout.”

Though Dada was very careful, but still, she let out a yelp now and then when a thorn pricked her. And then, Mia heard Dada shouting…she had found the missing snout and was shouting for joy.

“How are we going to put back Piggly’s snout?” Mia wondered aloud.

“We won’t,” replied Dada, “Dr. Horsense will do that. Come on, let’s hurry.”

Later that day, after Dr. Horsense had fixed Piggly’s snout right where it belonged, Dada and Mia went to see how lil Piggly was doing.

“Oink, Oink,” said Piggly happily, when he saw them. “I’m so glad I’ve got back my snout. I’m never going to sniff around roses again. Thank you, Dada. Thank you, Mia,” said lil Piggly as he trotted home.

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“Oink, Oink, I’m so glad I’ve got back my snout. I’m never going to smell the roses again.”

The story of the story:

Three-year-old Mia, one of the twins, came running to me at my ‘workstation’ and said, “Dada, Piggly has lost his snout.”

I said, “And who is Piggly?”

“My lil pig,” she replied.

From then on the story unfolded as we went around the house…to the places mentioned in the story above.

‘Oink, Oink, it was fun finding Piggly’s snout!

A Reason To Smile…Grandma speak

“…….Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.” –Roy T. Bennett

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Smiling comes easily to me. I find numerous reasons to smile…some given by people; people on the streets who smile a ‘Buenos Dias,” at me or an unexpected “Ciao,” as I exit the elevator. A friendly wave and ecstatic grin from a shopkeeper, who I visit quite often, as I walk past her shop. The elderly concierges in the building who give me a broad grin as they wish me the time of day adding, “Como Estas?”

And then so many memories from the past which come up and make me smile…a lot. Yes, there are many reasons to smile and I don’t have to go in search of any…they come to my doorstep and I just let them in.

The best reasons, though, in the past six years have been my granddaughters. And more so in these last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of living with my twin ‘nietas‘ and watching them grow. They’re two years and eleven months. Just watching them at play, or engaging in conversation with them is enough to make you laugh, smile and wonder what you have done to be so blessed!

Why, just last night, they were enacting the “Mary & Joseph & special baby Jesus” story, as they call it. They decided I should be a part of the play and informed me that I was the angel Gabriel!

It all went well until the time came to go to Egypt to hide from the “naughty, naughty, wicked King Herod.” They took a donkey and came to inform “Gabriel” that they were fleeing.

“Where are you going?” asked ‘Gabriel’ as she looked up from the serial she was watching on Netflix.

“Joseph is going to Nazareth,” replied Mary (Mia) and her expressions conveyed the urgency of the situation, “And I’m going to Bethlehem,” she said in the same tone, as she waddled off quickly, wrapped in her blanky that she wore like a dress! (a reason for giggles…soft laughter…smiles!)

“But why? said Gabriel. (another reason for…soft laughter…smiles!)

“Because Herod cannot find us.”

(Just one of the many reasons for soft laughter…smiles…and that warm feeling of love!)

And then there are the feeling proud (beaming smile) moments too because of small accomplishments like these:

As we waited for our food to come to the table my Energy Capsules 2.11 (as I call them) came up with this lovely work of art.

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Amu drew a smiley…with ease and speed…it was so easy for her to execute the circles and even add the little dots in the eyes!

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Mia preferred to color and I think, for her age, she has executed it very well. Keeping within the lines is difficult for kiddies her age and she’s done a fine job!

And so it’s just one of those things…smiling! It makes the day brighter, it makes the heart grateful, it cheers someone up…including you…it makes the good better and the bad bearable. I can never forget what my MIL and her friend told me the day after my wedding.

“One is never properly dressed if one doesn’t wear perfume,” said my MIL as she gifted me a bottle of Madame Rochas perfume!

Her friend, Mrs. Rudra, quickly added, “And also remember, one is never properly dressed unless one wears a smile!”

Well, though I didn’t lack in both those departments…I always wore perfume or eau de cologne and there was never a dearth of smiles; I had an abundant supply…still I carried the advice with me. It was given with love and I received it with love and respect.

A smile, even through my tears, has saved the day every time. Whether from a memory or a smile from across the room or street…it brings peace.

You have a choice…to live lighter, happier, more grateful and less fretful; more patient, tolerant, and with better self-control. There’s always something that can bring a smile to your heart…look for that reason and you’ll find it.

Smiles… Just keep them warm, heartfelt, kind, understanding…and friendly!

 

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Campo Granja Educativa Con Con- The Petting Zoo

This visit isn’t a recent one. I didn’t have this blog at the time we visited, but I came across some pictures of our visit and here they come. The ‘petting’ zoo, as the name implies allows the children to pet certain animals like a kid or a bunny. They are also encouraged to feed some, under adult supervision, of course! One does have to be careful with the geese…and some very hungry goats and alpacas.

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The zoo is spread over a large farm and has a good number of domestic animals and birds. I’m not sure if ostrich comes under the tag ‘domestic,’ though! It’s a nice place to spend the day with kids. They have a small eating place and an area where one can hold small parties…like birthday parties!

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Apart from this, there are other interesting features like showing kids a live beehive and how honey is extracted. Allowing the kids to pluck ripe fruit off the trees…three per child…and no employee from the zoo stands around to check. They trust you.

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There’s the horse wagon ride around the farm as well. Adults enjoy it as much as their kids do!

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And cable rides too for the older kids.

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Then there’s a traditional oven where fresh bread is baked and each child is given three rolls of hot, soft, buttered bread in brown paper bags. The aroma of baking bread enhances the experience by highlighting the ‘Campo’ (rural) surroundings, besides, one is quite hungry by this time and ready to take a bite.

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And while the kids played and ran around enjoying the fresh country air and open space, some of us relaxed among our feathered and four-legged neighbours, some went a shopping for little mementos at the tiny shop on the campus.

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Before we knew it, it was time to drive back home. The little ones were flushed with joy and that signed off the outing as a huge success and a day spent well.

Joy Over The Weekend- Picture Speak

I usually do not go for a walk on Sundays. My Sunday mornings are dedicated to getting in shape and ready for church. I get back from church half an hour after mid-day if I don’t stay to chat over a cup of tea…and I’m ravenous by then having had breakfast at 8.00 am. Anyway, what I’m saying is by the evening, I’m in such a state of languidness that a walk in the evening, which is routine, is scratched off my list! But, not so this past Sunday. I did go for a walk… and on my way back I ran into the twins and the parents. Amu, one of the twins, wanted me to go for another walk with them and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She took my hand in her little pudgy, warm hand… and trust me, “no” was definitely not an option…my heart was all mushy and oozing love! I went along. And I’m glad I did. You’ll know why when you see these pics! The videos bring out the fun, though, too bad I can’t upload them here! But you can hop over to my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/dstepladder2hope That’s where I’ll be uploading them.

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The park by the sea. Always full at weekends and holidays!

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“Driving in my car, feeling like a star, driving down the street in my car…vroom, vroom!” That’s their song as they go “driving like Papa!”

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The corner with the slides…and on weekends the shops and game stalls too!

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Time to return the cars and go home…

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…But not before buying some flying propeller discs.

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We did want to get a cup of coffee at this cafe but opted to get dinner instead at a restaurant close by!

Needless to say, I was quite ready for bed when we got back home. I was a totally contented Gramma!

But I did have some ‘flops,’ literally on Saturday. These pics will tell you about it.

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I decided to buy some empanadas and a slice each of ‘Yogurt Diet Berries’ & ‘Nueces Kuchen’ for lunch. The parcel of dessert sitting on the parcel of empanadas slipped and fell to the ground!

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Two knives and some scraping and putting together… and I had a decent enough slice of yogurt cheesecake and walnut pie to dig into!

I have to mention an old gentleman in a hat who was watching the fiasco on the street and said comfortingly: “No se preocupe. Estara bien!” (Don’t worry. It will be ok!)

How wonderful to run into such people when you think your dessert is lost!

 

 

 

Picture Speak

It was six in the evening. The sun was lower on the horizon. The moon, all three-fourths of it was up in the sky. Caught between the palm trees in the park…

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“Agua…mucha agua,” say two little voices in total awe.

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A few steps the other way…the moon is like a pearl entwined!

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