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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas is...

... running out of secret hiding places and having to move your towels out of their shelf.

And this is obviously a very dangerous picture to have around right now, so please don't tell :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Playtime outside

Let me start with a few action shots.

In the next photo, the tall building on the back is Home.

And here are the two scooting wonders, up close.

Next, a couple of rare instances of mamma being in the photo too. (Thanks, S, this time you did a good job!)

The rest is Lila trying to keep up with her brothers - and she does that quite well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Lila spent most of the past week at home, semi-quarantined, because of a few red spots that may or may not have been caused by a very light form of chickenpox. The doctor said it might have been so light because she is vaccinated, or maybe it wasn't chickenpox at all.
For those who called us to inquire about the state of health of the poor little girl, let me just show you a picture of the patient, taken on one of the first days of her illness.

Any other questions?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Breaking (potty) news

I haven't posted in a long time, but the perfect opportunity to come back to come back to it presented itself.

A special announcement:

Someone had a first pee in the potty today!

And, just to quiet any doubts right away, it wasn't me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Today I was chased by a monkey. After lunch, I was leaving the canteen building at the institute with S and the boys and I was carrying a couple of bananas to keep as afternoon snacks. S was a few steps ahead and called me to show a few monkeys coming toward us. Usually we are quite excited to see monkeys, but this time one of them moved quickly in my direction and caught me completely by surprise. It didn't even occur to me, at first, that it might be after my snack. I took a couple of steps back and then just turned around and ran back to the lunch area. When I looked back I saw that the monkey had stopped, but it charged again soon after. I ran again and tossed the bananas on top of a table, were the monkey collected them easily before jumping away.

The monkey was about half my size, but it looked quite strong and scary right then. No more bananas out in the open! At least the kids were not scared, in fact quite the opposite. We had to have a little chat to explain that no, it is not ok if a monkey "just wants to jump on you, mamma" (Rajiv's words). :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rohan, the poet

A few days ago:

Rohan - "The days die.."
Mamma - "Uh?"
Rohan - "The days pass, and they die."
Mamma (a little anxious) - "Well, I guess you could say that.. Does it make you sad?"
Rohan - "No."
Mamma - "???"
Rohan - "Only the other days are sad, those that haven't passed, because their friends are gone."

Another time:

Rohan - "Mamma, you are the yolk of the egg!"

This is clearly a metaphor, which makes me proud. Whether it is also a compliment, I am still pondering.

Yet another time, when he was smaller:

Rohan is crying. We try to wipe his face. He says, angry: "Don't take my tears away! I need them!" 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Homeschooling in pictures

In case you are wondering what our homeschooling looks like, here it is:

This would be on a good day. I don't think I want to show what it looks like on a bad one.. :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Money Rat Was Here

Rajiv has lost his first tooth yesterday. I think mom and dad are even more excited than he is - at least I am, for sure. The first tooth! That makes him almost a grown up, right? Well, Rajiv would be quick to agree on this :)

It is one of the bottom front teeth, not so easy to show in a photo. We tried a couple of poses, yesterday night:

and again today morning:

but I'm afraid we will have to wait for one of the upper teeth to go if we want the classic toothless shot.

Rajiv and Rohan have heard of the Tooth Fairy from American books and movies, but I grew up with the "Little Mouse of the Teeth" (literally translated from the Italian "Topino dei Denti") and I told them about this a few days ago, when Rajiv's tooth started to wiggle. It might sound ridiculous, but I don't feel good lying to them about this sort of things, so I just told them that this was a story my aunt and grandmother told me, never saying it was a true story. The thing is: kids are eager to believe in gift bearing magical creatures and there is no need to push the idea, they will right away embrace it, even when they know that it really doesn't make much sense.

This is the compromise I have worked out for now so that they don't have to grow up without Santa and the old Befana just because I have a problem with encouraging uncritical faith in the supernatural :)

Anyway, what I was told as a child was that if I put my tooth, all wrapped up in aluminum foil, in a corner of the kitchen floor, at night a mouse would come to take it and leave a little bit of money for me in exchange. This is supposed to be a gentle little mouse, the kind that you might not mind too much having around your house at night, but for some reason the kids have decide to call it the Money Rat. Not as charming as the original, in my opinion. More changes: we wrapped the tooth in colorful paper instead of foil and Rajiv insisted in keeping the little packet under his pillow, which would make more sense for the Tooth Fairy, I guess, but is really not the natural place for a mouse to go and look - at least we would hope.

In spite of all these changes, as it turns out, the Money Rat showed up. He took the tooth and left another little packet under Rajiv's pillow, wrapped in paper of a different color. The same kind of paper we used too! Inside the paper was 100 rupees bill. The rat was very generous, maybe because it was a first tooth, which is very special.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three Little Heads

At Casa Gialla in Ooty, last weekend. We had to stop playing that game shortly after this picture, though, when Lila tried to swallow the cylinders.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Football (or soccer, if that's how you like to call it)

Now that we have settled back into our routine after the trip abroad, we have also started to look for some extracurricular activities for the children. Homeschooling frees up a lot of time for that and it is good for them to meet other people, both children and adults, that are not just mamma and papa' (incidentally, this is also very beneficial to the parents' mental health).

As a start, we have signed up the children for a couple of after school classes at Lila's daycare, which used to be their daycare too and is therefore not a scary new place. Rohan, I think,  was especially happy to see a few of his friends and teachers again. So far they have art on Mondays and freestyle dance on Fridays. Art is going very well, but the dance thing was probably a little too complicated for them last time and they are not so enthusiastic about a repeat. Still we have paid for a month and so they will give it a try for a few more weeks, then we will reassess.

The best catch though, was being able to enroll Rohan and Rajiv for football practice right here on the institute premises. This kids football group used to meet for practice in a different area and just moved here, where we have a half decent field next to the hostel and the canteen. Some good luck, for a change! The children just went for the first session today and if it works out they can practice three or four days a week. I didn't want to be the mom with the camera on the very first day, but maybe tomorrow I will try to casually get a couple of snaps. Now I am off to take a look, more later..

Monday, August 12, 2013

Il topino dei denti si prepara a farci visita

Appu sta per perdere il suo primo dentino. Come e' possibile che sia gia' cosi' grande? Eravamo in macchina, diretti in montagna, quando ci ha annunciato senza scomporsi di avere un dente traballante. Noi non ci abbiamo creduto e abbiamo subito controllato, ma naturalmente aveva ragione lui. Piccolo Rajiv cresce..

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Afternoon

I am at home with Lila. All the boys are out and we have retreated to the bedroom for a bit of ACed quiet time. While Lila rolls on the bed, and on me, I am trying my first post ever from the ipad. It seems easy so far, except of course for Lila tapping on the screen. (In case anybody wants to know, I am using Blogsy and I like it so far..)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Returning Heroes

Chennai Airport, July 25th, around 9PM.

We are back

Back home - three flights, two hotels and three days after leaving Canada. We already had our first dosas and all is again as usual.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back Home Soon

The trip is almost over. The children are looking forward to being reunited with their train set and are ready to go. I, on the other hand, would be happy if this trip never ended..

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surgical Steel Earrings

Allergy to metals is getting worse, but we fight back. $10 well spent. Yay!
(But no comments on the glasses please..)

Friday, July 12, 2013


I am alone at my desk.
No children in sight.
Too much freedom: Now what?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who Can Touch The Tip Of The Pyramid?

Carousel du Louvre, under the upside-down glass pyramid, where tourists line up patiently to have their picture taken. But not today :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Little Explorers at the Jardin Des Plantes

We are in Canada at the moment. I thought I would be able to post regular updates about our trip, but as you may have noticed I am a little behind schedule. While I get it together, I thought family and friends might enjoy some videos we took in the past two weeks. I will start with one from Paris, at the Jardin Des Plantes. Enjoy :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why Homeschool - Part II

I am ready to share a few more thoughts about our choice to try and homeschool for a year. (See also part zero and part one).

It is hard to know where to start, so let me talk about the most concrete issues first. One that I already mentioned, of course, is the cost. Summarizing what I already said, we are not ready at this point to try a government school and private schools are expensive. Without being too specific, overall yearly we are talking about the equivalent of a few thousands of dollars, and in addition to this many schools ask for an initial "donation", i.e. a non-refundable fee that is almost as high as one full year of regular fees. In the school we almost enrolled our kids in, this fee was intended to cover the cost of a new building. After an initial moment of doubt, we were satisfied that this was a legal and legitimate request, but you can see how this kind of commitment can only make sense if there is a long term plan of staying in the school all the way (the school does cover the whole K-12 course of study). It does not however make sense for us, given that we do not even know right now whether we will still be in India in one or two years time.

When we explained this, the first reaction of many generous family members was to offer to help pay some of the fees, so I feel compelled to clarify that while money is a very important factor in our decision, it is not the only one. There are other reasons that are just as important: I mentioned some in my earlier post and I will try and explain more here.

Avoiding the daily commute ranks high on our list of reasons. We live a bit out of town and most schools that could be acceptable to us in other ways are really far. We have subjected the kids to a long and stressful commute - hours in the car *every day* - for almost two years now and we would like to try and simplify our daily life a little. In addition, even though our job allows us to work from home every now and then, at the moment we are very rarely able to take advantage of this. Maybe I am experiencing a dangerous wave of optimism here, but I imagine our quality of life really improving substantially with this choice.

These are our main reasons: money, uncertainty about our future whereabouts, a very stressful daily life. I will leave my wisdom about education for part III :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Early morning

A few photos taken while getting ready for school in the morning. We ended up being a bit late out of the door, but I couldn't resist Lila in her new dress :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Homeschool - Part I

Following a request from a large fraction (one) of my readers, I will try and explain how we came to the decision of homeschooling. Before I go into the reasons though, I think I should give a summary of how we got to this point. This is going to be long and probably boring, but since you asked, here it comes..


Photos from our trip to Goa two weeks ago. Nonna was with us too, and will stay with us until early April.

A spontaneous tree hugging session on our first morning of holiday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rajiv likes detective stories, just like mamma and papa

Rajiv is reading his first chapter book all by himself. I bought the first four "A to Z Mysteries" and I planted them on S's desk, where I knew at some point they would be noticed. It worked and now he is reading the book to me - nice change!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

School update

For lots of reasons that I might explain later, it looks like we are going to homeschool next year.

Yup, "Wow" is the right answer.. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stop the presses!

My girl, who just turned nine months old last week, took her first three steps today. So obviously we have an unusually amazing baby here, who learned to clap and (sort of) wave at six months and now at is already saying "mamma" and taking her first steps. Saying "mamma" is obviously the most important skill of them all, but the rest is neat too and of course we expect other great things to follow. No pressure :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lila said "mamma"!

Twice. Plus a few less clear instances that we will not count to be completely fair, although Rohan says that he heard it clearly one other time. So let's say three times.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My boys' personalities

Conversation in the car:

Rohan - Mamma? Mamma? You know? A piece of my school has fallen down!
Mamma - Uhm.. really?
[A somewhat confusing exchange follows, in which we clarified that some plaster must have crumbled down from a wall at naptime]
Rohan - I don't know *how* it happend! Maybe there is a scratching monster! (giggling)
Rajiv - No, Rohan. (With just a hint of impatience) The cement between the bricks must have come loose and that's how the wall fell down. Maybe they will have to build it again.


But now worries: as of today, the school still stands.

Stomping Song

A video from September 2012. Appu sings for us a song he learned at school. I think it is in German, but nobody knows for sure.

Joy and Jubilee!

I have finally regained access to most of my photos and videos! There are things I had even forgotten about and as usual we all look much happier in the videos than we do in real life, so now I will be off to re-watch all of them to boost my spirits. I will be posting some too, soon, all depending on how the internet connection is behaving today.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Deer hunting

My current excuse for not updating the blog is that my hard disk was completely wiped out by accident while being repaired about a month ago. Fortunately I had almost everything backed up, but and I am still working on putting it all back together.

I can, however, show you this picture taken by S with his phone.

Last Saturday I gave a talk at a conference at IIT Madras and while I was speaking S took the kids for a walk in the beautiful IIT campus. Here you can see them "hiding" to observe a deer without scaring it away. It helps that the animals are used to having people around and are not easily alarmed :)