Friday, September 30, 2011

Dinosaur Footprints Painting

I've wanted to do car painting for a long time, but I guess I'm just not willing to get paint on our toy cars. So, when we finally did this activity this week, we decided to go with a toy we have plenty of, and don't mind getting messy: dinosaurs.

I put a blob of each paint color on a paper plate, while Maggie collected a handful of toy dinosaurs.
Then, she dipped each one in paint, and printed dinosaur tracks all over her papers.

I gave her a whole stack of papers, and she completely covered three of them. I also gave her a little dish of water and a rag to clean her dinosaurs with, if she wanted to use them for a new color.
She also wanted to try tracing the dinosaur feet, but they don't have very distinct feet, and they're tiny. So, she ended up drawing some instead. These footprints were made by a Trexasaurus.

Shared at Link & Learn.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Indoor Play Places in Bangalore

Here are some of the indoor, soft play places I have visited with my kids in Bangalore. My kids are age 2 and 4, and we are American, so my reviews are based on that perspective. If you know of another fun, clean, place for kids to play in Bangalore, please leave a comment.
See also Family Activities in Bangalore for more fun things to do. The information in this post was accurate as of October 2011.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any related questions about expat or family life in Bangalore. I know how hard it can be.

Snakes & Ladders
Cost: For one hour, 100 Rs. for 1 child, 50 Rs. for each additional child.
Information:
Old Madras Road, near Outer Ring Rd.
Above ICICI Bank
Across from RMZ Infinity
11am-8pm
Our Review: Snakes & Ladders is BY FAR the best indoor playplace we've been in India. It is cheaper (since I have two kids) and so clean. It is completely safe for my 2 year old to wander around unattended. He can get on the low swings himself, go down the slides, and there's no where to fall - the only entrance is a slow climb, not a ladder.


Whitefield Mall
Cost: 50 Rs per child for 20 minutes
Information:
3rd Floor, Whitefield Forum Value Mall
Open mall hours
Our Review: This play area is fun for small children, and you can leave them to play while you do your shopping. They will give you a ticket when you bring your child, then you pay when you pick them up. There are slides, swings, a playhouse, ride on toys, and balls. We used to really enjoy coming here, and the kids would play with the young girl who was tending. The last time we went, it was a grumpy woman who talked on her cell phone the entire time rather than watching the kids.
The mall also has an arcade with a really fun mini-bowling alley. It just costs 25 Rs. to play bowling. On the ground floor, there is an inflatable jumping house and electronic ride-on toys. Each is 50 Rs. per child (10 minutes jumping).
Time Out Arcade
Cost: 100 Rs per child for 1 hour
Information:
Oasis Mall, 100 ft. Rd/Inner Ring Road
Koramangala
Our Review: This is a nice play area, secure enough you can leave your child while you shop (they won't let the child out until you come to claim him). Unfortunately, they don't allow children under age 3. My daughter liked it, but not enough to stay for an hour.
Monkey Maze, Indiranagar
Cost: 100 Rs. per child for one hour
Information:
13th Main in Indiranagar.
Going South on 100 ft road, turn left on 13th Main. On left side.
Opens 10 am?
Our Review: This playplace is covered, but it is on the roof and is technically outdoors. It is dustier than the other, indoor ones. There are hired girls playing in the equipment with the kids, but I still didn't feel safe to leave my 1 yo there. There are a lot of ladder climbs and drops where he could fall. They also have books, ride-on toys, and offer classes on dance, art etc. This place is pretty crowded.
Monkey Maze, Marathalli/Whitefield (both photos above are from this Monkey Maze)
Cost: 100 Rs. per child for 45 minutes
Information:
Opens 10am?
North side of Marathalli Bridge. Turn left immediately after crossing the bridge into Whitefield.
Our Review: Annoyingly, this Monkey Maze is more expensive than the one in Indiranagar. It is a smaller, but cleaner play area. Still nowhere near as clean as Snakes & Ladders. My 1 yo is too small to go up in the play area alone, but there is a ball pit and trampoline down below. They also have toys! They have blocks, a toy kitchen, and art easel, and a small swing/slide. My kids liked playing with the toys more than the play place. One of the girls will usually come play with my kids.

Here are two other Bangalore play places that I've heard of, but haven't visited:
Hide & Peek (Jayamahal)
Gambolla (Infantry Rd Cross)

Maggie L'Artiste

Every morning, John and Maggie draw a new number to hang on our front door, counting down until our trip to Dubai (now 4 days away). Maggie has been practicing drawing the outline of numbers. I think this is a 5. Very mod.
Some early attempts, and Daddy's version.
Here's a fish scene I drew last week. I stepped away to make dinner, and some dinosaurs started eating my fish! So clever.
Here's another cute dinosaur scene Maggie did. She does many dinosaur drawings each day, too many to keep or even photograph. But I liked her trees in this one.
This one is a different type of drawing than she's ever done before.

Zebras and Muffins

Dalton, watching Baby Monet (Baby Einstein). The kids call this show "zebras." I love how Dalton says "Yum!"

video

Maggie drew some zebra pictures to console Dalton when I turned the TV off. They are adorable, but I'm mostly posting them because they are the first drawings she's done in months that weren't of dinosaurs.

The zebra puppets in the show turn colors with the seasons. And Maggie would like you to know that those are ears, not a crest. Zebras don't have crests.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Family Activities in Bangalore

After 11 months of finding things to do with my two children in Bangalore, I thought I'd pass that information on to others looking for family activities. Here are some of the many things we've found to do, along with photos and information. Our children are 2 and 4, and we are American, so our reviews are done from that perspective. I did a separate list of Indoor Play Places in Bangalore, so check that out as well.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any related questions about expat or family life in Bangalore. I know how hard it can be.

The information in this post was accurate as of October, 2011. If you know of other fun activities for kids in Bangalore, please leave a comment.

Bowling

Cost: Varies by timings. Per person, per game: 110 Rs weekdays, 120 Rs weeknight, 140 Rs weekends. Shoes included.
Information:
Leela Palace. On the bottom floor of the shopping center.
23, Airport Road
opens 11 am
Our Review: Pictures We did not pay for the kids. They just took turns bowling on our games. There are only four lanes, but we've only been first thing in the morning, so it wasn't crowded. There is also an arcade and dancing. While you are at Leela Palace, be sure to check out the GRASS and let your kids run around. My 4 year old is always impressed when we go somewhere with actual grass.
Miniature Golf - Fantasy Golf Resort
Cost: 200 Rs. per person. Kids were free.
Information: Fantasy Golf Resort
It is WAY out by the Bangalore Airport.
Opp. ITC Factory NH7
Yelahanka - Devanahalli Rd.
Our Review: More pictures. They thought we were crazy that we just wanted to play miniature golf. The course was a little difficult to navigate, but was beautiful. We were brought mango juice to drink. The Fantasy Golf Resort also has a playground, sports areas and swimming.

Industrial and Technological Museum
Cost: 20 Rs. for adults. Kids under 5 free. 3D movie 20 Rs. extra.
10 am-6 pm
Downtown, near Cubbon Park
Kasturba Rd.
Our Review: Pictures here and here. Our kids are a bit on the young side for this museum, but still had fun. There is an exhibit of balls following tracks all over the room, old airplanes, hands-on physics experiments, and an animatronic Spinosaurus that scares my 2 year old. There is an art museum next door, but we've never been.

Government Aquarium
Cost: 10Rs, kids under 5 free.
Information:
At Cubbon Park
Kasturba Rd.
Our Review: Pictures There isn't much to this dreary aquarium. There are two stories, each one has two layers of aquariums around a circular room. However, it is so ridiculously inexpensive that you can easily tack on a visit to the aquarium to a visit to Bala Bhavan or a museum at Cubbon Park.
Bala Bhavan (Children's Park)
Cost: 5 Rs. for entry, children under 5 free. 10 Rs. per person (over 3) for boat and train rides
Information:
Inside Cubbon Park. 10Rs. parking required.
Our Review: Pictures This is a fun day out for those with young children. The Children's Park has several play grounds, a train ride around the entire park, boat rides, a castle to climb on, statues of animals, etc. There are several areas of the park that I have never seen open, including a physics exploration area. Ice creams, snacks, drinks etc are available inside the park.
Children's Library
Cost: Free
Information:
West side of Cubbon Park
Our Review: I was really disappointed in this library. In my opinion, there are better things to do if you're going to drive all the way to Cubbon Park. However, if you're really desperate, it's something to do, and it is free. The books were nearly all in Hindi or Kannada (and they didn't look very good, even if you can read in those languages). The English books mostly consisted of encyclopedia/non-fiction books, and a shelf or two of baby board books. There is a pile of bean bags that make a comfortable reading area, and some kid-sized chairs. Outside, in the front, there are a dozen ride-on toys, but every. single. one. was broken. I recommend going to a bookstore, and browsing there, instead.

Brainvilla Book and Toy Library and Store
Cost: Plans start at 150 Rs./month
Information:
10 am - 8 pm, Friday Holiday
1. 6th Cross, Kaggadaspura
2. Nagavarapalya Main Road (Both in CV Raman Nagar)
Brainvilla
Our Review: You have to purchase a membership to Brainvilla, but if you live nearby, you may find it to be worth it. We had one for the first few months we lived here. Depending on your level of membership, you can take up to 4 books or toys out at a time. The one in Nagavarapalya has a play mat near the children's section where the kids can play with toys, or read books. This one is cleaner as well.
Other Bookstores.
We've visited other bookstores, just for fun. Our two favorites are in Indiranagar. Both carry books and toys, as well as coloring books, workbooks etc.
Sapna Bookhouse
80 Ft. Rd, near CMH Road, Indiranagar
9am-5pm
This one has a LOT of children's books, fun to browse. However, there is nowhere to sit and read.

Odyssey Books
100 Ft. Rd, Indiranagar
Opens 10:30
The book selection here is more generic and expensive. However, they have a carpeted area with a few popup tents, ride on cars, balls etc where the kids can play. (ETA: they are rearranging the bookstore and this area is not currently set up. Not sure if it's coming back or not.)

Bannerghatta Biological Park (ie Zoo)
Cost: 160 Rs. Zoo entrance and Grand Safari (kids free unless they need a seat)
Butterfly park 25 Rs.
Elephant Ride 60 Rs. (under 5 free)
Information:
9 am to 5 pm
Tuesday holiday
30 minutes south of Bangalore on Bannerghatta Rd.
Our Review: Pictures here and here. There are a lot of good things about Bannerghatta park. If you are used to Western zoos, you may be dismayed at the conditions and treatment of animals. However, it is still excitng to be able to see the animals very closely. Food is available for purchase.
The Grand Safari: Because the drivers and tour guides are eager for tips from white visitors, they cram you into the front seats and take pictures for you. Then they ask for 100 Rs. tip (each!) afterwards. This is all completely unnecessary. If you don't want to be crowded, you can refuse to be crowded onto the waiting bus, and board first on the next one. You can also take your own pictures. Even if not, 100 Rs. is a ridiculous tip. 30 or 40 is fine. Each safari trip is different (I've been on four) but you'll likely see sloth bears, tigers, lions, deer and more. It is well worth the money.
The Zoo: As I mentioned above, the zoo itself is a bit depressing. They have a large selection of animals. 7 hippos, dozens of crocodiles, snakes, birds, leopards, monkeys etc.
The Elephant Joy Ride: Elephant rides are only available on the weekend! You have to remove your shoes. The zoo has at least 10 elephants of different ages. They usually have one near the fence to collect tips. If you're lucky, it will be an adorable baby! If you bring some bananas, you can feed the elephants. You can also give the elephant a tip (a coin if you look Indian, 10 Rs. if you're white) and get a blessing.


Wonder La
Cost: 540 Rs/410 Rs Adults/Kids Weekdays
680 Rs/490 Rs Adults/Kids Weekends and Festivals
Lockers: 50 Rs + 150 refundable deposit
Information:
11 am-6 pm (7 pm on weekends and festivals)
1 hour south of the city off Mysore Rd.
Our Review: Pictures Saying that Wonder La is in Bangalore is a stretch. It is over 2 hours away from our flat on the east side of the city. It's a fun amusement park and water park, great for a day away from the city. There are kid rides and thrill rides. We didn't do any of the thrill rides, but enjoyed most of the kid rides. Bumper cars, train rides etc. There is also a Sky Wheel, a Ferris wheel very high up in the air. As for the water park, there are paid lockers, separate pools/areas for women and children only, and lots of fun splash areas, wave pools, water slides, and a lazy river. We did not try the water slides, as our children were too young. The lazy river and wave pool were very nice. Food is available for purchase.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fish 'n' Water

Here are a few more Kerala pictures. John blogged about this trip already, but I wanted to add more pictures, since I use our blog as photo storage.
Attending confession. Except we got yelled at.
Outside the church.
A nice view of the refinery, and all the water plants in the lake/ocean.
This guy really wanted Maggie to pet the (poor, tortured) fish.
Hauling in the Chinese fishing net.
I don't often get to see myself from the back - dang, my hair is long.
Dalton with the fishing net and 3 Keralan men wearing lungis.
This is the steam cabinet John used.
The floaties were a great investment.
On the boat - I called this one of the best hours spent in India.
Chinese fishing nets and lots of water plants. Amazingly, the speed boat only sucked up one water plant.
Along the backwaters.
It kind of reminded me of a Disneyland ride. This cow was real, and he was mad.
This is the life.
Not sure I could detach lobster from a net while standing on a canoe. In a skirt.
Maggie's "tails" were blowing behind her as she sat in the prow of the boat.

I'm Famous.

John's coworkers brought him this paper today:
He thought this photo was taken without my knowledge, but it is actually a photo Rachel took in December. (Our 2nd day in India, which is why Dalton is passed out in my arms.) It was just used without any permission, credit or source, that's all. TII.

The article is not about us, but it's here if you want to read it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This is Me

This is me turning 1.
This is me turning 30.

Doing good, I think! I didn't put my foot in the cake this time. If you don't follow my other blog, you might want to check out my Unbucket List.

Trouble in Paradise

What a fun and exhausting trip to Kerala (the south tip of India). Nothing but beautiful scenery, incompetent customer service agents, chain smokers, and sunscreen! Pics to follow.


View from the balcony of our room onto Kaithapuzzha Lake. We stayed at the Ramada.



The pool. This resort is small (only 42 rooms) so we had the place to ourselves a lot.


Traditional Kerala houseboat. Just floating on by.


Our turn! The backwaters are absolutely amazing. Dalton slept the entire cruise, the little stinker. He missed all the fun. Maggie loved it but commented it was quite long.



Chinese fishing nets


We also tried our hand at the Chinese fishing nets. But we didn't catch anything.


And last but not least. Kingfisher changed our flight on us, and says Expedia did it. We couldn't get Expedia on the phone and they gave up our seats. The next flight out was at 7:30 the next morning. Luckily we passed a brand new Holiday Inn hotel so we spent one more night in town. The Holiday Inn had carpet so we got an extra blanket and Maggie slept on the floor! Finally we had the bed to ourselves!


I won't say it's worth it, because it wasn't. But this was the most comfortable bed I've slept on in nine months! We put on our happy faces for the kids and actually had a fun night watching Tom & Jerry with kids, ordering non-spicy food like ham and cheese sandwiches and Ceaser's salad, almost lost our passports thanks to a rather incompetent front desk, and slept extremely soundly until 5 am when we had to get up and trek back to the airport. But it's a memory, right?