Anya and I were re-reading a book I bought her several years ago called “Mom and Me.” As you can assume, it is a book full of activities to do together and questions to ask one another. We have done a few from the book from time to time, and since we have so much time that we are trying to pass quickly, we thought we would try some more. We have decided to try the “Take a Trip” activity. In this, we pick one country and learn as much as we can about it. We can practice cultures from that country, make their food, sing songs, dress up in the attire that is common there – anything we want, so long as we are learning and participating together. We decided to do one country every couple of weeks, and the first country Anya picked was India.
To start, we researched India in full. We found general facts, such as population, national languages, geography, and animals and flowers of the country. We also researched the history of the government and religious beliefs practiced there. While I helped with the online searches, Anya read most of the literature (with occasional help with pronunciations) and compiled what she learned. She even made a few signs to hang during our dinner so we could talk about what she learned. I was so proud of her for doing the hard work on her own and teaching it to us.
For my part, I put together a dinner with Indian food. I know that I can cook rather well (not trying to brag), but I was intimidated with cooking this style of food. I have never even attempted it, and I am not really a fan of Indian food. But, I told Anya to pick any country and did not want to disappoint her. I found some recipes that seemed rather simple and did not have many expensive ingredients. I did have to purchase saffron, which is horribly expensive, so I’m going to have to find more uses for it now that I have some! Anyways, I spent the afternoon making the following: naan (grilled flatbread), tandoori chicken, spiced basmati rice, cucumber raita, chickpeas and peas, and a minnehanna cake for dessert. I was a little nervous for the girls to eat it, since Anya and Addie are not fans of spicy food, but we made a deal that we had to try at least one bite of everything.
With our friend Erin to join us, we dove into our glimpse of India. We painted a bindi, or the dots painted on the foreheads of women in India, on each of our foreheads. These did not last very long with the girls though! We sat down to our dinner, and Anya told us all about what she had learned. Did you know that India is home to 71 endangered animal species? Or that the national sport of India is hockey? We think Andy will find that one interesting. The girls loved the naan, were a little apprehensive about the chicken, and tried a little bit of everything as promised. Needless to say, we all learned a little something and enjoyed trying a few new things.
I had so much fun with my girls today, both in preparing and in enjoying our little foray into India. It was a learning experience for all of us, and it was great to find a new activity for us. I sometimes feel that we do the same things over and over again – school, Girl Scouts, ballet, errands, etc. It is nice to challenge ourselves to do something different and exciting, even without leaving our house. This took a little effort and research, but I am hoping that these nights create some memories for my children to remember. I understand that they will be sad while their dad is gone and want them to miss him, but I also want to instill some happy time together while we await his return. It helps pass the time in a fun way while also learning a little more about the world we live in.
With the success of our first attempt, we will continue the “Take a Trip” activity. In fact, we have already picked our next stop: Kenya. I wonder what spices I’ll need for that trip…