Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 things/games to do/play indoors with your child this winter

Been too blah to blog.
Had a great vacation over two weekends ago and wanted to put up some pictures and write about it...but it never really happened.
Meanwhile the Hubby was travelling, the Sonny Boy was ill, the ageing parents busy and cranky, my boss missing in action, and my life pure hell.

In the meanwhile, lil boy had to be entertained. I'm starved these days for ideas. Bangalore evenings in November and December can be cold. Which means visits to the park are few and far apart. Moreover, considering Sonny has pathetic immunity, I'm not willing to risk taking him out in the evenings and put him on one more bout of antibiotics for a cold and congestion he will catch (it's ok if i sound like a paranoid mom).

Here are things we've been doing in the evenings at home and might help you keep your li'l one entertained on cold winter evenings (P.S. My Sonny is a li'l over 3 years so do keep that in mind in terms of kind/level of activities)

1. Play pass the ball -- All forms of it still excite my Sonny. I thought they grow over it fast. But hell, no!!! Change the ball, (colour/size/type -- plastic, rubber, inflated etc). Play alternate days. If you have a long hall, sit on the floor at opposite ends and just roll the ball across back-and-forth. I didn't know kids can derive such fun out of such simple things. Tell her/him it has to come straight to mummy and watch them concentrate.
2. Dribble the ball -- Sonny loves it and can sometimes go up to 26 at a stretch when he's concentrating. I'm proud of him, and it gives them a sense of achievement. If they can't dribble, play bounce. You bounce the ball off the floor once and he/she catches it and then he/she bounces it off the floor once and you catch it. Needless to say, it improves their eye-hand co-ordination (realised Sonny's a bit slow on this too probably coz he doesn't play ball with the other kids at playschool!)
3. Honestly, he didn't know how to hop on one leg (wish i could find the link to a story on how most kids these days lack this "skill". Went back after reading and checked on Sonny -- of course he didn't!). So one evening we practised hopping on one leg. He really loved it! Now he can hop a few steps without falling down. We tried it with him holding one leg up, with me helping him by supporting him with one hand etc. Since he knows the rhyme "Hop a little, jump a little, skip a little.." he told me "Amma next we'll do 'skip'." And quickly followed it up with "What's skip?" Some games we played so naturally as kids just don't exist any more. I remember playing hopscotch where we'd draw these 7 squares and play what was called "bachcha"  doing all sort of combination hops, with a piece of stone placed on an outstretched hand, or on the head!
4. Paints/crayons/sketch pens -- the best forms of evening entertainment. When he's really bored with freehand painting and scribbling and scratching on white paper sheets, and is done with his numerous colouring books, we "finger print". Paint various colours on all finger tips -- all together or one by one and keep pressing it on plain paper. Random prints will do fine. Or draw an outline of something easy -- say a star fish and print within, if the child is older. Finger-print a border and it's good to go on display. Kids love to get their hands dirty. I think at least 80 per cent of them should!! Keep an old cloth handy to wipe away. Use water colours.
5. Make a slide indoors. The foam cushions we have on the sofa come in handy. As do the little diwan cushions. We throw in a teepoy/rectangular coffee table and we have our own slide! Make a path of small cushions and tell him those are the "steps" up the slide. Then create a tiered layer of cushions, where he can climb up and come "sit" at the head of the slide. The "slide" is a really tiny short legged side table we have that we slant against the tiered cushions and wedge against other cushions that are wedged against a wall (all this to make sure nothing slips out of place). It's not hurt-proof I agree, but he can't really harm himself much doing something like this. Besides, once they get a kick out of it, they love arranging the cushions themselves. Just make sure if you use a table/wooden board etc for the slide, that is one thing you, the parent, adds on.
6. One more good ol' simple game from the good ol' days. Snakes and ladders. By now they get a thrill in "winning", "getting there first", feel sorrow when "bitten by a snake" and have to slide down...I'm having a tough time teaching him it's fine to lose, but boy! Is that a tough lesson for these brats to learn?!! Working on it.
7. Puzzles are an alltime favourite. If your child likes puzzles, put the favourites away for a while and bring them out after a month or a few weeks. There is a thrill in being able to recall the puzzle and doing it instantly. By now, if your child can identify numbers, letters, there are many flash card games for the age group that combine a bit of learning too.
8. Books. Reading. Storytelling. Always wins hands down.
9. Sticker books!!! I love them. And so does Sonny. Those that leave a page blank for you to fill on your own and make your own story (I think Paragon books has a series on animals) are the best. Then there are those where you have to stick it in place -- a sort of fill in the blanks.
10. Play outdoor things indoors. Kids hate being told "not inside the house". But when u give in, they derive a vicarious pleasure from it.  A game of plastic bat and ball cricket inside is not too bad (stay away from the TV). Or teach them traffic rules -- you become traffic cop and they have to go around the dining table on their tricycle/push car/truck and follow your signals -- stop at red, go at green, no speeding etc
11. some TV. It's the laziest of things to do, and hence down on my list, but it can be a lifesaver sometimes, specially on days when u just want to plop down yourself, after a hard day's work outside ;-).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rockstar: It's rocking...almost, till the heroine gets sick

I watched Rockstar on the day of its release and have been quite kicked about the movie.
One, because, damn, Ranbir Kapoor has grown up! He's put in some serious effort into his role and looks convincing, making the film an endearing watch.
Two, because A.R. Rahman's music is as much of the Rockstar as Ranbir is, needless to say. And yippeee Mohit Chauhan sounds suitably angsty for the Ranbir who looks suitably angsty.
Three, because, I'm happy with the kind of films that the Hindi film industry is coming up with. Honestly.
Ok so there's mindless mayhem like Dabanng that actually mints money....but there's all kinds of film co-existing, thank god.
If you guys have been switching channels this weekend, there were a whole lot of discussions on news channels on "Has Indian cinema come of age?" keeping in mind "The Dirty Picture", and and the Think Fest at Goa, with discussions on "The Changing Face of Bollywood". The discussions have been engrossing, open, throwing up frank opinions and opening up new threads of thought. It was great to hear Khushboo, Mahesh Bhat, Dibakar Banerjee, and Aamir Khan speak.

Hubby and me, both being avid moviegoers were feeling thrilled after watching the film that we're moviegoers at a time when Hindi cinema is going through such a gutsy phase. We just saw a few weeks ago the very unsettling "That Girl in Yellow Boots"... I couldn't sleep for much of the night. It's revolting, the end. But my point is, a cinema should leave you feeling something. If it's just popcorn-eating entertainment, it's fine, but only once in a way. I can't take too much of that kind of cinema. But I need it too!

Ok I'm veering off the Rockstar track. But if there's one thing I want to, in true Bollywood style declare, "I object My Lord!" in a court -- it's a protest against director Imtiaz Ali for making the heroine have a terminal bone marrow illness. I thought it was a Shah Rukh Khan thing to have his heroines dying of all sorts of diseases... I mean that track of the film has seriously maimed the rest of the story.

I mean, what's it with Hindi films in this aspect? You must have a dying heroine? Always? Bah!! Terminal illness. It has to be the only reason to accept a woman who loves someone outside her marriage?
The strong point however is the character of Ranbir; in fact all the effort seems to have gone into shaping him.
The fact that Nargis Fakhri can't act and look beyond her bee-stung lips makes Ranbir look even better (a deliberate pairing, I presume).
But the angst in Ranbir....aaah that's something I loved. The anger, the restlessness, the's something a lot of us feel, even if we are not rockstars. His grungy air, his temper ufff it all fell neatly in place.
I don't want to sit here and tell the story. You must see it. And forgive Imtiaz Ali, lord, for his sin of dumping yet another terminal illness on yet another Hindi cinema heroine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Sonny's LKG admission done!

A quick post to say Hurraaaayyyy!
Sonny Boy is in! He's got admission in this one school I tried in.

Yeah, I know i gambled. But...what the hell!
I know I've ranted at length about this "education" worry  on my blog before when i posted Why Do We Parents Worry So Much About Our Children's Education?,  and then Admission Admission: I Didn't Do It... so this is where it conclusively concludes....for now!

The school is:
1. About half a kilometre from our place, as well as my parents' - sort of mid way between the two homes.
2. It's an SSLC syllabus-based school.
3. It's one of those old-fashioned schools -- no word "international" tucked in between ;-) So the fees doesn't give me a heart attack either; in fact it's super-reasonable and there are no deposits/donations.
4. It's in the heart of north Bangalore and it actually has a playground!
5. There's no worry of transport to school -- we can walk him or drop him off easily. Also means no transport costs.
6. The timings suits my lazy self and my work schedule -- it's 12 to 4.30 for LKG and they'll be graduating to a more "normal" morning schedule in UKG. Hope that works for the poor dear who loves to nap in the afternoon -- keeping my fingers crossed.

We had the "formal meeting" today with the Principal -- very sweet it was. They only asked Sonny one question -- "what is your name?" which he promptly and predictably didn't answer. They gave him a cchocolate and let him be after that reticent silence. They asked hubby and me a few questions about work, if we travel a lot on work, who takes care of the kid then, which playschool is he going to now etc. That was it. They also figured that some of my cousins had been to their school, many years ago. Some familiarity established. One of the interviewers, I guess the vice-principal, lives near my mom's place. More familiarity established. They handed us a slip with the his name and the word "admitted". SIMPLE. Done. In fact it was so fast, I still can't accept it.

So my worrying self is back to worrying....did i do right?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning to speak in English...

We are a nation obsessed with English. We are a nation obsessed with getting our kids to speak English, correct grammar and all, right from the beginning (yeah I swear on that by my Wren and Martin).
An English-medium education is what we all crave for our kids -- everyone wants it for their kids -- from the household help, the vegetable seller, the dhobi, your neighbour, YOURSELF (myself included), your neighbour, your cousins in small towns and villages. I'm not looking down upon anyone here, just saying that it's a universal aspiration.
There is pride and joy on our iron-man's face when he reminds me (each time i ask him how his daughters are doing) "Nan makkalu English-medium nalli odtaavre" (My kids study in English medium).

And I haven't been left behind either. I've joined the rat race too, in complete rat-like earnestness to get Sonny to understand some English before he takes those giant steps to "big boy's school" next academic year.

Honestly I hadn't realised how soon it begins till one day we were in an argument, Sonny and I, about some random thing. We were as usual talking in Kannada, our mother tongue. Then, in frustration, i cant remember on what issue, I screamed in English: "Where do you want me to be?" After a moment of silence he said "Here, at home." I was shocked.
a) I hadn't expected a reply to my rhetorical question
b) I hadn't expected him to really understand my question
c) I hadn't expected a reply in English.
d) I hadn't expected a completely coherent phrase/sentence.

It was then that it struck me that he'd told me a few days ago, some time post the Dasara vacation that his playhome teachers had been telling them all to converse in school only in English. So now it's "I want water" (of course, "please" is still a difficult word in his world). A sharp "Yah" (with a stress on the "h" sound) or a vehement head-nodding "No" to my questions. Sometimes a simple "Nice, I like" when he likes a dress I'm wearing. He's able to understand most of the questions I ask him in English. Sometimes replies in English, sometimes in Kannada, sometimes a mix of both languages...

I have a really failing memory, but what prompted me to write this post was a conversation I had last night with him, both of us sitting on the sofa, he was tracing lines on a work sheet his teacher had given. I wish I had immediately jotted it down then, but we spoke some four sentences, back and forth, Q and A, in complete coherence. I was quite amused...and well, happy.

I know of many Indian parents who straight away start talking to their kids in English only, since the child is born, so he/she picks up English well and early. I also know equally well of so many parents (like me and hubby) who insist on talking to the child only in our mother tongue at home, knowing that they will pick up English in school later anyway. And that they must know the language spoken by the family quite well.

We recently had some of hubby's guests from overseas home for dinner. After chatting them up with a few "Yah"s and "No"s he came beaming to me and said "Amma naanu avara jothey English-nalli maataadta iddeeni, with a twinkle in his eyes. (Mummy, I'm talking to them in English.) It's not like we've ever asked him to talk to anyone in English, but when we lapse into it in conversations at home, he joins us. I mean, I've had a really aggressive aunt of mine, a teacher, who has always insisted on speaking to him in English whenever she visited -- earlier he would look at her agog, wide eyed, but never understanding a word. I used to love watching them together.

I must also mention that Sonny's English has hit a high with his watching very seriously this channel called Cbeebies -- the BBC's children's channel. Saying he's addicted is an understatement. I like the channel too because there are no advertisements, the programmes are really short, and are really targeted at the pre-school age  group (at least most of those he likes watching).  Moreover, all these programmes have some form of learning woven into them -- concepts of colour, shapes, names of animals etc. There's also a show called "I can cook" which my Sonny watches like he's seriously gonna make the dish next at home! Many of the sentences are enunciated slowly, and I have often caught repeating these short sentences like "He has gone to bed", or "The sun has set" as he watches the show.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho...Jagjit Singh lives on in a smile

If you are an Indian, your music, specially your film music, is an inseparable part of your life, isn't it?
And so are the singers. And when one of these singers dies, it's as if someone in your own life has gone away. It's a voice that's been a part of your life, your growing up, your memories...

Jagjit Singh's voice was one that you came running from the kitchen, if you happened to hear it playing on TV, which was often. At least "Hosh walon ko khabar kya...." from the film Sarfarosh is a big thing on TV. He died this morning; may his soul rest in peace. May his music stir many more hearts and create in people who don't really appreciate ghazals a love for that genre of music.

For me, somehow, the songs that come instantly to my lips when I think Jagjit Singh are those from the films "Saath Saath" and "Arth". Incidentally, I discovered only today, that both were made in 1982. I don't know when exactly i got hooked to those songs, or why i bought the tape first, and then the CD...but somehow i listened to it a lot after i got married. Maybe because both movies have dealt intricately with relationships and it was a kind of Hindi cinema where the lyrics were actually meaningful, reflected the theme of the movie, made sense when heard individually too. I just can't put my finger on it. Maybe it was the perfect marriage of great lyricists like Kaifi Azmi and Javed Akhtar's words with the soulful voice of Jagjit Singh.

Even today, when I'm low, I reach out to this music. I cry sometimes listening to "Jhuki jhuki si nazar" and "Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho...".

Then there's the most hauntingly painfully truthful song from Arth:
"Koi ye kaise bataaye ke wo tanahaa kyon hai
wo jo apanaa thaa, wohee aur kisi kaa kyon hai
yahee duniyaan hain to fir, aisee ye duniyaan kyon hai?
yahee hotaa hain to, aakhir yahee hotaa kyon hai?"

There's a painful deliciousness to the sort of savour the pain in the words and when Jagjit Singh sang it, he added his own beautiful pain to it -- though, with the soothing balm of his timbre that was his trademark.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I HATE Sundays; it means so much more work!!!

I'm back from a Sunday, and actually feeling peaceful at work. ACTUALLY.

Despite the bitch of a boss and bummer colleagues who always dump me with work on go on vacations -- I've got loser written all over my forehead -- I'm just finally breathing deep in office.

It's a nasty thing to say, but come on, you MUST have felt it too... sometimes, least this one time....
You know, really, I must have said this several times on my blog, but almost on every Sunday I thank god that I don't stay at home everyday and can get away from it all by going to "work". I mean, really, office and its tensions are there too. But sometimes they seem minuscule. Women who stay at home all day, everyday, must be getting frustrated with all this at some point in time. I do it for just an entire day in a week, and I do!

Hubby came back from a  long tour, so it was good that we were all together at home after a real long time, when all of us had a holiday. But the day was so much slogging ......

There was and elaborate breakfast and lunch to be cooked (had to pamper hubby who hadn't had 'home food' in 10 days), there was the folding of the laundry, just some basic cleaning up in the kitchen, doing a check in the fridge to  put away old stuff, make space for more stuff, put away veggies and sorting greens for the next few days, li'l fellow's tantrums to tackle, lazy hubby to scream at, take Sonny to the park (raining, so run!), visit hubby's relatives (yes, that's slogging/task), come back to a lonely dinner with Sonny (hubby just fell asleep without dinner) and the worst part -- putting away all the leftovers/dishes after the Sunday dinner. That's really the worst thing.

After which.....aaargh...Sonny wanted to make a collage, so sat cutting coloured paper while half dozing off.
And in between all this, I was desperate, desperate to read -- while i couldn't get to read much of the morning's paper because Sonny sat on it, i so badly wanted to read this graphic novel my dad gifted me, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist -- A Graphic Novel. I between all this, I managed to finish it. Yipeee!!!
But how hard i struggled (Apster., I promise I'll do that post on reading/books that you tagged me for. Promise :-*). And I felt so bad for myself. Didn't watch any TV, and really struggled to read the book (was feeding Sonny while reading a large part of it, or was cooking and reading).

Honestly, whoever was talking of Sunday as a holiday wasn't thinking of women like me....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When every sentence of the day begins with WHY?

Why should I pee?
Why is there sunlight in the morning?
Why should I brush my teeth?
Why can't I swallow the toothpaste?
Why should I drink milk?
Why hasn't the maid come in yet?
Why should I go to school?
Why does the earth shake when an elephant or dinosaur stomp about?
Why does an elephant have so much strength?
Why do I have to nap?
Why should I wash my hands after touching my bum?
Why does a plant need water?
Why can't I keep an elephant at home? A real live one??
Why did you just exclaim "Ayyo"?
Why did you just hit me?
Why did you not say "sorry"?
Why are you cooking?
Why are you not wearing bangles today?
Why are you wearing MY bangles today?
Why did you just call me a "bad boy"??
Why do you have to go to office now?
Why should we wear a different dress before we go to bed every night?
Why are you wearing a bindi?
Why did you just tell me not to do that?
Why should we pray before going to bed?
Why do we have bad dreams?
Why can i not put all my fingers in my mouth at once?
Why can I not watch my favourite elephant rhyme more again?
Why do people live below our house?
Why do you want to watch TV?
Why did the cat visit our house today?
Why doesn't a cat have a house of its own?
Why can't I stay with my grandfather?
Why should we not leave the tap running?
Why does daddy always watch TV?
Why do we have to put out a milk coupon in a bag every night?
Why is it dark at night?
Why can't I drink water soon after I have my homeopathic medicine?
Why should we sleep at night?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Intelligence: what can a 3-year-old understand?

Maybe intelligence is too loaded a word, maybe understanding is what I'm talking about -- not sure, though.

Sonny turend three years old recently and he leaves me befudled by his understanding or lack of it of many things around him. Ok, before anyone can pounce on me, i know "he's only 3!!!"

I'm looking at it in relative terms -- I'm not comparing him with other kids. I'm comparing it with his comprehension of various different things.

He asks me questions about death, my aunt who died, weather we'll all "go" one day too, and seems to be pretty calm and absorbent with the explanations offered.

He wants to know what happens to food once we put it in our mouth, how mosquitoes suck our blood, how water comes out in a tap, where from etc. He understands most of the answers given.

He's able to solve pretty complex jigzaw puzzles...he also seems to have a decent memory for names, things, incidents, people, places, images... 

He's figured out that the gate mustbe closed behind him, that after eating chocolate, the wrapper must be thrown in a dustbin...

But then seemingly simple things, he can't get. Each time I raise this, a very kind ol uncle of mine says that's how kids work. What's "seemingly simple" to us adults is not necessarily simple for kids. Hmmm plausible explanation.

But he can't seem to understand that i need to eat, to pee, -- basic things that others do too -- and he does too. Why is that unacceptable? Agreed, may be he thinks it takes away from the time spent with him, but honestly, a pee? And all the time I eat at home, I eat with him or soon after him, sometimes talking to him or while playing with him. He also doent allow any people into the house (maha-embarassing) and screams when I take a phone call at home -- even as I type all this out it's getting clearer that these may be "wanting attention" issues.

He can't seem to care for explanations when he wants his way -- a sort of blocking out of logic when he wants what he does. I'm tired now of tantrums. Screaming, crying bouts for "i don't want to eat this!" or "i want to go to grandpa's RIGHT NOW", "i don't want to sleep inside the mosquito net", or "i don't want to wash my hands before eating". No explanation is acceptable when he WANTS or doesn't want these things.
He doesn't want to understand the word "no". When it's bedtime he wants to colour. When it's time for dinner he doesnt want food, when it's time to play he's hungry -- just so disturbingly so. Is it his way of telling me he's The Boss? Gawwwdddd.....
I'm not really thinking this all out clearly maybe...maybe i'm mixing up issues. But i'm just TIRED. heeelllllpppppp

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do you still feel "at home" at your mother's home?

Mother's home. Mom's place. Tavaru maney... These are phrases that really hold a deep-rooted emotional umbrella of feelings over your heart. They shade your heart from the rest of the world.

Yet, its so ironical how you feel so out of place in this same home you grew up in all your life, once you move out and have your "own" life. The umbilical cord connecting you to that distinct world "before marriage" gets stretched and strained in unimaginable ways.

No, I'm not in distress or anything...I just got thinking about it a few days ago, when I made a comment to an aunt of mine. I was visiting her. Hubby was on tour as usual. "So will you stay back at mom's tonight?" she asked casually. "No, I'm going back...I just feel more comfortable there...." without realising the horror of what has just escaped my lips. But my aunt, a decade older than me, completely identified with that and said she feels the same way too...we swept over the issue with an understanding smile for each other.

But, it is true...for me at least. maybe it is too for some other women.
My mom has always been a very strict disciplinarian, and post-marriage, the freedom from that I guess makes me feel this way. Even now when I go back to mom's I hate being whipped by her -- put the glass away after drinking tea- don't let it dry up, don't enter kitchen till you've brushed your teeth, "go, go have a bath fast", make the bed as soon as you get up, don't keep the oily ladle on the kitchen counter, don't drop food on the stove while serving yourself dinner....
I know, small things...still, no one tells you that in your home! (It's a different matter that you're saying all that to husband and child perhaps, in your own role as mother...) Sometimes I feel miserable that I take this home, these people and their presence in my life for granted. My friend who recently lost her mother always points out in times of distress "But at least you have a 'mom's home' to go to....." Oh how miserable I feel for her at such times.

I don't know if it's age, but every conversation with the parents is no longer a conversation -- it's an argument, very often a fight. Because we disagree on most things. How and when did I grow so different from them, and they from me?
I don't like being told what to do. I never liked it, but I was never so vehement in protesting either, earlier. Perhaps then, I didn't have some place to "escape" to. No "escaping to husband's" when parents piss you off.

But it's amazing how I'll still run to mom's when I'm sick, when things aren't smooth with the in-laws or hubby, when I'm just feeling low, when I don't feel like cooking. It's still a place I go to seeking solace, comfort, food, love, and the familiarity of all things childhood and growing-up. But then, there's a point when I want to return.

Whenever I point out to mom "My pollen allergy always gets triggered in YOUR house," in between my allergic sneezing bouts, it gets her all teary. "MY house..? You grew up perfectly fine here all these years..."

This thing of yours and mine, mom's and mine, parent's and husband's ... how easily we cross over, leaving behind more than two decades of what shaped us. How casually we sift and separate, distinguish and compartmentalise. How foolishly we claim what we have now is ours.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vegetarian avocado recipe - a simple sandwich spread

I'm really excited. Today's the first time I made something with avacado (butter fruit) at home. It took me five minutes to make, that's the best part of it...

And what a day to make it. It is Varamahalakshmi pooja today. We don't do an elaborate pooja, so I had time on my hands. But this is the fastest thing to make.

A colleague had given me a ripe avacado from her friend's garden. So I couldn't keep it a day longer -- it was RIPE.
I've eaten avacados at restaurants and at friend's places, but never made it myself.
Didn't know it was this simple.

Here's what I did:
1. Halve the avacado
2. Discard the seed and the brown skin around it if it's stuck to the pulp
3. Scoop out the fruit/pulp with a sharp steel spoon
4. I mashed it with the spoon once -- it was easy and smooth
5. Add salt to taste, a pinch of sugar, some fresh ground pepper, finely chopped fresh coriander (kothambri), squeeze in a dash of lime (all this to take away it's slightly bitter after-taste).
You can add mashed green chillies for fire. I didn't because I was hoping to con Sonny Boy into eating it. You can also add in some mashed garlic pods and finely chopped raw onion for crunch (these two elements were a no-no today, it being a festival)
6. I also added some fresh cream (it was around in the fridge), and grated in some cheese - just for effect :-)
7. Spread this on a slice of bread, top it with finely chopped capsicum/green bell pepper and finely chopped ripe tomatoes. You can use any other vegetable/greens of your choice. This is just what I quickly did. I think boiled potato will work well.
8. I sprinkled some more salt
9. I closed it with one more slice of bread, also spread with the avacado mix on the inside
10. Toast it in one of those plug-in electric toasters/sandwich grills

I LOVED THE RESULT. Had a yummy breakfast...with tomato ketchup

I guess you can use your imagination and add anything to the avacado mash -- garam masala, dhania/jeera powder and turmeric, maybe chopped spinach, olives, ajwain....i don't know -- i'm going to try other combos soon

Avacados apparently consist of "good fat", multi-vitamins, specially Vitamin K and folate. It's high calorie, yes, but worth its weight in nutrition too, so it's fine i guess.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The birthday blues...not so blue after all

Each year, Sonny Boy's birthday brings on the worries. I know it's hardly the feeling to be associated with birthdays, specially of your child.

But only a mother like me who has an extensive web of relatives and friends living around, and who are more enthusiastic about your son's birthday than you are, (and whose parents pressure her into throwing a party
;-)) -- will know what I mean. And specially an Indian mother who has her child's birthday bang in the middle on the Monsoons, when the party surely gets rained out. And specially so when your own birthday is a few days apart from your child's, and you well, end up slogging on your own birthday :-( because the party inevitably happens a few days after his date...

After last year's experience, I learnt a few lessons.
I also spent a good month wondering what would make Sonny really happy -- I mean what kind of party....
So I ended up throwing two parties!!!!!
One to please my parents and all of Sonny Boy's grandparents/ great-grandparents (he has many!).
Then another one so that he's surrounded by kids and behaves like one! -- This one was for the limited number of friends he has -- apartment kids, my best friend's kid, my nieces and nephews. Of course, my own cousins were on the list too.

We decided
1. No party in a hotel or hired hall, no theme, no magicians, no "activities", no games
2. It has to be indoors (rain can't spoil all the fun, just some!)
3. No extravagant stuff
4. No exotic menu
5. No return gifts (kids these days who come to parties EXPECT  them!)
6. Menu would be good ol' cake-chips-juice-sandwich kind of stuff

Yeah I'm one mean money-saving mum, but damn, have you checked out what birthdays outside the home cost these days?!

Well, we pretty much stuck to the plan and it was fun to see Sonny and the kids hide under the bed and play, dance to rhymes on the DVD...they even opened some presents and played with the toys....
But damn, like every year, I promise myself, yet again, I'm not doing a party next year. :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mr. Rules - Everything must be just so

Sonny Boy rules my life (no, I'm NOT proud of it). He has rules for everything. He has rules for every ritual in his life  -- each activity in his everyday life is a ritual. I'm not joking, its FRUSTRATING. Here's what's pissing me off these days...I just endured an episode early this morning, at about 4.30 a.m.

1. Mummy must never pee. He seems to have SOMETHING against it. I have talked it out with him, tried reasoning with him, always keep the bathroom door open lest he thinks I'm going to get sucked down the commode...I've told him I can't pee where I stand in the house, or in a diaper like him at night...I've pointed out that he pees! And waste must go out of the body or we'll be ill blah blah....he listens with big eyes and then weeps to say "You must not do soosoo"!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. His nose must be wiped in the precise strokes he specifies -- it must be pressed hard with a kerchief and you must wok on it from top to nose tip -- the hanky must never be inserted in the nostril. We've tried telling him he can please wipe his own nose whichever way he likes, but no. WE must only do it, and it can only be done HIS way, or there's more tears and snot.

3. Now that Bangalore's getting colder, he pees himself silly through the night. However thick the diaper, he leaks out the front from top (aaargh the boy thing!). He's smart enough to wake me in the middle of the night most of the time and tell me "I've done susoo", which usually indicates his diaper is FULL. But then, I'm supposed to change him without switching on the lights! Bleary-eyed blimey me... If I switch on even like a night lamp he'll wail like a banshee and wake up the entire apartment. I cannot wash hands, throw soiled diaper in dustbin, basically get out of his radar....Oh and yes, it must be his brand of diaper or he has issues with that.....I know a whole lot of parents are nodding their heads as they read this, thinking I'm this loser complying to his every demand. But's really challenging to put up with his tantrums at the end of a long working day.

4. He has a set order in which things must happen -- saying goodbye to my parents every night is done in a particular order and way, if its sandals he's wearing, only he must put them on -- any attempt to help buckling up results in a tantrum, dinner must be served in an order -- chapati first, rice later. If it's a holiday, by noon he has to be at his grandparents', there must be just that amount of toothpaste on his brush, the water to rinse his mouth must be put into mouth in that one same direction/angle always

I've considered if he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)... is it possible to have a child checked for it? I wonder sometimes if it's a sign of anything else...don't want to take names unnecessarily...I wonder if its just me who needs to see a therapist, giving in, as I am, to most of his stupid "rules". Anybody out there with an insistent child like this? He'll be three next month -- I can't even blame it on the Terrible Twos anymore....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Celebrating my 100th post...with a vacation

It feels wonderful to celebrate landmarks. And this, officially, and finally, is my 100th post! (I had counted it wrong earlier hehehehhe).

I was reading some of the first few posts I had written over a year ago, and was thinking, damn, did I write all this? But then, isn't that the point of blogging? To be able to put down in words all that you feel in that moment -- capture your moment, your thoughts -- sometimes it's an instant reaction to a situation, sometimes some long-boiling angst that finally brims over. Sometimes a joy that must be shared, sometimes something you just want to tell the world, or just yourself. It's ironic you can do all these diverse things in one space. There's anonymity, there's companionship and camaraderie. There's a singular line of thought -- yours-- and a collective reading and identifying with -- through others.

I've enjoyed this space much more than I thought I would, made more friends that I ever thought I could on the web, I've said things that would otherwise be harakiri, and gotten away with it. And all this while it's been my little private hidden secret (at least I think it still is, except if office spy ware is blipping every word to the BOSS).

I was away on a week's vacation (almost) and it co-incided with what would be my 100th post. I thought I'll blog leisurely on vacation. But Ma Nature decided it was time for a break -- even from blogging and connectivity etc. This one picture, hopefully will be the picture postcard of my secret vacation spot amidst the mountains and clouds, rolling estates and beautiful skylights.

I took this picture myself, haven't touched it up or anything, so its real light, real beauty, real colours etc. Feeling pretty proud of it. It was the view from the bungalow we stayed in ....aaah to watch the clouds pass by in a tableaux as you sip hot morning tea...that's a vacation. And that's celebration.

I must stop gloating to thank all the people who bother to read my ramblings, all fellow-mums who stop by to share, advise, rant, appreciate, identify and disagree. When I started writing this blog, I was naive about the world of blogs...didn't know so many people really interacted in such a space. I was initially writing more for myself, then a bit of consciousness crept in -- ummm... "someone may be reading, so be responsible about what you say" kind.  It made me feel good about my writing. I've stood exposed sometimes, vindicated on others, and overall it's been a most fruitful experience.

Of course I came back from the mountains and clouds with a thud -- on our return both Sonny Boy and me have been sick as sick can be...but we're slowly boing-ing back into more posts will follow in quicker succession.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tagged: Five things motherhood/parenthood has taught me

Aparna of Adventures In Mommyland tagged me and threw this challenge in my face and others' -- to list five things we've learnt from motherhood (parenthood, I'm adding, so that dads don't feel left out). Two more friends and mommy bloggers she tagged have given enthusiastic responses:
Uma of My Musings has already posted
Aparna of Life As a Mom also has!! (enthu cutlets all)
So I must hurry up and rustle up my own and not bore you guys ;-)

There are, as all mommy bloggers point out, SO MANY things we learn. Here's hoping I can figure five out to share.

1. Your child makes sure you acknowledge so many things/people you would have otherwise ignored -- You life is divided into perspectives pre-parenthood, and post-child (PR and PC). Your eyes look at every single thing in the world, even the most simplest, in a complicated way.
I mean who would have thought that leaving a knife on the dining table casually after cutting an apple can be dangerous- in your heydays as a couple you always did it. Who would have thought little people need you to change your furniture so they don't bump their heads? Who would have thought that chatty aunt you didn't really like would turn out to be your child's best play companion? Who would have thought you will be so nanny-dependent that you want to frame their photos and pray to them? Who would have thought you would decide a vacation spot after checking if there's a swing and slide around and if they have curd-rice on offer!

2. That there can be many million kinds of mothers -- the beating kind, the yelling kind, the showering-with-love-and-food kind, the cribbing kind (me me me), the rational kind, the unreasonable kind, the very practical kind, the lost kind, the I'm-in-charge-and-everything-is-fine kind, my-kid's-the-centre-of-my-universe kind,  --  the list is endless. And very often we are all these or some of these at various challenging stages of our child. But one factor unites us all in purpose -- our child.

3. That you must make decisions for your child (you can't always leave these decisions to husband/grandparents and hope you can blame them later in life), be responsible for them, be answerable to the world about them, seem like you know everything, seek advise like you know nothing, be able to ignore advise, and hope and pray frantically that you did things right for that one being you added to this world. Even if it meant you stuck out like a sore thumb among other "better" mothers who got it right "better".

4. The acceptance that "comparison" is going to be the hallmark of your life from the day your child is born -- starting with whether your child's nose looks like your grandfather's or hubby's aunt's, to was he breast-fed or bottle-fed, to comparing your parenting styles with your parents', which school does neighbour's cousin's child go to, what are you doing for your child's birthday this year, which is your kid's favourite TV show, does he eat vegetables --ayyoo mine just doesn't etc. And this is just the BEGINNING.  

5. It has opened my eyes to my many million limitations -- your way of dealing with your child, really is a good way of figuring out your own faults -- yes, our abilities too -- but those we are far more willing to point out to, accept and bask in the glory of. It is your failings that your child holds a mirror to. And I'm not complaining about it or making it a negative mark -- but honestly, where else will you find such a good critic, who'll show you your faults, not in malice, but in all innocence, without ever pointing fingers at you, but with a warm smile and hug?

Hmm now to tag some others to join in and be challenged:
I tag
Garima (who's been tagged already, but I hope two tags means more pressure to write fast!)
Spicy Sweet (my new friend on this blog)
Crabby Mommy (whom I haven't said hello to in a while)
Naveen Bachwani (I've added a doting dad, to be fair and not make it an all-mom list) 

Friday, June 24, 2011

A celebration of my child and my motherhood

Wow! I'm inching towards 100 posts...and to think that a few days after I started this blog, I had that oh-my-God-what-will-i-write-here-everyday-moment!

I decided today I will NOT do what I always do on this blog -- crib, complain and whine.

Instead I will celebrate the reason for this blog -- Sonny Boy and motherhood -- two things that sent my life, body, being, existence into a tizzy, and have after a point become one inseparable blob.

After another month, Sonny Boy turns three. And as much as I, a mean mother, paint a picture of him as being this little terror, he's really not. Well, not always ;-) Here are things about him at this stage that I've observed, and mostly love :-)

*He's got the sweetest smile ever -- something I'd like to believe he inherited from me.

*He's right now on a "story high" -- voraciously flipping through books, telling himself stories, concocting stories for us, constantly badgering us to tell him stories (without looking in the book, he warns!), or sometimes insisting on being read to, in English, and asking for word meanings in Kannada. His hot favourite story is "The Billy Goats Gruff", (I think Ladybird reader series), which only last night he, me and my parents had to enact, with his directions! Of course I get to play the troll (Rakshasa in his understanding) because I have that laugh!

*He talks endlessly and LOUDLY (is is something to do with their generation? he almost screams, he just can't talk soft!). (I'm not cribbing, just amused)

* He's started humming and singing to himself as he plays, or talks to himself, something that amuses us all to no end.

*He's told me I talk too much!

*He's comfy staying overnight with my parents (or rather my dad), and does it every time Hubby travels, which is turning out to be pretty often. He's also Ok with travelling to Hubby's parents' town and staying there with daddy -- that's a lot of growing up he's done this year.

*He challenges my creativity -- what can we do next is constantly on his mind -- so I go back from work to dribble the ball with him in my parents' garden, put together five or six jigsaw puzzles, then off home for dinner, then more games, building blocks, colouring, read storybook "Polar bear polar bear what do you hear? in bed, and THEN, sleep! God give me strength, energy and patience to deal with him.

*My levels of patience have definitely gone up a few hundred notches, though I admit, I still have a loooong way to go.

*He loves playing "homeopathy doctor" at home, dishing out "sugar pills" to us patients and telling us the rules we must follow when taking the medicine.

*His questions these days -- how does the mosquito suck blood? , how does the fan get switched on?, where does the water in the tap come from?, where does food go after it enters our mouth....these are answers I can tell in my sleep now, because I must've told them at least 20 times over.

*He's beginning to pick up some English while talking (otherwise restricted to rhymes and starting stories with 'Once upon a time'). An the smatterings of English in between Kannada is really fun to listen to. He also sings copious amounts of rhymes in Hindi, a hot favourite being "Saari duniya gol gol" as the playschool is teaching them concepts of the circle.

*He decides what he's going to have for dinner...and of course changes his choice midway!

*He loves the story of "Hanuman: The Monkey God" as he says it, repeating it for effect, and I guess this book is from the stables of Amar Chitra Katha. He has this story read to him at least once a day.

*He stumped me by showing interest, and in actually doing and completed three pieces of coloured sand art -- you know the DIY kinds where you sprinkle this coloured sand on sticky paper with a numbered design... out emerges a colourful bee, a butterfly or snail.

*I love the cuddling and snuggling soon after he wakes up, I love the way he reminds me every night to keep  the milk coupon and bag outside, I love the way he asks if we are all "real"!!!!

*I love the way he tries to soothe me if I'm in pain, rubs my tum and tells me I'll be ok soon. I really get ok instantly with that innocent reassurance.

* I love the way he brokers deals and puts conditions -- ending most of his propositions with "Ok naa?" (Is it ok?) I love his enthusiasm for putting up the mosquito net every night.

* I love the way he's decided he can make his own decisions -- what he will wear to school, what he wants in his lunchbox (he's pretty reasonable), how much he will eat, when he wants an eggroll for dinner, that he will participate with dad in Sunday pooja and be the bell-ringer during aarti, that I must go home while he stays with my parents, I love the way he asks if the maid and nanny have been given their breakfast, Oh god...I love him.

Hmmm.....about this post celebrating my motherhood, I'll do it another time I guess. I'm exhausted now ;-)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Must I be judged for being a mom who works outside?

It really hurts when you're judged as a mother, when the people judging you are your own -- friends you grew up with, spent the most beautiful years of your life with, and are fellow moms themselves.

Met up with college friends over the's s close-knit group of about eight. I took Sonny Boy to the meet since a friend had landed from the U.S. and hadn't seen him; every one wanted to see everyone else's kids. And we all hope that our kids, like us, will be friends too. Moreover three other kids were coming along. I didn't realise he would be the youngest and get bored...he did. The older kids left out this bachcha. So he got irritable and clingy.

My friends immediately started saying "It's ok, poor thing, it's probably because you are never there with him", "He rarely gets time with you, so obviously he'll cling to you", "All he wants is your attention when you ARE around"  and other variations of it! I mean, come on, he's not even three and the place was unfamiliar and so were most of the people... But my friends made it a point to tell me how it happens to kids of mums who're away at work.

I left the get together depressed and came home almost in tears. It's like you can never do anything right if you're a mom who goes to work. You must be made to feel guilty for it. One of them asked me "Looks like you're really enjoying your job," making it sound like an accusation. Like she almost wanted me to admit that I was working because I had to, not because I wanted...

On returning home, I put Sonny to sleep and spent the afternoon furiously digging mud, re-potting and doing some gardening simply to work off my anger and frustration in a constructive way. All the while, I sat wondering what it was about the noon that really pissed me off.

I love my friends. We've been in touch 12 bloody years, which is a difficult thing, and we do form a good supportive network for each other  -- whether it's during a divorce, death or birth in the family. They are people I look to for help/advise/fun.

What struck me later while I was thinking, as I sat breaking down hard mud was that all of the moms in our group are stay-at-home-mums. I have nothing against SAHMs or my friends who are SAHMs. But I thought it was unfair of them to kind of pity me and my child -- Sonny for not having mum around, and me, for not being around. I even considered their statements in the light that at least three of them had tried to kickstart their career after having children and hadn't really gotten far successfully for various reasons. I'm not trying to be mean here; I appreciate the efforts they have made, but were they holding it against me that I was working while they were not? Yeah, now I sound like the mean b****, but then that thought did occur, frankly.

They asked me why I fed him first and ate later; a bad idea, they pointed out. They asked me if I travel with him a lot and when I said no, they described how they were so often on the road with their kids, and how I shouldn't worry about food and such things etc. I guess they were trying to egg me on, encourage me, but somehow I ended up feeling belittled, I don't know why.

Like I didn't have enough people around me --  starting with old people in my apartment to random aunts who I meet at "family gatherings" -- who judge me for how my child behaves, eats, pulls up his t-shirt to reveal his tummy etc, now I had my friends looking at me with a magnifying glass.

I've never been so uncomfortable at a gathering with friends and never felt more like getting out of there fast as I did yesterday. Maybe I need to take some time to think deep about this, look at myself more objectively...maybe all that I'm saying here is an instant reaction to the whole incident. I don't know. But it's left me shaken and questioning myself.

I also had a mom who worked and I didn't turn out too bad. Ok, so I was and am an attention-seeking person, but maybe that's my personality type. I don't think I should blame my mum for it....I don't know...but damn! Being a mom is not easy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I had one of THOSE days. It was beautiful

I watched a French movie last night about four Jewish women trying to find love in Paris.
I slept like a log (touch wood) and woke up at 8 a.m.
I woke up to a terribly quiet house today.
I read the whole newspaper (almost) on the potty today
I actually did yoga for almost 45 mins with no interruptions (except when the dhobi came to pick up clothes).
I actually gardened for about 20 mins flat!
I lugged in the new cooking gas cylinder the delivery man had left at the door!
I paid the newspaper delivery man
I didn't cook breakfast, lunch or dinner...just ate some toasted bread
I cleaned the drawing hall, changed the diwan covers
I listened to songs on the radio while working around the house (here's a pix of one of my latest projects -- trying to pair my gardening attempts with refurbishing and revamping my great-grandfather's old hat stand/coat hanger)

I spotted two red-whiskered bulbuls on the neighbour's coconut tree
I actually had a hairwash without anyone knocking on the bathroom door
I picked up lunch on the way to work from my mom's.
WOW I loved my day till this far...afterwards it was work as usual.....

I relished my morning ....yes, that would describe it so perfectly.
Sonny Boy is really growing up. Sometimes i feel sad that he's probably "growing away" also pretty soon. I missed him so much since last night. It was too quiet...but still, it was  quietness I miss from my earlier days.
With the hubby travelling and Sonny deciding to stay with grandpa yet again last night, it was MY day.
Yeah, I'm sounding selfish, all over again.
Yeah, I know, there are many raised eyebrows that I'm getting "too much time" for myself these days (any guesses who's raising the eyebrow?! ;-)
But there's no such thing as too much time for yourself.
Because when we women do get time for "ourselves" we don't run to have a massage or pedicure. We clean the home, prep it up, do things for family.
That's how we are. Because when we go to a salon or parlour, we'll feel GUILTY that we spent so much time on ourselves. The irony of our lives!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A recipe for capsicum barda palya

Ok I have a recipe after a long time.
I'm sure many people must be making this, or variations of it.

But i'm so thrilled mine turned out great today and I must put it down for myself. I used to make it earlier but in the past three years, for some unfathomable reason, I had stopped.

Including a dal in a subji/palya is a great way for me to mask the taste of a vegetable you don't like (i would love to try this with cabbage which i hate in the cooked form). It also adds volume when you're short of any vegetable. And most importantly it easily adds protein to your day's requirements.

What you need:
Capsicum - 4, chopped medium
Onion - 2, chopped
Kadle bele/Channa dal - a small cup
Green chilli -one (more if you like your food spicy)
Curry leaves
Red chilli powder
Lime or amchoor powder
For seasoning -- mustard, jeera, oma/ajwain, uddin bele/urad dal
Salt and sugar to taste

1. Soak the channa dal for two hours. Drain excess water.
2. Pop it into the mixer along with the chillie, some chunks of ginger, some jeera,  salt and sugar to taste, turmeric, a dash of red chilli powder, curry leaves and coriander (chopped)
3. Grind it (DON'T ADD WATER), but just enough to make it a grainy grainy  mixture -- don't let it become a paste. It should be's ok if you see some unground pieces of dal in it as well.
4. Heat oil in a pan/kadai/bandle, splutter the seasoning (you can vary it and add all you want).
5. Fry the onions light brown.
6. Add the dal mixture and cook it well too (it cooks pretty fast). Cover and let it cook, but keep stirring or dal may stick.
7. Add the capsicum.
8. Taste and check to adjust salt /spice levels. You can sprinkle on some red chilli powder if it sin't giving you a kick ;-)
9. Sprinkle on some drops of lime or add some amchoor powder to add the tang. Cover for a short while and it's done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sonny Boy's travelling itch

So Sonny's done it again.
He went to Hubby's hometown on his own, with just his pappa as travel partner.
This is his second time in less than two months. I'm proud of him and the Pappa.
But it's also the beginnngs of the "I'll cut the strings and run" syndrome that our kids are sure to be prone to as they grow up.
He seemed so happy yesterday telling me he had fun without me, and will soon do it again! The little rascal hah!
Of course he's come back this time, not with the usual cold and loosies, but some sort of allergic rashes. Little pimply specs all over his arms and legs. If it doenst subside by tonight with anti-allergic syrup and a calamine lotion to contain the itch, it's back to the doc tomorrow :-(

In the meanwhile I've managed to clean parts of the home while he dad-and-son were gone, visit an ailing friend in hospital, buy new ceramic plant holders for the home, increase my collection of plants outside the door, buy myself two new pairs of shoes, take my parents out to lunch, READ, READ READ, call up cousins and friends and chat, upload photographs .....aaah so much done, so much more that could have been done.

Work has been getting worse by the day. Cooking, gardening and planning for my SIX MEALS A DAY -- all that's been taking up time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Started another blog... my weight loss attempts

I suddenly realised, after I started a new blog that I'm just some 10 days from the fisrt anniversary of this blog!

I've been travelling again (yes I left Sonny Boy again with my parents to travel on work for two days) and thinking a lot with the time on hand. I've decided to do something about my health in a positive direction. Staring with a decent amount of food control, exercise and hopefully some weight loss. And in the long run I hope I get healthier.

Dedcided to start a new blog for it as I didn't want to mix things up with this blog.
So here's the link -- I've not done much with it yet. Hope the blogging keeps me motivated to stay on track this time at least.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Staying away from child -- Part 2. Sonny travelled without me

Sonny Boy did his first travel independent of mummy. Of course Daddy was with him.
It was almost like a challenge for Daddy Dearest -- he had to kind of prove that Sonny could survive without Mummy. That he could take care of him on his own. That his parents could handle him as well as mine!

And so they set out last Saturday morning, making the long journey to my in-laws' hometown partly by train and partly by road.
The day before he set out Sonny had the loosies! So I packed all his medicines (emergency and otherwise -- homeopathy mostly) and sent him off with a hug and prayer. The morning of the journey though, he protested going. It was pouring like crazy in Bangalore at 4.30 a.m. and my dad had to be brought into the scene to soothe him and accompany him to the railway station.

I felt like a helicopter mom as i made calls every 1.5 hours to hubby after they boarded the train, asking if Sonny was OK, if he had the loosies again, if he'd eaten, if he'd drunk milk, if he'd allowed the husband to go pee...

Apparently he was entertained enough by a fellow passenger "uncle" and some rhyme DVDs played on the husband's laptop. Hubby's entire khaandaan landed at the station where they got off to accompany little Sonny for the last leg of the journey by road -- bro-in-law drove them down home -- a good three hours again.

 Phew! The worst was over. I'd been having nightmares -- Sonny will scream and cry in the train, hubby wont be able to calm him, people around will suspect him of running away with a child, they will cluck-cluck in sympathy about the poor child forced to travel without a mother (yeah I'm filmi...I was raised on a diet of Hindi cinema), someone will pull chain/stop train and they will be forced to get down and catch a taxi back home from the nearest town...

And when i was relieved that this wouldn't happen, I calmed down. I also realised what a fool I've been to think I'm so indispensable in his life. No one ever is. It's something we fool ourselves with, building this notion of grandeur and importance about ourselves, for ourselves.

Next I decided I'll do things for myself. Another TOUGH thing. I realised my life is so centred around Sonny, I couldn't really "do" much except shopping, a date with my best friend from college days, took my mum out. Wanted a pedicure, but couldn't fit it into my busy schedule ;-) I slept. I read like crazy. I actually got to READ Sunday newspaper supplements in peace.

Sonny came back two days ago, after a three-day independent vacation, travelling with daddy, a return night journey by bus (WOW!!!) et all. And he's back to hugging me, crying like crazy, taking my trip etc. He came back pampered, a bit grown up, pretty spoilt, and with more loosies than i can handle!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finally some attempt at "gardening"

I've been very excited about balcony gardening  and trying to grow plants in the teeny-weenie utility balcony at the back of the house and the small porch in the front of our door where the shoe rack and newspapers are.

Started out with a tulsi (courtesy: mom-in-law) and the hardy money plant. Both are alive and kicking.
There's also calendula, balsam, ferns, and some crotons (I think...need to figure out). There's also a mini jade growing in water. Not too sure it's douing too well. Waitinga and watching that one.

I gave in to temptation and bought a small bougainvillea, yet to be shifted to a large pot but sitting at our home entrance now.

I've also tried growing one croton completely in just water,in a glass vase  what's called hydrophonic gardening. I just change the water once a week, top up if the levels fall, and wash the leaves gently with water once a week. It's been around over two months now -- I'm proud to report its got water roots! It's also sprouted a new baby branch -- a good sign which means this one is growing!

So that's the plant in the glass vase in the first picture, and below are the plant's roots. The tiny little branch in the centre is the newborn. Yipeeeeeee

That's a pot of ferns that a colleague's mom gifted. Again, the intense heat of the balcony burnt some of them. But, new ones are sprouting ever since I shifted it to the front porch, so there's hope...

Ok so i BOUGHT a bougainvillea. Not a done thing in must try and grow your own. But this one's a difficult guy to grow so I used the shortcut. Hope I don't kill it.

This is the kind of hedge plant that seems to be grown everywhere..specially parks. So you know where I snipped this one from...;-) Trying to see if it'll settle down and "grow" in the stone vase

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why do we parents worry so much about our children's education?

I'm stumped with Sonny Boy. Today was his first day at "summer camp". His playhome is having about two hours of it spread over 15 days, so I said why not? It's his familiar environment, his friends will be around, plus some new kids...he'll get to do something in a group and will be IN THE COMPANY OF KIDS
But he went today kicking and screaming!!!

Last night, while I was trying to get him excited/accepting of summer camp, he clearly told me he does not want to go to this school again! He said he doesn't want the same teachers and the same school. He wants "hosa" (new) school. Then added he wants to go to a "big children's school". Jeeez...just when I had resolved that he'll continue in this playhome. I've been trying to ask him what he doesn't like about the place, why he won't go....I've done this before but with no great results. But his NO last night was vociferous.

So I'm in a dilemma again. Must I listen to him? Does it mean anything? Or is it just a general refusal to go to school leaving behind parents/grandparents?If I change playschool now, will he be happy? If I give in now and change school, will he ask for a change if he takes a dislike to that new place? aaargh it's frustrating.

How many of us really go through so much thinking about which school to put our kids in. I was chatting with my dad and figured when I needed to be put in school as a kid, they were clear of two things -- it had to be a girls' school and a convent at that, because, well, a "convent education" was good! It had to be nearby and affordable. So they put me in the neighbourhood convent where my older cousin sis went! That's it. It was as simple as that! My dad laughs and says they never enquired whether it was ICSE/SSLC. "I had no clue about all that" dad said. Even now, as we discuss Sonny Boy's education, my dad has simply decided he'll go to the nearest/most affordable school. That's it.

And here I am letting my brain explode worrying:
2. Does the school only stress on academics or co-curricular activities also of importance to them?
3 All boy's/co-ed?
4. criteria: nearby/good school (even if it's far off?)
5. mainstream/alternate?
6. normal-old-time-conventional/hep-with-it-modern-day
7. I worry sick if the school has a playground -- most don't!

I worry about sending him to "big" schools where kids of rich parents come, but where the "exposure" and "opportunities" are better. We're by no means affluent, and am scared if kid demands the privileges his peers have. I know that's not the point of school. But these are things that come along with school, and boy! Have i heard some horror stories. Will alternate schooling give him a privileged edge, a chip on the shoulder....what? what?

But then, am I curbing his aspirations by putting him in a school where these things don't matter much. What if he turns back at me when he grows up and asks why didn't you put me in school A/school B. Or worse still what if he asks him why I didn't give him a "better" education/opportunity?

I was chatting with my aunt's friend (a teacher for over 20 years), and asked her if her kids ever came back and asked her why she sent them to the neighbourhood school. She said yes. Her son did feel disappointed that he didn't have the confidence, neither the English-speaking skills that his friends from other "big schools" had when he went to college... he was disappointed but she pointed out that he was doing as well as the "other" kids and that he had moved ahead based on his own talent.

I'm just saying the decision making for us as parents has gotten so much more harder -- with more choice.
Like all things that leave us confused with choice, so does our children's education.

 And then again, me and Hubby wonder -- what's the purpose of all this education?  In the race of life, it's to get the marks to get into college. Then "job". Really...but the human interactions, the people around at this time of life, the sense of achievement/learning leave such a crucial impact on their life, it's hard not to worry.

Then there's the pressure not to put pressure on the child! it's that. No I'm joking. But I really don't want him to bury his face in books, doing homework and "mugging" texts all the while.

What do I want from his schooling? That's a question I'm still unable to answer for myself. I mean, if i could, then I would know for sure where I want to enroll him. Even my own expectations of the education system is complex i guess, but what it has to offer is equally complex...

I know I'm rambling and just going directionless...but then that's the point of my blog, right? What my head is crammed with i put down here because I can't drive everyone crazy with my anxieties

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Admission admission: I didn't do it!!!

So I'm in an ugly situation. Had a fight with the husband today -- over Sonny Boy's "school admission".
Ok, so he's 2.8. He's going to playschool.

While I largely want him to be in an informal playschool set up a while longer, everyone around me is freaking me out about "putting him into school" and with that dreaded word "admission". My dad went with a  vengeance to a nearby school today (because neither hubby nor I were showing any interest) and of course, admission is frozen for 2011 nursery already! I mean, surprise surprise! And he gave me the meanest looks ever and told me in not so few words that I wasn't cariong enough for Sonny's education.

I really don't want him to go to school. I protest. But it seems the world is differently wired. I'm "already late" and don't stand a chance in the flood of education. If I don't put him in nursery, nobody's going to give him admission in first standard?!! There are "feeder schools" and my Sonny's isn't one of them. Sonny's playschool isn't even the competitive sort....which is why I think I put him there in thge first place. God! I'm going around in circles again...

Ok my research has been abysmal. I havent given it enough time and seriousness.

I have also posted all this on Parentree (a more sober un-cribbing version) because parents there seem to know everything/keep track and are always helpful and forthcoming with advise. I hope to post any replies here too, so that it's of help to any other parent who's in a similar situation (not that any other parent can be as muddled as I am now).

I'm feeling guilty. My Sonny's lost a year? Does that mean anything at this age? Am I taking all this too casually? Or is my brain addled with ignorance and nothingness?

After all no one's going to come drop off a seat at my doorstep...hahahah it's way far off the mark. I'll probably go about begging, trying to use "influence", ugh , and doing what not....FOR ADMISSION!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Does a second child make your first one happier?

It's crazy that I'm even thinking about it. And those who know me and how I protest a second child will sadistically say "Aaah see, we knew you would come around to this..."

My point is, does having a second child benefit the older one, and, eventually the second child too? I'm beginning to think my little fella is lonely. When I say benefit, I mean from the company.

Two things happened yesterday. It was Ugadi, we were all at home. Suddenly Sonny said "Where's my tamma paapa (younger brother/baby)?" He has a doll that he calls that -- TP -- I'll call him. But he doesn't play with that doll all the time. He just lies around the house randomly mostly. But suddenly Sonny's love for TP overflows. Yesterday he held him and brought him on teh bike to my parents' place. There he put him on his lap and put him to bed. On teh bike, he held his hand on his head saying "Otherwise the sun will hit him hard on the head!"!!!! I was a Melting Mommy.

I asked him "So do you really want a TP (younger brother)? A real one? Not this doll..." And he promptly said "No, I want this doll TP ONLY." I was in splits.

Later in the evening I took him to my best friend's place. She too has an only child -- a daughter -- and after their usual measuring up of each other, trying to snatch toys from each other routine, they were both jumping around in the apartment courtyard so happily together.

I was honestly happy to see him play WITH SOMEONE HIS OWN AGE.
It's such a frustrating life. I can't take him to playgroup because I'm hardly ever home. My parents refuse to; they prefer the arrangement of a nanny/maid to that of day care/play group.
I've only seen Sonny play with older folk.
I'm feeling guilty that I'm killing his childhood by dumping him with adults all day long.

There are some older kids in our apartment but he's barely there. And there are no kids around where my folks stay -- which is where he is most of the time.

At the cost of sounding stupid and crazy i feel like having a second child so that my first has company!! But it doesn't sound right at all. That messes up my mind further.

Sonny's going through a phase where he's being so difficult and stubborn and cranky and headstrong. And like in India everyone says to anyone who's a bit "off the track" in adult years -- "shaadi kara do, sab theek ho jaayega", now everyone says to me "have another baby, he'll become ok". I'm actually giving it some thought now. Should I, would I, could I? Do I really want to? Ufffffffff

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't you miss your child and want him away -- all at the same time?

I thought I was incapable of an emotion like "missing" my son when all I wanted was him off my hands at various points in the day/week...just to finish some pending work, just for some "me" time, to fold the laundry, finish cooking... or just for some peace and quiet or watching a movie -- completely -- at one stretch.

But honestly, of late, it's been happening often.
When I had a bad tummy last month, my in-laws took him off my hands for two days in a row. And boy! Did i miss him! I wanted/needed the rest and got it. But I was so lost without him. It's only at such times, when you get off the highway of motherhood, that you realise how your life is SO centred around your child.
So much so that you don't know what to do with yourself...or the husband.

I was really feeling guilty for having sent him if I'd banished him from my life, as if i wasn't fulfilling my responsibilities as mom....aaargh GUILT

And yet all I had wanted was the peace and quiet. I was also too physically exhausted to be able to do anything for him...yet....I wanted to. I'm sure all of us feel this way, right? Just that it's happened so often in the last two months, I'm actually surprised with myself.

I was down with a flu-like condition again this week and didn't want to give it to Sonny so I'd packed him off to my parents' this time for two nights in a row. I really started missing him, cuddling up to him, hearing his nonstop patter about elephants, toys, his teacher, schoolmates...his stupid antics that irritate me otherwise.

The little rogue so enjoyed the stay with my dad that it's been an uphill task to peel him away from my parents' home and bring him back after i return from work! He stayed back an extra night, very sweetly asking me "please ma, one night more". I just couldn't say no. Yesterday, my dad begged me to take him back with me!!! HAHAHAHA

I kept thinking, no wonder it's so difficult for older people to let go of their children when they grow up, go out of the country to study, settle in different countries or cities... after so many years....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Remedies/ cure for tonsilitis/ mouth ulcers

Tonsilitis going around in circles now. Sonny Boy's got it from me I suppose :-( Ugh ugh ugh.
So it's three nights of fever in a row for Sonny Boy. And three sleepless, restless nights for him and me. Coming tired and with a persistent headache to work from lack of sleep isn't exactly exciting.

What do you give kids when they have a persistent low-grade fever? It's not high enough to even give the gunky Calpol. And I sometimes belive the fever should not be suppressed. But it tires him out.... Ugh.

Raising a kid, specially a toddler is SUCH a tiring thing. How did our grandmas have four and five kids? Did they never tire? Did they never scream "Enough!!!"?

My attack of tonsilitis/ulcers/sores in the mouth has finally come down. But Sunday and Monday were hell. I couldn't speak or eat -- two things I LOVE.

Here's my list fo things to do to reduce the discomfort of tonsilitis/ulcers/sores in mouth:
1. Coconut oil: Use a sterilised cotton swab. Dip it in coconut oil and paint the insides of your mouth with it. IT REALLY HELPS. BIG TIME. Just don't eat or drink anything for a few minutes after that.
2. Gargle, rinse, swish your mouth with warm (not hot) water, salted with rock salt. About half a tea-spoon to a full glass. Do this at least twice.
3. A germicide gargle will help. But if teh ulcers are too severe, it HURTS. Ouch!
4. I've read it several times on the Internet. Tried it for the first time -- make a decoction of fenugreek seeds (methi seeds/mentya) by boiling it in water and rinse your mouth/gargle in throat with it.
5. Milk!!! Milk --- warm or room temperature helps, when sipped slowly. Some soothing effect. In India it's believed ulcers are caused by "heat". So any food that's cooling, without essentially being cold (refridgerated) -- a ganjee(conjee) of moong dal (hesaru bele) and milk, or rava (semolina) and milk. If you DON'T have tonsilitis along with ulcers, for ulcers alone the usual recco is tender coconut water/ buttermilk.
6. Over-the-counter analgesic mouth gels. But there's one danger. They temporarily numb the pain, but are so strong, can sometimes burn the tender skin lining your mouth. But they can NUMB the hell out of your tongue, and allow you to eat a few bites sometimes.
7. Don't talk. Not moving the tongue helps!
8. Brush, brush, brush your teeth, prefereably after evrey single meal.
9. Try nibbling on a few pods of cardomom (elaichi/yelakki). Take the black seeds inside the pod and pop them in your mouth, suck on the juice. I think it's a natural analgesic and numbs the pain. It also helps counter bad breath that comes with mouth infections. And it doesn't burn.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quick update -- tonsilitis and more tonsilitis...and some gardening

I've been saying the same things over and over and over again. Cribbing around in circles. There's some sort of horrible status quo to life.
So decided against blogging for some time. Or I'll be like a stuck tape recorder ....saying the same things all over again.

But still, for the record, BEEN BUZZZZYYYYYY

1. Hubby's been travelling like a maniac
2. Sonny's been behaving like a maniac. He sleep-talks like a pro and keeps me awake most of the night.
3. Was busy nursing Sonny who had yet another bout of tonsilitis, which almost lasted a week.
4. From today have to nurse myself. I've got tonilitis from him. Hahahahahaha. There's puss winding its way down my throat.
5. Been bitten by the green bug, so have a green thumb. Gardening's baby steps being taken. I've killed some plants already. And I have only one two-feet wide balcony to dunk plants in -- that too in the "utility" balcony.
6. Trying to cook. Cooking. Success, yes. But I take SOOOO LOOOONG in the kitchen. Ummm... cutting veggies other than tomatoes, potatoes and onions for the first time in my life. Making chapatis like a pro. Running to Mom's on the way to work to pick up a dabba of curd rice every now and then!
7. Scouring the net like a maniac for a wooden sideboard for my drawing room to dump all of Sonny's mess of toys and books in. We broke the wicker basket that held it all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why can husbands never care for sick wives, while wives do it so well?

Like it wasn't already bad enough, my situation, I fell sick on Saturday.

A dinner to celebrate the in-laws' anniversary on Friday resulted in a Saturday morning welcome with vomit.
It was a disgusting day of purging my body of excesses.

It was also a day when that old feeling comes reeling back and hits you when you are sick, making you sicker -- the realisation that a husband is so incapable of "caring" for you the way say, your parents do/did or you dreamt "husband person" would.

Again, I speak from my experience and i know there ARE some husbands who just know how to be chicken soup for their their wives' souls when they are sick. I'm really happy for such women and goddammit, very jealous of them too.

So on Saturday I ran in front of husband, who was merrily featsing on breakfast by then, to puke for the first time in the morning.
He knew I had gone in to puke, but never came after me to help -- i mean just rub my back dude, I'm sick.
So i was poking around the clogged sink with a broom stick, clearing it myself and puking again. A sort of DIY it was! Yeah gross!
I finished, cleaned up, went out to the room and lie down. After some 15 more mins of watching TV, he comes in and says "O so did u puke?" That's it, I burst into tears.
And told him in clear terms that he really doesn't care for me when I am sick, when, even if he has this fever-cold, he'll wallow around, bury his head in my lap, ask me to sit on his bedside.
I make him tea whenever he takes ill, give him the mandatory hot water bottle, and he'll make all these stupid whiny noises and mope around and I try to be nice and pamper him and bah! When I'm sick....he sits out and watches the effing TV!
So he admitted "yeah I'm sorry I really didn't realise it", stood around like he was mourning someone's death, ...and then walked back to finish breakfast and watch TV! Hah!

Which is why I usually run to my mom's place the moment I take ill. And this weekend my folks weren't in town. Which made me cry harder -- the thought that this is what my life will be when the inenvitable happens. Soon as i realised after my third month of pregnancy that my nausea and daily puking wasn't going to stop (it enever did till almost teh day i delivered) and husband dear wasn't much help, I had packed up and gone off to my parents'. Wise decision, now, when I look back.

So this time, I packed off the husband and boisterous Sonny Boy to my in-laws, sent the nanny packing and slept my fever away, picking at curd rice in the evening. It was so much better having some quiet in the house and looking after myself. I didn't feel terrible either because there was no one in the house to ply me with tea or a hot water bag anyway.

NOTE: This post and the number of people Googling for "my husband doesn't care when I'm sick" prompted me to write a more recent post "How to care for you ill, sick, unwell, wife". I do hope husbands are looking up as much on the net as wives are! Husbands, if you're reading this, please read the tips on the other article. Wives, please hope, liek I do that the husband reads them

Friday, February 18, 2011

After all that talk yesterday, now I HAVE TO BE INDEPENDENT

How life can change in a split second!
How views can change in a day.

Today morning the nanny/cook decided that from March 1 she can't come.
She had left her children with her parents back in the village and now the parents want her to take her children back! So she has her own kids to look after here, so she won't be able to work.

Ok perfect.
So there I am, back to square one.
This time I will cook, and there is going to be no more nannies. I'm going to be everything rolled into one. At least, I'll give it one horribly good shot....
Sonny Boy better just grow up. I better just grow up.
My parents better just get young.....aaaargh

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lesson learnt the hard way: old is gold when it comes to Maid In India

It's so difficult to let go of your ego and beg. And yet it is so easy.
Of late I've stopped praying. I don't light the lamp in front of god.
I last went to the temple only to ask God to let my aunt's soul rest in peace and to allow me to sleep at nights in peace.

That's one thing I do very well, shamelessly. BEG.
Even when I'm on one of those trips of "Oh God doesn't exist because he's making my life so miserable", I beg him to help me.
I had already begged my cook/nanny to stay when she threatened to quit. I had begged my father to let her stay...ugh that's a lot of begging.

Yesterday I begged my old maid to return.
Really, she left me cursing I'm sure, that I shouldn't find another.
The last few traumatic days have been spent "interviewing" new help... finding them in the first place. That's become difficult too. (Any woman in India knows what I'm talking about, unless you belong to that one-odd percent who has found Miss. Wonderful)

And they have numerous demands (I believe Bangalore's maids are very different).

And I have no washing machine. So really bad combination.
So they would come home, negotiate exorbitant rates and tell me all those things they won't do -- in various stages of desperation and depression, I gave in to most of their conditions, and to the terms of pay.

But. BUT they just didn't turn up for work on the designated day. Yeah as my fellow mom blogger Aparna (Noida) pointed out, I do have some rotten luck when it comes to maids.

One lady finally seemed to work out and she worked brilliantly for a day -- one of those "experienced" people who know where everything is kept and how to go about their work by themselves and do it well. I knew she was too good to be true. Next morning she called to say her former employer was at her doorstep in his car, offering her a jump in pay that she found irresistible. I didn't want to bargain and out-do the guy on her salary so i resignedly let go.

Yesterday another lady, with whom everything had been settled, (but on whom I had my own doubts because she seemed too old and, well, un-agile, weighed down by her own weight and the amount of gold she was wearing!) worked a bit, decided she can't work at our place because it takes up too much of her time, walked out mid-way!She left behind some unwashed vessels and soaked clothes!

That did it. So off I went, looking for my former maid. Admitted to her she was right all the way -- I can't find another like her. She seemed relieved too (something i didn't expect; I was mentally prepared for some loud abuse, but I still had to ask before moving one with the hunt). She agreed, pointed out how she already knows her work and how it works out best for the both of us. She slipped in quietly this morning into our house and back into her routine. And I into mine.

In the meanwhile I had gone into a tizzy -- I was seriously reading reviews on dishwasher models available in India, how they worked etc etc. I had firgured I had no provision of space/inlet-outlet to get one installed in my kitchen. Even a washing machine will be a tight fit in our teeny-weenie place (I'll probably have to stand on it and bathe!). I had looked up robot vacuum cleaners that you switch on and leave on the floor to sparkle the house on its own. Nothing seemed plausible.

Yes, I know a lot of people manage without any help, I know. I admire them. But I'm not one of them. I DO HATE housework. I never did it ever. My parents, grandparents always pampered me and told me not to enter the kitchen, not to bother with the dishes -- something I gleefully and willingly did in my youthful days and something which unfortunately got engrained into my very being.

It's a horrible feeling-- this being so dependent on someone. But I am. And that's my life. As far as I want to keep my job and remain a working woman (no I can't handle office work and house work on my own. Imagine coming home at 8 to do the laundry while eating dinner). It will be so, till I'm pushed to the point of inevitability -- the inevitability of independently doing all my work by myself. And not cribbing about it.

P.S. : Rama, thanks for poking me into blogging again. :-) I was so frustrated, I didnt even want to blog. Imagine!