2 years of her monkiness

12 Sep

Note: I wanted to publish this on Bandar’s birthday, Sept 5 and had started writing it a week ago. I just finished it today though, so I figured better late than never.

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And just like that, our Bandar turned two!

Dearest Bandar,

My silly little goose, you are two! Time really does fly. I remember the moment you were placed on my chest a minute after you were born and you just looked at me with an unblinking stare and then gave a lazy yawn. You were not much of a crier that first day, and your Mimi worried about this in her usual way. You more than made up for it of course, on our second day at the hospital, and I broke into tears too. I was overwhelmed, dear girl. Overwhelmed with the excruciating recovery pain, the no sleep situation (again, not your fault..you slept like a lamb that first night . I was on an adrenaline high and just couldn’t sleep), the cluster feeding that no one tells you about , the unsolicited contradictory breastfeeding advice I had thrown at me from all angles and I just broke down. This was too hard, I thought. I had no idea how this little ball of baby would be fed and nourished and raised. I was not cut out for this. I was a failure.  But slowly and surely , Appa, you and I figured it out. It was just the three of us trying to make this whole feeding thing work those first few days. Your dad read multiple forums with me, researched positions , drove me all over town when I as much as hinted I wanted to meet a lactation consultant and you and I tired everything in our power to get this right. Lo and behold, you grew with each doctor’s visit and I no longer feared that darn hospital baby weighing scale. We then figured out how to actually get you to sleep. We did no pacifiers at all, and this meant you tended to comfort nurse for hours. At some point each night, you were unlatched and Appa walked you all over the house in the crook of his arm. Again, we handled this all on our own and got our own rhythm going as a family.

This year has been a lot like that, hasn’t it. As much as the first year was about extended family visits, this year has primarily been our little unit of three. We have had a lot of changes and have had to figure out how to make it all work. We moved to a new city, you transitioned from staying with your nanny at home to starting pre school, we traded our cars for public transport and sultry Texas summers to torrid NYC winters. You my little goose, did brilliantly through it all.

  • You happily wore the 4 layers of clothing I put you in as we made our way to school in sub zero temps for weeks.
  • You did a decent amount of domestic travel this year and enjoyed the plane rides immensely.
  • You are a social butterfly, my dear and call out a cheery greeting and start a conversation with passers by on the road and strangers at the grocery store. The homeless man at our doorstep who you lovingly call dada and watch for hours on our video monitor is a favorite.
  • You have learnt to walk and run and play and seeing you fearlessly climb the monkey bars at the park, confirms that you have a lot of your daddy in your genes.
  • You excel at pretend play and one of current favorites is to pretend that we are at the beach. You get so caught up in the imagined play that we have to distract you to stop.
  • You still have a fair amount of separation anxiety from your parents and are cautious ,as every child should be ,about who you go to. Despite that you have adjusted really well to different nannies when you are home from school of late.
  • You have thrived in this school, though I sometimes fear it is a tad chaotic for you, and your teachers absolutely adore you.
  • You have made a best friend who is the polar opposite of you and it is hilarious to watch you girls play together.
  • You have met a new set of kakas and kakis and mamas and mamis this year and you have won over several almost 30 year old hearts.
  • Talking to you is an absolute blast. You went from words one day to sentences the next and are now fairly expressive for a 2 year old. I particularly love the way you hear new words like “Steeple” and “Crescent” and use them perfectly in sentences several days later.Your vocabulary is almost 98% English with a few other words thrown in. Your dad and I need to work harder on the Tri Lingual thing if that is still an aim.
  • On the same note, your baby talk is almost gone and I miss it a little bit. You recently kept using the word “alligator” for “elevator” and I stopped your dad from correcting you. But he did just a few minutes before I could stop him and you nowproudly exclaim “Alligator is an animal, Amma” when I try to get you to say it.
  • You climb all 5 floors up to our walk up apartment on your good days.
  • Your daddy and you have a special bond. He manages you all on his own for a week at a time every few months when I travel for work and does such a fabulous job of it. He is your favorite parent by far, though I am hoping this love is better distributed in a few years.
  • I like to think you and mommy have your fun too when we are thrown together alone on weekends and all weekday evenings. We have done the zoo, the museum, several train adventures and lots of park and library trips on our own – just us girls around the big city! I can’t wait for you to grow up and have more fun places to explore on our own.
  • You love eating out and keep urging us to go out to a “mamoo place” to eat. We have started being a little less stressed about taking you to restaurants as well and by now know the routine.
  • You absolutely love the moon and can stare at it for hours. Amma has created a fun series of stories about a boy who is the moon and is called “Moon Baby” and he does pretty much everything you do during the day , except that he shines big and bright as the moon at night! The possibilities for Moon Baby are endless and I make up new incidents every bedtime and you listen gleefully.

Some other things that Amma true to her nature, has to call out!

  • You are not a great eater at all , Bandar and I try oh so hard with this. I have shed tears and lost my temper a few times off late but I still cant get you to eat more than you want to, which IS a single bite at times. I really hope you grow to have a healthy relationship with food as it means so much to your dad and I.
  • You are scared of any toy that moves in an unnatural way..be it the lovely train engine or the barking stuffed doggy. You are also scared of domestic pets that approach you , though you will admire them from a distance.I am not at all concerned about this and know you will grow out of it.
  • You refuse to get potty trained and have no interest in even trying your potty seat. You keep saying that you will be trained “one day” and I can only hope it is soon.
  • You are rather too free with your hands, darling and we are working on changing that. You feel immense guilt after a slap-happy incident and immediately apologize profusely. You enjoy your timeouts for this far too much and refuse to leave the naught corner.We probably need some other solution to correct this behavior.

Honey, if you look back at birthday pictures when you grow up, you will see the massive shin dig we had for your 1st with scrumptious home cooked food and almost 50 guests in Austin. As compared to that, your 2nd birthday was really different. You had a fun Disney World trip the week prior to turning two with your parents and you celebrated your birthday at school with cupcakes and loot bags for the kids. You cut two yummy cakes – at school and at home with mommy and daddy and we spent a pleasant evening at your favorite Central Park playground. Your grandpa (Mipa) arrived from India two days after your birthday armed with tons of gifts from both your maternal and paternal grandparents. You are always going to be the first grandchild on both sides and are much loved by your grandparents and two aunts. Overall, I don’t think you did too badly for a second birthday at all.

.

I am going to end this note with some fun stuff you have said recently.

Amma – Bandar, where were you born?

Bandar – In the hospital, amma.

Amma – And how were you born, Bandar?

Bandar – The doctor pull me out.

Amma – What did you do next?

Bandar – I went to have a nai nai( bath). Appa came with me

Amma – I love you, goose.

Bandar – I love you soooo much, Amma

Kaki asks – Do you like New York or Austin?

Bandar – (Thinks and says ) New York

Kaki – Why?

Bandar – I am settled there!

Amma – What does settled mean, Bandar? (I prod further)

Bandar – It means I have toys there, Amma. Lots of toys.

Bandar – (Notices a small pimple I am getting on my cheek) Amma , you have a tomato

Amma –That’s not a tomato,Bandar. It’s a pimple

Bandar – That is not a tomato. It just looks like a tomato.

Bandar – (Appa is back home from work and Amma is now given secondary citizen status). Amma, go away to that room. I am going to play with Appa.

Amma –( Pretending to be hurt) You want me to go away, Bandar?

Bandar – No Amma, I will play with appa and then call you when I am sleepy, You come and sleep next to me.Together.

Love you sweetheart, stay blessed always and always.

Amma

Short Vacay Recap

11 Sep

I am really delayed in documenting our recent short trip to Florida. For one, Bandar is down with a bad viral infection  ..again. Also I am somehow really tired, vaguely depressed and frustrated with life in general. Anyway writing this cheerful recap will at least let me bask in the warm, golden recent memory we made and might make me happy for a little while.

To start with, we booked tickets for this trip purely on a whim. It was Bandar’s last “free” trip as she was still under 2 and did not need a ticket. We had planned to go somewhere  close by in the NY/NJ area but when we did some research online we found  car rentals and hotels are freakishly expensive for a road trip around here. Somehow if I plan a road trip, I do not even consider it a real holiday and more of a mini break and would like to budget very little for it. It is sad that hotels/ bed and breakfasts in this area in season are 3 times what we paid to stay in really nice places in Hawaii. Not kidding! Maybe my expectations of the Jersey shore are really,really low that I refuse to spend a 4 digit amount to subject my husband to do his hated task of driving and my child to do her hated task of sitting in a car seat for 3 odd hours in holiday traffic, and all of us to sub par veggie food and frigid beaches in September. So we will probably leave the east coast sometime next year without really seeing much of it but I frankly don’t think we are missing too much.

Side note: If any readers have any nice things to say about this area and must see places around here, please do comment and let me know.

Anyway, we narrowed our decision down to spending a certain amount (that was probably not a wise number given we are trying to cut costs in general) on a “real holiday” that involved flying somewhere.And then we scanned vacation spots and decided to do Orlando for the long weekend and giving Bandar her first taste of Disney World

We left at the crack of dawn on Friday morning. After our whole flight missing incident for our Puerto Rico trip, I try to err on the side of caution and  get us to the airport earlier than needed. This is obviously against the very core of the husbadoo’s beliefs as he rather spend a precious extra 30 minutes sleeping. But I don’t see us resolving this particular difference in opinion anytime soon.

Bandar was a delight that morning. I had meant to wake her after we had a few bags out the door and down 5 floors , but she sat up with all the commotion we made getting ready and proceeded to get ready angelically as we were going to “Dizzny Word” .Bandar’s teachers in daycare had been educating her on the various characters she would see on her trip and we had a mighty excited toddler the week prior.

For once we packed lightish...all our clothes in one strolley which is a huge achievement for us.

For once we packed lightish…all our clothes in one strolley which is a huge achievement for us.

Anyway, we got to Orlando around 10 am and picked up our car rental. Bandar has puked in every single car ride in the last 4 months and I was armed with bags and towels. But I think the combination of not feeding her before drives and playing nursery rhymes really helps and we had no hurling incident throughout the trip.

We picked Olive Garden for an Italian lunch. I know its funny, that we have access to some of the best Italian food in NYC and we pick a chain for our American-Italian meal! Maybe we just have country-mice mentality but I really don’t care. We miss are frequent OG trips that we did in Texas and we really were craving the breadsticks and salad.

We then did another activity we miss supremely in NYC – a trip to Walmart to pick up some essentials- from diapers to milk and snacks! Bandar had a blast running around the broad aisles, something she misses when she is confined to the narrow aisles in NYC bodegas.

Enjoying the wide open space at Walmart! I can seriously fit 10 NYC grocery stores into this space. I miss you suburbia!

Enjoying the wide open space at Walmart! I can seriously fit 10 NYC grocery stores into this space. I miss you suburbia!

We checked into our hotel near Disney around 2. As it was raining outside we crashed for a short nap, only to rise at 6 pm. We decided to have dinner in the Downtown Disney area and dressed up to go out. We reached Downtown Disney and we expected it to be like the Universal city walks in Orlando and LA and really lively and fun. Instead it was dull, dreary and there was a major reconstruction project going on . The rain didn’t help either. We decided to call off our dinner plans in that area and drove around near our hotel to end up in an overpriced Indian place for dinner. It was pretty decent food though.

This trip was different from other ones with Bandar as we did not have access to a kitchenette during our stay. Bandar doesn’t really eat all the stuff we eat outside, so we survived on some food I had made for her at home, frozen and packed to take, some stuff I made in our rice cooker in the hotel room (Seriously this thing boils pasta, steams veggies, rice, dal. Its the only gadget you need if you are travelling with a  baby) and other things like fruit and snacks.

The next day, we made plans to meet the husbadoo’s BFF , A and his wife P at Cocoa Beach. We drove 1.5 hours to get there, while they drove close to 3.5 hours form Miami just to see Bandar. Bandar is really attached to her “kaka and kaki” as she calls them and we spent a really fun 6 hours at the beach with them.We snacked on popcorn and pizza. The husbadoo stole some quite moments with his BFF and we, the wives joked that some sunset hand holding probably happened. I really miss having good friends in NYC and would love to end up in the same city as these people. Let’s see what next year brings

We did the short drive back to Orlando and decided to check out the kiddie pool at the hotel. Bandar was overtired by then though and had a royal screaming scene at the pool and we abandoned this plan and hit our room for some rest.

We picked up veggie burgers from Chillies that night (yes, another chain!) and had a peaceful dinner in our room.

The last day of our trip was our to be spent at Magic Kingdom, the kiddie themed Disney World Park. Here are some random points if you are visiting this park with a toddler. Else skip ahead :)

  • It takes forever to get into the park from the parking lot. We obviously missed the early morning hotel shuttle and had to drive ourselves there. Parking is Disney level exorbitant ($17). We took a motor coach from the parking lot to the ticker booths and picked up our tickets. Do buy in advance and pick up at the booth using the “Will Call” service. You then take a ferry ride across a man made lake to the actual park itself , where they do a bag check and let you in. All this is fairly exciting in the morning when you are fresh and ready for your Disney adventure and are pointing out the first glimpse of Cinderella’s castle to your little one. But bear in mind that the same journey is laborious and long with a screaming toddler at 11 pm when you are leaving the park.
  • Bandar with her "1st Visit" badge

    Bandar with her “1st Visit” badge

  • Being ferried across , you get the first glimpse of the castle and then it becomes bigger and bigger!Fun

    Being ferried across , you get the first glimpse of the castle and then it becomes bigger and bigger!Fun

  • The Disney Fastpass and App are pretty awesome. The 3 rides for a 2 year old that we used the Fastpass for afterreading multiple online forums were – Ariel’s Under the Sea ride, Peter Pan’s ride and Winnie the Pooh. Bandar enjoyed them in that exact order. She also liked the “It’s a small world “ ride. She didn’t particularly want to sit on the Dumbo or Magic Carpet Ride which are also toddler friendly and we didn’t force her
  • bandar and I
  • Other enjoyable things we did were the Jungle cruise ride, a visit to the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse and Tom Sawyer’s Island and the Buzz Lightyear ride. Overall  , I think we got our money’s worth on the rides with a small child in tow and we have no regrets there.
  • Even we surly adults found this pretty!

    Even we surly adults found this pretty!

  • Now we come to the silly thing we did. We decided to wait to see the parade at 9 pm and the fireworks show at 10 pm. Nutty, nutty, nuttier than a fruitcake idea ever! You assemble for the parade as early as 7 pm and Bandar refused to be restricted to an area. Finding veggie food in the crowd became a pain. The 3 of us survived on one giant ice cream sundae- whipped cream , 2 flavors of ice cream, giant waffle cup and all. The sugar obviously got Bandar to her highest spirits! She did enjoy the parade when it started though and called out to each of Snowwhite’s seven dwarfs with gusto! Oh and then we didn’t leave at 9:45 pm but stayed for the illumination show and the fireworks. Beautiful but maybe not worth tiring out our baby for. We left the park at close to 10:30  pm but only reached the parking lot at 11 pm. Most .miserable.30 minutes. EVER! So what I would advise is try and catch the fireworks on another day of your visit. Apparently they are visible from some of the Disney hotels that you can visit even if you are not staying there and the Disney Boardwalk that is open to all. So do plan to do that on another day and not on the day you have been at the park since 9 am.Learn from our mistakes!
  • We had a back pack for Bandar with a leash attached that we didn’t end up using as Bandar hated it. Bandar spent most of the day on the husbadoo’s shoulders , her favorite mode of transport. I do recommend this though if you have fast toddlers who want to run and explore.
  • We had carried cookies, chips, granola bars and oranges that the 3 of us snacked on through the day. We did pause for a pizza lunch at one of the casual restaurants in the park. Dinner in one of the nicer places in the park needs a reservation, so do that if you are interested and not amble along searching for veggie food and eat your weight in ice cream instead like us!

 

 

 

Early on that day, I  had decided I would not be losing my temper at all, come what may that day. So with this resolve, I was able to really somehow patiently bear toddler tantrums, a snappy spouse , long lines and other things. I probably need to make this resolve more often, eh. We skipped dinner that night after our park visit. I ended up packing till 2 AM. We woke at 5 am for our 7:30 am flight back home. We realized we had lost Bandar’s Piglet stuffed toy :( He was carried  all the way from NYC with the sole purpose of frightening her to eat her food. She had such a love-hate relationship with this toy! He did miracles for her eating habits though. I just had to place him by her high chair and make up an elaborate story of him taking away her toys and clothes if she did not eat, and she would swiftly chomp down. With him gone, no other toy induces quite the same reaction.We spoke to the hotel but have not recovered him yet. Here’s hoping we bring Piglet home soon,

 

So that was our very short but fun trip. We had entire Monday to relax at home though which was good. Often, I have hesitated making short trips as I felt it wasn’t worth it. But in this case, I do think it was money well spent for a fun experience.

 

 

5 Sep

We got back from a short vacay in Florida earlier this week. The problem with short trips is that you end up trying to pack up activities to make the most of your time there and end up totally tired out. Anyway, I was nominated for an award by TandooriPaniPuriLife . So here goes.

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Thank the blogger who gives it to you.

Thanks TPL.I am honored to be nominated! I started reading you barely a few months ago but I am hooked because of the sheer honesty that reflects in your posts. I have never even seen a pic of you but have this vision of a young , smiley, innocent girl!

Answer the eleven questions he/she asks.

 

  1. What made you start blogging?How is blogging different than keeping a diary for you or is it the same?

I think I have mentioned before here that I have always loved writing. Just never really developed this hobby more. I did intend to blog more regularly(always resolve to do this but don’t follow through. Maybe I should do a post a day for a month to get my blogging mojo back.

My writing is essentially for myself. In strive to be honest in every single post and often pour my heart out as I type. I don’t really know who reads and it is a pleasant surprise to  seecomments and  nominations like these.That said, I also enjoy the interactions I have with a  few fellow bloggers who have commented. You don’t get that with a personal diary, right.

 

  1. Do you have a pet? If yes, which one? And if not, why?

I am a dog person and so is the husbadoo. Bandar surprisingly seems to like cats! We do plan on adopting a dog when we move to a house with a yard and more open space.  However, my mom is terrified and vows she will never visit if we do. So we will have to see.

 

  1. Which city do you think is the best to settle down in India? And why?

This would have to be Bombay for us. The husbadoo is born and raised there , while I am I guess not even fully raised there but spent a lot of formative years in that city. But with real estate prices being what they are, “settling” in the true sense of the word seems a distant dream.

 

  1. What is the one thing that you ordered in a restaurant and it turned out to be totally yuck and expensive?

OMG! This has happened to me much too often in NYC. I blogged about a Mexican dinner we had which was overpriced and horrible. This is not an isoloated incident. Have had a few other terrible ones recently. Have come to the conclusion that I need word-of –mouth recommendations before we walk into a place here for veggie food.

  1. If you see your enemy (or simply somebody you dislike) in a helpless situation, will you go forward and help them? Or leave them and enjoy mercilessly?

Yes, I am not a vindictive person by nature.  I take time to forgive though. (don’t necessarily forget, but don’t really do anything about it). I do eventually prefer mending bridges and moving on.

 

 

  1. Have you ever been caught by your parents doing something totally inappropriate for your age?

YES! The intimate texts I sent the husbadoo! They read the majority of them.And I was 19 , so I guess inappropriate.

 

  1. What is that one thing that you criticize publicly, but do the same in private?

Gossip, I guess! I do this with some close friends and my family but hate it when others gossip about me!

 

  1. Do you like water sports? Which one?

The only two I have done are jet skiing and white water rafting. But it has been a few years. Wish I was a better swimmer though to be more confident in a large water body. I can save myself in a swimming pool but have no confidence in the sea or a flowing river.

  1. Have you ever thought (or actually did ) of harming somebody very badly in order to get back at them? How?

No. I rather focus my energy elsewhere. Like I said, I am not vindictive. I might at most ignore the people I dislike.

  1. Do you fart and behave like the other person is guilty of the crime?

Yes! All the time. It’s way easier to do this now that we have a baby who poops and farts on command. Very easy to shift the blame J

  1. Have you ever been caught by the police ( or worst locked up)? For what reason?

No, touchwood. This is a huge random fear that I have. I will never survive in prison. Maybe watching too much of “Orange is the New Black” has me really scared about this. I had a bad car accident a few years ago and was so scared that for some reason I would be locked up.

  1. Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers.

Think all the blogs I read have done this at some point. So I am going to skip it. But please do take it up if you want to.

 I had so much fun answering these questions!

#100Happydays : Catching you up on the Happy

28 Aug

I can ‘t believe it has been so long since my last post. A week plus is a long time when you plan on blogging regularly.
The last few days have been hectic but have had spots of happy and I want to make sure to document a few.

- We went on a family bike ride in Central Park on Sunday. We rented 2 bikes for us and a child seat for Bandar , who rode behind the husbadoo and did the 6 mile loop with lots of stops to take in the sights, allow Bandar to “run around”(as she says loudly – “I am soooooo done. I need to run around now.Our little girl is developing quite an attitude.), and to picnic.
At a point during our picnic, the husbadoo looked at me and just smiled. When I asked him why, he said “We are living out your dream now!You have been asking for a picnic at the park for ages now and we finally did it!” Yes , we did!
My most happy moments of the day were relaxing on the Great Hill with the husbadoo resting his head on my lap and Bandar lying sprawled on his tummy,spotting turtles with Bandar by the boathouse and stopping to watch a game of Quidditch ! This last one was so entertaining seeing everyone run around on their brooms. Did you know there is an actual muggle quidditch world cup? I didn’t , till the husbadoo told me this week.
Brilliant, right?

 

- We have a house guest staying with us – a cousin of a friend as she is starting grad school in NYC and doesn’t have her apartment ready to move in yet. At first I was hesitant about taking this on as I really did not know how it would be to have a person I had never met into our space. Surprisingly, touchwood this has been a breathe of fresh air. And I somehow manage to put food on the table at the end of each day and have some company in the evenings as the husbadoo works late this week.

- Bandar’s daycare is shut for 10 days for an end of summer break!Ridiculous, right?Considering we paid a hefty fee for the month. Anyway, I am making full use of my 100 hours of subsidized childcare from an agency my company contracts with and have had some decent nannies fill in a few hours each day. Bandar is surprisingly taking to them quite well.

- We planned an impromptu holiday! This might not have been very financially wise considering the amount we spent on last minute tickets, but its Bandar’s last chance to fly free before she turns two in a few weeks and the husbadoo kept pushing for a getaway. This is really odd as it is usually me who brings up vacation discussions, plans et al. But I am excited for this short Friday- Monday trip we are going to do.

- I started and finished the second season of The Mindy Project in record time. OMG – I freaking love this show! For those of you who like chickflicks and have not seen this show yet, please , please do.

I dont know why I took so long to watch season 2.Since we cut cable after moving to NYC, I miss my DVR’d shows. Searching for online links is a task in itself.  To my joy, Hulu which we have a monthly subscription for has the entire season. So I did some marathon viewing sessions and now I am ready to convince the hsubadoo to watch this show and rewatch with him for the second time!

Spoiler alert ahead: Are there any other real life – Mindy and BJ Novak fans out here??I keep thinking that her and Danny’s relationship on the show is modeled to a large degree on her real life bff realtionship with BJ. Sadly, they are currently not dating each other or anybody else(I think from what I have read on the celebrity gossip sites). Hope Season 3 isn’t too rough on Danny and Mindy. I really dont want another Ross and Rachel saga ride out for 10 seasons – meant to be together, tried it, didnt work and off for several seasons, only to have a stupid , cliched together end. I really hope they end this series in 3-4 seasons and keep this couple together with minor tiffs , issues (all fixable) between them. But I guess that is hoping for too much.

- I have significantly made our weekday dinners simpler after I read some of the comments on my recent food related post. Thanks for the comments all! I have made quite a few simple things like mixed dals, thicker dosas with various lentil, quinoa combinations, and a few simple salads recently. I made a more elaborate Thai spread over the weekend and somehow I think that is the balanced approach  I need to continue following through the next few weeks too.

- The husbadoo is working terribly long hours and playing cricket for a day each weekend and Bandar and I are left to our own devices quite a bit. We are growing closer and actually have full conversations now which is really neat. The weather being good allows us to go for stroller walks, library visits, playground time, duck viewing time at the lake and impromptu picnics. Bandar so much as sees a bench in the park and says she is hungry and wants to eat! I have made a conscious effort to do zero screen time when I watch her on my clock and so far I have been able to entertain her successfully without our laptops and tablets. This self imposed restriction was because I realized we tended to switch on nursery rhymes for her a tad too often recently and we had to make a change. The American Association of Pediatrics suggests zero hours I think till 2 years of age and our doctor has told us this is for purely brain development and not eyesight related at all. I personally thought she was learning a ton from the TV shows she saw – she learnt to use words like “peep”, “pounce” , “curious” accurately by 22 months which I thought was really cool. But despite that, I am trying my best to limit /eliminate her hours of viewing and I don’t think she is even missing it.

 

That’s all for now, folks! I will post again soon and formally accept an award from TPL and answer some fun questions! Thanks for the nomination, girl!

 

Festivals

19 Aug

One of the harder things about our South meets West Indian marriage is that festivals and celebrations are more complicated.
There are the festivals that only my family celebrates, the ones that only the husbadoo’s family celebrates and the ones that both our families celebrate but in different ways.
The ones celebrated by just our individual communities / families are ones we choose to ignore at this point , unless we have a set of parents staying with us at that time.
The first year of our marriage, my mom voiced some disappointment that I would not really have a Tamilian ‘noombu”( probably spelling it wrong, but this is the festival where women pray for their husband’s longevity and tie a thread on their wrists. Actually think there are 2 a year – one with a thread on your neck and one on your wrist. Anyway, you get the idea) celebration. She could have explained how to celebrate it to me, sent me the thread etc , but she just seemed so disappointed and then let it be. I was also 23 years old and really didn’t care much for cooking something elaborate and going through the motions of a celebration that I did not press her for details.
So the Tamilian festivals fell to the wayside for the most part with some minor exceptions. I have made pongal a few times for Pongal and have cooked some traditional stuff for Tamil New Year but that’s about it. Even this festival related cooking ,I hesitate to do if my in laws are visiting us. Somehow I feel it might hurt their sentiments if I celebrate my own festivals with them in the house.
Oh side note, every member of my husband’s family wished me a Happy  New Year for Pongal the first few years till I explained it was a harvest festival and not the new year!
Regarding the Gujarati festivals, my in laws never went into explaining them to me or ever even mentioned that we should consider celebrating them – be it cooking specific dishes or performing specific pujas or anything . In my attempt to continue to maintain my identity and not lose it all in the marriage , along with firmly not changing my name , I have never bothered to ask or find out what these festivals are and how they are celebrated in their family. The husbadoo has only a faint recollection of most festivals and is not a knowledge bank on his traditions at all.  I am not proud of this practiced ignorance on my part but at the same time I did not want to adopt my husband’s while giving up mine and have to deal with my folks commenting that I was fully ‘converted.’
Maybe some of these fears were irrational and unfounded but I felt and still feel sometimes, that we are walking a delicate path of balance between our families and that I should not tip the scale anyway.  There are moments when I feel this phase of balance is past us but then every now and again hurt sentiments raise their ugly head. 
Guess the only way I would have been satisfied with this situation would be if we celebrated both family’s festivals and traditions every year. This to us was not practical when we both work full time and are often told about these festivals only on the day of through a casual phone conversation .
Now we come to the common ones – Diwali, Ganesh Chaturti, Navaratri, Janmashtami to name a few.
These we have come up with some sort of blended approach to celebrating. We have done this purely without any inputs from our families (we have never really sent pics or anything and they might not even know we celebrate these) and they are truly are own traditions so to speak.
Our childhoods obviously influence the traditional parts we have added . This year for Janmashtami , I made a rough undhiyo flavored subji , custard as a sweetdish and we also had some beaten rice, milk and curd as our offering . We were out of butter but I don’t think God would mind particularly. I did not do the traditional footprints  from the door to our alter as I had no rice flour. And it was going to be extra work to vacuum . Plus I do think God can find his way to our house.
We did not don any traditional wear as I honestly don’t even know which packed suitcase even has our traditional wear , we haven’t worn any since moving to NYC and have no space in our tiny closets to even have it out. Bandar clamored for custard , which we told her would be served after prayers. We sat down in front of a lit lamp and said the one or two relevant chants we knew and played a 6 minute shlok on YouTube. We bowed down and thanked God for each other and our families and that was it.
It was really just simple and no fuss and really just ours. Yes, maybe in the future we might go to some greater lengths to get this right but for now this feels fine.

Tell me what you eat!

11 Aug

I mentioned I am in some sort of a cooking rut and here is what I am dealing with.
I enjoy cooking and I am a fairly decent cook but my main issue is that I cook extremely laborious meals.
For instance, in the last week – all weekdays ,I have cooked pizza from scratch – dough, 2 types of sauces etc, Pad Thai which requires work to make the sauce and other prep work and Ragda Pattice with 2 chutnies from scratch. So there you have it. This is in addition to Bandar’s separate meals as she really doesn’t eat what we eat all the time and other kitchen work like baking strawberry quinoa muffins for snacks for us all and freshly ground ginger, garlic pastes,chili paste , flax seeds milling, Greek yogurt and regular yogurt setting every 2 days and of course daily kitchen cleaning.
You see, I spend a fair amount of time each week scanning food blogs and reading,planning recipes. The husbadoo loves most of the stuff I make and I love trying to replicate restaurant meals we love and enjoy. 
All these cooking sprees apart from being fairly time consuming , make me quite tired on weekday nights. I keep going off on spells of laziness between elaborate meals and we order in/go out.
Also , though I cook with minimal oil ( I usually spray to barely coat the pan) , and use natural sweeteners where I can, I feel our meals are heavy. Example : I make kofta biryani with oat and spinach koftas( pan roasted) and loads of veggies and brown rice. But even a small helping is really filling. Same goes for pad thai – we eat a double restaurant serving each and yoagine the sheer amount of peanuts in there .We stuff ourselves with seconds and thirds. This I think is unhealthy.
I also have lots of leftovers that become a tad boring on day 3-4. I cook in large amounts as hello , all this effort shouldn’t be wasted on one meal.
But it is in so much excess sometimes that we often throw food away( ashamed to admit this) or forget about rotting leftovers in the fridge . I jump onto the next exciting thing to cook ignoring what we have already.
I also feel we spend quite a lot on groceries. I love having a well stocked larder and chances are you can find a lot of unexpected stuff on my small pantry shelves.
I think back to what I grew up eating and weekday dinners though we have had a cook to help mom out for the longest time, have been rptis with a subji or south Indian kottu ( deal and veggies). If there was a dry subji , there was always an extra dal dish wet. We did rice only on weekends. The husbadoo’s meals too were rotis, dal, subji and rice. My mother in law has an interesting list of specific dals for specific days of the week – example black eyed peas for Mondays and moong for Wednesdays etc.  And she had house help as well to execute these meals for the family.I don’t follow these at all. For one, I really can’t make rotis . I can maybe start . We eat wheat tortillas which I buy and I know have preservatives. Also rice everyday is not something I am very comfy with for health reasons. We will maybe have to alternate with quinoa, brown and white rice.
Any way, the reason I am blogging about this is I need some help. I want to change to cooking 1 elaborate meal a week ( Fridays or weekends) . We have a tendency to eat out on Fridays and this excitement of a fun meal will keep us in.
I need some ideas for easy weekday vegetarian meals. Healthy would be best or I am a pro at healthifying stuff anyway so I  can do it even if the recipe you give me isn’t . I am really curious to see what other people eat on a daily basis at home and I am eager to read comments.

Weekend in bullets

5 Aug

- My Friday last week was really light so I joined Bandar’s preschool picnic at Central Park. Bandar was just so excited that I was coming and had told her teachers and all her friends. I wish I had captured her expressions when she saw me at the park entrance ,but then there are some images you never forget and this was one for me.
– I got to see toddlers playing baseball. Its the funniest sight ever. One teacher helps one team throw and the other teacher helps them hit and then everyone runs around like crazy in circles and then randomly try to pick up the ball, irrespective of teams. Its just pure entertainment. Bandar stuck to me a little as expected but seemed to be having a blast.I noticed every single kid had a different personality and it was really interesting to see who participated and who didn’t. —– Then it was time for lunch. I had made  whole wheat pizza dough the night before and also a tomato sauce . I had woken up early in the morning with much grumbling to chop veggies and grate the cheese and bake her a pizza for lunch. I was grumbling as Bandar has been an irritatingly predictable hater of everything I have made her in the last week. I thought the pizza wouldn’t fare any better but her I was pleasantly shocked to see she loved it. Yeah!
-I took her home after lunch and she had a lovely 3.5 hour nap. I then took her to the Children’s museum. She has been there twice before at 15 and 18 months ,but now at almost 23 months its amazing how differently she interacts with the exhibits. I was exhausted but this day was such a fun one .
-The only bad thing about Friday was that Bandar in a tussle over a toy or something had hit her best friend at school and her teachers and I had a discussion on how to handle this hitting business.
We decided to take away her Little People family ( featured

here

http://popgoesthebiscuit.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/vacation-recap-part-1/

) for a day till the message was clear.

- Saturday ,the husbadoo with a little help from me cleaned the house as his friend from Austin was visiting for the day.
We went out for a really late brunch ( guess normal lunch) to one of our newly discovered highly affordable in the city places for brunch. Bandar choose to take a nap in her stroller which meant we had a leisurely time ordering and eating. She woke up just in time to eat my fries with plenty of ketchup!
-We then walked to campus which meant lots of relaxing on grass for us all and then made our way to central park after a short detour for bubble tea! The husbadoo went off for a stroll with his friend to show him some parts of the park and I stayed with Bandar at one of our favorite playgrounds and negotiated sandbox politics. This is harder than it sounds as it involves stopping crying and  fighting over sand toys and involves getting sand in  your flats as you step in to intervene .You then have to pull out your ugly toes and feet with much chipped nail paint in front of snobby NYC moms who take one quick glance and then shudder and look away,to try and get the sand out. Even then you are left with the dirty feet feeling and just yearn for a warm soak in the bath tub.
-We made yummy pizzas for dinner and I got Bandar to bed.
We then as usual bribed our guest with lusciously soft marble cake from Whole Foods to stay for board games and played for a good 2 hours.  So good Saturday overall.

-Sunday morning was slowish at home with Skype et al .We took Bandar to a fun new playground by the pier ,overlooking the river for a change. We ended up having dinner at Taim, a veggie falafal bar. This comes a close second to Austin’s kabablicious for me but definitely the best I have had in NYC so far. We ordered fries again ,a huge serving again!
-As Bandar had another hitting spree with me on the subway,she promptly had her dolls confiscated again . Her adorable,  “Sorry ,Amma.I never hit you again” and pleas of ” But I said sorry ” did not bring them back.
She finally came up with – “I be good girl, I get them back “,said in a meltingly earnest voice full of resolve. Sadly she got them back on Monday evening only to lose them another 1 hour later when she hit out at her dad. My feisty little monkey is rather too free with her hands and has a few important lessons to learn here.

-We ended the weekend by breaking a beautiful glass bottle with cumin seeds in the kitchen and I had wonderful one hour cleaning it up.Not!! Despite all precautions,Bandar had a shard of glass enter her  palm and had a doctors visit today to get it out. And we of course,  have no cumin for our meals till I either A) make an NJ Indian store visit or B) give in to the thieving NYC grocery stores and buy it for 4 times its price.

So that was our weekend !Pretty routine with playgrounds, fries and hitting toddlers.

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