Weekend fun

1 Sep

Friday evening started with some green smoothie at home. The slightly old, bitter walnuts I had thrown in threw the husbadoo and Bandar off and guess who drank maybe 45 ounces of heavy smoothie so as not to waste the organic veggies and fruits. Yes,no prizes for guessing –  trash can tummy mama bear! We then took Bandar to the mall’s play area and ate some more junk outside just because the food smell near the play area was too tempting. Yes, trash can tummy indeed and I wonder why I can’t seem to lose weight. We have been avoiding the play area in the apartment complex since early last week – not really intentionally , but something or another has been coming up. Bandar has not really been asking to go there which helps. Instead , I took her to another park on Thursday and this mall play are on Friday and she seemed to have fun

Saturday was such a glorious day. Its days like this that make me feel we absolutely took the right decision to move here. After morning skype sessions with the grandies we decided to hit the beach. The H and I have been to SD for a vacay around out first wedding anniversary about 5 years ago! We had spent 3 days in the city and had very specific memories of our trip. We had stayed on Coronado island and thought it would be fun to go back there with Bandar in tow. Since we have moved here, the H has insisted we do sunset beach activities which is nice and all but I do not like sitting with a wrap or cardi at the beach. A beach is supposed to be sunny and warm, isn’t it? So I had been pushing for a morning-afternoon at the beach instead and today was the day we did it my way. I think Bandar enjoys the idea of the beach more than the beach itself, if you know what I mean. We had found our little beach tent from our moving mess, but sharp eyed Bandar spotted some bugs taking refuge from the sun inside our tent and refused to set foot inside. Oh well, more shade for me. She also refused to go into the water – new random fears which we have to tackle with swimming classes. The worst part was she refused to let the husbadoo leave her and go into the water. So much for his surfing dreams here. Shell hunting and sand castle building were the only two beach activities she enjoyed. Anyway, I had a random book to read on child rearing of all rotten topics as I couldn’t access any other book from our unopened boxes. But I got through one or two chapters as I enjoyed the sun at the beach and am maybe a better parent for it? Ha-ha , we shall put it into practice and see!  My favorite moment at the beach was towards the end when Bandar, who was by then a little sleepy and tired, came and sat on my lap for some cuddles. She hardly asks for hugs nowadays, so this was a lovely few minutes cuddling my little monkey .I don’t have any pictures of the day as all of them prominently show our faces but you get the general idea. We then packed up and packed around to have burgers. We had eaten maybe the best veggie burger ever years ago on this island, but sadly the shop had shut down since. So we settled for some other random burger which wasn’t terrible. Bandar drank a Vanilla shake and ate some fries. Food has been on and off with her off late but I am trying to let go and let her decide what ,when, how she eats as she’s almost 3. So hard to do! Anyway, she dozed off in her stroller as we walked back to the car. The stretch of shops and restraints that run parallel to the beach is exactly the kind of walk the H and I love and the few hours we spent on this island were perfectly relaxing and fun in every way.

Sunday was clean, unpack, organize day and we got a large chunk of the unpacking done. Our guest room still looks like clothes explosion central but the living room and master bedroom are livable. We took a breather for some tapioca tea in the afternoon but that was it. One person has to spend time with B while the other can do some work, but we somehow made the arrangement work and got some stuff done. Of course, it meant I didn’t have the grocery shopping or cooking done for the week , but I will figure that out somehow. All in all, a productive day and fun weekend. Couldn’t have asked for more.

We play catch-up on our lives with this post

28 Aug
  • Our material possessions finally made it here and we are now surrounded by too many things. I remember walking bags and bags of clothes and random things to Salvation Army before we left NYC . So the mystery is how did we end up with still more stuff to donate right now? We have excess of everything – clothes , utensils , bags, shoes, books. This is weird because we do not shop a lot, atleast not in recent times. A lot of this stuff is accumulated over years and years and are well meaning gifts from family. The problem is we do not donate/get rid of/trash really old unused, even broken things in a timely manner and we let it build till it gets to this extent . Right now the apartment is awful with stuff piled in all possible corners. I have so much organizing to do that its overwhelming almost. I read about personal organizing services and I am this tempted to pay for one. Given my schedule of work, Bandar, husbadoo, cooking, groceries, gym et al, I am going to take several weekends to get this mess under control if we have to do it ourselves.
  • Talking about weekends, it’s hard to sit at home and clean and organize when there is so much to explore outdoors in this new to us city. We promised Bandar a beach visit each weekend , but gave it a miss this weekend and hit a splash pad instead. But there is a lot of outdoor fun to be had and it is really hard to sit inside and clean.

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  • I have realized that hitting the gym somewhat consistently during the week does not make up for the crap I eat over the weekends. We eat out a lot during the weekends – the last weekend it was Pizza, Desi and Mexican. This does not include store bought cupcakes on Friday and then a choc orange bundt cake that I baked on Sunday . The latter was a tad uncooked even with 1 hour of baking and I guess my too many substitutions to the original recipe messed up something. The only other thing I cooked was a paneer tava pulav on Friday evening which was delicious. Anyway, a lot of food overall was consumed.
  • Regarding the gym, my new schedule of 6 am to 3:30 pm gives me atleast an hour of gym time before I head out to get Bandar. Though I have worked out more since we have been here in the last few weeks than I did over the last few months, I am yet to have a week with a success rate of 5 weekdays at the gym. Hope I get there soon. Simple aims!
  • I love Farmers Markets and everyone tells me I have moved to the right place. There is something altogether exhilarating about picking up fresh produce, sometimes at cheaper prices /sometimes not, planning ways to make the produce stand out in a meal and finally executing it. After a sorry farmers market outing on Sunday (we were late and found nothing good), Bandar and I did a mid week trip to another one and a blast was had. See our haul. Not bad for about $ 23.
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  • Friday is upon us and I am hoping for the following:
    • My apartment looks a little better by the end of the weekend when I am done with some organizing.
    • We get ourselves to the beach this weekend – and have a picnic.
    • I end up deciding on two boring but essential elements for the apartment – A shoe rack and a book shelf. I want as unfancy as they come – but cheap and sturdy
    • I do some fun , relaxing cooking and we have some home cooked meals
    • I get in atleast 2 runs over 3 days.
    • Lets see how much of this we achieve

The blues

19 Aug

There are some particular periods when I feel really blue about being so far away from my parents and this is perhaps the hardest few weeks for me mentally. My dad retired  a few weeks ago and my parents will be packing up their home of a few years and saying good bye to the service life they have known for 38 years or so. They are cleaning the house from top to bottom, planning the logistics of the move – they like me do not do straight forward moves,  and are figuring out how to deal with the changes.

If that wasn’t enough, my baby sister( baby no more at 21) is off to grad school in Europe in a few days and my folks will be empty nesters for the first time ever. When you have two kids so far apart in age, you push out empty nesting till you are in your 60s and it seems worse than it is in your 50s. Maybe because you grow to depend on the one child who is home for the in between years? My sister has definitely grown into an adult faster than I ever did . She’s seen more ups and downs at close quarters living at home. Stuff I never worried about at 18, (seriously my biggest worry was whether the husbadoo would ever ask me out at 18) my sis has had to deal with. She’s  fought more with my parents, cried more, argued more too. But she has also vacationed more, had more hugs, helped them more, shared more laughs and happy times. So her leaving home now is a huge deal for all three of them.

So with all these changes at home, I yearn to be closer. I wish I could help in some way. I  question my own life decisions several times a day- the path I followed career wise , the fact I choose to go to grad school in the US, the fact that we will probably never live in India given our career paths. Family is the only reason that ever puts these thoughts in my head.

I comfort myself with thoughts of I could not have done much being home anyway. They have help with the packing and logistics itself. From an emotional standpoint, it would be nice if I was there , but that’ s about it. Maybe I could have at most I thrust myself and Bandar into their lives as a fun distraction as they go through this phase of change. I try and make up for my presence with phone calls.

The conversations with my parents over the last few weeks have been strange. For the first time in years , my mom has expressed she misses us (I know she says Bandar always, and usually means Bandar, but off late, I know she means me too). She expresses sadness when I need to get off the call for chores or anything else and wishes I could talk longer every day.I am trying to figure out how to have longer, uninterrupted calls with her as it seems to give both of us a sense of peace.This is the most expression I am ever going to get from my mom as far as missing me goes.

My dad has thankfully( for his sanity and ours)  accepted a temporary work gig and is awfully busy. But expressing his feelings hasn’t been ever a problem for my dad. He says he misses me terribly often. He has stayed clear of telling me to return to India because of mom telling him not to interfere in our lives. So with that, the most he says now is to visit as often as I can, which is at most once a year. With my mom still working, their US visits are barely 2 weeks at a time. Mine at home India is again a maximum of two weeks as I have to split the days with my in laws as well. But this is the best we have for the next few years. I hope and dream that one day they will be able to spend 6 months with us in the US , but a part of me wonders if that is what they want and if they will be comfortable doing it.Only time will tell.So in the meantime, though ticket prices in December pierce  my thrifty heart, I am starting to think about a trip home.

I get that this is a pointless post, but I do feel a little better putting it down for some reason.So , oh well!

The Playground Chronicles

18 Aug

We are now at a place where we have year around better weather than NYC and a play area in the apartment complex , so that is where Bandar and I find ourselves most evenings after school. The area we live in appears to have tons of desis and everyone is down at the playground with their kids most evenings. Random tidbits from the last 10 days:

  • Cliques – Desis and cliques appear to go together and the playground is no exception. There seems to be a regional divide firstly and then smaller cliques within the regional groups. So damn complicated and hard to penetrate for me. The great North – South Indian divide rears its head in the regional group formation. With me being Tamilian who speaks fairly decent Hindi you would think we would fit seamlessly into either group, right? Wrong. For some reason, neither group has embraced Bandar and I with open arms, yet.
  • Staring – Bandar and I are still truly the “outsiders” here even after 10 days in. We are stared at continuously from the point we enter the play area to the point we leave. One obvious reason they stare is the fact Bandar and I communicate a lot in English with the occasional Tamil phrase thrown in from my side (when I remember I should be teaching her my mother tongue). Maybe they are trying to place us first. I don’t know! But they do stare constantly, till I start a conversation and put their curiosity to rest. Yes, we are new , just moved here, my child is almost three, she in pre school (met with already, gasp?). It’s always me starting the conversation too, never anyone else and I am getting tired with the whole thing.
  • Feeding while playing – It’s only the Desi parents (yes , Dads too!) who run behind their kids who are on bikes and skates, with a fork full of food. Ridiculous! Granted in our one month in India last year for vacay, Bandar was on a complete food strike for reasons known to her and the grand parents prodded that I feed her something as she played downstairs. That is one habit I am not going to let transfer to our life here.Anyway the fruit on fork, thrust into playing three year old’s mouth made the husbadoo and I giggle.
  • Play time is parental phone time – The scene is the same every single day. When we head to the play area just early enough before the preset cliques arrive, we see individual parents and their respective children there. The parents are all on their cell phones, lost to the world, while the kids do whateva-the-hell they like. Just seeing this from afar as I approach the play area, makes me vow that play time for Bandar is the only time in the day, I devote completely to her and her needs.  I may actually stop carrying my phone with me to the play area completely. I try to get Miss lazy-bones Bandar to run around, I try to get her to start conversations with similar aged kids, coordinate a silly game of hide and seek and other things to keep myself away from my phone. It would be oh-so-easy to pick it up and browse when I am surrounded by the clique moms all around me .

*On another note, I realized that I am semi distracted almost always through the day in the few hours I get with Bandar and this needs to stop asap. This requires a post of its own.

  • The indiscipline in general – Yes, kids will be kids but there is a certain amount of restrain to be followed in a public place. There are other residents who sadly live around the play area – I cannot imagine how awfully loud their evenings must be. And I hate to generalize but not a single desi parent stops to reprimand their brat from creating a ruckus. But the few non desi parents around shush and quieten their kids at the slightest raised voice. I am as desi as they come with my loudish voice, but I would like Bandar to learn how to behave and talk in public . So though we run and play and talk louder than we do at indoors, I am trying to be more mindful of where we are and remind her of it constantly.

Trust

11 Aug

Should you trust your kid? More specifically, should you trust you super smart almost-3-year-old to tell you the truth? Let me elaborate. Maybe 6 months ago, when we had started potty training Bandar in NYC, we bribed her as is customary in potty training with candy. We told her that every time she used the potty for pee pee she would be awarded with a few M&Ms. I bought a family of M&Ms to prepare for the next few months ( I ate most of these  when potty training was  a failure in the first few months, but that’s another story) and we started persuading Bandar to use the potty. Bandar flatly refused to go on the potty at home. One day she arrived from school, proudly stating she had used the potty there and demanded her reward. After some prodding on the series of events, she gave me details that she had indicated to her teacher that she needed to use the potty and that she successfully had. It all still seemed untrue though as she refused to use it at home. I don’t exactly remember if I rewarded her or not that day with her candy. I did however ask her teachers about it the next day and they as expected, told me that she had not used the potty at all. So the husbadoo and I were a little shocked that our two year old had told us her first lie (or so we think) and we spoke to her about how its most important to always tell the truth, and that we as her parents would always love her and wouldn’t be mad, but telling the truth was of utter importance. All that general crap that parents give their kids , you know.

Little hypocritical of us of course. Atleast me, as I have told my fair share of lies to my parents growing up. Looking back, most of them were little white lies and never really harmed anyone. Apart from the whooping big one related to dating the husbadoo in my college years. But I do not that to be the case with Bandar at all. The lying I mean, not the choosing who to marry thing. I want her to be comfortable enough to tell me anything and everything and not have any worry about how I might react. And I on my part want to be completely unfazed by anything she tells me. Of course, this is the stuff all new age parents strive for and we are no different.

Anyway after that first little lie, the importance of telling the truth has come up a few times in stories and shows and I hope the message has left an impact on her.

Now we are at a good 6 months after the first incident and have had a few months of potty training progress. This next bit might be TMI , and poor grown up Bandar several years from now is not going to be pleased one bit that I shared this with the world, but here goes! Pee pee in the potty is a daily /several times a day affair but poop transition from diaper to potty only happened last week. So it’s all still fairly new. We have been rewarding with little toy cars (Hot wheels) for poop in potty success. Earlier in the week, Bandar inquired if two poops a day would result in two cars and though I was inclined to reply in the negative to ensure our limited car supply is stretched out a few more weeks, the husbadoo promptly replied that that indeed it would! So of course, now I couldn’t go back and say that rewards were limited to one car a day , irrespective of the number of successes. Anyway, yesterday Bandar came back from school and mentioned casually that she had poop success at school. My first instinct sadly was to not believe her ( the girl who cried wolf or rather poop) . Anyway. prodding questions were posed by me, answered satisfactorily by Bandar and the husbadoo was consulted on the earth shattering decision of whether a toy car was to be handed over or not. Finally the husbadoo tells me that we have to trust our child and so trust we did and the little reward ceremony happened.

I have told the husbadoo to check with the teacher today at drop off, so we will find out if indeed it was true. I feel a little bad even confirming, doesn’t it take away from the stance we took to trust our child in the first place? Oh well, we are human and at this point we just have to know if the deed really was done at school yesterday or not! If it did not, the apple sadly did not fall from the tree here and we have a few more lessons on no fibbing to go through. I will update you all either way!

Do you implicitly trust your kids with the little stuff? Do you let past little lies cloud your judgement? Would love to hear opinions!

Bandar's cars from the last few weeks.

Bandar’s cars from the last few weeks.

Back!

10 Aug

I really can’t pinpoint why I haven’t blogged in the longest time. Life was funny over the last few weeks. Weirdly settling and unsettling at the same time and really hard to explain why. When we last left off, our little family of three was living in an extended stay in Austin ,TX  waiting out the days till we were to move to San Diego, CA. The extended stay was more comfortable than I ever expected it to be, but at the same time it left me yearning for the stability of our own home. The last few weeks especially, the week of my 30th birthday were marred with each of us in turn falling victim to a nasty viral. Other then that I had the logistical stuff to figure out – fixing an apartment without seeing it, figuring out how to move our car between states, dealing with moving some stuff we had left behind in Texas – all the while working a full time, high stress job. But there are some small mercies in life and for that I am thankful – a wonderful nanny (the same young girl C who had watched Bandar when she was barely a year old) who was miraculously free for the summer, a group of friends who were ready to help when the need arose, just enough financial resources to be able to afford the last few extravagant months of personal hotel living and travel, and the biggest mercy of all – the three of us being under the same roof each night. The hsubadoo and I squabbled , argued and made up in cycles like we usually do, none the worse for living in far too close quarters and we thus bid our days out till the day of our move dawned.

Arriving in San Diego , the city that will be home for the next few years probably, seemed surreal. It marked the culmination of the last few hectic, nomadic months . But apart from that it is the first city I am moving to with some sense of permanence in mind after years. The NYC move had always had an expiry date on it. This was different in every way.

Our life in our new city started slowly with some minor hiccoughs. I was thankful for the 3 days I had taken off from work and the two day weekend we had to settle in. Our belongings are getting to us  from all over the country at their own sweet time. But its all slowly coming together. The apartment is strictly okay, I really doubt we could have done better through choosing one online . But to make up for it, there is a great play area for Bandar and the area we live in is really nice.

We found a school we like for Bandar and she seems happy for the most part. She misses NYC terribly though and keeps asking to go back. Our vague responses of “You can go back when you are grown up” are not really cutting it. Our little apartment there is the first home she remembers and probably will for a little while. We were skyping with her little friend from NYC yesterday and her face lit up with we had a firetruck in the background. But that apart, I have no doubt she is happy here.

So how do I like it now around 10 days in? I now have the feeling we have been here the longest time! Work wise I still work from home, with better timings that I am happy about, even if I don’t love the job and wonder seriously about future prospects. I like seeing the husbadoo happy here and know that this choice of career and city was absolutely the right decision for our little family. Driving around the city even on errands gives me glimpses of the valleys and hills and often the sea and the sheer natural beauty of the place gives me a sense of peace. We had a sunset picnic at the beach yesterday and it hit me that we were not tourists but local! How funny is that! The weather will actually take me a little more time to get used to – I need a cardi for even 68F though the husbadoo and even little Bandar mock the idea of a light jacket. I need to condition my body to bear this mean temp at the very least and that is going to take a while.

There are a lot of desi moms in the apartment complex but apart from the usual hellos and byes I do not really feel a sense of bonding of any sort yet. Maybe it will happen in due course. PB came to visit, which was a treat in every way and I wished she lived in SD. But she’s promised to visit often which is something to look forward to.:)

And that is where we are in terms of an update. I do aim to post more now that we have settled in to some extent. I realize not posting regularly results in me missing documenting crucial changes in our life and Bandar’s development even, and I really want this blog to be a record of these few years of our life. And what’s more – blogging is gratifying. The friendships you make, the comments you get and above all the sense of satisfaction after pouring your heart out as you write. So it is great ROI and I plan on continuing this little investment.

The suite life

25 Jun

So the last ten days our family of three has been living in a small studio style room in an extended stay hotel.  The room is maybe 300 sq feet but we seem to be doing okay so far. We have a small L shaped kitchenette with a two burner stove, a few pots and pans, a full sized fridge and dishwasher which are both saviors for the cooking we do, two desks, a pull out couch that we haven’t pulled out yet, a queen sized bed and then a little attach bathroom and closet for our suitcases. The laundry room is outside our room and there is a gym too. All in all, the whole situation isn’t bad at all.

Compared to living in a room a quarter this size in Malaysia for almost  a month and having no kithcenette , this is luxurious almost. The whole setting is really quite cozy here. The last month or more of living in various hotel rooms in different countries has brought the three of us closer than we were which is funny as anyone would think we would be getting on each other’s nerves with being in a small constrained space .This coziness is making up for the last few months in NYC which were hard for us as a whole in so many ways. We knew we were moving, we had guests , cooking took over my life, I was guilty for ignoring Bandar – but these last two months together has seemed to magically fix a lot of this.

Living in this small space together comfortably, made me wonder why I always insisted on a  2 bedroom 2 bathroom set up for us from the point we were married. The answer is obviously the junk we have and the guests – read family  who visit. Living out of suitcase of clothes, doing laundry regularly, trying various permutations and combinations of outfits for work and play , three pairs of work shoes seems to be working for me right now.  The husbadoo hasn’t complained about his clothes at all (I suspect he brought more than I did) and Bandar’s suitcase not only had her clothes , but games , books and toys and she seems content. The kitchenette just has enough utensils for cooking and serving a meal each day, but apart from missing a blender and an oven for more full fledged cooking and baking, it all works. Less utensils to use, means less food being cooked at a time and this infact means less food prep each day. Not sure why I didn’t do this since forever – I usually make copious amounts and food prep takes forever.

To make this hotel room feel like home, one another thing I have been trying hard to do is stay organized and neat – things in their place as much as I can help. Space is so limited that putting things away is essential.

Bandar calls this hotel room “home” and she in fact was upset when we suggested a sleepover this weekend at our friends’ place . (We selfish parents wanted to play a few games of Settlers of Catan after Bandar slept). She has clearly refuted this though and insists we return “home” to sleep. Even this little Queen bed which we at glance thought seemed too tiny works for now and we haven’t had to draw out the pull out couch yet.

Guess these are lessons I can take with me to our next real home : downsize – get rid of clutter in our lives , stay organized, cook in small quantities , do laundry regularly. Hope I don’t go back to my old ways of living in excess, waste and chaos when the time comes.

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