B is for Bandar

20 May

It is only fair I think that I ease into blogging with a post all about Bandar. My favorite posts on my own blog to read are the ones about her. As all moms do, I tend to forget stuff she said as early as 3 months ago and then like all growing toddlers she doesn’t say them again and they are forgotten completely. So here is a small attempt at capturing some of the precious memories this little girl has given us over the last few months.

Pretend play is absolutely the most creative, delightful thing she indulges in at this age and both the husband and I love playing these imaginative games with her.

Here is a classic: Bandar apparently has “Public Speaking” as an enrichment class in her preschool and I have never been able to figure out what exactly she does in it. But as I watch her conducting a pretend school for her imaginary children, I get a small glimpse. She is the teacher, “Ms. Angelina” and their sister as well. Her kids are January, February, March —September (that’s her bday month)  and Elsa and Anna. 11 kids in all. October, November and December have left the school and gone to another one ( maybe because she changed schools so often , she is projecting here.)  With little help from me to get everyone organized, she gave them topics in turn – “The Sun “, “The Moon”, “Going to the beach”, “Going to the ice cream store”, “The zoo”, “Jewelry” and each imaginary child was supposed to come on stage and talk for a few minutes. She of course, spoke for all of them and reprimanded them when they couldn’t think of more than one sentence to say. And she gave out prizes to the best speaker. “The Sun” which was  the first one she did was the most adorable. “The sun gives us light. When we go outside and it is very bright, we have to wear our sunglasses. When we stand in the shade you can remove your sun glasses”. Another one I loved was jewelry.” You can wear earrings, bracelets, necklaces and even anklets. You can be covered in jewelry. Jewelry is really beautiful” .  Diva , much?

Talking about the Jewlry obsession, here is another anecdote. We are playing this game at the park together, where she stands behind a counter and I come in as a customer. “May I have some apples, please “, I ask. “Not apples Amma. Don’t be silly. You are here to buy a diamond necklace and earrings!”, is her response! I wish diamond necklace buying was really commonplace breakfast talk in our household but it most definitely isn’t. So I have no idea where she got this idea from.

Sadly, the beauty of these games is lost in Skype and grandparents can barely catch a word of her soft voice and heavy American accent. They really have to be present to marvel at the way she plays and the distance breaks my heart sometimes. When they do see her at the end of the year (hopefully), she might have outgrown this game and phase and will probably be on something new. But that is life.

She loves being read to and our favorite activity remains going to the library to pick up books every few weeks. What is fun to see at this age is her picking up new words and phrases and then trying desperately to use them in sentences. A word she has surprised us with is “delectable” used accurately every time instead of the normal “yummy”. Thank you Fancy Nancy books!  A phrase she struggles to use but tries almost every day to get right is “getting carried away”. It’s hilarious to hear her try to use it and ask for validation on accuracy. Another phrase she does get right is “running for cover”. I hope she continues being enthusiastic about learning and applying what she has learnt.

Bandar’s teacher told me that Bandar is super “funny” in class but it’s all definitely contextual, not plain goofy and a tangent to what they are talking about in class. I was trying to figure out what that really meant as she is quite different at home and comes across as a serious kid, rather than funny. The husband kind of got it as apparently he enjoyed making people around him laugh too. I guess he turned out okay, so I am not too worried that she is going to turn into a giant goof ball. She has a sense of humor though which I have seen develop quite a bit lately.

We recently had to take her teachers flowers to school and I got tulips. She burst out laughing when she heard the name of the flower and remarked that she had “Two Lips” as well. So maybe its that sort of a thing that pops in class.

I remain a strong proponent of formal preschool for this age. Maybe in our case we really don’t have much of a choice, but I do think 3 year olds are like little sponges and need to be taught stuff and her trained teachers seem to be doing a decent job of it, despite her school being very play focused.

She has Spanish a few times a week at school, and definitely up quite a few things. She casually reminds us that she knows English, Tamil (maybe 50 words, more comprehension than talking), Hindi ( not even comprehension, just blabber and her “special Hindi” as she calls it), and now Spanish . But her accent definitely seems to be on point when she corrects my pronunciation on words like “verde”. She absolutely rolls her Rs the right way.

School also seems to have gotten her interested in math. Its only simple addition /subtraction at this age and all oral. But we do it usually on our car rides to and from school and classes. It started in January on our trip to Big Bear, when I playfully asked her how many mini idlis she would have if I gave her 5 more in addition to her 5 and she got to 10 in a few seconds. And then we went all the way upto 25 with this simple repetitive addition. She still relies heavily on fingers though which I am trying to break her out of and is expanding her comfort zone from a range of 0-20 to 0-100 slowly. Too many kids growing up with me hated Math and sadly it only takes one bad teacher in one year to turn you against a subject. So it’s far too early to tell but a parent can hope.

Writing is another one of those things that happened only because of school. One day she showed no interest at all and I shuddered every time I saw the awful grip she had on the pen she insisted on using and refused to be corrected. I decided to just let it go, only to find her writing her name within a few weeks, all in caps of course. And then expanding to almost all other alphabets. She struggled with a few, especially N and then took it upon herself to perfect it. She got it right one day and was thrilled to bits to show us. Her penmanship is still immature but legible and maybe she has inherited my untidy writing gene. But hey, she loves writing now and that makes life super easy for us lazy parents. We simply hand her paper and pen and watch her go crazy for a significant length of time.

The negative part of school, is the exposure to mean girls. Yes, mean girls is a thing and starts as early as age 4. Bandar is a people pleaser and it upsets her incredibly when a bossier girl is not so happy with her on a particular day. Though I have told her that it’s good to be friends with everyone and not just stick to one or two girls, she gravitates towards the bossier ones and then is upset when they are mean to her. She calls one particular girl “really scary like a volcano” but despite that most of her day seems to be spent following instructions this girl gives her. Sometimes her teacher even tells us that Bandar cried because of mean stuff that was said during the course of the game. The reality of this cruel world is that I cannot protect her from mean girls all her life and can only raise her to be bold and stand up to them.

Apologies & Atonement

19 May

 

So much to say but first of all some apologies are due to the handful of readers I used to have. I didn’t mean to disappear into empty webspace like that for months on end. But the thing about missing a few days of blogging is that it leads to weeks and weeks and then everything you want to say seems just insignificant and silly and you think several times before you start typing! Then when you do ultimately beat that bug down and start typing, you struggle with deciding what portion of the absence to cover – everything from the point where you left off or just the new, recent and more relevant stuff. Anyway, the only fix I can think of here is to blog myself out with daily blogging and participate in some sort of a challenge. Though the April Alphabet challenge dates are waaay past, I am going to jump on it well into May and blog through. I might not blog on weekends and I might interrupt the Alphabet challenge with other posts as I think of them, but for now I think this challenge will help me get back on track and allow me to share snippets of our life around here.

So while I am going to try to cover the highlights of my absence in the alphabet series of posts here is a quick preview of what’s been happening:

 

  • The big news first is that I no longer work from home and this is great for my family’s sanity and my own! I did make the work from home and work travel thing work for over two years and I feel incredibly blessed that my previous company let me pursue my career fairly successfully from wherever I pleased. But the right opportunity came alone unexpectedly, like these things typically do, and interviews were given and offers made and I quit my first job, which I had held for 8 years with mixed feelings. And I am now 4 weeks into my new job. Wish me all the luck you can , blogging universe as I am realizing I am going to need it
  • Bandar continues to grow and surprise us each day. I am thoroughly enjoying this phase of motherhood .Maybe this is because she routinely tells me that “ I am her best friend ever” , but it is also because I feel there is so much more I can do with her now ,than when she was a toddler or an infant. We recently spent an evening at the mall shopping for clothes for me, and for a few minutes there I thought I was with a little tween atleast. She had clear opinions on what I should buy for myself and was equal parts supportive friend and harsh critic.
  • Exercise happens in bursts and spurts and I continue struggling with those constant 5-7 lbs I want to be rid off. Jillian Michaels, God bless her, is what I strive to do but can never seem to find time for consistently every day. I have realized that my time with Bandar takes precedence over exercise and I try to fit in what I can into my day. I have started walking with a  friend about thrice a week on weekday mornings before work and I am hoping a brisk walk (though it barely compares with HIIT )and some sort of smart eating will help me atleast not gain any more weight, even if I do not shed anything.
  • Food continues to be the highlight of most of my days and I notice this especially when Bandar and I are recollecting our happiest moments of the day to each other every night. I usually either mention the lunch sandwich I ate at my desk, or the hurried 10 minute dinner I grabbed at the kitchen table with her. We have found some places that we absolutely love in San Diego and I fight the fight against my temptations each weekend to go out and have a calorie splurge
  • The husband and I continue to squabble and make up and grow together. He remains my best friend (sorry little Bandar) and I find myself telling myself a 100 times each week that I am glad I married this man.
  • Spring in all its glory is wonderful to experience as a new homeowner. I did not trust anyone who told us we had Jasmine in our teeny tiny side yard, but one fine day we woke up to a sea of pretty white flowers blooming amongst the green and even I who actually treat flowers with much disdain, actually admired them. We got a few fruit trees put in too and though we do not have fruit currently, and might not even next year, it is all exciting stuff to somehow look forward to. And we actually sat in our little spa as a family last weekend and though this seems like something we should have done several times since we moved in, it was the very first. I complained about it being too cold to do something like that all winter long (San Diego winter and a heated spa, but go figure!) and now that we have Summer to look forward to, I cannot wait to do it more often, right in our backyard.
  • I bought myself a second hand bike! Yeah! I am nervous biker if there ever was one and will most likely be pushing it down slopes. But I am still excited now to find a deal on a second hand guy’s bike and a child carrier to go on family bike rides.
  • We are doing a 3 day vacay at the end of the month and short though it is, I cannot wait.
  • My sister might be visiting me this summer , fingers crossed and we are actually going to spend 2 full months together! This is something we haven’t done since I moved out in 2006 and she was 12 years old. So much has changed and we are now actually adults, though we bicker like kids. I can’t wait to feed her homecooked food, watch her play with Bandar and take her to all our favorite spots around. Even the mundane things like ballet class is going to be fun with her in tow and I cannot wait to share our daily life with her.

How is that for a newsy come back post!

 

Enjoying the small things over the weekends

1 Mar

Weekends since the dawn of 2016 have been some what filled with activity and mildly stressful around here. Friday evenings used to be relaxed and meant eating out , TV time and more general tp, but the husband now has a weekly Friday evening meeting that is often extended and the Bandar and I find ourselves alone and are often in bed before he comes home.Saturday itself is mostly fully family day with some activity centered around Bandar , at the very least a park visit. Bandar is not in a ton of classes but she is in one each on both days and that takes a little while. Saturday goes by in whirl – I try to squeeze in laundry and stuff somewhere in between all this. Soon as Saturday night is upon us, the stress levels increase a tad for atleast me. The H seems to not show stress like I do. Both of us bring work home and  have our minds usually buzzing with work related things by Saturday evening and a good part of Sunday usually goes in taking turns and actually getting to the work. I also do some cooking for the week on Sundays .Sunday is not an enjoyable day at all for me in short, in fact it is more stressful than a regular working day.

Anyway,I read somewhere recently that your children are usually out of the house in about 936 precious weekends over 18 years and that statement somehow made me start appreciating all the stress and activity that is our weekend, and really enjoy the smaller moments.So here are a handful from some recent weekends:

  • Sitting on the bleechers, watching Bandar run around her for her little soccer class. Both the H and I are trying to do take her to this class together and we both put this one hour down as our favorite of the day.
  • Promenade walks and carousal rides. She is going to outgrow wanting to ride on the carousal in a short few years and on one particular weekend she actually got 3 rides on 2 different ones .
  • The sight of an empty laundry bin for maybe just a few hours and knowing that the clean laundry putting away activity is done for a week!Sheer bliss.
  • Finally having one or two friends we can now hang out with as a family. I missed this in New York and think we are actually building a few good friendships here.
  • Picking the weekend’s one meal outside restaurant/cuisine. Nowadays I try and limit this to one meal outside per week only for the health factor and wish it is something I had implemented in my 20s. It usually is Saturday lunch or dinner and I sometimes rethink if I want to use my meal outside on Saturday lunch itself or drag out to Sunday and savor it more. Ahh the joy of trivial decisions!
  • Catching up on a sitcom or two. We have really limited our TV watching together as a couple not intentionally, but it just happened. Now the ones we watch together over a weekend meal at hope are another favorite part of my weekend.
  • Driving Bandar alone to ballet. I love the chatter and especially love a relaxed drive to class on most Saturdays when we leave well on time.
  • Playing Tag with Bandar on a vast expanse of green grass at the park.
  • Family grocery shopping together. Something so fun about this though I know I can usually get this done faster on my own on a weekday evening. Yet, the joy of seeing Bandar take the husbadoo around the store trying to spot the stuffed monkey(thank you wonderful Trader Joes – you are the reason my child loves grocery shopping) is unparalleled.
  • Standing with outstretched arms to catch Bandar as she comes down a “big girl” slide.
  • A tasty meal that comes together in 30 minutes.
  • Watching Bandar splashing around in the bathtub after the park.
  • A weekend with no chores . No pressing bills to write checks for, no Target trips for random stuff(Seriously, what do I NOT buy at Target?) ,no post office trips,no last minute birthday party gifts to wrap, groceries done early on Saturdays – true happiness.
  • A tired out napping toddler, and well fed ,napping parents – Saturday afternoon slumber

 

 

Doing and not just dreaming

19 Feb

One of my biggest fears for Bandar as she grows up is she will not be a “doer”. I want her to have aims and dreams and take serious steps to achieve them and I will stand by her in every way if she falls short. But I am going to be more than a little irritated if she makes no attempt to get of her butt and start trying to get there. I guess I will be totally okay with her not having very specific dreams and aims either. I just am not okay with her making not working towards aims that she has. I strongly believe in working hard to get to your goal and really have no sympathies for laziness or excuses.

One of my mentors told me very early in my career that I would make an awful manager if I did not change this vision – “You will have to manage people of every kind”, he said. “Some may not be as motivated employees as you and you might struggle with motivating them” . Looking back at this, I do believe I have grown to accept that everyone has different goals. I can now appreciate an employee who just wants a paycheck and a stable job and no growth or other aspirations. But what would undoubtedly irritate me would be an employee constantly saying he has goals to get to say the next vertical level, but make zero attempt to get there despite a strong support system.

There is the exam in my line of work that one should probably take if they are fairly serious about the role. The exam is notoriously known as one that is hard to pass in the first attempt, though I would argue that one really cannot fail it if they study. Anyway, I learnt about the exam in 2010 Jan, and by 2010 Nov I had passed it. This involved figuring out how to apply to take it, finding resources in the company to support me, finding and attending a prep class, getting my organization to pay for it and of course studying and not procrastinating and taking it. I remember not cooking at all for a good 1 week as I prepped for it – I really gave this exam my all, like I do most things in life. My best friend has been “wanting” to take this exam since 2008. So she has borrowed my prep material atleast 3 times in the last 7 years, but she is yet to even fill the forms or prep seriously. I have offered to help multiple times with all of it, including form filling work but it is always put on the back burner in her life. I have another friend in NYC, who is going the exact same way with regards to this exam. I have had to take the material from non-committal friend A to give to friend B and have ultimately lost my amazing material in the process and with the many moves in my life recently. And neither of these two girls have appeared for the exam. It irks me every time I lament my lost material.

Setting aside the career stuff, I really think this applies to every aspect of your life. The friend who keeps saying he wants to get married  – either go the arranged marriage route or actively pursue this yourself. Making no attempt in either regard for the last 4 years I have known you is not the way forward. The friend who constantly says she wants a baby – I am super, duper happy that they are finally trying and she did whatever was necessary to get to this point , be it convincing the husband ,starting prenatals or anything else. The friend who is always saying she wants to lose 20 lbs – I am your strongest supporter once you get off the couch.

Its okay if you are not really very clear about how to achieve your dream – say, setting up a small business. You can always do the research and understand the steps to get there and work towards them.Or not – some aims, just die once you do go and research the life out of them and that is okay too. You atleast tried and went down the path.

So in short, I am absolutely a person of action, and really hope my child is one as well.

Ratted??

12 Feb

I recently discovered one of my favorite shirts had some holes on it. Holes that were surely not on it a few days prior.I knew this as I had taken the shirt on a business trip and put it in the washer on arrival . When the shirt made it out of the laundry and to my closet, I spotted holes a few days later. So the two scenarios were  1)the holes could have appeared in the washer 2) we had a rat in our house or attic that you accessed from the closet. I ruled out option 1 because of the series of holes – not just one , but around 4-5 small ones all near each other. But of course, I could be wrong and it could be the washer.In fact, I hope it is the washer.

The other prospect upsets me no end. For unlike some of you, I have lived with rats before. Thrice in my life in fact. All different countries too!

The first rat incident was when I was seven and living in Hong Kong in a really nice apartment. But yes, nice apartments also get rats apparently and we went through about one terrible year in that apartment getting rid of the rats . We had rat traps with roti and cheese in every room. We had rat bait set up around the house. We did have success almost each week and an increasing rat death toll but there probably were tons of them to begin with. I remember we had two rats die one week of each other in the exact same spot in my playroom and me being spooked out by the similarity of the incidents. I also remember the rats having a fondness for getting stuck in floor fans and meeting their untimely end that way, and so I insisted on having the fan on around me where ever I was. Oh and despite my parents numerous warning to not mention the word rat to prospective tenants who would take over our lease, I did exactly that – I cried rat but only after the paperwork had been signed!So my parents swooped in for the damage control and downplayed the whole rat situation and we finally got out of that apartment!

The second rat living situation I faced was when I was 11 years old and we were living in Bombay. We never really saw a rat in this case, but we had loads of signs. Visible rat poop in recently cleaned areas and nibbled upon bars of soap were two that I remember. Oh and the squeaks.I slept on the floor of my parents room at that point – I had simply refused to go to another room with the birth of my sister two years prior , and we slept with the bedroom door shut but we could hear the squeaks at the other end all night long. I felt most vulnerable being on the floor and all, so of course, I made it on their bed and my dad was found sleeping on the mattress on the floor on most nights.These smart Bombay rats however did not care for the roti in the trap trick and I don’t think we caught a single one for as long as we lived there.

My final encounter with rats was in the US as a grad student. We were probably living with a  colony of rats  in our town house. They got into everything – cereal, fruit, hidden treats that one roommate hid from the other. I remember three of us being a little happy when the selfish roommate with the hidden goodies had her little treat corner invaded by rats.Karma for not sharing and all that! And they ruined clothes as well.The safest place for clothes was in a suitcase and for food was the fridge.After a few incidents, the fridge was always loaded with 4 girls dumping every edible morsel they had into it and initialing everything too to prevent roommate theft. Well, I left that apartment after two semesters thinking I was finally out of the rat haven and safe, only to sign a lease with a host of bed bugs !But that’s another story.

Back to our current situation, we live fairly close to a greenbelt, so a rat problem will not be surprising, but at the same time exterminators have not really found a visible sign of an existing rodent problem.So we are on the fence about starting an expensive rodent treatment for rodents we might not even have. We do have traps around the property with bait as preventive measures though and hopefully that will stop any new ones from coming in. I have my eye on my clothes in the closet though.

 

In which I don’t know what I want

9 Feb

Every few days the husband will start his push for a puppy. He will  send me adorable pictures of pups (he knows I am partial to anything that is spaniel mix ) and we will start the why-can’t-we-have- a pet-conversation. This conversation seems to be happening too frequently nowadays, maybe after we have moved to SD and have put down some sort or roots here. My reasons for not getting a puppy remain the same each time we talk and I know they are all banal excuses. They are too much work which honestly I do not think I can put in, they are an expense which I rather we don’t spend on right now, they are a hindrance to travel, both our extended families are not keen on the idea and I dread dealing with their visits and a pet, and I am a wuss when it comes to dealing with pet deaths. This doesn’t mean we will never have a pet –it just means that I am not ready for one right now at this phase in my life. While the H and I love dogs in general and will pet most (me –strictly not the strays, him – strays too), Bandar clearly dislikes them or is scared of them. Her fear and reluctance is mainly because she hasn’t been around them much and I dare say she will be fine if we get one a couple of weeks old. Anyway, I have told the H and B to go and volunteer in an animal rescue as a father-daughter thingee and once Bandar warms up to puppies in general, we can discuss if this is what we want for our family. I feel fairly safe with this premise as I know the husband will not initiate this kind of activity on his own and I am clearly not going to, so we probably don’t have to deal with the decision ever.

Anyway, we found ourselves at the mall this Saturday after we had dropped one of the cars at a service appointment. After hogging on burgers and fries(another story – good bye diet!), we wandered into a pet store. I actually have never been to a pet store before or even a pet rescue center or anything. But what I saw here was downright cruel. There were the cutest pups and kittens in the tiniest of cages – some jumping around excitedly, trying to get out and the majority just lying there.I mainly looked at the dogs and most of them didn’t even have the whole cage , small as it was to themselves. All seemed to be well known breeds and were priced from the $900s to 3000s range. I really am not even sure if they were all healthy as a few of them just didn’t seem like it, they probably were okay but just fed up of the tiny space.

One particularly adorable terrier, a little older than the others – 5 months old, seemed to be incredibly playful and friendly. He bounced all around his cage and he was the picture of fun. I nearly almost visualized taking him home for a few minutes. Then he seemed to get into a frenzy and for a good one minute tried to frantically get out , before plonking down for a good poop. And then he sniffed around it and I shut my eyes as I didn’t want to see him eat it. The H told me he didn’t. Anyway, this was perhaps the most pitiful sight of them all. He clearly needed space , to run free and had finally given up and pooped on his bed. Ughh. I immediately told the shop girl about the poop but she seemed to not care and did not show any sign of cleaning the cage in our presence. Bandar kept questioning why I felt sorry for the pup and I asked her how she would like it if I boxed her up in half her crib and made her poop and pee in it. I left with a heavy heart and just saddened by what I had seen.

This does not end with us getting the terrier home, though the H was ready to on the spot. I just walked away thinking about whether this was really the right source if I ever did get a dog. I wanted to atleast rescue one animal from the horrible little cage, but maybe a humane society or rescue organization was a better source. I am fairly sure that I do not want to go to a breeder. It also made me wonder, why I am okay with zoos but hated this pet shop. Maybe because of the distinction of wild and pet animals in my head. I wish life was simple and that I was brave enough to make a hasty decision and get a puppy home without thinking too much but it isn’t and I am simply not that person.

Here we come Feb!

5 Feb

So Jan went by in some sort of blogging, working, traveling, recovery from the holidays haze. The Blogging Marathon though I completed it successfully, was not super enjoyable – especially weekends and especially some hectic weekdays too. If I ever attempt this again, I swear I will take some time to come up with 31 writing prompts for myself, rather than summarizing my day as I had to a few times. I also found myself in several social events at 11 pm and not being able to enjoy them as I was worried about blogging. And the quality of posts reflected this stress too as they were poorly written and not very well thought of. Anyway, we live and learn.

Onwards to Feb!

Stuff that I am looking forward to this month:

  • Getting into an exercise and eating clean regime. I was very up and down in Jan, but Feb shows promise. I started my favorite Jillian Michaels videos yesterday and can feel the burn in just one day. But I am one of those people, who loves the pain post workout – makes me feel I have done something worthwhile and I want to keep at this. Of course, I went and ate some chips today , but now it looks like all junk food from our short weekend trip is finally done and inside my system. So I can get along with no distractions.
  • I am aiming at not touching work after Bandar comes home from school, and this has again been a little tough. A few nights , I have had to ask her to lie in bed while I wrap up a call or emails and though she complies, her call out for me makes me vow to work only after she is asleep. But that means I have to drag myself away from cozy cuddly baby and bed and that’s so hard. But I enjoy those moments with her so much each night that I am trying to implement this.
  • Having some new books to read. I am reading chicklit (the new shopaholic book) and a Jeffrey Archer right now. So I am fairly occupied and happy. I have also ordered some new Enid Blytons for Bandar and I can’t wait for them to arrive.
  • Park time with Bandar. The weather seems to be getting better and I know this means the husband will start cricket over the weekends. Bandar and I will be left to our own devices but I am hoping I can fill these in with some playdates and park time.
  • Connecting more with family – parents, in laws, sister . I was awful at this in Jan but all three parties really await our call and as I am the only one amongst the H, Bandar and I who actually talks, this ones on me.
  • Blogging regularly – atleast thrice a week is what I am aiming at. I feel that is a good pace around here and something I can strive for.

 

What do you have planned for Feb? Go on, share!

 

 

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