Archive | March, 2014

#100HappyDays – Some happy moments from the weekend

31 Mar

So Thursday evening, I attended my first bookclub meeting. It was through our moms group and was the very first one. So it was not  like I was barging into a previously created group. It was fun meeting a group of women, and discussing the book and other things. It ended at 11 pm, went on for a good 3 hours and I came back all excited and happy. The husbadoo held down the fort at home with Bandar and put her to bed. He also made me a yummy pita wrap before I left and I am really blessed to have this guy in my life.

On Friday evening,the husbadoo picked up some Bubble tea for us. Ice tea with the little tapioca balls. This was a weekend staple in. Austin and I am glad we found a place on his way back from work. The price and volume are of course different from Austin, but at least we have a go-to spot for our favorite drink now. We then decided to go to the local Whole Foods store and get some fruits. I was highly skeptical as we have been to the flagship store in Austin a few times and though we loved the experience, it was more expensive than any other local store. I was pleasantly surprised to see fresh, organic produce at the same price or cheaper in some cases then our usual store. I think I shopped sensibly and only picked what I needed,but will be going back for sure. We also stayed clear of the cooked food as we had tons of leftovers at home. I am proud of us being able to control ourselves . A mere 6 months ago , we would have definitely eaten out given the option and food on display. As we are edging towards our 30s , we are getting really conscious of everything we put into our bodies and for that I am glad.

Speaking about ours 30s, it is the husbadoo’s 30th birthday in less than a months time. I am planning 30 small and big gifts but for that, I need to start buying/ ordering stuff. I am also doing this in secret and I had a few scary moments when I thought I let something slip. I guess he doesn’t read my blog , but I am not going to write more details until the plan is fully executed.  It is fun though browsing stuff online, making lists , figuring out what he would like and imagining his face when he opens the stuff. So excited!

On Saturday, the husbadoo announced he had found a local cricket club and was going to go and check out a practice session. I am usually  very grudging about cricket eating into our weekends but as he had been so graceful about my bookclub, I realized I need to be a good person too. So I was extremely supportive about him traveling 4 hours for a 3 hours practice. Living in NYC makes you so cut off from the suburban lifestyle that we were used to – be it cricket leagues, wholesale bulk grocery shopping, desi events and festivals etc. We do miss those things but are hoping this is temporary and plan on enjoying whatever the city has to over at this time. I actually had a lovely morning and afternoon with Bandar – we skyped with my folks, napped together for a few hours and made some delicious popcorn.

Our friend ( the one who actually introduced us to each other over 10 years ago in college) lives in NYC too and we had invited him for dinner. I had planned a Tex Mex menu of seriously awesome salsa, enchiladas and healthy baked chile rellanos .I spent a good part of the day cooking everything from scratch to find out at 4 pm that he was too sick to make it that day. So we instead dressed up and sat down to a fun family dinner at 7 pm. I want to cook one elaborate dinner like this each month and eat at the table with Bandar. Usually she eats early, we get her to bed and then start our dinner by the TV. The only part about the dinner I would surprisingly change was the wine. We both don’t really like alcohol much but did like the sweeter , dessert wines. However off late, we are starting to even dislike those and prefer iced tea or sweeter fruit juices for special occasions. We probably should not have opened the bottle yesterday and now I am planning to use the remaining half in cooking.
The evening was fun, relaxed and romantic (the romance part kicked in after we got Bandar to bed!) . A perfect end to the weekend.

We are family!

27 Mar

So one of the major changes for us since moving to NYC has been the fact that it is pretty much just the three of us alone, all the time. All weekdays and all weekends.

I am not really complaining as the last time the husbadoo and I were alone was in August 2012 , a week before Bandar was due. We then had family stay with us in the order of – my mom, my dad, my mom again and sis, my father in law, my sister in law, my mother in law, my dad, my sis, my mom, my mother in law! Phew! I am leaving out numerous aunts and uncles visits during this time and a stressful trip to India sans the husbadoo.
Everyone in both our families work and they all made solo trips with a few exceptions like my mom and sis together once. With the exception of my MIL who retired when Bandar was 6 months and came for a few months at a time to be with us, the other trips were a few weeks each. I know both families spent a small fortune on tickets that year without accepting a penny from us and really showered Bandar with a lot of love. We had a part time nanny employed but our families somehow felt obligated to cover that half day of care for us and  wanted to help out and be there for us and we did not particularly refuse or encourage.I am eternally grateful of course, and we got Bandar to 13 months without much incident, thank God. Takes a village to raise a child and all that good stuff!
But with family living with you, things can also be very stressful, especially desi families who don’t hesitate to judge/ voice opinions/ comment on every single thing! It was just really very hard to manage the relationship with ones parents/ in laws right after you have popped out a baby, are struggling to breastfeed and pump for a good year, manage stressful jobs and  take career decisions.I think I might have spoilt some relationships for life during that year with my caustic tongue , nasty temper and retorts.
I will also not hesitate to say it was the hardest year for our marriage overall. Poor Bandar cannot really be blamed. Both the husbadoo and I do not handle stress well and tiny issues grew into major fights under hushed tones so that our folks wouldn’t know. Instead of a unit of two , we grew overnight into a unit of four (including the person who was with us at that time). Everyone of course intended the best for Bandar but communciation lines, egos, traditional views – all got in the way.
Also, what the husbadoo and i realized when we analyzed our situation was that there were certain topics that we each were over sensitive about. I for instance, took every single statement made by anyone to imply I was a bad mother for whatever reason. The husbadoo was overly sensitive about any minor statement relating to his career plans or job situation.
We also came to the conclusion that we had always been completely different individuals but when it was just us, there was a lot more give and take. We picked our battles – I gave in to him not shaving for a few days and he gave in to me keeping the house messy sometimes. With one more person from our families in the mix taking a point of view, the balance tipped.
The biggest thing we lost that year were a few traditions that we had come up with since our wedding and were really minor but important to us. Ordering in food on Fridays, getting bubble tea on weekends, watching some TV shows together as we ate dinner. All these things made us stronger as a couple and we lost a lot of these for a few months.
There are a few things I would change about that year.
1)I should have employed a full time professional nanny rather than our part time Desi gossipy one. This way family members visiting would not have felt the onus of childcare was on their shoulders and would have instead had a more relaxed time.
2)I should not have lost my temper and messed up relationships that are important in the long run. I should have kept my mouth shut and done exactly what I wanted without retorting in any way.
3) I should not have been guilty about anything that led me to be so defensive that entire year. I was doing a damn good job managing my child and my career and I should have held my head up high the entire time instead of sulking and flaring up at the slightest comment.
4)The husbadoo and I should have spent more time connecting that year. We started getting lunch together once a week or so and this helped us just talk, disconnect from family and focus on each other. We started doing this after Bandar was about 9 months but ideally should have been something we did right after Bandar was born. Dinner dates were not really easy for me to do at that time as again I was petrified about being judged for ‘ working all day, and leaving my baby at home, while I went out for dinner.’ So lunch worked out well for us and it was fun making up a story about having a work lunch and heading out in our separate cars to meet at a pre decided spot. It was almost like dating all over again.
Hopefully there will be other kids for me to put all the above into effect!

After my MIL left in October 2013, we were alone for the first time with Bandar and got a few weeks together in Austin before the husbadoo moved to start work in NYC in November. We joined him in December.
So I am definitely enjoying the closeness of being just the three of us in a new city and raising our little one the way we want – however disorganized, messy it may be.

Weekends go by fast

26 Mar

We started Friday evening with the husbadoo making us some sandwiches with fresh mozzarella and tomato. We end up having sandwiches at least once a week for dinner and I don’t know if it is healthier than our regular dinners or not.  Considering the full fat cheese and carbs from bread versus carbs and minimal olive oil based subjis , I guess they are a tad unhealthier. Anyway, we then got Bandar to bed and caught up on our weekly shows.
I started reading ‘ The Goldfinch’ for my first book club meeting this week and went to bed. The husbadoo apparently was ‘working’ till 6 am. Ido know the Xbox was on for a good part of that time so really don’t know how much work got done.
Anyway, he came to bed as Bandar was stirring and she was finally up at 7 am and bouncing on him. So I dispatched him to the guestroom and switched on some YouTube video for Bandar. Yes, stellar parenting I know, but I really needed that extra hour and it gave me about 30 minutes.
We then skyped with both sets of grandparents while the husbadoo continued to nap till 10:30 AM.
Once he was up, I was majorly pissed as we were supposed to go out for lunch and I was running late with preparing Bandar’s lunch to take with us, and she was getting cranky. I was really upset that he stayed awake till 6 am , spoiling his health, getting little actual work done and now depriving him family of an outing. Anyway, I made Bandar something to eat which she did not appear to like and proceeded to make some soup for myself as I was starving. This , because the husbadoo hates soup was done partly to spite him.
Anyway, we made up our fight and decided to take Bandar out after her nap instead and tried to lie down with her to sleep. Of course, we drifted off to sleep just as she woke up . We headed to the park and there were tons of kids and parents enjoying a rare warm, sunny day.
Bandar got to play for almost an hour and we fed her some food also there and headed to dinner. Actually we both did not particularly want to eat anything outside but the thought of going home and cooking was boring for a Saturday. So we ended up going aimlessly to our Thai place. We felt like dessert but the patisserie we were eyeing was shut on our way back. So we settled for some chocolate bars from the grocery store instead. We got Bandar to bed and read and watched TV nibbling chocolate.
Sunday started again with lengthy Skype sessions. I am little bored of these but our folks get to see Bandar’s antics. Sadly , I am very engaged in the one with my parents but bored stiff with the in laws one that goes on for 2.5 hours!  We then got Bandar ready, fed , ourselves ready and headed to see a friend in NJ. Bandar slept for a good 2.5 hours in her stroller as we loaded up on desi groceries at the Indian store and met our friend for lunch at an Indo Chinese place. Bandar got up as we finished and was delighted to see her favorite ‘kaka’ ( uncle) . She was a riot the whole evening and had us laughing the whole time. We took her to stroll by the river front and then let her run around in a mall. Our city kid confined to her stroller this entire winter enjoyed herself immensely and we had coffee and a brownie. We left to make our long journey home at 7:30 pm which was a bad decision as Bandar was terribly cranky by then and made a big old fuss about sitting in her stroller through the 1 hour plus trip , changing trains etc etc.
We then had the joy of carrying Bandar and the heavy groceries up 5 floors. Ah! The many joys of city living.
Bandar got to bed almost immediately while I opened up my work laptop to get set for the long week ahead. I also made some progress on my book club book and am almost at the 50% mark with close to 400 pages left to go.
We usually don’t go out much on Sundays and this kind of long trip tires me out for the week. I got no weekend chores done and am not likely to catch up with having a busy work week too.
Still Bandar had a blast and we had tons of laughs with her.

#100HappyDays – Its a hap,hap, happy day!

21 Mar

Today was indeed a happy day.

My little sister turned 20! For a short while we both are in our 20s.Yeah! Wow,time flies. I remember being woken up by Dad on a Sunday morning and told that my baby sister had arrived. Was that really 20 years ago? I did not send her a cake or anything this year as I have in the past but she did get a yummy one from my parents. I got to have a long phone conversation with her which is rare considering she is bang in the middle of her final exams. I miss her tons , she will always be my first baby and I just really feel particularly close to her today and warm and fuzzy inside when I think of her.

I am at a point where I have come to terms with my weight and body. It probably is a temporary phase and it is likely that I will go down the weight depression spiral again sometime, but for now I am fine. It means that I do not grudge myself a cookie or some chocolate on a daily basis. It means that I am not upset that I missed working out several times this week . I have accepted that my happy weight is a good 5-7 lbs away but that I have realistically only been that thin only once when I was single and spent over 2.5 hours at the gym each day. I no longer have that motivation, time or resources. I have worked bloody hard to get lower than my pre pregnancy weight and I am ok with staying at this for a while.

I cooked some really good food today – peanut capsicum subji to eat with quinoa tomorrow, yummy portabello sandwiches for dinner, moong and spinach dosas for Bandar and us. I am probably not the  best cook out there but I know I can cook healthy,tasty food for myself and my family and that works for now.

I had a professional cleaner clean our apartment today using a discounted online deal. I am so glad I did this. I love the clean kitchen especially so much and I have decided to spend on this luxury each month. I am lousy and lazy at cleaning and we owe it to Bandar to have a clean house for her.

Work is a little scary right now – have a gigantic task ahead of me and it is pushing me out of my comfort zone.But as this is a happy post,  I am going to tell myself I will get this done and emerge victorious on the other side.

I was searching my gmail account for some random old document and found the emails the husbadoo and I wrote each other during the 1 year I was in India and he was in the US. I was 20 and he was 21 and there is a certain innocence that stands out in those letters. We wrote to each other every day without fail and this was in the midst of peak parental pressure to break up! I wonder if I will ever show Bandar those letters? Hmmmm
I had a particularly disconnecting moment with my mom today over the phone when she reacted in a very unexpected way to something I said. I was disappointed for a second but then knew who would understand how I felt and have the exact reaction I expected. The husbadoo , of course! I realized that I have at least made one good decision in life – chosen to marry this man. He was worth every fight and argument with my parents.This moment coupled with the reading of the letters makes me feel ever so much in love today. The lover is however snoring peacefully in bed and we have a little bandar between us, but I will join them anyway. Good night world!

#100HappyDays – Happy moments from the weekend

18 Mar

Our weekend was one big food fest. I seriously must have gained all 5 lbs that I had lost since we have moved here.
It started with pizza on Friday evening. We saw this really good deal for 2 large pizzas + bread sticks and we could not resist ordering them.
So Friday evening was a pizza induced coma of happiness and watching “House of Cards” on Netflix.
Saturday morning brunch was pizza leftovers again and a cozy nap with my two favorite people. At 5 pm we took Bandar to Central Park and a playground was  finally open! Bandar has been deprived of swings since we left Austin and she got to swing to her little heart’s content. We played with her at the Park for about 2 hours and Bandar also walked a good bit on her little legs.
We finally went to a Thai restaurant and met one of our two NYC friends to celebrate his new job which will actually take him out of NYC. Bandar will miss her favorite kaka for sure. Bandar had not eaten in 4 hours and hogged her dinner. I am so happy to see her eat after weeks  of pushing away food. The secret is obviously no snacking and I think I need to be more strict about enforcing that to ensure she eats well at meal times.
We then got cheesecake to eat at home to further celebrate our friend’s success.
Bandar went to sleep almost immediately and we started to play a game – Settlers of Catan. The husbadoo and I love board games and have a really nice collection that we have invested time and money on. I am not talking Snakes & Ladders or Ludo here, though those are fun too, of course. Most of the games we have are quite strategic and are great fun with 3-4 players. The problem is we do not have any good friends in NYC to play them with. In Austin, our friends who liked board games were so understanding about us having to tend to Bandar if she awoke while we played and there was a certain comfort level with them. Here , our only friend who we cornered into playing with cheesecake is leaving NYC too. So I am sure our board games are not going to see the light of day in the next few years. My hope is Bandar learns to play these soon and the three of us can have some fun. As of now , she just wants to eat the counters , so we are working on her!
Anyway , we played till about 12:30 AM and our friend left.
I am supposed to be reading a book for my bookclub but I am bored out of mind by it, so decided to sleep instead of read.
On Sunday morning we rushed to get Bandar for her first play date ! Small milestone I guess.
Bandar’s friend is French and barely knows a few words of English. Bandar is learning a mixture of English, Tamil and Gujju of sorts to keep both her grandmothers happy.
So it is hilarious to see the two girls interact.
Every time her friend said ‘ Mamun’ and clung to her mom, Bandar who heard it as ” mumoo” ( the Tamil baby speak for food) repeated ” mumoo” and followed it up with the words ” pasi” and ” hungry” in Tamil and English .
Anyway, seeing this family have a strict rule of only French at home to make their kids bilingual, I am going to take more effort in making Bandar truly trilingual. The husbadoo and I resort to English with her and each other and if this carries on Bandar is probably not going to learn  any other language.
Bandar slept in her stroller on our way back and the husbadoo and I debated if we should let her sleep while we grabbed lunch outside or risk waking her up and taking her home as is.
We passed by an Indian restaurant serving a Sunday buffet and considering we hadn’t had one since June 2011, we gave in and went in.
I realized I no longer can do justice to a $ 15 buffet. The oily stuff like the pooris and samosas held no appeal. I had a few bites of those but just mainly had naan and the subjis which were quite decent. The desserts were pretty good too – Gulab Jammu and Carrot Halwa which the husbadoo and I love respectively. Bandar woke up only when we were done , so it was a fun, relaxing lunch.
We came home for a really long 3 hour siesta, I am surprised Bandar obliged with a long nap.
The rest of the evening was spent doing weekend chores in the weird quiet lull that follows a long Sunday nap.
You would think we were full after the Indian buffet, but no, we finished the remaining pizza and bread sticks for an early dinner.
Overall, not a shabby weekend – good food, board games, the park..not bad at all!

Adult decisions are not fun

18 Mar

So I have to be the most confused person in the entire world. After complaining to all and sundry, whining, cribbing and then slowing coming to terms with working remote , I just turned down a potential local opportunity because of the commute. What is wrong with me? It was just an interview call for a really good Fortune 50 company that fit my profile beautifully but I obviously may not have even landed the job if I interviewed. They were skeptical about the commute themselves – I would be the only person in the world traveling from NYC to NJ instead of the other way around . So they had given me a few days to consider if I wanted to even interview and sent me train and bus schedules. I thought about it long and hard and discussed it with the husbadoo the last two days. Finally I replied to them today saying I would not be able to handle the commute taking our current circumstances into account. I still don’t know if I did the right thing here. It would definitely have paid me more than what I currently make that would have more than covered my travel costs. But somehow I was not up for traveling 1 hour plus each day one way.
It is time away from precious Bandar. Plus I started thinking about paid time off from work- I am a few months away from 4 weeks of vacation time and 2 weeks of personal time!This translates into many small breaks through the year or one big India trip.
We have a 2 year lease here, we are a stone’s throw away from the university for the husbadoo and Bandar is just now adjusting to daycare. I cannot imagine us moving just for this opportunity immediately to NJ.
Two particular instances that really helped me decide were these-
1) Bandar goes to a lovely daycare that is really so homely and not as structured and rigorous as the others I have seen. At 4 pm ,one of the kids demanded pancakes and they decided to make them. Their teacher lives right above the school and she brought all the ingredients to class and the kids had fun mixing everything up.
When I went at 4:30 pm to pick up Bandar, I sat down with her to feed her the pancake she had helped make. I loved every minute of seeing her eat it up and then she showed me all the things she did at school that day – the pictures she painted, the playdough she moulded. If I had taken a job that took me so far out each day,I would miss out on picking/ dropping her and I love every minute of it.
2) Bandar only attends half days on Fridays as it is relatively very light for me and this Friday like others I got to pick her up early, change her, read to her and lie down with her till she fell asleep. I want to enjoy a few more weeks of this before I am ready to give up our Fridays altogether.

So I hope this decision is not something I regret. My year end review is next week and I am so worried that it will make me regret the decision I have taken here.
Hopefully this is a sign of better opportunities to come.

Random recent happy moments

14 Mar

We are eating out a lot less in NYC than we used to Austin.This is funny because we are in a veggie food paradise versus bang center of the Barbeque state and we have a lot more options here.
Reasons for our decreased eating out are –
1) A conscious financial decision – We are spending about 3 times in rent as we used and we have to cut costs somewhere. So we cut out cable and reduced eating out to one expensive meal a week or 2 smaller meals a week. This does not include the few days in the week the husbadoo chooses to eat lunch with his work buddies.So we order in on Fridays/ Saturday evenings and every 2 weeks we do a lunch date on Thursdays.The weeks we do the lunch date, we keep the bill within $ 25 and head out once more over the weekend. This model seems to be working for us.
2)I work from home and have more time to prep for dinner. Setting the cooker,chopping veggies – some basic tasks that seemed too time consuming after 6 pm are now done in the morning and I just have to do the actual cooking in the evenings.
3) We have too many options but don’t know where to get what. We actually have zero – 2 friends here. No really good word of mouth recommendations. Online websites like Yelp! are awesome but unlike Austin we don’t have a group of friends who know what our tastes are and what we would like. In Austin we had our go to weekend veggie taco place, our ‘ no fish sauce’ Thai place, our special occasion romantic Italian Bistro place,our Friday evening Paneer Biryani place, our Chilly Paneer place and so on..
4) Too cold to get out and explore. Honestly , it sometimes feels easier to cook up a meal rather than take the damn stroller out , bundle ourselves and Bandar and venture out.

Anyway the eating in is making me really happy.For one, I feel healthier . Even that one meal a week to outside makes me feel crappy and bloated. And it is nice to meal plan,shop for groceries, challenge myself with new things to cook.

On to the next happy moment-
I really like alternate Thursdays. With Bandar at school and the husbadoo  lazing around the house with a delayed work day, it often results in fun morning activities ! Later we pick where to go for lunch and then he heads to work while I randomly stroll the streets for veggies,fruit or other things and come home to work.
Last Thursday, I broke my ‘no-shopping’ self set ban and wandered into Sephora. I am normally a ” chemist shop brand less make-up” kinda girl but have realized with age that I rather pay the extra $$ for some quality products, make up being one of them.
I picked up a few goodies and spent the afternoon trying on the lipstick and mascara at home.

We usually try to have Bandar in bed by 8 pm and asleep before 9. When it does happen, the husbadoo and I sit on the couch ,watching House of Cards and eating ice cream and/or fruit. We really should be catching up on sleep but instead watch maybe 1-2 episodes,  talk about Bandar, our days at work and other random things. Some days we don’t talk much but watch our own shows on our tablets/laptops, read or work,other days  we fight and make up ,other days we make out… I really love those 2 hours though.