Archive | May, 2016


27 May

After my rather morose post from yesterday, let’s have a more cheery topic here shall we? We made a trip to Disneyland in early April and if there was one word or rather two words to describe the day for me they were “laid back”!

This is super different from how I was at our Disneyworld (DW) visit in 2014. With DW I wanted to ensure we got the most out of trip and that we did every single ride we could with Bandar  at the height she was then. But this time at Disneyland (DL) , Bandar was actually taller and could go on a bunch of rides , but we went through the park as leisurely as we could and I did not stress, for the most part.

Firstly, can I just say its so nice not having to buy flight tickets to go to Disneyland? We can actually do the 1.5 hr drive back and forth on the same day. Yeah for that! We initially thought we would spend the night at a hotel near Disneyland the night before to make it to the park when the gates opened at the crack of dawn , but with work in the way, we dropped that idea and just decided to have an early morning start and late night return.

Bandar was up in a flash as soon as I said Disenyland at about 6:30 am in the morning and changed in the car on our way over. We ate some fruits and granola bars on our way over there. I also had a bag of sandwiches, nuts and candy packed for our lunch there. We got there closer to 9 am, I think and as usual getting from the parking lot to the gates was the most irritating ordeal. Once in, we did our walk through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, with Bandar constantly saying she did not want to see the bad fairy. Then we were in Fantasyland and did almost all the rides there – Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Mr. Toad’s ride, Peter Pan, Dumbo and the carousal.  As we were doing most of these the second time around after DW , I was less impressed. Some were plain silly like the Toad one. A lot of the fun for us was seeing Bandar really take in the rides this time. She wasn’t even two years old during DW so this time she really enjoyed herself. She even agreed to go on Dumbo, and later said that was one of her favorites. She had refused to go on this one 1.5 years ago, just goes to show that kids outgrow their fears eventually. We then took a break for lunch and ate our sandwiches and snacks.

We then headed to Toon Town, which were really the most pointless area in the park for us, in my opinion.  Bandar isn’t a fan of getting too close to any of the characters and had no interest in seeing Mickey or Mnnie’s house. Instead we did the silly Roger Rabbit ride and then Bandar played to her little heart’s content in the play area. At one point, I was more than a little agitated that we were wasting our expensive tickets in a play area  like one we would find at any mall or street corner. But the husband groudned me by simply pointing to content Bandar,who was at that point sitting atop a play pumpkin quite majestically , commanding her presence over tinier toddlers. She was definitely enjoying herself and that was all that mattered.We then saw a Mickey show, which Bandar enjoyed and got most of and it was done pretty well, like everything Disney usually is.

We then headed to “It’s a small world” ride, which remains a universal favorite in our house and we enjoyed pointing out the various countries to Bandar. Bandar then wanted to go on a submarine- the Finding Nemo ride This was the longest line we stood in that day – about 1 hr 15 mins and played a guessing game to keep ourselves going.(Side note: Another reason I love this age!They can actually play some games of intellect now.) Bandar enjoyed this ride too, though the husband felt a tad claustrophobic in the enclosed space.

Then we put Bandar in her stroller  and she feel asleep , tired out. It was about 3:30 pm pm and we debated heading out to a desi thali, versus hanging out in downtown Disney. We decided to stick with downtown Disney as transferring a sleeping child from stroller to trolley to carpark was too complicated and a huge risk of waking her up grumpy. Instead we settled on Burgers at the Rainforest Café. .The service was a little slow, so Bandar was up and a little grumpy at first but soon settled down and let us eat. We then headed back to the park for the last sprint.

Inside the park, we saw Tarzan’s  Tree House, which was fun for us all. (Guess the equivalent of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at DW). We then did the Pirates  of the Carribbean ride. This ride,according to both the H and I, was the most well done one. The scenes and lighting and even the  music and everything! Bandar was a little frightened as it was a little too realistic for her!

And that was all the rides we did that day and I was satisfied!

I couldn’t help taking in all the “Disneyness” around me. Little girls in their princess costumes and elaborate hairdos, everyone with their Mickey ears, the lines for Dole whip – somehow the more Disney exposure I get the less mesmerized I am and the less I want to succumb to the merchandize and everything else. (And of course my child is only 3.5 now and can still be convinced that a $15 Mickey shaped balloon will burst just like any other in a few days time. But I have no illusions that I will be able to hold her back when she is older.Then you realize that Disney is still a dream for most Americans, and some families save up for months or years to make the trip.And then the Make- A-Wish Foundation kids you invariably see at the park are  heart wrenchingly sad scenes, but it makes me think that the magic of Disney might not be all that terrible and has really given millions of kids so much happiness.

We then squeezed ourselves into a reluctant group for the parade. The parade started 1.5 hrs later, the husband was a little tired and grumpy and we snarled at each other a few times as we waited, one reason being I unknowingly made Bandar sit on some dirty water or coffee spill or something, and if there is anything the H hates its unhygiene, especially as it relates to Bandar. Anyway she was changed and was semi dry and no major damage was done. The parade was strictly average in my opinion compared to what I remembered at DW . They didn’t even have all the princesses. We had seen the 7 dwarfs and Snow White etc, at DW and I was expecting them here too. Instead some of the Pixar characters who I do not even know or care about made an appearance. They made up for it during the fireworks though..Ohhh, so beautiful even for the adults. And the lighting and effects around you during the fireworks on Main street is of course amazing. .Bandar watched from the husband’s shoulders and then we finally left the park. We forced Bandar to make a potty stop prior to getting into the car and then we drove home.She slept  about 10 minutes into the drive and we enjoyed the quite chit chat on our way home. There is  nothing quite like getting into your own bed at the end of a tiring day.


Cooking (or lack thereof)

26 May

The latest in my life is that cooking has gone from being a hobby and something I enjoyed to my nemesis each week. And I really don’t know for sure how it got to being this way. I used to enjoy planning and cooking healthy, nutritious food for my family and poring over food blogs, recipes and watching a TV show or two as I cooked. But now it seems like all that was eons ago.

A good guess is that my attitude towards cooking changed when I started on my new job and went from being a remote fulltime employee to actually having to go to work outside the house .I then started stressing about getting weekly prep done on the weekends. This started a few weeks ago and at first I enjoyed having a goal and set of dishes planned out for each week. But then, the whole process got laborious somehow. Even if you take grocery shopping out of the equation, just tidying the kitchen and dishes to begin prepping, actually chopping, prepping and all that, the cooking itself and then storage and clean up all take a significant amount of time each weekend. My weekends are either fun family stuff outdoors, social activities or being Bandar’s sole caregiver if the husband is at cricket and playing with her indoors or outdoors. And these are all such precious moments that I enjoy and do not want to lose out on any of them by having to spend a sizable portion of my weekend in the kitchen.

Then the question that keeps coming up in my mind is – What was the net output of all this weekend work? Just a few subjis or dals to eat with store bought rotis. Or a Thai or Mexican dish for a change. All these dishes I made in large quantities – too large to finish even in 3-4 meals by 2 adults. To add to that  the husband seems to have a teeny tiny appetite off late, preferring to eat fruit and other things rather than food when he can. So we end up trashing a lot of food at the end of a week and then again going grocery shopping to buy new main course ingredients and spices in 2-3 grocery stores to continue this miserable cycle.

So I tried not being so well prepared a few weekends and then dealing with cooking during the week. That by itself is also extremely stressful. Coming home at 6pm with Bandar, who I am dying to just play with for 2 hours and interact with, and having to deal with no food in the fridge. Poor Bandar has no choice but to just play by herself in the living room as I chop and cook from scratch. Also I was usually Hangry (hungry +Angry)  and tired myself as I did this cooking work those evenings.

Cooking late into the night also seems to be out of question as I am usually in bed at 9:30 pm with Bandar at the latest most nights and up around 5:30 am. I truly value my health and unless I have actual office work keeping me up, which thankfully I do not so far, I am going to go to bed. I get up early to get a walk in a few days of the week, and I usually just have time to pack our lunch boxes before I head out. Lunch box cooking is non painful so far and is really not related to our night meals. The husband and I do sandwiches usually for lunch, which he usually makes for us and Bandar does a variation of things that are all 20 minutes from raw material to lunch box. So really it’s the night meals that are stressful.

A large part of this stress also stems from my disorganized kitchen . I feel I need to spend just a whole day cleaning my kitchen up and organizing. Most of my spice jars do not have spoons in them, and I tip the spice pot into the food and harsh taps, over spices the food, leading to more wastage. Yes, I a m that lazy to find a clean dry spoon before using the spice. I have tons of disposal containers , running amok in my limited kitchen storage that have to be neatly stacked and put away for later use. I have stupid warehouse bulk bought groceries lying around in the most unexpected shelves that I need to get around to consuming. The good glass containers I have for food storage have no lids. The fridge itself needs to be wiped down with vinegar. My dals and other desi groceries need to be easily accessible. Spice containers  need to be refilled, instead of pouring from packets when I need them. So much to do and really no time. To do all this one weekend, I will definitely have to take time away from my family and also probably that week’s cooking and I haven’t been able to do it so far. And it is not a one time activity either. Lots of these activities have to happen at some regular frequency.

All I have time to do each day is dishwasher loading, unloading (even this activity is sometimes too much on some days, and I have sink full of dirty dishes awaiting me today at home), and the lunch cooking activity I mentioned above. Anything else seems overwhelming right now. And all this disorganization makes me almost hate regular cooking so much.

An ideal scenarios for me right now seems like getting a desi cook in a few times a week to cook under detailed instruction from me on oil and spice usage. That way I know atleast the quality of produce and overall hygiene and other things, rather than her making all the food away from eyes. And this service is not cheap, but probably something I need to just come to terms with paying for. Someone here even told me you have desi aunties who take over all kitchen organization duties, right down to making a list of groceries for you to buy. I am personally giving myself a few more weeks to deal with kitchen organization and somehow get my cooking mojo back before I go in search of some kitchen help.


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!