Thursday, December 18, 2008

Patiently handle pesky advice!

When I was pregnant with Eli; and Serene(then 8 months) and me were on a flight to India,I met a lady who has 2 kids.Over a long layover at Newark airport, we bonded and spoke of(what else) but kids!She gave me the best piece of advice that I have ever gotten from anyone about children."When folks advise you about your kids: smile;nod,act dumb!,make appreciative noises like umm.hmm etc".Then go ahead and do exactly what you want to".Time and again over the last 13 months,I have been reminded of this comment as well meaning family,friends,acquaintances and strangers advise me.While its nice when you solicit for advice or suggestions, its the unsolicited ones that really bug me.. yes, it is snowing outside and one of my ever-fidgety son's ears are peeking out of his hat.. that will warrant stares from strangers,some will helpfully point it out to helpful soul even went as far as firmly tucking his ear back in- on a public train! Get away from my baby.. I think.. forget the cold, who knows what germs he might get from your hands that have touched every conceivable surface through the day!! hahaha.sound melodramatic... but, I know every mother might have faced this some time or the other.
The advice I have received over the last two years: it used to rile me at first, make me really defensive,has even led to some arguments with the other party we would would discuss whose point of view is correct.. the trip to India I guess broke the last straw off the camel's back.Relatives and friends who were seeing Serene for the first time (and me in a mum's role) had tonnes of advice/comments.It was getting frustrating as I kept trying to maintain my Western standards in a place where touching a stranger's baby's cheeks,planting a kiss,patting the head are considered signs of affection :) It took me a good few days to settle into this "new" routine! to realise that all people are trying to do is display their affection for my little one.Praneet got there a few weeks after us and when he heard my saga of woe about having to sit through advice, he laughed! and laughed! and then told me very simply that I need to have the confidence in my mothering skills.Do not doubt yourself.Give everyone a patient ear, weigh the pros and cons and then you decide what you need to do for your child.
It really worked! Now, when the lady sitting next to me on the train ride to downtown asks me why my babies(clad in head to toe winter jackets) are not covered with a blanket to combat the weather,I smile back sweetly and say,oh.. I brought one--- they kicked it off as it was too much!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ho.ho.holidays with the toddlers!

Hi everyone,its been ages since I've blogged and I have heard rumblings from near and dear ones about how they've missed my musings :-) thanks for the kind words!
Serene's now a 23 month old moppet and Eli's 9 months old and all over the place! They keep me on my toes allright.. have signed them up for a whole load of activities like gym,art,music,storytime and swimming classes in the nearby park district to get that nervous energy depleted( I wish!)
This is going to be one special holiday season( oh.. what the.. I love the word Christmas..).Last one,I was preggers with Eli and Serene was 11 months old, so was just too tired to do much.The one previous to that,I was preggers with Serene.. hehehe.So, this is one Xmas where I am NOT preggers and look forward to some late nights and spiked eggnog :)
I have been fortunate enough to find 2 great sitters we use on a rotaional basis over weekends.Hubs and me realised that life.. and conversations were getting to be "all about the kids" and decided that we needed to get outta the rut.So,Saturday mornings- I take over until 12 pm while he snoozes, goes to his favorite coffee place,reads the papers etc.Noon to 5 pm, he takes over while I.. sleep.. shop...pamper myself! Its working out wonderfully and all ye young parents out there might want to try this out.The first few weekends,I had my to-do list ready of things I wanted to accomplish.. guess what I did.. ya, you guessed it.. I slept,slept and slept some more!! hehehe.
Saturday evenings;we feed them,bathe,story time and tuck them in and then the sitter come over!! Drums roll please.. I am free free free.Its date night all over again.We go grab a drink,do dinner,watch movies and even just goto a bookstore and browse.. the rule is "NO TALK OF KIDS".Funny thing is that the first date.. we didn't know what else to talk about :) But, this is a wonderful routine and energises me to face the week ahead with the brats!
After much regret, we have decided not to put up the tree this year, especially with Eli- its better safe than sorry.Praneet is cooking us a scrumptious seafood feast on Xmas eve( this is supposed to be a Belgian tradition as told by one of our friends).. Some wine and seafood with a cheese platter to round it off.. yum yum yum! Friends would be coming over for supper on Christmas day.I am doing the whole hog( literally!) and theres going to be a roast chicken( just find Turkey too dry..),ham,potatoes and vegetable casseroles.But the Goan in me will manifest itself in the form of pork vindaloo and shrimp :) oooooooooh.. I can't wait:cooking and devouring this feast has me all revved up.. dessert will be assorted sweets,cakes and a home made raspberry pie with whipped cream.. :) I shall try and take pics to post them here for your visual satisfac
We also attended a St Nicholas party last week.. Serene had a blast.The hostess made some wonderful spiced ginger and cinnamon cookie dough and the little ones got to create and decorate their own cookies.My one ofcourse had a better time sampling the raw dough. :)
Shopping this year is on a mellow route thanks to the economy.We have decided to get the kids some toys and clothes.My wish list to Santa will include Rachel Ray cookware and Victoria's Secret sleepwear :) Hubbys list is still in planning mode!
I was reading an article of how families have a Christmas tradition they follow each year.I think thats such a great idea.. am hoping to start one this year, so the kids will have something to remember as the years roll by... it could be baking cookies together or making christmas ornaments or going to a holiday special event.. Praneet and the babies visited the Christkindl market last weekend: was so much fun with spiced wine,carols,german sausages and beer...
I hope you all have a great time this holiday season.. stay happy and warm!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trials with my toddler!

Serene turns 18 months this Saturday and last night, I was looking at Eli and thinking- gosh this was how small Serene was at one point in time.... Its difficult to decide which stage is more fun, when they are cute cuddly babies or over energetic toddlers who amuse you with their antics!
Serene is at the "discovery" stage now.. as she grows taller and more independent, every object around her is given its due( and sometimes overdue!) attention.She now reaches the knobs of my gas stove... so I have taken to cooking only when they both are down for their nap.My beloved suede chaise lounge in the living room today got a protective coat of Vaseline mixed with diaper rash cream on it! any of you out there who could provide tips on how to get rid of the stain- I'd be grateful :-)
She has also become very observant- it suddenly puts such a huge responsibility on us as parents and she watches our every move and mimics it! the other day she started picking her nose- causing P and me to get into an argument about WHOM she learnt that from! Consensus reached was: she probably saw someone at the park!
Arguments with the husband also need to be handled very carefully now... she understands the change in tone and looks very startled.P and me, if we have to argue, now smile and each other and do it!!
I was reading an interview with First lady Laura Bush last night.She is a trained teacher and author to children's books.She has said that you should read to your kid when they are 1, 2 years of age- they absorb like a sponge at this age.So all you parents out there, take some time out of each day to read to your baby.I do it with Serene and can already see the difference it has made.She recognises so many pictures now and knows when exactly to turn the page.. its amazing!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picnic in the park turns into a damp squib

We had a great weekend.Serene got to attend her first birthday party.A friend's daughter turned one and we were invited.It was a "princess theme" affair and did I have a tough time keeping my over active toddler away from all the lovely decorations!It was a treat to see both little girls looking gorgeous in their frilly pink outfits.. Eli thankfully snoozed through it all in his carseat, must remember the formula portion I fed him that afternoon :-)
Sunday, after church- we decided to picnic in the park.This would be another first for Serene.. We decided to do buffalo wings and spicy chicken breasts marinated in cilantro/limejuice/cumin/peppercorn/yoghurt and greenchilly paste!Off we set with our grill and drinks and reading material!
P decided to get adventurous and try out his new tent in the park.As soon as he unravelled it, it looked like a complicated affair, so I wisely buried myself in the "Chicago tribune"! ofcourse Serene was a great help, running all over the tent and putting bits of it in her mouth :-) 15 minutes of further tangling the net and he decided he needs "a break!" - so cooled off with some lemonade while his little helper enjoyed her apple juice.We suddenly hear thunder... I asked P if he'd had the foresight of checking weather conditions before we set out.. ofourse, people- you don't expect me to take the blame for this one- I was too busy getting the food ready! P sheepishly pulled out his blackberry and there we saw... scattered thunderstorms.. Nice, I proclaim!I hate getting wet in the rain and am also a typical mother who will put her kid under the shower, but oh.. the rain coming down on them on a hot sunny day will definitely give them a cold!! There was another family barbecuing nearby and the husband assures P that in his country, they have a way of telling if its going to be a heavy downpour.. don't worry- he says- this one- tiny drops!! OK>>> P decides to go ahead with heating up the grill, despite my grumblings getting louder and louder.. for 2 minutes, the sun even comes out, making him grin evilly at me.And then.... the water comes gushing down as the heavens open up on us! Gosh! it was terrible.We must have made a cartoonish sight as I ran across with Serene on my hip and my beloved newspaper under my other arm( some great deals in the flyer's!).P following closely behind with Eli in his carseat ... the tent and the grill getting soaked through and through.Luckily, our car wasn't parked too far and we quickly bundled the kids in, Eli screaming his head off as we had to pull the bottle out of his mouth when it begun to rain.
P ran back to bundle the rest of the stuff into the trunk.By the third and last trip, it had actually stopped to rain... so he decides to get brave again and ask me if he can actually continue the grilling while we sit in the car.I think it was the thunderous look on my face this time that made him decide to forgo his ambitious plan!
So, people- that was our lovely picnic in the park... we returned home like wet rats!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Magics of Multitasking!

Believe me, I did not understand the meaning of this word until I had children.... a word so oft used ( and abused! remember that time when you multi tasked between your outlook and yahoo i.d's in the office!) in the corporate world.
The other day, Eli and Serene decided to get hungry together.. now my kids are of the brand which bring the roof down when their tum-tums growl... I made up a bottle for Eli and then Serene yelled and I stand there wondering, OK, now what??? where do I get that third hand to magically appear from!for a minute, I was most tempted to join them in their wailing tirade :).But, the one above as usual helps you through and in a minute- I had Eli in his bassinet and I was feeding him with my left hand.Serene was in her high chair and I was spooning her lunch to her with my right hand.I then got really ambitious and continued sipping my cuppa java with the right hand between feeding her!! Don't believe me- check out the pic for yourself!
Multitasking is such an important need of my life right as I bang away at my keyboard, I am also playing ball with Serene - the throw and fetch game keeps her amused for hours and lets me do something else at the same time.
Casual phone chats with friends are no longer a means to unwind- as I stand chatting with Leena( besides the caffeine, she's my other daily fix!),I almost feel guilty about not doing anything else!As the brain and mouth carry on the conversation, the eyes and hands are racing all over- ok- what needs to be done- fold laundry,do dishes,pick up toys( for the zillionth! time)...
Even television viewing isn't downtime anymore... commercial breaks are used for keeping away clothes in the closet, folding that omnipresent load of laundry yaada yaada yaada!Infact last week, as I was watching "Hell's kitchen"( hey.. just this one.. else I'm NOT sucker for reality shows!), I even managed to clean the washroom.. 1st commercial break- slightly long one- finished tub.2nd break- short one- did sink! 3rd break- finished loo!!! after end of show, mopped the floor!! tra lah lah lah! now if that's not multitasking, then what is!!

Double stroller-life saver :-)

My maternal aunt was here from India for 2.5 months to help me through the delivery and looking after 2 babies.That she was a godsend is an understatement.. Thanks, Aunt Maria- you rock!After recovering from my post delivery blues, she and I enjoyed taking both kids for varied outings- shopping,the park,downtown sites etc.As time drew near for her departure, i started panicking about:
1) how will I manage these 2 by myself?
2) even if I resolve point # 1( no choice there!) how will I take both kids out by myself....

Spoke to P and Aunt and the consensus reached was- Chris.. baby.. you need that double stroller..
Decision made- it was time to go get one.I first started scouting online and let me tell you folks, I was SHOCKED! the number of choices out there are un.. freakin.. believable!It would have been easier to decide on a set of wheels! oh yes, it also doesn't help to have a husband who loves playing researcher before any purchase! this involves visiting websites,comparing options,reading reviews online(go get a life guys)talking to his oh.. so helpful colleagues... every evening, he would come home with newly found pearls of wisdom.. "the weight of the stroller is the most important factor" said one during their coffee break.Another genius cautioned P about the size of the wheels... too small and they won't turn around quickly enough. You also gotta make sure they fit through the entrance way of your grocery store,train station entrance blah... blah.. blah... A seemingly simple purchase became rocket science what with us touring Target,Walmart and speciality baby stores every weekend.God, I think- if my babies first set of wheels is such a difficult purchase, I hope they decide to walk for the rest of their lives!
I should have taken pictures of our various visits to these stores- so we would enter the store with the babies in 2 separate strollers- then aim for the double stroller section- remove both babies and try them into all the sample strollers in the store.In one store,Serene decided that crawling between the strollers was more fun than actually sitting in one... here she was in and out between the wheels! in another,I managed to pick up Eli with amazing speed just before he could bring up lunch over one sample stroller!
Then also came the tedious task of measuring the stroller width and comparing it to the sizes of the entrances of our regular hangouts...
Finally... oh finally.. Thank you God... we found our perfect machine..the baby trend expedition double stroller. its light, folds in a snap and even has speaker output for an MP3 player!Ofcourse, these amazing features were duly noted by the husband.I was overjoyed with the orange/black/grey color scheme that would match my present wardrobe perfectly- yes, meanies- I am mostly attired in black nowadays to hide the baby flab :-).
Did I forget to mention its best feature that prompted this purchase:this is a jogging stroller!!! After paying for it, I felt 10 lbs lighter already :-)

Father's day- June 2008

This was a special Father's Day for us... 2 kids within 2 years of marriage is no mean feat and I wanted to make the day as nice as possible for Daddy-O.The poor guy has forgotten what it is to get something for himself.... he always make grandiose plans.... the hi-fi digicam,the vacation to Europe... and all those electronic gadgets the boys love.However, his wish list always takes a backseat to 2 kinds of diapers, a fancy double stroller,the crib,the toys, the books,the nanny.. and so on!so, I was determined to get him at least something from his wish list.After his sports bike got stolen(yes smartypants.. it was chained to the fence.. the jerk who took it actually hacksawed through the link!), I knew he has been lusting after a nice bike that he could use to get himself to the train station( or.. even to work downtown, in his more ambitious moments!).We took Serene to Gymboree a few weeks ago( another expense!) and there P took off to a fancy bike store nearby- came back with this "I got my hand caught in the candy jar" look on his face.. Hey Tee( when he calls me that, I start bracing myself!) he says" there's an awesome bike in that store.Yea, but I told the guy I can't afford it.After all, we have other expenses coming up this month.. my mind started ticking, I was like"yes" now I know what to get him for Father's day.I kept a deadpan expression and was like, yeah, wish we could afford this love.. but we can't.Conversation closed.P believes that's the end of it.
Come father's day-I hand him this really cute card with a springy dog on the cover and "Papa" written in bold- P likes the kids calling him papa.He opens the card and out fall 100's of $ bills.. "This, I say is for the bike".Now, take off and go get that bike and don't you dare spend the money on anything else... P is thunderstruck into silence( a rare occurrence!). Are you sure Tee.. we have .... expense and we have .... expense."GO" I say, we need to live life a little too!Wow, the look on his face was priceless... most of father's day was spent on him scouting for the "perrr fect" bike and then having it customized.We had planned a barbecue in the park ,however did I forget to mention that the jerk also stole our gas cylinder for the grill! we couldn't locate any small cylinders last minute, so ended up barbecuing at home itself.Late evening was spent poring over the train schedule,planning a routine exit from home to ride to the train station etc etc( we'll see how long the 5 am alarm lasts!!).
Here is a pic of P on his shiny new bike.I also invented this great new marinade that I used over Cornish Hen;it was awesome.

1Cornish hen
Minced ginger/garlic- 1 tablespoon
honey-1 teaspoon
Srilankan Sambal Oelek(chilli garlic paste)- 2 tablespoons or as per taste- KEY INGREDIENT
Thick Yogurt-2 tablespoon
salt- as per taste
Freshly ground pepper- as per taste
lemon juice- 1 tablespoon
balsamic Vinaigrette- 1 tablespoon

Mix everything very well- cut up hen into 4 big pieces- make slits for marinade to seep through.I kept it overnight for optimum flavor.keep spooning reserve marinade when grilling to keep the meat moist.

Serving options:

Peas pilaf'
Fresh green salad