Friday, August 12, 2016

Of love and marriage...

Parenting note: Nobody makes more interesting conversations than a preschooler!!
Out of the blue, at breakfast...
M: Mommy I have decided I will marry you and daddy.
Me (hardly surprised - the things she says these days have lowered the shock factor): Why do you want to marry us?
M: Because I love you guys so much / you are my true love. And I want to stay with you forever!
Me: Manya children don't have to marry their parents - you can stay with us always.
M: But you left nana and Nani when you got married - I don't want to leave you so I'll just get married to you guys!
Me: (she gets mean and sarcastic even in a compliment, no?) Are you sure?
M: yes, really! Let's all three of us get married!
Me: Alright!
P.S. Somebody take out the stamp paper - I want her signatures on it and maybe a wooden sign with her words engraved to hang in her room during teenage!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Beachy Summers

Without an iota of doubt, we are convinced we have a water baby! M can spend all day at the beach or any water body for that matter and not get bored at all. I love the sand and water too so together all three of us have been exploring the Pacific Northwest Wonder, aka, Oregon. We have kept a close radius to Portland and yet have not been disappointed. The Oregon coast is undoubtedly beautiful but so are the innumerable rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls in and around Portland. Our third summer here and most weekends all that we do is hunt for a new water hole and set out! We are really falling hard for Portland and here are some snapshots to convince you too...

To Manya,

"When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that."


Friday, July 29, 2016


So we are playing one of the trillion pretend and play games that Manya invents everyday, and here goes...
M: mommy let's play the baby sitter game.
Me: (very uninterested): okay, how does it go?
M: my babies (pointing to her dolls) are all alone at home when I go to work, so you'll be the baby sitter.
Me: (stretching out for my phone, to get into character 😜) okay! So where do you work?
M: in Oregon
Me: no, I meant who do you work for?
M: I work for money!
Me: no no, I mean like a company or something
M: I don't work for anyone - I only work for money.
Me: why do you need so much money?
M: to buy important things for my husband
I am still in splits!!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A beautiful doll like me...

There might be some sort of a correlation between daughters and dolls, or not. But, Manya and mommy both love dolls :D.
In our case, Manya was gifted her first dolls by friends, and it was only on her second birthday did we as parents present her with a doll as she had been asking for a while. Subsequently, on her third birthday, she again wanted a doll, which in her words. "should be as beautiful as me..." (As an aside, I never denied we are not raising a narcissist :P)

My daughter is close to 4 now, and the struggle that I continue to face in my quest to search for a doll as beautiful as her is crazy - yes, that has to be the word. We are about 1.2 billion Indians (I agree with not all same characteristics), but how difficult is it for a toy manufacturer to make a doll with brown skin, black hair and black eyes that is not size zero. We are a nation that has produced Miss Universes and Miss Worlds more times than I can remember (never mind, my personal opinion against most beauty pageants) yet when it comes to our dolls (or maybe even most of our so called beauty models), we whitewash them - pale fair skin, blonde golden hair, blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and pink lips - why are those still our standards of beauty worldwide? It broke my heart when M stated matter of factly the other day when we couldn't spot a single suitable doll across 3 stores, "I think only golden haired dolls are pretty" (why else she couldn't understand weren't there other kinds of dolls), and it did become my mission to find dolls that were pretty and not blonde.

We currently reside in the US - In the last couple of years I am increasingly aware of the growing number of black (and I don't see why black is politically incorrect - African-American seems more factually incorrect!) dolls on the shelves beside their white counterparts - which is awesome! But brown dolls - no luck. Dora comes close but if you are a parent of a preschooler, you know she is not made to really cuddle with. So the other day, I was having a conversation with some mommy friends, and they realized that it was true that even if brown girls were fairly common in the US, brown dolls were not. I have still not taken this omission from the market too much to heart - it is the US, there are so many different people out here and so be it if certain nationalities are not represented really - (not everybody is competing with the emojis, I understand *rolls eyes*) - Also the greater problem might be state representatives rather than doll representative, just saying.

These are Manya's first dolls as presents from friends...

The great Indian vacation was surely going to be our answer - or so I thought. I was very sure that back home in India we would get the dolls like "us" - but if you think finding a brown doll in the US was difficult, it is impossible in India. Infact, when you go to a store and ask for a brown doll, people look at you as if they don't understand what you are talking about. Friends suggested the Trudi brand (Italian), and when I checked their catalogue I was thrilled to see so many kinds of dolls - brunettes and black haired, and different eye colors - well somebody is doing it right (so what if it costs an arm and a leg, and only if you can get your hands on the limited stock). So, I went around looking for their black haired doll - ready to shell out any amount but with little success. I was, however, able to get my hands on Ginger (from Trudi) and she was different - not white, a little speckled even, not a blonde and green instead of blue eyes - one takes what one gets and we bought it for about INR3500 or about USD 60.00. Expensive for a doll, but not bad considering the options we had.
Here's Ginger...

Quite disappointed when we returned after our Indian vacation, I commenced serious research and realized that there were options out there, though not readily available in physical stores. American Girl clearly tops the list. Spendy again. I mean USD100+ is atrocious - you pay a price for egalitarianism, I guess - or is that the price for being "different"? Anyhow, they have really upped their game. (Tip: check out Zulily for deals! :D)  Here's the bitty baby that Manya got on her 3rd birthday and she was absolutely delighted. I really think it looks like her baby version :).
Madame Alexander, long considered the inferior cousin to American Girl, does comes a close second - I see greater choices added every now and then - less expensive too but again not available in physical stores easily.

Manya wants a cuddly soft toy doll this time, and these kinds are much easier to find but again you have to ignore the oneness of the color. Kayla (she is supposed to be a tall 28" brunette) is waiting for M in the store room since mommy grabbed her already at a great deal.

As we aspire to bring up our children to be confident in their own skin (quite literally too); to be respectful towards the diversity that comes with origin, race, culture, religion, country, sect, gender, sexual preferences; to be able to put values of love, help, and general goodness above any such differences, we as parents would really appreciate help that can come from big corporates who manufacture toys for these young clay-like minds. In an ideal world, my daughter should be able to go to a store and see all kinds of dolls (at a varying price range), just as she walks into her preschool class and befriends so many "different" girls!  Diversity is great - ofcourse it fuels curiosity - my daughter has been asking why some girls have golden hair and blue eyes, and if only those can be princesses (Thank you, Disney! - but that would be fodder for another post). But such questions are important - whitewashing the whole toys section just seems unhealthy in a world that's already coping with issues of acceptance of the "other". Don't you think? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sattar (70) minutes!

So M has been going for classes thrice a week now - for 2-2.75 hrs. Between driving to and fro, I roughly get about a little more than an hour or so, absolutely guilt-free, to myself, and oh my god - any parent will have to agree with me - each minute of that ticking hour is so precious! Most of the time I am just giddy with excitement - should I go shop, should I cook and clean (F it!), should I exercise, should I read, should I watch, should I surf, should I blog, should I nap!! 

Am no SRK fan but I am reminded of this scene from Chak De every time! ...It's like, "...yeh sattar minute main jee bhar ke jee loon; Sattar minute zindagi ke jo mujhse koi nahin cheen sakta...khuda bhi waapas nahin maang sakta" ha ha ha!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Busy days ahead!

One person in our house who now needs her own calendar so that everybody else can kepp up with her schedule is Ms. Manya Vishwanath.

She hasn't started preschool yet but her current rough schedule goes like this: 2 days a week summer camp, 2 days a week martial arts, 2 days a week swimming, one day a week school skills class. Add to that Library visits and story times, weekend impromptu trips, our little one is surely busy.

And she is clearly not exhausted enough as she still finds time to get bored!! The other day her highness mentions that she would like to start ballet and soccer classes - I had to be rude and cut her off with a No, Thank You - Mommy is exhausted with all the chaperoning!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Board games!

We have finally introduced Manya to the wonderful world of board games. She got two to start with - Candyland Bingo and Hi Ho Cherry Ho - very age appropriate multi player games!

I remember doing a post on my personal blog a very long time back about the fun I have had growing up with board games - you can read it here.

It has been very exciting playing these with Manya as part of family time and thankfully she has been as enthusiastic. The other stuff that's keeping her really busy these days is puzzles. She can do upto 16 pieces now and is working on the 24-piece sets. That's one thing she can work on for a long time without having to be entertained by someone and I have been able to do my cooking and cleaning in greater peace thanks to that!

Friday, June 17, 2016

First movie in a theater!

While I would have wanted to wait a couple of more years before this first came along, but Manya clearly had other plans.

I spoke about her first movie ever (at home) - Finding Nemo, here. As luck would have it, she spotted Finding Dory marketing stuff all over the place - in clothing stores, grocery stores, book stores, and obviously wanted to know everything about it. And just like that, she decided she needed to watch the movie and if it cannot come on the computer or the TV, then she'd go to the theater.

And being the submissive pampering understanding parents that we are, we decided to go for it! So, ladies and gentlemen, it was Finding Dory in 3D with popcorn on the side and boy, did she enjoy it - she was already familiar with the characters and could relate to the story very well. So a great expereience and no, at this stage we don't want to really make this routine though she already told us, "It was a great idea bringing me ot the theater, we should do this more often!" Bleh!

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Our little MMA champ participated in the Kick-a-Thon organized by her martial arts academy. I mentioned hear how she and I both are thrilled with our decision!

She won in the 3 year old category with a record of 418 kicks in 30 mins! Poor baby was so exhausted _ she did not come down from my lap for quite some time after that - but have to give it to her to do the kicks properly even when when we were encouraging her to take it easy - she did not compromise on the quality of the kicks, so kudos to that too!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

A fruity spring/summer!

We have found great joy in fruit picking this season - strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tayberries!

It was fun to have the mild sun on us as we picked the juiciest of them all, tasting them straight from the plant every now and then. This is a definite must do on our list every year!