Monday, December 30, 2013

13 Lesser Known Facts for 13 Months of Motherhood

So, I decide to end the year on a very factual note :D. The mommy me has completed 13 months and here are some facts that unfolded along the way - most of which I had never ever gotten to know before M came to us. If you are a parent, you'll end up nodding for most of these with a brave grin; if you are a parent-to-be, you'll learn these the hard way; and if you are nowhere on the horizon, this might just as well be Ripley's Believe It or Not for you :P.

1. Every baby goes through phases that come and go but during no phase will you get a full night of quality sleep, or a day during which you don't ask yourself - atleast once - what have I gotten myself into?

2. The top 5 things on mommy's mind at any given time of the day or night are: The last time the baby fed and how much, the next time he/she needs to eat. | The times at which the baby pooped in the last 5 days and other associated grotesque details, you don't want explicitly mentioned here. | Baby's nap and sleep schedule | Baby's favorite nursery rhymes and songs | Shopping lists for the baby.

3. Your baby can mortally wound you. Ever been knocked on the nose by the baby's rock solid head; or been bitten during nursing; or been kicked in the gut at massage time?

4. If your baby takes 10 minutes to drink 5 ozs of milk, he/she will take forever to drink 6 ozs. Go figure out the formula for yourself.

5. Proud of your cheerful cherub who never ever throws a fit at the grocery store? Wait till you go there the next time with friends or family - the worst tantrum of your life awaits you. On the same lines, never ever tell your guests or hosts what your baby eats and doesn't. There's a 100% chance, he/she will do exactly the opposite.

6. Spent the better half of the night searching for baby food recipes and then preparing them painstakingly - well, watch your toddler refuse even the first spoon of it. Amazingly, he/she will lick it off the floor if it has fallen by mistake. Fallen food enhances taste. Yes.

7. You always carry your diaper bag with you - even for a short shopping trip. However, the one time you take a chance to go to the local post office without that monstrosity, there WILL be a diaper blowout.

8. Somebody will knock at the door, exactly when you place your baby in the bath tub. And your phone will ring (most probably a spam caller) at the precise moment you put your baby down for her nap.

9. Never mind that expensive step-and-play piano or those blocks that you paid a bomb for - nothing excites a child more than tupperware and ladles and cutlery from the kitchen.

10. Your baby gets up by the clock - sharp at 5 every single morning. Plan an early morning trip to cash in on her morning spirits and that very day, she'd choose to get up an hour or two later.

11. You no longer wear your favorite piece of jewelry (or any jewelry for that matter) because your toddler either puts it in his/her mouth or yanks it so hard that you'd have to rush to ER for a third degree tear. You also will not find a mom wearing a Dolce Gabbana dress with a Coach Bag and Jimmy Choo shoes. Not because all her savings got blown up in diaper expenses, but because, if everything has to anyways smell of drool and milk, and look like it's been brutally pulled in all directions, you'd rather be comfortable in your PJs and flip flops.

12. It doesn't matter what your cleanliness standards have been up until the point your toddler gets on the move. The house is never going to be "clean" again. No. Never.

13. Inspite of the countless miseries that descend on you, you surprisingly find only infinite love in your heart for that little devil who has turned your life upside down yet has the cheek to hug you and lick you with such warmth.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Furry love

I have been wanting to do this quick post for a while now. For the last couple of months, M has been showing great affection to her furry friends - her soft toys. 

I have named each one and most of the times she also recognizes/identifies them by that name. For example, 'please get me Bruno', is followed by her hunting down her brown doggie.

That is not all, you have to actually see her "play" with them. She nestles the "head" of the toy in the crook of her neck or sometimes her chest and pats it, just like we pat her when she is in our arms. It doesn't end there, after her cuddling session, she promptly hands over the toy to Vish and me, and while gesturing, eggs us to pat it in a similar fashion. She makes sure we do that by standing on our heads with her arms folded in front of her, and if we slack of, she instantly shouts at us.

Lately, I have been noticing her walking with a few of her favorite ones (though it looks like she loves all of them equally but Minnie, Polo, and Dolly do get more attention - I feel :D) just like we walk with her at nap times. The funniest was, when the other day, she was showing Dolly the mirror, exactly how we show her mirror image to her! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Onto regular milk now!

So, M has been weaned completely to regular cow's milk (whole fat, organic). She had been taking formula as supplement milk since month 9 (and before that primarily in her cereal), and finally she is off me and the formula. 

We weaned her over a little more than a month - one feed swapped every 7-10 days. 

How has she taken to it? Like she does to any other food offered. With a pronounced indifference - she doesn't even show, in the faintest of manner, that there has been a change. 

When I changed the first milk feed, I was all excited and expected her to show some reaction - but no - she had it with that same expression - "okay, this needs to be had otherwise this woman will be on my case the whole day." 
She does that for all other foods too - new recipes, new ingredients, new tastes - she doesn't show any excitement or refusal - there's that 'what the hell, let's get this over with' acceptance - which may actually be better than outright refusal but then the flip side is that I really don't know her "favorites"! However, I guess that is not a life threatening proposition, at this point at least :D.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Joy of Giving

(P.S. I have a couple of long due posts and this is one of them.) 

For about 2-3 months now, Manya has learnt to "give". So if you stretch out your hands towards her and say, "please" or simply just "give", she will most likely give whatever she has in her hand or what is available within her reach (unless she really doesn't like you or is in a very bad mood :). She might expect you to promptly return the possession if it is very prized for her, though ;).

She gives quite happily and readily, and that really warms my heart. And you want to know just how gracious she is? If she has nothing to give and has chewed food in her mouth, she'll just pull out the gooey mess from her mouth and hand it over to you. Yucky, yes! But, I swear it's sooo funny (and cute - yes, I am the biased mom :D). 

Then there are those irritating times, when even if you don't want anything, she wants to "give". So, she will continue shoving things in your hand, on your body, on your face, and waiting for a sing-song "thank you" every single time. Such crazy drives sometimes can last upto 30 minutes. Guess, my next task would be to teach her to STOP giving, until then let's enjoy this season of sharing.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Under the weather

So, our little champ had her first bout of viral infection coupled with a borderline bacterial ear infection. Nothing very serious but boy! It is one thing to deal with a cranky/ tired/ sleepy/ hungry/ restless/ teething/ upset/ clingy baby and it is another challenge all together dealing with a toddler on antibiotics! It is like having a zombie on steroids. Can't communicate but trying to. Frustrated as cannot understand what's happening. Feeling energetic in fits and starts and clumsily falling all over the place in halfhearted attempts to walk, climb, run and what not. Not wanting to eat and feeling crazy with all the medicines. Sleeping through the day and awake through the night. Gosh! I could go on.

Anyways, looks like, we are getting better. Knock wood.

Monday, December 2, 2013

We have a "walker"!

No, am not catching up on The Walking Dead series. Though I am not sure the walker reference is all that a miss :P.

M is walking independently a lot. She walks pretty much like a zombie - with legs apart and arms stretched out - for optimum balance, I suppose! She plonks down often but is up and about again ever so enthusiastically. 

I am sure if she'd walk a little more slowly, she'd be able to go for longer stretches but then her highness wants to just run the second she stands up. 
We all learn when we need to, right? So be it :).

Friday, November 22, 2013

On her own two feet!

Since the last couple of days, M no longer needs support to pull herself to a standing position. She can stand up on her own and continue to stand without support for long stretches of time!

Slow and steady progress at the walking front too. She gets up on her feet on her own, and takes about 6 to 8 independent steps with her legs apart and hands straight front, in order to balance, I suppose :). And then she plonks down on her knees and continues walking on the knees (as against crawling on all fours). I wonder how the knees are not yet bruised from all the wear and tear :).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DIY: Baby Blanket to Toddler Poncho

If you are a mommy of (especially) a toddler girl who fast outgrew her cuddly baby blankets - those that could once swaddle her don't even make a decent throw in her crib no - this post is for you. 
In a casual conversation with a mommy friend, I happened to mention about this and voila, she came up with such an awesome idea - convert the blanket to a poncho, she said!

Now, if you know me, I am a shirker of most house work. Needles, threads, stitching - all are really not my cup of tea. I am one of those lazy people, who stare at a trouser or shirt that needs a button, and wonder if it would be easier to just throw it away. (This is ofcourse in the lazy land - America - ouch, I am kidding, but no, seriously. Back home in India, I would just deposit anything and everything to a tailor to be put together for reasonable price.)
Okay, you get the picture. So, while the idea did enthuse me and sounded fairly simple even for my limited (read no) skills, I was a little iffy, till last night. I finally picked myself up and got down to doing it. At the worst, only an outgrown blanket was at stake.

But, I was pleasantly surprised. This one's a no-brainer! It is extremely easy - the end product very useful and cute! You know all those car rides when you can't get the baby with the tough jackets buckled up - and all you do is throw a blanket over only to have it keep sliding down - or when you'd wish the baby could hold her own blanket as you took her out on a chilly, windy afternoon in a stroller. Or for those irritable mall trips, when with all the pulling out and pushing off of sweaters - you'd wish the sleeves weren't there to make your life simple - well here's the easy peasy DIY poncho!

Step 1: Depending on your child's height, choose a blanket, which when folded into half diagonally, would reach barely below her knees. Mine measured 28in x 34in.

Step 2: Fold the blanket diagonally such that the front part is slightly shorter (about 2 inches), than the back part.

Step 3: Mark the center of the fold with a pen. It is around this that you will have to cut the circle for the neck.

Step 4: Keep the blanket folded, and around the marked point cut a half (when you open the fold, it will be a full circle). Remember to cut a very small half and then try it on your little one and then see if you need to expand it a little more.

Step 5: Hem in the blanket around the cut circumference (to ensure threads don't keep coming out). If you are the adventurous kinds, you can get creative with neck designs too. I just kept it simple! Gave it a ruffled look by folding in the reverse of the blanket.

And you are done! The poncho's good to wear. I already tried it on M and she loves it! (okay, to be honest, she doesn't really care, but I love it :P)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's all "thuhhtay" at 12 months!

An extract from M's dictionary -

Thuhhtay [adjective | aka known as dirty by lesser mortals]
 : anything that mommy does not allow to pop into my mouth <leaves, insects>
 : anything on the floor <fallen pens, key chains>
 : anything that mommy tries to scoop out from my mouth <buttons, carpet fiber.>
 : anything that mommy says "No" to <cell phone, chargers>
 : anything that can be pinched between my finger and thumb <dust, dirt particles, etc.>

For a while now, I have been trying to drill it into our little pumpkin on how what's "dirty" cannot be put into the mouth, in the hope that one day she will get it. Looks like she has got it all too well (and she doesn't mind if it is dirty, but that would be another story). For the last fortnight or so, she has been bringing to us everything that she possibly can and calling it 'thuhhtay'. It does get a little irritating sometimes, especially when she flings my phone away in such contempt, but then when out at the patio she doesn't put dried leaves or insects in her mouth but promptly hands them over to me, I feel good about the whole thing.

However, she has taken this dirt obsession up a notch. She called the Velcro strap of a toy in her Gymboree class dirty and promptly took it to the teacher, who tried explaining (in vain) that they wash everything thoroughly and it's not dirty! At her recent doctor's visit, she pulled out the roll of paper spread on the examination table, tore it into bits and handed it over to the doctor and me, calling it dirty. The cheek, I tell you.  Sigh. At 12 months, it's all thuhhtay!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The first year milestone!

Oh my! We are onto the year milestones now. I just did a little giddy he he he to myself :).

Okay okay, without getting too carried away, I shoot:
  • Our toothless tiger is having a tough time with those hard gums that refused to let the teeth out. The last week her irritability and crankiness quotient has been at an all time high.
  • Though crawling is the fastest and the preferred mode of mobility, M has been making some effort to walk too. She cruises with the help of furniture quite effortlessly. She stands on her own for about 10 or more seconds and takes two steps forward only to plonk down on the third.
  • We are beginning to switch to cow's milk - one feed a week. Fingers crossed on that one. So far we have had no trouble with the one feed swapped.
  • Her food intake is not great but atleast she doesn't fuss with what's served. Touch wood. It doesn't matter what you serve, she'll eat it if she in the mood for it.
  • Her separation and stranger anxiety comes in fits and starts. She is okay with guests at home or even with people at the stores, malls and her doc's office but when we are visiting someone and if there is a lot of crowd, M inevitably tears up, and becomes extremely clingy.
  • It has been proven adequately by now that she is going to be quite a talker. Her incoherent incessant chatter starts the minute she opens her eyes and ceases only when she finally goes to sleep in the night. I need to share some of her newly acquire vocabulary in another post.
  • Her favorite activities these days are getting books read by mommy and daddy, waving at a yellow school bus every morning, enjoying all the construction equipment on the road in front, admiring all the paintings and pictures up on the walls of our home!
And bracing ourselves for a very eventful second year. Let's rock on!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Birthday Celebrations

Manya turned one on November 6th! It being a week day, M's separation anxiety on the ascending path and not many parents with really young kids for M's company we know, we decided to keep the first birthday all about the birthday girl. And looks like we made a great decision. There were no crying fits, no anxious moments - just a lot fun and excitement.

On the night prior to the big day, we put M to sleep at her usual time and then both mommy and daddy sneaked to the living room area to spruce it up. I baked a Tres Leches cake - hoping that she'll like the milky sweetness. The picture and recipe on my other blog here. Vish blew about 30-40 balloons. Most of them were pink and black, along with the streamers, in keeping with M's main birthday dress! We put a huge bunch of colorful balloons on top of the dining table.

The next morning when M came down, the squeals of delight from her on seeing the decorations were such a source of joy for us. It's amazing how children instantly notice the difference. I am sure she had that inkling that this was a different day :). After Skype sessions with her thatha, daadi, nana, nani, mama, athai-athimber and her cousins, we cut the cake. We gave her a huge block to smash into and voila, how thrilled was our little devil. A whole piece to herself to do as she pleased! There was cake all over - she ate quite a bit too, giving me such a great sense of pride!

We ensured that we stuck to her food and nap schedule. Though we did manage to squeeze in atleast three dress changes and a lot of pictures in between! After her afternoon nap, we took her to the local zoo - a more of a petting center really. It turned out to be huge hit. There was an exclusive petting barn with sheep, lambs, goats and llamas - the animals are so used to visitors and kids that they readily approach you for food and even for posing! M spoke to quite a few of them. She loved the monkeys and the ducks at the pond. Even though she was too young for the pony ride, we let her watch it and clap hands as it trotted along. She didn't even spare a second glance to the more exotic species of snow leopards, foxes, and reptiles. The deer and the kangaroos were too far for her to really "enjoy" them. After spending a couple of hours there and letting her have her snack at the pond, we came back with great memories and pictures. 

Vish and I spent the late evening after her highness had gone off to sleep, reminiscing about the same day last year. I cannot say it enough, how fascinating it is to see how children change and grow up so much in 12 measly months! Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy First Birthday, Our Little Tiger!

Dearest Manya,

You turn 1 today. Just like that a whole year has flown by. You are no longer the tiny, little, helpless-yet-the-cutest bundle we got at the hospital. You are assertive, you are wild, you are loving, you are ferocious, you are a cute pup and a terrifying tiger at the same time. The yummy little cupcake that you are and then how you transform to a sizzling fire cracker. Mommy and daddy have a handful for many years to come - but you know what makes it all worthwhile - your warm cuddles, your drooly licks for kisses, and the bewitching smiles that reach your eyes.

I can't help being the typical mom who tears up at the thought of her child growing up so fast. Having a baby is having your heart walk outside your body. I never valued the truth of that statement till I had you. You are a heart-breaker :). With those invisible devil's horns flashing, when you go diving down from heights, and rush after stink bugs and lady birds only to put them in your mouth, and twist mommy's and daddy's noses and ears in all sorts of directions, and kick us in our guts till we are screaming in pain, you ensure that our hearts are in our mouths - all the time. This one year was packed with more action than we had been forewarned :D. 

We have had our rough patches too, haven't we? You have had days that were down there and then I made them worse by getting upset. Mommy's got to be more patient - she is learning - ever so slowly. If we compare our learning curves, you are up there, and I am ashamed to look at my progress. I hope we get to improving that in the coming years.

However, keeping those resolutions in mind, today is a day for lot of blessed celebration and just like you have painted every day this past year in your own special vibrant colors, we hope and pray that you always have the honor and privilege of seeing and experiencing all the colors this beautiful life has to offer you. In the midst of the piquant crimsons, blistering sapphires, sunshine yellows, verdant greens, pastel pinks, there will also be seemingly dark grays and blacks - I'd wish to filter each hue that touches you but I sadly understand that is not even a distant reality. It is not possible nor would you like it :).
So, it is upto you to choose how you use each one to paint your canvas - make it unique, fill it with joy, love, and peace, and always ensure it remains a source of pride and inspiration for you and everybody else around. But, never forget, no matter what the colors, you will always be the rainbow of our lives!

Love you to bits!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

I think I have mentioned this before, but I cannot emphasize enough how camera conscious or rather not conscious (take your pick) my daughter is. The minute the camera is out, she stops doing whatever she is, and flashes a big grin (nowadays with her mouth wide open too). She then loves checking herself out in the camera preview option and let's not even get to the point when the pictures are uploaded to the laptop - it's sheer joy to see oneself, apparently.

The other fascination that she has always had is with light and light sources - even as a baby, a switched on bulb was enough to catch her intention. Then much as she hates the sun in her eyes, she likes how the stray rays enter the room at various times of the day and the funnies part - she open her mouth so that the rays fall into her mouth. Remember dhoop from Koi Mil Gaya? Anyways, given her appetite, I guess "dhoop" might be her sustaining source!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The revenge of the angel!

I had just finished posting about how M uses books here, that her highness has come up with a new antic - and this is not an antic - it is an obsession. She has now decided she wants to have all the books read to her all the time. I am a borderline believer in karma - but this quick punishment for my apparently blasphemous post is scary, to be very frank.

To give you the complete picture, she gets up in the morning, and as I prepare her milk, she fetches a book for me to read. Milk is sipped only if I read at the same time. Ditto for breakfast, lunch and supper and all the time in between. Sometimes, we go over the same book atleast 10 times, before she fetches another one. What irritates me the most is that she only "pretends" to listen in rapt attention, all her focus is on when I turn to the last page so that she can go get another book!

This obsession has reached to the point that when Vish comes home from work, before he is able to remove his shoes, a book is flung at him to be read. She wakes up from her nap, and in that half slumber-half awake state, she crawls to the first book she can spot, and gives out that low-shrilled cry. 
Apart from the fact that I am tearing my hair out and losing my voice over this sudden "passion", I have realized that in the last one week, I must have read every book atleast 50 times. I swear I can rattle off those books word for word in my dreams!

Don't you dare say, "Awww, how cute." We found it very endearing for the first two days, slightly annoying the next day, very irritating the fourth day, completely frustrated on day five and now we are on the 7th day and have been reduced to a helpless state - we have resorted to hiding books under the couch and what not. Nothing distracts her. We are at our wits' end and are now planning on buying her a new, big, nice toy as a distraction. Wait a minute, is that what this is all about? We'll soon know.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The many uses of books...

M has a decent stock of board books all for herself and she puts them to very good use:
  • Books make great blocks. You pile them up and then throw them all to the ground. It's never ending fun because the possibilities of the ways in which they fall are endless.
  • Books are great teethers. You can chew on them endlessly.
  • Books are best as frisbees (flying discs). Toss them in the air and see them land on somebody's face or some other body part. If that somebody happens to scream, the fun is just doubled.
  • Books can be used as stools too. Apparently, it is comfortable to sit on one book while reading another.
  • This has to be the most ingenuous use ever. M massages her head with the smaller board books - she just rubs them on her head!!!
  • Finally, with all the great pictures and stories, the books can be read too along with mommy and daddy.
(When I see her doing all these antics, I remember the theater workshops in school. The first activity would usually be that an object would be placed in front of the group and you have to come up with novel ways to use it as a prop. And I am beginning to learn that nobody can be more imaginative than an 11 month old!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stairway to heaven...

...Is a great song by Led Zep. If you haven't, you must give it a listen.

BUT, on another note, the staircase in our apartment has become M's most favorite hangout zone. While she has been able to climb up the stairs for about 4 months, she has only very recently mastered the skill of coming down. She puts her legs down first and just slithers down - she is not only a pro at this but also super fast. She actually tries to race us up and down!

Her ascents and descents are interspersed with  loud cackles - it must give her a lot of joy to give mommy much needed exercise and not be lazy. The minute I try to sit with the laptop or with a plate to eat food from, she decides that the time is right to go up.

Another source of extreme happiness is throwing things down the stairs - she crawls with things in her hands - dad's pedometer, her own clothes, medicine droppers, her socks, toys - anything that she can get hold of, and throws them down the stairs - and then dives down after them. Ofcourse, this entire process is interluded with panic attacks from dad and screams from mom - which leads to only more giggles and frenzied activity from her highness. I am seriously beginning to question this whole innocence in  babies belief.

The latest antic is she is trying to hold the side rail and trying to stand up and step down. I must mention here that she cannot stand or walk without support - but she obviously thinks she can walk down the stairs with support. Is this ambition or stupidity? 

As you can tell, I am definitely going crazy. Now only if I could resist compensating all this energy expense by not eating so much - there's a faint probability I might find the proverbial silver lining in this mayhem.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The last of the monthly posts!

M is 11 months old and next month she turns 1. How much ever I repeat that to myself, it just doesn't sink in. So, while all posts about our little cub are extremely special to me, this one gets extra points because after this I would not be doing any monthly updates - yearly for sure - half yearly - I am not so sure. But I am sure there will be a lot to write about otherwise on a regular basis. 

Here's how we look at one month short of the first birthday:
  • Cruising with furniture support is in full swing. She can stand without support for not more than 3 seconds though. She tries to walk holding hands much more often now. But crawling continues to be the favorite means of mobility.
  • There is constant incoherent chatter - mostly imitating the sounds that she understands when we are talking. She tries to copy the tone and expression too.
  • She loves her flavored yogurt a lot. We are doing good with fruits and veggies too. Let's keep our fingers crossed on that. She is quite a pro at most finger foods now - roti bites, boiled rice, poha, paneer, shredded cheese, o-shaped cereal, fruit loops, bread, boiled potatoes etc. This also means that she is engaged for a longer period of time when we tend to eat out at restaurants. 
  • With so much of activity and not being a great eater, M is obviously in low percentiles for her weight. I don't see that improving in the near future atleast, and I often console myself that a happy and healthy child is more important than a plum and chubby babe. Hmmm. Also being a tall kid (she figures way high up in percentiles), she looks much leaner. I always pray at her weight checkup-appointments that God, please tip the scale further - exactly the opposite I'd pray for myself. The irony of age, huh?
Lot of birthday cheer parked for the next month. Amen.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beginning to assert independence...

Look who has started taking the right to freedom to heart already! Our almost-11-month-old is quite the cheeky brat. And here are some instances to prove my accusation :).

1. She insists on popping her teething tablets into her mouth on her own. It doesn't matter that they are so tiny, that she takes a while to get a hold of them and then plonk it in. Most of the times, I'd rather not have her dirty them and hence lose their effectiveness before they even enter her system. So, I do the honors - but lately that has become an ordeal. She promptly pulls the tablets out from her hand and then puts them back on her own. Now, if I hold her hands so that she doesn't reach for them - she just sticks her tongue out and spits the tablets. What am I supposed to do?

2. If she wants a toy from her toy box, she wants to fetch it herself. If I see her struggling, and out of sheer maternal love, I hand the toy to her which is obviously not within her reach - her ego is massively offended. She immediately throws the toy back into the box and begins struggling for it all over again - getting all frustrated in the attempt. Oh well, so be it, I say. 

3. If I try to get her to eat a spoon or more after she has indicated that she is done (by clamping her mouth so firmly shut), she holds my spoon with such a strong grasp, pulls it from my hand and flings it to the farthest corner of the room. Maybe, I should take the shut mouth indication as the final "done".

4. Madame also wants to hold her own straw cup - doesn't matter if it takes her a while to figure out where to suck from - and doesn't matter at all if the juice/water/milk is sprayed all over the carpet.

Watch out this space for more harassment that I face :).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dishwashing and Laundry

You heard that right: Dishwashing and Laundry are our little pumpkin's favorite activities these days - hands down!

The minute the dishwasher door is opened or the dryer unit unlocked, M leaves everything - eating, drinking, playing, fussing, crying - to run to the site of fun! 

Every night as I rinse the utensils in the sink and arrange them in the dishwasher, she promptly reaches out to take every single one out. With the result that there is water and cutlery all around the kitchen and what would take me a measly 15 minutes, takes a good 40-45 minutes. The mornings are no less peaceful. The minute I open the latch to unload the dishes, our rather generous helper sits ON the open door for better access and throws all the stuff down - one-by-one!

A similar story happens at the clothes dryer too. She flings the washed clothes out - I had a brain wave the other day and now I very judiciously a place laundry basket right in her trajectory. So, inevitably most (quite a few) clothes land up in the basket rather than on the floor. This game is less life threatening (to others) than throwing spoons and forks all over the floor - with the result I indulge her ever so often so that I can either cook or eat in peace for atleast 10-15 minutes. Oh one very funny thing I must mention is that before flinging the garments, she sniffs each one. Crazy girl!

Now, all that I hope is that this helping hand is offered when it is really required and when it will really be of some use (read pre-teen/teen age). But something already tells me that is asking for too much!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Play & Learn!

That's the name of M's classes. Yes, yes, first small step towards structured activity for M. 

Actually, Vish and I were wary of the fact that Manya gets to see only the both of us on a daily basis. Even when we do take her out, there's no real interaction with other people, barring the friendly few who stop to chat. (I have to join a mommy's club too - have been postponing that - some day for sure :)) 

A friend was quite happy with the Gymboree classes, and these also seemed to be quite popular in the few mommy forums that I am a part of. 
So, last weekend we went for a preview Level 2 (6 to 10 months) class. I was a little apprehensive taking M to the Level 3 (10 - 16 months) class for fear that my tiny little babe might get squashed or bullied by bigger/older children. 

Haa! Looks like we have a much tougher nut in the making. She was quite obviously advanced for the Level 2 class. The activities weren't challenging enough and she was all over the place. Not to mention the fact, that she was taking other kids' toys, blissfully ignorant of the fact that she was leaving howling babies behind. The funniest was that a crying 9 month old baby was being hushed by his mom, and her highness crawls right to that corner and claps at the baby. She obviously does not know when to clap (or so we hope :)).

We were asked to preview the Level 3 class as her teacher very politely put it, "Manya will have more fun with older children." Hmm. So, this weekend we did preview that class, and most of my fears around "my poor little baby being lost" were quite unfounded. The games and activities were a little tough for her - she couldn't do quite a few - which is good because she was trying her best to and we'll see some progress in the weeks to come. 

Also, the class is fairly balanced - there were two more children at M's level and then two more who were already walking with little or no support. There was one big guy who most definitely was also the oldest, who our darling daughter took an instant fancy for. She crawled all the way to the entrance to welcome him. The boy did return the appreciation with equal fervor, and it was more than just a couple of times that I had to swoop M from in front of his determined charging onward :)

Another observation: M might just be an extrovert like her mom - the ease with which she mingled with the babies and their parents, without really clinging onto me or Vish, was something that managed to surprised (an outgoing) me too! She also was at her babbling best and showed a lot of curiosity in exploring all the equipment available.

We have now enrolled M on Level 3 weekly classes and if nothing else, my regular quota of entertainment is assured!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

M at 10 months!

  • There's ma-ma, finally! Other sounds added to the usual are na-na, ka-ka, and a lot of complicated constructions that are just a lot of mumbo-jumbo to everybody!
  • She is walking with support but is slow at it, and prefers her lightening quick crawling any day, especially when she really needs to get somewhere - like out of the patio door, or into the refrigerator!
  • Her favorite foods are, believe it or not, all greens. She loves spinach, green beans, sweet peas, avocados, and broccoli. In fact, the only way she will eat lentils, potatoes, carrots etc. is if they are masked in greens. Looks like, for the time being, she is not very fussy with most foods and has a huge tolerance zone (like her mother - ahem), but one clear and big NO is sweet potatoes - she will not have it in any form.
  • Her new favorite place is the sun deck in our apartment - she loves crawling on the wooden planks - she could do it all day. The yucky part - she tries to dive down and lick them every once in a while - dirty, dirty girl!
  • To state that most diaper changes are a physical battle between mommy and M will be an understatement. Shittier the diaper, the more wriggly our babe!
  • We see the beginnings of some intelligent actions - like pressing the remote's buttons and then looking for a reaction at the TV. She even looks at the ceiling, whenever we flip switches. The funniest is that when she sees me with the blender, she knows there's going to be a loud sound, so she wraps herself on my legs and gives an anticipatory high-pitched shrill!
And, the countdown to the first birthday has long begun :)!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Daddy's girl already!

And how:
  • First thing in the morning, wake up mommy (by crawling all over her), get the diaper changed, and shout out at daddy - go crawl all over him till mommy forcibly drags me out for milk.
  • Stop drinking milk the minute daddy is spotted coming towards the dining and kitchen area.
  • Wriggle out of mommy's lap. No more milk is needed since the very god has descended into sight.  
  • Pull myself to standing position using dad's shorts as support and then firmly wrap myself around his legs while he fixes his coffee. Daddy gives up and asks mommy to finish making the coffee and lifts me in his lap followed by a cuddling and blabbering session at the couch.
  • Refuse to leave daddy even when there's hot coffee exchanging hands. Mommy yet again puts me down with a few toys. 
  • Toys vs. Daddy. There's no choice there. Abandon play area and start licking daddy's toes, till he is all jumpy and coffee has almost been spilled.
  • Daddy realizes he is getting late for work, so runs up the stairs. Without a warning, dash up the stairs behind him, making mommy run after me (and inevitably make her cereal all soggy - urggghhh
  • Crawl into the closet along with daddy, copy his moves, tug at clothes hanging from the hangars and accomplish throwing a few on the floor.
  • Race with daddy to the loo door - both have a 50-50 chance. If I reach first, daddy screams for mommy. If daddy reaches first, I scream for mommy.
  • Finally daddy manages to shut the washroom door without anybody getting mortally injured in the process (never mind mommy's cereal that's been reduced to a gooey mess by now).
  • Scream and bang at the loo door. Throw a mini fit too. Mommy ignores me and takes me down once again so that she can have what is left of her cereal.
  • Breakfast time. Sit in my high chair and keep smiling and laughing at daddy as mommy tries to position the spoon vis-a-vis my facial alignment. Breakfast over the minute dad's done eating.
  • Hang onto daddy's shoulder while he wears his shoes. Attach myself to his back with as much force as possible. Mommy has to literally tear me away.
  • Realize daddy has left. Throw myself on the ground, kick the floor, cry for about 2 minutes, and then reconcile to the reality that is mommy.
  • At the first sound of daddy clicking the lock open in the evening, rush to the gate. Demand to be picked and cuddled immediately. Lick his face and nose and whatever.
  • After another round of nonsensical chatter with daddy, eat dinner watching him play the guitar.
  • Daddy is the best when it comes to putting me to sleep - broad shoulders, lot of fuzzy warmth and lot of patience!
  • If daddy's feeding me, the bib is never pulled out. If mommy is feeding me, the bib is never allowed to stay for more than a second.
  • If daddy's changing my diaper, I just gaze at him still till the entire process is over. If mommy is changing my diaper, I try to sit and crawl away and wriggle all the time.
  • Mommy is too gentle for my taste, I'd go with daddy's roughhousing any day! 
(And mommy rests her case here.)

Friday, August 30, 2013

[Flashback] Pages from my Pregnancy Journal: The first movement

I was only about 3.5 months pregnant, when one day lazying on the couch, after quite a rejuvenating short vacation in LA, I felt a flutter. My first reaction was, "Oh wow! It's the baby." But then, I tried to reason it could be some other discomfort too. I felt a little uncertain and when no other movement happened for the next couple of days, I dismissed the thought. At our next prenatal appointment, the doc couldn't confirm either.

We went to watch Rock of Ages sometime in the 4th month, and in the middle of the movie, I felt what was most definitely a kick. It was certain. During the next hour, there were a lot of movements and much to the embarrassment of Vish, I was extremely squirmish and uncomfortable. It was a late night show, and I just wanted to go sleep. Early morning, the next day, the movements were quite frequent again. It had to be the baby. Finally, I made Vish touch my belly, and he felt the movement. His first reaction, "Holy S@#!, the baby's kicking! How awesome is that!" The excitement in his voice was so endearing. Come to think of it - it was his first physical proof of the baby (apart from the ultrasound). 

After that, till the day I delivered, Vish would many a times during the day, come and try to tickle my tummy, or do something to get a reaction from inside. It didn't matter if I yelled and told him he was causing discomfort to me. He's dismiss me, saying, "I need to talk to my daughter, can't help it if you are the carrier." 

Haa! Carrier indeed!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

[Flashback] Pages from my Pregnancy Journal: Finally, the baby bump shows!

I still remember going in for my 6th month prenatal appointment, and the nurse exclaiming, "Every time I look at you I wonder why she is here and then I see your file and I am reminded you are pregnant! You don't have a belly at all!"

Any other time, I would have loved the complement but at the fag end of my second trimester and nobody could really tell I was carrying - I was disappointed. Now that I look back, it all seems so stupid but at that time I hated the fact that I was fitting into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and those that I didn't were just a wee bit tight at the waist! Hell! I wanted to go maternity clothes' shopping. In retrospect, it must have been my hormones acting up but at every visit to my OB/Gyn, I used to ask, "So when will I start showing." She'd quite cheerfully laugh my query off and say, "When you are ready."

And, swear to god, I developed a bump over night. In the first few days of my 3rd trimester, I just had a small little paunch - like the kinds you get when you eat a lot and don't exercise for a couple of months. But, by the end of the 7th month - I had quite the belly. The baby was showing alright. 

I was delighted but my ecstasy was short lived. A growing bump also meant more discomfort in sleeping, moving around, trimming toe nails, going up and down the stairs, etc. It also made strangers in malls and grocery stores, and parks, walk upto me with a knowing (and very annoying) smile and asking, "When are you due?" "You are carrying low, it has to be a girl!" "Do you know what you are having?" "Are you looking forward to being a mommy?" 

The funniest experience was when I was picking up fruits at an aisle in the grocery store and a very shy looking American guy (in his late 20s, maybe), walked upto me and said, "Hello, How are you doing? I just wanted to say Congratulations." I was taken aback and didn't realize why he was wishing me. He ever so hesitantly pointed at my tummy and said, "For that. All the best." Oh god, I laughed so loudly, I think I scared him. I did manage a giggly "thank you", though. Poor guy, hastily retreated to one of the other aisles.

Oh, and I cannot end without narrating this other equally hilarious incident. I was walking to the gym (those rare days when I'd come to a sudden realization that I need to be active to be fit), a neighbor's kid (a 5-6 years old boy) came running towards me and impishly grinned a hi! I gave him a warm hello and complimented him on his cap (a cool thing with lots of lights and all) - I was sure being a typical child he probably wanted to just show off his accessory. But I was wrong. He directed his finger to my bump, and said. "I know what's in there! My mom has it too but her's is bigger." If I didn't have a couple of other pairs of eyes focusing on this conversation and hence embarrassing me, I would have rolled on the grass laughing. 

Clearly, showing your growing baby in your belly is not an easy task!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

[Flashback] Pages from my Pregnancy Journal: The first heart beat

A very sick and pukish morning, I pulled myself together with great difficulty for our 6th week ultrasound. The doctor has prescribed an early ultrasound because my HCG levels were unusually high (as per the blood test). My morning sickness was so acute that all feelings of anxiety were pushed to the periphery - I was just praying that I don't throw up during the ultrasound!

So, I lay down - the gooey stuff sprayed on my abdomen and the large screen in front of us switched on. In a minute or two, there was an unidentifiable mass of white on the black screen. "That's the baby!", the technician exclaimed. Both, Vish and I were like, "Oh, okay". We couldn't make out anything and so we didn't really jump with joy you know.

Then we heard beats - like a horse galloping. The tech asked us, "Do you know what that sound is?" We both, like eager children wanting to please the teacher, said "my/her heart beat." Haa! The tech laughed at us. She said, "That's the baby's heart - beating at 164 beats a minute".

Oh my god! We were shocked. The little bundle of cells already had a heart that beats. It was a miracle. 
You might be as scientific in your outlook as you want but that first heart beat throws you off the highway. You become a believer in the miracle - the miracle of life. 

For days, afterwards, I couldn't get over that heartbeat - and would often (in a very filmy style) place my hand over a much non-existent belly and think to myself - someone's living inside. :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Flashback] Pages from my Pregnancy Journal: Morning sickness

As M completes three-quarters of a year, I thought I'd do some flashback posts on the other nine months - and what better event to start with than the first on my pregnancy journal: morning sickness.

If you have never been pregnant and have watched a good number of bollywood and hollywood movies that somehow have someone pregnant, chances are that your expectations from morning sickness are very similar to those that I had. That classic scene: The woman feels slightly nauseous, pukes on her favorite chicken sandwich, eyeballs roll across the table, a pregnancy kit is bought, the pink line flashes, there are exaggerated expressions of joy or immense mortification (depending on the situation), and the tummy begins to blossom. Once in a while, in some rare true-to-life-swearing film might include extra shots of throwing up. But that's about it. And that was my naive understanding of the highly misconstrued term: 'morning sickness'.

And here's the truth.

First and foremost, whoever coined the term "Morning sickness" should be shot dead. It can happen anytime of the day - and all the time too. One fine day during my 5th week, I got up with a dizzy head and an intense sensation of nausea. That was just the beginning. After that for the rest 8 to 9 weeks, I was sick 24*7. There was absolutely no respite. When I went in for my second prenatal appointment at about the 3rd month mark, the doctor was shocked and so were we. I had lost 6 kgs! The slimmest I had been in decades - a mere 43 kgs - I swear to god, if it was not for the constant throwing up, I'd have done a chicken dance right on the middle of the road. I was size zero - all my clothes were oh so loose - But, all that elation was only momentary - the doctor said I needed to get back on track by eating just about anything - ice creams, desserts, anything to get the calories in. You'd think: wow! Just when you begin to wonder about a balanced pregnancy diet, here I was on a binge prescription.

The sad story: I could not bring myself to eat any of my favorite foods - no desserts, no Italian, no Thai, no spicy Indian street food, no Mexican - nothing would taste okay and nothing would smell okay. The faintest of smells like the rice boiling would trigger massive bouts of nausea - we stopped cooking at home - Vish had to give up on coffee. At one time, I thought I had become a lunatic because I could smell the running water from the tap and find it sickening. For a whole month, my diet included Gatorade, watermelon, sips of chocolate milk, an occasional yogurt parfait from McDonald's and some dhoklas from a nearby Indian shop. If about 20% would stay in, I'd consider that a lucky day.

Finally, when things refused to improve, the doctor put me on Zofran. It only helped to keep my food in - did little with the "sickness" sensation. Plus, it was so strong it would just knock me off for hours together or I'd get those really severe headaches. 

I had given up all my dreams of that Utopian pregnancy that involves good food and good shopping. We were struggling to keep everything sane and bracing ourselves for a full nine-month haul (yes, some women suffer from acute nausea all the way), when a week or two into the second trimester, I woke up one day to no nausea at all. It stopped as suddenly as it had started. And, I must admit after that everything was brighter, more cheerful, and more ballooned. I went on to not only regain those lost 6 kgs but gain another whooping 13 more - to be the fattest and hugest I have ever been. More about such "weighty" gains and losses in some other post :).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not okay!

Just posted this on FB, and thought it must be recorded here as well.

The madame has been talking, a lot. 

No mommy (no 'm' syllable at all, btw), no daddy (tho there's lot of dada) - apart from the undecipherable (constant) babbles of tata, papa, baba, Manya's first "meaningful" word "AAIKAY" - her version of okay! 

She picked it from me, I guess, all day I go on, "This is dangerous, don't touch it, okay?" blah blah, okay? And she says it so effortlessly, which is cute. But what is not is, that she says it ALL THE TIME.

I love you.

You are the naughtiest girl ever.

We need to eat lunch now.

Come, let's read you a story.

Mommy is fed up of you.

Manya, enough of okays, now this is far from being okay.

Good lord, Save me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Three-quarters of a year!

Oh my god, the pace at which we are toddling towards the first year mark is actually frightening. Today, Vish joked that we have known M for 18 months now - 9 months outside and 9 months in the womb :). That got me thinking that I should be doing some posts about the earlier nine months too! Let's see if I can come up with something in successive posts. 

Meanwhile our 9 month old monster has been upto a lot recently.
  • She is trying to take a few steps while holding onto the couch. She seems a little unsure, even scared to do the walk really. Still can stand only with support. It's her crawling that is becoming so difficult to cope with these days - she's so fast - in a blink of an eye she's gone!
  • She can babble for a good 5-10 minutes at stretch - she sometimes even answers back. Thankfully, we can't figure out what she's saying!
  • The first signs of tantrum-throwing are apparent. Every once in a while she throws herself on the floor and kicks her legs. Now where do all these babies learn and come from?
  • We are experimenting a lot with food - a whole variety of thick soups, combination foods like daliya khichdi, veggie upma etc.,  yogurts, finger foods like pasta, rice, chappathis, breads, cheeses, and even fruit shakes! The good part: M loves new flavors- she doesn't really "reject" any new taste - btw, I must mention she loves cinnamon! The downside: she doesn't eat too much at one go! She is on some kind of diet you know - doesn't much care for sweet stuff too :(.
  • We have made quite a bot of shopping and other outdoor trips, and touch wood, she seems a cheerful companion. Might I add, she loves changing rooms - all the mirrors and lights - I think (hope) we have a shopaholic in the making :).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My daughter ensured she got only mommy's milk!

At my very first prenatal appointment, my OB/GyN asked me: "Do you plan to breast feed?".

Even with a planned pregnancy, the strip turning pink is a huge surprise - with nervous excitement, my husband and I had gone in for the appointment. We were awkward, not knowing what to expect. Visions of parenthood had only included huggable cherubs and all things cute and pastel. The doctor's apparently routine question threw me off-guard. There was so much I had not even thought about. I very hesitantly replied, "If I am able to I will, as a first preference."
I spent the next nine months reading anything and everything related to breastfeeding. I attended prenatal classes where they taught the various holds and even bought books with graphics! The more I researched, the more I dreaded the idea of breastfeeding. While the benefits were undeniable - Latching problems, flow problems, stigma of public feeding - there seemed to be a thousand and more deterrents to what seemed initially the most natural maternal instinct. (Actually this makes me realize that there are so few positive stories floating around - we mostly hear about horrors - all of which maybe genuine. But, we need more feel-good stories so that new mommies know that positive experiences are just as real and common).

With unresolved conflicting emotions I went into labor. Immediately, after the big bang birth, the attending nurse asked me if I would breast-feed now. "Now? So soon? Am I ready?" With the most gentle smile ever, she placed my baby in my lap, helped me into a nursing position, and said, "The baby and you both are ready." With my heart booming thud thud, I brought Manya close to my chest and she did one of those miracles that only babies can do, she latched on and began sucking as if it was the most natural thing to do. All my worries and trepidation faded into oblivion, in seconds. I became a proud breast-feeding mommy. My daughter ensured that.

Our feisty little angel turns 9 months next week, and we are still going strong. Though M was a pro from the word go when it came to nursing, we haven't been without our share of struggle. My daughter took the meaning of on-demand feeding to a whole new level - she was a frequent nurser (still is) but in the initial months, she wanted to feed every 2 hours - day and night. To add to that she was a reflux baby, the nursing frequency went even higher on most days - then there was cluster feeding for weeks and months at stretch. 

And boy, did my daughter know what she wanted. She refused to take expressed milk from the bottle - never ever giving me the chance to give her formula for even a single feed. We were literally stuck to each other for the first 6 months - till we started off on solids. I fed her in the car in parking lots, in doctors' waiting rooms, and even in trial/changing rooms! My husband used to joke that I am our daughter's 24-hour milk bar with anytime, anywhere access. 

As if the "real" issues were not enough, there was no dearth of non-supporters, from quarters I had least expected. "Manya always looks hungry." "Do you think your milk is enough for her?" "She is so thin (hinting that maybe I should try supplementing)." "Is the reflux because of you feeding her?" "Why don't you force train her on the bottle - then you can get a break, and others can feed her." "What's the harm if a baby gets a tummy full of formula feed every once in a while?"

Thankfully, we have a doctor who is extremely supportive and advocated on-demand nursing all through. To be honest, there were times I'd fling my hands in the air in despair, order formula and bottles, and try feeding her - I'd cry in desperation when for hours together the only break I'd have would be a nature break and a glass of water. What pulled me through? My daughter. She'd not budge from my bosom when she was hungry and she refused any other form of milk - she made sure it was only mommy's milk she got - straight from the source. (Yes, this little girl had done her homework well :))

Whatever doubts and fears that would develop every now and then would melt away when I'd see my determined cherub sucking for dear life, only to take a break at regular intervals - to gaze at me -sometimes in wonder (wow, this woman always comes with the milkers), sometimes in delight (this is what I exactly needed right now), sometimes (though very rarely) in gratitude (only this can soothe me), sometimes (actually very often) in agitation (couldn't you have given this a few seconds earlier), sometimes breaking into a cheeky, gummy grin (guess what, I am not hungry, I just wanted some comfort and alone time with you), sometimes in frustration (this is not fast enough or too fast for me) - but mostly her gazes are peaceful - as she drifts into a calm slumber that only drunkenness from mommy's milk can cause!

The lesson I learnt: They are actually right when they say it's best to follow your baby cues - she knows best. I credit my breastfeeding ability to my daughter - she was forgiving with my clumsiness, she taught me, by example, patience (nursing a baby is no joke), skill, determination, how to enjoy nursing, and most importantly she taught me that absolute love is possible.

Friday, July 26, 2013

First haircut

As if it was not enough that mommy has become a manicurist/pedicurist, she is experimenting with hair styling too!

Yes, you heard that right. Manya had a first haircut and I did it for her, right at home, in her bath tub. Before you start hyperventilating, hear me out. It's nothing great. I just combed her shampooed hair straight down onto her forehead and chopped it off straight. Similarly the long strands at the back that have been irritating her for a while were also cut off. Ofcourse, it's a far from perfect job, but it serves the purpose, for the time being.

Her hair was all over her eyes and ears and I had had enough of pushing it back a million times during the day. M herself had started getting irritated - so Vish and I decided it was time she got a trim. We inquired at a few kid salons - but they don't take children less that 1 year of age. Even then, I read a lot of horror stories about even the most expensive hairdressers nipping off the ear every once in a while. So finally, after enough encouragement from Vish and my mom, I took advantage of an exceptionally happy bathing time, when M was busy playing with her water toys. It was simple and quick, and Vish actually said he quite likes it. So, there, I too was happy with the end results.

By the way, history does repeat itself. My mom did exactly the same for me. Infact, she was my hair stylist till I was almost 2. :)

[For those wondering about the hindu ritual - "mundan" (shaving of the head hair completely) - Vish and I have decided not to go for it for various reasons. 1. I come from a family where this ritual is not practiced for girls - and I personally find it quite scary (so even if the ritual was there, I wouldn't have gone for it). The whole idea of a blade all over that sweet little head gives me the shivers. Why to unnecessarily subject my baby to crying and stress? | 2. I don't agree with the religious explanation behind the ritual (previous birth memories, dirty hair from the womb etc. etc.) | 3. There is no scientific proof that hair grows "better" or "thicker" after shaving it off - I have confirmed this from quite a few hairdressers and doctors, even though some moms claim that hair grew more evenly after the shave - but that will anyways happen, I guess. M has decent hair, in any case.]

Monday, July 22, 2013

No screen time!

You'll hear most parents lament the fact that all the techniques and disciplining mantras they had always sworn by go kaput when the baby actually arrives. It is really really true. So many "rules" are bent and worked around to allow for individual spaces (that is a very polite way of saying to give into stubborn infants/kids). (But that would be a different blog post.)

However, Vish and I have, as parents, stuck to some basic principles that are more-or-less non-compromisable for Manya (and have remained such in the 8 months so far - phew!). Out of these, one is no screen time till  M turn 2 (years) - so we have 16 more months to go. We follow this quite strictly - no screen time means no TV, no computer/laptop/tablets, no phones - basically nothing with a "screen". We also minimize any "background exposure", which means if she is around there'll be no TV running in the background. Music is okay. There are two exceptions to this rule. (1) She is allowed Skype time with family and friends. (2) Once in a while, we do show her photographs.

Our reasons are very simple. Babies and infants do not have the ability to correlate motion picture with the sound (low cognitive retention, and all that dense scientific lingo too), and when they start doing so (as they grow), they "learn" to become passive observers rather than proactive participants. Even after two, I personally feel screen time should be kept to a bare minimum and should always be supervised (not only to supervise the content but also to engage the child in understanding and relating to the content). 

I come from a home where mom and dad were very strict about TV watching in the growing up years. Even in high school and senior school, we were allowed only half an hour to an hour of TV everyday - and a movie on the weekend. It was in college that finally this rule was "lifted" mainly because we got quite out of hand by then :D. I can't really compare on how I have turned out vis-a-vis those who watched TV at will - but I do know that when I look back at my childhood - it is filled with vivid memories of lively family conversations, lots of books, board games, picnics and playing and running about. Strangely, the tears I shed because I was not allowed Batman AND Small Wonder AND Star Trek on the same day, are all forgotten (and forgiven :D)

Growing up in today's times with technology having encroached in all private spaces of our being, I know "controlling" will be more difficult than in the 80's and 90's - but I will try - really hard. Screen time can be a lot of fun, play and learning and I will ensure it's used only for that - and not as a substitute for real life, real people, and real play.

Aah, but what really made me write this post was that because of this rule, guess who's suffering the most - yours truly. I have to steal in my screen time to coincide with her naps - and most of that time goes in FBing and blogging, leaving little room for TV or movies :(. Your own rules come at a price, huh? Just when I thought I was "THE" parent and "I" would "MAKE THE RULES" :P. Sigh!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Seeking cute babies

That was the subject line of an email I received. The body of the mail content began with 'Do you have a cute kid?'

If you haven't guessed as yet, it was a photo contest invite. The winners are promised modelling opportunities, city trips and stardom tours (whatever that implies) apart from other goodies, that in my mind, would be typically useless to a baby really.

So, what's the big fuss about, you ask. 
Well it is this. Ofcourse I have a cute kid and just in case you didn't know I also find her the cutest. And I say it unabashedly because I know every mother feels that way about her baby. My problem is how will you judge which kid is cuter than the other. Even before motherhood happened, I found all children equally adorable. I couldn't ever compare and sorry you big-baby products-corporate, I refuse to let you judge my baby.

Actually, most baby photo contests put me off completely, and what irritates me even more is when parents rush in to send pictures of their baby, making such contests a huge roaring success for the advertising companies. The final nail in the coffin - when you get that mail or FB message saying, "please vote for my baby". Since, a personal response befitting my true feelings would be downright rude, here's a general message for all parents and parents-to-be:

"Dear mommy/daddy, Your little munchkin is absolutely gorgeous. There are no ifs and buts to that statement. If I could, I'd "like" the picture a trillion times and more (because apparently unique likes are not what counts) so that your baby wins the contest, but you know what I am thinking? I am thinking why would you want to make your apple-pie "compete" for a victory that's already under his/her belt. You look at your babe and tell me if he/she is not the sweetest cherub ever? That modelling contract, that hollywood tour, and that personal website - all will happen when they have to. As of now, keep your camera busy and capture the fleeting childhood the best you can - they will be a constant source of joy now and forever for you and all your near and dear ones - why let advertisers make hay at your expense?"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Of newer feats

A quick update on M's latest:
  • She is getting quite chatty, I must say. No meaningful words yet, but that does not stop her highness from having a lengthy, animated conversation with you, especially if she is in the right mood.
  • Finally, madame's bringing her hands together to clap! The first time she did it I was so so amused - so no guesses what are favorite song these days is. Ofcourse, it is "If you are happy and you know it - CLAP your hands" :D.
  • Though we have installed child gates at the staircase, we had left the first set (of three) open for M to practice climbing within a safe range. She's really taken the challenge to heart. She climbs three stairs in less than 30 seconds. Isn't it amazing how kids figure out things themselves without anybody showing them the way? She's yet to learn how to climb down though.
  • Oh, and someone's discovered (err, rediscovered) gravity. One of her favorite activities is to throw things - her bib, food on her tray, toys, down from the couch or her high chair. And then, if you innocently pick it up and give it to her (thinking she dropped it accidentally), she will plunge it right back to the ground, give you a disapproving nod, and then look down to see where the item finally landed - after spotting it, she'll give you a victorious smile. The cheek, I tell you!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Two-thirds of a year...

...And I still don't know another way of saying that time is flying!

Well, let's see if I can recall everything that's happened in the month gone by:
  • M's on the prowl - she is a pro at crawling fast and when I say fast, I really mean FAST.
  • She is sitting pretty without support and is able to pull herself to a standing positing using little support. She tries to take a step or two but ends up tying her legs in a knot and then doesn't know what to do - so she plonks herself back! I keep telling her walking can really wait, you know!
  • It is official that we have a picky eater to deal with (I am so dreading her 9th month physical checkup - I am dead sure to see a percentile drop - damn!). She has no clear favorites, even though she does try anything new that I give her - but how much she eats of it is a matter solely of her own personal choice. Paah!
  • We hear ha-ha, pa-pa, ba-ba, ta-ta, da-da, aa-kaa, ha-ta, ta-da - no signs of the 'ma' syllable :)
  • Her favorite playing station is the kitchen floor and her favorite toys are wooden ladles and extra tupperware! Seriously, I could have saved a fortune not buying all those play-gyms and activity centers!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The beginning of anxiety...

For the last couple of days, we have seen a marked change in M's behavior - the earlier babe who would play for 20-30 minutes on her own has now become a wee bit clingy and needs mommy or daddy to be constantly around - in her immediate line of sight. She will either bawl or crawl upto wherever we are. It's kind of cute most times, but sometime ofcourse when things get to whiny, we are flustered. Separation anxiety is a social development milestone and I am not really complaining, but let's see how long this lasts.

Close on the heels of separation anxiety comes stranger anxiety - which has also become increasingly obvious in M's case. If she is approached by someone for the first time, her face shows signing of tearing up - she takes a while to warm up, which was again not the case till a couple of weeks back. The strange part of this is that she smiles at random strangers when on her walks or in stores, but when somebody directly approaches her or talks to her, then she gets all clingy and bothered.

Like they say, this too shall pass.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why your parents want you to have kids: And of my increasing faith in Karma and the Cycle of Life

(A standard telephonic conversation - could be any day...)
Mom: Hi Yuvika, what's happening?
Me: Hell's broken loose. (Followed by one or more of these rants:) M doesn't stay put at one place. Massages, diaper changes, everything has become an ordeal. Apart from that she is a fussy eater - she doesn't sleep too well also. I woke up so many times in the night. Oh, yesterday, she also threw her ball on my face. I think my face suffered first degree injuries...
Mom: Oh my god, stop accusing the poor baby. This is normal with children. You have no idea what all you used to do. You were worse. (Followed by one or more of these accusations:) You would pull out your soiled diaper. You used to keep acting hungry even after a full feed. You used to bang the bed so hard. You used to pull my hair.
Me: Hello, so you mean to say I had Manya so that she could avenge you?
Mom: Oho Yuvika, don't be silly. This is how it is when you have kids. You should bask in the joys of motherhood.
Me: Aah, I can smell sarcasm there. I know you are secretly delighted that finally I am getting to experience what you went through. Very bad mummy, you should not harbor feelings of revenge against your own children.
Mom: Ha ha ha (I am sure she had devils' horns flashing too). You are so funny. Okay, now I need to go pack. We are driving to Bhimtaal for a mini weekend getaway in a couple of hours - we plan to reach by evening and sip some wine as the sun goes down, behind the mountains. What are your weekend plans?
Me: Meh. Sleepless nights, soiled diapers, endless feeds, teething troubles, blah blah.
Mom: Chalo, please take care of her and don't trouble her too much. Everything will be alright and by the time you have a second one, you'll be a pro and all this will be normal routine! And you will get plenty of sleep once the children are off to college!
Me: What!!! I don't believe this!! Waah! (To myself: WTF! The cheek to mention a second child in the same breath as wine and sunsets!)

And so after atleast a trillion such exchanges, I am convinced that (barring the joy that becoming a grandparent brings - no responsibilities and lots of fun!) the big reason your parents want you to have children is because they want you to go through the miseries that they did (:P). If that was not the case, what explains the fact that no parent will ever go into details of all the compromises and the pains that parenthood brings when you don't have a kid. They'll urge you with subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints - there will be ample encouragement - visions of the infinite love, the eternal bond, the everlasting joy (which is all true) but, but hang on, they don't warn you against the infinite sleepless nights, the eternal worries, the everlasting running around. 

You know, in a perverse way, it is the cycle of life - that is continuous and, much to the pleasure of every parent, a very fair cycle. The naughty child becomes the parent to a naughtier child, while the original parent becomes the grand parent and cheers the grand child to finally close the circle. 

This brings me to my other new founded belief in karma. Unfortunately, what goes around does come around. No escaping that and no point in hoping that you can postpone the paying back to your next janam/birth. All income will be and is taxed in the same cycle. No carrying on of dues etc. So, every time you have an altercation with your parents and your mom or dad retorts saying, "you'll know when you have a child" - trust me, someone up there is recording all of that, which will be exacted with interest years later when you do have a child. Parents know that because they have been there and done that and this is something only experience can teach you. 

So, dear readers, consider this post a boon to you if you still are not married/don't have a child. You will soon realize this is the only place you get the whole story including the brutal truth :D.

(P.S.: Manya darling ignore this post for the time being, we'll see when you are on the other side :P)

Signing off with a deceptive picture - don't let the serene smiles fool you - I just gave you all the gyaan, right? ;)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

M finally decides to sit up!

After going through various phases of sitting - propped up with support, then propping herself up with support, then sitting in a toad like fashion on her thighs, finally our pumpkin can settle down on her bum all by herself. :)

More than us, she is fascinated by her own skill. The funniest is how the second she wakes up from sleep, she gets up and sits upright! Alright, alright, enough of showing off, we chuckle in amusement!

And, she's already using support to pull herself to a standing position every now and then - one development milestone at a time, hun!

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Father's Day!

I was all gung-ho for M's and Vish's first Father's Day. A mini surprise was planned for the man of the occasion :D.

"Baked" a no-bake Oreo cheesecake, which was a huge success. Link to the recipe and the pic in my blog post here
Then, we got daddy dearest a personalized mug with his favorite pic of his daughter and him, which said "World's Greatest Dad"!

And finally, M wore the following T:

(For those who don't know M's daddy is a great guitarist who loves a wide variety of music, especially, rock, metal, and the likes.)

I arranged everything - the cake, the mug, and Manya in the T shirt on the dining table just before Vish came down for his morning coffee. His expression was priceless - like he wasn't sure what hit him. Well-worth the effort that went in at unearthly hours so that the surprise remained a surprise till the end :).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

On the prowl

It never ceases to amaze me how babies make progress hour on hour. Till about a week back all that our little tiger could manage was moving around making swimming strokes. M went from that to scooting to full-fledged crawling in just about 24 hours. 
As expected, this has wrecked great havoc in our anyways-not-so-peaceful lives, for the past couple of days. She is so fast! A blink, and she has reached I-don't-know-where!

Btw, she still can't sit properly yet. She squats like a frog on her thighs but is not able to go all the way back on her bum unless she has some support. With the support of furniture, she sits up pretty well on her own. Her other favorite activity is to dive down to the ground from the couch - while Vish and I nervously hang on to her legs, PJs, or whatever we can get hold off to keep her from falling down. And once down, she wants to be on the couch again. Did I ever mention kids are crazy? 

Oh, and she also literally shocked us the other day by almost standing up clutching to the couch. Since it happened just that once, we are thinking it was only a fluke. (Yeah, we are still awed with the crawling bit as of now, and want to be cribbing about that a while before going on to the next 'dangerous' phase :D.)