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I cried reading this article Words of Wisdom from a Single Mom. Brilliant words and advice!

“Own your choices. Don’t feel ashamed about what you’re doing, trust yourself that you’re a good parent, don’t let anybody else shame you, and, certainly, don’t shame yourself,” says Jarrett.

So so true!! For every thing! I am forever grateful that both N & I work in organisations that value the person's life and choices. Both my immediate boss and higher up are child-free. And they both are supportive of our lives, whether it's taking care of my kid/family or pursuing a sport (like my colleague does). Whatever makes us a better employee and at the end a better person. I wish such a workplace for so many others!
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Next time someone says, "Come work part time!" run the other way! Unless of course, you are open to working more hours. And then you will scramble to find a babysitter (or some form of childcare which you will hope will be safe for your child and give 30-40% of your paycheck to, not counting the contribution to Uncle Sam) and then you will flip and flop over "omg! I didn't want to do this till she starts kindergarten/college! I will miss my child! I am abandoning her! oh no!" to "oh but I love to have that job too!"

But this notion of working part time is neither here nor there...  Which leads to the question for April 9: from sight - What is your favorite thing about being a parent? Worst?

  1. It allows you to be a kid again. You are completely excused for hopping about all silly when the kid is around you. You can sing silly songs. Hey you asked! You can use your child as excuse for not caring about how you dress and being low maintenance earns you praises. Someone, I forget who, had shared with me, being a parent you relive your childhood! Which is often a wonderful thing. It also can be scary as you relive your not so wonderful moments from childhood and you are forced to face your fears and overcome them - as you don't want your kid (who thinks you are a superhero) to see that you can be afraid too!

  2. If human behavior ever interested you, watching and being with kids gives you the most intimate details about our psychologies and it could scare you just as much as the utter mess the world is in makes complete sense.

  3. I get to (re)learn so much about how the world works. How much we take some things for granted. Little things like watching the child discovering gravity, sure it killed my back to pick whatever dropped a hundred times but to see that wonder in the little one being reassured that whatever you let go will come back down. Little things that reading from left to right is learnt. You discover how many rules we have surrounded ourselves in. Being a parent you get to break a few of them, because you are with a child!

  4. But mostly to see human perseverance in your child, falling, picking up oneself, trying again and again. Not taking no as an acceptable answer. Keeps me motivated and inspires me to be better person not just for my kid but also for myself!

  5. I really get to know hubby and his idiosyncracies and how we both work/don't work. Having a kid can strengthen and also weaken a marriage. Yeeks... we have our issues but we have our fun too!

And the worst part?

  • Scared shitless about how much responsibility falls on my shoulders. That I might somehow screw it all up and mess her up! That OMG she depends completely on us!

  • That these past 5 years were the fun years and the biggest obstacles are yet to come as she slowly grows up and realises that we are not really superheroes! ;)

  • And I can't enjoy a hot cup of tea. It will always be the time she goes to poop! And that leads to another fact that I have never (hopefully never again) followed/watched/discussed another person's pooping habits/patterns like I did my daughter's!!!!

  • and the struggle to balance my own self-identity with all the roles I have to play (although I think this is true even for those without kids; it's just another big thing as someone else relies completely on you!)

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I don't know if I ever noted this down. Several months ago, our neighbor down the corridor had knocked on our door. He is a very friendly neighbour and had shared with us his story of visiting India (a Church missionary tour) and was looking forward to going back again.

He had knocked the door one evening to share that a friend of his who had hosted him during his trip to India is visiting him for a few days and would like us to meet (because we are also Indians). We were happy to oblige. I guess I was caught off-guard and invited him over but never mentioned anything about food...sorry, haven't lost all my Asian-ness.

So, I prepared some light meal (anyway, we had to have dinner!! :P).

It turned out to be a wonderful evening. D enjoyed Dave's company and the friend he brought along. It turns out he grew up under the bridge where my in-laws live in Mumbai. We of course, took that it was some house by the bridge, but no. He's an orphan to escaped Kochi orphanage and got on a train that happened to be heading to Mumbai! One of the million street children! He eventually returned to the orphanage and took some classes, and began to teach, and moved up in life. An inspiring story.

He picked the worse off place in India, with his wife has opened a school with shelter (hostel) and has now about 6-7 kids staying in the shelter.

During their visit, and coincidently during this conversation, it was D's bedtime. She declared she would go put herself to bed. We were going through one of those stages where she would lay in bed for half hour singing and playing away in bed. She would ask us to close the door and turn off the light.

He continued to share that any child taken in under 2 years of age, shares their home. And their bed. They don't do what is done here, own bed, own room, "independence". Dave asked why. N & I stayed quiet. Simply put, they as parents know their child is safe, but the child has no idea. No fancy gadgets, games, monitors, can fill the space of a parent (mother or father or any caring adult) to make the child feel safe. He remembers the scary nights all alone in a room at night where the orphanage was understaffed and no one would come to calm their fears at night. It was a safe place, but for them the monsters made it bad. Their imaginations ran wild. Sure as an adult those nights don't affect him but he feels no child should need to go through that at least not at home. The world is a scary place, as he has seen first hand.

I remember him every time I hear anyone so freely and casually dish out the advice of let the child cry-it-out. The ones that drive me up the wall are pediatricians. There's no research to back this up. And fine if you do recommend the advice, give a handout of how to properly do it. Or if you decide to give parenting advice, give the different methods for parents to choose from. But no, people just throw it around as if it's teaching your kid riding a bicycle and it's the only "responsible" way!

Someone the other day in my friend's group said those who don't do it are just spoiling the child and being lazy. wow... they really think feeling sleep deprived for 28 months is fun and taking the easy way out?! But the funny thing, even the parents who used CIO still complain about their kids getting up at night. So, exactly how is it working??

Anyhow, this has turned into a rant...it was not meant to be. I hope there are more inspiring stories as the man's. He has two children of his own and he has adopted one more. And I wish his school does well. It's only 2 years old and slowly growing.
smittenbyu: (Sketch)
I am sure D is one day going to look at us feeling betrayed about what a pajama party is all about! She will likely to be the first one at the party to fall off to sleep! As now that's our bedtime routine!! It's been almost 2 weeks now and so think I can announce it on the internet. ah humbug...if it helps someone else, that's a good enough sacrifice!

It was one of our nights, when D waged her usual war against sleep. She wanted to read the tenth book a 3rd time around. She couldn't understand why Goldilocks would go into a stranger's home It was rude. Maybe she thinks rereading would change the story. A week before pajama party came about, it was solving puzzles. She figured out four that she has and she can spend hours trying out different combinations to complete them. And around bedtime she would do anything, really, anything to stay awake for a few more minutes, a few more hours will be favourable too!

So, one night, I was tired of the war. We were brushing teeth and she was screaming (which actually makes it easier to brush but no fun to have a screaming child)! I calmly with all the excitement I could muster mentioned that there was going to be a pajama party (she has been going to a lot of May birthday parties)! Screaming immediately stopped and she listened intently. She wanted to go. So, I said, to get in, you have to brush your teeth, go to potty, wear your pajamas. At the party we will sing a song, do a dance and read one book and go to sleep!

Whoa! It 2 minutes she was ready for it and another 2 minutes she had both of us changed and we were ready for the party!! Song of choice to dance to? The only song she has been hearing at any form of party - happy birthday!! So, she sings while she tells us how to dance and we read a book and she falls off to sleep. In less than 20 minutes, the last two weeks, our time after dinner has been blissful!!

We are still in shock! I tried moving bedtime earlier and it took maybe 5 more minutes but it worked!! It's been great! Loving it! Hoping this lasts for at least a month (if not a few years)!
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
D waits for her turn!! She even gives the person in front space to move about. At the park if she happens to get too close to the person in front and sees they are trying to get on the slide, or the tunnel, she will say in Telugu, "Girl's turn. in the way, D move aside." It's wonderful! She picked it up so easily. The only problem is with kids who cut in front of her because there's room! She looks so puzzled but lets it be. I guess it's good practice for her future India trips. 

At the same time, once she determines the girl/boy in front is going to have her/his turn, they better not change their mind! If they do, she gets very upset and screams, "boy/girl turn!"

D shares. Anytime I tell her someone is coming home she runs to her toys and says happily,  "D share!" And she does. I hope it continues and is not just a temporary gig!

It's funny though I get so many comments, "oh how did she learn that? She doesn't go to daycare!" As if it's a skill only picked up if you do? 
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Gone are the days of reading. When I actually look at it, there's time to read. So many around me are reading such interesting books/topics. My list of to-read is only growing. When the time to read does show up, my mind is numb and I just want to vegetate. D barely lets me read the paper until she finds herself in my lap, flipping newspaper pages and then taking over. She lets her dad read though. Maybe it's all about where you sit at home. 

I have gotten books from the library. Either they have sat too long on the hold shelf in the library never picked up, or sit atop our shelf only to be returned, or I read a few pages before giving up. My attention span surely has gone to the dumps. 



The swim class was a great hit for D. Of course! I went over later and during the class she spotted me a few times out of the crowd and gave me the biggest and the happiest of smiles! 

My excitement for her happiness in a swimming pool is due to my dismal performance at the pool when I learnt. Every coach of mine had given up and my mom who never learnt taught me over several summers. Family was obviously surprised at how I ended up in Hawai'i for so many years! 

The big problem we ran into yesterday was by the end of class, D was shivering like crazy. By the time we dried her up and had her changed, her hands, feet and lips were blue!!!! It was scary. N was giving her food, while I had her wrapped in a jacket and rubbing her feet and hands at the same time. She didn't seem to care though. But it scared us. Other kids in class were running about normally. I wonder if we did something wrong. She came back to normal within ten minutes. I remember shivering too after getting out of the pool even in the hot summers of Hyderabad but the whole feet/hands being blue freaked me out!

And the cold weather plus no heat at home didn't help the rest of the night.
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Hubby has taken D to her first swim class...well, a splashing-about-water class! I hope it goes well. She ate well today but has not napped at all! She left reluctantly seeing I was not coming along. ugggh... and am so nervous. I don't know why. I think it's excitement really. I should be using this time to do some housework but I am all worked up. 

I think I will just bundle up and head to the class and watch....from a distance. If anything he will definitely need help on the way back! 

And it sucks that the weather has taken to such a bad turn.Couldn't it come tomorrow? Getting her to dress in layers on the way back will be such a challenge! yeeks...or not. She is always full of surprises! 

And she has become such a devil at taking baths. Skipped it completely this morning. She screamed yesterday morning. I ended up in the bathtub with her. Today I just didn't have the energy to put up a fight. So, I also wonder if it's a sudden fear of water?! 

Could I go hide in some cave till these terrible twos go away?! On the other hand, she has been demanding fruits and throwing a fit if I don't give her fruit fast enough!!!! lol.... not complaining there!
smittenbyu: (B&W)
D has finally overcome her over-cautiousness and has begun climbing chairs. Our dining table can no longer be used to keep stuff that we don't want her to touch. She has also now mastered climbing up the swiveling computer chair to get to the keyboard and hence I no longer can be by the PC mac when she is around. Does the novelty of this fade away? 

But it's so cute to see her atop the chair with a big smile on her face that beams as if she has conquered mt everest!

At the park, she rode all the slides today. The big spiral one to the small shallow ones. She went up and down for over an hour and refused to go home. Even there she found that coming down on her belly side feet first was the safest way to go! She did try sitting and coming forward only when another kid her size was doing it!! ah heck... I'd rather he be careful and have fun as I am too much of scaredy-cat! 

How do you get a toddler to leave places where they are having fun? I always have to walk away with a screaming crying-bloody-murder of a toddler. I have carried with me hidden treats - toys that she goes gaga over and stops everything for in other situations. But nope, she is determined to stay put! yikes... 

Today the high school baseball team practicing batting and pitching came to the rescue - cut the tantrum by half as we walked home!

Cricket!!

Apr. 1st, 2011 04:17 pm
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It's world cup season... not football/soccer but cricket! I have been following Cricket world cup in a completely novel way: following friends' facebook updates!! And then I followed the last match live on the internet - India vs. Pakistan game. I really would have liked to have watched the India-Australia match. I always liked the two playing.  I didn't watch it from the begining as it started at 4am (India-Pak match). What a game it was!

And D turned out to be a big Pakistan fan. As they seemed to be slipping and hope for Pakistan was slipping Divya became ever so cranky and fussy, I had to take her out of the apartment for a while. As soon as she saw our resident manager (who's from Pakistan), she was a happy camper! We came back to watch the last quarter of the match when it was still possible for either side to win! She cried when the match ended!

Good thing she's born an American and is on American soil and not in India... ;) 

I never was a big cricket fan. Growing up the boys in our neighbourhood wouldn't allow us girls to play the game. And once we left India we discovered other sports at school and I was never really sporty anyway. Tennis became something I followed. I guess mostly because that was what dad was following. It's amazing how much of an influence dad has been in my life and determining my tastes and choices! It's not surprising, but a lot of things these days I realise that dad would have done it this way.

And when I moved back with them to Malaysia, I began watching cricket with dad and became a quick fan! I miss the days of watching the match with him. Purposely acting ignorant to get him to talk about the game or give his opinion on it. Otherwise we would quietly watch it. But it was a good time. I miss that.

It only reminds me of how important it is for N & I to spend time with her and model good behaviour.

And tomorrow are the finals!! yay! If anyone is interested here's a great article written by an American discovering the craze about cricket in India. And you know you have come a long way when Americans casually ask if we watched the match and not go, "Cricket? The insect?!"
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December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.


40w
 

N took this photo on May 23rd in the lawn by our apartment building. The day was D's estimated due date. I was happy that day. I was happy with what life threw my way. Swollen feet, hard to sit/stand/walk/lay down, but I was happy being pregnant. I was in no rush to get the baby out. All in its due course. So many people would ask me if I was done with it, etc. But really why? I enjoyed the calm and peace till the last moment. And baby surely let me arrived the next day!

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?



Every now and then, D throws a huge fit. Nothing is obviously wrong but there is something that is bothering her. After twenty minutes of comforting, feeding, changing, when she finally dozes off for a nap the world seems to be alright. It feels like everything's going to be fine. I can manage this. I can do it.
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December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

Everyone says I will make a great mom, I hear it often. However, how do they know is what I wonder. What makes them say that? Are they just saying it to be polite and encouraging? These thoughts often came as well because of self-doubt. Of how I will be, being responsible for another human being.

But what I learned about myself goes with the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I shouldn't say I surprised myself but I was happy that I could manage things on my own with the occasional flare ups and breakdowns. I do my research, ask about, find things out and keep on moving.

I hope this continues as not only does she want her physican needs fulfilled but the emotional ones also start to increase.
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December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

Go with the flow. There are many books out there, new moms & dads, concerned strangers who will give all sorts of advice starting sleep training (mostly letting them cry-out), babies ought to learn self-soothing, starting solids at 4 months, putting babies on schedule...the list is endless. All advice is given with good intention, to help. But the best advice that I got and took was dad's - go with the flow. He casually shared how babies will change everyday, affecting their schedules. Go with the flow.

And I have done just that. And it's given me some peace of mind. And for a change I listened to dad! :)
smittenbyu: (contemplation)
December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

2010 - Metamorphosis

A year ago I was pregnant, reading many books and other sources, listened to advice, saw other moms to get an idea of what to expect once a child arrives. Looking back now I realise how innocent I was, how ignorant I was to what was to come! One really is oblivious to the full meaning of what it is to have a child until the child makes the grand appearance. 2010 saw the metamorphosis of both N and I into the world of parenthood. D has changed our lives completely from something so carefree into something completely different (I haven't found the words to describe what "now" is). We now rethink every little action we take/make at home and outdoors.

2011 - Learning

Am sure just as D goes through many development stages, which would include feeding, walking, talking, etc., I will probably continue to learn so many new things about life, myself, and her.



Reverb 10 (#reverb10) is now an annual event, an inspired response to (and evolution of) #best09. It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us. We look forward to reading yours.

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The library being in such close proximity of home can be a boon and a disadvantage. Once you find the time and/or make the time to read, listen or watch, you have access to nearly unlimited world of books and other media. How can this be a disadvantage? You just might end up reading way too much into things. One such area is parenting, especially if it's your firstborn.

Previous generations, at least in India, and even for some today, living with extended families have the advantage of, well, extended family to provide care and/or advice (helpful or otherwise is another story) for you and new baby. Old wisdom and knowledge of how-to's are passed on from one generation to the next. The moral support that is so needed in this new journey is often the biggest comfort in the adventure that the new parents embark on.

As we have entered the world of nuclear families with even parents living somewhere around the world, we turn to the world of books for help. The books promise to provide the best solution on every topic under the sun you might encounter as new parents. So you think some relief. Then you walk into the parenting section of the library (or the bookstore) and you become completely frazzled. You always heard it - there's no manual for parenting. Apparently these authors never heard of that saying and want to prove otherwise. They have the best solution and all other authors are mistaken.

So, when I was pregnant at the amusement of my parents and my in-laws, I picked up a few books. I read a few. Well, I never actually finished any one of them. I personally felt that bringing up a baby is an art form and not a science. Can a baby really fall into one of the formulas provided by the authors? But then that's the thing. You convince yourself that if you read many different authors on many different theories, you will be ready to apply them for your situation. Afterall, this was the premise in college on which you learned all the different theories.

The baby came and you truly realise, nothing can prepare you. Your mind is so engulfed in the moment, you are so sleep deprived that memory fails you of what the different authors suggested. And half of the time you are cursing the author or calling him/her mad for their suggestions.

Now the big subject at home is "sleep". I have picked up several books on the subject. As, if I ask my parents or in-laws, they will say, share the bed. That's what they did and that's the norm. As it's not really feasible (we both already have a tug-of-war on our bed with two of us, lets not add to the mix a tiny little one), we turn to the books for suggestions.

The books have become paperweights really. Something dad said that was comforting and somehow a relief, "their schedules will keep changing; go with the flow!" It has become my mantra for every day and I have returned all the books to the library.

However, there were two books that really stood out that I do suggest every pregnant woman and dad-to-be should read.They are:

  1. Happiest Baby on the Block - It really helped understand why babies cry and somehow helped not to get all worked up about it. I am a big supporter of the "fourth trimester" and adjusting to every baby's needs differently. 
  2. The Wonder Weeks - This book doesn't give you a formula on what to do but just what to expect. This helped me cope with the many sleepless nights and understanding what she might be going through.

Both books were quick and easy reads!

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ma & daughter

It's been a very busy week! We have had so many visitors the last two weekends and during the week. It's been really fun! I have been enjoying other human/adults company. One weekend ago, a Saturday it was, we had Pav Bhaji night, where another friend and her 6 week old and hubby came along, another two friends joined us and we had a baby-talk free night! Of course, being that the babies at home needed so much attention we slipped into baby talk handful of times in 5 hours but did pretty good, methinks!  We should do it more often!

I find it rather amusing how everyone feels compelled to talk to me about baby stuff all the time. Really, I am also interested in other things. I have tried meeting with people who never had kids thinking that this would help change the subject, but even they somehow feel obligated to talk baby stuff.

I am tired of talking about my labour, the first few weeks - which now seem like a blur. I want to hear about other going on's in the world. Sometimes, of course, it's helpful, but I generally bring up the subject with parents who have kids who are still young (toddler age). I have found that parents with older kids have somewhat forgotten these first few months stage.

One of the most common subjects that comes up during our conversations, which is also baby related is my decision to stay home with baby and leave the working world for now. Some have been supportive of the idea, some have suggested otherwise. Some have shared how it wouldn't work for them, some have given tips on how to cope with the change, and some have tried to convince me to not do that. It's the latter that has begun to bother me, as it steps on my toes.

It also bothers me that women in this day and age have to make such a tough decision. I would think in a society that has "progressed" so much would have a better support system for women who also want to pursue a career. In India, my cousins (sisters) have the support system from their parents or in-laws who stay home with them; hiring a maid is affordable and slowly they are also getting maternity benefits at the workforce in addition.

Yes, it probably would be very beneficial for our financial status for me to work and it would be beneficial for me not have a gap in my resume as I have seen my former colleague have a huge dip in her salary when she left the workforce for 10 years to care for her children. However, it's a choice we make. And I am fortunate that it is a choice that I can make. There are so many for whom because of circumstances, do not have these choices to even consider. And there are many who want to continue for the same of personal satisfaction. Whatever it is, what we enjoy today that our previous generations sought for, is the freedom to choose. It is not that the women previously fought for the right to work and so every woman has the obligation to work. It is having the choice to decide for oneself what one would want in life without being judged is what came out from the women's movement - at least this is what I'd like to think and hope for.

Anyhow, for now I want to give my all to the little one, and have gladly left the workforce. I have to find means to keep my mind sharp but that's another challenge for me to overcome. But I am happy to have left the workforce. Maybe that will change later on, but I will not think, "darn! I shouldn't have done this!"

Of course, when my LO grows up and starts answering back.... ;)
smittenbyu: (B&W)
As I was treading along on the treadmill, I noticed a squirrel watching me. It sat itself in the funniest of positions - it was hugging the branch rather than standing/sitting on it and taking a look. Every now and then it would change its position. It was watching ever so intently - probably wondering why I wouldn't just walk outside.

Or it was starting at its own reflection. One vain little squirrel. I was thinking this is when one would flick open their camera phones and snap a photo, which reminded me my phone* does have a camera in it. But alas the lights from inside reflected back and I couldn't get a snap. Plus I was there for exercise not for a photography session!

And there I got thinking this is my interaction with the outside world today! sigh...

I was also thinking how dependent we are on automobiles in this country. I realised I can't just hop in and ride in a friend's car without going to our own, grabbing the carseat base, installing it in friend's car and then go. sigh.

And I swear the toy industry and batteries companies have some sort of mutual agreement; that every toy made should have some sort of option to play some music, sounds, etc. that requires a battery. Sometimes kids these days are overstimulated with all these. Toys are supposed to encourage creativity but if the toy comes with all the bells and whistles, what creativity is left for the child to try out? 

For a long time I loved lego sets for this reason. You just have blocks of different shapes and you could make whatever you mind imagines. Now, you get pre-packed ideas. Of course, there's still the option of getting just the blocks. But which would the kid pick if given the choice? sigh...

We haven't bought many toys for HungryLion - she is too young. But it's a scary world of toys!

* I had brought along the phone in case mom needed me back to take care of HungryLion

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