smittenbyu: (relaxed)
Day 19: Money
Day 19: money
It's intriguing to see how one can go with no paper money for two weeks in this country. And I still could longer but old habits to carry some cash just in case doesn't die!

Day 20: Egg
Day 20: egg
D's stash from the egg hunt at her friend's place yesterday! Her friend had scoped out where all the eggs were hidden from their back door as she couldn't wait for D to come! So, she played a great team player and they "hunted" together!

D remembered how the caterpillar in the hungry caterpillar got a stomach ache after eating too much junk food (they were just reading this at school) and so had only two of the candy she had in her stash. She enjoyed carrying it everywhere with her. This was the first time in her life she could eat the candy from the stash. Even preschool she had some and that she gobbled up only two of them each day and finished it over the course of a week (they all got like 4 small boxes of candy)! Somehow Halloween stash were all nut-related and we stayed away! It just might be that Easter becomes her favorite holiday! ha!

We spent our Saturday at friends' home. The two girls (they were born just a month apart) spent nearly 6 hours together in the backyard. They cleared and piled together all the fallen branches and were so proud to be great at team work. It was all their initiative to do it and doing it together! We for those hours forgot we had kids! lol... That brought us to an end of a wonderful spring break! Back to school tomorrow!
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Sunday, April 28

This was the most exciting day for both MIL & myself! We were going to meet our friends!! MIL was going to meet her pen friend from France (she and her husband came up just to meet us). They "met" as pen friends when MIL was a senior in high school. My MIL is from Pondicherry (a former French colony and so French was/is widely spoken. So they were writing for MIL to practice French and Francoise to practice writing English). They stayed in touch a few years and lost touch almost 25 years ago! 2 or 3 years ago, Francoise through her daughter's Facebook account randomly looked up MIL to find her!!!! So, they have reconnected and when she found out we will be there, they planned to be there!

So, we took the Thames Clipper (a commuter boat) to Greenwich village.


So, why Greenwich? Well, I was going to meet my two very best friends from college who live in London there too!! They have three kids under 5 years of age and figured D could also use a day of just running in a park!! Oh it was such a happy day! I didn't care about actually seeing the Prime Meridien. I was so happy to see Thomas & Moon!
Read more... )
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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.... ;)
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September 4, 2009

We got up very early. We got up at 5am and were out at the Mather point by 5:30am. By 6am the crowds started filling in. But that didn't distract us from the magnificent view that was to unfold in front of us. Slowly but surely the canyon revealed itself leaving each one of us spellbound at its beauty.

We snapped a few pictures. But really no camera will do justice for the beauty and grandeur of the place. You find yourself thanking Teddy Roosevelt for his long-term vision in preserving this park.

south west us 040

very picture heavy )
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Been busy visiting friends whom PILs know here! The locals had to wait a whole month before we had a chance to meet up!! Evenings have been busy taking FIL on many shopping extravaganza. And if you think that we went to all the branded places think again. The most branded place we might have stepped foot in was IKEA. It seems a very common thing for Indians to do with their parents. IKEA is also a tourist spot! They surely enjoyed it and got some ideas for their own place back in Mumbai. We also went to Home Depot, Shoppers (big grocery store), the Korean grocery store, the Indian store, Wal-Mart, REI sporting shop, Target and of course, Staples. I believe we have covered all the amenities we might need for them to see! 

I have to say we have missed showing FIL a shopping mall in the US! But then the shopping malls in Mumbai look just the same.

He must be busy doing some final packing and we will be wishing him a farewell at the airport today. I realised I will miss him. FIL has had a lot of fun. He really interacted with everyone. Yes, I mean everyone he comes across anywhere we went who happens to stop for a moment or two in front of him. We learnt a lot about Americans' lives in the different places we went to, how the economy is affecting them, of immigrants' lives in DC and a reminder that it's okay to take a moment to say hello to the one sitting next to you. FIL is such a people person. He gets strangers to smile. We will miss that in our outings coming up. sigh.

And then our lives will return to some normal routine. Giving me time to sit down and retrace our steps across the US.
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Where did the week go?! Last week was busy week at work. Saw Peter Senge speak about the need for organizations to be more sustainable. Cleaned house. Welcomed home N's friend from college (J) and his wife (Prad) over on Wednesday afternoon right after work. And ever since we have been on vacation with the guests. Sort of. Late nights, late mornings, lots of drinks, lots of fun, lots of walking, kayaking, and sightseeing squeezed in in-between made for some jolly good time.

We even watched the Vice Presidential Debate on Thursday evening and laughed through it all. Although we were left feeling a bit petrified of what the future might hold. I made some finger-licking, lip-smacking vegetable malai kofta (without the malai/cream) yesterday that even the friend cleaned out (he can't take too much spice; still ate it up) the dish! For the first time we had guests who cleared out everything! I was happy! But it also means no left-overs to continue the enjoyment! hehehehe...

One thing, the body is not as keen about the late nights as it once was! hahahaha...

And tomorrow work begins again. And another week will soon be over!
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Sunday started a bit later. I made groundnut chutney and N made potato curry you have usually with masala dosa. He had on Friday bought dosa batter from the Indian store. As we got our pans ready he realised that he bought Idli batter by mistake. So, we just had the curry and chutney with idlis.

After a hearty breakfast, N drove us over to Georgetown in DC. We walked about a bit. Had a frozen yoghurt; walked down the canal; down the street and window shopped; went to the Old Stone House and then we walked down to Jack's Boathouse and went kayaking down the Potomac River!! We got them just for an hour but it was so much fun!! Hubby and I vow to go back again before the cold weather hits!

After a quick bath and some appetizers had at home with a mug of beer, we headed out to Adam's Morgan for dinner. First, we stopped at Madam's Organ bar for a drink before we headed to dinner at Meskerem restaurant to try Ethiopian food with Ethiopian wine! yum!

We then took a cab to somewhere else to dance the night away! We forgot that it was Sunday night and that the metro runs only till midnight (on weekend it runs till 3am)!! Our ride home was hard to get as all the cabs we were getting wouldn't go across the river, or would haggle and want to charge $30! But finally we did have a guy who just followed the meter. He was from Sudan and we had an amazing chat with him at 3am about politics!! We stayed up till nearly 5am yapping away! 

Monday, was a quieter day. Hubby and I never drank so much in our lives (okay, he didn't in his whole life, and for me it has been a long time!!)!! After a quick continental breakfast, the three of them headed out to see all the memorials in DC, before the SFcan had to catch a flight back at 2pm.

After his departure, the three of us went to the Jerusalem Restaurant around here somewhere. Oh the food was delicious!! yum. yum yum. That gave us enough time to make the second trip to the BWI airport to see the Albqu-an off (SFcan landed in National Reagon airport). That was our weekend! We came home, had dinner and pretty much crashed! We slept like logs!

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We remember a lot of laughs, lot of smiles, lot of stories, serious discussions all over good food (at home and outside) and drinks.  That summed up our Labour Day Weekend. N’s friends came to visit us over the long weekend. They all met in college back in Albuquerque, and now one of them is still there and the other recently moved to San Francisco. The SFcan came over Friday night and the laughs and talks began! I was feeling ever so drowsy from my last dosage of antibiotics but I fought to stay awake to enjoy the company. I lasted till midnight and hubby and SFcan till 1am!

Saturday morning we picked up the Albqu-an who landed in Baltimore-Washington International airport. N booked us on a tour of the Treasury Department that morning at 11:15am. We barely made it at 11:10am! The Treasury Department is right next to the White House. So, there was a long queue to go to the White House. Ours didn’t have a queue; but we had to wait anyway, till they let us through to get to the gate. Our instructions said to press the button on an intercom o f the treasury building’s gate. We had so much trouble finding the intercom!! And there it was. This small unidentifiable/unlabelled box with a button.

A serious but friendly guard came on over the intercom informing us that the tours were cancelled as the Secretary (Condy Rice) was in the building. But the funny thing was that he couldn’t find the person’s we were to meet name on the list! Meantime the two visiting jokers were cracking up in the background. I swore that the guard wouldn’t let us in because of their behavior! :P There was a video camera staring at us straight!

Later N got a doubt that he might have gotten the dates wrong! He might have booked us for next weekend!

So, with that we headed over to the National Monument, where under the shade we had lunch! Then it was off to the National Air and Space Museum.  Then we went to the Natural history museum to see the Hope diamond and a few other exhibits before we decided to walk over to the National Geographic Museum. They had an amazing exhibit, but we came just in time before they closed.

It was such a hot day!! It was supposed to be raining and so we decided to do a lot of indoor stuff. Turned out to be a good thing anyway. Saturday evening was spent at home. I made yummy pav bhajji and N made some scrumptious margaritas.  We talked, we laughed, we joked, we discussed through the night. A good part of the evening was spent discussing cell phones!! ;)

Part II - to be continued!
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N's good friend Vi visited us from the Southwest for the long weekend! We enjoyed a wonderful time together.

Before his arrival on Thursday afternoon, hubby and I woke up at the crack of dawn and I was dropped off at the US Mint. I was to get tour tickets for the afternoon/early evening so the three of us could go to some place we haven't been to. And why so early? Well, it's summer and the nation's birthday/independence day! So, of course, the nation has temporarily moved to its capital and want to see everything they possibly can. After all, their hard earned money that goes towards taxes partly makes it to the funding of many of the activities and events here. So, one must make full use of all that. Which in turn means that one must fight the crowd to get the free tickets to see the places you want to see within a time frame. So, one must line up hours before the opening time for it!

The line for the US Mint went all around the block!! By the time it was my turn, it was 45 minutes, and the earliest tickets I could get was 5.30pm!!! (which was good anyway cause we wanted 6:15pm). One of the staff that were there to answer any questions shared that within a day they around 1800 people visit the US Mint! And the US Mint is not one of the top visited places in the capital!! As I walked towards the metro, I saw the line to the National Monument was nearly half a mile long, if not longer!!

Anyhow, we ended up not being able to make it to the tour because Delta canceled the second leg of Vi's flight and he had to catch the next one. We actually got there at 6:15pm but that was too late (there's a tour every fifteen minutes). sigh.

We then went to the park by the Potomac river which is adjacent to the Reagan airport and welcomed even more visitors into the nation! We had dinner at home. My butternut squash kofta was kick-ass! I am not boasting but just proud!

Friday started kind of early.... 8am! We went to the National Mall and watched the parade for nearly two hours! Wow the place was packed! We of course expected it but wow.... We enjoyed our packed lunch at the park there and had some ice cream under the hot sun. In the afternoon, we headed into the Natural History Museum, as Vi wanted to see the Hope Diamond. And so did a few hundred people! Then we entered the Mall park and enjoyed the folklife festival. We caught the tail end of it. Then the clouds came in and began to drizzle. We had planned to head home and just watch the fireworks later on from across the bridge.

We got pizza delivered and were considering if we wanted to really head out and fight the crowds again. I had lost interest. But the two wouldn't go without me. So we decided to skip it and instead decided to go catch a movie at Georgetown. We watched Wall-e! We in turn did catch the fireworks as we drove across the bridge! It was raining! :S People had parked their cars on the extreme right lanes of the bridge and were watching it! We stopped for a bit and carried on. The movie was really cute! I enjoyed it!e
Saturday was a beautiful day. We went to Vi's roommate/friend brother's home to drop a few items off before we went somewhere else for the day. When we arrived there we got a surprise! Vi's friend/roommate & Vi's brother both also came to DC as a surprise! So, we hung out with them for the whole day. We went boating at a lake in Fairfax County! We rowed ourselves around the beautiful lake! It was just amazing!!

The other highlight of the trip, was that I for the first time played on the Wii!! oh what fun it was! I got hooked and kept suggesting to my hubby that we should get one too! But then our TV is not all that great for it (I imagine). Ah well...i guess we will just drop by their place for the game! ;)

Dinner we had at Masala Wok. It was mine and hubby's first time there. I didn't like it much. At least my manchurian dish and hubby's szechuan sauce noodles was horrible. Vi was surprised as the one he went to in TX was so much better! oh well.. maybe it was just that one night thing.

We headed back to their place and continued playing! :)

This morning I woke up sore... no not from playing Wii but from the rowing I did like for barely 5 minutes!! We had so much fun! Took a bunch of pictures but it was on the visiting friend's camera. So, lets hope we can get some copies! What a fun day it turned out and the least planned day! Vi also gifted us both a beautiful piece from Swarowski!

Today was a relaxing day. We had brunch/lunch at Panera Bread and then headed to the airport to drop Vi off. Now the home is quiet. The other two friends who came for a surprise will be coming over for dinner tomorrow! More good and rich food! I need to reacquaint myself to the gym and the trail much more! sigh... but I am not complaining! ;)
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What a week it has been. It flew and yet I can remember each hour that passed through. My uncle & aunt, aunt's brother & sis-in-law and their son (three whom we met for the first time) stayed with us for three nights and left early, really early this morning. We walked and we walked miles in the two days we were out. It was really great and at times frustrating and at times amusing, and at times all mixed in one to see my uncle and aunt (who are in their early 60s) who have never been abroad before this trip interact with the many cultural and behavioral differences here. Uncle made a comment on how now he understands who I am better now than before; understands better the choices my parents had to make in my sis and my upbringing. There's a history behind us, that's for another day. But we really had a great time! It was sad to see them go. Really it was.

So, many times I also wished mom and dad were here. Wondered how it would be if they did come. I realist I wouldn't be able to walk miles with them as I did with the uncles and aunts, but we would have fun nonetheless in our own V family style.

And as the uncles and aunts and their son/nephew are reaching NYC, I am sitting in the living room that needs a thorough sweeping, the kitchen that needs cleaning (although the aunts really helped maintain it well), and mostly a quiet apartment. These are the moments I wish we were closer to family and friends. But hey, with today's break the schedule starts again. Tomorrow we will be out all day, Sunday N's friend is visiting us from New Mexico and the life carries on.

It's funny like that.


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