Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New New Shoes :)

Vansh's pretty excited about his new new shoes sent by nana nani from India these days. He shouts out 'nu nu' loud when he brings them and wants to wear them everywhere; and he doesn't mind the socks which he has to wear with those when earlier he had been wearing sandals for almost a month now because of the hot weather.

MOMS club Cooking class pictures

I finally caught hold of the MOMS club cooking class pics.

Vansh pitching in to do his bit.
Clockwise from left: Angela (with baby), Debbie Letexier, Marcy Myers, Debbie Watson and me.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A relaxing trip to the Arboretum

We spent a calming day at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum today. The weather was very pleasant at about 25 degrees with alternating phases of lovely sunshine and an invigorating breeze. With the spring in full bloom, it was so very soothing to see greenery all around. We proceeded on the three mile drive inside the car itself and stopped at various stops which appealed to us.


We stopped to see the weeping trees (named because of the way they stooped down as if weeping) and the geese next to them, whom Vansh enjoyed imitating when they moved their slender necks up and down while walking.

Next we stopped to see the rose garden, most of which still had little buds awaiting blossoming. The high point opposite the rose garden offered lovely views of the vast green landscape ahead.



Our next stop was at the hedges which looked stunning with the beautiful hues of orange, pink, purple flowers of Lilacs, Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

Finally before leaving, we spent some time by a fountain where Vansh enjoyed the most getting his hands and intending to get his whole self wet.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Vansh's strange behaviour at Mall of America

It was funny and strange at the same time to see Vansh's behaviour today at MOA, one of his favorite hangouts. Though we went there after a long time, nevertheless it was quite surprising to see Vansh crying on sitting at those very rides which he thoroughly enjoyed the last time. And especially more so because most of these are bus and truck rides, vehicles he is truly fascinated by these days. God only knows the cause of this strange demeanor.
The carousel was the only ride that he sort of enjoyed today!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yummy!!



Just a quick blog to show off my latest cullinary experiment (he he!) which was pretty successful. I tried a new dessert 'Creamy Layered Fruit Sensation'. My in-laws reached here yesterday and it was their anniversary on the 23rd. So I just thought of making a special dessert. It turned out quite yummy and everyone enjoyed it. I just substituted JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Pudding & Pie Filling with the regular Vanilla custard. And topped the final layer with crushed nuts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A usual day gone awry!!

Sometimes I wonder how just a usual routine day suddenly becomes so unusual by just one simple action. Monday, this week was one such day. I, Ashwini and Vansh went for our usual evening walk. Now, these days one of Vansh's favorite activities is to throw pebbles in the lakes closeby. He loves to hear the 'plop' sound and watch the ripples as they come and go. At times, we step down a bit so he can be close to the waters and he spends some time there doing that. A usual everyday activity. Now what made it freakish that day was that as soon as we stepped down, Vansh suddenly ran towards the water in a direction in which he normally doesn't and fell down because it was extremely muddy and mushy there. Ashwini ran after him and immediately picked him up and set him outside, but it was then that we realised that it was actually a swamp (दलदल) ; something we had only read about earlier. He literally went down almost 4-5 inches in a matter of seconds; his slipper was caught in there and he was not being able to pull it out. I told him to just let the slipper go and pull himself out which thankfully he was able to do. So we walked back home with Vansh all dirty, my t-shirt dirty from holding Vansh, Ashwini's jeans dirty and no (fairly new) slippers on his feet. We made quite a sight. After giving Vansh a nice warm bath, I immediately put in the clothes in the washer, to realise the next morning that Ashwini's wallet had gotten washed too with all its contents. Phew!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fun with 'Curious George' at Children's Museum


We went to Minnesota Children's Museum today where the 'Curious George' exhibit is on which happens to be Vansh's absolute favorite cartoon character. "Sparking children’s learning through play", being the mission of the museum, it offers excellent learning opportunities for kids of all ages by invoking their imagination through fun and interesting play activities. The permanent galleries include 'World Works', 'Earth World', 'Habitot', 'Our World' and 'Rooftop Art Park'. In addition there are special exhibits where in a particular character or a television series is the theme and a whole room consisting of several activities show cases that particular theme.






Vansh had a lot of fun going down the slide at the Curious George exhibit, he especially liked to go 'bump' at the end :); playing with water boats at the Water Works gallery; getting his hands wet and drying them again and again under the dryer; levering foam blocks up an inclined plane; switching off and on different colored lights; driving the bus at 'Our World' gallery and last but not the least grocery shopping and being the cashier in the local grocery store again at 'Our World'.


Vansh after having gotten over his initial fear of a hand dryer, went back and forth again and again getting his hands wet and then drying them :) He did get distracted though by the fun stuff to play with in Children's Museum.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Graduation Day!!

All good things come to an end. So did the good old ECFE. It was Graduation Day!! It was a lot of fun on Fridays; Vansh enjoyed going to 'cool' (school) and off late he had also started remembering his class mates' names 'Asia' for Gracia, 'Zacky' for Zackarie. They had a small Graduation Ceremony in class; kids were made to go on a small bridge and come down from the other side while everyone sang the 'Special' song for each of them and their teacher Karin Elliason handed them a certificate on having completed the program successfully.




This was the closest we got to taking a class photograph of 2 year olds :)

It was then treat time - cookies, cup cakes, strawberries. The parents class was special too where Charmayne Sletten, the parent educator divided us into two teams of 3 families each and made us write down on paper flower petals characteristics of one family in the other team. By the end each one of us had nice feel good comments about ourselves and our child to take home. (Click to enlarge) We finally headed to the play area outside, where the children played for some time and the parents bade each other good byes. Ashwini too spent the day working from home and was able to be with Vansh on his special day :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MOMS club cooking class

Today was an interesting day in a different kind of way. I held an Indian cooking class as part of the local MOMS club that I am a member of. It is a club for stay at home moms in about a 5 mile radius in Eden Prairie. We have about 2 activities per week organised by members of the club itself. In summers, its usually play dates at parks, fun hour at a member's house backyard, etc. In winters, its more of indoor activities. Story book crafts where we read a story and do a simple craft; recipe club where each of us makes something and shares the recipe are a regular feature. Its a fun way to socialise for the moms as well as the kids.
One of my friends and co-members Kelly Laurie had suggested to me some time back, after having liked a couple of different Indian dishes I had made at a couple of different occasions to hold a cooking class. She was really sweet to even offer her kitchen for the same. So I did that today; the turnout was great, a total of 14 moms; the 'aloo tikkis'(potato cutlets) and 'chai'(tea) which I made and held a demo for turned out great too. I myself had the tikkis after a long time. Some of the kids tried them too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Books on my night stand.

At times, I wonder how one's interests change with time. I have oscillated from periods of being an avid reader to a light one with intermittent phases of reading just filmi gossip or even meaningless entertainment on the internet at times. There was a phase right after my marriage where I stopped reading completely even though I had all the time in the world at hand and Ashwini had bought some good books for me knowing my interest before I came here. It just didn't interest me; probably I was much too occupied dealing with the huge changes in life. I started reading again at a time which most would consider very unlikely to begin again. When Vansh was born and the initial months when I felt I was feeding/putting him to sleep for at least 20 hours out of 24, gave me lots of time and after mastering some balancing skills, at least one free hand to be able to hold a book. So there I was holding a new baby in one hand and 'Da Vinci code' in the other (first book I read when I started again). I devoured one book after another and loved it. Most of them were bestsellers, current or previous; few of them were books on parenting ranging in issues like feeding, sleeping, routines depending on the phase Vansh was going through at that time. There were good times where I checked out from the library books like 'Games to play with your child'; and there were tough times where I checked out every possible book on sleeping issues (reading them, ironically, at a time which I could have otherwise spent catching up on some sleep). Time passed and the number of parenting books I was reading slowly started taking precedence over the other kind of books to the point where it is today where all you'll find at my nightstand are books on 'Disciplining a toddler'!! Huh!! Ashwini jokingly teases me that by now I should be writing parenting books myself. Some day, may be !!

As of now, let me just pen down some of the good books that I have read on several issues:

Feeding

Both the following books were recommended by Vansh's pediatrician.

  • Feed Me I'm Yours by Vicki Lansky - A cookbook for parents of tots and toddlers contains some of the most popular recipes for baby food, finger food, snacks and desserts. It includes information on sample servings for young children, when to introduce new solids and which to try first, vegetarian baby food options, handling and storing baby food, safe uses of microwaves, foods likely to cause allergies and how long to delay introduction of these foods. It also provides time-saving, trouble-saving, and money-saving tips.

Getting your child on a routine

By far, on of the best books I have read. I always swear by it, one because it taught me the importance of having a routine for the child and two because it gave very practical advice to get on one. One shortfall, in my personal opinion was, the method suggested for putting baby to sleep. I am not sure about how effective that is. Personally I am a die hard fan of the Ferber method of putting the child to sleep. After much research and practice and many many sleepless nights, that's what finally worked with Vansh. Well, coming back to the book.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

Activities/ Play

Gymboree - The Parent's Guide to Play (Gymboree Play & Music) by Wendi S Masi and Roni Cohen Leiderman - This has a pretty good collection of ideas for play and games ranging from newborns to 3-4 years.

Child Psychology/ Discipline/ Mental Development

  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish - This is an excellent communication tool kit based on a series of workshops developed by the authors. The methods have been explained in an easy to understand and adopt step by step approach.The "Reminder" pages and cartoon illustrations also improve your ability as a parent to talk and problem-solve with children.

  • NO: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It by David Walsh - I read this one after attending a very impressive talk by the author on 'Boy Brains and Girl Brains' and the book is very good as well. Walsh advocates on why we need to say 'No' to our children and ways we can do it. The book has been divided into different sections catering to different age ranges starting from very young to adolescents. Walsh's approach fosters such qualities as perseverance, patience and commitment, emphasizing a balanced parenting style that is neither predominantly negative nor permissive. In age-by-age chapters, he chronicles the developmentally appropriate use of the word, revealing how it helps children grow into self-disciplined, well-adjusted adults. It is peppered with anecdotes of other parents' struggles as well as examples from raising his own three kids.

  • Supernanny: How to Get the Best from Your Children by Jo Frost - For despairing moms and dads everywhere, "Supernanny" Jo Frost may has no-nonsense rules--not tips, not advice, but rules--for consistently managing one's offspring leave no room for arguments. She's in charge, and ready to instruct all wishy-washy parents how to lay down the law in their own home. She offers her "top ten rules" for setting boundaries, managing mealtimes, even surviving toilet training, and it's mostly rock-solid. (For parents who obsess over their toddler's every meal, she warns: "It doesn't take long for them to work out the obvious: you can't make them eat.") Frost may not have a degree in child development, but she has 15 years' experience taking care of tots, which puts her way ahead of most parents. She may be firm, but by setting definite boundaries, she sets the stage for parenting to be more of a "joy" and much less of a "slog."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Water Fun


We take a stroll every evening to Purgatory Creek, a beautiful recreation area facing a lake. Vansh and his bum chum Arnav have a great time running together, while I and Sarita have chit chats and enjoy the spectacular landscape we are blessed to be staying close to. Now the kids also enjoy splashing in the pool around the fountain which re-started last week. They manage to drench themselves completely in the time that we spend there and cool off the heat :)



Friday, May 11, 2007

The ups and downs of motherhood.

For every mom, there are days when the smallest of things frazzle you to shreds and there are days when even the biggest leave you unmoved. For me, yesterday was one of the former. It was a long day to begin with. We started out early at about 9:15 am to be for the 'Family Center Plus' program where a dentist was supposed to visit and inform us about general dental hygiene for children. After coming back from there, I and Vansh had an early lunch because I wanted to take him to the MOMS club 'Miller Park playdate' at 3:00. I wanted to take advantage of the lovely weather outside and the fact that I had the car today.
In the evening, before our walk with Ashwini, Vansh took out coins to play with which he likes to put one by one in the piggy bank. I started telling him to clean up about 10 minutes prior to leaving, reminding him after about 2-3 minutes; warning him that we won't go if he doesn't clean up; tried giving him time while we were standing at the door, hoping that would hurry up things; left him alone in the house for a couple of minutes. Nothing worked. After what literally turned out to be a battle of sorts, he had a meltdown and I almost had another. What finally worked was that I told Ashwini to leave and came inside to tell Vansh that papa has left and that he'll have to clean up if he wants to join him or else just sit with mamma in the house. That somehow worked and although in tears but he put all the coins back in the box with little help. Oh how I wish each kid came with an instruction manual on whats going to work and whats not!! Anyways, moral of the story - we were late. But the weather was simply great outside. All 3 of us got a breather, Vansh forgot about his "heavy heart" after a while and I and Ashwini got a chance to discuss our objectives of parenting and strategies that might work. We ended up taking a longer walk than usual. We went till Purgatory Creek where they had started the fountain in the middle of the park just yesterday and which Vansh totally adores. I had literally restrict him physically from jumping into it. Nevertheless, he managed to wet half his t-shirt, his shorts and his head and face. But he had a lot of fun. I'll remember to take the camera there today so I can post some pictures here.
It was dinner time already by the time we returned and I had yet to cook the rice. Now I have noticed this is what really stresses me out - rushing things up so I can accomplish everything as per schedule. particularly getting Vansh to bed in time. And I am sure each and every mom of a toddler would agree with me, when you try to rush them, they make sure to take their own sweet time. So everything I asked Vansh to do, from taking off sandals to washing hands to sitting down for the meal to fianlly brushing his teeth, was greeted by a short and firm"नहीं!!" (NO). Both I and Ashwini struggled to keep our cool even as we let out deep breaths and voice raises.(He too has been having more than usually tiring week at work).
At the end of the long and tiring day, as I reflected on all that had happened, I promised myself a couple of things - one to stick to schedule no matter what (though I still wonder as to how to know what will work and hence save time in situations like the one that arose prior to the evening walk today, I guess everyday experience teaches you with every passing day) and second to be easy on myself - not to worry too much about cooking yummy delights (something I love doing but unfortunately and very naturally do not have the energy for at this point of time) and about the mess which is a by product of a little one at home.


Huhhhh ..well that was yesterday!! Now about the wonderful and uplifting today!! Being Friday, the fun ECFE day, I had planned on discussing with the parents group, my concern about how to keep my cool. Vansh, I understand, is being what any normal 2 year old is supposed to be. But how to maintain your own sanity in the midst of it all. But my day started with a wonderful smile with a poem especially for moms on 'Mother's day' which immediately tugged at my heart strings. Vansh left his hand print alongside. (Click on the picture to enlarge)

That was not all. Today was a day when I had tears in my eyes more than once. His teacher commented about the wonderful age that these kids are at now. She said once they start going to school, you start missing all the time that you are getting to spend with them now. Which is so true if you come to think of it. At the end of the class, Vansh had another surprise memento for me. A picture magnet which says:
Once again God showed me He's there and He cares; to take life as it comes; to take it easy; to enjoy the time I am spending and so fortunate to be investing in my son's formative years. For before I know, time will fly like always and he'll be grown up and gone; God knows where in the "hugely small" world. I am so thankful to God for all his blessings and more.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Funny!!??

Kids, in their enthusiasm to learn and please parents with what they have learnt can sure be so funny at times. For the last 10 days or so, Vansh asks about each and every thing he is given to eat or drink or even hold "hot है?". And mind you each and everything - a glass of water, milk, apple chunks, chapati, an orange, a juice box and even things like keys or toys or a spoon. Its like one of those phrases which becomes almost a reflex - hand him something and instinctively he'll ask you "hot है?". He even inquires about the water when I am in the shower!! Now its funny at first but gradually it does start getting on your nerves. So I, like an 'enthusiastic mom', went ahead and diligently started putting into practice my newly read about skills of expanding and adding to a child's vocabulary - "नहीं बेटा, hot नहीं है, warm है or cold है" depending on the temperature of the item in question. So after 4 days of drilling in the concepts with several items of varying temperatures, guess what our conversation is like now when I hand him say the phone:
Vansh : Hot है? (Is it hot?)
Me: नहीं बेटा (No, son!)
Vansh: Cold है?
Me: नहीं (No!)
Vansh: Warm है?
Huh!! I am not complaining!!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Putting words together!

Its indeed fascinating if you sit down to think about what goes on in the kids' minds when they are learning to talk. I realised this when Vansh said two words 'baboosh' and 'ओत्ती' several times and I just couldn't make out what he was saying. It was only after he pointed to his bottle of 'bubbles' that I understood what he meant. Earlier he had been pointing to the place where he had seen the bottle at some point of time but it was no longer there and so I couldn't understand what he meant. Similarly he pointed to the sky and finally to a bird when I understood what he was meaning to say is 'Bird उडती है. ' Phew!! And that was what set me thinking. How does he actually learn how to talk? He listens to me and others talking to him using a particular word and then tries to associate it with the thing we are using it for. Now this goes on for the thousands of words we use each day. Evidently thats not easy at all. I mean I remember the constant nagging at the back of my head to try to figure out what 'baboosh' and 'ओत्ती' stood for. Now imagine when a child is trying to figure out what 'apple' and 'banana' and 'खायेगा' 'जाएगा' and 'red' and 'गन्दी बात नहीं करते' and innumerable other words or phrases stand for. At the same time, as one of our friend says each adult that the child meets tries to enthusiastically teach him/her something, some more new words!! Add to that the nuances we expect our child to master 'boy सोता है' ; 'girl सोती है' ; 'Vansh सो रहा था' - oh my my!! Thinking all this has made me go a little more easy on him and pass it off with a smile when he still says 'Arnav सुसू आया' :)

The lovely Spring greens and the chirping of birds

Its been raining for the last 2-3 days and is expected to continue the same way most of this week. But the temperature is pretty comfortable at about 16 to 20 degrees celsius. (I still don't get it in fahrenheit even after being in the US for more than 3 years), so I don't really mind the rain. The entire surroundings are rapidly turning green as if being painted by the master's hand. Its so invigorating to look at the soothing hues while taking a walk; so cheering to be woken up by the chirping of birds every morning; so relieving to be able to step out in the patio without wearing a jacket and the view from the bedroom windows is stunning yet again. Just waiting for the flowers to bloom now to add more color and bounce to the springing beauty.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Self feeding..

..is one of the things I want Vansh to accomplish before #2 comes along. Though kids his age are capable and do a reasonably good job at it, I am the one responsible for not giving Vansh enough opportunity to do the same. Its so much more convenient to feed him myself, one because I know exactly how much he ate(or rather make sure that he ate every bit of what I put in his mouth) and two because its faster. But after having spoken to a couple of friends and the SHIELD nurses who visited us two weeks back, I have realised that he is quite capable and in fact its going to come in quite handy when I'll have my hands full with the newborn at home. I started it with his breakfast today because thats the only meal we don't really eat together (I usually eat a banana and a cup of milk). Its tough to control my motherly instincts when I am eating with Vansh to not put a spoonful on his mouth when I see that he is not doing it himself or taking too long :)






Pretty pleased with himself :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thank Man for voice chatting softwares and webcams... :)

I keep remembering the days when my friends teased me, looking at the over-protective upbringing my parents bestowed on me, saying that they wouldn't let me leave even after I get married. We ourselves looked for prospective matches for me in South Delhi preferably. Well that was then and what now is the fact that I am miles and miles away from my parents (7382 miles to be precise) Obviously unbearable at first, time smoothens out a lot of rough edges and teaches you a lot of coping strategies, and one of the most helpful and wonderful has been voice chatting softwares like google talk and yahoo messenger and webcams. Its such a consolation for me as well as for them that I can chat with them as often as I want to and the fact we can see each other live. This especially means so much to them to be able to see Vansh doing all his tricks and pranks.
Vansh too enjoys these conversations with both his set of grandparents and greets them with a loud 'nana' or 'dada' when he sees there pictures on the computer screen (at times even before that, as soon as he sees the yahoo messenger window :) and even gives them a 'kissi' on the mic or the computer screen itself :)