Thursday, May 29, 2008

A wonderful day at Bryant Lake Beach

Sometimes the simplest of trips turn out to be so much fun. Last Sunday we headed for a small cosy beach on a lake just 3 miles away. The plan was made impromptu. Since morning we kept vacillating between the idea of getting out and staying home because there was a 60% possibility of rain. Finally at about 11'0 clock we decided to head to somewhere closeby, along with another friend couple and their 2 year old son, so that we wouldn't feel too bad to be quickly packing up and heading back home in case it rained. So ignoring the fact that it would be close to the kids' nap time when we would finally leave, we packed some noodles and my friend packed her famous yummy pasta to enjoy at the beach. We left in such a jiffy that I forgot to take proper swimming/beach clothes or towels for anybody. Also I didn't quite expect the need for that arising considering the disgust with which Vansh treated sand, especially wet sand on the beach in the last season and how he refused to have to do anything with the water even when we had paid for that lovely LA trip to take a break from the super cold Minnesota last year. And boy! I couldn't have been more wrong! Vansh played and played and played with sand and water, mixing them together, pretending to make 'oatmeal' for Jiya - he repeated this sentence close to 50 times - enough oatmeal to last Jiya for at least one year if not more. Jiya, sat on the sand, first taking in the environs which were totally new for her - such an expanse of water. She started playing with the sand and the toys and after some time made an attempt to crawl towards the water. The weather is still so erratic here that we were apprehensive of letting her go to play in the water. But after about 3-4 attempts to stop her, I finally gave up my apprehensions and just let her crawl there and into the lake. And she took to it like a fish. She was thrilled beyond words. Initially quiet, making sense of the waves coming to touch her hands and then going back leaving behind just wet sand, she started shouting in glee thereafter. There was no stopping her after that. She rolled and she rollicked, trying to go in more and more, lying down to feel the water on her face. It was such a treat to watch all three kids have so much fun. We too got our hands dirty making small castles before the kids came and crumbled each one almost as quickly as we made them; digging holes and filling it with water making small muddy puddles, reliving our own childhood.
We had our lunch on benches underneath huge umbrellas amidst lovely sunshine and perfect weather. It didn't rain at all, it was not even cloudy any more. What a luxury to be able to have such a wonderful day.
Oh and thankfully I always do carry a change of clothes for both the kids :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Mummy white car mein chalein?

Papa white car mein jaate hain? Kabhi kabhi red car mein jaate hain?

Ashutosh uncle red car mein jaate hain? Mohit silver car mein jaata hai? Pranay black car mein jaata hai?

Hum green car mein chalein? Okay! Vansh green car mein ja raha hai. Keys le li mamma?

Vansh is talking about cars A-L-L D-A-Y L-O-N-G !!! No exaggerations !! 'He is obsessed' sounds like an understatement. He wants to drive a car, that not possible he wants to sit on the driver's seat and pretend to drive. He even goes to the extent of saying that we go inside the store to shop while he'll sit there doing that. Not satisfied with the time for which he can do that, he pretends his plates, lids of boxes, forget all the round things, even the books are imagined to be steering wheels. He insists on letting him open the car door with the keys, he takes his toy keys (well actually Jiya's baby keys) and just tries to fit them in the wall pretending them to be car doors.

He keeps thinking about the same things for 15 minutes at a stretch at times. I know that because just yesterday after he had his lunch and was in one of his deep thinking sessions, I asked him what he was thinking about. He said "Vansh ne galti se car ka darwaaza band kar diya tha." (Vansh had closed the car's door by mistake.) I assumed he must have done that just a little while back when he had gone outside with his dad to look at him while he did a little paint job on it. And I simply said Okay! He repeated the same sentence 4-5 times before Ashwini took him inside to lay him down for his afternoon nap. I went inside the room after no less than 12-14 minutes, he was still laying awake, still in the 'deep thinking' mode and he repeated the same sentence
"Vansh ne galti se car ka darwaaza band kar diya tha." when he saw me. This to me is surprising. I didn't imagine before this that kids this young are capable of holding on to to a thought for so long. He also surprises me by actually telling the right color of his friends' car which I might not have noticed but when I do notice the next time we meet, I realize that he indeed was right. And the latest mantra occasionally heard in the house and especially outside is

"H is for Honda, T is for Toyota!" 'Acura'te indeed!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yay!! Spring's here!!

It feels really strange to have cool breezes blowing, the little leaves growing out of shoots in the lovely 'new' green color and looking forward to bask in the sunshine, all in the month of May when one has associated this time of the year to scorching heat and strong gusty hot winds for the most part of one's life. But its beautifully invigorating nonetheless. The summers are going to be short this time, having begun so late. So we are enjoying them to the hilt. Its funny how much you come to value the simple pleasures in life once they are taken away from you for so long. The winters with 2 young kids at home were rather long and even tough. The beauty is so breathtaking outside right now that just yesterday we were joking that if someone comes to Minnesota at this time of the year for the first time, the land of 10,000 beautiful lakes, lush greenery that pleases the senses no bound, the cool gentle breeze that is enough to uplift any spirit, they would surely be foolishly mesmerized to stay on and even think about the poppycock one hears about the harsh weather and nothing to do and so on.

So here we are hitting the parks every single day. Vansh is proud, especially in front of young girls, make that pretty young girls learning to ride a bike, in flaunting his own skills and pedals with full gusto making sharp turns and then cruising along in a smooth zig zag. This one has a penchant for making new friends, even the shy ones, infecting them with his silly vivacious giggles and inviting them to run around with him or just be naughty throwing around sand and then giggling some more. I am happy and indeed proud to see him do things, even if its just to impress his peers, things that he normally doesn't do in spite of coaxing, things like going up the slide the wrong way or coming down a giant one all by himself or climbing up those rungs. Makes me realize one more time the effect that friends have on kids that parents don't.

Jiya is a natural when it comes to attracting attention with her 'daintiness' (3rd percentile on her weight, beat that!!), a luscious smile here, a delicate wave there. And when kids and grown ups come by hoards to ooh and aah, she never disappoints, delightfully charming each one with her newly learnt skills of putting hands together to clap or covering one single eye with one hand, fingers apart in a gesture of peek-a-boo. Also she has just realized that 'butterflies in the stomach' sensation when the swing comes down after going up and after the initial shocked 'what is happening to me here' kind of look now giggles away gleefully with each sway.

One of those times when I cannot thank God enough for adorable, lovely, healthy children who laugh, who play, who are privileged to be who they are; for showering His countless blessings in such kind ways, for looking over us like he does, for all the happiness and joy he generously bestows.

So here's to a lovely, enchanting, gorgeous spring and more!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

About leg pains and what to do?

I had this discussion with some friends on our google group and I thought I'll share the information that I learnt from an extremely beneficial session with a physical therapist at Vansh's school recently, here as well.

She began by telling us about flat feet. Babies and toddlers typically have flat feet and the arch in the feet develops with age, typically between 4-6 years. If the arch doesn't develop well, it
is associated with pain in legs or feet. I would like to mention this here, though I asked the PT at a later stage, that Vansh does complain of pain in his legs after he has had a tiring day and though its not happened for a few months now but starting at about a year back, there were some times when he would even wake up crying at night complaining of the pain. Discussing it with the triage nurse over the phone had led us to the conclusion that since the bones grow, a lot, at this age, especially during growth spurts, the muscles stretch to keep up with the bone growth leading to pain and that its pretty normal. At his 2 year well child visit, the pediatrician had pointed out that its common for children at this age to have flat feet and the arch takes some time to develop but neither of us had talked about its implications. It was when this lady was talking that I remembered having flat feet myself and complaining of severe leg pan often till the age of almost 9 or 10. She said that growing pains usually happen between the age of 5 and 8 and before that it usually is flat feet which causes the pain.

She talked to us at length about what can be done to take care of the flat feet or more specifically to speed up good formation of the arch.

The first thing to do is simple balancing exercises. When you put the socks/shoes on your children, ask them to stand up, put one foot on the palm of your hand (easier while you are sitting down) and let them be like that for a few seconds. Make a game out of it where they
cannot lean on/hold you or something else for support. Increase the length of time gradually.

Ask them to hop on one leg and then change legs.

The second thing she emphasized was the importance of a correct pair of shoes. A lady in our class said that her daughter's pediatrician had told her that it didn't really matter what kind of shoes the child wears because their primary function is to protect the foot from weather, dirt et al. According to the PT, this was far from true. She had gotten an actual foot bone structure with her and showed the bones a good shoe ought to provide a good grip on. Don't quote me on this one because she was showing us the bones without taking the names but according to the picture on the left, they were the Calcaneus Cuboid (the heel) and Cuneiforms and the Tarsal-metatarsal joints (the middle portion of the foot). And the shoes that do that the best are the good old shoes with laces. Also if you look carefully, you would find shoes with an in-built arch (usually all running shoes do). Compare the two shoes below and you'll know what I mean.

Slip ons or shoes with Velcro or even sandals are okay occasionally but not on a regular basis. Its good to let children be barefoot at home or wherever possible outside but when they do wear shoes, its important that they wear the right kind. And the right shoes doesn't mean expensive shoes, just carefully chosen ones. Although I had no idea when I picked up Vansh's Osh Kosh shoes from a discount store for I think 11 dollars, but I was so glad to find out that they did fit the description pretty well.

Last but not the least, she asked us to be extremely watchful about the preferred sitting position of the child. They must be discouraged to sit in the W position (click for what it looks like). Its very common in young children but the PT emphasized several times that it MUST be
discouraged. It can lead to severe orthopedic problems later on. It was surprising for me because it looked somewhat like the aasana in yoga in which you put your heels underneath the hips in a sitting position but with a difference that the heels are not actually underneath but turned out. And try doing this yourself - first sit in the aasana position and see how much control you have over your trunk -the range of movement that is and the area you can cover when you stretch your trunk muscles and your arms and then in the W position and try to pick up things slightly out of reach - the trunk gets locked so to say and in kids that translates to those muscles not getting developed. As also feet problems later on.

Here's a pretty good link for more info

Monday, May 12, 2008

Talking surprises!

Vansh is lately making it a habit of taking us by surprise by talking the way he does. Suddenly he sounds so grown up and mature. He is literally a sponge these days, so quick in absorbing what we say, experimenting with the phrases and a bit and then making them a part of his everyday conversations. Its a pleasure to listen to him talk in a neat voice, forming and expressing his opinions coherently and being able to carry forward a conversation. It also means that we need to pick our own words much more wisely now lest be admonished by him and be told "Yeh koi tarika nahin hai" (This is no way!) The first time he said that (and he said tarakki, which means progress) I cracked up so loud that he kept repeating it after every sentence I spoke in an attempt to cause the same burst of laughter again. We still cannot help but smile when he says that. He expresses his displeasure using words by saying "Mere ko aise accha nahin lagta" (I don't like it) when I raise my voice at him or Jiya. He is increasingly using pronouns now and has to be reminded to use 'aap' for elders and not 'tum' or 'tu'!
A few days back, after waking up from his afternoon nap, he suddenly said "Vansh mamma ka sweetheart hai, mamma ki baat maanta hai." (Vansh is mom's sweetheart and listens to what she says) That, as is obvious, is enough to make any mom's day and so it did.

The biggest pleasure, apart from the fact that he is talking so well now, is the fact that its now easier to talk to him about something that he does and we don't like. Of course there are instances when he's being plain naughty and then doesn't have an answer, except a silly grin or a random "kaapa or badoom badaa", when we ask him why he did that. But there are some other like this one that happened few days back. Vansh and Jiya were in the same room and Vansh was just building some random structures with wooden blocks. Jiya was playing them too and in the process knocking down what he was building, reason enough to evoke screams from him, pull the blocks from her hands and as a result evoke screams and cries from her as well. When I asked him what happened, he replied by saying

"Dekho Jiya kya kar rahi hai. Sab sab gira rahi hai. Vansh ko nahin accha lagta." (Look at what Jiya is doing. She is making everything fall. I don't like it) and to Jiya in particular "Kya kar rahi hai ghonchu?" (What are you doing silly).

I told him that he could hand over the blocks himself to Jiya and make her happy or if he really wanted to build structures he needed to do that on the table so that Jiya couldn't get to them. He chose the former option as he usually does. And then took pride in handing her the blocks and eventually making her smile.

The other day we had to go for a birthday party and I came out of the bathroom wearing a denim top and pants. Usually Vansh takes a moment to look carefully and appreciate whenever I am wearing something dressy - Indian or Western, even if its with a simple "Wow!" That day he just stood looking and didn't say anything. I asked him "Vansh ko mamma ki dress acchi lagi?" (Did you like mamma's dress?) to which he replied "Nahin acchi lagti Vansh ko mamma ki dress. Mere ko yellow or orange dress acchi lagti hai jo mamma India mein pehenti thi" (I don't like this dress. I like yellow and orange dress that you wore in India.) Even though a little dampening for my spirits, his being able to form an opinion and express it verbally more than made up for it.

The picture above incidentally is taken on Jiya's mundan ceremony on Apr 14, 2008 and the yellow dress is the one Vansh was referring to :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Here's the scoop ...Part II

.. Continued from here.

Vansh, on the other hand, was much more reserved. Left alone he was shy; if someone tried to come too close too soon he got mad and screamed. He picked up some new Hindi phrases, obviously from what he heard us speak, a classic example of what happens when a child is labeled and himself pronounced "Vansh sharma raha hai" (Vansh is feeling shy) when we encouraged him to say hello or talk to someone. Slowly he kept getting attached to family members he got comfortable with - both his grand-dads - Nana and Dada and Big dada - that's Ashwini's big chacha, who took him out of the house 3-4 times a day, let him sit on the driving seat of the car for as long as he wanted to, one of my cousins - Chinki mama for him who let him play games on the computer and check out the horn and indicators on his bike and a couple of Ashwini's cousins for reasons varying from buying chocolates to taking on long walks and he liked to stay close to these very people when there was a big gathering. All in all it was certainly a huge change for him and being at the age that he is, he took comfort in the company of people he felt secure with.
What was funny as well as heartening to see was that once he did get attached, he was so very nice with them. For instance, he would hold Big dada's hand accompanied by a super cute look on his face, request him in the most innocent tone ever, one that couldn't be turned down at any cost, "Green car mein ja rahe hain?" (Are we going in the green car?), like I said it was more of a nicely worded demand than a question :) He also demanded being fed and getting his teeth brushed and being given a bath by either his dada or nana depending on wherever he was. They were more then happy to oblige.
He was clearly bent towards becoming more attached to the male members of the family. My mother had to actually catch hold of him and give him a tight squeeze before he would concur and then giggle away gleefully.
One thing that was beyond him was why on earth couldn't Nana, Nani and Dada, Dadi and Chacha (set of maternal and paternal grandparents and uncle respectively) stay together at one place. Why did at least one of the two have to go a different way? He tried his best to avoid that by saying things like "Vansh dada ke saath nana ki car mein jayega." (I want to go with dada in nana's car) and left everyone heavy hearted by crying so much when it was time in deed to bid good bye to one of them. We had to lie to him a couple of times, as much as we hated it, about the possibility of his friends meeting us at India Gate, a place he developed a great liking for. We passed it on numerous occasions because its on the way to Ashwini's parents' house and even stopped by on several. He would ask us when we reached India Gate about his friends, but was usually so mesmerized by its grandeur that he wouldn't really mind they not being there.

Well thats what in my head about the kids and their trip. A quick update on the kids' physicals - Vansh's 3 year and Jiya's 9 month after we came back. Among other things, Vansh, at 32 lbs, was after all in the 50th percentile for his weight. Our reaction - he is??? what with taking hours to finish his meals, not to mention the unparalleled effort on the part of the person feeding him. Jiya, at 15lb 5 oz, was in the 3rd!!! Our reaction - we expected the figures to be the other way round!! The pediatrician said that considering her great physical activity (she kept crawling round and round the room in her diaper ...) and her vocal skills (... saying mamma, papa, ba ba and so on), it didn't really concern him. Its just that her bone structure is little and no amount of (over) feeding her can change that. I am glad he said that and I promise to listen to him this time. I say this because on Vansh's 18 month well child visit, when for the first time his weight had been in the 15th percentile I had freaked out, asked the ped 6 times in a period of 30 minutes if that meant I needed to feed him more and despite his telling me "Do not pick that battle with your child", I had gone ahead and done exactly that! And had lost it (the battle) many many times ever since. One thing though I did ask the pediatrician this time was how much milk a three year old ought to be drinking and he said even 12 oz was enough. Vansh was having about 20 oz of milk plus 4-8 oz of yogurt in a day. I have now cut it down to 15 oz plus about 4 oz (at times some more) yogurt and that seems to have made a difference in his appetite.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The NICE award

"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people , good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world!"

Thanks so much PG for your thoughtfulness and for awarding me this beautiful award :)

I would like to pass on this award to these wonderful ladies out there who more than anything inspire me to be good and gentle and have faith and go on.

Dipali : I wish I have your perspective with regards to my kids generation when I reach your age. You truly are an inspiration!

Noon: Thanks for taking that first step towards our loving friendship. I am bad at that (taking the first step, that is :) ) I always imagine you being so gentle and loving with your kids - it makes me all warm and fuzzy :)

Deepali : Thanks for all these messages and comments. You make me feel special in your own little ways!

Gauri : I admire you a lot for your balanced attitude. You sure are an inspiration - when I am in a difficult situation with the kids, I often times think - what do I think Gauri would have done in such a situation :) I hope I am able to maintain an open channel of communication with my kids as you have.

CeeKay: Hats off to you for being so clear headed not just about the values you want to instill in your daughters but also the way you go about it. You inspire me to take the longer and tougher route, which of course is the right one when it comes to discipline.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Okay, so hers's the scoop ...Part I

... Vansh turned 3 on March 16, Jiya turned 10 months on May 3 and so their milestones along with a lot of other things that I keep taking mental notes of, to record for posterity, keep whizzing past in my brain at all times. However we are still in a settling down mode. Even though the jetlag went away incredibly fast in 2 days, we are not just fighting the body clock here. Jiya's separation anxiety is acute which translates to me not being able to do much while she is awake. The upside is I am spending a lot of time with the kids having fun. The downside is chores are accumulating and there's no time left for blogging. And it (separation anxiety) also strikes during sleep times. For instance I spent the better part of an hour last night lying down with Jiya to put her to sleep. And when she finally did at 11'o clock, the kitchen was yet to be cleaned and the clothes to be transferred from the machine to the drier (not to mention that the drier is offloaded of the previous load of laundry when the next load is ready to be loaded). She is also having a pretty nasty bout of cough which is bothering her during sleep. Honey mixed with ginger juice always helps Vansh immensely but since Jiya is not a year old as yet, honey is not an option for her. I wonder what to do except apply some Vicks, some desi ghee mixed with salt on her tonsils from the outside and some homeopathic medicine. Nothing seems to be helping much. I would highly appreciate if you have some effective remedies. Vansh is going through an extremely defiant and attention seeking phase right now demanding a lot of patience and of course attention on our parts. Our joke is he is still demanding attention worth 5 people (grandparents, et al) when all there's left now is 2. Things are surely and steadily brightening up though (a post on whats working and whats not soon). I always find articles on brilliant for their practical, common sense advice.

Anyways, so I thought I would sit and pen down the random thoughts in my head right now while both the kids nap together, another rare occurrence these days. Jiya is too excited playing around with Vansh in the mornings to go down for her morning nap. As a result she falls asleep around 12:00 and wakes up anywhere between 1:30 and 2:00 when Vansh is ready or has just gone down for his nap. Bummer!

One of the things that I intended to write about was the kids' temperament and interaction with friends and family while we were in India. Both of them had loads of fun in their own ways. Jiya was very very outgoing and friendly with one and all. She sure was a charmer with her instant toothless (well almost) grins and gestures like resting her head on the shoulder of the person who was holding her.

..Gotta go, more coming up in Part II , soon I hope!