Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Magnificiently colorful indeed!

September-October in Minnesota is incomplete without a post about the beautiful fall we have been fortunate to experience for 3 years here. The fiery reds, zesty oranges, the bright sunny yellows and golds are one of the most beautiful sights from the huge bounty that mother nature has to offer. And this year the colors are the best that we have seen in the last few years. Anywhere you go, you are literally swept off your feet by the colorful extravagance that surrounds you. I see more of yellows and gold which till last year, in my mind, tended to become a little monotonous than a variety of red and orange and even purple but this year even the yellows and the golds are so stunningly breathtaking and not the least bit humdrum.

Minnesota fall color reports finds a regular and esteemed place in the Bookmarks toolbar so that its just one click away and keeps telling us where to head to view the best fall colors. So a couple of weeks back we headed to Banning State Park which is a couple of hours drive from home and took off on Quarry Trail.

There weren't the best of colors there but just being in the midst of the towering trees with sunshine shining through on the carpet of red, yellow and brown leaves that adorned the ground was heavenly. We loved walking as did the kids. It was a treat watching them pick up branches, throw leaves on top of each other and on us and then giggle,
sit on fallen trees,
shout "I love you" in the silence and then hear it echo back.
In the end even the 2 mile long trail left us rejuvenated rather than tired. And thus came to an end a Saturday beautifully spent.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A new friend

We have a new friend these days. We like to share our food with her, we love it when she looks inside, at times just waiting there in the patio for us to come out and look at her, takes her hand to her heart and puts it there in acknowledgment. We spend so much time staring at her for the longest time nibbling away at the food, at times on the floor, at others on the ledge and best of all perched up on our cycle outside. Presenting to you our dear little squirrel named Roo :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting ready for the move and what's up ...

A lot has been going on at our end. Its been stressful off late tracking the Delhi Nursery Admissions scene from here in the US. We had chosen this time - the beginning of Vansh's formal school to head back home and had been planning towards the same. Last year Delhi nursery admissions hit the headlines several times for the various new developments that took place, Delhi Government stepping in to stop the private schools from interviewing 3 something year old kids to judge them before granting or rejecting admission, Ganguly committee being formed and coming up with a point system based on several parameters like distance of home from school, alumni parents, siblings in the same school, etc to grant admission to kids, lowering the age a child gets into a school from 4+ to 3+ and so on and so forth. To cut a long story short, it has gotten very very tough to get your child in a school and I am not even saying a school of your choice. Everything seems so arbitrary, perfectly well settled and well qualified parents find their child not getting admission anywhere. As a result the tension and stress resulting is way too high. Anyways I have worried all I could and obviously with no results, so I am past that stage too. I have also come to terms with the fact that although we had planned to fly in end December-early January to be in time for the admission procedures which took place in January-February last academic year, this year they have already begun and we are just waiting for the first school that we want to apply to, to come out with the forms and then I and the kids will fly on a short notice of about a fortnight. Why wait till the end, you ask! Well Ashwini had planned everything at his workplace for January too and so he cannot fly before that and we don't want to be in a position where I reach there and he stays back here alone and the relevant forms don't come out for another month. Oh Darling yeh hai India! is what comes to mind at this time.

Anyways so right now we are busy winding up, selling stuff we accumulated over a period of 5 years here, taking stock of what we can lug back and what needs to be given away in the midst of the everyday activities of the kids. Vansh is loving his pre-school and asks to be taken there even on the four days that he is off. He is generally so cheery in his disposition when he returns and radiates joy all around. He also started swimming classes for a month, twice a week from last week and he started out by not entering the water at all for the first 2 classes. This Monday after a few encouraging pushes (physically handing him) into his instructor's hands and a few threats that I would leave if he doesn't go in (thank God for Hindi at these times ;)), he did just fine. Both his instructors did a wonderful job with him, being very gentle with him, telling him that they would never ever leave him and encouraging him to do certain things inside the water, I could see that he had formed a bond with both at the end of the 30 minute class and is looking forward to go today.

Jiya is doing great too. A few days back, she went through a super crabby, super clingy phase where she clung on to me all the time, didn't eat well at all and so remained cranky for the major part of the day. I think the teething pain was a bit too much for her at that time. She is back to being the tantrum throwing, foot stomping and laughing the next minute self. She actually just lies down on the floor, anywhere, even in the middle of the parking lot when met with even an iota of resistance from us with pouted lips for just one second and then a straight face and then decides what to do next depending on our next reaction. A scowl from us and she lets out a cry, a smile or a camera to capture that moment brings out laughs. Hah - the drama queen!

With each other, we go through phases of pleasant and nasty in our home. On nasty days, they get at each others' and our nerves. They want to play with the same things at the same time, refuse to share even the things which are in profusion like blocks or cars - each one wants each one of them. They want to sit on a particular chair at the same time. Jiya's even started getting physical now. She pulls Vansh's hair or bites him, thankfully always through this sweat shirt and so never really gets to the skin. Vansh on the other hand is of course smarter and knows that if he irritates Jiya long enough, she just throws off the toy in her hand out of anger and then its his to play with technically. Of course we don't let him get away with it when we are watching.

And pleasant times are a treat. They miraculously sit together on a tiny little ride on toy. Vansh always lets Jiya have her way or exchanges toys very sweetly - Jiya tu yeh le le, please! or chides her very gently when she gets into what he is doing - tu kya kar rahi hai lallu! They take turns putting coins in a tiny little hole of the piggy bank or putting beans in a small hole one by one. Both of them read separate books, play with different cars following each otjer in and out of rooms. Vansh helps me in feeding Jiya who miraculously opens her mouth when he feeds him the same bite that I tried feeding her few seconds back.

And I think about the times that lie ahead and shudder. When in a snap, they'll be all grown, spending more time out of the homes than in, opening and flapping their wings to fly away, when their squeals and their giggles or even their screams and their cries won't fill the home as they do now and that's when I just tickle them and roll them around to make them laugh some more and try to soak in everything - the sights, the sounds, the smells and that warm fuzzy feeling inside of looking at your children grow up and swell with pride at just that.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The life and times of a 3 year old ...

Scene 1 - Vansh wakes up from his nap. Jiya's still asleep. I am cooking dinner in the kitchen. After the hug and the I want duddu (milk) and drinking the said duddu, Vansh shouts, nothing in particular, just an 'aaa' with a silly grin on his face. Jiya is still asleep in the room 1 meter away and so I react with a finger on my lip and a shhh. He repeats. I tell him firmly that he needs to quiten down because Jiya is still sleeping. He shouts again, not as loudly this time, but a shout nevertheless. I tell him that I can take him and leave him outside if he feels like using his outdoor voice and he can come back when he is done. He refuses and he laughs, the "Yay! I made her say that again" kind of laugh and stops shouting.

Scene 2 - Jiya is also up now and Vansh is playing with his toys trying to fit the whole 2 big boxful of toys in a 1 foot long garbage truck and shouting when they start spilling over. I go in to ask him whats the matter and explain some things to him and come back, which is followed by some more shouts soon after. I go in once again with an intention of spending some time playing with him sensing thats what he wants. Jiya follows me and Vansh starts pushing her and grabbing her arm when she tries to touch the spilling toys. I tell him not to do that and play with him for some time. When I return, the shouts start again. I decide to ignore this time. He comes closer and closer first to the door of the room, then out the door and in the kitchen, the decibels increasing. I start humming a song, followed by asking him something casually. He says in a sad tone "Mer ke toys gir gaye" (My toys fell). I tell him that its okay and he can try again, though he is trying to fit way too many toys in the small garbage truck.

Scene 3 - Jiya is playing with a frisbee and Vansh teases her by touching it. Jiya yanks it back and starts running. Vansh runs after her, slowly on purpose. Jiya enjoys at first and starts laughing loudly but starts getting irritated soon after and whines and cries. Vansh enjoys the whining as much as he enjoyed the laughing and continues running behind her and at times snatching the frisbee or whatever the toy is from her. I tell him for the thousandth time to let her be when she starts whining/crying. The scene repeats itself over and over and this one's hard to be ignored. The consequence varies from a gentle request to a scream "Vansh stop snatching the toy!" or "Leave her alone!" to a threat of leaving him outside for the maintenance uncle to take away. Silly grinning continues all this while.

Distracting him by asking him to work on his favorite Thomas Engine puzzle or coloring works at times but at others it doesn't because Jiya now gets into everything as she is able to climb on the dining table which used to be the safe haven for exclusively Vansh activities till some time back. This is even after I give Jiya her own puzzle/coloring to work on on a separate table.

Scene 4 - Light switches - On, off, on, off, on, off, .... Refrigerator door - open, bang shut, open, bang shut, open, shut ... Ignoring sometimes takes care of it except if its doors that he is banging. He gets one scream at times followed by a whack on the back of his head for the fear of one of the kids pinching their fingers. At other times, I pick up the phone and pretend to talk to Tom/Jeff/Eric maintenance uncle to tell them that they need to come in to fix the lights/refrigerator which is soon going to go bad owing to Vansh treating them the way he is. The silly grin written all over his face again, he stops. Was it really their fear that stopped him like it used to till some time back or was it the the 'mission accomplished' at having pushed mommy's buttons along with the light fixtures.

I started writing this post last week and wrote it upto this point. As is evident from the post, we were having a tough week, the kind where I throw up my arms in despair when Ashwini comes home and then both of us keep exchanging glances as if to say "What's wrong with this little guy of ours?"

But then there are some good days or may be just little good gestures where we know that behind the mischievous three year old who pushes his parents' buttons and drives them up the wall, there is also a lovely little boy who loves his parents and sister as much as he teases them, who proclaims lovingly "Jiya tu hamari sweety hai" when she decides to hug him when he wakes up in the morning; who says with a twinkle in his eye "I am so ecited Mama" when she tells him for the thousandth time that we'll be going to India not this evening but after a few months; who squeals in delight and shouts "Its fun Mama" when she throws the beautifully colored fall leaves on top of him.

Yeah you are right, the last few days have been good :) And if I hadn't gotten this far in typing out the Scenes blog post, I probably would have deleted it. But I decided to publish it nevertheless so that I remember that waiting for us at the onset of every tough phase is an even more sweet and heartwarming one.