Thursday, August 29, 2013

Impromptu hopping and splashing

Here's what S has been up to these days. 

Shopping or 'hopping', as she calls it. I dislike clothes shopping usually and think it's an absolute chore but my daughter sure seems to love the experience...or at least the experience of taking clothes off hangers!

She's been splashing all the water out of this temporary 'pool'. As you can see, this fire hydrant leak is the most fun thing she got her hands on in the sweltering heat this summer week. Most regrettably, I didn't have my phone on me to take a picture of her splashing about...but please go ahead and imagine little S patting this water as though it were a puppy...and smiling and squealing with the utmost delight imaginable.

This is totally why I love being a mom.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The note on the car

This is what the neighbors had left on our car this morning. 

Living in India teaches you to be watchful, wary, skeptical and hyper-alert. Since moving to the U.S, I've slowly become the opposite. Life in a condominium in a decent neighborhood is usually safe. 

Sure, there is no gate. We don't have a picturesque garden or a mango tree bursting with juicy, ripe mangoes, waiting to be stolen by street urchins (or by the neighbor who blames it all on street urchins). There is no security guard or night watchman with a big stick who wakes you up with his constant clanging at the gate. 

But there is no vendor, milkman, mailman, cleaning lady or guest who will suddenly knock on your door or walk in to your home, either. Every visit is planned for and anticipated. Everyone needs to be let into the building. They call from the lobby phone and the resident decides whether to buzz the person into the building or not.  It's almost the norm to forget to lock the condo/ apartment front door or balcony door because there is a certain amount of safety and security taken for granted. 

I've always taken care to lock all doors before going to bed but really done nothing more than that to 'stay safe'. I've been slacking off a lot on the home alarm system, hardly turn it on these days. 

After this note, and a follow-up email from our building management folks, A and I resolved to turn on the home security system everyday and night. 

Because it's just plain old-fashioned common sense. 
You never know what's out there. 
Or who. 
The world is full of crazy folks, you know.
Stay safe, people. Check under the bed and behind the curtains.

Old MacDonald had this farm

Ee ai ee ai o

And on this farm he had some Canadian Geese, 
Ee ai ee ai o

With a goose poop here and a goose poop there
Here a goose poop, there a goose poop,
Oh I can even see some gosling poop,
Ee ai ee ai o

Old MacDonald had this farm
Ee ai ee ai o
And on this farm he had some ponies
Ee ai ee ai o
A black pony here and a brown pony there 
and Precious asked if they were both puppies
Everywhere a pony (or perhaps a puppy?)
Ee ai ee ai o

Old Mac Donald had this farm
Ee ai ee ai o
And in this barn he had a piggie
Ee ai ee ai o
Here a fat piggie, sleeping in a corner
Precious, disappointed, asked me 'piggie... oink?'
Everywhere I see only the slothful piggieeeeeeeee
Ee ai ee ai o

Old MacDonald had this farm
Ee ai ee ai o
And in the main barn there were no animals
Ee ai ee ai no?
With a video game here and a tractor there
With a John Deere product placement everywhere 
Ee ai ee ai ugh!

Old Mac... You know this...sing aloud, people
Ee ai ee ai o
And on this farm he had some chickens
Ee ai ee ai o
Finally, a cluck cluck here and a cluck cluck there
But Precious screamed 'KIKI (sparrow)bird!!!'
Here a sparrow there a sparrow near the green bin
We only care about the common sparrowwwww
Ah well Old MacD's farm... barn... @ the Lincoln Park Zoo, we'll be back.

Poet's disclaimer: I have ranked content higher than rhyme scheme so if you are singing along (admit it, you totally were!), your tune and rhythm may have steered off-course a bit. It's ok. 

LOTR at the Ravinia festival

It all began when A's office was selling tickets to the annual Ravinia festival held every summer in Chicago's Northern suburbs. 

A hard-core Lord of the Rings fan, A jumped at the thought of an LOTR concert and bought tickets. Not just the usual picnic-in-the-lawn tickets, but Pavilion tickets, with a built-in chair for each person. Fan-cee and not even crazy expensive!

Yes! The very-talented Chicago Symphony Orchestra was going to play the soundtrack for the second film in the epic trilogy- and we were going to watch experience the show LIVE. 

I was excited but not over the moon or anything. I truly love LOTR but am not a die-hard fan.

Instead, I started wondering about whether we should attempt to take Precious with us and make her sleep in the she can sleep under the stars and you know, I could blog happily about it. Thankfully, I read on the Ravinia website that no kids under 7 were allowed into the Pavilion so whew! That erased all scary visions of little S screaming and we being asked to leave ASAP. 

I felt liberated to NOT have a choice.

So I arranged for my sitter H to show up, made and packed some burgers and ran out the door, ready to get lost in a fantasy-adventure world full of hobbits and Gollum.

We drove up with our friends M&A (they are lawyers but not that they deal with either mergers or acquisitions, really). 
The show was simply breathtaking. Live music played by one of the best orchestras in the world made a huge difference. A and I switched between being glued to the screen and then glued to the orchestra. I've watched the Twin Towers several times but no previous experience was a patch on this.

Sméagol/ Gollum- My favorite character! He is SO psychologically complex. He incessantly talks to himself, refers to himself and his alter-ego using the 'we' form and uses the double plural - 'birdses, hobbitses' - making him extremely unique and interesting.  

Can't wait for the third movie to play in Ravinia next year. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Meet the Blankie family

If you've read Lanky's Blankie, you already know that Precious has been in love with her blankie for a while now. For around 6 months, to be precise. I whined a little in the past about how hard it is to take blankie everywhere, especially the swimming pool, and how hard I try to break this habit of hers in random places. 

Well, I wish I had shut my mouth! 

S just took the blankie love to a whole new level. If she was 'in love' earlier on, she is now married to the blankie family and has tons of blankie babies. Ok, that sounds weird but let me explain...

Starting this week, S suddenly developed an attachment to one of her doll's blankies. The blankie fits the general love criteria - soft, plush and creamish pink in color. She started taking this new 'baby blankie' to bed with her during naptime and bedtime.

A day later, she took Blankie, Baby Blankie and a 'lovey' - a small lamb face attached to a square piece of cloth the size of men's handkerchiefs. (If you are from the generation in which men used handkerchiefs, you know what I'm talking about). She started calling this lovey 'Buppy'.

Another day later, she took Blankie, Baby Blankie, Buppy and the largest stuffed toy she owns, an adorable big fat dog, which she, of course, refers to as 'Puppy'.

It doesn't stop there. Let me introduce "thaachi Blankie" to you. When A or I make S nap in her stroller, we usually cover the top of the stroller with a soft muslin cloth that she has started calling "thaachi Blankie". Thaachi or ninni = sleep, in Tamil.

You guessed it. We now have Blankie, Baby Blankie, Buppy, Puppy and thaachi Blankie in her crib.

As a result these days S hardly has any space to move around in her crib. When she starts feeling drowsy, she usually informs me, "Amma, ninni", and then proceeds to track and hunt down this Blankie/Puppy family of hers. She tries to carry them ALL to her crib and trips and falls multiple times because it's not possible for her tiny frame to carry 5 misshapen things and walk straight. But she persists. She refuses to go to bed without any of them and seems traumatised by the thought that any of them might miss their nap time.

When you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I now tuck in Puppy and Buppy in bed first along with thaachi Blankie and then put S in her crib along with Blankie and Baby Blankie before I leave the room. S couldn't be happier. She talks a little to everyone in her new joint family and then proceeds to snuggle with Puppy before she drifts into dreamland. 

I must admit, it is ridiculously adorable to see her wake up and say "Hi" very excitedly to this bunch of non-living, stuffed things. 

I love her imagination and persistence. Although, this morning, when she threatened to take my large quilt to her crib, I remained as firm as I have ever been and said "Amma's bedsheet is for amma". Thankfully, I won that one. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Introducing - our 15-month old Barista

"Got coffee?" is what folks are asking Precious these days. Tsk. Tsk.

Yes, we have just upped the "put the minion to work" scale a notch. Looks like Precious loves making coffee for everyone at home. 

It all began when I started sleeping in on Saturday mornings. A takes care of S and makes his coffee in the morning while I'm passed out on my bed, dreaming of being single and dating gorgeous French men. Ooh! 

Back to reality. A usually makes his morning coffee in the iconic moka pot - a non-electric coffee maker - manufactured by Bialetti and narrates what he is doing to ever-curious S. By now, S grandly announces "Ka-shee appa...appa Ka-shee" whenever she sees A drinking something in a mug and when she sees the Bialetti perched atop our gas stove.

The very European, iconic moka pot
We own two Bialetti Moka coffee makers - a big one that A uses and a smaller one that we don't use anymore. Little S found the smaller one in one of the kitchen drawers during her exploratory adventures and thoroughly enjoys playing with it. She takes the three piece coffee maker apart and plays for almost an hour with it, trying to put it back together and then taking it apart once again. 

One morning, I asked her to give me coffee and she proudly pretend-poured coffee into my mouth. Directly from the Bialetti, which means I was pretend-drinking decoction and not really coffee...but still. I see potential in our budding Barista. 

She now asks for the Ka-shee maker every morning. 

I am not fond of making coffee for anyone - am more of a tea lover and truly dislike the smell or taste of coffee. I am happy that S is taking ownership of this chore and setting me free.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We had a a Vail of a time

We were on vacation in Vail, Colorado last week. 

Pretty, huh? A, S and I stayed at a lovely hotel that overlooked a river in the Vail valley. I should probably know the name of the river like a good traveler....but I don't. This particular spot was our favorite for giving Precious her meals. I think babies or kids and nature just go so well together. Plop a kid in her stroller and show her some trees or mountains or kaakas and kuruvis (crows and sparrows) as my family in Chennai would say...and feeding time is quite enjoyable.  

Can you spot the man fishing on the left side of this pic? 

I swear, he didn't move for several minutes and maybe hours. A was wondering why the heck fishing is called a 'sport' in America. He and I certainly don't appreciate any sport that involved standing in knee deep water, waiting for hours on end for a fish to bite. 

Maybe it's the vegetarian in us that doesn't get it...maybe we just think that any sport needs to involve running around and some conversation. At least conversation with a ball of some sort!

This place was our home away from home and it was really cozy. Popular as a skiing destination, Vail is quite lovely for a summer getaway too. Lots of mountain biking, hiking,  swimming, white water rafting and the like goes on here.

Not that I would know anything about any of those....I promptly fell sick...some flu-type soon as we got there and recovered the day before we had to leave. Sucks, huh?

On the last day, to make up for lost time, I enthusiastically went for a rejuvenating spa session and then a divine dip in the hotel pool with the fam.

A is like a fish in the water. I am like a heavy rock in the water. Clearly, I prefer doing things that involve standing on my two feet on solid ground to randomly floating in water. I was made sans gills for a reason, I think. At Vail, though, I really loved the water. It was outdoors, warm and it felt right to be in a pool surrounded by mountains all around. 

We took S into the water, tried to show her that we parents know better by leaving blankie behind... for a brief couple of minutes,  then very quickly succumbed to her wailing and proceeded to bring blankie along into the pool. S enjoyed blowing bubbles and watching other babies float around. Blankie faithfully tagged along. 

Overall, I'm very happy with all the planning and execution A and I did for the flights. We also just got lucky with some things we did purely by accident and realized we needed to replicate the model next time around!
- A timed flights to co-incide with nap times 
- He booked United economy plus seats so we had more leg room and S had enough space to stand in front of the seat
- A pre-boarded the flight along with hand baggage and I stayed behind with S so she could run around in the airport to her heart's content so she wouldn't need to sit for longer than necessary on the flight
- We didn't buy her a ticket, I just held her on my lap
- We dressed her in layers to adjust for temperature changes in-flight
- We carried our own food and water for her
- We packed a small zip loc of tiny toys to keep her entertained
- I sat by the window so she could look out and get excited about the clouds. Also, I closed the window to signal nap time, just like I do back home

The Roscoe village burger-fest

Took place a couple weeks ago. Yum yum yum! Top restaurants showed off their best burgers in stalls. The veggie sliders were delicious. 

I love that Chicago is such a foodie city. and I super love that being vegetarian is such a cool fad now. Thanks to this phenomenon, I do NOT belong to a generation that needs to pack Puliogare and curd rice in zip loc bags before heading out the door. Whew!

Putting the minion to work

Evil grin! 

I always thought of Precious as this dependent little human being who would take up tons of my energy and, of course, dutifully provide bountiful joy. It is only of late that I've also included the word 'productive' in my vocabulary. 

Yes, dear all. It is possibly to put a one-year-old to work. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about any sort of evil, merciless child labour here. (err....I hope I'm right on this one). 

Precious S has taken to a bunch of kitchen utensils, tools and implements and is starry-eyed and fascinated by how they work. Most importantly, she loves the mortar and pestle and that I hand it over to her the minute we enter the kitchen in the morning. 

Till a couple of days ago, I obediently gave the stainless steel mortar and pestle to her, glad that she would be occupied. But....but....I've now started giving her little tasks to complete. Yesterday, she crushed a bunch of whole pepper corns for me. Today, she moved on to crushing and grinding pepper corns as well as ginger, with tons of big-girl pride.  

My little one is becoming USEFUL!!! This is brilliant and I finally now understand why my forefathers...fore-mothers I mean....had a zillion kids. More kids, more hands, more helpers, more work done around the house. This is brilliant. 

We have a sous-chef in the house, people. Who's coming over to dinner?