Friday 30 January 2009

I finally go to playgroup

I used to be a regular at playgroup. At one point Ads and I were members of three playgroups and, having nothing else to do, used to be diligent at attending each of them. The club that we are still a part of, and through which I became a member of these playgroups, helped me navigate the intricacies of a new culture with ease, make a lot of new friends very quickly, do a lot of fun activities with Advaith, and create a loose support structure that has come to my aid a couple of times. Although technically the whole playgroup concept is for the kids to socialize and play, I find that it's actually more useful for the moms (especially the stay-at-home ones), who otherwise tend to get very lonely and isolated. In such cases a moms support group is a surrogate for family who more often than not, don't live near enough to be of any help to a harassed mom.
So anyway, after having been so active in the club and even having coordinated the 2005 playgroup for several months, I suddenly found myself out of the loop in my third trimester. I used to be exhausted a lot of the time and after my parents arrived, Ads started visiting the park with them. So we stopped going to playgroup. Obviously this state of affairs continued after Y arrived. For the last few weeks I have been trying to muster up the motivation to attend. But it's an odd time for us - Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 pm. Between Ads' naps (which sometimes stretch beyond 3.30 pm) and my laziness, we have been missing every week.
But today, Ads woke up from his nap at 2.30 pm. I felt I had to make the effort this time, just to get out of the house, breathe in some fresh air, and talk to adults who were not my mother or my husband. I mean, it's not as though it's a horribly difficult thing to do! Being this lacklustre about things makes me feel ridiculous. I got Ads and Y ready, collected all the gear and set off for the park. It was nice seeing all my friends again. Most of them were seeing Y for the first time. And Ads had a good time too. I've resolved to be less lazy from now on and get out more often with both kids.


Ads is moving to a new (Montessori) school next week and as usual, there are a ton of forms to be filled out and submitted to the school. I was filling up a questionnaire for them and one of the questions asked, was how would I describe his personality. As far as I can remember, what I wrote went something like this:"Advaith is extremely intelligent and creative. He is shy with people he does not know well and can be quite timid and fearful in new situations. He does not enjoy loud and boisterous people or play."
Now, Ads is a pretty weird mix - he knows a whole lot about some things (for e.g. construction equipment, firetrucks and other stuff in which he could quite easily get a PhD) and very little about other stuff (read life skills). So if I were to jot down his personality traits and skill-sets, they would go something like this:
1. Verbal skills - Exceptional. He is extremely articulate in 2 languages, one of which he taught himself (English). He has to be the most verbal child of his age I have ever met and this opinion is not just that of his (obviously biased) mother, but that of most people who have had the chance to reach past his initial shyness and get him jabbering away at a 100 mph. He has an extensive vocabulary in both Tamil and English, he can play with words (even pun!) and he constructs complex sentences and expresses emotions and opinions in ease. There are bloopers aplenty when he talks in English but considering that we never taught him the language, the gaffes are only due to the fact that English is not an intuitive language. (An aside....Today he said: "Advaith is a shouter, Yukta is a kicker". He was talking at the top of his voice and I have spent most the day asking him to tone down. At the time when he made this comment, Y was on her father's lap kicking away like there was no tomorrow)
2. Creativity - Exceptional. He displays the typical signs of an intelligent, creative mind - the short attention spans, the constant search for stimulating and interesting activities, the ability to engage in imaginative play even with little or no material etc. Even the boredom (!) - dare I say - spurs his creativity.
3. Physical skills - So-so. Although very active, he has become so fearful of late that we have difficulty persuading him to engage in physical activities that are routine forkids his age. Boys his age are so reckless and interpid in general that they have had to make atleast a couple of trips to the Emergency Room! And while I'm happy Ads has never given me that experience, I have to say his timidity really worries me sometimes. He still hasn't figured out how to ride a tricycle and doesn't want to learn. His eye-hand coordination isn't that great either. I conveniently blame the father for this and keep harping on how he needs to get out and play ball with him more often! (However, the time I spent traumatising him and forcing him to jump off he kitchen counter has borne some results; he is getting a little bolder in the playground and more willing to try out new stunts).
4. Social skills - So-so, could be better. Again it's the shyness, the distaste for loud boisterous people and play that turns him into a shrinking violet. He is pretty good at one-on-one interactions though.
5. Life skills - Poor. I take the blame for this, entirely. I didn't do enough. I let it slide. I didn't think it mattered whether or not he could feed and clothe himself at the age of 2. Now when I have another kid and am strapped for time, I could kick myself really really hard. Of late I have started forcing him to feed himself, with encouraging results.
We are hoping the new school (we are very impressed with the kids we met there and their philosophy of instruction) will make him more confident. That's really all I want my child to be. To be confident, independent, courteous and well-mannered. Nothing else. I don't care if he gets average grades, can't play the violin and isn't the star (or even a member!) of the school soccer team. But sometimes even this can feel like a tall order.
I'll have to review this post after six months and see whether the new school has made any difference.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Update on Yukta

All of the 5 readers of this blog may be forgiven for forgetting that I have a daughter in addition to the naughty fellow whose antics are chronicled in a majority of my blog posts. But how much excitement (and blog-pages) can an almost 3-month old generate after all?!!
Here's an update.
She grows bigger and more active every day. She's become more mobile, gesturing with her arms when she wants to be picked up and straightening her knees so that she's almost standing when we hold her upright in our laps. Her repertoire of sounds to convey different emotions has also increased. For the last couple of days she has been trying hard to turn over. She can turn to her left side quite easily. But getting onto the stomach is much more difficult, especially as her left arm gets stuck underneath her and prevents her from moving. Utterly frustrated and exhausted, she cries loudly and has to be consoled (and fed!).

Last day at preschool

Today was Ads' last day at his current preschool. He has been going there for the last 5 months and will be starting at a Montessori school come Feb 2. He is a very adaptable child so, as happy as he has been at this school, I don't think he will particularly miss his teachers or classmates. One of his teachers was telling me how much he enjoys being at school and how they would miss him. He has been one of the quieter students in the class and the teacher admitted that the quieter students always get less attention because the teachers are focused on keeping the troublemakers in check. This preschool was a good launching pad for him. It's a play-based, no-stress kind of place and he has had a blast there from the very beginning. One only hopes he will like the new school as much.

Honeybun and Cinnabon

Yup, those are S's nicknames for his son and daughter, respectively.
Baby Y is going to grow up and become a beach bum (not a bad life, huh?). She likes what we call the "deck chair" pose. She lounges on Appa, mommy or grandma and contentedly surveys the world around her.
Nowadays, big bro loves holding her. What's more, he always wants me to click a picture while she is sprawled on his lap. She must feel really heavy though; she's almost half his weight.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Skype mommy

New creative idea by my preschooler to circumvent Evil Mommy's rule-book - Get a new mommy!!! I walked in the front door this morning after a quick run to the library, and the first thing I see is Ads driving one of his trucks over the surface of the centre table, something he knows he is NOT supposed to do. Our centre table is chipped big-time already thanks to the many truck-related games played on it in earlier days. I don't want it to be ruined to the extent that I have to throw it out. When I asked him to stop, he ran without a word to the bedroom, and appealed to his new mommy, if you please; the one smiling out at him from the photograph residing on the bedside table. The conversation went something like this:
Ads: "Mommy, can I play with my trucks on the table?"
Mommy: "Yes dear you can do whatever you please. Why don't you bang your trucks hard on the table, repeatedly, if you are so inclined sweetie?"
Ads: "Thank you mommy!"
(OK I am exaggerating here, but just a little bit!)
And he had the gall to run back to the living room and tell me "Skype mommy says it's ok".
I was speechless! Skype mommy??? Is he trying to tell me that he prefers a remote mommy? Skype mommy's strictures, unsurprisingly, are always in direct contradiction to my own :)

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Ads is naughty

First, I get a call from his Ms Pam at school, telling me that he has soiled himself and can I please come and clean him up (the teachers don't clean the kids if they have an accident, and who can blame them?!!) This was at 11 am. I rushed to school (a 15 min drive), thinking that this accident was actually a blessing in disguise, and maybe Ads would learn a lesson from this incident. But, far from being repentant and ashamed, I found him coolly standing in a corner of the bathroom, examining something on the wall with great interest.
I'm a little (okay more than a little) fed up of this constant anxiety over when he'll do potty, whether he will wet/soil himself, should I put him in training pants (just in case) or regular underwear.....frankly, considering how early I started potty-training Ads (some would say because of it), I thought I would be home and dry at this point. But, apparently not. I am now totally and utterly convinced that a child will be potty-trained when he is ready and willing, and not a day earlier. This goes against our theory and practice in India, where a child begins potty training at 12-18 months (sometimes even earlier) and seems to be out of diapers by age 2 or thereabouts. With Ads, the problem has been an unwillingness to learn and lack of motivation to be potty-trained. He doesn't think he gains anything by it (he's right!) and he is incorruptible (we can't bribe him with candy or other treats!). So yes, he doesn't wear diapers any more. He goes to the loo when he needs to go (but most times I just nag him till he goes). But I have a sneaking feeling that we, his parents, are well and truly potty-trained and not him!
I brought him home a little earlier this afternoon, thanks to afore-mentioned episode. The class has a short period of outdoor play before they go home and I stood in the empty classroom, watching him through the window. The school has recently procured a shiny new ride-on firetruck, and he was sitting at the steering wheel. The firetruck was being pushed by four other kids. Ads had a rapturous expression on his face. His turn over, he got off to make place for another kid at the wheel and himself stood on a sort of platform attached to the rear of the truck. Watching him play so happily with his friends (happiness caused not by presence of friends but by presence of firetruck!) made my heart melt. I wanted to scold him for not telling his teachers that he needed to use the bathroom, but I didn't have the heart to.
After lunch, he started tearing up a newspaper into small pieces and stuffed them into a paper bag. I think he was playing at being a garbage collector. The front page of the newspaper had a photo of Barack Obama taking the oath. Ads separated Obama's head from his body and said "Obama in junk". Later in the afternoon, we heard him go into the bathroom and then the sound of the toilet flushing. I was just congratulating myself on his having gone to the loo without me nagging him when he came out holding his trash bag, which I noticed with horror, was half-empty. I rushed to the bathroom, to find a huge bunch of newspaper scraps, floating in the toilet bowl. I don't know how much he had managed to flush down but I made him fish out whatever was floating in there. Hopefully he won't do it again; I know how he hates getting his hands icky.
Later still, he was draping a long string, a whistle, a toy handbag and my mobile charger over the back of one of the dining room chairs. I asked him what he was doing and he said that all the "wires" (i.e. the string, whistle etc) were parts of a bomb and when he turned a dial (the dial being that of Y's rocker), the bomb would go off DOOM! Where does he pick up all this stuff?

Day trip over the weekend

This weekend, we took a day trip to the city. We visited the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, followed by a short stop at the Golden Gate Park. It was cold and windy, but Sausalito was beautiful. The fog caressed the hilltops, and the landscape looked very Scottish. Ads wasn't very taken with the museum. However, he loved the playground which had a "construction site" complete with all kinds of trucks, and shovels and hard hats.

After lunch, we dropped in at the Golden Gate Park where we visited the Japanese Tea Garden (very nice and peaceful) and then decided to have hot chocolate at the DeYoung Musem cafe. I like these pictures of Ads, all tired out after his long day. I also caught one of him asleep in the car.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Ads plays the big bro

These days Ads is heavily into cuddling and petting his baby sister. Y is very curious about this big noisy creature who keeps coming uncomfortably close to her. She watches him with her big brown eyes, initially sporting a tentative smile but then clearly petrified when he comes too close and assails her eardrums with his much-too-loud voice. He can't get enough of her. She's like a big stuffed toy that he wants to touch and smooch all the time. We walk a thin line between asking him to be careful around her and allowing him to be the protective big brother. Ever so often, he gets upset when we ask him to tone it down; then he buries his head in my shoulder and says "Kanna clean pannu" (Clean my eyes). Translation: My feelings are hurt and I'm gonna cry so dab my eyes beforehand!
This evening she was in her bouncy seat and fretting somewhat because she wanted to be unstrapped and carried. Ads says to her: "Yukta I'm very busy. Don't ask me to carry you now."
He copies everything we say (and often uses it against us!). Today he said to me "Now I will show some motor skills" (motor skills!! I must be using that term a lot!), proceeding to climb on a chair and hence onto the kitchen countertop.
He wanted me to click a pic of him and Y. Surprise surprise! I've promised to click some nice ones tomorrow and we shall see how they come out.

Leap of faith

Value-adding parenting activity of yesterday - spending 45 minutes trying to get Ads to jump off our 3-feet tall breakfast counter. It's shorter than he is. And he is terrified of jumping from any kind of height, and by that I mean any kind of height. No matter if a loving parent is standing right there waiting to scoop him into their arms.
Our coffee table in the living room must be a foot above the ground. To get down onto the carpet from the table, he bends his knees, puts one foot down on the carpet and then clambers down. Ditto while getting down from the car. I ask him to stand on the dining table chair to fasten his trousers properly and his knees shake in fear. It is all getting beyond ridiculous. I mean, I understand a child can have fears and phobias (which kid doesn't) but when my son perceives hidden dangers in everyday objects and activities, then I am seriously concerned. It doesn't help when S regales us with stories of how he used to climb upto the loft and leap down from there when he was 3 years old; or when my mother tells me how, at the same age, my brother used to drive his tricycle at great speed across the Delhi "Barsati" where we lived and stop just inches away from a percipitous drop to the ground.
I can easily live with my kids being bashful, introverted, average in studies and sports and what not; but I was going berserk at the thought of Ads being fearful and a ripe target for bullies at school and at the playground. Hence the afore-mentioned leisure activity. I propped him on the counter, asked him to please stand up straight and jump into my arms. He cried a little, I cajoled and begged. True to form, he tried distracting me by engaging me in conversation. I know that my son can talk the pants off anybody if he wants to. So I deflected the cute comments and kept asking him to jump. At one point I walked away telling him that he could stay on the counter. He retorted "Shall I sleep here tonight? Can I have a pillow?" At one point, I was trying to establish the concept of "trust" and "faith" so that he would feel less frightened. Too abstract for a 3-year old??
Anyway to cut a long story short, I ended up using my right hand to push him forward to the edge of the counter so that I could "catch" him and show him that there was nothing to fear. And hurray, jump he did, after many many many tries. After a point, he really began to like jumping into my arms (I had made precisely this argument to him) and we ended up doing the climb-jump act like robots till my arms started to ache.
I remember going through a diluted version of this exercise when he was around 20-24 months old, because he was so terrified of going down the slide in the park (he still prefers to climb up the slide rather than slither down!). I anticipate fun and games when he enrolls in swimming classes this summer :(

Thursday 22 January 2009

The lot of a younger child.... hard indeed.
Between the washer-dryer combo, dishwasher, the mixer (my mom churning out scrumplicious stuff), Ads' numerous emergency vehicles (replete with loud sirens) and his high-pitched and loud vocals, I am surprised Y gets any sleep at all. When Ads was a baby, we shushed everyone in sight when he was asleep; we drew all the curtains, kept our cellphones on vibrate and God help anyone who dared to fiddle around with the pressure cooker or mixer when the Prince was asleep.
If Y somehow manages to snooze, we dump her in the bassinet in a bright room, make merry with all the electrical appliances available and get irritated when she is up in half an hour. To give S his due, he does try to create a quiet peaceful ambience for her naps, but is invariably defeated by our machinations.
My poor daughter. The elder child seems to have it all. The younger child, just as loved and cherished no doubt; but never the sole star of the household. Always having to share the limelight with the elder sibling. It doesn't seem fair. Heck, it isn't fair!!! It's even worse if the younger one is the same sex as the elder one - what's his/her selling proposition, pray??
It's been said (not proven) that birth order has important effects on personality and psychology. I was doing some random reading about this and it seems so inconclusive that a 1983 study actually said that birth order research is a waste of time. All I know is, if I spend any more time reading up on stuff like this, it will definitely be a waste of MY time!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Ads doesn't have school today - HELP!!

Okay, the one thing that you need to know about my son is that he can't (and won't) play by himself. I can count the instances where he has played all by himself in the last year, on the fingers of one hand. The malady actually seems to be getting worse.
Today was a Tuesday, hence no school. In my more active and pre-Yukta days, I would have simply taken him to the park, to while away a few hours until lunchtime and naptime. But nowadays....well, I should really get out and about more often.....So anyway, there we all were, stuck at home and the ordeal began at 7 am, right after he'd had his milk and the routine cuddle with me. He began asking for someone to play with him. I told him that everyone is very busy in the mornings so can you please play by yourself. He began appealing to my mom as the most pliant and sympathetic of us all. They seemed to reach some sort of bargain - she would work in the kitchen, fixing breakfast and starting lunch etc for 10 min, then she would play with him for 5 mins, then go to the kitchen again - some complex arrangement like that. I ignored him. My theory is that he has to learn to amuse himself independently and the only way he will learn is if he knows that no one has the time to play with him especially at busy times like the mornings.
Within half an hour, he tired of not having a constant companion and started whining again. I went about my business, feeding Y and myself, giving her a bath, doing laundry etc, surfacing every now and then to bark at Ads, telling him not to bother anybody. At some point in the forenoon I found myself with free time and took pity on the bored little boy. I sat down with him and we played with his train set. The thing with Ads is that you don't necessarily have to do anything when he asks you to play. All he needs is someone to sit next to him while he plays. That someone however should never ever try to multi-task by reading a book/magazine or making a phone call. Just sit there dumbly and answer when he talks to you - that's all. It drives me crazy!!!
After the ritual of lunch, pre-nap tantrum, nap, and post-nap tantrum (the tantrums themselves largely motivated by boredom), we started all over again....SIGH!!! Sometimes it seems that all I say during the day is "Play by yourself Advaith". This is inspite of making a very conscious effort to spend time with him reading and playing, with the clear understanding (obviously it is only me who understands anything, not him!) that he should occupy himself the rest of the time. I know the obvious solution is to involve him in chores and such but this strategy only works with him about 50% of the time.
He is definitely ready for preschool 5 days a week. If it weren't for his nap, I would plump for sending him for the entire school day i.e. 9 am - 3 pm. I'm hoping that he slowly learns to amuse himself without leaning on anybody for help. I guess it should happen naturally as he grows older.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Home alone with Yukta

Yesterday, S took Ads and my mum to Point Reyes to see the southern migration of the California gray whale, supposedly the longest migration of any mammal. Since Y has been a little fussy for the last couple of days and since I didn't have the enthusiasm for a two and a half hour drive (one way), we decided that Y and I would have a quiet day at home. So I had my fill of cuddling and kissing my little bundle of joy -- something I am always wary of doing when big brother is around. I gave her a leisurely bath, rubbed lotion all over that chubby body and rocked her to sleep for her many naps of the day. Aah - the delight of holding and snuggling up to a baby who is too young to squirm and protest - is unsurpassed! I held her tight in my arms and rubbed my nose into her soft cheek, inhaling the milk-scented sweetness of her. This is true bliss.
S and I love cuddling our babies, so it's fortunate that even 3-year old Ads still has very kissable, plump cheeks (even though the rest of him is so skinny). Even more fortunate that he enjoys being cuddled and made a fuss of (so many boys don't!)
So the day passed very peacably and Y and I had our own special intimate communion. Life can be quite restful when you are not chasing an active 3-year old all over the place! I didn't realize until I became a mother for the second time, how easy it is to manage an infant!
I had virtously resolved to do a couple of things today when the house is quiet in the absence of Ads: a) Read a couple of back issues of "The Economist" b) Think about when and how I am getting back to work. I did manage to read some of the Economist online but then I lost steam and wasted precious time painting my nails and reading sundry useless stuff on the Internet :( I do feel pretty relaxed now so I guess that counts for something :)
The gang came back home at 5 pm (having left at 8 am), tired and happy. They didn't see any whales, as it turned out; but Ads played on the beach and they saw lots of elephant seals. We plan to go again in mid-March to see the reverse migration of the whales, and hopefully that time we WILL see some whales! The pictures are beautiful. They remind me of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

Saturday 17 January 2009

First milestones

Y has started becoming very active nowadays. She reaches out and tugs at people's clothes - her own and whoever is near her at that moment. She coos and gurgles a lot and is so ready to smile and laugh. She can already turn to one side and a couple of nights ago, I awoke to find her sleeping on her tummy. She had been sleeping on her side and must've turned right over, whether by accident or design I don't know.
Her hours of sleep have decreased dramatically over the last 2-3 days. She used to sleep 8-10 hours during the day and now it is half that amount. It makes life difficult for us because she wants to be held and rocked most of the time - which means that whoever is holding her can basically do nothing else.
S calls her the "Giant", because she is always hungry and is growing so big!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Cute stuff

Sometimes Ads is so good that he almost breaks my heart. Today, I had a ton of stuff to do around the house and it being a no-school day for him, I asked him to play by himself and not bother me or his grandmother. Surprisingly, he amused himself until lunchtime, spreading his toys all over the living room and creating a big mess. Even more astonishing, I managed to put him down for his nap without any tantrums. He had a playdate in the afternoon with his friend Natasha, and he behaved very well overall, sharing all his toys with her, playing a noisy game of hide-and-seek and saying "Thank you for coming" when they were leaving. During the playdate, Natasha and Ads both stood in front of the bedroom mirror and stared at their reflections. Ads caught hold of Natasha's hand and said "I'm a boy, she's a princess"!
Kids this age are so incredibly sweet (welll......most of the time, that is :)) Sometimes, when I go early to pick Ads up from preschool, I see his entire class of 24-odd kids walking in a straggling queue, towards the gate where the parents are waiting. It is the cutest possible sight. There are two benches placed against the wall and they all sit down there, awaiting their turn to be picked up by their respective parents. Catch a bunch of 3-year olds sitting quietly; one or the other is always jumping up and down excitedly. My heart always turns over when I see my son in that crowd. He looks so vulnerable and innocent, and I wish he would never grow up. As he sits on the bench, he keeps leaning forward and waving to me. There is real happiness in his eyes at the sight of me.
Fast-forward 10 years - I know I will be ready to cut off my right arm to see that same gleam of happiness in his eyes on beholding me.
Here's a picture of him cleaning the dining room chairs this morning. He loves to mop, swab and clean (whose son is he anyway?!!)

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Fairy tales too scary?

The one thing that used to hit me everytime I took Advaith to storytime at the library, or even just browsed through the children's section, was how the fairy tales that we grew up with, somehow didn't seem to be as popular in America, as they were back home in India (and doubtless, in many other parts of the world). Disney has made a fortune from the Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales; but the American favourites seem to be Dr. Seuss, "Goodnight moon", "The very hungry caterpillar", the Thomas series, the Curious George series, and the Busytown tales of Richard Scarry. I had to come upto speed on these stories only after we came to the US. Having grown up on a diet of Noddy and Grimm/Andersen fairy tales myself, I had to learn all about the little engine that could and the cow that jumped over the moon.

So at one point I took it upon myself to acquaint my son with old favourites such as Cinderella, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel etc. But when I started narrating the stories to him, I realized that some of them were actually quite blood-curdling. Ads didn't like all the talk about witches in gingerbread houses, blood-thirsty wolves that gulp down grandmas, beanstalk-residing ogres, evil stepmothers and the like. Present-day parenting practice seems to dictate steering away from violent themes, of which there are plenty in the fairy tales. I personally don't feel that there is anything very wrong with the stories. Yes there are gender stereotypes, and there is a certain amount of violence and evil. Why, wasn't there a big controversy about Enid Blyton and Noddy a while ago, due to their sexist and racist overyones? I find that I end up sanitizing the stories for Ads, anyway.
But then I read this. Apparently a lot of people think these fairy tales are age-inappropriate.
This begs the question: What has changed in just one generation that stories that were good enough for us are not good enough for our children? Why do we feel the need to shield our kids from the not-so-good-stuff? It all seems a little overdone. Let's loosen up a little, shall we?
But since Ads is naturally so violence-averse, I am sticking to the tame ones like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Incidentally, we were watching "Sholay" a few days ago and when one of the several fight sequences came on, he told me "Don't let him watch all the fight stuff, no?" (Note: He speaks about himself in the third person, always!)

Three's a crowd (and a lot of work!)

Advaith's preschool teachers have been asking when they get to meet Yukta. I'd promised them last week that I would bring her to school today (Monday). It was to be my first expedition with the two children, without anybody to assist.
So Ads and got ready as usual and Y was awake and smiling at 9 am, which is when we usually leave for school. Just as I was asking Ads to put on his jacket, he decided he wanted to go potty. There was a mad scramble to locate the portable potty since the regular potty seat was not accessible (S being in the master bedroom on a conference call, having specifically instructed me not to disturb him unless someone was bleeding to death -- or something like that :)) Thankfully I remembered just in time that the portable throne was in the store room. We settled Ads in with his monster truck and he played and hummed happily while doing his business. By now it was 9.10 and I was anxiously glancing at the clock. After Ads finished, he and I had the usual wrestling match with me trying to slide on his jacket, shoes and socks and him loudly protesting and rolling on the floor.
By this time, my mom had strapped Y in the car seat which was perched on the stroller and she has started wailing, as his her wont whenever she is imprisoned in that contraption. I hoisted Y's diaper bag on my back, pushed Ads' backpack into the stroller carrier and started pushing the stroller out the door, this maneuver slightly complicated by the fact that Ads had decided that it was more interesting wrap himself around my left leg and be dragged along that to actually locomote on his own. After I had disengaged him (nicely and softly and NOT by screaming shrilly -- my main objective being to avoid a tantrum!), we somehow got downstairs and near the car. I pushed Y's car seat into the car seat base, folded and stored the stroller in the boot and strapped Ads into his car seat. By the end of this exercise, I was already exhausted and wondering why I was taking Y to that dratted school.
We did the whole thing in reverse on reaching the school. After bidding goodbye to Ads, I got back to the car and noted with great relief that Y, who had fallen asleep on the way to school, showed no signs of waking up. So the ride home was peaceful and uneventful.
I'm sure transporting 2 kids to and fro will be a cinch as time goes by and I become more expert. In the meantime, it's gratifying to realize that all this pushing and bending and stretching will melt the baby pounds in no time ;-)

Sunday 11 January 2009

First experience at the ER

Both kids have been sick over the last week. Ads had been diagnosed with bronchitis more than a month ago and then Y went down with a bad cold which was subsequently diagnosed as bronchilitis after we made a trip to the ER last weekend. Incidentally it happened to be our very first visit to the emergency room, which by itself is quite strange. One would imagine (and indeed, one knows) that with a 3-year old son, I should have made several trips to the ER in the last couple of years. But Ads is such an incredibly cautious child (not to mention needlessly fearful and timid at times) that he has never fallen from a great height, cut his head open, or suffered any bruises or cuts requiring immediate medical attention.
Anyway, we assumed Y just had a normal cold and after calling the advice nurse a couple of times, I knew I was doing all that was possible to alleviate her discomfort. But one evening last week, she suddenly grew very listless and was obviously finding it hard to breathe. Mentally cursing myself for not having taken her to the hospital sooner, S and rushed to Kaiser. We had a long wait (2 hours plus) there but thankfully all was well. Her nose was completely clogged up with mucus and we got one of the nurses to use a nebulizer/saline solution and suction it off.
It was interesting to know what we would have to do if ever there was a real medical emergency. The nurse on duty at the lobby made us wait in a separate room so that Y would not be exposed to infections from all the sick people waiting in the lobby. They obviously knew she was not seriously sick because they took a long time to see us. I heard a couple of people grumbling that they had been waiting for hours and no one had seen them yet. And we coughed up $100 for the privilege of being told that our daughter had the common cold :)

Ads moods

Ads was playing with Y yesterday and when he tried to cuddle her, her hand flew out and she accidentally scratched him with her nails. She doesn't enjoy his cuddles too much, since he squeezes too hard! Ads was upset that she had "hit" him and I had to explain to him that it was just an accident and she didn't mean to hurt him.
Today, he was playing with her quite happily and all of a sudden there was a dramatic mood change. He fell off the bed and hurt his butt slightly. He asked me whether it would hurt Y if she fell off the bed. When I said yes, he said he was going to throw her down from the bed onto his toy train tracks. In a further exhibition of rage, he then picked up his bunny rabbit and threw it hard on the floor. I suppose he was pretending to throw Y.
Well -- atleast he knows he shouldn't harm her, even though he seems to relish the prospect of doing so :(

Saturday 10 January 2009

Yukta's special smile

Like I said before, Y's most mesmerising smiles are reserved for Daddy dearest. They have a routine. S picks her up in his arms and does a short routine of wiggling his eyebrows and smiling at her. She takes a few seconds to register that it's her father's face so close to hers. After S has called her "tubelight" a couple of times, her face lights up with the most dazzling smile imaginable. And thereafter she never stops chortling and gurgling at her most favourite person. I would love to capture that 1000-watt delight on camera, but it's much nicer to see it in real time!!

Thursday 8 January 2009

The last 2 months and a 3-year old

Two months since Y was born. I can hardly believe it; it seems like yesterday that she arrived. We have adjusted very quickly to our new baby and the new routine, primarily because she is so easy-going. What has been harder to handle are the antics of our first-born.

Let’s start at the beginning. I think we did everything by the book. First, we planned our babies 3 years apart (the so-called “Golden Gap”). We prepped Advaith big-time right from my first trimester. We read books and watched DVDs about new babies and older brothers, we talked about the baby often, we took him along to my 20-week ultrasound and the results were pretty encouraging. Ads spent a few minutes almost every day talking to “thanga-papa” and seemed genuinely excited about his new sister. He kept talking about all the ways he would help me – changing her diapers, bathing her, feeding her etc. So I think we did all that we could have done, all except giving him a “gift” from his sister after she was born, making him blow out the candles on a special birthday cake on the day of his sister’s arrival and so on (suggestions given to me by friends/well-wishers which I frankly found quite inane). Let’s face it – our parents never bothered to do any of this stuff and we all turned out fine. I don’t know anybody among my circle of friends/acquaintances who bears emotional scars because of being under-prepared for their sibling’s arrival!

But when the event finally happens, it’s a big jolt to the first-born, never mind how old they are and how prepared. This small piece of wisdom I have realized recently. We noticed a slew of attention-seeking behaviours as soon as Y arrived home. So we made it a point to never ever play or spend time with the baby in Ads’ presence. In fact, for the first month or so, I would try and nurse her away from his eyes. We ended up spending time with Y only when he was at school or at the park or otherwise occupied. Even now, two months later, she always gets short shrift. When both of them need me, I always attend to Ads first (not without feeling a terrible pang of guilt for leaving Y in the lurch!). The worst part is always in the morning. Both of them wake at 7 am. Y needs a feed at the same time that Ads comes wailing for his milk and mommy’s lap. And every single day (unless Y is smart enough to get up a few minutes early), I ask my dad or mum to hold Y and console her while I spend 10 minutes with Ads. I wonder what I’ll do when I don’t have my parents to help!

In all this, I feel very sorry for Ads. I can understand how he feels (which is the only reason that I can put up with his temper tantrums….well…..not all the time….but 50% of the time!) Three years of monopolizing his parents’ time and affections only to see them playing and cuddling with another baby can be tough on a 3-year old. He did tell me a couple of times to throw Y into the garbage. And it still irritates him to see me holding her. He always orders me to hand her over to someone else; and promptly gets onto my lap so that Y can’t come near me!

But he has never tried to harm her or treat her roughly, which I am thankful for.

What is really magical is how affectionate he is slowly becoming, towards Y. She is like a plush toy that he loves to cuddle and kiss. She wails and cringes when he comes close because he squeezes her too hard ;-) But I just know that he will be the most terrific sibling and she will be lucky to have such a gentle and caring elder brother. He’s going through the terrible/tiresome 3’s at the same time that he has become an elder brother, so life is bound to be tough. But for the sake of our sanity, I hope things settle down soon.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Hurray for Freecycle!

So I had been thinking, for the last couple of weeks, that Yukta could do very well with an activity gym. She has been so active lately and I have been a little remiss in giving her the requisite tummy time. But I've always felt that kids' gear is the most appalling waste of money, especially as most of them get utilized only for a few months. We have been fortunate with Yukta in that all of her gear has been donated by friends, and I will in turn hand them down to someone else. Her bassinet, rocker and car seat are all hand-me-downs and we got the stroller and bouncy seat at an unbeatable price at a Bay Area resale event.
I posted a WANTED request on the Sunnyvale freecycle forum and got 2 responses within a couple of days! I picked one offered by a lady in Sunnyvale, a short 10 minute drive from our place. It's a brand new activity gym, just what I wanted. And the best part is that Y loves it. Plonk her down on it and she is good for atleast 30 minutes :)
Freecycle ROCKS. Given how many toys Advaith has been receiving lately, I sorted and set aside a small pile of toys to be freecycled and I need to post them on the forum sometime soon.

And my daddy's name is....

That's what Yukta calls S. I have to record "Agoo" as the first word she spoke.
Her brightest smiles, coos and gurgles are all reserved for him. She is definitely daddy's little girl.

Thursday 1 January 2009

And it's a Happy New Year (or so we hope...)

2009 is here. It's been the quietest New Year's Eve we've ever had. Not that we get upto any rambunctious partying to bring in the new year, but this year was quieter than most. Both the kids are sick - Advaith with a bad cold/cough following his bronchitis, and Yukta suffering from mild fever after the load of vaccines she received yesterday.

Last year at the same time, we had just landed back in Sunnyvale after a tiring but wonderful trip to Mexico. I spent most of the 31st and 1st doing laundry! S pointed out that 2008 has been the only year since we were married that we haven't travelled anyplace. No boarding flights, no staying in hotels. No overnight trips except for a weekend in Watsonville in October. I got pregnant in February and spent the next 2 months in a haze of fatigue and morning sickness. We did a lot of day trips in the summer, which were a lot of fun. In September, Advaith started preschool and my parents arrived. Yukta came into our lives in November.

It's been a good year.

Let's see what 2009 brings. Resolutions for the new year: a) Lose the baby weight and b) Be more PATIENT (I've made this resolution every year since 1999 with little headway!)