Wednesday 26 August 2009

Thank God the 3s are finally over

We missed the terrible twos. Endured the terrible threes with great difficulty and hope the fours aren't Formidable, Frightening or Fearsome! I took Ads to Costco and bought him a police costume which he was very thrilled with. He wangled a post-lunch ice-cream sandwich from me saying that "How can this be my birthday if there is no cake?!!"
In the evening, we rounded off a quiet 4th birthday with dinner at his favourite restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes, a soup-and-salad bar.

Monday 24 August 2009

A fun party is over

S and I had to pop a Tylenol before bed last night. What a day it was! Very tiring, very hectic but, in the end, a LOT of fun. I've always had some reservations about my ability to throw and manage a successful party. But all it took is some (ok, a lot!) of hard work and some intense organization over the last couple of weeks. Takeaway: Fun dos are not the perogative of the highly imaginative or the extremely creative (neither of which I am!); plodders like me can do just as well by adopting some party best practices and weaving them all together in an elegant manner (with a little help from Google of course). For example, although we hosted the party in a park (which might seem to preclude the need for organizing any party games and the like), we also sensed the need to keep 15+ kids occupied for 3 hours. Enter juice and fruit to snack on to stave off hunger pangs before lunch and cake; colouring pages to keep the quieter ones happy; individual bubblemakers (always a big hit); a tent for them to wander in and out of (though I would have done better to stock it with some toys); and two organized games which occupied almost half an hour.
The killer app, so to speak, was the venue itself. Agnew is a little-known park tucked away in the heart of Santa Clara, large enough not to feel crowded, but small enough to give the effect of a private space. The 5 picnic tables which we commandeered were in a very shady spot - an oasis of coolness on a hot summer day. The lunch arrived piping hot and delicious. The cake was suitably sickeningly sweet and thickly frosted and therefore a hit with the kids.
We had a ton of help in the form of willing volunteers who shepherded the kids to the games (and kept them there!), cut the cake, picked up and served lunch, clicked the pictures and generally allowed S and me to circulate and speak atleast a few sentences with each guest (quite a challenge considering the large number of people we had invited).
S and I got up bright and early and were at the park at 7.45 am. Santa Clara park tables are not reservable. They are available only on a first-come first-served basis which means that you need to land up early and make sure no one else is there before you. It took us about an hour to do the initial set-up - cleaning the tables, spreading the tablecloths, unpacking the snacks, cutlery, plates etc, and getting started on the decorations. At 8.45, S left to pick up the balloons and also his dad who would stand guard while we rushed back home to get ready and pick up my m-i-l and the kids. The party start time was 10 am and we were about 10 mins late in reaching the park, more than confident that our first guests would not arrive until 10.30 am but we were wrong! Bhavana (a school friend) and her husband and daughter were already there and were instantly at work putting finishing touches to the decorations. By 10.30 as expected, the crowd started to wander in and Ads was running all over the place in a frenzy of excitement. As people greeted him, I found him going straight for the gifts without even saying hello-thank you and I was trying to keep up with him and ensure he displayed some basic manners.
At 11.15 or so we started on the games. I played a bit role mostly on the sidelines while some friends and cousins took the leading roles and managed the unenviable task of keeping a bunch of excited 3-5 year olds in line and organized. The first game was a variation of pinning the tail on the donkey. In keeping with the party's firefighter theme, we tried pinning the badge on the fireman's helmet. Some of the kids were enthused enough to want multiple shots at sticking the badge in the correct place.
The next game was a simple one - we arranged a lot of small goodies on the ground and each kid had to throw a hoop over the goody that they wanted. Each kid was allowed 3 tries. It was hard because the hoop kept bouncing off the ground and anyway most the kiddos obviously had lousy aims. So we ended up asking each kid which gift they wanted, moving that item close to them so that it would be easy for them to throw the hoop over that item. It was hilarious watching my son, Mr. Easy-Way-Out, stand right over the toy car that he wanted, bend down and carefully place the hoop over it!
S was insistent that we get all the kids together with Ads on one side of the table as we cut the cake. He said it "looks very cute". I agreed, but it's a nightmare squeezing 15 or so kids all together on one side of a picnic table. I was actually planning to stay out of the cake-cutting and let my in-laws do the honours. Somehow in the chaotic moments leading up to the grand finale, I found myself right next to Ads and poor S was left out of the picture. He has been a little miffed with me for losing it and leaving him looking like a bystander. I wonder why the cake-cutting ceremony always becomes a little crazy. It's like people get into a sugar-deficient frenzy and start singing "Happy Birthday to you" before the birthday boy or girl is even ready to do their bit.
Anyway, these kind of parties are always a blast. But infinitely exhausting for the parents. Yesterday I thought -" Never again, it's too much work". But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself thoroughly. During one of the games, my camera suddenly died on me. Try as I might, I kept getting all sorts of error messages. Rather than fiddle futilely with it, I decided that I would look at the short cute excited people in front of me and no matter if we don't have pictures - I will imprint the happy memories of that sunny afternoon in my mind. Hopefully Ads will look back fondly at the memories we created yesterday.

And she finally looks like a girl!

Or so we hope. I am getting a little sick of everyone asking me "how old is he?" when talking about Y. We got her ears pierced today and she cried quite a bit, but cheered up pretty quickly once the ordeal was over. She is now wearing a pair of pink daisy-shaped 18k gold earrings.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Party planning

The food has been ordered - rotis, mutter paneer, chole, raita and veg pulao. The cake too, a massive concoction from Costco that is supposed to feed 48 people (white cake with chocolate mousse filling and white buttercream icing) has been ordered (at 18 bucks, it's the cheapest by a long shot and it actually tastes as yummy as anything ordered from another bakery/store). Balloons too have been organized (all we have to do is pick up a dozen or so inflated balloons on the morning of the party). Yesterday S picked up a large carton of water bottles from Costco, as also large bottles of juice and chips to feed the hungry hordes. I have a large suitcase packed with party favors, decorations, cutlery, utensils, party hats and the like. Two simple party games have been planned. Bubblemakers have been purchased. I spent most of Saturday morning wrapping the return gifts and affixing thank-you notes to each gift. I had bought a large carton of paper collage scraps from Michaels and used the beautiful printed sheets of paper to make the Thank you notes.
Now I can just kick back my heels and relax until Saturday - if I could just shake off that feeling that I have forgotten something major!

Thursday 13 August 2009

My movie buff

It's almost a relief when I am left alone in the house with Y. It turns out that those are the only times when I can truly DO NOTHING. Not that I have a choice. I would love to accomplish a few things on my mile-long to-do list but Y ensures that she monopolizes my attention. She has the knack of getting into trouble. Pieces of plastic, scraps of paper, bits of food dropped by Ads which have escaped my notice -- all of these find her way into her mouth. I need to keep an eagle eye on her to ensure that she doesn't choke or strangle herself. Multi-tasker that I am, I tried (and was foiled) at these activities that I tried to do with her around:
1. Reading. She starts clutching at, and tearing the pages of the book/magazine. She is really quick and really good at this. I seldom react quickly enough to prevent the page from being torn, though I have become adept at flicking the papers out of her hand before she swallows it.
2. Working on the laptop. If I sit down at the table, she pulls herself up to a standing position using my leg and wails inconsolably until I pick her up. Once she is within strking distance of the keyboard, all hell breaks loose.
3. Talking on the phone. She doesn't like this. Period.
4. Cooking. What a joke!
5. Laundry. This is actually no problemo, since it takes just a few minutes for an expert like me to throw stuff into the washer. I can definitely distract her for that length of time.
6. Folding clothes. And have her unfold them as rapidly as I fold? No way.
7. Eating. Do-able, as long as I am holding my plate or bowl over my head. No fun for me, as you can imagine.
Funnily enough, the one thing that my cinema-aficionado doesn't mind me doing, is watching a movie. Because she can then watch it with me (yeah yeah I know children under 2 shouldn't watch any TV --which jerk made that one up?). So, when we are alone together, we watch movies! What kind of a mother have I become?


It has been a crazy busy last couple of months. Between studying (or trying to), starting to hunt for a part-time nanny (no success there), working@ Benetech, managing home and the two kids and now getting started on the planning for Ads 4th birthday party, it appears that I have been running along on some buried reserves of adrenalin.
We celebrate Ads' birthday on the 22nd of August at a park in Santa Clara. We have invited 38 adults and 18 kids. 56 people in all! Since my in-laws leave the country on the 28th, this party is more of a social get-together where they bid goodbye to all the relatives living in the Bay Area. Then there are Ads' school friends, and our friends, all of whom have similarly-aged children whom Ads knows and likes. Two and a quarter years after moving to the Bay Area, we are building up quite a network.
Today Y had her 9-month checkup. The doctor has proclaimed her healthy and possessing very advanced motor skills for her age. But she is still tiny. She is way down the scale in terms of weight but the doctor didn't seem concerned. He claims it's a mix of various factors - racial (South Asians are leaner than Caucasians/Blacks), genetic (he says both parents and sibling are so slim, he doesn't expect Y to be chubby), and the fact that she is super-duper active. Always on the go and burns her calories at a blistering pace. I know I shouldn't be too concerned given that she is a healthy baby but she is in the 2nd percentile in terms of weight. That's ridiculous!!! She started off as a heavier-than average baby so I can't help beating myself over this aspect -- I'm sure that somehow it's all my fault. Mommy-guilt strikes again!!!

Saturday 8 August 2009

Y at 9 mos

Y turned the 3/4th of a year landmark a couple of days ago. She has two teeth and a third one coming in, and today she took her first independent steps -- two of them! It is as thrilling this time around as it was with Ads.