Friday, December 5, 2008

Bit of a break

There are so many things I want to write about, but taking a bit of a break now thru the end of the month. A little swamped with work.

But soon to come are updates on T1 - she turned 7 Nov 24th, and will be continuing the story of Pup and me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Sis-U pointed me to Sathyanarain's and Sanjay's blogs, and I've blacked out my header condemning the Mumbai terrorist attacks...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Silk, Linen or Pearl or will it be Japan??

According to, you traditionally celebrate the twelfth anniversary with Silk, or keep it Modern with Linen/Pearl, or...Travel to Japan!

Interesting! There is a good possibility that we may go to Japan next Summer, and since we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary today, that's perfect!!
Todays's family celebration included Madagascar-2 and a quick dinner at Uno's. Tuesday was a Holiday for both Pup and me. So we had a nice breakfast together after dropping the girls off. We Yoga-ed a 30 minute routine from on-demand, and went to the mall and shopped to re-stock our closets with clothes a size or two lesser - YAY!!

12 years together. Actually more than 17 if you start counting from the time we started having a "thing" for each other.

Most of my friends tease me as having had a "child marriage" or at least one that was decided when I was still a kiddo! That's what happens when you have aunts who have nothing better to do :)
Sorry athai (aunt)!
But in your defense, it did work out well...

So one day, when I was supposedly studying for upcoming exams, I overheard a conversation between my aunt and mom. My aunt was suggesting that Pup and I will be a good match for each other! What the??? Did I hear it right through the closed door?
I leaned closer...and much to my surprise, it was true!
How was I supposed to react? I was only 15! I assumed they were casually talking and disregarded it, even though conversations like this did not happen casually in our house-hold...

I had forgotten all about it with the craziness of my 10th board exams. And, with no more such talk, I didn't think much of it. But I started checking Pup out everytime he visited, or we visited them.
Our families have known each other forever. My mom and his mom practically grew together, AND, pup's brother was engaged to my cousin (said aunt's daughter) at that time.
So our families met often, and more checking out and unconscious flirting happened...
Hey! That's what all 16 year-olds do anyways! I just happened to focus on the one!!

So, how did this casual flirting develop into a 12th anniversary?
Stay tuned for the story of us...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Living with Food Allergies


This is part of the chain of posts to raise Food Allergy Awareness, started by Tara of Winkie's Ways.

T1 was barely a few days old when we noticed patches of dry, red skin caused by eczema. Our pediatrician, Dr.N suggested that we try and keep her skin as moist as possible with a topical application of Eucerin or Cetaphil. We did as we were told. But her eczema was only getting more rampant. That's when Dr.N suggested that I avoid milk, nuts and eggs, since I was exclusively nursing her. I did that. We did not see a dramatic difference, but I continued to follow the restrictions in my diet...
She also suggested we do a skin test to check for food allergies before starting solid food. There can be many causes for infantile eczema, food allergies being just one of those. In our case, that WAS the reason as we soon found out. When T1 was 7 months old, we did a comprehensive food test on her tiny back, since her arms were not big enough. She tested positive for Wheat, Oats, Potatoes, most Tree Nuts (including cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans) and Peanuts. We were naturally devastated as much as we were terrified.
Fortunately, she outgrew most of these (except nuts) by the time she was 2.

To-date, we are thankful to Dr.N for suggesting the test. With food allergies, the smartest thing to do is to stay away from the allergen as long as you can. Had we not tested and learned of her allergens, I am sure we would have made things worse for her. Especially with wheat! There is no way I'd have otherwise known to avoid wheat and oats!

Until we tested her, the eczema probably never got better because I'd been eating different forms of wheat when nursing her almost exclusively.
Sometimes I wonder if nursing her really helped her immune system, or if it made her immune system so powerful that it started treating even normal food as allergens, and basically making matters worse??!! Your two cents??

If an allergen triggers an anaphylactic reaction, it starts right away. But other symptoms including hives, rash, or stomach disturbances can start 2-3 days later. So, as much as we were excited to try out new foods, we waited and went by the book.
We were very, very, very particular when trying any new food. We started in small doses and continued for a whole week. No less!
As a matter of fact, we kept with this trend even after her first year. We had the food allergy results with us, so why did we do this? Because all of these food tests have false positives and false negatives. JA!!!
Usually, treenuts show better results with the skin test, peanuts with the blood test. Elimination and Re-introduction with careful supervision is probably a good way to test for food allergies.

We've learned a lot of things about managing food allergies and being on top of it. A lot of posts in this chain have listed a bunch of DOs and DONTs, and TIPS and TRICKS from Dottie, PG, Sue, Kiran, etc...
I have myself written a few posts on T1's allergies - here, here, and here.

So, for my part this time around, I'll primarily write about Reading Labels. While some Food Allergy labels are informative, some are very, very confusing and seem like they've been added as a "cover your a$$".
There are so many different variations of the same disclaimers. Some of the popular notes include -

"Manufactured in the same facility that uses nuts"
"Manufactured in shared equipment that uses nuts"
"May contain tree-nuts or peanuts"

"Manufactured in the same facility that uses nuts" makes a lot of sense because some people can have react to an allergen if it's "In the air."
So these folks have to really stay away from such products.

"Manufactured in shared equipment that uses nuts" is another of the informative messages that I did not know the real meaning for a long time. The possibility of contamination from shared equipment is exponentially more when they are "Dry-cleaned" as opposed to being rinsed with water.
If they are "dry-cleaned" there is a good possibility of nuts sticking in those unreachable corners. Especially Chocolate!! It may take a few batches to absorb all those remnant nuts before making totally nut-free chocolate. Ever since I learned that, I've completely stopped taking chances with chocolate.

In a FAAN meeting with Anne Munoz-Furlong (The founder and then CEO) as the Key-Speaker, she mentioned that if enough people call and request for nut-free chocolate, the manufactures will pay heed - apparently that's how you get disclaimer-free M&Ms in Canada!! The power of consumers!

"May contain tree-nuts or peanuts" is just too vague. If you've noticed, even Maggi has started adding these labels on! How frustrating! T1 loves Maggi, and I continue giving it to her, but I'm so scared and watchful each time. I should probably stop!
What's the deal with Trader Joe's?? As much as I love the store, I hate that they add these "You Can't Sue me Now" disclaimers! I mean from sandwiches to broth, their products May contain Shellfish and Nuts!!!
What next? Bagged spinach that May contain nuts?

I decided to keep a positive tone, and will stop my frutstration with labels at that!!
Oh, while I'm talking about Disclaimers, I'd like to add that this post is completely based on my experiences and to be taken with a pinch of salt (Hopefully we'll continue to find Salt with no nuts).
The other thing that I want to mention is being a member of an Allergy Network.
Being a part of my county's chapter of FAAN has helped us a lot. With regular meetings, we get to learn from other people's experiences. It's a good support group for each other. The founding members have worked VERY hard with the school board to stream-line rules and bring about a scripted "Health Plan." It's still in baby stages, but at least there is something in the works. We have had two amazing Halloween parties with completely safe food (aka none). They have also organized many play-groups, which I never had a chance to be a part of. But my point is that a support group like this has helped us in many ways. I learn something new every time I attend a meeting. There is a whole bunch of people who go through so much more than I do and have done it wonderfully so!

Finally, a note about treatments. There is no proven allopathic treatment on record. Yes, there are allergy shots for seasonal allergies, but they are so intrusive, and not even reliable! There are remedies that contain the symptoms, but nothing that really claims to cure - EXCEPT when you take the Alternative Route, that is!
Again, these are from my own experiences -
We have been treating T1 with BioSet for about 2 months now. As far as BioSet practitioners are concerned, they use intolerences and allergies interexchangably. The practitioners check the energy flow of any susbstance using its unique wavelength (Pup's Quantum Mechanics ken agrees with that logic). They sorta create a "circuit" using the substance they test against. If there is a block, the circuit is not complete. That's how they decide if must be treated.
Sounds far-fetched? We decided to try it nevertheless.
My niece, D took the treatment from the same doc and her Wheat allergies just went from +ve to -ve in a week, leaving her regular Allergist totally perplexed!! That's when I became a believer.

Both the test and the treatment are totally non-intrusive. All T1 has had to do is hold this metal rod wrapped in a wet paper-towel and chat away to glory for 15 minutes! Wait! The chatting away is nothing new to her!

We have so far attempted to treat outdoor allergens like mold, weed, pollen, trees etc. I do not know if this Fall's outdoor allergens were mild or if the treatment is working - but we haven't used a Nebulizer for T1 ALL season (Casting Anti-jinx Spells). She still has an itchy, runny nose...but nowhere close to what she endured last year!!
We've just started with foods this past week...
At the end of it, even if we do not have a cure for her food allergies, we are hoping that accidental exposures will not harm her much. That's good enough for us.

I'll end this note with this link to Dr.Sears' notes on Food Allergies.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How cool is that??

I was in Chicago last week for a couple of days to attend an Oracle Developer User-Groups conference. Apart from running from one session to another, and trying to cover more than one session at the same time, I got to meet some Oracle Gurus up close. I've been commenting as GND in the PL/SQL Evangelist, Steven Feuerstein's blog, and had mentioned that I'd stop by and say hello. Which I did.
Later during lunch, he occupied an empty seat in the same table as mine. So we got chatting, and I found out he's a vegetarian too, for different reasons though. He sticks to a vegetarian diet more for health, and I'm one cos that's how I've been raised. And, its one thing I haven't been able to change...
Anyways, had this conversation -
Me: "Steven, Whatever your answer is, please say Yes."
SF: "OK!"
Me: "Have you ever stopped by my blog?"
SF: "I'm sorry, No! But that's because I only read 2-3 blogs on a regular basis..."
Didn't you hear a word I said?? You could've just humored me and said 'Yes' like I requested...Sigh!!

I do know his time is more valuable than reading my rants :)

The next day, I stopped by to ask him a question on one of his sessions. After answering my question, he told me -
SF: "Oh, by the way, I took a look at your blog yesterday. So, you have two girls, huh?"
I was bowled! How cute is that?? In the midst of prepping for a whole slew of 1-2 hour sessions, he took the time to visit my blog!
I don't remember what I said to him, but I hope it was not something stupid!!!!

Belated Wishes

Here's wishing everyone a long-overdue "Happy Deepavali"!!

I remember a few years ago, even before kids, I told Pup, "This coming so-and-so day is Deepavali." He said, "Oh? OK!"
And that was it. Most years, a quick prayer, and some fruits took care of most of our festivities, including Deepavali! Not very proud of slacking in our traditions, but come to think of it, I think I lost interest way back...When we all started growing up and moving out!

In our younger days, Deepavali used to be such a grand affair. My mom and grandma with some help from my 2 aunts (dad's sisters), made enough "bakshanam" (a.k.a. goodies) and "marunthu" to last our huge families for weeks - 10 kids and about 8 adults. The shopping for clothes, the crackers, the obscene amount of bakshanam we ate without a worry about loading carbs, calories, or fats...sigh! Fun days they were!!
All of my cousins came over to our place and we had a blast! Literally, during Deepavali...I'm just going to say "Diwali" now - easier to type ;)

Slowly, everyone started growing up, out-of-state colleges happened, then weddings happened and it was simply not the same anymore!!

That is really not an excuse for not having the Diwali spirit, I know! When either set of parents visit us, we do celebrate very well. By celebrate I mean eat a lot, buy new clothes, and eat some more.

I did buy new clothes this year, for the girls at least. It was Sunday before Diwali, and we went to I-HOP for breakfast, like we do every few weeks...On our way back, we decided to celebrate Diwali. When we got back home, made a paste of "nalangu", applied it on the girls feet and then applied some oil while murmuring a "Thank-you God for Everything" prayer. This was really exciting for the girls...

While T1 and T2 were having a bath, I attempted to make the ever-popular 7-cup cake, which turned out to be neither 7-cups nor a cake :)
I decided to reduce the 3-cups of sugar to 2, reduced 1 cuppa ghee to a little less than 3/4, added maida and besan in my own quantities...
The only thing that was true to its measure was the milk.
Oh, and my cups were not really "Cups"...they measured maybe 2/3 of a cup, so I made just enough :)
Could I change the recipe anymore???
I know it all right?

But the joke was on me. The 7-cup cake turned out to be a Whatchamacallit Halwa. I was too scared to let it sit on the stove for too long. So I promptly removed it right after the concoction stopped sticking to the sides - hence the halwa consistency. But it tasted pretty good! T1 "tried" and finished one, which is great - she is very resistant to trying new things. T2 gulped most of the 20 or so pieces over 2-3 days, and against our will, so did Pup and I.

I must have sounded totally obnoxious to a few people by how I shuddered at adding all that ghee! Really!! Come to think of it, over the past few years, I have either made Kheer or chakra pongal, or those quick n easy microwave-cooked halwas (carrot halwa, beetroot halwa, chikoo halwa...), neither of which really require more than a teaspoon of ghee...
Or I've conveniently used store-bought goodies and ignored the fact

Bygones..cooked and eaten! Enjoyed while it lasted!

So ya, that was our Diwali this year.

Happy Halloween!

I'm always running behind on posts that I want to it's no surprise that I'm wishing you now, few days after the fact...
Happy Halloween!

Ours started off a week before the Big day with a no-food, no-candy Halloween Party organized by members in our county's chapter of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The main idea was to enjoy Halloween without having to stress about allergic reactions.
I offered to volunteer, though for the most part all I did was read emails going back and forth.
It was amazing to see the spirit some of these people have.
One had ordererd 50 medium-sized pumpkins and 50 sets of glue-it pumpkin decorations, another made 50 goody bags that kids could decorate,
one had put together a ghost poop race using packing peanuts (that's the only kind of nuts we'd see in our Party :)
and so much more!!
We decided to bring in something to drink - water, apple and grape juices, which were my contribution.
The venue being a Public library, all the children quietly paraded around before picking out their "Treats".
Again, no-food treats...but such amazing stuff, including halloween pencils, stickers, tatoos, straws, skeletons and so much more!
Over all, it was a wonderful 2 hours of fun...

I was in Chicago for a couple of days last week for a conference.
Busy (fun-busy) two days! Got to meet some Amazing Gurus in my field, up close!
The girls were completely co-operative and made it easy for dad to have a smooth sailing.
Dad outdid himself and held the fort effortlessly.
Mommy's now thinking she should do these things more often ;)
Seriously, I think it did us all some good and has made us appreciate each other more.

But I got back in time for the big day!

I was quite excited too, to get dressed up and all...
I was this witch-dracula person...or whatever it is you call someone with a cape and an evil-eye make-up!!
T1 and T2 were Minnie-mouse at the Allergy Network Party.
T1 changed her mind at the last minute and wanted to be like mommy.
So we put together a costume using a dupatta as a cape, a black velvet dress and some glittery make-up.
T2 remained as Minnie mouse, although she was Ariel at her school's Halloween party.
Yeah! We are big on Disney!!

So we paraded around the Court with Chip, Dottie and a few other kids in the block, while Pup stayed home distributing (no-nut) candy to our neighborhood kids...
We ended the evening playing (Pup and me struggling, actually) Rock Band at Dottie's.

That was our Halloween 2008.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kumon, I bid thee adieu...

I'm really fed up of being the bad guy!
From the kids' point of view.
I want to have fun with the girls, not spend a good part of the 180 minutes that I get with them every evening asking them to "do this and that", or "NOT do this or that"!

The bad act from me starts soon after we get home and sit on the table to have their milk and snack. They longingly look at my neighbor's yard, which is a direct view from our dining room. My neighbor's daughter, M, and a couple of other new kids in the block are having fun playing in their swing or simply running around...while two little girls of this working mom are scurrying their snack down, and getting ready to start homework.

To ease my guilt, I can't help but wonder, "Didn't I just pick up T1 from her after-school care, where she spent close to 2 hours playing, even had some gymnastics lessons-which she LOVES!
Didn't I pick up T2 from the huge play-ground in her pre-school"?

Here's the problem - we have the whole thing reversed! Fun first, get home tired, THEN complete HW.

OK!! Here's our schedule -

5.00 - pick up kids and reach home
5.00-5.30 - quick wash-up, feed em a snack (start cooking dinner).
5.30-6.45 - Kumon and homework and music/keyboard practice.
6.45-7.30 - Dinner
7.30-8.00 - Brush, wash-up, read and get ready for bed.

As you can see, there is really no minute to spare. And most days, with the two of them goofing around and having fun (???) in between this schedule, bedtime ends up getting pushed to almost 8.30pm.
What difference will 30 minutes do, you ask?? It shows the next morning!! That's what. If they are in bed by 8.00, they are both well-rested and wake up by themselves or with little help. Else, it's a tough chore, esply with T2.

We're basically over-worked every single day and try as we may, there are hardly any real fun-family-moments! And did I add the cooking, cleaning, and a broken dishwasher that we haven't had the time to replace?

So What's gonna give?

Plan A: Kumon Reading!
Plan B: Kumon Math AND Reading!

As far as I know, NO Plan A has ever worked. So I'm not even going to try.

So, as of 15 minutes ago, Pup and I have agreed to stick to Plan B.
It's happening next week.
After tomorrow's Kumon Ceremony!
After she gets a Trophy each for Math and Reading.
For being ahead of her Grade Level.
For working SO DARN hard every single day, with complaints or without.
For putting on a bright happy face to make it less of a deal.
For talking to her mind (or brain as she says) and making it come around and cheer up when she's not willing to do Kumon.
For doing all of this because she blindly trusts us.

Freedom from Kumon!! Just saying it makes me feel de-stressed.
I think she deserves this freedom! We can do more fun things and still learn some math along the way.

And maybe she can even step out on a weekday to play with her our neighbor M.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And the Moral of the Story is...?

Moral of the story is...Well I can't decide really. It can be one of the following -

  1. Routines are for a reason - don't disrupt mine. I need amma in the mornings and appa in the evenings.
    Mommy drops me off, daddy picks me up. Could I be any more clear?

  2. I think I may be making a switch to becoming mama's girl (dreaming on).

So which one is it?

Here's the "Story"...
Story within quotes because I'm quoting T2.
When I ask her about her day, she tells me something like this -
"In the first story, I ate pancakes for lunch".
"In the other story, Megan pushed Emma." (making up names).

Or, when I ask her if she slept well, She says -
"In the first story, I saw dinosaurs and it was so bloodishy..."
(Esply if we happened to read the Dinosaurs book at bedtime).

This girl here has taken the famous Shakespearen wisdom from "As you like it" that All the World's a Stage, a bit too literally.
But, she never ceases to crack me up everytime she does that!

Ok, back to the Story...It's a short one...

Our regular weekday routine is for daddy to leave in the wee hours of morning while the rest of the house is still sleeping.
Mommy then wakes up reluctantly, gets ready and then gets the girls ready for school by 7.20
After throwing some anti-jinx charms here, I boldly say that T2's morning tantrums are getting SO much better.
I am able to reason with her and prevent her from crying out loud almost all the time...
Other than my constant reminders to the girls to "GET MOVING", mornings are not much of a deal anymore.
After I manage to wake up, that is.

Unless, mommy and daddy switch roles. Then it's a completely different morning for all of us.
Daddy can't enjoy his quiet mornings,
mommy loves the extra hands and the extra sleep,
T1 loves it that Daddy is dropping her off,
but T2?
T2 behaves differently. She is thrilled to see daddy in the morning, but she gives daddy a hard time with everything!
The clothes, the bath, the brushing, the breakfast...(not in that order, of course)!!
And she wants daddy to do all of that, but not really!?

It's not easy for daddy either, who's completely spoilt with the peaceful mornings.

So what is it?
Do you think T2 is such a stickler to routine that as much as she loves having daddy in the mornings, she can't handle the change?
Or Is it true that my little shim-shim (one of my popular no-meaning endearments for the girls) is finally becoming a true mommy's girl?

I don't care what the truth is! I'm sticking with the second!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Milk, Cows and an Address

In an attempt to make the girls think laterally, T1 mostly, I've been throwing random questions at them...
Mostly math questions for T1. She can do addition and multiplication quite well, but I don't know if she knows why or when to use them...Hence this exercise.
My most common application involves apples - adding them and dividing them for a said number of people.

Yesterday, I was following a book to ask questions and I tried to see if they remember something they had seen about a year or two ago in an episode of Little Einsteins.

So I asked, "What's Milky way?"
T1 said, "It's part of an address!!"
T2 Promptly answered, "What comes from cows, amma!!!"

Need I say more??

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The GM Diet Changed me!

A few weeks ago, I decided to do the GM diet after a two-liner request from cuz-P.
She said in the subject, "Do you want to do this?"
The Body of the email had a link explaining the diet, and she added, "I want company!"
That's it! The only question was when do we start this? I am at a point where I am desperate to lose more weight. But the "detoxifying effect" in the GM Diet intrigued me too.
A typical rule of the thumb for a healthy weight-loss is to get rid of a pound a week. Maybe 2. But the 10-17 pounds that the GM Diet claims you can lose sounded far-fetched. Don't they (God knows who "they" is) say that losing so much weight so fast can alter your personality? Well, I'll know in a week's time, I thought!

So, we eagerly tagged another friend, N along. Our journey started...
Day 1: Weighed in X pounds. Started it off enthusiastically with a glass of warm water and a splash of lemon. Ate an apple a little later. Couldn't let go of my morning had a cuppa when I got to work - with creamer and Equal! What detox again?
Went to a grocery store near work to grab some cut fruits.
Whom did I run into at the store? None other than N, pushing her cart loaded with fruits. He, he. We whined about how tired we already were of this thing...Little did I know what's in store for me...
The store happened to run out of pre-boxed fruits. Disappointed, I packed a salad-bowl full of fruits from the open salad-bar. That's not the bad part. $12 (Ya, no kidding!) and 20 minutes later, I ended up trashing half my bowl, thanks to the rotten cantaloupe! I felt terrible. Just the fact that my ration halved, made me feel more hungry!!
Anyways, before I knew, the day was over with loads of watermelon and winter melon pieces...

Day 2: X-2 pounds. What a wonderful start with that baked Potato?? Mil usually gets done with cooking by 7.30, I had requested her to pop a whole potato in the cooker and she gladly did. What bliss!! Again, I cheated by eating it with some Benecol - yikes!!
I made some grilled veggies with hardly any oil, and no spices.
I took a salad with the grilled veggies to work, and a packet of microwavable veggies for a snack. I love the taste of grilled Eggplant. That smoked, burnt flavor with no extra spices to ruin the taste! Yum! I can do this all my life!
But the trio (me, cuz-P, and N) took turns whining, while the other two cheered and supported on (aka Whupped the whiner's A S S with strong words)...
This trend continued the rest of the week!
With uploads of Grilled veggies, 10 cups of water, and a few downloads (too much information??) later, we successfully ended our second day.

Day 3: X-3 Pounds. A little disappointed. Weighed myself again after a shower. Still the same! I often weigh myself 4-5 times in 10 minutes with the scale in different angles. What am I thinking? That my Mirror on the floor will tell me that I am the lightest of all? A girl can dream, can't she?

A mix of veggies and fruits today. More grilled veggies, wonder soup, and fruits (good, fresh ones, this time).

Beginning to feel different now. I mean right now, as I type this. I just did a bottoms up of Pup's drink...Don't know what it had, looked liked Mango Juice to me...
Wonder what it's spiked with!

Day 4: X-4.5 Pounds: Hey! Every ounce counts! I'm THAT desperate!
Lovely, lovely day! Bananas and milk. More bananas and milk. And some more.
You think you like bananas and milk? Try the GM Diet. Then we'll talk!
But seriously, I stopped craving for my morning coffee. And Afternoon coffee. But I had them cos of habit. I actually dumped half my afternoon coffee cos I really did not enjoy it! Hmmm....Personality beginning to change here??? Interesting!

Day 5: X-5.5 Pounds. One more pound lighter today! I could eat rice! Yippety Yip YAY!
This is the opposite of a cuss word. I was enthralled!! What could be better than eating rice after 4 long days of none??
You think? I ate less than the stipulated cup!
Really! I made a pot of tomato rasam and ate it as soup and sometimes mixed with rice. I lost interest in the 4-day old GM wonder soup, and was too lazy to make more.

Day 6: X-5.5 Pounds. Again!! No loss of weight! Must be the rice! It happened to be a festival day - Aavani avittam - the sacred-thread-changing ceremony! The only real festival for men! So loads of goodies that MIL had cooked. Being a saturday, I did not have the luxury of my GM-weight-watchers (cuz-P and N). I was on my own for the weekend!
But I behaved. Better than I thought I would. I ate a spoonful of everything that MIL had cooked, more for sentimental reasons than for cravings.

Man! That mango drink I gulped a few minutes ago was DEFINITELY spiked!

Day 7: X-5.5 pounds, again!! I have to act fast. This weekend thing was not helping! Plus the less fiber in my diet was not helping either...I felt bloated, and did not lose any weight.
Have you ever heard of watermelon juice described as beautiful? You will, now!
I drank a beautiful cup of gingered watermelon juice. Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM! And I ate less rice and more veggies hoping I'd lose some weight, and also hoping I'd get rid of the what I was eating - out, Kaput!

Day 8: Wait a minute!! The GM Diet is a 7 day gig. What was I doing on day 8? Weighing myself, of course!!
X-6.5 pounds!

That's what I lost - a whole 6.5 pounds. And for a change, around the love handles, mid-tiers, whatever you call them flabby abs!
My 5 days a week of intense workouts did not do this to me. My running did not do this to me. But the GM Diet sure did! Added with a little yoga (15-20 minutes) everyday. I have a normal BMI for the 5 feet and 8 inches of me - After more than 7 years!! I'm Thrilled beyond words. Thanks cuz-P (who also lost 7 LBs, N lost 10 LBs).

You know what? It's been more than the weight loss for me! Like I pointed out earlier, "They" say that drastic weight losses can change your personality! It sure did! A month later, I have kept off most of what I lost. And better yet, my sweet cravings have drastically gotten better! I loathe myself everytime I have to eat out now, as opposed to finding excuses to eat out.
This past week, I did not really plan well, so haven't been packing lunches => eating out. The first time in years that I have felt SO horrible about eating out! (Well, could also be the bug I saw in my sambhar today at that place - I can't get myself to call it a restaurant - Dottie gave it the perfect name, "hole-in-the-wall". It's .3 mile from my work, Usually great food, but eating there builds your resistance, if you know what I mean...)

Anyways, usually the left-over mysore-paks that I bought on Sunday for some visitors, would have been trashed into my tummy within hours. But they've been sitting there the whole week, and I finally relented and ate one yesterday (and another one today after the Spiked Mango Juice)...

So, that's it! I'm glad the GM Diet has changed me for the better and am gladder that my Morning Yoga is still going steady - not everyday,'s going. There was one day that I worked out for a laughable 4 minutes. 1 minute of surya-namsakar, 1 minute each of kapal bhatis, anulom-viloms, and regular breathing...

After our success, sis-S tried it, sis-U tried to try it, and another cuz-R and his wife J tried it too.

I myself am willing to go for another bout of this - maybe my own condensed 5-day GND-Diet. All I need is another 2-liner email from cuz-P after she gets back from her 10th Anniversary-celebration in Paris and Switzerland.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Quips...

A short and sweet note with a couple of laughs -

T1's first PJ - The poor girl has been trying hard for a while now to devise her own joke...and we, laugh along just to humor her...if not for the joke, surely for her question at the end - "Get it??"
But she finally made one up.

Why does a duck quack?

Because it can't Moo! That's why!!

I was doing a MathWizard worksheet with T2. The problem was to circle what's odd.
There was a cat, a dog, a bear, an elephant and an airplane.
T2 took a good look at it, thought for a second and confidently said, "The Animals!"
Who can argue with that?

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Week of Public School

First week of school -
Day1: The girls woke up in time and got ready with so much was unbelievable!! T1 can be such a dear if she wishes! We were ready ahead of time and promptly went to the bus stop. I was pretty darn sure, I'd be crying like crazy. But surprisingly, did not! I think I was too overwhelmed. But I did cry the weekend before when watching Mamma Mia! Esply, when the song "Slipping Through My Fingers" was playing - wasn't that the song that Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried sing just before the Wedding Day? Silly me!
Anyways, After the bus left, I drove to T2's daycare to drop her off and went off to work. I was having First-Day Jitters! I tried hard not to worry about whether or not T1 found her classroom, or if she was doing ok. I should give her more credit.
I decided to let T1 take the After-care bus without my help. I called them around 3PM to see if she got in alright and they confirmed that she was doing A-OK!
I left work at 4.00 to pick her up.
I had sent lunch from home. She forgot her lunch bag in school. No surprise there...She'll get used to it (or I will :)
Her bag's zipper was open and there was a tonne of material (forms and stuff) that could have easily slipped off.
So we had a quick talk about keeping her things in order (and she hasn't let me down since then).
Her first day was great! Ms.D read a book about First Day Jitters, and helped ease the "butterflies in their stomach" (Im sure she copied Ms.D's words). She made a couple of new friends, got familiar with the school's layout...
As a part of getting to know the kids, Ms.D had asked to send 3-5 items that best describe T1. T1 wanted to take a crayon (She loves to draw), her ice-skating camp T-Shirt, a book, and pack of go-Fish cards (she loves to play she said).
All her choices. She also wanted to add her $2 mic that we bot (cos she loves to sing) but it was a little too big to fit in the small brown bag.
By 7.30 or so, she was ready to drop.
Overall, I'd say a busy and fun first day.
Day 2: Similar morning...
We wanted her to get used to buying from the cafeteria when there was help.
But I decided to join her for lunch and familiarize with the process too.
We had pre-paid about $50 bucks into her account (which was already set up).
I went to school and arrived there a few minutes before their lunch time. The class was waiting outside the cafeteria, playing some games (moderated by Ms.D) to kill time. Soon they went in and most kids sat on the table allocated for Ms.D's class with their packed lunches, while the others (me included) formed a line to order our lunch. We stood at the very end of the line and waited.

The two veggie options were Cheese-sticks and cheese pizza (or bagel) with fruits, veggies, milk, yogurt, etc...
T1 reminded the staff there that she's allergic to nuts, and doesn't eat meat. I was a bit worried that it was like fresh news to this person. Like she did not expect it.
Anyways, she decided to take a slice of pizza, some corn, and a carton of milk, and I took the cheese sticks with apples.
After she entered her ID (aka paid), we went to pick a spot...We had to sit in the middle of the table, with all the corners occupied already.
On my way out, I mentioned to another Cafeteria staff about her allergies and that we were told that she would be sitting in one corner of the table, etc...
And again, she told me that she had no idea about her allergies! I'm sure its too early to put a face to the names they must have been given, but it looked like she did not even have a list!
I was disappointed...and promptly sent an email to the Principal and Ms.D expressing my concerns.
Later on Day2: Heard from the Principal that she will discuss the issue with the Clinic Aide and get back to me.
Day 3: One of the first emails I got was from the Principal. She had reviewed our health plan and discussed it with the teacher to make sure T1 will be in the corner of the table. And, the class teacher had formally informed the cafeteria staff about T1's allergies.
Of course, part of the responsibility is in T1's hands to make sure she requests to be seated in a corner, and never to share any food in the first place!
And the bigger responsibility is on us to remind her time and again (as we have been doing the past few years) until it becomes second nature to her!

I knew I had good reason to lose sleep the past two weeks.

Day 4: Got a note from Ms.D asking to sign a consent to give lollipops to T1 as an occassional treat. I have two issues here.
i) Why Lollipops as Treats??? Kids love stickers and stamps! Wouldn't that suffice?
ii) Since when did lollipops have nuts? Have I managed to become an unpopular parent for worrying about my daughter's safety??? In less than 4 days????

Risking more unpopularity, I asked Ms.D these questions. NO! Not in the same words!
I asked her how often the kids will be treated with Lollipops, and asked her where she gets them treats from!
She replied back saying that it will not be very often (If the kids do something above and beyond expectations). And she sent me a link to the store and kind of lollipops she buys.
Actually, turns out there is a small note at the end of the website link she sent that says "Product may contain traces of peanuts". So that's that!

She was genuinely concerned! I was over-reacting!! I read the entire page umpteen times before seeing this note!!

So, no lollipops for my dear baby...Will have to send in something else from home...

Other than that, the rest of the week went by fast and without new incidents. She loves her school and after-care, and we love it that she loves it.

Mommy's now a much less nervous wreck than she was a week ago...and eagerly looking forward to the new school year!

Need a break or I'll break!

You have NO idea how over-worked my mind is/ has been the past few weeks!
And it's about T1 starting Public School...

Why would this be SO different from her Kindergarten?
These were my thoughts before the open house and back to school nite...not in any particular order!
1. It's a totally new place.
2. It's much much bigger than her other school.
They prolly have to walk a mile each day getting from one class to another, to the cafetaria, the gym, the playground, etc...
(No, I am NOT complaining about the walking part, just trying to bring out the vastness of the school).
3. Completely new faces, from the teacher to her classmates, to the Principal...
4. Eating at the cafetaria. All I had to do last year was sit down with her, go over the veggie menu and let her pick the days she wanted us to buy from school. Then the teachers it served to them...
Now, on the other hand, she has to memorize her ID and use it on the key-pad if she were buying lunch
(At least we have the option to pre-pay, and she does not have to handle money...)
5. Logistics of how the heck am I going to get both kids ready by 7.20 and rush to the bus-stop!
(At that point, all I knew was an estimate of the bus-arrival time).
At least now, my in-laws are here and I can leave T2 home and drop T1 and come back, in the worst case...
But what happens after this month?? (T2 usually wakes up around 7.30...if it's 8.00 she loves it better)!
Just doesn't make sense for Pup to leave so late everyday...
Traffic's a b i t c h around here. Even 15 minutes make a huge difference for his already long commute, so 2hrs certainly will.
Also, I'd rather we spend more time together in the evening...
6. And if I have to make the mornings work, I have to get them to bed by 8.00! Which means I have to be up by 5.00 (if I have any intentions of continuing my already getting-fewer kapal bhatis).
And this also means dinner at 6.30 and start bed-time routine at 7.30. And somewhere in there squeeze in HWs and Kumon and 15-minute reading...
Talk about life-style change!
7. Travel changes for her - taking one bus to school in the morning, take another to after-care in the evening.
8. Not forgetting to bring back her backpack or her lunchbag or HW! (I was sure I'd have to buy at least 10 new lunch bags this year)...
Even the previous years, it's been her responsibility, but we picked her up from school, so we were able to check her bag and make sure everything was there...
9. New academic structure, new HW patterns, etc...
10.Her food and seasonal allergies, of course! This is prolly what has been my biggest cause for concern!
How much can I educate her? How can I bring every possible situation to her attention? Or even know what to tell her?
Everyone has been telling me how vocal she is and how she's going be fine...
But as true as it is, it is not really true! Does that even make sense?
She "can" be very vocal, if she is not distracted, that is! When she's with friends or other kids, she "completely" forgets all rules!
She does not stop to think, even though we have been re-iterating it to her more than we like.
I'm almost like a "thenja" tape - a worn-out tape - playing the rules over and over again. Until I actually see her in action following the rules, I will keep telling her the rules and will keep asking her to repeat after me!
- NO SHARING - NO accepting food from other kids even if you have eaten them before, you do not know if they had peanut butter -
- NO SHARING - Wash your hands before and after eating (let's hope the other kids do it too) - NO SHARING - NO SHARING - NO SHARING.

How the Back-to-School and Open-House Events changed some of my worries -
1. It won't be totally new to her now...She's seen the entrance, her classroom, teacher, classmates, and a little bit more of the building...
2. Is is much bigger than I thought it would be! Good heavens!!
3. At least she knows her teacher and the assistant teacher now by face...and a couple of classmates that she said hi to (and sad a bit that one kid did not say hi back :)
4. I found out that her school does not do a separate table for kids with allergies! sigh! they will be made to sit at one end of the table is all...
But the cafetaria folks will know that Tanvi has Nut Allergies.
There will be helpers the first week to help the kids use the keypad to buy their food.
5. Still an issue!!
6. Still an issue!!
7. Again, volunteers will be helping to guide children in and out of school.
Her after-care center had already contacted the school to make arrangements.
Her teacher made a note of each kids' PM arrangements for the first day, as well as every regular day...
That was the most important piece of info they collected from us.
May be I'll follow her school-bus and see if she gets in ok...and then again when school closes to see if she gets in the right after-care bus.
8. Still an issue!!
9. Lots of homework to come, lots of assessments to take place...
But, most often homeworks are going to be given out on Mondays and not due until Fridays.
We'll have time. Not so bad...
10.Talked to the principal, who was very accomodating and directed me to the School clinic Aide.
She switched T1's classroom to another where there were already 2 kids with Peanut Allergies.
That was thoughtful!
Met with the school Nurse/clinic Aide (whatever she's called...), handed in the necessary paper-work and Benadryl and Epipen (hoping that it never gets used, of course).
She said the cafetaria staff and specials teachers will all have a list of the children with food allergies (and other health issues like diabetes, seizures, etc...) Goodness! Scary, innit??
Her Class teacher, Ms.D, has a lot of experience with kids having food allergies and is comfortable administering an Epi.
I volunteered to help in anyway to bring an awareness to other kids and parents. Prolly sounded like a paranoid parent! Which I was!!

I think I felt a little better after those meetings. Thanks to our Local Allergy Network for Educating me and others like me.
Even though I'm more worried now, I'm glad I have the information!!
I knew what to do, what to expect, what to request, what questions to ask - wouldn't have dreamt of asking them otherwise...
Thanks guys!!

Been done 25!!

Yay!! The rate at which I'm posting, I should be celebrating every post!!
I've successfully completed 25 Posts, thanks to my family for providing me stories to write, and my dear fellow-bloggers for consistently visiting and commenting, and for the support and advice and all that...

Here's to more...Let's get some bubbly out...

Monday, August 25, 2008

29 pokes later...

Sigh! What a long evening!! And for what? To find out that T1 has a whole slew of allergies again!
T1's home this last week of summer vacation before the hectic back to school life begins for all of us! I was working from home today, with Pup being outta town for work. I wasn't sure if I should leave T2 home with in-laws for the doc appt! I kinda had a familiar hunch that it's gonna be a while before we can get back, and mil and fil may not be able to handle T2 for that long. Esply with T2 already going through a change - transitioning to Pre-K...I wasn't sure how she'd be.
So, I picked up T2 about a quarter to five, gave her some milk, and rushed off to re-visit the almost forgotten allergist's office after 3 years!
Ya, the last time we had T1 tested was when she was about 3 1/2! She was allergic to peanuts then. There were conflicting results in blood vs. skin test for other nuts, so we pretty much stayed off of all nuts, esply after she had reactions a couple of times.
Once last summer after taking a bite of kaju katli (which she has eaten before with no problems)! And again to walnuts - once from contact, and once an accidental ingestion. Fortunately, the amount was very, less and all we needed each time was a bit of Benadryl to do the trick.

With her entering the Public schools next week, and me attending a "back-to-school" night last week with the local FAAN chapter, I started getting anxious! Too much information can be scary, don't you agree?
So, I made an appointment with the allergist right away.
And picked up T2 and reached there just in time earlier today. Seeing a full waiting room at 5.00PM is not a good sign at all! It took an hour just to see the nurse. But, the waiting room had a kewl school-bus-toy that you can sit in and play...So the hour was not bad to kill at all!
It was the next 30 minutes in the patient-room between seeing the nurse and the doc, and the 15 minutes wait after 29 pricks that were the most difficult. Not to mention the time talking to the doc to discuss the results and plan of action.
T1 was very brave when the nurse pricked in one allergen after another. She started itching though...and was not supposed to scratch, of course. So we held hands playing word games to get her mind off as I watched one prick swell up after another, while T2 was drawing away.
So, yeah! We're back to being positive for most Tree nuts (except hazelnuts).
Like I use hazelnuts everyday!
Cashews and Walnuts were huge, so were peanuts and a slew of tree-pollen, dander, mold, weeds, and cat dander.
When T1 found out she was not allergic to dogs, she told me, "I KNEW IT! See I told you?" What? When??? 6 year olds!!
At least it's one less thing to argue about - having a cat is ruled out - Yippee!!

I have now gotta meet the School Nurse and make a Health Plan - as in what to do in case of an exposure!
I've been a bit relaxed over the past few years because most of her nut-allergies were seemingly history.
So, now it's back to worrying about her safety and wellness.

The allergist recommended allergy shots - once a week for 6 weeks, and then once a month for 3-5 years! Say that again?
We're seriously contemplating going to see a doc who practices the BIOSET variation of the NAET technique. Cuz-P had amazing results last year with little D's food allergies. It's expensive, but if it works, it's worth it!

Only time will tell.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More of T2's Chronicles...

Looks like that’s pretty much it from the “Bad” series, so off to the Good times –
And, as promised (to self), I am FINALLY wrapping up the recap series on T2's fourth year.

Need the Blue
The Blue Blanky, that is. It was love at first sight (or touch). The Blue Blanky (BB) disappears every now and then for a wash. It’s a very tough separation period. And, it’s the cutest thing to see how she hugs and kisses it every time BB re-surfaces from stealth mode. Our BB is not allowed in the bathroom anymore (ya, it used to follow her everywhere)! So at times before entering the bathroom for brushing her teeth, she first spends a few minutes hugging and kissing and talking to BB. She would tell it to stay there, and that she’d be “Right Back”! If BB could talk, it’d tell that it has received the most love on earth. Ever!
BB and thumb sucking go hand in hand. T2 uses BB to hide her face and thinks we don’t know what’s going on behind the screen! Nice plan!
A couple of times over the past couple of weeks, she told me that she’s a big girl now and won’t take BB to school. But a minute later, she would be walking down the stairs holding BB snugly, conveniently forgetting or ignoring her words.
Honey, that’s ok! It’s yours. It’s cute. Keep it. Let's start with getting over the thumb sucking first.

Big sis, the first Teacher
Akka has been T2’s silent Music Guru. From what little we practice every week, T2 picks up the music so easily and effortlessly. I think it must be true with most younger siblings.
Actually, Akka has taught her most everything she knows.
T1 is learning her multiplication tables, and we usually practice on our way to school (or summer camp now). To make it interesting for her, we made up a tune - something like how the Army folks sing songs during their arduous training.
So the other day I sang the question, "Six times Seven Is...?", and Pat came the reply from T2, "42"!!
I was naturally stunned. 6X7 has been one of the most difficult for T1 and we've been working hard to memorize it and I guess added with the tune, it easily settled in T2's mind :)

And, just to amuse myself more, I asked her what is 1 + 1. She said 2. Must be a fluke. Then I asked her What's 2 + 1? She answered back with another question -
"Amma, If you have 16 apples in your hand, and One Hundred Ants on your back..." trying to imitate our Word Problems. But she has a point there, doesn't she?

Not to mention a lot of other things that she learns - comes with the territory of having a big sis (sigh)! As long as it's not categorized as blaspheme, I try to ignore or laugh it off.

Like the other day I wrapped her in a towel after a bath. She looked at herself in the mirror with content and said,
"Thanks for putting the towel around me amma, now nobody can see my boobs!"

I couldn't but laugh at that unexpected statement.
As shocking as it is to hear her use such lingo, I'm thankful it's not the F word or the like!

Being a little sister
It comes naturally to T2. We just saw how well she learns from her akka. She completely reveres T1's words. She prolly thinks, "If T1 says so, it must be right. So I'll repeat it"! That must be why she parrots most everything that T1 says! Sure she fights with T1 and has trouble sharing stuff, but that's with anyone, not just T1. She really adores her big sis.

The music in her
In addition to easily learning music by proxy, she has an innate aptitude for music. She catches on to the rhythm of songs before the end of a stanza and starts humming the tune. From complicated SUN TV ad-songs, to Carnatic Music to Movie songs…It’s really cute to watch her enjoy the tunes humming along.
She has a few favorite tunes that she runs to if she hears them on TV. The new “Ramayana” Title song that goes…Jai Shri Raaaaam, Jai Jai Shri Ram. She stops whatever she’s doing to run to it.
That Sun TV Ad, “Sun Direct”. She’s crazy about it.
Most Sun TV Dramas' Title songs…
Most Disney songs, including soundtracks from movies, Hannah Montana, and Jonas Brothers’ numbers to name a few…

Daddy's girl
An update on T2 would be remiss without mentioning how much of a Daddy's girl she is! Totally! It is quite depressing to me at times, but a relief most times. If I leave the kids with him for a weekend, I know I don't have to call every hour to tell him what he must do next. Which I have had to do once, actually! When T2 was 2, I had to fly to Indiana for a weekend for my cousin's graduation. And the trio did so well! Good job daddy!
Both Pup and I want to have an equal role in their lives, at least we try. So now, T2 shows a fair share of affection to yours truly :)
(I humor myself with that thought).
Cos there is no doubt that she's still a big Daddy's girl.

She loves water! Splashing, that is. In fact, all summer my Wednesday mornings were smooth in anticipation of Splash Day at her pre-school, and of course getting to wear her 2-piece swimwear :)

She also loves raw veggies and fruits! I think I owe a Big thanks to Dottie's Chip for this. Chip's very big on fruits and could eat a bowl full of grapes as a toddler. When Chip and T2shared a nanny for about 10 months, T2 picked it up from Chip, I'm sure! Her mouth waters when I cut fresh vegetables. She can eat a whole cup of Cilantro! No kidding. It's not like she never eats junk, but at least some good stuff to balance it out!

She's a big teaser! Loves to fool around with thatha and paati, esply paati! She truly brightens up and brings on a glow to their otherwise monotonous days.
The best that paati enjoys about her is how T2 climbs on to Paati's spot the moment paati leaves the room! It's like she has this spider-sense that sends in an alert when Paati steps off :)

She needs a bit of Law and Order.
Order where she thinks is necessary.
And the Laws in her own terms!

If there is lack of symmetry in the folded comforter, she won't rest till she gets it right. Yet, when her toys are scattered all over the house, she promptly uses her law, "T2Delegate" and makes sure either T1 or mom or dad does it. She'll happily sing "Clean Up, Clean Up" for us in the background, and start the work off, but drifts away cleverly. She'll be a good Manager, I say!

If she used the "Green" pencil to write one day, that's the one she wants until it's ready to be thrown away! It's hers now with her name invisibly embossed on it. She won't rest till she finds it (or has one of us find it)!

She has to brush her teeth by herself first, before I can finish it off for her. Never mind if we're running late for work/school, or if its too late for bed! It has to be in that order. She is happy to skip brushing her teeth at night altogether, but if it's done, it has to be her way!

We're doing these pre-school worksheets with her. It starts out writing Letters and Numbers 5 times each. But she won't stop at 5. She goes on writing till the end of the line to complete the SYMMETRY. Or maybe she's being Green by not wasting paper, you think?

She loves or used to love her Gymnastics Lessons. And being so slim (Ahem!), it came easily to her too. She TERRIBLY misses the Saturday morning routine of going to the Gymnastics lessons (we took a break for summer). We're planning to try out ice-skating this fall, so it's gonna be a while before she can get back to the Gymnastics lessons :(

The 4th Birthday Celebration
A recent decision she made was to have a Mermaid Birthday. I asked her in different ways to see how much she meant it -
"How about a Gymnastics Party"?
"No! I want a Little Mermaid Party!"

"How about Chuckee-Cheese?"
A slight hesitation, but..."No! I want a Little Mermaid Party!"

"How about Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella or Snow White...?"
"No, No, and No! I want a Little Mermaid Party!"

I think after all that it's safe to say she really wanted that! So that's what she got! A whole hour of fun with Ariel (a family-friendly Ariel, I made sure of that!!).
Cuz-P and I have been thinking for the last 3 years that we shd have one party for T2 and my neice, D. They are both almost exactly a year apart (D is a year younger).
T2 will pretty soon have her own friends-list, so we decided it has to be this year.
We started off wanting to keep it simple. It ended up being anything but!!
But, it was worth it! Kids - Little and big had fun. Mommies being mommies had a great time seeing the happy little faces, and dads being dads found ways to amuse themselves.
Here's one more variation of the famous MasterCard Slogan -
$ for the rented community center,
$$ for the special order cakes,
$$$ for the little mermaid,
$$$$ for the catered food

T2's gratified look saying, "Amma, Thanks for bringing Ariel", Followed by the biggest HUG - PRICELESS.
So, with that, we enter her Fifth year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You did not think to ask ME first?

Pup decided to remove his goatie and mustache. The girls woke up early this morning and T1 (the great compliment-er) said without any hesitation, "Appa, you look good!"

T2 noticed the change right away, of course, but kept staring at him trying to find the right words to tell him. Then she did it with "Appa, you look weird!"

Poor T2! Poor daddy! They were both disappointed for different reasons vis-à-vis the new look!

But then she seemed to take it in. This was around 5.15 in the morning when the girls sneaked into our room and bed and Pup was ready to wake up (ya, his long commute added with a workout day means up and about at 5.00).

A couple of hours later, when I was helping T2 brush her teeth, all was going well, when all of a sudden she just burst into tears (needless to add that she was screaming). And not surprisingly, kept asking for "Appa".

I couldn't get it!

If it's from me accidentally brushing her gums, she usually tells me that and then cries…

I thought that she was prolly hungry since she went to bed early last night and did not really sleep well after the 5.15 migration to our room!

I left her alone for a couple of minutes, and then she was back to normal and then we had a smooth sailing rest of the morning!

And then, hours later it occurred to me that maybe she was crying because of Pup's new look. He has kept his goatie for years now, and T2, I'm sure doesn't remember him without one! Being such a daddy's girl, this huge change must have made a heavy impact on her.

Just my guess!

Gone are the days when kids request parents' approval for a new look!
Gone are also the days when he wanted to change his looks to impress me and me him!
Gotta remember to talk to the girls first before making big changes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guilt Trip

August 10th, 2008 is a day that has been etched in my mind's calendar. I have been operating on guilt mode since then. You blink for a few seconds and something terrible happens. But all is well that ends well. Really? Then why can’t I stop thinking about it and about how much worse the day could have gotten??

The day started off with excitement to go to a picnic for the entire family organized at work. This is a place with a miniature golf course and other such sporty stuff. Also, they had arranged for kids’ events, which is always a good thing! This place is at a stone’s throw from where we live, yet we’ve never been there in the 8 years that we’ve lived here!
The picnic
Anyways, despite it being a picnic, we ate lunch, fed the kids too – better to take well-fed kids especially when the event starts after their usual lunch hours! So, we arrived there in time, got our tags and walked up to the pavilion. Pup noticed that familiar faces (to him) were missing, so he promptly walked to the crates of beer to help himself with some familiar taste. The girls found some pebbles and started collecting them and arranging them on the picnic tables. I made small talk to some of my colleagues, grabbed some iced-tea and took the girls over to the caricature artist. T1 got hers done early on and went miniature-golfing with daddy, while I waited with T2, who unable to sit in line kept losing her spot. She was more excited to see the artist in action anyways. She was totally mesmerized at the artist’s work! Then the artist suggested I should sit in line and hold her place. Not wanting to miss getting her caricature done after having waited over an hour, I paid heed. Good thing I did, cos it was our turn 15 minutes before she was ready to close shop. We put both caricatures in the car and went to the get some golfing (ok! put-put golf) action. T1 made her own friends and was a few holes ahead of us going around it for the umpteenth time, while T2 stayed with Pup and me. She of course, tried to get the ball close enough to the hole as she could, and then happily picked and dropped the ball into their final targets. Mommy, whose game started off with pars, eventually had to resort to T2’s tactics, while daddy’s game was getting better.
Then, we tried to get a game of volley ball. What “game”? We were just volleying and missing. We gave up after a mere 5 minutes and decided to head back home. It was almost time to leave. 3 quick hours had passed by.
So far so good…

The accident
The batting cages were right outside the volleyball court and T1 wanted to try it. I’ve never been to one of these before and unfortunately didn’t even know how it worked! I decided to sit it out. Seeing T1 in a helmet triggered a set of tantrum tears from T2. Pup was trying to convince her that she’s too little, a few feet away from where I was sitting. I was looking at them wondering if Pup needed help or if I should rather not cut in. Then we heard this terrible scream. Very, very, loud! I turned around to see T1 screaming from the batting cage she had entered. From the pose that she was crying in, I figured she hurt her leg. My mind was not working. I was struggling to open the door to the cage. The 2 seconds that it took to open it seemed like a lifetime. I picked her up and found a bench to sit on while she kept touching her right thigh, screaming.
In those few seconds that I was not looking, she managed to enter a cage that was meant for adults, that even talented players think twice before entering. I couldn’t begin to imagine how badly she must be hurting.
I am glad I have a little bit of my mom’s composure in tough situations. Or, maybe it was because I did not know then that these balls from hell keep coming one after the other. Or that if she had moved forward and not backward after the first ball hit her, she would have been facing a terrifying burst of them. I can’t stop thinking about the extreme possibilities.
With Pup still holding T2, my friend and colleague, B, rushed to get an ice pack. She started to calm down a bit. There was only a small swelling and a big bruise. I was hapy that the swelling wasn’t getting any bigger, meaning that the possibility of a fracture was less. She was even able to stand up and take a step. But B offered to carry her to the car, while Pup was trying to console the still-tantrumming T2. Of course, now she was crying cos akka’s crying. Then, I got a hold of T2 and she thankfully stopped crying as abruptly as she had started. Pup was horrified by this whole thing, because he knew that the balls could have come rushing at her, and he also knew that T1 made one hell of a Godsend move backward after she got hit!
The aftermath
By this time, T1 was braving it much better so we figured we did not have to take her to an ER. When we got home a couple minutes later, she even wanted to walk from the garage! We made an appointment with a Pediatric Urgent Care facility, had time to feed her a quick dinner, and then took her there. Thanks to my in-laws, we were able to leave T2 home. They offered to help finish up her dinner, and she ate and slept too giving them no trouble! Amid all her tantrums, she does come through during critical times, doesn’t she?
After a typical long wait, we got to see the nurse. From the time the nurse left us after taking T1’s vital stats to the time the doc arrived, T1 walked back and forth to the books corner in the waiting room a dozen times. By now, we certainly had a clue as to what the doc was going to say, but we still needed to hear it.
So yes, a few minutes later, she walked in and told us that there is no way it could be a fracture with her walking like that. And added that a few inches above or below would have been mighty bad as it could have hit a bone. I still shudder to think about what could have happened!
She sent us home with a dose of Mortin. That's it!!
T1 slept well and except for a slight swelling with a big purple bruise, she’s all ok! The next morning, she was trying to convince me that she’d be ok at the ice-skating camp! Yeah right!
So did this really end well? T1 is one lucky girl to have escaped with a minor bruise. Pup and me are mighty thankful for that! But we can’t stop thinking about the incident.

  • How do we warn and protect our kids from every single danger that lurks?

  • How do we prepare ourselves for everything possible, without taking our eyes off of them for even a minute?

  • How can we not feel terribly guilty when something as frightening happens the one minute that we are distracted?

  • How do we ignore some callous remarks asking to be more careful, because the underlying truth happens to touch a nerve where it hurts?

  • I don’t know answers to these questions, but what I did learn is that –
    T1 has tremendous will-power and strength, and
    We owe a THANK-YOU trip to the temple.
    Which we did this weekend with big fat Thank you check…

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    T2 before 4

    T2 just turned 4 and I am making a desperate attempt to recapture her past year(s) before they fade away. "Desperate attempt" because I am realizing how much I've forgotten already! And, due to lack of time (Excuses! Excuses!!) am spreading them out in multiple posts over this month.

    So here goes -

    I’ll start with the Ugly first and then move on to the Bad and then the Good…Save the best for last, right?

    T2, The Screamer
    Expect it when you least expect it! The screams come with little warning and stay for a good while. Sometimes they are triggered by the slightest change, and often times the “real” triggers are the classic ones – hunger, sleep, and tiredness. She goes into an irrational fit of crying. She pretty much freezes, unable to stop the flowing tears.
    She doesn’t get violent or fall on the floor kicking all around. Only relentless tears…
    As they say kids do not have the same inhibitions or control as adults. But we’re getting bigger and better at using words and not screams to convey our thoughts and feelings. Even a few months ago we used to have more frequent and long-lasting episodes .
    Our favorite way to deal with our crying episodes of late is to shoo away the monster-king. Because only monsters scream and we do not want to become a monster, we want to remain as T2…so we shoo the monster-king away.
    It’s a work in progress and I sure have to admit that we have come long ways since the same time last year.
    This is pretty much the only thing that qualifies as Ugly. (I know I’m gonna be lashed at for using “ugly”, but hey the truth is the truth no matter which way you say it).

    We have a couple of Bads worth mentioning.

    T2, The addict
    Her Thumb-Sucking started at about 4 months of age. We had to start her in a daycare, a home-based daycare that T1 used to go to when she was little. With all the things that come out of being away from home, sucking her thumb started right after. At that point, we did not do much to stop the comforting habit that she discovered. Can’t really call it “discovered”, we witnessed her sucking her thumb when she was a 5-month old fetus. That’s right! Her sonogram revealed her already developing habit!
    We couldn’t do much about it anyways, she caught on strong and fast and being away from her for such long hours during the day did not help much. (Insert Terrible Guilt). If there was one good thing that came out of it, it is the fact that she lulled herself to sleep with the rigorous thumb-sucking.
    As always the notorious distraction is the only thing that works.
    She became 1, 2, then 3 years old and this habit only got more and more intense. What began as a self-lullaby developed into an involuntary action when she is bored or tired. After a visit to a dentist when she turned 3, she kept saying “Doctor saiiiiiid, No Sucking your thumb” and would take her thumb out. Pretty soon, she started repeating her statement and would promptly start sucking her thumb again. The effect wore off!
    We once tried to wrap her thumb with a piece of cloth. She was so distressed at the sight of it, that we could not see her face like that for more than 15 LONG minutes. Nothing should be this hard!
    We also tried using nail-polish as a means. I refused to apply nail polish on her thumb to prevent her eating any of it! She could not stand to see the asymmetry of the lone unpainted finger! She was “Monk”-ing about it (after the USA Network show called Monk) so much that we gave in and painted her finger. Soon she wanted it off as she figured that her obsession with symmetry ranked way, way below her addiction to suck her thumb!
    So there you go! Both Painted and unpainted nails did not work for us.

    Our big worries in addition to her jutting palate is what they say about thumb-suckers and low-confidence!

    If you have any miracle tricks that have worked for you, do let us know!!

    Until then, we’re gonna need all our resolve to work on diversion and distraction and hope that it does not affect her personality.

    To be continued...

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    T2 @ 4

    The past few weeks have been a bit too hard on me. It started off when it hit me out of the blue that T2 starts Kindergarten next year. What? Really? OMG!! It IS true! Maybe its because T1 missed a school year being born almost 2 months past the state cut-off date. T1 just finished Kindergarten and T2's up for it already? Hmmm...
    I've been telling everyone about how difficult it is for me to take that...
    I mean this is T2 we are talking about for goodness' sake!

    T2, an amazing fetus, hardly gave me anything to worry about. The way she came out to the world - literally painless. I noticed the first contraction around 1700hrs, we were at the hospital at 2000 hrs, and she hurried out at 0010 hours, an easy 7 hour labor (Folks at work would be proud to see me use the N-hundred hours terminology)!
    Anyways, the only strange (good strange too) thing that day 4 years ago was that Pup went to work a little later than usual, drove about 10 miles, then had a weird feeling, came back home and took the day off. Who'dda thunk that we'd be driving to the hospital a mere few hours later??

    That day still feels like it was yesterday...
    Yet, here we are now celebrating her 4th day with The Little Mermaid, a handful of family and friends, loads of laughs, not to forget the look on her face for having granted her wish for a Mermaid Party. That glimpse of happiness on her face that spoke a million words, photographed only in my memory, that said it was all worth it!

    Happy birthday sweetie pie. be continued with more milestones, mumbles and memories before they fade away...

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    The Routine - Part II

    Please do read Part I first :)

    Quick Recap:
    We stopped at......when I signed up at a nearby gym and lost 25 pounds in 2 years.
    and about how I felt young and great about myself again!

    Not so fast...the next 15-25 pounds seems so difficult to get off!!
    And I've started doing it again - going on and off all the time!

    A couple of months back, I got fully motivated by my cuz-P and we started following the Couch to 5K Plan!

    We kept tabs on each other. We'd call each other on the morning of our running day, and again the following morn to check!

    We followed it religiously! I even kept at it when we vacationed for a week!

    Then around week 7, her shin started hurting, and was asked to take it easy for a while.
    That was the rebirth of the Queen of Excuses!!
    Cuz-P actually kicked my bottom for stopping, in vain.

    Except for an occasional walk, I've been in a slump mode since my break from the Couch to 5K (and back to Couch) Plan!!!

    Until last week, that is! I saw an ad for a Yoga Camp around here and signed up for it. Got cuz-P and sis-S to sign up too.

    Tried to get Dottie to sign up, but the logistics (timing, location, work) just did not work out for them on the Camp days.

    So, all 5 days of the camp (Wed-Sun), I was up at 4.45 and out of the house by 5.15.
    I have to admit that the first day was a little difficult - was feeling sleepy on and off - but still, those were 5 of the easiest days for me to be up and about so early!

    After 2 1/2 hours of Yoga, (which was mostly Pranayama and maybe 30 minutes of Yoga Poses/Yoga Cardio), I felt so energized and relaxed the whole day at work and in the evening at home!

    We were allowed to bring kids on the last day, and T1 was all too eager to go with me. In fact, she did not sleep well for 2 days in the excitement!
    She woke up early enough on Sunday and got ready in no time.

    2 1/2 hours was a bit much for the kids, and there was an overdose of Marketing going on, being the last day and all.

    But we all got what we wanted out of the Yoga Camp.

    The real challenge now is to continue doing this.

    I promptly got up early the next morning after the camp, and did a little Yoga and Pranayama.

    I may not have the heart-pumping workouts like I'm used to. But I'm sure that these quiet, relaxed breathing exercises with a mix of cardio yogi-jogi will work well in the long run.
    I am hoping to make this a lifestyle change and keep at it as often and as regularly as I can...
    I know my commute is going to be filled with Kapal Bhati(s), Bhastrika Pranayama and Anulom-Vilom(s).
    It has been 4 days since the camp now, and I have been going steady with my new-found love affair with Pranayama.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    The Routine - Part I

    When Pup and I started our lives together, it was just bliss!
    We got into our own "routine".
    I was a happy stay-at-home H4 wife!
    I used to have dinner and a snack (a smoothie or salad...) ready when he got back from work.
    After the light snack, we'd both be energized for a...workout.
    We hardly strayed from this routine and it left us wanting more each time!
    The eager waiting before, the energy surge during, and the cant-take-it-any-longer feeling afterward was to die for!
    I felt so very young and alive! Wait, I WAS very young!!!

    Then I started taking classes at a local Community School.
    I was getting busier, so we were getting a little less on the frequency, but still kept at it really well!
    Enough to make us proud of ourselves!

    This on-again off-again mode continued till we had a baby!
    Oh my! How that changed things!!
    We started to blame everything that we could not do on our bundle of joy!!
    I mean, it was a normal delivery and I was back to normal soon enough!
    Why couldn't we get back on track??
    I fail to understand!

    How difficult can it be to set aside an hour for yourselves 3-4 times a week, if not everyday?
    OK, who am I kidding?
    Not an hour, at least 30 minutes?
    I think it's absolutely important to make room for the warming up before and the cooling down after!

    Anyways, it started getting few and far between (sigh).
    Every now and then we'd be all up for it and then a big drop in the sinusoid!
    I'm ashamed to say it! But that's the fact!

    Then, a few months after T2 was born, I decided to stop finding excuses!
    For our own sake, I needed to work this out and get back on track.

    Yes!! I signed up at a nearby gym and lost 25 pounds in 2 years.
    Soon I got it all back!!
    The eager waiting before, the energy surge during, and the cant-take-it-any-longer feeling afterward!
    I felt young and great about myself again!

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    This one's for you dear...

    Dear Pup,
    This Father's Day I want to send you an online message.
    Where should I start, now? How about from the pre-kid days?
    I don't think I have seen or heard of a more devoted, expecting-dad-to-be!
    You ne'er got tired of me getting tired all the time!
    Do you remember? We had decided to cut eating out for a healthy pregnancy, and there were times during your 16 hour work days when you quickly came home, cooked dinner, cleaned up and then returned to work!!!
    Oh, those seemingly never-ending (to you) massages that lulled me away to sleep on more occasions than I can remember!
    I can go on...and on.
    If there were any moments of tension between us at that time, I sure don't remember! All the cute-sie things you did for me are all that stayed with me.

    Then our beautiful T1 was born! I could see your pride, the bonding, right at the first moment! You did not just stop with procreation (for lack of a better word :)
    You were (and still are) with me every step of the way. The midnight diaper changes, the 2AM feeds, the 4AM lullabies, everything!

    The initial years with T1 were challenging for us as first-time parents. We were learning a lot of things through her, the virtue of patience being one!

    A few years later, despite me being home during my pregnancy with T2, you showed the same level of attention and care as you did the first time around! The time that I had caught the stomach bug was quite scary, being the first trimester and all! You were quite freaked out but you helped me recover so easily and with so much caution!
    You were always there when I needed a moment or two or three or well you get the point(!) and let me have some time alone and my feet up after a whole day of running around spirited, little T1.

    You seemed to be quite intuitive that day when I went into labor...That was so incredible, don't you think? You were on your way to work and for some reason just turned around after driving for a few miles right after I talked to you! You must have sensed something in voice, I suppose! Anyways, I was in labor a few hours later and a few more hours later, our beautiful peanut T2 was born.

    Ditto the para on all the tireless parenting efforts that you did for T1

    Two months after T2 was born, I got back into the workforce doing 15-16 hours a day with the long commute and everything! I can still remember your constant encouragement and support during those trying times when I barely got to hold T2 a few minutes each day! I'm sure I would have quit a long time ago if it weren't for you! Well, I wouldn't have gotten back to work if it weren't for you in the first place!

    I was able to leave the girls with you for a whole weekend, when I had to go for cuz-K's graduation! I never for one moment had to worry about them.

    You know their schedule, their likes and dislikes and partake in their every activity. We do things together for them, and I love that. It may be stressful now, but I hope in the long run it will benefit us as a family.

    Of course, I'm making it look like we had easy parenting...a lot of time it's been anything but. Nevertheless, we have learnt to overcome hurdles by working together, by overlooking each other's quirks and negatives and realising that our family always comes first.

    You have been open to listening when I have to talk to you about parenting stuff, or about anything! You know your shortcomings, you accept them, and attempt to work on them. For that matter, I have my quirks too :)

    Over the years you always have been a truly devoted dad and the girls' absolute love and affection for you are living proof of that.

    I'm sure I have missed so many things that I shdda mentioned here...I guess I'll save them for future occasions :P

    I know that in the midst of our demanding work and life schedule, I don't always appreciate the wonderful things you do for our girls, for me.
    You are one heck of a dad, and an unbelievable husband!
    We love you tonnes and more.
    Happy Father's Day to you, the world's best dad (or as our girls have fondly called you over the years - adda, daddy, appa, daadda)!

    With all of my love,
    Yours truly...

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Three Cheers...!

    The story starts about a few weeks back on Memorial Day Weekend, when I had to help T1 on a diorama that she had to make as a final project for school. She chose the book, Cam Jansen and the Double Beach Mystery. I YAY-ed her choice cos I'm thinking "Beach" is going to be an easy scene to set up.
    We had a fun shopping spree at Michael's and we went berserk buying art materials :)
    So, we ended up spending hours on making the diorama, with absolutely no complain whatsoever from T1! She loved every bit of it - the drawing, the cutting, the painting, the pasting, the carving...even though it seemed never-ending! I could see how much she loves art!

    So, when my good friend, VG forwarded an email to me about an upcoming painting competition, I registered T1 right away. I really, truly wanted her to have fun.
    I did not want her to be completely clueless, so I asked her to think for a few minutes about the topic before painting.

    There were two age groups that the kids were competing in, 6-9 and 10-13. The kids were asked to choose one of three topics - Healthy Food, Family Fun or Fashion.
    T1 apparently chose family fun.

    Sis-S had registered my niece, P for this too. And it was a good catching-up time for the two of us while the girls were painting away to glory :)

    When their time was up, we were allowed to peek in and take a look at their paintings. I couldn't help smiling when I saw T1's painting! It was like she'd done a painting of her diorama. She had a picture of mommy and herself playing at the beach! I suppose she was completely clear on what to draw from her recent project.

    My niece-P chose "Healthy Food" and painted a beautiful lone apple and a distant pear on a table (covered with a beautiful table cloth), and a couple of pictures hanging on the wall of the room. So realistic!!

    On Saturday, Pup called me when I was at the gymnastics class with the girls and told me that T1 won 3rd place! I was really thrilled! Of course, I had "hoped" like every mom does that she win. But I really was not expecting it. She was one of the youngest kids in the crowd (being 6 1/2) and has had no formal training in Art (not counting the stuff they do in school).

    A really cool thing is that they had announced the results in a local TV Channel and displayed her painting too. Of course, we have it DVR-ed, cos I knew we were going to be at the Gymnastics class when they were going to make the announcement.
    I couldn't wait to get back home and watch it on TV.
    Pup didn't tell me anything about the older kids' results. He did not know. My friend, VG had called to congratulate and that's how he knew!
    So it was time for double celebration when we saw that my niece rightfully won the first place in the 10-13 age group!

    On Sunday, the kids were given a trophy and a gift certificate at a small ceremony!
    It was a real proud-mama moment! Strangely, I was happier now than when she got her first trophies for ASHR in Kumon (translates to being above Grade level).

    I'm really glad we were able to give her that bit of encouragement for something that she whole-heartedly enjoys!! So, Art Classes, here we come!!

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    My Dearest, Genuine A2!

    Here's a long overdue post on my eldest sister's daughter, my niece, A2.
    She was visiting from Chennai for a few weeks during her summer holidays.
    The last I saw her was over 4 years ago! Fall of 03! A2 was in her tweens then. What an amazing little kid!! So level-headed even as a kid! So genuine, so kind, so unselfish, so warm, so genuine, and did I say genuine?
    She was my life-saver! T1 was a little less than 2 during our visit in 03, and was loaded with food allergies, mainly wheat and nuts.
    So most snacks and food were taboo! And we all know how people shower us with food and more food when in India...Esply kids - you can't visit someone and walk out without some cookies or candy! Simply unthinkable.
    Once we found out she had these allergens, we completely cut out her exposure. And that was not easy when we were in Chennai.
    I had scared A2 (and A1, my nephew) about the possible adverse reactions! Poor kiddo! I'm sure I completely freaked her out! She would promptly grab cookies and candy before they reached T1's hands! She was my "allergen-police". She had a watchful eye whenever we went to someone's place or when we had visitors.
    I don't understand how a little kid could comprehend something like this SO WELL, when so many adults I know simply did not get it!
    Anyways, all through my 2-month stay there, I not only saw her true affection for T1, but her over-all selflessness and kindness that left me completely amazed.
    She is just so genuine!

    And while planning this visit of hers a couple of months back, I truly did not know what to expect. Of course, we've been in touch and everything, but talking on the phone for a few minutes every once in a while is not the same as being with her. Moreover, she's 16 now...
    Oh, I am so glad sis-H agreed to send her here with my parents. It was a wonderful opportunity for me, sis-S, sis-U, and all our girls to spend some real quality time with her! For us, it was like having a little sis, and for the girls, they loved their A2 Akka crazily!!

    When she was staying at our place, she refused to send T2 to daycare. So T2 got spoilt rotten with all of A2's nasukees (cuddling for lack of a better word), and silly games she came up with that kept T1 and T2 busy and engaged for hours!
    She enjoyed their antics, yet chided them for their mis-doings, and never failed to tease them for their false "dramas". So genuinely! Just like she rightfully should!
    She knew the exact words to use when doing all of this. She would take complete pride in their cute-sies, and at the same time she never falsely-praised them for anything. I just LOVED that! She'd go, "Can you believe T1 did this?", or "T2 was so cute when she sang that..." or, "Chithi, ithu konjam too-much drama-nnu nenakkaraen!" ("Aunt, this is a bit too much drama, don't you think?")

    We had an amazing time once, the 4 of us (sis-S, sis-U, A2 and me) chatting all nite. It was like having a 5th one of us! We sorely missed sis-H that day! We were talking about everything and nothing, teasing and sharing jokes and stories all night long.
    She taught us some "cool" local slangs ("local", being a slang word itself) - like
    'Sema Bulb' - meaning a good snub;
    The best of all, she gave us this - (albeit inherited from her brother, A1) -

    Kekaravan kenayanaa irunthaa, Saroja Devi kooda car ottuvaa

    (Something to the effect of - Do you think I'm a moron to believe that Saroja Devi can actually drive??)!

    I've used it like a thousand times in the last 2 months :)

    Jokes apart, Sis-H, you've raised one helluva daughter! So proud of her and of you!

    A2, be yourself - ALWAYS! You are a strong girl, never lose that trait!
    Love you dearly! Happy Birthday!!
    Here's to a wonderful future that's ahead of you!

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Drama! Drama! Drama!!

    Last week was one with a helluva drama!
    Starting with T1’s fall – that was maybe a deserving drama – she did see a lot of blood.
    Hey, Big sis can’t be the only one getting all the attention. We had to put a couple of band-aids on T2 as well…for nothing…to give her some needed attention!

    Then started the real drama of T1's Standardized Testing (did I mention she is a Kindergartener??)…
    Here is a note we got from T1’s class teacher prepping us!

    Dear Parents:

    As you all are aware of, next week is Stanford Testing. Just a few reminders for the week:
    Please make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep.
    Eat a nutritious breakfast - RICH in fiber, protein, calcium and LOW in sugar.
    Bring a bottle of water. Research has shown that water actually boosts brainpower.
    Kindly have your child in the classroom by 9:15AM to allow the children some time to relax and unwind. The test will be administered first thing in the morning.

    I'm tempted to add "YADA...YADA..YADA" to that note, but will refrain from doing that ;P
    We got a pep-talk note of this kind every single evening!

    And, another one every day after the tests! The first day we got a note saying that the entire test took about 50 minutes.
    And that they were given time to "stretch and flex" in the middle.

    And the icing on top of all this was when I went to drop T1 off on Wednesday, the entire class was in the playground, getting some “fresh air”, so they can be relaxed before the test.
    I think we'll be basket-cases by the time our kids finish High School!

    And the drama concluded with T2 having a fall at the exact same spot that T1 did! OK!! Not the exact same spot...but it was at the same park.
    Just a couple of minor scrapes...but we're talking about T2, who needs band-aids when "akka" (big-sis) has a boo-boo, need I say more about all the attenion she demanded?

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Add new values, Please...?

    I just got back home after attending a meeting conducted by our County's School Board. The topic - Health, Safety, and Wellness - Food allergies being the focus. This was more a joint effort by our area's Allergy Network of which I am a member, and the School Board to discuss issues in Public Schools regarding Food Allergies.
    It was very informative and reassuring to know about the steps that the School Board has taken to train Teachers, Nurses, Cafetaria workers, Bus-Drivers and even Substitute Teachers. The School Board takes Food Allergies very seriously.
    But (there is always a but!), there are some basic rules across the board, and that is not enough to deal with the increasing proportions of children with food allergies.
    The Schools primarily worry about allergies from Peanuts and Tree-nuts, as they are the most common allergens. Most people are not aware that an allergy to milk or wheat or eggs is just as much likely to cause an Anaphylactic reaction as an allergy to peanuts. A friend's daughter has had a severe reaction after being touched by another kid who had just eaten pizza (from the cheese).

    One of the suggestions in this meeting was from a parent who has had a very good experience from her School including Thoughtful and Considerate Teachers and Staff. She brought about an important point that it is the parents of other kids, and even the kids themselves who need awareness! I never knew the serious ramifications of having an allergy until T1 tested positive to a whole slew of allergens when she was 7 months old.

    I have some work to do here too, especially since she goes to Public school this fall. I was actually taking her allergies for granted after she started outgrowing some of them. But recently she broke out in a terrible rash when Pup touched her after eating some walnuts (this despite testing negative for Walnuts)!
    She has eaten Cashew-cake (kaju katli) before, but when she had it last year, her throat started itching after just one small bite (my guess - possible contamination with peanuts)! Fortunately, she ate just one small piece and some Benadryl was all she needed to get better.

    So the point of my post is to humbly implore the rest of you to add a few more values when raising your kids, some simple things - like "NO SHARING FOOD" in school, "WASHING HANDS THOROUGHLY" after eating (before touching other kids), and "NOT RIDICULING" kids with allergies.
    And as parents, if we can be considerate to other children in the class when taking special snacks or party treats, that will be very highly valued!
    Simple things, but they can go a long way.
    Thank you.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Puppy Birthday!

    I mean, Happy Birthday, Pup! I should have published this post yesterday, but turned out I had other things to do!!
    Don't ;) yet...
    It turned out to be quite a day!
    Started out at 7.30 with me calling Pup to wish him. 37! Wasn't it just a couple of years back that we celebrated his 30th? No? Hmm...
    Anyways, He answered the phone in a groggy voice from his hotel in NY City. He was in NY for a couple of days meeting with clients. He was just waking up after a long night of Cut-throat Pool with his colleagues! The girls and I took turns wishing him, and then my parents (They are visiting from India for a couple of months).
    Fast forward to 2.30PM...Pup called me from LaGuardia to let me know he's getting on an earlier plane and should be home by 4.30 - YAY!!
    So I wrapped things up fast at work and headed out to pick up T1 and T2 from school. They were both as excited as I was.
    Thanks to my mom, we had some awesome food awaiting us including Rasa-Wangi (an eggplant daal, if you will) and "kan-kan" paayasam (or saboodana kheer), two of Pup's favorites!
    We then headed out to my sister, Sis-S's place for the night. More awesome food :)
    T2 slept on the way over to Sis-S's house, and T1 was having fun with my nieces, P and A2 (A2 is visiting from India - She deserves a separate post - coming soon!). Seemed like T1 and T2 would not miss us, So we decided to head out to watch a movie. Terrible movie it was! Pup was joking that they could have wrapped the movie in 5 minutes! Seriously!!
    Anyways, we got back to Sis-S's place close to midnight and T1 was still up watching a movie. Then, she said that she had something to show me - I thought it might be another card for Pup...Instead, she showed a big bandage on her knee!
    Rewind to about 10.00PM. They were returning from the Tennis court, and when stepping on an uneven surface, T1 slipped and fell on her right knee.
    Both my girls are delicate darlings (sigh!) and all she needed was the sight of blood to keep her wailing for a really long time! Poor sis-S and bil-K!! She must have scared them out of their wits! Sorry guys!
    They brought her home and cleaned up her wound and tied a loose bandage around her knee...Thanks!!
    I was quite upset when I saw the bruise...for the timing of it - Being Pup's birthday and also because she has Stanford 10 exams next week (ok, I know she's only a Kindergarten-er, it's not like its the SATs...), but still...its her first one of this kind...
    Ok! Who am I kidding? I know the real reason is the guilt! For being selfish and wanting to go out to watch a movie...I seldom take up my sister's offer to baby-sit my Ts, cos I worry too much about things getting jinxed...Irrational Fear? Paranoia? Whatever you want to call it...!

    T1's obviously still hurting from the pretty nasty scraping. We took her to her Ped. first thing in the morning, who wanted us to x-ray it just to be sure her knee is OK! Which we did. She's mostly ok now...with some Motrin to help reduce the pain...

    Anyways, I'm sure it was definitely not how Pup expected his birthday would turn out to be! Sorry Hon! I'll make it up to you...I will take care of the laundry this weekend ;)