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February 26, 2008

We are a H.A.P.P.Y. family!

I am in the U S of A. At my sisters. With Sis & Bil. With Mom & Dad. With Hubby & Ashu. Needless to say, we are having a blast. Ashu and I left Zurich on Friday and landed here without any glitch. (Did nt get the checked in Car Seat. But thankfully the airlines loaned us one.) Mom and Dad were mighty upset that Hd did nt come with us for the family reunion. They did nt know that he was arriving the next day. So when he landed on Sat night, there was lots of screaming and shouting. Sunday was our parents anniversary and we had a small bash. Utbt and family arrived with the Guava cake I have heard so much about since Chulas birthday and drooling. (Every bite was heavenly!) But the real reason for this sudden reunion plans is not until the first of March. My Sister and Bils 10th wedding anniversary. More details later! ;)

I have nt seen Ashu since we arrived. Shes the happiest since we left India in September. As if the doting grand parents are nt enough, she has the combined attention of my Sis and Bil as well. So shes ecstatic. The choicest restaurants in Bay area along with my moms cooking - Hds idea of heaven! And Im with my family. Need I say more? :)
ps.
For another six weeks, all the photos courtesy of my Bil and his camera. And here I am compelled to add that Hd forgot the one thing I asked him to bring with him. MY CAMERA. If I was nt so happy, I would have murdered him.

February 21, 2008

The one where Ashus tells a story.

Yesterday was special. Yes, Hd returned from India in the afternoon but something happened in the morning. Ashu told a story.

Just the other day, I was talking to my dad and telling him about Ashu and how she has nt reached the stage where she spins stories from her imagination. I was big on telling stories when I was a child and people within one mile radius would just run helter skelter if I ever say, "Naan oru kadhai solren". (I ll tell a story) My sister would shudder at the thought of hearing me tell a story. I remember my uncle had recorded some of my story telling in audio cassettes and I listened to them when I was a little older. The whole family knew about my story telling fascination. Even when I grew up and stopped talking altogether, relatives would still talk about the time I used to tell stories and roll around the flooor laughing remembering the silly anecdotes. So the child in me was really looking forward to hear Ashu spin tales. So far no luck. She would nt even repeat the Crow and the Vadai story even after hearing it a thousand times.

Yesterday something triggered her and she started talking about this wolf. Wolf irundhudhaa? Adhu jungle ku pochu... is how the story began. (There was this wolf. It went to the jungle...) And then the wolf met this lion and asked "Ennoda play panna variyaa?" but the lion said "I dont want to play with you". Then the wolf met the tiger and asked the same but the tiger said "I don't want to play with you". Then it met a bear, elephant, monkey, snake, rabbit, puppy, hippo, giraffe, ... and everyone refused to play with the wolf. She told the "I don't want to play with you" in exactly the same tone how I say it while reading the little tiger book where the tiger would say "I dont want to go to bed". I was in the midst of making lunch. I switched off the stove and came and sat down on a chair to listen to her. I was so excited and wondered how the story is going to go. She walked in circles around the dining area and told the story without any interruption. She did nt pause even for a second. Remember how Kamal Hassan would narrate some nonsense walking non stop in circles and driving us crazy in the movie Guna? It was exactly like that. I was half expecting her to say, "Abhirami, Abhirami" in the end!! So the story kept on going. She would say things like "Then the wolf looked up a tree." and with an excited tone "And what was on the tree"? As if she knew. She has nt even made up her mind on what it is thats going to be on the tree until she asked the question. Then she would say, "A snake". I played the part of a good audience and gasped. But she was quick to add "a good snake. Not bad boy". Then the wolf met an owl and cried and told the owl that no one is playing with him. (Why she chose owl as the agony aunt? Why did nt she let the wolf ask the owl to play with him? - thats your homework for today!!) By the time the wolf came to the owl, she has named around 20 animals already. I was wondering what shes going to do now. Then the owl said "Come on. I ll take you to your friends who will play with you". And the story began again. Except now all the animals said "Ok. I ll play with you". 25 minutes had gone by now and we were nowhere near the end. I even dared to interrupt her and ask "So when "the end" will come Ashu" and she sternly said, "Tomorrow". Ok! I thought so too! I switched on the stove again and continued the cooking while making the necessary comments to her story. Then the story took new turns and she started including things in the house like her house slippers, the coasters, the plant, etc... and suddenly she said "The End." Before I could break into an applause, she began ANOTHER story. This time with a Bee. And even Pillayaar showed up in this one. But mercifully, this was a short one. I gave her a big hug and told her that the stories were fantastic. She was all flushed by the whole exercise. 40 minutes of non stop walking in circles and non stop talking while the little brain worked over time. Who would nt be? I cant wait to unleash her to my sister! *evil laughter*

ps.
I Don't Want to Play with You starring The Little Wolf and A Bee Story with a special appearance by Pillayaar are copyrights of Ashu and All Rights Reserved! ;)

February 18, 2008

Fun day at the play park.

Ashus school was off the whole last week. Ski break!! Why did nt I go to such schools? More holidays than working days. Affectionate teachers. Amazing library. Sigh! We did nt do anything interesting last week. Some regular shopping, some craft projects at home and the time flew. Then suddenly Hd had to leave for India on Sunday on an official trip and hes back only on Wednesday. He has travelled before but never to India. I became all sad and teary and did everything I could do to stop him from going. Did nt work! After sending him off early in the morning on Sunday, spent the day sulking and in the night I locked the bedroom door and blocked it with a chair for good measure. Kept the cordless phone and mobile handy. Hugged Ashu and went to sleep. That is so uncharacteristic of me. Im usually bold and quite reckless. I don't even check the doors and windows before I go to sleep. But this time the feeling that Hd is not in London or Amsterdam which are a few hours away but in INDIA which is a good 12 hours away gave me the jitters. What if the burglar knew it too? ;)

School was off today too and it was bright and sunny. I said enough was enough and set out with Ashu to an indoor play area. Its quite small but enough to keep Ashu occupied for hours. We had an early lunch and were there at 12 noon. Ashus face brightened up and she started climbing here and there and everywhere. Bouncy castles, trampolines, slides, obstacles, mini go carts, cycles,... Its any child's dream. (sigh again!) I had taken a book with me. ("The space between us" by Thrity Umrigar. Looks to be a interesting read.) I finished only 7 pages because I could nt take my eyes off my daughter. What to do? She was squealing with laughter, making friends and running around. I had to look! I found out today that Ashu is nt a leader or a loner. She wants company and has to be told what to do. First Ashu followed a 3 year old girl who was slightly taller than her. They became friends fast and Ashu was following her like a puppy and doing everything she was doing. The other girl was helping Ashu whenever she could nt climb a level on her own. It looked so sweet. Then Ashu became a pro. But Ashu also knows what she does NOT want to do and is not tempted to do it. Nor can she be coerced. For example, she was scared of the spiral tunnel slide. She wont get into any tunnel from which she cant see the other side. So while a straight tunnel slide is OK, a spiral slide is a big NO. That's the way she is. I ve encouraged her before but she strictly refused and I did nt push. So whenever the other girl turned towards the spiral slide, Ashu would change her direction and go the other way and the other girl will follow her. I noticed it after she did for the fourteenth time!! :) After an hour, we took a snack break and Ashu pointed at the chocolate brownie and said she wanted it. This is the girl who NEVER eats any snack. But I bought for her anyway wetting my lips in anticipation. But then little girls exist to prove you wrong. She wolfed down 3/4th of the piece in jiffy, sipped some apple juice and said "Enough Amma". I had tears in my eyes.(Then what? The cake was so good and all I get is a quarter of it???)

We went back to the play area but the little girl had left much to Ashus disappointment. She tried to play by herself for a while. But very soon, she found another target. Sisters - 8 and 3. She clinged to them and they had no way but to include her. The 8 year old was so sweet. She was helping Ashu more than her own little sister and the trio were having a blast. Of course, Ashu would split whenever they came near the spiral slide. This once, the big girl said "Komm mit mir" and kept Ashu on her lap and slided down the tunnel. Ashu had a "I was right when I did nt want to go on this one" look when she came down. (I tried it later with her too. It was a little claustrophobic and a bit scary!) The three girls went on the mini go kart half a dozen times. Neither of the younger girls can go on their own, so the big girl went triples each time. I saw her begging her dad and mom for money for the go kart and I sponsored a couple of rides too. But the three were totally addicted and the girls father and I had to literally drag the girls out of there. Then the older girl split and the two younger ones held hands and played together. It was so cute to watch. Ashu of course totally forgot about me and once in an hour will make eye contact to check if Im looking! I had told myself that I would nt ask Ashu to leave. She can play as long as she wanted. But after 4 hours, I could see she was hungry and totally tired. I asked if she wanted to go home. She said NO and with a renewed energy, found another 3 year old and the three started going around the enclosures like hamsters in a cage. Then she found another 6 year old and copied her and did everything she did for a while. (Building a castle with soft blocks) Then came to me and asked me to take her in the spiral slide. I did. By 5pm, I came to my senses and told Ashu that the place was closing up and we had to leave. Thankfully, she obliged and slept in the car even before I left the parking lot. So today was fun. I learnt so much about my daughter. Now we are off to bed. Hope Hd does nt decide to surprise and show up couple of days early. Im planning to take the kitchen knife with me to the bed tonight! ;)


ps.
Cursing myself for leaving the camera at home. There were so many kodak moments in the play park today. :(

February 14, 2008

Today's Special.

This is what Ashu(ahem!) made for her father for Valentine's.
Inspired from here.


And this is what I made. Like they say, the way to a mans heart...

Recipe here.


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, FOLKS! Spread the Love! :)

February 13, 2008

Ashu's school routine.

Continuing the previous post, here's our schedule everyday. Hope it helps Noon.

Ashu is in a programme for kids between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2. Almost all of them will be continuing their pre KG in the same school this year. I enrolled here because the transition will be smooth when she starts Pre KG and I don't have much options in Zurich for English schools anyway! Her class is from 1 pm to 3 pm four days a week. At first, I was really not so keen as Ashus nap falls dang at the same time and nobody messes up with her nap time. Nothing whatsoever will keep her away from her precious sleep. But fresh out of options, I decided to try it. I wanted her to quit the afternoon naps anyway. Add to this that the school is 30 mins drive. So she has her lunch at 11.30. (Rice and vegetables with Rasam and a cup of yogurt.) We finish by 12. Then we get ready and leave home at 12.30. We reach the school at 12.55. Most of the time, she does nt go to sleep. So shes OK. The days she goes to sleep in the car, shes all cranky and grouchy when I leave her in class. But the teachers tell me that she is OK soon afterwards. So to reply to the anons comment in my previous post, theres no time to let her take a nap in the morning. (She gets up at 7 am.) After school, I pick her up at 3 pm and drive back home. 99% of the time, she sleeps in the car and I come home and put her in the bed. She continues to sleep until 5.30 pm or even 6.30 pm sometimes. So eventually, her night sleep time has been postponed to 9.30 pm instead of 8.30 pm. That is, I start reading to her at 9.30. She sleeps anytime between 10 to 10.30. I am OK with this schedule for now since its hassle free. But from August, she ll be going to school in the mornings and the schedule will obviously change. The disadvantage to this schedule is the weekends. She will be active and alert until 4 pm and go to sleep after that which means bed time is at 11pm. And on those days when she does nt go to sleep in the car while coming back home, she goes to sleep at 5 pm and screws up the routine. But then, I need some thing to worry about right? ;)

And coming to the subject of Tamil, I think I ll go back to India in a year. I'm counting on that actually. But is there absolutely no one whose kids talk in their mother tongue while living in a foreign country? Is that really impossible? Of course, none of my friends school going kids talk in their mother tongues either. So what happens when you go on vacation to India? Do they speak there? Are the grand parents and other relatives able to understand their English? Or do the parents have to translate? Does it bother you people? Or do you get used to it after a while? Please do tell and let me get used to the idea. Is my wish really hopeless?

February 11, 2008

More about School.

So hows school going for Ashu? Long since I updated on her school saga. After the 3 weeks break in December, Ashu took a couple of days to adjust again. She was crying so much on the first day after the school reopened that I just wanted to jump in front of an oncoming car. Give me a break girl! Not back to square one again. But thankfully she was ok after 2 days. That does nt mean she went happily but at least she was nt crying. Miss M and Miss S told me that she is nt her usual cheery mood and is very quiet. When I asked Ashu she said, "I was sad, Amma." Well, that explains everything!!

She has started talking about school much more than before. "B hid in the play house today", "A came with his dad instead of his mom today", "L did nt come to school today. Hes asleep at home with his Amma", "S got the Nemo book today from the library", "Miss M has a cold so shes taking rest today", "Miss S drank tea from a cup", "G brought muffins for everybody. Today is her birthday", "L's nose was running today but he did nt wipe it at all",... Oh, how do I explain the feeling of listening to her? Its wonderful to hear her stories. No whining, no cribbing, no complaining, no gossiping,... Just plain facts seen through a 2 year olds eyes. Theres so much to learn from kids, I tell ya!

Miss M said that Ashu loves singing and is very cheerful and active. She clearly knows what she wants to do and what not. She understands every word of what they are saying and is talking in English a lot more now. Really trying to make sentences. Shes talking a lot at home too and Im panicking already. Two hours of school 4 days a week and less than 3 months, little Missy has already started talking in English. Though Im proud of her accomplishment, it honestly scares me to death. What if she stops talking in Tamil! *shudder* This in spite of Hd and me not talking in English at all at home. (Its not something we do for Ashus sake. We always talk in Tamil at home anyway!) I can only cross my fingers.

After a month, she is back to her usual self, going to school happily. Since her school is in the afternoon and she goes with a full lunch, she goes to sleep in the car before we reach school. And then cries a lot when I wake her up and leave her in class. But the days she does nt go to sleep, she happily waves bye bye to me and settles in class. So Im trying hard to distract her and tell her a story and keep her awake until we reach school. On Friday, she did nt go to sleep luckily and when I left her in class, she swallowed hard and her eyes filled up and she looked at me. I knew the feeling. I had the same damn feeling every single day I went to school and college. I kissed her and told her I ll be back and left her in class. She said bye to me and started to talk excitedly to Miss M. Of all the things, she had to inherit this "starting trouble" from me? God help her and me!

February 06, 2008

A walk through the clouds.

This is one interesting tag Dot Mom and Tharini have set up on me. Unlike them, I rarely read my own posts except when I am specifically looking for something. Somehow reading my archives embarasses me. Did I actually write that? - kind of a feeling. But at other times, my eyes fill with tears when I read about Ashu when she was a baby. As if Im reading somebody elses writing. So let me go and dig my archives now to complete this tag.

"Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given (family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like). Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better."

Let me begin with Maatha, Pithaa, Guru, & Dheivam.

Family - The posts I wrote on
my mom on my birthday and my dad on Fathers day.

Friend - I ll cheat by saying my sister is my best friend (& Guru) and link this post I wrote on my sisters Birthday.

Myself - How I rediscovered God after becoming a mother.

Love - Strangely, I have nothing on this subject. But theres one post about the love of my life and how my love grew for him after this particular incident. Check it out. (Though cant say Hd would say the same about me!)

Anything I like - This might sound strange. But I love this post of mine on creepy crawlies and makes me all nostalgic about the good old carefree days and ache for them but at the same time puts a smile on my face. :)

Now to tag 5 people.
Inbavalli and Neera, my two new blog buddies.

Sundar, Gauri, and Cee Kay, my not so new blog buddies. Go dig!

February 04, 2008

Deep Sea.

I totally missed doing a post on Ashus first something in the excitement of getting my driving license. (Btw, my Swiss license all proper with a decent looking photo of mine came by post and I also got back my Indian driving license, so yippee! ) So 2 weeks back, on a last minute impulse we decided to drive to Lucerne to gorge on some idlies and dosas in a South Indian restaurant there and also take Ashu by the beautiful lake and the picturesque wooden bridge. But it got too cold so after walking for a little while, we decided to catch a movie in the Imax theatre. I always wanted to take Ashu to the cinemas and see how she reacts the first time. Imax seemed to be the right choice and off we went. "Deep Sea" was the current running movie and it was only 40 minutes long, ideal for Ashus attention span. But only when we got there, it occured to us that the commentary will be in German. But I was ok with it. Anyway, Ashu is not going to follow the commentary. But Hd decided to wait in the cafe pretending that he had to make a call. Yeah right! The man is stingy enought to save 16 Francs. But me, I would nt trade Ashus first experience at the movies for anything! So off went mom and daughter to the dark interiors. Ashu was all puzzled at the environment and sat beside me in a chair wondering what was going on. Then the screen lit and the dolby effect kicked in. The lady at the ticker counter had warned me that they don't recommend children under 5 to watch as it is too loud for kids. I thought about the times infants and toddlers watched "Virumaandi" when we lived in Basel and the family of six with 2 boys at the age of 5 and 2 who were at the late night show of "Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu" in Bangalore. I dont mind, I told the lady smugly!

We watched a few trailers and when there was an avalanche of snow falling down, Ashu held my hands tightly. Then the movie started and the ocean animals arrived one by one and except for one scene when a shark suddenly swallowed a fish and gave Ashu a scare, the rest of it was quite slow. Ashu kept saying "Crab, Octopus, Shark,..." and was enjoying the movie. But after about 30 minutes, she turned around with her back to the screen and started watching the little girl who was sitting at the back with her dad. As if to say, "I have watched better stuff on TV"! I don't blame her! Thank God, it was only for 40 minutes. We both came out after the movie ended to find Hd sipping Cappuccino. Ashu excitedly told him all the fish she saw and how the Octopus ate a crab, "crunch crunch nu"! All in all, a nice experience. May be I ll wait for her to be old enough to take her to some animated movie next time. Hd can have his coffee at home that time!