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April 29, 2010

Where is the party?

It has become a norm to celebrate Ashus birthday thrice. Once at home with close friends and family during a weekend. The second one, on the day of her birthday - a simple affair in her class. The third, a joint party along with her best friend (both their birthdays are a couple of weeks apart) in some play park or gym for the whole school friends. The first one happened last Sunday on 25th. Inspired by a friend(Hi Mons!), I decided to bake a rainbow cake. So went with a colorful theme for the party. The invite had a rainbow. Let me just post the pictures with captions. That way, I don't have to type much. :)

First, Ashu and I decided to make some rainbow decorations. I found
this beautiful idea for a craft. Once I drew the arcs, Ashu could cut on her own. So it was a team effort.

This is her counting the rainbows after we were done. (we did 10 more the next day)


And this is how it looked hanging from the door frame.


I could nt find a colorful table cover matching the tableware. So bought a cream color table cover(disposable) and let Ashu design it.

Shes at work.

The finished product.

The Tableware.

The Drinks.

The Goody Bags. (color pencils, smarties and gummy bears)

The Birthday Girl.

The fruit platter which Ashu arranged.

The Food. (mac & cheese, pasta salad and paneer stuffing for the sandwiches)
The Flowers.

The Balloons.



Hd reading the book "One" by Kathryn Otoshi to the kids. Its my most favorite book in Ashus book shelf and its about colors! (thanks, sis!)


And finally, the cake. (takes a bow)



* Ashu really worked hard for her birthday party and I'm proud of her. She also helped me decorate the cake with smarties and sprinkles! Helpfully suggested that the rainbow in her Dora blocks will be perfect to put on top of the cake. And also helped her dad blow the balloons.

* On the morning of the party, the pink piping on the white frosting ran and the cake looked hideous. I was horrified. Somehow salvaged it and it turned out pinkish! Ashu was such a sport, consoled me and told me that she loves pink and the cake looks beautiful! :)

* I had bought a tricolor ice cream for the kids but almost all the kids had a cold. So skipped it.

* The cake was yummy. I was using the food colors for the first time and was sure the cake would taste "chemical"! But it did not.

* Antu wore Ashus first birthday frock for this party! (now don't start a dharna, Sue! I'm a second child too, remember? ;)

* I was *this* close to adding food color to the tea I was making for the adults. Stopped myself just in time.

* It was a pain to buy all the assorted party stuff. I wish there were shops like dollar store and party city here. But then,... this was more fun! :)

* After the party, Ashu came to me and told, "Thank you for the nice party, Amma. Can you make me a rainbow cake again?" Need I say anything more? :)

April 28, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes.

Today morning, I heard Ashu sing.

"Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily merrily merrily merrily
life is ABOUT a dream!"


Whoa! I immediately thought of Tharini and how she would ve written a profound post on this and how I can only go "whoa"! :)

April 27, 2010

27.04.2010

Here we are, Ashu. The magic number five. Its hitting me today more than the previous birthdays. You were after all only 1, 2, 3 and then 4. But now? You are FIVE. How much ever I want to avoid this "oh I cant believe you are so big. It feels like yesterday when the nurse brought you to me and I faked tears!", I am just not able to. Now that that's safely out of the way, what a year this has been! I don't know if I'm repeating this in all my birthday letters to you but this year has been the absolute best. Your little sister helped you in her own way to make it a great year and don't you ever forget that! She has been your playmate, punching bag, best friend, arch rival, soul sister,... all combined in one. But you ve been nothing but a role model for her. According to your little sister, you can do no wrong. And from my personal experience, its not going to change. Ever. Its a heavy cross to bear. So good luck with that!

You ve been going full days to school this whole year and loving everything about it. G is still your best friend and your teacher promised me that you both will be in the same class next year too because she does nt have the heart to break you two up. How sweet that you can make such strong bonds in such a young age! And when your teacher told me how you took M, the new girl in your class, under your wing and mothered her and made her feel welcome, I was so proud of you. Keep it up, dear. I do hope you don't clam up when I'm around though. I have nt heard you speak one word to your teachers or your classmates when I'm present. It breaks my heart not to see you bubbly and chatty but your teacher reassures me that you are very vocal otherwise. If I ask you, your reply is "But I'm shy, Amma!" Sigh!

We travelled so much this year and you ve been such a sport. You love staying at hotels and going by bus, tram and trains. You spent a considerable amount of time with your grand parents, uncle and aunt this year and I'm happy that we are able to pull this off year after year. You are so lucky to have such wonderful people in your life and that you see them a lot. I remember how you brave you were and did nt cry when we left India this time. And you understood when Paati left back to India after staying with us for almost 3 months. It amazes me to see how mature you are and how clearly you understand the rules of life. At the same time, you are absolutely certain that you want to visit your aunt and uncle this summer and even went on to tell your aunt over the phone, "You come here and take Antu and me with you to the US, Perimma. Let Amma and Appa stay back in Zurich"! Hmph!

The tantrums miraculously stopped when you hit 4 1/2. They do surface on and off but I can take that. And like you told me the other day, "I am not a robot, Amma" when I asked you to give me a big smile when you were upset about something! The cheek! By the way, you are the least materialistic person in this household. If its giving your car seat to your sister or the stroller or your clothes or your shoes, I have nt ever seen you even flinch. That's some trait I am still trying to acquire so hats off to you. Also, one can take you to a toy shop without a worry because you never seem to want anything that badly. You might point to something and ask me if we can buy it but you are very understanding if I say no. You have always been like this but I never thought its a big deal until I took your sister shopping the other day. Could you train her or something for me, pretty please?

You are so interested in reading and writing and the artsy-crafty stuff now that its not funny. I pack your writing pad, paper and pencils first before packing a snack for you when we go out these days. I have learnt to do so much this year that I'm quite surprised that I even have a creative side in me. You are everything I dreamed about, my dear girl. You are the perfect little five year old I imagined you will be. You know what I do to make myself feel better as a mom when I'm really, really feeling low? I compare myself to some really irresponsible adults. (I know that I tell you all the time not to compare but then have I ever lectured you on hypocrisy? Never.) But even in my lowest of lows, I never had to compare you to another child. And I promise I never will. Just shove this letter in front of my face if I ever did, OK? Love you with all my heart, my dearest Princess. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday!

Love,
Amma.

April 24, 2010

Remembering the Baby Shower.

I read this post of mine today and laughed my way through the comments. One of the high points of my second pregnancy! Happy 2nd Anniversary, Doulas and fellow MTBs. You all are being remembered very fondly today.

Have a nice day! Spread the joy like you always seem to do. :)


ps.

Read this post and then this post if you are new here and want the full story. Or just read this post for a summary. I'm nothing if not a shameless self-plugger! ;)

April 20, 2010

Anti-jinx.

It has been more than a year since Antu was sleep trained. So she goes to sleep on her own in her crib and wakes up again only in the morning.(To Hd - This is not boasting. Just blogging. I know. I know. Its all the same.) There has not been one night in this period where she has woken up in the middle of the night. And all was well with the world. And then one night recently, she started crying uncontrollably around 2 am. Hd went to her room to pat her but she just would nt stop crying. So he brought her to our bed but she would nt quieten down even then. Then I put her on my chest and she stopped crying. She went to sleep in a few minutes. Hd transferred her to the crib again. And then she got up at 8 am the next day. We were really wondering what disturbed her sleep. She had a bit of a cough and Hd was blaming it on the cold. But I had a different theory.

Me - I think it was a jinx.
Hd - What do you mean?
Me - The other day this friend went aahh oohh over our kids sleeping habits.
Hd - *in an accusatory tone* who asked you to go and boast?
Me - First of all, I did nt boast. She asked if they sleep on their own and through the night and I said a simple yes.
Hd - You could ve underplayed it.
Me- Look. I cant lie about the kids like you do. And most importantly, I dont believe in this evil eye business.
Hd - You dont? *smirks*
Me - I dont, ok? I was just thinking aloud about the coincidence, thats all.
Hd - But you did think about it that way, right?
Me - Dude! You are my husband! I will tell you whatever goes through my mind and you cant judge me!
Hd - Thats what you will say. And then you will go blog about it and tell the whole world!
Me - No, I wont!

Oops.

April 14, 2010

Amsterdam & Keukenhof.

As if the Como trip was nt hectic enough, we went to Amsterdam last weekend. This trip was planned even before the Como trip actually. I ve been wanting to see the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens for the past 3 years and since the garden is open only 2 months in a year, it just was nt happening for us. At last, we managed this year and what a sight it was! It was terribly cold for this time of the year but we managed to see a little bit of the city and Keukenhof in the two and half a days we were there.

Day1:

We landed in Schiphol around lunch time. Took the airport to hotel shuttle and reached our hotel. Antu protested against being a lap child on the plane and promptly sat in Hds seat and even wore the seat belt herself (and I wonder why the poor air hostesses show people how to wear the belt! I mean for who's benefit?) and refused to budge. Hd was standing until the seat belt sign came on and then I bribed Antu with a biscuit, distracted her and sang to her and she went to sleep. Phew! She got up only when we reached our hotel room! Now that's what I call effective teleportation!! We ate the sandwiches we bought from the airport, got ready and went to the city. We roamed around the Central area and took a tram to Vondelpark. Walked a while in the park. But it got terribly cold, so we bought some falafel to go and rushed back to our hotel.

Day2:

We took the shuttle to the airport and from there took a bus to Keukenhof. It was a bit cold and the tulip fields were nt as colorful as I thought they would be. But the garden itself is worth the trip. It is AMAZING! It is the worlds largest flower garden and seven million bulbs are planted every year in this 80 acre garden, so let your imagination wild! There are tulips, narcissus and hyacinth everywhere you look. In pots and planters. Different shapes and sizes. All clearly labeled. The effort it takes to keep this garden baffles me! There is also a cute kids play area with farm animals. A picturesque windmill. An indoor flower show. A flower shop. Restaurants. Museum. A free guided tour. And even though thousands and thousands of people visit in these 2 months, the place is so huge that its no big deal. We were there the whole day. Antu napped, lunched, snacked and went "aiii fowers!" every few minutes and then gave up after a while! Ashu was enthralled by the whole place.

Day3:

My sore throat worsened and I was feverish. But nothing could stop me from venturing out. We reached the city after our breakfast and went straight to the Van Gogh museum. It has been my dream to go visit this museum since it did nt happen when we went to Amsterdam nine years back. At last, it was fulfilled. We have a small Sunflowers print in our house so Ashu knows a little about the painter from me. She was looking forward to see the original painting. Antu was in the stroller looking around for a while and then slept off. I bought myself an audio guide and saw that they had a children's audio guide too. Ashu was thrilled to have her own guide and where ever there was a butterfly symbol near a painting, she would punch that number in her guide and listen to the tape about that painting. What more fun for a kid, huh? We both were in our own worlds for a good part of the museum trip. She just understood bits and pieces of words here and there and coined her own story. (The Potato Eaters - "They are eating potato amma. And they are not happy. They are sad." Sunflowers - "Thats Van Goghs favorite flower, amma. I like sunflowers too. But I like Tulips more after we saw them yesterday. We have this painting at home." Almond Blossom - "He painted it for a baby, Amma. I think its for a boy because its blue. He painted the tree first and then the sky. I love this one, Amma. Can we buy this?" Poppies and butterflies - "This is my favorite amma. It has butterflies.") I don't know what was more exciting. Seeing the largest collection of Van Goghs paintings or seeing them with Ashu!

After a hurried lunch, we rushed to the airport to catch our plane back to Zurich. Reached home around dinner time. I cant help but wonder how a plane ride, however short it may be, just exhausts everyone out. Anyway, the spring break(what spring?! bah!) has been really good. We braved bad weather, illness and what not to see the places we planned to see. So yay us!!

April 09, 2010

Gym Diary - 2.

This is to officially record that I have successfully completed the C25K programme. I desperately wanted to complete it by March but the Easter Weekend coincided and ruined my plans. So I completed the last day this week. I think Day 1 was mid Jan. It has taken me 11 1/2 weeks to complete the 9 weeks programme. Which is not so bad considering I have never seen through any of my personal goals before. I have quit bharatha natyam class, hindi class, carnatic music class, computer courses, maths tuition, physics tuition, chemistry tuition, yoga class, swimming class, previous gym memberships, .... Heck, even Ashu and Antu were delivered 3 days and 6 days earlier than the due date!! ;)

Anyway, heres the Oscar speech. Even though I knew whats C25K from Broom, I never thought I had it me to do it so I was nt even tempted. Then one day in Jan, a blog friend (*waves*) wrote and asked if we can do it together and I thought I ll give it a try. She did nt continue (frankly she does nt need it! ;) but surprise, surprise I did! Im not a person who does lots of research before doing anything. I just jump on it and learn on the way. (and quit without a care if I'm bored or lazy!) This time, the encouragement from all my friends and Antu adjusting well in the day care really, really motivated me. So thank you pals! You know who you are. And thanks to all of you who took time to comment in my previous gym diary post and recommended songs! (You thought I ll forget to thank you? :)

Though Im able to run for 30-35 minutes now, Im still not able to run fast enough to complete 5 kms in 30 minutes. I am able to do only 4. So my plan is to continue the programme, slowly increasing my speed and try to do 5 kms. Lets see how many more weeks it takes for me to reach that target. Now that spring is here, Im looking forward to run in the outdoors. Hope the neighborhood does nt protest! ;)

April 08, 2010

Lake Como.

This was one of our lousiest vacations ever! It rained when we reached Bellagio, it rained for the next 2 days and it was bright and sunny on the day we left. If I could go back in time, I would ve broken a sadhir thengai at the nearby Pillayaar temple before we left. (Yes, Amma. I should nt have left at raahu kaalam, I know!)



Let me start at the beginning. Como is around 3 1/2 drive from Zurich. We reached in EIGHT hours. First, we missed a road because there was some road work going on and it was confusing. Had to go 15 kms to just take an U turn. Then just before the Gothard Tunnel(the 17 km, 3rd longest tunnel in the world), the traffic built up and we like smart cookies took an exit to go via another town. But due to snow, every pass was closed. Add another 2 hours for this. We had lunch at a cosy joint and joined the Gothard traffic again. Miraculously, there was no jam and we just zoomed past. I was driving by this time and once we entered Italy and people started changing lanes without indicators, I said no way and asked Hd to drive. If we are going to die, let it be in his hands. Then we drove in those winding narrow roads, reached Cadennabia and took the car ferry (12 euros! akramam!) to reach Bellagio. We drove in the cobble stoned narrow roads and reached our apartment hotel. Hd dropped us and found a parking spot nearby to park the car. We saw the car again only when we left Bellagio on the 4th day.

Bellagio is the prettiest place ever. It is situated at the tip separating the Y shaped Lake Como. Looks like we are entering the middle ages when we enter Bellagio. Steps and slopes everywhere. Not exactly stroller friendly. But one can manage. There was a Gelateria right opposite our hotel where I had the most amazing french vanilla and pistachio Gelato for dinner! The next day, it was cloudy and gloomy and so cold! Good we all had taken our jackets and woollens. Actually, the kids had them. Hd and I were shivering in our spring jackets. We left for Villa Menzi. A leisurely walk in the gardens. It was nice. We got back to the center again, had a late lunch in a lovely restaurant, ran back to the hotel in the rain. Passed the day by eating more gelato, watching Chicken Little movie in Italian.


On Sunday it rained non stop. But we said enough is enough, covered antus stroller with the rain cover, ashu was all hooded up, Hd too. I held an umbrella and we walked to the ferry point, bought tickets for Lenno to visit Villa Balbianello. We got down in Lenno and was told that it was a 5 mins walk to the villa. Happily, we walked in the rain in the direction of the villa only to be told that its only the entry point and we ve to walk 20 mins uphill from there to reach the entrance. There was a water taxi stand but there was nobody there and we were nt sure what to do. So we walked uphill. Antu slept off in her stroller and poor Hd pushed the stroller and walked. Ashu was all wet and tired and hungry and cranky but poor thing did nt complain much. We reached the entrance after 30 mins. I knew there was a compulsory guided tour for the villa but only if there were enough people. But thankfully, there were other idiots like us waiting in the villa. We bought the tickets. We were told that there was a tour at 12.25 and we can see the gardens until then. While Hd and Antu stood under a shade, Ashu and I went to explore. The views are just breathtaking. The garden is beautiful. The villas location is just out of the world. But the rain ruined everything for us! Hd remarked as soon as we entered the gardens that he thought the last scene in Casino Royale was shot here. I had no idea. But the guided tour later confirmed that fact! whaddayaknow? I should ask James Bond to tell my husband to buy milk the next time! May be he ll remember then! After a wonderful tour of the villa, we wisely took a water taxi right from the garden(10 euros but we did nt care this time!) to Lenno(5 mins boat ride) and then from there a ferry back to Bellagio. Hd bought some pizza and we ate in our room because Ashu said she did nt want to go anywhere anymore! We ate more Gelato and watched Toy Story 2 , Stuart Little 1 and Stuart Little 2. All in Italian.


The next day was bright and sunny. But we had to leave. We took the car ferry back to Cadennabia and since Villa Carlotta was just few minutes away, we drove there. But there was not one parking spot for miles. We should ve come by the ferry to visit the villa, gone back and then should have drove our car. But we made a mistake. So waved to the villa from the outside, ate lunch in a very lousy restaurant in the middle of nowhere and drove back to Zurich. We reached in four hours. Hd is confident that we ll go back to visit Como in Summer. But I think Ashu is scarred for life. I asked her what was her favorite thing about the trip and she said, "nothing, amma"! And this is the girl who loves going on trips. Antu clearly is happy to be home too because yesterday I was taking the girls to the park in the evening and was getting ready and Antu said, "bye amma" and closed the door on me. She was still inside! As for me, I ll go back for sure. Its worth it just for the cassata flavored Gelato! :)

April 01, 2010


Ashu has 2 weeks spring break and even though spring came and disappeared again, we are making the most of the break. Did I tell you we got her a bicycle? Yes we did. An early birthday gift and shes having a blast. She riding it with the trainer wheels, of course. We bought it on Saturday and since it rained that day and the next, we did nt go out much. Then on Monday I took her down after breakfast, after lunch and before dinner. And she was so excited. Reminded me of the days when sis and I used to rent a rickety old cycle from the cycle kadai and used to take turns with another friend riding the cycle. Sometimes, we were at it the whole day! Ah! Nothing like the beginning days of cycling, I tell you! I relived it again through Ashu.

Since we wanted to be fair, we bought a cycle bell for Antu! It has even mickey mouse on it! Its a different story that as soon as we came home, we fixed the bell to Ashus cycle! Poor Antu is going to spend a fortune on therapy.

We are off to Lake Como for the Easter weekend! See you all on the other side. Have a great weekend everyone. Leaving you with a special photo. Courtesy - Lindt. Only in Swiss! :)