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December 24, 2012

Christmas Cheer!

Antu: I want to make a card for Santa!
Ashu: Yay! come on, lets do it. Do you want me to write the letter for you?
Antu: Ok. You write. "Dear Santa, Give me a nice gift. Love, Antu".
Ashu: What? That's so rude! At least say "please"!
Antu: I don't want to say please.
Ashu: Then Santa wont give you a gift.
Antu: Ok. Then write "Please give me a nice gift"!
Ashu: *rolls eyes* What about "I hope you give me a nice gift?"
Antu: Ok.
Ashu: And "I hope you like our cookies!"
Antu: Ok.
Ashu: And "I hope you have a nice trip back to north pole."
Antu: Ok.
Ashu: Dont say OK for everything! It is YOUR card!
Antu: I just want to color and put some stickers. Give me the card!

(A few minutes later)

Ashu: Amma! Is it OK if I write "Thank you for the gifts" in my letter even though Santa has nt given the gifts yet?
Me: You can write whatever you want, Ashu! Santa will be happy to see your letter.
Ashu: But Amma, Santa is not even real!
Me: Then why are you writing a letter?
Ashu: Because you are keeping on saying that Santa is going to give the gifts and not you. And I don't know whom to thank!!
Me: !!!
Ashu: Also Amma, I wrote "I hope you like our cookies" to Santa so you or Appa better eat the cookies before Antu gets up in the morning, OK?

This is what one will get when one has a non believer and a believer in the family - a confused kid! Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy Holidays! :)

December 21, 2012

Schulsilvester.

When I got an email last week about Schulsilvester from Ashus teacher, I did the same thing I have been doing the last 5 months. Which is to translate the document from German to English! Needless to say, Google Translate has become my best friend these days! What I found out was very confusing. Sentences like "making as much noise as possible", "5 am and not earlier to school", ... make absolutely no sense at all when one is living in the Swiss! Panicking I called another mom to find out what this was all about and what do you know! Since today is the last day of school before the holidays, the children celebrate by walking to school from 5 am onwards making as much noise as possible with musical instruments like bells, horns, whistles,etc... Even banging pots and pans. And the older kids explode fire crackers too! Supposedly to drive out the old year! I never thought that I would use noise and the Swiss in the same sentence especially in the wee hours of the day! And since we have never spent the December holidays in Zurich in the last four years, we never even knew the existence of it. 

Ashu was quite thrilled about the whole thing and started rummaging her room to find something which would make the most annoying and loud noise! And at exactly 5 am today, we were woken up by loud bangs and for a moment I wondered if I was in India for Diwali! We managed to go back to sleep and I got up at 6.15 am and rudely woke up Ashu and armed with a wooden rattle, we walked down to meet Ashus friend and her mom. We were the only ones walking our children though! It was crazy to see all the children walking on their own in the pitch dark making loud noises with metal lids! According to tradition, people give nuts and sweets to the passing children, it seems. But from the look of it, I think the entire neighborhood left their homes for an early vacation! Who wants to begin their holidays getting up at 5 am to loud noises anyway!! Except us suckers, I mean! As I write, Ashu must be enjoying the party at school and eating breakfast and will be back home by 9 am! I wish I went back to sleep!

ps.
May be I should make some Venn Pongal prasadam since its Margazhi month after all and make some punyam out of it! ;) Im sure the person who is snoring right now would really like that!

November 28, 2012

All about our US Trip, School dance, Snow and a Spa Weekend!

When I said there is loads to tell in my previous post, I was nt kidding. 

Oct 5th to Oct 19th - The girls and I were in the US! It was a sudden trip and if you know me well, yes it was a surprise for my sister! I did tell BIL because for one his parents were visiting them and it was only proper to ask him and two, I wanted to make sure they are in town when we landed! Of course my sister had to work from home that day and when BIL walked into the house and we trailed behind him, Sis did nt know what hit her but managed to ask "So your husband finally threw you out?" Yes my dear friends, thats my sister for you! We had a fantastic time just chilling and preparing for Navarathri and Golu and the girls had a ball! My parents had no clue I was going to the US either so as usual Phase 2 of the surprise was done in Skype when they were talking with my sister and casually me and the kids walked in! I live for moments like these, I tell you! :)


Once we were back, I got busy preparing Ashu and seven other girls for the Indian group dance which we do every year for the school fest. Even though we are not part of the old school anymore, the socializing has nt stopped! It was quite tough this year to coordinate and meet and practice but somehow, we pulled it off! The performance was last Saturday and the girls did a great job! They danced to "Des Rangeela". Antu refused to be part of the dance though! Even though she is in ballet class this year and loves dancing, she was nt ready for stage yet! :)


And then it snowed an entire weekend in October! Need I say more?


Add to it, the umpteen coffees and lunches and Diwali dinners, it was crazy two months out here! But the best was when two friends and I went for a spa weekend! Ah, bliss! God knows why we dont do this often but I think I ve added five years to my life just by sitting in the jacuzzi and talking non stop with gal pals. We started talking as soon as we got into the car on Saturday morning, talked the entire way, lunch, spa, room, tea, dinner, room (until 3 am), then spa again the next morning, massages, lunch and the entire drive back! Long live BFFs!



November 26, 2012

Sleepless over Sleepovers.

I am alive! Last Saturday was such a big milestone for me that I decided to end my long hiatus and blog about it. Though Ashu has been asking for sleepovers with friends for a long time now, I did nothing to encourage the thought. One of my friends daughter (who is also Ashus friend) has come and stayed the night with us a couple of times but thats that. We have never sent Ashu to anyones house. And then last week Ashus BFF G's mom asked me if I can send Ashu to their house for a sleepover. Since Ashu has changed schools this year and is not with G anymore, I have been feeling very guilty to have separated them and I guess in a weak moment, I said yes. Ashu was over the moon, of course! So on the big day, she packed a bag with her pajamas and tooth brush and skipped and hopped and went to their house in their car. Around 8.30 pm when I called, G's mom told me that they are nowhere near sleeping and watching a movie! When I asked to talk to Ashu, she spoke to me as if I have interrupted something important! Even though I was nt worried, I could nt sleep until 3 am that night! It was really strange not to have Ashu in the house. The next day Gs mom took the girls directly to a birthday party and when I saw Ashu, it was 2 pm! Hugged her tight and asked about her big day but only got monosyllable answers! When we came home and she saw the poster I had put on our door, (Welcome back! We missed you!) her face broke into a huge grin and she hugged me and said "I missed you too, Amma! So when can I go for my next sleepover?" Sigh!

ps.
Loads of stuff to tell but absolutely no interest in putting the pen to paper means only one thing - this blog is dying a slow death. I apologize to all the people who are still interested in this blog and came by to check now and then and tried to wake me up. I am here now but dont know for how long! :)

September 24, 2012

Ashu does it again. And again!

The other day, our conversation turned to the subject of adoption and I was telling Ashu how I had always wanted to adopt a baby but it never happened. And she had many questions about babies without a parent and asked how it happens and why it happens, etc...I explained it to Ashu and was asking Ashu if she wished she had a brother and Antu quickly replied, "I dont want a brother. I want a sister." "A little sister?", I asked her. Yes, she replied! :) "May be I should adopt a baby girl now. What do you think, Ashu?"

No Amma. I dont think you should.
But why?
I dont think its a good idea.
Why not? I just told you how some children need a home! Dont you think those kids deserve a loving family too?
Adoption is great, Amma. Its a good thing to do. But I dont think YOU should do it!
EXCUSE ME? Why would you say that?
You are already stressed with just the two of us, Amma. And you are so strict with us. I dont want you to be strict with an adopted baby!

I dont remember what I replied to her or if I replied at all! My heart sure broke a little though.

September 16, 2012

The Hills are Alive.

Last week was a long weekend here and we decided on Friday and drove to Salzburg on Saturday. A friends family joined us for the first two days. Salzburg is beautiful! We have been to Vienna before but Salzburg is so different and so charming! We reached late afternoon and walked around the old town visiting the cathedrals. The salzburg cathedral is very impressive and it has the bronze font where Mozart was baptized, which I made Ashu touch! (thottu kumbtufy if you want to know! :) Then we bought tickets and went to visit the Hohensalzburg castle. Its on top of a hill and reminded me of Rock fort in Trichy! Wherever you go, it is there! The castle tour is quite interesting! The interior was grand and the view was amazing. 


The next day we took the Sound of Music Tour. I loved it! The Panaroma Tours pick you up right from your hotel and take you to Mirabell gardens and from there, the bus tour begins. Our guide, Naomi was fantastic! She played all the songs from the movie during the tour and most of us sang along! Ashu was quite shocked seeing her mother croon "I am sixteen..." with such intensity! There were lots of interesting information about the movie, actors, locations, etc... The first stop was at Leopoldskron Palace where the children went boating on the lake and fell down. Second stop was at Hellbrunn palace where one of the songs was shot and it also has the gazebo where "I am sixteen" was filmed! The third  stop is at Mondsee where Maria and the Captain got married. It was a beautiful place where we tried the customary Apfelstrudel! Yum! Then the tour takes you back to Mirabell gardens and we walked around on our own trying to sing Do Re Mi at the exact locations it was filmed! The tour made me all nostalgic and I was making evil eyes at Hd because this is a tour I should have totally gone with my sis and cousin A instead of the clueless husband and two kids! The tour took me back 20 or so years when the three of us paused the tape recorder after every word so as to memorize the sound of music songs and rewriting "You are sixteen" and singing it together with A for Sis's birthday! Good old days!

Our friends drove back to Zurich after the tour. We visited the Mozart museums and did a short river cruise and a pizza dinner before getting back to our hotel. The next day we drove to Berchtesgaden (in Germany) to visit the salt mine. All of us had to wear overalls and go on a train deep into the tunnels and it was quite scary! The tour was very interesting though. We had lunch at the restaurant outside the salt mine and drove to Obersalzburg to visit the Kehlsteinhaus. (Eagles Nest) Its a chalet built on top of a mountain peak and was given as a gift for Hitler's 50th birthday! The location of the chalet and the views from there should be seen to be believed! The chalet is a restaurant now. One has to park in Oberslazburg and take a bus to reach the restaurant. And climb a bit from there to go to the top. Spectacular! It was 4 pm by now and we drove back to Zurich. I drove the last 300 kms crossing Germany, Austria and entering Swiss. Delightful!

Salzburg was full of mozart and music! There were people playing violin at every street corner. Ashu told me that she wished she brought her violin! I wish too! The money collected could have at least paid for her museum ticket! :)

August 27, 2012

Antu starts Preschool again!


Antu started her new pre school and today was her first day without me. She missed the cut off by 2 months for Kindergarten this year so she has to go to pre school again. Now that we know we will be going the local school route for her too, we have changed her preschool to a bilingual one. Last week was induction and she went for a couple of hours each day but I stayed with her too. Today madam got ready and I left her in her class and could nt even stay for a few minutes because I had to go for my physiotherapy session. I just waved a good bye and left. When I went to pick her up at 1 pm (From next week, she ll be there full day until 4.30 pm, 3 days a week) she was happily getting paper and color pens from the shelves and refused to come home with me. I stayed with her for 5 minutes until she finished her coloring and brought her home. The preschool group head said she was absolutely fine and even ate good lunch which was... wait for it... salad, country potatoes, green beans, bread, cheese! Of course I refuse to believe it until I see video evidence! And when I asked Antu if she likes the school, she said, "That girl E said she is my friend. And there are real bunnies in the school, Amma and they really LOVE me!" Of course its all about "me" when it comes to my little diva. Such an attention seeker, I tell you! 




And that reminds me we went to the rope park again yesterday after a long time and now that Antu is four, she can do the kids beginner course there. So we got her the harness, helmet, etc.. and it was hilarious to see her literally shaking like a leaf while walking the course! She stopped at one point and absolutely refused to walk and there were 10 kids behind her waiting for her to move! And we had to call for help and the lady working there had to climb up and rescue her! Talk about being a drama queen! If she does nt get attention, she ll demand it I guess! Of course she said she wanted to go again and got stuck again! Uff! I had thought that Ashu would be a scaredy cat and Antu would be more of a dare devil but its the other way round. As yet.  

August 26, 2012

Just Married, Please Excuse by Yashodhara Lal.


The very talented and funny Yashodhara Lal whose blog I have been following for a long time is out with her first book as well. I think I have to dedicate a whole book shelf for bloggers turned writers and label it "Books written by people I know!" ("I think I know" does nt sound so good!) Congrats Y and wishing you all things wonderful!


If you're one of those people who know that married life can have its hilarious moments, please pay attention to this one:

It's really very, very simple - 

1. You write a post on your blog, describing an incident aboutsomething funny that has happened to you as a part of married life, preferably when you were 'Just Married'. (By 31st August 2012)

2. HarperCollins and I select the 20 best entries and they will be sent copies of my book; and 10 Delhi-based bloggers get to join me and VK Karthika, (Chief Editor of HarperCollins and all round super-cool person) for a leisurely Saturday lunch at the new Mamagoto outlet in Gurgaon for some really great food ( I'm told the Khan Market outlet is never less than packed, and for good reason). Oh, and there'll be some good conversation too :).

Some things to keep in mind to be eligible for this contest: 

1. The Title of your post should be The 'Just Married, Please Excuse' Contest 
2. Please include in your post a link back to Y's post.
3. Please leave a link to your entry in Y's comments section to this post.
4. In case you don't have a blog of your own, do leave your entry in the comments section to Y's post. In case you face issues while commenting, email your story at yashodhara dot lal at gmail dot com (But only up to two such comment/email entries can win, so you better make it funny)
5.Note -If you're not married, but still want to participate, you can do it - just tell us about a funnyJust Married story about someone you know! 

August 23, 2012

You Never Know When You'll Get Lucky by Priya Narendra.

When I said its raining books this season in my last post, I was nt kidding. Blogger Priya Narendra is out with her first book "You never know when you'll get lucky". And there is a fun contest to participate. Take a picture with Priyas book and send it to ureadshop@gmail.com and lucky winners will get books worth Rs.2000. Click the banner for more details. Hurry up and win!




Congrats Priya and keep rocking!

Have You Seen This? by Arthi Anand Navaneeth.

Its raining books this season from loads of fellow bloggers and one special book is written by none other than Art Navy from our very own IndianMommies corner! :) We are so proud of you, Art! Cant wait to lay my hands on this pretty book.


Have You Seen This?

Text : Arthi Anand Navaneeth
Pictures : Roomani Kulkarni

It's a very mixed-up world where flowers talk, doors run and trees fly! The goofy text of this mad little bilingual spins on wacky illustrations that whirl the reader along. Available in 8 language combinations it can spark off any child's (or adult's) imagination!

Target age- 3-7yrs

Here is a review of the book at Saffron Tree.
You can buy it  online from Tulika and at Flipkart

August 20, 2012

2. Klasse

Ashu started 2nd Grade today. On any day, I would be crying and getting senti over it. But this is a big change in so many levels.  We switched her from the international school (IS) she has been going to for the past 4 1/2 years to the local school (LS). Even though IS was a 15 km/20 minutes drive and now LS is a mere 250 metres/5 mins walk from home, the huge change which was giving me sleepless nights (just a figure of speech. I slept like a log!) was the language. From a complete English environment with a bit of German lessons twice a week, she would be going to a completely German school. And last month when we went to meet the class teacher, he had a translator present for our benefit!! With self doubt every step of the way, I was worried Ashu will catch on to it. But bless her little soul, she was quite brave about the whole change. Today I walked her to school with the intent of going upto her class and have a few words with her teacher but when we went there was not one parent in sight! (All kids are supposed to walk to school on their own!) What a sharp contrast to the IS where truck loads of parents can be found outside school at any given time of the day! A little girl from Ashus class figured out shes the new girl and asked me if she can take her inside and Ashu was ok too. So I just left her there and walked back home. *sob sob* 

And you know what? Shes going to come home for lunch at noon! Thats what all the kids do. Or go to the Hort where they can have supervised lunch bought from the cafeteria. They cant take packed lunch. And she has a one hour and 50 mins lunch break! Have you fainted yet? If not, another bit of a shocker. She has only 3 full days in a week. Wednesday is a half day for everyone anyway. And her class is off on Friday afternoons too. So she will be home at 11.50! There goes my full day plans! I left the house at 11.45 today to pick up Ashu for lunch and she met me half way! She came running and hugged me and had a huge grin on her face! Phew. And then she dropped a bomb that broke my heart to million little pieces! She said, "Dont come to school anymore, Amma. I can walk on my own!"

August 10, 2012

French Riviera.

We were off to South of France last week and had a fantastic time in the coast. Seven days of bliss. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in Nice with swimming pools and the girls had fun. It was very hot during the day so we did the beaches only after 5 pm. While it is completely a pebble beach in Nice, its sandy in Antibes and Cannes. Mind boggling really since they are so close to each other and yet the beaches were so different!

Monaco was so pretty. A funny thing happened. I was entering Monaco in the GPS while driving from Nice and the damn GPS just would nt recognize. We just went in the general direction and once we were in Monaco I tried again to find some place and it did nt. I thought it went kaput and then the light bulb hit me. I had the country selected as France and I had to change it to Monaco! duh! The Oceanographic museum and The Exotic Garden in Monaco are must see.

Ashu enjoyed the Matisse museum and seeing his works kept repeating "This is easy! I can do it!" loudly much to my embarrassment! :)

We went to Marineland in Antibes one afternoon and man! did we choose the hottest day ever! The killer whale show was worth it. The entry price is ridiculously expensive though!

The medieval villages in Vence, Grasse,... were simply beautiful. The cobblestone roads, the narrow alleys, restaurants, cute shops and galleries,.. It was so nice to just walk through the numerous alleys!

We visited a perfume factory in Grasse, the perfume capital! One would think that the perfumes would be cheaper to buy there but no sirree! It was an interesting tour though.

Cannes is so beautiful. We visited the Palais des Festivals and took the customary photo standing on the red carpet! Not as glamorous as you think since you are sharing screen space with a dozen other strangers!!! The beach is great. Anitbes too. But Nice is the best since its all pebbles and no mess! :) And the kids loved to throw the pebbles in the sea! Win-win! But be warned that the kids will collect pebbles in all kinds of shapes and sizes and insist on bringing them home! I was just glad that I did nt bring my mom to this trip. She would have sure emptied the beach and brought all the rocks home!

Driving around the coast means lots of toll booths. We set the GPS to avoid Toll after the first day and that was the best decision ever. Not only did we save money but also drove through more picturesque roads with spectacular views!

I kept nagging Hd that I wanted to ride a jet ski the entire week and at last on the very last day, we found a place. Ashu was quite shocked! "Are you going to ski", she asked me with a worried look! Grr.... Hd and Ashu went first to test the waters and God! Was frustrating to look at them! Hd should get an award for the slowest jet ski rider ever! Then it was my turn and Ashu who was ready to ride again realized it was with me and wisely refused! The rat! I had fun though I realized why Hd was so slow. The sea was so rough since it was late evening and could nt go in a straight line at all! I kept going in circles! Thrillingly scary! I had no watch on me and did nt know how much time has passed and the guard had to come and escort me back! So it was paisa vasool! :)

We survived on pizza, pasta or panini for every lunch. Managed to cook dinners with very limited supplies in the apartment. Was so nice the four of us sitting in the spacious balcony and eating and chatting. I realized how relaxing it is when I don't have to do everything by the clock. Dinner was at 9.30 and kids went to bed at 10.30. We all got up late, had breakfast and stepped out only to find a restaurant for lunch. It was a true vacation. At home, Im such a stickler for time that to get the kids to bed by 7.45 means that  everything has to work like clockwork the entire day and its so stressful. 

A week flew by and I hated to leave. Hd tells me, "We are going back home. To SWITZERLAND! And you are sad?" Hmph! Whatever!

July 24, 2012

The One in which Ashu has Existential Crisis.

A couple of days ago after a bedtime story, I casually asked Ashu if she wants to talk about something.

Yes, Amma. I have a question.
Go ahead.
Why are we here?
*taken aback* What?
Why are people on Earth, Amma? For what? Why is nt Earth without any living things like the other planets?

Thats it people. I am retiring as a parent. I did nt sign up for this. 

I told her that its an excellent, excellent question and it has many answers and gave her different possible answers and also added that its a question everyone wants to know an answer for. When I asked her to come up with her own answer she said, "I have absolutely no idea. I will think about it!" When I tried to sell her crap by telling that my purpose is to love my 2 girls and bring them up as good human beings she asked, "Then what about Perimma (my sis)? Whats her purpose? What should be my purpose? I dont have any babies yet!" 

There comes a time in every parents life when even Google cant help you answer your kids questions and this is such a time for me. HELP!

July 22, 2012

Ashu & Antu get a summer make over!

Remember this old post when Ashu had her first hair cut? Well, after three and a half years, history repeats itself!

Here is Antu! We did nt have the heart to chop it all off like we did for Ashu when she was 4 though!


 This truly broke my heart. But what to do?



June 27, 2012

27.06.2012



Dear Antu,

I seem to go through completely opposite emotions when it comes to you and your sister's birthdays. In your case, ever since your 3rd birthday you have been asking when will your 4th birthday come and if you can have your party at "Planeta Magic!" So by the time you got your wish, it feels like a long time has passed and Im left wondering why you are still tiny and why you have nt left for college yet! :) And Im sure when that day comes, you will walk away without a backward glance leaving a sobbing mess of a mom! You are truly a heart breaker! With your lovely curls and your naughty smile, you can get away with anything. Your only problem is me! A mom who is always one step ahead of you, a mom who knows your next move before you can make it, a mom who was exactly like you when she was a kid and remembers everything - there lies your problem. I will try to ignore my instincts as much as possible and turn a blind eye whenever I can ok? I promise.

We call you a little Diva at home and you do act like one. Either its changing clothes a dozen times a day or playing dress up or color coordinating your outfit with your shoes and hair bands, they way you eat wiping your mouth with a napkin after every bite, demanding attention wherever you go,... uff! You are high maintenance! The whole family got a hair cut this week and it was your first. You sat on the high chair and acted as if you are used to it. The hair dresser was all ooh and aah about your hair and refused to cut it really short like I asked her to because "lovely curls! no cut!" When she finished and put a small clip on your hair, the entire salon went awwwww..... at you! God! I never thought I ll ever get all teary eyed in a hair cutting salon of all places!! 

You went to two schools this year, an English pre school for two days and a German play group for two days and followed me everywhere on Fridays! While you talk non stop in English, I have nt heard anything other than "Nein" from you in German. Although you seem to understand everything your German teacher says, I have nt seen you talk to her either. Hope you pick up the language more this year since you will be going to a new bilingual school soon. The lesser we talk about your Tamil, the better. While Ashu got into English after quite a strong Tamil foundation, you did nt. You and Ashu talk to each other in English all the time much to my irritation and I am determined to change it this year, so help me God! You have lots of friends and very clear in who is your friend and who is not. You are nt diplomatic at all and if you dont like something or someone, you say it as it is. Making you do something is quite impossible if you are not in the mood for it. But you are all charm when you want to be. 

You have been saying "Only when Im four!" for many things like skiing classes, Ballet classes, cycling, big school, swimming, writing, etc... etc... Now that the day is here, you go girl! Go do everything you want to do and enjoy this year! I will be right beside you driving you everywhere! :) I love you my little princess and cant imagine my life without all the drama you add to it. It would be utterly boring without you twirling in your pink tutu, without you calling me "Ammi" in your own special, sweet way and without an out and out daddys girl. May you live long and keep spreading the sunshine like you always do. Happy Birthday darling!

Love,
அம்மா. 

June 14, 2012

The Last Day of Many Things.

This week has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. Farewells and goodbyes are tough for me and when I have to do that for myself and my two girls, its so overwhelming! Today was Ashu's last day in First grade. Even on a good day that would bring tears to my eyes and now that she is not going to return to the same school, it makes it a million times worse! It was Antu's class performance yesterday in her school and she got a trophy and a certificate for finishing pre school and since shes not going to return to this school as well, it made me an emotional wreck! I cried all the way home today after dropping Ashu. Antu was also unusually quiet in the car! Wonder why we realize how much we love something only when we let it go! 

Antus German playgroup will go on for a few more weeks but for Ashu, its going to be a looooong holiday of NINE weeks! I dont know what I was thinking when I decided to stay put here for the holidays! This is going to be our first summer here not counting 2008 when Antu was born. (I did nt even see any sunlight that summer since I was stuck at home!)  Wish me luck!

Will leave you guys with a little anecdote. I finished vacuuming the house and asked Ashu to put the vacuum away. Next thing you know, I hear Antu crying! When asked why, she says, "I wanted to pull your plug Amma! But Ashu pulled your plug instead!" Sigh! My future looks so bright!

June 06, 2012

A conversation with Ashu at the Basel Zoo.

Look at those gorillas. They look so sad.

They always look sad, Amma!

But poor animals! They can never get out of that cage!

Its big, Amma. There are three or four rooms for them to walk around.

But still, they have to live there all the time!

Its just like us living in a house, Amma! 

!!!

*a while later after picking up my jaw from the floor*

But you go to school Ashu. Go to a park. They cant do that, can they? They can have so much fun in the forest, right?

Amma, do you know what a wingspan is?

Yes. Do you?

No, not wingspan. I mean life span. Do you know?

Yes.

So the life span of the animals is more in the zoo. More than in the forest. So thats a good thing.

*bangs head*

There goes my chance at making Ashu an animal activist. Shes too pragmatic for me!

On the zoo note, she also educated us on lady birds. And while telling us about eggs and larvae and aphids and lifespan she asked us, "Do you know what mating is?" and went on to explain how the male sits on the females back and the female lays eggs! Who is this young lady and what did she do with my little girl?

June 03, 2012

Please Vote for a Worthy Cause.


Our society believes that girl children are a liability. They have always been targeted. New born girl children have been killed and abandoned for decades. Ultrasound technology has only made this worse. Girls children are being aborted as early as 20 weeks, while still in the mother’s womb. Which is less humane, no body can tell.
Many of us feel strongly for this and due to many reasons, we have been arm chair activists. Now is a chance to be an arm chair activist AND make a difference.
Arti Home For Girls is an orphanage for abandoned girls children based out of Kadappa, Andhra Pradesh. Its founder Sandhya, has been working with abandoned girl children and women forced to abort their unborn girl children for the past 20 years. She has contributed in many levels and has made a difference in the lives of more than 1000 girl children.
Arti Home is participating in the IMPACT CONTEST. Winning this contest will give many unborn children a chance of survival, women a possibility to stand up for their girl children, educational and vocational training for the abandoned girls.
Please vote and show your support.
What to do:
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May 27, 2012

Where did May go?

I cant believe Ashu has less than three weeks of school left. May-June is such a crazy period in school what with concerts, sports day, farewells, lunches, coffees, partys,... There was nt a minute to sit down and take a note of anything. This month began with Ashu's birthday party at the Kindercity. I had completely outsourced the party this time partly due to my leg and partly because I was afraid Hd would walk out on me! So around 15 girls had fun making chocolate covered fruit sticks, knowing all about chocolate and having fun at the terrace riding trains and battery operated cars in miniature roads and taking home their fruit sticks, an apron and loads of fun memories! Ashu had a blast, so thats that.



Mid May was a 4 day long weekend and we planned at the last minute and went to Cinque Terre in Italy. Cinque Terre is 5 Villages along the rugged coast and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was so beautiful and so picturesque. We stayed 5 minutes away in Levanto and took the train to visit the villages. We walked only between two villages in the Via Dell'Amore. It was fantastic. We also took a boat ride one of the days to get the view of the villages form the sea. Its hard to describe the beauty of it. Half a day we just spent at the beach in Monterosso and it was pure bliss. Not to mention the Gelatto! Yum!



On May 22nd, Ashu had her Violin recital. She played a solo song called "Saraswati" which was in her book! And three more songs along with the group. The recital was very beautiful just like last time though Ashu made a teeny mistake in the note towards the end and I was all chuffed because I could recognize it! No one can call me tone deaf now! :) Since she is changing schools this year, we dont know whether she will continuing her classes with the same teacher. I hope she does but that would mean classes during weekends and I dont know if we are ready for it. Sigh! Decisions, decisions!



It is Cousin S's birthday today and I threw a dinner party for her and a few of her friends last evening. It feels so good to feed the young! :) My cake turned out fantastic much to my surprise. I made butter cream frosting for the first time and it came out yummy! And Rainbow cake on Ashu's request. Antu who never eats cake unless and until its plain licked the frosting clean this time. Happy Birthday, S! :)



And some friends are coming over in a while to watch the IPL finals together. Go CSK! :)

May 08, 2012

A Big Fat Indian Wedding.

Our India trip in April was such a hit! To begin with, this was the first time we were going to India for two weeks. Usually its at least 4 weeks! But I found out that one can accomplish a lot in 2 weeks in spite of a broken knee! :) Restaurant hopping like crazy - check. Shopping like crazy - check. Attend at least two weddings - check. The only thing I missed this trip was going to Kumbakonam where my parents live. But since they were to be in Madras the whole time, I thought it would nt matter. But what do you think happened? My parents along with my sister and Bil took both Ashu and Antu and went to Kmu for three whole days leaving me all alone with my ILs. All because Ashu said that an India trip is not complete if she does nt get to see her Thatha-Paati's house and her Kmu friends! Some people have it all, I tell you! Hd joined us only the second week and even then he had to work from there. 

My cousin R's wedding was on 12th and we were leaving on 13th, so the last 3 days were quite a blur. It was a beautiful wedding. And for the first time, Sis and I experienced the royal treatment one gets when ones part of the Groom's party! R and P made a cute couple and I really had to choke back tears when I was tying the third knot in the Thaali. I totally get now why certain women get crazily possessive when their sons/brothers get married! R's whole life flashed in front of my eyes in a second. How I baby sat him for an entire summer when he was teeny weeny baby, stealing his cerelac and eating it, how on the day of his ayush homam my ears were pierced, helping him with home work when he was a little boy, playing badminton, chess, carom and cards with him, how I named his first dog which was a gift from my dad, watching Baasha with him in Devi theatre, what fun we had in his poonal and what a brave boy he was when his head was shaved, how he spent lots of his holidays with us doing nothing remotely interesting except playing cards, how I confessed to him all my supposedly "boy friend problems" even though he was a lot younger than me, his "machinan" role in my wedding and his "maama" role in Ashu's birthday, ... and now here he was, my little baby brother, all grown up and married to a beautiful woman! Whoa! How time flies! Congrats again, Bro!

Ashu and Antu loved all the attention and thoroughly enjoyed the wedding. For Antu - it was like dream come true what with change of costume 5 times a day! My mom got the girls beautiful accessories, stitched paavadais from her old silk sarees, plaited their hair with sowri, (long fake hair) decorated with hair ornaments,... the works! Tough competition for the bride, I should say! :) Sis and I decided to dress up to the nines as well and were all matching-matching competing with Ashu and Antu! And the food! Oh God! The food! As if the wedding feast was nt enough, the day before the wedding we went to The Great Kabab Factory for dinner and loved it! Lovely experience! The flight to and fro was nt as bad as I thought it would be what with my knee! The wheel chair assistance was awesome. Ashu was thrilled to ride the golf carts inside the airports, her long time dream!

Its back to the grind now after all the fun. But there are always the photos to remind us of the fun times. :)


April 27, 2012

27.04.2012


Dear Ashu,

Seven has been my favorite number ever since I can remember. I don't know why. I have no special sentiment about it but whenever the topic of favorite number comes up, I realize I have a special place for that number. When you were a baby, seven year olds looked like giants to me. But how can YOU be seven today? You are still so little and so cute! Well, I am a "little" biased, I guess! :) Like every year, you have been so excited about your birthday. Its heart warming to see that for you, its not about the party or the gifts. Just the fact that you are turning one year older! What I would nt give to become zen like you! I would never ever forget the way you stood next to me for more than 15 minutes waiting to see if I can put the skis on by myself after I had the fall. You could have just zoomed past. But no, that's not you. And when I told you to ski ahead and call Appa for help and to stay with Antu until we reached that place, you were gone in a blink. That meant a lot to me, kiddo! More because visualizing Antu in your place, I'm sure I would have had to drag my butt in the snow to catch her from running away in the opposite direction! I owe you big.

Talking about your sister, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for having unleashed her on you.You deserved better. Like your own twin or something! Not this pint sized super brat who's current mission in life is to make your life hell. I can only promise you that it will get better and you ll learn to ignore her!  But you have to agree that she is very cute when she wants to be. Like when she needs your help or when she wants something that you have or when she comes crying to you after getting yelled at by me! As always, you are being a fabulous older sister and looking out for her always. Hope you never stop doing that. Yesterday you lost your third tooth and when I suggested we pretend that tooth fairies are real for Antus sake, you got all excited and winked at me and whispered to me to leave a gift that you both can share! And in the morning when you saw an Amar Chitra Katha book under your pillow, you kept it back there and waited for Antu to wake up and made her open the gift. That was really sweet of you.

Usually one US trip and one India trip happen between your birthdays but this year, there has been an additional India trip as well. Talk about getting pampered. I am sure R's wedding will be fondly remembered by you for many years to come. Just like sis and I still talk about our uncle's (R's dad) wedding. While I was thinking that being in India would make you more outgoing, you completely clammed up and refused to even say hello to all the relatives. Theres no figuring you out. The more I nagged you to talk, the more you went into your shell. I hope someday you will explain all this to me. All said and done, I want you to be yourself. If you want to be that "mysterious woman" when you grow up, so be it. I ll learn to make peace with that. I just hope Antu invites me to the parties she throws! :) You have blossomed in school though. Unfortunately, you will not be continuing in this school for 2nd grade. It breaks my heart to leave this school after five long years but you are every excited about the upcoming change. God knows how you can have no fear for the unknown. But then as a kid, almost everything is new so that's alright, I guess.

You enjoy playing the violin and try to write your own music. You write and illustrate books. You sing and dance. You can almost read Tamil and with a little more practice, can write too. All thanks to your grand mother! You have lots of special friends but not one who is a little extra special to you. You love to draw, paint, cut, color and make things. Once you begged me to let you use the ipad on a non-screen time day so that you can search for "simple crafts" in youtube and make a penguin out of a toilet paper roll! Thank God you don't know to clear history yet! You read a lot. Until recently there was not one book in this house which I had nt read to you. We used to read, listen, laugh, think and discuss together. Now you are reading sitting in one corner and giggling to yourself and I feel so neglected and useless. And I don't know whats happening in that part of your world. From this cool mom who was reading to you hundreds of books, I have become the annoying mom who is asking you not to read while in the car, while eating and sometimes while waiting for the elevator. Seriously? 


I do think I have become more patient with you this year but I also make the mistake of expecting a lot from you. Sometimes, I forget you are a little girl and expect you to act responsibly all the time. Who asked you to be so smart and mature? The other day we were talking about extreme sports and you asked me why people risk lives like that. I told you that its their choice and that anything can happen to anyone at anytime and who is to say driving the car or going by a plane is any less risky? And pat came your reply, "But I NEED to go to school by car, Amma. I NEED to go by plane to US to see Perimma and Perippa. But people don't need to bungee jump or sky dive, right?" *gulp* And I thought I was the lawyer in the family! I wish you were nt so logical all the time and do some silly stuff now and then. I said silly not stupid, OK? :) Love you million, billion, zillion darling! Happy Birthday!



Love,
அம்மா.



April 25, 2012

Summer Reading Program in Hyderabad.

Utbtkids has designed a summer reading program for Treasure House in Hyderabad. The description makes me wish I were a kid and that I lived in Hyderabad! :) 
The below is from her post.

The program is called Reading Bugs.

It is for children age infant – 15.

For parents of children age 0 – 5, I am offering a parent information work shop that talks about why reading is important, what are the early literacy skills that are targeted by reading to young children, what to read, when to read, how to read, why we are reading what we are reading.

For children age 6 – 9, THE BUTTERFLIES BOOK CLUB. The underlying goal of this book club is to make children aware of other genres. The world of books is not just magic, fantasy and what-ever-my-older-sibling/friend-is-reading. There is fiction, non-fiction, drama, picture books, chapter books, environmental issues, humor, classics, mythology, history, exploration/discovery/voyages…. and many more. Catch them young, when they have started reading independently and introduce them to the different choices so that they pause at their age level and explore choices at level instead of jumping to what is popular and run out of choices soon. I call this, my ‘prevent children from getting lost in the adventure/magic/mystery Bermuda triangle’ mission. Children will interact with Sridala Swami, author of Cheenu’s Gift and Sandhya Rao, editor of Tulika Publishers.

For children age 6 – 9, I am offering a workshop. MAKE YOUR READING BLOOM. The idea is to work with beginner and reluctant readers on certain skills that will improve comprehension and fluency. This will be a 5 session workshop.

For 10+ children, in keeping with my Bermuda triangle theory, I am doing THE MYTHOLOGY BOOK CLUB. This club will analyze mythology as a genre, compare elements from various mythologies, talk about mythological characters and beasts and has two author interaction sessions. Devdutt Pattanaik and Anu Kumar.


If you are in Hyderabad the place to be is


Treasurehouse
plot#1254/A Rd#63,
Adjacent to ICICI Bank rd#36,
Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad – 5000033
Phone#: (040)23550118
Email: info@treasurehouse.in

March 30, 2012

Breaking the Block.

I think its time I retire as a Blogger Mom. Ashu is in that age where she either does smart stuff or stupid stuff never anything cute!! For example,

Stupid: Stuffing ten gummy vites in her mouth at the same time because she does nt want to eat one a day which is so boring!!

Smart: Well, she was quick enough to apologize when I caught her red-handed!!!

As for Antu, Im suffering from the second child syndrome where whatever cute thing she does, I have the "been there, seen it in Ashu" attitude! Poor Antu!

And with my broken knee and home bound for the past one month, I should have i fact written more here but I had no fodder. I had a follow up doc visit last week and he said I dont need surgery (phew!) and to continue with the physiotherapy. Since Im progressing quite well, I decided to go to India for two weeks along with my mom this Sunday. My dearest cousin is getting married and if I dont attend this wedding, I have to forfeit my only chance to tie one knot in the thaali with my important role as a Naathanaar! (the Groom's sister ties one knot while he ties the Thaali on the bride!) Its also two week vacation for Ashu for Easter so how can I not go? Hd does nt quite approve but then what does he know about weddings and the powerful role of a Naathanaar (Sis-in-law!) even if shes going to look like a bionic woman in a Kancheepuram silk saree with her knee brace and a crutch!

See you on the other side, folks! Happy Easter!

March 29, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month - April 2012.

Remember April 2011 on Twitter, Facebook and blogs? We talked about Child Sexual Abuse – the hows, the wheres and the whens. We were overwhelmed by the response it generated, humbled by the weight of the personal stories of despair and courage.

It’s that time of the year again and we’re going ahead with Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – April 2012.

Do you have a story to tell? Tips to share? A video, a link, an ebook? As a parent, as an adult, as a child? As before, we honour all requests for anonymity.

Bring your experience and your expertise to this awareness initiative via

Blog posts with the logo (you can copy the image above), linkback to our blog, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title
Twitter posts or links to @CSAawareness, tagged “#CSAAM”
FB notes linking to our Facebook page
Emails to csa.awareness.april@gmail.com
Or just simply show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile

This year, we hope to increase our focus and reach with our new CSAAM App and our sensitisation workshops. You’ll find both in our blog come April 2012.

Stay tuned at http://csaawarenessmonth.com/

March 05, 2012

The Princess and the Bee.

Thank you folks for all the get-well-soon wishes! You guys are really nice unlike the Sis-Hd duo at home who plotting many schemes to make me walk. One of them is to take my crutches away and beat a loved one before my eyes so that I "pongi ezhundhufy" and run to save them and voila! my knees get better miraculously!!! The only reason they have nt pulled it off yet is because Sis wants to hit Hd while Hd says that he hitting my sis would work better!!!!! *bangs head* nalla family!

In other stories, I was telling Ashu a bed time story when Antu was behaving like a Diva as usual complaining about her pillow, socks, etc.. and I compared her to the princess from the Princess and the pea fairytale. It has been a long time since Ashu heard that story so she asked me to tell her and I gave her an one liner. "Really, Amma? A pea? Are you sure it was a pea?", she asked. When I confirmed it was a pea, she found it very funny and said, "May be it was a bee, Amma! Not a pea!" and laughed aloud! And started making her own story. How there was a bee hiding under her bed and kept buzzing near her ears all night and how she could nt sleep! The Princess and the Bee, folks! You heard it first here!

February 27, 2012

Ski Break!

Just when I was thinking I should write a post about how much I am enjoying skiing this year, I went ahead and broke my leg! Never a dull moment in my life, I tell you. Long story short - multiple ligament tear and meniscus tear in my right knee! *bangs head* This happened last Saturday when Ashu and I were skiing at Hoch Ybrig in a glorious weather! Two more families were with us and it was all fun in the morning until I fell down. The damage to the knee was not due to the fall but the way I rotated my knee. Hoped it was a bad sprain and tried to be in denial. But on Sunday morning, I could nt put my leg down.

Sunday - Hospital, X ray, kids at a friends house, dinner sent by the friend. A huge cast. (removable, thankfully) No fracture. Crutches!

Monday - MRI in the evening.

Tuesday - MRI reports. Ligament tear in two places and a meniscus tear. Physiotherapy suggested for now. Friend sends lunch. Cousin (college going girl!) comes home to help.

Wednesday - Hd drops the kids, drops me for physio, picks me up later and then goes to office. Cousin picks up Antu, makes lunch. Hd picks up Ashu and comes home. Cousin leaves after dinner.

Thursday - Hd holds fort. A friend picks up Ashu in the evening and drops her home. Friends visit. No horlicks bottle or mosambis!

Friday - Physiotherapy again. Hd holds fort. Cousin comes in the evening. I get a new Knee brace to wear during the day.

Saturday - Hd takes Ashu to a birthday party. Cousin and he make lunch. A friend sends dinner. Cousin leaves.

Sunday - Hd makes lunch/dinner. Takes Ashu skiing.

Monday - Hd drops the kids, makes lunch, picks up Antu at noon, works from home a bit and now off to pick up Ashu and then directly to the airport to pick up my SISTER!

Oh God! This was one of the toughest weeks in my life. Seeing Hd running around like a headless chicken and not able to help hurt more than my torn knee! God knows what I would have done if he had nt pulled through! And some dear friends and not to mention my little cousin! Sigh! I owe them big! Ashu too. She is an awesome helper. Fetching me stuff a million times and taking care of me. At one point, she hung a bag around my neck and put the phones, remotes, book, ipad, etc... and asked me to carry it everywhere! Guess she got tired picking up the phone! Antu is more keen on stealing my crutch though!

My mom will come as soon as she gets her visa. Sis decided to come and help until mom arrives. Family is a family for a reason, I guess. Me - I am just hoping that physiotherapy works and I would nt need surgery! And why oh why the right knee? Does nt the Universe know that we are screwed if I don't drive?