Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spontaneous moments...

I had mentioned in the previous post that we went to shop for a larger area rug for the living room. We have tiled flooring downstairs and carpeted floors upstairs where the bedrooms are. When I give KB his meals, I put a separate sheet and some toys on the rug and let KG play and move around there. But of late she moves around so fast that I end up running behind her while feeding KB. She turns, cranes her neck to the point of interest and rolls and slides and somehow gets to where she wants to go. She pulls things on top of her face, takes KB's toys that are not appropriate for her age (heavy) and tries to pull on them. Also, the floor is quite cold since it has been cold and rainy outside. So I decided it would be best to get a large rug so at least she can wander around more freely with less stress for me in having to monitor her movements on the bare floor. We got a nice rug that B picked up on Monday morning and we have it on the living room floor now. It's been so good for me to have this large rug because both KB and KG are able to have some space around them when they are playing or if KG is watching KB play.

Last night, KB again went to our CD rack and brought some random CD that he could reach. As per his "order" we put this CD in the player - it was "Dave Brubeck's greatest hits". It was fun to listen to some nice Jazz music after a long time. I was glad that KB didn't ask us to turn it off mid way and ask for some other children's CD. KB came and sat next to me while B was standing on the rug and listening to the music and chatting with me. Suddenly I told KB, "ask Daddy to play the piano". B immediately pretended like he was playing the piano with full gusto in the tune of the music we were listening to. KB found this very funny - all the animated body movements from B - and he started laughing. So I prompted him to ask his dad to play the Saxophone. B again pretended to be playing the Saxophone like a true Jazz musician - with added histrionics as if he was really holding a saxophone. He started dancing mildly with this pretend Saxophone too. Now KB really got into this game and started adding more and more instruments. The all rounder B who suddenly became adept at all instruments in this imaginary world was enjoying being the showman on center stage. He really danced on while playing the requested instruments. KB and I were laughing so much through all this - it was a moment to preserve in memory. We were truly making merry at that moment. Being given a part in KB's innocent and sweet world.

A little while later, we told KB it was his bed time and gave him his night time milk. Then it was time for his diaper change. We had mentally wound down for the night and thought the fun had ended. KB got down from the couch while the music was still playing and continued to linger in that moment by dancing crazily, imitating very much B's movements from a few minutes back. It was just unbelievably funny. It was pure delight for us parents to watch this little child of ours entertain us with his crazy but adorable dancing that was also quite in tune with the music playing in the background. Ah - I just thrive on such spontaneous moments. It doesn't happen when you keep looking for it but when it happens, it is pure, unadulterated joy! The new rug already has a memory attached to it. I suppose this is how a home is built!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rainy sunday and yummy pulav

It's been raining in our part of the world all weekend. Usually on weekends, I feel this need to plan for the morning and make sure we take KB out to the park where he can run around and play freely. If we go on weekdays, I have to hold KG and run behind him to make sure he doesn't fall from the slide or some such thing (invariably he runs under some slide structure or falls from one when I am holding her or cannot run under something!). This weekend in a way was more relaxed for me since it was raining and we decided to just take it easy and not go out anywhere in the morning unless it stopped raining.

I gave KB his breakfast and then had mine, fed KG and then started cooking. Decided to make vegetable pulav and raita. I had my MIL's recipe for pulav which always turns out well. While I was cooking, KB had a great time playing in the new school bus tent along with B. He pretended to be driving B to the shop for groceries in his school bus. KB and our neighbor's daughter had a rollicking time playing in this tent on Saturday morning.

After feeding KB his lunch, we ate our lunch. We enjoyed the pulav so much (thanks to my MIL's recipe) that I decided to post the recipe here. After lunch, suddenly the sun was out and it had stopped raining. But we only had about 45 min before KB and KG's afternoon nap time. So we decided to go to the local library. It was so relaxing - KB and I walked to the Children's section, B and KG wandered off into some other non fiction area that he wanted to check out. KB sat on the table like one of the big kids there and pretended to read a book. He then got down and came to the shelf I was at and put the book back, got another book, went back to the table and continued to read.

We got back home and both KB and KG fell asleep in no time. B and I had tea and chatted for a short while. B normally doesn't eat white rice (has cracked wheat) - on days he has pulav he feels this need for a nice afternoon nap. He napped while I spent a little while looking at a couple of blogs, posting responses etc. B came upstairs and downloaded some photos from the camera into the computer - so of course we had fun admiring our own kids in their different moods in the photos. KB woke up early from his nap. Back to duties - feeding the kids/changing the kids/getting some basic dinner ready etc until 6.30pm. We then took the kids out to shop for a larger area rug for the living room. KB had a great time running around at the store and just to make such a relaxing and lovely day even more perfect, he ate his meal peacefully and quickly without any fuss. Some days are just cozy and fun no matter what the weather is outside!

Here is the Pulav recipe and a picture of KB enjoying his new tent!

Dhania - 3 teaspoons
Black pepper - 3
Cinnamon sticks - 4 or 5 small thin ones (I just took one full long one and crushed a few flakes into the mix - didn't want too strong a flavor).
Cloves - 4 or 5
Jeera - 1/4 tea spoon
Red Chilly - 1
Elaichi - 4 (open and crush seeds).

Fry these in little oil.
Grated Coconut - 4tbl spoons
Green chillies - 3 or 4
Coriander - lots
Garlic pods - 2 chopped fine
Ginger - 1 piece
Onion (medium size) - half onion, chopped fine.
Blend (1) and (2) to paste. Quickly sautee the paste in about 4 tea spoons of oil.
Add cooked Basmati rice (I cook the rice separately and boil the vegetables separately - all parallel processing - not really hard) and cooked vegetables to the paste (after the raw smell goes away from the sauteeing) and mix it well.
Vegetables I generally use - Potato, carrot, beans, Valore Lilva (not sure what it is called - we get it frozen at the Indian store), peas.

Cracked wheat pulav:

I make cracked wheat pulav or pulav with brown basmati rice (lower glycemic index - for those worried about sugar/weight/cholesterol etc) if I just want to make a quick pulav with a lot of vegetables.
Since dotmom had asked me how I cook the cracked wheat - I thought I will post that recipe here too.
Buy cracked wheat – light bulgur or the cracked wheat (No 2)avail at the Indian store.

Need cauiliflower (half, cut into florets), potatoes (1 or 2 small, peel skin, chop into big cubes), onion (one small, medium size pieces), a bunch of coriander leaves finely chopped and green chillies, 3 or 4 cut into half. Mint leaves too if u want. and beans, radish etc if u have/want.. just any veggies you add for pulav is fine.

Heat oil. Add 4 or 5 cloves, lil cinnamon, one bay leaf and two cardamoms (open). Then add onions and sautee for a min. To this add a dash of black pepper (if you have the pepper mill, fresh grind, if not pepper powder). (If you happen to have the MTR Pulav powder, you can add a teaspoon of that too).

To this add the cauli,aloo,green chillies, coriander. mix well and let it cook for just 1 min. add salt.

Add 3/4 coffee mug (or a full mug) of toasted cracked wheat to this and mix well with the oil and veggies.

Transfer the whole thing to a pressure cooker vessel and add 2.5 times (the amt of cracked wheat) water.
Pressure cook to only 3 whistles like for rice.

If you don't want to use the cooker, you can add water to the same pan and keep it covered and cook on low for half an hour. (I prefer this until I kind of get an idea of how much water works for that particular brand of cracked wheat).

Amt of water needed may vary depending on the wheat. This is a watered down version - but since it does not have coconut or too much masala stuff (no blending also) - it is a healthier/lighter version of the other pulav.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

KB and KG

For those of you perched on the wall and wondering which camp (one child or two) to jump into...
Here's evidence to convince you that

a) the second child will find ways to entertain herself. fingers look interesting!

b) the second child will also often entertain and pamper the older one!

c) the two together will indulge you every now and then - let you take pictures, finish your lunch and then attend to them! When you see them bond this way, I can guarantee you will feel that it was worth going through all the pregnancy pains again!

d) You can relive every precious moment, every little milestone again with the second one - except this time you will* be more relaxed as a parent and enjoy it peacefully.

e)You will love your first child in a whole new dimension - in the role of the older sibling. You will marvel at the love he is capable of giving to someone who supposedly is now competing for your attention!

Income disparity

Hi Dotmom - This was getting to be another long comment - figured I would just post it in my blog space rather than hog your comment space again. This is in response to this comment from you:
What does this statement exactly mean then??
am talking about the disproportionately high incomes of CEOs compared to the lowest workers at least in garment factories and such...
they are disproportionate for a reason.
By disproportionate I mean it is ridiculously so. Of course it is disproportionate for many reasons. I assumed you would understand what I meant - and not in the literal sense - that I expect an unskilled laborer to be paid exactly the same as the CEO or the doctor to be paid the same as the janitor.

There is competition for talent and so of course the cream of the crop gets huge amounts in pay and all sorts of incentives when s/he gets hired as the CEO. But the disparity, not just between CEO and the lowest level worker, but even the CEO and the average skilled worker is can understand a disparity - but 200 - 250 times (see link below) more money than an average worker - seems very* disproportionate to me. Esp if the workers way down below are being paid pittance and often has to live below poverty lines...

Companies have to make profits against stiff competition...the only way to win now is to have cheap labor but a large percentage of the profits reaped go to the CEOs and top level people extremely disproportionately.

My original point was that there are injustices everywhere. In my opinion, this kind of egregious disparity (which is what I meant by disproportionate and of course we can argue over weather it really is egregious or not) in pay is an injustice to the lowest level worker. I am trying to say that we are willing to live with one kind of injustice or the other in different aspects of our lives…but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t stop trying to work towards a fair and just society as a whole – you do it in your own way say when you wrote about the blood diamonds and some other person does it in some other way…There will always be inconsistencies but people try in their own ways and every bit counts…
Adding to this post instead of writing in the comment space:

Preethi – thanks for reading and for commenting. My response to your comment will be my post itself – since that is what I was writing about in the first place – that it is disproportionate and of course with reason – but that in my opinion it is egregious – the disparity. Every one knows the skill sets and responsibilities are different – if not any Tom could be the CEO of a company. It is how much more should he/she be paid that we are arguing about.

Dotmom – An average programmer makes 150K and the CEO makes 300K – not a lot – in terms of just pay – but the stock differences awarded to each are huge. You can see that the CEO is not just making twice what the programmer makes but 250 times more. You cannot compare just base pay – the stocks contribute to the egregious difference. And CEO pays are determined by boards, I agree. But who make up the boards and how do they arrive at the package?

Here’s a part of the text from Mr.Warren Buffet’s shareholder newsletter:
Buffett on compensation committees:

From 2006 shareholder letter (Page 19 of
You’ve read loads about CEOs who have received astronomical compensation for mediocre results. Much less well-advertised is the fact that America’s CEOs also generally live the good life. Many, it should be emphasized, are exceptionally able, and almost all work far more than 40 hours a week. But they are usually treated like royalty in the process. (And we’re certainly going to keep it that way at Berkshire. Though Charlie still favors sackcloth and ashes, I prefer to be spoiled rotten. Berkshire owns The Pampered Chef; our wonderful office group has made me The Pampered Chief.)
CEO perks at one company are quickly copied elsewhere. “All the other kids have one” may seem a thought too juvenile to use as a rationale in the boardroom. But consultants employ precisely this argument, phrased more elegantly of course, when they make recommendations to comp committees. Irrational and excessive comp practices will not be materially changed by disclosure or by “independent” comp committee members. Indeed, I think it’s likely that the reason I was rejected for service on so many comp committees was that I was regarded as too independent. Compensation reform
will only occur if the largest institutional shareholders – it would only take a few – demand a fresh look at the whole system. The consultants’ present drill of deftly selecting “peer” companies to compare with their clients will only perpetuate present excesses.
From CNN:
Buffett and Munger both were scathing on the subject of executive compensation and the process of how pay is set at major corporations:
"The typical large company has a compensation committee," said Buffett. "They don't look for Dobermans on that committee, they look for chihuahuas."
He paused amid laughter, then added: "Chihuahuas that have been sedated."
Munger interjected: "I would rather throw a viper down my shirt front than hire a compensation consultant."

I agree that the CEO deserves to be paid a lot more than an average worker in the company – he clearly has a huge responsibility. But what is the risk involved in his job? If the company fails, aside from the fall from grace, how is the CEO penalized? With a generous severance package? Check out this link about the “risks” involved in becoming a CEO.

CEO compensation is not necessarily tied to the performance of the company or adjusted as per the company’s growth anyway.

Stock prices do not slide because of CEO pay -- they slide because of drop in earnings. And a drop in earnings is not entirely because of a CEO not doing his job. Likewise, CEO is not entirely responsible for increase in earnings either.

Free markets are good and bad. Depends on which class of society you are talking to.
I feel I am able to sit in a comfortable situation and talk about its merits. But I cannot deny that there are a lot of people paying the price for my comfort and definitely that of an extremely indulgent life style for CEOs of big companies. If Walmart (or any large company for that matter) sets a price to its manufacturer in China, who in turn has to pay his laborers poorly to meet the price, who is likely to ignore environmental damage to balance costs – I am part of that system that doesn’t demand the laborer be paid more. Not as much as a top level exec to put it clearly here - but more than the pittance they get for the long hours they work. I am not out there saying that I want to pay more for my goods so that the laborer there gets more. Which was my point in the first place – that I am only willing/able to fight some battles…And we all try to contribute to a fair and healthy society in our own ways.

I finally got some uninterrupted time at 11.30pm. Too tired to write more – but we know where we stand in this issue.
Anyways – made for an interesting exchange!
Continuing the post:
In response to your last comment:

I agree that those sorts of things – 35h weeks only etc are not sustainable in this competitive world. But all my points still stand. It is more after coming to the US that I have noticed, read and thought more about all this. Free market is good – leads to competition, quality, consumption, jobs etc etc. But free market is not really a free market - it favors the rich and powerful. It certainly does not trickle down in an ideal manner. If it was trickling down so well, then the disparity in wealth, in what kind of health care, education and retirement people can afford won’t be so wide and obvious. My point about CEO pay and how the compensation gets decided etc is to highlight this. One person gets grossly over paid irrespective of performance and the lower level workers grossly underpaid in comparison

(as GND has written in the comments here). CEO pay is not governed by free market economics. Free market is driven towards maximizing profits which doesn’t often go with protecting the environment.

How much do we - on a day to day basis - think about all this or protest what we think may be an injustice? Again my point really is that we can/are willing to only fight so many battles. And that we all keep trying in our own ways.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tag time again - A to Z

Neera tagged me to do this:

A -Available?
Not even for myself most of the time these days!

B-Best friend:
Strangely even as a child, I always said I had many close friends, but no one best friend…

C-Cake or Pie?
Cake. Definitely not Pie!

D-Drink of choice:
Hot tea with a lot of sugar!

E-Essential thing used everyday:
Sugar and Salt! If either one was not available at home, I would have to go get it right away!

F-Favourite colour:
Husband says I am only able to see one color – Red

G-Gummi bears or worms:


When I spend a lot in getting gifts for my favorite people…esp children. If I were really wealthy, that would be my serious indulgence.

J-January or February:
February – short month with the promise of spring….

K-Kids and names:
KB and KG

When I think of life, I often think of some lines by one of my favorite poets, Kaviarasu Kannadasan. It goes like this: (copy/pasted from some website)
Aasaiye alai pole,
Naamellam athan mele,
Odam pole adiduvome vaazh nalile
Paruvam ennum kaatrrile
parakkum kaathal therile
aanum pennum mahizhvar
suham peruvar - athisayam kaanpaar
Naalai ulahin paathaiyai inre
yaar kaanuvar?
Even in this lyric, Kannadasan reinforces the theme, "sorrows are credit of life, while the joys are debit, with the balance being mere dreams, and who can comprehend the arithmetic of fate?"

M-Marriage date:
January 21

N-Number of siblings:

O-Oranges or apples:
Both, when in season.

No major phobias – just some dislikes…

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep.

R-Reason to smile:
My children

Spring and Fall

T-Tag three people:
Inbavalli, Bird's eye view, 30in2005

U-Unknown fact about me:
I used to jog regularly at one point in time. I have not jogged for three years now!

V-Vegetable you do not like:
Bitter gourd, Raw tomato

W-Worst habit:
Hmm…postponing things…can’t think of any “worst” habit really…

X-x-rays you have had:
Dental, Shoulder

Y-Your favorite food:
Mom’s “Ilai Vadam”


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pot calls the kettle black!

I read to KB while giving him breakfast (Ok folks, I am not good a food training, I have to read and play music to feed him! No TV is the best I can do!). On good days, it goes smoothly and we read book after book until he is done. Some days, there are interruptions to go get him his favorite car for him to thumb on the wheels...a music CD to be changed according to his request, a sudden sneeze and splatter that requires me to get a tissue and clean up - all in the middle of giving him his cereal. I try to be patient - not because it comes naturally but because if I am impatient, it only makes matters worse. But on some days, I just cannot find it in me to be patient and I yell or lecture to him on and on about how he is now a big boy and he needs to really eat fast, eat on his own etc.

Anyways - one of the books he has been reading lately is a book called "Time for bed" - which he calls "Thaachi time" book. In it are pictures of a mother asking her daughter to go to bed, while the kid keeps delaying by asking her mother for this and that. On one page, finally when the child settles into bed, she asks her mother, "What were you like mom as a little girl? Did you like to go to bed or did you want to play instead?". This is one of KB's favorite pages. He always pauses on this page a little longer and says "Did you like to Thaachi mamma?"...

This morning, breakfast was not moving fast. He kept looking at the pictures in his books, narrating stories but the cereal was sitting tight in one corner of his mouth. After nearly half an hour of this, I began my "you should eat fast" lecture and was looking positively annoyed. I told him, "KB nee romba paduthre KB! You have to be a good boy OK!" (you are troubling mamma too much, you should be a good boy. Suddenly, he turned to me and said "Did you like to be a good boy Mamma?"!

Wow - was he really wondering? I don't know what he had in mind when he asked me that. He was just asking in the same tone with which we read that particular book. It's just that he asked me that question at the right moment! Somehow that made me stop. Yes, because I know how much I have troubled my mom about eating. And here I was telling him that he should eat fast/well and not trouble Mamma. No dear, I was not a good boy (well, girl!). But what's a mother to do?! I can't tell him to follow in my foot steps and be a picky eater! I just repeated after him and said, "Did you like to be a good boy? Yes! I liked to be a good boy!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

KB's party talk!

I took KB and KG to a Valentine's day party hosted by one of our neighbors - an elderly couple who now live alone - all their five kids are in college and one of their grand children is now KG's was a party only for women and we had been asked to give a gift of love - a donation to any organization we liked.

It was interesting to see KB in this new setting - full of older white American women who only spoke English, one Iranian woman who spoke no English and could barely understand it.

KB had a small bag of banana chips in his hand and he wandered from the dining/family area (a bunch of women had gathered there to make heart shaped cookies) to the living area. Just then another guest, friend of the couple, a white woman probably in her early 50s walked in. She was very tall and KB looked up at her from way down. She looked at him said" HI! What's your name?"

As usual, he did not answer right away. He looked at her intently craning up his neck and smiled mischievously.
Suddenly he lifted his right hand all the way up and said to her "CHIPS".
And thus he broke the ice.
"Oh you are eating Chips? You like it?"
He smiled again and scampered back into the family room.

Behind the couch in the family room, in the curio cabinet, there were a set of blocks that read "B E A C H". There was another white woman, with a cherubic face and looking very pleasant, probably in her early 60s. She was sitting on the couch. KB went to her and stared at her.
She said "Hello young man, look at those large eyes"!
He immediately looks behind her and starts reading out to her
" B E A C H"...
"Oh, that's right. Do you know what it means? Do you like going to the beach?".
He ignores her comment and says: "B'ku Baa Baa Black Sheep Varum" (For B, the song Baa Baa black sheep comes).
And then goes on to quickly list a whole bunch of other songs from his favorite CD in his Indian accent.
The woman had no idea what he was saying and I told her what he was saying. She laughed and said, Yeah...
And then he suddenly went into the lyrics of one of the songs and said to her:
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed".
"Oh yeah, no more monkeys jumping on the bed, that's right!".

He abruptly shifts gear and says to her "Andha Vaporizer not working" (That Vaporizer is not working! He said that because the previous day I took him along to Target to return the vaporizer I had purchased since it did not work well for us).
Again, she had no clue what he was saying. But somehow he got the sense that she did not understand Tamil and said to her again randomly "I want to go with school" (meaning I went to school - since I had taken him and KG to tour one of the schools).
Before she could respond, he starts singing the whole ABC song to her!

All this with someone he had never met! Somehow he managed to have some conversation with her for some 15 min! It was so cute to watch from behind - the old woman and this little two year old who did not really have a common language having a conversation for that long!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here we go again!

Hello all,
This is baby girl - am back again! I was not pleased with mom for deleting the post about my dear brother - since she hardly posts any updates on him as it is. And even if she writes about him, it's hardly in positive light - always ranting about his "meal time battles"! As she was thinking about this while giving me my food this morning, I shouted one loud "Ahhhhn" and told her in no uncertain terms that she ought to just post it again. Like Poppin's mom said wisely, "the cold IS the anti-jinx". I am making sure that my post about my brother sees the light of the day and also I found out that anyway some people read it on google reader - so what's the problem mom!
Tata for now!
Oh, here's the post!
Love to my little friends from baby girl!
My brother is now 2.5 yrs old!

Hello All! With all the encouragement and cheers I received the last time I spoke, I was inspired to do it again. Except this time, I want to give an update on my brother who turns 2.5 yrs old on Feb.3.08. My mom seems hopeless with posting regular updates about us and my brother – oh boy – he will run far away if I asked him to talk about himself. It looks to me like I am going to become the spokesperson for this family at the going rate! Also, please pardon, I can’t write about him without also writing about myself a little since we are always together.

So mom has already raved about how my brother has started eating better – hah hah, hats off to me since she thinks I had a role in this! But I honestly think my brother deserves more credit. He really is a very sensitive and sweet kid and he really knows when he has pushed mom to her limits and responds to it. You should see him when mom and dad are fighting – those two minutes when they are in the thick of their arguments – they are so loud – I feel like telling them to “sush” a little – but hey, I like to shout and cry loudly myself on occasion – so I just let it be. Anyway – when they are yelling at each other, my sweet, barely 2.5 yr old brother, intervenes and says “Daddy, Mamma’va kochi pannadhe…Mamma, Daddy’ve kochi pannadhe!” (Daddy, don’t get mad at mamma). And especially if my mom looks sad, he just runs to her and hugs her legs and says, “KB wants to hug mamma”! And that’s it, she immediately turns liquid! But mom won’t let it pass. In her irritated mood, she will turn to my dad and say, “See, your son is so sweet and loving” – read, you are not! Gosh, why do adults fight so much?! Especially when they have such, ahem, awesome kids like my brother and myself!

Oh speaking of loving etc – a lot of people, including dad, tell my mom that she has a bit of soft corner for my brother over me. I am not too bothered by this – hey, I am the daughter, I know for sure mom’s going to have a different kind of, but equally strong bond with me. Mom just feels bad for my brother because he is so nice overall. She is one of those – if someone is nice, she just melts and feels bad for them.

My brother will be joining preschool probably in July or Aug of this year. I will miss him those 3-4 hours he will not be home. The three of us – mom, my brother and myself are always together all the time pretty much until dad comes home – by when I am fast asleep anyway. But it may be fun to have mom to myself for sometime I think. My mom worries more about how he will cope with kids who are much bigger than him and are more aggressive than him. She recently went to meet a playgroup in the park and saw that the kids there were all quite aggressive in the slide and the see-saw. My brother loves people watching and when he sees a bunch of kids in a group moving fast and pushing etc, he just amuses himself by sitting back and watching. My mother, the worry worm that she is, thinks may be he is scared and that’s why he is sitting back and watching them. My brother is really one of those “thinking” types – he spaces out and opens his already big eyes wide and stares into space and thinks god knows about what. He just likes to sit, watch and drift off into his thoughts. Mom needn’t worry so much about all this! When kids come home, he is very friendly and shares his toys. Only on occasion if some kid grabs something he is playing with at that moment, he really insists that it be given back to him. He loves it when people visit us and is quite friendly – of course you all know that still doesn’t mean he will let them get too close to him too soon. A couple of days stay and then he is OK if they carry him a little or take him to the park behind our house.

Another change in my brother in the last couple of months – he never used to like story books. But these days he enjoys books like “Goodnight Moon”, “Goodnight Gorilla” and “Biscuit” books. He loves the “Wonder books” series from the public library. Mom makes up little stories from the pictures on each page. He loves fables and mom twists the old “kaka story” about the crow who drank water by talking about how the crow first sat in the tree in our back yard and then mentions all our friends and then goes on to tell him how the crow managed to get water to quench his thirst…and then suddenly it was night time and the “Stireet light” (as my brother says) turned on and so the kaka had to go home, eat “mum mum” and “thaachi” (sleep). My mother can’t help but weave in this whole mum mum thing whenever she gets a chance. She says to him, “Appram yenna pannithu kaka, chamatha mum mum saatutu, thachi panna poidthu” (Kaka ate his meal well and went to bed).

My brother also loves “Dasharatha story” – somehow it is established that only dad reads Amar chitra katha to him. Dad is really good at this – he is so dramatic and really brings it down to a level my brother can somewhat understand. My brother also loves “Calvin and Hobbes”. He makes mom read it to him every now and then during his meals. When dad gets home from work, he will get excited and will want to say something to him immediately. And just abruptly, as soon as dad enters the house, he will tell him “Suzie Calvin’a kochi pannithu. Snow ball thooki pottudhu Calvin”. (Calvin got mad at Suzie for throwing a snow ball at him).

Oh speaking of books, the other day my brother read this book called “Max goes to the barber” with my mom. (The lady who cut my brother’s hair decided to change profession after that – he just brought the roof down!). And the day she got the book from the library, they must have read it some 10 times. My brother knows all the alphabets in upper case and about 18 of them in lower case. He gets confused between “b”, “d”, “p” and also “g”, “h” and “q”. “q” he says is “small “p”. Anyway – mom really doesn’t worry about teaching him alphabets etc. She just casually reads these “Elmo’s favorite letter” type books to him but he now seems to enjoy pointing to all the different alphabets. Back to “Max the barber”. After mom read the book to him, he closed it and he pointed to the title and said “M, A, X - Max” and mom got all excited that he read it on his own and immediately called up dad and said “B, you know what, KB read “Max” on his own! My God, I thought that was a bit too much. First of all, it’s just one word! And secondly, she read it to him so many times, obviously he will know it is “Max”. Anyway – parents are a different breed altogether looks like! They just make a big deal of every thing we kids do!

Ok, I thought I was good at talking about myself. Looks like, I enjoy talking even more about my brother. I forgot to mention his obsessive streak. If he likes something, it is an obsession always. For example, my mom’s cousin got him this really annoying (but boys seem to love it) “weazel ball”.
Mom could not stand the sight of that rodent rolling all over the house, so she threw it out but kept the motorized ball, which is actually very cool toy. You won’t believe how many days it just went on and on in our house. He would wake up in the morning and ask for this ball! He would wake from his nap and ask for it! The ball was getting on my mom and dad’s nerves, but the delight on his face when they gave it to him – he used to chuckle with joy when the ball rolled under his bed and made noises and then came out on it’s own. He was mad about this ball.

For my brother, if something is broken, he will immediately throw it in the trash if it is not fixed. Perfect or else throw it out. For ex – he just loves this “Surya car” (he got it at Surya’s party). I mean he just loves** this car – always turning it’s wheels with his thumbs, opening and closing it’s doors etc. The other day, he noticed the tail light had fallen off - his sense of order was so disturbed, in an instant, he told mom “Trash’le podu”. She could not believe it – a car that he loved so much, how is he able to part with it so easily! Complete detachment! My parents are crazy – they felt so bad about him parting with that car – dad went and got “Super glue” from “Target” that same night and fixed the light back on this toy car! My brother needless to say was super thrilled!

His obsession with music – some music is always playing in the background at our place. Surely so, when we go in the car. And he decides what music. He picks CDs from my parent’s CD rack and asks mom to play things randomly. The other day, he brought to her a “Leonard Cohen” CD and asked her to play it. Mom thought he would surely ask her to turn it off soon after the first song. But when mom was recording our antics on video camera and the music was playing in the background, he told mom, “Uncle romba nanna padarar” (Uncle sings so well)! Wait till my uncle, who is a die hard carnatic music fan sees this video! He will ask my mom why she is playing such “random music” for her children!

Ok folks. I better stop here. I have gone on way too long here. I feel my mom rarely writes updates and this will be good for her to look at a few years from now. So tried to talk about all that came to my mind while writing this. I love my dear brother! Happy half year birthday, my sweet brother!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

On being blessed...

There are some moments in the day when you feel a sense of contentment and an overall good feeling. To me, one such trivial (non-trivial personally) moment each day is when I make both kids take their afternoon nap and run downstairs and make tea for myself. I come back to the study (these days KB sleeps in the study on the pull out Elmo couch) and take that first sip of hot tea as I begin to check my mail and then read a few blog posts before either child wakes up from his/her usual restlessness. That moment is one of satisfaction – at having completed the duties of that day so far, a load off the back that once the nap time is done, the rest of the day should be more easy and manageable. It is a moment of pleasure – to have the luxury of time, however little, to sit in the company of your children, yet have that moment to yourself…to feel connected to friends through email…to be able to enjoy reading something well written (when I read some blog posts) while sipping a cup of hot tea….to sit in a warm and cozy room on a cold day….it just feels good overall. I feel that same joy multiplied every night when I go to bed (usually the last person to do so) and feel connected in that physical space – the four of us, together, feeling warm and resting for the night. I never linger much on that thought – I just immediately thank the creator for that feeling…for that blessing.

Yesterday, as I sat down to have my tea, I was reading an article in National Geographic on the migration of illegal immigrants from Central America to Mexico and then to the United States. I quote here a part of that essay:

“Before the Lópezes left Managua, they had heard the counsel repeated now in certain poor neighborhoods of Central America: If you are leaving for El Norte, find Padre Flor Maria Rigoni in the city of Tapachula, 20 miles north of the border, because the first dangerous crossing you will make is not the one that takes you into the United States. It is at the southern Mexican border where the perils begin—the thugs, the drug runners, the extortionists in official uniforms, the police and migration agents who pack undocumented migrants into detention facilities before forcing them onto buses to be deported. The Tapachula migration station was recently rebuilt, to hold 960 migrants and process them more quickly; the southward-bound buses roll out every morning before dawn.

The Lópezes rode for hours in the 90-degree heat, Jessenia standing on blocks attached to both sides of the bicycle’s rear wheel. She carried her shopping bag in the crook of her arm and kept her hands on Armando’s shoulders as he pedaled, avoiding migration checkpoints by veering at intervals off the pavement and onto dirt paths. They had remarkably good luck. No one assaulted them with machetes or rifles or handmade pistols fashioned from PVC pipes stuffed with gunpowder; no one beat Armando and dragged Jessenia into the weeds; no one forced them to undress so that their body cavities and secret sewn-in clothing pockets could be examined for hidden money. No passing taxi driver decided to collect a payoff that day by alerting muggers or immigration officials that a vulnerable-looking couple was approaching on the road.”

I read such stories and I wonder about them later. Did they make it to the USA? Did they manage to get their two-year old child to join them? As I sit down and feel that opposing force pulling me to complain about all that I don’t have – I ponder about such people who have to toil and risk their lives in the hope of a better life for their children. I have to remind myself constantly that I am blessed in many ways. I am grateful for everything, from the most trivial like my hot tea to the bigger blessings – my children, my husband and family. I shudder to think of this balance in my life being disturbed in anyway. If I put myself in the shoes of the people mentioned in this article, I feel a shiver run down my spine. There are people suffering far worse and there are people who cruise through life without any problems what so ever. We will never figure out the rhythm to the dance of destiny and why people go through what they go through. The only thing I can do is to acknowledge all the blessings I have, and in some sense a lot of the people around me have. I can only wish for life to be good to those who have been very unfortunate in many ways and pray for them. It is this train of thought that made me pass on the blessings to the many unknown people I read about and wish for them a better life….and to all of you who do happen to read this post.

P.S - Lavs, this is in response to your "Blessings" tag by the way. Thanks again!

Friday, February 08, 2008

KB snippets

KB woke up from his nap the other day and came downstairs with me. He ran to the dining table and got the pile of books and brought them all to the couch patiently carrying them couple at a time...He had woken up in a good mood and gave me a sweet smile and said "Mamma, I want to read books".
I told him that we can read, but first he has to tell me what he wanted to eat...
"Book padikalam, but first nee sollu, Yenna sapadre? Bagel and cream cheese? Mac n Cheese? Waffle?" (We will read, but first tell me what do you want to eat?).

He turns towards me, thinks and pauses...he opens his mouth points towards the toaster (behind that wall is the living room with the couch and the books) and says:

"I want to..."

And I thought to myself "Oh wow, he is thinking about it and making a choice from these items"...

"I want book!".

I laughed at the way he gave me hope (unintentionally) and said this so softly.
And I said "Seri, first tell me what do you want to eat? Bagel Sapadraya?"

KB quietly replied in his Tanglish "I am going to..close vai" (I am going to close mouth!).

End of story. I just gave him milk and read to him while he drank his milk!
Among the pile of books, his current top favorite is "Firefighter". It is a great first level reader book. Just one word on each page.

KB loves the dramatic rescue of the kitty cat in this book. Though it has only one word in each page, this is the book he first wants to read - it gives him room to imagine, recreate and talk about it in his own words. With animated expression, he tells me what is going on in each page. Especially when it gets to the fire hydrant page, he is all excited and says "Fire hydrant'le pliers pottu, screw driver pottu, thorandhu, hose connect panni...bzzzz....bzzzz...water fire mele offf!", he finishes off in sing song tone! (They will use the plier and screw-driver and connect the hose to the hydrant and throw water on the fire and turn it off).

I plan to get more such one word per page books. He also loves the one line per page "Wonder books". Will post about them later.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wondernoon - Cliffsnotes

I suppose the title in itself reflects the narcissism at play here! Well, this tag is supposed to be a quick guide to the person who hasn't known you for long and a reminder of why they do come back to read you - for those who are regulars at your blog. TAAmommy, my new blog pal, has tagged me. The rules of the tag:

Rules For The Tag
Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5key 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.

I hardly go back to read my own posts. This gave me reason to look at a few posts again - it brought back memories of the time during which I wrote them....of the people I wrote about...

Family: Two posts came to mind when I thought of "family" posts. Here is one about my father and the other about the four of us at home here.

Friend: This is a post about my recent trip with both my kids and how my friend and his wife (also my friend!) were so warm and helpful...

Yourself: This is me - a true Geminian - extrovert, silly, laughs a lot - one side of me...introvert, introspective, self-deprecatory, restless, wonders about life/people a lot...

your love: The tag that brought on a host of interesting love stories that I thoroughly enjoyed and also resulted in some spin off clubs called the Green sulk club etc! Oh well, here's my love story!

Anything you like: I love music, love dreaming of being able to sing like a concert musician and I enjoy creativity of any sort - music, writing, sewing... I also love to write...somehow this story that I wrote in my early blogging days is a reflection of all that.

OK I tag now:
DDmom (no excuses!)
Aryans mom

And my new blog pals:

Monday, February 04, 2008

I knew it!

I picked up a loud speaker and announced to the entire world as to how KB has started eating better and how this is the first break through in his eating in the two years I have given him solid food. I am normally one to be afraid to even acknowledge such things to myself let alone say it so loudly! Well, I do say things loudly even if I am bit nervous about jinxing things myself. Nothing like a mother's own "nazar" for her child, as they say! Most often, when I feel excited, something goes wrong and brings me down to earth.

KB turned 2.5 years old on Feb.3.08 and I was quite excited about this half year birthday even more than I was when he turned two. May be because I was still reeling in the excitement of how really grown up he seemed in just the last one month...he is (was) eating better...he is able to express emotions at a different level than just crying...he talks and communicates a lot more than when he turned two...I am (finally) thinking about potty training him soon (OK you moms in India who potty train your kids when they are crawling - skip this line and move on!)...I am beginning to look for preschools for him...he is able to read letters and is able to relate to stories well and tell them back to us many changes in him now more than when he turned two. Not that I consciously thought about it - but somehow I was quite excited about it. I didn't plan any party - I was thinking about trying the eggless cake (recipe from dotmom) if I had time or just buy a cake and have my close friend and her son (who is KB's friend) come over after dinner and just have a good time for an hour or so. That was my plan on Friday evening.

I wrote a 2.5yr update for KB - well, baby girl wrote it - I posted it on Friday night. Saturday evening, we took KB to the play area in the mall. It had rained on Saturday and after we got back home KB had a full blown cold. He threw up the moment I gave him a spoonful of food. He then asked me to give him Mac n Cheese - I gave it to him - he had a few spoons of the macroni and didn't want anymore. Pretty much he ate nothing for dinner. He went to bed hungry, nose stuffed up and kept tossing and turning - I was afraid he would throw up, so I made him sleep next to us and made sure he had a blanket over him and I kept his head raised. I had very little sleep on Sat night. Yesterday, he thankfully ate OK for lunch. But same story for dinner.
He threw up the moment I gave him any food. Tried a bunch of things and gave up. He skipped breakfast this morning. He only wanted to drink Gatorade - I just gave him what he asked for - as long as he got some fluids in I was happy. In essence, I jinxed the whole thing! I was not in a celebratory mood on Sat night what with KB looking tired with hunger and not being able to breathe comfortably...I just deleted my long post about his 2.5 yr update! It had links to some his favorite books, toys and what not. Sorry baby girl - you wrote about your brother - I took the liberty to delete that post!

He insisted he will only eat bagel today - Murphy's law - we ran out of bagels at home! I wanted him to get some solid food in - so took both kids to the bagel shop and he ate half a bagel - just the bread part, no crust below. Thankfully baby girl had a good time too looking around. But I had to stop at half a bagel and bring them home because she was sleepy. Once we got home, KB didn't want to eat any more bagel.

It's just a cold, nothing big I know - but he hasn't had a real cold/throwing up etc since last Feb - so I was nervous how I will handle it if he were to be cranky all day and I had to attend to baby girl also. So far they are being good..hopefully he will resume normal eating soon. Dotmom, I should have used your nimbu anti jinx graphic when I even mentally thought to myself that he is eating better and that somehow we managed to escape the "cold" for one year!