Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good night, sweet dreams....

I think back to the times when KB was an infant and I am amazed how I used to spend so much time singing to him to get him to sleep and gently let him in the crib holding my breath and praying he won't wake up in the process. He was a restless sleeper (and still is) and would wake up in the middle of the night for his feeds. After nursing KB, I would hand him over to B who would sweetly let me go to sleep while he took care of getting KB to sleep. B would sit in our computer chair and put his feet on the edge of our bed and hold him in his two hands with the head resting on his palms. He would gently rock him from side to side and whistle so many nice tunes that I too used to enjoy listening to in my half asleep state.

And then when KB was old enough to move to the toddler bed, we somehow moved to the story tradition. Which is still continuing except the stories are very elaborate and KB is an active participant in the story, making up Dinosaurs and character names! KG was different as an infant - I am ever grateful to her for being an easy sleeper at least the first 18m (and to some extent even now). I just had to turn the music on and leave her in her crib during bed time and she would go to sleep on her own if it was her bed time. And then suddenly when she turned 18m, that changed and she expected us to make her sleep. Accepting that was a little difficult for us since we got so spoilt by then. We slowly started moving her bed time to the same as KB's (she used to sleep an hour before him) just so we could all spend time together. She didn't demand much other than our presence so the stories for KB continued on while KG just drifted to sleep.

Now our bed time routines for the children take a good fifteen minutes. We usually read to them while giving them dinner and later in the living room. Somehow we have not had a "bed time" reading habit for them. They come into the bed room and first KG has her teeth brushed. But she only lets us brush her teeth after she has brushed it herself. In the meanwhile, I give KB his night clothes and then it is his turn to brush his teeth. He goes on and on brushing and finally comes to bed. I tuck them both in and then change into my night clothes. Then comes the fun part for all of us.

I give KG a tight crush hug and tell her "I love you" a few times and then give her a "helicopter kiss" or an "airplane kiss" or a "Kitty cat kiss" or any other animal requested by her. As soon as I give it, she says "helicopter kiss, I said it first". And then KB from his new "Spider man twin bed", would say "Mamma, I want a helicopter kiss first". Some days there are no protests. I then say "good night, sweet dreams, happy thoughts" to KG and she repeats it to me. She then says "You be (awake in the) long (winter) night", a line she learned from her brother. He said it by chance one night in our old house when he was going upstairs to sleep and from then on it stuck. Both kids say it to me every night. I then do the whole routine with KB. Except with him after I wish him sweet dreams and happy thoughts, I ask him "What are your happy thoughts today?" and then we come up with a quick bullet point summary of all the fun things that he did that day. Today for example, it was "M's birthday party, toy story tee shirt from mamma, ride on the giant wheel and carousel, eating at Baja fresh, his favorite place for cheese quesedillas". I then ask him "So will you sleep happy tonight" and he says "Yeah" and then says, "you be awake in the long winter night" and then I leave the room while B stays on to tell a story for KB. I tell KB his nap time story and B tells him his bedtime story.

Our night time sleep routine for the kids just fills me with joy. It is one of the best times of each day for me - hugging them tight and making them feel snug and warm under their blankets and making them feel secure in our love and thinking of all the happy things that happened that day. It just feels like family, those moments. B just waits patiently and when I am done with all the fuss, KG just says "Kitvaa pannanum" (I want to come closer (kitta vaa)). She goes and sticks to B's back and turns the other way and goes to sleep while he faces KB's bed and tells KB his night time story. Later when we go to bed, we move KG to her toddler bed from our bed. Of course there are nights when it is not so pleasant when either kid is sick or when KB wakes up with bad dreams. But when things are normal, those moments are blissful. I wonder how long this particular night time tradition will continue...may be 2 or 3 more years until they grow up and don't need so much fuss from me?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Play play play!

I am really pushing myself to write this post. Every night I think of writing a post, but I just feel lazy when I get to the laptop and I just read news/emails and some blog posts if I happen to blog hop (I have not yet started using google reader). There is so much I miss out by not posting - first of, the wonderful feeling of reading a few comments from blog pals and feeling that connection. And that feeling of reliving some nice moments. There are things I wish I had written about so I can go back to it now and remember what KB did when he was two or three years old. I told myself that I will just at the least write about how our weekend was since it was the kind that I most enjoy - unplanned, spontaneous, really low-key, relaxed and totally fun.

KB has started attending Bal Vihar classes on Sunday mornings. I should write a separate post on that topic since I had many arguments with B about sending KB to Bal Vihar classes. The class meets from 11.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. B did not like the idea of a block of time taken up like that every Sunday. Anyway - since he is attending those classes now, that leaves only Saturday entirely free for us to do whatever we want to. Since my FIL is in India now, I don't even need to be home for cooking meals on time. We just pack the kids lunch and go where ever we want and come back around 3.00 pm for their nap. I always feel this pressure on Saturday mornings though to make sure that our precious Saturday doesn't get wasted in mundane chores like waiting at the bank or me going grocery shopping. Some Saturdays we manage to make the most of it, some Saturdays, it does go in things like those - which is fine, but a little dull in my opinion.

So last Saturday (Nov.7), I woke up and was reading the newspaper and having my morning tea. Back of my mind, I was also thinking about where to take the kids. All fun on Saturdays is only kid-centric. A new children's museum has opened up in our city and I thought may be we could take them there. A friend of mine was planning to take her kids on a train ride in the local regional park, so I was wondering if we should join them there. Suddenly, I thought of our local zoo where I purchased a family membership. It only takes an hour or so to cover the entire zoo which includes a petting zoo. And they have a wonderful play area which is shaded and is very lively since kids who come to the zoo are always stopping there before heading back home. I had taken the kids to this zoo a few times on my own (with friends, but without B) but I thought it might be fun for the kids to go with Dad. So finally I had a plan for the day.

We left home at 11.00 a.m. and went to the zoo. I was surprised to see so many cars parked there just an hour after it opened. But thankfully it didn't feel too crowded inside. We went inside and looked around at the various animals and birds. Highlight each time of course are the Gibbon swinging monkeys. They make these wacky sounds loudly and are swinging across tree branches like Tarzan - the kids just love it. The Guanaco, from the Llama family is of course another favorite for them. We have been to this zoo so often that now KB especially talks about these animals with such familiarity. "Hey, look at that gliding turtle" he says with much familiarity when we finally spot it in a swamp. We then took the train ride around the zoo and then the kids did their customary carousel ride - KB chose the big eagle and KG the tiger (calling it Sher Khan since they are such big fans of Jungle Book). Then of course came the drudgery that KB had to endure if he were to be allowed to play in the play area. Lunch! He tried bargaining with me, but I put my foot down and said, he had to eat lunch before going to the play area. So he managed to finish 3/4th of his lunch and then begged me with his usual "Porumaa?" (can I stop now?). They then played for more than an hour in the play area. KB decided to name that play area and called it "Channing park". There was a little boy, may be four or five years old, who adamantly blocked the way when KG was trying to go through the steps leading to the slide. She first looked puzzled and then looked up at the boy and said "MOVE"! It is kind of cute to see a little girl not even realize that the boy was trying to intimidate her. She just stood there waiting for him to move. He stood his ground though and refused to move no matter how many times she told him to. Finally I had to go tell the boy "Move, please?" in a rather stern voice. Only then he moved. God save our gentle kids in school as they grow up.

Finally, we got back home around 2.30 p.m. The kids went to nap. B and I had our lunch, followed by tea. Within half an hour KB woke up. In the meanwhile, my friend said she would be coming with her two sons to the big park near our place. KB was thrilled when I told him I would take him there if he wanted to join them. So after just an hour and half or so at home, we were again out at the park. KB wore the tiger mask I had bought for him at the zoo and startled his friend when he met him at the park. KB decided that they were going to be "people rescuers" (from Diego) that rescue people from the giant. The bright red, tall and curvy slide he said was the beanstalk. KB said he found the key and unlocked the magic harp and defeated the giant when he went up the slide (walking the wrong way up!). They played on and on going on the castle like structure and defeated several more giants with their super hero tactics. With the day light savings time now, it gets dark very early. By 5.15 or so, it was pretty dark. But there were some kids in the park and as always we don't leave until most people have left! Now the kids decided on some sand play. All the monkeys climbed on top of the sand tunnels and made sand mountains and what not. The weather was cool and there was some lighting in the park. It just felt good to see the kids just play on and on without any worries.

After an eternity at the park, we finally got home around 7.00 p.m. I quickly made their dinner and they ate around 8.00 p.m. B had to go buy milk since we were running out. I had to entertain both kids, so we decided to play hide and seek. KG of course kept giving away our hiding place by running with me and saying "Mamma" and looking at me when we were ducking behind the bed. I had bought a tub of vinyl Dinosaurs for KB at the zoo. He is so into Dinosaurs now that we pretend to be different Dinosaurs at different times. We played the Dinosaur tickle attack game where I would hide outside the room and then after a moment of silence suddenly spring into the room screaming "The Barosaurus is coming" and with my hand pretend to have a long neck and come and tickle the hyper excited screaming kids to the end of the bed. And for KG's sake we played the Dino counting game where the three of us just screamed ONE, TWO, THREE together while counting the tub of Dinosaurs. There was so much laughter in that room when B walked in, I told him that he had to come right away into the room and to join us.

It was a day full of childish pleasures from simple games and things. Just filled my heart with joy. I did not have time to think about much else and we just lived in the moment and I felt like I was also four years old when playing with my kids! KB told his dad this morning, "Dad, you know, some bad people killed the Tamarin monkeys and now there are only 400 Tamarin monkeys left (in the wild, which he did not say)". KB went to school this morning and told his teacher, "I went to the zoo. You know what my favorite animal is? The swinging monkey. It sat on a branch and ate leaves. You know, if you upset the Guanaco, it will spit on you". His teacher, who is amazingly sweet and wonderful with kids said, " gel for me?".
Later, she was asking the kids to say some word in the letter their names begin with and KB said "Herrerasaurus" since his name begins with a "H". It was as if the weekend of animals, park, dinosaurs, sand play etc was still in his head and he was barely getting out of the weekend mode!

I met an Indian woman at the park on a day when KB did not have school. She asked me how old he was and I told her he had turned four in August. She immediately said to me, "Oh, he is four. Why don't you put him in the Abacus class (for Math)? My daughter has been going there, it is really good". She meant well, I did not take offense to her. I do get nervous when I talk to such parents that I have not enrolled KB in any kind of academic class and he only goes to half a day school, that too not a Montessori school. But when I think of days like last Saturday, I feel like my heart is full - that feeling of just giving him the time to just be, to enjoy life's simple pleasures in a way that only a child can...he was learning in his own way that day too. It was not academic in a rigorous way but he was enjoying it fully. We have read so many books that he learned phonics on his own and is able to read simple books just from that even if he didn't attend any phonics classes. He does simple mental math while playing "Bear's birthday party" with made up stories of how many bears would be in the room if four more bears joined the party etc etc doing mental addition in the process. I feel at ease "teaching" him this way rather than in a more rigorous way through classes. B sometimes feel we are being "too" relaxed and we should remember that he will be competing against the hard core Indian and Chinese kids who are always pushed to be one or two grades higher than their age level. I tell myself that I will also try to be more of an academic mom but when the clock shows 3.45 p.m. and I know there is only an hour of day light left, I still find myself rushing to get the kids ready to go to the park rather than stay home and do some activity books. And when we get back, it is time to cook dinner, feed them etc, so it leaves us only half an hour or so to do "work" before his bed time. If he brings his "Frog and toad" book and wants dad to read to him, we just say OK rather than force him to sit and write his numbers. I just hope "going with the flow" is also an accepted method of parenting that will work out OK in the end.

For now, I am glad I wrote about a day filled with play and more play that I can read about when KB is slogging away at his homework, studying for his SAT's after a quick shower and dinner when he gets back from his soccer game, finishing the science project report and practicing the piano for his upcoming concert and emailing the volunteer coordinator while checking the score for the NFL game! :) Enjoy it now, you little giant defeater, for the pressures of adulthood wait for you as you go up that beanstalk!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Single word story!

I was feeding KG her lunch a couple of days back when KB was quietly doing something in the family room. I thought he was packing a gift for someone - a new fad he has going now. A few minutes later, he brought his doodle pro to me and asked me to pronounce the word he had written. I said "PCOFT" and pronounced it as "Pick koft". He said to me, "Mamma, that is a story I wrote". I said, "how is that a story?". He proceeded to enlighten me.

"Mamma, this is the story about a little boy named Pick". One day, he started coughing a lot. (He added in Tamil, "Gollu Gollu'nu cough pannithu, mamma". Then his mom took him to the doctor. He had bronchitis. So his mom went to "Reftan" (his own imaginary pharmacy) pharmacy and gave them a prescription for "Prednisone". Mamma, Reftan pharmacy has both squiggly balloon and medicines. The little boy took Prednisone - he took two teaspoons a day and then he was better. That is the story Mamma!

Wow - all that in one word "PCOFT

Today he wrote another word "TFGCH" on his doodle pro.

He said to me "This is the story of a little boy named Tiff. He is four years old. He has a little sister named "Gich". She is two years old. And they are still friends".

That's it. That's the story behind "TFGCH". :)
Since the time I wrote this post in my drafts section, he has written down many such random words and come up with little stories around these random letter words. Some very detailed, some very short ones. I guess it is the age of twittering, so why not one word stories! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When the baby bird learns to fly!

I just read this post by Mniamma. I especially enjoyed reading this line about her 8 month old daughter.

She also crossed over the main door threshold to wave ‘bye’ to M and N and I promptly made payasam to celebrate the occasion.

When KB was a few months old, may be three months old, I don't remember what milestone it was - but when I told my MIL about it, she asked me if I made some sweet to celebrate it. Somehow that was the first time I became aware of that tradition or rather paid attention to it. I am sure I had heard of it before but somehow I had not thought about it. I just love that tradition of making a sweet to celebrate little milestones like a baby's rolling over or crawling or taking the first step.

By that count, I feel almost like making some sweet myself and celebrating what to me is a huge milestone - if not for KB, for me as his mother! KB has been a rather stubborn, strong willed, sensitive child. The tamil phrase "Amma Kondu" is made for him. As the director of the first preschool he went to said to me, he clearly knows what he wants, he is not afraid or shy, he is mad at you for leaving him and going home, he is very articulate, he knows his mind and cannot be distracted. Now with a child like that, it has been hard to just leave him with any one or at drop off programs. He got used to one school last year and I stuck to that school all of last year because he was used to that place and I did want to traumatize him with changes. This year I started him off in a new school beginning of this month and after a minute of crying, he just calmed down and has been enjoying himself. But I had prepped him for it by taking him to that school three times and staying there with him for an hour.

Anyway - back to why I want to make payasam today! I enrolled him in an art class and this class meets every Tuesday for two hours. It is a drop off class and parent participation is not required. I casually asked KB last night if I can just drop him off and come back home with KG and pick him up at 12.00 pm. He too casually said, "Yeah".
"Yeah?" I said.

"Yeah yeah yeah", KB said confidently.

I thought to myself, well, he is just saying it. Am sure when I get there, he will probably start crying. Although a part of me felt that he was sounding quite sure of it. This morning, I drove him to class and filled out the emergency contact information. While I was filling it out, he was already in his spot in the class and he said to me, "Nee po Mamma" (you go mamma). I told him I would leave after filling out the form and wondered if he would cry if he saw me leave. I went and gave him a hug to make sure he knew I was leaving and I told him to be good and that I would see him at 12.00 pm. He said O.K but he continued to focus on the stencil he was working with then. I left the place along with KG.

I kept checking my cell phone to see if the teacher was calling me saying he was crying. I visited a friend for half an hour and came back and hung out by the lake behind the classroom. I could not believe it - KB did not cry at all and was having a good time. This is a class room he has never been to, it looked pretty serious (not so kiddish) - with tables and chairs and kids silently working on their art work without too much noise...the teacher was new and I just left him there and drove out of the place. And he was still fine! For those of you who know KB, I am sure you can feel my joy. Even his going to the new school was not as eventful as this one was to me. My little baby boy who has such a hard time being away from me other than at his preschool managed to stay in a new place on his own and enjoyed himself! KNOCK ON WOOD!
Mniamma, if I don't make payasam this week, you should send me a e-kick! :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kutti boy a big boy!

I have had so many little posts in my head but did not sit down to write any of them. I suppose like marriage you first are so excited when you start a think of what to write, feverishly read those scant comments that are left for your post, you get excited, disappointed, you then reposition yourself and settle more comfortably in that space...make new blog pals and get so comfortable with them that you don't really keep in touch with them...and the excitement of those initial posts is replaced by this feeling of familiarity and liberty. Counting on those few loyal blog pals to read you even if you post infrequently!

Am digressing. I figured I should write a short post at least because recently in my email exchange with Tara, I realized I had not even clearly written about how KB has healed after his cast was removed on Apr.20.09 after nearly seven weeks of his left arm being in one. It was not a pleasant time for me to see him that way but I also found it to be a different kind of experience in parenting. Where you learn to cope with the hardest part of it - that of bearing your child's pain with grace. He was not in pain but to see this child know his own limits as to what he can or cannot do, to know that he cannot go to the park unless he was just going to walk was heart breaking if I paused to think about it. What carried me through was the only thought that it was a finite time and I should be mighty grateful for that - many people have it much much worse. And I pray to God that even if he were to put me (us) through difficult situations, it should be ones I can come out of and move on with life.

So much has happened in the last three months. KB's arm seems to have healed well, thank god. I still feel nervous when I see him run very fast on concrete areas in the park or jump from raised structures - but I try hard to not focus on it. We moved to a single level home with a nice yard and the kids are loving it. Just as I thought to myself, oh what a nice feeling to see the kids playing happily in the yard at the back hours on end, a friend told me a few days back that her house was burgled. That has left me nervous since she lives a couple of miles from my place. And this is supposed to be one of the safest places in the nation. Prayers again.

KG turned two in June and KB turned four in Aug. I can hardly believe it when I see the two kids sitting very close to each other, sometimes with KB leaning on KB while they watch "Free Willy". I need to write a separate post on their developing personalities. Polar opposites many ways. We had a party for them in a reserved picnic shelter at a beautiful park earlier in the month and it was a lot of fun. We had a puppet show for the kids which was a super hit. They all played ball and ran around on the field after the cake cutting. A couple of friends who I really hoped would come could not make it - other than that it was satisfying for me. The best part was that my mother was here with us the last two months and so she was there for the party. The kids just lovvved having Patti around. She taught them old tamil rhymes like "Maangai thalai murugan" which are utterly charming and cute. She left just two days back and I am sorely missing her presence at home. She was so good with the kids that I really feel bad for them.

KB started pre-K in a new school since the beginning of August. He got into another school close to my place after having been in their wait list for a long time. But KB chose to go to this other school instead. So I decided to go with his wishes. I am so glad we chose this current school. The teachers are absolutely wonderful and nurturing. They give the kids so much space to play and run and be kids and yet manage to also teach them things. It was one of the few schools that let me bring KB for three classes before enrolling there just so he can get used to the place with me around. The first day KB cried a little but calmed down soon after I left apparently. When I went to pick him up, he was leaning very comfortably on the bean bag and talking to his teacher and his classmates! So far so good. Praying that the teachers should continue here the whole year and KB should have a positive experience overall.

I leave you with a couple of pictures of gentle KB who is turning into a "Rettai val" (mischievous)as he turned four and that of free spirited KG who we call "Ragalai".

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Feel good day!

Some days are just feel good days. Well, I know tomorrow I will probably be crying over some random thing or the other - hope the spirits don't hear me say this - but today has been a feel good day. KB has started swim lessons and this morning he was really enjoying the class. I felt happy about that.

Finally I actually got to meet a blogger face to face! And it was such a nice meeting. Met with Kodi's mom at my place for a few hours. Best part was seeing how well the kids especially KB and Kodi got along. They were both so amused with their own silly number jokes and seemed to really get each other and laugh over nothing! Kodi has such a sweet, down to earth temperament and she was so warm and pleasant - it was really nice seeing them all at our place. Every time she actually called Kodi "kuttimeow", I couldn't believe that I was actually physically seeing him. KB calls him his "new friend" and after got home from the park he said, " I wish Kodi Aunty would move here, so I can play silly number games with my friend every day". Plane papa has the most adorable eyes and soft chubby cheeks. All that was missing between him and Kodi's mom was super glue! He would not let her go out of sight. KB was just that way when he was one year old! I didn't have much time to think about our meeting before it happened - but when ever I did think about it - I was wondering how it would feel to actually meet a blogger in person. And wondered if my blog image will seem so different to them when they see me in person etc etc...But with Kodi's mom, it was so easy to settle into conversation and feel at ease. My mother too got to meet her and in her typical style she said later, "Romba nalla madhiriya irukkale andha ponnu" (she seems like a nice type!). So that was feel good #2.

Feel good #3 - KB has been on the brink of reading books on his own. He keeps asking me for spellings of words and I would just get him started and he would continue on with the sounds and spell it on his own with some help from me for words like "light" but totally on his own for simple words like "car". I don't know why - but I have sort of been waiting for this moment - more than I did even for his first steps. To be there when he reads a little book all on his own. We had decided this morning that after dinner we would go to his play room and he would read a book from the "Bob books" collection on his own. And he did! It was such an exciting feeling for me. And I could see it in the tone of his voice that he too felt so good that he could read it all by himself. I would have felt this good even if he had read a book on his own a year later. But it was that feeling of a huge world opening up for him that made me feel so good. God please keep him safe and healthy! The day KB fell down and fractured his elbow (on Feb.24.09), I had taken him to a home based montessori and KB seemed to like it - so Idecided to give it a shot. And when I talked to my sister that night, I told her that I was feeling so giddy with excitement about KB joining a new school. And that very night, he fell and fractured his elbow and couldn't go to any school, not even the one he was going to then for two weeks. Since then, I can't help but feel this knot in my stomach even when I get excited about anything regarding him.

KB turns four on Aug.3.09 and I am planning to have a party for both KB and KG together. I am planning to surprise him by inviting his teacher from a dance and music class that he took last year. She will organize some games/dance etc at the party. Even while I wrote to this teacher about timings for the party, I was feeling so excited at the thought of KB feeling happy and excited when he sees her. And I go through that same knot in the tummy kind of feeling that am being happy and what if it gets jinxed and KB gets hurts etc. Anyway it was overall a nice day!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fantasy world!

I had written long time back about how KB and I have this tradition of coming up with story titles, taking turns each night. Either me or his dad have to then come up with some made up story based on that title. The next morning KB usually tells me the story.

In the process we realized how fantastic children's imagination at this stage (he will be four in Aug) can be. The kinds of names KB comes up with for the characters in his stories! These are either animal stories or people stories. Some of the names he comes up with makes me think he has been secretly reading Tolkein or C.S.Lewis. Before I fall asleep on the keyboard I will quickly write down some of the names he gives to characters (it always involves a boy and his little sister or just two brothers) stories. He comes up with these names as we start telling the story. Funnily enough, he also tells me how old they are and the little girl is always two but the boy's age varies between 4 and 8.

I usually start off saying, "Once there was a little boy and his name was" and then KB says, "let me think" and in a couple of seconds comes up with some random name. Only in the last one week I have remembered to actually write them down. I felt really guilty that he has been coming up with these really exotic names for his story characters and I don't remember any of them. So I wrote down some of them. Here are some for your amusement!

The cricket story :
Vrittan - age 7
Gernik - age 2

The little girl who was mischievous:
Vurukerak - age 7
Juveliar - age 2

The little boy who wants to be an orthopedist:
Aver - age 6

The little boy who tells time correctly:
Joar - age 5
Ribi - age 2

The little girl gets a time out: (I think this was the title)
Kittrank - age6
Keedle - age 2
Velk - Mom
Zon - Dad
Ms.Dank - teacher

The blue whale and the sea turtle:
Kraker - age 5
Halle - age 2

The frog and the goat:
Daquiri - age 5
Lavel - age 2
Relaver - Uncle

As is this wasn't enough for him every day, he has told my mom that he is going to give her 100,000 names. He doesn't know what that number really means - but every now and then he walks by paati and says "Paati, your name is Zeel". And my mom will say to him "Seal". He then says, "Seal ille paati, Zeel...Z - Zebra'le varume". And then she has to correct herself and say "Zeel".

We went to Seaworld last weekend and bought him a little dolphin and KG a little whale. As soon as we got home he went on to name the dolphin and KG's whale as
"Wuruke" and "Zam" respectively.

I better stop - I am falling asleep on the computer!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Moved and mostly settled in...

We moved houses on Sunday, May.31.09. The kind of stuff that you only want to think back on and not want to go through again in the near future. Painful as it is, somehow I find moves very refreshing once I finish moving and settling in. There is something fundamentally different when you actually live in a different house and it feels as if there is something to look forward to in getting used to the new place, new neighborhood etc. I went through the usual feeling of "I wish I didn't have to move from a place that I am so used to now". I had that fear or discomfort of the unknown...even in something as simple as going for a walk and not knowing who you will see or feeling unfamiliar even with the names of the streets. It is June 20 now and I can't believe it has already been twenty days since we moved in. I feel happy to be here more than I thought I would be.

In a strange way, I went through (as most people probably do during moves) a introspective experience during the process of packing and unpacking. A feeling of suffocation and disgust at the amount of things we accumulate...wanting to just dump everything and live in such a way that I would know exactly what we have in every box and not have anything that I don't use every day. But after we finished moving to the new place and I started unpacking, it was a warm feeling of contentment in putting things in place and turning the bare rooms into a home. Putting up pictures, little paintings by KB, magnets from places we have been to...The opposing feelings that you go through in the process of opening boxes you had not looked at in when I see old letters and wonder why I save them when in fact I only look at them during moves. But it is those few minutes when you discover unexpected things that you go through the nostalgia of days gone feels good. And yet I wish I could throw some of those away because it feels like a life lived in some other birth. Friends who I have lost touch with, friends who I only want to remember fondly but don't want to really get in touch with - because deep down I feel we have drifted in our paths in brings with it a certain sadness as well.

An example. I opened a wedding invitation from an old friend from the time I was working. I was staying in a dorm room at that time and I just bumped into him at the lounge when I went in to check out the piano there. He was an American who happened to play a hindi song on the violin at that time. And that's how we got talking. We became very good friends. Now we have completely lost touch for no real reason. He is now a successful physician, married (he used to talk about his dates with her when they first got to know each other) with two kids, and I am a sahm. We have shared so much as friends and yet I really don't feel like it would mean much to even get back in touch. We have laughed so much and discussed so much about different topics - it brings back such good memories. It's all Maya - B likes to tease me when I worry about some things. In some ways looking at some of these old letters from friends somehow made me think of that - Maya. It all seems so ephemeral and fleeting. However, there is the slow reality to contend with. Duties to be performed no matter how fleeting everything is in the big picture. I look at my aging mother now and I think to myself that this is who raised me and toiled with me when I refused to eat, who trained me to eat, sleep, go to school. Now this is her reality - a life without my father, her pace slowing down and her belongings that can fit into suitcases while she travels around to spend time with each of us. She too lived in a large home with a million things - large Godrej bureau, furniture, bedding, couches, kitchen utensils, jewellery, car, books, "golu" bommais, and million other things that made up her home. The cycle of life. As I build our home, even if it is a rental home, it is still a wonderful feeling to have a place to call home. But I am afraid sometimes to even pause on that thought...what if...we are all so dependent on each other that without the four of us there is no home now. I immediately pray for every one to be healthy and safe. A friend recently lost her brother in a swimming accident and soon after that I read this news. As I hear my friend talk about how she saw her brother physically healthy just a few minutes before he drowned and passed away, I wonder how one ever comes to terms with something like that. My heart feels full in the quietness of the night as I hear the soft music playing in our room where B and the kids are asleep...and yet I realize I am merely going through the motions of life that my mother too went through even if not in exactly the same ways and my children will soon grow up and the cycle of life will continue and one has to be ready for its idiosyncrasies and one never knows what life will throw at you at any point...

That was a long "stream of consciousness" kind of post! If you manage to get to the end of this post, do let me know (or better still write a post about it) about your experiences and feelings while moving.

BTW - KG turned two on June 17, we had a little cake thing for her at home. Plan to have a party for her along with KB's in August. Will post a couple of pics later.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Get me to write!

Oh God - please someone make me write again! I so badly want to - but every night I am either too tired or too lazy to log in and write a new post! I so badly want to write stuff so I remember at least a few snippets later.

Is any one still reading me? I know, Aryan you are, since your comment is new! Good to see you back!

Sorry folks - for those who bothered to check - for not writing any new posts! So much happening. Not that that is an excuse!

Let me give a quick update.

- KB's cast is off (was removed on Apr 14). We went on a trip to my brother's place for four days - soon after got back from that trip, the cast was off. He seems to have healed well based on the X-ray and the range of movement - thank heavens. Knock on wood. Anti jinx etc etc! :) KB who was crying school and had me really worried that he was regressing just magically stopped the day his cast was off. I felt really bad for even trying to get him to go to school when he probably felt insecure deep down because his hand was in a cast.

- KG is wild as ever - loves to jump even while walking. Just jumps and hops instead of walking even at home. And the stairs are her favorite. Well, after KB's fall, I became more paranoid and could not handle the stress of the two kids chasing each other up and down the stairs inside the house. I knew that once my mother or my FIL come to stay with us, I would have to cook a lot more and I was afraid I would let the oil burn if I heard one of the kids fall! So I decided that we should move to a single level rental home.

- I have been busy house hunting. Finally found a place, carpeted, with a nice backyard and fairly spacious as well. But it is older than the house we are in - so takes some getting used to - older looking fixtures in terms of style. Although newly painted and in a neighborhood with a good elementary school (KB should be joining KG in 2010 unless I decide to hold him back a year before he goes to KG).

- We move this coming Sunday. In the meanwhile, KB has been sick since Sunday. He went to our neighborhood park to fly a kite with his dad while KG and I ran all over the field. That evening both kids are all healthy, happy running all over the place. Next morning, they wake up dull with a fever! Damn these viruses! Since Tuesday KB has been coughing non stop - I felt like heart would literally break. I took him and KG to the doctor on Tuesday morning. After chest exam and nebulizer treatment, they said his chest was clear. No need for antibiotics. We get home - but he continues to cough. He could not eat any solid food. Any liquids he drank also, he could not keep it in because of the cough. Wednesday morning, again I took both kids (B was very busy at work those two days) to the doctor by myself. Again the same thing. Just a bad virus they said. But Wed evening, the cough was unberable for me. I told B to come home asap and take KB to urgent care. There, the doctor prescribed "Prednisone". Finally after a second dose of Prednisone this morning followed by a nap early afternoon, KB woke up without the terrifying cough. I would dread mornings and night times because especially after lying down, he would just cough so unbearably. Again, he has been so patient through all this the last three days. In fact he consoled me so many times that slowly, if he kept drinking water, he would "defeat" the virus! :) He keeps listening to my conversation with the doctor, with my sister who is a pediatrician and to my conversations with B - so he picks up all these things and talks like he is a doctor himself. This morning, when I told him ina frustrated tone, "I don't know what to do KB...I have taken you to the doctor thrice and given you medicines...the cough is just not going away. It is going to take some time". He tells me "But they have not done a chest X-ray for me!". (To rule out bacterial infection!). His getting better has been the best birthday gift for me. It was really killing me to see him suffer like this and not eat anything for three days in a row. God please keep these kids healthy. In the meanwhile, KG has been constipated and is also congested. But she became cranky etc only after KB got better - so at least I could manage them both one sick kid at a time! Thank heavens for small mercies!

So that's the update! My mother is going to visit us soon after we move to our new place. KB is excited that his "Patti" will be here soon. Am looking forward to seeing them interact with my mother. Hopefully after we settle down, I will be able to write a little more frequently!

Hope you are all doing well!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red it is!

Posting again - for some reason the last part of my post did not get posted...

The orthopedic surgeon had told us to come in for a check up a week after the surgery to add one more layer to the cast since he had left room for swelling. So we went to his clinic again and KB very happily sat on the bed and waited for the surgeon. When the doctor walked in and asked KB how he was feeling and if he was feeling any pain, KB casually said, "No, I don't feel any pain". And again said, "Why didn't you give me a red cast?". The surgeon said, "Ahh...yeah. Even my daughter (who looked about six) asked me why I didn't give KB a red cast?" (She happened to walk with him during his rounds the day after KB's surgery). He told KB, "OK, we will give you red today". And when they were really ready to put on the next layer, the doctor playfully asked KB, "You want orange?", to which KB surely replied, "Red"! The surgeon smiled and said to him, "Just making sure!". KB looked satisfied with his new cast. I felt quite bad to think that we still had five more weeks to go but I tried hard to tell myself that time will go by fast.

A few days later, I took KB and KG to "Party city", since KB wanted some "worm balloons". After I got that and other such junk in my cart, I walked to the check out line. And I could not believe the coincidence in the conversation I had with two people at the line. The guy behind me asked me "What happened to his arm?" and I told him. He said, "The moment I saw him, I knew...because my son went through the exact same fall - just two feet high - fell awkwardly and had a surgery soon after and was in a cast for six weeks!". Same hospital even. And the woman in front of us heard him talking and said, "My daughter had it even worse...she was only two and she broke her collar bone when she climbed on the kitchen table and fell down...and they could not do any surgery or just had to heal on its own!".

Can you believe the coincidence - this has never happened to me - I rarely even talk to people while standing at the check out line, especially at party city! And all three of us had gone through the same kind of thing...I could not believe it. I felt as if it happened to make me feel better and to reassure me that KB will be back to normal soon. The other guy said his son is totally back to normal...and even the little kid with the collar bone fracture eventually started using her arm. All is well that ends well!

KB now walks around with his bright red cast. I tell the story of how he fell and what happened to his arm like a broken record since the bright red cast attracts the attention of so many people!
KB just runs around and his sister seems oblivious to any of this. The other day I came out of the bathroom quickly only to see KG happily playing with her brother except that in the process she was literally sitting on him on the couch! I have to guard his arm and make sure it doesn't get rammed into or it doesn't get wet. Each time I feel sorry, I control myself and think about Baby S and how he has now had his one eye removed (His mom emailed me saying the surgery went well) and that I should take this in fall, period. They run around and things happen. I am trying hard not to walk on egg shells all the time worrying when either KB or KG will fall from something.

I will end this post with some nice words from Baby S's strong and courageous mother (the baby who had tumors in his one eye). "I cannot wait until he is well, it seems to be such a simple thing considering there are so many children who are just normal and healthy, but I know to be able to raise a normal and healthy child is both a miracle and blessing. I wish you all the strength and blessings that Baby S has taught me to take care of your son and daughter. We will keep your family in our prayers." Her son, all of sixteen months old had taught her to be strong and in turn she is giving me strength. And I pass it on to all of you.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The bright red cast...

My brother and I waited in the family area talking to the other mom (T) about her baby S. I just stepped out after about half an hour when I saw an OR nurse wheeling out the stroller in which they took KB inside. I asked him how much longer the surgery would take and he said it was already done and they are now putting the cast on him. I was very surprised and relieved to know it was over already. I had expected to wait for an hour and a half. But we had to wait another half an hour for them to allow us into the recovery room. B had to stay with KG in the family area while I went in to see KB. They had a little crib kind of bed made of steel, I guess to prevent kids from falling out etc. KB was still fast asleep under the effect of the anesthesia. The IV needles were still connected and he did not have his shirt on. Just a pillow on top of his chest. He still had his pants and shoes on him. My first instinct was that he would be cold and I asked the nurse about it. She said he wasn't cold since they keep the room temperature warm and he had a pillow on his chest. He looked suddenly so much more grown up in the kind of expression his sleeping face had. It is so hard to put into words.

I went out to the family area and let B in to see KB. While B was waiting there, the nurse tried to wake him up just so they could make sure he was able to recognize us, was able to speak clearly etc before transferring him to the main hospital (out of the surgery unit) for the night.
When KB woke up, he started crying immediately asking for "Mammma". So B told me to rush in and I came running to see KB. As soon as I held his fingers, he was calm. Half awake but clearly recognizing us all. I asked him if he wanted me to sing "Mudakaratha modakam" a song he has heard me sing nearly every day. He said yes. I sang softly into his ears. The nurse was passing by and I asked her how long before we get transferred to the hospital. KB even in his half asleep state was following my singing. He got upset that I was not continuing. So I quickly started singing again. He fell asleep again while I waited there. A few minutes later, he woke up again and looked up and said "Hey, anga paaru, sea horse!" (Look there, a sea horse), pointing a picture above him. After sometime the nurse told us which room we would be moving to at the hospital for an over night stay before being discharged. They wheeled KB as it is in the crib bed and we (myself, B, KG and my brother) followed the nurse to the next building.

The day before the surgery, at the doctor's office, they had asked KB what color cast he would like to get on his fractured elbow. He looked at the spectrum of colors on display and picked "red" instantly. B blames it on my influence. He says I don't even realize how much I gravitate towards red when it comes to clothes. When I saw KB in the recovery room, I was disappointed to see him in a blue cast because they had specifically asked KB what color he wanted but gave him the wrong color. To a child, these things matter. When KB was moved to a bed at the main hospital, he noticed his cast and immediately said, "hey, why didn't they give me red?!". I told him some random reason but KB did not buy it. It was close to 7.00 p.m. already, KG had to be fed. So they left and I was alone with KB. I told the nurse around 8.00 pm that KB had not peed since 2.00 pm. She said that I could give him juice and then if he tolerated it well, we could then coax him to pee. She said it he did not pee even after four more hours, they would then use a catheter. I was again afraid of one more procedure on him, so my immediate goal was to get him to pee after drinking his juice. Thankfully that all went OK and the nurse gave him stickers even for that! KB had a field day because I gave him juice when ever he asked for it. And different flavors each time! Because he hadn't eaten anything all day. We sat and watched some baby Einstein programme on TV and then I read some books and told him stories. He complained of the cast feeling too tight, so they had given him morphine. He was not sleepy at all and said that he would only sleep at home. I somehow convinced him that we could only go home the next morning. Finally around 11.40 pm, he fell asleep. I slept right next to him in his bed itself. I hardly got some two or three hours of sleep that night. But KB slept well for the most part except when he had to get up to go to the bathroom.

The next morning when the surgeon came on rounds, KB answered his questions about how he was feeling etc and immediately said to him, "WHY didn't you give me red?!". The surgeon was really sweet about it and said that he knew at the back of his mind that he had messed up. He then apologized and said one week later, when he put on another layer, he would give KB a red cast. I really appreciated the kindness with which the doctor talked to KB and really understood that these little things matter to the child.

BTW - I am writing all this so I don't forget about it all - I don't mean to bore you all with fine details. I am assuming people will skip over to read the gist if they do read this post! I want to write about the other two moms and the coincidental meeting with two other parents at Party city...but I am too sleepy now to continue. Hope to write about that in the next post.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The little soldier...

I wanted to write about this whole experience for different reasons. One, writing helps me feel a tiny bit lighter. Two, I wanted to remember how KB reacted to this whole thing and how he amazed me with this mental fortitude in just accepting things as is and truly going forward instead of looking back and moping about how and why he has to go through all this. The kind of resilience you always knew kids had but when seeing it first hand, it really amazes you. Three, I wanted to remember the strength of the other two moms I met there and wanted to write about it for me and all of us to be inspired by and draw strength from to face our own little problems.

Back to the "brave young man" and "little soldier", titles KB truly earned from the nurse who treated him in the ER and also in the recovery room after the surgery. When they took him to take some "pictures" of his hand, KB told me "Amma, X-ray yedukka poraa maa" and the nurse was taken aback by how cool he was about it. He was fascinated by all that was happening around him in the ER. He did not cry while she took the X-rays, he just wanted me next to him, that's all. And while we waited for the doctor he told me, "Amma, I am looking at why every one here is wearing glasses" and then we spent some time looking at who were or were not wearing glasses. The nurse told him "You were so brave, how many stickers do you want?". Very innocently, he replied "Two". She said, "Only two? No. You were so brave, I want to give you five stickers". KB was thrilled and it was touching to see how he was still such a baby.

Before the surgery, they gave him "Versed" a medication used to reduce anxiety and also reduce their short term memory so they wouldn't remember exactly what happened at that instance. The nurse said he would act drunk almost 10 min after he drank it. But KB was fully alert even half an hour after they gave him the medication. I was very nervous because it was now 3.00 p.m. and I had to wheel him into the OR and hand him over to the surgeon. Thankfully he was in the stroller and I just wheeled him there and the nurse took over without him realizing it. It was heart breaking to hand him over and see him disappear behind the double doors. The nurse reassured me "We will take good care of him. We will put a mask on as soon as we go in and he will be asleep". I just prayed that he should be OK and everything should go smoothly. The surgeon had said it would take about an hour and half for the surgery. B immediately went back home to pick up KG and come back with her to the hospital.

My brother and I were waiting in the family room when I bumped into the other mom waiting there. Her older son was the same age as KB and was playing there. Her younger son, 16m old was in the OR while she was waiting there. I asked her what the problem was with her child. Very calmly she said to me "He keeps getting tumors in his eye orbit". My heart sank even hearing those words. Her strength just shook me. Here I was completely falling apart at the thought of KB undergoing surgery for a fractured elbow and here she was like a rock facing such horrors. I asked her, "How do you manage to be so strong?". She said, "Because I faced the worst when they made the diagnosis. But now I am strong because he has no one else. I have to be strong for him. We have been here so many times and each time after surgery, he bounces right back and starts playing his older brother. We are coming back here next week. They are going to take his eye out because if not they said he won't make it". It sent shivers down my spine to hear those words even. I felt as if God sent me to her in that family room to remind me that kids are strong and that I need to be strong for KB too. I felt so badly for that mom, I just wanted to hug her tight. I couldn't find words to describe how inspired I was by her calm strength and courage as a mother.

While driving to the ER, I was telling B that truly it was these moments when we are really parenting. Rest of the times, you feed the kids, they grow up. You sort of just coast along and go with the flow. It is during the moments of extreme highs and lows that you as a parent have to be the fulcrum and hold the child in place and give them the strength to be calm. And in the moments of lows like this one, you are truly tested. You have to bear the pain of seeing your child in pain, of not being in control of their destiny. Some of you wrote about the guilt I might feel. But strangely that is one thing I did not feel much of. Because I truly could not have prevented this unless I kept him in front of my eyes 24/7 without ever doing any other work. He was just sitting in his high chair after dinner chatitng with me while I was loading the dishwasher. As I bent down to load some dishes, I heard him scream in pain. He was getting down when he just slipped and fell awkwardly. From a height of may be 2 feet. It is like an adult tripping while walking. I just had no control over it. I did have very negative thoughts like, "It is my bad karma that is affecting him" etc etc. Truly speaking, I still have those kind of ridiculous thoughts , but what can I do about it. I have to accept that I cannot control every aspect of his destiny. This was the first stark reminder for me that I do no have control over my children's life beyond a certain point. Life just happens and my role is to be there for them no matter what. That is all I can do. And meeting that other mom and hearing her calm words, I realized what a responsibility that was. To be strong when your child is in pain. I have been fighting myself each time I feel pity for KB to see him do things with only one hand. I tell myself, if he is being strong and taking it in stride, it is quite ridiculous of me to feel sorry for him. Why me, why him...yes, I do feel that way. But I tell myself, there is much worse out there. At least God has granted me the mercy of a finite time of six weeks when his hand has to be in a cast and the hope of things being back to normal. Something so many others don't have. I am afraid to even dwell on that thought. I move on quickly to the mundane of every day life so I don't focus on any of this too much.

Will continue...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Things change in a split second

I never expected to start writing again. But when your heart feels heavy, you need to pour out. You want to question the unknown and rebuke destiny for how merciless it can be. And that sort of absurdness can only happen in your own space - your diary or in this case your own blog.

My dear little KB (who is now 3.5) fell off his high chair step on Tuesday (Feb 24) night around 9.00 p.m. He uses it just like a chair - it is more convenient for him to sit in it and reach up to the table to read his books while I give him dinner. He climbs in and out of it all the time quite comfortably. But that night he just slipped by chance and fell awkwardly and landed on his elbow. Because we have tiled hard floors in the dining area, the impact resulted in a fractured elbow. I could tell from the way he held his arm that it was serious. So immediately we rushed him to ER. He was so brave and so calm in the ER when they took X-rays and put his hand in a cast. The ER doctor made us wait for over an hour (at 12.00 a.m) while he waited to hear back from the orthopedist. Finally at 1.15 a.m or so he talked to us and said that the orthopedist was insistent that we take KB to a surgeon right the next morning. He said that KB might need surgery to put pins in his elbow to hold the displaced bones in place to make sure he does not suffer arthritis as a young adult. The moment the ER doctor uttered the word "surgery", I literally was fainting. I could not stand, just had to go and sit in the chair. I somehow gathered myself after a few seconds to continue the conversation.

B took Wednesday off and I spent all morning trying to get a referral and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. I hardly slept because I kept worrying and praying that the surgeon should not look at the x-rays and say that he needs surgery. But sadly that is what happened. He said KB needs to have surgery on Friday (Feb 27) at 3.00 p.m. By then I had cried so much at night etc when KB wasn't seeing me that I was mentally prepared for it. The thought of general anesthesia scared me to no end but I had no choice but to face it. The surgeon was kind enough to squeeze in KB's surgery at a short notice but then he could only do it at 3.00 p.m. Because it had to be done under general anesthesia, I was not allowed to give him any solids from 7.00 a.m. And not even water after 1.00 p.m. I was worried sick as to how I could refuse breakfast and lunch and hold on till 3.00 p.m. But sometimes even in bad times a few crumbs of good luck get thrown your way. KB being the angel that he is, also helped me out so much. His perception of my emotions stuns me at times. Very unusually on Thursday, he woke up from his nap three times and said "Mamma, I love you". And that night he said to me just when he was about to fall asleep "Mamma, I love you the most". I made him take his afternoon nap late and made him go to bed only at 11.30 p.m. My brother flew in to be of moral support to me and I waited him to come before taking KB to bed.

The next morning, I gave KB 8oz of pediasure at 6.30 a.m and then made him go back to bed. Strangely he woke up only at 9.00 a.m. though he usually wakes up by 7.00 a.m. every morning. KG on the other hand woke up very early so I took her to my neighbor's place and made her take her afternoon nap there while we took KB to the hospital. After KB woke up, I gave him a bath very carefully without getting his cast wet. I had to cut a long sleeve shirt to be able to put his sleeve through the cast. Around 10.30 a.m. I gave him 4oz of Motts' juice. The surgeon had told me to keep even the clear liquids to a minimum. I was so paranoid that he should not have a reflux reaction to the anesthesia so I tried to be very strict about keeping the clear fluids also to a minimum. KB was so calm and so mature, not once he asked me for his morning milk or cereal or even for water. I had prepped him the previous night as to what I would give him and he somehow accepted it and did not give me a hard time. We got into the car around 12.30 pm in order to check in at the hospital at 1.00 p.m. The patient interview etc lasted for an hour. We then went into the short stay unit (SSU 4) and there they checked his weight/pulse etc. KB has been playing a lot with his doctor kit so he was quite enjoying the whole scene there. He wore his plastic doctor's glasses while we went into the hospital. A surgeon who was passing by as we entered said to KB, "Those glasses look cool man! Do you want to see my glasses?" and he had a cool magnetic pair that would come apart in the middle and hang around his neck which he showed to KB. KB immediately turned to me and said "I want magnetic glasses too Mamma"!".

To be continued...