Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 in Pix (Part 2)

And so they grow... so, so fast. What a year it's been! Raina learned how to become a big sister; Rohan left his babyhood behind. All's that left are the memories.

P.S. Happy New 2009 to my fellow bloggers! Wish everyone a joyful, lively year ahead!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weaning Day

I've been so bad about blogging Rohan's milestones. Other than his 6-month 'birthday' and his first birthday, I've written little about him. But today is a special day and an extra special milestone for both him and his mom. Today's the first day Rohan went 24 hours without breastmilk.

So yup, the little man's weaned. Almost eight months after I thought to wean him. But it's done, without any fuss or muss.

The weaning actually began 3 months ago, when I started giving him formula in a sippy cup. Slowly but surely, the quantity of formula went up; consequently, the breastmilk started slowing down. At that point, I was nursing Rohan 5 times a day. Then about 45 days ago, I decided to quit nursing him to sleep for his morning and afternoon naps. I substituted nursing with books and a song, some gentle rocking. After lots of tears on both sides, he began adjusting to his new routine. Now he loves his books and gets so excited when it gets to be naptime! I know, the excitement defeats the purpose, but he does calm down quickly enough.

Next to go was his nursing session first thing in the morning. He wouldn't take the sippy, being still cranky, so I just began to pick him up from the crib and take him downstairs. There, watching the Christmas tree lights, Rohan drinks his milk.

Then tonight. It was not the day I would have chosen. We were buying a rug for the house, so were out till past his bedtime. So his routine of bath-then-bed was messed up. But I thought I would give it a try. I put him in his comfy blanket sleeper, out came the favorite books, then the song and rocking. When the time came, I put him down, kissed him good night, turned off the light and walked out of the room. Outside, I waited breathlessly for the tears I knew would come.

They didn't.

It's over.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What They Hate About Mumbai

Whether you agree with Suketu Mehta or not, this is an interesting op-ed piece in the NYTimes. Check it out:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai Madness

I watched the black smoke billowing from the topmost dome of the Old Taj Hotel in Mumbai beseiged by terrorists armed with AK47s and grenades, filled with heaven knows how many terrified people. And while watching that image on TV, I was assailed by memories of laughter and color, of wedding receptions attended in the ballrooms, a Rotaract dance where I fluttered my hands like a Hawaiian, Wimbledon soirees. The Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant, the destination of so many birthday celebrations and special events, sometimes a restaurant taken to as a special treat after much coaxing. My brother and I would order our food, then slip out, a 100-rupee note clutching our hands, to the Nalanda bookstore, where we would buy a book each after much browsing.
Now the restaurant was the temporary home of a family friend, hiding underneath the table, the lights off, the doors barricaded. He was one of the lucky ones to slip away through the kitchen.
Next the TV images moved to the Oberoi hotel surrounded by commandos, the hotel where I, a college-goer with too much time on my hands, would hang out with my friends at the shopping arcade, looking at shoes, eyebrows shooting up at the prices. The Oberoi, home to a restaurant where I celebrated my 21st birthday with my parents dressed in my first chiffon saree, a bright shade of red. I ate caviar for the first time and drank champagne and got utterly toasted to the amusement of my family. My dad tells me that a lawyer he knew was lined up against that restaurant wall and shot.
The Leopold Cafe, only next to Mondegar's in my affection, with its good food, beer and upstairs dance floor, was where at one time my college friends and I saw the model Ranjeev Mulchandani and giggled endlessly. The walls are riddled with bullets I hear, but Leopold's actually opened its doors again today.
And throughout the 24-hour CNN coverage, I hear the TV host say again and again, "Mumbai has been brought to its knees." And I shake my head angrily and think no. He doesn't know my Mumbai.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Now, if I had one of those vanity license plates that adorn almost every car in Southern California, it'd probably say something like above. If it wasn't taken already, i.e. All the fun ones usually are. So if one's going to go through the completely unnecessary expense of having one, it might be worthwhile to really rack the brain and get some creative juice flowing. It should have a point, right? If in these economic times, one decides that a vanity plate is a luxury one can't do without, surely it's worth some effort? Better yet, one can pay someone to come up with something zany, thereby creating jobs and providing that much needed boost the economy needs. Better than a taxpayer bailout. Must write to Obama.

Anyhoo, before I digress any further, the reason why I'm writing about this:

So I was dropping Raina off to preschool this morning and there's this car before me. Really nice black BMW SUV, if you like SUVs that is. Which I don't, but that's neither here nor there. And this really nice BMW had this Arizona vanity plate that read VERYHOT. Really? Now what exactly is really hot? Is it the car (which I may have already mentioned is really nice)? Or the driver? The occupants? Or is it just a reference to the Arizona weather? I've heard it's hot in Arizona. Very hot.

So dude, if you're reading this, a word of advice: If you're going to spend money on a vanity plate, surely you can talk about something more interesting than the weather. Right now, all your vanity plate says about you is that you're dull. Boring. A vanity plate is a good accessory, so make sure it's a clear style statement about you. Coz it's all about you and your vanity, don't you know?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


"What the heck?!" exclaimed Raina in disgust.
"Wha?" I looked at her shocked. "Little girls aren't supposed to say, 'What the heck'!"
"What can I say then?" my 4-year-old asked.
"Well, you already say, 'Oh my gosh!' That works fine," I explain.
"No, I like to say, 'Oh my god!' instead," she said. "Because I have 2 gods. One god is on my pillow and I have a god thing in my room."
(Note: She has a pillow on her bed that she hugs that has the picture of Ram. A statue of Krishna and Radha is on her nightstand.)
"But God is in my heart too," she continues.
"God is everywhere," I begin, a litany she's familiar with. God's everywhere, he's in you, you are God, etc.
"Yes!" she interrupts. "He's in my brain and in my eyes. The brain has lots of buttons in it, and I have 2 God buttons in it."
"Yeah," I say slowly. "OK then."
Glad we got that squared away.

We often argue about how many kids she should have when she grows up. She wants 10. I firmly shake my head. We bargain a bit, and now we're down to 2 kids. The reason I claim to have any say in the matter is because she vows to live with us forever. She's never getting married, she's decided. If she does, her husband will also stay with us. But she wants to be a mom for sure. "Being a mom is such fun," she told me this evening. "I can't wait to be a mom!"
"It's a lot of work," I correct. "It's fun but a lot of work."
"I want to do that when I grow up," she said. "I want to do what you do."
"Well, it's important to be more than a mom," I said, visions of teenage pregnancy flitting through my head. "It's important to study, so you can earn money, and when your kids are in school, maybe you would want to go back to work."
Is it any wonder I'm braindead by the end of the day?

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Catch-All Post

OK, a quick review of what's happened in the past month:

1. Obama's leading in all the battleground states, which tells me that he's going to be declared US president fairly early tomorrow evening. Here's keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for him.

2. My parents came. My parents left. Barring a few issues, a good time was had by all.

3. Rohan turned 1. Yes!!!! My little boy is officially one whole year old! And for all those folks who're going to say, oh time's just flown, let me tell you, that has not happened for me. It's been a heckuva long year. I enjoyed his babyhood as much as I could, but I'm glad to see it go. I know, weird me. I'll probably look back on these days with nostalgia, starting when he's a teenager and demanding more money, more clothes and the nice car to take out for a drive. (And the answer to all that is "NO!" Gotta start rehearsing now.)

Not that Rohan's not giving me many opportunities to say "NO!" to him already. He's into everything that he shouldn't be. Electric outlets beckon to him. Door stoppers make inviting twanging noises. Electric cords lure him to chew them. Floor fans are just begging to be poked at. I know he's going to start opening all the kitchen drawers next and dumping stuff out.

As a result, all the housework is half-finished, abandoned in yet another race to get to him before he seriously hurts himself. Of course, he gets hurt all the time. He has black and blue bruises on his forehead today from falling once again while attempting to cruise between his activity table and thin air. Dude, you can't walk by yourself yet. But you get points for trying. Again and again.

He still doesn't weigh much. He's in the 5th percentile for weight, in fact. But short of force-feeding him, there isn't much I can do about that. And yep, he's still nursing, so maybe that's not helping the weight gain any. He does drink some whole milk, though, so the weaning process has begun.

Today he began pointing at everything and saying "Da?" He wants to know the names for everything. I love this age when they're just starting to talk. I can't wait to see what his first word will be. Raina's was "light." Not Ma, not Dad. So let's see what her baby brother comes up with. You can be sure I'll blog about it!

In the meantime, here are some pix of Mr. I'm Now One Year Old! Woohoo!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Men Cheat

So I was reading this interesting story on Yahoo! or someplace about "why men are unfaithful." According to the counselor who conducted some kind of study on unfaithful men, the number one reason why men cheat on their wives is, hold your breath, under-appreciation. Apparently men have a tremendous need to win, and if they feel that they are not "winning" in a relationship, they start to withdraw from their spouse.

So gee, on top of all the number of times we have to say "thank you" just because our husband deigns to put his dish in the sink, we have to figure out other ways to show our appreciation so that he doesn't stray!

OK, I can't complain. My husband not only puts his dishes in the sink, but washes them, loads the dishwasher, wipes down the kitchen counters and swiffers the floor. And I do appreciate it. I do. I am very vocal about my appreciation too. Is the compliment returned? Umm, not so often. In fact, getting a compliment from the husband's a lot like extracting teeth -- a painful experience.

Does that mean I am going to get down and dirty with somebody at the nearest motel? I don't think so! Sounds like an excuse to me.

On the other hand, everyone appreciates being appreciated, right? Cee Kay was ranting in a recent post about a similar thing. The double standard where the husband is praised to the skies by parents, in-laws, etc. for doing work around the house. But the lady of the house can't do enough for her family to be similarly praised. Even the husband, the person who one would think would be supremely aware of what his wife does to keep the family functioning in a well-oiled fashion -- even he seems to take all that work for granted.

It would be so nice to be appreciated by our spouses. Just once in a while. Just a few words is all it takes to make my day. To make all the cooking, cleaning, feeding feel less like chores and more like one's making a difference. Even when people KNOW that they're doing mundane stuff that needs to be done. Just because everyone has to do it, should it be any less of a big deal?

The counselor in the news story had some useful stuff to say too: about how it's important for a husband and wife to shut off the TV and the "Crackberrys" and communicate for about 45 minutes at least 4 times a week. I know if I don't "download" my day to P, I feel dissatisfied. Like I haven't completely de-stressed. And TV, email, blogging (!), cell phones all cut into the time I have with him.

So shut down the electricity and light some candles, people! Maybe we can then have a heart-to-heart about our MUTUAL need for appreciation.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Got Game?

Pikey The Cat aka Non-Official Lucky Mascot of the Ohio State Football Team is gearing up for the big game tonight against USC...

As you can see here, she's attempting to escape the firm clasp of a determined little player to score the winning touchdown. Trounce the Trojans, Pikey, ummm, Buckeyes! Beanie or no Beanie, Sloopy will hang on...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Palin In Comparison

American women wanted Hillary Clinton in the White House -- but since they can't have her, they'll settle for the next best thing, Sarah Palin.
If the political pundits are to be believed, that's why Republican presidential hopeful John McCain chose the completely unknown glam queen (she was a runner up for Miss Alaska) as running mate -- hoping to cop the votes of those women feeling disenfranchised after Clinton failed to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
My first thought when I read that was "What the heck was he thinking?" I mean, it's laughable, right?
On the one hand you have (or don't have, as the case turned out) Hillary, strongly intelligent, pro-choice, as experienced in world politics as, well, Bill, with a hefty 8 years under her belt as U.S. senator and ummm, a Democrat.
On the other, you have Sarah, no doubt intelligent (but how do we know that?), anti-abortion, a gun owner (has anyone seen that picture of her proudly posing with that moose she killed?), experienced in world politics because "Alaska is the closest to Russia," courtesy Cindy McCain (who could be First Dumb Blonde Lady -- let's not even go there), experienced to help lead a nation of 250 million because her longest political stint has been as mayor of a town of 7,000 people (though she's been governor now for less than 2 years) and ummm, a Republican.
Sound like twins, don't they?
McCain obviously thinks so. He thinks women either don't care or don't have the requisite intelligence to understand that all Clinton and Palin share is gender. That just because Palin is a woman, Hillary supporters will rally around her, catapulting McCain to the White House. And once there, Palin will just... fade away into the background, letting the man lead. Like she herself said, what does a vice president do anyway?
If Palin ever became vice president, it would be one small step for woman, one giant leap backward for womankind.
So what's the American woman to do? Vote for Obama, I say.
Wish I could.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thankee, thankee!

Got this bling from Mamma Mia! Me A Mamma? ( Thanks, Mamma Mia! I am not worthy, etc., but I am truly gratified! You know, I started this blog just for me. Although I'd been a reporter, I was so burnt out I couldn't write about stuff that mattered to me anymore. This blog was an attempt to regain my ability to put my thoughts down. But the true inspiration was Raina.

After her birth, there was just so much about her that I wanted to record. And that spurred me to sit before the computer and blog about Raising Raina. But once I started, it seemed that there was so much I wanted to say, after all. And this blog became more than notes for posterity. It became a journal.

When other folks began to read it and comment on it, I was amazed. This was so much more fun than merely a journal! My blog's now a kind of sharing of thoughts and life incidents with actual, real, live people! And I get to share in their lives too! Sounds an awful lot like friendship to me -- even though I've read that what people blog is not really who they are, that we just see the face they want to portray. Well, who's to say that what they portray is not who they really are? And how do we know who people really are, even when we do meet them face-to-face?

What I'm saying is, this works for me.

OK, now on to passing this wonderful award to some truly deserving folks. Because that's what the rules say. Got to pass it on to 7 more. Most of these folks have already received this award multiple times, but what the heck. Surely they don't get tired of hearing how brilliant their writing is? They are all on my blogroll.

1. Eve's Lungs. For her astute observations.

2. Dipali's Of This and That. For her thoughtful words which transform the everyday to the extraordinary.

3. Terri's Tails. For showing us the world through an ABCDog's humorous eyes.

4. Anamika's Thinking Cramps. For painting pictures through her words.

5, 6, 7, 8, 9. For Cee Kay and Choxbox, Mad Momma, Mystic and CrazyMumma for sharing their own wonderful experience of mommyhood -- including the zillion gaffes we make -- with honesty and humor.

All you ladies are so inspiring! Go forth and pass on the award to blogs that inspire you. The rules are below:

This award is for blogs whose content and/or design are brilliant as well as creative.
The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then we pass it on!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pressing the Panic Button

"Mommy, how do babies get inside mommies' bellies?"
Dang. Thought I'd been prepared for this. But of course, come crunch time, all I'd carefully researched and rehearsed about explaining the birds and the bees in a manner calculated to satisfy the most exacting little kid seemed to have evaporated leaving a big blank in its place.
"Umm," I murmured, desperately playing for time, while racking the grey cells for something. Anything that didn't include the hardware that acts in the reproduction process.
"When mommies and daddies love each other, they make babies," I said, sounding lame even to me.
"How?" asked my scientifically minded 4-year-old.
"Well, when they get married..." I said, digging a deeper hole for myself.
"But HOW?"
Finally I muttered something about thinking about it and getting back to her.
I turn to you, my friends. I know some of you have blogged about this in the past. If so, could you please send me the link? Anyone struck with inspiration can advise. Just don't tell me to tell her like it is. I believe in being as matter-of-fact as possible with Raina, except where human reproduction is concerned. I think she's too small to know what goes where and what actually happens.
There's got to be books about explaining this.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's Time for... More Rainisms!

"Mommy, did you know that dinosaurs are in-sting?"
With visions of bees and dinosaurs running in my head, I said what I say often these days when listening to Raina: "Huh?"
"Yes, they are all dead!" piped R.
"Ah! Extinct!" intelligence belatedly dawned.
"Do you know, Mommy, when I discover a dinosaur in the backyard, what I am going to call it?"
"What are you going to call it, Raina?" I asked obligingly.
"Huh?" says this very duh mama.
"Yes, because T-rex and Triceratops are already there -- and they're all dead! Mine is going to be a new one, so it's going to be called Rainatops."
"Why not Rainasaurus?" asked her dad.
"OK, the next one I find in the backyard, I'll call Rainasaurus," Raina assured him.

Lately, Raina's been pretty preoccupied by thoughts of death and marriage.
Yesterday, when tucked in bed for the night, she said out of the blue, "Mommy, when people die, do they all die as a family?"
"Well," said Mommy, reluctantly engaging her fatigued brain into gear, "not necessarily. Sometimes, mommies or daddies die, sometimes kids die."
"But if everyone died, I'd be so sad!" R said, her voice beginning to break. "I would be alone and I would sit on the couch and cry and cry because everyone would be dead and I won't be able to marry anybody!"
"Well, I am sure not everyone would die at the same time. You'll find some man to marry."
"I don't want to marry a man! All men are already married!"
"Not all men are married. Your Uncle Mikey's not married."
"Uncle Mikey doesn't want to marry. That's why he's not married. OK, name three men who are not married."
"Huh?" said Mommy, ready to crawl under Raina's comforter and pass out herself. "OK, let me think."
Long pause while Mommy thinks. She can't believe how few single men she knows these days. Then she names three men.
Comforted, R goes to sleep with a big smile on her face.

P.S. Folks, this is post #101!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nine Months of Rohan

The boy has officially spent as much time outside the belly as within. So...

He can drink other than breastmilk.

He can eat solids.

And he can partyyyy!

Happy 9 months, Rohan!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jingle Rock

So I was taking a bath this morning, and when I was squeezing out some green liquid soap, a jingle I'd heard about gazillion times on TV when I was a kid came unbidden to my mind. It goes something like this:

"How about a Minty, when you are having fun?
How about a Minty, when you are in the sun?
How about a Minty, just to pass the day?
Just have a Minty, and let it make your day.
Minty! Minty! Minty! Minty! NP Minty!"

Or at least that's how I remember it.

Then later on when I was giving Raina a bath, I came up with another one:

"Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!
Add something special to an ordinary day!"

I used to make my mom get that kiddie soap for me, just because of that commercial.

The memories got me racking my brains for all the jingles I remembered hearing in the bygone years. And boy, there were lots. Lots and lots. I can't seem to get them out of my mind now. So I'm planning to pass on the jingle-bug by mentioning a few.

My all-time favorite jingle:

"We're all in it together for the fun of it
For the taste of it.
Campa Orange flavor
Adds the flavor of fun!"

I remember watching that commercial wistfully. The kids in it seemed to be having such a blast. And hey, that clown, doesn't he remind you now of Ronald McDonald?

Favorite jingle with celebrity:

"Kapil Dev. The tough cricketer with the tough beard. He uses Palmolive Shaving Cream with SGL4.
Kapil Dev: 'Palmolive da jawab nahin!'"

Jingle when heard stays in your head for the rest of the day:

"Marlex pressure cooker. Khana jaldi pakaye, kaisi seeti bajaye.
Marlex! Marlex pressure cooker!"

Most annoying jingle:

It's the Hawkins pressure cooker one. Hands down. Can't recall the exact words, but I still remember Neena Gupta mouthing, "Hawkeenz! Hawkeenz! Hawkeenz!" at the end. Horrible.

Jingle that got the most adolescentish guffaws:

"Jo OK sabun se nhaiye, kamal sa khil jaaye..." with the clincher : "Kaafi bada hai."
That one still makes me scream with laughter.

What jingles from those 'golden years' can you recall?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

C'est Moi

As if everyone didn't know enough about me, Eve's Lungs has tagged me to tell you more! And since I was one of those teenagers who wrote pages and pages about myself in friends' opinion books, I'm dishing it out here. Enjoy... or beware!

I am: a good listener.
I think: way too much and act way too little.
I know: that I am changing every day in every way -- and some changes I don't love.
I want: a life well lived.
I have: nothing. Trying to be less possessive about people and things.
I wish: my kids will be all they can be.
I hate: to schmooze. So I don't do it.
I miss: Bombay. My parents. My brother. My friends.
I fear: for my kids. The world can be an evil place.
I feel: Raina's ribs. That girl is too thin.
I hear: Rohan crying... even when he's not. :(
I smell: the cool evening air, presently.
I crave: chocolate.
I search: for the next step I want my life to take.
I wonder: how Pikey The Cat can sleep all day and night.
I regret: not going into the science field.
I love: people-watching in cafes with P.
I ache: when I see a news article on a missing child.
I care: about planet earth.
I am not: a domestic diva.
I believe: in the healing power of cuddles.
I dance: with Raina and Rohan.
I sing: in my car all the time. Loudly.
I cry: when I'm sick and hurting.
I don’t always: go out of my way for people.
I fight: when I am angry.
I write: because I love words.
I win: fair and square. I hate cheating.
I lose: with a smile and a shrug.
I never: lose hope.
I always: live and let live.
I confuse: my relatives. They just can't peg me.
I listen: to Raina's talks, Rohan's babbles and P's day at work.
I can usually be found: in the library. OK, that was before I had kids.
I am scared: that the worst is yet to come.
I need: my books.
I am happy about: my decision to have two kids.

I pass this on to Anamika, Rads, Cee Kay and Sraikh (

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Tag for Bookworms

I am such a geek. For days now, I've composed blog posts in my head while nursing Rohan to sleep. Prose that was, of course, brimming with wit and insight. But nothing short of a kick in the derriere would cure me of this inertia to sit before a computer and actually type. Or so I thought, until Anamika tagged me (

Anamika, you got me pegged. A tag on books and I'm typing furiously before you can say, "What a lazy lying bum!" This one's so much fun!

OK, the rules:

Pick up the nearest book.
Open to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the next three sentences.
Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you .

So I grabbed "The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices" by Xinran, which I am presently re-reading. When I read it for the first time, I was depressed for days. Never thought I would read it again. But I'm fresh out of reading material, so yesterday I reluctantly picked it up. Glad I did, for now I'm looking beyond the shock and horror of the true-life accounts in this book and really thinking about this China we don't know.

OK, Page 123, Fifth sentence. Here goes:

"My grandfather was already over seventy when he was imprisoned. He survived his ordeal with an astoundingly strong will. The Red Guards spat or blew their noses into the coarse food and weak tea they brought to their prisoners. An old man who shared a cell with my grandfather died of grief, anger and shame at this treatment, but my grandfather kept a smile on his face. He removed the mucus and spit and ate everything that could be eaten."

I didn't stop at three sentences because it wouldn't make sense. And it's interesting that although the entire book is about the voices and lives of Chinese women, the above lines deal with a man. So although they aren't representative of the content, you may get some idea about the style of the writer (a Chinese journalist, who's a woman).

Thanks for tagging me, Anamika! And I pass this on to Terri's mom (, Amodini (, Cee Kay (, Mystic ( and Rads (!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And the Half-Pint Fashionista Turns Four!

Pictured with birthday cake featuring her favorite Dora, buddy Boots and that dang Swiper, the sneaky fox, Ms. R completes 4 years. We celebrated her birthday a week early at an indoor playground she loves with roller coasters, swings, slides, bouncy houses, play kitchens. The location was a little on the expensive side, but it sure was wonderful to walk in just with cake and R's favorite chicken nuggets and not have to worry about entertaining 18 (gasp!) kids. Plus, no clean up! Most important of all, the birthday girl had a blast.

Happy birthday, my sweet!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Raina's First Couplet

So we were sitting down to lunch today and Raina, no doubt inspired by the food on her plate, came up with the following poem:

"Pee and poop are good for you
They tend to come when they want to."

Amen to that.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Six Months, Rohan!

It's been topsy and turvy, crazy and funny, but I can hardly believe our little boy is 6 months old already! He laughs loudly, grins broadly, with the biggest, largest smiles gifted to his big sister. He loves the silly nonsense she talks to him, grabs her hair and grins when she winces.

Other 6-month notes:

He can roll back -- sometimes -- but not roll over yet, in direct contrast to Raina, who learned to roll over, then cried because she couldn't figure out how to roll back. He can sit if propped up. No signs of crawling yet.

At 14 lbs. 6 oz, he's getting close to the weight Raina was at 4 months, so although he's as tall as she was, he's wayyyyy thinner. In fact, his weight has caused us some anxiety, as he was 14 lbs. for at least a month. We tried upping it by introducing rice cereal -- a disaster so far. Rice seems to constipate him incredibly. Then I tried holding off on solids and beginning the process of weaning him. He took one 2 oz. bottle twice, and that was it. The poor thing got super gassy and bloated. Thinking the type of bottle I was using was making him gassy (Avent), I tried the Playtex nurser with drop-in liners. He wasn't having any. It might be that he's lactose intolerant, so I've stopped eating dairy for now. And of course, given up weaning.

So net net, it's been a bumpy journey foodwise. In honor of his six month birthday, I gave him some sweet potatoes today and am keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Oh yeah, he's teething too. Everything within reach is grabbed and inserted into that drooly mouth, where it's chewed to satisfaction. He's trying to get his toes into his mouth these days. Should make for a fun meal.

Also after months of crying during baths, he giggles and coos in his baby bath tub and tries to hold on to the water spouting off the shower head. He laughs when I sing, "Row, row, row your boat" to him.

When outdoors, the world is stared at by a pair of big intent brown eyes. But no one can talk to him or deign to touch him. Not unless they want to be treated to a downturned mouth followed by loud bawling. The man has stranger anxiety already.

And finally, though he's on a more or less regular nap schedule now, he's not sleeping through the night yet. I've read message boards where moms proudly claim their babies sleep through the night at 5 weeks. I'm still waiting. Maybe in the next six months? Pretty please? Mommy would so love to sleep for longer than 4 hours at a time.

This evening, Rohan's going to his first beach party. Happy partying, sweetie, with many more to come!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Exercising Restraint

"Mommy, you want to see how I put lipstick?" asked my almost-4-going-on-almost-14-year-old, brandishing a tube of plastic lipstick in a lurid shade of red her best friend had generously gifted her.
Badly wanting to say, "Er, no," I sighed instead and said, "Sure." Raina carefully applied the plastic on her lips and smacked them. "Well, you can do it this way or the other way," she explained, now exhibiting a plastic lip brush, which she rubbed on the lipstick and then applied to her lips. Followed the action with that resounding smack.
"Mmmmm," I murmured, instead of the WTF? that was trembling on my lips.
This must be what those in the know refer to as a generation or cultural gap. More like a yawning chasm, I think, remembering my own childhood.
My earliest memory of makeup application is charged with tension and elation. I was 8 years old, standing before my mom's vanity mirror, applying her very real lipstick, terrified of the hand I know I would feel on my cheek were she to walk in unserendipitously, yet sharply conscious of the zing of doing something forbidden. I would dust some talcum powder to whiten my face, spritz on a little French perfume. Then I would scrub my face shiny and be back to being 8, dreaming of being 18 and allowed unimaginable freedoms.
The first time I was permitted to wear nailpolish was when I was 14. It was such a big deal because we were actually allowed to wear our grown and polished nails TO SCHOOL!
Fast forward to now, my daughter's already asking if she may have a pedicure like her best friend recently did. At my definite negative, she follows hopefully, "Maybe when I am 8?"
Oh my dear god.
P tells me that it's better this way: she can do the makeup thing earlier than me -- and put it behind her faster than I did. Maybe he's right, but I think my fear runs deeper than the idea that she may become one of those girly-girls who can't look beyond her powdered nose and perfectly manicured nails to think about an education, a career.
Maybe I'm just scared she's growing up too fast. As her experience widens, she learns things I can't control. She does things I don't like. It's scary as heck to see her test her wings. It's too soon, I want to yell. I want to put blinders on her so she can only see the good monsters like Ernie. And I want to hold on to her tight, so tight. I want to throw away that plastic lipstick and lip brush, so I don't see her use the real thing.
And with that, I suddenly realize. I'm becoming like my mother. My mother who still calls me "gudiya" (doll), who still talks to me like I'm a tiny tot instead of a mother of two tots, who just can't grasp her mind around the fact that I'm a grown woman.
Dang it.
As the one thing I promised myself since time immemorial was to not become like my mom, this nonsense has gotta stop. So I guess I'll continue to mutter sotto voce when my daughter dabs lip gloss that she received as a party favor. (A party favor for a 2-year-old girl's birthday!) Maybe my lack of enthusiasm will have a more beneficial effect on R than outright criticism. I can always hope.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

5 on 5

Got tagged over a month ago by Choxbox (thought I'd forgotten all about it, hadn't you?) and have a few minutes before I unload the dishwasher, wash the dishes I couldn't load in the dishwasher, dump clothes for laundry, send the cat out, comb my hair, put away some old clothes for AMVETS... all of which means that yeah, the baby's sleeping, Raina's in preschool and I can wallow luxuriously by the computer.

OK, here are the instructions:

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

If I gotta link 5, you folks are going to have to bear with a bunch of URLs as I STILL haven't figured out how to do the link thing on my IMac. Just sheer laziness. Oh wait, I have the mom of 2 small kids excuse to use! Yeah, baby sleeping, R preschool, got stuff to get done, need to add this to the list. OK, without further ado...

1. Family: Well, I write about Raina and Rohan all the time, but since I've been blogging for a couple of years now, I'm going to delve into the past and come up with a couple of priceless Rainisms --
And one on The Cat because she's my first kid:

2. Friends: Hmmm, more about me than my friends, but here they are:

3. Myself: Jeez, this blog's mostly about me in case you hadn't noticed. OK, again from the past:

4. My Love: Books! Here are a couple I enjoyed:

5. Finalement, since I'm to post links on Anything I Like, I choose philosophy and parenting! Yep, more about me and my mental makeup:

I think this tag's done the rounds, but if anyone feels like taking it up, feel free!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This Parenting Stuff

*Warning: Long, rambling, possibly scatter-brained post.

I am in the middle of re-reading "I Feel Bad About My Neck" -- a collection of essays by Nora Ephron. For those unfamiliar with Ephron, she wrote the screenplays of two of my favorite movies "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle" (which she also directed), as well as "You've Got Mail" -- Meg Ryan owes her career to Ephron. She's also the author of numerous funny, insightful books, other than this particular collection, which deals with being a woman "of a certain age."

So the reason I'm blogging about E is what she says in one of the essays "Parenting in 3 Stages." In this piece, she talks about how parenting seemed a fairly straightforward business, until the 1960s, when she had kids. Quoting here, "You can blame the women's movement for it -- one of the bedrock tenets of the women's movement was that because so many women were entering the workforce, men and women should share in the raising of children; thus the gender-neutral word 'parenting' and the necessity of elevating child rearing to something more than the endless hours of quantity time it actually consists of.

"Conversely, you can blame the backlash against the women's movement -- lots of women didn't feel like entering into the workforce (or even sharing the raising of children with their husbands), but they felt guilty about this, so they were compelled to elevate full-time parenthood to a sacrament."

She goes on to make her case with lots of examples, including "playing Mozart CDs while you were pregnant, doing without the epidural, and breast-feeding your child until it was old enough to unbutton your blouse." (! So funny!)

This brought to mind a struggle we women, educated, highly qualified mothers, are facing these days. Let me see if I can articulate my thoughts in some cohesive manner.

If you're a stay-at-home mom like moi, chances are you've patted yourself in the back often with a self-satisfied smug smile, because you've sacrificed your no-doubt high falutin' career for The Greater Good. We are martyrs, we are. Not like our own moms, who, let's face it, didn't HAVE a career and barely any education to sacrifice for The Cause. They were parents just because they didn't have anything better to do.

And if you're a working mom, chances are not a day goes by when you don't feel guilty about having a life that doesn't include your kids. So you struggle. You compromise. Maybe you work from home. Maybe you take a pay cut and work part-time. Or you just live with the guilt of Not Watching Your Children Grow or Not Being There For Them.

Where am I going with this? I really don't know. I'm sure I'm not saying this as well as I want to. What comes back to me is this friend I met at a party recently. She's a biologist, who's worked very, very hard for her Ph.D. She's spent a few years as a post-doc. And she's a mom of two kids. She'd just gone part-time and was feeling glum.

"Why is it always we women who have to make these choices?" she complained. "I'm thinking right now that there was no point in my studying so much if all I was going to do was stay at home with the kids. But I feel guilty for working -- I don't even remember my youngest son's childhood. I want to have it all."

I listened, nodding sympathetically. But I disagreed with her on several points. First, her argument that she might as well have done just a B.S. if all it boiled down to was "just" staying at home. I think any and all education enhances one's life experiences, colors beliefs, boosts self-confidence, even a sense of self. If you're rearing a child, you're passing all that wonderful stuff on, so this should be a no-brainer.

Second, I told her she needed to define what "all" was. She wanted to be a full-time professional pouring all her energy and dedication to her job, as well as a mom who was a constant presence in her kids' lives. Since she couldn't be in two places at one time, that was just not possible. So what did she mean by "all"? And by working part-time, hadn't she come as close as she could to having it all? Why not?

She had man-envy. Her husband didn't have to make that choice, she said. I didn't say anything then, but it did get me thinking. Our husbands don't "have it all" either. They aren't always physically there for their kids -- does that mean they care less? If not, where is their sense of guilt? Is the answer that our kids need moms more than they need their dads? Or that they just need one parent to be always physically there? At what point do they stop needing that constant presence?

My mom was always physically there for me -- she was there when I left for school, when I came home to lunch, when I did my homework, when I had my dinner (except for the weekends when she and my dad transmogrified into party animals, but that's another story). Despite all that, I was always closer to my dad.

So, to stay at home or not? If so, for how long? If not, why feel guilty?

The bottom line I think is for the mother to be happy, whatever she's chosen to do. If she's happy, the kids are happy. If she's happy, she has it all. Simplistic? Possibly. But heck, it works for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On A Lighter Note

Raina: "Mommy, I love you so, so much. I love you 49."
Me: "I love you 89."
R: "I love you 100."
Me: "I love you 1500."
R: "I love you 2900."
Me: "I love you 100,000."
R: [nonplussed, then lit up with inspiration] "Mommy, I love you ZERO!"


"Mommy, did hair fall from your head to your vagina?"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What Did You Do?

Rather unimaginative title, I know, but I am at my wits' end. So calling all you mommies out there... what did you do when your 3-month-old (or 6-month-old or 9-month-old) refused to take naps?

For the past week, Rohan seems to have decided that he's done with naps. He will NOT sleep. And if he does deign to fall asleep while nursing, he's going to wake up when I put him down on the bassinet. AND if he does not wake up then, he will wake up five minutes later. Or ten. But wake up he will. And start screaming like his mama's putting pins on him.

So I burp him. Or try to get him to pass gas. Or rock him. Or put him in the bouncer. Or talk to him. Or play with him. Few minutes of this, and the bawling starts all over again.

So I change his diaper. Coo. Take him for a walk in the stroller. Or the baby sling. Sing to him. Hum. Whatever, to get the job done. But it's no use.

It's gotten to the point that I've begun to doubt everything -- whether he's getting enough milk, whether I ate something that didn't agree with him, should I give him some formula, what? What is it I am doing wrong? And what should I do to fix it?

I went through something similar with Raina but it was when she was much older, and those were nightmare months of rocking and rocking and singing. And if she woke up, starting all over. Eventually, I just would let her cry herself to sleep. Because I knew she was tired and knew she needed to nap.

The good thing about this problem with Rohan is, come dusk, and he just drops off. He's gone for the night, or most of it anyway. But I am worried that if he continues to not nap during the day, it's eventually going to affect his night sleep.

So I turn to you, blogging mommies. WWYD?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Three Months Since

I knew life would change after Rohan's birth, not just for me, but for Raina, P and even Pikey The Cat. What I didn't know was HOW. Here are some hows:
1. Everyone tells you having two kids is double the work. And after having one child, every mom knows what's coming when she decides to go for a second one. So everyone tells you it's going to be hard, you know it's going to be hard, you prepare yourself mentally for it, you convince yourself you can deal with it, and when it actually happens... it's still SO DAMN HARD! Yesterday Rohan barely slept all day and was still up at 9 p.m. at night. After dealing with him and Raina the entire day, I was just ready to cry. So I did.
2. The past week has been especially bad as my in-laws left last Thursday for India. I miss them. My mother-in-law would cook everyday and ask me every morning what I felt like eating. My father-in-law did the laundry religiously. When Rohan was cranky and wouldn't sleep or eat, they would accept him gladly. Mummy would coo him to sleep in the bouncer; Papa would carry him on his shoulder and talk to him. When Raina was feeling housebound, Papa would take her with him for his walk to the park. When I couldn't watch the Hanuman movie with her (Raina's latest craze), Raina would cuddle with her Dadiji. Children grow so much easier in a joint family.
3. But I also realized that living in a joint family is not for me. Eventually, I need my space. But that space comes at a price.
4. And presently, that price is having Rohan attached to me like a temporary extra limb, while Raina hovers restlessly around, being constantly shushed by me.
5. The past week has also made me realize that while I'm trying too hard to be the perfect mom for a 3-month-old, I'm trying too less to be the perfect mom for an almost-4-year-old. Am trying to dig up the patience to be a good mom to both, versus a perfect mom to none.
6. Raina LOVES Rohan; she's constantly around him, kissing him, reading to him, singing songs, talking baby talk. She wants to swing him, she wants to cuddle with him on his activity mat. And instead of appreciating it, I'm always telling her to watch out, not so hard, not so loud, be careful, he doesn't like that, don't put that on top of him, be careful, BE CAREFUL! I can't seem to stop myself, even though each time I tell her that, her face falls.
7. While Raina's an angel with the baby, she's being the devil with P and me. Hardly surprising considering the above. Two days ago, she threw a screaming tantrum absolutely refusing to go to bed. I have never heard her scream that way. It wasn't because she was scared to sleep in the dark because she started by smiling at me with a "What are you going to do now?" look on her face. She went to bed only after we threatened to put her in the garage -- and began carrying her there.
8. She's put a bunch of cream in her hair, fiddled with her medicines, refused to eat, created a mess around the house. During one afternoon nap, I found her in bed with about 20 baby wipes. The other day she was wearing three sets of underwear. Some of it's funny, some just scary. Most of it is designated to have me scream at her.
9. P and I are trying to step back from the scolding. I wish we wouldn't expect her to always be obedient and good.
10. Am also trying to get out of the house more often with her and the baby. But the weather's not been cooperating lately.

I tell myself things will get better. We three will get into a routine. Rohan will grow bigger and more independent of me. As he grows more independent, I'll grow more patient and Raina will act out less. The future will come as always, one day at a time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Playing Favorites

I've been fuming since yesterday and I know if I don't blog about what's bothering me, I will eventually start tearing my hair out. As I have just a few strands anyway (my hair's what is euphemistically called "fine"), they need protection. So here goes:

Yesterday, I was on the phone with my mom and the conversation went thusly --

Mom: "I got the picture that you sent of Raina and Rohan."
Me: "Finally! And?"
Mom (unenthusiastically) "It was nice. But" -- and here we have some enthusiasm -- "he's not as cute as our Raina. He doesn't give poses like she does, I am sorry. He looks like a gudda (doll in Hindi)."
Me (shocked and confused): "But why are you sorry? A gudda? That's a good thing, isn't it?"
Mom: "He has no expression on his face. Not like humaari Raina (our Raina)."
What? What?
Me: "Mom, how can you compare the two? Why can't you look at him just as a baby, not in comparison with Raina? Of course he's not like Raina -- he's Rohan!"
Mom: "Yes, yes. I am sorry, but..."

But what??? I just don't get this. First, the insensitivity of my own mother. The same mother who's always dramatically maintained how she NEVER MADE ANY DISTINCTION BETWEEN HER DAUGHTER AND HER SON. Even though, said son, besides being a precious male, was way cuter as a baby. How do you tell your daughter that one of her children isn't cute enough? A child who's not even three months old. Even if you're comparing that child to another of her children?
Second, why compare at all? I never got this comparison crap, and have always taken care not to compare Raina to other kids her age. Is it because my mom's heart isn't big enough to love two little kids equally?
I know favoritism exists. I've seen my mother blatantly favor Raina over my brother's little boy and I used to think it's because of the strained relationship that she has with her daughter-in-law. But now I know that's not the case. My mom -- and likely, my dad -- have just got it in their heads that they're fond only of little girls. They just don't like boys. It's senseless, especially when you think how rarely they get to see their son's only child. And they haven't even seen my little boy -- and have pronounced judgment.

I think part of the reaction also stems from jealousy. My mom was with me when Raina was born -- and stayed until she was 4 months old. This time, my in-laws are here -- and my mom, seeing all the pictures of Raina and Rohan with their Dadiji and Dadaji, has been bitten by the green-eyed monster.

Whatever the reasons, her comments really hurt my feelings. Here I was eagerly looking forward to telling her how Rohan laughed two days ago for the very first time! How he looked so cute right after his bath with his blue towel wrapped around him, all clean and warm and happy. How he smiles right in the middle of a feeding as if he's having a blast. And I'd wanted to share with her how gassy he'd been lately. How he hadn't been sleeping all day. How tired I was and how tiresome he sometimes seemed.

At least my mom's comments cured my frustration with Rohan. But I saw myself looking at him differently, hating it, but doing it anyway. Maybe, objectively speaking, he isn't as cute as Raina was as a baby. If that's true, to hell with objectivity.