Reading Time

To be frank, I didn’t think I would get to writing a reading post this soon in the year. I did make a new year resolution to read a book every month. And I utterly failed it when I didn’t open a book in January, at all. Well, in my defense, I spent my time this month getting our loft ready to be a reading room. Moved in a cozy couch, made the book canvases, decorated the walls, bought new curtains etc. See I laid the foundation, set the room ambience right for the rest of the year’s reading. So, I can  consider that I did work towards my goal, right?

Okay. Even if not, I got super awesome at reading and finished two books in February. True. Okay. I cheated a bit. I bought the Game of Thrones book set at Ash’s recommendation last year. I was so excited about getting into the habit of reading books again, so I thought buying the whole set would force me. I started reading the book, few pages into it and few days later, kids would get sick and give me sleepless and exhausted nights. I took time to go back to reading the book, but I was reading the same pages again and again. Either because I forgot that I already read it (I know, that’s what bookmarks are for. But I don’t have one.) or I forgot the story totally and had to remind myself of what happened. Anyway. couple of days later, I gave up again and the book set had been gathering dust. Until I got my new awesome loft turned reading room, that is.

I picked up the book again in February, to give it a proper finish and resumed reading it. This time I was able to focus much better (because of the awesome ambience I set, of course 😉 ) and finished the first one. I really did like the book. Oh boy! Was it detailed. But I didn’t feel any of the details were boring. Sometimes, when I read books, I skip sections here and there, and still not miss a thing. This wasn’t one of those. Despite being scared of the size (800 pages, small print), I did enjoy the fat book very much. I almost exclaimed in joy when something came alive at the ending. I was really hoping for that to happen. 🙂 I cant wait to get back to reading the series again. I have the book handy, but I decided to take a break and read something else.

Next, I wanted to read something I was a fan of. As in, mysteries, action, thriller, sci-fi etc. Luckily got my hands on Catching Fire. Last part of the Hunger games series. I deliberately picked a large print book and guess what, after reading game of thrones, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped for. Firstly, I felt the book was too thin. (500 pages, large print 🙂 ). I guess reading too much detailed version of the story in Game Of Thrones, just ruined my book reading experience. Now, I expect all the books to be this detailed. 🙂 Anyway, I also didn’t like it that the story was told from Katniss’s perspective. I think if it wasn’t this way, there would have been much scope for elaborating on the story. I also didn’t like the focus on reality TV filming. I know it’s the core part of the story, but the movie did a better job in focusing on it indirectly than the book. Overall, it was still a good story and I am so waiting for the movie. 🙂

This year, one of my reading goals was not just to read a book, but also read different variety. So, for March, I picked a genre that I usually don’t read. That is a book that is neither a mystery nor a thriller nor sci-fi action. The last one I read was “A time travelers Wife” and I dragged on reading it forever. I finished it finally. But didn’t enjoy it very much. This time, I picked “Little Women” and did I love it!!! Wow. I think this is one of my favorite books now. It started out simple. First I had trouble connecting to the story knowing that it wasn’t the style I usually read. But soon I was hooked. So much that, one of the last weekends, it was so raining here and I spent the weekend reading the book. Which is usually quite impossible for me, given the kids and the work. I just couldn’t get out of the mood. I was feeling happy. It was so soothing to read this story.  I have to say I was in such good mood as long as I was reading the story of the four sisters. It was so nice to be reminded of what the most important things in life are. Even though we know it already, even though we were told this kind of thing so many times already, the way this story was told was just so simple and still, amazing. I think I would go back and read this book all over again some day.

But, I have to say, as wonderful as this book was, it was also heartbreaking at a point. This is one of the reasons I don’t prefer reading these kind of books. Because when something sad happens in the book, it just feels like it happened to us. I take it so personally. One such thing happened in this book as well, and I still am not at peace about that. There I was, reading the book non-stop and when I knew this incident was going to happen, I put the book away and didn’t touch it for a week. I just couldn’t read it. How could I? The chapter was titled ‘Heartbroken’. I sure was too.

I did anyway finish the book and I am glad I did. It was a wonderful book to not finish it. This is definitely going to our collection we are building for kids.

So, there it is. Three books in three months (kind of). Hurray for me. 🙂

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Rattle Snake Ridge

Better weather has dawned on us. Well, almost; For most of the days. Hmm. Few days, keep sucking again. Alright. Alright. We had few good days. That’s all. Happy? Our weather sucks. I admit.

Anyhoo, For some people like Murali and me, who have been outside-world deprived for a while, better weather, sunny days are extra special. I have been so waiting for the sunny days so that we can take Abhi and Achu out and enjoy the hikes, trails, lakes etc. Of course, we will be no where close to hiking with kids anytime soon. Trust me, I hoped we could do it this year. But watching Abhi touch and stuff every object on the road into his mouth, I had some realistic realization that we are far far away.

Anyhoo again, one of the last weekends was some decent weather. Not that must-wear-the-thickest-jacket cold; Quite sunny (which is a real privilege for us seattle-ites, you know); The week before was good too. But we didn’t step out for some reason. That week, the only place I could think of was the Rattle Snake Ridge. It’s this beautiful lake, surrounded by the mountains; and a terrific hike to the top with the most amazing views. Murali and I had been there couple of times. I think we hiked twice. We walked around the lake once. It was amazing. So, the week after we missed our chance, weather was good (like I said), so we fed kids, ate lunch, packed up and left for the lake. It’s about an hour drive there. Murali drove slower to let Abhi And Achu catch up on a little more sleep.

We reached there and I should mention on Murali’s indirect insistence that we he found the perfect parking spot. Kids woke up when the car stopped. (They have magic wires running from the car engines into their brain). We loaded all our stuff and the kids in the stroller and set out for our day out.

Did I mention that the weather was good? It truly was. I forgot my jacket and had none to wear. Abhi refused to wear any, we forced him. But Achu said, “Its freezing cold” and wore a jacket, hat, mittens, everything perfectly. I think, Murali and I planned to keep the kids in the stroller and walk around the lake in peace for a while, like the last times, but that plan DID NOT work. Abhi and Achu seriously insisted that they get off the stroller and walk on their own. Sooner, we spotted a dog on the trail and that’s it, no kids would stay in the stroller after that. Our little Achu is such a dog lover. She loves petting them, wouldn’t care if the dogs licked or jumped on her. She remembers the dogs we meet for days. Earlier, we used to encourage her to go pet the dogs, but now, the moment she sees one, she goes to pet the doggy. (We are teaching her to ask first, in case the dogs aren’t ready to be petted). So, the first dog we met that day was still a baby dog, named ‘Banjo’. Then there was ‘Kota’ and others names I can’t remember.

 Despite Abhi and Achu’s constant running around and doing things that we wish they wouldn’t, our walk was very pleasant. We got them excited about a tiny waterfall ahead and kept them going. Abhi jumped in the puddles around the waterfalls like expected. Achu only a little. Then we took a little detour and went near the lake. We both admired the surroundings a bit while Abhi and Achu carried out their life long dream of throwing all available stones into the lake. They did some serious effort to try raise the lake levels.

Now, the easy thing to do than try to explain how the surroundings looked. I couldn’t stop thinking about when Murali and I could go hiking up the mountain again. I really hope it happens this summer.

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We walked around a bit longer and then headed out, promising Abhi and Achu a visit to the Starbucks. They were so excited about going to the Starbucks and they didn’t even know what it was. 🙂  We helped ourselves to some yummy strawbie smoothies and headed home. And that was not all. Weather was still so perfect that we went out for a little walk around our house. It truly was a splendid day to spend time outside.

Baby language

I always thought we didn’t have many baby words when we talk to Abhi and Achu. After all, it makes sense to teach them the right word (even if pronounced wrongly) than substitute some baby words. So, we will always say ‘Procrastination’ for ‘Procrastination’. Always. That’s the rule. 🙂

Well, that was until I realized how many new or baby words we use. Especially the ones that get ‘eee’ added to the end.

Out first baby special words were “Ishi Ishi” and “Kab Kab”. Both were Achu’s words. Even saying them twice was her idea. One day she pointed at the water cup and said “Kab-Kab” like she wanted it. So the next time I was using the same word for water because I thought she understood it as water. Then I kept hearing our nanny use the same word too. Assuming that it was some code language for them, I continued using “Kab Kab” for water. Couple of days later, checking with our nanny, she mentioned, she was using the word because she heard me use it and thought the word meant water in Telugu. Yes, Both of us were utterly tricked by the little girl. We laughed at the confusion, but the word stuck for ever. An year or so later, even now, Abhi and Achu know Kab Kab is water but we still use the same word for water. And I don’t think we have any plans of letting go of the word. By choice, of course. 🙂

Then, at the same time as last one, Achu fell down, fake hurt herself and told me that she got “Ishi Ishi”. And I said “Oho. Ishi Ishi bye-bye Achu” and then all her fake pain was all gone. There, the second one. Even now, Ishi-Ishi comes a zillion times everyday. The word also gave me a nice substitute to use for something getting negative. Saying bye-bye to everything is also something we still commonly do everyday.

Another time, Abhi and Achu wearing their diapers ran away from us, before we could put some pants on them. P used to call them “naughty boy and naughty gal”. So, that turned into anyone not wearing pants as “naughty boy” or “naughty gal”. An ask for “Amma, Can I be a naughty boy?” means that Abhi doesn’t want to wear his pants today. Achu was also a ‘naughty boy’ for many days until she figured she would better be called ‘naughty gal’.

Buthabey, Abuchikraks, Nakuseena were all Abhi-origin words. Kammagi was Achu’s. Of course she immediately coined ‘Achuchikraks’ because Abhi said ‘Abuchikraks’. We named our last fish (which btw, passed away last year) Buthabey. And we have signed the unofficial deal that the next pet fish will be called ‘Abuchikraks’. I thought Nakuseena was some random word Abhi coined and I recently found out that he was repeating that word from a Spanish music toy. See, Abhi could speak Spanish and I had no idea.

Then, there is common ‘Mammu time’ for food time. That’s very common to use for kids. However, you know what the mammu we make when we mix rice with yogurt is called? White mammu. I know. No brainer there. But, it’s used very commonly around here.

So, Achu’s hair. The silky shiny hair. And the super cute rings at the bottom, all nicely tied into a ‘Pulka’. Nope. Not the eating one. We call the pony tail, ‘Pulka’. It is actually a silly name in Telugu to call the pony-tail ‘Pilaka’. However, our non-Telugu speaking nanny was so dearly calling it ‘Pulka’ (we love Achu’s hair A LOT) and I didn’t have the heart to correct her. So, Pulka it is. Btw, if you are around here and are allowed to tie Achu’s hair, remember you will be clearly told by her little highness that the ‘Pulka, On top of here’. She will point to exactly where should want it. And No. Doing two pulkas is a sin to commit.

That’s not all. Our major baby language comes from the extension of ‘ee’ to many many words. Many. And saying the same word twice. Like we do ‘Brushee Brushee’. Toilet paper is ‘Toilet Papereee’ (For Abhi, its Toilet pepariya). There is ‘Kinnee..Kinne’. Correctly pronounced as ‘Cleanee..Cleanee’ now. Bunny hat is ‘Bunny hateee’. Strawberry is of, course ‘Strawbee’. I could go on and on. Last time, nanny was talking to her son on phone, she told him to go ‘Readee-Readee’. I’ts a serious problem around here. 🙂

As Abhi and Achu’s language improves by the day, we might not be coining as many baby words as before. But I surely want to hold on to these special words. And always say Kab-Kab for water. Always. 🙂

A Little Grown Up

It’s bed time. Abhi and Achu are trying to sleep in their crib beds while I am on the bed in between the cribs.

Abhi asks something, “Amma, Can you XXXX?”, some word, I didn’t understand. It sounded like goldfish but I wasn’t sure. So, I asked, “Do you want a goldfish?” (Not that I was getting him one then).

Abhi: “No Amma. Can you XXXX??”

Didn’t understand again. It rarely happens that I don’t understand something kids say. I was confused and scratching my head to figure out what he said.

And then, from the other side of the bed, Achu says,

“Closer…Ammma….Closer. Abhi wants you to come closer”

I just couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t understand what Abhi said and Achu was clarifying it for me. He was asking me to pull his crib closer to our bed. I continued laughing, thanked Achu and did what he asked for. 🙂

***

Murali was conducting a game for Abhi and Achu, “Five question challenge”. He usually asks them questions which need them to relate one thing to another and answer. Like,

“Achu, What do you need when it is raining?” Achu:” Umbrella”. Or what do you do when you need water in desert? Achu: “I will go to Carmella the camel and ask for water”. 🙂

I forgot what other questions are like, but it is so interesting to see kids think and answer and come to their own conclusions. Yesterday, Murali was telling them a story about a kid named Johnny. He asked,

“What does little Johnny do after he wakes up?” . He meant “goes brushing”, but Abhi responds,

“Eats sugar”.

Get it? 🙂

***

I bought new curtains for Abhi and Achu’s bedroom. After we hung them together (by together I mean, I hung them while Abhi and Achu moved blankets, comforters, pillows, toys from our bedroom into theirs to make a fake pile of leaves to jump on), nanny says, “Wow. Nice curtains Achu”.

Achu responds, “My Amma made them” (This is the first time she referenced me like that).

Abhi looks at me and says, “Thanks for making the curtains, Amma. They are very nice”.

🙂

***

Our nanny pretends like she is going to vomit and says, “Achu, vomit is coming Achu”.

Achu asks, “Can I get you some water?” Then runs to her pretend tap near the kitchen and get some pretend water in a pretend cup. “You better drink some water mamma”.

***

Abhi was up early in the morning (as usual). First thing he says, “Can I come sleep on the bed, Amma?”. I am always sleepy then and I just pull him into our bed.

Achu, normally has a range of bed time toys. Yesterday night she went to bed with three big blankets, one big doggy called penny and one small doggy called pinky. Then there is miscellaneous stuff like rings, toy egg, yo-yo, books (until we said no) , camera etc etc. Abhi usually is okay with nothing. However, for the last three nights, he was asking for magnifying glass and he got it. This morning after I moved him to bed, he asked for it again. So I started looking for it in the crib, assuming he must have left it there. I had a feeling, I just saw it somewhere, but I couldn’t trace it. I am looking and looking and suddenly Abhi tells me, “It’s on the carpet Amma”. I look down and there it was. Right next to my legs.

So, a little grown-up, aren’t they? 🙂

The Preschool Hunt

So Murali and I are on a mission. To enroll Abhi and Achu into a preschool. I have such mixed feelings about sending kids out to a school. But, I have to say, I am doing much better than I did when I first used to think of it. My kids, out there in the world; No one I trust to keep an eye on. Outside the comforts of home. What if someone hits them? What if someone is mean to them? What if they don’t eat? What if no one understands what they want? I would just start silently crying a bit whenever I think of it. At least now, I guess, since I am busy with the process of actually finding a school, I seem to be doing better, but, only the days to come will tell how I will feel. Even now, I can’t think of the day when we say goodbye to our nanny and land at the school. Its going to be such a big change for all of us.

Until now, I have to say, we have enjoyed the comforts of keeping Abhi and Achu at home. From the time I went back to work, we had a nanny. It was much easier to deal with kids and chores this way. Our nanny P currently works for us for extended hours. I don’t have to go through the hassle of getting them ready, feeding them, dropping them off at school, pickup on time etc. We didn’t have to worry about kids catching cold from someone else or worrying about backup care of staying home if they were sick. Murali and I could even do late afternoon movies, early dinner, finish our shopping etc., before coming home. It is so convenient.  Soon, we will lose all this.

Abhi and Achu will be turning three this July. I guess it’s already time they go to a normal school. You know, at this age, they could use some discipline changes and social interactions. But, we postponed it as much as we could. Then, we thought of enrolling them in preschool as soon as they turn three. Now, I think we are in favor of waiting until Summer is over and start school in Fall, since that will give us the flexibility during the summer days. Last summer, we didn’t go out much because of work, new home etc. But, this time, we want to make better use of the summer days.

I have no idea how we are going to manage when this change happens. Murali is not available in the mornings. So, I have to get them ready, feed them breakfast, make lunch for them, pack it and drop them off at school. Phew, I feel tired just thinking about that. Then later in the evening, Murali has to go pick them up from school, give them some snack; Then the cooking, feeding, bathing. Phew! Phew! Phew! Murali and I talked about hiring a nanny who would pick up from school and take care of them (including bathing and feeding dinner) until we get home, but, you know, given how expensive these preschools are, I am not sure if we should afford nanny again. I thought it was better to have someone to cook and clean, since that is one of our major work items after we come home. If I didn’t have to cook (which I truly dislike), I will be okay with taking care of the kids. (Provided the cook option works out, you know. You can imagine, how hard it will be to find a cook who cooks south Indian food, will come home to cook and is affordable 😦 )

I am still not sure how I will manage the morning routine. When I am going to get ready? I cant just leave them out when I go get ready? And do I cook in the morning and pack their lunch? Or do I cook and prepare the boxes the night before? Of course, I want to cook in the morning. But, given that I am not a morning person at all (and that I don’t sleep well at nights), I am not sure, I can pull that off. Sigh! So many things to take care of. I am really going to miss the comforts of having a nanny.

Everyone tells me that when kids start going to school, they learn a lot and that will just feel amazing. I can imagine. But I am not too excited about it. Murali and I do some conscious effort to teach them things (well, not at a structured pace anyway), and I am okay with kids learning it slow (especially  given the comforts we will lose). We can’t work extra hours if we need to. No more movies or chaat, coffee breaks for us parents. Life is going to get busy.

We did start touring the schools and my, my  are these expensive? So far, we toured three schools. First one was the least expensive, but we didn’t like that school was very new and the teachers looked so young and inexperienced. Second one,  has been in business for some 7 years, is also expensive, looks decent, but apparently is not the type of preferred Montessori education. Third one, is the most expensive, has been in business for some 20 years, and is very popular. Apparently, the style of education here is more suited for three-year olds. This is one of those pay per hour school, where as the first two are flat rate.

I think we are leaning towards the middle one. All the schools are close to home, and I think for this year its okay to go easy on what type of learning they are going to receive and focus on getting used to the big changes ahead. Maybe in a year, when Abhi and Achu are a year older, we can move them to the popular school. I don’t know if I am being selfish when thinking about spending the money difference we will save between the schools on a cook and make our lives a little easy. I am not sure, if we should already be spending it on their early education or if that is even valid at this age. Third school also doesn’t do naps, and I am not sure if that’s okay for 3 years olds to not nap. When we skip naps now, Abhi and Achu want to sleep in the evening (if they are in a car). And that will of course impact their night-time sleep routine. May be we can alter that, but do we really need to put kids through that now? I know all the curriculums are focussed on teaching them in a fun way. I dont know if we want to be that particualr about what they learn or is it time already to focus on that?

Either way, we are in for some big changes ahead. We need to complete Abhi’s potty training and get started on Achu’s. If we don’t let kids sleep in their own bed room now, I cant do it for few weeks after they start going to school. I know I have seen changes like these with kids before and we did okay. When we were coming back from India, I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage kids, home and work without having Murali around. We survived that. Maybe this will be okay too. But you know, Huhhh! We will see how it goes.