Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lions and tigers and flamingos, oh my!!!

Today was our trip to the Pittsburgh zoo with Shiv's school. No, not just any ordinary day!! We were all set to ride the school bus with the other kids....and my 10 month old!! So, why didn't I just take the car instead? Well, let's just say that I'm indulging my 3 year old's fascination with school buses and decided to take on the challenge of traveling on one with diapers, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, fruit, water, juice, sandwiches, yogurt, formula, change of clothes (Did I say that already?!!!) and a really large stroller. Yup, everything but the kitchen sink!!! This is when the whole cloning process would come in handy...but then again, I'm not sure how I would handle another me in the same room. Or in this instance, on the same bus!!! You know when they say that it's the little things in life that bring a smile to your child's face. Well, all I can say is that Shiv was beaming the whole way; looking out of the window and waving enthusiastically at other cars beside us. Shome, of course, was Shome. My little munchkin; so full of happiness and contentment. He just "da da daad" as the bus chugged along.

For some reason, Shiv kept wanting to see only the lions and tigers. The strange thing is that the child always complains of not wanting to sleep in his room because of the lions and tigers residing somewhere in the closet!! He seems to have developed a genuine fear of all animals with sharp teeth. (Note to self: must track down author of book with illustrations of sharp-toothed creatures and tell him/her a thing or two!!!). Of course, since the animals looked like they weren't going anywhere, he suddenly assumed this air of bravado and insisted that he was going to roar and scare them away!! I didn't want to let down the poor child by informing him that the lion could probably eat him up in one big bite, so I just patted him on the head and prayed he wouldn't be the only kid making weird noises at the animals. Luckily for us, there were hordes of school children making their rounds, so my 3 year old seemed like an angel in comparison to the groups rushing around, like the candy store had just been opened!!

So we made our way through the zoo. To be honest with you, the idea of gawking at "caged' animals is something I'm not really comfortable with. I guess, on the one hand, zoos are about conservation of wild life, but then again, when I see a polar bear trying to stay cool in 70 degree Fahrenheit weather, I feel that's just not right. But hey, who am I to pass judgment, when I enjoy a juicy steak every now and then!!! It was remarkable though to see all these beautiful animals and birds from up close. We pretty much covered the whole zoo, including the aquarium. Unfortunately, there were some animals that were absent from their respective "abodes". No giraffes or gorillas!! Yes, I should have been content with the zebra, penguins, ostrich, and flamingos. Hey, there was even a little Nemo look-alike at the aquarium, and a camel, who looked like he was in dire need of a shower!! We saw the elephants splashing in the water. (Watch the video of the baby elephants at the end!!). The penguins were all out, flapping and waddling about. And how can I forget the boa constrictor!! Shiv went right ahead and patted the snake, like an old friend. Of course, it was straight to the hand sanitizer area after that!! But I was quite impressed at how unafraid he was.

Sadly, the gorillas were on strike!! Or so it seemed, because there was absolutely no sign of them. I always love watching them and their human-like qualities. Twiddling their thumbs or swatting flies, or trying to stay dry from the air....so much like ourselves!!! I guess what made up for the lack of our hairy cousins was the peacock who strutted around our table, while we took a break. I'm extremely embarrassed to say that I've never seen one this close even back in India!! I managed to get a snapshot of Shome looking at the bird, all wide-eyed. It was priceless!!

You know, it was a great day after all!! I told the mothers, we were hanging out with, that if I started hyper-ventilating about all the stuff I had to carry and the baby, that they should just smack me in the head!! But that wasn't necessary at all. Shiv and Shome were absolute angels the whole time. We had no accidents, tantrums, fights or drifting away. We bonded with the animals (or so I'd like to think!!), and the other kids and their mothers. There was just a lot walking, laughter and sharing. We got back home in one piece on the school bus and everything was A-okay. Of course, Shome then threw up all over himself while I was trying to feed him, and Shiv decided to take a poop and needed to be cleaned at that precise moment!! So, I placed Shome in the tub, wiped Shiv's butt, bathed, diapered, clothed and fed Shome; got him to take a nap; read to Shiv, negotiated with him about when he could get an ice-cream, got him to fall asleep. And then I sat down with my cup of tea, and thought, "Dear God, thank you for a beautiful day!! But if possible, don't make me go through it again!!!".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

DIM - Did It Myself!!!!

1.33 yards of fabric: $29.98

All purpose sanding sponge: $2.17

Comfort Spray Grip: $6.28

4 cans of Satin Black Rust-oleum spray paint: $18.68

Dinette make-over from this.....

to this......

and the look of amazement on my husband's face: Priceless!!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The science of gender.

The other day, I handed my first born the first pair of socks I could lay my hands on.

"No, Amma, those are girl socks!!!", said my 3 year old.

They turned out to be yellow, pink and purple. Explanation: I received a bunch of girl stuff along with boy hand-me-downs for Shiv. I've managed to get my son to use the clothes (pink pajamas, a white sweater with flowers, etc.) at home. I thought I was getting away with it...until the other day!!! He was pretty adamant about not wearing them although he couldn't really explain why he thought they were girl socks. I didn't push the issue and trudged upstairs for some dull brown ones, which he happily wore, exclaiming, "Good job, Amma!! These are boy socks!!".

When I was pregnant with Shiv, I made a very conscious decision not to go crazy with the whole blue vs pink issue. I very deliberately didn't find out if we were going to have a boy or girl, and ended up buying neutral coloured clothing. So I went with whites, greens, yellows, oranges and even purple. Now, before you begin to feel sorry for my little boy for not being dressed in the appropriate colour, I will let you know that after he was born, we were flooded with the blues. Invariably, a clothing gift would turn out to be some shade of blue.....powder blue, royal blue, steel blue, sky blue, light blue, baby blue, etc, etc.

Of course, my son's favourite colour turned out to be pink at one point!!! (Hey, haven't you heard the phrase "Real men wear pink"!!!). Anyway, he keeps changing his mind...today it's yellow!! I don't really remember at any point telling him that girls and boys did very specific things. I've always tried to use gender-neutral terms like firefighter, mail person, flight attendant, etc, etc. It's really interesting though how children develop their sense of gender from interacting with other kids and what they watch on TV.

Shiv and I were watching 'Dancing with the Stars'; he loves anything with music and movement. During the commercial break, he looked at me and said, "Amma, boys and girls dance with each other". I thought for a while, and said, "Well, boys can dance with boys too, and girls can dance with girls." What I meant was when you have an all male or all female entourage on stage.

"No, Amma!!! Only boys and girls dance!!!", he said vehemently. I just smiled at him.

And then he decided a few days ago that his best friend was Simran. She is the cutest 3 year old with sparkly eyes and a charming smile. "Amma, I love Simyan!! I'm going to tell Simyan that I love her!!".

"Sure!!", I said, smiling at him, and thinking to myself, "Just don't say it in front of her Dad!! You don't want a restraining order on you this early in life!!!".

I asked him in the car today, on the way to day care, whether he loved his friends Jackson and Ethan. He shook his head and said, "No, only Simyan.", and then after a while, added, "And Ashley". Our neighbour's 4 year old across the street.

So, my 3 year old already has a sense of the gender issue. I just hope he doesn't develop stereotypes about it. I mean, honestly, I have no qualms with him wearing pink, and being in the kitchen. Yes, I do want him to follow his dreams but be practical in life as well. I want him to grow up with the knowledge that one can accomplish anything they set their minds on. After all some of the world's best chefs are men, and countries have been protected by women on the battle front! I guess as long as he respects himself and others; that's what really matters.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Going Green.

I've never really thought of myself as an environmentalist, but growing up in Africa and India has allowed me to appreciate the little things in life. Yes, we live in the suburbs, drive an S.U.V, throw out an incredible amount of trash, still use plastic bags at the grocery store...yes, yes, we're still that percentage of people who are unfortunately contributing to the demise of our beautiful planet and its resources!! But we're changing; really we are!!!!

Firstly, I'm very very proud to say that I've been using cloth diapers with my second child. I haven't been able to do away with the disposable ones completely, but I know that the garbage has several less dirty diapers now. (Is that an oxymoron?) Now using these special cloth diapers (they're really cool with a fleece lining and snaps) led me to switch to a non-toxic bio-degradable vegetable based cleaner. It claims to clean ANYTHING from false teeth to diesel engines!! My husband was so impressed with the product that now we use it on all our clothes. What's great about it is the clothes come out smelling just clean; not of lavender or vanilla or anything like that. In fact, there's a line on the cloth bag that the stuff comes in, that says, "If you want fragrance, then pick some flowers!!!". Anyway, I was inspired then to try some other natural cleaning products, which I must say, are pretty good. They smell really really good!! You know, if they hired me to be their spokesperson, I' m pretty sure I could sell the product. Especially the laundry detergent (Charlie's Soap, by the way!!); I'm practically gushing about it!!

My husband and I made an effort to buy energy star appliances. Yes, they're good for the environment, but they're also saving us money. And then of course, there are the reusable grocery bags, which can carry a ton of stuff. Not good in some ways, because then that just causes me to buy more. But then again, it's less plastic in the land fill, right? Unfortunately, what's happened a couple of times is that I forget to take the bags, and then end up buying more bags out of guilt!! Hey, they're only 99 cents each, but I think I have enough bags for a month's supply of groceries now!! Shh, don't tell the husband!! I promise I'll remember the next time!!

So, are we making a significant difference to the environment? I don't know, but if each of us did our part, etc...etc...The whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts; the effects will be multi fold as each individual participates in this change. (I've always wanted to use the word 'multi fold' in my blog!!). Can we go back to a simpler way of life? That really is a tough question to answer. I won't call myself materialistic...well, I guess it depends on whose perspective it's from.....but I know that there are certain amenities and luxuries of modern day life that I have grown accustomed to. Would it kill me to give them up? Probably not. But one does want to live in the real world; not some secluded forested area, where people don't' shave, or use deodorants, or watch no television, and weave their own clothes. I agree, the great Mahatma Gandhi did the last one; maybe all of the above. Of course, there was no such thing as deodorant in his time....But the point I'm trying to make is: are we too far gone to change? Or is there hope for us, or at least our children? Well, right now, I will continue to recycle and reuse....and pray.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tomorrow is Monday!!!

It's the end of another weekend. You know, when they say that time flies, they aren't kidding!! It's funny that even though I love Fridays because of the days after that, I sometimes dread it too. I know that a Monday and the routine that goes with it, is going to follow soon. Yup, wish I could make time stand still!! But I have been forcing myself to focus on just one day at a time, or else I feel like time is slipping between my fingers.

I'm always so focused on trying to accomplish something significant over the weekend, since my husband is around, and that means more man power (so as to speak!!). So, I have this long list of stuff that I need to get done. And I usually end Friday night by asking my beloved what our plans are for the weekend. It doesn't really matter what he says, because I always have one up my sleeve, and I let him know it. It always involves the words " clean up", "sort out" and "purchase". The first two are a drain on our energy while the last drains our wallet!! My complaint is that our home is not clean enough, neat enough, or practical enough. I'm shaking my head now as I write this, because I realise how complicated I make life. Honestly, right now at this moment, if I were to take a look at our home, I will say that it looks like that of a happy family with two kids; a three year old, who is still trying to grasp the concept of putting away one thing before taking out the other, while the 10 month is experimenting with food and the laws of gravity!! As for the husband....no, he's no neat-freak, who straightens the cushions on the couch before he goes to bed, or repositions the soap container just so....but he cleans as much as he can, bathes the kids, tucks them into bed, love me unconditionally every day, and of course, brings home the pay check. And that's the reason we have this beautiful home in the first place.

I did get into my weekend mode on Friday night again. Did I accomplish everything on my mental list? The office room is still a mess; there's "stuff" piled even higher on the floor of my bedroom; I have dirty dishes in the sink; the laundry is accumulating.....but you know, it's not the end of the world. It's not like we didn't accomplish anything at all. I mean, we had a great dinner tonight, thanks to some grilling on my husband's part. My kids were happy most of the weekend, especially today, since we had a favourite cousin visiting. We watched a "feel-good" movie, which is going to allow me to sleep peacefully at night, since it ended exactly the way I wanted it to! We enjoyed the great weather with boys in our background and bonded a little more with our neighbours. I had the opportunity to volunteer three hours of my time at my son's school with their consignment sale. I didn't make any purchases despite being surrounded by incredible stuff for kids!!! (More stuff would defeat the purpose of me trying to clean out my house!!). In short, I think we did pretty good this weekend.

I'm sitting in the office room right now, with things that need to be put away. But I will worry about that tomorrow. Right now, I'm going to focus on cuddling with my husband, and then my son, when he decides to join us in the middle of the night. And most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing my children's smiles when they wake up tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is Monday, and I will love every minute of it!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just one of those days....

I'm sitting at my computer, trying to decide what to do with my incomplete blogs piling up in the draft folder. I'm so exhausted from feeding the kids, cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, cooking dinner, etc, etc; the never-ending list of duties and chores one has to do on a regular basis. I wonder sometimes when it will all end. But then again, it might mean not having my husband and kids around. And that, I do not want.

I have to admit that it's a good kind of tiredness that I feel right now. The kids are tucked in bed. My husband is watching TV, waiting for me to join him, so he can annoy me with his hugs and kisses. Of course, I fuss about him wanting to cuddle too much, but secretly, that's what I really love about him. Even after 10 years of being married, he still loves me...perhaps even more. And as for me, I know that my love for him has grown so much stronger over the years. I haven't made life easy for him, but he has stood by my side and held me through all the rough times. He has allowed me to give him two beautiful children.

My children...my precious ones. I can't believe they're growing up so quickly. I was telling my neighbour the other day, that I wanted to put my little baby, Shome, in a little box. I would open it and look at him everyday and he would never ever grow up. Well, actually, I said that I wanted to freeze him into an ice-cube but I realised that it was a really morbid thought!!! You get the idea, right? I just want to be able to hold both my boys and feel their little heartbeats and never have to let them go.My husband teases me about how the boys will be stomping around the house, raiding the fridge and draping themselves all over the furniture in several years. There's a lump in my throat just thinking of them as young men, eager to make something of themselves in this world. I only hope I can give them the confidence and courage to look the world in the eye and be true to themselves. To be able to find their true calling in life and to be able to reach out to people. Yes, I do want to them to be financially independent, but I also want them to be an inspiration to others. I want people to say, "Now, that's a good guy!!!".

Wishful thinking? I don't know. Ironic that's it's April Fool's Day, huh? You know, 10 years ago, I would have laughed at myself and my thoughts. But not today. My husband and my boys have given me hope. They've shown me that I can dream and dreams can become a reality. They've made me look at the glass half full and silver lining of the cloud and all that. They've made me believe in myself. And especially today..... I want to just lay down in bed and shut my eyes. But I have to acknowledge all that is positive and good about my life. I have to say, "Thank you, my darlings!!". Like I said, it's just one of those days.