Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Land of the Friendly

We all miss Massachusetts very much. But, the weather makes it a little easier for us to bear, considering it's topping off in the lower 50s and nighttime temperatures are freezing in Shrewsbury, while here it's going to be 80 degrees tomorrow. Ha ha ha.

Goodbye, Fall jackets, goodbye, "crisp" autumn days. Even though, the beauty of Autumn there makes up for the negatives.

There are a lot more things that are nice here: people are nicer: even drivers. People are very nice in Boston too. But drivers there aren't technically people, they are a different species. Decent people there get behind their wheels and transform into ugly selfish honking monsters. I realize that I am a Mr.Hyde in the car too, only after I drove here for a while.

People wave thank you at me for letting them in front of me every time. They give way to me all the time. They actually act the same way they do when they are not driving! There is much talk about rush hour road rage on the freeways here, but Man, they haven't been to Boston. Ofcourse there are exceptions, but mostly, the drivers seem friendlier to me, even though the driving conditions are very stressful.

And at the Farmers Market, people talk to each other. The shopkeepers call me Amiga and offer good deals. Shoppers next to me trying new vegetables ask me if I like them (the vegetables, not the shoppers).

Last Sunday, I tasted a purple grape before picking them out at the Market. An old man shopping next to me said, "Taste one of the green ones too." I don't like green grapes and I hesitated. "Have one." he ordered. Normally if it were Kiran or my parents telling me to try something new, I would put my foot down. But not to be rude, I tasted a green grape. It was deliciously sweet, and the man smiled with satisfaction. "See?" He said. "The green grapes are the sweet ones today." So I had to buy the green grapes.

Not having been to a real Farmer's Market before, this place is really something else. Musicians playing guitars and singing songs. Juicy peaches, plums, apples, pears, pomegrenate are cut up and put outside the stalls, so you can taste before you buy. And the fruit is usually so sweet it's unnatural. The vegetables, I can't wait to go home and cook. And if all this makes one too hungry to wait until they go home and cook lunch, there are delicious-smelling kettlecorn and freshly-cooked food stalls right there.

Does life get any better? Sometimes it does for Summy, when the face-painting lady sets up a small station with a sign that says "Donations lovingly accepted".

Goodbye, chain grocery stores. Hello, Music and the scent of fruit and flowers in the air, Hello good food, Hello friendly fellow people. The humble-sounding Farmers Market, to me, is an example of what life should be like everywhere.

This and That

Long time no post, but it doesn't mean that there is nothing to write about. Summy is still cute and funny and gives me a lot of things to write about. Just yesterday, while we were watching a movie, someone in the movie had Chicken pox, and she said "Chicken Pops".

She also said something at bedtime that made us laugh a lot, but I can't remember what it is.

She also seems grown up and eager to grow up more (why? why? why?).

I know I wrote a long time ago that she had read her first book, but she didn't read that much for a long time after that. Only now, she is very much into reading small beginner books again.

She seems interested in Math right now, and wants to do Math activities frequently. I am so terrible at teaching it. Even though I always thought Kumon (a learning center for children of all ages) was unnecessary (unless really necessary), I am even starting to think it may be a good idea for her, even though their workbooks seem very dreary to me. Anything is better than me struggling to explain to her why 20 comes after 19.

Counting, adding small numbers, subtracting small numbers under ten, she does. But she has gotten hold of a grade 1 workbook that I bought by mistake, and wants to do coin math, fractions, and telling time. I still have to think for a minute before I can figure out if a dime is five cents or ten, or before I can tell time from an analog clock.

She is doing very well at school. Next month, we will be moving closer to her school, so she will finally be a more regular student. (We are now at least 20 crawling-at-snail's-pace freeway miles away. )

We will be moving to an apartment. For four months we have lived with the basics, and did well. Summy has very rarely remembered or asked for her things. She has made do with whatever was there. Still, it will be nice to see everything back from storage. I can't wait for her to have a room. Somehow, even when we lived in a three bedroom house, we never made up a room just for her.

It was actually more of a struggle for me not to buy her new toys. I love getting her things. I have to remember that she will be reunited with a lot of her old toys again, and that there will be so many that we will probably have to give some away. Especially now that I know she doesn't need them.

She hasn't forgotten her old friends though, and frequently asks when we will go back to see them, and if we can celebrate her next birthday with them.

She misses Shrewsbury when she thinks of it, at the same time, she realizes that we are in a nice place too. "Shrewsbury is very special" she said out of the blue on the drive to school this morning. Then after a minute of thinking - "California is very special too".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fiery California

A quick update - we are not close to any of the many wildfires that are burning in South California.

Being new here, I didn't even realize that it was wildfire season. We went to SeaWorld in San Diego on Saturday. On the way there, we looked at the houses built into the hills, so close to the trees in the forest, and I wondered why they built them that way.

On Sunday morning, back home, we heard the wind howling through the fireplace, and guessed that it was the notorious Santa Ana winds, coming from the desert. The farmers market was not festive as usual, everybody seemed to be in a hurry to go home and get out of the dry, hot, wind.

Sunday afternoon, we started hearing about wildfires. That evening, we smelled smoke outside. I thought it must be a barbeque, because I couldn't believe that we would smell fires that were atleast forty miles away, even though that's what Kiran suspected.

Monday night, there was no mistaking that it was the smoke from the fires. There were fires burning east of us, and the winds were going west and blowing the smoke right over us.

So now we have wildfires to the north, wildfires to the east, and wildfires to the south. The sky is grey even though it's a sunny day. Summy's class has stopped going out for playground time to avoid the smoke, and is indoors watching movies instead.

The winds are gone now, and we hope the fires burn themselves out soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Step Backwards

As mentioned before, my car has been in the shop, needing repairs, for a while. It is a step backwards in convenience.

But, it has been thousands of steps forward as we discovered that walking is nothing to be dreaded, even with a four-year-old. It might be cliched, but it is as they say: When God closes a door, He opens a window. For us, several windows were opened.

First, I bought a small stroller for Summy. Then we set out, and discovered that the library, which seems so far away driving, is actually only half a mile away. Almost every day we walk to the wonderful library, and stroll down the beautiful tree lined, shop lined small-town street that the library is on.

The grocery stores are less than a mile away too, and walking to them is a breeze, though ofcourse I cannot buy much (or I'd break my back carrying groceries). The movie theatres are right there, if we only chose to go see a movie.

The beach can be walked to too, though I don't walk there often because it's so hard to avoid sunshine there. But we did make it to the beach on the day of Japan America Kite Festival, and had fun looking at interesting kites (and kite dances), listening to music and making our own kite.

I'd never taken Summy to the swimming pool that's right in our apartment complex before the car broke down. But now we go almost everyday, and she loves to twist and turn in the water like a seal!

So when we need to get somewhere far, we rent a car, or use Kiran's. On other days, I hang my big red beach bag on my shoulders, and we go where the road takes us.

Friday, August 24, 2007


While the blog hasn't had much activity, things aren't so quiet at home. Summy and I spent a week looking at preschools, and we agreed on one that we both liked (and Kiran approved after visiting). It has large classrooms, many windows, a nice playground, good teachers, a flexible structure, and they were willing to accommodate Summy's vegetarianism (without insisting that I bring in fake chicken if the rest of the kids are having chicken). Most important of all, the kids were friendly and looked happy.

It's called "Tutor Time", but Summy is under the impression that it's "Cuter Time". "Cuter Time" is actually a much better-suited name to the school.

After that, due to my car needing repairs, Summy's attendance at preschool has been only sporadic. But she has adjusted well there.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life of an "SAHM"

While I was working, I thought that it was a much easier job to be at a full-time job than it was to be a stay-at-home parent. A worker gets a break from work at home, and a break from home at work (a work-at-home parent gets neither). Ofcourse the worker also carries the stress from home to work and vice versa.

Now that I'm temporarily an SAHM, I'm amazed that I used to do most of what I do now, and go to the office. I guess the grass always appears greener on my side of the fence to me. But I can still see why SAHMhood is harder - I'm guessing that we get a lot less appreciation for what we do at home.

Most people realize that you are working hard if you are doing something "important" (meaning it pays real money). Well, taking care of a home and a child is hard work. There is no evidence of the results of the work at the end of the day - the meals are eaten and gone, the cleaned dirty dishes are dirty again, the cleaned up living room is sprinkled with crayons and crumbs and scraps of paper again. All the moments that had been spent making a child happy - the visits to park, the coloring done together, the dressing of the dolls - are gone (hopefully deposited into a happy memories piggy bank somewhere), and all that is left is a cranky sleepy child.

There are no reviews on paper to tell you what a good job you've done. Everybody needs appreciation and acknowledgement of what they do, even if they already know that they are working hard. If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad and are reading this, here is my review. You are doing great at an amazing, demanding, challenging job, and the adorable evidence to this is growing in front of your eyes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Apartment

We were lucky enough to have a temporary furnished apartment waiting for us, so we didn't have to unpack anything except clothes so far. It is a nice little place, close to everywhere, and as different as could be from our old house.

What I don't miss:

The space - From 2100 sq ft to 1000 sq ft. And we still don't even step into the second bedroom unless guests are here, and we haven't stored anything there. So effectively, we are in about 700 sq ft and I can't tell the difference.

Wait, I can. Now, I can cook and still watch what Summy is doing on the computer, and talk to her. I can laugh with her while she watches cartoons on TV, and she can draw at the dining table right next to me. I thought I'd miss the huge kitchen we had, but I don't.

It is a very positive difference to not have so many rooms and so much distance between things and people.

How do we manage? It makes it very easy that we don't have all our stuff yet. Once we move to another apartment, receive our things and unpack them, I wouldn't know where to put all of them.

I use as few things as possible, just one set of dishes for each person. Now that I think about it, why would anyone need any more for every day use? To fill up the dishwasher with? Because that's exactly why I used more dishes - to fill up the dishwasher and start a wash cycle. Now I don't even use the dishwasher.

Summy's toys and books - We brought some dolls with us, and here I got her some construction paper, a pair of scissors, crayons, and glue. She has been making projects and that's been keeping her very busy. We got a local library card, and Summy hasn't even opened any of the books that I brought from home. We just read the library books. Now she watches a lot more TV than she used to, but I'm fine with that. This is a holiday for her, after all, and she'll soon be back to a school routine.

What I do miss:

People - Family, friends, all the people we knew we had around even if we didn't see them every day or week.

New England - the trees, the landscape, the hills. There were woods everywhere, shade everywhere. Here, there is no shade, no escaping from the sun (even though it doesn't get very hot). Most of the trees are palms, fashionably tall and slim with carefully arranged leaves on their tops (come to think of it, many of the people here are like that too). This open landscape makes me feel vulnerable, me being allergic to sunlight.

Things - And materialistically, I miss some of our things - I don't miss the house much, but I miss our sheets, towels, my own kitchen knives, things like that. I didn't bring anything personal along except for a few of Summy's toys and books, to make the transition easier for her. Now I think familiar things would have made the transition easier for me, too.

All in all:

Still, we are getting on fine. I don't have a toaster, or a blender, and I just have the basics to cook with, and fresh vegetables and fruit from a wonderful farmer's market a block away. And I cook lunches and dinners, though simple ones, almost every day. Before, I had a large kitchen full of choppers, blenders, toasters, woks, pantry full of groceries and fancy pastes and masalas, and we ate out all the time. Ofcourse then I also had a full-time job!

Yesterday, I asked Summy if she wanted to eat lunch at home or outside, and she picked pasta with broccoli and cheese sauce made by me. I quote her - "Nobody else knows how to make it, not restaurants, not anybody else. Just Mommy makes it." Home is where home-cooked meals are made - so yes, this apartment has become home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How are we holding up?

Okay, as you can see.

Nothing much has changed in the last two weeks. It's just the opposite coast, a new home, strange weather, a different culture, and an altered lifestyle. That's all :-)

The beach is half a mile away. It's a nice sandy colorful beach with surfers, swimmers, and kites. We've done several things on the beach including building sand structures, getting wet, flying a kite, exploring the pier, walking on the quaint old main street eating ice cream and watching people. Summy, ofcourse, loves the beach.

Everything we do here has been turning into an adventure. For example, yesterday I chose to drive by the coastline instead of driving straight back home from Torrance. The result was that we ended up driving by cliffs on the edge of the ocean. We even found a park on the edge of a cliff, which included breathtaking views of the ocean, a playground for kids, and a small icecream cart pushed along by a man who spoke nothing but Spanish (at which I blanked out on any Spanish I know). Summy looked from the top of the cliffs at the water for a long long time.

Then further on the way back home, guided by a car GPS (without which we would have been completely lost), we passed right through Long Beach harbor without expecting it. I mean on a bridge right through the middle of the harbor, cranes, ships, ocean, and all. Out of blue, into the blue, you could say.

And ofcourse, I don't have pictures of any of this, because I thought it was going to be a long boring drive on the freeway, and didn't bring the camera along.

It's like a new country. When we got here, I didn't even know how to operate the gas pumps, or use my credit cards. Now I'm much better. Kiran, he has the way to the office and back down pat. He has been working non-stop since we got here and hasn't had mucht time to look around.

And Summy? She has adjusted well now, to the time change, to the weather, to being with me all the time in a (relatively) small space, to the idea of going to a new school even.

In the beginning, she did have trouble adjusting to the idea of moving away from "home". She constantly thought of her friends back in Massachusetts. Once, two days into the move, I was driving and she was talking to me. I could hear something that sounded like babble ("boodle boodle"), and kept up a steady "uh huh, uh huh" while concentrating on the traffic. She got my attention only when she wistfully said, "Andrea (her best friend at school) always laughs when I say that."

Now I realize that she has passed the stage where she can be entertained by a grown-up all day. This is why she is always craving the company of kids her age. I don't play her games, I don't get her jokes. Well, some of the time I do both. But other times, I have more "grown-up", "important" stuff to do.

But soon, she'll have a new school (pre-K), and new friends, and I can already see her looking forward to it, even though she is being a little uncharacteristically shy when we go around looking at new schools.

What can we complain of? I am getting time off from work, precious time to spend with Summy, lovely weather all the time, beaches, great restaurants (Indian and otherwise). There is always something to complain of! Lately, I've been complaining to Kiran that my days are too busy :-)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Little Hands, Big Ideas

I thought it was just a doodle, until the artist explained it to me.
It's a kitty, sleeping with her tail curled all around her (as kitties do). She is dreaming about eating bread, which she loves (and which you can see in the dream balloon over her head). But instead of bread, the kitty tried to take a bite out of her bed, which is why she has that funny squiggle on her face.


We have enjoyed our home in suburban Massachusetts so much (and lived here long enough to learn to spell Massachusetts). Even though we complain about the cold, and how we can have summer and winter weather in the same day, it is so nice to always have a new season to look forward to.

Here is a picture of Summy digging herself out of our driveway in Winter after a snowstorm.

And here she is in Spring, picking out what we grown-ups called weeds.

Here it's Summer, and she's mixed up with the roses.

And here she is in the Fall.

We'll miss all the surprises we see here - the deer that crossed the street, the turkeys that visit occasionally, the baby turtles that take a shortcut across the grass in Spring, even the coyote that we could hear howling last year, and the fox that scurried through the snow in the backyard while we watched amazed. Not to mention the birds, rabbits, and squirrels, all of whose adorable babies frolic in the backyard.

Last Sunday, two weeks before we are to leave, another surprise floated right over our house and toward the horizon.

We will miss our home and all that comes with it, and look forward to the new surprises that a new home will bring.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Finding Home

As we prepare to move and sell our house, I've seen different views of what makes a good home. More bedrooms than the number of people in your household, more living space than you can clean, and hardwoods and granites and stainless steel appliances and tile and sunrooms and fireplaces and vaulted ceilings and decks and jacuzzis and master suites and swimming pools that you didn't even know you wanted until you found out that everybody else wants them (or until you started watching HGTV). More house = more happiness.

Until you meet Sara of livelightlytour. I came across one of her blogs for the first time last October, when she, her husband, and her little daughter had sold their house in Iowa and moved to a little apartment. I was amazed at how she had made such an inviting lovely home out of such a small space.

Since then, they have moved out of Iowa and moved into another small apartment in Bozeman, Montana. Sara (aided by her husband) used her magic to transform the place into a finalist entry in the 2007 Apartment Therapy contest. Now, her family moved out of the apartment, bought an RV, converted its engine to use veggie oil, redid the RV in sustainable materials, and yes - made it into a beautiful home that you would want to move right into. They mean to travel around the country for a year, educating people about sustainable living.

All this time, I never read a word of regret in her blogs about the places they have left behind. Fond memories, yes, but not regret. She has found her home, and it's not in a fixed location or structure. Her home, her place of happiness, seems to be in in being with her husband and daughter, in getting together with friends and family, in making new friends, in doing the things she loves and believes in, and in doing them well.

Here's to Sara!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Surf's Up!

We are moving to South Bay, California. From the Northeast corner of the country to the Southwest. From the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. From a large (for us) house to a small apartment. If that is a big change for us, it's huge for little Summy.

She has lived in this house since she was born, played in the yard, grew tomatoes there, picked flowers, colored on the walls, spilled juice on the carpet :) She has known her friends in daycare since they were babies.

So far, she is thrilled about living close to the beach, about the new apartment, about not having to go to school for a while. She tends to develop strong bonds with people, so she is naturally sad about leaving behind friends and family. She even suggested that it would be a better idea to go there for "just three days" on "bacation" to California and then come back to the old familiar. But now, she has come to terms with this move and has even sorted out her toys and books into ones that will go to California and ones that will be given away.

I know and hope that she will adapt quickly and be happy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Note

One afternoon this week, I went to pick up Summy and found the entire class watching Cinderella on TV. They were on the floor, snuggled up with their blankies and teddy bears and friends in their darkened classroom. I thought it was going to be hard to get Summy out of that cozy setting, but she jumped up as soon as she saw me.

When it was time to say Bye to her teacher, she frowned. I found out why when her teacher gave a small piece of paper and asked me to sign it. It was a note! A note is sent home to parents when a child has been naughty. I read it over, signed a copy for the teacher, and brought Summy out to the car.

I hadn't said a word to her about the note, but on the way, Summy broke down and started to cry. "I got a note, Mama!" Apparently she prides herself on being a "good girl" and she could not bear the thought of a note being sent home with her. I told her that one note didn't mean that she was naughty, and that it was okay. But she was not happy. She sat in the back of the car, holding her note and staring sadly at it.

We picked up Kiran from his office. When Kiran asked to see what she was holding, she wouldn't give it to him. She crumpled it into a ball and tossed it to the farthest corner in the back seat.

She reminded me of Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, when she rips a teacher's book and almost gets caught. I felt like Tom Sawyer because I was frequently forgetting things and getting reprimanded by teachers in school, and here was this sensitive little Becky upset because of one note.

Summy's crime: She had used the class crayons to color on a toy and a book.

We reminded Summy that coloring was for paper only, but we didn't push it. We just know that she's never going to do it again.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A New Friend

An imaginary one called Foofoo! It's a baby girl rabbit that Summy "found" in the fridge yesterday morning. She said she didn't want Foofoo to freeze, so she cupped her hands and brought her into the car and to school.

She talked and sang to Foofoo all through the car ride. When she got out of the car at school, she "carried" "her" in. In her classroom, she walked to her cubby, opened it, put "Foofoo" inside, and closed it again.

In the evening, when I picked her up and was about to drive back home, she remembered that Foofoo was still in the cubby. I expected a tantrum to go back to pick up Foofoo. It's bad enough that I go back into the classroom almost everyday to get one forgotten thing or the other. Her teachers probably already think I'm a little funny, without me taking Summy in just to get an imaginary bunny out of the cubby.

But luckily, it turned out that imaginary friends are easier than that. All she had to do was sing, "Little Foofoo, little Foofoo, come out from the cubby into the car" and Foofoo "magicked" herself into the car.

Here's to imaginary magic baby girl bunny friends! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bike to Work Week

It's National Bike to Work Week, as I found out from this post of Sara's.

Now that I've finally learned the joy of riding a bike, I wish I could ride it somewhere, instead of going around in circles in our neighborhood. I've been reading about people who bike to work, and this seems to work well in a city.

Even in my own suburban office, right down my aisle are two people who ride their bicycles to work. But I don't think I could ride eleven miles each way to work. I do hope to see a lot of people on their bicycles though.

I love driving my car. But riding a bicycle really is something else!

It's fun, gliding down slopes, cruising around curves, puffing up hills.

It's slow, and you can look at the flowers in the yards and wave to people as you pass by (Theoretically. As a beginner, if I let go of my handlebar to wave, I'd be landing on my face.)

It's cheap, and all you have to feed it is some air. The only power source of the bike that needs to be refueled is yourself.

It's exercise, but it doesn't feel like punishment.

It's green. Whether you are pro-environment, or for some reason, against it, it feels good to have so much fun with so little guilt.

Now if only I could take my bike somewhere, and make it useful. I am still working on riding it well, before taking it out on missions. But if you have a bike, and if you live close to work, or close to somewhere you'd like to go, maybe you can take this chance to ride your bike there. It would be nice to put a lot of bikes on the road this week. It might remind people that bikes are fun, that they are everywhere and sharing the road with cars (watch out, and drive carefully!).

Here are some bicycle riding and safety tips.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Summy is a vegetarian, like Kiran and me. She knows that she is not supposed to eat meat at school, where they give her something meatless when everybody else is having meat or chicken.

She doesn't seem to mind it, though she probably gets curious sometimes. I had a lot of trouble explaining this vegetarianism to her.

First, I just told her we don't like to eat meat. By that, she must have assumed that it doesn't taste good. So when the topic of what others had for lunch came up, she would scrunch up her nose is say, "Yuck! Meat is icky, right?". I can't have her telling her friends their lunch is yucky while they're eating it.

So I expanded a little bit, carefully, and told her meat comes from animals. And we don't like to eat animals, even though there are others who do eat them. But it's still tough. And she'll probably still get in trouble if she tells her friends she doesn't like to eat animals. The kids might not be offended, but the parents might be.

It's actually the same dilemma that we grown-ups have, having to tell that we prefer to be vegetarian for "animal" reasons. From experience, it is hard to explain this without sounding uppity, without offending people, or without having them go defensive.

Luckily we have religion to the rescue. People will argue if we did it because we thought it was the right thing, but they'll let it pass if they think it's got anything to do with religion.

Summy has found an even better way. She came home one day and said "We are allergic to eat meat" as if she had it all figured out.

But this isn't just for meat - it's for everything that she doesn't like. For example, she now says she is "allergic to eat" bananas and chocolate (which, strangely, she doesn't like). The other day, her baby doll in her school cubby had to be replaced with another one, because the old baby doll was "allergic to being in a cubby".

How much before Summy becomes "allergic" to baths, to bedtimes and so on? I don't give it very long.

Expansion of Vocabulary

Ours, that is. We learn so many words from her, and we say them the way she says them.

When she was a year old, she used to say "booy booy" at the sight of any creature that moved. Ants were booy booys, birds were booy booys, dogs were booy booys. So we called everything booy booy too.

Then for a year or two, she said "lullow" instead of "yellow". That was so cute, how could we correct her? Instead, we started saying lullow ourselves (until she grew out of it and started correcting us "Yellow, not lullow.")

We still do this: "automakit"; "mostiquo"; "obvisly"; and so on. We get a little sad when she starts to say the cute words right.

No Worries

She learns all these things that her teachers say to the kids in school, and repeats them.

I guess when one of the kids in the class does something - say, puts paint in his hair - and the other kids complain to the teacher about it, the teacher says back - "Is he putting the paint in your hair?". When they answer "No", I guess the teacher says "Then don't worry about it."

Now she keeps saying this to me. Being bad with memory, I've already forgotten about a couple of instances, but this morning, I said that it looked like it was going to rain. She said, "Are you the raincloud? Then don't worry about it."

The way I put it, it seems flat now. But this morning when she said it, I laughed my head off.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mothers Day

To all moms who are reading this.

Special wishes to my own mother. We have always been friends, sung songs together, shopped, and laughed a lot. Love you so much, Amma.

For Mothers Day, Summy woke me up grinning, and gave me two beautifully hand-signed cards, and a large frame and an album full of pictures of her and us. Thank you so much, Summy bunch.

Kiran spent long nights picking out digital pictures (we haven't printed out any in two years), and snuck out to print them, frame them and album them, in order to give me a real surprise. Thank you so much, Kirru.

We went to IHOP and had a big brunch. They played together and let me go on a long bicycle ride by myself. Dinner was brought home. I was sent out to a movie with a fellow-mom to enjoy myself.

I feel pampered and happy.

Spiderman 3

I have so many usernames and passwords at work and otherwise, and the inevitable finally happened. I forgot a login.

Last week the username was in my head, this week it's been replaced by a new byte of information, probably the name of a minor character in Spiderman 3. So I don't have access to Kings and Cabbages, my other blog, any more. I can't post to it. People could put in cheeky or spam comments on it and I couldn't delete them. So I disown that blog for now.

So I'm writing about my movie experience here. Yesterday a friend and I went to the 8:30 show of Spiderman 3.

We were ten minutes late, and my friend really likes movie experiences to be whole, from the start of the trivia quiz to the very end of the movie. But I like my movie experiences to be wholesome too, which means I had to stop to get popcorn and soda. Anyway, we sneaked into the door that had the Spiderman poster next to it.

I have to say the movie had taken off to a fast and interesting start. Usually other multiplexes would still be running trailers at that time, but here we were deep into a plot already. We were a little lost about the story, but how much could we have missed in ten minutes?

My friend and I were quick to figure things out. Less than an hour into the movie, as the end credits were running up the screen, we smartly put things together and realized that we were probably in the wrong show.

It was the 7:00 show. We solved our whole movie problem by sneaking into the 9:45 showing of Spiderman, watching the trailers, and the movie right upto where we had seen it before, and left.

On the surface, it might seem that we were too incompetent to figure out the right theater. The tickets said room 9 - we read them upside down and went into 6. Actually, that isn't true. Room 6 was playing a different movie. But room 7 was playing Spiderman, and we figured that 7 was close enough and went into 7.

Thinking back, we were lucky we ever made it to the Multiplex, instead of driving to DSW Shoe Warehouse (which was right next door) and watching the shoes.

But the important thing is, we accidentally discovered the perfect way to watch Spiderman. The last hour. We knew enough from the Spiderman trailer to figure out what was going on, and it was short enough so we were not bored. Re-watching the first half of Spiderman added nothing to the entertainment, and it wasn't because we knew how it ended.

If we had to do it again, I would skip the first part of the movie, and see the last parts of one or two other movies instead, and make the most of it.

This has little to do with Chinuku and everything to do with my junk drawer "Kings and Cabbages", but here it goes temporarily.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ready to Read

Sameera read her first book, her long time favorite "Biscuit".

Recently she has been sitting with her books for more than 15 minutes at a time and "reading" them very intensely. Finally, yesterday, something in her head must have gone "click" and she realized she could read. Yesterday morning, she read the word "Apple" and said "Look, it's says 'APPLIE'! It has an e in the end!"

Last night, I started to read "Biscuit", but she put her little finger under the words and started to read them herself. She went on to the very last page with a little prompting from me, a little knowledge of phonics, and a little bit of guessing. (she can recite that book by rote anyway).

What a great feeling it must be, to be able to make sense of the words by herself. She read three more beginner reader books this morning, with prompting from me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First Bicycle Ride

I've looked forward to this for a long time, even dreamt about it. Finally, we got a new bicycle, and went off to the local school parking lot to practice. Kiran looked forward to teaching his girl how to ride a bicycle.

After an afternoon of practising, she took off onto the sidewalk and went for a ride in the neighborhood, all by herself.

And by she, I mean me :), because it wasn't Summy who was learning to ride this last Sunday, it was me.

I wasn't exactly learning to ride, because my father taught me this years ago, running behind me as I sped on a sloping road. But I never did get the confidence to go for rides by myself when I was smaller.

Kiran recently got himself a motorbike, and he's even riding it to work. He was having so much fun that I wanted to ride my own bicycle. This Sunday, after a quick refresher course by Kiran, I did go for a ride by myself around the local roads. It was great!

Summy, ofcourse, has her own bicycle with training wheels which she's been riding for a year. She's the athletic kind of girl (I've never been) and is good at this kind of thing.

So this week, in the national bike month, we became a family of bikers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I Spy A Cutie-Pie

After a cousin of mine told me about her daughter who played I Spy in the funniest ways, I tried it on Summy last night. I went first.

"I spy with my little eye, someone whose name starts with S"

"Me!!!!!" Summy said with pleasure.

"Your turn, Summy".

"I spy a clock!"

"No, no Summy. You can't tell me what it is, I have to guess. Like you can say I spy something round and white, and I guess the clock. If I can't guess, then you can give me a clue. Okay?"


"My turn again. I spy with my little eye something, that starts with the letter B".

"I don't know."

"Here's a clue: we sleep on it."


"You are right, Summy! Now your turn."

"I spy a door with my little round eye."


"That was a funny glue (clue). Ha ha ha ha"

The Mystery of The Male Woman

Was solved when Kiran told me what Summy was talking about, was the "MailWoman". :)

An Angel and a Two-headed Monster

This story starts about three months ago - when I told Summy to stop something naughty that she was doing (right now!). She was sitting on the floor and I was standing up tall next to her, and she rolled her eyes up to look at me. Only she rolled one eye way higher than the other and looked defiant.

Then she started to do this more often, mostly when she was defiant, and Kiran noticed it too. We kept telling her to stop it. Then one day, she gave me this look when I asked her to do something she really really didn't want to do - and then she warned, "Mama, I'll turn you into a two-head monster!"

So this is what she had been doing all this time! Making herself see double and turning us into two-headed monsters when she was not pleased with us.

But then we started to worry a little after we realized that she could not roll her left eye all the way up. (Note to any worried grandparents reading this :) It turned out later that there was nothing to worry about).

At her four-year checkup, we brought this worry up, and the doctor referred us to an eye doctor.

The eye doctor took a look at it yesterday, and said it happens when an oblique eye muscle is a little restricted so it doesn't let the eye move all the way up while looking up inwards. It's called Brown's Syndrome, and is virtually harmless. Summy simply compensates for it by lifting her head up instead of moving her eyes up.

Her vision was good in all ways though, and she did things exactly as she was asked to do. The doctor and the assistants praised her so much that she was walked out on air (and loaded with stickers and a lollipop).

These little physical anamolies are things that make us individuals just a little different from others. The little "quirks" also make me wonder at how many things have to come together perfectly to make our bodies work as they do.

I had a friend who could wiggle her ears, another who could wiggle her nose. I myself (ahem) have the "ability" to wiggle my little toe all by itself. Just so, Summy has the ability to make people two-headed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pictures at Four

Here she is on her birthday.

A month before she turned four

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring 2007

Before she got dressed this morning, Summy said, "But Mama, first we have check the diggery. We don't even know what diggery it is."

What was this "diggery"? The mystery was solved when she went to the computer. Oh, she wanted me to check today's temperature forecast, so she could decide whether she should dress warm or light.

It was 38 degrees (F), so she decided to put on a sweatshirt.

Her diggery of awareness of the seasons and the weather has increased a lot.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Still Counting His Blessings

This titbit is from Kiran:

Summy and Kiran were sitting next to each other on the couch. Summy was munching on a snack, and Kiran was working on his laptop. She sneezed a super-duper giant sneeze that sprayed the chewed food in her mouth on Kiran and his computer.

And then she said "Daddy, I blessed all over you."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Super Duper Cool

I think, she got this from her grandparents. Everything is either super-duper big, or super-duper cold, or super-duper yummy for this super-duper girl.

K for konfused

A confession: I've been trying to get Summy to learn to read for the past two years, even though I would never have admitted it. I'm for education with no pressure. I mean, what difference is it going to make in a couple of years whether she reads now or not?

But somehow, I expected her to be an early reader. I bought her leappads, workbooks, beginning reader books and so on.

It reminds me of the time when I was little and tried to teach my cat to sing: Sa re ga ma..... (sadly, this is not a joke. I even thought my cat was learning to sing, slowly but surely.)

Summy takes special pleasure in watching me trying to explain the rules of phonics to her. I'm a terrible teacher, though I didn't know that before.

So she says, "E says A? No, A says A."

I say "A says Ah."


"No, O says Oh."

There are a lot of sounds that I can't explain to her, but C and K are the best.

She says, "K for kat!"

I say, "No, C for cat!"

"K says kh! too."

"But C is for cat."



"C for ckitchen!"

And so on. She gets C and K wrong (or maybe, right) with a naughty smile everytime. "K for Kake", "C for Ckite", "K for Kandy" (Note to @: You involved in this?).

At this point, I give up. Her teachers will teach her when they teach her, and they'll teach her the right way. No big deal - if she doesn't learn to read in preskool, she will learn it in Ckindergarten.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Best Ears of our Lives

Sometimes I regret it that Summy is growing up too fast, but that's rare.
I see baby videos of her and want that innocence again, but then there is always something wonderful about the age she's at right at that moment.

I can't get enough of whatever adorable stage she is in at any time. She's young enough to have that cute little voice, and say innocent things and ask innocent questions in it.

She walks around with a cell phone to her ear and whispers"Shh! Don't interrupt. I'm talking to somebody and it's 'portant!"

When I ask her to move over to check my email at the computer, she says, "I'm very very very busy doing 'portant work. You can do the computer later, okay?"

When her Barlin' says she doesn't need three q-tips because she doesn't have three ears, she says, "Yes, I have three ears. In March I will have four ears." (She'll be four years, not four ears old in March, and is being a smart aleck).

I need to get a recorder and record some of the things she says, so I don't forget them thirty minutes later.

Summy Bunch

A few days ago, I stood in the middle of the house and yelled "Banana!" Summy answered, "Yes, Mama." Only when Kiran pointed it out did I realize that that was a little strange.

I call her so many different names that she answers to any name I call her. She instinctively knows when I'm talking about food, when I'm just talking to myself, and when I'm calling her.

I've called her "Banana Bunch", "Sweet Tomato", "Hunny Pie", "Potato Muffin", and lots of other things besides, and she just takes it sweetly.

But some names make her indignant. "Puppy" or "Kitten" offend her, and she says "I'm not a puppy. I'm Sameera!" Who knows why she doesn't mind being a pumpkin potato or a blueberry muffin, but considers Bunny or Kitten a slur?

Yesterday an uncle called her "Sammy". Not Summy (to rhyme with tummy), but Sammy (to rhyme with clammy). She said very seriously, "No, I'm not Sammy. Call me Sameera."

To her, adding "bunch" to anything makes it loving. She even asked me sometimes to call her "Honey Bunch" when she wants to feel reassured. She's called us "Mommy Bunch" and "Daddy Bunch" too.

Which reminds me of when she affectionately told me with a hug "You are my Darlin'." And then "Daddy is my Barlin' because he's a boy."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another Winter Activity

Little helper cuts up beans

I changed my tune...

There used to be a time when I used to sing grown-up songs when I felt like singing. Happy songs. Sad songs. Fast songs. Sentimental songs.

Yesterday I was singing "C'mon let's crawl - let's crawl - let's crawl" when Kiran walked by.

"Let's crawl???" He said.

"To the ugly bug ball - to the ball - to the ball" I answered.

This is what I sing now - "The Ugly Bug Ball". But this is one of the cute ones. It could be sillier, and know what, it is.

Some of the most ridiculous songs (I mean no offense - they're fine for Summy to sing, but very odd if I'm found singing them when I'm alone) I found myself singing:

"We are string beans, green and fine,
Green and fine, green and fine.
We are green beans, green and fine.
Growing on a leafy vine."

or this one:

"Today is Monday - today is Monday
All day long - all day long
Yesterday was Sunday - tomorrow is Tuesday
Oh what fun - oh what fun"

(What fun, indeed)

But the silliest (and cheesiest) one ever was a jingle that I particularly disliked, heard years and years ago, and couldn't get out of my head. I heard it way before Summy was born. I accidentally sang a line of it one day, and Summy loved and wanted me to sing it again and again and again. Here it is:

"Alouette - tasty Alouette
Alouette - ready-to-serve cheese
If you have a party night
Choose the cheese that must delight
Party Night
Must Delight
Alouette - tasty Alouette
Alouette - ready-to-serve cheese"

The Challenger

Last night, as Summy prepared to brush her teeth, she threw me what she apparently thought was a challenge. She said she wanted to use the grown-up toothpaste.

Possibly, she envisioned me saying "No", her insisting, me putting my foot down, and her defying me.

But I said "Okay."

Now that I think back about it, she seemed let down ("How is this fun if I'm allowed to do it?"). She prodded me.

"But you said it was too karam (spicy) for me."

"It's a little stronger than your kid toothpaste, but you can use it if you want. Only a little tiny bit. Mama has to put it on your toothbrush though."

Here was a chance to challenge again. She took it.

"No! I want to do it!"

My answer was very unsatisfying: "Okay."

She looked dully at the adult toothpaste. It had lost all its charm. "Where is the sport in life?", she must have been thinking.

"Here, I don't want it.", she said, and put the toothpaste back on the counter.

Who knows how many other times she'd been picking little tiffs with me on purpose, and I fell for it?

Score: 1 for Mama. 253 for Summy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Then and Now

Sick Day

Some of my best memories of childhood are of getting pampered on sick days.

Here is Summy on a sick day two weeks ago - watching Blue's Clues and chilling out in her igloo. She even got me to join her in the tent later!

(Yes, Mommyof2, it's the same tent.)

Dora Vs. Dora

Summy put on her new Dora slippers on our way home from the store today. The Dora slippers were having a conversation in voices that resembled Summy's.

Left Slipper (I presume): Oh, look, you have the same hair as me!

Right Slipper: Yeah, and the same eyes too!

LS: And the same pink shirt!

RS: And the same skirt!

LS: We match!

RS: We are both Doras!


LS: How bout you can be Boots!

RS: No, you be Boots!

LS: No, you!

RS: No, you!

I now have a new idea for a pair of slippers that has Dora on the one foot and Boots on the other one. Or how about Tom on one foot and Jerry on the other? The feet would have so much fun chasing around the house.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Finding Nemo

Yesterday all three of us watched this movie again together. All of us love it. Summy asked me for explanations, especially when the whale swallowed Nemo's dad and Dory (who are trying to find Nemo) in order to take them to Sydney, where Nemo was (and if you haven't seen this movie, you're all at sea here).

I always wanted to see Australia, so after the movie was done I asked Summy rhetorically, "Would you like to go to Sydney?"

She thought about this before saying yes. That was not expected because usually she is eager to see new places. Then we found the reason for her hesitation when she added,

"But not in a whale."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Playtime - Toys optional

It was not any of the toys she received for Christmas that kept Summy occupied for a whole hour the other day. It was stale mini-muffins from the fridge.

It was her baby doll's birthday. The mini-muffin was the cake. We put her last year's birthday candle on it, lit it, blew it out, made a wish. Sang Happy Birthday (dear baby).

Then she helped "baby" cut the cake, got out her tea set, and served Kiran and me (and the rest of the doll family) cake and "juice" (water, which spilled on the floor, causing her to spend ten minutes wiping up her spill, the table, the chairs, and the doll, just in case).

Then, she put some magazine cutouts in a little box, wrapped it up with old magazine pages, put a bow on it and made baby a present. Then the baby got to open the present.

After it was all done, we got another stale muffin and started all over again. The next day, we had a party again.

Though there are some toys that Summy enjoys, most games don't involve big toys. Some things that keep her occupied for a long long time:
  1. Cleaning. A wet rag with which to wipe the fridge, the floor, anything. Then a dry rag to dry everything up.
  2. Scissors. The thing most used by Summy in the last two years is her little blue pair of scissors. Just have to watch and make sure she doesn't cut up Time before we've read it.
  3. Dishes. It can be her play dishes or real ones that are unbreakable - but she puts her stepstool at the sink and washes the dishes over and over until they sparkle.
  4. Washing. In the tub, Summy likes to wash her clothes in a bucket sometimes (the way we did in India). Next Summer I can imagine her washing doll clothes outside and hanging them up.
  5. Pretend People. Usually with little finger sized dolls, but as I mentioned before, these are not necessary. The people can be anything from pens to real fingers. These people take baths and put out fires and save each other and eat pizza and go on forever.

If you're reading this and have a tot, what entertains yours the most on a cold winter day?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


The previous post reminded me - When Summy's eyes water, she says "My eyes are melting." I find that cute, but apt in a way. When her eyes fill with tears, they sure melt my heart.

Water Scarcity

The other night she stubbed her toe against something, but not hard. Out of habit, she started to cry. After about a minute of loud wails and dry eyes, she stopped crying and said in a normal cheerful voice:

"Mama, are my tears all gone?"

I guess she can usually bring out tears on demand, so when she couldn't, she was surprised. Now I'm onto you, Summy :)

Parenting Advice from the Expert

Yesterday, I was trying to get Summy to take a bath, and she was stalling ("No, But I don't want to take a bath right now.").

"You said you'd take a bath after you played with the computer. Take a bath and I'll play downstairs with you. If you don't, I can't play with you because you'll be stinky. So come on."

She watched me with an amused smile through this speech, and after I was done she said:

"You have to say 'It's not a choice.', Mama". (!!!!!!!)

I said, "Okay, It's not a choice, Summy. You have to take a bath", and then Kiran and Summy and I all laughed.

I've never said this to her before, she must have heard it in school.

Advice straight from the horse's mouth - and it worked too. She did listen that time.