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01.08.2014
My second little baby – sometimes ignored, sometimes spoiled. Always being crushed by Didi’s enthusiastic hugs. Growing up quietly day by day without our even realising it. Today you are are a year old. Today I find it hard to remember how we were when you were not here. You made me realise that being a mother is not so very hard after all. You became a year old without a fuss. Just keep being the lovable, squishable baby that you are.
Happy First Birthday Niki!

23.07.2104
Middle of the night, something makes me open my eyes. Only to see a baby face inches from mine giggling in (holy or unholy?) delight. Happens at least twice a week. But still my heart stops for a second each time.
I ignore him and try to go back to sleep. Sometimes it works. Sometimes stage two happens – pulling Mumma’s hair, poking little fingers into Mumma’s eyes, nose, mouth. If this doesn’t work, stage three always does. Try and climb over Mumma and dive head first onto the floor.
Sleep, I thought our breakup was supposed to be over by now?

21.07.2014
Anna (while hugging me tightly): Mumma, I love you sooo much.
Me (metling into a puddle of mush): I love you too sweetie.
Anna is following me around the house trying to hang onto my legs.
Me (a bit exasperated): Anna why are you following me?
Anna: Because I love you.
Melting again.
Anna: Mumma do you know how much I love you? Thiiiis much (spreading her arms as wide as she can).
Melting again and again.
The fabulous fours! I am loving it .

30.06.2014
Anna (to R): Papa mujhe tennis khelna hai, cricket racquet se.
R: ???
What she really wanted to play – Badminton.

14.06.2014
A house full of toys. But both of them still manged to fight over an old, torn sticker. Stupid babies. Or maybe stupid Mommy. We should stop buying over priced Fisher Price stuff and just ask everyone to donate whatever old, broken stuff they have.

15.05.2014
Four years ago, you were a tiny little baby. Today you are a big sister. The past year was both the most fun and the most difficult. Going to a proper school, getting used to a tiny little being who takes up a lot of your parents’ attention, spending 3 months in a new city with yet another new school and no Papa, coming back to Bangalore and getting used to Mumma going to office again after a long time, getting used to sharing your life with the little being who got older and naughtier and more demanding, showing so much love and concern for him (Didi aa rahi hai Niki, ro mat). I am so proud of you for the maturity and intelligence which seems far more than could be possible for a four year old. The tantrums and screaming and whining are still not gone – which is good otherwise we would forget how small you actually are.
Happy fourth birthday Anna!

02.05.2014
His eyes light up the minute he sees her. She can just say something random like ‘pink hat’ and he bursts out laughing. She just has to be in the same room for him to keep looking at her. It’s her kitchen set he most wants to play with (rattles are so boring Mumma).
She was a very demanding and active baby. He is relatively laid back and easy to handle.
She did everything super fast – rolled over at 4 months, said ‘mama’ at six months, crawled at seven months, walked at 11 months, was talking in full sentences before she was two.
He rolled over at six months, said ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ at 8 months, and at 9 months old the lazy little bum is still happy in just one place.
They are both so perfect – and they are mine . Watching them together – pure bliss!

21.04.2014
Anna recently got a tattoo painted on at a birthday party. She has since then been obsessed with tattoos.
Sample conversation:
Anna: I want a tattoo.
Me: You can’t get one everyday.
Anna: Lekin mera bohot mann hai.
Me: You can’t get one. No more discussion.
Repeat above 100 times.
I just hope we don’t start having this conversation again once she’s sixteen.

 

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Niki’s Birthday

I know I am late – by a full 3 weeks. Anyway, my little baby turned ONE year old on the 1st of August and I am still in shock. I no longer have a ‘baby’ in my house. There is an pre-kindergartner  and a toddler. No more babies in my house ever again. Sniff sniff.

Stuff he’s up to – crawling like a pro, walking from one end of the room to the other (though walking is still not the preferred mode of transport and he needs to be coaxed to do it), running full speed just holding onto one finger for support, 5 teeth out and more on the way, recognizing loads of stuff and the two big things – slowly learning to talk and loving to be ‘read’ to. He still doesn’t have any words other than Mumma and Umba (for the maid) but is making loads of new sounds. He points to something he wants and says ‘buche’. He points to where he wants to go and says ‘udhe’. Ask him ‘lion kaise bolta hai’ and he growls. He loves, loves, loves everything electric/electronic. One of his favourite activities is to be taken to a switch board and switch on and off the lights. He toggles the switch and looks around each time to see the light going on/off. Musical toys are still the best and he has an instinctive understanding of which buttons to press, even in the more complicated ones which used to belong to Anna (when she was older than he is now) and which she never played with.

For the past few weeks he’s really picked up an interest in books and I am so thrilled. When Anna was a baby I always used to hope that she’d love reading as much as I do and she’s right on track to being an avid reader. With Niki I never hoped – maybe because he’s the second baby and I usually stay more in the moment with him knowing all too well how fleeting these moments are and also because having ‘two’ babies who like books seemed too good to be true. It’s just the beginning and I don’t know if we will grow up to be a reader or not but he is showing interest now and that makes me so happy. He loves sitting in my lap and flipping through his board books. When he first started picking up the books some time ago he would get really frustrated with them and start yelling and then throw them away. We figured out that maybe he’s angry because he turns the pages and presses the pictures but (unlike his toys) nothing happens. No music plays, no lights come up. Then we started telling him what was on the pages but it had to be a running commentary or else the yelling would start again. Now he seems to have understood what books are about and sits and sees the pictures and turns the pages. Dear Zoo is his favourite and he’s already managed to tear/fold some of the flaps unlike his careful sister whose book it originally was.

His birthday was pretty low key. My father had come over for a week (and then he and Mummy left – sob sob) and we’d called over some guests a couple of days before his birthday and were still eating the leftovers (including cake). So I got just one pastry and stuck candles on it and Anna and my brother’s daughter blew them out and cut the cake. We all went out for lunch the following Sunday (including my brother/cousins and our many children) and all the kids enjoyed themselves. Niki liked it too since there was a big garden and he got to walk around a lot. He was cranky by the time we cut the cake and went to sleep 5 minutes after that so the cake cutting pictures mostly feature him with an almost crying face.

He is an overall serious baby. He does laugh and play a lot but his default expression is a serious and slightly suspicious one so other people specially think that he’s an angry young man. Which he isn’t actually. Till now he’s been pretty low maintenance – plays by himself, doesn’t give too much trouble in eating, sleeps a decent amount and at good times, became a year old without my even realising it! In fact he was really sick this past week (an extreme case of hand foot and mouth disease) and still ate a bit, took his medicines without too much fuss and played whenever he felt better.

Here is what I had put on Facebook for his birthday-
My second little baby – sometimes ignored, sometimes spoiled. Always being crushed by Didi’s enthusiastic hugs. Growing up quietly day by day without our even realising it. Today you are are a year old. Today I find it hard to remember how we were when you were not here. You made me realise that being a mother is not so very hard after all. You became a year old without a fuss. Just keep being the lovable, squishable baby that you are.
Happy First Birthday NIki!

Twelve months of Niki

 niki collage

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Almost a year old

In less than a month Niki will be a year old. My last little baby. There will be no more babies in my house. Sniff sniff. When Anna was his age I used to really look forward to her growing up, to the new milestones, the new achievements. And I have actually enjoyed her much more once she started walking and talking and doing the super smart and super cute things she does. But Niki is my Baby, the one who I don’t want to grow up so fast, the one I want to keep small enough to squish and squeeze and just keep inhaling his baby awesomeness. I’ve never ‘tracked’ any of his milestones, I haven’t fretted much over him, in fact we have been typical second time parents – letting him grow up on his own. We haven’t clicked so many pictures, I don’t share so many updates about him on Facebook, but we have enjoyed him so very, very much.

He’s almost walking now. He can cruise comfortably holding onto something and now needs only one finger to hold onto to walk well. His walking speed has really gone up too. Whenever he wants to go somewhere he’ll just take hold of a finger of the nearest person, say unh-unh-unh to the tune of ‘This old man’ and take off, leaving the said person scrambling behind him. He’s just not happy in one place any longer and wants to keep going around the house. He’s also really fascinated with the cupboards and drawers and stops when he crosses them and tries to open them. I have a feeling we’ll really need to baby proof this time around. He takes the lead while walking and goes in the direction he wants to. Gone are the days when we used to hold his hands and make him walk. He’s even started crawling a bit though he doesn’t like it much and only does it to go from one end of the carpet to the other to fetch some toy. If he wants to go further than that he’ll put up his hands and say unh-unh-unh. Meaning take my hand and help me walk.

He almost has one tooth now. His teeth are coming out even later than Anna’s. The bottom right tooth has broken the skin and is peeping out but is yet to fully come out. His eating habits are still good though not as good as I’d mentioned in the last update. He’s become really fussy about fruits and usually won’t eat more than a few bites a day. He even needs to be coaxed to finish his 2 ounces of juice. Current menu is bread/oats/scrambled egg for breakfast, fruit and juice after his morning nap, khichdi and dahi for lunch and sooji or daal-roti for dinner. In addition he’ll occasionally have a biscuit if he’s hungry. He also still wants to at least take a bite of whatever anyone else is eating. Yesterday I’d made pasta for Anna’s tiffin and tried to feed it to him for breakfast but he refused and had his oats instead. In the evening when I was eating the leftovers he insisted on tasting and then eating quite a good amount. Silly baby :). He drinks his formula without fuss, a bottle before his morning and afternoon naps and then 2-3 bottles at bedtime and through the night. We’ll be starting him on cow’s milk soon and hopefully he’ll like it. Anna recently became very fond of first custard-jelly and then just jelly. We used to make it every few days since there is very little stuff which she really likes. Niki used to see her eating the jelly and so we gave him a taste one day and he went crazy over it. After that whenever Anna was eating it he had to be either taken out of the room or given some for himself.

He’s started understanding quite a lot of stuff now. Correctly looks at various things in the house like fan, light, balcony (on being asked ‘pigeon kahan aata hai?’), painting, ball, eyes/nose/mouth etc. He gets so very excited when we come home and the latest person in has to pick him up. If R comes after me then he’s not happy even with me and keeps protesting till R doesn’t pick him up. He’s also started really playing with Anna. He gets excited and starts jumping the minute he sees her or hears her. Today morning Anna got up early and came to our bed and they really played nicely together for around half an hour. One more special thing he does is shake his head sideways vigorously as if saying no. He’s been doing this since he was a few months old. It looks really funny and people used to be quite surprised to see such a small baby shaking his head. I don’t think he used to do it to say no but a lot of the time he’d shake his head when he’d had enough to eat and didn’t want more.

Sleep is decent. Till 3-4 days ago he was taking two 1-1.5 hour naps a day. Then he’d go to sleep around 7:30 and get up for the day at around 5:30-6 (sometimes even earlier) and also get up 3-4 times in the night for the bottle/paci. He’s dropped his afternoon nap for the past 3 days. I don’t know whether this is temporary or he’s settling down to one nap a day. Anna was around 13-14 months old when she dropped her morning nap. The problem is that because he’s not sleeping in the afternoon he’s really sleepy in the evenings and is going down for the night just before 7. So he’s getting up a bit earlier in the mornings and is desperate for his morning nap by 8:30 (he is usually asleep by 9:15). If he’s really down to one nap then we need to try and delay the morning nap to at least 10 so he sleeps till 12 and is less sleepy in the evening.

He’s babbling a lot. He keeps making sounds and the favourites are mamama or ummaa. The maid who does the cleaning is called Uma and seems to be his favourite person in the whole world. Maybe because she is the person who gives him the least ‘bhaav’. She smiles at him and occasionally picks him up but she’s mostly busy with her work. The minute he sees her he starts off with his umma-umma and keeps looking at her all the time. He also says ta-ta-ta and unh-unh-unh to the tune of ‘This old man’ a lot. Says ba and waves his hand sometimes when someone says bye to him. Ask him to do peekaboo and he puts one hand on his head.

He doesn’t like the car much. Going out with him is tougher than it was with Anna. She used to mostly fall asleep in the car but Niki rarely does. He’ll keep jumping and pulling my hair and in general makes sure that we don’t get too comfortable. Even once we’ve reached he won’t be happy in his stroller (even though he sits happily in it for his evening outing), or our arms and keeps diving down to get on the floor.

Here he is, drinking tea. The minute he sees us drinking tea he tries his best to get his face into the cup. We usually let him take pretend sips once the we’ve drunk off a bit and it’s a bit cooler and then let him have the cup to play with once it’s finished. At which point he’ll either lose interest in it or try and bang it against something.

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Working mom

The Bride has written a very interesting post on returning back to work post-baby and I had so much to say about it that I decided to write a full post instead of flooding her comments section.

I had always wanted kids and I had always thought that I would stay home with them. Because how would anyone else in the world take care of my little baby the way I could? How would I ever trust someone with the life of my precious little one? This was before we had Anna and as I’ve mentioned many times before I was totally clueless about motherhood. I had very romantic notions in my head about staying home and caring for my baby and loving every wonderful second of it.

By the time Anna was born I had mostly given up the idea of staying at home, I was doing well in my job and being a working woman had slowly become a big part of my identity. I had 12 weeks of maternity leave and had planned on taking 2 months more from my accumulated paid leave. But soon after the 12 weeks were up I got an SOS call from office asking me to join back since a guy had quit and there was an important project going on. So I worked from home for one month (I was at my parents’ place at that time) and then joined back. It was really, really tough. Anna refused to drink formula, there was no place to pump in office and no place to keep the pumped milk, I used to pump morning-evening and feed her when I was at home but as I’ve mentioned here it wasn’t so easy. I used to come back home around 3 to feed her and try to work from home, but work from home doesn’t suit me at all. Plus the project was very hectic and I was slowly losing my mind.

Things came to a head when Mummy left and R’s mom came to stay with us. I am extremely grateful to her for giving up the comforts of her home and coming to stay with us to take care of Anna, but it just wasn’t the same for me. I used to try and be 100% there for Anna once I was back from office and it just wasn’t working out. I would have work left to do, would keep getting calls form office and it started getting out of control. So I decided to quit. I really didn’t want to because ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’ has somehow become something I believe in. But I couldn’t see any other option. I though I’d take six months off and then apply somewhere with a big team so the work wouldn’t be that aggressive. I called my parents and they were quite upset but I had made up my mind. Mummy kept telling me to hang on till she came back but I was just fed up and wanted out. I talked to my manager the next day and she spent a good one hour counseling me and convinced me to take 2 months off and then decide. I agreed and worked from home for around a month more to finish whatever was on my plate and then stayed at home for two months. By then Mummy had also come again to stay with us and the break had given me time and space to really think and decide that I didn’t want to quit after all. My parents also didn’t want me to give up and assured me of as much support from them as I needed. By then Anna was also around 9 months old and easier to handle. I was able to stay till 5 in office, the project had finished and the work was no longer as hectic so things settled down.

Before Mummy left, we kept a maid to look after Anna. I know a lot of people don’t think it’s a good idea to leave a baby alone at home with a maid but we thought over this decision a lot and tried to make sure in many ways that Anna was being treated well and things have turned out well till now (touch wood). Now again Mummy is due to leave in less than a month and we have 2 maids to look after Anna and Niki. There is always a sliver of fear in my thoughts, I do worry about the kids but I am mostly very comfortable with the current arrangement and hope it remains this way. There is a lot more to say on this topic but I will stop here for now.

During my pregnancy with Niki I used to again think about quitting. But that was more because of the extreme work pressure at that time. Even people without kids were cracking and so this didn’t have so much to do with ‘baby stuff’. Luckily this time around I managed to get my 5 months off. I was also more experienced and so didn’t struggle so much when I joined back. I did end up leaving that job but that is a different story. Also in the 6 months since I have been working after my maternity leave, work has never been hectic so life is comparatively easy.

Overall I’m really happy that I’m a ‘working mom’. I don’t think I would be happy at home full-time, we’re financially quite comfortable because of the double income, I really cherish the time I do spend with the kids and since my life only revolves around home and office (I know, I am one of those sad people who have no social life :P) I don’t feel that I don’t spend much time with them. I guess if I stayed with them full time it would be better for them but that’s assuming that I’d be the same person I am now. We’ve also been really lucky in terms of help from our parents. Our mothers took turns to stay with Anna till she was fifteen months old and Niki will also be a year old when Mummy leaves.

There is always a good portion of guilt in my mind because I am not bringing up my babies on my own. A good part of their day is spent without me. They do things which I only get to hear about. But one thing I have realized is that this is one area in which I can never be fully happy. Whatever I decide, I will regret/miss the things I cannot have. So I try my best, try to make sure that my babies know how much their love consumes me, try to make sure that they don’t pay too high a price for my career, try to not spoil them even though my guilt wants me to compensate for the time not spent with them, and also I try to be sincere in the work I do.

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Niki’s Mundan

In both our families we have the tradition of the ‘mundan’ – the baby’s head is shaved either in the first year or in the third year. My family is mostly very non-traditional. We don’t follow many rituals and nor do I see very religious people. Most people do believe in God (something which I am struggling with more and more with everyday) but nobody is interested in big pujas or observing too many fasts or customs or things like that.

R’s family is pretty traditional. They are Brahmins and I can see the pride they feel in that. People there put a huge store in puja-path and going to temples and praying for hours etc. His parents are not that extreme and that is something I am really thankful for.

For Anna, R’s mom had told us an auspicious date (around the time she turned nine months old) and said that we could get it done however we wanted since the mundan is not a big deal for girls. We simply called the barber at home and he shaved her head. It was a relatively painless experience, she did howl but we quickly bathed her once it was done and she was fine.

For Niki, I had wanted to do the same but knew it wouldn’t be so easy. The mundan for a boy is a big deal in their community. Everyone is invited and there’s a big puja and a huge lunch or dinner. People usually stay 2-3 days. The topic of his mundan came up for the first time when we were visiting R’s parents in December. They wanted to do the mundan in their hometown where R’s grandmother and uncles and aunts live. That would have meant a huge function. I agreed because we have never gone there and I know that we do need to make the trip at least once. But the truth is that I dread going there. R’s extended family is extremely traditional and their expectations from a ‘bahu’ are something I can never meet and nor do I have any desire or inclination to do so.

The topic came up again when R’s mom came to stay with us in March. His dad had recently been transferred and there was no way he could take the one week off which would be required to travel to the hometown and have the function there. I was also joining a new job in April and couldn’t take off more than a couple of days. So R’s mom said we should have his mundan after he’s two. For some reason the kid’s head cannot be shaved between one to two years. I was really upset. First of all I don’t see much point in the mundan at all. Everyone says it helps the hair to grow better but then there are people all over the world who don’t have such customs and their hair is just fine. Then I really really didn’t want to wait till he’s two to shave his hair. We wouldn’t be able to cut his hair till then, even if it grew really long we’d have to just let it grow and I think it would be more difficult to hold down a two plus child than a less than a year old.

So I resisted. I told her that I don’t have any problem with doing it in any place but I really want it done before his first birthday. She was a bit upset initially because there was no way we could have a big function before August but later somehow she agreed. We decided to get it done in Tirupathi and have just immediate family in attendance. That’s what I love about R’s mom. She’s really practical and is ready to adjust. In fact later she was really in favour of our decision vs the one of having a big function. She’s also had a lot of problems with ‘her’ inlaws and doing it in the hometown would have meant loads of politics and drama and it would have meant an expense of easily 3-4 lakhs. And for what? To please people who don’t care about us, who only want to show off the BIG Indian family and its’ traditions, who only care about power over the ‘sons’ of the family.

R’s parents did have to face quite some complaints from the family. Demands to call so-and-so and invite them. But they handled everything and stayed firm. They had to face a lot of flak because of something R and I wanted (or rather didn’t want). I really respect them a lot for this. R’s mom kept saying that since we weren’t inviting anybody (including my brother who lives next door) then there was no way we could invite a few ‘special’ people. She also agreed to have Niki’s head shaved rather than just having all the hair cut off. In their community the boy baby’s head is not shaved at the mundan but at the thread-ceremony which happens much later. She said that since we were getting it done in Tirupati which is such a holy place we should let them do it as is the custom there.

We had planned his mundan for a date when R’s mom  was due to leave and Mummy was going to come. So all of us went to Tirupati and R’s dad joined us there. The barber came to the guesthouse and shaved Niki’s head. Niki surprisingly didn’t cry at all. He was asleep in the beginning but even when he got up he was fine. He only cried in the very end when the barber applied dettol to his head. We went for ‘darshan’ after that (R’s dad had arranged for a VIP darshan so we were done in an hour). Then there was a small puja in the guesthouse and we were done. R’s parents went back to Hyderabad (R’s dad is posted there currently) and we came back to Bangalore with Mummy.

It all turned out to be much better than I had initially expected. This is something which will keep coming up over the years and I will have to decide how to handle this stuff. I don’t want to have ANY difference in the way we (or anyone else) treat Anna and Niki. They are both babies and they are both equal. This is a topic I think a lot about so more on this later.

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Bloggy stuff

All the posts I had put up till yesterday were uncategorized and untagged. Then somehow yesterday I ended up tagging the post and realized that this is something I should have been doing all along. So I just spent around an hour categorizing and tagging ALL my posts (there aren’t that many :().

I also ended up reading all the old posts and it felt so good. When I started this blog three years ago I didn’t know if I’d put up even a single post. I used to love reading blogs but writing one had always seemed like too much effort. Plus I used to think that I most probably wouldn’t even have anything to write about.

I haven’t blogged much but I have written around 90 posts and it’s not so bad. I do wish I had written more and going ahead I’m really going to try and be more regular here. The past couple of years specially have very few posts and the biggest reason is that I was overwhelmingly busy with work. I’m in a new job now and there is a lot I want to write about my experiences in the past two years. In fact here’s a list of the things I want to write in the next few weeks -

1) The work experiences mentioned above.
2) More about Niki and the stuff he does. I so enjoyed reading about Anna at his age.
3) More about Anna and the type of child she is now. She is no longer a baby and so the ‘milestones’ and such aren’t as important as all that goes on in her head.
4) All the random stuff I keep thinking and writing in the blog that is my head.

I’m really happy that I did decide to start this blog. The stuff written here is so precious to me and hopefully I will keep adding to it.

This blog is still very private. R knows that I write but he has never read this blog. He did ask me a few times when I started writing here but I didn’t give him the link and somehow he never persevered. I don’t have any ‘problem’ in him reading this stuff – it’s just that the day I know that he or someone else I am close to is going to read what I’m writing it will to some extent affect what I write. Till now this place is more like a personal diary than a blog. That’s the reason I keep it pseudo-anonymous. If someone I know stumbles across the link they can easily figure out who I am and I’m okay with that. I just don’t want someone to google my name and land up here.

Thank you bloggy dear. Hopefully one day Anna and Niki and R will read you and love you as much as I do.

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My FOUR year old!

Anna is now FOUR years old. All that is coming into my mind right now are cliches, so I guess I’ll not say anything about that now and try again later :).

We finally had a big birthday party this year. We had a family lunch for her first birthday and then had parties at home for her friends in the apartment for the last two years. This year I wasn’t in the mood to put in the effort plus Niki’s ‘mundan’ was on the 12th so I wouldn’t get that much time to prepare plus we’d been to quite a few parties in the past few years and wanted to call many more people than could be called at home. We did make it a point to invite only people with kids since it was Anna’s party so that did cut down the list a bit. We ultimately chose a place that was above budget but then again we’re not planning on throwing another party for at least another four years so that should be okay. There were around 45 adults and 25 kids, food was good, decor was just loads and loads of balloons, cake was fresh pineapple with Peppa Pig and her little brother George. Anna loved it! I’m glad we didn’t do this for her first birthday since it would have meant nothing to her then. She really enjoyed all the attention and kept saying that ‘this is the best birthday ever!’. Niki really enjoyed himself and didn’t get too cranky even though he skipped his nap. He really is a foodie and managed to eat almost as much of the party food as Anna did even after eating the lunch I had packed and brought for him.

I did feel a bit guilty about taking the ‘easy’ way out and not having the party at home, but the party turned out to be great. The kids enjoyed themselves, we got to catch up with people we hadn’t met in ages and I was able to get all dressed up and wear heels and enjoy myself. Next year we’ll go back to having the party at home but it was nice to be able to just show up and not have to do anything at all :).

Here is what I had put up on Facebook on her birthday-
Four years ago, you were a tiny little baby. Today you are a big sister. The past year was both the most fun and the most difficult. Going to a proper school, getting used to a tiny little being who takes up a lot of your parents’ attention, spending 3 months in a new city with yet another new school and no Papa, coming back to Bangalore and getting used to Mumma going to office again after a long time, getting used to sharing your life with the little being who got older and naughtier and more demanding, showing so much love and concern for him (Didi aa rahi hai Niki, ro mat). I am so proud of you for the maturity and intelligence which seems far more than could be possible for a four year old. The tantrums and screaming and whining are still not gone – which is good otherwise we would forget how small you actually are.
Happy fourth birthday Anna!

Fun with balloons!

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Cutting the cake for her ‘home birthday party’.

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I still find it difficult to believe that my little baby is now four years old. Four year olds are BIG kids. They go to school, they talk properly and understand stuff, they are smart, they can’t be distracted or fooled so easily, they remember stuff, they actually play with their friends, they very rarely cry when Mumma or Papa leaves, they always want you to bring ‘something’ for them, they eat on their own, they don’t start crying when they wake up in the middle of the night, they hug and kiss you a million times on their own, they say ‘I love you Mumma sooo much’, they can go to toilet on their own, they don’t ‘need’ you quite so much as they did last year.

My sweetest Anna,
I don’t have words to tell you how much Papa and I love you and how very proud of you we are. You’re such a delightful child – cute and bubbly, intelligent and smart, loving and sensitive. Sometimes you push us too far, behave rudely, answer back and in general make sure that our lives aren’t too easy. But that’s okay sweetheart. No matter how much we shout or scold you or punish you, we love you just the same. We love you with the same heart-stopping intensity when you’re having a tantrum as we do when you’re hugging us or doing something really creative or smart.
Our expectations from you are very high and we know that you have it in you to meet them. So we will keep trying our best to make sure that you become the best little girl that you can be – loving, well-mannered, respectful, sincere, hard-working, truthful, brave. May you be all that and much more.
I love you more than I can ever tell you.
-Mumma

 

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The Second Born Tag

I had tagged myself with The First Born Tag for Anna. Niki isn’t my first born but I’m tagging myself again :).

1. WAS YOUR PREGNANCY PLANNED?  Yes. I’ve blogged about it here.
2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Yes. No scandal :)
3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? Excitement. We were successful in the first try and so I was a bit surprised too.
4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? No.
5. HOW OLD WERE YOU? 29
6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? I wasn’t even late but had a feeling. I had vomited a couple of days before that after drinking tea in the morning and I was suspicious so took the test.
7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? I somehow initially wanted to keep it a secret for a few days but ended up telling R at night that day. I was thinking of sending him an email but the internet was not working on that day of all days so I sent him an SMS saying that I am pregnant. He wad shocked :).
8. DUE DATE? 10th August 2013
9. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? Yes. Everyday for almost 4 months. Specially after drinking tea or brushing my teeth
10. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? No cravings this time too.
11. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? Nothing irritated me as such but there was too much pressure/stress work wise so I used to be quite stressed out and upset because of that.
12. WHAT WAS YOUR CHILD’S SEX? A boy.
13. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? No. R and I were both sure that we were having another girl and were happy with that. When it turned out to be a boy we were still happy.
14. HOW MANY POUNDS DID YOU GAIN THROUGHOUT THE PREGNANCY? 11 kgs. 15. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? Yes.
16. WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? Almost a surprise. I didn’t know till the last day when I was insisting on going to office (it was a Saturday) and not to the lunch R wanted to take me to. He had to finally tell me that it’s my baby shower to stop me from going to office.
17. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? Thankfully no.
18. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? Bangalore.
19. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? Around 12 hours.
20. WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL/BIRTH CENTER? R.
21. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? R and the attending doctors and nurses.
22. WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? Natural.
23. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? No. I begged for an epidural but by then it was too late.
24. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 3.45 Kgs
25. WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN ? 9:25 am on 1st August 2013.
26. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN THE DOCTOR ANNOUNCED THE SEX OF THE BABY? They put Niki on my tummy and said it’s a boy. I burst into tears, I was just so glad that the baby was out. The labour had been so bad, that I didn’t care about the sex of the baby at that point.
27. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST REACTION ON SEEING THE BABY? I didn’t feel anything for the first half hour after he was born. I have blogged about it here.
28. DID YOU CRY OR LAUGH? Cried
29. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Niki.
30. HOW OLD IS YOUR SECOND BORN TODAY? 10 months old.

My pregnancy with Niki was very different from Anna’s. It was planned but it was more difficult – I had morning  sickness, was very tired in the first trimester, had severe heart burn in the third trimester, had a very tough delivery. I was busy with Anna, busy with work so the pregnancy took a back seat most of the time. I used to think about it quite a lot but didn’t pay much attention to my body or the baby growing there beyond touching my belly frequently, forgot to eat my medicines a lot of the time, didn’t take much rest etc etc. Luckily things turned out fine and I have my second born – my sweet little Niki :).

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Niki’s tales

Niki is almost 10 months old now. It really is true that time flies when you’re having fun. I am so so happy that we decided to have a second baby :). All my fears were mostly unfounded and the blessings have been far greater than I imagined.

Niki is a funny baby. R and I always say that even when he cries we feel like laughing because he looks so funny. He has one particular trick which he does when he’s very excited which always makes us laugh. R calls it his ‘auto’ look – he makes an O of his mouth, rolls his eyes from side to side and moves his hands as if he’s driving an auto. In fact he moves his hands a lot and also jumps a lot. He still isn’t crawling and I think that he’ll directly move to walking. He can now walk quite well holding onto someones hands. He is yet to stand unsupported or even cruise but seems to be getting there. He loves jumping and the minute he stands (or even if he’s lying down) he starts jumping. Seems all his energies go in vertical movement and that’s why there’s none left for the horizontal stuff.

He seems to be a foodie and yay to that. Current menu is toast/omelet/fruit for breakfast, juice at 11 am, khichdi and dahi for lunch, fruit/aloo tikki for fillers in between, sooji/daal-roti for dinner. He also wants to eat whatever Anna is eating.

I’ve mentioned before how much I struggled in breastfeeding Anna since she refused to drink formula/cow’s milk till she was a year old. With Nikki I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake so we started giving him one bottle of formula since he was a month old. For the first six months feeding him was really easy. He’d have his one bottle of formula a day without fuss and breastfeed the rest of the time. When I joined back work the one bottle became two and plus I pumped one bottle everyday. He was also eating so there was no problem. Then when he was around seven months old he started getting very hungry at night and so we started giving him a bottle then. That was a mistake because he then refused to breastfeed. I tried for a few days but then had to give up. So I started pumping twice a day and was giving him formula otherwise. But pumping for long isn’t sustainable for me so twice a day became once, then alternate day and finally I stopped completely a couple of days ago. I was only able to pump a pathetically small quantity and it just didn’t seem worth it. I do feel guilty because I had wanted to breastfeed him for at least a year, but no point crying over it. He drinks his formula without fuss and it’s one less thing for me to do. I have always hated pumping in any case.

He says mama very sweetly now. Like Anna he’s very reluctant to say Papa and poor R keeps trying. He has said it a few times but usually won’t. He rarely cries – he mostly either whines like a puppy or just keeps shouting till he gets what he wants. He babbles a lot and seems to understand some of the stuff which we say. Ask him ‘pigeon kahan hai’ and he points to the balcony, he also points to the light and fan. We have a hanging on one door which has figures of birds, fish and elephants. He loves that hanging and sometimes says ‘hishh’ (fish) when he’s near it. He loves bright lights and always looks at them.

He’s overall not very difficult to handle. He plays with his basket of toys for up to half an hour at a time which is something Anna never did so I’m really thankful for it this time. He also seems to be naughtier than Anna in the sense that he wants to tear and break stuff. He tries his best to grab her books but we only let him look in from a little far off when we’re reading to her. He seems to enjoy the stories and I hope he’ll love books as much as Anna does. I really feel we’ll have to baby proof big time once he’s moving specially since Anna has so much stuff lying around.

Physically he’s a big baby. He’s 27 inches tall and weighs 8.7 kgs at 9.5 months old. Anna weighed 8.5 Kgs at one year old and I was always worried about her weight but no such worries this time now. He’s quite strong and is the opposite of my dainty girl.

He obviously loves Anna and she is his favourite person in the world. He’s also started crying the minute he sees me if I don’t pick him. Not that I’m complaining – who wouldn’t want to squish and squeeze this darling little baby monk?

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Anna turned four on the 15th. A post on that hopefully coming up soon.

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Letter to Anna

My Darling Anna,

In two more months, you will be FOUR years old. You will truly be a big girl and I sometimes still have trouble wrapping my head around this fact. I haven’t written much about you in the past year and I really want to remedy that, so I will try to cram in a years worth of experiences into this one letter.
A switch seemed to be have turned on inside you on your third birthday and almost magically you became so much easier to handle. The time from when you were two and a half to three was tough for both of us. I got very, very busy at work and that was also the time I got pregnant with Niki. The horrendous work pressure combined with the fatigue of the first trimester made sure that I wasn’t able to give you as much time as I should have. I would leave around 8:30 in the morning and come home around 6. Your Basanti Aunty was taking good care of you but you weren’t getting the attention you desired. You became quite difficult for me to handle in the evenings, sometimes clinging to Aunty and not letting her leave, asking me to go back to office, not eating, huge tantrums over things I don’t even remember. Often your Papa would come home to find us both in tears. Luckily that phase passed soon.
You really enjoyed our Goa vacation in March last year. You were a real tourist and spent all your time either in the pool or on the beach or sleeping. You loved, loved, loved the pool and I feel so bad that Bangalore weather and your constant cough/cold don’t let us take you to the pool more often.
Health-wise, you still get frequent coughs and colds but are able to handle them much better. You don’t puke so often and never make a mess when you do. You take your medicines without complaint even if they taste horrible.
You really enjoyed your birthday and I think having a birthday is your favourite thing in the world. You insist it’s your small birthday also whenever any of us has a birthday. You get jealous if it’s the birthday of any of your cousins but you’re learning to deal with it slowly.
From June, you started going to Nursery in a proper school with a uniform and all that. You really seem to enjoy school even though you’re often reluctant in the mornings to go. I used to drop you in the mornings and you used to come back by van till we left for Nani’s place in October. Since coming back, you’re going by van both ways and are handling it quite well. Your teacher always has really good stuff to say about you. She says that you’re very cute and bubbly, ahead of your class in ‘academics’ and good in colouring/painting. You got a prize for ‘Budding Artist’ last week during the prize day function. Your teacher had told me earlier that it should have been the one for ‘Academic Excellence’ but they couldn’t give it to you since you missed two months of school when I was on maternity leave.
On 1st August you became a big sister and I’m really proud of how you’ve evolved and handled yourself over the past seven months. You never complained that you don’t sleep with me anymore, you were not as jealous as I’d expected. There were some difficult times, specially after we went to Guwahati with Nani since it was a totally new environment for you and I was also adjusting to having to look after you the whole day. But we got into a routine soon and really enjoyed our stay there. The house and garden were beautiful and I’m so happy you got this chance to play in a big garden. It was also really good to be able to spend so much time with you and I really felt happy seeing the changes in you. You slowly stopped resenting Niki and doing stuff like climbing onto my lap just when he needs to be fed. Instead you would come running with a rattle when he was crying and would try to make him stop. Now it gives me so much pleasure from seeing you with him.
You’ve started watching TV now and I’m just happy that we were able to keep the first three years screen free. It started when you dropped you nap after Niki was born. You started with half an hour of Dora each day which soon became one hour. Sometimes when we were traveling and exhausted after a day of sight-seeing we would plonk you in front of the TV and let you watch for a couple of hours. But you understood that this was only for when we were out. In Guwahati you were playing on the iPAD for around an hour and watching one hour of TV. Playing on the iPAD changed to watching Peppa Pig when one day you saw an episode on Youtube. Currently you’re watching an hour of Chota Bheem (having gotten fed-up of Dora) on weekdays. On weekends you get to watch an hour of Peppa Pig on the iPAD.
You’re a really girly girl and love to dress up. You’re happiest when you’re dressed in a ‘party frock’ with pretty clips in your air and a dot of kumkum on your forehead (which I hate but I’ve learnt to not fight some battles)  and wearing pretty party shoes. You also love it when I brush on a little make-up onto you and preen in front of the mirror. You often get scolded for your obsession with looking pretty and the tantrums that go with it (I want a high ponytail not a low one like this, I want to wear a party frock, why can’t I wear colourful clips to school? etc etc). I’m trying my best to make sure you wear all types of clothes – jeans, skirts, leggings, shorts and that everything need not be sparkly and glittery but there are bigger battles to fight so I often let you get your way.
Stuff you know – counting to 100, really counting objects up till about 20, ABC without singing it, sounds of all the alphabets, recognition of all alphabets, you can tell the first letter of any word, basic shapes etc and basically all that is expected from someone your age and more.
Your love of books is still as strong as ever and having books read to you is still a favourite activity. Hopefully you’ll be reading soon.
You’ve really learnt a lot of English in the past one year and are able to speak quite correctly. You understand almost all of what is said and now I can read a few books to you without having to translate into Hindi.
This year was a challenging one for you – new school, a baby brother, busy parents, two months at your grandparents place where there were no friends, no school etc. You handled everything so well sweetheart and we’re so proud of you. You’re the smartest, cutest and pretties little girl in the whole world and we love you so very much.

With all my love,
Mumma

Waiting for the school van.1900057_10153833849120427_586539351_n

Wearing her fairy wings. Anna painted the wings and I helped her stick on the glittery stuff.1454708_10153569487615427_826653824_n

My water nymph!532348_462744690460785_448515463_n

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