Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feeding ideas for a 15 month old

We took little N for her 15 month well baby exam today. Amongst other things, I asked the doc to draw out a typical day for babies her age in terms of feeding. This is because mine is a scanty eater and feeding her is like a huge project. And although she is hale and hearty (touchwood), she could use a little more fat. We loved the suggestions she gave us. They were geared towards naturally fattening recipes instead of the market bought ones which have preservatives and such. So I thought of sharing with you all since I am pretty sure there are others like me who could use these tips as well. Here is what she advised:

Adults eat 3 big meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Babies and kids under 3 need to be fed a little more frequently than that since they do not eat big portions in each meal. So insert 2 additional filling snacks during the day - 1 between breakfast and lunch and one between lunch and dinner. So here's how a typical day can look like:

7:00am - A bottle/cup of milk
8:30am - Breakfast (can be anything like oatmeal, dosa, idli, bread, paratha, chapati)
10:30am - Filling Snack (can be anything such as ragi, yogurt, banana shake, chiku shake)
1:00pm - Lunch (this can be whatever the family eats such as rice and dal or roti or paratha)
1:00 to 3:00pm - Nap
3:30pm - Filling Snack (any of the ones mentioned above. Other ideas can be whole fruit such as banana, apple, guava, papaya, chiku, etc. or even mashed banana or other fruits in yogurt)
6:00pm - A bottle/cup of milk
8:30pm - Dinner (can be whatever the family eats such as rice with sabzi and dal or roti or paratha etc.)
9:00pm - A bottle/cup of milk and Goodnight

And here are a few foods/recipes she recommended:
  1. Jacket Potato: This dish is a great idea since it includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats all at the same time. Take a baked potato, stuff it with scrambled eggs and butter to serve.
  2. Chicken/Fish/Eggs: Give these in different forms to the baby. Make sure the fish and chicken are cooked well and when offered, are boneless and minced in small pieces.
  3. Nutritious Milk: Put a paste (liquid or dry) of dry fruits in baby's milk. This is naturally fattening and healthier than store bought alternatives such as Pediasure.
  4. Nutritious Roti: Instead of struggling to feed roti and sabzi, an idea for giving kids roti and sabzi together is to put the sabzi inside roti dough and make a paratha out of it. The other thing my nanny used to do was make roti ki churi with the sabzi that was cooked.
  5. Nutritious Dinner: Instead of trying to feed rice and dal, you can make a nutritious version of khichdi. My new cook puts grated vegetables in the cooker along with rice and dal. I liked the idea of grating the veggies for babies who can be picky about finding vegetable pieces in their smooth khichdi texture.
  6. Healthy Snacks: Other than whole fruits or fruit juices, you can offer fruit milk shakes or fruits in yogurt. Again, one thing my old nanny used to give was dahi-kela. One other thing I give little N is Cerelac. I know this is a store bought alternative but it sure is nutritious and very convenient to make. You can also try pro-biotic yogurts instead of plain ones. The other suggestions our pediatrician made was chicken soup, pasta, vegetable soups, etc.
Although I am a lot wiser and enriched with more ideas about baby food, I do have a question for you experienced moms out there. When planning day trips/outings with the baby, what kind of home made food can we take along that will not have a risk of getting spoilt? When she was a little younger and we were in the US, it was easy to carry store bought baby jars. But in India's climate, I have noticed they too get spoilt if not refrigerated for the entire day. So can you wiser moms give me tips on how to travel with the little one without starving her?

Friday, November 28, 2008

First Bangalore then Ahmedabad and now Mumbai?

What is the government of India doing? Sleeping? I know it is not just the government's job alone to keep the nation secure...each of us as citizens have a responsibility towards our country and our own security as well. But somehow, over the last 2 days of being glued to the TV and watching every detail on every channel broadcasting the live coverage of the Mumbai siege, my feelings have turned from fear and sadness to anger and frustration. What sickens me the most is that these terrorists had local help from one of our own! When they reached the Gateway of India via boats, they were met with 5 locals who led them to where they needed to be on land! Isn't that just the craziest thing to do? I mean seriously "taali do haath se bajti hai". We can blame every other country and every other terrorist but they could not have done such a huge operation without any local help from within!

Oh and what do I say about the media of today. Have they completely lost their sense of national security? Can they not for once have the brains to switch off their cameras and not think about their channel ratings in the interest of saving innocent lives of our hostages? I know they love to be ahead at every step and show their quick access to all information but at what cost??? Why the hell do they keep broadcasting every intricate detail about every operation going on to neutralize the terrorists? Look at bullet # 4 on this post here. That is just the heights of stupidity by our media men I would say! I pity those brave commandos who carried out their operations which required top secrecy but were being broadcasted in every detail on national television!

This is the third major terrorist attack I have witnessed just in the past 5 months that we decided to move to India. I am beginning to really shudder at what kind of a decision have we made for our kids who will grow up in the midst of this terror. Kiran's post on this brought a new kind of chill down my spine...when she said these were children, young children who were terrorizing the city...and how she feared that this could as well be her son a few years down the line! That thought just worries me sick to my stomach. Oh God - do save us all and bring an end to these atrocities in today's world. My worst fear, worst nightmare ever is the nuclear nations of today entering into a third world war. God only knows what will happen if such a situation arises in our or our children's lifetimes!

P.S. Please do not over analyze this post and try to figure out my political views and inclinations. This is really just a glimpse of the millions of emotions going on through my stunned mind right now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sawa Ek Saal Ki Gudiya

N turned 15 months yesterday (Nov 25, 2008). Daddy came early from work, the 3 of us got dressed, went to the temple, mommy donated some sheera she made for prasad, came home, did her cake (sheera) cutting, gave her a new toy, took lots of pictures and generally celebrated her monthly bday as we used to every month in her first year. God bless her and all the kids in the world. May they thrive and spread cheer to everyone around them.

Jeez...this just shows how lazy and behind I am on major month updates. I had started writing a post for her 14 and a half month update coz she had achieved quite a few milestones around that time. And I never got to finish that and now it is already time for her 15 month update (not that I have done these religiously before but there is a voice in me constantly nagging me to pen these down before I forget all the cute little things she has been doing these days). So here is my attempt at logging atleast 15 things that my naughty little N has been upto around her 15 month birthday:
  1. Nov 12, 2008: Quite a milestone filled day for N today. She held her bottle for the first time ever this morning! Yes - almost 14.5 months and just learned to hold her bottle :-) I had almost accepted that she might never do it and go straight to holding her sippy cup coz I have a few friends whose kids did that. But thankfully, this particular morning, little N decided to finally hear the plea in her mom's voice asking her to hold the bottle and whola! Today was also a day when she actually drank a decent amount of liquid from a straw. She has never been into juices and has preferred water over any juice I have given her. But today, I sat her on her highchair and offered her a small packet of Tropicana apple juice during her lunch and she had a blast drinking and blowing into the straw. Since then I bought her a straw cup and she is able to consume her water from the straw cup as well as the sippy cup. Now if only she starts drinking her milk from a cup too.
  2. Nov 23, 2008 (Sunday): This was the day when she finally uttered her first meaningful word. Guess what it was? Not mamma...not papa...not tata...but "doggie"! This is thanks to her new found doggie friend (a soft toy she got from her dada dadi and bua for Diwali). She used to say mama, papa and tata before but this is the first word she consciously attempted and knows the meaning of fully well. She even brings the dog to me when I tell her to say doggie and says it with such passion as if explaining to me what doggie means - she goes - "dooooooggie". Yesterday she also said "nana" and "nani" when prompted to while we were talking to my parents on the phone. What luck that they were able to hear her utter these words firsthand for the first time! She now tries to repeat after us if we urge her to. For example, when she wants to be picked up, I insist she say "up". And funnily enough, she says it backwards "pa". Took her two days to get to saying "up". It was the same story with doggie too...she used to say it backwards "geedogeeedogeeedo" she would go all the while trying to basically say "doogeedoogee". You get the picture right? Now she says some more simple words such as "bua" and "dada". She had subconsciously uttered a few words here and there a few months ago such as "gaadi" (when looking at cars outside the window) or "nana" but they were not conscious attempts at talking and they were never repeated ever again. This time, it is obvious she is trying to master the skill of pronouncing these words and many more! Wow - I can't believe my baby has finally started talking!
  3. It is also sooooo nice to see her finally understand everything we tell her to do. Believe me this and her ability to start talking was a worry in our household since we are a multilingual family - hubby speaks Konkani, i speak Hindi and English and her nanny spoke Punjabi with her. So we were worried what language will she start understanding and when and will this delay her talking since she has to comprehend so many languages first. But now, she follows instructions in whatever language we speak to her in - such as the other day she threw all her carrots and peas down from her highchair. So I told her to clean up by bringing each piece to me and boy how she did it to the T!
  4. That is the other thing - she has just learnt picking up and putting things back in their containers. Earlier she would love emptying each container may it be her toy basket or a kitchen drawer or a clothes closet. Now once it is empty and you tell her to put things back, she obediently does it! Isn't that awesome? Baby cleaning up after her own mess? ;) What more can you ask! Similar story with her stacking rings btw. Earlier she would just empty them and throw them on the floor. Just 2-3 days ago she was working at learning to put each ring back. I saw her struggle for quite a bit and then loved the delight on her face when she finally mastered the skill of putting each ring back on the stacker! Seems trivial to most adults but only new parents know what a milestone such things are. I should introduce her to blocks next.
  5. Her newest craze is watching nursery rhymes on my laptop. So much so that it has become her nightly routine. She even has her dinner watching these nursery rhymes being played again and again and again on or! My hubby and I wonder what gets kids so excited in watching animations and watching the same thing again and again and yet again :-) I am really curious to know why kids gravitate towards animations more than normal telecast. Is it coz animation is 2D while the normal tv we watch is 3D? Any theories anyone? Hmmm...something for me to research in spare time (which is when again?)
  6. When she is in a very playful mood, she loves running round and round around me - on the the the kitchen....wherever!
  7. She sits on papa's head and loves walking and dancing around the house. Papa too loves carrying her like that. Here's how:
  8. At around 5pm every evening, she begins bringing her shoes to me and insists I put them on. Next, she brings my shoes to me as well and starts pointing to the door urging me to take her down to the park. She is quite persistent that way - does NOT stop until you finally stop everything you are doing and actually go down with her. Then she shines her bright smile at you as if saying - "I am sooo happy you finally got what I was trying to say!"
  9. She has quite a few teeth in her mouth now...upper and lower two, 1 molar on each side (lower and upper both - so 4 in all) and is cutting the two next to her front upper two.
  10. She has recently learnt climbing on and out of some things such as her stroller all by herself. She still needs some help climbing on a few things such as our couch, dining table chairs, patio chairs, etc. but is able to get down from it very easily. Very soon she will be able to climb on them all by herself and it will be just more chaos for mommy to keep running after her to see what has she climbed on to now :-)
  11. She has a thing for shoes I think. She is able to tell which shoes are whose and brings them to us accordingly. Best is when papa gets dressed to go to work each morning or comes back from work in the evening, she just does not let go of his shoes! Not sure what goes on in her mind...maybe she thinks if I hold on to these shoes, daddy will not be able to leave me alone and go :-)
  12. She can point to quite a few parts of her body - head, nose, eyes, ears and hands and also a lot of objects such as the moon (chandamama), the crow (kau kau), herself, aeroplane, etc. She also joins her hands in prayer when you tell her to do "jai jai" or "pampa" in konkani.
  13. The saddest part of the day is when she runs behind her dad all the way to the complex's gate saying "tata tata tata" repeatedly. She starts by clinging on to him and following him to the elevator at which point mommy feels bad for her sometimes and goes down with her and dad to see him off a little further. That is when she just runs behind him as far as she can go and as fast as she can go and it breaks my heart when I pick her up to say "don't worry daddy will be home in the evening". I feel glad at such times that I am not breaking her heart by leaving her alone at home too. She does not cry or anything in such farewells...just runs behind him. I am able to easily distract her by showing her something else but I am sure as she grows older, she will not be so easily distracted. But by then hopefully she will understand that daddy is not leaving her and will be back soon. I shudder to think how I will go back to working outside the home some day.
  14. Lately, she howls and screams when we are driving along somewhere and I decide to take the wheel and drive instead of daddy at times. Somehow, she has decided that she does not want mommy leaving her side and driving the car! Daddy doing it is ok though!!!??? How on earth did this happen and god how do I bring her out of this mode now?
  15. She has discovered a new found love for books - finally!!! Yipeee! She now brings her books to me and insists that I "read" them out to her. Sometimes she just picks them up and starts browsing them herself - all the time excitedly pointing to objects she is familiar with or is excited about seeing in the book. Oh how I love this! I was beginning to get worried if I will ever be able to have nice book reading sessions with her and here she is all into books now :-)
This is such a wonderful age. Every day brings something new for her and for us as parents. I hope this joy never ends. Touchwood....antijinx....kalatikka....whatever it takes!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Container Finally Arrived But...

We are sooo unhappy about the entire shipping to India experience. We had two options - Sky2C carriers and Universal Relocations. My hubby reached out to both but when Sky2C did not respond for a while and Universal did, he decided one is as good as the other since both had good reviews in the R2I forums. So we went with Universal. BIG MISTAKE as we now learnt :( Why you ask? Well there's a huge laundry list why. First of all my hubby now tells me that once they had all our stuff loaded with them, they started hitting us with all sorts of new additional charges. And worse than that, the had the audacity to refuse to ship our stuff if we did not pay. Did we really have a choice then? That was our first hint of their "chor giri". So after a few nasty email exchanges, my hubby decided to do a smart thing. Pay them but pay using an Amex credit card instead of the bank transfer they were pushing us for. He decided to bear the additional 2% charge they imposed on us for using a credit card just so that we can contest with Amex in case we had issues with them later on. Good thinking I say coz that is exactly what happened when our stuff arrived a little over 2 months later.

After being told for a week that our truck should arrive from Chennai to Bangalore tomorrow, the truck finally arrives on the morning of Sat, Nov 8. We excitedly start unpacking right away only to learn that so much of our stuff has been damaged in transit. And if the glass stuff that broke was the stuff we packed such as Corningware bake and serve or Mikasa jug, I can understand. But it was also stuff they packed such as our dresser mirror and our leather couches. Our dressor mirror was entirely gone - broken in pieces and we have a decent size leather damage on one of the couches.

But wait - the worst is yet to come. Our moooooost expensive and the moooooooost important and irreplaceable item is gone! LOST! Chhoooo mantar! Not arrived! Our oh so cozy, plush, huge king size mattress with an oh so plush mattress cover. Poof! Just did not show up. Also our home music system/ipod player. Gone as well! What did they have to say abt that? We will try to locate it in the warehouse and get back to you in half an hour. That half an hour turned to 2 days and forget about calling us, we have called them atleast 10 times but they are just not picking up the phone. What does this make us feel? Ofcourse we suspect that they have robbed us and are intentionally not getting in touch anymore. On top of all this, those idiots (pardon my language) had the nerve to call us during the delivery and say that there will be an extra delivery charge since we live on the 7th floor! SERIOUSLY!!!????

We finally have filed for a chargeback for the entire shipping amount with American Express and have decided we are not going to bother calling and fighting with these thieves anymore. Let them deal with Amex who will first withdraw the money we paid them and then tell them to prove why they shouldn't. So take that Universal!

Did any of you R2Ied folks have to face anything similar? Would love to hear your experience and how you dealt with it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Glimpses of little N in India...

Just felt like capturing a few glimpses of the little one's life here in her new home in Bangalore. So here I go with a few pics...

Chasing the sun on a warm sunny afternoon

Enjoying bubbles with her new friend T
(poor little kids had to play indoors due to a rainy evening in Bangalore that day)

Playing ball

There are sooooo many more to take and so many more to post such as a few of her daily visits to the park downstairs, a few with her precious moments with grandparents and a few of her first Diwali in India etc. Each growing moment is so precious...I wish I could hold it still forever coz I know this innocence, this sweet little age when everything amazes you and every little thing is a novelty and a learning experience, this age will never return. Your innocence will grow into a wiseness and soon my little baby will be a grown up woman before I know it. Oh how I cherish every second of your life little N and how I wish I could make this last forever!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monkeys - Yikes!

Ok not monkeys but one monkey inside my 7th floor apartment!!! And many more screeching and calling each other in the tree right next to my balcony! YIKES! Imagine facing monkeys in my home after I return to India from a place where India is known to most as the land of "snakes and snake charmers" ;)

So I am feeding little N her afternoon bottle of milk in the living room when suddenly I hear a sound in our balcony. First I think it is just a plastic bag ruffling in the air. Then I see a tail and think how did a cat enter a 7th floor balcony. And in the next second, am stupefied to see an actual monkey looking at me. Had to stiffle a scream and the impulse to run shut the door instantly...infact I couldn't move an inch since N was chugging away her milk blissfully unaware of what just transpired. Then as soon as she was done, I ran and shut and bolted the door. Thankfully he had moved on by then.

Later as I narrate this incident to my new neighbor friends downstairs, they tell me this is nothing. Apparently one of them had their kitchen raided by 2 monkeys while she was down with her kid in the park. As soon as she got home she let out a shriek looking at them munching down on her food. On calling the security guard, he comes home and tells her to not shoo them away coz otherwise they will remember the house and harasse them for life after that! Sounds familiar? It sounded like a tale of snakes to me :) Anyways, apparently the security guard pleaded those two monkeys to go away after that. So monkeys seem to be a known problem in 2 out of the 8 towers in my apartment complex. And security says you really can't do anything about them!

It is almost midnight now and I am awake since this is my first day at work. Am working from home for the same employer I used to work for in the US. And all I can hear is the monkey party going on in the tree next to my balcony. When do these guys go to sleep? My little "monkey" at home has gone to sleep a few hours ago :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Learning so much so quickly

It is amazing how fast these little cuties grow and how quickly they grasp things around them. In just a year, she has started comprehending everything around her and even though little N can't speak yet, she is able to understand, respond, communicate and imitate everything around her. It just amazes me so much that I had to document every little thing she has picked up before I forget it all :)

Aug 23, 2008 - This was the weekend I spent with my undergrad hostelite buddies who flew down from various parts of the US to have a mini reunion one last time before I moved to India. And oh what a weekend that was. We were 5 girls and all of us new mommies. So obviously there was soooo much to share, so much to learn and so much to talk about. In all this, the two of them (S and D) decided to teach my little N how to 'high five' and 'low five'. That was probably the first thing she ever learnt from someone consciously teaching her (so far all the rest was self discivery such as waving 'tata' and mumbling a few other words). By the end of that weekend, she was an expert at high and low fiving anyone who asked for it.

Sept 27, 2008 - N just turned 13 months 2 days ago and today was the day when she and I flew down from Mumbai to Bangalore to join my hubby. Her milestone: playing peekaboo with mommy for the first time. And my milestone: surviving an entire journey alone with the kiddo...quite an experience I must say. I flew via Jet Airways. I must say they did not fuss at all at my excessively overweight bag and 3 handbags (yes...again!) but the assistance the crew provided to a single mommy travelling with an infant left a lot to desire. Atleast in Mumbai where they made me not only drag my bags, the little one and the stroller to every single security check possible but made me even drink water from her bottle and sippy cup! I wouldn't have minded this if I was not already struggling with all the bags and the kiddo clinging to me having fallen badly a day ago and walking around with swollen, purple injured lips :( Finally it was a nice lady travelling on the same flight who came and offered to help! God bless her soul. Once I was onboard though, the inflight crew was a pleasant relief. They not only played with the little one all the time but even assisted me all the way to the gate until I met my hubby. Anyways, this was about N's milestones and I started ranting about my own :)

So while we were at DH's cousin's place that day, little N walked into the kitchen to explore the place. Suddenly I called out to her saying "where is Nikki....Nikki khai asaa" to look for her. And she comes running with her tiny feet and peeks out the kitchen door to smile at me. This was the first time ever she did this and I realized she wants a game of peekaboo. She was not going in to pick up the stuff in the kitchen (like she normally does), infact she would just stand next to the wall with her back against it to hide from mommy and show her smiling face every time I called out for her. She did this atleast 5 times that day and since then has started enjoying this little game of peekaboo with us.

Oct 7, 2008 - N ate or drank very little that day which tired and worried mommy until she saw that N was cutting her premolar teeth :-) That explained it all and was a pleasant relief!

Oct 7, 2008 - This was also the first time ever when I saw her enacting Twinkle Twinkle by herself! This has to be the cutest thing I ever saw her do. The thing is that she has been listening to this rhyme from us ever since she was born and may be a few months ago or so I must have shown her how to enact twinkle twinkle by opening and closing my fists. So she probably has memories from that time and it triggered when I recently introduced her to to show her nursery rhymes. Thanks to my friend S in the US who told me about it and to my friend G who reminded me about whenever I sit to browse on my laptop, little N comes to me and insists that I pick her up and starts enacting Twinkle Twinkle with her tiny little hands. I love it when she does this and can't resist a huge hug and kiss and pulling her on my lap to show her all the rhymes to her hearts desire. Her smile watching hello-world is priceless :-)

Sept & Oct 2008 - During these last two months in India, she has learnt to respond to questions such as 'Nikku khai assa (where is Nikku)', 'Nikkula haath khai assa (where are Nikku's hands)', 'Nikkula head khai assa (where is Nikku's head)', Nikku's nose khai assa (where is Nikku's nose)', 'Mamma khai assa (where is mommy)', 'Pappa khai assa (where is papa)' get the idea. It all started with her dadi teaching her where is Nikku. And she learnt to point at herself in such a cute manner - basically takes both her hands and beats on her tiny little chest proudly with a smile to show that here is Nikku :-) Then her dadi was trying to teach her where her hands were but before she got it, I had to fly out to Bangalore. So here I took it upon myself to continue that education and it is quickly working. Amazing how quickly they grasp these things.

Oct 8, 2008 - Saw little N hugging to things she didn't want to let go such as our car keys. This was really her first. She has never had a 'lovey' as such that she is attached to but these days if we give her something - just anything like keys or a belt or a towel, she plays with it and after a while I see her walking around hugging it close to her. I think she is ready for a soft toy or a security blanket or some lovey that she can use to soothe herself to sleep etc. I am sooo waiting for our container to arrive from the US which has all her soft toys in it.

Oct 2008 - Lately I have started leaving her diaper free for prolonged parts of the day to start the process of pee pee training a little early. It started off to help her with her rashes but has taken a good turn since then. With my mom's suggestion, I took her to the bathroom and made the 'sssss' noise to indicate her to pee. And surprisingly it worked! So now I do the same when she gets up from a nap or first thing in the morning etc. Sometimes though, when she is diaper less and she has a susu accident around the house, she starts making the 'sssss' noise herself. If I am not around, she comes to find me and tells me 'ssss' to basically let me know that she has peed somewhere in the house. And when she sees me cleaning it with a cloth, she has even started imitating that. Basically she pulls down whatever cloth she sees and mops the floor with her foot - just like how mommy does! Funny na.

Oct 10, 2008 - Finally after all the struggle of getting her switched to milk from formula, she has now made the transition to regular milk. Thank god! I was beginning to worry about her being allergic to milk or something. Now she has the Nandini milk we get at home which is 3% fat. After a month or two of this, I plan to switch to a higher fat content.

Anyways, among all these things she has learnt, what she just refuses to learn is to hold her milk bottle herself. Most babies are doing this at her age but our little princess wants to play with my hair while I hold the bottle for her. Every single time I have tried to put her hands around the bottle, she stops drinking and gets cranky and irritated and just stops her feeding session. Or she pours milk out of the bottle all over herself or the bed and plays with the spilled milk. That coz she imitates me pouring a little on the back of my hand to check for temperature. Anyone have any suggestions on how to teach her to hold her bottle? I do want to wean her to a sippy cup soon but just holding her bottle should be a good start for now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm baaaaaaackk!!!

Gosh feels like I have been dug in the woods forever although it has really only been a week and a half since I have been disconnected from the entire world. I am back online now and am so glad to be able to blog again :-)

Me and my little N finally flew down from Mumbai to Bangalore to join my dear hubby on Sept. 27th 2008. It has been exactly one month today since we moved back from SFO to Apna Des. One month of living out of month of trying to keep N's tiny little things from getting lost...kinda tiring. But at the same time, one month of little N enjoying with her grandparents...getting lots of love and attention and fresh yummy home cooked month of me taking it a little easy on baby care what with so many eager folks ready to help out. What a huge milestone month it has been with N making the transition from her life in the Bay Area to here in India. She has fallen and gotten hurt so many times here that it is not funny. Anyways, all of that is a separate post in itself.

So I flew to Bangalore and spent the weekend at my hubby's kaka's place. And then we moved to DH's service apartment. I have been so curious to see how that looks like in India but I must tell you that 2 days there and I had had more than enough of it! Anyways, then we finally move with all our bags to the final destination - our new home in India - Raheja Residency, Bangalore. Whew! Feels like the struggle is over right? WRONG! It has just begun :-)

We spent the entire last week trying to get this place operational. Would spend each moment of the day trying to figure out what to buy from where and how to cook tonight for the baby, how to save the milk without having any appliances at home, etc. In new apartments here, it is not like the US where you get the basic appliances such as a fridge, stove, oven and microwave amongst other things. And you might think what's the big deal - you can easily live without them for a few days and then buy all of that over the weekend. But with a little baby things are slightly different. You need to have a stove and a gas connection at the minimum to be able to heat her milk bottles. You need to have a fridge to store her milk and food and you need to have a microwave to reheat her food and milk (or small vessels that you can use on the stove). Without that the little one's life comes to a halt. And things don't happen as quickly here. We went and chose the stove on day 1 of our move. But they did not have it in stock and required atleast 24 hours for delivery. Same story with the fridge and microwave. The ones we liked would need another 4 days for delivery so we decided to just get the ones that were in stock and can be delivered in the next 24 hours. And to add to the craziness, the day of delivery was Oct. 2 which is a national holiday here. Our apartment complex does not allow moving on Sundays and national holidays! Grrr! Anyways, I had to plead a bunch of people to allow the delivery guy to please do what he needs so that atleast our kitchen could become functional.

In the meantime, thanks to my dear blog friend Gayathri who coincidentally happens to live in the same building as ours - we were able to have a decent meal or two and most of all keep our little N happily fed! Plus as an added bonus her little Trish and my little N found each other's company to play as well. Who could ask for more :-)

So after Oct. 2, once our kitchen got operational, then started our efforts to get the rest of the services done. Like broadband connection for example. Without going into the horrific details of how painfully long the process is and how it takes forrrrrrrever to get these things done here, all I can say is if you ever move back, make sure you have LOTS and LOTS of patience. If you expect that the technicians will show up in the block of time given to you and that things will happen once they finally show up at the door, forget it. Our Airtel technician gave us a timeslot of 3 hours and did not show up even after those 3 hours were up. After calling up and following up twice, he finally shows up at 6pm and asks for a bunch of documents and their xerox copies! With no advance notice of what is needed, they expect us to have these documents ready? In any case, he takes my originals for getting xeroxed (while I am hoping he doesn't just run away with them) and after an hour of paperwork, picks up the bag and walks out the door! I am like "What? Who is activating my DSL?" He politely smiles and says that will take another 3 days madam! No one told me that earlier!!! Do you not have the courtesy to tell me the process beforehand when I pick you for my broadband provider and schedule you for an appointment? And then 3 days later they call me at noon to say the technician should be home before 3 pm, I keep waiting putting all the other things to be done on hold in case I am not home and I miss him. He does not show up till 7pm!!! Ofcourse I followed up like crazy but there seems to be no concept of accountability or customer service. No apologies either when they show up. They continue working at our home till 9:30pm while we are wondering when can we start dinner. In any case, I am just happy that we are now wired and I am back online! Without the internet, it just feels like I am disconnected from the entire world. Oh and wait - when I call Airtel today for another issue (our parallel phone jacks in the house are not working), I discover that they have activated this connection in some software company's name instead of mine! Jeeez oh Peete! Does this ever end?

Oh well - like I said - take a deep breath and relax. All this will be behind me soon. Hopefully :-) Overall, I am happy with the new home and the new community we live in. It is a huge complex with every amenity you can ask for and lots and lots of kids to play with little N. There are nice huge shopping malls nearby and you get almost everything you are used to in the US. Life is nice once you have the basic infrastructure up and running for you. And with my Vonage line set up now, I even caught up with some of my friends in the US who I so miss chatting up with :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Any Suggestions for a New Title?

When I started writing this blog, my intention was to capture all that I could about baby care and how we being of Indian roots, deal with sometimes conflicting advises we get from our scientific versus superstitious well wishers. I was living in the US at that time.

But since then, we have moved to India and so as you can guess, I will eventually be surrounded by more superstitious advises than scientific ones :-) The core in me refuses to believe or give into the superstitions. And so I'll still try to keep blogging about such dilemmas around baby care as I come across them. I will also blog about our experiences after R2Iing.

The key question I face now is that having moved to India, the title of this blog "Raising an Indian Baby America" does not fit anymore. I'm looking for some cool title suggestions from my readers. Pls send me your ideas either via comments or email. Also do you think I should change the URL of this blog accordingly as well? Since I am new to blogging, how easy/difficult is that?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A new lifestyle for the munchkin

When I started writing this post (9/9/08), it had been 10 days since we had moved to India after living in the US for almost 10 years (a year longer for my hubby). So I figured this is a good time to capture all that our little N is going through what with a new place, new environment, new people and a new life she is now adopting. I have seen sooooo many changes in our little munchkin in so little time that it just doesn't stop amazing me.

Her first few days at her dada dadi's home was full of separation and stranger anxiety. Although she has been with them when she was younger, she took atleast 4 days to warm up to them completely. And then suddenly by day 5, she was all about them :-) She would happily run to whoever called out to her (dada, dadi or bua) and each of them have their unique cute ways to lure her to them and capture her attention. Oh also it seems like out of nowhere she has suddenly developed a way of showing stubbornness about whatever she wants. Already? She has just turned 1 and I feel she was such a baby before we brought her here to India :-) I read somewhere that babies do develop a tendency to show tantrums at this age but this just feels so sudden. Me and my hubby keep saying she has changed to a stubborn brat overnight :-)

Newfound love of Birds & Animals
She has started really clinging to me and my hubby a lot since the day we returned. I think part of it is stranger anxiety since suddenly she is surrounded by so many people. But part of it is also separation anxiety that comes naturally at this age. So the trick I have told her grandparents to adopt is take her quickly in their arms and run outdoors or to a balcony or window and show her outside. Her grandpa came up with a trick saying "Caw Caw" to basically whisk her away from me and show her the crow that visits us every day. She now loves being with her grandpa and watch the crow come and eat food at the kitchen and living room windowsill. That is aabu's (her grandpa's) favorite activity with her.

After 7 days when I brought her to her nana nani's place, she found more sparrows here than crows. So since then she also understands "Chi Chi" and points to sparrows every time we ask her "Where is Chi Chi". It is amazing that she can spot and point at crows and sparrows and also pigeons at such a distance that sometimes we also don't notice that they are there. When left alone with them, she seems to talk to them in a language of her own. Quite amazing to watch her mesmerized by these new beings since she never had such close encounters with them in the US. She is also fascinated with the cows and dogs around here. BTW here too she would cling to me a lot and it took her almost 4-5 days before she warmed up to be with nana/nani alone.

It took her almost a whole week to get over the jet lag after arriving here. For that first week, she would take long naps during the day, refuse to eat as much but substitute that with more milk and would go off to bed at 6pm most days! Then she would sleep until atleast 4am the next morning after which she would be all fresh for the new day. That meant that even if we tried to sleep in to fight the jet lag, our little sweetheart would make sure that doesn't happen ;-) So my jetlag only passed when the little one was out of it herself. After a week or so, she was better but would still nap longer in the day as compared to what she did in the US and would go to be earlier (around 8 pm). Obviously I wasn't complaining as that meant that I had more time for other things while she was snoozing away :-)

So on one hand her sleep improved but her appetite definitely worsened. She was always a light eater but atleast she had solids thrice a day in the US. Here she reduced it to twice a day and I let it go initially coz she was adjusting to the time zone change and stuff. But after that phase passed, she still does not eat as much as she used to. Her meal times are the times I miss our nanny the most. She must have had such amazing patience to feed my little picky monster :-)

Other than that, I introduced her to cow's milk on Sept. 3 (first day of the Ganpati season). And oh my god what an ordeal that was. Me and my little N had to go through so much that I think I should write it for all of you who are or will be going to this phase soon. So first of all, I made the mistake of following the US pediatrician's instructions to the T and going and searching for the most fatty tetra pack milk I could find in India so that it is close to the Whole Fat version in the US. I couldn't find anything that said Whole Fat so I bought Amul Gold Standardized Milk which had close to 7.5% fat. Gave that to her and she took it fine at first, fussed a little later and then took it if I was persistent. But the worst mistake I made was that unknowingly I did not go slow. I had no idea that is how you are supposed to do it. No one including my pediatrician had informed me that cow's milk is harder for babies to digest and can upset their tummies. I always thought it is about the taste and that is why some parents mix it with formula to give it to their babies initially. So when N took it fine, I thought she is ok with the taste and can make the switch now. BIG MISTAKE. Poor baby started pooping everytime she had a bottle of milk and so she started going atleast 4 times a day. So once I came to my parents, they informed me that Amul Gold is not cow's but buffalo's milk which is typically thicker and tougher for people to digest. Wow - imagine that! And nowhere it mentions anything such as that on the packet. Isn't that just wrong? So on their advise, I switched her to what we got at home (Amul Taaza 3.5% fat). They suggested if her system can digest this, then I can graduate to higher fat content. Made sense. But I think the mistake was already made by then coz who knows if it is was coz of the milk or the extra poops but she developed a bad diaper rash in a few days. At that point I stopped milk completely and took her back to formula. And then when I asked around to see what I was doing wrong, I was told that I should have given her just a little milk to start with and gradually increased the quantity to allow her system to digest cow's milk! Imagine that! No one tells you these things man - its almost like you are supposed to know these things being a mom. Ridiculous isn't it? Poor N had to go through so much coz of all this.

Anyways, I brought her to only 2 ounces of milk in a 6 ounce bottle of formula once a day (in mid afternoon). But after a few days it still didn't change her poop frequency so I took her to a local pediatrician. And he goes, 4 times a day is normal. You should only worry when it is 10 times a day and is loose! And that's that. I was amazed at the nonchalance they show here for babies. No advise on what to do and what not to do. Just wrote up a prescription for the rash and a medicine for the diarrhea (if any) and that's it. I had to dig it out from him to figure out how to switch her to cow's milk successfully. He then suggested Lactogen. Start with its stage 1 and then move to stage 2 and then milk. He even suggested diluting the milk initially (3:1 - 3 parts boiled milk, 1 part boiled water). He also said to keep with Amul Taaza 3.5% and not move to whole fat right away.

So I ask you experienced mommies out there, what should I do next? I think I will keep her with the 2 ounces milk she is getting once a day but I worry every time she poops (she still goes 4 times a day now). I don't think I want to stop milk completely for a week or so coz I don't have infinite Enfamil formula with me. And I don't think I want to start go with the option of Lactogen 1 and 2 and drag this thing forever. The doc towards the end said - you can just stick to doing what you are doing without going to Lactogen as well. Seems like he couldn't make up his own mind. Didn't help me a single bit going to ask for his advise. The only thing I learnt is the brand Lactogen is pediatrician recommended.

Her food intake has also reduced at the same time. She used to eat well thrice a day in the US. Now she just refuses to open her mouth when she does not want to eat - whatever I do. Any tips or words of advise? The doc said he could prescribe a tonic to increase her appetite but would not recommend it for her yet. And I agree - I want to stay away from medications for these things.

Her Likes and Dislikes
She loves playing with both sets of grandparents now and absolutely loves running around. She has also started climbing and coming down of stairs and loves doing that all the time. We take her to a garden here in my parent's town and she just has a sudden burst of energy and runs there non stop! It is good exercise for me too coz I have to keep running after her to make sure herself.

She has also started enjoying her baths now! Thank God for that. I am glad that her bath anxiety seems to have passed. I think the humidity in the air also contributes to her love of bathing. Atleast for me it does :-) I am always soooo hot and sweaty here (especially in Mumbai) that it is not funny. I am not sure how I never felt this way in my earlier visits to India.

Anyways, I could keep going on and on about all the things that are new for me and her. But this post is getting way to long and I am afraid that my questions about switching her to cow's milk may get lost and go unanswered by you readers. So please please send me your tips/advise on both - switching to cow's milk and also weaning her to sippy cup from the bottle.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Returned to India

So the project is finally complete - executed per the plan, on time, in budget and within scope. Spoken like a true Project Manager huh? ;-)

Nyways, we finally made the move to India after living in the US for almost a decade. Here is how we had planned it and here is how things actually took shape:
  • Aug 15: My last day at work. Went with a heavy heart since it meant saying goodbye to a place and to the folks I grew to really like. Not many people in this world are happy working where they work but after a few years of struggle and making it in this firm, I was at a good place there. Oh well, there was always the hope of continuing to work for them from India. So I wasn't that disheartened about that. The only thing I didn't like was that I did not get the opportunity to say my goodbyes to everyone I knew and wanted to keep in touch with. The reason? Fate I must say...coz just a day prior, I got an appointment notice from USCIS (used to be INS) to be present for my fingerprinting in a far off location from work by mid afternoon on Aug 15. What rotten luck. So that day also being my last day at work in the US, I literally had to wrap up and rush out of the office by 2pm. And to top it all, quite a few of my coworkers had arranged a really nice farewell lunch and gathered quite a crowd for me that day. So by the time we all reached and settled for lunch, it was already 1pm. And by the time we got done, it was 2pm and I was in a mad rush to pack my cube into boxes and get out asap. It was so bad that I did not even get to see my own manager before leaving. This has to be the weirdest termination of an employee - where I turned in my keys, laptop, badge and stuff to an empty chair :-) My poor manager was on the road trying to get back to work in time to see me off. But I was in a hurry for the appointment so we just said our goodbyes over the phone! Imagine that! After 3 years of working here, I had never imagined this is how my last day would be. No time to say goodbye one last time to the place that had taught me soooo the place that gave me so much. I swore I will come back next week and finish what I left off but we all know how that goes. Next week came and went and the only time I could finally take out was the day we were actually flying out. I rushed in and was barely able to meet only a few of the many folks on my list.
  • Aug 17: Hosted our little N's first birthday party. I wrote about that here.
  • Aug 22: This is when the movers came in and whisked off all our stuff from our home in the Bay Area. We had estimated around 250 cubic feet of container space but it seemed like our luggage was limitless. I am pretty sure we ended up loading much more than that. We will find out soon. In all we ended up shipping 78 items!!!
  • Aug 25: Took little N to the pediatrician for her well check exam. Got her immunized and said our goodbyes to the best pediatrician we have ever met. We will miss you Dr. Kang.
  • Aug 26: Amongst a lot of other things such as our move out inspection, went to the temple near our home one last time.
  • Aug 27: I went to the office in the morning to meet a few folks I could not meet earlier on my last day. Also to collect the laptop so that I can work from India remotely once the new offer letter comes through and I accept it. Delivered the car we sold to the buyer and finally boarded the Jet Airways flight at night.
Landed in Mumbai, India with excessive baggage and all on the morning of Aug 29th 2008 at 7am local time. Our stuff shipped via the container will probably join us by early to mid October in Bangalore.

I do need to document how much we carried on our flight home so that I can advise everyone to NEVER do this ever. We managed to check in a total of 6 items (we were allowed only 5 amongst the 2 of us and our infant). And we had like 9 carry on items and other miscellaneous things hanging around here and there like the baby's blanket, my purse and what not. You should have seen the sight - me and my hubby juggling around the baby and all these carry on items. The Jet Airline staff was very courteous with us though. They did not charge us a single penny for all of this luggage and infact helped us lug our carry on items in the flight. But we swore after this experience to NEVER EVER travel with so much stuff :-) The worst thing was that they checked in our stroller and did not give it to us in the lay over or as soon as we deplaned in Mumbai. We had to lug all of this through immigration, customs and only got the stroller at the baggage claim - completely defeated the purpose of us going through the pains of buying and carrying an umbrella stroller for the travel!

Oh well - an experience we will never forget - we can now tell our little N this is how we R2Ied :-)

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Ye jo des hai tera, swades hai tera, tujhe hai pukaara
Ye woh bandhan hai jo kabhi toot nahin sakta

Tujhse zindagi, hai ye keh rahi
Sab toh paa liya, ab hai kya kami
Yun toh saare sukh hai barse
Par door tu hai apne gharse
Aa laut chal tu ab diwaane
Jahaan koyi toh tujhe apna maane
Awaaz de tujhe bulaane, wahi des
Ye jo des hai tera, swades hai tera, tujhe hai pukaara
Ye woh bandhan hai jo kabhi toot nahin sakta
Sounds quite romantic and filmi but somehow, since the day we have returned to India for good, I have this song stuck in my head. Wierd isn't it? Coz part of me still does not believe that I have closed shop and moved lock stock and barrel from US to India for good. And part of me knows that there is no running away from the truth and maybe it is my heart trying to tell my brain that we have made the best decision for ourselves and our families...maybe it is me trying to see the emotional side of things rather than the materialistic side. Who knows why this song bug - all I know is that this is it and there is no going back. We are not on a vacation here in India...we are here for better or for worse...we are here for each other...not just via a phone call but physically here.

And maybe that is why unlike all the other times when I used to visit India, I am in no hurry at all to call all my cousins or friends who live here and catch up with them. Coz its not like I have limited vacation I am here for good. So there is plenty of time for me to call and catch up. Its quite a mixed set of emotions I said, part of me does not believe that we have actually made it happen. And the other part of me knows that it is done and that is why I am in no hurry to reach out and call everyone I know here coz I know that will unfold in its own sweet time. For now, I just want to live in this surreal world that we are in...mentally and physically in all homes...the one I left behind, the ones I am living in and the one we will create for ourselves.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday My Little One...

Life flies by so fast...especially little children's. Almost seems like yesterday when little N was born to us and already she has turned 1! Already her age will be referred to in years instead of days or weeks or months. Already I am a mommy of a toddler instead of a newborn or an infant. Already I am an expert in mommy hood by surviving baby's first year :-)

It was little N's first birthday on Aug 25. Guess what we did on that day? Took her for her one year well baby check exam and subjected her to 4 shots - yikes! Could not really help it but our timing couldn't be any worse. We had to fly off to India in 2 days so better that she be immunized than not.

But its not like we did not celebrate this huge milestone. We had our little N's first birthday party on Aug 17, a little earlier than her actual bday. And it was just wonderful! Lots of work but worth all of it :) Most of our friends attended and everyone loved how cute you looked in that pretty dress and shoes. We played Musical Chair and Pinnata with the tiny tots in the party. Mommy had chosen a theme of Hugs and Stitches for you although she had really wanted to do an Ocean Wonders Aquarium theme coz all your baby gear (bouncer, swing, mobile, playmat) was of the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium theme. Oh well, maybe next time. And to top it all, daddy made sure your cake was made to order with the Hugs and Stitches theme too (see above) :-)

My love, here's to you and your long life...(a song from the Fun N Frolic CD you have grown to like lately and which we played when you cut the cake):

It's a hap-hap happy birthday,
May you live to be, a hundred-and-three;
It's a hap-hap happy birthday,
A hap-happy birthday to you.

Take a bow, take a bow on your birthday,
Your birthday, your birthday;
Show us how, show us how on your birthday,
You still look as good as new.

It's a hap-hap happy birthday,
May you have luck galore, knock at your door;
It's a hap-hap happy birthday,
A hap-happy birthday to you.
A hap-happy birthday to you.
A hap-happy birthday to you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

R2I Plan - Crazy Busy!!!

I just thought since this is a crazy crazy crazy phase of my life - both at home and at work, I must record it somehow so that one day when all of this is behind us, I can reflect and marvel at how we made the R2I thing happen.

Not to say that we didn't know this was going to happen eventually. But when things pick up momentum, it all happens so fast that you don't even realize when time flew by. You suddenly DO NOT have the luxury of planning or envisioning how you'd make the move finally happen.

So here's a brief glimpse of how crazy our days look like currently. Our goal is to wrap up everything and fly out from San Francisco to Mumbai on Aug 27 2008!
  • July 6 - July 15: DH flies out to India finalizing the new job
  • July 16: Countdown begins. We need to finalize our move so that he can join in Bangalore by early Sept.
  • July 23: I inform my manager at work about the impending move and its implications to my current job. Go in with a heavy heart and an intention of discussing a last date, transition plan etc. But get pleasantly surprised on hearing that they want me to continue with them even if it is remote - atleast for the first 6-9 months! Wow!
  • July 30: Have informed the key folks at work about this change in my role and the fact that we are working on a short term engagement plan so that I can still continue in this capacity from Bangalore.
  • Aug 7: My boss arranges for a farewell lunch in my honor for our entire team. The lunch was something I will never forget - not coz I had such good company but mainly coz I had to undergo the humiliation of getting a driving ticket while driving with 2 co-workers and my boss on our way to lunch :( Thankfully they were really sympathetic since it was a very lame violation (overlooked a forced right sign - well I had 3 other folks in the car who didn't see it as well!).
  • Aug 8: I was told that working for my company on a US or Indian salary structure might not work after all since it is a short term assignment and not a long term role. So we need to start looking at the contingent worker arrangement.
  • Aug 15: My last physical day at work.
  • Aug 17: Celebrating our little one's first birthday (a little earlier than her actual bday). So organizing a huge party, inviting every near and dear one we know and killing two birds at a time - farewell and bday bash for little N.
  • Aug 21: Our shipping container folks come in and take away all the stuff we need to ship to India.
  • Aug 22: My under-grad friends from hostel days in India flying down from various parts of the US to spend the weekend with me. I am so touched by this gesture of theirs...sigh...I'm gonna miss them.
  • Aug 25: Little N's actual first birthday! Earlier plans were to take her to the temple but now we need to take her for her well check exam so that she can get her immunizations! Ouch!
  • Aug 27: Chalo India!!! We fly out this evening to Mumbai. A lot of mixed emotions...primarily nostalgic and sad about leaving behind our memories we built here in the last 10 years.
See? Like one of my friends said - you have left no room at all for a change of mind :-) is that how my hubby planned it for me on purpose? ;-) Will have to go poke him abt this...

So here's hoping everything falls in place and go per plan...and the transition to India is smooth for us and our little N. BTW we are maintaining a checklist of things to do before and after R2I. Look for it in one of my future posts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Baby's Current Likes and Dislikes

Here are a few things that my little one is fascinated with these days (she is 11months & 1 week old currently):
  • Walking without support: She just recently learnt taking a few brave steps without holding our hands. So she has made a cute game out of it. Basically mommy and daddy sit on the floor and DD shuttles from one to the other with her arms extended out towards us and screaming in delight, trying to cover the distance with her new found skill of walking as soon as she can before she falls on the floor! It is the cutest thing ever to watch her do that over and over and over again. Sometimes she does not cover the distance successfully without a fall so she gets up and goes off again. She looks like a winding doll whom you wind and leave and it just dashes out - running from mommy to daddy and then from daddy back to mommy!I really wish I could capture this cute newfound joy of hers on camera but there is no way either of us can do it since we are both down on the floor cheering her and hugging her tight when she reaches us with those cute extended arms calling out to be picked up and hugged and the cute smile and squeals of joy!
  • Climbing up and down the doorstep: This is another funny one where she wants to hold both our hands with her tiny fingers and just climb down from the door step and instantly turn around and climb up. Basically I think she has just discovered climbing and likes to practice it again and again and again tirelessly on the same spot. She does this also when she hits a curbside while walking outdoors by the sidewalk. She loves to climb up and down the curb (obviously holding both our hands) until our backs hurt coz of bending down to help the tiny one :-)
  • Picking up things off the floor and mouthing them: When she is not walking or climbing, she is either cruising the house holding on to furniture or crawling on all fours. And when she crawls, she spots the tiniest bits of dirt or food stuff and before we can even react or say NO, it is in her mouth! Isn't it crazy that when I want her to mouth her food off her plate or high chair, she won't. But when I don't want her to, she will pick up every bit of food that is fallen on the floor and put it in her mouth. If she can't reach for something on the floor with her fingers, we have even seen her lie flat down on her tummy and try and pick it up straight with her mouth! Sometimes it is tempting to just feed her off the floor - atleast that way she will eat something herself :-)
  • Sitting down on the floor and clapping when she hears music: Or what we call dancing where she holds on to us and bends and straightens her knees when listening to music. And her favorite CD these days is Preeti Sagar's Fun and Frolic. Her favorite musical book is the Vtech's Nursery Rhymes.
  • Picking up her toy phone or our cell phone and putting it up to her ear: As if to say "hello". She also just loves playing with our blackberries. So we use it to distract her when she is throwing a tantrum over something.
  • Laptop/PC: She just climbs all over our laptop or PCs when we are working on it. She has even managed to remove 2 keys from my laptop so far.
  • Grabbing our glasses or jewelery: She is soooo quick at grabbing our glasses right out of our eyes and into her mouth. If there was an Olympics competition in its speed, she would have won it by completing the task in nano seconds! And then there is the jewelery. Any jewelery that me or the nanny wears, she will try to grab in her mouth.
  • Swing: We take her to the park nearby for walks now and then. She was initially tentative about the swing or the slide and such but now she just looooooves swinging high and low in the infant bucket swing. She screams in delight each time we push the swing high. It is such a joy to see these little ones enjoy little pleasures in life. The other thing she wants to do in the park is hold our hands and walk in the sand. I think she will also love going to the beach though we haven't done that with her yet.
  • Looking out the Window: Every morning when she wakes up, the first thing she wants to do these days is go to the bedroom window and stand on the window sill. So it is mostly daddy's job to carry and take her there where she stands and bats at the window pane and look outside. Just last weekend, she was doing that and daddy was talking to her showing her cars passing by as usual and saying "dekho gaadi". And suddenly she said "gaadi". Man! That was sooo precious! Mommy instantly woke up and she even repeated it a while later - saying "gaadi". She also stands on the living room window sill or bat at the patio door. I think just being outdoors is what she loves.
And here are a few things that she is not so thrilled by currently:
  • Bathing: As I mentioned in my earlier post, she has developed a dislike towards bathing lately for some reason. So we have started taking turns to take her in the shower with one of us before she sleeps at night (as opposed to the nanny bathing her during the day). She seems to like that fine.
  • Hair clips or rubber bands in her hair: Since she was born with a full head of hair, they were long enough by now to come in her eyes all the time. So we had started either making 1 or 2 ponytails (she looks really cute in 2) or putting on a hair clip. But lately, as soon as we did that, she would instantly pull it out along with some of her hair. Yikes! So daddy decided that's it. She got her first hair cut on Monday, Aug 5 '08 by daddy. Mommy was holding her while dear nanny was trying to keep her amused. She did not seem to mind the scissors in her hair at all. And she looks even cuter with short hair now :-) Here is a pic with her and the nanny in her new hair cut.
Little N with her dear Nanny

Friday, August 1, 2008

Here's to the Nanny

As we finalize our plans to move back to India next month, we go through our checklist of things to take care of here. There are so many things to do and soooooo many people to inform such as our landlord, our nanny, our bosses at work, our doctors, dentists, beauticians and obviously alllll our friends. The list just goes on and on. But amongst all of these, the person I was dreading the most to break the news to was our baby's nanny. After us mommy and daddy, our nanny is the next closest person that our baby is attached to. The lady has literally raised my DD since she was almost 2 months of age. Ever since DD turned 3 months, I have gone back to work full time and it was this woman who was nurturing her, feeding her, bathing her, teaching her how to play, how to walk, how to talk, taking her to walks around the block and then later to the park. Not that we were never there for DD but obviously given that we both had full time jobs as well, she was with the nanny for a major portion of each day. So in the past year or so, its like our family has not grown by 1 but 2 new members - our DD and our DN (Dear Nanny) whom we call Auntie out of love and respect.

There was another "Auntie" we had hired before her but she was such a huge contrast to this loving lady that she had us in bitter tears in less than 3 weeks after which we literally paid her to not show up at our place ever after. Anyways, our short lived experience with her is another story altogether and maybe some day a different post on the blog. But today, I just wanted to dedicate this entry to our dear Auntie who is as much of a mother to our baby as I am.

You know, I had recently read this book called The Perfect Stranger. It opened my eyes to how much we take for granted about these "strangers" who leave their own homes and loved ones every day to take care of ours and how they rejoice as much in each milestone of the baby as we do. And yet how soooo many times we take these wonderful people so much for granted and shrug it off saying its just their job. I am not saying that it isn't but there is also an emotional aspect involved here - the joy in watching their labor of love (the kid) growing up that most of us do not have in our typical jobs.

In any case, I digress. Let's get back to my story. So the other day we did gather up the courage to inform Auntie that we are leaving to go back to India in a month. At first she thought we are just going for a month to visit so she goes "ok". Then I had to clarify saying we are going back for good. That was when it struck her and she just broke down into tears! Not because she was going to have to find another job, not because she would miss us but because she was going to miss the little baby she raised so carefully and lovingly. She instantly hugged DD and said to me oh why are you all going...why don't u just let DH go...I will come and stay with you at nights...and so on. I couldn't help crying myself and my DH also felt so terrible for doing this to her. We obviously told her that we'll help her find a much better job and that it is all for the good. But in our hearts, at that moment, we did feel really bad.

So here's to the Dear Nanny (our Auntie) who has a heart of gold. Here's hoping she finds a family who is far more loving than us and they enjoy her services much longer than we could.

Anyways, I had started out this post with the intention of posting a few recipes that Auntie used to cook up for DD since she was 8-9 months old and was eating solids well. So here I go:

1). Churi with gud - this is a very yummy punjabi dish that my mom used to make when I was a kid. I just didn't know that it can be modified to make it suitable for babies too. Auntie basically makes a fresh chappati and minces it very well while it is hot. At the same time she adds ghee and ground gud (jaggery) or sugar to this minced mixture and either leaves it in that powdery form or gathers it like a soft laddu. This one is my personal favorite...I think I enjoyed eating the leftovers more than my DD did :-) And I thought this was the tastiest way to use up left over chappatis - so I'd make it for dinner sometimes for me and DH. (Obviously for DD it was always fresh chappatis and not leftovers).
2). Churi with sabzi - this is prepared in the same manner as above but the gud/sugar is replaced by any boiled sabzi (obviously without any masalas) that is prepared at home. This way the baby gets to eat roti sabzi at a very young age. The trick with both churis for babies is to mince it really really well which can only be done while the chappati is hot. So obviously, I could never get it to be like Auntie's.
3). Dal with Daliya - Take some ghee in a cooker, add some daliya (broken wheat) to it and seko it for a bit. Then add washed moong dal, water and some salt. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. The nutritious dal with daliya is ready.
4). Anda Kela (Eggs with Banana) - Mash a boiled egg with banana together so that it binds well. Auntie said this was easier and less messier to feed than feeding just the egg alone.
5). Dahi Kela (Yogurt with banana) - Mash a banana into a few spoonfuls of whole fat organic yogurt.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Recent Bomb Blasts in India

My heart sank as soon as I read this news...and to imagine the first place I saw this was not on a news site but on a blog! This one from Chitra to be specific. And suddenly a fear gripped me - were we doing the right thing by deciding to move back to India? Is this really the best decision for our kids? Spoke to my DH and he shrugged it off saying these things can happen anywhere - you really can't predict. True but isn't the track record and probability of Bay Area, CA much lesser than the metros in India so far? To that my DH says - the probability of getting into a car crash is higher than getting caught in a bomb. Maybe so...but still...isn't this like purposely digging our own grave? I am sure I am overreacting here but after hearing such news, who doesn't!

And then the next day it is the same tragedy in Ahmedabad!!!??? They were as cruel as to plant a bomb inside a hospital in Ahmedabad! Is God trying to tell me something here? First it is the city we are planning to move to and the next day it is the city I spent 5 golden years of my college life in. Is it just a series of bad coincidences or should I really be taking a hint? My DH doesn't seem to deter from his decision to move back inspite of all this - sometimes I wish I was not as big a worrier as I currently am. I remember we used to tease my mom growing up when she used to worry like crazy for me and my brother. We used to make fun of her worrying about us for nothing and call her the President of Chintamani Association. But since I have had munchkin, I am beginning to get there myself. Life does come full circle doesn't it?

I do pray for all those injured and dead in these horrific set of events the past 2 days. And like Chitra says in her blog, I do hope the goodness of humanity rules in the end. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coping with a viral infection/sore throat

So remember how I mentioned here that my hubby was traveling overseas for the first time since our little one was born? Well, he got home safe and sound thankgod for that...but he also brought along a virus! Yikes! Poor guy was down sick one entire week (fever, chills, cough, cold, bodyache....ugh). And all along he just kept worrying that our munchkin shouldn't catch it. We tried taking all possible precautions but I guess she just had to get out of one sickness and into another.

So the following Sunday morning when she woke up and coughed - my ears stood up instantly! This was not her normal cute little cough to attract our attention. This was she really coughing :-( By that afternoon, she was running a temperature and we were like - oh nooooo! This little baby has never been ill so far and now it is one after another. Anyways, we got her on Tylenol thinking that will help with the fever. But it was a stubborn one. I kept giving her Tylenol every 4-5 hours but by that night her fever was 102.5 F and it just refused to go down. So the next morning, I took off from work and took her to the doc. They checked her for ear infection, lungs, etc. and declared - it is a viral infection that probably spread from daddy. Her ears and lungs were ok but her throat was infected which was causing the fever. And there really is no medication for this. It will take its course and pass out from the system. A few things they suggested were cold compress (wet a washcloth with tap water and apply to her forehead), stand with her in the restroom right after someone has taken a shower (or turn on the shower but stand outside the tub in the restroom) so that the steam helps with the congestion, run a humidifier in her bedroom at night, give her lots of fluids, try Motrin or Advil (which have ibuprofen instead of Tylenol which has acetaminophen) and increase her dose of hugs and kisses and outpouring love :-)

They did warn me that this is contagious so I should be careful too. But I am sure you guys already know that was easier said than done right? The fact that I caught the bug as soon as she recovered is a whole another story. But going back to the munchkin, it is amazing how strong these tiny ones are built by nature. They fall sick fast but they also bounce out of it equally fast - and oh how thankful I am for that. Coz her fever started on Sunday and by Tuesday she was better again. As my close friend N (who told me about the BRAT diet) says, kids have to go through this phase of falling sick once. If they haven't fallen sick in their entire first year, then it can come when they join daycare. But if somehow they cruise through that phase too without sickness then it will definitely come when they join school at 5 years of age. But they have to go through this once...and this is what builds their immunity.

So that is the only positive aspect to this tough phase coz otherwise as you all would agree it is just sooo hard to see your little one suffering.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sudden Bathing Fear

My little one has always been the types who loooves water. Ever since she was born, she would love splashing in the bathtub or sitting in the bath while we pour water over her. I even remember when she was barely a few months old, we used to bathe her in her infant tub which had a sling and even there she would lie in peace enjoying the water. But all of a sudden last weekend she started howling and screaming while the nanny was bathing her as usual. She was shocked and called me to the bathroom and as soon as I showed up, poor baby started trying to stand and cling to me crying loudly with her eyes closed! At first I thought maybe she is just doing it coz I am home today and she wants to cling to me more than the nanny. But this is continuing everyday since then...even when I am not home during weekdays. Lord knows what got into her all of a sudden. I have been asking a few friends and they all tell me it is a everything else, this will pass too. Kids go through phases of liking and disliking water so this might be temporary. Either that she has grown up now and has started understanding her likes and dislikes more and so she has decided that she dislikes water now. Or that she has had some kind of a minor accident while bathing like slipping or soap in her eyes that has got her all worked up over something.

So what do my Desi-American friends suggest? Two things - try getting into the tub or shower with her so that she can cling to you and can gradually get over her fears. Or try distracting her with some toys to play with in the bath so that she enjoys that while bathing. And what does my Indian nanny say? Maybe kisi ki nazar lag gayi hogi (someone probably cast a bad spell on her). So we should utaro the nazar (remove the spell) by rotating salt over her head and letting it go in flowing water.

And what does the Indian-American mom in me say? Well I say...doesn't hurt in trying all of the above remedies. Who knows what might here I am...this time willing to give everything a try - the scientific as well as the cultural remedies :-) Will let you all know in a few weeks how it goes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questions about baby care in India

As we plan out our return to India in the coming months, here are just a few of the questions floating my mind which no one seems to be able to answer. Feel free to go through them and share your knowledge via your comments and replies to this post:

  1. The most important and absolutely unanswered question amongst all - what is the equivalent of baby formula in India? Is there such a thing in India? I have heard people say Cereal or Farex but aren't those cereals that you actually mix in milk? I am looking for the equivalent of Enfamil or Similac or Good Start...that actually IS milk for the baby.
  2. Is there a structured way to review/research pediatricians in a particular city in India? I know most likely the answer is no...but still wondering if there is a remote chance.
  3. Do the pediatricians and experts there also recommend weaning the babies to a sippy cup after 1 year of age? And do we even get sippy cups in India?
  4. I suspect most Indian moms make baby food at home but are there good brands that actually sell pre-packaged baby food according to the stages in India?
  5. At what age do they suggest introducing cow's milk to babies in India? Here in the US, it is after 1 year of age. But I suspect they do it much sooner in India. And if so, what brand or kind of milk does one buy for babies? Here most parents go for an organic whole fat version.
  6. What about introducing solids to little ones? Here they have a certain pattern that is recommended - rice cereal followed by vegetable and fruit purees. And they tell us to avoid wheat cereal, eggs and dairy until much later. Also they tell us to introduce one thing at a time and watch baby's reaction for 2-3 days. What about in India?
  7. What brand of diapers are the most popular and most economical to buy for babies there?
Like I said earlier...this is just a sample of the innumerable questions that go on in my mind. There probably is no end to this but I'd really appreciate if you have answers to any of these to begin with and can leave it in your feedback to this post.

Coping with Stomach Flu

My hubby had to travel last week - his first time away since our baby was born. So obviously all of us were a little nervous about the baby would behave after he left, how I would manage every single day with a full time job and the baby, how my hubby would cope being away from her etc. In any case, he left for an overseas trip on Sunday evening and as I was about to step out the door to get to work on Monday morning, the little one suddenly threw up all of her milk on the kitchen floor. It was so sudden and forceful and it just wouldn't stop! Mind you - this from a 10.5 month old baby who has never been ill so far (knock on wood!). So after she threw up, I gave her some water followed by Gripe Water (this is the Indian mommy in me). But she threw that up instantly as well!

I was stumped! Called the doctor's office and all they said was she does not need to come in for a visit yet. Asked us to give her half strength formula for the next 2 feedings and no solids at all. Then if she is ok, I can give her regular formula and light food such as crackers, cereal, etc. So after the nanny convincing me that she'll be ok, I left for work. The baby seemed to do fine the rest of the day on half strength formula. So the next morning I thought she is out of it and life is back to normal. So I gave the nanny a her usual regular strength bottle and stepped in the shower. I come out to see that the nanny is wiping the chair and poor baby had thrown up all of it again :-(

So this time I call and make a doctor's appointment, cancel going to work. The doc explained that it is probably a combination of a stomach virus and some teething (she went potty twice and was a little more liquidy than usual). She said we probably hurried in getting her back to the normal strength formula. Asked us to go easy on solids and continue with the half strength bottle for a while. Then gradually bring her back to normal diet and bottle. There is no medication for this but it takes a couple days or more for the stomach flu to pass. Whew! I have never seen the poor little one sick before. And between feedings she really was not sick as such - she was playing and laughing fine. Its just that she lost interest in eating all of a sudden - even refused to nurse from me the first 2 days!

So anyways, I wanted to figure out what to give her to eat and got all sorts of conflicting advise from our Indian nanny. The doc says to give rice but the nanny says rice is heavy. The doc says to give banana but the nanny says bananas are heavy. The doc said no citrus fruits cause it might cause irritation in the stomach but my nanny gave cherries (I am just glad she did not give strawberries from the fridge)! My mom and mum-in-law say give Gripe Water 2-3 times a day but the baby always throws it out. Other suggestions were - dal ka paani (lentil soup), jeera ka paani (water boiled with cumin), laung ka paani (water boiled with cloves), sauf ka paani (water boiled with fennel) and so on...

Finally it was my close friend who gave me an easy to remember recipe in such cases. It is called the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice (Cereal or just Rice), Applesauce and Toast (or White Bread). This was sooo helpful and so easy to remember! She also said no yogurt (though in India we think yogurt is light and easy to digest) but since it has dairy the docs don't recommend it here during diarrhea/vomiting. Also Pedialyte was suggested strongly amongst all my friends instead of any solids or the types of waters that were mentioned above. Pedialyte for those Indian moms is like Electral powder that we get in India to replenish lost fluids and nutrients during dehydration.

So I got her on bananas, rice, pedialyte (though she didn't take a lot of that), crackers and apples (she refused applesauce). Then gradually gave her some lentil soup followed by churi (minced chappatis with ghee and gud) which was kinda closer to her original diet. Thankfully she has been able to digest these so far! She has also graduated from half to 3/4th strength formula bottles during the day (I nurse her at night).

We are now waiting for daddy to return home tomorrow and all will be well again :-)