Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Before Amnesia Sets In - Part 2

I had written a post earlier on a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding baby care. Wanted to continue with the same thought process before I forget all these precious minute details again.

Weaning off the Bottle

I wanted to pen down one of the biggest accomplishments me and my little brat have made recently. We had been away to my in-laws and then my parents place over the last month for my bro's wedding. So I took this opportunity to turn my gradual bottle weaning process into an accelerated one coz anyways my target was to wean her off the bottle completely before the wedding. And although it was tough initially seeing the poor baby ask for the bottle time and again and being cranky without it, I am proud to announce that she has finally changed her ways and has been successfully weaned off the Dr. Brown's bottles! Whew!

I must say though that in many ways I was actually happy with her milk intake through the bottle. She drank more than 3 bottles at times (6-7 ounces each). Now with a cup, it has come down to one good full cup in a day and maybe a sip or two here and there. Quite a drastic drop from what she used to take earlier. I am trying though to make it up with other calcium rich foods like cheese, yogurt, milk in her cereal etc. And I do see that she is eating better now that her tummy does not get full with milk alone. But the eating part could just be coz she is growing up and needs more anyway. Oh moms can't stop worrying about what kiddos eat I guess. But atleast this is one big milestone that little N has finally accomplished after me really wondering if she's gonna continue with the bottles forever :-)

So here's how we did it. I tried the gradual process for a month or so before I left town. Used to give her milk from a cup at nights and got her used to falling asleep without a bottle in the bed. Once she got a little used to that process, I stopped bottles during the day as well. The only one she got was when she woke up in the morning and sometimes after her afternoon nap as well. Coz for the longest time she needed that as a comfort factor and as a tummy filler to wake up happy. If she didn't get that she would be really cranky and would not stop sucking on her thumb. So when she was fully awake, she had no issues drinking from a straw cup or a normal cup. There were many a nights when she did not drink enough from a cup and so did not sleep well (which obviously meant mommy and daddy did not sleep well either). But I did not give into a bottle feed at night to make sure she gets the message that she should drink sufficiently from the cup before turning in at night so that she does not get hungry at night again. In any case, one fine day when she had finished her evening bottle on the couch, she was fiddling with it and turned the nipple upside down and said "oh it broke". I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and emphasized again and again how she broke the bottle and how she cannot have milk in the bottle anymore. This logic worked for all her day and night milk intake except for the first bottle in the morning. And I was not in ready to take on that battle yet so quietly sneaked it into her while her eyes were closed anyways. The day we were leaving Bangalore though (Nov. 18th) she opened her eyes during the early morning feed and said "the bottle is fixed now!". And I was shocked! My hubby said its time we take this morning bottle away too. So travelling to Bombay was the best opportunity to do that. Once there, I told her the bottle was broken and so we left it at our Bangalore home. She did not like it a bit and cried for it for 2 days. I just did not give in and dealt with a mostly cranky child there. The 3rd day we went to meet one of my friends who has 2 kids, the younger of whom (baby A) was a year old and obviously drank from a bottle. My little N saw that baby drink from exactly the same Dr. Brown bottle and said "I want bottle se duddu". It ached my heart to see her yearn for it like that. So when we got home, I gave in and let her have her bottle again. You should have seen the happiness in that poor child. She was so thrilled after she had her heart's content. But I was again in a fix as to how to tell her it was a one time thing. So we told her that was baby A's bottle and after you had it, we returned it to baby A. Somehow she bought this story and was ok not having a bottle after that again. She cutely kept repeating "A is a chhota baby na, that's why she has bottle se duddu. I am a big girl so I am not sucking bot and saying bottle se duddu" (bot = thumb in konkani). Awww...what a samajhdar little kiddo.

We left for my parents place the next day and changing towns really helped. I could tell her how we left baby A behind and how it was her bottle. So now N will have cup se duddu. And I had to distract her with lots of stories, books, Dora on TV or watching kids play in the building's lobby - even late at nights before bed. But all that hard work paid off and little N finally took to drinking from a cup. So the last bottle she had was on Nov. 20 when she was almost 2 years and 3 months. Whew! I must say making them drink milk from a cup is more labor for us moms. And inspite of all that hardwork on our part, they don't drink as much as they used to anyway. So I really wonder whether it is worth all the hassle. I mean I had relatives visiting us during the wedding who said our kids had bottles till they were 5 years old. They didn't see it is a big deal that a 2 year old was still taken to a bottle. Infact they told me I weaned her off quite early. Now I am not sure if the tried and tested old ways are correct of the pediatrician's warnings of bottles being unhygienic as they have more crevices to clean. Oh well...whatever it is...I have seen it is easier to change habits sooner than later. So having to do this when she was 4 or 5 would have been far tougher I think.

My next project with her now is teaching her how to eat her meals by herself and getting her out of the thumb sucking habit. Efforts are still on and I will surely do a post once we achieve complete success. So stay tuned :-)

Potty Training

I wrote a post earlier on how we started little N's potty training at 18 months and were mostly done in a month or so. For details, please go to the post here and read from 4th paragraph onwards - "the other milestone I had planned for her at this age was to start her potty training...."

Settling down in her First School

Again, just creating a list of all these milestones here for a quick reference. I had written about how we got her to settle down in her first school ever and learn to stay away from mommy/daddy for a bit. That is always a worry for parents and by the time we get around to doing it again for the second kiddo, we tend to forget the details of how the first one did it. So read the post about it here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blogging has been slow lately...

since I was away the entire past month for my brother's wedding. Just got back home the day before yesterday in time for our 5th wedding anniversary yesterday. But obviously couldn't do much in terms of celebration since we were too drained out from all the wedding festivities and travel. Will be back to the blogging world soon I'm sure. Currently there has been so much going on but I think I am also facing a writer's block...dunno where and what to start writing about :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mamma AND Papa

"Kitta loves Mamma AND Papa" is her latest and most endearing sentence these days. It started when Papa (my hubby) had to go out of town for a couple of days last week. He left for Pune on Wednesday and got back on Friday night. Little N was ok while he was gone coz I had explained to her that he is gone on an aeroplane to Poona. She asked for him atleast once a day but when I asked her where he is, she promptly replied "Papa gone to office and aeroplane to Poona". All was well until he finally returned on Friday night. She was just about to fall asleep after cuddling with mommy for hours and listening to a bunch of stories. But as soon as she saw Papa at the door, she was so thrilled! She had fun for the next hour playing on the bed with mommy and daddy. And amidst all that fun, we heard her say for the first time "Kitta loves Mamma and Papa"!!! (She calls herself Kitta). And then she said..."I will do ta-ta (means sleep) on the bed and look at Mamma and Papa".

What a delight to these ears. I mean these are emotions straight from her one has taught her how to say this...isn't it amazing that she has finally reached the age where she can connect words to actually articulate what she is truly feeling!? Hearing such words from my child really reinforces something that I already believe in - that a child does need both the parents. One can never replace the other. Its not that she was unhappy with me for these 2 days but the joy in her voice and on her face when she found both of us together was just amazing.

Darling Kitta, Mamma and Papa also love you! Lots and lots and looooots...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of school admissions and such

Wow what a morning we had - me and my child - I tell ya! Totally filmy. Started with me learning last night that one of the popular schools in our area (NPS) is giving out admission forms for Montessori and LKG starting today. And as you've read in my previous post how I've learnt that you really have to know where you want to send your child even before h/she turns 2 so that you can start the entire process in time. Gosh - little did I know what's in store for me this morning.

So first of all, some background on my rationale here. I was always of the opinion that I am not too crazy about these bigger schools yet coz my daughter is really too little right now. And even in June of next year she'll only just be 2 yrs 9 months. So still a little early for me to start worrying about her admission to LKG. The only reason I would even think of applying to big schools like NPS would be coz they have a Montessori stream of education where they take kids who turn 3 in June (give or take a few months). This way the kid gets a Montessori education and automatically goes to the 1st grade from there. So not only does the kid get the full benefit of the Montessori system for 3 years but the double benefit is that the parents do not have to worry about admissions to a bigger school again after their Montessori education is up. That was going to be the only reason that would make me even turn my head towards big schools like NPS. But again, in my mind, the school had to be very close to where we live and it had to have a warm and fuzzy feel for my kid. So when I came across the NPS HSR website last night and saw they were giving out forms starting today, I called one of my other friends who is also in the same boat as me. We both decided to drop our little ones to their playschool the next morning and then co-ordinate collecting forms from the 2 schools - NPS HSR and NPS Koramangala. Sounds simple so far right? Little did I know how huge a deal it would be for everyone that there would be a queue for miles and miles for such things. I had decided that I'll not get worked up like other parents, and coolly walk into one school and stand in line. If I get the form till 11:30 great, if not, I will leave the line, pick up N from school at 12:15, come home and try the next day. That was my plan since the start.

But reality had something else in store for me. Here's what transpired this morning. After an early start in the morning and several co-ordinating phone calls later I learn that my friend's dad has already gone to NPS HSR to collect forms for her daughter T. So reshuffling of plans hapenned amidst all the craziness of getting the little ones ready for school. I finally got out of the house, dropped N to school at 9:45am and co-ordinated with this other friend A who offered to give me a ride to the school. Reached NPS HSR at 10 and almost fell off my feet on seeing how long the queue was!!! I was almost ready to turn around and leave coz there was no way I would get even near the school gate till 11:30. And they were only giving out forms from 9-11am according to their website. Yet I tentatively dragged my feet towards the end of the spiral never ending queue and asked the lady at the tail end of the queue if this was the line for admission forms. As she turns her head towards me we both exclaim! She turns out to be my classmate from school (we'll call her S) whom I haven't met since I left school 15 years ago! Now isn't that really just like out of the movies! I said to her if this was one of my ex-boyfriends I would be meeting like this, it would be really really filmi! :-D Oh we start excitedly catching up on every little detail...which hugely helped the 2 hours go by much sooner than it seemed. All the while we just couldn't get over the way met. Turns out she does not live too far from our place and has bought a new place even closer to ours now. I again digress. Back to the 'eventful morning details'. So I have most of my neighbors/friends calling me to give me real-time updates from the queue at the other school (NPS Koramangala) and such almost every 15 minutes. When the clock struck 11:30, we were in a panic mode coz we weren't too far away from the office in the queue but weren't so close that we can get the form and leave in the next 5 minutes to pick up our kids. We kept staring at the clock and at the queue. Finally both S and I made a call and asked our friends to pick up our kids from playschool. Now I've never done this before and I could not stop imagining N's little face wrinkled up in tears on not seeing mommy after school. I have seen it happen to other kids when their mommies were running late and felt terrible for that one minute of panic and sorrow the little ones find themselves in. But this call had to be made coz just the next 5-10 minutes of patience would get us those much coveted forms or else we'd have to repeat this all over again the next day for the same school and the day after for the other branch (NPS Koramangala). My friends convinced me saying she will be not be in strangers' hands...atleast she is with friends whom she knows pretty well. So she will get over it pretty quickly and will be fine if they put on Dora and prop her in front of the TV. And I would be with her in a matter of minutes anyways. S even said that there is always a first time like this...they'll have to learn to survive such things or else we'll never be able to go back to work! I kind of agreed with this thinking but obviously us moms are always full of guilt. So it killed me to stand there...but I did. I finally grabbed the form at 12:15, rushed out with S and reached home by 12:30. Went to my neighbor's to pick up N and found her in the lap of neighbor's kiddo's grandmom propped in front of Dora playing on TV but crying away saying "Let's go home!" It melted my heart and somehow convinced me that this little baby of mine is definitely not ready to go to a huge school like NPS yet. I will be sending her to one of the warm and fuzzy Montessoris nearby until she is a year or two older. Gosh! The only saving grace out of all this was that this nice friend/neighbor was able to somehow manage getting an extra form for me from NPS Koramangala as she was standing in that line this morning...thus saving me from doing this all over again tomorrow. Huge thanks G. And A and S and all of my other girlfriends who came up and offered me some much needed support without me even having to ask for it today. Such times really make me wonder - what would a girl do without such wonderful girlfriends!

Anyway, after N saw me she couldn't stop telling me to take her home. So I hugged her tight and brought her home. We cuddled on our couch and surprisingly she started telling me between her sobs how she saw Dora and Tiko and Isa and Swiper the Fox at T's house! Gosh and I thought all she did was cry out there :-) Then she asked to see Dora on her 'own' TV which I promptly obeyed. There we sat hugging each other tightly for a while and watching Dora thanking God for simple pleasures. I tried getting up to get some water for the child but she pulled me back saying "No...don't go". I was holding back tears on seeing how shaken up she was. After 5-10 minutes of cuddling, she had a bottle of milk and like a peaceful baby fell asleep cozily in my arms. I love you my little child and I am soooo not ready for you to get lost in a huge school yet.

The irony of this while episode is that I was the mom who used to crib in the US saying how everyone rushes to send their kids to school at such a young age in India...and that I'll never fall prey to that madness. And here I was this morning doing the exact same thing! Yes...I can always justify it was solely for the Montessori and what not...but part of me still knows that in the end it is a big school and she will not get the one on one attention she might get in a small or mid-size preschool. But knowing me, I am positive I will still end up filling the form and dropping it off anyway. If she does end up getting accepted, that will be another debate with self...and I don't want to even think about it right now. Will cross that bridge when I come to it. But tell me folks...isn't this falling prey to the exact system I did not want to get into in the first place? What would you have done? Would you have stuck to a mid-size Montessori and gone through this entire madness for getting admissions in the 1st grade? Or would you tackle it all right now and not have to worry about their admission process again in 2-3 years? I personally was always inclined towards not having children go through unnecessary stress so early in their lives. But still can't fail to wonder how I had almost started falling prey to this madness myself! Views? Opinions?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How much more desi and domesticated can I get

Let me say first of all that I don't intend to offend anyone who can relate to this post or dresses up like this...but I thought what hapenned the other day was pretty funny. And I just had to blog about it so that I can come back to this post and laugh when I needed a funny moment.

So there I was getting ready to run a long overdue errand (go to the passport office to renew my recently expired passport). And while I was finally out the door and walking towards my car, a funny thought crossed my mind. I thought "Look at me - all dressed in a jeans with a long desi kurti (the ones you can pair with a salwar), wearing an open toed V-shape slip-ons in my feet, carrying a purse with a long shoulder strap (the kinds whose looks I hate but only carry it now coz it is convenient with a toddler to carry most times along with) and finally - carrying all the necessary documents in a plastic carry bag (instead of a manila folder or my nice red shoulder-cum-laptop bag like I would have normally done just a year ago while in the US). I mean really how much more desi and domesticated could I get???!!!"

And then to top it all, when I went to school after that to pick up little N, one of the other moms there asked me why was I all dressed up today? Really I thought? I mean this was as dressed down as I could be...the most casual look that goes on around here in India. So are you trying to tell me that on other days I am dressed up worse than this? LOL :-)

Nyways, the whole point is that just a year ago, before I was a stay-at-home-mom living in India, I was a person who would never be caught on the streets dressed down in this manner. My definition of dressed down used to be a pair of track pants and an old t-shirt with sneakers or some other form of closed toe comfortable shoes. Thats probably coz my wardrobe consisted mainly of formal wear that I wore to work in the US (pants, tops, sweaters, etc.) or really old clothes I wore at home. None of the in-between ethnic kurtis and stuff. And I was one of those who, for some strange reason, used to frown upon people toting plastic bags to carry documents and such and wearing V-shaped flip-flops that make your feet all dirty in the dust and mud in the streets here. I guess now that you know this part of me, you've finally realized the humor in this story huh :-) Its funny how these stupid dressing notions were so deeply imbibed in my mind that this thought crossed my mind without me even realizing it. Now all that was remaining was a bindi on my appearance and I would fully qualify as one of the manibens from Gujarat ;-)

In all positiveness though, what I wore that day was quite comfortable in the weather conditions here. No wonder this 'look' is so popular amongst women in India. So moral of the story - sometimes you just gotta believe in jaisa des, waisa bhes and give it a try yourself huh.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Second Birthday My Child

Dear Little N,

You turned 2 almost a month ago now and I've been meaning to write you this huge milestone letter since then but you have been so busy at keeping me busy that I hardly found time to pen down all the stuff you've been up to :-) But I guess that's how toddlerhood is supposed to be. And trust me I am loving every moment of seeing you grow up so big so soon! Its like all of a sudden you've found soooooo many words that you are able to join them all in various languages to express everything you want to say! I mean to me it sure sounds like you are suddenly talking like a grown up coz it took you longer than most kids to start talking in the first place given that you poor little baby were exposed to 4 different languages since you were born. So ofcourse you took your own time to process it all and then finally picked your preference which interestingly was niether your papa's or your mom's mothertongue - it was a third medium altogether - English. What were we thinking right ;) Its almost like you went to school and suddenly within 3 months picked up a whole new language along with all its grammar and everything. You amaze us when you construct complete sentences such as "Ant coming to take my chhota ball" or "Want to play ball" or "N... fell down from bed here" and millions of other such things. The cutest part is you don't yet use the words "here" or "there". So when you want to say these words in a sentence, you point to the place and make a sound aaaiiinn (can't quite figure out how to spell it but it sounds like hain).

Other than talking up a storm, you also know your numbers (1 - 10), alphabet (A-Z) and your colors so well! I mean you are just 2 years old for godssake and just until a few days ago everytime you counted anything, you said "8,10". And now you rattle off "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10"! Even with colors, I was shocked one day when you started opening your box of pencil colors and took out each one telling me what color it was. I mean until just the day before that, you kept just guessing the colors without really looking at the object or knowing which is which. And then suddenly it probably clicked in that cute little head of yours and you started telling me "this crayon is pink", "this is red", etc. Such thrills I tell ya! You love singing your ABCs in the nursery rhyme form and your numbers in the poem 1,2 buckle my shoe.

You have such a huge collection of songs you keep singing these days too. Some of your favorites are "lakdi ki kathi", "itsy bitsy spider", "who made the twinkling stars", "row row row your boat", "om shanti shanti (prayer at school)", "oh isn't it fun to walk in the sun", "teddy bear teddy bear", "johnny works with one hammer" and sooooo many more. Most of these you hear at school and some from our laptop at home (courtesy Best is these days when we play any nursery rhymes DVD, you look at the kids do dances and imitate the steps. Like the Boogie Woogie song, you look so cute dancing along with the babies on TV trying to put your left leg in and shaking it all around!

Oh and how can I forget - your favorite show on TV these days is DORA! Ofcourse it isn't telecasted here in India so we have ripped quite a few Dora DVDs from friends and that is ALL you want to see on TV these days. This craze started a few months ago and has only gotten more intense each passing day. Earlier you always had your breakfast cereal with Dora on TV but lately you want most of your meals propped in front of Dora. Earlier you just watched Dora without batting an eyelid. Nowadays, you actually get down of the sofa and start dancing at songs especially the "We did it" song! Its sooo cute to watch you so thrilled by a character like this that we even dedicated your second birthday party to your favorite character. Yes - I arranged a Dora themed party for your second birthday inspite of not finding a lot of Dora stuff in the markets here. Here's what we did for the Dora theme:

My friend B and I hand made the party invitation cards with all the scrapbooking material I had at home. We spent a lot of time and effort on the invitation cards and the envelopes. It turned out to be a pretty neat looking Dora themed pull out card with ribbons on the envelopes, eyelets for a pullout ribbon and all that jazz. We were so inspired by our own creations that we decided to launch a home based business making greeting cards exclusively! :-) Here's a pic to show you how they looked:

For decorations, I had a friend who bought me huge Dora and Boots rubber stickers which we put on the walls in the party hall. Other than that, we did crape ribbon and other decorations in the Dora color scheme of purple, pink and orange. Thankfully we had a lot of decoration stuff left over from her last bday party in the US. And they were all color co-ordinated too. So it was great to be able to reuse all of that. Another friend gave me a nice Dora and Boots Happy Bday banner and a Dora bedsheet that we used as her cake table-cloth. So it all came together pretty well inspite of me being new to Bangalore and not finding a lot of Dora stuff in the market.

Luckily, I found Dora eye-glasses for the kids to wear other than the party hats and the blowers ofcourse. I also found Dora forks and spoons just enough to serve with the cake. We catered food from Saraswati Sweets and the menu was dhokla, poori, aalu bhaji and jalebi. Other than that, we had lots of snacks like cookies, finger rings, muffins, etc. for everyone - kids and adults.

For games, our main attraction was an automatic bubble blower machine. We just kept it near the entrance and it blew bubbles that just thrilled the kids to no end. After a while though, the floor got so slippery that we had to shut it off. Other than that, I'd researched a lot for Dora themed games and had planned quite a few but time limitations allowed us to play only 2. So for the first one, I had printed out a lot of Dora activity and coloring pages from the Nick Jr. website. Gave all the kids 2-3 sheets each with tonnes of crayons I had bought to be used. They had fun getting creative and showing off their coloring skill. The next was a fishing game in which I filled a tub with water and used around 10 bath floating toys as the fish in the pond. The kids were then given strainers (chai chhannis) and asked to "fish" the toys out one by one. This one was a huge hit and none of the kids wanted to stop doing it at all!

The cake was the part I was most skeptical about but Sweet Chariot did a great job with their computer printed Dora cake. We loved the looks and the yummy taste (Butterscotch). And the most important part of the party - the return gifts. No kid can leave a party without their surprise filled goody bags. I used cute paper bags (again left over from N's first bday party) pink for the girls and green for the boys. Luckily I had found Dora stickers at Oddessey and used them to decorate each goody bag. For the gifts, I had found magic sketch books at the same store which I gift wrapped and threw in lots of stickers and tattoes of various kind and candies in each bag. Parents loved the idea of a magic sketch book coz it is absolutely something non messy and you can hand it to the kids and let them be busy at it for hours. Basically the pages in the book seem blank when you look at them until you rub a pencil on it. That's when the picture appears in the form of a sketch. Pretty neat huh :-)

Here are some pics so you can visualize all that I described:

Gosh - where did I start this long wound post and look where I ended up! Sorry dear N, I got carried away with all the joy of you turning two and mommy getting a chance to express her creative side somewhere! I can never thank you enough for giving us so much joy in life little N. I never really knew what I missed in life until I had you. God bless you and all the other kids in this world with all the joys, happiness and love they so deserve.

Side Note - me and my friend B have decided to commercialize this interest of ours and will be glad to be of service if you ever need an event organized in a particular theme. Just let us know when and where and we can take care of the rest. Now with all the research done and all the material bought, we are quite enjoying this and are getting better at it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wow what a month (and what an year)!

So many milestones and memories in this past month of August 2009. It sure has been one of the most hectic but one of the most memorable of all since we moved back to India a year ago. Let's see where do I start...

* My dear brother chose his life partner and got engaged to a lovely lady on Aug 22 2009. Him being the only sibling I have, ofcourse we were all excited to fly down and join him on this special occassion. But August was also the month full of swine flu scares and tragedies in this country. So plans kept forming and falling apart until the last minute. So the way it ended up, I flew to Pune alone leaving behing hubby dearest with little N for 2 nights. Enjoyed the engagement ceremony but missed them terribly.

* The day after I got back, my in-laws were slotted to fly down from Mumbai to join us for little N's second birthday. This was the first birthday celebration we would have for her in India so was kinda a big reason for a family reunion of sorts. So we celebrated her second bday on Aug 25 at her playschool and then had a party with friends and family on Aug 29.

* A day before N's party, we all (us and inlaws) decided to make a roadtrip to Mysore. Had a good time there, visited the famous Mysore palace, St. Phelomina's church, Chamundi hills, got back at night and prepared for the big event the following day.

* Had a birthday bash for little N at our apartment complex's clubhouse on Aug 29. Incidently, this day was also our 1 year anniversary of moving back to India from the US. One whole year - not even sure how it flew by. N is one year older and speaking volumes now, making new friends and showing us new things she picks up every day. And one whole year of us settling down in India after over a decade in the US. Making new friends, learning new lessons and rediscovering our past every single moment. Truely a year worth cherishing.

* But as they say, all good things come to an end. Our festivities came to a screeching halt when I came down with a bad case of food poisoning (I think my first time ever) on Sept. 1. Little N had a milder version too along with fever and hubby dearest wasn't spared either (thank god his was the mildest of us all). Nyways, had the worst week ever after a nice fun filled month.

All I can say is...thank god for good friends and family around. It feels wonderful to share with them, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs in this roller coaster of life. So much has much has changed and yet it hardly feels like we just uprooted our whole lives and moved to a new place altogether to start all over again. As they say, its not the place...its the people that make every place worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Schools in and around Koramangala, Bangalore

So after all the madness of searching a good Pre-school or Daycare for little N ended a few months ago, its hard to believe that it is already time to worry about where should she go next year onwards. I mean I just got her admitted to a pre-school in June and it is just now that she is actually enjoying it and learning lots from it. And already, it is barely 2 months and I have to worry about where she should go next year!!? The session next year does not even start until June 2010 but the reason we parents need to plan now is that most big schools will release admission forms in September or so (after Dussehra holidays) and you need to grab it asap to apply and be considered on a first come first served basis. Amazing na?

So as we did earlier during our pre-school research, me and my friends aka paranoid moms ;-) started our rounds of visiting schools in and around our area. Here's what we've found so far. I will continue this post in its part 2 as and when I visit more schools in the vicinity.

1). NPS Koramangala: They have both - the Montessori and the Traditional streams of education for junior school. To get admitted into Montessori 1 (first year), the child has to be 3 years of age by June of the academic year for which admission is seeked. If that does not happen, the child cannot get admitted into the Montessori stream at all (unless in cases where they make an exception if he/she has been to a different Montessori before). Now I took this at its face value and came back thinking that since N is an August born child, she is not eligible for NPS montessori at all. But many moms in our community have now informed me that they make exceptions all the time. They themselves have seen cases where there are October/November born kids in Montessori 1. So I have been advised to atleast take the form and apply.
  • Pros: If your child gets into Montessori here, he/she can enjoy 3 full years of Montessori education and then go into 1st standard right here. So they get the full benefit of Montessori way of learning and you as parents need not worry about their re-admissions to a mainstream school all over again. The school follows the CBSE curriculum from 1st standard onwards.
  • Cons: From all the reviews I have heard about this school, they are very academically oriented. Exams, tests, projects, etc. such a young age is not what I would want for my child - but then every parent has a different perspective. Some believe this prepares them for reality in their lives. One more thing - we asked the front desk lady to show us around the school or let us know a date when they can conduct some kind of an orientation for prospective parents and she very nicely refused to extend any sort of a courtesy on that front. I guess this school just goes by its name - either you apply or you don't. You don't get a chance to see it during or after hours.
2). Little Feat Montessori House of Children: I have already written about this place here but that was when I had not visited them yet. I now went and took a tour of this place and they seem very friendly and understanding as a management. They take admissions atleast twice a year (Dec and June). Your child will most likely get in as long as he/she is under 2.5 years of age when you contact them. And the place, their montessori material, infrastructure is pretty good too. I have a lot of friends whose kids go here and the parents are all happy.

3). Vibgyor High (HSR) : The front desk lady here was very different from the one we met at NPS. She actually took a lot of time to show us 4 moms (with our toddlers) around the school. It is a nicely built place with a lot of facilities for the kids and the best part is - they have after school day care on the premises! So kids can spend the rest of the afternoon there if both the parents go to work. To qualify for admission here, the kid needs to be atleast 2 yrs 9 months by June of the academic year. This is when he/she will get admitted into Nursery. If they are atleast 3 yrs 9 months, they get into LKG and then UKG and so on. So according to my kiddo's birthdate, she being August born, will be 2 yrs 10 months in June 2010 and so will absolutely qualify here (unlike at NPS where she needs to be 3 yrs of age). They follow the ICSE board curriculum.
  • Pros: This school claims they do not have a midterm and final exams structure until 4th standard. They do have weekly assessments to judge a child's progress and grade him accordingly. Again, some parents prefer the traditional approach to prepare their child early on. I am not in one of those camps. I would rather my child learn through experiencing things first hand than cramming and taking tests/exams. Another pro, getting admissions into this school seems relatively easier since they are brand new. This is their first functional year.
  • Cons: School is quite far from Koramangala - took us 30 minutes to get there. Might be a good option if you live in Sarjapur or HSR Layout. Also, the campus was pretty much all concrete. And for folks like me who have grown up in schools which has ample ground space for sports like cricket, football, high jump, long jump, PT, etc. it did not appeal much to the eyes. Was too much concrete for my taste.
Other schools we plan to visit in the near future are:
  • DPS (have heard they have a very good campus)
  • Prakriya (have heard very good things about this school - their campus, curriculum, way of teaching and their nursery)
  • Headstart Montessori House of Children (have heard that this Montessori also has classes upto 5th currently and they have aquired land for more)
  • Bethany High (this school has also recently launched a child care center for infants and toddlers who can attend pre-school here and move on to Bethany High from there)
Do let me know if you think of other schools that I should add to my list here. If not, do keep checking for Part 2 of this post.

EDITED ON Oct. 10, 2009 TO ADD : NPS Indiranagar has started giving out admission forms and their other branches (Koramangala and HSR) might start the coming week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Her first Konkani sentence

Little N formed her first sentence in Konkani this evening. She woke up after a 3 hour afternoon nap (which is very rare for her) then insisted on sitting on her high chair and eating 'dadim' and started saying 'Makka stone jaai'. Just like that! Out of the blue! I had to ask her to repeat it almost 10 times before I was convinced that is what she was saying. And then the little smarty translated it for me saying 'Makka stone chahiye' as if mamma couldn't understand what she was asking for :-) I have seen it quite a lot of times now....some nerves in her brain click when she sleeps coz almost every time she gets up from her afternoon nap, she says something so new and marvelous - it makes me proud!

P.S. She has already been forming 3 or 4 word sentences in Hindi and English (mixed). Such as "Mamma eat mummum khaana" since the past month or so. But now the fact that she has started translating words amongst 3 languages - Konkani, Hindi and English is music to my ears. Touchwood!

Monday, July 6, 2009

School Progress Report

So it has been a month now since little N started her first school in life. Her first day was Thursday June 4, 2009 and poor baby had just cried her lungs out the entire 30 minutes. Today on Monday, July 6 I can proudly say that my little baby (I should get over the fact that she is no more a baby but a toddler now huh) has not only stopped crying completely but is actually participating in the activities and learning songs and dances and even showing off at home doing those! What a transformation in just 4 weeks! But oh how long and stressful those 4 weeks were! Not a day passed by when I doubted myself on whether I was doing the right thing by sending her to a playschool at this age. And any comment from any stranger about how little she was and already going to school just made me melt all the more. After she cried violently for the first 2 days, her teachers called me in to see if that would calm her down. And that is when I suggested that I sit with her at school for a few days until she starts trusting them and growing comfortable there. They were nice enough to let me do it and I think thankfully that was the magic charm.

For most other kids, cold turkey approach might work but I know mine is more of a gradual type. For settling in at school, she needed reassurance that mommy was not abandoning her and that her teachers will not harm her. Once she saw that they are mommy's friends too and that mommy is not there to abandon her, she grew comfortable and started playing a little and enacting some songs at school. So that's what I did for the next two and a half weeks. I would go with her at around 9:30 and sit with her untill 11:30 or 12noon every day. Finally we started talking about how to taper it off. Luckily we got an opportunity when my buaji from Pune came to stay with us for the week of June 22. That week on Tuesday, June 23 we decided that we will try and leave N alone at school even if it was for just half an hour each day. And we made sure that this first day, daddy will drop her to school and not mommy. Coz little N is different with each parent - she comes to mommy for comfort and nourishment. And with daddy, she is more playful in general. And she is more used to seeing daddy leave her every morning to go to the office and coming back to her in the evening. So we figured we should give it a try and send her to school with daddy. And that is what we did. That first day of her school, I was so jumpy and kept checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if her school called asking me to come at once and get her. But none of that hapenned. Apparently, she cried when hubby dear left her but he has a stronger heart than mine. He calmly told her that daddy is going to office and will come back and get her and walked off and came back home! I could never have done that. I would be pacing stressfully outside her school (like I did the first 2 days). Then one of her teachers (Meera auntie) made sure to convey to me through our other friend whose kid goes there too that N was fine...not crying violently as before...just sobbing a little off and on. I picked her up an hour later (around 10:30am) and ofcourse she cried when she saw me. But they said her crying was much lesser this time than the first 2 days 3 weeks ago. So the next day, I dropped her to school and she cried when I left. But quietened down in a minute. I remember how bad I felt that day and even called my mom asking if I am doing the right thing. My mom was my pillar of strength that day reassuring me that this is for N's own good and that she will make new friends and enjoy much more there. She will learn to be a little more independent instead of clinging on to mommy most of the day. So I need to have a stronger heart and let her try this atleast for a week or two. She was the only one encouraging me not to give up yet - even my dad and hubby were not so sure :-)

Luckily by Friday, her words came true. When I went to pick up N from school on Friday, Meera auntie said these magical words to me "you will be proud to hear that your daughter actually did Ringa Ringa Roses and Mulberry Bush and participated in all the songs and dances today!" I could not believe my ears and eyes! There she was playing with a kitchen set and not with her favorite Meera auntie but with the other kids and teachers at school! And when I asked her - N shall we go home? She actually said "Naa"! No tears, no wailing...instead she wanted me to come play kitchen with her at school! Thank God for this day. I never knew such a day would arrive.

Since that day, she actually walks with me to school (instead of insisting to be carried) and we sing and hop and skip along the way. She still gives me a sad look when I leave her at the gate (which melts my heart with a pinch of guilt even today). But the fact that at home she is so happilly singing songs she learnt at school and generally associates school with happiness makes me get over all that guilt before I know it. I actually feel proud on days when I ask her what you did at school and she says things like "slide" or "bubbles" or "ringa ringa roses" or the most interesting was when she said "puzzles". I was shocked to hear that word coz she never said it before and has only learnt it at school. I can see so many changes in her behavior now with just 1.5 weeks of her going by herself (without mommy). She has become much more social, more independent in playing by herself, eating herself, sings a lot more songs these days (is singing and humming nursery rhymes and other school songs most of the time) and most of all - her fear of others trying to talk or play with her has come down drastically. Before I used to jokingly call her a 'touch-me-not' baby coz she would shrink or cry whenever a new person approached her :-)

So I am writing this to remind myself that although I felt like a horrible mom subjecting my child to a cozy little playschool at 1 year and 9 months - it ain't all that bad afterall! Infact I can now proudly say that my little baby is enjoying and learning so much more every day and I can use that little time for myself to keep me and my family so much more happier. God bless Mohini and Meera auntie and my little one who is growing into such a "samajhdaar" young child.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Finally after being without a PC or a laptop...basically "internetless" for almost 3 weeks, hubby dear gifted me a new laptop as my belated birthday present. Yayyy! Now I can waste more time on the Net that I utilized in useful things otherwise :-)

Glad to be back!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If one more person comes and tells me...

Either that my daughter is so tiny...she hardly looks 2. Or that I am doing a mistake by sending her to playschool so 'early' and that I should have waited another 6 months or so...I swear I will sit them down and give them a good piece of my mind. Either that or I will shrug them off as another member of the 'Harry Mother's Association' as one of my friends refers to such moms :-)

Sorry for sounding so harsh but today is my day to vent and whine and crib. I am really sooo sick of hearing these things about her. Why do some people (and by people I mean total strangers... not even friends and family) especially here in India make it a business to come by and tell you how to raise your own child? We as parents are more worried about our kid than you Mr. or Mrs. Stranger me. We have consulted enough doctors to reassure ourselves that our daughter is perfectly healthy as long as she is active and following her growth curve and that her size is not an indication of ill is probably just genetic. And yes, she is 21 months old now...old enough to interact with kids her age and fall into some kind of a routine in life. So we are both ready for a 2-3 hour per day of playschool each day. So no thankyou - you are not the best judge of when I consider my child to be ready or not. I know her more than you do and am not pushing her into anything. I am making sure it is gradual and that she is gradually beginning to enjoy herself. So please...just back off and just give us some space. Thank you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Motherhood opens your eyes to so much more

I had quit my job in mid April since my 6 months of working offshore had come to a close. After this I had the entire month of May free before my little one started her first school ever in June. It had been 9 months since we moved to India and I had only seen my parents right after we arrived. So I packed us (mother and daughter) off to visit both sets of grandparents to spend some much deserved quality time with them. I had wanted hubby dear to come along too but that didn't quite work out what with his work and stuff.

So May was when I had the travel bug. Decided to make a trip to Pune and kill 2 birds with one stone - finish my business and spend a few days with my brother while I was there. I did exactly this, then flew back to Bangalore, picked up my baby and flew to Bombay the following weekend. Spent a week there with my in-laws and then went off to Vapi to my parents. Spent another week there, came back to Bombay for a couple days and then back home to Bangalore. All in all a wonderful trip was had and lots of memories were made. But what urged me to write this post today was this feeling I had topmost in my heart during the entire stay this time with our families. I suddenly felt closer to my parents than I have ever felt in years. I now understood why in all these years when I was in the US, I was treated like a guest every time we came home for a 3 week break. Ofcourse we were guests who were so detached from the day to day ongoings of our own parents...who would call them just once a week and talk about the health and weather and visit them just once a year for a coupla weeks and call it a day. Really? Is that all you get from your own children once you are done raising them all these years...staying up at nights for them...praying...worrying...thinking...breathing...practially living for them all these years? I think now that I am a mother I suddenly realize what our own parents have gone through to bring us up as the good human beings we now are. Now I understand what they mean by saying - it is much easier to give birth to a child than to raise him/her in life.

I guess my husband always knew why he was moving back to our country and he might just read this post and say - duh! But honestly, it took me a while to really get it. I mean, yes we were all moving back to be physically closer to our families and stuff but even during all that, I never thought I would have this feeling in my heart after being away from home for soooo long. I mean I guess once you are in a situation for this long, you kinda start getting used to the setup and start looking at the positive side of things - such as you have a better standard of living in the US, your independence is a huge factor that you gain as a woman, your work life balance is far better than in India. True. But the intimacy we think we still maintain with our loved ones back home by making 2 or3 calls a week, is, in my opinion, just a fantasy in our own mind.

So this time when I was leaving my parents place for coming back to my own home, I suddenly felt glad about moving back to India. I did not have tears in my eyes during the goodbyes for the first time in ages...and I somehow felt like now I am their daughter once again (instead of the once in a year visiting guest). And most of all, I felt I could do so much more for them now that I am here instead of just buying them clothes or gadgets from the US every time we visited. Those are really such superficial joys that they don't even care for anymore. What brings a twinkle in their eye now is the precious bond they now share with their granddaughter...the love she showers on them unconditionally...the joy she brings in their life by just being around. That is a gift that is truely priceless. Oh this can soooo be a Mastercard commercial:

A nice formal shirt for dad from JCPenney - 80$
A pearl necklace for mom from Macys - 200$
A new laptop for dear bro from CircuitCity - 1500$
The joy in their eyes on seeing their little granddaughter/neice - PRICELESS!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Day at School

A new chapter of her life begins...she has grown into a school going toddler...trotting away from home...stepping into a new life one tiny step at a time. I have mixed emotions in my heart as she steps into this world out of the shelter of her cozy little home and family. She will now have to learn to fend for herself, live without her mommy and daddy for a bit and be happy knowing that they will surely come back to get me in their arms. I never thought I would be this emotional today especially since I have gone back to work when she was 3 months old, leaving her home with a very nice lady (her nanny). But then when she turned a year old, we moved from the US to Bangalore and I decided to work from home and then eventually quit working to make sure she settles down completely before I decide to take up something full time here. So today was her first attempt at trying to make it on her own in the midst of lots of other kids. Here are a few pictures from our first day at school:

Happily Walking to School

Enjoying the Swing at School

They told us that school will only be for 30 minutes (9:30 - 10:00am) today and tomorrow (Thursday, Jun 4 2009 and Friday, Jun 5 2009). It is mainly to acclimatize the kids to this new environment. Next week will be longer durations, depending on the child's comfort level. So how did she do today you ask? Well...not so good as I feared. She started crying when Mohini auntie first took her from me but quietened down soon when she started showing her around the lovely campus. That was when I slipped away. After the half hour was up, Meera brought her to me. They said she cried almost throughout...would quieten down at times, ask for me, and when she didn't see me, would cry again. Gosh I have never seen her head shake so vigorously and nodding sideways as when I took her back in my arms. She quietened down immediately...sobbing slowly but calmly. Then when she saw the 2 dogs in the house, she suddenly said "doggie" and was fine again. Then she sat in the swing, did the slides and generally played there for another hour or so. She was fine as long as mommy was there with her. Thank god atleast she didn't hate everything about the place and the day! She came back home pretty happy with herself and singing away. She even told me the auntie's names and has agreed to go back tomorrow. Let's hope she doesn't start bawling at the sight of school tomorrow (as she does when she sees we are going to the doctor's office)!

So here are the only friends she made at school today:

Her 2 friends at school - Bono and Nano (Mohini Auntie's pet dogs)

And here are the 2 great ladies who run this place Kinder Kare with so much love and care:

Mohini Auntie (N calls her Mo Auntie)

Meera Auntie

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Best Mother's Day Ever

So I left a huge chunk of my heart back in Bangalore recently when I had to travel on a business related trip and leave my baby behind. This was on the Friday just before the Mother's Day weekend. I had to be away for 2 nights and was scheduled to be back on Sunday morning which coincidentally hapenned to be Mother's Day.

Obviously, since I had never left my baby away from me overnight, I was going away with a heavy heart. But hubby and I decided to make the farewell quick and not drag it too much since she had already sensed something was up since a day before. Kids...they surely do have a sixth sense. N had started saying "Mamma tata" to me since the night before! So I went ahead and actually had this conversation with her:
Me: Where is mamma going?
N: Office
Me: What does N want from mamma's office?
N: Chocolate :-)

Who can then resist the urge to bring back tonnes of chocolates for the dear little baby who actually was such a nice girl while I was away that she did not give even one reason for daddy to complain! But the mommy in me decided its best to steer away from forming such habits (that too decided with a loaded heart). So I chose to bring her back some new toys to play with. Nice thinking huh :-)

Nyways, back to my Mother's Day story. So I do my work in Pune, spend nice quality time with my brother there and then fly back to Bangalore on Sunday morning (May 10, 2009). I make sure we wish both - my mom and my mom-in-law for their special day. But all this while, it completely slipped my mind that now I am a mom too and I too now have someone to wish me on this day when she grows a little older. Little did I know that my dear hubby and daughter have already planned a cute surprise for me back home. So I catch the Volvo from the airport to our home, walk the remaining 20 minutes dragging my luggage...making sure not to trouble my little child and hubby to get dressed, get the car out and drive - all for saving me a good walk that I am sure I need after such an appetising meal served in Kingfisher Air. Finally reach home panting and sweating in the summer heat, cursing all the stuff I carried in the backpack, promising to travel empty handed if possible next time and such. But all that exhaustion vanished when my daughter and hubby greeted me at the door with this conversation:
Hubby: N, what do you say to mamma?
N (shying away slightly but instantly announcing): I (read - aaaaaiiiiiieeeee) du du! (Meaning: I love you!)
Hubby: (with a group hug) Happy Mother's Day!

It just melted my heart! Teaching N to say "I love you" to greet me was probably the best mother's day gift I could ever get from both - my hubby and my dear daughter who has such an endearing way to say every new thing she learns. I actually really hope she doesn't outgrow this "I du du" way of saying "I love you"...coz when she does say it correctly, I will know that my baby will have suddenly grown up into a big girl!

Teaching her these 3 magic words shows me how thoughtful you are not just as a father but as a dear husband to me too. If you do read this, dear hubby, I want you to know that this mother's day was my best ever not just coz you taught her this but also coz you took such good care of her and yourself while I was away that I did not have a single reason to worry about anything at home. I love you dear hubby for being such a strong pillar of support for me...for always being by my side...for being the reason why I am so happy in my life inspite of all the ups and downs it brings us.

Here's wishing all you readers a belated Happy Mother's Day. Please do fill us in on how you spent yours or what touched you the most on this day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy 20th month my little one

As you can see by the Lilypie ticker on the right, my little angel turned 20 months old today. Strange feeling calling it 'old' when they are still such new 'young' little bundles of joy. I have yet to see soooo many of her firsts in life and yet there are sooooo many firsts that she has learnt to master already. Can't stop marvelling at how quickly time has flown by...when it just seems like yesterday when we drove our little precious home from the hospital in Fremont. I remember my hubby's words to me on that short drive home - "its just the two of us now (he meant - to take care of little N)". And I remember it drizzling lightly and me fussing over how the car seat should cover her completely eslt what if she has a little water on her!!!???? :-) And look at her now - completely a water baby! Loves it like crazy. Swims with me not just in the baby pool but the adult 5 ft. deep one as well. Shrieks in delight as soon as I leave her floating in the pool with just her arm bands on for support.

She sure has come a long way. From not being able to talk at all for almost 14 months to having a huge vocabulary all of a sudden and having this great ability to comprehend not one, not two but three languages already! Konkani, Hindi and English! She has gotten into the habit of forming sentences now - which ofcourse consist of just 2 words but atleast she has understood the power of being able to get her message across by combining 2 words. The most important ones being - "Mamma chocolate" :-) Others in her vocabulary are "Mamma come" or "Papa come" or "Aabu come"etc. - you get the idea.

She has also done quite well in her potty training so far and our latest struggle is trying to brush her teeth. Her allowing us the privilige to brush her teeth entirely depends on how good we are at convincing her with stories about bugs or ants in her teeth on a given day. She sure has a strong will - when she does not want something she will make sure she has her way. That part is definitely from her dad's genes, I'm sure :-) Also the need to hold my hair when she's sleepy or hungry or just plain playful. Ugh - that one I am determined to bring to an end soon. From her mom's genes, she has inherited the love for water and the need to have mommy around her all the time. My own mom tells me how I would cling to her all day and howl when she even just stepped away to use the restroom! Man - how did our parents handle us? And not just one but two little mosnters? Gosh!

That reminds me - do any of you who've had babies around mid 2007 plan to have a second one soon? (Or already have a second one enroute). If so, please please share it here...I am quite curious as to what the thinking is about the ideal age gap between siblings.

In the meantime, here's to my little N who is still the only baby of the house - both on mommy and daddy's side of the family. Hope is still around when she grows up and reads these letters from mamma with love.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beauty regimen of a mommy

Was browsing a magazine online and reading this article when it struck me that my beauty regimen or rather skin TLC is actually next to NOTHING. Ever since I became a mom, my daily beauty regimen is to moisturize, moisturize and moisturize. And that's pretty much it. Obviously I do regular visits to the parlor just to make sure I don't grow hairy bushes all over my face ;) and once in a while when I look really really old with shiny grey hair, I decide to actually find the time to color my mane using one of those do it yourself boxes at home. But other than that, really nothing.

Isn't that scary? Atleast I thought it was quite scary when I glanced into the elevator mirror the other day just casually but what actually caught my eye for the first time were new lines under my eyes when I smiled!!! Yikes! I never had an eye for such things ever and thought that all women who obsess over such things are vain. So you can only imagine how obvious it must be for a woman like me to notice such a thing! And I am only in my very very early thirties! Help!!!!!!!!!!!

Please new mommies - do fill me in on what your beauty regimen is. And more than anything, how do you find the time to get things like facials etc. done? I mean when I was actually a working mom, I had a full time nanny to look after my little N so I could sneak out time here an there for an occassional pedicure or facial etc. But now that I am at working from home full time, who do I leave the baby with for such things? Weekends fly by just running errands - so when do you stay-at-home or working-from-home moms manage to take out time for beauty regimens?

Monday, March 23, 2009

My baby turned 18 months a month ago!

And I have been meaning to write this post since then! Just haven't gotten around to finally doing it :(

Anyways, here I am...finally trying to capture all that has been going on since she turned 1.5 years old (on Feb 25, 2009). We left for a 10 day road trip on March 1 for my hubby's grandma's first shraadh and also N's mundan ceremony. The plan was for hubby's parents and sis to drive down from Bombay and us from Bangalore to meet at Sirsi. Stay there for a night at his cousin's and then drive together to Kodkani for the shraadh. But I fell ill with a bad case of cold, fever etc. a day earlier so instead of leaving on Sat (Feb 28), we left on Sun morning (Mar 1). So that gave us very little time with the cousins in Sirsi. Anyways, we all met up and reached Kodkani on Sat night in time for the shradh the next day. The village stay was quite an enjoyable experience with the entire "kunj" getting together - the first for me after my marraige ofcourse. On Tuesday afternoon we left for Ankola where the mundan ceremony was supposed to be done. Stayed in the kuldevta temple that night and N had a blast running around the huge temple premises. Then on the morning of Wednesday, March 4 - the five of us took little N with a very worried heart for her mundan. I was mostly worried about how much she would cry and what if she shook her head in all the crying and hurt herself. Gosh - all sorts of horrible thoughts kept worrying me the previous night. But God had a miracle in store for us. Somehow, N cried a lot the previous night in her sleep (maybe night terrors) but sat very calm and still through her entire mundan! She surprised us all by not moving an inch all the while the guy shaved her head. She knew something was going on on her head but did not dare move as she sat in her dad's arms. Whew! Thank God! With that gone smoothly, the next on our agenda was to hit the Murdeshwar beach and actually have a vacation. But for some unplanned reasons (such as the driver's time limitations etc.) we had to cut short our trip by 2 days and think of alternatives on how to best spend the limited time we had left. So we decided to check out the nearby Gokaran beach and Shivji temple instead. We stayed on at Ankola that night and left for Gokaran on Thursday. Enjoyed the temple visits and the beach and drove back to Sirsi. Stayed with the cousins that night and the next morning, his folks left for Bombay and we drove back to Bangalore. All in all - a very nice enjoyable trip with lots of quality time with the in-laws family.

And this is why I never actually got around to doing an 18 month post for my little one. She did have a huge milestone of having her mundan done at this age and her mommy and daddy are so proud of her having sat through it without any trouble at all.

The other milestone I had planned for her at this age was to start her potty training and stop her diapers - cold turkey. I stuck to my plan and the next morning after our arrival back home, I told her how we left her diapers at Ankola :-) It took her almost a week to get it but she finally did do her first poop in the potty the following Friday. So we started training her on Sat (Mar 7) and she finally got the idea on Fri (Mar 13). And I must give a lot of credit to her dad who supported and helped me a lot in all this messy business of potty training all week and it was actually him who got the pleasure of witnessing her go poo-poo in the potty for the first time on Friday afternoon. Mommy was running some errands in the market at the time. By now she has started telling us when she wants to go poo and we take her to the potty to do it. But she still hasn't gotten the idea of sensing when she needs to go pee so cannot tell us beforehand. Any of you experienced moms have any ideas on how to teach them this soon?

Now that she is almost 19 months, Little N is also trying to drink milk from a cup atleast once a day. Mommy mixes doctor recommended chocolate flavored Kids Pro in a glass of milk and offers it from a cup. N has it either from a straw or spoon or directly from the cup or sometimes a combination of all of the above. But atleast she is trying :-) My dear fast you have grown and oh how much you talk and absorb everything these days. It amazes me at how you observe all the little things and try to tell us all that you see. Oh and it is so cute that only I understand what you try to tell me coz isn't it me who taught you all this in the first place. That is such a satisfying see your child reciprocate and demonstrate all that he learnt and absorbed from you and the world you are building around him. It won't be long before we parents will not be the biggest influence in their lives...infact we will probably be the least important quite soon :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daycare Centers and Preschools in Koramangala, Bangalore

So I have now officially joined the bandwagon of "paranoid moms" - not just being paranoid about daycares and preschools myself but spreading this fever to all the friends around me who are moms to kids in a similar age group as mine! Ain't I so evil ;) heeheehee

Nyways, it all started with a job interview I was actively pursuing. And the decision of whether I should take up the job if offered weighed largely on whether I would be able to find a very good home away from home for little N. In the US, I was able to work without much guilt coz I had a wonderful nanny who loved N just like she was her own child. But here, I am yet to find either a nanny or a daycare who will give her the love, warmth, intellectual stimulation and hygeine all at the same time. So over the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time each day researching and visiting daycare centers and preschools around our neighborhood in Bangalore. Hauling a toddler around to each facility is in itself a huge pain - forget coming home, thinking, comparing and racking my brain to figure out what is good or bad about each place and what are the options my kiddo has. So I thought I'd do this in written so that it gives me some clarity and also help out some of you who might be looking for this information out there.

This analysis is purely my opinion based on my personal research and talking to a lot of folks whose kids go to many of these places listed here.

I have finally begun to understand a little bit about the early years educational system here. Figured out that Daycare is a term given to something like babysitting where your kid is basically in their care, being fed and kind of hangs out in the premises but not necessarily with a structured routine. Pre-School is more of a structured program where they have an hour of two of instructor led activities. Pre-school (also called Playschool) starts at age 1 year 10 months at most places. When the kid turns 2.5 years old, you have more options for him/her. You can continue to keep them in the pre-school or opt for a Montessori. Montessoris generally accept kids at the age of 2.5 and continue their education upto 6 years of age. So your kid can either be in a pre-school (which is the traditional Playgroup, Nursery, LKG, UKG) or a Montessori upto the age of 6. Or you can pull him out of either and admit him to a high school (which offers education upto grade 10 or 12) for LKG at around 4.5 years of age. You can pretty much do this from a Pre-school to a regular school whenever you prefer (LKG or UKG or 1st standard) but Montessoris generally recommend children to stay on for atleast 3 years to obtain the full benefits of the Montessori method. And some believe that research has proven that kids who went through the Montessori program in their early years have grown up to be smarter.

Anyways, so here is a listing of all the daycares, pre-schools and montessoris I have visited, heard of or done some research on in Koramangala, Bangalore. Hope this helps atleast some of you who are looking for such consolidated information online.

1. Little Elly - This was the first ever place I visited so was not quite sure what questions to ask and what to look for etc. But after talking to the management there, I was pretty satisfied with the way they did things around there. The only thing that bothered me was that their toddler program (which is what my N would have gone to then) was only for 2 hours each day. I was really looking for a place that would keep them for 3-4 hours so that they can bond, socialize and get a feel of spending a good amount of time away from mommy. That way I could ease her into a full time program if I wanted to start working soon. Other than that, I liked their facilities, teachers and the overall hygiene.
  • Pros: They do have daycare facilities after the child's school is done. So after 9-11am, the child can still stay there upto 6:30pm (daycare charges extra). Huge plus for working parents.
  • Cons: If all you want is a playschool, they only run it for 2 hours per day. Paying around 30K for 2 hours per day seems a bit too much.
2. Child-Care Montessori - This place has been running its Montessori Pre School in 5th Block Koramangala for over a year and had recently opened up their Day Care center in 3rd block, Koramangala which is much closer to our place. So it sounded great since it is a Montessori cum Daycare center which means they accept children as young as 3 months of age. Obviously at that age, they would be treated as daycare children but if they continue there for a while, they will automatically be registered for the Montessori education program at 2.5 years of age.
  • Pros: I visited only their Day Care center which I really liked. They have very clean premises (great hygeine ranks very high in my list) and have good equipment overall for infants - such as good quality cribs, toddler beds, toys (indoor and outdoor). I also loved the folks running this place, their thoughts and philosophy.
  • Cons: I did not really like that my child at 1.8 years of age will be hanging out at the daycare center which was still so new that it did not really have a lot of other kids her age to socialize with. It also did not have a structured routine as such for this age group so was more like a daycare where they would pretty much do what they feel like and hang out with a maid most of the time. If I was working fulltime though, this might be a decent place to leave my kid for the time being.
3. KinderKare - This is primarily a home based day care which accepts kids around 2 years of age. They have a 3 hour program for these toddlers and they heavily encourage free play.
  • Pros: I liked the fact that they have a total of around 30 kids total in the age group from 2 to 4.5 years of age. All of these kids spend most of their time together so it is more like a montessori environment with some structure. I loved the 2 ladies who run this place and their overall attitude of doing it more for a passion than making money in the business. They seemed very understanding and flexible to accomodate these little ones totally understanding that they are not used to a routine of any kind yet since this is their first school ever. I think they will be ideal for my little N's first school and ideal for me as well since this is a stone's throw away from my place. So no putting her in a car seat and driving her to school every morning. All I have to do is enjoy a nice 5 minute walk.
  • Cons: They only offer a 3 hour program and do not have a full day daycare offering. So not an ideal place for working parents.
4. Vilma's Daycare - This is small cozy little daycare run by a nice lady who runs it in a home (does not necessarily live there though). They accept infants as young as 3 months as well and have a few teachers for the toddlers. I was not too keen on this place as it did not seem big enough for me (all the kids hung out in one living room for play time, meal time, reading time etc.) They said they spend an hour outdoors each day in a nearby park. But as I mentioned earlier, I have a high hygeine standard and this place did not fare too well for me in that department.

5. Planet Kids - Great huge premises. I should say by far the best I have seen in Koramangala. They have a huge place with all sorts of outdoor activities including things such as a splash pool. Indoors, they have a huge ball pit, a media room (with a huge flat screen TV) and a computer lab as well! So facilities wise the place ranked # 1 in my rating but I was not too impressed by their management and their overall attitude.
  • Pros: Great campus. Have various locations in Bangalore so you can transfer your child to a nearby location if you move. Also have full time daycare facilities for working parents.
  • Cons: Management did not show too much understanding and flexibility for kids who are going to a school for the first time ever. I am also not a huge fan of putting kids in front of a TV or computer as at this young an age.
6. Little Paradise - Is a preschool as well as daycare center.
  • Pros: Offers day care facilities so is a plus for working parents.
  • Cons: Heavily overcrowded. The daycare area is not seperate so infants sleeping are surrounded by playing toddlers all around.
7. Little Feat Montessori House of Children - I have personally not visited this facility since they do not accept kids younger than 2.5 years of age. But from all that I have heard and researched, this Montessori has nothing but good reviews all around. I have a lot of friends whose kids go there and have only heard good things about the people who run this place and the overall reputation, their attitude towards kids, etc. The only con I have heard is that they have 10 classes running but their facilities are not very huge both for indoor and outdoor play.

8. Head Start Montessori House of Children - I have not visited this facility either since they too do not accept kids younger than 2.5 years of age. But again, this place has great reviews from all that I have read about it. The only thing is that getting an admission here is next to impossible - they fill up with siblings of existing kids one or more years in advance!

9. Eurokids - Not visited this school either but have friends whose kids go here and are extremely happy about the place, teachers and curriculum. The big pro is that they have presence all over India so if you move around a lot, this is certainly beneficial for you.

10. Vivaa International - Not visited this place myself but have a few friends whose kids go there. Have heard mixed reviews about this place about their management of kids. The pro is that they are a Montessori which offers day care facilities as well so your kid can either spend the day here if you are working or go here after school for the remainder of the day.

11. Roots to Wings -This is a new chain of pre-schools owned and run by the Singapore based company Educomp. I was very interested in this since they claim to be very different from the rest in their philosophy and curriculum so thought why not check it out.

  • Pros: The pro I liked was that they do accept kids at a very young age (around 1.5 years). And since they are so new, they do offer trial weeks where you can send the kids for 2 weeks free of charge to see if they really like it.
  • Cons: The biggest con for me was that they were too new (no kids enrolled in the center that just opened up in Koramangala). So although they seemed to have all the knowledge in theory, I would feel more comfortable if I had seen them actually working with kids in real life. They were great at showing their powerpoint presentations about their well researched curriculum and the "seven petal approach" but when it came to practical questions from a mom such as how will you potty train my kid...they were not able to put me at ease (obviously coz they had never done it before!)
12. Planet Bloomingdale - Not visited this place myself since I had not heard any good reviews about it but I do know that they have a full time daycare for infants.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You know you've lived long enough in the US when...

You know you've lived looooong enough in the US when you move back to India and...
  • Try plugging in appliances and wonder why they don't start. And then you realize you haven't "switched on" the plug point! (Gosh - I have done this soooo many times with my phone charger only to find 2-3 hours later that the phone is still dead!!! Grrrrrr)
  • While driving, you turn into a new street with no traffic and suddenly panic wondering what side of the street are you supposed to be driving on - left or right? There is no one to follow so you are left clueless as to where to drive and so accidentally drive on the right side of the road!
  • While driving, you constantly keep hitting on the wipers while trying to actually hit the side indicators on.
  • When talking to the receptionist at the medical facility, you mention "you owe me change for 100 Dollars" instead of saying "100 Rupees" (yes - this really happened with me and for some reason cracked up the entire staff out there. Gosh I have even done this with the sabzi wala!)
  • You feel awkward eating your own breakfast or lunch while your maid or cook is busy working in front of your eyes at your home (I still cannot see myself eat without offering them something nice as well).
  • When you take your baby for well check exams, they tell you the weight in kilos and you are dying to go home and calculate exactly how many pounds is it and how she shows up on the US growth curve (even though the docs assure you that you should be using the Asian babies growth curve).
  • You are dying to get a good haircut but miss your salon and stylist there :(
  • Your fingers automatically dial "1+Phone Number" to call an out of state friend instead of dialing the "City Area Code + Phone Number"
  • You go shopping at supermarkets and take the vegetables at the cashiers counter only to realize you needed to stand in queue at another counter near the vegetables section to get them weighed and bagged.
  • MOST OF ALL - what REALLY gets me is you have to really tax your brains and think hard before buying anything coz it is not easy to return or exchange the items once bought in stores here - not in the next 30 days and not even in the next 30 hours :-)
I go through so many more such incidents on a daily I am sure I will keep coming back to this post and updating it with more. How about you you go through such gotchas in your early days of moving back to apna des? Any fun ones to share?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time flies by so quickly

My dearest little N turned 17 months on Sunday. I have been meaning to write this post since then and its already 3 days without me realizing it! Time sure flies by when you have a toddler this age in your hands. She is learning sooooo much every day that it is hard to keep up and capture it all. Every day adds a new word to her vocabulary, a new discovery to her endless world and a new trick that she catches from either me or her papa.

Here is my best attempt at capturing what she is upto most these days (ofcourse this is not all inclusive since it is forever evolving). Sometimes I wonder if this is the best of all ages coz every day she learns something new. When she was a baby, it used to be a new milestone every few weeks unlike every few hours now :-) And I am so glad I am the one teaching her most of these new things or being with her watching her catch on rather than being away all day at work and missing out on this fun. Working from home has this huge benefit (amongst other disadvantages ofcourse).

Anyways, so here I go:

  • Tuesday, Jan 27 - you learnt to say 2 new words - "duddu" and "office". When asked where is papa, you would say office. And ofcourse I thought you being able to finally address your milk as duddu was the topper of all charts! Finally you could express to me verbally (instead of sucking your little thumb) to tell me you want milk!
  • This was also the day you learnt to use "mama" in its full blown glory non stop all day long to call me to you. Earlier you would just yell "aa" or "eehh" to call me but suddenly this day you just started following me along all over the house all day shouting "mama mama mama" in all sorts of tones - question, exclamation, name it and you have it!
  • Wednesday, Jan 28 - you learnt to say the word "no".
  • And ofcourse - by now you show most of your body parts when asked. But the cutest of it all is what daddy taught you recently - to dance on the song "heads shoulders knees and toes". You play your Learning Puppy on that song over and over again and start tapping your heads, knees and toes on the song. It is such a joy to see you entertain yourself by just learning to do that over and over and over again...sometimes you even get the "eyes and ears and mouth and nose" part quite well :-)
  • Here are some other tricks we taught you:
    • Us: N---- mum mum kash khaata (How does N---- eat mum mum)?
    • You: Gup gup
    • Us: What does a tiger say?
    • You: (growling sound) Haaaaa
    • Us: How does a bee fly?
    • You: zzzzzzzzzzz
    • Us: How does the frog eat the bee?
    • You: Haaaap (mommy taught you this when she saw this cartoon on channel 9xm that you love to watch)
    • Us: Aeroplane kashi jatele (How does an aeroplane fly)?
    • You: show the flying motion with your hand
    • Us: N, where does Papa go?
    • You: Aaaapis (Office)
  • Some words you try speaking but manage a much cuter version of:
      • Plane - you say something that sounds like "beam"
      • Bee
      • Heart
      • Dots
      • Cartoon - you say something like "tattoon"
      • Uda (means water in konkani) - you say "da"
      • Duddu (means milk in hindi)
      • Mum mum (for food)
      • Trisha (your friend/neighbor) - you say "Tisha"
      • Aryan (your friend/neighbor) - you say "Aayan"
      • Apple - you say "aappu"
      • Cup
      • Tub
      • Papa
      • Mama
      • Mummy
      • Amma
      • Aabu
      • Nana
      • Nani
      • Come
      • Go
By now you have quite a vocabulary and it grows almost daily. You basically try and repeat after us to catch on to these small words.

There are sooooooooo many other things you do that are every so endearing. Like I said, it is
impossible to capture all of that in a blog but atleast I wanted to make sure I have some of it noted down for being able to narrate to you when you grow up.

Lots of love...your "mama".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Before Amnesia Sets In...FAQs Part 1

They say that nature has induced all women with selective amnesia. Which is why all the aches and pains of pregnancy, labor, delivery and raising an infant are so easily and so quickly forgotten and the only thing that we remember are all the precious joyful moments about having a little baby. Which is why after a few years pass, we are all ready to have another baby all over again! Well, I ain't complaining at all coz inspite of all the aches and pains, having and raising a little baby is truly a pleasure beyond any other in my opinion. Agreed you have days when you are ready to pull your hair out and wonder what in the world were you thinking before giving birth to this little monster ;) But when that "little tiny monster" looks into your eyes and throws one of their lovely smiles, all the frustration is gone and your heart just melts.

Anyway...I digress. The intention of this post is for me to document a few key milestones before my amnesia sets in and all of those first few months are a blur. I am noticing that is already happening when my friends who are new mommies call me with questions and I cannot seem to give them exact details inspite of me just having gone through this a year ago. Strange isn't it? Is it pregnancy induced stupidity (which apparently lasts forever) or is it this natural amnesia setting in that makes you forget all the sleepless nights and all the endless research we did on issues that now seem mundane such as nipple confusion, baby acne, nursing positions, storing breast milk, etc.

So, before amnesia sets in, here I go with a few basic questions I have been asked lately and a few general items that might slip my mind later...

Q. When did I switch my little one from breast milk to formula?

A. The first time we gave her formula was when she was 9.5 months old and that was because we were flying with her for the first time ever and I wanted to be able to give her the bottle in the flight. Storing and preparing formula was much more convenient in the journey and during our stay at Detroit (we were visiting my friend N for a long weekend) so I got her to taste and get used to formula. Although it turned out that the amount of breast milk I carried with me to the trip was sufficient enough and I did not have to pump at all that weekend. Which reminds me that the pumping session I did just before leaving home to board that Detroit flight was the last time I pumped. And even I didn't know that would be my last expressing of bm when I was doing it. Strange na? In any case, when I started formula, I gave her a bottle of 1/4 formula and 3/4 bm to get her used to the taste. Gradually in a week or two, I decreased the amount of bm and increased the amount of formula in the bottle until she got used to the new taste.

Q. How and when did my little one wean off completely from nursing?

A. As explained above, my baby was pretty much weaned during the day when she was around 11 months or so. She did get breast milk through a bottle though from the packets I stored for her in the freezer until around 10.5 months or so. The only time she would nurse from me was at nights to go to bed and when she woke up due to hunger and needed my milk and my comfort to go back to sleep. Since I had stopped pumping at 9.5 months, I reduced my nursing sessions to only nights. I must mention here that nature is a beautiful thing - it only produces the amount of milk that is being consumed. So I still had milk supply to fulfill her night time sessions. I wanted to continue this through our big move to India to make it a little easier on her through this transition...and I am glad I did coz she needed this comfort (and the antibodies that bm provides) to adjust to all the travel and the new life here in India. Once we were finally settled in our new home in Bangalore (N was 13 months then), I started cutting down on the night time feeding frequency too. So I gave her a bottle to go to bed and only nursed when she woke up during the night. Gradually when she was around 14.5 months, I realized that the amount of milk she got through nursing when she woke up at nights was not enough to put her back to sleep. So she was still getting up hungry and crying after the nursing session too. And that is when I brought it to a complete stop and chose to give her a bottle of cow's milk at nights too. By this time she was already off formula and on cow's milk during the day. So this is how I weaned my little precious off breast milk and off nursing.

Q. When did I start her on a bottle? My baby does not take the bottle at all.

A. We were constantly told by our pediatricians and lactation consultants to introduce a bottle at the right age - any earlier and they might have nipple confusion and any later and they risk a chance of bottle aversion (preferring the breast and refusing the bottle). So we were told to start introducing the bottle between 4-6 weeks of age once breastfeeding is well established.

Q. How and when did you get her to sleep through the night without her waking for milk in between?

A. We had missed the boat on teaching the baby to sleep through the night before they learn to sit up by letting them "cry it out". This is mostly on purpose since we just did not believe a little one needs to go through so much grief and trauma to sleep. In any case, now that she was old enough to stand up and always needed a bottle of milk to go back to sleep, one of the tips we were given at this age was to give them warm water instead of milk when they get up in the middle of the night. So when she was 14.5 months old, I had weaned her off completely from nursing. But she was getting up atleast twice in the night for milk and I would have to carry her to the kitchen, warm the bottle of milk and then feed it to her every night atleast twice. When I finally started to get tired of this routine at around 15 months or so, I started keeping a bottle of warm water by my bedside. And so at the 2am feeds, I gave her that instead of milk. Obviously she resisted, cried and was a little frustrated for a week but I did not give in. Even if that meant me rocking her for an hour to lull her back to sleep. I fought it through and sure enough after a week or so of this persistence, she decided its not worth it to get up for milk after all :-) So the only feed left was at 5am when I lovingly got up and gave her the bottle of milk. Around a month later when I learnt that milk at night can cause tooth decay in babies, I started the effort to wean her off the 5 am bottle as well. This was obviously not as easy as the 2 am one so instead of water, I gave her a bottle of 1/2 milk and 1/2 water. She hated that and refused it at times or had an ounce of it at times and went back to sleep. This effort is still ongoing so I will update you when I am done with it. But this is essentially the way that worked for me to encourage her to sleep through the night. I think the most helpful article that helped me work on this was the one in the book "What to Expect in the Toddler Years" where they do a great job of explaining how this is a vicious circle of demand and supply. Baby knows that if she demands, she will always get the supply of milk at night. So you have to basically break this circle by cutting down on supply - either gradually or cold turkey is up to you.

Q. My 1 year old baby eats veggies in khichdi but how do I make sure he is taking enough fruits in a day?

A. When N was 1 year old, I stopped steaming, blending and pureeing fruits for her. She enjoyed eating fruits as is. I used to cut and peel apple slices coz she did not like the peel and she ate them happily. Her grandpa used to peel orange slices, deseed them and even take out their inner peel and offer. She also ate pomegranate though I was scared of those seeds initially but she ended up loving pomegranate. We offered most fruits such as papaya, banana, grape halves etc. just as is - no stewing or anything. Like my pediatrician says, babies' preferences keep changing. So don't worry too much - just give him what they seems to like.

Will update with more FAQs as and when I remember...