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.