Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Diwali Everyone!

I have had many a lazy weekends up until I discovered the event Patty runs on her blog every week. Its called Patty's weekly story and it just inspires me to do something creative each weekend. I mean I do most of these things anyway but now I remember to take pictures and post them here so that I can share with you guys and get more inspiration :-)

So here's what I have been upto this past weekend. Surprisingly it was quite a busy weekend in the creativity department. It started out with me finishing up a project I had procrastinated for quite a while...a hand embroidered pillow case for lil N's bed.

After this, I spent most of Saturday morning baking a cake for lil N. I have been wanting to re-start baking which I had almost stopped ever since we moved back to India 3 years ago. Reason being I missed the conventional oven that we had in the US and was never sure how the microwave that doubles up as an oven will really work. So I started with a ready cake mix just to see if the baking gets done evenly and I was pleasantly surprised! It was awesome and now I am ready to try my hands at more healthy recipes - inspiration being my friend G and this site here.

On Sunday, I finally wanted to get started on the festivities preparation for Diwali. I took inspiration from Patty's hand made lanterns and got to task. My baby and I worked on making these paper lanterns on Sunday afternoon while dear hubby was cooking up some yummy lunch for us. I plan to hang up some of these with bulbs in them and some I will probably use to decorate the rangoli I am planning on attempting at the entrance to our home. This project was super easy and lots of fun for the kiddo and me. Thanks Patty!

In the evening we wanted to try our hands at cooking up some sweets and snacks for the Diwali season. Now mind you I have never made Diwali snacks at home...have always just assisted my mom in doing these things and even that has been over a decade ago. So each Diwali, we just got store bought goodies until last year when I decided I'd try my hand at just one item - besan laddoos (recipe from here). They turned out yummy which probably got my hubby enthused about doing more at home...just like his and my mom used to do. So we thought why not try a Diwali with homemade delicacies and hopefully set an example for our lil N. That is how we spent Sunday evening making shakkar paare and namak paare. This was the first ever time I made them and they turned out alright. Thank god! Next I plan to make besan laddoos and a few other items such as chivda/bhel, gulab jamun, etc. Ofcourse I cannot make in huge quantities so store stuff will be bought to supplement too. But atleast now I can say I did make some Diwali goodies at home as well :-) BTW I didn't really take pictures of the food since I am no good at food photography (also coz I got worn out doing all the cooking :-))

Other Diwali things on my list - I have been looking online for some very simple rangoli ideas. Want to do something a little more than usual but still very simple. Let's see what I end up with...will post pics if I can :-)

Until then, do let me know all about the new or creative things you are trying out this Diwali. And here's wishing all of you a Very Happy & Safe Diwali Season!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My first attempt at a frock

Remember how I mentioned in my last post that I was working on a frock for lil N? Well...I finally finished it yesterday (well almost...pending a few finishing touches). So here it is...

So a little bit more about this frock. The design evolved over time as I kept working on the project. I did not start with any pattern in mind other than the umbrella skirt shape that I had already cut earlier. I wanted to make a low waist frock since I think N looks great in them. So the umbrella cut skirt bottom is made of left over fabric I had from my first ever sewing project - a top for lil N (see pic 1 in my previous post). The top portion is made of a blouse piece that my MIL gave me as part of the multiple fabrics she gifted me when I visited her last and demonstrated my new found love for sewing!

I wanted to do something different for sleeves this time. So after browsing online, I came across a video on how to make ruffles. Loved it. And tried it. And it came out fine - am mighty pleased with the new skill :-) Take a closer look...

Sewing the bottom to the top half was the most difficult part in this project since this was the first time I was making a frock. I had only made a separate skirt and a top earlier. I searched a lot for a tutorial or a video detailing that aspect but found none. So this frock is literally a result of lots of trials, errors and discoveries from my end. I would love to add a red satin belt at the waist or a black satin ribbon at the bottom of the umbrella skirt. Let's see when I get to doing that :-)

In the meantime, fit wise it turned out to be just the right fit for N. Which actually means that she may outgrow it soon! So I really hope she wears it a few times before I have to retire it.

Linking this to Patty's weekly party here. Lemme know what you think!

Updated to Add: Thanks to one of my friends, I also learnt a new trick to alter the length of pants using the free arm feature of my sewing machine. It is super obvious to the pros but was a duh moment for me :-) So obviously I got "trigger happy" and amidst the frock project, quickly altered (read:chopped off) one of my office trousers to turn them into capris! Now I can wear them more often in a totally different style! Pics later...ta da!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My world of sewing

So I wrapped up my sewing class in mid August and have been working on some projects at home since then. The class was for learning 2 basic garments - skirt-top and salwar-suit. It helped tremendously to get the basics right and steer me towards the right direction in terms of exploring the rest on my own.

As promised in my previous post, here is a small list of my initial projects (in chronological order) in the sewing world along with some pictures:

1. Top for lil N
2. Patternless free flowing skirt
3. Re-purposed hubby's pants to make shorts for him
4. Altered one of my nighties
5. Basic Salwar suit (kurta and salwar both)
6. Sleeveless kurta with a fancy neck (using paper canvas)
7. Patchwork Purse for lil N (made out of leftover fabric)
8. Another kurta for my sil (similar to what I made in # 6)
9. Completed a half finished night gown for mil
10. Assisted friends in altering the length and slits of their kurtas

Top for lil N

Skirt for myself

Re-purposed hubby's pants as shorts

Here is the kurta...

Here is the salwar...

And here is the entire outfit!

My second kurta (sleeveless and a little more advanced neck pattern)

A better view of the neckline

Me modeling the second kurta with the first salwar :-)

A small purse for lil N

Lately now, I have been working on a new frock for lil N with left over fabric. Linking this to Patty's 'Weekly Story' here! So whaddaya think so far?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A New Hobby

So I have a new-found hobby lately. Well, its not so new I'd has been on my mind for a long time but just haven't had a chance to get around to doing anything about it. Having a daughter makes you want to learn it even more. Any guesses what I'm talking about? Well...I won't make this any more dramatic. Here goes...

I am talking about...Sewing!!! I mean I always knew how to operate the sewing machine to do a basic straight stitch and stuff since I have grown up seeing my mom sew clothes and such for us kids. But more than machine operation, I wanted to learn how to measure, draft, cut and stitch a piece of cloth to turn it into a pretty frock or a lovely skirt or a ghaghra choli for my little princess. I was always looking for a good tailoring institute or even some one willing to teach basics from their home. But did not find anything until a few months ago when I learnt that there is an institute very close to our home with the entire setup and what not at a very nominal cost. This was like a great find coz what I always got was something far away from home or work which made it impossible to go on a daily basis. This institute taught all the classes I was looking for but the only catch was their timings - they were Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm. So obviously I couldn't enroll since those coincided with some of my office timings of 11am to 8pm. But then one of my co-workers (we'll call her V) inspired me. She said if I really like doing something, I should find a way to do it. One way could be to enroll in this class and go whenever I don't push yourself to go every day but if you can go to work late once a week or so, you could go to the class in the morning for an hour or two and then to work...even once a week is better than not going at all. She has done the same for her passion to play piano. Taking inspiration from her, I took the plunge in May. I joined and went sporadically once in a while and kept wondering how to continue working at it from home... until finally I made up my mind to invest in a sewing machine myself. So by the end of June I had completed my first project - a top for my lil N. When I saw her joy in wearing it and flaunting it around, it was just priceless. That is when I decided that I was ready to finally own a sewing machine. I mean my mom always had it and so did my mom-in-law. If nothing else, it will be very handy for mending, repairing and re-purposing clothes.

Ofcourse by then I had also done my research on sewing machine makes, models, features, etc. and made up my mind on which one to buy. That is how my friends, on June 29 2011, I finally became a proud owner of the Singer Fashion Maker 8280! Oh man and how I loved it since the day it arrived home. Sewing on this machine versus the pedaling one I was learning on, was such a day and night difference! This was far far easier to handle and work on tricky areas whereas with pedaling I am always scared of turning it the other way and stopping it in a hurry when the area to sew is a tiny one. Even things like threading a bobbin were a breeze on this as compared to the pedaling machines where I haven't yet mastered the technique.

I am dying to upload pictures of the sewing projects I have done so far but just so that I do not forget, I will list them out for now and come back later with pics. So the first one was a cute little top for lil N (a simple black top with white polka dots on it). The second was a pair of shorts I created for dear hubby out of one of his old pants. And then I altered one of my nighties to make it more comfortable to wear. The next was a skirt that I learnt from scratch at the institute. Now I am working on learning how to make a salwar suit. Can't wait to buy a nice fabric and start working on it asap!

This whole sewing-bug-phase made me reflect at how at different phases in life, there have always been one hobby or the other that has drawn my interest. So much so that I do not hesitate to make time to learn on my own but also go out of my way to find and attend classes to learn it well. I think it keeps me inspired and gives me a reason to smile other than the daily routine of work and home. I think I took this from my mom who always encouraged me to learn various things at home whether it was embroidery, fabric painting, knitting, sewing, anything. She even sent me to hobby classes every summer vacation to pick up things such as nib painting, tie and die, etc. I loved it and I so thank my mom for instilling that creativity bug in me.

If I were to list my most recent passions, I would say there was a time when I was single and dating my current hubby when I was sooooo into Scrapbooking. I mean I was so into it that I knew everything about acid free papers, embellishments, albums, journalling styles, etc. and have scrapbooked every single memory of our courtship days. Until the time I got married and busy with our new life together. So I still carry all my scrapbooking supplies, tools and clippings that I so want to put together some day when I have the time. Then came various other passions such as making greeting cards, planning theme based birthday parties, etc. but I realize it was mainly because I had sooo much scrapbooking material that I had to find a way to use it somehow. Somewhere in between I also kept doing hand embroidery and made things such as pillow covers, aprons, etc. Now it is the sewing bug that has hit me and god only knows what will be next.

I may not be excellent in each hobby I take up but I love doing it and it inspires me to do more and more. I keep telling my hubby that my dream is to open and run a hobby store one day (maybe once I retire from a corporate job lifestyle) and pass on this love to sooo many others like me out there who just need an inspirational place to let their creative juices run! Ah...for the love of hobbies...and dreams... :-)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lessons from Mommyhood

It took me forever to pen these thoughts down but believe me, once you are a mommy, you never stop marveling at how much you've changed since you've had a baby. Life teaches you something new almost every day and sometimes it is so overwhelming that you almost forget what you were before this tiny creature entered your lives and changed it completely (for the better I'd say). So taking up this tag was not easy since it made me think and write and actually limit the lessons down to a few key bullet points amongst the innumerable ones motherhood teaches you in its journey. But thanks to Manasi who tagged me on this, I'll still make an attempt:

One thing that has stuck with me over the years is something a co-worker told me when I was in my last trimester. I just met him near the elevators (infact I still remember very clearly which part of the building and the exact spot where I was while these words were being shared with me) and he saw how I am almost there and congratulated me once more for expecting. And he said "This is such a life changing event. Infact let me tell you that after the baby you will not even remember how your life was before you had her. " Such simple yet true to the core words! I still think of him when I reflect on our lives at times or see a new mommy-to-be.

Another lesson I have learnt and never forget to impart to mommies-to-be is this. Please enjoy all your sleep before you have a baby. More importantly, enjoy the lifestyle which lets you sleep in to late hours during the mornings. Coz once you become a mommy, you will not have that luxury anymore. I know they say sleep is precious but for me, it is the early morning sleep that is the most precious. Coz I am just NOT a morning person. But once you are a mommy, you have no choice but to be one or atleast force yourself to not just get up early but even function like a clock early in the morning. I mean even weekends, when you think there is no rush in life, the baby decides to be wide awake, chirpy and playful early in the mornings!!! Whew! I get tired just thinking about mornings :-) But its not all bad you see. Mommyhood wants you to be up that early so that you can enjoy the baby a little more before the mad rush of routine starts. Or so that you can enjoy a few minutes by yourself before motherhood calls.

Patience is my new virtue. People who know me since my childhood marvel at the amount of patience I have grown since having lil N. Including my own brother! Especially at the age when your babies turn into toddlers and are discovering life on their own and have millions of questions every single minute. It is sometimes hard not to lose patience and to tell them to go do their own thing. Believe me, most times I make an effort to answer her questions to the best of my ability and in a language she can understand. Coz I strongly believe, if we curb this curiosity, the kids will either lose all interest in discovering and questioning ways of this life or worse still, will go find ways to get their answers from sources we may not like.

I always knew that I worked very well under pressure and that I can be a superwoman, multitasker queen when I need to. So I will not elaborate on that here and infact will just say that mommyhood has honed that skill of mine to perfection. I am sure this applies to most mommies in life :-) What I did learn is that now, as a mommy, I will keep worrying about almost everything. Infact I remember when I was talking about something I was worried about regarding my pregnancy to my boss at the time, she had said "Welcome to motherhood dear - you'll always worry about something or the other for the next 18 years until your child leaves your home...or even after that". Now I know what my mom must have gone through every time I wanted to do something reckless or even as simple as go on a school trip out of town. I used to tease her then but now I can sooooo relate to every emotion that must've gone through her heart.

Another lesson I learnt - that my husband is truly my rock in life. And that with him, I can face every challenge thrown my way. I am so glad that after all the childhood and teenage crushes, I finally found, loved and married a man who is just perfect for me. He and this event called motherhood taught me that come what may, if life throws a challenge at you, it also gives you the strength to endure and come out of it with flying colors. Or in other words, if God brought you to it, he will take you through it. You know how I know this? When lil N was born, we used to live in the US. And due to many reasons best left aside in this post, both our sets of parents could not come be with us when our baby was born. So we had to figure out how to raise this little bundle of joy all on our own. Not one single extra hand to help. Not even a maid. (We had hired a nanny once I was back home from the hospital but she turned out so devastating that we had to fire her within a week or so). That was the time my hubby and I bathed, fed, changed, rocked the newborn to sleep, took shifts at night all on our own 24 hours a day with no prior experience or help. Our love grew stronger than ever during that time and still makes me believe that come what may in life, if I have my husband by my side, I will be just fine.

During that same time, I also learned that when you are far away from home and your own families, your close friends become your extended family. So while we were learning how to be a mother and father to our little one when she arrived, our friends did the most amazing thing. They all got together (virtually over email) and created an Excel spreadsheet listing out who will take turns to deliver food (lunch and dinner) to our place every single day until we find a new nanny. And these were people who had kids and full time jobs of their own to worry about. I will never forget how our doorbell rang every morning with one of our friends coming by to check in on us and drop our lunch on their way to work. Some of them even had their mothers visiting them in the US and sent nutritious laddus, drinks, etc. that are given to new mothers in their own families. God bless them all.

There is soooo much more and like I said, each day teaches you something in this new life as a mommy. But it is not easy to write it all down. I can keep going and going but I think I'll stop now and pause to think who else can I tag. I am pretty sure most people I know have taken this tag up already but I'd still love to hear from Simran, HVP, Choxbox, Shruti and any other mommy who'd like to take it up. Take it away ladies!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I missed you

Hi Mommy Bloggers,

I have been away from the blogging world (both physically and mentally) for a while now...or so it seems. May have been just a few weeks or so (or maybe the entire summer) but feels like ages. So much so that when I came back today to visit my blog, I almost forgot my blogger password! Strange na? Lots has been going on in life which did not leave much time to visit this space and so the drive to come back and write about it kept fading away which led to a circle of time to time to no interest in visiting the blog to catch up from where I left off.

Nyways, today I had a few minutes to myself while dear hubby and kiddo took a nap so thought lemme just catch up. And I found that I quite liked it after all this while too :-) Came back to read such interesting stuff going on in some of your lives...such as a new book by Manasi and all the fun stuff Simran has been upto...and a tag from Manasi which I will take up soon and oh soooo much more!

Thanks for keeping the mommy bloggers world alive ladies...and thanks for making me feel welcome to come back to it anytime. Will continue our journey together as and when time (and emotions) permit.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Where is my baby?

You know your tiny precious little baby has grown up into a big girl when:
  • You suddenly realize that you have your living room back! I mean for the first 3.5 years, it was not a living room but more of a playschool - full of baby equipment like a rocker, swing, activity gym, rattles, high chair and the list goes on. Yesterday when I was cleaning up her toys in our guest bedroom (which doubles up as N's playroom), I suddenly realized how all her stuff has moved from the drawing room into this bedroom. And now this is her haven...a place where she spends a lot of time in...drawing & coloring on her new table & chair, doing puzzles, playing with her friends, etc. Suddenly we don't receive comments from single friends who visited us saying your home looks more like a playschool :-)
  • Her toys graduate from being dumped into one big laundry basket in the corner of a room to being organized into cupboards or shelves or cubbies so she can pick and choose what she wants to play at a given time and can keep it organized once done.
  • You see your little one able to rock her body weight back and forth expertly and swing herself so high so easily. Suddenly she no longer needs you to push her back and forth yelling "higher mommy...higher!!!"
  • Your little one can actually tell you what she wants to eat and what she doesn't. Unlike just a few months ago when just getting stuff into her system was an accomplishment...didn't matter what you were stuffing her with :-)
  • Your little one is not just asking silly questions but actually stuff that makes you stop and think. And not once or twice...every single minute...every single hour of the day.
  • When you see her mothering her soft toys telling them not to worry coz her mommy is here.
  • When you notice that she actually has a very sharp sense of time. For example, you pick her up from day care a little early one day and she says "why did you come jaldi today" or when you are running late for her pickup and find her waiting on her mat at school instead of playing in the park. It is so eerie to see how they just know!
  • When you see her trying to write alphabets and numbers on her DoodlePro instead of her usual drawing or random doodling. And this after NO effort whatsoever from our end. Infact we chose to send her to a Montessori and not a traditional school where they emphasize on holistic learning rather than just reading or writing at such a young age.
  • When you see that she can actually keep herself busy for hours now engaged in some activity or the other at home rather than her calling us to play with her ALL the time until just a month ago.
I am sure this list can keep growing as I find myself marveling at every new little thing each day. It is just so emotional to see the transformation which seems like it happened overnight. Not sure if it is because she has now graduated from being taken care by a maid to going to a daycare setup or it is just her age to grow into such things but things are changing fast now and thankfully for the better. Knock on wood. Kala Tikka. Love you my baby. Can't believe you will be 4 in a few months already!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inspiration Block

Help ladies!!! I seem to be stuck in an 'inspiration block'. You know how you can't figure out what to write next when you have a writer's block? Well, for me these days, each day seems to be like an inspiration block. Almost like I can't figure out what to do with my time all day. I mean I want to tidy up my home or redecorate or do a fun craft activity with my child or just cook something new. But just don't seem to muster up the enthusiasm to do anything!!! Why??? This sucks! I am not sure when this will pass or what it will take to make this thought I'd ask you ladies for suggestions. Do you feel this way at times? How do you snap out of it? Even at work, I do what I need to do but almost subconsciously...not wholeheartedly. Each evening when I come home, I hate to think of getting into meetings again within an hour...I used to do it all so well until a few weeks ago...these days I just feel shitty about everything :(

The ONLY thing that I have started engaging in these days is this new sitcom Modern Family, after reading about it at Simran's blog here. Thanks Simran for that one new thing I look out for during the day...I had almost given up on TV after moving to India since I was soooo hooked to all the sitcoms in the US but had failed to find anything interesting here. I know they telecast replays but those are seasons I may have already seen or some shows I loved are not even telecast in India. So this is like a breath of fresh air.

Any other tips, ideas, suggestions guys? I thought of finally acting on something I always wanted to learn - sewing. I even called the classes yesterday and told them I am coming today to enroll. But then not sure what made me fizzle out this morning :( That's another reason you may see a new look to my blog...these new colors kind of made me feel good and I hope to get inspired by them too. Every little bit counts you see :-)?

Edited to Add: It has been several hours since I typed this post. Since then, I have taken a short afternoon nap (since I was working from home today), gone to the parlor to get my legs waxed, have planned on taking lil N to the swimming pool tomorrow, had a good nice talk to the hubby about this and generally feel a whole lot better already. Almost like I have finally snapped out of it. Thank God!!! And Simran, a sincere thanks to you as well for writing some uplifting words almost right away. I think finally writing about my emotions and knowing there are others like me out there helped me get out of it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Graduation Days and Emotions

So during the week of organizing International Women's Day event and taking ownership to lead the Women's Diversity Group at work, there was yet another day when I was doing some kind of hosting, addressing the crowd and generally glowing in 2 two seconds of fame :-)

You remember I wrote about N's first school in life a while ago and how I loved it? Infact I think I wrote several posts on her at that school (check here and here). Well, they called me to *ahem ahem* be the chief guest at their graduation and annual day this year. I was shocked to say the least since this has never ever happenned to me before. I mean chief guest!!? Really? Am I that old or distinguished enough? Or am I famous or well connected enough? They surely have mistaken me for someone else I thought. Or maybe they couldn't rope in anyone on their A list and so I was their fall back option. So I tried telling them they should get a more influential person and what not but they wouldn't budge. They wanted it to be a parent, someone who knows the school more closely and thought I would be best since I had always supported them over the last couple of years.

So there I was! Supposed to come up with a speech, address the crowd, watch the cute little babies perform on stage and hand over graduation certificates to the cute little ones. I was touched. Ofcourse I wanted to do it. So I thought and thought about what I could tell these parents, grandparents and relatives who will be attending that day and most of whom I was sure would be older and wiser than me. Did some research online...just looking for graduation day ideas and came across this beautiful song that inspired me to pen all my thoughts down.

I decided that THIS was going to be my key message. I took inspiration from Sheryl Sandberg's video that I posted here since I was to give a talk without looking at any powerpoint slides out here. There would be no fancy conference room or a laptop going through my slide deck or anything. So I had to say what I had to say as if coming to me naturally and fill it with real life incidents. And I thought Sandberg did a great job at that in the video. Not easy for me to do this after spending years and years in the corporate world doing presentations with the aid of slides, notes or powerpoint decks. Kinda reminded me of school days when we would "by-heart" our poems or speeches and have to narrate :-) What would life be without technology....sigh!

Anyways, I digress. So I wrote and wrote till I poured my heart out on paper (well...electronic paper I must say) and decided that I'd end my talk with this above mentioned song. I'd let them listen to how beautifully it describes what I was trying to say and let their eyes moisten up too like mine did when I first heard it.

But then there came another contestant. A song that I have always, always loved and has never failed to make me teary eyed. A song that is sooooooo appropriate for a parent to sing for his/her child....that talks about our aspirations, hopes and prayers for our children. A song I have always wanted to sing for my daughter.

Sigh...not just the words but the picturization is also sooooo touching. Tough choice I tell you. I played both these songs for my little N over the week, slept on it, tried to reach a decision on which one I should tailor my talk towards and which one should be the conclusion of my talk. Finally after a lot of listening to these over and over again....on my laptop...on my my sleep even...I decided I'd stick with the former...the song that started it all. After all that was the song that got me started on my writing and helped me put together a very nice message for the audience.

So that's what I did on the morning of March 12. I got up bright and early, got ready, kissed my lovely daughter and hubby goodbye (they had plans to spend a nice lazy, cozy Saturday morning at home) and took the ipod and ipod dock to Kinder Kare Playschool and immersed myself in the children. I had such a good time watching them perform without the anxiety of waiting for my little one to come on stage and worrying whether she would look at me and cry or dance! I was amazed to see that not a single one cried this year unlike last year when my lil N was doing the performance on that same stage but burst into tears when she was being handed over the graduation certificate. Too emotional I tell ya! They then welcomed me, said some really nice words about me and a small girl maybe 3.5 years old welcomed me with a lovely bouquet. It was such a pleasure spending the morning with them very unlike how I spent my own daughter's graduation day this year at the other Montessori she is going to. That was a nail biting, tear wiping, stressful event and is probably matter for another post in itself. After spending months practicing her dances at school, the little child was in tears when she was finally put on the stage on their Annual Day. And I don't really blame her coz the kids were taken to a totally different venue, a brand new place and room, a brand new stage where they have never been before and asked to perform. With NO prior mental preparation whatsoever. How would you expect a 3 or 4 year old to do something as humongous without any mental preparation whatsoever? This same child of mine performed much better last year when she was at here at Kinder Kare though she was 1 whole year younger! It is all about preparing and conditioning these little ones I say. Anyways, many other small things that could have been paid more attention to. But that was just Annual Day. There are other good things that this Montessori is doing very well which is why I am happy she is going there for another year.

Overall, this one incident of me going back to her previous school made me think how much I miss staying connected with her school. If I were in the US, I swear I would be so much more involved with her school. It is so normal and kind of expected for parents to stay involved in running the co-operative schools there in the US. I mean everything including volunteering to coach football (or any other sport) or leading a committee to organize other co-curricular activities, etc. Whereas in India, in most schools, parent involvement is neither offered nor encouraged. Pretty sad isn't it? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

I had the privilege of organizing the Women's Day celebrations at my company this year and as part of the various sessions I helped facilitate during this event today, I wanted to share one that I really really liked. It is a talk held by Sheryl Sandberg who is the COO of Facebook. She talks about why there are very few women leaders in the world today and delivers 3 key messages that I am sure most of us women who are or have been in the corporate world can relate to. You can see her talk here. If clicking on my link does not work, you can point your browser to go to

By the way when I was approached to lead the Women's Day event at work this year, I wasn't sure I believed in the cause or the day in itself. Coz the fact that we have a special day for women itself highlights the fact that we consider ourselves second citizens in need for special attention. But then a colleague shared his perspective which started to make sense in my mind. He said that when we work with a team of mixed genders, we do not necessarily think differently when talking to a woman or a man. Neither do women in today's corporate world think I am a woman so this is how I work and this is how it is different from a man's way of working. Nope. The only reason we may encourage forming a diversity group for women is because women in general have a unique set of challenges (that may be due to several reasons or factors such as society, upbringing, family, etc.) which they need to overcome if they want to stay ahead in the corporate world. That is why such diversity groups or earmarked days are beneficial so that they can relate to each other and use it like a support group to help each other overcome these challenges.

Do check out Sheryl's video and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 18, 2011

One Year

Today marks the completion of one year of service with my current employer here in India. Today, incidentally, is also my parent's 35th wedding anniversary.

One year....seems to be such a looooong time and yet sometimes feels like it flew by. And although working in the corporate world is not new to me since that is all I have been doing the past 12+ years (ever since I graduated), this one year is much more different and unique in my mind. Coz this is the year I worked with a new personal title "working mom". And that too not in a country such as the US where most moms end up going back to work any way because they have excellent day care facilities and better work-life balance in general. But in a country like India where going back to work is much more difficult (in my mind) if you are like me who does not have a support system like parents or in-laws or an army of maids around you. Ofcourse I went back to work 3 months after my baby was born but I was in the US then and that's what everyone did. Most new moms there either found a daycare or a good nanny and didn't even consider staying at home as a viable option. Atleast not amongst the people I knew. And atleast not in the mindset I was in where career and ambition was foremost in our minds.

But things changed when we R2Ied. This was when my daughter turned exactly a year old (notice how we've been taking significant steps every one year or so?). Our move back to India kind of forced me to step back and really think....take some time out to get get settled...spend time with my little one and evaluate my priorities overall. And I did take almost a year to make the decision to go back to work. I remember how I was still struggling with the prospect of leaving my daughter in the hands of a maid around this time last year when this job came my way. I was not even actively looking but this very professional staffing manager was pursuing me for the current job. I remember not even entertaining his calls the first few times but finding how persistent he was piqued my interest. And I thought why not give it a shot...for this role was something close to my heart anyway. And it sounded exiting since it meant starting a whole new function in India from scratch. I was very sure I could excel in this role but equally unsure about how I would manage the child-care front here in this new city without any reliable maids as of yet or any good daycare option too. So that's how I started last year...very unsure of every step I took...constantly double guessing my decision...going on mommy guilt trips every single day for the first 5-6 months of working...hating the unreliability of maids in India or the availability of good day care centers general really struggling to find a balance between home and work.

Until today where I can step back and marvel at how we made it through. A huuuuuuuge chunk of credit goes to my really supportive hubby who kept me going every time I faltered due to mommy guilt. And of-course also to my very very endearing, accommodating and loving little daughter who finally did understand that mommy has to go to work for her sanity and for her to be a happier person in life which in turn will help keep everyone at home happy as well :-) And I think a huge amount of credit also goes to the company I work for which is very different from many other companies in India that I have seen in terms of understanding the value of providing flexibility and good work-life-balance opportunities. I totally admire the culture they have fostered and would absolutely recommend such employers for all working moms out there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just an update

Just stopping by to post a quick update and say thanks to all the well wishers who left comments on my previous post here. So given that it has been 4 weeks now since lil N started going to daycare, I am finally pleased to see that she has warmed up to her caretakers and other kids there and is happy going to school and daycare now. We had decided not to call it daycare just so that she does not compartmentalize things...we still call it school coz it is the same place she stays back at...just the teacher changes. So she went from not liking her daycare teacher to now actually saying that she likes her and her school teacher as well and her 'akkas' there too. And that now she is a big girl and likes going to school. My heart swelled with pride when I heard that the first time and I sent a silent prayer to the Almighty for making her such a sweetheart and for giving me the strength to not give up.

Like Rohini really are more resilient than what we give them credit for at times. Thank you god and touchwood...kala tikka...whatever it takes to keep this going.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Lot of Mixed Emotions

A lot has been going on in our lives lately regarding the child-care arrangement front so haven't even had the time or mindset to jot down all the emotions. Just felt like penning down some thoughts today so that I can read them again when I am confronted with mixed emotions such as this morning.

So our full time live-in maid has disappeared after a long stint of 7 months at our home. She told us one fine Friday evening (on Jan 14 to be precise) that she is going to her 'gaaon' (i.e. village) on Sunday. We actually stopped everything we were doing and even switched off the TV to give her full attention coz obviously we couldn't believe what we just thought we heard. We really thought this was one of her moods when she was a little homesick and wanted to go visit her mom. She often used to say that but more so jokingly and when asked if she was really serious, she used to say 'no no - I will only go after a year or so and will make sure I give you enough notice so that N is not stranded without a 'didi' suddenly'. So when she actually said this that evening, I initially brushed it off until she said it again and that's when I switched off the TV with utter disbelief! But turns out, she had to go since her mom had called for whatever unexplained reason (some death in the family though we suspect the real story was totally different) and that she will be back in 10 days. So calls to the agency were maid, replacement was asked for but obviously none could be provided in one day and so with no time for us to react or think straight, we asked her to leave on Sat night itself since we had plans with friends for Sunday and were not going to be home but more than that, we wanted N to have one full day without her on Sunday so that it sinks in and she does not feel deserted all of a sudden on Monday when mommy and daddy will also not be around. So that was that. N cried and asked her to not go....I cried coz I still could not believe she was gone that fast and most of all I cried coz my heart went out to N...she loved her 'didi' so and had come to a good routine and stability with her sticking around more than any other previous nanny had.

After she left, I made a decision not to see N like that any more. We were not going to get any replacement nanny or didi for her after this and have her go through this heartache again when she left. This was not a permanent arrangement and I did not want N to pine for her 'favorite didi' time and time again. Believe me, she still asks for the didi who worked at our place before this one and still believes she will come back one day. So I decided that was it and we were just going to give day care a whole hearted shot this time. No more more more bitterness or N's heartache when they leave at the drop of a hat...nothing. So come Monday, I spoke to her Montessori where she goes since they have a daycare that they just started this year. We packed her off to the Montessori as usual and I decided to pick her up at 2:30pm instead of the usual 1:00pm. She being a very gradual kind of a child, I did not have the heart to keep her at the daycare until 5pm from day 1. So we gradually stretched her day there a little by little at a time and finally after 2 weeks, we reached a point where she got picked up at 5. She did not eat lunch there for the first 2 days since she said she wanted mommy to feed her...once we tackled that...we took on the napping task. She did not nap there for 2 weeks but has finally been napping there for the last 2 days. Now next is the evening milk...she refuses to drink it there coz she wants mommy to feed it to her. We are doing really tiny baby thing at a time. I am a very soft hearted mommy that way. I cannot see my child even wince in sorrow...forget about cry. And the sad part is that I know she cries a little every day at 1pm when other mommies pick up their kids she does not get picked up any more. She was used to a routine where she and her best friend A would get dropped to school together every morning by her dad and A's mommy (our friend B) would pick her and A up every afternoon at 1 so they would enjoy coming home together. Now when A got up and left at 1, she had tears in her eyes for the first 2 weeks and I felt terrible inside for making her go through this. But gradually it has improved and there have been days when she has told me proudly that she did not cry at all in school. What I am observing these days is that even though she hates getting ready to go to school now (she cries almost every morning that she does not want to go), when I pick her up, she is a happy child. She tells me all that she did and is very glad when I reward her with a candy or something for being a good girl at school. I know in my heart of heart that this setup is the best for her but when she cries each morning that she does not want to go to school (she never did this earlier when her day ended at 1pm) or when she asks for her 'didi' at times my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces. I am torn between continuing to push her a little every day to get adjusted into this new routine versus picking up the phone and calling her 'didi' back to join us (incidently her didi did call a few days ago and leave a message that she can come back if we wanted her to. But we were not happy with the way it was done...she called our friend B (A's mommy) to check on us and ask her to let us know. That was not very nice of her in my mind).

Now you other soft hearted mush mommies like me....please let me know what you'd do if you were in my shoes? I know there are pros and cons for each setup and I am fully aware of what is best for my child. But what do you do when your child still lives in the belief that her favorite didi is coming back soon and that this is a temporary arrangement? What do you do when she cries in the morning and says she does not want to go to school when earlier she used to enjoy every minute of her ride to school and back with her best friend A? I mean...its not that dreary in practical life...she has another close friend who stays back at daycare with her and she has begun to adjust a little more each day. But you know how we moms are right...always confused and torn!

Please post your comments or thoughts...I'd love to hear advise from experienced mommies.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Profound Words

Some of the things the little one says these days make my jaw drop. I mean we have NEVER ever used such words ourselves so it makes me wonder where she picks up these things.

Like this past weekend, I was annoyed at her for not letting me talk to one of my friends who had called from the US. N was constantly around me asking me for chips, chocolate, this and that while I was trying to have a sane conversation. Finally I had to hang up in a hurry and was upset with N for making me do that. But I didn't yell or do anything about it. I just sulked. So after a while she noticed that I was not in a good mood and was propped on the couch with hubby and watching TV. She chooses this moment to announce the following:

N: "I don't want to live in this house. No one smiles at me here."

Whoa!!! We were shocked!!!


Another cute incident. She comes home with one of our friends B who picks up her son A and my lil N after school. So one day on her way home she somehow realized that their teacher has put her napkin in her friend A's school bag by mistake. So she tells B auntie:

N: "Auntie, A has my napkin. Please give it back to me nahin to (or else) I will cry and have big big tears in my eyes in front of my mamma and papa!"


Now please tell me where on earth do they pick up such thoughts and words from???? I mean she is still a 3 year old isn't she?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


N's grandparents (grandpa, grandma and aunt) left for Bombay 4 days ago (on Sunday, Jan 2) after staying with us for 3 weeks during N's Christmas break. She has been missing them soooo much since then. The night before they were leaving, she went to each one of them saying "I don't want you to go :(" It was tough explaining to her that they have to go for now but will come back soon.

They were leaving very early on Sunday morning and I made sure I woke her up early morning at around 4am when they were leaving so that she can say goodbye. Or else she would wake up to a rude surprise to find them gone and be very unhappy. So I remind her about how she said bye to them each time she asks for them. Luckily for her, Sunday was relatively easy since 2 of my cousins (lil N's P mama and R maasi with her 2 boys) came to visit us. So she had company around to distract her. But after that she has been asking me when will Nana and Nani (my mom and dad) come. Sigh!

The next day (Monday) she woke up and her first words were "where are my amma, aabu and bua?" I reminded her again and since school was reopening, got her ready and packed her off to school. I knew it would really hit her hard when she got back and did not find anyone (including her mom and dad) at home unlike the last few weeks and we had been on vacation too along with her grandparents. So sure enough she came back from school and looked for them in every room at home and then asked her didi (our maid) when are her amma, aabu and bua coming back.

After 4 days have passed, she has come back to her routine of school and stuff but still misses them. She does seem to have come to terms with what we've been telling her though - that they sat in an aeroplane and went to their Bombay home. They will come back again in a few months.

I feel sad for her and have been going home a little earlier than usual from work so that she does not feel too lonely. She does seem to be okay now and is mostly back to her normal routine. But she sure seems to have made up her mind for the next time. Here is what she plans:

A snippet of our conversation last night while putting N to sleep:

N: Mummy, when will my Aabu, Amma and Bua come again?
Me: Hmmm...(thinking of a suitable number of weeks to be given to her)
N: When they come back again, I want to tie them and not let them go back!
Me (smiling and not so surprised at her plan): Okay sweetie, I will help you tie them okay?
N: Yes, we will tie them in our drawing room. Okay mamma?
Me: Okay sweetie, now go to sleep.

Sigh! Come back again Amma, Aabu and Bua - your lil N misses you so!

Monday, January 3, 2011

December = Loads of Fun!

December in our house has somehow always meant loads of fun. For this is the month when we celebrate our anniversary, my hubby's birthday, Christmas and the New Year! Soooooo many occasions to party, buy and give gifts, have cake and most of all - spend tonnes of quality time with family.

So this December as little N's school was on a 2 week Christmas break, we had planned her grandparents and bua's trip to our place during the same time. N's amma and abu (grandpa and grandma) flew over from Bombay on Dec 11 for a good 3 weeks stay. And bua joined us on Dec 22. And more than us, it was lil N who was the MOST excited! You can just say she has been having a blast ever since they arrived. Our home has been always full of relatives visiting us - both from out of town to the ones in Bangalore itself. N has not had a houseful of so many people since a year ago when it was my brother's wedding. Ofcourse she has had trips to her Nana Nani's or Dada Dadi's home but never a house full of people like we've been having these days. And frankly, I am enjoying all this for a change too. This is the part I really really like about moving back to India. Family! Nothing like it!

So here's what we've been doing over the past few weeks:

Our Anniversary
All of us went to a nearby Ganesh temple followed by a typical Andhra style dinner served on banana leaves and such. Was good fun and lil N was the most overjoyed by it - she actually ate curd and rice with her hands and made a good mess but insisted on slurping it up all by herself! Hubby gifted me some good designer jewelry from Tanishq and I put together a nice personal photo calendar for him with important dates marked so that he does not forget.

N had a great time decorating the Christmas tree this year not just by herself but with her close friend A. Both of them had a blast putting up all the tree decorations at our place. N insisted on hanging every single item on one branch and was very upset when we finally intervened and "re-balanced" the look :-)

She then had an invitation for a Christmas party at a friend's place which she enjoyed but missed seeing Santa since mommy had to come back for a meeting and N refused to stay back with the maid. Then she spotted her first Santa this year at a department store where we went grocery shopping one weekend. Santa shook hands with her and mommy made him gift her a chocolate she loves (Kinder Joy - she calls it Egg Chocolate). The store guys even took a picture of her with Santa and gave her a complimentary copy which thrilled her to no bounds. Her second encounter with Santa was at the Christmas party in our apartment complex on Dec 24. That Santa gave her 2 Eclairs and she was so happy. Then we told her Santa will come visit her home and when she wakes up the next morning there will be a gift for her under her Xmas tree. Mommy had packed a finger painting set with a notebook and stickers for her. N loved it the next morning and spent atleast an hour painting with it. She even sat with her baby (her teddy bear) under her tree the night before explaining the funda of Santa to him for quite a while. Interestingly though after taking her pic with Santa in the store the other day she asked me on her way home "Mommy who was in the Santa suit?" I was a little heart broken that she kinda suspected Santa was not real. So I debated with myself for a bit but decided to tell her the truth anyway - so I said it was an uncle. She asked why was he wearing Santa suit so I said because uncle knows that children love Santa that's why.

Hubby's Birthday
Poor hubby's birthday was the most hilariously disastrous event this month. Started with him wanting to go to a certain restaurant for lunch. By the time all 6 of us finished with our breakfast, bathing and getting ready routine, it was already 1pm. Then when we were just about to step out, the plumber whom we had called early in the morning finally decided to show up for some repair work in our kitchen. That took another 30 mins and left our tummies growling. So we called ahead to make sure we have a table ready and finally reached the place in a huge hurry. But the person who was showing us to our table there had a major attitude issue and was really rude in general. We hated the table he had reserved for us and he did not even apologize or ask us to wait for another one. All he said was "We hate this table too but since you called ahead, we kept it open for you!!!" Imagine that! So we said "You can keep the table for yourself!" and walked out of that place. Next we drove to another outlet of the same restaurant which was around 20 mins away. Given our luck, they had absolutely no tables available there for another hour and so we were again stuck wondering where to go. Debated a few places on the way and finally went to one that used to have a good buffet. Reached, took our seats all hungry and tired only to find out that they have stopped serving the buffet recently!!! Ugh! We gave up and finally shoved some food into our faces and got out of there. Picked up some dessert on the way and reached home saying thank god the disastrous lunch is over :-)

All day though N was the most excited member in the house telling everyone she met that it was her papa's happy birthday today. And she went on to add that her amma and abu and bua have come from Bombay!!! She kept singing "Happy Birthday to Papa" all day and also kept asking us to start celebrating papa's birthday (which meant she wanted the cake cutting ceremony to to be held right away). She was the most thrilled when papa finally cut the cake in the evening and gave her a huge helping of plum cake with vanilla ice cream.

A Day at the Park
On Dec 29, us and a few of our friends decided to take the kids to Cubbon park in the city. Me and hubby had already taken this last week in Dec as vacation time from work to ensure maximum quality time with the family was spent. And we had planned a trip to Waynad that never actually happened due to a booking goof-up by the travel website. That's how we were home and planning day trips to places like Cubbon Park. So this park in Bangalore is known for its 'Bal Bhavan' which has many areas for the kids to play in, an aquarium and the main attraction being a train ride. Turns out my lil N has never ever sat in a train before. So obviously she was overjoyed at the thought of sitting in a train and even after it was done, she kept asking all afternoon why the train did not take her again. The kids (N, her friends A and A) had a blast! They visited the aquarium, admired all the fish, had a joy ride in the train and then played to their heart's content in 3 different parks. By the time we got home late afternoon, we were dead tired and hit the bed instantly.

New Year's Eve
Thankfully since the time we moved to India, we have never had to plan our New Year's Eve or any other festival for that matter. Our huge apartment complex and the wonderful cultural society in it hosts very good celebrations for most of these occasions. And the best part - parents like us with little kids do not have to travel to or from the event and can run back home if the child is tired or cranky or go back and forth whenever we feel like it. So this New Year's too we took tickets to the "Midnight Masquerade" bash being organized at our complex's tennis court. And apart from the food that was mostly over by the time we hit the counters, I really REALLY enjoyed the dancing this year. Last year it rained and it being an outdoor party, the dance floor and food stalls were all empty due to the rains. Some brave ones like us took umbrellas and ventured out again and danced on wet floors and even though it stopped raining in half an hour, the fun had halted. This year, thankfully it wasn't even cold and it didn't rain. And most of all, my lil N was overjoyed at songs like "Sheila ki jawani" and other latest hits. I guess it was because that she could actually identify many songs this year and wanted to dance to most of them was what made it wonderful for me. I actually had a dance partner this year and one who was more overjoyed and enthusiastic about dancing than I was. Believe me - she was the one pulling me to dance and I was worn out but she just kept going and going! Knock on wood. She did not even want to stop for dinner so I let her go on from around 8 to 10pm. After which she ate just a little bit and was too tired to do anything else after that. She did stay up though until around 12:30am and then slept on couch while all 6 of us snuggled in front of the TV. A nice, good, enjoyable and cozy New Year's Eve was had. Thank god for that.

And here's wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year as well. I know December is the season for being do tell me how did you all enjoy the passing of last year. Any fun vacations or events to talk about?