Friday, January 15, 2010

Snippety Updates

I was re-organizing Nikki's wardrobe today and I was stunned to see the number of clothes she has outgrown. All the pretty little summery sleeveless frocks that I'd packed away for later because its too chilly these days. Several bodysuits I hadn't pulled out for a while. The frilly bonnet she looks so cute in. She's outgrown them all! It broke my heart to see how tiny the clothes seem in comparison to what seems like just yesterday, when they were a tad over sized. I tell you I'm SO not prepared for the way Nikki is just growing up on me overnight. It'll just be a matter of days before she leaves home for college and I sit by the window weeping wistful tears and reminiscing about her babyhood. Sniff. Maybe I should just change the name of this blog to goodbye babyhood.


The blissful ease with which Nikki used to fall asleep on her own in Goa has become a thing of the past but the sleep struggles are a lot easier to deal with now. On most days that is. Over the last couple of nights Nikki has taken to waking up every 3-4 hours screaming blue murder. Her frantic shrieking has an instant effect; P & I spring out of bed and leap to her cotside to soothe and pacify. Except that no amount of soothing and pacifying works. Or even rocking, singing or even that erstwhile instant pacifier: nursing. After what seems like hours of walking up and down, patting and comforting, she finally nods off and if we're lucky stays that way for some time. She wakes up at 6am like clockwork of course, all bright and sunny smiles and demands to be fed and played with instantly.
We met the good pediatrician today and I hopefully asked if this night waking could be a result of teething and if there was anything we could do about it. Oh its just a passing phase, could be due to anything, some kids behave like this till they're 3 or even 4, she told P & I cheerfully, leaving us reeling in our tracks. The thought of a few more years of sleep deprivation has convinced us that some serious sleep training is probably due. Dr Ferber, here I come.
While on sleep, Nikki has figured out what methods normally work at putting her to sleep and has devised several smart stay awake strategies. Like rocking herself vigorously while nursing, or pulling her own hair while she is being rocked and the most ingenious one of all; clutching tightly at my clothes or managing to entwine her fingers with mine as I put her to sleep. It requires Houdini like manipulation to get myself un-entwined, offering ample opportunity in the process for the child to be all bright and awake again. Maybe Dr Ferber will have some tips to handle this as well.


Yesterday P & I decided we needed to be a little more adventurous and experiment with pizzas other than those of Dominoes and Pizza Hut. We'd tried Garcia's and Smokin' Joes once each in the past so we decided to go for Papa Jones. Bad decision. The pizzas tasted like cardboard cutouts with sawdust toppings. Quite surprising, considering so many of our friends had spoken quite highly about the place. Maybe they were just having an off day.

Have you noticed how the service quality of these pizza delivery guys is directly correlated to the cost? Here are a few sample conversations to illustrate:

Scenario One: Dominoes/ Pizza Hut

Delivery Guy: Good Evening Ma'am, myself Hercules (I swear that's what he said), this is your order one large chicken supreme pizza with garlic bread and cheesy dip and some extra oregano and chilly flakes and paper napkins and one copy of our menu. Thank you very much for ordering from Dominoes/ PH, enjoy your pizza, good night!
You, somewhat dazed after the verbal onslaught: Err..righto, yes, thank you, good night!

Scenario Two: The relatively cheaper Smoking Joes

Delivery Guy, gruffly: Smoking Joes Pizza. Your bill.
You, after making the payment and still impressed by the Dominoes/ PH guy: Thank You! Good Night!
Delivery Guy: Snorts and walks away

Scenario Three: the relatively cheapest Garcia's

You open the door. Delivery Chappie shoves the pizza and the bill, in that order, in your face.
You: One minute, I'll get my wallet.
Delivery Chappie: Grunt
You hand over the cash and are about to shut the door when the delivery chappie barks: Coupons!!
You: Huh?
Delivery Chappie roars: COUPONS. You have taken our Friday Special offer today because you had the discount coupons. Now Gimme!
You, scrabbling nervously in the drawer: Yes, yes one minute, here it is.
Delivery Chappie, now in a really menacing tone: This coupon has the wrong date, do you have the right coupons or not?
Thankfully you find the right coupon soon after and hand it over. Delivery Chappie grunts while you are doing the finding and finally leaves with one last menacing stare. By now the pizza is cold and you've lost your appetite anyway.
I think I'm just going to stick to Dominoes/ PH from now on. What with the lack of sleep and resulting frazzled nerves, I can do with all the politeness and friendly service I can get!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of beaches and bliss

Our much anticipated Goa trip finally happened in mid December and even though I'd been waiting to blog about it as much as making the trip itself, I'm only getting down it to after nearly a month thanks to the villainous net connection and my remarkable efficiency at procrastination. This was our first proper vacation with Nikki, not counting the one trip to the in laws when she was just ten weeks old and a few one off road trips now and then.

I'd somehow always harbored the notion that relaxed vacations would be a thing of the past after P & I had kids, and used this with great success as a handy weapon to pack many more vacations in five years of pre-baby married life that P would have normally liked to go for (just vegetating on the living room couch makes the man happy, who needs vacations?). So I was a little stressed at the thought of the upcoming Goa trip. Was it going to be one of those horror vacations with kids I'd seen in movies and sometimes witnessed first hand, at the end of which I'd need another vacation just to recover?

"No way mater" Nikki would have said if speech and vocabulary had been on her side a little more, "bring on the holidays, I say!". Right from the flight to Goa where she brushed off my concerns with air pressure, chucking the cotton balls I'd stuffed in her ears at the hapless passenger next to us and choosing to look around instead with supreme alertness, to being superbly cooperative with the meals and the naps, the child has proved beyond a doubt that she's a born traveler. *Short pause to thank the Dear Lord for his Mercies. Thank You!*
Probably the only person who was hassled on the flight was the unfortunate chap next to us, to whom Nikki decided to take a great fancy. This guy was one of those cool looking studs complete with his own neck rest pillow, eye pads and mini laptop on which he intended to watch a movie as he gorged on a box of Ferrero Rochers. That was before Nikki, fascinated by the laptop, pillow, eye pads and his egg shaped bald head tried to be friendly and babbled eagerly at him. The guy just ignored her so she swatted at him to catch his attention, but he continued with the cold shoulder treatment and not wanting to be classified as one of those irritating mothers who don't even want to try and control their unruly kids, I held her next to the window to show her the clouds which she remained fascinated with for a large part of the flight.

We reached the resort around dinner time and I fed Nikki her dinner and sat her down in the baby cot provided for us as P & I debated whether we should check out one of the many restaurants for dinner or just play it safe and stick to room service. We were just about settling on room service given the fact that Nikki had been on the go all day and would probably be getting cranky when we noticed her fast asleep in the cot! She had fallen asleep ON HER OWN. Just like that! For the first time in her life. Those of you who follow this blog would be familiar with my sleep, or rather lack of sleep related travails. Suffice to say, Nikki falling asleep on her own, without any nursing, rocking, walking up and down, crooning or permutations and combinations thereof was a milestone event, significant enough to be classified as history in the making.
"I want to relocate to Goa." I told P. "Let's not celebrate too soon" he warned, "this may just be a one off thing."
It wasn't. Our week long holiday settled into a blissful pattern as Nikki fell into an easy routine of fuss free feeding and blissfully falling asleep on her own, all beautifully coordinated with our own meals.

We would typically get up early and head to the beach for a stroll, return to our own room to feed Nikki and then go to the restaurant for our own breakfast, where she would happily play in her pram and observe the other kids milling around.The rest of the day would be spent either lolling by the pool (I did the lolling, P actually fit some swimming in) where we even managed to play our very own version of water polo or at the resort's well equipped indoor activity center. Evenings were dedicated to the beach where the resort had a superbly equipped water sports activity center; banana boat rides, para sailing, jet skiing they had it all! I even overcame my hydrophobia to do some beach para sailing and floated around for the rest of the day feeling like a total Bond.
P & I rented a bike and took turns at cycling around on the beach; windswept hair, the salty sea breeze blowing in your face, it was total bliss! I thought Nikki would be awestruck by the beach since it was her first time there and went a little berserk hopping around pointing out the waves and the sand and the seaaa, look look! and generally making a complete ass of myself, but the girl remained quite unimpressed. She looked around nonchalantly for a bit, noted said sea, sand, waves and setting sun being pointed out by hysterical mother, patted me gently on the shoulder and nodded off. Again! "I want to relocate to Goa" I said to P, firmly this time. He said he was seriously considering it himself.

Nikki stuck to her wonderful routine of turning in regularly by 8 or 9pm everyday leaving us free to conquer new territories in the gastronomic domain and we obliged by stuffing our faces at the various unlimited buffets till we could have rolled quite effortlessly like footballs from one end of the resort to another. Evenings in Goa were pleasantly balmy and we spent many of them wandering around the manicured lawns, with Nikki completely enthralled by the night sky and the large fountains gushing out water in merry tinkles in the center of the resort.

On a couple of days we took turns to baby sit while the other sneaked out to fit in a bit of pampering at the spa or working off some of the excesses consumed in the gym. We even managed a spot of shopping which I quite enjoyed, until the shop lady latched on to me and began telling me how she hated her job and had been trying for a baby for three years and how all kids loved her. I was being sympathetic till she insisted on holding Nikki who promptly began bawling her head off causing me to beat a hasty retreat.

Vacations for me normally end with a heavy heart, but this time round we had fitted in a weekend stop at our friends' B & N on the way back making it the perfect end to the perfect holiday. We braved the chaos at the Goa airport, including a run in with an obtuse airport official who didn't want us to take Nikki's stroller all the way to the aircraft like we had done on our way to Goa, and sat back in the flight feeling rather chuffed at how well we'd pulled it all off. The flight back was pretty relaxed which significantly increased the chuffed-ness and we spent a lot of time telling B & N how we'd had all our meals in the restaurant and how all our evenings were relaxed and how Nikki went to sleep on her own all the time and remained that way even when we- hold your breath!- transferred her from cot to car seat, until they got a little bored and told us to shove it. Shove it we did and and spent a pleasant evening going thru the holiday pictures and chatting about life with kids (B & N have a daughter a little older than Nikki).
The perfect end wasn't so perfect after all because that night I came down with a high fever and the next day Nikki and P fell ill too. The next week back home was pretty lousy what with battling a combination of the post holiday blues and the bug we'd got but we're all okay now.

I want to end this post on a happy note, so I've reserved the best for last :) The most fabulous thing about this holiday aside from the fact that the three of us got to spend so much bliss loaded time together was Nikki's fully loaded happiness quotient; she was just so full of joy all through that it was a delight to watch her. Whether it was the giggling on the flight, the unadulterated delight as she watched other kids splash around in the kiddy pool,the glee reserved for the towel swans on our bed every day made by the resort staff or the well fed ducks in the hotel lawns, I've never seen her so blissfully relaxed and happy before. She even broke into song one afternoon as we went for a stroll around the resort, in perfect tune with P who was humming too!

So even though the relocation to Goa remains a distant dream (I'm still working on it) I've moved to the next best thing; planning our next holiday, that'll happen hopefully sometime soon! Here's to more fun, family times ahead :)

Edited to add: *Kala Tikka* as suggested by Preeti.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That bittersweet chocolate called life

Since I was cruelly cut off from the joys of blogging last month, many a post that I had penned on the happenings in December didn't get its fair share under the blogosphere sun. Here's one such that I intended to post the day we got cut off, a snippet from some happy days spent in December:

Nikki and I have been having the time of our lives these last couple of days! My grandparents, Nikki's great grandparents, are in town and right about now life totally rocks! I've always been very close to my grandparents since they pretty much raised me when I was little, with both my parents away at work. Even though they lived far away from us, between the two of them they always made sure either one was at home with me, so that I didn't have to be alone with the maid. I'm sure it wasn't easy for them, shuttling between cities and managing two homes. Their youngest son, my uncle, also lived with them then and was a student, so they had to manage that bit as well.
Additionally my dad was in the Navy which meant frequent transfers were a way of life, but they were always there when I needed them. As a result, some of my fondest childhood memories are built around happy times spent with my grandpa and grandma.
Like learning to read with my grandpa which got me started on the never ending love affair with books. Or playing house with my grandma who went to great pains once to organize a doll's wedding for me replete with miniature puris and aloo bhaji for the dolls :)
Or my first day at kindergarten when I was howling for my Aajoba (grandfather in Marathi)and the teacher who didn't understand a word of Marathi (my dad was posted in a little coastal town in the South then) thought Aajoba meant mother in Marathi. I don't think my mom was very amused, when, a few weeks later the teacher addressed her as Aajoba at a parent-teacher interaction!

As I grew older and started spending more time in school, my grandparents started coming to stay with us less often. But I would meet them at least once a year during the summer vacations when either they would come to stay with us or we would go to the little army town where they lived with my uncle. Those summer vacations were the stuff dreams were made of. Apart from the full on pampering that my sister and I received large doses of, our grandparents also let us live our Enid Blytonian fantasies to the full by joining us in 'nature walks' (romps in the nearby park), organizing tea parties with the neighborhood kids and pretending not to notice when we would prowl around the house spying on other house guests, on an over dose of Five Find Outers or Secret Seven.

The annual trip to my grandparents remained a regular feature over the years, even though with time the duration of the visits grew shorter every year. With mounting work pressures and crazy schedules, it became difficult to fit in enough time for a long, langurous vacation at my grandparents but we still tried to squeeze in at least a weekend or two. But when I found out I was expecting Nikki even that became impossible what with my doctor's strict travel restrictions.
After Nikki's birth we decided we would take her for a visit to my grandparents' once she was three months old, and I started looking forward to the trip eagerly. But as luck would have it the swine flu wave hit hard just then and Nikki's pediatrician warned us against traveling with her, especially to far flung places where it would be difficult to get immediate medical attention. So we decided to postpone the trip to when Nikki was a little older. My grandparents were having none of it though and decided they had waited long enough to see their first great grand child. They took matters into their own hands and those who know my grandparents well, will tell you that when they do that there's not much one can do but give in quietly.
And so it was that early December saw a 90 year old great grandpa and an 84 year old great grandma get on a plane and travel halfway round the country to meet their great grand daughter.

I felt a surge of emotion when I saw my grandparents at the airport, they looked so frail and vulnerable emerging out of the airport even though my dad was right beside them, so lost among the throngs of people swarming around them. It had been some time since I'd met my grandparents and I was a little taken aback when I first saw them; Aaji (Marathi for grandmother) was bent over slightly with age and Aajoba looked much older than when I had last seen him. But all my anxieties were dispelled after we'd spent some time together, they were as full of life as ever! It's a testament to their superb fitness levels that even at this age my grandparents are supremely fit and can enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer; they don't have too many restrictions on food even though they eat light, they can read & write just as well as the rest of us, enjoy music and movies and my 90 year old Aajoba still wakes up at 5am every morning, like clockwork, for his 40 minute daily walk. It's like a virtuous circle; with all their faculties in the pink of health they enjoy life to the hilt, which in turn boosts their fitness levels.

Nikki took to them almost instantly, especially Aaji whom she greeted like a long lost friend before bounding into her lap where she stayed for the rest of their stay, choosing to give me the complete cold shoulder. Aaji took to feeding Nikki all her meals and even insisted on giving her a massage or two which she did with great adeptness. Aajoba would entertain her for long stretches of time, sitting with her in our little balcony and singing silly little ditties that would have her in raptures. I loved watching Nikki with them, feeling so blessed that she could spend so much time with people who were just overflowing with love for her. And it was so amazing to see how effortless they made the whole parenting thing seem; whether it was handling a minor bump or bruise, a feeding related frenzy or sleeping troubles, Aaji just breezed through it all, making it seem like a total cakewalk! She also had this wonderful repertoire of age old games that were a fantastic combination of fun & learning, and that Nikki thoroughly enjoyed.

And yet amongst all these slices of happiness I just couldn't help the occasional morbid thought that flitted in persistently as I watched my grandparents in the twilight of their lives. Was this going to be their last trip to my home? Would this be the last time they saw Nikki? When would they get to see her again? When would I get to see them again?
Thankfully I snapped out of this morose space soon enough to snap back to reality, where I was surrounded by so much love and happiness and decided that I was going to make the most of the here and now. I've also resolved that I'm going to try and ensure that Nikki gets to spend as much time with her great grandparents as possible, so we're going to see a return of at least some bit of that annual summer sojourn.
I've also been extremely trigger happy the past few days, with my digicam constantly appended to my right hand as I click snaps to the galore and make tons of videos to capture all the memories so I can show them to Nikki later or watch them myself a few days down the line, on a lonely winter afternoon when I feel a little bereft thinking of my grandparents thousands of miles away. In fact I think I'm going a little berserk with the picture taking coz Aaji just remarked that in this trip I've seen them more through the lens of the camera than through my own eyes.
So for now, I'm going to set the camera aside and just go and soak in the sun while I watch Aaji & Aajoba play with Nikki, and fawn over her every move even as they reminisce about my own childhood so may years ago and make it sound like it was only yesterday that I was a little girl myself. And as for all those precious moments that remain unshot by the camera, I'll just capture them in my heart.

Monday, January 4, 2010

We're back!

At long long last! After one whole month of being cruelly cut off from the blogosphere, the powers-that-be at the ones who provide us with our internet connection finally deigned that enough suffering had been bestowed on our hapless household and re-connected us today.

About time too since I was on the brink of completely and totally losing my marbles at this random disconnection of my life line and support system rolled into one. It all started in the first week of December when I logged on in a particularly chirpy mood, my heart singing like a bluebird, a new post on my fingertips. 'Problem with server' said the screen when I tried to log on. "Pish tosh" said I, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. "I'll just try again later". 'PROBLEM WITH SERVER' said the screen a trifle more forcefully the next time I logged on, just in case I'd missed the point the first time round.
"What the hell!" I said forcefully and did the first thing any strong woman in her right mind would do in a sticky situation such like.
I called P.
"The internet connection's not working!" I wailed theatrically and then proceeded to tell P how my blog would now die a slow and painful death. "I'll lose all my readers, all 1.5 of them!" I screeched. "DO something!"
"I'll look right into it honey" promised P and promptly forgot all about it. A few days later we figured that our connection had been cut thanks to a little mix up at the service providers end. Namely, they had misplaced the cheque we had handed over by way of payment and had then gotten rather confused because while the register clearly stated that said cheque had been received, the payment hadn't come thru since post receipt the cheque had gotten lost. In their wisdom they promptly went ahead and canceled our connection and then sat back twiddling their thumbs waiting for us to come knocking at their door as they knew we would.

After much deliberation and back and forth and also thanks to the complete absence of any other solution we've had to make the payment all over again thanks to the lousy little buggers (you know what I really want to say) but at least I'm connected again and it feels good SO to be back!

Much has happened in the real world while we were away from the virtual one. My grandparents (Nikki's great grandparents) came visiting and much fun was had by all. After they left we went off to Goa for a holiday and had the most fantabulous time ever! Of course we came back and promptly fell ill, all three of us, but we're all fine now, and it wasn't swine flu, so all's well that ends well! We've also had a rather nice festive season this time round with a lot of quiet time with family and friends and Nikki's first New Year was brought in in style. And 2010 begins on a celebratory note too, since Jan happens to be the month in which I celebrate my birthday and P & I celebrate our wedding anniversary. So here's to many new beginnings and many more good times ahead and on that happy note wish you all a very happy new year and hope you have a fabulous year ahead!