Monday, May 14, 2012

Mommy withdrawal symptoms!

Yesterday was mother's day and for the first time since I became a mom, I got to celebrate it without my little one! I thought I would quite enjoy my time alone at home (strictly speaking I am not alone ..but we are quite a houseful) ....or spend my evenings after work doing things I have always wanted to do but never had the chance TV mindlessly, read the day's newspaper without any interruptions and there's no hurry to hit the kitchen to fix Abhay's dinner! Well, I must admit....I am doing all that...but you know what the catch is? I'm not enjoying it as much....I miss my mommy duties.....I am having what can be called "withdrawal symptoms!" I cant stop myself from calling my parents to check on Abhay every now and then; I cant stop thinking of Abhay as I serve freshly fermented curds for dinner ( something we make for Abhay for each of his meals). I cant stop talking about what Abhay would be doing at this very hour in Dharmasthala! Abhay has had sleepovers at his grandparents' house in Bangalore before.....but this somehow feels different! I almost feel homesick without him around and  it is Abhay who is away from home! Oh God...look what being a mommy does to you!

This time around on the occasion of mother's day, I couldn't read to Abhay as he was in grandparents' farm house in Dharmasthala, which is an overnight journey from Bangalore. But while I was there last week, I had read an exerpt by Leela Ramaswamy in Open Sesame ( The Deccan Herald's children supplement) on Abraham Lincoln's mother titled "Angel-mother". This is a story of how Abraham Lincoln lost his mom at the age of 10 and was brought up his step mom Sarah. Little Abe and his sister lived in abject poverty along with their father Thomas Lincoln when he married Sarah, Sarah who had inital misgivings about stepping in as the wife of Thomas Lincoln, accepted his children as her own. She loved them and worked hard at transforming their home and their childhood into a happy one. Sarah was the force behind Abraham's education and success and for all that he had this angel-mother to thank! I guess Abhay is a little too young to appreciate a story a like this, but it definitely makes an interesting read! We all have our angel mothers to thank ...dont we? I have my mom to thank...specially now...since she has given me some time off from being a mom! Happy Mother's day to all you moms!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Abhay spends a week at Grandma's!

Today is the last day of my vacation at my parents' farm house and tonight I am heading back to Bangalore... back to work... and back to pavilion! These two weeks have been magical... away from the daily grind, away from all that maddening traffic, away from the constant rush that dominates our daily schedule! I now get that uneasy feeling that I used to experience just before school reopened after summer holidays and I can only imagine how Abhay might feel before his school reopenes three weeks from now. This time however, I am a little more nervous than usual as Abhay will not accompany me to Bangalore, but will stay behind and will return with his grand parents in the first week of June. Excepting a sleepover for one night or two at my parents' apartment in Bangalore, Abhay has never been away from us and we've never been away from him! It is my 5 year old's first foray into vacationing like a big boy! As it is, with our Bangalore house getting remodelled, it is better for Abhay to stay clear from all that breaking and banging. At the same time, our house will not be the same sans Abhay! It will no longer feel like we've knocked at the door no. 22, Silver Oak Layout without hearing Abhay's loud voice resonate from inside the house... something you will hear as soon as you enter the 2nd cross. Anyway, it was Abhay's idea to stay over at his grand parents' and I just hope he doesn't wear them out. So far he seems to be okay staying alone without his mom hovering around him. But the real test is when I board the bus back to Bangalore tonight! What if he cries for his mommy when he wakes up in the morning? I have my fingers crossed! :-)

As a last book before I leave, I read Berenstain Bears' 'A week at Grandma's' by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain, brought alive via Youtube. Brother and sister bears return from school to find all their belongings packed into suitcases and excitedly guessed that they are on their way to a family vacation. The father bear clarifies that it is a 'Couple's only' vacation and they are to be dropped off to their grand parent's place. All their excitement disappear and brother and sister bears expect to be bored with their grand parents who they feel are old and not as active as their parents. But they are pleasantly surprised that their grand parents have planned a lot of activities for them. They first dig in to their grand father's chest to find many interesting things - grandpa's old yo-yo and grandma's musical instruments that they learn to play. Then grandpa takes them fishing where they catch their biggest fish ever that makes for a perfect center piece for their barbeque dinner at night. Thus they spend the whole week exploring the courtryside like never before. Soon it is time for mama and papa bears to return from their 'Couple's only' vacation that didn't go well as they had planned and hence they decide that their next vacation will be a family vacation. But brother and sister bear don't mind having another vacation at their grandparents'... without their parents. As I leave Abhay here in Dharmastala, I just hope he'll also have fun at his grandparents'... fun without me. Have nice time Abhay... See you in couple of weeks :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Farewell to the Creator of the World of wild things!


The whole world mourns the death of Maurice Sendak, the celebrated children’s book author who introduced us to the world of wild things almost three decades ago and it continues to intrigue children and adults alike even today. I know it feels like blasphemy now …… but having grown up in India, I had no idea who he was until I began reading to my son in the US. When I looked up the library’s recommendations for kids, Maurice Sendak’s works topped it's Good reads list and believe me when I say that it’s not just for kids!  I read somewhere that one of the joys of having children is happily losing yourself in books you loved as a child and Maurice Sendak’s “Where the wild things are” is a classic that best represents that sentiment. Who knows….may be three decades from now, Abhay would probably be reading this timeless tale to his little wild thing! J

Having already featured some his famous books in my earlier posts, in remembrance of the great author who was also a magnificent  illustrator, today I looked up another one his gems, “Pierre:A Continuous tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue” brought alive on Youtube. In fact, I was thrilled to find that Abhay remembered me reading this book to him back in the US. This is a story of a boy named Pierre who just doesn’t care! He couldn’t care less if his mother wishes him good morning or wants him to accompany her to town. He couldn’t could less even if his father pleads with him to care! Tired of the “I-don’t-care attitude” of their son, they leave him at home and head out for some work, when a lion enters the house. Even with the lion threatening Pierre, Pierre just does not seem to care! Pierre’s parents come home to discover a lion on Pierre’s bed and when they question the lion, the lion in turn replies ‘I don’t care”! They instantly guess who’s inside the lion – Pierre of course. As Pierre is rescued from the lion and is asked if he cares to be dropped home, he finally answers “I care”! Even though the illustrations are hilarious and the rhyming verses seem to read like a song, the moral is not lost. Beautifully framed, this one carries a message important enough for even the most jaded ones to ‘care’!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The things that summer brings!

Out of the two months of Abhay's summer vacations, one month is already up and there’s still one more to go. Well, for a change, I have nothing planned for the second half of his summer holidays – no more summer camps and no more swimming classes and a month’s break from his regular music and drawing classes…….and its no surprise that Abhay loves it! One whole month of unstructured play is almost like a dream come true for him; something rarely allowed by his helicopter parents ….a correction…his helicopter mommy! J Still vacationing in my dad’s farm house, Abhay has fully recovered from his viral infection and his day now begins with fruit picking in our little orchard growing chikkus and jam fruits and checking on the farm cattle before they are sent off to graze followed by a hearty breakfast dished out by his grandma, who is also on a summer break from her college. The whole day goes by with Abhay alternating between indoor and outdoor play, feeding our farm pets, breaking only for lunch or for a brief afternoon nap.  In the evening, we set out for a walk in the areca nut farm when the sprinklers come on that has us soaked to skin …… followed by relaxing on the hammock while the sky changes color as the sun makes way for the rising moon! Mind you…..this is not only Abhay’s daily schedule but mine too…at least for the whole of this week! Ah!.....the pleasures of visiting your parents' especially post marraige! :-)

Since Abhay is enjoying his summer …we read a boy and a girl who seemed to be enjoying their summer too. “Summer’ a Dr. Suess beginner book by Alice low and illustrated Roy Mckie is a charming little book on the simple joys of summer. Though easily readable, Abhay wasn’t too eager to make an effort to read by himself and wanted me to read to him instead. A little boy and a girl and their pup love all the wonderful things that summer brings – the sun, the heat and things they like to eat as they gorge on juicy water melons. As they ride their bikes, they love the feel of the cool breeze that hits them as they ride uphill and down until they make an ice cream stop. As this book is set in the US, summer means fireworks during July the 4th ( an event we’ll miss this year!) Summer means camping, fishing, riding on swings, going on hayrides, catching butterflies and fireflies. Summer is the time to the hit the beach and say hello to the fish swimming way below one’s reach. Summer sun brings in garden fun and its time to water the plants and water each other for fun! Summer nights are meant for star gazing and staying awake to think of happy things like summer things! A summer in the US is no different from summer in India… brings wonderful things too….and we love all the things that summer brings! Don't we?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A memorable boat ride!

Once you are back from vacation, those holiday moments linger on leaving you a little  nostalgic, feeling a little empty and a little melancholic that the big vacation you’ve been planning is finally over ! Vacation blues or not, one thing we always do soon after we return is promptly upload the pictures onto Picasa, organize, sequence and share them with friends and family. So as we uploaded the photos onto my dad’s laptop (as technically we are still on  vacation in my dad’s farm house) and regaled my parents with snapshots from our holiday, we got to relive all those favorite moments captured on our Cannon EOS Rebel T2i. My personal Cannon moments are all those photos taken on the first day of our vacation on the houseboat. Sailing down the tranquil waters of the Vembanad lake is an experience that truly unites you with nature and a great way to de-stress your body and mind. That aside, it seemed more practical to spend the first day of our vacation on the houseboat as it enabled Abhay (who had running fever) and his sleep deprived parents (who were up all night to bring the fever down) to get plenty of rest!!!

While we lounged on the deck, the boatman took us around the massive Vembanad lake which is also a hotspot for many migratory birds that flew past our boat. So remembering our serene experience on the houseboat, today I read “The Boat ride” a level 2 Early Reader from Pratham publications by Herminder Ohri. This is a story about a family of squirrels wherein lived Vikki who always liked to talked big. One day when their cousin Kato visited them from the far forest, Vikki offered to take him on a big boat. It was Kato’s first time on a boat and felt reassured when Vikki told him that he had been on the boat several times and there was nothing to fear when Vikki was on board. They hopped onto a boat and sat curled in the corner. As the boat started moving, Kato saw many ducks and swans gliding near the boat and fish putting their heads out of the water as if to say a “Hello”. Kato was so excited to see so much life on the water that he peered out of the boat in an attempt to touch the swans, when he toppled over into the river. Seeing his cousin screaming for help, Vikki who had claimed to be an expert had no clue what to do. He just scampered from one side of the boat to another side shouting for help. Finally Kato was rescued by a swan who put her head down in the river, picked him up in her beak and tossed him into the boat. The accident had silenced Vikki who no longer made tall claims as he used to. As Kato got warm, he cheered up and couldn’t wait to tell everyone of his thrilling adventure! Already he began to fancy himself as a Hero, a brave and adventurous sailor! But as the squirrels got off the boat and staggered their way home, Kato was so tired  that he fell asleep at the dinner table before he could even utter a word about his unforgettable boat ride! Similarly, though Abhay  was excited to cruise on the houseboat, he was probably too drained out to remember what an unforgettable ride it was!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A one-of-a-kind-vacation

After cruising along the backwaters of God’s own Country, as Kerala is known, we are now on the final leg of our vacation this summer. Our vacations almost always end with a mandatory trip to “Shristi”, my father’s farm house in Dharmasthala partly because it is easier to plan a short trip while we are on vacation anyway and partly because post vacation hangover doesn’t seem so bad when you ease back into your routine incrementally!:-) Anyway, we  had a great time in Kumarakom sailing on the Vembanad lake in a traditional Kerala houseboat followed by an idyllic vacation in a resort adjoining the bird sanctuary with the panoramic view of the lake. Everything was perfect….well….almost everything except for the fact that Abhay was down with fever for all five days of our stay in Kerala! Having made reservations and booked our train tickets almost two months ago, having read all the travel books on things-to-see and do in Kumarakom, spoken to people who’ve been there and done that, we thought we had everything planned out! But what we hadn’t planned for was applying cold packs to bring down Abhay’s fever at an interval of every two hours each night, or keeping our fingers crossed as he gulped down 5 ml of his paracetamol syrup for the post effects of the acidic medicine or hauling an auto late in the night in an unknown place to take our five year old to an unknown doctor! At the same time, thanks to Abhay, this was a vacation in a true sense of the word. Unlike our previous vacations  typically characterized by a hectic daily itinerary, this was a relaxing one where we got to indulge in refreshingly quiet activities like bird watching, swimming, soothing ourselves with an ayurvedic massage at the spa, enjoying sunset dinners overlooking the lake and not to mention cuddling with our flu ridden five year old on a hammock with a book cheer him up!

I’m not sure if it was my sixth sense that made me pick this book before we left for Kerala….but reading about a family  and their spoiled vacation consoled me in a strange way. “ Arthur’s family vacation by Marc Brown is a story I can totally relate to! It is the last day of school and everyone is excited to have their vacation planned. Everyone except Arthur, who is not particularly thrilled at the prospect of going on a family vacation. As they prepare to leave, Arthur cant help dreaming about attending a summer camp with his best friend Buster instead of travelling with his parents and siblings. But his mother assures him of a good time at the beach and so Arthur cant wait to hit the sand. But as they reach their destination, it begins to rain and does not seem to let up even after a couple of days. Tired of waiting for the rain to stop, Arthur plans a field trip for his entire family and discovers there is so much to do even on a rainy day. Finally on the last day, the sun is out and the Arthur family decides to relax on the beach. On the next day, as they pack up and head home, Arthur realizes that he had fun with his family on their vacation, even if it didn’t go as planned! Just as in the book, it was only on the last day in Kerala, Abhay recovered and got to soak up sunshine on the Malabar coast. Whatever said and done…our vacation on the Kerala backwaters is an unforgettable one, for various reasons!:-)