Coffee Ninja

*This post has been sitting in my drafts, all lonely and forlorn, for the past three days so I decided to revive it and get it up on the blog. Editing happened, yes.*

I made coffee twice this evening. I didn’t have visitors, I am not a caffeine addict. My first mug tasted perfectly wonderful- nice slight caffeine kick since I am still getting used to drinking coffee regularly, perfect amount of sugar-free (I bid adieu to sugar during my gestational diabetes period and haven’t gone back to it) and slightly cooler than I normally drink- something I have been doing since Aarabhi started moving around the house.

After making my cuppa, I sat down with a very teething-induced fussy baby and tried to calm her down by rocking her. Since she loves her grape juice (a beverage we started giving her since she turned three months, to combat constipation) and finds the sipper soothing to her troublesome teeth, I put it in her mouth. I had a pot of milk boiling on the stove. It was on low heat and I assured myself that I would be able to finish my coffee before I had to switch it off. I was obviously wrong, stupid old me.

The minute I propped Kohl on a pillow, sipper in her mouth, the stove started sizzling- a sure-shot sign that my milk was going to overflow everywhichway. I had to rush, of course. In the confusion, I forgot that I had left my coffee around the living room area and that Kohl loves mugs, plates and every other kind of flatware there is. I am pretty sure you have already guessed what happened in those two nanoseconds I spent on rushing to the kitchen to save the poor milk. My little ninja, the eight-months old baby somehow hoisted upper body from the pillow, glided towards the coffee cup and toppled it. Needless to say, she cried the Ganges. Although the coffee was very warm to me, it probably felt piping hot to her.

She did not burn her hands or any part of her body but I washed them with cold water and a good batch of maternal tears to make sure that it did not cause her any discomfort. She finally managed a smile through her watery eyes and I was convinced that she was alright. The white Onesie she had on was ruined, of course. I put her in her bouncer (with a lot of resistance from her) and took stock of the situation.

Then I spent 30 minutes trying to control the extent of damage our carpet had endured with very little success. Ditching the useless exercise, I made another cup of coffee, with Kohl perched on my hip. I drank this lukewarm of course. I was not going to trust myself, of course! People prepare us for this crawling phase, I know, but what about the warning that children turn into ninja warriors the minute they become mobile? Why haven’t we been prepared for that time in life when the little crying, pooping baby we shot out of us a few months ago becomes an agile little centipede who moves million times faster than our thought process does?

We Do Formula in this Household

After multiple attempts, most of which ended in one of us being sprayed with liquid or hit on the head with the feeding bottle, we finally got Kohlrabi to settle down and drink her formula. Emotionally, it has been a roller coaster ride for me. If you know me out of this blog, you would be aware that I was never a fan of filling my daughter with formula. I had, as every credulous first-time mother does, misplaced faith that I made enough healthy milk to feed my baby and I wouldn’t hear otherwise. But that didn’t happen.

I was doing all the right things- drinking super human levels of water, taking lactation supplements, chomping down on fenugreek seeds by the truck load and getting high on nutritious food. The thing is, ever since the beginning of this motherhood thingamajig, I have been a moderate milk producer. I have had my share of frustrated tears deep into the night, while attached to the breast pump, manual and automatic. I was tired, I had a lot to study and the breast pumps Were. Just. Not. Working. On. Me.

Although most people I told this to refused to believe that every pump I bought off Amazon failed me (that is impossible, someone claimed. The middle finger was shown, of course.). But I trudged on, feeding Kohlrabi straight from the boob. I was sub-consciously waiting for her to turn one so that I could get started on the weaning process. During her sixth month appointment, her pediatrician broached the subject of formula for the second time. Thankfully, she isn’t a huge cheerleader of formula, hence I knew that it was vital that I consider it.

Kohl has always been a non-chubby baby. She is not thin or anything but she will not stand a chance if she auditions for the Gerber commercial (not that I want her to, so phew!). Since she was not gaining weight as science expects her to, our pediatrician suspected that my breastmilk wasn’t healthy enough. So I stood there, looking at my nemesis, the can of formula powder that was going to replace me. After thinking for sometime, we decided to do it. And failed.

She spat it all out, she was enraged that we gave her this vile tasting iron powder thing when she wanted her usual milk. Ah, creatures of habit these babies are. We needed a new plan. So we started masking it with rice cereal and other baby foods she was taking by that time. We started off with mixing a quarter spoon into her dinner and gradually increased it until she started eating a full feed quantity of formula powder in her dinner. And then we began mixing it with water.

She tried to resist but then thankfully, Aarabhi’s parents are stronger than she is so her little paws had to fall off, all tired out after clawing us for a few minutes. The process was gradual and sometimes painful but it needed to be done. Sadly, my milk production has decreased quite a bit since January but then, I was at the risk of that happening anyway when she started daycare.

Kohl still comfort feeds in the nights and in the morning. Although I am plagued by thoughts of inadequacy regularly, I know that we are going the right direction with her. I made peace with formula because it does have a lot of nutrients that thin breast milk lacks. Ultimately, we want our children to be healthy, happy and not throwing a tantrum due to hunger issues.

I know Aarabhi goes to bed, full and content after that one bottle of formula at night. It gets her to sleep peacefully and it sure keeps me sane! Isn’t that how it should be?

Food Issues

I admit it. When it comes to food, I am like a trash can. I eat everything that is put on my plate and I make sure I finish them good. This was how I was brought up at home. If we said no to a dish, we were sure to get double servings of it. Although Amma took mercy on us sometimes, Appa was pretty rigid when it came to Booah aka food.

I am, and my husband would vouch for it, a deal hunter. Although I am not at the risk of being featured on The Coupon Addict (or Extreme Cheapskates) anytime soon, I feel immense excitement when I find something that I want on sale. I love WalMart and Costco. Not many people would say that out loud about the former but I cannot keep it in. See, WalMart is like the period. Everyone knows about it but no one talks about it. So yes, I do make my weekly trips to the nearest outlet and stock up on store brand stuff.

So when this whole organic lifestyle became popular, I did not take heed. I felt that the damage to my system was already done. I grew up on fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market behind our house in India. Although we got fresh stock of produce every day, who knows what went into cultivating them, right? So apart from those summertime farmer’s market trips in the Alabama home, organic food pretty much stayed out of the house. Until Aarabhi.

See, with our children, we hate taking chances. We worry about unknown diseases and wonder about what chemicals go into mass cultivating crops. This routine regularly keeps me up at night. To top it all, I extensively read about an extensive number of subjects on the internet. At the end of the day, comments like “I don’t want my daughter to get her period at four,” and “I don’t want her to develop boobs at seven,” on Organic Foods forum really get to me. In a funnily horrifying way! Would I be compromising my daughter’s health and her childhood by picking up that Beech Nut bottle of baby food instead of Earth’s Best at the store? I might.

I hate leaving things up to fate because fate is still something I have my reservations about. I will contemplate later. So we have consciously chosen to go organic with Kohl. Not us. Only her. I make my weekly trips to our local Publix (ugh) and Earth Fare (which I love, btw). I choose the green tab range of Gerber foods and blindly pick any five vegetarian choice that Earth’s Best has to offer. So what if I get funny glances from snooty shoppers, like I don’t belong here? And so what if I realize that I have my cami on the wrong way under my sweater (a result of getting dressed in the dark) only after the billing clerk pointedly stares at it?

I know I don’t belong here and I really don’t give a sh!t about it. But for Aarabhi, I will make peace with it all.

Valentine Post

I knew I was going to be singled out at the grocery store today. It is the day before Valentine’s Day or what I call Big Fat Pink Puke Marathon. I apologize for the crassness but I have been noticing how V Day decorations have been gradually getting mundane and mind-numbing as years go by. They used to look cute but five years later, every store has ended up looking like a giant strawberry slush topped with pink cotton candy.

So as I stood there, mulling over diapers in the baby section, I noticed how ominous the place looked. I was the only one there. I couldn’t spot even a single pair of parents-to-be checking out the stroller section, something that happens a lot at the store I regularly go to. Heck, I remember doing that a million times only the year before with the hub. Grabbing a pack of diapers off the shelf, I made my way- rather reluctantly- towards their Valentine’s Day isle(s)… only to be greeted by an army of romantics who had the same brilliant idea: last minute shopping so that they don’t look like idiots in front of their better prepared partner.

You might ask me what I, a person with apparent hatred for February 14, was doing in the said section. I was looking for something, not for my Valentine (I don’t have one. I have a husband that I love very much not because it is Valentine’s Day but because he is awesome) but for Aarabhi’s. Yes, little Kohl has a special person to love this year, apart from her parents and the rest of the family: Auntie T. She has a gift all ready for her Auntie. Her mother had to pack it, hence Amma was kinda forced into the red zone.

I waded through all the fluffy, albeit cheap looking, merchandise. Spotted something that would mildly work and got out of there before that little teenager bulldozed me on her way to pick up that perfect gift she was looking for. In a beautifully (and terrifyingly) complex world like ours, why are we teaching our kids to be materialistic? That one day out of 365 really matters when you are in love with someone? Why is our society putting such pressure on innocent young people to celebrate a day that really has no connection to what we have made out of it- a retail display of who has more love to give? I saw adults shopping for- er- very adult stuff in the same isle where children were shopping for gifts. Creepy, much?

What scares me is that Aarabhi is probably going to want to do this as she grows up. I am probably going to try to dissuade her but  will probably give in, being the pushover that I already am where my daughter is concerned. Back home, I had a good mind to skip packing the gift but I decided to go on. After all, Aarabhi has a long way to go before she understands what is going on around her. And I should probably give her an opportunity to form her own opinions about V Day. She might find it silly but if she gets all shrill about the celebration and decides to eat it all up and fart bright pink bubbles, I will smile and indulge her.

But for now, I am going to revel in the joy of having no plans for tomorrow. And I am going to gobble up the happiness only ordering your favorite food with your favorite people and watching a crappy Masala movie on a Friday night can bring your way.

Sounds like a plan?

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

That Pretty Face…

There are all types of social media moms. The ones that talk about their children on every update, the kind that put up pics of them, the kind that ignore the fact that they have children and the ones like me, who border on hypocrisy. But manage not to get there. I respect all the mothers mentioned in the list, I most certainly do.

When you have a child that is as beautiful as the full moon, you cannot help but wonder how you lucked out big time in the baby department. You will feel this deep pang of love that cannot equate anything on this big wide earth. And then you hit social media. You want the world to know how proud you are to have made this wonderful human so you put up pictures to show off and prove your point. Who can resist hitting that Like button on a baby’s picture on Facebook, tell me? I cannot. And sub consciously, I look forward to knowing  what my wonderful friends’ children did that day.
face2In a way, it is a learning exercise for me. Thanks to the many pictures I come across on social media, I now know what little Kohl would be up to at 14 months, that she would be jumping up and down like a caffeinated chimp at 18 months and that she will lose her love for food at 24 months. I also learned that I should not let all this affect me and drive me crazy (best of luck with that, V). But why is a mother who is readily willing to share stories not loving the idea of  putting up her baby’s face on soc med?

Notice I said face. Aarabhi’s arms, nose, feet and head are all over social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even the blogs. Why not her pretty face, right? Well, I kinda feel queasy about that. I study technology at school. In the first week of the Fall semester, my professor who led a course called Leadership Series on Information Systems said something in class that changed my whole perspective in the way I look at the world. He said that having our pictures up on the internet is a choice that we make consciously. But we give our kids no option. They might grow up to be introverts who do not want anything to do with Facebook or other websites (unless they become obsolete by then). Have we given them a choice? Nope.

Pictures of them in their diapers, eating Idli off the floor and wearing weird Christmas hats are all over for everyone to look at. Funny, I admit. But our children would probably beg to differ. So yes, I am very cautious but sometimes, when I click pictures that I cannot resist showing the world, I try editing out her face. Like this:
faceMy husband and I decided before Kohl was born that her pretty little face will not make it to Facebook. Apart from a couple of pictures he and my mother put up to introduce her to the world, Kohl has pretty much been banished from the ‘net. I kinda already dread the time when I will run into her social media profile on the internet some day and try not wincing  at obvious signs that my little girl has grown up. Hence, I certainly have no will to speed that process.

For now, her head and other limbs would suffice. As I mentioned before, my ideas just border on hypocrisy, I try not to cross that line.

Aarabhi and Amma Have a Messy Day

I have never been the most orderly person. If I could leave my empty coffee mug on the coffee table (isn’t it what this piece of furniture is for?) for two straight days, I would. The only thing stopping me is the fact that after those two days are up, I will be the one who washes it. I am the mom around here, remember? Mom and the official dish washer. But since post-Aarabhi, I have tried to be as orderly as my will allows me to be. Sometimes, the will bends only so much hence, I find myself standing amidst a war zone-like messy living room as I type.

Whereas the husband, well, he is the clean one (how un-cliched is that?!). He picks up, he stowes things away, he organizes stuff- the trash, my closet (on rare occasions, of course), Aarabhi’s toys and sometimes if I beg him enough, the kitchen!  Anyway, baby Kohl decided to skip daycare today and spend the day with Amma. She forgot to give me the memo yesterday because I made huge plans to finish my exam, which consists of four huge essays on Economic Development, today. Needless to say, it did not happen. Instead, we made a mess.
ImageYes, good people, I said that we made a big fat awesome mess! The thing with Aarabhi is she loves showering herself with her toys. So when she decides it is playtime, she topples her huge basket of toys on herself and rolls in it with glee. Amma on the other hand, likes to put all her stuff out of her daughter’s reach. But before she did, she decided to take pictures of a portion of the mess they made. Personally, it felt good- to not pick up that dog and set him straight, to not gather all the paper Kohl and I tore up just like that and look for a trash can.

We rolled on the floor a little, she sloppy wet kissed me a few times and I made her giggle some. I did not let guilt nag me me about all the objects Aarabhi could have picked up and put in her mouth and my carelessly scattered books and pens and the giant laptop sitting amidst all this. It is fun to be silly sometimes and this was one of it.

When Aarabhi grows up, I hope she is as clean as her father is. But I also hope she has a little bit of my messy streak so that she can let herself go and not care about mess. At least for one afternoon. She has gotta have that gene somewhere in her, it is only biology.

Image

As I sat looking at some good pictures I caught of Kohlrabi, she lay on my lap, patiently chewing the strap of my camera. Thankfully, I keep it clean. Else, it would have been an immunity-building exercise.

Nursery Rhymin’

I have been thinking a lot about nursery rhymes lately. Here are a few questions I ask the windshield as I drive Kohlrabi to daycare:

  • Why are they so outdated?
  • Why do they all follow the same set of mind-numbing tunes?
  • Doesn’t that push our child’s developing brain into a box?
  • Why are some of these rhymes so darn misogynistic?

My husband would probably roll his eyes. To him, these are not major worries that are involved in bringing up a child. I am more of an observer of the society. I worry a lot about the impression this world is going to make on her. If you are my friend on Facebook, you might have come across a rant I posted a week ago about Hickory Dickory Dock. If not here it is:

On one of Aarabhi’s drive-time nursery rhymes CDs, at the end of Hickory Dickory Doc:
Boy- Look! A mouse.
A bunch of girls- *In their shrillest voice* Eeeekkk!
Aarabhi tries to imitate them (or just trying to express her frustration too)
Way to go, world, with the wonderful concept of gender stereotyping! Catch them young and you will be fine but catch ‘em in their car seat and you are golden!

Why must children’s media producers feel the need to make a bunch of girls scream at a imaginary mouse a boy found near the non-existent clock? Do I want to teach my child stereotypes? Do I want her to be scared of mice? Honestly, I’d rather bring up my daughter with the curiosity to ask me questions about a mouse (Where does it live? What does it eat? Is it scared of us cruel people? Does it know that a group of humans are expected to be scare of it?) than jump on to a chair and expect me to carry her after that.

Hey, if she develops a natural fear, without the influence of a stupid cd, I can make peace with it. This brings me to the second rhyme. I first heard “Where are you going, my pretty maid?” on an audio tape that belonged to my nephew (who is now 18yrs old). Here is the story for the uninitiated: A random nobleman (obviously) randomly solicits a “commoner” and asks her random questions about where she is going, like she doesn’t get enough of that from her father and probably a little from her brothers too. He asks her who her father is and horrifically, he digs into how much money she has to her name.

Who does that? And why is that considered that okay? But this girl, you’ve got to give it to her, she is spunky. She says her father is a farmer and that her face is her fortune! The dude says that he cannot marry her since she is a poor old mouse who thinks she can get by with her looks. The last part of this rhyme has always made me go “you go, girl!” about it. She says no one asked him to marry her.

Snubbed, right? I would say so! Why can they not make more rhymes like this? It is misogynistic, I agree. But the girl at least is sensible and has a mouth on her. She pretty much asked this man to go shove his probable ring up his fat privileged a$$. I find that cool… and unusual for a nursery rhyme from the yore.

We should probably start taking a long-hard look at our nursery rhymes and update ‘em and update ‘em good! It might not matter much in the passing since children grow up and do what they do. I am aware that ultimately, how we bring them up is really what goes a long way. But sitting in the car and listening to a mama trying to bribe her baby into sleep by promises of little winged pets and precious jewelry is driving me cuckoo every blighting day!!

Am I taking this too seriously?