Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Emoticonal Quotient part 3

I had received a few queries about when the new EQ post was coming, and finally here it is! This time, I have a bonus - a one-word movie name.

PS: If you can't get enough of guessing, Pizzadude's got a set on his blog and so has Nandini.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A one-derful celebration

I have to document Xena's first birthday in excruciating detail because it would be the only one where she didn't have a say in anything - the theme, the decor, the guests, her outfit, the cake, etc. etc. I have been warned that starting with the age of 2, toddlers completely take over their own birthday parties and you'll be the one not getting a say in anything. So I thought I'd do a post on how her first birthday went so she can grow up, read it and say, "Mommy, what on earth did you make me wear??"

First things first. I found it very strange to plan her first birthday party because medically she's still considered a 10-month old, and would only be considered a 1-year-old on 13 May, the day she was supposed to be born. Viv and I even had a brief conversation on when we wanted to do the party - 17th March when she was born, 13th May when she was supposed to be born, or 21st May when she came home after spending 2 months in the ICU. We finally decided on 17th March because it was truly her 'birth day'.

The plan was to have a mega-party with both sets of grandparents, but my parents' passports, which had been sent for renewal around the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, had still not reached them. Sigh. Mera bhaarat mahaan. Anyway, Viv's parents reached on 15th March, and Xena immediately recognized her grandma... from her skype sessions! We were stunned to see the grin she gave her grandma every time she saw her.

We had been researching cakes, and a lot of my friends who have babies the same age were going for themed cakes like Spiderman and Disney and what not. Frankly speaking, I didn't want to do it because we didn't know if Xena would be into Spiderman or Disney or Transformers or whatever. We decided to just have a nice big cake with nice icing. We were checking out cakes in different shops when we passed by Swensens and I just casually suggested that maybe we should go take a look if they have any nice cakes. Good thing we did that, because we found THE.PERFECT.CAKE. It was an absolutely gorgeous 2-layered 1-shaped ice-cream cake. Both of us loved it and quickly placed the order. They told us that we could choose the flavours we wanted for the two layers, and we decided on butterscotch and strawberry. Viv asked them if they could put butterscotch as the top layer, making me wonder what difference it made, but the poor guy puts up with so many of my idiosyncrasies that I owed him this little one. Both of us burst out laughing when we saw the memo the cashier had written for the baker. There was only one line to put the information about the flavours and the poor thing had tried to squeeze in our special request. This is what she had written "Butterscotch & strawberry. Butt on top."

Xena and I had done a recce of all restaurants near our place, and finally decided on Indian Curry House. However, they did not allow private events on Saturday evenings (because they probably make obscene amounts of money from the weekend crowd) and suggested Saturday lunch instead. This suited us perfectly because there was a higher chance of Xena being alert and happy in the afternoon than late in the evening (her official bedtime is 6:30 pm!).

Next was outfits. Well, since a lot of people had said that Xena looked more like Viv and various members of his family, I was on high alert not to make the party environment conducive for more such comments. So Xena and I dressed alike, in pink lace outfits. I was dying to wear a sari, but it would be difficult to manage her in one, so I opted for a pink lace churidaar kameez which perfectly matched her pink lace outfit that my sister had sent from the US. Pink was the obvious choice because sometimes my gundi really looks like a boy, and I cannot count the number of times I've been told by strangers, "Your son is so cute." and "How old is he?" and the less offensive "Is it a boy or a girl?" Even the Swensens cake lady pointed to Xena and asked, "Oh, the cake is for his 1st birthday?" Argh. Just to drive home the point, I also put two small bows in her hair and made her wear frilly lace socks with her shoes.

On the morning of her birthday, the in-laws wanted us to go to the temple so we got up really early and got ready. Xena wore this really cute 'pavade' (lehenga choli) that her grandparents had got stitched for her. She was starting to get a little hungry, sleepy and cranky towards the end of the temple visit so Viv asked my mom-in-law and me to head home, while he and dad-in-law went to pack breakfast for everyone. We grabbed a cab which was driven by possibly the most insane cab driver I've ever encountered. She was bowled over by Xena's outfit and kept looking back and proclaiming how cute it was, and every once in a while she'd say, "I should keep my eyes on the road, yeah?" And then she did the unthinkable -- the reason why I refuse to take cabs. She asked me how to get to my place. Me. Of all the directionally challenged people in the world, me. (And that's why I take buses. No bus driver has ever asked me how he could get to my stop.) I thought 'Siglap mosque' would suffice (we live opposite the mosque), but she just joked "From temple to mosque, ah?" and started laughing so hard we had to laugh too. Anyway, thankfully this crazy driver answered her own question, with something like, "I'll take the KPE, then the CTE, then the PIE and then the ECP?" and though it sounded like she was just randomly listing names of expressways, I nodded vaguely. Suddenly she swerved and said, "Oh no no no! I can't take this. I'll end up back where I picked you up!" Sheesh. Well done, I thought. Nice contribution to the stereotype about female drivers.

So we finally reached home and realized that uh oh, I didn't have my keys. I had not anticipated that Viv won't be with us on the way back so I had not taken my keys. Besides, my sis-in-law was home. Except that she wasn't. She had gone to run an errand at the bank, so mom-in-law and I were stranded with a cranky Xena getting increasingly uncomfortable in her silk pavade. And then, the sun shone and the birds chirped and my diaper bag came to my rescue. All the times when I had lugged along the large diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, extra clothes, towels, toys, blankets and what not, I rarely needed to use it. But this time, I was so glad to make full use of the bag's contents. I changed her clothes, wiped her face, hands and legs, and she was much calmer. Mom-in-law and I found shelter near the barbecue pit downstairs. I fed Xena and waited for her papa who was rushing down in a cab to rescue us. It was too hot for her to fall asleep there and I was worried that if she didn't nap in time, she wouldn't be up and fresh for her party at noon. Soon, Viv and dad-in-law were back, and we got home.

It was already 10:30 am. I quickly put her down for a nap, while the rest of us got busy. Viv had to go pick up the cake. Sis-in-law and dad-in-law left early to put up the happy birthday banner and balloons. I got dressed and kept Xena's clothes, shoes, socks and clips ready by the bedside. And then I watched her and I watched the clock. And I did that many more times. She usually sleeps for about an hour in the morning, but I suppose the morning's activites and the heat had exhausted her. I was worried that the guests would reach before the birthday girl. And that's exactly what happened. She woke up at 11:55 am and by the time I got her ready and left the house, it was 12:15 pm and sis-in-law had called to say that several of the guests (yes, even the Indians!!) had reached sharp at noon. So I put my Olympic stroller-pushing skills to the test and quickly got there. She was soon surrounded by eager faces, many of whom were meeting her for the first time. She was alert and happy and readily welcoming anyone who wanted to hold her. Soon the place was full. Our initial plan had been to invite about 50 people, but we had our university gang, Viv's cricket group, his colleagues, my ex-colleagues, and others under 'miscellaneous'. Pizzadude was mock-offended when I told him he fell under the 'Miscellaneous' group, but then where do you put people you meet through your blog? ;) So list bante bante ban gayi, and soon the number was touching 80, excluding kids. It was really great to catch up with old friends after so long, and even Xena was socialising with her baby friends!

The food was super yummy, and the non-Indians were especially bowled over by the butter chicken. Around 1:00 pm, when we decided to cut the cake, we realized that Swensens had forgotten to give us a knife to cut the cake! We asked the restaurant for one and they gave us a butcher's knife! Finding it a bit odd to cut a baby's birthday cake with such a lethal-looking weapon, we asked for a regular knife. It turns out that the ice-cream was so cold and hard, a regular knife was of no use, and we ended up using the butcher's knife anyway. The cake was a big hit with the guests, especially the kids.

Speaking of kids, I had prepared party favors for them in the form of goodie bags, each containing balloons, chocolate, candy, a whistle, a yo-yo, a bottle of bubble-blowing solution and a set of fancy pencils. The restaurant also had a kids' play area in a corner so all of them had a good time.

Xena was getting tired towards the end of the party, but not once did she cry. We were so proud of her. After everyone had gone back, we started packing up too. And then we saw the mountain of gifts. Thankfully, one of Viv's colleagues helped to transport the mountain in his car to our place. (The gifts occupied the entire stretch of the floor from our living room through the dining room to almost the kitchen, before they were unwrapped later in the night.) Xena took a good long nap and woke up refreshed to receive her birthday wishes from my mom and dad on Skype. I wish they had been here. It would have been so awesome. But Skype is the next best thing, and I was thankful for it.

And thus went Xena's first birthday party. We have come a long way from the uncertain and scary days surrounding her birth, and when I look at the ICU pictures of her on the day she was born, tiny and frail and battling for life, I can't believe this is the same baby. Yes, there are some battles still remaining, but we have done well so far. We have done very well.

These two pictures of Xena were taken exactly one year apart. I have kept the picture on the left really tiny as it's not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A fruitful journey

A long long time ago, when I was a tiny little girl, my friend's dad asked me, "So tell me beta, what does your father do?"

Okay, so that was the first time anyone had asked me that question. Phrased like that. And I took it literally. I didn't know I was being asked about my dad's occupation, not his hobby. So I tried to think of whatever I had seen my dad literally do on a day-to-day basis, to compose my response.

And this is what came out.

"Ummm... My father goes to the bank... and he digs up soil... puts seeds in the soil... waters the plants... and plucks the fruits."

I was very proud of myself. It was a very tough question, needed a lot of thinking, and I had managed to capture all the key points of what I had seen my dad generally do in life.

It was only when my friend's mom told my mom that they had thought my dad was a gardener at a bank, that my mistake came to light. Everyone had a good laugh, I sulked for a while, learnt what "What does your father do?" truly meant, and rehearsed the correct answer "My father works in a bank. My father works in a bank. My father works in a bank." a bazillion times.

I remembered this incident yesterday and it just suddenly struck me that my statement from many years ago has now turned true. Except that he doesn't go to the bank anymore, now that he's retired.

But now I can answer with confidence and pride if asked "What does your father do?"

"My father digs up soil... puts seeds in the soil... waters the plants... and plucks the fruits."

And my answer this time, would be absolutely correct.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The warrior princess diaries - VI

All right, it's time for me to compile my Facebook status updates about Xena over the last few months. Frankly speaking, Facebook has been the reason why the post frequency at the bar has gone down. It's so much more convenient to just post a one-liner about her using the iPad while I'm sitting next to her, than to sit at the iMac and type a long post. And this is the reason why I am not, and will never be, on Twitter. Because that would just shut the bar down. I just know it would. And I need the bar to stay alive. At least till Xena is old enough to read about her baby days' escapades.

My last update on her was in December, and a lot has happened since. Let's get the not-so-pleasant updates out of the way first.

  • We had to make a few rounds of the hospital in the last few weeks. Xena had been rejecting solids, and even her milk intake had gone down drastically. To the point that her dietitian was concerned that she would dehydrate. She didn't put on any weight for like two months, and slipped back to being under the 3rd percentile. She seems to be doing a little better now, but her milk intake and rejection of solids still remain the biggest issues at the moment. She has a heart scan scheduled in October, and I really hope the hole has closed by then. I can't bear the thought of her undergoing another surgery.
  • Though she is rejecting puree, she likes to gum on vegetable and fruit sticks I give her, so I am trying some kind of baby-led weaning (BLW) in the hope that one day she will just start eating. Like eating eating. So far, she's tried capsicum, carrot, banana, cucumber, onion, tomato, apple and pear. I should probably do a picture post on her gumming on these things.
  • I think she's going to get her first tooth out soon. I spotted a white dot on her lower gum a few days ago. The funniest thing is that mommy and baby are both teething at the same time! (Her 1st, my 32nd.)
  • It's amazing how a tiny baby can hint and hint and hint that she wants the ring that mommy is wearing. I have told her that she can have it. But only when she reaches an age where she stops wanting to EAT IT!
  • Her fascination with labels is so amazing. Give her a toy, a bib, or even a T-shirt, and she will find the label and examine it for several minutes. (Before proceeding to chomp on it, of course.)
  • I have been doing the exercises given by her physiotherapist to avoid any developmental delays, especially when it comes to crawling, sitting and standing, and they seem to be working. With her ever increasing mobility, I have to keep an eye on her all the time. I have discovered that the humble rattle can serve as an excellent baby monitor. Earlier, even if I went to the kitchen for just 10 minutes, I'd pop back in almost every minute to check on her. Now, before I leave I just hand her the rattle and say, "Shake it, baby!"
  • She started standing up with support and cruising in her cot some time back and it was getting difficult to 'contain' her anymore. We bought a play yard which now occupies half of our living room. The first time I put her inside, she looked around in amazement but bawled her lungs out as soon as she realised that it was nothing but a fancy jail. She panicked so much that I didn't even have time to open the door and rescue her; I just airlifted her from outside!

  • Her physiotherapist asked me to place her favorite toys just out of her reach to encourage her to learn crawling. Unfortunately, none of her toys worked as she didn't seem to want them badly enough to try and crawl towards them. Until one morning... when I found the magic toy that she wanted really really badly -- the iPad!
  • I realised that though motherhood tremendously increases one's patience and tolerance levels with a baby, it also lowers them tremendously when it comes to other people/things. Seriously, hell hath no fury like a mother whose baby's sleep is disturbed by the noise from the construction next door.
  • Xena is turning out to be a cleanliness freak. She likes to dust anything that is in front of her when she's standing. From dusting the couch and bed with her tiny bare hands several times a day, she has graduated to dusting all the new people she meets. She gave a very thorough dusting to one of her aunt's friends who had come to visit. Thankfully, the friend was just amused and not offended.
  • We had a lot of houseguests in December and she absolutely enjoyed all the attention she got, especially from the kids. I quote her 10-year-old aunt, "Look! Even her KNEES are cute!"
  • One of my nightsuits has a yellow care bear on it that she absolutely adores. She would claw at it in the hope that it would come out and play with her. I was telling Clueless about this, and she bought a yellow care bear for Xena!
  • She started saying 'Awawawawa!' some time ago, and though it looked like it could go either way, I kept reminding her that Mama had not quit her job so she would say 'Papa' first. And sure enough, she said 'Mama' first!
  • However, I must emphasise that Viv is really great with her. He's responsible for her massage and bath before he leaves for work, and he also does a bottlefeed at night before he sleeps. As for other stuff, such as where her pyjamas go (see picture below), let's just say he's still learning.

  • She is all set to have curly hair! Just like mommy! Okay fine, both Viv and I have curly hair, but hers will be just like mommy!
  • Okay, yesterday she babbled a whole string of 'words', and I'm not kidding when I say that she said something that sounded exactly like "Bill Gates"! I actually asked Viv why she didn't say "Steve Jobs" instead.
  • Her favourite babble word is something that sounds exactly like "Okay!" From time to time, she says "Okay!" Very randomly. Of course, she has no idea what it means, but it's hilarious when I say something like, "Mama will just throw this diaper and come back to you, and then we can play again, okay?" and she responds with "Okay!" Just last week, I said, "Baby, I love you!" And she said, "Okay!"
  • After her appointment at the hospital last week, I took the bus home, while Viv went to work. A Caucasian guy sitting next to me suddenly turned and said, "I think you're the most beautiful lady in the bus." I turned to stare at him and it turns out he was addressing Xena! I had never laughed so hard at myself in my head before.
  • Motherhood sure enlightens you. I was reading a book of nursery rhymes to her, and it turns out Jack and Jill has a second verse! All my life I had thought that Jill came tumbling after and that was it! It turns out that the selfish brat Jack just went home without caring for Jill. Wikipedia tells me that there is a third verse in which Jill too goes home and gets a solid thrashing from her mother. I have always found nursery rhymes to be too violent (like Tom and Jerry) but this is disturbing stuff. More disturbing is the origin of the Jack and Jill rhyme. You can read more here. I am so going to make up my own nursery rhymes for Xena. And they will not be about guillotines and the plague and taxation.
  • Xena had her first swimming pool experience last month, and loved it! She's always been a water baby who thoroughly enjoys her bathtime so we knew she would like being in the pool. We took her into the jacuzzi actually because she's not used to cold water. We went early in the morning so the water in the jacuzzi was pleasantly warm. We had bought swimming diapers and a neck float for her, but she seemed happier splashing about without the neck float, holding on to my hands.
  • Xena had a picnic at the beach with her friends, and thoroughly enjoyed it. She was the first to get there, courtesy her super punctual mommy, and played with her toys for a while as she waited for her friends. So many people stopped by to say hi to her, I was amazed. Joggers, families, elderly folks, toddlers, mommies with babies, all came by to watch this baby sitting under a tree at the beach and playing with her toys, while her mama-razzi was going crazy with her DSLR.

  • Speaking of the DSLR, I made 3093430758475 attempts to take a decent passport-size photo of her, but I didn't get anything acceptable. However, in the process, I got several amusing shots of her, which I have compiled below.

  • Our friends got her a Rajasthani lehenga choli when they were in Jaipur and we put it on for her to a friend's baby shower. My baby looked like such a grown-up!

  • And the final note on this post -- her birthday's coming up next saturday! Though she'll only be 10 months old medically, but it will be a year from when she came into this world and filled our lives with much happiness and hilarity. :)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Emoticonal Quotient part 2

By popular demand, here's a sequel to the emoji pictionary post. Can you guess the hindi songs represented by these emoticons? :)