Saturday, September 28, 2013

The warrior princess diaries - XIII

All right, it's time for another warrior princess diaries post. Let's go through the pitara of viruses that have hit her since the last update. She recovered from the stomach virus quickly enough, because the roseola virus was standing impatiently in the queue. The roseola wasn't too bad, just some fever and rashes, but next up was the hand, foot, mouth disease (HFMD) virus, or rather a cousin of it because she didn't develop all the symptoms. She didn't get any sores on her hands and her feet, but she had two bad ulcers on her tongue. She was off school for a week, and because of the ulcers, could not eat or drink much. Her intake went down by half. I suppose it's not too bad because zero divided by two is still zero. But the poor baby was in pain and could not sleep due to the painful ulcers. And here's the icing on the cake -- Viv was away in Amsterdam on work! Only I know how I managed that week. She was ill, she couldn't go to school, I couldn't work on my projects, my publishers were at my heels, and because HFMD is extremely contagious, I couldn't even get anyone to come over and help me. She is fine now, touchwood, until of course the pitara opens again. *deep breath*

Other than that, all is well. She's talking nineteen to the dozen, and it is all so hilarious and entertaining I couldn't imagine being at a fulltime job right now and missing all this. She's also getting super shyaani, and here's a sample.

Xena (watching her father pack his suitcase) - Where's Poppy going??
Me - He's going to Amsterdam.
Xena - Xena want to go to Amsterdam!
Me - Err... If you go to Amsterdam, who will go to school?
Xena (thinking for a moment) - Xena and Poppy go to Amsterdam, Mommy go to school.

Here she is, making a long-distance call to her Poppy on her toy phone (she was starting to get the hang of the time difference and knew when he would be sleeping).

We are reading tons of books together and she loves reading and listening to stories. I was telling her the story of the tortoise and the rabbit (yes, I know it's hare, but she only knows hair). When I reached the part where the tortoise was walking past the sleeping rabbit, she interrupted me with this - "Tortoise rabbit ko wake up karega, good morning bolega!" (The tortoise will wake the rabbit up and wish it good morning.) OTT sportsmanship, I tell you.

Just before she sleeps, she likes to name random characters and I'm expected to instantly create a story around them. Sometimes she repeats the story back to me the next day, making hilarious mix-ups. This is her, relating the story of the boy, the kite and the giraffe.

As you saw in the video above, she likes to say 'Thank you' in a sing-song 'Thaaaaaankyouuuuuu' kind of way when I give her something. Sometimes she will pass me something and say, "Here go!" ("Here you go!") and then say, "Thaaaaaankyouuuuuu!"

This is her at the library.

We go to the beach twice or thrice a week, and it's always very entertaining. For her, yes, but mainly for me. Aside from the facepalm moments I have, of course. The other day we were walking past the cable ski lagoon at the beach when a guy emerged from the water, soaked to the bone, skiboard in hand, red in the face and trying not to look anyone in the eye. She pointed at him squarely and loudly declared, "UNCLE FELL DOWN IN THE WATER! GOING HOME NOW." Then there was the time she saw a topless guy jogging and said, "Uncle ka top kangya?? Uncle nangu hokar running running!" ("Where is Uncle's top?? Uncle is running naked!")

We always run into two beautiful cats at the beach - one white, and the other black. She likes to stop to look at them and says, "Hiiiii, cats!" One day, we only saw the black cat. She asked me where the white cat was. I told her I didn't know. She said, "Black cat ko poochhenge white cat kahan gaya." ("We will ask the black cat where the white cat went.") and proceeded to pose her query to the very surprised black cat.

The curls in her hair are getting crazier and curlier and bouncier and I love them. Sometimes she shakes them like Zakir Hussain and says, "Junglee baby!" (I often address her as 'Jungle princess' or 'Junglee baby'.) Sometimes when I'm drying my hair and it's all over my face, she says, "Junglee Mommy!" We also do what I call the 'pull and boinggg' where she pulls at one of her double-helical locks when I say "Pull!" and releases it when I say "Boingggg!" and it springs back. Cheap thrills for Mommy.

Her school had an open house and parent-teacher meeting a few weeks ago, and she got a good report. Of course, she majorly flunked the subject of eating, but the teachers said that she is very helpful and concerned about others. She hands out tissue if someone is sneezing and fetches things that the teachers need. She can match her classmates to their parents so whenever a parent comes to pick up his/her kid, she calls out to the kid.

They had done a project on bananas and the teachers had prepared posters on them. One of the posters said, 'When asked about the colour of the bananas, kid X said, "Yellow!" When asked about the shape, Xena said, "Rectangle!" When asked about the taste, kid Y said, "Sweet!" Xena said, "Yucky!" Uhhhhh... She was running around during the event when she bumped her head and started to cry. The Principal came over, grinned and said, "That sound is most unusual. We have never seen her cry." Her Laoshi (Mandarin teacher) at school said that her heart breaks every time she changes Xena's clothes because she can see her ribs and thin limbs. She commended me though, for sending food cut in interesting shapes in Xena's snackbox. Xena likes Hello kitty so I use a mould to cut cheese, pancakes, parathas into Hello Kitty shapes for her snackbox. The snackbox almost always comes back untouched but some days I see a corner nibbled off and the effort seems worth it.

This a picture of her in her firefighter uniform for her school project. We were supposed to make one at home, so we used a black jacket, her school uniform pants, some insulation tape, a bicycle helmet, black paper and a hose to come up with this.

This was taken at her school's mid-autumn festival celebration.

The teachers also told me that she's the diaper-changing supervisor of her class. When it's time for diaper changes, she stands there and oversees the proceedings. She tells the teachers whose turn is next and makes sure nobody cuts the queue. The teachers actually humour her by strictly following her instructions.

Speaking of diapers, since she was imprisoned at home during the HFMD scare, I decided to make the most of it and toilet-train her. It was a success and now she's off diapers at home, wearing them only when sleeping or when out and about.

She likes order, and everything must be done properly, or like she says, "Pij do poperly!" We were at her friend's birthday party and she had been in the queue to sit on a rocking toy. When she got to the toy, she passed me her shoes and socks. I randomly put them outside the play area. I didn't realise she was watching me until she got off the toy, walked towards the shoes and neatly put one sock in each shoe. Whoa. She actually let go of the toy she had queued up for, because Mommy had not kept her shoes and socks 'poperly'.

She's also very particular about queuing up and taking turns, which makes her set a great example in the playground, and she even makes all the other kids comply. She also uses the word "turn" in odd scenarios. We were in the bus and she asked me why the wipers were not moving. I told her that wipers only move after it rains. She declared, "First rain turn, then wipers turn."

She has started correctly pronouncing some words which she used to mangle before. It's nice, but kind of sad too, as the mangled versions were so cute. She used to say "magmo" (mango), "klangya" (kahan gaya), "connot" (cannot), "ni hola hai" (nahin ho raha hai), "coolinform" (school uniform), "wadithat?" (what is that?), "goob job" (good job), etc. But of course, there are still some words she mispronounces, which Viv and I lap up, like "contocton" (construction). Whenever she sees any construction going on, she will point at the workers and say, "What uncles doing? Contocton!"

When we are out, she is vigilant and keeps telling me, "Car coming, be careful!"

She's developing a cheeky sense of humour, and will sometimes, instead of singing "So many fishes swimming in the water" sing, "So many fishes swimming in the... TOILET!"

My cheeky monkey

All the fun aside, it can get very exhausting to take care of a toddler all day. It's also challenging to keep up with her energy levels and come up with activities to keep her engaged and happy. Our no-TV rule is still on, and when she was ill and couldn't go out, I was really running low on my creative juices. (I will do a post some time on some of the things I do to keep her engaged.) I couldn't wait for Viv to get back from Amsterdam and take over so I could catch a breather. Once he got back, he had a cricketless Sunday and I decided to take the entire day off and do random things, while he stayed at home with her. I met up with a friend and we went to my shopping mothership Vivocity. We had a great lunch, and proceeded to shop for 5 hours straight, after which we had dinner and went for a movie. It was wonderful to be able to shop without worrying about Xena's meal time and milk time and pee time and poop time and nap time and what not. Now that's my kind of 'duty-free shopping'. I strongly encourage all mommies who are the main caregivers of their kids to take such a full day off when possible. It really refreshed and recharged me.

I leave you with one last video - my blatant use of bribery to make her eat. Fingers crossed that she hits 10 kg before she turns 3!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Booked out

Xena is now about two and a half years old, and reading books with her has never been more fun. I graduated from reading to her to reading with her, and now she does most of it herself. I just sit, listen and laugh.

The first video has her going through a book on seasons, and the second, the one that made me die laughing, is one where she points at the udder of a cow and declares that "there is a small pig inside the cow". :D

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Picture of health

So guess what I was doing at 3 AM this morning?

Nope, not club-hopping to relive the days of my teenage. Nope, definitely not that. I was down on my knees, cleaning the floors of KK hospital. Before you think I just had a mid-career switch, I have to clarify that I was merely cleaning up after Xena who had thrown up for the tenth time last night. The poor baby has not been well for about a month now, visited by not one, not two, but an assortment of illnesses. First, she had the usual cycle of cough/fever/breathlessness which lasted much longer than usual, followed by the roseaola virus, and then followed by a fall that has sprained her ankle, making her limp, and then she was throwing up most of last night because of a stomach virus. We rushed to the hospital at 11:15 pm, and she was given the first set of rehydration solution which took an hour (it's four doses, 15 minutes apart). She could not keep it down, so they gave her some medicine to stop the vomiting, followed by another set of the rehydration solution. It was really hard to manage a limping, coughing, puking, crying, cranky and sleepy child (as soon as she'd doze off, it would be time for the next dose, so she didn't get any sleep either). I cannot describe how heart-breaking it was to see her like that. We managed to catch most of what she threw up in a plastic container which we always kept at hand, but some still fell on the floor. Of course, the cleaners would get to it as promptly as they could, but we cleaned whatever we could because the hospital was crowded and there were kids walking everywhere.

We were there till 4 am, by when she was not only okay, she was bringing the hospital down with her chirpiness. In fact, when we went in to see the doctor after the final set, she barged into the office, looked at the jar of candy that the doctors give out to their tiny patients, gave the doctor an incredulous look and loudly declared, "SO MUCH CANDY?!" as if that's what the doctors did - sat in their offices all day and all night, merrily chomping on "SO MUCH CANDY" while their patients suffered outside. The doctor smiled and said, "I knew she was fine already. I could hear her chirpy talking from here!" Xena then proceeded to ask for three candies, with a "One for mommy, one for Poppy, one for Xena." The doctor was really amused. So was I. Because she doesn't eat anything. Not even candy.

She's going to be resting at home till Monday, and it's a little sad because she had prepared these teachers' day cards which she was supposed to give out today. Basically, we'd made some pictures using fingerpaint on the outside of the cards. As for the inside, I just gave her a pen and asked her to go nuts and she did. I wrote 'Message from Xena' on top of her 'art' on the left side and on the right side, I wrote 'Translation by Mommy' and sent our heartfelt thanks to each teacher for taking care of her and especially trying to make her eat (she stills eats an average of two spoonfuls at lunch). We added a tiny notebook and a giant animal-shaped paper clip to each of the envelopes, and there, our teachers' day gifts were ready. Well, she couldn't give them in person, but Viv dropped by the school on his way to work to hand them over.

Sometimes I cannot believe how jinxed all my plans relating to her are. Every time her school has an outing that she's looking forward to, she falls sick. Every time there is something exciting about to happen (show and tell at school, friends' birthdays, teachers' day, mothers'/fathers' day celebration, picnic, play dates, etc.), she falls sick. Like clockwork. Even teachers tell me they understand why I don't sign her up for any more school excursions. From the time she joined the school, she has missed every single excursion because she was in the hospital. Sometimes I feel she's in the school less and in the hospital more. And the damned insurance folks wouldn't give her health insurance because she was born a preemie at 32 weeks weighing only 990 grams.

I have thought many times whether she should be in school at all, and every time I conclude with a yes. Her doctor and dietitian certainly think so, and even though it's painfully slow, her eating has improved after she started school. Besides, I can't protect her forever from the germs by means of a house arrest. She needs to experience what's out there and learn to fight it. So we chose this middle ground of half-day play school.

When you're in a hospital in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for something (the queue number to be called, the receptionist to register your child, the nurse to do the preliminary check-up, the doctor to see her, the clock to tick faster so you can finish the last dose and go home if she can keep it in, the pharmacist to finish her calculations, the cab to take you home), your mind wanders. You think about why your child keeps falling sick. Much much more than regular kids. You wonder if there will suddenly come a turning point after which she will stop having to go to the hospital, and if so, how far away that point is. You think about whether you'd EVER be able to go back to a full time job, an office, colleagues, lunch with team mates, and what not. You wonder why her immunity is so low and where the benefits of breast milk went. Were the 16 painful months of pumping breast milk worth it? (In case new readers are wondering, I couldn't nurse her directly as she was taken to the NICU immediately upon birth and spent the first two months of her life there, drinking pumped breast milk through a tube). And then I tell myself, yes, it was worth it. Without it, her immunity could have been even lower. Now when she gets sick, she fights hard. I see it. Maybe she wouldn't have been able to, if I had given up on the breast milk. Maybe she will get stronger eventually. Once she starts eating. And this will pass. Until then, we just gotta be prepared for whatever else is in that bag of illnesses and shrug and say, "Bring it on, yo."

Someone once told me that I wrote too many fun and happy things about her on the blog and on Facebook. That if I stopped blogging and Facebooking about her, she wouldn't fall sick anymore. The whole 'nazar' theory. Evil eye and all that. Well, guess what? Tried that too. Just to see. And she still fell sick. So of course, I am back to blogging and Facebooking about her antics. The happy moments that intermittently but regularly happen between the spells of sickness. I am not going to stop living and sharing these moments.

Much as I try to be positive, motherhood has not been an easy journey so far. And I am not going to hold back on expressing my thoughts, and especially documenting and sharing the fun things related to her growing up. Because every now and then, I go back to read all that and remind myself all over again how these moments of togetherness and happiness far outweigh all the stress, pain and exhaustion that come with being Xena's mommy.