Thursday, November 27, 2014

Momma's little Helper

Megha loves helping me (and Anand) since the time she turned one. The most interesting part is, the learning that happens when she is ‘playing’ this way. I have told enough number of times how she sits on the kitchen counter and watchs me cook. These days we took one step forward and I give her a measuring cup and guide her how much flour we need and she measures it before dispensing it in the bowl. Last weekend we made pancakes and she was just so awesome. Apart from mixing the batter just perfectly, she poured pan cakes with a ladle into the griddle (with close supervision of course) and with some help, she also flipped over the pancakes for it to cook on the other side!
The best part of all, since she made these pancakes, she ate all 2 of them! That never happened before.

Here is the recipe, a simple traditional one. I always follow this:

We also made brownies. She mixed all the dry ingredients. I didn’t even have to do anything! I love these weekend mornings when we hang out in the kitchen. It not only gives us the freedom to do things at our own pace, it also helps us to learn more about food, bond with each other and celebrate the success of the outcome (though we dont fret if something doesnt come out the way we had planned). Warm home, the love, laughter, the clatter of the ladles, the aromas of the still-baking-cake (any food) in the oven and the comforting thought that in the end there will be food to eat is something every child on this earth should be entitled for.

So, it’s only fitting that she has an apron of her own. Here she is in her new apron!

Here she is helping me pick mint leaves off the stalks. When she is doing that, we went through the colors, numbers (we counted leaves), tasted the mint leaf, smelled it and declared that we love mint.

When learning is made fun, it is accepted and understood much more easily. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Potty Training: Done!

Megha reached a BIG milestone today. No accidents at all when it came to pee and poo today! Its official! Megha is now potty trained!

We had started potty training her a while ago, though it was only a passive attempt. Its only during the last 2 weekends that I committed to leaving Megha diaper free at home. I made sure the potty is where she can see, thats it. She went on Sunday 23rd Nov 2014 for the first time and today, Nov 26th, she is completely potty trained. After going poo in the potty, she got a special treat at the daycare, cookie!

At home, she gets stickers, she gets to blow a candle and small candy.

Here is her note from the daycare, all decorated!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Potty Training!

A very BIG day for us yesterday. For the first time yesterday Megha went pee pee in the toddler potty! YAY! I am so very happy and so very proud of my big girl. She never really went when i took her to the washroom or to the toddler potty from time to time. I just left her diaper free during weekends for the past 3 weekends, left the toddler potty where she can see it easily and voila! Yesterday she went all by herself! She pulled her pants down, went and sat there on the potty!

We jumped up and down, I gave her stickers and she got to blow candle twice. This evening too she went pee pee there again! I think she is very close to being trained completely. I feel so happy. I feel like throwing a big party for this. no kidding!

Here she is blowing a candle after going pee pee yesterday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

World of Colors

Can you imagine a world without color? I cannot! Megha had always been exposed to colors from early on. Sometimes it’s on the Crayola board, sometimes its on white paper with crayons and sometimes with water colors. Before, she used to randomly paint using her paint brush. She was not restricting herself to the outlines of a given picture.

Over the weekend, Megha and I sat down (with brownies baking the oven in the background!) to play with the water colors. She seemed very excited and asked me to draw the first one (and I did). Then she wanted to do the rest. While doing so, I gently told her to slow down to control the brush strokes so that each stroke lands within the given lines of the picture. Initially she wasn't keen on it and neither was I. The point was to have fun. But soon, she understood what I was saying and slowed down when using her paint brush. After drawing a few pictures, she got good at it! It’s a sign that my baby is growing up and can follow instructions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happiest when one with Nature

Megha had always been the happiest when she is outdoors, one among the nature. As much as I try to take her out, I am guilty of the fact that at times I curtail her time she wants to be outdoors. That happens more often when the cold weather starts to approach. Something happened and for some reason (I lost track), Megha and I seemed to be spending our days indoors more than outdoors. I am determined to change that going forward and go back to the olden days when we spent a lot of time outdoors. Chores do get in the way. I really need to make an effort (a better effort) to engage her in things where she can learn from looking at the nature and being one with it.

Of course during vacations, we are always outside.

So here are some things we did during this year where she had tons of fun. Here are 13 fun ways to learn things without spending a penny! All you need is an urge to just observe along with the child of yours.

1.       Snow Melts:
She learned that ice melts when it’s hot enough outside. She was awestruck and why not? This was early this year.
We had so much fun jumping up and down in the freezing water. Runny nose can wait until we get home to treat ourselves with something warm.

2.       Taking the little one’s help: Kids love to help and they love it when we involve them in our day to day activities. Its even more accomplishing when they learn as part of a fun process. Here is Megha helping me bake cupcakes. Here she learned that if she is not careful enough, the dough falls around the cupcake liners.

She also learned that cake batter really is delicious :) She licked her fingers and the bowl clean!

3.       The colors of Spring: Early spring is really the most beautiful time of the year. While its still a little cold outside, the real bite usually is gone and the parks and lawn soon display their bright yellow colored flowers (don’t know why they are called weeds) dandelions come out.
Here Megha wanted to collect the flowers. She soon realized that its not possible to pick all of them though; so she just played with a few :)

4.       Here the dad and daughter are keeping an eye out for the train. What a beautiful evening it was. I am yet to come across a little kid who is not fascinated by trains. Taking Megha close to the train only added to her joy. This track runs across a conservation park and so, we got a chance to observe a lot of nature here.

5.        When we went to strawberry picking, she had learned how to pick strawberries. She learned that they grow on small plants. She used to watch an episode of Special Agent Oso where he picks strawberries. She applied those principles here. She learned that ripe one’s came off easily.

6.       Somersaults/ Tumbles: While playing in the park, she looked at a school going kid do tumbles and she of course wanted to do them herself as well. She is really getting very good at it!

7.       Playing in the rain: There really is nothing more beautiful than listening to the rain drops fall on the window. And can you blame me when I don’t use an umbrella when its raining? Megha loves the rain too. Correction. Megha loves water. There is no stopping her from jumping into (how much ever freezing) the lakes! Its only mother in me who keeps thinking, “she may catch cold”. I know I know. Kids don’t catch cold unless they come in touch with cold virus.

8.       Making fire: Up north at our cottage, it always is a lot colder than in Milton/ Toronto. So, even in August, we at times light the fire. Here is our fire pit. Megha loves watching the fire and she just hanging out with us that evening. Now she knows fire keeps us warm but that we have to be careful around it.

9.       Picnics: I always loved picnics when I was a kid. I still love picnics. When we were little, we only used to go to picnics once every year or so. During those times, I had always wanted to go for more of those. After Megha was born, I wanted to take her to picnics as often as I can. But alas, if only I could whenever I can! At the cottage, we make it a point to be as active as we can. Recently we bought a little sit-out lunch table for Megha. She sits on it and has her lunch/snack. At times, we put a mat under the Christmas tree and hang out until the mosquitoes are too over whelming.

10.   Games: Megha absolutely loves it when Anand and I join her in her play. Especially at the cottage we say no to TV and spend as much time outdoors as we possibly can manage. Kicking or catching a ball is no small feat. It needs a lot of hand-eye coordination. I noticed she had improved remarkably in the way she kicks the ball or catches one. After spending so much energy playing outside, she eats and sleeps like a baby that she really is.

11.   Trusting her: Megha loves taking pictures on my phone. She is really getting good at taking pictures without shaking the phone! Had I refused to give her the phone, she would probably not have the joy of experiencing something which her momma does. Here is one of the selfie which she took.

12.   Be a farmer for a day: Take a trip to the nearby farm one of the days. It fills you with sights/smells/sounds of so much nature that the city/town you live in would feel like a different plannet altogether. While playing on the hay, we smelled the hay, touched it, ignored the people who give us looks, jumped up and down, let the wind ruffle our hair, learn about the protruding roots, feed the chickens, pick the pumpkins and weigh them and be 2 little happy children.

13.   Leaf-Raker: Rain, snow or Fall, we love it all! We truly do! When the leaves fall, we rake. Megha helped rake all the leaves from the front yard yesterday. She jumped on a few piles, scattered them and then helped me gather them again! Oh what fun to pick the different colored and sized leaves of the same tree! Fun part is to examine them and wonder at how one tree can actually produce so many colored leaves.

Being a wonder struck friend/ companion in Megha’s world has made me more complete. I have much to learn from Megha and her simple ways. She is far more enlightened than me, for, she knows to smile at things simple. We are to learn how to live life from kids and not the other way round. Kids know how to be happy; isnt that exactly what everyone of us is searching for? If only we truly can leave them as kids and not rush them into becoming adults (and fall into the trap which we adults already did). I often hear the words “grow up”. But I want to ask, “what after”? While it is important to guide kids away from danger, its equally important to just let kids be kids.

Incidentally, of all the things I did in the last one year, the highlights of those days are the days that I had spent with family (Megha, Anand and people from India). Not the work, not the 100’s of loads of laundry i did, not the disagreements which Anand and I may have had and not even the TV programs which I like. My highlights are truly the one’s that had spent outdoors with Megha and the couple of movies which Anand I had managed to go to in the last one year. Then why don’t I make more of an effort to have more of these rich days? It’s a question I had asked myself and it’s a question which I strive to answer in the coming months.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goa trip (Sept 2014)

When we went to India this time, we wanted to travel a bit. I had always wanted to go to Goa and it being Anand’s birth place, it only seemed right that we go there together with the family.
Unfortunately, I was told it’s not possible to visit Naval base where Anand was born.

After our Chennai visit, we left for Goa from Bangalore. My parents joined us there. We rented a guest house (Gabrielle), walking distance from Calangute beach. The guest house was awful. From the get go, we started off on a wrong note there but whatever. That didn’t stop us from having fun.

After a quick change of clothes, we all went out to see the area. We had lunch in a small hotel nearby, traditional Goan dishes. Megha had a blast playing around there. There was a little aquarium there and she really did have fun.

Food in Goa: One of my favorite parts of this little vacation was the food in Goa. It’s simply awesome. All the restaurants we had been to were serving Thalis consisting of traditional Goan dishes (mainly seafood and chicken). The dry fish fry is made with rava; this was the first time I ever tasted a fish fry with rava coating.
The curries include Xacuti. It came in Chicken, mutton fish (all kinds) and prawns. Another popular seafood dish was crabs which we all enjoyed. We had a little trouble finding something Megha really liked. She stuck to dal tadka with rice throughout the trip.
For dessert, we bought Bibinca, recommended by my brother Dimpu; we even bought some boxes of Bibinca to Canada to give to colleagues! Overall, for food, I am giving 4 out of 5 to Goa!

Things we did:
Of course we hit the beach whenever we could. The beach was just 2 minutes away from the guest house. We changed our guest house 2 days before leaving to another guest house. We should have done this a very long time on day 1. We absolutely loved this new place. It was friendly, clean and more importantly it had hot water 24 hours a day without us putting up a fight every day for it.
St. Xavier’s Church:
The day after we landed in Goa, we went to St. Xavier’s church. The church was beautiful! It was ancient and everything around it seemed wonderful.

Inside was the body of St. Xavier. You can read more about him Here.

We played for a bit outside and Megha really enjoyed playing with the stacked leaves. Here is us posing in front of the church.

Opposite to the church was the Museum. We could not make it to the Museum but it sure did look inviting from the outside. Perhaps next time.

Fort Aguda:
Following the Church (or was is before the church?), we went to the Fort Aguda. It’s a 17th century Portuguese fort constructed to guard against the Dutch and the Maratha’s. Back in those days, it had a fresh water spring and often, ships would stop by to replenish water. The light house does…what it’s supposed to do.

This fort overlooks Arabian sea.

Megha became a mini-celebrity there with her active walks and talks. A few wanted to take pictures with her :)

The fort itself was big and we had fun walking around its border.

Following the fort, we went to Baga beach. Some pictures from there.

The next day, we kind of relaxed at the guest house itself to recoup from the all day trip. We would wake up late in the morning, have breakfast and go to the beach. We built sand castles and we played to our hearts content.

We also collected a few sea shells. My mom also collected a lot of sea shells with which we made a beautiful art after coming home in Canada (pic later).

Santa Cruz: One of the evenings we were relaxing, we went to the dancing cruise. It was amazing to say the least. Megha was the star of the evening and she was dancing like there is no tomorrow. She looked absolutely amazing. At some points, she refused to come down from the dance floor.
When I "forced" Anand; he danced for all of 3 seconds.

Dona Paula:
Following day we went to Dona Paula. It’s probably better if I refer to an article about Dona Paula instead of me attempting to write something on my own. Here:

Here is a picture taken from there.

It had incredible views from up top. It was way too hot though; we couldnt really spend a lot of time here.

Sahakari Spice Farm: This was one of the best spots in Goa. The spice farm was a secluded part a little away from Panjim city. The farm itself is small but it was so rich with information.

Here is the entrance to the bridge. It was starting to rain by then but it still was beautiful. I was told that in the peak monsoon season, the river would be filled with water. More on spice farm here:
After yum lunch, we went out for a little tour around the farm where we were explained the kind of spices and their uses. It sure was a beautiful farm.
Megha enjoyed looking at the nature around her while having her lunch.

 We also had so much fun looking and playing with the elephants there.

What I noticed about Goa is that, a secluded spot filled with nature would just be a stone-throw away, no matter which part of Panjim you are in. It’s a lot more than any other city can boast of.
We can observe the nature without disturbing it, yet, being one with it. Luckily for us, Anand had the foresight to book the guest house a little away from the city. So, it was not really crowded with too many tourists at any given point

Arvelam Falls: There is so much more to write about Goa. We also went to a temple close to water falls by name Arvelam Falls.

 It was so beautiful.

It was surrounded by lush green small canyons. As the water flows, it isnt too deep. Here is megha right in the middle of the falls! The girl really knows no fear of water! Which is just great :)

Here she is, lost in the moment....something about water and the temples by water. If only we had more time, we could have spent the whole day here. My mom also shared a wonderful story about my grand-ma when she was sick and how they had spent a few weeks by river side to get her better.

Arvelam Caves:
The Arvalem caves, also known as 'Pandavas Caves,' are ancient rock cut caves dating back to the 5th-6th century. These are excavated into the laterite hill and consist of two major chambers. The cave complex draws tourists and archeologists alike.

I absolutely loved Goa and would like to go back again. Goa really is a wonderful state. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Drive through the Fall 2014

As is our annual tradition, this year too we three took a drive around the town to see the fall colors.

Here is what we did when Megha was still in-utero: Fall 2011
Anand could not join us or I dont know if I had actually put those pics up: Fall 2012
2013: We certainly did go for the drive! Cant find the post! Sorry!

And here is what we did last weekend. A beautiful drive around the town. I love Milton! We were just thinking, next time perhaps my parents can join us.

Most pic are taken around Escarpment area: As you can see, it wasnt possible to get her to smile :)
Mom and Megha: M&M
View of the town from above: I LOVE her hair! Her hair comes after my sister in law i think. She also has very curly hair.