Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Same thing, Different Rules: Mommy Confession

She is 6, and I am well a little over my late twenties(Wink Wink!). But, I am realizing I have different rules for her and for me for the same thing. 
And since she does not know what a blog is, or this space, I will confess. Because I can.

1. Ice Cream: We were on Foster Beach this weekend with some amazing friends walking, laughing, giggling and enjoying the breeze. An ice cream truck comes by. 4 ice creams/ popsicles bought with no second thought. The same truck that my older one pleads to for us to get her an ice cream and we tell her no- Not good water/ milk. Then we take her to the gelato place near our house and get her the ice-cream.
It's not about the ice cream but where she is getting it from. But somehow I feel she would have enjoyed the one from the truck way more. Instant gratification. Same thing, different rules.

2. Bread Crust: I love bread in all forms, shapes and sizes. No discrimination here. My morning breakfast comprises of toast mostly all days. But I-Dont-Like-The-Crust. V, my 6 year old has seen me remove the crust every single day. She asks for the same thing, 'Please remove the crust'. And more often than not, I comply. I understand. But then there are times, when I am like, just eat the crust, its so soft, its so crunchy, its so.. More out of my laziness than anything else. You get the idea Same thing, different rules.

3. Laundry: Like most, when I come home, I need to change out of work war-wear to simple PJ's. And its been a long day, I 'sometimes' leave the clothes on the floor/ bed/ bathroom. And mostly by end of day, its in the basket. Mostly is the word I am stressing on. When my 6 year old comes home from school and changes into her favorite shorts and T-shirts, her school gear is on the floor. Every Day. I nag, I plead, I threaten and then with heavy feet she will 'sometimes' throw them in the laundry basket 2 steps away. But still, I ignore her 'long' day and well make her put the clothes in the laundry basket.
 And the one that is a conversation EVERY single day when she asks : "why do I need to sleep so early?'

4. Sleep time: Hers is 7:30 pm and mine should be 10:00 pm. Ideally. Realistically she is in bed at 7:30 and then sleeps by 8ish. For me, I am in bed by 11ish and sleep by 'have no clue' She says: I am trying, closing my eyes and trying really hard. And she does. Me however, Lie down, see something on i-whatever, read something, see something, read something, yawn, water, snooze and then after tossing and turning sleep. She makes and effort and I don’t 'really' make the effort.

And it's natural. I get that; I can justify both our behaviors.  I can lecture on 'good habits start early', 'practice restraint' but then it contradicts with 'be happy', 'go with the flow'.
You need to let them be kids. But maybe not too much 'kid'
 Urgh, bottom line. Same thing, different rules. We both, the 6 year old and me, a little over my late twenties should follow along the same rules. But we don’t.

Why? Since you see, I am a little over my late twenties and well, she is 6.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A memorable vacation.. for us.

While the kids are enjoying themselves with Grandparents, Mama, Maami, I was left sulking and whining. On any given day you are bone tired by 8 pm, but at 9pm, when you peek in their bedrooms and see them snoozing, its rejuvenating. Kids do that! It's refreshing, makes you count your blessings and yes, get ready for next day at Casa De Chaos.
I digress, Sumit sensed me being home was too painful without the kids, so last minute, we headed to Toronto, Niagara On the Lake and Niagara Falls. 3.5 days of complete bliss, relaxation and well moments when you wish the kids were just with you to snuggle with. And you can't say no when a vacation starts with this!

We booked our hotels an hour before we took on the long drive from Chicago to Toronto. The 8 hours drive became 11.5 hours thanks for July 4th rush. But our drive was beautiful, we chatted, listened to 'our' music, caught up, reminisced and just unwound.
Next day after a scrumptious Indian meal in Brampton, Canada (Come on, you can’t go to Canada and not eat delicious spicy Indian food!).

We headed to Toronto to our fabulous hotel- Shangri-La. What a treat! Sumit had called prior, we entered an upgraded room with a box of chocolates and cake. Just perfect and yes sooo romantic.

This was my first time in Toronto, and I wanted to visit the city, but the room and the hotel was so luxurious, I didn’t want to head out.
After much cajoling, we headed to the Distillery District. It was like time stood still, we lazed out in art galleries admiring very interesting pieces. I participated in a small salsa lesson. Was so much fun, under the Toronto sun. (Poetic, eh?)
We held hands, walked and before the sight of any kids laughing would pinch my heart, Sumit would point to the next interesting art work. With the World Cup scores in background we cheered, shouted and well laughed. A Lot. It reminds me of the countless hours we have spent in the Italian Piazza's- Town Squares!
Tired, we then headed to the 'Dunda's Street' time square. We caught the end of an amazing victory of Brazil. Walked around a little more and with exhausted feet headed back to the hotel. The plan was rest, freshen up and head to the lively night life of the city. Come on, no kids, there is no reason to be indoors at 8pm!
But, a detour to the hotel Jacuzzi, pool and Sauna followed. I have no idea where the 3 hours went by. The cabanas were so inviting after the swim, I read that book I have on my night stand since 2 months. Smile. I think time stood still.
We returned and swore we will be out in 10 minutes. And then I said the famous last words, ‘Let me lie down for 5 minutes” The next I remember was waking up, stumbling across the room to see the time as: 11:15 am. Yes, next morning.
Aaaa! So much so for not calling it  a day at 8 pm! It was such a nice feeling to wake up that late, that refreshed and that hungry.
We then enjoyed the sights and scenes of the lively China Town. Eating lychee and drinking sugarcane juice in the heat was perfect. We then walked some more and headed to the harbor front and spend the next few hours looking at the water, the planes, the cyclers at the AmsterDam Brewery! The wood fire pizza was so delicious, the service impeccable and the ambience, pure bliss.

Time to head to the Falls. We made a quick detour to the Niagara-On-The-Lakes. Such a charming town, walking in the lazy town, having ice cream and enjoying Crepes. I think this was the town my kids would have gone crazy in! In a good way, there was an ice cream shop every 10 steps. I kid you not.
The Niagara Falls are breathtaking as always. Our room overlooked the falls, and with the view, you could gaze out for hours. Which I did while Sumit tried his luck at the casino!
We walked and talked on the Falls Ave Strip, enjoyed the liveliness in contrast to the relaxed walks in Distillery.
Next morning, we swore, we will wake up when we wake up. A 11:15 am call woke us up from the slumber. After a heavy meal, we headed to the 'Horn Blower' The Maid of the Mist. It’s my third time at the Falls and I think I will do this Every-Single-Time! It was enjoying the spray of the water, catching the rainbows and just taking it all in!

With heavy hearts and relaxed bones we drove back to Chicago. I think the getaway did us good. The best part, I know the next road trip to do when the kids get back from the Grand Parents.

Note: Picture's are property, please don't use without permission

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Self-Exile of a different kind

With our Costa Rica trip in early April, like all holidays/ vacations, I happily signed myself out of Facebook, unchecked notifications on my emails and basically 'unplugged'
 If you have not noticed yet, I am still in Pura Vida mode, so relaxed and comfortable.
So on my return from Costa Rica, I decided to stay logged out of Facebook. Meaning, no access from phone/ laptop/ I-devices. You get the idea. No facebook for a month.
(I cheated twice: Once to check message's for a friends postal address and once to message a friend my postal address).
Besides that, I have no idea what's happening on Facebook.

On the contrary, I have a very good idea on what's happening with my friends.
Life is still going on, with a little bit more time on my hands. I have read a bit more- one and a half books, three magazines. As you can see, I have blogged more.
And long behold: I have actually called friends and chatted about what's going on in their lives as against understanding from their facebook status.
I am lazy on phones, by the time the day is over (Read: Kids in bed, errands finished), I am done! Any energy left is well spent on catching up on Game of Throne's episodes.
So me calling, has been really good-for me at least.
Of course, I stumped my friend recently, she was like, didn’t you know about abc, I posted on FB. I was like, I actually didn’t. And then we laughed and I got 'updates' in real life.
So this 30 day-self exile actually worked.
I am thinking, may be I do want to continue this self-exile. Trust me, its tempting to log in and post this blog there. But going on FB to blog about not being on FB, hmm, not so much.
My realization: It is not all about 'being in'. As of now, I am not feeling left out. I am sure there are countless pictures/ posts/ status that I would have 'liked/ commented' But you know what, I like this quietness.
So may be, until the urge of an addict comes back, self-exile to continue.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Munch Bunch: Ethiopian: Lentil Sambusa

Another month, another much bunch, another wonderful gathering of foodies to attempt, relish and then cherish
Theme: Ethiopian
I was introduced to Ethiopian food by a colleague then and now a dear friend about 8-9 years ago. She slaved in the kitchen for my roommate and me and made delicious vegetarian food and served coffee the true 'Ethiopian' style. Of course she being Ethiopian made our experience as authentic as possible.
Since that memorable sunny afternoon in LA, I have generally tried Ethiopian food every city I visit in the US. It has become one of those once a quarter cravings, got to go for Ethiopian.
In the last few years, Ethiopia has become a more personal country for me with family connections, stories and fond memories. So Ethiopia means more to me than the Injera and the Coffee. With that as a start, this theme was super special for me. It's one cuisine I love to eat and was so happy to attempt it.
Appetizer: Lentil Sambussa
           Collard Greens
Main Course: Red Misser Wat
             Chicken Doro Wat
Dessert:  Red velvet cake, nothing Ethiopian about it, but a friends birthday celebrations were so worth it!
Drinks: Fresh Ethiopian coffee, freshly roasted and ground and brewed.
Yup, that's how we roll.

I chose to make the appetizer: Lentil Sambusa: Two types, Beluga lentil and Puy lentil
1.5 cups Beluga lentil soaked over night (Available at Mariano's / Whole food)
1.5 cups Puy lentils (Stocked at regular grocery stores)
Jalapeno: 4 finely diced
Onion: 1 finely diced
Garlic: 3 cloves finely diced
Cilantro: 1 cup finely chopped
Cardamom Seeds: Crushed coarsely 1 tsp
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Salt: Per taste
Black Pepper: 1 tsp
For Frying:
Spring Roll Sheets: About 10 (Stocked at regular grocery stores)
Vegetable oil for frying

It is the same process for each type of lentil, so I will explain with the beluga lentil. Repeat for Puy lentil
1. Soak the lentils overnight.
2. Boil the lentils next morning until tender: About 20 minutes
3. Heat Olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, jalapeno until translucent, about 5 minutes
4. Add spices, sauté: 2 minutes
5. Add the boiled and drained lentil and cook for about 10 minutes gently moving the mix
6. The beluga lentil is very soft, so be gentle
7. Taste and adjust seasoning.
8. Take off stove and let it cool. Add cilantro leaves
9. And now the joys: There is no way I can do justice to explain how to make sambusa: So here is a You tube video of how to 'prepare samosa' and use this as a guideline for wrapping and frying.
Of course using the spring roll sheets is so much easier and quicker

Just FYI- To fry both types of Sambusa's (Total 30), I took about an hour, so start some music and go for it!
Though we didn’t have complete attendance, it was a really fun gathering and a very interesting style of cooking. Just a couple of spices and an abundance of aroma's and flavors. I will definitely try my hand at a few more Ethiopian Dishes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mother of two girls... and?

----------------------------------------- In the beginning---------------------------------------------------
Garima: A mother
People: Wow, congratulations, must be busy and hard.
In my mind: No, its easy, well I don’t know any better, this is what it's supposed to be I guess!

Garima: A mother of one girl
People: Girls are so precious. Am sure she will give you sleepless nights when she gets to her teens
 In my mind: Uh, why? My brother and I both must have given a lot of sleepless nights in our teens. But yes I agree, Kids are precious and my Little V more so for me
----------------------------------------- A few years later---------------------------------------------------
Garima: A mother of two girls
People: Wait what? Wow.
Generally look at Sumit and say: Time to get the second job and bulk up. You need the muscles to ward off boys.
Generally look at Garima and say: Time for the boy, may be third time's the charm!!

In my mind: What!!
My two girls are perfect. When we planned for our second, it was since it felt right for our family(and of course increase chaos), we didn’t even find out what gender the baby will be- goes to show, we didn’t care: Boy or Girl! So yeah.
Please, my kids are perfect to me and family is complete. If we do have a third kid and if that kids a boy, great and if that kids a girl: even better, I have a load of hand me downs already.
Kids are expensive, yes we know that. Trust me! But that does not mean my darling husband needs a second job, trust me we thought it through before we went down this path of parenthood. And bulk up?? Seriously?
I don’t think my dad was peeling boys away from me when I was in my teens. Bulk or no bulk, I was just fine and so was my dad. And I think my girls and Sumit will be fine as well.

Now gist: Phew!
It's a natural thing to ask: Two kids, boys or girls?
And then I would assume it's a natural thing to say: Good for you, can I see pictures? Let me know when I can meet them?
And if you ask, drop them off and head out to the movies..... We LOVE it!
And then move on to the next topic.

Why does us having two girls give us collective gasps or even hearing double trouble! Seriously?
 We live in 21st century right? Let me check the date again! Yes we do. So please Butt Out

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pura Vida

There is no other way to describe it. I have been mulling on my keypad at how to start this post, but Bliss, Stress Free, Relaxed, Perfect, none of them apply. Pura Vida. Meaning  Pure Life.
That sums up our family trip to Costa Rica. This was one of those 'impromptu' plans, well sort of! Over facetime we spoke to cousins and were like, oh wow the girls have spring break together! What are the chances. I followed by, oh you guys are thinking of Costa Rica? Why Not?
Done Sealed. Two days later 6+1 infant plane tickets bought.
The relaxed nature of this planning also resulted in the relaxed nature of our trip. A friend of mine had a detailed post on her trip, another friend had made a trip a month ago. Done. So that was our starting point.
Costa Rica is one trip which needs detailed blogs per me. So, I am hoping to split this post into our highlights.
Here are our broad itinerary of the trip
Total : 10 days
Nuevo Arenal: 1 night
Arenal: 3 nights
Monte Verde: 2 nights
Guancaste: 3 nights
South Beach Miami: 1 night

We landed in Liberia and it was HOT as hell. 97 F hell. Coming from 25F of Chicago, this was a shock, a pleasant shock. Within 30 minutes of us landing we were in shorts, flip flops, hats, sun glasses. I was annoyed at myself for asking for AC after the Chicago Winter, but two sweaty kids and a cranky me= recipe for disaster.
After car rental, I heard a growl and realised its my stomach. We drove to a wonderful Tiki joint en route and had the local food: Casado
My daughter was amazed at my Spanish: No Huevo and No Carne! But the result was a super helpful cook who stopped by our table, understood our food preference and got the first delicious meal on the table.
I knew then, this will be one delicious trip!
The people in Costa Rica are just wonderful, smiling, helpful, kind and above all always willing to adjust and make you comfortable. This trip, we did the non-resorty experience. We wanted to get the cultural experience have the girls see local life, places and understand the subtle true living of other countries.
And trust me, thats what Pura Vida is all about..

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Break-Up

Stage 1: Shock
Stage 2: Hurt
Stage 3: Betrayal
Stage 4: Anger
Stage 5: Moving On
Stage 6: Happiness
Stage 7: Closure

When you are in college, you go through these stages with crushes, likes and the opposite sex in general. Sometimes you skip stages, sometimes you stay and mull in one for longer. But as age progresses, you think you get calmer, more refined to navigate the above stages. You know what is happening.
But sadly, no matter what the break up is- all stages apply!
I had a recent break up. Before the rumor mills start- It was with my nanny.
Stage 1: SHOCK: 'What you are leaving me?' I didnt see any signs, why? What am I going to do, No way? There is no notice.
Stage 2: HURT I have been blind. Of all people, you?  We have been together for so long, why so sudden? Ouch, what will I do?
Stage 3: BETRAYAL:  I never expected this. After all I did for you and your family. I touched you when NO ONE was. I trusted you, helped settle you, your family. Loaned you money, time and drove you around.  and you did this! No notice.
Stage 4: ANGER:  You dumped me, no I DUMP YOU. You are not worth it. Your 'type' will stay your type. ALWAYS. No matter how considerate I have been, you did this.

Stage 5: Moving On:  Hmm, What is, will be. It's fine. I still have me and my family. I put up with your SHIT for way too long. I should have let you go a long time ago. I am better off now. I am sure
Stage 6: HAPPINESS : Wow, its like a weight lifted off me. This feels awesome. Everything is perfect, I survived, got smarter and above all happier. There is more laughter and more fun and more cleanliness for sure. Why didnt I think of this before
Stage 7: CLOSURE: Oh man, I am awesome. My family is awesome. This is like a well-oiled machine and you had just slowed us down. I love the freedom and the laughter and the cleanliness. Good Bye. Thanks for nothing. Good Bye
Oh My god, I love this!
So yes, my nanny on the eve of my birthday 'dumped' me VERY unprofessionally. She didnt honor the one month notice period we had agreed on. She was not even going to tell me she is quitting. I guess being a girl, my 6th sense is super active and I asked her thrice and then she was forced to confess.
So it always has to be the perfect storm: Nanny dumps you. Husband is travelling, you are swamped with work, one of the kids is not well.
And then I realized you know what. Its all fine. Not fine-fine. But fine. And will only get better.
With my recent break-up I went through all the standard stages in 1 and a half days. Flat. And I have been happy since. Kids are laughing more, walking more, being more independent. At the same time, Sumit and I are more relaxed and laugh about those things that nanny didnt do. We did honestly put up with her for longer than we should have. No one likes change, and we didn’t either. Without this nanny, Its actually nice. And this time the real NICE NICE!
But yes, I am back in the market for a new one- I new more professional, more stable and definitely more active nanny. Suggestions??