Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A newly created Milestone

I have older kids, well 4 and 9, and I since I am off the diaper duty, I call them 'older' kids... but they are teeny tiny in my mind.
But as they are getting 'older and wiser' there are lesser and lesser milestones that I track or remember to track. No more first steps, first words, first solids, first steps...

There are no key milestones with these kids, just good and onward and upward development.
I know that's how it should be and it is, but it makes me a little sad every now and then. They are still my babies.

So today, I 'create' a new milestone for 'Tween' (my 9 year wise girl) and my 'Pre-schooler' (The 4 year old Chatterbox)

Tween, Miss V: First sleep away trip from school!
Pre-schooler, Miss S: First night not sleeping in the same room with her older sister!

The morning of the trip.....  
Miss V, was up and packed 3 days prior to the trip, she wakes up at 5 am, makes her own milk and is ready at 5:45 to leave. We don't have to be in school before 8 am, that's how excited she was!

Miss S, the little sister shadows the older one, gives her extra hugs, steals older sister's bear for the night (since no one to fight with) and is just holding her older sister's hand throughout the early morning!

The morning of the trip.... me an my thoughts! 

I know the trip is only 3 days, 2 nights long. But its freaking long in my mind. She is off to a camp which is open pre-season for just their school. She is with her wonderful friends and her super involved and caring teachers. It's super safe and even more protected than I can imagine. 
Her school has gone above and beyond to ensure kids are looked after and parents are comforted. But still, this is a big milestone! 

It's a school trip which encourages her to be more independent, explore the nature, hike the wilderness, mount and do the horse riding, play unlimited soccer, Grill smore's by the camp fires!

But here I am on the other side of the white bus waving good bye with a brave grin showing her how trully Happy I am for her!
And then I sit in the car and breathe, That's my baby hitting another milestone...


She is ready, I am not!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 2: Philippines: Oslob & Kawasan Falls

Before we had booked Philippines, one thing that was a MUST DO for me was the swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob.

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE.

Yes, the day was super long, we started at 5 am and ended at 9 pm, but booking a private tour, having a 10 seater van after a jet lagged flight was totally worth it, since when not doing the activity, we pretty much slept in the big van.

Note: Booking tours in Philippines is a big plus, they have really good cars, all in one package including pick up, stopping for food, activity, suggestions for local stuff and then they drop you back. It's quiet brainless during the day for you then and you are never worried about safety if you have pre-booked using a good company. I used Cebu tours for Oslob-Tumalog-Kawasan falls and they were really nice.

Now, we were driven to Oslob and the day started out with torrential rainfall. i was definitely nervous, but the tour guide/ driver mentioned to us, we will be fine So kids packed up and we headed out!
The drive was gorgeous, but taking the 18 hour flight the day before, we were all knocked out and slept until we stopped a a cute cafe outside Oslob.... we could see 15-20 boats in the water and lots of tourists.

But we started at the cafe with a local's breakfast of sticky rice and mango. yes, Mango, you can imagine our utter happiness. After breakfast and changing into our swim gear we headed to the Whale Watching tour area. Now, reminder: No sun-block allowed since the chemicals harm the whale.

Here booking with a tour company really helped since they had secured our permits and after our orientation of the 'what to do with the whale shark' tour we were loaded on the boats for a 30 minute 'swimming with the whale shark'

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!

The whale Shark are peaceful and so massive. My older daughter V jumped in the water with us, but was nervous and stayed closer to the boat. The little one S stayed in the boat and awed the Whale Shark. I was half prepared for a 'crying session' with the little one, but she was super strong and stayed on the boat being our whale shark spotter.


Sumit and I swam or rather 'shivered' with these gorgeous creatures. We really tried to toughen up and get a picture with the whale shark, but were partially successful. This is definitely a recommended trip.

After the Whale Shark and the oohing and aahing,we headed to Tumalog falls, where more than the falls, i had fun on the bike ride to the falls and then the 'natural fish spa' eeeew, we all sat in the water, the fishes come to feed on the dead skin and eeeew, I could not do it for a long time, of course the older monster loved the 'spa' and Sumit was pretending to love it to.

These Tumalog falls are nothing to write home about, but just since the water was so shallow and th mist was worth it with the kids. We returned back to our cafe and Miss Ruth, the tour guide to enjoy a Vegetarian Lunch. These were by the far the best noodles I have had. So simple and so earthy and so delicious, These lemons, were tiny, juicy and tangy!!

A little more relaxation and then we bid farewell to Ms. Ruth and headed to Kawasan falls. Again the drive though gorgeous, our jet lagged bodies forced us to deep slumber. By the time we reached Kawasan falls, it was pouring down really hard.

But we braved it out and hiked a mile to reach the Kawasan Falls. Complete disclosure, I added this to  our custom tour, one can do Oslob and return back, but I really wanted to explore these much spoken about falls.
The highlight here (minus the rain) was the clear water and the raft ride which takes you below the falls. After much waiting and getting wetter in the rains, the three of us went on the massive raft and were 'water massaged' on it. The little one decided to stay on shore and watch us. Good call. The pressure of the water is crazy hard and though it was amazing fun, it would not have been worth it.

We hiked back and enjoyed some coconut water. And then drive back to Cebu was loong. I think about 6 hours. We were all knocked out solid. By the time we reached the hotel, we were exhausted and tired and happy to see our friends.

We freshened up and met our friends for dinner and some more cake and conversations which are never ending.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The drive back home

As parents, our weekday life is pretty routine to be honest, morning routine, dropping the kids to school, work, picking the kids, shuttling them to classes, park/ summer fun, dinner, bedtime. Simple and routine and I like the predictably, I like the simplicity of it.

But in all this routine, the kids are super busy and honestly as a parent, I am generally pre-occupied, be it for work or whats for dinner or even my phone.

The one time, that I am focused and ensuring I hear the kids is when it's just the kids and me is the drives and of course dinner time. The radio/ music is generally on low volume in the car ride and we chat, they talk and I listen. 

In the mornings, its generally a readiness for the day and hugs and kisses, but the evening is when the girls are chatty, they talk about their day at school, what they ate, whom they played with, what they didn't like and what was so awesome about their day.

And that's my best uninterrupted listening ears to them. I try to listen on all these conversations since without the girls knowing, they shed a light into their minds.

Its about them and what bothered them when someone didn't play with them. Or how they felt when a friend stumbled in the park. This is that one conversation which makes me realize every single day that these girls are being their own person. They are not just telling me how their day was, but telling me what moves them, what bothers them what excites them.

And as much as I think I know my kids, this one conversation is an eye opener every single day and i learn something new about them.


What's your best 'uninterrupted listening ears' time with your kids?



Monday, May 1, 2017

Day 1: Flight into Cebu and relaxing in Mactan

Day 1:
Our flight into Cebu was via Taipei and of course flying on my Birthday Day, going east means, I lose a day since I cross a date line, my Birthday was less than 12 hours long. And that was not fun. 



But my kids and friends and hubby made up for more than that.... they sang Happy Birthday whenever, I got flowers, cake and more cake and lots of hugs, so in effect it did become a 10 day birthday celebration! So no complaining.


After reaching Cebu, we reached the hotel to be greeted with their delicious fresh fruit juices as welcome drinks and our friends and extended long hugs. For the Cebu portion of our travels, our friends, their cute 15 month old munchkin had flown in from HK to have a combined vacation and catch up. It was really awesome to see them and be able to coordinate our chutti together.

We started with pigging out on food, after a 20 hour flight getting daal tadka with palak paneer in the most unexpected place was awesome. The one thing we were warned about Philippines was its not vegetarian friendly, I disagree, the pounds I packed in my trip also disagree with you.

Anyhow, after pigging out on food and see the 15 month toddle around, we headed straight to the beach for some sun, sand, snorkel and sand castles. Then the pool and then our friends had renter a private villa with a private pool. So heading into their pool with some 'desi music' and kids going crazy swimming, life is good. It was the perfect start to the vacation.


By the time dinner time came, kids were zonked out and before the meal was served. I think it was more helpful for having them sleep then eat, so they slept, we ate and caught up with our friends and of course there was cake!!!!

We crashed early tonight… well midnight is early when you are with friends, since we had the next morning of our much awaited trip to Oslob, for swimming with whale sharks!


More to come!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ziggi Ziggi

Ziggi Ziggi

Meaning Ok Ok... and that was not the only word we learned in our ten day trip to Phenomenal Philippines.
The trip was wayyy more that Ziggi Ziggi, it was simply astounding!


Philippine’s is a cluster of 7500 plus islands, breathtaking natural beauty and really simple and happy people. We are left mesmerized and would love to go back and explore more of the islands some day!
We visited two main islands: Cebu and Palawan. Our itinerary is shared below with more details to follow soon

Part 1: Cebu
Day 1     Reach Cebu @ 10 am, Meet friends, beach, pool, private pool and luxurious dinners
Day 2     Full day trip to Oslob and Kawasan falls: Swimming with the Whale Sharks yay!
Day 3     Rainy days, but a stay at the plush resort with friends: Pool time, chill time, Catch Up time!
Day 4     A morning flight to Palawan and a long 7 hour drive to El Nido : Looong travel day

Part 2: El Nido/ Palawan
Day 5     El Nido: Tour A: Caldao Tours : The lagoons, the day at the sea and the lovely Asian hospitality
Day 6     El Nido: Tour C: The beaches, the boat and the sun and breathtaking views and snorkling
Day 7     Early am drive back to Palawan via the Underground Caves @ Sabang: A Natural wonder of the world along with a zip line with the kids… the longest zipline over the ocean!
Day 8     Stay at the resort with Sandbar, boat rides, water slides and a local dinner, a relaxing and pampering day
Day 9     A few more water slides and then fly back to Cebu for more beach/ water and local candy shopping
Day 10   11 am: fly back to Chicago and day dreaming of the beach!
Day 11  Settle back to reality and relive the fun of the trip


This trip was dotted with a combination of really action packed days, some long travels, some really chillaxed days and meeting our dear friends after 5 years!!! Yes we did all this in only 10 days and we all wished it was longer. Philippine’s though really far from Chicago was totally worth it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Before the trip, an update on 'Getting Fit'

Spring Break is here! Yay, well let me restate, spring break for my 9 and 4 year old is here, yay and instead of maniacally looking for child care and classes, we are using the time wisely and heading to the beach.

So before start our beach bumming and lazing around on the soft sand under a gentle sea breeze and the sun making us relaxed, here is an update on the wonderful buddying up and Getting Fitter business.

My buddies are ‘at it’ along with me; we are sharingdelicious yet healthier variations of recipes, tracking our meals in My Fitness pal and above all are nudging each other to push a little harder in the gym. And the support helps, it really does!
We are just nudging and not nagging and my husband, Sumit will be quick to remind me that I am on the 'edge between nudging and nagging' so back off! :-)
Trust me when I say this: NOT A SINGLE POUND LOST- in 65 days of continuous logging in my meals painstakingly in Fitness Pal and 45 days of waking up at idiotic 5:30 am on weekdays for my gym class, NOT A SINGLE POUND LOST!


BUT, and this But is important: I am feeling so much healthier, I can hold a plank for 41 seconds instead of three seconds, I can do 14 continuous push-ups instead of zero and above all, I can carry 2-2 gallons of milk on my 4th floor walkup unit without crashing on the couch right after!
Yes, my standards of fitness are very basic, I call them 'achievable goals' or 'baby steps' or even 'let me get to this goal and then move a small step up'.

Trust me, for as long as I remember, I have felt 'unhappy about my shape or my arms or my flab or my F-A-T or just hating myself after I chow down that cake' and for right now, just doing something about it is making me feel happy.

The other day my 9 year old was talking about fitness and Sumit asked her, who is fit according to her and why: She very casually said: You and mummy, since you do yoga every day or go to the gym and are happy.

Of course we were gushing and explaining her about the three pillars of being Fit according to us: Good food, good work out but above all Mental Peace. With the most emphasis on the last one ‘mental peace’

BUT, my 9 year old's comments made me very happy; she does not look at me as ‘as I view myself’. She looks at me being F-I-T and being happy and that itself is the best body image lesson I could ever give her without even trying to.


Now, all heavy conversation aside....... be safe and be happy and I will be back from my beach vacation all relaxed and sun-tanned and craving more fun in the sun!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Keep it Simple Silly!

This past weekend weather wise was gloomy, rainy and a little cold. Well its Chicago in Spring time :-)
All right, no weather comments, our winter was really good this year.

But in this weekend in midst of meeting friends, celebrating our friend's kids milestone birthday's by Sunday evening we were all 'spent', not tired but just really needed a relaxed evening in.
Sisters, Friends for life!

So what did we do? Really nothing but still a lot!

Both the girls received long oil massages a la moi, followed by their long baths. And then the sisters unwind-ed with a board game while I sat with them and hand fed them- by choice.

The girls are now 9 and 4 and really self sufficient (the 4 year old does get fed her last few bites at mealtime), but it felt really good- Just to feed them with no time crunch.
From a while ago, remembering their baby zone

The little angels are growing up and there is only I realize as they get older, the time for cuddling and 'I Love you's' will reduce.... and so this Sunday evening, they played, while I hand fed them their favorite meals and time stood still for me to get amazed and just enjoy them be in their normal zone!

From even more 'long time ago'

Keeping is simple, really simple!