Friday, September 26, 2014

The Other side of: ' A letter from a sleep trained baby'

Recently on one of the social sites, I saw this article "A letter from a sleep training baby" I read it and as predicted, I was misty eyed and then common sense kicked in.
I am like, seriously?
Now, I think I am all about: To each their own. Parenting is definitely not 'One Size fits all', you bend, you learn, you adapt. And move on. I very strongly believe in 'You are the best parent for your child".
I have two girls with independent personalities. What I learned with my first, I am unlearning with my second. What I am doing with my second, I don’t remember doing with my first. So even in the same house, rules have adjusted based on the child.
I must add; confrontation and I really don’t go hand in hand. I am happy left sulking and stomping my feet when no one hears. So this post is not meant to hurt anyone, please. To each their own.
I am just sharing the other side of the story,
So here is my "A letter from a sleep trained baby"

Dear Mommy,
I was happy, happy sleeping in your cuddling arms, being rocked, being sung to. But the minute I hit the crib, I woke up not knowing what to do. I would wake up and since I didn't know anything else, I would cry. You would come in my room, try rocking me, I would drudge back to sleep and then again, in a while I would wake up. We did this for a long time. Every morning, I would wake up cranky, since I didn’t get the rest.
I was confused, why did you have the red eyes, why were you not smiling at me though you picked me up every 2 hours the night before? I know you love me just as much!
I was confused.
Now I am not.
When you started the sleep training, I got thinking: What's with this 'routine'? I love the stories you read to me, but what's this new thing? Laying me in my safe crib, kissing me, starting the music in the room and hushing me to sleep and leaving my room. Oh, the music is no nice, and I can hear you just outside my room. I know you love me just as much!
But what's this new thing?
I know I screamed and cried the first few days, I didn’t know what to do! But I like the routine, the knowing what's happening to me. I liked you coming back to my room. I liked the reassurance of knowing you are there. Slowly I learned, no matter what, you are just outside loving me just as much. Slowly I learned how to sleep on my own. Wow, it is so simple and so relaxing.
Now even when I stir in the night and wake up, I can wiggle around a little and fall back to sleep. I dream of the lovely stories you read to me. I know you are just outside, loving me just as much.
When you pick me up now in the mornings, I see your smile back and your eyes light up.  Now, I am happy, rested and relaxed. And oh yes, I have the energy to go back to playing, learning, crawling, laughing.
And I love you laughing with me. I know you love me just as much!
Your "munchkin"



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We are fishes in disguise!

I really don't remember when I learned swimming; it was just something I did with my dad. Every morning, he would wake my brother and me up early, really really early. We would go for a swim, race with each other, learn new strokes, play, and shower, come home for breakfast and off to school. This was our routine for most of my formative years.
I love water, water based activities and so much so that, when Miss V was 5 months old, she was in the swimming pool. That was the one thing, I knew I wanted to do with my kid(s), swim, enjoy in the water and laze by pool side.
Sumit and I make sure there is at least one beach bumming vacation a year.
 Over the years, V has continued with swimming lessons, playing with us and just 'chillaxing' in the water. Her first 'Big Girl' water slide was in the cruise ship when she was just over 4 years old. She was scared the first time, and then was on -repeat rinse- mode. There is no stopping her.
For Little Lady, S, the water story is similar. We introduced her to the pool early on and she has her moments, but all in all, once in the pool, is hard to get her out. She has the biggest grin when in water and the 'splash' game never ceases to amaze her.
This weekend was perfect for us: A water park.
 Not far from city, five families meeting there was fun in the indoor water park/ resort. 6 kids and the water, oh my gosh.
Little Lady was on the slide. I am not exaggerating when I say that she went up and down the water slide for more than hundred times! And Miss V, she scaled the largest slide, the slides in which even I held my breath for the first few seconds. She was scared, but she kept on going and going.
Miss V and Little Lady ruled the water, we were with them. Sumit making sure Little Lady came down the slides as many times as she wanted and I ensuring Miss V went on the craziest water rides/slides as many time as pleased her. It was fun to be in the lazy river with Little Lady napping on me and Miss V and I holding hands and relaxing. We are fishes in disguise!
 Needless to say, Sumit and I laughed, did the slides to our hearts contents, enjoyed with our friends and really loved to see all the kiddos bond so well. After the water, kids slept, dads hung out together and the moms had a PJ gossip session. Was perfect.
I can't wait to do this in peak of winter when in Chicago it will be just snow outside and heated indoor water park and us. Along with laughter, water slides, amazing company and laughter, lots of it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

I am proud of you

 As parents say, I wonder if we say that enough, we don’t want them getting too full of themselves, but at the same time, we want to appreciate them for the small and the big things.
I struggle with it, since I wonder which 'mom' I am, 'Good job baby, you are awesome!' or' That was nice, how about we do this next time'
I try to balance it and not 'keep appreciating' all the time. I think I am stern, I get angry, I scold but at the same time, I try to appreciate for things that need it.
Like this one: During dance practice I was chatting with another mom. Her kid just joined Miss V's school and she was telling me about her experience etc.
Though she didn't know my daughter’s name, turns out our kids are in the same year just different classes. What a small world!
So here is the conversation, she asks me: 'Is your daughter’s name V?'
Garima: 'Hmm, yes, how did you know?'
Fellow mom: 'Oh when I went for the school tour they showed me V's books as sample student etc'
Garima: 'Woooh, what! That is awesome'
It was really a good feeling that my child is considered as a 'sample student'. The school thinks her performance is 'worth exhibiting' to prospective parents.
I was happy and proud. Proud of her, she is 6, and I told her the story and ‘Baby, I am proud of you
She smiled and asked if there was some snack in the car!

Hmm!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 more minutes, please!

That is a statement I tell my 'Alarm' each morning. 5 more minutes, Please! I need to just laze for 5 more minutes.

Those 5 more minutes do nothing to me, I am not sleeping anymore, I am not resting, I am fitful at best. I am already planning the day, chores, schedules, meetings, strategies when the alarm buzzes.


But there is something so nice about that additional 5 minutes. Isn't it?

Like most people, I wake up cranky; 5 minutes additional or not.

I am trying to adapt. Slightly. I am trying to wake up with the alarm. The alarm buzzes 15 minutes before my older baby wakes up. So those 15 minutes are precious. I get the 'me-time' in the morning, I can brush in peace, start the kids breakfast, prepare the kids lunch, make my coffee and be 'awake' by the time the first one doles out of bed.

In all due fairness, I have been doing it only for 2 weeks plus, the waking up with the alarm bit! But I have seen the slight difference. I am not as stressed anymore. I still am rushed, but not as stressed.

It's slowly coming to a well- oiled machine! And I like it.

It's crazy mad still; I am in hyper multi-tasking mode from 6:15 to 8:15, that's the time it takes me to
Get two kids fed with 'healthy' breakfast
Get two kids ready for school
Cook and Pack Miss V's lunch
Wipe kitchen, pre-prep dinner
Get myself fresh and presentable for work and kids drop off's to school
And oh yes, start Roomba.

Thankfully Sumit and I divvy up the drop off’ s when he is not travelling, he has one kid to drop off, I have the other. So Phew.
By the time I finish the drop off and sit in the bus for office, that's the first 'sigh' of relief.
So I am learning, the 5 minutes of laziness in the mornings somehow throws the schedule off. I am cranky, hasty, rushed and translating the effect to the kids as well.
I am at least 'less cranky'

I'll take that!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Munch Bunch: Burmese Food- Vegetarian Khao Suey

This weekend marked our next cooking adventure in Munch Bunch. We wanted to challenge ourselves and decided that let's do something different: Burmese

Menu:
Appetizer: Tea Leaf salad
Entree:    Sambusa Kadhi
           Khao Suey
Dessert:   Tapioca Pudding
Drink:     Pineapple, Pomegranate lemonade

My story with Burmese food is simple, there is only one restaurant: Myanmar in Virgina that I have ever eater Burmese food in. I Love it. We used to go there once a week when we lived there if not more. We have seen that restaurant transform from a little 20 people family run to the full-fledged establishment it is today.

So, the attempt for re-creating some of that was so worth it.
I tried the Vegetarian Khao Suey.
Now, this time, my friend reminded me, munch bunch is to try, sometimes fail and sometimes succeed with our attempts. This time my attempt was not as successful.

So I write this recipe, I will include things that I plan on doing differently next time. It was delicious, but I do think it can be tweaked a little to improve.

Ingredients:
For Khao Suey-
Coconut Milk: 1 1/2 cans
Onion: 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Garlic: 2 cloves, finely chopped
Ginger: 1/2 inch, finely chopped
Lemon Grass: Root-1, shredded
Chili: 2,finely chopped
Besan(Ground gram flour):  4 tsp
Finely Chopped vegetables: 3 cups (Carrots, Broccoli, Green beans, Peppers, Corn)
Water: Per taste
Fine Rice noodles: 1 packed, cooked per instructions
Olive Oil: 2-3 tsp

Spices-
Chili powder: 2-3 tsp, add if you like it more spicy
Cumin Powder: 2 tsp
Coriander Powder: 2 tsp
Salt: Per taste

For Toppings-
Garlic -4 cloves, finely sliced
Chili: 3, cut length wise
Onion: 1/2 chopped and fried. I used store bought fried onion
Ginger: 1/2 inch, sliced
Fried Noodles: 1 cup
Spring Onions: 1 cup thinly sliced

Making the Khao Suey-
1. Heat olive oil in a deep pan
2. When heated, add ginger, garlic, chili and sauté
3. Add onion and the spices and stir until translucent
4. Now add lemon grass, Ground gram flour (besan), mix well cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes
5. Take a blender, add the cooked onion paste and the coconut milk. Blend well
6. In the deep pan, sauté the chopped vegetables for 3-4 minutes. Add the blended onion-coconut milk mixture
7. Feel free to add water to make it slightly liquid. Consistency should be like a 'tomato basil bisque'
8. Separately cook the rice noodles per instructions.

Making the toppings:
1. Shallow fry the garlic, chili, ginger all separately.

Assembling/ Serving the Khao Suey
1. Dish the noodles, top with the Khao Suey, add toppings per taste

Enjoy!

Things I would do differently next time around:
1. My noodles got overcooked, So when I added to the Khao Suey, it was chunky and did not separate. So next time, as mentioned in the recipe above, I would serve the noodles and top the Khao Suey soup/gravy as a topping on noodles
2. Spice: I realized that the Khao Suey was not as spicy. So add additional chili powder/ finely chopped chili as needed.
3. Since coconut milk is heavy, feel free to reduce the quantity to 1 can if you need it more liquid.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

They are back!

Without much fanfare and happily no crazy stories the kids and hubby are back. And I will be clichéd enough to say, I missed them while they were away and then am super-duper happy that they are all back.
The home is now complete with the two monkeys jumping off couches and the two adults trying to ensure things stay sane. Well at least they stay sane.

The changes, oh the changes.

Let me start with the Chatterbox. Miss V

Well, she is fluent in Hindi. Yes you read that correctly. The ' I am too shy to speak in Hindi' is fluent and has enforces rules around the house: Though shall only speak in Hindi. It's awesome. And yes, I get a punishment if I don’t speak in hindi, last night: Say Dinner in Hindi?? Anyone!
Next, she is more 'why?' 'Yes So' 'I don't care' 'So what?' Yes, my 6 and a half year old is getting to the phase of 'I KNOW EVERYTHING' and "I CAN ARGUE AWAY'.
I have been commanded by one and all to keep clam and endure this and be patient and that this is a phase and it shall pass. So o wise ones, I will listen to you all and TRY to keep a rational head and answer and be patient. Man, I can feel my energy slump already!
But on the positive side. She is full of stories, energy and the craziness that goes with her being back. She was excited to be back in her 'revamped room' Sumit and I spend hours re-arranging furniture, building new ones to have a room ready for an avid reader and a crafty girl. She loves every inch of it.
She is appreciative of all the hard work and is excited to be back in school and her friends. She is helpful and neater in her dealings around the house. She is still the little kid who will come and give you a hug just because, still negotiating her way around the candy, feed her little sister since no other one can get a morsel of food in her, smile and express her opinion.
And as usual the Chatterbox V is more independent and more self-reliant than before. Trust me; they are awesome qualities to have in a little kid.

And now the Little Lady. Miss S.
Interactive, Repeat mode: What we call- Rattu Tota = A parrot, and expressive. Oh man, the expressiveness. You ask her a question and she will be very clear in what she wants: It's a Yes or a vehement head shake saying no. Not just polite, vehement head shake. She is chatty, smile and now is developing a smile that you know, something fishy is coming up next.
For a 20 month old that is crazy. I know, I should resign to the fact that I have two highly opinionated and independent girls.
She is still relaxed, will spend hours playing with her toys. Will come in the middle to check in on you, and then go about back with her toys. It's adorable to see her carry a book, she calls 'boo'. She gets it to you, you read to her, She smiles and keeps 'reading'
The 'shoes' enthrall her. She brings her shoes to you and is ready to go 'bye bye' every single minute of the day. Oh yes, she is a traveler and from what I gather, she was ready with her shoes in India before you thought it.
She is however now a co-sleeper. Hmm. Now this one, this Little Lady never needed any training. She took to crib from Day 1 like her second home. No sleep training, no tantrums no nothing. By 6 months, she was in her room sleeping from 7 to 7. And yes, I am not exaggerating. It was perfect. I have friends who asked, how did you train her, I don’t know, she was just a good sleeper.
So now, I am in land of the unknown.

How do I sleep train an independent, expressive, know what I want 20 month old who thinks I am a toy!
Hmm

I am taking all suggestions at this point.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Quick Food Fix: Mixed Lentil Pancakes

It's always about how quickly can you get from start of putting the meal together to serving to the family. On any given day, I have about 20 minutes, 25 minutes if I am really lucky. With four hungry tummies growling, it better be quick, nutritious and delicious.
My mom's teaching is ingrained in me, 'Everything in life can wait, except food. Must be good, healthy and delicious. 'Oh mom, why o why!
I am a big advocate of cooking fresh for the kids et al. The more I expose the kids to different flavors, cuisines and concoctions, hopefully, easier they will have in life as Vegetarian Foodies like me.

Another addition to my Quick Fix Recipe
Name: Mixed Lentil Pancakes.
Note to self: Be more creative with the names
 Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 medium size pancakes
Ingredients:
Onion: 1/2 cup finely chopped
Ginger: 1 tsp finely chopped
Garlic: 1 tsp finely chopped
Chili: Per taste, finely chopped
Millet Flour: 1 1/2 Cup
Gram Flour (Besan): 1/2 Cup
Boiled lentils/Quinoa: 2 cups
Water: Approx 1 cup
 In this recipe: I had used the pre-boiled 'Quinoa, Toor Daal, Moong Daal' from the night before. But feel free to choose your own concoction; any left over lentils will be perfect addition.

Spices:
Fennel Seeds: 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carram Seeds: 1 tsp
Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Salt: Per taste
Mirchi: 1 Tsp
Lemon Juice: 1 Tsp

Instructions:
1. Mix all of the above ingredients with a little water to make the batter. It should not be runny, nor should it be too thick.
2. On a heated pan, spread out as you would do pancakes. I used non-stick, so no oil was needed.
3. On Medium flame, cover the pan and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Flip the pancakes, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes
5. Serve with Chaat Masala, Green Chutney/ ketchup

The cooking takes slightly longer, since you have lentils and millet flour both of which have longer cook times, so if you take a larger pan, you can make more at the same time like I did, see picture below.
 

Now, if you have been following my blog (Yay!), you know I love making Chilla's/ Indian Pancakes a lot for our breakfasts/ quick snacks. This one qualifies as a meal in itself. The lentils are heavier and hence you do tend to get filled up quicker.
 


So Bon A petit! Enjoy yourself.