Sunday, December 18, 2016

Little Lady is 4!

Little Lady,

You are Four now... yes, its your birthday, Finally!

I asked you what you wanted to do for your birthday and here is your complete list
1. Go to Skinner park and have a picnic
2. Get 4 cards: Flamingo, Cat, Princess and Queen drawings on them.
3. You want Paav-Bhaaji for lunch
4. Lots of candies and chocolates
5. A cake with more M&M's and choolates
6. Meet the friends and family

That's it.
AND I love your list and I promise we will do EVERY single one of them and then just a little bit more!
Well except the going to the park, being outside in negative 15 F. is no fun for anyone!

The best word to describe you is 'Firecracker'
Reason: You enter the room and it is filled with your firecracker jokes, your vivacious personality and the 'batting of eyelashes'

You leave us in Awe Little Lady
1. Awe of your charms
2. Awe of the crocodile tears that come and go really quickly
3. Awe of your non-stop chatter about 'Let me tell you something'
4. Awe of your tantrums for a chocolate
5. Awe of 'Lets do Writing Practice'
6. Awe of you trying to converse with us in Hindi, Spanish and 'Hinglish' as you call it.
7. Awe of your devotion to your older sister
and above all..
8. Awe of just you!

Little Lady, you are four today I write you this letter of four things that I want you to know my lovely little angel.

Little Lady,

1. Be strong and be kind.
2. Have an opinion but be open to learning and listening to the other's point of view.
3. See the world through the Rose Tinted Glasses, there will always be ups and down's but seeing the silver line makes it always worth it!
4, Know yourself and if you do, then others opinion of you really does not matter.

Lots of Love'

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I have a bead up my nose: She did what!!!

Another one of the "Kids say the darnest things' edition with our usual suspect: Little Lady!

Scene: 5:45 am, weekday morning, our 11th Wedding Anniversary!

Mommy hears Little Lady walk slowly in her room

Mommy lovingly says: Come on in my bed and snuggle in!! πŸ’—

Little Lady whispers: Mommy I can't, I had a Mishap (Implying pee'd in her bed) πŸ˜“

Mommy consoled groggily: It's okay honey, head to the rest room, I will help you πŸ˜’

(She has been potty trained fro a long time, so mishap is not usual, no
big deal, it happens)

Little Lady whispers: Mommy, I also have a bead in my nose πŸ˜”

Mommy sprints up from bed and says'calmly': what? 😑

Little Lady whispers: Mommy, I have a bead in my nose  πŸ˜”
(She keeps a brave face and looking pitiful)

Mommy has a mini freak out and says'calmly': How? 😑

Little Lady whispers: I put it there πŸ˜”

Mommy quickly wakes up husband snoring peacefully: YOUR little angel has put a bead in her nose. WAKE UP  πŸ˜ 

Mommy looks up Little Lady's nose with a phone torch: "Hell, it is a BEAD' 😠

Daddy wakes up, calls the doctors office and finds out process of 'almost 4 year old with a bead up her nose'
Mommy picks up the soiled Little Lady and rushes to bathroom and makes her sit down 'withoug getting angry, since last thing momy wanted is to upset Little Lady'
Big Sister aka Chatterbox wakes up with the commotion and comes to the bathroom 'What's going on'

Mommy still speaking calmly: Little Lady has a bead up her nose. 😠

Big Sister bursts out laughing is asuper confused but laughs a lot! 😈
Little Lady is now parked on the bathroom sink and smiling and 'checking herself' out in mirrorπŸ˜‡

Mommy 'googles' and finds out that before ER, try the following
1. Have the child blow her nose: Okay that I can do
2. Use a 'nose bulb' and 'vacuum it out': Hmm, how hard can that be
3. Use tweezers to pull it out: Hell no, I am NOT doing that!

So mommy barks these instructions at Daddy and starts looking for the 'nose bulb' which is used for kids under 1 year!!
Mommy is getting angrier and angrier, seriously: bead up her nose! what the hell was she thinking!

In ONE minute, there is a loud burst of laughter from the bathroom and mommy rushes in 😠

Daddy while demonstrating 'how to blow the nose' has 'nosy' all over him and kids are laughing a lot!!!!
Mommy is really  ANGRY now and she stomps off to look for the 'bloody nose bulb' 😠

In ONE minute again, there is loud cheering from the bathroom and mommy rushes in

Little Lady did manage to blow the bead out of her nose!
Daddy and big sister are searching for bead on floor to double check
Little Lady is laughing and smiling since 'she did it'

Mommy is calm outside: "Phew" 😢
In all these past '8+3' years of parenting, I HAVE NEVER SEEN MY CHILD WITH A BEAD UP HER NOSE, WHAT THE HELL! 😠

Morning continued as 'normal', kids were bathed, fed and ready for school by 8! πŸ™†
Mommy was left bewildered πŸ™
Daddy was left feeling like a champion 'Since he helped the bead out her nose' πŸ™‹

Well Happy 11th Anniversary to US! πŸ˜‚

Life is full of surprises, some good, some bad! You  see the Silver Line and Smile. 

We are blessed to have these kids who can keep calm even when they messed up, a support system which can find things funny even when an almost 4 year announces at 5:45 am
 'I have a Bead Up my nose'

We did manage a Date Night for our Anniversary!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Quick Food Fix: Minestrone Soup: Instant Pot

I caved and I bought a Kitchen Gadget!!

We cook quiet a bit in the house and I 'most of the times' really enjoy the process. We make fresh food 4-5 times a week and the rest is either parties or eating out, but food does not come in a can in my  house and I want my kids to love and appreciate that.

I am not much for cooking gadgets, two reasons: 1. I don't like a cluttered kitchen counter and 2. I am old-school.

The ones that I swear by is my 'Ninja' Its a blender its Dough maker is a blessing for me. Besides that, nothing much. Simple chopper etc, but nothing really fancy. I have never found a need for it.

Over the past few months, my friends have been raving about "Instant Pot' sending me things they make, how simple it is, stress free and above all Time Saver.

Honestly this was one gadget that I thought, well great, but I think I am fine, my start to finish off cooking daily takes about 45 minutes! So don't need this. But for some reason, Sumit was very convinced for this, way more than me. His Reason: Well it frees 20 minutes for you, great!

The feature that sold me, automatic timer: Put all ingredients in the morning, have this start at 4 pm so by the time you come home from work and picking up kids, one thing is ready and done!

Then came Black Friday with an awesome deal and I caved and I bought my Instant Pot. Considering I have my 'New Toy', I am starting a new Tag 'Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipe'

I started Simple: Veg Minestrone Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes, but you have Zero Involvement!

Chopped in bigger pieces

1 Cup Carrots
1/2 Cup Orange Pepper
1/2 Cup Cauliflower
1/4 Cup Broccoli
1/2 Cup tomato
1/2 Cup peeled Edamame
1/4 Cup Onion: Sliced Thin
1 Garlic peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup Cannelloni Beans: Not Soaked

Butter: 1/2 tsp

Fried Oregano: 2 tsp
Chili Flakes: 1 tsp
Salt: Per Taste
Black Pepper: 1 tsp

1. Turn Instant pot (IP) in Saute Mode
2. Add Butter, when it melts, add the garlic and Onion
3. Saute for 2 minutes, add spices
4. Saute for 1 more minute
5. Add all vegetables and beans
6. Add Water About 4 cups
7. Switch to 'soup' option
8. Relax!!!
In 20 minutes, the steaming & Delicious soup was ready!!!

Now.. this is my 'maiden' recipe for the simplest setting. So crack your Instant Pot Open and try this!
I am going to spend sometime learning the different modes...this one was being cooked in'High Pressure' mode, so we vented out the steam before opening it.

To be honest, when this was cooking, I was a little stressed, I am used to being an involved chef, checking my food, sauteing, stirring etc. But this I could get used to.... start, dump all ingredients and read a book, When its ready, it turns off automatically!

Advantage: I finally used my beans.... they have been sitting in my pantry, but I always forget to pre-soak them!

Next, though Instant-Pot is nothing but an Electric Pressure Cooker, my vegetables stayed intact! In its shape, no mushy liquid, The minestrone turned out like a wonderful clear soup with vegetables and herbs!


If not using Instant-Pot: Follow the same recipe as above but use the pressure cooker instead, vegetables will get a little mushed since I have done that before.

And No Pictures :-( I really didn't think the first recipe I used would be this good!

Stay Tuned, more recipes to follow for sure!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Munch Bunch: Thanksgiving Edition: Zesty Cranberry Relish

It's Thanksgiving... already! This year seems to have flown past!

Thanksgiving means lots of food, lots of meeting and greeting family and friends and definitely being thankful for all we have and cherishing the time.  Of course as an Indian, this is an inherited festival for me. I learned about this festival, its significance and its importance in my adult years after moving here.

During my single days and even child free days, it was all about having an extended long weekend and a vacation. Over the years we have formed simple traditions for us as a family. And as it should, most of them involve food.

This past weekend, we had our monthly Munch Bunch: Gathering of 4 like-minded couples along with families who meet monthly with a new theme or cuisine. This way we get to attempt new recipes and test and fail in a much smaller setting and learn about cuisines of the world.

This month's theme: Thanksgiving

   Mulled Wine
Main/ Appetizer Course: 
   Cranberry Relish
   Butternut Squash Risotto
   Angel Hair Pasta
   Green Bean Casserole
   Pull Out Garlic Bread
   Brussels Sprout Salad
   Habanero Sauce
   Pumpkin Pie
   Berry Pie

And we ate and ate and then ate some more in true Thanksgiving style!!

Here is the recipe for 'Best-est Cranberry Relish'

And I say that for two reasons, the taste: It was one of the most refreshing things to taste. With the Thanksgiving menu as elaborate as it was, it was the perfect add-on!
And then second reason-The effort- its the easiest recipe to assemble and follow. It took me 7 minutes from start to finish. Definitely follows my theme of 'Quick Food Fix'

And for a taste as solid as this- it was totally worth the 'effort'

A very dear friend of mine who hosts two traditional thanksgiving dinner during this season gave me this I definitely have her to thank for it.

2 Whole Oranges
6 Cups Fresh Cranberry
1.5 Cup Sugar (You can adjust this based on your intake)

1. Wash the oranges and place them in the blender with the skin
2. Yes, with the skin, trust me on this
3. Blend the orange in a nice 'smoothie' consistency
4. Add the washed cranberry and sugar
5. Run the blender until cranberry is well in 'relish consistency'
6. Add about 1/2 cup of water for a smoother finish
7. Tada! Done

Yes, done, I did say 7 minutes for a reason!

Now just place them in a box for serving. Recommendation: make this the night before you are having the thanksgiving dinner... it really helps the juices and the flavors to enhance.

Here is our set of kids being thankful for amazing companions, wonderful friends and a happy home. 

This year we have our cousin visiting us for Thanksgiving, we are planning to watch the Thanksgiving Parade, enjoy the ChristKindle Market followed by gathering of some friends for.... you guessed it: More Food

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Just for some sweetness: Eggless Banana Nut Bread

A lovely lazy evening and 'mood for something sweet' made us try a new baking recipe: Banana Nut bread...

Of course, I must add: in the afternoon I saw Sumit throwing away some overripe banana and I was like- I am sure we could do something with that... so the last over ripe banana was put to good use! Sumit was laughing so hard, since I am known for tossing things even slightly wilted, however the over ripe banana made me ‘concious’

Now, baking from scratch is not my forte!! However< i must add that with my little helpers, Miss Chatterbox and Little Lady, this turned out FANTASTIC.

Apparently, humility is also not my forte!

So here is the recipe adapted from here. I made a few tweaks to keep it easier for my little kiddos to help out. 


Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1 medium size extremely ripe banana
1/2 cup yogurt
4 tsp Oil (I used Vegetable Oil)
1 cup brown sugar (Am sure you could use white, I find white super sweet)
1/4 cup Hot water
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Add In:
3/4 cup walnut (Broken into bigger pieces)

1/4 cup Cranberry: For adding on top for crisping
2 tsp brown sugar: For adding on top for crisping

1. Heat the oven at 375 F
2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients really well.
3. In a bowl, mash up the banana really well. My little lady mashed it up with her fork really well... she loved the mess
4. Add all wet ingredients one after the other to the mashed banana and employ little helpers while you sip on hot coffee
5. Now, Mix until all wet ingredients to the flour
6. Add in the walnuts, save a few for topping on, mix.
7. Now in a bread pan line foil and pour in the batter
8. Shake the pan a little for even setting
9. Now add the toppings of cranberry, sprinkle sugar
10. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the toothpick can come out without sticking

Enjoy warm banana nut bread with vanilla ice cream

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Diwali 2016.... a Journey

Another year, another Diwali and another fun celebration!!!!

This is 'My Festival' and year after year, I love having our friends and family over and celebrate this festival of Lights and feel a little bit more at home.

This year was a bonanza, every weekend we were dressing up, be it Navratri, the festival leading upto Diwali, or gathering of friends for Diwali Parties!

As they are getting older, at our house Diwali Party, the kids do an annual Diwali Dance! Until last year, it was just the older girls and this year the tiny toddlers are in the mix

Here is our dance routine for this year

Child 1: Almost 7 year old A: Karr Gayi Chull
Child 2: Almost 9 year old Chatterbox: Cham Cham
Both Older Kids: Pinga Pori, with a surprise element from the adults as well
All Toddlers: Kala Chasshma

And it was one amazing times, the older girls practice on their own,  chances are next year, they will be choreographing on their own!

Luckily I have the little munchkins to 'choreograph' for a few more years.

This year was super special, since my friend and equal dance nut, K encouraged me to join the girls for a dance! And we did, on Pinga... might not be the most elegant, but we had a blast practicing, especially when the girls would see us and say: 'The adults made a mistake, or mummy you forgot this step!'

Yeah, getting corrected by your kids is sometimes fun!

My tradition of having these dance practices is simple:
I am hoping my kids and their friends feel that Diwali is a big deal. I am hoping they continue to love Bollywood with all its fun and frolic and enjoy dancing without a care in the world.

Here are a few Diwali images from over the years

2011... There were 3!!!

2016... And now we are 4!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 3: First Excursion: Pangong Tso at Leh & Laddakh

 We started really early since it was a 4 hour drive to Pangong Tso. We had to take a hard decision of leaving my brother and his family back in Leh so my brother could rest and recover from the fever!

This drive is NOT for the faint hearted. Even if you have minor motion sickness, I recommend Dramamine. Eat light and definitely fluid up!!
This drive was probably the worst drive of our entire trip in Leh! For only one reason: It is too 'curvy':
Case in point:

We crossed Chang La Pass (17590 ft. above sea level) and second highest motor able road in the world. Oxygen is really thin, so besides some quick pictures, I don’t recommend stopping here at all. My father got really light headed and we rushed down the hill so he could get more Oxygen.
But I definitely managed to get some pictures for sure!

All of us became pro's at getting 'O2 stats' checked out everywhere. This is the most important stat here. Don't take it lightly. Remember what I said: Acclimatization is a real thing!

The views on this drive are breathtaking, no doubt, but you need a really experienced driver to maneuver these cliffs. Both my daughters slept on the way up and down, since they were feeling very 'woozy'
Here are a few drive pictures.

Of course the minute you see the lake, the Tso, all your travel woes are washed away. It is simply astounding. The reflection of the clouds and the surrounding mountains on the take is like looking in a natural Mirror. The lake gets its color from really high limestone content in the water and hence the lake is also "Salty" We tasted it of course!

The locals claim, this was the original sea before Africa and Asia split (remember Formation of our planets) and hence the high salinity of water!

This lake is 35% in Indian Borders and rest in China. Incursions are common and hence a higher Army Control here. There are patrol boats in the water all the time. Again, since we were with the Indian Army, Sudhirji, the Army Jawan accompanying us and keeping us company helped us to get an exclusive boat ride in the Pangong Lake on Army Patrol Boats. Needless to say, due to security reasons, I cannot take or post any pictures of this. But this was definitely a mesmerizing blue and drive in the boat!!

Here is V pretending to ride one of the 'Dingy' boats!

Getting Maggi at this altitude of 14570 ft. is amazing. 

Knowing that our drive back was equally tiresome, we all took it really easy on lunch. Since 3 Idiots was recently shot here, most of the cafes are themed after this movie. I didn’t want to leave, but I definitely wanted to be off the steep drive in Day time. With a heavy heart we left.

Right outside the Tso, we stopped by and saw the local animals: Goats, Horses  and we had a poser, so of course we took some more pictures.

Sudhir Ji, was recanting stories of how avalanche in these areas is common in winters and hence the roads are closed for all public. But Army needs to do what Army needs to do. We saw 3 Army trucks in the cliff below struck by an avalanche. It was so disheartening, Lives lost!

On the drive back, Little Lady got really motion sick and started throwing up. Sudhirji stopped by an army medical area; we got all our O2 checked. My dad grew weak and needed O2, all taxis/ rental cars are equipped with it. Yeah, I know, it sounds scary, through the trip we realized this is really normal and as long as you are pro-active and take care and take it easy, its fine.

Don’t be macho- listen to your body and really ask for help.

I made the mistake of carrying Little Lady in my arms from the car to the medical station (20 ft. walk only). This did me in really well! I was huffing and puffing and due to lesser oxygen due to 'exertion' I was also a little low for the rest of the drive back.

When we returned back to the guest house, we all just passed out on the bed, exhausted!!! Though I was still dreaming of the lake, my body had no energy left. Trust me, as soon as I returned from Pangong Tso, I had claimed, no more, let’s just stay local!

But after a delicious and light dinner, and loads of Limca later, we sat with our Army hosts and planned the next few days: a 2.5 day trip to Tso Moriri and the India-China Border.

And then I re-looked at this picture and reminded myself No Pain, No Gain:

A good night's rest and ample encouragement from our Army hosts, we agreed and excitedly prepared for our drive!!! Trust me, tonight.. I really felt like why we are torturing our bodies…..

But this picture more than made it for me

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Travel & Stay Fit: Yes you can!

There are two things that I am passionate about, travelling and food!

If you have been following my blog, know me or even just met me, i could go on and out about these two things. In addition, over the last year, I have been following through with 'My Fitness Pal' Trust me, this is the longest I have stuck to the Getting Fit business and actually seen some positive results

Like my husband says, before we finish a trip, Garima is already thinking of the next one! Sadly work comes in way of 'my travelling adventures'. I am happy to say, the kids have travelling bug and definitely are showing signs of budding foodies.

One of the things that happens with this is: 'Getting Fit' always goes out the window when on a trip.

I want to eat all the local delicacies and my 'calorie meter' tells me I am way over my recommended amount. Of course after a trip, when I stand on the 'Scale of disaster' the truth is revealed. Yes, ignore the jeans fitting tightly, the t shirts being a little snug etc... I ignore it on a trip, until I get home and stand on my 'Scale of Disaster'

Story of my life!

But with this 'Getting Fit' business, I am trying to figure out and learn ways of Staying Fit, Enjoying local cuisines and continue Travelling and exploring.

Here is my simple and doable three point guide , I am hoping to add more 'points' as I travel more and eat more

1. Portion Control:
Eat everything you want, but do manage to have a little portion control. These 'buffets' are very appetizing, I get it, trust me.
May be take more variety and less portions. This way you can thoroughly enjoy the buffet and still not be 'way over the recommended calories'. Start with a salad, always!

2. Water &  Snacks:
Hydrate, any trip you take, be it beautiful Quebec, The friendly Vegas or the serene mountains of Leh, hydrate up. This way, you are snacking lesser during the excursions.
And if you are snack-er like me, carry healthy nuts, cereal bars, apple, banana or a simple sandwich loaded with vegetables.

3. Don't fall in the trap of 'Cheat Day':
Trust me, its hard. Read point 1, manage the portions so you can eat everything you really want. And at the same time skip the extra slice of chocolate cake since its your 'Cheat Day'. Its a slippery slope. I know since 'My Fitness Pal' graph is all over the place since I use this 'Its my Cheat Day' excuse a bit often.

Got You, didn't I: You were expecting me to blabber about use the gym, use the hotel facilities... haha!
In that case, you don't know me. On my vacations, I am lazier than my normal self.
You never know, sometimes just relaxing does wonders to your system! The stress eating goes away and you are eating when you are hungry and not when you are worried

 Enjoy these shows if you are in Vegas, take these beautiful excursions if you are in Vegas, the Sin City, book a hotel and enjoy the spa, the gym can wait, but truly relax!

Check out this amazing Website for Vegas, and I cant wait to book my next trip and explore all their amazing deals, and the only exercise I plan to do, is really thoroughly enjoy the city and follow  simple and doable three point guide: P-S-E (Portion- Snacking-Enjoy)!

But I do believe in really trying to stay fit and not gain the 'travel pounds'. If I come back at the same weight that i left before the trip, I am happy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day 2: Day stay in Leh: Local Sightseeing

We really wanted to take it easy today especially after the harried day 1. My brother fell ill today and caught Viral Fever, for the rest of the trip, my Sister in law, my nephew and brother just stayed put in Leh. Sadly they really didn’t get to see anything. But they spend time in the Army guest house, recovered from the illness and learned so much about Army. This was pretty much the view for my brother for the rest of the week... not bad eh!!
View from the Army Camp

In the morning, we split up, I stayed back home with Miss V and my brother etc. While my parents, Sumit and Little Lady went on the first local trip:

Choglamsar, Shanti Stupa and getting used to breathing!

This is according to Sumit, The Dalai Lama was visiting Choglamsar on the day and though my parents could not see him, the peace surrounding the Choglamsar Monastery was breathtaking.

According to my mum and Sumit, Shanti Stupa is one of the most serene places to go to. It is a landmark in Leh and definitely worth a visit!

Shanti Stupa: Picture from Internet

In the afternoon after a nap and lots of water, Miss V felt better and wanted to head out. She had done loads of research for Leh and Ladakh. While the rest of the family rested up, the four of us headed out to follow Miss V's recommended itinerary for the evening. 
Hall of Fame- Magnetic Hill- Sangam

Hall of Fame: A must watch. This museum shows history on all the wars of India, the tough training conditions for the Indian Army and above all a history of war that has shaped our country!
The army Jawan 'Sudhirji' accompanying us through the trip was a veteran of the Kargil war and seeing this hall of fame with him was priceless
Miss V: Impressed by the Hall of Fame. Salute!

Pathar Gurudwara:
This is a Gurudwara amidst the hills and the 'Pathar: Stone' has an interesting story to it. Read it here. 
It was so peaceful here. 
Gurudwara: The peace within

After Chai and some langar we headed off to my daughter's highest recommendation: Magnetic Hill
En route for our Langar

Magnetic Hill: Of course it’s touristy.
MIss V: She get credit for this- she designed the itinerary

But your car is turned off in Neutral gear and in between two hills and car is moving in the opposite direction to the slope due to 'Magnetism' It is impressive. I think Miss V wanted to just stay here!

The drive to Magnetic hill is flat and simple, but the views are breathtaking, the brown hills get prettier by every curve.
We are flying.... at Magnetic Hill

We then headed to Sangam: Or meeting of the two rivers: Indus & Zanskar.
Beautiful & Serene

You can see from the pictures that the color of the water is different: It changes they say, Whichever river has more flow of water, has a lighter color since less soil gets mixed it! In our case Sanskar to the right was lighter.
Finally!! A family Picture

Though we wanted to stay longer, we had a long road ahead! we really wanted to 'take it easy' per our hosts recommendations considering no one wanted to fall ill due to acclimatization.

Next Day: Was our first trip: Pangong Tso... the 3 idiots lake... More to Follow

Friday, September 30, 2016

Travel Journal: Day 1: Flight from Delhi to Leh & Acclimitize

Of course, Sumit and I had landed from Chicago 4 hours before our flight out to Leh. Talk about Travel Junkies.

After a scrumptious Indian Style Breakfast at Delhi Airport, we sat in our flight; with 6 adults and 3 kids!

Just a preview to the trip ahead.

First come first: Yes Acclimatization, is a real thing. You are at 9000 ft. above sea level and really little Oxygen: The way you realize it is your breathing becomes slightly hard, you take longer breaths unconsciously and Trust me just take 24-48 hours in Leh and do nothing major!

Within 4 hours of landing and resting in the Army guest house, my older daughter, 8 year old Miss V started throwing up. Within the next 2 hours my Little Lady, 3 year old started throwing up. (aka 3 times in less than 10 minutes).

We rushed them to the local hospital; the people were really nice and understanding. It was interesting that our Army Jawan kept telling us, don’t worry, this happens to everyone. 

At that time, it felt like, oh my gosh, what have we done… but the minute I got to the hospital and I saw people around only with altitude sickness, it was sort of comforting. All of the patients in the room, big or small had similar symptoms: Throwing up, Nausea, Light headed-ness.

When you see the two little ones so weak and listless, its hard. I held back tears and made silly jokes to keep their spirits up.

2 injections and loads of candies later, both the girls were back home and resting as highly recommended by our hosts!

We were advised to have minimum 25 glasses of water each day and eat small and frequent portions. The best advice Ever!

So again: If you plan on travelling, Acclimatization is a real thing. Plan on 1-2 days in Leh so you can settle in, it will be worth it in the long run!

Warning: Leh, Laddakh is definitely a place which is a tough trip. You need to mentally prepared for 'falling sick'.. trust me as you read rest of my travel posts, you will know why!
Having said that, I still highly recommend it. The youngest in our group was 15 months and oldest 60+. and I still say, it is heaven on earth with its sprawling beauty...

Day 2: Will be another day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Travel Diaries: Leh Laddakh- Trip of a lifetime

Truly heaven on earth! This is probably one of the hardest travel posts to write, words really are hard to describe this place which has such contrasting and breathtaking landscapes. Be it tall mountains, vast plain lands, wide lakes or serene views, this place has it all.

I have to start by saying- we all flew in from all over the world to Delhi to take this one week family re-union and a trip. My parents, the four of us, my brother's family all 9 of us spent a week in Leh & Laddakh and definitely made memories of a life time.

We were guests of the Indian Army, a family friend is a Colonel of the Indian Army stationed in Leh & Laddakh. Thanks to him and his entire team, we had a great trip and above all found a respect for the Army which we as civilians really didn’t think about. A separate post on this ishere. Thank You Indian Army!!

Here was our Itinerary in short, and detailed posts will follow slowly but surely!!! Stay Tuned

Day 1: Just acclimatize

Day 2: AM: Choglamsar, Shanti Stupa; PM: Hall of Fame, Pathar Gurudwara, Magnetic Hill, Sangam

Day 3: Chang-La Pass, Pangong Lake

Day 4: Shey Palace, Rancho School, Thikse Monastery, Night stay at Chumthang (which might be hard for non-army visitors) so please look for either driving up to Karzok

Day 5: Karzok, Tso Moriri and surrounding

Day 6: Enjoying the drive back, Hemis Monastrey, double humped camel ride, local Leh Market

Day 7: Fly Back

Here is a quick glimpse of why you should be excited

Monday, September 26, 2016

Co-incidence or Sisterly Bond!

How does this even happen.. two sisters come to the same location at least 7 years apart...And they both do the exact same thing..

Drink water from the fountain at Chicago Botanical Garden with the same level of excitement and naughtiness in their eyes!

I am reading too much into it, I know. I get that kids love open spaces, water and all water related activities.

Chances there were loads of other kids who must have drank water from that water fountain in the Rose Garden, Yeah, I get that! But its still adorable to have very very similar pictures of the two sisters

Here is Miss V aka Chatterbox when she was 1.5 year old

Here is Miss S aka Little Lady (Budding chatterbox) at 3.5 year old

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Indian Army: A story that need's to be told

As I read up on the Uri attacks, my hearts fill up with sadness. 17 Indian Army men lives lost in this cowardly attack.

We recently visited Leh & Laddakh and were guests of the Indian Army. After spending a week with our Indian Army, I feel one Indian army man equals the courage, the strength and the humility of 20 civilians combined.

The story of the Indian Army needs to be told- not in the 'Indian Bollywood way' but their true stories of sacrifice, spending months away from family, having the willfulness to actually so something for the country. The way I see it, we as Indian's sleep peacefully while the Army (as a matter of fact our navy/ air force) stay awake and protect us.

Being an Indian, I love Bollywood, love the movies, the fun, the gossips, the drama, the music and the vibrancy of Indian Film Industry. But today, to them I say: One thing you fall short on is showing the true nature of our Jawans (Soldiers)!!

Within a week of the one-on-one time with them, my entire family was often brought to tears as we heard their daily lives.

Here are some excerpts of stories from a week:

Mr S-ji, is a Kargil veteran, he was with us for the entire week. He recanted stories of the war: His best friend from school who joined army together. He helped his friend and his lady love elope and get married; they went through training together, cared of each other's families like they were their own! In the Kargil war, one evening they sat and wished each other luck. Mr S'ji's friend said- please tell my wife no matter where I am, I will always care! The next evening they come back to the base camp and Mr S finds out his friend was martyred! It's been over fifteen years, but Mr S'ji eyes were moist. He said- he feels this guilt that he lived and his friend died. He questions 'why him', he has this guilt every time he visit's his friend's family- maybe he could have done something different to save/protect his friend.

Another Army Jawan- Mr. X, let’s call him is a Kargil Veteran. He was telling us very simply about the "Tiger Hill Capture'. In the snow clad mountains, they would go for days without food or water. There were days when they came back to the base mountain to get one poori since all Jawan's needed food and supplies were running short. He told us of a story that they had to kick ice with their boot's for some ice to melt and they could quench their thirst. He told us the eve of victory night for the Tiger Hill, he was tired, hungry and exhausted. His colleague told him, carry this extra food for the night- Mr X's response:' Just give me the Tiranga (national flag): I just want to hoist that on the mountain!! That's the only extra weight I want to carry- food can wait!”

Mr S'ji tells us about his son, similar age as my daughter gets to see him may be 2-3 months every year! He was describing a story of building his house in his hometown. And though the civilians see the army uniform- they are not shy of asking him for a bribe to get the 'house plan' passed or get 'electricity connection' going! For Mr S'ji- I am here on the border, truly serving my nation and here these civilian's ask me for a bribe to build a house with my hard earned money!

We heard about the disparity of 'hardship pay' A Jawan stationed in the Siachen gets an additional hardship allowance of say 100$, but an IAS officer stationed in the urban city of 'Guwahati' gets a hardship allowance of '100$*5' How is that fair?

We visited the army base camp near 'Tso Moriri' lake. We had the privilege of having lunch in the Officers Mess. The camp, the Jawans, the officers all had the largest smiles and unspoken humility for us. They were happy to have my little one play with their hat or show my older daughter the 'pistol' from one of the wars. I was wondering- may be watching my kids- they think about their own families, little sisters or a life they could have had!

That evening we met a really young officer and we asked him- Why army:: He responded : Why not? This young officer from grade 9 knew the army is what he wanted:- he went to military school, studied did everything he could to get to the army. Nope, he has no family in the army- it's just what he wanted to do: Serve his country!!

I can go on and on about these little conversations, the stories, the valor, the courage, the sacrifices... but they won’t be enough!

These are the stories that need to be shared, the movies that need to be made! Bollywood, you know I love you- But I really want you to show the true army! Their stories. It might not be 'masala movies' but it will be something that will inspire you and me!! may be it will make us think twice before we ask/ give bribe. May be it will make us salute a passing soldier; donate a little something to their families!! 

Just a little something for them so that they know- we care, or at least we acknowledge and really appreciate their hard work.

As I sip on hot tea in an air-conditioned office: I remember the Jawan's who blew our minds in ONLY one week!
One of them- asked us what we did professionally- and all I could say was: Nothing! Nothing compared to you

Friday, September 9, 2016

Summer of 2016

Summer here is officially over, kids are back to school, life is back to regular scheduled programming.

As I have been getting back to 'life' I keep hearing: Summer was too short! Luckily Chicago weather has been good and its still amazing, I guess they are referring to 'summer: the official close of schools is over' I agree and disagree.

Agree: Wasn't it just yesterday I bid adieu to my munchkins are they went to spend 8 blissful weeks (First 1 with Sumit in India, 5 with Grand Parents solo and 2 again with us joining them) in India with the Grandparents and Cousins. Wasn't it yesterday that Sumit and I planned our '4 trips whilst the kids are away' Wasn't it yesterday that I washed and folded 11 loads of laundry since after kids left everything really needed to be re-washed!!

Disagree: They were gone for a really long time. I mean being away from the kids for 6 weeks is 
relaxing for sure, but definitely the empty house is not. Seeing other kids in the playground, at the beach, having tantrums over dinner all gave me an empty void. It was really long!

Yes we traveled while they were away: A weekend getaway to Pittsburgh to ring in cousins 50th, a last minute trip to Grand Yosemite, a romantic 4 day relaxation trip to Montreal-Quebec. I barely cooked whilst the kids were away. We ate out, walked, biked, met friends, and enjoyed long dinners and even longer chats! We piled on pounds, caught up on some books; saw some shows and the best of all: Really slept in!

I'd be lying if I said didn't enjoy the mornings: I mean waking up, showering at your leisurely pace and just heading to work was amazing!

But now that they are back, waking up to their cute hugs is the right way to start the morning.
The kids in India also relaxed: They watched a LOT of TV, cartoons, traveled with grandparents. Dressed up and enjoyed the gathering of cousins and friends. Attended weddings, and lots of reading, swimming, going on horse carriage rides, getting a fair share of ice cream and generally 'just bumming around'. They bonded with their cousins, fought with them, played with them and definitely bonded!!

A non-scheduled summer like it should be!

My Chatterbox-Miss V: Slept in, almost every single day. My Little Lady picked up Hindi so beautifully that she is only conversing in Hindi out of choice with us!

It really works out to have this balance trip: A friend mentioned: Your parents are doing 2 things: Pampering the grand kids and pampering you! I agree, since I got the 'much needed break' The kids loads of un divided attention and really got to broaden their horizons and get more independent!

This could not have been possible without our families in India. They paused their own lives to ensure the kids were happy and settling in! And now as they get used the quietness around the house, we get used to the riot!