Friday, December 7, 2012

6 months old!

What an eventful month it has been! Lots of festivities and lots of new developments...

Mama bear has been on high alert because little Miss Maya has become very mobile! She has been crawling backwards for a while, and now she does it so fast. Last week she sat up by herself for the first time!!! She was crawling backwards and then fell onto her bum. Then she couldn't wriggle out of her sitting position so she toppled over and rolled back to her tummy. Then repeat. Again and least 30x a day! Meanwhile, I'm having a heart attack thinking that she's going to bump her head on something! And Dada is having a heart attack thinking that she's going to pull the fluff from the carpet and choke!

We also set up a highchair and we have been feeding her breakfast in it. She looks like such a big girl in her own seat with her own little tray and cup holder! She loves to eat and does it so well. As soon as she sees the spoon coming, she opens up wide like a Venus Fly Trap! We have been feeding her pablum twice a day for the past 2 months. On Tuesday, we will be starting with solids, and I'm so excited! I can't wait to see which foods she likes. Will she prefer beans or sweet potatoes? Will she like apples better than bananas? Her personality will come out more and more...what a discovery this all is!

As we approach the winter season, there are so many festivities. This month, she celebrated her first Diwali. We dressed her up in one of the outfits Dada brought from India, which was supposed to be for a year-old baby, but it barely fit her! We also put her in her first gold bracelet, which Auntie Laxmi sent, which also barely fit her! She looked like such a South Indian princess...wearing her silk dress and gold!

She also had her first picture with Santa, which was fun. Boy, was there a big line for that one! Some of the other kids cried, but Maya was giggling and as jolly as Santa himself! She loves the attention...what a Gemini!

She has been very grabby lately. She likes to reach out and touch things with her hands. She is always grabbing Dada's mustache, nose, hair, and chest hair! Sometimes when I hold her, she tries to search for that mustache and looks at me like "Why don't you have one like Dada?" And she goes absolutely crazy when Mama uses the hairdryer. It's the most interesting thing right now, to watch Mama do her hair in the morning!

Our good friends Frances and Dickson, had their little boy last week - Darcy Poon, or as I like to call him, "Mister Darcy". She is thrilled with the arrival of another little boyfriend! Her third boyfriend, to be exact!

We are so looking forward to Christmas, and all the family festivities. Maybe she will have her first snow?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Funny outtakes from our Christmas card photoshoot

How hard is it to take a group shot with a squirmy 6 month old? Almost near impossible!!! 
This month, we attempted to take several pictures - Maya's 5 month birthday, Diwali, and most recently, a picture of all 3 of us for our Christmas card. In each session, we took about 30 pictures, but only 1 or 2 turned out. 
Over the weekend, we tried to photograph ourselves under natural light and with a timer, and it was so hard!!! It was easier for Diwali when we did our group shot with the flash, because then Maya was looking directly at the camera, entranced by the flashing light. This time we had nothing for her to look at around the camera so she didn't know we were taking pictures. She was like, "Yay! Mummy and Daddy are on the mat playing with me!" And we were like, "This is so frustrating! We only have 30 seconds before she spits up on her dress!"
Below are funny outtakes of our Christmas Card photo shoot. Welcome to the chaos of infant-hood!!
 Note to self: clean the house before using a wide-angle lens!

These photos truly represent the madness of infant-hood ..and the fact that you just have to surrender to it. The piles of laundry and ironing, being on the baby's schedule and not on yours, and letting go of whatever your definition of what perfect was/is. It's so chaotic, that you just have to laugh at it and have fun with it. And once we realized that we probably weren't going to get a proper picture (once we surrendered to the madness) we got a great candid shot of the 3 of us!

And finally, this year's Christmas card:

I think it turned out pretty well - totally my photojournalistic style. After all, that's how life is - candid, not posed all the time! Whatever...we yield to the chaos and we are proud of it!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Do you feel different being a mom?"

Today when I went to get my nails done, a friend of mine at the salon asked me a very important question that got me thinking. I've only gone in to the nail salon a few times since I've had the baby (hard to find the time) so he hadn't seen me that much. 
This time, he asked me a very interesting but common question: "Do you feel different being a mom?"

I was totally stumped for words. I said, "'s hard to explain..." in which I was so embarrassed because I am such an descriptive explainer about things!

So, do I feel different being a mom? 
Yes and no. (as if that helps!!)

Everything is different. I am different. But I'm also the same. (Only the moms will understand this feeling)

I live and breathe being a mom. I love it so much. I feel like it has defined me as a woman, wife, and a human being. It has made me stronger in my convictions, but also more patient in many ways. In my core, I feel like I am the same, but all the qualities that make me who I am are deeper. Basically, it has made me a better version of myself. Superwoman!

So, when they say "everything changes" it is true. You love the baby more than you love yourself. You give give give to this little creature so that she will be comforted and happy and confident and know that she is loved.

It's an amazing journey. Growing your child inside you and giving birth to a child...and caring for your child minute after minute...the endless kisses and hugs and feedings and diapers and naptime and bathtime and giggles and each glance in between.

And then, if I'm tired enough, sometimes I forget that I'm a mom! (only for, like, 2 seconds!)

The biggest thing I feel different about though, is my sense of purpose. Being a mom, I feel connected to a greater purpose. Greater than me, and her, and my husband. Greater than our families. Greater than this place and this time. Some kind of inter-galactic, Earth-momma, higher power, almost god-like purpose. Just by having her, and raising her, to be her own human being, to go off in to the world someday.

So there, that's my utmost best explanation! 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Maternity leave around the world

Recently in the news, you may have heard that the UK is planning to give the option of "shared parental leave" in which the mothers and/or the fathers can take off work. This is a great option, considering how nowadays many women earn more than their husbands. Still, though, with breastfeeding, women remain the sole food sources (don't you wish husbands could breastfeed too?)

I was thrilled when I went on maternity leave - I felt so lucky that I lived in a country (Canada) that supports the parent/child bond. Plus, how can you throw them in daycare when they can't even walk yet? Here you get 52 weeks off work with 55% of your pay. Not to mention, the dads can apply for paternal leave for 35 weeks. And on top of that, every child gets a cheque of $100 a month for child-related costs AND another cheque based on your combined income (anywhere from $30 - $100).

So what does maternity leave look like around the world?

Sweden - 68 weeks off work with 80% pay, can be split between mums/dads.
Croatia & Serbia & Denmark - 52 weeks off work at FULL pay.
UK - 52 weeks off work with 90% pay.
Norway - 46 weeks off work with FULL pay and the dad is required t.o take 12 weeks off minimum.
Canada - noted above!
Albania - 52 weeks off work: 6 months with 80% pay, 6 months with 50% pay.
Cuba - 18 weeks off work at full pay, and 40 weeks at 60% pay.
France - 16 weeks off work with FULL pay, and up to 3 years off work with job protection, and money from the government for childcare, nannies, allowances.
Brazil - 4 months off work, full pay (BUT free childcare until age 6)

China - 12 weeks off work, full pay.
Malaysia - 8 weeks off work, full pay.
India - 12 weeks off work, full pay.
Japan - 14 weeks off work, 67% pay.
UAE - 5 weeks off work, full pay.
Tanzania - 11 weeks, full pay (but only once every 3 years minimum)
Papua New Guinea - 12 weeks off work, unpaid.
USA - 12 weeks off, unpaid (but only if you work in a company that has more than 50 people)

The differences are huge between the best and the worst - you can tell which countries are more family oriented. Norway has the great idea that the dads are required to take 3 months off - because mums aren't the only ones who are kept up all night! And the UAE is by far the worst - only 5 weeks? Milk production hasn't even reached proper levels at that time! The USA is truly shocking. Not only does it cost thousands of dollars to have your baby in the hospital, but then you only get 12 weeks off with NO PAY, only if you work for a big company. And don't get me started on the American health insurance...ugh! That was truly a deciding factor for us when we chose to move back to Canada, which I am so so so grateful for.

My maternity leave ends this June, and since it started, I have christened this "the year of fun" where I get to just enjoy my baby. Every day I try to do something fun with her and just live in the moment, to take it all in. Life with a baby moves so quickly and if you blink you'll miss a big milestone. I'm also using this year to focus on my health - eating right, getting outside - because there's nothing more scary than feeling physically handicapped for 9 months as I was during my pregnancy. I've also been using this time to reflect about the future, about what I'll do after - whether it is to return to work part-time or just continue to stay at home. Who knows? I'm just living in the moment, until next June!
The 52 weeks off is crucial for reflection - everything changes when you have a baby. You can't decide anything in a few weeks with such a major life shift. Plus, it is so important to get to know your baby - their rhythms - and not to mention, so special as a parent/child bond.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Celebrating Diwali

This year was Maya's first Diwali, which is a very important Hindu holiday. 
It is celebrated as largely as Christmas in the West. Sometimes it is called "the festival of lights" as many diyas and firecrackers are lit. The lights symbolize the victory of good over evil, and light over darkness. For an individual, it also represents choosing knowledge (inner light) over ignorance.
That is why I love this holiday - the meaning of celebrating is so poignant. It is said that when you choose awareness over ignorance, your true spirit is able to break through and one obtains inner peace.

This year we celebrated at the Mahalakshmi Temple in Vancouver. This is the temple we were married in & had Maya's 21st day punyajanam. This temple has always been very kind to us and it is run by a family from Bangalore. There were a handful of foreigners there, but mostly Indians. They were doing a beautiful Lakshmi puja when we arrived. It was wonderful to see everyone dressed up in their traditional wear. My husband said you could tell which of the women were South Indian because they were the ones wearing silk sarees. We dressed Maya in her outfit that my husband had brought from Hyderabad. It was supposed to be for a 1 year old baby but it fit perfectly! We wanted to match her orange dress so we wore our matching outfits from our wedding reception in Hyderabad.

Next year we are aiming to celebrate either Diwali or Dussehra in Hyderabad. This will be mine & baby's first Diwali in India. Even though I've been 3x, we always miss Diwali! As I remember from celebrating Holi in Delhi, Indians are fabulous at celebrating these holidays, so I can't wait! And Diwali is the biggest one of them all...

Happy Diwali
தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள்
దీపావళి శుభాకా౦క్షలు
दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

5 months old!

Please excuse my delayed write-up - this month went by way too fast! Usually I’m very conscious about the 7th approaching - mentally planning out her birthday outfit, and looking at the calendar each day saying, “it’s almost here!” This month, the 7th crept up on me and I looked at the calendar and said “Oh crap, are you kidding me? 5 months already?!”
Hmmm…maybe it was the rolling over, the crawling, the squealing, the solid-feeding…or the all around non-stop beautiful chaos that is infant-hood. Yes, that’s right… she’s not a newborn, she’s an infant! This month in a nutshell is one word: LIVELY!
The biggest event that happened after her 4 month birthday was the big roll over. This was very monumental. I had her on her play mat and I went to the washroom and came back and she was on her tummy. I almost had a heart attack! And then once she did it, she wouldn't stop doing it! Every time she’s on her back, she swings around to her tummy, even when she’s on the changing table (which I really have to watch out for!) 
Once that started, she couldn't wait to get going places. She’s kind of in the pre-crawling stage. She does little push-ups and wriggles around and shouts out, and moves herself very slowly towards her target (a toy, of course) She is figuring out the coordination of using her arms and legs at the same time to move herself.
We started her on solids early, under the advice of our doctor, because she had already doubled her birth weight and seemed curious about food. We feed her pablum in the evenings and she just loves it. It took her a few days how to figure out eating with a spoon, but then she learned. Now she gulps it so fast and opens her mouth and lunges forward when she sees the spoon coming. Now, when we take her out to dinner (if she’s not napping) she likes to sit on my lap at the table like the little lady that she is!
This month she had her first Halloween, which was so much fun. We dressed her as a little pink elephant and she loved all the attention! We did all the activities with her - pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating, etc. Last year I was too nauseous with morning sickness to enjoy any candies and I was dreaming about this year, having a little one to dress up. Next year, she will be walking on her own and probably picking out her own costume!
Just recently, she had her first day over with Grammy & Grampy Robinson, away from Mummy and Daddy (we took our first official date away from her, by going to see James Bond. I think I remember the last 30 minutes of the movie, since it took me the first hour and a half just to calm down!) They said she was on her best behavior and that Ziggy loved stealing a lick of her toes.
We are just waiting with anticipation for the arrival of her first teeth. She has been teething for a few months now, and it feels very sharp, especially on the top. She’s drooling like crazy, with slobber constantly coming down like string cheese! We have to have a few bibs on hand at all times.
Her schedule is very predictable now. She sleeps for 12 hours at night from 8pm to 8am (although I still check on her every few hours!), and then feeds every 3.5 hours, and in between each feeding she has a 30 minute nap.
She loves her jolly jumper so much - she squeals and shouts and kicks herself so high up in the air. Her legs are getting really strong now, that I have so many bruises on my thighs and tummy. Her favorite part of the day is when Daddy gives her a bath. Sometimes she surprises him with a big pee in the baby tub right before he starts (hey, at least that’s better than peeing ON him, en route to the bath, as she did on me a few times!) Before, her massage, he gives her a big tickle on her neck and tummy with his mustache and she just laughs so hard. She is very ticklish on her little tummy!
As always, she loves going out for walks. I have a rain cover that I put on her stroller and she looks at the rain droplets and tries to grab them.
Until next month,
A & M & M


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Maya's first Halloween

Halloween is totally one of my favorite times of the year. 
The beautiful fall colors, the scary decorations, the candy, the creative costumes, pumpkin carving, and of course my annual tradition of watching a horror movie.

This year was Maya's first Halloween, so of course I jumped at the chance of celebrating it all together. Hey, I don't care if she doesn't know what Halloween is...she's going in a costume and we're taking her trick-or-treating!

Like we do every year, my husband did the Halloween decorations for our house, complete with 3 fog machines, motion-activated hanging ghosts, mummified rats in the yard, and dismembered body parts coming out of the soil. Ours was definitely the best house on the block!

This year we went to the pumpkin patch at Richmond Country Farms, which I hadn't been to since I was little. They had farm animals, a singing corn-on-the-cob, mini donuts and hot chocolate, and a tractor hay ride to 2 large pumpkin patch fields. 

You get one bag per adult and you can fill it with as many pumpkins as you like. If you want extra bags it costs $3/bag, which is way cheaper than the $8 pumpkin I got from Safeway! The only thing is that you have to carry the pumpkins back yourself, which didn't really make a difference to me since I've become quite a bodybuilder carrying around my 19lb baby all the time!

On the tractor hay ride there were lots of sing-songs which Maya loved. Luckily we went on a sunny day, but it was very muddy due to the heavy rains the week before. There were tons of pumpkins to choose from, of all shapes and sizes. Some parents brought their strollers but I put Maya in hr carrier so the stroller wouldn't get muddy. 

We came back and carved the pumpkins over the next few days - challenging to find the time while watching the baby. Sometimes we carved them after she went to sleep for the night. We usually do 6 pumpkins but this year we only did 4.

Halloween day came and it just poured pounding rain the whole evening! We got Maya dressed up in her costume, which husband got from NYC. It was soooooo cute!!! My parents came over and we all had pizza and played with the baby. Then they watched the house while we took her to a few neighbors' houses for trick-or-treating. There are tons of kids in our area but due to the heavy rain we only got about 5 trick-or-treaters.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cheapest baby products in Vancouver

(Babyville at the Superstore)

If you're a mom, you always buy baby products in bulk - because the last thing you need is to run out of diapers at 2am! And what you definitely don't need is to buy baby products that are marked up - especially when you're getting 5 of them at a time!
The cheapest prices are in bold:

Shoppers Drug Mart
Pampers Baby Dry Diapers (112 count) - $34.99
Huggies Simply Clean Wipes (216 count) - $10.99
Diaper Genie Refill - $11.29
Good Start Probiotic Formula Powder (640g) - $31.99

London Drugs
Pampers Baby Dry Diapers (112 count) - $29.99
Huggies Simply Clean Wipes (216 count) - $9.99
Good Start Probiotic Formula Powder (640g) - $29.99
Medela Microwave Steam Bags - $14.99
Vaseline Baby (375g) - $5.49
Travel size Vaseline - $2.99
Johnson's baby oil (591ml) - $5.99

Pampers Baby Dry Diapers (100 count) - $39.99
Huggies Simply Clean Wipes (400 count) - $14.59
Good Start Probiotic Formula Powder (730g) - $28.99
Johnson's baby oil (591ml) - $5.99

Babies R Us
Pampers Baby Dry Diapers (120 count) - $31.99 
Huggies Simply Clean Wipes (216 count) - $9.99 

Diaper Genie Refill - $8.99
Good Start Probiotic Formula Powder (640g) - $30.99

Tj's Kids
Medela Microwave Steam Bags - $13.99
Avent pacifier (2 pack) - $8.39

Real Canadian Superstore

Pampers Baby Dry Diapers (204 count) - $33.76
Huggies Simply Clean Wipes (184 count) - $5.99
Good Start Probiotic Formula Powder (730g) - $28.97
Johnson's baby oil (591ml) - $3.97

Medela Microwave Steam Bags - $12.49
Avent pacifier (2 pack) - $7.99
Milupa Rice Cereal Starter - $3.97

Some of the price differences are huge here - the same pack of diapers is $10 more at Safeway than it is at London Drugs! The majority of the products are cheaper at the Superstore, except for the wipes surprisingly - which are the cheapest at Babies R Us or London Drugs.

* prices valid Fall 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Things about childbirth nobody tells you

(My belly, past due!)

Childbirth is every woman's rite of passage into motherhood. It truly is a journey into the unknown, unique to you. Some are easy, some are hard - nevertheless, impossible to predict or control. During my first pregnancy I was asking everyone "what does it feel like?" and nobody could give me a detailed explanation! (To their defense, after childbirth is over, it does all feel like a blur!)
So since it is still fresh in my mind, here is my best account of the things about childbirth that nobody tells you:

1. You feel so relieved after. Seriously. All the pressure in your belly is gone. It's like you can breathe again!

2. You're doing all the work. Whatever kind of doctor you have, whether you're surrounded by people, or nobody's there - all the mental and physical strength you go through, this process is all up to you! The pro/con is that you're doing it all by yourself. After, you'll feel so proud and strong. I've heard from many women that after birth they feel so confident in themselves - I as well said, "if I can do that, then I can do anything!" It is truly empowering for a woman.

3. This is really what a contraction feels like: you see a big hill in front of you and you sprint up it really fast, then you come over the top and come down the hill. It's like a series of hills, some big and some small. You can feel the contraction coming on and coming off.

4. What you think you'll want changes once you're in it. I thought I could eat something or take a shower in between contractions. But for some reason I did NOT want to do that! I didn't want to go near any kind of water at all, and I didn't have an appetite. I also had planned out that it would only be me and my husband. But in early labor, I wanted my father in the house. Not with us, but I wanted him in the next room.

5. Your hips and legs hurt from being wide open for so long, like you're doing the splits!

6. Breast feeding is waaay harder than I thought. You don't know what to do. The baby doesn't know what to do. Don't worry, this is a learned skill. Don't expect to know it right off the bat.

7. You go into your own galaxy. It's all a blur. You don't know what you're saying, you don't know what you're doing. You're just getting through it!

If you're reading this and you're currently expecting, be confident and good luck! Remember, this is what our bodies were meant to do!

Friday, October 26, 2012

This blog: musings on motherhood

So we got pregnant. It was the longest 9 months ever.
Then we had her (in 4 hours!) Our beautiful daughter, perfect in every way.

When I got pregnant When I realized I was pregnant (at 8 weeks!!) everything changed for me. I really reflected on everything in my life as I became aware that life as I knew it, was about to completely change.
I went into hibernation just like a caterpillar in a cocoon. And when I came out of it - when I became a mom - I became this butterfly. Still the same as I was before, but accepting my new direction and just going for it.

Being a parent is the most important job I will ever have. I take the responsibility very seriously, but in a fun way! I'm excited to be a parent and to navigate through this amazing journey with our new family.
I have so much on my mind regarding this amazing new path that I'm going to use this blog as a vehicle for my thoughts on modern motherhood - with a range of topics including parenting, marriage, pregnancy, style, books, our multicultural family,  etc. 

Basically, my unsolicited advice on everything related to motherhood - y'know, because just because I had one child... I'm an expert and everything! :)

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