Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebrating Indian Republic Day

(Us in our Republic Day party outfits)

One of the things I love to do is celebrate Indian holidays and festivals because it enhances my knowledge of Indian culture. This week, we were pleased to attend a lovely celebration of Indian Republic Day, which was thrown by the Vancouver Consul General of India, Ravi Aisola. He has a lot in common with husband-ji, as they are both from similar areas in Hyderabad. There were a bunch of celebs there, including Vikram Vij and Wally Oppal, among others.

The event was lovely, and it really focused on celebrating Indo-Canadian relations. There was a big speech from the Minister of Advanced Education, Indo-Canadian Amrik Virk, which celebrated the deep connection our province has with India. They lit the flame as per Republic Day custom, and talked about the partition, and the creation of the government. Then they sung the Indian national anthem, followed by the Canadian national anthem. After that, there was several traditional performances by Shiamak Davar's famous dance troupe, which was absolutely spectacular. They performed many dances, including: Bharat Natyam, Mohiniyattam, Bhangra, a Bollywood style, an an Indian modern dance.

(My favorite dance performance was the Mohiniyattam dance which originates from Kerala)

Hearing Jana Gana Mana actually made me a little homesick for India. And seeing such a fantastic array of dance performances from the different states, was a true reflection of how beautifully diverse India really is. There were a few foreigners there, but not too many. It was mostly just us, in a crowd full of Indians, me with my traditional Indian attire.....and I oddly felt quite at home...

(My silk saree)

Of course, I couldn't miss an occasion to wear one of my beloved silk saree's! I had picked out a beautiful electric blue silk saree that I had purchased from my favorite shop, Nalli Silks, in Hyderabad. It was a true show-stopper, and I matched it with all my wedding jewelry, including a beautiful gold necklace that was given to me from my MIL. I looked like quite the Iyengar wife that night!

One of the things I love about going to an Indian event is seeing what the other women are wearing. It was so nice to go to a fancy party where everyone was wearing their finest sarees. I can't wait to go back to India and purchase more outfits! I just love Indian attire...

It was fantastic wearing the saree again, and I really wish I could wear it every day! (maybe I will, on our next India trip) It is so freakin' comfortable, and it really made me feel like a queen. Maya loved my saree and was trying to cuddle in it (she has good taste!) I didn't have any trouble wrapping it, as I am now a total pro! Even the Deputy Consul General's wife said I carried it perfectly. There is just something about wearing a saree - that it just makes you stand taller!

Videos of the Shiamak Davar dance performances:

Introduction dance

Second dance

Bharat Natyam



Dear readers, what Indian holidays do you like? How did you celebrate Republic Day?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Differences in parenting (during a sleep regression)

(Our lil angel!)

On our journey in becoming parents, there are so many different parenting styles that we are faced with (co-sleep or crib? Baby led-weaning or spoon-feed? Free play or structured play?) And don't even get me started on the tricky area of SLEEP!

Not only does the average couple have differences in parenting - but the intercultural couple usually has more of the differences (mainly due to cultural differences in child-rearing). We have been pretty good about our parenting styles, and we've actually clashed less that I thought we would.

But...over the holidays we clashed a bit over a sleep issue. Parents - have you ever heard of a sleep regression? Well, let me tell's a bitch! Your child is sleeping perfectly through the night for months, and then...BAM! All of a sudden, she's up....all the time. We totally turned from happy, normal parents into schizophrenic, bickering zombies!

Sleep regressions can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It is a natural occurrence in a child's growth, and it is very common. They usually occur during a child's growth spurt, and can be intensified by teething. A sleep regression can also mean that your child's sleep patterns are changing. Oh, parents...we are so flexible!

Babies may have sleep regressions at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years. They may have all of these sleep regressions, or just a few of them. I remember Maya had hers at 4 months, 9 months, 12 months, and now at 17-19 months.

This recent sleep regression was by far, THE WORST. The other ones lasted for 3-4 weeks...and this one lasted for TWO MONTHS! We thought our little angel would never return back to normal! But alas, she if nothing ever happened!

During this time, we clashed on how to handle this sleep regression. Husband-ji used to comfort her by going into her room and holding her in the rocking chair for up to SIX hours - and then he would be a mess the next day because he had got no sleep. My idea was that she needs to be put down to sleep horizontally - so she needs to sleep either in the crib, or with us. Of course, husband-ji did not want to listen to me.... and then he finally admitted that he secretly liked to hold her, since he misses her when he is at work all day. I thought that was sweet - but then I said, "What good will all that do if you're not sleeping? It's not healthy!" So then he finally gave in, and we brought her to sleep in our bed for a week or two. And then soon enough, her sleep regression was over, and we put her back in the crib at night.

Another thing we clashed over is what TIME to put her to sleep (I know - sleep issue AGAIN!) Husband-ji wanted to "put her to bed whenever she's tired", except the bedtime kept pushing later and later...and all of a sudden, Maya was sleeping at 11pm! It was almost as if she was jet-lagged. So, then, (ever the mother) I had to put my foot down. I consulted my other mom friends who have children slightly older, or the same age - and they all said that they have a strict bedtime at 8pm. And then I remembered how at my grandmother's house, she always had dinner on the table at 6pm, and bedtime was at 8pm. Kids do thrive on routines!

The only thing, was that I had to convince husband-ji of this. He thought I was being "really strict", because apparently "there is no baby schedule in India" - but even my MIL agreed with me that "children should eat in a timely manner, and sleep in a timely manner". I told him that I was not being strict - that I merely knew by my mother's instinct what time she was ready for bed, and as MIL had said - it was more about "timely good habits". Of course, I had to word it in a very sensitive way, with the help of dear MIL on my side...

Husband-ji was off work during the holidays, my inlaws were visiting, and Maya didn't have any of her baby classes going on. So, I let it go for a little while, but I did warn husband-ji that these late-night sleep habits were only temporary - because her swimming classes were starting again in January. And he agreed to that, thank god! So it all worked itself out, in the end...

In terms of parenting, I haven't been right about everything (although I'd like to think I am!) but sleep seems to be my area of expertise in our parenting relationship. Husband-ji has been right about the issue of feeding - often times I used to be scared that Maya was not eating enough, so I'd overfeed her until she'd vomit...and husband-ji said "she will eat when she's hungry", and now I go by his advice.

Luckily we haven't had too many clashes - we both have the same idea of neat-eating, ideas of discipline, potty-training, and we are both on point about her naps. And we have different "play" styles - but of course, in that, it is good to be different.

Clashes in parenting styles are kind of like a tango dance - you take a step, I take a step...I let you lead, you let me lead. It's definitely a compromise. Sometimes husband-ji has to compromise to me, and I to him. But whatever the style - you have to do what works best for your family. What matters is that we are a team. And if it isn't working, then there are endless methods to choose from! 

As fellow parents say, whatever works!!!


Related articles:


What do you think, dear readers? As parents, have you ever dealt with a sleep regression? What things do you clash about as parents - sleep, feeding, discipline, etc?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Aloo Masala Capsicum

Lately I have been following my MIL's advice & been back in the kitchen daily, and I have totally rediscovered my love for cooking again! (Hey, at least I stuck to one of my New Years resolutions, right?)

One of my favorite recipes to prepare is Aloo Masala Capsicum. "Capsicum" is what Indians call "Bell Pepper". It is a delicious, aromatic everyday dish.

For this recipe, I like to cook all the vegetables separately, and then add the spices in.

Madh Mama's Aloo Masala Capsicum

Serves 2 people (and a baby!)

- 1 large potato
- 1/2 red onion
- 2 Capsicum/Bell Pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp ground coriander powder
- 3/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste (can be purchased at Indian grocer in the refrigerator section)
- 6 tbsp oil (either vegetable, sunflower or peanut oil works well)

- medium saute pan
-potato peeler



1. Chop the onion

2. Chop the Capsicum into 1 inch pieces

3. Peel & chop the potato into 1 inch pieces

4. Turn the pan on to medium heat and pour in 2 tbsp oil and let it heat up for a minute.

5. Put onions in the pan and stir, coating them with oil. Stir again after 2 minutes.

6. After an additional 2 minutes, put it 1 tbsp of ginger/garlic paste.

7. Let the onions cook until they are see-through (about 4 minutes after putting ginger/garlic paste). 

(Onions done)

8. Set onions aside in a bowl.

9. Use the same pan to cook the Capsicum - pour in 2 tbsp oil and let it heat up for a minute. Then pour in the chopped capsicum and stir.

10. Stir once, every two minutes, for a total of 8 minutes, or until the skin of the capsicum buckles.

11. Set Capsicum aside, in the bowl along with the onions.

12. Use the same pan to cook the Potato - pour in 2 tbsp oil and let it heat up for a minute. Then pour in the potato & stir.

13. Stir once, every 3 minutes, for a total of 9 minutes.

14. Then, put in the spices (salt, coriander powder) and stir as the potatoes are still cooking.

15. Cook for an additional 13 minutes, or until the potatoes are fully done.

16. Throw in the other cooked vegetables (onion & capsicum) and sprinkle 3/4 tsp chilli powder. Stir.

17. Let it cook for an additional 3 minutes.


Serve with basmati rice, or chapati.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Venice for (vegetarian) foodies!

My parents just got back from their favorite place on Earth - Venice - and we are planning another trip, yet again! Hopefully we will be able to return some time this year with Maya.

Until then, I will be dreaming about the delicious food...


Caprese Salad - at Osteria Al Pesador

Insalata Verde - at Algiubalgio

Fried Vegetables - at Beccafico

Ricotta-stuffed grilled vegetables - at Ca Sagredo Hotel

Main Courses

Spaghetti Pomodoro with mozzarella - at Algiubalgio

Conchiglie Pomodoro with a dollop of Burrata cheese - at Ca Sagredo Hotel

Red Pesto Spaghetti - at Beccafico

Thin crust pizza - at Beccafico

Parmesan souffle with peas puree - at Hotel Monaco

Vegetable risotto with peas and zucchini - at Hotel Monaco

Eggplant Parmigiana - at Hotel Monaco

Vegetable ravioli - at Caffe Vergnano Venezia Rialto

Falafel & hummus - at Luna Sentada

Balinese Vegetable Curry - at Luna Sentada


Ricotta & pistachio gelato - at Grom

Tiramisu & Chocolate gelato - near Algiubalgio

Chocolate & Hazelnut; Ricotta & Dark Chocolate - at Grom

Sweet Tartes - near Campo Santi Apostoli

Dark Chocolate gelato - near Campo San Luca

Venetian doughnuts - at Q Food 

Wild Strawberry Cake - at Pasticceria Ballerin

Cocoa Gelato with chopped strawberries and pistachios - at Luna Sentada

Tiramisu in jars - at Luna Sentada


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I learned from my Mother-in-law

So, now that my MIL has left, after a 3 month visit....what did I learn from her?

During her visit, she set the smoke alarm off twice from making her poori's, she read about 30 detective novels, we watched handfuls of movies, and she was deathly scared of the dreaded dishwasher. We shared lots of laughs, meaningful discussions, and she helped my get back to my normal self after being sick.

I mean, seriously. This woman dropped everything that she was doing (helping my SIL) to come and help me and we aren't even related! Hey, aren't I supposed to be HER slave..? (LOL) My MIL was a god-send. And not only did she help me - but she helped husband-ji, Maya, and my parents by giving us all moral support. I love my MIL so much, and I will never forget that she came to help me.

I feel like I learned so much from her during this visit. And it helped that we got along great, too! I think I learned more this time, because I was ready to be taught. Other times, I thought I could do everything and didn't need the advice. But this time - I wanted advice on how to balance my responsibilities - so I was more open to her teaching me. And who better to learn about juggling responsibilities than an Indian MIL? The ultimate 8-armed goddess!!!

What I learned from my MIL....

Cook fresh every day
Yes, it is tedious. But there is something to be said about the healthiness of cooking fresh produce every single day. The great thing was that my MIL taught me how to make 3 things at once (Rasam-Sambar-Vegetable curry) - the ultimate in my South Indian wifey training! My MIL refused to put anything in the refrigerator and barely used the microwave because she wanted every meal to be served fresh. She practically had a heart-attack when my aunt suggested that she make freezer meals for us! (LOL!!!!)

Husband is the first priority
My MIL was always instructing me to spend time with husband-ji after we put the baby to bed. She said even if we are each doing different activities (like reading, or watching a movie) just be in the same room together. She would also encourage us to go on our date nights to reconnect. This is quite different from the traditional Indian MIL who hogs her kids! (See? I told you she was different!)

Wake up early and exercise
My MIL said that I should wake up an hour before my daughter gets up, so that I can exercise and focus on my health. I think she gave me this advice because she wished that she would have done this when she was my age. Now she has a lot of health problems due to the build-up of not taking care of herself for so many years.

The importance of education
Okay, I'll admit it - we totally take education for granted, because everyone in Canada has free access to education until age 18. And as a parent, I like to encourage independence and times of free imaginative play. My MIL came when Maya was 17 months old and she was just getting ready to talk. Ever the teacher, my MIL spent countless hours every day teaching her words and colors. By the time she left, Maya was speaking 30+ words. It was amazing how much she learned. It made me really think that education is so important for kids, because they are just like sponges - devouring information. They want to learn. To be honest, as a first-time parent, I didn't know what I was supposed to talk about to my toddler. But now, my MIL has showed me how to teach her!

Always take the high road
In our many discussions about life, my MIL taught me that no matter what others do to you, no matter how they behave - don't let it spoil your behaviour. To always preserve one's own dignity and character, and not react to others if they are being rude to you. Never stoop to others' levels.

Let it go
One of the things that happened while my MIL was here was that I made up with my SIL after our fight. I didn't want to make up with her (I would have been more comfortable being my stubborn self!), but my FIL requested me to do so. I decided to phone her and wish her happy birthday, and we spoke on the phone as if nothing had happened (Indian-style! LOL!) It felt really good to talk to her and to let our fight go, and get back to normal. It was freeing, for all of us, I think.

The importance of REST
My MIL was always instructing me to sleep well and eat well, in a timely manner - both for me and the baby. Our moods can get so off-centre by not eating or sleeping properly. As a seasoned mother, she told me to rest when the baby rests, and eat when the baby eats - because she knows how tiring raising children is. Before, I thought - Maya sleeps for 11 hours at night, and I only need 8 hours, so I can do chores while she is sleeping. But now, as soon as she goes to bed - I am in bed too - not sleeping, but resting or reading. Just to recharge. I have followed this advice since she left, and it has made a huge difference in my energy levels. I think also that this reflects the larger message of balancing my life - everything in moderation. Besides, if you are eating well and sleeping well - there's no stress!

Family is what it's all about
I didn't socialize too much when my MIL was here, as I wanted to spend the time bonding with her and learning from her. My MIL is a total homebody and she rarely goes out. I always joke with her that she's like those Indian grandmothers who is constantly peering out the window! (Hahahaha!) It was really nice to have a sense of togetherness while she was here - through all the family events of Halloween, and Christmas time - it was uplifting to spend time with family. We did a lot of family dinners and hang-outs and I think it was the most beneficial for Maya.

So, as you can tell - my MIL is an INCREDIBLE lady and I'm missing her a lot. Most of all I miss her companionship since we have a really nice friendship.


Dear readers, what have you learned from your MILs or other relatives?


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On unplugging

One of my New Year's resolutions (which I forgot to mention in my NYE post) is to spend more time "unplugged". By unplugged, I mean relatively long stretches of not being on the internet - to just absorb life.

Nowadays, everyone has smart phones with all our email accounts and social media in one place.  Incredibly convenient, yes. But overload? Kinda!! Even if you open your mobile to check the time, you will get bombarded with this notification and that notification, until suddenly you are on your mobile/iPad/computer for hours on end. The world has become just too fast-paced. There are constant updates, and everyone wants to be in the know

I mostly use my phone for it's most beloved feature - the camera - to take pictures of Miss Maya. Then, I can edit the pictures and upload them, without having to transfer it to the main computer. And, as every mum knows - having everything in one place can be a total time saver! And as parents - time-savers make our lives easier!

As a photography student - it is natural for me to document everyday life and capture moments. I am quite comfortable doing that - and I use it more as an art form - as a way of showing how I see the world. My father used to take endless pictures of me - and it's so fun to look back at them. And my grandparents also loved photography - and their photos are my most beloved keepsakes. 

But...anything that involves instant gratification goes hand in hand with addiction. I can't even go to a bank nowadays without seeing the teller - who is ON THE JOB - checking his Facebook. WTF?!?!?! Really...?!?! Or all those people at romantic restaurants, sitting at their phones the entire time. It has become quite robotic. It is a digital VORTEX!

Of course I love being online - connecting with others, and staying up to date with all my news stories...but I've been thinking lately that it's just as important to unplug, too. To take the time to oneself to enjoy the undigital life. To absorb the natural world with true focus.

In my photography courses, we talked about this concept a lot - especially in documentary photography. Sometimes moments are just too sacred to whip out a camera and document it. My Native American professor, Zig Jackson - once said this about wanting to photograph a Native American pooja, but felt it would be intrusive to do so. And then, he just enjoyed it, and let the moment pass. He always said that as a photographer, it is hard to know what moments are too sacred. It is like a sixth sense.

I've also been thinking about this a lot because Maya loves to watch her cartoons, like Dora the Explorer. She could probably watch it for hours, which will definitely come in handy on a long flight - but not so much for every day. I want her to use her imagination, to role-play, to learn, and to play outside and "get some fresh air" (as we Canadians say) I have to monitor her screen time - because it IS addictive. Then I realized, if I need to monitor her screen time - then I also need to monitor my own. Of course, I only noticed it about her first and not me! Isn't that so true about parenting, though? You notice things about yourself, in your children, first...

I recently experimented with this during the New Year - before my inlaws left and all the way through our anniversary vacation to Seattle, AND even when I got back. I just wanted to enjoy, without any distractions at all. I basically went on vacation mode, checking my email only once in a while, just to make sure nobody had died or the house didn't get burnt down! And when we got back from vacation, I wanted to calmly concentrate on fully balancing my responsibilities (without any help, again) so I don't get too overwhelmed and land my ass in the hospital again or screw up my immune system (total wake up call!)

Of course, I wish my dad would do it too. My parents are currently on vacation in Venice and my dad is sending five emails per day. Asking if the roof is leaking. Asking if we got back already from Seattle. Asking if we did this and that. Like, HELLOOOO!! Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?!?!?! did it feel to unplug? Damn good! I felt more calm, I slept better, I felt more grateful, I felt more in the moment....and no disasters happened - the digital life was fully on pause until my return. It was freakin' fantastic! And I feel so refreshed after doing it. It was kind of like a cleanse!

Going forward, I'm going to do this more often in my daily life and set limits of moderation. Like reserving special time to check my phone at a certain time of day and limit my use - literally with a timer, if I have to! And especially on vacations - completely unplug. And actually use my Canon camera, for a change!

Recently, I saw this study online that was done by this teenage girl (teenage genius!!) who correlated the amount of screen time with sleep, mood, and stress levels. This girl's study went on to win scholarships and awards. Click HERE to read her interesting study. It was brilliant and her findings were so true...

Related articles:

Related video:


Dear readers, in what way do you unplug from the digital world and what benefits do you see from doing so? Do you think it is addictive how convenient the online world is?


Monday, January 13, 2014

Things I've learned from blogging & "Best Personal Blog"!


My little bloggy-boo has won "Best Personal Blog" by reader's choice for Nepali Australian's Annual blog awards!!! I had some stiff competition and I really didn't think that I would win. In fact, I was so hopeless about it - that I didn't even vote for myself! But alas, my Madh readers pulled through!

A sincere thank you goes out to all of my readers - I love the interaction with each and every one of you! I originally started this blog as a way to free my expressions and thoughts, and it sort of became this public diary. I have been adamant about staying true to myself - no matter what - writing about literally anything that strikes a chord in me. I have often said that I do not write for others - but I am so thankful that I have dedicated readers on this journey with me! Some are silent readers, some are constant commenters - either way - I love you all!

Along this journey, I have learned so much about myself, I have learned so much about others (who I wouldn't have met otherwise), and by putting it ALL out has made me more courageous.

So, in celebration of this award, I've decided to do a list of the top things I've learned from blogging....

1) Be original
One of the things I pride myself in is being original and genuine. I only write about things I'm PASSIONATE about. Some days, it's a serious topic about current affairs, some days it's about relationships, and some days it's a recipe post. I like to post on a variety of things because that way it shows my well-rounded, complex nature. I really couldn't care about what is a controversial topic. Oftentimes, the things I've been most scared to write about are the posts that help others. Many of the other Whindian bloggers have gone "Indian-style" and only talk about the good stuff so as not to offend their inlaws (which many are still winning over - it's a long process!) Well...been there, done that, next! Eight years in, and I'm ready to talk about it all. 

2) There are others like you
Have you ever wondered - are there others out there in the world, who have gone through things that I have? YES. There are!!! And the others are looking for you too. I used to wonder if there were any others out there, like us - Whindian couples, Tamil Iyengars, blended families like us...who can understand the complexities of Indian family dynamicsWas I the only one? Hell no....there are thousands of us, all across the globe, and we are all trying to find each other. We are all so connected to each other. Not to mention, I also discovered others with common interests like feminism, a love for India, other married couples, and fellow parents. Thank you, internet...! It has become my little online community of MADH-ness!

3) Let your haters be your motivators
With all my Madh fans, there are, of course, a few haters. The good thing is that they are few and far between. We have gotten racist death threats against us and our child (with every single post I do). But alas, what people say and do - is a reflection of their own reality. And if anything, these internet trolls make me feel more grateful for our wonderful family (because they want what we have), and more confident in myself (because I, and I alone define who I am). If I choose to pause writing, it will be of my own accord - of my own free will - and I refuse to live in fear. I will keep telling my story, keep sharing my pictures, keep living my life - nobody's going to stop me, especially not some armchair assholes! Instead, I live thankful every day. And as my readers already know, I couldn't give a crap about what people think! 

4) You can't please everybody
Somebody, somewhere, will be getting offended even if your writing has nothing to do with them. You can't please everybody, and there are many people out there who will disagree with you AND take it to a personal level because it may trigger something that has happened in their life. You can't please everybody.
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” - Cyril Connolly

5) People won't always agree....
It's great to hear from people with different opinions because it can make you think about a different perspective. It's another way of embracing diversity!

6) .....But don't tolerate disrespect!
One thing I am firm with is that I allow disagreements - but NOT disrespectfulness. However, a lot of people simply don't know how to do that! Not my problem...!

7) Getting out there in the real world gives you something to write about
You can't experience life from behind a computer screen. Getting out everyday and having an adventure gives me endless material to write about. It's important to limit your writing time so it doesn't affect your living time. Only write when you absolutely feel like it, and get out there and live your life for the rest of the day. Continually having new experiences = personal growth + processing life = writing and reflecting.

8) Unplugging for insight
When I first started furiously writing, it all just bled out of me. I just wanted to get it all out. I just wanted to tell my story so bad, and I didn't know where to start. Being in recovery has taught me to set limits for myself, and create lots of moments that help balance out my life. Our culture (both East + West) glorifies being busy, goal-oriented people - but what good is all that if we cannot rest and process our life? I've grown to love the quiet moments where I just unplug from everything and breathe. You can get so much fortitude from quieting your mind. Taking writing breaks are as essential as writing itself. 

9) Discovering the self
Each post I do is like a letter to my self. I feel like I'm continually discovering my true self with each post. I really have no filter, at all (who needs a filter, anyway? totally overrated!!!!) It is interesting to look back and see how far I've come, within months even. Life is continually changing - continually blooming. Sometimes I re-read old posts and I can't believe that I wrote it. I think - I kinda like this girl! It's a vehicle for me to also get to know myself better and grow.

10) Sharing your story can help heal others and yourself
Sharing my story as it unfolds has been one of the most terrifying and liberating things that I have ever done. Every time I write my story, I feel freedom, in every sense of the word. All my triumphs and failures; moments of strength and vulnerability. I am continually searching. I am an open door, with a series of open doors all around me. And I have a loyal audience, many of my readers give me such great feedback and insightful comments that it changes my perspective. We all heal each other...

11) On being brave
It is a brave thing to put your life on display - your personal thoughts - along with your name AND face. That is why a lot of bloggers are anonymous. That also has a lot to do with blogger's professional careers - but seriously - if any employer doesn't like my opinions, then maybe I'm not the right fit for them any way! Also I feel by putting a few of our personal pictures up - makes people relate to us more. Like, hey! My daughter looks just like Maya too!

12) There are no rules
Your blog is YOUR space. There are no rules....kinda like life, in a way - being that you make your own rules! There is nothing you can't talk about. Go for it! Be honest - readers know when you're holding back; and most importantly YOU know when you're holding back. Be true to your inner voice, or else what's the point? Fearless writing affects people.


Fellow bloggers, what have you learned from blogging? Readers - what do you like about blogs, as opposed to newspapers and magazines, etc?


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our weekend trip to Seattle

The day after my inlaws left was our 8th anniversary (and husband-ji was still off work for the holidays) so we decided to do a quick vacation down to Seattle for the weekend. It was so much fun! It reminded me that we need to do little weekend trips like this more often.

I scheduled the trip for many reasons. The first - is that I wanted to celebrate our anniversary by doing something out of the ordinary, as a family. The second - because I wanted to see how Maya traveled again (the last time was our Venice trip, when she was 11 months). And thirdly - I knew we would all be missing my inlaws so much after they left, that we would all need a distraction!

Seattle is a 3 hour drive from Vancouver (1 hour to the U.S. border + 2 hours to Seattle). Since we had gotten our Nexus cards, we didn't have to wait in line at the border - a big convenience! It was so nice to not have to think about the border wait times when we were planning our trip. We decided to get in the car when Maya was ready for her nap and she slept the entire 3 hours and woke up just as we arrived at the hotel! It was such an easy drive - thank god!

We stayed at the Westin hotel downtown and it was very kid-friendly. On arrival, they gave us a little care package for the baby (with a rubber duckie, plug outlet covers, a night light, and band-aids). The Westin hotel group is known for it's soft "heavenly beds" and we were surprised to know that they also had a "heavenly crib"! We had stunning views of the waterfront and floor to ceiling windows and every day we would look at the sunrise and sunset. Maya also loved to look out the window and point to all the cars and boats.

(View from our hotel room at the Westin)

Since it was husband-ji's first time exploring Seattle, we had to do some sightseeing so he could do his photography. We went to the Space Needle, the Children's Museum, Pike Place Market, and then we did some shopping.

(Husband-ji and Maya - on the go!)

Almost right in front of the hotel was the monorail (similar to Vancouver's skytrain) which took us directly to the Space Needle. It was so convenient and only a 2 minute ride - and scenic too. The monorail was very safe and it was filled with families and tourists.

The Space Needle was nice - but there was no strollers allowed up - which was annoying! They didn't even really have proper stroller parking - you just leave the stroller outside. I thought anyone could just steal it as it was just sitting there, so we had to go back and get our Ergo baby carrier. By the time we did all that, Maya had a huge screaming attack on top of the Space Needle! Oh, parenthood...! 

(Maya's tantrum at the Space Needle...LOL!)

(View of downtown from the Space Needle)

A stone's throw away from the Space Needle is this place called the Children's Museum, which I LOVED. It is basically like this huge indoor play place where you can just let your child play. They have different rooms with different themes - they had an underwater room, a building blocks room, and my favorite was the world village - miniature rooms from different countries. It was fantastic! She could have played for hours there.

(Maya plays with the Tuk-tuk at the Children's museum)

We also checked out the iconic Pike Place Market which was so cool to walk around. It was a little crowded, but the stroller easily fit in with the crowd. They had fresh fish, tons of fruits and vegetables, beautiful flower bouquets, and fresh pasta vendors - one was even selling chocolate flavored spaghetti! Maya loved to look at all the happenings at the market.

(The iconic sign)

(Pike Place Market)

(Pike Place market - famous for the neon signs)

(Mouth-watering chillies!!!)

We also did some shopping downtown, and in the outlet malls on the way back to Vancouver. Everything in the U.S. is so much cheaper, and it seems like everything is constantly on sale for 50% off! You just can't get the same selection or prices in Canada. My personal favorites were Nordstrom Rack in downtown Seattle and the Carter's outlet in Burlington, WA. We also went to the main Nordstrom (a.k.a. the expensive department store) and everything was on sale there too! I found this beautiful little kid's line called Peek that had Indian-inspired prints.

(Peek kids line at Nordstroms)

We also checked out this fantastic bookstore - Elliott Bay Bookstore - which is the best bookstore in Seattle, in my opinion. It has a fantastic selection and you can just spend ages in there. I remember going there with my parents when I was little - it is one of the few locally owned businesses that is still thriving. The had an excellent children's book section with a fantastic selection. I had to get some books for my little bookworm! They had a little princess castle in the children's section - and of course Maya wanted Daddy to sit with her! I found this beautiful little book for children of gay dad parents called "Daddy, Papa and me".

(Elliott Bay Bookstore)

(A book for children of gay parents)

The only bad thing about our trip was that we couldn't find any good restaurants. This is partly because it was the one thing I forgot to research before we went down. The only one restaurant we tried which was good was the Athenian - located in Pike Place Market. I found out about this place because I asked a fruit vendor girl which was her favorite place....which is what I should have done for every restaurant - locals always know the best places! The Athenian restaurant was mostly a fish place but it did have a veggie burger and grilled cheese for husband-ji. It was only as we were leaving that I realized a scene in my beloved Sleepless in Seattle movie was filmed there! I was a little star struck after that!

(Fish n' chips at the Athenian restaurant)

(OMG... at the Athenian restaurant)

We also got a chance to visit husband-ji's cousins in Bellevue, which was really fun. She played with her little cousin who is 3 years old and they had a lot of fun. The new generation!

(Maya playing with her cousin, Aditya)

We also took Maya swimming at the hotel, which was the perfect thing to do to get her tired before our drive back!

(Maya practicing her swimming skills at the Westin hotel pool)

Overall, I felt Seattle was really baby-friendly. There were tons of families out, the whole city was stroller-friendly, and lots of things for toddlers to do (a miracle!)

Now that we have our Nexus card, we can go down on any long weekend! Next time, we would like to explore more...It was really nice to get out of town for a few days and it made me think that we should do it more often - at least once a season. I was also really happy that Maya traveled well.


What do you think, dear readers? Do you think it is important to take mini-vacations from time to time? Where do you like to go? Have any of you ever been to Seattle & have any recommendations for next time?

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