Saturday, December 30, 2017

Indian Festivals 2018

It's that time of year again where we're setting up our calendars to a new year! Have you guys checked out bullet journaling, by the way? I discovered it on Instagram one day and really love how you can creatively customize your calendar! I tried to make one in 2017 but I think I'd love to do it for 2018 too.

Being in a multicultural family, and especially with my in-law's being here, I always have to make sure that I mark down both Indian and Canadian holidays on our calendar. I thought I'd share them with you guys in case you'd like to mark your calendars too. You'd have to ask your Indian family which ones their family celebrates, though. It also gives me an idea of which months are going to be busier than others.

Here are some Indian festivals for 2018:

January 13 - Lohri
January 14-17 - Pongal / Sankranti
January 26 - Republic Day

February 13 - Maha Shivratri

March 2 - Holi
March 18 - Ugadi
March 25 - Ram Navami

April 14 - Tamil New Year / Vaisakhi

May 22 - Buddha Purnima

July 14 - Rath Yatra

August 15 - Indian Independence Day
August 15-27 - Onam
August 26 - Rakhi

September - Krishna Jayanti
September 3 - Janmashtami
September 11 - Teej
September 13 - Ganesh Chaturthi
September 23 - Anant Chaturdasi

October 8 - Mahalaya
October 9-18 - Navratri
October 15-19 - Durga Puja
October 16 - Maha Saptami / Saraswati Puja
October 17 - Durgastami
October 18 - Dussehra
October 28 - Karwa Chauth

November 5 - Dhanteras
November 6-10 - Diwali
November 23 - Rasa Purnima


Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Life lately...

I feel like ever since Maya started Kindergarten, the past few months have just been such a blur. School drop-off's, pick-up's, and keeping busy with Veda every day has me in a constant hurried state! In a few short months, Veda has gone from crawling, to standing, and now she is practicing walking with assistance! No rest for mommy.

(Veda at 8.5 months)

From the end of September until the end of October, we had non-stop celebrations. So much so, that now I feel hungover from all the celebrations! This year we performed all the festivals of the Autumn season. Last year my mother-in-law was recovering from heart surgery, and I was pregnant & going through a mild prenatal depression, so we didn't do much. This year, we went all out and celebrated everything!

First, we had Navratri, which is a 9 day Hindu festival, culminating with Dussehra on the last day. We set up a large display of Bommala Koluvu with Maya's miniature dolls and figurines near our pooja corner. Both the kids loved this. Maya did the whole set up with my mother-in-law and Veda watched with amazement.

In between, we also had my birthday, my mother-in-law's birthday, and Canadian Thanksgiving - all were pretty low-key.We also had relatives staying with us from India for 10 days which was really fun....8 people in our 1000 sq.ft apartment! It was our relatives' first time visiting Canada, so I had a lot of fun playing tourist with them.

Diwali snuck up on us this year really fast and I was determined to do something special for it. This year, I did a Diwali presentation at Maya's school which is something I wanted to do for forever, but could never get it together. It's Maya's last year at her current school, so I figured it was now or never! I got all dressed up to the nines - in full Diwali fashion! I brought sweets for all the kids and I explained to them about what Diwali was - why we celebrate it; how it is celebrated in India; how we celebrate it in our home; and that we celebrate it because Maya's daddy is from India. I brought battery-operated tealight candles and asked the kids to place the candles near the windowsill while I read them a storybook about Diwali. They got to take home their candles, and we also made them a 10 page coloring booklet with Diwali images. The best part of it was seeing how proud my daughter was of her Indian heritage.

At home, we had an evening pooja and we got all dressed up and handed out sweets to our neighbors. We also attended a Diwali party over the weekend that my friend organised.

For this year's Diwali, I wore a hot pink and orange kanchipuram silk saree from my favorite Nalli Silks shop in Hyderabad. You're always supposed to wear something new for Diwali and luckily I still have a few silk sarees that were gifted to me that I haven't worn yet. This year, I wanted to wear something cheerful and soft so that it didn't scratch Veda's skin - not too much embroidery.

Shortly after Diwali, it was Halloween already! Maya dressed up as Wonder Woman and Veda was a lion. We spent Halloween over at our friends' house where we did trick or treating, had dinner together, and handed out candies. We ended up not taking Veda out because it was very cold that evening and just kept her indoors.

After so many celebrations in the Fall, November has been a much quieter month. I have hardly left the house, except to take the kids to their activities. Now, we are gearing up for the next holiday season - Christmas! This whole year has gone by so fast.


Dear readers, did your families celebrate any holidays this Fall?
Are you looking forward to the upcoming Christmas season?


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Review of Tokabox: an educational subscription box for kids!

Raising my daughter between two cultures and currently living in Canada, I am always on the lookout for ways to honor and teach her about her Indian heritage.

I was recently contacted by Tokabox with a request to review their monthly educational subscription box and I was absolutely thrilled and impressed by their company. Each box contains a children's book, an activity, and a recipe that you can make with your child. In our home, we are big on reading, art, and home-cooked meals so it reflected our lifestyle perfectly.

Tokabox has two boxes for kids based on age - Toka Junior is for preschoolers; and Toka Explorer is for elementary aged kids.

Since my daughter is 5 years old, I wanted to try both boxes to see how they were different. The month I received was Diwali themed for October - each month has a different theme.

In the Toka Junior box (for age 3 - 5 years old) it contained the picture book Rani Saves Diwali, a craft project to make your own paper lantern diya, and a vegan murukku recipe.

Here are some pictures of the paper lantern diya project:

In the Toka Explorer box (for age 5-8 years old) it contained the book Festival of Light: Deepavali Legends from around India, an activity where you make an electric diya, and a rangoli stencil.

Here are some pictures of the electric diya project:

The thing I appreciate about Tokabox is that all the materials are fully supplied for the kids' activity so you don't have to run out anywhere to buy a something to do the project. For example, in the Toka Junior box, even a sheet of newsprint was supplied to do the craft on so that it wouldn't mess up your table surface! Each box comes with detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

But the thing that I love most about it is that Tokabox celebrates multiculturalism and diversity. And that's exactly what kids need more of!

Maya absolutely loved receiving her own boxes in the mail and she was so excited about it. It made for a great after-school or weekend project. The Diwali items she made will be kept for our annual decorations to display for years to come.

In regards to purchasing, Tokabox has a lot of different options. You can try 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. They also have a "Toka Celebrate" option that has 4 boxes a year for Indian festivals (Navratri, Diwali Sankranti, Holi). They also have a "Toka History" option that has 4 boxes per year to educate children on the History of India. They ship to the U.S., Canada, U.K, Australia, and Singapore.

Tokabox would be a great birthday or holiday gift for kids because it's educational, fun, and it keeps them busy! With every purchase, Tokabox donates a book to an underprivileged school in India. I'm going to be purchasing it for Maya's little cousins for their birthdays.

Click HERE to check out Tokabox!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Now Featured On: Masala Mommas

I'm so excited to share that I'm featured back on one of my favorite online magazines - Masala Mommas! It took me a while to get back into writing for them due to my pregnancy + postpartum...and I'm so glad to be back on! 

I have written several articles before for them regarding living in a cross-cultural marriage, but this time, this particular piece is all about Diwali. As you guys know, Diwali is one of my favorite holidays and there are many ways to celebrate it in a cross-cultural and interfaith family.

Click HERE to read my article and let me know what you think!

Here's some other popular pieces that I've written for Masala Mommas:

This past month has been so jam-packed with Dussehra, my birthday, Canadian Thanksgiving, and now Diwali! AND we also had relatives from India staying with us for 10 days. I'll be writing a post soon about all our latest shenanigans! Until then, follow me on my Instagram for all our latest updates - in pictures.


Dear readers, HAPPY DIWALI!!!!


Friday, September 8, 2017

Maya's first day of kindergarten!

We had a huge milestone in our house recently with Maya having her first day of kindergarten. Even though she has gone to preschool for a few years, the first day of kindergarten is one of many huge moments for parents and kids alike. It is a monumental transition because they are at school for the whole day and it marks the official start of their elementary schooling. 

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel sending my first-born treasure off to Kindergarten....would I feel happy? Sad? Anxious? Exhilarated? I tried not to project my emotions on to my daughter and let her take the lead on how she was feeling. I had some mixed emotions as I knew I would miss her during the day, but I tried to keep my parent poker face on so it wouldn't disturb her mood.

She was so so excited to start school! I thought she might feel sad to leave me and the baby, since we have had a lot of beautiful moments of togetherness this Summer, but she was totally fine. She was SO excited to start school and join all of her friends. 

The morning that Kindergarten started, Maya was thrilled. She picked out her own outfit, got dressed herself and was ready by the door with her backpack. I took her to school and it was so much fun listening to music together along the way, with my big girl. Just like my dad used to do with me. Husband-ji stayed at home with the baby and fed her breakfast, while I got some nice one-on-one time with Maya.

I thought I would have a lot of free time since Maya was at school all day, but the day went by so quickly. I spent half of the time trying to get Veda to sleep, and the other half chasing her around the house! Veda has gotten mobile, and very very naughty! She loves to get her hands on things that she's not supposed to be playing with - like putting the phone charger in her mouth. Licking the carpet, etc. Without Maya there to help me keep an eye on Veda's shenanigans, I really had my hands full!

I was eager to find out how Maya's day went when I picked her up. Would she be tired after spending the whole day at school? Did she eat her lunch? Turns out she was not tired at all! And she ate the whole lunch I packed for her. I was so proud. And I realized she was so ready to start a full day of school!

Now I am attempting to get into my new routine of school pick-up/drop-off, packing lunches, making an early dinner...and eagerly awaiting my mother-in-law's return from Australia!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer in review

This Summer was one of the best we've had 'til date...mostly because we didn't plan too much. More and more these days, I'm favoring a simplistic parenting approach with the kids by trying to just enjoy our time together without over-scheduling everything. That's what Summers are for, right?

My in-law's left for Australia right before Maya got out of school for the Summer, so my life was all about getting into a good rhythm with the kids since it was my first time handling them alone all day. I wanted to see what their natural rhythms would be so I specifically didn't plan too much and preferred to stay around walking distance from our place. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, and I got into a great rhythm and it helped build my confidence that yes, I can do this!

One awesome thing that happened this Summer was that Maya discovered horseback riding...and loved it! It seems fitting, because she's so passionate about animals. She has loved it so much that we have decided to continue her horseback riding lessons during the school year. The riding school that we go to is very kid-friendly and they let the kids pick out which horse they want to ride. Then, they groom the horse and dress it with riding gear. And then the lesson takes place, and sometimes they even let the kids ride the horse on the road, which is very exciting for them. It has been a wonderful experience for my little animal-lover! I felt so proud of her to see her passionate about taking up a new skill.

We only did one vacation this Summer, which was to see family in the neighboring state of Washington. Maya had a great time playing with her cousins and it was the perfect first vacay with the baby. I even got to do some swimming in a river!

Unfortunately, we came back to a season of terrible wildfires which made the air very hard to breathe. There was about 10 days where I was completely cooped up with the kids indoors, in the Summer heat, which almost drove me mad! Luckily, the rain and wind pushed the smoke off of the coast but now, as I write this, the smoke is back again in the city. We are all praying for a long season of rain!

Other than that, we spend 95% of the Summer outdoors which was wonderful, having picnics and enjoying nearby parks.

Now, Maya has started Kindergarten, my father-in-law is going to be starting his new job soon, and my mother-in-law will be returning soon. I am eagerly awaiting her arrival!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Joint Family Road Trip & Summer Family Reunion!

We seem to be doing a family road trip every Summer. It's kinda become a thing. Now we've done it three years in a row, so I guess it's organically becoming a new family tradition! Last year, we ventured out to the Okanagan. The year before, we explored Yellowstone National Park. I absolutely love road trips because there's just so much that you can explore unplanned. It's been a great way to just spend time together and show my in-law's and the kids part of the world. And it was Veda's first official vacation!

This year, our road trip was more of a last minute decision. We had not planned to travel anywhere this year, until one of husband-ji's cousins got a job and relocated to Washington, which is the state right below us. We have not seen this cousin for over two years, so it was the perfect excuse to plan a trip down so we could visit them. We have three cousins in Washington (all from the Tamil side of the family, and each set has kids). My main reason for wanting to go was because I wanted to get all of the kids to play together and have some bonding time.

Boy, were they wild! They just had the best time playing together. From 7am until 10pm, they were playing, laughing and running around. Just as children should be. They are all close in age (7, 5, 5, 18 months, 5 months). It was really lovely - we made so many amazing memories together. It was a bit of a family reunion of sorts!

Here are some highlights from our trip:


Monday, August 14, 2017

Veda: 6 months old!

Well, this is all happening too fast. Veda's already 6 months?! It's officially her half birthday.

This month, Veda has really been getting a move on and displaying signs that she's going to be a very active tot. She loves to crawl and she loves being held up so that she can bounce her legs. We tried the Jolly Jumper out recently and Veda absolutely loved it, of course. She hates sitting and wants to be moving at all times. She detests being in the car unless she's sleepy, which means I have to be very choosy when I'm taking the car out. She is okay when you hold her (because she clearly likes to be pampered), but mostly she's happiest when she's on her tummy and ready to explore. I have to keep a very close eye on her because she is getting into everything. The other day, she made her way over to Maya's markers so I had to put them all safely away in drawers - nothing left out for her to get her curious little hands into! This all happened within 30 seconds when I was in the bathroom, of course - she made her way from one side of the living room to another - a determined stealth snail!

We've also been trying out all the new foods and flavors, one by one. So far, she likes bananas, avocados, apples, kale, pineapple, mango, and carrots. We still have lots more to try out. She does not like cauliflower or peas. It's a bit hard to feed her since she's so active, so we have to feed her quite quickly. 

Veda has not been sleeping well at night, so I am one tired mommy. She is teething, going through a growth spurt, and she also had her first ear infection this month. I assumed that she would be immune to such things like ear infections since I'm breastfeeding her, but no. Clearly, my milk has no magical powers like some of the other women have!

Veda starts out sleeping in her crib, and then by 4AM I give in and just co-sleep with her. Which is something I never did with Maya! With the breastfeeding, it's just easier to co-sleep because you can just pop your boob out. Veda sleeps much better when I co-sleep with her but I try not to do it unless I absolutely have to. No matter how tiring the night has been, Veda always wakes up so fresh and happy and ready to slay the day. She gives me a big smile and starts giggling when she wakes up which is so incredibly adorable that I can't be mad at her.

I also end up co-sleeping with her for at least one of her naps because by that time I also need a nap! Now she is down to two naps a day. I get nothing accomplished during those naps. For her morning nap, I always take the kids out for an outing while Veda sleeps in her stroller. By the time the afternoon nap rolls around, Maya has her quiet time and mommy is exhausted (snoring along with the baby) and counting down the minutes until daddy gets home!

We've also made it to 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, which I do have to give myself a pat on the back for. My favorite breastfeeding position is lying down because I'm so exhausted. We are still trying to get her to take my pumped milk from the bottle - with no luck. She only wants the boobs. Now I feel like I have no choice but to breast feed her, so I feel a bit stuck. Luckily, now that she is having solids, I can find a way to get out of the house kid-free for like an hour, but usually not more. That way I can at least hand over some of the feeding to husband-ji.

Veda's hair is not standing up anymore (like Elvis) because it's getting so much longer. Now gravity is pulling it down. I could actually put it in pigtails! Maya loves to pick out Veda's outfits and especially hair clips. It's funny because she won't wear a hair clip herself (being more of a tomboy) but she loves it when Veda wears one. I haven't been dressing her up too much because it's been so hot - usually just a simple cotton onesie. 

We ventured out to a restaurant for dinner the other night - the first time in 4 months! It went surprisingly well, but of course we had to keep it under an hour. Veda was very entertained by all the comings and goings of the restaurant people. She loves to people-watch and she loves to overhear people talk and eavesdrop like a senile Indian grandma. Veda has grown up in a joint family, so she loves it when there are a lot of people around.

We also took Veda on her first vacation this month....more on that later!


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Ups and Downs of Breastfeeding

(Photo by Simply Rose)

Breastfeeding. It's supposed to come naturally, right? I mean, it looks so easy. It's what's best for your baby, they say! It's free, they say! It's simple, they say! Rather, I find it to be very complicated. Like, a knee-deep complex, loaded issue. For something that's supposed to be so simple, it really isn't. After childbirth, it's arguably the first thing that women get criticized about and made to feel unworthy about. There are moms around the world crying their eyes out at this very moment about what kind of milk they feed their baby. If you feed formula, you're damaging your baby. If you feed breast milk, are they getting enough? If you breastfeed for too long, you're a weirdo.

It's #worldbreastfeedingweek and I'd like to share our stories. Two different experiences, for two different babies, like night and day.

Breastfeeding Maya
With Maya, I had a very difficult time breastfeeding. I spent a lot of time preparing for childbirth, and not a lot for breastfeeding. I assumed it would come naturally. It's going to sound ridiculous, but when the baby came out, I was appalled when I realized that I'd have to spend so much effort feeding it. (Like what the hell, can't my husband do it? Do I have to do everything here?) I was disappointed when it didn't come naturally. I was ashamed to breastfeed and expose myself even in front of the nurses at the hospital. When they tried to help me breastfeed and they asked if it hurt, I lied and said no, when in reality it did hurt - a lot. But compared to the pain of having a vaginal birth, I thought it was low on the pain scale. I didn't understand then that when breastfeeding hurts, it's because you have a bad latch. And when you get a bad latch, it affects your milk supply. And it hurts like hell, because that baby gets damn hungry and ends up massacring your nipples with it's bad latch. At the end of my birth, I had a severe postpartum hemorrhage as my placenta refused to detach. Then my finicky placenta decided to detach along with part of my uterus and I lost more than a litre of blood, which gave me anemia for 2 years. (Let me tell you, suffering from anemia while being a stay at home mother with no help is no fun at all!) My anemia completely zapped me and also affected my milk supply. My milk came in around day 5, and I nearly had a mental breakdown from all the hormones. Maya's latch only got worse and I remember pumping and getting a bunch of blood instead of milk. Or pumping for hours and only getting a few drops of milk, when my aunt said that my cousin's wife could get a whole bottle of milk in minutes. Then, I started using a nipple shield because my nipples were so damaged, which you had to hold in place awkwardly. Then Maya got addicted to the nipple shield and wouldn't go back to my actual nipple. At Maya's 1 month check-up, we discovered that she had lost weight since birth. I had another mental breakdown. I cried and cried and cried. The midwives suggested to pump and supplement formula for the health of the baby. My midwives were very anti-formula so I knew this was serious. At one point, I used donor milk and I felt like less of a woman seeing my child consume milk from other women, when I couldn't produce enough of my own. I thought, why is it so easy for them and so hard for me?! I pumped every 3 hours for 3 months, out of sheer determination. My milk supply never increased. At Maya's 3 month check-up, I conveyed to our family doctor that I was having a difficult time with the pumping, especially now that Maya was becoming more alert. She suggested I just stop pumping milk and give formula, for my sanity. She said, "Don't drive yourself crazy. She will be fine!" I quit and didn't look back. It was a relief. I still felt a bit guilty though. I wondered if Maya would be less smart than her peers. Five years later, she's one of the smartest in her class.

Breastfeeding Veda
With Veda, I wanted to give breastfeeding another go. I wanted to try to see if I could have a different experience, if I could love breastfeeding as much as the other mothers do. I was just going to see how it went, without expectation, and if I didn't want to then I'd give her formula - because Maya turned out fine, after all! This time, my placenta birthed just as it should, and immediately after, I asked the nurse to help latch the baby on to me. We stayed in the hospital for a few days afterwards and I paged the nurses every few hours to teach me and her how to breastfeed. I got a lot of help, so when we got home I felt really confident. Veda got a great latch from the start and fed round-the-clock which brought my milk in faster, and with a fury. She fed so much that I ended up overproducing milk. My breasts were often so full of milk that I would have to pump extra milk just to feel relief. I got mastitis when Veda was 6 weeks old. After a few months, my milk supply evened out and it became really easy. I breastfed lying down, sitting down, and in all kinds of positions. It took me a while to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public (or in front of my father-in-law, and other relatives), but I just got over it, concentrated on the baby, and I figured that if anyone was uncomfortable then they could just look away. I also wanted to breastfeed for my own maternal health benefits since it can bring down my risk of getting breast cancer. This has been important to me because my mom has had breast cancer twice. Once the breastfeeding started going well, every month I thought to myself, "Oh, I'll do another month. Why not?" And here I am now, having just passed 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. I can't even believe it. I'm not sure when I'll wean but as of now, I do enjoy it. There is a different kind of closeness when you look at your baby taking your milk. It is animalistic in a sense. In those moments, you know that you are all your baby needs, and it is a fulfilling feeling.

God sure does have a sense of humor, I think. With my first baby, I didn't make enough milk. With my second baby, I had too much milk!

Looking back, both my babies had different latches and sucking styles, just as they have different personalities. They also had different appetites. They have different little mouths too. I wish I had known this in the early days of being a first time mom, but it's something that you realize only with experience. 

When it comes to breastfeeding, there are lots of ups and downs. It's simple, but it's not......

For example, there is also a lot of privilege attached to breastfeeding. To exclusively breastfeed for years, you'd have to have a partner who is earning enough to support both you and the children. Or you'd have to get adequate maternity leave, which sometimes involves no pay or a big pay cut. Some moms have no choice but to return back to work. Or you'd have to have an employer who would allow you to pump every few hours. And pumping equipment is expensive. Just like formula companies are big businesses, so are breast pump companies. Yes, breastfeeding is technically free, but it's actually not.

Babies feed every few hours and the mom's body has to be available at all times, day and night. If you supplement or pump the milk, you risk losing your milk supply. The only way to truly guarantee a steady supply is to exclusively breastfeed - which comes at a cost of the mom. Sometimes the cost is time, or even sanity.

 On top of being pregnant for 9 months, it's a huge additional sacrifice of the mom's body. For example, if the baby nurses and needs to be pacified by mom, you might not get enough time to do much of anything else. Even something as important as a dental appointment is difficult to plan if you don't know what time your baby will want to nurse.

It's also a lot of pressure being the sole milk-provider of the baby. You have to be careful what you eat and drink, you have to eat enough calories and stay hydrated. Most moms take herbal supplements to increase their milk supply or drink specific herbal teas (while researching and avoiding others that can lower your milk supply). By the way, the lactation teas taste like shit. There's always a fear that your supply will drop and how will you feed the baby? Moms who are not able to produce enough milk cry their eyes out (I was one of those with baby #1).

And it's all emphasized by the fact that men just don't get it. They think that you just shove it in there and the baby will take it. Um, no, dude. You have to get a good latch, which can take months of round-the-clock practice - for both baby and mom. Sometimes the baby will latch and you will have to re-latch to get the perfect fit. You have to let the boob hang in the right way. Leaning over to breastfeed can wreak havoc on your back, while lifting the baby up to your nipple can wreak havoc on your arms - continually. As the baby gets more alert, they may get distracted nursing in public.

And don't forget the staring. How much people can stare when you nurse your baby in public! How much people ogle at your only-for-sex breasts when their purpose is really to feed your babies. Nursing covers are really only for small infants and as soon as your child learns to swat their arms, covering up is not an option. For many women, nursing in public can be uncomfortable and humiliating, and worse if strangers make comments - especially to an exasperated mother who's just trying to feed her hungry/fussy/tired baby.

Plus, don't get me started with the sore or cracked nipples. The bleeding nipples. Constantly leaking milk. Thrush. Mastitis. How irritating nursing bra's are.

Any mom who breastfeeds their baby (or attempts to) knows how hard it can be. That's why I absolutely despise moms who make other moms feel bad for not breastfeeding, as if it's some kind of gold-medal competition. It's an intensely personal decision that the mom has to make based on A LOT of different factors. I don't think we should shame women for not breastfeeding. Or wanting not to because they don't like breastfeeding. If men had to breastfeed, I bet they wouldn't even make it past Day 3!

But, all the above reasons are why moms love it so much, too. Because when it works - really works - there is a sense of pride and accomplishment for being the sole provider of milk for your baby. It's a sacrifice of one's own body that women do with a sense of joy of wanting to be as close as possible with their babies, as their infants gently suckle and drift off to sleep. Just like a pregnant women beams with pride when she rubs her tummy, a breastfeeding mother does the same as her child takes her milk. It is a very intimate experience.

So, to the moms that formula feed, you're doing a great job. To the moms who couldn't get their milk supply up, you're doing a great job. To the moms who are struggling to breastfeed, you're doing a great job. To the mom who loves breastfeeding, you're doing a great job. To the mom who has to use donor milk, you're doing a great job. To the mom who is breastfeeding for 2+ years, you're doing a great job. Every experience is different, no two babies are the same. And let's all just take a minute to respect it for what it is -  an intimate, personal experience that is just as unique as the babies themselves.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On teamwork and two children

It's hard to believe it was a month ago that I was so scared to handle both the kids by myself. Boy, has time just flew by! When my in-law's left for Australia in June, it was the first time I had been alone in over a year and the first time that I'd taken care of both the kids by myself with no help. I was so scared and frightened. But, I did it. And I am so incredibly proud of myself!

My father-in-law came back from Australia this week to return to Canada to look for a job. My mother-in-law will stay in Australia to help my sister-in-law with her kids until September. Now that I've gotten into a great rhythm with the kids, I really didn't need my in-law's to come back to help me. I was totally fine on my own. It's great to have my father-in-law back, but it's even greater to have the new-found confidence in myself and my mothering abilities.

Well, the first week was terrible. Baby Veda got a cold, was teething badly, we had an awful heatwave, Maya was super-clingy, and when I went to visit my parents' that week, my dad almost drowned in the swimming pool which was traumatic and shook me up for days. We realized that there was no food since my mother-in-law was not there to cook, and husband-ji and I got into a big fight. Which made me call up my mother-in-law only days after she landed in Australia, in tears, saying that I felt I had no support because she wasn't there. "It will be fine, Alex..." she said. "Don't worry da...within a week you'll get a handle on it and you'll be fine..." At the time, I didn't believe her. But she was right, as usual!

It was a lot easier when Maya finished school for the Summer because then my schedule was much more flexible. I kept my days simple by preferring to walk to nearby parks and watch Maya play while the baby napped in her stroller - enjoying the fresh Summer sunshine. Husband-ji cooked all the food and planned the meals in advance while I did the grocery shopping on my stroller walks. He made sure to leave for work at the latest possible moment and come home as early as he could to maximize a sense of equal parenting. I threw the trash and washed the dishes while he played with the kids after dinner. We have been working so efficiently as a team that it makes me love him a little bit more. I have even had time to blog, go swimming, and make homemade baby food! I can't believe it.

There is also another teammate with me during the day - Maya. I have been so impressed by her helpfulness and maturity. She helps without me even asking her. She is fully involved in all aspects of taking care of her little sister - from watching the baby while I use the bathroom, helping to feed her solids, dressing her, wiping up her spit-up, fetching her toys for her, and getting clean diapers and throwing away the dirty diapers. I couldn't do it without her. Somehow, with Maya around, I'm not lonely at all. And I make sure that when the baby naps, that I spend one-on-one time with her like playing a board game or doing arts and crafts. 

More and more I'm enjoying these simple moments with the kids - going to parks, sitting with them, playing with them...and generally being present with them. We've had some really lovely moments together. Instead of doing these big grand outings all the time, we are keeping it simple and happy and thus avoiding meltdowns and exhaustion.

Looking back, I feel having two kids is easier than having one kid, so far. I had a much harder time of it being home alone when Maya was a baby. I had no experience, I was trying to find my footing as a mother, it was hard to keep adjusting myself to the ever-changing routines, and the exhaustion. Going from no kids to having one kid was a huge shock to my system. Going from one kid to two is not such big a deal. We have had some hard moments, but in the bigger picture it has been a lot easier. I'm already a professional mother. I've experienced firsthand the ups and downs of motherhood. Flexibility is basically my middle name. I know I need to be kinder to myself. I sleep as much as I possibly can (when the kids sleep), but what's one more sleepless night anyway? Add it on to the hundreds I've already had - no big deal! I have surrendered my life to being a mother and accept all the chaos that comes with it. Life with kids can get crazy so we might as well just have fun with it.

But I do wonder...a month ago, when I was crying my eyes out, swearing that I couldn't handle the kids - WHY did I doubt my own capabilities so much? I am a good mother. I am a capable person. I CAN take care of my kids by myself. I am enough for them. Why did I doubt much? Definitely some food for thought.

I actually feel a lot better about myself now that I know I can do it. Of course, it helped that husband-ji was so supportive and Maya was just a little angel. I'm really looking forward to enjoying the rest of the Summer with my girls!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Veda: 5 months old!

Forgive me for being so late with this one...this month was absolutely hectic with my in-law's leaving for vacation, the start of Summer break, and not having a computer for 2 weeks!

Probably the biggest change from last month is that Veda loves to be taken out. She used to hate being taken out and we mostly avoided it when my in-law's were here because one of us was always at home with her. Now, after my in-law's left, I had no choice but to pack her up and take her with me...and she adapted pretty well! I think this is because she is becoming very alert and observant of her surroundings. She likes to watch people and stare them down like a desi granny. She loves to people-watch and she finds different people quite entertaining...which I don't mind because then it saves me the work from having to entertain her at home!

But...she has had some stranger anxiety lately. As in, she won't go to everyone and she especially seems to be freaked out by my mom. Every time she sees my mom's face she starts crying, so that has been pretty stressful. I need husband-ji to accompany me to visit my parents due to Veda's meltdowns around my mom! When we're at home, she doesn't want me to leave her side. We have an open-concept living room/dining room/kitchen and if I step away from her (more than 5 feet), she panics. But I think it is the age because I remember Maya being like this and her screaming bloody murder when I had to take a shower - OMG so stressful!

She still hates the baby carrier and prefers to stretch out on her tummy and make crawling moves. Or as Maya calls it, "swimming on the carpet!". She is ok in the car now - as long as Maya's in the back seat with her. She loves the stroller the best and she often falls asleep in it, provided there are constant jiggles.

Other than the smiles, my favorite part of this last month is that when I come near her, she reaches out to me. Sometimes I just come up close to her and let her feel my face as though she's reading Braille, although she mostly scratches or slaps me! I don't mind!

It turns out that Veda loves solids. We haven't fed her any fruits or vegetables yet but she's been doing great on her grains. She has been waking up a bit at night because I think she's hungry, so we are going to start the other food groups soon.

Until next month...!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Latest Family Photos!

A few months ago, we got some family pictures taken for Mother's Day (at the time, Veda was only 3 months old - so she has grown a lot since then!). The photographer who did it is Rose Dykstra of Simply Rose Photography and she was recommended by a friend of mine. It was supposed to be a mom/kids only shoot except I was so happy that Rose allowed husband-ji to get in the pictures too.

It has been so hard to get a good group shot all together - we have so few of them! Despite the baby being 3 months old at the time, this was the only shot of the 4 of us that we had taken! Life gets so busy...and sometimes 1 kid is in the mood and the other is not. Sometimes we are so tired so we'd prefer not to get in the picture. Sometimes we forget. For me, I'm always the one behind the camera! Even though I spend all my time with the kids, I hardly have any photos of us together except for the selfie's I've taken - which are not exactly frame-worthy. More and more, I'm relying on outside photographers to capture me with the least once a year.

Our last photoshoot was in the Fall for our Christmas card, which was outdoors - documentary style. This one was indoors in a studio with a white background. Being a mom herself, Rose knew how to photograph families and children so well. I feel like the pictures captured our personalities perfectly.

Be sure to check out Simply Rose on Instagram too.


Dear readers, which one is your favorite?


Saturday, July 8, 2017

A two week computer break

It's been about two and a half weeks since my last post and I'm sure everyone has been wondering what we've been up to. Shortly after my last post, my desktop computer completely overheated and blitzed out - leaving me for the first time without any computer in our home.

I actually loved it. As I've written about many times, I love going off the grid and taking breaks from technology. As I get older, I find it's essential for my creativity to take breaks because I can just get too overstimulated and get too many ideas at once. As a mom, it also helps me be more present with the kids and get as much rest as possible, instead of staying up late to write or do work on the computer.

The timing of life is so incredibly funny. Our home computer broke literally right after my in-law's left, leaving me alone with the kids for the first time ever. I was completely freaked out about how I'd manage. It was a blessing in disguise to not have a computer as I feel it has always been there dragging me over to it to do more work. The computer, sitting there staring at me...with it's endless possibilities! Reminding me of how many things I have that are pending. I was completely exhausted from handling the kids that I'm glad that I took the opportunity to rest and de-stress after the kids went to bed (my only time nowadays!). In fact, not having a computer made the transition of not having my in-law's here easier. For the past two and a half weeks, I have been solely focusing on handling the kids and the logistics of it all. I've gotten into a pretty good rhythm with them. It actually simplified my life.

It's hard to believe that this is how we used to live - when I was growing up, there was no computer. My dad had a typewriter. If we wanted to contact someone, we would just phone them up. We relied on books for a lot of information. If we wanted to know the weather, we would just go outside! We spent a lot of time outside. How much the world can change in only a few decades!

More and more, I really like the concept of disconnecting to connect - which is something that we've been trying to do in various ways in our place as we figure out exactly the kind of home we want to raise our kids in. We have been doing no screen time with my daughter for several months now, which has been going great. We try to keep our phones off the dining table when we're eating. We have all been watching less TV and talking with each other more. We have been getting outdoors more and enjoying the Summertime. We're able to sleep better too.

Of course, I'm glad to have a computer again so I can keep up with my writing and work, although I think I'll be keeping it to a minimum this Summer so I can fully enjoy the kids and maximize what little rest I do get nowadays. Most nights, by the time the kids go to bed I'm basically incoherent!


Dear readers, have you ever taken a technology break?
Do you limit the screen time in your household?
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