Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Here's Moppet stealing bells from the christmas tree. Again!


She then runs around the house shaking them vigorously and singing 'Jiyal bell, jiyal bell, hey!' at the top of her voice.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Moppet @ 20 months or Moppet on Moppet

Hello all!

Mama has been sorely neglecting her duties as chronicler of my life's adventures, and despite several reminders that my 20 month update was due 2 whole weeks ago, she has neither lifted a finger to get it done, nor demonstrated any sort of remorse for letting things get to such a head.

Granted, she was rather sick for a few days, but since then all she's been doing is ganging up against me with her mom. It's most annoying. I can't do a thing without those two teasing and cackling and generally behaving like I was put on this earth to entertain them. Sometimes I'm amazed at how deluded adults can be. I mean, it's fairly obvious that every member of my family exists only for my own personal care and entertainment and it takes a special kind of brain wiring not to be able to see that, methinks.

But enough about Mama and her eccentricities; this post is about me. As with all important things in this household (such as emptying tissue boxes, pouring body lotion on the floor, and sticking pencils into every available slot in the furniture), I have realised that the only way to get things done is to do it myself. So here it is, my supposed to be 20 month but actually almost 21 month update:

Although I've tried very hard to teach my folks Babble - the simple but highly efficient baby language, they have been very dull students. I've given up and now speak to them in words they can understand. I speak slowly, each word articulated clearly and correctly so that I don't need to rely on Mama's rather free and overly interpretive translation to make myself understood among the big people. It works fairly well, and I have received several compliments on the clarity of my speech. There is still the minor issue of the 'r' sound, which is the only sound I haven't quite figured out yet, but I'm confident I'll get rrround it soon.

I've got the hang of counting and can identify most regular colours (just don't throw teal and mauve my way), although I can't for the life of me think why Mama thinks it's such a big deal. The first time I casually counted from one to ten, she screamed and clapped and made such an ass of herself that you'd think I'd just told her the value of pi to the 50th decimal.

You know, all this time I thought the reason I didn't always get my way was because Mama was too dumb to understand me. But in last few months I've come to see that the reason is a lot more sinister: she understands what I want but doesn't do it anyway! Preposterous!

But I'm nothing if not persistent and we have a major battle of wills every morning when I insist on wearing a particular outfit, and she insists on giving me something else. I ask you, how much clearer can one get than 'pink dess' or 'flower dess'? Why then does she insist on showing me silly white, orange, and blue dresses or shorts or pants and try to convince me to wear them? Why is it not ok to wear the same outfit every day and what does it matter if it's faded or short or torn? It's beyond me.

As long I was going to playschool I had an out. Mama's still bigger and stronger than me, so she can wrestle me into a dress I don't want to wear, but what she didn't know until recently was that as soon as I reached playschool, I'd make the teacher help me put on the pink ballerina costume they have there. So I'd have my pink dress every day. Ha! And Mama thought she'd won! She has so much to learn.

Take the matter of potty training for example. I realised recently that I could get Mama's attention just by saying the magic word - potty. She drops whatever she's doing and whisks me off to the bathroom where I sit on the pot and enjoy the show she puts on for me. She sings, juggles, blows bubbles, and does a little act with my bath toys as characters. It's great fun and it doesn't matter if I don't actually have any potty to do. It worked like a charm for about a week, and I used it to great effect especially at bedtime when I didn't want to go to sleep. But then she cottoned on and now if I say potty at bedtime she refuses to take me. She says that's ok, lie down now. That can't be particularly good for potty training can it?

And so it goes on - sometimes I win, sometimes Mama does, with the game getting more and more complicated as we begin to understand each other better. It's fun though. Oh and before I sign off, I have a message from Mama who says sorry she's way behind on reading everyone's blogs and she'll come round and figure out all the tags she's accumulated and do them real soon. I'd take that with a pinch of salt if I were you - I've known her all my life and I can say with some authority that she is a lazy bum. A nice, well-meaning bum, though (Hey, she still owes me a Christmas present, I don't want to risk not getting that!)

In case you don't hear from me again before the end of the year, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and an exciting, adventure-filled New Year 2008.

Love,
Moppet

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Win some, lose some

The results of my first ever baking experiment are in! Determined that this would be different from my usual culinary misadventures, I prepared myself meticulously. I made a list of all the doubts I might have and found answers online before I actually got started rather than my usual strategy of making an instinctive (and usually wrong) choice while upto my elbows in eggs and flour.

So I found out what one 'cup' translates to in metric terms - for liquids and dry stuff separately - and wrote down all the conversions on a postit stuck to my kitchen work area. I figured out the difference between vanilla essence and extract. I doubled checked all mentioned oven temperatures and wrote them down in both Farenheit and Celsius.

I laid out all my equipment and supplies and ticked each item off against the recipe. I tested that the bowls I had were big enough for me to 'whisk gently' without spilling half the batter on the kitchen floor. The recipe (sent to me by a reader - thanks again, QA!), was copied out neatly onto another large postit also stuck to the work area. Moppet was sent down to play in the park with Nanny. I didn't want any distractions (or witnesses, in case of spectacular failure). I was ready to begin!

One. Two. Three. A deep breath, and I was off! Measuring, sifting, mixing, whisking, melting, and folding like a pro. In half an hour, the kitchen was smelling all warm and chocolatey, and I had a big bowl of brownie batter that looked just perfect.

I transferred it into my brand new baking tray, and encountered my first hitch. The tray was too small. I hadn't quite anticipated how much batter the recipe would produce. No matter, I'd just bake 2 batches. I poured in half the batter, and saved the rest for round 2.

Then the second hitch. For all my checks and online research, the one thing I had forgotten to check? The oven. It's an old oven that came pre-installed in the kitchen so there's no manual that explains the settings. I was able to figure out the timer and the temperature without a problem, but the mode setting had me stumped. They were just a series of icons, and I had no clue what they meant.

So I followed my instincts and picked one, and naturally it was the absolutely wrong choice. 10 minutes into baking, I realised by the thick burnt crust that had formed on top that it probably wasn't the right setting, so I foolishly followed my instincts and picked another setting.

Of course, that was even worse than the first setting, which I realised another 10 minutes into the game. By this time, my warm chocolatey kitchen was smelling like burnt coffee, and my eyes were beginning to smart. I tried a third setting - which may or may not have been the right one - it was too late to tell.

Finally, I turned everything off, burnt myself getting the tray out of oven (my equipment list hadn't mentioned oven mitts so of course I didn't buy any), dumped the half burned, half jellied batter straight into the dustbin, and informed Moppet's Papa (with great composure, given the circumstances) that my world had officially ended, that I was retiring from life, and that if he needed me he would find me in bed where I intended to stay for next week or so.

Ok, he said kindly, but since there was some batter left, why not give it another shot? He came along to help figure out the icons and after some debate we finally settled on one which turned out to be almost right. It wasn't perfect - the top still got a bit burned and I found another icon later that I realised wouldn't have had extra heat coming from the top - but it was much, much better than the previous 3 settings I had used. The burned portion was easily scraped off, and when the whole thing had cooled off, they actually turned out to be yummy. Not particularly good-looking, but really yummy.

Moppet's Papa casually asked me which brand of mix it was, and when I stopped stuffing my face long enough to inform him that it was no mix, that I had made it from scratch, he looked suitably impressed.

It seems there's hope for me after all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tagged: 22 things Every Guy Wants to know about Women

Dotmom handed me this tag, which is fast doing the rounds of all the mom blogs, with lots of great posts. I had better do this one pronto or all my answers are going to sound like they came from one of the other blogs.

1.How do you feel after a one night stand?
My feet ache.

2. Do you ever get used to wearing a thong?
Do you?

3. Does it hurt?
Oh no. You should try it sometime.

4. Do you know when you are acting crazy?
Me? Crazy? What? Who told you that? Tell me their name! Now!

5. Does size really matter?
Of course not! (wink, wink)

6. When the bill comes are you still a feminist?
When the bill comes, I'm an opportunist. I never let the opportunity to have someone else pay up pass.

7. Why do you take so long to get ready?
Why don't you take a little longer to get ready? You sure could use it!

8. Do you watch porn, too?
Don't need to, thank you very much!

9. Will something from Tiffany's solve everything?
No. A sincere apology would probably cost you more, but it works much better.

10. Are guys as big of a mystery to you as you are to us?
No. We're not the smarter sex for nothing, you know.

11. Why do you sometimes think you look fat?
Having to hold my breath before I can button my jeans might be a clue.

12. Why are you always late?
I'm not. Why do you assume that a woman will be late?

13. Does it bother you when we scratch?
No, it's natural. Men are just closer to apes on the evolutionary ladder than women are.

14. Do you wish you could pee standing up?
No. But I realise this is a big achievement for your kind, so well done!

15. Why do so many women cut their hair short as soon as they get married?
To relieve boredom.

16. How often do you think about sex?
Nowhere near as often as you do, I'll bet.

17. What do you think of women who sleep with guys on the first date?
Decisive.

18. Would you?
Yes. No. Maybe. Not.

19. Do you realize every guy wants a girl just like his mom?
Really? I'm glad I didn't marry Every Guy then.

20. Why does every woman think she can change him?
Because Every Guy's mom obviously didn't do such a great job.

21. Does it matter what car I drive?
No. It matters how you drive it.

22. Do you ever fart?
Yes. But only YOU can do it on demand.

Gotta say though, if this is really all Every Guy wants to know about women, then no wonder women are still a mystery to him!

Tagging Squiggles Mom (Ha! That'll teach you to be mean to me :-), Kiran (you can do this on your other blog if you don't want it on your mom blog), and Y.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lady of the Cake

One of the things that bothers me about not being able to work outside the home is that as a homemaker, my skills leave much to be desired. Without the the pressures of work as an excuse, I have nothing to explain away my utter lack of imagination when it comes to our home and meals.

It makes me feel incompetent. And I'm not used to feeling incompetent. Allow me a moment of immodesty here to say that I was a cute baby, a smart child, a happy and well-adjusted teenager, an above average student, and a top-rated employee. And my family and friends had better would agree that I'm a good person to have in their lives. So though I may not be particularly talented in any one thing, there are several things I can do without appearing like a total idiot.

Unfortunately, cooking is not one of those things. When I step into the kitchen to cook, the results are usually offensive to all 5 senses (If you're wondering how food can sound bad, it's not the food, it's me that sounds bad once the inevitably inedible dish is finally ready). It is as if my DNA is missing some crucial cooking gene. Up until now, this inability of mine wasn't something I felt particularly bad about it. So I can't cook. Big deal, was what I thought.

But then Moppet happened and I find myself wishing that I could make her something that she would love to eat. Something that 'nobody can make like mom does'. Something that when she's grown up and away from me, she will remember fondly as mom's special.

It is particularly ironic that I should feel this way. My Mil slaves away in the kitchen all day whenever we visit and is disappointed when we cannot eat more than a quarter of what she has prepared. I have gently told her several times that we know she loves us and that the making and consuming of vast quantities of food are not necessarily indicators of love and regard. And yet, here I am today, wanting to have my child eat and enjoy something I can make for her myself, wanting it to be another special something we share.

But here is the problem. My mom and Mil are as gifted in the matter of cooking as I am challenged. Which means that whether by miracle or dumb luck, I do manage to produce something edible, it will not hold a candle to anything either of the grandmas make. So what to do?

The answer came to me a couple of days ago. Baking! That's what I'm going to do! It has several advantages. I love all manner of baked stuff. Nothing I make will be compared to what Mom makes. And since they won't be everyday items, I won't be called upon to produce them too regularly. The perfect solution, don't you think? I'm already dreaming of the wonderful things I'm going to bake - cakes and cookies and brownies, maybe even bread! So this weekend, I am going to blow some cash on baking equipment and supplies and in a week, you should have a report on how my first ever cake turns out.

Maybe when you visit next, you will be treated to some homemade carrot cake or shortbread biscuits. Then again, with my natural gift for all things culinary, they may end up being store bought, and we may be eating them by candlelight because the oven blew out the power supply. But for now, just call me Lady of the Cake! :-)

Edit: Just realised after I posted that this was my 100th post. So even if my little baking project does go bust, at least I can do a small 'yay-me' on this blog project! :-D

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snippets

"Moppet, do you need to go do susu?"

"No!"

"Are you sure? Come on, let's go sit and see"

"No! No, no, no!" (vigorous head shaking)

"Ok, then"

60 seconds later, she's standing in a pool of piddle, her plastic blocks and stacking cups generously splashed too.

She meets my angry glare with equanimity. Straight-faced, she says: "Uh-oh"

********

Moppet is doing her little pick-me-up jig at my feet. I bend down and tell her that big girls go walking; so should she.

She considers this for a moment then points at herself and says "Baby." And looking up at me as if to emphasize my bigness, she pats my knee and says, "Mama, walking."

Confident that there can be no further argument, she raises her arms to be picked up. She is.

********

Whenever she does something good, I usually give her an enthusiastic 'Good girl' and a high five. Moppet has picked this up and uses it to her own end. After she's done some mischief (usually of the expressly forbidden kind), she knows no one's going to say good girl to her, so she says it for herself. "Goo-gal!"

Goo-gal, indeed!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mischief, mysteries, and suchlike madness

There's no doubt about it. I have given birth to a goonda. The fact hit home last weekend when our friends and their 5 year old daughter stayed with us. We went out shopping, and the way Moppet bossed over E, one would think that she was the one who was twice as big and 3 times older. It helped that E is a lovely, sweet natured child who was happy to play along with Moppet's crazy ideas.

Like they would go running down the mall hand-in-hand, yelling some sort of war cry, leaving a scattered bunch of startled shoppers in their wake. Or they would conspire near supermarket aisles, and attempt to knock down powder tins with one swipe, like dominos. Dash into a store and throw around some giant plastic balls that were piled in a corner. And of course, they went completely mad at Toys-R-Us.

I don't think E has done as much mischief in the last year as she managed to accomplish with Moppet in that one hour. She was giggling uncontrollably throughout, although her natural well-behaved self did assert itself at the supermarket and Toys-R-Us, where she followed Moppet, putting back everything she swiped from the shelves.


For the first time, I found myself questioning my wish for 2 or more kids. More kids, like this one? With this one as the gang leader?! Heaven help me!

*************************************************

These days, I am called to Moppet's bedside 3 or 4 times a night, usually with a piteous cry for 'Maaaama', or a croak for 'waaaater'. These are simply dealt with. A pat and a firm 'go back to sleep' is mostly enough for the first cry, and a sip of water takes care of the second.

Sometimes it's other people who are called. Her best friends Ishta (Ishita) and Bin (Ben) are often sent midnight summons, and since her grandpa arrived, Daadu has also been requested on a couple of occasions. Telling her they're still asleep and she should go back to sleep too usually works.

There are also some extraordinary calls - Bucket! Apple! Boat! Bubble! - what on earth is going on inside that little head of hers?

But that's not the mystery here. The real mystery is how her Papa has managed to NEVER be the one getting called at night. What I wouldn't give to be able to turn over in bed, poke him and say - She's calling YOU!

Sigh! In my dreams, maybe.

*************************************************

Apparently Moppet has a fetish for hair. I'd noticed that she liked to play with her friend Ishita's pony tail (much to Ishita's annoyance), but I thought it was more about playing with her than with her hair. Then this little Japanese boy about Moppet's age, owner of a most luxuriant head of soft silky hair moved into our building. For the last few days Moppet has been vigorously chasing him around the park, trying to stroke his hair, causing much merriment among the rest of the park population.

*************************************************

My dutiful DIL phase continues. Actually, my FIL is a sweetheart and is really no trouble to look after, but he does like to talk. A LOT. And unlike his son who gets away with rude remarks like, 'Yeah, I've heard that a dozen times already' or 'Ok, ok, get to the point now', I have to resort to gentler tactics such as 'Ah I remember you mentioned that before', or 'So you were actually tellling me about...' Not half as effective I'm afraid.

But in all, we're having fun. Every afternoon, we explore some new side street in Bangkok together, and have even managed to locate a South Indian restaurant not too far from our apartment. FIL has given his seal of approval: Prices are not alright but it tastes ok like.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Too much to say, too little time

Much has been happening:

Friends visited over the weekend with their 5 year old daughter, and we saw a side of Moppet we had never seen before.

Our first Halloween had over 60 assorted bumble bees, fairies, witches, sprites, superheroes and other nameless ghouls visit our house trick-or-treating. I had more fun than Moppet did though. I think some of the cackling witches were a bit too much for her.

Moppet's Papa claims he has irrefutable proof that our daughter is actually a Klingon.

My father-in-law is here for a visit - last minute plans that suddenly came through. As a result, I have had to transform into dutiful DIL at a moment's notice, and I'm sorry to say I'm badly out of practice! ;-)

At some point, I will post pictures and news, but with Moppet and her Grandpa and an infuriatingly always-on-the-blink internet connection, I'm not quite sure when. (So no third degree on why my next post isn't up yet, ok Dadda?)

See you when I do, folks. Be good!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A weekend by the River Kwai - II

So where were we? Ah, the sights.

Our first stop was the Bridge on the River Kwai, made famous more by the movie (a largely fictitious account) than by its own real and fascinating history. Yes, it was built by prisoners of war in extremely hard conditions, and yes, it was a vital part of the rail link (chillingly called the Death Railway) that would have given the Japanese quick overland access to Burma.

But in actual fact, the POWs didn't themselves heroically destroy the bridge before it could be used. It served its part in the Death Railway for almost 2 years and was then destroyed by Allied aerial bombing, with hundreds on POWs standing on it, a last desperate measure by the Japanese to prevent the attack.

The bridge that stands on the River Kwai today was reconstructed from the original spans of the destroyed bridge. Together with the war museum nearby, it offers not only a fascinating glimpse into the past, but also a sombre reminder of the horror that is war.

On then to more cheery sights, like the magnificent 7-tiered waterfalls of Erawan. The picture is of level 3, which is as far as we got, because the climb got steeper and more slippery with each level and while I thought I could still manage carrying a wriggling Moppet up it, I had doubts about my ability to get back down without breaking either of our necks.

So we settled instead on taking in a dip in the lovely green-blue pool at the foot of one of the falls and then walked back through the national park with hoardes of butterflies flitting across our path as we walked.

The last place we visited was the controversial Tiger Temple. Controversial beause while the monks say that their tigers are tame because they've been reared by humans and are simply used to being around people, there are others who claim the animals are drugged and ill-treated and used only for money-making purposes.

I'm no expert, but I thought the temple appeared to have decent facilities, and the 'donation' asked for is supposed to go towards a new sanctuary for the rescued animals which we saw was under construction. We went to see the tigers in the tiger canyon, and were allowed into the tiger pit (for want of a better word) one at a time, escorted by two volunteers. One to hold your hand, ensure that you make no sudden movements and guide you round the tigers, and the other to take your picture.

I went first, and my guide carefully positioned me behind the first tiger who you can see in the picture - a young fellow, little more than a cub really, who appeared to be sleeping (or drugged? I don't know). I laid my hand gingerly on his back and waited. Encouraged by the fact that he showed no signs of wanting to eat me, I stroked his back, feeling his fur, rough and springy under my hand. As my guide took me from tiger to tiger, I got bolder, kneeling closer and stroking them with both hands. None of them seemed to mind.

Except one big fellow, stretched out on a rock with his pal. The guide led me behind the rock (they always position you behind the tigers) and I leant down and gave him a friendly scratch on his hind leg. THWACK! His surprisingly strong tail lashed me on my thigh and I nearly fell off the rock in shock. Thankfully, he wasn't interested in eating me either, and with my hand no longer on his leg, he seemed to have no futher objection to my hanging around. I wasn't so sure though, so I hurried on to the next tiger, and then scooted out of the pit. Moppet's Papa would later tell me that he got whacked by the same tiger when he tried to touch his paw. Maybe he was just in a don't-touch-me mood that day, who knows?

So in summary, we walked the Death Railway, bathed in the pools of Erawan, and managed not to get killed by an irritated tiger :-) Enough for one weekend, I think!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A weekend by the River Kwai

A not unsuccessful weekend, overall. Moppet was surprisingly well-behaved on the drive to the resort. With a steady supply of otherwise controlled snacks at hand and her moos playing over and over again, she was quite happy to sit in her car seat for the 3 hours it took to get there. The measure of her contentment can be gauged by the fact that she only twice attempted to assassinate her father by aiming her plastic shovel at the back of his head as he drove.

The resort was lovely. Small, with only 10 cottages, it is cosily nestled right on the bank of the River Kwai. The Thai-Dutch couple who run the place were just the right level of friendly, enough to make us feel at home, and yet not overdoing it so much as to be intrusive. Their 20 month old daughter shyly came out to meet Moppet, but then lost her nerve and buried her face in her father's legs.

The mom also came by for a friendly chat with her infant daughter in her arms and completely put me to shame by how gorgeously in shape she was, barely 4 weeks after having her second baby. Of course, that meant I spent the rest of my time around her with my face going red from holding my breath and sucking in my jelly belly (Yes, you can say it, I'm pathetic!). Other than that self-imposed discomfort, our stay there was extremely pleasant.

Moppet got into the groove of things right away. Here you can see her as she explores the cottage and pronounces it satisfactory, lounges on the veranda with her Papa, and impatiently bangs the salt shaker on the table while waiting for lunch at the open-air deck overlooking the river.

Since this was going to be my do-nothing weekend, after I had cleaned and changed Moppet, I banished her to the verandah with her father, while I threw myself on the bed and stayed there. Moppet was quite happy to potter around near the cottage with her shovel and pail, chase down some hapless ants, swallow the odd pebble or two, and make faces at me through the french windows.

On our way back to the cottage after lunch, she spotted the pool and decided she had to take a dip. Because I was looking forward to going back to do-nothing mode, I dissuaded her by pointing out that she didn't have her swimsuit on, and was astonished when she quietened down immediately. Wow, this was something - a new and improved, mature and understanding Moppet. Elated, I practically hopped and skipped back to our room, dreaming of a nice long post-lunch siesta.

Ha! As soon as we reached the cottage, the new and improved, mature and understanding Moppet headed straight to the open suitcase and rooted through it, pulling its contents out onto the floor until she found her swimsuit. Waving it in my face, she kept up a constant refrain of pool? pool? pool? at increasing decibel levels until I finally realised that there could be no siesta.

So off to the pool we went and spent a happy hour or so splashing about and waving hi to random passers by. Refreshed and relaxed (more so than if I had had that siesta, I think), we headed back, decided there was no way we could let Moppet's Papa have the siesta we missed, rudely woke him up, ignored his grumbling, and dragged him off to see the sights.

Up next: The sights, and how I got whacked by a tiger.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gangsta Bunny takes a trip

I believe this is what is referred to as a hoodlum.

Don't let the fluffy white bunny and the girly pinkness fool you. This is a bonafide member of the baby mafia, on a mission to rule the world.

The shovel is to give me a decent burial when I give up the ghost, as I no doubt will in short order, given the accelerated aging that I've been subject to ever since I made the acquaintance of Gangsta Bunny here.

In a bid to reclaim my lost youth, I am taking a trip this weekend to a little resort on the River Kwai. A weekend to relax and do absolutely nothing. Just sit out on the verandah of the cottage, drink in hand, and enjoy the cool river breeze.

Oh, and did I mention what I'm taking along on this relaxing, do-nothing weekend of mine? One small but very potent hoodlum, and one exhausted and therefore highly irritable husband.

Was that a snigger I heard? Stop that! Let an old woman dream, it's all she's got.

Have a great holiday weekend! See you all Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Home

Another insanely early morning, another dull grey airport. Three times in as many days, in as many cities. But at least this time it was home.

Throwing his luggage into the boot of the waiting taxi, he gave quick instructions on where he wanted to go. Home. He leaned back and closed his eyes.

He missed his little girl. He called her every night - he needed her to hear his voice, to know that he was there, even though she couldn't see him. At one and a half, he didn't know how much she really understood, but she seemed to recognise his voice on the phone. "Papa?" she'd say in her clear baby voice. Then happily, "Papa, papa, papa!" That's all she ever said on the phone when he called, and he didn't quite know if it made him feel better or worse.

He loved his family and he loved his job, but there were days when the sheer weight of all the demands on his time and energy felt like a giant hand pressing down on him, pushing him down, down into the ground.

He became aware of voices, and opened his eyes. He noticed a small screen, attached to the dashboard by the front passenger seat, playing a movie. He was horrified. Did the taxi driver have a deathwish? Here they were, just getting onto a high speed motorway, where a split second's inattention could cause a deadly pile-up, and the driver was watching a movie?! He curtly told the driver to switch it off, and turn on the radio instead. The driver complied, and he closed his eyes again, trying not to think of the long day ahead.

It could not have been more than 5 minutes when the voices started again. He sat up abruptly and saw that the screen was back on. "Didn't I tell you to turn that thing off?" he asked the driver, angrily. The driver bowed his head in apology. "I'm sorry, sir" he said, and pointing at the front passenger seat, he added, "Baby."

He saw her then, peeping round the side of the front seat, big frightened eyes staring at this loud, angry man in the back seat. A little girl, not much older than his own. He slid across the back seat to get a better look and saw that the passenger seat had been set up as a sort of play pen for the child. There were some rolled up blankets, a few plastic toys, a bottle of water, and a bowl of food. And of course, the small screen, still playing the movie.

She didn't make a sound throughout the journey. Just sat in the front seat, and played quietly by herself. Was this her life, he wondered. Did she spend her days riding in the cab with her father? Did she have no other family? No home?

He didn't ask, of course. He couldn't. He tipped the driver a little more generously than usual. He wanted to say - for your baby - but he didn't. Instead, he smiled at the small face looking out of the side window, and waved as the taxi moved off.

And then he went in, where the little owner of another pair of big bright eyes squealed in excitement on seeing him and jumped into his arms.

He was home.

(This is a fictionalised account of a true incident)

Monday, October 15, 2007

And another one!

Behold, I am a Schmoozing Super Power! (Except with a much nicer arm) Fuzzy and Timepass have both given me this award because they think I'm a schmoozemeister. Thank you!

The creator of this award refers to schmoozing as the ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.”

But in my mind, this is an award for community involvement, and the people I'm passing on the award to are all wonderful folks who take time out of their lives to support and brighten the days of so many bloggers they've never even met.

So anyway, without any further ado, here are my favourite schmoozers:

Tharini: She has such a welcoming way about her. She was one of the first people to find my blog and leave kind, encouraging comments - which when you're just starting off as a blogger, just gives you such a delirious high. In many ways, she's the glue that holds this mommy blogging community together.

JLT: Sometimes I read a post and end up not leaving a comment because I don't know what to say, but JLT will always find something nice and genuine to say. She's on a blogging break at the moment, being snowed under with life and work, and I miss her warm friendly presence in the blogosphere. Come back soon, JLT!

Poppins: Because she twisted my arm and said give me an award or else! :-D No, seriously, Poppins is one of those bloggers who notices little things in your posts that most people miss. She will take the time out to leave long comments or if it's more private, send an email, passing on information, advice and support. That's really something special.

All the folks at Saffron Tree: I don't know many of them, and the site is not about networking or 'schmoozing' at all. It is about sharing information and opinions on children's books, and I think it is such a wonderful contribution to the community. Thank you all so much for taking the time to share.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It takes one to know one

This evening, Moppet and I were playing with her little doodle pad. I was drawing things on it and she would yell out what they were. I'm no artist, as is obvious from the recreation below (although I'm a bit better with a pencil than with the mouse) but Moppet was able to identify almost everything I drew.

It was great fun. Some of the things she liked so much that I'd have to draw them several times before she'd let me draw something new. We played in this fashion until I ran out of stuff that I could draw that she also knew the name of.

And then I had a brilliant idea. I drew me. Like this.
It's a decent likeness, really. I mean, just the curly hair is enough!

So I proudly show her my artwork, expecting her to say Mama. She takes one look at the picture and gets super excited. She does a little jig around the room and then comes back to jab her finger on my carefully done self-portrait and declare:

"Kaata!"

Cartoon.

Sigh. She's right, isn't she?

Wockabye baby

Suki has given me this hot pink Rockin' Girl Blogger award and I cannot tell you how wonderful that is because of all the people who could've given me this award, she is the most qualified. For one, she's a real teen, an age that I can barely remember. Two, she is wise beyond her years (how else would she have recognised my true girly rockingness?) and three, she really, really rocks.


So it's official people. In the words of Moppet (who has some trouble with her rs) Mama wocks! (Ok, it might sound like mamawask to some of you, but believe me, what she's saying is that I rock. I know because I'm her mommy and I'm telling you so.)

This award has done the rounds, and there have been a lot of deserving winners. I'm not sure if any of the bloggers I'm passing this award onto have already won it, but what the heck, a second one won't hurt, right?

I mean if you're already an Oscar-winning actor, and they give you another one what are you going to do? Say thanks, but I already have one? Of course not, you get up on stage and wave the bald headed little fella around, and thank your mummy and your daddy, oh and most of all you thank your peers (ahem, me!) for validating you.

So here are my wockin' girls:

Dotmom: She's brave, she's smart, she's cleverly funny. You don't get more rocking than that.

Fuzzy: She's the twin I was separated from at birth. Really.

Kiran: Don't let her claims of being overweight and over-the-hill fool you. She's just faahbulous, dahlings!

Boo: I don't know how old she really is, but 'girl' fits Boo perfectly, more than any other blogger I know. And of course, she rocks, so she just has to have this award.

Terri: Now Terri's Mom is probably going to go all Aamir Khan on me and give a lecture on how awards mean nothing, but I couldn't resist. She rocks. And so does Terri. (Ok, call it Rockin' Doggie Blogger if you like)

Monday, October 8, 2007

People don't sing when they're feeling sensible

...said W H Auden; a perfect line for Moppet's Papa and me. We're sensible - even practical - about us, and our relationship. We're not romantic at all. Really. Remember the proposal?

But we do have our moments - completely uncharacteristic, slightly goofy, sometimes cheesy, almost-romantic moments. The song story is one such. It doesn't quite qualify as 'our song' - we don't have one - but it's the most likely candidate for this tag.

Now, Moppet's Papa guards his no-nonsense, no-time-for-romance image fiercely, so for the few people who know him that are reading this - please know that this was a very, very, rare occurrence, an aberration, if you will and there have been no further slips in this regard.

It was at the Marketing Fair at B-School, a weekend affair where folks come and play specially designed games that are supposed to work as consumer research. Then we crunch the collected data and draw out (or make up ;-) deep-sounding insights and conclusions and present fancy reports to the sponsors and profs. It is set up as a fair and along with the various project booths, there are the usual food stalls, fair games, a jukebox etc.

So there I was in my booth when suddenly I heard Moppet's Papa's voice blaring out through the loudspeakers with a sweet little message and a song dedication for me. I nearly died of shock. I know that this won't seem like a big deal to many people, but it really was for me because Moppet's Papa is a very private person, and what he did that day was so completely out of character that it could only have meant one thing - he was crazy in love! Certainly not feeling sensible! :-p

Oh and the song? I Want You by Savage Garden.

Tagging anyone who has a song and would like to share it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The middle name tag

The intrepid Dotmom has handed me the middle name tag.

The three rules to be followed are:
a) The rules must be mentioned in the beginning of the tag.
(Um, why? They'd work just as well at the end, wouldn't they?)


b) You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
(Well, I don't have an official middle name, although I do have a christian name that exists in no official record but my baptism certificate. Having spent a large portion of my life denying knowledge of that name to my husband and friends, you don't think I'm about to tell you, do you? I thought not. So I'm taking the easy way out and choosing Moppet. Also, I'm in a nostalgic mood today, so I'm going to match off the letters with random details from my past)


c) At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

(Oh dear, I think I'm one of the last people doing this tag. Still, tagging:
M
adMomma,
Orchid (whenever she comes out of hibernation),
Parul,
Parul again (just kidding!),
Enigma's Sunita (I know, that's cheating, but I don't know anyone else with an E)
Tharini)


Ok, now that we're done with the rules and stuff, let's get down to business.

M - Maruti 800. Suzi, my first car and first true love, was seven years old when she was given to me on my 18th birthday. She was a very basic model with no air conditioning and no sound system, so on early morning drives, I would just wind down the windows and sing loudly as I drove, feeling the cool breeze on my face and hair. Heaven!

O - Oleander bushes. When I was a kid, my family lived for a few years in a small oasis town in north Africa. In the Sahara. All the buildings in the campus were set around squares lined by Oleander plants in pink and white. Although it was drilled into our heads that they were poisonous, I liked them. They brought colour and life to the dusty grey environment of the campus. It was a happy, carefree time in my life, and seeing Oleander plants always brings back lots of warm childhood memories.

P- Petticoat. What I wore when I went swimming with my granny and cousins in the river (it was more like a large stream, really) near our house in Kerala. Petticoats are thin cotton shifts and are usually white, so once they get wet, they're pretty much useless as body covering. But this was a village, the times more innocent, and it didn't matter to anyone, least of all the bunch of us, splashing, jumping and dunking each other in the stream.

P - Pageant. Yes, I was actually crowned Miss (my school's name) in class X. I got a cheap little crown and a sash and everything! It was at our farewell party, and I had put my name down as a joke, mainly to clown around on stage. I was shocked and hugely embarrassed when I won because I was (and am) under no illusions as far as my looks go. Today, being marginally better groomed, I'd say I'm average looking, but back then as a teenager, I was all bones and teeth and hair, certainly nothing like any beauty queen you've ever seen! Embarrassed as I was, I knew why I had won - they liked me. The judges were a mix of teachers and juniors from school, and I made them laugh with my silly answers to their questions and my refusal to take the whole thing as seriously as the other girls did. I learnt that day that there is such a thing as 'inner beauty', cliched as it may sound, and that there are still plenty of people in the world who can see it.

E - Egg puffs. I've never eaten any as good as the ones made by Real Bakery in Hyderabad. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. I have searched high and low in every city I've lived in since, and eaten a lot of substandard egg puffs as a consequence, but have never found anything that came close to the Real one.

T - The Mask of Zorro. The first (sort of) movie date I had with a guy. It was pouring that day, and we got drenched just getting from the open car park to the cinema hall. And despite being so wet that any movement in our seats would produce embarrassing squelching sounds, we still enjoyed the movie. And I remember we had hot drinks and snacks at a little cafe nearby afterwards.

Ah, those were the days.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Moppet @ 18 Months

In the two months since my last update much growing up has happened. New words are added to Moppet's vocabulary so regularly that it is no longer newsworthy, yet it was barely 4 months ago that her first word had me jumping for joy.

She sings as she goes about her day and the song goes like this:
Taa ta TAA ta TAA ta taa
Owwa owwa waa ya waa
AAPPA aappa waa saa yaa
Daa ta daa ta daa ta taa

If you're scratching your head trying to figure that out, don't bother. Only a fond (and slightly demented) mother who hears it being sung about 50 times a day would be able to recognise it as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

These days, she modifies the first line to match with whatever it is she's doing while singing. So if she's having a bath, the first line becomes Baaya BAAya BAAya ba (baaya = bubble), if she's being dressed, it's Baata BAAta (baata = button) , if she's colouring, it's Paal PAAal (pal = pencil), if she's riding her bus, it's Baasa BAAsa BAAsa bas. You get the idea.

Music has become a major obsession. At playschool, if the music is not playing when she arrives, she will pull one of the teachers to the CD player and get her to start it up. It's the same thing at home. If the track playing is not to her liking, she gets one of us to skip through the tracks until we get to one she approves of, her approval being indicated by vigorous bum wagging and hearty thigh slapping.

Her favourite song is Pal Har Pal from Lage Raho Munnabhai. I have a feeling she likes it so much because she thinks it's an ode to the other great love of her life - the pencil, which she calls 'pal'. She's usually found with a pencil in her hand, and while I try to make sure that colouring happens only on designated sheets of paper, I'm resigned to the fact that the defacement of my cream papered walls is imminent.

I tried to substitute the pencils with washable crayons but she enjoys chewing them too much. Have you ever removed tiny waxy crayola flakes wedged between sharp little teeth in an uncooperative mouth owned by a squirmy toddler? It is a hugely character building exercise.

She has to do everything we do, in exactly the way we do it, whether that's picking out books in the library or sitting up in bed and 'reading' them like her Papa. Including, ahem, reading on the pot.

She's quite happy to sit and do her business on the potty, but never volunteers the information that she needs to go, even if specifically asked. However, having learned from experience that walking on our polished wood floor with wet feet can be hard on her butt, she has taken to calling me imperiously - Mama, susu! - to be rescued from her self-created puddle. My entreaties to tell me before rather than after the event have fallen on deaf ears. Karma, no doubt. My mom tells me that despite being an extremely chatty baby, talking in full and complex sentences, this one thing I would only ever tell her after the fact.

Just my luck. A daughter who has taken almost entirely after her father, and the one thing she gets from me is this?! Sigh. Although there might some hope yet. A strange thing she's started doing is answering 'Mann' when asked her name. It is nothing like her name and she knows it because her answer is always followed by a huge grin and a chuckle when she sees our bewildered expressions. I do believe it might be the beginnings of a cheeky sense of humour. Hurray!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On religion - II

There were so many thought-provoking comments to my last post on religion, that I thought I would respond in a follow up post.

I agree that it's hard to teach children to question at such a young age - and probably not even appropriate. This is an age where they need structure, and religion is nothing if not structured.

I think I will probably end up exposing Moppet to a shallow version of religion - telling her stories from the Bible, celebrating festivals - and when she is old enough to ask questions, I will try and answer them as honestly as I can.

But the last word on this for me is my dad's. He wrote me an email in response to the post, and with his permission, I'm quoting some parts from it here because I think it's really worth sharing:
You're right, "Parents are such enormous influences on their children." That's why the question of parents' responsibilities in their children's development is so important. Are we doing the right thing for our children when we put them through certain experiences and prevent them from others?

My answer is simple. There is no right way to bring up children. In spite of the mountains of parenting wisdom all around us, every parent has to go through the trial and error method to bring up their kids. One is never sure one is right. One has to do what one believes is right, and leave it there. Fortunately for children, parents are not the only influencers. In fact, the tendency of adolescents to rebel against their parents is one of the most beautiful things in life. So parents should not take full credit or blame for the way their children come up.

While there is no one right way to bring up children, I believe there is one wrong way. That is being too sure of oneself and being rigid about it.

[...]

Be yourself. Be honest with yourself and with Moppet. You will influence her thinking, but don't for a moment think that it will be so deep that there will be no room for other influences.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mayil for me, baby

Rows and rows of little shops selling bits and pieces of hardware is probably very close to what my husband imagines heaven is like. Rarely have I seen such a gleam in his eye or such a smile on his face as when he was wandering through that crowded IT Mall, drooling over the latest and greatest in hardware, exclaiming over prices, and pointing out specs to me.

I was along for translation and deal-making services that were required only intermittently during the 3 hours that we were there. So while he pottered around happily in some little store, I plonked myself down on a bench outside to give my aching back a break.

That's when I saw them, a mom and daughter sitting in a hair salon. (Remember, this is Thailand, there are beauty salons everywhere - even in IT malls.) The little girl was about Moppet's age, and her mom was amusing her by throwing a small towel over a stuffed toy and then flicking it off to reveal the toy. The girl burst into loud laughter every time the towel came off and she saw the toy. It was a cute sight, and I watched them with a smile.

But it was a wistful smile, because it's been a long time since it was that easy to make Moppet laugh. A simple trick like the stuffed toy and the towel would earn me nothing more than an inquiring 'how-dumb-do-you-think-I-am' look from her. I remember when she was just a couple of months old, putting her hands together and clapping them would bring on the most gorgeous wide smiles. Peekaboo, funny faces, silly sounds - easy enough, but they only worked for a few more months.

It's not that she doesn't laugh, just that the things that make her laugh are far more elaborate. So when Ally the Aligator strolls along the bathroom platform, falls into Lake Washbasin and screams for help in a shrill falsetto, I get a giggle. And then when Wally the Walrus arrives to rescue Ally and falls in himself, I get another one. When the jug I'm balancing on my head falls off and I just barely manage to catch it, I'm rewarded with an appreciative laugh. And it's even louder if I don't manage to catch it and it bounces off my foot. More laughter when she slips out of my grasp while being lotioned up after her bath and streaks through the house in her birthday suit, with me in hot pursuit. Laughter when she pinches me and says 'AAARGH' herself.

Two days ago,she found these swim goggles and cracked up looking at herself in the mirror. It was just wonderful to watch, for me in particular because although she's taken after her more serious father, my secret (well, not so secret any more now!) wish is that if she could have just one of my traits, it would be the ability to laugh at oneself.

The world is not always a happy place, and life can be hard. Finding humour in every day life helps me stay positive, and I like to think that I'm confident enough in who I am to be able to laugh at myself on occasion. I hope I can give my daughter the same confidence in herself.

But for now I'll settle for another one of those delicious giggles. Time for the tickle monster, I think!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Where have you been?

No less than 3 loyal readers have asked me some variation of this question this weekend. Of course, 2 of them also followed it up with complaints about my last post - 'serious doesn't suit you', 'don't think too much, you'll hurt your little brain' - but I'm an expert selective listener, so that's just background noise to me.

What's important to remember is that they were clamouring - literally begging - for my next post. I have them enthralled! Ooh, the power! I hope it doesn't go to my head! :-D

Sorry, I'm being ridiculous, but last week has been one of those tiring weeks that you can't legitimately complain about because it's no big deal, and you know it, but you still want sympathy and no one will give it to you. Because it really is no big deal. But still...

For most of the last week, Moppet has had a cough and a stuffy nose that's been keeping her up at night. But does the silly creature sleep during the day to make up for the sleepless nights - hers and mine? Of course not, that would make my life too easy, and we most certainly can't have that. Oh no! She insists on gluing her little butt to my lap and whining and cranking and generally using me as a giant snot-wipe.

She is much better now, as she should be, seeing as she has been determinedly transferring her germs to me all week. And with Aunt Flo making a particularly ill-timed visit, let's just say that I'm not going to win any congeniality contests even if the only other participant is a female grizzly bear.

So anyway, this post is just to tell you that yes, all is quite ok, and no, the last post where I actually had to think did not overload my brain, and yes, there will be more posts, and no, they are not likely to be very serious ones. Happy?

Monday, September 17, 2007

On religion

When we meet new people and I mention Moppet's name, something I often hear is 'Oh, but that's not a Hindu name, is it?' No, it's not, I reply and wait for the inevitable follow up question: So you're Indian but not Hindu? What are you then?

For simplicity's sake I say we're Christian, and while it is factually correct, I often feel like a hypocrite saying it. Moppet's Papa and I are Christians simply because of the families we were born into but neither of us practice the religion. Sure, we got married in a church, and Moppet has been baptized, but that was more for our extended families than for us. Christmas and Easter are celebrated, but as social events, not religious ones.

I'm still finding my own way through this, but the clearest way in which I can explain my position is that I believe in God (or some sort of a higher power) and not in any religion. It never really worried me until Moppet arrived. Because I don't know how I'm going to explain this to Moppet. I would like her to understand the religion she is born into, but I want her to choose the religion she follows, if at all. And I don't want my own beliefs, or lack of them, to influence her choice.

But is that possible? Parents are such enormous influences on their children. And aren't we really, at some level, bringing up our children to be stronger, faster, smarter, more successful versions of ourselves?

In my own family, my father is agnostic and my mother, a believer. My dad ensured that I went to Sunday school and got religious instruction, but he also encouraged me to question, think for myself and make my own choices. While this has been his guiding parenting principle across all things in life, in the matter of religion in particular, I think his own beliefs have influenced mine greatly. I remember the long discussions we have had on religion, some when I was just 10 or 11 years old. I remember his honest explanation of his agnostic position, and today I wonder if my experience of religion and spirituality as a child might have been different if it hadn't been seen through my dad's agnostic lens.

As an adult, I have no regrets about that. But as a mother, I wonder if I can be involved in my daughter's understanding and experience of religion without colouring it with my own.

I wish I knew.

Edited to add: I realise that the post does not quite explain why I want Moppet to experience and understand religion, if I don't believe myself.

One, as Kiran mentioned in the comments, religion does bring a sense of identity. There is a sense of community and belonging that I do not want to deprive Moppet of. Growing up, we went to church as a family every Sunday, my dad included. He believed his obligation to our church community was a social one, and fulfilled it religiously [sorry, just couldn't resist ;-)] I owe Moppet the opportunity to belong, and should she later choose not to, that is her decision to make, not mine.

Two, faith also brings hope, strength, and a sense of purpose. Especially as a child, when life can be so confusing and overwhelming, I think it is nice to be able to believe in a guardian angel, to know that miracles can happen. For all my feelings about religion being man-made, and rituals designed for an earlier time that have no relevance in today's world, there is certainly much human wisdom in religious texts that I would like Moppet to learn.

Thank you all for your comments. I know there are no easy answers, but your support and understanding gives me hope.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

He turns in his grave, the Bard

Ok guys, if after this post you don't hear from me anymore, it probably means that my husband has murdered me and thrown my body into the Chaao Phraya river.

Tharini, this is all your fault! :-)

In the early months of Moppet's life, her Papa came up with the accurate, if unoriginal nickname of 'Poopy'. He'd go nose to nose with her and say 'Hi PooOOoopy', and about half the time she would respond with a grimace and live up to her name.

That wore off by the time she was about 5 or 6 months old and a new nick was created - 'Bumboola'. This one is still used on occasion, usually when she's done something naughty (Come here, Bumboola, you!)

But by and large, he has been wonderfully restrained in the matter of nicknames. He usually calls her by her name or the very innocuous 'Kiddo'.

So if it hadn't been for the fact that poor Moppet has an absolute loon for a mother, she would probably have gone through her childhood unscarred by any over the top monikers.

But alas, that was not to be. I mostly call her Kunji which translates to 'little one'. Variations are Kunjoos, Kunjubaba, Kunjubobs, and sometimes even K-bob, as in 'Whatcha upto K-bob?'

Kuttaapoo, Kuttaapi, and Kuttapai have also been employed at one time or another. Even Kunjukundi, which means 'little butt' (Oh dear, I have so got to take down this post before she learns how to read!)

But worst of all is our song. The last syllable of Moppet's name rhymes with 'me', so our song goes like this:

Mama: Who's Mama's cuddlebunny?
Moppet: Me, me, (her name)!
Mama: Who's Mama's chocolate puddin'?
Moppet: Me, me, (her name)!

You get the idea.

Moppet can't pronounce her name yet, so she only does the 'me, me' part - but she recognises the sing-song tone and usually answers 'me, me' to almost anything I choose to put into the song.

Therefore we have her enthusiastically saying 'me, me' in answer to 'potty queen', 'coconut head', and 'gudlugooba' (which means owl in Telugu), and pretty much anything that pops into my head. Umm, at what age do kids start consciously remembering this stuff? I had better stop before she gets scarred for life!

Now to diffuse the embarrassment by spreading it around a bit. Tagging NM, Cantaloupe's Amma, Rbdans (or DDMom), Mystic Margarita, Sunita, and Choxbox (although you're allowed to decline it if you think n3 might find it too embarrassing).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quirky? Me?

Tagged by not one, but two funny ladies (and I mean that in a nice way). Y and Kiran have ordered me to list my quirks, and five no less!

Here goes:

1. I'm a nitpickomaniac. I sweat the small stuff. Which is weird, because I'm generally pretty calm about the big stuff. My life can be crumbling about my ears and I will be worrying about whether my slippers need washing.

2. You won't like watching movies with me. I'm always looking for and pointing out logic flaws and mistakes of continuity. I also ask a lot of questions during the movie - Why did he do that? Where did she come from? But how can that be? It drives Moppet's Papa crazy and I understand why, but (so?) I still do it.

3. I need to wave my hands around when I talk. And I'm a chatterbox. As result, talking to me in confined spaces can be a dangerous undertaking. My grandfather used to say that the only way to shut me up was to tie my hands behind my back and I think he was right. I recall now that when Moppet was younger, I didn't talk as much as is normal for me and I guess it was because my hands were full of baby and my mouth was unable to work solo.

4. When I'm reading or watching TV, I chew my lower lip. I mean really, really chew, often to the point of bleeding. I acquired this disgusting habit in my early teens and it has reached a point where I'm not even aware I'm doing it. My mom tried everything - yelling, cajoling, shaming - until she gave up in the hope that when I acquired a boyfriend / husband, he would be able to stop me. But I don't think Moppet's Papa even notices it, so her hopes have now turned to Moppet. I think it will eventually be Moppet who will force me to stop, but she's not old enough to notice yet, so I have a few more years to eat my lower lip in peace.

5. I'm ticklish beyond belief. I have been known to squeal and giggle uncontrollably when Moppet's Papa lets his hand hover (not touch mind you, just hover) over the sole of my foot and says, 'I'm thinking about tickling you'. He, of course, has buffalo hide for skin and is not ticklish at all. So unfair.

So there you have it. What do you think, how high do I rate on the quirkometer? Here's the scale, eleven being the least quirky and fourty-four being the most quirky (Why those numbers, you ask? It's a quirkometer, silly!)

11. Duh?
22. Look, it's alive!
33. A perfect specimen.
44. Excuse me, which planet are you from?

Tagging JLT, Fuzzy, Something To Say, DotMom, Gauri and anyone else who'd like to do this tag.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Holiday tales

Back home, after a whirlwind weekend in beautiful Singapore. Having travelled plenty with Moppet, I have long since ceased to expect anything but the unexpected. Moppet's Papa however, was rather surprised because the holiday was nothing like the holiday we planned. It was better.

We ended up doing very little sightseeing, but got to meet up with several friends, many of whom we had not met in more than 5 years. It was a bit strange - all these folks we knew at B-school, now moms and dads, dealing with the madness that is life with young children. It took some getting used to, but it was really nice to be able to talk about babies, parenting survival tips, and spousal quirks and not feel too old, too frumpy, too out of it, or simply weird :-)

Squiggles and her parents graciously hosted us and took us around town. Contrary to my fears, Moppet was rather well-behaved, with only a few minor episodes - repeatedly decapitating one of poor little Squiggles' dolls, objecting vigorously if I carried Squiggles (which I didn't do much of anyway since Squiggles also made it clear that I was not a preferred carrier), running amok at the Borders bookstore, and attempting to poke a waitress in the butt with her spoon while waiting for her dinner - all quite tame by Moppet's standards.

For all that Squiggles is only 3 months old, she gamely came with us as we drove around the city, despite not being a fan of the car seat. She's a strong-minded little creature who knows exactly what she wants and reminds me so much, temperament-wise, of Moppet at that age. She protested strenuously, but once she realised that it wasn't working, settled in and treated us all to some lovely cooing and gurgling.

We also celebrated Squiggles' 3rd month birthday. Please observe the lip-smacking Moppet hovering around the fresh-cream pastry and Squiggles' wary what's-she-doing-to-MY-cake look. After which, Squiggles Mom demonstrated to Moppet the best way to eat cake - stick your finger into the fresh cream and lick it off. Moppet gave it a tentative try, and then went wild! Some of the cake managed to find its way into her mouth, the rest was on her face, hair, arms, and the furniture. Not to mention what all that sugar did to her later in the evening as she whooped and spun around the room until she finally collapsed in exhaustion sometime near midnight.


Just like our holiday, actually. We got a lovely little taste of Singapore and whooped and spun around until we were beat. A big, big thank you to Squiggles' Mom and Dad for making the whole trip such fun!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Whims and fancies

God knows I've complained enough about being unemployed, but it does have its advantages. Like tomorrow, Moppet and I are going to Singapore - just like that! Moppet's Papa is already there, and we'll be joining him for the weekend. Not the kind of almost spur of the moment thingy a working mom could do, eh?

We'll be staying with a brave (some would say foolhardy) friend who I haven't seen in over 6 years. Naturally, I would like to make a fabulous impression, but there's something about the glint in Moppet's eye when I beg her to be good and not embarrass Mama that tells me I had better go and practice my abject apology speech.

Ah well, que sera sera. Leaving you with a picture of Moppet and her current fancies in life:

1. A book called Bright Start, which has lots of photographs of children. Moppet loves flipping through this book, pointing out which kid is crying and showing me how, which one is drinking waatha or joos, which one is sleeping, and so on.

2. Our old digicam. She takes it all over the house and every so often, squints into the lens and says maayil. Since the object being ordered to maayil is usually unable to comply on account of being inanimate, she goes ahead and does it for them.

3. The top obsession of the moment is her pair of hot pink flip-flops. I have a pair of pink slippers that I wear around the house, and Moppet is always yanking them off my feet and attempting to wade around the house in them. So when I saw these slippers, I just had to buy them for her, even though the smallest size they had was too big for her.

She hasn't quite mastered the art of walking in them yet; they fly off her feet as she trots around and I keep hearing exasperated yells of 'chooooooz!' as she runs to pick them up and put them on again. But for all the trouble they're giving her, seeing as she spends more time on her butt, trying to fit them on her feet than actually walking around in them, she absolutely adores them.

I'm going to have to hide them away tonight or she will insist on wearing them to the airport tomorrow, which will be an absolute disaster.

See y'all Monday, folks! Have a nice weekend!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Why Barney NEVER wears pants

Far, far away, in an ancient land once called Siam, there lived a little girl. Sixteen moons after she was born, a google-eyed oracle sent warning that the child was a small yet potent version of an erstwhile dark lord, but her parents paid no heed.

Indeed, it seemed that they might be right, for apart from a single unfortunate incident involving a blue elephant, the little girl showed no signs of any predisposition to evil.

And so it was that they all lived happily together, the little girl, her mother, father, and her best friend - a purple dinosaur called Baani.

It was but an innocent game that started it all. As night drew near, the little girl was preparing to retire to her bedchamber with the assistance of her father. All went well until the little girl decided she did not wish to wear her pantaloons.

Her father, that noble squire, blessed with every virtue but patience, did not take kindly to his daughter's refusal. A quick chase around the bedchamber led to her capture, but his attempts to restrain her and put the pantaloons on her met with resistance so fierce that in exasperation he made a thunderous declaration. Should the she refuse to wear her pantaloons, they would be given to Baani. Seeing that the declaration had no effect, he proceeded to stuff the hapless dinosaur into the little girl's pantaloons even as she watched in horror.

Then all hell broke loose.

It was at this moment that the mother entered the bedchamber. Oh, has ever a mother witnessed a more wretched spectacle?! Her only child, in the throes of a mad rage, screaming and wrestling with a dinosaur in an attempt to tear off his pants!

'Tis true, gentlefolk, and you are right to be shocked. But the wickedness does not end there.

For the mother, far from being horrified, as any gentlewoman ought to be, collapsed in unseemly mirth next to her husband, who was already rolling on the bed, tears of laughter streaming from his eyes.

It was some minutes before either of them thought to rescue Baani from being completely ravaged at the hands of their child. The little girl soon fell into a deep and happy slumber, proudly wearing the retrieved pantaloons.

Baani, however, carries the memory like a scar on his heart to this day. Which is why you will NEVER see him wearing pants of any sort. Ever.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

The verdict is in

Note to the J-monster: Please be assured that this entire post is about a certain little girl who is not Moppet. Any resemblance you may notice is purely coincidental.)

So it's official. Playschool rocks.

Yesterday I arrived early to pick her up, and passed the time watching the kids at lunch through the big glass windows of their dining room. I watched The-Girl-Who-Is-Not-Moppet shovel down her food with an enthusiasm she had hitherto reserved exclusively for jumping and noise-making. Honestly, her teachers probably think I don't feed the child at home! I watched entranced as she returned her plate and glass (helped by a teacher) to the kiddy-sized counter, and bestowed an enormous thank-you grin upon the lunch lady who took the plate and glass.

After being cleaned up - with warm towels, what luxury I tell you! - she then headed to the bookshelf in the corner of the dining area and pulled out a few books to leaf through. Her teacher's requests to put the books back as it was time to go home were studiously ignored. In an attempt to hurry her along, the teacher pointed me out, standing smush-nosed against the glass window.

She looked up at me, put the books back on the shelf, and trotted towards the door where I waited. As I knelt to pick her up, she gave a little 'where have you been?' wail, but I could see that it was a half-hearted effort, more for effect than anything else. (She's a right little drama queen - I know, because she gets that from me.) She then proceeded to sing the I-love-you song - aaee laaa ye - and hug her teacher, before letting me lead her out to find her chooz.

So playschool has been given a great big thumbs up. In celebration, we promptly bunked today and went swimming instead. And then we lazed around for the rest of the morning. No, correction, I lazed around while she worked hard on her thesis. She's apparently doing serious research into new techniques to break her own head. (Do they make crash helmets for babies? Where can I get one?)

The-Girl-Who-Is-Not-Moppet at Playschool Pictures taken by my (lousy) camera phone, over the first couple of days at playschool.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Remember...

...the frisson of new love, when it's a secret that belongs only to you and him?

...those stolen kisses in an empty classroom, or on a dark night outside rented rooms hoping your nosy landlady won't catch you?

...the thrill of cuddling behind the flimsy curtains of the lower side berth in a 2-tier AC compartment?

Do you miss that? The danger of getting caught?

Try it with a toddler sleeping just a few feet away from you. Even better if the toddler is a light sleeper :-)

Btw, this was a tag.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moppet goes to playschool: Mama's version

I have felt for some time now that Moppet could do with a different, yet safe and stimulating environment in which to play and explore, other than just our home. Regular play dates with kids around her age would have been enough, but we don't have any friends with kids in her age group. So she gets to play with me and Nanny day in and day out and I thought playschool would be a welcome break from the monotony (for all three of us!).

Of course, the school itself was a big factor in the decision. It's not just the great infrastructure (although that's certainly important), but the overall philosophy of the place that I like. Even the name: Purple Elephant. With a name like that, you can be sure that these folks aren't going to tell kids that mangoes can't be blue!

There is no structured curriculum - it really is just a 'play' school, especially for the kids in Moppet's age group. The teachers let the kids do their own thing, watching for a chance to occasionally explain a concept or show them something new, just as we would do at home. But there are also some activities that the kids are encouraged to do together, like music and water play.

The teachers are well-trained and full of energy, and they obviously love their little charges. I like that they understand that each child is different, and are willing to try different approaches with each child.

The first couple of days, I stayed with Moppet for the whole 3 hours. For Moppet this meant that she felt secure enough to explore the whole school and find her bearings in the new environment. For me, I got to watch how the teachers interacted with the children and how they dealt with children whose parents could not stay and were having a hard time. But most importantly, I got to see what a blast Moppet was having and I realised how much I had underestimated her.

I was shell shocked that she was the first one to volunteer when a teacher brought out a big bouncy ball and asked who wanted to be bounced on it. I did a double take when she went up and asked for water, then drank from the little paper cup all by herself. And I watched with disbelief as she sat at the table with the other kids and polished off her snack like she hadn't eaten for months.

So on day 3, when her teacher suggested that I try leaving for an hour, I was ready to give it a shot. I knew she would cry. Going off to sleep in her own bed with trusted ol' Nanny by her side is one thing, but having me hand her over to a person she barely knew and wave goodbye was too much for her. Although I had told her repeatedly that I would come back to pick her up soon, she just couldn't bear to see me go.

It was heartbreaking, walking away from my baby, hearing her calling out for me. By the time I reached the end of the lane, I was a sniffling, snivelling mess. Moppet's teacher had promised that she would call me if she felt that Moppet was getting too stressed, so I decided to walk around near the school. There was no call, but despite my best efforts to stay away for an hour, I ended up back at the school in under 40 minutes. (Ok, it was more like 25 minutes)

I waited nervously on the verandah until she was brought out, looking terribly woebegone in her teacher's arms . She burst into tears when she saw me and literally jumped onto me.She pointed to the row of kids' shoes arranged on the verandah and said chooz, meaning let's get my shoes and get the hell outta here! But as soon as we found her shoes and put them on she was smiling again, and even stopped to wave bye to her teacher.

I was told that she had cried for pretty much the entire time that I had been gone, stopping for five minutes to look at a picture or listen to a song before starting off again. But they did find that she preferred to stay in the music room, and that if one of the teachers sang to her, she would quiet down and listen.

I had thought that she might not want to go back to playschool the next day (today) but she was raring to go, hefting her precious kaakpa (her backpack containing a change of clothes and a spare diaper), and singing rhymes with me in the cab on the way over. Today, for the hour that I left her, she cried hard for a while, but when the music started, her teacher said that she actually clapped along and smiled. Phew!

As I write this, she has just come looking for me in the study, dragging her kaakpa behind her and demanding her chooz. I tell her that school's over for today, that we'll go again tomorrow, but she wants to go now.

Oh no, tantrum alert! Gotta go!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Moppet goes to playschool

Hello folks! The big news around here is that I've started playschool!

Mama keeps saying she'll post about it, but I think this whole playschool thing has been harder on her than on me. She just collapses on the sofa when we get home and whines about being in no mood to do anything.

Really, I don't know how she managed anything before I came along...

Anyway, coming back to playschool. I wasn't too sure about it at first - there were a lot of strange big people around who kept coming up to me and acting overly friendly. A couple of demonstrations of my superior lung power, and they backed off pretty quickly. No more trouble from them. It's always important to establish early on who the boss is :-)

The place itself seems rather nice. For one, there is the most fabulous sandpit - huge, and with tons of toys. I dived right in and spent some fun time making mud pies with the other kids and stealing their flags to stick in mine.

I didn't particularly want to go in at 'inside time' and complained a bit to Mama, but she told me there was more fun stuff inside that I wouldn't want to miss. And boy, was she right! There was a toy fort right in the middle of the room, more toys than I had ever seen before, a big fish tank with fish and turtles, playdough and paints and chalk, and baskets of books everywhere. I was so excited I kept running round and round the room trying to decide what I should play with first, before finally grabbing a book and a car and climbing into the toy fort to play.

I played for some time, but I had to keep an eye on Mama who kept wandering off. Every so often, I'd go look for her, find her chatting with some big person in another room and drag her back by the hand to where I was playing. I think I need to get a leash for her.

Then we had a music session, where Teacher J played the guitar for us, and all the kids joined in with their own instruments that they chose from a big box. It was very loud and a bit scary, so I cried and held on tightly to Mama. But when Teacher J started singing some of my favourite songs, like The Wheels On The Bus, and Row Your Boat, I felt much better. In fact, by the end, I felt good enough to join in myself with a drum I picked out of the big box.

Snack time was nice. We got milk and fruits and crackers and I sat at the table with the other kids and polished it all off. Mama was very surprised that I ate everything by myself and told me that she was really proud of me for being such a big girl.

Then outside for some more fun and games. I spotted a black pickup truck that I really liked, so I got in and said bye to Mama and drove off. Ok, I didn't really drive off, just sat there and spun the steering wheel. Mama went and sulked sat on the verandah while I played.

Back for some more 'inside time' - and this time I didn't mind going back in at all. I also like washing my hands - the washbasins are at just the right height for me, and they squirt some nice coloured soap into my hands which makes lots of bubbles.

We finished off with some lunch - soup and pasta - which was ok, but I think I had eaten too much at snack time, so I didn't eat much lunch. I was also rather tired - it had been a very exciting day but I was happy to go home. I said bye to everyone and blew kisses all around.

Mama said we can come back tomorrow. I think I'd like that.

****

Coming soon: Mama's version of events, and days 2 & 3