Buckle up Baby !

I first thought of calling this post “survive the long drive with baby in tow”. I am no expert but I learnt some valuable lessons on taking a road trip with baby during our short vacation and not-so-short drive to USA. I don’t know why we decided on a spur of the moment to spend an extended long weekend in the bean-town and how we rationalized driving to our destination with our sixteen month old baby but that is what it was. We actually ended up having a lovely trip and a refreshing vacation. These are the lessons I took away:

1. It doesn’t get easier with age

All my internet search and first hand accounts of friends point to this. The older the child gets the more difficult it is to take a road trip. The children grow up to be more demanding and less co-operative as they age , so my tip to any new parents out there who are holding off on road-trips with-in or outside your city waiting for the child to be little bit older, the time to do it is now!!

As a side note, let me remind you that as far as children are concerned , strength does lie in numbers. ( the number of kids in the car is directly proportional to the number of breaks you’d need to take, the number of questions asked and the amount of garbage bags you’d need to carry!)

2. Forget traveling light.

Before my daughter was born, My husband insisted on traveling light. Packing things that were absolutely necessary and taking only the things we could carry. Now he is not so sure. The things we took for our little one outnumbered the both of us put together. Diapers, wipes, extra sets of change clothes, tissues, towels, sunblock, hat and toys and what-have-you need to be carried wherever you go in addition to all of your own stuff.

Though I must admit the stroller comes in really handy to hang your bags off but that also means you have to push all that too.

my girl tries to push her own stroller!!

3. Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment.

Yeah the baby needs to be entertained at all times with the exception of nap time. so I was prepared with books, toys and her favorite songs on my mp3 playlist. Since being tied to a car seat does not provide much room for movement, we ended up singing some action songs and filled up my journal with the bay’s sketches. (she loves to draw!). Now I realize what a great idea it is to have those video screens in family vehicles. It is among the easy ways of keeping the children occupied and entertained requiring almost no effort on your part.

4. Freedom within boundaries

The resistance started the moment I strapped my sixteen month old, who has started to exert independence and wants to explore places (things and whatever else) on her own, into her car seat. Goes without saying, I had to be extremely patient in dealing with her.

Even when we were site seeing, I had to give my daughter ample time and space to move around on her own , explore things at her own pace. The rules don’t change for kids when you are traveling. You have to define how far they can go and things they can do. Freedom with in boundaries means , you and the child both get to enjoy the trip.

5. It pays to be prepared.

It’s a war people! You would never regret being prepared with a kid around. Be prepared with things you would need and the things you never saw coming. My baby girl threw up on us during a whale-watching cruise and I am happy my backpack was packed full with everything I could have possibly needed including a change of clothes for baby and me.

well….. there is one last lesson I learnt , although I would have loved to leave my list to a good odd number 5…but i think this is the most important one

6. there is no “I” in team!

my husband and I have well laid out division of labor around the house, things he does and things I don’t do ……but when you travel you gotta improvise! I can tell you with certainty, traveling with kids becomes easier with a partner, or a friend or family!

 

All the work was worth it whenever we saw our little daughter enjoying herself (well, all she needed was just us…the place didn’t matter that much ….. right!). Our trip may not have been the most smoothest sailing but it was a happy one

Phir Milenge!!

Honey, I hid those things!

My mom used to say you can find a lot about someone’s personality by looking at their handwriting. She encouraged us to practice and improve our handwriting. I remember putting in extra effort while writing cards or letters to many member of my family who lived in different parts of the country. As an architecture student, lettering was one of the first things I learnt and practiced. I think my love for the written word grew stronger as the time went by.

I really believe you put a little bit of yourself when you send a hand written note. Buying notebooks, sketchbooks, journals and all sorts of pens and colors is where the line between my professional needs and personal likes is blurred.

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I spend some time daily either writing or drawing and my daughter loves to watch me draw. She often points out towards objects she wants me to draw for her.

My curious little kitten has recently developed a love for scribbling. She takes any pen or pencils she can gets her hands on and starts scribbling on any and every surface.

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My first reaction was to protect her from hurting herself with the pointed tips of most pens and pencils. I wanted to to be enthusiastic and encourage her effort  to scribble so I replaced pens and pencils with soft tip markers and crayons but after a lot of soiled shirts and sheets, I proceeded to buy washable colors. Once again I have changed my mind.

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Caught red-handed literally!

These days anything that is in her hands finds its way into her mouth. I am concerned because I don’t want all the coloring chemicals to get into her system. So I did the next best thing . My husband was at a loss the other day when he could not find one writing instrument to write something down.

Bye bye pens and crayons….. I hid those things!

I could not bring myself to deprive my child entirely of the opportunity to scribble and here the digital world came to my rescue. I chanced upon the Sketchbook pro App for Ipad. This comes from Autodesk, the makers of AutoCAD software that most of my architect/ engineer friends might be familiar with.

This way my daughter can scribble to her heart’s content without spoiling her clothes, or sheets or walls. As I am discovering now, this is a really versatile application for people who like to draw. See sketchbook in action here.

Even though ink-on-paper has a nostalgic appeal to me……and even though I don’t think we are becoming a paperless society anytime soon….. You won’t easily find a pen, pencil or any color markers lying around in my house these days.

Honey, I hid those things!

Phir Milenge!!

POST SCRIPT: to my daughter :

All scary things that are on the news

all harmful words and the scary views

all tough things that can come your way

I wish I could hide them all away

*

I can pray for protection-pray for direction

I can pray you find the strength & conviction

I wish I could do it all, wish I could say

honey, don’t worry, I hid those things away

*

This world may not be a perfect place

Hard to find some peace and some solace

let Faith, Hope and Love be your guide

to face the scary giants and never Hide.

 

Phir Milenge!!

Zen and the art of doing the dishes

 

I must have been seven when my cousin first asked me the puzzle of the lion, the goat and the hay bell. It took me a really long time to find the solution.  As a stay-at-home mom, Life has thrown another similar puzzle my way. It’s called the baby, the nap and the work done. 

 
So far this is how it has played out.
 
Happy baby + good sleep = no job done
 
Happy baby + job done = no sleep
 
Job done + good sleep = crying baby
 
Similar to the puzzle these three can peacefully co-exist only in the presence of the farmer ( read my husband) and can be solved when you throw him in the mix. Weekend is when my house is clean, baby is happy and I complete my back log of sleep. Rest of the week is a different story.
 
Believe me , I am no clean freak. I have always taken it easy but I did have a  habit of doing a job from start to finish in one go.  A year ago, I would have joked with my mother in law for her love of cleaning and the stress she takes over keeping the house in order. Didn’t the Good Shepherd once say, ““Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one”?
 
 Yeah I chose only the ‘needed’  parts ….. [wide grin]….
 
I can understand and appreciate her view point now. As a stay at home mom, one must pay continual attention. It is easy to get lazy and soon daily chores become weekly and weekly chores become monthly and some never get done enough.  I now do a lot of things in piecemeal fashion which can be a bit frustrating for me and that’s where doing the dishes comes to my rescue. 
 
It may appear dull and tedious  but it is my one job of the day which is small enough to be finished in one go and see the results immediately. Till the next spoon falls in, I can sit back and admire the Empty  kitchen sink. It gives me “peace of mind” and then I can be enthusiastic about taking the next task on!
 
Whether its a job to be done or an enjoyable pastime, a lot depends on our attitude…… Beauty and joy can be easily found.
 
I hope you are able to find the small things today that give you joy. 
 
Phir milenge!!

Morning Rain

9:00 a.m. on a sleepy Tuesday morning. Husband is already on his way to work and Rachel is still sleeping. We have been getting rain showers all night and sky is still overcast.

I like mornings like this. Sitting by my window with a cup of tea…. writing away….seems like there is nothing better to do.

Every thing seems refreshed in the rain, don’t you think ?

As if paused to take a moment’s rest, these tiny droplets lay their heads on the branches of the tree and as if the tree is proudly wearing them like jewels. It has no clue how pretty it looks though.

Looking at the day ahead, I am thinking of the challenge that I should face today. the little one is getting her shots today and if last time is anything to go by I am bracing myself for a lot of tears. How do you prepare your little one for pain? Pain management can be easy for me but how do I tell her?

…..that a little bit of pain is good for you

….in a little while you will forget this too

….I will be besides you all the way

….just know that the pain does go away

But for this moment the worries are all forgotten

But for this moment there is no pain

my little girl is sleeping, dreaming

beauty is in this moment – baby and morning rain.

EDIT:- It is been four hours since I began this post. We got the shots.

There was a little fear

and a whole lot of tears

To cheer her I did try

hurt, the baby did cry

Now there is peace again

forgotten is the sting of pain

baby once more is sleeping dreaming

and there is beauty , still there is rain