Monday, December 24, 2007

Getting over the 1 year mindset

Lil General turned 1 on 18th December. Strangely, that changed a lot of things for me. My attitude, my mindset towards him. He is still a baby to the world but to me he has grown up in ways only I can understand.

Let me explain. I don't panic at the drop of a hat. I'm cool if he has fallen down; if he is running temperature. Don't interpret that as being reckless or callousness towards him. I still take the precautions and necessary action when needed but don't raise hell and call every person in the family. I can handle stuff on my own. I've grown up with him; I treat him just like another human being who can understand me but can't communicate verbally yet. I am confident enough to take him to the Doctor alone. I don't rush to pick him or massage him when he falls. I stay close but I let him recover. He is growing and has to understand the consequences of actions, I tell myself.

His food has changed phenomenally too. As if it made a huge difference between 17th December and 19th December. On 17th December it was the same old Cerelac and mashed rice and dal. Suddenly, on 19th all that changed. He has tasted more vegetables/ fruits, more textures, more variety in the past week than all the months put together. He was all grown up in a week to be able to bite Pomegranate, grapes and musk melon - something that I had never tried before. I refrained from Honey for fear of botulism for a year. When he coughed a couple of days back, I felt honey would soothe his throat and it did. Cheese slices were hard on his digestive system, I perceived earlier. Now, it's ok to give even 2 slices in a day. A month before, when he would hang around us while we ate lunch. dinner with dropping tongues all he got was a hug / kiss and his bottle of water. Now, I treat him a with a bite from my plate that is met with a satisfied smile.

It's alright to venture out without wearing socks now while we protected him with socks, cap and jacket every time we went for a walk. How come it's alright to pick something from the floor and eat now? Ofcourse, we are quick to snatch it from his hands and throw it away.

Nothing has changed much. Only our mindset has. The difference a date makes, a milestone makes. He reminds us that he is still a baby when he falls asleep after every three hours and that his body can only take so much.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Curiosity at its best

Kids are curious little creatures. I admire the vast reserves of energy and enthusiasm they carry - wonder where all that goes once we grow up! The one thing we were scared of in our house happened today. The entrance to our house does not have a wooden door, instead it is a large iron grill that opens to the drawing room on one side and a staircase on the other. Once LG learned how to crawl, we've ensured that the grill is always closed at all times of the day.

Our fear came true this morning. The Seniol had gone downstairs briefly after closing the grill to attend to some mechanical fault in our scooty while I was preparing tea in the kitchen. It's LG's habit to follow The Seniol on his way out. He usually stands by the grill until The Seniol returns. I assumed he did the same this morning too and continued with my chores. There was a loud sigh from The Seniol after a few minutes and I rushed to see with shock that LG was sitting at the top of flight of stairs. One wrong step and he would be rolling down.

The Seniol swore he had pulled the grill gate, so we recreated the scene to see what LG does and how he managed his way through. He stood on the extreme corner and mustered all his strength to slide the door wide enough to let his head through, then got down into crawling position and pushed his head out. Once the head was out, he pushed his body sideways and got himself out in a matter of seconds. That really was child's play. We've decided to secure it with a lock now and stay careful.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lil General's First Birthday Party

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of that evening was the smile on LG's face and how happy he was in the company of some sane adults - such a welcome change than seeing his parents every minute of the year that just passed by.

We had a small gathering of about twenty odd friends on Saturday evening to celebrate the wonderful year we had with Lil General. I was all anxious this time round last year as to when he would cease to exist as a foetus and appear as a real person. Technically, it wasn't his birthday yet on Saturday - 15th December. We just planned the party for a Saturday so that there wouldn't be anything hush-hush about the evening and everyone could be relaxed without having to worry about getting back to work, school the next day which would eventually put the hosts at ease as well. (I know such a selfish thought!) I was against the idea of having it on a day that wasn't LG's birthday but sometimes being practical helps - he is at such a age that the celebration is more for the happiness of his parents and it doesn't matter to him if we celebrate it a day or two earlier or later. For that matter, he wouldn't mind such a gathering every day - for him life is a celebration everyday.

The party didn't have a theme. With the both the boys at home sick the past fortnight, all the time and effort was spent on feeding medicines and tending to them which left little room for anything else. Of the Ferrari and Orange theme, we had finally settled for the Orange color theme as LG can better relate to colors now than Grand Prix. Eventually, I had to drop the Orange theme as well, as I couldn't get customized invitations, orange colored balloons and collage of his pictures from every month, in place on time. The music we had initially chosen was classical masterpieces from Beethoven / Mozart. So, we kept it simple - few balloons around the room and a "1" shaped black forest/strawberry creme layered cake with a musical candle.

It never once occurred to us that he would be uncomfortable amidst strangers. He has received unknown faces quite well in the past without being a clingy child in public. The only thought racing my mind that evening before we started was his crankiness due to lack of / disturbed sleep in the afternoon. The thoughtful Seniol made it easy for us by asking us to come in a lil late that gave me a good 30 minutes to put him to sleep. LG was still asleep when I picked him up to leave for the venue. Once we were there, he was all fresh and chirpy eager to go to others - enjoying the antics and the warmth of everyone's shoulders.

Posing for the camera comes naturally to him but I regret not having enough and good pictures of the evening. There were a bunch of eight kids of all ages who had a great time running around in circles and their moms found the evening opportune enough to let their hair down without worrying about what their kids were upto.

I was told the food - (regular North Indian cusine with Chilli Paneer and Veg Manchurian for starters and Carrot Halwa, Gulab Jamun for Dessert ) and service was good.

I know some of you stop by here regularly. Thank you for coming and making the evening special for us. I hope you enjoyed as much as we did.

Happy Moment : Every minute of the evening

Sad Moment : Both set of Grandparents' absence.

Naughty Moment : LG picking on Nidhi's mask during the kids' photo shoot

Carefree Moment : Seeing the lil' girls run tirelessly around the hall through the evening

LG turns one on 18th December.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LG's mom : You should be more patient

So said the Pediatrician, during our last visit. There was no concrete reason for that visit; just to satisfy my whims and fancies and get a reason for the sudden fussiness in eating. I knew the answer all along but nothing is more comforting than hearing it from the Doc's mouth. The cough was troubling LG because of which he switched to pursed lips at the sight of food. Doc had one sane advice : don't force feed him until he comes crying to you to be fed. I didn't have to take that path and LG was back to his normal food habits within a day or two.

It was perhaps my over-description of how resistant he was to food that put off the Doc, or was it to know what I should be feeding a 10 month old baby. He went off to rattle a whole list of food that put my cooking skills to shame. Wow, I thought - a 10 month old could actually eat all these (on a serious retrospection note, most of this was already on his diet). After listening to my rants until I stopped, he finally remarked, "you have to be more patient." Naturally, he was on Lil General's side. And, I can't blame the Doc - he is the most coolest, non-hassled docs I've ever seen. Never promises that his medicines will cure the child immediately though it always does in a day, never creates anxiety or alarms you unnecessarily; what is amazing is he tells the truth as it is in a way you are not worried too much; always answers his phone and never bothers the child with the weighing machine. I am always adamant on knowing how much he weighs - to satisfy mine and my mom's curiosity if I am doing a good job - yea I know a child being active is more important than his chubbiness, but still. The Doc does weigh after that but shrugs my question if he is normal that he is above average. All in all, he is a great Doc and I better be patient with LG.

Reason for this post is LG has fallen sick again. Yes, the cold demons are visiting him again. I started on his usual medication of Sinarest syrup and Mox 125 mg tablets and he has shown improvement. But every time I feed him, he thinks its medicine on its way and is stubborn that he doesn't even look at me anymore. I've given up on feeding him and was so wild this afternoon that I felt like shouting at him and smacking him. He is too young and as a parent I would never hit a child - not my style. Got to be patient, I told my self. But believe me, a toddler can really drive one up the wall.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

List of baby products I use

People usually don't tag me, so I am voluntarily picking this one so that it becomes a reference point for me in the future, just in case.

Nappies and Diapers:

Nappy Pad - Actifit until 5 months. Later either Johnson and Johnson or Huggies, as they are thick.

Diapers - Pampers

Nappy liner - Mothercare (Junior's)

Diaper rash cream - Palmer's or Vaseline


Mostly gifts from friends and family.

When we shop, it is the local brand for home as thy are the most comfortable without any jazzy accessories and Lilliput. Outside wear is Gini and Jony.

Woolen wear is from Liliput and Mothercare.

Socks and Mittens - Juniors

Receiving sheet and blanket - Juniors


I don't use baby powder or baby lotion.

Soap - Johnson's

Baby shampoo - Johnson's

Baby oil and baby hair oil - Johnson's

Olive oil for kids - Dabur

Baby comb and brush - Chicco

Lotion for head scales - Elocon

Wet wipes - Mee / Chicco / Johnson's / Pigeon

Bath foam - Chicco

Feeding Accessories

Bottle - Mother's, Junior's

Water Kettle - Black and Decker

Bottle Brush -

Formula - Nan - stage 1 and Nan - stage 2

Cereal - Nestum - Rice (4-6 months), Nestum - stage 2 (8-10 months) and Cerelac - stage 1 (6-8 months) and Nestum stage 3 and Cerelac - stage 3 (after 10 months).
Only flavor I've not tried is the one with honey. Cerelac is wheat based and hard to digest. Nestum is rice based and easily digestible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Naturally weaned at ten months

The Seniol always reminds me on one thing about LG : "He does everything naturally at the right time. So, don't try hard." Which is true. He took to the bottle without any fuss, had no problems in starting solids at five months, did not form any habits such as expecting to be carried all the time, no sleep issues etc etc. Mom has been warning me of weaning him early so that he doesn't continue to nurse until two years old and form a habit that's later on difficult to break. I wasn't too hassled and I didn't want to wean him forcibly. I wanted him to nurse so long he wished to. As it is, I carried the guilt of not exclusively feeding him until six months; so I wanted to carry on. But, LG had other plans. He started self-weaning on our trip to Amritsar, the nursing patterns started changing because he was excited there with so many people around him. Once, we got back mom-dad were here and during this period he totally forgot about nursing. I tried hard at nights but he neglected the offer. I was disappointed and dismissed it is a temporary phase. Turned out it was forever; he now finds it funny, so I've given up. I find it hard to believe that kids can be demanding to be fed even at 18 months. But, I know it's true; I've seen a few friends do that and are totally frustrated.

I have a sparkling clean kitchen floor, thanks to my eleventh month old son. Once I cleaned the kitchen floor with soap water ( I can't remember the last time I did that in the past two years), I am amazed at the shine on the floor which just speaks volumes of the dirt gathered there and what a wonderful job my maid does!

Ever since my cook got married and quit last week, I've been making dinners everyday. I try and get everything done before my evening walk with LG and before The Seniol is back home. So far, the schedule has worked great with me starting to prepare dinner after LG wakes up from his afternoon nap and finishing just in time for our evening walk. But, today was one of those days when nothing goes per your plan. You plan and your kids dispose; LG decided it was such a waste of time to spend the afternoon sleeping and was on an exploration mission crawling room after room. After all my attempts in putting him to sleep went futile, I resorted to cooking. The sweet boy that he is gave me company in the kitchen pulling vegetables off the shelf, food processor off the rack and the masala bottles from the cupboards. So long as it is safe I let him play with all of it.

I must have been multitasking when I failed to notice that he had managed to crawl inside the huge bottom shelf - yea, the wood work in the kitchen of this house is amazing and was done 12 years back, so you can imagine! It was too late; he had already laid his hands upon the home made hair oil my nani had given me. I had saved it for the past three years; it is one of those things that gets better with time. With my receding hairline, it was my last resort to get all my hair back that I lost post pregnancy. Made from 17 herbs I'd saved it carefully (yea, keeping it in the bottom shelf with a monster at home speaks tons of how I care about things I love) and transported it from Bangalore to Pune during our move. In a moment of carelessness, it was all gone; shattered to pieces with Lil' General holding the big cracked piece of bottle in his tiny palm. Thank God! he didn't hurt himself. For the first time in my life, I didn't show any reaction; behaved as though it was normal; just picked him, took his bottle of milk and walked out of the kitchen. Finally, after putting him to sleep I cleaned it all up and now, my kitchen floor is sparkling.

The oil and the bottle is neatly wrapped in a plastic bag inside the dustbin. Granny is ailing, so there is very little chance I will get to know the secret behind that oil. My life is exciting now; I can't imagine how boring these past three decades have been before he came into our lives.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why are kids so averse to dressing up?

LG wets his pants a million times between dawn and dusk..I'm not kidding, seriously! The weather has only made it worse. I don't believe in putting on diaper while we are at home, so that explains why I'm always checking every 5 mins if his pants are wet and 9 out of 10 times, I'm right.
If it was just his pants, it's an easy job. Remove the soiled one and put on a new one. But the problem is it doesn't stop there, it goes way beyond that. In the process of crawling and standing and hanging from the furniture, he makes sure that his shirt and socks also get wet in River Nile.
Removing the wet clothes is easy but putting on fresh ones requires the strength of two well-grown adults, which I presume the The Seniol and I are. While The Seniol usually holds his hands, I change him. Believe me, its a battlefield and to any outsider it would seem from LG's antics as if we are torturing him by getting him dressed.
We've come to time ourselves like the Formula 1 pit stops and I have miles to go before I can reach the Ferrari standards..still on Minardi levels.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Passionate about pillows

Every child has a favorite object - a soft toy, teddy bear, blanket, pillow. Mom got him two pillows - a red one and a blue one even before he was born. I found it funny that small kids would need pillows. No doubt, they looked cute and the person using them will be cute too, I thought then. Never imagined those tiny rectangular things will become LG's favorite belongings. He is so possessive that if I take one of them, even in the middle of the night he will crawl up to me to snatch it, hug it, go back to his side of the bed and then sleep. He is particularly fond of the red one more than the blue one.

The attachment to the pillows started when he was just a little over six months old. With time, the bond became stronger and now the pillow goes with LG wherever he travels overnight.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Standing milestone and single word vocab

Today Lil' General stood without support for a good ten seconds before sitting on the floor again. And, he also managed to climb with the support of a pillow over to the cot. So excited by the climbing exercise that he kept doing it a number of times before getting tired and calling it a day.

His vocab wasn't extensive earlier but atleast it meant something - the word papa that he distinctly said. He has forgotten all about it ever since Beethu came into his life. Now, it is just bow, bow and bow

The mercury has dipped to 8 deg Celsius in Pune; and LG sleeps for anywhere between 3 and 5 hours during the day distributed over 3 naps. This new sleep pattern has been estbalished over the past 10 days; I can't quite figure out if it is a result of his growing up or the effect the weather is having on him - not that I'm worried too much because he is active and cheerful as ever while awake. The only that's bothering is the change in his appetite, which has gone down considerably. Oh! and one more big consequence of the sudden weather change is that I often wake up in River Nile at 3 a.m. - thanks to susu aunty doing overtime and the pile of laundry now reminds me of the first three months when the room smelt pleasantly of potty and urine - not so pleasant anymore :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An infant-proof cellphone

An acquaintance of ours is very fond of cell-phones; she keeps changing them quarterly - more out of necessity than out of choice. Her infant daughter keeps tossing the cell-phone into a bucket of water or throws it like a saucer - with the mother left to search for the parts and see if it can be fixed. More often than not, the phone is reduced into a vegetable good enough for nothing; sometime when they are lucky calls come through though outgoing gets disabled or the ringer doesn't ring and the voices are all muffled. On a lighter note, it is fine once in a while as it keeps the phone bill under check :)

I'd been fortunate enough until this morning as far as cellphones go. While I was busy packing The Seniol's lunch, LG found the prefect moment with no one keeping an eye on him to reach for my already half dead phone on the table and pull it down. You gotta see the look on his phone - what an accomplishment!

I did not inspect the phone immediately for the damage - you know how busy mornings can be. Later during the day, when the phone rang and died all that was left of the phone was a bright blue screen with no signal coming in. Great I thought, but I trust my old Nokia so much to have given up hope. And lo! the old guy started up alright after reinserting the battery, so what if the keypad is about to come off. It serves its purpose. Maybe Nokia should capitalize on this in their ads - an infant proof cellphone!

Lil General's First Birthday is less than a month away. We are still living up to the slacker image - yes, even after a baby. Haven't zeroed in on a place to have the party or made guest-lists or know what we want to do. We've been thinking about this for months now; the plan is all in the head and this week, we also figured what we don't want to do. So, that just brings us a step closer; if you know what you don't want, maybe it's easier to figure what you want. So, you might think?

Anyway, I'm looking for suggestions on a theme for LG's first birthday party. The boy rocks; he is aggressive and loves orange color. We don't want to have the regular run-of-mill birthday parties which is more a get-together of whom you know and who you haven't met in a long while and this was just a good occasion to catch up.

Wear your creative cap; go ahead and leave a comment with your suggestions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

LG's hair : to trim or not to trim!

Some traditions puzzle me, what makes following them difficult is there are so many of them; some cultural; some family practice and some religious. I'm sure there are reasons for each of them or atleast that's what I would like to believe. I don't follow most of them, yes, I am aware of many or make an effort to keep me aware in the least.

One such traditional practice is to cut a child's hair for the first time in temple, the practice itself being called mottai or mundan. Now, there is no hard and fast rule; the practice varies according to the different regions and religions in India. In some parts, it is not a practice to remove a girl child's hair (I had mottai done twice by the time I was two years old), in some places they do mottai by the time the child is six months old and in some not until the child is a year old. In ours, the practice has been to wait the child is a year old.

LG was all of seven months when his hair touched the top of his nose and it was all over his eyes; he used to sweat a lot too. So, I had to make a decision being practical versus adhering to family practices. It is a common practice to tie the hair with a band but that didn't sound good to me; imagine LG with a orange color band - he would have looked like a hippie. So I trimmed his hair and saved it for the real mottai occasion. The first time is always difficult. Once the rules are broken, then you don't think much afterward, right? I tried not to do too many times, the foremost concern always being LG's convenience. I've saved all the hair (yuck! you think?).

Anyways, the whole point of this post was that there is such a thin line between being traditional and practical. Sometimes, it is just not possible to satisfy everything. It makes decision-making all the more easier if you understand your priorities right!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

11th month old baby's diet

7:00 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. - 150 ml of Formula

7:45 a.m. - one black currant

8:00 a.m. - half a biscuit

9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. - 240 ml of Porridge (contains 11 ingredients mixed in 200 ml of milk) or 1 chapathi and little milk

12:00 noon - 12:30 p.m. - Bowl of Mashed vegetables. Choice of vegetables - carrot, tomato, potato, beetroot, beans, red pumpkin, capsicum, peas.

2:30 p.m. - Rice/dal mixed with curd

4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - 200 ml of milk

6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. - 1 banana or150 ml of milk

7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - dinner - usually two course consisting of a fruit and 7-8 spoons of cereal mixed in milk or water or rice in milk or idli.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to eat like a 10-month-old?

There are a few rules laid down by my mom in this how-to-eat-your-food business. Mommy's rules are way too many to remember and adhere to, so I formulated a few of my own which works just great for us. And, I hope it would suit you fine too provided you are as young as I am.

The first rule is to never display any liking for the high chair. Protest with all the force you can muster once positioned in the chair. Beat your legs against the foot-board, tap the food tray ahead with your hands until mom gets angry.

Once the feeling of displeasure has been established and communicated to all parties, show signs that you are hungry and would like food to be served. If mom leaves you alone to get the food, use this opportunity to push and pull what's nearby. Usually, I drag the dining table chair and start biting its edges. Or if there's any object within reach that can be pulled down (which otherwise cannot be reached from floor level), I ensure that the damage is done.

Let's assume the food has arrived. Now, that mom cared enough to get you something to eat, let her know your hunger has died, and you are no longer interested in eating. Turn your face away from the feeding cup with pursed lips showing interest either in the neighbor's kitchen or the passing vehicles on the road or a blank lost stare at nothing in particular.

Remember, this was just to piss off mom; the truth is you are very hungry. When you can no longer tolerate hunger for even a min, open your mouth and expect to be fed. Satisfy your hunger with the first few spoons or until it's time to have fun again. Bite the spoon and hold it tight between your teeth; don't let it go until mom begs you to leave or uses force. After letting the spoon go, make sure you grin sheepishly at her that says, "I know what I was doing!"

If no water is served after every 3 spoonfuls of food, start crying. Increase the volume if the request is not met. Use your hands and feet to good effect.

If the menu is the same ole' dish that was served 3 times the day before, convey that you would like something new which is just about the right temperature - neither too hot nor too cold. If mom forgets and keeps the feeding cup within your hand's reach, push it away and topple it over to the floor. Who likes clean floors!

Moms wish that their kids should learn how to eat by themselves by this age. So, they are likely to force you to practice eating by spoon like my mom did. Hand-mouth coordination? Uh? Never heard of that. Sure, I know how to hold the spoon alright but can't guarantee if it would reach my mouth. Ah! so sorry, food fell on my lap and my shirt is soiled. Next spoon mama, please. Mama complies. This time take it to your mouth to get back mama's trust. The next spoon with the food is all over the chair and floor.

It's easy to get bored while eating. Especially, when you have to do this ritual so many times a day. So what, if you've just been given a shower. I love to smear my hands in the food and wipe it all over my hair. I loved my naturally highlighted hair yesterday (one part was orange in color with the mashed carrot and the other half white with curd).

Throw you water bottle onto the floor atleast once. How can anyone expect you to hold a teether for so long? Keep throwing it over every 5 minutes and demand to be brought again.

Playing with water is fun. To ensure it happens remember one rule of thumb, "the more mess you create, the more water you get." Hands, feet, neck, legs - every exposed part of the body should have signs that you just finished the most difficult task of the day - eating.

Parents always empathize with us at this age as teething occurs. They know we like biting on chilled fruits and vegetables. When I am offered a chilled Pear, I bite it and then spit it. Mom doesn't appreciate this behavior, but I don't like the taste of Apples and Pears to swallow them. This works fine as it soothes my gums.

Don't worry. You did not piss off mom. She is proud you are learning how to eat. On the brighter side, you are keeping her busy, exercising her naturally and creating work. This was a job WELL DONE!

Friday, November 09, 2007

LG's First Diwali

So, this was Lil General's first Deepavali yesterday and first Diwali today. Yes, some advantages of being a multicultural family is that you get to celebrate Diwali for two days. We did the traditional oil bath-pooja-legiyam-sweet eating-new dress ritual yesterday morning. Distributed sweets to friends and tagged LG along. We fired crackers and lighted diyas today completing the Diwali celebration. It was fun all the way except this evening due to a minor misunderstanding with a friend that deserves no space here..

The highlight of the day was the sweet and memorable encounter with Caesar aka Beethu this morning. We have lately started taking LG out for a walk in the mornings as well. Just as we stepped out of the house, Beethu was right there..on our porch. I called out for him and within minutes he was all over LG. Lg on the other hand reciprocated Caesar's love and stretched his hands and put his fingers into his mouth showing no signs of fear. It was touching to see the affection between the two and how they've become fond of each other in a short span of time. after letting the two play for a few mins, we bid goodbyes. Lil General all the way kept looking back from his pram while Caesar had to be beaten by a stick (which I don't approve of at all :( ) by uncle and dragged away from our front gate. He insisted on sitting by our gate even after we had left. The Seniol said, "dogs are like human kids; only that they are more loyal". Well said! So, that was a good start to the day.

In the evening after a long nap, I started by dressing LG in another set of new clothes - a Gini & Jony one. Then, as The Seniol held LG, I lit diyas on our balcony. LG was very excited,jumping, and beating his chest to show his happiness as he saw the candles lined up beautifully on the balcony. Later, we took him down to show the fireworks while we also lit a few sparklers; the noisy ones were kept to a minimum this year. There were moments when he enjoyed it; times when he grew restless and times when he seemed withdrawn. On the whole his sleep-hunger routine interfered with the firework session and he was not for it. Kids this age don't experience fear I guess. Atleast, there were no signs of that and neither was he alarmed at the excessive noise level today. We kept the fireworks session short and got back home.

Last Diwali, he was kicking inside me. This year, he was amongst us and life can't get any better.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Meet Lil General's new friend - Beethoven!

This was a chance meeting that will forge a friendship for a lifetime, something that LG will cherish as part of his growing up in Pune. The place where we live in Pune has a lot of bungalows so there's a dog in every one of them except a handful. since the dogs go on a walk every morning and late evening, we know almost each one of them; come on we've been seeing them everyday for the past two years. So if there's a new dog in the neighborhood, it's not hard to know.

After we got from our vacation to Amritsar, we spotted this new pup who was very cute - there's was no other breed like his here. He is a St.Bernard and looked so much like Beethoven that we named him Beethu. LG loved seeing him. Then one five evening last week, while we were on our customary evening walks so was Beethu. LG and Beethu met and instantly loved each other. Beethu reached for LG's legs and LG wasn't scared, he leaped forward to touch him. I am scared of dogs and pulled him back. I learned from Beethoven's owner that his name is Caesar; he is two months old and was sent as a gift from Delhi. The lderly gentleman who takes Caesar for a walk has promised to stop by everyday so that LG and Beethu can bond.

Accessories are an essential part of a child's life and growing up these days. We bought what we thought was absolutely essential and made my life and LG's comfortable. For instance, we invested in a high chair but did not get a bouncer or rocking chair, though there's a separate room for LG we co-sleep and don't have a crib, he has a bathtub and two potty chairs but not a swing. I tried balancing between the old school of parenting techniques and the accessories available these days all the while keeping in mind not to get him into a habit that would be a problem for us. I'm told kids who get used to bouncers at a young age demand rocking even when they are over 5 months old , so I consciously avoided doing that. As far as potty training goes, sure, when we grew up, our mothers had a different technique of placing us between her feet during our bowel movement. Since potty chairs are easy, comfortable and makes sens these days, I invested in one. Again, high chair inculcates good eating habits in a kid. I did not straight away go for this one. When LG started crawling he was all over the place and my dress was multi colored by the time he finished eating. His eating habits have drastically improved ever since I got the high chair and I make it a point to feed him only in that.

The three best buys so far for LG has been :

  1. Shampoo Hat - I totally vouch for this one. It has made washing his hair so very simple. No crying, no fear of shampoo going to his eyes or water going into his ear.

  2. High chair - has made eating times enjoyable for him as well as me. He relates to sitting in the high chair to his meal time and is quick to finish his food without any distraction.

  3. Black and Decker Kettle - This kettle was a gift from mom. water gets boiled within minutes. And it was very useful while he was on formula when I would have to sterilize bottles many times a day.

The other buys such as pram / sling, bath tub are regular which most of them anyways do these days.

The three worst buys for LG so far has been :

  1. Potty chair

  2. Air filled chair

Some useful resources :
How to select the BEST potty seat?

Friday, November 02, 2007

There's no such thing as damage control

Just when I thought I had it all figured out and that everything in the house was safe from the little naughty monster we have at home, Lil General goes on to prove how wrong his mother can be. I underestimated LG as I have always done. The house was steer clear of everything at ground level and before I could get a breather, LG was all over stuff at the 4 feet level.
The Seniol has a plan - that we should make a list of all the things that LG breaks and recover it from him once he grows up. That way The Seniol is creating employment for me; if not a full day job it sure qualifies for a part time one - the task of listing damaged things around the house starting with the sofa at my mom's place which is soaked in LG's newborn urine. 10 months later, mom says it still smells (pleasantly for her) of LG.
So, the latest victim was a beautiful glass vase on the kitchen partition. Mom was visiting me last year while I was pregnant and she planted a money plant in the vase. She loved the vase and i had two pieces of the same and gave her one. The money plant grew into a beautiful creeper in this one year - long enough for LG to grab hold of a leaf and pull the entire vase down. There it lay in pieces while I read the newspaper with my morning cup of tea - that's how we start Sunday mornings with our 10 month old. My heart broke picking up the pieces and I started wondering how many more precious items will he end up breaking before growing up. The day before he broke my thermos. There's really no such thing as childproofing a home completely. You can only do so much. Or if you want to play it real safe, empty the house totally; pack everything into cartons and transport them to your lofts and live a boring life. I choose not to do that.The new safe height is 6 feet. I'll keep you posted on LG's next victim.

Someone Googled for what to do on a Friday night when pregnant, so I decided to write a post on the same. Before LG came along, The Seniol and I had a hectic working life and looked forward a great deal to the weekend. We were lazy animals who would just lie on the carpet all weekend channel surfing just getting up intermittently to satisfy hunger pangs,turn the knob on the washing machine, going out to run some essential errands and once a month trip to the mall promising to do such trips more often (ofcourse that never happened). Home was paradise and that didn't change after I got pregnant. What a boring life, right? But we enjoyed it and still do. Not the regular party animals or the social sorts to draw up elaborate plans. We could stand each other for 48 hours without meeting another human being.

If you still think I might have some brilliant ideas on what to do on a Friday night at home, go on and read the rest:

  1. One ritual I religiously followed was listening to World Space every Friday night. After 9:30 p.m., they played some amazing numbers from the 90's that brought back memories of growing up in school. Second trimester was hard. Couldn't find a comfortable position to sleep as back hurt and leg cramps haunted me every night. Falling asleep took longer than the hours I slept. That's when we discovered the magic of World space. The Seniol would play it for me every Friday night and I slept like a baby.

  2. Eating outside made me feel nauseated and gave a lot of heartburn. So I stopped eating fried food from outside. Once in a while we would order Pizzas home and enjoy a quiet dinner.

  3. Late nights in pune are amazing - clear skies, good breeze. We would just draw up two chairs on the balcony and gaze outside while our favorite puppies in the neighborhood would be out on a walk at 11:30 p.m. Sometimes small things in life give me more happiness.

  4. When The Seniol traveled, I would just enjoy my Friday night with a book in hand. Of course, you have to be careful about your choice of books. Read stuff that makes you happy. As such, pregnancy is so very tiring physically and emotionally that you don't want it to be harder by reading sad stuff.

  5. If you are the sorts who love talking to each other, then do all the talking now. You won't get a chance for quite sometime after the baby comes along :)

  6. Though it is advised that pregnant women walk regularly after dinners so as to get a sound sleep, I found it very difficult to on working days. Friday nights was when we usually went for a long walk.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Separation anxiety gets better

This month did a lot of good to LG's separation anxiety. The beginning of October saw us visiting Delhi and Amritsar for a week which meant a lot of newer faces all through the day. At Amritsar, there was always someone by LG's side round the clock even when he was asleep, a privilege he does not enjoy at Pune. So he slept soundly and did not ever wake up crying in the middle of the night for fear of being left alone. I guess he sensed someone's presence and slept happily through the night. His daytime naps were never less than 2 hours and man, was I surprised to see the boy sleep so peacefully.

The pattern continued on our return as within a day my parents got here. They stayed for a week and again, I believe he sensed there were people around and slept well without waking up. Once my parents left, he has got back to his old habit of screaming through deep sleep for fear of being left alone though it is not as frequent as before.

It makes me sad that we can't have so many people around him all the time as was in Amritsar or when my parents were here. With the nuclear family setup of these days, it has become a rarity for even family getting together often. And this kid enjoys company, newer faces, grandparents to play with, watch what other kids do. The way he sleeps through the night is a good indication of if he is happy ...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blame it on teething

The world knows of only one reason to blame on for everything the baby does - teething. By world, I mean the experienced and the inexperienced that includes mothers, grandmothers, unmarried women, teenage girls who have seen their nephews and nieces grow up and just about anyone who has an opinion on parenting. Wonder what makes the world think that the baby can't get a fever because the weather was cold or that he has a dysentery because of something he ate or some bad food that just didn't go well with him?

Now, Lil General ever since he was two months old had a habit of sucking his thumb which slowly gave way to putting stuff in his mouth when he was five months. The habit just got worse over the months. He bites everything that comes his way - the cot, his potty chair, dining chair, wooden cupboards, utensils, his toys, teether etc etc. I stop him as much as I can and finally, when I am tired I just give up.

People are often quick to comment when they see LG that it must be teething that's bothering him. I just nod and go with the flow enjoying their expert comments. The look on their faces is worth seeing once LG opens his mouth to flash his eight teeth. That's right. All eight of them at ten months. Most people are dumbfounded to see eight teeth at this age (he got his first pair of lower incisors when he was five months old)

The neighbour aunty about whom I have written before blamed it on teething yet again. She sees him every week and knows that LG has teeth, yet cites teething as the reason for everything he does. And I'm still patiently putting up with all that she has to say :)

I have traveled with Lil General a few times on road and by air ever since he crossed the much-awaited 12 week milestone. Yet, traveling with him gives me the jitters every time. Sometimes, I feel I plan more than what is needed and pass my anxiety to otherwise non-hassled family members. I am an expert in drawing up a list of disaster situations and rehearsing what-if-this happens. Maybe it is all futile but it helps me to travel confidently and prepare better the next time. I am glad we haven't had too many (or any for that matter) situation that saw us running across the airport to get food for the baby or hunting for hot water. Traveling with a baby leaves no room for mistakes, carelessness or blaming each other.

Here's a list of what has worked for me :

First things first, the baby bag is on the top of my list. But this is one that invariably gets packed the last.

What goes in the baby bag :

I have 2 baby bags - a small one for city travel and a bigger one for travel outside.
I usually keep both the bags with essentials to last me for 8 hours, ready at all times to leave within a 10 minute notice.

  1. 4 diapers

  2. 1 Nappy liner with 2 nappy pads

  3. 2 long pants and 2 short pants

  4. 4 shirts

  5. For long travel :

  6. Tissues in the side pouch

  7. Water bottle in the side pouch

  8. His medicines in a zipper bag along with the prescription

  9. Formula and 2-3 sterilized bottle half filled with warm water. So that if you have to mix the formula inf light after sometime you can just add remaining hot water and it will be lukewarm for the baby to drink. This was you don't have to find a way to cool it.

  10. Bananas, biscuits - these are handy foods to feed the baby at airports

  11. Cereal

  12. Thermos flask with hot water. You can also get these at the Coffee shops in airports or heat with tumbler heater in trains.

  13. something to chew on during take off and landing. If your baby is the cranky sorts, then make sure you carry along his/her favorite toy too.

  14. Bottle brush

  15. A small baby blanket and socks

  16. Small towels to clean after feed in the front punch

  17. Lastly, don't forget baby wipes. Atleast, One toilet in airplanes are quipped with a diaper changing table.

Other stuff that I carry around :

  1. His favorite pillows

  2. More clothes

  3. Toiletries - towel, soap, shampoo, comb, shampoo hat etc

  4. Porridge mix

  5. Baby thermometer

General tips :

  1. If you are traveling by one of those low budget airlines, then choose Spice Jet. It is better than Air Deccan. Spice Jet allows you to choose seats while booking tickets at an extra fee which is worth it.

  2. While traveling by train, though Second a/c gives you that extra space, it has always been a bad experience for me because of the cold temperature. LG as invariable ended up having a cold every time. But it helps having those extra inches especially if your child is someone like LG who sleeps on a queen size bed all by himself rolling around the whole night.

Most of our baggage when we travel comprises of his stuff now. The 78 cm member of the family rules our lives now. We have always been very light travelers, so it's hard to find a balance between taking all his stuff and comprising on ours.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Return of the fussy eater

Pursed lips are an indication that Lil General is not well. But I just refuse to believe that and am quick to label him as a fussy eater when I should actually be thanking my stars and taking pride in he being the most non-fussy kid ever. Really, I mean. He is every sweet that way when he is alright and doesn't trouble me a bit or throw tantrums for eating food.
Naturally, his behavior for the past two weeks drove me up the wall when he would refuse to open his mouth at the sight of his cup. I tried everything I could under the sun - tried varied vegetables and fruits, changed his schedule, changed his cutlery but nothing worked. I was scratching me head all day for those two weeks wondering what to make for the next meal that would make him eat. The insects in our gutter are sure to have put on a few extra pounds with all the vegetables, fruits and cereals that were passed on to the drain at regular intervals. I knew it was not LG but the damn cold that was bothering him. No medication helped. And then I learnt my important lesson - sometimes you have to wait patiently and let what is natural take its course. As a coincidence, The Seniol was going through a fever cold cough phase too. He was at his irritable best - thanks to the discomfort caused by the cold. If an adult cannot tolerate this and doesn't feel like eating, how could I force a 10 month old to eat when maybe he just doesn't feel like eating at all. So I stopped forcing him because it wasn't working well for him nor me and made us both feel more frustrated. It takes ten times more energy in force feeding a baby. I let him come to me when he was hungry and within a few days he was fine and back to his regular appetite.

I just wish someone asked for what specifications mothers wanted in their babies when they are born - shouldn't they be able to talk ? (Yea, I am kinda dumb not to understand him or rather stubborn).

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mannat - my new friend in Amritsar

Today afternoon Lil General was sitting on the front porch in the lap of his grandpa when a little girl dressed in pink appeared from the opposite bungalow. The little girl in pink, a year older than LG, had long hair neatly ties into two ponytails. She was being held by her nanny and I learned a few minutes later that she was eager to see the new baby in the neighborhood - LG. LG was not his normal self today; the usual stomach bug was bothering him. However, as soon as the cutie in pink approached him, he got all excited and jumped from grandpa's lap to touch her. Mannat, the girl in pink, was too shy to react to the sudden affection showered on her by The Baby - as she preferred to call him. She spent a few silent minutes with the baby munching Lindt milk chocolates before kissing goodbye. With a heavy heart LG saw her off and came in. Mannat is only a few days younger to the kid in one-of-those people category I wrote about. and he met her for the first time today. so his fondness for the child took me by surprise.

Later this evening, actually around LG's bedtime when he was all set to sleep, Mannat came again - this time with her elder sister - Gurseerat. LG had his eyes half closed. Just then he saw Mannat and pulled the covers off him and crawled with such a speed towards Mannat that left all of our jaws dropping in surprise. Before she could reach him and touch his face gently, he was all over her. He pulled her hair band which was in LG's favorite color - Orange. Shocked and confused over how to react, Mannat took a step back. That didn't stop LG. Now he was reaching for Seerat who is quite old - in her teens. They played with him for 15 minutes and it was fun to watch. He now has a new friend in Mannat :)

The crawling machine is on a roll. Some days he is so fast that he can crawl at the pace we walk to reach a room with an open door. Most rooms in the house are always closed giving him very less opportunity to play with water or hurt himself with the stuff lying on the floor. He naturally doesn't understand that he is only nine months old and his body can only take so much. He pushes himself to the limits crawling tirelessly continuously sometimes for an hour. At the end of day, he is so tired that he cannot sleep. His joints ache as he keeps touching his knees with his little hands and moaning through the night unable to sleep. wish kids this age could talk. His moaning makes us helpless while trying to figure out what is bothering him - body ache, mosquito bite, ant bite, hunger, thirst, too cold or too hot etc etc.

I am more than positive now that it is his body that aches on days when he has crawled a lot. By the end of the day, I can make out if there is something interesting happening in the room but he doesn't make an effort to move at all or if he is rubbing his fingers over his legs. I have never seen LG sit in a place for more than 10 days, so the past 3-4 days have been very disheartening to see him sit in the same place and play with his toys which is more than enough to say that he is not his usual self.

Here are a few things that I have tried and it has helped:

  1. Give a hot sponge bath before putting him to sleep. Or you could wash your baby from the thighs (down) with hot water. It is soothing for the aching body without risking him to catch a cold.

  2. Try a hot water bag - there is one specially available for kids these days that can be microwaveable.

  3. Try massaging your baby's body gently.

  4. If you know your baby is tired, hold him in your lap and let him crawl too much for the time being.

Every time we have a new face over at home, The Seniol and I love to play the guessing game as to how LG will react to their presence. Mostly, we both have the same opinion. But there are occasions when he surprises us by his cranky behavior and body language that leaves us to analyze what put him off. We just blame it on one-of-those-people category or just a bad day. There aren't many people in the one-of-those-people category, though. The non-fussy child that he is, we are generally very happy to have someone over - be it the maid servant's grand children or the cook's nieces or friends of The Seniol. He is very happy to be in the company of new people and enjoys playing with them after taking his initial 10 minutes to assess them. He would keep a safe distance look them over up and down a dozen times before inching towards them slowly. I think this is normal behavior for a nine month old who is just trying to distinguish familiar faces from unknown and understanding the difference between family and outsiders.
There is a child who is a little older than LG in the one-of-those-people category. She is a sweet child but I fail to understand what puts him off. They have had enough opportunities to bond and we visit each other's places quite often too, so it's a new face. For a child who coos at strangers on the road to attract attention and smile back at them to pulling the hair of a child much older than him at his first ever meeting, this behavior is beyond my comprehension. He is quick to turn his face on meeting this other kid and doesn't acknowledge her. Certain things are better left unexplored.

The Seniol's obsession took a new dimension today redefining how perfect the bed should be to sleep in. I have written about his compulsion to make the bed perfectly, the sheet exactly laid on top of the rubber sheet matching corner to corner; two pillows side by side; the big pillows on all the four corners; the pillows facing north etc. I could go on and on. He believes in sleeping the perfectly made bed for himself and for LG. Tonight, LG was very tired after the area surveying business, so restless that he kept tossing and turning trying to find that exact position placing his head on top of a big pillow and sometimes his legs propped up on 2 pillows. After enough experimentation he just got tired and slept between the crumpled sheets with no cotton sheet beneath him with his face facing the windows instead of the door as he usually sleeps. Not a big deal for me. I am happy so long as he sleeps and wouldn't want to disturb him for fear of waking up the lion. But The Seniol decides to lift him and go through the ritual of making his bed driving me insane. Some compulsions in life are difficult to be fought :)

Monday, October 01, 2007

People may think I'm Ms. Fart

We leave this Thursday on a 10 day vacation to Amritsar. There's something that is troubling me a bit. That people might think on the flight, in the airport and in the train that I'm one big Ms. Fart. Not that I care too much about what people think. It's a different thing to be labeled Ms. Snob, Ms. attitude, Ms. Fat etc and a totally different thing to be laughed at. It can be embarrassing to hear LOUD farting sounds - loud enough of that of a small cracker and loud enough for people within 10 distance to hear clearly. It is too real and convincing to not to be true - like the ones after heavy gassy meal full of stuffed potatoes etc.

By now, you do know who is responsible for this, don;t you? Ofcourse, Lil General. He has learned this quirky thing of placing his mouth on my arms to make fart sounds and revels so much in it. The louder and different it is, the happier he gets. Believe me, if you were not looking attentively you would think it's me for real. The Seniol (LG's cheerleader) has a great time seeing his boy at his best that he sometimes rolls over and laughs not able to control himself after the sounds that come out of me. LG was at it for a good 10 minutes this weekend. Hopefully, I might not have a lot of tales to tell about on my return.

I understand it's mean on our part to call Lil General a Python but he behaves like one after he has food and has earned the name. After every feed,he stuffs himself with water in his chotu tummy with more than it take that by the time he is done, he can barely move an inch. All the funny faces we make and antics that turn him into a crawling machine at other times are simple met with a grin after food. So, it was indeed surprising to see the Python transform into a tiger today after his heavy dinner. He perhaps realized that a lot of time was being wasted that could be meaningfully spent practicing how to stand and tripping folded clothes off the bed.

Tonight, after dinner he charged on us like a bull pulling my hair apart climbing over me and then reaching for the toys kept on top of the bed. It sure makes him a look a loser to not spend every waking minute perfecting the art of standing. It does matter a lot if you look at it from his viewpoint. From being horizontal the whole day, he now has a vertical view and the world just got better with so many new things to explore as that corner behind the sofa or the top shelf of his medicine cabinet (in Baby Center's words). There is no stopping this tiger now, he is on a destruction mode and I better gear up to match his energy.

We, as a family, are great at making plans and quite updated on what needs to be done when. We just don't get it done soon enough and are turning into super slackers. One such item on the list forever has been to get LG's passport done. With a trip to Bahrain in April for Formula 1 on the 2008 Travel Planner, we just feel there's still a lot of time to make LG eligible for travel outside the country.

Living with me is a pain as I am a constant nagger and behind everyone's back to get things done and tick them off the list. So, today evening, I just got LG dressed and announced we are heading to the photo shop. The Seniol had little choice and off we went to FotoFast amidst all the Ganesh Chaturthi procession chaos.

Coincidentally, I had read this post Caught on Camera and wondered if it would be a big affair taking LG's picture. After a moment's thought, I dismissed knowing fully well, he would only be too happy to smile at the shutterbug. I was right! Bring a camera into the room and LG will crawl up to you to give his best pose...It's actually the LED doing the trick :) He still can't sit by himself on a raised platform without support. So, I held onto him from the back careful of my arms not appearing. It required three shots from the photographer to get the best picture.
It took all of 20 minutes to walk in, get the picture printed and walk out. That was fast. And the result was amazing... we love the picture and hope the PP guys will too and process his PP on time.

Baby Center's newsletter for my 8 month old, fourth week read --

Fussy-eater prevention plan
Get ready! At eight or nine months, many babies start getting extra choosy about what they eat. But short of altering your baby's taste buds, what can you do? One answer is to keep up the variety in your baby's diet. He may not feel like carrots this week but he might eat cauliflower, peas or broccoli. He may not fancy an apple but he will have banana, pear or some avocado. Aim to offer him different foods so that over the course of a week (not every day) he has all the nutrients he needs to go on growing. And remember that it's easy to overestimate the amounts a baby this age can eat — when he starts squeezing his fingers through the mashed potato or turning his face away, accept that he has had enough. Keep mealtimes relaxed: knowing that if he doesn't like the taste of something he won't be forced to eat it all, can help his confidence in trying new foods.

Why can't they send me every newsletter a month in advance so that moms like me can be better prepared? I have been living through hell trying to feed LG for the past 3 weeks. Some techniques work, some don't. Baby Center is like a child rearing instruction manual for me. I stick to every advice of theirs and it usually works. Just when i had given up, I called my friends who have children older than me and they reassured it was normal for kids around eight or nine months to get fussy about food. Variety is one thing that generally works. And it did!

If your child is approaching that age, then be prepared and don't be in for a surprise if suddenly one night he refuses to eat. From eating two bananas in one sitting at 6 months, LG went on to refuse even a spoonful of carrot for dinner and the sight of banana had him crawling away to the farthest corner from me.

Here are some tips that might work:

  1. If you can afford to invest in a high chair, then please do so. It has been one of the best buys of all the things I have got for LG. It gives him limited scope to move around during feeding time and makes him less distracted. Kids this age want to do everything at the same time - crawling, playing, turning around to see what that sound was etc etc

  2. Stick to the routine. It may vary from month to month a little bit.

  3. the toughest part is acknowledging that your kid is growing up and doesn't need to be fed at the same intervals as before. Even the quantity is determined by the baby.

  4. Be prepared that there will be times, even days when you have to throw away the food. Force feeding doesn't help

  5. Stock in vegetables and fruits so that you have an alternative if he doesn't like what you prepared.

  6. Experiment with variety such as carrots, tomatoes, beets, beans, peas, dal rice, curd, apples, cherries, pears etc. Don't overdo it if he likes it on one day. He will soon lose the taste for the same.

  7. Give water in between instead of stuffing your baby with food at one go.

  8. Talk to him , sing to him. Create an environment that works best for you.

  9. Massage your baby regularly. I found LG's appetite increasing as I started massaging him after the rains stopped.

  10. If you sense indigestion, then try giving him omam (ajwain) water.

I can count the number of dresses The Seniol and I have bought for Lg - just a handful of them maybe. All the rest from day 1 until today and some more dresses that a year old can wear were gifts mainly from his patti/thatha and other set of grandparents. My mom bought a dress for LG every time she went out for the first five months. She got so obsessive about buying dresses in all colors and patterns that we were soon running out of closet space. Finally, she gave in to my cribbing that I wouldn't have so much space in Pune (for the lack of wood work) and anyways whats the point if your child is going to outgrow them in a matter of weeks.

She came up with a novel idea that I wouldn't have the time to shop for clothes so she would stock for an entire year and started buying clothes for 12-18 months baby, when he was all of 4 months. I reassured her I didn't live in a jungle and was competent enough to shop for her grandson. Within weeks of coming here, The Seniol's parents visited us and got a load of 20 dresses. I guess that's what you call grand parental love. The nightmare has just begun. I started sorting them out based on their size and since then, every month I put away the old clothes of LG, take from the stock inside what might fit him that month. Its an ongoing exercise that you can't afford to put off for long. Before soon, you will realise your kid has outgrown them and those dresses would have to be neatly packed away to be gifted to someone else. For now, I've been doing a good job.

Lil General has a taste for good things in life. He was born with it, I guess. Ever since he started crawling, it is difficult to keep him away from something he eyes on. I've tried my best to limit the damage around this house with little success.

According to him, anything with a wire dangling tastes good. The heydays of Netgear, Bose Cube Speaker, DVD remote, land line instrument and the money plant in the balcony are over. Isn't his choice of things to taste amazing?

The list gets better and better. I will never be done with childproofing this home. Every day, there is yet another thing to kept away from his reach. When I think I'm done, he surprises me. The number of things on the floor right now can be counted which is far better than what it was a month back with many cartons and knick knack strewn around. Still he manages to push himself through the gap in the grill gate and reach for the shoes lying outside. Or open the bathroom door with a kick and turn down the laundry basket. 24 hour supervision is the thing he needs.

Of the things he likes to taste, here are a few (in the order of his fondness):

1. Me and his dad.
2. Slippers (it is a rare sight as we have started keeping the bathroom slippers inside the bathroom and walk barefoot in the rest of the home now).
2. Cooker
3. Broom and dirty bucket of water (from mopping the floor)
4. Door mats
5. TV and speaker wires
6. The railings of the grill
7. Laundry basket
8. His toys

any object irrespective of its shape, size and color has to be first felt, turned around and then ofcourse put in his mouth. Of late, he has started throwing things around too.

As I write this, I hear a bang and lo! the glass of the TV stand that he couldn't reach until yesterday is on the floor - this post can wait while I assess the damage.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The area surveyor is doing a good job

The Seniol has coined a term for Lil General lately. He calls him the area surveyor. LG crawls tirelessly every minute he is awake irrespective of the time of the day and night. Last night he was on his fours at 3:30 a.m. It drives me crazy to go behind him in the middle of the night but whats the point in getting frustrated at a nine month old baby. He only does what comes naturally to him, I am told. Easier said than done, right?

Anyways, new territories are conquered everyday. The only parts of the house that still remain out of bounds are the three toilets and the veranda which leads to the stairs. From the kitchen to the area beneath the refrigerator to the half feet gap between the TV stand and the wall, every other place in the house has the footprints of our esteemed area surveyor. The Seniol is quite happy with his performance and has given a good monthly appraisal for his efforts. I give a daily report on The Seniol's return from work and in turn LG is rewarded with a hug, kiss and his dad's company for the rest of the evening.

I am a silent spectator and let him crawl while keeping a close watch on what he is up to. Why stop a kid from doing what he enjoys doing right from when he is nine months? Rest of the life is all about limitations and restrictions anyway.

Lil General's paediatrician prescribed 10 drops of Orofer to be administered daily in the morning, starting from 6 months to be continued until he is a year old. He is close to 9 months now and I haven't given him any dosage yet. I was reading an article yesterday on how orange juice helps iron absorption in a baby. The reason I refrained from giving him the drops was he was under medication on and off then for fever, cough and cold and I had read that it is necessary only for exclusively breast-fed babies. Since LG has been on a combination diet of mother's milk and formula ever since he was 9 weeks old and later on fortified cereal, I decided against it.
After reading the article yesterday, my doubts resurfaced this morning and I went on to find more information on the same. Apple, tomato are key constituents of LG's diet along with cereals, so I hope I'm good here.

If there were a test to see how mommas fared in making homes safe for their babies, I would score the least. By far, this has been one of the most challenging things we have had to do since LG's arrival at Pune. The house we live in now is fairly big with a huge living + dining room, a kitchen with no doors, a long balcony that opens to the living room, a veranda outside the main door that leads to the stairs and finally a long corridor from the drawing room that leads to the three bedrooms.

What made our jobs challenging was to secure all the items that were lying on the floor away from the reach of Lil General, which meant just about everything. There is zero woodwork in this house which made moving here from Bangalore daunting. When we moved from Bangalore where everything was concealed in the wonderful woodwork we got done to this house where everything lay on the floor in cartons for over two years now, you know are in a mess if all this has to be kept atleast above 4 feet high. There are three lofts in this house each spanning about 12 feet long with a 1 feet opening to get in to the dungeon. So it is practically useless and if any man ever gets in there, there is no way out!

We finally took it upon ourselves after enough procrastination and avoiding accidents with LG, just in the nick of time. One room was kept aside for the purpose of dumping everything and secured with a lock all through the day.

Listed below are a few things that we did with each of his milestones:

The turning over stage

  1. Securing all the ends of the bed with pillows (building a fortress).But from my experience, I think it is best to place the baby down at all times unless you are within a feet's distance. You never know when they will roll over and fall ff the bed. within a day of learning how to turn, he was all over the bed. So better be safe than sorry and never underestimate what your baby cannot do. They are highly unpredictable who will never cease to surprise you.

  2. I never left him alone on a sofa since he was four weeks old.

  3. Never keeping anything on the bed that would attract him.

The crawling stage
If you have stuff removed from the ground level much before your child starts crawling, then it's good for you and everyone else in the family. I had my in-laws around for a few weeks when LG was 5 months old and I asked everyone around to help me out in putting things away. All of them procrastinated and were quick to comment that there is still a lot of time left before he reaches out for things. Sure, there is but an extra set of hands is always helpful with a baby around. You never get as much time to do anything as planned. And finally before we realized he was all over the place pulling things on a damage mission. So we either had to clean up the place making it safe for him within 2 days or else be prepared to see our valuables for the last time.

    It's never too early to put things away. Do it bit by bit from when your kid is 3 months old.
  1. Do not let any wire hang that they can reach from the ground. Wires fascinate kids for some reason.

  2. Secure all the electric points with tape.

  3. Make sure your bathroom doors close well, if not get it fixed.

  4. If your main door opens up to the stairs, ensure that you keep it closed at all points. If you have a balcony that you think is not safe, then never leave the door open. Not even for a minute. they just wait for the opportunity to sneak out.

  5. Keep potted plants away from your child's reach. I have two money plants in pots that are kept away from LG's reach by placing a wooden chair in front of the pots in the balcony. Once, he managed to reach the pots and I found his hands full of mud just about to put them in his mouth.

  6. Keep broom and mopping cloth out of reach, always. Even when the house is being cleaned. Instruct your maids to keep them away once they are done and always keep an eye when the house is cleaned.

  7. If you have a pooja room that is on ground level as ours, it is bound to attract kids. LG is always attracted to the diya and as I keep the door closed during the day, he manages to rush in as soon as it is opened. Never leave them alone with diya burning.

  8. I have a bucket full of drinking water in the kitchen that used to be on the floor. Now, i keep it on top of a counter. Ditto with the onion-potato basket.

  9. Never put any garbage (used mosquito mats, soiled diapers etc )on the floor. You will be surprised as to what they can see. Small grains and pecks of dust that we fail to see, they can see from a distance and will be quick to put in their mouth. I realized what a shitty job my maid was doing after LG came along. Dust that had gathered under the door, behind the sofa got cleaned. ensure your garbage tin has a lid and is kept in a place secured with a door.

  10. the minimum number of things on your kitchen floor and elsewhere, the better for you.

  11. If you have a habit of filling your bathtubs with water, then either stop doing that or be careful that you never ever leave the bathroom door open.

  12. Take extra care with the door knobs of every room. Make sure they don't lock on their own.LG has a habit of fiddling with the door stopper always and manages to close himself in the bedroom.

  13. If your kid eyes something but is not successful in reaching the same in his first or second attempt, be rest assured he will get it sooner than later. And much earlier than you had imagined. We had a good 5 days to save our wireless router but we failed to use that time. He dropped it 2 times and still we didn't learn our lesson. As a result, we had to spend another Rs. 2,700 to get a new router.

  14. If you have a tablecloth hanging out on the sides, make sure you put them on top else you will find all the contents of your table on the floor soon :)

  15. I had a bad experience with my music system. He managed to destroy my cassettes. The lights on the system attract him and he is always pushing some button, turning on the volume control to its maximum level etc. If you can manage to put the system at a higher level, then do that. We couldn't find a appropriate setting for my BOSE so we packed it.

  16. Many Indian kitchens do not have a door. So if you can create small insertable wooden partition, then that's great. Else you can perhaps put something to obstruct your kid from entering like a dining chair.

If it's comforting to know, you will never be completely done with child proofing your home. Just when you thought the house was safe enough for your baby to crawl, he would begin to stand and suddenly your new task is to keep everything above 4 feet. There's only so much you can do. By keeping an eye on him always until he is old enough to understand what's harmful, is what will work. The trick is not to stop them too much. Restricting kids only makes them want to do more and inhibits their creativity.

Useful links :

Childproofing Checklist: Before your baby crawls

LG jumps at every opportunity to be all over me - biting my face, pulling my hair, blowing raspberries on my arms to make farting sounds and that ear-to-ear smile when I play peek-a-boo. But he has been resisting all of this and has even transformed his open-mouth grin flashing the pearlies into a closed one, so careful that his lips don't even have a millimeter gap and turns away from me. What if momma finds a crack to let the spoon in, he thinks!

For over two weeks now, he has been giving me a hard time by not eating. I've tried different varieties of home made solids such as rice-dal-curd that he loved earlier to mashed mixed vegetables as beans-carrots-beets-peas-tomatoes to mashed potatoes to different kinds of cereals as Cerelac (Apple-Cherry) /Cerelac (dal -palak)/ Nestum (mixed vegetables), but nothing is working for long. Some days he has his lunches without the slightest fuss. Dinners have been a problem all through. He does like what he eats - I can tell that but he doesn't want to make the effort to eat and my guess is he wants the most convenient form of food in the nights - either mother's feed or formula. His Paed reassured saying his weight is good and growth tends to be slow down at this age and there is no reason for worry and that he be fed when he is hungry. Force feeding doesn't work, he said and I am experiencing that. Nothing can make his lips open when he doesn't want to eat - no amount of antics. Changing his schedules, environment, the posture in which he is fed to the feeding cups I use - I've tried them all. I just hope its a phase that will pass through quickly. Its tough not to get worried as I drive The Seniol up the wall everyday with my he-has-not-eaten-a-spoon story everyday. For now, the worms in the gutter are growing fatter and fatter - all of LG's food goes to them on time!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some myths about pregnancy and child rearing

Advice is abound from all quarters of the society fro the time a woman is pregnant until a child is old enough to shut the opposite person up. Here are some of my favorites collected from various sources and experiences :

Myth : The shape of the belly determines the baby's sex. If you are round all over then you are going to have a girl. If its pointing straight and one can't find out if you are pregnant from looking behind you, then its a boy.

Fact they say is how every woman carries her baby has nothing to do with the gender of the baby but depends on her anatomy, body build and the size of the baby. But as far as I know, every person that saw me since 12 weeks told me I was going to have a boy, the first one being my mom.

Myth : Vomiting and extreme heartburn during the later stages of pregnancy means that the baby has lot of hair.

I had both these problems in abundance throughout my pregnancy. However, fact is there is no evidence to suggest a co-relation between heartburn and how hairy a baby is. Gap between meals, slow digestion, fatty oil foods are several things that lead to heartburn.

Myth :
Eat saffron to get a baby of fair complexion

I am sure every Indian woman has gone through this drill of being made to drink saffron milk every night. I had saffron of every place from Iran to Kashmir in bottles of all shapes and sizes, though I had very little of them. Wonder why there are so many brown skinned people in our country then. Complexion depends on genes.

Myth : You have to eat for two.

Wonder who started this one. For Pete's sake, I couldn't even the spot the foetus until the second sonography and was searching for the peanut inside like Rachel in a FRIENDS episode. Eating for two will only make us elephants.

Myth : Wait for 3 months to announce that you are pregnant.

This one gets to me. Seriously. I had a close family member who decided against telling she was pregnant for we would be jealous and it would risk miscarriage. What crap ? And there are many in this country with that belief. Miscarriage happens for various other reasons if you don't exercise caution and not because of the evil eye story!

Myth : Never tell outsiders what you feed the baby. Never feed the baby in front of others. Never tell anyone that your baby is keeping good health. All to keep off the evil eye ?

I never understood the logic. Isn't the weight of the baby enough to tell if the baby is eating or not. A friend of mine always says "she hasn't anything at all." Every time, mind you. we dropped in on a Sunday and I asked casually to the baby, "did you have milk?". The grandpa was quick to say, "yes, biscuit, milk, banana etc" The grandma pitched in and gave a dirty stare to her husband while telling me, "Not a thing since morning."

Myth : Pregnant women are not allowed to itch during eclipses.

A friend asked if I went out during an eclipse at the time of my pregnancy or if I ate or scratched myself. I replied I might have gone out and for sure I did not stay hungry or lay still. She attributes that to the birth mark under LG's eyes. I think that is crazy! She also went to describe how she lay on her back during the day of solar eclipse without moving, eating so much so that her back ached terribly at the end of the day. If this is not self inflicted torture in the last trimester of one's pregnancy, then what is?

Myth : Don't let the kid see himself in the mirror before an year.

Never understood this one. LG enjoys seeing his reflection and I've been showing him ever since he was 3 months old.

Myth :Don't take the child out in the evening after it is dark.

OK, I've to agree that I refrained from taking him out too much after dark, but I wonder if there is any logic behind it.

Looking back, I realize how dumb I have been. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt to acknowledge your ignorance in front of the world. Enough reason below to tag me a dumb mama :

  • We were the least prepared for the arrival of our baby. If it hadn't been for mom, I guess The Seniol would have been shopping for nappies, white clothes, blankets, baskets, nursery, Johnson's baby products the night LG was born. We did not have a single item bought that prepared us for the new mother and child.

  • This is my favorite. I did not know what peek-a-boo was. Every time Baby Center told me playing peek-a-boo will delight your baby, I would stop by the nearest kid's shop and ask for the peek-a-boo toy. What dumb schmuck I was.

  • When LG's teeth first appeared, I did not know they had to be cleaned on a daily basis with a brush. What was I waiting for. all the 28 to show up. I wasted a good 4 weeks before starting to clean his pearly whites.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

High Chair

Yet another accessory for Lil General to make my life comfortable. We are on a shopping spree every weekend for LG. Life does change after a kid - when you are out you buy all the time for kids even if you had planned to buy something for yourself before leaving home.

So we got the high chair that I saw last week, rather a better one than the one I had chosen. Of late, it has become a difficult to feed him. He spills so much over my clothes that I ought to change him and myself after every feed and the huge pile of laundry in all colors at the end of the day is a delightful sight to a tired parent. To add to this, he keeps getting away from me or starts crawling after every spoon. This I guess is nothing unusual but I found difficult to cope because he has been a non fussy eater all through. So this sudden change left me short of ideas - was it because he did not like the food or he was not comfortable the way I was feeding him. Having tried everything possible from changing his diet to the environment, we decided on getting the high chair yesterday chair after his bout of vomiting. Not much has changed. Of course, it is less messy and LG can't get away from easily, so that's one less thing to deal with.

Things you should keep in mind while choosing a high chair :

  1. There are a lot of brands and choices available starting from Rs. 800 to Rs. 2000. Look for how sturdy the chair is.

  2. The one I bought has two restraining straps to secure the child - one at the waist and one at the crotch.

  3. A clamp that locks onto the table for added security.

  4. Caps or plugs on tubing that firmly attach and cannot be pulled off by a child.

Despite all these safety features, it is advisable never to leave the child unattended. Its not even been a day and he is already trying to find ways to free himself of the straps and get out of it after 10 mins.

The number of accessories available for kids these days never ceases to amaze me. Potty chair for potty training, high chair to feed the baby, changing table to change diapers, strollers and prams to walk the baby, tubs to bathe the baby, bouncers to calm the baby and the list goes on and on. And yet, mothers are never tired of cribbing and complaining how tough is to raise a child - with all the conveniences and comforts that you get today. With none of these when I was brought up, my mother brought me up happily never once complaining what a pain it was to feed a baby who would run up and down the corridor for a good hour or so for every feed during the day. She was skinny, did all the household chores and yet raised me cheerfully. For most of us, with all the gadgets right from heating water in a minute to a car to go to the Paediatrician to a machine to wash and dry clothes, there is no hardship in life. Yet I find mothers of day starting every conversation with "I'm so tired of bringing this child up" to "I am going to kill the person who talks about us having a second baby" to "Aah..I didn't have the time to pick up your call." to "No time for social life" " to "Isne bahut pareshan karke rakha hai...wakes up at 4 every morning" to "Poore ghar mein ghoomtha rahtha hai" to "isne mera mobile thod diya" Well, who said parenthood was rosy and it is natural for a kid to crawl and do the things they do.

It is a moment of introspection and I am looking for answers. With most people having a maid to help them out with the chores and a nanny for the baby complain about their depleting social life, tiredness all the time and the wish to hop into the bed at the first chance. Why? Has our energy levels come down or has our expectations of life gone up? Did we intend to lead the same life as was pre-kids?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh Seniol, what have you done?

Though the title of the post is influenced by the song Oh Maggie, what have you done?, the sentiment is not echoed. The Seniol has been teaching Lil General weird things that shock me and make me laugh at the same time. The other day I was checking mails, LG slowly crawls underneath my chair, draws my attention with his Tansen sound and then pulls out his tongue. I learnt later that The Seniol had taught him this and I couldn't help asking him "what have you done?". Oh! and then krrrrrrrrrrrrrr - driving a motorcycle with his mouth is driving me nuts. He does this all day and to anyone he sees on the road. Kids are quick learners, so I gotta watch out what to do , what to say in front of him and what not to.

Monday, August 27, 2007

No sleep, no hunger

The past fours days have been very weird. We can't figure out if it is apart of his growing up or if he is not keeping well. His activities seem quite normal. He crawls up and down a zillion times. From a totally non-fussy eater, he has turned into one cranky monster. He just refuses to take any food - no milk, no water, no solids. He just finishes about half his bottle and maybe 2 spoons of carrot. I can't quite recollect the last time he had proper dinner in the past week. I find it hard to believe that a kid who would crawl quickly to me at the sight of his bottle or cup now has such a huge aversion to food. He tries toppling it or starts beating me once I feed him. Its been impossible to hold him. He goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. which makes him wake up at 4:30 a.m. Quite tiring to keep up to his schedule now.
Suspecting a stomach bug, my mom suggested I give him 2 spoons of omam (ajwain) water with a little sugar. This seems to have helped for now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The cover story

There is a bedtime ritual the family has been following religiously for over 5 years now. I have recently come to calling The Seniol, the "Dakkan man". He tucks the family into bed every night.

Before LG came in to our lives, The Seniol did night duty, no not like the diaper duty of his now. He would wake up 2 or 3 times in the night to drink water and then see to it the mosquito mat is on, the windows are closed and that the room is neither too hot nor too cold. And then he would arrange the sheet on me properly tucking me in properly and it would stay that way for what, maybe a maximum of 5 mins. Five years is a long time to do that night after night. Sometimes, I felt like a child and not a grown up to be pampered so much. I could manage the show impeccably well when he was traveling but when it came to the nights, I was horrible at that, sleeping under the cot out of fear, forgetting to put on the mat or close the windows and forget about the sheets on top.

With the arrival of LG in our lives, the privilege has gone to him. The Seniol makes his bed every time when he is at home and it is LG's sleep time. The finesse with which he executes this is remarkable. The rubber mat goes first. On top of it, a big enough cotton cloth so that he doesn't feel too cold. And then a fortress of pillows form a boundary around his sleep area. There is a designated spot for each of the 6 pillows, the round ones at the foot and just above his head with the four flat ones on his side. The two small pillows are laid horizontally to each other. He checks his clothing every time before putting him to bed. And then the fan is regulated. It is funny because after such an elaborate arrangement which in itself takes 5-10 mins, when he puts LG in this inviting comfortable sleep area, he kneels hits the pillows, removes the covers and the area looks a mess in no time. Not amusing any more and feeling bad for The Seniol, I asked him "why do you do this when you know he is just going to disturb the whole setting within seconds? wouldn't it be nice to do this after he goes to sleep?" For which The Seniol replied, "It just makes me happy. So what if he creates a mess. I just want him to feel good when he goes to bed." A nice thought but I don't know if the crawling machine really understands this :) This exercise has sure done one thing - it makes me feel he at times is a much better parent than I.

LG's shorts stay on him shorter than what it takes to get it cleaned. Sometimes for less than 60 seconds. I prefer wearing him cotton shorts when at home as it is comfortable for him than using nappy pads or diapers, which also means I've to be on my toes to see if susu aunty visited him. His friendship with susu aunty goes a long way back and the bond is only growing stronger by the day with the rains and cool weather not helping :)
The process of getting a clean chaddi on an average takes about 1 day - the washing cycle happening every night followed by drying which takes anywhere between 8 to 10 hours depending on the weather, then folding and finally it makes to his basket. Finally, when it reaches its intended destination, all it stays is for a good 1 hour at the most and least for 60 seconds.
I don't know if there is an ideal age to potty train a baby. I've begun it for LG a week back. His potty sessions go by the clock anywhere between 6:45 a.m. - 7:30 a.m., immediately after his morning feed. The predictable nature of it worked well for us. I was so happy on day 1 when I placed him on the potty chair and lo, he was done within 5 minutes and seemed so comfortable playing with this new toy :) The Seniol took a picture of his, wonder what LG might have to say when he grows up to see this one :)

I'm going bonkers trying to Lil General to sleep. I spend way too much time trying LG to get to sleep. If it takes 45 mins to put him to sleep, he gets up in 20 mins making me go crazy. I can't get anything done around the house. cooking has become round the clock activity because nothing is done in one sitting.

It is not LG's fault that he can't sleep while he wants to. The noise levels at home are way beyond tolerant levels for any sane human being. The wood work downstairs at our owner's place has been going on for a goddamn 60 days. Just when its almost done, some water proofing work has started on the terrace. And our dear neighbour next door has started putting asbestos sheet over his sidewalk which has been on for a week now. From 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., the only sound I can hear is that of drilling, chipping off concrete, hammering, welding and carpentry. A few more days of this insanity and we will go deaf.

LG's tolerance for noise was high since the bedroom he spent the first four months was by a busy roadside. So he slept through this noise when we came here. He really slept like a baby. But now, I guess its proving too much for him too. He is just a 8 month old baby after all....

If you are a male who is not a father yet and are scared of holding small babies, then don't worry, you are not alone!

A friend of ours delivered a year before we came parents and two hours later after this kid was born, we went to see her at the hospital which is just around the corner from where we live. It was well past 9:00 p.m. and she was so tiny wrapped all around with heads covered and just the face visible. As the kids granny handed her in my arms, I was apprehensive to hold someone so small, scared if I would hold her right and it wouldn't hurt her. yet I did a good job and held her for 2-3 mins. Having grown in a family teeming with young cousins, I had seen a lot of newborns so it came as a surprise about my not being confident.

The Seniol on the other hand stood at a hand's distance and looked at the baby and marveled at how small the hands and feet were. A year later. 19th December, 2006. 7:30 a.m. The Seniol was looking over LG's crib scared of picking him up for fear of hurting his teeny-weeny body. He just sat on the bed opposite me admiring his product touching his little limbs, awed at how long his nails were, those small eyes that refused to open up, while my brother picked up LG and held him in his arms. He couldn't stop saying how babies are small and that their fingers were small. The whole family was behind him to make him carry LG. And he did finally but the fear didn't go away for a week. Once we were home, there was such a huge transformation. For a fortnight after that, Lil General slept only on The Seniol's shoulders. When he left for Pune again, his shoulders were much missed at 3 a.m.

We were seeing the movie Pyar ... ke side effects yesterday and the scene were Rahul Bose is scared of holding his sister's baby reminded me of The Seniol's fear of holding the most fragile thing this world.

Johnson's baby powder smells and feels good. The touch of the powder against one's skin leaves a pleasant feeling and it is easy to get carried away and apply the same on your baby at regular intervals assuming it will make the baby feel good too. For years, grannies in India have taught new mothers how to keep their babies clean and looking good, an important part of which is to white wash the baby with powder.

For four weeks after Lil General's birth I applied Johnson's baby powder after his bath, diaper changes and every time I changed his dress. Thankfully, there were no side effects that were immediately evident. I refrained from using the same thereafter on Doctor's advice. He said it was enough to keep the baby dry without sweat getting accumulated under the fold, armpits etc. This worked. I would just pat him dry with a clean cloth. The weather was not too hot then to get very sweaty. He did not have any diaper rashes either as I mostly used cloth nappies and cotton shorts only.

Your baby's skin is smooth naturally and doesn't need any makeup, at least not yet!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Crawling before sitting

LG is on a mission. He is on his fours unravelling the mystery of what is there in every room, why some rooms are always closed, waiting for an opportunity to push his way through when the doors are open. He has learnt to climb over the diwan, pull himself up, crawl over us and sleep on The Seniol's tummy.

I was told that kids generally sit first and then they learn how to crawl. That phase did not happen in his case. He started by crawling and is still struggling to sit without support.