Today is 09.09.09

Ravi landed in the US for work on 09.09.90, 19 years ago. He stayed there till 2007 when we moved to Singapore and then here to India a year ago. He worked there for almost 17 years. Ravi and i were just enjoying the rare number combinations.

Raghu and Zoya created a Bed-Cushion-Sleep-Game. We rolled in all our cushions on the floor this morning. The 2 have been inventing games… mostly raghu invents and zoya adjusts things to suit her tastes… like blankets and dollies must be part of the said game. Raghu has been hooked on his DS… which got a whole bunch of new games loaded thanks to an adult-gaming-friend we’ve met recently. Raghu is in gaming-nirvana.

We are getting ready for our trip to the US. Amazing that it is really happening. Ravi has been incredible at making this trip happen. He has been wanting to go back to NJ/NYC with us… for a trip at the very least. So we leave end of October and get back end of November. All in all about 5 weeks. We will get to spend the first 6 days in London as he has work there as well. Our US trip will include a week in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe region. Since we could not time our trip to match any of the unschooling conferences that happen thru the year across the US…. Sandra Dodd ( very kindly offered to plan a conference for when we are there. Her generous offer means we get to spend time with her and other families and watch unschoolers in action. Can’t wait 🙂

Raghu is very thrilled about the upcoming travels. He has been reading about castles, Robin Hood and talking about Harry Potter and related stuff. He knows Roald Dahl was British and we’ve been talking about visiting a castle with a real moat and seeing a portcullis in action. Interestingly its not like i said “we’re going to London.. lets read things that relate to it”… nope. He has been connecting the dots and telling me about all the books he borrows from the library or hte ones he likes at home and how they have roots or are based in London. Even Asterix and Obelix speak of Londinium 🙂

I’m looking forward to the US part of the trip so i can spend time in familiar places with family and friends, enjoy playgrounds and museums and such, eat lots of old familiar foods, walk the streets of NYC again, and very importantly… meet and interact with Unschooling parents and children. Something that we as a family are sorely missing out on here in India.

Zoya is talking in bigger more complicated sentences and is engaging Raghu in conversation more often these days. The age gap is reducing. Till now she was only a physical playmate… someone Raghu could run with and catch or jump with. But she is changing rapidly. She is 3 inches short of Raghu’s height and is wearing shoes that are one size behind. Raghu says she is the biggest 3 year old he ever saw 🙂 She cracks jokes and will look at us with delight when we get her jokes.

Its beginning to rain a little each day… even just a small drizzle… but enough to feel monsoony in one’s heart. Its a delicious feeling. The smell of wet earth and the knowledge that the surrounding hills will be green soon makes me so happy.

Raghu has been explaining rain-shadows and other interesting weather related things. He asked me to walk without bending my knees. Impossible unless i allowed my hip bones to lift. He is so alive and full of information these days. He may spend upto 6 hours a day in his DS nintendo. Something that i’m getting used to. Its like getting used to a new family member almost… he is busy and involved in things that can’t involve his little sister any more. She is not even able to use a mouse very well or perhaps just has no interest… or perhaps we’ve not found the right software for her yet. All in all.. she has been fending for her self and finding her own fun.

She took her Barbie doll and a scissor and looked set to do some serious hairstyling. I asked her to cut in the balcony… not in the house. So she went out and wet the doll’s hair and cut it. She had fun. I was slurping soup and watching her. Earlier today Z allowed me to cut a fringe for her… she wants to grow most of her hair so she can put it up in a pony soon like me.

Raghu and Zoya are having a lot of fun-filled moments with their cousin. My s-i-l, Meghna and her daughter will be with us on and off these next few weeks. Its lovely to watch Z and Kaveri in the bathroom. They had shaving cream and baby powder all over the bathroom adn themselves today. Its a routine… every few days they get into a long session in the bathroom and then shower together.

I’m feeling much better today and am beginning to look forward to our road trip. We head to Dharwad tomorrow.

Raghu has been asking a lot of questions about words in the english language. He said the word Night is spelt wrong. I have to look up why the english language is this way. Pneumonia and Psychiatry. I mean there are millions of exceptions. Its hard to read this language. Sanskrit-devanagiri based languages are so clear. Hindi is read as it is written. Rare exceptions. However Raghu is into the english language and very keen to read. I mean not overtly. But he has been reading steadily these past few weeks and i’m surprised at his new skill.

Clarifications and DVDs

Clarification about the post about the Dharwad trip and DVD player: I meant a Car-DVD player. We have a DVD player at home.

DVDs: Just wanted to post here our favorite videos these past few months:
The Clone Wars
Dunstan Checks In
The Magic School Bus series
Motorcycle Diaries (Raghu sat thru this and asked me to read the subtitles)
Angelina Ballerina
Little Bear Series
Batman.. cartoon
Asterix and Obelix… cartoon
BEN 10… should have been posted as number 1 🙂
Snoopy come home
Richard Scarry Busy Town
Night at the Museum
Tom and Jerry.. old and new
BBC series on Gerald Durrel’s My family and other animals
Dora the explorer

I’m sure there are more… but these are the ones we’ve seen off and on over the past couple of months.

We can all be happy.

We are going on a 6 hour road trip this Friday. Meeting up with family in Dharwad for a nephew’s ceremony. And then we return on Monday.

I have been a bit under the weather since last afternoon. So while Raghu and I were settling into a nap.. he asked who would be coming to this family meet and how long the trip would take and other related questions. Then he asked me if the Car/jeep we are hiring has a DVD player. (we don’t have one .. portable or otherwise. But Raghu had experienced a Family van with inbuilt DVD player a while back…. again a longish road trip… the DVD player was used non stop by Raghu. It bothered some of us. We were a large group.)

Back to his question…. I barely did any deep breathing or checking of my emotions… i simply blurted out “Raghu if you want to keep watching videos while we travel thru lovely fields.. the trip is on a good road known for a beautiful ride…. then you may as well stay back with your grandma.” He looked surprised at my outburst and said “no, no i’ll come.”

At that moment i could think of nothing else to say except “we really want a road trip to enjoy the sights and be exchange stories and sing along with our CD player etc. So we did not consider hiring a car with a DVD player.” Then my head throbbed too much to talk. and we fell asleep.

A few hours later i had a quiet walk (baby sitter at home) and called sister for advice about this… she is my baby-sister all grown up now… and she is the one who gets RU the best. She and i discussed my choice. But i did not feel good inside. I felt rotten.

I called Urmila (the only other RU mom in Pune). Based on what we exchanged…. i felt a lovely shift happening inside:

Raghu’s choices are as best as they can be for him… as are mine for me. I love watching the rolling fields and talking to Ravi and kids and exchanging stories/singing along with cds etc. I love stopping and tasting some local food item (food and language changes every 50 km in india i think 🙂 Or taking a small detour and stretching our legs and clicking a few photos. Raghu, per his current interests, would love to carry his DS Nintendo and enjoy our company alongside his playing. He does not mind not having a DVD player since he has his DS. He may want different things from this trip than i do. If he does nto choose to enjoy the scenery the way i do… i need to stay smiling.. happy for his choices. And i can continue to enjoy my choices… i can stop the car and stretch and take in the view. And i shall smile at my child’s and husband’s choices. We all make different choices and they must be honored as far as possible.

I immediately felt a weight lift and i felt light and airy. We can all be happy and supportive of each other. I can’t even begin to write the ramifications of coercive living… but i can begin to write about the beauty of RU living. No one is martyred.

Zoya has been feeling sad whenever Raghu is on the DS for too many hours of the day and he refuses to join our games. But i make up for his absence as best i can. Last evening she told me that she wanted to get her own DS. I said yes… that was a great idea. She smiled and kissed me and said… “me happy, you happy?” Then she thought a bit and said “I will play with Raghu”. 🙂

Sure… i’m not fond of screen time for myself… but if it is a passion for my child or children… i shall make shifts within and accept their choices… as they accept mine. Raghu i’m sure would never stop me from taking a break for photos while we are on the road. He is so reasonable about our choices. Why can’t we joyously accept his?

So looking forward to this trip and to making it joyous for all of us with our different/overlapped/similar needs.

Things we do…

The first photo is Z playing with the marble run… which was built by my helper, Roopa. Z had a long, mostly enjoyable time with her this afternoon as i was busy helping Raghu with his first time exploration of Magic School Bus cds on the computer. He had a great time doing insect match ups and traveling in the time-machine with Ms Frizzle.
The second is of Z, Arohee and Rushabh having a long playdough session.
The third is of Arohee and Zoya enjoying my bangles…. they mixed it all up and enjoyed piling it on.
The fourth is is of Raghu and Zoya enjoying a crazy long bath… filled with cornstarch-powder, avalakki (flattened rice), bath salts, toys etc. And Z actually was asking raghu to throw water all over her!

Up late…

Z has a cold and needed lots of down time with me this evening. And R and R have gone to Bangalore for 2 nights… Big R for work and little R for some fun with Grampies and Aunt’n’uncles. So after Z finally slept around 11ish… i was wide awake.. sleep had passed me by.

I watched the final 3 episodes of Sex and the city. I remembered how much i used to enjoy this show… BC (before children) i.e. Anyway… it took me back in time… when Ravi and I would enjoy the show late into the night. We lived in Hackensack, NJ then. And i got my masters and worked in NYC. It was one heck of a glam city. My office then rented space in the very building that housed Playboy and Gucci. We basically had fashion in our face all the time.

Given that Raghu has recently started to style his hair and loves his lovely long locks (longer than his sister’s… she asked me to cut hers recently!)… i really enjoyed seeing all the different looks of Samantha, Carrie etc in SATC.
Raghu used the word ‘Style’ recently in reference to something i was wearing. He also asked several questions about why some folks grow their hair adn some dress up all the time and some pierce their ears and nose etc.. Lots of fashion, style questions. Z for the most part prefers to dress like her brother… and sometimes will ask for frocks adn high heels… mine of course. Lipstick and perfume are big for her these days. she is very keen on dupattas. Loves them… i have to cut some up in half so they don’t trail on the floor behind her. She wears them on all her outfits.. even if they are not indian outfits.

Z and I enjoyed our day despite her missing R and R a lot. She is so connected to her brother and father. She told me lots of little stories about her playdates, time with Ravi, some mixed with snippets from the “Snoopy come home” video that she was watching. She has become more aware of her body…. she knows she is taller too as she can reach the Door bell standing on her toes these days. She will be 3 in a week. Amazing how far she has come. When we got her from the orphanage, aged 9 months, she held/chewed her lower lip a lot … it was her thumb-sucking equivalent. And now she barely does it and is such a go getter…not shy at all. She is our laughing, tall, busy, talkative, cheery, tapping, expressive, loving baby. I love her so much.

M&Ms for breakfast

I was having toast and tahini with a mug of tea for breakfast… the best breakfast almost… just missing some grapefruit slices. And Z wakes up and reaches for a hug. As i swing around to make space for a chair with her up in my arms.. she reaches out for candy sitting on a shelf. My first instinct overtook and i pulled her away. She was mad at me. I asked if she’d like milk/formula (something she still loves). And then i felt horrible. So while the rest of the day went in a whirl of activity… i could not stop that anxious feeling inside… the ‘H’ word was ringing within. What it meant and what my role was etc. And so far Raghu’s most contorversial breakfast item has been pickled gherkins or perhaps super sweet Choco milk. So Z’s latest need for chocolate/gems/smarties/M&Ms as soon as she wakes up has me in a loop. But then i remembered my wonderful mentor Sandra and voila! In 3 clicks i was at this page feeling my breathing returning to normal and feeling at peace with my children’s food choices. Thanks Sandra!

Z and I are on potty training road. Lots of reasons… but essentially she eats like a 5 year old… sometimes more than Raghu… and this calls for diapers of a size and quantity that I’m frowning upon. So we’ve let her loose. My good humor disappeared the first day… but Ravi has been so patient and has humored me into looking upon it as a wonderful indoor stay for a week or more till Z is settled into a bit of a routine and forgets diapers completely. She does not ask for diapers and she always seemed to be uncomfortable in them as the size was small. You don’t get large diapers here! Good for the enviro though. Z is happy to be free but not so happy about her accidents. So still house bound and hanging loose 🙂

Z and i built a lovely geometric design. I was surprised to see how she managed to help me find pieces and also managed to make her own little shape.