TMLFYI… | A Pathway

I wanted your room to be magical, little one. I wanted it to conjure up excitement, and energy, and inspiration, and happiness. I wanted you to enter your room and feel happy. I wanted other people to enter your room and feel magic. I wanted a set of decorations that were worthy of you.

We tried our hardest.

But perhaps more than anything, I wanted a room that I loved. That I adored. That reflected everything I want for you.

I can’t tell you the pressure I was feeling to bring together a vision that would allow us to achieve that. And I think we did. I feel like we did, munchkin.

And when you stare at Max and all his Wild Things while we’re changing you, I realize we actually did.

So today my love for you is a pathway. One that takes you to and through some of the most beautiful lands the world has ever written about.

I love you munchkin. You are my greatest story.

Anaiya's Bedroom

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Trial & Error | Crock Pot | Chicken and Mushroom Soup

I love soup. I never make it. My sister does and she’s awesome at it. Which is part of the reason I don’t make it. Relative economic efficiency, I guess. I always make other stuff.


But when I looked under my cabinet one day to see these two beautiful crock pots, completely unused, something inside me clicked. And I found myself recently inspired to go crazy with those crock pots.


In the past three weekends I’ve made four dishes which have garnered some serious rave reviews. I don’t remember the exact recipes because I kind of made them up as I went along. That being said, I figure I might as well share what I do remember and leave the rest under the “season to taste” category found in many recipes.


The first recipe? Chicken and Mushroom Soup.


The goal for me first and foremost is hearty. I want to make any food I make feel substantive and hearty. In this case, I didn’t want to do this with noodles. To me, that’s a cop out. So I instead focused on the chicken and veggies to make it work.


Ingredients
Full rotisserie chicken
Fresh mushrooms, sliced or cubed (go crazy; I used a mix of Bellas and Creminis)
Olive Oil
Parmesan Rinds (3)
Water
Butter
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne
2 Bay Leaves


Directions


  1. Pull the chicken fully off the bone. Tear it or rough chop it but I kept it in fairly large sizes.
  2. Make your own stock. I put all of the chicken bones in a pot, added (to taste) butter, salt, pepper, cayenne, parmesan rinds, and water, and then boiled it for a good 90 minutes. I used 5 cups of water for reference given the size of the crockpot.
  3. Clean the mushrooms. And then either slice of cube them. But no need to sautee or anything. These preserve themselves well in the slow cooker method.
  4. Lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot with olive oil. Toss everything into the crockpot. Add the homemade stock (including the parmesan rinds.) Add additional water depending on the consistency you’re going for. And cook on high for 4 hours. If you want to start the chicken and soup actually going, put half of the water from the stock into the crock pot to start and go from there.

If what comes out isn’t the best chicken soup you’ve ever had, you’re doing something wrong. Or I have ridiculously low standards.


The soup crushed it.

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TMLFYI… | Pacified

(Note: This photo was taken on 3/25 at 6:33 am.)Pacifier

She’s got hands! That’s the realization here.
Since your birth you’ve managed to pull off something miraculous on almost a daily basis. But this one, this was one for you. It’s the first time I watched you try to take care of yourself. Amazing right?
It’s the morning. You’ve woken up with some serious hunger pangs so you’re trying to balance saving your energy with crying out loud so that I know you’re hungry. It’s always a fantastic balancing act on your part.
Against the advice and counsel of just about everyone, I’m trying to lessen the pain on both your vocal chords and my ears by introducing you to a pacifier. Sometimes, you hate it. And when you do, you spit it out with the quickness.
But when you like it? I feel like the binky had to have been dipped in chocolate because you’re sucking on it like it’s candy. Amazing candy. Like no candy I’ve ever tried. A candy beyond mine (and Homer Simpson’s) wildest dreams.
The sucking part is adorable. But today you did something extraordinary. While I thought you were about to smack yourself in the face (something you will sometimes do) you actually allowed your hand to slowly make its way to your pacifier. You then pivoted your wrist and put your palm on your pacifier.
(Suspense right?)
Hands 2And then you pulled it out, kind looked at it like a drunk would his house keys, and jammed the whole thing back into your mouth. I tend to have my camera on the ready with you so given that all of this happened in slow motion, I was able to capture your hand still on the pacifier after you’d reinserted it into your mouth.
You did something most adults forget how to do. You pacified yourself.
You’re growing up so fast, my munchkin. Like I wrote about earlier, you’re going to need me less and less every single day. Today was beautiful to watch for you, and humbling for me. Today my love for you is pacified. And I’m totally fine with it.

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TMLFYI… | South Indian

So it’s actually dosa. Or as I like to spell it, Dosa. I capitalize because it’s a divine food.

Today, my dear, was your first time going out to dinner. You were spectacular. The rest (Chadhas and Motianis) of us feasted on Dosas (fully varied across the table, from rava to paper, from mysore to plain, from masala inside to masala out.) But we crushed ourselves some Dosas in Edison at the world famous Swagath.

What I love about this whole trip is that throughout her time carrying you, your Mom had one craving on one day — that’s it.

Guess what it was for?

You nailed it. Dosa. Capital D. Don’t worry, you got some with your nightcap I’m sure.

Dosa

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TMLFYI … | Satiated

Something worked!

I got home from work today and you were doing well. Playful. Your Eeshan Kaka was here and you were your compelling, beautiful, natural self which also means you completely won him over and made him your servant and enabler for life. I know. I’ve been there.

But as the night wore on you weren’t quite satisfied yourself. You were eating, enough to fill you up in the short-term but not enough to knock you out and satisfy you for a few hours. You were napping, but you’d snap out of it almost as quickly as you’d fall into it. Everything you were doing, you were doing in fits and spurts.

I feel lucky today though. I want to figure this out and today, I think I can. So I work some options and get you to take 2 ounces at 10. So far so good. You burp yourself into a milk coma. I hold you upright for 15 minutes. And then we swaddle you and drop you off in your crib. All is well. I clean some dishes. Sanitize your humidifier. I even get some work emails out.

At 11, you’re up again. First I see some flickers on the monitor screen. Motions. It’s you doing your darned leg lifts again. (Your core has got to be pretty fantastic at this point, by the way.) After the flickers on screen I hear bleats in stereo, both directly from the room and from the monitor. Surround sound fail on my part.

But you just can’t be hungry. You’re tired. Your diaper probably needs a little changing. So I do that first. Blue line down the front of the diaper means it’s game on and I have you wiped, diaper swapped, and smiling in minutes. I don’t want to feed you though. I don’t think that’s what you want. I think you’ll take a half an ounce; but then you’ll be unsatisfied and I think you’ll wake up shortly again anyway.

So I leave you on the peanut and we start stretching and exercising. You look like Cynthia Cooper before a game — and I’m your trainer. We’re stretching your legs. Stretching out your arms. We’re getting downright PT up in this nursery. And after a few minutes, a beautiful thing happens. Your eyelids get heavy. Another twist of your hips and your eyelids start to look like they weigh pounds. Like keeping them open is your greatest act in defiance of gravity.

I pick you up, I reswaddle you, and then I caress your head lightly. Just fingertips. Every stroke seems to create a slightly stronger seal between your eyelids. Soon enough, you’re out. And I watch you. I shush lightly. I stare deeply. And I don’t know where the time has gone. I really have no idea.

SleepingAfter 20 minutes I shake off the daydream (mostly because my body was falling asleep in weird places and stages.) I take this picture and decide to finish up some emails and then write this post. Here we are, 45 minutes later, and you’re still at peace. 

So today, my lovely, brilliant, amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, outstanding, wonderful daughter, my love for you is briefly satiated. All because I found a way to bring this look to your face. It’s not quite the happy dance you gave your mom last week, but in context (midnight on a work night), it’s downright perfect.

Perfection kind of seems to be your thing, though. Who knew?

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TMLFYI… | Brothered

For the longest time I was a brother with many sisters. Life was good; even when it included my being dressed-up in berets, bows, and whatever else my sisters made me wear. The brother/sister relationship is one of the most special you can have. I am both a younger brother and an older brother. I love and cherish my roles respectively, and love it more when those relationships expand (to include your mom’s sisters, and my brother’s/friend’s significant others.)

The brother/sister relationship is the foundation of my favorite personal “holiday”, Raksha Bandhan. As rituals go, I tend not to be a fan. But this one is untouchable and beautiful to me. You can read the background on Wikipedia or elsewhere so I’ll spare you a deeper dive, but here’s my quick rundown on what it is and why it matters. If you’re lucky enough to have a sister, you’re blessed. This blessing is memorialized once each year when the sister ties a Rakhi (simple, beautiful thread) on the wrist of her brother, serving as a symbol of her blessings and her protection. In return, the brother gives his sister gifts, as recognition of both his luck (for receiving that love) and as acknowledgement of the fact that he’s trying his best to repay a debt he’ll never actually be able to. Money for eternal blessings, love, and protection. Sure, I know there’s obviously a lot of stuff going back to the sister on this front, and they’re kind of lucky too, but as A brother, I feel like this is pretty one-sided leaving me the beneficiary.

Over the past 8 weeks, you’ve met a number of your brothers. Some have held you and made you cry (Karan, you’re never going to live this down, bro, even though it’s not true — it is a fun story,) some have held you and pointed out that they didn’t make you cry right after the fact (Mundeep, way to seize the opportunity), and some have simply wanted you to say hi and taken sheer bliss from it (Arj, happy you got your wish).

This weekend you got to spend time with the brother who’s closes in age to you, your Hukam Veerji. What a great weekend together, and we ended it in style. You were super comfortable in his lap, and he was super comfortable with you in it. We’ll be retaking this exact picture over time.

With Hukam Veerji on his way back home, now only a couple of hours a way (how awesome is that?), I realize that today my love for you finds its way to you through your brothers. The boys who make me feel blessed because of the roles they are all going to play in your life, and who you will have the opportunity to love, bless, and protect as my sisters have done for me.

Man, I can’t wait for your first Raksha Bandhan. You’ve got a lot of love to give, don’t you munchkin.

Bro 1

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TMLFYI … | Tortured

“Devices that produce soothing sounds in order to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday.” – NY Times

Every modern day toy we have for you is in some form, a new casing for a sound machine. Your MamaRoo. Your swing. Your playmat. White noise machines are everywhere. Your mom has been concerned about their noise level all along. My hearing is degenerating at a very steady (somewhat troubling) clip so the problem for me is that I actually don’t know when I have the machines too loud. Even when I have them cranked to higher levels on the dial they sound reasonable to me, which is pretty problematic.

I should be using more common sense. It’s one of the lessons I learn every day in every walk of life. I can’t expect others to determine what portions of food are right for me. What level of exercise I can tolerate. What sound levels make sense to me in a white noise machine or my headphones (I still think my headphones are pretty sick — Zik? — by the way.) I should simply be using more judgment when it comes to you, my munchkin. This is a place where I could stand to be substantially more like your mom. She questions everything. When it comes to you, I need to let her do that more. I need to get less annoyed with those frequent pauses. And I need to know that it’s all worth it for the times her questions turn out to be the right questions to ask.

I can’t only externalize, though. Last night was brutal.

I don’t have too many truly haunting memories. Seeing your Great Ba’s body before cremation. Your Fua Dada. September 11th (and actually playing back the evening of September 9th.) I’m sure there are a few others from before, but there’s a new one from last night.

20140306_004918Your freaking sniffles. I have no words. I haven’t been able to shake your sniffles all day. You see, you were having a little trouble eating yesterday. You’d get through about an ounce and fight us. It’s all because of your sniffles. You couldn’t breathe. We didn’t quite know until later into the evening though that it was your congestion that was making you fussy. When are we going to learn that when you’re being fussy you’re telling us something very clearly.

You woke up periodically crying. We salined the heck out of your nose. We pumped and sucked gook from your noose. Your mom even tried some humidifier and hot shower tactics to help. You seem better now. You took down 3 ounces a few times. But I will never forget you waking up at 4am and 7am and a few times in-between because you were just having a hard time breathing. Did you know your mom slept on her side literally cradling you from about 4am – 9am?

20140306_003503You’re a lucky lady. And I just hope I can shake those images of you. It’s a hard thing when you’re feeling this kind of love, I guess.

Kind of also makes me regret every fight I’ve ever had with your Dada and Ba-ji. Reflecting on any of those only makes me that much more tortured. A lesson that can never be learned early enough — more specifically, a lesson that no matter when it’s learned, is always a lesson learned too late.

Sleep easy, munchkin.

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TMLFYI… | SMILES!

TSmiles2his is the most amazing picture I have ever seen. I don’t believe a more adorable picture has ever been taken. I’ve been to Hallmark. I’ve seen all the black and white greeting cards of children. And frankly, I think any picture on the front of one of those cards should be replaced with this.

Work hasn’t been easy. From a physical standpoint, I can say that even with the extraordinary support we’ve received in-person (especially from your Naniji and your Tita Fai), we’re a little more sleep deprived than usual. But when we see you like this, everything resets. Forget 5-hour energy … we should bottle your smile.

Looking at this picture was a life changing experience. Overwhelming. When your mom and I married, I made it my own personal challenge to make her happier day after day. Now I have another fundamental goal. Whenever we are lucky enough to bask in you being this happy, the world will cease to matter and everything will be ok. It will be like a reboot of The Matrix. Our job as parents is to help you get there as often as humanly possible.

Challenge issued. Challenge taken, munchkin. We’re on it.

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TMLFYI… | Rolling

Like camera rolling. Every day your mom finds time to send me pictures of you in action while I’m at work. I’m fairly uninterested in responding to my phone (texts, calls.) But there are few things that can get me to respond to a phone cue better than the incentive of knowing I’ll have a stream of photos of you to look at.

Today I wasn’t disappointed. You’re active. You’re moving. You’re alert. You’re engaging. We’re seeing your personality come through more and more everyday. I wish I could turn this into a flipbook and have it play on repeat in the upper right-hand corner of my screen. Just under the clock, so I could look at you and then know just how long it would be before I’d get back to you.

Roll 1Roll 3Roll 5Roll 4Roll 6 Roll 2

 

Amazing.

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TMLFYI… | No Myth

“She’s been fussy since Friday.”

“It’s Thursday.”

“Yeah. That’s why we’re calling again.”

24×7 nurse support can sometimes only be so helpful.

It’s amazing how parents cope with a fussy child. It is our job to work our way through every scenario and in the simplest of terms, make things better. To soothe. By any means necessary. The options aren’t radical and the permutations often fit on a 3×3 grid. She needs to be changed. She needs to be burped. She needs to be fed. At least that’s where the problem solving starts. In the heat of the moment, with tears flowing and lungs swelled, you can sometimes forget or overlook one of the options or frustratingly, choose the wrong order. Yet with practice you have a roadmap that becomes second nature, and with a better understanding of your baby’s fidgets and cries, you even get pretty good at knowing where to start.

But not always, at least for us at 5.5 weeks, not yet. Even soothing sometimes takes you off the beaten path. What we have learned over the past week is that sometimes, maybe (just maybe) she’s just looking for, someone to dance with.

(Bonus points if you’re like Astaire overseas.)

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