The beat goes on

This is a post that I found in draft form (one of a few that never made it) – It is a good reminder to myself to just post, no matter how short, even a thought because otherwise I risk forgetting all the little things that enthralled me about my baby growing up.



9/24/2010

“Things have been busy in the Tsampa household. As you all know, litte r started walking and now, he’s walking all over the place and getting into e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Pots and pans don’t stand a chance. Clash! Bang! Clothes are out of the laundry basket and strewn higgeldy-piggeldy everwhere. Books, ditto. He is can get up the stairs on his hands and knees but we’ve been discouraging him coming down on his own.

Litte r is in the cutest stage ever (I know I say this about every stage!). About 3 weeks ago, I woke up to some loud breathing and then realized this breathing had…. a tune! He was humming to himself! It was so adorable. Now he’s full out …”

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Little r’s making a transition

Little r,

Today is your first day of transitioning into the Toddler Room! I am so proud of you. It seems like just yesterday when we took you to the infant room for the first time, full of trepidation, wondering how you would do. You are now growing and thriving. You even go potty every morning now and we wave the poo-poo goodbye as we flush. (Well, I wave and you watch me like I’m nuts.)

You are my light. My joy. My heart.
I can’t wait to see what you do next.

xoxo
Amala.

This weekend, I Skyped with my family back home for the first time. It was amazing to see everyone and to talk to them. Pala has completely grey hair now… he did tell me that he was going to stop colouring his hair after Ola got married but the impact of this didn’t hit me till I saw him. Ola had warned me that this had happened but seeing it was…. well, a punch to the gut. You have to understand Pala has been colouring his hair for what feels like ever. He started prematurely greying in his thirties. This just reminds me that we are creatures with limited lifespans and we must make the most of what time we have. That said, I do realize that no matter how vital or young one looks, one could go at any time. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and go before my dad, who don’t get me wrong, looks fantastic. I am always surprised by how surprised I am when I am confronted by mortality. Little r was asleep and he didn’t get to interact with the grandparents but they were really thrilled when I took the laptop to the room and showed them little r fast asleep. They couldn’t get over how tall he’s gotten! I can’t believe it took me this long to do this. I will make a weekly Skype date with them and try to melt the miles (and miles) between us.

Little miracles

This year the Tsampa family decided to skip out of town for summerbreak and head to the mid-west. The compromise was that this summer, we would go to attend Tsampapapa’s friend’s wedding and then next Spring, we would go to Jhola Kep and Kana’s wedding. One for him, one for her – peace reigns supreme in the household just the way we like it. Then we found out serendipitiously, we will be missing the G-8/G-20 summit happening in our fair city. What luck! What am I tired of? How about a multi-billion dollar security plan, a “water-feature” that costs over $57,000, security measure practice runs that clog up traffic, shall I go on? Why don’t I just not…. anyway, I’m just glad to have this time to be with family and r-e-l-a-x. I am bummed to miss yet another family reunion that my mother’s side has every summer but I figure I will see everyone next Spring.

So, here we are – we flew out of Buffalo Intl. into Chicago yesterday. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Chicago. When I would think of Chicago in the past, I thought of a grey city with grey buildings, grey weather and the mob in the old days. What I have seen is a beautiful city with great outdoor public spaces, well planned roads, a fabulous waterfront, endless opportunities for culture – museums, planetariums, aquarium, festivals – check, check, check and check, a passionate home crowd for their many sports teams, I could just go on. I have yet to explore the shopping though we did drive down Michigan Avenue with many designer stores where I am convinced they would charge to breathe. If Rigden had been older and able to stay home with a movie or better yet, able to accompany us, I would love to check out the blues and jazz scene. I have to say, I *heart* Chicago! I just wish we had more days to check out this fair city. I guess we’ll just have to make it back for another trip. Maybe I can then visit the shrine of the Mighty Opes – Harpo Studios or is that Harpo City? Next up, cottage country Minnesota style followed by a few days in Minneapolis. Woo Hoo!

In other news, guess who decided to start walking two days before we hit the road? That’s right, WALKING! Little r decided one fine day that he had just about had it with crawling and it wasn’t cutting it so he did the “little frankenstien” over to me – you know how it goes, arms straight out, balance slightly off, coming straight at you – so CUTE! It’s amazing how much better he’s already gotten at walking. He’s already steadier and favours walking over crawling. He’s fallen down so many times and even cut his knee in his endeavours but he keep charging forward. My little conquering hero – defying gravity every day. More little miracles to come – Happy Fathers day to Tsampapapa!

On friends

As those of you following my blog know, one of my resolutions for happiness has been to make more of an effort to keep in touch with friends – something that I found less and less time to do since having baby and if I am honest, since being in a committed relationship. Two people just have more to do than one person does. Add to that the complexity of organizing two lives (and now plus one more) and anything that isn’t a burning priority tends to fall to the wayside. I decided that making time to nurture these valuable relationships was very important for my happiness and well-being as they also define a part of who I am. I am more than a wife and a mother. I am also a daughter, a friend, a sister to many. So, that’s how our monthly Sunday Afternoon Teas were born.

After many days of anticipation, Sunday finally arrived. It was grey, soggy and slightly chilly -in other words, perfect for an indoor afternoon tea. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was excited. Last weekend, the Leslieville Stomp, a fantastic annual event in my neighbourhood consisting on multiple street sales and store sales, took place and one of the highlights for me was the set sale for Anna Olson’s “Fresh” TV show. While I couldn’t purchase the platters, bowls, plates, etc. (they just don’t go with my other crockery – though how I resisted, I still don’t know!), I did get a killer deal on some hot pink napkins, some white napkins, some pillar candle holders, a sugar pot and a hurricane – total damage: $6.35! I purchased a brand new, white double sheet, a creamer and a sugar pot from my local Value Village. I also splurged (though if they were under $15, does it still count as a TOTAL splurge?) on some beautiful aqua placemats with a sort of white trellis-like pattern. Happily, the peonies decided to bloom this very weekend so flowers – check! 3 blooms graced our table in my new-to-me creamer.
Friday night, the Christmas-y decorations (stop laughing… seriously!) finally went into the basement. Instead the hurricane is now on one side of our mantlepiece – filled a third of the way with white sand and sea shells laid on top – flanked to one side with a white taper in a crystal candlestick for some sparkle. On the other side, two pillar candles on the new stands with another crystal candle stick. This looks so much better than the out of season stuff but it still feels like it needs more. Most likely, this is due to the scale of the mirror attached to the top of the fireplace that T will not allow me to remove. It reflects a lot of light and does make the space seem more spacious but it’s just so 80’s without the frame and just way too huge for where it is!

On Saturday night, I baked some cranberry scones. The next afternoon, I laid out the table and decided to use the good stuff – nice china cups and plates, even a charger. Lemon was sliced, Earl Grey tea was set out in my new-to-me sugar pot from V-Squared and honey to accompany it. I laid out fig preserves, red pepper jelly with mango (graciously given to me by my uber-creative friend Andrea) and sweet butter cubes to complement the scones. And what is afternoon tea without tea sandwiches? We had cucumber cream cheese and salami pesto.
Karma couldn’t make it due to a last minute trip to New York City but Dolma and Tendon were right on time and came bearing goodies for little r (a sweet little toy tree frog) and for us. A pair of delicious spinach pies were popped into the oven to heat and the most decadent Chai flavoured ice-cream (how perfect was that for a tea party) was put into the freezer to be enjoyed with the movie they brought.

After a leisurely tea followed by a short stint on the deck (the sun peeked out at this point and it was perfect – cool but sunny), we spooned our ice-cream into little bowls and headed to the family room to watch “The September Issue”, a documentary about Vogue’s September Issue but really it was all about Anna Wintour. Talk about an alternate reality!

A wonderful afternoon was capped up by and interesting discussion of our jobs. It’s amazing to me that all my friends from the old days who are in Toronto have one way or the other found their way into the not-for-profit sector. Great minds think alike, I suppose. It occurs to me that I have known these women from the time we were all in diapers, literally. Dolma is a week younger than I am and Tendon a year. We are relatives (I was going to say cousins but that whole twice-removed vs. third-cousins thing always stumps me). Karma and I have known each other since we both showed up in 1983 to grade 1B. I cannot imagine a childhood where I didn’t know them. We drifted apart as we grew up but came together again and it was as if no time had passed at all. We are all independent women with a point of view and not afraid to voice them. We all have our own lives but there for each other. Dolma has been to the Phillipines and India to do development work, Tendon has been the editor-in-chief of a youth magazine in Nepal and Karma has managed an entire carpet factory before becoming a pretty darn indespensible part of her organization. And this just their professional lives. In addition to all of this, they are good, kind, compassionate, warm, funny women and I am so privledged to call these amazing women friends.

C is for… CAKE apparently

After a long hiatus brought on by just not having an iota of energy left to blog (little r has been ill…. again. sigh!), I return to the blogosphere with renewed commitment. While I will spare you the details of what was wrong and what pursued (ear infection double-whammy, numerous trips to the doctor + ENT specialist), I will say that little r has been a trouper and is now back to his happy, cheerful, funny little self and we have a couple of milestones to celebtrate. The first as mentioned in the title is the learning of a new word (though to be fair, he seems to remember and forget this one at will) – CAKE. I love that his C word is cake. It just seems right that this child of mine should embrace cake early in life 🙂
Next milestone: just this last Saturday, little r (wait for it….) walked his first steps! Hurrah! Maybe this means dirty knees and endless worrying about him sticking dirty hands into his mouth are at an end… then again, maybe not. Maybe the dirty knees and clothes and hands are just the modus operandi of a little boy.
Last week was bumper week in much-needed me-time for mama. After over 2 years (yes, you read correctly) of having it in my hot little hands, I finally used the gift certificate to Stillwater spa. This was the exact antidote to my recent spate of stressful days. A massage, a leisurely dip in the jacuzzi, detoxing in the steamroom, a cup of Earl Grey and biscotti and a time to actually peruse a magazine at leisure. Ahhhh! I need to make a habit of this for sure! Then on Friday evening, a few friends met for some drinks and nibblies after which two out of four of us went to watch Sex and the City 2. Now while the movie wasn’t exactly life-altering, it was such fun! Like meeting old friends but with way cooler shoes than your own… and way richer – I mean, who can afford to have an apartment in Manhattan sit empty for days when you need an escape? But I digress. Reality is not an option when you sit down with Carrie and the girls. More than the clothes or shoes in this movie, I was salivating over the interiors that they showed! The richness, colours and sheer over the top opulence of the interiors were fantastic.
Okay, I admit it. I do have home decor on the mind. It all started in February when I sent T a link to this amazing and cheap facelift of a fireplace that I found on the blog, the Lettered Cottage. Hmm… he said, let’s see. I have also been hankering after a new coat of paint in the living/dining area and kitchen. The colour of choice, a nice grey. Amazingly, T seemed open to the idea. So maybe, just maybe, this might actually happen! Plus, now, I’m obsessed with roman blinds and want to do two for the living/dining and one for the bathroom. And the blogosphere is not helping! So many inspiring ladies with amazing projects that they pulled off for what seems like pennies. Must – give – home – facelift – NOW! More to come on this.
I have also been thinking about the afternoon tea that I posted about a little while ago. It’s this Sunday! The options are endless but I think I am going to settle on something savoury and something sweet and leave the other options for future tea parties. I am an endless planner and ditherer when it comes to menus. I love it. It’s half the fun if you ask me! My issue is what was neatly termed by a colleague of mine as “analysis paralysis”, something I suffer from in other facets of my life as well. I like perusing all the options and knowing as much as possible before making a decision. This makes T crazy, especially in restaurants when I spend forever mulling over the menu 🙂 For this weekend’s party, I am trying not to go overboard. I want to do scones because they are so traditional to a tea party but I am also tempted to do carrot cake. Then for the savoury, it’s between these two tea sandwiches: salami with herbed mayo (zingy) or cucumber with cream cheese (traditional). Also, something else that I tried on little r and is quite delicious is cream cheese and sliced strawberry sandwiches! They are good… trust. Any thoughts? Help me decide!

It never ceases to amaze me how children learn, develop and grow and the rate at which they do all of the above. Little r has just learnt a few new words: Apple + Book. Mama is convinced he is working his way through the alphabet. He was saying “apple” a few weeks ago but one morning, he just woke up and started crawling towards his books saying” book” – just like that, out of nowhere. It’s like the word fairy blessed him while he was sleeping. I love that “book” is one of his first words given how precious they are to me. He seems to know what it means too though I think he thinks “apple” is just any fruit. Also, the way he says apple is too cute – it sounds like “aeh- poh” which sounds in turn like a tibetan pola (old man) saying it. He has also learnt “homa” which means milk (but sounds like “ama” when he says it), “mum-mum” for food and “nya-nya” which means sleep. That covers all the essentials I think. Food, drink, entertainment and sleep – check. He’s set for life.

I was just thinking this weekend of some other things that make me happy. First on that list, quick wins. Things that you can get done quickly, easily and feel good about having accomplished something. Example: This week I went to Dollarama, our local dollar superstore, (shopping spree came to $16. Sweet! Something else that makes me happy. Also on the shopping spree the cutest mock-crocs in the happiest red for little r) and picked up two pieces of 3-D foam art at $1.50 each. What’s that you ask? Foam art is basically a picture on a cardboard that you stick foam sticker shapes on according to instructions and at the end of it, you have a 3D (not in the James Cameron “Avataar” way but in the layered sticker sort of way) piece of art. A kind of stick-by-numbers. Along with that, I also purchased two white frames for $1.50 each. By the end of that night, I had made 2 piece of art, all framed and ready for display. Quick Win. Happy. Love it!

I had noted on my list that family traditions make me happy. Actually, any personal traditions make me happy and on that note, a few friends and I are working on a new tradition. Monthly tea parties! My friends DT& LT came over on Sunday. I got to cook for them (first time making lo-mein and sweet corn soup to accompany it) and watch them enjoy it. Then later on, we went for a long walk in Leslieville, ducking into shops, browsing, laughing at somethings, marvelling at others and convincing each other about the absolute need to buy some of the things. (LT, if you are reading this, I need to see you in that dress, my friend!) On the way, we picked up some goodies (cupcakes from Sweet Bliss and vegan carrot cake from Pulp Kitchen) and headed back to my place to have them as the cafes were closing early on Sunday. Inspired, we brought out the good stuff – china quarter plates for our baked treats, china cups and saucers for our tea and all of it served at the dining table. The treats were yummy, the tea delicious and we felt fresh and rejuvinated as we enjoyed it all. Tea tasted all the better for being shared and being shared in nice china at that. The only thing missing were savoury tea sandwiches and some fresh cut flowers! This is when T had the brilliant idea of making this a monthly tradition. Yes! We decided to do this once a month, on a sunday afternoon (chores would be done and we would have the mornings to sleep in, prepare, etc.), potluck it (thereby taking the pressure off) and keeping it really small (3 of us plus one additional friend KS who also has a bebe) so it would be easier to coordinate. Now let’s see if this keeps up. I have already sent out the invite and am dreaming of goodies that I can bake for the next party!

The other tradition that T + I decided to start last year was Thanksgiving dinner at our house with friends with babies in and around little r’s age. This way, we figured little r would have a set of little ones to grow up with together and memories would be created of these Thanksgivings. I dream of the time when one of these kids would say to the others, “So, I’ll see you at r’s place. We always go there for Thanksgiving.”

We also want to create a tradition of taking a week each year to go away to a cottage on a lake somewhere and expose little r to that most Canadian of Canadian traditions, the cottage life and the outdoors. I’m just imagining this and loving it already.

What are your favourite traditions?

An ode to Lands End Canvas

I love Canada – there’s no two ways about it. I lurve CANADA. This is a country that has adopted me, supported me, allowed me to have a voice (I cast my first vote ever on November 13, 2006 and it was a big day for me) and is generally a great country to call home. What I do HATE about living here however is the ridiculous banking fees (we pay to have them borrow our money and get rich? WTF??), the lack of online shopping and the lousy customer service – this is ofcourse as someone who lived in the US for a few years and was spoiled by the availability of these things. Oh Canada!

I have now found a way around atleast the last two things. Folks, I now have new favourite online store – Lands End Canvas (http://canvas.landsend.com/). The style is J.Crew’ish but their prices are more reasonable. It’s a cooler Gap, it’s a younger Banana Republic. Their clothes are comfortable and elegant and don’t make me feel like a pre-teen poser. They ship to Canada at a reasonable rate, often offer free shipping, we can make returns at our local Sears store that have a Lands End shop and their customer service is unbelievable. Case in point – I purchased one shirt from them – a $22.99 purchase. Imagine my surprise when I receive a card – people, it was hand written! – in the mail saying Thank You, guaranteeing my purchase. I’m sold. Here’re a few selections that I heart.


See why I love them? I guess how could you not. sigh! Lands End Canvas, you had me at Thank You.

Who do you love? Let me hear it!

On Happiness

Of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness – about how to be happier and how to make those around me and those I love more happy. And then this morning, I opened up my inbox to find a forward by Uncle KN which pretty much sums it up. Here’s an excerpt:

“Happiness does not come through destiny, one has to work for it. If you give goodness, you get back goodness. One should take care of Thoughts as they make the word. Take care of words as they result in Action. Be careful about actions as they become Habits. Habits build up your Character. That determines your Destiny and hence your Life.” H.H. 14th Dalai Lama

I find that I am more impatient, more critical both of myself and others – and ironically more defensive, more stressed, more attached than I want to be or would like to think I am. I don’t see people I care about as often as I’d like. I don’t keep in touch with friends and family by phone or email as much as I’d like. I don’t even sing as much as I used to. Yikes! Time for a change.

As I see it in my anal rententive mind, there are four steps to rectifying a problem:

  1. recognition
  2. acceptance
  3. solutions
  4. maintaining the changes

Two down – two to go.

I also started to think about what makes me happy. Here’re a few:

  • Tea in bed
  • Warm pajamas from the dryer
  • Curling up with a good book and a cup of tea on a cold, wet day (what is it about those days that beg for a good book?)
  • After a long winter, stepping out of the house without a down jacket, hat, gloves & scarf for the first time
  • Fresh flowers – orange tulips if I were being fussy
  • A good chocolate cake and cold milk
  • A good laugh over the past with friends/family
  • Watching people enjoy something I made/did for them – food, crafts, birthday cakes etc.
  • Family traditions
  • Starting and finishing a project (it’s the middle part that’s hard)
  • Singing with a group and playing guitar to some nostalgic, half-remembered song
  • Not having to be the responsible/sensible one
  • Little r

What makes you happy?

Daycares = germ pits?

These last few days have been hell. Little r finished on Monday the Amoxicillin course that he was prescribed and was recovering nicely when BAM!! out of no where we get side-swiped by round 2. Tuesday morning I notice that he has some sort of rash on his face and his We get a call from the daycare saying that he has a fever and that we should get him asap. Tuesday passes as we worry – the nights are the worst. Little r wants only his mummy and Daddy has to be just happy to pace and worry while not being allowed to even soothe baby. Wednesday we have to schedule an emergency trip to the hospital. The verdict is he has a delayed reaction to penicillin. Plus, he may have an ear infection. Follow up in two days. Great – he does have a reaction to penicillin, now he may also have a throat infection. Jeez!
Monday, we have to go back for yet another follow up visit. Little r has now been fever free for 3 days. Maybe he’ll get a clean bill of health? Fingers crossed. In the meanwhile, the search for a nanny has begun. My boy is not suited for daycare it seems…. sigh!