First Solo Live Performance

Another day to add to our list of memories!! And what a memorable day it was. Today was Millikin Talent Show, and it was Ruchi’s first live solo performance. When the school had auditions a few weeks ago, Ruchi decided to sing a song. After many changes, she decided to sing “The sun will come out tomorrow” on the day before the auditions. Since she had very little practice, I had lost all hope of her getting selected, but surprisingly, she sang very well. She did not miss a lyric or a note. Needless to say, she got selected. The only feed back we got from the judges, was to add music to her performance. After a lot of searching, I found a Karaoke music, for the restricted time limit. Sadly the beat and tempo of the song was a little different from what Ruchi was used to and she was having a hard time trying to sing with the music. WIth school and other activities and with just a week to perform, Ruchi wasn’t at her best. Anyway we decided not to force her, and just let her have fun. She was so excited today, that she came home from school, finished her homework, took a short nap and was all ready for her performance. In the auditorium, she had to sit on her own, with the other performers. She did not show any signs of being scared. When it was time for her performance, she went up on stage, and sang her heart out. I was very happy to see that she had stuck to the music. Though her performance was not as good as the audition, we were very happy and so was she. She was even more proud, when all the teachers and parents came to congratulate her, and tell her how well she sang. I was a little worried, how she would react to the bright lights, and hundreds of people watching her, but she had absolutely no stage fear. Definitely a Proud day for Praveen and me.

Half Moon Bay

After a long time, we were finally free this weekend, with no parties or prior engagements. To make the most of our free weekend, we decided to go on a drive to check out some places that we hadn’t seen before. One of the places we haven’t visited to date is Half moon bay, so we decided to check it out today. By the time we reached Half moon bay, it was lunch time, so we decided to stop for lunch. One of the places that popped up on our search of good local restaurants was White Elephant Thai restaurant. The food was good. This particular restaurant is very famous for its coconut custard, (custard cooked in a young coconut and then left in the refrigerator for some time to set). For someone who is not a fan of sweets, I have to say, this desert did not disappoint me. After lunch we went to the beach. We were surprised at how pleasant it was at the beach. We had layered up, thinking that it would be very cold. But the weather was so pleasant, that we had to remove all our jackets and sweaters. Seeing all the kids playing, Ruchi wanted to go into the water. Luckily she had a layer of tights under her pants. So we dropped our plans of driving, and ended up spending time at the beach, playing in the water and watching the beautiful waves. There were quite some surfers, in the sea, trying to ride the waves. I haven’t seen such beautiful rolling of the waves in a long time. At the end of the day, we were so happy that we went to Half moon bay. It really felt like early summer. On our way home, Ruchi kept asking if we could go back again next week.

First Bommala Koluvu

To keep up with the festivities of Sankranthi, today we decided to build a bommala koluvu. This is usually done at the beginning of the festival by the little girls of the household assisted by their mom, and is shown off to guests who visit the house. It is meant to encourage the creativity and organizational skills of the child. Sadly with a party yesterday, today was the only day we had available to do it. Well, better late than never. At first I wanted to build a traditional one, but when I saw how limited my collection of India dolls were and Ruchi’s enthusiasm to include all her collection, we decided to go big and make it into something Ruchi would love. Having just moved, we had an unlimited supply of boxes in all shapes and sizes. After building the steps and covering it with a sheet, Ruchi had a great time placing her dolls on the steps. Pretty soon we ran out of place, Ruchi was a little sad that she couldn’t fit all her dolls in the Koluvu. Overall it ended up being a pretty neat koluvu with Barbies and Princesses dominating the place. Ruchi loves her koluvu so much, that she can’t stop admiring it and resetting it every few minutes. It was so exciting putting the bommala koluvu together, that we have decided to build one at the beginning of the festival from next year. Time to start collecting some proper traditional dolls.

Christmas Tree

After much speculation we decided that us moving later in the month, should not be the reason for Ruchi not having a Christmas tree this year. So yesterday, I promised Ruchi that I would set up the tree for her in the evening. In the evening, one thing led to another and before I knew it, it was time for bed. But Ruchi, who had been patiently waiting for me to set up the tree, reminded me of my promise. So at 10:30 pm I had to go into the garage to fish out the box, with the tree. And when I got the tree inside, Ruchi was so happy, that she spent the rest of the night, helping me set it up and decorate. After almost an hour, we were finally done. Ruchi was so proud, that she had helped set up the tree, that she ran upstairs for her camera, and started taking pictures of the tree. Now she can’t wait to invite her friends over to show off her tree. Its been twenty-four hours since we set up the tree, and Ruchi must have gone to the tree a hundred times to check and see if Santa had left anything for her in her stocking and under the tree. When I told her that he wont be paying her a visit until the night of 24th., she replied to me saying that he was already on his way, and since she has a lot of friends to whose house he must visit, he was running a little late. She also asked me to tell Santa to use the front door and not the chimney, since chimney’s are not safe. She doesn’t want her Santa to get burnt 🙂

Back to School

After a week of shivering, coughing and sneezing, Ruchi was finally ready to go back to school. This is the longest Ruchi has ever been sick. But thankfully she was a very nice patient, and did not trouble me much. After a week of staying home, she was more than ready to go back to school, and was very excited when she remembered that today was the day she was supposed to dress up as a cowgirl. Initially I had planned on buying her a cowgirl outfit for today. But since we were house arrested for the past week, I never got a chance to go out shopping. So we had to make do with stuff that was in the house. We ended up using Praveen’s hat, which was not bad on Ruchi, though it was a little big. She was very excited and couldn’t wait to show it off to her teacher. At school the teacher told me that many of the kids were sick and that the class strength was at 50% since yesterday.

Halloween Celebrations

Now that she is a four year old, and going to school, Ruchi is very much aware of what is Halloween and how it is celebrated. She had decided a month ago, she was going to be a princess like Ariel, for Halloween. I bought a couple of costumes, hoping to persuade her to change her mind. I didn’t want her to be a princess like more than half the kids her age. But she did not budge from her decision. On Halloween day, she was super-excited that she could finally dress up like a princess to school. At 2:15 Praveen and I went to her school, to watch their Halloween costume parade and concert. All the kids looked adorable in their costumes, and Ruchi’s face lit up when she saw us in the crowd. At the after party, all the kids had fun eating and talking excitedly, while their parents clicked pictures. Later in the evening, Shreyas, came over to our place, and we all went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Ruchi being the only one old enough to ring doorbells, had a great time. When we were done, Ruchi couldn’t wait to get back home to check out her collection. It was so sad too see her excitement, but not able to enjoy any of the goodies. She opened up around ten candies one after another, gave them a lick and then threw them in the trash. I literally had to hide the rest of the candies, because I knew she would keep doing it till she ran out of candies, hoping to find at least one that she might like. But I know that is an impossible thing, because she hates anything that tastes sweet. On the whole, with Siddhu’s Halloween party last night and today’s celebration at school, it turned out to be a very memorable Halloween this year.

Ruchi’s Fourth Diwali

Having celebrated Diwali in India last year, I thought Ruchi might have a disappointing Diwali this time. After all what is Diwali without Fire crackers (sparklers)? So to make her feel special, I decided to dress her up traditionally all day. When I asked her which of her outfits she wanted to wear, she chose the dress she wore last Diwali. For her that dress meant Diwali, so I let her wear it to school. She felt very proud and special. At school they got to learn a little more about Diwali, and they even made Diyas (oil lamps) during art class. After school when I went to pick up Ruchi, my friend Geeta informed me that a certain store was selling sparklers. I was so excited, that we stopped at the store and picked up five packs. As soon as Ruchi saw the packs, she remembered all the things she did last year, and couldn’t wait for it to get dark, so she could light her sparklers. As soon as we reached home, we started preparing for the evening puja. First we cleaned our yard and made colourful rangolis. Ruchi was very happy to play with a variety of colors. I let her make one rangoli all on her own, while I took care of the other two. After we were done, we washed up and changed into our new clothes, and then started preparing the prasad, while we got the Diyas ready. Since we told Ruchi she couldn’t light the diyas until sunset, she spent the next half an hour, asking if it was dark enough to light them. Finally when it was time, she was very excited to watch the room fill up with light while her dad lit one lamp at a time. Then after the puja, and a small prayer, we went from room to room showing the light to every corner. By now Ruchi was ready at the back door with her sparklers. We had to ask her to wait till we set the lamps all over the house, and front door. At last it was time to set the lamps on the rangolis, which meant time to light the sparklers. Ruchi had a marvelous time lighting one sparkler after another. Finally it felt like celebrating Diwali back home. And oh last but not the least, Ruchi got the full Diwali experience when she burnt her finger, when she touched the end of her sparkler that failed to light up. Poor thing, now she knows that if you put something on the fire, it heats up even if it doesn’t light up. Thankfully it was a very light burn, she did not let it stop her from enjoying the rest of the evening.

First Swimming Lesson

After many days of flirting with the idea of enrolling Ruchi in a swim class, I finally took the leap and enrolled her at the Santa Clara International Swim Center. Today was her first official class. Ever since Ruchi played in the pool during summer, she was craving to get back into the pool to learn some actual swimming. So when I told her that I had enrolled her in swim lessons, she was eagerly waiting for her first class. She was very happy that her friend Anay was going to be in her class. So soon after school, I picked her up and brought her to the pool, where her coach Hector was waiting for them. Ruchi was very excited and took to the water immediately. She hung on to her float and did everything the coach asked her to do. She even enjoyed being dipped into the water a couple of times, by her coach. I loved the creative methods the coach used to get the kids comfortable in water. By the end of the session, I was very impressed when Ruchi swam a small distance without any floats. It was a very short distance, but her confidence to willing to do it without floats on the first day amazed me. The only thing I noticed she wasn’t comfortable with, was float on her back. The uncertainty of not being able to see where she was going, seemed to scare her, even though her coach was holding her. Hopefully she will get over that fear soon.

Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton

After a relaxed day, home cooked goodies and a late night movie, we decided to continue our seven year anniversary by going to place we haven’t gone to before. Our first thought was to go to Gilroy Gardens, but when we realized that the park closes by five, we decided to go somewhere close by this time. So after a great meal at DishDash, we set out to check out Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. Praveen has been promising to take us there for almost a year, so we decided today was going to be the day. The drive up to the mountain was as exciting as the place itself. We had to cross quite a few hills before we reached Mount Hamilton. The drive was so thrilling, with narrow roads, and sharp curves and deep valleys, all through the drive, that Ruchi was holding on to her seat tightly asking her dad to drive very carefully. Praveen had a great time driving, While Ruchi and I held on tightly while we checked out the beautiful views. This was Ruchi’s first trip to the observatory, and she was very excited to see the pictures displaying astronomical wonders and the Television screens playing videos of all the beautiful things in the Universe. She was very excited to see the 36 inch telescope in one of the observatories. Since it resembled the telescope she has at home, she could relate to it. Sadly the 3m-Shane (120 inch) telescope, the second biggest in the world, did not have the same effect on her. I guess the fact that it did not look like a traditional telescope had something to do with it. Besides telescope, we also got a great view of eagles flying close by, and saw a bunch of squirrels, cattle and even a couple of foxes on our drive. Overall it was definitely a trip worth taking, and looking at Ruchi’s enthusiasm, I think its time we took her to a planetarium.

Personalized Blankets

After repeated requests from Ruchi, I finally caved in and bought her an Ariel and a Tinker-Bell blanket in two of her favorite colors, pink and violet (all thanks to a gift card she got from a friend for her birthday). The blankets were ordered online and we received them today. As soon as Ruchi saw her blankets, she jumped with joy. She loved them so much that she insisted on sleeping with both of them at night. She used the Tinkerbell blanket as a bedspread and the Ariel blanket as cover. To make them extra special, I got them personalized with her name on it. I am so glad I spent those extra bucks on personalization, because she is so proud, to see her name on the blankets. Now she wants to invite her friends over, so she can show off her very own blankets.