Ruchi is having the greatest fall of her life. Since the beginning of fall, her weekends have been booked, with atleast one birthday party every week. Now with her calendar booked all the way till the end of next month, I am sure it will only get better. Today is her cousin Varsha’s birthday party. For the party, Varsha’s parents hired a lady, who set up a mini petting zoo for the kids in the park. The animals included some chicken, ducks, rabbits, hamsters, a dog and a pony. Ruchi was very fascinated by the rabbits, that she spent the entire time playing with them. She had no interest in the pony rides or any of the other shows that lady put on. Today was the first time Ruchi got her face painted. She was very excited about it, and waited patiently for her turn. Her enthusiasm for face-painting however, did not last more that a few seconds. She wanted me to clean her face immediately. Overall she had a great time and it was wonderful to meet Praveen’s pinni and chinnanana garu before they left for Vegas.
Today was Ruchi’s friend Anay’s birthday. Ruchi was very excited all day, since she was invited for his birthday party, at his house after school. When we reached Anay’s house, Ruchi’s face lit up, as soon as she saw the small pool and other water activities set up in their backyard. All the kids rushed to change into their swimwear, and soon after ran to the backyard to start the party. The kids had a marvelous time, splashing and spraying. They did not let the slight wind chill bother them. After what felt like eternity for us, and minutes for the kids, we had a hard time trying to get them away from the water to start the other birthday games. In the end we ended up just playing pin the tail on the donkey. But that didn’t mater, since all the kids had a fun time playing with all the extra toys they got as goodies. With all the playing, the kids worked up a nice appetite, and gobbled up the pizza at dinner time. And the lovely ice-cream cake made for a wonderful dessert.
Another birthday party, another new place for Ruchi to meet friends and play. This time the party is to celebrate Shanu turning three and the place is Kids Castle. Having been to the Kids Castle a couple of times, Ruchi took off with her friend Siddhu as soon as the party started. She had a great time going down slides, playing the arcade games and going on rides. Since the cake cutting and dinner wasn’t for another couple of hours, the kids played to their hearts content and worked up an appetite. Ruchi usually never eats at parties, because she is so busy playing, but this time she was so hungry that she happily ate her slice of pizza, cake and ice-cream. Shanu looked very cute as always. It was a wonderful party, with the only downside being, that Ruchi broke both her bracelets, that we had bought for her while we were on the cruise. She had lost them, and poor Praveen and to go up the jungle gym, looking for them. Luckily we found both pieces.
Despite his busy schedule, Praveen took some time out, to take us to the beach today. He wanted to make it before the cold sets in, and before we complain that he hasn’t taken us to the beach this year. I am so glad we went today, because it was one of the best beach trips we had. The weather was great, not too hot and not too cold. This time instead of going to the boardwalk, we went to Seabright beach which was a little away from the boardwalk. It was the perfect spot, since it was not too crowded. Ruchi had a great time playing in the water, though the rest of us were freezing. Pacific waters are always cold. She was so unafraid of the water, that she would just run towards the waves, every chance she got. She and Siddhu had fun building sand castles and other cool things. Later, Praveen found a big log of wood, and the kids had fun hanging on to it, and trying to limbo. The best part of the trip was when we saw dolphins swimming close to the beach a couple of times. They were so close and around four of them each time. Another interesting thing we saw was a sea lion lazing in the water, letting the current take it to and from the beach.
Ruchi’s coolest gift this has to be the one she got from her Shanu babai and Sam pinni. And that is the telescope. With Ruchi’s love for planets and every thing astronomy, she couldn’t have asked for a better gift. Though the telescope arrived on time for her to view the supernova, we could not view it due to Praveen’s busy schedule. Our close proximity to the airport and the Great America theme park, make it impossible to see starts from our backyard. So if we have to get a view of anything in the night sky besides the moon, we have to go away from all the city lights. But that did not discourage us. We took pleasure in viewing the beautiful moon and its craters. But what we realized is that the moon is way too bright these days. Eagerly waiting for days when it is less bright, and for Praveen’s schedule to ease up, so we can go check out the stars and planets, one of these days.
With one party behind, Ruchi eagerly waited for another important party – the one at school. She has been waiting fro this ever since she joined school. She wanted to be the one to whom the rest of the class sang Happy Birthday to and more importantly be the one to wear the crown. She was sad last year when school ended, that she never got to wear the crown even one. And now she gets to do it. She is the very first one to celebrate her birthday since school opened. So she was feeling very special. When I went with some snacks for the kids during recess, she was overjoyed. I helped set up the snacks while the kids washed up, and she loved it when the children started whispering, that is Ruchi’s mom, its her birthday. It was wonderful to witness her joy when her teacher gave her the special birthday crown, and all the kids started to sing. After our little celebration, I left her to get back to her school activities. When I went to pick her up later when school was out, she couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful day she had.
When I think of four years as an age, it doesn’t seem like much, but when I think of all that has happened since Ruchi was born, all I can say is, Wow! I don’t think I have met as many people, or made as many friends, or lived in as many states, or visited as many places as she did till late into my twenties. We are very proud of the little girl she has grown into. So to celebrate this special birthday of leaving the toddler days behind to enter into her new phase in life, we had a party for her at one of her favorite places – Super Franks. Since she is currently a huge fan of the Little Mermaid, we ordered a mermaid themed cake and booked the Fish Tank room in Super Franks for her. She was super excited from the moment she woke up, knowing it was her birthday. That excitement quadrupled, once we got to the party hall and her friends started pouring in. She and all her friends had a blast at the party. It was great for us grown ups to relax and catchup while she played with her friends. She even skipped dinner at the party, sparing us only a few minutes to cut the cake. The rest of the time she was off playing with her friends. This was great since she worked up an appetite and had a good meal once she got home. As soon as we got home, she turned to us and said, “That was a great party. Next year, when I turn five, I want a Spider man cake and party”. We could see how different this birthday was from last year. She couldn’t wait to get home to unwrap her presents.
With Ruchi turning four, and the Ringling Bros in town, it was a given that we were going to take her to see her first circus show. We were lucky to get third row seats, right in the middle of the arena. The last time I remember going to a circus was around twenty-five years ago. So we were all very excited about it. When we arrived at the circus, we were a little embarrass when we saw animal rights group handing out fliers regarding cruelty to animals in a circus. We went in anyway, and the show took off with a big bang. Though some parts of the show were boring, most of it was pretty entertaining and Ruchi and her fried Siddhu enjoyed it very much. The best part was since the first two rows in front of us had bough the celebrity package, they were taken to the middle of the circus arena to sit and watch the performances up-close. Which meant we had a perfect view of the show with no obstructions. It was however impossible to ignore the pain the animals were going through whenever the ring master raised his whip, especially for the tigers. So though the show was good, we were all saddened by the treatment of the animals. We also realized that a circus can put up a great show, without having to use any animals. So we decided never to go to a circus that uses animals for its acts.
While we were visiting my sister in Boise, Praveen was busy shopping for some gifts for Ruchi for her upcoming birthday. The coolest of it all was a five foot cardboard house. It was so big, that Ruchi could literally stand or sleep in it without have to bend, to fit in. The house was blank and needed to be colored or painted. So today, we decided it was time to add some color to the house that Ruchi loved playing in so much. Since I did not want to mess up the carpet in the living room, we decided to color the house with crayons, instead of paints. Ruchi had fun chosing different colors for each section of the house. When we were tired, we decided to take a break from coloring and decorate the ceiling of the house with florescent stars and planet stickers. It was so cool playing in the house with her. We used a flashlight for some light and then turn it off to watch the stickers glow. By the end of the day the house was one-fourth done. Wonder when we will be done coloring it. Now Ruchi can’t wait to show off her new house to all her friends.
This must be the longest day in Ruchi’s life. Last night when I noticed various posts on Facebook, from friends who were celebrating the festival on Wednesday, I got curious and started browsing and calling friends to find out if there was a reason as to why everyone in US was celebrating the festival one day early. Late at night a friend of mine called to inform me that the muhurtham for the festival was such that we had to perform the puja by 10:00 am. Which meant, I had to wake up early to prepare for the puja. With Praveen out of town, I had to do everything myself, and the worse part was Ruchi woke up early too. I was up at four and Ruchi at five. She insisted on staying with me for the puja. It was literally a race against time. But thankfully Ruchi’s presence wasn’t much of a hindrance and we were done just in time. In the end it was all worth it. It was heartwarming watching dressed up in her new dress assisting me in my Puja. Later when it was time for her to school, I asked her if she wanted to skip school, since she was up so early, and she replied, “no I love school, I want to go tell my friends about the puja”. I was surprised to see that even after school, Ruchi did not seem tired at all. She played with her dad, who was back from DC in the afternoon, and went to bed at her regular bedtime.