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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who says Ruchi and I are lonely when Praveen is out of time. At least that’s what Ruchi says. Last week when Praveen was in SFO all week, Ruchi decided to introduce me to her friends. They were Ariel and Eric (from The Little Mermaid). When I asked her what they were doing in our house, she replied “There was a huge earthquake in Atlantica, which resulted in a tsunami. After the tsunami, Ariel and Eric’s castle sank into the ocean and they did not have a place to stay, so I told them, that they could stay with us. So now they are living in our house”. For the most part she kept playing with her imaginary friends, sharing toys, telling them stories, etc. Ariel even accompanied her in her bath, with Ruchi often declaring that Ariel was lost in the soap bubble. At times she would go into the closet in the guestroom, close the door and stay there with a tiny flashlight, talking to herself. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied that she was having a secret meting with Ariel and Eric. We have two big walk-in closets, but she feels they are too big for a secret meeting, so she prefers, the tiny wall closet in the guest room. Strange how kids think. And most importantly, now with others around, anything wrong in the house is Eric’s fault. The first few days, poor Eric got blamed for everything. After a long talk, explaining why it was wrong to blame others, for something she has done, she finally came to terms with the fact that there is no escape, when she is at fault. I wondered if her friends would hang around, once Praveen came back. Needless to say, they disappeared over the weekend and now pay visits only when dad is out of the house.
Yesterday, Pranathi celebrated her fifth birthday party at Pump-It-Up in Milpitas. Unlike the other Pump-it-up locations, this one had a a rock climbing wall. Ruchi was very excited when she saw it, but seeing the big lines for the wall, decided to make better use of her time, by playing on the slides (which she couldn’t get enough of). When the lines finally got shorter, she stood for her turn, wanting to give rock-climbing a try. She must have been the youngest in the group trying to climb the wall, and she was not at all intimidated by the high wall. With a little help from her dad, she made it up to three-quarters of the wall. After feeling rejected on the cruise (minimum age for such walls is usually six years), she was very pleased that she finally got to climb the wall.
After numerous requests from Ruchi for almost a year, we decided that it was finally time for her to have her own scooter. So, after her birthday, we bought her the cutest looking Radio-flyer scooter. When we gave it to her, she instantly fell in love with. She loved the fact that she could personalize it to her liking. She stuck her name and a few stickers, and was ready to take off. Sadly the weather was not on her side. It was wet the whole week, and finally when the weather got better, I got busy, and did not find time to take her out to ride the scooter. With his Innovate conference done, Praveen was free today. So he took out his old scooter from the garage, and father and daughter had a great time riding their scooters. Ruchi was so excited to have some company. She was off to a good start, but has a long way to go, before she can balance herself on the scooter. But nevertheless, she was riding to her hearts content. In the end, when she was tired, she went for a spin on her Dad’s scooter.
Its fall! Which means time for pumpkins and costumes. With just two weeks left for Halloween, we decided it was about time we paid a visit to the pumpkin patch. Like last year, we decided to go to the one in Ardenwood Historical Farms. We missed the train ride last year, so we wanted to do it this time. Ruchi was very excited when she heard Siddhu will be joining us. That kids had a blast at the patch. The weather was perfect, so they had a great time soaking in the sun, while deciding which pumpkin they wanted to take home. The setup was almost the same as it was last year, but that did not dampen our spirits. The kids were in fact excited to see it again. They ran up and down the hay pyramid a couple of times, before getting lost in the maze. We found out that the train ride was after dark, and it was going to be a haunted rail ride. So we went back to Siddhu’s place and came back at 7:30. The kids were very excited to be out in the dark. They bought a couple of glow-sticks to light the way, waited patiently for the train to arrive. Once the ride started, it was fun watching the kids excitement, every time we came across the scary props that were set up on either side of the track. Ruchi’s favorite was the witch cooking frogs, lizards and rats, and the scary looking bride looking for her groom. The ride was very much for the kids, and they had a wonderful time, going on the train in the dark and seeing all the creepy things. After we got off, Ruchi wanted to know why people were screaming so much, (obviously she wasn’t frightened) and why did the ghosts have no legs and what were they doing in the trees?
I am not sure if this is the beginning of something big, or just one of those developmental phase, but of lately Ruchi has taken to singing big time. Not only does she come back from school, singing a new song she had learned that day, but she also seems to memorize songs that she had listened to just once. Yesterday, I was browsing through some old audio files and played her the song “Somewhere over the rainbow” sung by Judy Garland. She heard it just once, but after a few minutes, I heard her humming the tune while playing with her doll, when I asked her what she was singing, she sang the first few lines of the some with almost all the right words. Of course she doesn’t do it for all songs. It seems like only some songs fascinate her. The biggest surprise was when she came across Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera” while watching “The man who knew too much” one afternoon. Ever since then, she has been singing that song, and surprisingly she can sing the whole song, all four verses (even I did not know the words, until I heard her sing it). She does jumble up a couple of words here and there, but I am still surprised at how well she memorized a whole song after listening to it just a couple of times. While her choice of English songs are almost the same, her Hindi songs are a whole different story. Her two favorite Hindi songs are “Yeh raaten yeh mausam” from Dilli ka thug and “Sheila ki Jawani” from Tees maar khan. The best part with this new found love for music is, I love it when she makes up her own songs. Sometimes our conversations end up with us singing to each other.