Imaginary Friends

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.

Rock climbing at Pump-It-Up

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.

First Scooter Ride

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.

Pumpkin Patch

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?

My Nightingale

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.

Fourth Year Well Checkup

Finally Ruchi had her fourth year well checkup, almost a month after her birthday. As always she was very excited to go to the doctor’s office. Poor baby had no idea that she was going to get three shots today. At 41 inches and 35 pounds, the doctor said that she was growing very nicely. After a couple of routine tests, the doctor asked Ruchi a few questions, to which ,Ruchi was more than happy to answer, though she was a little shy than usual (she hates it when she has to sit undressed in just a dressing gown, during checkup). At the end of the checkup, the doctor suggested a few things that I should start doing, now that Ruchi is four, and then she left. When the doctor left, Ruchi was happy that we were done, and was getting ready to leave, when I told her that we had to wait for the nurse. My poor baby’s expression changed, when she saw the nurse walk in with a tray of needles. She held me tightly while the nurse gave her the shots. I really hate these well visits, just for this one reason. The look in their sad eyes, asking why we are inflicting this pain on them is unbearable. Thankfully, this lasts only for a few minutes. We were asked to hang around for ten more minutes, just in case she has a reaction to any of the medicine. Once we got home, Ruchi couldn’t wait to go to school, to tell her friends about her visit and her shots.

Varsha’s Birthday Party

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.

Anay’s Birthday Party

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.

Shanu’s Birthday Party

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.

Dolphins in Santa Cruz Beach

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.