Monday, July 26, 2010

Huge Milestone!

As alluded to in my previous post, Avinash is a man of few words. Well, he added a new one to the list. Poo poo, ha!

He was sitting at the dinner table on Saturday and at the end of the meal, proudly announced 'poo poo'! Well it sounded more like boo poo actually.

So, Ryan got him down and after a minor distraction by the sight of his stroller, Avinash made his way to the bathroom. Where he did the deed.

I told my parents about it and I think they were even more overjoyed than we were. Hopefully this means that the end is in sight. Some sort of understanding has started to take place. When he needs to go and what he needs to tell us when he does. He has repeated this several times since then, but then he will also go without telling us. But we are working on it.

If anyone has any great potty training tips, please send them my way! I don't think the bootcamp in one weekend approach is going to work for us, but other than that.

5 weeks and counting...

We have been trying for months. I was starting to doubt myself as an Indian woman. I counted obsessively at first. And tests. Lots of tests. But not this month. I don't know how as soon as I was late that I didn't run and take a test this month. I didn't. We were traveling all over the east coast.

The day after we got back was a Friday. Ryan invited some friends over to watch a Hindi movie, Fanaa. After a quick trip to my favorite store Central Market, I made Avocado Gazpacho. Avocado gazpacho is an old favorite of ours and I usually make it every summer, especially for dinner parties. I started feeling really bad about how much fat must be in one bowl of it, so I decided to forgo the usual spice buttered croutons. For protein, I decided to make roasted chickpeas and paneer instead.

Raj's wife got sick, so it ended up just being the three of us. Dinner turned out well, which is good since most of my attempts to cook for guests have been below average lately. The chickpeas were great, but I couldn't eat much soup because it felt too heavy.

During the movie I started to feel a little off. Queasy. Suddenly I had to know. Luckily my bathroom was still stocked with tests. I ran into the bathroom. Almost instantly the result came back. I love how the positive line comes up before the test control line. I had to control my excitement and try not to squeal. I tiptoed back in the living room and tried to get Ryan's attention.

I was never one for keeping a secret.

I know some people plan a big reveal and a special way to tell their husband the news. I just brought him into the bathroom and gestured vaguely towards the test. I couldn't speak. Didn't know what to say I was so overcome. I think I was actually holding my hand over my mouth. Ryan just blurted out, 'You're pregnant! That's so exciting' and gave me a huge hug.

Going back to the living room and trying to stay calm was difficult to say the least. I probably could have picked a better moment but oh well.

Doctor's don't usually schedule the first pre-natal visit until around 8 weeks, so we definitely have a lot of time before we know anything more. I want to tell everyone I know, but I am waiting right now. I even talked to my Mom twice since I found out and haven't told her yet. I know I'm going to break down soon, but it is such a hard thing to blurt out over the phone.

Ryan is so cute, he keeps asking Avinash if he wants a new baby. And in our family votes, on things like what to have for dinner, he now counts the new baby and always makes it side with me (ha!). Ryan also said that we should maybe find out the gender so we can buy holiday dresses from Janie and Jack this December. Love that he is thinking about the wardrobe too.

So, I am only five weeks or so now. I am theoretically due at the end of March. I'm not sure if this will affect our trip to India in early February or not. There are so many other questions and unknowns right now. I am going to try to live in the moment, trust in God to take care of our family and be happy right now.


Avocado Gazpacho Recipe

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup vegetabl
  • 1/2-cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional, for garnish
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced (including green tops)
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • Salt

Make spiced croutons up to 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container.
In a blender, puree cucumbers, lime juice, 1/2 cup broth, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, jalapeno, green onions, and 1 of the avocadoes, diced. Season, to taste, with salt. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until next day.
To serve, thin gazpacho with additional broth if desired. Dice remaining avocado finely and add to gazpacho base. Pour into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves and croutons.
  • Spiced Croutons
  • 1/2 loaf (8 ounces) crusty bread
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Cut bread into small cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Toast in oven until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Melt butter and stir in ground chile powder, salt, ground cumin, thyme, and pepper to taste. Pour over bread cubes and toss to coat. Return to oven and toast 5 minutes more.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two new recipes + two new words

Well, more than a year and a half later I am still trying to lose all of my baby weight. I had some momentum going but the California trip definitely set me back. Eating in most nights is one thing that helps. I tend to over-buy at the grocery store, but when you compare it to the cost of take out we still come out ahead. Probably not sound financial reasoning, but it's better than nothing. Even though the meals I cook don't always turn out that well. I can always tell when a dish falls flat because our little gourmand will refuse to touch it. Then again, he did try to put dog food in his mouth the other day, ha.

Ok, here are two really great recipes that I made recently.

Pan-fried paneer with cucumber-grape Pulav
The first is Indian, but not as heavy as traditional food. Start the pulav first and finish chopping up the vegetables before starting the paneer. You could use almost any mix of grains here, but I like adding quinoa for the protein.

Pulav ingredients:
1/2 c brown basmati rice
1/2 c quoina
1/4 c red sticky rice
generous handful of curry leaves
1 clove garlic, softened
1 small green chili, whole
For garnish, bunch of cilantro chopped, 1/2 cucumber deseeded and diced and 1/2 c grapes halved

Place everything except the garnishes in 2 1/2 c of boiling water until cooked through. Season with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Remove the green chili. Combine with the garnishes and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp mustard oil. Add more salt to taste.

***I make this in a rice cooker, just add all the ingredients and push the button.  Mine only has two settings, on and warming.  I just hit the on button and it automatically switches over to warming.  This can easily be done in a crock pot as well, just add the cucumber, cilantro and grapes after it is done.***

Paneer ingredients:
large handful of curry pathe
sprinkle of ginger powder, haldi, hing, mustard seeds and paneer tikka masala
pinch of sea salt to taste
1 small onion, cut in thin slices
1/2 green chili, sliced
1 clove garlic, diced
about 1 cup paneer, cut in 1/4 inch slices
2 tbsps oil and 1 tsp ghee

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet and add the curry leaves so they get nice and crispy. Then combine the rest of the ingredients, allowing the onions and garlic to soften before adding the paneer. Place the paneer in one layer, allowing it brown on each side.

I served this with salted yogurt and cashews on the side. The fresh grapes are a lot better than raisins and the nuttiness of the whole grains was really livened up by the fresh garnishes. Lots of different spices could be used with the paneer but the curry leaves and mustard oil definitely take the flavor to another level and are not optional. This is a new staple for us!

Sweet Corn Fritters with Avocado Salsa and Roasted Chickpeas
Okay, the other dish is new-American and based on something I saw in Telepan's cookbook and Bill Granger's show on the Cooking Channel. I started the roasted chickpeas first, then the salsa so I could make the fritters right before eating them. Avinash thought they were pancakes and happily ate them after I put a little syrup on his.

Roasted Chickpeas:
Combine in a cast iron skillet with carrots and parsnips (cut to about half the size fo french fries), 2 cloves of garlic (diced), sprinkle of parmesan chees, olive oil to coat and sea salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven at 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Avocado Salsa
juice of 1 lime
1 avocado diced
1/2 onion diced
1 tomato sliced (I used a brigth red, wrinkly heirloom)
1 handful of parsley and cilantro each, chopped
1/2 chili, diced small

Just combine and add salt and pepper to taste with a dash of olive oil. Let the vegetables combine and the flavors will mix really well with each other in just a few minutes.

Corn Fritters:
3 ears of corn, corn kernels removed
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp baking powder
sea salt and pepper

Combine the ingredients and blend until combined, but leave a little texture of the vegetables. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and use about 2 tbsps per fritter. Brown both sides lightly and serve.

Ryan said the fritters reminded of him of latkes because of how they were cooked. The edges get a little crispy but the inside is pillowy soft. These are savory but the corn adds a hint of sweetness. The chickpeas and roasted vegetables get super crunchy and, besides adding protein, they give a great texture contrast to the salsa. We rarely eat leftovers but the batter makes more than enough for the three of us and had this meal two days in a row. The salsa and batter stay very well overnight in the fridge. These were also a lot easier to make than pea pancakes because there were no vegetables to blanch, just mix and fry!


Avinash's verbal development has been a bit slow to say the least. He has always done so well with his milestones, but is behind most other babies we know when it comes to language.

He has a great understanding of language, and can follow simple commands in hindi, english and spanish. We are usually just telling him to hand us something, sit down, give us kisses or hugs, point out his facial features or limbs (he started to say eye when he pointed to his eye, but cannot name any other features), tickle us or to go to sleep. He pretty much always says no no to that last one. Most of his vocabulary so far has consisted of very basic words, like mama, dada, this/that, hi/bye, no no, etc. He also has a really cute 'whoa' that he says when he feels he came close to falling. It used to happen quite a bit, but he can catch himself pretty well now. I think the whoa helps him too.

His favorite book by far is Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton. She was also one of my favorite authors when I was growing up. My mom used to read her books to us every night and me and Anuj would just crack up every time we read Chloe and Maude. I have bought almost every other Sandra Boynton book for Avinash now, but I still can't find Chloe and Maude! I don't know why she doesn't do a reprint of this book.

Avinash has this whole book memorized and always does the animal noises. I need to make a video of him reading this now while is voice is so high and cute.

Still, Avinash could not say the words for many objects. He finally started to say wa-wa, which I think is a cross between water and agua. He also started to say ball. This usually refers to balloons not actual balls and started after he spent a few evenings at the car dealership playing with all of the balloons there.

Hopefully he will continue to make more progress.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Ever since the three day torrential downpour stopped we have been trying to survive the heat.

When I asked Avinash to find his hat, he not only did just that but he even put it on and kept it on for our walk. Trust me, that is shocking.

We went to play frisbee in the park with some friends on Saturday and were drenched in sweat after 30 minutes. Luckily they have a pool in their apartment so we all went swimming after. Avinash did pretty well on the first two steps of the pool but couldn't keep his head up on the third step. He did try it a couple of times, luckily we were right behind him to pick him back up.

For the fourth itself we stayed home and made chole bhatura from scratch. It was so soo good. I was so apprehensive because the dough did not appear to rise at all and I am not an expert fryer, but it came out perfectly. We seem to be continuing our unhealthy eating streak but at least it was home cooked. I have to share the recipe sometime. And for my doctor-not-recommended chole.

We had no clue where a good spot to see the fireworks would be, but figured we would check out the hill at Miller Theater. We were totally shocked by the enormous crowd we found blanketing that whole area of the park and all surrounding areas including the science museum, the main street fountains and Houston statue.

We found a spot on the hill but spent the next hour wondering where and when the fireworks were coming. Eventually we decided to walk around and maybe head home. The symphony was still playing but we were not sure if we would even be able to see the fireworks anyway.

Well, we saw them! From the edge of the rose garden as we headed towards home. The view was fantastic and we had managed to avoid the crowds!

Avinash pointed and said 'whoa' after a few explosions, but seemed mostly non-nonplussed.

We tried a trip to the Zoo today, but couldn't leave the house until 5:30. Avinash was still all red and tired afterwards.

The giraffes were the most active animals today. We got to see them right at the edge of the fence.

Nothing beats a great slide. Avinash was afraid to go down facing forwards and kept flipping onto his back. He even scooted himself across the bridge on his belly!

Monkeying around on the seal.

On a side note: Avinash will not go to sleep in his crib anymore. He is almost tall enough to vault himself out of there. Ryan and I are taking turns now lying with him on the guest bed trying to get him to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our budding videographer

Avinash had lots of fun at the Scripps Aquarium in San Diego. He finally let his Nana and Naniji hold him and hang out with him. He was so amazed by all the fish, and pretty easily startled himself.

He tried to jump in the tidal pool.

But was not to fond of all the lobsters.

He loved racing boats.

And learning that water does not flow uphill, except when we want it to!

He even took a video of the aquarium himself. Not recommended for people prone to motion sickness as the background is a bit shaky, but there are lots of great closeups of Avinash's nose. Enjoy!

More dancing baby please.

I had to share another video of Avinash's awesome dancing skills. It mostly consists of twirling and trying to grab onto any girl's hand. He also likes it when I spin him and his cousin Lily around in a circle, until we throw up. Well, almost. But if I kept going as long as he wants me to I'm pretty sure we would. Last night we had an impromptu baby dance party when a couple of friends came over for dinner. Avinash would not stop twirling; when he was about to fall over and lose his balance he would just scrunch his face up in concentration and twirl faster. So hilarious. The only thing he stops for is applause, so he can join in the clapping.

This video is from the Sangeet night. Somewhere in the middle of the 25 performances. Most of which were overshadowed by the dancing baby performances, in my opinion anyway. At one point he and Lily did manage to sneek away without us seeing and start playing in the fountain outside. Ahhh, good times.

Friday, July 2, 2010


It has been raining here steadily for the past three days. Supposedly today is the last day of it.

I was so worried when we got home from California because all of our plants looked so parched and barren. I had hoped it would rain a lot and revive them. Now I'm worried that they are going to get flooded! The tomatoes did not make it at all, but at least we had several nights of fresh tomatoes at dinner. The mint looked totally dead, but I pruned it and it seems to have made a recovery. The basil is still going strong thankfully. All of the bougainvillea needed dead branches cut off but whatever little flowers there were on there have been washed away by rain. My little orange tree is still clinging tenaciously to its few fruit. The best thing about it was the flowers, so amazingly fragrant.

Our previous 'exercise' routine of walking for 30 minutes a night has also been put on hold because of the rains. I hope we can get back on track soon. I can already feel my waistline expanding, sigh.

Still, I love the sight of all the rain pouring down outside. Avinash and I love dancing in the rain, Bollywood-movie style (minus the white outfits).

We actually sprung a leak in the apartment today. I found a huge puddle in the bedroom apparently from water leaking in through the walls. No one can come to repair it until Tuesday. Let's hope that we don't get flooded in the meantime.
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