Winter thoughts and Crafts

“We are Not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm”.

I read this somewhere and felt it reflected the thoughts I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve been speaking to lots of people and getting to know how they are dealing with this Pandemic. I am thankful that we are able to live an almost normal life here. Even though cases are increasing here in Switzerland, we are still not having a lockdown. But people are scared and worried. It is normal to feel this way. However, does worrying solve this issue? I doubt it.

Along with stressing themselves, people are transferring this stress to their extended families and friends. Because of this, relationships have been tested. Friendships have been broken. To these people I can only earnestly say that even though we are not in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. We are all going through the same s***. Some, more than others.

Instead of bringing others down with negativity, do your best to be positive, be thankful for the friendly people around you, for all the lovely festivities coming up and nurture your relationships in the best way possible. Support each other and be kind!

Now that I am close to the last month of my pregnancy, doctor has recommended that I stop working. It’s really cold and snowing out here, so I have nothing much to do. When I am not doing household chores, cooking, dropping Neel to day care and going grocery shopping, I have been doing a lot of DIY crafts and activities.

1. Diwali crafts

Neel and I made these lanterns and diyas. I let Neel draw on color paper before cutting them to make the lanterns. For diyas, I followed this video.

2. Advent gifts

Every year, around 24 ladies from our village come together to make advent gifts. Each one makes 24 identical gifts and labels them with the number provided by the organizer. The organizer will then rearrange all the gifts in such a way that each one in the end gets 24 different gifts to be opened from 1st of december till 24th of december. This year I made these frames/ wall hangings out of washi tapes and cardboard boxes. In every frame, I stuck Christmas card which I made using thick golden cardstock.

3. Christmas tree hanging

This year, because of the Pandemic and my current situation, we will be spending Christmas/ New year at home and so we decided to put up our own Christmas tree. Along with the regular Christmas tree decorations, I decided to make some of my own handmade ones too. Using empty toilet paper rolls, I made these golden flowers.

4. Christmas gifts

I made these handmade gifts for my friends using mason glass jars, golden washi tapes, golden color spray and candles.

5. Christmas activities

Neel and I are doing a lot of activities together in the spirit of the holiday season. We both check Pinterest for inspiration and if he likes something he says “shall we do this together mama?”

Playdough Christmas tree

Christmas tree cards

Neel is my partner in all of these creations. He is one excited kid when it comes to celebrations and festivities. I think he gets it from his mama. Thanks to him, I’m enjoying making crafts, decorating our house and celebrating all the festivals. So you can see, I have kept myself busy lately and I don`t think I will be stopping anytime soon (until the baby arrives at least). I hope you all enjoy this holiday season in whichever way possible, small or big, with or without family, and make the most of it.

Love,

Madhurya

A Scandinavian Vacation

This is a blast from the past- one of the trips we made last year for a long weekend. Most of these places might be closed now due to COVID.

I was not so keen on visiting Sweden, as I had my heart set on a sunny location like Slovenia or Italy, but as it was peak travel time, we finally agreed upon Sweden.

It turned out to be a short but beautiful trip.

Where did we stay

We stayed at a lovely AirBnb in Saltsjö-Boo in a beautiful guesthouse located by the sea. It was a cabin which had a large bed, kitchen, bath and dining table. All the amenities were available. Neel was really happy as there was a huge lawn with toys right in front of our house which belonged to the family who owned the guesthouse. It was a perfect house located on a perfect location. We could take nice walks along the pathway by the sea. While Mike and Neel enjoyed watching all the boats and ships sailing, I had a good time looking at the gorgeous Scandinavian homes. We also spent time drinking cups of coffee on the lawn while enjoying the beautiful views of the sea.

Places we visited and things we saw

1. Unfortunately, on the day we landed in Stockholm, my mobile crashed, so I HAD to find a dealer who could fix it or buy a cheap mobile. So the first stop we made was to Kungsgatan, a central area in Stockholm full of shops, cafes and restaurants. We spent the rest of the day walking around the city. We also visited The Stadsbiblioteket (Stockholm Public Library) and spent sometime browsing the books.

2. When you visit Stockholm, you cannot miss the old town- Gamla Stan. It is filled with cobbled streets and 17th- and 18th-century old, colorful buildings.

3. An Archipelago tour with a guide was a perfect sightseeing tour on a boat. For a duration of almost 3h, we got to see a beautiful collection of islands, learnt about Scandinavian culture and history and also spotted some amazing homes. Depending on the tour you take, it costs around 610.00 SEK (1 SEK= 0.12 United States Dollar) for 2 adults and for children under 5 years it is free.

4. All you Music lovers, do not miss Abba The Museum. It takes only a couple of hours to get the most out of this museum dedicated to the famous Swedish band.

5. Vasa Museum– Honestly, I was not such a fan of this museum, but Mike and Neel (die-hard boat-lovers), were really impressed. So do visit this museum if you want to know more about the history of Vasa (a Swedish Warship).

6. We also visited a beautiful archipelago town, Vaxholm. We had to take a ferry to reach this town. Wooden homes and fishing cottages beautify this quaint place. We really enjoyed spending time walking, eating Swedish lunch and lazing around while having coffee. Mike even bought an authentic handmade wooden boat from here as a souvenir.

If we ever visit Sweden again, I would love to explore more of its natural parks and nature reserves.

Madhurya.

What we are… (Nov. 11, 2020)

We used to post this every Wednesday, and we thought why not begin blogging again by recording what we are upto. So, currently,

Here’s what Madhurya had to say-

Reading: Get a life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert.

Watching: Movie “The bridges of Madison County” and series ” How to get away with murder” on netflix.

Eating: All the dishes I prepared for the pre-diwali get-together we had with a couple of friends.

Making: Diwali diy decorations and Advent gifts for Christmas.

Wishing for: a white christmas, a better ending for 2020 and a great start to the new year.

Learning: to pick my battles with Neel and to take it one day at a time.

Thinking: about how our life is going to change with the arrival of another little one. Excited and nervous!

Listening: to many kannada and tamil songs.

Loving: that the holiday season is here. Let’s make the best of it!!!

Here’s what I had to say-

Reading: Oh! So many- The monk who sold his Ferrari, The lady of Bolton Hill, Don’t Overthink it and How to be a writer, depending on my mood and whats closeby. 🙂

Watching:  True Detective on hotstar. Just love Matthew McConaughey’s character, his negative but wise observations about life and the small-town America shown in the first season.

Eating: lots of veggies that are available in plenty at the local market. I’ve become quite the expert on meal-planning and preparing after all these years of cooking for my foodie family, and also because I’m always short on time.

Making: videos and props for my online classes.

Wishing for: this new work+life balance to continue. I don’t ever want to get back into the pre-covid rat race!

Learning: that it is all in my mind. I have the power to be whoever and however I wish to be. I have more energy and time for the things that matter to me. And the same goes for you too, my friend.

Thinking: of where to travel to, next. What would be safer, Goa or Andaman? Or a jungle? A girl can dream right?

Listening: to Office ladies podcast and laughing along. Angela and Jenna (actors on the show) dissect the episodes of The Office, and share the backstory and facts and tidbits. I simply devour them, being such a fan of the show, especially the first few seasons.

Loving: having friends or family over for dinner on Saturday nights.

Love,

Madhurya & Manasa.

In the time of Coronavirus (In Switzerland)

Some of the things we’ve been doing with our 2 year old during these uncertain times are –

  1. We have a huge field next to our home. It is usually empty and whenever Mike and I are not working, we like taking long walks while Neel cycles.

2. Trying to keep in touch with my friends and family, especially the ones in Switzerland. We are constantly messaging each other to find out how everyone’s managing their kids at home.

Neel is missing his cousins and friends a lot!

3. It is so difficult to manage a toddler at home, especially being a working mom. I have prepared lots of activities for Neel to play with while I work. Though it doesn`t keep him busy all the time, it certainly helps once in a while.

4. Reading lots of books. I am currently reading Liane Moriarty`s “Nine Perfect Strangers” and I am enjoying it thoroughly.

5. Mike and I sometimes play scrabble after Neel has gone to sleep. I enjoy this so much more than watching TV.

6. Baking!! I have started baking breads, buns and cakes.

7. I began working on another Crochet mandala which I hope to transform into a blanket!

8. As the weather gets better, Mike enjoys working in the garden with Neel. Neel loves to help his papa and tells me “Mama, stay here” (to make sure I don`t disturb them)!

8. I decided to learn something new and ordered materials to learn Hand Lettering. I’m practising my new skill every single day.

Honestly, when we are not working, Mike and I are truly enjoying this time we are getting with Neel. We are very thankful for the life, health and time we are blessed with. The only downside to this whole situation is that we will not be able to visit our family in India as planned. I really hope and wish that we will get to see them all soon.

Madhurya.

Neel`s day out

Last Sunday we decided to visit Basel Zoo. Honestly, I am not a big fan of Zoos and animals. But thanks to my son Neel, I have now visited almost all the Zoos in Switzerland. It is almost an hour’s drive from our home to Basel.

It is now quite cold here in Switzerland, almost 0DegC, and spending time outdoors is very hard. But with an active toddler at home, you have no other choice but to make such trips. Thankfully there was a bit of sun there and we did not freeze completely.

Neel enjoyed watching all the animals. Especially the elephants. He wanted to walk around everywhere on his own. We just let him! I realised that my little animal cannot be tamed as easily as the animals in the zoo.

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More information on the zoo can be found in https://www.zoobasel.ch/de/index.php

Things I do to keep Neel busy!

Now that Neel is 9 months old, he is quite active. When he is not playing with his toys or crawling all over the place, he stands up holding something and is slowly learning to walk. He doesn’t sit in one place. He gets so bored at home and expects me to take him out for walks all the time. When we are out, he is the happiest!

As I work 2 days from home, I’m trying to find different activities to keep Neel busy. So far I have tried these after checking many websites on pinterest:

  • Keeping Neel in his playpen right next to the sofa– When I sit and work on the sofa, he plays in the playpen. I do this to show him that I am right next to him. I sometimes keep the TV ON. I know it is not a good idea, but it is OK once in a while! (I do need to somehow get my work done! 😦 )

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  • Playing with edible sand- Its a simple recipe- Mix flour, coconut oil and some food colors and put them in a tub or cardboard box. Toss a few toys in as well. This worked for sometime until he found it too tempting to start eating it. He still needs to get used to this concept that he is not meant to eat everything!

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  • Playing with kitchen utensils– He loves to play with the steel utensils I have brought from India. He enjoys the noise they make while banging them on the floor.

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  • Goody bag– Everyday I place some items inside a bag and point it to Neel. He finds it interesting to open the bag and remove all the items from it and play with them. It keeps him busy for a while.
  • I pour some water on his high chair and place some bottle caps. He really enjoys splashing about.

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  • Playing with bubble wrap– He is still too young to understand the concept of bursting the bubbles in the bubble wrap. But he enjoys crawling all over the bumpy sheet.

  • Making a fort out of the lounge chairs– Mike has made a fort by rearranging the lounge chairs outside in our kitchen garden. We have placed some toys around and he plays with them in a secure area.

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What do/ did you do to keep your kids busy? I would love to know some tips and tricks. Please share…

Love.

“What we are ………….” Wednesday!

Hey guys, What are you up to?

Here’s what Madhurya and I are doing this Wednesday…..

Madhurya:

Reading: “Pride and Prejudice“. I was too young when I read it the first time to understand it well. I am enjoying reading this book again. My sister and I love Mr. Darcy!!

Watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine series on Netflix. It’s really silly and funny and kind of a stress buster for me.

Eating: lots of homemade Indian food. I currently have a strong urge to eat South Indian curries and dosas and enjoy making them too.

Making:  a list of fun activities for Neel to do at home on his own while I work.

Wishing: that my parents and my sister’s family was living close to me. Well, the bright side is I will see my parents soon.

Learning: to take it easy and not be hard on myself. Everyday is a new day with a baby at home. Everyday I make a new schedule to stick with but if one day it works out, the next day it doesn’t. So instead of cribbing about it, I am learning to take it one day at a time.

Thinking: about baking my favorite chocolate chip cookies or a chocolate cake this time? What do you think? Will Neel allow me to spend some extra time in the kitchen?

Listening: to kannada song “ondu malebillu”. It is so soothing and melodious.

Loving: the antics of my super-active baby. He has started to stand while holding something for support and enjoys standing on me, the table, basically anything and everything he finds. He just doesn’t want to stop!

And me…
Reading: I just finished reading my sister’s “The Seafront Tearooms” by Vanessa Greene. A nice book to enjoy on a lazy rainy day. Now on a hunt for another feel-good book. Can you recommend any?
Watching: “You’ve got mail” on Amazon Prime. Something else prescribed by the doctor to lift my blues. 🙂
Eating: Yesterday’s Mango Italian Festa Icecream cake from Ibaco. 🙂
Making: .Nothing, sadly, although I PLAN to make something every single day.
Wishing for:a clearer mind, better time-managing skills and more energy.
Learning: Yoga. I joined a class. Finally.
Thinking: about spending less time online and more time making stuff happen.
Listening: to lots of interesting podcasts and videos. Found a new one.
Loving: reading to my kids. I’m currently reading this to Medha and this to Madhav. 🙂
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

10 things that have made my life (a bit) easy as a new mom

Here they are:

  1. Swing

We bought this swing before Neel was born. A lot of people recommended this to us in case the baby turns out to be a light sleeper. I found this on Amazon. We installed the swing in our living room and used it during Neel`s day-time naps. I was able to do my work and keep an eye on him. He slept great in the swing. But we made sure not to use this during his night sleep. We wanted him to sleep in his bed. But on some nights when he was an absolute terror, we had no option but to use the swing. He was able to fit easily inside till about 4 to 5 months.

The swing comes with spring (costs extra) and belts inside to keep the baby safe. The drawback is it needs to be swung manually, which can get a bit tiring and boring!

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  1. Rattle Toys

I bought a few of them in bright colors. They can be held easily. Neel loved them and still does. I keep one or two in my bag to keep him entertained on our travels.

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  1. Stroller/ Car seat

We bought our stroller and car seat from Joie. Till about 4months, when Neel slept a lot during the day, we could just take his car seat out with him sleeping in it and put it directly on the stroller, without waking him up. You don’t even need an adapter to fit the seat on the stroller. For walks and to run our errands, this was quite helpful.

  1. Night Light

I bought this at a shop called Rappelkiste in Germany. I used this light till Neel turned 5 months old (I stopped using this when I started to sleep-train him. More on this in my next posts). When he would wake up in the middle of the night and was not ready to go back to sleep, he would just stare at the projected pictures on the ceiling and blabber at them. I would let him play around till he got tired or bored.

  1. Pillow

I bought this pillow during my pregnancy to help me sleep better. After Neel was born, I used this pillow to place him on. When Neel started to roll over, we had really bad nights. Every time he moved or turned, he would wake up and cry. They say the best way to stop this from happening is to swaddle the babies. Sadly, Neel never liked swaddling. So I used this pillow to keep him from moving a lot and that actually helped. It also helps in transitioning babies from swings to beds.

  1. Baby crib mobile

We bought this mobile at Ikea. I loved its simple and cute design. We did not hang this on his crib. Instead, we hung it above his changing table. He loved it. It was quite amusing to watch him look so animatedly at it as if he was challenging the creatures to play with him.

  1. Sippy cup

Neel, like most babies, never liked to drink from feeding bottles. He only wanted it from the source herself! My mom suggested to try different bottles or sippy cups. And he really liked the sippy cups better. Now I am also trying to get him used to the steel cups (which you generally get in India).

  1. Jars

When we started to feed solids to Neel, I wanted to store his food in sealed containers to make sure it wouldn’t get spoiled. As I made his food in large quantity, we used these jars of different sizes to store it. And it was easy and safe to take them while travelling too.

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  1. Car seat mirror

I use this to make sure that I am able to see Neel while driving. When I drove and he cried in the back, it used to make me very nervous. So we fixed it in front of his seat to make sure that nothing was bothering him physically (like one time his cap had covered his eyes and he was crying a lot). You can buy this in most of the hardware stores.

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  1. Baby carrier

Another item which I think was one of our best investments is this carrier from Cybex. Thanks to the elastic material in the center, it adjusts according to the shape of the baby and I don’t need to adjust any straps. It is quite ergonomic too. I used this a lot when I traveled to Dubai and India.

What helped/helps you as a new mom? I would love to know…

-Madhurya

“What we are ………….” Wednesday!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Reading: (Re-reading) The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. I am looking for new interesting books. Any suggestions?

Watching: Thor Ragnarok. I am so in love with this movie. I love the humor!

Eating: Watermelon and fresh strawberries. We plucked the strawberries from a farm nearby. They are so sweet and juicy!!

Making:  a list of projects for my #100craftadventures on instagram (I will update this in our blog soon)

Wishing for: a lovely sunny weekend so we can do more hiking, swimming and spending time together.

Learning: to experiment different food recipes for us and Neel (I don’t want Neel to be as picky as I am when it comes to food) and different methods to keep Neel busy while I work at home.

Thinking: about starting a Moms group or a Reading group here. Hope it works.

Listening:  to Tamil songs like Aluma Doluma & Donu Donu.. Thanks to Manasa, now I cannot get these songs out of my head. Even Neel starts to dance when we play them on the radio.

Loving: my “Today I am happy about” journal where I list out at least 5 things that made me happy every day. It is just to remind me that no matter how bad a day goes, I need to see the bright side.

 Here’s what I had to say:
Reading: “Writer Mama” by Christina Katz. I’ve had this book since forever, but I’m reading it now. Guess I never considered myself a writer. Can I call myself a writer now? I always write, don’t I? I still wonder…
Watching: “The Hollars” on Amazon Prime. I’m only now beginning to enjoy the perks of watching what I want on the Prime app on my phone.
Eating: Mangoes. Lots and lots of Mangoes. ‘Tis the season, y’all….
Making:  Masks, Animal masks, for Medha’s Inter-house Competition at school.
Wishing for: more time to do some creative projects plus more time to relax. Is that too much to ask?
Learning: how to do make-up that looks natural. My skin isn’t the same I had in my 20s. Sigh!
Thinking: about how mamas are being so so protective these days. Is that healthy?
Listening:  to Marie Forleo’s Interviews on Youtube. She brings such inspiring people to her channel.
Loving: my daily writing habit.
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

Thoughts on motherhood and a career

As a new parent, I have new responsibilities now. My first priority is my son and then comes everything else- My husband, the rest of my family, our home and so on. So what about my career? Where should I put this on my list? What will happen to all the years I spent studying and getting a degree from a prestigious college in Dubai? What will happen to all the effort I put in to get to the level I’m in my career?

This doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s not enough to be a stay-at-home mom or a home-maker. It’s not easy to take care of a home, kids, in-laws and still find time to do something for oneself!! I have seen my mother, sister and all the women in my family do it. But what if you desire to have something more? To be more than who you are right now?

A full-time Childcare is not affordable in Switzerland (I am sure this is the case in many countries). I don’t have anybody other than my husband to take care of my little one. So the option I had was to cut down on the work I was doing. And what was the outcome? I saw a difference in the behavior of my peers towards me. All the good and big projects were and still are given to my male counterpart. When most of the men get their promotions, I won`t be getting any.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way trying to demotivate women from having babies. Neel is the best thing to have happened in my life. I wouldn’t change that for anything!! What I am trying to convey here is If you feel like the whole world is passing you by and you feel stuck in one place, like you are not able to keep up,  it’s OK to step back and watch everyone run. One day, your turn will come too, when the world will stop to watch you grab the stars! Until then, why not enjoy and be grateful for the things we are blessed with in our lives?

-Madhurya.