Going to the Chapel and I'm...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

See you guys next week, I'm off for my sister's wedding!

Monday Musings: "The One Girl It Scares Me To Think I Might Not Have Met"

Monday, August 24, 2009
My sister is getting married on Saturday...! After the months of planning, outfit-coordinating, last minute runs to Trader Joes for 15 pounds of salted cashews (!)...here we are. The week before my sister marries the person who will be her husband, who will be a dad to her kids, who will, knock on wood, sit with her on the proverbial front porch years and years from now, rocking in chairs (sleek robotic ones for my sister and Jeff, perhaps), talking about their life well lived.

I can't believe it. I am so excited for them, and so, so happy to have this awesome guy joining our family. So, in honor, I am reprinting the blog Jeff wrote a few months back, during "Male Week," about his imminent entry into my crazy (but lovely--in my opinion!) family!


On a sunny day, the joke always goes like this:
Me: “Am I golden brown?”
P: “No, you are burnt red!”
Me: “No, really I’m turning golden brown, like toast? Aren’t I?”
P: (silence)

The reality arrives when I lay in bed and the sheets feel like sandpaper on my skin. In the morning I see more similarities between me and strawberry jam than golden crust on my toast. When I have kids, will they give me a hard time too? What will their jokes be? Will they get a laugh at me for being the whitest guy on the beach? Will they get a laugh at me being the only one to pause for sunscreen application at family gatherings involving my new family? I certainly hope so because my fiancĂ©e P does. It makes her laugh, which is inevitably followed by her touting her built in sun-block, and then complaining about her chances of becoming burnt toast. Our children will probably complain about the same thing – Woohoo! (at least they won’t have to look like dad the lobster). Thinking of them doing this as I search for the ultimate SPF makes me happy. It brings me back to the present, and the events that will lead up to my kids making fun of me.

I’m getting married this summer. I’m engaged to the one girl it scares me to think I might not have met, but did, and now can’t imagine living without. Polaroid cameras, riding the zipper at the fair, and our rowboat quest for fried dough that almost ended in MIT sending out a search party brought us together. Building bicycles, animation machines, and a life and family together has made us inseparable.

Bringing our families together has and will be fun, a little bit chaotic, and at times confusing. For me it was a learning experience to maneuver myself into the thanksgiving chaat line, and my voice into her family’s excited conversations, but I’m almost a pro. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll never shake off the “too quiet” ruling (which every non-Indian seems to get), really it’s because I have a hard time talking while I’m eating. At least I won’t get the “doesn’t eat enough” ruling. I’m not being polite with my trips back to the kitchen I just love eating at P’s house.

We are planning our wedding with P’s parents, MotaDad (he is by all means a BIG DAD, the Indian Papa, a true Ganesh, and I’m excited to say my future father-in-law) and Ammi (who made my jaw drop and my heart grow the first day she referred to me at ‘beta’ (which was four years after we met!). I’ve been to almost every kind of wedding now, and let’s face it, Indians know how to celebrate. My first experience was P’s sister’s wedding (MD and Ammi’s first daughter and my soon-to-be super-sister-in-law) and it was a labor of love that will be remembered for generations. I remember MotaDad greeting us: barefoot, stick dancing, and bear hugs all around. I also recall my attempts at bhangra dancing, 3 suit changes, and 300 Aunties and Uncles wanting to make sure I was “enjoying the festivities”. I think I still am. (Occasionally I’ll get an email to confirm that. Thanks Uncle!) Slowly I started to feel like part of the family as more and more my name became “Jeffuchi.”

Soon I’ll be on the mandap with P. Our wedding ceremony will be mostly Hindu but not entirely traditional. I won’t ride an elephant (I would if I could) or a horse in the barat, or wear a kurta or sherwani. But the barat! Holy Moly I’m excited for it, and it’s just the beginning. My family will probably need a little help……ok a lot of help. P jokingly suggested we help by starting the barat at the bar. I want it to involve both families – my brother, my mom, and hopefully my soon-to- be brother-in law, as well as all of the aunties and uncles and cousins that have shown me how it’s done. I’m sure my family will get the hang of it, and I predict any formal separation of families (i.e. who’s dancing and who’s not) will end when the dhol drummers begin. I know P’s family will be jumping.

Ever since I’ve been engaged that’s how I picture MotaDad and Ammi – joyous and jumping. It makes me happy. I remember visiting last spring to talk with them about my future with P. I was so nervous the first half of my visit I couldn’t sit still or eat, and somehow tea time that day involved a table of food. I did eventually talk, and asked MotaDad and Ammi for their blessing. MotaDad stared at me for what seemed an eternity, tried to give me a hard time being the jokester he is, but couldn’t hold his laughter.

For that split second of eternity waiting for his reaction, I had a strange thought. I looked at my arm and imagined it turning golden brown.

But it didn’t have to. Now I’m “Jeffuchi"...

But yeah, I still get sunburned.

Weekend Video: Who Knew?

Friday, August 21, 2009
Did you know that MIA's "Paper Planes" is a remake of a 1920's song? Seriously--check it out. And have a great weekend!

Fashion Fixers: Three Weird Things That Actually Work

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My sister is getting married next week! While of course I am most focused on making sure her big day is as magical and amazing as she deserves...I also am trying to figure out the logistics of packing up the three kids for Sonoma, outfitting them in clothes my mom will find appropriate (she somehow isn't into the American-Apparel-all-the-time look I have cultivated for the munchkins), brainwashing them into wanting to sit through a 2 hour sit-down dinner...and figuring out what I should wear.

You know the drill. These days we get so focused on packing up the children and their accoutrements that we barely remember to pack our toothbrushes, let alone wardrobe options for multiple events, accessories, shampoo, conditioner, makeup, pants for flats, jeans for heels...and the flats and the heels...

I have come upon three ingenious inventions that are going to make my packing easier. And they're all sort of odd.

I was very skeptical of this "hem tape" that promises to temporarily shorten long pants when you are in a pinch. My first thought was : "They are going to make me pay for glorified Scotch tape." But I was proven wrong. This stuff really works, and creates a crisp, flat hem--so now I just have to pack one pair of jeans and it will work with all my shoes. Sure beats the DIY "cuffed look" I sometimes resort to...

And ahhh shoes. My sister's wedding will be outside on a gorgeous estate. But I have been to one wedding too many where I was too busy making sure my stilettos weren't making divets in said gorgeous estate to enjoy the scene. Enter SoleMates--these (admittedly bizarre looking) "guards" slip onto any sleek heel--and ensure that you won't be sinking into the grass. Genius!

Last but not least: Have you tried dry shampoo yet? I was probably one of the last to jump on the wagon of not washing and drying my hair everyday...but just as necessity is the mother of invention, so too is the time-crunch. A product that can save me even 5 minutes gets me waxing profound, so you can imagine my delight at finding this dry shampoo that lets me go one extra day--three days in a row--between washing and blowdrying. Can't make it to the store (because your hair is too greasy!)? Make your own: Combine equal parts baking soda and baby powder, sprinkle over your hair, and brush. The baking soda removes buildup and the baby powder soaks up extra oil.

Like my friend L says: Tricks aren't just for kids. Long live fashion tricks.

Monday Musings: Baby Got Brains

Monday, August 17, 2009

D. just got his very first "report card"...! We are alerting the proper agencies now that we have confirmed that D is "proficient" in "stacking objects" and that he is "in the process of mastering" certain "social courtesies." Mensa, you reading?

It was such a funny moment, reading D's report card while holding my middle son and making my littlest one's bottle. Looking at our baby, S., it's almost impossible to imagine that, in three short years, she will have traded in the spitting up and constant napping for the perpetual "why?" verbal dance and something approaching cognitive thought.

Unless of course she is already far smarter than we give her credit for. According to this article which sites a bunch of studies in support: Even young babies have complex thought-processes and are able to explore and understand cause and effect and even probability. The author goes as far as to posture that babies are "sometimes smarter than adults":

Babies are captivated by the most unexpected events. Adults, on the other hand, focus on the outcomes that are the most relevant to their goals. In a well-known experiment, adults saw a video of several people tossing a ball to one another. The experimenter told them to count how many passes particular people made. In the midst of this, a person in a gorilla suit walked slowly through the middle of the video. A surprising number of adults, intent on counting, didn’t even seem to notice the unexpected gorilla...Adults rely more on what they already know. Babies aren’t trying to learn one particular skill or set of facts; instead, they are drawn to anything new, unexpected or informative.

(I can completely imagine myself ignoring the gorilla...I'm such an "adult"...!)

Obviously there is no need to stop the presses in order to declare that we don't give our kids enough credit. Sometimes the sympathy and common sense that my children express and articulate teaches me. And by "sometimes" I mean "often." But there is something about a study like this that does give me pause. Because I DO believe that we over-program our kids these days, and I DO think that summers should be about playing and doing things such as contemplating clouds...but if all those neurons are firing away like mad men (Oh, thank you for being back "Mad Men"!) in my kids' heads, then isn't it a bit negligent of me not to teach them three languages, get out the math flash cards, enroll them in six different sorts of martial arts?

Well, before we all "add to cart" every Baby Einstein offering on Amazon, take heed of the article's take-away message:

Sadly, some parents are likely to take the wrong lessons from these experiments and conclude that they need programs and products that will make their babies even smarter...

But what children observe most closely, explore most obsessively and imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys; there is no magic formula. Parents and other caregivers teach young children by paying attention and interacting with them naturally and, most of all, by just allowing them to play.

Oh well, thank God. Cause I have lots of "slow parenting" (not to mention praciticing certain "social courtesies" with the babies) that I need to attend to...!

Weekend Links

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm addicted to lots of things--but pregnancy? Nuh uh.

Got $221,000. Hope you do. Per kid. That's the new figure on what it will cost a middle-income family to raise a child through the age of 17.

Still have some cash left over after that statistic? Take a peek at the new diffusion line by Rachel Roy for Macys--love this dress.

Check out the case for why exercise won't make you thin. Will let you know when I find the article that says eating donuts will...!

And hell must be freezing over--here is a blue-ish eyeshadow color that actually looks good on Indian skin. Sorry for any Wet-N-Wild flashbacks.

Download Now: Global Lingo

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Have you heard about Project Ahimsa yet? If not, get ready to be bowled over. Its new charity album, Global Lingo, featuring, amongst others, Michael Franti (from his Sly & Robbie-produced album), a Cottonbelly (Sade's guitarist/musical director) remix of Miguel Migs, and this awesome track by Coco Pelia just went live--and it's amazing.

Founded as a nonviolent resopnse to post-9/11 hate crimes, Project Ahimsa raises money to issue microgrants that support musical education throughout the world. So far, the organization has created 70 grants in fourteen countries, serving 10,000 kids--and, in an awesome move, Global Lingo features some of the many children who have benefited from Ahimsa's mission.

The album rocks. Download it here, support a great cause, have a dance party with your kids.

Monday Musings: Who you gonna call?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jennifer Aniston just won a parenting award. And a recent poll concluded that most people would rather have the child-less actress babysit their children than call up Anjelina Jolie, mother of 6, for the job.

It got me thinking. Oprah is a God-figure to the world on topics like marriage and parenting--but she isn't married and doesn't have any kids. In the same babysitting poll (who conducts these sorts of things, anyway?!) , Ellen DeGeneres and her partner Portia de Rossi, who have no children, topped the poll of more than 10,000 moms that asked which star they would feel most comfortable leaving their kids with.

It's odd, no? Kind of like when you are going to get a haircut--and the hairdresser has horrible hair. Or a facial and the aesthetician has bad skin. Or a pedicure and...heh.

Who do you go to for parenting advice? Do you take parenting advice from people without kids?

Weekend News

Friday, August 7, 2009
Hey guys! Happy Friday to you...

I wanted to announce my new blog format. Starting next week, I will be blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I will miss you oh so much on Tuesdays and Thursdays...but I think we will all survive...!

At the risk of being even more of a cheeseball than I have already revealed myself to be: I would like to thank you all for your readership, support, love, comments, and emails up to this point. I could never have imagined how cool it would be to write this blog! Please keep reading and please keep supporting, loving, commenting, emailing...!

Have a great weekend,


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Did you celebrate Raksha Bandhan yesterday? Did your kids?

I have many vivid memories of my Renu Faiba coming over and tying what appeared to be a friendship bracelet onto my dad. My dad then gave her jewelry. Seemed like a good trade-off to me! I wasn't privy to what the ritual meant until much later and, while I understand peoples' feathers getting ruffled by the idea that sisters need to be "protected" and whanot--the tradition to me can be simply about carving out a time to appreciate the special relationship between a brother and a sister. Period. Full stop. We are always talking about ways to incorporate Indian traditions into our American lives--this seems like an easy one to fold into the mix, and what a way to create memories for our kids.

My sister and I don't have brothers, but our cousins from India always said that we were their "sisters" and as much as we didn't understand that as kids, we love it now. (Feel the same way but live too far away to actually tie the bracelet on? Send an ecard.) As for my kids: We did a little, makeshift rakhi ceremony this morning and, gotta say, it was pretty cute. In classic my style--we didn't do it on the right day and the rakhi were a bit unconventional, having been fashioned from string and odds and ends in our house. But the sentiment was pure...!

I do wonder: What would happen if a sister tied a rakhi onto another sister? Do you think it would bastardize the tradition?

Just some food/friendship bracelets/presents for thought...! Happy day after Raksha Bandhan to everyone!

Wanna Be in Mad Men?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ha. Bet that title grabbed your attention. I am obsessed with "Mad Men" and it returns for season three on August 16th. Came across this fun time-waster from the AMC people: You go through a series of choices from hairstyle to accessories to background and "Mad Men" yourself.

Sure...the final result (above) doesn't really look anything like me. And I would pretty much faint if season three included an Indian person. But I'm loving imagining the life in which I would wear little black gloves and it's fun to think about hanging out in a dark bar with Don Draper in most any circumstance...!

Cooking: The New Spectator Sport?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Did you guys catch the cover story of Sunday's New York Times magazine? (Yes: I am currently re-obsessed with everything NYTimes, thanks to all of you for pointing out as much in emails to me...!) Michael Pollen, the closest thing to a demi-god in the world of food (who penned one of my husband's favorite sentences: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.") makes the case that "cooking" has become a sort of spectator activity to most of America and he concludes that this is a sad, sad shame.

The crux of the article is about the intersection of the growing popularity of watching t.v. shows about cooking (Food Network, Top Chef, etc.) with the corresponding phenom of all of us spending less time than ever actually making meals ourselves. It is pretty weird when you think about it and I could be the poster-child for the odd juxtaposition--I can tell you many, many things about the Top Chef contestants but not once did I watch an episode that informed the admittedly little I do in the kitchen.

According to Pollan, Americans today spend an average of 27 minutes a day on food preparation--less than half of what we spent in 1963. Pollan makes sure to do a tip of the hat to the idea that this might be a certain victory for feminism, but ultimately concludes that "cooking is far more important — to our happiness and to our health — than its current role in our lives..." Pollen may have a hidden pro-cooking agenda. You may get the subtle sense throughout the article that he thinks people who cook are "better" than those who do not. He may use gratuitious French phrases. But, end of the day, he does manage to cite a whole host of reasons----ranging from how cooking brings people together to how home-cooked meals are healtheir than their processed equivalents--to buttress his conclusion that we are going the "wrong" way in terms of our activity in the kitchen.

I have said time and time again that I use the kitchen as another space to online shop. The cheese happens to be closer than in the living room. But my husband loves to cook and we do spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen. And, if I am calculating properly, regardles of my lack of kitchen prowesse, the mere time I spend assembling the simple things I make for my kids puts me above the American average of time spent in the kitchen. But I cannot get over the fact that I hate to cook. That I think the advent of anything that makes cooking easier should be an automatic contender for some sort of National Prize. That I shudder at any article, philosophy, polemic-veiled-as-feature that propogates the idea that "we"--and make no mistake, the "we" here, regardless of my situation, is usually the women--need to cook more.

What do you think? What are your visceral reactions to "cooking"? I have noticed that, in my anecdotal sample, it seems to be the Indian women I know who cook more than the non-Indian ones. I also notice that it is some of these same women who actually do seem to genuinely love cooking. Do you find that to be the case and, if so, why is that so?

Do you think there is a "death of cooking" going on? Should there be?

I'm EATING this up...! Heh.

Monday Musings=Monday Snoozings

Monday, August 3, 2009