Normal programming…

… recommences! Regular readers, please do excuse the last post. Let’s just say, after weeks of self-control, I found it impossible to resist this opportunity to be naughty staring me right in the face. And now, let’s leave it at that, shall we?

Excitement is in the air at the JnM household. The husband returns from a two month exchange program in the US next week, goodies in tow. Toys and dozens of books for his darling Baby M. A digital SLR and iPhone for himself. And one teeny weeny gift for me. Sigh! How the mighty have fallen!

Okay, I am exaggerating. My gift is a surprise, so I have no idea how tiny (or huge) it is. And guess whose pictures the SLR will end up capturing? And finally, the stuff for Baby M was painstakingly researched and selected and ordered online by none other than yours truly. The poor husband ended up merely playing messenger boy in this instance. So I thought, why not be generous and give him his iPhone in return for the courier service? Yes, I am pretty generous that way.

Baby M will be taking off for Mahabaleshwar as soon as his daddy makes an appearance on Indian shores. This will be his fifth trip in less than a year, after Lonavala, Delhi-Agra, Indore and Alibag. Quite the seasoned traveler already, is our Baby M. He’s been so kind as to allow his poor parents to accompany him this time as well. But don’t expect such largess every time, we’ve been warned. Okay dear, we’ll take what we get.

The no-fuss baby that he is, Baby M has been very little trouble the last four times, gleefully taking in all the different sights with large curious eyes when awake, falling asleep in our arms when tired, and lapping up the sterile but yucky-tasting packaged baby foods as well as the delicious but hardly very hygienic dhaba food with equal ease. The husband and I have our fingers crossed this time will be no different.

The only part that worries me is the long drive. Active toddlers can be hard to manage in a confined space, and Baby M is as active as they get. I am trying to get him hooked on to looking out of the window – nothing like observing the world outside to kill boredom and enrich your mind I believe – but the idea is yet to catch on. In the meantime, mommy’s singing (talk of captive audiences!) and his favorite books seem to do the trick.

Strawberry-picking (and eating!), boating, horse-riding, hiking, swimming and lots of parent-child and husband-wife bonding is on the cards. Wish us happy travels, please!

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A weekend in the mountains

Last weekend, we took off to the Pennsylvania Poconos with a group of friends, eight of us adults and a cherubic two year old. What do I say of the experience?

cottage

Picture this – a remote mountainside cottage surrounded with snow. An old-fashioned fireplace to keep us warm. Playing games till 4 o’clock in the morning. Getting up at noon and eating maggi for brunch. Walking out and making a snowman right at our doorstep. Stamping in the snow to loosen it up for our snowman. Giggling at the silliest of jokes and sometimes for no reason at all.

snowman

An entire day of skiing and snowtubing. Interesting discussions and lots of banter and laughter. Three days of no internet, no television, no cellphone reception – almost no contact with the outside world. Just plain and simple fun! In short, an idyllic weekend! How I wish we had more of those!

Important note: I will be taking a short blogging break for the rest of February friends – we are off to Mumbai for our annual vacation home. I don’t need to tell you how excited I am, do I?

There’s so much awaiting me – a wedding, an engagement, a family function, my first visit to my very own home (the first time I’ll be seeing it as a home rather than a construction site!), a visit to B’lore and Pune, lots of shopping, hogging and of course meeting up with friends and family. All in the space of two weeks, can you believe it? I wish I could begin already…! 

See you soon friends!

Baby’s Day Out!

The husband had some work in Washington D.C. on Monday and I used the opportunity to tag along, bunk work and spend a wonderful day in the National Mall area of D.C., taking in the sights and lots of pictures, all for you guys of course. We have been there several times before, but the fun of roaming around aimlessly with no one to prod you along is something else, I tell you!

Early morning, the husband dropped me off at Constitution Avenue and I walked around merrily without a plan…

… stopping to take pictures of pretty little street corners on the way.

And then I turned a corner and this is what I saw… no, seriously!

Imagine turning around a bend and coming across THE most famous address in the country! I was surprised, shocked and excited all at once, to put it very mildly. One would think I would have had a fair idea of what to expect after wondering about the security guys popping up from behind every other tree – but I am the original naive girl, I am!

Is that Uncle Sam on the right, mowing his lawn this nice October morning? Somehow, I don’t think so!

It felt strange – the National Mall area was uncharacteristically peaceful on Monday morning.

These D.C. moms had the walking track all to themselves!

The school kids were out in full force too!

And this outdoor creche had me fascinated! Who were these kids? Why were they in the National Mall area? Were they out for a baby picnic perhaps?

I took advantage of the lack of crowds and signed up for a free tour of the Capitol.

Our tour guide was amazing! She was a history student with an encyclopedic knowledge of American Presidents and politicians.

The Capitol building itself is BEAUTIFUL!

And finally, I visited the lovely Botanical Gardens right opposite the Capitol.



I had a wonderful time, overall! Before I sign off, let me leave you with our good thought for the day – this board outside the Gardens was a pleasant surprise for me! Please do read it through.


P.S. In case anyone is wondering, the baby in the title is NOT me – I was talking about the babies in the pictures of course!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all!

This…

New Hampshire - White Mountains

New Hampshire - White Mountains

…is why I couldn’t do a Ganesh Chaturthi post this year. And no modaks for the husband either!

We hiked around the White Mountains area of New Hampshire through the Labor Day weekend. Back home tired and sleepy late on Monday night, I was in no mood to make elaborate festival preparations. So I took the easiest way out and attended Ganpati celebrations at my friends’ place instead, all doubts and principles put aside for the moment. And I am glad we went, we had a great time, admiring the Ganpati decorations, singing aartis and enjoying the sumptuous traditional festive food. Only the husband is not satisfied yet and is pestering me to make modaks this weekend. Oh well, let me see about that! And a very happy Ganesh festival to all of you too!

Coming back to New Hampshire (how I wish I really could go back!), let me do my usual photo feature again. The pictures are beautiful plus I know you guys enjoy them so much more than my ramblings!

The view from the summit of Mount Willard, our first hike for the weekend!

The view from the summit of Mount Willard, our first hike for the weekend!

Halfway up Mt. Willard and tired already!

Halfway up Mt. Willard and tired already!

Light at last - We are there!

Light at last - We are there!

Ripley Falls - A short and sweet climb away!

Ripley Falls - A short and sweet climb away!

The view from Mount Washington - the tallest peak in the NorthEast.

The view from Mount Washington - the tallest peak in the NorthEast.

One of New Hampshire’s famed Covered Bridges…

One of New Hampshire’s famed Covered Bridges…

Relaxing by a stream…

Relaxing by a stream…

What better setting for an impromptu picnic lunch?

What better setting for an impromptu picnic lunch?

Tranquility!

Tranquility!

A lakeside weekend break

We treated ourselves to a short but wonderful break last weekend, in the Lake Erie region of upstate New York. It was one of our nicest short and impromptu vacations ever! I wish I could do a nice long post on it, but life is pretty hectic right now and I would perhaps end up repeating a lot of what I’ve written here, so I’ll keep it short and do a quick recap instead.

A common note throughout our vacation was gorgeous scenery and lots of peace and calm and relaxation sprinkled with occasional bouts of activity and fun. Calm azure lake waters, blue skies, swans and ducks and geese and doves and many other little birds that I couldn’t possibly name chirping about, verdant green fields and farms with sheep and cows and horses and quaint little farmhouses dotting the country-side, brooks and streams waiting to surprise us across the bend in the road… I could go on and on about the beauty and charm of this place, but you get the picture, don’t you?

Friday night, we were at Lake Findley, a smallish but very pretty lake in the heart of Findley village and one of the numerous ‘inner lakes’ in the Great Lakes region of New York. We spent a relaxed evening strolling along its banks and exploring the countryside.

Dinner was at a pizzeria in a tiny neighboring village called Sherman, estimated population 700! With a dozen shops on Main Street, a couple of side streets lined with neat rows of houses, and huge working farms scattered all around the village, everyone knew everyone else in the restaurant we dined in – this was a fascinating side to America that I’d never seen before – an American ‘khede-gav’ (hamlet) so to speak.

We spent most of Saturday at the Preque Isle State Park on the banks of Lake Erie. A long walk and picnic lunch at a beautiful deserted beach, a ramble through some lovely nature trails with lots of colorful birds for company and some tandem bicycling fun towards the end made for a tiring but enjoyable day. We stopped by the nearby Lake Chautauqua, another beautiful ‘inner lake’, to take in more breathtaking vistas in the evening.

And to top it off, we ended our glorious vacation with a mostly enjoyable but occasionally scary horseback ride at a local farm on Sunday. The drive back home east was beautiful (a major chunk of which was along the picturesque Delaware river) if somewhat lonely, but I took advantage of the deserted interstate highway to try driving on a freeway for once.

All in all, I totally fell in love with the area as you might have gathered, and I would highly recommend it for a short weekend vacation during the off-peak season if

a) you live within a reasonable distance,
b) you are a nature lover,
c) you do not enjoy jostling with a hundred other people on your vacations and
d) you are looking for a nice place to relax and are NOT looking to cover ‘n’ points of attraction as part of your vacation!

Now if you are still reading and are still interested, here are some useful links to get you started. Enjoy!

Lake Findley
Preque Isle State Park
Lake Chautauqua
Double D.A.B. Riding Stables