Hello again!

Wow, I cannot believe that it’s been over 2 years since I last posted! So much has happened since then. I last posted less than a few weeks after I had a minor surgery. There were some complications, after which I began a full time job for which I had interviewed a month before my previous post, then, we moved cross-continent, to a different country, had a new baby N… In the midst of all of this, M broke her leg and was in a non-weight bearing full leg cast for 5 weeks. Did I mention that I was about 7 months pregnant then? That was fun! How did we manage at home? Why, we got a stroller! And the poor darling figured out a way to get in and out of bed and in and out of the stroller by herself. I told her never to do so without my presence, so that I could hold things like chair and stroller steady for her. We were instructed not to let her fall under any circumstances. Despite all care, she did take 2 or 3 spills, sadly.

Phew! My mother, who came to help out with the new baby, will be leaving soon and I’ll be in charge of meals. I haven’t begun a job here yet, as we knew about N by the time we moved. That does help time management but is it ever easy with small children? I intend to make it easy-er. I looked and I looked for freezer cooking for Indian dishes and vegetarian dishes (that we eat) in general, but I just cannot find much. I hit upon an idea…why don’t I figure it out myself? When we went to the hospital for N’s birth, I didn’t want my mother and M to be cooking at home. At least not more than rice and plain dal. So, starting about a month before due date, we started freezing pre-made meals. We froze various kinds of curries, south and North Indian, we froze sambar, we froze pulusu/kuzhambu… The trick is to thaw quickly, for sambar and pulusu. Otherwise, the texture becomes funny. Still edible but It looks like mush.

I could do this again now – my mother plans to stock our freezer up – but at some point, I have to begin. I would prefer to freeze prepped meals just before cooking because it is faster.

You see, I had been trying to find recipes for freezing ingredients for use in the slow cooker. But what is wrong with doing the same with the pressure cooker??? But of course! There are recipes galore for one pot pressure cooking! Even my own! As I make a method up, I’ll post it. Followed a few days or weeks later, by an update which says how it worked post-thaw.

I’ll begin with lentil soup, sambar, chole. I could cook and freeze but I’d prefer to eat out of cooking vessels and not out of Tupperware. For the illusion of fresh-cooked food… So, I’d like to prep enough to make it a dump into pressure/slow cooker on the go dish, but not so much that I have to spend a lot of time beyond cutting vegetables. Let us see how it works out.

Stay tuned!

Natural and Organic in Montreal

My friend H visited us recently. She stayed with M and me while R was traveling. She noticed that I had some strange (to her) products and asked where I buy them. She specifically wanted to know about the toothpaste. Luckily, I bought a few last time and had one to give her to take home. As well, she got to take her bar soap home, like from any good B&B🙂. Although she went to work from here, she said that she felt like she was on a holiday, which I was very happy to hear. Hope we meet more often, H!

I intended to send her an email listing where I buy various products. I do get asked this questions by other Montrealers too. So, here goes. This post goes out to all of my dear friends here. To you! And to yours! A description of various stores. I am thrifty. Walk as much as possible to avoid unnecessary spending. (For the record, R thinks that I am crazy. Why not just take public transport if I think driving or taking a cab when not needed is environmentally unfriendly? Bah, who wants to wait for the bus or go down multiple escalators to get to the metro system!) But I do spend a lot on things that go on or in my family.

Now for the stores…I’ll write about what I find in each store in a later post. I want to make an easy-to-refer-to table of sorts. Maybe make my savvy husband fix one up. He’s really good at that. They look a lot better than what I can get PowerPoint to do for me.

Le Frigo Vert, Centre Ville.

My first destination when I want to buy anything for personal care or for food is this Concordia University student co-op. Almost fully organic. All Concordia students are automatically members but one can also buy membership for C$20 per year. More than worth it. Non-members pay a 20% premium on products. Plenty of bulk bins for beans, flours, etc. Vegetables come in on Tuesdays. Vegetable selection is small. Local handmade snack items are available. It is open Monday-Thursday, 12-7 pm. Not open this week for some reason. Annual vacation, I suppose? Didn’t ask. Was busy buying the store out🙂. Has some baby products and also organic and eco-friendly feminine products.

L’Autre Choix Mini Marche, Westmount.

The other choice.

Clara, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable about her products. Very helpful. She tries to bring in as many local products as possible. Almost fully organic. I believe the store is open 7 days a week. The store is a drop-off point for a few CSAs. The best part? She used to tell me not to waste anything upon seeing how much I buy. She once told me that she’d rather I buy less and use it all than that I buy a lot and waste anything. That is one kind of an ethical store I can get on board with. She stopped saying this to me now that she knows my eating habits🙂. Which reminds me that I forgot to call in an order for milk. BRB. I am back. Where were we? Yeah. Milk. No. Eating habits. She has figured out that I am crazy like that. I think she is on board with that too🙂. Doesn’t have products specifically intended for babies but has frozen organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t currently buy anything for a baby.

Ecollegey, NDG. New store in Plateau too. Not visited it yet.

Also mostly organic. Delivers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It isn’t very convenient for me to go there on a bus. But I do like this store too. Delivery is free if you spend >C$80. Cost comparison with the one above? I am not a comparison shopper when it comes to food. I prefer to find something healthy and convenient. That I can sustain week after week or month after month, as the case may be. When I want/need things delivered and if I can get the total above 80, I go for this. I lean more towards the store above however, as I like to encourage a relatively new, small, and good business. Ecollegey has baby-specific products like cereals, wipes, natural and organic body wash…

Couffin Bio, Centre Ville.

Quite a selection of organic and natural products. I was told that all of their produce is organic 2 years ago. I used to go there more before I discovered Clara’s store above. Clara has a much bigger selection of fruits and vegetables, I think. Couffin Bio carries organic baby supplies. Definitely explore it if you get a chance.

Boutique Bummis, Plateau.

Baby supplies and mama supplies. I used their organic cotton prefold-PUL cover diapering kits on M. Excellent customer service. Hosts various meetings like baby wearing support groups. I don’t know what other classes they have. They are very helpful. So, a phone call will tell you what other sessions they host. Focuses on Canadian-made products.

Update: The store is now, closed. But their products are available online at bummis.com

Melons & Clementines, NDG.

Nursing and other mama supplies, baby supplies. Also rents rooms out for various parenting classes and even a baby music class. Much more. I took their Infant and Child CPR class. Also, great customer service. Has a cafe and a play area for children. Parents or sitters have to watch over the little ones. No babysitting service from the store, as far as I know.

PA Supermarche, Centre Ville. More stores elsewhere. See links.

PA does not need introduction for downtowners. Mostly not organic. Has organic milk and eggs, Inewa organic sourdough bread, organic L’Ancetre hard cheeses and butter, sprouted grain or other organic cereals, Bob’s Red Mill or other gluten-free foods which were handy when M had wheat intolerance as a baby. Best part? Willing to order new products and see if there is sufficient interest among their clientele. Lowest prices of all super markets. Many employees milling around to get help finding products, especially during the day. Very busy store. When M had a dairy intolerance, they ordered calcium-fortified coconut milk drink when I requested it. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well. They pulled it out. They do have other products from the same company. Can’t say that I myself liked the coconut milk too much but I religiously bought and used it as long as they had it in stock. Calcium-fortified drinks make me feel like I have arthritis. No. Not exaggerating but that is a topic for perhaps a future post.

Provigo, all over the city.

Has some organic fruits and dairy. Dairy is more expensive than at PA.

Marche Victoria, near Plamondon Metro Station. On Victoria.

Indian (South Asian) store with best selection of Indian vegetables in town. Gets vegetable supply in on every Thursday, mid-morning. Has most Indian food basics. Con. Narrow aisles. Difficult to maneuver with stroller or even walking toddler. I don’t attempt to go there alone with M. Very difficult to keep her out of the way of other shoppers. Pro. Inexpensive food.

Marche Jolee, near Cote Sainte Catherine Metro Station, also on Victoria.

Indian (South Asian) store. Also has vegetables. Smaller selection of Indian vegetables, I feel. Easier to find South Indian foods there. Biggest positive surprise. They have frozen mango leaves. What for? If you don’t already know, you don’t need to know. Really. Trust me on this. What other surprises do they have in store (pun intended)? I wonder.

“I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder. 
 I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder.”

A joke from farewell party to the graduating class during my second year of undergrad study. Apparently, I used the phrase “I wonder” a lot, at one point. SD wrote this… couplet(?) for me. I think we had to guess whom the couplet referred to.

Pharmacie Jean Coutu, everywhere in the city.

Has several organic personal care products. Prices tend to be cheaper than Pharmaprix. Somehow has a better selection of products too. Both stores have Dora and Diego toothbrushes. Very important for M er… Me🙂.

I think that is about it. This is not to imply that if I am in the vicinity of a store from which I can find something I need in a hurry, I won’t buy it. But I don’t look around. I have looked around enough, don’t you think?

There are other stores and businesses that offer similar services to ones I name above. But I am only focusing on stores with food and personal care products. Other services I mention are incidental to the focus of this post.

Disclaimer: These are strictly my opinions and impressions. No business asked me to write this, much less paid me for it. I am writing this for my friends and anyone else who is interested.

Introducing…Life is Science

When my 3-year old wants to be entertained, her go to “game” is a story involving her and all of her favourite and made up characters. For instance, Ullu Aunty (Aunt of the Owl in Winnie the Pooh) doesn’t like brushing her teeth, clipping her nails… general hygiene. As a result, the dentist warns her about tooth decay and at one point even has her tooth pulled out. Long nails once scratched Winnie the Pooh and “stuff and fluff” came out of his seams. Now, even though she doesn’t like it, she cuts her nails to protect her friends from getting hurt. M goes on adventures with Dora and Boots and for them to cross Grumpy Old Troll Bridge, they rely on M to solve the riddle. Usually, a simple spelling or addition. When crossing the bridge is at stake, the answers come tumbling out of M. Out of a Dora story context, any number plus any other is usually six, with a grin. A kitten grows up to become a C-P-T or some such. When the stakes are raised, read – to cross the bridge – the answers magically transform into what are generally accepted as correct.

Her new obsession is writing (or drawing as she calls it) and her words usually look like ECG traces. Speaking of traces, she can trace letters but cannot copy them too well. I asked friends in India to send me syllabi of their children’s age 3-4 class, to figure out what I can teach her. Unfortunately, she looks to be more interested in learning biology and physics than what sounds more appropriate for her age. So, I decided, so be it. I want her to enjoy the process of learning new things. When she becomes interested in learning to write, not just writing itself, she’ll get there. For now, I am going to do simple experiments with her, for her to observe phenomena around her. Not that she knows the word phenomena. I am not that much of a geek. But she does know that the circulatory system involves the heart and that the dag-dag of the heart can be felt at the carotid artery. There’s some tickling fun built into finding her pulse🙂.

This is the Mother Ship Geek Scientist. These are our adventures.

Sustainability – Course of Action

If everyone can take that one extra step, walk that one extra mile, give that one extra smile, we can make this earth’s resources last longer and live happier.

This earth, the one planet we have. This earth, that the children of today and their children’s children and their great…..great grandchildren will inherit.

 

In our mad rush to clean up our own homes, let us not litter the world more. Less paper towels, more reusable cloth, less plastic diapers, more reusable cloth, more recycling or upcycling or disposing of products that one cannot upcycle on one’s own, responsibly. Look up your local resources.***

 

Sustainability.

 

I signed up for a class on Sustainability on Coursera that starts on Monday. I hope to take away a lot from this course. Won’t you join me as my classmate? It’s free and all you have to pay is your hard work.

 

 

Linked below is a freely downloadable textbook for the course. Won’t you read it with me? Or on your own time?

 

 

***I could even say more composting but that would be hypocritical. I wish I could figure out a way to store compostables for a few days at a time without all kinds of insects or those little flying black things getting into everything in our apartment. Any ideas, anyone? What I need is a compost genie like the diaper genie.

Toddler Independence.

Post from about a month ago.

My daughter posted when she was about to turn two. Now, it is two months past that and she wants to do more and more on her own. My, mine, own, self, are constant refrains around the Wee household.

We're waiting for friends to arrive for breakfast at our favorite bagel place in our neighborhood. As we wait, M started eating her bagel with peanut butter ("on her own"), her all time favorite combination. Well, current, at any rate. As she finished and got up to go for a walk with her father, an older gentleman two tables over said, "Enjoy this stage while it lasts because before you know it, she'll be asking for your car keys."

Before I know it, my little girl will become an independent young woman. I'll enjoy this time when she wants to "help" me with everything at home. As she hangs on to the mop stick in an effort to hinder – I mean- help me, I'll enjoy the time we spend trying to mop. As she holds the hanger for me to hang shirts on, when she tucks in the bedspread for me, when she "mixes" ingredients for me, I'll teach her the importance of learning to become independent as well as of teamwork. If need be, she should be independent, if need be, she should be a good team player. These are her little steps towards becoming that independent young woman who understands the need to be a good part of a team when the time comes.

I turn 2 soon!

Yes, in India, giving birth is considered a re-birth for the woman, the mother.

But this post isn't from me as a mother.

It is a blog hijacking by my daughter. I have created a blog for her, but she insists on using mine. I'll let her take over.

I was only 1 last year. If all of you don't know, that is pretty young. Really, how would YOU know! You aren't one! I know in all of my 2 year old wisdom that when I see one year olds – no not the upper ones but the lower ones – that they're small babies. You see, I now know that I am a BIG baby. My mother keeps trying to tell me that I am a toddler now, and not too big one at that, but why would I want to go from being a big baby to a small anything, pray may I know? I'll call myself a big baby, thank you very much!

I'm here to tell you what it was that I didn't know a year ago and what these one year olds have no clue about.

Now I know my A-B-Cs. (Or does she?)

Ay-Bee-Cee-Dee-Ee-n-Gee-Hach-Ai-Jay-Kay-LiMiNOP-KooRRRa-eS-T-oo-and-Vee-dabaloo-iX and Y and Zeeeeeeeee. Next Time Know my A-B-Cs.

That is how my song goes.

I know 2 little songs in my father's mother tongue.

One in my mother's.

I know most of the common English rhymes. I even make them more interesting with my twists in them.

For instance:

Incy Wincy Spider Up A Water Spout
Down Came a Rain and Washed the Spout

I can say "NO". I can act it out too.

You want to know how, you say? I did tell my mother to leave my clothes alone, I am a big baby. I can handle this. Who cares if both of my legs sometimes end up in one leg of the pants or if they are on backwards? Will she listen? She sneakily puts them on me. What is a big baby to do! Just what any self-respecting big baby would. Lull her into a false sense of security and at the critical juncture between putting them on and pulling them up, pull them right off, run away with them, and do it MY way. It is My way or My way. No, highway doesn't appeal to me. My way or My way, it is!

I can speak in full sentences.

Why, I can string sentences together. My favourite? "I don't want it. Keep it back". Or a variation on the same theme – "I need it. Give it to me". Will someone explain to me who this please is? Why do I have to ask him or her for everything I want? "Give it to me, please!" Is it not enough to say, "Give it to me, Amma"? After all, she is the one who gives things. I'll have to please this please person.

I know that we "need to buy it first" before I can start playing with or eating things in a store. 

I can argue with my family, most notably, with my grandfather. He has a problem with my dumping my blocks on the floor. Isn't that how we play with them, before building the blocks up, I mean? Yes, I do want to play with them. In about 6 hours from the time I scattered them on the floor. I like to prepare well in advance. I thought that was a good thing. Don't know what the poorly timed clean-ups are about. Incorrigible adults!

Alpha-Beta-Gamma-Delta-Epilion That's a series of something.

As is Aidrogen-Eelium-Lithium-Berrilium-Borron-Carrbon.

And Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Da-Ni-Sa.

Oh yes, the best series of all – 1-2-3- and so on. I thought I knew them all. And then one day, Appa sprung a surprise on me. He started singing a song of numbers. And he kept going even after he reached twenty-five! Imagine my surprise when he went on and on! Amma must have been just as shocked but she didn't show it. (Yes, darling, there are infinite number of numbers, really).

I saved the best for the last – I met ALL of my cousins, aunts and uncles in the past year, along with my grandparents. You see, there is one that I haven't met yet, and guess what! I am eagerly looking forward to seeing a "veiy veiy small baby" cousin. But if I wait for baby to arrive to post this, I cannot in good conscience, claim that I have met all of my family at the time of this post. I have seen the tummy where that baby is hiding, so that counts for now! That is why, I am releasing this post in advance.

– An almost 2 year old.

PS: I love that my brand new cousin already knows about hide and seek, She's hiding now, but we'll seek her out soon, Or he and him.

Happy Almost Birthday to You, Big Baby! – Amma and Appa.

Our no cry sleep solution takes a turn

If you're a mother, you've probably heard of Sleep Theories 101. And no, I don't mean an introductory course on sleep theories. I literally mean 101 theories of sleep that are floating around the world. In the ethernet, word of mouth, magazines.

Parenting is so fraught with disagreements. "Experts" disagree more than they agree on a topic. But one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that children need to sleep. (Don't we all! But apparently, parents shouldn't, if some babies have any say in the matter). How this state of sleep should be entered into – ah! Careful now! Dangerous waters ahead! I never knew that so much controversy existed about a simple human need. Sleep. Nor so much struggle.

Parent A: Put the child in the crib and let it find its way to sleep. It needs to learn.

Parent B: How cruel! One must always parent the child to sleep. Whether by nursing or by rocking, singing, dancing, standing upside down… And every nighttime whimper attended to.

C: Co-sleeping is the best. D: NO! It is soooo bad! Crib, crib, all the way.

Somewhere in between lie the other 99 theories.

Me? I pick what I can use, discard what I cannot, and store what I may consider. Works well.

So, co-sleeping for us. With occasional but increasingly regular attempts at crib use. For she now kicks.

Lately, she's been falling asleep on her own, with one of us (read, me), lying down next to her. Knock on all the wood in the world that her sleep situation only improves.

Today, she was trying to sleep, and one of her sleep positions to try, is with her face on my face or worse, her feet on my face. It was her face today, no problem. Here I was, enjoying my baby's sweet hug… ignoring the pile of socks sitting at the foot of the bed, waiting to be sorted… drinking in the sweetness of the moment… until…

THWACK!!

She is asleep. And I still have those socks to sort.

Note to self: Baby's heads can give you a swollen lip.

Note 2 to self: Go check on it before blogging about it.