Celebrations!

I realise I’ve really neglected this blog over the last year or two, so time to try and play catch up! First off, the Bean’s 6th birthday. She had just attended a dozen mermaid parties with fake curls, tiaras and mer-tails so she had that playing on her mind when she asked me for a party with mermaids. We chatted about it for a while and I broadened the scope to make it an underwater theme. Not being too committed to mermaids that suited her fine and we soon had a whole underwater theme going.

As luck would have it, I’d just ordered a box from Kukucrate (they make up theme based kits and you can subscribe to them for a funfilled month) for a trial and the theme for the month was Underwater! Such a stroke of luck. The night before the party was spent with the Bean, Brat, and a friend and her son helping me make decorations, wrap return gifts and generally organise things. One of the items in the Kukucrate box was thermocol half-globes that we painted and inserted pipe cleaners into, to make jellyfish. This we hung from a lampshade in the living room and it looked lovely.

Surprisingly I had a lot of blue cushions, blue curtains, blue table cloths and fish shaped tableware so the house was dressed up to suit the theme. We hung green and blue crepe paper cut into strips to look like seaweed and hung up strings of blue and green balloons which burst the moment we hung them in the garden. The children have outgrown their swimming tubes- a turtle and a something-or-the-other that I hung up in the garden. A basket of soft balls was given and the kids had to aim through the centre of the tube. Many of them got it and Cousin K and the OA who suddenly realised they were running out of gifts, began to up the ante. Began to shake the tube so that it was harder to aim at, the kids still got it. Then put the trampoline at the start line and began to make the kids jump on the trampoline while aiming, while Cousin K kept shaking the tube around.

It was hilarious fun and by the end the OA, Cousin K and one other mother who had stayed with her daughter and I, had collapsed in a heap, laughing. The kids of course loved the way the game got tougher and tougher and surprised us with their ability to keep up with it. I picked up some face painting crayons and made tattoos for the kids  – sea themed. I have to say the kids were rather gentle in the way they looked at my handiwork pityingly and said, ‘It’s not too bad, Aunty. You could be a great tattoo artist someday if you keep practising.’ Err, thank you. The OA manned a third corner where the kids were fishing for paper fish on paper clips, with magnets. This too was from the Kuku crate box and very popular with the kids. The fourth corner was a rug with crayons and sheets of sea themed animals for the kids to colour.

The cake was a two tier fresh strawberry cake with crabs and other sea creatures crawling all over it. Fantastic. A lot of the food fit the theme too. I opened up strawberry cream oreos and placed small white marshmallows in them to look like oysters, bought a small fish bowl and filled it with goldfish biscuits, cut a yellow capsicum and studded it with olives to look like an octopus and stuck it in a bowl of hung curd dip. Also had bowls of grapes and pomegranates. And one huge dish of sausages and another of popcorn that was a huge hit. The Bean had begged me with the world in her eyes for Maggi and so for the first time the banned item made it to my dining table in a huge fishy dish. I can’t tell you how funny it was to see the adults dig into it when they came to pick up their kids. I’d honestly imagined I’d be struck off their X’mas card lists.

For the first time this year I politely requested all parents to drop kids and pick them up. We usually like our parties full of kids, parents, a few cold beers and lots of fun. But increasingly I realise kids misbehave when their own parents are around. Left to our tender mercies they play according to rules, don’t push or fight and generally end up being far better behaved. The party ended with a few friends staying back for a drink, the kids sliding into a pile on the carpet and watching some TV and all of us polishing off the simply fantastic cake. Burp. 

Pictures now.

The octopus taking a dip

The octopus taking a dip

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A huge dish of Maggi with veggies, the oyster oreos, sausages, popcorn and goldfish in a bowl

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The jellyfish from the Kukucrate kit hanging from a lampshade

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Green and blue balloons and a turtle shaped swimming tube to aim balls through.

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The kids spent a pleasant few hours cutting out these sea creatures and colouring them. Then we stuck them on a ribbon. It is currently being used as a banner in the nursery.

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Some portions of the house that were in keeping with the blue/sea theme.

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The Kukucreate items that worked with our theme – jellyfish made of thermocol and pipecleaners, and the paper cutouts with clips to fish for with magnets.

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Was most thrilled to find a fishy cushion I’d picked up at Fabindia on a whim.

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For those who wanted to sit by the pool and chill.

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I have more fishy bowls than I realise!

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The tenth anniversary was supposed to be in Bora Bora. But then we had kids and I stayed home and we were wondering if we’d even be in a position to make it to Baroda. 😉 Anyhow, the plan is a convoluted one. A quick short trip with my parents to Orchha, on the weekend pre-anniversary, the day off for the OA and I to spend together in our pajamas and then go for a fancy dinner, on the anniversary. And a slightly delayed big holiday with the kids to Bangkok, again, to celebrate 10 years of being US. People did suggest we leave the kids and go, but as I’ve said often, my kids might be good for nothing else, but they’re fantastic travelers. And what are we celebrating at the end of these ten years if not our love and the product of that love.

It was not the best time on earth to go to Orchha but we’ve been wanting to do it for ages and as luck would have it, the weather was great – grey and a slight drizzle. The OA got me books, flowers, jewelry. I thought and thought and thought and finally thunked. I knew what to get a man who didn’t want anything else for his anniversary – a wife who would drive. Yep, I’ve begun to drive and it was quite useful because I’d barely done ten days when I found myself being shoved behind the Scorpio’s wheel while the OA went off to clear up a traffic jam on the highway. I was terrified as I took the wheel, but I guess there is something to being forged by fire. The kids were majorly tickled by seeing me drive and I guess the only thing left now is to not give up as I have before. It’s killing my knees, but I’m going to hang in there.

My parents joined us for the weekend and it was particularly significant for me because if they hadn’t supported us, it would have been just another quick court registry before we got on with life. They’re still quick to support us in our times of need, tell us off if we’re behaving idiotically and basically be the best support system anyone could have.

So, back to Orchha, we stayed in some lovely tents, visited the Orchha fort, went for the light and sound show, drove to Shivpuri and spent a day at the Madhav National Park  – sighted crocs, blue bull, deer, a variety of birds (all mostly spotted by the Brat even before the guide could open his mouth) and much more. Is it just me or are guides mostly picked for their ability to annoy and patronise? Even a lovely boat ride where we spotted more crocs and birds. Back at the hotel the kids spent a lot of time in the pool while I read a book in peace after a long time.

On the last day we drove into Jhansi and visited the Fort and also Rani Lakshmi Bai’s palace. An old lady sat at the door charging us Rs 2 for entry and taking the tickets back as we left, no doubt to charge someone else. A guide wandered around trying to educate us, mixing up fact with fiction and telling us that Aurangzeb died because Ma Kali appeared before him and scared him to death.

These were the greats of our country. For Rani Lakshmi Bai to do what she did, when she did, was commendable. And now her personal palace lies in ruins, the gardens overrun, a smelly toilet left open, paan stains in the corners and the rooms empty, covered in cobwebs, the building falling apart. So little is left of a life as magnificent as hers, what do you think will be left once we pass on? We don’t even have a legacy such as hers. No poems, no stories, nothing.

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s rousing poem (she happens to be from my part of the world!) on the warrior queen came rushing back to mind and even as I wandered around the decrepit building I felt the tears rush to my eyes. Khoob ladi mardaani woh toh Jhansi waali rani thi. I began to recite from memory to the kids, the OA joined in and my voice broke – we both looked away, embarrassed at how overwhelming it was.

It was a rushed trip, all this covered in a mere three days, including the drive. So much of this beautiful country left to see, so little time. And now, photos of the trip.

Different views of the Orchha Fort. Simply stunning.

Different views of the Orchha Fort. Simply stunning.

Because I couldn't take anymore stairs.

Because I couldn’t take anymore stairs.

The light and sound show at Orchha.

The light and sound show at Orchha.

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Can you spot me and the babies?

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The Bean admires the view from a jharokha.

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You can almost hear the sound of payals down this corridor.

Our hotel was built around ruins. The gardens were stunning.

Our hotel was built around ruins. The gardens were stunning.

A ruin right in the middle of the Madhav National Park.

A ruin right in the middle of the Madhav National Park.

The Bean falls asleep with my hat on her face, as we settle the hotel bill.

The Bean falls asleep with my hat on her face, as we settle the hotel bill.

The OA tries to make up for me not being able to take the stairs by describing everything to me. This is why I married him.

The OA tries to make up for me not being able to take the stairs by describing everything to me. This is why I married him.

Loved this train track running through Gwalior, people hopping on and off as though it were a bus.

Loved this train track running through Gwalior, people hopping on and off as though it were a bus.

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The aangan in Rani Lakshmi Bai's palace. I'd love to sit here with a book. I wonder if she ever got to enjoy it in peace.

The aangan in Rani Lakshmi Bai’s palace. I’d love to sit here with a book. I wonder if she ever got to enjoy it in peace.

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The Brat’s 8th birthday was one of the most rushed plans ever. I was supposed to be travelling on a shoot and back in time for his big day, but I was only coming back late night on the 4th and didn’t think I could get everything ready for the next day. So we planned for the next weekend. And then the shoot got cancelled and we decided to let him have the pleasure of his party on his birthday and everything had to be rushed forward by a week – crazy! We hadn’t thought of anything other than the cake and the rest were quickly thrown into place.

Now that the kids are old enough for organised games, we picked a version of Pin the tail, in this case, on a dino. The OA decided to draw a T-rex for his son and I was as usual, shocked by how good an artist he is. He is my favourite example of eldest son primed to become CEO and nothing less. Free of social pressures and patriarchy, this man who never picks up a pencil other than to teach his kids, would have been a good artist. If nothing else, the peace on his face when he sketches, says something. If I could give my husband one thing, it would be a fresh start. One where studies took a back seat to the many talents he has, be it art or cooking or sports. Anyhow, lest you think I’m a fond wife gushing, check this picture out. He drew it without erasing anything and then let the kids colour it.

The T-rex being sketched by the OA. The Brat coloured it after his father was done.

The T-rex being sketched by the OA. The Brat coloured it after his father was done.

I have become the official tattoo artist after the Bean’s party and have been painting themed tattoos for the kids. Most of them take one look at the tattoo I’ve made, shake their heads sadly at me as though – You poor deluded woman, you call yourself an artist? And then walk away without a word so as to not hurt my feelings. They all came back for seconds, thirds and face painting after a while.

The food was deviled eggs, pancakes, fruit, popcorn, sausages and Maggi – again, since the Bean had asked for it, the Brat had to, too. We made little signs and stuck them on ice cream sticks that were dug into lumps of Plasticine – saying Carnivorous and Herbivorous to mark out veg and non-veg food. We also made up funny names for the rest like Primordial Slime, for the Maggi and Oviraptor Eggs for the devilled eggs. The kids had a lovely time and the OA and I actually finished cleaning, sweeping and swabbing the floor by 9 pm and got into bed in time to watch a few episodes of our latest obsession – Homeland. The Brat got an insane number of books, most of them on animals; clearly his friends know him well. 🙂

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The OA working on his masterpiece.

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We moved pots around to create a jungle entrance to our place.

We moved pots around to create a jungle entrance to our place.

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The OA’s T-rex fruit salad is almost ready. We added some pineapple and mango to the watermelon.

'Oviraptor' eggs!

‘Oviraptor’ eggs!

Pancakes

Pancakes shaped like dinos, with marshmallow eyes. These were a hit. 

The cake was fresh mango and sprinkled with cocoa powder. The fossil was fondant.

The cake was fresh mango and sprinkled with cocoa powder. The fossil was fondant.

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Some need a little help with conquering the ferocious T-rex.

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G’pa gets in on the action while a bunch of pint sized contestants distract him!

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61 thoughts on “Celebrations!

  1. AAAAAND, shes back!
    MM, its like the old days again. This was such fun. Iv missed the mundane but oh so fun updates around here 🙂

      • Mundane is so good 🙂 in the comfort of habit, old time, nothing changes. Yadayada. Dont yank so much no?!

        Anyhoo i owe you one for bringing the old times back here. Wait for it. Surprise coming up later today.

      • R is right here 🙂
        It was I who called you guys ‘blog finds’ though, so this evens out? :p
        ‘The Bean had begged me with the world in her eyes for Maggi’ – turned me into a pile of mush. That child.
        I loved this post too. Last week, I had gone back to read some of the old Birthday posts and the 5th bday post of the Brat’s left me so happy!
        I love your kids. Much, much love.

    • Phew. At least someone thinks I’m great and not the OA 😉
      Kidding. It’s hardly wannabe – I’m unworthy of anyone’s emulation. 🙂 But thanks anyway.

  2. Such fun times. And you did so much. Must’ve been exhausting. And who wouldn’t like maggie 😛 Loved OA’s drawing skills, and he cooks and plays sport too!. Once again, ‘you lucky woman’ 🙂 Happy birthday to both the kids.

    • Strangely it was not as tiring as I’d thought it would be. We adults worry so much about things going wrong. But kids won’t even notice if something is not up to ‘our’ standards. They’ll have fun anyway.

  3. You really are back! Yay!!

    And as for the others, pfft… Short posts, no pictures, no mush, very little gush. Where else were we supposed to get our quota of cheese, if not for you! 😛

    I kid, I kid… You know how much I love your long posts, full of little details. Their my favourit-est kind of posts on your blog. More pliss?

    • Came back to say if your going to Bangkok, you must take the kids to Safari World. They’ll love it and the Brat will have a chance to feed a tiger cub from a bottle of milk. Also, I’ve heard the Tiger Temple is pretty good as well from friends who’ve been, but I’d read about animal rights issues with the place.

      Anyway, now that I’ve given you my unsolicited two cents, I’ll be off again. Toodle!

  4. Oh, I’ve missed such posts from you, MM! Much love, yet again. And, of course, kaalka teeka at all the beauty and kickass planning/decorations and mush overflowing in this post.

  5. What a talented family! You make everything look so easy…:)
    Your kids are very lucky to have you and OA for parents 🙂

    • As lucky as we are to have them. 🙂
      I don’t mean to make it look easy. I think it helps that I expect it to be work. That’s what we all signed up for with parenthood, right? 😉

      • Yes indeed! They are the most adorable kids:) Yes parenting is indeed hardwork but you do it with such flair that it appears easy 😀

  6. You inspire me to be a cool momma . Right now my little daughter is “only love for daddy”. I like your ideas on getting kids involved in crafts.

  7. Lovely MM..I have already seen most of these pics on Instagram but thanks for the detailed descriptions here. Will definitely steal some ideas- having a daughter who is crazy about animals means I will need these! Her 3rd bday is this weekend and she is mad about cats…couldn’t find a cat themed cake so switched to Hello Kitty instead. Before we knew it, the plans were taken over by pink!!!!! I have included a few purples in the theme as well to avoid making it look too princessy. Lets see how it all turns out. Been up most nights for a week preparing for the bday – making decorations, banners, planning snacks, packing goodie bags – whew!

    • I’m sure you wouldn’t. 🙂 I think the idea is to not get stressed out. I had about 10 ideas. I executed about 5. No one needs to know I didn’t complete everything I planned! 😉

  8. Loved, loved your party planning and executing. Btw big fan of Homeland. Is Claire Danes insanely talented or what? Do a post on TV shows too na…such fun we will have 🙂
    PS – your comment about guides reminded me of a long ago trip to Kabini Park in Mysore. I had taken my parents as a treat and then this obnoxious, patronizing guide went on and on and on…and sucked the fun right out.

      • You do!! I took one look at Brody’s red hair and scratched him off my list. Dexter on the other hand…that voice alone is enough!

        • Actually its his voice that annoys me. I think I just feel sympathy for his situation. Which slowly grew into some form of affection. You’re right. I should take him right off my list.

  9. Oh you should come to malaysia! It has everything for everyone. You can just chill in the capital city and go shopping/go eating/visit landmarks or you can go to the interiors and really enjoy the beauty of nature. I haven’t been outside the capital for a while but I remember wondering at the contrast between the cities and the countryside-even the people seem like they’re from a different country.
    Plus noone walks anywhere,so your knees won’t hurt!!

  10. Wow! you are back n how… “I realise I’ve really neglected this blog over the last year or two, so time to try and play catch up! ” … now please keep your promise and treat us with such lovely posts frequently.
    On the birthday decor and the way food was presented, hats off to you lady…I really admire you for all your energy, enthusiasm and the way you try to celebrate by balancing kids wishes and your principles. You encourage me a lot..

    • 🙂 Thank you. that’s a lot of nice stuff in one comment!
      I don’t know if I will be able to keep up the posting. I just got a sudden surge of energy. Here’s praying it stays.

  11. First things first. You have a lovely home 🙂

    Secondly, that’s two fabulously arranged parties. Good food, good themes, and well designed keeping in mind that the target people are kids 🙂

    politely requested all parents to drop kids and pick them up
    After the kids grow up a bit, this is the best. Mainly because the focus remains on the kids and its easier to handle them that way.

    Looks like you’ve had a lovely trip. Now, what about that Bangkok holiday?

    • 🙂 So Bangkok holiday is after 2 weeks.

      The kids btw, are always happy to stay without their parents. It’s the parents who want to hang around. Now that we’ve established some ground rules, I think future parties will be easier. There are a lot of younger siblings who can’t stay alone. But now we’ve had 2 and 3 year olds stay back, there shouldn’t be a prob.

  12. Amazingly creative birthday parties MM. You downplay the work involved. From the looks and description of it, you must have slogged your butt off. Respect!

    • I don’t mean to downplay the work. I think the fact is one *expects* to do that much work at least, no? Most of our generation have got used to booking a place, arriving with the guests and leaving with them. No harm doing that either, if that is what floats your boat. But my kids love that their parties are different to the usual McDonalds and Pizza Hut ones. And I don’t know how many more years they will want to have them at home with us. May as well make the most of this and build some memories 🙂

        • It’s true, no? I even get the grandparents to come down for parties when they can get away from work. Right now the highlight of a child’s birthday is to have their grandparents cut the cake with them. In 5 years time they may not care so much. So lets all make the most of the time we have together, and have no regrets. Sorry for tugging at them ol’ heartstrings. 🙂

  13. Have been reading ur blog since long and this is my second comment here, love all the decorations and party ideas you did for the kids, too good.. I had to comment this time..

  14. Wow, wow, wow. I have never been to a theme-based birthday party, so your pics and description amazed me. You make it all sound so simple. I am sure setting it all up would have been quite an uphill task! 🙂

  15. Lovely pictures and a lovely post as usual!! Looks like a grand time was had by all, the food looked great, I’m sure you had no leftovers.

    Speaking of holidays, I plan to be home in July/August and wanted to take DD to Mudhumalai tiger reserve. I have no clue what the place is like, having never been there before. Have you been, or do you know of anyone who’s been there before? I’d like to get a first hand account if possible. DD’s animal crazy and I was hoping the trip will enable her to see a little bit of the local wildlife.

    Meanwhile, enjoy Bangkok!!.

  16. So good to catch up, MM. One wee thing: there is a one story of the Rani of Jhansi that should be out soon on an iPad app. I wrote it. 😳

  17. LOVE this. i dont even have kids yet and im already planning their bday party in my mind looking at these pics. well done MM.

  18. Had been missing this side of the mad momma for a long time 🙂 Loved the post and all the celebrations you had! You sure are inspiring. How do you manage to hit it spot on with the themes? Super genuis 😀

  19. WOW !! you raise kids and have a family with such panache. Loved the pictures and its such a refreshing change from the plastic princess and professionally organised parties. My friend’s son’s first year birthday was celebrated in a fancy hotel with an MC, all the games were aimed at the adults, and there was a recorded version of the happy birthday song. The kids were asked not to sing !
    I have been treading around, slowly playing with the idea of marriage and family for a while now, every now and then, but I always put them in a box and push them away for another day. I think your blog is going to do the trick and one day I am going to be so inspired that I am going to shock everyone and say yes !!!!!!!!! and then have babies too.

    PS. I think my mom already loves you

    • I won’t be surprised if you actually say yes! It’s MM’s blog that helped me focus on having a baby even when all good doctors shook their heads. She keeps you going, she does!

  20. What??? The Brat is 8 and Baby Bean is 6??!! But, but, Baby Bean used to be so wee, a bean, really. Boohooo, time doth pass too fast! Sounds like you’re having a fun ride, though, MM!

  21. My ‘favourit-est’ line from this post is – If I could give my husband one thing, it would be a fresh start. It’s so full of tender love. OA is one lucky husband.

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