9 months old.

She’s 3 months away from being a whole year.  She laughs out loud, and she cries out loud.  She’s begun pointing — as in pointing at the random woman at the supermarket.  She waves hello, and waves goodbye.  She also shakes her finger at people as if to say, “no, no.”  She continues to be super playful.  When we say “no” to her, she puts her head on the ground, face down, and cries (I secretly think it’s adorable).  She’s phasing out of her signature army crawl, and has now begun crawling on her knees.

Dhara loves her yellow felt bird, which we endearingly call, “Birdie” — yes, like in the movie E.T.  We’ve even heard her say “Birdie” a few times.  She can crawl around with Birdie tightly gripped in her small hand for hours.  Sometimes if we don’t see her with it, we ask her, “Where’s Birdie?”, she’ll look around, and finally become distraught when she realizes she doesn’t have it.  It’s really just too cute.

She gives extravagant hugs, and a multitude of kisses.  Sometimes in the mornings she’ll give her daddy a kiss, and then turn over to me and give me a kiss — and then she’ll start all over again.  Oh Lord, may she always love extravagantly!

[I thought I would take these photos outside in the newly fall weather amidst the wildflowers, which as you can see are preparing for hibernation.]

8 months old.

Our wee one is quickly growing up.  She’s in her eighth month and she’s in full baby swing.  She loves giving kisses — “ummas” in my native language of Malayalam.  She also greets most people by raising her arms/hands high up in the air — (signifying, “hallelujah!”) — it’s something my dear mom has been teaching her for a couple months now during family prayer, but Dhara has taken it to the next level and uses it as a greeting as well.

Baby talk is hilarious.  She rolls her tongue in the cutest manner when she talks — I wish I could do the same when I speak — it probably wouldn’t be as cute though. She says “mama” and “dada”, and she also says “bay bee” for baby.  My sister, Becky (aka Zuma), has sworn she’s heard the babers say “Bec-kee” on numerous occasions.  Other than those few words, the rest is a dialect I don’t understand, but truly wished I did.

She’s crawling all over the place.  I love seeing her on the kitchen floor — there’s just something so domestic about it — it warms my heart.  On the other hand, she loves licking the kitchen floor.  She’s pulling herself up these days — it started last week when she pulled herself up onto her first step — since then she’s been taking tiny cruiser footsteps along steps, couches, and coffee tables.

Dhara also seems to have formed preferences in the last month.  If she doesn’t want a bottle she’ll swat it away.  Or if she doesn’t want a bite of her mama’s sugar snap peas, she’ll swat it away and look intently to see your response to the food that just fell from the spoon because of her swat.  Hmmm…what to do, what to do.  How do you discipline an 8 month old?

As you can see, our baby discovered “the serious face.”  She’s been using it quite often in the last couple weeks.  Also, as a side note, the muumuu dress is from her Zuma Aunty.  I told Zuma it looks like a 70’s muumuu, but Zuma insisted she wear it for this shoot.  It makes her look like she should be on the old sitcom, Three’s Company.  Also, as another side note, it may look like my 8 month old baby is standing on a chair by herself, but what you can’t see is my sister waiting to catch her just on the other side.  : )

7 months old.

dhara wearing a beautiful cotton gauze Ethiopian dress that gifty aunty picked up on her travels to Africa

She is so much fun.  I love my baby girl.  Greg and I always say, “we’re so glad we got this one.”  Thank you, Jesus!  This one being a little cherub baby in disguise.  This little cherub has got everyone’s attention here in our household.  When each person here comes home from work, the first question they ask is, “where is Dhara?!”  Her Josh Uncle cares little about what we think of him, he comes straight to our bedroom door, taps lightly, but purposefully, and says, “can I hold Baby?”.

She really is alot of fun.  She loves fun.  She loves people and being with people.  She’s also a very loving little person.  I love it when she holds my face to give me one of her special open mouth (slobbery) kisses.  She’s like a puppy — joyful, so very curious, and loves it when we play with her.  I personally love to hold her close so I can squeeze her and give her kisses upon kisses.

Dhara started army crawling around 6.5 months, which means we’re constantly keeping an eye out for her lest she put shoes in her mouth, fall down the steps, or bump her head somewhere — feels like the list is endless.  She’s quite fast.  And everything goes into her mouth.

She’s begun saying “mamamamamama”, but only when she cries.  A part of me loves the fact that she only wants me when she’s sad.  She still snuggles close to us when we lay next to her to put her to sleep.  Although before falling asleep, she is all over the bed, rolling this way and that, until she rolls back to us, and nods off to dreamworld.  It’s quite sweet.

no, she’s not standing on her own yet, she’s being held up

She started clapping her hands last month.  She claps especially when we sing, “Oh, clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph! Clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto God with a voice of praise!” She loves music, and looks intently at the source of it, and then looks up at me and smiles.  My mom talks to her in Malayalam (our native language) and asks her to clap her hands.  Our little bilingual baby, or soon to be bilingual, knows exactly what to do.

the dress came with a scarf — like it as a headpiece?

or as a diaper cover?

a summer garden party for dhara.

[As I begin to type, the loveliest summer rain is coming down on the rooftop of me and my household.  And a much needed rain it is.] Oh lordy, did I have the busiest week ever!  At least in a long, long while.  So much I wanted to post about this past week, but couldn’t — Father’s Day, my parent’s 30th anniversary, berry picking at a nearby farm for blueberry lemonade and fruit tarts and a blackberry pie for the garden party (and beets for Dhara’s dinner), sewing 30 feet of colorful bunting (absolutely loved this!), and a fun trip to the well-known Georgetown Cupcake for a couple dozen lovely cupcakes.  All are half written posts saved for a later date.  Hopefully I can catch up with photos and posts later this week.

But the garden party!  Ohhh, the wonderful garden party!  It was a beautiful time.  It really was.  Planning a detailed party is no small feat.  I should have remembered this after planning our wedding a couple years ago.  Dhara’s half birthday turned out splendidly.  It took place in the woods behind our home.  We used our own furniture to create a room of sorts in the woods.  It felt cozy and enclosed as we celebrated in a cove surrounded by trees.

It also turned out to be a beautiful sunny morning with a cool breeze and not an ounce of humidity — our prayers were faithfully answered by a Faithful Father who always knows the desires of our hearts.  (Who would have wanted to sit outside in 100 degree weather like it was the entire week leading up to the party?)  Enough said, here is the summer garden party we had for Dhara’s half [6 month] birthday through an array of photographs…

Greg sitting in the background enjoying his handiwork before the party begins.

Lovely flowers — creamy whites, the palest pinks, lots of greens, and some purple.

Setting up.

Place settings made up of a hodgepodge of whimsical cloth napkins, wooden utensils, vintage-styled paper straws, and potted plants with small handmade flags that had each girlie’s name written across the back.

Greg constructed a couple of these floral stakes with a strong branch, a glass milk bottle, and some twine.  I love them!

I just might make another one of these bunting flags just for the heck of it!  I enjoyed how precise of a project it was.  I used a different fabric piece for each side of each flag.  There is something so homey about using different scraps — kind of like a scrappy quilt.

Let the party begin…

Rachel and Dhara.  Also, seventeen different flavors of Georgetown Cupcakes!  Sooo good!

Hannah, Aparna and Macy.

Sue and Zoey Madison.

Cucumber Mint Cilantro Tea Sandwiches (thanks to Rohini for the tasty recipe!) + Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches.

My sewing supply table topped with red velvet cupcakes in a jar favors with handmade sewn tags and a strawberry cake.

Aparna and Lakshmi.

My sweet Dhara in a vintage white voile dress.  I love my little girl in voile.

Freshly squeezed lemonade made by my husband and freshly brewed sweet tea.

My sister, Rebecca, and Dhara.

My aunt, Rachel, and Dhara.

Sonia and Kristen.

Grandma playing with Dhara.

Carrie and Macy.

Diana and Shreya.

Dhara’s Aunt Beth and Grandma Sandy.

Dhara’s Ammachi having a grand ol’ time.

Darling little Shreya.

Kristen, the little pixie.

To end the afternoon, everyone gathered around the high chair as we gave Dhara a cupcake to do with what she pleased.  We all watched as this little munchkin explored her cupcake, making a fun mess in the process.  She dissected it layer by layer, all the while not knowing that she could eat it until the very end when most of the cupcake was on the ground and she finally stuck her finger in her mouth and tasted the creamy frosting.

I can’t believe she’s 6 months old.  [Sigh.]

Our morning brunch was such a pleasant and fun experience, I can’t wait to do it again next year!  Although I know I can be more organized next time.  I shouldn’t have been sewing bunting the night before the party!  Or only getting two hours of sleep because there were still so many details that I needed perfected.  Or the fact that I forgot to put my sugared blueberries in the “blueberry lemonade!”  : )

Oh well, we still had a beautiful time together chatting and eating lots of tasty food on pretty plates.  [I told Greg that I decided that I never want to have disposable plates, cups, utensils, or napkins in our home, because the real ones are so much more fun to use!]  Our menu consisted of desserts and finger foods.  We had a petite mint green double layered cake, a large strawberry double layered cake topped with fresh strawberries, soft chocolate chip walnut cookies, fruit tarts, my mother-in-law’s delish chocolate fingers, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, Georgetown Cupcakes, basil parmesan chicken meatballs, cucumber mint + cilantro tea sandwiches, ham + cheese tea sandwiches, tuna + potato cutlets, a watermelon + blueberry + blackberry fruit bowl, and oven warmed brie with wheat crackers.

A special thanks to all the mamas and daughters who came out on Saturday to make our garden party a memorable one.  Even though Dhara may not remember a lick of her first summer garden party, she will certainly look back at these captured memories and wish remembered at least one — even if it was just a hazy one.

great grandparents rock.

How special are great grandparents?

Dhara has a great grandmother (Greg’s grandma), Granny Lanny, in Texas — who Dhara will meet for the first time next month!  And she also has a great grandpa and grandma (my grandparent’s) here in Maryland (photos below).  My grandparents come over almost every Monday evening to spend quality time with their great granddaughter.  It’s just so sweet to see them all spend time together — the older generation getting to know this little one, and this little one getting to be part of a rich Indian heritage as they talk to her in their native language, Malayalam.

They also share tidbits with Greg and I of what they believe about baby raising from their native motherland — some of which I believe are old wives-tales, but I love hearing them anyway.  For example, “kissing a baby’s cheeks will only make their cheeks get bigger.”  So not true.  I kiss my baby’s cheeks all day long, and her cheeks look the same to me.  : )

5 months old.

A certain little sweet one turned five months old.  She’s very playful, and very friendly, and oh so cuddly.  For a chub, she’s not solid, but rather very soft and buttery.  She does this thing now where she bends backwards in your arms so she can see the sky.  I think she may be a dreamer, like me.  She smiles at us when we do silly things to make her laugh — I think she thinks that we’re cute for all the silly dancing and sounds we make for her.

She sits up high in her high chair like she’s ready to eat people food, banging the tray in front of her and loving the sound.  She’s waking up way before us and contently slapping each of our arms every morning to wake us up to her bright-eyed little face.  She enjoys Indian “guzzel” (classical) music.  : )  She enjoys high fives and hand shakes as well.  She’s rolling over and sitting up, with help of course.

And she continues to shriek her high pitched little shriek when she’s in a playful mood.  I just love her playful moods.  They make me smile and make me wish for another baby because my current baby is growing up way too fast!

summer garden party – the idea.

As someone who grew up in a very large circle of family and friends, I’ve never had the chance to pull together the quaint shindig that’s been brewing in my mind for years.  It’s hard, especially in Indian culture, because you are required to invite everyone you know!  I’ve learned that the more people there are, the less personal a party becomes.  Now some parties require that everyone you know attend.  For example, our wedding.

I tried pulling together something that slightly resembled a well thought out and quaint gathering at our fall wedding, but there is only so much you can do with a guest list of 350 people.  However, I did what I could considering the amount of people present.  And a lovely day it was.  Whimsical wedding stationary designed by a friend, fall wildflowers, Potbelly cookie favors packaged in parchment paper, fall apples in red and green as place settings, a photo guest book depicting the 5 years we’d known each other, framed photos of our parents on their wedding day, etc.



But, now it’s my turn.

My little girlybean will be turning 6 months on June 25th, and in celebration of her half birthday, Greg and I are throwing her a summer garden party with a small group of her girl counterparts, and their mamas.  Of course she won’t remember a lick of it, but I foresee it becoming a quaint tradition she’ll grow to love.

Let’s see if I can pull this thing together the way I see it in my mind!  And to help me organize my thoughts, I turn to something I’ve been keeping for a long time now — a “CREATE” folder on my desktop.  In this folder are photos I’ve gathered along the years of things I would like to sew, knit, craft, construct and create.  This folder gives me ideas when I need them most, because these are the things that inspire me and the colors, textures, mediums that I find beautiful.  My perfect party entails the warmth, delicate light, pretty linens, natural ambiance, and freshness found in these photos:

I have exactly 1 month to get everything done!  Next up, my summer garden party to-do list.

eggs, milk, bread, butter.

I went to the farm to pick up 2 dozen eggs from Silka.  She’s an eastern European woman who looks like she’s good with animals.  She happens to be on the same food train that I just got on —  also wanting to feed her daughter real food, she invested in some chickens — now she has more eggs than she knows what to do with.  The eggs she gave me came in all different shades of brown and cream.  They came in different sizes too.  Some small ones, and some really big ones.  A part of me was afraid that a chick might come out an egg as I cracked it over the frying pan for my morning breakfast.  So far, so good — no chicks.  How do you separate the chick eggs from the breakfast eggs anyway?!?  Someone, please explain this…

We also got our first delivery of fresh milk, bread and butter.  The large South Mountain Creamery truck stopped in front of our home fully arrayed in black + white cow spots — surely leaving the neighbors wondering.  The milk, which came in glass bottles, tasted a tad bit creamier than regular grocery store milk.  The bread, rough — the way I like it, was filled with nuts, seeds, and grains — delicious!  And the butter tasted real — not like that I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter junk.

It was also Dhara’s first time at a farm.  She watched curiously as the farm animals sauntered this way and that.  She had a nice time as her grandma explained everything in detail.  Along the way, we met a little boy named Patrick, who I’d like to pretend is Dickon Sowerby from The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Dickon is, in some sense, the spirit of Missel Moor.  His eyes are described as looking like “pieces of moorland sky,” and he smells of “heather and grass and leaves…as if he were made of them.”  When the reader first encounters him, he is sitting beneath a tree charming animals with the music of his wooden pipe.”

Patrick may not have been charming animals with the music of his wooden pipe when we first met him, but he easily could be doing just that.  He lives in a stone house just beyond the farm and entertains himself by befriending visitors and introducing them to the farm animals.  Did I mention that it’s not even his farm?

mama day 2010.

So my first Mother’s Day (2010) came and went, and with it came some morning sunshine in the form of a smiley baby, pretty wildflowers + a sweet note written on parchment paper from my hub, a beautiful card from Dhara, a trip to my new-found favorite Yogi Berry — a delish up and coming frozen yogurt joint I could go to absolutely everyday (it actually tastes like yogurt, and not that TCBY yuck stuff!), and lastly, the lovely gift of a serger from Greg!  I’ve been dying to have one so that I can fine tune my little creations.  I feel so blessed to be a mom, even though I went through the whole day thinking more about my mom, my grandma and Greg’s mom.  It has still yet to hit me that I’m a full-time mom with a full-time baby.

Greg, Dhara and myself had a wonderful weekend with Greg’s parents and extended family, the Smith’s.  I was so very bummed I forgot my camera to capture all the warm and fuzzy moments.  Especially this morning when we came down for breakfast — Dhara handed a daisy to her teary-eyed Grandma Smith.  It was so very special.  When we went home, I got some photos of Dhara with her other grandma, or as we call her, Ammachi.

Last, but not least, is Dhara’s great grandma.  Again, I didn’t have my camera on hand, so I had to use my camera phone for some quick shots at church.  Look at my grandma looking all bashful!  But she sure is proud of her little great granddaughter, Dhar-uh!

thank you.

Before Dhara was born, I picked out the birth announcement I wanted to use.  I knew I wanted to take photos of her in the hospital, and use one of those photos for the announcement.  Fast forward to the day of her birth, [by the way, I’ve procrastinated long enough, my belated birth story is still a work in progress, but is soon to be posted], — I was in labor for 24+ hours, had a third degree tear, and my baby was under light therapy for a few days for high levels of jaundice.

Being that I was hardly in any shape to do much photo-taking, I didn’t get to do my pretty little birth announcement.  So instead, I made personalized photo thank you cards for everyone who prepared Greg and I to be parents with everything we needed to take care of a baby and more!

I ended up using moo for the thank you cards because it was the most cost effective solution for 60 cards.  In addition to the thank you cards, I made some ministry/prayer cards with our family photo, contact info and blog on it.

Speaking of thank you’s, I got a great package in the mail today.  Well actually it was a package for Dhara.  A dear family friend of Greg’s, Jane, mailed Dhara a gift wrapped in brown paper.  If the gift is wrapped in brown paper, it’s gotta be good, right?!!  Upon opening it, I uncovered a very thoughtfully wonderful gift.  In it were 3 of the simplest toddler-sized salwars [ethnic Indian wear] made of fine cotton in crisp white, cream, and grey — they brought to mind the simple elegance of the young Indira Gandhi.  There was also a sweet bohemian Mexican dress, 2 folk cd’s for children, a stuffed animal, and an embroidered heart satchel.  I love gifts like this — ethnic, beautiful, and personal.

Jane, thank you for the lovely brown paper gift!  We loved it, even my mom, who oohhed and awwed over it! : )

I’ll leave you all with some folk songs off one of the albums that Jane got for Dhara.  The album is called “You are My Little Bird” by Elizabeth Mitchell, and I absolutely love all the songs on it!