Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Pictures!

A little peek at our year in pictures...


We kicked off 2016 in none other than the beautiful Hawaii...


Where we celebrated our 10 year anniversary in a grand way...


And we got to spend some amazing, relaxing time together as a family...


Shortly after, our apartment building construction finally got started...


In the Spring, we stayed home and explored...


And also ventured off to Portland to explore...


I started doing more complex art projects with Maya...



Maya got a new little cousin, Siddharth....




My in-law's arrived in Canada permanently...


We celebrated Maya's 4th birthday...


And we told her she was going to be a big sister...


We did a lot of swimming over the Summer...


Husband-ji grew a big beard which I loved so much, I demanded him to keep forever...


We did a lovely family trip to the Okanagan...


We celebrated family birthdays all together...


We finally took Maya for her first-ever hair cut...


Our co-worker got a new doggy, Archie...


We spent the majority of the Fall in hospitals as our parents underwent difficult medical procedures...


But luckily my mother-in-law made it home by Thanksgiving...


Maya got really good at ballet...


We snuck away for a much-needed vacation to Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth...


And made it back just in time for Halloween...


And Diwali...


We got some amazing family pictures taken...


Maya got so good at her artwork that it was routinely hung on display as the best in class...


December was a blur of weekly snowstorms...


As we prepared for Christmas...


And rang in 2017 and all the good things yet to come!

Happy New Year to all my readers around the globe! Wishing you a blessed & fun 2017!

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Christmas Celebrations 2016


This year, our Christmas celebrations were quite simple and joyous. My in-law's have celebrated Christmas with us many times before, but this is the first year that they have been officially living with us, so they really got to see the full seasonal preparations from start to finish. November was such a dark & dreary month that as soon as December rolled around we were grateful to be uplifted by all the Christmas cheer.

First, we started by decorating our Christmas tree and sending out our annual Christmas cards. Maya and husband-ji decorated the tree, and my mother-in-law and I got all the cards ready. 


This year, we also had a lot of heavy snowstorms which was fun for Maya and my in-law's to experience. Maya loved building snowmen and having snowball fights. Both of my in-law's dislike cold weather, however they found the snow to be quite wondrous once they were all bundled up.


Then, we spent the month of December visiting the Christmas Market, seeing Disney on Ice, the Nutcracker ballet, and the Cirque du Soleil. Maya had never seen any of these performances before and I wanted to wait until she was a good age and could sit through it. She absolutely loved them and she is a huge fan of live shows and music. It was really fun to take her, as it is something that husband-ji and I enjoy doing as a couple and now that she is old enough, she can join us too.

(My cousins & I on Christmas Day)

This year, with my pregnancy being in the third trimester, I was not able to do as much so I really scaled back. Husband-ji did the majority of the work from decorating to doing all the Christmas shopping, which was a big relief for me. A week before Christmas, I fell and sprained my ankle so I just spent the whole time at home with my foot elevated. It was actually a blessing in disguise because I was forced to rest and stay home, rather than go outside and exhaust myself dealing with all the frenzied shoppers. By Christmas Day, my ankle was a lot better and it was great to celebrate it calmly after having a week of rest.



On Christmas Eve, Maya and I made Martha Stewart's sugar cookies...and Maya basically did the whole thing from start to finish and I was basically her assistant! She loves to bake and she was very excited about it. We laid out the cookies and milk for Santa along with her note. Right before bed, my mother-in-law read all the Christmas books to Maya about baby Jesus' birth - multiculturalism at it's finest!

A video posted by Alexandra Madhavan (@madhmama) on

Christmas morning was very exciting, as always, as we opened up all the gifts. The majority of them were for Maya, as none of us really needed or wanted anything in particular. She loved all the toys she got and has been busy playing with all of them since.


We always have this tradition on Christmas Day to cook a nice Indian brunch, followed by a traditional Canadian Turkey dinner at my aunt's house. This year, my mother-in-law made the most delicious chole puri for Christmas brunch, and everyone had more than one plate! In the evening, we ventured to my aunt's for Christmas dinner which had a lot of great vegetarian options other than turkey.


It really was a lovely, calm Christmas season that was the perfect end to a crazy year. Since then, we have been busy de-cluttering our apartment and re-arranging furniture as we prepare for our new little arrival next month!

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Dear readers, how was your Christmas this year?
What were your favorite parts of the season?

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Our Christmas Memories

(Maya's first Christmas - 2012)

As festivals pass every year, I often think back to memories of our celebrations from years past fondly. It's crazy to think about how some things change every year, and other things stay the same. Christmas is hands down my favorite holiday of the year. We always celebrated it so grandly because my grandmother was a Christmas Day baby, and I loved how it brought all the family together. Now that I have a family of my own, it is even more special and we have added in our own unique elements to it - like cooking a big Indian meal for Christmas lunch! My in-law's, who never celebrated Christmas prior to me, are also completely in love with the festival.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas memories from years past:

Christmas 1991 - Most of the Christmases of my childhood were spent at my grandma's cozy ranch house in the University district and it was my favorite place to be! This Christmas was very exciting because my first little cousin was born that year and it was like welcoming a baby brother into the family. As you can see, we all used to dress in red!

Christmas 2008 - It was our first winter we spent here after moving back to Canada with husband-ji. There was a huge, never-ending snowstorm that year and it was the first time husband-ji experienced snow. I used to say that the snow came just for his arrival. He absolutely loves cold weather and it was a wondrous time. My dad lent him all his heavy snow coats, and we spent hours walking through the snow-lined streets and taking in the quiet beauty of it all.

Christmas 2010 - This was our first Christmas after getting our doggy, Ziggy. He was very much our first little baby, and we were obsessed with dog training books and everything dog. He was only a few months old here. We moved into a little house that year, so we felt very "adult" because we had a house and a dog. We were also in the midst of our wedding planning, which would happen the following Summer.

Christmas 2012 - Our first Christmas with our little angel Maya, and as parents. I didn't know Christmas could get more special after having a baby, and it just doubled the joy for us. I dressed her all up in one of her little frilly dresses. My in-law's also spent Christmas with us and it was just so much fun. That year, we got another big snowfall and Maya got her first tooth, just in time for Christmas!

Christmas 2013 - That year was both somber and special, as I had just recovered from bacterial meningitis and was just happy to be alive. Maya was so little then, and I could have left her without a mother. I was her sole caretaker then and I started to realize then that I needed to rely on other people, in case a health emergency ever happened like that again.

Christmas 2014 - This year was a bit hectic because we had just gotten back from our India trip, had no time to do Christmas shopping, and we all got sick from the extreme temperature change. It worked out perfectly though, because we just did a simple Christmas and avoided most of the Christmas shoppers since we had been out of town. The picture above is of me (and Maya) and my little cousins, all grown up!

Christmas 2015 - This was our last Christmas in my mum's house before she sold it. My mum always had a frosted Christmas tree which made the ornaments pop. Every year, Christmas gets more and more exciting for Maya and she loves all aspects of the festival, from decorating to cooking, and singing holiday songs. 2015 was also her first year at preschool and she had just performed Christmas carols at her school holiday party, which was adorable to watch.

Stay tuned for my report of Christmas 2016!

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Dear readers, Merry Christmas to you & your families!
What are your most memorable Christmases?
What are your plans for Christmas this year?

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Monday, December 19, 2016

A Year of Ups and Downs

As this year comes to a close, I could not have even predicted how many ups and downs we would have. This year has been filled with huge highs and huge lows in our family, much more than the average year.

I'll start with the best parts:

This year, after years of planning and financial struggle, we finally laid ground on our apartment building. Seeing the building actually start was a miracle in itself - being the future home that will house us, our children, our parents, and husband-ji's parents. A home that our entire family will share and benefit from for years to come.


Another amazing thing that happened was that my in-law's finally got their Canadian permanent residency, after 6 years of waiting - allowing them to come and join our family permanently. Now my in-law's are living with us in a traditional joint family setting. We currently live in a 1000 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment, and despite the small space we are so happy to finally be together!


The best part of this year was that we were able to get pregnant!!! We were trying to conceive for nearly two years and the stress from that was one of the hardest things I have had to go through as a woman. It is such a relief to just be enjoying the moment and not feel stuck waiting anymore. This pregnancy has made us feel so grateful. Children are such a blessing and a gift from God. We are so excited at the chance to be parents again to another little unique being.

The worst parts:

Earlier this year, it seemed as if it was a domino effect of good fortune, but then the wheel of fortune turned and we got back-to-back bad news in the last half of the year. I have not yet talked about this on my blog. A close family member was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She is already a breast cancer survivor, but to have it come back again is extremely frightening.

During all of this, my aunt's wife died of breast cancer. It was a somber moment for our entire family. She looked well the last time I saw her, so I assumed I had more time. I was so wrong, and I didn't have the chance to say goodbye. It was the worst feeling in the world. I still can't believe she's gone, and the holidays just won't be the same without her. Thanksgiving was really hard without her. And it was hard seeing my aunt by herself, after 40 years of partnership.

My father's health has also been steadily deteriorating and he has undergone a lot of testing. It turns out that his Ataxia diagnosis was false, and in fact he has a very rare disease called MSA. The doctors have given him 3-5 years to live, many of which will be spent disabled. Not only that, but because this disease is so rare, there is no cure for it. So he has been coping with his own mortality, and the fact that he will soon be living as a disabled person. Right now, my dad can barely walk. He has two kinds of days: bad and worse.


If that wasn't awful enough, in the Fall, my mother-in-law started having severe chest pains. I took her to the ER and she ended up staying in the hospital for 2+ weeks and undergoing an emergency heart bypass surgery. We also found out that she has type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. She is doing a lot better now. She has healed from her surgery, is working on her diet, and attending a post-heart surgery exercise program. Luckily by the time she started having the chest pains, she was already a permanent resident and had Canada's universal free medical coverage. The same surgery would have costed $75, 000 if we were in the U.S.

Although I am healthy, my baby is healthy, Maya and husband-ji are healthy - it was SO hard to watch our loved ones suffer from major, life-threatening illnesses. And there is nothing any of us can do about it. Our days have been a blur of taking our parents to their doctor's appointments, hospitals, on top of the busyness of our everyday lives. There was a month-long period where we were at the hospital for more than 16 hours a day, which is thankfully over now. I was quite worried that the stress would affect the baby - even though the stress was unavoidable - but the baby is totally healthy. It's just me who has been a wreck! Sometimes we cry ourselves to sleep, sometimes we shout at each other from stress, but more than anything we are leaning on each other. I am glad that our new apartment building is being constructed, because we really need it right now to take care of our parents - with all of us living on one property. It is really easy to take care of my mother-in-law because she lives with us, but it is very hard for me to take care of my parents because they live 30 minutes away. When they live right above us, in the same building, it will be a whole lot easier.

The good news is that my mother-in-law has completely recovered. My dad will not recover, but at least we have the next few years to try to make the most of it.


It has been tough, but we are trying to focus on the good parts and hold on to that. When you watch the people you love experience something like this, you feel such a loss of control. You feel helpless. The only option is to have faith and just appreciate any small thing that comes your way. On really bad days, it can be just being grateful for the beautiful weather, or the cashier that was kind to you, or the picture that your kid drew. I am so excited about bringing another baby to the family to add some joy - especially for the grandparents. I'm not sure how much help I will get with the baby, but at least it will bring us all some delight. When the baby kicks, only I can feel the joy. I'm looking forward to when the baby is born so everyone else can get to know her too.

During these tough times, Maya has been my savior. In this whole picture - children are what really matter. I am taking such a delight in the funny things she does and says, and relishing in her hugs and affection. Every thing she does is brilliant. I'm so grateful not to be working right now so I can just spend the maximum amount of time with her. She has been mostly sheltered from all of this, but she knows that people are sick. She has not been sad about it, but rather more nurturing and helpful. She has not even had a single tantrum! She has really been mommy's little helper.

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What about you, dear readers?
What happened in your life this year?
What were the best & worst parts of your year?

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