Saturday, April 14, 2012

Major Decisions

For over a year now, I have been eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. This has caused some soul-searching for me.To me, an application for citizenship has to be for the right reasons. I know people who want U.S. citizenship because it would help them apply for their family members or because they think they can get a better, government job or some other reason. In some cases, these people do not seem to have even assimilated into American society - and they do not want to. They want the benefits of citizenship without the burdens of it.

Certainly, I do not "need" to be an U.S. citizen. I am happy with my job and I have no family members that I want to sponsor. I certainly have no intention of running for office!! But I have been living here for the past 13 years (almost) and I do feel strongly attached. I have tried to assimilate - on a merely superficial level, anyone who sees my attachment to burgers, fries, apple pie and baseball can attest to that. I would love to be able to vote. Most importantly, I have one American daughter with another on the way.

Of course, there are aspects of myself which I cannot change. I still love Indian food - goat meat and all!! I do not understand the American obsession with high school drama/movies like The Breakfast Club(or is this just Gregg)? I think cheerleaders should be removed from all sports (Indian sports have adopted them too but there is more of a social outcry in India against this practice). But in most things, I have either adapted to or joyfully adopted this country's practices.

The second issue is: should we get a lawyer? For the green cards, we did - both times.And it cost us about $ 12000 overall (including the fees to the government).This was for a very easy straightforward application. (We really should fix the immigration system but that is another post).This time we have decided against it.The process itself costs $680 and we cannot afford more for a lawyer. I will do the paperwork myself.After all, I have never done anything illegal, I have a decent moral character (this is actually a requirement), I pay taxes and do not even have a traffic ticket. Gregg says this may be a stupid decision but I really do not want a lawyer this time. It is way too expensive with a second kid on the way.

This decision to apply for citizenship brings another question - should I change my last name? When we got married, I decided against it for a number of reasons - I was also starting a new job, I needed to apply for a green card and a name change would complicate the paperwork, the idea of changing my name on bank accounts, credit cards, passport, visa etc was daunting...
Then Asha was born and in the hospital, babies are given their mother's last name. So, her hospital bracelet and crib said "Baby Bagchi". For some reason, this seemed to annoy Gregg a lot which I could not understand.What's in a name after all? Then she came home and her official name of course is Lindskog. Now I know why it annoyed Gregg. Not having the same last name as your child is complicated. It seems to distance you from her when you are in public. I do not like it any more than Gregg did. So I have decided to take this chance to change my name.You have that option when you get citizenship and I will take it. It is certainly cheaper and less time consuming this way.

So, two big decisions rolled into one.The entire process takes about 6-12 months. I will update about it as I go through it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Technology Issue

A very exciting development occurred recently – I got an iPad!! No, I did not pay for the new one – this is for the purposes of teaching. Gregg has had one for a while but I never had my own. I have been trying to be more productive and not having to haul my laptop around has certainly helped a person who already carries a massive bag, a diaper bag and frequently a child and a half!! But the minor problem has been that my home laptop and school computer are both PCs while the iPad and my phone are not. So the question has been – how can I work from both a PC and an iPad? iPads lack MS Office and powerpoint. Thus far, I have found Dropbox and an app called Documents to Go Premium that supposedly work together very well. However, I have not found the courage to pay the $17 that the latter needs. Nor the $20 that people recommend for QuickOffice. Instead I got the free app Onlive Desktop and am using it for now.  Any suggestions anyone? Have you worked with any of these products? Do you have an iPad app you would suggest?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Everyone says that toddlers go through the "terrible twos." I always assumed that this started when the kid was around two years old. Asha, on the other hand, seems to have started her tantrums at around 13 months. At first we tried placating her. Then some gentle scolding. But it did not work. Finally, we took to reading everything we found on whining and tantrums. In the last couple of weeks, our discipline method seems to be working - finally!!

This is what we do. Unless she is doing something that can hurt her, we try not to raise our voice. We firmly say "no" but without yelling. Often this requires us to get down to her level and force her to look at us while we say it, otherwise she would just ignore us and keep going. When she is at the "throw myself on the ground and cry" stage of a tantrum, we merely walk away. If this happens in public, we remove her from the situation immediately. And if she insists on repeating the bad behavior more than three times, we put her in timeout - for about a minute. All of this without yelling. After she calms down, we try to sit her down and explain the reasons for our actions.

Consistency seems to be key here. Repeat, repeat, repeat!!! We also let her make her own choices on things which are not important to us and we have Asha-proofed the house in a way that minimizes conflict (as Gregg says, there is baby-proofing and then there is Asha-proofing). This includes removing almost all furniture except a couch from our living room.

This style has been working (we think and hope). But it is exhausting. It requires constant attention and certainly cannot be done while looking up from a book or from making dinner. At the end of even a good day, I wish there was an easier way. But Gregg has been reading a book called Bringing Up Bebe (I just started it) and we do like some of the precepts in it very much - some, not all!! I will write more about it when I am done with it but one of the main points it makes is that children have to be family-centric instead of parents being kid-centric. In other words, if children are taught that they are the center of the universe (not in the emotional sense but in the sense that everyone will drop everything for their momentary gratification), they will behave accordingly. If they are taught that they are all part of a mutually supportive family, they will also tailor their behavior to that expectation. Therefore, the French apparently think less about "discipline" and more about "education" broadly conceived.

Do your kids whine or throw tantrums? How often? How do you handle it?