Posted in Experiences

Kindle Fire

We have consciously succumbed to the hoopla surrounding the Kindle Fire.

The gadget is doing the rounds between the husband and the first child, so honestly I do not have much to say. In the five minutes I spent on the ereader, I loved the easy access to dictionary, but hated not knowing the size, color, and volume of the book I was reading. I am patiently waiting for my turn to unravel the experience that the gadget has to offer while happily thumbing the 600+ page biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson, which carries Steve’s elegant black and white picture on the cover page that reminds me of his colorful personality and his penchant for simplicity  every time I use the flap as a bookmark. An experience that I know will be a trade off with the Kindle

Da, an early adopter of digital reading and a voracious reader, thinks that for a book lover access to books could not have gotten any easier or better. Did you know libraries lend ebooks that can be downloaded to ereaders? Amazon has come up with book lending programs as well. For a person like me who doesn’t necessarily buy every book she reads and relies on the big annual sale organized by the local library to add to her collection, this developement is one less reason to not resist ereaders.

Hari, whose main attraction to the Kindle is Angry Birds, has taken to reading on the Kindle with much delight.  The usage rules have been made crystal clear. While unlimited reading on the Kindle is allowed on a daily basis, video games will be confined to 20 mins per day only during weekends and Holidays. Bed time reading will continue to be non-digital reading. Ram, who loves holding his board books, turning and feeling the pages and taking delight in the pictures, may have opportunities to listen to the Angry Birds tune on the Kindle.

Enough of my Kindle story. Tell me yours. Have you tried your hands on ereaders? what has your experience been? What do you like and not like about the experience? what is on your reading list?

Posted in Ram Leela

Angry Birds

Angry Birds may have gained its youngest die hard fan. Yes, we are talking about Ram here. No, our toddler does not play video games. But yes, he loves peppy tunes and fast beats. The second he sees Da seated with a laptop in front of him, it means only one thing – “tee tee tee”, his way of mimicking the Angry Birds tune, and he would not let go of Da until he has had his fill. How much cheer the tune spreads on his face! Little wonder that his anna has come with a new nickname for little Ram – Angry Birds baby.

Posted in Life, Little Moments

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope all of you had a rested, relaxed, and meaningful Thanksgiving like I did. I spent the day in my most favorite place, in the company of my most favorite people , doing some of my favorite things. That is, at home soaking in the company of Da, Hari, and Ram doing ordinary everyday things.  And for that I am immensely grateful from the bottom of my heart.

A friend had posted the following quote by Melody Beattie on her FB status update, which I wanted to share with you folks – “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

How very true, isn’t it? Tell me, how was your Thanksgiving? what are some of the things you are thankful for?

Posted in Hari Katha

Turning seven

Dearest Hari,

If last year we were coming to terms with your  growing up right under our noses, this year we have been soaking in that experience.

This year you got your  first hard earned pay – a Quarter for sweeping the leaves on the drive way and collecting yard waste in the recycling bins. You worked on it close to an hour, and gave it your all. You thought the earth would get cleaner because of this noble act of yours – “Mama, I think the neighbors will be jealous looking at our clean drive way and would want to clean theirs. If everybody gets jealous then the earth will become cleaner”. Yes child, when you take pride in what you do, the possibilities are endless. And there is no better reward than knowing that you have made a difference in your own little ways.

You have been a sports maniac this year. An indispensable part of your morning routine is checking sports news, and scoreboards, and discussing them with appa. Likewise a non-tradeable part of your evening routine is playing some cricket/soccer/baseball with appa. Not wanting to be left out, I indulge you once in a while. You and I go to the tiny room in our basement, and play some cricket while we fight over songs that we want to play on YouTube.

You are a stellar big brother material. I love how you carry Ram around and take him to the door knob to see his reflection on the metal – “is he happy that I am lifting him amma? Do you think he loves me more than he loves you?” As much as you love him, sometimes you feel like he gets special treatment from us.  “Amma why does Ram have nicer parents than I do? You treat me like I am already in college”.  And I tell you, “Wait a little longer child. Very soon you will notice that Ram’s parents are not so nice after all”.

You have become an expert in coming up with wisecracks. The other day I was teasing Ram and you, “From now on I am going to call Ram, who can turn the world upside down with his budding vocabulary and  body gestures, as Prince Rowdy, and Hari, who somehow can find an excuse to not do what he is asked to,  as Prince Dodger”. A couple of minutes later you came up to me and said, “Amma, I have a new name for you. How about Princess Maddy (because you get mad a lot) or Princess No (because you are an expert at telling no).”  Sigh! those who are in glass houses should not throw stones at others.

I like how you dislike being late to school or classes. I like how sometimes when I try to take the easy way out, you point the rules to me black and white. I like how although you can read anything and everything by yourself, you want me to read to you at bed time.  I like how sometimes when I am upset, like an old soul you tell me, “Amma do you want to snuggle with Ram or I? or may be you can read a book to make yourself feel better?”

As you turn seven today, here’s wishing you with the bestest of all things on your b’day and forever. Be happy, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, be kind and gentle to everyone, and always always remember to do three scoops with cherry on top in all your endeavours.  Love you kutti.

Hugs and blessings,

Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha, Ram Leela

Curly hair, not any more

This post has been in draft mode for a very long time. Although this is stale news, I did not want to leave this experience unrecorded.

“Look at his little head full of hair”, “What lovely curls”, “I thought he was a girl because of his beautiful hair”, “Why do boys get the best of curls”, “Ha, these curls are so soft”. These are some random comments we have received on Ram’s baby hair. His curls was his wow! feature as a baby. Not any more though. A couple of months back we went on a road trip to the Sri Venkateswara temple in Pittsburgh, which is likened to Tirupati Venkatachalapathi,  for a tonsure ceremony for little Ram.

We were that crazy family that drove 20-hours in a 48-hour time period with a toddler and first grader in tow. What can I say? It helps us be in control of our schedule and lets us go where we want when we want. We started past midnight., and completed two thirds of the journey before the kids were in full form early that morning.  After an hour or so of break at McDonalds for breakfast, where Ram was joyfully toddling away, and Tuls fell head over heels in love, to my dismay, with the pancakes churned out by the fast food chain, we resumed our journey. We arrived at the temple premises past noon.

After driving for close to 12 hours, the sight of the white majestic gopuram with colorful garden in the front was refreshing to the eyes as well as to the soul.  First things first – so peit pooja (that is catering to the needs of our tummies) it was! I was very impressed with how the temple canteen was organized and maintained – food labels in bold, brown bags for take out, and nicely arranged dining area that was being constantly cleaned. Not to mention the food, which itself was heavenly. Some of the food items for sale were – sambar sadam, puliyodharai, curd rice, upma, and sundal.  I must warn you though,  if you have picky non spicy eaters in your gang, you may want to have back up meal plans.

At the temple we were joined by family and friends, who were driving from their respective houses unmindful of the distance just to be there for us.  Imagine the riot if you put a one-year old, a three-year old, a seven-year old, a nearly-seven-year old, and a few adults who are seven-year olds at heart together. Suffice to say that wherever we went we made heads turn around.

The scrumptuous meal, and the laughter in between had us rejuvenated. We rolled up our sleeves and goet down to business. Identifying the vaathiyaar who was in charge of the tonsure ceremony was fairly effortless. Seated on a rug, with a pair of scissors in his hands, Da was asked to chop an inch of Ram’s hair from all four directions. The vaathiyaar followed this with archanais for the family and reciting of slokams. That was it! We were told the locks of hair would travel all the way to India to be donated at Tirupathi. We were advised to head to the local salon for a clean shave and a return to the temple for darshan and archanai, which we followed rather obediently.

And that’s the story of how the diaper dude was temporarily called as the bald headed cannon ball, yet another name given by his anna, in our household.

Posted in Experiences, People, Work life balance

Home based care

The home based day care that Ram goes to is managed by an Asian family of four. I love the family for who they are – hard working, genuine, sincere, and most of all very ethical. They charge us fairly and only for days that we drop the child at the day care. They value food and take extra care not to waste whats sent along. The kids are clean and treated with dignity. Being a practical lady, in her own interest as well as in the interest of the kids, the primary care taker believes in training the kids to be independent early on. And I will admit that she is persistent and is not the one to give up easily! To me the cherry on top is listening to her personal stories and her humble beginnings. Somehow it gives me greater confidence in her ability to care for my child.

Posted in Hari Katha, Ram Leela

Halloween fun

Drafted on October 31st

Halloween celebrations were fairly muted this year due to an unexpected havoc wreaked by Mother nature. But the day did not go by without any celebrations. How could it, it was Halloween after all!  Hari was dressed as Ninja and Ram as Winnie the Pooh. Da, who gets as excited as the kids about Halloween, took the kids around for soliciting candies.  The pumpkins that Da and Hari carved over the earlier weekend were sitting in the front lawn accosting children dressed in costumes.

We have strict rules around candy consumption, so Hari came up with the idea of combining his candy loot to the candies we reserved for distribution. This year, I should say that he was very excited about distributing candies rather than going trick or treating.

I should also make a mention about this cool dentist in our town, who buys candies amassed during Halloween from kids for cash and ships them to troops. How very neat is that, wouldn’t you agree?

Posted in Little Moments

Saturday specials

Every week come mid-week, Hari would start the countdown for Saturday night. What’s special about Saturday anyway? Drum rolls please before I make the grand announcement. Saturday nights are sleepover nights in our house. Hari, Ram and I cozy up in our queen size bed while Da is delegated to the twin mattress lying in our room. Of course, when Hari is around, bed time is party time for Ram, and it takes a good 30 mins before the kids mellow down. Once they are ready to hit the sack, the kids rest on their human pillow, which would be yours truly. Hari would take over my left arm. Ram wanting to make sure that he doesn’t end up having less of his amma, would climb over me and stay perched until he doses away. If I managed to stay awake amidst all this drama, I slip by to catch up on weekend chores. But on most Saturdays, I am drifting to dreamland with a huge thank you heavenward for this little moments of bliss that I get to experience every week.

Posted in Hari Katha

First date

Drafted on Nov. 11, 2011

“Amma you and I should go on a date”, said Hari when he got down from the car. “What’s a date kannama?”, I played dumb. “A date is when you want to spend some time with someone, you spend time with just that person. Like you go to a movie or eat out or go to Chucke Cheese”, he eagerly shared his knowledge with me.

So when Hari’s school was closed for Veteran’s Day, I took the day off for the first official date with my sonny boy. So what did we do, you ask? Movie and pop corn, and a hike to the mall. We agreed that Puss in Boots was not so funny after all, and the pizza at the mall was lacking in quality. We concluded that it did not matter because we had fun hanging out with each other.  A very happy Hari declared, “Amma may be we can have a date every Friday after I come back from school.”  Ahem, ahem, we will see about that child!

Posted in Life, Ram Leela, Work life balance

Home away from home

Drafted on Nov. 14, 2011

Ram has been going to a home based daycare since he was roughly five months old. Until recently, the drop off in the mornings has been my least favorite part. If he was not crying, you could see his eyes weighed down with melancholy and longing. Needless to say, the drop offs felt like the most unnatural thing to do.

For the past few weeks, things have been different though. And today, in particular, is a red lettered day. During drop off, Ram smiled at his care taker, went to her willingly, and couldn’t wait to go to the play area. Better still, he happily waved a good bye to me. My morning could not have started on a sweeter note.

I would like to think that this milestone means Ram is beginning to understand that his daycare is his home away from home, and that he realizes that he can trust and be happy with folks outside his family. First of the many life lessons to come.