Posted in Holidays

Happy 2012

Inner strength, self-confidence and resilience. Clarity, focus and balance. Awareness, acceptance and action. Physical, emotional, intellectual, and financial wellness. We wish you and yours all these and more as we welcome a brand new year. Happy 2012.

For us, if 2010 was a year of becoming a family of four, 2011 was a year of transitioning to the new reality. Adjusting our lives around the newest member of the family, figuring out our new routines, and balancing additional commitments are what we primarily focused on this year. We made a lot of memories with our immediate family in the first half of the year and had plenty of bonding opportunities as a family of four during the second half of the year.

How has 2011 been and what are some of your fond memories? What are your goals and resolutions for the coming year? Anything else you would like to share? I am all ears to hear your story. C’mon tell me now, won’t you?

Posted in Hari Katha, Ram Leela

Teething Troubles

Hari was uber exuberant when he came home after dinner at Panera Bread. It must be the mac n cheese and fruit punch, his usual at Panera, that has him soaring high in the sky, was my initial thought. But even before I could pop that question to him, he came rushing to me wearing the widest grin ever, and stuck his face inches away from mine, which left me dancing up and down in excitement.

The wiggly tooth at the bottom right that kept bothering him endlessly was now missing. No, this was not the first time he was losing a tooth. In fact, it was his fourth. But the jubilation was because this was the first time the missing tooth left a gaping hole. In the earlier three instances, the grown up tooth established its presence stubbornly before the milk tooth could make an exit. Not this time though. He was finally an otta palla. “Amma I am now equal to my friend D, who has four fallen teeth”. Of course, for the past couple of days he has been dutifully trying to expedite the falling of his top tooth, which has been sliding this side and that, in an effort to beat D’s record.

If Hari has been losing teeth, Ram has been gaining them. Every time Ram has a tooth cutting in, he goes through a miserable phase. He swims in his own drool. He gets bouts of fever and diarrhea, and has sleepless nights. Poor child.  But all is well that ends well, isn’t it? You can now spot eight shiny white pearls when he giggles and he sure puts them to good use.

Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha, Holidays


It’s 11:40 P.M. as I sit down to type this post. About an hour after the serial lights that adorn our house were programmed to go off. About two hours after Hari rushed upstairs to slip into the warmth of the comforter before Santa could see him. “Amma, how will Santa get down the chimney? how will he climb up? will he be invisible? is Jesus Christ his dad? do you believe in Jesus Christ? what if your parents chewed the cookies and Santa is not real?” There was a part of him that was trying to put the different pieces together and solve the mystery that Santa is. And then there was a part of him that wanted to soak and believe in the magic.  “Mama, I think Santa would have crossed the Atlantic. I think he would have dropped presents in Africa.” As he inched closer to the evening, he was bursting with excitement. He simply couldn’t’t stop thinking and asking about Santa.

We tracked Santa like we have done in the past. We baked cookies like we have done in the  past. Except that this time, Hari was the doer and I was the helper.  We headed out to spend Christmas eve with a good family friend like we have done in the past. Santa has left presents wrapped in red, and has gobbled up two oatmeal cookies and about three fourth glass of milk, like he has done in the past. Hari did not make a list this year. “Amma I don’t want Santa to think that I am a greedy person. I will take whatever he gives. And I also want to be surprised.”

Today is also Hanumath Jeyanthi. After baking cookies for the most beloved Saint, I made some therati pal for the son of Wind God. We recited Rama Narayana and Hanum Chalisa with M.S., and payed our tributes to the Monkey God before switching to the tune of “On the first day of Christmas”, and “Joy to the world”.

I love sweet coincidences like today. When what is inherently our tradition intersects with the traditions we have created for ourselves. Like I said to Hari, “We have the best of both the worlds!”.  A very merry Christmas and Happy Hanumath Jeyanthi to you all.

Posted in Learnings

The three A’s

From awareness comes acceptance. From acceptance comes action. For the past few days, the three A’s – Awareness, Acceptance and Action – has been a recurrent theme as I meander my way through the everyday maze of life.

Lately, I have been trying to practice living in the now, particularly when the now is unpleasant. For instance in moments of anger, irritability, frustration, and stress. Instead of having knee jerk reactions and erupting like a volcano, which is nothing but disruptive,  I am teaching myself to feel and acknowledge the emotion. The few times I have been able to put this philosophy to practice, I realize that when I become aware of what I feel, I am able to move from a position of denial to that of acceptance. I am able to distance myself from the emotion and gain clarity around what’s causing it, making it easier to act on it.

This awareness, acceptance and action philosophy is humbling and empowering at the same time. It makes me realize that as a human I am susceptible to these emotions, and that as a human I am also capable of handling these emotions with grace.

The inspiration to practice this comes from Shubha, who lucidly writes about her journey to living in the present. Thank you for sharing your experiences Shubha.

Posted in Hari Katha, Ram Leela

Ram Leela

The period around a child’s first b’day is a huge turning point. Not only is he more mobile, but also his intellectual and emotional capabilities are very tangible. You realize that he is more  than a cute, tender, cuddly, and dependent being. Someone with a little personality and a mind of his own. Little wonder that we have been oohing and aahing at some of Ram’s developments.  Here are some recent ones.

– When I drop Ram at day care, he understands that this is where he is going to spend most of his day. He happily waves and says bye bye to me, and even before I can reciprocate the gesture he hurries up to shut the door. Likewise, when I go to pick him up he would take his lunch bag from its designated spot and wave bye bye to his caretakers. The beauty of consistency and routine.

– Sure, being a second child has its advantages. For instance, the connection between a ball and a bat or a pen and paper comes naturally. When Ram sees a bat, he has to get hold of a ball as well. For now, he is happy to hand over the ball to one of us, and roam around the house with a bat in his hand.

– Ram loves playing catch with anna. You should see him trying to walk sooner than his little legs can carry him with a naughty smile on his lips when Hari calls out for him to play catch. When it comes to going out, appa is the man even when amma is dressed in jacket and shoes. But when it’s time to eat, nap, or some TLC, he is a mommy magnet just like anna.

– If you thought that Hari can boss him just because he is older to him by six years, nothing is farther from the truth. Yeah, there are times when Hari would call him “Ram baby” with frustration in his voice, but the anna loves him too much to use his age as an excuse to be bossy. Ram for his part will put up a good fight and stand up for himself to make up for his size and age.

– Ram has taken to reading these days. His favorite book being Good Night Gorilla. He loves to see and point all the animals lined up behind the zoo keeper. He loves to flip the book in a hurry as though he cannot wait to see what’s happening next although it’s the same sequence every time he reads the book. The wonder never ceases.  I love to see Hari drop everything and gravitate towards us when I am reading to Ram. Very nice to see that at a time when he has graduated to reading by himself, he still takes delight in skimming through board books.

Posted in Research

Of emoticons

In my opinion, emoticons dilute the power of words. To me, adding a smilie face  after a blog post or a comment is an attempt to prompt someone to smile, a reinforcement that the content is suppose to be taken in lighter vein irrespective of how it sounds.  Like how you have fake laughs in T.V. sitcoms to imply that a certain scene is meant to be funny.  The only place I find a role for emoticons is in an instant messenger, which I seldom use these days. Considering that using emoticons has become the norm these days, I have been wondering if the lack of emoticons in my posts or emails or comments, make them dry and bereft of life.

I am really curious to know what you think. Do you think emoticons are good tools to support the tone of your message? or do you think they are unnecessary accessories that have made themselves necessary due to wide usage?

Posted in Ram Leela

Thanjavur bommai

Heard of a Thanjavur thalai aati bommai? We have the cutest one at home and we call him Ram. This little bommai does an attami every time he wants or doesn’t want something. As I feed him his cereal, he does an I-don’t-want-it-now  attami*. If you please him by giving him something he wants, you will be rewarded with a thank you attami. If you use a rough tone on him, he will give you a how-can-you-scold me attami as tears stream down his cheeks. While you cannot keep this Thanjavur bommai in a showcase and adore him, you sure can pick him up and squeeze him with hugs and kisses!

*Neck, hand and eye movements commonly used in Bharthanatyam

Posted in Hari Katha

Emails, passwords, and spammers

We had created an email account for Hari a few years back but never really used it. Now that he reads and writes, we have started using it as a medium to keep him posted on things pertaining to him. He seems to be getting a flavor for it. His first few emails were around, “Amma, you are the best mom in the whole world”, then he used emails to coax me into doing things, “Amma, do you think we could go to park today, please, pretty please?”. Sometimes he would reply with maturity, “Amma, thank you for your encouragement. I hope to do good”.

I love love getting these emails with so many different flavors. The formal tone of the emails laced with stretching spelling, typical for a seven year old, is another reminder to me that although he is so matured and grown up on the outside, deep down he is still a little child. The reserve of innocence may be depleting but it’s still there.

“Amma, do you want to know my email password”, asked a rather excited Hari. “Only if you want to share it with me”, I replied pretending not to know what it is. He whispered the password and told me to keep it as a secret. “Why should it be a secret Hari”, I asked to pick his brain. “Because if you say it loudly some robber might hear it and break your computer”. Ha, password security through the eyes of a first grader.

“Why does Yuna keep writing to me always amma”, asked a rather puzzled Hari as he was checking his email account to reply to folks that had wished him for his b’day.  The question cracked me up as I explained to him, “Hari, remember the last time we talked about it? Like how we have strangers in real world, we have strangers that write to our email ids. They are called spammers. Like how you are not suppose to talk to strangers unnecessarily, you should not open emails from someone you do not know.”  Yuna was so real to him. Someone who doesn’t know him would know his email id and would actually write to him was so unfathomable to Hari. I think he gets it,  sort of. In his words, “I am going to call Yuna as Junk Girl from now on mama.”

Posted in Hari Katha, Little Moments, Work life balance

An ordinary Thursday

Drafted on Dec 08

Amma at home to receive him after half a day at school. Steaming spaghetti topped with melted cheese and baby carrots on the side to satiate his monstrous appetite. A time table that allows ample unstructured time to unwind and do things that holds his fancy while taking care of the must do items. Catching up on some cricket news with appa on the phone and briefing him on how the day was.  Lying on the ground with the yellow crayon box and doodling away to glory. The anticipation of playing cricket with amma before heading to swimming class. Ordinary but priceless moments to Hari and I.

I work from home on Thursdays when my work commitments allow me to. If I am not working from home, Hari is off to after school program, which he looks forward to with equal relish. Since this seemingly ordinary Thursday is not necessarily a every Thursday affair, I am thankful whenever it materializes. I am greatful to my company for understanding that there is life beyond work that needs to be nourished and nurtured.

Posted in Uncategorized

Online shopping

Drafted on Dec 05

While I have been dabbling with Groupon and coupons, Da has been trying his hands on online shopping. Want to buy holiday presents for teachers? go to Amazon. Want to buy monthly detergent? use the Amazon Subscribe and Save feature. Do you have little kids who are on diapers? no worries, try Amazon Mom. Yes, Amazon has lured us into online shopping with its free shipping and prime membership offerings. The UPS guy is the new Santa delivering packages to us every other day!

Online shopping is  easy, convenient and in most cases less expensive. Want to know an unexpected benefit our household is reaping out of this transition? Eating healthy! How come, you ask? Well, turns out that a lot of time when we ventured out to buy something, we ended up eating outside. Mostly something that was quick to grab and bite, a.k.a., junk. By cutting down on shopping trips, we have reduced our intake of junk food. A big yay to that.

So these days a visit to the mall or eating out is truly what it should be – a recreational activity.