Experiences, Experiments, Food, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones

Finicky to Foodie

The children’s lunch boxes for the most part are embarrassingly plain and simple for two reasons. Firstly, Hari and Ram prefer it that way. Secondly, like it or not, kids use lunch time more to socialize than to fill their tummies. Food is not a priority at school lunch time, at least not for my kids. So I stopped fretting about planning lunches long back and have learnt to focus on other meals that they eat at home instead.

A week back, the tween expressed interest in introducing variety to his daily lunches. There were a number of caveats thrown in. “Amma, no cheese, as it smells”, “I like the mac n cheese but it makes me feel heavy”, “I don’t want hot meals that go cold.”

If you pictured me rolling my eyes during this conversation, you are spot on. Past the rolling of the eyes, I did smile to myself wondering at how far we have come. What a finicky eater this child was as a toddler and what a foodie he has grown into! The child is still particular about what he eats and has strong likes and dislikes but a good meal makes him feel like he is at the top of the world. We brainstormed and came up with a menu that works for all of us – Hari, Ram and I. 

Monday – Pasta with seasoning

Tuesday – Buy from cafeteria

Wednesday – Aloo or paneer paratha

Thursday – Paniyaram

Friday – Rice and beans or leftovers from Thursday dinner.

And wait, wait, it’s not done yet. For the sides, a fruit and or nuts is acceptable. But on Fridays, the child requested that I  pack something that would surprise him. Again, another rolling-of-my-eyes moment. But again past that, I found the ask endearing and a way to add a little zing, a little something that would set Fridays apart from rest of the week, a little happiness boost. Plus, it seems like a nice way to build on my non-existent ability to surprise someone

Any lunch box ideas that has worked for you?  Any surprises that you would pack for your child? or would like for yourself in your lunch box? 

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Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Life, Little Moments, seasons

Baseball Tales

Hari began the baseball season with lofty statements. “I live for baseball”, “Baseball is my life.” I looked at the better half, who takes his role as nurturer of sports passion of his offsprings a tad seriously, and saw stars dancing in his dreamy eyes. And what do you know? Before I could say baseball, the father-son duo had signed up for three teams – school baseball team, town baseball team and the club baseball team that Hari has been part of since Fall. And did I forget to mention that the second child was already signed up in Fall?

For my part, I did what any sensible mom, who has the unenviable task of planning two mini dinners atleast three days during the week and once during the weekend (and let’s not even get into calendar management please), would do. Closed my eyes shut, sent a prayer to Varuna bhagawan – let it rain, let it rain..!

The regular season is drawing to a close and I am happy to report that the household has managed to survive and I might even add that the reluctant baseball mom has become an eager cheerleader.

I am happy for Hari. The season bestowed him with a variety of experiences, from being benched to being glorified as the MVP.  He was flying high one day and heartbroken the other day. He felt like he was treated unfairly one day but was able to take a step back the next day and see the decision in perspective. He worked hard and took responsibility for improving his game. He climbed the batting order and learnt new ways to pitch.

Ram is having a great time swinging his bat and playing ball. As a parent from Hari’s batch put it, at that age you can ask how the game went knowing that you will always receive a confident and happy answer. Besides at this age, there is more excitement over snacks during break time than playing ball during game time. Da coached Ram’s team for the second year in a row. 

Now if you will excuse me, I have a pre-game dinner to pack. My life is going to be dull and empty once the baseball season is over… Not really!

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Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Learnings, Little Moments, Milestones

Sunday school this year

Last sunday was my last day of Sunday school for the year. Like the past few years that familiar feeling of pang returned with gusto at dismissal. You know that feeling of missing out on the rest of the learning journey of a bunch of goofy, mischievous, argumentative, lovable, and affectionate bunch of little humans who have delighted and exasperated you.

This was my first year teaching fourth grade and how different the dynamics are from teaching second graders!  I loved the syllabus – dasavatharam, ramayanam and mahabhratha. In fourth grade, students are more engaged, contributing as much as learning, having strong opinions, likes and dislikes, and don’t miss a chance to challenge you with their accumulated knowledge. On the flip side, if you have reluctant learners, it takes a lot of effort and creativity to find something that resonate with them. Classroom management was tougher on some days because children are more brave about questioning authority. So there has to be clarity in expectations and boundaries.  I was fortunate to have had a mentor who is one of the creative teachers that has inspired me to get better at what I do. I learnt that kids learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process (opportunities to participate in class, hands-on activities, project based learning) than when they are in passive mode (listening to lectures). I had underestimated how little I knew of the mythologies but I would like to think that we learnt and grew together as a class. 

We ended last class with a class selfie and as we were wrapping up, one kid popped the question – “What is the most ridiculous thing we have done in culture class?” A few ideas were thrown in and the popular vote was for – talking about vegetable korma when we were discussing Kurma avatar… !  which had all of us break into peals of laughter. I could not have asked for a better way to end the school year. 

I am not sure how much of this year’s learning will stay with the children but if they have had few laughs and have associated learning with fun, I think the class has served its purpose.

 

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Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Wishes

Celebrating unconditional love

I am immensely grateful for the unconditional love that my amma and my children shower on me. Day in and day out.  Amma, I accept you and love you for who you are, without any strings attached. Happy Mother’s Day to you. Hari and Ram, I hope you will continue to tolerate me and love me for who I am because quite frankly that’s the only way I know to be.  Being your mom has been a privilege. 

To those of you that celebrate the hallmark holiday, Happy Mother’s Day.  To those of you that care less about it, Happy Sunday.  I wish you TLC in whatever form and shape you like to receive it. 

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Family, Food, Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Little Moments, Memories

Good old Family Time

Once you lose momentum, getting your rhythm back is a challenge of gigantic proportion. I have been drafting this post for the past couple of nights. The tardiness is not due to lack of intent;  it was because yours truly literally fell asleep midway typing this post. With that disclosure out of the way, I hit the resume button on my gratitude journal.

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I clean the house, one room after the other, in an attempt to make up for the lower decibel levels and to help us get back to routine after a precious week spent with family. As I put the things away in their place, random memories from the past week flit by.

I stumble on my niece’s small heart shaped lego piece and a smile plays on my lips. This was one of her precious possessions, one she kept a very close tab on, not letting it out of her sight for a minute.  This little doll, by that I mean my sweet niece Shraddha, is a charmer. Atleast she knows the way to her athai’s heart.  With a twinkle in her eyes, the four year old picked her potato fry and commented, “Athai, potato is my favorite kai, thank you for making it so crispy.”  The look of delight and wonder on her face as she hung the barbie ornament in the christmas tree is a sight tucked in my treasure trove of memories. The way she strung letters or stretched her spelling to read and spell were moments of athai pride.  The home depot apron and the rolling pin tickle memories of our cooking adventures this week – the mutter panner, the aloo paratha, and the banana bread. The crayons, markers, the inflatable toys, all carry stories of cousins bonding and the delightful unending conversations amongst them, especially the pretend game lovers Ram and Shraddha.

I call Da “ukil” just like how my little nephew Amrit calls Da (ukil=uncle, athimber is too hard and too new for a soon-to-be-two year old, so ukil it is!). This past week Alexa has been part and parcel of our family fun. We would have listened to  Baa Baa blacksheep a hundred times. My nephew listening to the words as his body swayed  to the music. The squeals of delight as he saw the train chugging under the christmas tree or the way he screamed in excitement when Da returned from work or led Hari and Ram by his tiny finger to where his whim took him.  

I also enjoyed making childhood comfort foods, the combinations that amma used to prepare. Jeera sathumdhu, paruppu thogayal, kathrikia kai, arachuvitta khozhambu, mysore sathumdhu, vendakai kai, so on and so forth. There is something warm and fussy about sharing these simple childhood favorites that you grew up eating with the one you grew up with. I enjoyed seeing the dad in my brother Sathya. The tenderness with which he talks to his daughter,  the rolling up his sleeves to feed his children, and the sermonising the difference between rights and the wrongs of life to his kids. Also, how he pitched in to clean up after dinner, just the way we were taught to do as children.

My sil Wini is everything that I am not. Very paandam in all her endeavors. Be it carrying herself well or tending to her children, she does it with elan. Also seeing first hand how to eat in moderation, such self discipline this girl has! Most of all I loved seeing what a mindful parent she is, knowing her children inside out, paying attention to their rhythms.

All in all,  I am deeply grateful for the moments – small, big, rich, delightful, and everything in between that this week brought. I am thankful for the opportunity to have them in my turf for some good old family time!  

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Experiences, Family, Hari Katha, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

Nature’s Classroom

Since this morning there were telltale signs of excitement and nervousness. Hari wrote extra Sriramajayams in his prayer book. He stuck to his little brother like a velcro, giving him tight hugs as we dropped him at preschool. He even tolerated my tardiness and willingly wore the smilie wrist band that I offered to him as a comfort item.

As we hurriedly headed to the the school entrance, he leaned on me, signaling for a hug. I had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming – is this my 11-year old asking for a hug? publicly? at the school entrance where his friends could see him in the act? Awww… my baby! A wave of affection swept over me as I hugged him and reminded him to stay safe, healthy and have fun. I reassured him that he would be ok without us around, all will be well, it’s just three days, and that he would have the time of his life. I suggested some ways to cope should he feel homesick. He was ready. I was ready. There it was the much anticipated trip of the year – Nature’s Classroom, a three-day, two-night camp for fifth graders.

I lingered for a while my eyes fixated on this little child of ours. He deftly managed his roll on, effortlessly carried his backpack, and seemed fully in control of himself. I think I got a glimpse of what it is to see your child spread his wings and soar high.

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Gratitude, Kids, Little Moments, Memories, Milestones, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

Pangs

The day left me with a heart full of pang.

Ram had his KG orientation. He met his future teachers and was thrilled to be in the same classroom that his anna went to. He looked so tiny in that big school. He was at ease, taking pride in knowing the directions to the playground and parking lot, walking me through the corridors, and eagerly following his teachers. Such innocence…!

Just feels like yesterday that we went for Hari’s orientation but six years have flown by in the blink of an eye. Hard to believe the child who is up to my shoulder height and threatens to lift me, was once this itsy bitsy person that was a mommy magnet.

I finished correcting the final answer papers of Sunday school kids. Next weekend will be the last class for the academic year after which I have to gracefully let them go. Seems unfair, just when we are getting to know each other, the year has drawn to a close.

It’s true what they say, the days are long but the years are short. Super short. So very thankful for every moment of it..!

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