Posted in Family, Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Life, Little Moments, Me

Four decades and counting

I can’t stop yawning. I should go to bed. I feel deep exhaustion. I have not done my weekly chores and I have an early morning meeting. But I know if I don’t write this post tonight, it is unlikely that it will ever see the light of the day.

I turned 40 this Saturday. I don’t feel a day older or wiser. I feel so many other things though. I feel like I am living the best part of my life  with so many commitments competing for my time, energy and attention. I feel lucky that I get to pursue all the things that my heart desires. I feel deeply grateful to have been born and raised in, married into, and living in a nurturing and supportive environment.  The more years you add to your life, the more you see that life is not a level playing field and there are so many different battles that are being fought. The air of entitlement that you once had slowly gets replaced with an attitude of gratitude. You learn to err on the side of kindness and compassion.

I also feel a pang for the years and the milestones that have gone by. I wince as I catch strands of grey hair that are now coated with color from the henna that is fading away. What lies ahead is not as exciting as what has passed by. I remind myself that nothing is more natural than aging, so why fight it? The 50 year old me will likely laugh at me as I read this post ten years from now. It’s all relative.  I am also reminded that time is precious, and that I should not take my time with people around me for granted. More than ever, I am convinced that the most meaningful impact I can have in my life is raising my boys.

Recording some special moments for my diaries.

  • Ram getting excited about my b’day and spreading the word around to any and everyone that crossed his path. The earring holder and the key chain that he made with his tiny fingers.
  • Hari and Da with their version of cards.
  • Da going above and beyond to make the day more relaxed for me. Not to mention the idol of Ganesha on an easy chair reading a book (so cute!).
  • Earrings made by one the kids that I am fond of at dance class
  • My childhood friend coming home with yummy bisibele bath just because I like it.
  • Food, and more food..!
  • My friend’s son made a jigsaw puzzle for me and framed it. Love that kid and it meant much!
  • My twin having a great day..!
  • Phone calls and wishes from appa, amma, family and friends
  • A beautiful darshan at the Lakshmi temple.

Signing off for now! Have a good week.

Posted in Kids, Learnings, Little Moments, Sunday School

Learning

Ram and I went to the local fire station as part of the Cub Scouts activity. I love love being part of guided tours, you get to learn so much as you listen while you see. Under the guise of taking Ram, I had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the behind the screen activities at the fire station. The most amazing part for me was learning that the firefighters will the have to get into their bulky gear and out of the door within a minute of receiving the call for action. The need for being swift is not surprising given what they do, but you develop an appreciation for how meticulously it is practiced.  The boys had a blast climbing into the fire engine, trying the hat, lifting the equipments, and chit chatting with the firefighters. 

Hari is working on his diorama project at Sunday school. He has chosen migration to India as his research topic, and we have been learning some cool facts together. Did you know that Nepal and India share open borders? Unencumbered movement of people between two countries. Did you know Amartya Sen was actually born in Bangladesh? The only China town in India is at West Bengal. George Orwell was actually born in India? The Parsis, the Syrian Christians, the Indian Jews. Truly, India is such a diverse nation.

Posted in Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Little entrepreneur

Ram is smitten by the idea of making money. He has been planning one thing after the other. First, he said he would make things out of origami and go around the block to sell them. Then, he was curious to know how much a glass of lemonade costs. Could he make some? Later, he started sorting his toys into different piles so he could have a yard sale.

The problem was all these plans will have to wait for the weather to turn around. “I want to earn money now amma,” the child sounded desperate. Wanting to give him a break, I told him “If you make a book that I enjoy reading, I will consider buying it from you.”  His face lit up and his mental wheels started spinning. What is your favorite fruit? Mango, I said. What vegetable do you not like? “I don’t know what it is called in english, but is noolkol in tamil”

An hour later, the child came to me with a book titled “The Viellen –  Dr. Noolkol robs a bank” with illustrations. Super Mango is the detective and Dr. Noolkol is the robber. There is action and drama, and the story ends with Dr. Noolkol getting arrested by Super Mango and taking him to a place where he rightfully belongs but dreads going to – the grocery store!

The child was deliriously proud of the 10 cents that I paid him. His anna, on the other hand, was standing there glaring at me. Really amma? He spent an hour working on that book and you are not even paying him minimum wages? Shhhhhhhhhhh! I had forgotten to account for the older child’s activism when I priced the book.

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Intentions, Kids

Growing pains

Hari was eating his paruppu sadam with beans with delight as I was about to move out of the dining room. “Amma, can you just sit with me for few minutes,” he asked. “Of course, love” I told him and silently watched him for few seconds as my head was reeling from a tsunami of thoughts.

I needed him as much as he needed me in that moment. Earlier this morning there was a post by a local mom on FaceBook about how she had encountered her child using JUULS. Last week, the school principal had sent a note about Vaping and E-cigarettes. That was my first time hearing about it. Google will give you plenty of information about these addictions. In short, these are the latest in the drug world and is directly marketed to young adults as alternatives to cigarettes. Worse still, they look like USB drives, and smell like cheap perfumes. They wreak the same havoc that drugs do. Apparently, it is more pervasive than we would imagine in middle school and high school. The post was disturbing and made me really sad. Peer pressure is so real. One day you hear about suicide, another day you hear about depression, and yet another day drugs. The list only seems to be growing.

Hari and I were generally chatting and catching up when he mentioned, as if reading my mind, “Mom, today they pulled us out of our classroom to question us about drugs. They do it to all kids. They ask us a few questions. Do you use drugs? Why do you not use drugs?” He then proceeded to explain that “I don’t do drugs because the determinants far outweigh the benefits. I also told them that I have a younger brother who looks up to me and I want to be a good role model to him.”

I tried very hard to suppress the lump in my throat. He told me how they explained that their brains are still developing and the part of the brain that makes decisions is the last to develop. “So we have to make safe choices,” he concluded. Then I asked him what would he do if he saw his friends doing drugs. “First, I will protect myself and then I will stay away from their influence.” I told him how important it is to report to an adult, you are not getting your friend in trouble, you are helping him, ok? On that note, we wrapped up our heavy but reassuring conversation.

As I was clearing the kitchen counter, I sent a prayer upwards. I reminded myself to be more engaged, and more cognizant of what’s going on in my children’s lives. It’s so easy to get lost in the everyday busyness and competing priorities. To sweat the small stuff and lose sight of the big picture. Let me not take them for granted. Let me be fully present. Let me verify even when I trust them.

Posted in Humor, Kids, Little Moments, Ram Leela
  • I am reprimanding Ram for taking half an hour to eat half a dosai. “Amma, what can I do, my brain wanders when I sit down to eat dosai. It is thinking of other things and I forget that I am eating dosai.” Without using the word mindfulness, I tell him, “Maybe when you realize your brain wanders, you can start paying attention to how the dosai is tasting – does it have salt? Is it hot? How does the cheese taste?” To which he responds, “It’s ok amma. That’s boring. I think I will just let my brain wander.” Looks like there is no end in sight for my morning nagging routine. 
  • “Amma, I don’t like it when you don’t do things that you ask me to do.” “What do you mean?” I ask. “You do not cover your mouth with your elbow when you are coughing. Your hand gets all the germs and then when you hold my hand the germs stick to my hand.”   A little empathy for my incessant coughing would have been nice. But hey, we all have to look out for ourselves. Besides, isn’t it what I say to him (not the part about holding hands) when he is coughing? Now I know how it feels like to be at the receiving end of that statement. 
  • “Amma when you met appa, did you do a mating dance?” I nearly fell off my chair when I heard it. “What does mating dance mean Ram,” I asked him expecting to get an answer about bird calls or mating rituals in the animal kingdom that he may have learnt at school. “Calvin talks about it amma, that’s how I learnt ” You know trouble is brewing when your child’s heroes are Calvin and Garfield.
  • “Amma, if I were a food that would die if I get eaten, do you know what I would be?” “What Ram?” I ask him. “I would be the tiniest bread crumb that will fall out when a person takes a bite of the bread. I will get thrown in the trash and I will live in the dumpster forever without being eaten.” Some imagination, huh?
  • “Ram, would you like to consider participating in Variety Show? It could be lot of fun.” “No, thanks mom. I don’t want to share my talents with the world”
  • Valentine’s Day gift voucher for amma has a promise of “I will get up early”. Valentine’s Day gift voucher for appa has a promise of “I will not wake you up early”. The child is spot on when it comes to knowing what his mom and dad want from him.
Posted in Detox, Experiences, Experiments, Family, Food, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Me, Us

Word of the Year

How did I do? Is it worth continuing with the word of the year? Is it a meaningful exercise?

I did ok with Mindfulness  although I forgot  it was THE word a few times. Setting intentions in the beginning of the year did unintentionally influence my everyday actions. I am able to sense tension, tightness and panic when things don’t go my way. I don’t become zen or calm about the situation right away. But I have learnt that the place to start is relaxing my jaws and facial muscles. Paying attention to that tactical action, settles me a bit even when there is restlessness raging within. I talk myself into getting some alone time and engage in some productive work so I am not being disruptive to the ones around me. It works a few times even if not always. I have also learnt to drift back to sleeping when I wake up in the morning. This is worth a mention because it is part of my effort to not to be a slave to my To Do or routine.

Mindfulness like Discipline and Detox (my Word for the prior years) is a lifelong practice. So this year was just the beginning. I did not move mountains or boil the ocean but I have made incremental progress as a person. So I see value in pursuing this practice.

For this year, I am choosing the word “Us”.  Hari has five to six years with us before he takes full responsibility for himself. There are so many interesting things to do with him. There are so many things that he needs guidance on. I want to be fully present for him in this critical phase of growing up. Ram is still young and he needs me differently. I want to do all the things that I enjoy doing with him – reading, cooking, playing, coloring and what not. And with Da, I will be a little nicer, kinder and compassionate instead of using him as my punching bag. As rudimentary all these aspects sound to you or may come naturally to many of the moms that I know of, they are hard for me. I tend to oversee these finer aspects as there are so many things I want to dip my tips in. 

While the “Us” does not preclude my parents, siblings and families, I am doing pretty ok on that front, which is why I am narrowing the focus to the immediate concentric circle around me. 

This does not mean I will abandon pursuits outside home. Far from it, I want to do my bit, so they are not going away. But I will be deliberate about what I take on and make sure that I balance between what gives me intrinsic and extrinsic joys. I missed out on reading, writing, cooking experiments, and connecting with friends this year and I hope to pick up the slackness there.  I will strive to be more consistent with eating clean and healthy and working out.

These are the intentions I am setting for the year. What are yours?

Posted in Detox, Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Health and fitness, Inspiration, Introspection, Kids, Little Moments, Sunday School

Fitness Diary – Day 7

Eats – bad.  I had a planned lapse (meaning the lapse was not due to temptation or craving but it was something I had budgeted for) so I don’t feel bad about it. What I do feel bad about is the four pieces of dark chocolate I had. Dark chocolate is allowed in the workshop but only one piece. I definitely need to work on my portions, will specifically focus on it this week. Otherwise the regular meals were ok. Raagi dosai with sambar for breakfast, pongal sambar for lunch, dinner sambar rice. Aarachu vitta sambar is a rare treat in our house, so when I make it I don’t miss an opportunity to devour it.  

Workout – 17 mins of jogging with the first born. It was so hard to pull myself out of the house. I had to keep reminding myself that the future me would regret if I let the workout slip by. And I am so glad I pushed myself. It was an absolute treat to get out early in the morning with the fresh cool air caressing my face. Hari thought so too!

Meditation – 9 mins. I did not do any nostril breathing. 

Hydration – so so. I think I nearly made it but did not pay particular attention to it.

Sleep – bad, slept only for six hours. I see the repeat of the story tomorrow. I don’t like that but unfortunately that’s the reality now. 

A day filled with gratitude.

  • Just when I woke up this morning, Ram who was sleeping right next to me, kissed and put his arms around me with such warmth that it melted my heart and rendered it into a pot of mush.  Ironically, what the love bug told me next left me feeling like the most apathatic and horrible mom in the whole wide world – “I am so excited amma. I wonder how much money the Tooth Fairy has left for me. I am tempted to look under my pillow.”  Oh no, how could I? Last night a certain someone had signaled to certain someone else to take care of it and that someone else conveniently forgot it the very next moment it was told to her. Aiyoo.!! After chiding myself and catastrophizing the whole situation in my head,  I woke up my knight in shining armour, who was snoring blissfully, and muttered to the clueless soul in broken hindi “mein dhanth keliyo jho rakna hai, woh bhool gayee”  (as you may have guessed, the child does not know hindi but it did not matter because he was mentally lost in counting his treasury… if I get $1, I will have $32 pocket money, if I get $5, I will have…) The knight in shining armour woke up laughing heartily, went out of the room under the guise of having to use the restroom.. Long story short, five minutes later, the child’s eye lit up as he pulled out a crumpled $5 note. I heaved a sigh of relief and made the best cup of tea to my knight in shining armour who saved the day for this forgetful mommy. Thank you, thank you and thank you.
  • Hari slept undisturbed the whole night last night. The child has had fragmented sleep for the past several weeks due to allergies. We think the trigger is construction related dust. Poor child, poor child, wakes up two to three times with a congested nose, and terrible sneezes. So every night he catches good sleep, I offer my gratitude from the bottom of my heart. 
  • Sunday school started today. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with how thinly I have stretched myself and was convinced that I should think twice before committing next year. It’s too much preparation and too much time commitment. But this morning when I went to school, my heart was full with gratitude. This the place where I get my ix of India every week. Where I get to sing Vande Mataram and Hum Honge Khamiyaap loudly and proudly. Where as much as my kids want to make fun of the accent, in a strange sense feel like they belong. It was such a treat to see kids from last year come up to me and catch up. I am assisting Hari’s class in the first hour, I had taught some kids in this class five years back, my very first batch and there was a certain ease and friendliness in the air. I was also thrilled to see my new kids this year, can’t wait to see where they will take me on this journey this year.