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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Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

LMT

Sharing the little moments from my week. 
cherry blossom

  • This week was THAT week in spring – gloomy skies, foggy, misty mornings with cherry blossoms, daffodils, and greenery all around.  Beautiful, just beautiful! I have been sneaking in walks, 5 mins here, 5 mins there, to take in all the sights and sounds, and soak in this breathtaking beauty. 
  • Hari and four other kids worked on a group project for Culture Day in Sunday school. It was a delight to watch the kids plan, prepare, collaborate and present their work. They did such a fine job!
  • Spring=Baseball in our household. Hari is part of three teams this spring and he is so pumped up about it. It’s a scheduling nightmare for us but honestly when you see the light shine in his eyes as he speaks about baseball, you just want to do the best you can to give him as much game time as possible. Who knows how long the passion will last but as long as it lasts, it must be nurtured.
  • Kerala style plum cake, have you had them? Oh I so love it and I relish every bite of it..! Better still, Hari has become part of the plum cake fan club. Nothing to beat the shared joy of looking forward to something. 
  • Now that Ram is reading on his own, he has developed a reading routine. I read a book to him and in return he reads a book to me.  Being part of this child’s reading journey has been a sheer joy!
  • Taking Ram to Take Your Child to Work Day and spending the day with him at my workplace doing arts and crafts. 

Alright tudlu for now, the weekend is just around the corner. What little moments are you celebrating this week?

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Introspection, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

Poignant Moment

After finishing Ram’s bed time story, I tuck him in and settle down by his feet leaning against the wall for some downtime. I  am browsing on Facebook catching up with what’s going on in my friends’ circle. I am reading the article where references are being made to how Joe Biden could have become the president. Joe Biden says he couldn’t contest at that time because he had lost part of his soul, referring to the death of his son. The article makes me sad and heavy. Just then, Ram, who I thought was fast asleep, starts talking eagerly with an unrelated concern, “Amma why do fish let their eggs float. When the baby fish come out, what if the first thing they see is a shark and they think the shark is their mommy.”

It was a very poignant moment, one in which the heaviness of my heart found relief in the sweet innocence of my 6-year old.  

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Hari Katha, Inspiration, Introspection, Life, Little Moments

Hidden Figures

Hari and I went to Hidden Figures tonight. What a fantastic movie? I didn’t want it to end because the movie gave hope. It’s a story of three independent, hard working, smart women. Imagine being a trendsetter, standing tall and confident when the world around you thinks less of you. It calls for some courage and strength of character, isn’t it? The best part being, it is not a feel good story born out of someone’s imagination but is based on true life events. Granted, reality may have been tweaked here and exaggerated there to make it commercially successful but that doesn’t take away the fact that there was segregation, discrimination and  that wisdom, grit and courage knows no color or gender. That there are some people who don’t let their circumstances constrain their lives; they rise above and lift others with them.  Their courage is a gift to mankind – one that inspires us to try harder, and stay stronger.  Do watch this movie to believe in possibilities…!!! 

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Experiences, Gratitude, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Important Person

akhil-imp

After days of yearning and preparing for it, it was finally here! Ram was thrilled to bits. It was his special day, the day he gets to be “the important person” in his class. In this project, every child from the class gets a turn being the star on a certain week and shares a “suitcase” containing selected things that are important to him. The goal is to learn more about the child, his family, and his culture.

Ram has been counting down to this day ever since the announcement came in January. He worked diligently on it, the hardest part being goading his mom to roll up her sleeves and help him out. So what did he take to school?

  • Four of his important objects were – his jumbo pokemon card that he has been dreaming of taking to his class and showing off to his friends,  his baseball trophy that was special not only because it was his first trophy but also because his dad was the coach for his team, his collection of ironing beads that he had spent hours making with his brother and dad, and a foam peacock that he had built out of a kit that his athai bought for him. “We can tell it’s India’s national bird amma”
  • 10 Apples Up on Top, which he read by himself to his friends in class.
  • A collage of pictures from his last India trip along with photographs of him doing his favorite things – dressed as a superman at the park, plonking himself on the bench in the library, “I love my mom and dad” henna on his hands, pretending to ride an auto with his cousin on the back, rolling chappathi, slicing tofu, playing with snow and so on. To my surprise, he explained, “There are cars in India but there are more scooters. They can be bumpy”
  • A questionnaire that had details around where we live, his b’day, what are some ways in which he is like others, what are ways in which he is not like others, what does he like doing inside the house, and what does he like doing outside the house.
  • A form asking him to say how to say Hello in our native language. After explaining how to say vanakkam, we practiced it with folded hands, bowing to each other. The kids followed our demo, hands folded and saying vanakkam as they giggled endearingly.

Ram was reluctant to take anything or talk about anything that was related to Indian culture when we were brainstorming about this project at home. It made him feel like he was not like everyone else. But in class he surprised us by sharing stories of Ganesha, mooshika, and Krishna. I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked and worried that they may be taken out of context. But that was just my adult mind overthinking, the children just listened, with their open and curious mind.

Ram generally doesn’t like being in the spotlight. He doesn’t like it when attention is lavished on him. He prefers intrinsic fulfillment over extrinsic recognition. Today, I saw that side of him that reveled in being in the limelight. Glowing like a bright star, with confidence and enthusiasm.

The icing on the cake today was that his special day coincided with Dr. Seuss’ b’day. Happy B’day Dr. Seuss. Thank you for showing us how much fun can be had playing with words, for stretching our imagination and daring us to think all the things we can think and for nudging us to go conquer mountains.  Why worry, we have shoes in our feet and brain in our heads..!

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