Posted in Gratitude, Little Moments

LMT

10 days into the new year already. Day by day, our overall workload is ramping up. Pausing for a serving of little moments from this week. 

  • “Ram, why do you have that pillow on the side in your bunk bed,” I asked him annoyed at the clutter. “My hand gets tired when I am reading amma, this pillow is to rest my hand and hold the book at the right angle,” he replied leaving me amused. “And why do you have books tucked under your pillow. If you remove them, you can sleep comfortably, right?” I rested my case. “It’s ok amma. It’s not uncomfortable. When I wake up early, I am too lazy to get down and grab a book. This way I can just be lazy and read in my bed.” Gotta love this planned deliberate laziness! Gave me a chuckle and a smile a mile long.
  • Have you read about the Love Languages by Gary Chapman?  It came up in one of the workshops that the middle school conducted. Curious to know my Love Language, I took the quiz and so did Hari. It sounds cheesy but trust me, give it a shot. You will learn something about yourself. It can be done with partners or with your child. The premise being not all of us love and expect to be loved in the same manner. By understanding our love languages, we can enrich our relationships. It makes a lot of sense to me.  Now that I know Hari’s love language I will go an extra mile to express my love for him in a language he appreciates. Want to know mine? Mine is Acts of Service and Quality Time. It was somewhat of a aha moment! Now I just need to convince Da to take the quiz, who of course looks at it with disdain.
  • Set up my new iPhone XR from work. I am not a lover of gadgets, but even for me it was nice to play with a new toy.  My eyes lit up whenever I discovered a new feature.
  • A NY ritual that I picked from my dad is sending out new year wishes to near and dears. Once a year, I send lengthy emails updating folks about the happenings in my life. One or two respond generally respond, and I have felt a bit silly about writing long emails. But this year, a  few more folks responded and cared enough to provide a general update on their life. Their life changes were so inspiring and galvanized me into action.

Tudlu for now. I still have a couple of Costa Rica posts in my head that I hope to pen down here. 

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Posted in Experiences, Family, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Memories, People, Research, Travel, Trying, Us

Goldstars

Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth in Happier with Gretchen podcast have a segment called Goldstar and Demerit. Think of Goldstar as a pat on the shoulder or a smiley face 🙂 and a Demerit as a kick on the bottom or a frowning face 🙁. In a fit of silliness, I started doling out Goldstars and Demerits to the kids during the trip and somehow it has caught on. Every now and then, the boys now come up to me and ask , “Do I get a Goldstar for cleaning up?” “Do I get a Goldstar for doing my homework on time?” I think it is beginning to mean something to them, I can see their eyes shining at the mention of Goldstar. Funny, what started of as a joke is evolving into something more meaningful. 

Why not some travel related Goldstars to all of us?

  • Goldstar to Da, for taking the plunge, and booking the tickets. I kept dilly dallying, procrastinating and feeling utterly overwhelmed. Not knowing where to begin, I conveniently resorted to inaction. Also, Goldstar to Da for constantly making conversations with the Ticos to get local knowledge on places to visit. Thanks to him, we visited the botanical garden and learnt about the artisans shops, which we would not have uncovered otherwise.
  • Goldstar to Hari, for carrying us through this trip with his spanish. He has had only two years of training at school, so is not an expert by any stretch of imagination. Yet, he conversed with the driver, the shopkeepers, and the restaurant folks. Thanks to him, we did not feel the pinch of visiting a country that spoke an unfamiliar language. Mighty proud of him!
  • Goldstar to Ram, for being a trooper. The child had ear infection, bronchitis, and was coughing throughout the trip. But he held on, did not complain, and was eager to take in the travel.  
  • Goldstar to yours truly, for ensuring the house was in order before we left and that our routine would be seamless following our return. I also read up a lot and familiarised myself with the Costa Rican culture prior to the trip.
  • Goldstar to my friends, P and V. We went to Costa Rica from New Jersey. P’s place in NJ is like a second home for us. We go there without even packing our toiletries. Not only did we have a good time there, P helped us with all things that we would need before and after travel. My childhood friend V, did the housekeeping for us here, and welcomed us with home cooked meals and groceries for this week. Truly, I have the best of friends!
Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Holidays, Little Moments, Travel

Ola Amigos (LMT post)

Hope all of you have had a good start to the new year. We are rolling up our sleeves after a rested, relaxed, and rejuvenating vacation. We sneaked in an extra week of summer by visiting Costa Rica over the holidays. There is a lot that I want to jot down here and I hope to do so over the course of this week. Today being Thursday and all that,  how about I get started with some little moments from the trip?

  • The novely of visiting a new country, culture, and lanugage. So much to see, observe, and soak in.
  • That feeling of namba ooru right from the get go. Costa Rica is a cross between US and India. As we were driving from the airport to our hotel, Da and I kept pointing out how the roads  reminded us of 100 feet road (in Chennai), and Attapur (in Hyderabad). There were two wheelers, soda shops (roadside tea shops like back home), banana trees, and christmas decorations. That feeling of being in US and India at the same time!
  • And oh the weather, with the right amount of sunshine and breeze, it was just what I was craving for. The mountains were slightly colder and the beaches hotter, but all in all, pleasant, mild, and enjoyable.  
  • Ripe juicy delicious papayas as part of the breakfast at the hotel. I could not have enough of it! And not to mention the gallo pinto (Costa Rican dish made of rice and beans – really yum). This, I could have enough of, for there is only so much beans the stomach is capable of handling!
  • Meeting the super friendly Ticos (as the Costa Ricans call themselves). Our travel agent at the the hotel, the tour guides, the vendors at the shops. Laughters and hugs were exchanged over the course of the week!
  • Being so close to nature, be it the rainforest that was brimming with life or the sandy beaches that mesmerised us with its vastness. I just kept wishing I was a botanist, naturalist, I would have appreciated the place at a different level. But even for a novice like me, the beauty of Costa Rica was not lost.
  • Shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Costa Rica is known for coffee, wood, and folk art. The municipal artisan shopping center would have had about 100 vendors, all selling similar stuff (like Pondy Bazaar in Chennai). Some retail therapy enhanced the experience, I must confess.

Truly, travel expands our understanding of the world and helps us see it through a fresh set of eyes.  Costa Rica, muchas gracias (thank you very much) for the good times! Pura Vida!

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Intentions, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Milestones, Us

2018 Year end report

Time for year end review post. What were the mile markers in this year’s journey? How did we do as a family?

The year started with all of us settling down in our renovated house. It was a humongous relief getting the house to ourselves after living with the construction noise, clutter, dust, uncertainty, and intrusion for close to six months. We hosted our immediate and extended family for Hari’s poonal function, our neighbors for thanksgiving, and are hosting the weekly Destination Imagination meetings. Many evenings, we are huddled together in the home office to finish up on commitments related to school, work and others. Weekends are spent watching movies as a family cosying up in the media portion of the attic.  The day is not complete without Da and Hari chilling out in the attic tossing a few balls and hitting a few shots in the attic. Ram has made use of every inch of his room, and has been royally kicking us out should we not honor the rules that he has set. All in all, incredibly thankful for the big and little moments that the renovation had made it possible for us.

Soon after that we got knee deep in poonal preparations. It was a ton of work, money and planning. It was an enjoyable and learning experience. It was a very humbling one too because you realize it takes many hands and all stars to align to make it happen. Lucky for us, our friends and family were such troopers! Loved loved having all the little humans gathered under our roof. Every once in a while, we, meaning I, guilt Hari into doing his sandhi or atleast the Gayathri mantram. Other than that, post poonal life has been business as usual for the chap.

We had Aaru and family stay with us for an additional month, and my parents for the next few months. T.H.A.N.K.F.U.L for the joy, for the bonding, and for the opportunity. And oh, our yard saw some pruning, trimming and planting, all credit goes to amma and Da. They made my dream of having rose bushes in the front yard happen. We did local stuff and celebrated festivals with appa and amma. Hari and Da went to San Francisco and Washington DC for cricket tournaments.

Fall went by in a blur with back to school, navratri, diwali, halloween and thanksgiving. A ton of stuff packed in these months, there was hardly any time to breathe.

Hari and Ram have lapped up all the affection they got from the family during their stay and have lavished them in return. They have been working hard on school and other activities. Private baseball did not work out for Hari this year but he has channeled all that energy towards cricket. School is keeping him on his toes. He has taken advanced math course and that’s been the training ground for him and us as a family for high school. Ram’s academics has ramped up too. His sole mission is to do all things required of him, so he can just relax and get bored. And I can tell you, there is no better motivator than that! Da has done well, and the highlight for him is taking up managing the Destination Imagination for a small group of kids. It is not easy work and I proud of him for doing it with enthusiasm, without an iota of resentment. As far me, the year was a mixed bag. Worked on a really interesting project at work during the first six months. I could not take up dance class due to schedule conflicts. I helped organize the diwali event for the town this year. I embraced a little bit more of technology in Sunday school. I have languished on my eating and workout habits. Going easy on myself is not an approach that works for me. Lesson learnt!

How did your 2018 go? What are you proud of? What are some lessons your learnt? 

Posted in Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Uncategorized

A gem

As I was sorting through a mountain of papers in our home office, a handmade book stood out, taunting me to pick it up. It was titled “Embracing Change – a story based on the life of Maha by Hari (her son)” The cover had a picture of me as a 6 year old, with an arrow pointing to a picture of me from two years back. Ha, it slowly jogged the memory of what went into the making of that book. It was a book of poem with yours truly as a subject in the context of immigration. Hari had written it for his World Geo assignment last year (seventh grade). I remember Hari interviewing me, asking me to share the nitty gritties of my life story prior to and soon after coming to the US, asking me very specific questions. He spent a ton of time getting to know my story and internalizing it. The output was a five page, close to 950 words poem.

“A treasure… a lovely gift/tribute for your mother,” commented the teacher. I don’t think I appreciated it as much last year when he actually wrote it.  I mean I was touched but I was nitpicking on the grammar and the facts rather than appreciating the underlying intent. Today, in hindsight, I realize, being the subject of this poem has been the greatest honor of my life!

I will share this poem in five different posts here. Not to flaunt him but because this blog has sort of become the book of my life where I jot down all things close to my heart. The poem is poignant, in parts funny. Although it is in my voice, the child has taken some poetic license. 

Posted in Little Moments, Uncategorized

Little Moments

Another thursday, another little moments post.

  • We had a party to celebrate Hari’s birthday. It was much fun to see his friends. I love love spending time with Hari’s and Ram’s friends. Not just to see my kids in the context of their friends but to observe the different personalities packed in a room, interacting with each other. The party was based on virtual reality, so you can imagine the excitement over it!
  • As I reflect on the week that has gone by, the only thing I can think of is how much I have slept..! I have been happily  going to bed as early as 8:45 PM. What can I say, I have quite the envious nightlife.
  • Spending time with Hari doing Math. Spending time with Ram doing Tamil homework. Spending time with kids is time well spent!
  • Ram and I visited our happy place after ages – the local library!
  • Lunch at a place with ambiance on a work day.
Posted in Gratitude, Little Moments

Little Moments Thursday

Thankful for the little moments that made my week.

  • Coming home with the christmas songs playing as the christmas tree is being set up.
  • I made the mistake of telling Hari that I am lacking motivation to work out. And the child has taken upon himself to be my coach. “You can do it girl,” “Atta girl.” I moan and groan as he cheers me. 
  • Tinkered with my Linkedin profile, expanded my network, and got it in decent shape. This would be my gold star for the week as I have been procrastinating on this task forever.
  • Watching Ram and his Destination Imagination buddies problem solve and work on Instant Challenges. I can never stop marveling at how well children at figuring it out on their own.
  • Memorizing accham illai accham illai with Ram. There used to be a time when the poem was an inspiration, now the gratitication is from the time spent with the child.