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!

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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.
Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Kids, Little Moments

Thanksgiving Little Moments

In this part of the world, we had a nice long thanksgiving weekend. It was much needed break from all things routine. I am very thankful for,

  • An early relaxed start to the long weekend. I took the Wednesday off and our friends arrived that afternoon. It set the right mood for the break.
  • A full house with four adults and five kids, all having their kind of fun. Late night chit chatting and movie watching, video gaming, some crafting and dancing thrown in the mix.  No expectations, no obligations. Just us being us.
  • Friends coming together to celebrate Hari, who is lucky to have uncles and aunts who bypass his parents to know what he truly wants for his special day, and buying it for him in a heartbeat.
  • Cold weather, which meant we were not tempted to step outside but spend quality time huddled together under the same roof.
  • A sickness free weekend. Didn’t want to send our little and not so little visitors with pesky germs.
  • Lots and lots of hugs, cuddles, kisses, and tenderness from twin darlings!
  • Wardrobe exchange. The clothes have had a good life doing their rounds from one child to the other.

Hope you are feeling refreshed and are getting geared up for the work week. Tudlu for now!

Posted in Gratitude, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Conversations

Recording some of conversations with little Ram that filled my heart and touched my soul. So very greatful to be at the receiving end of this sugary syrupy goodness.

  • His eyes well up as Hari and I talk about what just the two of us can do. He gets down from the car and confronts me. “Amma you do so many special things with anna. You eat out when you go to his doctor’s appointment, you go shopping with him, and after I sleep the three of you sneak up to the attic to watch TV. Tell me three things that only you and I do. I want to spend lots and lots of time with you amma. I want to have special things that only you and I do.” I wanted to list out our exclusive things except that my heart was already a pot of mush. I know I am his mommy and this is expected, still can’t take this pure unadulterated endearing expression of love for granted.
  • We are all heading back from temple and are giving feedback on what each of us need to work on. I tell Ram that he is very good at taking responsibility for making things that he wants happen but needs to improve on managing his emotions when things don’t go his way. “Use words kanna, not tears,” “I try amma but the tears won’t stop coming.” So genuine, so authentic, telling things as is without any pretense. What a privilege it is to raise little humans who are never afraid to be vulnerable.
  • Da and I were discussing extracurricular activities and unintentionally we were piling more on his plate. The child noticed and made it clear in no uncertain terms that, “Amma, I don’t like doing too many things. I want time to just relax, be lazy, and read. Can you not put me in too many activities?” Ha, very often without his knowledge the child gives instructions on how to raise him. Makes the job so much easier and abundantly joyful!
  • Sitting on his bean bag, Ram got all philosophical. “Amma, I just noticed that I have to work hard to get the things I like. For example, to get a Star Student Bear at school, I have to keep up with expected behavior. To get video game time, I have to do tamizh homework and guitar practice. If I want my room to be clean, I have to clean it up” It’s a gift to see a child grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally right under your watchful eyes!
  • Many nights Ram and I sleep in his twin mattress. He inches to me, puts his hand on top of my body, his legs on mine, and he asks for me to place my hand at the nape of his neck so he can use it as a pillow. The intensity of the day melts, all the stress evaporates, and I drift to sleep peacefully. Incredibly grateful that I have experienced this time and again.