Milestones, Ram Leela, Wishes

Super Seven

The feisty little kid of our house is turning a year older tomorrow. He is growing by leaps and bounds and yet in our eyes, he remains the pint sized love that has us wrapped around his little finger. He likes the attention, the pampering, being the little one, the pet of our household.  He is a child of leisure, one that enjoys being in his own company. He is self taught, one that likes to chart his own course. He perseveres, working very hard at whatever catches his fancy – be it a 90-page word search book or making 3D fuse beads from you tube videos! They say that children don’t come with instruction manual. This one does. One can read him like a book. He is consistent, predictable and articulate. He is sensitive but knows the art of standing up for himself. He is a very courageous and strong child, overcoming his inhibitions and doing what it takes to get the job done. An origami artist. A book worm. An on-demand crier. A Lego maniac. A cucumber lover.  A problem solver. A doting brother. The apple of our eyes.

Happiest of birthdays to dearest Ram. It has been a joy, privilege and an honor to see you shaping up to be this fine individual. Thank you for coming into our lives and filling it with so much happiness. Wishing you the bestest that life has to offer, now and always!  XOXO. 

Akhil

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Experiences, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

The adult in the child

It’s hard to pinpoint whether it’s the age, the gender, the birth order or his personality, Hari has a protective streak in him. You can see it loud and clear when he is with his little brother, but it is beginning to shine through when he is around me as well. It’s sweet, endearing, and heartwarming.

It was one of those evenings when we had flash flood warning with thunder and lightening. As predicted, the evening was rather messy. I was returning from dance class and as soon as I came home, Hari heaved a sigh of relief, a smile spreading on his face. “Are you ok amma? I was so worried for you with all the thunder and lightening outside. I am happy you reached home safe and we are all under the same roof.”  We gave each other the tightest of hugs that night, he out of relief from seeing me safe and sound and I from getting a glimpse of the adult in my sweet lovable child.

The construction workers were working on the kitchen window, which was a few feet away from the restroom window. I was articulating my reluctance aloud “Oh boy, looks like I just have to hold it in today till the workers leave. I don’t feel comfortable using the restroom with them working right next to the window.” A few minutes later, Hari came up to me. “Amma, the shutters are already down. There was a little see through, I stuffed our hand towel there so nobody will be able to see you from outside. You don’t have to worry now amma.”  I was pleasantly taken aback by this unexpected gesture over something that I said lightly without actually meaning it. If it had come from anyone else including Da, I would have gotten all righteous and unaccepting. I am very capable of protecting myself and problem solving, you know?  I don’t need anyone to save or protect me. But with this son of mine, I see the act for what it is; a basic instinct to protect someone you love and care. And I lapped it all up.

He is growing up, inside and out. And what a privilege it is to be such an integral part of it, seeing it unravel right in front of our eyes.

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Experiences, Experiments, Family, Little Moments, Memories, Milestones, Us

Solar Eclipse 2017

The total solar eclipse of 2017 was an underwhelming experience in our part of the country. From what I saw on the live streaming of the eclipse, for folks who experienced it first hand, it was spectacular and profound – the temporary darkness smack in the middle of the day, the sudden chilling of the air, and the realization that we are all connected by this cosmic energy. I can only imagine!

We too had our share of fun. Yesterday, Da had made a contraption out of a carton for our viewing. It was super fun parading in and out of the house to catch a glimpse of the sun and the moon playing tango.

I hear we will be in the path for the next total solar eclipse in 2024, so better luck to us then.

See that crescent shaped sun? 

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Dance, Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Memories, Milestones, N40

Me, myself and my dance

Life beckons and I have to heed to it. Yet, I linger, wanting to soak in the sudden emptiness that I am feeling. For the past six months, dance has ranked high in my list of priorities. For the past six weeks, dance has been the center of my life. The critic in me chides me for not doing more, for not trying harder, for not making the most of the opportunity.  Yet, the pragmatic in me acknowledges that while there is always room to do more and be better, I did the best I could on any given day. Some days my best was good enough and on other days it was not.  And that’s part of being a human.

I have given my bare minimum to my family for the past several months. Dance is to me what sports is to Hari. In that we share a connection. A connection that is born out of setting your heart at something, working on it, feeling jubilant on some days, feeling disappointed on other days, and knowing that true strength lies in picking ourselves up every time we fall. Hari has shielded me with his pep talks, “Just imagine Ram and I waving at you amma if you get the jitters.”  He has held down the fort stepping up to be there for his little brother in my absence. And Ram what can I say about this little one, our very own Krishna? Dance has given us the gift of new bonding experience. I just love to sing “Avani rohini ashtami yele aradhajama nerathile avadharithaya” as I give a cheek rub to him, a rush of love washing over me. Da has been the pillar of support I have leaned on. Where do I even begin? Suffice to say that he walked the talk and did so wholeheartedly, doing all the heavy lifting, and making sure that the kids do not get shortchanged. I don’t think I would have been as unwavering in my support for him if I were in his shoes, so not for a second I take his support for granted. I am especially thankful to him for nailing the big picture in my head – it’s rare to get an opportunity to do something like this, outside of the commitments that life thrusts on us, at this stage of our lives and I should remember to derive positive energy from it and not get distracted with the noises. 

Over the past six weeks my dance mates and I have spent close to 30 hours per week in dance practices. I would love to say that all that time was spent dancing, but that’s not how it works. You wait a lot, then you practice some. Going after your passion may sound like pure bliss and all lofty. But the truth is even for pursuits of your choice, they come with their share of baggage. We were preparing for a 3-day dance event, one that we knew was going to be a labor of love. Taking care of the practical aspects was the easier part. It was the emotional part that involved a ton of hard work. To stay focused, to push oneself harder, to not get lost in the stories we tell ourselves, and to practice self compassion.

Some days were more challenging than others and a little TLC went a long way in building that resilience muscle. One of the best parts about the dance camp was the support group we developed and the plethora of opportunities we had to get to know each other as individuals. We rooted, helped, inspired, provided constructive feedback, showed appreciation, and hugged each other. On the day of the performance, we complimented each other on how we looked. I think it had less to do with makeup and costumes and more to do with how fond we had grown of each other. They say friends come into our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime. Only time will tell what path our friendships will take. One thing is for certain; the summer of this year will go down in the books of our lives as a time that weaved us all together in a shared experience, and from knowing  that we all gave it our all no matter what else was going in our lives.

I feel immensely thankful to my teacher for her bold vision and audacious dreams for her milestone production, and getting all of us pumped up about it. I am deeply grateful she introduced us to one of the finest teachers and choreographers, who we fondly address as Thiru anna. One who believes that everyone is capable, that imperfections are part of being a human, and that mistakes are ok but to remember to never lose the happiness one derives from dancing. It was a blessing to be part of anna’s creative process and seeing first hand how even a small act can be elevated to a higher level with willingness, creativity and effort. Such a precious and rewarding experience. 

If you had asked me last week, I would have told you that I can’t wait for this week to come. What I expected to feel was relief at being able to move on with other aspects of my life. What I am feeling instead is an emptiness that comes from having to let go something that gave an intense sense of purpose and pushed us beyond our comfort zones. I don’t want this emptiness to end, so I prolong. Checking whatsapp messages, refreshing facebook page, and going through the motions of the past six weeks, and itching to do more. 

Dance means different things to different people. To me, bharathanatyam is my Zen. It helps me discover more about myself,  be accepting of my strengths and weaknesses, quench my thirst to learn and grow as a person.  And for that I am eternally grateful and incredibly blessed. 

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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, 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, Gratitude, Milestones, Ram Leela, Reading

Drum rolls please!

yRam: Mom, why are you using baby soap for me?

Me: Who said that this is baby soap?

Ram: See, it says on the bottle.

Me: I did not read that Ram. But are you able to read what’s written on the bottle? You can read now?

Ram: Yes amma. I can read three or four letters. But not difficult complicated words. I read by myself when you are not around.

Me: Can you please read to me this evening, that would make me soooo happy!

I love this age and stage when learning is curiosity and not necessity driven. When there are no have to, just want to in a child’s vocabulary. When learning happens naturally and effortless. Ram has been picture walking for the longest time and I have wondered if picture walking had become a crutch that was holding him back from reading words. Even if it were, I think it’s still a good thing because he got to experience the book the way he wanted to. He read the 10 Apples up on top from the first to the last page last night. A smile slipping through the corner of his mouth and a sense of pride glinting in his eyes. Yay Ram, yay to a lifetime of reading…! May your love for the written word last forever.

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