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? 

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.


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.

Holidays, Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

Holiday Updates

  • Santa came, and so did the Tooth Fairy…!!! Our little Ram lost his first baby tooth this past weekend. His grown up tooth has already sprouted, so he is technically not a pokka vai. The Tooth Fairy left a 5-dollar note for the child. The first child glared at his parents, rolled his eyes, and asked, “How come the Tooth Fairy left me only one dollar for my first tooth and nothing for the seventeen that fell after that?”  What can I say, the Tooth Fairy seems to have suffered from a major memory loss…!
  • Da and Ram were playing with the 3D printing pen that Santa left for Hari, who could care less about the unsolicited gift.  Ram was intrigued. “Appa, how come you and I are the ones doing scientific stuff and have talked a lot about 3D printers but anna gets a 3D printing pen?”  What can I say, Santa seems to have had a major lapse in judgement!
  • We visited our friends in the next state over the long weekend. During my tête–à–tête with little N the earlier day, he told me with unmistakable excitement in his voice that he was looking forward to our visit  more than Christmas. We outrank Santa, can you believe that?
  • Your truly has watched three movies this week. Fantastic Beasts with the one and only spouse on a rare day off for both of us and not for the kids. Loved every minute of the movie. Then, went to Dangal with a friend. The movie stretched in parts, but overall good one. And today, Hari, Ram and I went for Sing. A very nice kids movie that I too enjoyed!
  • I have been off work since two days prior to Christmas. Unsurprisingly I had grand dreams to tackle all the pending stuff but surprisingly I am not bothered that I have not accomplished a fraction of things on my To Do list. This is the calm before the storm, so I might as well make the most out of it. Once work and school resume, it’s going to be a whirlwind of activities and deadlines till next Fall. So yeah, stay calm and rest when you can!
Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

I voted! (Gratitude Journal – Day 2)

While election day is officially on Nov. 08, Early Voting allows voters to cast their vote in advance. Initially I wanted to soak in the spirit and vote on the scheduled date but as the days passed by, an acute sense of wanting to exercise my franchise gripped me. So today was the day and off we went to make our voices heard..!

This is my first time ever voting, let alone in the US. So you can imagine the excitement!  The voting was a pretty straight forward 15-minute affair. We gave our precinct information, cast our ballot, and came home with the I Voted sticker. The presidential vote was a no brainer,  but the state ballot questions required some research, understanding, and introspection  prior to voting. Casting the vote made me feel like I matter, made me realize that there is more skin in the game and that I need to be engaged in the community that I am part of.

As Da and I took a selfie with the I voted sticker,  I felt gratitude for this country that has embraced us and that is home to our children. It’s a place that I have grown fond of. My town, my neighborhood. I know this election has been a petty and scary one. But there are good people stories too you know? Like the story of my cleaner who got her citizenship on the same day as we did. She works on 3 jobs, 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, to make her ends meet and support her family back home.  The citizenship was the panacea of sort for her hardships. The American Dream coming to life. There is goodness amongst this ugliness. 

Gratitude, Hari Katha, Milestones, Uncategorized, Wishes

Moving on

I am bone tired as I type this post, but didn’t want this milestone to slip by without recording it here.

The hoopla does get to you. I kept telling myself, isn’t he just going from fifth grade to sixth? What’s the big deal? But after the Moving On Ceremony, the numerous activities and parties packed within the past two days, and finally, as I saw Hari painstakingly work on his good bye cards to his favorite teachers, it’s hard not to feel a tug at the heartstrings.

We are so thankful that the child had a positive experience in elementary school, that his foundational years were spent in a nurturing environment that allowed him to grow and thrive. My heartfelt gratitude to all the teachers, each of whom have made such a lasting impact on him.

Hari, take that sparkle with you child as one phase comes to an end and another exciting one is about to begin..! We are so proud that you are ours.

Experiences, Family, Hari Katha, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

Nature’s Classroom

Since this morning there were telltale signs of excitement and nervousness. Hari wrote extra Sriramajayams in his prayer book. He stuck to his little brother like a velcro, giving him tight hugs as we dropped him at preschool. He even tolerated my tardiness and willingly wore the smilie wrist band that I offered to him as a comfort item.

As we hurriedly headed to the the school entrance, he leaned on me, signaling for a hug. I had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming – is this my 11-year old asking for a hug? publicly? at the school entrance where his friends could see him in the act? Awww… my baby! A wave of affection swept over me as I hugged him and reminded him to stay safe, healthy and have fun. I reassured him that he would be ok without us around, all will be well, it’s just three days, and that he would have the time of his life. I suggested some ways to cope should he feel homesick. He was ready. I was ready. There it was the much anticipated trip of the year – Nature’s Classroom, a three-day, two-night camp for fifth graders.

I lingered for a while my eyes fixated on this little child of ours. He deftly managed his roll on, effortlessly carried his backpack, and seemed fully in control of himself. I think I got a glimpse of what it is to see your child spread his wings and soar high.