Us, Now

My Now

I am sitting in the home office, the pendant lamps giving the much needed focused lighting on my laptop, the orangish brown accent wall providing a vibrant contrast to the wooden bench that was built so all of us can huddle together, sans any distractions, for some productive time.

Next to me, is an empty Ninja Turtle cup and a green straw, the one from which Ram was sipping his Bournvita as he worked on his comic book – Adventures of The Star Man. Apparently, he is going to write sequels to this book. So he is calling it, Adventures of The Star Man – Book 1. He has drawn stars and many speech bubbles. I am tempted to ask for the story line but he has lost himself in the world of Dragonbreath. May be later? Just before pivoting to reading, he and I had a discussion around arranging the books in his room. He wanted to order them in a series, I want him to focus on books he will read often so he will have easy access. The child put the discussion to an end by declaring that he reads all his books many times over so it doesn’t matter. Sigh! 13 years of parenting has taught me to sense a losing battle a mile away and to gracefully let it go before it escalates and swallows your morning.

Hari is sitting next to me working on his english assignment. He is required to write a 450-550 words personal narrative. I quite like what he has written. He has chosen a small moment from our visit to the Arkansas zoo when a lion pee splashed on his ipad and has expanded on it.  The essay needs some fine tuning and he is suffering from a severe case of writer’s’ block. “Amma, can you help me?” he asked. “Of course, tell me what can I do?” “Just sit next to me and do some work so I will get motivated” And that’s exactly why this post came to be.

The child is doing all sorts of antics – pulling his hair out, checking out thesaurus, lovingly glance at his younger brother… looks like the mojo will return in its sweet time..!

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Us

Team work

Another thank you coming in the way of the renovation project.

One of the things that our house lacked prior to the renovation was closets and storage space. We didn’t have enough wardrobe space, so the clothes were spilling all over the bedroom. We didn’t have a closet where the kids could store their sports related stuff, as a result the living room doubled up as mud room. We couldn’t carve out a space for working, so the dining table conveniently became a catch all place for all of us to work.

This is not a bad situation to be in and one could argue that it builds character and presents an opportunity to embrace simple living. Except that in our household, it resulted in  frustration, fiery glances and endless finger pointing. After many failed attempts to declutter and simplify, it became clear that we had to rethink our ways. The renovation project presented a golden opportunity.

Da and I spent hours designing our closets, home office, and mudroom. Initially, I felt like an impostor using the word design. “Us and design?” is what I thought to myself. But turns out that we and only we are the experts at knowing our needs and wants. Once we zeroed in on that,  designing a space came naturally. Spending time with Da figuring out our needs, brainstorming ideas, browsing over pages of Pinterest images and Houzz articles, working around our constraints and ultimately committing the design to paper has definitely been one of my favorite parts of this initiative. It put the focus on the process rather than the end result.

I would not be surprised if we continue to go on with our careless ways even after the home improvement but I am immensely thankful for the hours spent working together with Da. It is one of the things that makes this house a home. Our home.

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Gratitude, Us

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s about 9:20 P.M. I open the kitchen cabinets, one by one, and smile to myself with satisfaction. Since the time I woke up this morning, I poured myself into micro cleaning the kitchen and the dining room. A place for everything and everything in its place, a statement from my 11th standard commerce book comes to mind. It was a statement meant to explain one of the management principles. I think today I earned the right to say that my kitchen and dining room bear some semblance of order. It feels good. It feels like home.

I would like to think that we have been dealing with renovation related disruption gracefully, understanding for the most part that this temporary inconvenience and disruption is the price we pay for living in a house that we are renovating. However, there have been days, especially this month when we have felt disoriented from having to scramble around for essentials. Luckily, we see the end of the tunnel plus everyday the progress made is tangible.  So even when it feels like we are in a rudderless boat, there is a sense of calmness in seeing the shore is within our eyesight.. If temporary disruptions that is expected to have a happy ending can be this challenging, I can’t imagine what it must be to not have a guaranteed home to come to.

This Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for the roof over our head and for our cosy little nest. I am thankful that we were able to take the renovation project on and run with it. I am thankful that we are working with someone we quite like. I am thankful that the kids were troopers, accommodating the multiple trips to the tile store and not letting this project come in the way of their learning. I am thankful that Da and I spent a ton of time together figuring out the nitty gritties. Much gratitude indeed!

Happy Thanksgiving from ours to yours.

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Us

Travel Musings

I am writing this post in the South Carolina airport waiting area. There is a good one hour for boarding and seven long hours to reach home. In spite of the lingering headache, I feel relief.  A relief from knowing that my work for today went well and I can get back to my routine work tomorrow. I feel a wave of gratitude fill my heart.

Although I have not gone around the city, Charlestown seems to be a nice place. It’s brisk and sunny outside. People are consistently warm, polite and kind. My cab driver, who was on the elderly side, is one of the friendliest persons I have met. As he said good bye to me, he shared the rules he lives by – “Be thankful, be courteous, and be on time” I nodded with a smile, his good nature rubbing on to me.

I parade the airport up and down for Panthers t-shirt for Hari. He had asked for one, “It’s ok if you don’t get it, but look for one amma” I don’t like the price tag, I am not impressed with the quality, but I overlook and grab the black t-shirt. The memory of the incessant text message from him yesterday cheers me up. I confess, when I am the one receiving the text messages, I am less judgmental and have more tolerance for teens with cell phones. “I wish I have all the cool gifs that you have,” I texted him. “When you come home, I will show the app to you” he replied instantly. This is how role reversal creeps in, an advice here, a teaching moment there, and reassurances thrown in the mix.

What to buy for Ram? Can’t make myself get another set of color pencils. The Hudson store has very limited options and I don’t want to spend too much. I manage to find a travel Snake and Ladders board game. When I spoke to Ram this morning he seem to have had a rough night with the coughing. Poor little one. I think of all the giggles that the dad and son had over Pinky and the Brain, and the innocence of it all makes my spirits soar.

I buy an apple turnover Nutella pastry for Da from the gourmet bakery. “Ram eat your breakfast”, “Hari did you pack your snack?”, “Did you book the taxi Maha?” He managed to squeeze all these questions in one conversation to three different people during my call this morning. It’s a crazy week to single handedly hold down the fort. The painters and the flooring guys are at home to do what they need to do. We have limited access to essentials and over 2/3 of the house is off-limits. Being the uncomplicated guy that he is, he takes it in stride. He does what he can, is content with very little, gives his all to his family and has no qualms about saying no when he cannot.

Another day. Another adventure. Thankful that we thrived.

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Detox, Food, Gratitude, Health and fitness, Introspection, Us

Fitness Diary – Day 11 and Day 12

Day 11

I was half asleep yesterday before I realized that I had forgotten the journal entry for the day. It was too late to turnaround and make amends.

Eats – so so. Dark chocolate is my vice. Thank God for this workshop because yesterday would have been one of those days I would have indulged in gluttony but good sense prevailed and the damage was minimized. 

Workout – 17 mins jogging. Meditation – 9 mins. Hydration – so so.  

Gratitude – thankful that I did not go overboard with the eating, thankful that I was able to take the day off to catch up on some household projects, thankful that I had a partially productive day.

Focus in the workshop was exercise – aerobics, anaerobics and flexibility. It is recommended that aerobics be done for not more than 3 days per week. High Intensity Interval Training, a form of anaerobic exercise is the most efficient way to lose excess fat. Personally, I tend to focus only on aerobic exercise. I have weights at home, time to dust them out. I also want to spend one day recovering by doing  yoga, perhaps surya namskar.

Day 12

Today was spent reflecting on random things. I was getting a little frustrated about a certain paperwork that was taking longer than I had hoped for. But I am proud of myself for not letting the frustration get the better of me, I kept chugging along.

Eats – so so. Besan chila for breakfast, ragi dosai for lunch, tacos and veggie rice bowl for dinner. So so because of the raisin toast and the extra dark chocolates that I had.

Workout – 17 mins of running. Meditation – 9 mins. Hydration – bad, did not even attempt. Sleep – so so.

Gratitude – 1. Thankful that I kept reframing and refocusing today and channeled my frustration to productive work. 2. Thankful that although the odds were not in my favor, I managed to pay my monthly visit to the parlor. 3. Thankful for the healing power of space and time – sickness, disappointments, frustrations, squabbles – we have a tendency to hasten the healing in an attempt to make ourselves better sooner than later. But healing takes space and time. Space to experience the unpleasantness and the time to put the suffering in perspective.  

Today’s focus was on eating seasonal and local foods. Eat what’s in season, and eat what’s local. This makes a lot of sense to me.  Here’s a useful link – http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=28

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Inspiration, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Me, Reading, Uncategorized, Us

On reading

We were resting in the tent indulging in the leisure that a beach trip rewards you with. I looked up from my book and declared to nobody in particular, “Poor Mr. Darcy. All because he was an introvert!” My unintentional and sudden outburst elicited uncontrollable giggles from my offsprings. After the amusement settled down, the first born quizzed, “Who is Mr. Darcy”, the second born questioned, “What does an introvert mean?”  Their questions were lost on me, as I had long delved back into the world of  Lizzy, Darcy, Jane and Bingley, oblivious to my curious boys. They gave up and ran back to the waves. 

It felt so good to be lost in this world that Jane Austen had built that it was a sweet burden to pull the mind back to where the body was. What fine writing!

The reading experience was reassuring because I was beginning to wonder if my love for reading was just a figment of my imagination; something that I made up in my mind. Perhaps I liked the idea of reading more than reading itself?  I felt like an imposter when I borrowed books from the library. Finally,  I feel liberated from those self-doubts! For sure, I can say, I too love reading!

A couple of weeks back during our road trip, the conversation meandered to reading styles and habits. I told the family how I tend to take a long time to warm up to characters and story plot. That I read the first few pages very very slowly, and at some point, there is a flip of the switch and the pace picks up. Hari, who likes to read books in one sitting, said he has a different style. “I love reading the first portion of any book. It is so exciting to get introduced to all the characters and see the story unfold. It is in the middle that I slow down.” Da, who is a very fast reader, commented that for him it is the last part of any story that slows him down. And not wanting to be left out, the voracious reader of the family, our Ram, piped in, “I don’t slow down at all. I like reading the first, the second and the last part”  Atta boy! I thought to myself. Not necessarily for what he said on his reading style but that he made his opinion matter. A lot of times, may be because he is small relative to the rest of us, we overlook him on subjects that involve deeper discussion but he always stands tall,  makes his voice heard, and weighs in with his thoughts. Never ceases to surprise me. Anyway, I digress.

This discussion was a revelation to me. It made me cognizant of my reading style and helped me figure out why I have been reading less. The first few chapters requires that I stick to the book, so it can grip me.  Without understanding that piece, I have been expecting to instantly immerse myself in the story and have ended up feeling utterly disappointed.  I am not sure I got my reading mojo back but it is good to know that there is some mojo left.

What is your reading style? Do you ever suffer from a reading block? What are you reading? What is next on your list?

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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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