Happy 15th

Dear Daaru,

15 it is my dear. Darling + Daughter makes it Daaru, a pet name Amma came up with to call you during this quarantine time. This birthday will be unique and remembered for a longer time for the nature of life we are living now.

You are someone who can just stay put at home all through the year. Your needs are very simple. FOOD and TV. That’s it. Oh, and Amma’s phone. Mind you not your phone. You check my phone more than yours as you like to catch up on all my messages!! It seems you can follow me in Instagram, but I cannot follow you!! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around my dear?

You are self-managed except for few habits like remind to wash your hair, remind to not use my towel if your towel is misplaced, remind to not hunt my closet for fancy shirts when you have a presentation (learn to move on and build your closet lady)

We haven’t succeeded in making you do chores for money or free pass as you have no clue what to do with either money or free pass.

Money is not needed as your needs are very simple. You can live with 2 free t-shirts and 2 pants. You don’t need any makeup items. You are not a gadgets person. You don’t go out with friends or you don’t shop on your own. Are you for real? What else can I use to bribe my Daaru?

I am still wondering what will you do if I give you a free pass? Is it because we respect your choices and fulfill them, or you act responsible on your own?

You have the power to make Appa do a store run in middle of his work just because there is no snack aka junk at home whereas I have to wait till the weekend to make him buy essential groceries.

You are everything for your little brother. I mean everything. He wants to marry you and get settled so you will stay with him forever! Every single sentence he utters ends with a “right Akka?” and you validate dutifully. It is a sight to watch your sibling love and random conversations. You help him with homework and correct/teach him if you find out your little brother is lagging on something. You call him “Avi”. You are very concerned about his quarantine bedtime routine and the amount of sleep he gets. A first grader is not supposed to be awake past 10:30pm, So you request Appa to allow him to sleep more in the morning.

Your often-spoken words in this year are “Amma, you look quite delicious today, I am going to eat you”, “I am going to eat somebody today”, the word “butt” has somehow caught your fancy attention lately. You do not understand what grounded means, so we make you do some physical activity like jumping jacks, squats, burpees whenever you use “b” word.

Appa and you have come up with a form of “Chicken dance”. The deal is one who seeks help has to watch the chicken dance before getting the help! You make coffee for him and he has to watch your chicken dance before he takes that first sip!

You are taking online music theory class for kids as a service during this unprecedented time. I am super proud of the way you engage and teach little kids in that weekly call. You sound like a born teacher and I brim with pride hearing you handling the class! One of my friends texted me later that her 5th grade daughter has so much to talk about “Akka” even after the class. Take a bow dear!

We have moved to a new adobe this year. I know its contradicting, but you are the most impacted and most happy about this move. You LOVE this new home, backyard the most and I am happy to see you happy. It puts my mind to peace about the decision to move.

We have got a lot better with communication, bonding and having many more lighter moments in this new home. I am very busy creating tiny pocket of memory of each of those moments and save them in my brain to cherish later.

I often plead you to take me along with you when you go out for college, I offer to cook/clean for you as I am not positive about handling two extreme boys on my own!

You have randomly started using more “tamil words and tamil sentences” in recent times and let me tell you, it’s an instant mood lifter for me to hear you speak Tamil.

You respond with “enna di” when I call out for you and utter “ennadhuu” when you are in confused state. When I seek help you walk away with your signature style of “po di”. Appa also gets his fair share of “po da” so no complaints!

You have friends but not best friends. You are part of few gang of girlfriends and keep them all the same. At least that is what I know!

You don’t get upset easily except when LHB eats your share of junk or Appa tries to wake you up early on weekends. 10am is early for you and too late for Appa! I give up!

I appreciate you trying to make conversation with Ammachi on video calls. It means the world to her ma!

You have started with eyebrow threading this year. This is the only beauty thing you do other than face wash at the age of 15!!

Your Carnatic vocal music teacher has a soft corner for you and your piano teacher is a gift for you. They both will be your music gurus and you keep in touch with them for rest of your life. Oh, and your former piano teacher from old neighborhood. Make it 3 gurus.

You like baking, cooking Italian dishes and is capable of fixing quick meal for you and LHB.

You want to visit London and Paris.  Our next international trip is only after you secure college admission. You are working hard for your future and I pray for you to get deserving results.

You are a god sent angel to me and sometimes I just pour out my heart expecting you to respond like an adult. I must admit that you are a very good listener and acknowledge my rant! I validate myself with you the same way I do with a friend. You have been very nice and gentle to me in past year and I can’t thank you enough for this!

You are a cry baby when it comes to losing in board games and when LHB gets one extra bite of any junk. Like if you give a share to Appa then he is forced to give a share to me to even out. Sometimes he even gives away his share to you and walks away shrugging his shoulder “It’s okay ma! If I don’t give she will become a cry baby”. Sometimes, I wonder if I am raising a 15-year-old running 7 and a 7-year-old running 15!!

You have been given a generous 10 years to take over the family my dear. The agreement we have or rather I propose is ten years from now, you will take over the home mortgage, get married, stay in this same home, be kind to give 1 room to LHB, give guest room to your parents. I will help you with cooking and babysitting your kids and Appa will help with house/lawn maintenance so you and your partner will have the elder support to raise a family. I know this mommy brain is crazy. On other days I talk about going back to India for my retirement life. Basically, I don’t know how to control my wild thoughts and be loud about this craziness. I hope you don’t get confused with all this craziness of your Amma!! No pressure Daaru!

If there is one word that I want to share with you when you turn 15, it will be “empathy“. Hold on to this word tight as it will help you to grow as a good human and help people around you as well.

You are too good for your age and I wish you good health and happiness all through your life.

Love,
Amma

 

Mother’s day 2020

Started with this post yesterday but dozed off before I could publish. So please adjust and read it like its published yesterday 🙂

I woke up before the kids, walked around the home, had my coffee in peace, made few phone calls and then it happened!

LHB woke up and freaked out as last night he ordered me to stay in bed all day today. He made me go back to bed and stay there for next two hours until breakfast was ready. While Akka was busy in the kitchen, LHB was busy walking between bedroom and kitchen to make sure I am not stepping out of the bed. I was bed locked. Thankfully, I was allowed to speak over the phone so had a looong chat with my friend. He said I can even watch TV if I am bored BUT I was not allowed to step out of the bed.

After two hours, I was blindfolded, taken to the table and presented with an elaborate spread.

Dosas
Scrambled eggs
Buttered bread
Leftover capsicum chutney
All sorts of sauces/jams/pickles
Masala chai in a travel mug
Hot water in flask

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Adi made all of them with no help and the little boy helped to set the table. I was surprised and proud. We relished the brunch and then I was allowed to carry on with weekend kitchen chores.

Next 4 hours was spent in kitchen with songs in the background. It has been a while I listened to songs and the songs lifted up my mood. I decided to make mango kara kuzhambu. Just the thought made my mouth watery and I could literally taste the kuzhambu even before it was ready.

In the next 4 hours, with songs playing in the background thik thai kitchen* dished out

Idli batter
Onion tomato chutney
Mango drumstick kara kuzhambu
Brinjal fry
White rice
Appalam/Fryms
Ground and refilled all spice powder – pepper powder, jira powder and saunf powder

We had dinner in formal dining room and I dressed up for dinner 🙂 Looking at me, LHB also dressed up and surprised us by eating dinner all by himself like he made a plate for himself and ate with hands.

*thik thai kitchen – LHB named our kitchen as thik thai kitchen as apparently he believes that his mom loves Bharathanatyam form of dance.

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He forgot to give me the cards and made up during bedtime.

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Quarantine life

Life has changed for everyone across the world and I hope all of you are finding ways to keep yourself sane, safe and healthy. There is still so much happening in our life and I am learning to live by every moment. I want to jot down my list as categories

Blessings list:

  • Family is safe and healthy.
  • M returned from India just few days before the lockdown started. I just couldn’t get my head around the what-ifs of “if he got stuck in India”.
  • All of us are able to move forward with our work/school with minuscule impact.
  • All the quality time and random lighter moments with family.
  • Impromptu family quick lunch time on kitchen table on days we all could take a 30 minute break from work.
  • LHB’s random melting talks like “Will you be a dear and get me a glass of water?” or “Mother dearest, another Dosa please”. I am sure we have missed living through these moments in the old normal busy life.
  • Access to food, coffee and of course desserts.
  • Family Indian regional movie nights on Friday and Saturday. We explore Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and all other regional movies.
  • Extra sleep time in the morning (this should be on top of my list).
  • No rush bedtime routine (I have started story telling session about Tenali Raman/Akbar-Birbal and we play one board game on most nights).
  • LHB workout routine by dancing mindlessly for Tamil peppy songs and the rest of us sitting around him and laughing hysterically.
  • Kids doing workout as a punishment whenever they use improper words. 20 squats if they say “you are a butt”, 20 jumping jacks or burpees are other workouts.
  • Being able to carryout with most of the work that we used to do in old normal life.
  • More bonding time with family.
  • Not holding on to grudges/skirmishes for a prolonged time. Trying to take one day at a time and look at every day as a new day of opportunity.
  • Weekends mostly start with a family conversation on brunch table with hot just off the stove fresh food.

Whine list:

  • Forcibly becoming a first grade teacher. I dread the study sessions with LHB. He brings the worst out of me and I feel like a terrible parent at the end of every session.
  • Not being able to listen to music (the only time I listen to music is during my commute. No commute, No music).
  • Using Milk like gold.
  • No break from cooking/ever day cooking (it is physically tiring but I enjoy the after moment when family enjoys the meal as meals are mostly prepared based on family members suggestion)

Things I am doing during quarantine time that would have been distant dream otherwise:

  • I start my day with Meditation and Surya namaskar at least 5 times a week.
  • Take workout seriously. Burn the calories either in elliptical or by following a random HIIT workout video at least 3 times a week.
  • Be mindful about the choices made with handling kids (getting better at Respond vs React).
  • Read a book (finally!!!)
  • Active in Instagram (Only food pictures. It will come in handy when the family accuses me of not cooking. You can find me as “anikrish”).
  • Volunteering opportunities. Being part of Mask making project and making a difference in the community.
  • Weekend video call with parents where kids bond with them. I always want to do this but could never get to it due to lack of time and running around hectic weekend schedules.
  • Drink two full bottle of hot lemon infused water throughout the day.

As you see, my whine list looks meagre compared to blessings list so I make it a point to stay positive and count my blessings every single day. That could be one of the reason why I am working on the art of “let go” more than before. It gives me jitters when I think of all families who are impacted first hand during this unprecedented time.

My typical quarantine work day:

7:30am – Wake up
7:30-9am – Morning home duties (Meditation, Surya namaskar, cooking)
9am-5pm – Work, work, work with little breaks. These days I am mostly on video calls all day so have to be presentable too (that means a decent shirt with PJ pants) !! I found a way to setup a budget standing desk with package boxes to alleviate the back pain.
5-7pm – Dinner/cooking/cleaning time.
7pm-10pm – LHB’s study time (If my stars align then he will manage to finish them by 9:30pm so we can play a bedtime board game)
10-11pm – Bedtime routine (story time, game time and then eventually crash time)

My weekdays are passing by like a flash and weekends get over before I could blink my eyes.

Ani’s nest is kind of getting very comfortable with this setup that its going to be a very hard transition for us to get back to old normal life.

Looking forward to hear from all of you my readers. Just tell me all is well on your end and send some love.

 

 

 

 

 

Music class and parenting

Hope all of you are safe and staying indoors. This post is not about how we are adapting to the new way of life that would have been an impossible distant dream until a month ago.

Adi learns carnatic music for few years now. She lost interest sometime last year and have been asking me to stop the class. I promised her that we can stop when we move to new neighborhood citing that as a reason and initiated the conversation with teacher after our move.

The teacher didn’t agree to stop. Her point was Adi is almost close to getting to advanced level and it is not a good idea to take a break now. She advised to continue with online class. So we continued but ever since Adi would take a break every few weeks with some lame excuse. Slowly, she started whining for every class and it was getting worse!

Yesterday, she started whining an hour in advance and went on and on. I tried explaining how her teacher is not agreeing to stop but she didn’t listen. I felt bad for Adi as this setup is not helpful for both her and the teacher. She is not going to learn anything if she attends class with this mindset. So, I called the teacher few minutes before the class and tried explaining again but she didn’t budge. The teacher said let’s go with today’s class and then she will talk to Adi.

The class got over and then teacher called. I explained to her how its getting hard week by week and then teacher spoke with Adi. She explained to her about how close she is to get to next level and how dropping at this stage is not the right decision. This girl nodded her head to teacher and agreed to all that she said. The call ended on a happy note and I felt so relieved.

Later the evening, while we were working in Kitchen Adi started a conversation with me.

Adi: Amma, I have a random question for you!
Amma: Yes dora daru (that is how I call her these days. I will write about it later)
Adi: Why did you call the teacher before class?
Amma: Because, as a parent I have to address your concerns. I cannot ignore it. I didn’t like you whining and felt it needs to be addressed.
Adi: Do you want to know a fun fact?
Amma: Yes
Adi: You did good parenting today!

That comment from her made me fly high. Nothing has changed, she is going to continue with the class but I am glad that I made a decision to call the teacher and not ignore her whining.

Lesson learned: It is very important to show your child that you are listening to them and taking appropriate action as needed. Ignoring the situation doesn’t help to build relationship with a teenager.

Thoughtfulness is

LHB asking me to buy peanut candy for his Appa as Appa is coming home tomorrow bringing loads of goodies and LHB wants to get something that Appa likes to eat.

He also saved this for Appa. He clearly knows the junk person of the house 😀

It reminds me of M’s deal with the kids. “Eat any junk but give me some and then eat”

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Heaven is

the salad your daughter makes for you when she gets home around 2:30pm and you are starving as you skipped lunch attending back to back calls since morning.

Bonus – she serves it to you 🙂

Now I am craving some masala chai and troubling her to make some but she is not budging!!! It seems her quota of help is done for the day!!!

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Thank you

Thank you all for your encouraging positive comments. I am working on lifting my spirit up and stay focused on things that need my attention. Its okay for the dark thoughts to come and go, its even okay if tears flow down, just let it flow or wipe it and continue to do what you do. Don’t sulk and give in to negative emotions!! I am repeating to myself often!

Kids have resumed school today after 10 days and I am able to breathe easy. Naughty LHB took his own time to get ready and made me drop him at school!!

Just for laugh:
Amma: LHB, please come over to take your medicine
LHB: Arghhhhh!!! Its that time again!!
Amma: LHB, please da, Amma paavam da, please come and take your medicines da
LHB: Amma, you don’t understand. My life! My choice! I can choose to not drink the medicine
Amma: **passing out instantly** and Adi rolling on the floor laughing..

If only Amma had even 5% of this wisdom!! My life, My choice it seems…

Adi and I were laughing over it for rest of the day by randomly saying “My life, my choice” and she kept mocking me “You don’t understand Amma”!!

Weekend highlights:

  • Adi attended a sweet 16 surprise party at old neighborhood.
  • LHB and I killed time at Chuck e cheese while the girl was partying
  • LHB won second place in a cub scout boat race. Don’t ask me how many participated 🙂 its 3!
  • Adi attended “Make a blanket” event at the temple. They made blankets to be distributed to terminally ill children at the hospital.
  • Quick stop at friend’s home to wish their daughter for her birthday.
  • I have started watching “Super singer junior” and had a very good laugh. Though I don’t like the way the kids are engaged, some lighter moments and laughter is guaranteed and I need them very much right now!!

We spent a solid 3 hours in making this boat last weekend. LHB chose to paint them red and blue.

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Hugs and love to you all.

Fear of judgement

It is the fear of judgement by someone I want to keep first in my trust list that keeps me up all night and makes my cheek wet at random times more than the pressure of physical labor and mental stress itself.

From what little I know about myself, I can handle any level of physical labor but I cannot overcome the fear of being judged.

More power to girl friends, my maternal family, blog friends, neighbors and supportive work environment. I could not survive this phase without you all.

The kids have ear infection and on antibiotics. They were home all this week. I have bad cough and taking OTC medicines, resumed work after two sick days and workplace has been very supportive. I cook between meetings, feed kids and make sure they take their medicines on time and rest well. Everything else has taken a back seat.

How would you react to someone who judges you as

It is very much possible that they got sick because you didn’t handle them properly?
Washed clothes as piles on the floor? Aren’t they supposed to be on the closet?
When did you last sweep the home?

Read the first line, this someone is not just someone to hit ignore, it’s the same one I want to keep first in my trust list. Life is hard!!

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Sickness Overloaded

So, as usual we had a busy long weekend running between classes, Adi attending a sweet 16 party celebrated at grand scale and LHB having his own low scale birthday party at home. He invited few boys from his class.

And we got sick right after LHB’s party was over. All 3 of us are running temperature, having dry cough and feeling low. Kids and I took sick leave today and planning to just extend it tomorrow too. I made veggie soup, kanji and surviving with comfort food and rest. Hope to get back to normal in few days!

Today is probably the first time Adi is taking a sick day and she is freaking out texting her classmates to find out what happened in each class.

Its tough to see kids sick and care for them when you are sick too!! Can’t this sickness wait for few days to catch me? If this is not enough, I feel terrible about missing out things at work front!!

Survival continues!!!!!