MIL – 09.30.2021

One of the person I hardly spoke about in this blog space. She has decided to leave this world and us today. We never expected the day to unfold in this way when we woke up but here I am writing about her after sending off the husband to India.

She is a very quiet lady with no big wishes. She lived a minimalist life using the same pot for making tea ever since I knew her. Its been 17 years and she still uses that same aluminium small pot for making evening tea, same milk cooker that blows whistle sound for boiling milk in the morning. Her routine is very simple and it has not changed a bit until today. Wake up, have coffee, breakfast at 8, read newspaper, take shower, lunch at 1, nap in the afternoon, watch TV in the evening, dinner at 8pm, go to bed at 10pm. I have hardly seen this routine change. Come to our home at 8 in the morning, you can see a guaranteed hotpack of hot idlis and accompanying chutney in the dining table, every single day!

She was diabetic, underwent bypass surgery 16 years back, had knee surgery 15 years back, had one of the knee fused 14 years back yet I have never seen her complain of any pain. She will just go about her routine. I have not seen her show interest in buying new things be it kitchen vessels or clothes or any accessories.

A lady with no likes/dislikes, no preferences, minimum contact with people, just follow a simple daily routine over and over again for many years. She never talks about past or about her childhood. I hardly know anything about her! Yes, she was for real!

I am just typing all the incoherent thoughts that comes to my mind when I think of her. Amma says she lost her charm the day FIL decided to leave her forever! He wouldn’t leave her alone even for one night and she survived in this world without him for 2.5 years. That’s her willpower!

She has suffered during past two months. One part of me feels peaceful for her while the other part is finding it hard to reconcile with the way her life ended. Her sufferings have ended but it should have ended on a better note. Who are we to decide the plan for end? I really hope, some day we are able to reconcile with it.

May her soul rest in peace and I wish the couple to get back together in a place that’s better than this world!

Milestone day

Today seems to be the girl’s milestone day. She

  • Completed Junior year high school grade with satisfaction. Final grades in all subjects and GPA rounded up to be perfect, just what she wanted and I am living proof who have witnessed all her hard work this year.
  • Accepted a Summer job offer at a local store. First job offer. I am busy calculating what she can buy with first salary after tax for Mumma
  • Started her driving lessons
  • Opened a bank account

It seems she feels like an adult suddenly and doesn’t like it a bit πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Adulthood is no fun!!

All of these were not planned. Today just happened to be her milestone day when things fell into place!

Here is to a new beginning!!!

Happy 16th

Dear Daaru,

It’s sweet sixteen dear. You are SIXTEEN! I am pinching myself hard to accept this fact. This is the year you took control of your actions and future for real! You take all decisions and run it by us for validation. Most of the times we just nod and agree with you. I am amazed at the way you analyze and rationalize your decisions.

If there is a year you worked super hard, that would be this year too. I am sure you have to continue to work hard for more years but this is the first year I saw that seriousness take over you. I am ashamed to say that every weekday you wake up before me and go to bed after me. Yet, I complain to you about lack of sleep!!

I am going through a very rough phase both physically and emotionally and you help me to keep up my sanity. You are just a shout away for me. I shout out your name when things go out of control and you are there in next few minutes to take charge. I am super scared of the adjustment I have to go through after you move out for college in next 1.5 years. This year, you gave me the confidence that you are all ready to explore life on your own.

Most of the other things remain the same as I wrote down in your 15th birthday letter. We are still living in pandemic times and I feel kids have got better handle of pandemic time than adults! There is never a day you took off from school or defaulted from an assignment or sulked about mountains of school work! You just do them and move on!

You shop for clothes online, narrow down what you exactly need and come to me for checkout. When I take a look at them to read through reviews, you answer all my questions without a beat demonstrating the kind of analysis you have already done before adding it to the cart! Same stays true for any other shopping as well! I follow your lead when we make local store trips!

Mug cake, garlic bread, pasta, egg/veg puffs, banana bread, chicken parm, restaurant style chicken nuggets, fish air fry are your kitchen specialties. You make mid day coffee for us and bring me a plate of something if I tell you I am hungry in middle of my work calls! You love take outs from Chipotle, Chick-fill-a and Taco bell!

LHB and I made a store run yesterday and he picked up gifts for you. When I tried to suggest a gift, he gave me this look and asked in a firm tone “Amma, who do you think know her better you or me?” I replied “Of course you” and we moved on to next aisle! Your sibling bonding is vera level..

If there is one word that I want to share with you when you turn 16, it will be β€œempathyβ€œ. Hold on to this word tight as it will help you to grow as a good human and help people around you as well. This may stay as my recommended word to you for rest of our life!

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

All the stars in the sky would not be enough to count my blessings to have you as my daughter ma and its very hard for me to accept that you have taken over the control of your life yet I stand from a distance and admire all your actions kannamma. I hope you get deserving results for all your hard work.

Amma will set up our traditional treasure hunt and I managed to sneak in a surprise in spite of you doing a constant surveillance of my phone. I hope it will all turn out well!

Love you to the moon and back and God bless you ma!

Love,
Amma

Books – Need help

I want to create a book list to read for this year. I am not an avid reader at present but want to hold on to one book at a time and read at bedtime. Make this a habit to read at least 10 minutes every night, ok every weekday night!

Would you nice people please leave comments with “must to read” books from your list?

And I am determined to finish Ponniyin selvan this year so switched to audio podcast version of this novel. I have made tremendous progress with this setup and love it πŸ™‚ This is one of the reason why I love my evening walk πŸ™‚

Have you been there?

I was late, made my entry into Kitchen to cook for Ammavasya. Took out the veggies from refrigerator, lined them up in counter and in next few minutes I find myself cleaning the refrigerator. Spent a good 20 minutes in cleaning the inside of refrigerator while veggies are waiting in the counter, time is ticking and I am running late!!!

I was just done with an afternoon meeting, there was a 30 minute break before next meeting. I come to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and in next few minutes I find myself cleaning the stove top as I noticed some spill over while waiting for the coffee to heat up in microwave!!!

In both these incidents, the mind observed the action only minutes after the action has started!!!

Happy 8th

Dear LHB,

My sweetheart, my lifeline, my chella kutty, I love the way you are growing up da! The way you care for others and being empathetic melts my heart kutty! I sincerely hope you stay the same even after having your own first hand experience of various types of crazy people!

Other day, you were in school session, I was on a work call in next room and my laptop charger fell down with banging sound. You instantly muted your laptop and asked “Amma, are you okay?”. You check on me at random times. It so happens, you ask “How is your day ma?, How are you doing today?” just on the day I yearn for someone to check on me! You are the same to everyone! When friends visit us, you make sure they are rightly engaged. J aunty was saying how you engaged her in Kitchen when we all went out to run an errand leaving her alone at our home with 4 kids! You showed her where the onion and garlic are and gave her company while she was doing prep work for dinner!

You are a bundle of positive energy da. If you cry then we all know something is terribly wrong. None of us can bear to see even a tiny drop in your eyes. But hey, very recently you learned to fake cry! You cry for a minute and when we take a closer look at you, you start laugh cry πŸ™‚

Your logical sense has improved a lot in past year and now you make an attempt to do less guess work with Math. You have taken a step forward with academics very recently and let’s work together to see where that takes us! Effort is all that matters kanna! One step at a time!

You are a true believer of Santa and tooth fairy. Your proud Amma very recently added birthday God to this list! We do cheeky cheek, kiss and hug generously. The rule for hug is to hug tight and count to 50. Every time we hug, I tell you that I am not getting enough of you even after counting to 50 but you count as fast as you can and flee away. Let me enjoy these as long as they last. There is no hurry. Take your own time to outgrow kutty!

Each one of us call you with different name and you care less. Appa calls you Aovli, Akka calls you Aaaavi and I call you baby or kutty or silly! We also call each other dude, bro, master depending on our mood and situation!

You say “15 million years” for every other sentence. Like you have been following covid protocols for “15 million years”, you have been doing Math for “15 million years”. This is your tag line now!

Rules are rules and they are meant to be broken. You are a strict officer when it comes to rules. You will not let others break it but that sheepish smile when you break it is priceless!

You have learned and unlearned three tamil songs this year – “paalum theli thenum”, “tamil thai vazhthu” and “a aa padikkan vanthen”

You are smarter at tackling situations than Akka. There is a story about 7 eleven shop and pizza. Will make a separate post about it.

You are my company for temple visits. You are worried we can’t go to temple this year on your birthday. Amma promised to take you on a drive around the temple, only if the snow is cleared by then!!

You play Roblox and Minecraft in laptop. You watched a youtube video to self learn how to change avatar in Roblox and changed it yourself. You are a big youtube channel watcher and want to be a youtuber when you grow up!

We don’t have any gaming console at home yet. While you and Akka were talking about some game, you mentioned to her “We need playstation or Xbox for that Akka and we don’t have it. I know Amma will not let us buy it in a very very sad tone”! It sounded as if I denied your fundamental right!

You and me often say “We are nice people” and we do chores for Akka and Appa even when they are mean to us! When I raise my voice to Akka, you remind me promptly, Amma remember “We are nice people, just let her go Amma”!! or you say “She is paavaa ma, just let her do it!” (paavaa -> paavam -> poor girl)

Akka still is your ring master and she is too good at making you dance to all her tunes! She uses you as guinea pig to test all her AP psychology course learnings and its a pleasure to see you two bond over it.

Our recent favorite family online game is Skribbl. It took you two days to get us into the game and we are hooked on to it now that even a ten minute common break time is spent by playing Skribblo.

You have adapted very very well to online school system. You are a pro in handling laptop, switch between browser tabs, go on mute when needed, go on airplane mode when class is boring (rolls eyes) et all. Our homework sessions have got better. I measure your progress only with your own past.

You are a God sent gift to me. My life would have gone topsy curvy during this pandemic if you were not around. You make me look at life through different lens. If I make a list of “with whom did I talk the most during pandemic time?”, you will top my list hands down.

We went for birthday shopping last weekend and you behaved so mature in choosing clothes. You said “Amma, how does this shirt look? buy it only if you want to okay?” and I had to buy it! You and me teamed up to pack almost half of the store and Appa had to remind us that this is not the last time we are shopping for you 😁

You want a dog so badly and have already named it as “Treasure”. What a beautiful name!

I have to remember to kiss you 8 times while tucking you in from tonight!

Stay happy! Stay healthy and remember that we love you to bits kanna πŸ’• πŸ’•

This picture sums you up. One day when I was all worked up and walking around kitchen furiously you asked me do this to keep calm 😎

Love,
Amma

Let’s do this

I would have refreshed reader like 15 million times (LHB’s slang these days) today in the hope to see some new posts.

Then thought, what if others are also doing the same? So, decided to write a post πŸ™‚ Its my lame reason to connect with you all and justify this post πŸ™‚

Let’s just continue to write as long as the heart wants. who is game? You don’t have to write every day. Just write when you feel like it! ok?

I forgot to mention few more things in my previous post

I want to thank Tharani for introducing me to many things on the internet that stayed with me.

  • Intermittent fasting – I have been doing this for more than a year now. I do 14 hours on most days and go beyond on some days! This has helped me to maintain my weight! Added bonus is wrapping up Kitchen early!
  • OPOS cooking – Attalysis is the best technique. Now, I make roti’s at home and very happy with the results.
  • Luke Coutinho’s youtube channel – I love his videos and how he ends every video with a perfect message “Eat smart, move more, sleep right and breathe deep”. If only we follow this consistently!
  • Headspace Guide to Meditation Netflix show – In my watch list but I am pretty sure it will be good as its recommended by T.

On the last day of blogathon, I learned how to add emojis when you comment/write a blog post from laptop.

There are two ways:

  • Keyboard shortcut – For Mac it’s control + command + space, for Windows it’s window logo key + . (Thanks to Visha for sharing this shortcut πŸ’•)
  • Right click inside the comment box and you will see an option as “Emoji & Symbols” 😎 😎

Looking forward to the comments now 😁

Speechless and Thank you

I second what Tharani has written today. I have mixed emotions when I realize that today is the last day of this blogathon journey. This year the interaction in comments were at vera level. I wholeheartedly enjoyed all the interactions and it was a blessing amidst all the social challenge we face now.

I didn’t have writer’s block this year though I only wrote in the night every day and there was not much to share from 2020 unlike previous years when I used to freak out and schedule posts few days ahead, squeeze my brain about what to write et all. I went with the flow this year and it feels good.

I am sad this is coming to an end but sure to smile at random times in coming days until my memory fades about Summerscript’s comic tales, Tharani’s meaningful posts, Paatiamma’s guess the blogger series, Seema’s Mantam tales, Other bloggers facepalm moments and many more. Loved reading MTW, Seema, RS, Visha, Indu, Prachee, FV, RM, Pepper posts every day. Got to know some new bloggers like Chaithra and some delurked.

I learned about menstrual cup, cooku with comali (watching it and laughing hard as I am typing this post) and had some nonsensical conversation that made me laugh hard. I was smiling to myself while commenting to some posts and family caught me at that moment and thought I have become a nut case πŸ™‚

I am telling again, smiling at random times is such a blessing in the times we live in now.

This was a great reunion and thank you all for joining the blogathon. This one month has helped me realize that I am not alone and we all have our own challenges and fight in our own ways.

I am thankful for the girls friends I have earned for lifetime through this blog as my real life friends. Very recently I have learned the power of girl friends at this middle age. Someone to whom we can speak our mind unfiltered, someone who listens to us without judgement.

At this time, I also want to thank my school friend from other side of the world who stays up very late in the night and chat with me every weekend. I am not joking, usually I call her when its 12am for her and she would pick up the phone to talk to me for hours while I cook lunch. I vent to her wholeheartedly. More power to all girl friends!

Today, I feel the same way I felt on college farewell day. Heart feels heavy and its so hard to say good bye to blogathon!

I am sure the bug will bite one of us to kick start the conversation end of this year and all of us will jump into blogathon 2022 with no second thought as we have tasted the sweetness of this yearly reunion and its hard to let it go!

Next year will be 10th year of blogathon! More reason to join πŸ™‚ I have already started fantasizing about blogathon 2022 πŸ™‚ See you all there!

Until then, stay happy, stay healthy!

P.S: I will come back in few days with birthday letter for LHB πŸ™‚

Never have I ever – Food list

How can blogathon end without talking about the task that took most part of my time ever since Pandemic started. Below is the Never have I ever cooked food list that were debut attempt during pandemic times and now made their way to our regular menu list

Egg omelette curry – Make usual tamarind based curry (kuzhambu) and add tiny omelettes to it. Best served after soaking omelette for few hours

Jeera rice – Very easy and quick flavorful rice that goes with any side

Mixed veg ragi roti / ragi uthappam – Healthiest dish

Cauliflower/peas kurma – Cooker style, another easy and quick dish that everyone in the family eats without making a face!

Instant carrot halwa – I accidentally found this recipe while browsing for a less than 30 minute sweet to surprise neighbor kid on her birthday. This was an instant hit and I made it like 4 times in next two weeks. Took this for a halloween small group gathering πŸ™‚

Instant fresh ground masala base for veggies – I love the aroma of these spices and it goes very well with brinjal, ladies finger, tindora or any other dry vegetable fry.

Ragi pidi kozhukkattai – Sweet version, best eaten for weekend breakfast!

Paneer kati roll – I made this few times and was well received by kids and adults. Took this as mess free food wrapped in parchment paper for beach trip with neighbors, hike trip with friends, diwali potluck at another friend’s home!

Oats puttu – My improvisation on this dish is to layer puttu alternatively with grated carrot and coconut. Another dish best suited for a lazy weekend breakfast!

And of course Ulundu (Medu) vadai and Phulka

More food pictures are in my Insta feed!

Friday chronicles

Today has been a good day!

Started the day with a feel good meeting at work, followed by a series of meeting until 1:30pm.

Spoke with parents in between work calls, it was a light hearted call as I was sharing with them about my new trick with LHB.

LHB’s birthday is less than a week away. Yesterday night when he was whining to study for his Math test and I instantly came up with a birthday God idea. It was like that proudest mommy moment! I told him that like Santa, birthday God is watching him to decide if he should promote him to be 8 year old, that birthday’s have to be earned every year! He fell for it and the rest was easy peasy. He finished all Math assignments in no time. Amma called me evil when I shared this incident with her!

Today he asked if birthday God also gives gifts! One day I made cup cakes appear at a snap and he asked if birthday God will make me do it on his birthday πŸ™‚

Made Kadai panner and paneer paratha for lunch (MTW – I blame you for the paratha pic and I love you too as Adi and I spent good time together in kitchen :)) . Adi was asked to cook a cultural meal by her health teacher and she helped with paratha making.

Took 2 hours break from work in the afternoon. Dropped off birthday cards made by my volunteer kids at Senior centre, covered few more errands and came back home in the evening. My last stop was at a volunteer friend’s home and she made hot hot murukku for me and packed for family too πŸ™‚

It has been a while I drove alone and felt good to go on a drive with unplugged songs playing non stop.

Helped LHB to do his tamil homework, settled him at his online class, washed truck load of dishes, cleaned kitchen and settled down to watch Master with the family!

Wrapped up all pending online work while watching the movie and here I am on my last task for the day πŸ™‚

I was listening to this video while washing dishes. It’s a long video but trust me, every story was worth listening. Especially the story of 3rd point “Know more before you judge others”. I had a hearty laugh listening to this story. Listen from 8:00-12:00 if you don’t have time to listen to full episode.