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.

Yet another day

I went to bed very early yesterday

Woke up very late today

Did not cook much today

Paying half attention to things that needs my full attention

Trying hard to keep the mind positive and move on though the negativity is ready at its tip to pull me down if I give a chance

Lot of incoherent thoughts have been going on in my mind all day today about unrealistic expectations, patriarchy, different type of challenges that people I know are going through including myself, that feeling of helplessness, suffocation, same roof but different world that we all live in yaada yaada…

Its yet another day to question everything!!!

And then I see Indu and Seema wrote almost similar post today. Tharani and RM wrote about blogging friends. The day I wrote a happy post, I saw many of you wrote happy post. The day I feel not so good and mind is occupied with train of thoughts, I see that reflected in my reader too. Or is this all my imagination?

What do I do on such low days? Play songs in loop. How can I end blogathon without even one music post when that has been my best companion through highs and lows every single day?

My recent loop list are mostly Acapella or Staccato or Mashup kinds. I usually play the Mix (50) from Youtube as it plays related music.

I enjoy the related recommendations as much as I hate all those personalized Ads!! Same as how enjoy waking up late in the morning as much as I hate to go to bed in the night **rolling_eyes_heavily**

This girl Niranjana Ramanan has sung a Staccato version “Raasave unnai nambi” that was in my loop for a very long time but for some reason I am not able to find that video now!

And then there was an Acapella performance of a collection of Chitra ma’s songs by a bunch of girls in Super singer that is also missing! What is going on?

And this girl Priyanka, what a mesmerizing voice she has

90’s mashup

Hope tomorrow will be a better day for the mind!

Thithi – 2nd year

Today, we performed thithi 2nd year ceremony for FIL in the morning and I cooked an elaborate spread to offer to him and ancestors. I took morning half day off to keep my mind and time dedicated to FIL and cook the spread for him. Not to mention, I was forced into multiple power naps second half of the day. Its the zombie me typing this post so excuse any err…

An orange hibiscus blossomed today morning in indoor garden. May be that’s his way of blessing us from the above. I usually let the flowers stay that too now in winter when it’s so rare to have one but today the flower was meant for him.

Carrot/broad beans sambar
Raw banana fry
Arbi fry
Moong dal payasam
Urad dal vada

Bedtime routine

Were you all bombarded with my comments for your posts yesterday? Let me tell you a kutti story (No, I didn’t watch Master movie yet!) I told MTW that the story behind commenting at that unearthly hour is the fodder for my today’s post!

I made a self promise around new year to regulate LHB’s bedtime routine. All our bedtime has gone for a big toss during pandemic time. LHB is the first to sleep at 10:30pm, followed by me around 11pm and Adi’s was the worst. She comes to sleep past midnight. You might be wondering about the 4th person in the house. He hides himself past 8pm. We have no idea when he sleeps but we know that he wakes up to office calls at 5 or 5:30am while we are in deep sleep! In old normal life, LHB’s bedtime was 9pm, followed by Adi and me anytime between 9:30-10pm.

Coming back to the self promise, I wanted to keep it realistic so fixed on 10pm as the cutoff time. We start bedtime routine at 9pm. The boy takes one hour to do all of below

  • eat my brain, make me scream to read for 15 minutes (school allocated time for everyday bedtime reading and enter in reading log). But, we do enjoy the read along in between all screams. I think he has developed selective hearing to ignore my screams and continue to talk to me sweetly. Sigghhh!!!
  • brush his teeth (without my prompt. it comes naturally for him and makes me proud)
  • change to PJs (again eat my brain by bringing down all PJs from the shelf to pick one pair) Shabbhaaa!!!
  • play with his remote car
  • play his lego blocks (what does he do all afternoon and evening after school? can’t he play at those times?)
  • arrange all his plush dolls on either side of the bed as fake Amma and fake Akka to give him company until we actually go to bed!
  • And then happens the grand finale! I tuck him to bed! Tucking in involves giving 7 kisses on his cheek/forehead as he is 7 year old and 1 kiss to each of his plush doll and say good night, sleep tight. He will wrap it up with “don’t let the bed bugs bite” and close his eyes…

I secretly love and look forward to this routine as much as I roll my eyes πŸ˜€ This is how I unwind my busy day and I prefer to keep it this way as long as it lasts!

My bedtime routine starts after this, that includes

  • Go to Kitchen, check if leftovers have made their way to the refrigerator, clean up rest of the kitchen
  • Start dish washer if needed for the day
  • Come back to bedroom
  • Take shower
  • Settle down on my rolling bed on the floor in criss cross apple sauce posture with fluffy pillows around.
  • Check WhatsApp, make sure all messages are read, replied.
  • Plan for next day
    • fix mind on what to cook
    • mental note of important meeting timings
    • do any prep work needed for next day meeting
    • check personal calendar to make note of kid’s classes/specials or any other appointments
  • Wrap up volunteering follow ups, initiatives, updates
  • Write my blog post for the day
  • Catch up on other bloggers post, like, comment
  • Do my 10 minute meditation if the time is not 11:30pm by now.
  • Replace the fake Amma in bed with my body and try to go to sleep.
  • Somedays are lucky as I sleep right away but somedays are not when I toss around for hours!!!

Back to my kutti long story, yesterday night was obviously not the luckiest day. I managed to wrap up all work early and go to bed at 10pm along with LHB. At 11pm, I had a sudden realization in my dream and woke up as I forgot to start the dish washer. I was in double mind for some time and then decided to take care of it. Dragged myself to kitchen, loaded remaining dishes, rearranged the plates, started dish washer and came back to bed at 12am! Lost all my sleep so started catching up on blog reader as I was few days behind! Spent the next one hour in happily commenting on all my favorite bloggers post making sure I caught up on all posts!!! I tried to swipe down reader a few times but no new posts so I had to force shut my eyes and start the routine of twist and turn at 2am!!!

– The End

That’s the little fella with fake Amma and fake Akka on either side!

P.S: Its 11:30pm now and I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow and I didn’t have a proper sleep last night. Life is fun!!!

Loss of hair-part 2

Part 1

My friend responded after few days and shared the suggestion from dermatologist. He said the main cause for this condition is stress and it is reversible. Taking steroid injections may give temporary good response but those hair roots will be very weak, it will fall off soon after and it will also stop natural regrowth of hair. He suggested to play wait game for few months, reduce stress and look for natural regrowth.

I was furious as my local primary care doctor didn’t warn me about any of this. She never had a conversation to explain the choices and pros/cons of each choice. All she said in a very confident tone was just get the injections and I will be fine. What if I didn’t reach out for a second opinion? What if I had not discussed this with my brother and he has not warned me about steroids? What if I blindly trusted her? Which I did and already booked my consultation appointment with local dermatologist. I would have ended up taking those painful scalp injections for rest of my life giving up on the opportunity for a natural longterm remedy.

There were other recommendations by the Indian dermatologist like topical cream to ease any itching. Rogaine was another reco by my old primary care doctor but I have heard this also doesn’t help with permanent regrowth, you have to use it for rest of your life, otherwise those thin hair will fall off soon. She at lease explained it to me. I have switched back my primary care to the doctor in my old neighborhood after this incident.

I went back to my self search in Internet and found about rice water. It is a natural remedy with no side effects so no harm in trying. I followed this remedy religiously for next few months. There are different ways to follow this. I tried rice cooked kanji but ended up with high fever for next few days as my body couldn’t take that coldness. Some also soak rice water with warm wrapped towel for hours and then wash but I didn’t have that much luxury of time. So, all I did was soak washed rice for 48-72 hours, then use it when I wash hair next time. Shampoo my hair, wash it, then wash again with rice water, let it soak for 5-10 mins while staying in shower and then gently rinse it off, don’t use any conditioner. I kept reminder in my phone to soak rice as this was a new routine.

I don’t know if it was a natural reversal or this remedy worked but I saw baby hairs after 2 months. Adi is the one who took pictures time to time. I had few close friends who constantly supported me through this process and I was happy to share progress with them. Meanwhile, few more new small spots showed up but in next six months hair grew back in all spots.

Very recently, I also started using homemade onion infused coconut oil to massage my hair the night before I wash my hair. Hair fall was terrible for past decade and my forehead already has sparse hair but the complete bald spot threw me off. It took a while and lot of patience to accept it. I hope this regrowth is to stay but who knows? I may end up in same condition again.

However, What I know for sure is I am not going for those steroid scalp injections. Let it either reverse naturally or not. I don’t really care anymore. I have come to accept it and move on! There is much more to focus in life. This could possibly be one of the main reason why I was very focused on react vs respond, stay positive, get less irritated, learn to accept, let it go et all.. It’s all in our own mind!

This journey and experience has taught me much more than just hair re-growth. I have never been a person to judge someone by their hair and skin as I have personally been through a fair share of judgement by skin color all through my life. This journey has only deepened my belief, to look at the beauty of a character and not their appearance.

#pandemic-tales