Archive | January 2020

And its done

Will I give up on my sleep for one month straight to catch up on office work? – No
Will I stay up in the night to clean dishes or do other chores – No
Will I extend my bedtime to catch up on a book or social media or movie – No
Am I a night person – Hell No (I am not a morning person either. Basically you can call me sleep any time of the day person) ๐Ÿ˜€

But, the past 30 days taught me that I had no complaints with giving up on my sleep to write in this space even after a super hectic long day. That explains it all. The connection I hold with this space and with you all.

It all started in 2013. Can’t believe this is the 8th year of blogathon. There are years in the past, I used to schedule post one day ahead, freak out if I can’t think of a topic, stay prepared for next few days and all that. But, this year I just went with the flow and picked up the topic on the fly. May be because most days I got away with writing about my day and there is so much happening in life. I feel relieved to have captured a part of it in this space.

I thank each one of you who took the time to read and comment on my posts. I value them the most and you all have made me smile and feel connected. Counting my blessings. Not to mention, thank you all for your writings as well. I enjoyed reading and commenting on them though right now I am behind by few days.

Keep writing and have a great year everyone! Let us all make an attempt to write at least one post every month for rest of this year and I will see you all hyper and active in next Jan ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay happy and healthy!

Collections that make it a home

Sharing some of the collections at home that I love to see at random times of the day as each of them have a story to tell. I love replaying those stories as they always bring back fond memories and guaranteed smile on my face.

Most of the collections I have displayed in family room are precious gifts I received from near and dears.

I always wanted to own a few Thanjavur paintings but didn’t in spite of hailing from its originating town. In 2018/2019 I received not one but two of these paintings from two close like minded people and they always hold a very special place in my heart.

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 6.44.52 PM

This perumal was painted by my friend. She came into my life as my friend’s wife but we have become good friends now. She made this painting while she was expecting and decided to gift it to me. I felt overwhelmed when I received this gift and no words can do justice in explaining the emotional attachment I hold with this painting. She honored our friendship with this painting and not only this she hosted us for one week when Adi got sick in Chennai last year. I would not have felt so comfortable even at my own sister’s place. She made us feel at home and I am forever grateful to her.

One of the best gift I ever received and he is adorning my family room wall now.

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 6.45.02 PM

This Ganesha was custom made just for me just because I once told this aunty that Pillayar is my favorite god. We got introduced as distant relatives and I hosted her at my home for a month in 2015. Ever since we hold a good relationship checking on each other whenever possible and she gifted me this Pillayar when we met during my 2018 India trip.

He is adorning the other side of my family room wall.

20200130_162843

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 9.06.13 PM

Elephant was a gift from a dear friend when I met him at Chennai last year. He gifted it for this home though we haven’t closed the deal yet. It has a small candle holder in its back.

White Giraffe was a gift to me from a friend family. This friend gives me gift for women’s day, mother’s day, birthday and it feels good to have someone around who treats you a little special.

Orange painted bottle with flowers – Got them as part of bloggers craft exchange and I adore them as they bring a smile in my face.

Thanjavur dancing doll – I gifted myself when I visited the famous Brihadeeswarar temple at my hometown. I have to see her face from my sitting spot on the couch. If the face is turned then I tell Adi that she is mad at me for something. Later I make terms with her and turn her face back to look at me.

Pink centerpiece – That’s a handcrafted candle we bought from a candle house at Pennsylvania in 2018. They made this candle while we were watching. Adi and LHB also got their hand dipped candles and we saved them in boxes to display in yet to buy new home.

Boat – Can you see it? Bought it from Bahamas trip in 2014.

3 black vases – The furniture shop guy gave as a gift when I spent almost ten grand at his shop closing one deal to furnish entire home.

Family portrait – Do you see it above the vases? It’s on the right side of the TV. Took this in early 2019 and I still remember the effort I had to take to get the clan to the studio. The effort was totally worth it and I could not have found a better spot for this portrait. I love looking at this picture while working from home. I usually settle down at my usual corner of the couch in family room on days I work from home and can see these collections when I remember to lift my head.

There are days I get lost in watching them, mulling over the story behind them and forget to dial in to my meeting on time :wink

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 9.01.25 PM

Family room clock – This clock is one of my best purchase. I don’t know why but one quick look at this clock makes me smile and puts my mind at peace. This is on the left side of the TV. This can be technically called a gift from the friend who gifted me Perumal painting as I purchased this with the gift card given by her.

20200130_163249

You will not believe if I tell you I got this frame from a dollar store. This is placed near the entrance to kitchen and I could not have found a better place for this frame. I am sure every home will have a frame that says something along the same line.

Fruit basket – A recent addition to my kitchen counter top. I bought this also with the gift card given by my Perumal friend. I used the gift card after four years of receiving it ๐Ÿ™‚

20191014_141542

Last but not least. My living room art – Tree of life. I bought her from an art gallery in Dubai. It took me more than one year to get her married to the right frame. First, I got her framed at India and brought her as a separate check in baggage packed carefully with layers of styrofoam padding, marked as fragile and all that. But the frame broke in transit so was my heart!!

20200130_163207

Then, I started to get quote from local frame stores and all of them quoted beyond my budget. I gave up at some point and returned her to storage. After moving to this home, I found a wholesale art showroom nearby and their quote suited my budget.

I gave order for a different frame but the art found this frame more suitable and picked it. That is how I narrate the story behind this frame. It was actually a mistake from the artisan and they didn’t charge me for this new frame though it was expensive than the one I originally picked.

Welcome to my home. I will make you chai and retell all these stories as we settle down. That is what I do to all first time visitors ๐Ÿ™‚ Brag about all my dear and near collections and the story behind each one of them. Will you please stay put with my bragging for this one time?

Today-01-29-2020

5:45am – Wake up, pack dabba for kids and myself (I also packed a dabba for my work friend)
6:50am – Send off Adi and continue with kitchen work
7:15am – Wake up LHB, help him get ready and I get ready too
7:45am – Both of us leave home. Drop LHB at neighbor’s home (they were kind enough to drop him at bus stop along with their daughter at 8:35am)
8:00am – Board the bus
9:30am – Arrive at work, get settled
10:00am – First meeting of the day starts
10:30am – Go to tech concierge as laptop crashes
10:50am – Drop the food at work friend’s desk. Didn’t see her as she was in a meeting.
11:00am – Next meeting
12:00pm – Head back to tech concierge to hear that they need some more time to fix the laptop. I was praying to get it fixed with not losing the data
12:30pm – Lunch time
1:30pm – Next meeting
2:40pm – Get the laptop back with all data intact (smile wide for the first time in the day)
2:45pm – Head back to desk and then realize that I misplaced my lunch bag, make two rounds around all the places I visited after 12:30pm
3:15pm – Eureka moment to check with Lost&Found concierge, I walk into their room and this person hands me over the lunch bag. I was puzzled at how he knew (Adi asked me the same question too when I shared the incident with her at dinner table). Apparently, I had a paper with my picture in the lunch bag (smile wide for the second time in the day)
3:20pm – Surprise bump into the work friend in hallway and get a big hug (Smile wide for the third time in the day)
3:25pm – Walk back to desk, get some work done
4:00pm – Leave work, take train to arrive at the bus stop, stand in line for 10 mins
4:25pm – Board the bus
5:45pm – Pickup LHB from aftercare
5:55pm – Arrive home
6:00pm – Dinner time (all 3 of us had dinner at the table talking about our day)
6:30pm – Take LHB to bi weekly cub scout den meeting, stay there and help him with the activities
7:45pm – Arrive home, I did a pep talk to LHB while returning, he listened and settled with his homework right after we reached home. I started with prep work for tomorrow’s lunch and cleaning dishes/kitchen while helping LHB with his homework.
8:30pm – Adi takes a 5 minute break and both kids have hot chocolate while having a quick chat.
9:00pm – LHB was not done with part of the work but I asked him to call it a day and watch TV for 30 mins as he behaved very well today. Poor champ was on the run from 7:45am to 9:00pm and I felt he deserved a break before going to bed. He gave me a hug and settled with one TV show.
9:30pm – Bedtime routine. Adi was in her room all day today as she has mid term test tomorrow and had a lot of materials to catch up. She has asked me to wake her up at 5:45am tomorrow for final revision.
10:00pm – LHB goes to sleep, Adi and I catch up on few emails that needed both our attention
10:30pm – Adi goes to sleep and I start drafting this post. Its 10:43pm as I type this.

Hope I will hit the snooze land by 11pm. Tomorrow is another long day!!

I can’t even say there is only two more days for weekend as weekend looks busier than weekdays!!!

All I need is just one relaxing evening with kids and go to bed early.. Will it happen soon?

P.S: The biggest smile happened when the work friend sent a message in the evening saying my food was the best part of her day today, that it helped so much to go through a tough day. I made rotini pasta with vodka sauce, Italian spices and veggies (capsicum, onions).

Food connection

Today’s lunch box for kids:

Ladies finger fry rolled in roti and clementines. I am happy to have started packing lunch for LHB too from this school year. This journey started in 2010 when Adi started her kindergarten and continuing for a decade now, it will continue for another decade till LHB graduates school. Nothing can make me more happier than seeing an empty lunch box. It is an everyday discussion during bedtime about the lunch option for next day and I make up my mind about what to cook the next day morning. Somedays, I also do some prep work in the night like cutting veggies or soaking pulses.

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 6.42.05 PM

And I suddenly got this urge today to make my all time favorite puli kuzhambu with drumstick, potatoes and mochai (lilva beans). This is one of Adi’s favorite too and somehow it has been ages I made it. So, made it today and Adi was super excited to see the kuzhambu and fryums on the table when she got back from school. She kept repeating “Today is her best day”.

She kept visiting the table all evening to scoop the kuzhambu with fryums and pop it in. We went down my memory lane about how I did the same at my grandma’s home where I spent all my summer. I would make frequent visits to my grandma’s kitchen to steal the potatoes from kuzhambu and come lunch time my cousins would hardly get any potatoes ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ I can see myself in Adi today with this action.

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 10.08.01 PM

Food can make everyone happy and I am so glad to have established this connection with kids.

Just for laugh:
LHB’s tidbit: Akka, stop complaining! You will be done with school in 2 years!!! Do you know how many more years school do I have? We calculated and its 11 more years *Adi and I bursted out laughing* and both of us said in unison that we would give anything to go back to elementary school. Actually, Adi said elementary school and I said any school or even college is fine with me.

This and that

LHB got this garland from last week temple visit. We went just before the closing time, LHB wanted to pray lord Hanuman so as we were approaching Hanuman the priest gave him the garland from Hanuman. Goosebump moment!! I couldn’t hang it in front door for the lack of nails so hanged them here that you can see as soon as you enter the home.

20200117_212734

Sunday, I went to a Pooja at neighbor’s home, had nice lunch, came home and crashed in bed. Had a satisfying siesta after a very long time. I don’t know anything that happened at home that afternoon, not even the door bell ringing or LHB screaming. All I remember is waking up to hot hot “Vattayappam” shared by my other neighbor. Counting my blessings.

M is out on a business trip this week and I am single parenting the kids for the first time in this home. He will be back in few days and again disappear for one month long. I will see you all by March in one piece if I survive this phase!!

Work is building up like crazy and my eyes are constantly in burning/irritating mode these days that I am not able to focus on anything. Guess an eye checkup is in the cards.

Today’s lunch was liked by both kids which was a big win. They polished off all the Pav Bhaji and asked for more!! I am yet to figure out the list of LHB’s favorites food so I get nervous when he rejects the food that Akka likes.

LHB irritates me by saying “You are suuuuch a baby” whenever I try to go into whining phase. Sighh!!! A person can’t even whine in peace!!!

Our bedtime routine is getting worse these days. We are getting to bed only past 10pm ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I am behind on reader by few days. Hope to get to them soon…

 

 

Kosambari salad

Sunday is reserved for food post

A easy fix salad filled with protein and nutrients that has become a recent favorite at our household.

I ate it at a friend’s home and instantly liked it.

Ingredients
Moong dal – 1 cup (Soak it for 2 to 3 hours)
Onion – 1
Tomato – 1 (optional)
Cucumbers – 1 big or 4 cute cucumbers
Carrot – 1 (grated)
Lime juice – to taste
Salt – to taste
Pomegranate – 1/2 cup (optional – to garnish)
Coriander leaves – to garnish

Tadka
Mustard
Urad dal
Asafoetida
Curry leaves (Optional)
Jira (Optional)

Mix all of them, do the tadka with items given under Tadka section, add it to the salad and healthy wholesome meal is ready!

I avoid tomatoes and you can go creative with the vegetables to add based on the taste of your family.

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 10.55.10 PM

Hackathon day

Today was hackathon day. I heard about a hackathon event exclusively for high school girls and registered Adi right away as this will be a good opportunity to introduce Adi to computer science field that earns bread and butter for our family.ย 

I have to first thank Adi for not giving up or protesting and keeping her options open to explore different fields. Trust me, it is not an easy task to wake up a high schooler at 5:45am on a weekend and I know kids who have let go of opportunities because they absolutely cannot give up on their morning sleep. So, thank you Adi for waking up at 5:45am, getting ready and catching the 7am bus to New York on a Saturday morning. We were 15 minutes early to the bus stop.ย 

The venue was right across NY bus terminal and we checked in at the event at 8:30am. There was a long line of high school girls with parents at the check in. As the event was all day long and I didn’t have anything else better to do alone in NY, I signed up myself as a mentor.ย 

We spent all day in one big room, Adi hacking along with her team on a cool idea and myself helping few teams with technology/programming challenges. I was able to help a specific team get through their idea and they secured 3rd place. The girls found me later and said “Thank you Aunty for all your help, Thank you for sparing your Saturday to help us!”. That was more than enough to make me happy and smile wide ๐Ÿ™‚ Another mentor took my phone number because she thought I did awesome in helping the girls and wanted to stay connected with me. I had a good chat with few other volunteers and mentors throughout the day. The organizers (high school kids) and their parents have done an incredible job with the arrangements.ย ย 

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 9.17.57 PM

We were served bagels, pizza, cookies, brownies, juices, soda, coffee, tea unlimited all day and it was a total cheating day for me. I chose to eat mindlessly as it was the first day of monthly special. I just needed something to suppress the pain. Adi had her fair share of junk as well.ย 

The event got over by 6:30pm, we checked out, walked around Times square for a bit and then boarded the 7pm bus. Reached home around 8:30pm and here I am typing this post as fast as I can so I can just retire for the day.ย 

I was very much impressed by all the ideas and solutions presented by young girls.ย  Some of them were totally into it. Adi said her experience was “meh”. She felt bored and would not go to a hackathon again if she had a choice to skip. However, she won a “gaming headset” in raffle.ย 

I didn’t attempt to convince her as I felt it would be biased. My job is only to give her theย  exposure and experience. She will figure it out someday on her own as what will best suit her.ย ย 

While we were gone, LHB went to star wars party at the local library and performed in a group dance for a pongal theme tamil song at the temple. As I am typing this, he is sitting next to me and showing all the goodies (star wars character cards) he got from the party and educating me with their names.ย 

It was a day well spent for me. Off to start bedtime routine. Night night peeps!!

Santa arrival and Detox day

I am picking up one of the post from draft for today.

22nd Dec 2019 will be remembered as a technology detox day. I mentioned before that this winter break we chose to just stay home. So on the first day of the break we decided to keep it a technology detox day. All day spent by playing board games, lazing around, baking and having family meals. I bought few board games and they were put to good use during the holidays.

That’s LHB writing letter to Santa while we were playing Sequence.

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.38.59 PM

Christmas – This year, Santa left his boot prints when he came through chimney to deliver the presents. He ate the cookies, drank the milk and we also left some food for reindeer on the backyard deck. They were polished off by the reindeer. Guess they were very hungry.

LHB was very excited to see all this in the morning and he got the presents he asked for (bey blades and pokemon cards). I want to play along as long as the belief lasts..

Some pictures:

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.33.55 PM

letter to santa

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.38.04 PM

Santa’s foot prints

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.37.09 PM

Santa’s foot prints

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 6.45.23 PM

Food for reindeer

 

LHB talkies

#1 – Amma in Kitchen:
Amma: Kutty, can you please get my phone da?
LHB: If I were youuuu (he stretches that u with a ragam) Amma, I would get my phone myself!!! (in a zen tone)
Amma: Searching for the wall nearby to bang her head. Amma thinks all the walls in the house would be blessed with her head bangs soon.

#2 – At home
Akka screaming as LHB took some of her stuff
Adi: LHB, I need you here right now!!!!
LHB: (Walking at snail’s pace towards her with bum bum shaking left to right and says) Calm down baby!!! I am coming!!
Amma was literally ROTFL seeing this scene

#3 – Bedtime
LHB: Akka, you need to give us some space in the bed.
Adi: No, I will not
LHB: Akka, are you going to listen or not?
Adi: You hurt me so I am not moving!!!
LHB: Amma, she is suuuch (again stretches u with a ragam) a drama queen ma, such a cry baby. Let’s just go and sleep somewhere else.

#4 – Shop hopping:
LHB: That’s it. I am not coming to the next shop with you. Can you drop me home and then go to all shops?
Amma: Okay then, I am not going to come to the star wars party at Library. You can go by yourself.
LHB: NOOOO. Let’s go to the shop Amma. I will come with you wherever you want me to come!!!!
Amma: **evil laughter**

#5 – LHB on the way from his class with Appa and calls Amma
LHB: Amma, what do you have for me if I come home now?
Amma: Huh? what do you mean?
LHB: I mean, what is your plan for me if I come home now? will you make me study or watch TV?
Amma: (who always wanted to play with her kids): Of course study da!!
LHB: Ok then, Appa I will come with you to pick up Akka. I don’t want to go home now. What is the point? She is not going to let me watch TV anyways and promptly cuts the call $#@!%^&

#6 – LHB doing his Math
Amma: Dei nallavanae, (means good boy) why are you taking 1 hour for just these 2 additions da? Can you please just get done with it?
LHB: You don’t understand Amma. Math is not my thing. TV is my thing. I am a TV guy ma!!
Amma: Okay%^&$#@!

Exhausted but happy

Apologies for the long post.

Today evening was very exhausting and chores drained almost all my energy but I was happy and content with the way the events unfolded.

I can’t go to sleep without reliving the moments from today’s evening that will make me smile wide. Writing it down here is equivalent to recollecting those moments at least 10 times and these precious moments will help me to stay up at least for next few months. Reminder to self is to come back and read this post when I have a bad day.

I went to office today and came back home at 6:45pm. The situation at home was normal. LHB was watching TV and Adi was in happy mood as she finished all her work for the day. She was waiting to watch Master chef with me. That’s the latest show we watch together.

I got refreshed, finished my dinner and had a cup of coffee. Then, started with kitchen work right away while the kids were fighting over TV. LHB wanted to watch one more episode but Adi wanted to take it over. I let them fight and continued with my chores. Started preparing tindora usili (one of my recent improvisation. why only beans usili? why not tindora?) and spinach paratha. I already had the dough ready in refrigerator for paratha.

I have been reminding LHB that he has to come to the kitchen table to start with his work. That today he has to do his work by himself as Amma have lot of kitchen work. It was a rough start. He came to the table after some whining and finished his school work reluctantly while Adi played Master chef in the TV. But he finished the work and that is all mattered to me and I didn’t lose my cool.

Then, it was his tuition work. He had to finish two english workbooks. He did few pages of first book and declared that this is too much work and he is done. I continued with my cooking and said if that is the choice he is making then I am okay with it. I told him verbatim “we all have choice to make in every single step and it is the choice we make will define who we are”.

He went upstairs, came down and then started a random chat with me. Usually, I don’t encourage such talks while its study time but today I went with the flow. We spoke about random things. Then, again he went upstairs and got the rest of first book done with Akka’s help. He then declared that he is not going to do the second book. I repeated in a zen tone that I am okay with it if that is his decision. I said “It is your decision so I have nothing to say. Just remember that you are making this decision”. Honestly, I didn’t have the energy to spend with him and was prepared to accept if he doesn’t finish his work. There is no point in raising my voice while he is trying.

He came back to the kitchen table, ate two hot spinach paratha (the special puffed ones) and one banana while chatting with me. I continued to chat and this time we talked about food and his classmates. Then, out of the blue he asked “Do I really have to do the second book Amma?”. I least expected that from him. So I replied “Its your choice da kutty”. To my utter surprise, he started working on the second book. I extended help when asked and he finished half of second book with no whining while I was wrapping up cooking, cleaning and washing dishes. The deal was to do his work till I have work in kitchen so he can give me company as I love having company while doing kitchen work. I actually taught him about singular vs plural vs irregular plural and he listened!! This was a big win for me.

Then, we both went upstairs and he wanted to watch TV. I told him that I have something to say and he can decide on what to do after hearing me. That his decision will be final. I told him how watching TV just before going to sleep is not good for eyes and instead he can play with his new truck. He replied “Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that. Thank you for reminding me. You are the best Amma. I will play with my truck” **I was pinching myself at this point to see if this is all real** as on a normal day he would throw a big tantrum in similar situation. The difference today is I handled it with a calm mind not expecting the outcome to be my way.

He played with his truck for a while, then we read “Chintamani, the magic cow” book. Spoke about cows, had other random conversations and then started with bedtime routine.

I told him that he filled my bucket many times today and I am very thankful to him. He replied “You are the best Amma”. We exchanged hugs/kisses and he drifted to sleep.

I had a quick hot shower after that and felt very peaceful though body was yearning to rest. He didn’t finish half of second book but somehow today I had this gyan moment that its okay to not finish the workbook rather than finishing it with not focusing and whining just because I force him to do it.

Some small change in my reaction and attitude in spite of having chores busy evening made a big difference in the way LHB and I interacted today and this evening will stay in my memory for long time to come. On other days, I freak out and that energy is radiated to him as well that makes both of us cranky. It is really okay to let go sometimes and this letting go does wonders!

Now tell me, how can I go to sleep without writing about this exhausted but happy evening? Tomorrow will be another long day. I have to leave early to work and have few important meetings to tackle. But, I am ready to handle it.

When there is peace in mind, there is harmony in life. Nighty night peeps!