It was little hard this time and I had to pause few tasks to take part in blogathon but I am super happy that I participated this year. Thanks to below bloggers who joined along and special thanks to Seema for initiating it. This is special as its my 10th year of blogathon.
Recording the trips we made last year amidst pandemic. This wraps up all that I wanted to record about 2021 in this little space of mine.
April: Pennsylvania and NY day trip: Visited Neshaminy state park in the morning and went on a drive through trip to NY in the afternoon. Its funny how kids didn’t even let us roll down car windows because at that point they were scared if Corona is air borne! 6 hours of drive from PA to NY streets to back home.
June: Popcorn Zoo: Day trip to Popcorn Zoo with LHB and neighbor kid. The zoo was filled with peacock roaming around freely and to my surprise we spotted White tiger, Lion, Brown tiger and many more zoo animals. Kids were allowed to feed pop corn to some animals which made it an interesting trip for them.
July: Atlantic City: Day trip to Atlantic City with friend’s family during 4th of July long weekend. Spent most of the time in beach and amusement park. Loved the beach view from top of Ferris wheel and rainbow was an added bonus!
Boston: This is the only college visit we did last year for Adi. We had plans to do more trips but couldn’t as M had to travel to India in summer. This was a 2 day trip. We visited few colleges in and around Boston, stayed at an extended family’s home and ate at famous food joints near college campuses. Canes chicken near Boston University, Peri peri chicken near Brown University, Qdoba near North Eastern, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream near Yale and this is how we identify each college now, with food place near the campus 🙂 I was lucky to find a local artisan shop and bought this handmade basket to store couch pillows in family room. Its made in Bangladesh, you can read more details in the image below.
August: Canoeing: This was my first time experience canoeing. It was organized by LHB’s scout group and I enjoyed though kids kept complaining about constant rowing and having unexpected visitors in the boat (spiders were everywhere). This place is around 40 minutes away from home and we did this for about 1.5 hours.
NY upstate: I wanted to take kids out for few days before school started and our friend’s family agreed to take us. It was 2 day trip to upstate NY. We visited Watkins glen state park, Corning glass museum, Winery and had good food at local Mexican restaurant. The state park had steep hike around water falls and it was breathtaking. A must place to visit if you haven’t been there yet! I absolutely enjoyed every bits of this park filled with nature, hike, water falls.
In addition, we occasionally dined out at few local restaurants and visited local park!
I am making up for yesterday with two posts today. We are dealing with Snow storm this weekend. I am typing this post while LHB and M are busy clearing our driveway outside!
I am dealing with this nagging headache today. Woke up thinking I will take a break from kitchen today but ended up making mutton liver fry, chicken pepper masala and peas jeera pulav. Story of my life!! *rolls eyes*
Alright, coming to the today’s topic, I want to write about how I single handled pool maintenance last year. As you all know, M was in India almost all summer and I decided to maintain pool so kids can have some fun! As its my luck, pool filter stopped working few days after M left to India. Let me tell you something, I call pool as M’s third baby as it requires that much of attention. Its high maintenance from all aspects.
LHB’s friend’s dad from our neighborhood stopped by to take a quick look and we found that the pipe closer to filter had air leak. He suggested to either call someone professional or try some DIY options. I spent next few days visiting local home improvement shops and seeking google baba’s help. Google and Youtube babas gave suggestions about a plastic mix that can be used to seal PVC pipes. I decided to give it a try as calling a professional would take long time and cost exorbitant money! Ordered the package in Amazon, it arrived 2 weeks later and one fine day I followed the instructions and applied this mix to seal air leak. In these two weeks, more algae formed and pool turned into dark green color!!
It was few days of wait time again to validate my DIY fix! And it worked yayyy! The happiness I felt on that day didn’t let me sleep 🙂
Now that filter started working, I let it run 24 hours and started following instructions from local pool store to kill all algae and bring water back to usable state. It took another 2 weeks with every day trip to pool store. The store guy could spell M’s last name by heart by the time the pool was ready 🙂 I woke up at odd hours to add shock as shock works better in absence of sunlight. I acted like a new born’s mommy caring for the pool 24×7. I had to feed the pool every two hours, brush the sides and floor, check filter, clean surface, check pH level et all.. Liquid shock gave better results so bought 5 gallon jars of liquid shock and dumped them in intervals. All this was learning at different level as I didn’t even know what a shock was until few weeks back!
One afternoon after few weeks of following all treatments religiously, Adi summoned me to backyard. She was like you have to see this Amma, just come for few minutes. I wrapped up my work call and went to backyard to see this beauty! I don’t know how to express that moment of happiness!
It was all worth the effort as pool was accessible. LHB used it many times, Adi/her friends had fun one of the days and I got to dip my feet 🙂
Yesterday was a crazy day with back to backs from the time I woke up until it was time to crash that it slipped my mind to do a post!! One of those days 🙄
Its easier to write about facts so let me write about Adi’s 16th birthday party. She wanted to keep it low key, invite few of her friends and have a simple party outdoors in a local park. In Amreca, 16th birthday is a big deal. Some make it a grand affair more like a marriage function printing invitations, renting hall and inviting families/friends.
She planned it all and I just helped with execution. M had a medical procedure around that time so I had to execute the plan all alone. One same day, LHB had a scout event so it was crazy day for me but it all ended well and everyone was happy.
Speciality cake was pre-ordered at Nothing bundt cake. Adi bought cup cakes of all flavors, we made it a family task to taste each one of them, rate it to settle on the flavor to buy for her party!
Food was Pizza, Guacamole (made at home), chips and soda. One of her friend was Vegan so we bought Vegan pizza and cup cake for her.
We all left home at 12pm. First stop was at the park. M and Adi got off to find a spot and setup the space for party. LHB and I went to his scout event, came back home to change his dress, pickup black mask for Akka (she is specific about black mask) and returned to park. I dropped LHB at the park and went about next set of pickups!
I was on road for next 3 hours
Pick up cake
Buy return gift for LHB’s friend who is also little brother of Adi’s friend and decided to come for the party
Pick up my surprise for Adi (It was number 16 humongous balloon, costed a bomb but worth it) She kept asking where did you get it and I replied with my standard smile 🙂
Visit home, heat up Vegan pizza
Pick up pizza
Return to party
We spent about 5 hours in the park, Adi and her friends spent time playing some games, roaming around the park and chilling out.
It was a tiring day for me but all is well that ends well and everyone is happy! I couldn’t believe that I have a 16 year old daughter and the urge to make her feel special on her birthday kept me going 🙂
Do you all remember my post about how LHB picked up Sigh-ing from me? So, the mommy brain came up with an idea after squeezing it like an orange! LHB’s birthday is around the corner and I decided the make the best use of it. We came up with this chart and its been taped to the refrigerator door. I can see considerable difference with the Sigh-ing and Whining! *evil mommy laughter*
He started the chart with 100 robux credits (he later corrected it to 400 robux). For uninitiated, robux is like points you can use to buy items in Roblox game. Plan is to deduct 1 point when he does something from every category and he will get remaining robux on his birthday! He got 2 points on 22nd and as you see he strike it out! As of today he stands at 396 robox!
I have to come up with another idea after birthday business is over! Life goes on!
Rest of the India trip was spent being at home with parents. Most of my extended family came home for a quick visit and Appa and I did local trips in his two wheeler. We also played chess and rummy almost every day. Amma as always spent most of her time in kitchen cooking all my favorite items. I missed my Alto car in this trip. Hope he/she is safe somewhere!
One evening, visited Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple and another day was spent visiting the girls hostel supported by my local volunteering organization. Made few trips to M’s parents home, arranged to clean weeds around the home and cleared out all my things from the home. Otherwise I was mostly home bound. Two weeks sped fast like minutes and before we could blink our eyes it was time for me to return. Omicron started few days before my travel and pre travel protocol was changed to test 24 hours before boarding. It was challenging as I also had a six hour road travel before boarding. Thankfully one of the local lab agreed to test late hours and give results by next day morning. So that was sorted out!
I don’t know if I will ever be able to do a similar trip in this lifetime but this was a dream come true trip for me that I will cherish for rest of my life!
Brihadeeswarar temple through my phone camera lens
These pictures summarize my trip. Ignore the first and last picture as they were taken at US.
Amma’s specials: (in picture order) Mudakkathan dosa Aapam/coconut milk with jaggery Onion uthappam with eggplant gothsu Adhirasam (I polished off the whole dabba in 2 weeks. One of my relative brought the dough and my chithi (amma’s sister prepared at home). Vazhaipoo (banana flower) usili Urundai kuzhambu Country chicken gravy Fish varieties All sorts of greens Mushroom gravy Unlimited masala chais Fresh filter kaapi and many more that I didn’t remember to click!
I returned home with all sorts of masala powders and grocery items!
Adi was roasting me as I told her that in this trip I am going to give rest to my mom and cook for her but as usual Amma served me all my favorites and I sheepishly enjoyed them all 😄
I don’t know if I will ever be able to do a similar trip in this lifetime but this was a dream come true trip that I will cherish for rest of my life!
Last Sunday, my volunteering organization local chapter held annual award ceremony virtually for high school children who volunteered with us for last one year. I have been associated with this organization for past 4 years. Started off at my old neighborhood as a parent volunteer, one year later when we moved to current home we decided to start a center in this neighborhood. We started with 9 high school children in first year, expanded to 20 the following year and now we have 40 children volunteering with us.
There have been so many ups and downs, learnings and challenges in past 4 years but I must say its a soulful journey for me that transformed me to be a better person. This journey helped me realize my potential, passion, values and commitment to stand strong against all odds. It connects me with like minded people whom I enjoy working with. We all have our day job and family responsibilities but the energy we share when we connect in between all these demands to keep the ball rolling blows my mind. Come what may, this core group always makes time for volunteering service. An analogy is our childhood days when we study/listen to elders all day and eager to meet with friends in the evening to play mindlessly on the street. This is how I feel when I do volunteering work!
Though we had many rehearsals and I knew the agenda/content by heart for Sunday’s event, I became emotional when the actual event happened. An analogy I could think of is marriage. Though we prepare for months, it becomes emotional, the moment when knot is tied. Around 250 people joined the event and I was given the opportunity to present ground report about the girls hostel in India that our chapter supports. I was fortunate to visit and spend a day with them during recent India trip.
I was also given the task to setup Deep Prajwalan at home and light the lamp during beginning of the event. I took this opportunity to dress up in saree 🙂 and have a photo session! LHB was my photographer. Adi is too tall and her angel never comes right, LHB’s height works perfect for me.
Volunteering is a humble soul satisfying journey that I wish to continue to be part of as long as I can! I am happy to have found and settled with my way of paying it forward!
Exhausted is the word of the day! Today is one such day, I had to push myself hard to get through the day. the day my ability has been tested, the day I have to look deep for gratitude, the day I walk around feeling helpless, in secure and weird, the day I have to constantly reinforce my mind about the path I have chosen to follow, the day I have to remind self about how much I have grown mentally during pandemic times. How do I measure my growth? You may ask!
On a similar day, few years back I would have either lost my cool, raised my voice to the family for no fault of theirs and expose my disturbed mind or cried buckets but today none of that happened. I know this is not an easy path but this is what I want to follow and I can’t give up just because it’s not easy. I have come too far to give up!
I have requested LHB to switch to my bed today and the little one graciously agreed after giving me a gyan for 10 minutes. “You know Amma, you have to let me sleep in my bed. I have to practice from now so I can sleep in my room when I turn 10. What is the point of having a room if I don’t sleep there? Only today okay?”
I am just going to hug him tight, get into my safe zone and close my eyes. Sleep will come when it can!
I come to this space end of the day, write about a topic and disappear. I am few days behind on reader! Hope to get to it soon. I wanted to write about a different topic today but something else happened in the evening that took precedence.
LHB received an invitation from school to take part in American Heart Association fundraiser. Fundraiser invitation from school is common in this country and we usually don’t pay much attention to it. This time, LHB was behind us for few days to take part. I finally sat down today evening to look at the details.
On a whim, we signed up, completed few activities and I decided to share it in my Facebook timeline that was long dead. Its been years I posted anything in FB as its now a mix of school friends, college friends, family, extended relatives, ex-colleague, current colleague, family friends, extended family friends, distant cousin’s distant cousin, her sister and everyone else. It’s hard for me to decide what to post and what not. So, I decided to be a spectator few years back, that too not a frequent visitor.
We set the goal as $100 and in just few minutes, LHB received his first donation. It was from my ex-boss and it was a huge amount. We were thrilled and LHB sent him a video thank you message. This incident triggered a chain of thoughts that left me overwhelmed. It reminded me of this video. We all just have to pay it forward and the chain continues. I hope LHB remembers this incident and chose to support good cause when its his turn to give back to the community.
I am at loss of words to express my gratitude and today has been a day filled with gratitude. I will save to write more about today’s other happenings in another post!
Adi took her first job in Summer 2020. She worked at CVS store for 2 months. I was surprised by her dedication. She took shifts on some Friday’s from 8am-4pm and always 5 minutes early for her shift! Its a job where she can’t sit, have to be at the register or organize items in shelves. She gets a quick lunch break and that is it!
I have made few trips to the store during her shift just to bully her 🙂 I tell her coworkers that I am her mom much to her annoyance and walk around the store with a proud look! She saves $2 coupons to buy candies for her and LHB! The little one used to promptly ask “What did you bring today Akka?” and they share a skittles pack or a hershey’s bar!
I was expecting her to buy something for me on the last day but she brushed it off by saying there is nothing in that store that will suit me! She said, maybe I can get you a gallon of milk. Do you want that??!!What can I say? I sigh-ed!!
Her earnings are intact in her savings account. If at all she spends from it then M reloads it for her. Its funny to see their conversation about this. Adi: Appa, I spent $8.42 today! M: Ok, give me a sec, let me credit $10 into your account! Adi: danke
So, with this rounding off business, she actually has more than what she earned in her account right now😁
Digressing to my childhood memory
I used to do the same with my Appa. I will save up to Rs.80 and then exchange the coins and notes with Appa for a 100 rupee note. When it reaches 400 or 450, exchange it for 500 rupees note 🙂 I earned by doing chores at home mostly quick trip in my bicycle to Annachi’s store or meat shop and that will get me 2 rupees. My paternal grandpa always used to give us money during every visit. He decides on the amount based on what we do. My brother always received more than me. I received Rs.10 until 10th grade and graduated up to Rs.500 when I joined work! He will take more than 10 minutes to get this money out of this purse aka layers of neatly folded newspaper, the money will be hidden between the layers and only he can find it. He will keep different denominations in different layers.. Happy memories ❤
That’s Adi in blue jeans waiting for store to open on her first day! It was a busy store and mostly elders visit this store. She used to share interesting customer stories on most days. How an old man lost his cool and started yelling at her for no fault of hers, how an old lady was looking for something, how another randomly accused all staff for unknown reasons, how she messed up payment for a customer etc…