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Happy 12th

Dear Adi,

I have a 12 year old daughter. Phew. Life is moving on lightning speed. You know what makes me terrified these days. The feeling that you will soon fly out of this nest. And whenever that pang of feelings hit me I rush to the room where you are and just hang around. I know I am insane, for god only knows you might just go to college from home but with every day passing that feeling of “I am going to miss you” is hitting me hard kannama.

You are a well rounded child who knows the nitty gritty to handle most of the situation. You adapt very well. You are an adviser to some of your friends. You know your values. You are honest and compassionate. You are considerate.You cannot hurt others. You don’t like to be a defaulter. I am sure you will not get involved in any act that will make you regret later. You have that self control. Yet, you still act like a child and happy with watching just kid appropriate movies. What more can I ask for? I am proud to be your mother and you give me that grand feeling that I have done a good job in raising you so far ma.

You are part of a gang of 7 girls and your gang in named MAARRSS after the first letter of each of the gansgter name. You girls are like a close knit standing for each other for anything and everything. I am so glad that you are part of a gang. I love listening to all the chit chats and meaningless convos you girls have and how you all plan every small thing.

A major shift I noticed in you this year is you have come out of the cocoon to participate in competitions. Some of the competitions you participated this year are Odyssey of the mind, battle of the books, battle of the classes and celebrating art. We had rich experience with Odyssey of the mind where both Appa and I volunteered with a 4 yr old in tow and we as a family spent the whole day at a different middle school. There was so much to learn. I enjoyed all those off site meetings you girls had at our home to prepare for the competition. I would just sit there and watch you all chit-chating and working at the same time. I already see me in you in some of your actions ma. One of your art has been selected to be published in an art book. We are yet to know your ranking. My jaw literally dropped looking at your recent portrait for an English project.

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You are continuing with carnatic music and piano. You agreed to sing during golu visits (it is a big leap) and recently gave a performance in local sai baba temple. Still long way to go with both arts.

You can make an omelette for yourself now with us not in the vicinity. One day when I was late to work and you were home, you made onion ring omelette and packed it for me 🙂 You love cooking the non messy stuff and you are up for baking anytime.

You don’t like to dress up. You are absolutely fine with a pair of t shirts and pants. You think skirts, ear rings or any kind of jewelry are not meant for you. Its a big deal to even take off knots or oil your hair, forget about styling.

You are taking school bus in the morning from this year. That is you walking to the bus stop on the first day of boarding bus. All these years we have dropped you at school and this is a first. I love packing your dabba every day though that means I have to wake up one hour early. You noticed that I packed your favorites for lunch all this week to keep it a special week.

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LHB annoys you the most but you embrace him like a second mother. I couldn’t avoid this as much as I want to. It just happens naturally and me trying to keep you out of his chores looks out of place. So, I just let it go with the flow. My point is not to make you think of him as a burden. You are the bestest Akka and my eyes well up with happy tears when I see you both cuddling. Sibling love is magical. I wish you both to enjoy this all your life. That’s the two of you watching TV.

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I can’t wait to see you as that independent woman handling the good, bad and ugly of life all with a grace. I am sure you are going to rock it ma.

I love you to the moon and back kannama. May god bless you to stay the same always.

Always with you and for you. You can count on your family for anything under the sun.

Love,
Amma

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Happy 4th

Dear LHB,

Happy happy birthday kutti. This is a special once in a lifetime birthday when you turn 4 on 4th. Akka herself has to wait for 2 more years to get this special one da. And you can eat two vitamin gummies from now on. Isn’t that awesome my beeg boy?

You were hinting about party this year but Amma chose to wait till next year when you will not give a hint but demand by standing upside down. We had a small celebration at school yesterday morning. You were brimming with pride all the time when Amma and Appa were at your class.

You have a craze for paw patrol so I got paw patrol plates/napkins/tshirt and sneaker for you. I am sure that would be the best gift for you now. Akka has instructed me to buy trucks, cars and some of your current favorites (she is paying for them from her pocket money) and she is going to gift them all to you today.

Amma has planned to keep it a fun day for you today. We will start the day with temple visit, family lunch at restaurant, fun time at chuck e cheese and end the day with cake cutting of home made cake (Akka’s special).

Ok now where do I start about this year kutti? That is how Amma call you “kutti”. Akka keeps changing her way of calling you every other month. The names are strictly to be used only by her. Some of the cute names I could recollect are veeki baby and chu chu botta! Don’t ask for the meaning. IDK!!!

Your sentences evolve every month. Some of the cute ones are

“As a baby, I do … You member (remember) that Amma” – You say this when you do something that is not acceptable like throwing something or peeing on pants or other gross stuff that only babies do.

Now you claim to be “almost grown-up”. You eat chicken and drink milk as you believe only that will make you grown up.

“My teacher said…” is another phrase I have to listen to every evening. You readily listen to all that your teacher says and I can’t thank her enough for that. The best is your teacher said “you have to watch only little bit TV every day” and you follow that on weekdays!! I can’t ask for more da.

You are at the prime age to learn and observe. You have come a long long way from where you were at 3.

You got potty trained in no time, you can sometimes feed yourself, you can write, you recognize almost all uppercase alphabets, you can follow instructions, you can communicate, you can talk lengthy sentences, you can zip up your jacket, you can remove your sneakers, you try to button your shirt. Oh my goodness this has been an eventful year for you with so much learning kutti. I can’t be more proud of you.

I learned my biggest lesson about you with potty training and writing. I was preparing myself for many months to prepare you for potty training but you didn’t co operate. I gave it some more time and you still didn’t show sings of getting trained. But, when you were ready, you got trained in no time. Same with writing too. So, my biggest learning about you is that I have to wait until you are ready. I need to practice that patience and give the time you need and trust you da.

After last year’s India visit, you have started calling us as “Amma/Appa”. That was in my checklist and my heart just melts every time you call me “Amma”. We had to train you for few months to call Akka as “Akka” and you got that too. I love the way you run behind her all the time calling out as “Akka”..

Akka puts you first in all her thoughts da. She doesn’t say anything even if you accidentally sneeze on her face. Her patience with you is something I am still learning to practice myself. The way she protects you when I get mad leaves me speechless. She is the first person you run to when you are in trouble or not feel good. She reads book to you at bed time. She loves you to the moon and back. When we give her a choice she always says “I will go or stay where baby goes or stays”. I wish you both to remain the same all this life.

I get very emotional with you kutti. You cover up for Akka and shower me with hugs and kisses when I ask for one! You are one happy happy boy. Your cuteness makes situations lighter at home.

Oh last but not the least you talk a little about your classmate “Grace” and I told Akka may be we should tag her as your first crush 🙂

Your kutti moolai (tiny brain) works over time and processes so many things. May you be blessed with good health and happiness all you life. You are a precious gift to this family and we promise to stay by your side always no matter what.

Love,
Amma

M’s big day

Last year M touched the milestone age that anyone would dread to reach. So as a doting wife I wanted to surprise him. Surprises doesn’t work well at our household but this one I have planned it very carefully and blog played a small role in the overall plan too.

I started with all this process early May 2016.

Plan A was to invite some of M’s friends home along with their family and have a surprise party for M. The staple one most of the people do here. I reached out to one of his ex-colleague’s wife but she said they have plans to go to India around that time and I didn’t like the idea of inviting others without them as this ex-colleague’s family is like a common bond to all other families. So, Plan A was dropped and I squeezed my brain for few weeks to come up with an alternate plan. Thus, Plan B was born.

Plan B was to work from home on his birthday, pickup kids and then go surprise him at work, gather his colleagues and do a cake cutting at office (of course with his colleague’s help) but the said colleague gave me a gyan saying men usually wouldn’t like sharing the big number in public and that too with current situation at work it is not advisable. Plan B was dropped. But he gave another idea. He said men usually prefer to spend their special day in private with family so suggested to take M for a family dinner at a rooftop restaurant at NY.  I liked that idea. So, Plan C was on.

Plan C needed more planning ahead of time. To research for a good rooftop, book in advance etc. Also, what would I tell M to take him to NY. We are not that type of family to just hop on a train for NY visit. We need a good reason or plan ahead for any outing. So, I reached out to this friend’s wife (I want to refer her as friend as we have become more of friend’s now). She did her homework and suggested “The View” at Marriott. I was skeptical to reserve without seeing the view myself. So, took early sign off from work one day, ventured out to the streets, boarded the subway train and visited the restaurant on the other side of the city. The first look was not very pleasing. I wanted M to go “wowww” when he enters the rooftop but this one was not matching my expectation. I shared my feedback with the friend and we were back to square one.

Then, she suggested a different option. To do a surprise cake cutting at Top of the rock and then take him for dinner to an Indian restaurant at Times square. I liked that idea. So, we started planning for the execution of this plan. I blocked tickets for Top of the rock. For the friends, I blocked the slot 30 minutes ahead of us so they can surprise M at the top. Also, she gracefully agreed to get a cake.

Few days before the D day, I told M that one of my blog friend is visiting NY with her family and wanted to meet us at NY. And that she bought the tickets for Top of the rock and sent it to me 🙂 He believed it and couldn’t say no!! Also, as it was summer I suggested to do some more stuff at NY.

On D day, we left in the afternoon, went to central park, kids played in amusement park at central park for couple of hours and then we headed to the Top. M was little suspicious as I denied to show him the reservation. I was on constant texting with the friend confirming their position. As planned, they were at the top before us, M met them as a surprise and cut cake at the top (67th floor). We spent few more hours there for the money spent and then headed to the restaurant. That was a surprise for him too. Had good dinner, parted the friends at train station and reached home past 1am.

This was our first visit to the TOP and I must admit that this is a better choice compared to Empire state as this gives the best view of both central park and Empire state.

The friend took some awesome family pics. Actually, I owe to him for all our family pics. I could not have executed this without their help and support. Adi knew the plan ahead and played along with me. But, I didn’t share with her as how I convinced M to come to NY. She was repeatedly asking “how did you do it Amma?” I didn’t tell her the details as she doesn’t know about my blog.

Some pics from the amusement park and the family pic from the top.

LHB acted to be a beeg boy and ventured into all rides all by himself.

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11th party

Luckily, we didn’t have to squeeze our brain to think of a theme last year. The girl had it all pre planned. She wanted a sleep over party influenced from her peers.

As it is every year, we baked cake at home. It was a chocolate filled two layered vanilla cake with pink colored vanilla frosting. Mini kit kat’s decorated around for more choco effect. Chocolates are never enough. The little’s at this household can survive with just chocolates for many meals.

There is something  special about this 11 year old girl that the baking of cake taught me that day. She wanted me to bake a seperate small fruit cake for one of her friend as her friend has nut allery and she was afraid if the chocolates would have nuts in them. I was beaming with pride while baking and decorating the fruit cake. When did she grow up to be so thoughtful?  God bless her and keep her the same always! To be considerate of others.

That would be my first and foremost wish for my kids. To respect self, respect others, to be considerate of others, help others and stand on their own feet. Don’t ever be greedy darlings. If you need something you have to earn it in a genuine way!! Do not accept freebies. They grow a dangerous attitude within you that will spoil your mind and impact your closer ones too. Stay unbiased to everyone around you, treat people equally (men/women, tall/short, fat/slim, dark/white doesn’t matter) and do not fall for stereotypical thoughts.

Woww. That’s a lot I said. I should have made it a seperate post. I forgot this was supposed to be a party post. Just got carried away as I am going through this struggle of paying for someone else greediness!!!

Back to the party, she invited 6 girls. The first thing the girls did after putting down the bag was to get our home WiFi password from me. I wrote it in a piece of paper and kept in the table after the 2nd girl asked for it! **rolls eyes**

The rest of the party was handled by 6 girls. I was sitting in a corner watching them go wild and the little boy in middle of them going wilder.

They baked red velvette cup cakes, ate strawberries dipped in chocolate syrup, played “suck M&M with straw”, decorated their return gift (cross bag), ate pizza, cakes, watched movie and went to bed relectatnly around 1am. The boy was an active participant in all games. You could see that in pics.

They all slept upstairs in a king+full bed. When I went to wish them good morning I could see the girls sleeping in all possible directions. The boy couldn’t wait for them to come down. They had donuts for breakfast and then was chatting around until the parents started to come around 11am for pickup.

One of the thing that Adi didn’t like about the party was a subset of girls were preoccupied with this app called “Musically”.. They spent more time on phone and apologized for it before leaving as Adi was visibly upset.

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Happy 11th

Dear Adi,

Where do I start? You are growing as a beautiful young lady now managing all the things on your own.

Academics – I am not following up closely on your studies except for reminding you randomly to check if there is any work due or is there any test/quiz to prepare for. You are doing amazingly well at academics though Appa always keeps his bar slightly higher so that you will keep up with your performance.  Amma is very happy and satisfied with your academics (I might not say this loud to you) as you have understood the importance of being educated and able to manage it by yourself.

You were chosen as class representative out of 7 candidates and it seems one of your classmate told you at the hallway that “she voted for you and you deserve it” in spite of her friend being one of the candidate. You were expecting her to root for her friend. You won with majority of votes in a class where kids knew each other for less than two months. Can’t be more proud of you darling. I wonder how you made your classmates feel your presence in such a short time period. Your teacher says you go out of your way to help classmates.

Pattu – We have found a new teacher in local and you are starting to love pattu classes. I am glad we found her as she knows how to deal with kids. Now, you practice on your own and look forward to pattu class. You were even okay to skip few other events to attend pattu class. Can I ask for more? But I think this change is due to your love for your teacher rather than for pattu itself. I only wish you continue with this until you could make an informed decision about this subject.

Art – You are continuing with art class and here is another beautiful landscape you made to compliment the earlier one. They both are now adorning our living room. I have made it clear that we are not buying any art for our home. It should all only be proud display of your own work.

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I have created an art board as a backdrop of your bed and pinned your art work there. Time to extend the board I guess!! Don’t the wall color look gorgeous? We choose the paint (named confetti) and Appa painted your room.

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Piano – You are taking private class from one of the best teacher. I can’t say you are super excited about the class but we want to continue with it as long as possible.

Sports – This is seasonal. You choose between Swimming or Tennis. We want to keep at least one physical activity as an ongoing activity given the way you put on weight. We are those unlucky souls where the hip/body shows out double of what the lip tastes.

LHB – You call him baby. Yes and that is how you treat him too though he has now started to manipulate you. You  behave like an adult to him. Actually more than an adult as your threshold of patience with him has always been more than us.

He looks after you for every step and you let him follow you. You include him in everything and I can’t thank you enough for that pattumma. Just including him when your friends are around itself is a big deal given your age in spite of him messing around. I try my best to give you your own time so that you don’t feel being bothered by him all the time.

We are potty training him and you take him to the toilet when the situation calls for it. Doesn’t that summarize everything about you? Reminds me of a popular tamil quote “oru paanai sotrukku oru sooru padham” (Eng: one morsel of cooked rice is just enough to judge the taste of one whole pot of cooked rice)

When he annoys you, most of the time you say “Just leave it Amma, he doesn’t really know what he is doing”. I learn from you every single day ma. You are the BEST big sister pattumma.

When he is in trouble or someone bothers him, he would run towards you bypassing us to hide behind you. When you ask “what happened baby? Is someone bothering you?” He would explain the problem to you in his cute innocent voice..  You would patiently listen with your “ohh and ahaan” and then take appropriate action to support your brother. It is a delight to watch the both of you together when you two are at your best.

You are well settled in middle school with your own set of friends. RAAMS is your group’s nick name and you girls plan for sleepover now and then. I am very glad that you got your own group now. I would love to be a secret listener of your chatting sessions just to hear that excitement and happiness and you girls echoing “I know right!!!”. May be it will come true very soon in the form of your birthday party.

You girls have come up with this phrase “we-ooun-weee”. You say that for everything in different modulation based on your mood.

You are in aftercare this year and Appa does the chauffeur job so you and I don’t get much time every day for casual chat but we try to catch up now and then. I do miss all our personal time and it is going to be worse from next year as we have registered you into school bus for morning drop.

You still think I am the annoying person and raise your voice at random times. But, we have learned to come to terms with it faster than before. We have learned to let go and proceed with our own work. And now that you are growing very fast, Appa has also taken some responsibility in observing and giving you gyaans as and when needed.

So, these days when you are mad, instead of pointing at Amma you start with “you guys spoil everything for me”.

As it is a tradition now, Amma will arrange for a treasure hunt as first thing in the morning on your special day (I am planning for a special gift too) and we will bake the birthday cake together based on your design. You are super excited about this year party theme. Me too!!! I instantly fly high when you say “Amma I don’t know how you manage to make my birthday party better by every year”. I believe in the saying “where there is a will, there is a way” darling. It could also be re-written as “when your heart is into something, the stars align to make it happen”..

Well, as a person I can’t be more proud to admit that I am very happy and satisfied with your upbringing pattumma. Your core characters are well formed and I don’t think they will change after this. You cannot hurt anyone knowingly and you care about people.I have noticed it in different occasions. You don’t say it loud when you don’t like something to outsiders just to make sure you don’t hurt them. You do this especially with ammachi when she gets you a dress that you don’t like or cooks something that you don’t like. You act the same way with your friends too. You don’t bad mouth about them in their absence or pass on the not-s0 good comments between friends.

When I have asked you in some occasions you have replied “If I tell her (your friend) what others said, she would feel bad Amma. So, I chose not to tell her”. I doubt if I can act so composed and matured anytime in my life.

You think from different perceptions and consider all possibilities while making a decision. You are able to identify what is right and what is wrong. You do get influenced very easily but that you could have inherited from Amma. As long as that influence is in a good way it is ok ma. You are growing to be a kind heart-ed, sensible and well thinking person. I can’t be more proud of you pattumma.

Wishing you a happy and healthy life ma. That is how I address you most of the times “Adi..mma”. You have questioned me “why do I call you “Amma”. Am I your mother or what?” Truly speaking after my Amma it is you and only you I can call as Amma da. I love addressing you like that “Adi…mma”..

Stay the same always darling. As always remember that, you have a family to back you up no matter what comes your way. I send a silent prayer to God for blessing me with such wonderful kids. I only count my blessings in multiples when I think of you both. You two are the sunshine of my life. May you always stay happy patumma.

Love,
Amma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 3rd

Dear LHB,

Did we already spend 3 years together kutti? Time sure flies but not fast enough for your mother who wants to see you as an independent boy. We have long way to go. First and foremost, you have to be potty trained. Then, feed by yourself. These are my priorities as that will save me a lot of time. But, the day you are ready to do all this, I will terribly miss my cute little boy who talks gibberish aka cute baby talk and kisses/hugs his mom generously. Sighh!! Parenthood can never be satisfied.

You are a happy boy kutti. You don’t cry unless it really bothers you but I see it changing in recent weeks. You pull Adi’s hair and start crying. I mean how is it fair? Though I have now trained myself to act as an unbiased refree, you get your way on certain occasions and the poor girl takes it all. She goes cross with me if I give time out to you for hurting her. Seriously? If there is one thing that I have to request you, that will be to treasure your akka da. Don’t take her for granted and hurt her. She cares for you above and beyond. She calls you “baby” and plans everything for you. She wants to have a small party for your birthday at home inviting two toddlers we know from neighborhood. She was telling me “It is not fair amma. You have to plan a party for the poor boy”. I convinced her that there are days to come when you will demand for it and for this year cake cutting at your school with classmates will just be fine. She carefully picked and packed the goodie bags for your classmates.

You are very good at complaining kutti. You go “Mommy see” when daddy/Adi bothers you and calls out for one of them when the other two bothers you.

You are very good with your sorry and thank you. But, Adi is annoyed with your sorry’s. She asks how does it help Amma? He hurts me and then just says sorry. You may have to learn that when you say sorry you should really mean it and agree not to repeat the same act again. And you should stop pulling her hair and jumping on her. Be nice to her kutti.

You love Caillou and Peppa pig. You learned to say daddy stage by stage from these shows. You started with “dei” followed by “dayeeee” improved to “dadddddeeeeee” and finally to “daddy”. Your appa was very proud with the respect you gave initially. (dei is a not so respectful tamil word)

I have to shamefully admit that I use TV shows as my secret weapon to feed you. I can push anything down your throat if I have you engaged with your favorite TV show. But, there are days you deny outright. Egg dosa with ketchup is my saving grace. You are better with eating spicy food.

You get homework *rolls eyes* from school but we hardly do it. Somehow I feel you are not ready for it yet so didn’t bother much. Adi was freaking out on initial weeks that you are defaulting. She couldn’t take it at all.

I tried to teach you ABC as a family activity. You were always passing your turn and made Appa and Adi say all ABCs. Then, Appa used the idea to make you say “No ABC” and it worked. You can sing the ABC song but can’t recognize the letters yet.

Your favorite rhyme is “daddy finger daddy finger where are you”. You go “daddy finger daddy finger where are you” and then rush as “ououou ouououo howuuuuu”

We have changed your bedtime routine recently and I am loving it. Mommy puts you to sleep these days after we read few books. I am very happy to see you looking forward to the reading sessions. That moment you hug me tight when lights are off. That makes it all worth it.. Amma is now running like a headless chicken to finish all her chores before 8:45pm.

We have just started potty training for you. Long way to go!!

You have come a long way with your speech. You can now say meaningful sentences and express yourself better. Appa was astonished the other day when you sat on the toy car outside a shop and said “daddy put money and pointed at that tiny hole that accepts quarters for the car to work”. We still wonder from where do you learn things.

Amma is working from home today. The plan is to pickup Adi early, go pickup cake and visit your school around 3:30pm for a small party. And then if all goes well, we will go to temple in the evening and have dinner outside.

Amma made payasam today morning and we did a small prayer. You loved the payasam. You can even eat a paper written as sweet. That is your love for sweets. So, I am not surprised.

Amma sometimes just like to sit back and admire you kutti. You melt Amma’s heart at random times and even help her to feel lighter during heavy mood swings. You hug or kiss me whenever I ask you for one unlike your Akka who shrugs her shoulders. I need them now and then to keep myself sane. So, please don’t stop that!!

Ammachi has taken care of you for around 2 years out of the 3 years. She holds unconditional love for her grand kids. So, treat her with respect and be thankful to her always.

Your little mind will learn a lot of things in the coming years. I wish you the best in everything and want you to grow up as a sensible man who will respect self and others. Be nice and have a good heart da. Learn to appreaciate life and relationships around you.

May god bless you with good health and happiness kutti. Always remember that you have a family that will stand by you no matter what!!

Love,
Amma

10th Party

Before I forget that we hosted a party for Adi’s 10th birthday, let me jot down the details.

As that enthu cutlet Amma, I planned for a surprise party but if you know me well you can easily guess how my surprise unfolded..

Adding to my sothapals was Adi’s friend’s mother who made sure to talk to me about the party plan only when we pick up the girls that too when the girls can hear us very well. Some people never get it. I had to roll my eyes heavily to signal her and it got tough to keep up the secret as the day was getting closer so I decided to tell Adi that she can invite her friends and have a party at home over the weekend. I told her that we can bake the cake at home and plan for some games. The theme for this year was chocolate much to the dismay of “eat healthy” Amma. There is only so much one can control.

Adi came up with the cake design. She made a draft, explained it to me and scraped it as “project can’t be done” when I questioned some logistics. Few days before the party, I dusted the design, we re-worked on it and ended up with a decent cake. It was layered with melted chocolate and topped with m&m’s, mini kit kat’s and kisses. The kids loved the cake and taste was good too if I can say so myself. Some even got second servings. Cake making was a collective effort of mommy-daughter duo the night before the party.

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We mixed, licked, baked, arranged and made the final product after four hours of labor. The best part was both of us maintained the zen state from beginning to end.

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The top design was all done by Adi. We loved the way it turned out with the outer 10, kit kat 10 and then M&M 10. It was unplanned. You can see the difference between the design and outcome.

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She invited her best buddies (five girls) from her class and the girls made chocolate dipped strawberries and their own chocolate bowls. Some fixed it as ice cream bowl, some as fruit bowl and the rest choose fruit toppings on ice cream.

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What if the party was not a surprise, I had a surprise element as part of the party. I took prior permission from other parents and took the girls to nearby bowling place that Adi was asking us to take her since we moved here. The girls played there for around one hour and then we returned home and they continued to play inside our community until their parents picked up.

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They had pizza and juice for lunch and return gifts were beads and strings with Adi’s personal touch. Hope the girls had put it to good use given that next day was Mother’s day.

Verdict from Adi: You know Amma, my party just gets better year by year. Can there be a better compliment? I was beaming with proud as if I won a lottery for ten generations to live a lavished life. Though, I had to agree that the effort I had personally put on this year’s party was less than the previous ones.

Oh forgot to mention LHB was the center of attraction and all the girls took turns to pamper him. They sat in a circle, played music and made him dance in the middle. He skipped his nap and enjoyed all the attention.