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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. 

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. 

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. 

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 🙂 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.  

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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. 

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. 

I was very much impressed by all the ideas and solutions presented by young girls.  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. 

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

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. 

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

Work anniversary

Last Saturday (11th Jan)  marks my fourth year anniversary with current employer and I didn’t remember that specifically though mind was alerting randomly that something good happened on 11th Jan in the past. I didn’t bother to squeeze the brain to figure out what it was until my leader was kind enough to remind me about it. He was like “Hey, tomorrow is your 4th year anniversary at this workplace” and I was like “Oh yeah, I remember now. Thank you!”

I don’t remember (call it mid age syndrome. these days I start most of my conversation with a prefix “if my memory don’t fail me”, “If I remember it right” ). Alright let us get back to the topic. I don’t remember if I ever wrote about my current workplace in this blog. For all that it has offered to me, it definitely deserves a post.

This is my first work at NY though I don’t get out to NY streets as I can walk to my office lobby through a tunnel from train station (count as blessings during winter). It is definitely a pride to say “I work in the city” and “I work for XYZ” though it costs a lot in terms of time and effort. They truly care about women empowerment, women in technology, providing the platform to learn and support social cause. My company’s one of current vision is to obtain “Zero waste” certificate in next few years. They have removed garbage cans in cafeteria and replaced all utensils with reusable ones, even the paper cups at coffee machine and replaced with reusable mugs.

The past 4 years at this company has changed my perspective about many things and made me a better person for good. The exposures I got with this company working from the headquarters is tremendous. I had goose bump moments of sharing the elevator with CEO and attending CTO’s town hall in person. The vibration I feel when they are around itself is enough to keep me going for the next one year.

I am ever thankful for making the decision to join this company and staying with them so long. The thought of finding a job in local crosses my mind now and then but I am glad to not succumb to that thought.

I joined them as a contractor and got converted as full time in 3 months. It all started with a casual phone call from my school friend to wish for my birthday. We spoke after almost 15 years and he shared about this opportunity with me. Couple of telephonic interviews followed by an onsite interview and I joined them 1.5 months after that phone call. It feels like a dream and sometimes make me wonder what if that friend never called me? That was the only birthday he called to wish 🙂 What would I be doing now? Opportunity do come in at any time and any form so we have to keep our eyes and ears wide open to look out for it. Never give up!

Add to that, I love the team I work for now. They make you responsible for your actions and treat you as an adult. No micro management, flexibility to work from home and long term unified vision. The leadership empowers each person to bring out the best in them and advocates the team to not fear the change. Basically, our top leader walks the talk, leads by example and makes sure we stay abreast of latest trends. We call a code written just 6 months back as legacy, that is how fast things keep changing.

I am happy with the way I am placed in the team right now. It is neither too aggressive nor too slow. I grow at my own pace and enjoy the work I am doing. Adi and LHB love the swags I bring home. There is always some event happening at work with leftover desserts or some swag. Adi says, don’t ever leave this job Amma. Your company is so cool. Appa’s company is so boringgg!!! LHB loves the annual all day family holiday event.

I accepted new challenge today and 2020 looks very promising with more exciting opportunities like to be a mentor, to be part of leadership team making key decisions, hire more talents, attend breakfast series with women leaders (this means I take my bus at 6:30am but its worth it to hear their insightful thoughts in a casual setup), attend conferences and bring a positive change in the team.

Apologies for the long post. I feel like I only wrote down half of what I wanted to say!

Ginger bread man – Day 62/11

At LHB school, they played a game in December where the kids made gingerbread man and the teacher hid it in closet telling the kids that he disappeared and went to visit places.

She requested parents to ask their friends and family from different state/country to send letters to school saying they spotted the gingerbread man near their place and explain the details.

It’s an interactive and fun way to learn about other states and countries. Did I tell you already that I love this school? It plays a major role to the wholistic progress LHB has made in last two years of course in his own pace.

See what his cousins from the other side of this country sent for him. He is one of the first to receive the letter. I loved the detail about the bridge.

LHB now talks about Mexico, China, Golden gate bridge and Florida. He wants to go to Mexico. Hope he takes me along too preferably to a beach town 😎

Club slogan and Questioning – Day 26

I had to think hard to write something today. Nothing unusual if I don’t count the study time with LHB. We spent around 45 minutes together and inspired by that Adi also wanted me to ask questions from two lessons. Both are very unusual events. LHB sitting in one place for 45 minutes can be considered close to a dead person coming alive. Ok that is a bad analogy.

Questioning Adi happens like countable times in a year. I know she really doesn’t need this but we just do it for some time pass. I remember troubling Amma with this during school days. Make her ask questions in random order and check my answers. That too when she is busy with some errands like grinding idli batter with her hands filled with batter. I will make her wash her hand and ask questions. I will create a scene as if I will fail the exam if she doesn’t ask the questions right away. That memory is so vivid. Yes, I was an atrocious kid who troubled her mother with so many silly demands.

Ok coming to the actual content of this post, Adi recently learned this slogan related to her club and kept saying it at home. It was catchy and little tough to memorize so I tried and memorized too with a strict warning from her. I am not supposed to say this loud either in front of her friends or in the club competition. I should not even show the sign of knowing this slogan. She has so much confidence in this crazy mother that she will surely sing it loud just to embarrass her girl. So, here is the slogan

it dit little dit
oat doat little doat
ishh kili otto
bodaski di ta
oda two

The great meaning of this slogan is yet to be deciphered even by its unknown creator.

P.S: I m getting more popular for jinxing day by day. Just when I was telling Adi that there is nothing interesting that happened today, I got a call from neighbor that there are 3 fire trucks and 1 ambulance outside our garage. I went out to check and it was due to a smoke from neighbor’s dryer unit. The fire men got it under control. All is well now.

It has been 5 days since I went to gym and today I ate two idlis with molaga podi and coconut chutney. So much for the no carb diet 😦

Have any of tried mixing coconut chutney with molaga podi, make it like a orangish mix and eat with idli or dosa? If not, try it soon. Heaven is the word!

P.P.S: Thank you all for your ideas for the party games. I am reading all comments. Keep them coming. Will reply to them and do blog hop over the weekend. Thank you all again. I also thought of this other game where the person has to answer for previous question and survive for one minute.

 

Holiday shopping, learning – Day 25

LHB had yearly holiday shopping at school today and he bought me green earrings as green is my favorite color. A thoughtful little boy made his mommy super happy. I was grinning ear to ear all evening wearing the earring 🙂

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Today and next two days are going to be all day learning session at work and I am loving it to learn something new. Today was a productive day. Hoping to try something new in next two days that can impress my management.

We have a potluck coming weekend. Can you guys suggest some game ideas for the bharatha vilas group (I mean its a mix of many states from India – tamil, telugu, malayalam, hindi) so it can’t be like a language specific game like dumb charades or movie name guessing.

I did it – Day 4

I don’t know what was going on in my mind, during summer I registered to a leadership course provided by my company in collaboration with Harvard university in spite of knowing the upcoming prolonged vacation, tight schedules, Q4 deliverables and other priorities.

I guess my mind was probably at the same state when I signed up for 100 happy days. It was not just a self learning virtually at your own pace course. It had 3 modules each spanning for few weeks with lessons and assignments due every week that required effort to complete.

Each module had study group activities and session with moderator. My moderator is from UK and all the members of my study group are from UK and India. What does that mean? The calls were scheduled at 5am my time. There were days nights I did marathon completion of assignments piled up for few weeks. It gave good insights into leadership roles and some good tips.

I survived through it all and had the closure call at 4am today morning (thanks to daylight savings). I will be receiving my certificate just before the Christmas holidays begin. My Christmas gift 🙂

Kumudha aappy annachiiii!!!

Puzzle time

Glad to share that LHB solved below puzzle mostly by himself. I was amazed at the way he matched the shapes to fit them. He was getting cranky and uncontrollable when failed but was doing better with proper guidance.

We first did the red bird, then yellow bird, then the stars, followed by letters and finally put them all together. Wasn’t that bad. I love this puzzle time with him!!

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He is now entering into this “all by myself” stage. God save us!!

 

The happy secret to better work

I am a big fan of Ted talks. Every talk teaches you something new.

This one talks about “Look at stress as a challenge not as a threat”. It is worth watching this video. Please do when you have few mins.

 

P.S: The contractor is finally here to work on the kitchen and I am down with a very bad cold. Running nose with watery eyes sucks!!! I am going to take some medicine and sleep early today. Let’s see!!

Endangered Species – Science Project

This is another work that we were occupied with in the month of December. Adi was asked to do build an enclosure for an endangered species. She picked Black footed faret and was given two weeks to build this enclosure. We visited the many recommended store Hobby Lobby for supplies but you could buy the entire store for the same price you will spend on the school project aisle. Miniature trees and grasses were costing so high that I dropped the idea of buying miniatures there and came back home with empty hand. On the other side, this girl was threatening me as “Oh you will spend for this and that but not for my school project”.

I then asked her to explain the plan in a piece of paper and took few days to figure out cost effective way to build the model. A visit to the dollar store, walmart, small branches from bushes near our home and supplies from our pantry were more than enough to build the model.

Adi at work

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Bird’s eye view:

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Close-up:

Aluminium foil on the over bridge to give steel look was Adi’s idea.We worked on it for almost 3 to 4 days to make it perfect. I was impressed with Adi’s dedication in this project. Needless to day, she received an A+ for this project.

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Summary by Adi:

writing

P.S: While drafting this post I was not able to recollect the name “enclosure”. So, asked this girl about it. Here is our convo:

Self: Pappa, what was that you built for black footed faret?
Adi: Why you ask?
Self: Just like that, please tell me na..
Adi: “Enclosure”. Why would you ask “just like that”. You upto something amma. Hold on, are you posting about this somewhere?
She doesn’t know about this blog yet or so I believe. I am not sure how long will I be able to keep this blog away from her. Let’s see..

Breast(pump) feeding

Where do I start? Okay, If breast feeding is considered blessing for the babies then breast (pump) feeding is a blessing for the mommies.  I managed to feed my baby exclusively with breast milk for first four months though I had to return to work in less than three months and all the credit goes to the breast pump. Let me share my recent first hand experience of breast (pump) feeding. Hope this helps at least one of the clueless newbie mommy out there.

My journey of BF started two days after giving birth to my baby as the colostrum took its own time to find its way out. Why should the it worry about my baby’s hunger? I patiently (not really) waited for the prestigious highly hyped colostrum buddy to peep out and then there was no stop. Engorgement has become my frequent visitor even if I am delayed by one minute in the two hour feeding routine. Not willing to befriend Ms.Engorge I started the pumping saga. I pumped once or twice a day and built up my freezer stash. Little did I know the benefit of freezer stash at that time. My family didn’t really like the idea of storing the milk in freezer. Amma’s mantra was “if you have more then feed him often” but I didn’t budge and took my stand for once.  I fed him only when he was in need and stored all the excess milk ignoring those stares.

This is the calculation from my personal experience. This may not be true for all babies. It is only my personal experience and I have not done any research or study around it. Enough said let’s get into the details now.

The baby’s intake will be their age+2 ounces roughly for every two hours. So, newborn will intake 2 ounces in 1st month, 3 ounces in 2nd month, 4 ounces in 3rd month and so on.  Mother’s milk production will be more than required in initial months so saving them for later is the wiser choice. My lactation consultant asked me to always remember the 5-5-5 rule for milk storage. Milk can be stored for 5 hours in room temperature, 5 days in fridge and 5 months in freezer.

During first month mostly I fed my baby as I was still recuperating from the surgery. Then, I started to have a pattern. Like once or twice a day I will pump, save 2 to 3 ounces for next feed and the rest in freezer. This way I was able to save at least 4 to 6 ounces every day. By the time I was ready to start work I had enough in freezer to feed my baby for 3 days.

During the first day of work my baby lived on the freezer stash. Imagine 8 hours being away from the baby for the first time. That’s the day I, rather my family,  realized the power of saving milk. At work I pumped for the next day. Store them in a cooler pack until I get home and then kept it in refrigerator. At nights I was feeding. The routine was set.

Another personal experience is that the more you feed the more is the milk production as doctors say breast milk production is directly proportional to your baby’s need. Your brain gets signaled and the production increases under normal circumstances if you don’t have any other medical problems. You would have noticed the let down just before feeding or when your baby cries in hunger. This connection is beyond explanation but I have felt it. So, I choose to store Friday’s pumped milk for following Monday and feed my baby on weekends. This setup worked great for another one month. The contentment of this setup was beyond words.

Amma used to say that milk is not enough for my baby but I kept my cool as long as he is fed based on my calculation and he was gaining weight as expected every month. That is at fourth month he was fed around 6 ounces every time he showed signs of hunger. My doctor also confirmed that around 24 to 26 ounces per day is good enough for a four month old.  Also, babies usually gain 1kg every month for initial few months. I have experienced this for both my kids.

Once four months were over, we slowly introduced him to supplement (Enfamil) and at five months we started with solids as per my doctor’s advice. I could have continued pumping for as long as I want but as other priorities came up and due to other practical reasons I slowly reduced my pumping routine and now (at six months) feeding him only at nights. Hope to continue with the nighttime feed as long as possible.

And that sums up my Breast(pump) feeding saga. Please share your experience too..

Oh by the way I used Medela electric double pump and it worked great for me.

Good luck to all the new and expecting mommies..

P.S: This post might have lot of figures but I guess if you are feeding or have recently done that you should be able to relate to it more easily. Others, don’t worry if the figures are refusing to get into your mind. You can always revisit this place when you are about to start the BF phase.

Cross-posted at IMC – http://www.indianmomsconnect.com/2013/07/18/breastpump-feeding