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Happy 16th

Dear Daaru,

It’s sweet sixteen dear. You are SIXTEEN! I am pinching myself hard to accept this fact. This is the year you took control of your actions and future for real! You take all decisions and run it by us for validation. Most of the times we just nod and agree with you. I am amazed at the way you analyze and rationalize your decisions.

If there is a year you worked super hard, that would be this year too. I am sure you have to continue to work hard for more years but this is the first year I saw that seriousness take over you. I am ashamed to say that every weekday you wake up before me and go to bed after me. Yet, I complain to you about lack of sleep!!

I am going through a very rough phase both physically and emotionally and you help me to keep up my sanity. You are just a shout away for me. I shout out your name when things go out of control and you are there in next few minutes to take charge. I am super scared of the adjustment I have to go through after you move out for college in next 1.5 years. This year, you gave me the confidence that you are all ready to explore life on your own.

Most of the other things remain the same as I wrote down in your 15th birthday letter. We are still living in pandemic times and I feel kids have got better handle of pandemic time than adults! There is never a day you took off from school or defaulted from an assignment or sulked about mountains of school work! You just do them and move on!

You shop for clothes online, narrow down what you exactly need and come to me for checkout. When I take a look at them to read through reviews, you answer all my questions without a beat demonstrating the kind of analysis you have already done before adding it to the cart! Same stays true for any other shopping as well! I follow your lead when we make local store trips!

Mug cake, garlic bread, pasta, egg/veg puffs, banana bread, chicken parm, restaurant style chicken nuggets, fish air fry are your kitchen specialties. You make mid day coffee for us and bring me a plate of something if I tell you I am hungry in middle of my work calls! You love take outs from Chipotle, Chick-fill-a and Taco bell!

LHB and I made a store run yesterday and he picked up gifts for you. When I tried to suggest a gift, he gave me this look and asked in a firm tone “Amma, who do you think know her better you or me?” I replied “Of course you” and we moved on to next aisle! Your sibling bonding is vera level..

If there is one word that I want to share with you when you turn 16, it will be β€œempathyβ€œ. Hold on to this word tight as it will help you to grow as a good human and help people around you as well. This may stay as my recommended word to you for rest of our life!

You are too good for your age and I wish you good health and happiness all through your life.

All the stars in the sky would not be enough to count my blessings to have you as my daughter ma and its very hard for me to accept that you have taken over the control of your life yet I stand from a distance and admire all your actions kannamma. I hope you get deserving results for all your hard work.

Amma will set up our traditional treasure hunt and I managed to sneak in a surprise in spite of you doing a constant surveillance of my phone. I hope it will all turn out well!

Love you to the moon and back and God bless you ma!

Love,
Amma

Books – Need help

I want to create a book list to read for this year. I am not an avid reader at present but want to hold on to one book at a time and read at bedtime. Make this a habit to read at least 10 minutes every night, ok every weekday night!

Would you nice people please leave comments with “must to read” books from your list?

And I am determined to finish Ponniyin selvan this year so switched to audio podcast version of this novel. I have made tremendous progress with this setup and love it πŸ™‚ This is one of the reason why I love my evening walk πŸ™‚

Happy 8th

Dear LHB,

My sweetheart, my lifeline, my chella kutty, I love the way you are growing up da! The way you care for others and being empathetic melts my heart kutty! I sincerely hope you stay the same even after having your own first hand experience of various types of crazy people!

Other day, you were in school session, I was on a work call in next room and my laptop charger fell down with banging sound. You instantly muted your laptop and asked “Amma, are you okay?”. You check on me at random times. It so happens, you ask “How is your day ma?, How are you doing today?” just on the day I yearn for someone to check on me! You are the same to everyone! When friends visit us, you make sure they are rightly engaged. J aunty was saying how you engaged her in Kitchen when we all went out to run an errand leaving her alone at our home with 4 kids! You showed her where the onion and garlic are and gave her company while she was doing prep work for dinner!

You are a bundle of positive energy da. If you cry then we all know something is terribly wrong. None of us can bear to see even a tiny drop in your eyes. But hey, very recently you learned to fake cry! You cry for a minute and when we take a closer look at you, you start laugh cry πŸ™‚

Your logical sense has improved a lot in past year and now you make an attempt to do less guess work with Math. You have taken a step forward with academics very recently and let’s work together to see where that takes us! Effort is all that matters kanna! One step at a time!

You are a true believer of Santa and tooth fairy. Your proud Amma very recently added birthday God to this list! We do cheeky cheek, kiss and hug generously. The rule for hug is to hug tight and count to 50. Every time we hug, I tell you that I am not getting enough of you even after counting to 50 but you count as fast as you can and flee away. Let me enjoy these as long as they last. There is no hurry. Take your own time to outgrow kutty!

Each one of us call you with different name and you care less. Appa calls you Aovli, Akka calls you Aaaavi and I call you baby or kutty or silly! We also call each other dude, bro, master depending on our mood and situation!

You say “15 million years” for every other sentence. Like you have been following covid protocols for “15 million years”, you have been doing Math for “15 million years”. This is your tag line now!

Rules are rules and they are meant to be broken. You are a strict officer when it comes to rules. You will not let others break it but that sheepish smile when you break it is priceless!

You have learned and unlearned three tamil songs this year – “paalum theli thenum”, “tamil thai vazhthu” and “a aa padikkan vanthen”

You are smarter at tackling situations than Akka. There is a story about 7 eleven shop and pizza. Will make a separate post about it.

You are my company for temple visits. You are worried we can’t go to temple this year on your birthday. Amma promised to take you on a drive around the temple, only if the snow is cleared by then!!

You play Roblox and Minecraft in laptop. You watched a youtube video to self learn how to change avatar in Roblox and changed it yourself. You are a big youtube channel watcher and want to be a youtuber when you grow up!

We don’t have any gaming console at home yet. While you and Akka were talking about some game, you mentioned to her “We need playstation or Xbox for that Akka and we don’t have it. I know Amma will not let us buy it in a very very sad tone”! It sounded as if I denied your fundamental right!

You and me often say “We are nice people” and we do chores for Akka and Appa even when they are mean to us! When I raise my voice to Akka, you remind me promptly, Amma remember “We are nice people, just let her go Amma”!! or you say “She is paavaa ma, just let her do it!” (paavaa -> paavam -> poor girl)

Akka still is your ring master and she is too good at making you dance to all her tunes! She uses you as guinea pig to test all her AP psychology course learnings and its a pleasure to see you two bond over it.

Our recent favorite family online game is Skribbl. It took you two days to get us into the game and we are hooked on to it now that even a ten minute common break time is spent by playing Skribblo.

You have adapted very very well to online school system. You are a pro in handling laptop, switch between browser tabs, go on mute when needed, go on airplane mode when class is boring (rolls eyes) et all. Our homework sessions have got better. I measure your progress only with your own past.

You are a God sent gift to me. My life would have gone topsy curvy during this pandemic if you were not around. You make me look at life through different lens. If I make a list of “with whom did I talk the most during pandemic time?”, you will top my list hands down.

We went for birthday shopping last weekend and you behaved so mature in choosing clothes. You said “Amma, how does this shirt look? buy it only if you want to okay?” and I had to buy it! You and me teamed up to pack almost half of the store and Appa had to remind us that this is not the last time we are shopping for you 😁

You want a dog so badly and have already named it as “Treasure”. What a beautiful name!

I have to remember to kiss you 8 times while tucking you in from tonight!

Stay happy! Stay healthy and remember that we love you to bits kanna πŸ’• πŸ’•

This picture sums you up. One day when I was all worked up and walking around kitchen furiously you asked me do this to keep calm 😎

Love,
Amma

Let’s do this

I would have refreshed reader like 15 million times (LHB’s slang these days) today in the hope to see some new posts.

Then thought, what if others are also doing the same? So, decided to write a post πŸ™‚ Its my lame reason to connect with you all and justify this post πŸ™‚

Let’s just continue to write as long as the heart wants. who is game? You don’t have to write every day. Just write when you feel like it! ok?

I forgot to mention few more things in my previous post

I want to thank Tharani for introducing me to many things on the internet that stayed with me.

  • Intermittent fasting – I have been doing this for more than a year now. I do 14 hours on most days and go beyond on some days! This has helped me to maintain my weight! Added bonus is wrapping up Kitchen early!
  • OPOS cooking – Attalysis is the best technique. Now, I make roti’s at home and very happy with the results.
  • Luke Coutinho’s youtube channel – I love his videos and how he ends every video with a perfect message “Eat smart, move more, sleep right and breathe deep”. If only we follow this consistently!
  • Headspace Guide to Meditation Netflix show – In my watch list but I am pretty sure it will be good as its recommended by T.

On the last day of blogathon, I learned how to add emojis when you comment/write a blog post from laptop.

There are two ways:

  • Keyboard shortcut – For Mac it’s control + command + space, for Windows it’s window logo key + . (Thanks to Visha for sharing this shortcut πŸ’•)
  • Right click inside the comment box and you will see an option as “Emoji & Symbols” 😎 😎

Looking forward to the comments now 😁

Loss

Lost my father in law today. One of the very few that I respect very much. My pillar of support and strength in all possible ways he could. I have already written about him in this blog long back. On our way to India.

High school saga

Never conclude or make any decision about anything before you experience it first hand yourself. This is a lesson I learned recently.

We live in a highly competitive school district and until Adi started high school I was very confident that we have made the right decision about moving to this district and I don’t have to worry a bit about my kid’s education as they will graduate from the best reputed school.

Everything was hunky dory till middle school but high school was very different. We were told its the initial shock and kids will settle down eventually. Honestly, until middle school I have hardly seen Adi sit and focus to study at home. I had never seen her fret over home work or tests. But, in high school her time to go to bed has delayed considerably due to homework, tests and she is waking up one hour earlier in the morning. It is a struggle to wake her every single morning and push her out the door by 6:50am. One of us also stay up with her and that disturbs our morning routine as well. The high school change has disturbed the schedule of everyone at the household. Even LHB’s bedtime gets delayed on some days and I feel very guilty when he yawns in the Karate class.

Its challenging for me too to pack her dabba. We were like zombies during the first month of school. We are yearning for a day to wake up late and weekends were looked upon with eager. So many weekends have gone by but we are still sleep deprived.

Now I wonder if it was a right decision made to move to this district. Some say this rigor will prepare them for college but I am not able to buy it. Should we really prepare the kids for four whole years? What will happen to the high school social/fun life for kids like Adi who take it so serious?

I am totally confused and clueless. I am not able to tell her to not worry about grades as GPA (average grade of all 4 years) plays vital role for college admission and at the same can’t stand to see the girl go through so much stress for 9th grade. May be some kids adapt to this well. I don’t want Adi to feel lesser or demotivated because of this change. Her mental health should be stable and I want her to enjoy high school life.

And if this is the case with Adi, our little happy boy LHB is starting first grade in this school district next year. I am sure he will be squeezed and chucked out in elementary itself. All I can say is the majority asian population in this neighborhood has slowly and steadily spoiled the education system in this district. It is probably time for the township to revisit teacher:student ratio and teaching methods.

May be I should rename the title as “High school rant”

The happy part of this post is I am done with my post for 5th Jan πŸ™‚

Happiness is

Seeing your idli batter rise up beautifully…

LHB and I mark the batter dabba to check and measure how much it rises after fermentation process.

I don’t know why we use permanent marker. Who cares? Those lines in the dabba reminds me of our experiment πŸ™‚

Green line – Right after I grind 4 cups of rice

From bottom :
1st black line – Right after I grind 6 cups of rice

2nd black line – This time 6 cups of rice gave me that much of batter (more than usual. I wonder how?). May be I finally got the right time and consistency! Phew!

3rd black line – After the batter fermented that too in overnight. Its a medical miracle you know! Usually it takes me more than 1 whole day to ferment.

I left it out for another half a day and that’s the top of the batter you see. Didn’t mark it though!

Ladies and gentlemen -This is true happiness. I can see those who grind idli batter at home nod their head heavily with me (especially those who live in cold weather)

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 7.48.25 PM.png

Happiness is

Seeing this as first thing in the morning. Prachee and my post next to each other as planned in WP reader πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜€ Do any of you guys see this too???

Miracle of miracles – Day 79/28

Few months ago, a miracle happened on a rainy morning. Adi missed her school bus, LHB left late than usual plus we had to drop Adi before dropping LHB at his school yet both of them made it to school on time and M got the train he was supposed to take. What do you call this as? Miracle of miracles? That is how I would call it.

As the four of us were leaving home me being me kept repeating that at least one of the two will end up getting a late pass today. We decided it to be the boy and headed towards Adi’s school. It was 8:15am when we were few blocks away from Adi’s school and the door closes at 8:20am for her. Just then, M asked me to take a right turn that takes us to the beginning of a shortcut to Adi’s school by walk. They both got down, began to walk run towards the school while I took a U-turn and headed towards LHB’s school.

We reached his school few nanoseconds before the door closes and he made it in. In the meanwhile, on the other side of this small town a father dropped his daughter at a safe distance from school ensuring she has enough time to make through the doors without getting late pass, turned around, ran back to the nearest bus stop, took the next bus to the train station and got into the train he planned to take.

An out of the blue sudden change of plan that worked out well for all of us. Otherwise, the routine would have been to drop Adi at her school, then LHB and then M at the train station. With this plan, only Adi would have made it on time.

I came back home, poured myself a hot chai and settled in the couch to start my day of working from home!

We did this just that one day, only one day when all our stars lined up in a perfect straight line!

Again, what do you call this as? Exactly! Miracle of miracles!!!

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 😎