2022 garden updates

2022 garden progress was satisfactory. For me personally, it exceeded my expectations. M transformed into a serious gardener, he built two beds all by himself and planted season vegetables – tomato, green chilies, eggplant, snake gourd, white pumpkin, dosakkai, cucumber, long beans, ladies’ finger and some greens. We had very decent harvest. M’s goal was to harvest enough tomatoes, green chilies to last for few months and more importantly to grow white pumpkin to use on Ammavasai days to prepare pumpkin sambar and offer to my in-laws.

We had only one pumpkin and that was big enough to last for following 12 months 🙂 We cut it into pieces and stored as 12 portions to pull out one bag every month on Ammavasai day. Tomatoes and green chilies were duly frozen, and I still have stash to last for few more months 🙂 It’s a different level of feeling to use home grown veggies.

I personally enjoyed snake gourd as its my favorite kootu vegetable made with boiled channal dal. This year, we added two banana plants (received as gift from a relative family residing in North Carolina when we visited them), moringa plant and a bunch of greens. Most of them have been moved indoors along with the hibiscus plants.

I have to give credit to my neighbor as she was “garden-sitting” when we were out for 3 weeks on Europe trip. She visited our garden every day and harvested all veggies to save them for us! She is a blessing to me in many ways! To make her job easy, we installed drip irrigation for all pots on the deck and setup sprinklers for the bed. The drip irrigation needs lots of patience, multiple trials and some technical knowledge to get it to functional state. We installed timer to water the pots three times a day!

M became a pro gardener by end of the season 🙂 I can’t wait to see his plans for this year. I have decided to take the assistant spot and allow him to lead when it comes to gardening and oh boy I am super happy about it 🙂

Our garden update in a video:

We have named the single petal red colored hibiscus as “Redda” and even in winter he blooms flowers. This is him last week on the day of my father in law’s death anniversary day!

Do you see all the buds? Redda is our way of remembering my father-in-law as he used to grow multiple varieties and colors of hibiscus plants! This is his 4th year with us 🙂



Sharing an incident that flashes on my mind frequently and puts me into perspective when things don’t go so well!

The day before M was about to board flight at India. As usual, Amma was busy packing masala powders, homemade sweets and many more items for us. M visited my parents’ home to finalize the bags. While he was rearranging some of the items and checking bags weight, Amma was sitting in a plastic chair and watching him. I called her at the usual daily call time and she reached out to the phone by taking support from one arm of the chair. That moment the chair’s leg broke and she fell backwards. As she fell, her head hit the tip of the door and she got a long deep cut in her head.

M told me later that blood was gushing out in full pressure; he immediately took a bedsheet nearby and pressed hard on her head to control the blood loss. By that time, his face, shirt and half of the floor was full of blood. He helped her to get up, sit on a chair and put her head down while holding the bed sheet. Then, neighbors came and took her to the hospital. She had stitches and took few months to recover!

Appa was just frozen not knowing what to do! It was heartbreaking to see her with bandage in a video call the next day! We can’t imagine Amma’s state if M did not act quick to save further blood loss! I am indebted to him forever! Just thinking about other possible outcomes of this incident gives me jitters and puts me into perspective!

I can handle anything but family’s sickness or health situation! I have been tested enough in 2022 with Amma’s incident, M’s multiple incidents of oil burn, twisted ankle. These incidents drain all my energy while I continue to function as usual!

Akka Update:
Akka is coming home in 12 days to celebrate her pampered little brother also called as her “legal child’s” first 2-digit birthday! It will be a very short stay! She asked me to make Sambar on the day she is arriving! I have cleared up my calendar for those two days! All I am thinking now is how should I receive her? Should I run and hug her tight or just wait at the kitchen table that will be filled with her favorites? This weekend I missed her a lot! I felt so bored and down! Couldn’t identify why but I felt restless for most part of the day!

Challenges Overloaded

As years pass by, I am only challenged more and more and I love how these challenges help me to discover my abilities.

2020, 2021, 2022 – All these recent years saw me single handling family’s daily needs for extended periods. I never thought I am capable of it, but multiple situations proved me wrong.

2020 Feb – M travelled to India for a month for my father-in-law’s first anniversary. Thankfully he returned just few days before pandemic lockdown was announced. Kids and I got terribly sick during this time and this is the first time we stayed alone in current home.

2021 May – M had a surgery and had to be on complete rest for more than a month.

2021 August – M travelled to India for 5 weeks to take care of my mother-in-law.

2021 October – M travelled to India for 4 weeks as my mother-in-law passed away.

2022 September – M travelled to India for mother in law’s first anniversary.

2022 November – M had an accident of second degree burn from hot oil in his right hand and just days after this accident he fell down at backyard and twisted his ankle. He had to be on complete rest for next 1.5 months. During this time, I also managed to do all diwali sweets and savories by myself with no help and make 16 and more bags to share with friends and family.

I made asoka halwa, ribbon pakoda, murukku and masala peanuts (non-stop work in kitchen for 3 days with batches of snacks making and washing dishes). Adi made her staple milk peda which was a breather!

This was the first year we were celebrating Diwali after a long break of four years so I wanted to share homemade bakshanams with neighbors and friends. M was knocked out with oil burn while making very first batch of murukku and I didn’t have the heart to call off the plan though I was fully aware to not get any support!

Being a single functioning adult in the home means

  • waking up early
  • sending kids off to school (going to bus stop for drop off and pickup)
  • cooking
  • washing dishes
  • cleaning
  • washing/drying/sorting clothes
  • garbage disposal
  • recycle disposal
  • homework help for kids
  • all classes drop off/pickup for kids
  • school pickup
  • fulltime demanding work with back to back calls
  • grocery store run
  • costco store run
  • And the list goes on…

It’s exhausting and I pulled it through over and over again and to be honest this boosted my confidence! If I can pull this off with sanity, I can achieve anything in life!

Navarasa Day 01-18-2023

It started as a normal day but thinking now about the way it unfolded is very interesting.

5:30am – Woke up early as it was office day for me. I prepare the shower to find there is no hot water flow! We kind of expected it as water flow was warm for past few days but today morning hot water flow totally stopped!! I just refreshed quick and left to office as I organized a work lunch meet with senior leaders and juniors that day that I cannot miss.

7:30am – I get text from M. He was upset with the situation. He took that frustration on me and I felt helpless being away from home. This kind of put my mind to a restless state as I can’t get back home for another 12 hours!

8:45am – I reach office and go about my day. I did not have the right mindset but still went ahead with work demands and meetings.

12pm – Lunch meet at a local restaurant (this went very well but my mind was still racing and all I wanted was to just go back home)

2pm – Continued with back to back meetings and accelerated work

3:30pm – Wrapped up work! I was targeting to get the first return bus back home so rushed out of work in a hurry burry mode with a still restless mind!

4pm – Reached the bus stop and picked up my bluetooth to make a phone call while waiting for bus! Surpriseeeee the two ear pods inside the case were missing. Case was empty!!! Replaying the day reminded me of dropping the case at my desk. Apparently the pods got scattered when the case dropped to floor and I just picked up the case assuming the pods are inside the case! I didn’t care to open the case to check if pods were inside! Remember the hurry burry to get back home and restless mind!!!

4:02pm – I messaged a co worker who was still at work to check around my seat and after few minutes of search he found the ear pieces on the floor. Coordinated with him to find another colleague who lives about 40 minutes away from my home and asked the coworker to send the ear pieces with this person! Plan was to collect it later in the day. Other option was to go back to office, collect the ear pieces and take a later bus. I didn’t want to do it as M was already upset and was expecting plumber in the evening. I had to go home and release him from LHB’s evening duties. LHB had a soccer team tryout session that he was so looking forward to!

4:04pm – Boarded bus. Usually I take a nap in hour long bus ride but today I couldn’t. My eyes were burning to shut down but I just couldn’t rest!

5:20pm – Reached home and LHB was waiting outside ready for me to take him to his soccer tryout session. It was a touch and go, I just switched car and took him for the session.

7:10pm – The session was over. It was a good drill for the kids and parents almost froze to death waiting outside in the soccer field in this cold weather. My fingers turned blue and feet was numb by the time the session was over! Imagine my state standing in this cold weather for 1.5 hours watching LHB’s drill after my long day at work! LHB was super nervous about this tryout and gave his best. Team selection results will be out in next few weeks.

7:15pm – LHB and I returned to car. It felt being in heaven to sit inside the car with heat turned on. I turned on heat on my seats too 🙂 We ate quick bites of some food/snacks I bought from work and started the drive to this coworker’s home

8pm – Arrived coworker’s home and collected the ear pieces. A big sigh of relief. I have written about my ear buds here

8:45pm – Arrive home and the plumber was almost wrapping up work! Thankfully he fixed the water heater.

9:30pm – Hot water flow resumed and so was my state of mind! M came to normal mode too as it was all taken care of!

10:30pm – Took nice hot shower

11pm – I wanted to write about the day but eyes were begging to sleep so resorted to WW diwali sweets picture post

11:30pm – Went to sleep!!!

When I woke up in the morning, I had no clue about the way this day will unfold, misplacing ear buds added more drama and overall it was a day filled with mixed navarasa moments of love, laughter, sorrow, anger, courage, fear, disgust, surprise and peace all on a single day!

What matters is the day ended with peace. Peace out people ☮️ ✌️

Remembering my FIL

Today is my FIL’s 4th year death anniversary. This will be another keeper post every year in blogathon. I spent some time today in recollecting memories about him and I still haven’t come across a person who can inspire me more than him! He has inspired me with his kind thoughtful actions and has major influence on my personal growth to be a better person. I am proud to say that I follow some of his principles.

Biggest lesson I learned from him is to not to hold on to ego and be available to those who need you. He has supported me with grace at crucial times of my life. He will wake up before 6am, take shower, wash/dry his clothes, pray and be ready and available to take over my kids when we wake up. It was Adi until she was 2.5 years old and the same history repeated 8 years later with LHB when I lived with my in laws for 4 short months. LHB was 6 months old and my FIL learned to change diapers at that time.

At that time, we didn’t have house help to wash/dry clothes. So, the arrangement was I will start the washer before heading out to work and he will dry them by carrying buckets of wet clothes to terrace and hang them there. He will also bring them down once dried and keep in my room! This is such a relief for me. He clearly doesn’t have to do it, but he did, and this is the reason he stands out for me!

He is a man of very few words but good at observing the needs and offer help! He is approachable and makes us feel comfortable to ask for help! You know what I mean? We cannot ask help to anyone just like that but to him you can ask and be rest assured that he will do it that too just the way you want it to be done!

I have tagged all posts about him here – https://anisnest.wordpress.com/2022/01/19/remembering-fil-01-19-2022/

I made rava kesari and vada today evening. We offered them to him and prayed!

Lunch dabba saga

One of the things that made me feel more peaceful when I dropped off Adi was my accomplishment of packing dabba for her for past 14 years. She started daycare at 2.5 years old in this country and the daycare didn’t allow home packed food. It was convenient for me as I was just learning the ropes of parenthood in a foreign country while working fulltime.

She moved to a private school for Kindergarten and the dabba packing saga started. School offered lunch but I jumped into packing dabba as by then I have become a seasoned hyper mother who wants to do it all for her child!! There was nothing else better to do in those days 😁

Every night we will discuss the menu and rain or shine I have to pack that the next day. If not, I am answerable that evening as why did the menu change? She is not very good at handling surprise. This was the case until she moved out 😁 She needs to know the menu for next day or rather I prefer to validate the menu with her and enjoy the meal planning talk every night!

The saga continues for LHB. He is the opposite though as he needs surprise when he opens the dabba. He told me specifically to not discuss the menu!

Knock on wood, he polishes off the dabba. I usually pack 3 portions for him in bento box – An entrée, a vegetable serving and a fruit serving. Vegetable serving is usually chinese stir fry with mixed veggies or just brocolli. Fruit serving is either apple slices or orange wedges or grapes. So far going good and I hope to continue with this as long as possible!

Day – 4 parts

It’s interesting how some conversations or talks stay with us for rest of our life! I heard a talk at an event in 2018 and the concept shared in this talk was one such! I thought more about it in coming years and slowly adapted myself to this concept!

Concept is to divide your day into 4 parts. Spend one of that part to do what you love; it can be anything from which you gain energy and spend the other three parts to do all other things where you have to spend energy. It’s the same concept of “fill your own bucket” so you can “fill other’s bucket”.

Identifying the tasks/chores you do on daily basis as energy source/spend will help to maintain our sanity. You won’t mind spending the energy as you are aware of the space to go to draw energy. Most times our sanity gets tested when we look to draw energy from the wrong space! When you give energy, give it whole heartedly not bothering about the beneficiary! This also helps to have less expectation on the energy spend space that puts mind to peace!

It’s all easier said than done but trust me practicing this has given me many benefits over past few years. I don’t snap as much as I used to few years back, I am getting better with respond vs react, I am becoming more mindful and aware of my thoughts, I am able to let go of many things, I am able to practice empathy, I am able to forgive and above all I am able to feel the calmness, peacefulness within inner self. I am able to identify myself with my behavior that reflects the values I believe in! The feeling of helplessness and being trapped in a situation have reduced by far!

Identify your true happy space and go to that space whenever you need energy, rejuvenate and get ready to spend that energy in an unconditional way!

Akka’s update:
Akka is getting busier day by day that means less time to talk to us! We couldn’t talk yesterday and had a warm video call tonight. She is exploring and finding her place in new setup. She is in good company. 18 more days to see her next!
P.S: Her roommate complimented my ribbon pakoda in today’s call and filled my bucket, talk about small joys 😊

New tradition

For mattu pongal, the tradition followed by my grandparents and parents are to cook nonveg dishes for dinner and offer it to our ancestors. Usually, at pooja room there will be a block of wood that is polished with turmeric and kumkum. This is called “Nadu veedu” (literal translation is center of the house). This wood block is worshiped as our ancestors. On mattu pongal day, they are worshiped and offered a lavished non veg platter.

I have not followed this tradition all this year and yesterday evening got the idea of starting it from this year as both of my in-laws passed away in past few years and this is a good way to worship them and get their blessings. My platter today had chicken pepper gravy, white rice, sweet paniyaaram (debut attempt), medu vada and boiled eggs. Hope to continue with this tradition!

LHB and I spent some quality time making one of the blocks and a STEM kit that he received as a gift. Trust me, the mini blocks took about 2 hours to complete. The boy gave up in the middle and I scratched my head to complete it! The STEM kit is an air purifier and we learned some science with it.

January long weekend also means pack up all Christmas decorations. We did that as well.

I am super happy because tomorrow is holiday, and I can sleep in 😁

Happy Pongal-Indian gum

அணைவருக்கும் இனிய பொங்கல் திருநாள் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

Happy pongal to all my lovely readers!

//Copying below from previous year’s pongal post. I will continue to copy this every year as every single word in this will hold true forever and ever

Pongal brings back so much of childhood memories. I am glad to have recorded it all in this blog

My paternal grandpa, my village, home full of elders, relatives visiting every other minute, coffee/tea boiling non stop, pongal cooking in front yard on new mud pot with turmeric plant wrapped around it, mango leaves thoranam, chithappas, periyappas, anna, akka, mama, maami.

Paal pongiyacha?? heard one thousand times in this day, endless eating of farm cut fresh sugarcane. I am glad to have experienced and lived a rich childhood.

Today, I made Sakkarai pongal, Broken wheat ven pongal, 7 kari kootu and Ulundu vadai. M bought sugarcane, the purple one. He sold it to LHB as “Indian gum” 😁 He gave him small pieces, asked to chew and spit the chakkai after the juice is done (typical gum right?) Parenthood also makes you creative 😀

Adi called us just in time to pray and joined us in video call for aarathi ❤️