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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day 31: Here comes 2014

What do I want out of 2014?

That it should be bigger, better, greener than 2013! Which is a tough task considering that I thought the last year was pretty cool ;). I know that a long list of resolutions never works, at least not for me, so I am setting myself just these 3 goals. Anything else achieved is just icing on the cake:

1. Find a way to get fit ! My struggle with exercise continues, now also compounded by the fact that my neck refuses to let me adopt most normal forms including even yoga that seems to aggravate my spondylosis.

2. Figure out a reminder system that works, and of course actually set up a schedule to trigger those reminders - I need this for everything from my home chores to my drinking water. As I mentioned to a friend recently, the only water drinking app that would work for me is one that would fill a glass every hour and hand it to me :P.

3. Move closer to providing my own vegetables, I would love to say 100% by the end of the year, but let me be realistic and say at least 50% :).

Happy 2014 Everyone!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Day 30: 2013 - My Personal Journey

I cannot wrap up my 2013 reminiscing without talking a bit about my journey over this year. I would in fact go so far as to say that I found myself this year :).. Which still makes me nowhere close to perfect, but just happier that I know the things I'm content with, and the things I would like to make better.

I KNOW that I want to get as close to self sustainability as possible where vegetables are concerned, but this involves a lot of better planning for my gardening so I have a long way to go.

I KNOW that I want to reduce processed food, but this means that I need to plan and make items like my own bread a lot more often, which is the point that I'm usually struck by lethargy :P.

I KNOW a lot of my shortcomings in dealing with the children, but knowing is nowhere close to getting over them :(. Taking baby steps and reminding myself every time I stumble, and hopefully I'll get there.

I KNOW that the only kind of work-life that I would consider is one that I can do predominantly from home, and that would have flexible timings. Asking for a bit much? Maybe, but it has helped me discover that I could do something that I enjoy and that is relatively stress-free, such as writing, even if I'm not reconciled completely to the money I earn out of it yet ;).  It helps that I have a wonderfully supportive hubby who takes the stress of being the main earning member on his shoulders, and makes it much easier for my peace of mind.

In that context, I also KNOW that I should explore more work options based on the needs stated above, probably something that makes use of my previous work experience, though I find that it's tough to get over my diffidence in exploring something new.

I KNOW that you can make lovely friendships through the most unexpected mediums, and Facebook has played a big part in meeting like-minded people, both in gardening and in just "being myself". Even if I decide to limit my time on social media, I'm definitely going to stay in touch with a lot of these wonderful folks.

Some more reminiscing and resolutions on my wishlist for 2014, coming up as my last post for the year :).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 29: More About the Year Gone By

2013 has been the year of changes where S was concerned as well. It's his last academic year at our beloved Montessori school before he moves to a "big" school in 2014. Hopefully the same one that D goes to, fingers crossed and waiting for the admission to go through. And noone else is allowed to say "He's a sibling, he'll DEFINITELY get in" to me :P.

Where health is concerned, I felt he had made big improvements in his allergies, mainly thanks to homeopathy, but the end of the year has not been as good. The really extra cold winter of Bengaluru has left him battling a couple of infections at which point I do tend to move to conventional allopathic meds, simply because they give comfort from the symptoms so much more easily. We will keep on with the resistance building homeo meds, and hope the next year is kinder and leaves him much stronger at the end of it :).

Personality.. hmm that's a tough one to assess in his case. Not so much of an open book or rather not as naive as D, that's my impression as of now. A lot of stubbornness has been thrown into the mix, and he's finding that his charm is not going to let him get away with all kinds of behaviour any more ;). The good part is that he can get into the middle of any conversation, and make himself at home, which I hope will serve him well in life. We are calling him the sales guy of the family, taking after my bro-in-law in the previous generation ;).

Here's to my little fella who's not so little any more, who came out into the world earlier than we expected, and still keeps surprising us with his mischief and equally with his wholehearted shows of affection, wish you a lovely 2014 and every year to come! And wishing me a bit more patience in the bargain as well ;).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Day 28: It's time for Bye Bye 2013

It's time to say goodbye already.. the year has gone by so quickly.. these are thoughts that I seem to have at the end of nearly every year now .. :). I guess it has to do with every day going by in a flash, the kids looking taller and acting older ... I felt I should write down my thoughts on how each of us has changed in the last year.. let me start with D.

For Damita, 2013 has been the year she has started becoming a young lady. She is 8 and a half at the end of the year, and has many strong views and insights, many of which I stop to wonder they came from. It's a lot of fun to play the guessing game to try to understand where she might have got some idea from or what runs through her head. Much to my delight, she has developed an interest in food, and believe me this was a big change from the fussy eater of even 2 years ago. She plays the keyboard beautifully, when she actually puts her mind to it :). In a lot of small ways, I see her personality beginning to develop. Her self-confidence has grown since she started school and now she can hold her own more easily than I remember her doing before. At this point, she loves to fight with S, disagreeing on just about everything though he also has a hand in these situations ;).

She has always been interested in reading, but this year she has turned into a voracious reader, with everything else getting ignored when there's an interesting book in hand. The irony is that I can hardly wholeheartedly tell her not to or to prioritize her other stuff, as she reminds me of what I was like at her age ;). I must admit though, that I think she's probably a bit ahead of me at the level of reading at the same age if it comes down to a comparion :P, a happy admission for a mom to make I guess.

In my hope that she should always feel like coming and telling me what's up - the good and the bad - I try my best to listen to her whether she's talking about a storyline in the Geronimo Stilton book or a fight she had with a friend at school. I personally don't think it is possible to completely be a friend to your child, but it surely has to be part of the "parent package" :).

Welcome 2014 my lovely daughter, to a lot more learning, a lot more books, and TONS of happiness in it for you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 27: Bittersweet

To a reading crazy mom like me, this was the word that came to mind today.

We took a Just Books membership a little more than a year back, once I realized that buying books is no longer an option for D, as she kept going through them before my back is turned :). Since S was still not as much of a reader, this meant that I could indulge my enthusiasm once in a while and pick up the latest bestseller for myself as a part of the 4 books package that we had signed up for.

Over the last few weeks, S has developed a renewed interest in reading and I saw him devouring one book after the other at home with a sigh in the back of my mind. Why a sigh? I know the signs, and this meant that when I walked into Just Books for our next set of books, I could mostly no longer pick one for myself :P. 

As of now I pick the books, so I'm going to see if Enid Blyton retains some charm before he shifts to Just William ;).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Day 25: A lovely Christmas breakfast

Those who know me well know how much I hate spending time in the kitchen, and it's only for some unusual days or recipes that I would willingly spend most of my morning there ;). Christmas is of course one of those days and I decided that I had to make Appam and Stew for breakfast, as this is something I don't try too often. I have used the ready-mixes once in a while, but somehow was always a bit hesitant to try the "from scratch" deal. Mom-in-law did give me the recipe for the Thattai-appam but said it would be slightly different for the typical palappam, which she doesn't make much.

Response from S on hearing what I was making - 'I never knew that you knew to make Appam!"

Enter a friend whom I originally met through gardening, but with whom I've had a lot of diverse discussions since then and her lovely cooking blog called Enriching your Kid. I was chatting with her a couple of days ago, and she mentioned that she had a palappam recipe on it, so I immediately went and found it and decided to try it out :).

This was the outcome, the recipe for the Stew was also from her blog:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 24: Can I Earn some Money?

D's school does not allow any cash transactions for their tuck shop or canteen, and as she pretty much doesn't go anywhere else without me, pocket money has not been a much raised concern at home. We also put it off for later, thinking that we would use it more to teach the concept of money than anything else.

Much to my surprise, this was our conversation yesterday:

D: Amma, I want to earn my money. Give me something to do!
Me: Huh, but why, what happened suddenly? Do you want to buy something?
D: I don't know all that Amma! Just tell me something to do!
Me: (Thinking aloud) Hmmm.. maybe you can fill a bottle of water for 5 rupees.
D: That's too much Amma! I'll do it for Rs. 2!

LOL, that's the cutest thing I ever heard. She has "earned" her first 10 bucks by now, all of which will be aggregated to finally buy a book I'm guessing. Thinking of more monetizing schemes to keep her occupied now, and here's my chance to buy a cute piggy bank as well :).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 23: The Secret Santa Game!

Those who read my posts would know that I have quite fallen by the wayside with no posts for nearly a week.. well I'm blaming it on the frenzy of playing Secret Santa in the Marathon Bloggers group ;).
I was introduced to this fun concept just last year through the group and this year too, Monika very sweetly coordinated the process as Head Santa and enabled us to have a lot of fun all over again :).

I was not very clear with my wishlist, simply because I wanted to be surprised :). With a general request for books, I was thrilled to receive one that I would definitely have bought and read soon, and another one that I can't wait to be introduced to! And the fun of opening a present - that definitely does not seem to happen too often nowadays so I enjoyed every bit of it ;).

I still don't know who my Secret Santa is, but I have an inkling it's someone from Mumbai.. waiting for the process to completely unwind and everyone to receive their gifts, before figuring it out and thanking my SS personally :).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

For Day 17: Theme time again!

And one day he just willed himself to leave the bloody world behind. They said he died because they wouldn't accept him for who he was. But was it as simple as that? Could "they" ever understand the agony of being trapped in a body that he knew he didn't belong in.. Fighting the battle of living his stand in dignity and slowly but surely giving up the futile attempts at trying to make people understand... Only he knew that it was not he who died but she.

My 2nd attempt at Fiction on this blog, written for Themed Tuesday of the Marathon Bloggers December blogging challenge for the theme "They said he died because they wouldn't accept him for who he was.."

For Day 16: Tis the season ... :)

We have had a tradition of spending Christmas at my parents-in-law's place in Chennai, but somehow in the last couple of years it has not worked out that way. Last year, we had an engagement to attend in Kerala, and this year due to a shorter holiday for D, and hubby traveling as well, it seems like we'll be in chilly Bangalore for the festive season.

Well, whether we are here or not, 2 items that are a must-have in this season are up and shining away now, so it feels a bit like Christmas here already :).

The kids of course had great fun helping me decorate the tree, which has some handmade ornaments from the kids, some from a secret santa exercise I took part in last year on my bloggers group and one special handmade copper wire one from my aunt as well :).

For Day 15: I know what you did last weekend :)

The group of very smart waitresses in Cinderella - ballet production by Yana Lewis Dance Academy on 14th and 15th of December.

Monday, December 16, 2013

For Day 14: Make-up 101

I have always been a low to no make-up kinda person, it took me a while to realize this though, so there has been a point when I realized I had about 10 odd shades of lipstick I hadn't used in years and finally threw out!

So when I was faced with some elaborate make-up demands for D's ballet program this weekend I decided I would start preparing a bit early :). While on our Dubai vacation, I suddenly walked into a MAC store and bought some pink blush and eyeshadow much to hubby's alarm, until I explained what it was for ;). Just this week I realized that I would need pink lipstick as well, so went and picked up a lipgloss - oh well maybe I'll try to use it occasionally so that it doesn't go completely wasted other than for a day.

Wish me luck, I have no clue how to draw an unshaky line of eyeliner both above and below her eyes !!!
Update: The eyeliner got better on the 2nd day, even got a compliment from D ;).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 13: Laughter is the best medicine

Today is themed post day again :)..

Laughter.. hmm somehow today the first thing that came to mind on seeing this quote was Suppandi.. such a favourite in our childhood days.. it was so much easier to appreciate humour then, without thinking about all the extrapolated aspects! This is mainly to do with all the name calling that seems to abound in this cartoon - words like idiot, fool and stupid are used in nearly every strip !! Well, I remind myself that I read it when I was young and it didn't really prompt me to start calling people names :P.. but still I can't help but mention it to D once in a while. I would never discourage her from reading it however (much like the fairy tale exposure that many parents seem to over-think nowadays), as I believe we need to keep our eyes and ears open to all inputs, and learn to take in what enriches us while disregarding the rest. Uff, too much funda for Suppandi I know ;).. so go read this now:

Day 12: No one ever tells you..

When you have kids, no one ever tells you that you will be under intense scrutiny in the time you spend around them. While this was nice when they were younger, when anything Amma wears is beautiful and they think Amma always "looks nice", I find that things are changing as they grow up to have a very clear mind of their own. Reactions to my latest haircut for example:

From D, who has very serious views of growing her own hair at the moment:
Amma! Why did you cut your hair? You don't look nice! :P
How the mighty have fallen...

From S, who's very observant:
What .. Amma! You cut your hair eh? I was wondering if you had tied it up in a ponytail but now I realized it's cut!

And on trying out the new lipgloss that I had picked up for use for D's ballet program:
Amma! You're wearing lipstick?
As you can make out, this is an unusual event ;)

First try at a "selfie" :)
This post is part of the December blogging challenge #MB2013 from Marathon Bloggers.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 11: Found some pics

I was hoping to write a post last night, but I got super sleepy and completely forgot :(.. Found some of the Dubai pics on my hubby's phone, so these will have to do as a catching up post!

Decided to embrace the "windblown" look ;).. Loved the angle on this one - At the Top of Burj Khalifa

Nice one of me and D with the Burj Al Arab in the background... and date tree framing the pic in full tourist shtyle

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Day 10: He grit his teeth and bore the pain…

He knew it would only be a few more minutes and he just had to hold on to the pain until then.. a few more steps.. nearer.. nearer... and at last he saw it.. the finish line of his first ever Marathon. He crossed it and at last vocalized the pain.. which was now also a huge gasp of victory... and plonked down on the nearby patch of grass to soothe his aching feet.

For the themed post of #MB2013 December blogging with Marathon Bloggers. My friends who are runners, pardon me if it is factually incorrect, it was the only scenario that came to my mind :). 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Day 9: Just calling to remind you...

After getting the umpteenth reminder on my phone for something or the other, I was struck by how much my attitude has changed towards these. There was a time when I used to think "Why on earth do you think I need to be reminded to get my chimney cleaned?!".. but now in the midst of hectic schedules and a worsening memory (:P) I actually have started appreciating them. Here are some interesting interactions I have had:

  • The aforesaid chimney cleaning service centre which is one from Faber keep calling me literally every 2 weeks. The service person who used to work with them and had been coming to my place for years, started his own service centre so I started telling the caller "Please take my name off your reminder list, I don't need this any more." Polite, slightly irritated and even very angry responses later, I am still getting calls :). Funny end result, I couldn't contact my regular guy for a couple of months and ended up getting help from them again in a crisis situation.
  • Car service center - they remind that service is due, send someone to pick up and drop, I've literally never visited the place ;). I was most impressed especially when for the free service they provided all these conveniences and charged me Rs. 0 !!
  • Tank cleaning - yes I got it done through this very professional agency called Shudhi services, and was most surprised to get a reminder call from them after 6 months!
  • Pest control - The erstwhile Godrej Hi-Care who are now ISS Hi-Care are very diligent with their reminders, so much so that I renewed my contract with them after a 5 year gap simply because they kept in touch.
Other than these of course there are the usual insurance and other payment reminders by post, but the danger in depending on these is that they do occasionally get missed out and then you might be left with a delayed payment :(. The best way to handle most regular payments especially time bound ones like electricity, water is to get them on ECS, really reduces a lot of stress.

Getting back up to speed and posting on time for the Marathon Bloggers December Challenge #MB2013 :)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Day 8: Saturday Part II - Christmas program

The same day was also the Sunday School Christmas program with both D and S being a part of it. The run up to it included regular practices managed by the very dedicated team who manages the Sunday School at church. D even sang a couple of lines of solo much to my delight, especially when I learnt later that she had actually volunteered to be tested for it :). Believe me, this was a big difference from even a year back, so the new confidence was lovely to see!

S in the left corner, can you spot him?

All posts in December are part of the Marathon Blogging challenge #MB2013, a repeat of what we did last year.

An event filled Saturday - Part I

December has been a month filled with activities and hectic weekends, and a couple of them culminated today (Dec 7). The first was a Science and Arts exhibition at D's school that I thought was very well thought out and well organized as well. It wasn't just children displaying their projects but had so many facets to it. They had sold coupons in advance, which could be used to play games in the different subjects. The first one I attempted was this veggie identification game :). Can you identify them all, I did ;) ?

A small canteen was run by the kids as well, with us first needing to exchange money for paper notes that were photocopied actual notes cut out to shape .. and the kids had to handle the calculations and change etc. I was so impressed by this concept, I think many of us can use it at home to get the children to understand both math and money concepts!! I'm definitely going to :).

Oh yes, I am running late on my marathon, so the day's events have been divided into 2 parts ;).

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Day 6: Everytime I get angry I...

Take a deep breath... or at least try to ;) !

It was Themed post day again yesterday (Dec 5), and though I missed it as I was hardly at home I had these thoughts bouncing around in my head all day.. let's see if I can make sense out of it all ...

Anger is something I have lived with for much of my life.. recognizing quite early that I was what is called "short-tempered". Though I also learnt early on how to put a lid on it for most purposes, I could never ever master it and it manifested in different ways including quite a tempestuous teenage. I think it always happens that it is those you are closest with that you display your anger on, at least this is how it has always been in my case. This is probably because I know the strength of the relationship I have with this person, and some outbursts along the way are always going to be worked out later.

Once I had kids, I found though that it was just too easy to blow that occasional fuse when they tried my patience. I have questioned myself (A LOT) as to why this was the case, when most adults who know me would probably term me to be quite even-tempered. Maybe it is to do with the strong bond or the fact they NEVER hold it against you and are so loving and affectionate within a few minutes of being scolded, but whatever it was I did not like feeling that way and really needed to change something.

Around this time I came across the Orange Rhino website, which I have mentioned earlier on this blog as I actually took up the challenge mentioned there of going without yelling for a week (to begin with). Yelling of course is subjective and you can choose the index you consider normal, which made sense to me because I believe kids do need to be taught about right and wrong and correcting or disciplining in some situations doesn't constitute being out of control. To me, being out of control was not just a mental feeling but physical as well - feeling breathless, having palpitations, mouth going dry - this level was what I most wanted to avoid. But no, I fell by the wayside within 3 days and wondered if I would ever get there. Since then, I have consciously begun my own version of the challenge, which means trying to control outbursts but also introspecting a lot more when they do happen. I recognize that it is mostly a result of my impatience or expectation, and definitely hardly ever 100% to do with the kids. For example, most morning outbursts can be controlled simply by waking up half an hour earlier and having extra breathing space, but I am oh so NOT a morning person :P.

A friend who was introduced to the Orange Rhino through my  FB timeline took up the challenge around the same time and did a much better job at it ;). You can read her posts here - I found these very introspective and useful too and especially loved the candidness with which she described her thoughts and behaviour.

I would say I am probably 50-60% of the way, and personally I have found humour to work the best in a situation that threatens to become explosive - I cool down trying to find funny words, the kids laugh and calm down and sometimes forget what they were being stubborn about, and of course are most relieved that I have cooled down ;). Leading to exclamations from D "Amma, you are so funny when you are angry!"

About dealing with adults who try my patience, I find that as I grow older, many things don't feel as important as they did to a younger me, and not worth getting angry about :). I have also learnt to back down and out of battles when I feel the familiar anger rising during an interaction, especially when I know that convincing the other person of my point of view is not worth it. This approach, for example, has made me a much more peaceful driver on Bengaluru roads ;).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Day 5: Back to baking

My Day 4 post for the Marathon on my Citizen Matters blog here:

And on to Day 5 :). I didn't have much to write about, and then realized I had a couple of photos that I hadn't yet uploaded or shared so those it will have to be.

Baking is a favourite activity of mine, but I go through these major ups and downs of having days of crazy baking, or a complete lull. To break the monotony and also get tips from an expert, I decided to go for a baking workshop with Nandita Iyer of Saffron Trail at her lovely home in Whitefield. Getting a peek at her amazing terrace garden was an added bonus ;)

As expected it was great fun, and to keep the momentum going I got back and tried the cinnamon rolls right on the next day :).

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

She had always wanted a daughter but now...

When she had gone through hours of labour with all those Lamaze techniques and finally went through a C-Section (much to her relief!), the first sound she remembered after coming back to the hospital room was this tiny little creature screaming her lungs out. And her first thoughts "They can be so loud?!" "Is something wrong?" "What should I do now?"...

Hahaha I will always have vivid memories of that first year.. the sleepless nights as my little baby for some reason seemed to not want to go to sleep.. trying to think up new and effective lullabies.. passing the breastfeeding phase to find it was going to be a challenge to get her to eat solids as well... Phew!

And just as quickly, at 8 months she started sleeping through the night (it was still a challenge to actually put her to sleep, but still 7 hours of PEACE after that!).. got her first tooth.. got toilet trained super fast.. and started walking a couple of months after her first birthday.

Oh yes, the memories of those labour pains fade and whatever craziness you go through in those early months, there are just so many "Awww" moments that it absolutely fools you into wanting to have a second one ;)...

That bawling bundle now wakes up at 6 am with hardly a fuss, gets ready to leave for school by 6:45.. does most of her homework on her own... reads at least a book a day... loves to draw.. loves to write... where did the years fly my baby?

Why I missed Day 2!

As my Dec 1st post came out of my drafts, oh well who am I kidding it was pretty much fully written and I was just hesitating to post it, I forgot to mention that I have taken up a marathon blogging challenge once again for this December. And I missed day 2?! That was much earlier than I expected :(. So here's why..

My little fella has been showing a good improvement in resistance and has been battling his allergies much better than before. All I had to do was think about it to myself of course, and WHAM he's down with a bad attack of congestion followed quickly by fever. He's always a bit of a charmer and though I know that his actual discomfort is also accompanied by a whole lot of dramatics, but still when he starts screwing up his face my heart melts. Didn't feel like writing anything much, so gave it a miss yesterday. And though he's been not feeling too great, the diplomacy is all intact ;).

Me: Where do you want to eat lunch S, with me or with Paati? (My parents stay downstairs and he eats lunch with them on weekends)
S: (in a verrry subdued voice) Whatever you say..
Me: Quickly realizing he's trying to not "hurt" me, but keeping options open as he can watch some TV when downstairs which I wouldn't put on here ;). LOL! Took pity on him and sent him down to eat.

On to today's themed post next :).

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Why target the princesses?

Most of you who have read my blog regularly know that I don't write here much about my strong opinions, mostly only about things that have happened and memories I would like to keep. But there's something that has slowly been getting under my skin in the last few weeks, and I felt it's relevant for me to put it down in this space. Read on, you've been warned ;).

A popular video by GoldieBlox talking about toys for girls was doing the rounds.

While I thought the video was pretty awesome and provides a great option for toys for girls (not boys?), I felt a wee bit irritated that they had to incorporate the part targeting the princess loving kids in the video. Why not consider the princessy items as just another option in the market and let them be too. You can take over the market because you are unique, not necessarily by discouraging something else. Somehow it seemed to me that the upbeat aspect of the ad got a wee bit tarnished by the negativity.

From personal experience I've found that even though dolls or Barbies have never been particularly encouraged at home but D has lately gravitated to playing dress-up Barbie games on the computer, and says she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up (Must admit, that's also due to my watching Project Runway :P). It probably has to do with peer interests and examples, but is it necessary that I discourage this enthusiasm, just because "Oh princesses are so passe!". Why not just let her be, let her explore other options as well, and pick what SHE wants and likes in the end. I'm pretty sure she's not going to want to be a "princess" though I hope she always feel as special as one.
Afterthought Note: I do understand that the advertisement is not against the princess-kids but against the inundation of princess-products and their advertising, but I still feel it could be done without that aspect.
Note 2: I ensure that my daughter understands that most dolls, much like folks in movies or cartoons, are no indication of what people look like in real life.

I come across this negativity in many an argument nowadays - For me to be right, you have to be resoundingly wrong! To prove my worth as a SAHM, I have to bring down working moms - and it's absolutely vice-versa as well - so many working moms condescend and talk down to SAHMs.

Why not just live and let live? As long as a person is content and happy in the space they have chosen, I say Kudos to them and their choices! I am lucky to have family and friends who have hardly ever questioned my choices, and I hope to inculcate the same non-judgmental outlook in my kids as they grow up as well, so wish me luck :).