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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dilemmas of an Imperfect Mom

With slowing down on my blogging in the latter part of the year, I suddenly realized I positively MUST sneak in a last one before the year ends :).

It seems nowadays that life is full of wishes like these. I:

- Hope that my 6 year old goes to sleep everyday by 8:30 pm, but that means I have to get dinner on the table by 7:30 at least (Which is seriously only possible about 50% of the time)

- Get exasperated because the kids don't tell me about their school homework on time, but hope to avoid checking their diaries every day - ONLY because they would never get independent, NOT because it's more work for me :P.

- Want to have healthy snacks available at home all the time, but that means I need to plan and make them ;). If anyone wants to supply some regularly, I'm open to the idea!

- Love the idea of elaborate and healthy breakfasts but I have a ton of excuses including (1) am too disorganized (2) hate to wake up early.

- Would LOVE to see the house spic and span but it feels like too much work to oversee someone doing the cleaning. End result: Do it myself? Hmmm, still tussling on this one.

- Want the kids to have opportunities to learn lots of skills before their school work gets too demanding, but find it positively painful to have to keep reminding them to practice :D. Plus some days the time taken to get them to their classes and back just gets to me.

- HATE to cook, but the kind of not-so-healthy meals turned out by a cook (not to mention the tension of coordinating with someone) are also a bit of a no-no.

- Want to set a good example to the kids where fitness is concerned, but find it challenging to stick to a schedule without getting distracted or bored along the way. Getting better at this, but still a long way to to.

Here's to more dilemmas in 2015, and hopefully solving a few of them as well :). In that context, If you, like me, have a strange sense of wanting to change "something", do try reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin - I don't read much non-fiction but this one just has me nodding along. Happy New Year to All!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What's my blog all about?

Realized with a start that it's been ages since my last post. While travelogues are fun to write, I now hope to try and reconnect to the essence of what my blog is about. It has seen glimpses of gardening, baking, and of course holiday posts in plenty because I believe these have been an integral part of my "Life as a Mom" :). But I also want to look back at posts in a few years and go "Awww!" like I do when I read some of the posts from when the kids are young.

It is not that children stop saying interesting things as they grow older, they just start taking it to a whole new level. In the tangles of trying to make sense of it all while trying to yell less (check out the if you missed my earlier posts on the subject), I have been missing out on noting down a lot of interesting situations. Here are some recent ones:

S has become the master of the "anticipatory bail" situation. He forgot one of the books for his holiday homework at school, and then after multiple times of my asking him if he's finished his homework comes to me with a woebegone face (as though he has just discovered this fact):

"I didn't bring my XXX Workbook!"

Me: I've been asking you about homework for the last 2 days, why are you telling me this just now?

S: "But Ma'am will scold me!" (Notice how my question is completely dodged, and by now he's most realistically teary eyed)

Me: The school has already sent a mail that everyone is now on holiday, I can't even go and get the book now. If you'd told me on the 1st day, we could have gone and picked it up. (The 1st day of holidays was an optional PTM).

S: "You call Ma'am right now and speak to her!"

Me: How can I do that? I don't have her number with me.

S: "But you call and speak to her right now!"
And so on...

I maintain that this whole convenience of leaving books at school and only bringing home what is necessary contributes to a lot of such situations and tension. Our backs used to bend with the weight of schoolbags, but we never forgot anything :P.

D was busy preparing for her Piano ABRSM Grade 1 exam for the last few months, and establishing a regular practice schedule took a lot of work. I'm not the most organized person myself so trying to inculcate this in another person felt like a bit of a lost cause! After tugs of war and many discussions, we somehow managed to establish a rhythm of everyday practice sessions. I know this is how every parent feels about their child, but I just have to marvel at how she picked up the finger-work for the keyboard/piano. I know it didn't come easy to her, she was not a "natural" at it, she had to work quite hard and practice these pieces over and over to reach this stage. But I can hardly remember the frustration and the arguments, when I listen to a passage that she didn't think she would "ever manage to learn" being played perfectly, and I have to watch and listen transfixed to my seat :). Now the exam's done and she can learn "for fun" for some time. The loudest "Phew!" is from me ;).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

S is for Seattle

We were warned about the rainy and changing weather in Seattle, but arrived to a wonderful bright and sunny day :). And that lasted for most of our stay, much to our delight!
Thanks to the constant precipitation, the greens are so "green" :)
Thanks to my cousin who lives there, and kindly spent so much of his time on us, we managed to take in a lot of the sights. We also stayed at his place in Redmond, and as he's a favourite with the kids they were quite thrilled as well. Here's some of the stuff we did:

Mount Rainier: After wondering the previous week if the weather would let us get to see the mountain up close, we managed to get the best view possible. The roads were clear because of the climate but the mountain was still covered in snow. The kids actually got to have their first "real" snow experience while dressed in summer clothing, I admit I was a wee bit jealous ;).

The Duck Tour: We had seen the duck tour vehicle that did the Duck Tour in San Francisco as well, but hadn't managed to take a ride there. Something that travels on land, as well as on water - I was just as thrilled by the experience as the kids were :). Add an entertaining driver to the mix, and it's definitely worth it.
Fascinated by the floating homes! 
The skyline from the water
Other City Sights: While the Space Needle is definitely "touristy", how could a Grey's Anatomy fan pass up on visiting it? So we managed to take it in on the one day that we went into Seattle city. We also caught a glimpse of the first Starbucks, though the queues were a bit too long for us to stick around and try their coffee (We had already had quite a few Starbucks experiences anyway).
View from the Space Needle - with Rainier in the distance

Outside the first Starbucks - and that's the queue in the background!
Whale Watching: This was one part of our holiday that would definitely not have happened, if not for my dear cousin telling me about it :). It was a lovely day spent on a boat, chasing whales (mostly orcas). It was a bit of an irony trying to see them in the wild, after having seen them in captivity at Sea World. But you can imagine what an amazing experience it makes. The day was wrapped up with a visit to Deception Pass.
Yes, it was cold!

With Deception Pass in the background
Time with Friends: A couple of dear friends were in Seattle, we managed to spend a day with one and her family. It's true what they say, even if you haven't spoken in years, the connection remains the same :). Another friend stayed very close to my cousin's place (though we realized that fact much later!) so managed to spend a few hours at her place one morning.

Museum of Flight: We managed to put in a visit to the museum on our last full day in Seattle - quite interesting and very informative for adults though the kids were good sports and walked around to see everything.

And the last day arrived and it was time to leave! What a holiday :) !!!!

That rounds off my travelogue (Do I hear many "At lasts!" ;)). I am planning a couple more posts with references of tours and hotels.. and on the visa process. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

M is for Majesty - The Grand Canyon

That's the first word that came to mind when I saw the Grand Canyon. It's a place I've always been fascinated by, and the real thing was just as indescribably amazing as I had expected.

After our Disney bonanza, we headed to Vegas to take in the sights. Our hotel was just a bit off the strip (The Tuscany) so we did a lot of walking around. The fountains at the Bellagio could not be missed of course, and we also managed a few more of the highlights including the Tussaud's Wax Museum and a Magic Show by Nathan ... - basically all the kid-friendly stuff that we could find ;).

The kids loved using the props, we would have loved to too but there was a line ;).
Next, a bus tour to the Grand Canyon that also included a stop at the Hoover bridge. The Canyon was much colder than expected thanks to a plunge in temperatures that day, but no amount of unpleasantness in the weather could take away from that sight. A very useful hint came from an announcement during our bus tour - that while we might like to take dozens of pics to capture that beauty, our friends should be subjected to just a few, so here goes ;):
Oh those colours!

Reaching for the clouds :)
Next and last stop, Seattle. I have a lot to say there as well :). Last couple of posts coming up soon!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

I is for Innovation - Disney and Universal Studios

After San Francisco/Fremont, our next stop was the beautiful San Diego. Here we stayed with friends, who took the time out to take us to see all the sights. We had tried to plan it around a weekend and managed to take in the Zoo, beaches and the Field of Flowers before the start of the next week. One more day at Sea World and then we were off to our whirlwind Theme Park tour ;).
Field of Flowers

Sunset at the beach
For this part of the trip, we stayed in a resort at Anaheim which had a shuttle to the theme parks at all hours. First day was at the Disney California Adventure park, and I think I had more fun than the kids did :). Unfortunately I am the only one in the family who is a roller coaster enthusiast, so it was not worth the trouble(or rather the time!) to wait in line or get a fast pass just for myself. Tip: Read up on the Fast Pass concept, and get the fast pass for the Cars Radiator Springs ride as soon as you walk into the park :). The Aladdin musical was another nice experience that made up for not making it to a Broadway show when in New York.
After the ride
That's what it looked like when you were on it :)
Next was Universal Studios, and this is the biggest reason why I wrote this post under "Innovation". A roller coaster ride where just the eyes are getting tricked with the level changes, that's the Transformers based 3D ride for you - it was wonderful for everyone to get the roller coaster experience but without the sinking stomach feeling. I think we the parents were more blown away by the studio tour than the kids as we could relate to nearly every show and movie that we were hearing about. This is also where we met ASIMO the robot developed by Honda which was an awesome experience. A few days back, D asked me if we could have one of our own ;). Oh well, if they ever start mass producing them maybe. And we would still have to sell the house or something.
We chose a bus tour that took us to see some of LA/Hollywood in the evening as well, so got a feel of that as well. Unexpected excitement - seeing Saif Ali Khan just strolling along, just as we got off the bus onto Sunset Boulevard. I was too excited, and not enough of a fan :P to stop him and try to say anything of course.
"Experiencing" a flash flood!

I was obviously the only one excited to see "Wisteria Lane" :)

The Impressive ASIMO

Day 3 was back to Disney, this time back to the other theme park Disneyland, that is the original one in the set. This was based more around the Disney characters, and also had meets and photo shoots with some of them. Most of the lines was scary though, and when we found that we would have to wait 4 hours to meet Elsa and Anna, we had to regretfully tell D we would have to miss out on that. The day ended on a nice note though, with the evening parade.
The "Evergreen" star Mickey Mouse :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

H is for Heat - Hello Warmth and California!

After we left Newark, our next stop was San Francisco where we were staying with family at Fremont. While G was stationed in SF due to working that week, we had a nice taste of home food and comfort. I was the one who most needed to taste some rice by then ;).

The first day after our arrival was full of activity thanks to my cousin who took us sightseeing to the highlights of the city. First stop was the Golden Gate bridge that I had seen in so many movies by now that it didn't feel like I was seeing it for the first time :).
We were planning to walk the length of the bridge then realized when we got halfway that we would have to walk back as well ;).
Then on to ride the cable car, and finally the day ended up at the ferry ride around Alcatraz. The kids lost interest in the audio descriptions within minutes, but I was fascinated by all the history.

A fun ride, but at 6$ a person not something we could do over and over :).
Ghirardelli Square had to be a part of the agenda!

I can't hear it properly! 
Loved the seagulls 
On Day 2, we took the BART into San Francisco to meet G who was working there. After catching a quick lunch, I made the kids work it all off by climbing the Coit Tower steps. they were surprisingly good sports and only needed a little nudge now and then ;). Photos of the greenery in my post on Gardens.
A lovely day for a climb? ;)
Beautiful views during the climb
You can see that D was the one who needed the most persuasion to climb that last part :).
Coit Tower in the background.
Some of Day 3 was spent at a friend's place who lived quite close to my uncle's in Fremont, and on Day 4 my uncle took us to go see the "17-mile Drive". It was a lovely place with beaches and picturesque spots like this Lone Cypress, though I felt guilty that we had to travel nearly a 100 miles to reach there!
The Lone Cypress
Surrounded by beauty, and wee bit envious of the folks who have homes there ;)
Bravely about to venture into the icy cold water :) 
She did it!
We also managed a quick visit with some old friends on our last day in SF, which was a bit hurried but great to catch up! And that was the end of our activity filled 4 days :). Next stop San Diego!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Pet Peeve - Drabble Week #3

2 all ma frnds hu can rd dis: Don't ever write to me like this please, ever!
It took me about 5 minutes to think of how to write those words, and honestly it takes me as long to read something like that. My eyes literally hurt to even try! Yes, that's my pet peeve.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

His Last Wish - Drabble Week #2

She waited by the bedside as he opened his eyes at last, after the massive accident that had threatened to take his life. As soon as he turned to look at her, she broke out weeping, and left.
After all, it had been her son's last wish to donate his eyes to someone in need.

- 55er written for Drabble Week Day 2 at Marathon Bloggers

Monday, June 30, 2014

The broken promise - Drabble Week #1

It was the morning after the first fallen tooth! D woke up and came to me with a disappointed look "Why didn't the tooth fairy visit me?".
A broken promise! I had forgotten to perform my job as the fairy's messenger. And I said to her "Don't worry, she's just late! She'll be here tomorrow.".

55-er written as a part of the Drabble Week challenge at my Marathon Bloggers group. Taking a break from my travelogue, but need to complete that soon as well :P.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

L is for Liberty

 In the interest of my sanity, I am going to criss-cross over the rest of the letters a bit ;). Else I am never finishing this travelogue or I'm just going to forget large parts of it. I'll still try to cover all the letters, but not in order.

After our Niagara tour, we got back to New York to the same hotel for the remaining couple of days there. I had booked the Statue of Liberty tour for our last remaining day in New York, and that's what we did. Thinking that it would be tough for the kids to get to the crown (354 steps), I had booked only the pedestal tour but there were 215 steps even to get that far! I was the one who huffed and puffed the most of course :P.

New York skyline during the Ferry ride

First glimpse
There was a museum at the pedestal level that spoke of the interesting history of the statue

Zoomed out view that shows the tourists swarming like ants at the base

Skyline on the ferry ride back - the grey clouds adding to the contrasts
 We took the ferry from the Jersey State Park, thinking it would be the closer point for us from our North Bergen hotel. On the way back you can take the ferry back to NY as well, and that's where we did, getting off at Battery Park. Met a friend of G's who showed us around the Wall Street and the Twin Towers area, which we might have missed if not for a guide like him.
I've always been fascinated by tulips, never tried growing them though
The Bull of Wall Street
And that was the end of our NY part of the experience. Next stop Bay Area.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

G is for Gardens :)

To a gardener, G has to stand for gardens :). Let me digress from my ordered travelogue to write about some of the gardening experiences I had on this tour..

Climbing the 400 steps up to Coit Tower in San Francisco got much easier once I saw the greenery on the way ;). These giant nasturtium leaves caught my attention immediately. And yes, my kids were such good sports they climbed with me with only a wee bit of complaining!

These pics are from a friend's place where I stayed in Fremont.

Strawberry Tower
Broccoli looking super healthy
Waiting for those cabbages
The next pics are from Sea World at San Diego where I must have been the only one more interested in this small garden space :).

Artichoke - I'm fascinated when I see them using it in cooking shows

Swiss chard - I was almost tempted to swipe some seeds :)

After hearing so much about the gloomy weather in Seattle, I was amazed to find clear sunny skies and the most amazing greenery all around. This tree just amazed me with its majesty.