Parenting

Most of my regular readers know me as the 3-kid mom. There is even a delightful little post on the comic relief that comes with being a mom of three kids. An Indian mom of three kids.

That said, am the proudest as a mom. Not only because I (including the husband of course) made them, but also of how they’ve turned out, and this despite me (us). I started this blog when my littlest one was 2 years old.

It’s 2015, and she turned 11 this year. My oldest is a 20 year old gorgeous, smart and responsible daughter, and is a Junior at college. My son is a handsome, brilliant and strongly independent 18 year old and a sophomore at college. My munchkin (as she is referred to here) is an amazing bundle of joy, with her wit, and impeccable drive and naive thought in all things she does on stage and off. Oh, she is a dancer too!

Our Zephie is our littlest baby though. A rescue I wanted for my milestone birthday, and am so glad she is part of our family now.

More about us and the kids below, and there is a lag between when I last wrote about them and now, but things will get filled as they happen. ūüôā

I grew up with them, and they taught me and my husband as much as Ive taught them, and what Ive learnt, I share below.

Welcome to our crazy family!

*****

empty head {3 min read}

It has been a rough couple of days. My brain feels like a tangled web of nerves. Pulsating, and throbbing while I try to unravel the sure from the unsure. It seemed very crystal clear till a few weeks ago, then the muddling started which I ignored and blamed it on my insecure and occasionally paranoid frame of mind. Focus was gung ho, and I was on a roll with many other parts of my life, meditation was working wonders as much as cycling, writing, cooking and a few other projects I'd taken on.

Life was humming along, not with autobahn perfection and speed, but just fine along the country roads with the window down and some breeze in my air. 60 mph would sum it up fine.

Then stuff happened.

It's like I hit a bad crater on the country road, and realized I was out of gas, with no gas station in sight, and there was no cell phone service on a  dying phone and I was just told that the place I was thinking I was going to had shut down, and I am not allowed access there anymore.

It's been rough and will be rough for a while till I figure out my next route, and figure out a destination that *I* want to go, and with whom or if I need to hike it alone, and if so how accepting I would be of it.

But, life goes on.

Companionship on such routes is over rated. My karma is talking to me, and I resign with slumped shoulders and a headache that pops a vein on my temple every now and then, and make dinner for another family too, and do what we all do. Go on with our day

I pick up munchkin from her class and we drive back home.

She usually likes to talk and i am not much of a talker, but I humor her every now and then. She was silent today, till halfway. She then reached out and started messing with my hair. I smile and move away.

She snaps "I am sooo bored!"

As I veer into our community, I exclaim "You were busy till now, we almost home!"

"But am bored! You don't talk at all!"

"We shouldn't be talking all the time. It's good to listen and be with our thoughts. They tell us stuff when we are silent."

I reason with her and we smile at each other, she still petulant, and yearning to kick a fuss. Which she does.

"But mommy! I don't have any thoughts! My head is empty. No thoughts. Nope, nothing. See, I knock, and it's empty. Am listening to silence!" 

I smile and wish for her head to stay empty for a long time to come.

Coz once it starts to fill in, it's a deluge. Much like our closets. Like the attic. Like the garage. Lots of junk that can hide the occasional rare gem that we forget to hold closer to our hearts.

 

 

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crack this you sleuths

It's a usual work day. I come down, and start the toaster, think briefly on what to make lunch for the girls, and realize the older daughter needed a bigger lunch coz she is staying late at school. Tell myself it's okay to give them a sandwich as they had pasta yesterday. Start off my coffee in the microwave which I shall drink till it gets cold and insipid, but that's normal.

Zephie comes to me, so I pet her, hug her for a bit, and then let her out. I take out the green chutney for the sandwich, a tomato, and leftover pizza slice. I place the pizza slice on palate and shove it in the microwave. Get the bread out, slice tomato thin, make the sandwiches and wrap them one after another in foil.

This lunch packing is a ritual. Something Ive been doing for many many years. Two lunch bags for 6 years or so, then 3 for the last 6 years or so, and now back to 2. It's a routine. I sometimes sleep-pack through it. It's a set number.

  • A main lunch - sandwich, pasta etc. (sometimes two)
  • Drink (from outside which usually the husband brings in)
  • Yogurt, Fruit, cookies/chips

It's not something I fail at or forget one, it's at least 4-5 different things that go into the punchbag. They all sit in neat little piles spaced separately coz each one's varies slightly, and I don't want to mess it up for the hungry ones. They come down and they pack, or I pack depending on where the lunch bag is. Ive been doing this for years now. It isn't new.

I am not dreaming any of the packing up.

Today was no different. I finish sandwiches. Take out grapes, coz the daughter complained of too many apples, so I wash them in a colander, leave them to dry out a bit. Husband comes down and I ask him to bring in drinks. He has only one chocolate milk and one Capri sun, and I tell him to give the chocolate milk to the daughter and the juice pack to Munchkin. (they like it that way) He does, and he goes out to get the paper, Zephie follows him, and I am back to sipping my coffee and waiting for the pizza to toast, which I scroll on the twitter timeline. I smile at the ruckus I created with my midnight Bhel posting on instagram and go back to removing the hot pizza onto a foil. I pack the grapes in ziploc bags.

I go to the freezer and I get a Gogurt out for munchkin, place it next to her pile.

Two of each. Two cookies in wrap. Two grape bags. Two yogurts. Two sandwiches.

Her backpack is right on the chair, so I pull her lunch bag out from the front compartment. Zippered. The bag feels heavy and I frown. She hasn't eaten her apple, and a small piece of her sandwich from yesterday is still wrapped in foil. Carefully, she brings it back home. I place the apple down, and trash the foil and place the dirty spoon in the sink. I start packing her bag, since I had it open anyway. Husband is across and he starts to get his cereal and lays his newspaper out. The girls are still upstairs.
I wipe the inside if the lunch bag out, and with a clean empty bag, I start packing. I place the sandwich in the pouch. The yogurt stands on the side, the grapes go in, and the cookies and the apple goes in too. Telling myself that I must remind her to eat it during recess so she isn't too hungry when she comes home.

I need to use the restroom. Finally. So I do.

I come out and munchkin has her lunch bag in her hand and she and the husband look at me and ask if she can buy lunch? I say, Ive gone over this enough times, Just tell me the night before, coz then I wouldn't pack your lunch? Also, you didn't eat your apple, can you please rem to eat your apple at recess?

She looks blankly at me, and says, but you didn't pack my lunch.

Huh?

What do u mean? I packed your lunch.

She and her dad stare at me like I lost it. No.. There is nothing in here, see? Except cookies.

Incredulous! See, daughter's lunch is right here, I packed all of yours! Yes, that's the cookies I packed! Orange one for halloween!

I look at them pointedly and ask if they are pulling a prank on me. Did you just empty it off thinking its old lunch. With munchkin, it's possible. I dart to the kitchen trash. I see what I threw out, old sandwich wrapper, and yesterday's yogurt boxes - nothing else. So I *did* empty her lunch bag. Husband is now concerned. He brought in the juice pack, so thank God, he decides to start searching with me coz now his juice pack has walked away. He starts looking at the laundry room's trash. Then the pantry. The refrigerator. I look and look again in her back pack. Just books,  few folders. Its as clean as a whistle. the couch is on the other side. The deck door is closed. We even peek outside coz the daughter who has now walked into this panic, starts to joke. Maybe someone is sitting outside and eating away her lunch! haha.

I stare at her.

It's baffling us. Where the hell did most of the lunch go? I know I packed it. I didn't dream it up?

More searching. More blame game. More doubt. But within a few minutes we all come to the conclusion that none of us are playing a prank on each other, and that I did pack her lunch, at least made it, and then packed it and placed it into her backpack. Zippered it down too.

These are physical things. They don't just disappear.

Husband asks me to get cracking and make lunch coz now we have just 15 minutes before the bus. The daughter packs her lunch nd they both eat cereal as we continue this craziness of repeatedly checking the same places again and again. A cold fear grips me. Husband also asks me if I dreamt it all. Did I have a senior moment. I am not even angry. I ask him what happened to his juice box and he calms down.

Life must go on. The dog needs to be walked. He starts moving.

I pack lunch again, with a worried look on my face. I tweet about a ghost in the house. Daughter assures me that it will be alright and she runs off, as she has to fill gas and then go to school. Munchkin is looking at me concerned. I shake out of it for her sakes, and talk about school and brush her hair and ask her to wear more layers. Its cold outside.

Zephie couldn't have reached up. The deck door was closed. I packed it. I know the husband wouldn't do this, not in the morning anyway. The girls were not down. Munchkin would never empty out her lunch bag. Who would open her back pack, take out the lunch bag, take out almost all of it, and then place it back in the back pack and zip it down? 

So what happened to the sandwich, apple, grapes in a ziploc, and yogurt and a capri sun juice pack?

Cold fear in my heart. I am a logical person. I don't believe in ghosts. I believe everything has a scientific logical reason. I cannot find an answer. i tweet. People reply simply. I had earlier lost 2 cutting boards. No one knows where they went. One just doesn't lose lunch bags' contents.

I drop munchkin at the bus stand and crack a joke "Hope hat the sandwich stays and you get to eat it!" She giggles and slides out. I come back and i remember by sister telling me stuff that happened at her friends' place and she was upset too with a cemetry in her backyard, and so she played Vishnu Sahasranama on a loop. I had smiled back then on beliefs and how they make us strong. I am not smiling now and am instead playing Lalitha and Vishnu on  loop.

I think back to my trip on Monday to Rock Creek Cemetery and wonder.

No, it can't be. There must be a logical explanation for it. things should and must not disappear just sitting there.

It's Halloween tomorrow. I must think of a costume for myself. I think i look scared enough without a costume.

Husband hugs me and tells me to move past. It's okay. I nod. My brain will not let it go, coz my head tells me there should be an explanation for it. I am home alone with Zephie. A part of me wants to step out. There is so much to be done. Today was the day I would get cracking and get things done. I didn't need this.

Anyone wants to take a crack at this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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front row view

There was a time when front row seats were avoided like the plague. seats would get filled from the back row. That's where the fun was. Am obviously talking about school and classes. Front row was for the nerds and the goody two shoes. Or for the ones who came in late.

Then we grew up. Somewhere some soul decided to raise the bar. I am guessing the person was a long suffering booted to the front by the class bully individual. It all comes back to haunt you. The jeers, the jokes and the teachers' inevitable large blind spot, even if you were an amazon in the land of dwarfs and were doing bird calls with your hand raised for an answer. Maybe it didn't hit home that it was precisely the reason they were in the front row in the first place!

I attend a yoga class religiously and there are some regulars and then there are some who float in and out. I realized the other day I was a front row person. It came as quite a shock that I would actually want to be right up there under her nose doing the downward dog, instead of disappearing into the shadows and hoodwinking on the downward dog.

This didn't home until yesterday when I was buying recital tickets for munchkin's Jazz performance. For some reason, which will remain a million dollar question left unanswered by most of us, recital tickets for ballet and jazz schools get sold out within hours. No, am serious. For that brief 3 minute appearance of a munchkin wearing the exact same dress as at least 15 others around her to do a hop and a skip, entire families spanning a couple of generations assemble in the middle clutching roses. The talent is the last thing on anyone's mind, and along with the smiles, the general accolades that flow for that brief stint, the school/studio reaps it all in.

Okay, am being cynical there, and yes, I'll grudgingly agree that one cannot force a dollar value on your precious pumpkin's centerstage appearance.

So, I walk into the studio to live up to my parental duties of coughing up the necessary dollars to seemy munchkin pirouette around and what do I see but a paper FULL of gray. What? I exclaim. Yes, says the lady being the counter with an air of nonchalance subdued only by forced politeness and tolerance to the parents who have invariably sighed and gasped at the lack of good seats for the performance.

What are my choices? I ask.

Having just trooped back in from a fieldtrip in the warm mute sun minding wandering 7 year old girls in a SEA of 7-8 year olds from all over the area (not just the school), I was in no mood to make small talk or cackle my way into any respectable position in the audience.

She points a sharp pencil to the very first half empty row and then the very empty back row on top of the balcony.

Wow. I exclaim. I'll take two in the front.

I pause. Really? Two in the front. I'll be seeing up their beige stockings. Maybe I should go back after all. I'd get to see formations and the colors and the straight lines the tiny bodies form. Sure, it would take me a full minute to win the "spot the munchkin" contest between me and my husband and before we can hone in on her like parental hawks and grin, she'd be bidding us goodbye. So I flipped the decision a few times in my mind.

Yes, I'll take the two in the front.

I'll see my munchkin up close and she will see us up close. She will wear a grin and we will wear our grins and that moment alone would compensate for the $30 check I wrote in a swift motion before I could change my mind and whine.

There were one too many other things I could choose to whine about later in the van ride back home.

Front row seats.

Now I am a conscious by choice front row seater. I don't mind not knowing the answers to questions that may fly at me anymore. I do know I'll get the view that I will enjoy, may not be the best view that most of the world wants or cares for, but my eyes will love what they see and for that I will bear the cross of the front row.

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am late!

Munchkin likes to chill when she gets home. She is not your hoppity hop sorta kid whom you can drag from one activity to another (while being a tiger mom in training) with a taco bell burrito and a snack on the way.

She comes home, and she needs to plonk herself down on that couch, gape at that Nickelodeon channel and demand food! Unwind and be lazy and then if all the stars are aligned right, she will allow herself to get to work. Any kind of work. Including taking her empty glass or plate and walk it to the sink.

Today, she was running late and barely had 30 minutes before she had to head out for Jazz. She does her usual and I tell her in slow tones:

You have about 20 minutes to get dressed and go. Ok?

She has that u-got-to-be-kidding-me look.

Okay, just eat your snack for now and I'll tell you. 

.....

It's 4:49

Munchkin, we have 5 minutes to leave. 

She turns back angry. Then it becomes a whine.

What? Just 5 minutes? 

I nod my head

FIVE minutes? ..and her voice goes into a shrill - Just five minutes. But I still have to go change! Why did you tell me before?Now am going to be late! I can't be late! Mom!! 

I calm her with my apparently now calm voice

It's okay, you can be a few minutes late, don't worry! 

Noooo, I can't be late! I don't want to be late.

The tears rush now.

Aw baby, don't cry, it's alright! You still have 4 minutes to go change and then it will take us 3 minutes to drive there and it's snowing too, so we should hurry. But go on now, eat up. 

She calms down. Gobbles her last pieceof sandwich, slyly feeds the dog with a tiny triangle, and looks at me with a smile

NOW I am going to go change and we can go. 

I laugh and pull her close, asking her

So you don't like being late?

Her eyebrows furrow. No! 

Why? What happens if you are late?

Her eyes go round, and she has the is-that-even-a-valid-question look on her face as she indignantly and bluntly replies

Coz I'll be late. 

*a silent duh hangs in the air*

She scuttles off to change and I start this post.

***

It must be wonderful to not be or do something coz it is just wrong to be or do that particular action. Repercussions need not be a motivation for that act to take place. I suppose only children in their pristine sense can be plain and unassuming, something that disappears quickly  as they grow up. They are fed (by adults or parents) the consequences of their actions and words such as "bribe", "reward", punishments", and such sneak into their head.

Some actions are just wrong. Not because they can trigger a sequence, but just for that moment, they are wrong. They are very capable to stand their ground and hold themselves for what it's worth.

I like that instance.

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sibling rivalry

I see two pairs of eyes restlessly watching me as I fix dinner in a bit of a rush. The dishes needed to be loaded, and the kitchen needed to be cleaned within 27 minutes. Folks were dropping in for a short while and the house was to look lived in, not perfect.

Both are hungry and I tilt my head down to look at them.

Hungry?

I get an affirmative silent cocking of the head and a vehement 'yes'.

I open the fridge and see 1 large carrot in the bin. I wash it and snap it into two and extend my hands out to each. Both eye each other's pieces.

Munchkin exclaims "Hey, no fair, why does she get the bigger piece!"
Zephie is already halfway to the couch to chew on her prize.

Munchkin grumbles her way to her side of the couch.
"No fair mom, I am even older than her!" ..as she takes a bite off the carrot end and glares at Zephie.

I chuckle my way back to the stove.

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answer lock kiya jaye

Evening scene:

Am cooking, and various characters are all studiously working on their respective academic levels.

Munchkin comes to show me her completed work. Her math sheet had this question:

"There are 2 red blocks, 3 green blocks and 4 blue blocks on the floor. How many blocks are there on the floor?"

She had a neat "9" next to it.

I say: Good job.

She: *smiles large*

I: So tell me, how did you do that?

She: * makes those large eyes even rounder, and with a smug expression on her face* By Math.

I: haha, no, munchkin, I meant how did you calculate that? How did you come up with the number 9?

She: *throws the clipboard down, thrusts her tiny fingers at me, wiggles them furiously*: By my fingers!

..and that's how the ball rolls.

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hungry caterpillar

Walmart and Jumpstart in an effort to highlight literacy have gotten together to create a record by having a large number of people, parents and/or kids read this popular and very lovely book on October 8th. Written by Eric Carle, this book has pleasured, taught and captivated children for the past 40 years.the-very-hungry-caterpillar400x300

Today's October 8th.

We picked up this book at our library and have read it a couple of times every day since the weekend. Here's a video of us reading the book so you may read along if you wish.

Introducing munchkin and I on our best behavior!

If you have sat through the video and read to a child with us, please let me know in the comments, so there's a tally I can keep and enter in the numbers at the end of the day at Jumpstart's site. There's of course the option of just watching the words go by, by which you are reading the book anyway, so you qualify as well! Let me know or just go ahead and do the poll.

Thanks for reading with us! ūüôā


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mumbling thru morsels

At the dinner table.

Smaller conversations between silences as each of us dig into mamidikaya pappu (Mango daal) and rice with a raw plantain fry. Munchkin's sitting across me and is pushing her rice all around the bowl. I tell her twice to hurry up, or we'd all be done and she'd still be sitting and mostly, alone.

She makes a huge drama out of eating quick, but the morsels are going nowhere.

Husband, daughter and I are talking about a school event, when suddenly we hear munchkin in a very serious tone and oblivious to all around her, is looking intently at her bowl and talking thus:

"You. You just sit here. In the corner. On the top here" She digs up a fairly large mango piece and places it firmly on the rim. She then pushes her pudgy fingers into the rice and exclaims

"Oh no, you again? You come here. You the baby. Go sit with your mommy. Right here. Yes. next to her, and don't move!"

Her eyes rolled and her face determined, she continues to pull out every imaginable small mashed piece of mango that her fingers can feel and places them next to the grand thick slice.

Along with the pieces, a fair amount of rice has found its way to the rim.

Feeling accomplished, she now looks at me with glee and says "Look Mommy, this is a family of mukkas." (mukka = pieces in telugu) Then making her eyes go rounder, she smiles impishly and challenges me "Want to race? I can beat ya?!"

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two thursdays and a month

..to mark your calendars if you so wish.

(This is a sticky post, please scroll down for recent posts.)

1. October - National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For the past 2 years I've recognized October to be National Breast Cancer Awareness month on this blog. My first brush with it is in this post.

This year, I figured it would be nice to actually write about or interview a person who has had to face this scare, either personally or through a close friend or family. In fact, why don't we make it a community event, similar to the pink forum here? Am naming this drive : Pink Champs.

Tell us a story, in any form. Interview, retell, draw, make a video, load a song, poem, a haiku, a poster, anything, whatever strikes your creative edge to get the idea across. Come back here to the page and leave me a link in the comments or email me at kowthas02ATgmailDOTcom, and I'll go ahead and add you to the collection. Tag the post "PinkChamps", so it's search-able and ultimately a comprehensive collection is created.

Praveen just sent me the link to this space, where there's already some videos made on empowerment. Check it out!

The idea is to derive strength, and be a source of it, to spread cheer, encouragement and hope. This spans time, age and boundaries of any kind.

A person's a qualified Pink Champ just by diagnosis alone.

Picture 8

Please be aware of the person's sensitivity and respect their privacy and wishes if they do not want to go any further into it.

I should get down to it by the 20th or so myself.

2. October - NaBloWriMo

I blogged every day of October last year, and it was quite exciting, not to forget how proud I was that I didn't repeat myself too much or just write for the heck of it. Then again, I had my knee problems to make fun of back then I think. I still can, nothing seems to have changed! In any case, am actually very drained this time around. There's just a lot on my plate and I doubt I have the enthusiasm or time to make a decent post but I do know I have a lot on my mind. How many of those will escape as words is anyone's guess, but am gonna give it a try. I have a few drafts sitting since early this year and hopefully they'll see the light of the day.

Maybe I'll take weekends off, since weekends are busier than weekdays and moreover, am not at work and work is where we blog ūüôā

Anyone want to try? It's quite the creative exercise I assure you. Helps cultivate potentially harmful habits like routine, discipline and well, mostly writing. You should at least try, that's what great folks say.

3. Thursday October 15 - Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Last year folks wrote on poverty.

This year it's about Climate Change. A topic close to my heart and the children as the last couple of years the focus has been awareness to how our environment is changing around us at incredible speeds. The older kids have had multiple projects in various subjects and activities and this is a topic that's familiar. In December 06, there was an article that spurned me to think about a few of those issues and I'd jotted down a few things that we were doing as part of our going green venture. They are all related.

Check some of the ideas given (scroll down the page)

Would be nice if more folks join in and write at least about one single thing that would make a difference, or something that they have already done that's helping towards a better cleaner future for the generations ahead of us.

If you don't have a blog, feel free to say your bit in the comment space.

4. Thursday October 8th - The Very Hungry Caterpillar

the-very-hungry-caterpillar400x300

Walmart and Jumpstart in an effort to highlight literacy have gotten together to create a record by having a large number of people, parents and/or kids read this popular and very lovely book on October 8th. Written by Eric Carle, this book has pleasured, taught and captivated children for the past 40 years. Yes, that's right, 4 generations have had the opportunity to learn numbers, days of week, and names of fruits by reading this simple book.

More details on how to participate on your own or bring it to your local school, if you are a parent can be found here.

I will be reading along with munchkin on this blog.  (no idea how, but I have a week to figure out anyway.) If you'd like to read along, please hop over, and mark your presence, so I have a headcount. I'll have a poll up, for all you shy lurking lilies.

If you have a blog, please spread the word. If you are inclined, spread the word anyhow, blog's just one medium. Am no mommy blogger, and I doubt any of them read me, but am hoping someone from them's aware of this. They have clout and they sure as hell can strum up some large numbers.


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flip-flop

I think am OD'ing on posts about the family, fun and munchkin, but in the wake of not able to construe anything postive or serious (read mind is numb) this is as good as an entertainment for the simple heart.

So over the weekend we were at the College of William and Mary, for a middle school Model UN conference that both the older kids were participating in. The place is set in the middle of nowhere as opposed to our more busy neighborhood and has a few summer attractions that we frequent. The beach, the historic downtown, and King's D all along the I-95 corridor. The place is also famous for its outlet mall. I wouldn't know what on earth they sell at any coz am not a huge shopping person per se, and I shall shift half the blame on the husband, coz well, just like any man worth his salt, he hates stores. Makes no bones about it either. Works just fine most of the time for me anyways.

With nothing to do in the maze of the hotel they boarded us in, we ventured to explore the town made of precisely FOUR streets that curved and spun around the University buildings and downtown. I am not going to tell you that the husband refused to listen to me and got us completely lost and we went into this completely desolated area which magically opened into a beautiful lake that I got some lovely pictures of. Yes, the man did it on purpose so I can wield the camera and shoot some ducks. He is apparently going to stick with that story.

The evening went on fine in the middle of LOUD cackling 13-14 year olds, and their thundering footsteps, with the girls not able to decide to all stick to jeans and ressy top or gowns (for the social dance in the evening), while the boys had to be BEGGED to change outa their day long shirts and wear something more casual (jeans).

It has to be said though, that one does not have the faintest clue on how a shoddy sloppy 13 year old boy in faded jeans, birds nest hair and crumpled oversized tee, can instantly look handsome once a suit is brought into the picture. The moms were this short of shedding tears. Yeah, I know, moms are wimps when it comes to sons. Moms are bigger wimps when their son gets to be selected along with a few others to talk at the awards ceremony among the 400 delegates that landed there. The guy has a sense of humor and had the hall in splits a few times. Yep, am a wimpy mom now ūüôā

O btw, does anyone know that there exists a PUKE-flavored jelly bean? Yes, it does, and it tastes like you swallowed your own regurgitation. Don't ask how I know, I just know.

Moving on, once the sweet dressed teens were shipped off on the bus, we decided to go get some dinner and landed in the outlet mall area. Through the evening, I saw moms loaded with bags walking in flushed with cold and excitement on bagging goodies walk into the hotel. The vision stuck. I decided I needed to share that bond with those women. I ventured into a shop. Then I became crazy. Coz none of the darned sizes fit. Well, a coupla reasons though correct? One is I donno what size I am in for starters. Then there's the issue of under-sizing with the brand names, and then of course it's a frikkin' outlet store. The clothes are there for a purpose. They are under priced for a purpose. The purpose being there was something wrong with them in the first place! So after two stores, I was beat anyway, and decided I'd just play safe with shopping for the daughter. She was easy, pick the smallest and she'd float in it anyway.

The munchkin's sitting there taking it all in.

Then she says "Mom, is this for me?"

Me: "No baby, this is big kids store. Nothing will fit you here."

She running over to a rack with baby doll tops, yanking one down, holding it to her as she gets hidden behind; "But mom, look, this its me."

Me: No, silly. That's a top, not a complete dress. We can go to a baby store and get you something ok?"

That was the mistake I made.

She hounded us for the next 20 minutes, till we managed to find a Gap.

Cutting a long story short, she has a fascination with shoes. Perfect right? Yeah, so she makes a beeline for these flip flops and holds onto them and croons

"Mom, look, so pretty, just like M's (her friend).

Me: "Yes, but it's winter, we don't wear flip flops in winter."

She: "But they are so cute!"

Me: "I know. When it's spring, then we can buy it. Put them back. Let's see if this jeans will fit you."

She: "But mom, I want these flip flops."

Me: " NO. Would you rather we leave?"

She: "Okay okay, I can try this jeans." Holding onto those flip flops.

I change my mind on the jeans. Looking at other stuff, I want to try a shirt on, so she trails behind and goes.. "Mom, can I try these flip flops?"

Me: "Huh? You don't need to try flip flops girl!"

She:"I want to try these flip flops" and continues to walk past me into the room, slips off her shoes and socks, wears the flip flops and strikes a pose in front of the mirror.

"These fit me mom, look?!"

Me: "Oh okay!!" *slowly giving up on this kid who clearly does not have any genes from either of us who made her*

Outside at the checkout line.

She making her large round eyes rounder and larger and in a firm determined business-like tone:  "Mom, listen to me ok?  I need to buy these flip flops. I know it isn't summer and it is winter, but  promise not to wear them till it is summer. Okay?'

She slams the flip flops onto the counter and throws me a twinkling smile.

***

I swear I didn't make this up. The flip-flops on my 4.5 year old tough nut.

photo

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hug?

Just wrapped up an intense hugging session, and decided I'd write on it.

A hug, is cute, warm, loving, rapturous, passionate, safe, protective, soothing, casual and more depending on the situation and who you hugging ultimately. To a certain extent it's not how you hug that matters as much as how you are hugged. Conversely, it's a selfish random act of kindness as well.

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the pout

So this evening we were invited to a surprise 50th birthday party for a very old friend and colleague of the husband's. The evening itself would take a whole hour to type (yes, it's that juicy) and since I don't have an hour and am beating the clock, I shall tell you a little tale that happened before we left. At home. In our bathroom. It's okay, it isn't PG 13. Don't be that unhappy now.

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diva

The girl did this all by herself. Scarf, the glasses, the pose, while the daughter took the shot.

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tell me lies

I hate lies. Apparently there are various kinds. I had no idea such a variety existed. Either way, I hate them. Of course I always knew white lies existed. I am quite sure I've indulged in a few myself to get out of awkward situations.

The definition of a white lie:

A white lie would cause no discord if it were uncovered and offers some benefit to the liar, the hearer, or both. White lies are often used to avoid offense, such as telling someone that you think that their new outfit looks good when you actually think that it is a horrible excuse for an outfit. In this case the lie is told to avoid the harmful implications and realistic implications of the truth. As a concept it is largely defined by local custom and cannot be clearly separated from regular lies with any authority. As such, the term may have differing meanings in different cultures. Lies that are harmless but told for no reason are generally called white lies.

The key clause there being "cause no discord if it were uncovered". Who doesn't care about being lied to? For the most part you smile and let go, but occasionally the nature and the way it is said decides the impact imho.  

Social commitments in the kind of society we live in demands us for our time and our company. It's flattering to be invited. There have been times when we wished we could clone ourselves just so we could send each set different directions. Unfortunately, since that isn't an option, we are left to hurry from one to the other, most definitely inconveniencing ourselves at least to a slight extent in the process. There have been times when we had to decline politely. These are options. Valid options that we are faced with when you value the other party enough to not appear rude. Just a simple act that we are bound to for living in a society.

I have huge problems refusing. Can't say 'No' easily. I am learning these days and am yet to conquer the guilt for saying 'No'. The husband's a whole lot better of course, but both of us are suckers for holding our end of the bargain. If we've said 'Yes' without checking calendars and times, and there is a conflict, we'd do a juggling act and drive different directions if we have to, but we don't bail the last minute, unless of course it's inevitable as in the case of emergencies. You agree to one first, you stick with that commitment. It doesn't seem right somehow to change your priorities halfway through. I belong to a circle of friends who hold the same sentiment. A point that I once thought was the only right thing to do until I begin to interact more with the new desis (and by new, I mean new acquaintances Ive made recently) to whom nothing matters except themselves. Self-centered doesn't begin to describe their attitude to anything outside of them. What amuses me altogether is the absolute indifferent, callow attitude with which they continue even after they've been ratted out.

So that brings me to the question. We do have levels of friendship and we commit to different folks/institutions/events differently. Understandable. So does that give you the right to reserve the truth only for ones you place at a higher level and not care or spare a moment's thought to frame a fine enough reason to acquaintances?

Okay, am livid. Was livid some moments ago and then I got irritated and now am just plain amused.

So here's the story:

Recently made friends with a couple and their toddler son (kid1) a few months ago. Hit it off, talk and the kids played well. Met just a couple of times and the relationships' at a little-more-than-an-acquaintance-but-not-yet-friend level. Fair enough. Invite them over for munchkin's birthday party. They don't show up. Come home after 3-4 hours to see a mail from the man saying "we had unexpected guests over so sorry, we won't be able to make it."
Taking it at face value, it was a perfectly good explanation, though I honestly have never seen or heard of unexpected guests dropping into one's home in the US. Impossible? Maybe not, but a little bit of a stretch. Unexpected can only be really good friends. If they are good friends, it isn't hard to say,"sorry guys, gotta go out, be back in an hour." Still, perfectly valid reason, though sending an email after the time when you were expected to be at the party was strange. A call would've worked better.

Now munchkin's quite the cookie when it comes to her friends. She put the guest list together, so she knew who were coming in and who were missing. She counted off her friends as they walked in, escorted them to get their bowling shoes on and played the perfect hostess to the tee. So she knew this kid was missing. There was one other kid who couldn't make it and they called me that morning saying the kid's been running temperature the last night. Valid? Yes, sure. Munchkin knew about it right away so she wasn't expecting him either.

Munchkin comes home and continues to wonder just as I did why this kid1 didn't come for her party, just as she did every few minutes at the party. The girl gets all expressive and I explain to her after checking the email and she seemed okay with it. Kids forget easily, so it's all cool.

Today I speak with the lady to invite her for the Friday thing and just as I was done and hanging up, she broaches the birthday topic herself.

Says "Hey, am sorry about missing the party, it was really crazy that day. We had 2 other birthday parties to go to, and one was a neighbor and one at Chuck E Cheese."

Me: Oh okay. That's okay, but munchkin surely missed your son.
eh? Chuck E Cheese? Didn't he say something about guests. Okay, whatever, maybe she's confused.  

She: Oh, that's sweet. But yea, I asked him (husband) to email you, you know how it is with boys, once they see a place with moon bounce and all, they won't get out. We did think about each coming in different direction, but then it got really hard."

Me: I understand. We were expecting you as I got the mail only after we came home at 8. Maybe we can meet some other time. It's just that this was the first big party we were throwing for her, so she was excited about it.
Moonbounce? Didn't we have a major t-storm that evening? Oh well, Am not going to embarrass her with what her husband said, so please God, make me shut up.

She: Oh, yeah, actually what also happened was that he was all stuffed up in the morning and we took him to the doctor's and then ....

Me: That's fine. Social commitments are hard to keep up. I know. Got to run wrap up dinner. So see you on Friday if you can make it?
Okay girl, you are digging a bigger hole with every sentence you speak, so let's end this now.

***

The lie as such does not hurt the liar or the person lied to. Unfortunately, when the truth is uncovered, it does hurt, maybe hurt's a strong word, more like bothers or annoys the person lied to. The depth of damage is dependent on the kind of lie, relationship between the parties involved and the reason behind the need for a lie. You'd think people would pause for a few minutes before they blurt an excuse which isn't a really good reason in the first place. You'd also think that as a team, a couple would consult each other or let the other know the excuses before they stand united in front of the lied to. Like an alibi. Just to save face if nothing else.

What happened wasn't such a big deal, and we weren't good friends to begin with, for her to choose us over the others. Surely wouldn't it have been just easier to say "sorry, we are already going some place else, wish Munchkin a happy birthday for us, we shall meet again" . Simple. Has been done before, both ways. Works easy and clean, no mess.

It doesn't matter anymore who was speaking the truth and why they couldn't come. What just happened was that I've lost a few notches of faith and regard I had for them as a couple.

Darn them. Bah.

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mom's a kid too!

So here's the view from this closed door office Ive been assigned to. Yes, yes, I know there are brick walls and am looking at the rear end of Giant Foods, but hey, there's that sliver of gray sky with trees on the horizon which more than makes up for everything else.

better-than-a-cubicle-wall-view

better-than-a-cubicle-wall-view

I think I miss my shoes though..

So yes, this is the first, okay, not first but 4th picture (no, can't really publish the rest as they have munchkin posing away like a Parisienne on the ramp!) taken from my brand new iPhone!!

WOOHOO!

I am going to be good and focus on the fact that I am actually holding an iPhone in my hand and enjoying the features it offers me than complain about how the idiot at the att store held onto my phone for 5 full days without calling me, and how the customer service sucked big time and how rude folks really are out there!

..and o - the few who have my number, you are hereby given permission to call me ūüôā

Moving on, evening conversation at home.

Me walking into the house singing and brandishing the iPhone in my hand: Woohoo, I have my iPhone, I have my iPhone...

Daughter: Let me see.

Munchkin: I want to see too!

Husband: Did you break it already? oh okay, there's still time?

Son to daughter: Mom is such a baby! She won't let you touch it! Am serious, just try taking it from her. Just yank it!

Husband: Okay folks, the thing costs a fortune, no yanking absolutely!

Munchkin: Mommy, can I see the iPhone?

Mom: No munchkin.

Daughter: Mom, look at the poor baby, she's asking so nicely too! Let me see it!

Me: No guys, not a soul's touching it. Let me figure this thing out.

Daughter: That's my point. Let me do it for you.

Son: Yeah mom, it will be a whole lot easier I assure you.

Husband: Yea, just hand it to munchkin, she can sync things up for you by the time you open that manual and search for stuff.

Me: Argh! I so can do it myself!

Son: Sure mom, who helped you dial pinni (my sister) in the car?

Me: That's coz I was driving! Not coz I didn't know how to dial!!

Daughter: That's what they all say...

Munchkin: Mommmyyyy, pleasesse can I see it? Please?

Me: Munchkin, just wait a bit, let me set things up and then you can see okay?

Son: Sheesh mom, you don't follow what you preach. Share, you know what that means?

Me: That's it, shush up all of you and no one dare come and bother me!

*off I march into the study to sync stuff up to the Mac*

Daughter: gee mom, what a baby!

Munchkin following me on her toes and in her sweetest sugary princess voice: Please mom, can I just touch it once? Please? I will share my gum with you?

Me: Munchkin, no.

Munchkin silently stands there staring at me. She then places her hands on her hips and continues to glare. It was getting icy cold in that tiny room.

Me: Alright munchkin, I will let you look at it, but first I need to do some things with it.

Munchkin: What things?

Me: Just things.

Munchkin: Mom. This is not fair.

Me: I know baby. Life isn't.

Munchkin: Huh? what did you say?

Me: I said, Wait. You need to learn patience. Let me finish first. Mom needs to play with this first.

Munchkin rolls her eyes: Mom! How old are you?

Me: eh?

Munchkin: No, tell me how old are you? Are you 4? or are you 34?

Has an exasperated look on her face and makes a scene of walking in a huff towards the door. Stops, turns around: Mommy, you are not 4. I am 4. You are a people, a person, like big person. You are not a baby. I am the baby. I need to play with the iPhone not you! Gosh! I am not going to be your friend ever ever again!

Stomps out of the room, while I continue to sit there and play.

Dear munchkin, your mom is a kid alright, ask anyone, they'll tell you!

 

 

 

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munchies

Over the last week Ive discovered that the munchkin can yield a pencil like a natural. She draws perfect round golgoppa type circles, and keys in laddoo shaped eyes with perfect sticks for eyelashes. For the most part the pictures either are me or her sister, and she even shapes in the daughter's rectangular glasses.

Today while I was hammering away a comment somewhere, munchkin droned on like a bee:
"I want to draw mommy, gimme paper and pen."
"Ok, here's a paper" *handing her a one-sided sheet, did I tell you I hate wasting papers?*
"Not this one, I want a new one."
"fine, here's a book, and here's a pencil"
"MOM!"
"what?"
"I said, I want pen, not pencil"

Long story short, she finally started work on the sheet with a pencil that looked like a pen; and unlike how you, me and mere mortals draw, with the sheet laying flat on the floor with us bending all over it and smudging every little mark, she stands facing the wall, and with a serious concentrated pursed lip and scribbles away. The sheet's laying flat against the wall, and the pencil's moving with ferocious speeds. I think to myself, if not anything she'd make a good elementary school teacher!

I get back to emails. I am hardly done with one, when she flashes the paper brilliantly under my nose. This is what she drew.

I thought the expression was priceless, and continuing to flatter myself said:
"Nice picture munchkin, so my eyes look that big?"
"Mommy, those are my eyes." *in a solemn patient tone*
"oh, okay. You are smiling?"
She nods.
"What are those sticks on either side of your face?"
"They are my hands."

*okayyy, this is what happens when too many people pinch little girls cheeks. The girls imagine hands sprouting out of them*

"so whats all these long lines on either side of you?"
"That's my longggggg Ju" *ju is short for juttu, which means "hair" in telugu*

..and that's when I felt a little pang for snipping her hair off. *sigh. Curse the damn job, the drive and me leaving before she wakes up*

"but you don't have long Ju right?"
"but I want me to have long ju, just like Ariel and Cinderella. Don't cut my hair ever ever ever again ok, or I won't be your friend?"
"Okay, I promise I won't" Laughing, I kiss her on her upper lip.
"Mommy, are you being a boy?!"

?! *argh*

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petty crime

Remember the times when we have indulged in something bad, really bad and felt like a criminal. The time when you jumped over a fence to get to mangoes, or the blatant lie you said looking right into your mom's eyes without flinching or how about the time you swiped a fancy scented eraser from that spiteful neighbor at school who refused to share it with you? Despite how much ever we thought that we'd get deep fried in steaming hot oil in hell or that we'd be born a dung beetle in our next life there was a smug satisfaction of being not-good. Flouting rules and the thrill of getting caught more than qualified for the sin we were committing. They were petty little acts of defiance, propelled by an inner desire to achieve something. Right from the sour tasting mangoes to the triumphant smile on seeing a bully cry.

Now how about the times when you actually committed a "crime" unknowingly and stood mortified and aghast at what you were capable of? Such experiences usually descend on us grown-ups. As kids, the world was our loot. As adults, there are boundaries, rules, public eye, the policying, the keeping up of appearances and at the end of the day our own damned conscience to answer to. When it mocks and calls you nothing more than a common thief, a petty criminal. A few weeks ago, yours truly was an active participant in a blatant crime. It's a miracle am running scot-free and not been reprimanded at the local courts. Really.

Remember the rushed Saturday, and the 10.15 am meet with the Noble King?

So as luck would have it, it was a cold, gray day with a steady drizzle to boot. I bundled the girls up and drove into the King's driveway on the dot at 10.17 am [yeayea, 2 minutes is still on the dot!]. Felt happy that I made it on time and especially more so thrilled on realizing that we could very well be the first one to arrive on the scene. I chase the daughter to run up ahead and ring the bell, while cursing the rain making ringlets of my finely smoothed hair, I try convincing the munchkin to get down. She makes a big to-do on "doing it all by myself" and refuses to jump out quick enough. Finally, scooped her and ran up the stairs to the door.

I ask the daughter "Did you ring a couple of times?"

"Yeah"

So I push the buzzer once again, and put my ear to the door. Daughter's giving me the wide-eyed look. Munchkin's looking into the sky and feeling quite thrilled she's in her thin stockings and huge big dots of darker spots were appearing fast on them. She's even stuck a pink tongue out into the sky for fun.

I try the knob. It opens. I push the daughter in.

"Mom, shouldn't we be waiting?"

"Oh, he's expecting us. Just step in already, we are getting drenched."

We enter, and I shut the door behind us. The living area of the house is one level up. So as soon as we stumble in, there is a short flight of stairs, a landing and then another few steps up into the living room. We stand huddled at the bottom, cramped amongst the couple's shoes and our own. I put munchkin down, and start heading up. Daughter's still shuffling her feet, and munchkin's behind me.

The place is quiet. All of us are straining and looking up hoping to see a familiar face appear. Any face, as a matter of fact. By now, I've reached the top of the stairs. I pop my head in around the corner, and I see toys scattered, the lights on and I hear silence with the hum of the humidifier on the background. I am on the very top of the stairs, with the daughter almost with one foot out of the door, and the munchkin between us.

Whispers get loud, and I ask:

"I don't see anyone. Do you think all are upstairs or something?"

"I donno! Why you asking me?"

"er, coz no one else is around!" Pause. "Are you sure this is the house though? I don't remember the couches being blue. Maybe not, the toy chest is in the same place. Curtains seem familiar and ...

Daughter interrupting "MOM! Of course it's the house. Look at the picture there!" Pointing to a Ganesha picture on the wall at the landing.

"Yea right! That helps. Every second house is a desi in this place!"

She glares at me. 

I start rambling again "So what do we do? Should I just call his name, coz 'Hello' isn't helping?! Maybe you should shout the son's name? You know him right? "

"I know his name, but I am NOT going to go calling the kid. Maybe we should just step out and wait till someone shows up. Just where are you going? Mom! Oh Great! Look at munchkin!"

I turn around. Munchkin's settled quite comfortably on the landing. Her shoes are removed and placed neatly next to the King's shoes. She's taken her jacket off and hung it on the stairs, is settled crosslegged in the middle of the landing, has her ziploc bag of cheerios open and is digging right in. Shocked at the comfortable scene she's created, I now was beginning to get desperate.

Lightbulb moment and I decide to call him. Realize that I didn't exactly have his number in my cell, and it was still somewhere in my inbox, and I didn't know anyone else who knew it either. Flip the phone and see that I have a 'missed call'  at 8.30 am and it's a familiar number. There's a voice message too, but then I have this thing about messages - I don't listen to them. I call folks right back, why call voicemail only to hear "call me when you get this message" which is what it is for the most part. So I hit dial.

All three of us jump out of our skins.

Like programmed robots. The shrill phone in the King's house went off. Frantically, I turn it off, worried that I've probably woken up the neighborhood [really, it was that loud!], and secretly hoping it's woken the homeowners up at least. But no, not a single pip from anywhere, no hurried shuffling feet, no kid's screams "Let me answer the phone!"; nothing.

I realize the prudent wise thing to do would be to listen to his voice mail and dial to hear the King's voice start off apologetically asking if we could shift our meet 45 minutes later... I don't wait to hear the end of it. I say aloud:

"Uh-UH! He isn't home!"

Daughter's quite mad at me by now "Mom! I told you! This is just perfect. Just perfect! I am going to wait for you in the car. Bye." Off she takes off only to ping pong right back as I try to stuff munchkin back in her jacket with her hand full of cheerios. Dropped a few in place, and I wished I had a couple of more hands to pick up the shoes and everything else that I schlepped. Munchkin's wondering what's happening and she declares "But mommy, I don't want to go home."

Daughter in a controlled voice "Give me the keys."

In the shuffle, I drop the keys making a loud clanking sound, and she says "It's a good thing they aren't dog-lovers!" before she stomps out.

I manage to hurry the munchkin out, and scoot back into the car. Buckle her and fall into our seats. Daughter in her normal stable mind tells me calmly : "I think you should go lock that door, not all petty criminals are going to be nice like us!".  So I step out yet again, rush up, turn the catch around and slam the door again before piling into the car. Again.  

Taking in the last few minutes, daughter and I start giggling, of embarrassment, cold and the ridiculousness of it all. Munchkin's wailing "I don't want to go home".

"Mom, that was just not funny! We practically broke into his house! Imagine if he had ADT!"

"I know! That would have been fun what with all the cop cars around us. Our moment of fame."

"Yea sure! So where is he anyway?"

"oh right, the voice mail, let me listen." Sitting in the driveway my eyes widen with every word he speaks. The man has taken his son to the doctor and so wanted to meet us later. He left a detailed message couple of hours ahead of time.

"Mom, you so totally broke into his house!"

"I did not! The door was open!"

"But how could they have left the door unlocked?!"

"oh, they'd have driven out through the garage right?"

"Right." She parrots again "You so totally broke in! haha"

" hey, wait a second, if I broke in, so did you!"

"No way, you led the way, and am a child with a guardian, you are the one in trouble. In any case, where did the mom go?"

"To the doctor's right?"

"But why would all the three go? They aren't visiting the park right?"

....I explained the phenomenon of single kids and close-knit families as I drove off with a protesting munchkin kicking the seat with all fury, in search of gas, as it was running dangerously low and I sure didn't want to be a criminal who broke into someone's home and then got caught with no gas to hit.

There's more such follies but that would be part 2.

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mom'bable

6.30 pm - Home

Getting dressed to go to a friend's place for a Satyanarayana Pooja. Almost done, and in a sari, wrapping up. Munchkin walks in. Widens her eyes and smiles and says

"mommy, you so mombabel"

"eh? say that again?"

"mombabel. You looking so cute and mombabel"

"oh! what's mombabel?"

"you know, like, see, like we say dora-babel"

"Dora? oh, like Dora?! haha, thanks munchkin!" *feeling happy I solved the lingo*

Munchkin slaps her forehead, rolls her eyes and places her hands on her hips and says: "Mom. Listen to me. Come down here."

"hmm.. ok" Kneeling down.

Cupping my face "not Dora mom. Remember akka says and you say? To me? A - do - ra- bable - that one. You are a mommy, so you are Mom-ba-bel!"

Laughing, I hug her and walk down the stairs. Compliments rare and sweet in nature make me feel all giddy! The most I've gotten from the husband's been a raise of an eyebrow, and a nod of the head with a smile before he'd rush me out of the house. The older ones have said some stuff, but nothing as made up as a mom-bable.

Then I got greedy.

Related the whole story to the three in the family room, and made the munchkin say it again. In a good mood, she relents and repeats. She loves the attention she's created.

After the repeat - son and daughter start laughing.

Daughter says to the son "You're also thinking the same right? "

Son" Yeah!" *giggle giggle* and then at me "But mom seriously, for a second I thought munchkin said "you're abominable"

Daughter guffawing like crazy "haha, I know. Mom's abominable" giggling and cackling uncontrollably.

Husband in a Buddha role enjoying it all silently.

Munchkin looks at them both and then at me and says "Gosh, stop it guys!" and stomps off to find her shoes, shouting back at the husband "Daddy, are we going yet?".

***

Yeah, I know, we ought have our own show!

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rebound

*on reading this again, it reads like chicken soup for a mom's soul, and it's long, so beware. :--)

***

After a particularly bad afternoon feeling crappy and so many of you being such nice souls and providing some much needed kind words, I came home to an extremely conflicting schedule. Daughter had her Band recital precisely overlapping Son's basketball all-star championship game. Husband had forgotten the schedule and I had 35 minutes to make a snack to sustain us all till 9pm when dinner can magically was to land on our plates, and shuttle them to their individual places.

After the daughter got into her uniform - which is quite smart btw, nice long black skirt, white long sleeved shirt with a maroon cummerbund and a black bowtie, that warranted a "ooo, akka, you look so pretty" from munchkin, I managed to stuff half a fajita down her throat before we rushed out to her school 20 minutes before showtime as scheduled. Came back home, stuffed another fajita and a glass of milk down son's throat, a yogurt into munchkin's [she's been stealthily hoarding up on cheetos sitting in the corner of the couch hidden from all], tried to convince son that wearing a bright yellow shirt under a bright robin blue jersey with black shorts was nothing short of screaming for attention on a grayed basketball court, only to get a reply "Of course I want everyone to watch me play, I rock!".

The plan was to watch daughter play her flute in first chair for 15 minutes and then drive out to son's game who also had to be 30 minutes ahead of time. Husband was to pick up daughter at the end of her recital and then head to the game.

Band, Orchestra and String concerts are part of the spring mania that takes over this time of the year at all local schools. As part of the county's curriculum [and I am sure all of United States], all kids, starting from 3rd grade have to choose a musical instrument and learn the notes and well, play it. It's the best thing ever. Fantastic!

The daughter started off with Viola for 3 years and then 2 years since is playing the Flute. The son has been playing the Viola for 3 years now. As with different levels of mastery over a talent, the county and schools offer opportunities for the kids to race ahead based on their interest. With increasing challenges come increasing commitments of interest, time and most importantly practice sessions. Based on the kind of instrument, the kids are divided up into different groups. Strings is obviously string instruments, and Band would have the rest, along with percussions. As they grow older, they merge and re-arrange based on a whole bunch of stuff I am clueless about. The interesting part is this is one area where I don't have to say a word. They like their choices and enjoy spending time in the evenings locked in their rooms, as the notes and music fill the house.

The daughter plays in the Band. She got the coveted first chair, which means she'd worked her way up from 4th chair at the beginning of the year. There were at least 12 different instruments that various 12 year olds were perched on. Saxophone, flute, drums, and more. I have been attending concerts such as these since they were in 3rd grade. All 3rd, 4th, 5th graders get together to put up this show a few times in the year. Holidays, Spring and then the Annual one. Everytime I listen to these concerts, I choke. Everytime. The music these little kids are capable of creating in unison is nothing short of divine. Music, I believe is overpowering even to the tone deaf. In symphony, it creates a wave within you, while you watch serious intent 8, 9, 10 year olds with so much concentration and excitement watch their notes and follow the hands of their music teacher to start, stop and pick up on cue as they flood the entire hall and the parents with what is, really, their own.

For obvious reasons the older they get, the more commanding, powerful and intricate the music pieces get. The pieces range according to the season; fun, serious, playful, deep and even dark. All dressed in white shirts and black pants/skirts, they look like miniatures of the professionals we admire. Their music is no less. When the final long difficult piece is done, there is a moment of hush in the audience before it resounds with claps and cheers. Encores are not uncommon during the holidays, while parts of the audience sings along. Music teachers are awe-worthy.

I couldn't stay till the end and rushed out to another local school that housed the championship basketball game. basketball's been the sport of the home since 1st grade. Both kids have been playing it for 6-7 years now and enjoy it tremendously. The way it works is this, our area is divided into counties. Each county will have a set of leagues. Each league will have at least 8-12 teams based on coaches availability and kids enrolled. The coaches are all volunteer dads and moms who commit to couple of hours a week to train the 10 individuals to become a team. So through the season, each team will practice and face off one other team over a Saturday game and keep score and tally to finally be the winner of each league. 2 players will be selected out of each team to go forth and form the All-Star team. All-Star teams from different leagues battle out for the championship. Two players are again chosen to represent the county.

The daughter has played for the county the last 2 years and the son's been an All-star for 3 years now. I've tried to go cheer for their teams as much as I can, but since munchkin it's become a bit difficult to attend almost all, and there are days when the schedules overlap that the husband and I are forced to drive different directions with a kid in tow. The daughter used to be gentle and ladylike intially, almost to the point that if some bigger girl stood in her face she'd say "here, take the ball" to being nick-named "elbow" - yes, she actually elbows out opponents and is not scared of fouls. The turnaround happened somewhere a few years ago when to get her to be more aggressive the husband suggested her to pretend that every player on the opposing team was her brother. It worked! Son of course dreams, eats, breathes basketball, so apart from his knees troubling him this season as he put on 4 inches over the summer, the guy pummels and owns the court. Being the tallest 11 year old helps.

Yesterday's game was nail-biting. Boys games usually are. Well, actually this season the daughter's team had some strong players and it did get vicious, but for the most part, while girls games are "sneaky" and ridden with "steals" including tears and drama, boys are fast-paced, high-scoring, tons of fouls and injuries. So what's new eh? :--)

Though we live in an area that has high desi and asian population, games are usually the domain of the whites and blacks. You'd see very few asians making it up the ladder, and I have no idea why! We on the other hand rule in the geek squad area - MathCounts, MathOlympiads, LegoLeagues and Chess. In a sea of whites and blacks, I was the lone desi jumping up and down. The 1st quarter was a disaster for our team and then the tide turned, and baskets kept happening through the 2nd and 3rd quarter. The dodges, steals, rebounds, and fouls layered on each other on both sides. Obviously the two were the strongest in the area and each edged over the other by single points. Since it was the final game of the league, the school gym was packed with folks other than the immediate families of the boys playing. There was a whole lot of cheering and screaming to boost morale, which really as most players and spectators know can do wonders to the spirit of the team. Apart from just one injury when one kid got hit in the groin [I know, the poor chap!] the boys continued on with gusto, cheering and hi-fi'ing on the court.

Sports like music is an all-time leveler. The boys knew each other only for the past 2 weeks as each came from different teams, and despite that the team spirit and the coach's enthusiasm was palpable. We lost by one point despite making a basket in the last 30 seconds, and the score drew at 46-45, a score that's actually quite low for the team. Goes to prove that it was a tough game.

Came home tired, hoarse and hungry, but happy.

Rebounds are good. Even in basketball.

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on loyalties

Recently this word has been circling in my head. It came out of the blue and it's refusing to leave. One of those times when there's a bee in your bonnet , and refuses to get thrown out unless you stare it in the face, and listen to it. Not that am huge or low on loyalty, but it just came up. Like a bad penny. More similar words crept up. Faithful, Staunch, Resolute, Conscientious.

Definitions of Loyalties spanned and defined itself as feelings that one has towards a group, affiliation, cause, or product. For some reason I've almost always associated Loyalty towards a country. Recently of course, I've allowed it to include to the Redskins, Giants, and the Indian Cricket Team. Apart from such huger ideals and significances in our lives, I have also come to realize that Loyalty somehow along the way has become a virtue. Not an essential, but a virtue that some may or may not strive for.

Does it matter, to be loyal to your favorite breakfast cereal, I'd imagine it would be more of a habit than loyalty. Does it matter whom you defend in the elections coz of who they are, and not for what they stand? That's of larger things we speak.

In normal everyday life, does loyalty matter? As adults, do we make a conscious effort to strive and remain true to what we believe despite the inconveniences it may land us in. Is it something that we have sub-consciously grown out of? Thinking back, as children it didn't matter how the outcome affected us, we liked something, we loved it, we stood by it. You cheer for it when the goings good, and you mope when it's down. As versatile the child's brain is, so it is resilient.

Lofty words, meanings, rationalisations. As adults, we can just about rationalise anything, and any behavior ours or others to make it work for us. It requires a little switch of of the view and a healthy dose of self-preservation. The Id  races ahead of it all.

If someone thought the above was deep, am sorry, but those few lines above is what I mean by classic BS.  Id has nothing to do with Loyalty! At least I don't think so. It's a rambling thought process..

On a quest of understanding the whole meaning behind why one would hold onto an idea, a cause despite common sense propelling the person to head towards the exit, I could only chalk it to the feelings of being true, being faithful, being loyal and above all following your inner voice.  

loyalty as the willingness to make an investment or personal sacrifice to strengthen a relationship.

I liked this line. It suits me. Satisfies me and rationalises my behavior, and behaviors of a few others around me.

Like for example this is what happened Sunday morning on our way back from Chinmaya mission.

Family of 5 settled in and driving home. Music starts. Its a collection of recent hindi hits.

Son: Can we change the CD pleeeeaaaaase?
Daughter: No way! I like this song. [Soulful Saawariya songs are her thing now]
Son: No, it's boring, can we listen to the radio at least? Just switch to CD 3 otherwise. Please mom?
Mom: Ok, wait till this song is over? [am partial to the songs too]
Husband: Son, We are almost home. Can we just let the girls be?
Son: arghhh!

10 seconds later.

Munchkin: Dad, please can we change the CD?
Daughter: O, comon! We are almost home ok?
Munchkin: [higher pitch and with a pout] Pleaaase dad. Change the CD? Please please please?
Husband: [a sucker for the pout and munchkin's please, looks at me] Change it, how can I deny her look, look at her face. [gleaming fatherly pride through the rearview]
Daughter: arghhhhh
Me: Ok fine!

[Music changes]

Munchkin: [Turns her neck around to look at bro] Are you happy now Anna?
Daughter - ohmygod! That is so not fair!!! You don't even like this music!
Husband and I: [Exchange looks in stupified astonishment and well, for the lack of any better reaction, laugh, grin and pull into the driveway.]

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a fall moment

Ticket to petting zoo - $18
Feeding bottle - $1.50
Carousel ride - $0.75

Sharing it all with munchkin while calling in "sick" - Priceless.

 

Some things time can buy, for the rest there's munchkin

feeding_piggy.jpg

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a wedding and a toast

Since I have been harping non-stop on this friend's wedding and the pre-wedding events for some time to come, figured I'd go ahead and spend a few minutes on the cutesy stuff.. Also, a few "kids" have been complaining on the rated stuff Ive been posting of late, figured this raconte would do us all a world of good.

So the friend's wedding over last weekend, was a simple, cozy, closed affair. Everyone knew almost everyone, not crowded and enough room for everyone to co-mingle and enjoy the day. And what a day that turned out to be?! Gorgeous sunny, with a light breeze, blue skies, pleasant late 60's - perfect.

The baraat was just plain enjoyable for all of the above reasons included.

The backdrop colors the bride picked were beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful. The mandap was a bright orange and fuschia with off-white and gold work, just simple 4 panels framing the centerstage. The same setting transformed magically for the evening with the lights, colors, chandeliers, the orange and fuschia tablecloths with lilies and lotuses as centerpieces. Placed strategically at the entrances were a group of high kuthuvizhakkus [long kerala style brass lamps] with lotus stems swirling around them set on a complicated pieces of rangoli.

An elegant blend of her malabar and his punjabi heritage.

Just realized that the photographer - Regeti - has posted the snaps on his blog, so here you go. I know Regeti since a few years now and he's helped me with putting together portfolios, fashion shoots of all the girls [and few more] you see in the pictures during fashion shows I've organised around the area. He's a creative arty guy with an eye for latent beauty and creates bewitching frames, and his wife's so much fun - that when we get together, it's like a little laugh riot! So yes, it was nice to know that he was the official photographer for her wedding. She was once his (my) model and that surely shows in the pictures. Beautiful aren't they? ūüôā

So, anyways, on how my day went.

For starters - the munchkin dressed in all her finery in silk skirt, bangles and right down to the paper jasmines on her extra long false braid and little kuppelu/kunjalam/parandi at the end, ran all around the place happily getting into people's ways and spreading more cheer and laughter to all around.

At opportune moments she would decide to visit the restroom - 5 times to be precise in 2 hours. How do I know it's 5? Coz I counted. Coz there were 5 stalls and each time she used a different one. That's how I know.

..and there she'd be fascinated with the fluffy white towels, the fragrant soap "smells soo good mommy, here, smell. Smellll, I said Smell!" everytime! Insist on standing on the counter so she could check herself out, and make sure her choker was around her neck tight, and her papidibilla/tikka sat in place, insist on some more lipstick [read chapstick], switch bangles between hands each time coz she has learnt to count and by freak luck, i could manage only 11 on one side and 12 on the other. So each of her hand got to play turns in sharing the single odd one!

In between tending to diva and her divaness, I managed to get hired to do a 'joote de do' loot! The original bridesmaid for the job had to do something else and I was next in line. So I stealthily walked up to the mandap and draped my beautiful moss green pallu over the pair and thought I'd make a smooth exit, when bam! I run into this huge old man. He was standing watching me and was waiting to trap me by blocking off the entrance. His wife or someone who could fit that role, runs up and starts ribbing me in an attempt to tickle [?] me perhaps so i'd drop the pair?!!

excuse me?!
Seriously did she really think a grown woman would get tickled in the middle of all the noise and people? So, after I managed to actually stand there unfazed while I stared right back at her waddly frame, and gave her and her 3 other helps who'd formed a barricade, the slip [I mean, I don't dance for nothing, gotta help me somewhere!] scuttle off through a hidden door, the jutis were safely deposited in a pram for the time being with a strong guard of various sizes of women around, and due $ were collected later on. Mission Accomplished!

Evening was fun and magical. Yes, that's the right word. Magical.
The ambience, the mood, the sentiment in various forms, it was an evening to remember for a long time. I am not even going to get into the details and try putting it all in words as am pretty sure I won't find the right words, or worse yet I'd spoil it.

Maybe it was the fact that she's a good friend, maybe it is the fact that am at a vulnerable moment in my life when romance and love does mean a thing, maybe it was the mood, or maybe it was my personal creation of the toast, as I read it along with a friend, my hand shook, and my voice quivered for an instant.

As the spotlight fell on me standing in front of the bride and her beau, and while words rang in the hushed audience, my voice came out soft yet clear. Their eyes conveyed what I wanted to hear and that was in my way a meaningful gift I could ever give them.

Here is what I composed and read:

As the glistening lights fade
The music comes down to a sway
Flowers from your braid
Have done their job for the day

It will be just you and he
A moment in time
A whirlwind quite sublime

Step hand in hand
As you walk towards your sacred land
A shine in your eye
A whisper on your lips
A bond beyond all highs

A friend
A partner
A husband and a wife
Names do differ
The knot yet remains the same

Our girl is a fine doll
Eyes bright and wide
A smile beaming with pride
As she becomes one with you
In mind body and soul

Walk forth dear lovers at heart
The magic has just begun
A passion that’s sure to shame the sun

As we gather to wish this young couple
Raise your glass with a smile
For this is the day they become one in Style.

:

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munchkin

happy birthday dear munchkin

happy birthday to our sweetkin

another year has gone by

with you in our lives

so much fun

none to be outdone

a treasure you are

a little shiny star

I remember the pink toes

your daddy's sharp nose

I shed a tear

as the doctor spoke of repair

my beautiful baby

so perfect

how could anyone dare

suggest a

defect.

Your dad and I

didn't lose faith

you were our little angel

So here you are

3 times all over

crown princess of the family

we couldn't have it any other way

At the beck of a call

your brother jumps at your every word small

your sister is the new me

a mommy in glee

You are a brat, a smart cutie

having your daddy around your little pinkie

Less said the better about me,

am just a hopeless mommy!

Happy birthday sweetie.

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verse 1

A squeal and a jump
Quick shuffling to the door
Always on cue
As the chime hits its shrill notes four

A sparkle
A widening to a grin
Loaded
The man scoops his adorable win

Porcelain arms
Chain the bronze neck
Hugs and kisses all around
With no one to keep it in check

Eyes mirror the love
When joy takes on a different hue
It seems sweet and simple
When you hear a ‚ÄúDaddy I love you‚ÄĚ!

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maro pose!

Following Orchid's post on 'got mischief' figured just as well post one on the same lines.

Thats my munchkin maroing pose in Mommy's very expensive Dior - which by the way has been now condemned to the toy chest. I sobbed over it a few days but everytime I see this pic, am gleefully grinning. Talk about mixed emotions! The purse behind her was also originally mine, now taken over by the little pink monster.

Plan to post more frequently now that I have all the time in the world. Yayy!

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a new year..

..and already there's so much to do. I can't believe the calendar is full of little notes in blue, red and pink with appointments and events to rush to.

Between the flu, travel and coloring the walls, the holidays seem to have disappeared. Now it's back to the grind with a hoarse throat, furniture everywhere but where it's supposed to be, bags still laying unpacked.

I sound like a hunky dude on the phone - not that there's anything wrong with that ūüėČ but when your own kid doesn't recognize you it's time to worry. My morbid curiosity got the better of me and I compared throats. The insides I mean. Mine looks awful, red and quite close to a bumpy Mars surface, while the rest looked smooth as baby's bottom. Ok, wrong visual here, but you get the point.

A little worried on the terracotta I chose for the living and dining areas... now I need to go buy more lights to light up a dark space that was quite bright in the 1st place. Am telling you, colors and paints are one tricky affair.

Saw a few movies. Blood Diamond, Don and Khosla ka Ghosla. Plan to review them shortly. Each had a charm of its own.

Don't have any major resolutions for the New year's mainly coz I know am not much of a stickler for them. I do have a few things that I need to seriously work on and hoping a master plan sitting on the refrigerator is motivation enough.

One of our friend's husband passed away on Jan 1st. Sweet man, and up until Thursday he was running around doing his active thing. A stress test on Friday caused them to operate on Saturday, from which he never really made it. A little reality that made us stop and reflect a bit on New Years.

Went to the temple on the 1st evening and got a kick out of seeing my munchkin pray. As in I tell her "that's Hanuman jeja, can you do namaskaram?" She'd fold her hands and close her eyes for a few seconds and look o-so-serious, with just the slightest of bowing of her head. Her curly hair in a tight knot high on top of her head bob ever so cutely with the way she stomps off from one deity to another. It was fun just watching her.

It's a balmy 60 degrees out here. We can officially claim to be "globally warmed".

Hope everyone's had a great fresh new start. Happy New Year folks!

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mantra of my life..

these days

"do you have to go potty?"
"pee-pee coming?"
"where do you go if pee-pee is coming?"
"are you a big girl?"
"big girls don't wear diapers"

and the varied answers I get

"pee-pee potty" *announcing to her siblings*
"noooooo" *shaking her head violently*
"oh-oh, pee-pee commmminggg" *shocked expression, caught unawares*
"S do pee-pee theyee?" *sing-song question*
"mama, i do poo-poo potty" *screaming at the top of her lungs*
"i did it mama, i did it" *gleeful*
"_________" *stares right back in defiance*
"_________" *stares back after the job is done [not in the potty] with tears welling*

Wonder if the mantra works, and if so when would I get moksham?

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dandia 06

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It was awesome. 4 hours non-stop, sweated buckets, laughed and danced the night away.

The best part of it all was the little one keeping her finery on and not ripping it off or complaining about it from 5 in the evening till we reached home past midnight. I almost dread her teen years. ūüėź

A lovely end to Navratri celebration.

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decipher these words?

Updated at 6 pm eastern

mamma = mom, mummy
dada = daddy
akka = akka , sister
anna = brother
dydy = DVD - she is hooked to 'em
pesil = pencil
lala = shower
bubu = bottle, milk especially
yum = yummy snacks or candy
gape = grapes -esp red
jakkit = jacket
shu = shoe
banky = blanket - the fluffy ones
sok = socks
yeg = egg - scrambled egg
seet = sit
jus = juice
pian = piano
pupu = poopoo - u don't want to know!
uggy = hug
pytti = pretty - used at least 10 times in a day!
ju = juttu as in hair in telugu
keem = cream as in moisturizer
pantt = pants
upp = upstairs
avvo = hello - her style is unimaginable!
bayyybi = baby in tv, book, wherever
baanii = barney - the purple dinosaur
diapehh = diaper

ūüôā

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