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S and A have had their sudden growth spurts in the last few months! S seems to have entered her Tweens and A is already a pre-schooler! S turned 8 in Dec (I had to change ‘this month’ to Dec, just shows how long this post has been in drafts!! ) and it doesnt require a special mention that she was waiting for this a long time and from the first of the month, she has been excited about her big day!! She had a deal with us that instead of a party, she would get an Ipad and after her deal was final, whenever she saw something she liked she would be like if I had a party, may be I would have got this and may be now that I dont have a party, you can remember and get this for my next birthday! She had a quiet birthday, I had a treasure hunt organized for her with my dear friend G’s help and she loved it! A was all the more excited and he thought it was his bday too! S loved her gifts and she celebrated her bday with her two close friends going to a movie and with a sleepover.

A has become one smart cookie, knows all his alphabets, he doesn’t say M for W or W for M anymore, he seems to have mastered his letters and numbers! He has even started identifying the double digit numbers , mostly just 95, 43 – the Cars 2 movie car numbers! So I dont have to feel guilty anymore about not teaching him anything, he seems to learn on his own! ๐Ÿ™‚ So at his daycare, they have moved him to the Preschool section though he is not yet three! They say he is boredย  to spend time with little toddlers and is ready to move up! The only thing that was stopping them from moving him last year itself, is that he isn’t potty trained yet! Like how he learnt his alphabets, I am waiting for some magic to occur so hez suddenly trained! So far it hasn’t happened but am still keeping my fingers crossed! After a particularly smelly poop, he says ‘Oh my goodness, Amma, come with me to the bathroom!’.. At least he is repulsed enough to change immediately. Also he uses potty term quite loosely when he is not ready to leave for school. He would say, I need to go potty and sit in the can leisurely singing his songs!!! I would be late for a call and would be shouting at him to be done already and he will be then say, it is not yet time and leave the bathroom!! ๐Ÿ™‚

You ask the duo to search for say a missing remote, S would just pretend to search moving from couch to couch and A would move in the room, literally calling out ‘Remote, where are you? ‘ , with his hands in his face, calling out gesture!! At times I wonder if they make fun of me in their own way. They always seem to be conspiring against me and my DH! I am just glad they get along well enough to at least team against us… ๐Ÿ™‚ S gets mad at A when she has her friends for playdates or sleepovers when they just adore A and not play with her.. They want to include A but clearly that’s not S’s idea of an ideal play date, so she complains to me that I should take him out when she is with her friends!

I went on an onsite trip for a work week and was away from the duo for 5 days; I did find out one thing, that I have been overrating my importance in the family! My DH had done an amazing job handling the kids and they dint skip school or even one extra curricular class that week and anytime I called he sounded so calm, unlike me who would be at the end of wits when he goes on business trips. A cried a little on the first day, but then he just got adjusted, I tried not to talk to him over phone. Now whenever I trouble him with food, he says Amma you go to Columbus! ๐Ÿ™‚ So now he thinks he can actually get rid of me this way!! S has her own email id now, that she uses with our supervision. She sent cute emails to me when I was away!! Love her little chat messages that she sends from her laptop (our old one that she uses). She had also left a very nice miss you and love you note in my luggage for me to find when I was there. I showed it around to everyone at work proudly!! When A met me at the airport, he was overwhelmed with emotion and kept kissing my hand all the way back home. It was such a lovely feeling to be missed and loved by him! Halfway home, he did realize suddenly and asked me for the gifts I promised before I left. ๐Ÿ™‚

It has been so long since I started this post and right now I can almost say, the potty train has left our home!! ๐Ÿ™‚ A is potty trained and wears pull-ups only for his naps and that too for our sake!! He has become a private person and the minute he enters the bathroom, he would be like, Shoo Shoo Amma, Go away, I will call you when am done! ๐Ÿ™‚ He has become one ‘Mr. Talkative’ and talks for hrs together, he launches his cars from a rocket (S’s pencil box) and shouts a countdown sequence followed by ‘Blast Off’.. S admires his talking and tells me ‘Can you believe we were worried about him not talking at 18 months?’ It feels good to know that she was concerned too and that she is such a good big sister appreciating all his milestones!

This year on A’s birthday S has two competitions and even the small party we may have it is going to be either before or after his birthday. The ever thoughtful S says she is ready to pull out of the competition for his birthday sake. When I told her it is okay, she says we would be a little harsh on A when he keeps running around in the competition area. She doesn’t think it is fair on her part to give him a hard time on his birthday! That was the sweetest thing she has ever said as a big sis so far!! I am really proud of her and I don’t know what we are doing, I think we should continue the same, so the kids remain thoughtful! ๐Ÿ™‚

S proved once again that she is a super girl by performing in the Minnesota kids nite organized by friends here in the twin cities. She hardly practiced at home but rendered a very confident performance at the show. The best part was when she actually slipped in a place, but rolled her eyes are though it was a technical difficulty of the Karaoke track! She made us proud and we were beaming!ย  Seeing her performance, her piano teacher has told she has to sing when she plays her piano from now on and she is progressing at a very fast pace in her Piano too!

S had to move schools yet again due to our home move and as always she embraced change so easily, I got to learn that from her, how she is able to see the positives of a move and get on so easily. I am still missing our old neighborhood but she has made so many new friends in her school and she is also placed in a gifted and talented classroom and her teacher thinks she is AWESOME!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ A loves S’s new school and keeps telling he wants to go to that school though he has to wait for 2 more years! Inspite of our move, we are still sending A to his old pre school as unlike S he wouldnt appreciate a change that well and I dont want all the potty training efforts to backfire if he is not comfortable at a new place. A loves his teacher Kelsey so much that he even picks up Tshirts in the morning and says ‘Ms. Kelsey likes this shirt and I have to wear it to school’!! So unless Ms. Kelsey moves to a school in our neighborhood it is going to be difficult to pull him away!

This morning at the dining table I was feeding him lunch and had to step out to take a phone call. When I was back I saw him playing with some quarters and dimes and when I fed him the next mouth, he stops me saying, ‘Amma, I am not paying money for food’. So much for maternal love, he thinks I am running a cafeteria! ๐Ÿ™‚

Life is true unadulterated bliss with the duo around!! Love them both to the moon and back…..

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Remember the book I read earlier and reviewed – Sisters by Rosamund Lupton, now there is another book from the same author – Afterwards and it was an awesome read! Rosamund Lupton has a way with her narration and it is a very interesting thriller and the drama in the relationship between a daughter and her mother is beautiful. I connected a lot with the protagonist for the simple reason that we both have an elder daughter and a younger son! The mother in me appealed to the mother in the book, trying to protect her kids traveling any length, read it again, ‘any length’, both the mother Grace and the daughter Jenny who succumb to injuries due to an arson attack at the local school, have an ‘out-of-body’ experience and know the facts that they can’t tell anyone, uncover evidence that they can’t share. However strange this may sound, the book is undeniable engrossing at the least!! I think the worst thing that can happen beyond losing your life, is to linger around in the World watching your loved ones grieve over you. I do hope, I am a good enough soul to head straight to heaven or in the other extreme, head straight to hell! BTW S thinks Hell is a very bad swear word and keeps questioning why it is so…ย  I have earlier told her that hell was the lowest floor of Heaven, as I did not want her to think God sends people to a bad place, so I cant really tell her why it is thought as a bad word here.ย  I just tell her culturally there are certain sensitive words and this is one such. I remember during my first trip to the US in 2000, my Mormon colleague flinch when I used the word damn in a meeting!!

Iย  read ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry, a Dickens style story telling and it was unputdownable, and you would feel like living in India in the 1970s and would shed a tear at every atrocity committed to your friends in the book, by the so-called authorities or high class folks. The story is a snapshot of a year of life of 4 individuals whose paths cross in an unnamed Indian city. Mistry spares no crude details when he sets about explaining the unjustness the protagonists face. It is an epic in its own way and moves the reader, however grief-striken the reader would become, there is no way he can stop reading the book, excellent narration by Mistry, a tapestry depicting the extreme emotions – happiness to misery and you would be amazed. The book is set in the Emergency period in India during Indira Gandhi’s rule and after the book, I now have officially few more reasons as to why I hate that family. My worst fear always has been to be at the receiving end of an officer who abuses his power. Though you may have grown in a country where abuse of power is nothing new and corruption existsย  at all levels, as long as you only read it in books and in the news, you are oblivious to it. But this book really shook me at various levels and was ashamed at the abuse of the caste system introduced in the Aryan period. The system I still believe has its own merits and it made sense at that time, but later the system was SO abused that it is our Indian version of holocaust and even decades later, the current generation faces the after-effects.

After the heavy book, I needed a light reading and started ‘Magic hour’ by Kristin Hannah. I am really warming up to Kristin Hannah’s writing, hers are kind of chic novels but I love the way she carries the story lines and the emotions that run through the story. This book is about a wild child who comes out to the city and how a Psychiatrist Doctor works with the feral child and introduces the World to her. You can’t but fall in love with that child and appreciate how she survived the trials and the tribulations since she was abducted and left in the wilds. She is more comfortable with wolves, dogs and birds that humans. I have Kristin Hannah marked as one of my go-to authors when I need a satisfying read without too much depth…

Another interesting book that I read recently is ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery.This philosophical fiction is full of allusions and is set around the life of aย  concierge of a posh Parisian apartment, who is actually the ‘Hedgehog’ – elegant and so much level-headed in the inside but her outward appearance to the onlookers is just another boring under-class worker, just like the actual Hedgehog. A twelve year old girl who is intelligent beyond her yearsย  is frustrated with the mundane life hates the hypocrisy of those around her and thinks taking her life is a suitable end to her meaningless life and the impossible charade of living among foolish humans and this girl Paloma strikes an unexpected friendship with the concierge Renee and uncovers Renee’s true self. The funny and touching story is narrated by these two characters Renee and Paloma and though they are generations apart and from entirely different social backgrounds, they have more in common as they interact with each other. Right when Renee is ready to come out of her shell and enjoy, meets a tragic end but she already convinces Paloma from taking her life. There is a Japanese business-man who befriends the two narrators and he brings the best out of the two characters too. Overall it was a good read, not your over-your-head philosophy. You can relate to the typical stereo-typing that exists in the society and also learn new insights from every page of the book.

After a long wait, got my hands of the Iconic Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson andย  I loved the book. There was just plain truths and no effort to hide the “negative” side of Jobs, and any additional effort to further idolize Jobs and I was impressed at how S Jobs went after the person who he thought was ideal for his biography, he dint want to leave that to chance either! True perfectionist he was!! Also if he had truly not read the book before it was published, my respect for him would only grow abound. How could he not have been curious to know what his friends and enemies would have to say about him and how could he be perfectly alright with anything they could have said! One thing that stood out throughout was the melancholy you cannot ignore that this great man no longer lives among us, so what if he was arrogant, I dont care, he was a TRUE visionary and he redefined creativity. Ofcourse he had the support, and the team of A-players. But he was the one who got the A-players to realize their best potential and that in itself is an achievement. I am going to get my own copy of the book and after reading this book, I ended up getting an Iphone. I have been staying away from post-paid plans and even a smart phone for so long inspite of my DH’s insistence and at last S Jobs changed my mind and I wanted a part of his creation in my possession! And during thanksgiving, I ended up even replacing our Samsung Galaxy Tab with an Ipad! ๐Ÿ™‚

Read the autobiography of Andrew Agassi – Open, last week. I started the book with mixed feelings, my DH has very strong opinions about Agassi and they are not pretty and I have been quite influenced by them as well. So wasn’t sure if I would like to read his book, but my dearest friend suggested that I read it and I couldn’t say No! But I was glad I picked it up, though I haven’t changed 360 degree in my opinion about him, but I am starting to give some benefit of doubt to him.ย  I cant believe he actually thought he can lead a private life and have no one interpreting his actions, once you become a public figure, there will always be someone second guessing you all the time.. So it is a little difficult to digest when he totally blames the press for defining him and later calling his ‘supposedly’ formation of his personality as ‘transformation’.ย  But I have to be frank, this book while I was reading it made me think about it all the time and thought S should read it when she is older, not to know about Agassi but to read a personal voyage of a kid from Vegas to nowhere to the Altar and can be an inspiring book for the teenagers!

Of course as always, there are few more books I would like to discuss but they have to wait for a later date. ๐Ÿ™‚

A has become an eloquent speaker in the last few months. He has something to say at every instance. The moment we park our van and we get down,ย  you can hear him say “What about me?” as though we would abandon him in the van and go away! He asks questions about everything, has started addressing every one by full name and has best buddies at school. Loves to go to school and alternates the toy he takes to school, Mater one day, and Mc Queen the other day. Another standard part of his dressing, is the floppy Thomas, the tank engine hat he just doesn’t part with. He even wears it at bedtime! Disney has taken over our household completely – only this time it is all Disney boy characters. Cars 2 Diapers, Toy story blankets and all t shirts and even night suits sporting Disney characters.

S is enjoyed her summer, reading books by dozens, watching 2-3 movies a week and occasionally at my insistence studied Tamil! I got her into blogging, to encourage her to try comprehension and improve her vocabulary. Here is her blog Summer Rocks . When I suggested to her that she can even review the books she reads, she shot right back that she does not have to do everything the way I do! I knew when to backoff, I just had one condition that she has to run everything by me before she posts anything and that seemed a bottle neck for her, she had a long post “Always Annoying A” about her brother and since I blocked her from posting it, she has stopped working on her blog as a protest, anyway summer is over and school has started. So may be theย Summer Rocks will return next summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

The best thing during summer was when my sister’s family visited us and it was lovely to see the cousins get together and enjoy!! It was a delight to listen to my nephew A’s British accent and S tried her hand at the accent and even now her favorite pastime is to talk in British accent in public places and make people wonder if she is visiting! She finds it very amusing!ย  S learned Ayarpadi Maaligaiyil song from her favorite uncle and after they left, she learnt the song by heart listening to SPB in Youtube!!

S made us very proud by singing the song at a light music event in local temple here, her very first attempt at Karaoke and she NAILED it!! I was really not sure if she will pull it off, that is sing on her own without cues to begin at the right spots. Being a music illiterate myself, I just offered her the smart phone with markers to be played in a video, but she refused it! The best part was when in that entire crowd, her eyes were only on me as she sung. It was as though my little girl was giving me a solo performance on stage. She sang so gracefully, tilting ever so slightly side to side, smiling and her rendition sounded so confident!! I knew she was scared of the crowd, but no one could have sensed it. I was beaming ear to ear as she looked at me and sang. Only later did I realize may be she thought this meant so much to me, so channeled all her attention on me and was expecting my approval whenever she completed a stanza.ย  I hope I am not turning out to be neurotic mom to her and she has to stretch herself to make me happy. Oh my goodness, Parenting is so difficult, the moment you stress your kid to give the best, it may seem pushy, if you try to tell the kid it is okay not to be first always, you are underestimating the kid and not believing in her! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was just a year back, I wrote aboutย S’s playdates just soon after she started her schooling here, and now A who is not yet 3 has started getting invitations for play dates. He has two close friends at school, C and G and the three are referred to as theย  3 Musketeers and are partners-in-crime!! Seems G has been asking his mom to have A over and the coming Sunday will be A’s first play date and more than him, I am psyched!!ย  My little boy is GROWINGGG…. There is a cute little girl D in his class and when I ask him if she is his friend too, he feels offended and says, “No Mama, she is a GIRL”.. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will not forget to quote this line, when he grows up and has his share of GFs!

A has trouble pronouncing ‘F’ and now that he is such a talker it is very funny to hear him say words with F. Like in the morning, he would ask me, “Are you drinking COSSEE Amma?” and later to his dad, “Are you going to OSSICE?”. He asks questions about everything and anything, on the way from his daycare, he would talk non-stop about what happened during his day and if there are any pauses in the middle, he will immediately ask if we know who is going in the car in the next lane. If we answer in negative, he would answer. “Amma, it is SOMEBODY in the car!” as though SOMEBODY is someone he knows. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ever since A noticed S taking lunch to school, he has been packing his lunch to daycare too! He has this cute Winnie Pooh bag that was a gift to him and he carries all his cars in that to school everyday. He not longer carries just one toy to school, he chooses the toys privileged enough to go with him to school and he packs them in the bag and then comes to the kitchen for his lunch! It is a staple Chapathi – Indian bread lunch for him. His teachers say he loves the fact that he has his SPECIAL lunch and finishes this before he touches the food offered by the daycare! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anything to make my little boy gain some weight. He has been maintaining his weight for so long that I wonder when he is going to cross that magic number he seems to love..ย  The breakfast of the month is now Pancakes, I love the way he asks me for pancakes, with a twirl as he says CAKESย  and also eats them only if it is in the shape of Mickey/Minnie Mouse. No other shape is accepted!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried sneaking some strawberries in it today and I was busted. He refused to even touch them saying the color was not right. Make new pancakes – was the verdict passed! It is SO difficult to fool him!

A is a very orderly person and right around 8.45, he would stop whatever he is doing and say not he is sleepy but ” I have to be sleeping now in the bed” as if everything would be affected if he isnt in bed by 9… He will start packing his again ‘chosen’ toys, pack them in the bag and take them to the bed. The stuffed mickey mouse and Goofy are no longer the pillow pets, now he takes his race track and his cars in the bagย  and right next to where he sleeps, he would park all his cars in an orderly fashion, set the bag next to them and then lie down to sleep! Then I need to read 2-3 books to him and he would insist I do not do anything else when I read and have to keep looking at him too! And just before he would start sleeping, he would jump on to my lap(yes, he hasn’t outgrown my lap yet) and then I have to sing the lullaby that I have made up for him. He will bid me to sing ‘HIS SONG’ and suddenly in the middle he may prompt me to sing ‘S’s song’ where her name would be substituted in the song where all i do is praise the duo.. ๐Ÿ™‚ What all you end up doing to appease your kids!!!

Here is the picture of his bed tonight, you can notice how neatly he has set the cars down in a row! ๐Ÿ™‚

S has moved to a gaming class room this year and loves to go to school everyday. Much to my disappointment, even this year she is not bringing back any homework and they have Nintendo DSs in her class! She learns multiplication with the game “Times Attack” and reads book online and her reading levels are judged in the computer! I don’t even understand how all this will work, I just hope she learns something new at the end of the school year! ๐Ÿ™‚ Needless to say, her class teacher is such a hit in the school and kids love to be in that class and S feels very happy she is part of the special class!!

She is now into Enid Blyton – Famous Five series and Nancy Drew stories and is ready to read some classics and not just American kid fiction – Dork Diaries and Diaries of the Wimpy kid series she read over and over as if to memorize every page!! She dint warm up to Tom Sawyer and H Finn though I kept telling her how much I used to love them as a kid. ๐Ÿ™‚ In her reading skills, she is several grades above her peers and reads herself to sleep everyday. She doesn’t leave the house without a book in hand and I am so much reminded of my school days!! Those days we had to fight for time to get to story books as we had so much homework from school and I even remember sneaking storybooks in my school books to read. But now, we end up downloading books in Kindle when S finishes the library books!
S’s goes to an Indian school on Saturdays to learn about India and Indian languages and I have volunteered to be the Social Studies teacher this year there and S loves that I am her teacher and shows much enthusiasm at the class. I am happy it is working well, but I end up listening to her advices at the end of the day where she points out where I can better myself. She even told me the other day that I should not encourage the kids to shout out the answers once a kid or two has already raised their hand to answer, because that would discourage the kids who were interested to answer in the first place! Sure enough, I hadn’t thought about that, so I was glad she pointed it out to me! Overall we seem to be getting along well after the rough summer where we spent most of the days together and most days ended with fights and my DH had to mediate between us!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Whatever trials and tribulations I may face daily, it is a blessing to be parenting S and A and they are such wonderful kids!! Love them so much that my heart aches…ย  Oh and as always I find it hard to stop once I start!!! I guess the rest have to wait for another post! Been typing for a long time now.. So long Amigos….

It has been ages since I posted… Summer is keeping us very busy and not to mention engaging the ever energetic kids – one at home enjoying her summer holidays… It is highly impossible to keep her entertained all day! We are checking out library books in dozens every few days in a week and still she completes them all and is ready for more! ๐Ÿ™‚ So you can imagine how depleted my available time would become to keep her from cribbing about spending her summer with me at home. I thought I was doing her a favor by having her at home apparently not according to her! ๐Ÿ™‚

My dear friend R sent over the much-talked about Immortals of Meluga book to me and another friend here, had the next book with her so it was a jackpot for me to read the first two books of Shiva Trilogy one after the other… Amish Patel has done a great job giving an all new perception to the Hindu mythology (?!) surrounding Lord Shiva. I liked the way he had tied the Sun and Moon Dynasties and also had explanation for the Gods that had a different look with animal heads or multiple hands. Very few fiction writers can produce this kind of complex drama based on mythology, rarer still is that this is a debut novel. So Kudos to Amish!

I have always felt Gods belonged to a race superior to mankind, kind of like super humans who preceded us and during the transition stage is when the super humans were documented as Gods for the religions to flourish. To me this appeals more to my common sense and that doesnt mean I am an atheist. Certain thoughts are best compartmentalized in yourself and to me religion is one such topic. The brain in me looks for logical explanations like Gods as super humans who designed the wonders of the world.ย  The heart and the soul in me still fasts every Thursday as a reminder to my body to meditate over God in the form that appeals to me the most. I still play Suprabhatham and Vishnu Sahasranaman in the mornings and truly believe Sanskrit to be a superior language that doesn’t just convey meaningful thoughts but also triggers positive vibrations and cleanses the place where Sanskrit is spoken. I believe Sanskrit was devised as a language so it will be easier to propagate. That is why, the fights in our epics where just utterance of a Sanskrit Manthra before releasing the arrow, released such energy to affect the intended victim. ๐Ÿ™‚

Growingย  up I was quite impressionable when it came to Religion and Spirituality and was always intrigued by anything to do with it. I started my schooling in a Christian school and by the time I was in my seventh grade, my grandmother was worried that I would soon become a Christian, in fact at that stage, I was a Hindu in just my name! I did not use bindis, bangles or earrings and would take candles to the School chapel on the day of my exams and take the melted wax from the candle to the exam hall!! I think Iย  kind of overdid myself when I started comparing Old and the New testaments and reporting them to my dad. At that point, my parents decided they have had enough and shifted me to an Hindu school!ย  The new school environment was a 360 degree turn from my old school and it took me a while to get acclimatized. And pretty soon, I started visiting Sri Ramakrishna Mutt in Mylapore very regularly and much to my parent’s amazement, there were Vivekananda posters in our bedroom and all the books I won as prizes from the school were either Gospels or teachings of theย  trio I still respect and admire – Sri Ramakrishnar/Sri Sarada Devi/Swami Vivekananda.

Apart from the mandated school visits, I started visiting the Ashram on my own with my friends and I also enrolled in VYASS – Vivekananda Youth Association for Service and Spirituality. Every Sunday afternoon, I used to spend at the Ashram debating the multi-facets of Vedanta satisfying the Spirituality part of the Group purposeย  and visiting orphanages and Government hospitals and taking part in voluntary services at those sites, for the Service part! I really loved reading books on Vedanta in the Library and though I did not know what I was learning, I was becoming more and more inquisitive of Adhvaitha philosophy which helped later in my life. I will get to that in a while.ย  I remember spending 5 days of a beautiful summer at a Youth camp held in Kodaikanal and how I got my father’s permission for that. I wrote a very touchy note requesting his permission and kept it in his lunch box, so he would discover that at his work and will have time to think about it without categorically saying No. And it worked!! I never imagined my parents would send me off to a Youth camp on my own with other VYASS members at the age of 15! May be I was a trust-worthy kid!

I remember how confused I felt when on the bus to Kodaikanal from Chennai, while the Swamijis who were chaperoning us were dozing in the front seats, the Vivekananda college students were singing cine songs in an Anthakshari game. Those were the Annas and Akkas I thought were so spiritually inclined! It was quite a learning curve for me, that it is is normal to behave normal too! Anyway it was an amazing camp, meeting teens from all over India and having very healthy debates and discussions. I was particularly psyched when a quote from me was selected to be published in the “Vedanta Weekly” in the Ramakrishna Mutt.ย  I hope I retained a copy of it. It would have been my first published material! Later there were many All India Youth camp right in Chennai that I attended too. Every time I used to be back from such camps, my parents would love me, as I would be in the BEST behavior till all that I learnt wear off slowly! Then I would pick up the books to refresh again! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway after one such camps, I came home all excited and told my mom that I found my destiny and that it was to join Sri Sarada mutt, she was absolutely aghast! She was like what did I pull my daughter from and where is she going!!

My parents sat with me and told me to complete my schooling and then college and even at that stage if I still feel the same way about joining the Mutt, they would consider. I still look back and appreciate the non-panic mode they were in, and how they let me come out of it on my own.. After schooling I joined Ethiraj College and my visits to the Mutt kind of dwindled and I decided I was wrong about my earlier vocation. ๐Ÿ™‚ In the later years, when I asked my dad how he was able to handle my eccentricities, his simple answer was he felt better off with my spiritual inclinations than the other kind of infatuations that he had expected of me at that age!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway till I met my hubby I had little time to read more on the Spiritual literature. And you would think how Spirituality is connected to meeting the love of your life! It would, if you end up getting married to a person from aย  ‘different’ sect. When I knew I was getting married to an Iyengar guy, and how difficult it was for elders to digest even that, I ended up finding out how different we were. I found that the basic difference is not in the Gods but in the philosophy you were expected to follow. I truly believe I can be born to an Iyer family – followers of Advaitha philosophy and still be convinced with Vishishtadhvaitha philosophy and follow that. So that would make me an Iyengar technically! The same is true for an Iyengar who believes more in Advaitha philosophy. I also learnt, Shiva and Vishnu were just favorite Gods of the protagonists who propagated the respective philosophies and nothing suggests that followers of Advaitha philosophy should be devotees of Shiva and Vishishtadhvaitha, Vishnu. I do not speak of these lightly but with conviction because I did read a lot from both the philosophies.

Anyway I do not want to dwell too much in this , just that religion to me is nothing but love but most loveless acts originate from the so called religions these days, making one question even the validity of such religions. If you hurt someone physically or mentally in the name of religion that makes you an outcast and not a follower according to me. Who are we mortals to compare one God to another and think you are superior just because you follow one God versus another person who follows another God. Is it not true that all paths lead to the same destination? While you are on the path, how would you know you are on the right or even the faster path till you reach the destination, so how can you feel empowered enough to point out other person’s way as wrong! It never stops to stun me, these eccentricities in the humankind!!!

It just seems so recently that my DH and I used to spell words so S wouldn’t understand what we were discussing, like if we want to suggest going out for dinner, we would go ‘Do you want to G-O O-U-T for D-I-N-N-E-R?”, so in case we both don’t agree, we wouldn’t have gotten S all excited!! And now S does the same thing to me all the time when she doesn’t want A to know what we are discussing!! It is amazing how time flies so fast!!

A is becoming such a naughty little boy with all DESTRUCTIVE personality!! He steps on the stepping stool, reaches for spices and throws them down the kitchen floor and also offers to clean-up messing it more! I have to be more innovative about hiding sharp and hot stuff from him. And it doesn’t help that he improvises on his plan every time, there is a continuous improvement process set in his ways! ๐Ÿ™‚

A is again mirroring S when it comes to dressing, yeah, a pretty strange thing to say about a boy, but that is the truth, may be my son will be a well-dressed handsome boy and that may be his trump card to impress girls! ๐Ÿ™‚ If he is around as I fold our washed laundry, he would end up changing T shirts as I pick a new one he likes from the lot.ย  And choosing the night suit is the toughest time, he cant decide which night suit he wants, the Thomas one or the CARS one or the Mickey mouse one! Most days his shirt will be a character and the pant would be another, if he is not able to decide on one!

S is totally into writing poems and songs and even composes tunes for her songs.. So apart from the little notes she leaves all around the house, she also surprises us with poems in every genre based on her mood! She strongly thinks her poems should rhyme, so she somehow logically ties her thoughts to rhyme! I am just so proud of her…. Here is the latest letter she gave me, when she was trying to placate me after a bad fight between us! Oh yeah, we fight a lot these days too!! It all seems like a prelude to the teenage years ahead…

Also I shared one of S’s funny posters at the blog http://www.stuffkidswrite.com and it got published. here is the link to it http://stuffkidswrite.com/2012/05/01/have-your-kids-get-better-grades/ . She had this poster at A’s birthday party so she can raise money for her Ipad. And she meant $10 and not 1 cent, she messed up with the decimal point and she regrets it so much now and believes parents would now ask her to teach their kids for 12 cents a year and not 120$ as she had planned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Whenever I start singing a nursery rhyme for A, he immediately says “STOP it Amma, put it in youtube”.. He has become a Youtube Whiz kid, knows exactly which ‘Wheels on the bus’ he likes, once we choose a link, he knows the exact link he wants to see next… I dont think I should feel proud about exposing him so much to computers, but I do need to take care of the household too!! Gone are the days when we used to tell S to not bother him, it is not always A who is after S troubling her when she is doing her homework or even studying.. So this is the sure shot way to make A busy, once we switch on the laptop. That too, he is very specific that we use only the home laptop and none of the work ones…:) He has this little quirks that make him adorable! One such quirk is that he would pick up the door we have to open when we are at any two door entrance. We can only open the door he points to, if by mistake we open the other one, he would just stand right where he is and will wait till we open the door he pointed to…

Also I don’t believe A will be a great fan of sharing either, even if I so much as try to login to my DH’s laptop he would stop me saying it is Pa’s laptop and lead me by hand to my laptop and ask me to use it. Same with the library books. it is so uncanny how he remembers who reads the book first, and in case the other one picks up the same book, it cannot be done when A is around because he would say, it is Amma’s book and take it away from my DH or the other way around.. He watches all our stuff and makes sure we don’t share! ๐Ÿ™‚ If I really annoy him or may be feed him food when he doesn’t feel like, he would point to the Kitchen and say ‘ Go to Kitchen, Amma’. It is ironic that my boy thinks Kitchen is my room and that once I am busy there, I would not bother him anymore…

This morning I was combing S’s hair and she kept complaining that I was hurting her, so I gave her a little mommy speech about how there is so much more in life and how she should be more tolerant to pain and hurt… S’s response to me verbatim is ‘Oh, I know at some point there will be hurt from romance andย  I know about it but is there anything else I need to be worried about?’ I was shocked but still I asked her to elaborate without showing her my shock, she was like “You know I may like a boy or someone may like me, if we don’t have the same feelings we may get hurt… I think I owe it to the various Disney Soaps she watches, that my little girl at 7 has learnt more about life than she should be knowing right now!ย  Oh then again, the very few Desi movies she has seen too apparently has taught her lots! I was watching Friend’s episode where Rachel Greene delivers her baby and I immediately switched channels, and asked S to stop looking at the TV and work on the problem I had given her, her reply was ” Amma, I have already seen it. Remember the three idiots movie.. ” I just dismissed that comment and moved on! ๐Ÿ™‚ Do I have any other choice??

A just turned 2 couple of weeks back and is ‘Officially’ now into the terrible two’s though unofficially he has been there for a few months now.. We had a Disney Cars themed party and he loved the decorations and the cake… Of course as he hates to get messy at anytime, the moment the icing got stuck in his finger, he froze during cake cutting till his finger was cleaned with a tissue. He sure is one funny boy!! It is also extremely funny how he lines up all his cars/trucks anything with wheels as in a garage and uses the toy car remote key on them and pretends the work.

S appeared in a Carnatic music festival competition here in the town and I just signed her up for experience as it is just months since we started regular lessons for her. I coached her on how she should introduce herself and the Geetham she is to sing and we worked on it the day before the competition so much. But she woke up with a strained voice and a bad cold on the day of the competition. Still we took her and she was the first to be called upon. One of the judges asked her what she was going to sing and she just answered him and straight off started the Geetham without the introductions and the Aalab that preludes it. She did do a good job but I was plenty upset with her for not listening to me and disregarding all that I taught her. We stayed back for the next 10 participants who were all good and did the introduction and everything well. On the way back home, we were doing a postmortem of all that went wrong that morning and believe me, drawing limits on parenting and being nice all the time is difficult. I was upset more because, in spite of the good job she did she was going to miss all the points for presentation.. Anyway we did not take her to the prize announcement ceremony the next day and guess what happened, she did win the third prize among the 25 participants and most of the others were much older to her as well. Now she has a Trophy that says Carnatic Star and she had a smug smile on her face all the day, but she was nice enough not to tell me “See Lady, what happened?” but “May be I would have got the first prize if I had done what you told me to”. So that is my sweet girl S!

I think I should be more regular atleast with the Antics series. I have written quite a lot and still there is so much more to share! ๐Ÿ™‚

‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett is a brilliant novel that revolves around the racial discrimination as it existed in the 1960s in the Southern states of the US. I realized I had a dark side in me when I read the book.. As much as my heart went out to the colored people who faced all the terrible discrimination and segregation at the hands of the so-called ‘higher’ class house wives, I enjoyed the fact that it was not just in India, the discrimination had existed and I realized I was entirely wrong to have felt ashamed at what had transpired centuries earlier in my country, thinking how can my fellow country men have been so blind. I dont know where the mistake lies, and why our educational system and our media and our political leaders till date, project only our discrimination in the poorest light and my generation as we grew up had a loss of pride for the shameful acts and discrimination in terms of working classes and religion. I still agree they were wrong, but singularly it was not only us and just because a wrong thing existed everywhere doesn’t make it right.ย  It is just that you accept it with a pinch of salt that we were also not spared as a country, as you read books from every part of the world, you would realize that the discrimination has existed EVERYWHERE in the world!

The author Kathryn Stockett wrote the book just as any other fiction, there is no depth in the novel, it is just plain sad to read how the Southerners treated their folk who ‘helped’ them run their households. And one thing that really set me wondering about the authenticity of the plot is how only women were shown in the poor light and men were totally excluded in the story. It is as though men folk did not have anything to do with the atrocity and that is not right. Anyway this book got me to pick up another novel – a real life story of what happened in Little Rock, Arkansas when desegregation of Public schools happened for the first time. The book ‘Elizabeth and Hazel – Two women of Little Rock’ again turned me very sad and made me ponder over the supremacy that people seemed to gain by just having a different melanin content in their skin.

‘Home Front’ by Kristin Hannah was a good read and it moved me to tears at many parts in the story. It was a beautiful story of two female friends who lived as neighbors, both serving in the military and how different their families regarded them. Reading up-close about the transitions in the personality of people from deployment was difficult to digest, and I would hate a country that would put me in such a position betraying my own family and for leaving me with nightmares about a lost-cause fight in a foreign country. Why should my country be the savior of all the people destitute across the world! Anyway it is not my fight or my country in question, so I cant wager this war. And I guess I am being very vocal about some of my strong feelings in this post, so I better collect myself before I go out of control.

Moving on from heavy subjects, if you are looking for a fresh thriller, you should pick up ‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton. You would love the eloquent, pitch-perfect writing of Rosamund Lupton and she beautifully creates characters who are as vividly alive in your mind as many other real people. The story is about two entirely different characters but very close sisters andย  how the elder sister Bee doesnt accept her younger sister Tess’s ‘suicide’ and how she unravels the mystery. Surprises await at every turn and the climax was UNBELIEVABLE. I thank my dear friend Janani for suggesting this awesome novel of such a high caliber. It is a must-read…

I recently read again ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ and fell in love with the impeccable story telling style of Audrey Niffenegger. This book appeals to the hopeless romantic in me and it is such a beautiful love story though presented as a complicated fiction too, and how I wish I had met my DH when I was 5 years and hold on, I like that part but do not want the time traveling boy friend part though, in my real life.ย  I just can’t believe how patiently she stays behind and waits for him to come back every time. It is a LOVELY tale and my brief summary can do no justice to the story. I cant wait for S to grow old enough to read this book!

This, by far would I guess be my shortest post,ย  I have been adding a line here and there for 10 days now and I better publish this post today..ย  Life is getting busy with the warmer weather!!

I have been a slacker mom these days! It feels awful to be a bad mom, I mean the one role I really cherish and thank God everyday for, if I cant keep up this role, what am I doing really?? have no clue really.. Anyway it is all due to the work pressure and also the sudden fitness rage I am in, so the evenings when I spend time with the kids are spent at the fitness center with the kids either at the pool or at the Kids daycare.ย  All this is however just my ramblings, my happy kids are not bothered by my absences and are busy in their own way. In fact it makes me wonder if parenting is overrated and as long as the basic needs are met, the kids just grow on their own and build their own personalities with no interference from either parents. ๐Ÿ™‚ A point worth pondering for a later day…

A is getting to be more and more independent and is even showing signs of being ready for potty training but it is me who is not taking the initiative to support him!! He is getting to be such a stickler for routines, and doesn’t want them upset in any way. He even has the order in which I should dress him for outside, the jacket first, then the gloves, that too right hand followed by left and then the cap. If I change any of this, he protests! ๐Ÿ™‚ And the minute he comes home, he goes to the closet to change from his outside clothes. In many ways he is so much like my DH and so we have S who is like me not that organized and A like V, totally freaking out with changes to routines

Some day last week, S was ready for school a full 10 minutes early and I thought why not comb her hair! Yes, S just leaves her hair down and claims that she does comb but it never looks like that. But I don’t bother much as anyway with her cap or the hoodie on, it would get ruffled anyway. S got a set of very cute small crab clips from my SIL, so I was just parting her hair in small bunches and used the crab clips generously! It looked quite cute and she was like awww it is so nice Amma. She then said, since it suited her very well, it would suit her daughter as well, so was wondering if I could save those clips for her and pass them to her when she has her daughter and she also wanted me to teach her to do that as well so she can repeat this to her daughter! I was like you just turned 7 Maam! But the best is yet to come, she stopped her talk for a moment and said she had the most brilliant idea ever. And that brilliant idea was to have me born as her daughter in my next life so she doesn’t have to even talk about me and I would know all about me and S when she was my daughter. I had nothing more to add and thankfully the conversation ended as she had to leave then to catch the school bus.

A has his own laptop, a hand-me-down from my DH.. He watches his favorite videos on the laptop, and gets very upset when the laptop hangs up on him!! The other day the system crashed, he was pointing his finger at the laptop and shouted, ‘BAD JOBBB’. It was so cute to watch him do that.. Hez getting very vocal and expressive and very cutely chants ‘Momma Momma’ when I get down from the car say for a quick errand, and keeps chanting much to S and my DH’s dismay, till I get back! At times, A would say “YES” when I ask him if he is ready for lunch, and when he ends up seeing ‘the lunch’ and realizes he really doesn’t want it, would start shouting “No YES Amma” repeatedly!! ๐Ÿ™‚

S’s seriously into writing in her diary daily these days and makes such a fuss even if one of us get near it by mistake. But the other day she graciously gave me and my DH one-day passes to look into her diary. The pass even had an expiration date and what to do if it gets misplaced! ๐Ÿ™‚ She is reading this Wonders of the World book and is totally hooked onto the Mount Everest and she told me she was going to write a ‘biography’ on the Mount Everest! She is also working on her own dictionary, writing all the new words she is learning cataloged into her notebook as in a dictionary.

S is in the girl scouts and understandably the last few weeks were busy for us with all the cookie-selling. She acted like totally an ambassador for girl scouts and were even coaxing people who said they already had bought from some other girl, she was quick to add, that girl scout cookies were good to be frozen and can be had even 6 months later! She was also addressing the nut allergic, calorie conscious crowd as well.ย  She started selling the cookies around Valentine’s day and was trying to convince people that the cookies would make good Valentine day gift to friends and family! It was really funny watching her achieve her sales goal..

Last week, I had been to her school to meet her teacher for the II semester assessment. S was preparing me the whole day and wanted to know what would I discuss with the teacher. She was also giving offhand remarks about the reflections they do at school when someone does a bad job and she said her teacher may bring that up! I never knew she had reflections till then, so asked her what hers would be about, she was like nothing significant amma just a couple of times when I was chitchatting during activity and stuff like that. She also suggested to me that she will ask her teacher to add a goal for her to not exceed 10 reflections this year she already has 6 and that leaves only 4 more for the rest of the year. She was quite upset later in the evening, when she realized her teacher had not planned to bring about her reflections at all as they were quite minor. She felt she jumped guns unnecessarily!ย  Her teacher and I had quite a laugh about it!

S’s teacher was showcasing to me all that had been worked upon that semester and she showed me a chart with S’s essay on what all she would do if she is elected to be the President. Her teacher pointed out how sensible her points were starting from giving homes to homeless people, and writing laws about not allowing anyone to use swear words ever.ย  She did have a bullet point about building her own ‘WHITE HOUSE’ though!! Then came the most surprising part, looks like all kids had a draft notice first before redoing it in the chart paper. She showed her draft from her journal at school and her draft of things she would do when she becomes the President ran to FOUR whole A4 size sheets! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Both her teacher and I were surprised!! I heard for the second time now from her II grade teacher that S does have ‘President’ material and she may become one in India or here in the US! ๐Ÿ™‚ The first time I heard someone tell me S would one day be the President of India was her daycare teacher when she was 3 yrs old; when I laughed at her teacher’s suggestion, her day care teacher ended our Parent-Teacher conference by saying a prayer to God to help us – S’s parents, recognize the potential in S. ๐Ÿ™‚

We went to A’s daycare for his conference as well last week and that was quite interesting too! The teacher said he is really getting ready to play with other kids, but he is so sophisticated than other kids in the sense that when the kids fight, he moves away, doesn’t want to get messy even during the MESSY play time! The minute his hands become dirty with paint or play dough, he immediately asks the teacher to wash his hands and then all he does is watch others like a big man! His teacher also said, he is so hung up on routines and will wait for his hands to be washed right after his meal and also wait for his teacher to wash her hands! He never forgets a thing and makes sure he brings home anything that he has taken to school that morning. And here his sister S even forgot to bring her school bag from school the other day! ๐Ÿ™‚ It is funny to watch such contrast in them! I guess God just wanted our lives to be interesting all the time, making them both out of entirely different molds!

My in-laws are here with us and both the kids are having lots of fun with them! There is nothing like the pampering you receive from grand parents and they are now enjoying all the extra attention!!