Thursday, June 7, 2018

Happy - Sad ! The new household word

I believe every household has it own set of unique words that get used. Some of it makes perfect sense while others are just for the family.
We have several of them in the Joel household. Starting from pet names all the way to code words for the big and small job. Well the big and small job are not really much of code words.
Pet names were created by dad who so dislikes second names. Bumbaloos and Tutoos for the two munchkins.
We also adopted words from some of our favorite shows - like Zrrrbbbtt from the 'Cosby show'. Zrbbttt aka Strawberry kisses.
But this recent one 'Happy- Sad' is probably my favorite. It started with when we got deep into Missionary stories with homeschool. I think it was two years ago that I was reading to Isaac 'Missionary Stories with the Millers'. I usually am a relatively emotionless person. But this one story got to me and as the story ended I was crying.
Are you sad Amma?
And I got a much needed hug.
A few days later we were watching a video by Samsung. The one with the blind kids :)

Again I was in tears.
Amma you are sad?
No :). I am Happy sad.

And just like it became a household word. Every time I cried after that, for stories I read or videos we watched together, I was asked
Amma are you Happy Sad?

Yesterday we watched this video

And again I got all teary!  Maybe because I feel to some extent I have sucked out the color from my kids lives. Because I also recently feel drained of any color!
Amma are you Happy Sad
Kind of !
So to we decide to do a Happy sad emoji :)


Friday, April 6, 2018

My theory on the neverending wish list of my second born #ziva, #second #mine

I am a second born kid. Suresh is one too. This means we both have a sibling older than us. I am really glad because we kind of figure out the reason for why our second born behaves a certain way sometimes. SOMETIMES.
We have been seeing for a while now how Ziva is always asking for something. We have done our absolute level best to ensure that we treat both of them equally. But I think the inequality creeped in anyway when Ziva was born 1 year and 10 months later.
A few days ago, Ziva walked down the stairs after a shower with a shorts and the tshirt and someone who was sitting at our table waiting for lunch called out ‘HI! You are wearing Isaac’s clothes’. She looked down at herself and said as confidently as she could ‘No I am not!’. But the truth was she was! I felt a pang of guilt. I also realized that Ziva had a lot of hand me downs. Not crummy ones but still they were a seconds ... used. I really have no problem with seconds. I personally used to love wearing my cousins and sisters hand me downs. But I think somewhere along, this trade down of items causes a bit of a scar.
To talk about clothes alone, it seems like Ziva has a lot of clothes and Isaac too few. But if you look closely a lot of what Ziva has is mainly hand me downs. Including from cousins. A few months ago when we visited my sister, she took Isaac and Ziva to the hypermart to buy some color books and pencils. (We had left our pencil box and book bag on our flight to Mumbai). Isaac walked in and bought one drawing book and one set of color pencils. My sister asked him if he wanted a fancy pencil box or a bag or anything. He held his drawing book and said, ‘This is all I need’. Ziva on the other hand needed no coaxing. She soon had picked up a pink bag a pencil box, crayons etc.
I honestly find it hard that I raised both of them in the same household, with the same facilities. Yet my little girl had chosen to pick up random stuff that she probably never would use. I think all she wanted was something that someone bought just for her! Not a hand me down, not a second thought. Just for her!

Wearing Isaac's swim clothes

The theory of and downside of hand me downs: If its clothes, they rarely fit properly. They almost are never the color you like. This works very heavily especially if one person is a pink lover and the other a green lover. If toys or other items, they always seem scratched or  used. There is never that pleasure of opening up something new.
Suresh and I have similar stories. Stories of wanting our parents to buy us something. Stories where we adamantly demanded something that was probably unreasonable or unnecessary. Suresh once sat on a tricycle and refused to get off it till his parents had to finally buy it. I remember wearing so many hand me downs and since I was a size smaller, spending many hours tightening skirts and shortening salwar kameez’s that belonged to my sister. I did use this as an opportunity to make them a little extra short and a little extra tight 😉. While I did love her clothes, about the 11th grade I made a total wardrobe switch and started wearing nothing but T-shirts and Jeans. This reduced the sharing I could do and I stopped the pipeline of hand me downs. Ziva has already started on those lines where she prefers wearing skirts and dresses to pants or shorts 😊. I say smart kid.

Isaac's sweater 

We were recently planning to get a new bicycle for Isaac since he is starting to ride mine now. As we talked about it I saw Zivas expectant look. We kind of held back our decision. In about 1 year and 10 months, Ziva would be using my cycle too. We would wait till that time to buy a cycle they both would share. No more hand me downs. Changing to a world of sharing and equal opportunity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The World's the LIMIT! #SayYesToTheWorld

I recently met a person who kept harping about the same place #Singapore. I don't have anything against Singapore. In fact my one trip there was simply fabulous. But after hearing for the umpteenth time a comparison between Singapore and current GPS location #Bangalore, I kind of lost my patience.
I snapped back 'For a boy who has seen only three countries and probably not more than two states in India, you seem to have a lot to say!'
Close book. I didn't hear anything about Singapore from this young chap. But I did get someone else start to harp about the country. I say coincidence :)

I am not much of a #world traveller. In fact I am quite a fussy traveller. I do love my own bed and I do have the theory of 'There is no place like home'. That being said, I have had plenty of opportunity to travel. I have no favorites. Every country I have visited, every city I have explored, every street I stayed on has a special memory and a place in my heart. Are there places I want to go again? Yes of course! But then there are so many more places to still see. The World's the limit.

Eating Shrimp from a street cart in Hawaii. Also crepes and pancakes in Hawaii
We are a homeschooling family and China is a big fascination now. I so want to see the Great Wall of China. There there are all those animals I want to see in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Of course I just can't wait for Isaac and Ziva to be old enough to enjoy all the underwater activities to make a trip to Great Barrier Reef in Australia. And of course closer home, I do hope to see a one horned Rhino in the Kazinranga National Park in Assam, India.

Here are some special memories from a few special places around the world.
1. Mauritius - My first underwater walk experience. It seemed the possibilities of exploration way down deep in the ocean brought in a whole new world.
2. United States - From Hawaii to Grand canyon, the Niagara falls , red rocks in Sedona and Florida beaches each place is like a new experience. Different food and sometimes the same food tastes different.
3. Montreal - Culturally rich Montreal with its beautiful parades and super friendly folks.
4. Cancun - Freaky chichen itza with its gory stories and really big iguanas. And then the beautiful crystal clear water with so many shades of blue.
5. Korea - Absolutely wonderful South Korea with the kindest people, scariest food and beautiful historical monuments.
6. Munich - Rich in history that is so dark and yet the streets are filled with friendly faces. Most convenient travel and such an air of joviality every evening at the beer gardens. #firstbeerexperience.
7. Salzburg - Absolutely wonderful palaces and a realization that cramped up colorful houses could also be beautiful.
8. Sri Lanka - Beautiful tea gardens and tall calm mountains. Warm beaches and warmer and friendlier folks.
9. Singapore - So many animals! (This is mostly from the eyes of animal crazy Isaac)
10. Thailand - Beautiful beaches, lots of shopping and noodles for breakfast.

Visiting Salzburg, Austria

Each place gave me a new perspective of people and their lives. Each new thing I tried made me see how close minded I was and how much more I need to learn about the world and the real meaning of being #openminded
Open minded - Taste beer, eat the local food (not Mcdonalds or KFC), shop with the street vendors, learn a few words in the local language (at least how to say Thank you!), learn one cultural nuance, not stare  :), use local travel modes (buses, trains, trams, tuk tuk) . There is so much to see and so much more to learn.
While I don't think I will be much of a world traveller, while I don't have much of the exploration spirit in me, while I definitely have a long way to go to turn 'Open-minded', I Love the World and there is so much more to see and do.

Here's a little advise to those who are young at heart and in the bones. Don't settle for one country just yet. Don't claim to love one place. The World is the LIMIT - Go explore! Go find your adventure! Go open your mind!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A run where you always win #TCS #10K #Majja

It was two years ago - May 2016 - when I ran the TCS 10 K. There have been lots of other small runs that I ran in these past two years. But the excitement that comes from the TCS is very different.

Its not the numbers! 23000 odd runners. Wow that is a large number.
There is definitely no prize money for me here (ROFL) running at the rate of 9 minutes per kilometer.
Its not the pomp and gala. I really love the simple quieter runs.
Its not the cause. Because honestly there are so many causes. And honestly in the past two years I ran for so many causes. Purple run, World peace, P.U.S. H.

In 2016 when I ran, it was my first 10 K. There was a personal gain and satisfaction to being able to complete an actual official 10 K.
This year its different. It is personal this year. Why?
For the past 7 months, I have been volunteering at the Reaching Hand home for Children. It has been a life changing experience for me.
Once a week, every week, Isaac, Ziva and I get ready and drive down to Hosahalli about 35 minutes from home. I teach Geography to 8 and 9 year olds. Isaac and Ziva make friends. It has been a very interesting experience for all of us.

This time its personal. I now know Reaching hand one level closer. I know the home. I am supporting the 'Girls Glory' project. But I know the kids who live in the home. I know the names of 20 of them who I teach. I confuse them and call them each others name and they laugh at my scatter brained disastrous forgetfulness but they are happy to have me there.
I get tough on them when they refuse to write down questions and answers. But before I leave, I get hugged and when I come back the following week I get big smiles with a Hi! Rohini akka.

This time its personal. I am not raising funds for a third person CSO. This time as I run the TCS 10K and as I approach each person to support me financially, its different.
This time as I run, there are the 20 bright faces that appear before me.
There are the smiles with honest eyes that have probably witnessed more distress than I can imagine.
There are the hardworking hands and minds that value the education that we are putting into them.

This time its personal. This time I am not running for Reaching Hand. This time there are names that flash into my mind with an actual person to associate with each name!

This one race... I will always win :)

Please support me financially as I run the TCS 10 K

If you have more questions about Reaching Hand, especially the New home, please reach out to me, I would be happy to answer them or point you to the right person.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Murder! #tencommandments #learning #listening

We were reading a story the other day as part of our Sonlight homeschool curriculum. Just to put in a little word : I 'Heart' sonlight!

The word that came up was murder.
Me: Isaac do you know what murder means
I was little annoyed because Isaac looked very distracted as I had been reading to him. Read aloud is big part of our daily routine. Thanks to so many books to read aloud I have been reading books after a long time.
Isaac: Being angry with your brother!
Me (a mixture of a lot of emotions) :What? Where did you learn that Isaac?
Isaac (a little more attentive): Cain and Abel in the bible
I want to take a moment here to hug all Isaac's Sunday school teachers!!!!
Isaac (like me) doesn't have very good control over his emotions. Anger being one of the key emotions that we both struggle with. I believe (sorry for sounding holy) it is a curse I have passed on to him and I pray daily that we both will be freed from this bondage I call 'ANGER'.
In a matter of seconds it seemed like we had switched roles. He being the teacher and me being the learner! It was like my son was preaching to me.
Well all these wonderful holy things comes to me with a dash of guilt. Am I overdoing it? Was I teaching them all the right things and not helping them practice it!
Last week at carecell as we were writing down prayer points, Sapna, one of the youth at church, was joking about something and she happened to say this dialogue ' Where you go I will go ...'
Ziva completed it for her : 'Your people shall me my people'
I stopped short and when Ziva noticed she had got all our attention she added with a big smile ' Ruth said it to Naomi'

I shared my fear of how my kids knew all the stories too well that one day they would just accept everything without actually having an experience with the God that created them :)
I got a lot of encouragement that evening. I hold on to it. Sapna responded saying, that knowing all this would help them live a life towards HIM. Susan added saying that it was all these teachings and her parents life lived out, that helped her during tough situations in her life.
As I write this blog, I am reminded of the story of a boy who didn't want to read the bible because he could not understand it. His grandfather makes him carry water in a coal basket. While the basket never holds any of the water, it eventually washes away the coal making the basket clean.

Maybe that is how all these stories will help Isaac and Ziva. As they live in this world, maybe these stories will build them up slowly and steadily and keep them strong in the tough storms of life.
Holding On and Pressing On.

Full story of the Coal Basket here:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Two kids… Too old … But not too late #run #race

It started about two years ago (2016). It started with a desire that I had!  To make Suresh run the TCS 10 K!
How do you like that? I convinced him that he should run the TCS 10K. He had run it once before about two years before (2014 May). He was in good shape. Fit! Cycling to work! Playing soccer and beating the crap out of youngsters’ half his age. And this run was for a good cause. He could raise money for Reaching Hand a shelter for street kids.
Interestingly my desire for Suresh backfired. I mean literally backfired. And this is somewhat how the story turned out.
Along with Suresh, I thought a bunch of our youth from church could also run and raise money. And so I started talking to them. When I approached a few of the girls, one of them turned back with this request. ‘ Rohini Chechy if you run I will run’. Thanks Naomi. I owe you for pushing me into this addictive habit!

‘I am too old’ I tried this excuse. It didn’t work and so I told everyone that I would register and practice and at least walk the 10 K. I started calculating that if it took me 10 mins to walk 1 km, I could finish walking the 10K in 1 hr and 40 mins. Not too bad! I could walk for that long a time. And so we started practicing. There were about 15 odd folk who signed up and agreed to run. Toward the race we fizzled down to 8 people who ran the TCS 10 K 2016 for Reaching hand.

In 2016, I ran a little now and then. We all promised each other that we would keep up our good workout routine and we also decided we would run TCS 10K 2017. I didn’t do so well from May 2016 till December 2016.
In November 2016, I hit an all time low. Some may call it being depressed. I call it the beauty of the valley where you don’t want to stay for too long. I put on 3-4 Kgs in a span of  2 months. That may not seem like a lot. But it looked like I would not be stopping there unless I did something. So, in 2017 I began the year with the resolution to run/walk everyday as much as possible. My main aim was to lose weight! From January to April I did really well. I ran so much that it became a habit. Such a good habit. I ran when my back hurt! I ran when my legs hurt! I ran when I was sad! I ran when I was happy! If I could not ran I would walk. Basically I did everything to get off my butt. Such a good year for exercising - 2017
Most people start these good habits early in life. Most folk move from running to walking as they age. I changed the flow of the river. I started with no exercise to bicycling to walking and finally running.
One morning after a long break I put on my shoes and clicked a picture of FB and posted ‘Back again ready to lose those last few kgs’. To this post one young girl messaged me and said ‘God has made you already so beautiful why are you trying to lose weight’. Ha! I spun this in my favor! I don’t run just to lose weight. I run to stay in good health… I run to prevent breast cancer… I run to set an example for my kids. 
The last one being the most important. In a world obesity and morbidly lazy kids, Isaac and Ziva could use some inspiration from my journey non-runner -to- runner.

Last year (2017) Isaac and Ziva ran their first 5 K. What a joy it was for the whole family – Suresh, Isaac, Ziva and me to run together. I love that Isaac and Ziva are excited about running even though there is whining when it comes to the actual run 😊.

Someone complimented the family at our craziness ‘ A family that runs together stays together!’

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The avalanche ‘thing’

We took a youth group to Ooty avalanche for 2 nights and almost 3 days. Well with the almost 13-hour one-way travel from Bangalore to the actual camp site, I keep wondering why we don’t go for a longer period. I do think though that too much nature may not suit me all that much.
This time we did a very different kind of night walk. It was different from my last years’ experience of the night walk. Last year we had taken a trek with a very noisy bunch and hadn’t gotten much of a chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of the jungle. But this year we had a quiet and very obedient group. We also had a star gazer with us!!! What an inspiration to do some more star gazing. As we stood in the midst of the shore of the lake, the trees slowly loomed up over us. Our facilitator kept telling us, ‘ if you wait for a bit then you will be able to see a lot more than you think you can in the dark’. And we were able to see a lot more. It was a little creepy and honestly a little scary. Right before we stepped on the large open shore we heard the sounds of hoofs. Maybe a herd of deers or another variety of the lovely mountain deer families. Somehow sound effects add to the overall feel of the night.
And then they started to shower. Shooting Stars! So many of them. Apparently if you have a good clear sky, you can see about 8 or 9 shooting stars every hour. No! I didn’t type that wrong. Every hour.

The whole bunch was going ‘oooh’ and ‘aahh’ every ten minutes. The irony – I couldn’t see a single one. I really don’t know where I was looking as there was not much else to really look at except the beautiful sky. But it seemed that my vision was filtered to the fall of these beautiful fireworks of stars. I had almost resigned to the fact that I would probably not see one that night when the whole night gazing crowd went ‘wo’..’wo’..’wo’. And I didn’t see it!
How could you miss that one?’ cried a voice in the crowd. Yea! Like I kept my eyes shut while they were ‘wo’ ing! I don’t know how I could not see it. It was pretty frustrating till little Nancy all of 11 piped up.
‘I feel so special that I could see a shooting star.’ In the midst of the buzzing and excitement that statement would probably have been lost, had our facilitator Mohan not had such a keen ear
A few minutes later he led the conversation back to the statement of being special. And we reflected. Nancy had considered herself special to have been able to see a shooting star. But we all were so special. The God who had made these beautiful stars and then added to it beauty in the way they finished their lives … that same God had taken out special time to create me. And not just create me … But form me in HIS likeness. How special!
There was a few moments of silence and we all kept watching the sky. I was still reflecting on the statement of being ‘special’ when it happened.
I saw it! A star dropped across the sky and ended its journey just like that. So much class and so much beauty.
I yelled and hugged a few folks over this beautiful sight. Isaac and Ziva shivered and we trekked back to our tents.
Surely a night to remember!