Friday, December 13, 2013

Second guessing - A parenting saga

Suresh and I were very impulsive people. We did things on the drop of the hat. Things were suggested and decisions were made in moments. For instance one evening Suresh walked home from his ongoing internship at Philip Morris and said he could not take waiting for the bus any longer. I think he had gotten rained on  or something. He had to buy a car! Some six hours later we bought our first 'decent' second hand car - A Mazda Protege.
A few months post our graduation and Suresh said lets buy a house ... a month later we were were signing papers and essentially upgrading from renters to mortgage payers (not an upgrade really!)
Then we decided we needed a second car. Which one ... how about a Mini Cooper...... a day later I was driving to work in a  pretty Grey Mini Cooper Sports Versions --- Stick shift, seat warmers and all!
Then there was the 'Let me take a job in Baltimore'. And I did ... and 'Suresh move up to Baltimore and he did.'
It seemed like we just took a decision and ran with it never second guessing or wondering what would have happened any other way.

And then things changed! And it seems that everything is weighed, evaluated and fretted upon in my tiny brains. I do not think Suresh does it as much as me ... but I still can see him stop and think about things. He just doesnt fret!
The reason I write this blog is because of something that happened this past Wednesday. It made me think about how much I had changed in terms of decision making. Decision making as far as Isaac was concerned.

Monday and Wednesdays may be Isaacs favorite days because he gets to go to dance and art class. All you have to say is Isaac lets go to Deepa and Kanchan aunty's place and he will dress him self up, drink his milk and sit silently in his car seat waiting for Brigade metropolis to come. We usually leave after Isaac takes a nap till about 3:30. I do have to wake him up from the nap and the words Artsy Craftsy or Kreative step are enough to get him moving. But on Wednesday he woke up on his own. I should have seen something amiss. He dressed himself up and went sat in the car as I got his bags into the  car. I had run back into the house to get something when Isaac jumped out of the car crying and not saying anything. He was walking funny and I realized he had messed his pants. I should have realized something was wrong. I should have known that he would not survive two hours without another accident ... should have should have!
Yet as I cleaned him I kept going back and forth in my head on whether I should send him to class. Finally I sent him ... and while he survived dance class he had a huge accident in art class. I was guilt-stricken and while kind Kanchan assured me and Isaac that it happened to kids older than Isaac, I knew that I had made a bad decision. I had second guessed myself!
It also got me thinking about other points after Isaac's birth I had made decision that in retrospect seemed like second guesses.

Some 24 hrs after Isaac was born, a pediatrician came into our room to tell us that he thought he heard a whooshing sound when he had listened to Isaacs heart. A hole! Dumb pediatrician! As opposed to assuring us that this was common and it would actually go away on its own, he started telling us about possible solutions. We heard words like surgery. For a 1 day old baby! A few hrs later as I tried to feed Isaac, he coughed and spat. Again normal for a baby. But in my 24 hr mommy head I saw him breathing too fast and using all his chest muscles. Some 6 hrs later ... just the amount of time it took for us to buy our car, Isaac was in the NICU. The  Neonatal ICU is possibly the scariest place in the world for new parents. When you look around you see babies who are the size of your palm struggling to make it to the next moment. Turns out nothing was really wrong with Isaac. Just hypoglycemic because he hadn't gotten enough milk from me. But they had gotten him started on antibiotics and so he spent the first three days of his life in the company of several other infants ... very very sick infants.  One moment of second guessing gave me a life time of horrendous memories.

Some 12 weeks later ... we were driving yet again to the emergency room late one night. Reason Isaac had spiked a fever. Since all clinics were closed we had to go to the Emergency room. The Kids Emergency room is the second scariest place in the world. Instead of just letting tylenol work and waiting for the fever and the night to pass... we  found ourselves spending 5 days in the hospital because Isaac had RSV ... 'a common cold'. Isaac was 12 weeks old. But in months he was 2.5 months. And a common cold for a < 3 month old makes them really loose their appetite. So we found ourselves in a hospital room, waiting for his appetite to kick back in, watching as they gave him IV and wondering how he would ever want to eat anything if he was getting his sugar high through his blood vessels! His fever... long left him! I still think about that night and wonder what would have been had we just waited a couple more hours till daylight and gone to his regular pediatrician.

Could I have saved him that experience ... of not spending 5 days in his 90 day old life in the hospital. Could I have spared him the opportunity of hanging out with future friends for the first time in the NICU. Could I have saved him the embarrassment of an accident in art class?

One look at our faces when Isaac was taken to the hospital or the NICU and the staff there would ask ... First time parents. ... What it is it about being a parent?

And then suddenly with Ziva we have gained so much experience ... or is it the confidence?
Some 24 hrs after she was born ... yet again we were visited in the post labor room by a much nicer pediatrician who gently told us she could hear whooshing when she listened to Ziva's heart. I held Ziva tight and Suresh said 'We know ... it will go away'

I chimed in 'I am taking her home today! You can let us know the test results whenever you get it!'
The Pediatrician stunned for a second smiled ' Its nice to see such calm parents!'
Yea - not really .... but we are learning!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Genetics is fabulous....
No - not the subject that teaches you about X and Y chromosomes (or talks about dreadful diseases)

But the one that you see with your own eyes when you look at a child and say ... 'You look exactly like your dad/ mom'

I remember my friend Anita's husband saying, a long time ago, its amazing how kids look like a combination of both parents! Amazing indeed -- its another sign that we have an amazing God who knows how to form us 'Fearfully and wonderfully'

For I was fearfully and wonderfully made
Why fearfully -- because he did not want to make even one error --- i.e. you are perfect. And why do I believe I am 'wonderful' because I see Ziva and Isaac each day and I can see a little or a lot of me in them - and I believe they are wonderfully created!

I always believed I was adopted when I was growing up --- some kind of a strange complex because I never got treated well by my relatives ... rather I felt that way... One day Suresh and I were talking about strange complexes and I shared this childhood fear that I had and he laughed ....'Do you see how identical you two look- Mona and you ... You could be twins'. Mona is my sister --- older by 3 years. I actually still don't see it! The similarity ... neither does she.

But what I do see is how our family is split. As someone in our park said - 'Your family is divided well. Ziva looks just like you and Isaac looks just like Suresh'
I can see Ziva looking like me but I see a lot of characteristic behaviour of mine showing up in Isaac. I was just thinking this when Suresh says 'Isaac looks so much like Grace!'. Grace is my 13 soon to be 14 year old neice.  I rummaged through all Grace's old pictures to find a perfect match and finally gave up and went back to Suresh. He pulled up this picture and said - 'Its not how they look like each other - rather some kind of behaviour similarity.'
I looked at the picture again and saw it!

There is also the case when you look at someone next to someone and they look alike... or is it still genetics. Here is a picture of Ziva with my aunt. i.e. her grand aunt. I have been told often that I resemble my aunt and in this picture I feel Ziva looks like her.

We were on a vacation with another couple (Veena and Satheesh) when at the breakfast table an exasperated Satheesh said something to the extent of 'exactly like mother'. Veena had this thousand watt smile on her face. It wasnt a flattering similarity .... but Veena took it just as the biggest compliment. What is it about us moms and dads that we want our kids to look like us or behave like us.
I told a father that his daughter looked liked him -- and he was overjoyed --- he even went home and told his wife -- 'See there are people who think T looks like me'

Have to end this one with a little bit of an emotional twist ... Its a time like this when everyone says ... you are just like your mom or just like your dad ... that Suresh misses his mom and I miss my dad. If  anyone asks my my mom if my kids look or behave like me she just shrugs her shoulders and says 'I dont remember'. But I remember my dad bringing out  my sisters baby pictures when my niece was born and showing it to everyone who came to the see the  baby, ... the similarity!
We were at Suresh's friend's place and his friend's mom had a slip of tongue ... calling her grandson by her son's name. A moment like that ... and Suresh is reminded about all the stories his mother would have told of how naughty or good he was as a kid  and how Isaac /Ziva was exactly the same as dad!

So who do you look like?
So guess the folk in the pictures below





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bye Amma - The Saturday after Dussera Camp with Creative Adda

October  2nd to October 11th .. 8 Glorious weekdays... where I did not have to wake up and plan school for the day for Isaac.

Thanks to Creative Adda for a fabulous camp.  It was a great time to realize that my son was independent. At least when he wanted to be - he could be on his own.
For 8 days I had the amazing feeling of what it must to be to send kids off to school. Not because I want to .... but it was just nice. I also got to spend 3 wonderful hours with Ziva... Just the two of us... Walking around the neighborhood... reading books her age and not having to split my hair trying to divide my attention between two kids.
Suresh dropped Isaac every morning by 10 am. His biggest complaint 'Isaac doesnt even say bye to me . He just runs off'
One of the days Suresh complained that Isaac saw Kuhu (Kanchan's older daughter about 7 years) and just ran off with her. Not looking back once. :)

Just to mention  ... my favorite thing about these camps are the range of ages  .. 3-12 years. It kind of strengthens my pursuit of homeschooling where a thought is not to restrains kids to one age group. Kids learn to mingle with all age groups. Of course activities are age appropriate ... but communication is across all. Expectation of discipline and behavior is uniform. They may not all comply but still ... More importantly kids learn a lot from older kids (Sometimes bad sometimes good). Just like Ziva has figured out a lot of songs just by listening to Isaac.

I would leave home about 12:15  and go to pick up Isaac, finishing off groceries and other chores along the way . Great schedule.

The changes we saw in Isaac during this camp were.
1. He did not want Suresh or me to hang out with him
2. He enjoyed the dancing this time  even humming the songs. Thanks Kreative Steps
3. We heard he was picking fights - I know this is nothing to be proud of ... but we had heard from a few moms in the park that he was not standing up for himself. So when Kanchan told me that he and a few other boys of the same age were forming a human pile I could not help actually saying 'Thank God'. Kanchan looked at me with disbelief and so I shared the theory about his lack of 'aggression', she reassured me 'Oh you dont have to worry about that' :)
4. Art, Craft and the general use of fevicol has been set firmly in his 4 year old heart - Thanks Artsy craftsy.

But the biggest victory of independence was what we saw the Saturday after Dussera Camp. I mentioned to Isaac on Saturday October 19th that if he ate his breakfast quickly and alone, I would take him to art class. I got a message from Kanchan a few minutes later asking to just start class in November (since I was planning to take Isaac in the middle of the week and join him up also for regular Kreative steps class).
Isaac started wailing ... protesting on how he wanted to go for Artsy Crafsty.
I messaged Kanchan ... pleading ... 'Please let him come today.'
And so at 9:50 we were at Brigade Metropolis. At the doorstep of Creative Adda. I was chatting with Kanchan about the week and asking about fees etc. Few kids trickled in and Kanchan asked them all including Isaac to got sit down in the room. A few more minutes of chatting and Isaac came and tugged on Kanchan's hand . 'Aunty you come in. Bye Amma!'
My mommy heart broke into a million pieces. My 4 year old did not need me to keep him company. At least not in the prescence of ART and DANCE.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Say no to Guns! A change 'I' can make.

This is not a political statement. This is not me supporting or (not) supporting the democrats or the republicans or a particular president. Believe me - in this small little brain of mine .... I cannot fathom all of that. This is simply me being  mom ... and being vehement about something that affects my child.
I am normally not vehement about anything. I really wouldn't have much to say about who should have been the first prime minister of India. I really dont know if our country would have done better or worse. More importantly its history and arguing about it or hoping to convince people one way over the other would bring about nothing but a couple of hours of philososphical debate. I am not super-passionate about pollution ... or taking it away ... or telling other people they should not pollute ... just enough to try and do my little bit! I do not overly love animals... just enough not to hurt them. I do not know all the laws of child labor ... just enough to know what would be abuse of a child's freedom! Most of these ... I feel I may never be able to change in someone else... maybe just a little in me.

But what I am about to write about is something I can do something about ... bring a change one child at a time  starting with at least just mine!!!

This blog is not to offend anyone. It is not to provide unsolicited advice. This is just me pouring out my heart for something that causes it to bleed. This is just something that sends a shiver down my spine every time I think about it.

India recently celebrated Diwali. This is called the festival of lights (slowly turning into the festival of sound). I love all the sparklers and even love the rockets with their buzzing sounds that send the light up into the sky! They look beautiful. I do not mind even the noisy crackers! I like the startle it gives me even though I see it being lighted. But what I am terrified of is the Gun!.

Diwali is celebrated as the celebration of the return of the King Rama after his 14 year exile. Celebrated by lighting 14 lamps and bursting crackers makes house look beautiful and the sound of crackers fills the atmosphere with a feeling of festivity. I first could not understand the bursting of fire crackers or noise pollution as they call it. But I read up that this is to drive away demons and evil spirits... I think we could all use a little of that ... couldnt we? And about noise pollution ... lets not focus on these 4-5 days of  diwali but instead of all the other times we introduce noise into the environment. My contribution would be to stop yelling at my kids. I am sure Isaac and Ziva would appreciate the reduction in noise pollution this way.

But the guns! Where is the significance of that? And in Mumbai these guns last in the hands of kids a lot longer than just Diwali.  Its not even the guns ... the attitude ... the holding it up to the forehead or faces of friends! Doesnt it send a chill down your spine.

Or is it just me ... as I think about the Virginia Tech shooting back in 2007 ... or the Sandy hook shooting that happened so recently. The shooters in both cases were in their early twenties ... the victims college and school kids!

When I once mentioned this to a cousin he responded saying 'Oh that is the western culture!'
Really - What about the Gurgaon shooting in December 2007 ... the shooters 14 year olds ... shooting their classmate! And what western culture ... with shows like Doremon and Power rangers and other stuff they watch on TV, all cultures are mixed!

I can keep Isaac from the gun ... but it does seem  that I cannot really keep the gun from Isaac. A few months ago all the kids in the park seemed to have a gun in their hand. Yes yes TOY guns.  My maid told me Isaac looked at it often and asked me to buy one for him. Yes - that was advice I was going to take! I told her he should not be playing around those boys and to keep him away. A few days later as I was cycling by the park I saw Isaac looking longingly at the boys with the guns. What is it with boys! I got off the cycle ... I wanted to go over and shake Isaac to tell him all the stories of  VA tech and Sandy hook ... but all I did was tell him I did not approve of it and sent him toward the swing and slides where there were boys and girls of his age playing with sand.
I am terrified of an age ... when he may insist on having a gun because all his friends have one. I plan on telling him some gory stories and hoping he will see what I see and feel the fear I feel!

My children are the only people I can really influence and I hope that will make a difference!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Amma - You said Stupid!

I love blaming the TV for poor language.
I love blaming external influences for my kids fighting and being rough. Just a few weeks back Isaac and Ziva were pushing each other playfully calling out 'Chota bheem'. We do not have cable in our house and they have not really had much time at other places to totally absorb the characteristics of this TV character (one I am not terribly fond of). I asked them where they got this game from and they mentioned a friend they played with. I reprimanded them and it took a few threats of spankings before they stopped playing it. I enjoyed laying the blame on some TV show that was played in someone else house.
I enjoyed blaming Suresh for screaming IDIOT in the car every time a bike or car cut him off on the road. I emotionally threatened him that the kids would pick up the word and start using it.

I enjoyed blaming everyone and everything else and living in my little bubble of holiness ... till Isaac burst my bubble!
I cannot remember where or how I had told him 'Stupid' was not a good word to say. But something about it registered in him. He doesn't register phonics or numbers I teach him... but this word stays in head!

It was Sunday morning. Sunday morning is always 'crazy' morning for me. Getting things ready to get going to church may seem simple ... but it was always chaos by 10 am (when its time to leave). 
It was close to this time when I handed over multivitamin in a small cup to Isaac and Ziva.  Usually they are very good at drinking it with no spill. But on this particular morning Ziva picked her cup and turned it upside down. Laughing while she did it.'
I yelled  ' You stupid ... stupid girl! Look what you did'
I was just glad she didn't have clothes on her.
Isaac: 'Amma you said 'Stupid'. You should not say stupid'


I stopped! I had no words.
Me: I am sorry Isaac. I did not mean to. Ziva I am so sorry.
A few minutes later Suresh walked down the stairs.
Isaac: Appa- Amma said 'Stupid'.


We think our kids are most influenced by their peers. But we always fail to see how much we can influence them. Its the small moments like the one I described above that can make and break my child's character. So all us parents out there .... think about what you are doing to set a good example, to be a good influence or build some character before you go about blaming the TV, friends and other external influences for your child's behaviour

 - Guilty mom!

A favorite quote that reminds me what a great influence we parents are on our kids

'When you teach her (your daughter), she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence. If you fully understand just how profoundly you can influence your daughter's life, you would be terrified, overwhelmed, or both. Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can't shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man'

From Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters - by Dr. Meg Meeker.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kiss Kiss -- the difference between boys and girls

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of
Before anyone things I am going to be writing about 'Kiss' and 'boys' and 'girls' my age ... well you are wrong ... lets rephrase that a little
Kiss Kiss --- The difference between sons and daughters.
Even though my Ziv-Ziv may seems like the most independent person ... strutting around not wanting to be carried for more than a seconds ... there is something about her that lets you know she is all girl and like all girls will make you sigh as you see her grow up.
Even though my Isaac seems like the most dependent person ... wanting to be clinging ... found mostly around my knees ... refusing to run off and play ... there is something that lets you know .. he is going to be all boy ... always hiding his feelings

Ziva has changed a lot in the most subtle ways becoming daddy's little girl. There was a time that I could just lay her on the floor and she would fall of to sleep. Very independent. And she still is ... but now there are lot of hugs and kisses and wrapping her arms around your neck so you cannot breathe!
Isaac was always all boy ... mamas boy ... he still refuses to sleep next to anyone but me. Occasionally watching Ziva nestle between me and Suresh ... he will ask or that position just to piss her off!

But the most prominent difference between these two as boy and girl --- I discovered yesterday.
We got this new book called Kiss Kiss. Its a story about a Hippo that forgets to kiss its mother before it goes off to play. The Hippo remembers after seeing other baby animals kiss their mother and returns to kiss its mothers.

I first read the book to Ziva yesterday morning. Everytime a baby animal kissed its mother ... I would lean toward her and kiss her twice - since the words in the book said ' Kiss Kiss'. She listened to the book intently and enjoyed the kisses. It was a very cute book!
An hour later, Isaac was awake and we were reading the book again. This time Isaac was sitting on one side of me and Ziva on  the other side. Every time there was a 'Kiss-Kiss' I would bend over to Ziva and kiss  her and then bend over the Isaac and kiss him. At the first animal, I saw Isaac wipe  of the kiss still engrossed in the book. At the second animal there was a protest  'Aaaaa!'
When I reached the third animal as I turned to kiss Isaac, I was shocked with a hard whack on my face. (I think he intended to push my face away ... but got the better of the movement).
In a state of shock I responded ... 'Isaac I love you that is why I am kissing you!'
Isaac: 'Read the book Amma!;

Kissing Isaac when we could ...

That's what little boys are made of!

Ziva got 'Kiss-kiss' for the remaining animals and did not mind a bit of the extra-love!

Little girls and their giggles

That's what little girls are made of!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sipping hot cocoa with a friend

I always dreamed about being my child's best friend. This was before I had kids. I promised myself I would be understanding and logical and a fun mom! But that was before all the yelling and screaming and tantrums. That was before I realized that kids are completely illogical.

But things are changing. I had a friend in the US who told me ... "the first two years are very hard and then it becomes really easy"
She was encouraging me as I was wallowing in my own pity about how close my kids were in age to each other. The first two years have come and gone and it seems like she knew what she was talking about. There is still yelling and screaming and things that never make sense ... but there are these moments that make you feel like things will become easy!

Ziva is still at the age where sentences don't always make sense and communication is more about yes's and no's

But my four year old Isaac ... well he seems like a big boy now. With a sense of humor and memories and thoughts that do not necessarily know the time of events .... but clearly remember events!

I have often heard him talking to himself. In vague interrupted sentences he recollects conversations, promises and vague happenings.
It was one such afternoon that he asked for 'once more' that made me realized that inspite of my yelling and screaming ... there were moments he enjoyed with me too.

It was one afternoon that I woke Isaac up a little earlier than Ziva and we sat down to read a few stories. I am not sure which story it was ... or how the talk about hot chocolate came. But I asked him 'Isaac you want some hot chocolate.
He nodded a yes and looked a little excited.
We made the milk hot ... put in the drinking cocoa ... and to give things an added interest I pulled out a piece of Dairy milk from the refrigerateur and asked him to drop it into the milk.

He looked surprised but followed instructions as he watched me drop my piece into the milk and stir it.
We took our hot chocolate out to the steps and watched the school kids return home. He watched me stir my chocolate ... and sip and he imitated me.

A few days later ... another early wake up with Isaac and even before he was fully awake he requested
'Can I have hot chocolate and put chocolate in it?'

I nodded ... pleased with myself. Happy that I had started a new tradition ... just mom and son (and when Ziva stops needing afternoon naps she can join us too.)
Sipping cocoa on the steps .. two friends ... watching the afternoon slip into evening ....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Memory Verses: 'Out of the mouth of babes I have ordained praise!'

The church we attended in the US .... the one that helped me make my final commitment with my saviour was big on memory verses. I still remember the very first Sunday I sat watching children between the age of 3 and 15 years stand in a line in front of the church and recite various verses. It takes a lot of courage to stand in front o a crowd of about 60 people and recite verses from the bible. This bunch was a mixture of kids who loved saying their verses, those who were terrified and those who were plain reluctant and went up there because of a cold stare from their parents. It was also nice to see the audience support each child with a clap or a loud 'Amen'. And just in case someone forgot a line of two ... there were plenty of folks with bibles open ...  encouraging them with a few words to help them complete what they had started.

I was amazed by these kids and their ability to recite verses. I had tried memorizing verses inspired by these kids  ... but as you grow in age .. your ability to retain long sentences to memory becomes hard.
I remember a brother encouraging everyone to learn verses by quoting the famous King David who wrote many of the Psalms  saying 'I have hidden your word in my heart  that I might not sin against you.'

When Isaac was born I promised myself I would teach him as many memory verses as I could and by age of 18 months, he was completing memory verses ... 
ME: The lord is my
Isaac: Shepard
Me: I shall not
Issac: want

Since we left the US, and wonderful ICF, I have not found a church that so actively promotes hiding Gods word in the heart. I have not found a church that encourages kids to be part of the service by sharing their meditation and learning and readings during the week with the congregation.

When I once asked why not ... I got the response of how children just purely memorize without understanding the lines. Quite true ... but here is another side to this story revealed to me  by my two year old daughter.

Ziva has phenomenal memorization skills. She listens to a song or a nursery rhyme maybe once or twice and can repeat most of it back to you. I guess she compensates for refusing to read her alphabets.
Its amazing how she bursts into 'Row row .. row your boat' or 'Peter and James and John on the sail boat'. Even though she still has a lisp and clarity in words is an ongoing battle for her , we can see that she is listening and attempting to repeat.

It was two mornings ago as I was making breakfast for Suresh and the kids that I heard the sweet voice of my child say 'Bless the lord oh my soul ...and all that is within me ...bless his holy name' 

I was shocked. I had never really taught her that verse. Suresh's family has the habit of saying this verse at the end of every prayer. 
'Bless the lord oh my Soul and all that is withing me bless his holy name, Bless the lord oh my soul and forget not all his benefits'
We too say this whenever we finish family prayer. 

I picked her up in my arms and asked her to repeat and she repeated with a big grin on her face realizing that I was mighty pleased with her. 

I realized I had been slacking on teaching Ziva memory verses with the excuse that she did not understand it. Yet I had no problem her memorizing all the nursery rhymes in the world without an ounce on what it meant to
'Twinkle' or what is a 'Diamond'. And in doing that I had not helped her hide Gods word in her heart!

Psalm 119 : 9-16
 9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The boy who never danced!

"Dance Isaac dance ... move your hands up this way .. cross your legs  one in front of the other ..."
And the only thing Isaac did was stand twiddling his fingers in one corner staring at her (Deepa) and the rest of the kids in class. It was then that I realized that I never really danced with him.

This was May 2013 .... the first day of summer camp! The picture below is taken about midway through camp with an over-enthusiatic Isaac!

When I spoke with Artsy Craftsy proprieter before Summer camp began she mentioned  'We will have Art and Craft , Story telling, outdoor games and Dance'
Me: ' What kind of dance ?'
Kanchan: ' Bollywood style'
Me : 'AAAAAA!'
Kanchan: ' Dance is by Kreative Steps and Deepa is really good!'
I was skeptical ... but I was desperate for some interaction for Isaac and Suresh encouraged me to go ahead! I do not regret a single 10 Km drive to Brigade Metropolis!

I did not believe in her. But today I owe Deepa an apology. After two camps with Kreative steps and Artsy Craftsy  (Now called Creative Adda). I am thinking ... I want to go learn a few moves. And its all thanks to Deepa Gandhi dance teacher and proprietor for Kreative steps.
Listening to the song that Isaac was dancing to .. Suresh says 'How does she find these songs ... they are so cute'. While I think its cute kids dancing to lungi dance ... Deepa has these 'finds' of super cute kids songs!
Tiger boo and  Hunny bunny hold special places in our hearts and wont get out of our heads!

Suresh and I love dancing... You do not have to tell us more than once and we are on the dance floor enjoying ourselves. But I realize somewhere between Grad school and a job and the stress of not having a child ... we forgot the joy of dancing! Dancing does bring in a lot of joy.
Once we had our little boy and then little girl ... we were too busy dancing to their tunes. We forgot to dance! We had lots of actions songs and rhymes ... but no dance!

I realized how much my children had missed dancing when I saw Isaac very reluctant to go dance along with the other kids. I do not think he was shy or had an inhibition standing there... he just was not used to dancing.
I flipped out and throughout the Summer Camp, Suresh and I kept doing steps of Tiger boo! that Deepa was teaching them. Deepa unfortunately had to leave midway through camp and Kanchan winged the rest of the dance class (very well!)

Between May and October ... everytime Suresh and I danced ... Isaac threw a tantrum. Ziva joined along just for the fun of it. I started patiently waiting for Creative Adda's Dussera camp. I knew Kreative Steps would be teaching with some new and cool moves.

One or two days into class I asked Deepa ' Deepa Aunty is Isaac dancing !'
Deepa: 'Of course! Isaac show mama your steps!'

He did not! But he did tell me the song he was dancing to and we looked it up on you tube and enjoyed it together.

One day after camp as I was picking up Isaac. .. he was being a little slow .. humming something and then I hear ' hunny bunny!'
That was his song from Camp. I was so excited to just hear him!

Then the best day came. Finale for the Creative Adda Dussera camp. I wondered as Kanchan messaged me saying there was going to be a stage and the kids were going to perform etc. Would Isaac Stand in front of an audience and do his steps!

What a moment of pride to see my boy standing there doing his steps ... not looking at me or Suresh ... just enjoying the dance and performing in front of a total bunch of strangers!

He was the boy who never danced .... till he enjoyed dancing! Thanks Kreative Steps .... and thank you so much Artsy Craftsy ... and looking forward to Creative Adda's next camp ... Can't wait!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When opportunity knocks!

I may be wrong but I think there is a point where every mother goes through an identity crisis.

For me it happens more when I get asked the question 'Do  you work?'
The crazy woman in me wants to scream my lungs out saying ... do you see these kids running around me ... they are my full time employers.
The other day I had a form to fill and in it the question was 'Profession'. I stopped ... I was tempted to write homemaker ...

But that is no longer true. I will always be a homemaker as would any mom/wife/ woman at any age ... that is our innate 'Profession'.

I looked up at Suresh 'What should I write for Profession?'
I knew the answer to all the other questions. Name .... Age ... Sex ... Address ...

Yet this one I was not sure.

Suresh: 'Medical Physicst! No just Physicist!'
How did he have the confidence I did not. I realized that no matter how many years I stayed away from my 'Education!' It would always somewhere  ...somehow catch up with me.

                                                                                      My office then (2007)

When we returned to India I lazed around for a bit. I enjoyed my blogging... Telling my mommy stories ... Sharing my saga! Then I wanted a little pocket money. So I started writing for other folks. Initially it was mommy writings ... then just general writings.

And then opportunity knocked ... reminding me what I had spent 5 years slogging over to get the three alphabets behind my name (Ph.D.) and then another two years as a slave to get the certification of D.A.B.R .... very very sought after four initials ... at least in my field of work.

Yes after a two year break in not using my education 'PhD in Medical Physics'  ... and D.A.B.R .....I am back once again ... looking at my physics books and probably built up with the most sadistic part of any profession. Quiz writing.

Every time  Suresh saw me working on strange topics of blogging or content writing he would say ...
'Don't forget you are a medical physicist'. Several times he reminded me that if I went out and worked I would probably make as much if not more money than him ... a perk of being clinically trained. But I am still having separation anxiety. I asked him to find me a job I could do from home. Be careful what you ask for. He did not find me the job ... it just fell on my lap. And its awesome!

Dont get me wrong I enjoy being with the kids and teaching them and reading to them etc. .. but once in a while I did wish I was reading more than Little Red Riding hood (For the 50th time) and singing 5 little ducks (for the 600th time).
Suresh kept saying: Keep in touch with your field ... maintain your certification ... read your scientific papers.

Its hard to do all that without incentive.
And incentive came.

I now spend about 3-4 hrs a day being Editor of a website, going through Medical physics quiz questions making sure they are appropriate and am well on my way to writing original quiz questions and all for the pay of a Medical Physicist. I work for an old colleague ... and so flexibility is a piece of cake!

 My office now

My work now :)

A friend of mine had recently put up this post on facebook.
"If opportunity does NOT knock build a door."
I built my door and left it open .. opportunity came walking in and sat on my lap.

But there is still this fear. How long will this job last? Should I tell people about it? I have been very secretive about my job (that I have one) and more importantly when I get asked if I work I promptly reply 'NO!'. Though I think the No comes more of confusion of being a working/ homeschooling mom of two rather than denial or fear.

But I realize .. what the heck this is like any other job I could have. In a few months to a years time this website may become self sufficient and may not need me to be editor. At that time I will build another door and leave it open.

Till then I will be Rohini George ... Ph.D.,  D.A.B.R, ... Editor for

And when someone asks me what I do or whether I work I will be saying by education I am a Medical Physicist using my knowledge but by choice I work with my family  ;) ... and then I will direct them to this blog :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

What happened to those lazy mornings? Where did they go?

There used to be a time when a long weekend meant something … a holiday in the middle of the week was something we looked forward to!

It was a Friday. It was a holiday. A holiday means nothing to me anymore except that Suresh stays at home with us. This exception is a big deal. Having Suresh at home is a blessing. He watches the kids, plays with them and shares the disciplining responsibility so I am not screaming my lungs out continuously.
But there used to be a time when we could be spontaneous. We could wake up late and then eat brunch and then go for a drive to some mountains and then go hiking...
But not anymore.... For one thing – we cannot wake up late. If our biological alarm clock does not set off, then the physical one sleeping right next to us … will promptly pick up her leg and whack it on our stomach! (Giving the instinct to pee --- and we are up!)
I have heard parents say that they just sleep in … and their kids will sleep in with them too …. I really am jealous of parents whose kids let them sleep in! For us the story so far … first it was Isaac who would wake up at 6 am and open our eyelids … just to make sure we knew he was awake. Now he does sleep a little later … 7 am … But Ziva is promptly up and rolling over us as early as 6:30 am. More importantly she is too hungry to stay in bed. She needs her milk which means one of us has to drag ourselves out of bed and go get the bottle ready! Which means there is no more staying in bed late … just one happy... over-excited … hyper energized … toddler!

Spontaneity is a word I have given up from my dictionary. I can no longer be spontaneous (I was not very good at it previously --- I like to plan). But now with diapers and meal and nap times … The planning is even more intensive.
We cannot do brunch … well maybe Suresh and I can do brunch … but we still need to prepare three square meals … interspersed with snacks... and so we need to plan. So between 8 am and 9 am two mouths need to be fed. And than again at 12 pm and then a snack …. and then dinner must be on the table at 7 pm. No more sleeping in late... No long naps after those late brunches … No more long unplanned drives

The months of September and October bring about a large number of the Indian festival and thus many days when Suresh is at home. Its not like the old days and I do miss those days.... But just as I am thinking how good it would be to get these little munchkins grown up and out of the house … I see a few empty nests where kids have gone of to college giving parents their life back … I shudder. The thought of my physical alarm clock not smiling into my face at 6:30 am … is  nothing short of a nightmare.
So while I would like to sleep in once in a while … I think for now I will enjoy the early mornings and deal with not knowing which day of the week it is!
Cheers to being a parent!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lunchbox- Memoirs of a life in Bombay (When I lived there we called it Bombay!)

Yes I loved it ....and I am not a big fan of slow movies ... that show men smoking a cigarette for about 5 minutes every 15 minutes of the movie!
But this movie was awesome. Great story and great actors ... Irrfan Khan rocks ... but more than that were these moments that reminded me of growing up in Bandra.  There were these moments in the movie that seemed so close to the heart.

 Juhu beach when it used to be super clean

So here is a remember the scene  ...

Remember the scene where IK is smoking and watching the neighbours eat dinner. This lady tears a big piece of 'Pao' .... ohhhhhh that 'Pao'. We didnt eat a lot of 'Pao'. But I think it was stable dinner for a few folk in the building I lived in. The 'Pao-wallah' would come from door to door selling hot ... just out of the oven 'Paos' and once in a while my mom would let us buy a few peices.... ahh I can still taste that in my mouth -- Yummy!

Remember the scene where IK is watching 'Yeh Jo hai  Zindagi'. At a time when only Doordarshan was available, this show was a favorite for our family ... This and 'Wagle ki Duniya' ... anyone remember that one!

Of course the famed Dhaba wallas. But the best moment was when Suresh realized that these dhaba's were transported by more than just cycles 'They go by train!' He exclaimed in the middle of the movie. Today he was clarifying his doubt. He thought dhabas were only delivered to spoiled school brats like me! I explained. Well families lived in the suburb while husbands travelled to the city ... so the need for food to travel by train. Suresh sat back sighed as said 'What luxury!' (This is right after he had finished a huge meal at Barbeque Nation.)

But another memory associated with these dhabba-wallas and the trains were listening to those songs through the train walls as they sung to entertain themselves on the ride home. At that time -- me a prissy 'Xavierite' found the music very annoying. Now its music ears!

Remember the scene where Nimrat Kaur is making this stuffed vegetable (anyone know which vegetable it is). I had a friend in Engineering 'Kavita Saini' whose mom made the most yummy stuffed bhindi ...She always shared her parantha and bhindi! ... mouth watering!

Remember the scene where IK yells at the kids 'Do I look like your servant?'
I remember getting yelled at in one of those thin lanes. Well I deserved it! I threw a fountain Pepsi glass (remember those!) at the side of one of those houses. This old lady saw and kept yelling at me! I should have just walked back and picked it up !!! Lack of civic sense then!

Remember the scene where IK sees himself in the painting and buys it! The painting and me in the painting!

Remember the scene where IK's colleague is cutting veggies in the train. Reminded me of my long train travel to MGM (2 hrs in the train one way). We did our homework, assignments and studying all in the train.

Remember the scene where IK gets felt up in the train. Or rather he thought he was getting felt up! We were once in a very crowded ladies compartment and a friend of mine started yelling at a lady next to her 'What do you think you are doing?' . The lady replied 'Looking for my purse!' My friend responds 'Your purse is in my fly??' It was a very very crowded train! It was also a time when the concept of lesbians and homosexuals was new and feared and every young girl thought they were being pried! Naive!

Remember the scene where IK is leaning out of the door of the train with his hair flying in the wind. Aaah I remember so many such days ... hair flying in the air ... while beggar kids sang the most romantic songs in the most high pitched notes ever.

Remember the scene where NK asks her neighbour to play the tape of 'Sajaan'. Well have been recently listening to a lot of JJWS, QSQT and other oldies! On youtube! PS: not making lunch boxes for anyone ;)

Dont get me wrong ... I still love my good old commercial movies with the songs and crazy unrealistic stories and sadness that never lasts longer than a song. And of course happy endings!

But once in a while comes a movie ... that really drives you into memory lane and keeps your there for a long time!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things I take for granted ...

Its not until you watch your 3 year 10 month old try to do things that you realize how good it is to be an adult!

He had been wanting to learn to cut for a while now and I was too reluctant to give him the scissors because of the potential hazard with little sister being around. Thankfully Princy athai gave us a child safe  paper scissor. It was beautiful and I was as excited about him cutting as he was.
Yet as I watched Isaac put in this fingers into the two holes of the scissor and try to manipulate it to cut straight and curved lines ... it felt .... clumsy. I told him he was holding it wrong and tried to show him  by putting it on my fingers ... but he was not holding it wrong ... It was just that he was 3 ..and for a 3 year old he did really well. But he just wanted to do more .... It was then that I realized how much I took for granted
As I walked around the kitchen all authoritatively snipping the milk packet ... spilling a little and then cleaning it off ... I must look like a total show off to my son who ... well all he wants to do at this point is cut a paper ... without tearing it .... A fine line but a very very distinct line!

Putting on and taking off elastic waist pants and round necked T-shirts are a piece of cake and while I am very proud of him.... Isaac wants to do more. He wants to pull up zips ... button up his shirts and tie his shoe laces! He want to stick things that are broken and kick the ball they way his father does. And what happens when he cannot! Frustration ... anger and in general crying. He hates it when his cycle wheel spins in the same place again and again! He hates it that the ball does not bounce more than 3 times when he tries to bounce it.

But hats off to my little budding for trying till the point of frustration.
We learn the most from our kids and I am learning to be thankful for all the things I can do on my own!
I write this also as a note to Isaac... one day I will be frail and old and unable to put on my shoes or wear my own buttons ... I hope you will help me ... and remind me not to get frustrated.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

At the dinner table

We have a few bad habits.... OK well many ... but one we are working on is the computer at the table while eating. I use the computer while feeding the two munchkins at the table and simultaneously trying to down my lunch.

Previously I used to use this tactic at the dinner table too. But Suresh is slowly encouraging us to get out of this habit. Just to clarify ... I am not watching ... rather Isaac and Ziva automatically open their mouths if the computer is running their favorite rhymes. They would eat even if the computer was not on, as Suresh often points out. But then I need to continuously talk and involve them in what their eating and their day in general.

But we are slowly moving out of this habit at the dinner table.
Reason 1: Suresh helps with feeding one of them.
Reason 2: Conversation ... activities ... learning... independence ... etc

So here is how it started one day... It was noodles nights. Noodles is a favorite with Isaac. I cannot remember when I had told him about eating noodles with a chopstick ... or shown it in a book ... or how he remembered it. But he asked for chopsticks. That's like a clean up nightmare. But I thought what the heck ... our house isnt spik and span anyway ... Besides we have two dogs ... they would love the tit-bits falling to the floor. There was a lot of frustration in using the chopsticks that evening ... but we all enjoyed it... including Isaac. We showed him how to twirl his noodles with the fork and get a good mouthful. We talked about food and sang songs about food and in about 1/2 hr dinner was done! Probably the fastest. A couple of  noodle  nights later (say a few weeks) and Isaac was able to twirl his noodles on his own and enjoyed noodle night more for the fork and chopsticks than anything else. We have since moved on to drinking soup with a spoon. This is equated to = why did I give you a bath = change your T-shirt = messy high chair night!

Isaac is just about the age when he wants to do a lot on his own. Buttoning shirts, putting on shoes, opening doors and eating. While my feeding habits had been depriving him of that independence .... a new nights of forks and chopsticks have helped get things into perspective for me. I now try to have a conversation (whose your friend in the park, who did you play with, what did Ziva do) when possible and only if I am totally exhausted turn on the Computer. I see that this has helped Isaac sit at the table un-entertained or self-entertained for a longer period of time. Ziva still has a lower limit on sitting at the table. We are working on it!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nature or Nurture

I used to be a very fussy eater most of my childhood, into my teens and up to about 22/23 years. I hated fruits … few vegetables … and fish. I loved potatoes in any form. Being a 'Malayalee', I even hated the 'scared' vial  of all 'Malayalees'... coconut milk. Somehow I guess being far away from home …. I grew to being non-fussy and eating everything anyone offered me. I even acquired taste for sushi … which is a long journey for someone who hated fish!

Suresh on the other hand...was, is and I think will be a fussy eater. When I met him he wouldn't eat certain vegetables (beets, spinach …) and certain dishes cooked a certain way (anything deep fried was always accepted). After 7 years of marriage when we were about 8 months into our first pregnancy, I warned Suresh 'If your kids watch you being fussy … they wont eat anything.'
As a deal of entering into fatherhood, I made a pact with Suresh. He had one vegetable he could absolutely refuse to eat. Everything else in any form … he HAD to eat.

He choose 'Beets'.

Interestingly beets was among the first few veggies I tried on Isaac along with baked yam and broccoli. See that list as everything Suresh hates. Isaac  loved yam in its baked form and would eat all veggies put in front of him. Watching him eat broccoli one day and just about resisting gagging an exasperated Suresh declared 'He is not my son!' 
Interestingly Isaac did not take much to potatoes and rice. I guess he is not my son either! 
Suresh is so finicky that if I give a plate of food to feed Isaac or Ziva, he will carefully keep aside the veggies he does not like and not feed it to Isaac or Ziva ... like he will feel the taste in his mouth if they eat it. You will see a carefully arranged row of peas .. loved by Isaac and Ziva .... hated by Suresh at the corner of the plate.


So where did the taste bud come from. It definitely was not nature … was it nurture. Just offering Isaac everything and trying out new things!

Welcome Ziva and she is a step ahead of Isaac. While Isaac is a little hesitant about trying new things, probably because he is scared of spices, Ziva will taste anything. She will even annoy Isaac with 'Isaac taste … taste Isaac'
She is a small eater (small meal sizes) and a slow eater … but she is an 'everything' eater! She is definitely not my daughter!

Nature or nurture?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Glue, cotton, paper and a black sketch pen = One happy homeschooler ...

It was a rough morning. I had to keep screaming at him to get him to write. Isaac used to love writing .... but watching Ziva run around and get in his way kept distracting. He also kept laughing for no reason at all. That is his latest method of annoying me and Suresh.
But we managed to get through some coloring, tracing and a few 'big boy' stories. Big boy = 45 page books ... 6 sentences per page .... I am very grateful for his increased attention span when it comes to listening to stories.
When the morning came to a close I was exhausted and he looked happy to get away from me. Not the feelings I want him to leave with!

I dragged my feet that afternoon to wake him up. I usually wake him up about 1/2 hr before Ziva wakes up so we can have some more reading time together. But I struggled and in my head I kept thinking what would be fun to do ... teach him time ... let him color ... or read more books

I picked a farming book (by Disney Smart beginings), sat him on the sofa and turned to page 1... There was a simple project  ... to make a sheep! An answer to prayers. In less than 5 seconds of me asking him if wanted to do it .... he was awake and holding Fevicol in his hand. About 15 minutes later we had this.

I drew

He stuck the cotton
He coloured the feet and then ' We will show Appa when he comes home OK!'

Just to make him realize that 'school' was not just reading and writing .... but anything that involved learning and trying and finishing I told him 'Isaac this is also school!'. He repeated this sentence, while showing his sheep, to a few friends who walked past the door a few minutes later !

Perfect end to a disastrous morning .... I believe in miracles .... I believe life can turn around just like that!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In her shoes

The phone kept ringing that day. I think she must have picked it up promptly every time because I kept hearing 'I will come ... I will come'
Finally after the umpteenth 'I will come', I asked her 'What's going on?'. After all I had to show my authority as an employer and ignoring the numerous phone calls would also make me a very heartless person.
She: 'Our gas cylinder is leaking we have to go exchange it?'
Me: 'Why wont they come and take it?' The rule in India is if there is a gas leak from a cylinder, they must come  on the same day and check it out.
She: 'Its a festival today, so they say they wont come today they will come tomorrow. I am too scared to have the cylinder in my house'
Only in India will a gas cylinder leak be considered less important on a holiday!

Me: 'So your husband is going to take it?'
She: 'Yes, both of us. He cannot possibly carry it alone all the way to the gas shop'

Now I exercise everyday .... I feel fit, I have carried an empty gas cylinder and put it in the back of the car. But never in my life would I even imagine carrying a full gas cylinder.. for a really long distance... mostly walking or maybe taking a bus for a few kms!
I had a mental image of husband and wife carrying the cylinder, taking turns or sharing the load!
And then for a moment, I imagined me carrying that cylinder .... or helping share the burden with Suresh. I felt a chill in my spine! We all live in big, pretty house and drive nice cars... and we feel we are invincible to the harshness of life .... mainly because we do not see in in ... sitting here in our nice compounded/gated community!  But I have in the past 10 years seen people being reduced from prosperity to nothing! Some up close and personal. I could be reduced to picking up a gas cylinder and walking those many kms!

Me: 'Take the car!'
She jumped at the opportunity.
As I related this to Suresh that evening. He asked exasperated 'Could they not take an autorickshaw!' (Before I told him I gave them the car)
Me: 'Yes .... that is 100 Rs one way... they could use that money for a lot of other luxuries.'

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday ... well not really. But for many years after I had left for the US, my dad would call me on an odd day during the year and wish me happy birthday.
Me: Its not my birthday today
Appa: Its Janmastami today. You were born on Janmastami.

I still tear up at the thought that he remembers the day I was born ... not the date ... the day.
Janmastami is a festival in India where the Hindu's celebrate the birth of Krishna. Like all Indian festivals, this follows the lunar calendar. So every year it comes on a  different date. I would always wonder what he (my father) remembered about that day .. that made it such a fond memory that he remembered it every year. There is a lot of activities in Mumbai for Janmastami. The most famous and the one I really enjoy watching is the Matki breaking. They form a human pyramid and break a pot that is way up in the sky ... usually tied between two buildings. The pot has makan ... a supposed favorite of Krishna and of course ... incentive...Money.

I always wonder what my father thought about when he saw the breaking of the pots, which you could not miss anywhere in Mumbai, as he picked up the phone to call me. One year he even distributed food to his employees on this day in celebration.
My father ... years ago

Now  5 years after he is no longer with us ... I wish I had asked him. What happened on that day? How did it happen? What were you doing?
We mom's love writing our child's birth story. But I think father's have a different story to tell... different incidents to remember ... different moments that make the day so special.  A note to Suresh to tell him to write it all down ... before we become old and frail.

Hubby dear got a lot of brownie points for wishing me. He did not know it was Janmastami as he had to work. But on his way back from work someone stopped him to ask him how he did not get a day off.  What for he asked? Janmastami.
He came home and wished me! Made my day!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Picnic Perfect

As a homeschoooling mom, I am always looking for something new to do. If everyday was math and phonics and writing .... a 35 year old would get very bored... imagine a 4 year old and a 2 year old.
So last week when the maid took a day off, I went on a 'picnic' to the park. It didn't go great for me, but Isaac enjoyed himself. So I promised myself to do it again. This week, I was better prepared and we had a picnic yesterday. A breakfast picnic. Isaac helped me get the basket, he put in what he wanted to take for the picnic ... ball ... books ... and of course we needed food. Bread  and egg was on the menu with cheese slices and plenty of fruits: apples and guava.
But I didn't want to miss and educating moment ... So I took blank pieces of paper and a Swiss army knife. We had a lot of fun. The kids ate, played around and I even got Isaac and Ziva to stick leaves on the paper I had taken. We even did a few math/sorting pages from one of Isaac's work books. It was a lot of fun.
When I told Suresh how much fun it was and he saw the pictures, he said 'You should have outdoor classes.' I like the idea ... it gives me a chance to get some much needed Vitamin D as well.
The best part ... when I was packing up the picnic basket to return home Isaac said 'Thank you Amma'  -- unprompted. More incentive to keep homeschooling!

Great weather to kick off your shoes

 excited about the Swiss Army knife

 Learning material

 Running around

Sibling conversation

Let the games begin

Jack be nimble... Jack jump over the candle stick

They ran 3 laps around the park

Look at them go

Basking in the sun

Leaf collection

Naughtiness begins

Troubling Isaac ... but he's laughing