Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cookie fever!

Isaac: 'Amma can we make Cookies'
Me: 'Isaac I dont have butter. I will buy it today and we will make cookies tomorrow.'
He seemed happy with the response and I got on Zopnow and ordered unsalted butter which arrived a few hours later.

This was Thursday evening. On Friday morning I had to go out early in the morning and did not watch the kids wake up. But Suresh said that he did ask for me in the morning.

When I returned in the afternoon, I was too tired that I decided to hug Ziva and take a nap. In about an hours time there was a whisper near my ear. 'Amma can we make cookie now'
I had forgotten to keep the butter out! I felt rather guilty but dragged myself out of bed and again made the same excuse
'Isaac I forgot to keep the butter out. Lets see if we can find a recipe with oil for cookies'.
We did and let me tell you there is a reason people use butter instead of oil in cookies. Because oil cookies taste like crap.
I made a small batch that smelt like sunflower oil even with an extra dousing of vanilla essence. Isaac happily mixed and then made little cookie dough balls on the cookie tray. We waited the 12 minutes and brought the cookies out. A few minutes later we both took a bite into what can only be described as the worst tasting cookie ever! I thought - there goes a lot of sugar, flour and chocolate chip to waste!
Isaac: Its yummy!
I was shocked. I had almost claimed the whole tray to compost when he picked up a second cookie and happily gobbled it. When he reached for the third cookie, I had to rescue his tiny stomach and put the rest of the oil cookies in a jar.  Isaac asked for a cookie snack every single day after that.

I dont think he has great taste buds ... but he has great taste in getting me to spend time with him. It wasnt the cookies that were tasty. It was the time we spent together making it that added just the right flavors for him

Yesterday after reading a few pages of a book to him I dropped it down and said - Lets take a break.
Isaac: A baking break
Heart my boy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nostalgia - familiar sounds, familiar smells, familiar weather

Its November again! Yes I know November comes once a year, every year. But for me , November marks a new beginning. An anniversary you could say! It has now been 3 years since Isaac, Ziva and I arrived in Bangalore. I think the date was November 11 2011. We had uprooted from a land we had spent 12 years in and decided to set base in Bangalore. At that time I was not sure how long we would last in Bangalore or India. But now 3 years later, Bangalore has grown on me. I even 'Swalpa Swalpa Kannada Mathadi' - I hope to make it 'More More Kannada Mathadi' in the next one year!

The other day I opened the door to thick fog and it felt so good. It reminded me of my first winter in Bangalore. There is something in the air that made me go back three years. A time when Ziva was 2 months and Isaac was having rough phase understanding why we were here. I remember days together when I would take the kids for 3-4 hrs to the park and just hang out there. I remember the house being absolutely empty because our stuff had not arrived from the US. We had one rocking chair in the living room and a flimsy carpet that kept moving about. A few days ago we had the sofa sent out to refurbish and the living room became empty. We were sitting on the carpet in the living room again and the ambiance went back to 3 years ago. Interestingly, my cousin who had visited me when the house was empty 3 years ago was again sitting in our living room and he remembered his first trip to our place.

We recently changed the battery for our door bell and realized that we had waited too long. From the usual 'boing' sound that was barely heard anywhere else in the house, the tone changed to a sweet musical tone. Flashback to the time when we just moved in. The door bells sounded loud. Too loud! A time when I wanted silence in the house. The bell ringing would wake up both kids and then the craziness and crying would start. The bell now has a sound of sweet memories of those days. The days that have passed.
At that time, those days felt like nightmares. I was afraid to wake up and I looked forward to evenings when I could rest again.
'This too shall pass'

I remember eating the amazing street food and being glad. Glad that I was back in India and wondering what would come of this. I guess an amazing love for Dosa and street food (especially Kathi roll) in both the children and so far no glances at Mc.D's
This too shall pass :)

Today as I feel the cool December weather and I know that November has come and gone - I know this too shall pass. I am enjoying the kids in this phase where they laugh and play together. There are days that they drive me nuts with their fights, but like the seasons and the months and years it will pass. I wish I could hold time still here. But I know there is more to come. More cool Novembers ... more sunny Aprils and more rainy Augusts.
And this too shall pass!

Bottle - Glass - Bottle - Glass - Ziva's world

This three year old is turning into a complete comedy central.

Most mornings now Isaac and Ziva drink milk from a glass. A special glass with an animal on the side. A cat for Ziva and a bear for Isaac. Most mornings go calmly even as milk is split on the table or the floor. But its part of the game.

Every so often Ziva will wake up and ask for milk in her sipper
Ziva :' I want milk in my pink bottle'

This request usually comes after we have got the milk ready in the glass!! Almost like she is testing our patience.

One such morning - we get milk ready in the glass. Ziva asks for the bottle. We give it in the bottle and about half hour later she sees Isaac drinking in a glass and she now wants the milk in the glass. (Yes drinking milk is a long process in our household)

Me: Ziva - You cannot keep saying Glass -- Bottle -- Glass --bottle
Ziva : Glass -- bottle --- glass --- bottle
Pauses momentarily
Ziva: I said Glass bottle glass bottle

Suresh laughing uncontrollably! Me stumped!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Maska ... Butter ... Soap .... Mani ... Flattery and its Pseudonyms

Aaa flattery!!! It works in so many ways. Sometimes it brings down the ego in you and other times it lets you soar to different levels of pride.

And then sometimes it just makes you smile. I guess it all depends on who is using the words.

Living in cosmopolitan Mumbai and visiting Kerala every summer we learned so many different words for flattery
Maska mat mar! (Mumbaiya)
Dont put butter ! (Bandra!!)
Soap idale (Manglish)
Mani adikayale ( Malayalam)

Flattery has so many pseudonyms.  Flattery is an excellent way to get your work done (by someone else) or just win your way into their hearts!

Isaac has this annoying habit of rubbing my hand. Its like a soothing technique. He specifically pulls on the skin between my wrist and knuckles. It drives me nuts. The first time he started it was when we moved from the rocking chair to the bed to put him to sleep. Till that point we would rock him to sleep. But I was so pregnant and my tummy was so big that I could no longer hold him comfortably on my lap. Hence the migration to the bed and then started the hand pinching. At first I was willing to give anything if he would lie on the bed and fall off to sleep. But when 2 years later he was still pinching my hand, I started to lose it. In addition to everything else, the constant pinching hurt my hand and would keep waking me up.

I realized that he was hooked to it when on one particular train journey, I was switching back and forth between two sleeping places. Ziva still needed a night feed and my mom was sleeping with Isaac. Isaac woke up in the middle of the night and was upset with me not being besides me. My mom said he was all fine till he tried to pinch my mom's hand and realized it was not the same hand he was used to pinching! So every time he drifted off his sleep he would need my hand.

I tried all techniques to get him off this soothing technique. I slept with my hands crossed, I spoke to him and told him that my hand hurt. I made him sleep separately. I tried to bribe him. I threatened him. Nothing worked!

Then this one afternoon as we were getting ready to take a nap, we were reading a touch and feel book about a fluffy soft chicken. As he touched it I asked him 'Isaac what else is soft?'. I had expected him to say the bed or the pillow instead he touched the the skin on the stop of my hand and said
'Soft like this?'

Aaa Flattery you work in so many ways! Especially when you come in such a genuine form.

“In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning. ” 
― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The 'dil' and 'bill' advertisement - Financial peace for Children

Delight her 'dil' forget the bill. It is probably the worst advertisement I have ever seen.

I am tired of seeing all the bill boards of Property FOR SALE around Bangalore. Suresh and I have  a theory ... When you are in Bangalore all the bill boards are about property.
As you drive down towards Chennai you the bill boards change to Sarees. RMKV... Nallis ... and then some smaller ones you will not remember too much longer than a few 100 seconds. (Or maybe my lack on interest in sarees makes it easy to forget these advertisement).
If you start driving driving towards Kerala it is all about GOLD ... gold offers gold ... buy and win more gold. Handsome young movie stars advertising for gold (NOTE : Handsome not beautiful)

Mumbai is a little mixed ...Bill boards with the latest soaps ' Saas Aur bahu' ' Rishtey' .... and then those of big cars that you cannot possibly enjoy on the busy roads of Mumbai!
Isnt it awesome how are city bill boards know their residents and their interests so well?

So in the middle of crazy builders ads, this one caught my eye. It  had a little girl sitting with a teddy bear and her father holding a tablet in his hand as a present for the little girl. The tag line was that you if cannot afford it BUY IT ANYWAY and pay it off with EMI's. Really! And what is the message I give my little boy or girl. Its OK if we do not have money ... we have EMI's !

I am in the state where I am afraid of having an EMI for buying a house .... and that is considered an investment ... an appreciating investment. And here is an ad encouraging me to buy something for my 3/5 year old that once given to their hands may not survive more than a few hours!

As I read the ad to Suresh he let out a  'Hmphf' and asked which bank/credit card this was and when I told him the name he said
'Interesting - when I was growing up the tag line for this same bank was - Spend you money wisely'

Now time for some introspection
Suresh and I are terrible savers. We are foolish spenders. But somewhere between the terrible and the foolish we got ourselves into deep enough soup and credit card bills that we learnt to get out of debt. There was a time when we were each making $800 and had credit card bills worth a few 1000's. I still shiver when I think of those days. It was on one wisdom filled day that we cut up our credit  cards and got our act together and at least walked to the extent of not buying what we could not afford.

The current desire is to pass that financial peace to our children. We could try and leave them a huge inheritance ... but like the prodigal son in the bible, the two of them could blow it up in a matter of seconds and so what we really need to teach our children in financial peace. This means no EMI's  ... and no buying things if you cannot pay for it. Getting into debt is the easiest thing and getting out of it the hardest. Take it from someone who has been there.
I believe a part of the fault was the previous generation. They knew how to live within their means but did not share that wisdom with us.
Quoting Dave Ramsey here... '  most young couples expect to attain their parents’ standard of living within about five years. Only it took their folks 25 years to get there! It’s a trap. Don’t fall for it. '

I recently met a 23 year old who told me that she and her brothers were made to sit with an investment adviser by their father as soon as they got their first job and first pay. That was at the age of 16. They were taught to invest and save as soon as they were old enough to earn

I look forward to putting Isaac and Ziva through that. I look forward to telling them about the things we cannot afford. I look forward to talking to them about finance and saving and giving. I look forward to saying no to some of the things they want to buy because we cannot afford it. I look forward to passing the financial peace I received to my children at least in words. What they do with it ?... well that will be where I will be praying for them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wearing those Skirts ... Painting those nails

I am a jeans person. I am most comfortable wearing the same ragged jeans 24 x 7.
I rarely get a manicure and pedicure done. Once a month maybe once in 3 months. I rarely comb my hair straight ... I like it frizzy. I wait for it to dry now and braid it... I rarely let it open.

But having a daughter changes so much.

A few weeks back my maid came home laughing at what someone asked Ziva in the park and how she responded
Aunty XYZ to Ziva: Ziva you want to come for nail polish party
Ziva (Who I am sure has no idea what a nail polish party is ): Can I bring my mama too?

On second thoughts I think she does know what nail polish is ... else she would have said can I bring by papa too!!

More than anything I was thrilled that she wanted me to come along. I wonder how long that will last! I also wanted to knock Aunty XYZ on her head for asking my 3 year old for a nail polish party!!! But I did realize that I have a little girl and I need to start doing a few more girly things. This does not mean nail polish parties, but I think my little girl would enjoy painting  her nails. When I mentioned this to Suresh he flipped out! Oh God no ! was his response. 'I dont want her getting all crazy so young'
I responded 'If she is anything like me ... we wont have to worry about it'

A few days back I was wearing a wraparound skirt and swirled around to avoid a chair. The skirt did a little swirl. I saw that Ziva was noticing. She immediately got off her chair and started to swirl her dress.  
A friend of mine has been recently being showering me with a lot of beautiful colored trinkets and Ziva loves looking at me put them on.

While I do not agree with 'Run like a Girl' because my girl runs as fast as she can .... I think there are lot of things that a girl enjoys that should be enjoyed ...
Here is to many years of girly things ... painting nails, wearing skirts ... cupboard full of shoes ... long baths ...  combing my hair down ... wearing eye liners and earing drops!

And what about the boy... I recently wore blue colored eye liner and Isaac happened to notice it.
'Hi Amma your eyes are blue'
Thanks to the boys who will balance us out when we go crazy :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Public Display of Affection (PDA)

I have been noticing for a while now ... maybe a year or two ... that Isaac does not like it when Suresh and I hug. If he catches us hugging he will immediately push us away or make some kind of whining noise. At first I thought it was cute. He is jealous. But now I am thinking of all the strange cultural taboos India has and wondering if I should make and effort to show my 5 year old that it is OK to hug.

I saw this particular post on Facebook of 'Ironies in India' and this particular one  make me realize how we live in a world that is all about 'Dirty minds!' The tag line was
'Its OK to PISS in public ... but its NOT OK to KISS in public'

I keep thinking the next generation will be different. But I still see couples meeting under flyovers quietly having conversation because of either fear of the society or their family. I wonder if the problem is the society or the family. I think both should take equal responsibility.

So how can I encourage my children to realize that is OK to hug someone! It does not mean you are having an affair with the person or that you are hitting on them. How can I teach my children that there is such a thing as a healthy relation between a man and woman and everything does not end in the bedroom. How can I teach my children that there is special intimacy in the relationship between a man and woman after marriage that makes hugs healthy after marriage.

I guess I can start with hugging. I feel in the US whenever Suresh and I went for a walk we held hands. Here its seems like I think twice. So I have it in my head that PDA is not acceptable. Throw out the thought that I really do not care and maybe my children will learn about healthy relations from me and their father than the silly movies on Bollywood channels.
Someone was talking about counselling the younger generation and mentioned that the reason there were so many issues in society was because no one ever spoke about a healthy relation. Everything was behind the bedroom doors or in case of the unwed in hiding.

This brings up another point. Love! While Suresh and I openly fight, (well argue really loudly) I feel we show affection less often and this means my child is going to think marriage is about fighting. Similarly with my relation with my sibling/cousins. If I only have causal conversation with my cousins, that is all my child will understand of my relation with them. But if I hug them when they walk in and when I say goodbye, my children will imitate that affection to each other and also feel the bond I have with my cousins and thereby naturally develop and affection.

I have started taking the whole public display of affection to another level with hugs. Every time I have Isaac or Ziva say sorry to each other I always have them follow it with a hug. Maybe right now it may seem like  a superficial thing ... but I hope eventually it will rub in as a healthy way to apologize and feel the apology. I also get them to hug other kids who come to visit us. Its becoming such that now if Ziva cries,  Isaac will scream sorry a couple times and then squeeze her real hard. Now exactly they way I want things to go ... but we are working on it!

Guilty as charged : A young friend of mine recently changed to his profile picture to some friend (girl) of his and I asked him who it was and he said 'just a friend'.  I cross-examined him a bit and I was convinced it was 'just' a friend ... but my annoying questions caused him to change his profile picture. I guess Guilty as charged!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Writing on the wall : Daniel:5 - Quotes from Isaacland

Had to share this one from Bible time with the kids. Suresh is having his morning session with the kids. The story is about Belshazzaar and the writing on the wall.

Suresh: Isaac you know what the story from the Bible today
Isaac ... blank stare

Suresh: 'Writing on the wall'
Pause - Isaac looks at Suresh

Isaac: Its not good to write on the wall
Ziva: Yes we should ask for paper!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Broken Hearted!

It seems surreal. The more I think of that day … that morning … the more it seems like a really bad dream that I wish I could wake up from. But the nightmare continues and the person who has left us all broken hearted is really gone. Forever! I do hope someday I can see him again. I hope someday I can give him the hug I did not give him the last time we met. The last conversation I remember with him was -- him telling me he was coming to Bangalore to shop for second hand books at Blossoms and me getting him to promise that he would take me along. Not because I could not go on my own… but he knew the place better and I bet he knew where the good books would be sitting. Blossoms your regular book worm will not be coming back!
The time was 5:30 am the call was to Suresh’s phone but the call was from my side of the family. My heart started pounding immediately … expecting bad news … but I did not think it would be this bad. I heard only one side of the conversation …
Suresh: I cannot hear you cheta … you are breaking up …. What! … And ? What are you saying cheta?
And just like that in a few seconds … the youngest in our batch of cousins was gone! Gone forever. He was 10 years younger than me and so it wasn’t like we shared the strongest bonds. But I have so many memories from our childhood. Pinching his cheeks … kissing him because he hated girls. That was his favourite dialogue ‘I don’t like girls’ … made us girl cousins enjoy annoy him even more by kissing his cheeks.
A few days ago his brother shared with us a page from his dairy that talked about our native place and I remember the sitting on one of those walls along those fields on a wall talking about ‘Charles in Charge’ or some other American serial … and I wondered how even though he was 10 years younger than me, he knew about it.
Among my early memories of Pappu or Vivek as he was officially known was sitting in the living room of their living quarters and watching some documentary on Swami Vivekananda. The narrator mentioned that ‘Vivek’ meant Knowledge. Pappu about 3 or 4 I think (maybe younger) looked up from him game of something and looked intently at the TV. Then he turned to his father and said ‘Vivek’. I still remember the pride on Uncle’s face that in between all the games this boy had heard his name among all the other droning that the narrator had gone on about!
I left for the US at 22 … that means he must have been 12. When he moved to Mumbai for Med school I was not there and I feel like I missed a lot of his life. I always thought I would get a chance to bond once I got back to India. But he was busy and I was crazy. But it always seemed like when we met … we had never missed a moment in each other life. That was Pappu. He never made you feel distant of like an introduction to what was going on was needed. He always knew where to start the conversation and how to keep it going without hurting anyone or digging into deep wounds. I always called him diplomatic. He managed to stay in everyone’s good books. I even remember thinking once… I got to learn that art from him. And yet in the midst of all this he was watching us keenly … and being part of our life.
When someone older goes away forever … you somehow make your peace with it. But when someone younger and so much younger goes … peace seems so distant and the constant word in my mind is – Why?
We were all eagerly waiting for him to get married. All us girl cousins had this tag line – ‘ We need to buy a new dress’ and I think he once said … why do I need to get married for that – I can buy you one right away.
It wouldn’t be the same … nothing will be the same. Anything that this family now gets together for will constantly feel the vacuum of your loss Pappu. You landed for everything no matter which part of the country your were in … no matter what exams you had. We all have photos with you at our weddings and we are so grateful for that time.

The last time we met, I asked him ‘Da whats your plan?’ and he went into a passionate narration of how he was going to get into literature. You could hear the excitement in his voice even as he spoke about how hard it was to get into the University he wanted to study at. I told him how jealous I was that he was following his heart and I told him that if anyone was giving him a hard time, it was because they were not brave enough to follow their heart. I should have hugged him tight that time … but like an older sister who didn’t want to spoil her little brother I gave him a pat on his shoulder and he went away.

What do I say about him … being the youngest and a boy and a doctor you would think he would be spoilt rotten … but he was level headed, calm, and never let the good grades or the Med School admission get to his head. When I spoke to his school friends they all had this common thing to say – he never had to study! That was not the Pappu who showed up at all the weddings. He always asked questions and listened like he was gaining some knowledge from you.

As I waited in that house to watch him make his last journey, I kept telling myself I should just leave. I saw him there all wrapped up and with a smile on his face. I just wanted to leave. But every time I talked about booking tickets, I felt I would be leaving him in between something. And so I saw him all the way to pyre. And just like that you were gone. Vivek Krishnan I am so grateful to have you as my brother. You have affected my life without even me realizing it. You have left us all broken-hearted!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Insatiable need to get more answers

Whats your favorite animal?
Whats your favorite alphabet?
Whats your favorite color?
Whats your favorite bird?

It started with these simple ones. He asked everyone including a clueless Ziva .. when she had not even started speaking. He even decided that Ziva's favorite animal was a Zebra.
And then it went on to  ...
What does a baker do?
How do you make bread?
How do you make cupcakes?
How does the car go to the garage?
How does the car get lifted up?
How does the bags come go to the airplane?
Where is the control tower?
Why is the light blinking?
Whats your favorite truck?
How does the digger dig mud?
You get the idea...
I know I should encourage these constant questions. But there are moments that he catches me while I am trying to do something and am just able to keep up with his questions and then he gets snapped at.
'One minute Isaac!'
But the other day I got the most interesting question.
ME: 'Isaac XYZ is going to have a baby sister or brother soon!'
Isaac: 'Where is XYZ's baby sister/brother now?'
ME: 'In her mama's stomach'
Isaac: 'How did XYZ's baby sister/brother come in her mama's stomach?
I took the shortcut out of this one
ME: 'God put XYZ's baby sister /brother in there'
Isaac: ' But how did God put it there!'
Time out - mommy needs to think! He is almost 5 is it too early for him? I wondered. I managed to slime out of the question and then I found this book a few days later. It was perfect - just what I needed.
It was actually part of the 3-4 year old curriculum.

I had always thought that dad would teach Isaac about how we make babies and I could teach Ziva (gave me at least another year or two !) But in the light of recent events in Bangalore I decided I would teach them both and definitely be the one to tell my son. I believe moms need to actively teach their children (especially sons) about respecting women and its starts from right here - Where do babies come from?

Isaac listened intently as I used words like sperm and egg and while I was a little giddy he just seemed interested. At one point he looked and said - That looks like a tadpole!

I do not know how much he will remember of this,  but I am glad I got to be the first one to speak with him on this topic. Here is to more parenting topics such as these! Here is to being able to answer those questions! Here is to being there for them!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Being practical - at home

How many of you have heard the story of the thirsty crow ..? How many of you have tried it? Dropping pebbles into water to see it rise.

We have been reading a lot of stories thanks to Sonlight Curriculum and it is awesome. But once in the while I see the look of daze in Isaacs eyes. I really want to be practical ... hands on ...

A month or so ago we read the thirsty crow story and Isaac was more interested in his Lego set . (I know Lego is really good and they develop spatial skill ... blah blah blah ... but I am starting to get annoyed with Isaac's obsession on always having a few blocks in his hand)

So I tried to get him involved by his favorite method. Talking about the animal in the story. That is the best way to get Isaac involved - Animals. If we watch a movie and you ask him who his favorite character is ... its normally the animal seen most. He doesnt want to be 'Hiccup' in 'How to train a Dragon?' but  rather 'Toothless'. He doesnt care much about Kristoff in 'Frozen' but would rather be Sven (or simply as he puts it - the reindeer is his favorite character!)

But even with the talk of crows and ravens, I could not get him to really look interested. Finally I got up and said 'Isaac come ... we are going to try something' I found a small transparent plastic bottle (the one you get Johnson's ear buds in) and filled it with water and tried to recreate the thirsty crow story.
It took me three tries to get it right. First I put too little water. So the water just coated the pebbles and nothing happened. Second time I got enough water but I put in really big pebbles! As a result the water came up a bit and then there were just big stones!

Third times a charm!! Isaac and I went fishing for small pebbles and we watched the water rise up.  Then I held my finger like a crow and dipped it in pretending to drink water. Isaac gave out a loud laugh and I dumped out the water and pebbles and said 'Now you try'.

After a few minutes of filling water ... dropping pebbles and dumping out the water again. Isaac exclaims 'That was fun Amma!'
Made my day!

As I was writing this blog - I also realized that I had taught Isaac the Archimedes principle  ... Eureka .. Eureka ! There are some stories that always last with you ... for me it was a naked man jumping out of a tub ... I hope for Isaac it will be a crow and pebbles!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sibling Conversation

Years ago I remember my sister tell someone who had a single child - that sibling relationship was very important. While the argument from the opposite side was that cousins were enough - my sister vehemently said - its not the same as having a sibling
I did not think much about it then. Mainly because I did not even have one child at that point and the hope of having one was slowly dwindling away.
And then I had one ....... And then I had a second one.
And most days now I think that my head is going to explode with their arguments. Because boy they can drive you up the walls!
But then there are those treasured conversations and those cute role plays that make it all fall into place. And now my sister's argument makes complete sense.

Most of the conversation in the back of the car are
'He's looking at me'
'She pulled my hair!'
'His leg is on my car seat!'
'She is singing the song wrong!'

AAAA... its never ending. But the sweet ones make you touch your chest and sigh!
Ziva - ' You are a boy no ... I am a girl no!'
(The saying 'no' after each sentence ... is a recent addition to our syntax)
Isaac looks out of the window bored.

Ziva- ' You like boys no ... I like girls no!'

Mommy is pissed. Isaac still looks bored

Me - ' Why Ziva you dont like boys?'
Her all time favorite cousin is Mark and so I am confident she likes boys!

Ziva - 'Yes' (Suddenly looking confused)
Me - 'Which boy do you like the best?'

Silence from Ziva

Me - 'Isaac which girl do you like the best?'
I was confident that he would name some random girl in the park.

Isaac - 'Ziva'
Achoooo da! If I did not have to have two hands on the steering wheel and legs on the pedals, I would have turned around and hugged him!

I am sure he will rub off on my little girl too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

To view or to click

For father's day I wrote a blog on mycity4kids as part of a competition.

As I was writing this blog ... I really wanted a good photograph of the kids with Suresh and I went on a hunting mission. It was really hard to find. Probably because Suresh is the photographer in the family and I find the camera way to heavy. As I managed to find two that has Isaac and Ziva at the same age ... i.e. JUST BORN and put it on the blog, Isaac walked in. And so I started showing him pictures of when he was little and Ziva walked in. And I started showing her pictures of when she was little. And then we went into videos. I soon realized that we had spent almost an hour just looking at home videos of my first born and then my second born and then the bonding between the two of them as they grew up. I also has tons of me looking very good. :)
But there were very few of the man behind the camera with the kids - note to self - click more pictures of Suresh with the kids.
Why do I write this note to myself? Well every afternoon since that one afternoon, Isaac has been asking to see pictures of  'When Isaac was a baby' and 'When Isaac was reading to Ziva'
I guess if years later anyone (and by anyone I mean a teenaged Isaac and Ziva) complains Suresh didn't spend 'quality' time with the kids I have tons of photograph with the eyes of Appa looking through the lens trying to capture every ounce of cuteness there is!

I used to complain that Suresh clicked too many pictures when all I wanted to do was walk along and finish the chore we had set out on.  But this past week I am very  grateful for the numerous pictures clicked by Suresh! Thank you again!

My favorite of the three of us taken by Suresh is the one the mycity4kids website with me in the hospital robe new mom to 'TWO' babes ...

Here are a few other favorites!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Jab T.O. - 'To' hota hai Aur D.O. - 'DO' hota hai - Toh - G.O. - GO kyun hota hai --- GOO kyun nahi hota - Quotes from Isaacland

No No we are not learning Hindi at home. Its just that the current phase in Isaac and my life reminds me of Dharmendra's dialogue in Chupke Chupke.

 Jab T.O. - 'to' hota hai Aur D.O. - 'DO' hota hai - Toh - G.O. - GOOO kyun hota hai

We have entered a new phase with Isaac. He wants us to spell everything and anything we try to speak with each other in code language - aka spell it out - he wants to know it or tries to guess it .
It started with me spelling S.O.D.A. and Isaac figuring it out phonically. It got so bad that soon Ziva was saying - Amma I want to make S.U.S.U!!!

But English is a funny and annoying language and while we have talked about sight words - Isaac does not always accept all of them.
The first challenge 'Vulture' .... He insists it is spelt 'Vulcher'. Now after a few weeks he says am spell 'VULTURE' and refuse to use the 'ch' sound in the word!! Yikes!
Then came 'MOTHER' ... he insisted it was wrong. He insisted it was 'MODER'!

No we have just started telling him 'Isaac its a sight word. And that's the way its spelt!'

Here is another challenge 'School'. For some reason he loves the 'ch' sound and so we get - S - ch - ool!!!

English is a funny language! And for you Amitabh Bachchan fans -- let me leave you with this.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What will you pray for? Quotes from Isaacland

So Appa and Isaac are reading bible stories. First the story of Abraham and Isaac. Second, how the servant of Abraham prayed to find the right bride for Isaac.
Question session
Appa: Isaac do you pray and ask God for something?
Isaac: Yes
Appa: What do your pray for Isaac?
Isaac: A son and a wife!

Appa: Hopefully in the reverse order!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The insane Mama - Joys of homeschooling

I think every mother has a breaking point!  Its not only homeschooling moms that lose it. So I am sure I will see a lot of heads nodding. I think for schooling mama's these days comes mainly during the summers vacation. As a homeschooling mom I have these insane days every week. I do not really need to wait for Summer!
My breaking day - I notice - is Wednesday. The yelling and the screaming at the kids. The high decibel talk that only dogs can hear and occasionally --- the crying.
I cannot still understand how a 4 and a 2 year old can individually make me cry.

But these past two weeks have been a little easier. I guess thanks to 'Sonlight curriculum'
Now let me warn you - if you want your child to be ultra smart. This is NOT the curriculum for you.
If you want your child to be a child prodigy - This is NOT the curriculum for you.
If you want your child to enjoy learning - Bulls eye! Come check out the stack of books Sonlight sent me. Almost 90% of them story books for Isaac. 100% story books for Ziva

This past week I decided no matter whether I did the 3/4 year old Curriculum or the 4/5 year old curriculum - both Isaac and Ziva would sit with me. One big screaming and yelling reason is because Isaac gets in my way when I want t read to Ziva and Ziva gets in my way when I read to Isaac. But its stories ... they can both listen.

As a result we read Good night Moon again. A book Isaac has been seeing since he was age - 3 months. But it was like we were reading it for the first time. There were instructions at the back of this book that told us to look for the 'mouse' on each page. All those of you who have this book - do this exercise. The story takes a new level suddenly! And an add on to that was Ziva flipping through the pages on her own and saying -
Wheres the mouse - Isaac/ Appa/Amma?
I guess she is ready to teach someone!

But the important thing was I was not screaming on Wednesday. I did yell a little on Thursday. But it seems I have made it over the Wednesday bump. There were also small activities sprinkled around the curriculum and I love doing things outside the books. So we made pancakes and buckled all the belts we could find and painted the front steps with 'WATER'
(The pancakes were supposed to be pumpkin flavor in accordance with 'Peter Peter Pumkin eater'. The belts were in accordance to 'One two Buckle my shoe ')

Schooling at home is finally looking like fun for mama!

Tower of Babel - Ziva's world

So Ziva is flipping through a bible story book and she crosses the 'Tower of Babel' story. The picture shows a man pointing at the tower and looking angrily at another Man.

Ziva: Uncle is upset

I think I have been using the word upset a lot when I tell her I do not like something she has done!!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Keeping it equal - The sibling story

I always feel that everything should be equal between Isaac and Ziva. When Suresh opened a bank account for ISaac. I made sure one was opened for Ziva and when he dumped in some money into Isaac's account, I made sure he put in something into Ziva's account. It did not matter that both amounts just got swept off into FD's with high yields for Mom and Dad. It had to be equal! What if Ziva opened the bank account statement one day and saw the discrepancies in the amounts! Yes - I am paranoid. And Yes I am overestimating my little ones capabilities (or shrewdness). And Yes it does seem that somewhere in my childhood, I may have been scarred as the neglected/forgotten second daughter.

My councellor/ physcologist friends if you think I am over analyzing read below.
If I go to buy clothes for Isaac, I will buy at least one small thing for Ziva -- may it be even a bloomer! If I stitch Ziva a new dress ... I stitch Isaac a new vest.

When Isaac started Art class and I was feeling really bad of always leaving Ziva  at home with the maid. So I started a 'Mom and me' - Toddler program where Ziva and I could go and spend two hours together once a week at a play group. I was so determined that it be a Ziva and me 'only' time that on the last class when Ziva's teachers suggested I should bring Isaac along, I paused, thought and then refused saying this was special for Ziva.

I recently got the sonlight cirriculum and there was a workbook in it. So Ziva is going to get all of Isaac's second hand books. Now there is a workbook set in there. To keep things equal, I decided to make copies of this and use bound Xeroxes for both of them and keep the original as a reference.

I know its getting crazy right! But I only realized how crazy I am today! I got some groceries ordered in - and one item was a Chocos cereal box and with it came a 'Magic spoon'. I looked at the box and almost came upstairs to order another box with the hope that I would get one more 'Magic spoon'- It had to be equal. I stopped half way through ordering and started typing this blog!

The craziness has to end. I can be equal in another way. At least with things that are common to both Isaac and Ziva.

So tomorrow when we eat Chocos, they will both get bowls of milk and Chocos and ONE Magic spoon. Isaac will get one use of the spoon and then Ziva will get one use. And thus we shall learn to share everything possible (including cooties from each other mouth - if it helps Amma's insanity with equality)

Now the question rises - who should get to use it first.

Please pray for me as I approach this new phase of insanity.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A maze of questions : Quotes from Isaacland

Entering the new phase of life, Isaac now loves doing mazes. He loves tracing it with his finger and helping people and things find their way about. So I thought I would encourage this new interest. I printed out a bunch of mazes and there was one with a Pilgrim and a turkey.

Me: Isaac can you help the Pilgrim get to the turkey. See its thanksgiving and the pilgrim wants to eat the turkey
Isaac: No

So let me just elaborate - this turkey has feathers and a beak and looks all pretty whereas Isaac is used to seeing (in pictures) turkeys without the feathers or the face and roasted to a beautiful brown.

Me: Why Isaac? Pilgrims must eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
Isaac: No! Its bad to eat the turkey. It will get hurt

Me: Isaac do you like chicken
Isaac: Yes
Me: Do you  like eating chicken
Isaac: Yes
Me: Like that - the Pilgrim loves to eat Turkey
Isaac: NO!

A day later we were walking outside the gates and there were a couple of chickens walking about with feathers and head and all.
Appa: Isaac shall we eat that chicken (He had heard about our conversation the previous day)
Isaac: No appa!
Appa: Why Isaac?
Isaac: Because we must only buy chicken from the shop

I think a visit to the slaughter house is due!

Adam and Eve: Quotes from Isaacland

So Dad has taken up bible reading to Isaac and Ziva every morning. Last morning it was the story of the first sin. So he reads about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden. Then comes the snake and the fruit. And finally Adam and Eve get thrown out of the garden of Eden.

Appa: Isaac why did Adam and Eve have to leave the Garden

Isaac: Because there were too many snakes

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eating me up - Quotes from Isaacland

So I have been having major writers block and as a result have a lot of blogs in my 'draft' section but am not able to get it over to 'Published'. But here is one from the boy that makes me laugh so often!

So Isaac and I are looking at a book. Sometimes its hard to get him to stop flipping the pages and now I just start randomly reading things on a page he stops to stare at.
We happened to stop at a page where there was something about Hawaii.

And of course I had to gloat to my 4 year old
Me: Isaac you know Amma, Appa and Isaac have been to Hawaii
Isaac: No I have been to Mexico (I think he is going to gloat about that trip he took at age 1 year and 6 months forever)
Me: Yes Isaac and you also have been to Hawaii. You were in Amma's stomach!

I finally get his attention and now I am scared of how I will explain to him on how he got in my stomach. Well with him I guess I can go the test-tube route!

Isaac: You ate me Amma?

Lesson done!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sugar's story - My first attempt at writing my own story

As part of my Kathalaya training course last month, we were asked to write and enact our own stories. Here is what I wrote and boy was I a drama queen when I enacted it!
My props were : Dupattas of various colors (White for sugar, brown and black for chocolate and various other colors for lollipop), Sugar , Chocolate (milk and bitter) and  lollipops :)



How the Lollipop got its shape!
Once upon a time a long long ago there lived a lovely lady called Sugar. She was always dressed in white and her skin dazzled in the sun. She looked like the snow. She was a very kind and sweet lady. Wherever she went she would spread joy and happiness. People loved talking to her,. Children loved playing with her. But Sugar had one problem.


Chocolate was Sugar's twin sister. Chocolate and sugar were alike in a lot of ways. Chocolate also was a very nice lady and she was also kind and people also loved her. But every time Sugar was around Chocolate became bitter. She was acutally a beautiful brown color but every time she saw Sugar she would turn black in color. She was also never kind to Sugar.

One day Sugar and Chocolate were invited to a party. Now Chocolate was standing talking to a few people and playing with a few children when Sugar arrived. And a few children ran to Sugar to play with her. Chocolate was so mad. Even though there were people talking to her she felt like everyone was running and talking to Sugar. So she decided she would go say a few things to Sugar. 
'Well well Sister , if it isnt you again. Same boring you.'
Sugar just smiled. ' Look at me I am dark brown today, I was light brown yesterday. Tomororw I may be another color. But you . White white white! So boring. People taste you and you are gone. You are so small. If there is very little left of you they just dust you off their hands. But me ... people love me! Even if there is very little left of me on their hands they will lick me off. They cannot just dust me off! I can take so many different shapes. Hearts and triangles and balloons...just by squishing me in their hands. But you if we try to melt you either you will become liquid ... or you will become hard!

Sugar started to cry and ran away. She was very sad. Sugar had a favorite place... It was a place she could only look at and never go to. That was the fire place. But today she was so sad that she ran and sat next to her favorite place. And she was so sad that she did not realized that she was melting and slowly slipping away around tha place. She even turned a little brown and sticky! When she stopped crying she was all over the place... small puddles of Sugar everywhere.

Now this is where I come in. Who am I ... yes yes .. I am the storyteller.... but I am also the confectioner. 

I work with both Sugar and Chocolate. I love both Sugar and Chocolate. I think they are both unique and beautiful. I decided that Sugar need a little bucking up. Strengthening .. toughening up. I had seen all that Chocolate had done. So I walked up to Sugar. Picking up all her pieces.

'See Sugar. You may be sticky but when you are sticking its so easy to work with you. And because you are so small .. it is also quick to work with you. You melt like that (snap finger) and are so ready then to be shaped into anything.'

'Anything! 'Sugar said....
Yes lets see ... we can make you into a sqaure or a rectangle ... but I think the best shape for you would be a round circle ... because then it would mean you have a center.... one point that is just the sweetest.
And so what if you are white. I can put so many colors on you. Pink and blues and greens and reds... and If you are int a fun mood... alll colors together... And the best of all... when people taste you they will go ... pop... pop... And if I put you on this stick ... no one will dust you off their hands.! Sugar said ' Why a stick?'. Because then people will keep licking and licking till they finish you and then they will keep licking the stick and chewing it .. thinking about you.

And from that day onwards ... Sugar loved being popped .. .. lollipoped!

And Chocolate ... I made her such that every time she was without Sugar ... she would turn bitter!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Its too hot! Quotes from Isaacland

So turns out Isaac does not like his food hot. Room temperature is perfect! (I just need to ask sparkling or still and we will turn our house into the Marriott!)
We get into a lot of war about hot food. For instance the other day I made some Dosa and did not wait till the temperature was just right for 'LAAT' saab.
Isaac: ' Amma the dosa is so hot! Why do you cook the dosa?'

The icing on the cake was when I went on a baking spree during Christmas and baked a bunch of cupcakes. Isaac has no trouble when you say 'No' to him. Its when you say 'WAIT' that he cannot handle himself.
So he woke up from his nap smelling the cupcakes and came down to find them steaming hot near the oven. With his palms facing me he starts

Isaac: 'Amma I know you like baking ... but please dont put my cupcake in the oven!'


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Is it worth it? A visit to Kathalaya - Part 2

Kathalaya's intensive course is like a healing session. A chance to find the stories within you. And it turns out that even Aesop created his stories by this current situation. Aesop's fables according to me are the best way to teach a child 'character'.
Kathalaya was interesting because the lesson or teaching was not rigid. Given a group of 11 adults, the conversation was diverse and the path it followed was unique. The teacher, Ms. Geeta Ramanujam, ... followed our trail ... introducing concepts, telling us tricks, bringing out examples as we went to to deep conversations about everything in the world. Quite an entertainer, she told us so many stories that I could barely wait to get home to share them with Isaac and Ziva.
On the first day during a tea break, she shared with us this story of two fish. I am not sure what we were talking about, but she picked her hands making fish movements, moving back and forth and got all 11 of our attentions to a story suited for a 6 year old. I could not wait to tell Isaac this story. I went home and started narrrating story after story that I had heard and all three (Suresh, Isaac and Ziva) listened with rapt attention so much so that Suresh missed a work call!!!
Day two at Kathalaya passed so quickly with fun vocal activities, more stories from Ms. Geeta and a realization on how she used stories to reach to the deepest villages of India, breaking myths, bypassing superstitions, adding value to their life but most importantly, as she put it, learning so much from them. I also realized if I told a story (not read it), the language of the story did not matter. Everyone could understand a good storyteller. This was very important to me since I have been known to be a fast and unclear speaker from childhood. My words run quicker from my mouth than water from a tap!

Day three drew in a practical session. We were each asked to create our own story and showcase it for the others. I was a little whiny about it since I had reached home the previous evening past 7:30 pm and had to wake up early the next morning to prepare the story, props and my dialogues! But I guess the first two days of Kathalaya were so inspiring that I had lost all inhibition and the storyteller in me finally came out. 
The theme of my story was 'Why the lollipop is round?'. I had the easiest prop - lollipops. And I had so much fun telling the story. (Will put a blog up on the story soon). I came out feeling elated at the success of learning the art of 'storytelling'. But it was the very same evening that the question 'Was it worth it came up?' and I found myself wondering too. I had my question answered in two days

Isaac and I are struggling with reading and phonics.  I decided on Monday morning (Kathalaya finished on Saturday) to look up on the internet 'Story telling and reading' . The world just opened up for me! I found a website that shared how I could use story telling to teach words and reading and make it interactive and fun. That afternoon I tried it on Isaac. I can't say it worked like the click of a button because reading is a long process ... but half way through my story telling bonanza to Isaac, he started sharing his imagination and putting in his twist and turns to my story. He started adding characters and building up stories around them. 
That Monday afternoon I realised ... anything you put your passion to is completely 'Worth it!'

They say don't judge the book by the cover... Go read it... similarly ... got to experience Kathalaya to see why I am harping so much about it!

Is it worth it? A visit to Kathalaya - Part 1

When I saw the fees of the Intensive course at Kathalaya I thought ... Oh boy - this better be worth it!

Why do we always want to do something only if it is completely worth it. Why do we judge 'worth it' before have done something. Why does 'worth it' have to do with instant gratification.
The evening I finished the course, I met a friend and explained the entire three day course to her and the first words for her too were 'Was it worth is?'
I could not explain at that point ... but somewhere deep down ... I knew it was worth it.

My Kathalaya story --
I had been wanting to go to Kathalaya for a very long time. Ever since I wrote stories for a guy called 'Bob Shirk' on oDesk. Ever since he told me how great my stories were and that my son was lucky to hear them.
This a was job gig I was going online before I got my current job. I would get random topics and I had to write about 500 words at a 4-5th grader level. This job was super fun especially since once in a while I would get an assignment of a 'wild card'. A wild card was sounded this way 'a story of an elf who has to make a toy for a child with a name the elf has never heard of' 
These to me were the most fun. I had to make up a story. I initially thought they sucked till my employer came back with these comments

Comment: I loved your elf story. I'm kind of like Chris. I have seen it all, but this story made me laugh. I think the client will love it.
Comment 2: Another outstanding job! I think the client is going to be very happy!

So I was good at making up stuff. But then after one particular story he said - Your kids must be really lucky to hear such wonderful stories.

I realised my son was not lucky because I only knew how to 'READ' stories to him I never really told him a story  ... a story from me.
It was also around that time that I wrote about Aesop... it seemed coincidental that I should have to write about the most famous storyteller.  I 'Googled' storytelling and realized what a big thing it was and in all the google's I came across Kathalaya. I believe Kathalaya is one of its kind in the whole world. Its so famous that in my class there was a lady from Kolkata and a Singporean lady (currently residing in Delhi).
Even though all of the above and my desire to go to Kathalaya and take a story telling course happened around July last year, I was not able to make it till two weeks ago.
A three day course at Kathalaya where I expected to learn everything about storytelling.  I was in for a surprise. I don't think I learned everything about story telling, but I learned a lot about me!

Part 2 ... coming up

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why I write?

I always wondered how I started writing my blog. What caused me to start? More importantly why I never did it for the first 32 years of my life! And then suddenly it all came flowing out ... the humor ... the sarcasm ... the stories...TMI

A friend recently started blogging and she said she was inspired by my blogs. Definitely a feather on my hat. And while I was sitting in seventh heaven enjoying those moments of glory, I read her blog. She had poured out her heart into the lines of that first blog.

I realised what it was that had caused me to start blogging. Healing!
While many may enjoy talking to folks as a method of healing and others may go to a counselor and still other immerse themselves into work, I realized my blogs were self-healing for me. The moment I wrote it out and read it ... there was a sense of --- it's complete.
I dont even know if this makes sense. Who would think publicly telling/writing family stories would help anyone.  And while I tell my tales, I speak the truth with a twist of humor and fun ... making everything sound light. At least that is what I attempt to do.
Talking about tales and stories, a recent workshop with 'Kathalaya - Academy of storytelling' also revealed to me how storytelling was a great form of healing.

It was then that I realised why I write. Talking about me, sharing my challenges, boasting about my success over this interface where I never really see my reader or their expression gives me an intimacy with this blank paper and none with the actual person on the other end. And yet when people read, like and comment on my blogs it feels like a burden is lifted off.  Sometimes I look at the stats on Blogspot and realize that someone in Russia is reading. I really do not have any friends or acquaintances in Russia and the sense of anonymity of my reader adds in a twist of mystery. When I see that my blog about parenting has been clicked on I wonder what that other mother/father is feeling that they decided to click on my vague blog. I wonder whether they too have experienced the same kind of things. And then I realize what people mean when they say ... 'Everyone goes through it!' I do not like that statement by the way 'Everyone goes through it.!' No! my challenges, my problems and my feelings are only mine ... no one else goes through it. And my problems are the biggest because they are mine.

When you tell someone that their problems/success are also felt by others, you underestimate the level of sorrow/ joy they feel.  Whenever I have heard that I feel like ... am I overreacting to something that all feel. I feel judged and that's another reason I write... this blank white piece of screen that looks at my face ... never tells me to stop writing. It never tells me that the whole world had already read what I am about to write.

And that's why I write.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Proverbs 31 : My attempt!

Proverbbs 31 describes a 'good woman' or  a ' good wife'. While I cannot claim to being either, there are a few things in these verses I accomplished in 2013 and hope to keep going at a few  more in 2014 ... God willing!

2013 began with almost nothing. No goals, no real drive ... just a slow lethargic life. Then somewhere around May it picked up and its been a whirlwind since then. It got so busy that  someone asked me if I had more than 24 hours in my day!
In May, after Isaac had finished summer camp, I realized there was so much I could do as an adult too ... in terms of extra curricular activities. In July 2013, I attempted my first art activity. Dry pastels with Artsy Craftsy.!!! It went so well that I never looked back. The thing about doing something is .....when you do it well... you want to do more. My products at the dry pastel class came out so well that I wanted to do more.

Around the same time one of my neighbours posted an ad for stitching classes. Thank you Vishaka Ganjoo for setting up class and inviting us all to it. Stitching was a completely crazy class ...lots and lots of home work. Crazy Wednesday drives. A pushy teacher (by the way I realised I do better with people who push me!). And some lovely fabric. By November, when I pushed myself to finish off the course, I had stitched something for almost everyone I knew!!! Well yes that's an exaggeration but I think my sewing machine wanted to take the long tailors ruler and smack me on my butt!.

In the midst of all this I did more art. Coffee painting ... I never knew coffee could be used as a medium. It was more fun this time since I dragged along with me neighbours and enjoyed the company of other adults ... something I had missed for a long time.

In August, I got a fantastic offer. Working from home had always been a dream. I always thought it was impossible for a Medical Physicist to work from home since the clinic is our life. But God does work in mysterious ways and by the middle of September I was putting in at least 20 hours of work a week and feeling mighty pleased. It was good to put my knowledge of medical physics into use.

Somewhere in the September, a post by a friends - friend on Facebook inspired me to want to compost. A little civic sense and hopefully something toward the environment. I started dumping my wet waste into my pots outside the house. Life takes interesting turns and twists.

The dump from my kitchen exploded into a tomato plant. When the first flowers started to show up and I saw the excitement on Isaac's and Ziva's face as the fruits came in, I realized I wanted to do more of vegetable growing ... just to see their faces as the produce appeared at home! I ordered a Daily Dump composting pot set and began my journey toward organized composting. I bugged Aparna George the (friend's - friend) for seeds and was inspired by her drive to go 'Organic' for her kids!

In the midst of all this we were still schooling at home! It seemed crazy but my level of patience with the kids was far higher even though I was busy and crazy.  The say an idle mind is the devils workshop ...and I believe I was able to keep the devil out!

I ended the year 2013 with a big bang. Christmas Baking. This is something  I am inspired to do from my mother. Every year for Christmas, she would bake a bunch of goodies for our neighbours. Nankatis, cake, acchapam. We would put it on a paper plate and distribute it to the neighbours. I hated going to each house at that time. But now I think that was a fun way of saying 'Hello' 'I am sorry' or 'Thank you' to the folks who live around you. It gave the new year a new beginning. This year I baked for a whole week and came up with 40 boxes of goodies for my friends and neighbours. Thank to Lavonne I was able to make close to perfect cupcakes with yummy Italian meringue buttercream

Suresh added this message to the top of the box and it was perfect!

Christmas Love

God gave us the greatest gift possible. We needed it the most and deserved it the least. Jesus was born to save us from the penalty of all our wrongs in our life. He paid the consequences of our wrongs by dying on a cross, so we may be free.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:13

May Christ be born in our hearts this Christmas.
May we know His love for us.
May we show His love to others.

Suresh, Rohini, Isaac & Ziva


Here is a link to Proverbs 31.

Here are the verses that inspired me this year

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

Well my children really do not call me blessed! But when I stitch something and show Ziva I always get a 'Wow Amma so pretty' and  when I let Isaac pluck tomatoes or cut spinach I always get a 'Thank you Amma for gardening!'  and more recently 'Thank you Amma for drawing a Tiger for me!'

Suresh is my balance factor. Encouraging me to go on with anything I want to do ... making sure I do it well and stopping me when I seem to go crazy. For instance I saw a bunch of kids going for Table tennis practice and I felt like joining TT classes. I got a  'Yes because you don't already have enough to do' from Suresh!!! :)

Now if only I could get these verses in my system and I would be golden ;)
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.