Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Memories. From our family to yours.

I am starting to wonder at the number of times I use the word “memories.” It is shockingly - a lot! I live by memories. I live for memories. The only problem with memories is that it means being in past. At least when living the memory. It kind of makes sense how all of my traits are so connected. My affinity toward memories. My inability to let go. My need to reminisce. It is all one and the same. Sometimes it brings happiness. Sometimes, not so much. Two sides of the same coin. While I have this coin going for me anyway, I figured I might as well make the most of it. So sometimes I decide to think of happy thoughts. Only. 

I think I pretty much nailed it this year. Looking back at this year and thinking about all the things that I did and didn’t do - I feel rather content. As I was looking back at the happy times, I realized that none of these were my ego-fuelled king-size moments. In fact, most of my happy moments were tiny little pieces of my everyday mundane life. Shocking, huh!

My happiest memories with Siddharth are when we are sitting and doing nothing. Literally nothing. We don’t have our phones. We don’t have our laptops. There is no TV. There is no agenda. There is no work to be finished. Or at least we pretend like there isn’t. It is when we are just sitting and doing nothing. It doesn't happen as often as I would like it to happen. But it does. And we laugh and giggle for no reason. Siddharth giggles because he manages to annoy me, yet again. I giggle because I know I am not really annoyed with whatever it is that Siddharth did, but it is our thing, so I decide to be angry so we can both giggle. Slightly twisted. But almost everything with us is slightly twisted. Sitting idle and doing nothing requires nothing special, except for us being present. We try.

My happiest memories with Samaira are us sitting and eating dinner at dining table and her announcing “I am happy.” Or us jumping up and down for several minutes and her pausing to say “I am happy.” These are the moments when Siddharth and I look at each other with the expression of “Dang! She gets what it is all about!” My hope is that she retains this understanding. I hope she continues to get it when she is 5 and 10 and 16 and 24 and 34. I don’t know what happens after 34 because I haven’t seen it yet. There are times when she says “I am sad” too. And that makes her “I am happy” declarations that much more precious. 

My happiest memories with Rehan contain no words, no events. I make a memory with him every time he smiles. I am saying this from a very unbiased point of view that is absolutely objective, and has nothing to do with the fact that I am his mum. Clearly. Because I am capable of being so objective and not letting my emotions sway my feelings. Anyway. Coming back to the point. His smile. He throws a toy. He makes a mistake. He knows it. He looks at us and gives us the most mischievous smile that could ever exist on this planet earth. He throws it at us with his puppy eyes and rabbit smile. I was not given the heart to resist this smile. So I don’t even try. Sometimes I am so mad at him that I need to yell and I need him to understand that I am yelling. And then I see his downward pout, with a slight smile peaking through - and out goes my anger. He sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, walks to our room and when we turn on the light, he smiles at us. I could have been in deep sleep but seeing him smile at 3:45am can make me smile back at him. My memories with him are built of smiles.

I don’t think my words do justice to how blessed I feel when I am with my three bunnies. 

I like sleeping with these three. 

I like waking up with them. 

I like taking road-trips with them. 

I like going shopping with them. Actually, with Siddharth only. Shopping isn’t that productive with my two little monkeys jumping all up and down in the mall. Doesn’t work that well.

I like eating with them.

I like learning from them.

I like getting mad at them. 

I like spending holidays with them.

I like decorating Christmas tree with them. Actually it is more like de-decorating the Christmas tree with the two little monkeys. Every single day. When they decide to pull the ornaments out. Yet, again.

I like to love them.

And just when I think I have nailed it and it can’t get better, there is something to remind me that it is all a work in progress. For example. Just when I thought I have two kids who love each other, hug each other, take care of each other, they decide to pull each other’s hair, push each other, and yell “Go away!!” And just when I think “Oh, no! I jinxed it by thinking about it!” I see a ray of light. For example. When Rehan pulls Sammy’s hair and we ask him to say to sorry to her, he touches her head gently and strokes her. Sammy in turn gives him a hug and says “Rehan, say sorry. Say very very sorry please.” The pain her voice hurts me. But the innocence in her voice is worth it all. And the smile on their faces when they finally hug each other - priceless!

These ups and downs of parenthood - I enjoy. 

We build memories this way. These happy memories is how I recharge my batteries. This charging is absolutely essential for me as it gives me the composure when I am happy and the strength when I am not.

I feel content this year. I just hope I can be content in my no-resolution 2015 also. Happy New Year to everyone and hopefully this new year brings out the best in you!

Peace. From our family to yours.




My Positivity

It is somewhat weird this time.

Just as I was entering a grocery store today, I heard a mom talking to her kids behind me. 

Kids, this is the last stop. Please do not beg me to get you everything you see in this store. Let us finish this as quickly as possible. And as smoothly.” 
I chuckled. 

In a few minutes as I was getting some cashews, I heard one of her daughters say (no, I wasn’t stalking them) “Can I have this candy please?” 

What did I tell you when we entered the stored?” 

Ok fine Mom!

 I looked back and noticed the mom trying to hide her smile while she was trying to be strict and affirmative.

Hey mom - I hear you! And I don’t know why - I like you and your family. You brought a smile to my face. Although I was trying to hide that smile from you.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Comfort zone, much?

Siddharth and I alternate every month and we each come up with an idea for a date morning\afternoon\night when it is our turn. This month was Siddharth’s turn. A couple of weekends ago Siddharth asked me if I was free the following Thursday afternoon. I sometimes plan stuff like a class or meeting someone for coffee or lunch. But my Thursday afternoon was free. He told me that we will be going for a date-afternoon and the rest will be a surprise for me. Obviously, the suspense was killing me. I like to be surprised but I like to know too. But Siddharth won’t budge. On the day of, I started driving to wherever Siddharth was directing me toward. Few minutes later, we arrived at this sort of boxy but futuristic looking place. The words Renew, Refresh and Revive were written in such large font that I didn't really notice the name of the place. We went inside and were taken to a waiting room and given a standard bunch of papers in which we were supposed to take any liability off of the business. Essentially give our life away. You know what papers I am talking about. The usual. We then watched an introduction video of what we were going to do for the next 60 minutes. 

OMG! I realized why I was giving my life away. The place was a float place. It is some new (maybe not) concept in which you stay inside a super fancy pod filled with 10 inches of water and 800+ pounds of epsom salt. Making the water extremely buoyant. It means that you float automatically when you lay inside the water. As we were watching the introduction, my heart skipped a beat followed by racing at a 1000 beats\minute. 

My reaction was “Jeez Siddharth, you know I have drowned in 2 feet of water not too long ago (there is a story behind it, which I will leave for another day)! Why do you think I will be able to relax in an enclosed pod filled with water in which I am going to stay afloat for 60 minutes!

Trust me. It will be very relaxing. You just have to let go.” 

Let go. There you go. My biggest strength, if you get the drift. Just let go. Of my fear of water. 

We go inside the room and I see a minimalistic room. A shower, a bench with towels, and a white pod lit with futuristic blue light. My only question for the guide was “Will you be able to hear if I scream?”

I don’t understand how someone can chuckle at such an existential question, but both Siddharth and our guide managed to do that.

The guide did respond, “You can press this button inside the tube if you need assistance. But I promise you - you will be fine. There is also a fresh water spray bottle in case you accidentally get the salt water on your face or in your eyes. And you have the option to light the tube with yellow light, blue light, or the rainbow lights. I myself stay in this tube with the lights turned off though.”

That helps. Clearly.

The only thing left for me to do before getting into the tube was hi-five Siddharth. So I hi-five Siddharth. He wishes me luck. And because he doesn't need any luck, I tell him to have fun. 

Honestly I felt like Mila Jovovich (go figure!) in one of those sci-fi movies. I have seen way too many movies to feel completely fearless in a white pod filled with water, but I figured I will give it a go. 

I did.

It did take me a good 10-15 minutes to let go of the handle while floating in the water. But once I did, I realized that epsom salt does work. In fact, it works pretty darn well at what it was supposed to do. It was keeping me afloat. Once I was sure I wasn't going to drown, I could relax and let go of the handle.

Much to my surprise, I found myself actually relaxing while afloat in the enclosed tube. I decided to keep my eyes closed but still have the rainbow effect light on so it wasn't completely dark. I also figured I might as well meditate a little to get maximum benefit out of this activity. It is impossible for me to shun thoughts out of my head. There is only one meditation technique that works for me. Focusing on the point between the two brows while keeping my eyes closed. It helps me purge thoughts out of my brain. It works for a few seconds, before it doesn't work. And then I start working on it again. It is a cycle. It takes some time. As soon as I focused on that point on my forehead, all I could see (with my eyes closed) was that my two brows were not in the same line. I am not really sure why that was. 

Oh, the funny things that happen when I try to meditate. 

I do have to agree that it was an amazing experience. So much so, that I might actually want to do it again. I definitely have to give it to Siddhu for thinking out of the box for our date-afternoon. I can hardly think of anything that could top float in a pod. 

I am someone who prefers to be in my own comfort zone. I don't really get out of it. It is interesting how pushing the envelope of our comfort zone reveals aspects of ourselves that we didn't even know existed. I am quite proud of myself for relaxing and enjoying an activity that I am so fearful of.

As kids we tend to be more fearless. We believe more. We expect less. 

I see Rehan and Sammy and I see those qualities. I realize that their innocence is a combination of several qualities including fearlessness & faith. They don't even know that they have these qualities in them. They are quite badass that way. The quality of getting out my comfort zone requires me to be more fearless and to believe more. I wish I had preserved the child in me. But since I did not do that, I can obviously work on getting those qualities back. A tiny fraction at a time. I do have good models around me.

Wonderment. Confusion at parents' obsession with the camera. Innocence. Fearlessness. Faith. Trust. What else?
My Positivity

My little girl turned 3 on December 17. While it is a big milestone for her, it is a bigger milestone for me. She is growing up quite effortlessly. It is me who is struggling with her growing up so fast. She was born just yesterday! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three!!

They say it will be a big tide
It will completely change your life
It will change you from inside
Though I am not sure if it is a 100% right
You shine like a star - shiny and bright
It makes me see myself in a clear light
I don’t think I have changed as much
I have stayed pretty much the same as such
I have just realized there is so much more
Than to be victorious and to reach the shore
You helped me learn to stop and pause
For no special reason but just because
Thank you for being born to me
I can’t believe you are all of three!

THREE - How?! When?!

Happy Birthday, my caramel popcorn
Happy Birthday, my double fudge chocolate brownie
Happy Birthday, my french fries
Happy Birthday, my Sammy!

My Curious George

Monday, December 15, 2014

Perfect is not Good. Good is Better.

We have cleaners come to clean our home every 2 weeks. They are amazing people and god bless them for pouring their heart out in cleaning our super messy home every two weeks. For full five minutes, if we are lucky, our home looks like perfection. But 15 minutes later, it starts looking almost the same as it did before it was cleaned. We have legos and puzzles and balls and granola pieces and books scattered all over the floor. Honestly, with two toddlers in our home, I expect nothing different. It is all per the usual. I have no problems with that. I almost revel in the fact that kids are being kids. While I don't encourage mess creation, I don't hyper-sweat when I see mess being created minutes, sometimes seconds, after our house is cleaned to perfection.

It is not as if I have a problem with perfection. I just have a problem with the side effects of perfection. I feel like perfection is very heavy. It weighs me down. I am good when things are good. The level of good that makes me happy but doesn't quite weight me down. I don't know if it makes any sense, but there is beauty and innocence in good that somehow goes missing in perfection. 

I plan things in my head in great detail. I plan exactly how things must go down. I plan when a certain event will most likely occur and how best to prepare myself for it. I plan a lot. But the birth of my two kids has taught me to wear that planner hat with a little bit of a twist. The twist that the intended outcome may or may not happen, sometimes with equal probability. The birth of my kids has taught me to be, or at least pretend to be, calm and poised if the planned outcome is not achieved. More often than not, it is in fact not achieved. And I have learned to love it, more often than not.

I think Samaira’s birth definitely morphed us into parents we weren't going to be otherwise. It is safe to assume that if it weren't for Samaira, we would have been extremely sensitive about milestones, competitive stuff (whatever that means for kids), private schools to provide the best education, and so on. Not to say that we don't care about these things anymore. We do, but in a slightly different way. We have noticed us really celebrating our kids’ milestones, and not necessarily anticipating them because they are a certain age. We love to see Sammy being able to arrange things in order and Rehan being able to say multiple words. Milestones matter, just in a different way. It is also not to say that we don't believe in competitive stuff. We will do what is best for our kids, without  excessively dwelling on the external factors that are known to influence kids one way or the other. 

The other thing we have learnt as parents is to never say “we will do things a certain a way…for sure.” That concept does not exist. We may claim one thing, and only time will tell what becomes of it. So while we believe in public schools for now, who knows how things will ultimately work out for our kids. The point is, we aim for doing the best possible thing for our kids at a given point in time, without targeting perfection. The best need not be perfect, if it makes any sense

I have also realized that my parenting style is far more relaxed, mostly because my sister totally modeled it for me without even realizing it. She has a very relaxed parenting style, and I love it. It makes sense to me. She loves her kids. She is obsessed with her kids. She cares for her kids. But she hasn't created a hyper-world around her kids. She lets them be. She gives them the space to grow on their own without weighing into every single aspect of what they should believe in, or what they should become, or what they should say\eat\wear\etc., or how they should grow. Its almost like she takes care of her kids without clouding them with her care. The result is not perfection as people will define perfection, but it is pure awesomeness. 

Awesome > Perfect. Any day. 

This may seem abstract in words, but it is a lot more crisp when you see someone parent this way. I admire my sister’s ability to let go while still being crazy about her kids. So I try to mimic that in my life. I think I am only partially successful because letting go is not my forte. I am far less relaxed than my sister, but she has influenced me greatly.

I do have my fair share of things that keep me up at night. The latest being Samaira’s speech. She has started stuttering a lot over the last few weeks. A little bit of reading suggests it happens to a certain percent of kids and goes away with time. But my hyper active mind makes up all sorts of stories that could be causing it or could result from it. Another one is finding out Rehan has a big bump in his head and we had no idea when or how or where he got it. I touch the bump and assume the worse. So without even going into the world of perfection, I see myself worry about my kids’ health and well-being.

My rant on perfection versus non-perfection is never ending. The point is, I feel like I restrict my Pandora’s box of parenting by letting go of perfection. Works for me as long as I can work it in.

Kids never looking into the camera...that's good.

My Positivity

Sammy and I went to see the Nutcracker ballet. While she followed none of it, she demonstrated the patience to sit through it. Occasionally screaming “Wooow, snow!” I realize this isn't a guarantee of a repeatable behavior, but it made me happy nonetheless.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy place

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of an airport? 

Change.” This is the first word the comes to my mind.

Going to an airport is invariably a very thrilling and exciting experience for me. Mostly because it means a change. I need change from time to time. Change in the scenery. Change in the routine. Change in my to-dos. Change in the priorities. Everything except for people. I want people in my life to be a constant and everything else to change from time to time. 

So, I like change. And I think of the word “change” when I think of airports. A corollary to this logic is that I like airports. I very much do. I love airports. They take me to a happy place.

We by no means are an elegant family. I don’t think we will ever be, no matter how grown up we or our kids become. I have a feeling. At any given time, we have one screaming kid, one crying kid, one kid running off to another gate, one kid running behind the counter to chat with the air-hostess, one kid running toward the escalator going in the opposite direction, one kid lying flat on the ground because they want to be lifted, too many luggage items (no matter how light we want to travel), and too few hands and brains to keep it together. So we are the farthest thing from being an elegant family. 

In spite of it all, airport is my happy place. 

Because it means change.

We took a trip to Mexico (again) last week. This time to Mazatlan. And no, we did not lose our camera this time. It came back in once piece. Almost. Except for the time when we dropped it in the ocean, accidentally. But nothing happened. Not yet anyway. This is not the only reason why our trip to Mazatlan was so memorable. We went there with some of our favorite people, which is what it is all about anyway. The excitement for any trip begins the minute we shut our garage door close to head to the airport. At first it does not necessarily look like excitement because it is accompanied by random but somewhat important questions like did-I-take-my-sunglasses, did-I-keep-the-passport, did-I-close-the-garage-door, did-I-turn-off-all-the-lights, and the catch all question which is the mother of all questions, did-I-forget-anything-else. But once we are at the airport, pretty confident that we are not going to miss the flight, the excitement breaks all the barriers and surfaces up at the top. At that point, airport feels like the North Pole. A place where dreams come true. Coupled with the anxiety of two toddlers in a confined space is the anticipation of arriving at our destination. Mazatlan was good to us. Most of our vacation involved some combination of pool, ocean, walks, naps, food, drinks and most importantly, nachos. I could get so very used to it all.

The funny thing about vacations is that no matter how good it is, how long or short it is, how much we want it to last longer - it somehow feels good to come back home and sleep in our own bed. It rounds the vacation really well. Of course, for the purpose of our bubble, we will conveniently ignore the part that involves unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning, et al. 

We brought back some memories from our happy place.





We were supposed to head back to the airport the day after we got back from Mazatlan. This time it was for the North Pole. To meet Santa. It was an event organized by our local down syndrome community, Delta Airlines, the Fire and Rescue department, and a few other sponsors. Back to our happy place. How could we complain. All four of us were super excited as we headed to the airport. We were greeted and taken to a special security check organized for this event. There were balloons, folks dressed in red and white, and overall happy-festive-Christmas spirit. We were taken to gate A13, where we were going to board a Delta flight and go to the North Pole. While we waited at the terminal for all the guests to arrive, there was singing, dancing, and more of the same to start our journey. The place was completely decorated. We sat in the plane as it got ready to take off to the North Pole (aka Delta Hanger). Thirty minutes and some food and dance sessions later, we arrived at our destination. Right before we arrived at the hanger, we did have two massive fire engines pouring water on our plane from both sides, to mimic the North Pole weather. While every single minute of that evening, no exaggeration and no joke, was very very special, this particular moment did it for me. It teared me up. I don't know why. I think it was just the realization of the sheer goodness of people around us. All the people who worked on this project over the last six months to make it such a huge success, all the volunteers who were present that day making sure that every single guest was having a good time and felt special - all of it - it came from a very pure place in their hearts. And that made me tear up a little. Stepping out of the plane was nothing short of a miracle. The hanger was lit and decorated and had a vibe that couldn't be matched. Every single soul present there had a lot of fun. I can promise you that. There is so much goodness around us. In spite of everything, we know that people are capable of the selfless and the good. That’s what a heart does to you people. I wish all my airport trips were this special.

We soaked it all in. Our happy place.



Monkeys will be monkeys

The fact that airports are my portal into a dreamland, be it a vacation destination or my home sweet home, is not lost on me. 

Here is to everyone’s happy place, wherever it is.

My Positivity

Every. Single. Thing. That. Happened. Last. Week.

It was all way too special.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Welcome Winter

Last week was all about cookies and cakes and pumpkin and pasta and carrots and beans and bread and chocolate wine and chocolates and friends (more like family) and cold weather and snow and shopping and Vancouver and lights and aquarium and good company and tired kids at the end of the weekend.

Need I say more. 

The week was made. Thankful. So very thankful. For everything that we have and everything that we don’t have. But mostly, for all the people in our lives. Our people are our pridest non-possession possession.  

There are many reasons why I like the holiday season. I can be very repetitive when it comes to the holiday season. But I can’t help it because it brings out the child in me that likes repetition. You know. How kids can hear the same story over and over again and don't seem to get bored of it. At all. Kind of like that. You can keep talking to me about the holiday season and I will be happy to listen to it till the eternity. 

Anyway. Like I said. Many reasons why I like this season. Here are some.

It brings people together. My favorite part, but of course.

It calls for baking. Lots and lots of it. Bake sweet. Bake savory. Bake it all. Plus the warm oven keeps the house a tad bit warmer. 

It means exceptionally good food. Don’t even get me started on this topic. It starts with Diwali and it ends with the new year. With Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas sandwiched in between. What a layer of yummies it is.  

It lets us bring the cozy out. The blankets. The hot coffee. Nice and fuzzy. By the way, Sammy likes pulling her blanket out and she says “I want to be cozy.” My girl. 

I can officially go to the grocery store in my PJs on the Thanksgiving day. Because, come on. Everyone understands that we need to do last-minute super-efficient shopping run on the day of. And christmas colored jammys are totally acceptable and people cannot judge you for that. Mostly.

The snow. If and when it happens. I like that it makes everything spotless, at least for sometime. I also like that it reflects all the light back. Shiny.  

Rehan and Samaira can run around a huge Christmas tree. A giant Christmas tree can make all the fancy or non-fancy toys useless. Why use toys when you can simply run around and chase your sibling. Plus it gives them one more place to hide when playing hide and seek with each other.

It can sometimes result in power outages. And you may or may not already know how I feel about power outages. I think they are great.

It gives me more food for thought when telling made up stories to the kids.

It makes me miss my parents, my siblings, my nieces - my family - even more. One could wonder how missing someone is a good thing. I wonder too. I definitely wish I was closer to them than far. But it is just a constant reminder of my fondness for these special people in my life. And that, I am happy about. 

It means lots and lots of lights. Inside people’s homes. Outside. The light that reflects from the snow on the ground. Everywhere.

We can layer up, take a walk around, peek into people’s windows from far to see their well decorated and well lit Christmas trees. This peeking part may make me sound a little creepy. But I promise I am very inconspicuous when peeking into other people’s homes. I am sure no-one even notices that I am doing so.

The list of why I like this season is somewhat endless. But this attempt at articulating it crystalizes it even more in my head. It reminds me of everything that I am thankful for. Everything that I am so fond of. 

Now, here we are. Venturing into December. Last month of the year that makes my heart skip a beat. Just because of how gorgeous it is. All the reds and the golds and the greens and the whites come together to form a perfect magical kingdom. It feels like a fairytale waiting to be told. When comes a time of the year that acts as an unstoppable force and gets people in celebratory mode, just embrace it. Hang on to it. For as long as possible. Because it will pass. And then we will want more of the same. But there will be other seasons to welcome, other reasons to celebrate. 

So hold on to this polar express as tight as you can. It will make this winter warm for us all. 

Poking.
If only, they could keep their hats longer than 5 seconds.

My Positivity

Kids were home most of last week because of day care closing, holidays, et al. It felt like they had suddenly grown up or something. They spent a long time just playing, interacting, fighting with each other. They did not come to us to get entertained. 

Samira likes reading books for Rehan. She opens her book and says “Where is ball, buddy? Can you point at the ball?” She then turns the book toward Rehan for him to point. Rehan points at something in the book. Sammy takes a closer look and says “Thtat’s right, buddy!”  This exact sequence of events tends to repeat several times in a day.

This other time, Rehan grabbed a box of crackers (somehow) and took it to Sammy. He gave the box to Sammy and said “kackers.” Sammy, obviously, in her big sisterly fashion said “Do you want crackers buddy? Sit down. Right here.” She then handed out a cracker to Rehan and ate one herself. They sat together and finished the box of crackers. The entire time, the look on their faces was like they were conspiring to do something. They clearly did.

This. Right here. Will be my positivity. Forever.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

I am happy

Some people have a genuine face, some do not. Some people are genuine, some are not. But when it comes to kids, it is safe to assume that they are as genuine as they look and sound. Think of all the good adjectives that are like ‘genuine’ and you can pretty much use any of them to describe kids - honest, innocent, true, authentic, and so on. Anyone with kids can vouch for the fact that these little cookies are fully capable of shocking us with the how much they can comprehend and digest and reflect. 

My nieces, our friends’ kids, my Sammy & Rehan - they never cease to amaze us with the amount they understand. With or without words.

Just the other day, the four of us were having dinner and suddenly Sammy announces “I am happy.” At first Siddharth and I stared at each other with the expression of “Is she for real? Did she just say that?” And then Sammy repeated “I am very happy.” There are some meaning-of-life moments and this was one such moment for me. The simple act of having dinner together coupled with giggles for no good reason was enough for my almost three year old to realize and tell us that she is happy

The evening dance routine is quintessential to Sammy and Rehan. Sammy brings my phone before bed time and says “I want music.” Every night. Without fail. When we play music, both the kids scream with joy ‘Yeeaahhhh.’  I can see how happy they are.

Siddharth and I went together to pick up the kids at the day care today. Rehan detests sitting in the car seat from the bottom of his heart. And he does not hesitate to make it very clear to us. So he sat in the car seat and started screaming at the top of his voice. Sammy, in her typical big sister fashion asked him “What happened buddy? Are you ok buddy?” We started singing rhymes and songs. Nothing worked. Probably because we were not louder than his screaming cry. Sammy looked at him and she was on the brink of crying. Then we played their favorite song in the car and as soon as the music started, they both were silent. In the next 30 seconds, they went to smiling. And in the next 30 seconds, they went to giggling. Siddharth and I felt very guilty and said “We are bad parents…we had to resort to the media to get our kid to stop crying.” But we very conveniently and quickly got over the guilt when Sammy and Rehan were giggling. We even waited in Walgreens’ prescription drive-through line for about 20 minutes waiting to pick up a prescription. They survived that 20 minute wait with the help of this music. And Sammy announced, “Happy. I am happy.” Sitting in the car. Waiting for 20 minutes in a drive through line. And these kids are happy. Obviously. They have everything they need. Music. Each other. Us. Anticipation of some yummy-yummy in their tummy. Clean diapers. What else do we need?

Such times are the hence-proved moments of the fact that you don't need much in life to be happy. It is the small little things that touch your heart and make the rest of your body & people around you so very happy. 

This thought is not intended to crush aspiration and ambition by any means. We all aspire. We have ambitions. It is what drives us. It is what gives us purpose. Sometimes, it is what gives us meaning. And it is great. To have aspirations and ambitions. To have that thing that makes you wake up every morning with an instinct to conquer the world. To make the day yours. To do the right thing. But while we are on this mission and purpose to make our and others’ lives better, there will be small little moments that are absolutely intended to take your breath away. Allow your breath to be taken away. Allow yourself to be in awe of such moments because while you are on your journey to find the purpose in your life, these small junctions will fuel your engine and give you the horsepower you didn't think you had. 

Most of us get there. To the point at which we realize there is more to life than the obvious. A lot of times that happens through a medium. Kids. Dogs. Paintings. Food. Milestones. Loss. Anything. A medium. But we all get there eventually. Sooner or later. And that is awesome. In a world that is far from perfect, knowing that we will all understand what happy is all about, is powerful. It reinstates my faith in all that is good. All that works.

So when Sammy wakes up in the morning and we hear her on the baby monitor say “Rehaaaaan. Wake up buddy.” And when we rush to get her from her room so she does not wake Rehan up. And when 5 minutes later we realize that Rehan woke up anyway as he walks into our room, standing next to our bed, staring at us, trying to reach for us, waiting to be picked up by us. I know it is all cool. Because the next 15 minutes of the four of us goofing in the bed is happy. It makes Sammy and Rehan happy. It makes us happy to the moon and back. 
In Sammy’s words “I am very very happy.” 

We got this. Finding happy in this crazy, imperfect, sometimes nonsensical world. We have a hypothetical yet valuable Master’s degree in that. 

Carlin Ma Photography

My Positivity

Rehan has started saying more and more and he just got the cutest of the lot. He started saying Sammy’s name. He calls her “Tammy.”  When I pick Rehan up at day care and he doesn't see Sammy, he runs out of his class room shouting "Tammy". When I ask him where Sammy is, he points to her classroom and runs to the door to get her.

Ah. My breath away! 



Monday, November 17, 2014

Entitlement

My siblings and I grew up in a very humble and loving environment. My parents loved the three of us like crazy. We never felt like they loved one of us more than the other. Even though the three of us are very different people. We give and receive love very differently. But my parents never let that affect how they loved us. It was equal love. Always. I talk so much about love because that is probably the most prominent sentiment, thing, object, or, artifact I remember from my childhood. We were a typical middle class family growing up. We ate good food at home. We indulged in sweets/chocolates, maybe, once a month. Sometimes once in two months. And whenever we did, it was such a treat. We ate out, maybe, once in 1-2 months. We did not grow up drinking soda. I don’t remember ever bringing soda into our home. We only had it when we ate out, if at all. We received new clothes on our birthdays and all major Indian festivals. It was our thing. We celebrated all Indian festivals in all their glory. I still hold on to those memories very dearly. I continue to celebrate some of the important festivals even today. Not for their religious significance, because most Indian festivals do have some sort of religious background behind it, but for my childhood memories. I valued every thing we purchased - toys, stationary, outfits, shoes, bike, school bags. Everything. I did not take these things for granted. I felt like I had a sufficient amount of everything I needed. But not excess.

Contrasting that with how we are today. I buy clothes, shoes, sweets, soda, stuff in general - without giving it a second thought. I buy things when I think I like something. I don’t think I am extravagant or careless. I am always looking for something new. For myself. For the kids. Sometimes for Siddharth. I am very careful when I buy something for Siddhu because buying something for him totally stresses him out and he questions the new purchase till eternity. According to him, he never needs anything new. Pretty much ever. Anyway. The point is, I do this thing. My kids are growing up in an environment in which they get clothes, shoes, toys, gifts, goodies, everything - anytime, all the time, on no special occasion. We have a room full of toys, a closet full of clothes, a stand full of shoes, a pantry full of snacks and food. I was a little hesitant in writing this post. Because I did not want to sound braggy. By no means is this a brag. Definitely not a brag. In fact there is a little hint of feeling what-am-I-doing-with-all-this involved in this.

The point is also not that former is better than the latter. It is not that I promote living with less, or sufficient or more.

But I wonder. I wonder, how best to provide an environment where my kids appreciate what they have, and know that they will have to work very hard to get most things in life. How do we teach them to not take things for granted? How do we tell them that abundance is not the norm. It is an exception. And that we need to value things that we have. We have to earn everything in life. And in spite of that we may not get everything we worked for. Because life isn’t always fair. I am not really sure where I am going with all this. But I am just hoping Samaira and Rehan will not develop a sense of entitlement. As of right now, I don't know how I will prevent that from happening. I don’t know how I will inculcate gratitude and wonderment for things. I really want them to be able to appreciate what they have. Not take it for granted. Work hard for every new thing they want.

I want to make sure we are raising kids minus the entitlement. And if they ever fall into the trap of the evil-entitlement, then how do we bring them back? I am fully aware of how little we can control and govern what our kids will do, or be like, or  aspire to be, or dream of. We come with our own destiny. We write and re-write our own destiny. Samira and Rehan will own their actions, reactions, destiny and paths. But a sense of entitlement is not something I want to impart to them. So, God help me in doing the right thing. And if anyone, ever, has any ideas - please let me know. I need to know. I need to do. Do the right thing. In this one case for sure.

Minus the entitlement.

My Positivity

Earlier this week, Siddharth thought it is a good idea to have a dance off with kids before going to bed every night. Until they are totally tired. They kind of dig this routine now. The four of us dance to the latest Hindi songs for 15-20 min every night before hitting the bed. After our dance offs, kids pretty much walk to their beds on their own and are happy to fall asleep. Hubs' idea is a genius. My favorite part is Sammy asking for it on her own now. For the last two nights, after we have changed the kids into their jammies, Sammy says “I want to dance.” Oh well. So we dance. Mostly jump. Or run after each other.

Thankful. For the husband. For the daughter. For the son. Who are full time entertainment. They plaster a smile on my face. Most of the times, anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2014

That Middle

“Everything is fine in the end. If it is not fine, it is not the end.”

I came across this phrase over a decade ago and it has since then stuck with me. I am impressed with both, the idea and the optimism, in this phrase. The possibility of eternity in the hope for that perfect ending is quite wistful. On face value, it seems like the mental place to be, the thought to hold on to, the wish to wish for.

It is only recently that I have started to look beyond the face value of this favorite quote of mine. The more I think about it, the more I realize the futility of overly sticking to it. The underlying mentality revealed in this simple expression highlights a certain affinity to the destination. To the goal. I do think that this affinity is much needed for our effective existence in this corporal world. But I have also noticed how I tend overlook the essence of the tiny little moments while I am on my way, very focused toward that destination.

We meticulously plan our first impression so that it is as perfect as it is memorable. We careful strategize our perfect ending so it is as perfect as it will be happy. The beginning and the end tend to be so important that “the middle” is all about “how to get there” as opposed to just “being in the middle.” I know middle doesn’t sound half as fancy as the beginning or the end. But the fact is that we spend most of our time in the middle. So treating middle as a means to an end, as opposed to a whole entity in and of itself, is a tad bit unfair.

I have a strong feeling that I, for one, will be much happier if I didn’t worry as much about the perfect beginning or the perfect ending, and instead focused on the middle. I didn’t use the word “perfect” to describe “middle” because it isn’t about the middle being perfect. It is about us being present while in the middle of something. It could be perfect. It could be imperfect. It could be terrible for all we know. But it is about being there. In the middle.

Talking about middle may seem rather pointless. But given the amount of time we spend in the middle, it doesn’t only make philosophical and emotional sense, but also logical and mathematical sense. It is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend in a specific phase. Being present in the middle will optimize our satisfaction and happiness curve just because we decide to be a little bit more present in the middle. Kind of cool, it is.

I am writing about it just today, but I have been thinking about this slightly obscure concept for the last several months now. I have pondered over my need to start things well and my obsession for the destination, but have somewhat struggled with understanding what “being present in the middle” even means for me. I feel like figuring this out would be like cracking the code of life for me. My hypothesis is that there is an objective definition for “being present in the middle” that means the same things for anyone and everyone. Even if it is applied to very different situations. For my situation, it could mean certain specific things.

Like -

Enjoying the process of cooking as much as I enjoy eating.

Enjoying the process of quilting as much as I enjoy the warmth of the quilt.

Enjoying the process of putting kids to sleep as I enjoy falling asleep myself afterward. This one is a little hard, especially when I am drop dead tired. But there is something to be said about enjoying the mischief and cuteness that emerges from Samaira and Rehan as we get closer to bed times.

Enjoying a workout as much as I feel relieved when it is done.

Enjoying a drive as much as I enjoy getting to my destination.

So this is what it may mean for me. I think. I am still figuring it out. Don’t have it nailed yet. It might take a while before I nail it. But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the process of getting there. Enjoying its imperfections, its frustrations, its joys, its achievements, its sadness, the whole jabang. That Middle. I am going to get you some day.

...A part of my middle...that was easy :)

My Positivity
 
This week had way too many. But I will stick to two.

I made my first quilt.
 

I took my first photography class. Friends, Family - you have been warned. I might bug you forever and ever.
 

                                                                                                                                                             

Monday, November 3, 2014

Maybe

Sammy and Rehan have a story book called Zen Shorts. One of the stories in that book is about an old farmer who has a son and a horse. One day, his horse runs away and his neighbors come to console him saying “this was too bad.” The farmer responds with “maybe.” The next day his horse comes back with another horse and the neighbors say “this is great.” The farmer responds with “maybe.” The next day the farmer’s son was riding the new untamed horse and he fell down and broke his leg. The neighbors said “this was too bad.” The farmer said “maybe.” The next day army folks came into the farmer’s village to draft soldiers. They did not select the farmer’s son because his leg was broken. The neighbors told the farmer “this was great.” Farmer again responded saying “maybe.” The moral of the story is that you never know what is going to happen next and it is always good to stay humble in your ups and downs. While I don’t endorse being a saint by any means, I think there is strong merit in this philosophy. To not be overly affected by the good and the bad. The philosophy to be calm and humble through extreme successes and extreme failures. As much as humanly possible anyway.  

Now here is the ironical part. I was thinking of writing on this topic last week. But I decided to swap the topic literally as I started to type and wrote on something else last week, pushing this topic to now. It is ironical because little did I know that it will come in quite handy for me this week. My company announced a bunch of lay-offs and my position was eliminated as a part of it mid last week. I asked them exactly two questions. The first question was if I was the only one being eliminated that day or if there were others. I normally hate to be singled out, even if it is for a good reason, so definitely not for something like a lay-off. They obviously could not comment on my question for legal reasons, but I later learned that there were more jobs cut the same day. Phew. Relief. My second question was obviously about where and when to return my laptop, badge, etc. I did not have any other clarifying question. While it is always better to dump than be dumped, I handled it quite well, I think. It seemed like quite devastating news on the face value, but it didn’t hit me like one. I did confuse myself at first, but I figured that maybe because I wasn’t too attached to what I was doing. I am still trying to find my calling. The point is I am a silver lining person. Maybe a little too much for my own good. So something like this made me a little sad for some time, but then it made me very happy shortly after. Maybe because I didn’t think this was that bad a thing. Or maybe because I thought something better is in store for me. For now that ‘something better’ involves sleeping a whole lot, shopping, making baby quilts, working out, writing, and maybe more shopping. I am definitely not complaining. I haven’t not worked in the last 10 years, but this took me no time at all to get used to. So I might actually continue to do this for at least the next several weeks, if not months. That is my no-plan plan, and I am kind of digging it.

Here is another interesting thing about this whole experience. I got the news of my lay off on Wednesday morning. I picked up my belongings and left the building within 5 minutes because I did not want to spend any more time there. I am a little impulsive and not at all practical that way. I came home and cooked something, folded the laundry, had lunch with Siddhu, and cleaned the house a little. And then it was time to pick up the kids from the day care. The routine was just the usual once the kids came home. They were running around, screaming, playing, hungry, fighting, reading, drawing, and creating a mess. Nothing out of ordinary. It sort of puts things in perspective. About what is really important in life. It could be different things for different people. And I know what it is for me. It is my family. Funny enough, Siddhu, My bro\Amz (wifey) & my sis\Sudh (hubby) were all rather happy to hear about my news. Kind of weird, but they were. My mom was a little upset, but she is an overly emotional being. So it was just fascinating to see what my family brought to the table and it was quite a spectacular combo, I must say.

So maybe, bad isn’t that bad. Maybe, good isn’t that good. The point is not to highlight this as a grim reality or even boast about a positive attitude, but to highlight what is truly important. Highlight the game of perspective, yet again.


Throw back Monday - because I can. But more importantly - because there is sun, there is family, and there is all things important.

My Positivity

Normally we are not that big into Halloween. We are not that creative or crazy about it. We do stuff because we have kids and because we have company. We never took Sammy & Rehan for trick or treating so far. But we did this year. Rehan definitely enjoyed the idea of grabbing candies and putting them in his stash. Sammy wasn’t terribly thrilled, but maybe she will be next year. I was super thrilled that we took our kids for trick or treat first time ever. Hung out with awesome people. Ate fabulous food. And had fun while at it. What more could one ask for? And just in case you were wondering, Sammy dressed as a University of Washington cheerleader & Rehan dressed as a homeless guy.