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


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. 

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.