Summer 2017

Another year is done. Another Summer is gone. Where is time flying? We usually always keep waiting for Summers around here, but this is probably the first time, we seem to be enjoying what ever time we have. And I think we have kids growing up to thank for that. As they get older, it’s getting easy for us to navigate the coldness and the inconvenience that comes with it.

Anyway, this post is about Summer, I need to stop ranting about other stuff. πŸ™‚ So our summer this year was busy too. My parents were here, which was good help. Kids were grown up a bit more. We had a full size car with us. And fate decided to not torture us too much, so we could keep our heads above water and enjoy the time we had.

Every year, good weather and outdoor trips begin with Murali’s birthday. This year was his 40th milestone birthday. We had some fun. Before my parents joined, we went to this Deception Falls and we just loved it. Just at the right season, water flow was awesome. Some of the trail was still covered in water. We did the complete trial loop with kids and I realized how a little more grown-up kids are. πŸ™‚

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We attempted a proper full hike to Twin falls, but didn’t complete it. πŸ™‚

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On cloudy days, we went to a Gold Creek Pond. There still was a bit snow. But the view was beautiful.

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Couple of more mini-day trips here and there, to just let us get out of the house. This year, good weather came late to us. We were stuck with many of cold/raining days.

One of the long weekends, Murali and I went on a hike together after a long time to Poo Poo Point. I forgot to write about what all we did that weekend, but it was such a fun weekend.

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We bought a small-sized pool for kids and even with the minimum water we had in there, they had fun. πŸ™‚

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My parents came over here then, and with kid’s school we enjoyed a good day trip a ferry to a Mukilteo Island. We celebrated my dad’s birthday here. And also we made our Friday night dinners a more regular thing, so I was looking forward to them every week.

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We loved Deception Falls so much, we took our parents there again. Scenery and drive was quite beautiful.

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A long drive to Grand Coulee dam and ultimately finding a Soap Lake was wonderful. We didn’t know about this place before. We don’t have any warm water lakes here. Even in peak summer, water is cold. So this one was a wonderful surprise. We will go there again, in the coming year.

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Kids also turned five this year. Again, where did the last five years go? πŸ™‚

Then came the memorable time of my year. My break from work. Two good months. Luckily, I got to write about these separately, but I need to still write about kid’s first hiking trips this year. It was another great aspect of our summer.

We went to Mt St Helens and as well as Mt Baker before my parents left. Both the trips were day long trips and so worth it.

I am sure there was more here than I can remember now. Evenings we spent in the backyard with my parents; Having good food available; Scooter and bike rides; Our walks; Murali’s trips to India, London and Paris; Kid’s play dates – all the crazy and weird things they said and did. It was a good summer. πŸ™‚

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Hawaii Trip – Oahu

Okay. If there is one post I must write this year, it’s about our most awesome Hawaii trip back in September. We have been waiting to go to Hawaii for don’t remember how long now, and it finally happened this year. After much of planning and discussions, we decided to head to Oahu. And it was the best decision ever. I think Hawaii is just such an awesome place, that no matter what you decide to do, where you go, you would love it.

We did this trip before I went back to work, so I had that thought in my head that when the trip ends, I need to go back to work, but as long as I was near water, I mostly forgot about the return trip. πŸ™‚

We chose to stay in a very busy Waikiki area, which was close to the beach, shopping, food etc and that was a great decision. We could step out of our condo, cross the street and head into water. Not to mention the awesome views from our place. We started with a 12th floor apartment, which wasnt good enough for me, so Murali got us moved to the 20th floor. Even more awesome view of the beach. We had a kitchen, lanai (balcony) with awesome views, some food we took over, and we had many fun moments in that lanai.

I can’t tell you what the best thing was. Is it the views or being in that warm water or having to wear what you want. I cant really decide. πŸ™‚

And because I am mostly writing this post for my memory, I will just copy paste my short trip memory here. We stayed there for 7 days, we did so much, so I wrote it all down in this form. We must have seen the pictures a dozen times. We are even getting special albums made, just for this trip. πŸ™‚

Β Day 1 : Thursday— Flight, check in, water Waikiki, walk around.

Β Day 2: Friday— water Waikiki, walk around, Tiki’s MaiΒ Tai, move to 20th floor.

Β Day 3: Saturday — morning walk groceries, Murali’s vankaya curry, car pickup, North shore drive, Waimea bay, Lunch by the beach, Waimea falls hike and swim, turtle bay resort, sunset beach park, Amazing food pickup.

Β Day 4: Sunday — Birthday breakfast, Wearing a romper :), Dole plantation, Waikiki water in the evening

Β Day 5: Monday— Waimanalo beach, Lanikai , Hanauma bay snorkelling,food pickup at the same Indian restaurant.

Β Day 6: Tuesday — Waikiki water morning, shopping,Β  Hula dance, Coconut water, Pizza dinner

Β Day 7: Wednesday — Waikiki water morning, parasailing, Cheesecake Factory dinner, Night walk and kids dancing on beach

Β Day 8: Thursday— Water morning again, checkout, shopping, Abhi in water, rest by the umbrella, Thai dinner, fly back.

Wasn’t it packed? Since we were staying so close, we did the Waikiki beach water many times. This pool was just so awesome. We sincerely thanked the inventors of floaties. They are awesome. πŸ™‚

Two things that didn’t go well were that because of the time difference, we were so tired. We would wake up early, but then stay late by our time standard and we just felt exhausted. As much fun as it was in the water, that tired us out too. Second thing, Abhi got sick on day 2. Poor thing, he is a water baby. He had a gala time on day 1, but until the day we came back, he was little hesitant to go in. He had fever + cold and it made it little hard for us to clean and change two kids when they were cold.

I also celebrated my birthday during this trip. Kids made me breakfast and we got to enjoy it in our amazing balcony. That was great.

I will leave with some pictures, and hope I will come back and write more about each day.

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This was the view from our balcony. We spent many good and memorable moments here.
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One of the many times we had so much fun in the water. You got to love that view. πŸ™‚
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One beautiful beach. One of many many. πŸ™‚
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Hula Dance by the beach.
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Murali and kids drew everyday of their view. Of course, Murali drew the right version. πŸ™‚

I am waiting for our printed albums. I do want to come back and write more then. πŸ™‚ This is one such amazing trip and we cant wait to go back. πŸ™‚

Books 2017

So when I decide to come back here and finally force myself to write something after a long gap, it’s a good idea to write about whats on my mind right? Luckily its something I am proud of because I have done better than I did in the last couple of years. I read more than I read in years. And I think, I have my break from work to thank for that.

Like I mentioned in my break post, during the months of August and September, reading a book was my go to activity. I could never make the time or mind before. Sometimes, I would have time but I would be too distracted with what was going on. Fortunately, my mind seems to have realized that reading itself is a distraction from other things going on. Some people can read books easily, some cant. It took some time and effort to get into that later routine.

So, don’t ask me about what I read before August. I looked at my library borrowing history and remembered Dune and 1984 that I was trying to read. I couldn’t finish Dune because I was too distracted back then. 1984 because, I honestly didn’t like it. It was too dry and depressing for my taste. Sometime starting in August, I started keeping my list updated and I am so proud of that fact that, in the last 4 months, I have read 8 books. Not too bad with all that is going on with my life. πŸ™‚

I read a combination of classics and easy reads. I also tried non-fiction books. One of the books, I made some progress on, but couldn’t finish was Cosmos. It was such a good read. I saw the latest TV series couple of times, but it was nice to read the original version. Another classic I didn’t finish was Anne Frank – Dairy of a young girl.Β  I really wanted to know more about their life during the time, but felt if I read this book years ago, I may have liked it. Some of the stories were really petty, given she was a young girl and I didn’t want to continue reading. Maybe it got better later on.

Now, the books I got to finish: Girl On The Train – Easy read. Kept me going. I guessed who the murderer was, before the ending, so it was just a matter of confirming that. πŸ™‚ His Majesty’s Dragon –Β  Very interesting story, but the storytelling wasn’t that engaging for me. I read the same author’s Uprooted later and liked it much better. It was a simpler story but I liked it better.

Then came the classic Fahrenheit 451. I guess when people start calling books classics, I immediately set high expectations. πŸ™‚ The story and the times of the books were really great, but again, I didn’t feel like the story was developed much. I am glad it was a short book. πŸ™‚ So, I picked next Murder on the Orient Express.Β It was an easy read again, I was flipping pages back and forth trying to remember the characters. Ending was unexpected, which was nice. I wanted to watch the movie if the story was great, but skipped the movie. Reading was enough.

Next came a classic that was highly recommended by my dad, Good EarthΒ : a book he read years ago. I am glad this book was also an easy read. I initially really liked the story. But the way women were treated felt so wrong to me. I know it was a different time, but still I couldn’t get myself to empathize with the protagonist and the society’s treatment of many things. But I could see why this was a classic.

I seemed to have followed a pattern here. πŸ™‚ Classic followed by my type of genre. My next read was Ready Player One. I had high hopes,Β especially after I saw the movie trailer. I did think the book would probably be liked more by young audience. I liked it just okay. But I do want to see all the actions on the scene. That will be cool.

Alright, my last book of the year and the one I loved the most – The Book Thief. Here is the book I started reading knowing it was a classic and loved it so much. The way past was pictured, as well as the life back then; Different characters in the book – it was awesome. For the first time in years, I stayed up really late and woke up early to read and finish this book. I swear, the book made me. πŸ™‚

I do have Broken Earth: Five Seasons sitting on my night table now. I have to return it in 10 days, so I know I wont be able to finish it. But it will be the book I hope I will get to finish. I really loved how I could read 2 books a month, but being realistic and knowing my work expectations for next months, I hope I can read at least one book a month. πŸ™‚

Halloween 2017

I went back and looked up all my Halloween posts starting 2013. I almost forgot our best Halloween of 2014 and reading that was so good. It was indeed a fun Halloween for all of us. So, to help me track better for next years, here are my Halloween 2013, Halloween 2014, Halloween 2015 and mini post Halloween 2016.

So this year’s Halloween, kids interest went up, and mine went down. It still turned out to be a good Halloween. For the first time, I bought a costume as well. A Samurai Warrior, only because it was on sale for $5. πŸ™‚

Abhi got his costume couple of weeks ago. He was going to be Spider-Man. Achu wanted to be a butterfly. But in order to set a different bar, I don’t buy her these type of costumes. It’s also because these stores don’t give little girls any other choice. When we first looked at Costco, boys had different superheroes and other costumes and for girls, it’s all fairies, butterflies etc. There was no single super hero costume for girls. So, I made her not buy the first butterfly costume she saw and took her to a Halloween store later. Just so she would have better choices.

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Trying to get scared. These scare Abhi, but not Achu anymore.
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I could be a fox. πŸ™‚

At the store, after looking at every costume, Achu found a Captain America costume for girls (with a tutu 😑 ) and a Cleopatra costume. I liked the Cleopatra one because it would give me a chance to teach her out about the queen and the history. Plus it came with shiny things, so Achu was happy too. She picked out Cleopatra finally and the day both the kids tried on their costumes, they couldn’t stop smiling. πŸ™‚

Next few days, we got our Halloween decorations out, went to pumpkin patch with their friends, We used the same decorations as last year. We didn’t add much to our stock this year (That would be because of my lack of interest with decorating these days).

Last Friday, we took the kids out with their friends to the Halloween fest at my work place. It helps we all moms also work for the same company. Our plans align. Friday evening, it turned out to be so crowded, we couldn’t get into any of the rides. We did quick trick or treating and found the one attraction that wasn’t crowded. An inflatable maze. Achu loves to go round and round and she took all her friends in around multiple times. We couldn’t get the kids out, so we moms had to split up to drive them all out. Later we just let them run around in the grass and they had their own fun. πŸ™‚

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Run in the maze…
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Every time they come to my office they leave me notes. πŸ™‚
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This is what I got this time. πŸ™‚

The day of Halloween, we took them out to trick or treating at the town center. That turned to be too crowded as well. Although kids got good candy, next time we are just going to stick to our neighborhood. Because its more traditional, simple and still super fun.

I don’t know what it is about trick or treating, but it always puts me in good mood. Kids and I walked from house to house, looking at the decorations, getting candy and other treats. We also went to their friend’s house again (like we haven’t seen them an hour ago πŸ™‚ ). One of the neighbors offered tea for the parents, and that was so thoughtful. It was cold outside and it was lovely to have tea on the road and trick or treat with kids.

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Trick or treat ….

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Our buckets were full; I didn’t count how many houses we went to, but it was simple super fun. Abhi finally got tired and went home, but Achu one more house, like a dozen times, before I forced her to come home. πŸ™‚ Looking at others decorations made me wish I decorated more, so I am going to force myself to do that for Christmas. Next HalloweenΒ  must be made a fantastic one. πŸ˜€

 

 

Caring Kids

One of the most important things of being a mother is, I think, you have a good group of supporters around you. It is also equally important that your kids have a good group around them. And I am glad Abhi and Achu have one. When they were three years old, we met this gang of three friends and their moms; and we are still in touch with them. Even though kids went to different schools, we stayed in touch. Through play dates, events etc., and I have genuinely come to like all the three kids. They are a lovely bunch.

Abhi and Achu go to different classes now, in Kindergarten. And luckily two of their friends from this group of ours, are in Achu’s class. Even better now, because they are growing closer (at the same time fighting more πŸ™‚ ). Moms of these two kids and I also hang around a lot.Β Even though they fight and patch-up every few minutes πŸ™‚ , I know they got along very well. What I didn’t realize until yesterday was how caring they are towards one another.

Yesterday, we went trick or treating together. After kids got bored, we let them play in a small park while M’s mom and I sat down chatting. Few minutes later, Achu comes to me for a drink and is trying to go back to play. This little place had a gate, which was blocked with other kids and she was patiently waiting for her turn.

And then the sweetest thing happens. I was just watching Achu trying to get in, that I never realized when M came to the gate as well. You know why? He came to help Achu get into the park. I had no idea he was watching her. He comes close to the gate, puts his left hand out to stop other kids, gives his other hand to Achu and then they both go in together to play. I was simply awe struck looking at that care. I was so glad Achu was on the receiving end of this caring gesture, but just think about a five year old, stopping his play to come help his friend. So adorable.

This morning, before leaving for school, Abhi runs up stairs to grab one of M’s cards. Apparently super important to M and he forgot at our house last weekend, Abhi remembered to take care of it and take it with him to school today. M needs this, he says.

M’s mom told me about this incident at the park when she had Achu and M with her. Apparently M was climbing a rock, Achu was too. M stops in middle and tells her, “I can go further up, but I wont go because you will follow me and you might fall down”. πŸ™‚

When M is home for a play date,Β  Achu is always the mediator. M and Abhi are bound to fight and Achu will be there trying to make peace between them.

At school, Achu’s class is dealing with a difficult kid and I heard this morning and these kids stand-up to the other kid, together. I feel so proud. Even though this kid’s behavior is very troubling, they all are trying to be nice and are supporting him. How sweet are these kids!!

I sure hope this friendship will stay. That they wont lose each other and will always have these caring friends around them.

 

Changes

I need to write this post today. I needed to write it actually for several days now. First it was the back to work worries, then the personal life gloom looming over my head for quite some time. Weeks or months or years, I cant tell. But finally today is making me write this post.

I did something in the morning today. I said something out aloud. For the first time probably, I am not sure. Said it in front of kids. While tears came pouring out for the next few mins, I realized I felt so much better. Not sure what the next few years have in store for me, but just saying it out aloud just felt good because I think I may be one step closer to what I was thinking about. Something I have been thinking about for some time now. Its also my nightmare scenario, weird I am looking forward to my nightmare scenario. In a way, I need to, because the alternative sucks even more. Much much more. And that alternative is not what I want for my short short life.

So while I was crying, I was holding Abhi and he immediately stated crying too. Poor thing. He must have been so scared. I said sorry to him and cryingly he replies, “Its okay Amma”. And hugged me. Achu came upstairs to see what was happening. Adorably she was checking on Abhi first. Interestingly, Abhi and I, both were trying to hide tears from her. Dont know why. Before we came in, we both wiped our tears and were just hugging. “It’s okay”, she told me as well.

We were heading downstairs later, getting ready for school, and Abhi’s underwear was outside the bathroom. Achu asks him, “Abhi, Do you want me to put your underwear in the laundry box for you?”

Abhi replies, “Yes. Thank you Achu.”

Without anybody asking, she thought she should help him, because he was upset. How kind she is. And Abhi was doing the same to me. What sweet children I have. They are my weakness, because I worry about their future; But they are also my strength, because I know what they deserve.

And you know what I noticed after kids left. Instead of bawling my eyes out again, I was looking outside. It was raining and it was beautiful. For few minutes, I saw how beautiful it was. While driving to work, I saw an ambulance outside one of the offices and thought, oh! somebody is having a worse day than I am. I saw pics of wild fire destroyed homes in California and felt bad for them. At least, for now, I have a roof on my head. I dont know where these changes in me came from. I guess that is one of learnings life taught me. Earlier, I would be so depressed about what is happening, but today I finally feel I accepted it and am at peace. May be tomorrow I will feel different about future, but if today was an example, I think I will get to my peace, slowly.

Anyway, here is my cheer-up ending. We came back from a trip to Hawaii, said bye-bye to our summer decorations and bought the Halloween stuff out. Surprisingly, I am least interested in buying new decor now. I didn’t even do any furniture paintings this year. Just lost interest. Kids, however, still love these things and I think we will head to the store this weekend to buy more.

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And then, Welcome Halloween.

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Precious Days

As my two month long vacation comes to an end, the thing that I loved most is that I got to spend quality time with kids. That was one of my goals and am so glad I got to do it. (It seems like we all parents should spend quality time with kids every day, not just on vacations, but sadly such is not the case πŸ˜”). 

When kids were still in preschool, I had them stay with me for two days a week. We got to go out on hikes, read books, play and etc. Once the school closed, I had them staying home with me and these couple of days, with just three of us alone, are the most precious days, I think. 

Surely it was more work but I felt so good about it. It is easily one of the best times I had with kids. 

I didn’t set a daily routine for them, but what I had was couple of things that needed to be done every day. Like reading and doing work books. Kids loved to do it and I loved doing it with them. So in the secret hideout we assigned for this work, we spent some time every day. I so love teaching kids something new. We did crazy math problems, learnt about money and just about read a hundred books. It’s so precious to watch them read too. Watching your kid read is easily one of the most memorable milestones. It is just so awesome. 

One of the other things I loved about these days is that, Abhi and Achu came back to their usual sweet playing together mode. At least, at this age they are great playing with each other. They invent a ton of pretend games, use pillows and blankets to make forts, and also build silly machines that build silly things. Together, they color, cut paper and use glue like there is no tomorrow. Even at bed time, they talk non-stop about everything until I go yell at them. Their free time play plans are never ending. Never. 😊 And I am so glad it’s that way. It’s amazing to see your kids get along and play with each other. I sure hope it will stay this way forever. 

Next thing we did together was go to parks. And this is what bummed me out big time. We never took kids to parks as much as I did now. I mean we did a bit, but you know we could have done it so much more. But we didn’t. It took me a vacation to figure this simple thing out. Really. During these couple of days, I took kids to park almost twice every day. There were days when the weather was better, we played, came home to eat and went back to play. I also discovered new parks around and they are so good and important for kids play. I always worried kids are behind on their motor skills, never occurred to me that we should have taken them out more. Rain or shine. 


With cold weather coming, we essentially shut ourselves inside home, and only head out on few planned trips. I need to break it this time. We need to head out more. 

With time and energy on my hands, I gave them healthy food. Made sure they got their proper servings of fruits, veggies and dairy. Fed them carefully. Made them extra snacks. Took them on small walks as well. Planned a day out with them and spent 3 hours watching them play. Helped Achu get better at her scooter rides. Took them to eat out; Even played hide and seek with them in a store.πŸ˜ƒ I even reduced their tv time to one hour and made a new no ask policy. The rule is still working great. πŸ˜ƒ



Truly gave them my best and treated them the best. Didn’t get to yelling or hurrying them over anything. Sometimes it’s great when you don’t have to go somewhere and can just follow kids. I had those wonderful days with them. I will always cherish these precious days. Where they were my number one priority and I had nothing else to attend to. 

Soon all this is going to change. I will have so many other things to worry about and kids will be just another thing. It’s truly sad to see that as a parent I don’t have the freedom to choose what I want to do and spend more quality time with kids. Instead I have to bow to rules and obligations and lose what should be precious moments. I hope I will do better than how it was when I was working previously. I can only hope and pray.